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review 2017-07-12 11:05
Ich werde wohl nie ein Fan der Chic-Lit
P.S. Ich liebe Dich - Cecelia Ahern,Christine Strüh

Einst schwor ich, sollte mir jemals ein Chic-Lit-Roman begegnen, der mein Interesse weckt, würde ich ihm eine Chance geben. Im April 2017 ging ich an der Buch-Telefonzelle vorbei, die bei uns in der Nähe aufgestellt ist. Einem Impuls folgend schaute ich mir an, welche Bücher dort aktuell auf ein neues Zuhause warteten und hielt plötzlich „P.S. Ich liebe Dich“ von Cecelia Ahern in der Hand. Ich kannte die Geschichte bereits, denn vor Jahren hatte ich die Verfilmung mit Gerard Butler und Hilary Swank gesehen. Ich mochte den Film, also entschied ich meinem Vorsatz entsprechend, es mit dem Buch zu versuchen. Gekauft hätte ich es sicherlich nicht, aber da ich es umsonst ergatterte, fand ich, ich hätte nichts zu verlieren.

 

Man sagt, stirbt ein geliebter Mensch, stirbt ein Teil von uns mit ihm. Als Gerry starb, verlor Holly nicht nur ihren Ehemann, ihren besten Freund und ihren Seelenverwandten, sondern auch sich selbst. Sie weiß nicht, wie sie allein weiterleben soll. Gerry war ihre ganze Welt, die Sonne ihres Universums. Depression und Trauer haben sie fest im Griff. An den meisten Tagen findet sie nicht einmal die Kraft, aufzustehen. Doch ihr Angetrauter kannte seine Frau besser, als sie dachte. Nach seinem Tod erreicht Holly ein Päckchen, in dem sich 10 nach Monaten beschriftete Briefe befinden. Hollys Herz setzt beinahe aus, als sie Gerrys Handschrift erkennt. Jeder Brief enthält genaue Anweisungen; Aufgaben, die Holly Monat für Monat meistern soll. Zögernd, aber entschlossen, Gerrys Wünsche zu erfüllen, begibt sie sich auf die schwerste und beängstigendste Reise, die sie je unternehmen musste: den Weg zurück ins Leben.

 

Ich denke, ich habe durch „P.S. Ich liebe Dich“ herausgefunden, welches grundsätzliche Problem ich mit Chic-Lit habe. Doch bevor ich euch von dieser bahnbrechenden Erkenntnis berichte, erst einmal ein paar Worte zum Buch selbst. Für das richtige Publikum ist Cecelia Aherns Erfolgsroman garantiert die Erfüllung eines literarischen Traums. Die Idee, dass der verstorbene Gerry seiner Frau Briefe hinterlässt, um ihr zurück ins Leben zu helfen, ist ohne Zweifel süß und – so ungern ich das Wort gebrauche – romantisch. Gerry liebte Holly und kannte sie gut genug, um zu wissen, dass es ihr schwerfallen würde, sich eine Zukunft ohne ihn vorzustellen. Trauer lähmt. Cecelia Ahern illustriert diesen Fakt elegant, indem sie Hollys Umfeld große Veränderungen durchleben lässt, während sie selbst stillsteht. Um sie herum geht das Leben weiter, nur sie tritt auf der Stelle. Gerrys Tod versetzte sie verständlicherweise in eine Schockstarre, aus der sie erst die Briefe langsam befreien. Sie ist verblendet, vollkommen in ihrer Trauer versunken und nicht mehr in der Lage, sich selbst korrekt wahrzunehmen. Als sie sich in einem Film sieht, den ihr Bruder an einem feuchtfröhlichen Abend mit ihren Freundinnen drehte, ist Holly schockiert, wie unfassbar traurig sie nach außen wirkt. Sie glaubte, sich gut zu schlagen, dabei ist ihr ins Gesicht geschrieben, wie furchtbar unglücklich sie ist. Ahern versäumt es nicht, abzubilden, dass ein Verlust dieser Größenordnung durchaus hässliche Seiten hat. Holly ist selten eine würdevoll trauernde Witwe, oft überkommen sie giftige, eifersüchtige, ungerechte Gefühle und Gedanken, betrachtet sie das Glück ihres Freundeskreises. Ich fand ihren Trauerprozess insgesamt sehr realistisch beschrieben und hatte keinerlei Schwierigkeiten, jede der vier Phasen (nach Kast) zu erkennen und nachzuvollziehen. Trotz dessen berührte mich Hollys Leidensweg nicht in dem Maße, wie er es vermutlich sollte. Zu oft wurde ich daran erinnert, wie abhängig die junge Frau von ihrem Ehemann war. Das Frauenbild, das Holly verkörpert, widerspricht allem, was ich mir für mein Leben wünsche. Ohne Gerry hat Holly nichts: kaum Freunde, keine Hobbys, keinen Job und keinen Lebenssinn. Sie definierte sich über ihre Beziehung; es war ihr genug, Gerrys bessere Hälfte zu sein und er scheint sie nie dazu inspiriert zu haben, mehr erreichen zu wollen. Er ist an ihrer Hilflosigkeit nicht unschuldig, denn er ließ es zu, dass sie sich von ihm abhängig machte. Sie sah sich nie veranlasst, eine eigenständige Persönlichkeit zu entwickeln und steht deshalb jetzt vor der Mammutaufgabe, sich selbst zu erfinden. Ich konnte sie nur bedingt bemitleiden, weil ich das Gefühl hatte, ihre unbestreitbar schmerzhafte und grauenvolle Situation wäre leichter zu ertragen gewesen, hätte sie sich bereits weit vor Gerrys Tod ein eigenes Leben aufgebaut. Außerdem war mir der Druck, Holly bemitleiden zu müssen, viel zu stark. Ich denke, DAS ist mein Problem mit der Chic-Lit. Ich reagiere allergisch auf die allzu plakative Manipulation meiner Emotionen. Ich will Mitgefühl empfinden, weil die Figuren es verdienen, nicht, weil ich gezwungen werde. Ich will aus eigenem Antrieb weinen, nicht, weil ich keine andere Wahl habe. Zwang erstickt jegliches natürliche Gefühl im Keim.

