The Drawing of the Three (Stephen King)

The Drawing of the Three is the second novel in the The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. [Here’s my review of the first one, The Gunslinger.]
Finished on: 7.10.2016

Plot:
After the encounter with the Man in Black, Roland wakes on a beach, the Man in Black’s tarot reading of his fate still ringing in his ear. Before Roland can get his bearings, he is attacked and injured by lobstrosities. In an increasingly weakened state, he starts to move along the beach in search of the Three that were announced to him as his partners. It’s then that he stumbles upon a door that stands on its own on the beach. When Roland opens it, he is transported to another world, New York City, which is deeply connected to his own.

The Drawing of the Three is an exciting read that left me wanting more (fortunately there is more), although there were also things I didn’t exactly like about it.

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Tschick (Wolfgang Herrndorf)

Tschick [literally a slang word for cigarette, at least in Austria; in this case the name of a character] is a novel by Wolfgang Herrndorf.
Finished on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
14 year old Maik is one of those kids who don’t really register and when he does, he’s perceived as weird. Like when he read that homework about his mother and her alcoholism, leading to absolute incomprehension from teacher and students alike. His class mate Tschick on the other hand registers everywhere, despite – or maybe because – rarely showing up in school, and when he does, he’s often drunk. When Maik and Tschick are the only people not invited to the birthday party of popular girl Tanja, Tschick kind of adopts Maik. And even though Maik is uncomfortable at first, when Tschick shows up with an old car and invites Maik to go on an adventure, Maik doesn’t have to think long about the empty summer ahead of him to agree to go along.

Tschick is a nice, quick read with a cool story. I don’t know exactly why it got as popular as it is, but it’s fun to read in any case.

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Dog Boy (Eva Hornung)

Dog Boy is a novel by Eva Hornung (aka Eva Sallis).
Finished on: 23.9.2016

Plot:
When Romochka is four years old, he finds himself all alone and hungry, his mother doesn’t seem to be coming back to him. As he wanders through the streets of Moscow, he sees a dog and starts to follow it. The dog leads him home to its den where it lives with its puppies and their pack. It soon transforms into a second mother for Romochka, and Romochka himself transforms as well as he adapts to his life as a dog.

Dog Boy captures realistically how a child growing up with a wild pack of dogs could play out and packages that into an intriguing story with a strong first half and a weaker second half.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Fingersmith (Sarah Waters)

Fingersmith is a novel by Sarah Waters.
Finished on: 17.9.2016

Plot:
Sue lives with her adoptive family who ply their trade as thieves and with various cons. When a regular collaborator with them, Richard Rivers, called the Gentleman suggests a new con, Sue suddenly finds herself training to become a maid to the rich Maud Lilly. Maud lives in a remote estate, Briar, with her uncle Christopher Lilly, an avid book collector. Gentleman was a guest of theirs and saw the perfect opportunity: he would marry Maud and then get rid of her, but keep her money. All he needs is a confidante who makes sure that Maud makes the right decisions. And so Sue travels to Briar to make sure their plan goes off without a hitch.

Fingersmith was an absolutely fantastic read. Vivid characters, perfect setting, one of the best plot twists in the history of plot twists and a whole lot of feminism. What more could you possibly ask for?

waters_fingersmith

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The Cockatrice Boys (Joan Aiken)

The Cockatrice Boys is a young adult/children’s novel by Joan Aiken.
Finished on: 10.9.2016

Plot:
The United Kingdom is facing a plague of monsters, called cockatrices, of all shapes and sizes that pretty much overran the entire country. But there are the Cockatrice Corps, an army special unit dedicated to fight the monsters. As they ride the train across the country fighting monsters along the way, they are joined by Dakin as a drummer boy and a little later by his cousin Sauna who seems to have a way of knowing things she couldn’t know and who has spent the last few years tied up at her aunts place so she doesn’t break anything. And maybe those two are just what the Corps needed to finally get ahead in the fight.

The Cockatrice Boys didn’t really convince me, unfortunately. I thought it was often confusing and rarely all that funny. It just left me scratching my head.

