Article

Books in 2011 and 2012

My book count in 2011 was not that great, I must admit. Of the 100 books planned (that figure just came to me because it looks so nice, it’s not that I had a real *plan*) I have only started 67, and only finished 55. 12 were DNFs! Here are all the books I tried to tackle in 2011:

Books read in 2011 

Pages read: 16.979 minus all the DNF pages, which I can’t possible find out. Some of them were some real chunksters, like Udolpho or Empress

In 2012 I must be a little less ambitious. For the Outdo yourself reading challenge I chose the “Getting my heart rate up” level, which means 1-5 books more than in 2011.

Where does this leave me for 2012? At 56 to 60 books!

For the other challenges I joined twenty books are already certain to be read (theoretically, at least). 36 to 40 are open to whim. Knowing me I have an inkling that this is a bad idea, but we will see how it goes.

What are your reading goals for the new year?

Article

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith

friendsBlurb:

In this delightful second installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling new detective series, the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, gets caught up in an affair of the heart—this one a transplant.
When Isabel’s niece, Cat, asks Isabel to run her delicatessen while she attends a wedding in Italy, Isabel meets a man with a most interesting problem. He recently had a heart transplant and is suddenly plagued with memories of events that never happened to him. The situation appeals to Isabel as a philosophical question: Is the heart truly the seat of the soul? And it piques her insatiable curiosity: Could the memories be connected with the donor’s demise? Of course, Grace—Isabel’s no-nonsense housekeeper—and Isabel’s friend Jamie think it is none of Isabel’s business. Meanwhile, Cat brings home an Italian lothario, who, in accordance with all that Isabel knows about Italian lotharios, shouldn’t be trusted . . . but, goodness, he is charming.
That makes two mysteries of the heart to be solved—just the thing for Isabel Dalhousie.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes       

For people who like: cosy mysteries, philosophical  musings, Edinburgh


My thoughts: 

This is the second instalment in “The Sunday Philosophy Club “ series and another delightful read. The atmospheric Edinburgh setting, the “mystery” and the lovely characters make for another very cosy read.

Isabel herself is a character I am not 100% sure about. Do I like her or do I dislike her? In this book I tended towards the latter because she came over as a terrible busybody who just can’t leave anything alone. Her excuse that she has a “moral obligation” to act because someone told her something and now she is somehow responsible for the outcome is rather shaky. Ian never asked her to act – either on his behalf or independently – and still she digs and digs and hurts people along the way. She is the type who stops at nothing just to salve her own conscience (which is an oxymoron really, when you come to think about it).

In this particular case she tries to find the person who donated the organ and does so by flipping through papers to find a death, eventually finds one that seems the right one and assumes he is the donor. How naive and simplistic can you get? And this from a person who is supposed to be a philosopher who thinks every little detail through until the very end. First of all how likely is it that an organ donor dies in the city where the recipient lives? Who says that the dead person was an organ donor at all? Her method is “assuming – acting” without one bit of thought for the people involved. So she goes, hurts the supposed donor’s family and makes an enemy at the same time.

There is no end to her rash acts and  inconsideration in this story. When it would be better to call Jamie to get her out of a tricky situation she rather calls Ian and gets him into an even trickier one! The poor man just had a heart transplant, but she calls him (without warning to boot) to go and meet the person eye to eye who supposedly causes his anguish!

And what about the wish of the donor’s family to remain anonymous? It’s nothing to Isabel. To hunt them down she doesn’t shy away from asking a journalist friend to call in a favour from a surgeon who surely has to violate medical confidentiality. Then she goes and visits the mother who tells her that the father of the donor doesn’t know about the donation and she wants to leave it at that. Can you guess Isabel’s next action? Right! She goes and visits the father (who seems like a nice guy to her) and tells him about it.

She goes through the whole story pondering philosophical issues, pondering what it takes to be a good and charitable person and at the same time judges any situation or person according to her whim and acts on that without any respect for the wishes, feelings and possible consequences for other people.

