Bored in Brittany

Bretonische Verhältnisse (Kommissar Dupin, #1)Bretonische Verhältnisse by Jean-Luc Bannalec
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An armchair mystery by a German author with a French pen name, possibly trying to re-create Maigret in Brittany. Pretty boring. We get a bunch of aimless interrogations/interviews, dialogues that consist of many repetitions, a lot of walking and driving around and a fairly uninspired criminal case. Around the middle the plots gets a bit more interesting, but there is a distinct lack of suspense. The solution to the mystery is just as lackluster and one of the pivotal moments towards the end plays out in the off. Not sure why this became a bestseller in Germany.

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Baltimore on Basic

The Churn (Expanse, #0.2)The Churn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Someone recommended that I read this before Nemesis Games, as it is a good background story for Amos. I almost can’t wait to pick that up next week, to find out what happens to Amos. He is one of my favourite characters in The Expanse.

The story gives a look into Amos’ early days, before leaving Earth. And there is a twist that I really should have seen coming from miles away. But I am a bit blind that way, so the coin only dropped just before I got hit by that two-by-four…

Entertaining, short, a little odd…

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My year in books

2017 on Goodreads2017 on Goodreads by Various

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My year in books according to goodreads is here.

I successfully moved back into SF this year, thanks to SpecFic Buddy Reads. You guys were a lot of fun to be with this year! I found a bunch of really nice new friends and great books. Also some not so great books, but who is counting…

My longest book this year was A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin. It was ok, but pretty tedious in parts. I was glad to be done with it. I came to realize that I am not into epic fantasy all that much anymore. Too long, takes too much time to get to the point. I actually prefer the TV series to the books now. Sacrilege, I know. I am pretty sure though that I will get the next book, whenever that will be.

Brian Sanderson still languishes on my shelf unfinished. One year and I haven’t touched it once. I am reluctant to abandon it, maybe in 2018…

I (re-)discovered Audible this year and this time it works. I listen to about one novel per month and some of my favourite “reads” of the year were audiobooks:

The first four books of The Expanse series, starting with Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) by James S.A. Corey, were solid 4- and 5-star additions.

I also found and came to love Ann Leckie with her Imperial Radch series, starting with Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1) by Ann Leckie.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere #1) by Meg Elison
Neverwhere BBC Dramatisation by Neil Gaiman Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky The Martian by Andy Weir were other audiobooks that I enjoyed.

I reduced my UF reading a lot, nonetheless I had some noteable 5-star additions this year, mostly continuations of ongoing series:

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9) by Patricia Briggs White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2) by Ilona Andrews Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10) by Patricia Briggs Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3) by Ilona Andrews

There was also some fantasy/historical romance The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1) by K.J. Charles and fun SciFi novellas All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) by Martha Wells — looking forward to the sequel in 2018! — and great comics The Black Incal by Alexandro Jodorowsky.

Other fun books worth mentioning:
Harmony Black (Harmony Black, #1) by Craig Schaefer
Substrate Phantoms by Jessica Reisman Thief of Songs (Twin Kingdoms Romances Book 1) by M.C.A. Hogarth Provenance by Ann Leckie Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7) by Lois McMaster Bujold River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1) by Sarah Gailey

Some of my biggest disappointments in 2017:
Binary/System by Eric Brown
Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin Insomnia by Stephen King A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1) by Cherie Priest

So, pretty wild mix this year. Let’s see where goodreads and my reading buddies lead me next. Maybe read fewer buddy reads and catch up with some of my other reading. Continue my series buddy read of the Vorkosigan series. I would quite like to branch out a little further next year. And finally catch up with my Netgalley pile. And that mountainous TBR pile didn’t really go down all that much either. *must buy fewer books*

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Not very spooky

Mrs. Zant and the GhostMrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A classic Victorian ghost story, first published in 1885, which I got as an Audible freebie. Narrated by Gillian Anderson (X-Files).

I found it to be a pretty dull ghost story, with the stereotypical gender roles of the time.

Gillian Anderson’s narration was a bit breathy for my taste and the different characters were not terribly distinct and pretty much in the same register, regardless of situation.

It was short, it was free, it was ok.

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Cordelia goes for it…

Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7)Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in my chronological series read of the Vorkosigan Saga. Published as the 7th book of the series. All about Cordelia and Aral and complementing the story that started in Shards of Honor. Their early days on Barrayar, about family, politics, intrigue and war.

This time I went for the kindle version, as I did not enjoy the first two audiobooks very much. The narrator came across as very old fashioned and it gave the previous two books a very dated feel. I am happy to report that I liked this much better. And if I should ever decide to re-read the first two books, it will certainly be in the printed version, not on audio. Apparently there is another narrator for the later books and if I should come across him, I might give him a try.

Slow start, slow build-up, very nice world-building. Barrayar came to life quite nicely.

Characterization are good, although I struggled at times to keep all these people apart, with their similar sounding family names. The relationship between Cordelia and Aral is kept very low key. Her struggles Piotr and the assembled Vor nobility were amusing to read though. I assume that I will not meet any of these characters again, at least for several books. I will miss Koudelka, Bothari and Droushnakovi.

The action and adventure part of the plot towards the end of the book was entertaining and suspenseful. Especially once Cordelia had enough of male stupidity and went for it. Kick-ass, woman! I salute you!

3.75 points, looking forward to the next book!

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Christmas doodle

I give you my festive glitter doodle….

The glitter is a little difficult to see and I didn’t manage to get rid of the glare…. that was a lot of fun with the pens. I might need to get more pens. No shading, but very satisfying.

What is the Incal?

The Black IncalThe Black Incal by Alexandro Jodorowsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First published in 1981 and I probably read it shortly thereafter, as a teenager, branching out from Tintin, wanting something more artistic and with a deeper storyline. I could still kick myself that I didn’t keep those early editions.

I like everything about it, the story, the humour, the line art, the colouring. A lot of running, shooting, blowing stuff up, sci fi geek madness, The Fifth Element absurdness and it is as good as I remember.

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Not venturing in my direction

Chanur's Venture (Chanur #2)Chanur’s Venture by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first book in this series was ok. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, but the story was not without interest. This picks up two years after the event of the previous book. It finished with an open end and apparently forms a trilogy with the next two books, with one major story arc. I will not be picking up the next book.

The story did not grab me at all, I really didn’t care what happens next. The characters stayed one-dimensional and lifeless for me, with the exception of Pyanfar and her husband Khym. I did like him and I would very much have liked to see his character and his position in Hani society explored more.

Great idea to explore the difficulties of communication between different species. You do not get to read about that very much in SciFi or at least not to this extent. But the pidgin they used here really got on my nerves pretty quickly.

So, I think I am pretty much done with Cherryh. The first book of the Foreigner series didn’t appeal to me either. Great ideas, but her writing just isn’t for me.

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