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review 2017-06-01 10:14
Der lausigste Luzifer aller Zeiten
Devil Said Bang - Richard Kadrey

Satan. Herrscher der Hölle. Gottes ewiger Widersacher. Eine Position voller Macht und Prestige. James Stark alias Sandman Slim will den Job trotzdem nicht. Was nützt all die Macht, wenn ihm der Tag regelmäßig durch Budgetbesprechungen, sinnentleerte Rituale und lächerliche Attentatsversuche versaut wird? Nein, Stark will raus. Schließlich hat er sich nie um die Stelle beworben; der originale Luzifer trickste ihn aus und genießt jetzt Ferien im Himmel. Toll. Einfach Fabelhaft. Seit er Gebieter der Verdammten wurde, sucht Stark unermüdlich nach einem Weg, die Hölle zu verlassen und nach L.A. zurückzukehren. Ganz so simpel ist das nur leider nicht. Die Verdammten hassen ihn und wenn es nach ihm ginge, könnten sie ihm alle getrost den Buckel runterrutschen, aber die Hölle braucht einen Anführer; jemanden, der den Papa spielt und Händchen hält. Also, was macht man mit einem miesen Blatt? Richtig. Bluffen, was das Zeug hält und die erste günstige Gelegenheit beim Schopfe packen. Dummerweise wird Starks glorreiche Heimkehr nach L.A. von einem serienmordenden Geist überschattet, der offenbar im Auftrag einer Fraktion der Sub Rosas handelt, die die Realität umschreiben will. Diese Idioten schaffen es doch tatsächlich, ein Loch ins Universum zu reißen. Da sehnt man sich fast nach der bizarren Idylle der Hölle, nicht wahr?

 

Stark als Herrscher der Hölle. Ich muss immer noch in mich hineinkichern, wenn ich daran denke. Mein Kumpel Stark als Satan. Tut mir leid, aber das ist zum Brüllen komisch. Ironie des Schicksals. Es war doch wohl von Vornherein klar, dass das schiefgehen muss. Natürlich ist Stark ein lausiger Luzifer. In den vorangegangenen Bänden machte Richard Kadrey unmissverständlich klar, dass sein Protagonist nicht das Zeug zum Anführer hat und seine Eskapaden in „Devil Said Bang“ bestätigen diesen Eindruck zweifelsfrei. Stark hasst die Hölle, weil sie das Schlechteste in ihm zum Vorschein bringt. Er weiß genau, sucht er nicht so schnell wie möglich das Weite, wird die Verlockung, sein inneres Monster das Ruder übernehmen zu lassen, eines Tages zu groß sein. Er muss gehen, weil er sonst nie mehr geht. Mal davon abgesehen, dass mich Kadreys Darstellung der Hölle als bürokratischer Albtraum samt Meetings, Komitees und kleinlicher Politik köstlich amüsierte und ich die Idee, ihre Bewohner_innen als selbstmordgefährdet zu charakterisieren, fantastisch und erstaunlich naheliegend finde, bewundere ich vor allem seine einfühlsame Beschreibung von Starks Gefühlen, die Ambiguität seiner Empfindungen. Er ist sich vollkommen im Klaren darüber, zu was er fähig, wie tiefschwarz ein Teil seiner Seele ist. Er kämpft dagegen an, obwohl die Versuchung ach so süß ist und ihm eben diese Facette seiner Persönlichkeit wer weiß wie oft den Hintern rettete. Er gibt sich keinen Illusionen hin und ist trotzdem bestrebt, ein besserer Mensch (na ja, Nephilim) zu sein. Er will kein Monstrum sein. Seine Fähigkeit und Bereitschaft, sich permanent selbst zu hinterfragen und Kritik anzunehmen, beeindrucken mich jedes Mal aufs Neue. Daher macht es mir auch nicht allzu viel aus, dass sich dieser vierte Band wie ein Zwischenspiel anfühlte. Ich denke, dass „Devil Said Bang“ innerhalb der übergeordneten Handlung wichtig, für sich selbst aber eher belanglos ist. Das Buch ist keines von Kadreys besten Werken; ich stolperte durch eine Geschichte, die mir von arg vielen Zufällen geprägt und daher nicht überzeugend durchdacht erschien. Die Auflösung wirkte hastig und einige Szenen wurden ausschließlich durch Starks unvergleichlichen Humor und seine herrlich schlagfertigen Sprüche gerettet. Kadrey verdankt es seinem Protagonisten, dass ich nachsichtig bin und 3 Sterne vergebe. Ich fühle mich mit Stark einfach viel zu wohl, um die Bände der „Sandman Slim“ – Reihe nicht zu genießen, unabhängig davon, wie ungelenk die Handlung daherkommt. Nur eines kann ich meinem Kumpel nicht verzeihen: seine Beziehung zu dieser fürchterlichen Schnepfe Candy. Ich kann sie nicht ausstehen. Sie ist wie eine 14-Jährige mit einem Waffentick und einer Schwäche für große böse Jungs. Sie bringt Stark in Gefahr, weil für sie alles nur ein Spiel ist. Ich wünschte, er würde sie endlich abschießen, denn sie ist definitiv nicht die Richtige für ihn. Ich warte nur darauf, dass er erkennt, wie ungesund ihr seltsames Techtelmechtel für ihn ist und dass er jemanden braucht, der all die Konflikte in seinem Inneren versteht und beruhigt, statt sie anzufachen und zu verschärfen. Candy ignoriert den Krieg in seiner Seele bewusst. Ich hoffe, dass er bald eine Frau findet, die ihm Frieden schenkt. Bitte Stark, schick die blöde Gans in die Wüste!

