My September 2021

Here is what I read in September:

Ancillary Sword ★★★★★ audio, Imperial Radch #2, re-read. I remembered most of this and this time around liked it better than #1. Loved Dlique and Tisarwat.
– Return to the Center of the Earth ★★★★☆ KU, sequel, re-tracing the steps of Jules Verne. Brain candy. Fun!
– Babylon’s Ashes ★★★★☆ audio, Expanse #6, re-read
– City of Bones ★★☆☆☆ ebook, dystopian fantasy by Martha Wells. Not enough sarcastic AIs. I liked parts of it a lot, but as a whole it didn‘t excite me. I pretty much skimmed through the second part, because I didn‘t care.

Poetry:
– “You’d Have Me Be White” by Alfonsina Storni, https://betterthanstarbucks.wixsite.c…, ★★★★★, feminist poetry, made me smile and nod my head…
– Scifaikuest Online, https://www.hiraethsffh.com/scifaikue…, ★★★★½, great SF haikus
– “Among the Scythians“, Deborah L. Davitt, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #49, August 1, 2021, ★★★☆☆, https://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.co…
– Horrific Punctuation, poetry, KU, DNF, my ebook was barely readable and the poetry too abstract.

Comics:
– The White Trees #1 ★★★★☆, KU, eComic, high fantasy, x-rated, ex-killer has to pick up his weapons again to save his family
– The White Trees #2 ★★★☆☆, eComic, not as good as the first issue

Return To The Center Of The Earth by Greig Beck Horrific Punctuation by John Reinhart Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6) by James S.A. Corey The White Trees #1 by Chip Zdarsky The White Trees #2 by Chip Zdarsky City of Bones by Martha Wells Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2) by Ann Leckie 

Currently reading:
– Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, ebook, #ReadBIPOC2021, TBR pile, Netgalley
– Tietjen auf Tour: Warum Camping mich glücklich macht, paperback, TBR pile
– Ancillary Mercy, audio, Imperial Radch #3, re-read

Planned, but lacking in motivation:
– Persepolis Rising, audio, Expanse #7, re-read
– Tiamat’s Wrath, audio, Expanse #8, re-read
I might abandon the plan to read those two and just jump to the new book…

Movie watched:
– Dune ★★★★★ — I considered deducting a star, because it‘s only „Part One“. I was pretty frustrated about that. The beginning took forever! Is Caladan supposed to be Caledonia, aka Scotland? Never really thought about that before. My first visit to a cinema since 2019! 

Overblown finale

The White Trees #2
by Chip Zdarsky,  Kris Anka (Cover Art) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Our MC Krylos is not having a good day. Who needs enemies with friends like that? 

The plot of this second issue was underwhelming. It felt as if the finale of the first issue had been blown up to justify a sequel, instead of tightening it up and making a satisfying one-issue story.

I liked the ending, but this was nowhere near as strong as the first part of the story. Good fight scenes, nice final thoughts. Good lineart and colouring. 

Not quite sure what to make of that final panel.

Horrible past, scary present

The White Trees #1
by Chip Zdarsky,  Kris Anka (Artist) 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Our MC has retired from being a hero and warrior, but has to pick up his weapons again, to save his family. High fantasy, swords, a dragon, cat-like humanoids, mentions of an epic war.

Interesting artwork. Coloured pencils and watercolours? Unusual perspectives.

Rating: graphic nudity, graphic sexual content

I already downloaded issue #2, RTC.

Top Ten Tuesday, counting to 10…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

 This week‘s topic / September 13: Books with numbers in the titles

Let‘s see if I manage from one to ten on my shelf of read books…

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)
by Ilona Andrews

I first read this as an online serial on Ilona Andrews’ website, which took most of 2016. I had fun reading the weekly bits and agonizing over them with my reading buddies. However, reading a finished book in one go is a more cohesive affair. It runs smoother, you can read as long as you want, no waiting for the next gripping bit. Also more editing and small improvements on various details. Plus a maturer rating.

“Look, it can be fast, good, or cheap. You can have any two but never all three.”

― Ilona Andrews, One Fell Sweep

Two Ravens and One Crow (The Iron Druid Chronicles #4.3)
by Kevin Hearne

You read that right. I purposefully did not pick The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien… 😜 Instead I picked a short story from The Iron Druid Chronicles. A fun series, if you manage to ignore that a 2000-year-old druid is this dumb and juvenile.

Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1)
by Kelly Meding

Great fun! I almost read it in a day. Our heroine is a bounty hunter for all things that go bump in the night. There are shapeshifters, vampires, bridge trolls, the fey… Nothing really unusual or terribly new, but an entertaining read nonetheless, if you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Carrie Vaughn.

The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume Four
by Chuck Dixon, Robert Jordan

Another attempt to make headway with this series. I got a very nice hardback edition. Starts with chapter 27 of the book, Shelter From the Storm, and ends with chapter 34 of the book, The Last Village.

Very close to the book. The artwork is nothing breath taking, but well done. Especially the cover gallery in the back has some very nice images.

This takes place roughly in the middle of The Eye of The World, which dragged for me. The pacing of the comic is not much different. I liked it, but it didn‘t tempt me to get another volume right away. If I saw some WoT comics in a second hand store at a reduced price, maybe…

Five Quarters of the Orange
by Joanne Harris

Framboise is running a creperie in a small village in rural France. She spent her childhood years during WWII in this village, but nobody knows that. She now lives under another name, to protect a dark secret in her past. One day her nephew and his wife appear at her doorstep, to ask for the use of her name and recipes. When she refuses – to protect her true identity – she quickly realises that they will stop at nothing to get those recipes. But she is not easily defeated. And while she struggles against her nephew, she tells us her story….. Very good book, recommended! Great storytelling.

Rainbow Six (Jack Ryan Universe, #10)
by Tom Clancy

Unusual, as it is one of the rare books where Jack Ryan is not the main character. John Clark is not as black and white and makes for an interesting character. There is the usual body count and a lot of gadgets, all in all a solid thriller.

Sherlock Holmes: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
by David Tipton,  Scott Tipton,  Ron Joseph (Illustrations) 

I have the seen the movie several times, it is one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes movies. 

This is a very close retelling of the story. The dramtic chase and the big reveal of Holmes’ secret at the end are well done, as well as the artwork. An enjoyable read and a surprising take on the life of the great detective. Sherlock Holmes fans should not miss this.

Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels with a Mule from Ecuador to Cuzco
by Dervla Murphy

I really wanted to like this, but after spending ages getting past the first 50 pages I decided to give up. The great thing about travel literature is the things that happen on the way. But as far as I got, the main thing was going up the mountain, over the mountain, down the mountain…. And I did not think the descriptions of the most likely stunning scenery were very good either. Very disappointing.

Nine Last Days on Planet Earth
by Daryl Gregory

Free short story on Tor.com.

“When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely.“

https://www.tor.com/2018/09/19/nine-last-days-on-planet-earth-daryl-gregory/

I‘m Groot! Interesting. I liked it, fascinating take on evolution and alien invasion, great character development. I felt with LT and almost cried with him at the end. Not sure if I am a fan of that quasi open ending. 

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That Will Improve and/or Ruin Everything
by Kelly Weinersmith,  Zach Weinersmith

My NetGalley version only consisted of the introduction and the first two chapters: How to get into space cheaply and asteroid mining. Once I realized that, I mostly skimmed and just perused a bit here and there.

Entertaining, amusing style, that borders on slightly silly. Amusing, very simple comic strips—I recommend reading the ebook version on something that allows colour. Easy to understand explanations of complex topics. Space elevators, reusable rockets, Elon Musk and the odd Star Trek joke make an appearance.

It‘s ok, if you are looking for something light to flick through, when you have a few minutes to spare. Coffee table reading, mostly decorative.

Birthright?

Birthright #1
by Joshua Williamson,  Andrei Bressan (Illustrator),  Adriano Lucas (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The first issue of this series came for free. There are 50 (!) single issues as of June 2021. That seems to be the end of it though. 

Magical journey of a boy disappearing from the park, where he was playing catch with his dad. 

Portal fantasy with a bit of a World of Warcraft look. Turns out he is The Chosen One. Beings from a mystical realm are trying to save the world, potentially with the help of a small boy. Naturally, there is an unexpected twist at the end. On the other end of the story is the boy‘s family and what his loss is doing to them.

