Currently reading…

The Queen of the Damned: The Third Book in The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Sorry for the lack of updates, it‘s been a busy week with little reading. I am still chugging away at this and also listening to the audio of Eyes of the Void (The Final Architecture, #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I have a short holiday coming up, so hopefully that will mean more reading!

Currently reading…

The Queen of the Damned: The Third Book in The Vampire Chronicles
by Anne Rice

The next book in my re-read of the Vampire Chronicles. I‘m in chapter 3, on page 75 of 573 pages. I‘ve been out a lot with friends this week again, so things are progressing slowly.

I did also rewatch the movie of the same name this week and can honestly say that it is really bad. It wasn‘t quite this. bad in my memory. Bad acting, bad directing, bad accents and I didn‘t feel the presumed romance at all. I am enjoying the book so far though. Let‘s see how much I remember of this one.

On the plus side I got a letter from my brother today and it had a really nice magnetic bookmark in it. Thank you, brother!

I am trying to buy a little less from Amazon and instead buy more local and/or second hand. So while I still bought this paperback online, I did buy it second hand from a German company. Local-ish, no new trees had to die, but still bad for my CO2 footprint. You win some, you loose some. The book was published in 1988, my edition is from 1990. It‘s in pretty good shape for being 32 years old. The edges are a bit scuffed, but the spine is not cracked. It is clean and has this nice “old book“ smell. The print is smallish, but ok.

So, Friday, last workday of the week, yay! No plans for tonight, so I might actually get some decent reading in. Saturday is Free Comic Day here, so I will take a trip to the big bookstore in next town over and see if there is anything there that tempts me. Or maybe I should pick something that I wouldn‘t normally choose…

Vampire, Boss Level

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) by Anne Rice

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another re-read and old favourite from my teen/tween days. I read the first three books of the series about 30 years ago and loved them. Alas, this is another book were I remembered almost nothing of the plot but the broadest strokes. A monster of a book with very dense print on 599 pages, packing many parts with distinct plotlines and various stories of other vampires besides Lestat, provided backstory and a pretty comprehensive explanations of the world he lives in.

The pacing was too slow for me, but the story pulled me along. We touch down in ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, visit the Celts and meet druids, finally get a good, long look at pre-revolutionary France and Paris, travel around Europe and eventually make our way into the new world. Interview with the Vampire (my review) Armand and Louis make an appearance and we meet new characters that will have a major impact in the next book of the series.

Existential questions are discussed at length. Faith, god, good and evil, relationships, love, rituals… I have to confess that I skimmed past a few of those paragraphs. Online somewhere I read a description of Rice‘s writing style as both verbose and overly philosophical. I tend to agree. Sometimes the writing was a bit convoluted as well. There were some longer passages that I reread several times and I was still unsure afterwards what she wanted to tell me. Her livelong on-and-off affair with organized religion and the catholic church will have been a major influence here.

There was a much stronger gay vibe than I remember. It was pretty clear for me this time around that Lestat and Nicholas were in a relationship, although it is never explicitly spelled out.

Parts I did not like: the fixation on the superiority of blue-eyed blond people. Lack of meaningful female characters besides Gabrielle. General disdain of women as weak or, if strong, as unpredictable (deranged and dangerous?)—why do female writers perpetuate that image? Lack of diversity.

Re-reading old favourites is always a daunting undertaking. What if you hate that once beloved book? Luckily I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. I discovered so many things I had missed as a late teen/early tween. Vampire Lestat is a much broader and complicated story with an even slower pace. It turns Louis into a very unreliable narrator, as this is quite a different Lestat to the first book. Or is Lestat pulling our leg? And Armand is a lot less likable, which makes it hard for me to relate to Lestat‘s love for him. Anyhow, I liked the book despite the above mentioned parts. 

I plan to read the next three books of the series:
The Queen of the Damned: The Third Book in The Vampire Chronicles — reread
The Tale of the Body Thief — unsure if I have read this
Memnoch the Devil — new to me

I will see how I feel about the rest of the series, the plot summaries sound increasingly bizarre.

What I am up to right now…

I am currently reading a rather long book, hence my lack of updates…


The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) by Anne Rice — my paperback has 599 pages. The beginning was slow-going, but I am on my Easter break right now and already made good progress yesterday. But by golly, reading printed books as opposed to ebooks is hard work. The print is so small, I had to whip out my reading glasses and I need frequent breaks to rest my eyes.

