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 19%.

The Duke of Andelot (School of Gallantry) - Delilah Marvelle, Jenn LeBlanc

It's one of those books again:

It is set in France, the main-characters are all French but occasionally they use French phrases mid-dialogue. I assume these are moments where they feel especially French or something.

And it's not stuff like 'Bonjour' which I still would be able to get despite the fact that at school I had English, Latin and Russian but no French. Not that I think it makes sense to have stuff like Bonjour in an English book set in France (I get the convention to leave Madame/Mr/Frau untranslated because it would sound really odd if you did but there is no reason to keep other words for which there is a perfectly valid translation) but at least those are phrases that have no reason to be kept untranslated but that I also understand. No, here we have stuff like 'Ma biche' and 'Merde a la puissance treize' which I had to run through Google Translate to get ('My doe' and 'shit to the power of 13' which at least is a nice curse to remember...and no I did not need Google Translate for 'merde', I know that much French) which is far more work than I am willing to put in a book that has been merde so far anyway.

Our heroine has a terrible life you know. Because she's just that beautiful. And her tits are huge. Which is horrible because all men are care about are her looks. Nobody cares that she also has a proper education.

As one of 11 children of a peasant-family.

Growing up in pre-revolutionary France.

Yeah.

But don't worry. She's not perfect. She has flaws.

She had horrible habits that included using her acting skills to get what she wanted, biting her nails and falling asleep in her corset

See? She's basically a mess. Nobody wants a woman with these major flaws.

 

Meanwhile our hero has a tragic past. He was severely bullied by his older brothers. Which included tying him up somewhere outside and leaving him there for days...which he apparently survived without starving, developing pneumonia and his parents never wondered where he was. 

But now his brothers are dead and he has to avenge them because he loved them just that much

 

I am only at the 19% mark and I didn't even get round to mentioning the massive WTF-just-happened-I-am-dying-from-second-hand-embarrassment-sex-scene.

Cheap Books!

Blood Sisters - Melanie Clegg Minette - Melanie Clegg The Secret Diary of a Princess: a novel of Marie Antoinette - Melanie Clegg Before the Storm - Melanie Clegg From Whitechapel - Melanie Clegg

Melanie Clegg is offering all her books for 99 cent/99 p for all of April! I only read From Whitechapel so far (because I have an unhealthy obsession with Victorian serial killers) and enjoyed it so much that I decided to grab all the others (minus Minette which I already own but haven't read yet because my tbr-pile is out of control), so if you like historical novels and Jack the Ripper: grab it. Or The Secret Diary of a Princess if you want to read about Marie Antoinette. Or Blood Sisters/Before The Storm for the French revolution in general. Or Minette if for the English Civil War. 

Or get more than one. Or all of them.

Anyway:

Cheap Books!

Review: Memoirs of Monsieur D'Artagnan

Memoirs of Monsieur D'Artagnan, Now for the First Time Translated Into English - Gatien Courtilz de Sandras

Disclaimer: this book is only for very massive The Three Musketeers -geeks. I am not talking about 'I enjoyed the book and [(the movie with Michael York/Charlie Sheen)/Dogtanion and the three Muskehounds was a really nice show]'. I am talking about  'I have read the book and the sequels (possibly more than once), have spent an unreasonable amount of time hunting down and watching obscure movie-adaptation of it (including the one with David Hasselhoff let us not speak of this ever), once bought a bottle of wine just because it was called 'The White Musketeer' and still have the wrapper of that d'Artagnan chocolate-bar'-level geekery. 

(Obviously I would never do any of these things. I have a friend who does. Yep. She's also writing this review. Really. I am not a weird person at all. *tries to smile reassuringly*

SEE! Nobody can prove anything. Nobody!)

 

Anyway...back to the book. It is not particularly...thrilling. About 2/3 of it is "d'Artagnan gets into trouble because he couldn't keep his pants on but gets quickly out of it again because he is just that awesome". No seriously...this guy has more romantic adventures than all the Musketeers in all the various adaptations put together.

