You go me on the cookie! by Dana Newman

You go me on the cookie!

You go me on the cookie! by Dana Newman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Dear Dana,

I‘ve watched your videos on YouTube and really enjoyed myself – I like your style, your charming, fresh, delightful and funny presentation. It‘s both greatly amusing and relaxing as well as informative and interesting.
I’ll never forget the video in which you explain your opinions on the USA and their current administration as it deeply moved me and showed a side of you rarely seen.

Your book, too, started strong: Indiana Jones of linguistics – I could almost picture you wearing a fedora and whipping the German language; my native language. I feel thoroughly at home in English as well; I’m having a lifelong love affair with it. 😉

Unfortunately, the book becomes annoying pretty early as you start explaining even small things like quotation marks (“Anführungszeichen gewollt”). If you put something in quotation marks that doesn’t need it, your readers will get your meaning. We’re not daft, don’t spell it out.

At times, it looks like you’re forgetting you’re writing a book and not a blog post or something like that and start YELLING AT US.
Please don’t do that. It’s like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut (Mit Kanonen auf Spatzen schießen 😉 ).

Another example of “blogisms” are the overused interjections like this one: “Haha! Scherz! Die versteht doch kein Mensch, oder?”
Either something is funny or it’s not. As you write yourself later, chances are high it’s not that funny if you have to explain it. Or, as you put it, “manchmal funktioniert der Witz auch nur für mich”. All to often that’s the case here.

At other times you start lecturing us, e. g. when writing about sentence structure and verb placement. Taking an unfunny longish sentence nobody would ever use doesn’t help either.

Really truly jarring are the factual mistakes, though: Starting with the fact that “Bretzel” is not a word but a simple misspelling of “Brezel” (cf. the Duden as the ultimate authority on German).
You don’t have to know that but your translator should have, and your editor, etc.

And don’t listen to Stefan, please, when it comes to German: The genetive might, unfortunately, not be used as it should be but that’s simply part laziness and part ignorance, sorry!
It really is “wegen des Regens”, not “wegen dem Regen”. If you want read about this, I strongly recommend Bastian Sick’s “Der Dativ ist dem Genetiv sein Tod” (sic).

By the way, wouldn’t you say “Sehnsucht” translates very well to “longing” or “yearning”?

Anyway, in spite of all of my criticism there is a lot of the 😉 Dana in here; if it’s you accidentally expressing your desire to eat all those animals in the park, or the following poetic passage which evoked images of you in some of your videos:

“[…] ich kann mich daran erinnern, dass mein Herz förmlich dahinschmolz, sich schnell wieder fasste, nur um dann vor Freude zu hüpfen und zu tanzen.”

I’m loving that one. 🙂

In short, Dana, please keep making amazing, funny, touching, beautiful videos. That’s where you shine the brightest.

(Oh, and while I certainly respect you deeply, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to Du’z you! 😉 )

Best regards, Wulf




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire, #3)

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Modest underrated genius

TLDR; Legends of the First Empire are magical pieces of art but accessible to everyone, created by an amazing author and you don’t want to miss out on any of his books if you even remotely consider reading fantasy.


I rarely feel compelled to write a review and it’s actually the first time ever I feel an obligation to write one.

Michael J. Sullivan is the creator of Hadrian and Royce, two unlikely heroes, put together by circumstance, fate or whatever you prefer. I enjoyed those novels greatly and can hardly wait for the next installment. They, both the characters and the books, are clever, entertaining and feature very unobtrusive yet important morals.
Those novel have always hinted at what Michael might accomplish and what, to me, seems to rapidly become his magnum opus: The Legends of the First Empire

Calling the books of the Legends a prequel would be unfair because even though their narration predates Hadrian and Royce by far, they shine on their own. In Legends, Michael narrates slowly and patiently (at first at least!) how humanity rose to power beyond the elves, dwarves and other races around in his world. Is it actually Michael’s world, though?

I would laud his world building as brilliant and hardly ever matched. That would be wrong, though, because Michael didn’t just invent a world and built upon it; instead he cautiously took our world and gave it a living, breathing history. I can imagine how my great-grandparents lived but that’s pretty much it. Everything that came before them is a rather murky affair; I have read about earlier times and while it (sometimes) sated my curiosity, I never really “connected”. In countless museums I’ve seen in great detail how people from pretty much any period lived and that, too, was interesting on an intellectual level but I never felt pieces falling into place.

And then Michael came along: Starting from the day-to-day life in a small settlement to leveling entire mountains using magic, he tells us how we might have come to be. While Micheal is certainly most capable of painting said history with broad strokes, he has an immensely human understanding when to apply the small brushes and use tiny strokes to unerringly add details that fit in so neatly that you might not even notice them.

Every little details has its place and its meaning. Every character is a small world in itself and fits into the big picture or, actually, the piece of art Michael created (did you try burning something with your mind yet, Michael? 😉 ) and you’ll understand them, feel with them, sometimes want to shout at them or grab and shake them.

