Planet Exherbo

December 04, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan My rating: 3 of 5 stars In stark contrast to Keegan’s “Foster” I couldn’t connect as much with this novella, “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan. This may very well be because – as often – I went into this novella not knowing what it was about.… Read More »Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

by Wulf at December 04, 2022 04:04 PM

November 29, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus My rating: 5 of 5 stars “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus was one of those rare reading delights that kept me glued to my Kindle for “just one more chapter”. Go read the blurb if you want to know what this novel is actually about. Meanwhile, maybe on… Read More »Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus

by Wulf at November 29, 2022 04:39 PM

November 21, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Foster, by Claire Keegan

Foster by Claire Keegan My rating: 5 of 5 stars “Foster” by Claire Keegan is a short story about (parental) love. A girl from an economically-challenged family is sent to relatives, Mrs. and Mr. Kinsella (who have lost their only child), to be temporarily cared for. The Kinsellas seem to be slightly better off than… Read More »Foster, by Claire Keegan

by Wulf at November 21, 2022 04:31 PM

November 19, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Cabin in the Woods, by Sarah Alderson

The Cabin in the Woods by Sarah Alderson My rating: 4 of 5 stars Well, “The Cabin in the Woods” by Sarah Alderson was definitely a good read: Rose is on the run, currently hiding in the eponymous cabin in the woods. The book tells her story in (mostly) alternating chapters, jumping back into her… Read More »The Cabin in the Woods, by Sarah Alderson

by Wulf at November 19, 2022 04:17 PM

November 18, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Flawless (Chestnut Springs, #1), by Elsie Silver

Flawless by Elsie Silver My rating: 3 of 5 stars I’m grateful to have read “Flawless” by Elsie Silver because now I know which kind of book does not really appeal to me: Rich daddy’s princess meets bull-riding cowboy in this steamy (borderline pornographic) rural romance and that’s pretty much it for the story. It’s… Read More »Flawless (Chestnut Springs, #1), by Elsie Silver

by Wulf at November 18, 2022 03:23 PM

November 12, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Stranded, by Sarah Goodwin

Stranded by Sarah Goodwin My rating: 4 of 5 stars »Fortunately I have learned that there is no justice, aside from what we make for ourselves. There is only survival, and the victor tells the story.« My wife and I lay in bed, reading. When I noticed I had read the same paragraph for a… Read More »Stranded, by Sarah Goodwin

by Wulf at November 12, 2022 12:04 PM

November 07, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Winners (Beartown #3), by Fredrik Backman

The Winners by Fredrik Backman My rating: 3 of 5 stars I hoped to love “The Winners” by Fredrik Backman as much as I love the original “Beartown”. The latter is the one book that I recommend to anyone who has time for just one more book. It was the book I gave my mother… Read More »The Winners (Beartown #3), by Fredrik Backman

by Wulf at November 07, 2022 04:57 PM

October 19, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Flatshare (The Flatshare #1), by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary My rating: 5 of 5 stars A breath of fresh non-young-adult romance air! A great premise, brilliant writing. Loved it! After a string of less-than-desirable reading experiences, I opted to go for a fun, light read – a romance!I expected the usual: Some trope, like enemies-to-lovers, banter, quick lovey-dovey, some… Read More »The Flatshare (The Flatshare #1), by Beth O’Leary

by Wulf at October 19, 2022 04:12 PM

October 17, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Lonely Planet Unpacked, by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Unpacked by Lonely Planet My rating: 1 of 5 stars Travel disaster stories were promised but the only disaster were the stories… DNF at 72%. Ever since I stumbled upon “Kamikaze Kangaroos!: A trip around Oz in a van called Rusty” by Tony James Slater several years ago, I sometimes like to read… Read More »Lonely Planet Unpacked, by Lonely Planet

by Wulf at October 17, 2022 04:03 PM

October 16, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng My rating: 1 of 5 stars I was immensely looking forward to reading Celeste Ng’s new novel “Our Missing Hearts”. I really enjoyed both Ng’s “Everything I Never Told You” and “Little Fires Everywhere” for their highly interesting stories, the unusual style of Ng’s storytelling and her sheer eloquence.… Read More »Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng

by Wulf at October 16, 2022 11:19 AM

October 10, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

A Death at the Office, by Frank J. Edler

A Death at the Office by Frank J. Edler My rating: 1 of 5 stars This was a singularly weak book. In short, there’s not just death but Death personified (so far not too unusual) – and there’s a whole corporation of them. All called Death which leads to oh-so-funny encounters with the “Help Death”… Read More »A Death at the Office, by Frank J. Edler

by Wulf at October 10, 2022 04:04 PM

October 04, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Something to Hide (Inspector Lynley #21), by Elizabeth George