And yes, this includes BBC!Aramis

 

(I should clarify: 2/3 of the edition I was reading: a German translation where the translator pointed out in the afterword that he heavily edited/shortened it and that he considered the sexy adventures much more interesting than the description of battles and of political stuff (which Sandras got mostly wrong anyway apparently))

 

The rest is mostly about work he does for Cardinal Mazarin (and whining about how much of a penny-pincher he is) and the occasional trouble he got in for reasons other than 'could not keep his pants on' (those are rare...very rare).

There is no actual red line in the book. With the exception of Mazarin there are almost no recurring characters, people appear for a few pages (if they're female d'Artagnan sleeps with them, if they're male they get angry at him for sleeping with their wives) and are never seen or even mentioned again.

For a Musketeer-geek it's still interesting to see where Dumas got his inspiration from. Though if you expect this book to be a less polished version of The Three Musketeers you will also be disappointed. In the first quarter there is some stuff that will be familiar: the very beginning is quite similar to TTM, including the scene with Rochefort (who has a different name here), Athos, Porthos and Aramis are mentioned (though only two or three times), a character that was very likely the inspiration for Constance appears and so does Milady but that's it. Not much swashbuckling adventures, no secret letters that have to be delivered...so without a strong interest for Dumas (or perhaps the time-period this was written) you will probably be bored very quickly. But if you're enough of a nerd this is just the book for you at least my friend says so.

Review: Learning Curve

Learning Curve - Kaje Harper

The soapbox was huge in this book. It wasn't that I disagreed with the stuff the characters said while getting on soapboxes but it was just done in a very inelegant way. In the previous books we learned that Tony gets on quite well with the principal of the school he works in and that the principal also has no problems with Tony being openly gay. But at the beginning of this book he is away and we get a deputy principal of the 'I am not homophobic but' variety (which at least is a nice change of the religious 'you will burn in hell'-homophobes that fall out of these books every time you turn the page). This deputy manages to call in a meeting with some parents who question Tony's ability to lead the school's gay-straight-alliance/the necessity of such a club in the first place.

By the time that meeting takes place the actual principal is back again so there is no actual worry of any negative consequences for Tony or the alliance but we still get a long speech about the need for one and the need for a non-straight teacher for it. And by speech I mean 'random pupils and a few parents in favour of it say a couple of sentences each about why it is necessary' (but if you cut out the dialogue-tags it would make a very nice speech...or a leaflet about the necessity of such a group). They talk about closeted kids that were helped in coming out, about how the group helps pupils that are bullied for being gay, about why it is important that they don't need their parent's permission to join, etc. And all these things are true and important but the whole scene is just inserted so sloppily in the flow of the book. I don't know any of the kids that told their stories in that scene, they never appeared before (except perhaps as a mention in a side-clause) so I'm not really moved by these stories. I mean I am moved by the fact that there are still parents out their who won't accept their children if they're gay but that's not a new fact that this book only just told me. The series did have instances were it went 'homophobia is bad, also here are the consequences of homophobia for actual people you have gotten to know and care about' but this isn't one of them. This is 'here's a leaflet about how bad homophobia is with 'Kate said' and 'Tom said' inserted in random places.
And I'm still torn how to feel about this because as said, these are still sad and true facts, and I am very glad that m/m-romances discuss the topic...but this one didn't do it very well.

 

Now the book in general was...OK. A bit better than OK but not great either. I still enjoy the characters, Ben (and especially Anna) were less annoying than in the previous one but I simply might not be made for this sort of domestic fluff with My Little Pony-themed birthday-parties and discussions on who fetches the kids from school. I mean I am grateful that Kaje Harper doesn't go down the idiotic-missunderstanding-as-source-of -conflict route. On the downside that means she takes the let's-add-more-angst one and I swear I never thought I'd ever consider more angst as a downside because I love angst a lot. Harper also deserves lots of kudos for acknowledging that even with supportive surroundings some things simply take some time to process and some scars will always remain. The characters have realistic reactions to traumatic events in their lives. It's just that a lot of traumatic events are beginning to pile up and while taking each single one alone the reactions are realistic but I'd expect something else from a single person who has to deal with all this stuff...
Perhaps this series has just run it's course for me. I'm not sure if there will be another book (it doesn't exactly leave open questions but a few directions in which it still can go) but if there will be I'm not sure if I'll buy it.

