Nothing to see here, unless you are a proper copper…

Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9)
by Ben Aaronovitch (Author), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Proper police procedural, puns and pop culture references, stellar audiobook narration by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. 

The Sons of Weyland make another appearance. The mystery plot is decent, but left me pretty lukewarm. It developed in a great direction towards the end. The history excursion was very informative, entertaining and quite heartbreaking.

Great action scenes. I also love the architectural excursions.

Peter‘s homelife is the most entertaining part, with Beverly heavily pregnant and foxes running amok around his home and extended family. Love the foxes and the diggy thing. And I wish Peter‘s mum had a catering service. All we need then would be a teleporter. Bonus points for mentions of Star Trek.

I am looking forward to what Peter is going to set in motion regarding the procedures for weird bollocks, training, collaborations with other agencies and countries… Come to think of it, the team work and development of all the additional characters besides Nightingale and Peter is one of the nicest elements. Seawoll is really growing on me.

“I saw nothing suspicious—which is unusual. A copper can usually find something suspicious if they look hard enough.” 


I just had a look at all the novellas and short stories that I haven‘t read—which is most of them—and I picked up a copy of this:

What Abigail Did That Summer (Kindle Edition) — Abigail and foxes!

Tales from the Folly (Kindle Edition) — short story collection, including:
The Home Crowd Advantage
The Domestic
The Cockpit
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Granny
King of The Rats
A Rare Book of Cunning Device — I listened to this as an Audible freebie
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Favourite Uncle
Vanessa Sommer’s Other Christmas List
Three Rivers, Two Husbands and a Baby
Moments One-Three

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…

Dueling Wizard…

Taken (Alex Verus, #3) by Benedict Jacka

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Alex Verus #3. It was fun. Probably the best so far? Urban Fantasy with a mature tone. People are actually treated as adults, there is no gratuitous sex just for the heck of it, the bad guys are not cardboard cut-outs, there is a lot of grey areas and Jacka writes good action sequences.

The mystery plot was good, although the additional, final revelation was a bit too detached from the main story for my taste. Set-up for later shenanigans, maybe? 

The dueling apprentices is a fun idea and a nice way of explaining the magical mechanics of this world. I appreciated the juxtaposition to Alex‘s duel towards the end.

The tone still reminds me a little of Peter Grant, but grittier, with less focus on being funny (though it is).

This series should definitely be read in order and I have the next one lined up to read in a few months…

Trouble with shadows…

Shadecraft #1 by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett (Cover Art), Antonio Fabela (Artist)

A new offering from Joe Henderson, the showrunner of the Netflix series Lucifer and writer of the excellent comic Skyward Vol. 1: My Low-G Life. Apparently Netflix has preemptively picked up Shadecraft as well.

16-year old Zadie is not afraid of the dark. That is quickly remedied when shadows start chasing her.

Good artwork, diverse cast of characters, amusing. Some teenage angst. Nice twist at the end, I liked it! I might pick up more issues at some point.

Can be read for free at Image Comics.

Here is the video trailer. It shows some light spoilers, so don‘t watch it if you want to go into the comic with a fresh look:

My January 2022

And the first month of the year is over already! Here is what read, listened to and watched…

Activation Degradation ★★★★☆, audio, SF, not Murderbot, just ignore that. Different take on robots/cyborgs/AI.
Cursed ★★★★½, Alex Verus #2, ebook, UF, wizards in London battle it out, good fun.
Black Powder War ★★★☆☆, Temeraire #3, ebook, Fantasy, the way back from China to Europe over land, with stopovers in Istanbul and Prussia, set in 1806.
– Fruiting Bodies ★★★★★, short story, SF Horror, a little creepy.
– Life on Earth ★★★★☆, audio, TBR pile, David Attenborough narrates his book, natural history.
– The Sweet Rowan ★★★★¼, ebook, TBR, sweet Regency romance, set in Scotland, with a wee bit of magic.
– Saga #55 ★★★★☆, eComic, SF, finally back after three years of waiting.
– The Marrow Thieves ★★★☆☆, ebook, TBR, dystopian YA set in Canada. People have lost the power to dream, except for indigenous people, who are hunted for a cure.
– Tietjen auf Tour: Warum Camping mich glücklich macht, paper, DNF after 84 pages reading and skimming to 150 pages / 55%. Travel anecdotes, nice enough, but very repetitive.

