Inconceivable (Ben Elton)

Inconceivable is a novel by Ben Elton.
Finished on: 9.4.2017

Lucy and Sam have been happily married, but they’ve recently been struggling: they’re trying to have a baby and it’s just not working the way it should be working. Lucy’s newest idea is that they both keep a journal to maybe discover what’s blocking them, emotionally or otherwise. While Lucy hunts down everything that promises the slightest chance to increase their fertility, Sam is much more occupied with trying to finally write his great masterpiece screenplay. As the baby keeps them waiting, their relationship starts to crumble.

Inconceivable is okay. It’s not unfunny, but it’s predictable to the point of boredom and it never really manages to leave sexist heternormativity behind.

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The Shadow Speaker (Nnedi Okorafor)

The Shadow Speaker is a novel by Nnedi Okorafor.
Finished on: 8.4.2017

In a post-nuclear future, Eiji lives in a small village in Nigeria. She has a difficult position there: her father used to be the dictator of the village, claiming that he did the bidding of the Red Queen, a much respected nomad. But when the Queen herself came to the village, she beheaded him instead of supporting him. In addition to her family history, Eiji also has magic powers – she is a shadow speaker, which singles her out even more. And now the Red Queen has come back to town with her two husbands and she’s about to drastically change Eiji’s life.

I enjoyed The Shadow Speaker, though I maybe didn’t like it quite as much as Zahrah the Windseeker. Eiji is a great character and the setting – that is connected to Zahrah’s world – is wonderfully unusual for Western readers.

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Magdalena Sünderin (Lilian Faschinger)

Magdalena Sünderin [literally: Magdalena Sinner] is a novel by Lilian Faschinger.
Finished on: 24.3.2017

Magdalena has lived an eventful life and finds that it is time to confess. To make sure that she has the undivided attention, she decides the best way to do that is to simply abduct a priest. So she grabs priest Christian, brings him to a remote location, ties him to a tree and tells him about her life with seven different men and the ends they found – at her hand.

I liked a lot about Magdalena Sünderin, but the book never really won me over completely. I would have liked to like it more.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Porno (Irvine Welsh)

Porno is a novel by Irvine Welsh; the sequel to Trainspotting.
Finished on: 7.3.2017

Ten years after the events of Trainspotting, Sick Boy inherits a pub in Leith from his aunt, so he leaves London behind where things haven’t been going that well for him anyway, hoping to be on the winning side of gentrification for once. But before things take off in that direction, Sick Boy finds himself hosting an amateur porn shoot in his pub. But Sick Boy isn’t the only one returning to Leith: Begbie is being released from prison and even Renton returns from his exile in Amsterdam, hoping to avoid pretty much everybody he knows from back then, except maybe for Spud who is desperately trying to stay clean.

Porno was an excellent continuation of Trainspotting, but also different in many ways. It’s a strong book, looking at some of humanity’s worst traits without losing all hope entirely.

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Re-Read: Trainspotting (Irvine Welsh)

Trainspotting is a novel by Irvine Welsh.
Finished on: 23.2.2017

Renton, Sick Boy and Spud are friends. At least as much as you can be friends with anybody you share a heroin addiction with. And don’t necessarily like each other all that much. As they tumble through Edinburgh, alternatively looking to buy the next hit and to kick the habit altogether, their paths cross with the same people over and over again, people like the violent Begbie or the drunk Second Prize. They all struggle with their own problems but at least they are not stuck in the wheel of capitalism. Or that’s what Renton tells himself.

Trainspotting is at times funny, at times simply disgusting and it has surprising moments of senisitivity and clarity buried along the way. It’s not the best book ever, but it is very strong.