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Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei (H.C. Artmann)

Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei. Von der Erschaffung der Welt und ihren Dingen is a collection of fairy tales/myths by H.C. Artmann. The title literally means: The sun was a green egg. Of the creation of the world and its things.
Finished on 5.9.2016

Plot:
The creation of the world as you’ve never seen it before: Maybe the sun really is an egg. Maybe Coffee Mill and Paper Kite are responsible for the creation of living things. Or maybe it was a magician and false prophet. Or…

Artmann created some very fantastic (in the literal sense) and weird stories, but in some ways they are more of the same old, same old – especially with regards to sexism. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the collection for the most part.

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The Fall (Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan)

The Fall is the second novel in The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Finished on: 1.9.2016
[Here’s my review of The Strain.]

Plot [with SPOILERS for the The Strain]:
The vampires have effectively taken over the world and the Master doesn’t need much more to achieve his goals, supported by billionaire Eldritch Palmer who is still hoping for immortality. In New York, there are only a few pockets of resistance left. One of them is the group surrounding Ephraim and his son Zach, who are both still reeling after Zach’s mother and Ephraim’s ex-wife Kelly was turned into a vampire. Their group further consists of Abraham Setrakian who has been fighting vampires all his life, Nora Martinez, Ephraim’s former colleague at the CDC and Vasily Fet, an exterminator who sees vampires as yet another pest. On their own, they will stand no chance against the vampire threat. But they still have to try.

The Fall couldn’t quite keep up with The Strain, taking a few turns that I didn’t like that much and leaving a couple of things unclear. I still want to know how everything will end, but my enthusiasm has notably cooled.

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Auroras Anlaß [Aurora’s Motive] (Erich Hackl)

Aurora’s Anlaß is the first novel by Erich Hackl. It was translated as Aurora’s Motive and is based on the actual lives of Aurora Rodríguez and her daughter Hildegart Rodríguez.
Finished on: 28.8.2016.

Plot:
One day, Aurora Rodríguez gets up in the morning, takes a gun and shoots her teenaged daughter Hildegart with whom she has always been close. Then she goes to the police to confess. Aurora brought up Hildegart on her own, and she worked extremely hard to groom her into a feminist, critical thinker and political leader – and Hildegart was a highly gifted girl who showed every promise to fufill her mother’s dream. So what could have possibly led her to do what she did?

With Auroras Anlaß, Hackl combines historical research with literary writing and a dash of journalism, telling a fascinating (true) story in an extremely intriguing way.

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Company Town (Madeline Ashby)

Company Town is a novel by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on 25.8.2016.

Plot:
New Arcadia is a city and a huge oil rig off the Canadian coast run by the Lynch Company. Hwa is one of the many residents. She works as a bodyguard for the local escort services and the sex workers’ union. It’s pretty much the only work available to her, on the one hand because she is a martial arts expert, but on the other hand because she doesn’t have any bio-engineered augmentations like everybody else – Hwa has Sturge-Weber Syndrome and was never deemed worthy for investments like this by her mother. Those facts are also what bring her to the attention of the elderly head of the Lynch Company, Jonathan Lynch. His heir Joel is being threatened, so he hires Hwa as a bodyguard for him. Hwa’s loyalties are torn, though, as her former protegées are being murdered most gruesomely and she really needs to figure out what’s going on.

Ashby very much won me over with her previous novels, vN and iD. Company Town isn’t connected to those two, but shares with them a smart and in-depth look at a possible technological and political development from an innovative angle. I loved it.

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The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts is a novel by M.R. Carey (aka Mike Carey).
Finished on: 21.8.2016

Plot:
Melanie has a very regular life. She gets up in the morning, gets dressed, sits herself down in her chair and waits to be strapped down by the soldiers lead by Sergeant Parks. When her legs, arms and head are secure, she is rolled to class together with the other children. Her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau who sometimes tells them stories. But her routine is destroyed when she is first carted off by Dr. Caldwell who wants to perform some kind of surgery on her – and then the military base she lives at is overrun by hungries. And suddenly Melanie finds her life turned upside down – and she has to learn the truth about her world and herself.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a wonderful novel. Gripping plot, vivid characters and a take on zombie lore that feels entirely fresh and new. Simply lovely.

carey_thegirlwithallthegifts[SPOILERS]

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