Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Category: A Day in the Life of a Bookdragon Page 1 of 3

It’s that time of the month…

… when the leaves are falling and the temperatures dropping. Perfect time for a cuppa and a good book, right?

My highlight of September was T.J. Klune’s Under the Whispering Door, published 21 September 2021. It’s a book about grief, a book about death, but also about life. Instead of being dark and depressing, it is very uplifting. It feels like warm hugs and steaming mugs of tea. It also has a gorgeous cover.

I don’t have a lot of big reading plans for October. My kids will be away on holiday for ten days, mid-month. That’ll give me a lot of reading and crafting time. There’s Act II of The Sandman, for example, which should get me through the first stages of my jacket sewing project.

And, of course, there is the autumn TBR that wants to be read. I might eventually pick up Bardugo’s Ninth House; I think this has gathered the most dust since I bought it.

Mea culpa to all the fabulous translators out there

Or, why I don’t read translations from English and haven’t for nearly three decades.

Living in Germany means you get a lot of books in translation, just like films. There is no need for learning a foreign language, I can just go to the bookshop and get the desired book in my mother tongue. But, not all English books are being translated into German. Or sometimes it takes ages for a book to be translated. That latter one was the main reason I started reading books in English. I was tired of having to wait for years for the next instalment in a forensic thriller series. Since then I have read more books in English than I have ever read in German. However, today, the main reason for sticking to books in English is the quality of translations.

Being aware of the quality of translations has been part of my reading process ever since I finished my first full novel in English. Whenever I read a book in translation now (90% with my kids and that’s dwindling), I’m more often appalled at how bad some of the translations are, rather than surprised at how well some are done. I’m going to give you a few examples while I continue contemplating making this a Twitter #:

  • There is Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows tag line: No mourners, no funerals. In the German version “mourners” is translated as “Klageweiber” – professional female mourners lamenting the death of a person. I don’t think this is what Bardugo had in mind.
  • Hagrid and Harry are visiting vault 713 at Gringott’s which is 719 in the German version of the first Harry Potter book.
  • There are very diverse characters in some books, they start out as male and suddenly turn female when we get to their first names for the first time, or vice versa.
  • Or that time the translator misunderstood the British “V-sign” (flipping the bird; Americans need only one finger for this) and translated it into the victory sign, which gave the whole paragraph a very odd meaning.

I know that the casual reader might never spot any of the mistranslations, factual errors, cultural errors, or left out parts, nor notice the translator’s attempt(s) at improving the story. For me though, knowing the original text and then reading the translation, I’m often wondering whether the success or failure of a book or series of books at least partly depends on the quality of the translation. There are lots of good books/series out there with lots of fans and gazillion copies sold in the English speaking world, but the translations never really take off; or series fizz out after a few translated books. Publishing houses surely must be interested in the success of a book, considering they go to such lengths as to pay for a translation; meagre pays, as I am aware, translators aren’t well-paid at all. Why then don’t publishers try to make the translation as ‘perfect’ as possible? And trust me, I am fully aware of the fact that you just can’t translate every minute detail from one language to the other one; but does the book really have to sound as if Google Translate did most of the work?

I wrote that I am shying away from translations. Now I have to say, that with growing proficiency in English, even my children are turning their backs on translations. They have noticed that some are just atrocious (we should offer our annotated German copies to the publishing houses), or that they have to wait ages for a translation to come, or that some books won’t ever get a translation, or that some series are only translated up to a certain point and then no more book is forthcoming in German. So, they have decided to venture forth and read books in English. I’m actually very glad. This way we can buy more books, because we don’t have to have two copies of everything.

Sceptre Autumn Reading Program

Hello hello, season of cozy blankets, rain and tea. While not everyone has been waiting for you, we are certainly excited to get into full autumn mode. And since our summer reading lists were just so much fun to put together and worked exceptionally well, we decided to go ahead and come up with lists for autumn as well.

