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

She has no boundaries…

Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic, #1)
by Melissa F. Olson (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

New to me author. I liked it. Fairly typical UF without any great revelations. Mundane person discovering that she is in fact someone with supernatural talents. Not just that, she is extra special.

Lex is a likeable and tough character, with an army background and two tours abroad, a boisterous and supportive family and a baby niece in danger. Her history makes her kick-ass demeanor and fight scenes believable, although there are fewer fights than I would have expect from this type of UF.

I like the setting and place descriptions. The magic system could have done with more—Lex’s magic was explained nicely, but the rest not at all. Some of the supporting characters were a bit flat, but good for the first book of a series. My only serious grievance—these were probably the most uninteresting and unscary vampires I have ever encountered.

Loved the herd and my favourite tool were the shredders.

This has potential and when I feel like reading UF again, I will probably pick up the sequel to this.

This was my TBR challenge pick for June. My TBR pile is pretty humble compared to what other people stack up, but still—I would like to make more of a dent in it. So I make an effort to pick up something either from the depths of my kindle or from my physical bookshelf. This one here sounded the most interesting of the books stuck on my kindle‘s last inventory page…

Off The Grid Readathon in July

The July edition of the Off The Grid Readathon is fast approaching! It begins on July 17th and ends at midnight on the 19th. For all of the details, …

Off The Grid Readathon Announcement!!!

What’s the challenge, you ask? Simple – read a book written by a black author!

On it already, as I am currently listening to this audiobook:

The City We Became (Audible Audio)
by N.K. Jemisin (Goodreads Author) 

My first full-length Jemisin. I am about four hours into it. I‘ve met Manhatten, Brooklyn, Staten Island And the Bronx. Not quite sure what to make of the prologue yet. Might have to listen to it again. I snoozed halfway through chapter five in bed last night, so I will have to listen to that one again as well. The audio narration is excellent! There are post production sounds in the background that give it depth and the narrator does a great job by herself. Recommended, if you plan to get this book!

Hidden sparkles…

A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries, #1)
by Elizabeth Hunter

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Is he a vampire or maybe not? Does he sparkle? Is he truly the nice guy he presents? An immortal softie on a mission? 

I really liked the beginning of the book, the characters and the set-up. The backdrop story of Renaissance Florence offered great opportunities. 

Sadly, the middle part was entirely bland and lacked any kind of suspense. The interesting beginning flattened out, the romance was lackluster, the mystery did not really evolve. Everything just trickled along at a snail‘s pace. By the time the bad guy finally showed up, I had almost given up hope.

The book mostly takes place in Houston, Texas. Another missed opportunity to create atmosphere, as this setting was not explored and could have been anywhere. 

The relationship between Giovanni and Casper was also pretty superficial, considering their circumstances.

The last part of the book was more interesting again, but did not rock my boat. Not sure why this is tagged as romance and PNR. It reminded me a little of Anne Rice, strangely enough.

Bottomline, not much of a romance, not much of an entertaining UF romp. It was ok, the vampires were a little different to the usual fare. I doubt I will continue with the series.

– Johann Sebastian Bach, Preludes and Fugues
– Eric Satie, Gymnopédie No. 1

Alternative reading list:
– Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
– Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities
– Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy
– https://www.graywolfpress.org

Art to appreciate:
– Mark Rothko‘s black canvases, http://www.rothkochapel.org
– Fernand Léger‘s paintings
– https://www.widewalls.ch/surrealist-p…
– https://www.menil.org/collection

Decent shifter UF

Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #1)
by Annie Bellet

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The blurb reminded me strongly of the Iron Druid Chronicles. Hiding away, comic and gaming shop owner, stranger showing up and things start going sideways. Fast-paced, slightly juvenile vocabulary, nothing too serious. There was‘t a lot of character development and the world building was pretty basic, too. For a little over 100 pages it was decent enough. The shifter set-up is different to what I have come across before. And the powers of our heroine have potential and a certain interesting ickiness. Probably more fun for gaming and role-playing nerds. There is the required Instalust, but it‘s at a bearable level. Apparently he is sticking around, so sex is on the horizon. All boxes checked.

Better than expected. I can see myself picking this series up again at some point.

Heute back ich, morgen brau ich, …

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Holy doorways, Batman,” I said. “We have an entrance to Underhill in our backyard.”

And apparently marriage problems. And some annoying and unnecessary drama. Interesting things happening, too. Underhill shows up again, obviously.

I am really struggling with my review though. My reading buddies all seem to have liked this a lot. And I am giving it four stars as well, just because it‘s Mercy Thompson and it was a quick, fun read that made me laugh out loud.

Something was missing though or maybe there was just too much of a „middle-book syndrome“, as one of my GR friends put it. I kept waiting for some BAM!-moment that never came.

I can‘t quite put my finger on it. The whole „other space“ angle could have done with more development, maybe? And the relationships and interactions between the characters never got past the bare bones. The ending felt rushed? And in my opinion the whole situation concerning Adam really was just half of a book. Book #13 beckons, I guess.

On the other hand I was really pleased with myself for figuring out the who-is-who, aka the name not to be mentioned. Usually I am clueless until the last moment. Was it just so obvious?

Oh yes, extra points for her old friend showing up again! I was a little non-plussed at the sudden appearance.