Free book alert!

Secrets in the Shadows (Leroy's Sins, #1) - T.L. Haddix
After surviving a traumatic attack as a teenager, as well as a disastrous first marriage, Lauren Taylor Grant is content with her life. So what if she gets lonely from time to time? With a healthy, beautiful daughter, and a successful coffee shop-cafe, the divorced single mother convinces herself she doesn’t have time for love. When she gets her first glimpse at her parents’ handsome new neighbor, though, she starts reconsidering her stance. Once Charlie Clark begins breaking through her defensive walls, Lauren finds him hard to resist.

Just as Lauren is learning to let go of the past and embrace the future, her personal demons rear their ugly heads in the guise of a vandal hell-bent on destroying Lauren’s happiness. When another local businesswoman is brutally murdered, the investigation into the crime reveals an unexpected connection to Lauren’s past. The message is clear--the past has come calling, and it’s out for blood.

Note for Readers: This book does deal with the issues of incest and sexual abuse, more with the effects on the victims than the abuse itself. Reader Discretion Advised.

amazon.com & amazon.de

(For some reasons not on uk...even though it was about half an hour ago...)

 

I haven't read it but had it on my 'maybe'-list for a while and today a friend wrote a very favourable review of it and when I went to check out the Kindle-sample for it I noticed it was free.  

Reading progress update: I've read 9%.

The Iron Ship - K.M. McKinley

I really really don't want to jinx it because I had a somewhat bad run with review-copies but so far I am veeeery intrigued by this. The world-building just manages the right balance between infodumps and giving no info at all and leaving the reader completely clueless and the characters are all quite interesting (I just hope for a few more female ones).

 

Review: Heirs of the Body

Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple) - Carola Dunn

Usually I dislike it when crime-novels take ages till the first body appears (even more so in cozies somehow) and there were also one or two Lady Daisy novels that, in my opinion, suffered somewhat from taking a long time to 'set the scene' before the murder finally happens. Not so this one. I was very much glued to the pages even though I had a good idea who the victim would be a while before it happened. Nevertheless the whole story was intriguing enough to keep me reading.

However apart from guessing the victim correctly I also had pretty good suspicion about the murderer early on so I'll have to deduct a star for that but it's still one of the books in this series I see myself coming back to a couple of times.

Review: Midsummer's Moon

Midsummer's Moon  - Megan Derr

Midsummer's Moon is a werewolf-story. The main-character of that werewolf-story is Lowell the werewolf. Lowell is a werewolf. The author is very worried that the reader might forget that werewolf Lowell is a werewolf so the fact that Lowell is a werewolf is mentioned approximately five times per paragraph. 

Did I already mention that Lowell is a werewolf? A very sad and miserable werewolf. Werewolf Lowell is also supposed to be 18 years old but alternated between sounding like an emo-teenager, written by somebody who has never met a teenager and sounding like a six year old, written by somebody who has never met a six-year old.

Also Lowell is a werewolf. A sad and miserable werewolf. The author is almost as worried about the reader forgetting that werewolf Lowell is sad and miserable as she is about the reader forgetting that Lowell is a werewolf, so the fact that Lowell the werewolf is sad and miserable is mentioned about three times per paragraph. 

So we spent about 90% of the story establishing that Lowell, the sad and miserable werewolf is a sad and miserable werewolf and dropping hints that Lowell, the sad and miserable werewolf is in fact as special werewolfy snowflake but while everybody knows what kind of special snowflake Lowell, the sad and miserable werewolf, is they don't tell him because of reasons. But they are not very got at not saying anything so they keep implying that Lowell, the sad and miserable werewolf, is somehow different from all the other werewolves without going into more detail. As a result Lowell, the sad and miserable werewolf, gets even sadder and more miserable because he is certain that he is even more a freak than he had thought and everybody will hate him for that.

