Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad, Book 1), by David Eddings
Book Review / July 2, 2019

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings My rating: 4 of 5 stars Wikipedia defines GrimDark as something that is “particularly dystopian, amoral, or violent” and that’s pretty much the definition of what I do not like in my fantasy books. When I read fantasy, I want the heroes to be good people at their core. I want a world that’s essentially worth saving and not a dystopia that basically deserves going down the drain anyway and while violence is nothing I abhor, it’s something that should be used sparingly and only if necessary for the story. Fortunately, “Pawn of Prophecy”, the first volume of “The Belgariad” is quite the opposite of GrimDark and pretty much exactly what I outlined above: Garion, a young farmhand, tutored by his “Aunt Pol” grows up on the farm of a modest, good-natured man who cares about his people. When strangers arrive at the farm, Pol and an elderly story-teller, “Mister Wolf”, come to the conclusion it’s time to make a move of their own and so they leave with Garion and the local blacksmith to go on a dangerous trip through the land, searching for a dangerous ancient artefact and its thief. They’re closely…

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
Book Review / June 29, 2019

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles My rating: 1 of 5 stars “It was suddenly as if the book were not a dining room table at all, but a sort of Sahara. And having emptied his canteen, the Count would soon be crawling across its sentences with the peak of each hard-won page revealing but another page beyond. . . .” This book was a huge let-down. Amazon tells me, its print edition has 378 pages. Those must be metres high and wide because I swear it were 10.000 for me. In fact, reading this book felt exactly like my opening quote. Count Alexander Rostov has the bad luck to be born into a family of aristocrats during revolutionary times. His only redeeming feature from the perspective of his “comrades” is a poem he wrote. Which is why they don’t put him against a wall but into life-long house arrest inside his favourite hotel, the Metropol in Moscow. Ok, well, he’s moved from his favourite suite to the attic but ultimately, Alexander makes the very best of it or – as the blurb puts it – “can a life without luxury be the richest of all?” The answer, sadly,…

The Suspect (Joseph O’Loughlin #1), by Michael Robotham
Book Review / June 23, 2019

The Suspect by Michael Robotham My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is a pretty standard thriller with nothing special to recommend itself over any other of its kind. Basically, a whiny shrink, Joseph “Joe” O’Loughlin, who keeps making stupid decisions throughout the entire book ends up being man-hunted as the prime suspect in a string of murders, starting with a former patient of his. Very early on, when being asked to help in the investigation of the murder, Joe decides it’s a brilliant idea to withhold essential information from the police: “All the while I’m thinking, I should say something now. I should tell him. Yet a separate track in my brain is urging, It doesn’t matter anymore. He knows her name. What’s past is past. It’s ancient history.” This stupidity annoys me without end: The cops will find out about such connections anyway so Joe should have told them right away. After all, he will have read this in countless books or seen it a hundred times at the cinema or on TV. Such lies by omission never help. Robotham still using this dead-beat plot device made me groan with despair. Joe O’Loughlin is pretty daft all around,…

Faking Ms. Right, by Claire Kingsley
Book Review / June 19, 2019

Faking Ms. Right by Claire Kingsley My rating: 4 of 5 stars “He turned back, meeting my gaze, a disarming openness in his eyes. Right there, in that exact moment, I did a terrible, terrible thing. I fell in love with my boss.”(Just to let you know what you might be about to read. 😉 ) This was another quick and easy read just to relax. I wanted something amusing and entertaining and this “romantic comedy” was just the thing. “Faking Ms. Right” is about Everly, the sunshiny assistant of Shepherd Calloway. Shepherd mimes the cold-hearted robot but is, of course, a great person deep inside. To get back at an ex-girlfriend who now dates his own father (yikes!), he manages to convince Everly not only to fake being his girlfriend but to even move in with him. This being a romantic comedy what has to happen happens and they fall in love. Since it’s a “hot romantic comedy” the story encompasses all kinds of encounters in some detail… This is by no means a demanding or sophisticated book but both Everly and Shepherd are fun and irresistibly likeable and the chemistry between both feels just right. A quick dose…

The October Man (Rivers of London 7.5), by Ben Aaronovitch
Book Review / June 16, 2019

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch My rating: 4 of 5 stars “The October Man” served as a quick escape from another book I simply didn’t want to keep reading right now. For that, a quick escape, this book is great. It’s nothing really special, though, and feels like it was written to fill the gap between full-length novels. If you remember the previous book (and especially its ending!) in the series, this probably makes sense. This book won’t work as an introduction to the series but nobody will expect that, I hope, from an instalment that’s listed as “7.5”. For the fans, though, it’s a nice, quick read and you’ll feel right at home. This time, we follow Tobias Winter, a German police officer and magic practitioner who – with the help of Vanessa Sommer, a colleague – investigates the murder of two members of a drinking club. Amusingly, Tobias originates from Ludwigshafen (am Rhein) which is located about 9 km northwest of where I’ve been living for half my life now. While having been born and raised in Lower Saxony for the first half of my life, it came as a bit of a shock that I’ve come…

The Body in the Castle Well (Bruno, Chief of Police 12), by Martin Walker
Book Review / June 13, 2019

