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…

A Dark Lure, by Loreth Anne White
Book Review / August 4, 2019

A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White My rating: 5 of 5 stars “Survival is a journey. It is the quest that underlies all stories. No matter the geography, or culture, or era, in one form or another, the story of survival is the same story we listen to, riveted, around the flames of the hunter’s fire. Or hear from the mouth of the astronaut returned from a burning spaceship, or from the woman who trumped cancer. We listen in the hopes of learning what magic they used to conquer a great beast, to deliver a decisive victory, to make it alone down the peaks of Everest alive . . .” Wow, what a ride! This was probably the most suspenseful novel I’ve read this year so far. Basically, it’s a story about survival: Olivia West, sole survivor of the “Watt Lake Killer” who died in prison, works anonymously on Broken Bar Ranch as its manager when a body is discovered. The victim’s remains have been put on display in the same way the dead killer used to do and weird things – coincidences? – begin to happen on Broken Bar Ranch. A cop who worked on the side-lines of…

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
Book Review / July 30, 2019

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini My rating: 5 of 5 stars This was an amazing and deeply touching read. I was born in 1975 and, being the son of rather politically interested parents, I remember the Soviet-Afghan War and the Mujahideen and their respective roles in Afghanistan since about 1985. I intellectually knew about the atrocities committed during that war, during the in-fighting among the Afghan warlords and, later, by the Taliban. This book, though, tells the very personal story of Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of Jalil Khan, a prosperous business man from Heart, and Nana, one of his servants. While the early parts focus entirely on Mariam who desperately wants to be accepted by her father, we later get to know Laila and her parents (and a few other very memorable characters) as well. Mariam’s and Laila’s ways cross when they both get married to Rasheed, the owner of a small shoe shop in Kabul. When I started reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, I thought it was a bit slow but when I noticed I had finished about 75% of the book in one marathon reading session without even noticing the time passing, I understood how wrong…

Warden’s Fury (The Ancient Guardians, Book 3), by Tony James Slater
Book Review / July 26, 2019

Warden’s Fury: A Sci Fi Adventure by Tony James Slater My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is the third book of the science fiction series “The Ancient Guardians” and – in a good way – it’s more of the same compared to the two earlier books. But this book has a few things going for itself. First and foremost, that’s its author, Tony James Slater: I first learned about Tony when one of his books, the highly recommended “Kamikaze Kangaroos!: 20,000 Miles Around Australia. One Van, Two Girls… and an Idiot” was free for a limited time on Amazon. Of course, it was the last part of the title that made me take it. It was a hell of a ride – quite literally for Tony and metaphorically for me because Tony is not only a semi-insane traveller and writer but has a very decent sense of humour, never shy to make a joke on his own expense. Meanwhile, I’ve read every single book he has published and I ended up liking all of them! Why? Because we’re all a bit of Tony: He’s clumsy, does daft things during his travels, and has the most surreal accidents (a bear…

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Book Review / July 23, 2019

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón My rating: 5 of 5 stars ““Is it true you haven’t read any of these books?” “Books are boring.” “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you,” answered Julián.“ “The Shadow of the Wind” is one of those books that leave me deeply satisfied and in tears. It’s a sweeping epic about Daniel Sempere, a bookseller’s son, who – by accident or preordained by fate – learns about an obscure and mostly forgotten author, Julian Carax, whose book “The Shadow of the Wind” will change Daniel’s life and those of pretty much everyone he loves. Even though there are some rather exciting and suspenseful scenes throughout the book, Zafón takes his time to paint a broad picture of Barcelona, the narrated time (1945 to 1966) and people. And, yes, at times this does make the book somewhat slow but only by giving room to everyone in this book to gain a character of his or her own can we really appreciate the masterpiece this book actually is. Because there’s not a single character to whom we cannot relate: Daniel, driven first by his desire to…

The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager
Book Review / July 18, 2019

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager My rating: 4 of 5 stars “Because the lake’s been lowered by drought, the farthest-reaching branches scrape the bottoms of the canoes, sounding like fingernails trying to scratch their way out of a coffin.” Wow, this was an unexpected pleasure! Coming from the background of having read too many difficult books lately, I chose this book because it sounded like an easy, light who-dun-it with an interesting premise. Two truths, one lie: a) I greatly enjoyed this book, b) it was an easy read, c) it kept me glued to my Kindle for hours. Of course, b) is the lie because this book was an excellent blend of who-dun-it, thriller, adventure and near-insanity. Emma, a young painter of 28 years, gets invited back to the reopening of an exclusive summer camp for “rich bitches”. The camp was originally closed 15 years ago when – during Emma’s stay there – three of her fellow campers disappeared without a trace. Emma, traumatised by the disappearance and what happened afterwards, comes back to deal with a creative blockage and to finally find out what happened to her friends all those years ago. The book starts…

Wilder Girls, by Rory Power
Book Review / July 16, 2019

Wilder Girls by Rory Power My rating: 1 of 5 stars “Why me?!”, I asked my wife, “Why do I always have to choose the worst books?!” – with the prettiest covers, I might add. Because this book is a classic example why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – which, in this case, is beautiful whereas the contents read like they’ve partly been ripped out of the script to some mediocre horror b-movie and partly been born out of the brain of a pubescent teenager. Maybe a sadistic ecology freak was on-board as well because at times the book reads like something along the lines of “nature strikes back”. The plot is simple and the premise interesting: A female-only boarding school on a small island; “the Tox”, some kind of plague, ravaging the wildlife, the girls and their teachers. Hetty, Byatt and Reese, three pupils and friends, are trying to survive. Suddenly, when Byatt vanishes Hetty learns something sinister is going on on the island… I’m not even sure where to start with my criticism because this book has almost no redeeming qualities: The writing is weird and I found myself asking “what did she smoke?!”: “And…

A Walk to Remember, by Nicholas Sparks
Book Review / July 15, 2019

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks My rating: 4 of 5 stars “As these images were going through my head, my breathing suddenly went still. I looked at Jamie, then up to the ceiling and around the room, doing my best to keep my composure, then back to Jamie again. She smiled at me and I smiled at her and all I could do was wonder how I’d ever fallen in love with a girl like Jamie Sullivan.” The story is as simple as it gets: Boy (Landon) meets girl (Jamie), falls in love with her (and she with him) but they’re star-crossed lovers. I like this book and I don’t like it. I really like that it feels plausible and honest: “She looked away. “Yes,” she finally said, “I’m frightened all the time.” “Then why don’t you act like it?” “I do. I just do it in private.” “Because you don’t trust me?” “No,” she said, “because I know you’re frightened, too.”” I liked how Landon basically fell in love unwillingly and reluctantly but will not and cannot stop once he’s embarked on the journey. I also greatly like Spark’s beautiful and elegant writing: “The ocean turned golden…