The most amazing thing is that Isabel still comes over as only human and rather likeable – even though I wanted to beat some sense into her throughout the book.

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKRobert Fergusson's grave

Product info and buy link :

Title Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 9781400077106
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
More info Alexander McCall Smith’s website

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Book beginnings on Friday

 

foreveramber

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor is THE bodice ripper. It is a bit of a chunk of book at almost 1.000 pages but well worth the read. I think the ending is one of the best endings ever in that genre, unexpected and funny. But I am talking about its beginning today. This is the first paragraph of the prologue.

The small room was warm and moist. Furious blasts of thunder made the window-panes rattle and lightning seemed to streak through the room itself. No one had dared to say what each was thinking – that this storm, violent even for mid-March, must be an evil omen.

What is YOUR book beginning today? To see more book beginnings go to A few more pages!

Article

Head over Heel by Chris Harrison

head_over_heelBlurb:

Presents the author’s story of leaving his previous life for La Dolce Vita – or rather the Southern Italian version of that seductive way of life,with its luscious foods, physical beauty and sun-drenched vistas.

 

 

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes, but found it too detailed and I lost interest

For people who like: Southern Italy, stories about getting used to another way of life, Mediterranean flair


My thoughts: 

Head over Heel is a fun book about the “adventures” of an Australian moving to Italy to be with his Italian girlfriend. He goes to Italy and has to deal with the very unusual everyday life, corruption, language and what not that every expatriate has to face in one way or the other.

I found the book very amusing and entertaining, however, I just couldn’t be bothered reading about all the details of Italian life. Chris Harrison describes many aspects and I just found it too tedious, maybe because I have been to Italy numerous times (even though never as a resident) and didn’t find the situations as strange as other readers might. I stopped reading after maybe 80 pages when the plot hadn’t gone very far yet and the couple was about to move from the South to the very different North of Italy, so I assume there were many more surprises in store for the narrator.

If you have never been to Italy and know next to nothing about it, you will enjoy this greatly.


Location: Andrano, Puglia, Italy

Map Andrano Festa Madonna delle GraziePiazza Castello 

All images from wikipedia. Image of piazza by user Lupiae


Product info and buy link :

Title Head over heel
Author Chris Harrison
Publisher Nicholas Brealey Publishing
ISBN 978-1857885217
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy Head Over Heel

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The prices of e-books

John found this article on the Guardian about the development of the prices of e-books and the possible impact on the customer. I have to admit I hardly ever buy e-books. I used to buy some romance books that were comparably inexpensive (their prices are around $5), but for at least a year or so I haven’t bought any e-books at all. I either get them for review or from the library. But I am shocked at the prices Mr. Gillmor mentions in his article. I would NEVER buy the same or even more for an e-book than for a physical book.

How much would you spend for an e-book? And, more important, would you pay the same or more than for paper? And if so, why?

Article

Empress by Evelyn McCune

empress Blurb:

Sweeping through exotic, turbulent seventh-century China, EMPRESS is the captivating epic of one extraordinary woman who would become the only female emperor in all of China’s history. The story of Wu Jao, set against the backdrop of medieval China, reveals not only an age of horrifying barbarism, daring treachery, and precarious power, but also an eternal culture of sophistication and enlightenment.

 

 

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: German

I liked it:     Yes up to half of the book

For people who like: Ancient China, historical fiction


My thoughts:

 

The cover

Now, before anyone cries out and complains about the cover: Yes, yes, I know. Thanks to the amazingly knowledgeable reviewers on amazon.com I have learned that the cover of this book is totally wrong, a shame, incredible negligence on the publisher’s part, how could they?! This is not an image of anyone in China during the 7th century , but it is (or is supposed to be) Ci Xi, the Empress Dowager who lived from 1835 until 1908. An unforgivable mistake that occupies everybody more than actually reading the book does. Or so it seems.

