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Monika Simon (München)
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Smoke and Ashes
Smoke and Ashes
von Tanya Huff
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 5,83

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Fast-paced and Gripping Adventure, 11. März 2010
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Smoke and Ashes (Taschenbuch)
'Smoke and Ashes' is the third part of the adventures of Tony Foster, trainee asssitant director and trainee wizard. As a(nother) catastrophe of apocalyptical dimensions approaches, he finds himself once more in the midst of it. After the evil shadow lord (Smoke and Shadows.) and an evil ghost (Smoke and Mirrors) he now has to stop a full blown demon invasion.

Like the two previous volumes of this series, 'Smoke and Ashes' is an absolutely gripping story. Tanya Huff skillfully combines adventure with wry humour and adds a good wiff of eroticism to create this fantastic tale. The plot is enormously fast-paced (or possibly I was just reading it so fast) and while perhaps not the most novel or extraordinary one, Tanya Huff's style and the enormously enjoyable characters she creates ensure that the book is a real page turner.

'Smoke and Mirrors' is absolutely recommended for fans of urban fantasy the genre (I advice to read the books in the correct order) and personally I am looking forward eagerly to read more of Tony's adventures.


Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, Band 5)
Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, Band 5)
von Philip Pullman
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 8,70

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A Tale of Aeronauts, Polar Bears and Politics, 2. März 2010
'Once Upon a Time in the North' is 'a brand new story from the world of The Golden Compass' as the cover of the book informs us. In fact, the small book tells the story of how Texan aeronaut Lee Scorseby and his dæmon Hester first encountered polar bear Iorek Byrnison. More or less stranded in inhospitable Novy Odense, a port on the Barents Sea, Lee inadvertantly becomes entangled in the political struggles of the town and has to take sides, whether he wants to or not.

While no doubt one reason for the publication of 'Once Upon a Time in the North' is to cash in on the success of the His Dark Materials Trilogy: "Northern Lights", "Subtle Knife", "Amber Spyglass", this book is by now means just that. The story is well told, suspenseful and gives the reader the opportunity to explore a new aspect of Pullman's fictional universe and meet three of its interesting characters again. I certainly thoroughly enjoyed reading this tale of aeronauts, polar bears and politics.

In short, 'Once Upon a Time in the North' is entertaining and engaging story and well worth reading. The book also contains some nice illustrations and a game called 'The Peril of the North' (I have not yet tried it out and therefore don't know how good it is).


Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and Mirrors
von Tanya Huff
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen A Haunted Mansion and Terrible Evil, 28. Februar 2010
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Smoke and Mirrors (Taschenbuch)
'Smoke and Mirrors' is the second adventure of Tony Foster, former streetkid in Toronto now production assistant on 'Darkest Night', "syndicated television's most popular vampire detective series". When the show is on location at a lonely house to shoot an episode about a haunted mansion Tony discovers that this house is really haunted and that not all ghosts are benign.

Like the earlier Vicky Nelson series and the first of Tony Foster's solo adventure Smoke and Shadows. - though Tony's ex-lover Henry Fitzroy makes a short but vital appearance in both books - 'Smoke and Mirrors' is a thoroughly enjoyable book. The story is fast-paced (the majority of the events happen in one night), entertaining, gripping and fun. Whether it is observing Tony trying to use his fledgling abilities as a magician, or being utterly bewildered by co-star Lee's behaviour, or if reading about the reaction of Henry Fitzroy to the events, the reader will feel thoroughly invovled in the story.

Definitely recommended reading (preferably after reading 'Smoke and Shadows') for fans of vampires, ghosts and the entire Urban Fantasy genre.


