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text 2017-02-01 12:34
January Wrap-up
Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Nick Hornby
Shadows Linger - Glen Cook
Dark Visions - Conversations With The Masters of the Horror Film - Stanley Wiater
Dark Entries - Robert Aickman
Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky
The Fifth Profession - David Morrell

Okay, I read six books in January, half of them re-reads. Not my best month, but oh well.

 

A quick note on my ratings:  *****,  great; ****, quite good; ***, decent; **, mediocre; *, dreck.  You won't  see many * or ** ratings because I usually DNF them. If I don't finish, I don't review, partly because it wouldn't be fair, but mostly because they aren't worth my time.

 

1. Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Nick Hornby  Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Nick Hornby   *****

 

    My only five-star this month, and a rerun. I love Hornby's non-fiction, so a collection of his book criticism for Believer magazine is perfect for me, and seeing him struggle with the magazine's "acid-free" policy is hilarious (I couldn't do it, myself, as you'll see shortly). Plus, a loot of great recommendations, albeit in a more mainstream vein than my usual tastes. Still, any book that got me into reading Sarah Vowell is aces.

 

2. The Fifth Profession - David Morrell  The Fifth Profession - David Morrell  ***

 

    Another re-read, this from one of my favorite thriller writers. Alas, not one of his best. This is a silly book, but a lot of fun. It involves bodyguards, espionage, psychosurgery/brainwashing, the return of Japanese imperialism, insta-love... Like I said, silly, stupid fun. Would have made a good camp movies tarring Michael Biehn.

 

3. Dark Entries - Robert Aickman  Dark Entries - Robert Aickman  ****

 

    My first short-story collection of the year, and a damn good one. Most of the stories are oblique, many to the point where I'm not quite sure what, if anything, happened. Still the atmosphere was great, and "Ringing the Changes" is an all-time classic for a reason.

 

4. Dark Visions - Conversations With The Masters of the Horror Film - Stanley Wiater  Dark Visions - Conversations With The Masters of the Horror Film - Stanley Wiater  ***

 

    Really, 2.5 rounded up. It is a series of interviews with actors. writers, directors, etc. Many of the people are interesting, but Wiater is a bland interviewer. There are few, if any, tough questions, the creative and technical sides of film are left unexplored, no personal insights... Well=written, with the occasional fun nugget, but often dull.

 

5. Shadows Linger - Glen Cook  Shadows Linger - Glen Cook  ***

 

    Second in the fabled Black Company series, and just as uneven as the first. Glum, grim, and yet still engaging. I will read book three, as I own it, but am in no rush.

 

6. Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky  Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky  

 

    First in the V.I. Warshawski series of P.I. novels. First published in 1982. it hasn't aged well. Also, the lead is difficult, though understandably so. Still, it's well-written and often funny, and deals with white-collar crime, a rarity for the sub-genre.

 

-----

 

All in all, not a great month, but not terrible. Hopefully, it was better for you folks.

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review 2015-11-30 00:00
Shadows Linger
Shadows Linger - Glen Cook People who read my rants called reviews know I love criticizing blurbs. This time I will be gentle. The blurb for this book has nothing to do with the book contents. These two are as different from each other as a recent Harvard graduate and a prehistoric human; I mean they are both homo sapience species, but this is where the similarity ends.

Anyway my interpretation of the plot follows. Six years passed since the events of the first book. The Company is still on the Lady's payroll. They are still good at what they do and they are still the first choice for the critical missions. The problem is, they seem to lost their way and the morale is low. This is clearly seen in relationships between Goblin and One-Eye as at one point Goblin was about to kill his frenemy for a seemingly harmless (as harmless as One-Eye can do it) prank.

At the same time far west - as far as one can get while still remaining on the same continent - bad things are about to happen. Some familiar faces unwittingly help the evil for its plans.
Black Castle
These two seemingly unrelated plotlines gradually converge for an exciting and fast-paced result; this is a trope Glen Cook uses with great success several times in other books.

What is really noticeable is the different style of this installment. The first one was completely written as Company's annals by its annalist Croaker. As I mentioned this one consists of two plotlines. The first one is still told in first person by Croaker in his minimalist style. The second one is in third person from point of view of an innkeeper called Marron Shed.
Innkeeper
This one is actually more interesting at times than Croaker's tale of the Company.

I have good news for people who managed to finish the first book, but thought the writing style was hard to follow. This time the writing is smoother. The exciting part which starts after about first half of the book makes it very hard to put the book down.

