Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 34 – Not My Ruckus

Dear Readers,

today’s review will be on an audiobook (my first one on this blog), which touched me deeply. In what kind of way I will tell you later on, but if you’re capable of hard truths and unpleasant stories, you should definitely give this book a read.

The cover of Not My Ruckus is beautiful. I love that kind of art with the flowers growing between and seemingly melt into the title and the house. It looks gorgeous!

Not My Ruckus is the debut novel of Chad Musick, an author, who “makes no secret of being epileptic, autistic, and arthritic, facts that inform how he approaches both science and the arts” (quote from the information about the author on goodreads). The novel was published on February 16th 2021 by Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC and Ivy Tara Blair narrated the audiobook, which has a lenght of 8 hours and 32 minutes. You find it with the ISBN 9781953971036.

So far about the dry facts, but the content is far more complex. That’s why I won’t tell too much, the story develops fast and I don’t want to spoiler you important events.
The plot is told by the main character: 14 years old Clare, an incredibly strong person, who cares heartbreakingly much about her loved ones. She lives in a small town in 1980s Texas, grows up in a highly religious and abusive family and neighborhood. The narrations starts with her first kiss with Esther, her neighbour. Sadly, right at the moment of that kiss Esther’s mom is bleeding in the hospital because of a gun shot. The novel starts with a kiss and a murder and develops thrillingly till the last few seconds of the audiobook.

Listening to this book was shocking, thrilling, at some points lovely and definitely eye opening. Musick described so many forms of abuse and violence in families and the neighborhood that I wouldn’t recommend this book for people who are very sensible for such issues, although he only implicitly described the actions and mostly did not write about them in detail. Leaving many things unsaid but imaginable lead to a heart touching, unpleasant reading experience, without using to much horror. I really appreciate his writing style; it made the important issues and events clear and left enough space to create a thrilling novel that needs to be read between the lines sometimes. The author addressed important topics and I was shocked and upset about knowing this is reality for way too many people in this world. Chad Musick wrote an incredibly good and important book with gorgeous character developments (not all though, but the important ones evolved greatly) and a stirring plot.
But I’m also reviewing the audio of the book and to be honest, I didn’t find the narration fitting. My first impression was that the narrator sounds bored and unenthusiastic, which doesn’t fit for a 14 year old girl and such a complex story. Though Ivy Tara Blair made it a bit hard for me to find into the novel, I enjoyed how she changed her voice for the different characters. It made it a lot easier to distinguish between Clare’s narration and direct speech of other people.

All in all Not My Ruckus is a well written, important novel that addresses major issues, but in order to do so writing about abuse and violence is needed, which is essential but maybe not fitting for readers, who aren’t capable of or don’t like reading about disturbing scenes. Consider the trigger warning, it has its reasons. Since I didn’t quite like the narration of the audiobook, I consider reading the ebook or paperback sometime in addition.

Have a great week,
Aly

PS: I received the audiobook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. That did not influence my opinion on the book.

Blog, Reviews

Blog entry No. 28 – White All Around

Dear Readers,

the review of this week will be a rather short one. I’m gonna show you what the book is about and what I think about it. No talk about the cover or any analytical parts. I’m sorry about this short version, but I’m pretty stressed out in the moment, so this is sort of a compromise between not writing at all and getting stressed caused anxiety because of not having enough time for my actual work. I hope you like it anyway.

Cover from the ePub version by Europe Comics I got from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

White All Around by Wilfrid Lupano (Writer) and Stephane Fert (Artist and Colorist) is the first graphic novel I read besides the Batman comics from the DC Universe (in Germany published by Panini Comics). It is the first one, but it will definitely not be the last one. It’s great to see what art can deliver and to have a bit of variety to usual novels. It was published on 20th January 2021 as an eBook with 140 pages.

What is White all Around about? (Summary found on Goodreads)
Canterbury, Connecticut, 1832: a charming female boarding school has found success among the locals, with two dozen girls enrolled. Some in town question the purpose of educating young girls—but surely there’s no harm in trying? At least not until the Prudence Crandall School announces its plans to start accepting black students. Thirty years before the abolition of slavery in the United States, in the so-called “free” North, these students will be met by a wave of hostility that puts the future of the school in question, and their very lives in peril. Even in the land of the free, not all of America’s children are welcome.

