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.

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! 😏

Have you heard?

I just came across a post mentioning Tom Hanks as an audiobook narrator. Colour me intrigued. I immediatley sought out the book and listened to the sample.

The Dutch House (Audible Audio) by Ann Patchett,  Tom Hanks (Narrator)

The sample sounds great, Hanks goes along at a nice clip, enunciates beautifully and is just his usual awesome self. However, the story is really not my kind of thing. Usually I run the other way, when I see a book tagged as literary fiction.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

From the Goodreads blurb

Will have to think about it! I also feel tempted by his short story collection, Uncommon Type: Some Stories. Somewhere I came across a story talking about his hobby of collecting manual typewriters. It immediately made me long for having one again myself. They are so expensive! And not easy to come by…

I love Tom Hanks. I hope there will never, ever be any stories in the news declaring him to be a horrible human for some reason. It would break my heart.

Underdogs against the Universe

Shards of Earth (The Final Architects Trilogy, #1)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I read the name of the MC, all I could think was… Idris Elba! The main character looks nothing like Idris Elba though, he is this smallish, skinny dude with enhanced powers. Space opera with a touch of The Expanse and Babylon 5, with a great ensemble cast on a scrappy scavenger ship, fighting against the odds and pretty much everything else. The proverbial underdogs against the universe.

Good introduction here:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/…

Don‘t read it, if you want to go into the book completely spoiler free!

And an author interview here:
https://thebookinhand.com/2021/05/26/…

It was really interesting to read about Tchaikovsky‘s working day and writing process. I actually skipped the parts where he talks about this book, as I was afraid to spoiler myself too much.

Some excellent world building. Great aliens with a lot of variety—Tchaikovsky really has a thing for beings with more than two legs—, good action sequences and plot. For me this really shined through the crew of the Vulture God. A third into the book, I already loved them. Obviously, things went to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly, as they tend to go in this kind of story! And they kept on going. Never a dull moment.

My ebook had very useful appendices, in the form of an additional part: „Universe of the Architects: Reference“, with a glossary, a chapter on characters, other key characters, worlds, species, ships and a timeline. Especially the timeline was very useful.

Good audiobook narration. Loved Olli‘s voice in the audio. Great relationship dynamics all around and the audiobook narration added another layer of depth to the characters.

Great fun! Easily in the top row of my favourite books of the year. And I will very definitely wait for the next installment in this series/trilogy.

The enemy. He had an enemy again. He didn’t like it. Loathed it, in fact. Yet an ugly little part of him was awake now, like a cold arrowhead buried deep inside his mind.“

More Tchaikovsky…

Shards of Earth (The Final Architects, #1)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky,  Sophie Aldred (Narrator)

I started reading this as an ebook, but then switched to the Audible version, after realizing that I do like and know the audiobook narrator, Sophie Aldred. So far, so good!

The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us an extraordinary new space opera about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

When I read the name of the MC, all I could think was… Idris Elba! Full review to come. I am about 30% in and already love the crew of this salvage vessel. Obviously, things go to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly, as they tend to go in this kind of story!

Good introduction here: Shards of Earth review: A rip-roaring space opera with a psychic twist

Don‘t read it, if you want to go into the book completely spoiler free!

And there is a good author interview here. It was really interesting to read about his working day and writing process. I actually skipped the parts where he talks about this book, as I was afraid to spoiler myself too much.

Sophie Aldred also narrated his The Doors of Eden, which I did not love, but liked enough to read a sequel, if one should materialize. Looks unlikely though.

One of my reading buddies mentioned that Shards reminds him of the books by Peter F. Hamilton. My success rate with Hamilton is pretty checkered, from DNF to loving them. Maybe worth another try..

Expanding re-read

Nemesis Games (Expanse, #5)
by James S.A. Corey,  Jefferson Mays (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting re-read, after having watched the TV adaptation not too long ago. Some of the most gripping parts of the TV series happen completely in the off in the book. So this time around I have nice, additional visuals in my head.

I picked up some nuances and small details that I don‘t remember from my first read. I am pretty sure I did not understand the implications of the epilogue during my first read and did not remember the scene, when I could have connected the dots in the later books. Now I am looking forward to that aha-moment, when I get to it later in the series.


First read in January 2018:

Fabulous. I think I have a new favourite in the Expanse series! 5 stars with a cherry on top. Some slight spoilers ahead…

All about Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos, instead of the usual introduction of a new host of characters never to be seen again. 

And Bobby is back! And Avasarala, potty-mouth and all.

