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text 2017-04-29 09:08
Book Haul
Conan Doyle: Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes. - Andrew Lycett
The Penguin Book Of Etiquette: The Complete Australian Guide To Modern Manners - Marion Von Adlerstein
The Book of Killowen - Erin Hart
The Library of Shadows - Mikkel Birkegaard
I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks - Gina Sheridan
Blade Bound - Chloe Neill
Dangerous To Know - Renee Patrick
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

It's not all decomp and deodorisers here at la casa de la rata muerta; I hit up my local FOTL semi-annual book sale yesterday and came away with a few possible gems.



(Three of the above actually came this week in the mail; 2 new, 1 used.)


Conan Doyle: Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes. I know nothing about this biography and can only hope it's enjoyable.


The Penguin Book Of Etiquette: The Complete Australian Guide To Modern Manners This one is likely going to tell me it's rude to post gross disgusting stories about dead animals in your walls, but better late than never.


The Book of Killowen I was sucked in by the story about a book.  Of course.  Seems to be a mid-series entry, so hopefully it'll work as a stand-alone. 


The Library of Shadows I think I've heard about this one before - might have even looked at it in a bookshop, but again, it's about books so of course I bought it.


I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks 


Blade Bound The last in the Chicagoland series.  *sniffle*


Dangerous To Know The first one was excellent, I hope this one lives up to expectations.


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes I had a suspicion I already had a copy, but just in case... (of course I did).


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text 2015-12-31 00:54
Worst (er, "least successful") Books of 2015
From Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers: The Mysteries of the Hooked X - Scott F. Wolter
LARP! Volume 1 - Dan Jolley,Shawn deLoache,Marlin Shoop
Look at This Fucking Hipster - Joe Mande
The Library of Shadows - Mikkel Birkegaard,Tiina Nunnally


Well, well, it is quite hard to believe that the year 2015 is almost over, so I'm going to do a little retrospective of some of the books I read this year, including some I have not yet discussed here at Reading Rainstorm. In order to save the best for last, I'm starting with what I've rated as the worst books I read in 2015. This is a little harder for me. Usually, through either good luck or discernment, I tend to read mostly books I like. The bad ones I toss aside without bothering to get into. On occasion, though, either through obsessive desire to adhere to theme and finish everything or the old "never leave a book unfinished" thing I've been trying to get over, a few epic fails slip through. Whether just all around awful, or disappointing glimmers of goodness, here are a few from this year! Oh boy!


Worst "Non-fiction" (seriously, massive quotes there!)


From Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers: The Mysteries of the Hooked X - Scott F. WolterThis book is ridiculous, utter garbage. If Scott Wolter’s first book was filled with unsupportable suppositions and madcap correlations, this one goes completely off the rails in terms of making any sense whatsoever. I found it nigh unreadable, as the author goes off on tangents that have nothing to do with any subject he’s trying to present; there seems little evidence of any sort of editing, one topic just rolls, turgidly, into the next leaving the reader cut adrift in a sea of nonsense.    


As a student of the contentious local roadside attraction here in Minnesota, the Kensington Rune Stone (future entry!), I had to read this. For those not steeped in this strange little world, though, the rest of the bizarre rambling and mean spirited griping of “Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers” is best avoided. 


Even if it were true that the runestone is an “authentic” fourteenth century inscription, none of it would have anything to do with the frothing pablum presented here; Oreo cookies being imprinted with the same symbology as the runestone (if you squint just right), for example, because Templar/Masons rule the world and wish to secretly let this be known by manufacturing delicious pastries with their symbols on them. It just throws everything in there! The Pyramids! Jesus! George Washington! The weird urban planning of St. Paul, Minnesota! It’s like Assassins Creed fer reals. 


Wolter’s feelings on these secret rulers he is certain exist seem strangely opaque- I was unable to tell if he actually supports “them” for making a better world, or is trying to warn us of their nefarious plans. In spite of Wolter’s constant invocation of the “scientific method” that he uses above the mushy “social sciences” of his academic opponents, there is not a lick of actual hard evidence or information literacy anywhere to be found in the pages of this book.


Worst Comic/Graphic Novel


LARP! Volume 1 - Dan Jolley,Shawn deLoache,Marlin ShoopThis was the least successful comic I’ve read this year, with really nothing to recommend it. Mediocre art, dialog hammier than Austin, Minnesota (home of Spam), and a plot about subtle as an Afterschool Special with rabies make LARP! a game I do not want to play. The forced attempts at humor and totally annoying characters notwithstanding, the messages rang hollow and the high school setting and culture seemed dated and hackneyed.

I mean, it's been far too long since I’ve actually been in high school, but nothing here rings true in my experience. If this were a TV show, you can bet the characters would be played by actors in their late 20s. Here we have the perennial battle between the “nerds” and the “jocks,” the “cool kids” and the “geeks.” Of course, we’re on the side of the nerds.

