Bookish Winter Wonder Land: My Winter Reading

With cold and dark days, winter is the perfect season to curl up on the sofa, put a warm blanky over your legs and get lost in a good book. And now, with the days getting longer and the snow melting away, it is time to round up in which books I lost myself in that season.

Photo by FOX from Pexels
Despite it being the "perfect" season for reading, I only managed to read 8 books - 3 were given to me in exchange of an honest review. Those are marked with an * as always. The first of the season was:

The Terror 

... which is a fitting read for winter. The Terror is a fictional novel that follows the tragic Franklin Expedition to find the North West Passage. They get stuck in pack ice and after two winters the ships are still not moving and during this time they are plaqued with various sicknesses, and The Thing On The Ice that keeps murdering the crew one by one. This novel is also the basis of the 2018 TV show "The Terror".

However, the relations are ... minor. The book is a mere shadow of the TV show. I felt that the reading was tough going at times and very dry. Simmons pays very little attention to emotions but gives a lot of it to factual details, one can not accuse him of not having done his research.

As for reading, that makes it into a longer read that drags on. Furthermore, the characters don't feel flesh out. Some are just there and names, while the rest is almost stereotypical. And don't get me starting on Simmons' writing of women ... either women are always evil, selfish, or innocent virgins. I had hope that this might be to fit the ideas of the time - Victorian England was anything but nice to women. However ... I get the strong feeling that it was not.

Personally, if you do fancy a story line that follows the Frankin Expedition ... watch the TV show instead.

The Complete Book Of Ferns*

... is exactly what it says on the tin. It promises to widen your knowledge of ferns and it does. Not only does it list an extensive number of ferns to choose from and where to grow them - indoor? Outdoor? Humid climate? Cold climate? It contains tips for indoor fern owners, as well as a trouble shooting guide. There is also a list of creative ideas of what you can do with your ferns aside from putting them into a pot.

Furthermore, the information is broken up with beautiful photos. It is a review copy that I would get in a heartbeat for myself.

Esme's Gift*

This is the second part in the Esme Series and the story picks up right where part one had left. This time Esme is determined to help her mother and start a new life in Aeolia. As she starts the new school year, there is another new student and Esme can't help but be suspicious of him

Overall, "Esme's Gift" is a worthy continuation of the series, it completes the story with her mother and touches on topics such as history and racism in a way that younger teenager would also understand. However, while reading I couldn't shake the feeling that it felt more like three parallel plots running alongside rather than one that comes together. Some questions where left unanswered but I am calling "next part" on those faults because I believe that these stories will come to a conclusion in the next part.

All The Light We Cannot See

... follows Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner Pfennig, a German boy, for several years during WWII and how their lives were impacted and developed during the period of the war.

This novel also became the first Book Club read for the year and for personal reasons, I feel that this book is harder to review. After all the holocaust is a sensible topic in my country, I grew up in Austria and was shown the grueling sides in depth and detail in order to make sure that such things would never happen again. Furthermore, in school we talked at length to answer the question "how can such a thing happen?" This is also a question that is being answered in "All The Light We Cannot See" with Werner's story line who grew up in Nazi Germany and it was all the life he had ever known. Doerr also didn't make Werner into a villain, in the way that I would expect it.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
However, while reading "All The Light We Cannot See" I could not shake the feeling that it was written by someone who had no emotional connection to it, who wasn't highly sensiblised to the topic, and who probably didn't visit a KZ. The only thing I can give Doerr is that he wrote a novel about WWII that did look at the "other side" and the impact it had on society on both sides. At the same time, I couldn't shake the feeling that he could have literally chosen any other war to put the story in because he only uses a war to fit his story and doesn't care about the roots for it. I also found this opinion reflected in many German reviews as well.