Begraben und vergessen? Band 1: Tod und Grablege der deutschen Kaiser und Könige. Von den Anfängen bis zum Ende der Stauferzeit (1273)
Begraben und vergessen? Band 1: Tod und Grablege der deutschen Kaiser und Könige. Von den Anfängen bis zum Ende der Stauferzeit (1273)
von Hartmut Jericke
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Tod und Nachleben deutscher Kaiser und Könige, 19. Februar 2010
Der kleine Band 'Begraben und vergessen? Tod und Grablege der deutschen Kaiser und König. Von den Anfängen bis zum Ende der Stauferzeit' ist der erste von insgesamt drei Bänden, die sich mit dem Tod deutschen Herrscher und der Geschichte ihrer Gräber befasst. Die behandelte Epoche reicht von Konrad I. (gestorben 919) bis zu Alfons von Kastilien (gestorben 1284). Zwei weiter Bände führen die Reihe fort bis zu Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Aus zeitgenössische Berichten - so gut das möglich ist - erfahren wir vom (meist vorbildlichen) Sterben der einzelnen Herrscher und von seinem Begräbnis. Danach beschreibt der Autor die Ereignisse die unmittelbar auf dessen Tod folgten, sowie das wechselhafte Schicksal, das so mancher Grablege beschieden war. Interessant sind auch die Befunde aus den Untersuchungen, die von vielen der Gräber seither gemacht wurden. Manches Könisgrab, so zum Beispiel das von Richard of Cornwall in Hailes Abbey, ist leider völlig verschwunden.

Wenn man sich für Tod, Begräbnisse und das Schicksal von Gräbern interessiert und das Thema nicht zu makaber findet ist dies ein sehr kurzweiliges und Interessantes Büchlein über einen ganz neuen Aspekt der deutschen Geschichte.

(Was mich persönlich interessieren würde ist, wie die Auswahl getroffen wurde, welche der Könige behandelt wurden und welche nicht. Warum gibt es ein Kapitel über Alfons von Kastilien, der nie das Heilige Römische Reich betreten hat, aber keines über Rudolf von Rheinfelden, der als erster Gegenkönig m. E. interessant genug wäre und zudem noch ein schönes Grab in Merseburg hat? Warum wird Konrad IV. in die Reihe aufgenommen, nicht jedoch sein älterer Bruder Heinrich [VII.], obwohl letzterer im Gegensatz zu Konrad zum König gekrönt wurde? Das aber nur am Rande.)


Mr Darcy, Vampyre
Mr Darcy, Vampyre
von Amanda Grange
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,58

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2.0 von 5 Sternen This could have been so much fun, 10. Februar 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Mr Darcy, Vampyre (Taschenbuch)
Starting with the wedding of Elizabeth Bennet and her sister Jane to Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley respectively, the novel tells the story of Elizabeth's married life, which is not at all what she expected it to be. Instead of going to the Lake District for their wedding tour, Darcy and Elizabeth travel to Paris and then on to the Alps, but there is something strange going on. Darcy seems to have changed and while apparently still in love with Elizabeth, he has a dreadful secret that keeps him from her.

The novel, 'Mr Darcy, Vampyre' is, as the title page declares, a continuation of Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics), one of what seems to be about a hundred novels published in recent years piggybacking on the continued success of Jane Austen's novel. Amanda Grange herself has already written 'Mr Darcy's Diary' (and the diaries of about all the other Jane Austen's heroes).

Now she has struck upon the idea on what would happen if Mr Darcy was a vampire. The idea, if perhaps a little strange (though hardly stranger than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance-Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem (Quirk Classics)) is certainly a fun one and I was filled with anticipation what an entertaining story it would be. But sadly, it was not to be. Instead of suspense, high drama and fun, the story plods on and on and on. We are treated to Elizabeth and her husband travelling hither and thither - with an absolutely stunning disregard for geography or how much time it would take to cross the distances involved - and Elizabeth worrying. The novel is called 'Mr Darcy, Vampyre' so the reader is pretty much clued in to what is going on and can only wring his or her hands at the dimness of the heroine. By the time Mr Darcy's 'secret' is finally disclosed three quarters of the book have gone by.

I did not expect this book to be nobel price material, but I expected it to be entertaining. Unfortunately, Ms Grange wasted an excellent opportunity to produce a fun, suspenseful and new take on the 'Pride and Prejudice' theme. For the idea alone I still give the book two stars.


