My 2014 Challenge (A bit closer to a real one for a change)

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My 2014 Challenge (A bit closer to a real one for a change)

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Dic 1, 2013, 10:06 am

I always loved the discussions generated by the yearly challenges. However, sticking to any category often drove me bonkers and the one thing I don't need is getting stressed over the books I feel like reading at any time.

So over the last two years I played it very loose, just barely really sticking to any category. Anything just as an excuse to participate in this group thread.

For 2014 I was planning to stick more to traditional challenges again and started drawing up some possible categories, some of them series, some genres. But I soon noticed that a lot of these were overlapping, e.g. isn't a Sherlock Holmes novel also a Mystery? The more I thought about it, the more the challenge started getting overly complex again and not what I had in mind.

So after a lot of soul searching I decided to strip it down to the essentials again. As a lot of what I read are series, I am committing to reading any number of books belonging to twelve different series throughout the year. What those series are going to be I will decide throughout the year but based on my TBR pile Jack Reacher, Sherlock Holmes and Fu Manchu will all appear in it.

Category 13 will simply be "Other Books", i.e. works not belonging to a series and those will definitely include Murder, Mystery and Noir and books about cinema. I will read some of the 1001 books and hopefully continue my Literary Trip Around the World that had stalled somewhat. I recently did a lot of real life travelling (incl the Transsiberian Express) but it looks like 2014 will be more focused on book travel than real travel. I also noticed that I didn't read as much Sci Fi or Horror lately as I thought I should or would.

One of my major focus areas (both in the series and the "other" books) will be on authors that I know nothing (or just very little) of but was always curious about. Possible contenders here include Stephen King (yes, I know), Neil Gaiman (know his comics more than his books), Kim Newman (love his film criticism but don't know any of his novels) as well as series such as Terry Pratchett's Discworld or Game of Thrones or The Wheel of Time. I won't tackle all of them but some of them for sure.

Last but not least the final category will be Graphic Novels, something I always considered a different medium altogether to books and had often not included in my reading diaries but let's face it: Those sure helped me bump up my reading quota quite a bit over the last year.

Long story short:

I will effectively be tackling roughly a series per month and in between slot in any other books and some Graphic Novels.

'Nuff said.

Modificato: Gen 13, 2014, 4:39 am

Series 1: Jack Reacher

1. Lee Child: Die Trying

Modificato: Apr 4, 2014, 6:29 am

Series 2: Gillian Amery

1. Heather Gardiner: Die rote Vase (Money on Murder)
2. Heather Gardiner: Wettlauf mit der Vergangenheit (Murder in Haste)

Series now complete

Modificato: Lug 30, 2014, 4:20 pm

Series 3: A Song of Ice and Fire

1. George R.R. Martin: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
2. George R.R. Martin: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)

Modificato: Ago 2, 2014, 3:04 pm

Series 4: Sherlock Holmes

1. Edward B. Hanna: The Whitechapel Horrors
2. Franziska Franke: Sherlock Holmes und die Katakomben von Paris

Modificato: Apr 4, 2014, 6:59 am

Series 5 (Tom Ripley)

1. Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr Ripley

Modificato: Giu 7, 2014, 3:22 pm

Series 6 (Chili Palmer)

1. Elmore Leonard: Get Shorty

Modificato: Ott 7, 2014, 12:00 pm

Series 7 (Harry Hole)

1. Jo Nesbo: The Snowman
2. Jo Nesbo: Nemesis

Modificato: Ott 30, 2014, 10:53 am

Series 8 (Fu Manchu)

1. Sax Rohmer: The Island of Fu Manchu
2. Sax Rohmer: Re-Enter Fu Manchu

Modificato: Ott 23, 2014, 9:27 am

Series 9 (Jack Taylor)

1. Ken Bruen Priest

Modificato: Nov 15, 2014, 2:16 pm

Series 10 (Cemetery of Forgotten Books)

1. Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Der Gefangene des Himmels

Modificato: Nov 29, 2014, 10:43 am

Series 11 (Death Merchant)

1. Joseph Rosenberger: Manhattan Wipeout

Modificato: Dic 12, 2014, 6:54 am

Series 12 (James Bond)

1. Charlie Higson: Double or Die

Modificato: Dic 30, 2014, 11:45 am

Other Books

1. Gaston Leroux: The Phantom of the Opera
2. Patrick Modiano: Im Cafe der verlorenen Jugend
3. Michael Hyatt: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
4. Fredric Brown: The Lenient Beast
5. Johnny B. Truant: The Universe Doesn't Give a Flying Fuck About You
6. Michael Crichton: Zero Cool
7. Robert Bloch: The Living Demons
8. Haruki Murakami: Kafka am Strand
9. John Russo: Night of the Living Dead
10. Benny Lewis: Fluent in 3 Months
11. Jorgen Hartogs: Martello Towers in Cork Harbour
12. Michael Töteberg: Fritz Lang
13. Jorgen Hartogs: Defensive Structures on the Owenabue River
14. Steven Pressfield: The War of Art
15. Walter Mosley: This Year You Write Your Novel
16. Fjodor Dostoevskij: Traum eines lächerlichen Menschen
17. Anthony Burgess: Re-Joyce
18. Bryan Senn: The Most Dangerous Cinema
19. Mason Currey: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
20. Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland: The Complete Collection
21. Carol Wolper: Adapt or Wait Tables: A Freelancer's Guide
22. Tobias Hohmann: Edgar & Bryan Edgar Wallace: Der Klassische Kriminalfim - Band 2
23. John Ajvide Lindqvist: Let The Right One In

Dic 1, 2013, 12:51 pm

Nice setup! The last thing you want is to create a challenge that takes the fun out of reading books for it.

Dic 1, 2013, 2:18 pm

Nice simple theme. It's great that you know what works for you. I like it and I'll be following your thread again this year!

Dic 1, 2013, 3:14 pm

Simple but intriguing. I'm looking forward to following your reading.

Dic 1, 2013, 3:36 pm

Good idea to keep things simple. Looking forward to seeing what series you choose and what noir titles make their way into your "other books" category :)

Dic 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

nice work on planning a category that's achievable for you. The trouble with starting a series is you somehow feel honour-bound to read all of them. I've got several on the go where I've not read the latest few, but I'm not sure I want to read all of them again to remember where we are in the story.

The trouble will be, I suspect, selecting just 12 series to read...

Dic 1, 2013, 5:39 pm

>16 lkernagh:-20: Looking forward to discussing all those books with you in the new year.

>20 Helenliz:: I have an awful habit of jumping from one series to the next and taking an eternity to coming around to finishing them. I guess it's some form of ADD. LOL

I *know* I should read them all in one go but there is a huge divide between what I should do and what I end up doing. ;-)

Dic 1, 2013, 6:20 pm

I jump from series to series as well. I keep meaning to change that but....

Dic 1, 2013, 10:40 pm

Excellent idea for your challenge, and one that I should definitely be thinking of as I am all over the place with my series reading!

Dic 2, 2013, 4:35 pm

Great categories - looking forward to taking a few bookbullets this year too!

Dic 2, 2013, 6:41 pm

I follow a great number of series and have often considered making a particular series a category unto itself but other thoughts always seemed better. I'll watch and see how yours does.

Have you looked at the GEOCat or Mystery CAT? Those might help with your Literary Trip Around the World. The GEOCat is a different region of the world spotlighted each month and the Mystery CAT is a different type of mystery every month. I'm really looking forward to them.

Dic 2, 2013, 6:50 pm

A challenge that you can enjoy is definitely the way to go.

Dic 3, 2013, 10:44 am

>25 cyderry: I have just spotted those CATs for the first time the other day and will keep a close eye on those as it looks like something right up my alley

Dic 4, 2013, 12:20 pm

I also like to set up a challenge that guarantees success! I'm eager to see what series you select. There are so many excellent ones.

Modificato: Gen 1, 2014, 7:05 am

Gaston Leroux: The Phantom of the Opera

Spending time in Germany for the New Year. Hope you all have a wonderful 2014.

I have managed to hit the ground running with the new challenge and finished a book in the first few hours of the New Year.

Well, admittedly, it was something I had already started mid-way through December so I only had a few pages left to read but I ain't complaining.

I have never been much into the Phantom of the Opera as a character but I have seen a few movie adaptations (though not the one with Lon Chaney yet). Never saw the musical and probably only ever heard a single song from it.

I was, however, curious to see how it all started. Nothing like going back to the original material.

And the source novel is an entertaining but strange book. Published as a serial, it clearly comes across as typical vintage pulp: the narratorial voices are all over the place and the dialogue often rambles on endlessly. Interesting to see that there was never much of a mystery about the Phantom in the novel as everyone and their mother seems to know about him right from the start. And, yes, he ain't much of a romantic hero, our Erik.

I am a great sucker for everything Faustian so definitely got a kick from the plot but the book itself is probably more interesting for spawning an entire new sub-genre of horror mythology rather than for its literary merits as such.

Still... a decent enough start into the New Year.

Book # 1 (Other Books)

Gen 1, 2014, 7:10 am

Hi, great review. It creates a new myth, that's good enough in my book :)

Modificato: Gen 1, 2014, 7:16 am

Yep, agree.

In actual fact a number of our most popular modern myths originate from (Gothic) books that - how shall I put it? - aren't all that hot. I for one never managed to finish Frankenstein.

It's always still interesting to see where those myths originally came from and how they changed over the years.

Gen 1, 2014, 7:30 am

That's true, not all of these original books are, let say, literary books, but it's always interesting to read the one which begin all the spin-off.

Gen 1, 2014, 7:36 am

Hope your German New Year was a good one. Here in Munich, we are not happy about the lack of snow.

Gen 1, 2014, 12:39 pm

Yeah, snow would always be nice but at least we had a Christmas market that exceptionally lasted until Monday.

Gen 1, 2014, 3:59 pm

Wonderful review of The Phantom of the Opera! It is sad to think that I have only seen snippets of various movie adaptations and only read part of the story. Not sure how exactly that happened! I hope you are having a lovely time in Germany and Happy New Year!

