Eleven millions…

In my last post I counted from one to 10 in book titles. Let‘s see how far I can get. Here is #11…

Amanda & The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer
by Carol de Chellis Hill

Amanda is an astronaut who roller-skates through the halls of NASA, and a subparticle physicist who can enter the mind of Mary Shelley. With her magical cat, Schrödinger, she finds herself in confrontation with the ultimate seductress, the eleven million mile high dancer.

From the blurb

I really liked this, when I read it as a teenager. But during my re-read I could not get into it at all. It was very quirky and as such should have kept me interested. But I was just bored. Perhaps it was too off the wall. Or it was too introspective with too little actual story progression. I am not sure. It just did not seem to be moving.

Top Ten Tuesday, counting to 10…

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 / September 13: Books with numbers in the titles

Let‘s see if I manage from one to ten on my shelf of read books…

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)
by Ilona Andrews

I first read this as an online serial on Ilona Andrews’ website, which took most of 2016. I had fun reading the weekly bits and agonizing over them with my reading buddies. However, reading a finished book in one go is a more cohesive affair. It runs smoother, you can read as long as you want, no waiting for the next gripping bit. Also more editing and small improvements on various details. Plus a maturer rating.

“Look, it can be fast, good, or cheap. You can have any two but never all three.”

― Ilona Andrews, One Fell Sweep

Two Ravens and One Crow (The Iron Druid Chronicles #4.3)
by Kevin Hearne

You read that right. I purposefully did not pick The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien… 😜 Instead I picked a short story from The Iron Druid Chronicles. A fun series, if you manage to ignore that a 2000-year-old druid is this dumb and juvenile.

Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1)
by Kelly Meding

Great fun! I almost read it in a day. Our heroine is a bounty hunter for all things that go bump in the night. There are shapeshifters, vampires, bridge trolls, the fey… Nothing really unusual or terribly new, but an entertaining read nonetheless, if you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Carrie Vaughn.

The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume Four
by Chuck Dixon, Robert Jordan

Another attempt to make headway with this series. I got a very nice hardback edition. Starts with chapter 27 of the book, Shelter From the Storm, and ends with chapter 34 of the book, The Last Village.

Very close to the book. The artwork is nothing breath taking, but well done. Especially the cover gallery in the back has some very nice images.

This takes place roughly in the middle of The Eye of The World, which dragged for me. The pacing of the comic is not much different. I liked it, but it didn‘t tempt me to get another volume right away. If I saw some WoT comics in a second hand store at a reduced price, maybe…

Five Quarters of the Orange
by Joanne Harris

Framboise is running a creperie in a small village in rural France. She spent her childhood years during WWII in this village, but nobody knows that. She now lives under another name, to protect a dark secret in her past. One day her nephew and his wife appear at her doorstep, to ask for the use of her name and recipes. When she refuses – to protect her true identity – she quickly realises that they will stop at nothing to get those recipes. But she is not easily defeated. And while she struggles against her nephew, she tells us her story….. Very good book, recommended! Great storytelling.

Rainbow Six (Jack Ryan Universe, #10)
by Tom Clancy

Unusual, as it is one of the rare books where Jack Ryan is not the main character. John Clark is not as black and white and makes for an interesting character. There is the usual body count and a lot of gadgets, all in all a solid thriller.

Sherlock Holmes: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
by David Tipton,  Scott Tipton,  Ron Joseph (Illustrations) 

I have the seen the movie several times, it is one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes movies. 

This is a very close retelling of the story. The dramtic chase and the big reveal of Holmes’ secret at the end are well done, as well as the artwork. An enjoyable read and a surprising take on the life of the great detective. Sherlock Holmes fans should not miss this.

Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels with a Mule from Ecuador to Cuzco
by Dervla Murphy

I really wanted to like this, but after spending ages getting past the first 50 pages I decided to give up. The great thing about travel literature is the things that happen on the way. But as far as I got, the main thing was going up the mountain, over the mountain, down the mountain…. And I did not think the descriptions of the most likely stunning scenery were very good either. Very disappointing.

Nine Last Days on Planet Earth
by Daryl Gregory

Free short story on Tor.com.

