Zombies Down Under

Pandemic (Plague War #2)
by Alister Hodge (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was a little concerned about „a sadistic guard begins to target women within the camp“ in the blurb. I am not squeamish, but violence against women in books sometimes makes me really uncomfortable. Which is why I waited so long to pick up this sequel. It was Ok though. It wasn‘t too graphic or creepy.

The main characters from the first book make an appearance, but I think this would work as a standalone. Although the beginning of the zombie apocalypse is always the most fun for me.

This was a solid and entertaining read. However, I failed to connect emotionally to any of the main characters. There were no real highlights and it was all pretty predictable. I might pick up the last book eventually, especially since this one here stopped more or less in the middle of the narrative. 

It was ok.

Playlist:
– Who let the dogs out? By Baha Men

German excursion

Das Joshua-Profil
by Sebastian Fitzek (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Viele meiner lesenden Bekannten finden Fitzek super, daher habe ich auch endlich mal mein Glück versucht. Und nach 156 Seiten bzw. 36% aufgegeben und das Buch zur Bücherei zurück gebracht.

Der Schreibstil hat mir nicht gefallen und ich fand die Geschichte kein bisschen spannend. So um die 100 Seiten herum wurde es etwas interessanter, da war es mir aber schon egal. Ansonsten war mir die Handlung zu sehr an den Haaren herbei gezogen. 

Jola‘s Stimme paßte für mich nicht zu einem Grundschulkind. Sie klang viel zu erwachsen und war für mich unglaubhaft.

Und wenn man Wiederbelebungsmaßnahmen nicht an Toten (= gerade Verstorbenen) durchführt, an wem denn dann? Und Bettnäßer werden Psychopathen? Entweder die Hauptfigur Max ist ein Idiot oder es könnte tatsächlich sein, das ich Herrn Fitzek nicht mag. 

Vielleicht versuche ich es irgendwann nochmal mit einem andere Fitzek-Titel.


Many of my friends really like Fitzek, he is very successful in Germany. So I decided to give him a try. DNF at 156 pages (36%).

I don‘t usually read novels in German, so the author had an uphill battle with me from the start. I did not like the writing style and the story lacked suspense. Around 100 pages in it got a bit more interesting, but at that point I already didn‘t care anymore. The plot was pretty convoluted, I didn‘t buy it.

Perhaps I will try another of Fitzek‘s books in the future. 


Playlist:
– Biffy Clyro

Bond, James Bond…

James Bond #1
by Warren Ellis (Goodreads Author),  Jason Masters (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The action sequence in the beginning did not flow well, the narrative gaps between the frames were too big.

Artwork is ok. The story is not terribly interesting. The typical Bond movie structure. Some fight scene in the beginning, a trip to the office to meet the gang, some witty banter and off he goes on a new case…

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Can they live among them?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eugene is so busted! That part of the storyline was resolved with very little fuss though, which surprised me a little.

Rick and the others discover Alexandria.

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Where we get treated to a story about eyeballs. Very creepy. Hand me some bleach, so I can get the images out of my head…

It was really interesting to see how our group settles into this new community and how shell-shocked they appear to be from their life outside and how much it changed them. I could really relate to them after 11 volumes of fighting zombies. Even to me Alexandria felt fake and artificial. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe in the next volume…

The sourdough baking book that I didn‘t like so much…

And another excursion into baking with sourdough. I posted about this book already at the beginning of May. Here is an update:

Sauerteig: Echtes Brot und mehr
by Sarah Owens,  Ngoc Minh Ngo (Illustrator)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I used the buckwheat pancake recipe with some light changes and tweaks and liked it.

Right now I used another pancake recipe, for oven-baked pancakes with a fruit filling. It reminded me strongly of Clafoutis. My fruit of choice was rhubarb (which is actually a vegetable, I think) and it was very tasty!

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Bread next… because someone over on Goodreads told me that he scales the recipes to fit his needs all the time and it works. I always thought that is a no-go with baking. But ok, I will try it at some point and halve one of the bread baking recipes…

Right now I am a little happier with this book. If the next attempt works as well, I might raise my star rating…

Yes, the wine is just for the cook, it‘s not part of the recipe…

Everyday Sourdough

Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: Practical Recipes & Techniques for the Home Baker with Almost No Kneading
by Emilie Raffa

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I got this for my current sourdough obsession. I followed the sourdough recipe of the author in her blog and decided to try out her book as well. I leafed through it from front to back and liked the look of it and the bits I did read so far.
This looks like a good beginner‘s book with clear instructions, with accompanying photos of how to knead, shape, etc…

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It tickled my funny bone that she recommends Le Creuset as a dutch oven for baking… guess what I have sitting in my kitchen for roasts… score!

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I raised my sourdough starter for almost two weeks and at the end of last week finally dared and made the Everyday Sourdough Bread. It‘s the first bread recipe in this book, aka the beginner‘s loaf.

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And here it is, a little flat (I probably overproofed it), but with a crunchy crust and a mild, tangy flavour. Yay!

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I am pleased with this book and it’s hands-on, practical recipes and and step-by-step photographs. Recommended! I will continue to work my way through its recipes.

Short stuff

I recently got a bunch of free comics and just looked through them (my comiXology app is having kittens, as I downloaded so much) and picked two very short ones to read.

And I finally read that Charm of Magpies short story, that has been stuck on my TBR pile for a while…

Feast of Stephen (A Charm of Magpies, #3.5)
by K.J. Charles (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Finally read this and enjoyed it quite a bit. Very short, but for fans of the series worthwhile. Stephen seems to have gone through some interesting changes in the previous book. 

