Category Archives: Review

Kai Meyer: Die Seiten der Welt

Last year I read about Die Seiten der Welt (The Pages of the World) over on Weltenwanderers Blog. It just sounded interesting, so when I saw it on one of the shelves in our local library I picked it up and took it with me.
With the third part of this book published soon and the second one waiting for me to read it, I decided to give you a little look into part one of the trilogy (I won’t mention that I originally wanted to publish this review back when part two was released, no, I’m not going to tell you that…).

What is it about?

4 of 5 stars


The world of the young Bibliomancer (Bibliomant in German) Furia is turned upside down when a book-collecting trip with her father goes awry. Now she has to free her little brother Pip from a dangerous assassin, while also fleeing from her into the hidden refuge Libropolis. In this magical city filled with book stores, Bibliomancers and creatures that fell out of books, the Exlibri, she finds unexpected help from rebels and soon gets involved in their struggle against the Adamitic Academy (Adamitische Akadamie), who control everything concerning  Bibliomancy (Bibliomantik).

The reading experience

Hard cover editions are usually unwieldy and this one is no exception and even the lovely cover art cannot distract from that.
The story is fluently written and even with some explorations into details it was never boring. Though I would have liked some things to be explained a bit more thoroughly than others. The world Meyer creates in this book is just so fascinating that you just want to continue to learn more about it. The fact that there are also some murders, intrigues and dark secrets in it makes it even better.
It has a lot of really interesting concepts. The whole idea of the Bibliomancy is fascinating, but it doesn’t stop there. To even be able to perform Bibliomancy you need a Soulbook (Seelenbuch) to which you have a natural bond, much like Wands in Harry Potter does the book choose you and not the other way round.
(Powerful) Bibliomancers are able to create kind of bubble rooms that they can use as hideouts or refuge and jump from one place to the other through two books of the same edition. This destroys the book you used, but it’s still a great idea. The energy emitted from the usage of Bibliomancy drags characters out of their respective books (Exlibri) and is strong enough to regrow trees from destroyed books, which in turn have bookmark leaves. Then there are the Beakbooks (Schnabelbücher), which are semi-conscious beings usually used similar to roosters that have a whole concept of illegality behind them.
And then there is the Unwriting (Entschreibung) the big threat lurking in the background causing everyone to wonder: Is Bibliomancy possible because someone wrote it existed that way or was that someone able to record the happenings because Bibliomancy was possible?

The characters

Unfortunately the characters were a bit superficial. I never quite connected to any of them, as it felt like a lot of stuff was left out in their stories. This might change in the sequels, but in this one I missed that certain spark that creates a connection to a character.
I usually struggle with main characters and while Furia isn’t one of the bad ones, she is not one of the good ones either. She barely knows her own powers, but is still able to accomplish unimaginable things, that’s always a bit weird to me. Well, she did overcome enough obstacles to make it at least worthwhile, but some of her reactions did seem a bit too calm and collected for a 15-year old girl, given the circumstances.
While you read a lot about Furia’s fear for her family (her brother in particular), you don’t really learn much about them and therefore the impact of their respective fates isn’t as strong as it could have been.
A bit more focus was put on the rebels Cat and Finnian, but their run of the mill relationship undid the liking I had for them a little – even if it was quite cute at times it was annoying in other moments.
For quite a while you never really knew who the bad guys really were: The Exlibri presented by Ariel and Puck (yes, the guys from Shakespear) or the Academy and their assassin? Though there was a stronger impact to the fate of one of them then the others. Whereas the punishment and revelation concerning Siebenstein and the Entschreibung where not that surprising and rather boring.
My favourites and highlights certainly were the sassy Reading Lamp, the cranky Chair and the cheeky Beakbook who made for some great comedic relief in an otherwise quite serious narration

General Opinion

For a Young Adults‘ novel I really like it.
Though which Bibliophile wouldn’t like a book about people being capable of using the magic of words to do sorcery-like things (the aptly called Bibliomanten – Bibliomancer, I’d say, judging from the translation of Nekromant to Necromancer)? Especially if there are such things as living letters and Origami and most of all a cranky arm chair and a sassy reading lamp? 😀
All in all a lot of really interesting concepts that were covered far too little in one book (imagine my relief when I discovered there would be sequels!). The characters might not be that impressive but the overall story still keeps it interesting and worth reading and hard to put down.
I’m curious how it will continue and can’t wait to launch myself into Furia’s world again.

Stuff I’d like to add

Some of the thoughts in this review are re-used from my Reading Together about it.
From what I can see there is no English version(, yet?).
PoiSonPaiNter
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

Knights of Badassdom

As fourth part of the Nerd-Week I present to you a review for Knights of Badassdom. You can’t compare it to Mara, but it’s nerdy, so it fits the theme. 😉

I first heard about this movie when we watched the Wacken 3D movie in the cinema and they showed the quite epic trailer. Still, our local cinema did not even play it, so we couldn’t watch it on the big screen.

Last year, when I was in Cologne with Unmei for our visit to the Harry Potter Exhibition we had some time to kill and spent that – amongst other places – in an electronic retailer where my eyes fell upon the DVD and I couldn’t resist taking it with me.

What is it about?