Speaking about putting the book down, this one as a whole is as gripping as the first one, so if you liked that one you will like the second installment. Add to this some excellent character developments - most notably of Marron Shed - and you have a very nice novel which does not suffer from a Middle Book of a Trilogy syndrome. In this case I am talking about the Book of North trilogy of the Black Company.

The only reason the book lost one star from the perfect rating was occasional slowdowns in the first half, so the final rating is 4 stars. If you liked the first book, you have to read this one; just beware that this book ends in a cliffhanger of sorts.
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review 2015-11-15 12:51
Vampirisch auf Erwachsen
Sanguineus - Band 1: Gefallener Engel - Ina Linger

Meine Meinung

Auf diese Reihe wurde ich aufmerksam, weil die Autorin Ina Linger mich direkt angesprochen hat, ob ich Band 1 der Reihe rezensieren möchte. Nachdem ich den Klappentext gelesen hatte, habe ich mich schnell entschieden, mich an einer erwachsenen Vampirgeschichte zu versuchen.

Mein Erfahrungsschatz gehört eher den Hexen, demnach war ich noch gespannter auf die Vampire in dieser Story.

 

Der arrogante Jonathan Haynes konnte mich von Anfang an begeistern. Ich mochte seinen erschaffenen Charakter, sein Wesen und sein Auftreten wirklich sehr.

Die Verbindung zwischen knallhartem Geschäftsmann und Vampir ist hier gut gelungen und es hat etwas anderes, etwas Erwachsenes.

Für mich ein Pluspunkt, da ich das Thema Vampire im Jugendbuchbereich meist zu kitschig finde.

 

Die große Frage in diesem Buch ist, was ist mit Nathan passiert?

Jonathan vermisst seinen besten Freund und Sam hat ihre Liebe des Lebens verloren. Das heißt dieses Buch behandelt sowohl das Thema Liebe, als auch Freundschaft. Zwei Themen, die sehr gut in das Buch eingearbeitet wurden.

Ein absolutes Highlight in dieser Hinsicht sind die vielen tollen Zitate, die Ina Linger in dieses Buch eingebracht hat. Ich hätte sie alle aufschreiben können, habe im unteren Bereich der Rezension aber nur einige genannt. Jedes Zitat trägt so viel Wahrheit in sich und sie bereichern meine Sammlung wirklich immens.

 

Der Schreibstil und auch die Wendungen im Buch passen perfekt zusammen und es war ein schönes Lesen.

 

Im Nachhinein muss ich jedoch sagen, dass mich dieses Entführungsthema weniger inspiriert hat, als die Themen Freundschaft und Liebe, die alles überdauert.

Das Thema um Nathan und seinem Verschwinden, wohinter die Organisation „Die Garde“ steckt, wurde erst gegen Ende so richtig spannend.

Und da es erst Band 1 von 4 ist, lässt uns die Autorin natürlich mit einem fiesen Cliffhanger zurück.

So dass es weitergehen muss und ich werde die Reihe auch weiterverfolgen.

____________________________________________________________

 

Ein Kritikpunkt ist für mich, dass in den Erzählperspektiven zu oft gewechselt wurde. Ich wusste zeitweise immer gar nicht, ob gerade Jonathan, Sam oder Nathan spricht. Das hat einfach unheimliche Konzentration benötigt. Dann nach meinem Geschmack entweder einer oder ein durchgehender Allwissender Erzählstil.

 

Auch mit den Zeitsprüngen hatte ich in meinem Lesefluss irgendwie meine Problemchen. Erklären kann ich es nicht so richtig, die Zeitangaben standen in den Kapitelüberschriften, aber dennoch war es irgendwie schwer.

 

Und auch die Charaktere Sam und Nathan waren mir zu blass dargestellt, natürlich kann dieser Punkt im zweiten Band ganz anders aussehen, Folgebände bauen ja auch den ersten Band auf, aber ich spreche es trotzdem an.

 

Mein Fazit

Wer sich dem Thema Vampire auf erwachsener Ebene widmen möchte, nimmt hier das richtige Buch zur Hand. Für mich ist es eine neue Idee und eine tolle Umsetzung. Aufgrund des Cliffhangers bin ich gespannt, wie es weitergehen wird.

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review 2015-10-30 00:00
Linger
Linger - Maggie Stiefvater Actual Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Linger is the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy and considering how impressed I was with the first book, I was dying to continue with the series! So I bet you're wondering if the sequel fell victim to the dreaded 'second-book syndrome' or if the goddess that is Maggie Stiefvater managed to avoid that altogether and impress me even more. Well, let's have a look shall we?

