And the first month of the year is over already! Here is what read, listened to and watched…
– Activation Degradation ★★★★☆, audio, SF, not Murderbot, just ignore that. Different take on robots/cyborgs/AI. – Cursed ★★★★½, Alex Verus #2, ebook, UF, wizards in London battle it out, good fun. – Black Powder War ★★★☆☆, Temeraire #3, ebook, Fantasy, the way back from China to Europe over land, with stopovers in Istanbul and Prussia, set in 1806. – Fruiting Bodies ★★★★★, short story, SF Horror, a little creepy. – Life on Earth ★★★★☆, audio, TBR pile, David Attenborough narrates his book, natural history. – The Sweet Rowan ★★★★¼, ebook, TBR, sweet Regency romance, set in Scotland, with a wee bit of magic. – Saga #55 ★★★★☆, eComic, SF, finally back after three years of waiting. – The Marrow Thieves ★★★☆☆, ebook, TBR, dystopian YA set in Canada. People have lost the power to dream, except for indigenous people, who are hunted for a cure. – Tietjen auf Tour: Warum Camping mich glücklich macht, paper, DNF after 84 pages reading and skimming to 150 pages / 55%. Travel anecdotes, nice enough, but very repetitive.
Specfic Movies & TV watched: – The Expanse, S6, Ep. 3-6 ★★★★☆ Season finished. They went off script quite a bit. Not sure yet how much I liked this. – Foundation, S1, Ep. 4-10 ★★★★★ Season finished. Excellent! – Venom ★★★¾☆ Entertaining and a little too silly. – Kingdom, S1, Ep. 1-3 ★★★☆☆ Korean zombie series in a historical setting. Unintentionally funny at times. Different. The people in this have the survival instincts of gnats.
Some StoryGraph statistics:
(yes, the last and first page counts are different, I updates something in between screen shooting the stats… 😝)
The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple by Sean Gibson — A bard walks in on a dark elf dealing cards to a beholder, a mind flayer, a demon, a grouchy-looking wizard, and what is either a vampire or a really pale guy with an unfortunate widow’s peak….
Cross of St. George (Richard Bolitho, #24) by Alexander Kent, Douglas Reeman — February 1813: As American privateers pick off British and Canadian ships in the wake of the War of 1812, Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho returns to Halifax to defend Crown property. In the cold waters off Nova Scotia, he fights fruitless skirmishes with men of the frontier, all the while longing for peace.
Brunelleschi’s Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence by Ross King — Even in an age of soaring skyscrapers and cavernous sports stadiums, the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence still retains a rare power to astonish. Yet the elegance of the building belies the tremendous labour, technical ingenuity and bitter personal strife involved in its creation.
Umlac’s Legacy (Entangled Galaxy Book 2) by Jim Meeks-Johnson — When Lt. Jade Mahelona defeated the cyborg Umlac, she inherited his interstellar kingdom—and made herself a target. Her new subjects are two-ton blobs who know that if they hunt her down and kill her, they get to take her place. She takes refuge with the reclusive Elliquine who adopt her into their herd and use her as their liaison to other species.
Well, I have some very suspicious offerings on this list. Maybe I shouldn‘t be surprised that some of them have been stuck on my TBR pile of owned books for a long time.
Yes, yes, I do not want to buy new books, instead I want to reduce my TBR pile of owned books. What can I say, I am weak on occasion… I rarely get to visit well-stocked bookshops, so when I do, the temptation is just too great. I am lucky I got out of there with only three new books!
The quiz champion reveals his easy way to more general knowledge. When was the Prague Defenestration? How many bits are in a byte? What is the name of the capital of Bolivia? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a job, aptitude test, job interview or conversation at a party – with good general knowledge you can score points everywhere. Sebastian Klussmann, popular hunter from the successful German quiz show “Gefragt – Gejagt” reveals how you can increase your knowledge without much effort. For example, when you go on a walk through the city and find out to whom a street name goes back to. Or explores geography through football. Or combine topics with emotions by letting grandmother show you your favorite flowers in the garden. An entertaining book that helps you to simply educate yourself – up to quiz maturity.
Translation of the German book blurb
Why did I get this book? I like the quiz show and I like him. My mum does so as well and I got this partly to share it with her.
A climate alliance – our last chance? Climate change – a catastrophe of unforeseen proportions is upon us. But then the superpowers China, Russia and the USA are taking a radical path: They are forming a climate alliance to save the earth. Their demands dramatically interfere with people’s lives, and not everyone wants to accept that. The opponentsare willing to do whatever it takes. The situation comes to a head – and suddenly the fate of us all lies in the hands of an anxious cook and an inconspicuous secret agent.
