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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Review: Will it Waffle

Will It Waffle?: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron - Daniel Shumski

This book raises several questions:
1) If you put blueberry muffin dough in a waffle-iron will you get blueberry-muffin-waffles or blueberry-waffles? (That's almost philosophical). Sure the consistency will be different but show me one person who won't go "Oh great blueberry waffles" when they see the result. (Or perhaps "Iekh! I hate blueberries!" But you get my point). Still apart from those and some chocolate-chip-cookie-waffles nothing in this book could be mistaken for waffles. Though in a couple the waffling-iron is used as sandwich-toaster or table-grill. If you already own one (or both) those won't be new for you
2) Is there anything to gain from making stuff in the waffle-iron instead of the oven or a pan? Less dirty dishes. At least in some recipes.
3) Is it really necessary? No. But it's fun (and the author is aware of both of these things).

 

The recipes are almost all pretty easy to make but I wouldn't recommend it to absolute beginners. Depending on what iron you have cooking-times can vary and you will need some experience to make up for that. (But then I don't think absolute beginners will start with a 'cooking in a waffle-iron' book anyway). Most of the ingredients will be things that are easy to get or you even already have in the kitchen. Only a handful feature international cuisine and might require extra shopping trips but those are rare. (And unless your local supermarket is very small they also will have a corner with Chinese spices, chickpeas etc.)

 

With a few recipes I felt he was trying a bit to hard (re-heated macaroni and cheese on the iron? Fries from mashed potato convenience-powder?) but most sound great and I can't want to try out more.

 

ARC provided by NetGalley.

I found this on tumblr and now I am tempted...

Source: http://howtogetawaywithmischief.tumblr.com/post/104974506535/the-library-put-a-whole-bunch-of-these-out-today

Review: A History of Lonelyness

A History of Loneliness - John Boyne

Disappointing and pointless. Full Review on Bibliodaze

Review: Foxglove Summer

Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch

I don't think I ever expected one of the Rivers-books to take place outside of London. The city always played such a prominent part that I couldn't expect Peter solving crime somewhere else. Well, but he did and it worked (thankfully without turning Peter too much into 'city boy who has no clue how the countryside works and complains constantly'. I feared that at first after remembering his comments on London vs. anywhere else in the previous books but it was pulled off in a way that made it clear that Peter is unfamiliar with the situation but didn't act like an idiot).

Sadly, not being in London also means a serious lack of Nightingale, Molly, Toby & co. I missed them a lot and even though some of the newly introduced characters were awesome as well (I hope we hear from a few of them again) they just couldn't replace them.

The case itself was very good and definitely among the better ones of the series, just the ending didn't overwhelm me. Something major didn't get anything that came close to a satisfying answer and something else was tied up a bit too conveniently  and quickly.

Review: 1,411 QI Facts To Knock You Sideways

1,411 QI Facts to Knock You Sideways - John Lloyd, John Mitchinson

I promise I will pay more attention to the blurb of books next time. If I had I wouldn't have picked up the book in the first place and spared myself some disappointment. 

Previously I'd read The Book of General Ignorance and really enjoyed it. I had expected 1,411 QI Facts to be similar: an amusing fact and a few paragraphs (or more) that goes into more details on the why and how. 

Somehow the title should have already given a clue because 1411 times a few paragraphs would have made a very long book, so this book doesn't give any explanation or details, just pure hard facts, 2-3 sentences each. I don't really care about that and frankly find it a bit lazy, especially as they aren't really sorted properly. (There is a vague order in the sense that e.g. one fact about Bulgaria is followed by another, but then the second is about mandolin-players in Bulgaria and that's followed by one about superstitions about Mandolin-players in general and then one about superstitions and so on. I get the why but I think sorting them in facts on plants/animals/history etc. might have made more sense).

On a side-note: some facts are really amusing and surprising but the average sleeping-time in Coventry is not going to knock my sideways. Some of the facts are pretty dull.

 

Disclaimer: I don't think the book actually contained anything about Bulgarian mandolin-players but another draw-back of that kind of format is that it's impossible to remember much.

 

ARC provided by NetGalley

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.

Currently reading

Krieg und Frieden by Leo Tolstoy, Michael Grusemann
Progress: 520/1024pages
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