Top Ten Tuesday, the Mardi Gras edition

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: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers (in honor of Mardi Gras)

Purple-ish backlog…

The Killing Dance (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #6)
by Laurell K. Hamilton

Finally there is a resolution to the dating drama. Werewolf or vampire? I think a threesome would have been a nice outcome! But no, instead we are having big relationship troubles and jealousy. We’ll see how that’ll work out. Very hot sex scene. I will never look at my bathtub the same way again.


Once Bitten, Twice Shy
by Christina Courtenay

Cute story, although one wonders how often one woman can be kidnapped over the course of two-hundred pages. Pretty silly plot twists and I agree with other reviewers that the story bordered on the ridiculous side. Most of the side characters were so over the top, they were more like caricatures than anything else, with the impulse control and common sense of five year olds. And the ending left me pretty unsatisfied.


Marry in Haste
by Christina Courtenay

Silly, shallow and entertaining. Nice, mindless brain candy. Marriage of convenience well done.


Yellow-ish backlog…

Monday Mourning (Temperance Brennan, #7)
by Kathy Reichs

Her 7th book. The first 4 were brilliant. By no. 7 the the excitement has gone. Perhaps I got too used to the character. Or the storylines are really not as suspenseful anymore. I am not sure. My interest lasted longer than with Patricia Cornwell though.


The Blessing Stone
by Barbara Wood

Several short stories, loosely connected by the wanderings of the Blessing Stone through the ages. I liked the earlier stories, but the further on we got in history, the more boring I found the stories. Towards the end I was skimming quite a bit. I did finish, but I was pretty under-whelmed.


The Walking Dead #1
by Robert Kirkman

At first I was a bit confused, because Rick doesn’t look like Rick. And then I wanted to smack myself, because the comic came before the TV series.

I really like the black-white-and-grey pencil work. Minimalistic, but great in telling the story. Very good artwork. By now I made it to volume 15…


The Leopard Prince (Princes Trilogy, #2)
by Elizabeth Hoyt

After the carriage wreck and a bit before the horses ran away, Lady Georgina Maitland noticed that her land steward was a man.

First sentence

Decent world-building, the first few pages had me giggling immediately. Good backstory, interwoven well with the main plot. The evil landowner is very evil indeed. The main characters are colourful and well drawn. Georgina and Harry are likeable and believable. For a historical romance the usual tropes are fairly mild and not too annoying. Sexy times are sexy. Surprisingly good plot. Not terribly suspenseful, although I had a few “Oh no!”-moments. 


Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)
by Kim Harrison

This book was boring and the main character was not interesting. Potential for great world building, but it was not happening. The narrative was flat, not funny and sloooooow and I have the sneaking suspicion that Rachel is really stupid, not just clumsy. Jenks was the only redeeming factor. The relationship with Ivy really ticked me off. It was a major struggle to finish this book and I doubt it very much that I will pick up another book of this series.


The Painter
by Will Davenport

The first paragraph made me smile. Unexpected opening. An interesting read. I thought the end was a bit rushed. Very funny in parts – I nearly peed myself when I read the passage with Rembrandt’s smelly shoe… Rembrandt’s character was really well developped and very plausible.


Green-ish backlog…

Throne of Jade (Temeraire, #2)
by Naomi Novik

Patrick O’Brien meets Anne McCaffrey. This picks up right where the first book ended. Old-fashioned feel to it, meshes well with other period-dramas I have read of that time. The naval jargon sounds true. Excellent world-building, great scenic descriptions. Good fight and battle scenes. Great travel narrative. However, there can be too much of a good thing. So much detail all the time got a bit boring and I did some skimming to get to the more action-packed bits faster. Those were always excellent.

The plot as such was good, but there were no great surprises. The characters were all pretty formulaic and stereotypical. None of them went through any noteworthy growing pains. I never managed to develop an emotional attachment to Laurence or Temeraire. And all other charaters were merely decorative anyway.

I read through the blurbs of all consecutive novels and quite a few of the reviews. Each book seems to be covering another continent and in at least every other book Laurence seems to be threatened with court-martial and an excecution. Sounds a bit tedious. 