This is like pure gold for the fans of the series. No distractions of getting to know other characters or slowly diving into a complicated storyline. Just our favourite crew, with their odd-ball humour, trying to survive against mounting odds in a pretty straight forward action adventure story. Don’t get me wrong, the other books with their conspiracies, aliens, universe-spanning plots and amazing world building were fun, too. But this was a great joy ride in its straight forwardness and relative simplicity. And the action, twists and turns kept coming right from the start. I wanted to take breaks between chapters, but I just couldn’t, I was having too much fun…

My favourite stories were those of Amos and Naomi. Holden’s was fun, too, but more of a filler. Alex’s story interested me the least. Each of those plots easily could have been the basis for full novels of their own. 

Waiting till next month for my fellow buddy readers to pick up the next book of the series is going to be hard…

PS.: Reading the short story The Churn beforehand is recommended, it gives background on Amos Burton’s youth and characters that are relevant to this story arc.


“There was a button,” Holden said. “I pushed it.” 
“Jesus Christ. That really is how you go through life, isn’t it?” 

Dystopia, gender and some genius

Sorry for the long break since the last post! Busy at work, tired and lazy in the evenings. TV ruled my week, mostly with watching all available episodes of Genius on Disney+.

Both Einstein and Picasso were ok. Einstein had some historical inaccuracies. Banderas as Picasso was surprising. I enjoyed the two available episodes of Aretha. The third one should be available now and I‘m pretty sure I‘ll watch it tonight.

I am reading, but very little—I seem to be in a bit of a slump after reading a lot during my recent holiday. I am making slow progress with my current choices, although I don‘t really feel engaged. For now I am giving you a blast from the past, prompted by the blog post of someone else

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere #1) — audiobook, listened to it in 2017
by Meg Elison (Goodreads Author),  Angela Dawe (Narrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Philip K. Dick Award (2015)James Tiptree Jr. Award Nominee for Longlist (2014)

In the days when the world had not yet fallen, the screaming of sirens was constant. The structures that still held were the ones designed to cope with emergency and disaster, but none of them could work indefinitely. Desperation moved block by block, and people fought and fled.

Beginning of first chapter

Excellent. Loved the stroy, although it depressed the hell out of me at times. The audiobook was extremely well done as well. 

The main character waking up in a hospital and figuring out that the world has ended is a pretty tired idea by now. Nonetheless, the book started on full throttle and was great from the get-go. And horrific. By chapter three I had goosebumps allover and was close to crying. The story has an episodic feel to it, as it follows the midwife on her trip across the country, chronicling her encounters with various other survivors. Very graphic, with a realistic feel to it. 

From chapter eight onwards there are other POVs strewn in, which I found a little jarring at first. But they give a good overview of the fates of some of the people she meets on her way and of the world in general.

This was one of the best books I read (listend) to in 2017.

The narrator did a smashing job. The various characters have very distinct voices and she brings a lot of emotions into it. I would definitely get other books narrated by her.

The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere, #2) — read in 2018
by Meg Elison

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Make me. I was made. I made me.

What a great book. Deliverance meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert meets Mad Max meets the end of the world. This deserves every price and award it was nominated for (Philip K. Dick Award Nominee (2018)). I was unsure if I even wanted to read this, after liking Unnamed Midwife so much. But this is probably even better.

The different towns with their varied societies—how fascinating. Awesome world building. There are so many plot bunnies for so many books here. So imaginative.

And horrible. At some points of the story I did not want to continue reading, because I dreaded what was coming next. The plot is like a train crash.

Loved the genderqueerness. Nonjudgmental exploration of what is or can be. The interactions between Flora and Eddy were great. But apparently we never learn. We just find new and different ways of screwing it up.

Not sure what to make of the seemingly supernatural character towards the end. A little too surreal. The only part of the novel that I did not like and that probably has the potential to ruin the book for some people. Besides that, I thought this book was bloody brilliant. Loved it.

“I give birth to guns. I bleed bullets. I was born to destroy men. Like you.”

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere, #3) — read in 2019
by Meg Elison

Rating: 2 out of 5.

„Let’s see what I can grow into, see how long it takes me to reach the light.“

The first three chapters were not an easy read. First Flora‘s pretty horrible childhood and then Ommun and Alma—I am not a fan of her. This book was fighting an uphill battle to make me like it from the start.

Reading this back to back with Book of Etta would probably have work well. I struggled to place everybody, as it was a while since I had read Etta and the author made no effort to explain things.

After picking this up and putting it down for 3 weeks and not even making it halfway, I declared defeat. I did not like any of the characters. I didn‘t care what happened next. I didn‘t like the plot. I can‘t put my finger on why it didn‘t. Maybe it was me. Perhaps I expected too much. I don‘t know, was the plot too aimless? The characters all remained very one-dimensional as well. How can the two books be so great and this one…. not.

First Line Friday — Elatsoe

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.


