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text 2020-01-01 22:13
Retrospective 2019
Kallocain: Roman aus dem 21. Jahrhundert - Karin Boye,Helga Clemens
Sauriergeschichten - Ray Bradbury,Fredy Köpsell,Andrea Kamphuis
Ein leeres Haus - Lidija Čukovskaja,Melissa Mathay
The Undying Fire - H.G. Wells
Erwachen im 21. Jahrhundert - Jürg Halter
What I Loved - Siri Hustvedt
The Electric State - Simon Stålenhag

Looking back at 2019 I really liked a lot of the books that I have read, but as always, there were a couple of disappointments as well. Due to the fact that I also had to write my master’s thesis (which – heureka! – is finally done), I set my goal for the annual Reading Challenge quite low at 20 and for the first time in the four years I have been doing this, I successfully managed to meet this goal.

Before I start a new year of reading, I would like to take the time for a short retrospect and share with you what I liked and disliked and why.

The top 3 of 2019
First and foremost I would like to highlight Kallocain by Karin Boye as one of the best novels I have read this past year. It is not only an example of superb writing, but it features some incredibly strong scenes that are still on my mind and still get to me whenever I think about them.
Secondly, everything written by Bradbury, but especially his Dinosaur Stories, because they were so passionate and imaginative, that they outshine Fahrenheit 451 as well as Now and Forever in this regard.
And the third place goes to Lidija Čukovskaja for her novel The deserted House, the touching and bigger than life tale of Olga Petrovna that brought tears to my eyes.

The bottom 3 of 2019
I was immensely disappointed by The Undying Fire, not only because I highly admire H. G. Wells, but also because it had such a promising start. Overall, it is too lengthy and the structure depends too much on lining up monologue after monologue after monologue that it is hard to keep your interest up.
Another big letdown was Erwachen im 21. Jahrhundert by Jürg Halter. Again, I had quite high hopes, but unfortunately this novel is too pessimistic for my taste and it is so over the top cynical! Due to Halter being a poet rather than a novelist the text is also quite demanding, which is not a bad thing per se, but in this case it is so overflowing with so much at the same time that I reached a mental overload multiple times.
Finally, Siri Hustvedt’s What I loved was by far the worst. Too descriptive, too ivory-tower elitist, a complete lack of inner logic and in my opinion, a bunch of unbelievable and uninteresting characters.

Honourable Mentions
There is one book I would like to add as an honourable mention: Simon Stålenhag’s The Electric State. Since I primarily bough it, because I had already fallen in love with his artwork a couple of years ago, I was not disappointed, even though the storyline is a little on the weak side.

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review 2019-11-25 04:43
The City Where We Once Lived by Eric Barnes
The City Where We Once Lived: A Novel - Eric Barnes

TITLE:  The City Where We Once Lived


AUTHOR:  Eric Barnes







"In a near future where climate change has severely affected weather and agriculture, the North End of an unnamed city has long been abandoned in favor of the neighboring South End. Aside from the scavengers steadily stripping the empty city to its bones, only a few thousand people remain, content to live quietly among the crumbling metropolis. Many, like the narrator, are there to try to escape the demons of their past. He spends his time observing and recording the decay around him, attempting to bury memories of what he has lost.

But it eventually becomes clear that things are unraveling elsewhere as well, as strangers, violent and desperate alike, begin to appear in the North End, spreading word of social and political deterioration in the South End and beyond. Faced with a growing disruption to his isolated life, the narrator discovers within himself a surprising need to resist losing the home he has created in this empty place. He and the rest of the citizens of the North End must choose whether to face outsiders as invaders or welcome them as neighbors.

The City Where We Once Lived is a haunting novel of the near future that combines a prescient look at how climate change and industrial flight will shape our world with a deeply personal story of one man running from his past. With glowing prose, Eric Barnes brings into sharp focus questions of how we come to call a place home and what is our capacity for violence when that home becomes threatened.