Translation of the German book blurb
Why did I get this book? Because my mum keeps mentioning it and also its sequel. So another one to read and share with her. I actually think the blurb sounds a bit silly. China, Russia and the USA form an alliance. And pigs fly. Anyway….
Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscuracelebrates over 600 of the strangest and most curious places in the world. […]
Atlas Obscura revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden, and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book you can open anywhere.
Part of the book blurb
Why did I get this book? Because it is pretty! And it shows lots of weirdly interesting places. A great coffee-table book and conversation starter. And yes, I will share it with my mum. Trivia is fun! Geography is cool!
Regency romance with a touch of magic. Governess trope! False identity! Scotland! Rugged Scotsmen! Damsel in distress! Treacherous antagonist! Drama!
A young woman runs away from her English home, to find something she has lost, and goes to Scotland under a false name, pretending to be a governess. The master of the house is immensely interesting, as he is wont to be in a sweet romance of this type. The situation gets complicated, with that lie of her assumed identity hovering in the background. And what is happening to that magic?
The writing was a little rough in the first chapter. And the tiny amount of magic felt like a gimmick at first, propelling the story from pure historical romance to something a little different.
The plot didn‘t hold any big surprises for most of the book. However, when the requisite amount of drama occurred, it was well done and the expected reveals were very entertaining. Good amount of action and the above mentioned damsel in distress was not a wimp.
The characters were likable and lively. The switching points of view added a nice layer to the story telling. The characters from her other two books, Her Caprice and The Telling Touch, are related to this book and should probably be read first. The books are standalone though, it didn’t feel as if I was missing anything.
Bottomline, this was a lot of fun! I might read more by the author at some point.
Thisweek‘s topic / January 11: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection
We don‘t give a lot of Christmas presents in my family (aka my parents) and if I get any, it‘s not usually books. My family doesn‘t know what to give me, specfic is in a whole other universe for them. Plus I do not read in my mother tongue, which makes it even more puzzling for them. And gift cards or vouchers are a no-no. So, here are the last 10 books I gave myself!
We were talking comfort reading / easy reading in my favourite specfic group, aka my online home. And this was recommended. Emergency Room in Space with imaginative, non-humanoid aliens. Sounds like a win to me!
It was so good! I just had to get the books. Ok, ok, friends told me that this doesn‘t have much to do with the books. I guess I will find out for myself, once the book gets here. I wanted to support my local and ordered this English-language hardback edition from my tiny German bookstore around the corner. It’s going to take a while. But I‘m not in a hurry.
PS: Lee Pace takes off his shirt A LOT! But seriously, the photography / CGI of the TV adaptation is excellent. The acting is great as well. I hope there will be a second season!
I used to read his books a lot, back when he hit the scene. I really liked his hyperative, high-octane and plot-driven military adventure yarns. Good fun for low brain power. These two shorts/novelettes were for free for Kindle, so I grabbed them to find out, if I still like his style.
In the suspense-charged tradition of Patricia Cornwell, Anna Salter draws from her professional expertise to introduce forensic psychologist Michael Stone, a sharply witty, courageous heroine who champions the victims of the most devastating crimes.
I received a free epub (in German) from my local bookshop for Christmas via their online shop. No idea if I will ever read it. It does sound a bit like Patricia Cornwell, which is not a bad things. I used to like her series ages ago.
Same as above, I received a free epub (in German) from my local bookshop for Christmas via their online shop. I am very dubious about this one.
Sweeping through the pivotal events of twentieth-century America, The Sight of the Stars chronicles four generations of one remarkable family as they journey through years of love, loss, sacrifice, and unimaginable betrayal.
Not really my thing. I am tempted to kick this off my shelf again right away. We‘ll see.
Wow, I got all of those books since Christmas Day. No wonder that my TBR pile isn‘t getting smaller. I checked, before this there were 20 days where I didn‘t get anything new to read… 🙄
Have you added anything good to your shelves recently?
So, I spent most of today sorting my reading shelves and looking through possible challenges and whatnot. This is what I came up with…
Planned reading for January: – Buddy Read Cursed, Alex Verus #2, ebook, started today and made it to chapter 2. – Buddy Read Black Powder War, Temeraire #3, ebook. I will pick this up after the above. More dragons! – Saga #55, eComic, pre-ordered, pub date Jan 26. I can‘t possibly wait for the collected volume, after waiting for this since they went into their extended hiatus in 2018!
Also reading / ongoing: – Life on Earth, audio, narrated by David Attenborough. I made it to chapter 9, all about birds of paradise. Fun chapter, but even so I feel a bit bored by this book.