Solid start to a very long-looking series. Nothing outstanding or truly surprising in the first issue, with the exception of that small cliffhanger at the end. The artwork is ok. I took some peeks at later issues and I am pretty sure the story develops nicely. 

Will I continue with this series? Not right now. 
Would I buy it for a friend or recommend it? Yes, quite likely, it was nice enough.

Where IS Shakespeare?

Kill Shakespeare Volume 1 by Conor McCreery,  Anthony Del ColAndy Belanger

Rating: 2 out of 5.

What Fables does for fairy tales, Kill Shakespeare does with the greatest writer of all time. This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare.

Book blurb

I have been eyeing Fables for a while. This blurb has me worried about it.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not quite dead yet… I expected this to be a ploy about killing Shakespeare. Instead, we delve into Hamlet…

And then—surprise!—we switch to a different play. And several others after that. 

And that ploy materialized after all. However, at the end of Chapter One I was not terribly interested in the story. I put it aside and felt no urge to pick it up again, then read a bit more and skimmed myself through most of Chapter Two. Nope. Not for me. Boring. DNF at 40%.

The artwork is nothing special, just ok. I was not enamored with the way many of the female characters were drawn.

From Rosewater to Watchmen…

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1) by Tade Thompson

“She pours two black coffees into identical mugs that sport yellow smiley faces with a linear red smudge at the eleven o’clock position.“

page 42  14.09% 

I know that one! Read the comic and saw the movie…

Watchmen by Alan Moore,  Dave Gibbons

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Full review of that one is here… Not really a winner for me. I might have liked the movie a little better.

I came past other things that hinted at something. Some of them I recognized, others I didn‘t. Thompson added quite a few goodies like that…

Netgalley said yes…

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories (Paperback)
by Kel McDonald

Middle Grade is not something I read a lot, I am pretty set on adult fiction. But this looked good. It‘s an anthology, so I will read this in installments. I am reading so many things at the same time right now, it‘s a little silly. Never mind. I will post updates, as I make my way through this…

Tabi po, A Filipino Story, by Iole Marie Rabor

This one is about paying respect to Philippine folkloric spirits and taking that home to another place. Nicely done, very short. The artwork is very simple black and white lines.

Pele and Poliahu, A Tale of Fire and Ice, by DJ Keawekane

Hawaiian story about a sled race down a mountain. That is the superficial part of it anyway, but anything else would give away too much. A little heavy on the explaining.

The Dancing Princess by Mariel Maranan

Philippines again, this time with a Muslim character. Two girls on an excursion, talking options and meeting mysterious figures. The story was a little allover the place.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Horrible Barn

Gideon Falls, Vol. 1: The Black Barn
by Jeff Lemire,  Andrea Sorrentino (Illustrator),  Dave Stewart (Illustrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was excellent. I liked the artwork very much. Some very unusual page layouts, visually different. Really good story telling. Horror elements that reminded me of Stephen King. Very ominous and creepy. I will definitely look up more works by Sorrentino. Old Man Logan has been on my radar for a while anyway.

My chapter reviews are somewhat spoilerish, I give away some minor plot points. You have been warned.

Issue #1 – We start off with two storylines. There is Norton, a former mental patient, obsessively collecting waste allover town and cataloguing it. And there is Father Fred, a priest, arriving at his new parish, Gideon Falls.

They are both being led to the same target, the Black Barn.

Issue #2 – so far the story is good. Ominous. The artwork is different. It looks a bit like a coloured lithography.

Father Fred, aka Wilfred, is in a spot of trouble. There have been some murders and he is a person of interest.

And it looks as if nobody, who knows about the Black Barn, is safe.

Issue #3 – Norton inadvertently pulls his psychologist into the story and into danger.

Father Fred settles into life at Gideon Falls and holds his first mass. He meets most of his parishioners and the members of town, including the more unusual ones. Some pretty interesting artwork…

Issue #4 – the unusual page layouts keep on coming. Father Frank keeps on finding out more about the history of Gideon Falls.

Issue #5 – pretty cool artwork. I especially like the different styles between Norton‘s and Father Fred‘s story. 

Issue #6 – ok, then. The climax, the barn, partial resolution, a start into the next volume…