Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Book Review / July 15, 2020

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert My rating: 1 of 5 stars Wow, this was such an annoying read! Chloe Sophia Brown comes across as a pampered, snobby whiny, weak damsel in distress who needs rescuing. From this outset, I already didn’t like her. Someone who describes herself like this… “This mind-blowing bore had zero friends, hadn’t traveled in a decade despite plenty of opportunity, liked to code on the weekends, and never did anything that wasn’t scheduled in her planner. Don’t cry for her; she’s in a better place now. Even Heaven can’t be that dull.” … is simply someone who is wallowing in her own shitty quality of life. Chloe thinks, feels and behaves like a victim of her fibromyalgia (chronic pain, pressure sensitivity, tiredness, sleep problems, etc.) and Hibbert never ceases to emphasize how horribly suffering her heroine is. Not only from her illness but from being abandoned by her ex-fiancé, every single friend she ever had (we ask ourselves: what kind of “friends” were those?), her family (apart from her sisters) and who knows whom else.In addition to being ill, Chloe is overweight and black. At times, I’ve wondered how Hibbert managed to not…

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
Book Review / July 13, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng My rating: 5 of 5 stars Celeste Ng hit me unexpectedly hard with her debut novel “Everything I Never Told You”. I was blown away by that book and afraid I might not like this one as much. That fear was completely unfounded as I loved this book as much as its predecessor. Maybe a little more even since Ng has improved upon both her writing style (which I already liked the first time!) and her story. Again, we’re thrown right into the “end game” and work our way backwards into the past, learning how what happens in the end, is pretty much inevitable from the very beginning… The most impressive, though, is Ng’s “cast”: Mia, the artsy photographer, whose mysterious past still haunts her and let’s her lead a nomadic lifestyle with her daughter Pearl.Mia is more of a silent observer, someone who watches and listens. Who won’t judge but offer a shoulder to cry on and an arm to support others. ““Do what it takes,” Pauline had said to her as she had hugged her good-bye.” And Mia does it. Every single time. Almost completely altruistic in her behaviour towards others (with…

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
Book Review / July 6, 2020

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng My rating: 5 of 5 stars “Lydia is dead.”, these three words mark the beginning of Lydia’s journey which we’re about to embark upon. These three words make you think it cannot possibly get worse. Right until it gets worse. A lot worse. I can relate to this book on so many levels: First and foremost, I’m a father. I’m not prone to nightmares but there’s one that has haunted me countless times since my first child was born – losing a child. Fortunately, the nightmare didn’t become reality and I hope it stays that way. This is what this book is (partly) about, though: Losing a child. The reasons, the family, the friends (or lack of); everything is believable and feels shockingly truthful. Painfully so, even. Secondly, as the husband of a woman who made being independent a prerequisite for her moving in with me. A woman who spent the next 20 years lovingly caring for our children, as wise as Solomon, as strong as Hercules, as clever as Gandalf.A woman who then decided – quite unlike Marilyn – there was even more she wanted to do and moved on to…

Hemmersmoor, von Stefan Kiesbye
Book Review / July 4, 2020

Hemmersmoor by Stefan Kiesbye My rating: 1 of 5 stars “Hemmersmoor ist der Eingang zur Hölle.”, so endet der Klappentext und genau so ist mein Eindruck nach der Lektüre dieser Ansammlung von lose miteinander verwobenen Erzählungen über das fiktive Dorf Hemmersmoor und seine mehr als eigenartigen Bewohner. Leider ist die hier heraufbeschworene “Hölle” jedoch eine literarische, denn im Grunde ist das, was Kiesbye sich hier ausgedacht hat, ein obszöner, widerlicher Morast der Gewalt-Pornographie. Ein Beispiel: “Wir waren noch immer im Stimmbruch, als wir […], […] und […] vergewaltigten.” Damit ist dann auch schon alles wesentliche zum Inhalt gesagt; alle Geschichten drehen sich um Aberglaube… “Käthe Grimm war dem Blick eines heulenden Hundes gefolgt, als sie siebzehn Jahre alt war, und seitdem sah sie Irrlichter und schauerliche Trauerprozessionen nach Einbruch der Nacht und verfolgte die Hochzeiten der Untoten” … Rache… “Ich hatte mir meine Rache so lange ausgemalt, und ich hatte [ihn] nicht genug leiden sehen.” … Brutalität und Grausamkeit. Es fängt klein damit an, daß statt Blätter zwischen den Seiten schwerer Bücher zu trocken, diese “Methode an Eidechsen und Blindschleichen” erprobt wird und dabei vom Autor geradezu genußvoll die letzten Zuckungen der Tiere beschrieben werden. Nun könnte man mir entgegenhalten,…

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Book Review / June 29, 2020

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon My rating: 1 of 5 stars This is a strange book. From what its protagonist, Christopher, says about himself, it sounds like he’s somewhere on the autism scale. Once confronted with criticism about how he portrays Christopher, the author, Haddon, (from now on: The Weasel) takes the easiest possible way out: “2) curious incident is not a book about asperger’s. it’s a novel whose central character describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’. indeed he never uses the words ‘asperger’s’ or ‘autism’ (i slightly regret that fact that the word ‘asperger’s’ was used on the cover). if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. it’s as much a novel about us as it is about christopher.” That’s from The Weasel’s now-defunct blog but – thanks to Wayback Machine – you can find it here: http://web.archive.org/web/2018082508… “Asperger’s” is on the cover but it’s not what the book is about. Ooookaaayyy… But, hey, at least to The Weasel, he has a good reason for this. From the same site: “1) i know very little about…

