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Book Beginnings on Friday

There is a German book called “Der schönste erste Satz” (The most beautiful first sentence) about a contest where people could send in the sentence which they thought was the best first sentence in a book. A wonderful idea, because for me, if the first sentence doesn’t attract me, usually I am not too fussed on the overall book either. The winner of the contest, by the way, was the first sentence of “The Flounder” by Günther Grass.

The reason I am telling you this is because it explains why I decided to join the “Book Beginnings on Friday” event (a day late, I know). I never thought the Teaser Tuesday was much good, since any sentence out of context wouldn’t say much about a book, whereas the first sentence does.

So, without further ado, here is my first sentence:

“This is terrible,” Mom moaned, fussing with her hair as we inched down the Long Island Expressway, a line of cars, as far as the eye could see.

summer From this alone it is obvious it is a YA book. It is one that I have been wanting to read for quite some time. “The Summer of Skinny Dipping” by Amanda Howells. I liked it because it already hints at some things, especially about “Mom” who so far turned out to be quite a terrible mother and/or person.

I am not a YA reader in general, even though I have read a few and it seems that the whole genre has changed quite a bit since I was a young adult. As an in between read I quite like those books, easy, fast reads, not too complicated (I am not saying simplified) and pleasant. I think I will definitely enjoy this one.

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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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Blurb:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

 

My thoughts: 

Even though I am not into YA in general I read Shiver along with Carin because I have heard a lot of good things about it. I like the "lovers who can’t stay together due to circumstances" topic, so I was not disappointed with the general idea of the story.
Grace and Sam have been in love for what seems like forever, even though they didn’t know each other in person. Very romantic. I liked the uncomplicated plot without many twists and turns which made for a quick and pleasant read, I suppose this is quite typical of a YA story where there are not obstacles at every corner (and given the situation there could have been A LOT of them).

I already said in my update #1 of the readalong that I didn’t get the Fahrenheit degrees at all, which supposedly took some of the building tension away. In retrospect I am pretty sure knowing my way around Fahrenheit wouldn’t have made a big difference. OK, it got colder and change was coming closer – I got that without the exact temperature info, especially since the indicators of when Sam would change were more than unreliable anyway.
It seemed the wolves changed at random, yes, based on the seasons, but nobody knew exactly when they would change, when they would change back, when they would stay a wolf for good etc. I found this quite confusing. It wasn’t as if with the temperature reaching a certain point the change would invariably happen, so I am not sure what the temperature was supposed to tell us exactly.

The fact that Grace’s parents were totally oblivious to the fact that Sam was practically living in their house was strange to say the least. OK, they left Grace pretty much to her own devices but how can parents be so clueless and uninterested? This could have been one source of conflict that was not fully explored here. Grace deals with it in her head, but never confronts her parents.

I have heard from someone that a few people have complained about Grace having no backbone. I really have no idea where those people are coming from. I liked her. She was matter-of-fact, independent, reliable and quite practical when it came to helping Sam out in tricky situations or when she was with Jack and had to think of a way to get help for herself.

Another thing I had also read somewhere before was that Sam was constantly writing song lyrics reflecting his emotions. That sounded rather interesting, but somehow I didn’t particularly care for them. The choice of poetry that Sam read to Grace was equally unsatisfactory to me. I love poetry but Rainer Maria Rilke wouldn’t have been my first choice if I wanted to introduce someone to either poetry or German.

One side character I particularly liked was Isabel, Jack’s sister. Even though at first she is the condescending, rich and spoilt girl with her little dog in her purse, she later turns out to be helpful and sincere. Her snappy way and bitchy attitude could not hide the fact that she is a good person after all. From what I read she will be also a major character in "Linger", the sequel to "Shiver", and I am really looking forward to reading more about her.

I’m not sure whether I liked the ending. First of all, the whole cure theory and the execution of administering it was more than dubious. Was it realistic how Isabel got the blood? Was it realistic how they got them all to the hospital and out again? That all sounded very half-baked and it was happening too fast.

The re-unification of Grace and Sam was, well, nice, but I was missing some sort of explanation as to what happened to him after he ran away. Grace assumed he was dead, and then, all of a sudden, he returns and that’s it? That was anticlimatic. I can only hope that "Linger" will pick up exactly at this point and will deliver what I have been missing. 

 

Title Shiver
Author Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher Scholastic
ISBN 978-0545123273
Buy link Buy Shiver

 

Want to read what others think about this book?

Read Carin’s review of Shiver. Her thoughts went along a totally different line.

Here is Leeswammes review of it.

And this is what Iris has to say about it.  

Chachic’s thoughts on it.  

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Shiver readalong update 1

Nach dem Sommer cover

Somehow twitter just doesn’t give me enough room to tell my readalong buddies what I think about Shiver so far.

It is an easy and fast read, that’s for certain.

Carin, who is about as far as I am, said it had similarities to Twilight, but I can’t really agree. Yes, ok, the neglected girl theme is a bit similar, but Grace is a totally different type than Bella in my eyes.

Two things bother me. It is obvious I bought the US version, because there is always the degrees Fahrenheit at the top of a chapter. It is meant to build up some tension as to when it is going to be too cold for Sam to stay human. Nice try, as far as I am concerned. The Fahrenheit measure means zilch to me. I have no idea whether 49 degrees is cold, warm, almost winter, still summer. I have no clue. So the degree info is totally wasted on my. And the tension just won’t come.

Second I haven’t quite figured out when the wolves change anyway. It depends on the age and the season. But the seasonal hint seems to be a bit off. The explanations as to when Sam changed back and forth in the past and when he will change again in the future are somewhat wonky.

All that being said, so far I am liking it. What does everybody else think?