The official poster

Joe just broke up with his girlfriend so his friends Eric and Hung decide to kidnap him and bring him to the LARP-battle Fields of Evermore. The newbie LARPer is at first utterly unable to cope, but upon seeing female LARPer Gwen and hearing what would be in store for him, he at least decides to give it a try. When Eric tries a ritual on Joe in his attempt to finally level up his character and uses a real spell book, instead of the in-game ones, he ends up summoning a Succubus from hell.

Now they have to find a way to get rid of it before it kills every participant …

The watching experience

While watching I was torn between laughing, trying not to think too much into what was happening and wondering what the hell was going on…
Fast cuts make it hard to follow the Demons‘ activities at times, jumps between rarely introduced characters don’t really help either.

This movie plays a lot with stereotypes, but in a fun and not insulting way and that’s refreshing. It also comes along with a pretty cool soundtrack – if you like Rock/Metal – and a quite epic boss battle …

Still, I feel the need to mention: Watch with care if you’re not a fan of splatter, as a lot of people get torn to shreds throughout the movie.
I don’t mind that kind of stuff (heck, I went for Pizza after District 9 …), but some things were quite disgusting.

The characters

As it is common with Horror movies there is not much time spent on actual character development. They are introduced and someone rises up to the challenge of defeating the big bad. In the context of this movie that’s not a bad thing, as it does focus more on the jokes and action.

Seeing as this is a movie about LARPer/LARPing you also get a look at different types of characters within the game, but the focus soon diverts from that and you rarely get any nods to their in-game characters.

Though it still felt as if every character had something unique about them. Everyone is enthusiastic about the world of Evermore in their own way. Though describing them more would take away the fun of getting to know them through the movie.

General Opinion

Please don’t take this movie serious, I’m not sure it even does so itself.

It’s fun to watch and has some quite good gags and as I said the soundtrack is pretty cool, but that’s about it.

The storyline, while different and probably innovative, isn’t really followed through as it is buried in crude jokes, splatter and male fantasies.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the movie as a whole and it’s a great way to shine some much needed light onto a much disregarded sub-culture, but you simply shouldn’t focus on the little things, because then it gets pretty frustrating.
And to be honest: Supernatural’s Larp and the Real Girl did a pretty good job at portraying a similar storyline without those things mentioned above…
(Or if you are more a fan of Pen&Paper make sure to check out Zombie Orpheus Entertainment/Dead Gentlemen Production’s The Gamers movies, where the whole „stay-in-character“-thing is used way more often and in quite hilarious ways)

Stuff I’d like to add

Apparently the version that got released was not the one the director Joe Lynch created, but a re-cut from Wade Bradley, after internal differences. So maybe that’s why it had those issues I mentioned. Unfortunately can I only give an opinion for this version and don’t know what the difference between them is…
So, simply see for yourself if you like or dislike this version.

PoiSonPaiNter

© For the poster belongs to its rightful owner.

Felicia Day: You’re never weird on the Internet (almost)

As second part of the Nerd-Week I want to present to you a review for Felicia Days‘ memoir You’re never weird on the Internet (almost). This book has a little tale of my own attached to it, so bear with me for a moment, before I get to the interesting part. 😉

When I first read that this book existed – or was going to be published at the time – I was curious and excited as it sounded really fun. Then I was frustrated and sad when I realized it would take me ages to even get my hands on it as I generally don’t like buying stuff over the internet in a different currency as that usually includes having access to a credit card that I do not own right now – too lazy to get a new one after mums expired. So I put it on my to-buy list for when I get the chance.

Fast forward to September 25th 2015:

SaJaehwa and I were on a stroll through Old Town Stockholm (Gamla Stan) and we had just decided to visit at least ONE book store when my eyes fell on a dragon, then on the rocket beside it and then finally on the sign „Science Fiction Bokhandeln„. Needless to say we knew what book store we wanted to visit …(I’ll tell you a bit more about this store on Saturday).

Looking through the many, many wonderful shelves I found The Guild Companion and had to ask if they have this book as well and of course they did. So without second thought I took it with me.

But what is it about anyway?

4 of 5 stars

From home-schooled weirdo to successful creator of the web series The Guild and producer of Geek and Sundry, this book tells the story of one Felicia Day and her endeavours to become the person she is today.

The reading experience

As soon as we got back to our Hostel I read the Foreword and the Introduction, if we hadn’t been in the middle of exploring Stockholm I probably would have finished the book way earlier as it was hard to put it down, but Stockholm was the priority that weekend, so the book had to wait.
Exhausted from all the running around we decided to take a break on our last evening and found ourselves in a secluded place beside one of Stockholm’s many river-arms to read. Though as the sun didn’t really reach that place and the wind made us shrink into our sweaters, we soon got back to Hostel.

As I said was I barely able to put the book down, so it’s probably not surprising that I finished the last pages before our ferry even reached the German shore again … (I also wrote the first draft of this post afterwards on a very confusing piece of paper, but that’s a different story).

The format of the book is a bit unusual. It’s quite large with large letters, but it’s still easy to read and full of funny pictures. Though quite often I had to take a pause from reading, laugh and tell SaJaehwa about what I just read – fortunately without having to translate it first.

The read was a bit jumpy at times, as it felt like the narration followed thoughts instead of time line and therefore the tale went from childhood to adulthood and got back to childhood again for another topic.
Still, that seems to be Felicia’s way of telling stuff, at least from what I can gather from what I read here and saw of her in other places.

The characters

Usually I talk about the books characters in this section, but as this is a memoir I’d be judging a real person and I’m not going to do that.

