May 13, 2019

Book Recommendations May 2019

Folks, there is so much going on right now in our private lives (side jobs, vacations, flat hunts, sick children…) that it was a slog to prepare the newsletter for May, but done at last! A little late and a little paltrier than usual, but here we are.
So as you know we had Cory Doctorow here and that was awesome. We have one more international event coming our way, and that one is with Brandon Sanderson on Tuesday May 14th (reading starts at 7 pm at Lettrétage - Mehringdamm 61). Since presumably it will be packed and we strongly suspect that Lettrétage will be bursting at the seams, Brandon and Heyne-Verlag decided to make a little signing at the bookstore before the event, so everybody interested gets the chance to meet him. If you have not had the opportunity to get a reservation or you cannot come in the evening, you can drop by the shop in the afternoon, where Brandon Sanderson and his marker will be waiting for you from 3.30 pm on.
Next Otherland Book Club session deals with horror again; we will be talking about Michael McDowell’s The Elementals, a haunted house-southern gothic merger that will not only scare you, but will often will make you smile and ponder. Meeting is Friday May 24th, begins as usual at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookshop. There's always snacks and drinks that you don't have to pay for, contributions are welcome. You never need to sign up to join us, but we appreciate it greatly that you do read the book if you're coming.
Enjoy our recommendations for May!

Science Fiction

Tiamath’s Wrath by James Corey
orbit Euro 30,00

The Expanse is a lottery-win - this is more or less what Ty Franck said when he was in the Otherland for a reading a couple of years ago. Having been made into a TV show and a successful one at that, is like winning the lottery over and over again. It’s impossible. But the Expanse series by Ty and Daniel earns it with every page. Tiamath’s Wrath, book 8 in the Expanse-Universe is no exception. The Expanse expanded truly beyond imagination with all the gates opening up ways into this universe and with the absolute rule taking a grip on the future. Can you imagine the outcome? I can’t and I enjoy it a lot :)

The Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson
orbit Euro 15,99

The Wormwood Trilogy continues at last: same universe, same problems, even the same characters to some extent, but yet different. Thompson continues to hypnotize his readers with his usual clear-cut style, the non-linear narrative, but with fresh blood and pace!
In Insurrection the focus is on Aminat. I hear you cheering already, don’t I? I am strongly guessing that she was not only my favorite character in Rosewater. To top the coolness Thompson wants to send her into space(!), but then she is assigned to solve a different kind of mystery. Apart from familiar faces like Kaaro, Femi and Molara, there is Alyssa, who one day mysteriously wakes up without any memory and Eric, an S45 agent who fails at his mission of killing the politically “problematic” Jack Jacques. Alien-enhanced fighting matches, even more freaky “reconstructed”s such as Barry the bartender whose third eye in the pit of his throat occasionally weeps (!) and insane new alien creatures - Thompson is really spicing it up this time, awesome!
On a side note: Tade Thompson’s Rosewater has been nominated for the Arthur C. Clark Award, we cross our fingers for him![İnci]

Moderan by David R. Bunch
nyrb Euro 16,95

Kaboom! Men made of steel with just enough flesh to still be called human. And all they do is plotting war and domination. Sounds like heaven for warmongers. So if you wonder why the f*** should you read this book, just sneak peek into the introduction by Jeff Vandermeer. Enough said. READ IT!

A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy by Alex White
orbit Euro 15,99

Following up on A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy is part two of the Salvagers-Series with book three The Worst of All Possible Worlds yet coming up.
If you are an SF-Techie-Kind-Of-Purist you might have a problem from the start: there is magic. Everywhere. And yes, it’s still a space opera. Anyone ever read Metropolitan by Walter John Williams? Amazing worldbuilding with fast paced SF and dripping with magic (and yes, I am a SF-purist who hates the mix … normally). So: Burnout Scavenger-girl gets a hint to a real treat: a lost Superwarship. And: Space-Race girl framed for a murder. Mix them up on a spaceship called "Capricious" et voilà …
With A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy we enter a new chapter and new story with the same characters and new adventures, powerful magic and people from the past. Thumbs up if you want to be entertained!



Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield
tor Euro 15,99

When it comes to original premises, Heartfield surely takes the cake. After the exceedingly witty tale of a group of widows challenging hell in a Belgian town in the middle ages (Armed in Her Fashion), Heartfield now gives us three super interesting female protagonists: highway robber Alice, time travelling secret agent Prudence and the ingenious inventor Jane Hodgson. I have to add that it didn’t exactly spark off my enthusiasm, which has nothing to do with the book itself - I just can’t stand time travel stories, it’s not mine at all. And the topic time travel happens to prevail at least in this first part of the series.
But hey, Alice Payne HAS arrived and it seems like she’ll be here for a while! The second part of the series Alice Payne Rides is already available at the Otherland, so better get used to her.

