Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London #9), by Ben Aaronovitch
Book Review/ 14. May 2022

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch My rating: 2 of 5 stars Finally! I’m free of this book! I used to really like this world and its rather unique inhabitants as well as the stories Ben Aaronovitch so expertly told us.This time around, though, I was bored by the lacklustre story at the centre of “Amongst Our Weapons”: An “Angel of Death” is killing the owners of some obscure rings with Lesley being on the hunt for said rings. Peter does his best to prevent further deaths. Through 80% of this instalment in the series, I only read it in bed because it served as a perfect sleeping drug. The abysmal pacing, being told about Beverly’s pregnancy (mostly referred to as “the bulge” which felt derogatory even though it most certainly wasn’t meant like that), quite a few encounters with the culprit but hardly any progress until the very end – it all made for a veritable snoozefest. Nightingale is mostly around and yet feels strangely absent – he doesn’t have much of a role at all. Fortunately, there were a few redeeming moments: Peter refuses to lay a trap to just plain kill the culprit but looks for a…

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune
Book Review/ 15. April 2022

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune My rating: 5 of 5 stars »We are who we are not because of our birthright, but because of what we choose to do in this life. It cannot be boiled down to black and white. Not when there is so much in between. You cannot say something is moral or immoral without understanding the nuances behind it.”« From a world obviously different from ours (magic and magical beings exist there!) but closely related to ours, in T.J. Klune’s “The House in the Cerulean Sea” we are told a modern fairy tale about an orphanage and its inhabitants. Linus Baker, a caseworker of the “Department in Charge Of Magical Youth” is charged to investigate an orphanage under the wings of Arthur Parnassus who is overseeing the well-being of six especially dangerous orphaned children – one of them being the devil’s child! What Linus discovers, though, is completely different from what he expected… First and foremost this is a book about kindness and love. There isn’t much “action” because this is a book that lives from the loves it exudes: There is the “master” of the house, Arthur, who is much more…

Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman
Book Review/ 12. April 2022

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman My rating: 5 of 5 stars »I am the daughter of Black writers. I am descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me. I carry them always.«(From “Gratitude”) I’m not sure what to say or write about this collection of Amanda Gorman’s poetry. Any words I could find would still fall short to describe how amazing and emotionally moving, intellectually brilliant, witty and intelligent this is. “This book, like a ship, is meant to be lived in.” Gorman writes and there’s so much life in “Call Us What We Carry“! When I started reading this collection, I thought it would be a quick read but after stumbling onto this “ship” with this misconception, from early on I found myself reading this carefully, slowly, maybe even reverently. Most often not more than one poem at a time. I long thought poetry had ceased being relevant since Shakespeare’s sonnets but Gorman made me change my mind. The only poems I didn’t love as much as the others were the “erasure poems” (with the very notable exception of “DC PUTSCH” which was amazing!). In those poems, Gorman creates…

When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamín Labatut
Book Review/ 10. April 2022

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut My rating: 1 of 5 stars This is one of the very few books I’m not finishing. Let me explain why: The problem with this one is that Benjamín Labatut introduces the history of an invention to us. Let’s take the first story on “Prussian Blue” as an example: Labatut starts by shortly describing the invention itself and what lead to it. He then proceeds to tell us about the inventor(s) and how they relate to each other and the world. Labatut does this, and that’s my first issue, at break-neck speed. He drops name after name after name and forms connections between them in rarely more than a single sentence. It’s exhausting and not very illuminating. Much worse, though, whenever there’s insufficient historical evidence Labatut chooses the most lurid and raciest possible explanation. For example Fritz Haber’s (Haber played a most prominent role in chemical warfare) wife, Clara Immerwahr, did commit suicide – but the reasons are unclear. Immerwahr’s marriage to Haber was unhappy on many levels and she may or may not have been against World War I – there are conflicting accounts. Labatut, though, decides to paint…

Worms, by Paul Auster
Book Review/ 7. April 2022

Worms by Paul Auster My rating: 3 of 5 stars A highly metaphorical short story in which an elderly guy is being kind, is being treated kindly himself, gets hurt nevertheless, falls to his knees but gets up once more to reflect on his past and – my first and only guess – is sinking into dementia while considering how the eponymous worms may taste (when he’s gone to his grave), effectively contemplating death. This is so short, devoid of substantial clues and highly abstract that I lack the patience to analyse it in any detail. I read this because Paul Auster – whom I adore, almost worship – wrote it but even to yours truly this didn’t really appeal. Three out of five stars. Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam View all my reviews

