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.

German Excursion…

Monster 1983: Die komplette 1. Staffel (Monster 1983, #1-10)
by Ivar Leon Menger,  Anette Strohmeyer (Goodreads Author), Raimon WeberNana Spier (Narrator), Erich Räuker (Narrator), Simon Jäger (Narrator), Andreas Fröhlich (Narrator), Benjamin Völz (Narrator) , David Nathan(Narrator), Luise Helm (Narrator), Ekkehardt Belle (Narrator)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Ich konsumiere meine Bücher und Hörbücher normalerweise nur in Englisch. Diese Hörspiel war umsonst, daher dachte ich mir, ich versuche mal mein Glück! Beim zweiten Anlauf habe ich dann auch bis zum Ende durchgehalten. 

Story: 

Morde in einer kleinen, beschaulichen Küstenstadt in New England. Ein Sheriff klärt auf. Schlagworte mysteriös und unheimlich. Das Ende war nicht schlecht und könnte mich tatsächlich dazu bewegen, mir die zweite Staffel zu holen. 

Die Wahl des Ortes und des Jahrzehnts haben sich mir nicht erschlossen. „Gruselspaß“ und ein „schrecklich schauriges Hörvergnügen“ — Na ja, es ging so. Obwohl es letzte Nacht im dunklen Schlafzimmer schon kurz etwas gruselig war, für ungefähr 20 Sekunden…

Besetzung:

Die Besetzung war in der Tat super. Ich kann mit den Namen zwar nichts anfangen, da ich sehr wenig deutsches TV sehe, aber ein paar der Stimmen kamen mir bekannt vor. Allen voran der Bürgermeister mit der Synchronstimme von Magnum. Und war Fischer die Synchronstimme von Ralph Fiennes?

Ab und zu hatte ich Schwierigkeiten, die Personen auseinander zu halten.

Spannung: ★★☆☆☆

Story insgesamt: ★★★☆☆

Besetzung: ★★★★☆

Insgesamt war es ok. Wenn die zweite Staffel günstig ist, würde ich mir sie anhören. 

Warnung: Auf keinen Fall die Beschreibung der zweiten Staffel lesen, sie verrät zuviel!


I apologize for this review in German-only. The original audiobook is in German as well, so my brain ran in that direction. If the mood strikes me, I might translate it at some point.

Dewey‘s 24h Readathon — Hour 12

So, I am still at it, although my actual reading average per hour is not spectacular. I made good inroads into my audiobook, doing the water in my tricky Venice puzzle at the same time…

So far I am completely clueless, who might have done it. The male voices are a little too similar at times. Some guy had the crazy giggles, he is a strong contender, but I am not sure who he actually was…

Anyway, I will tackle the puzzle‘s sky in the morning. It‘s hard work under artificial light.

It‘s just past 1 a.m. and I am starting to feel knackered. I am going to get a little snack and drink something refreshing and get back to my ebook for a while…

Melancholy Manga

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 001PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 001 by Naoki Urasawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another Manga, recommended by a friend. Definitely not what I expected. European setting, robots, a murder mystery, a bit of a superhero feel, a bit of crime noir. Interesting.

Act 1 : “Mont Blanc” (モンブラン)

A world were robots are part of everyday life, apparently mostly fulfilling service positions in society. A human is murdered and things unfold from there.

The first few panels are in colour and then we switch to black and white.

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Act 2 : “Gesicht” (ゲジヒト)

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We are exploring what an A.I. might experience, feel, dream… This is not bad.

Act 3 : “Brau 1589” (ブラウ1589)

Gesicht is a very likable character. And tragic—being a robot, but as an A.I. being so sad about the circumstances of his being.

We learn the meaning behind the name of this Manga! Interesting… ominous! Foreboding!

Nice build-up of suspense and tension. Well done.

Act 4 : “North No. 2 (Part 1)” (ノース2号前)

A future world. Robots have evolved. Humans… not so much.

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Pretty tragic plot.

