October Wrap-up

BR novels:
– Monstress, Vol. 5, comic, ★★★★★, siege of a city, war, revelations about the past. This was good, although different to the previous ones. More of an ensemble cast and more focused on setting up the scene for that siege and the war that will probably pick up speed in the next volume.
– Dragonquest, paper, ★★★★★, fun 2nd Dragonriders book. Fire-lizards! I enjoyed this a lot and it was much better than I remembered it.
– The Only Good Indians, audio, ★★☆☆☆, revenge, indigenous people, hunting. Carry-over from last month. There were some good parts in this. Some of it I even liked. It just didn‘t come together well. 
– The Ministry for the Future: A Novel, ebook, Netgalley, ★★☆☆☆, DNF at 56%, climatefic, too little plot, more a collection of essays, too much economics, blockchain, weird surrealistic meta-fic somethings. The plot that was there, I liked. The rest bored me silly.

Ongoing BR:
– The Doors of Eden, audio, featured BR, 6 hours left, will finish in November… Good so far, I like it. Tchaikovsky writes well and is great at world-building. I have to get to his back catalogue one of these days.

Planned BR, but didn‘t read:
– The Butterfly Garden, ebook, didn‘t manage to squeeze it in and after reading a friend‘s review I am not sure if I want to. Postponed.

Solo reads:
– Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory, short, ★★★★☆, intermezzo for Mensah and Murderbot 
– Shakespeare’s Sonnets, poetry, ★★★★☆, read-along with Sir Pat on Instagram.
– BLAME! Vol. 4, manga, ★★★★☆, fighting and exploring the megastructure.

Plans for November:

BR novels:
– The White Dragon — started already! Fun!
– Phoenix Extravagant, netgalley 
– Conventionally Yours, netgalley — romance readers
– Great Expectations, read-along on wordpress — this will be postponed, month tbc

Poem a day

Shakespeare’s Sonnets
by William Shakespeare

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sir Patrick Stewart, lovely man, read Shakespeare’s sonnets on Instagram, one a day, starting in March 2020. It took a while. It was lovely to listen to his gorgeous voice and very relaxing. He must be the most adored man in social media. 

I did not listen to him daily, but rather had a peek now and then. I liked that Jonathan Frakes checked in one day and read a sonnet, too. And Ian McKellen visited for SirPatStew‘s 80st birthday.

I definitely need to revisit this at some point, as I haven‘t read or listened to enough of these sonnets. WIP.

50 classic German authors

50 Klassiker: Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass
by Joachim Scholl

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was at an open-air theater performance in Tübingen recently. The piece was from Hölderlin and I realized that I know virtually nothing about one of Germany‘s most important poets. So I got this reference book and a short biography about Hölderlin at the library. The biography I put down again pretty quickly. This collection of essays about important German authors was quite entertaining. Each author is covered in a biography of three to five pages, mixed up with portraits of the author, photos of his home or family, a few quotes and summary of the most important work. Each entry was finished with a one-pager for the hurried reader, boiling down the biography to the essentials, offering a short rating and further reading recommendations.

You know what is the most frustrating thing about this book referencing the 50 most important German authors? They are all men. In the introduction the author announces a separate edition for female authors. Why a separate edition? And where is it, 13 years after this one here was published?

Let me give you some examples of female German-language authors that did indeed have an impact on literature:

– Bettina von Arnim (*1785-1859)
– Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (*1797–1848)
– Ricarda Huch (*1864-1947 ), nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature seven times
– Else Lasker-Schüler (*1869–1945)
– Anna Seghers (*1900-1983)
– Ingeborg Bachmann (*1926 in Austria-1973) 
– Christa Wolf (*1929-2011)

Further reading in German:
– Auch ein Land der Dichterinnen und Denkerinnen, https://www.54books.de/auch-ein-land-…

You are welcome!

Back to this book… informative, well-written. The one-pager was printed with black type on a red background, which made for bad contrast and was not easy to read. I am knocking off a star for that and another one for the male bias.

One of Hölderlin‘s most famous poems:

Hälfte des Lebens

Mit gelben Birnen hänget
Und voll mit wilden Rosen
Das Land in den See,
Ihr holden Schwäne,
Und trunken von Küssen
Tunkt ihr das Haupt
Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.

Weh mir, wo nehm´ ich, wenn
Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo
Den Sonnenschein,
Und Schatten der Erde ?
Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen.

Half of Life

With its yellow pears
And wild roses everywhere
The shore hangs into the lake,
O gracious swans,
And drunk with kisses
You dip your heads
In the sobering holy water.