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Reading Shiver in November

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After reading a lot of good about “Shiver” I decided to read it, even though it is not my usual genre. Carin from A little Bookish and Bella from A girl reads a book will read the book along with me. Also Lisa from When she reads has shown interest in joining us.

Is anybody else up for it. It’s going to be a very informal readalong. No required posts or anything, we can talk about it on twitter or on any blog; maybe we will set reading targets, but I’m not sure whether this is going to be necessary. I don’t even know yet how many pages the book has.

But anyway, it is all laid back and completely casual.

If you are interested in joining our little group, please leave a comment. 

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Comparing covers: Shiver

I had a look at the magazine from Thalia today and came across a Maggie Stiefvater book that immediately caught my eye. I think, but am not certain, that Shiver is a YA book, not my cup of tea usually, but the plot sounded quite good and the amazon reviews are all raving about it.

This is the blurb: Grace is fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house; one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. Sam leads two lives. In winter, he stays in the frozen woods. In summer, he has few months to be human. Grace and Sam finally meet and realize they can’t bear to be apart. Sam must fight to stay human – or risk losing himself, and Grace, for ever.

Doesn’t this sound totally romantic? I am melting away here. I’ll have to give it a try. Just for the cover alone I’d love to buy the German translation, but no, I’ll go for the original.

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The German title once more has nothing to do with the original. “Nach dem Sommer” means “After (the) summer”. 

 

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Desiree vs. Mr. Darcy

desiree Some time ago I blogged about the horrible “Mr. Darcy takes a wife”, a book that became one of the few DNFs in my reading life. With a heavy heart I decided to put it up on my swap site and see whether there is someone who would like to read that sorry effort.

Yep, there is! It seems like I’ll be able to swap the book AND get an old childhood favourite on top of it in the process. When I was a girl I devoured Désirée. What a fantastic book for girls and I’m pretty sure I will enjoy reading it again even now, many years later.

I had totally forgotten about Desiree, I must have lost my copy in the course of various moves and now a nice hardcover edition in the original German will come back to me! Totally made up about this!

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Upcoming Twilight novel

A lot of people will be pleased to hear that a Twilight novella will be coming out in June. “The short second life of Bree Tanner” will be released in hardcover for 13.99$ on June 5. However, her dedicated fans can read an online edition for free at http://www.breetanner.com/  between June 7 and July 5. They say you won’t be able to print it from there.

The story is about Bree Tanner, a vampire in Victoria’s newly raised vampire army against the Cullens. I can’t say I remember the character, but I’m sure hardcore Twilight fans will know all there is to know about her so far.

Here you can find Stephenie Meyer’s press release.

German readers can find some info at Spiegel online. The German version will be released on the same date as the original version, its title will be "Bis(s) zum ersten Sonnenstrahl – Das kurze zweite Leben der Bree Tanner".

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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I would never have thought that I’d read a book for young adults. I resisted Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series for quite some time, but since the 4th book came out and the discussion started to become lively again, I just had to give it a try. I was told you either hate or love the book(s) and I wanted to find out what it was for me.

Well, obviously times have changed since I was a young adult. Where young girls nowadays are reading Twilight (and go totally nuts about it) I was reading the O’Sullivan Twins by Enid Blyton, LOL. I don’t know whether I’d like my early teen daughter – if I had one – to read Twilight. Even though there is no sex in the book, for reasons other than the couple wouldn’t love to have sex, it is quite a sensual book.

The story is about a new student in Forks, WA, Bella Swan (what a name, can you get more obvious?), who falls in love with a fellow student, Edward. He and his siblings are outsiders in their high school, and Bella is intrigued by him. When Edwards rescues her with superhuman speed and power from an accident she suspects he’s more than meets the eye. You guessed it, he’s a vampire. They fall in love, face some adversary and come out on top – for now. Bella wants Edward to turn her into a vampire, but he refuses and they come to an impasse over this.

I don’t know what to think of Bella. She is a total klutz, Edwards continuously has to rescue her from one accident or other; how she survived her first 17 years is a mystery to me. She has no life whatsoever, apart from Edward. She has no hobbies. Since she is new in Forks, she only made a few friends right at the beginning, but neglects them very soon after she gets entangled with Edward and his vampire "family". Her father, who she lives with now, uses her as a housemaid, she cooks his dinner every night, tidies up, does the laundry…..Excuse me? He has been living alone for a number of years and now that Bella is here he doesn’t lift a finger any more?  I really hope that young girls don’t read this book and think that this is how a girl’s life should be.

I am a sucker for boring books without a lot of external interference and with a lot of internal monologue, so this book was written for me. I enjoyed reading it a lot and got the other three books in the series as well. I loved Edward, even though I could have done with a bit less Bella gushing over him. How often can you say that someone is gorgeous and perfect without being repetitive? I get it.

Oh, and about the glitter part that everybody is so up in arms about. Yeah, ok, Ms. Meyer’s vampire glitter when they go out in direct sun light. So what? Every author makes up their own little vampire world, and if for her, they glitter, what is it to me? Edward and the others have to be able to walk in daylight in order to make the story work. If she’s thrown in a little glitter without explaining why, who the hell cares? After all it is book targeted at GIRLS, and we all love glitter, LOL. I don’t want to read a scientific essay about the reasons for it.

The book is told in first person from Bella’s point of view, which I usually don’t care for. I’d rather see both sides. Stephenie Meyer had planned to write another book about the same story from Edward’s point of view, Midnight Sun, but some thief stole and posted the unfinished manuscript on the net. The book is on hold for now. Ms. Meyer has posted that manuscript now on her own site so interested readers can read the first 250 odd pages.

Want to read more reviews?
This book has also been reviewed at Literary Escapism.