Gen 1, 2014, 4:07 pm

I know there are a lot of people who adore the musical but I found the girl so totally vapid I doubt I'll ever try to read the book. Was she that wishy-washy in the book?

Gen 4, 2014, 8:41 am

Oh, she was awful in the book. LOL

OK, not really awful but the least developed character. Which is really strange given that she is one of the main focal points the plot centres around.

Gen 5, 2014, 4:10 pm

Both she and Raoul are such drips! (Based on the musical…haven't read the book yet.)

Modificato: Gen 6, 2014, 9:10 am

Patrick Modiano: Im Cafe der verlorenen Jugend

I started the year reading a French book where a variety of different narrators focus on events centring around a strange young girl.

By some amazing co-incidence I am continuing the year with a French book where a variety of different narrators focus on the life of a strange young girl.

But whereas The Phantom of the Opera was an interesting mess of voices, Im Cafe der verlorenen Jugend is a truly wonderful find that I only came across by chance during my visit to Germany.

The German book blurb describes Patrick Modiano as one of France's most important modern writers but judging from his Wikipedia entry, he doesn't appear to be known all that widely in the English speaking world which may explain why his name didn't ring a bell with me at all when I found it prominently displayed in German book stores.

It's always amazing to see what gems (even in translation) one may be missing out on if one only knows one language.

Anyhoo, the book focuses on the life of some Bohemians in 1960s Paris, in particular of that of a mysterious girl who is mainly known as Louki even though that is not her real name. Mainly told in retrospective of often a good many years afterwards we read various observations of her by a regular guest in the cafe she frequents, by a detective hired by her husband to trace her whereabouts, by a lover and also by herself.

All these descriptions somehow illuminate certain aspects of her life and personality while others remain obscure. In the end we still don't have a full idea of what drives her and still stay none the wiser about some of her motivations but this is part of the fun of this short novel that makes you want to get lost in the streets and cafes of an older Paris.

Beautiful, nostalgic and melancholic.... provided you can find a copy of this book in a language you understand. :-)

Book # 2 (Other Books)

Gen 6, 2014, 5:47 am

Good review, Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue, is going on the 2014 BB list.

Gen 6, 2014, 9:11 am

Had thought of you and wondered if this may be interesting. If you do end up reading it, I'd be curious to see what you think of it.

Gen 6, 2014, 10:07 am

It's available at the library :)

Gen 7, 2014, 2:08 am

That review is so fine I am almost tempted to brush up (re-learn) French just to read it, but that would take too many hours of re-learning how to conjugate French verbs - I never was very good at that - so a thumb for the review and, sadly, no book bullet.

Gen 7, 2014, 6:07 pm

You're making me think I should get cracking on my French category! Perhaps not with Phantom though. We read a condensed version in high school French and, judging from your review, that was probably the best way to experience it ;)

Gen 8, 2014, 3:37 am

I hope it doesn't come across that PHANTOM is really bad. It isn't. For all that it spawned, it is quite interesting. It's just that it is a bit of a narrative mess but there are far worse books out there.

Gen 12, 2014, 9:11 pm

Back when I first read Phantom (in high school, probably early 90's or so) I totally loved and adored the book, and gobbled up every film and stage adaptation I could get my hands/eyeballs on. It's sort of a nostalgic thing for me in a way. I know that if I re-read the book now I'd probably have a different view, most likely similar to yours, and I don't think I want to tarnish it just yet, if you know what I mean.

And hey, at least it's a classic that's on a lot of "Best Of" lists, so you can cross it off!

Gen 13, 2014, 4:15 am

Funny you mention that. I actually thought that I could cross it from my 1001 Books list..... until I realised the list I downloaded many moons ago, didn't have it on!

Modificato: Gen 13, 2014, 4:42 am

Lee Child: Die Trying

Right.... so my focus this year was going to be very much on book series.

I had previously read a handful of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels and generally liked them though didn't over-enthusiastically love them. The last one I read last year, 61 Hours, was by far the worst from the lot but it seems to generally be considered a weak entry into the series. As I have most of the other books lying around somewhere (they're a dime a dozen in second hand and charity book shops), I was planning on focussing nearly entirely on Jack Reacher for the month of January.

Die Trying is only the second novel in the series so should come across as fresh and imaginative. Child drops the first person narrator from Killing Floor and now starts writing in third person.

But, by golly, was this a chore!!!!

Far too long with scores of pages being wasted on sweet little nothing: a large chunk of the novel Reacher spends tied up in a van, another chunk has him in captivity in a white supremacist camp. It takes forever until things start moving so in the interim the pages are littered with inane dialogue that seems to suspect that Child gets paid by the line.

Some of the set ups are just plain ridiculous.

At one stage Reacher and the girl who is held captive with him are forced to bury the corpse of a viciously tortured and mutilated FBI undercover agent.

And what do they do afterwards?

Make sweet little lurrrrvvveee on the forest floor.

Yeah right....

Being attacked by savage guard dogs, Reacher just orders them to sit. (That one nearly was so bad, it's good.)

A description of a shooting competition goes on eternally describing all that Reacher has to consider to hit the mark: wind, gravity, velocity etc etc.

Ok, I get it: he is an ace marksman.

Trouble is then that the next time he uses the same gun, we get a slightly shorter encore *again* focusing on all that he needs to consider to hit his target.

Needless to say, my previous lukewarm enthusiasm for the Reacher novels has hit rock bottom and I will certainly not spend the rest of the month in his company. I may approach him again sometime in the more distant future but for the time being I am out-Reachered.

Mind you, wouldn't mind seeing another Jack Reacher movie as I thought the Tom Cruise adaptation with a wonderfully insane Werner Herzog in an acting role was actually quite decent and certainly much better than the last two books I read of this series.

Book # 3 (Series 1: Jack Reacher)

Gen 13, 2014, 7:55 am

Thank you for that detailed description. I had wondered about all the enthusiasm about the Reacher series when the movie came out. Don't think I'll bother now.

Modificato: Gen 13, 2014, 11:04 am

@ 48 -- Haha, thanks for this review; I needed a laugh!

ETA: By which I mean I thought the review was good-funny, not bad-funny. Hope that came across!

Gen 13, 2014, 11:41 am

>50 christina_reads: Haha, and that correction on the other hand made me laugh out loud. LOL

Gen 13, 2014, 1:32 pm

He's an ace marksman in more than one way!

Gen 13, 2014, 5:43 pm

Good to know I am not missing out on anything in the Reacher series!

Gen 13, 2014, 7:34 pm

I'm so glad I read your Jack Reacher review. I watched the movie night before last, and while I thought it was pretty bad, I thought the books might be better and planned to seek them out at the library. I'm thinking I won't waste my time.

Modificato: Gen 13, 2014, 10:53 pm

Haha - enjoyed your review for Die Trying.

Herzog is in the movie?? Definitely watching that!

Gen 14, 2014, 4:04 am

Not only is he in the movie, he is absolutely amazing in it. There is one particular scene where his character makes another character do something (don't want to spoil this), that you're not going to forget easily.

Gen 14, 2014, 6:05 am

Thing about the Reacher series is that it helps to not think while you're reading them. The last few books have shown a marked deterioration -- Reacher was always a guy who didn't like to talk and who had compassion for those in need. In the latest installment, he's gotten chatty and judgmental. It's not an improvement. And yet, I continue to read 'em.

Gen 16, 2014, 12:23 pm

Well, sounds like I can continue ignoring Reacher for a while.

Modificato: Gen 18, 2014, 1:15 pm

Michael Hyatt: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

I am teaching German both locally and in person as well as on Skype and having a decent online presence is one of the most important things to find new students for me.

Once a week I also visit a local networking group and one of the members mentioned this book and wholeheartedly recommended it.

Can't go wrong with a $2.99 Kindle purchase so that was a no-brainer. (Though I notice that the price has since gone up to $12.99).

The author is one of the most respected bloggers out there with a huge following and the book is something of a collection of previous blog posts. It's a quick read and yes, I will get my money's worth back (all $2.99) with some of the information provided but by and large I found this to be more of a superficial overview.

I am far from being a social networking expert but I was just scanning some of the chapters as they provided some very basic overviews on how to register for and use Twitter. OK if you never dealt with Twitter before but nothing much to gain once you are already a user.

Speaking of Twitter: He spends chapter upon chapter on this one but only one chapter on FB which he doesn't like at all. Nothing at all on the likes of Google Plus, Linked-In or more visually alluring networking sites like Pinterest.

I recently had some discussions about this topic and though it is absolutely mandatory to have an online presence for business, I find those absolute Social Networking rules rubbish. For me FB has been incredibly good, Twitter is fun, Linked-In important but not a money maker and Google Plus totally useless. Yet, there are folks out there who swear by Twitter and hate FB. Or adore the ground that Google Plus is walking on etc etc. Yes, one needs to have an online presence but also figure out simply what works for one personally.

As such I would have loved to read more tips about some of the sites I use less frequently or more in-depth information on how to improve visibility for the ones I am already active in but other than Twitter I got little info.

What I did find valuable was some of the info provided on how to improve one's blogging presence so yes, I overall enjoyed this relatively quick and painless read but it's far from being a Must Have unless you're just starting out. No problem spending $2.99 on it but I would have been annoyed about the current $12.99 price tag.

Book # 4 (Other Books)

Gen 18, 2014, 9:50 am

And your name suddenly makes sense to me.

Gen 18, 2014, 1:11 pm

Oh, you mean the LT ID? ;-)

Gen 22, 2014, 11:47 pm

->59 IrishHolger:
I guess each person will praise the platform that worked for them - it depends on your connections on each whether FB, G+, or Twitter is best, I assume.

Gen 23, 2014, 4:50 am

>62 -Eva-: Fully agree, however, if you write a book about PLATFORM building your mission should be to provide ideas for a vast range of those networds. Otherwise you might as well call the book TWITTER 101.

