Witty Little Knitter

I read fantasy, crime, true crime, lgbt-romance and books written by my favourite comedians. List not necessarily complete.
Sometimes I write for Bibliodaze
.

Reading progress update: I've read 35%.

Ross Poldark - Winston Graham

This reminds me a bit of Patrick O'Brian. I read his first Jack Aubrey book and very quickly fell in love with his prose which was really beautiful. However at the same time the book suffered perhaps from too much realism, if you can call it like that. The book didn't really have a coherent plot that started on the first page and ended on the last, it rather described normal life at sea which had very boring periods, very exiting periods and then perhaps another very exiting thing happened that wasn't really connected to the exiting thing before and then life got boring again. I still enjoyed the book but I struggled during some passages.

 

Poldark isn't exactly the same but there are some similarities. I also find the prose really gorgeous and the plot also isn't what you might expect from a conventional novel. Man comes home, wants to rebuild his father's estate, things happen. I won't call it boring but I sometimes struggle to see the plot-thread that keeps everything together. There is the 'rebuilding the estate/mine' but that's just a very loose thread (and to be honest I'm not sure if Ross has any concrete plans about what exactly he wants to do).

It isn't bad storytelling, just one I have to get used to first.

 

(Also a couple of times people were in conversation and then suddenly there was another conversation of different people standing not far away and then we got back to the first conversation without even a paragraph-break...or is my e-book copy sloppily edited?)

State of the Reading Challenges

After ten books I can do some statistics! Behind the cut to spare you if you don't care ;)

 

-read more-

Review: A Rose in Flanders Fields

A Rose in Flanders Fields (The Oaklands Manor Trilogy - Book 2) - Terri Nixon

I started this book without realizing that it is the middle-part of a trilogy (it wasn't mentioned on the NetGalley page and the blurb also didn't say anything) and some of my complaints about the book can be explained by that: it's not a 'conventional' trilogy where one part starts where the other ends. They are all set over roughly the same time-frame but they are all told by different woman from different backgrounds whose lives overlap. I like that idea a lot but not knowing that made it rather confusing to read:

Early in the book Evie meets Lizzy and says that she and Lizzy would soon become best friends...not much later Lizzy is suddenly accused of stealing a valuable diamond and goes to prison. Evie is upset about that happening to her bestest friend for...two paragraphs at least but is busy with her own problems (I am not like the other rich girls! I want to marry the butcher's boy!). Eventually it is proven that Lizzy wasn't the thief (that isn't really a spoiler...not even who the actual thief is would be one because you will almost certainly guess it the first time that person is mentioned...) and then suddenly there are spies and more horrible things happen to Lizzy but mostly off-page. Evie only learns about them afterwards...because Lizzy is the main character of the first book. If you read the books in order it certainly makes sense because you already know her story but I just sat there going 'WHAT?'.

Now if that was my only complaint the book would have gotten a higher rating but even if I imagined that I read it knowing the first book it would still have been bad. Because it is a horrible offender when it comes to 'Show, don't tell' and because in less than 300 pages it has more drama than an average soap-opera has in 3 years.

We are always told that Evie and Will love each other and have an awesome time together and talk about everything. Then we see the marriage-proposal and only afterwards Evie learns that Will used to work as an artist but had to quit because he didn't earn enough. What did they talk about in these awesome meetings? "I love you." - "I love you more." - "No I love you more." over and over again? 'What did you do before you moved here?' isn't exactly a deep dark secret...that's even a question that might come up in a discussion between casual acquaintances so what did our star-crossed lovers discuss that such an ordinary topic never ever came up?

In a similar vein we are told that Evie and Lizzy are great friends (and later Evie and other girls she works with in Flanders) but we rarely see them being friends and that's mainly because of the already mentioned soap-opera level of drama.

I mean you would guess the love-story between Evie and Will and the problems that arise when he can't deal with the horrors of what he sees in the war and tries to shut her on the one side and Evie working as ambulance-driver in Flanders where they also have to deal with bombs, gas-attacks etc. would be enough to fill a book but apparently it isn't. There are also Deep And Dark Family Secrets (TM) that Evie discovers (and then mentions them again only once), terrible things happen to her close friends, just about every soldier she knows is court-martialed or in danger of it, terrible things happen to Evie...it's like the author looked at Word War I and said 'I know that was the bloodiest conflict up to that point, the first time weapons were used that could kill a lot of people from very far away and it left a huge number of people physically and/or mentally scared but that alone just isn't exiting enough'. I never thought that you could have a WWI-novel that is just ridiculously over the top dramatic but this book manages it. And while we're occasionally told that Evie is affected by all this we never see it and anyway if there was a paragraph that talked about how horrible she felt it was usually cut short by...yes! More drama! That also didn't seem to affect her that much longer than one paragraph! And then even more drama! The longer it went the more I expected her just to break down crying because no normal human should have been able to go through all of this without yelling 'LIFE IS UNFAIR AND I HATE EVERYTHING' at least once but she never does. How I am supposed to relate to such a character?