Planetside (Planetside #1), by Michael Mammay
Book Review/ 6. April 2022

Planetside by Michael Mammay My rating: 2 of 5 stars This is going to be yet another difficult review. There’s no doubt: “Planetside” is suspenseful and exciting military science fiction. There’s also no doubt there are plot holes, loose ends and an ending that’s extremely problematic. Let’s start at the beginning, though, at which Colonel Carl Butler, semi-retired of Space Command, is sent to the Cappa system by his superior and old acquaintance General Serata. This is where the trouble starts: Michael Mammay keeps hinting at the tour(s?) of duty, Butler completed in Cappa but we never learn what happened, why Butler drinks habitually, how he lost his daughter on planet Cappy and so much more.We get to know that Butler is supposed to find out about the fate of the son of some SPACECOM hotshot but that’s it. Early on in his investigation, Butler realises there’s a lot of weird business going on both “planetside” on Cappa and on the Cappa Base in its orbit. Since Butler’s primary “tactic” is to metaphorically bash in some doors if he can’t think of any real plan (and he usually can’t), he upsets a lot of people from different commands like Medical…

Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales (Bruno, Chief of Police 14.5), by Martin Walker
Book Review/ 1. April 2022

Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales by Martin Walker My rating: 3 of 5 stars “Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales” consists of 14 short stories featuring rural French cop Bruno who has already “starred” in 14 previous books.The full-size novels (that I prefer) went on a downward spiral around book 10 and mostly picked up at book 14. So I was curious to see how this short story collection would hold up.This was especially true because only six of the collected stories are actually new – the other eight have previously been published. The eponymous “Bruno’s Challenge” is one of those new stories and, sadly, a prime example of all that was wrong with the latest Bruno novels: Endless recipe descriptions, hardly any kind of story. 1 star. “Birthday Lunch” is an older story that I had already read: Another short story from the “Bruno universe”. Unfortunately, like the later novels, this one didn’t have any appeal for me. A large part of it is basically simply a narrated recipe: “He beat the yolks and eggs together with a hundred fifty grams of sugar until they were creamy.” That really doesn’t float my boat, sorry. The rest is just…

The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi
Book Review/ 28. March 2022

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi My rating: 5 of 5 stars This was great escapist fun! This book read like the happy child of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and Martha Wells’ “Murderbot” (in tone more than in spirit!) with a bit of Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” mixed in for good measure! After so many “mixed reading results” so far this year, this was a much needed blast of fresh, contemporary air that expertly blew away any residue of blues. This is a fun, feel-good book, a book like a really good popcorn movie. This book is, in Scalzi’s own words: »It’s a pop song. It’s meant to be light and catchy, with three minutes of hooks and choruses for you to sing along with, and then you’re done and you go on with your day, hopefully with a smile on your face. I had fun writing this, and I needed to have fun writing this. We all need a pop song from time to time, particularly after a stretch of darkness.« I so enjoyed Jamie Gray, the lead character, who feels like an immensely nice person… Diversity comes naturally into play as well and,…

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Natasha Trethewey
Book Review/ 21. March 2022

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey My rating: 4 of 5 stars »All those years I thought that I had been running away from my past I had, in fact, been working my way steadily back to it.« This was not easy to read and even less so to review. In “Memorial Drive” Trethewey remembers her childhood, born 1966, in a still very much segregated Gulfport, Mississippi, USA. Her mother black and her father white this clearly was a challenge. Trethewey’s father leaves the family and when her mother meets another man and, ultimately, marries him, things quickly escalate for young Trethewey who is routinely abused by her stepfather, Joel, who also beats his wife and terrorises the entire family.Joel eventually murders his then-ex wife. First and foremost, “Memorial Drive” is about remembering a loving mother and telling her story. When asked about what Trethewey would want to be a key takeaway from reading “Memorial Drive” she answered as follows: “If I was really honest, I would want for people to fall a little bit in love with her the way I love her. I want people to care so much about her life so that when you…

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Book Review/ 16. March 2022

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett My rating: 1 of 5 stars We all know them: Those relatives at family reunions who insist on telling “terrific jokes” that make us cringe. If you don’t, let me put you into the right mood: »When asked if they would have sex with Bill Clinton, 86% of women in D.C. said, “Not again.”« Or this one: »3 men are stranded in a boat with 4 cigarettes and no way to light them. So they toss the 4th cigarette overboard, which makes the whole boat a cigarette lighter.« Ok, you’re with me, right? Now imagine a book that’s full of humour like this. A book that tries so hard to be funny that it actually becomes tiresome. I’ve tried “Discworld” before and found it lacking in all departments but “Good Omens” made even that look good. Some actual samples of the humour? Here’s one about sperms: »And there were his fellow trainees—fellow sperms, to switch metaphors, all struggling forward in the knowledge that there could only ever be one Chairman of Industrial Holdings (Holdings) PLC, and that the job would probably go to the biggest prick.«…