My Opinion: White All Around is no character based story. It doesn’t tell thoughts and the development of one or more characters, instead historical facts have been incorporated in an appealing and fulfilling way. I was shocked about the intolerance of the people in the town and knowing that this is based on real actions, makes it even worse. But I think that’s exactly what historical literature should do: It should raise attention for the issues and errors of the past times to avoid them in the present and future. This graphic novel opens eyes for racism, sexism and intolerance in general, which needs to be done more often. An appropriate Fore- and Afterword provides background knowledge about the setting and situation of the story. All in all it’s a greatly drawn graphic novel, which hopefully may invite more people to read about historical events.

Have a gorgeous week,
Aly

Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 10a – Dort wo die Sterne im Wasser leuchten – English Version

Dear Readers,

this blog entry is the translation of my last book review. The book I reviewed was written by a German author, so you will still find the German cover and title. I hope you enjoy it.

If you have the same rainy autumn weather as me, there is more colourful foliage on the streets than on the trees and you, like me, love to cuddle with a Chai latte (or any other warm drink ^^) in a blanket in front of a fireplace and just read the whole evening, I have here the perfect novel for you: Dort, wo die Sterne im Wasser leuchten (means “There, where the stars shine in the water”) by Clara Blais (was published by Kirschbuch Verlag on October 13, 2020 and is available under ISBN 9 783 948 736 033 in most shops and online retailers for about €12). This incredibly good debut novel does play in the summer, but I think that you can read books at any time of the year whose story, characters and writing style are so captivating. In addition, the novel is very emotional and what fits better to emotional mood than rainy weather and hot cocoa?

As always, I start with the first impression, with the cover: this is a very good example of a book whose first impression created by the cover is not disappointed after reading it. Quite the reverse, I have rarely seen so far that the book cover reflects the content and the feeling of reading as well as this one and thus already gives a really good insight into the work itself. It is beautifully matched in colour and also shows the hardly tangible, but always strong connection between the two main characters. In addition, the aesthetic use of the starry sky leads to a beautiful overall picture.

In the 410-page story (in the print edition), it’s not just about how Skylar loses her best friend Matt as a child and thinks she’s going crazy because she still sees him sometimes. Not only is it told how she leaves the city to start over, but then she gets to know Damian in her new home. Damian, who looks like her best friend to be confused, but doesn’t seem to have anything in common with Matt’s character. Not only does Clara Blais describe the romantic story between the two main characters, she also writes about subjects such as bullying, homosexuality, traumatic overcoming and mental health without beautifying or excluding the possibility of healing and forgiveness. The book ensures that problems are addressed sensitively and emotionally without losing their seriousness, and that is incredibly important if you want to communicate something to society. I also think that probably a lot of readers can identify with some aspects of Skylar’s and Damian’s life without wanting to admit it. At least that’s how I deal with some of the characteristics and problems of the female lead role.

In order to convey the topics addressed to the reader well, a pleasant writing style is naturally important. Clara Blais’ style of dealing with words is not only pleasant, but captivating. The flow of reading was not disturbed at any point so that one could fully immerse oneself in the events. If I hadn’t had to sleep, eat and work these past few days, I probably would have read the book in one piece, because I just didn’t want to let go of this wonderful, impressive story.

This review is rather short, because there are no important points for me to criticize in this work. For all readers who always find something to complain about and also want to read criticism in every review I’m sorry, this debut novel in my opinion deserves nothing but praise. Even the ending, which is difficult to choose in many books, has been optimally designed. One always says so beautifully that for a happy ending you only have to stop telling in the right spot. Well, I’m not sure if we can talk about a happy ending here, but it’s stopped reporting at a good point.

To sum up, Dort, wo die Sterne im Wasser leuchten is an absolute must for any lover of romance and mystery. I certainly haven’t read the book for the last time. I am already looking forward to the many additional hours that I can spend cuddled in and drinking Chai Latte, while reading it in its entirety again and again. For all my readers who don’t speak German, I hope there will be an English translation of the book soon.

