Olivia's Books, Quotes and Opinions

 I am not sure yet whether I am about to find a new home for my bookshelves or not at this site, but I will stretch my snout around the corner and sniff ...

When Pressing the 3-star-Button

Cinder  - Marissa Meyer

... I remembered

  • the extremely fun bladerunneresque setting in New Beijing
  • the tough, talented, no-nonsense part-cyborg Cinderella (I don't want to give up my own real legs, but a calf-compartment for small items to take with me sounds awefully handy)
  • the R2D2-reminiscent servant-turned-sidekick android Iko with the romantic, girly personality and a huge royalty crush (I loved that lipstick-involving scene)

but also

  • the extreme predictability (I know, we all are familiar with both the Grimm and the Disney version of Cinderella's bio, have probably watched enough Czech or East Germany variations on TV to recognize most more or less creative derivations and have gobbled down a handful of retellings in novel form. I don't refer to the main situation, but to the supposed mystery concerning a certain character's identity and another character's agenda. Exaggerated denseness in main characters lends a certain stale flavor to the impression I form of them.)
  • the cliffiie

and the

  • missed chance at milking the wonderful prerequisites to the max. I so looked forward to pressing my nose closely to a robotically steered hoover gliding through the illuminated, over-populated, plague-ridden, globalized city of New Beijing. But my blindfold was only removed for short intervals now and then. A pity.

Around 25%

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

 I do get Cath, although I am definitely not her. All in all, the book pulls me in hard and presents itself as sadder and much more serious that I had expected. The cover is so breezy and chicklitty, you know? 

On page 33 ...

Cinder  - Marissa Meyer

I adore the Bladerunner-like atmosphere so far. Plus Cinder is a strong no-nonsense girl and has the equivalent of R2D2 as a best friend and co-worker.

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Reblogged from BookLikes

Around 49% ...

Unwind - Neal Shusterman

Question: Does every dystopian novel include a camp of some sorts?

Around 37% ...

Unwind - Neal Shusterman

I think I unconsciously associated the 'horror' tag attributed to UNWIND with brainless, bloody agitation. A splatter movie on paper for minors. In spite of trustworthy friends being over the moon. Well, I have been surprised by much more brains (and I do not mean in surgeons' hands) than I got served by other dystopian novels, which claim to be deep but concentrate on keeping the swoon-and-action factor up. So, what does this teach me?

Around 8%

Unwind - Neal Shusterman

This is like 'Never Let Me Go' as an action thriller. I don't know why I pushed starting this further and further ahead for years. Fear, maybe?

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend - Kody Keplinger *** Read for the first time on August 10th and 11th 2011 ***
Boy Meets Girl - Meg Cabot

*** Read first on January 1st 2007 *** Fun, but not as entertaining as The Boy Next Door.

The Boy Next Door  - Meg Cabot *** Read first on January 1st 2006 ***
Slightly cheesy, but lots of fun! I love Cabot's exaggerated, hilarious characters. VIVICA, Mim and Dolly Vargas, especially, are charmingly entertaining. And how you can almost predict which e-mails will be coming snowballing back after one message has been let loose boosts the entertainment factor a few notches up. American chicklit at its best.
Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block

"You get three wishes," the genie said. "I wish for a Duck for Dirk, and My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful little house for us to live in happiliy ever after." "Your wishes are granted. Mostly," said the genie.

My wishes were not granted, mostly. I was prepared to read a short, but pleasantly shocking, quirky urban young adult fantasy novel of the ageless sort. Something that has earned being referenced in every other modern fairytale review. But I was disappointed by something so decadent and otherwordly silly of novella-sized proportions - which is maybe hip and maybe multi-layered and satirical and whatnot - that I failed to get it.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not complaining about the "plot" or what the story deals with in general. I do appreciate that it celebrates love in countless forms and outlets between friends, gay lovers, couples who have already split up but cannot let go, parent and child, human and pet, love in different modes of bliss and hurt, family as patchwork as it gets, forgiveness and beauty. I draw my hat because drugs, AIDS, the downsides of stardom and other problems occuring in Hollywood and elsewhere are not glossed over, but brazenly interwoven into everyday life.

I felt let down, because 'Weetzie Bat' could only be compared to a fairytale in the sense that both dump unbelievable or exciting facts onto the reader using a detached point of view and a really compact, condensed style: The evil frog turned green with envy, followed the princess into her plush chamber and impregnated her on the spot. He left the castle seven nights before his daughter Swampsea was born. "Good riddance," said her mother, now a royal single parent, and employed a gnarly-horned wet-nurse from hell. Oops! Wrong tale! The man’s name was Valentine Jah-Love and the woman’s name was Ping Chong. [...] "Jah!" cried Valentine, lifting his stormy face up in the greenish electric light. "You’ll have to stay here. It will rain for seven days and seven nights." It rained and rained. Everything in 'Weetzie Bat' happens immediately and reminded me of the times in my childhood when I tried to made up a story, started by choosing the characters’ names with painful elaboration – the wackier, the better –, moved on to outline what was supposed to happen to whom, jotted down some experimental dialogue and then ... left it to its own devices, because playing some other promising game of make-believe had gained my attention.

In addition to the rush and the lack of filling everything is so easy and too superficial. I.e. My Secret Agent Lover Man (that’s a character’s name) and Weetzie successfully "make" a couple of movies with the help of one or two friends and their house-mates, who function as actors, wardrobe people and whoever is needed, and earn enough money to live, indulge in their favorite sushi and buy a new car although there is no talk about financing or selling the projects or even of anybody watching the outcomes.

