The Books I Read in November 2021

I read only 5 books in November. Not many considering how much I bing-read over the previous months. Then again, “Dune” is a far longer novel and I didn’t read much during Thanksgiving week. The quality of the 5 books was also mixed: three were great, two quite awful. Let’s go into more detail:

The Books I Read in November 2021 | janavar

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Frank Herbert: Dune

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for…
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

We first watched the movie and then I read the book. I usually prefer this order because there are so many films that are worse than their books. In this case I am split: I love both the novel and the movie for different reasons. In the book Herbert describes the world in much more detail and it makes me understand the world and the people’s decisions better. I particularly liked that the narrative perspective changes constantly and how the religious allegories are worked out. That made me understand Paul’s and his mother’s motives and decisions to a far greater degree. On the other hand, I must admit that the narrative style tends to be a little wordy. That is where the film is better because it streamlines the plot to its actual important points. Still, I think “Dune” is worth reading because it is a great book creating a very different world and still playing with the messiah theory. Also, the film stops about halfway through the first “Dune” book and I really wanted to know how the story continues. I think I will also read the sequels.

Naomi Novik: The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2)

At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year–and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules …

I had the first volume of this series in one of Book of the Month boxes last year and liked it so much that Rich also read the novel – and liked it just as much. So we had high expectations for this sequel and were not disappointed. “The Last Graduate” continues the story directly from how “A Deadly Education” ends, and El has to get through her last year at the Scholomance. While I expected the storyline to be similar to the first novel, it turned out to be very different – which I liked. El faces totally different issues and finds different solutions to them. We also get to know a few bits of information what is happening outside of the wizardry school and I can’t wait to find out more in sequels. Particularly the end absolutely flabbergasted me, and I am still not sure if I like it or not.

Joanne Fluke: Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swensen, #27)

Hannah’s up to her ears with Easter orders rushing in at The Cookie Jar, plus a festive meal to prepare for a dinner party at her mother’s penthouse. But everything comes crashing to a halt when Hannah receives a panicked call from her sister Andrea—Mayor Richard Bascomb has been murdered . . . and Andrea is the prime suspect.
Even with his reputation for being a bully, Mayor Bascomb—or “Ricky Ticky,” as Hannah’s mother likes to call him—had been unusually testy in the days leading up to his death, leaving Hannah to wonder if he knew he was in danger. Meanwhile, folks with a motive for mayoral murder are popping up in Lake Eden. Was it a beleaguered colleague? A political rival? A jealous wife? Or a scorned mistress?

I am not even sure why I am still reading this series. It was the first cozy mystery I was into and it used to be great. But recent volumes were disappointing, as in the murder plot doesn’t seem to play a major role anymore. While I enjoy reading about Hannah’s baking and all the family dinners, I would prefer more substance to the whole story. Like the main characters developing over the course of 27 books. This novel feels more like a cheap copy of the good first books in this series. Even the recipes at the end of the chapters are less exciting because most use purchasable cake mixes with plenty of name-dropping.

Ivo Pala: Ein Fall für Fuchs & Haas: Die Tote im Räucherofen

Weil ihm beim Dienst in Berlin einmal zu oft der Kragen geplatzt ist, wird Kommissar Bodo Fuchs in seine alte Heimat an die Ostseeküste strafversetzt. Wenn er jedoch hofft, hier oben im Schoß seiner schrägen Familie das letzte Dienstjahrzehnt in Ruhe und Frieden auf der linken Backe absitzen zu können, hat er sich gewaltig geschnitten!
Schon der erste grausige Mordfall konfrontiert ihn mit seiner weit zurückliegenden Kindheit: Die Tote im Räucherofen war Bodos erste heimliche aber vor allem unerfüllte große Liebe!
Die Untersuchungen führen ihn und seine – in Bodos Augen viel zu logisch denkende – Partnerin Gisa Haas in einen reißenden Mahlstrom aus Intrigen, uralten Familiengeheimnissen und Schauermärchen.

I really wanted to like this book after I recently read so many excellent crime series set in Northern Germany. But the narrative style doesn’t appeal to me at all. I find Bodo Fuchs nonreflective and his choice of words too low down. The murder case itself is well set up and the murderer not clear for a long time. While I would have loved to read a series set in my home state of Germany, I won’t continue this one because of the writing.

Elke Bergsma: Lebensfesseln (Büttner und Hasenkrug ermitteln 29)

Hat er vor zwölf Jahren einen wegen Mordes angeklagten Mann unschuldig hinter Gitter gebracht? Diese Frage treibt Hauptkommissar David Büttner um, während seine Aufmerksamkeit gleichzeitig einem mutmaßlichen Suizid gilt, von dem die Partnerin des Opfers behauptet, es sei Mord gewesen. Als diese Theorie durch weitere Indizien gestützt wird, der zuständige Staatsanwalt aber weder in diesem, noch in dem zwölf Jahre zurückliegenden Fall einen Grund sieht, Ermittlungen aufzunehmen, werden Büttner und sein Team zunächst auf eigene Faust tätig. Schon bald deutet vieles darauf hin, dass es zwischen den beiden Fällen einen Zusammenhang gibt.

I read all 28 books in this series in September and October. Excellent books! This one presents a new case from a totally new angle: the detective apparently made a mistake 12 years ago and now has to deal with its consequences. As usual, all characters are well-written and round. I enjoyed how the case evolves and how Büttner deals with it.

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