Tag Archives: book-week

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.