Obviously I am the only one who did not immediately realize this and who didn’t jump at the throat of Ballantine Books or Goldmann, the German publisher who made the same mistake. The Germans only used a photo of the older Ci Xi. I wonder whether just one particularly scholarly person on amazon said “Hey, this can’t be Wu Jao, her dress is not right, this is a dress from 1889, and therefore this must be Ci Xi. The publisher screwed the cover up.” and all the following reviewers didn’t want to lose face and chimed in or whether really every reviewer knew this anyway. God, people, chill out a bit!

 

Another DNF

This is another DNF for me, I am afraid. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book. All the intrigues and the machinations of the courtiers were exciting and entertaining to read. After Wu Jao became empress I lost interest. Somehow I found her character right after that turning point in her life rather strange, because it was not in accordance with her previous one. I didn’t like at all one particular incident and therefore I gave up on her and her story. I couldn’t face reading another 300 pages or so just for the sake of finishing it.

Sorry!

 

You like Judge Dee?

Oh, one more thing. If you are a fan of Judge Dee, this might be of interest to you. He was mentioned by Wu Jao early on as one of her childhood friends when she was still living at home. Since he later became chancellor I assume he will play a part in the second half of the book.


Location: China during the Tang Dynasty, 7th century

China during Tang dynasty Taizong giving an audience

Official portrait of Wu Zetian at Wu's burial place


Movie tip

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

 


Product info and buy link :

Title Empress
Author Evelyn McCune
Publisher Ballantine Books
ISBN 978-0449907498
I got this book from some sort of bookcrossing
Buy link Buy Empress
More info More about Wu Jao on wikipedia

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren 

Since my last IMM post I got quite a bit.

 

I bought

 

I got as a gift

  •  Unstuff your life by Andrew J. Mellen. This one is from my wishlist. It is about “kicking the clutter habit and completely organize your life for good”.
  • Creative beading by Juju Vail for some new ideas
  • A German cookbook about vegetarian Mediterranean cuisine

 

 The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie The right attitude to rain The lion, the witch and the wardrobe

Unstuff your life Creative beading

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

Article

Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

OK, Christmas is almost over, it’s time to talk about the New Year!

Question:

What book starts with New Year’s resolutions? Hint: Some of them are…

I will not behave sluttishly around the house, but instead imagine others are watching.

I will not get upset over men, but instead be poised and cool ice-queen.

I will drink no more than fourteen alcohol units a week.

I will form functional relationship with responsible adult.

    If you need another hint: Every girl/woman knows this book.

Leave a comment with your answer. Then, to see whether you got it right,  click on "Show" below.  As usual, there is nothing to be won, this is just for fun!

Answer SelectShow
Article

Comparing covers: The Sunday Philosophy Club

Since I have already been going on about the ugly cover of the second book it’s high time to talk about the covers of the first book in the Sunday Philosophy Club series.

No doubt, the first cover is the best of all.  The fourth one is way too colourful and the whole style is not fitting at all. I have no idea what the coffee cups on the other English and one of the French covers have to do with the story. Yeah, people drink coffee, but then again, who doesn’t? Somehow publishers must think that Alexander McCall Smith and coffee go together well. There are also cups of coffee on my cover of “Friends, Lovers, Chocolate” and (this time fully justified) on “The perils of morning coffee".

The German cover is quite good again, however, the German tendency to use idiotic, misleading titles in order to attract the masses is very annoying. I have no idea why. Whereas ALL other languages stick to the original title the Germans changed it into a plain mystery title. “In Edinburgh murder is forbidden”, what on Earth is that supposed to mean? Is murder allowed elsewhere? The Germans just can’t leave well alone when it comes to book titles. No wonder some people on Amazon were disappointed with the book. Then again, if they buy a book with such a moronic title, they don’t deserve better.