A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, #1)
by Sue Grafton

The first one of this very good crime series. Short and sweet. I keep picturing Holly Hunter in the title role. I even figured out who-dunnit for once, and why! Well, ok, only about half way through the book.

I eventually read 10 books of this series, mostly out of order. Not bad as a whole!


One For The Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)
by Janet Evanovich

Pretty entertaining, but it did not rock my boat. I never continued with the series.


Freya of the Seven Isles
by Joseph Conrad

I liked the prose, the characters were vivid and the setting was great. For someone whose first or second language was not English, Conrad wrote in it beautifully. I am not a big fan of using letters as a plot device to bring the narrative forward, but other than that I enjoyed this story very much, despite the tragic ending.


Mortal Sins (World of the Lupi, #5)
by Eileen Wilks

The story centered around Lily and Rule, it is set in the here and now, werewolves play a large part of it and the plot that developed in Blood Lines is picked up again. It’s a cop story with shapeshifters, ghosts and magic. I liked the new characters, especially the cops and FBI agents. A nice addition to Wilks’ world.


Immersed (The Clockwork Siren, #1)
by Katie Hayoz

Well written, vivid imagery, enticing main character, good backstory, well-paced, not too predictable. I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, so I can’t say if the setting worked for that. I liked it. The world building was great, I was transported there right away, down to the muck squelching in my boots. I would wish for more details on the automatons, to flesh out the imagery. Nice touch of explaining a little bit about Chicago before the start of the story.

Small set of characters, likeable, believable, nobody is silly or too stupid to live… I am not into mermaids as a rule, but here they were nicely evil and not the too sweet Disney version. Dark mermaids and Steampunk, I could do more of that!


Ok, Top Fifteen Wednesday — I got carried away! It was really hard to find purple covers on my shelf!

Six degrees of separation — From a redhead to a girl with a tattoo…

Welcome to #6Degrees. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I am using this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here.

How the meme works and how you can join is explained here. The initial blog post about this month‘s choice is here.

From “Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler to…?

We start with Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler, which — again! — I haven‘t read. The only book by the author I have ever read: The Accidental Tourist. However, this was before the time I tracked my reading or posted any reviews, aka in the previous millennium. 1989 or 1990, after seeing and liking the movie adaptation…? I think it might have been a DNF or something I did not enjoy particularly. Which is neither here nor there for the purpose of this meme. So, anyway, Redheads… none to be found on my list of read books. However…

Micah Mortimer is a creature of habit. 

Blurb of Redhead by the Side of the Road

First degree: There is a Micah in my reading past…

Micah (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #13)
by Laurell K. Hamilton (Goodreads Author) 

Read in 2007 What can I say, this is definitely not literary fiction. There is some very good Urban Fantasy out there, but at this time in the universe of Laurell K. Hamilton, this was already moving into the direction of too little plot and too much sex. Still entertaining. I lasted up to and including the 20th book of this series. This year #28 will be published. Oh well.

“RAISING THE DEAD IS EASY. LOVE IS HARD…”

From the blurb of Micah

Second degree: The first „Dead“ on my read-list is…

Dead Souls (Inspector Rebus, #10)
by Ian Rankin (Goodreads Author) 

I read this in 2007, completely out of order, aka it‘s the only book of the series I have actually read. My parents spent most of last year reading the whole thing and love the series. I enjoyed the book back then and liked Rebus. He is a very well-drawn character, if a little depressing. The story was believable, there was enough suspense to keep me going and the ending did not offer any idiotic and off-the-wall plot twists making me go “Yeah, right, whatever!” Did not keep me up at night, but was a very good read.

Another series that my mum loved fiercely is J.D. Robb‘s In Death. And because she asked me to, I read the first book of the series…

Third degree: Another series loved by my mother…

Naked in Death (In Death #1)
by J.D. Robb

Read in 2016. Fairly stereotypical police procedural, with some futuristic gadgets and a love interest who is, at first, a suspect, as well as tall, dark, mysterious and the common alpha male of romance novels. I think the correct label is romantic suspense. The first book in the very successful In Death series by The Nora.