Ah, where will I find
Flowers, come winter,
And where the sunshine
And shade of the earth ?
Walls stand cold
And speechless, in the wind
The wheathervanes creak.

Hölderlin’s poems in English translation

July 2020 Wrap-Up

My July 2020:

BR novels:
– Limit, BR with Dennis, TBR challenge, ongoing & carry-over into August
– The Traitor Baru Cormorant, BR, ongoing & carry-over into August

– Dragonflight, as part of The Dragonriders of Pern, ★★★★☆, in the beginning there was a queen‘s dragon egg… Who wants to continue with this series?
– The City We Became, June SF GR, audible, ★★☆☆☆, not for me.

Solo reads:
– Lullaby for a Lost World, short, ★★★★★, magic comes at a high price. Vengeance!
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, HarryPotterAtHome, read by various actors (https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters), TBR challenge (most reviews/highest ratings), ★★★★☆, #HarryPotterAtHome
– Dwarf Stars 2020, poetry, ★★★★☆, SF poems of 10 lines or less.
– Grace Immaculate, short, ★★★★☆, first contact via SETI, alien aliens…
– Wohllebens Waldführer: Tiere & Pflanzen bestimmen, das Ökosystem entdecken, nonfiction, ★★★★☆, easy guide about 250 species of plants and animals in central Europe.
– David‘s Head, in Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 156, ★★★★☆, short story about a roadtrip with an AI
– 2389, ★★★☆☆, space horror brain candy.
– Das Seelenleben der Tiere: Liebe, Trauer, Mitgefühl – erstaunliche Einblicke in eine verborgene Welt, nonfiction, ★★★☆☆, the inner life of animals, pop science.

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Skyward #13, ★★★☆☆
– Skyward #14, ★★★☆☆
– Skyward #15, ★★★½☆, the end!
– Ascender #6, ★★★★☆
– Ascender #7, ★★★★½
– Sea of Stars #1, ★★★½☆
– Black Science #1, ★★☆☆☆, Lost in Space, travelling other dimensions.

Wanted to read, but didn‘t:
– Unconquerable Sun, BR, wasn‘t that interested anymore
– Ascender, Vol. 2: The Dead Sea, #8, 9 & 10, plan to read it eventually…

Skyward #13 by Joe Henderson Skyward #14 by Joe Henderson Skyward #15 by Joe Henderson Ascender #6 by Jeff Lemire Ascender #7 by Jeff Lemire Sea of Stars #1 by Jason Aaron Black Science #1 by Rick Remender 
Dragonflight (Pern Dragonriders of Pern, #1) by Anne McCaffrey Dwarf Stars 2020 by Robin Mayhall Grace Immaculate by Gregory Benford Wohllebens Waldführer Tiere & Pflanzen bestimmen, das Ökosystem entdecken by Peter Wohlleben 2389 by Iain Rob Wright Lullaby for a Lost World by Aliette de Bodard 
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling Das Seelenleben der Tiere Liebe, Trauer, Mitgefühl - erstaunliche Einblicke in eine verborgene Welt by Peter Wohlleben Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 156 by Neil Clarke 

Plans for August:
I am in the middle of several things that I need to finish. Plus there is a vague committment to read Shark Week related stuff… 😝

Say it in ten lines or less, again…

Dwarf Stars 2020
by Robin Mayhall (editor) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

So, my second, third, fourth and maybe fifth read through of this SF poetry anthology of very short poems…

I narrowed the selection of favourite poems down further and further. To make the decision easier, I looked for poems that created interesting imagery in my mind, wanting me to spin the story forward…

My favourite three: 

1. [seeing stars] • Christina Sng 
2. [stargazing on Olympus Mons] • Greer Woodward 
3. [hoping for the best …] • Johannes S. H. Bjerg 

seeing stars with

my final breaths

hull breach


These slightly longer ones are my runner-ups:

1. [Notes for the Next Letter Home] • Herb Kauderer 
2. [Balancing Act] • Deborah L. Davitt with D. A. Xiaolin Spires & Gretchen Tessmer 
3. [Standing Up] • John C. Mannone 

To be honest, if I read the whole anthology again in a few weeks, I would probably end up with a completely different set of poems!

Official website: https://www.sfpoetry.com/dwarfstars.html

Say it in ten lines or less…

Dwarf Stars 2020
by Robin Mayhall (editor) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

More SF poetry. The Dwarf Stars Award is an annual award, presented by the Science Fiction Poetry Association to the author of the best horror, fantasy or science fiction poem of ten lines or fewer, published in the previous year.

