Re-Read: iD (Madeline Ashby)

iD is the second Machine Dynasty novel by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 26.3.2021
[Here is my first review.]
[Here is my review of the first Machine Dynasty novel.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Javier should be happy, living on Amy’s island with Amy and his sons. But somehow he is still ill at ease, especially since Amy refuses to disengage his failsafe, leaving him vulnerable to humans still. And then just that is used against him and makes his entire world falls apart, leaving Javier to try and pick up the pieces of their lives.

iD really delves into the consent issues that were already raised in the first novel and considers them from every angle. It’s thoughtful and interesting, but it’s also simply a good read, even if there were a couple of transition issues.

The book cover showing the face of a man surrounded by black shards and machinery.
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Re-Read: vN (Madeline Ashby)

vN is the first novel in the Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 6.3.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: child abuse, pedophilia

Plot:
Amy is a von Neumann machine who lives with her (human) father and her (vN) mother. She’s growing up slowly – which is unusual for vNs – and very sheltered. That is until her (vN) grandmother Portia shows up for her kindergarden graduation and attacks not only a kindergardener (which should be impossible due to the failsafe that immediately destroys vNs when they see a human hurt), but also Amy’s mother. In her desperation, Amy eats Portia and then she finds herself on the run, suddenly grown up and with Portia on a partition of her harddrive.

I read vN for the first time pretty soon after it came out and loved it. I read the second part iD not long after that, and then I had to wait for the third part to come out. And it finally did (7 years later), so I decided to revisit the first two books before completing the story. And I’m happy to report that the books still holds up.

The book cover showing a woman's worried face surrounded by machinery. A part of her skin is missing, beneath it we can see more metal.
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Re-Read: The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov)

The Master and Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov. I read the German translation (Der Meister und Margarita) by Thomas Reschke.
Finished on: 5.2.2020
[Here’s my last review.]

Plot:
Moscow, 1930. The writers Berlioz and Besdomny are in the middle of a discussion about the existence, or better yet actual non-existence of Jesus, when they are interrupted by a stranger who tells them a story of how he was present during Pontius Pilate’s trial of Jesus. Then the stranger goes on to predict Berlioz rather gruesome death, which promptly happens. Turns out, said stranger is actually the devil. In the guise of the black magician Voland, he and his associates came to wreak havoc in Moscow.

This is actually the third time I read Master and Margarita, and it’s probably the time it worked best for me. But I’d still say, it’s far from being a favorite of mine and it will probably really have been the last time I read it. (Why did I read it three times ? Well, the first time I was too young, so I wanted to read it a second time to really get it. And the third time now was for a Soviet lit class at uni.)

The book cover showing the shadowy profile of a cat.
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Re-Read: The Spellman Files (Lisa Lutz)

The Spellman Files is the first novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 31.12.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
After a rough youth, Izzy Spellman has found her perfect job, her calling: she’s a private investigator to her very core. The only drawback is that it’s the family business. Her parents are private investigators. Her little sister Rae is only fourteen but already training very hard to be one. Only her brother chose a different way to go: he became a lawyer – and a perfectly law-abiding one at that. But when Izzy’s parents set Rae to spy on Izzy (to find out the identity of her new boyfriend), Izzy has had it with the other Spellmans and she leaves the agency and her home. But when Rae goes missing, she can’t stay away anymore.

The Spellman Files were a pleasant surprise discovery for me and when I learned that it was actually the first novel in a series, it was an even better surprise. But it took me a while to get the other books in the series, so I decided to re-read the first one before getting around to the others. And even on the second go-through, it’s the perfect holiday read in the absolute best way.

