When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is a novella by Nghi Vo. It’s part of The Singing Hills Cycle, but stands alone. Finished on: 27.9.2021
Plot: The cleric Chih is on a story-gathering mission that brings them to a group of mammoth riders who promise to lead them across the mountain. But on their way, they get trapped by three hungry tigers. To keep the tigers from eating themself and their companions, Chih promises the tigers a story – the story of the scholar Dieu and her tiger lover Ho Thi Thao. As Chih spins their tale, the tigers do have some corrections to offer, though.
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is a beautiful, intricate piece of writing that I found absolutely lovely. I can’t wait to dive more into this world.
Plot: Jake has always been a ladies’ man, never the type to settle with anyone. It fits his lifestyle as the singer of a rock band, and it fits him, personally. But when his best friend Ari gets into an accident and ends up in the hospital, Jake is jolted from his non-committed life and has to confront the time another accident took his home away from him. Is it any wonder that he tries to find a bit of a distraction with Nicole, aka Arson Nic, abrasive roller derby queen? Before Jake can really decide whether Nicole is more than a distraction, he gets the once in a lifetime chance to go on tour, though – and that tour not only makes him think long and hard about where his home is, but also brings him to the Cherokee reservation where he grew up.
I was very pleasantly surprised by Up for Air, the first novel in the series, so I was really looking forward to The Road Home – and I was not disappointed. It’s a thoughtful book that lets Jake grow beautifully, and it’s also a sweet romance that I very much enjoyed.
Plot: Dustfinger has finally found somebody who promises to read him back into his book – Orpheus. Orpheus keeps his promise, but also double-crosses him. So Farid stays behind and the book falls into the hand of Mortola and Basta. Farid knows he has to catch up with Dustfinger to warn him, so he returns to Meggie who lives with her parents Mo and Resa, as well as her aunt Elinor and the reader Darius in Elinor’s estate. When Farid tells her about Dustfinger returning, Meggie is dead-set on going to the Inkworld herself – together with Farid, of course. But she’s not the only one looking for a way in. And once in, the Inkworld is not without its own dangers.
Much like the first novel, Tintenblut is not the easiest read and it does take a while to get through it (and that’s not just because it’s a pretty long book). But I did like how Funke continues her world and her characters. I’m looking forward to the grand finale.
Die verdammte Karte: Dawid vs. Goliath [literally: The Damned Card: Dawid vs. Goliath] is the first novel in the Die verdammte Karte trilogy by J.S. Hartmann. [As far as I know, there is no English translation yet.] Finished on: 6.9.2021 [I received a copy of this book to review, or, as they say in German, this post is Unbezahlte Werbung.]
Plot: Dawid is kind of famous in Russia – as a freeclimber, he has a very popular youtube channel where he climbs stuff, the higher the better, legality is optional. During his most recent endeavor, he falls, though – and wakes up in Germany instead of Russia, his legs buried in the asphalt of a busy road. Not surprisingly, this circumstance draws attention. On the one hand, there are Nora and Salim who work with Popov and who seem pretty worried about Dawid, but also don’t tell him much. On the other hand, there is the psychologist Dr. Manthey who Nora, Salim and Popov insist has sinister motives. Really, Dawid doesn’t want to know about magic or special abilities, he just wants to go home. But it doesn’t appear that he has this option anymore.
Die verdammte Karte: Dawid vs. Goliath is a good read with likeable characters in an interesting world. I enjoyed it – and I’m looking forward to the next installment that is due to be released soon.
Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 4 contains three short stories and an essay. Finished on: 23.8.2021 [Here are my reviews of the other issues.]
I’m not much of a magazine reader, but Queer*Welten is an absolutely lovely magazine that offers such a wide array of topics that I always find something in it that I love, and find more than a few somethings that I really like. This issue is no exception.
