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…

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green
Book Review / May 23, 2019

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green My rating: 2 of 5 stars “I don’t think I actually felt any of those ways, but it seemed on-brand.” This book actually is a remarkable thing. Remarkably horrible, in fact. Or maybe it’s the generation gap – at least if we’re not talking about biological age because Green is just about four years younger than me. This “Thing” deals with the appearance of aliens in every major city on earth and a young adult woman, April May (seriously?), who becomes an Internet celebrity for dealing with the implications of this “visit”. I chose the initial quote because everything in this book is pretty much superficial and only deals very shallowly with all the possible implications of physical confirmation of the existence of intelligent life beyond Earth. (Well, intelligence is relative – as anyone reading to the end will find out when “Carl” utters a single simple word as “judgement” on mankind.) The entire book is basically Hank Green trying to build upon his clout as an Internet celebrity (at least I guess he is; I’ve never heard of him) and tries to stay “on-brand” just like his not-very-likeable heroine. Oh, and April…

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
Book Review / May 16, 2019

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman My rating: 5 of 5 stars “I was fine, perfectly fine on my own, but I needed to keep Mummy happy, keep her calm so she would leave me in peace. A boyfriend—a husband?—might just do the trick. It wasn’t that I needed anyone. I was, as I previously stated, perfectly fine.“ Eleanor Oliphant most certainly is not fine. Unless, maybe, Honeyman has read Louise Penny’s brilliant mysteries, among them “Dead Cold” (also published as “A Fatal Grace”) and actually means FINE (she even uses this term in all-caps herself) which stands for “Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Egotistical”. That’s part of what Eleanor is. I’ve read this book is about loneliness and, yes, it certainly is but it’s so much more – depression, childhood abuse and recovery. Eleanor goes to work, trying to avoid any non-essential contact with her co-workers or, in fact, any human being for that matter. She relies completely on her routines (“I sat down and watched television alone, like I do Every. Single. Night.”) and abhors any deviations. Whenever she starts to actually experience feelings, she drowns them in Vodka. Suddenly and by pure chance, Raymond enters…

Kaffee und Zigaretten, von Ferdinand von Schirach
Book Review / May 11, 2019

Kaffee und Zigaretten by Ferdinand von Schirach My rating: 5 of 5 stars “Die Würde des Menschen ist die strahlende Idee der Aufklärung, sie kann den Hass und die Dummheit lösen, sie ist lebensfreundlich, weil sie von unserer Endlichkeit weiß, und erst durch sie werden wir in einem tiefen und wahren Sinn zu Menschen.” Zu Ferdinand von Schirach kam ich über sein Buch “Verbrechen”. Irgendwo stolperte ich über den Namen dieses Buches und natürlich kannte ich die Familie von Schirach aus der deutschen Geschichte. Ferdinand von Schirach selbst war mir jedoch kein Begriff und so googelte ich ihn und fand schnell heraus, daß er der Enkel Baldur von Schirachs ist, des “Reichsjugendführers” im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland. Nun ist der Nationalsozialismus ein Thema, das mir persönlich sehr wichtig ist. Ich bin 1975 geboren und so ist es vollkommen klar, daß ich keine Schuld an den Verbrechen der Nazis trage. Ich bin aber in Deutschland als Deutscher geboren und so trage ich – mit allen anderen Deutschen zusammen – eine historische Verantwortung, die Geschichte nicht in Vergessenheit geraten zu lassen und eben keinen Schlußstrich oder ähnliches zuzulassen. Werden wir nämlich Geschichtsvergessen, tragen wir eine Mitschuld, sollte sich diese wiederholen. Bis heute jedoch ist…

Repentance, by Andrew Lam

Repentance by Andrew Lam My rating: 3 of 5 stars “The fact that they had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor didn’t matter. They were guilty by association, by the color of their skin and the slant of their eyes. It didn’t matter that they didn’t speak Japanese, or that they were American citizens. The bottom line was that their kind had perpetrated a horrid crime that came from the land of their ancestors. The shame was a burden that all Nisei silently bore, a burden every soldier in the 442nd was fighting to be free of.” I got this book for free as a win from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. Thanks! “Repentance” tells the story of Daniel Tokunaga, a successful surgeon, who is confronted with his estranged father’s past during the Second World War. Daniel’s father is of Japanese descent and fought as part of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. During (mostly) alternating chapters narrating of 1944 (Daniel’s father and his best friend) and 1998 till 1999 we learn a lot about Daniel and his own family as well. Even though Lam doesn’t have his own style, his writing is fairly well,…