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Allegiance of Honor (Nalini Singh)

Allegiance of Honor is the 15th Psy-Changeling novel by Nalini Singh. It concludes the first “season” of the series, with the second season known as the Psy-Changeling-Trinity-Series.
Finished on: 17.2.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

The Trinity Accord between Psy, Changeling and Humans is supposed to be a stabilizing factor that brings the world together after Silence has fallen. But not everybody is happy with that solution. The symbol for the new world order is Naya, the daughter of Lucas Hunter – leopard changeling and leader of DarkRiver, one of the biggest changeling groups – and Sascha – cardinal empath psy and the first to publically defect from Silence. So the Consortium – Trinity’s biggest opponent – want to kidnap her. But Naya is not the only (proposed) victim. Many changelings have already gone missing, especially the loose-knit water changelings. When a new clue to the disappearance of one of them appears, water changeling alpha Miane asks the other changeling DarkRiver and SnowDancer for help.

Allegiance of Honor deviates a little from the usual Psy-Changeling formula (and it is a formula) as it is an ensemble book. And I have to say, I greatly enjoyed the look back at many of the characters that haven’t featured so prominently since their own books.

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Third Degree (Greg Iles)

Third Degreee is a novel by Greg Iles.
Finished on: 11.2.2017

Laurel used to have an affair with Danny, who is also married, but they couldn’t keep it up any longer and ended things recently – only for Laurel to discover that she’s pregnant. And has a migraine coming. But that is the least of her problems when she gets home and finds her husband Warren in a deadly, cold rage. For some reason, he took apart the living room and has discovered that Laurel had an affair and he desperately needs to find out who with. Their talk quickly dissolves into a hostage situation and Laurel’s only chance is the secret cell phone with which she can contact Danny. 

Third Degree is a decent thriller. It’s not the best thing ever, but it draws you in and keeps you turning those pages. I enjoyed reading it.

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Happy Baby (Stephen Elliott)

Happy Baby is a novel by Stephen Elliott.
Finished on: 1.2.2017

36-year-old Theo returns to Chicago after many years to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Maria – the starting point to a trip backward in time through Theo’s more than difficult upbringing. In short scenes we move from the unhappy submissive adult Theo has become to the happy baby he used to be.

Happy Baby is a difficult book because it tells such a difficult story. And while I appreciated much about it, it didn’t quiet reach me in a way it could have.

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The Spellman Files (Lisa Lutz)

The Spellman Files is the first novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 26.1.2017

After a rough youth, Izzy Spellman has found her perfect job, her calling: she’s a private investigator to her very core. The only drawback is that it’s the family business. Her parents are private investigators. Her little sister Rae is only fourteen but already training very hard to be one. Only her brother chose a different way to go: he became a lawyer – and a perfectly law-abiding one at that. But when Izzy’s parents set Rae to spy on Izzy (to find out the identity of her new boyfriend), Izzy has had it with the other Spellmans and she leaves the agency and her home. But when Rae goes missing, she can’t stay away anymore.

I remember grabbing the book from a second hand shop bargain bin quite on a whim. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time, and every once in a while I would take it up and wonder why I bought it in the first place – it just isn’t what I usually read. This spring I moved, and I figured, I’d start reading the book to see whether it would make the move with me. And I have to say that I was absolutely pleasantly surprised. The Spellman Files is funny and fast-paced and an entertaining delight to read.

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The Night Eternal (Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan)

The Night Eternal is the third novel in The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Finished on: 22.1.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other two books.]

Plot [with SPOILERS for the previous books]:
It’s been two years since the Master’s plan was made reality and the earth has sunken into nuclear winter. Now there are only a few hours every day where the sunlight is strong enough to keep vampires from venturing outside; and most of humanity is enslaved. Nevertheless, there are still pockets of human resistance. Ephraim Goodweather is keeping his distance from the rest of his group, though, consumed by his alcoholism and the search for his son Zach who was adopted by the Master. Meanwhile, Vasiliy Fet and Nora Martinez are trying to decipher the Occido Lumen, an old book that may hold the key to their salvation.

The Strain was a strong start to the trilogy, The Fall a disappointing middle and now The Night Eternal is the really bad conclusion. Any charm that still carried over from The Strain to The Fall was lost for me in The Night Eternal.

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