Age of Death (The Legends of the First Empire #5), by Michael J. Sullivan
Book Review / November 30, 2019

Age of Death by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 3 of 5 stars It pains me to write this but I didn’t really like “Age of Death”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book per se. It’s just that it feels flat and – ironically – lifeless. That’s probably why it took me almost a month to finish it. “Age of Death” starts where Age of Legend, the previous book, left off with a huge cliffhanger. Now our heroes move on into, uh, a sort of different realm… No, this won’t do: If you haven’t read the previous book yet, stop reading this review here – afterwards spoilers for the series as a whole might lurk! So, without further ado: Our heroes waded into the pool and died. They now enter the “afterlife” and meander through the different realms of it. This is my first issue: I’m an antitheist. Even if I suspend my disbelief and my opposition to anything related to faith, I’m simply not interested in any such ideas. Michael J. Sullivan is one of my favourite authors but even his ideas on afterlife are irrelevant to me even though I found myself at one time…

The Darker Arts (Frey & McGray, #5), by Oscar de Muriel
Book Review / November 4, 2019

The Darker Arts by Oscar de Muriel My rating: 1 of 5 stars I read one book at a time, always. I simply cannot just “switch” from one book to another anymore. So, if I hit a rotten tomato I tend to actually read less. I’m typing this on my iPhone. A minute ago, I found myself wondering and thinking, “I usually read at a time like this.” – while I was playing a game. Then it began to dawn on me: ‘How much must you despise a book to fantasise about writing its review on GoodReads while actively trying to avoid reading said book?!‘ The answer in a nutshell: Very much, and the reason is that pretty much everything in this book is bland, wrong and unbalanced. Let’s start with the supernatural aspects: While I’m in no way superstitious, don’t believe in anything supernatural, I actually greatly enjoyed the ambivalence of the previous instalments in this series. For McGray pretty much everything was at least supernaturally influenced whereas Frey never really believed in anything like that. The resulting strains between both and the different approaches made things interesting. It made for a nice balance. Even better: De Muriel kept…

A Bitter Feast (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18), by Deborah Crombie
Book Review / October 21, 2019

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie My rating: 5 of 5 stars Wow, we’re already at the 18th instalment of this great series. When I picked this book up, I was slightly worried how I would like it, considering that I haven’t exactly had much luck with long-running series this year; the latest Dupin a disappointment almost as badly as the latest Bruno (review here). Would Deborah Crombie let me down as well? Would she make me wish for Duncan and Gemma, whose exploits I’ve been following for years, to finally ride into the sunset? The answer, fortunately, is a resounding “NO!”. Set this time in the Cotswolds – and thus outside Duncan’s and Gemma’s jurisdiction – we find ourselves at Beck House, the summer house of Melody Talbot’s parents, Ivan and Addie. What was planned as a carefree weekend for Duncan, Gemma, Melody and Doug with a charity luncheon turns into something much more sinister when it comes to light that one of the victims of a car accident had already been dead at the time of the collision… The other victim of said collision is actually Duncan Kincaid himself – fortunately alone in the car at the time….

Fallen (Alex Verus, #10) by Benedict Jacka
Book Review / October 14, 2019

Fallen by Benedict Jacka My rating: 3 of 5 stars Let me state clearly where I stand when it comes to Alex Verus: I think he’s the greatest Urban Fantasy protagonist ever. I’ve enjoyed every single book in the series and I enjoyed this latest instalment as well – just not as much as most of the others, unfortunately. Why though? The trademark humour is there, Luna is there and so are Anne, Variam, Arachne and others. Sadly, they mostly take a place on the backseat this time. Luna barely gets any serious “stage” time; she’s generally around and worries a lot but doesn’t get to do or experience much. For such an important character that’s pretty sad. We do get to see more of Anne who has a more “active” role in the proceedings but she remains unrefined and pale compared to many other characters. Maybe part of that is my own perception, though; I’ve never felt that Anne added much to the books – she always felt like the obligatory love interest and I never found her especially interesting. It’s probably because of that I don’t care very much about the role she plays in this tenth book….

Sword of Destiny (The Witcher, #0.75), by Andrzej Sapkowski,
Book Review / October 11, 2019

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski My rating: 5 of 5 stars “‘Who the hell are you?’ Geralt asked again, leaning forward. ‘What are you doing… in this forest? How did you get here?’ The girl lowered her head and sniffed loudly. ‘Cat got your tongue? Who are you, I said? What’s your name?’ ‘Ciri,’ she said, sniffing.” Once more we return to Geralt of Rivia, the eponymous Witcher, and his deeds. Mostly, though, “Sword of Destiny” serves to define Geralt with respect to his friends. We get to meet Dandelion again, and, of course, Geralt and Yennefer of Vengerberg cross paths several times as they are… Well, whatever they are, they certainly don’t know themselves. Most importantly, though, Geralt meets Ciri, the Child of the Elder Blood, for the first time. Ciri, who will become so important in Geralt’s life. We meet her three times throughout the stories in this book which are loosely connected to each other but mostly show us who Geralt truly is. The more I read, the more loose threads I dimly remembered from the entire saga actually turned out to be picked up and resolved. I liked this book the first time I read…

Der Blaue Lotos (Tim und Struppi, Band 4) von Hergé
Book Review / September 26, 2019