TheLadyDuckOfDoom:

  • Beowulf: A New Translation
  • A Question of Navigation
  • Dawnshard
  • Monstress Vol. 4
  • Escaping Exodus
  • American Hippo
  • The Dark Archive
  • Fortune’s Pawn
  • The Library of the Dead
  • Shards of the Earth

  • The Outside
  • Queen of Sorrow
  • The Last Continent
  • King of Thorns
  • The Calculating Stars
  • Neon Birds
  • The Unspoken Name
  • Die Türme von Eden
  • Chaos Vector
  • The Autumn Republic
  • Before They Are Hanged

TheRightHonourableHarpyEagle:

  • Velocity Weapon
  • Ninth House
  • Die Türme von Eden
  • In the Watchful City
  • A Letter to Three Witches
  • The Hemlock Cure
  • The Unbroken
  • The God of Lost Words
  • The Lady Astronaut of Mars
  • Inside Man
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built
  • Under the Whispering Door
  • Sea of Rust
  • The Red House Mystery
  • Driftwood
  • Unnatural Causes
  • Mrs England
  • Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
  • Pages & Co
  • Freshwater

TheMarquessMagpie:

  • Before They Are Hanged
  • Empire of the Vampire
  • Die Eroberung des Südpols
  • Drei Kameradinnen
  • Escaping Exodus
  • Stranger in a Strange Land
  • Inside Man
  • Shadow Captain
  • Finders Keepers
  • Eroberung
  • Drachensaat
  • Song of Susannah
  • Gingerbread
  • Das Erbe der Elfen
  • The Dark Vault
  • Medea
  • If You Go Down to the Woods
  • Zone One
  • Home Body
  • Windschiefe Geraden
  • The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
  • The Wych Elm
  • Des Teufels Gebetsbuch
  • Stories of Your Life and Others
  • Nur vom Weltraum aus ist die Erde blau

It’s that time of the month…

… when I am thinking about which skein of yarn I’ll have to turn into a pair of woollen socks, because it’s getting cold outside.

This summer hasn’t been very summery and it seems to have turned into autumn already. As I’ve mentioned last month already, this has definitely boosted my reading.

In August I read a lot of ARCs, see my quick reviews of a few of them here and here, and I re-read some comfort reads. That’s probably why I haven’t made any big reading plans for September so far. I have been thinking about making an autumn reading list though, I could add the few books left from my summer reading list. Planned for the immediate future is Pratchett’s Going Postal, since the #OokBOokClub on Litsy is discussing this next week. My other book club decided on reading Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, which is on the Booker longlist and supposed to be a very un-Booker book – so I’ve been told. It might very well be the first Booker book I’ll be reading.

What I’m longing to read is a book with a surprising plot twist. I can most often see a plot twist from miles away, despite lack of foreshadowing. That’s probably the current main reason why I’m re-reading books, or read romance novels; I know what I am in for and my brain can take a stroll for once. I am an over-thinker and I have a very hard time reading a book without thinking about its continuity, possible plot twists, etc. I am my own worst enemy, I spoil the plot/fun for myself. Most books I read this summer couldn’t surprise me. I’m not saying that they were bad, but once in a while I’d like to say “I did not see that coming!” Which book(s) surprised you with unexpected plot twists?

Better go do some stash diving for the perfect yarn. Can’t think of anything more relaxing than a comfort read on my headphones while I’m turning a ball of soft wool into a pair of reading socks right now. Even if I don’t encounter a plot twist in the book I’m listening too, I’m sure I’ll manage to twist the yarn I’m working with.

Summer Reading – 2 months later – Short Reviews

There was a draft of this post lingering here for a whole month, the first words had been typed here, left dangling. The state of my summer reading is comparable.

