Trick or Treat

Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora by Zelda Knight (Editor)

For my #ReadBIPOC2021 challenge I barely glanced at my pick for July, but I finally started. Here are the first two stories:

Trickin by Nicole Givens Kurtz

An old god rises up each fall to test his subjects. A Halloween story with a supernatural twist. It was ok. ★★★☆☆

Red_Bati by Dilman Dila

Dilman Dila is a Ugandan writer and film maker. The story is about a robot facing an existential crisis. Is he a human inside of a pet robot? Does he have a spirit? What is his purpose?

This felt a bit like a physics lecture, with a side dish of techno-babble. However, if Murderbot ever wants to adopt a pet, this could be the ideal dog for it. Nice plot, although the ending is a bit abrupt—I think this could make an interesting novella. I liked it. ★★★★☆


I will post updates whenever I finish another story.

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

Sharks, whales and a lot of crazy

Nightstalkers (Meg #5)
by Steve Alten

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The prologue was a smart way of summarizing the salient points of the previous book. The first chapter though… did he just copy and paste that complete chapter with the kayak tourists and the pod of orca from the previous book?

Early on we meet the main character from The Loch and the subsequent novels of that series. Cross-over time! Unfortunately that character talks with a Scottish brogue. I don‘t mind (too much), however it‘s pretty inconsistent. Whole sentences in the Queen‘s English and then a few Scottish things thrown in. Nobody talks that way.

Alten sticks to his tried and tested routine: two plots with distinct sets of main characters that each face their challenges—the respective monster of the day. First they alternate by chapter and eventually, as the suspense heats up towards the later parts of the book, the narrative switches between the plotlines faster and faster. Chapters usually finish with cliffhangers and then move on to the other plot. Which is annoying and means that you basically have to rush from one chapter to the next, driven by the momentum of whatever crazy thing just happened.

Somewhere in or after the middle Alten throws in some weird development from the other series, specifically from Vostok (I think—I haven‘t actually read that one). You have to suspend your disbelief very hard. He went into a very ridiculous, superfluous direction. Which is saying much, considering that this is about the appearance of pre-historic sharks, Liopleurodons and a ton of other bizarre creatures. My reading buddies and I all rolled our eyes so much… 

Up to that point the plot was more or less a repetition of the last book. Felt a bit like Alten plagiarizing himself. Copy-and-paste-a-lot…. I wish that Alten had just stayed with the main plot — chasing the megs and capturing that Liopleurodon. Adding another monster and the character from the other books with his own brand of crazy… what‘s next, sharks in space? 

Sorry, I stole this pic somewhere, but didn‘t keep track…

And for the characters — I didn‘t have many expectations, but even those are completely interchangeable. David is Jonas, Monty is Mac… Never mind David‘s squeeze of the day. That romance/friendship-with-benefits was implausible at best. The way Alten writes the female characters is just atrocious. Again. Hoping for an improvement on that front was probably naive.

Why did I think picking up this book was a good idea? And why on Earth did I finish it? Embarrassingly enough I quite enjoyed the action in Part 3 and 4, despite there being too may different monsters. I didn‘t mind all the new monsters in the last book, they worked within the setting of that book. Here it read like a hodgepode of (more) crazy. *head desk*

And you know what? Apparently there will be only one more book. I can‘t not read that one, even it it will be another 2 start rating. Oh boy.

Farming for parts

Farmhand, Vol. 1
by Rob Guillory,  Taylor Wells (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Zeke Jenkins had a falling out with his dad a few years ago. Now he‘s taking the family back to the farm and his old hometown to make up and find a new/old place to live.

Which is a bit odd, because his father is growing body parts on that farm…

Can you hear the zombies shuffling along in the background? This has to turn into something really weird, right? Well, not just yet… The body parts are grown for a good purpose: to heal people and replace those lost body parts…

Issue/Chapter #1 was mostly introductions and a little set-up and Issue #2 started with a little backstory on Zeke‘s youth. Things started to become interesting and moved in unexpected directions. No zombies in sight…. but other strange things made an appearance. Mutations, anyone? And not just plants… However, towards the end of Issue #5 this was seriously lacking in narrative tension and my mind kept wandering off. Nice ominous ending though, that might tempt me into picking up the next book.