Yours,
Aly

Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 10 – Dort, wo die Sterne im Wasser leuchten

Liebe Leser,

wenn bei euch genauso verregnetes Herbstwetter ist wie bei mir, schon mehr buntes Laub auf den Straßen liegt als auf den Bäumen hängt und ihr, wie ich, es liebt euch mit einem Chai Latte (oder jeglichem anderen warmen Getränk ^^) in eine Decke vor einen Kamin zu kuscheln und einfach den ganzen Abend zu lesen, habe ich hier den perfekten Roman für euch: Dort, wo die Sterne im Wasser leuchten von Clara Blais (ist am 13. Oktober 2020 im Kirschbuch Verlag erschienen und unter der ISBN 9783948736033 in den meisten Geschäften sowie im Onlinehandel für etwa 12€ erhältlich). Dieser unglaublich gute Debütroman spielt zwar im Sommer, aber ich bin der Meinung, dass man Bücher, deren Geschichte, Charaktere und Schreibstil so fesselnd sind, zu jeder Zeit im Jahr lesen kann. Außerdem ist der Roman sehr emotional und was passt besser zu emotionaler Stimmung als verregnetes Wetter und ein heißer Kakao?

Wie immer beginne ich mit dem ersten Eindruck, mit dem Cover: Dies ist ein sehr gutes Beispiel eines Buches, dessen durch das Cover geschaffener erster Eindruck nicht enttäuscht wird. Im Gegenteil, ich habe es bisher eher selten gesehen, dass der Buchdeckel den Inhalt und das Gefühl beim Lesen so gut wiederspiegelt wie dieser und somit schon einen wirklich guten Einblick in das Werk selbst gibt. Er ist farblich sehr schön abgestimmt und zeigt zudem die kaum greifbare, aber immer starke Verbindung zwischen den beiden Hauptcharakteren. Hinzu kommt die ästhetische Verwendung des Sternenhimmels, welche zu einem wunderschönen Gesamtbild führt.

In der auf 410 Seiten (in der Printausgabe) erzählten Geschichte geht es nicht nur darum wie Skylar als Kind ihren besten Freund Matt verliert und glaubt verrückt zu werden, weil sie ihn manchmal immer noch sieht. Es wird nicht nur erzählt wie sie die Stadt verlässt, um neu anzufangen, dann aber in ihrer neuen Heimat Damian kennen lernt. Damian, der ihrem besten Freund zum verwechseln ähnlich sieht, jedoch nichts mit Matts Charakter gemein zu haben scheint. Clara Blais beschreibt nicht nur die romantische Geschichte zwischen den beiden Hauptcharkteren, sie schreibt auch über Themen wie Mobbing, Homosexualität, Traumabewältigung und mentale Gesundheit ohne zu beschönigen oder die Möglichkeit der Heilung und Vergebung auszuschließen. Das Buch sorgt dafür, dass Probleme sensibel und emotional angesprochen werden ohne ihre Ernsthaftigkeit zu verlieren und genau das ist unglaublich wichtig, wenn man der Gesellschaft etwas mitteilen will. Ich glaube auch, dass sich wahrscheinlich sehr viele Leser mit einigen Aspekten in Skylars und Damians Leben identifizieren können, ohne es großartig zugeben zu wollen. Mir zumindest geht es so mit einigen Charaktereigenschaften und Problemen der weiblichen Hauptrolle.

Um die angesprochenen Themen dem Leser gut zu vermitteln, ist natürlich ein angenehmer Schreibstil wichtig. Clara Blais’ Stil mit Worten umzugehen ist nicht nur angenehm, sondern fesselnd. Der Lesefluss wurde an keiner Stelle gestört, sodass man voll und ganz in das Geschehen eintauchen konnte. Hätte ich in den letzten Tagen nicht schlafen, essen und auf Arbeit gemusst, hätte ich das Buch wahrscheinlich an einem Stück durchgelesen, weil man diese wundervolle, beeindruckende Geschichte einfach nicht loslassen möchte.