Still reading, carry over into February:
Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System, audio. Fascinating!

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– The Expanse, S6, Ep. 3-6 ★★★★☆ Season finished. They went off script quite a bit. Not sure yet how much I liked this.
– Foundation, S1, Ep. 4-10 ★★★★★ Season finished. Excellent!
– Venom ★★★¾☆ Entertaining and a little too silly.
– Kingdom, S1, Ep. 1-3 ★★★☆☆ Korean zombie series in a historical setting. Unintentionally funny at times. Different. The people in this have the survival instincts of gnats.

Some StoryGraph statistics:

(yes, the last and first page counts are different, I updates something in between screen shooting the stats… 😝)

Top Ten Tuesday — Names In the Titles

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 / February 1: Books with Names/Character Names In the Titles

So, let‘s have a look at that TBR pile of owned books and what I can dig up… All the descriptions are from the book blurbs.

Wolverine & The X-Men by Jason Aaron, Vol. 1 by Jason Aaron (Text),  Chris Bachalo (Illustrations),  Duncan Rouleau (Illustrations),  Nick Bradshaw (Illustrations)  — Spinning directly out of X-Men: Schism, the X-Men are split in two.
In the oversized debut issue of the new ongoing flagship X-series, Wolverine takes one half of the X-Men back to Westchester to start over again with a new school, a new student body and a lot of surprises up his sleeve.

The Complete Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood,  Johnnie Christmas (Illustrator),  Tamra Bonvillain (Illustrator) — Internationally best-selling and respected novelist Margaret Atwood and acclaimed artist Johnnie Christmas collaborate for one of the most highly anticipated comic book and literary events!

Updating Pritkin (Cassandra Palmer, #5.3) by Karen Chance — was originally done as the conclusion to a contest on the author’s blog. Only 10 pages long.

The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple by Sean Gibson — A bard walks in on a dark elf dealing cards to a beholder, a mind flayer, a demon, a grouchy-looking wizard, and what is either a vampire or a really pale guy with an unfortunate widow’s peak….

Cross of St. George (Richard Bolitho, #24) by Alexander Kent,  Douglas Reeman — February 1813: As American privateers pick off British and Canadian ships in the wake of the War of 1812, Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho returns to Halifax to defend Crown property. In the cold waters off Nova Scotia, he fights fruitless skirmishes with men of the frontier, all the while longing for peace.

Brunelleschi’s Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence by Ross King — Even in an age of soaring skyscrapers and cavernous sports stadiums, the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence still retains a rare power to astonish. Yet the elegance of the building belies the tremendous labour, technical ingenuity and bitter personal strife involved in its creation. 

Here’s Negan! by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator),  Dave Stewart (Illustrator) — Who is Negan? Who was he before society broke down?

Yoko Tsuno: TWO-IN-ONE: Unterirdische Begegnung / Die Orgel des Teufels by Roger Leloup,  Harald Sachse (Translator) — French comic translated into German. Fantastic adventures in space and time! On her travels, the young Japanese Yoko Tsuno experiences numerous adventures with her friends. Using her cleverness — and if necessary also her martial arts — she solves very human mysteries, hunts down alien villains and sometimes averts galactic catastrophes.

Kill Shakespeare: Die komplette Serie by Conor McCreery,  Anthony Del Col — free audio from the German Audible. Shakespeare’s world-famous heroes and villains meet in the mystical realms of Illyria under completely new conditions – and so a very different story unfolds…

Umlac’s Legacy (Entangled Galaxy Book 2) by Jim Meeks-Johnson — When Lt. Jade Mahelona defeated the cyborg Umlac, she inherited his interstellar kingdom—and made herself a target. Her new subjects are two-ton blobs who know that if they hunt her down and kill her, they get to take her place. She takes refuge with the reclusive Elliquine who adopt her into their herd and use her as their liaison to other species.

