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review 2018-10-19 15:46
The Bird King - G. Willow Wilson
The Bird King - G. Willow Wilson

I'd really enjoyed this author's previous book, Alif the Unseen, so was delighted to see she was back to writing novel-length work again, though I have to say I've also been loving her work with Ms Marvel... All of which meant I was more than delighted when my Netgalley request for an ARC of The Bird King was accepted and happily settled down this week to reading it. 

 

The basic premise of The Bird King is that it's set in the time when the Moors were losing their grip on Spain, initially taking place in the court of the emperor in Granada. Our main character, Fatima, is one of the emperor's concubines - she was born within the palace's confines and has never known the outside world, her best friend being Hassan the cartographer who she visits illicitly. Hassan has a special gift, in that he is able to use the maps he makes to connect places together and Fatima uses this to obtain a little insight into the world outside the one she knows. 

 

When the would-be Spanish monarchy come calling, with the Inquisition in tow, Hassan's life is threatened and Fatima decides that the best thing to do is for both of them to run away. Aided by a djinn that they discover has been living in the palace, they decide to head for the island occupied by the eponymous king of the birds, the subject of a story they had both grown up with. Neither Fatima or Hassan are particularly equipped for such a journey, in more ways than one, but they head out anyway since they have very few other options that don't involve Hassan being burnt alive for sorcery. 

 

This is such a beautifully-written book, striking just the right balance between getting the details precise and making a drama of how much research must have been required. Fatima, in particular, is a great character and stands out from the page - she doesn't always make the right decision but you believe the ones she does make. Hassan and the other characters are strong too, including the main antagonist and that's not always something writers manage to do well. Moustache-twirling evil is much easier than banal belief that you're doing the right thing and everyone else ought to fall in line. 

 

Anyway, in short: I hope The Bird King is the first of many more novels from this author and I can't wait to get my hands on a paper copy when it goes on sale next year. 

 

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2018-10-19 14:10
Relics and Curiosities
The Midnight Eye Files: The Skin Game - William Meikle

 

A manky old belt made of fur can change a person into a werewolf.

 

We never really find out how or why except the belt was made in the 1400's? by a magician or alchemist.

 

The story takes us from Glasgow, Scotland to a remote ranch in Novia Scotia.

 

Not too heavy, though the main character tries too hard to sound like one the famous detectives from the old black and white movies and dime store stories, like from the Maltese Falcon.  He doesn't quite pull it off.

 

 

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review 2018-10-18 18:47
Review: Everless
Everless - Sara Holland

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This is one of the most original fantasies I have come across in a while. While I can’t say I was that invested in any of the characters, I found the actual story itself and the world building totally captivating and the combination of the two made it book impossible to put down. In this fantasy time is a commodity that can be bought and sold.

 

The world building was               quite complicated, or at least for me, the combination of magic and science and the whole buying and selling time. The setting was a small, town on the edge of a huge estate where the wealthiest family in the district ruled over everything.

 

The heroine Jules used to live at the estate where her father was a revered blacksmith, but a secret caused them to flee in the middle of the night and now they are barely eeking out a living in a tiny cottage on the edge of the forest. Her father is in debt and sick. So Jules hatches a plan to sell her own time and repay his debts

 

Yet she finds herself presented with an opportunity for employment at the estate, Everless, where she once lived. Seizing the moment, Jules makes herself a plan to save her father. She worms her way into employment at Everless.

 

Jules is one of the brighter YA heroines, she’s smart and thinks things through. She plans and doesn’t seem to act recklessly when things don’t go according to plan. She was a little bit two dimensional but likeable enough. Back at Everless while in a different capacity than she was previously, she’s of course flooded with memories of her time back then, and the mystery of why she and her father fled in the first place. And she has to deal with the two sons of the Lord of Everless. One of whom was a great friend and played with her when they were children, who has grown up to be devastatingly handsome and quite the ladies man. He’s engaged to the Queen’s daughter. And his brother – who was a mean bully.

 

The plot gets quite twisty, there’s a legend on how time came to be used as a commodity, a vicious queen who everyone’s terrified of visiting Everless, Jules discovers she has time letting abilities that are beyond normal, a hidden vault where Jules believes she will get some of the answers she seeks, there are plenty of secrets – including a mystery to solve about Jules’s deceased mother, and some things her father neglected to tell her. And people who turn out to be nothing like you thought they were.