“When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely.“

https://www.tor.com/2018/09/19/nine-last-days-on-planet-earth-daryl-gregory/

I‘m Groot! Interesting. I liked it, fascinating take on evolution and alien invasion, great character development. I felt with LT and almost cried with him at the end. Not sure if I am a fan of that quasi open ending. 

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That Will Improve and/or Ruin Everything
by Kelly Weinersmith,  Zach Weinersmith

My NetGalley version only consisted of the introduction and the first two chapters: How to get into space cheaply and asteroid mining. Once I realized that, I mostly skimmed and just perused a bit here and there.

Entertaining, amusing style, that borders on slightly silly. Amusing, very simple comic strips—I recommend reading the ebook version on something that allows colour. Easy to understand explanations of complex topics. Space elevators, reusable rockets, Elon Musk and the odd Star Trek joke make an appearance.

It‘s ok, if you are looking for something light to flick through, when you have a few minutes to spare. Coffee table reading, mostly decorative.

Expanding…

Babylon’s Ashes (The Expanse, #6)
by James S.A. Corey

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

“We are not people, we are the stories that are told about people by others. Inners, Belters, women…“

I just read my first review and have to say that this book has not improved for me over time. It was good, but I could have stopped reading it at any time. It took me for ever to get through it. Very, very generously rounded up to four stars, because I do love all the main characters.

What I can say now though: this would have made a good final book for the series, because it nicely wraps up the major plotlines.

“Against all evidence, I keep thinking the assholes are outliers.” 

James Holden, in one of the last chapters

Review of first read, February 2018:

Very quotable one hour into the narration. Yay for Bobbi and Avrasarala being there! Great one-liners, the usual humour.

Unfortunately the first half of the book did not interest me much, I felt no compelling need to pick up the book and continue. First time that happened to me with an Expanse book. It made me go back to the previous books and 5-star those with 4 stars, so I would have room to move. 9 hours into the book it still wasn’t doing much for me. 

I care very little for Filip, his father and what they are up to. That trend continued for the rest of the story. I loved Holden and his crew, how Peaches and Bobby became part of the Rocinante family, the glimpses of Avrasarala, the dry humour… the plot just wasn‘t happening for me. It didn‘t add much to the world of the Expanse and there were no interesting new characters either. The guys on Medina station were depicted too briefly to elicit much of an emotional response from me.

This felt a bit like filler. Wrapping up some things from the previous book and setting the scene for the next one. Filling the gaps. A bit meh. Compared to other things I read over the years a pretty good filler, but filler nonetheless.

I give it four starts for the love of the series, but it was really more of a just-ok-3-stars.

Not smelling of roses for me

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1)
by Tade Thompson

Rating: 2 out of 5.

An alien lands on Earth, burrows into the ground and presents as a illuminated dome. A shanty town develops around it. Eventually there is a opening through which something escapes and heals people. A city called Rosewater springs up around the alien dome, benefitting from these regular healings. 

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. The three timelines felt aimless, without purpose and never came together in a satisfying way for me. The author frequently lost me with all those jumps.

Kaaro is a thief, he is sexist, he feels like a clueless, self-centered, mysoginistic idiot to me. He is not interested in anything and meanders around aimlessly, propelled by others.

The trilogy is called „Wormwood Trilogy“. This nagged at me, so I googled it. Aha! Look for yourself, I am not telling… Suffice to say, this went in the direction I expected. And it also didn‘t. The ending felt anticlimactic.

I can appreciate the inventive world building, but the rest was a slog. The whole thing felt pretty pointless to me and I actively disliked Kaaro and especially his weird obsession with sex and his various orgasms. It was slightly disturbing and off-putting. 

I was mostly bored and heavily skimmed the last third of the book.

As the book won various awards and many of my friends liked it, I can only assume that I read this wrong. I will definitely not read the other two books of this trilogy and will also not recommend this to anybody. However, I did like something else by the author, The Murders of Molly Southbourne. Also disturbing, but with pacing and plot that were more my thing. Not an enjoyable main character either though.

More cautionary tales…

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories
by Kel McDonald

More cautionary tales…

The Night Marchers by Jonah Cabudol-Chalker (illustrator, Hawaii) & Kate Ashwin (writer, UK) ★★★☆☆

A positive ghost story. Nice page layouts. Very short.