Act 5 : “North No. 2 (Part 2)” (ノース2号中)

Continuation of North‘s storyline in Scotland. I wonder where this is taking us and how it relates to the murder case and Gesicht?

Act 6 : “North No. 2 (Part 3)” (ノース2号後編)

Conclusion to the Norse/North #2 story. Now I know how this relates. Chapter 4 to 6 are another good piece of story telling.

Act 7 : “Brando” (ブランド)

The landscapes in the last three chapters looked a litte wishy-washy. Here we immediately come across some lovely detail…

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Nice little story again, making robots appear human and more accessible. Followed by a little cliffhanger and a rather abrupt ending. Good post scriptum.

Bottom line, good story telling. Quiet introspection alternates with action and noise. Overall it made me feel melancholy.

Still pondering the artwork. It definitely has its moments. I am pretty sure I will continue this at some point.

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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.

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Contagion in Space

GravityGravity by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

About 15 years ago I read the first Rizzoli & Isles thriller, The Surgeon, and liked it. And although I 5-starred it, I never again picked up anything by Gerritsen. Well, space and an infection sounded too tempting to pass up. And after finishing this book, I think I should have picked up something by Gerritsen sooner.

On the book it mentions ER meets Apollo 13. Throw in Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton and we have a deal. And maybe bits of Life and Contagion.

Gordon Obie, known as the Sphinx… that got old eventually. I am also not a massive fan of the whole conspiracy theory shindig and the mysterious grey haired billionaire. And the ending seemed a bit too easy.

Setting that aside, this was a very enjoyable read, full of action and suspense and plenty of gross bodily fluids. Whilst I started slowly, I read the bulk of the book in one day and had a hard time putting it down. Well done!

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Elementary, my dear Wyndham

The Affair of the Mysterious LetterThe Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A book trying very hard to present a magical Holmes & Watson and using all the right cues. An overly amusing and mocking first person narration by Dr. Watson Captain John Wyndham. A Scandal in Bohemia lurks somewhere in the background.

The amusing tone got old pretty fast. About two hours into the audio narration I started to seriously loose interest. The microscopically small plot barely managed to hold the story together. It was a slog. I only continued, because I wanted to find out who was the culprit.

Actually, on second thought, the plot wasn‘t bad. There was just too much fluff in between.

And really annoying? „Oh, she used a bad, bad word, but my publisher told me not to repeat it!“ Funny the first three times. After that, not so much!

Nice resolution at the end and there was something truly well written just before it that caught my interest.

In summation too much amusing vapor, too little actual story. A lot of talk, trying to create a Sherlock-Holmes-apropriate atmosphere. Some great ideas, smothered in the overly quaint narration. Kudos regarding the cameos of various gothic horror novels. Pretty nice Dracula rendition.

Best part of this novel: The excellent audiobook narrator, Nicholas Boulton. His tone of voice reminded me a bit of Stephen Fry.

The author has written some romance novels that look like they could be fun…. Other than that I will definitely not continue with this, if there should be a sequel. I will look up the audiobook narrator though.

The author on Sherlock Holmes: https://crimereads.com/sherlock-holme…

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Armchair mystery

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fairly standard crime fare with common tropes. Damaged and struggling detective with high moral code. Trusty sidekick. Unlikely case. Potentially difficult copper.

Cormoran Strike is a likeable character, my favourite was Robin though. I was positively surprised.

Ultimately though this was too sedate for my taste and halfway into the story I started to get a bit cored. Too many lengthy, uneventful interviews. Not a lot of suspense. The unlikely reveal at the end, where the good guy lays it all out for the reader and the bad guy snaps and is caught. I read a version of this many times before. Bordering on armchair mystery in the style of Agatha Christie.

The highlight for me was the audiobook narration. Oddly though, he made Strike sound a bit like Michael Caine. Accents are not this narrators strength, but his narration was still very good.

So, 3 “this-is-okayish“ stars, with some boring stretches. A pretty generic crime story, made a bit more interesting by Strike‘s backstory. I doubt I will get the next book of this series anytime soon. However, I might look up the audiobook narrator.

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