The magic ships go a little mad…

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)
by Robin Hobb 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Just as good as the first book. Paragon‘s story really takes off. There are some interesting things happening with Reyn and Malta as well. 

Malta evolves from spoilt girl to a more mature person. I did not really buy this change of personality or maturing, it was a bit abrupt. She was an annoying brat and then she was not, from one chapter to the next. It did work out in the end and I really liked her last chapter, where she really comes into herself. I still don‘t like her though.

Kennit is just too enamored with himself. At the end he seems to feel something for Wintrow, maybe because he sees something of himself in him. Other than that he is a nasty piece of work. 

Wintrow takes something of a backseat here, compared to Ship of Magic. Althea is still the best developed character. I am still not sure if I like Brashen. Anyway, many great characters, lots of great developments.

The serpents become very interesting here as well, compared to Ship of Magic, where they felt like superfluous interludes. And the ending was excellent. Great action sequence.

I liked the settings. Divvytown was memorable and I loved Treehaug and the Rain Wilds.

I am really tempted to continue to the last book of this trilogy right away, but I will take a break first… maybe. 5 stars!

PS: Goodness me, it took me two months, with lots of other books in between, to make it through these 900 pages.

Sloan McPherson, Pirate Cop.

The Girl Beneath the Sea (Underwater Investigation Unit, #1)
by Andrew Mayne (Author), Susannah Jones (Narrator)

New to me author that I picked up because of the glowing reviews of a goddreads friend, along the lines of „guilty pleasure“. My usual brain candy is romance or creature feature horrors, but why not! Added bonus: the main character, aka the titular girl beneath the sea, is a scuba-diving police officer in South Florida, dipping underwater for fornsic reasons. I love all things underwater.

Ok, so she goes diving and finds a corpse that has practically been murdered and tossed in the water while our MC was down there. Her dad is a treasure hunter and her uncle is in jail for drug trafficking, so naturally she comes under suspicion right away. To save herself and solve the case, she has to team up with the police officer that arrested her uncle and wrecked her youth. What else could go wrong?

Nothing special, but entertaining enough for a long trip by train. I might even be tempted to pick up the next one in the series.

Crime Noir meets Moon Knight, slasher style…

The Bottom (Moon Knight, #1)
by Charlie HustonDavid Finch (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a much grimmer Moon Knight than the version by Jeff Lemire. That one was lighter, entertaining action. Here the world is darker and much grimmer. Moon Knight has lost a fight, was badly injured and ceased being a hero. The title seems to indicated where Marc Spector is at the beginning of this comic—the bottom. 

The artwork is darker as well, with a very plastic look. Which I like. Although we are a bit over the top anatomically and occasionally slightly off with the proportions. Which I don‘t like. The look of that first villain is also pretty creepy. So quite a different kettle of fish to Jeff Lemire‘s Lunatic. Violent and bloody.

Chapter #1 shows us Moon Knight in his prime and then Marc Spector at the bottom…

Chapter #2 shows us how he got there. He is badly injured in a fight and gives himself up. Lost faith, maybe? In Konshu and/or himself?

Frenchie, Marlene and Crawley make an appearance, so I guess they are recurring characters.

We get some backstory, mixed with Spector struggling away from that bottom. Well told. Oh, and there seems to be a Batcave-type deal…

I have never read anything by Charlie Huston. I might take a look at Already Dead. Crime Noir with vampires in New York sounds tempting. 

This was good, in quite a different way to Jeff Lemire. Collects issues #1-6. Onwards to volume 2.

Dewey’s October 2022 READER Sign-Ups

And the next Dewey‘s Readathon is just around the corner. I signed up. And as usually I do not know how much I will actually read. My current plans for October:

– BR Redshirts, ebook, owned. I‘ve been meaning to read this for quite a while.
– BR Polaris Rising, ebook. New to me author.
– StoryGraph #2 Komisch, alles chemisch!, paper, non-fiction. Not sure I want to read this.
– BR Chosen, ebook. Ongoing series.
– BR Ship of Destiny, paper. Doorstopper number 3 in this trilogy.
– BR Memnoch the Devil, paper. High likelihood of getting dumped, as I didn‘t like the Body Thief anymore.
– NG Into the Riverlands, ebook. Thank you, Netgalley! Ongoing series. Or #3 of a trilogy? Not quite sure.