The Legend of Apolaki and Mayari by Kim Miranda ★★★★☆

What a pretty story with nice sketches! Brother and sister end up fighting each other… Philippines again. Very simple, but I really liked the artwork.

Nanuae the Sharkboy by Gen H. ★★★★☆

And Hawaii… good story! There is shapeshifting (yay!), sharks (yay!) and the story is told a lot through images instead of text, which was done well. The ending was a bit abrupt.

Thousand Eyes by Paolo Chikiamco & Tintin Pantoja ★★★★☆

And the Philippines again… about a girl that seems to be lazy and gives her mother some trouble. Of the stories included here, this looks the most like a comic. Another good one, with a sci-fi twist this time.

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

From Rosewater to Watchmen…

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1) by Tade Thompson

“She pours two black coffees into identical mugs that sport yellow smiley faces with a linear red smudge at the eleven o’clock position.“

page 42  14.09% 

I know that one! Read the comic and saw the movie…

Watchmen by Alan Moore,  Dave Gibbons

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Full review of that one is here… Not really a winner for me. I might have liked the movie a little better.

I came past other things that hinted at something. Some of them I recognized, others I didn‘t. Thompson added quite a few goodies like that…

What are you willing to do for love?

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)
by Ann Leckie,  Adjoa Andoh (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A re-read. This is not a love story, it’s a story of revenge.

“If that’s what you’re willing to do for someone you hate, what would you do for someone you love?” 

Breq is willing to do quite a lot. A lot of subtle tones that I missed the first time around and almost missed again during my second read. A many layered narrative, where you have to peel off layers to get to the heart of it all. My favourite part is still the evolving relationship between Breq and Seivarden. And the parts of the story set on Ors. Good stuff and worth the awards this book won.

“Choose my aim, take one step and then the next. It had never been anything else.” 


Review from my first read in March 2017:

The beginning was a little confusing. Might be due to it being an audiobook, it’s a fairly new medium for me. Here are my slightly spoilerish thoughts.

Breq’s voice in the audibook works well for the character. I didn’t find her too neutral or emotionless. In the beginning she almost felt childlike, exploring and getting to know her world. As the book went on, she gained more emotions and more of a personality.

I found some of the dialects of the other characters a bit weird. Some of the voices in the audiobook also sounded a bit “too much” and not natural to me. But they all grew on me eventually.

It’s interesting that Breq used a female pronoun for all other characters, until she could figure out if they were male or female. And even then she often stuck to the female version. It made for an unusual reading experience. Ultimately it made no difference, if a character was male or female. Which was perhaps the point of the whole idea.

What I did find a bit difficult with the audiobook: Telling the other characters apart. And it was slightly annoying that I couldn’t see the spelling of the various names and places.

I liked the timeline alternating from chapter to chapter. The story only really took off for me with the convergence of both plotlines. I liked the story before that, too. But the pace was a bit too leisurely. The last 30% of the book finally picked up speed.

My personal highlight was the development of the relationship between Breq and Seivarden. The conclusion of the book’s underlieing conflict in contrast to that was just ok. Smart, but nothing earth shattering. Nice ending. And I am fairly certain that I will pick up the next book.

Sorry for my fairly lame review, literary mastermind I am not. Bottom line, I liked the book. A bit slow at times. Good plot. Good world building. Interesting characters. Loved Ors, loved Seivarden and the relationship of her and Breq. The last few chapters were fun. One gripping moment full of sadness. Good stuff.

„Xiaolongbao: Soup Dumplings“ is forthcoming in Clarkesworld

For fans of D.A. Xiaolin Spires…

Happy to announce that my story „Xiaolongbao: Soup Dumplings“ is forthcoming in Clarkesworld Magazine. Also excited about Clarkesworld’s upcoming …

„Xiaolongbao: Soup Dumplings“ is forthcoming in Clarkesworld!

I thought I would have several of her short stories on my shelf, but found only one:

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 147
by Neil Clarke. (Editor),  D.A. Xiaolin Spires

Marshmallows by D.A. XIAOLIN SPIRES, 3430 words, ★★★☆☆

A world that has gotten so gruesome and dilapidated that people on their daily commute use visual and auditory enhancements to see a more appealing world. I did not like the storytelling much per se, but the idea was interesting enough.