I’ll just say that I can relate to a lot of stuff she talked about.
Like always being the weird one out until I found amazing people that enjoyed similar things as I do with the help of the Internet. Knowing them makes you realize that you’re not alone and reading that a successful (business-)woman like Felicia experienced similar things and rose from them makes you want to overcome your own insecurities and strive to accomplish great things as well.

So basically the „character“ of this book is a very incredible, relateable person.

General Opinion

With the funny, entertaining and witty way Felicia tells her story you soon forget that those are things that actually happened to someone.

I really enjoyed this book for many reasons, some of which I’ve already mentioned, others I feel like I shouldn’t as those would be too personal and you simply have to read the book yourself to figure them out. 😉

This book is not just a memoir, that tells you things about an Internet Celebrity you know and like, it’s also inspiring and motivating if you yourself have projects that you would love to see recognized and loved by others.
While reading this book my perspective for certain things shifted. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to create something others like, but reading about the creation of The Guild made it even more clear to me that I had a bumpy road ahead. But at the same time it showed me that conquering that road is worth it and that giving up along the way might seem like the easy route, but that you shouldn’t take it and instead reward yourself with finishing your projects.
At least that’s what I got out of it. >_<

Long story short: I laughed a lot, could relate to several things, thought about others and took a lot from it for my own projects and endeavours.

Stuff I’d like to add

I’ll probably read it a few more times and recommend it to people who come from a nerdy background as well. Though I probably have to translate the good stuff for the people not so fluent in English, as it so far doesn’t seem like there will be a German version.

If you ever read this, Felicia: Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

See you tomorrow,

PoiSonPaiNter

© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

Mara und der Feuerbringer

As start into the new year I decided to make another special week of posts. You might remember the Book-Week, now you get the Nerd-Week with seven nerdy posts ahead!

As first part of the Nerd-Week I’d like to introduce you to this gem of a movie: Mara und der Feuerbringer or in English: Mara and the Firebringer. Based on the first part of the book trilogy of the same name by Tommy Krappweis this movie is one of the few German Fantasy movies and I simply want to give it a bit more – much deserved – spotlight.

What is it about?

The official poster

15 year old Mara Lorbeer only wants to be a normal teenager, but with a weird Wiccan mum and the fact that a twig told her that she was a Nordic-Germanic Seer (Spákona), chosen to stop Anorak, uhm, Ragnarök that is not an easy feat.

Burdened with visions of the Norse half-god Loki breaking free from his bonds she soon realises that it’s not just her imagination when she actually stands right in front of him and is tasked with the rescue of his wife Sigyn.

Still, she struggles with her fate and takes up the help of Norse Mythology expert Professor Weisinger, as she doesn’t have a clue about Anoraks, Norse gods or the whole having-to-save-the-world-business.

The watching experience

I told you a bit about this movie already here: What’cha Watching Wednesday, so I’m lazy and just quote it:

At first I thought I wouldn’t manage to see Mara und der Feuerbringer (Mara and the Firebringer), due to some scheduling issues in the marketing, but then I found out that it was screened in Greifswald and I took Schmusi and Anna from the HGWAnime with me to see it and we had a lot of fun. Finally a German Fantasy movie that isn’t as stoic and flat as German movies tend to be, has interesting characters, an interesting plot and funny dialogues. With songs like Echter wahrer Held/True Genuine Hero by Schandmaul it also has a nice soundtrack. Schmusi first thought it was [actor] Jan Josef Liefers doing the singing until I told her it was the singer of one of the bands that first got me hooked on Metal. 😀

That is a pretty good summary of what I like about this movie, but let me expand on that a little.

The marketing for this movie was pretty screwed up as the German cinema wants to put things into a category, but Mara can’t be put into the existing ones, so the one that was chosen turned out to be the wrong one (if your German is good enough, you can check out this comment by Tommy Krappweis for more information). Barely any cinemas even played the movie, others played it once or twice, then dropped it (like the one in Neubrandenburg) and a few ones kept it a bit longer (like Greifswald). So when I first saw the times it would air, I didn’t think I’d be able to see it in the cinema, but then I found the viewing mentioned above and simply wanted to use that chance to see it.

Schmusi, Anna and I had the cinema for ourselves, so I could tell them a bit about the pre-story and the fact that I personally met one of the extras.
Short version: The books were read and even beta-read with a few selected users from The Forum and one of those users (Simon the Sorcerer) managed to participate in the filming. So when his scene was shown I was a bit side tracked from the actual story line, ups… 😀
But as soon as I got the DVD I re-watched it and figured out what a certain Hobbit-extra had to say about wanting to got to the Oktoberfest. 😉

Basically: It’s a lot of fun to watch, even during a re-watch. 🙂
(Unless you’re like my Dad, who has no connection to stuff like this at all…)

The characters

Mara isn’t your typical main character, far from it. She struggles with her destiny and the powers Loki gives her to save Sigyn. At some point she basically gives up, because she’s afraid to become someone like Darth Vader or Voldemort and thinks through this in a very funny way. Still, she overcomes this fear and gets back to saving the world in a witty and clever way.

As the movie is only an adaptation of the books, you only get to see glimpses of the other characters. Professor Weissinger is a man in his mid-forties(?) ready to jump at the chance to experiences all the stuff he’d studied and so far only encountered in books and relics, but he is also a great support for Mara, as it is his knowledge that helps her understand the mess she was dragged into. With his curiosity and awkwardness he creates a few very funny scenes.