Diese Rezension fällt eher kurz aus, denn bei diesem Werk gibt es für mich keine wichtigen Punkte, die zu kritisieren wären. Für alle Leser die immer etwas zu beanstanden finden und auch Kritik in jeder Review lesen wollen tut es mir leid, dieser Debütroman hat meiner Meinung nach nichts als Lob verdient. Sogar das Ende, welches bei vielen Büchern schwierig gewählt ist, wurde optimal gestaltet. Man sagt immer so schön, dass man für ein Happy End nur an der richtigen Stelle aufhören muss zu erzählen. Nun, ich weiß nicht recht, ob hier von einem Happy End gesprochen werden kann, aber es wurde an einem guten Punkt aufgehört zu berichten.

Zusammenfassend kann ich sagen, dass Dort, wo die Sterne im Wasser leuchten für jeden Romantik- und Mystery-Liebhaber ein absolutes Muss für das Bücherregal ist. Ich selbst habe das Buch auf jeden Fall nicht zum letzten Mal gelesen. Ich freue mich schon jetzt auf die vielen weiteren Stunden, die ich eingekuschelt und Chai Latte trinkend damit verbringen kann, es in voller Gänze immer wieder lesen.

Eure Aly

Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 9 – Strange Deaths of the Last Romantic

Dear Readers,

this tuesday I’m gonna talk about a book I found on NetGalley (there I got “Lost Girls go Everywhere” too). “Strange Deaths of the Last Romantic” was written and will get published on 17th of November 2020 by Moses Yuriyvich Mikheyev, he is a Russian-American novelist, who first studied at Whitworth University and got his graduate degree in theological studies from Emory University. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles.

Talking about the book, I’ll start with the cover because it’s always the first part of a book you see, so automatically the first impression is made at this point.
I think the cover is quite interesting; it seems to have some flair of native American folks but at the same time, it’s designed very modern. It’s like a collage of paper, pictures and between those pieces, you see the glimpse of a girl, which stares far away. After reading the book, the girl could portray the idea of Lilyanne, a seemingly perfect girl.

The story is about Adam Micah, who discovers at the age of ten years that he cannot die. After dying, he reawakens naked somewhere, without any control about where he lands. Every time he dies, he loses more and more memoriesfrom his previous lives. As he meets the love of his life, his life seems normal again, though he knows barely who he is. Adam, who gave himself a new name: Aristotle, enjoys life again, but soon he realises again that there are people who want to use and examine his gift/curse.

The main parts are narrated from Adams view in first-person-narrator, but there are parts about other characters too, which get told by a personal narrator. Those different perspectives confused me firstly, because I didn’t know the characters and why they’re relevant, but soon it brought spice into the whole storyline because it showed different connections and led to own thoughts about what could happen next.

Mikheyev’s writing style was very figurative, for me, it was like being there and live this life full of chaos together with the main character. That caused a very uncomfortable feeling while reading the bloody parts, which fit perfectly well in the Thriller genre. But the writing style also made me get lost in the romantic parts. The poems transported so many emotions but even more so did the prose describing the surrounding scene. Considering how it was written stylistically, it is definitely worth reading.

But to be honest, I cannot say the same thing about the storyline, especially about the end. As I finished the book, I was heartbroken and a bit disappointed. It always seemed, like there was a lot potential for an interesting, good end but it didn’t happen, it was suddenly all over and brought no sense to anyone. In the author’s comment at the end of the book, Mikheyev told the reader about the process of creating this novel. He explained how it started, why he created Lilyanne without character development, how he struggled to finish the novel, how he published it and that he thinks it’s an awful book. Reading the final statement helped me a lot to understand why the end is how it is, but that does not make it any better. Some might consider endings of such kind romantic, I think it’s just sad. The story had such an interesting, thought-out start and developed in a good way, but the end was weak. The book started dramatically and exiting but ended sadly. Additionally, I recognised more mistakes in logic or rather in continuity at the last pages, for example, said Adam at the beginning that he lost his mother when he was ten years old, but at the end, he said he was seven as she died. This could be interpreted as a sign of his lost memories, but why should he be mistaken just in the age, when he lost other disturbing memories completely and not just partly? Why place such a small, single hint? Also, it is said that it’s about the year 2025 when Adam reawakens in a field, but that would make no sense because he died in 2010 and it’s said in the second part of the chapter that it was fifteen years ago when he woke up in this field, so why not say it’s about the year 2025 at the beginning of the second part, like it was done before?