I have to apologize in advance here because this next paragraph will be on the vague-side but I want to avoid any major spoilers for the series. Ok. So Linger opens up with Grace and Sam, coming to terms with the big changes that went down for Sam at the end of Shiver. Beyond that though, there are some not-so-subtle hints that there's something going on with Grace as well. I remember reading reviews where people complained that Grace's problem was too obvious but here's my take on it: I think it was supposed to be obvious. We were meant to guess what was up with Grace's predicament before she did. It seems clear to me that Stiefvater wrote it that way. The true mystery here is the 'when?' and the 'HOW?!'. To me, that was just as engaging as anything because it opens up a whole other issue with the Wolves - not to mention the clear heartbreak that will no doubt ensue...when things finally hit the fan ...

After reading the synopsis for Linger, I was worried that a love triangle might have been looming here but Stiefvater deftly avoided that predictable outcome. Instead, she introduces two more POVs, one for Isabel, a character we met and that I grew to LOVE in Shiver. Win. Her friendship with Grace was unexpected but it's also like the best thing ever. We also get introduced to a new character: Cole. Cole isn't what you'd expect going in and as the story progresses, he managed to keep surprising me. Needless to say, I adored the new POVs - I felt as though they very much added to the story and to the whole family within The Pack. The four of them all have page time with one another and seeing how they interacted with each other, for better or for worse was seriously enjoyable.

Beyond that though, each character has their own rich background, issues and heartache to deal with, which only added depth to an already richly layered story, with it's inherent sadness and atmospheric setting. Sam as always, has the soul of a poet and he made me swoon with the random song lyrics that run wild in his mind and pop up at random intervals. We got to see a more rebellious side to Grace, which could have come off as petulant but instead, I felt that she was warranted in her behavior. Together, Sam and Grace are the best. The way that they know each other so intimately is beyond romantic. ♥

Moving on to Miss Maggie Stiefvater's glorious writing style. Well, in Linger she literally showed that she can make breading chicken strips sound like a work of art. I kid you not. Her prose reads like air: effortlessly. The pages seem to turn of their own accord. There's a sort of wild, primal tone to this series and with Stiefvater, not only can you see the things she describes with crystal clear precision, you can also feel them, smell them...hear them as if you were right.there. Sigh.

Needless to say that by the time that the ending rolled around, I was pretty much covered in FEELINGS, which made those last pages all the more poignant. Knowing how Linger was going to end didn't reduce its emotional impact - not by a long shot. I was left broken, but cautiously optimistic. I'm crossing my fingers that Forever will offer up a happy ending for all of my beloved characters. It seems unlikely, but I don't think that my heart will survive if I don't convince myself that a happy ending is possible.

This review was previously featured on my blog: Photobucket
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review 2015-08-19 19:06
Shadows Linger / Glen Cook
Shadows Linger - Glen Cook

The continuing saga of the Black Company, a group of mercenaries who will have been hired by The Lady, an undead ruler whose evil is possibly preferential to that of her trapped-in-his-grave husband, The Dominator.

Shadows Linger explores the everyday evil of human existence, through the person of Shed Marron, an innkeeper in a remote city where the Company finds itself stationed. Shed is a miserable coward, scared of physical harm, poverty, and the judgment of his neighbours. When he gets money, he foolishly squanders it on fine clothes, women, and booze. I don’t know about you, but I know people like Shed—I’ve wasted a few dollars in my day, which would have been much better used if I’d saved them for emergencies. However, we all learn from our poor judgment—experience, it’s called. Shed ends up in debt to a money-lender and embarks on a dark side-business to dig himself out of the hole.

In many ways, it is by following the story of every-man, Shed, that this novel shines. I, as reader, couldn’t help but empathize with him, when he starts out with small deeds and gets sucked into a much larger situation, which he has far less control of. Isn’t this how many people end up involved in criminal activities? One seemingly safe action may lead you in unanticipated directions; if you have stood up and said ‘yes’ once, you may end up not being able to say ‘no’ later. This is the way that good people end up doing despicable things.

Mirroring Shed’s struggle, the Black Company must decide whether they can stay in The Lady’s employ, or if they also have reached the limits of their capacity to endure evil. Have they also waited too long to get free?

Second books are rarely better that the first of a series—they are often transitional. But Shadows Linger was much more engaging for me that the first book.

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