Dracula – Bram Stoker

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Well, I don’t even know where to start with this book. Dracula is obviously a classic and I don’t have clue why it took me 21 years to finally read it.

But let me tell you, that book is astonishing and so incredibly gripping I basically lived one-handed for two days because I just couldn’t put it down.

Apparently, it took Bram Stoker ten years to finish his masterpiece, which is understandable once you see the thought-through structure of Dracula. Also, he did such a good job in researching all those tales about Vampires and spinning together an amazing plot I’m honestly quite impressed he could finish it in that time-frame.

What makes Dracula so gripping is probably the fact that the book consists solely of diary-entries written by various characters. That gives the reader the feeling of actually having been there. The whole story starts when the protagonist Jonathan Harker sets out to Transylvania to visit Count Dracula who has bought an establishment in London and wants to go over the details with Harker in person.

At first, everything seems rather normal to Jonathan, but as the days go on he realizes that the Count is quite odd. He never seems to eat, is pale as death and never shows himself during the daytime. Slowly but surely Harker comes to the conclusion that the count has to be a vampire and tries to flee from the castle. Even though he eventually succeeds in doing so, he is in a grave condition when other people find him and pamper him back to health.

Meanwhile, his fiancé Mina is visiting her friend Lucy, who establishes an odd sort of illness and sadly dies after having battled for her well-being for weeks. Dr Seward, who is a former admirer of Lucy and his friend Van Helsing have, alongside Mina and Arthur, Lucy’s husband, tried to cure Lucy. But instead of a common illness, they discover something way more demonic has happened to their friend. Lucy had been bitten by a vampire and thus has become one herself. After her death, Mina, who had by then been joined by her now-husband Jonathan, and the rest of the group set out to free Lucy of her existence and to kill the vampire, who brought that misfortune to them all.

With dread, Jonathan realizes that his acquaintance with Count Dracula reaches way deeper than he ever feared since the count is, of course, responsible for the death of Lucy. But his journals about his time in Transylvania are crucial for the success of the hunt, and slowly the friends understand the plan of the count.

But the closer they come to kill the beast the more dangerous their quest becomes and so Mina Harker is bitten by the Count. Afraid for the life of his beloved wife, Jonathan tries everything in his might to rescue her from the fangs of death.

Well, to find out more please read the book for yourself. But please make sure to not be alone in a big house when reading it at night, because it really does get quite spooky.

Catcher -Kalyn Nicholson

It’s almost like I’ve known you my entire life.

Although I normally upload reviews on Sundays and Dear Reader-parts on Tuesdays I couldn’t resist uploading the review of Kalyn Nicholson’s book straight away. The book came out on August 7thand I’ve been reading it a couple of days later, basically in one sitting.

It’s a story about love, loss and family, with just the right amount of cheesiness and a hell lot of coffee. But let me give you an overview of the plot. (Spoiler-Alert!)

The book is written from the view of eighteen-year-old Carson Wallace. The girl lives with her parents in Thalia, a country in the future and is being homeschooled by her father. The story starts with a tragedy that happened to Carson’s family when she was about four years old. During a lift-crash (lifts being the futuristic transportation vehicles) her younger brother Axel dies, although Carson also nearly did not survive the accident. But while she is unconscious she meets a young boy with grey eyes who tells her it would not be her time to die yet. So, she decides to live and returns to her life. The boy, whom she calls Grey, continues to visit her in her dreams and together they have the most awesome adventures.

As the years go by, their friendship eventually turns to love, but on Carson’s 18thbirthday her house is set on fire, she and her parents merely escape and her world is turned upside down. Suddenly she is allowed to attend Yorker, a school which specializes in brain stimulation, something her parents have forbidden her before since the school is across the country in the capital of Thalia. Also, instead of Grey, Carson suddenly dreams about how she herself sets her house on fire with a pack of matches she found.

Things get even more confusing when she not only finds out that Grey exists in real life, but that she also is on top of a kill-list established by the government. Trying to escape from her fate, she discovers secrets about her world, she’d never thought possible.

Well, I don’t want to spoil you anymore, so I’m gonna stop with that.

Overall, the book is a nice read, which features a lot of almond lattes and notebooks. Nicholson’s style of writing is pretty good, although the characters do miss a tiny bit of depth every now and then. Apart from that I really enjoyed reading Catcher and cannot wait to read the sequel to this very exciting series.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Having been published in 1817 Frankenstein is now the epitome of gothic books. Mary Shelley was only 19 years old when she wrote this dark tale of monstrosity, the rules of science and death.