Official website: https://www.sfpoetry.com/dwarfstars.html

Here are the ones that I liked during my first read-through:

[The knife blade flutters] • Colleen Anderson 1
[hoping for the best …] • Johannes S. H. Bjerg 2
[she had broken] • Susan Burch 3
Balancing Act • Deborah L. Davitt with D. A. Xiaolin Spires & Gretchen Tessmer 4 
[space station yoga] • John J. Dunphy 5 
Erwin Schrodinger • Jean-Paul L. Garnier 7
[Feast of St. George—] • C.R. Harper 8 
Epitaph for John Carter • Herb Kauderer 9 
Notes for the Next Letter Home • Herb Kauderer 10 
[pi day] • Deborah P Kolodji 11
red shirts • David C. Kopaska-Merkel 12 
Standing Up • John C. Mannone 14 
Cold Weather Accessories for Imaginary Creatures • Lorraine Schein 17 
[the ghost wife] • Gloundan Smorpian 19 
[seeing stars] • Christina Sng 20 
[iron in the dunes] • Greer Woodward 22 
[stargazing on Olympus Mons] • Greer Woodward 23

I will go over them again and narrow them down more and more, until I am left with my 3 or 4 favourite ones…

June Wrap-up

Here is my June 2020:

It might look like a lot, but if you ignore the comics, it‘s only 2 novels and half an audiobook. 
I did enjoy How To Be A Normal Person and Boundary Crossed though. That one was a surprise anyway. I picked it for my TBR Challenge, not really checking that closely what it was about and going in with very low expectations. Lo and behold, it was fun.
I am however really struggling with City We Became. Great concept, really excellent audiobook narration, but the story itself is not doing it for me.

BR novels:
– How to Be a Normal Person, romance readers, ebook, ★★★½☆, grumpy guy romances asexual hipster.
– The City We Became, SF group read, audible, started & carry-over into July. 60% done and getting there…

Solo reads:
– Tell Me It’s Real, ebook, ★★★☆☆, mm-romance, humorous, DNF at 23%, didn‘t hold my interest enough to beat the expiry date of my KU subscription.
– Boundary Crossed, ebook, TBR challenge, ★★★★☆, typical UF with witches and vampires. Enjoyable.
– The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, short, TBR challenge, ★★★★☆, ethical dilemma, what are we willing to give up or live with for our privilege? 

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Civil War, ★★★★¼, entertaining and suspenseful, similarities to the movie.
– Doctor Strange, Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird, ★★★★¼, grimmer than expected. TBR challenge: Judge That Book (cover)
– Skyward #11, ★★★★☆, still trying to bring gravity back.
– Skyward #12, ★★★☆☆, not really buying this.
– Ms. Marvel Infinite #1, short, ★★★☆☆, introduction, little substance.
– Black Panther Start Here!, short, ★★★☆☆, Black Panther previews.
– Faith #1: Digital Exclusives Edition, short, ★★☆☆☆, supersized, flying superhero. Mostly boring.
– Vampirella Issue #1, short, ★★☆☆☆, boring vampires.
– Dead Irons #1, short, ★☆☆☆☆, Wild West with a werwolf, vampire, zombie… messy, no story, did really not like it.

Tell Me It's Real (At First Sight #1) by T.J. Klune Ms. Marvel Infinite #1 (Ms. Marvel Infinite Comics) by G. Willow Wilson Black Panther Start Here! (Marvel Previews) by Various Faith #1 Digital Exclusives Edition by Jody Houser Dead Irons #1 (Dead Irons Vol. 1) by James Kuhoric Vampirella Issue #1 by Eric Trautmann How to Be a Normal Person (How to Be, #1) by T.J. Klune Civil War by Mark Millar Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic, #1) by Melissa F. Olson The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin 
Doctor Strange, Vol. 1 The Way of the Weird by Jason Aaron Skyward #11 by Joe Henderson Skyward #12 by Joe Henderson 

Plans for July 2020:

BRs started:
– Limit, TBR challenge, started
– The Dragonriders of Pern (Dragonflight only), mid July, started already

BRs planned:
– The Traitor Baru Cormorant, mid to end July or August

Ongoing Solo reads:
– Hexarchate Stories, NetGalley, started
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, HarryPotterAtHome readings, up to chapter 10 with Whoopi Goldberg… (https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters), TBR challenge (most reviews/highest ratings)
– Dwarf Stars 2020, poetry

Want to read, but probably no time:
– Unconquerable Sun, July 7, Buddy Read
– Ascender, Vol. 2: The Dead Sea, #6-10