Well, I have some very suspicious offerings on this list. Maybe I shouldn‘t be surprised that some of them have been stuck on my TBR pile of owned books for a long time.

Top Ten Tuesday — New-to-Me Authors

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 / January 25: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021

I generally read more new-to-me-authors these days than known ones. I used to read series after series, but have changed my reading habits in the last few years. I already posted my Top Ten Tuesday—the ten best books of 2021 and I will not mention those books again. Funnily enough those were mostly known-to-me-authors. Oh well.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #1) by Tade Thompson — Weird. Disturbing. Creepy. Off-putting. Slightly disgusting in parts. Horror, as you might have guessed by now. It‘s like a train wreck—pretty horrible, but I couldn‘t look away. The writing is very good. I was totally immersed in the story, the characters and Molly‘s world. I will probably read The Survival of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #2) at some point.

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1) by Tade Thompson wasn‘t quite as good for me. An alien lands on Earth, burrows into the ground and presents as a illuminated dome. 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. He is a thief, he is sexist, he felt like a clueless, self-centered, mysoginistic idiot to me. I can appreciate the inventive world building, but the rest was a slog.

Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler — short story. A human colony living as little more than slaves, joined to an insectoid race. Love, possesiveness and self-sacrifice are themes. Butler voices her surprise in the afterword, that readers see this as a story of slavery. But are we looking at symbiosis or at a parasitic relationship? Is it really consent in a situation, where your personal rights have been curtailed and there are no equal rights? I think not. 

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) by Octavia E. Butler — Lilith wakes up into a world of bipeds reminiscent of Cthullu with a touch of octopus biology. The world as she knows it has ended, the Onkali have rescued her and other humans. A classic. It was ok, but I won‘t continue with the series.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur — A queer rom-com debut with a social media astrologer. Give me a break! And Darcy, an actuary, her terrible blind date, is a total bitch (at first). Gorgeous though. Fake relationship trope! Well written, very readable. Oh, this is supposed to be a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I didn‘t see it, to be honest, besides the first name.

Becoming by Michelle Obama — Michelle Obama‘s memoir, from her early childhood to the end of her second term as FLOTUS. Entertaining.

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith — I was entertained. And I learned new things.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell — potential m/m romance in an SF setting, marriage of convenience, potentially a murder mystery and court intrigue, hints of space opera.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badge — YA. UF/magical realism, set in our place and time, with ghosts, vampires and fae added to the mix. Author and female main character are Lipan Apache. Ellie is 17 years old and has the power to call animal ghosts into being.

The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter — the author covers a vast amount of linguistic topics. The author‘s casual dismissal of places and people outside of the US was a bit irritating at times. It was interesting.

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron — Enjoyable, humorous, not too silly and not too much drama. There is baking and sourdough starter and delicious Indian/East African food… If you are looking for a book that represents Islam and Muslim life, this is not it. If you are looking for light romance and great food though, you are bang on. 

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen — Androids, a claustrophobic spaceship, a mysterious ice planet and a conspiracy with a dash of horror. 

Ok, that was ten new to me authors. I had an interesting year.

The Top Ten — Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection 

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 / January 11: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

We don‘t give a lot of Christmas presents in my family (aka my parents) and if I get any, it‘s not usually books. My family doesn‘t know what to give me, specfic is in a whole other universe for them. Plus I do not read in my mother tongue, which makes it even more puzzling for them. And gift cards or vouchers are a no-no. So, here are the last 10 books I gave myself!

Beginning Operations (Sector General 1-3) by James White — added January 9, 2022

We were talking comfort reading / easy reading in my favourite specfic group, aka my online home. And this was recommended. Emergency Room in Space with imaginative, non-humanoid aliens. Sounds like a win to me!

Taken (Alex Verus, #3) by Benedict Jacka — added January 8, 2022

Alex Verus is a mage in present day London. He is a pretty chilled guy, who runs his magic shop and just wants to be left alone. It’s not working.