Gen 25, 2014, 6:40 pm

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga

As much as I love comics and for as long as I've been reading them, I still have some really strange and massive gaps in my comic-education. I have read some X-Men here or there years ago and have heard of the Dark Phoenix Saga and knew enough not to be surprised at the final developments, but up till now had never read the actual run (The X-Men #129-138).

This story arc is living proof why all in all I favour the Bronze Age comics to the more modern approach. I'd say these days the last three issues alone would have stretched over an entire year with lots of big drawn out fight scenes and little text (never mind all those alternate covers one would have been enticed to buy).

Instead we have some very tight bit of story telling that manages to focus on various fun plot points ranging from a reincarnation of the Hellfire Club, a certain debonair Jason Wyngarde (No-Prize for figuring out who inspired that one), to the introduction of not one but two very important future members of the X-Men (Kitty Pryde and Dazzler) and finally a little bit of cosmic warfare with Shi'ar, Krees and Skrulls.

Really, can't want for more.

'Nuff said.

Book # 5 (Graphic Novels)

Gen 26, 2014, 1:34 am

>64 IrishHolger: I often want to read comics about superheroes but I wouldn't know where to start. There's too many new universes, sigh :(

Gen 26, 2014, 4:19 am

I know where you're coming from.

Once upon a time you just got started and gradually figured out the back story. The story telling helped support you to get into it pretty much at any time.

But over the last 20 years series were rebooted time and again. Superhero universes were split and merged and abandoned and started anew all for a quick bash of controversy that may generate a few extra $$$s in sales but left the reader stranded and frustrated.

For most of my life I used to read a handful of comics regularly (mainly Marvel) but have gradually given up on it and now don't have a single regular subscription as I just couldn't be bothered anymore and the stories started getting ridiculous. SPIDER-MAN was the last one I said goodbye to after the ONE MORE DAY reboot. (Don't ask.)

Still, the older superhero comics are still fun and timeless. But now I may just occasionally grab a few single comics from a flea market or get collected editions such as this one.

Gen 26, 2014, 4:44 am

>66 IrishHolger: Well from what I understand, I'm safe from silliness if I keep to the old school one :)

Gen 29, 2014, 5:36 am

Heather Gardiner: Die rote Vase (Money on Murder)

I have a very easy rule with regards to my reading:
If the book is published in English, I'll read it in English; if published in German, in German; if published in any other language I'll take whatever translation I can get my hand on.

I had to break my rule for this one.

Heather Gardiner is a long forgotten Australian mystery author who died in a car crash in the 1950s after just having published two novels featuring a very likeable society reporter Gillian Amery. There is very little else known about her. I came across her name as this debut novel here was adapted in Germany in the 1960s after her death as a black and white Krimi: HOTEL DER TOTEN GÄSTE.

I recently watched that film again and truth be told: The movie is pretty dull and one of the worst Edgar Wallace movie rip-offs around but I was intrigued to learn more about the source novel, especially when I discovered that there is so little known about Gardiner these days.

What I discovered so far is the following:

Born Heather Sharp in Nedlands/Perth, Western Australia, she was based in Melbourne with her husband when she published her first novel, Money on Murder (1951). While a student of English at the University of West Australia she had previously published a couple of short stories and articles.

Gardiner considered her writing a hobby and she and her husband sure appear to have been people of independent means as they headed off on a two-year trip to the Himalayas shortly after the publication of her debut novel.

Upon return she spent a small amount of time in London where Hutchinson, her publisher, confirmed acceptance of her second novel, Murder in Haste, just a day before she headed off back to Australia again.

Gardiner’s life and writing career were tragically cut short when she died in 1954 in her late 20s as a result of a car crash. She appears to have had plans for a third novel set in London.

Both her novels were published in German as part of Goldmanns Taschen-Krimi. This series of mystery and crime fiction with their disctinct red covers also published the Edgar Wallace novels.

Gardiner’s books appeared at a relatively early stage of this publishing venture and in quick succession as numbers 78 (Die rote Vase/Money on Murder) and 83 (Wettlauf mit der Vergangenheit/Murder in Haste) respectively.

It was quite simple to get a hold of copies of both of these books. They didn't cost me much more than postage.

Was it worth the effort?



It's a neatly told classic murder mystery set mainly in a hotel during the Melbourne Cup. Society/Fashion reporter Gillian Amery is caught up in the murder of a rich lady who had just recently married the man Amery was engaged to.

Told in first person narration from Amery's point of view this features a very likeable heroine who is neither a super sleuth nor a helpless damsel in distress but someone who needs to make a living while being surrounded by the High Society and who makes mistakes yet is able to learn from them. Though she is central to the mystery, it is not her but a police officer investigating the crime that solves the murder which, let's be honest, is actually somewhat more realistic than in other more famous mystery novels, yet an angle that rarely if ever gets explored.

So, yes, this is indeed a very pleasant discovery for me and I hope that Gardiner can eventually be re-discovered again. I am looking forward to reading the second (and final) book she had written: WETTLAUF MIT DER VERGANGENHEIT/MURDER IN HASTE.

Book # 6 (Series 2: Gillian Amery)

Gen 29, 2014, 6:15 am

Literary archaeology, wow!

Gen 29, 2014, 10:40 am

@ 68 -- That sounds really to see if I can track down a copy!

Gen 30, 2014, 7:26 pm


I recently listened to the six-part BBC adaptation of NEVERWHERE featuring Christopher Lee and - cue excited sighs from the females in the audience - Benedict Cumberbatch courtesy of a free Audible download and decided to re-read this comic book adaptation.

First time I read this I liked the overall idea of the story and art work but must admit some of the plot developments left me scratching my head. There's so much going on and there were times when I was wondering exactly what had happened. Case in point - and without going into spoiler territory - the main meet-up with the Angel Islington started mentioning references to Atlantis that appeared out of nowhere.

Now that I have the more detailed BBC version still running freely in my mind, all of those points made way more sense and I enjoyed this version far more the second time round.

So overall this is a great adaptation.... provided this is not your first exposure to the NEVERWHERE world.

Neil Gaiman is one of the authors I am thinking of getting a bit more into this year.

I have seen some of the movie adaptations and read the first four or five SANDMAN comics (must continue), but when it comes to his novels I am a complete novice.

I guess I could immerse myself more with NEVERWHERE, read the book and then watch the TV show that started it all, but a question to those more familiar with his books: What novel would you recommend I should start with?

Book # 7 (Graphic Novels)

Feb 1, 2014, 10:38 pm

I've been looking at the Neverwhere graphic novel, but I've been wary of the art - is that supposed to be Door on the cover?? Yikes. :)

I'd say start with American Gods for Gaiman, but his best one, in my opinion, is the one he wrote with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens.

Feb 2, 2014, 4:31 pm

Yep, that's Door. :-)

I have read some criticism of the way she is drawn though I can't say it bothers me.

Thanks for the recommendation. AMERICAN GODS is a very likely candidate for my first Gaiman read but GOOD OMENS is a fab suggestion as it just so happens that I am also not familiar with Terry Pratchett and been planning to change that, too.

Then again, maybe I should make both my first Gaiman as well as my first Pratchett outing an undiluted affair.

Feb 8, 2014, 2:40 am

George R.R. Martin: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

Finally tackled the first part of Martin's mammoth work.

For the the first few chapters I was pretty lost amongst all the different characters, especially seeing that lots of them had identical or similar names, yet some of them were known by various other nicknames as well.

I then gradually started seeing the connections and overall plot developments and after a while became hooked.

I am probably still not a total Die Hard Fan and would rate this 4/5 but I am intrigued enough by this sprawling and unpredictable universe that I am planning to venture further into it over the coming months.

Book # 8 (Series 3: A Song of Ice and Fire)

Feb 8, 2014, 12:28 pm

I just started reading A Game of Thrones Thursday morning on the plane. I am only 145 pages in so far and like you, I have now managed to figure out the characters and connections, but still settling into the story. I am not 100% hooked yet but I can see where all the intrigue and skullduggery can make for very interesting reading!

Feb 8, 2014, 2:01 pm

Lori, you had me at skulduggery. :) Actually George R.R. Martin has been on my TBR list for ages...I really should get around to him SOON!

Feb 9, 2014, 12:08 pm

Looks like we're all on a same or similar level. ;-)

Feb 14, 2014, 1:06 am

I watched the first season of the TV-series before I started reading A Game of Thrones, which helped enormously with keeping track of most of the characters. Such a great story!

Feb 14, 2014, 12:44 pm

Does Season 1 of the TV show match with the first book, Season 2 with the second etc?

Feb 14, 2014, 1:21 pm

Yes, for the first two. Season 3 is based on the first half (or so) of book 3.

Feb 15, 2014, 7:00 am

Handy to know. I may actually watch Season 1 before I proceed with the the second book.

Modificato: Feb 15, 2014, 5:15 pm

Fredric Brown: The Lenient Beast

Another excellent crime thriller by Fredric Brown, and one of the few of his books that I physically own and don't just read on my Kindle. Just discovered this by chance in the Oxfam Book Store I am volunteering in.

This has a number of intriguing narrative devices and plot points that are ever more fascinating as they are so unusual for the time this novel was written in:

The 16 chapters are written from the first person point-of-view of five different characters, one of them the eponymous killer who is already revealed Columbo-style in the first chapter. The various narrators offer a variety of points-of-views focusing on religious beliefs and mania, racial prejudices, observations on the other characters, mercy killings, alcoholism and sexual unfaithfulness etc. The nominal hero of the story is a Hispanic cop who in passing quotes Schopenhauer's theory on suicide. Given that this is a Fredric Brown book it comes as little surprise that we even get a throwaway but succinct Alice in Wonderland reference. The final outcome is unconventional, yet satisfactorily logical within the framework of the overall story.

Why Fredric Brown is no longer widely known will forever remain a mystery for me given that lesser crime writers of his time are still widely published and easily available.

