TTT: Summer Reading

Since I told you in my last entry that I managed to get sunburnt in Dublin you might have guessed that sun and heat don’t really agree with me. I usually the summer hiding in the cellar and trying to distract me from the heat. So my summer reading list includes books set in icy cold places so that at least my brain can cool down a bit.

Kai Meyer: Frostfeuer1. Kai Meyer – Frostfeuer (Frost Fire)

Unsurprisingly, things get cold in this retelling of The Snow Queen, set in St. Petersburg. Sadly, it hasn’t been translated in English but some of Meyer’s other books have. Including the more sun- and beach appropriate Wave Walkers trilogy which is set in the Carribean.

Ekaterina Sedia - Heart of Iron2. Ekaterina Sedia – Heart of Iron

It’s not always cold in this book but Sasha’s journey on the Trans-Siberian railroad leads her…well…through Siberia. Where it is very cold.

Arnaldur Indriðason: Silence of the grave3. Arnaldur Indriðason – Silence of the grave

While it’s not set in the middle of a deep Icelandic winter, things do get pretty chilly in this crime novel.

Henning Mankell: One Step Behind4. Henning Mankell – One Step Behind

While I could never share the love every crime novel reader seems to have for the whole Wallander series, I think some of the books are great and One Step Behind is brilliant. (And while it’s set in Sweden it takes place over Midsummer so it’s a proper summer-read).

Tommy Krappweis: Das Vorzelt zur Hölle5. Tommy Krappweis – Das Vorzelt zur Hölle

Another book with no English translation but this topic is surprisingly hard. And this one is properly holiday-themed: The author writes about the campaign-holidays of his childhood and how much his parents loved them. He, on the other hand, was less fond of tents and questionable sanitary conditions but had very little input on the choice of holiday destination. That makes it all sound a lot less funny than this book is because I laughed out loud repeatedly while reading this.

Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile6. Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile

And if you are one of those strange people who enjoy hot weather and even want to read about people being in very hot places while you are in a very hot place: here’s a book set in Egypt.

Carola Dunn - To Davy Jones Below7. Carola Dunn – To Davy Jones Below

Just like Poirot, Lady Daisy also can’t go on holidays without falling over a dead body. And that makes for some perfect holiday-reading 😉

Tony Hawks - Round Ireland with a fridge8. Tony Hawks – Round Ireland with a Fridge

In case you’re into unusual holidays, you will enjoy the tale of the man who went round Ireland with a fridge. It’s hilarious.

Foreign Bodies9. Foreign Bodies

Perhaps you want to match your holiday-reading with your destination. In that case, one of the stories in Foreign Bodies might meet your requirements, as it brings you crime-stories from places like Russia, Japan, France, the Netherlands, and Mexico.

K. M. McKinley - The City of Ice10. K. M. McKinley – The City of Ice

And to close things of another icy read. Though only one of the plotlines takes place in the eponymous city (and the characters need quite a while till they get there). Another is about worker’s rights in a place with very average temperatures. (And yet another is about…a BDSM loving god. It’s an odd book but very good).

Top 10 Tuesday: May 29: Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In

1. Westeros (George R. R. Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire)

This should surprise hardly anybody. Living there increases your chances of dying a slow, horrible, and painful death by about 800%

2. Isles des Zephyrs (Curtis Craddock: The Risen Kingdoms)

Now as far as fantasy-worlds go this one isn’t too horrible. It is, however, also a world of hundreds of islands, floating in space and travel from one place to the other is only possible by airship.
I’m afraid of heights and avoid planes if possible. I would not enjoy my time there at all.

3. The Dherzi Empire (Carol Berg: Rai-Kirah )

The empire is built on slavery. Its whole economy only works because of a shit-ton of slaves. Since very few people aspire to being slaves, they keep invading other countries to take slaves or turn their free subjects into slaves for such slights as ‘standing in the vicinity of someone who had a bad thought about the emperor’. So chances are that I would also end up as one which is not a good prospect.