Victor Frankenstein is a highly intelligent striving young man from Switzerland with an enthusiasm for alchemy. When he sets out to attend a rewarded Universtiy, it soon becomes clear that great things are to be expected from him. And doesn’t take long that he commences a project that will last far longer than he could have ever imagined. After endless hours in his labour he succeeds in the middle of the night when the creature he put together from lifeless limbs suddenly opens its eyes. But his creation is a wretch, a Monster and Frankenstein flies from his labour in fear. To his Desperation that’s not the end to the tale, in fact it’s only the beginning. For some time, Frankenstein doesn’t see or hear anything from the wretch, but when he murders Victors younger brother, it becomes clear to him that he made a huge mistake in bringing that miserable creature to life. The monster hunts him and takes revenge for giving him this pleasureless and miserable life by tormenting him with the murders of Frankensteins beloved ones.

The creature is feared and rejected by every human being because his appearance is hideous and he never meets a genuine hand. Tough, he longs for companionship, for a fellow creature, with whom he could share his lonely life with. Therefore, he sets out and seeks Frankenstein in person to demand from him to produce another wretch, just like him. If he, Frankenstein, would fulfil this task the monster and his partner would forever leave him and all humans in peace. But Frankenstein dares not to put another monster in the world and refuses the demand. Filled with rage and hatred for his creator the daemon thus makes his purpose of life to put Frankenstein into as much misery as possible. Innocent people have to give their lives in order to torment the troubled and despairing Frankenstein, who then vows to destroy the monster and sets out on a journey that will eventually cost him his life. The monster, after Frankenstein is dead, dies from his own hand, and the claims to not be the only devil in this tale. He says all he wanted was the be happy and to be content. He wanted to interact with other people, but he was left alone by his master, who feared him solely for his appearance. He claims to have emotions just like a person has and he felt the injustice and he wanted, in his misery, Frankenstein to feel the same pain he had to endure. The death of Frankenstein can also not satisfy him, because now his life is robbed of its only purpose of life, which was to torment his creator. Thus, he sets out and takes his own life.

This is how the Story of Frankenstein and his Monster Ends and I believe that book is an astonishing read. It’s about how pushing too far never equals a good outcome and how revenge and hatred lead only to more misery and that sometimes forgiveness and admitting one’s own mistakes and giving a helping hand to those who need it, may go a very long way.

I do not really believe that Frankenstein’s monster was evil from the beginning, nothing ever is evil on its day of birth. But being abandoned by his creator and rejected by everyone made him take the actions of a Monster. If he really was evil, I don’t know, but I think he could have come out alright if someone had taken proper care of him. This might be very naive, but I just have trouble believing that something is entirely evil or entirely good.

Anway, Frankenstein, though brilliant, could not see the line where science may be too much. His pushing too far over the edge kind of reminds me of Moria in Lord Of The Rings. The dwarves, just like Victor, stepped over a line and woke a monster that was far out of their league. The same happened to Frankenstein and I think no one can blame him for running away, that night when his Monster first opened its eyes. Nevertheless, he had to spend the rest of his life trying to destroy what his very own hands brought to life, but in the end, he only lost everything that was dear to him and of course his own life.

Frankenstein is an astonishing read. Shelley fills the head of her reader with the most grotesque images, that are so dreadful, I would not advise reading this book at night when you are alone at home. But I would certainly recommend reading it. Frankenstein may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is definitely worth your time.

The Harry-Potter-Series – J.K. Rowling

I entered the world of magic when I was eleven years old, and although that was almost exactly 10 years ago, my love for the Harry-Potter-Series is still going strong. Truth to be told, I’ve read all seven books 30 times in those past ten years, which might seem a tiny bit insane, but it’s Harry Potter, after all, so I think it may be allowed.

Anyway, Harry, Ron and Hermione accompanied me throughout my adolescence and Hogwarts became kind of a second home to me. In fact, the world J.K. Rowling created was my safe shelter, whenever life became too hard for me to bear. Looking back at those rather difficult years now, I’m very grateful to have had those books to have just a little break from reality.