Speaking of awkwardness: Mara’s mum, she’s wonderfully awkward and it doesn’t seem overblown, but very natural. She’s one of those Wiccan’s that take themselves far too serious and it’s great.

Loki, Sigyn and the others rarely get any screen time, but they make the few times count. E.g. do I really like the way those two talk – especially Loki’s way of thanking Mara… 😀 Though it is slightly irritating that they use the „Loki is Thor’s brother“-narration for the movie. It’s either because they decided to make it more relateable for the audiences due to the success of the Marvel-approach or they found something that actually makes them brothers in the myths as well, as everything else is in the movie is well researched.

[Edit: Tommy actually answered this question in a Tweet around the time of the TV-premier of the movie. He wrote (translation): According to the Edda one could also proclaim: Odin is the Father of Gods and therefore also Loki’s father.]

Special about all these characters is that they don’t talk the way that is usually used in German movies and television and that is really refreshing and great. 🙂
But not just that is a realistic display:

  • Mara falls asleep at some point from exhaustion
  • You can see wounds, water, dirt, sweat and ashes on the characters clothes and bodies, not everything is magically clean
  • A lot of attention was paid to historical correctness, like the clothes and settings for the Norse characters

General Opinion

I really enjoy the eye for details, the languages used, the way the characters interact so normally. It’s a refreshing way of storytelling.

Or to quote myself again:

If you get the chance: Definitely check this one out!

Stuff I’d like to add

Interesting for English readers: The DVD/Blu-Ray comes with English subtitles, I don’t know if there will be an English version – and I didn’t dare to ask Tommy, even though he seems to be someone who wouldn’t mind answering questions from his viewers…

Why did I chose this movie as opener for my Nerd-Week?

Short answer: Because I can. 😀

Long answer:
Apart from the Fandom-references mentioned above there is a lot that went on behind the scenes, starting from Reeanctors/LARPer participating as extras in both the movie and the music video, over Cosplayers providing costumes and the song being based on a version from an old webseries about dimensional jumps through sneezing, up to the fact that a lot of fans from all kinds of Fandoms promoted the movie.
As I said did a lot go wrong with the marketing, but fans wouldn’t back down and organized additional screenings in cinemas or at conventions and attended them in full periodic outfits.
Then there is the fact that it was planned to be played only a couple of times at the RPC (Roleplay Convention), but ended up being played in a loop (and also received an award as Best German Fantasy Movie in the last 30 Years).
As soon as someone got wind of the project and its failing success due to the horrible screening times, those who liked it passed it on in their respective Fandoms and I believe that’s what being a Nerd is about: Enjoying something and sharing it with your friends and in this case even helping out a great project that would otherwise go completely unnoticed [Edit: (a German documentary about all this and more can be found at Rocket Beans TV) [/Edit].

So here I am continuing that and sharing it with you. 🙂

PoiSonPaiNter

© For the poster belongs to its rightful owner.

Diane Howells: The Haunted Glass

The last review for the Book-Week and I am now quite certain that a daily posting schedule is something I can’t pull off for long. Well, at least not with proper preparation beforehand, as my sleeping time gets reduced to a rather small amount without that.
Anyway, let’s have a look at The Haunted Glass or The Green Glass , as the German title (Das grüne Glas) translates.

What is it about?

2 of 5 stars


Francey is the complete opposite of the shy and polite Cam, yet they still managed to become friends, as they share an interest in spooky things. When Cam is invited to her friends home they try to communicate with the spirit world.
But it soon seems that it might not have been the best idea to use the cursed green glass Francey got as present from her uncle Gayelord for it.
The game of figuring out the story behind the glasses becomes more serious as Cam falls seriously ill and it is Francey’s task to find out how to break the curse and what role her brother Robert plays in this.

The reading experience

If you read a book with interruptions over a couple of days you soon forget layout aspects. So when I reached the page that read „Francey“, I skipped to the beginning of the book to see if there was such a thing as well and indeed it was titled „Cam“. Having read her part I had an assumption as to whom would be titular for the third part. Let’s just say: It’s not that hard to guess that part three is called „Robert“.
As the names would suggest is the focus on each character within the chapters of their part, even though the narration is still third person. The writing style changes in the way the character thinks, therefore Francey’s rude and highly colloquial attitude translates into the most difficult part to read.
With more than two hundred pages this one was also the longest of the four books, but still a relatively short read.

The characters

I kind of have trouble properly describing what I liked and disliked about the characters, as most of the stuff I want to say would be complains, but I try it anyway.
While Cam and Robert were bordering on acceptable, was Francey a whole different story. Her rudeness and general behaviour was as off-putting as I hadn’t had it with a character in a while and I am close to putting her on the same list as Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, though I’m pretty sure he is still worse. I just can’t stand this kind of character that is always complaining, always pushing people to do what they want, always so annoying and facepalm-worthy.
Still, the other ones weren’t that much better. I know there are people that are submissive, but portraying a young girl like Cam being shoved around by someone like Francey, with little insight on this not being the standard, this not being the right thing to do, just puts me off. Still, Cam’s view on things was always interesting to read.
I don’t really want to get started on the ridiculousness of every ones reactions (especially not from Cam’s mother) and behaviours. Let’s  just say: The only characters that seemed interesting had a too small part in the story (Francey’s uncle Gayelord and the guy who helped them with finding out about the glasses‘ history.)