She herself called this her augmented reality holiday story at her blog. She also mentions being inspired by another short story, Stepping Out Of Stream by Marie Vibbert. Although that one was even shorter, I liked it more for where it took me as a reader.

Can be found for free here

First Line Friday — Rosewater

First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab your nearest book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.


Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1), Book 1 of the Wormwood Trilogy, Winner of the Nommo Award for Best Novel, by Tade Thompson

I’m at the Integrity Bank job for forty minutes before the anxieties kick in. It’s how I usually start my day.

I just started this last night, so I haven’t read much yet. So far very good!

Part of my #ReadBIPOC2021 challenge. The challenge for August is this: Celebrating Award Winning Authors for the Reading Writers of Color Challenge.

If I have the time and inclination, I might pick up one of these for the challenge as well:

In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down.

In this epic saga of magic and kungfu, four siblings battle rival clans for honor and power in an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

Catching up with the Reversereadathon

Good morning! So, I stayed up a little longer last night to catch the beginning of the readathon. Read a few pages in my ebook—not making much headway with it yet—and listened to one of my audiobooks for a bit. Woke up shorty after 9 a.m., lay in bed and listened to my audio for an hour. I felt really knackered, when I finally got up. Still feel knackered, actually.

Puttered around with my tomatoes—a friend thinks they have some kind of illness, so I cut off some of the uglier leafs. No idea. Then I got my sourdough loaf out of the fridge and carefully decanted it into the prepared baking tin. I am useless with the whole shaping thing. My dough is always so soft, if I try to do it, I always end up with a really big mess.

Anyway, books! While I was sleeping, this happened…

Hour 3 – exploring the online bookworld

What are some of your favorite bookish sites online? Do you have any book blogs or booktubers you like to follow for reading suggestions (or just for fun)? Do you have a book blog or other bookish social media site?

You are currently reading my bookblog, I am on Goodreads and I use Netgalley. Sometimes I add bookish photos to my Instagram. In the early days I used Livejournal for blogging. I also used Librarything for a few years and although I was quite active for a while, I eventually found it too chaotic and visually unappealing and moved to GR permanently. I tried some smaller sites, but was never really happy. My favourite buddy reading group is where I spend most of my time there and we did indeed start having the odd Zoom meeting during Covid!

I follow a few bookbloggers via WordPress, but I am crap at keeping up and I am not very persistent or regular. I apologize! I do have a look every now and then! I do not follow any booktubers. Idk, I just find it deeply odd somehow to watch people talking about books.

Hour 5 – the weirdest place you‘ve read

… tell us some of the weirdest places you’ve read! Have you ever gotten any looks or comments about it?

Where haven‘t I read? Brushing my teeth, in the cinema waiting for the film to start, boarding a plane… The oddest one is probably reading a physical book whilst walking. That was before the days of smartphones and audiobooks, obviously. Nowadays I just listen and walk. These days, whenever and whenever I have to wait for something, I read on my smartphone. Which is nothing unusual, half the world stares at a smartphone at any given time. Other places? Anywhere sitting down, really. Mainly with my kindle. I‘ve been know to read in hotel elevators on my way down to the restaurant, where I obviously continue reading. The elevator thing probably garners me odd looks.

Hour 7 – how do you read?

What books are on your TBR for this reverse readathon?

How do I read? Well, mostly on my kindle paperwhite. I always have one audiobook on the go. I read a lot of comics, mainly via kindle app or comixology app on my iPad, so I have a large screen and can zoom in.

Hour 9 – summer book recommendations

I don‘t get this whole summer / winter thing. I read what I read and the weather or season doesn‘t influence my decisions. Do you vary your reading based on the seasons and why?

Hour 11 – hobbies in books

I started sourdough baking during the first lockdown. And yes, I have read some cozy mysteries and romances involving sourdough. For example Sourdough by Robin Sloan. I am open for recommendations!

I recently came across knitting vampires, so there are all kinds of funny themes around… Tomato-growing werewolves? Not yet. Wasn’t there some fierce gardening in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)?

Ok, I think I am caught up enough. I will now return to actually reading something… oh, and I should probably switch on my oven! 😏