Book # 9 (Other Books)

Modificato: Feb 15, 2014, 6:14 pm

Johnny B. Truant: The Universe Doesn't Give a Flying Fuck About You

Short essay and a quick kick up the behind for everyone who is too worried about starting a personal project or daring to live the life they truly want to live for fear of failure. The author has single handedly created the genre of the Lovecraftian self-help book.... which is fine by me as that's probably the only book of its type I could stomach. A wonderful anti-Secret. Oh, and did I mention it is freely available for download all over the place?

Now go and do some epic shit!

Book # 10 (Other Books)

Feb 15, 2014, 6:30 pm

Great reviews! Never heard of Frederic Brown but Columbo-style of story telling is one I enjoy so will add Brown to my author list for my next visit to the used book stores.

Feb 15, 2014, 7:55 pm

Good luck finding his books in the used book stores at a reasonable price. ;-)

The good news is that a lot of his books are now available for very little in e-Format (e.g. Kindle).

If he is known at all any more it is for his Sci Fi but I am a hugggeeee fan of his crime fiction. So far he has never disappointed me and I am looking forward to exploring more from him in the future. The nice thing is that he doesn't stick to a single formula but is experimenting with a variety of different styles and plot devices which makes every book of his I come across a truly new discovery.

For something truly unique (Noir meets Lewis Carroll) try Night of the Jabberwock.

Feb 19, 2014, 4:09 pm

I really love Frederic Browns science fiction, haven't tried his crime. He is almost impossible to get in the UK

Feb 19, 2014, 4:25 pm

I am exactly the opposite: I am far more familiar with his crime stories than his Sci Fi (but have read a few short stories). The massive book of Sci Fi stories that was published a while back has been hanging around my Amazon wishlist for quite some time.

Feb 24, 2014, 9:07 am

Edward B. Hanna: The Whitechapel Horrors

Sherlock Holmes Meets Jack the Ripper.

The book follows the popular Royal Conspiracy Theory from the 1970s and by and large is quite accurate when it comes to the depiction of the Jack the Ripper investigation. As such it is also quite predictable if you are already familiar with those theories.

For some strange reason the book takes a completely different and ultimately unsatisfactory turn at the very end that ignores some of the clues that had for very good reason be deemed important before.

All in all: Readable and worth checking out if you're into either Holmes or Jack the Ripper but not a Must Have.

Book # 11 (Series 4: Sherlock Holmes)

Feb 24, 2014, 11:13 am

-87 that massive book is on my bookshelf and I haven't got round to reading it yet...

Apr 4, 2014, 6:53 am

What's happened? Somehow I have managed not to update LT with a single comment in March.

About time to catch up on my reading progress.

Heather Gardiner: Wettlauf mit der Zeit (Murder in Haste)

Just a little recap....

Heather Gardiner was an Australian mystery writer I had discovered this year. She is virtually unknown these days and died far too young in a car crash in the 1950s. Her books can most easily be got as German translations from second hand book stores. This is her second and final novel also featuring society reporter Gillian Amery.

The novel has an intriguing premise: Amery perchance meets a girl in a coffee shop who had just arrived from England. They have a pleasant chat until the girl suddenly runs off. A few hours later at a society party that Amery is asked to cover for her paper, the girl's body gets discovered and Amery is again involved in a Whodunnit featuring some of her friends and acquaintances.

It really is a crying shame that Gardiner died so suddenly and that her work is practically unknown these days.

She may not be a writing genius but her two books are pleasant distractions.

Common themes and similarities between her two books are:
*They both feature "Murder" in the title (Murder in Haste, Money on Murder)
*Both have some loose sporting connections (Melbourne Cup, Cricket match in Sydney)
*Both of course feature Gillian Amery. She may be the driving force in solving the murder but never the actual detective. That role is left for a member of the official police force.

Book # 12 (Series 2: Gillian Amery)

Modificato: Apr 4, 2014, 7:10 am

Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr Ripley

Hmm, reading two crime/mystery novels from the 1950s by then-emerging female authors in sequence I can't help but be much more enthused about my recent discovery of Heather Gardiner.

By all objective criteria Highsmith's book is probably the "better" one of those but whereas I got a kick out of Gardiner's novels through the thrill of the discovery alone, I was probably already more than familiar enough with the plot of Highsmith's Ripley debut through the excellent adaptation with Matt Damon/Jude Law that I got nothing new out of reading the book.

So that film is now on my ever growing list of films that are actually better than the books.

Book # 13 (Series 5: Tom Ripley)

Apr 4, 2014, 7:29 am

Michael Crichton: Zero Cool

Before he struck it rich with novels, movies and TV series under his real name, Michael Crichton had published a range of thrillers under the nom-de-plume John Lange. The original editions of those are now commanding impressive sums on the second hand market, so it is good to see that these are now being reprinted by Hard Case Crime.

Love the cover of ZERO COOL! Look closely and you will see that the book the girl is reading is actually another John Lange reprint (GRAVE DESCEND).

This is a very fast and very silly read...... but enjoyable if you are able to stomach some of the 1960s pulp fiction head scratch moments that come with the terrain such as whenthe hero does not spot that his romantic partner was replaced by a cross dressing henchman of one of the book's major king pins of Crime.

It's a globe-trotting piece of mindless fun. So mindless that Crichton penned a new prologue and epilogue for this edition that has the hero (Dr Ross - any relation to his ER character?) narrate this adventure to his grandson who - young as he may be - remains in utter disbelief over the exploits. Nice touch. :-)

Book # 14

Apr 4, 2014, 7:44 am

Robert Bloch: The Living Demons

Another great cover this time making a great collage out of cover, back cover and spine combined.

Short story collection by the author of PSYCHO.

I always like reading Bloch but never seem to be able to replicate the sense of veneration that he receives from other sides simply because I find the surprise-horror-short-story-with-a-twist format generally very predictable.

Still, these are fun reads and are often quite self reverential. In one story e.g. a horror loving girl gets medical treatment and all of a sudden faces herself living in a world where all the monsters are real and no longer are known as fictional characters resulting in the curious fact that not even the author of, ahem, PSYCHO is known any longer.

Book # 15

Apr 4, 2014, 3:10 pm

>90 IrishHolger: Argh, you are making me really want to read that series, but I can't find the books in English anywhere, and my German is nowhere near good enough to attempt a read in that language!

Modificato: Apr 9, 2014, 12:29 am

>92 IrishHolger:
That spoiler makes me want to read the book!!!

Apr 23, 2014, 5:48 am

Essential Punisher, Volume 4

Currently reading Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore and in between this lengthier book, delving into some comics.

Discovered a discount store nearby that sells graphic novels at a reduced rate of €3.99. This Essential book e.g. normally costs four or five times the amount. So I couldn't really go wrong with it.

I am familiar with the Punisher though I have never really followed him in depth. This collection (originally printed in colour but reprinted here in black and white) collects a series of about 20 different Punisher comics from the late 80s that see him with his sidekick Micro facing off Nazis, Muslim Terrorists, drug pushers, serial killers etc.

The last seven comics in this collection depict an epic saga that have him working together with the Kingpin, getting sent to prison, being viciously beaten and mutilated and ending up on the chopping block being operated on by a plastic surgeon hooker on Heroin... with surprising results.

Man, this guy is some tough SOB! Would love to see him in a crossover with Mike Hammer, another arsehole hero type who represents everything I despise, yet who is still unputdownable.

Better venture off to see if I can find more of these comics for such a low price....

Book # 16 (Graphic Novels)

Mag 5, 2014, 9:09 am

Samurai Executioner, Volume 1

First part of the Samurai Executioner Manga, apparently a spin-off from the Lone Wolf & Cub saga.

Main character here is actually a sword tester but as the swords tended to be tested on prisoners I guess describing him as an Executioner does the trick indeed.

In contrast to many other Manga there is no major overarching storyline to follow, just various short stories that can be read independently. They're all quick reads (lots of images, little text) but often raise quite a punch with various bits of unpleasantries that you wouldn't really expect in Western comics but that seem quite de rigueur with Japanese artists.

Book # 17 (Graphic Novels)

Mag 6, 2014, 10:23 am

Some of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga were donated to this library a few years ago. Not being familiar with the series, a read them. While I enjoyed them, I felt the graphic rape scenes were a little too much for my clients so I regretfully declined them. I also liked their petit size.

Modificato: Mag 11, 2014, 4:38 pm

Finished off three books over the last week. Reviews in somewhat mixed order.

John Russo: Night of the Living Dead

Book adaptation of the classic horror film by one of its two creators.

You know the film, you know the book.

One of the few additions to this novel is in the depiction of the posse that roams the land to shoot the zombies (or ghouls as they are still called here).

The famous downbeat surprise ending of the movie is left intact (though there is a small but somewhat crucial change about Ben's physical state that waters that ending down a bit) but we get more of a back story into the individuals that make up that posse. Whereas in the film they come across as anonymous blood-lusting rednecks enjoying a good hunt, here in the book they are closer to concerned citizens who are genuinely interested in assisting their endangered neighbours.

Book # 18

Modificato: Mag 12, 2014, 6:12 am

Review from my blog that also has relevant links posted that I just can't be bothered to enter here.

Benny Lewis: Fluent in 3 Months

Benny Lewis is a self-proclaimed failed language learner…. yet is now also a polyglot, having mastered a dozen or more languages in varying degrees.

It wasn’t, however, until his 20s that he figured out how to approach language learning. He failed miserably acquiring languages for the Irish leaving cert and couldn’t speak Spanish even after spending six months in the country.

It’s only when he changed his outlook towards learning Spanish that he made any progress.

He now runs the language hacking website and is a digital nomad whose entire worldly possessions fit into a 50lb bag.

He is one of the few genuine Irish Internet success stories and one of the only Irish guys (if not THE only one) to be invited to a TedX Talk.

He has now consolidated his approach to language learning in a new book published by Collins, also boldly called Fluent in 3 Months and is currently doing an extensive book tour through the UK, Ireland and the US (as well as some other parts of the world) and I took this opportunity to attend the event in Waterstones in Cork where he first gave a little 15-minute presentation, then answered questions from the audience before moving on to the signing.

