A Dead Djinn in Cairo (Fatma el-Sha’arawi #1), by P. Djèlí Clark
Book Review / February 9, 2021

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark My rating: 1 of 5 stars An investigator in an alternative Egypt with ghuls, djinn, angels, other-worldly foes, a plethora of faiths and all set in a steampunk world. The writing is nothing special, the plot still mostly to-be-found at the end of this mercyfully very short novella – this is pretty much the most boring novella I’ve read in years. The most redeeming feature of the simplistically named “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” is its brevity. View all my reviews

It Only Happens in the Movies, by Holly Bourne
Book Review / February 4, 2021

My rating: 2 of 5 stars This was very different from what I expected. I expected a regular trashy romance but what I actually got was some kind of teeny romance… I wrote quite a bit more, originally, but decided not to elaborate because I’d very likely do this book an injustice. 14-year-old me probably would have liked this. Thirty-one years later, I simply found a book I’m too old for. View all my reviews

The Egg (ebook), by Andy Weir
Book Review / January 30, 2021

The Egg by Andy Weir My rating: 1 of 5 stars I’m not exactly into faith and even less into “intelligent design” which is pretty much the premise of this short story. Moreover, the idea of humanity (and the universe) being “created” to mature a new “god” is, in fact, abhorrent to me: The protagonist is supposed to be both Hitler and the millions he murdered? Maybe I’m overly critical but using the suffering of millions to “mature” a single individual – what kind of “god” would that be? And what kind of author is it who stoops so low? Altruism – rare enough under “normal” circumstances – becomes a weird kind of egoism if you’re the only true individual, if you’re everyone. Initially, I was about to award three stars but the longer I think about it, the more uncomfortable I become. One star. View all my reviews

The Guest List, by Lucy Foley
Book Review / January 29, 2021

The Guest List by Lucy Foley My rating: 4 of 5 stars »The lights go out. In an instant, everything is in darkness. The band stop their playing. Inside the marquee the wedding guests squeal and clutch at one another.« These are the strong, foreshadowing first words of this guilty pleasure of a book… There’s a wedding on a deserted island, several dark (slightly convoluted) mysteries from the past and on this brightest of days, a severe storm is brewing… This, with a small omission maybe, could have been the blurb to this often-reviewed Goodreads Choice Awards winner of 2020. This slightly Agatha-Christie-inspired setting lent itself to some good whodunnit murder mystery and I fully expected one. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite what I got: What I got was an attempt at showing me the true characters of the bride, the groom, their families and friends, down to Hannah, the Plus-one. That attempt wasn’t even bad and rather entertaining. It was slightly marred by the fact that everyone basically “sounded” and “felt” alike. We spend much time “in the head” (or rather: the thoughts) of our heroines and heroes and all their thoughts are expressed similarly.Plus: Only on its last pages…

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
Book Review / January 23, 2021

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett My rating: 5 of 5 stars I didn’t have the slightest idea about how to write this review. The story still resonates within me; simple, and yet hauntingly beautiful. Soul-devouring and yet hopeful. I still have no idea how to write this review so I’ll start with the characters since those will be who make or break this book for you. Desiree and Stella Vignes, twins, grow up in Mallard; a small town not on any map comprised of mostly coloured inhabitants.In addition to the ever-present racism of the time – we’re starting in 1968 – the inhabitants of Mallard are proud of their town which was founded by a man for “men like him, who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes.”. Adele, their mother, whose husband – their father – has been murdered by white people for no particular reason, stays in Mallard for all her life whereas Desiree and Stella flee it as soon as they reasonably can, at 16. While at first both twins stay together in New Orleans, Stella ultimately leaves her sister behind to pursue another life – “passing over” into a…

Behind the Book: Making The Death of Dulgath, by Michael J. Sullivan & Robin Sullivan
Book Review / January 22, 2021

Behind the Book: Making The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’m not even sure when I got this book. It probably was part of some Kickstarter campaign of Michael’s and Robin’s which I had the honour to participate in. So I simply had to read it! This “Making of” book was simply supposed to answer the age-old questions every author gets asked: »Where do you get your ideas? How long does it take you to write a book? How do you come up with the names? Do you write every day?« Michael J. Sullivan is one of my favourite authors and, thus, I was highly interested in these rather standard questions; I just didn’t expect answers as good as these: »In school, they may have learned about symbolism and metaphors, but no one said anything about which software program to use, how much of an outline to build before you begin writing, or what music to listen to while typing.« Starting with the initial questions, Michael explains how he works. This will likely not entirely work for everyone but the techniques and ideas Michael presents are an excellent starting point to actually…