 

I read this quite some time ago so I can’t remember all the details. Just that it was a really good one, quite different and I liked it. I’ve already pre ordered the next one.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Hatchette Children’s Group for the review copy.

 

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review 2018-10-18 17:57
Rezension | Die Legenden der besonderen Kinder von Ransom Riggs
Die Legenden der besonderen Kinder - Ran... Die Legenden der besonderen Kinder - Ransom Riggs,Andrew Davidson,Silvia Kinkel

Meine Meinung

 

Ransom Riggs konnte mich bereits mit “Die Insel der besonderen Kinder”, dem Auftaktband zu seiner Trilogie um die besonderen Kinder, mit seiner ungewöhnlichen Welt insbesondere der außergewöhnlichen Persönlichkeiten gefangen nehmen. “Die Legenden der besonderen Kinder” bietet dem Leser nun eine Sammlung aus zehn unterschiedlichen Sagen aus dieser übernatürlichen Welt. Die besonders schöne und hochwertige Gestaltung des grün und golden schimmernden Buches erinnert sofort an Märchenbuchbände aus älteren Tagen. Der bezaubernde erste Eindruck setzt sich im Inneren mit stimmigen schwarz-weiß Illustrationen von Andrew Davidson fort, welche hervorragend mit den einzelnen Erzählungen abgestimmt sind.

 

Den zehn folgenden magischen, berührenden und belehrenden Legenden sind einführende Worte von Millard Nullings und ein kleiner Warnhinweis vorangestellt.

In “Die edlen Kannibalen” reist man in der Geschichte bis zu den Ursprüngen der besonderen Kindern zurück, in der sich die Besonderen noch nicht in Zeitschleifen verstecken mussten und ein zurückgezogenes ländliches Leben führten. Bis zu dem Tag, an dem Kannibalen vom Weg abkamen und sich bei den Besonderen wiederfanden.

 

Die Geschichte “Die Prinzessin mit der gespaltenen Zunge” erinnert sehr an ein typisches Prinzessin sucht Prinzen Märchen. Dabei spielen die Äußerlichkeiten der besonderen Prinzessin eine tragende Rolle. Sie muss mit Zurückweisungen zurecht kommen, wobei ihre Güte und ihr Sinn für Gerechtigkeit keinen Schaden nimmt. Ihre auf den ersten Blick erschreckende Besonderheit wird ihr noch gute Dienste leisten.

Eine meiner Lieblingsgeschichten ist die über “Die erste Ymbryne”, denn hier werden Hintergründe zum Wesen dieser mächtigen Besonderen aufgedeckt und man erfährt auf spannende Weise von der Entstehung der Zeitschleifen.

 

“Die Geisterfreundin” ist eine sehr emotionale Geschichte bei der ich unglaubliche Gänsehaut bekommen habe. Die Themen Familie, Freundschaft und Tod hat Ransom Riggs mit viel dramaturgischem Geschick zu einer ganz besonderen Geschichte verwoben.

 

Die bunteste und kreativste Legende dieser Sammlung ist für mich mit Abstand “Cocobolo”. Unter diesem verrückten Titel kann man sich wahrlich nicht sonderlich viel vorstellen oder gar erwarten. Ransom Riggs zielt mit seiner Geschichte über eine besonders starke Verbindung zwischen Vater und Sohn über die Weiten des Ozeans und wie die Liebe zwischen Eltern und Kind Zeit und Entfernung überbrückt. Es liegt so viel Gefühl und vor allem eine große Portion Besonderheit in dieser Geschichte, die mir beim Lesen das Herz öffnete.

 

Nachdem mir die ersten Geschichten allesamt außergewöhnlich gut gefallen haben, waren “Die Tauben von St. Paul´s” nicht ganz nach meinem Geschmack. Vielleicht liegt das einfach daran, dass ich um diese gurrenden Tierchen am liebsten einen ganz weiten Bogen einschlage. Dennoch ist die Weisheit aus dieser Geschichte, in der verfeindete Parteien einen Kompromiss schließen der beiden Seiten zu einem besseren Leben verhilft, auf den Punkt getroffen.

 

“Das Mädchen, das Albträume zähmen konnte” hat mir ein schauriges Leseerlebnis bereitet, denn hier geht es um ein kleines Mädchen, dass allen Widerständen zum Trotz den Menschen helfen möchte. Die Gabe Albträume zu entfernen ist wahrlich mächtig und birgt große Risiken, so dass das Mädchen schon bald mit den Konsequenzen aus ihrem Handeln konfrontiert wird.

