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
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Book-Bingo!

It's still early in the year so you still might want to join a reading bingo and I found a really interesting one. While it's not one that's focused just on diverse protagonist/authors it does have a few spaces that require e.g. protagonists with disability. (And it comes with some suggestions for books that would fit the more unusual spaces).

 

In unrelated news: I am not dead but exam-weeks are starting so since I while I have barely time to read anything not uni-related let alone review it. Read you all again in early February :)

The Bibliodaze State of the Book Survey

Reblogged from TezMillerOz:

Are you a blogger/booktuber/reviewer/reader/content creator or anyone who loves books? Take the Bibliodaze.com survey.

"In a few weeks, Bibliodaze will analyze the content to bring you a glance at the current status of the online book community and consumer views on the future of publishing, online content, and other assorted items!"

I got quite wordy in the text boxes - clearly I have a lot to say ;-)

Will be interesting to see if I'm alone in my views, or if others are feeling the same.

Bibliodaze has a newsletter!

Reblogged from The Book Lantern:

Hey hey hey, you can now sign up to our fortnightly Bibliodaze newsletter! 

Round the world in books

The Legend of Sigurd & GudrĂșn - J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien A Vintage Affair - Josh Lanyon The Dark Horse - Josh Lanyon The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

Idea shamelessly stolen from Urlphantomhive. The idea is to keep track of the countries/states you visited via books. So far I only read four books, two set in the US and two set in a fantasy-ish world so my maps don't look that impressive:


visited 2 states (4%)

I spare you the visited countries one :P

 

Stats:

 

Real Countries visited: 1 (US)

US - States visited: 2 (California & Georgia)

Phantastical countries visited: 2 (Land of the Niflungs, Gothic Italy with curses but really it could be anywhere)

Review: Taste of Beirut

Taste of Beirut: 150+ Delicious Lebanese Recipes from Classics to Contemporary to Mezzes and More - Jourmana Accad

I fear it'll sound like a terrible worn-out cliché when I say that this isn't just a cookbook but a love-letter to Lebanese food but it really is. Many of the recipes are introduced by a short text that talks about the author's memories connected to that food or explain more generally on which occasions it is eaten.

The recipes in general are very great and diverse: you will find things that are quick to make and stuff that needs to be prepared a day beforehand, recipes with meat/fish and (quite a lot) of vegetarian ones and even though it is of course a book that deals with exotic cuisine many recipes have ingredients that are relatively easy to get. Those that need more exotic ingredients come with suggestions from the author where to get them (though that might only help you if you're in the US) and occasionally with what it could be replaced.

One small drawback is that you need quite a well equipped kitchen. Several recipes require meat-grinders, food-processors etc. which not everybody might have at hand.

Still: if you can read this book without getting incredibly hungry you must have lost all your taste-buds.

 

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

The Legend of Sigurd & GudrĂșn - J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien

Yes this is an epic poem inspired by Norse mythology. This will not be everybody's cup of tea. I enjoyed the poem itself (but then when it comes to poetry my opinion tends to be either 'yeah I like this' and 'no I don't like this' you won't really find me gushing over poetry) and the additional commentary (most of it by Christopher Tolkien but much of it is based on notes his father left and there is also a transcript of a whole lecture JRR Tolkien once gave on the Edda) was interesting - at least large parts of it were interesting. The thing it that it assumes all readers are 120% Norse mythology and ancient Norse language geeks and interested in everything. So the commentary included (few) cross-references to Middle-Earth (very interesting for me), background on the myths (still interesting), info on where/when manuscripts had been found etc. (not something I care terribly much about) and titbits on old Norse grammar (ehm...well...). So I admit to skipping a couple of paragraphs here and there.

If you're just interested in Tolkien's Middle Earth you can skip the book. There are really only a handful of direct references to Middle Earth (and those are just references to names of characters and places) and while Norse mythology did inspire Middle Earth you'll have an easier read with a prose-retelling of it. However if you do enjoy (Norse) mythology in general and aren't turned of by poetry (and lots of very archaic language) this book might interest you.

Review: The Castle of Otranto

The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

I while ago I read Northanger Abbey and while I enjoyed it I also felt like missing out on half of the jokes because while was vaguely aware that Gothic novels meant scary old castles, fair maidens and old curses I had never read one of them. So I eventually decided to read one (after buying it, putting it on my tbr-pile and forgetting about it again till yesterday).