Plus my expectation of a magically version of an 80s L.A. had to be satisfied by a voodoo practicing seductress popping in as a supporting character and by a genie suffering from occupational burn-out who transplants Weetzie and Dirk from being teenaged, desillusioned lesson-cutters to living as house-owners on the look-out for the perfect, respective "Duck" (guy).

Please forgive me, enthusiastic Weetzie fans, for missing the spectacular wonder Weetzie’s adventures are supposed to present and for being impatient enough to skip all four sequels without dishing out a second chance to Cherokee, Witch Baby and yet unknown Angel Juan to eventually wow me.

Eric - Shaun Tan It's the first thing we show any new visitors to our house. "Look what our foreign exchange student left for us," we tell them. "It must be a cultural thing," says Mum.
I solemnly promise: Should a Thumbelina-sized Eric (His real name is too difficult to pronounce for us) ever decide to stay at my place as a foreign exchange student, I am going to refrain from buckling him into a car seat, where he would be blocked from seeing the world (Easy, since I don't own a car). I will coo about each bonbon wrapper and bottle cap he chooses to pick up, visit him daily in the pantry (I don't have a pantry; but maybe he can stay in the cupboard that houses our pasta, the Nutella and the Knäcke) to see how he is faring and switch my long, dangling earrings for silver hoops so he can accompany me "Jenks-style" to enjoy his "cultural thing" and to sprinkle his almost unbearable, black-and-white cuteness across my life.
Fuse - Julianna Baggott If I take off one star for that ultra-mean cliffhanger, there are still at least five stars left.
I love it.
Come See About Me - C.K. Kelly Martin

"Was I wrong to ask you to ring me? Sometimes I think I should've left you alone. I don’t want this to throw either of us off."
"You weren't wrong," I say. "No one’s being thrown off." I haven’t forgotten what he said two weeks earlier, that he didn't want another source of confusion. "This is like a vacation from real life."
"It feels like that," he agrees.

At this point I do not know yet how many aspects my review is going to cover. But let me tell you first that in my opinion this is how all New Adult fiction should be like. Heavens, no, I do not demand that every author decides to kill off her heroine's perfect - and I do not mean sunshine pretty with a later to be discovered rotten core, but considerate and sexy and artistic with realistic flaws - boyfriend right in chapter one to have her quickly spiral downhill. There is without question a limit to the number of grief-centered books I can stomach in a given time period. But in real life there is a vast variety of good and bad life-changing experiences college-aged women encounter, which is why it made me exhale in relieve to read about Leah, who loses her live-in boyfriend of one year (who is not Caucasian, by the way, which means a bonus point in character diversity) and cannot and does not want to let go and heal afterwards "What I need is the space and quiet to register Bastien's absence. That hasn't changed. I don’t want to move on. As it is, every day takes me a little further from the time we shared together. I need to protect and preserve what I still have of him.", instead of reading about the weird ups and downs of another irresistible female who needs to come to terms with her virginity, her past abuse, her sexuality in general and a small, foreseeable number of other super special secrets and another gorgeously violent I-hide-my-inner-fluffy-kitten-until-SHE-turns-up-and-me-on bad-boy, whose-farther-from-life-than-Earth-from-Pluto personas only exist to awkwardly populate some supposedly hot-sex-on-a-platter script.

If this comparison caused you to sulk about a lack of physical excitement in 'Come See About Me',  you have simply misunderstood. There is sex - even explicit sex - aplenty in established Young Adult author C.K. Kelly Martin's first New Adult attempt. But it smoothly fits the plot and it does not make the cast and the story feel like props. Leah starts having an affair she wants to keep purely physical and ephemeral with an almost stranger and struggles with the feeling of betraying her dead boyfriend and his family. But although the guy supports her idea of a 'vacation from real life', he claims that "Nothing can ever only be sex, can it? Otherwise it wouldn’t matter who you were having it with. And I like you. We’ve been friends too, haven’t we?"

In spite of my lucky lack of similar experiences I thoroughly felt Leah's state of frozeness, her flight into constantly cheating her consciousness into imagining Bastien alive and besides her. I understood her selfishness, her dismissive behavior towards her - wonderfully depicted, by the way, I do adore Yunhee - best friends from university, her job inn Toronto and her parents. And I got her craving for touch and her stupidity when she throws all caution to the wind.

The minor characters were interesting and well-rounded, too. Instead of suffering from the obligatory cliché gay sidekick on match-maker's campus prepare to shake hands with a 100% normal, middle-aged lesbian couple. Plus there is Armstrong, the hyperactive hamster!

I even liked the half-open ending, although I am kind of partial towards completely vague but hopeful ones like the one in 'Holier Than Thou', another New Adult novel I wholeheartedly recommend. A few reviewers declared the outcome of Leah’s problems to be too positive and sweet. In my opinion it was pleasantly elating and Happy, but allowed for many other ultimate futures besides an Ever After.

Consequently I am sufficiently puzzled why the author could not find an interested publisher (Thanks for finding that link, Sarah Moon.) - due to the lack of a fitting target group - and eventually had to go the indie way. Or to put it differently, I am flummoxed why the target group for a generic problematic-virgin-meets-clingy-bad-boy-plot is everlastingly huge, while a gem about a regular young woman like you and me like this is only appreciated by a handful.

Pure  - Julianna Baggott A wonderful, cruel and excruciatingly beautiful, almost poetic piece of steampunk-dystopia.
Finished for the first time on November 28, 2010.
TimeRiders - Alex Scarrow *** 2.5 stars ***

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