The Bear and The Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1), by Katherine Arden
Book Review / September 9, 2019

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden My rating: 2 of 5 stars “That evening, the old lady sat in the best place for talking: in the kitchen, on the wooden bench beside the oven.” In the street of the small village I grew up in, there lived (and lives to this day even though she is very, very old now!) a lady of sheer infinite kindness. During the 1980’ties she still used an old oven that burned wood in her wonderfully old-fashioned kitchen. I spent many days there doing my homework for school, warming up on a wooden bench next to said oven or just hanging around listening to her stories. Thus, when I read the introductory quote, I felt immediately reminded of those days during my childhood and I was hoping for being taken back into those simple times. Unfortunately, this was not really to be: Many of the slavic “demons” or rather familiar spirits appearing in this book were part of her stories as well so I did feel a slight connection. Nostalgia isn’t enough, though, and this turned out to be a very, very slow read. I almost lost patience with it and might have…

Tim im Kongo (Tim und Struppi, Band 1), von Hergé
Book Review / September 8, 2019

Tim im Kongo by Hergé My rating: 3 of 5 stars “Tim im Kongo” wird üblicherweise als der erste “wirkliche” Tim-und-Struppi-Band angesehen, da der eigentliche Vorgänger, “Tim im Lande der Sowjets” von Hergé lange Zeit als “Jugendsünde” abgetan wurde. Auch hat er diesen später meist als “Band 0” bezeichneten Comic nie mehr überarbeitet (im Gegensatz zu den meisten anderen Bänden). Insofern darf der vorliegende Band “Tim im Kongo” wohl zurecht als erster “Tim und Struppi”-Comic angesehen werden. Nie vergessen darf man dabei, daß dieser Comic bereits 1930 erschien und insofern “Kind seiner Zeit” und darüber hinaus das Ergebnis einer sehr naiven europäischen Einstellung zu Afrika und den Menschen dort ist. Die “Eingeborenen” werden in der vorliegenden 8. Auflage von 1981 – und bereits “entschärften” (!) Ausgabe – als geradezu kindlich (kindlich-einfacher Satzbau, einfachste Wortwahl – “Dingsbums” ist eines der häufigsten Worte…) und unendlich naiv dargestellt. Ganz klar: Mit heutigen Augen gelesen, kommt man um die Erkenntnis nicht herum, daß dieser Band rassistisch ist. Dann kommt der edle Weiße, Tim mit seinem weißen Hund, und bringt alles “auf Vordermann” – der Kolonialismus als Rettung. Mir dreht sich der Magen um. Auch in jener Zeit sehr beliebt unter den herrschenden weißen Kolonialherren:…

Tim im Lande der Sowjets, von Hergé
Book Review / September 7, 2019

Tim im Lande der Sowjets by Hergé My rating: 3 of 5 stars Nach vielen Jahren habe ich auf Empfehlung von Akash diesen “Tim und Struppi”-Comic mal wieder gelesen. Es ist das allererste Werk in dieser Comic-Reihe und sein Alter (Entstehungszeit 1929 bis 1930) ist unverkennbar. Die damalige Sowjet-Union, die als Heimat der gefährlichen kommunistischen Horden gesehen wurde, hat so natürlich nie existiert und der gesamte Comic leidet etwas unter dem Fehlen eines echten Plots. Ja, man erkennt die Entwicklung Hergés als Künstler im Verlauf des vorliegenden Bandes, aber es ist doch alles sehr rudimentär und die späteren “Co-Stars” wie Kapitain Haddock, Professor Bienlein oder die beiden Detektive fehlen noch gänzlich. Insofern sei interessierten (Comic-)Lesern oder Nostalgikern der Einstieg z. B. mit “Das Geheimnis der Einhorn” empfohlen. View all my reviews

The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5), by Andrzej Sapkowski
Book Review / August 31, 2019

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’ve first read “The Last Wish” in 2011. It was recommended to me by my friend Ingmar (who still has to read it, I suppose!) who – as it turned out later – used me as a guinea pig for books he intended to read but didn’t know if he would enjoy them and, thus, enticed me into reading them first. Little did that scoundrel know that he had involuntarily introduced me to what is today one of my favourite fantasy book series. It took a few years to really set in, though, because while I enjoyed “The Last Wish” well enough, at the time it was a three-stars-read to me – which means “it was ok’ish but nothing special”. Nevertheless, I wanted to read more about that strange man, a witcher actually, who hunts monsters for a living. Unlike some other heroes in fantasy, Geralt is not a killer-for-hire and he won’t indiscriminately slaughter any non-human but consider them first – and sometimes confuse them: “The monster shifted from one foot to the other and scratched his ear. “Listen you,” he said. “Are you really not frightened…

The Game, by Michael J. Sullivan
Book Review / August 26, 2019

The Game by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is another short story by Michael which he published separately as part of one of his Kickstarter campaigns. It’s about Troth, a previously minor Non-Player Character (NPC), who “lives” in a Massively Multi-player Role Playing Game (MMORPG) and suddenly develops sentience. The premise is interesting and the story well-told (how could it not be, it’s a Sullivan!). It’s just that it’s a bit… short. Given that this is a short story, well, I guess I’ll let it slide… 😉 Recommended to anyone with 30 minutes to spare. View all my reviews