In the last 10% some drama happens but Lowell the sad and miserable werewolf can immediately use all his special werewolf snowflake powers that he learned about only two paragraphs before and solve all the drama. Afterwards Lowell is no longer a sad and miserable werewolf but just a werewolf.

The End.

Werewolf.

 

ARC received by NetGalley. 

I'm not crying

Except I am.

Terry Pratchett has died.

 

Review: Myth and Magic - Queer Fairy Tales

Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales - Radclyffe, Stacia Seaman

Sadly the awesome premise didn't really deliver what I hoped. Full review on Bibliodaze.

And now for the state of my other reading-challenges ^^

 

Book with a female protagonist: Carola Dunn - Manna from Hades (both MCs are female)

Book with a protagonist with a physical disability: Rose Lerner - Sweet Disorder (the MC needs a cane after a war-wound)

Book of Poetry/Epic Poem: J. R. R. Tolkien: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

 

The Popsugar Reading Challenge is long so to spare your dasboard:

-read more-

It's like that.

Reblogged from Derrolyn Anderson:

Review: Manna from Hades

Manna from Hades - Carola Dunn

I'm going to stay with Dunn's Lady Daisy mysteries because this book didn't really overwhelm me. One major problem was that it tried to convince me that a character was unlikeable but never showed it. Megan keeps complaining about the fact that her boss is a misogynist who hates the idea of a women in the police force but we never see him treating her badly. Sure he is not the warm and cuddly welcoming type but at no point did he behave like he thought Megan couldn't do her job because she's a woman. He yelled at her once because she did not report to him when she was supposed to but when she explains that she found a witness who had vital information for the case and couldn't risk to keep her waiting because then she might disappear again he understands. At least once he tells her to do something because he is convinced she would be better at it than him and when he interacts with her male colleagues he doesn't treat them any different than her so I really can't see the sexism.

The only person he really looses his patience with is Megan's aunt and I can sympathize with him there. If I was a cop and a vital witness who found a body in her charity shop can't remember if she locked the shop or her flat (which is above the store), is incapable of telling me if there is anything missing and only remembers two days later that there was an anonymous donation of jewellery to the shop which could be connected to the murder I would probably yell a lot more than the poor inspector. (Disclaimer: It makes sense in context for Eleanor, Megan's aunt, to have a hard time remembering to lock her doors and as she assumed the jewellery was fake and turned up a day before the murder it also isn't completely unrealistic for her to forget about it in the first shock...but when she remembers she putts of telling the inspector about it for ridiculous reasons so I really can't blame him for getting mad at her. Also just because her tendency to forget door-locks exists makes sense doesn't mean it's not frustrating to read about...)

So, this book would already have been much better if it hadn't tried to tell me that a character was pure evil without showing me him doing anything evil but there is also the matter of the case itself. I don't want to keep comparing two different series by the same author but here I can't help it: Daisy is a proper amateur sleuth. She isn't working for the police but thanks to her Scotland Yard-husband and circumstances that are certainly not realistic in the actual world but make enough sense in the cozy-crime universe she gets involved in various cases and then investigates them. She does sort of work together with her husband and Dunn does avoid most of the more annoying cozy-tropes but she remains a civilian who is investigating a crime.

In Manna from Hades there's Megan, who as said is a police sergeant and it's her job to investigate the murder. There's also her aunt who is sort of the little old lady investigates-type except that she doesn't do any investigating. She never takes an active interest in the case in the way Daisy does. Her contribution to it consists of falling over the body at the beginning and then conveniently falling over the solution at the end (which the police managed to figure out almost simultaneously). I'm really not sure what was the point of that. It seems the book is trying to appeal to the cozy reader-audience but it isn't a cozy, it's a regular detective novel with real policemen (and women) investigating. Except for that it spends far too much time with a little old lady who does exactly zero sleuthing. I think I would actually have enjoyed this more when it hadn't tried to be a cozy because Megan and the rest of the characters in the book are quite interesting (hell, even Eleanor is, I just don't want to spent that much time with her when the narration tells us every other paragraph that she again forgot to lock her flat/the shop/her car) and the book also shows Dunn's talent when it comes to giving us characters that aren't simply black and white (which really makes me wonder even more why she is trying to convince us the Inspector is) and I wouldn't mind meeting them again but not so badly that I am willing to ignore all the stuff I didn't like.

