Quick Reviews July


Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Haunting. Beautifully written. I like how we get to know Agnes through “sharing” with the family she lives with before the inevitable end of her story. Although it has already been written (so to say) and I read about the historic background there was always the hope that this time the story would take a different turn.

What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
The story comes without the “gay” hammer or “equality” being shoved down the readers’ throats. It shows the oppressive side too but doesn’t focus on it. The book focuses on the characters and their stories and dynamics. It’s a strange atmosphere and, at times, I got incredibly mad with Mitko. At other times I felt sad that things wouldn’t ever change for him; if he’d have tried or not. The writing is fantastic, as well as the character building; the way the atmosphere is created.

Mind Without A Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia by Kristina Morgan
Schizophrenia (or paranoid schizophrenia) get so distorted in popular media like films or shows and I have to admit that I walked into that “trap” of stereotyped thinking as well, before I knew better and started to read “first hand” experiences like Kristina Morgan’s book. Despite all the reading I can’t claim to “understand” what it is like to life with this illnesses but thanks to the voices of those who found the courage to write down and publish their experiences I get an idea. There are jumps and time skips (back and fro) in this book but the author informs her readers about this in the introduction. It was a very interesting glimpse inside Kristina Morgan’s mind and life and I’m grateful that I was allowed to read her account. It helps to think outside the box of the stigma surrounding the illness, created by films and other media who didn’t/don’t know better.

Continue reading Quick Reviews July

Review: The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Book cover, July 2017 (via goodreads.com)

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family is forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

As always many thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for granting me the opportunity to read this ARC.
Continue reading Review: The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Review: The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

Book Cover, July 2017 (via goodreads.com)

Jack Taylor is recovering from a mistaken medical diagnosis and a failed suicide attempt. In need of money, and with former cop on his resume, Jack has been hired as a night-shift security guard. But his Ukrainian boss has Jack in mind for some off-the-books work. He wants Jack to find what some claim to be the first true book of heresy, The Red Book, currently in the possession of a rogue priest who is hiding out in Galway after fleeing a position at the Vatican. Despite Jack’s distaste for priests of any stripe, the money is too good to turn down. Em, the many-faced woman who has had a vise on Jack’s heart and mind for the past two years, reappears and turns out to be entangled with the story of The Red Book, too, leading Jack down ever more mysterious and lethal pathways. 
It seems all sides are angling for a piece of Jack Taylor, but as The Ghosts of Galway twists toward a violent end, he is increasingly plagued by ghosts–by the disposable and disposed of in a city filled with as much darkness as the deepest corners of Jack’s own mind.

Continue reading Review: The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

Quick Reviews June


Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid

I like it when I can follow and understand the explanations of complex and complicated processes. It was exciting and interesting to read. I learnt a lot of new things and re-learnt facts and procedures. Well written and – as far as I can tell – very well researched. Loved it!

Ragdoll: Dein letzter Tag (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole
Many thanks to NetGalley Germany for giving me the opportunity to read this book as a sample copy.
When people who worked in this sector (police or ambulance services) and write books taking place in such an environment, their experience always shows. Especially when you look at the characters. They are very skilled in reading people and creating characters following those observations. I love the characters in this book. They don’t quite make developments but they are all unique and fleshed out. It was a joy meeting them. And since, in my opinion, a story lives or doesn’t live with the quality of its characters, I enjoyed this one a lot. So much I got second thoughts about reading more about continuing to read the William Fawkes books. I got a bad case of writer envy. :3

Ghosts by John Banville
The prose is so beautiful I want to dive into it, bath in it and eat it whole. I wish I could write like that! Unfortunately the storytelling isn’t even remotely as beautiful. If there was a plot it got lost or neglected or it was all so artistic that I failed to grasp it. It also doesn’t help that this is the middle part of a trilogy and my reading the first book was too long ago to remember details. The characters remain flat with little to none background and sidebranches of the story get dropped or neglected and it’s just annoying, really. Such a stunning writing but such a disappointing storytelling.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
I’ve always loved Neil Gaiman’s writing even if I didn’t like the story itself that much. What happened here, though? It didn’t sound like him. I know it’s a sort of retelling the stories but I honestly missed his unique “voice” here. The stories were okay. I only got annoyed with everything being “the best, tallest, cleverest, brightest, prettiest, largest, hugest, strongest” etc etc. Sounded like something written by Steven Moffat. I don’t blame Gaiman for the superlatives. I think it’s the general nature of the stories.
Anyway. I’m a bit disappointed, I have to admit. Perhaps my expectations can be blamed for being a bit too high here.
(On a side note: I did so right to name my cat Loki. She is the feline version of that god!)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This had been on my to-read pile for a while now and I finally got around to read it.
I didn’t know what I was in for. The only thing I heard about the book beforehand was that it was supposed to be really good.
I wasn’t let down. On the contrary.
Although I’m not a fan of unfinished sentences and half sentences, it made sense and was important for this kind of story and its unraveling. I knew where it would be going after the first two chapters but that wasn’t the point. It didn’t mean to make a mystery of the facts of the story itself.
It’s a beautiful, sad and painful story with a lot of truth in it.