I don’t care in the least for the Italian or Spanish illustrations. The Bulgarian cover (the title is a literal translation of the original according to Google translator) reflects the location, the Portuguese one the place where the “murder” happens, which I like in this case.

Which is your favourite cover?

The Sunday Philosophy Club The Sunday Philosophy Club The Sunday Philosophy Club The Sunday Philosophy Club The Sunday Philosophy Club French The Sunday Philosophy Club French

The Sunday Philosophy Club German The Sunday Philosophy Club Italian The Sunday Philosophy Club Bulgarian The Sunday Philosophy Club Spanish The Sunday Philosophy Club Portuguese

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Week on the web #12

weekontheweb

Here are my finds for this week…

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Folk art from the Ore Mountains

My 24 days of Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

Candle arches in windows The woodcraft items from the Ore Mountains are a very popular Christmas decoration in German homes (if we can afford it, that is). The Ore Mountains used to be an area where ore mining became the main area of work from the 15th century on. When the ore deposits ran out towards the end of the 16th century the miners used their wood carving skills that they had already used in their free time to create a new field of work for them: wooden folk art. There was wood in abundance and so carving and turning became the new industry in the Ore Mountains. First everyday items were made but by and by toy making and the creation of Christmas decoration became a major part of the product line. Pyramid
The center of the Ore Mountain folk art production is Seiffen, a village with about 2.500 inhabitants. During the advent weekends about 30.000 people visit its numerous shops that sell wood products.

The most popular decoration items are:

Pyramids (Weihnachtspyramiden)

They originally combined the traditions of using light and ever green leaves or wreaths in winter. At first green twigs were wound around four sticks with lights that were tied together at the top. Later little figurines were added and slowly the pyramid developed. Nowadays they are available in a lot of styles and some can cost quite a bit.

Candle arches (Schwibbögen)

SchwibbogenProbably the arch is supposed to symbolize the heaven arch (?). The themes of the arches are everyday activities of the miners, forest and its animals or Christian. The arches are put into the windows in the evening and create a very special atmosphere. The lights at the bottom of the arches symbolize the daylight that miners didn’t see very often. At the same time the arch in the  window showed the miners the way home in the dark.

 

Räuchermännchen

Smokers (Räuchermännchen)

The first smoker was mentioned in 1830 and today they are a Christmas staple. The can be opened, a little incense cone is put inside and the smoker is closed again. Then, the incensed smoke comes out of the smokers mouth. The style can vary a great deal. They stand up, sit at the edge of the table, are dressed in various clothes to symbolize different professions like soldier, miner or woodsman. 

Nutcrackers (Nußknacker)

Nussknacker Nutcrackers have been around in ancient times already. In the Ore Mountains people started to make them after 1800. They look like soldiers, miners, policemen or kings. They are colorful and kids especially love them. The typical Ore Mountain nutcracker is the big red one with the big mouth that is supposed to awe people.

 

 

 

 

Now, if you feel like going on a shopping spree for typical Ore Mountain folk art, you could have a look at the Erzgebirge-Palast. But be careful and watch your spending. They have some nice goodies like pyramids for over 2.800 EUR there…..

Images: Arches in windows by devilsanddust at wikipedia, pyramid by Sabine Tilgner at wikipedia, arch by Christian Heindl at flickr, Smoker by André Karwath at wikipedia, Nutcracker by Gertrud K. at flickr

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The Grinch

My 24 days of Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the Grinch stole ChristmasI am a big Dr. Seuss fan, so it comes as no surprise that my favourite Christmas book is “How the Grinch stole Christmas”. Even though I can’t quite see how the Grinch so quickly sees the error of his ways, I suppose for a children’s book it is necessary to keep it simple.

To get into the Christmas spirit Seussville offers various activities. You will find an online coloring game for your kids where they can color in various Grinch-related images. It’s fun!

There are a lot of other projects, like making your own Grinch mask, making a door knob, games and more to pass the time until Christmas.

And if you can’t get enough of the Grinch, check out the Grinch ornaments on Wizzley.