Bretonisches Vermächtnis (Kommissar Dupin #8) von Jean-Luc Bannalec
Book Review / August 25, 2019

Bretonisches Vermächtnis by Jean-Luc Bannalec My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars Vive la France! – auch wenn sich das etwas merkwürdig anfühlt, wenn man weiß, daß sich hinter dem Pseudonym Jean-Luc Bannalec der deutsche Literat Jörg Bong (schon eine Weile nicht mehr) versteckt. Merkwürdig fühlt es sich auch an, nach längerer Zeit der “Abstinenz” einmal mehr in meiner Muttersprache gelesen und, jetzt und hier, auch geschrieben zu haben. Andererseits schreibt mit Martin Walker auch ein nicht ganz so “waschechter” Franzose (sondern ein Schotte!) über seinen Bruno und ist damit ziemlich erfolgreich. Ähnlich verhält es sich auch in anderen Punkten, was beide Roman-Serien angeht: Beide, so scheint es leider, haben ihre besten Zeiten hinter sich. Denn der vorliegende Band “Bretonisches Vermächtnis” ist immer noch nett, Dupin als Figur weiterhin ausgesprochen sympathisch und auch gewissermaßen glaubwürdig; nur leider wirkt doch alles recht routiniert: “Schon Hunderte Male hatte er hier gesessen. Er hätte die Augen schließen und den Raum dabei im Detail beschreiben können.” Nun gut, hunderte Male haben wir Dupin nicht “getroffen”, aber dies ist bereits der achte Band und, ja, man kann schon leider zunehmend Parallelen zu älteren Fällen finden. Na klar, mit den beiden neuen Polizistinnen LeMenn und Nevou hat…

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1), by Ilona Andrews
Book Review / August 20, 2019

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews My rating: 2 of 5 stars I’ve read this book because it sounded a bit like Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” which I like. And, indeed, there are similarities – the most important one for me was that I didn’t really like either series’ respective first book. “Magic Bites” was a confusing read much of which is due to the messy style of storytelling employed here. There’s a knightly order that’s supposed to help people in case of magic disasters which seem to happen due to weird alternating “cycles” of magical and technological “dominance” which in turn seem to have devastated the major cities but not everywhere (?). There’s a mercenary guild that somehow plays a role as well and of which Kate, our heroine, is part of. Somehow Kate is obviously “special” due to her father (?) but at least in this first instalment of the series we never get to know what the big deal is. Lots of things aren’t explained or so badly explained that I missed those explanation or promptly forgot about them – none of that being very likely. I often felt like I was missing crucial information. As if I…

Pile of Bones (The Legends of the First Empire #0.5), by Michael J. Sullivan
Book Review / August 15, 2019

Pile of Bones by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is a short story about Suri and Minna from Michael’s “The Legends of the First Empire” series which I highly recommend to any fantasy fan. With 36 pages and about 10.000 words it’s a very short piece but it nicely “showcases” some of the “features” of the series which is currently comprised of four full length novels and two more in the making (not like Rothfuss or Martin, though…). I’m usually not all that great a fan of short stories but I enjoyed this one. View all my reviews

The Dark Bones, by Loreth Anne White
Book Review / August 14, 2019

The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White My rating: 3 of 5 stars This will be an untypically short review because this book was interesting enough but I had expected so much more: This books predecessor, “A Dark Lure”, was very, very suspenseful and exciting and told a really interesting story. “The Dark Bones” features a few characters from the first book (namely Olivia and her daughter Tori) but deals with the murder of Noah North which his daughter, Rebecca, a white-collar-crime cop investigates. During the course of her investigation Rebecca meets her ex-boyfriend, Ash, again who quickly becomes a “person of interest” in this case and an older one about two missing kids. As in the previous book, White’s career as a romance writer shines through and – again – her heroine falls for the handsome rugged second protagonist – it worked the first time so why not try to apply the successful formula again? Which would be fine by me but somehow I was not as invested in both the story and the people this time around. Rebecca broke up with Ash because he cheated on her and met the girl again – she never asked him for…

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
Book Review / August 9, 2019

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline My rating: 5 of 5 stars “Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable. – Anorak’s Almanac, Chapter 91, Verses 1 – 2” Actually, for me, being human doesn’t suck and yet I fully sympathise with the feeling that videogames do add to life – always provided we can agree that books count as well. This book, in fact, made me smile a lot and remember a lot of things from my childhood and youth – during the 80ties which feature more than prominently in this wonderful geeky, nerdy story. I’m three years younger than Cline but it seems we share a lot of experiences and, maybe, some notions about life: “So now you have to live the rest of your life knowing you’re going to die someday and disappear forever. “Sorry.”” This, Cline says, might be one way to summarise what life is about and how it ends. It’s certainly a very sobering way of expressing it. Nevertheless, it’s true. In 1979 in the hilarious “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” Eric Idle already sang “Life’s a piece of shit / When you look at…