 

„Devil Said Bang“ ist meiner Meinung nach bisher der schwächste Band der „Sandman Slim“ – Reihe. Ich hätte das Buch vermutlich noch weit kritischer bewertet, empfände ich nicht eine fast schon lächerlich intensive Nähe und Bindung zum Protagonisten Stark. Er ist mein Kumpel. Ich bin sein größter Fan. Trotzdem erwarte ich von Richard Kadrey, dass die Handlung des nächsten Bandes „Kill City Blues“ besser ist. Überzeugender. Ausgereifter. Nach der Erfahrung mit „Devil Said Bang“ bin ich ehrlich besorgt, dass die Reihe fortschreitend an Qualität einbüßt. Das möchte ich wirklich nicht erleben, denn es wäre tragisch, bedauerlich und ein Verbrechen des Autors an seinem Zugpferd. Stark ist eine herausragende Figur, die einen ebenso außerordentlichen und außergewöhnlichen Rahmen verdient, um sich nach Belieben auszutoben. Ich weiß, ein einziger mittelmäßiger Band bedeutet noch lange nicht, dass es mit der Reihe bergab geht und ich möchte den Teufel nicht an die Wand malen, aber ich habe so etwas schon viel zu oft durchgemacht, um die ersten Anzeichen zu ignorieren. Ich flehe Sie an Mr. Kadrey: lassen Sie Stark und mich nicht hängen.

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text 2017-04-09 15:55
Report from what might be the last parents group meeting

Warning! Potentially boring child related post.

Last week the parents' group (or as I might have mentioned before, by now the mothers' group) had a meeting at the library. It went great, but it feels a little sad. Most of the other mothers have gone back to work now. Their children are in daycare and they will only be able to meet during the weekends if at all. Unfortunately, we can't get anywhere during the weekend, so I guess this is it. There are two more mothers still at home with their babies/toddlers, in this case two girls, so those few of us might still be able to meet again a few times, if anyone's still interested. Everyone except us might be able to get together during the weekends, but somehow I think most have lost interest in the group. So sad. It's been so great meeting other parents and learning more about the progress of their children.

Anyway, to begin with, the children's librarian showed up bringing a pile of books suitable for one-year-olds. I hadn't really heard of any of them, but most seemed great so I'll see if I can get my hands on at least some of them. After that, we got to stay in the private room for as long as we wanted.