The Secret Life of Bots, by Suzanne Palmer
Book Review / January 17, 2021

The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer My rating: 3 of 5 stars That didn’t quite hit the spot: An old derelict ship selected as a last-ditch effort to save humanity from an alien invasion. A fleet of semi-autonomous bots. A single outdated first-generation bot that saves the day. It slightly reminded me of Murderbot but, I’m sorry, it lacks the latter’s innocence and… logical purity. These bots seem logical at first glance but have nothing better to do than emulate humans, citing pseudo-religious “Rites of Something”… »Bot 9 approached to speak the Rites of Decommissioning for it as it had the destroyed silkbot, only to find its activity light was still lit. “4340-H?” the bot enquired.« One would think, a vastly superior AI should know better. Nice enough but I’ll stick with Murderbot. View all my reviews

Bretonische Spezialitäten (Kommissar Dupin #9), von Jean-Luc Bannalec
Book Review / January 15, 2021

Bretonische Spezialitäten by Jean-Luc Bannalec My rating: 5 of 5 stars »Dupin spürte, wie eine gewisse Aufregung in ihm aufkam. Er hatte Hunger, ja, aber es war noch mehr: pure lukullische Lust.« Da wären wir also mal wieder – der neunte Bretagne-Krimi um Kommissar Dupin. Wenn eine Buchreihe diesen “Reifegrad” erreicht, dann wird mir bei jedem neuen Band ein wenig “mulmig”, denn allzu oft verliert sich der Autor in der Routine und für treue Leser wie mich, wird es dann leicht langweilig. Nicht so hier, denn Dupin ist diesmal nicht in seiner (schon lange nicht mehr) neuen Heimatstadt Concarneau, sondern in Saint-Malo. Eigentlich soll er mit seinem Präfekten, Locmariaquer, an einem Seminar zur Département-übergreifenden Zusammenarbeit teilnehmen – wer Dupin ein wenig “kennt”, wird wissen, mit welcher Unlust er dies tut. Um so interessanter wird es, als direkt in seiner Nähe in einer belebten Markthalle ein Mord geschieht. Ganz in seinem ermittlerischen Element ist Dupin, der diesmal weitestgehend auf die Unterstützung von Nolwenn, Riwal und den anderen verzichten muß, als weitere Morde geschehen. Stimmungshebend ist für Dupin auch das kulinarische Umfeld (Rum, gutes Essen, nette Cafés!). Ein wenig skeptisch ist er allerdings schon, als Dupin nun mit der lokalen sachlich-nüchternen Kommissarin…

Ready Player Two (Ready Player One #2), by Ernest Cline
Book Review / January 10, 2021

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline My rating: 1 of 5 stars This was the worst disappointment in years… I loved “Ready Player One” and was eagerly awaiting this second instalment. After all, a sequel to an instant classic? What could possibly go wrong?! Turns out the answer is “everything”: Wade Watts was an underdog; orphaned, hunted but optimistic and positive with a great group of friends. In this book, though, he has turned into a vengeful spoiled brat: »I gleefully zeroed out hundreds of trolls in this fashion. If someone talked shit about me, I found them and killed their avatar.« And that’s not the only instance in which Wade is completely unrecognizable. Our young hero has turned into a complete idiot. Even his one-week-girlfriend Art3mis has understood what a douchebag Wade has become and left him.His friends are mostly avoiding him but Wade doesn’t really act upon any of that – apart from stalking (!) Art3mis, invading the others’ privacy, etc. etc. We get told all that during almost the entire first quarter of the book. There’s pretty much just Wade summing up how badly he messed up. Even that isn’t really well presented: This entire part is…

Forged (Alex Verus #11), by Benedict Jacka
Book Review / January 3, 2021

Forged by Benedict Jacka My rating: 5 of 5 stars In this eleventh instalment of Benedict Jacka’s “Alex Verus” series, “Forged” (as aptly titled as ever!), Alex is back at fixing lots of problems. Let’s take a quick look back first, though. In “Fallen” we saw how Alex had to harden and tackle things differently than he used to. He ‘fell’ away from trying to be the nice guy and concentrated on what he felt had to be done. He picked himself up and re-emerges ‘forged’ by the blows he received and the hits he delivered. “Forged” picks up right there: Alex is back in force and at the height of his game. He quickly realises he currently has three major issues: The Council of (Light) Mages Richard Drakh, his former master (and his (former) entourage) (Dark) Anne, his (ex-?)lover, recently possessed by a Jinn To be able to solve them, he has to solve them separately because he can’t deal with all three at the same time. We get to know this ‘forged’ Alex a lot better in this penultimate book of the series: »I was left crouching, surrounded by three dead men, alone once more.« This Alex is…