Speaking of characters: Michael’s characters are far from Aragorn, Gandalf or any other heroic types. Michael’s heroes are you and me, everyone. Most characters actually do what they do because they simply have no viable alternative. They don’t want power, or lord over anyone or even create things – they just can’t help it.

Now, go and read those books – both you and they deserve it!




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette

Operation Hail Storm (Hail, #1)

Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


I was given this ebook for free by the author.

In short: An eccentric rich guy called Hail kills a North Korean bad guy, the US administration notices, sends Hail on a mission to break stuff and sends a female “supermodel” CIA agent, Kara, with him.

The story is lousy and the entire book has tons of useless techno babble in it that should simply have been scrapped. One of the main characters puts it very nicely:

“That meant nothing to Kara. But she did understand that the ship’s big gun was being loaded and brought online. How it worked, she didn’t care.”

Neither do we, especially not after having been treated to pages after pages about steering drones, activating weapons, etc.

The protagonist, Hail, is a highly annoying character:

Hail is sexist…
“It was so damn difficult to register this face, this body, this female package with a hardcore CIA agent.”
“It was just so damn difficult to take this supermodel for real.”

… a macho with nasty attitudes, seeing himself as “the executioner – an exterminator of vermin”, with a blatant disregard for people in general…

“The lieutenant said, “Even if I wanted to, look, there are people down there.” “They’ll move,” Hail argued. “I mean, if you saw a massive helicopter coming down on your head, wouldn’t you move?””

Then there are the typos and the grammar… One example:

“The truck is here,” Kornev said in English. “I have your man opening the warehouse doors.” He nodded sleepily and tried to stand.

/Kornev/ nodded sleepily? I don’t think so – it’s actually the guy he’s talking to but why would an author have to know how to write…

That’s really all you want to know about this book which consists pretty much entirely of sexism, senseless techno babble, copyright violations (multiple verbatim copies from Wikipedia) and not much else.




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis

Rise (Order of the Krigers, #1)

Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program. As I’ve often received sub-par books, I was somewhat sceptical about this book as well. Turns out I was wrong, to some extent at least.


While “Rise” does have quite a few deus-ex-machina moments (a certain rescue comes to mind), even some (more or less) glaring plot holes (what are the “apparitions” during a trial of our heroine, are some of them actually there, etc. etc.?) and some “why did she do *that* now?!” moments, this book was a real page-turner for me. I’ve lost a not-so-small number of hours of sleep over it, actually, which doesn’t happen all that often.


In spite of the shortcomings I mentioned before, our heroine is likeable, smart (sometimes…) and obviously fairly powerful. Her primary adversary is written as a multi-faceted character (but still fairly shrouded in mystery at the end of the book) and due to that, a fairly interesting figure. As are several side-kicks of the heroine (yes, sorry, I’ve forgotten her name as neither her nor the book are ultimately *that* remarkable 🙂 ) who grow (despite formulaically at times) into their respective roles mostly well.


Another gripe of mine with the book is that certain terms (e. g. “Krigers” from the title) rooted in German are used but mutilated, e. g. in German it’s “Krieger” (and has been for centuries!). So if you use foreign words in an attempt to make your book more “exotic” take at least the time to do your homework and “import” those foreign words properly. (After all, we don’t write “computer” as “Komputer” in German either.)


Anyway, ultimately, for any fan of the fantasy genre (who has read all the genre’s classics) willing to suspend their disbelief a bit more than usual this book is recommended (with some reservations). I’m looking forward to the next instalment in this series.




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George

A Banquet of Consequences (Inspector Lynley, #19)

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Sodium azide? Just take it and be done with it, George.

This book was so extraordinarily bad, I don’t even know where to start criticizing it.

I’ve read all the Lynley novels and enjoyed them greatly until one of the protagonists was killed off. From then on, not only a life derailed but the entire series and its author.

It looks like George would much prefer to become known for “serious” books instead of mysteries but doesn’t understand she simply doesn’t have it in herself to ever really succeed at that.

Instead, she keeps writing horribly bad books that deserve no praise at all because they fail at being mysteries and serious social criticism both.

Just calling it a Lynley novel doesn’t really make it one and this certainly was the last sham I’ve fallen victim of.



View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

Into the Decay by Justin K. Arthur

Into the Decay (Gods of Destruction, #1)

Into the Decay by Justin K. Arthur

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was yet another pleasant surprise from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.


This is a classic example for not judging a book by its cover because – let’s be honest – the cover looks like a failed experiment.


The book itself, though, is fairly enjoyable. In fact, the story telling, the writing and the overall style (which *is* somewhat rough at the edges) reminds me of an early Brandon Sanderson.


The story was interesting and fairly well told. 




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

Silk by Chris Karlsen

Silk

Silk by Chris Karlsen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is yet another win from Early Reviewers. Unfortunately, it’s a completely forgettable book. I’ve read “Silk” some time ago and waited to write this review for a while to see what I would actually remember and how I would feel about it.

