[Review] Morgan Matson: Since you’ve been gone

18189606Shy and reserved Emily is missing her best friend Soalne who left without a trace with her parents. When a letter by her arrives that includes a list of things Emily wouldn’t normally do like „kiss a stranger“ or „dance the night away“, she is determined to fullfill the tasks on the lists, hoping this will bring her friend back to her.

The writing style is nice and easy and fun, the characters however never grew on me. The heroine seemed just designed to be this shy person so she can get over it, it never actually felt like it was a real character, her shyness never felt believable, it was just a character trait that was purely there to be eliminated. The way she gets over her shyness felt just so staged and just way too easy.

And the tasks on the list? They aren’t really all that daring I think, most is easily done, even for a shy teenage girl. She just ticks them off on the list without major problems, which makes the whole story pretty boring.

And once again we have the kind of parents that seem to be in every second YA book. WAAY too busy to have a clue about their teenage daughter being away half of the night.

The ending came too fast and too easy for my liking.

I really loved „Amy and Roger’s epic detour“ by the same author and first I was thrilled to have some playlists again in this one, but it soon seemed like a shallow copy of the real thing. 2-sterne-schw

[Review] Alan Bradley: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavie de Luce #7)

21874813Tread carefully if you haven’t read the 6th instaöment, this is no real, huge spoiler but I was surprised by the ending of book 6 and don’t wanna spoil the surprise for anybody.

Flavia sets out for a new life: She arrives at her new school in Canada and is torn between excitement and homesickness. But luckily (for someone like our Flavia) in her first night at the new school a dead body is found. To Flavia’s joy in the chimney of her own bedroom.

The following days are filled with her adjustment to the new school as well as investigations that reveal missing students during the past years.

Hmmm, technically it was all there. Flavia, her lovely chemistry nerdiness, a murder, investigations and an exciting new setting I was really looking forward to. But apart from the feeling of being back „home“ in Flavia’s world which I really enjoyed, there seemed to be something missing in this installment. I don’t think it was the new setting and there were lots of mentionings of the beloved and/ or quirky characters from back home to have the feeling, they were „in“ the story. I also missed some of the storylines that had built up over the series. It was too much of a fresh start to me without a really exciting new storyline.

The crime itself never captured my full attention, it felt a bit forced that Flavia stumbles over a dead body like that to begin with and the investigations missed some of the Flavia spark.

The setting of the new school and other places in Canada was as amazing as the vivid settings like Buckshaw and Bishop’s Lacey we got to love in the previous instalments.

But if you love the series you will enjoy Flavia’s Canadian adventure as I did.

(I was given a free digital copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley.)4-sterne-schw

[Review] Yana Toboso: Black Butler 1

6690979Story
Sebastian ist Butler des Phantomhive Anwesens in der Nähe von London im ausgehenden 19. Jahrhundert. Er hat alle Hände voll damit zu tun, den Haushalt zu führen, das Personal unter Kontrolle zu halten und den jungen Earl Ciel zu zügeln. Doch ihn und den Earl verbindet ein dunkler Pakt, denn unser eleganter, athlethischer und patenter Butler ist eigentlich ein Dämon, der Ciel bei seinen Racheplänen nach dem Tod seiner Eltern unterstützt.

Zeichnungen
Die Zeichnungen sind wirklich wunderbar, ich liebe die zum Teil sehr detailreichen Darstellungen des Anwesens und der Garderobe der Helden. Die Charaktere sind ebenfalls beeindruckend, mal komisch, mal niedlich, mal elegant. Sehr gut haben mir auch die Anordnungen der einzelnen Zeichnungen gefallen, das Kästchen-Schema wird oft unterbrochen und aufgelockert, es gibt ganzseitige Zeichnungen und Zeichnungen im Hintergrund. Das Layout der Gesamtseite wurde offensichtlich stets gut durchdacht. Rein optisch schon ein echtes Highlight!

