Reading in 2014

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[I took this picture on a clear, cold day in Travemünde, just a few days ago.]

It’s done and over with – 2014, that is. And I’m glad of it ’cause it really wasn’t a good year, overall. The reading was okay, even though I didn’t read nearly enough. I only started in March, 26 novels and anthologies in all. They were mostly good, also mostly lesbian romances and some rereads. I want to spread out more this year but for 2014, it was okay.

My favorites among the new ones I read were Sometime Yesterday by Yvonne Heidt, Wicked Things, edited by Jay and Astrid Ohletz (which contains my short story ‘A Lesson i Magic’), and Roller Coaster by Karin Kallmaker.

But apart from the books I’ve read there were some I haven’t finished in 2014. There are always some of those each year. I often lose interest in books, but that’s not the only reason for not finishing a book. Let me just run down those unfinished books of 2014.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – While I liked the first volume of the series, the second part has too many elements of that other series that treats its female protagonist like a second-class character. There were also some plot bunnies that didn’t make much sense, apart from the basis of the whole series being a little far-fetched.

The Age of Innocent by Edith Wharton – I love Wharton’s work and I would really like to read more from her. The problem is that I want to study her, but I’m not quite at a point where I can solely concentrate on a body of work by one author, especially one who has been studied by far more intelligent heads than mine. I haven’t gotten beyond the first chapter – though I rewatched the movie this year.

When the Clock Strikes Thirteen by Ylva Publishing – I contributed a story to this year’s Halloween anthology and wanted to read last year’s. I have read the first few stories but I haven’t gotten beyond them yet. I will pick this anthology up again to continue reading, I just got side-tracked.

Coming Home by Lois Cloarec Hart – This is one of my all-time favorite Xena-Uber fanfictions and now I have the paperback. But I haven’t gotten around to reading the whole book yet. I want to, but it’s been a while since I read it and I would hate to discover that it’s not as good as I remember it. That’s stupid, of course, Hart is a good story-teller. I’m just being silly, is all.

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton – This is part of my research about supernatural creatures. I’m looking forward to writing my first supernatural story this year (probably come June) so I may finish this one yet. It’s good, so far.

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran – I’m trying to get involved in some gay (male) reading, but so far haven’t been very successful (as I’ve started and not finished At Swim, Two Boys last year). I like the narration so far but it’s a little more heavy-duty than I want to engage in at the moment.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan – This is a sweet story about a coming out of a lesbian teen. I’m going to continue reading this at some point but not right now.

Heart’s Surrender by Emma Weimann – I really like the beginning of this one and if you ask me why I haven’t finished it yet, I can’t even tell you. My focus got diverted and I haven’t redirected it at this novel yet. I will, probably sometime this year. It’s been a lot of fun so far.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier – The third part of the series, a good, solid series. But I got a little tired of the narrator’s voice by the third book. Sometimes listening to teen first narrators gets a little tiresome. I like the premise of the story and the story, too. I will finish it, though I’m not sure when.

Blind Bet by Tracey Richardson – The Candidate by the same author was brilliant, I loved it. The Wedding Party was all right but I had some beef with it. And now this one… I don’t know. There were just some things in this I had a hard time working through. The writing is good but some of the plot bunnies are positively rabid. Not sure I’ll pick it up again.

2014 is over. Let’s see what 2015 brings. I’m looking forward to reading in 2015.

 

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

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[translated from German by Anthea Bell]

I came across this trilogy last month when I had nothing to do one day and went to the movies. I didn’t want to watch anything in particular and ended up watching a young adult film I knew nothing about – Sapphire Blue (or rather the German version Saphierblau). I didn’t even know it was the second part of three, but I learned pretty quickly and I liked it.

I think I’ve always been fascinated by time travel (movie-wise). The Back to the Future-Trilogy is part of my childhood and I remember that I was the only one in my family who really got the plot. I haven’t read much about time travel, if anything, I didn’t even finish The Time Machine when I started reading it earlier this year. Still, fascinated, so I thought I’d read the books of this trilogy.

So far, I’m not disappointed. I’m not sure how the German version is written but I find the translation really good and easy to read. The plot is certainly interesting and rather fast-paced. I guess, that’s one of the aspects of writing (or filming) time travel, things happen fast and some things are simply not explained. It makes sense since the paradox of time travel – are things changing constantly after one trip to the past after another, or have things been this way because they have been changed and everybody knew all along – is difficult to solve.

Sorry, I forgot – the plot:

Gwendolyn Shepherd has never expected to be the one in her family to carry the time travel gene but then, one day, she’s pulled into the past and her life changes from there. The secret society bound to help her with this predicament is no help at all as they all expect her to betray them, and even fellow time traveller (and love interest), Gideon de Villiers, thinks she’s only a stupid goose. Gwen is reeling from new information and trips to the past. And that’s before she even knows about her cousin Lucy’s treason and Count Saint-Germain’s ability of scaring the heck out of her.

I like that Gier has not invented a new world, a different reality but rather deals with an exceptional situation in our society. Then again, she has created a secret society and is rather scetchy on the details, but she ties this scetchy-ness to what Gwen knows, or rather doesn’t know about it and it all makes sense again. The historical parts of her novel are well-researched but the mix of modern people in old times gives them a modern and sometimes comical touch.

Ruby Red is a great first volume of an intriguing trilogy – hopefully. It’s also a quick read. What I’m not entirely happy with is the short span of time that elapses. The first volume happens on two days. While a lot happens in that short span of time, it’s not a very promising premise for the trilogy. At this speed, the whole trilogy is over in a week. But other than that – if you like young adult novels and time travel and a young woman coming of age… go read.