As it happens The Castle of Otranto is actually the first novel that (in its second edition) was published as "Gothic Novel" and wow! It certainly is one. Half a page in the only son and heir of Manfred, the highly unlikeable the lord of the castle has already kicked the bucket (only minutes before the wedding) after a piece of a statue (that apparently appeared out of nowhere) fell on him. Half a page later Manfred has already condemned an unsuspecting bystander to death who just remarked on the similarities between the piece and a statue in the castle and then tries to persuade Isabelle, his son's not-quite-widow to marry him (she refuses among other reasons because Manfred's wife is still alive). It continues in that speed and so the 100 pages are crammed with everything. Mistaken identities, birth-marks that reveal a person's true heritage, curses and enough murder, manipulation and bloodshed to keep up with many contemporary thrillers.

As a result it reads more like a parody that crams all kinds of Gothic tropes together than something that (at least to an extend) wanted to be taken seriously but it is definitely an enjoyable read and because of the shortness and the fact that it was the first Gothic novel not a bad place to start if you're also curious about Gothic fiction.

Review: A Vintage Affair

A Vintage Affair - Josh Lanyon

That was not my cup of tea. (I was tempted to say 'not my glass of wine' but I am a poor student so I will basically drink everything that isn't vinegar or sugar-water and that's a comparison the book doesn't deserve even though I did not enjoy it).

 

First of all: it's definitely more a romance which just happens to involve a dead boy (not as love interest obviously. That would be weird and creepy) than a mystery novel with strong romance. The investigation (including the solution) happened pretty much only off-screen and that simply isn't what I was here for.

And, well, the plot in general...apparently it's hilarious how everybody kept invading Austin's privacy and personal space but I really didn't see it like this. Yes it was never evil intend behind it (more confusion and awkwardness) but how it was always played for laughs still made me uncomfortable. And yes that includes the m/f/m threesome. I don't mind that in general but I really disliked the way it was handled here (Austin was clearly pressured into joining in and didn't enjoy it much. In fairness: Jeff recognizes that he made a mistake and apologizes but I felt it was all glossed over rather quickly).

 

Review: The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse - Josh Lanyon

I quite liked that this was a different look at relationships than in the other Lanyon books (I've read so far). We start with Daniel and Sean already being in a relationship and one that they somewhat rushed into. That does result in some trouble (which tie in with the plot) and I think it's described quite realistically (up until the very end, more in a moment).

However...the mystery plot is rather thin. If you have read more than two crime novels you will be able to predict most of it. And the ending felt rather rushed, both for the mystery and the romance plot. Especially for the romance plot. It felt like Lanyon had originally intended to go for an open end with sequel-hook but then suddenly changed his mind and went for a HEA so it seemed like some major problems just vanished into thin air.

I think that could have worked great as a novel with more time spent on the development of the relationship and also a bit more on the crime-plot but as novella it's just too rushed.

More Musketeer Movies

I continue to work my way through Musketeer adaptations (except the porn version cause even I have standards low they may be) and write about them on Bibliodaze.

Reading Goals in 2015

As always I signed up for the reading-challenge: 55 books. Admittedly not much a challenge because I usually end up with about 50-60 read books per year but if I put a higher goal and see that I won't make it I just get so demotivated that I stop reading completely. And anyway there's two more things I'm planning this year:

 

1)

 

It has 50 entries and I plan to do at least 25, preferably 30. (Some won't be really possible anyway. There are no books set in the 1100-people village I live, I actually read every book we were supposed to read at school (though I could re-interpret it as 'supposed to read at uni'...) and I don't want to buy books just for the challenge but only use book from my tbr-pile/new releases I intended to buy anyway and so the graphic-novel will be out as well).

 

2) 

 

Yes, I know this is madness but I really intend to read as much set on Middle Earth as possible. Spoiler: there's A LOT. At first I'll pass the whole History of Middle Earth books but that still leaves me with Silmarillion/Children of Hurin/Unfinished Tales/Hobbit/LotR which is...still a lot of pages. (And of course I have started The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun now which is Tolkien's translation of an epic Norse poem and not actually Middle Earth but supposedly he took lots of inspiration from it).

Happy New Year everybody

Reading progress update: I've read 15%.

Royal Marriage Secrets: Consorts & Concubines, Bigamists & Bastards - John Ashdown-Hill

 

This book sounded really interesting and it sort of is. I mean it is written in a somewhat more dry and academic style than I had expected but that doesn't bother me that much.

What annoys me are the repetitions.

The repetitions really annoy me.

