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review 2016-10-13 22:40
Review: Roses and Rot
Roses and Rot - Kat Howard

I picked this up on sale because someone was talking it up on twitter. I did not read the back of the book then, or before I started it. So I knew this was a book about sisters sharing a house after years apart.

 

In my head I had filed this as maybe gothic horror or something?

 

Which is a long walk to say that I didn't know I was following up reading a fairy filled UF with with an aspiring artist narrator by reading a fairy filled contemporary fantasy with an aspiring artist narrator.

 

And yet these books could not be more different.

 

 

This could easily have been a much longer book. Howard has plenty of strange and beautiful imagery to work with and quite the flair for lovely writing. Instead this is sparse. Just the scenes the reader needs to get from A to B. No wasted space, each paragraph both beautiful and sufficient. 

 

It's a long, slow burn of a book with a not complex plot and foreshadowing galore. Where little seems to be happening and yet I had a hard time putting it down. What might be next filling my thoughts during the morning commute and distracting me from conversations.

 

This is a very interesting as an examination of relationships between women. The narrator could easily be in competition with her sister, but instead is completely supportive. They have a housemate who is beyond rude, and respond by making sure to include her in house activities. There are two different horrible mothers. Not stepmothers, no. Mothers.

 

So, yeah, lovely read. Beautiful and sad and magic and true.

 

Don't miss this one.

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review 2016-09-13 10:00
Ein Leben unter Zombies ist kein Leben
Flesh & Bone - Jonathan Maberry

Jonathan Maberrys Zombiepostapokalypse „Rot & Ruin“ ist nicht nur meiner Meinung nach großartig. Sie wurde mit zahlreichen Preisen und Nominierungen ausgezeichnet, darunter der populäre Bram Stoker Award, den Maberry gleich dreimal gewann. Damit befindet er sich in Gesellschaft namhafter Autor_innen wie Neil Gaiman, Stephen King und Joanne K. Rowling. Sein Beitrag zur modernen Horrorliteratur wurde sozusagen offiziell bestätigt. Der dritte Band „Flesh & Bone“ ist einer der Preisträger. 2012 erhielt das Buch den Bram Stoker Award in der Kategorie bester Young Adult – Roman. Für mich spielen diese Auszeichnungen keine Rolle. Ich bin von der Reihe überzeugt und freute mich im August 2016 auf meinen dritten Ausflug in die Zombie-bevölkerte Einöde des Rot and Ruin.

 

Benny und seine Freunde trauern. Die Ereignisse im wiedererrichteten Gameland hinterließen tiefe Wunden. Umso entschlossener sind sie, endlich den Jet zu finden, den sie vor Monaten am Himmel sahen – für eine bessere Zukunft, für ein Leben, das diese Bezeichnung auch verdient. Es muss draußen im Rot and Ruin Menschen geben, die gegen die Zombieplage ankämpfen, besonders jetzt, da die Zombies zu mutieren scheinen. Doch ihre Reise führt sie vorerst nicht in die Arme von Wissenschaftlern und Militärs, sondern lässt sie die Bekanntschaft eines gefährlichen Todeskults machen. Die Mitglieder der Night Church glauben, dass die Zombies die rechtmäßigen Erben der Erde sind und ihre Aufgabe darin besteht, sie ihnen zu übergeben. Sie wollen der Blasphemie, dem Leben selbst, Einhalt gebieten und sind bereit, für ihren Glauben zu morden. Mitten im Kampf gegen die Night Church erfahren Benny, Nix, Lilah und Chong von Sanctuary, einer geheimen Forschungsbasis im Herzen der Wüste. Sind sie dem Ziel ihrer Reise näher als sie dachten?

 