Something to Hide by Elizabeth George My rating: 2 of 5 stars A mystery and police procedural derailed by the author’s stumbling (repeated) attempt at conveying an important message I used to be a huge fan of the Inspector Lynley mysteries by Elizabeth George as they were always suspenseful, exciting, interesting, serious and, sometimes, unobtrusively… Read More »Something to Hide (Inspector Lynley #21), by Elizabeth George

by Wulf at October 04, 2022 10:21 AM

September 21, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

For Butter or Worse, by Erin La Rosa

For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa My rating: 2 of 5 stars If only they could talk. Oh, wait… How non- and intentional miscommunication not only derails a decent story but an entire novel. “For Butter or Worse”? This amusingly cheesy title (and Helen Hoang’s prominent endorsement on the cover) made me read… Read More »For Butter or Worse, by Erin La Rosa

by Wulf at September 21, 2022 03:40 PM

September 19, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

September 18, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games #1), by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes My rating: 2 of 5 stars Cinderella meets Piranesi in a pink wish-fulfilment children’s fantasy bubble “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes was a major disappointment. For all practical purposes orphaned 17-year-old Avery inherits a gazillion dollars, has to move into her late benefactor’s huge mansion for… Read More »The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games #1), by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

by Wulf at September 18, 2022 10:22 AM

September 11, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Ink Black Heart (Cormoran Strike #6), by Robert Galbraith

The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith My rating: 5 of 5 stars Robert Galbraith’s “The Ink Black Heart”, the sixth instalment of this fantastic series, consisted of 1644 pages based upon my Kindle’s settings. When I started reading it and saw that, I was somewhat awed. I liked where Galbraith went with this series… Read More »The Ink Black Heart (Cormoran Strike #6), by Robert Galbraith

by Wulf at September 11, 2022 12:41 PM

August 31, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Finlay Donovan #1), by Elle Cosimano

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano My rating: 3 of 5 stars Well, “Finlay Donovan Is Killing It” by Elle Cosimano has certainly and clearly managed to kill any link to reality early on… Finlay Donovan, desparate housewife, mother of two, divorced from her serial-cheating husband and in a custody battle with him… Read More »Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Finlay Donovan #1), by Elle Cosimano

by Wulf at August 31, 2022 03:26 PM

August 28, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Love on the Brain, by Ali Hazelwood

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood My rating: 5 of 5 stars »Annie used to have a funny theory: we all have a Year Zero around which the calendars of our lives pivot. At some point you meet someone, and they become so important, so metamorphic, that ten, twenty, sixty-five years down the line… Read More »Love on the Brain, by Ali Hazelwood

by Wulf at August 28, 2022 08:41 AM

August 25, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

A Soldier’s Quartet, by Colin Baldwin

A Soldier’s Quartet by Colin Baldwin My rating: 2 of 5 stars DNF at 58%… I really hoped I would like “A Soldier’s Quartet” by Colin Baldwin but it was not to be for a lot of reasons. First of all, we’re jumping around in time as if we were Doctor Who’s new companion –… Read More »A Soldier’s Quartet, by Colin Baldwin

by Wulf at August 25, 2022 02:01 PM

August 24, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Bots of the Lost Ark (The Secret Life of Bots #2), by Suzanne Palmer

Bots of the Lost Ark by Suzanne Palmer My rating: 4 of 5 stars »“If I am so damaged that I would need to be reset, I would rather be decommissioned and my parts used to repair others.”«(Highly relatable; I’m an organ donor – what about you?) “Bots of the Lost Ark” by Suzanne Palmer… Read More »Bots of the Lost Ark (The Secret Life of Bots #2), by Suzanne Palmer

by Wulf at August 24, 2022 02:22 PM

August 22, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Dance of the Serpents (Frey & McGray #6), by Oscar de Muriel

The Dance of the Serpents by Oscar de Muriel My rating: 1 of 5 stars “The Dance of the Serpents” is book six of Oscar de Muriel’s “Frey & McGray” series. The series started out interesting enough with Frey being the rational investigator during superstitious times. McGray on the other hand always was basically seeing… Read More »The Dance of the Serpents (Frey & McGray #6), by Oscar de Muriel

by Wulf at August 22, 2022 01:45 PM

August 16, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Local Girl Missing (Detective Josie Quinn #15), by Lisa Regan