I liked the artwork.

This read is part of my attempt to clear my TBR pile of owned books and my #ReadBIPOC2021 challenge (entry for June).

If at first you don‘t succeed, try again…

The Murders of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #1)
by Tade Thompson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Weird. Disturbing. Creepy. Off-putting. Slightly disgusting in parts. It‘s like a train wreck—pretty horrible, but I couldn‘t look away. This novella made me feel uncomfortable. I am still trying to put my fingers on the reason why. The blood? The constant murders? The horribleness of the mollys? Strangely enough, I am tempted to read the sequel. 

If you read the blurb, you already know that every time Molly bleeds, a „molly“ is created. And the mollys are always off somehow, eventually intent on killing her. So she kills them first. Around that concept the story of her life to a certain point is told. How she grew up and learned about the mollys, how her parents taught her to deal with them, her road to understanding about herself and the mollys and why some of them seem to be different than others…

I didn‘t like Molly. She was too dispassionate for my taste. But I guess with her history that was to be expected. It‘s tragic and whatever passion and positive emotions she experienced lead to revelations that would be spoilers. I really liked her parents, though. Especially her mother.

The writing is very good. I was totally immersed in the story, the characters and Molly‘s world. I am looking forward now to another offering lingering on my TBR shelf: Rosewater(same author, different world, not related to Molly, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Nommo Award and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award).

This read is part of my attempt to clear my TBR pile of owned books and my #ReadBIPOC2021 challenge (entry for June).

Top Ten Tuesday in quotes…

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: book quotes that fit a particular theme! I guess my theme will be amusing quotes! Here we go:

“Dogs make sense. They understand hierarchy and the need to cooperate. They come when you call them. A cat though—a cat will take your number and get back to you. Maybe. If he’s in a good mood.” 

Mortal Danger by Eileen Wilks

Read in 2012. The first book was only just interesting enough for me to want to get the next one. Nothing special. But this one grabbed me. I really liked it. Interesting plot, good world building, introduction of some new characters that I really liked and want to see more of. The varying points of view added a nice layer to the various existing characters as well. Very good.

“Some people are like Slinkies. They aren’t really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.” 

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Still one of my favourite UF series. Just re-read the lot last year.

“I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”

The Martian by Andy Weir

I could easily do this whole TTT with quotes from The Martian. I love this book. My cheeks are hurting just from reading over all of the quotes I marked…

“I gave him a smile. I was aiming for sweet, but he turned a shade paler and scooted a bit farther from me. Note to self: work more on sweet and less on psycho-killer.” 

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Still my favourite UF series. And another series I could use easily as well to fill all the quotes for this TTT.

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg.” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.” 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

The story is a mystery, a conspiracy, an adventure and a fight against evil. There is smuggling, thievery, but sadly no pirates. And sadly, it wasn‘t a complete hit for me.

“So you killed him with what now?”
“I tried that Dr. Phil book at first”…”And I finished it off with the toilet seat. Just so you know, you left it up again. That drives me crazy.” 

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

Great fun. If you liked the film Zombieland, this is for you.

“She was not a political creature. She felt that politics was the second most evil thing humanity had ever invented, just after lutefisk.” 

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey

My favourite SF series…

“It’s not that I’m not upset; it’s just that I’m too tired to run up and down the corridor screaming.” 

Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

Another good SF series, if you want to read something classic. My steam only lasted a few books in though. As a teenager I probably would have loved this to pieces.

“He was an American, so it seemed only fair to shoot him.” 

The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss isn‘t only great as screenwriter or the occasional supporting actor…

“Once the telephone had been invented, it was only a matter of time before the police got in on the new technology and, first in Glasgow and then in London, the police box was born. Here a police officer in need of assistance could find a telephone link to Scotland Yard, a dry space to do “paperwork” and, in certain extreme cases, a life of adventure through space and time.”

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

Another endless supply of funny quotes is the Rivers of London series. And excellent UF. I highly recommend the audiobooks, they elevate the series by a few more pegs.

I could keep going, but that‘s 10 quotes! That was very entertaining, actually….