4. Balaia (James Barclay: The Chronicles of the Raven)

Balaia isn’t like Westeros; full of waring fractions and psychopaths who enjoy skinning people alive, baking them into pies or do other fun things to them. It is, however, haunted by one magical catastrophe that leads to mass casualties after another. So while, unlike Westeros, death might be quick it still would be very likely.

5. Morse’s Oxford (Colin Dexter: Inspector Morse Mysteries)

Have you seen the murder rate there? Especially if you have some connection to the university it is very likely that you will end up dead.

6. Middle Earth (JRR Tolkien: Lord of the Rings)

Yes, I know. Compared to some of the worlds here it looks like Disneyland. Though it’s not like Tolkien shied back from describing war, but if I’m honest that’s not the reason why I put it on this list. The truth is: I think wizards are cool. And if I’d be transported into a fantasy world I want the chance to end up with magical powers myself. And with so few wizards in Middle Earth, the chance would be quite slim.

7. English Country Houses in the 1920s (any golden age mystery).

Much like Inspector Morse’s Oxford: the mortality rate is very very high.

8. The Hundred Kingdoms (KM McKinley: The Gates of the World)

Well, this isn’t exactly bad-bad but still very unpleasant with angry Gods walking around and magical disasters happening frequently.

9. Riva (Andrzej Sapkowski: The Witcher)

I have only read the first two books but from those, I got the impression that this world is full of beings that want to kill/eat/do other unpleasant things to other.

10. Camorr & surroundings (Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora)

Another fantasy world full of powerful people who will do horrible things to you if you piss them off for some reason.

TTT: Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

1. & 2. Ben Aaronovitch – Lies Sleeping & The October Man

The next two books in the Peter Grant Series, or well one with Peter and one set in the same universe but with a different main character: Tobias Winter, Peter’s German equivalent. I admit that even though I really want to know how the main story continues I’m also really looking forward to meeting Tobias,

3. Robert Galbraith – Lethal White

After the ending of book three? I NEED THAT NOW 😉

4. Curtis Craddock –  An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors #2

It doesn’t have a title, yet…or even a vague release date. But I am willing to slay several lions to get it.

gif: Lion and a box

(I would just distract them with A BOX!)

5. KJ Charles – Last Couple in Hell

The second book in her Green Man Series. I loved book one (and am especially excited because LCIH will feature an f/f couple)

6. Carola Dunn – The Corpse at the Crystal Palace

You might have noticed my love for the Lady Daisy mysteries. And the blurb sounds very promising

7. Carol Berg – ???

I have no idea what she is currently writing, if she is writing at all and when it will come out. I do know that I will read it

8. George R. R. Martin – Winds of Winter

It has to come out one day, right?

Game of thrones scene: Sansa and some other girls. Caption: Prayer Circle

9. The Good Omens TV-Show

That’s not a book, you say? Well, don’t tell anyone 😉

10. The Hath No Fury-Anthology

Yes, this is partly because it will have a Carol Berg-story. But a fantasy anthology focussing on female characters sounds awesome in general.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Frequently Used Words In Cozy Mystery Titles

I shortly considered talking about Epic Fantasy’s love for the words Sword, King, Throne, Queen and so on but then I realized there is a genre I enjoy and that has a tendency for a certain something in the title. And by that, I mean Cozy Mysteries and groanworthy puns.

So please enjoy this collection of titles I found in less than 20 minutes on cozy-mystery.com and appreciate that it doesn’t consist solely of needlework-themed mysteries with dye/die-puns which would have been entirely possible because that’s a very popular pun.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Freebie – Tropes I Hate In Genres I Love

I love fantasy, crime novels (especially mysteries) and romances but all of those have popular tropes that I can’t stand. So here are some and as a bonus some books from these genres that avoid (or subvert) the tropes.