So…. Fluent in 3 months?

Seems like quite a promise, especially for people who may have struggled with languages before.

Is he selling snake oil?


But the title does bear some explaining.

For starters he defines “fluency” as being able to express yourself in a social setting in a flowing style of talking without too many hesitations. In other words somewhere between B1 and B2 is where he would be aiming for.

He acknowledges that there are various other ideas of what constitutes fluency in a language and for the later stages C1/C2 he uses the term “mastery”.

On his site he had once mentioned that the 3 months part of his domain name is not a promise but a goal or a challenge and he is very keen on setting yourself precise targets and mini-missions and if 3 months may prove too short for your goals, then 4 months or 6 months could also do (or indeed just a week or two for smaller challenges).

In the book he emphasises that the 3-month goal is not achievable with just an hour per week here or there but does require full-time studying during that time frame (or at least two hours per day).

So with a minimum of 180 hours (but up to 720 hours if done “full time” properly), it’s safe to say that reaching levels around A2/B1 or slightly higher is indeed within the realm of the possible.

Benny quickly ditches a number of language learning myths. It has e.g. never been scientifically proven that children are indeed better geared towards language learning and there is at least one study that shows that adults are actually far better wired towards acquiring new languages. If kids have one advantage then it is the fact that they are surrounded by better “teachers”, i.e. parents who constantly encourage them and provide non-stop feedback. In other words: if there is a possible advantage, it is a question of nurture over nature.

His main point about acquiring new languages is to speak from Day 1. There really has never been a better time to learn a new language. If you don’t know anyone in your neighborhood who can help you speak, learn and communicate, then there are now scores of opportunities that can hook you up with language exchange partners and tutors online.

He keeps traditional academic approaches focusing on grammar to a later stage in his studies and also doesn’t bother much with reading or listening and film watching exercises at the early stages.

This is one of the few points where I may ever so slightly disagree with him. I love to surround myself with various media and foreign language input right from the start and am somewhat dubious whether it really is a good idea to keep everything grammar related to a later stage when it is more difficult to unlearn a number of bad habits but, hey, who am I do argue with someone who has clearly been more successful than me in acquiring a large number of languages? Plus, Benny openly admits that there is not one sure fire way in this regard and the important thing is just to set yourself precise missions and then find your own path to glory and see what methods work for you and which don’t.

All in all this is a fun and encouraging book, primarily aimed at people who have so far struggled with learning languages. Those who have already mastered one or more may not get all that much more out of it but even then one does find occasional nuggets: One suggestion he has for the mastery stages of language learning when a lot of the basics are already in your blood is not to find a tutor but a speech therapist or voice coach to help with the proper enunciation.

The book is kind of an offline summary of his online ideas and will likely introduce him to a new audience that may not yet be all that familiar with him. If you have already followed his website extensively, then a lot will of course already sound familiar.

Still, it’s great to have all his tips and tricks combined in one book.

Book # 19

Mag 12, 2014, 4:28 am

Fluent in 3 Months sounds very interesting! Will have to check out the book and the website. Thanks for the review!

Modificato: Mag 31, 2014, 9:12 pm

Immersion learning in all honor, but I'm with you, I would like some structure and grammar from the beginning. I'm definitely checking out that site, though - don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

Modificato: Giu 7, 2014, 3:29 pm

Elmore Leonard: Get Shorty

Elmore Leonard is one of those guys that I know I should have read but never got around to. I remember watching the movie adaptation way back when and really liking it a lot. Even though I enjoyed the book, I felt all the time that a book was probably not the right medium for this Hollywood satire. So chalk this down as one of the examples where the film is indeed better than the book.

Book # 20 (Series 6: Chili Palmer)

Modificato: Ago 3, 2014, 4:49 am

Jorgen Hartogs: Martello Towers in Cork Harbour

A buddy of mine and local historian had started a series of local history books and this is his first publication, a short overview over the Martello Towers in Cork Harbour. These structures were built in defence against a possible Napoleonic invasion that never materialised. It's a quick half an hour read I got some good info out of it for when I occasionally guide cruise tourists around the area.

Book # 21 (Other)

Giu 10, 2014, 4:20 pm

I'm always intrigued by fortifications, particularly those that were never used. I grew up near Portsmouth, which has Roman forts, Norman forts, Tudor forts, sea forts and back-to-front forts (they're another Napoleonic deterrent - designed to defend the harbour from a landward invasion, they appear to be facing the wrong way). Martello towers are some of the most intriguing, if only because there are so many of them, but they are so self-contained and mysterious. I never realised there were any in Ireland though (my ignorance again). I like the subtitle, taking into account the folklore that builds up around fortifications as well as the concrete history. When (eventually) we get round to our Irish holiday, I will add that to the list.

Giu 12, 2014, 6:20 pm

Mind you, there isn't actually much about the folklore about those towers in that booklet... despite the subtitle. :-(

His next book (a bigger read) is also about fortifications, this time around the Owenabue River near Cork.

Giu 12, 2014, 6:21 pm

As for Martello Towers in Ireland. Don't forget there is a very famous one near Dublin that was immortalised as Buck Mulligan's residence in ULYSSES and that is now part of the James Joyce centre.

Giu 20, 2014, 4:48 pm

Michael Töteberg: Fritz Lang

Given his importance for the history of cinema, I am always surprised how few books have ever been written about Fritz Lang.

This is a short German language overview over his life and work and given the constraints of this particular series of books, this is quite a decent publication but I would have liked to have seen more in depth reviews and analysis of all his films.

Book # 22 (Other)

Lug 30, 2014, 4:33 pm

George R.R. Martin: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)

Don't know how you guys manage to read all those massive amounts of often lengthy books. Even in my best reading periods I am nowhere remotely near the speed of some of you. And this right now is nothing close to my best reading period. I managed just one book so far this month and am now a bit behind in my annual reading goals.

I had no idea what expect when I read Game of Thrones, the first book in the series, a few months ago and was initially overwhelmed by the sheer amount of character and plot threads but ultimately fascinated by the richness of the intrigues.

As much as I liked the book, I would not have said then that I had truly loved it. It was something of a slow burner and only over the following weeks and months did I notice how much I kept thinking back about that reading experience and often caught myself comparing events in "real"life with that book.

I started finally to also watch the TV show but in contrast to most everyone else it really didn't get me hooked as much as the book did. I am slowly, very slowly, making my way through Season 1 but in IMHO it really is only a Reader's Digest version of the book, missing most everything that made the book such an experience.

Time though to approach A Clash of Kings. This time I knew what to expect. Really enjoyed progressing in the saga but - yet again! - I can't say I would list it as one of my favourite books but - yet again! - now that I finished it I notice how much I keep rethinking the different levels of threat and intrigue.

They sure are a strange beast, those Songs of Fire and Ice books.....

Book # 23 (Series 3: A Song of Ice and Fire)

Lug 30, 2014, 5:40 pm

Haruki Murakami: Kafka am Strand

I read this book way back in May but somehow forgot to do a little write-up.

Murakami is one of those authors that I feel I should like but somehow can't quite warm up to completely. I have previously only read Norwegian Wood but be damned if I can recall much about it.

I really love Magic Realism. The Master and Margarita e.g. is one of my favourite books. It works on so many different levels but all the different, often bizarre and weird, threads are ultimately joined together and are pieces in a fascinating literary jigsaw puzzle.

Kafka on the Shore sure has a wealth of strange moments: a man speaking with cats following a possible UFO visit a few decades back; a teenager running away from home and possibly being involved in his father's murder (or was it the cats?) and maybe meeting his birth mother and making love to his own sister; visits to a magical forest; Colonel Sanders and a mysterious stone; fishes raining down from the sky; a hermaphrodite librarian.....

Yet none of this feels like this is part of a coherent whole. I certainly don't need every possible plot thread explained ad infinitum but I do need to get a feel that the author actually had a plan and didn't just add one weird scene after the next just for the hell of it.

This may sound marsh as I did overall enjoy the book. I just don't think it's a great book, just a reasonably good, albeit not a well thought out one.

Book # 24 (Other)

Lug 31, 2014, 4:00 pm

Good to know your comparison of the Game of Thrones book versus the HBO series. I haven't watched the series and have been sort of leery about doing so. I think I will stick with the books for now - I have only read the first book in the series so far - and maybe after I finish all of the books, I may go back and watch the series.

Ago 1, 2014, 12:27 pm

The best thing about the TV show is that it keeps me on my reading track given the time I take between the books. Theon had somehow not been much on my radar. He has of course a much more prominent part in the second book but the TV series helped remind me of his role in Book 1.

Ago 2, 2014, 1:16 am

>109 IrishHolger:
They are strangely addicting, aren't they. I am a bit mad when it comes to mowing through series at high speed, but you can easily pace yourself with these ones since Mr. Martin isn't done writing the series. :)

Ago 2, 2014, 7:30 am

Yeah, I need to get a good balance between wanting to progress in them and having too much of a gap between the last as of yet unwritten books as I sure as hell am not going to re-read those buggers just to remember what they were about.

Modificato: Ago 2, 2014, 3:24 pm

Franziska Franke: Sherlock Holmes und die Katakomben von Paris

Third book in a series of German Holmes pastiches tracking his adventures during his post-Reichenbach hiatus and in the disguise of a Norwegian named Sigerson.

Whereas the first two books played in Italy, this one is set in Southern France and Paris.

Holmes', pardon: Sigerson's, sidekick is again fellow expat David Tristram who is a poor man's Watson and seems to primarily think about where his next meal will be coming from. He is also shown to teach himself a passable knowledge of French within the space of just a few days which is really stretching it a bit.

An offer to purchase one of his ancestor's diaries (the Vernet family of painters) leads to a series of murders and a century's old treasure culminating in the catacombs of Paris.

I needed a quick and non-demanding read just to catch up on my general reading and that's exactly what this book is, nothing more, nothing less. It certainly is nowhere near on a par with the original Canon but then again what is?