I settled on a TBR Challenge for 2022 for the 217 owned books currently on my physical and digital shelves:
This reading challenge is for folks who have an obnoxiously large TBR (over 100 books) and need a kick in the pants to get it whittled down. These prompts will help you randomly select 24 books (2 for each month) from your TBR in the hopes that you pick up books you keep forgetting about or putting off.
RULES: 1. You must start AND finish each book in 2022. 2. A DNF still counts! The purpose of the challenge is to get you to at least try reading some books you might not otherwise pick up. 3. Audiobooks count! 4. You must use a random number generator for each prompt. Here is an example of one you can use, but you can use any random number generator of your choice. 5. You must use the first number that is generated every time you select a book for a prompt.
Here is what I got from that numbers generator and my owned-books-shelf over at Goodreads:
1. January: Book 1 Using the default order of the books on your spreadsheet (or my sorted-by-numbers GR list…), generate a random number from 1 to the number of books on your TBR. Use this number to find the book on the corresponding row in your spreadsheet.
I just realized that I didn‘t just pick between 1 and 100, but between 1 and all of my owned books. Never mind, not doing it again. So, we‘ll see how long I can keep up with this challenge!
And then there is my Pern Re-read: I am deleting, as I progress through my re-reads. I made a nice dent in my list in December. Here is what‘s left! I probably won‘t get to the next one until February though, looking at my above plans.
Publication Order * 1983 – Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern — part of On Dragonwings * 1984 – Nerilka’s Story * 1989 – The Renegades of Pern * 1991 – All The Weyrs of Pern * 1994 – The Dolphins of Pern * 1998 – The Masterharper of Pern * 2001 – The Skies of Pern * 2003 – Dragon’s Kin * 2005 – Dragonsblood * 2006 – Dragon’s Fire * 2007 – Dragon Harper * 2008 – Dragonheart * 2010 – Dragongirl * 2011 – Dragon’s Time * 2012 – Sky Dragons
I should not run out of ideas of what to read next, what do you think?
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir — Mark Watney in space! And he sciences the sh*t out of his situation… so, yes, very much reminiscent of The Martian. And then some. I loved it and could barely put it down. So much fun!
The Prefect (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1) by Alastair Reynolds — On the surface this comes along as a police procedural in a SF setting. Dreyfus is a cop with a strong moral code of right and wrong, committed to justice. My first association was Miller from The Expanse, with a bit of Blade Runner and minus any projectile weapons. Space opera, ultimately, with the many and very varied habitats of the Glitter Band, artificial intelligences, body modifications, uplifted mammals, many political systems, states of being and an elaborate polling system — fascinating!
David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — Gods have rained down on Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. We enter the story some time later, into the dystopian society that has developed here in the aftermath. David Mogo, our 1st person narrator, is a demi-god working as an illegal godhunter. An old wizard with dubious morals sends David Mogo off to catch two high gods, Taiwo and Kehinde. David is in need of money to fix his roof, so off he goes, despite his misgivings about this wizard. Obviously things don’t go as expected.
Revelation (Matthew Shardlake, #4) by C.J. Sansom — 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.
The Whale Library by Zidrou, Judith Vanistendael — Pretty watercolours, a mature story about a whale who contains a large library, a postman delivering sea mail, his wife and a smattering of sailors, pirates, fish, sea turtles, octopi and more…
Besides this one I also read some very good more traditional graphic novels. But that probably needs another entry…
This novella is set a few years after the American Revolutionary War. The titular main character, Salem Hawley, won his emancipation after fighting on the side of the colonies and seems to be a teacher in New York. His opposites, including the other main character Hereford, are white doctors in pursuit of monsters.
Gore, graphic torture and body horror, body snatchers, peripheral racial tension, lack of decent female characters (mainly dead whores), hints of Lovecraft and some really twisted characters. Not the crime story with a supernatural twist and a strong black character I was looking for. Hawley was pretty lame and did not come across as a title character.
The first chapter started this off with a human vivisection in quite some detail, including sexual tension I could have done without (repeatedly). Generally the torture scenes made me uncomfortable and the violence just felt gratuitous. By chapter six I was pretty much done with this disturbing narrative, but curiosity kept me going. Chapter seven was so over the top and frankly disgusting that it veered into the absurd and by the time I was done with that gore fest, I just kept going out of stubbornness.
The ending really requires to continue with the sequel Borne of the Deep to get some closure, which I will most likely not do. This was definitely too much gore, graphic violence and nasty characters for my taste. Alas, if you are a fan of hardcore horror with a hefty helping of blood splatter and crunching bones, this might be for you.
Somewhere between 2 and 3 stars for me, with a beautiful cover and a story that doesn‘t do it for me.
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.”
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.