Table tennis, seriously?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Illustrator), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The last volume introduced Negan. Things have gone downhill very fast. 

Do I think that Negan is a lunatic? I think he is a complete sociopath. Oh boy. And Carl is a really annoying little brat. Their scenes together go on entirely too long.

Rick obviously has issues with his people, ostensibly giving up to Negan. It‘s a hard sell.

This feels like an in-between volume again. The story is good, as little as there is. But there is too much filler. I had hoped for the action and mayhem of the previous volume to continue. Instead there is a slump, too much one-sided pointless dialogue by Negan and a slow build-up to the hopfully more exciting Volume 19. 

Lucille is thirsty

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Illustrator), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So, finally, we meet Negan! Eep!

Well, ok, there is some build-up and shorter excursions and skirmishes, but eventually we make his unpleasant acquaintance…

And then the unmentionable thing happens. You know what I mean, if you have read this or watched the TV series. And it is explicit. Wow. I am actually a little shell-shocked. The Governor was a fluffy teddybear compared to Negan.

And despite of the horrible violence, this was a really good volume. Tight plot, great dialogue, good artwork. Excellent story telling.

I checked out of the TV series during Season 6, so I don‘t actually know how Rick and the others are going to deal with this situation. Looking forward to the next volume!


Main Challenge for 2022:

StoryGraph Reading Randomizer 2022

– January #1 The Sweet Rowan — review
– January #2 The Marrow Thieves — review

– February #1 The Legacy — review
– February #2 The Solitaire Mystery — not read yet

– March #1 Even The Wingless — up next
– March #2 The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

Walking uphill…

The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Outside, scavenging for food, meeting Jesus… Rick is a little psychotic in this one, at least in the beginning. Something good happens and the ending is very upbeat. Oh boy, the next issue is going to be really horrible, right? Because of you-know-who….

Normally my next comics read would be The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear (Comics), especially now, with Negan on the horizon. But I think I need a breather from The Walking Dead. I watched Alita Battle Angel on TV last night — well, I watched bits of it and missed the ending, because I got distracted. Still, it looked good and it turns out that some of the comic is available on Kindle Unlimited. At least I won‘t have gotten the free KU trial for naught! So, next:

Battle Angel Alita Vol. 1 (Gunnm, #1) by Yukito Kishiro

Or option number 2… I just got the Netgalley of this one:

Dark One by Brandon Sanderson

I finally bit the bullet and re-activated my Adobe ID, got the Adobe Digital Editions App and unpacked this comic there… reading app number 4, me thinks? Argh.

Chugging away…

I am slowly making my way through my current reads.

In The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World (Comics) I finally reached a spot in the narrative that is new to me. I never got this far in the TV series. New territory from here on out! And tonight I took a trip down memory lane and rewatched the first episode of the TV series. It was fun!

I reached the last 100 pages of The Prefect (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1). I like the book, but I am looking forward to finally finishing it. My motivation is flagging…

The Queen’s English: And How to Use It is turning out to be a drag. Useful, but the tone of the book is… patronizing?

So, what‘s on my plate for March? First of all I started the next Expanse audiobook.

Abaddon’s Gate (Expanse, #3)
by James S.A. Corey

I read this for the first time in October 2017. Here is what I had to say about it back then:

I wonder if our writing team follows a how-to-list for their books, something like….
1. boy or girl disappears / is kidnapped / dies and introduced a main plotline for the book doing so,
2. Holden shows up and contemplates his life,
3. Several new, possibly major characters show up, never to be seen again in the next book

I liked Anna, Clarissa, Bull, Sam, Serge…. Corey is good at making characters come to life. But, OMG, did Corey take writing hints from GRR Martin? I also liked the slightly time shifted chapters with alternating POVs, that made it very lively. The plot was more straight forward than in the previous two books, which makes it simpler, but dragged me along much faster, too.

Very good, really liked this book, looking forward to the next installment!