General Opinion

In a way was this story a mixture of quest and romance, but it kind of failed on both ends, as either isn’t really followed through and quite silly (to say it lightly) at times.
While the glasses have an interesting background story, is the actual story kind of boring and – especially in Francey’s part – annoying. All this „I’m so in love, I even love his armpit hair“ from Cam and the glasses‘ original owner is just as awful as Francey’s „You’re so stupid. I need to smoke.„, as I don’t know which attitude bothered me more (Note: These are exaggerated semi-quotes and aren’t exactly like this in the book).
The topic and story line has a lot of potential and the tale starts rather good in Cam’s part, but becomes worse and worse throughout the chapters, with the highlight being the history-digression.
So much is left unexplained, while other things get the focus and occasionally sound over the top.
With semi-suspense building up towards the finale the resolution was just awfully anticlimactic.
In short: Regardless of the many character-flaws was it still an ok read as the style wasn’t too bad most of the time and the glasses‘ history was interesting.

Stuff I’d like to add

This is nothing on topic, but I’m glad I don’t have to write another book review for a while…instead you can finally expect the Wacken 2013 review and probably one for its movie-version Wacken 3D next week.
But first I’ll be enjoying my stay at the Book-Hotel. 🙂
PoiSonPaiNter
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

Ann Halam: The Haunting of Jessica Raven

The Haunting of Jessica Raven (German title: Schattenträume – Shadowdreams) is the third book from the four I planned on reading before this weekend and the second one by Ann Halam amongst them, as part of the Book-Week it’s also review number four.

What is it about?

3 of 5 stars


Jessica’s older brother Adam is fatally ill and every little bit of time they have, is spent together with the family. On one of their trips to France she meets the mysterious Jean-Luc and the scary, shoddy-looking children that follow him wherever he goes. On this meeting she acquires something he had lost.
Back in London she nearly forgets this first encounter until one evening she sees him again and it is like a dream. With each meeting she sees glimpses into his memories in France and finally she learns what she has to do with the treasure she had found. A treasure whose meaning is way more important than she had initially imagined.

The reading experience

Like the other one from Halam did this book have rather large chapters – I would even go as far as to say, it had even longer ones -, but proper endings of sentences at the end of the page made it another well fit bus-reading-book.
The narrator this time wasn’t the main character but a third person narrator, which is my preferred narrator and made the whole read even more enjoyable. Most of the things Jess came across (a crown, the people, etc.) were described pretty detailed, while other things were left to the imagination. I don’t agree with every time a description was or wasn’t given, but I can live with that.
As a huge part of the story takes place in France are there a bunch of French phrases included. Unfortunately did this book not come with an attached glossary of what they mean, but most of them were translated right away, but there are still a few where I have no idea what it translates to.

The characters

Jessica was again a female character that knew what she wanted. Studying hard and striving to look for a cure for her brothers‘ disease and not even the mysterious young man could drive her away from that. She had her moments of „I want to see him again“, but it didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream to become a Microbiologist. I always consider this to be a good trait in a female lead.
Jean-Luc most of the time felt like a ghost. Sometimes he acknowledged Jessicas presence, on other times  he dragged her along without realising who she is. His affection for her didn’t feel like forced romance, but more like genuine sympathy and joy to see her again.
Adam is a bit more present, even if it is just Jess talking about him and his condition at times. Still, the supportive older brother in a wheel chair isn’t really something you read in every novel you come across. With wits at least as good as his sisters a worthy counterpart for her.
Similar to The Fear Man were other characters mentioned and portrayed (their brother and parents, friends, etc.), but not as much as the thoughts and doings of these three were described – though thoughts only for Jess.

General Opinion

All characters had a look into their emotional depths. The despair, anger, fears, exhaustion and what not were always shown and not even the nasty details were skipped. As I said early is Adam the sick wheel chair – or crutch – using big brother. I can imagine the general take on this would have been to show the good things, but Halam went on and showed the bad things, like reactions within the family whenever Adam felt worse. It felt like a proper look into a family like that, without everything being glamorised.
The story line was quite interesting, not captivating, but an interesting concept. I really enjoyed that it wasn’t focused on the romance, even though Jess did have an obvious crush on Jean-Luc. But I guess everything else would have been difficult to explain with the conclusion, which by the way was a nice twist.
It was clear that there would be a connection to Adam’s illness, but the how was nicely done.
On occasion the (detailed) descriptions became repetitive and after the third time reading that the children are „evil“, the thought of „I know…“ became more and more prominent.
Jessicas meetings with Jean-Luc are like dreams, according to the German blurb and it is heavily hinted at it throughout the story. Regardless of the the connection being somewhat explained in the finale would I have liked a little more about how that actually worked. Not even the epilogue gave much away on this and on the other happenings.

Stuff I’d like to add

Thanks to the narrator and the other things I’ve mentioned did I enjoy this one more than the other by the authoress. After reading and pretty much enjoying two of her books, I guess I wouldn’t mind reading more by Ann Hallam/Gwyneth Jones.
PoiSonPaiNter
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

Ann Halam: The Fear Man

The Fear Man (or The Nightwindow – Das Nachtfenster) is the second of the four books I wanted to finish before the weekend and the third review of the Book-Week.

What is it about?