An OK read, good but not great.

Book # 25 (Series 4: Sherlock Holmes)

Ago 3, 2014, 4:51 am

Jorgen Hartogs: Defensive Structures on the Owenabue River

The second in a series of local history books by a Belgian buddy of mine. The Owenabue River is a small local river nearby with a couple of interesting old structures (now mainly ruins) along its run.

Book # 26 (Other)

Ago 10, 2014, 8:57 am

Whenever it comes to any kind of creative project I seem to have an inate ability to do bits and pieces but never ever to bring a larger project to fruition.

Rather than actually advancing any of these projects a step further I decided to procrastinate and read two books by novelists who for just this one publication turned Creativity Agony Aunt.

Steven Pressfield: The War of Art

Initially aimed at writers but this has allegedly also become a Must Read for all different kinds of artists.

The first half of the book is quite readable with various quotable chunks such as Pressfield's remark that Hitler may have found it easier to start WW2 than to pursue his artistic career.

As readable as that part is, it is very lightweight on advice. His main - hell, his only! - points that he repeats endlessly are:

The artist faces "resistance" on all fronts.
To battle resistance one must become a "professional", not so much as in necessarily charging money but as in showing up every day regardless just like you would in a real job.

Following that he goes into a metaphysical rant about "divine" art, angels, muses, demons etc etc. This semi-religious hyperbole lost me completely and offered no practical advice whatsoever.

Off again then to:

Walter Mosley: This Year You Write Your Novel

Again, first chapter is a hugely readable call to arms and just like Pressfield emphasises the need to show up every day.

The next chapters are nothing more but basic, *very* basic!, overviews over aspects of the novel such as plot and story, narrative points-of-view etc.

Nothing I didn't already know from school.

So what I did learn from these books?

I need to show up every day.

Maybe it is so basic. I certainly don't with anything which could indeed be the main source of all my problems.

Other than that? Nothing else really.

I don't think I missed anything major after all both of these books are *very* short reads. I certainly wouldn't win speed reading records, yet managed to finish both these books together in one single 3-hour reading sprint one night.

Book # 27, 28 (Other)

Modificato: Ago 11, 2014, 11:48 am

Fjodor Dostoevskij: Traum eines lächerlichen Menschen

German translation of one of Dostoveskij's later works and unusual for him a short story (The Dream of a Ridiculous Man).

A man who is clearly aware of his ridiculousness (madness?) in front of society decides to kill himself but falls asleep and dreams of his suicide and subsequent visit to a paradise-like Earth that he accidentally corrupts (by a simple lie or some other way he can't recall). Once woken up he has a new fervor for life.

Clearly written after Dostoevskij's conversion, this story has heavy religious overtones though none of that feel-goody preachiness that comes with the territory these days but a seriously disturbed kind of religious mania that at some stage had the main character begging to be crucified in punishment for his perceived sins.

This book comes with a second later short story: Bobok.

The narrator here is an unsuccessful writer who makes his living by writing ad copies, catalogue translations and cheap erotic literature. He is cynical about his fellow human beings and society has already deemed him crazy but during a visit to a funeral overhears conversations of the dead people buried there. It seems like mundane squabbling goes on in the afterlife and the young may possibly also have learnt something about himself.

It's been ages since I last read Dostoevskij (or Russian Literature in general) but now feel like I need to pursue this venue closer.

Book # 29 (Other)

Modificato: Ago 24, 2014, 7:08 pm

Jo Nesbo: The Snowman

The Harry Hole books were published in a certain order, then translated into English in another order and now gradually read by me in yet another order.

I like the fact that I don't need to religiously stick to a certain reading pattern and can pick the books up where I want and whenever I come across them. So far they have all - well, all two that I know - been self contained stories yet with tantalising hints as to what has come before or may come afterwards.

The Snowman as a mystery novel is not the greatest work. The moment the killer was introduced I knew straightaway who it was. And a couple of other surprise character developments were also quite apparent from an early point on, yet none of that diminished my reading pleasure.

I really dig Harry Hole as a character as well as all the supporting cast around him. Even with an obvious solution, the book lost none of its readability and has me looking forward to the next one (whichever one it may be) for my reading list.

Book # 30 (Series 7: Harry Hole)

Ago 24, 2014, 7:01 pm

Ooh, I have to get back to that series soon. So many series....

Ago 24, 2014, 7:08 pm

Ha, isn't there just. ;-)

Ago 25, 2014, 8:56 am

Yeah, one can't help but like Harry Hole.

Modificato: Ott 7, 2014, 1:13 pm

>122 RidgewayGirl: Speaking of which.....

Jo Nesbo: Nemesis

In between The Redbreast and The Devil's Star this is the second in a loose trilogy within the Harry Hole series of crime books. So even though you can generally dip in and out of these books in any order - in actual fact: they were of course published totally out of order in their English translations - with these three books it probably pays off to read them in sequence even though Nemesis doesn't really much advance The Redbreast's plot along.

There are in actual fact three different plot strands in this book that aren't really all that much related and one often gets the feeling that Nesbo would have been better off slimming it down a bit.

1. Hole is asked to investigate a series of mysterious bank robberies/murders.
2. After meeting up with an old flame, he is left without memory and she is found dead and possibly murdered by him. Hole needs to secretly investigate her death, even though he has an alcohol induced blackout and needs to try not to implicate himself with her death.
3. The murder of one of Hole's colleague's from the previous novel is taken a few baby steps closer to a solution.

Yes, I was entertained and really like the characters but I am getting a feeling that this is a book of wasted opportunities. I am a major sucker for "innocent suspects trying desperately to prove their innocence"-type of crime thrillers and much is made of that plot thread on the book blurb but in the actual novel no-one even remotely suspects Hole until the halfway point and even then that suspicion is quickly drowned out which is a shame as it robs us of some major possibilities for suspense.

Of the three different story lines, only one really comes up with a satisfying surprise solution. The killer of Hole's colleague is simply identified to the reader (but not to Hole) by the narrator in one of the chapters which still leaves the third book in the series for a follow-up but we are left with a somewhat hollow feeling over the slapdash reveal.

The true culprit of the bank robberies is painfully obvious right from an early point on, especially as there is a constant theme of sibling rivalry in this book.

Only the murder of Hole's old flame really delivers fully but even then we have the aforementioned wasted opportunity with Hole not really being in any fear of discovery.

So, in short: I like the series but this was a little bit too much for too little. The depiction of the characters is ultimately more satisfying than the actual investigations.

Will continue with the series but take a little breather from it for the time being.

Book # 31 (Series 7: Harry Hole)

Ott 7, 2014, 1:46 pm

Savage Sword of Conan, Volume 5

Another year, another Savage Sword of Conan collection to read. All very same old, same old. This collects the original Savage Sword of Conans from 49-60 and a good number of those deal with a middle-aged Conan on the brink of Kinghood. Must admit I always preferred the younger Conan, the lonesome thief, character and found it a bit irritating that a 40+ year old Conan in a position of power is drawn pretty much the same way as the 20 year younger incarnation.

Not bad but it's starting to get a bit stale and repetitive.

Book # 32 (Graphic Novels)

Modificato: Ott 7, 2014, 6:16 pm

Sax Rohmer: The Island of Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu. Voodoo. Zombies. Snapping Fingers Death. Invisible assailants. Floating green hands. A headquarter located in an extinct volcano. Haunting Asian beauties. Anti-gravitational flying devices. Black-outs in wartime London.

Seriously, what's not to like?

Book # 33 (Series 8: Fu Manchu)

Modificato: Ott 18, 2014, 7:06 am

Anthony Burgess: Re-Joyce

First book I have ever read by Anthony Burgess and that mainly because it was recommended to me as a good overview over James Joyce's oeuvre.

This is the American version of the book and the one that is currently available. It was previously published as HERE COMES EVERYBODY though that version is now out of print.

The American title seems to have inspired Frank Delaney when naming his excellent weekly podcast on Ulysses REJOYCE. The original title is taken from Finnegans Wake and an indication of the vast scope of material that Joyce included in his books.

Re-Joyce runs through all of Joyce's published works and analyses the themes in it. Needless to say that the main focus in its second half are on his two allegedly unreadable novels.

Having finished Ulysses successfully a few years ago (and now re-reading it again slowly with the help of Delaney's podcast), I do still struggle majorly with Finnegans Wake but his chapters on it will now ensure that I'll understand at least 5% of it. Quite a step up from the 1% I had previously aimed for though at the current speed it will still be 2020 before I have it finished.

I had to laugh out loud when I read that Burgess believes that even after reading that book 20 times one will still not be able to fully grasp all its complexities. 20 times?!? Seriously, is there anyone in the world right now who can lay claim to even come close to that number?

Anyway, well worth a read for anyone interested in tackling Joyce.

Book # 34 (Other)

Ott 18, 2014, 6:58 am

Bryan Senn: The Most Dangerous Cinema

Sometimes you come across a book and the idea behind it is so simple that you're convinced there must have been dozens of similar ones before it but - no, nay, never - it is indeed the first of its kind.

The Most Dangerous Cinema is one such example. It gives a run-down of all the movies and TV episodes that adapted or were "inspired" by Richard Connell's short story The Most Dangerous Game about a Big Game Hunter using humans as targets.

That concept has been used so many times since the first adaptation from 1932, however, my buddy Bryan Senn is the first to have tackled that sub-genre in book form.

He mainly focuses in-depth on films where hunting humans is done for sport but in subsequent chapters (and somewhat shorter reviews) also looks at movies with a different human hunting motivation (THE NAKED PREY), hunting humans as a game show (RUNNING MAN) or Aliens hunting humans (PREDATOR) as well as a range of other similar concepts and individual episodes of TV shows (e.g. Star Trek's THE SQUIRE OF GOTHOS).

The controversial German TV movie MILLIONENSPIEL from the 1960s is somehow overlooked but all in all this appears to be an otherwise complete overview over a very entertaining sub-genre that has recently become popular again with THE HUNGER GAMES.