It take ages to read a book, mainly because I’m focusing on so many other things right now. But today is day 1 of my reading weekend, I have finished my current read and finally take some time to give you all an update. There were 29 books on my summer reading list, and I’ve read 14 of them. I don’t care if I will manage to read 15 books in a month (I probably won’t, but who knows). You can find our lists here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPlieZ_hTB7/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Making a reading list for the season has helped me tremendously with reading what I actually wanted to read, and helped me decide while still having the ability to choose. The unread books will go back on my TBR shelf and I will pick new ones for my autumn list. Nevertheless, I read a whole lot of books I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time:

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers: It only took the first chapter before I was hooked, like every other book by Becky Chambers, it was beautiful. The whole Wayfarer series can be read out of order, so if you see one in a bookstore, just grab a copy.

5/5 Duckies

Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather: Nuns at the edge of the universe in a living spaceship? Count me in. Great novella, and the sequel was just announced, too. Perfect time to go and read it, it’s a short read, too. A perfect weekend read!

5/5 Duckies

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo: I think everyone has heard of the Grishaverse by now. While I loved the Six of Crows duology, I hated the Sankta Alina books, because of Alina. The last book, King of Scars, was ok. This time though, the setting felt too much like WWI in disguise, with extra special effects for the Netflix show sprinkled on top. The Grishaverse ends here. For me at least.

3/5 Duckies

The Relunctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst: Book 2 of the Queens of Renthia surprised me. I liked the first one, but it had a certain YA feel to it. Book 2 drops all of that and becomes a beautiful fantasy story with characters of all ages and professions. Young Queens and mothers. The characters are fleshed out very well, and I do look forward to putting book 3 on my autumn TBR reading list.

5/5 Duckies

Now, I’m off to read The Library of the Unwritten, which is not on my Summer TBR List, but was specifically bought to celebrate my self-care reading weekend. TheRightHonorableHarpyEagle does recommend the series a lot: https://scepticalreading.com/2020/11/hells-librarian-is-a-badass/

Meanwhile, I am already pondering what to put on my autumn reading list. Any suggestions?

It’s that time of the month…

…when I am not thinking about much. School summer holidays are such a blissful time. No getting up at the break of dawn, no chasing the kids to bed at a certain time, and only a hand full of appointments to keep during the week.

You know what that means. Lots of time to spend with the kids and travel, or laze at the pool, and complaining about not getting enough pages read. Unfortunately, or fortunately?, the weather didn’t play along so far. We haven’t travelled much, but we’ve bought and read books. And yes, I have managed to read a lot this month; and bought a lot of books.

As you might have read already, I was time travelling a lot. But I’ve also read some romance, went to late 19th century England and Darjeeling with Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey to solve mysteries, and went to the moon to solve some kind of locked room – locked lunar station – mystery with Robinette-Kowal’s Lady Astronauts [review to come].

It’s no secret that I love words and their origins, yet my non-fiction read about the origins of Nine Nasty Words wasn’t what I expected. The fictional story about a girl growing up alongside the Oxford English Dictionary and noticing that not all words of the English language made the cut, though was fairly good. [Short reviews of both these books can be found in my Summer Reading List update.]

Right now I am learning about the language of cults with Amanda Montell’s Cultish. I enjoyed her Wordslut very much last year and so far, about 20% in, Cultish doesn’t disappoint either. I’ve managed to read the first paragraph of Karen Coles’ The Asylum, a book club read for August. And I’ve started on Joanne Harris’s Orfeia. Furthermore I still have a few St Mary’s stories ahead of me; sadly, only a few.

Plans for August? Reading! As I’ve mentioned in my Summer Reading List update, I have a few books to read from the list left – I managed to tick two more off, though. Although I have kept away from requesting more ARCs this month, I have been invited by publishers to review a few books – Thank you very much! – which I’ll try to get to in August. Emphasis on try. There’s the usual Pratchett book for the Litsy.com #OokBOokClub, which is still running until November 2023; we’re reading A Hat Full of Sky right now and will dive into Going Postal next. And then there are those books that are tempting me from the sidelines, or TheLadyDuckOfDoom’s and TheMarquessMagpie’s current reading lists.