1. The Noisy Mother (cozy mysteries)

The protagonist’s mother can’t stop sticking her nose in her child’s business. And to be clear: I’m not talking about calling them too often or occasionally appearing unannounced, I’m talking about pestering the child’s doctor to learn about their health, or opening every single conversation with questions about the kid’s love-life and (if it’s a daughter) when she finally intends to breed. That’s not adorable. That would make me require extensive therapy.

This doesn’t happen in:

 

Carola Dunn: Death at Wentwater Court
Rather the whole Lady Daisy series

 

Daisy and her mother have a complicated relationship and her mother isn’t even that likable (she is rather class-conscious and disapproves of Daisy’s marriage) but she never turns into a caricature.

2. Cold Openings (crime)

The classic crime novel opening has a person, usually a woman, running. While she is running she thinks about her family and then gets killed by a serial killer in more or less graphic detail. Sometimes the novel isn’t about a serial killer but e.g. a person from the character’s past coming after her because of a Dark Secret. In that case, her internal monologue just tells us enough to know that there is a Dark Secret but it could be anything from ‘When I was five I drowned my neighbour’s goldfish’ over ‘I sat in the car when my high as fuck college friend ran over somebody and didn’t stop’ to ‘We sacrificed the school bully to Satan’.

Variations of that are: she is already in the killer’s torture dungeon or she is doing something perfectly ordinary, talks perhaps about a bad feeling she has, hears a noise ‘and then everything went black’.

Here’s the thing: why should I care about a character I only met for perhaps 20 pages? I cannot remember an occasion where the cold opening told us anything plot-relevant. It just tells us that…there is a murder…in the murder mystery?

This doesn’t happen in:

Robert Galbraith: The Cuckoo's Calling

Cold Openings are quite widespread in ‘serious’ crime novels (i.e. not cozy mysteries). The Cormoran Strike series isn’t one of them.

3. No Life Without Him/Her (romance)

Romances are about two* people meeting and falling in love. Yes, I know. But I get annoyed when one chapter ends with heroine makes plans to meet with her best friend and the following chapter starts with ‘Meeting her friend had been fun’, completely skips the whole thing and we’re back to the heroine interacting with the hero/thinking about him (the two heroines/heroes interacting). I’m not saying that the two halves of the couple should only meet three times over the course of the novel but it’s also an important part of someone’s characterisation to see how they act when with somebody else.

* Or more

This doesn’t happen in:

Shira Glassman: Knit One, Girl Two

This is actually just a novella still manages to show how the protagonist has friends and family and yes she talks about her relationship with them but not exclusively.

4. The Bitchy Ex (romance)

Let’s face it: this is a big problem in m/m romance. One of the guys has an ex-wife who is an absolute harpy. When she finds out he is now with a man things get worse because she suddenly turns into the most conservative-evangelical Christian and screams how he’s going to hell. If there are children she obviously threatens to make sure he will never see them again. (And there are no other likable female characters in the book because ‘Women – eergh’). This is misogynistic bullshit.

Now that doesn’t mean that this never is an issue in m/f books. The ex of either of them can also make an appearance there and sabotage the relationship. Now I am aware that sometimes relationships end badly and people get hurt. But there’s a difference between that and ‘I want to make sure that my ex will never be happy again’.

This doesn’t happen in:

Rose Lerner: All or Nothing

It is unfortunate that I can’t think of a counterexample with a non-horrible female ex because Simon and Maggie from All or Nothing both had a relationship with a guy. And Simon’s ex isn’t a great person but he isn’t some ‘You are not allowed to be happy without me’-caricature. He is somewhat ignorant about other people’s feeling but more in a clueless than a jerky way (and he gets better from what I remember).

5. People Can Have Only One Meaningful Relationship (romance)

I guess this is slightly related to the previous one. If one of the characters has had a previous long-term relationship, it had to have been horrible. Exceptions might be made if the previous partner is dead but even then, they will mention how dead partner was a good person but never made them feel like new person.

I know I am reading romance and it’s not very romantic if a character goes ‘I loved my ex more than anything and if they were still alive I would still be with them but if I marry you now I can really save on taxes’ but there is enough between those two extremes.