 

„P.S. Ich liebe Dich“ ist ein gutes Buch. Das kann ich reinen Gewissens behaupten. Cecelia Aherns nahbarer Schreibstil liest sich leicht und flüssig; die Geschichte ist einfühlsam und psychologisch realistisch, wenn auch ein wenig kitschig, was ich allerdings erwartet hatte. Ich bereue nicht, es gelesen zu haben, obwohl mich der Film damals besser erreichte. Das wichtigste Ergebnis dieses Lektüre-Experiments ist für mich indes, verstanden zu haben, warum ich der Chic-Lit kaum etwas abgewinnen kann. Alle Autor_innen manipulieren die Gefühle ihrer Leser_innen. Das ist ihr Job als Geschichtenerzähler_innen. Autor_innen wie Cecelia Ahern jedoch spielen berechenbar und unverblümt auf der Klaviatur der Emotionen, was mir persönlich einfach nicht subtil genug ist. Kurz gesagt, ich möchte nicht merken, dass ich manipuliert werde. Daher werde ich vermutlich niemals ein Fan der Chic-Lit. Und das ist okay. Ich habe es versucht, herausgefunden, dass es mir nicht zusagt und die Gründe dafür analysiert. Fall abgeschlossen.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/cecelia-ahern-p-s-ich-liebe-dich
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review 2017-05-31 00:56
Infected: Freefall (Infected # 4)
Infected: Freefall - Andrea Speed

In this two-fer, Roan's falling apart. Not literally, but definitely figuratively - and okay, a little literally I guess. It's not pretty, folks. Well, except maybe that one scene was pretty sweet. You know the one. 

When Roan goes to confront the new DT guy who put out the hit on Dylan. Hahahaha, that scene was pretty rad. While also being worrisome.

(spoiler show)

 

The main case in book one involves a trans-male looking for his missing son. At this point in the series, I guess I have to accept that the cases just aren't going to be worked out like they would in a typical mystery series. I thought there was a really fricking obvious potential lead that was never followed up on when the kid originally went missing - 

The crazy anti-cat church fanatic lady with a baby. Um... seems she'd be the type to steal a child away from a transexual parent, you know?

(spoiler show)

- but Roan goes in the complete opposite direction. He never even considers that other lead, which just seemed really strange to me that he wouldn't. I know he's got spidey senses and at this point we're just supposed to assume he's probably right even when it can't be verified, but that was still a glaring oversight. The case in book two was much better executed and had the weight and scope to carry the whole book from start to finish, bringing in Holden again and getting to see the whole "team," ragtag though they may be, working together. This is more what I expected all the cases to be like. 

 

I have to say, as much as I like Dylan as a character, I'm just not feeling him and Roan as an item. Maybe because Roan's not really feeling it. He's gutted after the loss of Paris and probably should've taken more time to mourn before getting involved with someone else. We do get some POVs from Dylan's perspective, which certainly helps, but I still don't really understand his motivation for staying with Roan or wanting to be in a relationship with him. Since this isn't a romance series, I have no idea if they're supposed to have staying power and we the readers should be rooting for them, but I honestly want to see Dylan move on and find someone else. I love Roan, but the dude is not good for Dylan at this point.

