Magic, mayhem, monsters and maniacal gods 

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The incomparable Stephen Fry takes us through the Greek Pantheon and all its intricacies.

The narration is very well done and it was an excellent refresher. It‘s always amazing to realize how many other god stories and other mythologies have borrowed from Greek mythology!

Every now and then I spaced out a bit, when Fry listed names after names of gods, heroes and various humans, however the retelling of it all was entertaining and very educational.

Further books in the series:
Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures — not sure about this one
Troy — very tempted!
The Odyssey — probably time for a refresher about this as well…

Make sure to have plenty of water, food, and at least some mountaineering equipment…

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer (Author), Jeremy Zerfoss (Illustrator), John Coulthart (Illustrations)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I am not sure anymore 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 this has the potential to improve understanding for what I read and it would probably be a great resource for those who do want to improve their writing.

“This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object.“

from the blurb

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…

Fairyland meets Art Nouveau

Enchanted Living, Summer 2019: #47 The Art Nouveau Issue

by Carolyn Turgeon (Editor), Mary Sharratt, Theodora Goss, Grace NuthKatharyn Howd Machan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Photography of all things Art Nouveau—jewelry, present day portraits, interior shots of old buildings and new decorations, tarot decks, ceramics, fashion/costumes… There is also poetry, paintings—Klimt‘s The Kiss makes an appearance—, illustrations, interviews, articles on a variety of topics, recipes for homemade cosmetics and cocktails… A pretty eclectic mix. 

I flipped though this magazine twice. Some of the photographs I liked, most of the magazine’s content was not my cup of tea. Too much fairyland, not enough actual Art Nouveau.

I liked the abandoned Art Nouveau buildings…

… and the ceramics…

The centerfold is about Solarpunk Design with an interesting cityscape. That was pretty much it. Sorry.

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?

February 2022 Wrap-up

Here is my February 2022. My page count is a bit lower this month, due to some distracting family issues. I couldn‘t concentrate on new stories and reverted to comfort re-reading quite a lot of older fanfiction early in the month, which I don‘t really track.

Empire of Wild ★★★★☆, ebook, TBR, slow burning horror, indigenous folklore about a Rogarou.
– Iterum ★★★★☆, Stargate Atlantis fanfic, McShep, re-read / comfort reading — and a ton of other Spirk and McShep fanfiction!
– Bots of The Lost Ark in Clarkesworld Magazine #177, June 2021 ★★★★☆, online novelette, bots run amok, aliens threaten, ship and humans need to be saved, little bot to the rescue.
Interview with the Vampire ★★★★☆, ebook, re-read after 30 years or so. Slow start, but re-discovered so many details that I had forgotten. Ultimately rewarding.
– Shadecraft #1 ★★★★★, eComic, online for free at Image Comics, YA, Zadie is being chased by shadows… good artwork.
Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System ★★★★☆, audio, non-fiction, entertaining tour through our solar system and a fascinating look at volcanoes.
– Saga #56 ★★★★★, eComic
– Wikihistory ★★★★☆, short story, online, amusing piss-take on time travel and Wikipedia.
– The Legacy by R.A. Salvatore ★★★¾☆ ebook, TBR / StoryGraphReading Randomizer February #1, dark elves and dwarves battling it out in a lot of deep tunnels.
– An Easy Job ★★★★☆, short story, online, prequel to Sinew and Steel and What They Told

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six (ongoing):
– SCAR TISSUE by Tobias S. Buckell – human MC fosters a robot. Is the mind just bolted into its carriage or the sum of a whole? And what does it mean to be raised and to learn from experience? Sweet story, I got pretty emotional. ★★★★★
– EYES OF THE FOREST by Ray Nayler – scouts in an alien and dangerous forest, very cool concepts. ★★★★½
– SINEW AND STEEL AND WHAT THEY TOLD by Carrie Vaughn – Graff faked his medical records and something really awkward is going to come out. ★★★★¾

StoryGraph Reading Randomizer / backlog:
– The Solitaire Mystery, paper, TBR / February StoryGraph #2, have to see when I can fit this in…

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– For All Mankind, S1, Eps. 1-5 ★★★★☆

Planned for March:
Ring Shout, audio, started…
Mickey7, ebook, Netgalley owned and running late
Ogres, ebook, pub date 15.03., Netgalley owned
The Complete Angel Catbird, Angel Catbird #1-3, Margaret Atwood, comic, owned
– Saga #57, pub date 23.03., pre-ordered
– StoryGraph #1 Even The Wingless
– StoryGraph #2 The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