A touch of Meg

The Fortuna Island Lagoon (Carthago, #1)
by Christophe Bec,  Eric Henninot,  Milan Jovanovic

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I picked this up because it looked to be set underwater and I got a whiff of Megalodon. Unfortunately that fish is mostly in the off at first and then disappears all together for a good while.

And it’s a very wordy graphic novel. Much too wordy. I don‘t mind the occasional info dump or longer explanation, but this never stops. Somewhere in the middle I started to skim a little. On top of that there was this glacially slow build-up. 

It eventually got going — a little. And by the time it did get more interesting, it also immediately finished with two cliffhangers.

The artwork was ok. It‘s unlikely that I will continue.

It‘s getting weird in the woods

The Woods Vol. 5
by James Tynion IV,  Michael Dialynas

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Over a year has passed since Bay Point Preparatory High School found themselves countless light years away in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Now the crew finds themselves divided, choosing sides in a war that has been raging for hundreds of years.

More backstories. The plot becomes more complex and weirder. Several revelations, some expected and others not so much. Monsters, drugs, bodily harm and death. After reading five volumes more or less back to back, I ran out of steam a little though. I need a break. I might continue at a later point.

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Danger in the woods

The Woods Vol. 4
by James Tynion IV,  Michael Dialynas (Illustrator)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

One year later. After the climax of the last issue, we jump ahead and see how everybody fared in the year since. Somehow I had thought that the events in the last volume would lead up to a climax in this one here, but apparently I blinked and the climax has happened already… Anyway… I like how this story is developing and the artwork stepped up in quality as well.

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Top Ten Tuesday and the animal kingdom…

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: Animals (Real and Fantasy) in the books, on the cover or in the title…

Ok, animals in books, no problem…. there are plenty of werewolves and dragons in my reading past… the tricky part will be to find books that I haven‘t mentioned here before. Let‘s see…

Animal Farm — read in the 80s or 90s…?
by George Orwell

I read this a long time ago. It was good, I don‘t remember all that much. Maybe time for a re-read of this classic fable about communism.

Animal Dreams — read in 2006
by Barbara Kingsolver

I liked “Poisonwood Bibel” and loved “Prodigal Summer”. But this one wasn‘t for me. It bored me at the time and I didn‘t like the main character. It has an animal in the title though!

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire, #1)
by Naomi Novik

This was fun. Set in an alternate universe during the Napoleonic wars, the British and the French not only fight each other with their powerful Navies, but also with aerial combat — the captains not flying in planes, but riding on dragons. Well written, it reads a bit like a mix of Patrick O’Brien and Anne McCaffrey.

Still Life With Crows (Pendergast, #4) — read in 2004
by Douglas Preston,  Lincoln Child

A serial killer starts killing in a small Kansas town. The corn is high, the heat is hot and the agent, that appears out of nowhere, dressed all black, is really weird….

If you are into graphic violence, this is for you. Really nasty murders, with a lot of detail! Ewwww. I sort of made my way through that book in small doses. Pretty gruesome. And that agent was really very weird. 

Red Rabbit (Jack Ryan, #2) — read in 2005
by Tom Clancy

I like Clancy and Jack Ryan is one of my favourite characters. With only slightly over 600 pages this is one of Clancy’s shorter efforts. It was ok at the time. But I do not recall any of the storyline, which usually means that it was nothing special.

A Falcon Flies
by Wilbur Smith

At the end of the 19th century our main characters travel to Africa to make their fortune and search for their father, who disappeared into South-East Africa several years previously. They encounter the British Navy, slave traders, African kings, elephants, treasures, witches, buffalo, malaria, love, betrayal, loss and their destiny… To be continued in the next book… 😉

My next and last two offerings are colouring books! I have the German versions, but both have originally been published in English.

Animorphia – Phantastische Tiermotive: Eine atemberaubende Welt zum Ausmalen
by Kerby Rosanes

I couloured in this last time in 2018. I should probably get out my art supplies again….

A quick and messy watercolor…

The whale was fun…

The elephant was a bit simpler…

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And my favourites, the owls!

Nordische Wildnis: Ausmalen und entspannen
by Claire Scully

Here I stayed in one colour…

And here it is black and white with some highlights…

And the snake was a lot of fun:

Ok, that‘s only eight books, but I am done for today! 😏