Private Demons
Private Demons
von Judy Oppenheimer
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 14,21

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4.0 von 5 Sternen The Life of an Unconventional, Fascinating Author, 9. Februar 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Private Demons (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Though Shirley Jackson is a widely acclaimed author of short stories and unusual novels, she is not very well known in Germany. Her writings cover an amazing breadth of topics, ranging from lighthearted tales of her family life to disturbing short stories. Her novel The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) is considered one of the most singificant ghost stories of the 20th century and was adapted to film twice.

Judy Oppenheimer's biography of Shirley Jackson is certainly everything a good biography should be: it retells Jackson's life with sympathy but not uncritcally. It is well written and readable. By interviewing to Shirley Jackson's friends and children and reading her copious papers, letters and diaries, the Oppenheimer really gives the reader the impression that they get to know this fascinating author better. Shirley Jackson emerges from the pages of this book as a person with strength and weaknesses: Full of life, overweight (most of the times), intellectual, unconventional, haunted by her private demons, a chain smoker, and cat lover. The book also contains some great photographs of Shirley Jackson and her family. (I am not all that comfortable with the style of references or the fact that, once again, they are quarantained to the end of the book.)

I read 'Private Demons' after rereading 'The Haunting of Hill House' for the umtieth time and after finishing it I was keen to read more of Shirley Jackson's writing but, sadly, I had to find out that most of her books are not available, a great shame.


The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
von Maureen Lindley
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,63

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Sex, Drugs and Spying in Early 20th-Century China, 8. Februar 2010
'The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel' are the fictional memoirs of a Chinese Princess, the eponymous Eastern Jewel. At the age of eight Eastern Jewel is sent to a Japanese friend of her father's, who adpots her - at least that is her story. As she is neither inclined nor willing to conform to the conduct expected of women, she remains an outsider. She is also sexually exploited by her stepfather who, eventually tiring of her, banishes her to Mongolia to be married. She escapes from the cold and barren steppe and, after another stint in Japan, moves to Shanghai where she is recruited by the Japanese army to spy for them.

Eastern Jewel, or Yoshiko Kawashima to use her Japanese name, was an actual, historical figure who caught the attention and interest of Maureen Lindley who, exploring her unusal life, grew more and more fascinated with her. Eastern Jewel's life, as retold by Maureen Lindley, is an amazing tale of wild adventures, sexual exploration and opium smoking all intertwined with the history of China and Japan from the 1920s to the 1940s. It would be interesting to know how much of the story is a based on historical facts and how large the gaps were that the author had to fill in. The tale Maureen Lindley has spun is certainly a fascinating one.

I have to admit that I was not completely at ease with the style of the novel, but this is obviously a question of personal taste rather than a fault of the book itself. The story is told quite, well, cursorily, a style that does actually go with the idea that these memoirs were written by Eastern Jewel while was in prison, and it is probably the only way to squeeze so much story in a book of this size, but I found it difficult to get really involved with the story and the characters (hence only three stars).

Nonetheless, 'The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel' are a well-written, entertaining, not to mention exotic tale of a woman who lived a most unusual life in a fascinating time and place.


Septimus Heap, Book Five: Syren
Septimus Heap, Book Five: Syren
von Angie Sage
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Septimus Heap, still going strong in his fifth adventure, 21. Januar 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Septimus Heap, Book Five: Syren (Taschenbuch)
'Syren' is the fifth installment of Angie Sage's Septimus Heap Books. After rescuing his brother Nicko and his friend Snorri from the House of Foryx, Septimus is promoted to Senior Apprentice. Unfortunately, he has no time to enjoy his newly gained status as there is a new conspiracy brewing against the Castle and Septimus, Jenna, Wolf Boy, Lucy Gringe, Spit Fyre and so on find themselves, as usual, right in the middle of it.

Continuing the tale of Septimus Heap 'Syren' shows no sign of the author growing tired of it or running out of new ideas. Angie Sage keeps the tone light and provides the by now familiar mix of humour and action. It is nice to meet all the familiar characters again and exciting to get to know some new ones. The several different strands of the tale are cleverly interwoven and there is just enough tension in the air for the reader to think that this time something just might go really, badly wrong.

