Lillelara

Lillelara

"A half finished book is, after all, a half finished love affair"
                 - Robert Frobischer (Cloud Atlas)

January 2018 Wrap Up

I decided to do monthly wrap ups this year and to keep track of my reading habits and my TBR. Unfortunately I didn´t manage to write reviews for all the books.

 

I had a pretty succesfull reading month with 11 books read (and 2 DNFs, who amount to a zero star rating) and with an average rating of 4.1 stars:

 

 

5 Stars

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling,Stephen Fry   Murder on the Links (Audio) - Hugh Fraser,Agatha Christie  Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky  

 

4.5 stars

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling,Stephen Fry  Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons  

 

4 stars

 

The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria - Annie Gray  Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski  

 

3.5 stars

 

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent - Marie Brennan  The ABC murders - Agatha Christie  The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America - Thomas King  

 

3 stars

 

The First Person and Other Stories - Ali Smith  

 

I had a nice variety of genres this month. I´m especially proud that I finished three non-fiction reads:

 

 

My TBR at the beginning of the year: 254 

Books read of my TBR: 6 (one book was a DNF)

My TBR at the beginning of February 2018: 248 

 

I have read 4 books from the library (one of these was a DNF).

 

I listened to three audiobooks, all of them rereads and all of them were excellent.

 

I hope you all had a lovely reading month as well :)

 

 

Another Day in a German bookstore
Eisige Flut - Nina Ohlandt

Today I went to a local bookstore with my mother and once again I had to roll my eyes while being in a German bookstore. 

 

Eisige Flut was the first book I picked up, mainly because I was intrigued by the frantic looking gull on the cover.

 

I had to read the blurb out loud to my mother, though. One February morning a police officer is called out to a homicide in Nordfriesland. There is a corpse on the treshold of a house, frozen stiff and wrapped in a thick layer of ice...

 

My mother´s commentary (who has lived in Nordfriesland all of her life): "Oh, this book must take place in 1963. That was the last winter such a thing could have happened." I couldn´t argue against that, besides that the book is set in comtemporary times and that the murderer might have a big freezer at home. It´s Nordfriesland this author is writing about, not the Arctic, Alaska or some other freakishly cold place on earth. At the moment we have 5 degrees celcius here.

 

I wonder what was going through the head of the author while writing implausible stuff like this. But then, all the Nordfriesland mysteries I have read so far were the bottom of the barrell. My poor home, it has to eternally suffer from bad writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Lord Edgware Dies
Lord Edgware Dies  - Agatha Christie

Christie´s books fall into two categories for me: the ones I enjoy the most are the books, where I don´t have a clue what is going on and who the murderer is. As soon as I suspect someone, it takes some enjoyment out of the story for me.

 

Lord Edgware Dies turns out to be a better installment in the Poirot series, because I was just as clueless as Hastings in this one. A lot of unsolved questions, a bunch of suspects and in the middle of it all there´s Poirot, whose little grey cells work overtime. Lord Edgware Dies is an excellent entry in the Poirot series.

 

What I enjoyed the most about this book, though, hasn´t been the mystery, but once more the Hastings-Poirot relationship (and this time around I will include Japp as well). I have to admit, a speechless Poirot is a sight to behold:

 

“[…] Why, it´s as plain as the nose on your face.”

Poirot´s hand strayed doubtfully to his nose, then his fingers dropped to his moustache. He caressed them tenderly with a proud expression.

[…]

“[…] Something may come to light yet. I know you don´t think so. You´re a pig-headed old boy, you know.”

“You insult first my nose and then my head!”

“Figzre of speech, that´s all,” said Japp soothingly. “No offence meant.”

“The answer to that,” I said `is “nor taken.”´

Poirot looked from one to the other of us completely puzzled.

 

This was such a fun and enjoyable read and for me one of the better Christie mysteries.

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 352 pages.
Lord Edgware Dies  - Agatha Christie

Japp wiped his forehead and looked the picture of misery. Poirot made sympathetic noises - somewhat suggestive of a hen laying an egg. With more insight into the English character, I poured out a stiff Whiskey and soda and placed it in front of the gloomy inspector. He brightened a little.