The book is a re-read. I read the first few books of the series about 30 years ago and loved them back then. Somehow we talked ourselves into re-reading them in my favourite book reading group and here I am. Re-reading old favourites is always a daunting undertaking. What if you hate that once beloved book? Luckily I really liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. I discovered so many things I had missed as a late teen/early tween. And I am now realizing that I almost completely forgot the plot of Vampire Lestat. I am not quite halfway and expect quite a few discoveries ahead.

I am also slowly making my way through Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer. I am not sure why I got this book, but I suspect that I saw some of the illustrations somewhere and liked them. I do not plan to write imaginative fiction any time soon. But maybe this will teach me to develop a better understanding for what I read.

And I am listening to the audio of Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9) by Ben Aaronovitch. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a stellar job again, as expected. I am still so glad that we are done with that tedious story arch, spanning so many of these books and are back to more of a standalone storyverse. Connected losely by Bev‘s pregnancy, etc., but still… Love the puns and and pop culture references. Not listening much to audio whilst on vacation, so I‘ll see when I get to the second half of this…

Top Ten Tuesday — Adjective In the Title

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 / March 22: Books With an Adjective In the Title

Tricky topic. Lets see what I can did up on my shelf. For variety‘s sake I‘ll start with the books I added to my shelves last and work backwards…

Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings — my latest NetGalley addition: Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future. Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space

The Art of Cursive Penmanship: A Personal Handwriting Program for Adults by Michael R. Sull — A practice guide to improve one‘s handwriting. We start with a discourse on the history and technicalities of handwriting. There is instructions on the correct sitting posture, how to place the paper, how to use your writing implement, on fountain pens and so on. Chapter 5 is the beginning of the practical part. That‘s roughly where I am right now. Haven‘t started with the exercises yet…

Ancestral Night (White Space, #1) by Elizabeth Bear — not quite sure why I added this one to my stack: A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from multi award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.

Dying Earths: Sixteen Stories from the Ends of Times by Sue Burke and others — sounds depressing, but I want to read Sue Burke‘s story: The writers and contributors to the little corner of the web called SFFWorld.com have brought together a collection of stories about a dying Earth. 

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes — this was a buddy read that I skipped. Everybody really liked it, so I got it after all: Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.

An Easy Job by Carrie Vaughn — short story, read it already… Carrie Vaughn is worth mentioning again.

The Black Coast (The God-King Chronicles, #1) by Mike Brooks — another buddy read that I skipped and my reading buddies all loved it: When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them because they know who is coming: for generations, the keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Tjakorsha. Saddling their war dragons, Black Keep’s warriors rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own land by a daemonic despot who prophesises the end of the world, the raiders come in search of a new home . . .

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim — I like the original fairytale and the cover is pretty, so I couldn‘t resist: Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control.

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds — two novelettes set in Revelation Space. And the blurb of one of them is something aquatic. I had to get it: In the seas of Turquoise live the Pattern Jugglers, the amorphous, aquatic organisms capable of preserving the memories of any human swimmer who joins their collective consciousness. Naqi Okpik devoted her life to studying these creatures—and paid a high price for swimming among them. 

Digital Divide (Rachel Peng, #1) by K.B. Spangler — not quite sure why I picked this one. Genre bender with cyborgs: Rachel Peng misses the Army. Her old life in Criminal Investigation Command hadn’t been easy, but she had enjoyed it. Now, as the first cyborg liaison to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police, Rachel is usually either bored senseless or is fighting off harassment from her coworkers.

Yes, not 100% certain that those are all adjectives… *shrugs*

What interesting reads have you added to your shelves recently?

Gallantly bowing out of this one…

Gallant by Victoria SchwabJulian Rhind-Tutt (Narrator)

Olivia lives at an orphanage. She doesn‘t speak, sees ghouls and is isolated from the other girls. One day there is a letter from an uncle, calling her home to his house, which is called Gallant. A haunted house, relatives with a mysterious past and a hostile cousin, a vaguely creepy and gothic atmosphere. No romance elements.

Very good audiobook narration, likable characters, some nice story elements, slow plot development. I emphasized with Olivia. I didn‘t find the story as such terribly suspenseful, although it is definitely well written. It was too straight forward for me and too predictable. I liked the story, but started to drift off around the middle—there was just not enough tension or interest for me to keep going.

I might have missed out on some of the charm of this book by not getting an illustrated print version. Maybe I will revisit that one of these days and actually finish the story properly.