Local Girl Missing by Lisa Regan My rating: 5 of 5 stars »“Live with it? That’s it? That’s your answer? What kind of adult are you, anyway?”«(A teenaged young woman to Josie; representative of what I believed about adults at that age…) For a police procedural in its 15th instalment, “Local Girl Missing” by Lisa… Read More »Local Girl Missing (Detective Josie Quinn #15), by Lisa Regan

by Wulf at August 16, 2022 09:46 PM

August 14, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Night She Disappeared, by Lisa Jewell

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell My rating: 4 of 5 stars “The Night She Disappeared” by Lisa Jewell was a truly suspenseful read! Tallulah, 19, mother to baby Noah, and her boyfriend Zach of the same age vanish without a trace. Left behind is Tallulah’s mother Kim who takes care of Noah. In… Read More »The Night She Disappeared, by Lisa Jewell

by Wulf at August 14, 2022 01:13 PM

August 11, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Brokeback Mountain (Wyoming Stories), by Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx My rating: 3 of 5 stars I feel a bit like a philistine when it comes to “Brokeback Mountain”: The relationship between the two farm hands, Ennis and Jack, made sense to me and felt real. Sadly, both the story this short story tells as well as the style in… Read More »Brokeback Mountain (Wyoming Stories), by Annie Proulx

by Wulf at August 11, 2022 09:25 AM

August 10, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Part of Your World, by Abby Jimenez

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez My rating: 4 of 5 stars After landing her car in the ditch, Alexis Montgomery is “rescued” by Daniel Grant and introduced to the small rural town of Wakan. Alexis, 37, is a hot-shot emergency room physician from a dynasty of physicians who have traditionally been closely linked… Read More »Part of Your World, by Abby Jimenez

by Wulf at August 10, 2022 08:53 AM

August 06, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Listen to Me (Rizzoli & Isles #13), by Tess Gerritsen

Listen to Me by Tess Gerritsen My rating: 4 of 5 stars In some aspects, “Listen To Me” is a departure from earlier books in the series: The story is told (mostly) alternatingly from the perspectives of the main characters: There’s, of course, Jane Rizzoli, cop, married to Gabriel, mother to their daughter Regina. Another… Read More »Listen to Me (Rizzoli & Isles #13), by Tess Gerritsen

by Wulf at August 06, 2022 07:18 AM

August 03, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Sword Song (The Last Kingdom #4), by Bernard Cornwell

Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell My rating: 4 of 5 stars »I only need repent, they say, and I will go to heaven and live for evermore in the blessed company of the saints.And I would rather burn till time itself burns out.«(Same here!) “Sword Song” is yet another great entry in this series! Uthred… Read More »Sword Song (The Last Kingdom #4), by Bernard Cornwell

by Wulf at August 03, 2022 10:30 AM

July 27, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Lords of the North (The Last Kingdom #3), by Bernard Cornwell

Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell My rating: 4 of 5 stars »I had a taste for this kind of madness. In madness lies change, in change is opportunity, and in opportunity are riches.« I had every intention to temporarily remove myself from the amazing literary maelstrom this series has proven to be for… Read More »Lords of the North (The Last Kingdom #3), by Bernard Cornwell

by Wulf at July 27, 2022 10:13 AM

July 22, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Pale Horseman (The Last Kingdom #2), by Bernard Cornwell

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell My rating: 4 of 5 stars “The Pale Horseman”, book two in Bernard Cornwell’s “Saxon Stories”, picks up right where we left Uthred in “The Last Kingdom”. The Danes overrun Wessex and King Alfred has to hide in a swamp. And that’s my one small gripe about this book:… Read More »The Pale Horseman (The Last Kingdom #2), by Bernard Cornwell

by Wulf at July 22, 2022 11:47 AM

July 18, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Last Kingdom (The Last Kingdom #1), by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell My rating: 5 of 5 stars First “Vikings” came along and rekindled my interest. Next I stumbled upon “The Last Kingdom” and I was done for – Uthred, a hero, between both worlds – Dane and West Saxon. A guy whose survival to old age tells us we can… Read More »The Last Kingdom (The Last Kingdom #1), by Bernard Cornwell

by Wulf at July 18, 2022 05:08 PM

July 09, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Law (The Dresden Files #17.5), by Jim Butcher