 

This made me chuckle. We really need the Hastings fanclub ;D

Reading progress update: I've read 136 out of 352 pages.
Lord Edgware Dies  - Agatha Christie

"Did Miss Adams know any doctors? I mean, was any particular doctor a friend of hers?"

Jenny shook her head.

"Another question. Did Miss Adams wear pincenez?"

"Glasses? Never."

"Ah!" Poirot frowned.

A vision rose in my mind. A doctor, smelling of carbolic, with short-sighted eyes magnified by powerful lenses. Absurd!

 

I love how Hastings is going off on a tangent every once in a while.

Reading progress update: I've read 88 out of 352 pages.
Lord Edgware Dies  - Agatha Christie

"You don´t understand. Jane is not an ordinary murderess. She - she has no sense of right or wrong. Honestly she´s not responsible."

 

Something is clearly wrong, when a good friend of yours thinks you are capable of murdering someone. I´m really enjoying this book so far. 

 

I really missed Poirot:

 

"No, no, my good Japp. I am not the partisan you think. But frankly, the case as you present, revolts the intelligence."

"What do you mean, revolts the intelligence? It doesn´t revolt mine."

I could see words trembling on Poirot´s lips. He restrained them.

 

I would have loved to hear what Poirot really was thinking. And then, of course, there is Hastings:

 

I´m afraid that I have got into the habit of averting my attention whenever Poirot mentions his little grey cells. I have heard it all so often before.

 

[Source]

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 608 out of 608 pages.
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Oh my, that ending. What a fantastic read. I absolutely loved it.

Reading progress update: I've read 242 out of 608 pages.
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Wow, this is really, really good. I´m getting a whole new appreciation for spiders, they are absolutely awesome in this book. 

 

And despite it being a science fiction book, the last couple of chapters felt more like a horror novel:

 

The attack of the ants! And imagine yourself being in the shoes of Nessel, held captive on that planet by intelligent spiders as a kind of guinea pig and not being able to communicate with them.

(show spoiler)

 

 

 

 

I need a clean slate
The Tropic of Serpents - Marie Brennan I Saw a Man - Owen Sheers, Thomas Mohr

Two DNFs in a day, this has to be a new record for me.

 

The Tropic of Serpents: I´m still bored by this book and whenever I´m looking at it I don´t feel the urge to pick it up. But maybe I will give it another try later on, because I´ve got the feeling I´m not in the right head-space at the moment to enjoy this story. I DNFd the first book in the series and ended up liking it on my second try, so I might do the same with this novel.

 

I Saw a Man: I skimread the last half of it and now I know how it ended. What a dud this book is. This novel is about 300 pages long and could easily have been cut by 200 pages. There is just so much moping around by guilt-ridden characters I can tolerate in my reading. Thanks BT, for encouraging me to not waste anymore time on this book.

 

So, what am I reading now:

 

Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky  

 

I´m still reading Lonesome Dove and I´m loving it. Can´t wait to dig into the next weeks chapters. And at the moment I have a weird craving for SciFi books, so I´m going to crack up Children of Time tonight. I´m really looking forward to this book and I hope it´s going to be a good one.

 

 

 

   

Reading progress update: I've read 168 out of 304 pages.
I Saw a Man - Owen Sheers, Thomas Mohr

I got this book as a gift, but I wonder in which section I would find it in a German bookstore. My guess is the thriller section, because reading the blurb I´ve got the impression that this is supposed to be a thriller. However, it is more of a drama and not a very compelling one at that.

 

I haven´t read such an unbelievable and preposterous plot in a very long time. The big "life-changing" event did just happen and since the characters seem to be complete morons (and the men sexist pigs on top of that), I´m not expecting any changes for the better in regards to the plot.

 

The translation of this book has a terrible flow to it and the translator Thomas Mohr uses German words that are hardly used in a normal manner of speech. As an example he uses the word "mokant", which means mocking in English. Why doesn´t the translator use the more commenly used word "spöttisch" in his translation? I really don´t like this approach to make a text seem more intellectual by using fancy words, which a normal human being never would use (I don´t know what kind of language Owen Sheers himself uses in his original text, though. It would be interesting to make a comparison).