Ich war gezwungen, bei der Bewertung des dritten Bandes der Reihe „Rot & Ruin“ einen Stern abzuziehen. „Rot & Ruin“ und „Dust & Decay“ erhielten vier Sterne von mir, „Flesh & Bone“ hingegen nur noch drei. Dafür gibt es einen simplen Grund, obwohl mich das Buch hervorragend unterhielt. Mir ist aufgefallen, dass sich die zugrundeliegende Struktur der Handlung trotz vieler inhaltlicher Alternationen bisher in allen Bänden stark ähnelt. An einem bestimmten Punkt wird die Gruppe getrennt und in den folgenden Ereignissen geht es primär darum, wieder zueinander zu finden. Prinzipiell fände ich diesen Ablauf nicht problematisch, würde er nicht meist die Rettung von Chong beinhalten. Dadurch betont Jonathan Maberry, dass Chong dem Rot and Ruin nicht gewachsen und auf die Hilfe der anderen angewiesen ist. Er ist der nerdige Sidekick, der zwar intellektuell überlegen, in der Wildnis allerdings völlig unbeholfen ist. Ich finde, ihm wird diese Rolle nicht gerecht. Er ist ein toller Freund, aufmerksam, sensibel und scharfsichtig; meiner Meinung nach verdient er es, sein Leben selbstständig wirkungsvoll verteidigen zu können. Chongs Hilflosigkeit entwickelt sich langsam zu einem makabren Running-Gag, wodurch er nicht gleichberechtigt erscheint. Ich bezweifle, dass sich diese Rollenverteilung im finalen Band „Fire & Ash“ ändert, da sich die Gefahr der Zombies durch ihre Mutation potenziert. Die wandelnden Toten sind nun nicht mehr ausschließlich langsam und sie sind auch nicht mehr ausschließlich dumm. Einige zeigen ein beängstigendes Maß an Intelligenz. Die Bedrohung, die von dieser Entwicklung ausgeht, liegt auf der Hand; was die Veränderung bewirkt, warum einige Menschen nach ihrer Verwandlung gewisse niedere Fähigkeiten beibehalten und andere nicht, bleibt jedoch vorerst ein Geheimnis. Ich vertraue Maberry, dass er dieses im nächsten Band aufklären wird, denn in „Flesh & Bone“ verrät er endlich erste Hinweise zum Auslöser und zur Natur der Zombieplage. Offenbar ist Nix doch nicht die einzige, die sich mit der Thematik auseinandersetzt. Diese Erkenntnis war für mich ebenso wichtig wie für die Figuren. Unsere Held_innen brauchten dringend ein Erfolgserlebnis, weil die Trauer drohte, sie zu überwältigen. Es war herzzerreißend, ihren Schmerz zu beobachten. Nichtsdestotrotz ist ihre Gefühlslage für die Geschichte bedeutsam, da sie Kontext schafft und den Leser_innen den Erfolg des Todeskults Night Church erklärt. Ich finde die Idee der Night Church beeindruckend originell und naheliegend. Es ist nachvollziehbar, dass die Menschen langsam die Hoffnung verlieren, resignieren und daran glauben wollen, dass zumindest ihr Tod einen höheren Zweck erfüllt. Vielleicht hätte gar nicht viel gefehlt, damit Benny, Nix, Chong und Lilah sich ebenfalls der Night Church angeschlossen hätten. Der Anführer des Kults, ein gewisser Saint John of the Knives, ist meiner Meinung nach übrigens der furchteinflößendste Gegenspieler, mit dem die Gruppe es bisher zu tun bekam, weil er ein unberechenbarer Fanatiker ist. Typisch, dass so jemand die Apokalypse überlebte.

 

Grundsätzlich gefiel mir „Flesh & Bone“ genauso gut wie die beiden Vorgänger der Reihe. Der dritte Band treibt die Geschichte in eine interessante Richtung und lässt auf ein explosives Finale hoffen, das sicher noch die eine oder andere Überraschung bereithält. Ich fühle mich mit den Figuren eng verbunden und wünsche ihnen ein Happy End – wie auch immer dieses aussehen mag. Ich bin gespannt, ob die Menschen einen Weg finden, die Erde von den Zombies zurückzuerobern, denn eine friedliche Koexistenz erscheint mir nach aktuellem Stand unmöglich. Außerdem hoffe ich, dass Jonathan Maberry die Struktur seiner Handlung im finalen Band so weit abändert, dass ich nicht mehr das Gefühl habe, stetig mit dem gleichen Muster konfrontiert zu sein. Gelingt ihm das, bin ich gern bereit, „Flesh & Bone“ als Ausreißer zu betrachten und für „Fire & Ash“ erneut vier oder sogar fünf Sterne zu vergeben. Ich glaube an die Geschichte und möchte die starke emotionale Zugkraft der Reihe „Rot & Ruin“ mit einer entsprechenden Bewertung belohnen.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/jonathan-maberry-flesh-bone
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review 2016-08-21 19:36
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Roses and Rot - Kat Howard

Imogen and Marin are sisters who've not actively spoke in years.  When Marin reaches out to her older sister to apply for a residency at the famous artist colony Melete, something about it doesn't seem quite right to Imogen but she cannot imagine getting a better opportunity to finally dedicate her life to her art.  Imogen is a writer and Marin is a dancer - both artists in their own right - with disciplines so different, there should never be a reason to compete.