This novel starts of slowly and doesn't pick up pace.  The setting was developed very nicely, showing how depressing, bland and pointless - presumably the reflection of the live of the people in the North End, and the main character (narrator) in particular.  The prose is beautiful, but there is very little action in this novel and the plot is weak.  The narrator is a writer/reporter and we get to read about his observations of the North End and his personal issues.  These however, come across as irrelevant, even though they are the stuff of nightmares.  The author's concepts of how climate change, pollution and industrial flight affect a particular community is interesting, but it fades into the background.  I would have liked to have seen this idea explored a little more.  There IS light at the end of this dystopian novel.  The concept of the scavangers and how the people in the North End choose to live, as well as the gardener are all interesting ideas.  What the community chooses to do to survive, instead of devolving into chaos, is also rather different from the usual dystopian stories.  I just wish this book wasn't so bland and that the narrator had a bit more personality.


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review 2019-11-23 19:23
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

The prologue begins with an opening line reminiscent of A Christmas Carol: "First of all, it was October, a rare time for boys."

Forty or so years ago I read this and identified with the boys, of course I did. This time I couldn't. So it was just a bunch of wordplay and monologuing and there was no horror to it anywhere, just an ad for an imaginary place I wouldn't be welcome. He did say some nice things about libraries, though, so I'm giving it a couple of stars.

Library copy

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photo 2019-10-13 02:58
The October Country - Ray Bradbury

“October Country . . . that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and mid-nights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. . . .”

― Ray Bradbury, The October Country

Source: nednote.com/the-october-country
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text 2019-08-12 23:57
Halloween Bingo 2019 PreParty -- Question for 08/12 (Day 12): Classic Crime and Classic Horror Recommendations?
Gaudy Night - Dorothy L. Sayers
Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey
The Haunted Monastery (Judge Dee Series) - Robert H. van Gulik
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Goblin Market - Christina Rossetti
Who Killed Robert Prentice? - Dennis Wheatley
The Dykemaster - Theodor Storm
The Signalman: A Ghost Story - Charles Dickens,Simon Bradley
Hauff's Fairy Tales - Wilhelm Hauff
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Late to today's party and most of my really big favorites have already made an appearance in other folks' posts, so I figured I'll just list mine and showcase at the top of my post some of the books that haven't yet been highlighted by others.  By bingo category, with suspense and mysteries together in one block and an extra block for the children's books instead:



Dorothy L. Sayers: Lord Peter Wimsey series, especially the Wimsey & Vane subseries / quartet

Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes series
Agatha Christie: Poirot, Miss Marple and Tommy & Tuppence series, The Witness for the Prosecution, The Mousetrap, And Then There Were None, Crooked House, Towards Zero, The Sittaford Mystery
Patricia Wentworth: Miss Silver series
Ngaio Marsh: Roderick Alleyn series
Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar, The Daughter of Time, The Franchise Affair
John Dickson Carr: The Hollow Man
Anthony Wynne: Murder of a Lady
Mavis Doriel Hay: The Santa Klaus Murder
Georgette Heyer: Envious Casca
Robert van Gulik: Judge Dee series
Georges Simenon: Maigret series
Graham Greene: The Third Man
John Mortimer: Rumpole series
Ruth Rendell: Inspector Wexford series
P.D. James: Inspector Dalgliesh series
Dennis Wheatley: Who Killed Robert Prentice?
Q. Patrick: File on Fenton and Farr
Mary Roberts Rinehart: Locked Doors
Rex Stout: Nero Wolfe series
Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep
Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon
Cornell Woolrich: Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black
James M. Cain: Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice
John Dudley Ball: In the Heat of the Night
Mario Puzo: The Godfather
Neil Simon, H.R.F. Keating: Murder by Death



William Shakespeare: The Tempest
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings
C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia
Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale
George Orwell: 1984
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Sheri S. Tepper: The True Game
Alfred Lord Tennyson: The Lady of Shalott



William Shakespeare: Macbeth
Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre
Anne Brontë: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Daphne Du Maurier: Rebecca
Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market
Charles Dickens: Bleak House, A Christmas Carol, The Signalman
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Canterville Ghost
Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone
Theodor Storm: Der Schimmelreiter (The Dykemaster)
Edith Wharton: Ghost Stories
Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven, The Mask of the Red Death
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
Shirley Jackson: The Lottery, We Have Always Lived in the Castle



Otfried Preußler: The Little Witch, The Little Ghost
Robert Arthur, et al.: The Three Investigators series
T.H. White: The Sword in the Stone
Wilhelm Hauff: Fairy Tales



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