Just...nope.

 

ARC received from NetGalley 

Reading progress update: I've read 42%.

A Rose in Flanders Fields (The Oaklands Manor Trilogy - Book 2) - Terri Nixon

Chapter nine ends with Evie lamenting her husband's loss of memory (he is shell-shocked and doesn't know she's his wife anymore).

And I didn't know if he would ever find it again

Chapter ten opens with:

It was two days after Mary's and Martin's wedding that his memory came back

I just could not deal with not-knowing for the whole time it takes my Kindle to open another page. One sentence later and I would have gone mad from my ignorance.

Review: Snuff

Snuff - Terry Pratchett

The sparks just didn't fly this time for several reasons: One is that I love the City Watch somewhat more than Vimes. Don't get me wrong: I adore Vimes but I love the cast of characters in them. All of them. So seeing most of them only for one or two scenes was disappointing.

Then there's the simple fact that it contained most of my least-favourite (crime)-novel tropes. I'm not a fan of 'policeman stumbles over corpse on his holidays' for a variety of reasons. Just let the police there do their job...but they're conveniently corrupt/incompetent (well with one exception). Tropes that annoy me the 2nd.
Then there is The Big Bad who is Just Plain Evil. He also outsmarts everybody...except Vimes of course which makes for a somewhat boring finale.

Last but not least the morals is delivered somewhat...heavy-handedly. As in it hits you over the head with a large brick. That is attached to a telegraph-mast. That is attached to a medium-sized house. Of course he deals with a very serious topic here but I read Discworld-books where serious topics were discussed in a way that did not make me feel like every other sentence is "And this is really horrible, you see."

This leaves us with a below-average Discworld book...which is still an OK-ish book because it's still Discworld and I love Vimes and Lady Sibyll and Little Sam is quite adorable. But I don't see myself re-reading this anytime soon.

Anybody read those?

Ross Poldark - Winston Graham

This is a series that completely passed me by until last year my aunt mentioned that she loves the novels and the TV-adaptation from the 70s. I filed that under 'things I might check out somewhen in the future' but now they are making a new series. Which looks interesting. For totally non-shallow reasons I swear.

 

OK, some shallowness might be involved. A very tiny amount. But I also read the Kindle-sample and I did enjoy it.
Does anybody know the books? Thoughts, opinions, anything about them?

Review: Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death - Mark Reutlinger

Just for once I want a book with an an awesome title to actually be awesome...this one was just a mess.

First: the narrator. Ida uses a terribly stilted grammar that just isn't realistic for somebody who while not a native-speaker has lived in the US for over 50 years. She also reminds me of my more annoying relatives. The noisy ones who despise everything modern (i.e. post 1960...), feel superior about it and go on constant 'In my days everything was easier and so much better'. She spends a page talking about the fact that nowadays you can buy magazines for every hobby there is. Apparently the rising number of magazine titles is indirectly proportional to her life-quality because I can't imagine another reason why anybody would be that upset about this. No it's not cute, just really, really annoying.

The case...I am tempted to put that into quotation marks because every cozy should be really ashamed of presenting such a ridiculous and shallow story as case. In fact it was solved about 60% in the book...and by that I mean Mrs. Kaplan has most of the necessary information that is needed to solve the case but she won't share it with Ida or the reader. Because...because she doesn't want to share it. This was the point where I loudly yelled 'Oh for fucks sake' at my Kindle because I couldn't believe it. That's just so incredibly lazy writing I can't believe that this is actually done outside very bad fanfiction...(but then 50SOG got published as well...)

The final 40% continue like that. Mrs. Kaplan collects some more information by the power of incredibly plot-convenience (or am I the only person in this world who doesn't have a friend who has a friend who is a burglar that owes them a favour?) but didn't share them till the last chapter because fuck The 10 Rules of Detective Fiction. You dear book are definitely not a detective story, you are just a horrible, horrible book...pages with words on it.

Oh there's also some side-characters that made several 70s sitcoms call and say 'Wow, and we though we only had flat and stereotypical characters' but I am to exhausted to yell about those.