 

In der Geschichte über “Die Heuschrecke” steht nicht das Kind mit der besonderen Fähigkeit im Mittelpunkt, sondern der Vater, der auf harte Weise lernt mit der Besonderheit seines Sohnes umzugehen und ihn trotz seiner Andersartigkeit genau so zu lieben wie er ist.

 

Bei “Der Junge, der Macht über das Meer hatte” steht die mächtige Gabe des besonderen Kindes im Mittelpunkt. Schon seine Mutter warnte den Jungen davor, anderen Menschen von seiner Begabung zu erzählen. Widrige Umstände trieben den Jungen jedoch soweit den Rat seiner Mutter auszuschlagen, um sich und andere Menschen zu retten. Der Dank der Menschen ist aber kein langlebiges Gut und schon bald richteten sie sich mit Wut gegen den Jungen.

 

Den Abschluss bildet “Die Geschichte von Cuthbert” in der die Wärme von wahrer Freundschaft alles andere überstrahlt.

 

Die Legenden sind sehr unterschiedlich gehalten und dennoch vereinen sie die wunderbare Sprache und Erzählkunst des Autors in sich. Nach dieser übernatürlichen Lektüre habe ich große Lust bekommen endlich zu den zwei weiteren Bänden aus Ransom Riggs Trilogie zu greifen.

 

Fazit

 

Jede Menge mysteriöse, spannende und skurrile Legenden die tief unter die Haut gehen.

Source: www.bellaswonderworld.de/rezensionen/rezension-die-legenden-der-besonderen-kinder-von-ransom-riggs
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review 2018-10-18 15:38
Review: Chronicles of Steele- Raven by Pauline Creeden

Human life has value.
The poor living in the gutter are as valuable as the rich living in a manor.
The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint.
Because of this, every life a reaper takes must be redeemed.


Raven has lived by this first tenet since she was trained by her father to become a reaper. But since his death, she’s been spending years redeeming the lives she’s taken. By her count, she’s even and it’s time for that life to end. If she settles down and becomes a wife, she might just feel human again. But on the way to the life she thinks she wants, the baron of New Haven asks her to complete a task which she cannot ignore… Just when Raven decides to give up on her life as an assassin, she’s pulled right back in.

 

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

We're introduced to Raven as she's saving the duke's youngest son from drowning, only to be arrested once her identity is revealed. Seems Reapers have been outlawed for about a half a generation, but the duke's eldest son has need of her services. She's to protect his nine year old younger brother, who may or may not be possessed by a demon, from their father who wants the boy dead. Hot on the trail of Raven and young Darius are the very guards who arrested her after rescuing the boy, led by Captain Jack Grant- who's grudging respect for Raven's skills and his own innate decency clash with his duty to the duke. Along the way they'll both discover more layers to their respective missions than they imagined and things aren't always what they seem.

Reapers aren't magical warriors- just highly trained and disciplined ones usually able to find something within any situation to turn to an advantage. In order to avoid descending into sociopathy they've adopted a mantra that all life is sacred and whenever they take one they must then save another, redeeming themselves by striking a balance- much like the axiom 'the life you save will be your own'. I also liked how the author weaved bits of personality and characterization into things- such as a reaper lamenting the lack of discipline in this new generation of wannabes who abandon the training once it becomes difficult. Art imitating Life.

Raven's past is a bit mysterious, of course, and remained so at the end of the book. Bits and pieces of her history were doled out during the story, revealing her character and her motivations. Jack Grant wasn't as developed as he could've been and the romance seemed forced as suddenly they're in love with each other. Whatever happened to liking someone/being interested and just wanting to see where it goes?

There's plenty of action and angst to feed your head, but the world needs fleshing out in order to get a clearer grasp of what's going on. The main problem I had was the sudden switches of POV. One moment Raven's upstairs about to confront a witch, next sentence Jack's charging up the steps and finding Raven laid out due to the witch's magic. Things like this kept happening so much I had to re-read several passages a couple times to make sure I had things straight before continuing.

The extras included are an excerpt about young Darius- whom will soon receive his own story- some pointers about writing from the author and the author's thoughts on what Steampunk is and why it should appeal to female readers.

This is a fast, fun read with a couple of twists to it. Pauline Creeden's crafted a nifty tale that teases you with future potential but needs fleshing out and more backstory. Enjoy.

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