I am currently reading an ebook; I am about halfway with it. I also started an audiobook and a comic. Here are first lines of all three of them:

Elatsoe (ebook)
by Darcie Little Badger

ELLIE BOUGHT THE LIFE-SIZED plastic skull at a garage sale (the goth neighbors were moving to Salem, and they could not fit an entire Halloween warehouse into their black van).

First line, chapter one

Yes, it‘s Young Adult, not my favourite genre. But it looked interesting. And while I‘m not biting my nails, the story is not bad and the writing is good. More background on the world this is set in would be nice. Essentially it‘s UF/magical realism, set in our place and time, with ghosts, vampires and fae added to the mix. My favourite gadget: instant teleportation via fae ring.

I would like to finish this weekend, but I have plans in real life, so it‘s doubtful. I also started the next audiobook in my re-read of The Expanse:

Nemesis Games (Expanse, #5)
by James S.A. Corey (Goodreads Author),  Jefferson Mays (Narrator) 

The twin shipyards of Callisto stood side by side on the hemisphere of the moon that faced permanently away from Jupiter.

First sentence of the prologue

This is my review from 2018:

Fabulous. I think I have a new favourite in the Expanse series! 5 stars with a cherry on top. Some slight spoilers ahead…

All about Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos, instead of the usual introduction of a new host of characters never to be seen again. 

And Bobby is back! And Avasarala, potty-mouth and all.

This is like pure gold for the fans of the series. No distractions of getting to know other characters or slowly diving into a complicated storyline. Just our favourite crew, with their odd-ball humour, trying to survive against mounting odds in a pretty straight forward action adventure story. Don’t get me wrong, the other books with their conspiracies, aliens, universe-spanning plots and amazing world building were fun, too. But this was a great joy ride in its straight forwardness and relative simplicity. And the action, twists and turns kept coming right from the start. I wanted to take breaks between chapters, but I just couldn’t, I was having too much fun…

My favourite stories were those of Amos and Naomi. Holden’s was fun, too, but more of a filler. Alex’s story interested me the least. Each of those plots easily could have been the basis for full novels of their own. 

Waiting till next month for my fellow buddy readers to pick up the next book of the series is going to be hard…

P.S.: Reading the short story The Churn beforehand is recommended, it gives background on Amos Burton’s youth and characters that are relevant to this story arc.

And the comic I just loaded via Kindle Unlimited:

The Swords of Glass, Vol. 3: Tigran (Kindle Edition)
by Sylviane Corgiat

Very nice artwork in the first two volumes! It‘s been a while since I read them, so my memory of the plot is a little vague, but we‘ll see…

Hail funny science dude in space!

Project Hail Mary
by Andy Weir,  Ray Porter (Narrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mark Watney in space! And he sciences the sh*t out of his situation… so, yes, very much reminiscent of The Martian. And then some. I loved it and could barely put it down. So much fun! 

The female MC reminded me a bit of Avasarala (with less potty mouth) from The Expanse series. The science babble made my eyes glaze over once or twice, but it was generally presented in an understandable way for a layman. It all sounded completely believable for me. 

The ending is absolutely precious!

Some readers might think it‘s too similar to The Martian in tone and situation, but I am practically ecstatic about this book. I liked the structure of the book as well, with the two timelines telling the current story and the backstory in alternating chapters. You go on a trip of discovery together with Ryland Grace. Who am I? How did I get here? What am I supposed to do? And wow, this is so cool and I am the first one experiencing this! The enthusiasm of this book is addictive.

Very well narrated audiobook as well. I will be looking up other books narrated by Ray Porter.

Dawn of a new age…

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)
by Octavia E. Butler,  Aldrich Barrett (Narrator)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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. They intend for her to teach the other humans how to make a fresh start on a recovered Earth, at a price, once she got used to the Onkali. It won’t be easy or free of conflict.

What did I think? 

It was ok. The plot was fairly straight forward. Lilith wakes up to alien surroundings and actual aliens that she perceives as repulsive. She has to get used to her circumstances and work with her captors/rescuers to maybe make it back to Earth. Awakening other humans complicates matters.

I kept wondering about the total lack of consent. The book was published in 1987, when the concept of consent did not really exist. The lack of it bothered me, but considering the publishing date it wasn‘t really an issie/topic at the time. I wonder what I would have thought, if I had read the book back then.

Will I continue the series? 

Unlikely. The story was ok, but did not really engage me. The plot felt too simplistic, there was no real suspense, no great twists or massive surprises. I might change my mind at some point, but right now I think reading the blurbs of the other books will satisfy my curiosity.

Why did I pick up this book?

I‘ve been meaning to read something by Octavia Butler for a while and this seemed to be a good place to start. I might pick up another series written by her or some short stories.