 

I continue to appreciate how real Roan is as a character. The various side characters aren't always prominent in each book, but when they are, I feel that's when this series is at it's strongest. Ms. Speed's characters are complicated and don't always make the best choices - looking at you, Holden - but you can understand why they make them even if you don't agree with them. 

 

The weird potentially transphobic language is still present in this book, and I'm starting to get a little weary of the guys referring to themselves as queens all the time. I'm not a gay man, so maybe I just don't get it. *shrugs* Yes, I'm sure this is how some people actually talk but it still makes me uncomfortable, and it seems improbable that every single person Roan knows, including Roan himself, would talk like that.

 

This book still has the same issues with editing as the previous books. I guess it really is true that Dreamspinner doesn't bother with editing their books anymore because the overuse of "his" when the "his" being referred to isn't clear and the repetition is ridiculous at this point. There was one point where Roan thinks no less than five times over the course of about five pages that he doesn't know why he's angry with Dylan over a painting Dylan made. Three of those times were in a single paragraph. That's probably the worst example, but there are others. Get better editors, DSP!

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review 2017-05-20 05:46
Infected: Life After Death (Infected #3)
Infected: Life After Death - Andrea Speed

Aw, poor Roan. :(

 

There were a lot of heartfelt and bittersweet moments in this installment, which again gives us two books in one. Roan's mourning has been significant, and while he's now back in the land of the living, he's still not yet finished mourning. His depression has also hit an all-time low, even with friends and a possible new love interest making sure he doesn't retreat back into himself. 

 

The characters continue to be the strong point of this series. Paris still has a presence here, especially in Book 1, and his wish to see Roan looked after is very much fulfilled. We get to meet a couple of new characters also, including the hilarious dominatrix Fiona and the complex hustler Holden. And of course, there's Dylan, who understands Roan in a way few others can. He's also loved and lost, and he offers an ear and friendship when Roan needs it most. 

 

 

The cases in Book 1 aren't as involved, and one even gets dropped, though there's a note at the very end briefly explaining it's outcome. Book 2 brings back the political unrest of the first book, along with Eli, and the new cases here are a bit more involved. It's suiting to Roan's moods as the book progresses that the cases get more complex, but they're still not quite at the level I'm used to expecting.

 

I still wish Ms. Speed would delve more into the hows and whys of the virus. We get a teensy bit more here, but not much. It's still unknown how the virus started (but come on, there have to be conspiracy theories) or how it really works, or why Roan's case is so vastly different from every other infected. I'm getting a little better at rolling with all this shifter business, though I am worried Roan's going to give himself throat cancer or something if he keeps tearing up his larynx like that. The shifter stuff is interesting, I suppose, though I'll never respond in a "ooh-la-la" way to it. I mean, I love my cats. I just don't loooove my cats. ;)

 

The ending of Book 2 was rather rushed. The final chapter was definitely epiloguey in the way it wrapped everything up. I'm greedy when I'm enjoying the world I'm in. Don't sum up; show me everything! The big talk between Roan and Dylan is completely skipped and barely even glossed over. I wanted to see that. That's a very important step not just for Roan moving on with his life but for Roan and Dylan figuring out their fledgling relationship. Why would you skip that?

 

There were a few continuity errors - such as Book 2 being noted as being "one month later" after Book 1, but then it's said Roan hasn't seen Matt in a year. No, it's been a month. There are also several mentions of Roan's funky bedsheets in Book 1, which even get bloodied at one point, and Roan keeps thinking about washing them, but who knows when he ever does. They're little things, but they bugged me. A good content editor should've pointed those things out. (And since we find out later Roan had just gone through a transition cycle four days before the start of this book, there's no reason for his sheets to be funky at all - at least not until Roan gets into bed all bloody and gross. He was in a cage every night for at least three nights in a row. No one thought to do some laundry? Epic fail, guys. At least spritz some Fabreeze, geez.)

 

I don't recall if I already mentioned Ms. Speed's used of parentheticals. I love parentheses, so that doesn't bother me. What did start to annoy me was the use of (?) and (!) throughout the text. It started to feel like the author wanted to nudge the reader toward certain emotional responses. And in one case, the transexual prostitute, who we learn a great deal about but never actually meet, the use of (?) after her name was ... I'm not sure what it was. At first I thought it was supposed to indicate that Roan wasn't sure it was actually her, even though he identified her immediately in the previous paragraph. But as I read on and she was mentioned again later, I started to feel a transphobic vibe from the text. It was very odd. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt, at least for now, and assume clumsy exposition. 

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review 2017-04-08 02:58
Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy is about a young boy who is sent to an orphanage at the age of six after his mother passes away. This story is taken place during the Great Depression. Bud is determined to find his biological father while he is moving from the orphanage to different families. I read this story a couple of years ago and thought it was fantastic.