So, now that you know that I am quite the Potter-Head, it’s about time to figure out why people of all ages and cultures fall in love with Rowlings masterpiece. Hence, I’ve put together a short list of reasons I like the series and in case you have any more to add, just leave a comment down below 🙂

  1. The story is gripping and very well written
  2. The characters are relatable and so vivid the reader starts to believe to know them in real life
  3. The great display of the different shapes of love
    • Ron & Hermione are the best example of how friendship can turn into love
    • Lilys love for Harry shows that a mothers love never really ceases to exist
    • Snapes obsessive love for Lily makes it clear that when it comes to love, there’s hardly anything one wouldn’t do for the other
    • Dumbledores short, yet intensive relationship with Grindwald displays the powerful, fierce and somehow all-consuming feeling of first love and that sometimes falling head over toe for something can turn out to be quite destructive
    • And of course, the relationship between Harry, Ron and Hermione simply is the epidome of friendship
  4. With the Dementors Rowling managed to give one of the best literal descriptions of depression ever
  5. Harrys acceptance of his fate, that showed the reader, that sometimes it’s best to just stick things out and never ever despair whenever it gets to hard
  6. The way the characters grow from being children to adults
  7. Dumbledores firm believe that love will always win in the end, and of course every other wisdom he shares with the world
  8. Showing that it doesn’t matter what other people think about you
  9. Getting back up, whenever life knocks you down
  10. The amount of loyalty, friendship, bravery and wisdom

Obviously, there’d be a lot more to say about the greatness of Harry Potter, but I don’t want to let this get too long, so I’m gonna wrap it up.

From my point of view, Harry Potter is one of the most amazing literal accomplishment of our time and I’m sure the reasonable hype around it will be passed on to the next generation. And in case you haven’t read the series as of yet, I’d highly advise you to do so, but be warned, once you’re a Potter-Head there’s no way back.

Always

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Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carrol

Being a classic tale, written for children, Alice is a nice read that kind of broadens one horizon in its own way. The beautiful language of the 19th century makes the book to an adventure where the lines between possible and impossible slowly disappear.

With Alice, Carrol created a world that evokes the childish innocence in every adult once again and lets us see the world from the angle of our childhood, where things were being taken for what they simply were without questioning their possibility or searching a deeper meaning behind every action.

The author himself said, there would be no moral to be taken from this tale, it would just be a collection of nonsense wrapped up in a dream of an innocent child, where worries about the future and dwelling in the past have no room for existing, hence the reader is almost forced to live in the moment alongside a weird collection of characters, none of which are to be taken too seriously, yet our generation may take the living in the moment-part as a little hint to practice that habit in their everyday-lives.

I quite enjoyed reading this book as a child and found it very refreshing when reading it as an adult and cannot wait to read it to eventual future children.

Six Of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Absolutely loved this one. I immediately fell in love with all six main characters and I adored the way each background-story unfolds itself throughout the book. Also, the way that none of the characters is just good or just bad really made me love this book even more. Six Of Crows features a complex plot which doesn’t allow the reader to picture the actual ending, although there aren’t that much major plot-twists.

The only reason I cannot rate this book with five stars is the rather slow beginning. I needed three attempts until I could finish the whole book. It’s only been the first few chapters though, that wouldn’t draw me in; after I got through those the story had me in its grip and I spent an entire day on reading because there was no way of putting Six Of Crows aside.

So, to all of you who’ve been longing to read an utterly extraordinary fantasy-story, that lets you forget you’re not actually living in the same world as the characters, get hold of a copy and prepare for a long night, since once this book got you, it doesn’t let you go 🙂

All The Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater

Gosh, this is a hard one to review. All The Crooked Saints was my first book by Maggie Stiefvater, and yes, I like it, but it is a weird read. I kinda feel like there are two ways to review this book. Like, you could see it as another YA-book, but then I think I’d give it 2-3 stars since I really missed some emotion and I wasn’t necessarily moved by the happenings. Also, I did not have any connection to the characters whatsoever – I mean I liked them, I just couldn’t be bothered with what they do or what happens to them.
Therefore, I decided to see All The Crooked saints more like a “modern tale” and as such it gets 4 stars from me. I mean the language Stiefvater used is absolutely incredible. I haven’t come across a book that creates such vivid images solely by language and without having a very, let’s say deep plot.
What’s more, I constantly felt as if the book wanted to give me some advice, which for me is another sign for a tale.
I still try to figure out what this piece of advice may be, but I reckon it has something to do with people not having to fight their darkness on their own, which again reminds me on my own speech-therapy sessions.
My therapist would guide me through my darkness by asking questions and somehow putting a mirror in front of me so that I was able to see myself and the needs I had at the time. At the end of the day, it was obviously still my job to push through, but having someone by my side to rely on has helped me a lot and I don’t think I could have made it without him.
So, I guess Stiefvater wanted to show that it’s not a bad thing to help somebody else, that accepting advice from another person is sometimes crucial for you to be able to move on and that overcoming your darkness may enlighten you in a way you’d never have suspected.

All in all, All the crooked saints is a nice read, as long as you are okay with the “missing” plot to say it that way, and the very spiritual way the Latin American culture is displayed (this topic seems to be too sensitive for me to discuss, so I better leave it at that).