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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Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 320 pages.

Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch

 

Cannot post updates. Must read.

Review: Thinking about it only makes it worse

Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse: And Other Lessons from Modern Life - David Mitchell

There isn't much to say about a collection of columns. If you've read Mitchell's Observer-column at least occasionally and enjoyed it you will also enjoy this book. If you haven't but like him on panel-shows and such you will probably also enjoy it as his style of humour doesn't suddenly change just because he's writing and not talking.

 

I found the choice of columns good. There weren't any about fads that had faded so quickly that you already didn't remember them anymore (though I'm not sure if David Mitchell ever wrote about such a thing anyway) but about topics that were either "timeless" or major things (like the General Election) that you couldn't have forgotten anyway.

 

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Reblogged from It's a Mad Mad World:

Reading progress update: I've read 3%.

A History of Loneliness - John Boyne

I admit I never quite got the appeal of John Boyne. Everything I've heard about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas tells me that I definitely do not want to read it. I've read The White Feather which was...not bad but not great either and This House is Haunted which was...meh. I really should have learned my lesson but his books always sound so interesting.

I'm only 3% in which means a lot of things can still happen but this book and I are definitely not off to a good start. It's like the book is shouting at me "Our main character has a really Dark And Tragic Secret (TM) in his past. And it is really dark. And tragic. And did I mention dark? I'm not going to tell you what it is because this whole book will be about him carrying around this Dark And Tragic Secret (TM). There will be allusions to it but it won't be revealed until the last chapter where it is supposed to be a big shock but in fact the readers have brains and will have guessed it a lot earlier.

OK, I might be extrapolating from my experience with The White Feather but after that book Boyne + Dark and Tragic Secret(TM) make my alarm-bells ring.

 

 

My current predictions for Dark and Tragic Secret(TM): 

He got a girl pregnant while being a catholic priest. He also might actually be the father of his nephew (not in a Game of Thrones-way but in a 'here sister, I have this child, please take it'-way)

(show spoiler)

Review: A Fatal Waltz

A Fatal Waltz - Tasha Alexander

Reading the first Lady Emily book I of course adored the characters but it wasn't just that. I was also amazed by the attention to detail about life in the Victorian times and the amount of research that has clearly gone into it.
Which makes it even more disappointing that the author didn't bother with some bits. Definitely not with the random German bits. Dear authors, repeat after me: Google Translate is not a good source for foreign languages you have no clue about. Either try and find somebody who speaks the language or just leave it. Because in 9/10 cases you can just get away with 'said X in foreign language. That was also true for this book (and the 10th case was Wiener Zeitung which can be easily looked up...and therefore was also only misspelled once in the book). All the other cases could just as easily have been expressed in English so there was no need to bring tears to the eyes of the German-speaking readers with Handküss, Känstlerkolonie, Kaffee mehr weiß and - my favourite - schokolade mit gepeitschter creme.


Sadly the lack of research didn't stop there. Anybody who spends more than 5 minutes researching Empress Elisabeth of Austria will be able to tell you that a) her nickname was spelled Sisi not Sissi and b) she disliked that name a lot and so it's unlikely that an old friend (as Cecile is in the books) would use it.
Now that we're over the nitpicking: I also didn't like the plot. Though to be fair that was mainly a matter of taste. I prefer my crime-protagonists to solve simple murders and not get involved in major conspiracies where the safety of the World (or at least the British Empire) is at stake. Unfortunately this was one of those. And as my least favourite premisse wasn't enough one of my least favourite tropes was also attached to it: the superhuman opponent. Because the bad guy in this book is exactly that. He knows everything and manages to break into Emily's room repeatedly even though she keeps improving her security. He seems to be capable of teleportation because I can't see how else he keeps getting in.
And because that wasn't enough there also is the most annoying Colin/Emily-jealousy storyline that could have been easily avoided if people just talked to each other.
Still all of this, (the conspiracy as well as Emily's and other people's relationship-troubles) still is most conveniently solved in the last 10 pages or so which makes it look like the author ran out of pages but had too much plotlines that needed a resolution.
I will still read the next book in the series because overall I'd say the book is more average than bad but hits a lot of my pet-peeves and I'm still fond of the characters. (Also I have the omnibus-edition with the first four books) but I'll take a break from Lady Emily for a while to forget how much she annoyed me.