A funny little incident occurred. We'd run into J and his mother G on the way to the stores the week before. Then G told us that J has met a little girl in daycare and that he's so enamoured of her that he wants to share his pacifier with her. Which might be the daycare equivalent of engagement? LOL. Unfortunately, it seems J is just as much of a philanderer as little M who so courteously approached me to obtain my permission to court my daughter (in a manner of speaking, LOL), then kiss her hand, only to have forgotten all about her the next time. J cornered Pepper and tried to kiss her. (On the cheek, naturally). She skillfully maneouvered two chairs into position to avoid him. In the end, J managed to kiss her anyway and she took that in her stride. Pepper is a tough little girl. G, J:s mother was embarrassed. Poor J seems a bit traumatized by being in daycare. He clung pathetically to his mum for a long time before he finally realized he could close the door to keep her inside. It's so sad seeing that big, confident, mobile boy reduced to an insecure baby again, just because his mum had to go back to work. G says she regrets it now and wished she'd held on a little longer.

After a while, we decided to go to the cosy cafe only a few houses away, where we usually meet. G:s mother was visiting and it seemed G:s husband desperately wanted to get rid of his mother-in-law. G asked us if it was ok for her mother to join us and we all said yes. So we asked if it would be ok to ask our mum to join us and of course everyone agreed.

So now we're a parents' and grandparents' group. :) Maybe L and E want to bring their mothers too if there ever is a next time. LOL. It's always great to have a few extra hands to help with the children. You'd be surprised how long and strong those little arms and hands can be when they're reaching for something like a hot cup of coffee.

Pepper seems to have mastered saying 'Mum' now and both twins are busy practicing their conversational skills, even though we grownups can't quite understand what they're trying to say yet. It seems they're a bit late, compared to the other children. All seem to be speaking several words by now, but T, L:'s daughter isn't walking at all yet.

And - all this happened last week, which means everything seemed normal back then. Now everything's different, after the terror attack in Stockholm that occurred yesterday afternoon. If you're interested I've blogged about it here.

Source: crimsoncorundum.dreamwidth.org/178540.html
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-26 02:37
Review of Elephant Macaw Banner 1-3
The Fortuitous Meeting (The Elephant and Macaw Banner - Novelette Series Book 1) - Christopher Kastensmidt
A Parlous Battle - Christopher Kastensmidt

The Elephant and Macaw Banner series is written by Christopher Kastensmidt.  I picked up the first three volumes in the series when they were offered as Kindle freebies.  The first three volumes - The Fortuitous Meeting, A Parlous Battle and The Discommodius Wedding - detail the beginnings of a series of adventures of two men - Gerard Van Oost and the warrior Oludara.  By the second book, the adventures are joined by a woman, a native of Brazil, named Arany.  The setting is a Brazil during the time of the Portgeuse arrival/conquest, but it is an alternate reality, a historical fantasy, for the adventuring men must battle and face monsters and gods.

The first three installments (each averaging around 40 pages) are pretty good.  Is it the best fantasy I have ever read?  Well no, but the idea is interesting, there has been editing, and the characters are likable and believable.

Gerard has a problem; he wants to explore and make a forture; however, no company will have him because he is Dutch and Protestant.  Additionally, while his heart does seem to be in the right place, he isn't the sharpest sword in the armory.  Fortunately, he runs into Oludara, a warrior from Africa, who has been sold into slavery.  Oludara is a Yoruba, a ethnic group from the area of today's Nigeria and Benin.  Because Oludara has the intelligence to answer a question of stragedy, Gerard determines to free him (by buying him and then freeeing him) and to do earn the large amount of needed money, Gerard must see Sacy-Perey, a Brazilan prankster god/creature.  He's like Loki, but younger, darker, nicer, and missing a leg.

The second and third volumes find Gerard and Oludara interacting with the Tupinamba people and eventually becoming part of the tribe.  While the interact of Gerard with the native tribes might be a bit too modern for it to be truly historically accurate, the books do have a clear eye to detail about the culture as well as poking fun at what the Europeans think of the Tupinambas.   The series is quite fun in the terms of the use of legends and myths of Brazil.  