I read and reviewed the previous book in the series a few days ago. I want to continue with the series, so… added!

Activation Degradation by Marina J. LostetterHayden Bishop (Narrator) — added January 6, 2022

A robot runs into trouble, trying to defend a mining platform orbiting Jupiter.

I just reviewed this one yesterday. It‘s the January Science Fiction group read of my favourite GR group (see above) and I want to try and read at least one group read per month. Done!

Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov — added January 5, 2022

I just finished watching this:

It was so good! I just had to get the books. Ok, ok, friends told me that this doesn‘t have much to do with the books. I guess I will find out for myself, once the book gets here. I wanted to support my local and ordered this English-language hardback edition from my tiny German bookstore around the corner. It’s going to take a while. But I‘m not in a hurry.

PS: Lee Pace takes off his shirt A LOT! But seriously, the photography / CGI of the TV adaptation is excellent. The acting is great as well. I hope there will be a second season!

PSS: Lee Pace is a scifi nerd, which makes this TV adaptation even cooler….

Roger Ascham and the King’s Lost Girl and Jack West Jr and the Hero’s Helmet (Jack West Jr, #3.5) by Matthew Reilly — added January 4, 2022

I used to read his books a lot, back when he hit the scene. I really liked his hyperative, high-octane and plot-driven military adventure yarns. Good fun for low brain power. These two shorts/novelettes were for free for Kindle, so I grabbed them to find out, if I still like his style.

Son of the Storm (The Nameless Republic #1) by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — added January 4, 2022

Son of the Storm is a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa.

I really enjoyed reading his David Mogo Godhunter. His short story in the Dominion anthology was also very good. And the cover is very pretty.

Ogres by Adrian Tchaikovsky — requested from Netgalley on December 27, 2021 / received January 5, 2022

It‘s Adrian Tchaikovsky. I need no other reason.

Shiny Water (Michael Stone, #1) by by Anna Salter — added December 25, 2021

In the suspense-charged tradition of Patricia Cornwell, Anna Salter draws from her professional expertise to introduce forensic psychologist Michael Stone, a sharply witty, courageous heroine who champions the victims of the most devastating crimes.

I received a free epub (in German) from my local bookshop for Christmas via their online shop. No idea if I will ever read it. It does sound a bit like Patricia Cornwell, which is not a bad things. I used to like her series ages ago.

The Sight of the Stars by by Belva Plain — added December 25, 2021

Same as above, I received a free epub (in German) from my local bookshop for Christmas via their online shop. I am very dubious about this one.

Sweeping through the pivotal events of twentieth-century America, The Sight of the Stars chronicles four generations of one remarkable family as they journey through years of love, loss, sacrifice, and unimaginable betrayal.

Not really my thing. I am tempted to kick this off my shelf again right away. We‘ll see.


Wow, I got all of those books since Christmas Day. No wonder that my TBR pile isn‘t getting smaller. I checked, before this there were 20 days where I didn‘t get anything new to read… 🙄

Have you added anything good to your shelves recently?

How to deal with your curse 101

Cursed (Alex Verus, #2) by Benedict Jacka

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The second Alex Verus novel. I read the first one a few years ago and didn‘t like it, then tried again recently and changed my mind. 

So I am back in London, in a magic shop that reminds me of the Iron Druid‘s shop, with a mage that is definitely not Harry Potter. Alex gained a small amount of fame after the events of the first book. He went back to his old life, with Luna in tow as his sort-of-apprentice. Training her is not going terribly well and then something turns up dead, someone need his help and people start trying to kill Alex. He doesn‘t take that well.

The first two chapters rehash the set-up of this world, the magic system and the events of the first book. Especially the first chapter was pretty dry reading for me. But I guess you are not supposed to read these books back-to-back, so the reminder should work in most cases. The action started to pick up in the second chapter though and from then on it was quite a rollercoaster. If you like plot-driven books with a lot of action, that also have well developed characters, this is a winner.