Fazit
Der Manga macht Lust auf mehr, im ersten Teil wird viel über das Setting und die Charaktere vermittelt, aber es gibt auch einen echten Spannungsbogen, der aber nur einen vergleichsweise kleinen Teil der Geschichte einnimmt. Mir hat das nichts ausgemacht, weil ich es einfach genossen habe, in die Welt zu versinken und die optischen Leckerbissen zu genießen. Es ist eben ein Einführungsband, bei dem das Hauptaugenmerk auf der Vorstellung der „Welt“ und der Charaktere liegt. Der Humor ist trocken und genau mein Ding. Ich werde die Reihe auf jeden Fall weiterverfolgen.4-sterne-schw

[Review] Leo Tolstoi: Krieg und Frieden

8878021Ich habe lange gehadert, wie ich dieses Buch bewerten soll. Es hat mir gefallen, war aber oft einfach mühsam und für meinen Geschmack zu ausschweifend. Die drei Sterne, für die ich mich letztlich entschieden habe und die meinem Leseerlebnis am besten entsprechen, sind in gewisser Weise absolut unpassend, denn sie scheinen auf ein mittelmäßiges Buch hinzuweisen, und mittelmäßig ist rein gar nichts an Krieg und Frieden.

Es geht hier um militärische, gesellschaftliche und private Verwicklungen zur Zeit der napoleonischen Kriege, die ineinander verwoben, parallel erzählt werden. Es gibt einige Protagonisten und unzählige, immer sehr detailreich beschriebene Nebenfiguren.

Tolstoi schafft es wirklich, den Leser ins Russland des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts zu entführen. Sowohl das gesellschaftliche Parkett, als auch die grausamen Kriegsbeschreibungen sind stets lebendig und detailreich beschrieben. Einzig, wenn er hin und wieder im Hauptteil und sehr ausschweifend im Epilog über Geschichte philosophiert, wird es langweilig (für mich). Die Geschichte wird zur Seite gestellt und man hat das Gefühl, ein Sachbuch über Kriegstheorie und -philosophie zu lesen.

Was mir einfach gefehlt hat, war eine anhaltende Verbindung zu den Protagonisten der Erzählung. Tolstoi beschreibt Charaktere, ihr Äußeres und ihre Motive immer sehr analytisch und distanziert, was mir persönlich nicht besonders liegt.

Gut gefallen hat mir die Entwicklung einiger Charaktere, die sich vor dem Hintergrund ihrer individuellen Schicksale entfalten und wachsen.

Für mich persönlich hätte man die Geschichte von 2400 auf 700 Seiten kürzen können und hätte dadurch Geschichte und Hintergrund einfach besser auf den Punkt bringen können.

Mir lag Tolstois Anna Karenina viel mehr, nachdem ich mich dort eingelesen hatte, habe ich an den Seiten geklebt, mitgefiebert, mitgelitten, mich über Anna aufgeregt… in Krieg und Frieden gab es nur sehr wenige Momente, in denen ich wirklich mitgefiebert habe. Der direkte Vergleich der zwei Bücher hat dann auch den entscheidenden Anstoß gegeben, nur 3 Sterne zu vergeben, also 2 weniger als bei Anna Karenina.3-sterne-schw

[Review] Vladimir Nabokov: Pale Fire

7805Das Buch bewegt sich auf mehreren Ebenen. Zum einen das 999zeilige Gedicht des fiktiven Autors John Shade, der im Gedicht unter anderem den tragischen Tod seiner Tochter verarbeitet. Zum anderen wird ein Kommentar zum Gedicht nachgestellt, den der ebenfalls fiktive Charles Kinbote verfasst hat. Darin analysiert er das Gedicht, fügt wissenswertes über das Privatleben seines Freundes und Nachbarn Shade ein, aber er läßt es sich auch nicht nehmen, die Geschichte eines Königs aus einem fiktiven, aber an Russland erinnernden Landes, im Exil zu berichten (view spoiler) . Die Anmerkungen tragen so erstaunlich wenig zum Verständnis des Gedichtes bei, sondern verlieren sich in einer völlig anderen Geschichte.

Zuerst war ich sehr verwirrt und bin zwischen Gedicht und jeweiliger Anmerkung hin und her gesprungen, was mir aber den Lesefluss zerstört hat. Ich habe dann zuerst dann Gedicht komplett gelesen und danach die Anmerkungen, von denen aus ich dann zurück zum Gedicht geblättert habe. Diese Methode hat für mich am besten funktioniert.

Als ich dann meinen Rhythmus gefunden hatte, bin ich mehr und mehr in die schräge Struktur eingetaucht, Es gab bewegende Momente, lustige Momente, wunderbare Formulierungen und Bilder (hach, Nabokov kann einfach schreiben) und ständig das Gefühl, Nabokov hinter mir kichern zu hören, wenn ich mich wieder einmal gefragt habe, was sich hinter der Metaebene (also der Ebene des Kommentars) verbirgt.