Review: I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong

I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong: And Other Wise and Witty Comments from Guardian Readers - Marc Burrows, Tom Gauld

There are many books out there that collect amusing anecdotes about weird things happening in a certain environment. I can't think of a single job that involves dealing with people that hasn't yet been written about. This book doesn't really depart from that formula (after all even online-commentators are people) but it's still clear that more thought went into it than hastily throwing together a 'best of' from the Guardian comment section.

First of all each chapter has a hilarious introduction that pokes fun at the topic of the chapter, Guardian-readers and the Guardian itself in (more or less) equal amounts. There also are just as hilarious notes on some of the comments or people/events mentioned in them (like describing George Galloway as 'Reality TV cat-impersonator').

However what I really loved were the illustrations done by Tom Gauld (of You're just jealous of my jet-pack-fame...and that cool The Three Musketeers-cover). I love his style in general and they were just great interpretations of some of the comments. (I almost wish there had been a few more but it's quality over quantity I suppose).

If you only buy a single 'amusing anecdotes'-book make it this one.

 

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Review: A Poisoned Season

A Poisoned Season - Tasha Alexander

This book was...OK...I guess. It's not that I didn't enjoy it. Emily was as great a character as in the first book and the mystery was actually better. However I had trouble with two of the the sub-plots. At first we have the Emily has a stalker-subplot. And it is a stalker, not just a secret admirer who sends flowers now and then. He breaks into her house to leaver her "presents" and he sends angry notes and wilted flowers after he saw her with another man. Neither Emily nor the book itself treat that subject with the seriousness it deserves. That whole plotline and the resolution just didn't sit right with me.


Another one was just plain stupid. Ivy, one of Emily's closest friends is newly married but doesn't get pregnant. Not for any medical reasons but because Robert, her husband, never sleeps with her. He always comes home late and if Ivy is still awake by then he suggests she should take sleeping-powders because staying up so late must be bad for her health. Still he also joins the chorus of people nagging Ivy about when she will have an heir. I am not sure how Robert thinks babies are made. The resolution to that subplot also seemed far to rushed, as if a few pages before the end the author suddenly remembered that she also needed to do something about it. I have no clue what that I was supposed to think about that part. Was it a comic relief plot? It wasn't funny. Was it a commentary on Victorian sex-morals? If yes what was the author trying to say with it? Because apart from 'men are stupid' I didn't get anything out of it.

 

After so much complaining I feel that I have to point out again that overall I enjoyed the book. As said, the mystery was better than in the first book and not as easy to see through.
Emily's character-development also continues to be interesting. She is still trying to figure out how far she is willing to go and what consequences of her actions she is willing to accept. In that aspect the series is one of the most realistic historical mysteries I know. The research that has been done for the book and the attention to detail is also amazing. But all that can't hide that I wasn't that overwhelmed by some parts of the book.

Olga Filina of The Rights Factory Threatens Legal Action to Silence Me

Reblogged from Kaia:

Yesterday, I made a post about my rather unfortunate experiences as the client of one Olga Filina of the Rights Factory. Today, I received a rather unsettling email. Behold:

 

 

That's right, "legal options." I'm not entirely sure what she could justifiably sue me for, but that's not the point.

 

The point is that my immediate reaction was fear, and that's what this email is about. Look how she brings up my career and how I could "sabotage" it. (Note: Shotgun submissions can sabotage a person's career. Having your damn manuscript in the hands of fifty people at once can sabotage a person's career. You'll excuse me if I don't really think her concern is for me here.) 

 

What she wants is for me to be silent. To retract my post. To hide the truth. I'm not going to lie; this scares the bejeezus out of me. We don't have the money to deal with a lawsuit. I suppose I could just fold, just let her censor me. But no one ever speaks out against TRF's behavior. We're all afraid of exactly this, and not only do I not want people to have that kind of power over me, but I don't think I could live with myself if I went silent and allowed other people to put themselves in the line of fire. Because my silence means other people will be treated this way by TRF. 

 

I won't let other writers be hurt, no matter what the consequences for me. Hell, I'm not sure I want much to do with the industry after this, anyway. 

 

I have to wonder, what is she so afraid of? What did I say that could possibly bring TRF's law department down on me? After all, I'm just some nobody on the internet. 

 

This is a warning for all writers. Avoid The Rights Factory. One thing is for damn sure: They don't give a flying fuck about your rights.

 

(If you have the time and inclination, please signal boost. Writers deserve to know what sort of shenanigans are going on here.)

Reading progress update: I've read 5%.

A Poisoned Season - Tasha Alexander

And it's about Marie Antoinette's necklace...well at least it got mentioned and I wouldn't be surprised if it will play a bigger role.