 

 

Review: Ross Poldark

Ross Poldark - Winston Graham

After the blurb and the prologue I expected something very different from what I eventually got but I still wasn't disappointed. Rather the opposite in fact. I somehow expected a quite conventional novel: set-up, climax, resolution (and I expected Ross' cousin and uncle to be the antagonists) but Poldark is more a family-saga in which...things are happening. Which sounds boring but really isn't. It contains a lot of stories that could have been made a whole novel in their own right but they are only touched upon quickly, sometimes the plotline is suddenly dropped and then gets picked up again when you least expect it. 

This might make the book sound horrible and I am aware that I have often complained about books that did similar things and gave them bad ratings but here it simply works. While in other cases I had the feeling that the author didn't quite know what they wanted to write and ended up writing about ALL THE THING, Graham knows what he is doing. He is writing a family-saga and families usually don't have just one thing going on in their life that has a clear cut beginning, middle and end. Additionally his prose is quite beautiful. I had to think of Master and Commander a couple of times, O'Brian also has beautiful prose but is sometimes very realistic when it comes to depictions of 'and at times there is not much happening on a ship'. Ross Poldark was for me less extreme in that matter (though I did learn more about copper mining than I ever wanted to know) but there are definitely some similarities in that matter.

Also at the end several of the plotlines are still left hanging without a resolution/are only partly resolved and while that did annoy me somehow it's hard to avoid with the format. Just like it's not realistic for a family to have only one problem it's not realistic for them to have several that are all conveniently solved at the same time. And there are no cliffhangers that will leave you sleepless till you can get your hands on the next book but if you enjoyed this one (which I did) you are going to want to read the second book as well. 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 103 out of 305 pages.

Manna from Hades - Carola Dunn

And now I have learned that just because there are perfectly valid reasons for the annoying character-trait it doesn't make it less annoying.

The book is set in the 50s and the MC has only recently returned to England after having been a charity-worker in remote villages in different part of Asia. As in: places where nobody locked their doors because there were no locks. She also doesn't care for her worldly possessions very much because for a large part of her life she had to do with very little.

Now as a result, she frequently forgets to lock her doors (of her car, her home, the shop she works in...) even though she now lives again in a place with door-locks (and where it's advisable to do so...just look at the murder-rates in picturesque fictional villages in cozy crime-novels). So when a body turns up in her shop she infuriates the inspector by being unable to tell if she locked the door the day before and she can't tell if anything is missing from her home because she has no clue what she owns. Well...and it really makes sense for her to be like this (unlike a couple of other cozy-heroines that are probably supposed to be adorably chaotic but rather make you wonder how they manage to find their way from the bed to the bedroom-door without falling over twice and putting their pants on their head because they're just so *~*adorably confused*~* all the time...) but...that doesn't change the fact that I sigh in sympathy with the poor inspector when she isn't able to give him a clear answer.

And it doesn't help that it's repeated over and over again that she keeps forgetting to lock her doors. It's almost the first thing we learn about her and then we get hit over the head with it over and over again. 

Reading progress update: I've read 53%.

Ross Poldark - Winston Graham

Currently reading

The Duke of Andelot (School of Gallantry) by Delilah Marvelle, Jenn LeBlanc
Progress: 19%
The Iron Ship by K.M. McKinley
Progress: 9%
Krieg und Frieden by Leo Tolstoy, Michael Grusemann
Progress: 520/1024pages
Stephen and Matilda by Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262pages