Rounding Up My Autumn Reading: Reading Through The Foggy Days

It is time to look back at the past months, and sift through my reading list. In autumn I was once more put into home office for a short period of time - this always has an impact on my reading process because I mostly read during my commute. 

Nevertheless, as people baked cookies and prepared for the cold days, I read 7 books. 2 of those were in German, and  3 were given to me in exchange of an honest review. As usual, these are marked with an *. 

Photo by Dina Nasyrova 


The Stag God* 

by J. O. Phael 

This is the first book in the "A Caradoc & Henshall Mystery" series, and as such it first introduces the main characters to us by giving them a mystery to work out: Brodie takes a holiday on the Isle of Skye when a earthquake hits, resulting in the death of a passerby. He soon teams up with local police officer Mathias, but as it turns out the solution is anything but simple. As the story progresses, more and more paranormal events start to unfold. 

Personally, I really enjoyed the dynamic of the main characters, as well as the atmosphere Phael created: a mixture of The X-Files, and Rivers of London. Furthermore, Phael creates a lovely beginning of a potential partnership between Brodie and Mathias, I am very much looking forward to where this is going. 

Sadly, "The Stag God" also has downfalls. The biggest is that it feels like 0,5 book of the series, as the main plot is rather weak and it is mostly about introducing the characters to the reader. Nevertheless, for a first book in the series, it is enjoyable to read and I look forward to the next part in the installment. In the meantime, you can read my full review here - where I elaborate on these points further. 

Piranesi 

by Susanna Clarke 


One of the things I love about Susanna Clarke is that she just lives her life, and from time to time she crawls out of her cave and publishes a new book that is going to blow you away. With "Piranesi" she has done this again. 

The story is set in a strange house with countless of halls, and our protagonist lives in this world. It is his whole world. There are a few skeletons and The Other. As the story progresses Piranesi is faced with having to watch his world turn upside down.

What I love about this story is how it was written: Clarke chose the point of view of Piranesi, and given her other stories you wonder if it is even routed in the reality as "ours" or if it is a completely different world. Maybe something happened more than 100 years ago that caused this ... or maybe there is another explanation ... you are left in this grey bubble for as long as the main character is, there are only small hints. Even as the plot unfolds, not everything can be explained away with logic. 

I really enjoyed reading "Piranesi" and I am glad that Clarke left her cave once more to bestow us this gift. It handles themes like betrayal and home in a very human way, at the same time the book never looses its magical touch. 


Halo* 

by Olga Gibbs 

While I started reading one book series, I also finished reading one: The Celestial Creatures series finds its end with "Halo." 

Due to the make-up of the book, I can't tell anything about the plot without spoilers. However, let me say this, "Halo" is a worthy conclusion to the series, and it encompasses every value and question that has been raised by the series so far: desperation, being indomitable and how hard it is, compassion, love, and how far you can go for it, being morally grey, and just trying to find your way in a harsh world. 

I wrote a full review close to its release back in November - it is also spoiler free. Enjoy reading! 



The Invisible Orientation 

by Julie Sondra Decker 

.... is a non-fiction book that deals and explains all things asexual. It consists of five chapters: "Asexuality 101", "Asexual Experiences", "The Many Myths Of Asexuality", "If You're Asexual (Or Think You Might Be)", and "If Someone You Know Is Asexual (Or Might Be)". 

It covers almost any aspects of the asexual experience, as well as, giving allosexuals a handy guide and answering any question that may have sprung up in this world in regards of asexuality. There is a heavy focus on asexuality and navigating romantic relationships with people who are not, while the aromantic orientation is dealt with within a few pages.  

Even though, this is a non-fiction book the writing is not academic - but the numbers and facts are always sourced - so everyone can understand what is being written. I feel that it is a great go-to book for anyone who has stumbled over the word, didn't understand it and wants to learn more now.