I did not really like the relationship much at first between Eve and Roarke. He definitely had problems accepting her wishes, which bugged me. If you do not mind his consent issues, he’s fine as a romance MC. 

The world building could have been better. The gadgets and some futuristic concepts were not explained, so if they weren’t self-expalantory, you were left to guess. However, they only play a very small part in the story. If you want to read sci-fi with suspense, hands off this book.

This is mostly told from Eve’s view, third person. There is the odd change of POV, mostly to Roarke and sometimes to others. These changes are not well done and jarred me every time. It could be the formatting (or lack thereof), the various protagonists do all sound exactly the same as well, though.

The mystery wasn’t very gripping and, at least from the second half onwards, pretty predictable. The romance and sex were not graphic. It was ok.

Fourth degree: J.D. Robb is Nora Roberts…

Three Fates
by Nora Roberts

Read in 2004, it was great fun! Roberts gives us low-brain-power entertainment, but with wit and a lot of humour, without getting too sloppy on the romance side of things.

This is what the story is about: Three siblings embark on a quest to re-unite 3 parts of a mythical statue. They are not sure that it even exists, but they are determined to find out and try. From Ireland they travel to Eastern Europe, Helsinki, New York, to follow clues and find romance, adventure and a deadly enemy…

When the Lusitania sank, one survivor became a changed man, giving up his life as a petty thief—

From the blurb of Three Fates

Fifth degree: From a thief of statues to a smoke thief…

The Smoke Thief (Drakon, #1)
by Shana Abe

Read in 2007. Cute little romance with shapeshifting dragons and a jewel thief, set in a past London. The hero looks great, the heroine is all woman, beautiful and just independent enough not to be a dunce, opposition is feeble and success and a happy ending are guaranteed. Utterly predictable and no big surprises, but nice brain candy.

And finally, on the topic of dragons…

Sixth degree: From shapeshifting dragons to a dragon tattoo…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)
by Stieg Larsson,  Reg Keeland (Translator)

Read in 2010. It was off to a slow, but not uninteresting start. Around page 200 I got a bit fed-up with the huge amount of details and the never ending repetition of all the facts and family connections. I skimmed for a while until the action picked up again and from that point onwards I could not put it down anymore. It was great, full of suspense and I loved it. I wish the first 200 pages could have been like the rest of the book.

There you are, a very arbitrary list this time around.

All revealed in the end…

Revelation (Matthew Shardlake, #4)
by C.J. Sansom

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The high chandeliers in the Great Hall of Lincoln’s Inn were ablaze with candles, for it was late afternoon when the play began. Most members of Lincoln’s Inn were present, the barristers in their robes and their wives in their best costumes. After an hour standing watching, my back was starting to ache, and I envied the few elderly and infirm members who had brought stools.

First paragraph

No idea whodunnit until shortly before the end. I am useless like that. I rarely figure out who the murderer is, unless it is really, really obvious… This had been sitting on my shelf for several years and the previous books were even further in the past. My taste has changed, as it does every few years. I rarely read mysteries or historical fiction. I was really concerned that this would bore me. Alas, I liked it a lot! Slow, with a nice amount of exposition. Good character descriptions, with well developed personalities. Historically pretty sound, as far as I can tell. Very homogenous. Full of suspense towards the end, could not put it down anymore.

The murders are gruesome and reminiscent of a famous 90s movie. With the context of Henry VIII, his dissolution of the monasteries and the religious upheaval of that time it works well. I also liked the side story of Shardlake‘s law case and his budding interest in Dorothy. Possibilities!

Bottomline, a very good book. I will definitely continue with the series.


Thoughts and mini-research:

Are serial killers a new development of the 20th century or did they always exist? I give you this list… Breaking the perpetrators by the wheel, quartering, beheading and burning at the stake seem to have been popular punishments. Gruesome.

What I do wonder about though is the discussion and exploration of medicine and especially psychology. Is that something that would have happened in the 16th century? Apparently it could have, I found this gentleman.

I also googled Westminster Abbey, its chapterhouse and the Book of Revelations. I could not find really satisfying representation of those panels, but here are some hints.