I found a lot to question about the message, though; pretty much your typical be yourself, and don’t lie to your friends aesop, I guess? Maybe this would have worked if our protagonist Pete, of the super nerdy interests and newly discovered super tennis skills, realized his attempt to hide his gaming from his “cool” new jock friends while keeping his athletic skill from his nerdy “LARPer” friends were simply the product of his own insecurities. However, the “cool jocks” were set up from the beginning as utterly, irredeemably evil bullies- high school kids who harass a grown man in his place of business.


Pete seems mainly to be called to task in the comic not merely for lying, but for betraying his “true” kindred among the geeks by practicing tennis- being “cool” and being a bully seem to be one and the same here, as if self-proclaimed geeks could never be bullies. What makes the smirking villains “cool” seems to be vague too, as if playing sports and having a lot of Twitter followers (???) makes you automatically hate and make fun of people who like video games. Even the antagonistic geek group hinted at in the summary join in to humiliatingly defeat the jocks in the ending confrontation.

To make matters worse, the book contains one of the most ham-fisted “coming out” twist I’ve ever seen, an event anyone could see coming a mile away from the first insultingly stereotypical word coming out of the character’s mouth. Needless to say, the women in this story are mere tokens and are the real cusp of the dilemma of which clique Pete should join; not who’s less evil, but whose chick is more likely to date him.


Worst "Humor" Book

Look at This Fucking Hipster - Joe Mande

Wrote a little bit about this one in my last Subcultural Studies Reading Rainstorm post, but might as well toss it under the bus again! It may be that this slight little book is five years past it’s sell by date, but, TBH, I don’t think it had much going for at the get go. Sure, hipster mockery is always good for a cheap laugh, but here I think the author’s own ego detracts from what could be a funny look at goofy people dressed in goofy outfits.

Grainy, pixelated, unacknowledged photos of people dressed in weird costumes from the user submitted website are crammed into the pages with some of the least insightful commentary I’ve seen. I mean, a lot of hipster “culture” is certainly ripe for criticism (as the hipster racism demonstrated by the many photos of dumb white kids dressed in absurd and insulting headdresses show), but the limp captions, with questionable use of ableist, transphobic, and racist sentiments seems to smack of hypocrisy (just a little bit). If it were just the pictures, PBR, huge glasses, and thin mustaches it might have had a bit more appeal, but the authors’ rather scolding tone comes off as bitter.

Griping at people for not “really believing in anything” and “apathy” for what looks like, apparently, having fun and dressing in silly costumes seems to little more than grumbling, under your breath “what's wrong with kids today!” I haven’t visited the website that spawned the book, but perhaps it has a bit more to offer.



Most Disappointing Fiction


The Library of Shadows - Mikkel Birkegaard,Tiina NunnallyI didn't dislike this Danish literary thriller/urban fantasy as much as the others, but I did find it a little disappointing, a quick paced novel that does not quite carry through in delivery. Jon Campelli, a Copenhagen lawyer discovers, upon the mysterious death of his estranged father, an antiquarian bookseller, that reading has more power than even he had ever known of. Drawn into this secretive world of "Lectors," people with arcane abilities to infuse power into the written word, of whom his father was the foremost practitioner in Denmark, Campelli's talents as a lawyer makes him most suitable to mediate in a long standing division between the Lectors of Copenhagen. As he nurtures his own talents and relationships among his father's students, he comes to believe that some other sinister group is responsible for the recent strife in Denmark, including his father's death.

The writing in the Library of Shadows is probably its weakest aspect; plenty of egregious info drops, lackluster characterizations, and a tendency to simply narrate what is happening makes it come off as clinical rather than mysterious. Some of the blame could be placed on the translation from the Danish, but I have read other books from the translator which preserves some great writing, so I have to think it stems primarily from the original. While there are a lot of intriguing ideas thrown out there, the powers of the lectors, in spite of plenty of "Well, as you know," moments, did not really come together logically for me. I was often left with a lot more questions on how "receivers" and "transmitters" actually work and what they are actually capable of.

Finally, the plot turned out to be woefully predictable, with the "true" villain pretty evident from the first time he is mentioned, and the proceedings just lacked much of a sense of urgency. I had been curious about this conflict among the book magicians of Copenhagen, but I was never really in suspense about anything, even as the nefarious "shadow organization" closes in. The stakes just never seemed that high and the conflict never drew me in. The abrupt ending does not help, and little seems to have been resolved. I'd recommend checking out anything by Eco, Perez-Reverte, or Ruiz Zafón before this one.


Well, stay tuned tomorrow for the best of 2015!


*Theme music for this entry: "Think About It," Flight of the Concords, 2008 


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review 2013-10-25 07:50
Schade um die schöne Idee
Die Bibliothek der Schatten: Roman - Mikkel Birkegaard

Nach einem starken Anfang mit jeder Seite schwächer:

"Die Bibliothek der Schatten" von Mikkel Birkegaard


Erster Satz:

Luca Campellis Wunsch, umgeben von seinen geliebten Büchern zu sterben, ging an einem späten Oktoberabend in Erfüllung.



