Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons #4), by Julia Quinn
Book Review / July 29, 2021

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn My rating: 2 of 5 stars So far, this was definitely the weakest instalment in the otherwise amusing Bridgertons series. The story isn’t really that interesting and the narrative dragged on rather uninspired so that I was actually bored at times which isn’t exactly my intention when reading a fluffy easy-to-read romance. What annoyed me the most, though, and made me almost quit this book was Colin Bridgerton himself. So, you know, this series of books is set in the early 19th century and, fortunately, as a society we’ve made a lot of progress – Women’s suffrage, emancipation, feminism, and so on. And I’m really happy about that. Thus, I already have to temporarily suspend a lot of truly heartfelt convictions and disengage large parts of my brain in order to be able to enjoy this kind of book: I have to completely disregard more than 100 years of social, societal and emancipatory advances. I do so and, consequently, tolerate a whole lot of outdated nonsense and I find that all the more difficult if a book isn’t truly worth it. I can do it because I love to giggle at amusing, witty bantering…

The Witness for the Dead (The Goblin Emperor #2), by Katherine Addison
Book Review / July 26, 2021

The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison My rating: 3 of 5 stars I very much liked “The Goblin Emperor”, the first book in this unusual series. Unfortunately, this successor fell clearly short of greatness. The book’s eponymous “Witness for the dead”, Thara Celehar, is a humble, demure and thoroughly traumatized prelate who has – more or less – been exiled because he had an affair with a married man who proceeded to murder his wife. Celehar is originally called upon to investigate the murder of an opera singer but large parts of the book are not actually about this investigation but about a forged will, a serial murderer who kills his newly-wed wives, a ghoul who needs banishing in the country side and a lot of other small “sub-plots”. That’s where my issues with this book start: There is not one consistent primary storyline but there are several that are mostly unrelated to each other. Just like our thoroughly likeable hero Celehar, we’re following him in his exploits. The writing and world-building is so well executed that I, at times, felt like I was witnessing what happened. Everything felt plausible and intrinsically “real”. Unfortunately, reality tends to be…

An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons #3), by Julia Quinn
Book Review / July 23, 2021

An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn My rating: 4 of 5 stars It’s summer, the weather is fine, the water in my pool has 34°C (roughly 93F) and I’m exhausted from work. Nevertheless, my holidays are nearing (two weeks from now!) and I’m slowly getting into “Summer Reading Mode”. That means that I prefer easy, quick-to-read novels that simply amuse me and, thus, I was only too happy to take up on “An Offer From a Gentleman” in which Sophie Beckett, a late earl’s daughter – born out of wedlock, though – captures the heart of Benedict Bridgerton – and vice versa. There’s not much to be said about this specific book; it’s more or less a Cinderella story. A fluffy fairy tale in which everyone gets what they deserve. You don’t read this for philosophical depths or “enlightenment”. If you read this book, you do it purely for entertainment; it’s the literary equivalent of candyfloss, a TV romcom or a soap opera. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, you can hardly go wrong with this book. Although… If you ponder reading this third book in this series, you know perfectly well what to expect anyway:…

Bretonische Idylle (Kommissar Dupin #10), von Jean-Luc Bannalec
Book Review / July 13, 2021

Bretonische Idylle: Kommissar Dupins zehnter Fall by Jean-Luc Bannalec My rating: 3 of 5 stars »Himmlische Dämpfe erfüllten den Raum. »Wussten Sie, dass sich das Kaffeearoma aus rund tausend verschiedenen Einzelaromen zusammensetzt? Wein bringt es gerade einmal auf vierhundert.« Dupin hatte es nicht gewusst oder, genauer: Er hatte es immer schon gewusst. Schließlich war er aus gutem Grund süchtig.« Selten ist mir eine Rezension so schwer gefallen wie bei diesem Buch – dem immerhin zehnten Krimi um Dupin, der auch im Buch dieses Jubiläum feiert. Dabei stimmt die Mixtur eigentlich wie immer… Bannalec ist voll Sympathie für seine Figuren und läßt auch die Nebenfiguren wachsen: »Riwal selbst war ein Phänomen, immer wieder: in einem Augenblick ein bewundernswerter Rationalist, Techniker, bodenständiger Pragmatiker, im nächsten ein mystischer Erzähler.« Auch Dupin ist ganz er selbst – mal grantig und ungeduldig, mal empathisch und aufgeschlossen. Diesmal – vor dem reizvollen Hintergrund der Belle-Île – ermittelnd, ist er (zumindest nach überstandener Überfahrt!) ganz in seinem Element. Neben seinem üblichen “normalen” Kaffee, darf Dupin diesmal sogar einer wunderbar zelebrierten Kaffee-Zeremonie beiwohnen, die zudem noch inhaltlich, sprachlich und in ihrer Länge perfekt beschrieben ist – ein Traum für jemanden wie mich, der ebenfalls dem Kaffee – auch…