At the end of my kindle edition is a preview to Hounded by Kevin Hearne, which is very fitting. They are both similar in tone. Alex Verus is the more mature one, with a world that feels more solid and well-developed. However, if you like Verus, you might have a lot of fun with the Iron Druid Chronicles as well. I did, at least for quite a few books.

If the first one-an-a-half chapters hadn‘t been so dry, this would have been 5 stars. The next books is on my shelf already.

After posting my review, I always look at other reviews, to see what my GR friends thought of the book. To my amazement one of my buddies really flamed this book as being very sexists, women just being helpmeets, etc.

Yes, Luna and Meredith only serve as facilitators. Well, at least Meredith does. And the book probably doesn‘t pass the Bechdel test, but it didn‘t bother me terribly much. And you?


Currently still reading:

Life on Earth by David Attenborough (audiobook)

Activation Degradation by Marina J. Lostetter (audiobook)

Reading next:

Black Powder War (Temeraire, #3) by Naomi Novik, buddy read, part of my TBR-pile, ebook

New year, new opportunities…

So, I spent most of today sorting my reading shelves and looking through possible challenges and whatnot. This is what I came up with…

Planned reading for January:
– Buddy Read Cursed, Alex Verus #2, ebook, started today and made it to chapter 2.
– Buddy Read Black Powder War, Temeraire #3, ebook. I will pick this up after the above. More dragons!
– Saga #55, eComic, pre-ordered, pub date Jan 26. I can‘t possibly wait for the collected volume, after waiting for this since they went into their extended hiatus in 2018!

Also reading / ongoing:
– Life on Earth, audio, narrated by David Attenborough. I made it to chapter 9, all about birds of paradise. Fun chapter, but even so I feel a bit bored by this book.


I settled on a TBR Challenge for 2022 for the 217 owned books currently on my physical and digital shelves:

This reading challenge is for folks who have an obnoxiously large TBR (over 100 books) and need a kick in the pants to get it whittled down. These prompts will help you randomly select 24 books (2 for each month) from your TBR in the hopes that you pick up books you keep forgetting about or putting off. 

RULES:
1. You must start AND finish each book in 2022.  
2. A DNF still counts! The purpose of the challenge is to get you to at least try reading some books you might not otherwise pick up.
3.  Audiobooks count!
4. You must use a random number generator for each prompt. Here is an example of one you can use, but you can use any random number generator of your choice. 
5. You must use the first number that is generated every time you select a book for a prompt. 

Here is what I got from that numbers generator and my owned-books-shelf over at Goodreads:

1. January: Book 1 
Using the default order of the books on your spreadsheet (or my sorted-by-numbers GR list…), generate a random number from 1 to the number of books on your TBR. Use this number to find the book on the corresponding row in your spreadsheet.

– January #1 The Sweet Rowan

2. January: Book 2 (126 books added)
Sort your TBR by date added in ASCENDING order. Generate a random number from 1 to 100 and choose the book on the corresponding row. 

– January #2 The Marrow Thieves

I just realized that I didn‘t just pick between 1 and 100, but between 1 and all of my owned books. Never mind, not doing it again. So, we‘ll see how long I can keep up with this challenge!


And then there is my Pern Re-read:
I am deleting, as I progress through my re-reads. I made a nice dent in my list in December. Here is what‘s left! I probably won‘t get to the next one until February though, looking at my above plans.

Publication Order
* 1983 – Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern — part of On Dragonwings
* 1984 – Nerilka’s Story
* 1989 – The Renegades of Pern
* 1991 – All The Weyrs of Pern
* 1994 – The Dolphins of Pern
* 1998 – The Masterharper of Pern
* 2001 – The Skies of Pern
* 2003 – Dragon’s Kin
* 2005 – Dragonsblood
* 2006 – Dragon’s Fire
* 2007 – Dragon Harper
* 2008 – Dragonheart
* 2010 – Dragongirl
* 2011 – Dragon’s Time
* 2012 – Sky Dragons

I should not run out of ideas of what to read next, what do you think?