Article

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

The Sunday Philosophy Club vcBlurb:

Isabel, the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and an occasional detective, has been accused of getting involved in problems that are, quite frankly, none of her business. In this first instalment, Isabel is attending a concert in the Usher Hall when she witnesses a man fall from the upper balcony. Isabel can’t help wondering whether it was the result of mischance or mischief. Against the best advice of her no-nonsense housekeeper Grace, her bassoon playing friend Jamie, and even her romantically challenged niece Cat, she is morally bound to solve this case.

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes, very much      

For people who like: cosy mysteries, philosophical  musings, Edinburgh


My thoughts: 

What a treat! After reading “The perils of morning coffee” I was eager to read the first book in the series and I wasn’t disappointed. “The Sunday Philosophy Club” was not only cosy, but even gentle, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Isabel Dalhousie sort of becomes entangled in a mystery – to tell the truth, she gets involved by choice –, and tries to get behind the reason for a young man’s death. A death that the police finds unsuspicious, it was an accident to everybody but Isabel.

In her sleuthing attempts she meets interesting people and continuously ponders philosophical issues. It was interesting to observe how her awareness of how to be nice and charitable was thrown out the window when she herself assumes the worst of people and is not too shy to share those thoughts with others. Often we would just read an inner monologue where she tries to decide what to do and what it entails, then again she has delightful conversations with her housekeeper Grace, her niece Cat and other people somehow involved either in her life or the case. Especially Grace was a wonderful character whom I will be happy to hear more about in the next books.

I very much liked the location (how could one not love Edinburgh?), the description of social life there and the different circles Isabel got in contact with, the philosophers, the musicians, the financiers. Our sleuth Isabel  has quite a vivid imagination. She is rather quick with her assumptions and conclusions, and in her mind someone turns from friend and ally to murderer in a heartbeat. It was fun to see how her carefully thought out ideas turned to dust.

Now I am coming to Jamie. I am not sure what to think about Isabel’s relationship with him. In the short story I read previously he was there also (that story is set later on, not sure when) and from the context and his being mentioned in the way he was I gathered he was Isabel’s boyfriend, husband, someone along those lines. Now it turns out he is Cat’s ex boyfriend and Isabel and he are only good friends, even though Isabel might be a little bit in love with the younger man. So, I am curious to see how that relationship develops and into what direction.

This was a delightful first book of a series that makes me want to read the next one right NOW. 

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKUsher Hall

Images from wikipedia. Usher Hall by Kim Traynor

Product info and buy link :

Title The Sunday Philosophy Club
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 978-1400077090
I got this book from the library
Buy link Buy The Sunday Philosophy Club
More info The Sunday Philosophy Club series
and more Alexander McCall Smith’s website

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Quizzical Monday

 

quizzical_mondayc

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What are the titles of two Poirot stories by Agatha Christie that are set during Christmas time? They also have the word “Christmas” in the title.

Leave a comment with your answer. Then, to see whether you got it right,  click on "Show" below.  As usual, there is nothing to be won, this is just for fun!

Article

Can you rely on ISBN numbers?

Normally I am not particular when it comes to book covers. I like a beautiful cover and am glad to look at it, but if a slightly less attractive cover is considerably less expensive I go for that one. Even when it comes to series I am not fussy and just buy what is out there, not waiting for a specific cover or anything.

That being said I have set my heart on The Sunday Philosophy Club series by Alexander McCall Smith. I especially like, no, I love the Anchor issues with the illustrated covers (examples here). So I ordered a few of them on amazon.de from marketplace (cheap, you see, I don’t mind used books) and made sure I ordered the right covers.

Now, a couple of days ago I got one of them and was totally disappointed when I received a cover (from now on called “Ugly”) that was not what I had ordered (that one would be “Pretty”). It was this one. Needless to say I immediately sat down to complain to the seller when I noticed that on Ugly’s spine it said “Anchor”. I checked its ISBN number and it was Pretty’s very number. Further investigation showed that on amazon.de the real Ugly had a different ISBN number and was published by Canada Vintage. But my personal Ugly said Anchor and had Pretty’s number. What gives?