Circe by Madeline Miller
bloomsburry Euro 15,95

If you are nuts for truly good mythology like me, this one is really for you. One of the great novelisations of a classic ancient myth around Titans and Gods in Ancient Greece.
I am not the biggest fan of Greek Mythology, but this one was really well told. And it makes you think about the value and worth of mortality and how much what we do and who we love actually matters.
If you need a page-turner for an upcoming vacation or long weekend, go for this one. Also of course, you want to show up at work tired, because you stayed up all night reading :)

Seven Layers of Solitude by Olaf Lillian&Rui Guerra
Monsieur Komodo, Deigma Euro 15,00

Every once in a while a genuinely special book comes along. And this is it. The prose, the plot, the illustrations - plain marvellous...
Yes indeed did it come along - Olaf walked in one day and asked if we would like to look at his work and maybe sell it in the Otherland. I told him to leave one with us and that Jakob will have a look at it. And, as it is habit in the Otherland, we forgot. But he asked again. And I asked Jakob again. Olaf got in contact with Jakob. And now we sell Seven Layers of Solitude. :)



Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore
tor Euro 14,99

The mysterious band Beautiful Remorse appears out of nowhere. The tracks they gradually and premeditatedly release have an unusual effect on their listeners, to put it mildly - and not always for the good. Protagonist is a music blogger who sets off to resolve the enigma this music is and discovers something interesting.
Let us first focus on the good aspects here: the concept is not completely uninteresting and washed out, there are some fairly funny moments and I actually quite like the ending.
Unfortunately that’s it, the glass does not get fuller than that!
There are few people who can master the short form and the shorter formats can be especially impactful in horror. Take for instance T.E.D. Klein, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Clive Barker, Mary Gaitskill and so on... Alas, not here. My opinion is that this story would have worked better with more buildup. Maybe your favorite band cannot save you, but longer mock-descriptions of the music blogger scene, more background for Airee McPherson, emphasizing the final lovecraftian elements and a longer form could have saved this book.
Speaking of which: Tor, 15,99 for 127 pages, really? Is it written in gold? I understand these wildly popular new novellas are meant to be sold as ebooks primarily and not in print form - so why print them at all if they will cost an arm and a leg? I don’t understand... We have had many customers complaining about the price of novellas and I cannot say I blame them.

Horror people! The 2018 Shirley-Jackson-Award-Finalists have been announced and I really needed to shake a leg to stock up the missing titles!
So for those of you who go by awards, here are the new titles that are nominated for the SJA that we stocked last week :

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson,
In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey,
and Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton.
More reviews will follow in upcoming newsletters!

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey
Harper voyager Euro 18,10

I wanted to postpone the Shirley-Jackson reviews to next newsletters but a short peek into “In the Night Wood” turned into an unstoppable read that extended over an insomniac Saturday night, so thought I might as well review it here and now.
I was wonderfully, positively surprised by this book! As I mentioned before, we have a few horror regulars whose opinion I hold dear - recently (even before its nomination was announced) some of them came in, gushing about this particular book and when more than one people come in and recommend us a book, that is invariably always a good sign.
The story follows the American failed scholar Charles Hayden, who has to face a rough patch in his life but hopes for a new beginning when his wife Erin inherits an old house in the English countryside. It is worth mentioning that his wife is the descendant of the author of a deeply intriguing book that has equally enchanted and disturbed Charles in his childhood, and which was coincidentally written in this house. They soon discover that the place contains more than they have bargained for.
Although the main premise of a haunted house is as old as, well, haunted houses themselves I guess, still Bailey mashes your usual scary place with various -many- other creepy topics (the enchanted forest, a magical book, a scary god, the creepy kid) in such a good and consistent way that the resulting combination feels nothing but right. His tremendously beautiful prose and the immersive psychological tension are the salt and pepper of this fairytale of a different, a darker kind.
I had never heard of Bailey before but if this is what his writing is like, I want more!

Our Best-Seller-List April'19
1 Cixin Liu, Jenseits der Zeit
2 Walter Moers, Der Bücherdrache
3 Michael Marrak, Der Garten des Uroboros
4 Michael McDowell, The Elementals
5 Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
6 Kate Mascarenhas, The Psychology of Time Travel
7 Cixin Liu, Die Drei Sonnen
8 Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman
9 James Corey, Persepolis erhebt sich
10 Octavia Butler, Kindred

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