Volcanoes in Space

Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System by Natalie Starkey (Goodreads) (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a fascinating book! Have you ever considered that Earth might be the odd one out, because it has plate tectonics and the other planets in our solar system do not? Well, I certainly never did. The majority of our volcanoes, sitting above tectonic plates diverging from or converging with each other, are actually not really a typical phenomenon, if you broaden your reach beyond our planet. And that is only the start of the journey. This book gives you a great overview of the volcanoes on Earth and then takes you on a spin through our solar system and more unusual types of volcanoes, spewing all kinds of unexpected materials. In the process there is a lot to learn about planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, you name it…

I learned a lot, but have to confess that the constant info dump was a bit much at times. Still, it was a fascinating read and pretty entertaining.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author. She did a good job. Here is a talk she gives about her book:

And her website with blog: https://www.nataliestarkey.com

My January 2022

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.

Still reading, carry over into February:
Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System, audio. Fascinating!

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… 😝)

Book haul

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!

Besserwissen mit dem Besserwisser (Better knowledge with the know-it-all: This is how you train your general knowledge)
by Sebastian Klussmann

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.

Der neunte Arm des Oktopus: Thriller (The Ninth Arm of the Octopus)
by Dirk Roßmann

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 opponents are 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….

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders 
by Joshua Foer,  Dylan Thuras,  Ella Morton

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!

The matching website is here: https://www.atlasobscura.com

Top Ten Tuesday — New-to-Me Authors

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 / January 25: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021

I generally read more new-to-me-authors these days than known ones. I used to read series after series, but have changed my reading habits in the last few years. I already posted my Top Ten Tuesday—the ten best books of 2021 and I will not mention those books again. Funnily enough those were mostly known-to-me-authors. Oh well.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #1) by Tade Thompson — Weird. Disturbing. Creepy. Off-putting. Slightly disgusting in parts. Horror, as you might have guessed by now. It‘s like a train wreck—pretty horrible, but I couldn‘t look away. The writing is very good. I was totally immersed in the story, the characters and Molly‘s world. I will probably read The Survival of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #2) at some point.

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1) by Tade Thompson wasn‘t quite as good for me. An alien lands on Earth, burrows into the ground and presents as a illuminated dome. We follow Kaaro, a „sensitive“, in the employ of some shady secret agency. His life story is told in three separate timelines, set around the biodome. He is a thief, he is sexist, he felt like a clueless, self-centered, mysoginistic idiot to me. I can appreciate the inventive world building, but the rest was a slog.

Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler — short story. A human colony living as little more than slaves, joined to an insectoid race. Love, possesiveness and self-sacrifice are themes. Butler voices her surprise in the afterword, that readers see this as a story of slavery. But are we looking at symbiosis or at a parasitic relationship? Is it really consent in a situation, where your personal rights have been curtailed and there are no equal rights? I think not. 

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) by Octavia E. Butler — Lilith wakes up into a world of bipeds reminiscent of Cthullu with a touch of octopus biology. The world as she knows it has ended, the Onkali have rescued her and other humans. A classic. It was ok, but I won‘t continue with the series.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur — A queer rom-com debut with a social media astrologer. Give me a break! And Darcy, an actuary, her terrible blind date, is a total bitch (at first). Gorgeous though. Fake relationship trope! Well written, very readable. Oh, this is supposed to be a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I didn‘t see it, to be honest, besides the first name.

Becoming by Michelle Obama — Michelle Obama‘s memoir, from her early childhood to the end of her second term as FLOTUS. Entertaining.

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith — I was entertained. And I learned new things.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell — potential m/m romance in an SF setting, marriage of convenience, potentially a murder mystery and court intrigue, hints of space opera.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badge — YA. UF/magical realism, set in our place and time, with ghosts, vampires and fae added to the mix. Author and female main character are Lipan Apache. Ellie is 17 years old and has the power to call animal ghosts into being.

The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter — the author covers a vast amount of linguistic topics. The author‘s casual dismissal of places and people outside of the US was a bit irritating at times. It was interesting.

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron — Enjoyable, humorous, not too silly and not too much drama. There is baking and sourdough starter and delicious Indian/East African food… If you are looking for a book that represents Islam and Muslim life, this is not it. If you are looking for light romance and great food though, you are bang on. 

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen — Androids, a claustrophobic spaceship, a mysterious ice planet and a conspiracy with a dash of horror. 

Ok, that was ten new to me authors. I had an interesting year.