 

ARC provided by NetGalley

Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death - Mark Reutlinger

Just a hint: if the only thing you can think of to keep you readers engaged is too keep the information the characters already have from them and not even have a flimsy excuse for why they are doing it:

 

 

Don't. Ever. Go back to square one. Rewrite.

Free book alert!

The Duchess War - Courtney Milan

The Duchess War is currently free on amazon.co.uk, amazon.com and amazon.de. I heard so much good things about Milan, it's the perfect opportunity to give it a try. 

Review: Hätte, Hätte Fahradkette

Hätte, Hätte Fahrradkette - Die Kunst der optimalen Entscheidung - florian schröder

Eigentlich rolle ich ja jedesmal entnervt die Augen wenn ich eine Review zum Buch eines Comedians/Kabarettisten/sonstiger Personen die dafür bezahlt werden Witze zu machen sehe die mit 'Ich hätte erwartet, dass das lustiger ist' beginnt. Klar gibts genug die einfach ihr Bühnenprogramm aufschreiben und voilà! Ein Buch! Und ja, wenn dass dann langweilig ist ist das doof. Aber diese Beschwerden kommen selten bei den Büchern sondern eher bei solchen bei denen ein kurzer Blick auf den Klappentext eigentlich verraten sollte, dass man hier nicht mit 350 Seiten Schenkelklopfern rechnen kann.

Soviel dazu.

Jetzt also: Ich hätte erwartet, dass das lustiger ist. So nach Studium des Klappentexts und irgendeines Talkshowauftritts Schröders in der er über das Buch gesprochen hat. Stattdessen kann sich das Buch irgendwie nicht entscheiden (höhöhö) was es sein will.

Ja es gibt Witze. Und die Witze die da drin stehen sind auch wirklich gut (Wenn Mehdorn - der Lothar Matthäus der Deutschen Manager - sich um den Berliner Flughafen kümmert hat der bald auch noch die vier Probleme der Deutsche Bahn: Frühling, Sommer, herbst und Winter) aber das ist eben nur ein kleiner Teil des Buches. Ansonsten geht es auch noch über Entscheidungen. Weniger direkt 'wie treffe ich die richtige Entscheidung?' sondern eher 'was steckt hinter den Entscheidungen die wir treffen?' mit Statistiken, Fußnoten und zwei Seiten Quellenangaben. Was macht Politiker eigentlich sympathisch/wählbar? Können uns negative Erfahrungen mit Sache A auch Sache B vermiesen, selbst wenn es keinen direkten Zusammenhang gibt sondern nur einen zufälligen? Entscheiden Frauen anders als Männer? Auch der Teil ist eigentlich ganz interessant, wenn auch etwas trocken (aber Statistik ist eher selten zum totlachen).

Dann gibt es aber auch noch...hm...Betrachtungen über das moderne Leben an sich? Und die gehen quer durch die Botanik. Familienplanung, Helikoptereltern, Sterbehilfe, die CSU, In-Restaurants, das politische System Singapurs...ja irgendwie dient das meistens als Aufhänger für Diskussionen über Entscheidungsfindungen aber es sind verdammt lange Aufhänger und meistens auch irgendwie...langweilige. Und der Autor haut einem dabei seine Meinung so um die Ohren, dass ich selbst mit den Augen gerollt habe wenn ich sie geteilt habe.

Am Ende wars dann irgendwie von allem etwas aber nichts so richtig. Ich schau mir Florian Schröder dann lieber weiter auf der Bühne an, da ist er nämlich so richtig gut.

Review: Sweet Disorder

Sweet Disorder - Rose Lerner

A part of me is going:
"You know this book wasn't perfect, right?"

 

And the other is going:

 

Because it was just so much fun.

 

Not only the main couple are adorable, I quickly fell in love with almost everybody. That was also thanks to the fact that there was no real black and white division into heroes and villains. (Sadly the exception are the main character's mothers, neither of them has has much of a redeeming quality. I can just about life with that as their actions do influence the plot, they don't just sit back being horrible people as so many mothers in romances and cozies...) People act somewhat horrid in one moment but very nice in the next. A person Phoebe (or Nick) likes might do something rather stupid and somebody they can't stand surprises them by acting very generously.

Thanks to that I ended up wishing for a happy end for the side-characters almost as much as for Phoebe and Nick. Only almost because even though everybody was charming nobody came close to the adorableness of those two.

 

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

 

There was no 'undying love after one meeting', you could see their feelings slowly develop while you could also understand why both were at first reluctant to act on these feelings. 