As I still haven‘t read Flight of Magpies, I had some gaps. I finally got a copy of that as well… 

So much for my attempt to reduce the height of my TBR pile.


Overwatch #1: Train Hopper
by Robert Brooks,  Blizzard EntertainmentBengal (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I got this very short 10-page freebie, because I liked the look of the cover.

It‘s too short for anything meaningful. McCree travels on a train, he looks like a cowboy and seems to be an outlaw of some kind. The setting is in the future. The train is attacked by some guys in full body armour, abseiling from helicopters at over 600 km/h. That‘s about it.

The artwork was ok.

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I don‘t feel the urge to continue with this.


Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #1
by Jody Houser (Goodreads Author),  Matthew MercerOlivia Samson (Artist), Msassyk (colorist), Ariana Maher (Letterer) 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Nice artwork, but next to no plot. And the plot that was there, was full of holes. Perhaps I am missing something to be able to appreciate this. It takes part in the middle of the series somewhere or might be a spin-off, so I am pretty sure I am missing a lot of backstory.

2020 Hugo Finalists, the short stories

Here is what I thought of the Best Short Story finalists…


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Set in colonial India, during the Bengal famine of 1943. A revenge story with a magical twist. The story is harrowing and shows the brutality of colonial rule. However, the telling of it didn‘t really do much for me.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“An alternate history short story looking at decisions and consequences, and what it takes to pull the trigger.“

I really liked this. What a barbaric idea, although I can see where they are coming from. Not a decision that should be taken lightly and that can be debated hotly.

Knocking off half a star, because I am somewhat unsatisfied with the abrupt and open ending. Still debating with myself, if I consider this special enough for an award? Does it really bring anything new to the table?

Pretty cover art.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

 A young girl, a slave in the South, is presented with a moment where she can grasp for freedom, for change, for life. She grabs it with both hands, fiercely and intensely, and the spirit world is shaken.

Odd. Very wordy, very bloody, with a faint touch of romance and hope at the end. The tale was unsettling and had no rewarding features for me. 


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Climate fic. About storms, wind, sisters and mothers. It went right over my head, couldn‘t get into it.


Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #270
(Beneath Ceaseless Skies #270)
by Scott H. Andrews (Editor)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

High fantasy, war, genderfluid characters. Death and blood and endless war. Loss, betrayal, hope.

Betrayal is a fearsome armor against love.

The world building was pretty good, but I did not connect with the characters. I liked the ending, although I did not really agree with the choices everyone made. It got me thinking though, so I can see why this is nominated for a Hugo.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I listened to the podcast on the Nightmare Magazine website. Very odd story. I am using the word story loosely here. To have a male narrator was an interesting choice. A story about colonialism.

From the author‘s website

Possibly the structurally weirdest thing I’ve ever written; it’s in the form of an MLA bibliography and it’s about colonialism in academia, monstrous appetites, and oh yes, lesbian cannibals.

Another one that went mostly over my head. While the structure of the narrative was clever and somewhat intriguing, it didn‘t really work for me. But that‘s on me.


So, that was all of the short story finalists for this year‘s Hugo Award. Not a great average for me this time around. Leaning strongly towards Fantasy—maybe that is the reason. I am more of SF and UF fan.

Which of these stories was your favourite?

Loosing humanity in increments…

The Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the Hunters
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another volume with a shocking beginning, same as the last one. When you think that things can‘t get any worse… they do. A lot.

Father Gabriel shows up in this one…

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Interesting discussion with Eugene on faith and science.

Nice frame of Andrea, doing what she does best:

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She has to deal with missed opportunities and second chances. This is a real tear jerker. 

Rick is not in a nice mood. Back to old form and to running things.

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Kirkman is certainly not afraid to tackle taboo subjects and even the „good guys“ are pretty monstrous. They definitely loose some of their humanity in this volume.

What would you be willing to do to survive?

2020 Hugo Award Finalists

I keep seeing reviews of HUGO nominated stories pop up allover, so I decided to finally have a look at this year‘s finalists for myself.

The complete list of the finalists for 2020 is here. I do not plan to read all of them, but I might have a look at some of the shorter works.

Here is what I have read so far:


Best Novel

A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)
by Arkady Martine

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It was easily one of my favourite novels of last year. You can call me ThirtyOne Adaptation!

My review is here.


Best Novelette

Emergency Skin
by N.K. Jemisin (Goodreads Author),  Jason Isaacs (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Entertaining. Subversive. Amusing. My first Jemisin. Maybe not my last. Hard to put down. The unusual POV was well done and increased my fun through coming up with the missing part of the conversation.

I listened to the audio. Jason Isaac did a great job with the narration. But I expected no less from him.


Best Series

The Expanse, by James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read all full novels of this series. Or rather, I listened to the excellent audio narration of all of them. I read some of the shorts/novellas as well, but I miss a few of those. If you like space opera, military SF, Star Trek and good adventure yarns, this might be for you. The TV adaptation is also very good. My personal preference and recommendation: Read the books first.

You can find my reviews for all of them here. You should start reading the series with this one:

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1)
by James S.A. Corey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another Best Series finalist is this one:

Luna: New Moon (Luna, #1)
by Ian McDonald

This first book of the series has been sitting on my TBR shelf since 2018. I suppose it‘s time that I actually read it!


Best Graphic Story or Comic

Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen
by Marjorie M. Liu (Goodreads Author),  Sana Takeda (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My review is here, however I strongly recommend that you start at the beginning, with Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening.


So, that is what I have read so far of this year‘s Hugo Finalists. As mentioned, I might have a go at the short stories and novelettes/novellas, I‘ll see!

Which of the Hugo finalists was your favourite so far?