This doesn’t happen in:

Rose Lerner: Sweet Disorder

Phoebe is a widow and it is made clear that her first marriage was also out of convenience than love but she cared about him and her feelings don’t suddenly disappear when she meets Nick.

6. The Chosen One (fantasy)

Now I should make it clear that I don’t hate all Chosen One narratives *pats her Harry Potter collection*. I do strongly dislike books where the chosen one is the hero because they are the chosen one but everybody else is more capable and do all the work while the chosen one stands around.

This doesn’t happen in:

Anything by Carol Berg. Her heroes are chosen ones in the sense that there is a reason that these things are happening to them and that reason is something they have no control over. But they still stand their ground. None of them are farm boys who need half of the first book to train. The characters have already achieved things before the book starts and they use the experience they got there to solve the problems in the book.

7. No, It Wasn’t Suicide (crime)

A person dies. It looks like suicide (or an accident). Everybody thinks it is suicide. Only Our All-Knowing Hero doubts it. It doesn’t matter that all he has is his gut-feeling, Our All-Knowing Hero is convinced that is was murder and refuses to obey any orders from his superiors about investigating that other obvious murder. Our All-Knowing Hero will shout, scream, stomp his foot and show all the restraint of a five-year-old in the sweet aisle of the supermarket.

Then it turns out that Our All-Knowing Hero was right all along. The dear reader is only mildly surprised because they were reading a murder-mystery after all. They are pretty fed up with Our All-Knowing Hero anyway because he acted like an absolute jerk and not even the knowledge that he was right makes him more likable.

This doesn’t happen in:

Josh Lanyon: All She Wrote

Here one of the protagonists thinks that there is more to some apparent accidents. His friend thinks he’s imagining things but is willing to look into it himself to give him some peace. (And then, surprisingly for a crime novel, it turns out there was something more to it…)

8. The Surprisingly Psychic Hero (historical novels)

The years is 1912. Our hero has an acquaintance who excitedly tells him about this unsinkable ship called ‘Titanic’. Our hero chuckles and says condescendingly “No ship is unsinkable”. Or it’s the 1920s and everybody is convinced that those Nazi guys over in Germany won’t be a big deal. Our hero knows better.

But in 90% of cases, it’s not convincing that our hero is so knowledgeable/cares about a subject so much. So all these things tell me is that the author knows that the Titanic sank which isn’t very impressive.

This doesn’t happen in:

Volker Kutscher: Babylon Berlin

A series set in the Weimar Republik and full of people who think the Nazis aren’t that big a threat. That includes the hero; there are no attempts to make him more likeable/brighter by constantly having him explain that the Nazis are bad and how this all will end badly because nobody believes him.
It’s also been made in a series with an awesome soundtrack which isn’t directly related to my point but I wanted to mention it anyway:

9. The Phrase “He didn’t yet know that he would never do X again” (everything really)

I have read this phrase more times than I can count. All it does is spoiling that this character is going to die a few chapters or pages before they actually do it.

This doesn’t happen in:

Colin Dexter: The Riddle of the Third Mile

The phrase “He didn’t yet know he would never return to his flat again” appear in the first chapter and it’s no lie. The character never returns home. But it turns out to be for entirely different reasons than the reader thinks.

10. Look How Awesome And Different Everything Is (fantasy)

Don’t get me wrong: I love fantasy novels where the world isn’t just ‘vaguely Western European middle ages with magic’ and instead have a truly fantastical world. But sometimes authors get so lost in the details and throw everything at the reader: look this world has two moons! Look that strange ritual they are celebrating! Look at the weird animals! And nothing actually adds anything to the story. (Not that it needs to be plot-relevant if the world has two moons, but don’t pile everything up and then do absolutely nothing with it)

This doesn’t happen in:

K. M. McKinley: The Iron Ship

The Gates of the World trilogy is set in a world similar to our early industrial age. Only it also has necromancy, talking dogs and some gods who are still quite present. But it never feels like the author is shouting ‘look how cool this is’. It’s just part of the world she created. Some things influence the plot more, some less but it all has a point.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place In Another Country

  1. Japan

Keikichi Osaka: The Ginza Ghost

Impossible crimes in Japan.