The only false note is in the first volume when Gerard buys Oludara.  Oludara does sound out Gerard, making sure of the man who buys him and that is not the false note.  Oludara was only one of many men brought on a slave ship to be sold to millers and sugar farmers.  When Gerard asks Oludara if any of the other slaves are family, the Yoruba answers no, and once Gerard says, basically, that's good because he couldn't afford to pull the others.  I can understand why Kastensmidt does this - he wants to answer the question that most readers are wondering - what about the rest.  It also shows Gerard in a good light (though Kastensmidt does not make me too modern as seen in the other installments).  Yet, Oludara's disregarding of the other men rings false - would this really be his reaction, especially considering his reactions in the other volumes?  It just felt like there should be more here.  It was too simply done.  It felt off, as if Oludara would have tried something more.  

But Oludara is the star, he is the central.  He isn't simply the wise black friend who the white guy seeks advice from.  He isn't the moral speaker.  In the first volume, it looks like it might be the case, but in 2 and 3, Oludara is central stage.  He is the one who gets the love interest while Gerard simply plays the best friend, the second fiddle.  

Which is kinda nice.

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review 2017-01-12 08:00
Meeting Destiny (Destiny #1) by Nancy Straight
Meeting Destiny - Nancy Straight

Right, first things first - I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! I stayed up all night to finish it, even turning down an episode of Game of Thrones to carry on reading. I was completely enthralled during the story, completely gutted that it had ended (and boy, what an ending!) and had such a book hangover that I dreamed about the story!

This book is a cross between young adult, paranormal, romance and suspense - all written from the first perspective of Lauren. I loved the explanation given to her of the different roles in life but I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it.

The story kicks off from page one and will wrap you up until the end. I loved how it was written and the pace was absolutely right. The characters are in-depth and Max, well, *sigh*, I think he's brilliant, I can't say more than that.

The next two are definitely on my wishlist and I will be looking for more from this author.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/merissa-reviews/meetingdestinydestinyseries1bynancystraight
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review 2016-12-21 14:41
A somewhat idealised and nostalgic version of the life of wild horses that will enchant animal lovers
Meeting of the Mustangs - Cathy Kennedy

I was given an ARC copy of this book and I voluntarily choose to review it.

I don’t read children’s books often, but I’ve become quite interested in horses recently and was curious about this book, that is a short read.

The story is not a fairytale, but it follows the life of a mustang colt from a very young age.He loses his father from a young age, later gets separated from the band of horses he lives with (that includes his mother), lives a number of adventures, including some tragic ones, returns to the band and gets separated from them again. We read of his meetings with other animals, and also with human beings.

There’s no specific time reference, although it seems to take place in the recent past (there are phones but no mention of mobiles or high technology). The horse seems to be able to roam around freely through several states, only rarely coming into contact with human beings.

The story is told in the third person, but it changes point of view (it might not be that noticeable, although I wondered if it might result confusing). I thought at first that it was third person restricted, mostly from what appears to be the point of view of the horse, but at other times it seems to be their person omniscient (as the unknown narrator talks about humans, trucks, houses, that the horse couldn’t know, whilst at other times he doesn’t know what an apple is), and there are fragments from the points of view of some of the humans he comes across, from young children to adults (some with better intentions than others).

The mustang at the centre of the story is a free and wild animal that keeps running away from humans as if responding to a call. Although not as humanised as in some other stories for children, the author attributes some human qualities to the animal (who feels ashamed, grateful, lonely…) that will make it more interesting to children and might also help discuss important subjects with them.

The ending is not only positive but also provides a new beginning and promises more adventures for our friend.

The language is not overly complicated although will require good reading skills. It manages to paint a vivid picture of the landscape and the life of a horse that would make a great reading story for younger children too.

A somewhat idealised and nostalgic version of the life of wild horses that will enchant animal lovers.

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