And Revelations 16 — don‘t peak, until you are certain why I am posting the link…

Playlist:
– Revelations, Audioslave
– Supermassive Black Hole, Muse
– Revelations, Judas Priest
– Bedlam, Michael Graves

Historical backlog

In the 2000s I read the first two Shardlake books, followed by book 3 in 2011.

The Shardlake series is a series of historical mystery novels by C. J. Sansom, set in the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century. The series’ protagonist is the hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake, […]. Shardlake works on commission initially from Thomas Cromwell in Dissolution and Dark Fire, Archbishop Thomas Crannmer in Sovereign and Revelation, and Queen Catherine Parr in Heartstone and Lamentation. The seventh book, Tombland, was published in October 2018.

Wikipedia

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1)
by C.J. Sansom

This is the first one of the Matthew Shardlake books. It was very, very good! Good suspense, pretty gory, I kept going “Ewwww!” Sansom likes to be descriptive and he does it well. Not only for yucky, violent moments, but also descriptions of characters, smells, sounds, sights and situations. Very good.

Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake, #2)
by C.J. Sansom

Pretty solid historical crime novel. Very atmospheric. I wonder how anybody ever managed to live in London long enough for it to develop into my favourite city on the planet. The stink and disgusting sights described are priceless. The crime story was sufficiently tricky for me not to guess who-dunnit until the end. Every now and then it got a bit tedious, reading about Shardlake riding from one interview to the next interview to the next interview to the next interview…. Did I mention that he was riding around London a lot? And across it? And along it. And…. you get the picture.

Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake, #3)
by C.J. Sansom

Mysterious things are afoot in the town of York. A conspiracy of major proportions is tucked away somewhere. 

As usual with Sansom, the story is alive with the sounds and smells of Tudor England. Descriptions are excellent. It’s easy to get immersed into his world, you can almost feel, taste and especially smell it.

We walked to Stonegate as the sun rose up and the city came to life, keeping under the eaves as people opened their windows and threw the night’s piss into the streets.

Page 122 of my edition

There is a surprising amount of swearing going on for historical novels.

When I read his books, it always makes me sad to contemplate how many beautiful things Henry VIII destroyed with his dissolution.

I keep jumping back to the computer to read up on historic events and characters mentioned in the books, it’s always a very educational experience for me.

The whole question of succession regarding Richard III, the princes in the tower and the War of the Roses has always confused me a lot and now I get something else confusing thrown into the mix.

The last 200 pages dragged on a bit for me. At times Sansom’s books seem to be a little too cosy, until the next twist hits you and the plot moves back to nail biting suspense.


And although I rated these novels between 4 and 5 stars, I never continued the series. I wasn‘t in the mood anymore for historical crime novels. Book 4, Revelation by C.J. Sansom, has been sitting on my shelf since 2015. One of my personal challenges for this year is to tackle my TBR pile. So, maybe this year, let‘s see if I still like Shardlake!

Lunchmeat Junkie

Leberkäsjunkie (Franz Eberhofer, #7)
by Rita Falk,  Christian Tramitz (Narrator) 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I got to know author Rita Falk through the German movie adaptations of her series. I like those, so I picked up the audio of this one at my library. One big advantage of the original, German audiobook version is listening to the Bavarian dialect. I haven‘t read the books and don‘t know if speech is written in dialect as well, but I assume so. How this would translate into English, I don‘t know. 

The narrator is a Bavarian actor who I know from other TV shows. He does a very good job and initially I even thought he was the one portraying the main character of this series.

Here is a link to the webpage of the author and her main protagonist (German only). No, German police cars do not usually look this old and quaint. Eberhofer is weird and drives an oldtimer… https://franz-eberhofer.de

What is it all about?

After Franz Eberhofer had to quit his job with the Munich police and was transferred to his home village of Niederkaltenkirchen in Lower Bavaria, he takes it easy with his duties as local law enforcement. His patrols always take him to the village pub for a beer or to his deaf grandmother’s kitchen table. But sometimes Franz also has to investigate rather gruesome deaths.