An „Lolita“ kommt das Buch für mich nicht heran, aber Nabokov ist wieder ein echtes Glanzstück gelungen. 4-sterne-schw

[Review] James McWilliams: The Modern Savage – Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals

22545435The first quarter of the book was a bit dry, it consisted mostly of quotes from other sources and provided little of its own (as it felt to me) Since it summarized a lot of books I already read, it was a bit of a boring read. Also the part in which the existing situation in slaughterhouses is described wasn’t very fresh although it was important to get it into people’s minds (again). And I guess this was neccessary to get all readers onto the same level of background information.

The main point of the author though is that as bad as things are in slaughterhouses, it would be wrong to believe that things are handled less brutal or in a way less prone to the viruses etc. that stirr up huge meat scandals on a regular basis.
What follows now is what made the book stand out for me: A far more unique part: The author collected bits and pieces by hobby farmers, backyard breeders etc. His main source here is the internet, it might be a selective way to reflect the voice of that kind of farmers but it was interesting and impressive. Blog posts about backyard slaughtering are analysed as well as forum discussions of breeders.

It might not be an objective, scientific way to analyse the collective way of thinking of those backyard and smallscale farmers but it sheds a light on the way of thinking of way too many and it makes you rethink „greener“ alternatives to big slaughterhouses. He tries to make clear that one shouldn’t go the „slightly better“ way but the right way.

The writing wasn’t that captivating, I am aware it is a non-fiction book, but they can be written in a more entertaining way too I think, without loosing their serious approach at all. When it got a bit less dry it soon seemed dismissive (towards the bloggers and farmers) to me.

I did enjoy the book as dispite the beginning that seemed like a collection of thoughts and quotes from other books, it did go a unique way in the end.

(I received a free digital copy of this book via NetGalley.)3-sterne-schw

[Review] Sara Danvers: The Seven Devils

16066774This will contain spoilers, so in case you wanna read the book (which I stongly suggest against!!) – don’t read any further.

Story:
After nearly being killed by her father, even the mother realizes it might be better to leave her husband and get Ellen into a saver place. At her new school she meets a mysterious guy who is rumoured to be highly dangerous and a killer.

Characters:
Let’s start with the supporting characters: I like a good flawed character in my books, but… the baddies here were just ridiculous and implausible. The own brother sets up the sister to be KILLED by the father because they had to move away from his friends after the father nearly killed the sister and he was pissed at her for taking him away from his buddies??? Who is supposed to buy such a character?
Psychologically it might have made more sense if the mother would hold back from dating for a while after escaping her violent and alcoholic husband. But no, she starts an affair that keeps her out of the house (with the immanent danger of the husband finding the family looming all the time) for days and weeks. Sure…!
But like mother like daughter… Meet Ellen, the most useless, clueless and naive heroine in literature. Her decisions are usually stupid and/or hormone based. Her ways of thinking elementary school-level at best.
On her first day at the new school, still traumatized from nearly having been drowned… she invites the guy everybody warns her about at school home, holds hands with him then and there, enjoys his kisses and follows him into the woods. Hours after meeting him. Sure…! (Great choice, Ellen!)
Basically she trusts whoever gets her hormones singing, so after the first guy breaks up with her, she starts dating someone else. He had sexually assaulted her before they got together. (Great choice, Ellen!) He treats her like shit during their relationship with violent moments and when she decides to break up with him, she chooses a deserted forest. (Great choice again, Ellen!) Needless to say he gets very violent and nearly rapes her (luckily she gets saved).

There is no single character in the book that I would consider interesting. The ambitious, self-centered brother, the ignorant and unfair mother, the asshole boyfriend, the misunderstood loner… Nobody seems to actually think once in a while, they all have their 2,5 character traits and won’t leave their assigned characterization for a second.
I kept thinking that some of the rash and idiotic decisions of the wannabe-heroine would be explained by the big secret (mind control). But it didn’t happen. She indeed was this stupid all by herself.
Pacing:
The pacing is horrible, insta-love² in the beginning that makes you dizzy and then ages of boredom. The second half has a completely different feel than the first half.
Writing:
The writing itself doesn’t hurt too much, but there are way too many errors in grammar and spelling.
All in all:
Keep away from this book, I got it as a freebie but mourn the time I wasted on this shit.1-stern-schw