My Madder Fatter Diary (Rae Earl)

My Madder Fatter Diary is the second collection of diary entries Rae Earl wrote as a teenager. It follows the events after My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary.
Finished on: 10.8.2017

Plot:
It’s 1990. Rae has to face her A Levels and figure out what she can and wants to do next. But figuring yourself out is a tall order even when you don’t struggle with your mother, have mental health issues and no proper help with that, when you aren’t fat or in love with the most gorgeous guy on earth. That means that life’s a tall order for Rae, but at least she has the big personality to match it.

My Madder Fatter Diary manages to bring Rae’s story to a nice conclusion (as much as you can bring a life story that doesn’t end in death to a conclusion). It’s a hugely enjoyable and emotional read that I absolutely loved.

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My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary (Rae Earl)

My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary (renamed after the TV show to My Mad Fat Diary) is a collection of diary entries Rae Earl wrote as a teenager.
Finished on: 17.7.2017

Plot:
It’s the 80s. Rae is 17, mad about boys and music and lives with her mother in a council house. She’s also struggling. The relationship with her mother is strained, but that’s the least of her problems. Rae is fat which makes her incredibly insecure and she also has mental health issues that make her life even more difficult. But she’s also funny, smart and there are the boys in her neighborhood to obsess about.

I watched the TV show based on this book (and its sequel) and fell in love with it pretty immediately. And now that I finally picked up the book, I loved it, too.

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Ash (Malinda Lo)

Ash is a novel by Malinda Lo, a retelling of Cinderella.
Finished on: 23.6.2017

Plot:
After her mother’s death, Ash and her father were very close until he brought home a new wife. When he died shortly thereafter, and Ash was left alone with her stepmother, things turned for the worst. Now, with a stepmother prone to violent outbursts, the only solace Ash can find is in the fairy tale books she reads. It’s no surprise that she starts to wish, fairies would come and take her away. What is more surprising is that an actual fairy prince, Sidhean, seems to hear her wishes and comes to bring Ash some solace. But then she meets Kaisa, a beautiful, strong huntress, and her wishes start changing.

Ash is a beautiful, queer retelling of Cinderella with the dangerous kind of fairies – what’s not to love about that? I don’t know, because I sure did.

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The Tombs of Atuan (Ursula K. Le Guin)

The Tombs of Atuan is the second of the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Finished on: 21.6.2017
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
Tenar is the high priestess to the Nameless Ones who guard the Tombs of Atuan. She’s been chosen as a child for her role, renamed Arha and she’s always tried to do her best, even when her duties involved ordering the killing of prisoners. But one night, she finds a man, the wizard Ged, in the labyrinth under the tombs and traps him there. But she can’t bring herself to do her duty and let him starve. Instead they start to talk and Tenar starts to question the way things are for her.

The first of the Earthsea novels wasn’t really my cup of tea, and it was the second book of Le Guin’s that I didn’t click with, so it took me a while to get around to this novel. And much to my surprise, I actually … liked it.

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Der junge Herr Justus (Marie Louise Fischer)

Der junge Herr Justus is the first novel in the Weigand Saga by Marie Louise Fischer.
Finished on: 17.6.2017

Plot:
Justus is a medical student in Berlin and he takes his studies very seriously indeed. That is why he didn’t have time yet to meet his cousin Clementine who works as a maid in Berlin. To be fair, he’s also not particularly interested in meeting her and be reminded of their small town roots. But on New Year’s Eve 1899/1900, they have a date. Clementine is incredibly excited, having always hoped that Justus will want to continue the puppy love they experienced as kids. But things don’t quite work out that way. Not only is there a child – born out of wedlock to Clementine’s colleague Rosa – that Justus claims as his own, but Justus also meets the beautiful and rich Stephanie von Stucken and falls for her.

While the book touches on many issues that would have been interesting to read about, it is more interested in sensationalist twists and turns rather than a thoughtful approach.

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The Vegetarian (Han Kang)

The Vegetarian is a novel by Han Kang. It’s based on her own short story The Fruit of my Woman. I read the translation to English by Deborah Smith.
Finished on: 8.6.2017

Plot:
Mr. Cheong has been married for Yeong-hye for several years, leading a quiet, unremarkable life, which is just the way he wants it. But that changes rather drastically when, after a series of bloody dreams, Yeong-hye suddenly decides to stop eating meat. This decision singles Yeong-hye out and with it comes a distance from her family and deep discomfort for Cheong, who just wants things to be normal.

The Vegetarian is a very interesting book that works on many levels, except – at least for me – on the emotional one. Even as I appreciated the novel on an intellectual level, I remained at a curious distance, never really feeling the impact of events.

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Wild Embrace (Nalini Singh)

Wild Embrace is a collection of novellas in the Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 13.5.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Wild Embrace is a nice collection that will please fans of the series. It’s probably not a good starting point if you want to get an impression of that particular series as it does require quite a bit knowledge of the world. I definitely enjoyed it, some parts of it more than others.

After the jump, I’ll talk about each of the novellas separately.

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Re-Read: The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel by Margaret Atwood.
Finished on: 25.4.2017

Plot:
Offred is a handmaid in Gilead, which used to be known as the USA. Being a handmaid means she is assigned to an important family where her job is to become pregnant and reproduce for the family, as many people struggle with fertility issues. Women in general are severely limited in their rights in Gilead. But Offred managed to hold on to a last shred of wanting more than her assigned lot.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale in school many years ago and some of its imagery burned themselves into my brain. But I don’t think I appreciated the book for all that it offers at that time. I am pretty sure that I understood and liked it more reading it now.

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Holding Up the Universe (Jennifer Niven)

Holding Up the Universe is a novel by Jennifer Niven.
Finished on: 22.4.2017

Plot:
Libby is trying to have a fresh start in her life. After becoming so fat that she couldn’t leave her bed anymore, she got help, lost some of the weight and is ready to stop being home-schooled and start high school. For real. And maybe meet a cute boy. Jack is definitely a cute boy, popular and athletic. But he hides a secret from everybody: he suspects that he has prosopagnosia, a condition where he can’t recognize anybody’s face. He’s been coping well enough, mostly by carefully fitting in. When Libby and Jack meet it is pretty much under the worst possible circumstances. But their shared feeling of being different from everybody else is also an opportunity for them.

Holding Up the Universe is a very cute book that I very much enjoyed reading. In fact, I blazed through it and finished it within a day. It’s a lovely romance with two unusual characters that I both liked.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Fair Rebel (Steph Swainston)

Fair Rebel is the fifth novel in the Fourlands Series by Steph Swainston.
[Here are my reviews of the others.]
Finished on: 18.4.2017

Plot:
15 years have passed since the Emperor San and the Vermiform clashed. By now the Fourlands have discovered gunpowder and are ready for a last big strike against the insects. But before they can actually carry it out, it turns out that the gunpowder has been tampered with and has been liberally mixed with sand. This discovery sends Jant, the Emperor’s messenger, on a chase to find the culprit and the missing gunpowder – before things are blown up that aren’t insects.

Fair Rebel finally returns to the Fourlands (although it wasn’t that long of a wait for me because I was a little later in discovering the series, but the last one before this one was a prequel, so anyway) and it does so with a bang – quite literally. As usual, I very much loved reading about this world and was excited about the new twist and turns the story makes.

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