 

And unrelated to Marie Antoinette: I am rather fond of Emily being fond of Greek art. (Cozy)-MCs often have pretty common hobbies or you get whole cozy-subgenres dedicated to certain hobbies: crochet, baking, candle-making etc. that usually  are especially aimed at readers who share that hobby (and often even have recipes, patterns and so on as extra). The way most of these are marketed does not make me want to pick up one about a hobby I don't share because quilting/gardening/[insert almost anything] seems to be such a huge part of them. (Also: the few knitting and baking mysteries I read were mostly crap but that's another issue).

Now: I don't care that much about Greek art. I was fascinated by Ancient Greece when I was younger and some of that stuck but mostly it's resting. I'm also not really a art-person in general. I mean I enjoy looking at nice pictures/sculptures occasionally but I'm not a frequent museum-visitor.

But: in these books it doesn't matter. Emily's love for the subject is an important part of the books and helps making her character more three-dimensional but it's not done in so much detail that it bores me or distracts from the actual plot.

I want more hero(ines) with more exotic hobbies. I actually learn some cool stuff with them.

 

On a side-note: I'm still alive (as proven by this entry), but I just moved and still have a really crappy internet-connection there which makes browsing most sites a chore. Basically I check my emails and am on Twitter but nothing more. I hope that will finally be resolved in the next few days.

Review: Anthem for Doomed Youth

Anthem For Doomed Youth (Daisy Dalrymple Mystery #19) - Carola Dunn

Despite all the dead bodies that usually fill the pages of cozy-mysteries they usually are quite light-hearted. As you can guess a book that takes its title from a gritty anti-war poem can't be that fluffy and light-hearted. You could say it's a darker and edgier cozy but it does work. (Or perhaps I should say it works a lot better than in the Phryne Fisher Mysteries where the author also tries Cozy: Darker and Edgier and fails). It's not perfect but overall the balance between admitting that this is somewhat darker than usual without suddenly turning the series in some psychological noir thriller works quite well. I'm curious if Dunn will try somewhat darker topics again in the future books.

 

Now the problems I had with this book had nothing to do with the fact that the case wasn't what I am used to but how Daisy got involved in it. It required such an ridiculous amount of coincidences that I simply couldn't buy it. (And that means something coming from somebody who has zero problems with the fact that the woman fell over bodies 18 times already...) Going into more details would spoil too much but it simply didn't work for me at all.

Review: Sheer Folly

Sheer Folly (Daisy Dalrymple, #18) - Carola Dunn

I'm running out of things to say about this series. I still enjoy it a lot (with very few exceptions but this is not one of those). The 'various people meet in a large house and then one gets murdered' is one of my favourite set-ups and it's very well done here. Perhaps Rhino was a bit too over the top horrid on occasions but in a way that's part of the 'rules' for a cozy anyway.

Review: Die Schatten von La Rochelle

Die Schatten von La Rochelle - Tanja Kinkel

Das Buch begann mittelmäßig aber nicht so, dass ich jegliche Hoffnung verloren hätte. Dann ging es einfach nur unglaublich langweilig weiter. Vor lauter Rückblicken und Personen deren Relevanz für den Plot absolut nicht ersichtlich war hatte ich beinahe vergessen worum es eigentlich ging. Das ganze wurde nur übertroffen vom Schluss der...nun ja...sagen wir es mal so: Verbotene Liebe hatte realistischere Handlungsstränge.

 

Und damit ist schon das meiste gesagt. Ein Roman über eine der Verschwörungen gegen Richelieu hätte interessant werden können aber da der historisch interessierte Leser nun mal weiß, dass der Kardinal relativ friedlich im Bett gestorben ist kann man nicht so tun als wäre das Spannende 'wird es den Verschwörern gelingen oder nicht?'. Man muss die auftretenden Charaktere so sympathisch (oder vielleicht auch unsympathisch) machen, dass es egal ist ob man weiß was aus ihnen wird oder ein paar nicht-historische Charaktere dazuschmeißen um die sich der Leser sorgen kann. 