Survive the Night, by Riley Sager
Book Review / July 7, 2021

Survive the Night by Riley Sager My rating: 1 of 5 stars Well, I’m flabbergasted – and not in a good way. “Survive the Night” was supposed to be a quick mystery/thriller diversion which quickly turned out to be a roll-your-eyes and hit your head against some hard surface to distract yourself from the intellectual pain this book evokes. In Sager’s newest work – and I mostly enjoyed his earlier ones – we meet Charlie. Charlie’s best friend, Maddy, was murdered barely two months ago by a stranger. The “Campus Killer” who is still at large and – presumably – on the prowl to find their next victim. The killer’s modus operandi is to grab their victims when they’re alone and ideally at night. Since there were at least three known murders before Maddy’s, everyone is alert, there are brochures about “re-taking the night” and, of course, Charlie is fully aware of all of that. Now, after the initial shock has worn off, Charlie decides to (more or less temporarily) move back to her grandmother. How to get from her campus to her place in Ohio, though?Wait a few weeks till Thanksgiving and drive home with her boyfriend? Take public…

Eine drollige Gesellschaft (Mumintrollen #3), von Tove Jansson
Book Review / July 3, 2021

Eine drollige Gesellschaft by Tove Jansson My rating: 5 of 5 stars Die Mumins kennen wohl die meisten von uns – eine Familie von Mumintrollen, die in einem kleinen Tal leben und diverse Abenteuer erleben. Geradezu ständig wächst die erweiterte Familie – da kommt mal ein Hemul dazu oder die kleine Mü – und die Reaktion der Mumineltern ist schlicht und liebenswert: »Der Muminvater und die Muminmutter hießen alle Neuankömmlinge ruhig und freundlich willkommen, stellten zusätzliche Betten auf und vergrößerten den Esstisch.« Meine frühesten Erinnerungen sind jene, in denen meine Eltern abends an meinem Bett sitzen und mir aus den Mumin-Büchern vorlesen. “Mumins vorlesen” – das war für mich als Kind der Inbegriff der Liebe. Gerade dieser dritte Band hatte es mir damals – und hat es mir noch heute – besonders angetan, denn hier ist die Welt der Mumins friedlich: Die beiden vorherigen Bände, “Mumins lange Reise” (erschienen 1945) und “Komet im Mumintal” (erschienen 1946) spiegeln die Schrecken des zweiten Weltkriegs sowie den zeitgenössischen Ausbruchs des Vesuvs wider. In der “Drolligen Gesellschaft” ist die Familie vereint im Mumintal und Tove Jansson schöpft aus den Vollen ihrer Fantasie – da werden aus unachtsam in einen Zauberhut (natürlich ein Zylinder!) geworfenen…

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1), by Sarah J. Maas
Book Review / June 29, 2021

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas My rating: 1 of 5 stars Phew… 816 pages, 10 days and I feel like I aged 10 years because this was such a tiresome read. We find ourselves in the most fanciful and easiest fantasy world to write: A (probably) dystopian future on planet Midgard (yes… the subtlety is killing me…) in which humans are in a constant state of rebellion against their angel/fae/werewolf/ overlords who enslaved and/or killed their leaders. Fortunately, not only does this Midgard feature powerful magic, supernatural beings and great weapons of mass destruction (brimstone missiles!), no, it also features modern technology like smartphones and email… Bryce Quinlan is a “half-breed” between human and fae and, of course, supernaturally beautiful, tall, sexy and almost suicidally depressed about the murder of her more-than-a-friend-but-not-quite-a-lover-even-though-their-love-is-eternal werewolf companion and the latter’s entire pack. Along comes the “dark and brooding” kind of male angel (yes… an angel… of death to boot…), Hunt Athalar, enslaved to the afore-mentioned overlords for being the rebellion’s leading general and the deceased rebellion leader’s lover. Both having lost their respective lover/love interest/ they initially loathe each other to fall all the harder later on. To be…