Der blaue Lotos von Hergé My rating: 3 of 5 stars “Der Blaue Lotus” entstand im Jahr 1934 und wurde bereits 1946 erneut überarbeitet und es wurden wiederum auch inhaltliche Änderungen vorgenommen. Auch hier versucht Hergé wieder eine “runde” Geschichte zu erzählen, doch leider mißlingt ihm das gründlich: Die Story besteht in wesentlichen Teilen aus Tims fortgesetzter Flucht und Wieder-Inhaftierung. Ein Entkommen ist dabei absurder als das Vorangegangene. Erstmals allerdings – und das spürt man wohltuend – hat Hergé sich nicht mehr einzig auf “Erlesenes” oder ihm Berichtetes verlassen, sondern hat sich – obschon nicht ganz ohne Druck – mit seiner Materie beschäftigt. War also bisher der Kolonialismus und Imperialismus uneingeschränkt gut und allenfalls die “edlen Wilden” als Relikte einer im Untergehen begriffenen und “minderwertigen” Kultur geduldet, schlägt das Pendel nun mehr in die andere Richtung aus – Hergé versucht sich mit Hilfe seines Freundes Zhang Chongren, einem chinesischem Künstler, ein besseres Bild zu machen und sich von bornierten Vorurteilen zu verabschieden. Er tut dies auf recht “platte” und naive Weise, aber – und das muß man sich bei der Beurteilung immer vor Augen halten – Hergé ist nun einmal Kind seiner Zeit und muß jedes Quäntchen Freiheit mühsam erringen….

Her Silent Cry (Detective Josie Quinn #6), by Lisa Regan
Book Review / September 25, 2019

Her Silent Cry by Lisa Regan My rating: 3 of 5 stars In this sixth instalment of Regan’s Josie Quinn series a child is abducted in a rather complex way and more “surprises” await Josie and her team during the investigation because not everything is as it looks at the beginning… At least it’s not like it looks to Josie or anyone on her team because very early on there is a horrible give-away as to the reasons of the abduction which made me see a lot of the things to come right from the start. That was a huge let-down and while there’s still a lot of suspense, it severely detracted from the potential this book showed. This is especially disappointing for me as I’ve really enjoyed “following” Josie during her cases so far. While the books in this series never had much depth and were at no point intellectually challenging, they were suspenseful, often surprising and never dull. Compared to other cases, though, this one – while not exactly dragging on – isn’t quite as fast-paced. All the more so if one considers the tumultuous events of the previous book. What’s missing as well are the actual characters…

Die Zigarren des Pharaos (Tim und Struppi, Band 3) von Hergé
Book Review / September 21, 2019

Die Zigarren des Pharaos by Hergé My rating: 4 of 5 stars “Hurra, ich spreche elefantisch!” Der vorliegende Band, “Die Zigarren des Pharaos”, entstand im Jahr 1932 und wurde 1955 überarbeitet und koloriert. Dabei wurden auch geringfügige inhaltliche Änderungen vorgenommen, die aber der Geschichte keinen Abbruch tun. Tatsächlich ist dieser Band der erste, der eine konsistente und unterhaltsame Geschichte erzählt und nicht mehr die vorher übliche Ansammlung von mehr oder minder lose verknüpften Szenen. Erstmals tauchen auch die ersten altbekannten Figuren auf: Hier sind es die tollpatschigen Detektive Schulze und Schultze, die jedoch über weite Teile des Bandes Tim festnehmen wollen und ihm – im Gegensatz zu späteren Bänden der Reihe – nicht oder nur aus wenig altruistischen Gründen helfen. Auch eine Premiere: Dies ist der erste Band, der mich wirklich unterhalten und mir Spaß gemacht hat. View all my reviews

Burning Alexandria, by Michael J. Sullivan
Book Review / September 18, 2019

Burning Alexandria by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 4 of 5 stars Basically, the blurb says it all – a (book) hoarder in a post-apocalyptic world lives among his tons of books and realises he’ll have to burn some of them. Unfortunately, he’s not the brightest bulb (not even in a world without power!) and, thus, disaster happens. This is a nice-ish short story without any connection to Michael’s other works. It pretty much lives from the setting (books filling a small house entirely – sans a few “paths” – lovely though in theory!), the “name-dropping” (all the big post-modern names appear) and the central dilemma of burning books. The latter is this short story’s saving grace in my book because as Heinrich Heine, the great German poet, wrote as early as 1823 (and, thus, eerily predicting the Holocaust): “Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.” (“Where books are burned, in the end, people will also be burned.”) Might be worth a read if the above sounds interesting to you but, honestly, you won’t really miss much if you skip this one. If, though, you’ve reached the point at which you secretly (cough) adore the ground…

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15), by Louise Penny
Book Review / September 17, 2019

A Better Man by Louise Penny My rating: 5 of 5 stars Two years ago, I somehow came across “Still Life”, the first in a series about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec, Canada. It was a good book, no doubt, and I was quick to catch up with the series which I greatly enjoyed. What I expected to be a standard police procedural turned out to be so much more. Gamache isn’t the young, enthusiastic investigator but a man in his fifties who has experienced a lot and instead of becoming disillusioned, embittered or hopeless as one might expect, he grows. “Things are strongest where they’re broken.” is how Gamache puts it and how he lives – and he himself has been broken a lot of times. He’s not the “Gentleman police officer” that George’s Lynley is (or used to be). He’s not Rankin’s cynical Inspector Rebus. Armand Gamache is a literary unicum. In this fifteenth novel of the series, Gamache investigates the disappearance of a young woman who is beaten by her husband. She is soon found dead and so is her murderer. If he can be convicted, though, is not quite as certain… As…