As this is the first published version, I assume mistakes like these get corrected, so that’s no reason to say the book would be no good. To judge a book, I always ask myself, if I would read it again. Well, for this one I can say, by all means, I’m gonna read some parts again. I’m sensible to bloody and cruel scenes and love romantic, so the parts I’m gonna reread are probably the good times between Aristotle and Lilyanne. As said before, I really like the style of Mikheyev’s writing, but the story wasn’t that good. So, I’ll do what one can do only with literature and movies: I’ll pick the good parts and live them over and over again.

Hope you’re having a good time,
Aly

PS: If you are interested now in the book, you can buy it for example on amazon, here is the link to Strange Deaths of the Last Romantic: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KPMR2LS

Blog, Poetry, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 8 – Lost Girls Go Everywhere

Dear Readers,

today I’m gonna write about broken hearts, love and affection as well as about a travel to find oneself and a home, where one belongs and feels safe. I’m gonna write about poetry and short stories.
Personally, I really love poetry. It’s that kind of literature, which hasn’t the focus on telling a long story but on what the reader feels while reading it. So let’s get right into “Lost Girls Go Everywhere” by Azzurra Nox, a book full of feelings and emotions, a book of poetry and prose.

The book was published on 6th of October 2020 and written by the author and blogger Azzurra Nox. She was born in Catania, Sicily, lived in some European cities, Cuba and currently in Southern California. In the last years, she wrote several other books, like “Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology”(2020), “Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken”(2019) and “Doll Parts: Tales of Twisted Love”(2015).

Looking at the cover, the first impression was made: I was fascinated and interested. Considering the colours, it’s very simple, but at the same time, it radiates some feeling of wildness and independence. Firstly, it doesn’t seem to fit the content but rethinking everything it shows an independent woman, who experienced a lot of bad stuff, who needs horns instead of wings, to survive this world, who smokes, to feel better. All in one I like the style of the cover and what it could or could not mean.

But the important part is not the cover, it’s the content and the style of writing. The writing is separated into two parts: Part I contains the poetry and Part II the short stories written in prose. One page ahead of the Table of contents the author placed three sentences that spend hope. I think they are extremely important because the following poems and stories tend to be sad and hopeless, but these few lines at the beginning tell clearly: “You will find your path […]. Never give up.”
The Poetry in “Lost Girls Go Everywhere” was varied: The poems appealed to every emotion I carry with me: I fell in love, I burst of hate, I got disappointed and surprised, I melt with the words and I even cried at one poem. Some poems are short, just a statement and some are filling pages. There were barely rhimes, but for me, good poetry doesn’t have to rhyme as long as the feeling is still transported.
The prose texts are written in a similar emotional style as the poems and carry on the love stories of a life full of wandering. Reading them was like getting more background information to the poems. Neither the poems nor the stories seemed to be chronological, which effected a perception of the texts as a collage of experiences from different lives, which makes it easier for the reader to identify with the persona.

Considering the whole work it’s to say that I recognised many references to music, to other famous literature, such as Moby Dick, Wuthering Heights and The Picture of Dorian Gray, and namings of other kinds of celebrities, such as Marilyn Manson and Marilyn Monroe. But all in one it is a rather melancholic book, with hope at the beginning, but not at the end. I enjoyed reading it and I’ll read it again, but not to upper my mood.

To judge poetry is always difficult, nearly impossible. How should one critic the most subjective thing in this world, as everyone made different experiences and feels just different? But I think the feeling that most of us have in common is heartbreake and that’s what the book is about, so grab an extract if possible and enjoy reading feelings put on paper.

Yours,
Aly