BR = buddy read. Yes, I am overcommitted and reading too many buddy reads. Maybe next year will be my year of mood reading and the diminishing of my existing TBR pile.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Welcome, welcome one and all! The October 22, 2022 Readathon is coming up fast, and we would LOOOOVE for you to join us! Can’t read the whole day? No big deal! Make this Readathon your own with as little or as much reading as you want! We’re just happy to have you along for a celebration of books.



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Egypt, the Moon and Beyond… This is nuts!

Lunatic (Moon Knight, #1)
by Jeff LemireGreg Smallwood (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Yes, I‘ve seen the mini series on Disney+ in June 2022. This is what I wrote in my June Wrap-up: S1, Not bad, but a lot silly. ★★★½☆

And yes again, that‘s why I got this comic. Everybody seemed to read it after watching the TV adaptation. To be honest, my days of superheroes seem to be a thing of the past. So, uphill struggle! On the plus side, I am a Lemire fan. I loved the Descender/Ascender comics.

Ok then, let‘s start… in Egypt! Which is a location in the TV series as well. Excuse my ignorance, if fans of the series are rolling their eyes now, in case this is a doozy. Never read any of the comics before!


Then we go off on a weird tangent… Bertrand Crawley, anybody? *shrugs* 


Oh, hold on, we are in a hospital in the TV series as well, right? Here we start with it though.

What is real, Egypt or the hospital? Marc Spector doesn‘t know. We don‘t either. He seems to have been institutionalized since he was 12 years old… or maybe not? Time to find out, with a little help… or maybe it doesn‘t actually matter, what is real?


Good sense of humour, good pacing, likable characters, well plotted. 

Unexpected ending to issue #4! And then it really got wacky in issue #5! Wut? Cool 2-page spread! Nice artwork! Surprising change in style. And then again… and again… huh? Rollercoaster ride!

I really like the different technique used to portrait Konshu. Too bad I don‘t like the guy. I was gonna say Nice Finish! And then I was screwed again. What on Earth were they smoking when they did issue #5? The heck? I am so confused! That was bloody brilliant. Is there another volume? 

Collecting Moon Knight (2016-2017) Issues #1-5.

Review with a spoiler

The Tale of the Body Thief (The Vampire Chronicles, #4)
by Anne Rice

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Ok, this review contains two big spoilers. So if you still want to read this book and do not want to be spoiled, navigate away from this page now, please! On the count of …..

3….

2….

1….

Re-read. Lestat is turned back to human by swapping bodies, stupidly assuming that he can switch back after trying it out. Obviously, the other guy decides to keep Lestat’s body, powers and riches. D-oh. The rest of the book is Lestat trying to get his body back. No, that is not the main spoiler.

I read roughly 270 pages with some light skimming (a little under halfway, 45%). There were some scenes I remembered fondly, namely the part in the Gobi desert—which I had attributed to another part of the series. But overall, it felt dated and lacked tension. Knowing the plot wasn‘t helping, obviously. Too much detail, repetitive bla-bla and over exposition of almost everything. I skimmed quite a bit to get to the body swapping part, but was willing to plod on.

Then the rape happened—I had no recollection of that scene from previous reads. Or maybe I didn‘t understand and didn’t consider it rape before—it has been several decades since I read this last. That scene pretty much killed the book for me. I read on for a little bit, then put the book down with the plan to pick it up again at a later date. It‘s been sitting there for a month, looking at me and I feel absolutely no compunction to pick it up again.

Knowing that Lestat will end up turning David against his will, another sort of rape, didn‘t entice me to continue either. Lestat has no impulse control and no concept of what he is doing. I am not sure how intentional this presentation was from Rice. The rape of the waitress was pretty arbitrary and the point could have been driven home for Lestat without committing it. Or he could have actually felt and shown some guilt for what he clearly understood to have done. The callousness really bothered me. 

Besides that, I was bored with the tone and endless navel-gazing and lost all interest in continuing. I can‘t even be bothered to skim my way to the end. I have the next two books of this on my shelf. I am not sure if I want to continue. At this point I am considering to dump them and call it for this series, I‘ll see.

AIs underwater and Avatars in trees…

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

I will update this anthology as I go along…

TEST 4 ECHO by Peter Watts

Six days before the money ran out, Enceladus kicked Medusa right in the ass.

Onboard thermistors registered a sudden spike—80°, 90°, 120°—before the seabed jumped and something slammed the probe from the side. A momentary flash. An ocean impossibly boiling. A rocky seabed, tilting as if some angry giant had kicked over a table.