Melete at first seems just like the fairy tales that Imogen had written and dreamed of being a part of since her childhood.  The scenery is absolutely inspired and enhanced by the presence of her sister.  If only Imogen had paid closer attention to what happens in fairy tales before the happy ending occurs. There's always a price and now Imogen must decide if she is willing to pay it, in order to save her sister.

I read Roses and Rot in one day.  I simply couldn't put it down. I don't remember the last time I picked up a book which captivated me from start to finish the way Howard's Roses and Rot has. The pacing was absolutely perfect, drawing me in as Howard revealed the various layers of her story. The writing was absolutely gorgeous and so vivid that I could easily see the campus of Melete and feel Imogen's doubts.  Even when Howard stepped away from the main story to delve into the Imogen's book, rather than being a distraction, it simply added to the complicated beauty of Roses and Rot.

One of the things that  really stood out to me was the relationship between the sisters. Sure, they each had their own romances but at the end of the day, unlike fairy tales we have grown up on, the love that mattered most was the love between Imogen and Marin.  No man, no matter how he may have claimed to love either Imogen or Marin could have saved either of them.

Ostensibly, Roses and Rot is about an artist making a deal with the fae.  Faerie needs to feed off the emotions of humans and so to accomplish this, one person is chosen every seven years and in return for becoming a food source for the fae, the artist is given their deepest desire and success in their chosen field of art.  Alumni of Melete have gone on to win Tonys, Oscars, Pulitzer Prizes and appear on the New York Times bestseller list.  That may seem to be a steep price to pay for something the artist might well have achieved on their own with hard work, dedication and a little luck, but it also comes along with the assurance that hundreds of years after you're dead that your name will live on and your art will continue to be loved.  It's a form of immortality that few artists have achieved.


Roses and Rot is in fact about relationships though the fae do have an important role to play in this story.  Through flashbacks we learn about Imogen and Marin's childhood with their physically and emotionally abusive mother.  How she actively drove a wedge between Imogen and Marin, attempting to play them off against each other. How Imogen and Marin's  mother preyed upon their fears of not being good enough, always there to suggest that they were getting fat, or not grateful for the supposed sacrifices she made on their behalf.  In the present, even as the sisters worked on their art, their mother continued to send them missives about their worthlessness, triggering painful memories that the two sisters simply couldn't outrun no matter how fast they danced or wrote.

 

 

Read More

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2016/08/roses-and-rot-by-kat-howard.html
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review 2016-08-20 21:52
#CBR8 Book 86: Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Roses and Rot - Kat Howard

Imogen and Marin are sisters, both very talented in their own ways. Imogen is a writer, while Marin dances ballet. They have both been accepted into the prestigious Melete artists' colony, where a select few get a full scholarship for a year and a chance to truly hone their art. The sisters became estranged after Imogen went away to college, leaving Marin alone with their absolute horror of a mother. Now Imogen writes an anthology of fairy stories, where even the most horrible of stepmothers can't hold a candle to the woman who gave birth to her and her sister.

Living in the same house, away from their controlling and manipulative mother, the sisters start to reconnect again. It doesn't take long before they discover that Melete is something very different from what they were expecting, and that there may be more truth to the fairy stories that Imogen loved growing up. Both want to succeed, so they can get away from their mother's influence once and for all, but the price of success could be higher than they imagined.

I saw this positively reviewed on Forever Young Adult and it has a cover quote from Neil Gaiman. I should have remembered that a blurb from Mr. Gaiman isn't always a guarantee of quality, after reading Queen of Kings a few years ago. Sisters with a troubled relationship, a mysterious artists' colony, fairy tales and possibly actual faeries as part of the story? It sounded better than I think it worked on the page. I love me a modern faery tale, especially with scary bargains and high stakes. Yet my favourite thing about this whole book were the snippets of actual fairy tales we got from Imogen. Sprinkled throughout the story, they give an idea of her writing that engaged me a lot more than the story of her and her sister.

While the stakes are high for the sisters, and they've clearly had an absolutely terrible childhood and adolescence, I didn't find myself caring much about them. I was completely unmoved by the romantic elements to the story, and it took me much longer to read the book than I was expecting, mainly because I kept finding things I would rather do than actually read it. It may have been that I just wasn't in the mood for it, but for a book that by its description contains as much personal catnip for me as this, it should have thrilled and engaged me more.