2. Austria

Tasha Alexander: A Fatal Waltz

In her third case, English Lady Emily hunts spies in Vienna and shows off her German skills…by which I mean the author’s ability to use Google Translate. Spoiler: Google Translate is not a reliable source. It will only lead to readers who know the language falling down laughing because the phrase ‘Hot chocolate with whipped cream’ got translated word for word.

3. Finland

sauna-1093235_1920

Sadly only two books from the very enjoyable series about Finnish Inspector Ariel Kafka got translated into German. But I just found out that there are more in English so I can continue the series without having to learn Finnish.

4. Italy

Kai Meyer: The Flowing Queen

Kai Meyer’s Flowing Queen trilogy is set in Venice. Well in an alternate Venice that has magic and mermaids but it’s still Venice.

5. France

Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers

Into how many TTT posts can I put The Three Musketeers? Stay with this blog to find out.

6. Scotland

Carola Dunn: Murder on the Flying Scotsman

This time Daisy travels to Scotland. And falls over a body. What a surprise.

7. Iceland

Arnaldur Indridason: Todeshauch

Silence of the Grave is (together with Jar City) my favourite from Indriðason’s Erlendur mysteries and I can only recommend them. There’s no need to read the whole series/the series in order and I honestly found the rest much weaker.

8. Czech Republik-ish

Victoria Schlederer: Des Teufel's Maskerade

Well, it’s set in Prague pre-WWI so it’s not the Czech Republic, yet (or even Czechoslovakia) but today Prague is very much the Czech Republic so let’s say it counts.

9. England

Ben Aaronovich: Rivers of London

Yes it gets described as ‘If Harry Potter had grown up and joined the police force’ quite often (or also ‘if Harry Potter had actual diversity’ ehem). And it’s not completely wrong. But it definitely doesn’t need to hide behind HP (or any other series).

10. Northern Ireland

Robert McLiam Wilson: Eureka Street

I only remember that I really enjoyed this book when I read it ages ago. (And I had already made the graphic when I remembered Glenn Patterson’s The International, another book set in Northern Ireland, which is also very good and about which I actually remember something of the plot.) Perhaps it’s time for a re-read to see how it holds up.

 

I guess I should travel outside Europe a bit more often 😉

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Spring TBR

For me, tbr-pile means only books I actually own so this list contains only those and no upcoming releases.

1-5. I started this series and want to read the rest before I forgot what has happened so far

Lynn Flewelling - Stalking Darkness

Lynn Flewelling – Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner #2)

Naomi Novik: Empire of Ivory

Naomi Novik: Victory of Eagles

Naomi Novik: Empire of Ivory & Victory of Eagles (Temeraire #4 & #5)

KJ Charles: An Unnatural Vice

KJ Charles: An Unsuitable Heir

KJ Charles: An Unnatural Vice & An Unsuitable Heir (Sins of the City #2 & #3)


6 & 7. Review-copies

E.C.R. Lorac: Fire in the Thatch

E.C.R. Lorac: Fire in the Thatch

E.C.R. Lorac: Bats in the Belfry

E.C.R. Lorac: Bats in the Belfry


8. Rose Lerner: A Lily Among Thorns

6. Rose Lerner: A Lily Among Thorns

It’s the last book by Rose Lerner I haven’t read, yet. (Also romances are usually a quick read which is motivating for my project tbr-pile)


Cory O'Brien: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology7. Cory O’Brien: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

This was a birthday present so I feel to show my appreciation for it I shouldn’t drop it behind a shelf for the next three years 😛


10. Gyles Brandreth: Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol

Gyles Brandreth: Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol

I was reminded of that during the Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read-post and as I pointed out there: It’s not even that long so it should be a quick read