3 of 5 stars

Andrei is an ordinary boy, that just wants to live an ordinary life, but it has something else in mind for him. His mother is constantly on the run from something she is not telling her children, but this time she tries to settle down and provide them with a proper home. Her plan might have worked if it weren’t for the Fear Man and his garbage-monsters that keep following them, since Andrei and his sister Elsa explored an old house with a hidden secret…

The reading experience

Again I read this book in the bus and was finished quite soon as it didn’t hit the 200 pages either.
The chapters were rather long with little spacings for stops, but many sentences ended with the page end and the stopping problem I mentioned yesterday, wasn’t that bad through this.

Most of the story was rather slow, but the pace picked up whenever there was a threat to the children and during the finale. This was probably due to the first person narrator, which was a bit odd at the beginning, but I soon got used to it.

The characters

Andrei is the narrator of the story and the slow pace kind of resembles his thought process. He is far from being stupid, but he has his moments of stupidity single-mindedness. Though the decisions he makes are explained through his upbringing, it’s not always understandable why he is being so stubborn.

Elsa on the other hand is open minded and seemingly knows the things she needs to do without much thinking about them. This, however, also made her quite an arrogant person, but one of those that kind of have the right to be, thanks to their abilities. I enjoyed it when she – and the other female lead, Dita – confronted Andrei with what he didn’t want to think about. His reaction was most of the time unsatisfying, yet understandable for his kind of character.

Those three are pretty much the whole cast. We learn about the mother, Andrei’s father and other adults (and kids), but even if they play a plot-related role they don’t appear that often.
Still, there was some kind of sympathy for the mother and aversion towards the father, on my part.

All three women (Elsa, Dita, mother) were a nice change to the lovey-dovey girls/women I had to read about in The Awakening and The Hunter’s Moon. They were strong, stubborn, independent and simply women who don’t let anyone tell them how to live their life. Of course they also had their issues, but they were still a nice variation of the most common interpretation of the gender.

General Opinion

This one was definitely better than Tiger Tiger, even though it also follows a boy – this time even his point of view the whole time.

From quite early on it was clear that there would be another element in the mix. The creatures attacking them let you think as much already in the blurb. Elsa later gave it a name: Magic. And this time it was explained how it works, who is able to use it and how this gift is inherited. All the information I missed in the previous novel. I enjoyed the descriptions of the magic and its user. It was nice, something different, something phantastical, yet still a bit sciency and rational. I like that, but there still could have been a little more of it. Like how did Elsa know which spells/enchantments to use? Is the knowledge inherited as well or did she read something? It was only described as her being a natural talent, but I still would have liked a bit more about it.

The story was really an improvement and made me wonder whether I should really give the book away or simply keep it until I have or know kids in the proper age that want to start reading. It seems to me like a nice start into more elaborate fiction.

Stuff I’d like to add

As I learned while looking for the book on GoodReads is Ann Halam the pseudonym of the authoress Gwyneth Jones.

And I cheated a bit with the posting date as I wanted to post a review a day, but right now it’s already the 24th and I wasn’t finished. After attending the advanced showing of Wacken 3D we spontaneously decided to have a drink in the English pub and well, one drink became two and bam was it close to midnight and after midnight when I arrived at my place…

PoiSonPaiNter

© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

Melvin Burgess: Tiger Tiger

While reading The Hunter’s Moon I decided that I wanted to read four books before they might be swapped at the Book Hotel this weekend. The first of them was Tiger Tiger, which subsequently also became the „book in a genre I don’t usually read“ in BiblioSmile’s Summer Book Challenge and thus the first one I finished (and now reviewed).

What is it about?

2 of 5 stars


Steve is fascinated by the tigers in the nearby tiger-park, he especially has taken a shine on the tigress Lila that hunts quite differently from her conspecifics. One night a group of people break into the park and cause a massacrer amongst the endangered species. A few tigers manage to flee thanks to Lila’s abilities, but not even Steve suspects anything when the young girl with the amber eyes appears in his home.

The reading experience

As the book is not even 200 pages long did it only take me a couple of bus rides to finish it. The chapter structure is quite unusual as the different narration strands switch within the chapter so that one part can be what Steve experiences, the next the hunters and the last one being the tigers.
And yes there were parts that depicted the doings and some of the thoughts of the tigers, which was in a way pretty cool, but also quite strange as the thought-process was described in a different writing style as the one for humans. Of course animals think differently, but it felt like a break of style whenever Burgess wrote from the tigers perspective.

The characters

I can’t remember ever reading how old Steve is, but my guess would be that he is between 14-16 (still in school but already attracted to girls). He has a strange obsession with the tigers – especially Lila – which makes him an unintentional ally of the fled big cats. In a way is he quite simple minded and that’s what makes reading about him quite difficult for me as I prefer character with a certain spark to them.
Lila on the other hand had at least the abilities aspect with her. Quite soon it was clear that she isn’t a normal tiger, the term „magical“ was even mentioned a couple of times, which was fitting for what she was able to do. Still, she was still an animal that thought in an animal-way and as I wrote before was it hard to fully grasp her thought-process. I don’t think writing this was easy either, therefore this is an interesting choice for the narrative. The other tigers were mostly mentioned through Lila’s eyes, so we didn’t really get any inside look into them. Still, the magical tiger wasn’t that much tiger-like, but that comes with the abilities I suppose.
The description of the girl was sometimes quite weird and mostly manoeuvred between utterly ridiculous and what-the-****.  Especially the where-did-her-clothes-go? part was quite confusing…
The hunters and remaining humans were all only briefly mentioned and described, usually when their plot line was about to connect with the one from Steve or Lila, but manly the latter one. Their – and everyone’s except Steve’s beside wanting to help the tigers – motives were pretty much obvious: They wanted money, so they killed and collected the tigers – at least they tried to do that.  Nothing too special about it.
In short: There wasn’t really a character I connected with. I pitied a few (the park director, the dead tigers) and shook my head at others (the hunters, Steve, Lila), but nothing that made them special.