This is Kat Howard's debut novel, and I'm not ruling out that she can do great things in the future. I really wanted to like this book, but it left me unmoved. If the whole book had been an anthology of the fairy stories teased in the novel, I think I would have loved it more.

Judging a book by its cover: This cover is not only fairly boring, a stock photo of an old house, but fairly misleading. Imogen and Marin go to a fancy artists' colony in the woods and while there are a number of different buildings, none of them are described as the large, imposing mansion on the cover. For a book that deals with magical realism and fairy tales, the cover shoud have been something much more atmospheric. Bad choice, Saga Press. It's especially vexing as there is a discussion of cover design IN the book. Imogen is clearly much luckier with her designer than Kat Howard.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/08/cbr8-book-86-roses-and-rot-by-kat-howard.html
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review 2016-08-07 14:26
How I appreciate a good zombie book.
Rot and Ruin - Jonathan Maberry

The narrator almost ruined this book for me. The only voice that I felt was done anywhere near the definition of 'well' was The Hammer's. And that's only because it sounded interesting and rather amusing, this big tough muscle man who hunts zom's for a living with this little high pitched, red-neck voice! classic.
Side note: I also had the occasionally difficulties telling the voices apart, who was saying what, etc. And some characters - I became quite confused over who 'the brothers' were, but that all got sorted out afterwards.

Anyways onto the important subject: My Issue.
The only issue I have with the narrator (its a bit of a doozey) is that he made everyone sound bland. Bland! in a zombie book! How on earth is that even possible. This guy had so many opportunities to make this book so much more and he just piddled them all away. These characters were guttered, devastated, fearful, in immense pain and vengeful....and yet the narrator for the most part just spoke every line, and just stated the emotion afterwards. No!! I want you to sound it out for me, I was to feel what they're going through. I want to feel their pain, misery and anticipation. It is after all a zombie book, it's what I signed on for!

So yea unfortunately the book was rather bland on the emotional side of things, luckily I still enjoyed the narrator reading the book to me enough that I plan on continuing - though I believe I'll be reading the next book myself.

Now off that subject, lets talk about the Characters.
Boy Benny was a whiny bitch wasn't he? goodness for someone who grew up in a world filled with zombies he sure whinged a lot. You think the kid would be a lot tougher. I am being serious when I say his main goal at the beginning of the book was to do the least amount of physical work, that wasn't exceptionally boring, that's it. His life goal - what a champ aye? luckily towards the end after his brother stopped coddling him - or should I say started paying attention to him, Benny grew up a lot. He became a decent sort, which is nice. His brother, Tom was pretty cool, like to drop his wisdom nuggets on all the other suckers, actually he would make a pretty good guidance counselor. Lol.
Nix was a fantastic character, not cliched, which is nice. Red hair, pale skin, short, freckles, (according to boy's who have no other females their age to go off - very attractive, with big boobies. Which of course is a very important character definition to teenage boys) incredibly intelligent, higher achiever, ambitious, loves learning and researching but is also physically strong, she neither this nor that, but a mixture of things. Willing to put in 110% effort into anything she try's. If anyone one is going to conquer this destroyed world its Nix. She also get's jealous, is incredibly poor, unwilling to take 'handouts' and possible doesn't have the best taste in boys. (yet to be determined).
The Lost Girl was a nice surprised, Maberry would have been boring and made her a hot babe, who kick zombie ass, and was incredibly flirty (the usual combo) but he wen't somewhere different with it, I won't say how - spoilers and all that, but I will say that I appreciated it. Quite a nice surprise.
Chong was a funny boy, and brilliant. I love his smart little lines that flew over Benny's head.
The others, were alright. The baddies, were actual realistic baddies. Someone you can easily picture being created based on the world they live in.

 

I Also want to point out and say kudos to Macberry for remarking on Benny's attempts to save the 'Lost Girl' from herself and her current lifestyle, and not understanding why she wouldn't except his 'gracious' offer. This is a common behaviour for humans, we note someone is living differently to us, maybe in a way we ourselves would not like to live, and offer them, usually with good intentions to change their living styles. Not taking into account that it is in fact their choice, and that they may be happy with it. Many countries and religious groups do this, Australia included. What I loved about how Macnerry handled this situation was he didn't have the girl accept their offer under pressure, or fold just because the others didn't, couldn't understand. They thought she was a bit nutty for her choices, sure. But they accepted them in the end, and didn't harass her afterwards about it. This I loved.

The zombies were good, not to intense but not without their strengths and the world was great - set 14(?) years after 'first night' which was a nice change from the usual. Overall an entertaining read. Looking forward to the next one.

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