This is the 7th case. Difficult times for Eberhofer, Franz: his cholesterol levels are as high as his mood is low. Instead of food orgies with grandma, there is only healthy food on the plate. On top of that, his baby-mama stresses him out with out with extremely organized visits for Franz Junior. And as if that weren’t enough, Franz is now facing the most difficult case of his investigative career: a burnt corpse in a guest room at Mooshammer‘s, smeared with fire paste and mutilated beyond recognition. Everything indicates that the murderer comes from Niederkaltenkirchen…
 (rough translation of the German book blurb)

What is Leberkäs, you ask? Have a look at the book cover. It‘s a lunch meat from Southern Germany. It usually comes with a bun and mustard. Essential food item besides beer! Here‘s the Wiki for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leberkäse

The reviews for this 7th Eberhofer case are relatively bad. Can‘t say yay or nay, as I haven‘t read any of the others.

What did I think?

The movies are funnier. The story moves along really slowly. After two hours of audio not much sleuthing has happened.

The only black character is a walking clichée, which doesn‘t make this a winner and is embarrassing. Hard to say if the other characters are done well, as I already know them from the movies. They are little more than caricatures.

Another one and a half hours of audio and some change and still nothing much has happened.

In the meantime I have watched the movie adaptation on TV and that was not terribly exciting either. Or terribly funny. And now that I know the ending (have I mentioned that this isn‘t terribly exciting?), I have lost the last bit of interest in this too-cosy mystery. 

Actually, not much of a mystery at all. The crime and it‘s resolution are little more than an afterthought.

DNF after not quite 4 hours of audio (~40%).

Dewey‘s 24h Readathon – Hour 6

I read for about half of the time so far. Looking at what the other participants are up to is fun, but tends to take away quitE some time.

I read Behemoth (Rifters, #3) by Peter Watts for an hour and then started to listen to an audiobook, whilst cooking dinner and then doing the dishes:

Not sure yet, if I really like this one. Two hours in we have quite a body count. It‘s a dramatization with several actors. It might have a supernatural element, too early to tell.

Fox hunt

Rivers of London Volume 5: Cry FoxRivers of London Volume 5: Cry Fox by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unexpectedly good. Good story, good artwork, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Well, the story was ok-ish, really. The plot idea was actually a little lame. The telling of it was good though. Very good characterizations. Nicely done evil guys, too. I enjoyed the short stories at the end.

And my favourite part of the (nice, but standard) artwork was Abigail.

I might read more of this graphic novel spin-off of the Peter Grant novels, if I found them cheaply.

View all my reviews

Armchair mystery

Thrones, Dominations (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane #1)Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice enough. Quaint. Comfortable reunion with characters that I loved fiercely in my younger years. I read and re-read all the Lord Peter Wimsey novels so many times!

I have had this one here sitting on my shelf for quite a while. Yes, nice enough, but not compelling enough to finish. Read half of it and then had it lying around my coffee table for a month. Surmised that I won‘t finish it anymore and proceeded to read the last two chapters for some closure. Loved the Author‘s Note at the end. These characters are like very old, good friends.

View all my reviews

Different beauty

The Beauty, Vol. 2The Beauty, Vol. 2 by Jeremy Haun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a sequel to volume one, but rather a new story. A trans character, past and present, a life of violent crime, love, bad things happening… The Beauty only plays a marginal role in this volume. Pity, I think I would have liked to stay with the old characters and plot.

The art is (mostly) not as nice as in the first volume, but not without appeal. Different. Not sure I am a huge fan of guest artists in general.

————

What I thought of the separate chapters:

Chapter 7… a new character, a huge and unhappy guy. Pretty violent, plenty of gore… The Beauty and a metamorphosis…

Chapter 8… different artist than volume one? Not as nice as what we have seen previously, but the story has potential.

Chapter 9… continuation of the previous story. The change in style from the present to the past is well done, with the past storyline a little more indistinct and two-dimensional. Interesting.

Chapter 10… pretty violent. Coming full circle. Nice.

Chapter 11… new story? Definitely back to the nicer artwork of the first volume. Thank goodness for that! And not a new story, just back to the very beginning. I like it.

Some food porn, lol. And revenge.

This volume made me think of John Wick a little.

View all my reviews