On amazon.com they also sell Ugly, this time published by Anchor without an ISBN number, but with an ASIN. Is there something I don’t get?

Am I too anal? Do you particularly care what covers your books have? And if you have a series and there is on Ugly peeking out of between all the Pretties, what do you do?

Article

In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren

I had to wait a few weeks for my new IMM post as books have been coming in only slowly. But here they are….

 

I swapped

I bought

I got as a gift

From the library

 

The Sunday Philosophy Club vc friends compliments chance_acquaintance Wunsiedel

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

Article

Weekend cooking: Stollen

My 24 days of Christmas

Stollen In my last weekend cooking post someone mentioned "Stollen" in the comments. Reason enough for me to talk about this traditional Christmas cake a little more.

The first time Stollen was officially mentioned was in 1329 as a Christmas gift for a bishop. However, at the time, they were meant for the Christian advent fasting and therefore only consisted of water, yeast and oil. Probably not very enticing!

At the end of the 15th century the pope sent a "butter letter" which allowed to use butter for Stollen, in return people had to pay a monetary fine which was used for the construction of the Freiburg cathedral. A Saxon baker had later the idea to improve the Stollen with richer ingredients, like for example candied fruit. Dresdner Stollen label

The most famous Stollen is the "Dresdner Stollen" from the city of Dresden. Just like with "Nürnberger  Lebkuchen" "Dresdner Stollen" is a protected designation of origin. It has to contain at least 50% butter and 65% raisins (referring to the amount of flour). Stollen used to be called "Striezel" in Dresden, and this is what gave the name to the famous Christmas market in Dresden, the "Striezelmarkt". In 1730 August the Strong had a Stollen baked that weighed 1.800 kg and was divided into 24.000 pieces. This event is the origin of the annual "Stollenfest" at the Striezelmarkt.

Nowadays a lot of bakeries bake their own version of Stollen. Each tastes a little different and varies in ingredients. Some bakers add marzipan, almonds, poppy, nuts, quark, chocolate or they leave out the fruit. Instead of soaking the raisins in rum, they soak them in champagne or wine. There is no limit to the creativity of German bakers.

Now, if you would like to try to make your own Stollen, I have found a Stollen recipe online that sounds rather nice. It is a marzipan Stollen, my favourite kind. I can’t vouch for the recipe though, as I would never make a Stollen myself. Going to the next bakery and buying one is just so easy!

Images: Stollen by su-lin at flickr, label by sludgegulper at flickr.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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B.P.R.D. Being Human by Mike Mignola and others

No, I still am not reading graphic novels. This is another review by John.

being_human Blurb:

Mike Mignola”s strangest heroes, in their earliest adventures! In terrifying tales of witchcraft and the undead, Abe Sapien, Roger, Liz Sherman, and Johann Kraus learn the ropes as agents of the Bureau For Paranormal Research and Defense! Abe reels with the guilt of surviving a mission that killed more experienced agents, Roger goes on his first adventure with Hellboy, Liz tells the story of how she killed her family, and Johann Kraus dies!

 

 

 


In a nutshell:

John read it in: English

He liked it:   Yes     

For people who like: graphic novels for mature readers, tales of the supernatural, Hellboy


John’s thoughts: 

This is another welcome anthology of short stories featuring the characters of the B.P.R.D. The collection consists of three longish strips and one very short one.

We have encountered references to Liz Sherman’s past, specifically her unintentional killing of her family, and to Johann Krause’s unfortunate demise during the Ghengdhou disaster previously over the period the B.P.R.D. stories have been published, but both were not dealt with in any great detail, and there were blanks in the narrative. This book seeks to fill in those gaps and does so relatively well.