Jan Campelli erbt von seinem Vater ein Antiquariat in Kopenhagen. Er erfährt, dass das "Libri di Luca" nicht nur ein Antiquariat ist, sondern auch ein Treffpunkt der Bibliophilen Gesellschaft. Die beiden Flügel der Bibliophilen Gesellschaft, die "Sender" und die "Empfänger", beschuldigen sich gegenseitig, Luca Campelli ermordet zu haben. Sie beauftragen Jan Campelli, den Tod seines Vaters zu untersuchen. Er findet bald heraus, dass es noch eine Gruppe von Lesern gibt, die ein Motiv haben könnte ...


Meine Meinung:

Geschichten erwachen zum Leben, wenn sie von besonders begabten Menschen vorgelesen werden. Was für eine wunderbare Idee! Die ersten 100 Seiten des Buches bin ich fasziniert und begeistert. Nach 200 Seiten bin ich aber schon leicht genervt. Alles wird ermüdend lange und ausführlich erklärt und diskutiert. Immer wieder den ich mir: "Jaaa, ich habs begriffen, mach endlich voran!". Die Handlung wird vorhersehbarer, nach 250 Seiten wünsche ich mir nur noch, dass ich endlich zum Schluss komme, aber der Autor wird immer redseliger. Gegen Ende ist das Buch erzähltechnisch völlig missglückt: Einzelne Szenen werden mehrmals aus verschiedenen Perspektiven erzählt, was bei mir aber in erster Linie für Verwirrung sorgt. Ich habe den leisen Verdacht, dass "Die Bibliothek der Schatten" nur der Auftakt zu einer Serie ist, um die ich aber sicher einen Bogen machen werde.

Wenn die 400 Seiten des Buches auf 200 Seiten gestrafft würden, die Handlung flotter vorangetrieben würde und die Figuren etwas weniger schlicht wären, könnte das ein toller Roman sein, so aber ist es für mich nur ein Ärgernis. Schade um die schöne Idee, sie hätte einen besseren Erzähler verdient.


Für die Bibliophile Gesellschaft gebe ich einen Stern, mehr mag ich dem Buch nicht gönnen.


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review 2013-07-21 20:58
The Library of Shadows
The Library of Shadows - Mikkel Birkegaard,Tiina Nunnally While the criticism of many others about the ending is quite justified, this story of the power of books to move people caught me up and I had great difficulty letting it go (If the last section had been a bit stronger this would easily have crept into the 4.5 or 5* range) The story opens up with a bookseller, Luca Campelli, being literally captivated by a book, followed by his death. Then the focus moves to his son Jon Campelli, a lawyer, who has been estranged from his father for years and now owns his father's bookshop Libri di Luca. He finds himself caught up in a world he never knew about, a world where people can use books to influence others, to bring pictures in their minds of what's in the book and to sometimes change their minds. However there are the people like those who killed his father who aren't exactly nice about this ability, who want to use it for power and influence. I really did enjoy this story, the descriptions of reading and being caught up in a book really did reflect the reality of being caught up in a book and ramped it up a bit. A book for book-lovers.
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review 2013-07-13 08:59
Die Bibliothek der Schatten von Mikkel Birgegard
Die Bibliothek der Schatten: Roman - Mikkel Birkegaard

Es ist schon ein wenig her, dass ich das Buch gelesen habe, aber weil mich letztens jemand danach gefragt hat, wollte ich nun doch eine Rezension dazu schreiben. 


Worum geht es?

Dass Bücher mehr vermögen, als nur Geschichten zu erzählen, war Luca Campelli schon lange bewusst. Als er an diesem Abend in seinem Antiquariat zu lesen beginnt, spürt er ihre magische Kraft – wenig später ist er tot. Sein Sohn Jon tritt das Erbe nur widerwillig an, als er Unglaubliches erfährt: Luca Campelli war der Kopf einer geheimen Gesellschaft, die die Macht der Bücher zu nutzen weiß, und er hat sich gefährliche Feinde gemacht ... (Kurzbeschreibung amazon)


Wie war es?

Ich hatte bisher nur Gutes über das Buch gelesen und wollte natürlich auch wissen, ob es so gut ist. Ich fand es langweilig und langatmig, eigentlich war nur die Idee mit dem Geheimbund und der Fähigkeit, Menschen alles glauben zu lassen, was man will, wirklich interessant, aber leider konnte diese Stellen nicht über die Längen, die ich als quälend empfunden habe, hinwegtäuschen. Nur 3 Sterne also, weil es gut begann und spannend war, aber dann tief abgesackt ist und ich mich nur mit Querlesen bis zum Ende durchgeschlagen habe. Keine Empfehlung von mir. 

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