Die Reise ins Licht 

(orig.: К свету | engl. transl.: Towards The Light) 

by Andrej Djakow 

This is me, being back in my Metro 2033 phase ... I decided to try one of the "Universe of Metro" books, and picked the "Dunkelheit" (Darkness)  trilogy that takes place in St. Petersburg. So far, none of these books have been translated into English, thus I read them in German. 

12-year-old Gleb is thrown into the middle of an adventure when he is picked up as a new trainee by Taran - a legendary stalker. Together with other stalkers, they are trying to answer the question where the light in Kronstadt is coming from. This means a dangerous expedition from the comforts of the metro to the deadly surface. 



Unlike Glukhovsky's metro books, this is much more focused on action, and dealing with mutants. Even so, it has not forgotten its roots, and still paints the world as bleak and dangerous. Nevertheless, there are funnier moments, which mostly stem from Gleb having been born inside the metro. Particularly noteworthy for me was his confusion that the big houses at the outskirts of Petersburg must belong to the poor because that's how it works in the metro. I also enjoyed the way Gleb struggled and grew through the journey. Furthermore, there is a lovely plot twist towards the end, and a second one after this one. 

Overall, it reads like an action/thriller novel set in the post-apocalyptic worlds of 2033. 


The Mortician's Daughter* 

by Nan Higgins


Aria's whole life turns upside down when it becomes apparent that she has inherited a gift that helps her to see the dead. From now on she has a responsibility to help and guide them to the next "world." In order to do this, she has to devote her whole life to training. However, this is not what Aria wants, she had very different plans and things become much more different when a ghost won't stop following her ... 

This book was given to me in exchange of an honest review and sat on my list for quite some time. I must admit that I did not miss much. Overall, the idea is a lot of fun and has great potential but Higgins has not made the best of it. Aria does not feel like a 22 year old woman but rather like 16, the plot is a bit flimsy and does not grip you. Furthermore, there are plot holes which come from a rushed ending. 

I am glad that I read it, but mostly because I don't like dragging to do's into the next year ... 

A full review is going to be available in January



Die Reise in die Dunkelheit

(orig.: Bo Mpak | engl. transl.: Into The Darkness ) 

by Andrej Djakow 

And we are in the second part of the St. Petersburg trilogy! I must admit that I liked this one even better than the first. 

"Die Reise in die Dunkelheit" deals with the attack onto the island of Maly and there is only one possible suspect: The inhabitants of Piter's Metro. So they give the whole metro an ultimatum: either they find whoever dropped the bomb or one station after another is going to be flooded with mustard gas. Without meaning to, Taran is chosen as the person to lead the investigation. However, Taran's mind is preoccupied. Someone kidnapped Gleb and he wants to do everything in his power to get his son back! In doing so, he uncovers the biggest secrets within the metro.

This one involved mystery, a bit of action but was also so so very human. You are treated with the POVs from both Gleb and Taran, and yet neither spoils the story for the other. Djakow always cuts off at the right moment and still leaves you wondering what happened to the other. Surely, he can't be dead?! 

It was also adorable to hear how fond Taran grew of Gleb and the reverse is true as well. It offered new insight into his character. Furthermore, I really enjoyed how Taran just seems to adopt kids as he goes along. 

What I found particularly fascinating was that this novel picks a similar topic as Metro 2035 - a sinister superpower watching and partly controlling the metro in secret. However, comparing these two and how they deal with it, is not easy. Since Glukhovsky writes more philosophical, and Djakow is far more action orientated - which in turn makes it easier to read but tempts you to gloss over the implication. 

The story even concludes the same, that they want to leave and find a livable place on the surface. This comes as hardly a surprise since the prior story already established that non-toxic land exists far sooner and also that they are not the only survivours of the apocalypse. However, the tone is completely different. It feels optimistic, after all it is their own choice, and makes you look forward to the next part! 

With that I am going off to the Christmas holidays! And I wish you all happy holidays and chocolate days. Stay safe! 

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