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.
Kindred Spirits is a novella by Rainbow Rowell.
Finished on: 3.8.2016
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 Modern World (aka Dangerous Offspring in the US version) is the third novel of the Fourlands Series by Steph Swainston.
[Here are my reviews of the others.]
Finished on: 1.8.2016
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.
A Monster Calls is a novel by Patrick Ness, from a concept and idea by Siobhan Dowd and with illustrations by Jim Kay.
Finished on: 19.7.2016
Conor has been having horrible nightmares for quite some time now. So when he hears a voice at exactly 12.07 am that calls from him from the graveyard not far from his house, he is not particularly impressed. Not even when the yew tree in said graveyard gets up and comes to him, insisting that he was the one who called it. The monster promises Conor three stories that will help him, then Conor will have to tell his own story – the story of the nightmare he dreams almost every night.
A Monster Calls is a beautiful book in very many ways. It had me actually crying a couple of times. It’s gripping, haunting and an intimate look at very big issues and the complexities that come with being human. I loved it.
I went into the book not knowing much about it. I bought it a while ago based on the illustrations and finally got around to reading it (with the upcoming adaptation it’s about damn time, too). I can only recommend that you try to go in as unprepared as I did. And I can only urge you to check it out. I think it will pay off for you, too. So, stop reading the review and go read the book.
In any case, from now on: SPOILERS.
Playing with Fire is the first novel of the Silver Dragons Series (which is in turn a spin-off from the Aisling Grey Series) by Katie MacAlister.
Finished on: 14.7.2016
May is a doppelganger, an identical copy of the naiad Cyrene, made by the demon lord Magoth, to whom May is bound. Being a doppelganger comes with certain perks, like the ability to shadow, disappearing from prying eyes, that makes May the perfect thief for Magoth’s purposes. But then one of her jobs leads her to Gabriel Tauhou, the head of the Silver Dragons. And it turns out that May is a dragon’s mate and Gabriel is really very attractive. But the Silver Dragons are at war with the Black Dragons and then Magoth orders May to steal from the dragons and Cyrene is constantly getting into trouble, making May’s life a complete mess.
I’m not exactly sure why I even finished Playing with Fire. It was such an annoying book that I wanted to yell at it more than once. I definitely won’t be continuing with the series.
Sommer wie Winter is a novel by Judith W. Taschler [German].
Finished on: 6.6.2016
Something has happened to the Winter family. An accident, yes. But also something so awful, that they’re now all in psychological treatment, more or less voluntarily, with the main focus on Alexander Sommer, the family’s foster son. When the Winters took him in as a little child after his mother’s death, it soon became obvious that mother Monika was less than taken with the boy and that tension has remained even until now that Alexander is a young man. But what really lies behind the tension?
Sommer wie Winter is a quick, gripping read, but I do have my squabbles with the format Taschler chose for her story – transcripts of the therapy sessions with the various family members. Nevertheless it’s smart and enjoyable.
No Present Like Time is the second novel of the Fourlands Series by Steph Swainston.
[Here’s my review of The Year of Our War.]
Finished on: 6.5.2016
A few years have passed since the last big success against the Insects and things are pretty much back to normal, with the big difference that Jant, the Emperor San’s Messenger, is actually clean at the moment. But the calm is disrupted when a challenger to the Emperor’s Swordman appears – and actually manages to take his spot in the circle of immortals. At the same time, Mist – the Emperor’s Sailor – is charged with sailing to an heretofore unknown island and to try and convince them to join the Fourlands ruled by the Emperor. San also orders Lightning (his Archer), the new Swordsman Wrenn and Jant to accompany Mist – much to Jant’s terror as he fears water above all.
No Present Like Time was another wonderful read. The plot may not be the strongest, but I loved the characters, the world-building and the prose. And that is more than enough for me to love the book.
A Room of One’s Own is an essay by Virginia Woolf.
Finished on 3.4.2016
[You can read it here.]
Virginia Woolf was asked to speak on women and writing at two universities and later published her lectures in an extended essay form – A Room of One’s Own. In this, she tackles several problems that women in general and particularly female writers have to face and why there are so few of them. Above all, Woolf states, women need a room to write – both literally and figuratively speaking.
A Room of One’s Own is a beautifully written, smart essay and, I think, essential reading for everyone who wants to understand the absence of female writers, or actually any unprivileged writers. And while I would like to say that it is outdated, it’s much too accurate even for today’s circumstances.