In print I have these three beauties planned:

Winter’s Orbit and A Desolation Called Peace are both slightly overdue Netgalleys that I plan to buddy read this month. For my #ReadPOC2021 challenge I will most likely read another very overdue Netgalley, David Mogo, Godhunter.

I haven‘t made up my mind yet, which of them I will pick up first, once I have finished The Prefect. Do you have any reading plans for March?

We find our souls, strife and zombies…

The Walking Dead, Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator) 

Cleaning up Atlanta… moving from day-to-day survival to re-building civilization. The next catastrophe has to be just around the corner, right? Instead we mostly get Rick searching his soul and contemplating Carl (the little, creepy twat). Internal strife is brewing, on more than one front. 

Atlantic is starting feel boring after several installments. It‘s time for a new story arc. Which makes me a little apprehensive, considering what comes next…

And while we are talking zombies, I watched this movie last night:

The Dead Don’t Die is a 2019 American comedy horror film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It features an ensemble cast including Bill MurrayAdam DriverChloë SevignySteve BuscemiTilda SwintonTom WaitsDanny GloverCaleb Landry JonesRosie PerezIggy PopCarol Kane, and Selena Gomez and follows a small town’s police force as they combat a sudden zombie invasion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dead_Don%27t_Die_(2019_film)

Nuts! I haven‘t decided yet, if this movie is just absurd or if it‘s genius…

Top Ten Tuesday, the Mardi Gras edition

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: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers (in honor of Mardi Gras)

Purple-ish backlog…

The Killing Dance (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #6)
by Laurell K. Hamilton

Finally there is a resolution to the dating drama. Werewolf or vampire? I think a threesome would have been a nice outcome! But no, instead we are having big relationship troubles and jealousy. We’ll see how that’ll work out. Very hot sex scene. I will never look at my bathtub the same way again.


Once Bitten, Twice Shy
by Christina Courtenay

Cute story, although one wonders how often one woman can be kidnapped over the course of two-hundred pages. Pretty silly plot twists and I agree with other reviewers that the story bordered on the ridiculous side. Most of the side characters were so over the top, they were more like caricatures than anything else, with the impulse control and common sense of five year olds. And the ending left me pretty unsatisfied.


Marry in Haste
by Christina Courtenay

Silly, shallow and entertaining. Nice, mindless brain candy. Marriage of convenience well done.


Yellow-ish backlog…

Monday Mourning (Temperance Brennan, #7)
by Kathy Reichs

Her 7th book. The first 4 were brilliant. By no. 7 the the excitement has gone. Perhaps I got too used to the character. Or the storylines are really not as suspenseful anymore. I am not sure. My interest lasted longer than with Patricia Cornwell though.


The Blessing Stone
by Barbara Wood

Several short stories, loosely connected by the wanderings of the Blessing Stone through the ages. I liked the earlier stories, but the further on we got in history, the more boring I found the stories. Towards the end I was skimming quite a bit. I did finish, but I was pretty under-whelmed.


The Walking Dead #1
by Robert Kirkman

At first I was a bit confused, because Rick doesn’t look like Rick. And then I wanted to smack myself, because the comic came before the TV series.

I really like the black-white-and-grey pencil work. Minimalistic, but great in telling the story. Very good artwork. By now I made it to volume 15…


The Leopard Prince (Princes Trilogy, #2)
by Elizabeth Hoyt

After the carriage wreck and a bit before the horses ran away, Lady Georgina Maitland noticed that her land steward was a man.

First sentence

Decent world-building, the first few pages had me giggling immediately. Good backstory, interwoven well with the main plot. The evil landowner is very evil indeed. The main characters are colourful and well drawn. Georgina and Harry are likeable and believable. For a historical romance the usual tropes are fairly mild and not too annoying. Sexy times are sexy. Surprisingly good plot. Not terribly suspenseful, although I had a few “Oh no!”-moments. 


Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)
by Kim Harrison

This book was boring and the main character was not interesting. Potential for great world building, but it was not happening. The narrative was flat, not funny and sloooooow and I have the sneaking suspicion that Rachel is really stupid, not just clumsy. Jenks was the only redeeming factor. The relationship with Ivy really ticked me off. It was a major struggle to finish this book and I doubt it very much that I will pick up another book of this series.


The Painter
by Will Davenport

The first paragraph made me smile. Unexpected opening. An interesting read. I thought the end was a bit rushed. Very funny in parts – I nearly peed myself when I read the passage with Rembrandt’s smelly shoe… Rembrandt’s character was really well developped and very plausible.


Green-ish backlog…

Throne of Jade (Temeraire, #2)
by Naomi Novik

Patrick O’Brien meets Anne McCaffrey. This picks up right where the first book ended. Old-fashioned feel to it, meshes well with other period-dramas I have read of that time. The naval jargon sounds true. Excellent world-building, great scenic descriptions. Good fight and battle scenes. Great travel narrative. However, there can be too much of a good thing. So much detail all the time got a bit boring and I did some skimming to get to the more action-packed bits faster. Those were always excellent.

The plot as such was good, but there were no great surprises. The characters were all pretty formulaic and stereotypical. None of them went through any noteworthy growing pains. I never managed to develop an emotional attachment to Laurence or Temeraire. And all other charaters were merely decorative anyway.

I read through the blurbs of all consecutive novels and quite a few of the reviews. Each book seems to be covering another continent and in at least every other book Laurence seems to be threatened with court-martial and an excecution. Sounds a bit tedious. 


A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, #1)
by Sue Grafton

The first one of this very good crime series. Short and sweet. I keep picturing Holly Hunter in the title role. I even figured out who-dunnit for once, and why! Well, ok, only about half way through the book.

I eventually read 10 books of this series, mostly out of order. Not bad as a whole!


One For The Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)
by Janet Evanovich

Pretty entertaining, but it did not rock my boat. I never continued with the series.


Freya of the Seven Isles
by Joseph Conrad

I liked the prose, the characters were vivid and the setting was great. For someone whose first or second language was not English, Conrad wrote in it beautifully. I am not a big fan of using letters as a plot device to bring the narrative forward, but other than that I enjoyed this story very much, despite the tragic ending.


Mortal Sins (World of the Lupi, #5)
by Eileen Wilks

The story centered around Lily and Rule, it is set in the here and now, werewolves play a large part of it and the plot that developed in Blood Lines is picked up again. It’s a cop story with shapeshifters, ghosts and magic. I liked the new characters, especially the cops and FBI agents. A nice addition to Wilks’ world.


Immersed (The Clockwork Siren, #1)
by Katie Hayoz

Well written, vivid imagery, enticing main character, good backstory, well-paced, not too predictable. I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, so I can’t say if the setting worked for that. I liked it. The world building was great, I was transported there right away, down to the muck squelching in my boots. I would wish for more details on the automatons, to flesh out the imagery. Nice touch of explaining a little bit about Chicago before the start of the story.

Small set of characters, likeable, believable, nobody is silly or too stupid to live… I am not into mermaids as a rule, but here they were nicely evil and not the too sweet Disney version. Dark mermaids and Steampunk, I could do more of that!


Ok, Top Fifteen Wednesday — I got carried away! It was really hard to find purple covers on my shelf!

Wowza! Excellent volume of The Walking Dead! No way out?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Still in Alexandria, the one with The Herd. And Winter Is Coming! 

The last volume with our motley crew settling into life in Alexandria was pretty meh for me. I could not work up any real interest in the storyline of that volume.

In this and the previous one I occasionally had a hard time recognizing Rick. Sometimes he seemed to look different on every page. Or, in some cases, it was someone different and I just didn‘t get it.

Well, Vol. 14 has a lot more suspense and action than Vol. 13, simply because of the added danger of the herd surrounding Alexandria.

