Cold Heart Creek (Detective Josie Quinn #7), by Lisa Regan
Book Review / January 24, 2020

Cold Heart Creek by Lisa Regan My rating: 4 of 5 stars Phew, Josie is back! After having been disappointed by Her Silent Cry, the previous instalment in the Josie Quinn series, this book brings her back on the right track. This time, Josie investigates the murder of a couple and the disappearance of a friend of theirs, deep in the woods. A hermit, some creepy underground caverns and a strange cult feature prominently in this story and lend it a lot of atmosphere and, at least to me, a strong appeal. Of course, “Cold Heart Creek” is the same literary junk food as its predecessors and, thus, you shouldn’t expect deep insights into the state of mankind, human nature or the question to 42 but if you – like me – enjoy a good thriller with likeable protagonists, despicable villains and some fast-paced action in combination with a good part police procedural, you can’t really go wrong with this book. I have just one minor gripe: The resolution of a long-term dilemma of Josie’s is rather simplistic and, in my opinion, less than convincing. View all my reviews

Herkunft, von Saša Stanišić
Book Review / January 15, 2020

Herkunft, von Saša Stanišić My rating: 5 of 5 stars “»Wo bist du zu Hause?« »Meine Sonne«, sagt Großmutter. »Meine Freude. Mein Esel. Begreif das endlich. Es zählt nicht, wo was ist. Oder woher man ist. Es zählt, wohin du gehst. Und am Ende zählt nicht mal das. Schau mich an: Ich weiß weder, woher ich komme, noch wohin ich gehe. Und ich kann dir sagen: Manchmal ist das gar nicht so schlecht.«” Ein neues Jahr und die erste Rezension – zu diesem Anlaß habe ich einmal mehr in meiner Muttersprache gelesen. Saša Stanišić war mir als Autor völlig unbekannt und nur durch die Vorstellung seines Buches “Herkunft”, das den Deutschen Buchpreis 2019 gewann, in “Druckfrisch” und das Gespräch zwischen dem von mir hoch geschätzten Denis Scheck und Stanišić, wurde ich auf ihn aufmerksam. Um es gleich vorweg zu nehmen: “Herkunft” ist ein überaus persönliches Buch und erzählt aus Stanišić’ Leben. Insofern mag nicht jeder sich mit diesem Werk anfreunden können. Auch ich tat mich insbesondere anfangs sehr schwer mit Stil und Inhalt: “Der Hund findet im Gebüsch einen Stück Stoff, blau, weiß, rot, wie die Fahne. Nicht zu glauben, flüstere ich. Der Hund riecht nach frisch gemähtem Gras. Ich…

Warden’s Vengeance (Ancient Guardians, #4), by Tony James Slater
Book Review / January 8, 2020

The new year’s first review and, again, it’s a difficult one to write. In part because I did somewhat enjoy this latest instalment of “Ancient Guardians”. On the other hand, though, in spite of being a page-turner, I was constantly shifting between liking and hating this book. First of all, it’s more of pretty much exactly the same as in the previous books – Tris is fighting for peace in the universe, tagging along are Kreon, Kyra and the others. There’s a new babysitter as well who remains pretty bleak and shallow, though. The gore is back as well – not quite as annoying as in the third book but it’s still there, it’s still annoying and completely superfluous. I’m convinced it’s included for the kick some guys get out of such stuff. Back in force as well are the typos, ungrammatical sentences, bad formatting, etc.; while I really think self-publishing is a great thing, one should at least make better use (or try to engage better) beta readers: “One the one hand, a man like Gerian would demand the best when it came to his guards;” Mistakes like that are just annoying and you’ll find lots of them –…

Little Wren and the Big Forest (The Legends of the First Empire 0.6), by Michael J. Sullivan
Book Review / December 16, 2019

Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 2 of 5 stars This was, unfortunately, a quick and painful read. We’re observing how Wren enters the big – forbidden and foreboding – forest despite her entire family having disappeared in it before. Even worse: She goes into the forest knowing full well it’s a trap and, “being eight years old and small for her age” she has absolutely nothing to expect but being lost forever herself. As if that wasn’t enough already, the story feels forced, a lacklustre piece that’s even gory in part which is something I’m definitely not used to when it comes to Michael’s books and other short stories. Ultimately, it ends with a whimper of a solution that is as forgettable as the entire thing. Just stay away from this short story and choose from Michael’s other works which are simply marvellous! View all my reviews

The Secret Chapter (The Invisible Library #6), by Genevieve Cogman
Book Review / December 13, 2019

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman My rating: 5 of 5 stars “Stories matter – telling them, sharing them, preserving them, changing them, learning from them, and escaping with and through them. We learn about ourselves and the world that we live in through fiction just as much as through facts. Empathy, perception and understanding are never wasted. All libraries are a gateway into other worlds, including the past – and the future.” It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that featured a passage good enough for an opening quote. And the above passage is just from the Cogman’s acknowledgements at the very beginning. Fortunately, the implicit promise given holds true for this sixth instalment of the series. Originally, I intended to give this book four stars, maybe mention it’s more like 4.5 but when I thought about what’s missing in this book for the fifth full star, I couldn’t really think of anything. Yes, there’s not much “philosophical depth” to be found in “The Secret Chapter” but when I contemplated that, I realised I’m perfectly fine with that – the entire series is a lot of fun and yet gives some food for thought and sometimes that’s…

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…