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, by Stephen E. Ambrose
Book Review / June 27, 2020

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest by Stephen E. Ambrose My rating: 2 of 5 stars Recently, I watched the series “Band of Brothers” and was surprised by its quality. The often-used introductory statements of the former members of the 101st were very impressive and lent the series a lot of credibility. After having watched the final episode, I decided I wanted to read Ambrose’s book that served as the source material. Little did I know what awaited me… While the series provided me with a consistent, logical stream of events, the book simply adds anecdote after anecdote. There’s hardly any reflection on those anecdotes either and if Ambrose tries to add his analysis, it’s sadly lacking, simple-minded and features lots of “Hooray patriotism” that’s part of what actually caused the war he narrates about. At times, Ambrose tries to actually support his point of view by citing other works – unfortunately, they’re mostly of similarly questionable quality as his own book. In other cases, Ambrose references books that were written in the immediate aftermath of the war and, thus, still strongly subjectively influenced. I for one, though, prefer a proper…

Archer’s Voice, by Mia Sheridan
Book Review / June 19, 2020

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan My rating: 2 of 5 stars So, bad books, work sucks but it’s not too bad? A bit of escapism would be nice? Quickly, grab a fluffy romance novel and laugh, cry, cringe. Sometimes at the same time. That pretty much covers how I came to read this book – and for a long time, I was absolutely loving it because probably most of us have “leaned back against [our] car and grinned like a fool”. This is Bree Prescott, heroine in this wonderfully sappy romance, fawning over Archer Hale, “the local, mute loner” – well, you get the gist. This book features a lot of those moments and they were definitely a huge part of what made this book appeal to me.The writing is… adequate. It’s certainly not great but it fits the overall mood quite well: “I stared at him, our eyes meeting and tangling just like the first time we had met.” As long as you don’t actually think about “tangling eyes”, you’ll be fine. There are even a few insights in there that were unexpected, at least for me: “Maybe there was no right or wrong, no black or white, only…

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Book Review / June 16, 2020

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway My rating: 1 of 5 stars This is my second approach to the work of Ernest Hemingway and I thoroughly hated the experience. I dimly remember my first attempt when I had just seen “Hemingway”, 1988’s mini series about the author. I think at the time I read “A Farewell to Arms” and put it aside about half way through. Now, more than 30 years later, I thought it was time to revisit Hemingway and maybe I would like his work better this time. Cautiously, though, I opted for “The Old Man and the Sea”, fearing I might still be bored. Which I was. Thoroughly. The old fisherman going out to fish, ill-prepared, being pulled out onto the deep sea in a small boat, a skiff, by a fish that’s about as large as said skiff, battling it out, may be impressive to an author who loved bull-fighting, women and drinking hard but it’s nothing I care about anymore. For me, this is it: A Farewell to… Hemingway View all my reviews

The Shooting at Chateau Rock (Bruno, Chief of Police #13), by Martin Walker
Book Review / June 14, 2020

The Shooting at Chateau Rock by Martin Walker My rating: 2 of 5 stars I’ve been a Bruno fan from the very first book on. I enjoyed reading so much about himself, his friends and the entire town.For quite a few books, things were developing nicely and Bruno became a favourite of mine. With this book, this ended. It all starts interesting enough with the death of an old sheep farmer and his children suspecting foul play when they find out they’ve effectively been disinherited. Bruno promises them to look into the entire issue and does fairly well, using his expertise of rural laws and regulations – I was actually getting my hopes up of getting a real Bruno experience. Like a welcome mixture of… “Sex, drugs, murder—and cruelty to animals.” … as Walker puts it at one point. The mystery that starts out so well, takes a backseat to a confusing tale of an aging rockstar, his adult children, a Russian oligarch, his daughter, the Ukraine conflict and world politics… “Chateau Rock” reads like Walker is simply trying to boast about his cultural knowledge, e. g. About music and, thus, let’s Bruno, a rural French flic say this: “He…

Winteraustern (Luc Verlain #3), von Alexander Oetker
Book Review / June 11, 2020

Winteraustern von Alexander Oetker My rating: 4 of 5 stars Schon seit Jahrzehnten habe ich eine Schwäche für Frankreich. Allerdings ist mein Französisch doch inzwischen sehr, sehr “eingerostet”, so daß eine Kommunikation auch stark von Gestik und Mimik abhängt. Insofern bin ich immer dankbar, wenn man sich – meist lachend – auf halbem Wege entgegen kommt.Andererseits aber verbindet Deutschland und Frankreich nach Jahrhunderten der (milde ausgedrückt) Rivalität eine im Vergleich dazu noch junge Freundschaft. Nimmt man dazu noch Verdun, Izieu, Lyon und all die anderen Gräuel, die Deutschland, mein Land, seinem Nachbarn Frankreich angetan hat, so ist es keine Selbstverständlichkeit, daß meine Familie und ich immer mit offenen Armen empfangen wurden. Insofern sei auch geschrieben, was ich sonst nur beim Überqueren der Grenze ausrufe: “Vive la France!” Seit einigen Jahren bereits nimmt ein interessanter Trend zu: Ausgerechnet deutsche Autoren wie Jörg “Commissaire Dupin” Bong (unter dem Pseudonym Jean-Luc Bannalec) oder eben, wie hier, Alexander Oetker, schreiben über Frankreich. Vielleicht ist dies auch Martin Walkers erfolgreicher Bruno-Reihe zu verdanken; auf jeden Fall aber komme ich nicht umhin, diese Bücher zumindest mal probehalber “anzulesen”. Oetker, um dessen bereits drittes Buch um seinen Commissaire Luc Verlain es hier geht, siedelt diesen in der…