Despite the DNF at 51% I am giving this three stars, because it was ok and well done, I just didn‘t feel it. 51% is a pretty relative figure as well—I snoozed through some later parts of this, which is on me, not the book…

Will I read further books by the author? Yes, it‘s likely, but I would aim for the adult/mature ones. I have to say though that Schwab is not high on my list. The other book I read by her also ended as a three-star read, although the world building was quite interesting.

Kudos to the audiobook narrator, actor Julian Rhind-Tutt, I will keep my eyes peeled for further offerings narrated by him.

Too long was the night of the world

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

I will update this anthology as I go along…

THE LONG IAPETAN NIGHT by Julie Nováková — Iapetus is one of Saturn’s moons, named after a Titan in Greek mythology seen as the progenitor of mankind. And that‘s where we wake up from cold sleep. Earth has gone through two cataclysms and humanity tries to establish footholds on other planets and moons in the solar system. An earlier mission has failed and our team tries to find out what happened. Horror on a dark ice planet.

I like the plot idea, but struggled with the writing. It felt disjointed and confused me. There are two teams exploring and an account of the previous, failed mission from an unreliable narrator — I had a hard time keeping them straight. Not happy with this one. ★★¾☆☆

“Too long was the night of the world, the captain had said after our awakening. It’s time we saw the day.

Story can be found for free in Asimov‘s Science Fiction magazine, November/December 2020, linked in above cover.

I have read another of her short stories, THE SYMPHONY OF ICE AND DUST, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 85, review is here and linked above in the cover.

“Julie Nováková is a scientist, educator, and award-winning Czech author, editor, and translator of science fiction, fantasy, and detective stories.“

https://www.julienovakova.com

Table tennis, seriously?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Illustrator), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The last volume introduced Negan. Things have gone downhill very fast. 

Do I think that Negan is a lunatic? I think he is a complete sociopath. Oh boy. And Carl is a really annoying little brat. Their scenes together go on entirely too long.

Rick obviously has issues with his people, ostensibly giving up to Negan. It‘s a hard sell.

This feels like an in-between volume again. The story is good, as little as there is. But there is too much filler. I had hoped for the action and mayhem of the previous volume to continue. Instead there is a slump, too much one-sided pointless dialogue by Negan and a slow build-up to the hopfully more exciting Volume 19. 

Lucille is thirsty

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Illustrator), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So, finally, we meet Negan! Eep!

Well, ok, there is some build-up and shorter excursions and skirmishes, but eventually we make his unpleasant acquaintance…

And then the unmentionable thing happens. You know what I mean, if you have read this or watched the TV series. And it is explicit. Wow. I am actually a little shell-shocked. The Governor was a fluffy teddybear compared to Negan.

And despite of the horrible violence, this was a really good volume. Tight plot, great dialogue, good artwork. Excellent story telling.

I checked out of the TV series during Season 6, so I don‘t actually know how Rick and the others are going to deal with this situation. Looking forward to the next volume!


Main Challenge for 2022:

StoryGraph Reading Randomizer 2022

– January #1 The Sweet Rowan — review
– January #2 The Marrow Thieves — review

– February #1 The Legacy — review
– February #2 The Solitaire Mystery — not read yet

– March #1 Even The Wingless — up next
– March #2 The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

You see, the hate they give is senseless…

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (Author), Channie Waites (Narrator)

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Let‘s call it alternate history with a strong horror element. Three African-American women hunt Klu Kluxes, aka monsters disguised as Klu Klux Klan members. The story is set in Georgia in 1922. 

I liked the beginning quite a bit. Nice set-up, speedy beginning, interesting monsters. However, when the more supernatural elements entered and the focus shifted towards the characters, I started to drift off. The plot seemed to disappear into almost nothing and I lost interest in what went on. I never really connected with the main characters or the story.

The audio was ok at first. I struggle a bit with the Gullah accent of one of the characters. The narrator was too over the top with her vocalisations and her high tones eventually really grated on me.

I finished, but it was a close call and I barely paid attention at the end. Yes, the social commentary is very, very relevant, but if you‘re not telling me a gripping story, I find it hard to care.

I did like the aunties. Could they have been a version of the Three Fates? I looked up the Night Doctors, the Klu Klux Klan, Stone Mountain, D.W. Griffith and his movie, what a ring shout is and I wondered about Rhode Island. H.P. Lovecraft, maybe? So, this novella was not a complete loss for me.