General Opinion

There are three things that bug me the most about this story:
#1: The term „magical“ tiger is used so often, but it is nether explained what it even means. How can such a tiger exist? How does it come into being? What else can she do? Would her powers be passed on to others (offspring, human)? I would have liked a little more insight on that, but instead I had to just accept the fact that she is a magical tiger, whose abilities include being able to let clothes vanish…
#2: The ending is pretty open. We don’t know what will happen to the tiger park, to the remaining tigers and so forth. As it is not a continued story this is something I consider to be quite annoying – though open ends in a series can be worse…
#3: I know Lila wants to preserve her race, but was THAT (I don’t want to spoiler it, but if you read it I am pretty sure you will know what I mean) really necessary for doing so? And was it necessary to describe it in young adult fiction? That is really something I do not want to read in a book like that, even if I’m way beyond the target audience.
Other than that was it an ok read. Nothing special, but still interesting enough to continue.

Stuff I’d like to add

For some odd reason I really don’t have to add anything this time…hmm…strange…
PoiSonPaiNter
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

O.R. Melling: The Hunter's Moon

As my mum and I will be staying a the Book Hotel this weekend did I spontaneously decide to declare this week „Book-Week„. With this I’ll try to finish the reviews I’ve accumulated so far, maybe this will help to shorten my To-Finish list a bit.
I was looking for something entirely different when I passed the reduced books in a store and the glittering cover of The Hunter’s Moon caught my attention. After reading the title (the translation of the German title would be „In the Shadow of the Elven moon“ – Im Schatten des Elfenmonds) I contemplated a moment if I should really pick it up, as Elves aren’t really my thing. Against my better judgement of already having far too many unread books did I have a look at the blurb and after reading so much about Ireland and its folklore over at Ed Mooney Photography and The Fairytale Traveler I simply couldn’t resist actually buying it and totally blame it on them.

Why is that? What is it about?

3 of 5 stars


The Hunter’s Moon tells the story of Gwen and her Cousin that had planned on travelling the Emerald Isle for quite some time and are now finally on their way. Though nothing actually goes as planned when the Faerie folk gets involved and somewhat kidnap Findabhair.
Instead of being with her cousin Gwen now has to try to get her back from the Elves, hitch-hiking from one mythical place to the other, facing challenges and threats and meeting new allies along the way.

The reading experience

For some odd reason that I also blame on the aforementioned culprits did I start reading right away, I think even while I was waiting for the bus. If not, I started reading it as bus-literature the next day and finished it quite fast. Thanks to its fluent writing and nice short chapters was it easy to do that and be at a proper stop whenever my ride ended. (It annoys me if I have to stop a chapter right in the middle of a paragraph)
The thing that bugged me while reading was the language the girls used, though this might be due to the translation. They spoke in a tone that sounded so forcefully colloquial that it wasn’t fun reading their conversations. Though it did get better towards the end.
A thing that constantly confused me were the Irish words sprinkled into the sentences, but I’ll get to that later.

The characters

The main character is the sixteen year old Gwen (short for Gwenhyvar, I believe). A chubby, shy thing that has to overcome her fears to get to her cousin in time. Well, at least this set up sounded great in the beginning. Very soon these things weren’t really mentioned any more as if it only was used to establish that the girl is this way and then dropped because everyone she meets is sooo beyond judging her by physical appearance. Alternatively she thinned out quite a bit while running around looking for a ride to catch. Honestly, as someone who is quite fluffy and has experienced the looks and reactions one can get, this behaviour/change just sounds odd to me. I’ve heard of the hospitality of the Irish, but no reaction towards something that was supposed to burden her in the way it was described in the beginning makes this kind of strange. Of course she gains confidence throughout her journey, but it still happens too fast for my taste…
On the other hand is she quite gullible when it comes to the people she’s meeting and trusts them more or less instantly – which nearly got her killed a couple of times.
In short: I would have liked to smack her upside the head on more than one occasion.
Then there is Finabhair, whose name I always misread and mostly stopped reading it at the Fina. I’m not sure what I can write about her without sounding rude, but I guess I’m just really not a fan of strong females turning into lovesick dumbos. Even though she was annoying in the way she treated her cousin was her „I made the Faerie King fall in love with me and now I’m going to save his race“-attitude even more tiring.
Her beloved Finvara wasn’t better and it greatly bugged me when he still flirted with Gwen after being with Fin. But as we learned in the book: Faeries think differently about those things. They also have strange ways of stopping or supporting people but that seems to be based more on the folklore than on artistic license.
Just like Gwen her red headed helpers are also quite credulous and more than jumped at the chance to help the random girl they had only known for a couple of hours. If only half the people I come across were this loyal after our first meeting, I think I wouldn’t have so many trust issues. Nevertheless, they seemed more interesting than the actual main cast – well except the Island King, who rather soon fell into the „I barely know you, but I love you sooo much“-cliché.
Still, the whole „we only met shortly, but that’s enough for doing indescribable things for each other“ mind-set bugs me…

General Opinion

As a book about folklore it is really interesting to learn about these different mythical places as Melling certainly knows her way around it.
As a quest throughout Ireland-story it unfortunately felt a bit dull and rushed at times, with the most interesting aspect really being the insights into the Fae world and the finale.
It was still nice to read, but I don’t think I’ll continue with the other books of the The Chronicles of the Faerie – even though the fourth one sounds interesting.