 

This novel could be read in a 3-5th grade classroom aloud, or it could be read in 6-8th grade. I would use this story to have comprehension, analysis and theme discussions as reading it aloud in the class. I would have 5th grade students choose one object or person from the story that is a symbolic representation and have them write about it. For 3rd or 4th graders, I would have them choose one of the main characters and create a word web describing that character.

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review 2017-03-08 22:28
1970s Australia from the point of view of a child with an edge of creepiness and intrigue
The Silent Kookaburra - Liza Perrat

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy that I voluntarily chose to review.

The story —set in an Australia richly brought to life by the writing that describes landscape, animals, trees, food, furniture, cars, lifestyle and social mores— is told in the first person by Tanya Randall. Adult Tanya is back in her childhood cottage and a newspaper cutting from 1973, which her grandmother kept, makes her remember that time when she was only eleven. The story of adult Tanya frames that of her childhood memories, which take up most of the book (I had almost forgotten that fact until the very end of the story).

Young Tanya is quite innocent (of course, she doesn’t think so), overweight (she eats compulsively, seemingly to comfort herself when the situation gets difficult at home, when they call her names, when she has any upsets or… most of the time. There are long lists of biscuits and other foods she consumes at an alarming pace, well-researched for the period, although I’m not familiar with them), and loves her mother, father, cat (that she insists on walking as if it were a dog, even if that brings her even more unwanted attention), dog, true crime magazines, and her friend Angelina, although not so much her grandmother, Nanna Purvis.

Seeing (or reading) things from a child’s point of view is a good way to reflect on how adult behaviour might appear to children and how difficult certain things might be to process and understand. Her mother’s miscarriages and depression (that keeps getting missed until very late in the novel), her secret uncle’s devious behaviour (it’s hard to read the scenes of Tanya with her uncle, as she’s clearly craving for attention and we know from early on where things are headed, but Tanya doesn’t and she finds it more and more difficult to extricate herself from the situation). The author is excellent at making us share her point of view and her thought processes that create an atmosphere of dread and impending disaster. The dualistic life view of young children, for whom everything is black or white is reflected perfectly in Tanya’s reactions to her grandmother (whom at first she doesn’t like at all but later, as she realises she’s the only one to stick by her, goes on to become complicit with) and to her uncle, who goes from being perfect to being a monster (although the novel suggests that he had also been a victim).

The novel is not easy to classify, although it comes under the thriller label, but it is a psychological exploration of childhood, memory, tragedy, the lies we tell ourselves, and also a work of historical (albeit recent history) fiction, as it beautifully recreates the time and place (down details such as hit songs, records of the era, bicycles, toys, cars, magazines, foodstuffs, clothing and hairdos) and even historical events, like the opening of the Sidney Opera House. There is something of a twist at the end, and plenty of secrets, like in most domestic noir novels, but for me, the strong points are the way the story is told, and some of the characters. Nanna Purvis (who is a fantastic character and proves that grandmothers are almost always right) has old-fashioned ideas about relationships, sexuality, religion and race, but manages to surprise us and has good insight into her own family. Tanya reminded me of myself at her age (although I read other types of books, I was also overweight and wasn’t the most popular girl at school, and we also lived with my mother’s mother, although thankfully my home circumstances were not as tragic) and she tries hard to keep her family together. Her point of view and her understanding are limited, and her actions and frame of mind repetitive at times (she munches through countless packets of biscuits, pulls at her cowlick often, bemoans the unattractive shape of her ears, wonders if she’s adopted) as it befits a character of her age and historical period (so close but yet so far. No internet, no social media, no easy way to access information). Real life is not a succession of exciting events; even at times of crisis, most of our lives are taken up by routine actions and everyday tasks. Her mother’s sinking into depression and her bizarre behaviour, which is sadly misunderstood and left untreated for far too long, rang a chord with me as a psychiatrist. It is an accurate portrayal of such conditions, of the effect the illness can have not only on the sufferers but also on the family, and of the reactions of the society to such illnesses (especially at the time). Uncle Blackie is also a fascinating character but I won’t say anything else as I want to avoid spoilers. Although the setting and the atmosphere are very different, it brought to my mind some of Henry James’s stories, in particular, What Maisie Knew and The Turn of the Screw.

This is a great novel that I recommend to those who are interested in accurate psychological portrayals, reflections on the nature of memory, and books with a strong sense of setting and historical period, rather than fast action and an ever changing plot. A word of warning: it will be difficult to read for those with a low tolerance for stories about child abuse and bullying. If you’re a fan of good writing that submerges you into a time and place and plunges you inside of a character’s head, with an edge of creepiness and intrigue, this is your book.

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