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The tension just ramps up and up and up. In the last third something shocking happens and the action really explodes. Holy crayola! Unputdownable! Nail-biting! I was screaming inside throughout the whole thing! Flipping heck.

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Hulk Smash! Belief in humanity restored. There is hope! Well, in fiction anyway. What a ride. Some great two-page spreads! All the stars!

My favourite character in this: Abraham
Most annoying character: Morgan

Wow! Onwards to Vol. 15…

That storyline has too far gone, next!

The Walking Dead, Vol. 13: Too Far Gone
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The one where they settle further into their life in Alexandria and where Rick looses it. Civilization does not agree with out heroes.

This is were I started to loose interest in the TV adaptation. The comic was ok, but the story did not really grab me. It took me two months to get through this, putting it down chapter after chapter and almost forgetting about it.

My favourite books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. The current Top Ten is MY TOP TEN FAVORITE READS OF 2020, predictably so. Let‘s see, how many 5-star reviews I can scare up for this year… no particular order, I listed them as they popped up.

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)
by Patricia Briggs

I re-read the whole series, plus Alpha & Omega spin-off, at the beginning of this year. Still good and still one of my favourite UF series of all time. I am looking forward to the new Alpha & Omega in March 2021.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard,  Cliff Rathburn

I am slowly working my way through The Walking Dead, the ultimate zombie graphic novel, that spawned an ever increasing horde of books and TV series… this volume was a very good ones. I am still at it, currently reading Volume 13.

To The Center Of The Earth
by Greig Beck

As pure escapism goes, this was an excellent choice. Cavers go down to find the centre of the Earth. And things they did not bargain for. Reminding you of Jules Verne? Yes, indeed.

Paper Girls #1
by Brian K. Vaughan,  Cliff Chiang (Illustrator)

Paper Girls is another excellent graphic novel by Vaughan, that I really should continue. Good story, great colouring, fun!

Dune (Dune, #1)
by Frank Herbert

Another re-read, in a pretty Deluxe hardback edition. The book shows its age and author‘s bias in the treatment of women and LGTBQ representation, but if you can look past that it is still one of the best SF novels out there.

The White Dragon (Pern, #3)
by Anne McCaffrey

This seems to be my year of re-reading old favourites, because I also read the first Dragonriders of Pern trilogy again. And I still like it a lot, phew. The treatment of women in this one is even more problematic than in Dune though. Odder still, the author is a woman. However, if dragons are your thing, this series should be on your list.

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild
by Marjorie M. Liu,  Sana Takeda (Artist)

Another graphic novel series that is still going strong. The plot thickens though in this horror/fantasy story full of demons and gorgeous artwork.

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

My winner in the romance genre for this year. Good sense of humour, believable and not cringe-worthy amounts of drama and angst, blessed lack of the most stupid romance tropes. 

Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1)
by M.C.A. Hogarth

Finally I picked up something by Hogarth again, after a longer break. Very chilled, very relaxing, a nice amble through her unusual universe. Let’s call it Pastoral Science Fiction. A slow book with mellow drama and a slowly building asexual romance. Uplifting. Another reviewer called it a cozy, finding-one’s-place story and that sums it up nicely.

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5)
by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews, well… I would rate their shopping list with five stars.


Not a very sophisticated list with a lot of literary merit, but I had fun. I could list a few more graphic novels. In terms of novels there were no massive highlights this year. Plus the longer I review books, the stricter I seem to get with my ratings.

Can they live among them?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eugene is so busted! That part of the storyline was resolved with very little fuss though, which surprised me a little.

Rick and the others discover Alexandria.

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Where we get treated to a story about eyeballs. Very creepy. Hand me some bleach, so I can get the images out of my head…

It was really interesting to see how our group settles into this new community and how shell-shocked they appear to be from their life outside and how much it changed them. I could really relate to them after 11 volumes of fighting zombies. Even to me Alexandria felt fake and artificial. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe in the next volume…