The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Kate DiCamillo)

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a novel written Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.
Finished on: 14.10.2017

Plot:
Abilene gets a china rabbit from her grandmother as a gift and said rabbit – Edward Tulane – quickly becomes her most treasured possession. So it’s no surprise that the naturally vain Edward becomes even more convinced of his own perfection. But then he falls overboard from the ship Abilene and her family are vacationing on. This is the start of a long and arduous journey for Edward.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a touching book for all ages that doesn’t shortchange any age group. It really is a beautiful read.

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Carry On (Rainbow Rowell)

Carry On is a novel by Rainbow Rowell. It’s – kind of – a spin-off from Fangirl.
Finished on: 14.10.2017

Plot:
Simon Snow is in his final year at the magical school of Watford. Simon is the Chosen One, prophesised to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, an honor Simon could really do without. Especially since his hold on magic is tenuous at best. But together with his best friend Penelope, who has an excellent grasp of magic, Simon is ready to face the world. Even his roommate Baz who Simon is sure is up to no good. Baz really does think more about Simon than he probably should, but it’s not really because his intentions are evil.

Carry On is a quick, fun read and really drew me in, despite a couple of issues I had here and there. It definitely managed to make me smile.

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A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab)

A Gathering of Shadows is the second novel in Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab [aka Victoria Schwab].
Finished on: 10.10.2017
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
It’s been months since Kell and Lila had to face White London, and things are settling. Lila has gone to be a pirate as she’s always dreamed, while Kell is trying to find his place with the royal family again. But things are tense, having lost the trust of the King and Queen and still having to figure out the changed relationship with Rhy. With the approach of an international magic contest in Red London, it is even more imperative that things start to run smoothly again. But the other Londons still harbor some surprises.

A Gathering of Shadows was a good, quick read, but I did have my problems with it, starting with the magic tournament angle (incredibly overdone) to character development.

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Blasmusikpop oder Wie die Wissenschaft in die Berge kam (Vea Kaiser)

Blasmusikpop oder Wie die Wissenschaft in die Berge kam (literally: Brass Music Pop or How Science Came into the Mountains) is Vea Kaiser‘s first novel.
Finished on: 26.9.2017

Plot:
Johannes Gerlitzen was the first person to leave St. Peter am Anger, a small mountain village, and to return as an academic, a Doctor (even if he had to trick a little to get his qualifications). Now his grandson, also called Johannes, is groomed by him to also go into science. And little Johannes takes that very seriously, although natural sciences are less his cup of tea. The rest of the village doesn’t really understand the Johanneses, and little Johannes doesn’t understand them, either.

I’ve heard many good things about Blasmusikpop and how funny it is, but I struggled with it. It does get better towards the end, but it does take some time until it gets there.

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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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