The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker My rating: 3 of 5 stars Oh, Bruno, what did he do to you?! Bruno, you know I just love following your adventures around St. Denis. Unfortunately, just having finished the 12th outing – The Body in the Castle Well – I feel tired. Tired by the never-changing tides in St. Denis – there are even two love stories which are rehashed (again!) – and the complexity of the mystery. (And there’s a third love interest to boot!) The Bruno mysteries always were a “place” you gladly came back to because while things were moving on, they didn’t change abruptly. Bruno would always be that local cop everyone liked and who did a good job not just enforcing the law but making it work for the people it was made for. Also, while the story always had some connection to current topics, it was never really forced but (mostly) believable. Bruno’s adventures with Isabelle, Pamela and, sometimes, others were mostly amusing and engaging and simply “fit” into the context. Fast-forward to Bruno no. 12: The story is complex and confusing about document forgery, a WWII master forger, his brother-at-heart and the…

Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta
Book Review / June 10, 2019

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta My rating: 5 of 5 stars “And when I finish speaking, I kiss her cheek and I take away the tray. And it’s empty. That’s how we begin.” The “Young Adult” genre and I rarely get along. Call it a generation gap, I suppose, because, let’s face it, at 43 I’m not really the target audience of YA anymore. In fact, my very first note about this book was “I don’t feel like reading about school girls”. And, yet, there are some YA books that still appeal to me, e. g. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. “Francesca” – like many books recently – somehow ended up on my “to be read” list and when it was their time, I had long forgotten why I wanted to read this. Encouraged by wife (hey, C.!) who had just finished reading it, I just jumped into it. The story is pretty simple: Francesca Spinelli is the daughter of a mother with an academic background and profession and a father who works as a builder. Finally, there’s Francesca’s younger brother, Luca. Francesca, just having switched schools, is still getting used to her new school and finding…

Hollow World, by Michael J. Sullivan
Book Review / June 7, 2019

Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 4 of 5 stars “You’re unique—truly unique. You have hair—and it’s two colors. Your skin sags, and has all those great creases, like a beloved knapsack that has been taken everywhere and shows evidence of every mile. No one else has that.” This is going to be a slightly biased review because I’ve read pretty much everything Michael has published and loved most of it. That combined with the fact that Michael is immensely approachable and a very straight-forward person makes for a mixture I can’t resist. You might want to read another of Michael’s books first, though, to find out if you like his style. Hollow World, while definitely a Sullivan, is maybe not the best introduction. For that, I’d like to recommend his Riyria Revelations books to you. That said, bias or not – this book was very interesting, exciting and entertaining. In “Hollow World”, Ellis Rogers, a 58-year old man with a difficult family history escapes his wife of 35 years and his best friend, Warren, when he receives the news that he’s terminally ill. Using a DIY time machine built in his garage, he jumps 2000 years into…

Hermit Girl, by E. M. Collyer

Hermit Girl by E. M. Collyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars “I’m a bit like moss; at first you don’t notice me, but while you’re not looking, I secretly grow on you.” I got this book for free as an advance review copy by the author who happened to like my review of “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” and approached me. Thanks, E. M., I appreciate it! Secondly, I’d like to point out that “ten percent of the profits of this novel [are being] donated to the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust” by request of said author. That’s pretty cool as well. So, now that the introduction is out of the way; what’s this all about? Essentially, it’s about Willow who is a “socially-challenged” young adult, working as a temporary employee in a (for her) boring office job. Living at home with her overbearing mother, Willow is not much of a happy camper. In fact, she is a bit bitchy at times and annoying. Also, she’s a YouTuber and not very successful at that – she has like 10 subscribers. In her videos she basically gives dating advice in spite of the fact that her only relationship (that goes beyond…

Die Seiten der Welt: Blutbuch, von Kai Meyer
Book Review / May 28, 2019

Blutbuch by Kai Meyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars “Familien sind Bücher, die mit Blut geschrieben werden. Die Erinnerung an den Anfang schwindet, je näher man dem Ende kommt. Die vorderen Seiten mögen vom Gewicht der hinteren erdrückt werden, aber jedes Blutbuch braucht sämtliche Seiten mit all ihren Makeln, um vollständig zu sein.” Es gibt keinen Zweifel: Kai Meyer schreibt (meist) sehr, sehr schön und kann sowohl spannend und schnell als auch mitreißend und mit “Tiefgang”. Den ersten Teil dieser Trilogie, “Die Seiten der Welt”, habe ich im Herbst 2015 gelesen und mich sofort in diese wunderbare Welt verliebt. Mit phantastischen (sic!) Einfällen, viel Charme und Warmherzigkeit zog mich die Magie des Romans schnell in ihren Bann. Auch den zweiten Teil, “Nachtland”, habe ich im Frühjahr 2016 sehr gern gelesen. Tatsächlich finden sich beide Bücher in meinen Favoriten wieder. Nun ist es 2019, mehr als drei Jahre nach meinem letzten Ausflug zwischen die Seiten der Welt. Furia, die Heldin der Trilogie, und mittlerweile Freiheitskämpferin erscheint mir weitgehend unverändert – und doch konnte mich dieser dritte und letzte Band nicht mehr so mitreißen wie seine Vorgänger. Die Geschichte, die sich leider allzu kurz und knapp zusammenfassen läßt: Furia und ihre…