Bonjour tristesse, von Françoise Sagan
Book Review / June 19, 2021

Bonjour tristesse: Roman by Françoise Sagan My rating: 2 of 5 stars Wir befinden uns im Jahr 1954 und treffen auf Cécile, ihren Playboy-Vater Raymond, seine junge Geliebte Elsa sowie Anne, die Raymond heiraten möchte. Last and least, gibt es noch Cyril, einen jungen naiven Mann, der zu Céciles Geliebtem wird. Klar, angesichts der relativen Freizügigkeit dieser Novelle kann ich mir einerseits den moralischen Aufschrei der ehrenwerten Gesellschaft dieser Zeit lebhaft vorstellen. Wenig überraschend sprang wohl auch die Kritik jener Tage schnell auf den Zug dieses Skandals im Wasserglas an. Was aber letztlich bleibt ist die Geschichte einer verwöhnten 17-Jährigen, die gerade eine Prüfung verhauen hat und den Sommer mit ihrem Vater am Meer verbringt. Elsa, seine Geliebte, “stört” die beiden nicht signifikant in ihrem “Lotterleben”, das in Wahrheit einfach nur entspannt und weitgehend frei von den gesellschaftlichen Konventionen zu sein scheint. Eine empfindlichen “Dämpfer” erhält das unbeschwerte Beisammensein durch die Anreise von Anne, einer konservativen – um nicht zu sagen: spießigen – Dame, die sich sogleich anschickt, Verantwortung für Cécile übernehmen zu wollen, um den gesellschaftlichen Ruin von Raymond und sich selbst abzuwenden. Empfundene oder tatsächliche Gleichgültigkeit ist Annes herausragende Eigenschaft. Dafür Anne schnell mit vernichtenden Urteilen… “»Deine Ansichten…

Beneath Devil’s Bridge, by Loreth Anne White
Book Review / June 17, 2021

Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White My rating: 4 of 5 stars I haven’t read much by Loreth Anne White yet: I have read two books of her “A Dark Lure” series and liked those well enough to keep an eye on White.Consequently, this book came as a bit of a “shock” because it’s a complete departure from the narational lines established by those previous books. In “Beneath Devil’s Bridge” we read about an old case from 1997 which regains attention 24 years later due to a young true-crime podcaster, Trinity, who interviews the incarcerated murderer of Leena Rai, Clayton. As it seems to be all the rage these days, “Bridge” features time jumps between the original investigation of the murder in 1997 and Trinity’s podcast – excerpts of which are used as a device – in 2021. Rachel, the leading detective in 1997, now retired from her Police Department, around 60, instigated by Trinity’s podcast and the fact that suddenly the convicted murderer, the man who confessed everything and then decided to not ever talk about the case again; the fact that Clayton talks now, privately, makes Rachel “re-open” the case and moves to get to the truth…

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons #2), by Julia Quinn
Book Review / June 8, 2021

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is the kind of book most of my fellow males will avoid like the plague. All the more so if they ever – by accident, of course! – happen to come across the “Author’s Note” in this book which explicitly states “Since my readers are almost exclusively women”… Well, here I am, and I profess: I greatly enjoyed this book despite knowing that it most certainly is (mostly) literary fast food – good to sate ones primal desires but not really nourishing. And I couldn’t care less. I really enjoyed the lovely family dynamics between the Bridgertons and I loved the witty bantering between Anthony and Kate. I just can’t help but root for such wonderful characters and their relationships, their eccentricities and how they overcome them. Is it realistic? Not at all. Historically accurate? Very unlikely. Romantic, cute and thoroughly enjoyable? To me at least, absolutely. You’ll have to be able to generously ignore macho “gems” like this one… »It was as if a certain side of her were visible only to him. He loved that her charms were hidden to the rest of…