Ghosts in the machine

The Furthest Station (Peter Grant, #5.5)
by Ben Aaronovitch (Goodreads Author),  Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Furthest Station (Peter Grant, #5.5)
by Ben Aaronovitch (Goodreads Author),  Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator) 

Ghosts on the Metropolitan Line. I wasn‘t all that interested in this novella, I mainly got it to listen to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Kobna delivered, but so did Ben Aaronovitch and Peter Grant. 

There was humour, there was non-plussed Peter and creepy Molly, curious Abigail and suave Nigthingale. The story was good, if not terribly exciting or overly suspenseful. I had a few laughs and enjoyed the ride.

Oh no, it‘s a heist story…

Made ThingsMade Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know Pinocchio, right? This is not his story. Here the Made Things or rather the homunculi come across as a separate world of clans and types with their own society and ecosystem. They connect with the world of humans via the help of the Moppet, aka our main character Coppelia.

This is a fantasy heist story. Not my favourite trope, it‘s usually too formulaic for my taste. Which this is, to some extent.

The story didn‘t do a thing for me. I actually considered to DNF this, but it probably doesn‘t do the story justice. I missed Tchaikovsky‘s humour. Maybe he is more suited to science fiction?

2.5 stars, rounded up (barely)

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Creepy AI

Summer FrostSummer Frost by Blake Crouch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story was ok. Matrix meets Terminator isn‘t quite right, but went through my thoughts anyway. The exploration of AI has an unusual start, but doesn‘t lead to anything new. What is awareness, what are the dangers and how do we protect ourselves?

Then there is some slight exploration of gender identity, but it‘s so peripheral that Crouch might just not have bothered. Skin colour is thrown in there, but not elaborated at all.

I do not completely believe the developmental process of AI that Crouch depicts here. I know that it‘s done like this on purpose, but I still don‘t buy it.

The twist at the end is well done. The parallels to the beginning of the story are a clever reflection.

The audio narration came across as boring at first. Unemotional and monotonous, as if the narrator had no interest in the story or in narrating it. Even „Gawd, you‘re sexy“ sounded anything but. Halfway into the story it either got better or I simply had gotten used to it.

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Creepy tunnels in space

Walking to AldebaranWalking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A bit odd, a spacefaring novelette and starting it by stumbling through a cave system.

The backstory is well told and the slow reveal of how Gary got to the present point is well done. Fun scenes, interesting aliens, growing creepiness factor… loved the aliens! So imaginative! Loved the humour, the general screwiness, the Britishness. Devious. I would like to spend more time on… never mind. Anything else I want to mention here would be a spoiler. I think the less you know, the more fun this will be.

I got strong vibes of a famous poem. And I have proof in the text that it was on purpose.

Be prepared to be screwed with. I sat up and scratched my head once or twice. I am contemplating to read this again soon. What little clues would I pick up, knowing the ending?

Not what I expected.

I might have said this before—I will have to really work on Tchaikovsky‘s back catalogue. Oh, and I just added him to my list of famous people I want to go to the pub with. Sorry, Adrian, but Quentin is still in the top spot, followed by Ethan and Joel.

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

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Depressing and almost unreadable

The Only Harmless Great ThingThe Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DNF at 21%. I found this to be almost unreadable. It took me three attempts to just get past the opening paragraphs. Overly wordy and constructed.

I made the effort to find out more about the events that Bolander took and merged to make her own novelette. Links below. Utterly depressing and horrible.

That combined with the overblown prose results in this: Not my thing. Sorry.

Background of the real-life Radium Girls:…

And details about the real-life elephant Topsy:…

Check out the details at…

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Messy mess!

Bob Honey Who Just Do StuffBob Honey Who Just Do Stuff by Pappy Pariah
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

What the heck did I just listen to? Dear Audible, thanks for this freebie. But OMG! Very, very weird.

Dear Sean Penn, please stick to acting and/or voice-acting, which you did very well here. But please stop writing, this was a complete and utterly undecipherable mess! Political activism, et cetera, I get it. But this was painful.

Frances McDormand, I love you! Please read me your shopping list!

Recommended: to nobody!

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Everything else is extra…

The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

„HEAD ABBOT SUNG of the Grand Monastery did not know it yet, but this night would change the course of all his days.“

Promising start to a fantasy novella with a strong chinese flavour. The author identifies as non-binary and the main characters as well, at least until they reach their teenage years…

“Sonami had just turned fifteen, yet still wore the genderfree tunic of a child, their hair cropped to a small square at the top of their head and gathered into a bun. They bowed, hands folded in deference.“

It is strange at first, then becomes normal and when eventually gendered pronouns crop up, they seem just as strange. Well done!

We are told the story of twins Moko and Akeha, with the latter part told through the eyes of Akeha.

I wasn‘t sure I would like this, because my track record with fantasy has been poor lately. But once the story picked up speed, I found it hard to put down. The writing and plot were also a lot more accessible as I had expected, based on the blurb and some quick glimpses at it over on

So, very pleasant surprise, I enjoyed this a lot and I will very likely pick up the next novella. I haven‘t looked it up yet, but I hope that it will perhaps tell the story again from the POV of Moko (ok, I peeked, it doesn‘t… but it sounds even better…).

A little something from the author‘s blog/website—My suggestion would be to read this after reading Black Tides, to not spoil yourself unduly:

And, oh yes, something that confused me quite a bit at first but that I eventually just went with: “Welcome to Ea. A planet where extreme weather carves through continents and seas. Where the sun rises and sets six times a day. Where immense monsters grow in bands of low gravity.“

Yep, the sun raises and sets six times a day. That was unusual. So, because the days were so short, people decided to lump three of them together, to make a longer day?

The magic system is fascinating, I really liked the visuals through The Slack and the concept of the Mechanics.

‘Nuff said, off to find the twin novella…

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Dream novella

I just found an apparently unposted draft, so here it is!

TraumnovelleTraumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fridolin and Albertine are married with a child. One evening Albertine confesses to Fridolin that she had sexual phantasies involving a man she had seen during their vacation. That sets off Fridolin on an exploration into his life, his wishes and desires.

In 1926, when this was originally published, it was probably a pretty scandalous book. My thoughts were more along the lines of “oh, another guy exploring his midlife crisis!” Which is probably really shallow of me. Eroticism is only one aspect of this novella. It looks at our dreams, our wants and how we deal with them.

Go read some of the other reviews, they looked at this properly and made an effort to give you a well rounded and educated idea about this famous piece.

The movie Eyes Wide Shut is based on this novella, but I have never watched it, so I can’t say how it compares.

The delivery of the German audiobook I listened to was pretty wooden.

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