Plot: She is 18 years old, pregnant and works as a pizza delivery girl. Living with her mother and her boyfriend who seem way more excited about the baby than she is, she has no idea where to go from here. She doesn’t even want to think about it. Then she delivers a pizza one day to Jenny and her son. Something about Jenny’s apparently chaotic life and her ponytail draws her in, and Jenny, too, seems to take an interest in the “Pizza Girl”, as she calls her. She starts waiting and hoping for Jenny’s call to the pizza place every week – but soon that isn’t enough anymore.
Pizza Girl should be a heavy book but somehow Frazier manages to keep it light and quick despite the many difficult topics she touches on. While I appreciate that, I would have also liked to feel the heaviness a little more. That being said, it’s certainly a memorable novel and a very good debut that will stay with me.
The History of Bees is the first novel in the Climate Quartett by Maja Lunde. I read the German translation (Die Geschichte der Bienen) by Ursel Allenstein. Finished on: 9.8.2021
Content Note: misogyny
Plot: 1852, England. William is a biologist who dreams of studying bees. But after a professional setback, he hasn’t managed to get out of bed for months now. Maybe he’ll find new energy, though. 2007, Ohio, USA. George is a bee farmer, hoping that his son Tom will follow in his footsteps. Tom has other plans, though. 2098, China. Tao is one of many human pollinators, doing her best to fill in for the bees who disappeared and left agriculture and with it humanity in a life-threatening situation. But the work is hard and pay is meager.
The History of Bees is an okay read, at least once you get through the first half. While I found the topic interesting, the execution was difficult for me to enjoy.
Cry of the Firebird is the first novel in the Firebird Faerie Tales series by Amy Kuivalainen. Finished on: 5.8.2021 [I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]
Content Note: fatmisia, racial slur (g*psy)
Plot: Anya grew up right on the Russian-Finnish border with her grandfather. But he just passed away, and Anya is still reeling from the loss, and doesn’t really know where to go from here. An option she didn’t expect was that Tuoni, Finnish God of the dead would show up in person to leave her with hints about a magical world that her grandfather was somehow part of. And that Anya needs to become part of, too, and quickly before dark forces crosses through the border from Skazki – the border her grandfather maintained. The border she should be maintaining now. Fortunately Tuoni leaves her with a gift from her grandfather, and Anya soon finds not only danger, but also allies.
I really liked the setting of Cry of the Firebird, which was a bit like I thought the Grishaverse would be before I read it. The story didn’t work that well for me, though – but I do see potential that this series could grow.
Plot: As part of the Mercant family, Canto is well-connected and has always been protected by them – meaning that despite the fact that he doesn’t conform to Psy ideas of perfection as he’s a wheelchair user, he could still rise in the family ranks and is now in the unique positions to bring together a Psy designation that has been mostly forgotten: the anchors like him. One of those anchors is Payal Rao, tough CEO of the Rao family conglomerate and Canto know that he needs her cooperation to make his plan of an anchor union work. What he didn’t expect when they finally meet in person, was that he actually knows Payal from when they were children – and their old connection immediately comes back to life again.
Last Guard gives us quite a few new perspectives in a world that has been firmly established – not an easy thing to pull off without feeling shoehorned in, but Singh manages it. And I liked Payal and Canto, making the book a full success for me.
[Let me just take a quick moment to say that I can’t believe that I read 20 books in this series, not counting the short story collections, within well over a decade and I am still having fun with the series as a whole.]
Plot: The Darkling has taken over Ravka, and Alina, Mal and the handful of grisha who still remain had to go into hiding with the Apparat and his worshippers, a solution that is uncomfortable to say the least. Plus, Alina has other plans than to remain the Apparat’s protectee-slash-prisoner. She hatches an escape plan to look for Nikolai, hoping he is still alive, and to find the firebird, the third amplifier that should finally give her the strength to defeat the Darkling once and for all.
Ruin and Rising is a fitting ending for the trilogy in as much as it has just as many issues as the first two books and I never really grew to love it, although it was good enough to keep me reading.