What about you? Any good books read recently? Any bookish plans for the next month(s)?

Armchair Time-Travelling with St Mary’s #2 – or: Once I fall down a Rabbit Hole…

Dear Jodi Taylor, should St Mary’s need another Historian, please send me the link to where I can apply. Apart from an actual degree in History and being fluent in at least two languages, I bring the most essential prerequisites: I run on tea, sarcasm and inappropriate behaviour.

When I started readingthe first book in The Chronicles of St Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor, Just One Damned Thing After Another, I thought I’d just get it over with, get another eBook-ghost off #MountTBR. Boy, was I wrong!

I fell into the time travelling world of St Mary’s with its snarky characters and well-researched adventures like Alice fell down that rabbit hole. I literally had to scramble to come out for reality and other books. I ran through the first four books and some of the short stories in no time. Then forced myself to read something else, which I barely finished before I went back to St Mary’s.

When I had finished book eight, And the Rest is History, I knew I’d re-read the stories about Max and Leon and Peterson and Markham and the rest of St Mary’s motley crew. So I took the plunge and bought the full set of signed novels plus two short story collections from Jodi Taylor’s site. Not more than 2.5 days after I ordered, the fourteen books arrived. I greedily put my talons out to snap the box from the postman’s hands.

I’m feeling like a mix of Gollum and Smaug at the moment. My precious! My hoard! I might or might not have hugged the books before I made room on my shelf for the collection. Fourteen books. All signed by the author. All the same format, because they were published by the same publisher. It’s definitely Christmas come early for this book-dragon. [Pictures of my unboxing and shelf stacking can be found on Instagram.]

TheMarquessMagpie and TheLadyDuckOfDoom might follow me down this rabbit hole. They have both agreed that if a series is that much the-Rt.-Hon.-Harpy-Eagle-approved that said Harpy Eagle didn’t even blink once at the expenses of international shipping and customs (the UK is no longer part of the EU), it must be good. IT IS! Make yourself a large mug of tea and dive into this world. Trust me on this.

Sceptre Summer Reading List Update – The Rt. Hon. Harpy Eagle Edition

When I wrote that list, inspired by TheLadyDuckOfDoom’s example, I thought this would work the same way all of my attempts at TBRs do: down the drain within days. Fortunately, I was wrong. Now, about six weeks into my summer reading, I have only seven books left on the list; there were twenty-three to start with. Should be doable by the end of summer – when’s that exactly?

Did I really read all of the other books on the list to the last page? No, I bailed on two so far.

The first that I gave up on: Nine Nasty Words. I did not like the writing style, the hilariousness felt forced. Not to mention that my perception of what are nasty words is different from that of the author. I have a potty mouth IRL, but I am dialing it down for the people around me. Furthermore, I didn’t agree to the way some of the research was presented and what kind of conclusions the author drew. One of my issues was, e.g., that the author compared the spelling and use of that nasty F word at the times of William the Conqueror (that’s late 11th century for non-history nerds) to the spelling and use of its 20th century German counterpart. Poor form for a linguistics professor.

The second book I gave up on was The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking. I want it to be noted here that I did not give up because the book was bad, I gave up because I had somehow completely forgotten that the book was middle-grade. I might pick it up again at a later time, when I am in the mood for some really light reading.

Kit Rocha’s Deal with the Devil was absolutely not what I had expected. I thought I’d read about bad-ass mercenary librarians fighting for books. What I got was a dystopian romance with enhanced and cloned humans who have some sizzling between the sheets action.

The Dictionary of Lost Words, on the other hand, was really interesting. Based on historic events and the real events leading to the first publication of the Oxford English Dictionary, the author Pip Williams wove a fictional story about the forgotten female words in the dictionary. A story of growing up, of heartbreak, and finding your true self among the words of the dictionary.