I was also able to assist Bryan with the writing in a small capacity by providing a review for French flick COPLAN SAUVE SA PEAU, a film that had not become available for him.

Book # 35 (Other)

Modificato: Ott 24, 2014, 5:16 am

Ken Bruen: Priest

A good while back someone here on LT recommended Ken Bruen as a Noir author to me. Hadn't heard about him before so delighted to put him on my To Read pile.

I subsequently learned two things:

1) Ken Bruen is Irish and writes crime fiction set in Galway. Ireland has been my adopted home for the best part of two decades so I was curious but also reminiscent that there is a lot of things that Ireland does well, but that crime fiction (and especially Noir) isn't exactly high up on that list.

2) I accidentally stumbled upon a few minutes of an Irish based TV series with Iain Glen that had me roaring with laughter as to its attempts to make Ireland look Noirish and have a badly accented Glen taken seriously as a hardboiled investigator. Couldn't take this baloney for very long and switched it off but not before finding out that this was the Jack Taylor series based on novels by.... Ken Bruen. Ooops...

Having my initial enthusiasm for this author already somewhat dampened I still purchased one of his books when I needed to get a book voucher properly added up. (You know, when all the books you want are either quite a bit less or way more than the voucher was worth so you just need to find a book that tallies up even if you're not that hot about it?)

So.... What can I say about Priest now that I have finally read it?

Well, a masterwork it sure ain't!

In actual fact Bruen comes across as the poster child for everything that is wrong with modern crime fiction bestsellers, as if he had attended a writer's class and followed all the recommendations to the letter.

His sentences are short, very short, very often just two words, four at the most.

As if he felt that was still too long he fills the pages with one word lines of lists that are meant to give you a better description of a thing but are just

He also has this really maddening habit to summarise Taylor's thoughts in one line just to have him speak those out verbatim in the next, e.g.

I owed him, said,
'I owe you'

or just a page later

I didn't understand, said,
'I don't understand'

Though the book has around 350 pages, it feels much shorter. The eyes just glance over the content but are missing nothing substantial.

Bruen also does what a lot of other current writers these days do: constantly quote songs, refer to music, books, current events etc. It's probably meant to set the events in a particular time period but this has become such a cliche and Bruen takes it to the extremes. Seriously, the only time the likes of Chandler, Spillane or Woolrich quoted papers it was probably in reference to a horse race..... and that was likely made up.

Bruen, however, spends pages writing about Taylor's musical tastes. And just like all the other authors who do likewise the music he refers to once was cutting edge but now is dad music. Oooh, Taylor listens to Johnny Cash's "Hurt" but also knows this is a Nine Inch Nail song. He constantly seems to think he is somehow edgy in his taste, when in actual fact he is really just mainstream.

Priest is of course a regional crime novel, meaning that it was written and is set outside the standard crime capitals (London, Paris, New York etc). Did you ever notice how those traditional crime settings if written by local writers never over emphasise the touristy locations but instead focus on the side streets and areas where real people live?

Yet, those regional crime stories *always* read as if they were sponsored by a local tourist board and this is no exception: I lost count how many times Taylor was crossing or resting on Eyre Square or visited the Cathedral, discussed the Spanish Arch or any other numbers of blatantly obvious places for a novel set in Galway.

Yet, he insists on calling the police "The Guards". We may occasionally say that but more often than not we talk about "Garda" or "Gardai". Even when we say "guards" we probably envision it more spelt in a pseudo-irish way as "gards". It took me a while to figure out that he referred to the Irish police force when he used the English term "Guards" and not to some changing of the guards.

The whole book is all so stage Oirish in a modern way but stage Oirish nonetheless.

There's not an ounce of originality in it. Actually there's very little crime in it either despite the fact that there are not just one or two but three issues Taylor is asked to investigate. Yet, there is little to investigate. Taylor mainly walks around sulking and talking music and in the end only one of the cases is somewhat solved, no thanks to Taylor though as the perpetrators of the crime more or less confessed out of the blue. The other two cases require equally little actual investigation and are more or less left hanging probably for the follow up book... that I have no intention of ever reading.

This book will go on the small pile of To Be Donated books that I can easily part with without the slightest bit of regret.

Only thing I got out of it is a recommendation for some proper Noir books by David Goodis, an author who sounds fascinating. After all Taylor spent nearly a chapter rambling about him.

Case closed...

Book # 36 (Series 9: Jack Taylor)

Ott 23, 2014, 12:05 pm

I'm probably the guilty party. Sorry!

Not sure that I would've recommended starting with the 5th book in the series though. Even though each is a stand-alone novel you still miss out on the initial setting up and development of the characters. Obviously this is not an author for you in either style or content but having read all 10 in the series so far I'll still be picking up the next one when it arrives.

Ott 23, 2014, 12:44 pm

Haha, maybe it was you, maybe it wasn't. I can honestly not remember. Don't even know what thread it was on. LOL

Yeah, I know it's the 5th book though I can't say I felt that I was missing a lot. After I finished Priest I also had a look at the reviews of some of his earlier books and there are quite a number of people who seem to have similar issues with his writing style. That's something that seems to carry over between all the different books. In actual fact some of the reviews I read for The Guards read similar to what I posted about this one here so the book appears to be representative for the series as a whole.

Ah well, can't win'em all. ;-)

Ott 23, 2014, 12:55 pm

>129 AHS-Wolfy:

Hey, AHS-Wolfy, just digged deep in all the old messages and the recommendation did indeed come from you. ;-)

You also mentioned to check out David Goodis in that same message though you hadn't read him yet at the time.

Have you read Goodis in the meantime? I am getting really curious about him now.

Ott 23, 2014, 1:28 pm

Nope, nothing from Goodis so far. Never seen anything in the used bookshops where I pick up most of my acquisitions these days. May have to use him as a pick for when my Thingaversary comes around in January.

Ott 23, 2014, 2:12 pm

Taylor had that problem, too. ;-)

I spotted Night Squad available for Kindle for just $0.99. I may have a look at that some time.

Ott 23, 2014, 5:58 pm

Hm, I am now eyeing my mum's copy of The Guards with some trepidation... but I'd intended to read it on the bus so maybe it will work as an undemanding commuter read.

On a related note, I visited Galway in May as part of a trip to Ireland and it was lovely. We did the obligatory Cliffs of Moher trip, which was fantastic (possibly my favourite place, but so hard to choose a favourite!). I would love to go back sometime and see Connemara and some of the other sights in that area.

Ott 24, 2014, 5:13 am

Looking forward to hearing what you think of The Guards.

Galway/Cliffs of Moher are fantastic locations. Connemara is of course just around the corner. You really can't go wrong with any place along the West Coast. In actual fact just this year they opened up the Wild Atlantic Way which is the longest continuously drive-able coastal road in the world.

My favourite spot: Allihies on the Beara Peninsula. At least as beautiful as the Ring of Kerry or Dingle but if anything even more remote.

Ott 25, 2014, 7:05 pm

>131 IrishHolger:
Whew, I was going to share in the blame for that, but I guess I won't have to now. :)

Ott 26, 2014, 5:57 pm

Haha, no, you're officially off the hook. ;-)

Ott 30, 2014, 11:09 am

Sax Rohmer: Re-Enter Fu Manchu

One of the interesting aspects about the Fu Manchu series is that though Holmes always has his Watson by his side, Nayland Smith's sidekicks vary. His most famous is Dr Petrie and they easily come across as a classic Holmes/Watson team. Throughout the books, however, Petrie at times only comes up as a supporting player or vanishes altogether. As such the reader is being confronted with an array of new sidekicks.

Re-Enter Fu Manchu introduces Brian Merrick, the son of an American Senator who appears to get hired by Smith to support him in a secret mission in Egypt but soon suspects that all may not as it seems as he gets far too much remuneration for very little work.

It easily gets forgotten that though mainly identified as a villain of the earliest part of the 20th century, the classic novels were written until the late 1950s. This book is the second last in the series and was written in 1957 and as such has more modern self-dependent female characters, mentions a divided Germany, has Fu Manchu being involved with post-war Soviet Russia and features defences against atomic warfare.

A good read as always. I still have the last part of the series lying around and for next year already plan to fill all the remaining gaps in my collection. Strangely enough I have yet to read the very first ones... though I am somewhat familiar with their plots due to radio and film adaptations.

Book # 37 (Series 8: Fu Manchu)

Ott 30, 2014, 2:13 pm

Heart of the Atom

Collection of all the comics that transport the Hulk into a sub-atomic fantasy world where he falls in love with green-skinned queen Jarella, their sojourn into our world and ultimately tragic return to her home land.

The stories were written over quite a number of years in the 70s and the initial concept is from Harlan Ellison who was later on apparently disappointed what happened to his vision. He does seem to be forevermore disappointed with anything that is not written by him and truth be told, the weakest story is quite probably the first, his own.

Overall readable though I will never be able to turn into a huge Hulk fan.

Book # 38 (Graphic Novels)

Nov 15, 2014, 2:03 pm

Mason Currey: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

I guess one shouldn't criticise a book for doing exactly what it says on the cover but I challenge everyone to try and read this in one go without going completely bonkers.

Read in short intervals here and there this is somewhat fascinating but as a whole it is immensely repetitive.

The book originated from a series of blog posts and lists the daily rituals of various artists and writers. Each person gets usually a few short pages and it generally reads like:

"Artists got up at whatever a.m., had coffee and breakfast consisting of X, Y and Z. He or she then proceeded to write or paint for 4 hours before settling down for a cigarette/some more coffee/lunch. The afternoon was spent with lengthy walks/answering incoming letters/more writing/a few strong gin and tonics until the evening when s/he sat down with his significant other/went for a few pints/went to bed early/continued working."

Etc etc....

There is little else about the individual artists, their overall importance or what made them special as artists so if you don't know them, good luck. There also is no overlying analysis about trends or commonalities (but booze, drugs and lots of coffee seem to play an important role). Some artists worked a lot of hours, others didn't, some had a steady job, others not so much.