The story is pretty much standard murder mystery: Killer kills woman, police tries to find him with the limited means of the time, police catches murders.

In between, there’s a bored guy from the landed gentry who tries to achieve eternal youth by acquiring an obscure potion, seduces every woman he meets and kills most of them because it turns him on.

There’s the lonely cop with a funny name and his sidekick, their annoying boss and a bit of romance thrown in uninspiredly. The author tries to add a bit of philosophy (“Was he always like that or was it the potion? Everyone seems to have loved him! Must have been the potion” – “No, young padawan, he must have been a monster before because no elixir exists to turn someone into one.”) but fails at that as well.

Honestly, find something else to read. This book is simply uninspired and boring.




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

Leaving Montana by Thomas Whaley

Leaving Montana

Leaving Montana by Thomas Whaley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was yet another surprisingly good book from early reviewers. As usual, I won’t bother with a summary especially since the description is already pretty good.
The story is basically narrated on two different levels in time which are slowly being merged into the current day. Especially in the beginning, this is done masterfully and effortlessly. It’s getting slightly harder to understand towards the end of the book when the time frames are getting nearer to each other but it’s still very well done.
There are a few minor issues that make me subtract one star:  – There are several occurrences of the nowadays common mistake of using “[I] could care less” when it actually should be “[I] could *not* care less”, e. g. “He acted as if he could care less, but the fact was he did.” (Chapter 5) – A few times, when it should be “then” the author’s mistakenly using the comparative “than” instead. – Fairly regularly, there are instances of a missing comma.
These minor issues, though, hardly ever really have an impact on the enjoyment of the book as a whole. It’s brilliantly written, I can relate to almost all characters which are believable, well fleshed out and fitting extremely well into the narration.
In contrast to another reviewer, I believe the book has exactly the right size – it never became long-winded for me and everything told was on some level important to the story. I never grew bored or disinterested.
If and when there’s a second edition with the minor issues I pointed out fixed, this could become an almost flawless gem.




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

Arctic Wargame by Ethan Jones

Arctic Wargame (Justin Hall, #1)

Arctic Wargame by Ethan Jones

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This review may contain spoilers!

Since I got this book in a give-away, I really hoped I’d like it. Alas, it was not to be.

First of all, the plot is thin. Thinner than a sheet of ice on a puddle. Evil Danes (or rather: a single evil Dane, being blackmailed by clichée russians) attacking Canada with a bunch of common criminals.

On the other side are some non-descript Canadians (our bland hero), some noble natives (one of them constantly drunk, corrupted by the evil white men!) and a compassionate American nurse which fight the evil criminal Danes. Oh, and there’s the hero’s love interest who happens to be around for no discernible reason – she adds nothing to the story, doesn’t seem to have any useful talents and is usually just being an accessory.

I’m absolutely willing to suspend my disbelief; I might even have accepted the ridiculous notion of a small country like Denmark attacking Canada, an ally, if the storytelling hadn’t been so incredibly boring. The entire story is so unbelievably predictable that only a feeling of obligation towards the author made me finish it.

The characters are so one-dimensional and uninteresting, I didn’t even care who was going to win (even though there never was any doubt), live or die. None of them are fleshed out enough to even remotely care about any of them – the heroes are always virtuous and brave, the villains are always bad and evil and the two not-so-evil Danes are daft and boring – one of them suspects something’s not right from the very beginning, then witnesses a cold-blooded murder but instead of notifying his boss’ (the single evil Dane) superiors and ending things right there and then, just plays along – endangering his life and that of his partner.

The one endearing quality of this book is its shortness – I finished it as quickly as I will have forgotten about it completely.

If you want a real thriller in an arctic setting, get “Ice Station Zebra” by Alistair MacLean and stay away from this book.




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

The Normans: From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth

The Normans: From Raiders to Kings

The Normans: From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. I thought the topic of the Normans was interesting but didn’t get my hopes up high since I had never heard of the author before, popular history books are usually not my taste and the cover was somewhat attention-seeking.

I very quickly got drawn into the book deeply, though. Brownworth definitely succeeds in explaining the main Norman rulers and their feats. I was a bit worried about all the names and references but most of the time, a chapter or a few later, Brownworth picks up and expands on the subject he mentioned before and one gets an excellent overview.

Sometimes, the chapters are a bit short and there would likely be more to say about the respective protagonist (e. g. Frederick II deserves more attention than he gets here, I think) but all in all, this book makes a very interesting read. I like how Brownworth isn’t shy to voice his own opinion about the respective protagonist at the end of almost every chapter – I don’t always agree with his assessment but I like his style.

I can’t really say much about the historical accuracy but this book made me read up on quite a few of the Normans depicted and that’s definitely a good sign.




View all my reviews

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects: Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop), Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop), Calibre plugin iOS reader applications, Calibre plugin Marvin XD, chroot-manager, stuff on github, lots of other projects. If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