The Liz Sherman story, whilst interesting, is possibly the weakest of these  stories in that we see how the terrible tragedy happened, but as the event unfolds it turns out there’s not actually that much to it at all, and the accidental burning of her family does not play the central role in the story that one expects.

Also there does seem to be a lack of emotion at the centre of the story as it is related, with the central harrowing event not having any deep emotional resonance even with the characters. In fact the episode reads more as a coming of age story than as something which mars her life. The main event here is how she and Bruttenholm deal with the haunting of a local community, and is standard B.P.R.D. fayre. This is a world in which magic and witchcraft exist and witches on the whole are a bad lot. The witch theme is often revisited and this is no different as  we encounter a witch haunting a local priest in the story.  Still, although I feel the key event in Liz’s life perhaps could have been dealt with better on the whole it is well written and enjoyable.

The Johann Krause story for me was much better than that featuring Liz Sherman. I feel this story could only have been written now with the character of Krause having been fully developed over the series. The villain of the piece is interesting, and the story emphasises the determination of Krause supporting the character’s arc quite well. His reasoning for donning the survival suit are both believable and unexpected. The end frame of this piece is a brilliant image that brought to mind the iconic image of the Priest in the Exorcist. The composition of that end frame is quite superb and hints at the outcome between Krause and the villain more clearly than a 5 page story. Absolutely wonderful.

The shortest piece in the anthology –  ‘Casualties’ –  is a sort of throwaway story, only a few  pages long but somehow very satisfying. For me this underlines the title of the anthology ‘Being Human’. The characters are stating the obvious but it has a nice emotional heart at it’s centre. I always enjoy these stories where we are given glimpses of the characters questioning their actions and reasoning it out. These always build on the human element, and enrich the characterisation, and although short, these type of stories are often amongst the most enjoyable.

The last strip features Roger the Homonculus who was killed earlier in the series. I like this aspect of the B.P.R.D. where the reader can revisit characters who have left the B.P.R.D. universe, often tragically. We encounter Professor Bruttenholm in the Liz Sherman story as well of course. I like the way there is no reset button on the death of a major character, it is a breath of fresh air amongst comic books where the reset button is pressed way too often. Usually we find these characters being revisited in their new stories earlier in their timeline way before the events that led to their demise come about. This is the case in this story featuring Roger and Hellboy. Roger always came across as a reluctant hero, and this aspect of the character is underlined here once more. The only problems I have with these sort of stories are the outcome and the fact that there is no consequences for the actions of a character, as if nothing takes place in the real world. Well, this is the Universe of Hellboy so I suppose this is to be expected.

This is a tale of revenge  where a practitioner of Voudoun has come to exact a terrible price for the misdeeds of others. It left me with a bit of a nasty aftertaste. Of course denouements in comics are often violent so I shouldn’t be surprised, endings are often throwaway as well with things quickly resolved. I was personally sympathetic to the antagonist and I feel the point of the story, which was somehow to help Roger grow and appear human, although he isn’t, could have been handled a bit better. Sometimes it is hard to see the reasoning behind how these stories develop – probably it’s a sign of the times – but not in a good way.

In the collection overall the writing is a bit of a mixed bag, the artwork is immaculate, of course, with some very beautiful page compositions. For a long time fan of the B.P.R.D. the anthology is a pleasant interlude between the developing major arc. Although I have some minor reservations with one or two of the stories, still, it  is certainly the case that the Universe of the B.P.R.D. and Hellboy remains the most detailed and interesting in the comics milieu at the moment, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes comics aimed at the mature market.

Product info and buy link :

Title B.P.R.D Being Human
Author Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Scott Allie, Richard Corben, Ben Stenbeck,Karl Moline, Guy Davis, Andy Owens
Publisher Dark Horse Comics
ISBN 9781595827562
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy B.P.R.D.: Being Human
More info All B.P.R.D. products at Dark Horse Comics

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? John would love to hear other opinions.