Kinkel macht beides aber beides gelingt nicht. Marie (Richelieus Nichte) zeigt ein paar gute Ansätze aber die meiste Zeit war sie nur nervtötend und ihre Entscheidungen nicht nachvollziehbar. Die nicht-historischen Charaktere...da war Charlotte die absolut keinen Einfluss auf die Handlung hatte [spoiler]außer um sich am Ende um Maries uneheliches Kind zu kümmern[/spoiler] und die auch nicht dreidimensional genug wurde, dass ich mich um sie gekümmert hätte. Außerdem gab es noch Paul & Raoul, wobei letzterer hätte auch durch eine formschöne Topfpflanze ersetzt werden können (außer am Ende...aber da wäre er auch nicht nötig gewesen wenn Marie nicht spontan alle Gehirnzellen verloren hätte). Und Paul...sprechen wir nicht über ihn. Das ist das beste.

 

Des weiteren gibt es noch zwei Schiffskapitäne in Nebenrollen. Ihre Namen: Jean-Luc Picard und Riker. Warum? In einem eher humorvollen Roman wäre das eine amüsante Anspielung aber in einem Roman der gerne ernst genommen werden möchte dachte ich nur

 

Ansonsten kann ich es auch überhaupt nicht ausstehen wenn Französische Phrasen in Dialoge eingestreut werden wenn das Buch sowieso in Frankreich spielt und die Figuren dementsprechend sowieso Französisch sprechen...eigentlich dachte ich das wäre eine Fanfiction-Unart aber wie alles Schlechte nimmt es wohl auch veröffentlichte Bücher in Besitz.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 172 out of 412 pages.

Die Schatten von La Rochelle - Tanja Kinkel

There is  a ship-captain called Jean-Luc Picard.

Yes, I know it's a perfectly ordinary French name so why wouldn't a guy in the 17th century be called like that but...

 

It's also one of those books with random French phrases in the dialogue. You know in a book set in France...I sort of assume that they speak French anyway so I do wonder what language I'm supposed to imagine when Richelieu calls Marie 'ma nièce'. Double-French? Klingon?

Read in September

Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space - Kasey Lansdale, Glen Mehn, Guy Adams Murder Tightly Knit (An Amish Village Mystery) - Vannetta Chapman Das Halsband der K├Ânigin. - Alexandre Dumas And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander Black Ship - Carola Dunn I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong: And Other Wise and Witty Comments from Guardian Readers - Marc Burrows, Tom Gauld

Again I feel like I did read more than those books but again it's only six (one of which was a DNF) but at least this month I can explain it with The Queen's Necklace being quite a doorstopper (and all those fanfics I read...)

Overall not a bad month, as said one was a DNF but I quite enjoyed the rest.

Review: Black Ship

Black Ship - Carola Dunn

This wasn't so much a bad book as one with a topic that didn't interest me that much. I just never cared very much about prohibition-era-themed stories and Black Ship (even though it's set in England) deals with the prohibition so I was just sitting there going 'meh'. The case itself was also quite easy to see through. However the characters were lovely as always and I hope we'll see more of the Jessups in the following books. 
I could have done without the random and very forced bringing up of the IRA (Mrs Jessup is Irish and one very annoying gossipy neighbour brings up the IRA without any substantial proof for it. Daisy dismisses it immediately as plain malicious gossip...over and over again because she herself keeps bringing it up several times just to dismiss it again immediately) and the repeated mentions of Mrs Jessup having been an actress and the possibility that she's just acting when she claims to be shocked etc. Every time somebody talked to her it was again mentioned, my memory isn't that bad and I doubt any reader's is.
Still that's overall only minor annoyances, overall the book was enjoyable as almost all Lady Daisy-mysteries are.

My NetGalley diet works really well

Winter Siege - Ariana Franklin, Samantha Norman 1,411 QI Facts to Knock You Sideways - John Lloyd, John Mitchinson I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong: And Other Wise and Witty Comments from Guardian Readers - Marc Burrows, Tom Gauld

 

(on a side-note: I don't quite get the amount of books I'm getting approved of that have 'only for Commonwealth countries' in the publisher's description...I always check my NG-profile after that but it says that I'm German XD)

 

Oh well...at least the Guardian and the QI-book seem to be quick reads. 

Winter Siege is by Arianna Franlin who also wrote the Mistress of the Art of Death series of which I am actually not that fond but I couldn't resist when I saw that it was about the war between Stephen and Maud (and really...when we look at books set in that time-period...it can only be better than Pillars of the Earth)

Currently reading

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
Progress: 200/320pages
A History of Loneliness by John Boyne
Progress: 3%
Krieg und Frieden by Leo Tolstoy, Michael Grusemann
Progress: 520/1024pages
From Hell by Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Pete Mullins
Progress: 40/539pages
Stephen and Matilda by Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262pages