Quick Reviews May


Des Nachts im finstren Wald: Dunkle Märchen von Jana Oltersdorff
Einige der Geschichten waren weniger überzeugend oder gut gemacht als andere aber alles in allem durchaus sehr lesenswert.

Seven Suspects by Renee James
First of all I’d like to thank Netgalley to give me the opportunity to read and review this book.
The writing is really good, it has a flow to it that makes a comfortable, fast read. The characters were good, fleshed out and true personas. But…
The constant repetition of the same facts was incredibly unnerving. Summarising previous books of a series for new readers is one thing but shoving facts down their throats every third page is another. Hadn’t I read beforehand that this was part of an entire series, it would have been clear after the first third. John Strand here, John Strand there but never as much as a further detail. I have a name and two or three facts about the person and that was it. Either you give me the entire thing as an overview (brief and not every ten pages again) or you leave it at that and stop making all those countless references.
I also understand that transgender and trans-persons is a big topic and although I like and appreciate the way the author presented it in this book I think it’s a pity that their protagonist is reduced time and again to just that. The struggles with all of it would have worked with their descriptions alone. I don’t need to be told again and again where the struggles came from. Grant the reader some brain and ability of thinking and understanding. I don’t mean to make the book sound bad. I really liked it but the aforementioned points got annoying.

Continue reading Quick Reviews May

Quick Reviews April


180° Meer by Sarah Kuttner
Ein Fall von “Spontankauf”, weil’s gut klang und man einfach Bock drauf hatte. Ich bin absolut überrascht worden. Ein großartiges Buch.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This one made me angry. It took me forever to get past the the first two thirds of it. It dragged on and ooon and ooooon. The writing is beautiful and the meta-thing that was going on was surely smart but goddammit, man. Just to make a point I had to read over 200 pages of painstakingly, boring and lengthy descriptions of stuff – really stuff. Things, snapshots, light, how a certain vase looked or dresses or… you name it. Not to mention the overly dramatic characters. The last third was faster paced and finally things took place, there was a proper story going on. That, however, wasn’t able to make me like the book after all.

More about Harry Hole‘s 4th adventure, The City & The City, The Snow Child and Record of a Night Too Brief
Continue reading Quick Reviews April

Quick Reviews March


Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers #2) by George MacDonald Fraser
(abridged audiobook read by Rupert Penry- Jones)
I already listened to the first book a while back and got newly interested in the adventures of Harry Flashman after I read about (basically) ar****le protagonists (the accurate word is fleeing from my memory; this will have to do) who are still likeable and convincing despite being, well, their rude and coward selves.
I like the concept in a way. Create a character everyone would usually hate because they are so going against everything we had been taught as being considerate, polite and a basic standard when interacting with other humans and yet everyone who encounters them likes them for some reason or other. (The ‘bad boy’ phenomenon, I assume.)

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
With the airdate of the series looming on the horizon I wanted to re-read the book a second time. The first time I read it was (I was surprised when I realised it) seven years ago and it was a translated edition. Back then I was disappointed but blamed the majority for it on the skills (or the lack thereof) of the translator. It is still a bad translation but even the original text couldn’t quite convince me. I love Gaiman and adore most things he wrote. I’m utterly in love with Neverwhere and it had inspired me so much when it comes to my own writing endeavours. He has a wonderful talent to create atmospheres without falling back to describing the weather or the landscape all the time. A truly gifted storyteller with an incredible way of words.
As you can see, I’m definitely biased.
American Gods just isn’t my kind of story. The storytelling is superb but the thing itself just doesn’t strike a chord. Some of the characters I admire but looking at the big picture… I’m sorry. I tried to like it more but I think I’ll stick to loving Neverwhere to pieces.

Your Soul is a River by Nikita Gill
What a wonderful book. Despite the repition in some of the poems I loved it start to finish. The writing is so tender and yet so strong. The entire design of the book itself is magnificent.
I wish it could have been possible for me to purchase the physical version and not “just” the ebook. Unfortunately the shipping costs alone were higher than the price of the book itself.

Liar, Liar (DI Helen Grace #4) by M. J. Arlidge
Bearing in mind it was a sample copy from NetGalley I have to overlook the constant change in the characters’ titles. A Detective Constable being promoted to a Detective Sergeant from one chapter to the next and demoted again two chapters further into the story. And the same thing happened to a Detective Sergeant who was a Detective Inspector and was demoted again to a DS. That put me a bit off, to say it politely.
Having a thing for writing police stories and creating characters that work as officers I find it astonishing that the author wasn’t able to keep track of a thing like that. Alas…
The story itself was good but lacked “something”. Good handiwork but the soul was missing. It was difficult to connect to Helen Grace. Charlie Brooks definitely stole the place in the spotlight. Others remained entirely pale and mere “plot devices”.
I liked the case and the twist(s) around it.

Narrowboat Nomads: Living the Dream on the English Waterways by Steve Haywood
I spoke about “the thing with the houseboats” in another post a while back. That fascination (Love? Longing?) for them hasn’t yet ceased (on the contrary!) and reading books like this one isn’t really helping with it. Despite making me long for an own narrowboat the book was also full of local anecdotes, history and descriptions of people. cities, towns and landscapes. I’m biased and love the topic. Naturally I loved this book too.