Time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:

A meandering river…

False Value (Rivers of London, #8)False Value by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loved all the pop culture references, as usual. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams features heavily. There is also Terminator, Tolkien, James Bond and a few others.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does an excellent job again as a narrator, although in my opinion his American accents are crap. Sorry! 🙂

This book pointed me in the direction of apparently legendary movie set designer Kent Adam. Thanks for that, great stuff!

Possibly my favourite character, although she didn‘t have much page-time: Foxglove. She made me laugh. And FYI, Peter pictures himself as Colin Salmon.

Could his mum please bring me tupperware with left-overs twice a week as well? That would be fab!

So, that leaves me with the story. I liked the alternating timeline in the beginning, it was a nice puzzle. There are some good scenes, I had a few laughs, the drones were a pretty nifty design. But in total the story was not very exciting. The bad guy was not really a bad guy, the climax was almost non-existent. Meh. The plot sort of meanders along, picking up a clue here or there. I think maybe Aaronovich got lost a little in irrelevant details and the pursuit of funny moments. Even in the second half of the book I had problems keeping the characters straight. I had to listen to the last hour twice, because I feel asleep during my first listening. Asleep! In the last hour! Yeah, so, this was not it.

PS: No, I don‘t miss the Faceless Man or Lesley. That story arch dragged on entirely too long anyway.

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#StayHome24in48 #StayHome #WirBleibenZuhause

Hour Zero: Social Distancing #24in48 Readathon

Helloooo Readers! While this is not exactly the situation in which we’d hoped to be back with you, we are happy to be able to gather our little …

Hour Zero: Social Distancing #24in48 Readathon

My current reading list:

False Value (Rivers of London #8) by Ben Aaronovitch (Goodreads Author),  Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator)

Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson #11) by Patricia Briggs

The Walking Dead: The Best Defense (The Walking Dead (Collected Editions) #5) by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie AdlardCliff Rathburn

These are all in progress, updates will follow.

Where the wild things are…

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5; Mercy Thompson World - Complete, #15)Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not much to add to my first review. The famous conversation came out of the blue and did not sit well with the rest of the story. So I am really looking forward to finding out if this topic will get a lot more coverage in the next Mercy novel coming out this month. Why else even stick it in there, as it was never mentioned in any of the many previous books.
This time around I did not know who the bad guy was and really only clocked on in the last moment. The story didn‘t keep me up at night, but it was good. I liked the look at the various wildlings and loved the altercation with the vikings. Fun!
Onwards to the last book of my re-read!

P.S.: Forgot about that playlist down there. This book is the reason I started to actually listen to Dolly Parton. I recently watched a documentary about her on Netflix. Turns out she is not the dumb, enhanced bimbo she looks like! Why do women do that to themselves? I will never understand that…

Reading order and progress of my chronological Mercyverse re-read:(view spoiler)
– Next: Storm Cursed, ★★★★★, Mercy #11
– Next: Smoke Bitten, pub date March 2020, Mercy #12

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:

First read in 2018: ★★★★☆

Very early in the book there is a brief conversation between Charles and Anna, that upset some of my goodreads friends quite a bit. It might cause them to stop reading this series and also Mercy Thompson. I was surprised when I read that conversation, mulled it over a little, but was not massively perturbed by it. It might or might not be a plot bunny for later books, we shall see.

Unfortunately the comment thread of that review had spoiled me by revealing who the traitor in this story is. That obviously took some of the suspense out of the story.

The plot as such was pretty straight forward and simple, the action was good, we get a deeper look into Anna‘s ever developing skills with her gift. Leah gets some page time that helps to make her a more interesting character. I liked it, solid addition to the series.

Johnny Cash, Hurt
Bobby Dylan, Knockin‘ On Heaven‘s Door
Waylon Jennings, I‘ve Always Been Crazy
Johnny Cash, Personal Jesus
Patsy Cline, Crazy
Dolly Parton, The Company You Keep

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Matt Smith is not The Doctor…

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mercy is kidnapped. Took long enough into the series to happen. This is the one set in Europe. I vaguely remembered liking it a lot, for the sheer difference in scenery. And other things. Larry, for example. Great addition to the cast of characters!
And The Doctor—I missed it again! Next time I will pay more attention…

Reading order and progress of my chronological Mercyverse re-read:(view spoiler)
– Next: Burn Bright, ★★★★☆, Alpha & Omega #5
– Next: Storm Cursed, ★★★★★, Mercy #11
– Next: Smoke Bitten, pub date March 2020, Mercy #12

Complete time-line for the “Mercyverse”, including the short stories:

First read in 2017: ★★★★★

“I’m a mechanic; I fix things that are broken. I turn into a thirty-five-pound coyote. I have powerful friends. But when it comes right down to it, my real superpower is chaos.”

Changing points of view, that’s a new one for this series! I liked it, although I am not quite sure about the off-set timeline. It added an interesting dynamic, but probably made it unnecessarily complicated.

Nice revelation there at the end, makes me want to re-read the whole damn book right away… I missed all the clues, if there were any.

Some great character additions. Libor was fun. Lots of vampire politics, which I usually find tedious, but they were well done here. Great visuals, good plot, entertaining, three very late nights of not wanting to put this down…

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