As for the order of the entries? I am sure there is some method behind it but I couldn't figure it out. It seems to be all over the place: They are neither sorted alphabetically, nor chronologically, nor according to preferred medium in which they operated.

Book # 39 (Other)

Nov 15, 2014, 2:28 pm

Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Der Gefangene des Himmels

This is the German translation of THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, the third installment in the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books"-Saga.

Love those books and find it fascinating that though I have read them chronologically up till now you could dip into them in pretty much any order. (I have a feeling though that Book 4 will require prior knowledge of this entry for the most enjoyment.)

All three books have characters that are sometimes more, sometimes less important in the relevant entries and their back stories get unravelled throughout all of them. I do find that as fascinating as the plots of these books are, the most interesting aspect is the general mood of Barcelona throughout the first half of the 20th century mixed with some touches of magic realism. Must admit that prior to reading this book I had to look up some of the plot details of the previous books as some of it had not quite stuck with me over the years since I started with them.

This book focuses mainly on Fermin, the helper in Sempere's bookstore, and his relationship with the Semperes and with David Martin from the second book. Again lots of literary references, this time there is a thread of Count of Monte Christo running through the pages of this novel.

Great stuff! But I expected nothing less.

Book # 40 (Series 10: Cemetery of Forgotten Books)

Modificato: Nov 15, 2014, 2:41 pm

Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland: The Complete Collection

Can't really say much about this that hasn't been said before.

This Kindle edition features the Illustrated ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS as well as ALICE'S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND (the original manuscript that Carroll had given as a present to Alice Liddell and that follows the familiar plot but misses a certain je-ne-sais-quoi) and THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK.

I had previously read ALICE before. Not sure about THROUGH THE LOOKING GLAS though its themes were so familiar for me I might as well have.

Book # 41 (Other)

Nov 16, 2014, 12:32 pm

>141 IrishHolger: A thread of Monte Christo running through the book? I'm sold.

Nov 17, 2014, 7:56 am

A loose thread. ;-)

Nov 29, 2014, 8:49 am

Carol Wolper: Adapt or Wait Tables

A quick and fun read with little or nothing about freelancing life that hasn't been said elsewhere. Still, the author deserved my €3.99 for the title alone that I will now endlessly rip.

Book # 42 (Other)

Nov 29, 2014, 10:34 am

Tobias Hohmann: Edgar & Bryan Edgar Wallace: Der Klassische Kriminalfim - Band 2

Edgar Wallace used to be an incredibly popular mystery writer in Germany and from 1958-1972 a 32-part series of "Krimis", i.e. German produced mystery movies, adapted from his books proved to be a huge success and spawned a huge number of similar productions, some of which were based on his son's works who was conveniently called Bryan Edgar Wallace, resulting in films that at a cursory glance appeared to also be Wallace Krimis.

These films are still cult movies in Germany and some have even become popular amongst B-movie aficionados abroad.

Unfortunately there has never been an English language book on this series but over the years Germany has published a couple of books about them. This is by far my favourite of the lot as it doesn't just cover the regular series but also a good number of the unofficial follow-ups. The writing could at times have made do with some better editing but this so lusciously illustrated with lobby cards and posters that even foreign fans who don't speak German can get a great kick out of it.... provided they are willing to pay the (justifiably) high price for this back-breakingly thick coffee table production.

Book # 43 (Other)

Nov 29, 2014, 10:48 am

Joseph Rosenberger: Manhattan Wipeout

I really like 1970s men's adventure pulp series so it's a surprise that I hadn't tackled any whatsoever so far this year. This is my first DEATH MERCHANT book. Rosenberger has a reputation for writing some of the more unsavoury pulps of that era but this book is just the usual serial vigilante taking on the Mafia shtick. Dodgy use of regular ethnic insults. Some of the fight scenes show that Rosenberger also used to write Martial Arts pulp books. All in all quite dull and by-the-numbers.

Book # 44 (Series 11: Death Merchant)

Nov 29, 2014, 2:19 pm

"Adapt or Wait Tables" sounds like the adage for these times, that is for sure.

Dic 5, 2014, 4:52 pm

Batman: The Killing Joke

The Joker's origin story as told by Alan Moore. The fate of Commissioner Gordon's daughter still has ramifications for the current Batman run of stories.

Great stuff.

'Nuff said.

Book # 45 (Graphic Novels)

Dic 6, 2014, 11:51 am

I love Alan Moore's stuff. That cover really exemplifies the 'evil' of Joker.... and part of the reason why I have never been fond of clowns or mimes. Never trust a man with all that face paint on! ;-)

Dic 7, 2014, 1:40 pm

I also love Alan Moore. Strange thing is that I often don't like his choice of artists, e.g. FROM HELL is a fascinating read but I can't quite take to the art work inside. Still like it overall though.

In THE KILLING JOKE, however, both text and art gel nicely together. I only know this version, i.e. the newer one with the more subdued colouring. Apparently the original version had more brighter in-your-face colours. The new one works well for me. Not sure yet what I would think of the original.

Dic 12, 2014, 7:21 am

Charlie Higson: Double or Die

I love pretty much all the Ian Fleming Bonds. Some maybe more than others but all in all they are all memorable which is more than can be said of the majority of the non-Flemings that - apart from Kingsley Amis' Colonel Sun - never seem to match the unique mood and feel of the originals.

This is my first time indulging in one of the Young Bond books. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they play in the 1930s. Somehow I had thought that they may have been updated adventures but it's good to know that I was wrong about this.

Mind you, there is nothing on the cover that would have indicated anything else but a contemporary thriller. But then again the cover is yet another one in a long line of piss poor modern paperback covers that seem to have been slapped together by an uninspired Photoshop Amateur. It's generic, garish and non-descript. Given that the classic Bonds all had iconic paperback covers this is a wasted opportunity. As I often say: With covers like these, no wonder so many are drawn to eBooks.

The story itself is clearly aimed at a somewhat older teenage audience as there are a few scenes of surprisingly graphic violence. There are a lot of puzzles and riddles in this book and Alan Turing makes a little appearance. The book never insults its young reader's intelligence and all in all this is a perfectly readable Young Adult book. I just don't ever get the feeling that this is anything else but Bond in title.

True, given that the adult Bond generally relishes in activities that would have been alien to a kid or teenager we should not expect too many of the older character's quirks here but still, we should get more of a Bond feel or some character developments that point towards his future self.

The adult Bond is known to gamble and win. Young Bond is forced to gamble and wins. So that's a match.

Apart from that Young Bond is forced to drink alcohol and nearly gets poisoned and throws up which should have probably turned him off his adult escapades.
Adult Bond charms the ladies. Young Bond nearly gets killed by a group of girls.
Adult Bond is confronted by characters with memorable names. The closest Young Bond gets is a girl called Kelly Kelly (i.e. Kelly as a first and last name) which really isn't remotely original.
We have very small hints at modern technology in the making but nothing ever points to the gadget fixation we may have come to associate with the character.

So all in all readable but doubtful that this would have attracted much attention if it hadn't been developed with the Bond Franchise in mind.

Book # 46 (Series 12: James Bond)

Modificato: Dic 12, 2014, 7:40 am

Hmm, looks like I have now officially finished my 2014 challenge and read books from 12 different series (plus some Graphic Novels plus "Others"). I'll continue (off course) reading for the rest of the year and may even manage to reach my second "unofficial" goal of finishing 52 books. It's been a while since I managed to read more than 1 book a week. This year may be a close call.

Time to think of my 2015 Challenge.

Dic 12, 2014, 8:23 am

Congrats on completing your challenge!

Dic 12, 2014, 8:49 am

Congrats on finishing your challenge with time to spare.

Dic 12, 2014, 9:40 am

Congratulations on finishing your challenge!

Dic 12, 2014, 10:06 am

Hearty congratulations!!!

Dic 12, 2014, 10:34 am


Dic 12, 2014, 11:45 am

Thanks everyone.

For next year I may for the first time in yonks choose "proper" categories again to more evenly distribute the number of books across the categories.

Surprised to see that up till now the maximum of any series I read this year was a measly two. Could have sworn I would focus a bit more intensely on at least one or two of those.

But that's the beauty of those challenges: They make certain reading trends more obvious.

Dic 12, 2014, 7:48 pm

Hurray, congratulations! Looking forward to your 2015.

Dic 13, 2014, 7:40 pm

Congrats on finishing!! See you over in the 2015!!

Dic 30, 2014, 11:50 am

Thanks everyone. I already know my categories for 2015 but haven't had time to right them down here. Busy preparing for a New Years Eve trip back to Germany.

Managed another two books before the end of the year. No time for a write-up so just a quick heads up:

Doctor Strange: The Oath

John Ajvide Lindqvist: Let The Right One In

Really enjoyed sharing my reading year here on LB again.

Have a great 2015 everybody!

Talk soon.... ;-)

Dic 30, 2014, 2:08 pm

Have a safe trip and looking forward to following your 2015 reading over on the new group!

Dic 30, 2014, 6:38 pm

Have a good trip and Happy New Year!

Dic 31, 2014, 10:32 am

Have fun on your trip!

Dic 31, 2014, 11:10 am

Congratulations on finishing your challenge! Happy New Year!

Gen 2, 2015, 11:30 am

Congratulations and Happy New Year!

Gen 8, 2015, 10:18 am

Thanks for all the nice wishes. Arrived back home from Germany dying sick but getting better quickly and am now ready for what the New Year may bring:

(At last a proper) 2015 Challenge from me

Now gotta go and also find your own 2015 challenges again. ;-)

Gen 9, 2015, 5:42 am

Did you get to experience all the snow? We arrived back in Munich on the 2nd, to hear about days of plentiful snow, but only a day or so to enjoy it. I have been asked by the children to stop scheduling trips away from Munich exactly when Munich has snow. Not sure how to do this...

Gen 9, 2015, 8:14 am

No, only saw a few left over bits of snow. Arrived to late for the big snow fall.... so instead just had miserable rain like in Ireland. ;-)