When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (Nghi Vo)

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.

The book cover showing three painted tigers walking down towards a hill or mountain.
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Re-Read: Tintenblut (Cornelia Funke)

Tintenblut, translated as Inkspell, is the second book in the Inkworld Trilogy by Cornelia Funke.
Finished on: 9.9.2021
[Here’s my review of the first book.]
[Here’s my first review of this book.]

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.

The book cover showing a mosaic of illustrated letters like at chapter beginnings. There's also twi figures under a tree at night, a portrait of a lady, the toers of a castle, a bird sitting on an open book, and a few figures around an open fire in the forest.
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Die verdammte Karte: Dawid vs. Goliath (J.S. Hartmann)

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.

The book cover is drawn like a playing card with white lines on black background. We can see the King of Diamonds, holding a card that shows himself in one hand and a pocket watch in the other. He is wearing a top hat and a monocle and mirrored at the waist.
(c) Chaos Pony Verlag
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Queer*Welten 04/2021

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.

The magazine cover showing an illustration drawn with biro of two circles that seem mirror images at first, but differ when you look closely at them. They show rivers, plants, insects and fish.
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Cry of the Firebird (Amy Kuivalainen)

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.

The book cover showing a stylized silver firebird on a blue, starry background.
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Ruin and Rising (Leigh Bardugo)

Ruin and Rising is the third novel in the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.
Finished on: 29.7.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other two novels.]

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.

The book cover showing the shape of a phoenix or firebird in red colors on a black background.

[SPOILERS]

Read more, with SPOILERS

Re-Read: Tintenherz (Cornelia Funke)

Tintenherz, translated as Inkheart, is the first novel of the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke.
Finished on: 26.7.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Meggie and her bookbinder father Mo have always lived rather withdrawn lives surrounded by books. When a stranger shows up on their doorstep one night and introduces himself as Dustfinger, it’s clear that he is actually an old acquaintance of Mo’s. He warns of Capricorn and his men who are coming for Mo, and the very next day, Meggie and Mo pack their stuff and head towards her greataunt Elinor, Dustfinger in tow. Elinor lives even more withdrawn and with even more books. But danger follows them even there because there is something that Mo can do and that Capricorn desperately needs.

Tintenherz is a book for people, especially kids, who really do love books and reading. Not just because of the contents of the book, but also because it’s not a quick read and you need some patience to read it. But I think it pays off.

The book cover showing a mosaic of illustrated letters like at chapter beginnings. There's also a castle, shadowy figures in front of a fire, an open book and a weasel standing on a book.
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Queer*Welten 03/2020

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 3 contains two short stories, a comic, an essay and a mix of several short pieces in different forms about heroes.
Finished on: 12.7.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other issues.]

The third issue of Queer*Welten collects yet again different perspectives and voices within SFF that both talk about and show how different SFF could be if it wasn’t just a white cis dude club. I really like how they always manage to include so many different facets of the issues they talk about – this issue is no different in that regard, but a lot different from what SFF often offers.

The magazine cover showing a drag queen astronaut with blue skin.
Read more about each of the stories

Siege and Storm (Leigh Bardugo)

Siege and Storm is the second novel in the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.
Finished on: 11.7.2021
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
Alina and Mal have made their way across the True Sea where they hope to build a new life for themselves in anonymity and far from the Darkling. For a while, this works out. But the Darkling hasn’t given up on Alina and her powers, and he has gained some new powers himself. When he finds them in hiding, he brings them back to Ravka with the help of privateer Sturmhond – but not before taking a detour that will affect Alina and her powers even more.

I wasn’t absolutely enthusiastic about the first novel, and Siege and Storm engaged me on about the same level of enthusiasm. The book is a good read, but I had at least as many issues with it, as I enjoyed it.

The book cover showing a snakelike dragon in shades of turquoise on black background. Golden drops cover the page.

[SPOILERS]

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The Trouble with Time Travel (ed. by Catherine Valenti, Laurie Gienapp)

The Trouble with Time Travel is a short story collection edited by Catherine Valenti and Laurie Gienapp.
Finished on: 6.7.2021
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

I like time travel stories, so this anthology sounded very nice. As usual with anthologies, the quality between stories varies a little, though overall I’d say that it is pretty good, albeit not great, here. Definitely good enough to check it out – you’ll probably finde one or the other story you like here.

The book cover showing a man with a walking stick walking across a cloud towards a huge clock. Clouds, man and clock are all floating in the universe.
Read more about each of the stories