Jane Austen is great, whether in fragments or finished. I very much enjoyed reading all three of the story (parts), although I’m actually happy that Sanditon remained a fragment because I would have different plans for the characters than Austen most likely intended and this way, the path is free for me to imagine it all. In any case, if you enjoy her finished and polished novels, it’s definitely worth checking out her other works as well.
After the jump, I’ll talk about each work separately.
As an avid reader of Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, I had to grab this anthology, of course, even though I’m not familiar with the other series that were featured with novellas here. The resulting collection and my reading experiences were pretty mixed. It’s a quick read in any case.
After the jump I’ll talk about the four novellas separately.
A Darker Shade of Magic is the first book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab [aka Victoria Schwab].
Finished on: 12.10.2016
Kell is one of the last people who is able to cross between the Londons – Red London, where he is from, is a place where magic is harmoniously built into life; Grey London doesn’t have any magic; White London is constantly under new and bloody leadership and bleeds magic in this fight; Black London has long been lost and can’t be accessed anymore. Kell is supposed to be an ambassador between the worlds, but he has a sidebusiness smuggling artefacts between the worlds. But when he finds a mysterious artefact that may or may not be from Black London, Kell is quickly in deep trouble. Especially when he meets Lila, a thief in Grey London who senses that there’s more to Kell than just a purse and is set on going on an adventure with him.
A Darker Shade of Magic is a nice, quick read that I enjoyed, although I didn’t absolutely loved it. I wouldn’t have minded if there had been only one book and not an entire series (even despite the unfinished business in this one), but since there is a series, I guess I’ll read the rest as well.
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.
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?
The Cockatrice Boys is a young adult/children’s novel by Joan Aiken.
Finished on: 10.9.2016
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.
Something About You is a novel by Julie James, the first in the FBI/US Attorney series, though it can also be read as a standalone.
Finished on: 13.8.2016
Cameron Lynde is a successful US Attorney, a career that brought her a lot of work and stress. When she is told that she can’t stay in her apartment due to some construction work, she decides to splurge and rent a room in one of the more expensive hotels in the city. Unfortunately she ends up next door to a room where a politician is having an affair and ends up dead, with Cameron being the only witness. And who else but FBI agent Jack Pallas is assigned to handle the case. He is an excellent agent, but he and Cameron have a history together: the last thing they worked on together made Jack’s career implode almost completely and he is convinced, it’s Cameron’s fault.
Something About You is a fun read and a nice mix of crime novel and romance, but I didn’t fall in love with it.
Elena is a huge Star Wars fan. So when the new film comes out, giving her a chance to see a Star Wars film in the cinema as it is released for the first time, she can barely contain her excitement. And she decides that she wants to queue outside of her local cinema, maybe to prove something to herself and to the world. When she arrives there four days before the film starts, she is the third in line. But other than that, nothing is as she expected. The line just doesn’t grow any longer. So she spends those days with the incessantly talking Troy and the surly Gabe, always worrying about where she could pee. But Elena is determined to see this through.
Kindred Spirits is a fast, incredibly sweet read. Rowell once more manages to create vivid characters with a deep love and respect for fandom. It’s simply lovely.
Mittelstadtrauschen is the first novel by Margarita Kinstner. The title translates approximately to “Medium City Static.”
Finished on: 3.8.2016
Marie meets Jakob by chance and the two of them hit it off, despite the fact that Jakob actually has a girlfriend, Sonja and Marie is still very much hung up on her ex, Joe who recently killed himself with a jump into the Danube. Also struggling with Joe’s suicide is his best friend Gery who happens to meet Sonja after Jakob left her. Gery delivers Meals on Wheels and meets Hedi through his job, Jakob’s grandmother and finds an emotional connection with her that he can’t seem to find anywhere else. And everything seems to come back to Joe who has planned something big before his death, something that will impact the lives of those left behind.
Mittelstadtrauschen starts off promising enough, but then doesn’t really keep those promises. I found myself increasingly disbelieving of the story and the characters, and I started hurrying through it just so that I’d have it finished.
The circle’s architect Frost has a plan to get quite a bit of land back from the insects. So the Fourlands are at work building a huge dam, to then flush out the insects. The people not occupied with that are busy fighting the insects in combat, led by quite a few of the circle’s immortals. Among them is Lightning, the archer, but Lightning is otherwise occupied: his daughter Cyan is missing. What he considered simple teenage rebellion so far has him more concerned. So he asks the circle’s messenger Jant to find her and bring her back to him. But Jant’s search brings him right back to his own past.
The Modern World is an exciting continuation of the Fourlands series and simply a great book in its own right. Again I can only say that I loved it.