Definite hits on my Summer Reading List have been The Calculating Stars, The Thief and Just One Damned Thing After Another. The only thing that kept me from binge-reading each of the series was starting the next series; which, of course, means that I got stuck on The Chronicles of St Mary’s with unfathomable consequences.

Now I am looking forward to the remaining seven books. I’ll be travelling to Mars (How To Mars) and outer space (Prime Deceptions), might meet the Rabbit Queen (Mary Toft; or the Rabbit Queen), learn about butterflies (The Butterfly Effect), and will hopefully find out who The Daughter of the Salt King is and Why Swearing Is Good For You, and eventually dive into the Octunummi. Not necessarily in this order, though.

It’s that time of the month…

… when the school summer holidays are within reaching distance and the weather is cold and wet. Perfect for getting some summer reading done, right? And definitely no worries about getting sunscreen on my pages. Okay, granted, it feels weird looking forward to having a hot tea rather than a cool drink when you’ve just turned the calendar over to July, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Speaking of summer reading, I’ve managed to clear a whooping eight books off my summer TBR already. Yes, that’s me, the person who can’t do TBRs. Well, I might have found the one form of reading list that I can actually stick to, a seasonal list that leaves a wide margin for mood picks. I’ve read

In addition to those eight books, I’ve read and listened, or skimmed, or bailed, 26 more books. Among those were sequels like The Fated Sky and The Queen of Attolia, but also lots of standalone thrillers, non-fiction books and romance novels. I’ve left a lot of reviews here on the blog.

The summer reading list is still on. I’m working on Deal with the Devil and The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking. In addition to that, Mount ARC has got a new layer of books to review. There’s Paper&Blood by Kevin Hearne, the sequel to Ink&Sigil, which I am really looking forward to. J.P. Oakes’ City of Iron and Dust keeps winking at me from my NetGalley shelf, too. It’s a good thing the summer holidays start tomorrow. I’ll put the kettle on, get the picknick blanket and enjoy my armchair travels.

It’s that time of the month…

… when I wonder how I can avoid getting sunscreen onto my books. It is a serious problem, you know. What with the sun suddenly appearing and reading outside being much more attractive. And then there is lotion on my hands that makes turning the pages difficult and leaves oily marks on the covers and pages.

May was a very good reading month, I didn’t think so on the outset, but I managed to read a whooping twenty-seven books. I went to Victorian London, England, Paris, Italy, … with the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas (five books, so far) and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series. Spent time in space with a Murderbot short story, Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera; and time on distopian Earth with Valente’s The Past Is Red and Django Wexler’s Hard Reboot. Not to forget, my time in an alternate history Cairo of the early 1900s, where djinn are part and parcel of the steampunkish city: P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn. All these armchair travels were interspersed with some YA reads, some contemporary romance, a rather dull trip to the French Revolution, and the May Sceptre Buddyread.

So?! Where am I going to travel to in June? I have absolutely no clue yet. I might continue reading Victorian era mysteries, might crawl into a fantasy world, might travel in space. Or I might stay here on Earth and read a lot of non-fiction. What I know is, the Sceptres have each compiled a summer reading list. We’ll keep you updated on how exceedingly well sticking to these TBRs goes in the next weeks – watch our Instagram, Twitter and our individual Litsy accounts, apart from this place here.

Right this moment my currently reading shelf holds a few ongoing and hibernating buddyreads with my kids, as well as a book about swearing – a linguistic pet project of mine – Nine Nasty Words by John McWhorter, a contemporary romance, another cozy Victorian mystery with Lady Julia Grey (s.a.), and Kit Rocha’s Deal with the Devil.

Those are, of course, just a few of the books I am trying to read/ignore in June. Whatever books I will choose in the end, will certainly depend on how well they can handle the generous amounts of SPF 1.000 lotion I am using; ’cause this Harpy Eagle has Scandinavian (book) dragon skin.

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