Into the Decay by Justin K. Arthur
Book Review / October 27, 2015

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

Silk by Chris Karlsen
Book Review / May 16, 2015

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…

Leaving Montana by Thomas Whaley
Book Review / September 7, 2014

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,…

Arctic Wargame by Ethan Jones
Book Review / May 12, 2014

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…

The Normans: From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth
Book Review / March 9, 2014

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…

A Life Without Fear by Leo King
Book Review / January 10, 2014

A Life Without Fear by Leo King My rating: 2 of 5 stars This book is the sequel to The Bourbon Street Ripper by the same author, Leo King. If you’re interested in this book, you basically have to read the first book because this one starts right after it. You can read my review of the first book here:… That said, this review must be split into two parts. Basically, “A Life Without Fear” is more of the same in a good way. It definitely improves upon the first book and I definitely enjoyed reading most of it – it’s another page turner. Unfortunately, the same criticisms apply here, too: Some scenes (more than in book 1) are overly gory. It’s not like that was necessary at all but Leo King obviously enjoys writing such scenes. I can live with that but I don’t exactly like that aspect. Furthermore, quite a bit of suspension of disbelief has to be applied – superhuman abilities, strange alliances but I don’t really have a problem with that. Personally, I smiled and decided to let me get carried away by the story. 🙂 There are still the voodoo elements and some hints…

Chasing the Storm by Martin Molsted
Book Review / December 19, 2013

Chasing the Storm by Martin Molsted My rating: 2 of 5 stars This is undoubtedly an ambitious book; something debut novels often are. Just as often, they don’t live up to those ambitions as is the case with this one. The protagonist, Togrim Rygg at first seems to be just some kind of business man – and suddenly, out of nowhere, he acts like James Bond. He refuses to take a map because he has “everything memorized. Safer.” and likewise he declares “All hackers have big heads”. There’s absolutely no indication at that point in the book how he would know that – it’s completely out-of-character. This is most likely the crudest way I’ve ever seen an author use to convey to the reader that there might be more to the unlikely hero than immediately meets the eye. Similarly, his friend, Marko Marin, tells Rygg “That is what I need from you. Keep us in form.”. At this point of the novel, Marin has no way of knowing that Rygg might be more than a random business man. Such inconsistencies are marring the entire book. That’s not all, though: Throughout the entire book, Rygg switches between being a James Bond…

Dog Days – Deadly Passage by Joe McKinney
Book Review / November 4, 2013

Dog Days – Deadly Passage by Joe McKinney My rating: 3 of 5 stars I don’t like horror stories and I don’t like “supernatural” nonsense. That said, I actually enjoyed these two short stories which are basically from the horror genre and are bordering on “supernatural”. If only  “Dog Days” was to be reviewed, I’d rate it with four stars because it’s clearly the much better story. The set up is (mostly) believable and its characters likeable and, at least when it comes to the primary protagonists, well-written. You can relate to the young hero and – in part – to his friends and enemies. The rest of the characters are not too far off to accept them. All in all, the story is intrinsically sound and enjoyable. Of course, there are a few issues, e. g. with the timeline – it’s end of June and on the 19th of July something is expected to happen and the hero thinks that’s in “less than two weeks”. Not *quite* right but nothing that really spoils the experience. There’s a ghost that pops up twice for no good reason at all and should just have been cut out of the book –…

Summer’s End by Lisa Morton
Book Review / September 1, 2013

Summer’s End by Lisa Morton My rating: 1 of 5 stars Occult nonsense and boring at that Let’s instead start at the very beginning: The cover. It looks cheap and badly done. Tons of artifacts, especially around the arms. The text looks like it belongs to some romance novel, not a wanna-be occult horror “novella”. And, oh, yes, it certainly is a “novella” which is good because much more than the about 24.000 words this thing offers would have been insufferable. Since some endorsements are placed prominently at the beginning, let’s see what others have to say. A certain Gary A. Braunbeck states it’s “the best work she’s ever done” – well, thanks, Gary, for the warning. He adds another notable statement “Don’t start reading with any preconceived notions about horror *or* storytelling because they’ll be shredded into confetti […]”. He’s completely right: I’ve always thought storytelling was about making the reader feel, breathe and live within the story. Gary wouldn’t agree, I guess, if he thinks what Morton does is storytelling. According to some Ray Garton, Morton “has created something so strikingly unique that it stands alone in the genre.” – Yes, I don’t think I’ve ever read something…

The Hitler Diaries by Jim Williams
Book Review / July 27, 2013

The Hitler Diaries by Jim Williams My rating: 2 of 5 stars This certainly isn’t a bad book. Unfortunately, it shows that this book was its author’s first novel. The story is fairly convoluted with a lot of characters most of which are expendable and don’t really add much to the book. The decision not to do additional work  before this re-publication was, in my eyes, a mistake since the story could have benefited greatly from some down-stripping to the essentials.  For me, as a German, the numerous mistakes (e. g. the wrong spelling “Fraülein” instead of “Fräulein”) are fairly annoying and could have easily been avoided. Furthermore, we all know what happened some time after the original publication of this book – the faked “Hitler diaries” appeared in a German magazine. Knowing that didn’t really help my enjoyment of this book. All in all, I’d have advised against re-publishing this book. It certainly had its time and its merits but its time has passed long ago and its merits are overshadowed by the mistakes of a young ambitious author.  View all my reviews