 

First there's a short introduction that establishes that marriage-customs change (no really?) and that in the middle-ages there wouldn't necessarily have been any written documentations on a marriage and that it wasn't even necessary that a priest or any witness was present during the marriage for it to be valid. Also English monarchs didn't always marry other royalty but sometimes 'just' nobility.

Then there's a second introductory chapter that says basically the same in different words.

Then the first marriages are examined. There are no written records of them because did you know that in the middle ages marriages weren't recorded. Also this marriage was held in front of the church and not in the church because did you know that wedding traditions change? By the way in that time it wouldn't even have been required to be anywhere near a church because priests were not compulsory for the wedding. And from this picture we can see that the bride was wearing a ring but the groom wasn't because did you know that wedding traditions have changed in the last 1000 years.

WHAT? REALLY I WOULD NEVER HAVE GUESSED!

 

And then there is - I kid you not - a 'what have we learned so far'-chapter THAT JUST SUMS THE WHOLE THING UP AGAIN. LIKE DID YOU KNOW THAT PRIESTS WEREN'T NECESSARY FOR WEDDINGS? DID YOU KNOW THAT? I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT! ALSO WEDDING TRADITIONS HAVE CHANGED!

 

Review: Dark Lord of Derkholm

Dark Lord of Derkholm - Diana Wynne Jones

I loved the characters in this book. They were adorable and refreshingly un-stereotypical fantasy protagonists. (I admit I did have some trouble at the beginning to remember which of Derk's children was human and which was a griffin but eventually I managed).

But...the plot was...odd. I can relate to those people who expected something funnier because with the basic premise "People from our world (or something very similar to it) go on adventure-tours in a fantasy world were they can pretend to fight evil and triumph over a dark lord" I also expected something funny. What I got instead was something that felt like a deconstruction of a non-existent trope.

It just felt like the book kept telling me "Look! The people in this fantasy world are suffering because of the tours! And That Is Horrible!"

...thank you so much for telling me but apparently missed hundreds of fantasy-books in which such tours were treated like something fun and unobtrusive because I never really considered them fun. (It also becomes clear pretty quickly that the tours are horrible so it's also not one of those books that start off light-hearted and only slowly you realize that it's actually quite dark).

If it had taken an actual widespread fantasy-plot (like the band of heroes consisting of warrior, wizard, bard and healer off to destroy the Necklace of Doom/find the Bucket of Eternal Sunshine/whatever) and taken a look 'behind the scenes' at the people who aren't the heroes of the story and what such a quest means for them I could have understood it. But as it is it wasn't funny enough for a parody and didn't really subvert anything (except possibly the expectations you had after reading the blurb and the first chapter).

Once I had simply accepted that rather odd basic plot I did enjoy the story (though towards the end rather much plot-induced stupidity was required on Blade's part) and I definitely want to check out more by the author as I very much like her writing style and especially her characters.

My Life According To The Books I Read In 2014

I snagged this from Moonlightreader because it's glorious
 
 
Describe yourself: 
The Princess Bride (Wiliam Goldman)
 

How do you feel: 
Tantalized (Nenia Campbell)

Describe where you currently live: 

Black Ship (Carola Dunn)
 

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
From Whitechapel (Melanie Clegg)


Your favorite form of transportation:
Flying too High (Kerry Greenwood)


Your best friend is:

The Black Count (Tom Reiss)
 

You and your friends are:
The Three Musketeers (alexandre Dumas)


What's the weather like?
Foxglove Summer (Ben Aaronovich)


What is life to you: 
Whisky Wars, Riots and Murder (Malcom Archibald)
 
 
Favorite time of day:
Die 7. Stunde (The 7th Hour) (Elisabeth Herrman)


Your fear:
The Way Through The Woods (Colin Dexter)


What is the best advice you have to give: 
Thinking about it only makes it Worse (David Mitchell)


Thought for the day:
I think I can see where you're going wrong (Mark Burrows)

How I would like to die:

Nine Lives to Die (Rita Mae Brown)

My soul's present condition: 
No Boundaries (Donna K. Ford)

My Family is: 

The Gods of Gotham (Lindsay Faye)

Bibliodaze Best & Worst of 2014!

Reblogged from The Book Lantern:

Team Bibliodaze share the best and worst books of 2014. Come share your thoughts with us! 

Currently reading

Krieg und Frieden by Leo Tolstoy, Michael Grusemann
Progress: 520/1024pages
Stephen and Matilda by Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262pages
Snuff by Terry Pratchett