I don't want to rate this book because its "romanticizing" of this period of time affects me on a personal and emotional level, so I can't be objective even if the writing style is generally sound.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

This is my forth asexual book that I held in my hands, and this time we follow Tash for a whole summer. This summer is a summer full of change: her webseries starts to pick up, her sister leaves for college, and her parents have another baby. All in all, "Tash Hearts Tolstoy" feels more like a coming of age novel than an asexual read. The novel just happens to have a character who is ace and that's all there is to it.

I also feel that it has one of the best asexual representations because while Tash learns a lot about life in that summer her identity as an asexual never changes. Which is nice, especially when I compare it with a book that also follows a coming of age style. But you can read more about all of this in my full review! 

Non-Binary Lives*

"What does it meant to be non-binary?"

That is the question that this book is trying to answer. The approach that it chooses is by sharing essays from non-binary people all over the world. This way, you get an insight into different lives, what gender means to them, and how being non-binary interacts with their surrounding. In doing so, it covers almost every aspect from autistic NB, to fat NB and many more.

This gives a great overview of how diverse the non-binary community is, and that it is not straight cut - pun not intended - and that there is no "typical" non-binary person.

Katz und Maus

orig.: Cat and Mouse

I picked up this short-story because I wanted to read a book in German again and I enjoyed Simon Beckett stories back in the day. Thus, could I go wrong with this one?

Well, for one, it is not a full and fleshed out story. Instead it is only 60 pages long and as such the story is short. Even so the reveal is not as exciting as I would expect coming from Simon Beckett. As well as the interlude of the cat. In the end, it is a little disappointing. Furthermore, the writing lacks part of its usual bite. So only a sad two flowers here ...

Tod in Baden

transl. "Death in Baden" 

Since Simon Beckett didn't quite work out - see above - and I finished it all during one train ride, I walked into the book shop at the train station to look for a suitable replacement. And behold, I found a book by an Austrian author - Beate Maly - which played in the town I was born in and spent a big part of my life there - Baden.

The best thing about this is, that the gamble paid of. "Tod in Baden" is the 4th part of the "Ernestine Kirsch und Anton Böck" series, two pensioners who just happen to stumble upon crimes as they go about. This is more due to Ernestine being more curious than it is good for her. In "Tod in Baden", they go on a spa trip in Baden - a city famous for it, and then a murder happens ...

I really loved the book. Not only did it feel accurate, it was also lovely to read about Baden and notice all the details that Maly got right: the sulfur smell that stinks but after a while you don't even notice - until this very day, I still don't notice it -, the Badner Bahn, as well as the hotel she picked that exists in real life as well. Furthermore, the characters are so adorable and charming. I really love how much of a grump Anton is. The murder is also well done, and it is just the right amount of guessing along the way until the final reveal.

For anyone who speaks German, or learns it at the moment, I can recommend this novel a lot. I am going to start reading the rest of the series as soon as the shop open again!

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

This is a short book that contains a few essays by Murakami about his thoughts on running. They are also very personal, so it is not a motivational book or one that is meant to convince you or others to start jogging right now. Instead Murakami simply shares what running means to him and the experiences he has had: in races, in life, how running helped him shape him into the person he is today, and how much he depends on it for a clean state of mind.

Overall, this is a really enjoyable read and I'd recommend it to anyone who is also a runner. Especially because it explores something about running that I never really though of before.

This marked my reading for the cold of winter, and now it is time to set further bookish steps into spring. I want to pick up a few more ARCs again but at the same time, if they don't come my way that is all right as well. And as already mentioned, I really want to start reading the "Ernestine Kirsch und Anton Böck" from the beginning.

What are your reading goals for spring? Let me know! 


  1. Usually I know at least some of the books you write about, but this time: nothing. The Murakami one sounds very interesting though. I'm gonna keep it in mind for my dad's next birthday. He's obsessed with running and reading.

    x Envy
    Lost in Translation

    1. Well, I am always happy to provide a surprise :) Yes, get it for your father, I thought it was a really interesting read, and I hope he enjoys it as well.


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