2020 Rhysling Anthology

And here is my final selection of poems for this anthology, based on my previously posted longlist:

Final round of Short Poems, narrowed down from the below longlist:

1. Sphere, page 20
2. All-Father, page 40
3. What You Hear When Your Best Friend Falls for a Supervillain, page 27

Those three could have ended up in any order. I read them several times, shuffled them around, read them again, shuffled again… it‘s impossible. Sphere and All-Father both immediately start my internal movie theater and my imagination spins off into the realm of a full novel…

1. The Snow Globe, page 76
2. Witch, page 54

And my final choice for the Long Poems, narrowed down from my longlist:

1. Sycophantam astrum, page 106
2. The City That Changed Hands, page 110
3. Stormbound, page 176

1. Heliobacterium daphnephilum, page 105
2. Childhood Memory from the Old Victorian House on Warner, page 109
3. Fune-RL, page 129 

What is this Rhysling thing, you ask? Have a look here: 

The SFPA Rhysling Awards and Anthology 

Monthly Wrap-up — May 2020

Thanks to a friend I discovered Kindle in Motion, aka kindle books with animated illustrations and small movies/gifs. Fascinating! I downloaded and paged through Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as a kindle in motion and it was really charming…

I am also in the process of listening to various actors etc. reading the book at https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters

Buddy Reads with friends:
– 2020 Rhysling Anthology, SF poetry, ★★★★☆
– Das Joshua-Profil, thriller, ★★☆☆☆, kidnapping, conspiracy, DNF at 36%
– A Hidden Fire, PNR, ★★★☆☆, an almost sparkly vampire and a librarian…
– Network Effect, SF novel, ★★★☆☆, Murderbot fluffed up to novel length
– The Walking Dead, Vol. 9: Here We Remain, comic, ★★★½☆, the survivors gather and start into the unknown.
– The Walking Dead, Vol. 10: What We Become, comic, ★★★★☆, Abraham is a hard guy to like!
– Pandemic, popcorn horror, ★★★☆☆, zombies Down Under.

2020 Hugo Award Finalist / Best Short Story:
– “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing” (Strange Horizons, 9 September 2019) , ★★★☆☆, revenge story set in colonial India.
– As the Last I May Know (Tor.com, 23 October 2019), ★★★★½, decisions and consequences.
– Blood Is Another Word for Hunger (Tor.com, 24 July 2019), ★★☆☆☆, a slave girl and her revenge.
– “A Catalog of Storms” (Uncanny Magazine Issue 26: January/February 2019), ★★☆☆☆, climate fic, pretty abstract.
– “Do Not Look Back, My Lion” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #270), ★★★☆☆, war, loss, betrayal, hope.
– “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island” (Nightmare Magazine, Issue 80), ★★½☆☆, reads like footnotes, about colonialism and feminist cannibals.

Solo reads / comics & manga:
– Paper Girls #1, comic, ★★★★★, Stranger Things meets War of The Worlds?
– Paper Girls, Vol. 1, comic, ★★★★☆
– Gon: Volume 1, manga, ★★★☆☆, cute little T-Rex, b&w, wordless story telling.
– Overwatch #1: Train Hopper, comic, ★★★☆☆, Wild West meets SF.
– The Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the Hunters, comic, ★★★★☆, more shockers…
– The Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them, ★★★★☆, Alexandria
– Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #1, ★★☆☆☆, very little plot.
– James Bond #1, ★★★☆☆
– What If? Planet Hulk (2007) #1, ★★★☆☆
– Divinity #1 (of 4): Digital Exclusives Edition, ★★☆☆☆

Other solo reads:
– Blast Off to the Moon!, picture book, ★★★★☆, explaining the moon phases…
– Sauerteig: Echtes Brot und mehr, cookbook, ★★★☆☆, complicated and high maintenance, but very pretty…
– Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: Practical Recipes & Techniques for the Home Baker with Almost No Kneading, ★★★★★, very please with this practical, unfussy baking book!
– Feast of Stephen, short story, ★★★★☆, snippet from a series I like.