Reading progress update: I've read 107 out of 331 pages.
The Tropic of Serpents - Marie Brennan

I´m not giving up on this book just yet, but let me say this: I´m bored senseless by it.

 

Isabella talks constantly about the politics of a foreign country, throwing around made up names of cities and geographical areas (yes, most of the time I don´t have a clue what is going on). What annoys me the most, though, is Isabellas constant hinting at that this political chit chat has some relevance later on in her memoirs. Boring!

 

This might become my first DNF of the year, depending on the next couple of chapters and depending on whether or not the story starts to get interesting.

Reading progress update: I've read 470 out of 858 pages.
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry

The story has taken a dark and devestating turn and the last couple of chapters left me with a feeling of sadness.

 

 

This book just keeps getting better and better.

Review
4.5 Stars
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling, Stephen Fry

I have never been a big Harry Potter fan and I haven´t even read book six and seven yet. But the audiobooks narrated by Stephen Fry might actually change this. He is a genius, at least when it comes to the narration of these books (I guess he is a genius in every other aspect as well, but lets just stick to the audiobooks for now). The way he uses his voice and how the whole audiobook is produced adds a whole new dimension to these stories. I love listening to them.

 

The Chamber of Secrets will never be my favorite Potter, though, and I can´t even say why that is. Probably because Hermione is missing for a good part of the book, I always feel there is something missing when she isn´t around. On the other hand there is Gilderoy Lockhart, who I have the slight suspicion about that he might be Reinhold Messner in disguise (Lockharts "Year with the Yeti" book made me chuckle).

 

So five blazing stars for the narration, 4 stars for the story, 4.5 stars overall.

 

I can´t wait for the Prisoner of Akzaban, my favorite Potter so far (both book and movie) and I can´t wait to start listening to it maybe today, maybe tomorrow morning.

Review
3.5 Stars
The First Person and Other Stories
The First Person and Other Stories - Ali Smith

I find it incredibly hard to rate a short story collection, since the stories tend to be either a hit or miss or for me. And the same is the case with Ali Smiths short stories. Some of the stories were a miss for me not because they were badly written, but because I didn´t get the point of these stories or I simply couldn´t relate to the topics in them. So I´m not afraid to admit that Ali Smith at times might be too smart for me or it might be that I´m lacking certain life experiences to enjoy this collection to the fullest.

 

I´m glad that I read this collection, though. I loved the story with the baby, who suddenly appears in the shopping trolley of a woman and no one believes her that this isn´t her baby. And it´s been great to dip my toes into Ali Smiths writing. I´m definitely intrigued enough to check out one of her novels in the future.

Reading progress update: I've read 365 out of 858 pages.
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry

I just finished my weekly page count and after a slow start this book is getting better and better. By now we have been introduced to two different sets of characters, who I´m sure are going to cross paths along the way. 

 

My favorite character so far is Gus, who I suspect of having a heart of gold, even though he can be annoying. And I have a soft spot for Roscoe. His storyline is so much fun and he is so clueless about women and life in general.

 

Every now and then there are racist and misogynistic remarks, but I expected this before starting this novel (it is set in late 19th century Texas and it has a very male-centric narrative). But that doesn´t mean that the few female characters are weak, quite the contrary. I really like Lorena, who doesn´t accept the BS from Jake, the pathetic whimp.

 

 

Review
4 Stars
The Greedy Queen
The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria - Annie Gray

I enjoyed reading this non-fiction book about the reign of Queen Victoria and her eating habits. However, I´m not sure how much new information about Queen Victoria the author really has provided, because everytime I told my mother an anecdote or fact from this book, she already knew everything about it by having watched the tv-series (which leads me to the conclusion that Annie Gray might have read Victoria´s diaries). 

 

In the end The Greedy Queen is an interesting look at Queen Victoria and the food and dining culture during the Victorian reign, but it is possible that this book might only be interesting for those, who don´t have a huge amount of prior knowledge about the Victorian age and life at court.

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