'Syren' is a thoroughly thoroughly entertaining and lighthearted read and, showing no sign of falling below the standard set by the previous books, bodes well for the future of the series. I, at least, am looking forward to the next book about Septimus Heap and his friends (and enemies).


Life on the Mississippi (Penguin Classics)
Life on the Mississippi (Penguin Classics)
von James M. Cox
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,75

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Steamboats and Tall Tales, 19. Januar 2010
Mark Twain wrote this book after the success of his earlier travel books, though 'Life on the Mississippi' is hardly what one may call a traditional travel book but then neither are his earlier ones like 'The Innocencts Abroad'. A number of chapters had been previously published as a series of newspaper articles and describe Samuel Clemens's training as a Mississippi steamboat pilot before the Civil War. The other part of the book is largely based on Mark Twain's visit to the river in 1881, a trip he made expressly to gather material for this book and observe the changes time had brought to the Mississippi now sadly depleted of steamboats.

Written with wry humour the book covers a whole variety of subjects in this book, not only what one may expect like a history of the river or Mark Twain's own experiences on it and tall tales told to him and by him. Sometimes it is difficult to decide how far to trust the author and his reminscences. There are Indian legends and sarcastic observations and also some quite serious discussions on history, society or the question of why the recent war (known today mostly as the Civil War but also as the War between the States) was still so much on the mind of the people in the South. I particularly liked his theory that the war was caused by Sir Walter Scott's romances.

It is an interesting, amusing and informative book, but I think the reader has to have a previous interest in either the Mississippi, steamboats, Mark Twain or history to appreciate the book. For those who are interested in one or several of these topics this is a book well worth reading.


Heinrich I. Begründer der ottonischen Herrschaft
Heinrich I. Begründer der ottonischen Herrschaft
von Wolfgang Giese
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Exzellente Biographie König Heinrichs I., 13. Januar 2010
Heinrich I. wurde im Jahre 919 zum König des Ostfrankenreiches erhoben und war der erste nichtfränkische Herrscher dieses Reiches. Als Vater von Otto I. war er der 'Begründer der ottonischen Herrschaft'. Wolfgang Giese beginnt sein Buch mit einer Diskussion über die (dürftige) Quellenlage und den Forschungsstand. Auch die Frage nach dem Beginn des 'deutschen' Reiches, d.h. ab wann überhaupt von einem solchen gesprochen werden kann, wird behandelt. Der Autor beschreibt dann die Biographie Heinrich I., soweit sie sich aus der bereits erwähnten dürftigen Quellenlage rekonstruieren lässt, sowie die Rolle, die dieser Herrscher für die Entwicklung des 'deutschen' (oder ostfränkisch-frühdeutschen) Reiches hatte.

Das Buch ist eine wirkliche Freude zu lesen, interessant und gut geschrieben. Die Diskussionen einzelner umstrittene Aspekte des Lebens Heinrichs I. sowie welche Bedeutung diese im geschichtlichen Zusammenhang hatten sind leicht nachzuvollziehen und regen zum Nachdenken an. Es hat meiner Lesefreude natürlich auch keinen Abbruch getan, dass ich die Meinung des Autors teile, dass eine erfolgreiche Herrschaft nur auf einer Zusammenarbeit von König und Adel beruhen kann.

Leider muss ich wie so oft auch hier bemängeln, dass das Buch keine Fußnoten sondern Endnoten hat. Gerade bei einem wissenschaftlichen Buch wie 'Heinrich I. Begründer der ottonischen Herrschaft' ist es für den Leser äußerst ärgerlich, wenn er/sie ständig hin und herblättern muss.

Abgesehen davon ist diese Biographie äußerst lesenswert und ich hätte dem Buch gerne fünf Sterne gegeben, aber die Endnoten-Unsitte geht mir so auf die Nerven, dass ich sie mit einem Stern Abzug bestrafe.


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