Beginning of the story

You can tell that Watts is a zoologist and marine-mammal biologist. I really have to get back to reading all his stuff, although it usually does a number on my brain. I have to confess that I only have a vague idea of what happened in this story, but it was good regardless. AI and illegal propagation? ★★★★☆

Can be read for free here

UMA by Ken Liu

“A Utility Maintenance Avatar is vaguely humanoid, but only about three feet tall fully stretched out and no more than fifty pounds in weight.“

Our hero piggy-backs one of those to save some people… This one was fun! Very fluently written, it really pulled you in right away. ★★★★★

Can be read for free here — please follow the link to look at the illustration accompanying the story. I love it. A small part of it is shared at the top. Initially I had it uploaded fully here as well, but I was unsure how the illustrator feels about sharing, I couldn‘t see any info about it. So I took it down again. .

I really enjoyed all of Ken Liu‘s short stories so far, much more than the one novel I tried to read, The Grace of KIngs.

Inside out

Eversion
by Alastair Reynolds

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the 1800s, a sailing ship crashes off the coast of Norway. In the 1900s, a Zepellin explores an icy canyon in Antarctica. In the far future, a spaceship sets out for an alien artifact. Each excursion goes horribly wrong. And on every journey, Dr. Silas Coade is the physician, but only Silas seems to realize that these events keep repeating themselves. And it’s up to him to figure out why and how. And how to stop it all from happening again.

From the book blurb

I read the book blurb, took a good look at the cover (blue version) and googled Eversion, which led me to watch animations of what sphere eversion could look like. Other than I tried to stay away from spoilers (this is me, going over my review again, shortening and „de-spoilering“ it…).

The story is quite odd, actually. It feels a bit like those idle games for smart phones, where you have to destroy your current evolution of the game in order to progress to the next level. Silas keeps figuring things out slowly and a little further with each progressive step of the plot. It‘s a neat way to create suspense. 

I am surprised that this book hasn‘t been shelved as horror. I found it quite claustrophobic and not a little creepy. It has been tagged as Space Opera though, which I don‘t think applies. Gothic steampunk time-travel space-exploration mystery?

I would have liked to connect more deeply with Silas on his journey of (self-)discovery. His ethical dilemma was well-done, but could have been… just more? Funny, I never thought I would turn into a reader wanting more character development.

Very good audio narration.

What I have read so far by Reynolds, I liked. I am going about it quite haphazardly though. Perhaps I should have a closer look at his back catalogue and make an attempt at a more coordinated reading experience. 

Read so far by Reynolds, both 5-star reads:
The Prefect (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1)
Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon’s Children, #1)

On my shelf, to be read:
Permafrost
Revenger (Revenger, #1) 

Banned Books Week (September 18-24, 2022)

I don‘t usually follow Banned Books Week. I know it exists, but it doesn‘t have a lot of immediate relevance for me here in Germany. Still, my mind boggles over this every year. Awareness is important. So, here you go, the current top ten. The content below the banner is copy-and-past, links to the original pages are below the texts.

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned

Top 10 Most Challenged Books Lists

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2021. Of the 1597 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
  2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
  8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
  9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.
  10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. 

https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10

Currently reading…

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)
by Robin Hobb

I started this doorstopper beginning of August, but took a lot of breaks to read other things in between. I enjoyed the first book, Ship of Magic, and also posted about Mad Ship already towards the end of August. A lot of interesting things have happened since my last post, so I think I will attempt to finish this now without any more breaks.

Eversion
by Alastair Reynolds

This is my current audiobook, I am about halfway here as well.

In the 1800s, a sailing ship crashes off the coast of Norway. In the 1900s, a Zepellin explores an icy canyon in Antarctica. In the far future, a spaceship sets out for an alien artifact. Each excursion goes horribly wrong. And on every journey, Dr. Silas Coade is the physician, but only Silas seems to realize that these events keep repeating themselves. And it’s up to him to figure out why and how. And how to stop it all from happening again.

From the book blurb

What I have read so far by Reynolds, I liked. I am going about it quite haphazardly. Perhaps I should have a closer look at his back catalogue and make an attempt at a more coordinated reading experience. I am assuming this one here is a standalone, but I haven‘t really checked. Quite odd, actually. It feels a bit like those idle games for smart phones, where you have to destroy your current evolution of the game in order to progress to the next level. I am about to launch myself into space.

Read so far by Reynolds, both 5-star reads:

The Prefect (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1)

Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon’s Children, #1)

On my shelf, to be read:

Permafrost

Revenger (Revenger, #1)