– lots of Star Trek and Stargate Atlantis from http://keiramarcos.com/fan-fiction/

Blast Off to the Moon! (Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog) by Lauren Gunderson The Walking Dead, Vol. 9 Here We Remain by Robert Kirkman A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries, #1) by Elizabeth Hunter Paper Girls #1 by Brian K. Vaughan Sauerteig Echtes Brot und mehr by Sarah Owens Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5) by Martha Wells Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan Gon Volume 1 (Gon) by Masashi Tanaka The Walking Dead, Vol. 10 What We Become by Robert Kirkman Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling 
As the Last I May Know by S.L. Huang Uncanny Magazine Issue 26 January/February 2019 by Lynne M. Thomas Overwatch #1 Train Hopper by Robert Brooks Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #270 by Scott H. Andrews Nightmare Magazine, Issue 80 (May 2019) by John Joseph Adams The Walking Dead, Vol. 11 Fear the Hunters by Robert Kirkman Critical Role Vox Machina Origins II #1 by Jody Houser Artisan Sourdough Made Simple Practical Recipes & Techniques for the Home Baker with Almost No Kneading by Emilie Raffa Feast of Stephen (A Charm of Magpies, #3.5) by K.J. Charles The Walking Dead, Vol. 12 Life Among Them by Robert Kirkman 
James Bond #1 by Warren Ellis What If? Planet Hulk (2007) #1 by Greg Pak Divinity #1 (of 4) Digital Exclusives Edition by Matt Kindt Das Joshua-Profil by Sebastian Fitzek Pandemic (Plague War #2) by Alister Hodge The 2020 Rhysling Anthology by David C. Kopaska-Merkel 

That was a lot more reading material than I had planned. The comics/manga consist of some shorter issues, so they were very quick reads.

No audiobook this month and I did not miss it. My audible subscription is suspended until July and I keep thinking of cancelling it all together.

I am quite pleased that I decided to read the Hugo nominated short stories, although I did not rate them all that well. Which reminds me to look up the comics finalists again and to check who won the Nebulas…

First round of poems…

The 2020 Rhysling Anthology
by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What is this Rhysling thing, you ask? Have a look here:

The SFPA Rhysling Awards and Anthology

Another foray into SF poetry, this time as a buddy read. I am going to list my favourites, bundle them in groups of five or six and pick a favourite from those, and so on, until I am left with my three favourites for short and long poems: (inspired by Diane, thank you!)

Short Poems First Published in 2019, liked the most during my first two read-throughs:

1. Sphere, page 20
2. New Stars, page 22 
3. Ten-Card Tarot, Pentacles Wild, page 23
4. The Ruined Library, page 24
5. Fallen But Not Down, page 25 

1. My Ghost Will Know The Way, page 25
2. A Purring Cat is a Time Machine, page 26 
3. What You Hear When Your Best Friend Falls for a Supervillain, page 27
4. Continuum, page 28
5. Halsted IV, page 31

1. The Journey, page 32 
2. Robert Goddard at Roswell, page 37
3. All-Father, page 40
4. How to Colonize Ganymede, page 53
5. To Skeptics, page 54

1. Witch, page 54
2. Creation: Dark Matter Dating App, page 58
3. Abeona, Goddess of Outward Journeys, Pilots the Interstellar Ark, page 58
4. If All the Seas Were Blood, page 64
5. Óòjí Íjè [Kola Journey], page 65

1. Huitzilopochtli, page 75
2. The Snow Globe, page 76
3. The Wolfman and Space Girl, page 78
4. No Fairy Tale World, page 81
5. Three of Swords, King of Cups, page 82 
6. The Root King´s Winter, page 85

Long Poems First Published in 2019, liked the most during my first read-through:

1. Afterlife, page 96
2. Maculation, page 99
3. Heliobacterium daphnephilum, page 105
4. Sycophantam astrum, page 106
5. Childhood Memory from the Old Victorian House on Warner, page 109

1. The City That Changed Hands, page 110
2. Fune-RL, page 129
3. The Cinder Girl Burns Brightly, page 132
4. The Woman Who Talks to her Dog on the Beach, page 137
5. The Making of Dragons, page 154

1. Keep My Course True, page 159
2. Why Not?, page 161
3. Stormbound, page 176
4. In The End, Only The Gods, page 189
5. Driven, page 196
6. The Wolf Isn‘t The Only One Who Hides in Human Clothes, page 208

The long poems were more difficult for me. I am not going to read all of them again, instead I will now move onto picking favourites from the above.

To be found here: http://sfpoetry.com/ra/pages/20rhysli…

Detours inspired by this anthology:

– Old Houses by Lizette Woodworth Reese – https://poets.org/poem/old-houses
– Robert Hutchings Goddard – https://roswell-nm.gov/348/Robert-H-G…
– The Root Queen’s Winter by Jessica P. Wick – https://enchantedlivingmagazine.com/t…
– Good Neighbors by JESSICA P. WICK – https://uncannymagazine.com/article/g…

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet,

Eating her curds and whey;

Along came a spider,

Who sat down beside her,

And frightened Miss Muffet away.