And because all that wasn't enough the book was also extremely hilarious and had me giggling madly more than once("I brought you a ham." - "A ham?" - "Well you don't like sweets.") so it's not hard to forgive the somewhat stereotypical evil mothers and the fact that you will see the Big Dark Reveal (TM) coming a lot earlier than the characters)

 

 

If Male Auteurs Directed “50 Shades Darker”

Reblogged from The Book Lantern:

With the speculation growing that Sam Taylor-Johnson may not direct the 50 Shades of Grey sequels due to her frequent and increasingly bitter clashes with author EL James, the chances are that future directorial duties will fall to men, as was the case with the Twilight movies following Catherine Hardwicke’s success. Given the studio’s eagerness to promote the prestige of an award winning and critically adored artist like Taylor-Johnson working on their film, the chances are they’ll try to clinch a similarly acclaimed auteur for the job. I, a great lover of film, decided to take it upon myself to offer you all a glimpse into the potential directors who could bring that extra something to the material.

 

DNF: Naming Jack the Ripper

Naming Jack the Ripper - Russell Edwards

Fuck it. I tried but I am not going to fight my way through a book in which the author first spent two chapters in himself before coming to Jack the Ripper. In these chapters we are entertained with such tragic stories like that time he was on holidays and ran out oft money so he had to work for a while before he could go back. He explains US that this means he can understand the Ripper victims better because they also had no money...no I am not kidding. I mean he also says that he cares a lot more about Jack than the victims so I have no clue why he told that story in the first place...
Anyway I have never read such a self-absorbed piece oft Ripper non fiction and I have read Cornwell's take in the subject (well tried to but compared to Edwards she's basically Fluttershy) and I just can't anymore...

Happy 1st Birthday, Bibliodaze!

Reblogged from The Book Lantern:

Hurrah, Bibliodaze is now 1 year old! 

On Reviews

Yes let's talk about the Goodreads-bingo that made the rounds on twitter. No I am totally not procrastinating revising for my exam tomorrow.

First: the majority of those squares are the typical 'buhu these stupid reviewers just don't read my book the right way and don't understand it'-whining and should rightly be ignored. But I will also admit: I have seen a few of these things mentioned on the card and rolled my eyes. And do you know what I did after I finished rolling my eyes? Searched a more helpful review because I have enough sense to know what to make of a review that says 'Iek there are gays in this books and that's disgusting' or one where the name of the main character is never spelled correctly. 

 

So: dear authors: no, these reviews will not cost you readers (possibly only a couple of homophobes who would have hated your book as well so you're actually saved from more bad reviews). So why spend time being angry at things that won't affect you?

I mean you could be looking at pictures of kittens instead which is a so much more valuable use of your time.

 

Just think about it: idiots on the internet or kittens? Don't tell me that is a hard decision.

 

So we established how negative reviewers written by homophobes, racists and other idiots can affect authors (to recap: not at all).

 

Now let's look at this from the reviewers side: any negative review, and by that I mean not only those that complain about the existence of any minority in the book but also those who just complain that the minority-character is too flat, the book in general too boring or full of plotholes or any of the things you complain about in negative reviews, can result in one of these things:

  1. The author ignores the review and everybody involved goes their way happily
  2. The author angrily subtweets the review and mocks the reviewer
  3. The author posts a link to the review on one of their social media-sites, thereby calling up all his fans to yell at the reviewer in question.

Now if wrote about liking this bingo or any comparable post I can never be sure if a negative review might not lead to you doing 2) or 3) and while I might not notice mocking subtweets about me but I will notice hordes of fans coming to my review calling me stupid (in the best case) or telling me to die (in the worst) and this is very much a situation which I would like to avoid because in the time I have to deal with these idiots I cannot look at pictures of kittens and not being able to look at kitten-pictures makes me very sad.

So, yes, public whining about bad reviews will persuade me from reading your book much quicker and more thoroughly than any negative review ever could.

 

/gets of soapbox

Also here's a picture of Anderson Cooper with a kitten:

Books!

From Whitechapel - Melanie Clegg

Well, one book. Melanie Clegg's From Whitechapel aka the only fiction-book on Jack the Ripper I really enjoyed is on sale this week: 99 p on amazon.uk and I think eventually the amazon.com price will drop as well. Go and get it! It is well researched and has awesome female characters (and gin).
Here's my review of it in which I say the same in more words.

Currently reading

Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Progress: 35%
Krieg und Frieden by Leo Tolstoy, Michael Grusemann
Progress: 520/1024pages
Stephen and Matilda by Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262pages