July 2022 Wrap-up

My July 2022:

Severance by Ling Ma ★★★½☆ audio, a millennial‘s coming of age, literary fiction with a touch of zombies.

Black Tide ★★★★¼ audiobook, horror. End of the world, alien invasion meets creature feature. I had fun, couldn‘t put it down. Looking forward to everybody else‘s comments.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune ★★★☆☆ ebook, novella, magical China, the life of an empress in very broad strokes, didn‘t do much for me.

– The Iron Duke ★★★★★ paper, StoryGraph #1 August, officially marketed as PNR, but much more steampunk-pirates-zombie-swashbuckling fun.

– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry:

#1) A Study in Scarlet, Watson meets Holmes. And Mormons. ★★★½☆ 

#2) The Sign of Four, Watson meets Mary. And we take a trip to the Andaman Islands. ★★★★☆

#3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes & Watson meet The Woman / The Adventure of the Re-Headed League / A Case of Identity / The Boscombe Valley Mystery / The Five Orange Pips / The Man with the Twisted Lip / The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle / The Adventure of the Speckled Band ★★★★☆


Short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: (ongoing)

– YELLOW AND THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY by Maureen F. McHugh ★★★★★ how do we perceive reality? For free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/07/22/yellow…

– EXILE’S END by Carolyn Ives Gilman ★★★★☆ The painful process of repatriation of stolen art. For free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/08/12/exiles…

– INVISIBLE PEOPLE by Nancy Kress — parents find out that their adopted daughter has been genetically altered as an embryo. Besides the ethical questions this throws up, it‘s a well-written thriller. Great character development for a short story, I was with them every step of the way. ★★★★★

– RED_BATI by Dilman Dila — a conscious pet robot fighting for its life and meaning on a mining ship. Read this before in Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora and found it a bit blander this time around. ★★★☆☆


Comics:

– Copra: Round One, DNF at 42 pages, eComic, StoryGraph #1 July, rip-off/homage of Suicide Squad, messy art, no plot.

– We Stand On Guard ★★★★★ eComic, StoryGraph #1 September, Canada is invaded by the US in a war for water.

– Saga #60 ★★★★★ eComic, the end of this arc. I cried.

– They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young, DNF at 47 pages, eComic, StoryGraph #2 September, teens with psychic powers, took too long to get going, didn‘t like the artwork.


Currently reading:

Ship of Magic, paper, I am about halfway and like it. Doorstopper of almost 900 pages, very dense, so this will take a few more weeks.

– How the Earth Works, audio, Great courses lectures.

– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry: #3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, all the other stories…


Specfic Movies & TV watched:

– Dune, new movie ★★★★★ re-watch. Part II end of 2023, why???

– Obi-Wan Kenobi, S1, Ep 6, season completed ★★★★☆ hard to come to a satisfying ending, when you know that they all live to fight another day.

– Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★★★☆ Entertaining, a little silly, a little absurd. I think I like my entertainment to be a little less wacky. Pretty forgettable, actually.

– A Discovery of Witches, S1 completed ★★★½☆ Meh. Read the blurb of books 2 + 3, most likely a pass.

– Resident Evil, S1 completed, Netflix series ★★★★☆

(- Night Sky, S1, Eps 3… not sure if I am all that interested in continuing….

– For All Mankind, S3, Eps. 1-3 ★★★★★ OMG, I wish this was real. So cool.


And last, but not least — I finally finished my Lego tree house…

Some statistics:

Just noticed—the format page only seems to be counting the finished books. Oh well…

Think of something cold….

Antarctica: Life on the Frozen Continent
by Conor Kilgallon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

East Antarctica, West Antarctica, Islands, Wildlife—each part of this book shows a different part on Antarctica, prefaced by a short text describing the specifics of that geographic region or chapter.

There are photographs of icebergs, sea ice, mountain ranges, ice shelves, quite a few penguins, seals and various signs of human exploration and habitation. Climate change makes a brief appearance as well, obviously. If the Ross ice shelf melts (the largest ice shelf in Antarctica), sea levels worldwide would rise by 15 meters. Scary thought. Generally this book focuses on the (still) beautiful aspects of our southernmost continent though.


My favourites were the photos showing wildlife, but there were a lot of stunning photos of icebergs, too.


A nice tabletop book for lovers of Antarctica and stark sceneries of ice, sea and sky.


I received an advanced copy of this book from Amber Books Ltd. through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. I read a pdf for review purposes, only physical books will be sold.

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…

My April 2022 Wrap-up

My April 2022 came with an unexpectedly high page count.

– Tangled Destinies ★★★★¾, fanfic, SF, online, one of my favourite Star Trek AOS fanfics. Re-read. I rarely read fanfic anymore, but sometimes it‘s a nice palate cleanser.
Taken ★★★★★ ebook, UF, Alex Verus #3, best so far.
– Enchanted Living, Summer 2019: #47 The Art Nouveau Issue ★★★☆☆ StoryGraph #2, eMag, some nice photos, too much fairyland, not enough Art Nouveau — I skimmed.
The Vampire Lestat ★★★★☆ paper, fantasy/horror, the exhaustive story of Lestat. Still good, but sometimes a bit verbose.
Amongst Our Weapons ★★★★☆ audio, UF, Peter Grant #9
– Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction ★★★☆☆ StoryGraph #1, paper, non-fiction, for aspiring writers of specfic — I skimmed.
– The Renegades Of Pern ★★★★☆ ebook, something old, something other, something new. Good fun.

Buddy Read — short story anthology: (ongoing)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six:
– AIRBODY by Sameem Siddiqui, Clarkesworld Magazine #163, April 2020 — renting the body of someone else via shared consiousness, nice idea with lots of possibilities. ★★★☆☆
– THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR by Nadia Afifi — the MC connects into the recording of another person‘s death. A trip of self-discovery. ★★★☆☆
– LONE PUPPETEER OF A SLEEPING CITY by Arula Ratnakar — probably not bad, but I couldn‘t work up any interest for the story. ★★☆☆☆

Comics:
Qinaya ★★★★★ hardcover, contemporary, Issue #1, French family adopts 4 year old Peruvian girl. Too cute for words. Surprising ending.
The Adoption: CE ★★★★½ eComic, with Dennis & Nataliya, full English version of the above.
– Unnatural #1 ★★¾☆☆ eComics, TBR pile, pig girl looking for love in a restrictive society.
– Seven To Eternity #1 ★★★☆☆ eComics, TBR pile, high fantasy meets the Wild West. Good artwork, meh story.
Slaughter-House Five ★★★★☆ eComics, TBR, graphic adaptation of Vonnegut‘s classic.
– Saga #58 ★★★★☆ eComics, Alana tries to keep her family afloat and takes on dubious jobs.

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– Picard, S2, Eps 1-9 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 — Very good, enjoying this more than S1. Could have done without the psychoanalysis and flashbacks of the last two episodes.
– Life 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 — great alien creature feature on the ISS with Ryan Reynolds, re-re-watch
– Raised by Wolves, S1 🐺🐺🐺🐺.75 — great start, very weird ending
– Wolfwalkers 🐺🐺🐺🐺.5 — beautifully done animation
– Interstellar 🚀🚀🚀🚀 — very imaginative
– The Adam Project ⏰⏰⏰⏰ — time travel with Ryan Reynolds
– A Monster Calls 👿 👿 👿 — animated YA monster story

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