The book cover showing a stylized detective with a  magnifying glass.
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Re-Read: Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett)

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
Finished on: 28.6.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: racism, sexism

Plot:
The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have spent a lot of time on earth, doing their respective duties and have got pretty comfortable here. So when the news reaches them that the Antichrist is about to be born and the apocalypse is drawing closer, they are not really happy about it. But Crowley sets things in motion, as they are supposed to be set in motion, though coincidence seems to have a hand in it as well. But it has all been predicted by Agnes Nutter, a witch who died a while back, but still has an heir in Anathema Device who keeps up the family tradition. While the Horsemen of the Apocalypse start to gather, it turns out that the boy everybody thought was the Antichrist was actually switched at birth and nobody really knows where the Antichrist really is.

It doesn’t feel that long that I read the book, but I had forgotten a lot about it. But in this case that is absolutely great because it meant I could enjoy much of it as if I actually read it for the first time. And there is certainly a lot to enjoy.

The book cover showing a child with spread arms below a dark and a light figure, drawn in a style that is slightly reminiscent of old religious drawings.
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Re-Read: The Loop (Nicholas Evans)

The Loop is a novel by Nicholas Evans. I read the German translation Im Kreis des Wolfes by Bernhard Robben.
Finished on: 5.8.2017

Plot:
Hope, Montana is shaken – the wolves have returned to the woods around town, and the first cattle has been taken. Unofficial town leader Buck Calder will not have it – he just wants those wolves gone. But there are species protection laws and the local specialists send for Helen Ross, a biologist specialized in wolves, to try and figure things out. Helen is in need of a change of scenery and jumps at the chance, clashing pretty much immediately with Calder, but finding an unexpected ally in Calder’s young son Luke.

I read The Loop when I was a teenager (after having loved Evans’ The Horse Whisperer) and was very much taken with it back then. Reading it about 15 years later, it doesn’t quite hold up to my fond memories of it, but it is a decent read.

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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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Re-Read: Trainspotting (Irvine Welsh)

Trainspotting is a novel by Irvine Welsh.
Finished on: 23.2.2017

Plot:
Renton, Sick Boy and Spud are friends. At least as much as you can be friends with anybody you share a heroin addiction with. And don’t necessarily like each other all that much. As they tumble through Edinburgh, alternatively looking to buy the next hit and to kick the habit altogether, their paths cross with the same people over and over again, people like the violent Begbie or the drunk Second Prize. They all struggle with their own problems but at least they are not stuck in the wheel of capitalism. Or that’s what Renton tells himself.

Trainspotting is at times funny, at times simply disgusting and it has surprising moments of senisitivity and clarity buried along the way. It’s not the best book ever, but it is very strong.

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Re-Read: Coraline (Neil Gaiman)

Coraline is a children’s novel by Neil Gaiman. My edition comes with illustrations by Dave McKean.
Finished on: 23.11.2016
[Here’s my first “review”.] [Here’s my review of the movie adaptation.]

Plot:
Coraline Jones moves with her parents to a new house. Her parents are always busy so Coraline is left to explore things alone. One day she discovers a hidden door in her house and when she goes through, she meets her Other Mother, who is everything a child could hope for and more. But her Other Mother has buttons for her eyes. She wants Coraline to stay, but for that, Coraline will need to give up her eyes as well.

I did a small analysis of Coraline (book and movie version) for uni, so I re-read and re-watched both. And I really enjoyed reading the book again, even though I look at some things more critically now than when I read it the first time.

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Re-Read: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha [Volume 1] (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is a novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. I read the translation by Ludwig Braunfels.
Finished on: 13.7.2016

Plot:
Alonso Quixano is a nobleman who loves to read novels about chivalry and all kinds of adventures involving knights. He has read so many of them, they are starting to screw with his mind and he starts thinking of himself as a knight. Deciding that he has to go out and find adventures, maidens to rescue and villains to conquer, he leaves his niece and housekeeper behind and transforms in Don Quixote. Together with his horse Rocinante and the freshly hired squire Sancho Pansa and his donkey, they’re off to great things.

It has been many years that I read Don Quixote [Volume 1 and 2], so when it was announced that it was part of my curriculum at uni, I knew that I had to read it again. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to that, I have to admit, since I remembered that I didn’t like it a whole lot, especially not the first Volume. Re-reading it now didn’t really change that.

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