Stuff I’d like to add

It’s strange that the authoresses daughter has the same name as the character, but I don’t know if she either was just an inspiration or Finabhair was an actual self-insert for her.
As I have the habit of skipping to the end to read the last page I discovered, after I read a couple of chapters and felt slightly annoyed by not understanding the Irish phrases, that there is a glossary at the end of the book that explains them and some of the places. It showed the incredible knowledge Melling has about her home even more. What it also showed me is that I have know idea how to properly pronounce Irish words…I would have read so many of them so wrong…
I consider languages to be a fascinating topic, but I don’t like having stories with other languages within them and no explanation for their meaning. Therefore this glossary was quite helpful – if depressing, when it comes to my lack of understanding…
But the „worst“ result of reading this book is that the thought Ed and the Christa had implanted in my mind with their posts about the Island has gotten more footing.
Now my wish to travel to Ireland is slightly larger than to do the same with Scotland.
Not to mention that I’ve already looked for dates, flights, accommodations and a couple of other things for a possible visit later this year…
PoiSonPaiNter
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

Lisa J. Smith: The Awakening

Some time last year, when I just wanted to read something before going to bed I picked up the short book that is the first Vampire Diaries novel. A German publisher sold a package-deal for the first novels and I got it back then, as I was curious how the books were different from the series. After I finished Eric, I thought, I might as well finish The Awakening as well. In regards to BiblioSmile’s Challenge is it also about time that I post this review, as I had chosen the second part for the bonus category.

What is it about?

2 of 5 stars


The Vampire Diaries tell the stories of the high school princess Elena Gilbert. At the beginning of a new school year she meets Stefano Salvatore – at that time posing as transfer student – and falls hopelessly in love with him. When he doesn’t reply her flirting and advances she gets mad at him and tries to make him jealous. This however culminates into an evening full of strange happenings and revelations. The more she learns about her beloved, the more she also learns about his past, but when a corpse is found people start second guessing the strange newcomer; not knowing that a second, much more dangerous vampire came to the small town of Fall’s Church as well: Stefano’s brother Damon that isn’t living on a strictly animal diet like his brother.

The reading experience

As I said did I start reading this as bedside reading one or two chapters at a time, before I finished it in nearly one sitting, so you could say that it was at least fluently enough written to do that.
Where I enjoyed the journal-writing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, did I not really enjoy it here. Stoker’s version was eloquently written by different characters, but here it was simply a teenage girl writing down her troubled thoughts in a diary. Combine this with first person narration and you have something that is more fit to be a young people fiction than one for young adults. Other than the scattered diary entries, was the book written in third person narrative, which made it more bearable.

The characters

This book again proved to me that I have a huge problem with main characters. Elena or her (seemingly) previous incarnation Katerina just annoyed me. A self-obsessed high school princess that freaks out if someone ignores her, is really not something I enjoy reading about. Katerina isn’t much better, as she manipulates and plays with the people around her like she owns them; though this is a trade she shares with the school girl. Elena starts as a strong, independent woman, but the more she „falls in love“ the more insecure and annoying she gets. It is just such a drastic change from „I do what I want“ to „What would XY think if I did this?“ and it’s a shame that Smith made her become dependant on her love-interest.
Not really better in terms of characterization is the love-interest/mysterious new classmate/vampire-guy Stefano. He seems shallow and single-minded, especially when confronted with Elena/Katerina and in my opinion quite dull.
A bit more interesting were the moments when there was interaction with his brother, Damon, that at least seemed sinister enough to become interesting.
The other people weren’t really memorable, as they didn’t do anything special and seemed just as dull as the others. Only the one girl with the voodoo(?)-grandma seemed interesting, but that might be due to some spoilers for her development that I caught.
In short: So far I’m highly disappointed at the characters and really hope they become more interesting and don’t stay this shallow and annoying.

General Opinion

While re-reading the stuff we wrote for „Warlords„, we occasionally were baffled by how sappy certain parts were, but reading this book made me think, that what we wrote doesn’t sound that horrible. In fact, while reading some pages I must have had a look of utter disbelief on my faces, as the thoughts „Please make this stop“ and „Not again…“ and the like crossed my mind. I really don’t like that kind of lovey-dovey, cheesy way of describing this kind of relationship, it annoys me.
Strong female falls in in love handsome stranger on the first look and never wants to leave his side ever again is not really my kind of story…
There wasn’t really any suspense and stuff either to make up for it, but at least a little of it was there. Not much though as you could see through stuff quite easily.
But as I already have them, I guess I will still continue to read the other books (as my mum said they get a little more interesting and a little less cheesy).

Stuff I’d like to add

The book was first released under title  in German („Das Erwachen„), but with its re-release in 2008 it was changed. Jumping on the Twilight bandwagon it was aptly called „Im Zwielicht“ („In the Twilight“). Just as every following novel was re-named accordingly.
PoiSonPaiNter
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.