The Law by Jim Butcher My rating: 4 of 5 stars »Between my hex and the otso’s, bad things were going to happen.« Phew… After book-long battles, drawn-out, long-winded end-of-the-world scenarios in the last few books, we’re back to Harry Dresden, Resident Wizard but also Private Investigator of and in Chicago respectively. This is a… Read More »The Law (The Dresden Files #17.5), by Jim Butcher

by Wulf at July 09, 2022 11:06 PM

July 07, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Winterset Hollow, by Jonathan Edward Durham

Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham My rating: 3 of 5 stars I definitely did not enjoy reading “Winterset Hollow”. Jonathan Edward Durham tells the story of a group of admirer’s of a children’s novel about anthropomorphised animals with a dark horror twist… The protagonists “damaged” Eamon, “dumb but kind” Mark and “smart and comforting”… Read More »Winterset Hollow, by Jonathan Edward Durham

by Wulf at July 07, 2022 04:07 PM

June 26, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, by Linus Torvalds & David Diamond

Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds My rating: 3 of 5 stars »And I have a wife to make the decisions that complete my wardrobe, to pick out things like sandals and socks. So I never have to worry about it again.« Those who know me a little better… Read More »Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, by Linus Torvalds & David Diamond

by Wulf at June 26, 2022 09:16 PM

June 17, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2), by Alix E. Harrow

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow My rating: 2 of 5 stars From a story point of view Harrow’s second “Fractured Fable“, “A Mirror Mended”, starts right after “A Spindle Splintered” with Zinnia Gray, our protagonist, still trying to fix happily-ever-afters for a lot of Sleeping Beauties. That’s where my issues start: Why Zinnia… Read More »A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2), by Alix E. Harrow

by Wulf at June 17, 2022 07:38 AM

June 16, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

To Kill a Troubadour (Bruno, Chief of Police #15), by Martin Walker

To Kill a Troubadour by Martin Walker My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve been a Bruno fan since the first book in the series and really enjoyed Martin Walker’s congenial blend of mystery, world politics, joie de vivre and common-sense policing in a rural French environment. At times, especially in books 12 and 13,… Read More »To Kill a Troubadour (Bruno, Chief of Police #15), by Martin Walker

by Wulf at June 16, 2022 11:32 AM

June 12, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Watch Her Disappear (Detective Josie Quinn #14), by Lisa Regan

Watch Her Disappear by Lisa Regan My rating: 5 of 5 stars All too often, in a series of books when a writer has found their cast of characters, their setting, etc. everything becomes routine and instalment after instalment gets chucked out but there’s hardly ever anything new. Each new book is a variation of… Read More »Watch Her Disappear (Detective Josie Quinn #14), by Lisa Regan

by Wulf at June 12, 2022 11:18 AM

June 04, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Little Things, by Jim Butcher (from: Heroic Hearts, by Jim Butcher)

Heroic Hearts by Jim Butcher My rating: 5 of 5 stars »“You came for me first,” she said. “Not the pizza.”« I’m exclusively referring to Jim Butcher’s short story “Little Things” from the “Heroic Hearts” anthology. This is simply because I only got it to read that one story – and it was worth it.… Read More »Little Things, by Jim Butcher (from: Heroic Hearts, by Jim Butcher)

by Wulf at June 04, 2022 11:29 AM

The Ashmoore Affair (from: Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology, Laura M. Hughes), by Michael J. Sullivan

Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology by Laura M. Hughes My rating: 4 of 5 stars A nice albeit very short short story featuring Michael J. Sullivan’s Hadrian and Royce (Riyria). It is part of the Riyria Chronicles. There’s so little actual story, I won’t summarise it here. Suffice it to say you won’t be disappointed… Read More »The Ashmoore Affair (from: Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology, Laura M. Hughes), by Michael J. Sullivan

by Wulf at June 04, 2022 08:57 AM

June 03, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1), by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones My rating: 3 of 5 stars I set out to read – and hopefully love – this because it came with high praise by most of my GoodReads friends and my daughter (who loves the film, though). Thus prepared, I set out on this literary journey and quickly… Read More »Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1), by Diana Wynne Jones

by Wulf at June 03, 2022 04:43 PM

May 29, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Where the Strangers Live, by Oliver Phipps

I don’t know how this book ever made it to my to-be-read pile. It’s a clumsily written short novella about a woman, Sophie, and two men, Elliot and Roy (who only have eyes for Sophie’s butt, breasts, etc.) who happen to enter a submerged alien base…

by Wulf at May 29, 2022 09:57 AM

May 26, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Under One Roof (The STEMinist Novellas #1), by Ali Hazelwood

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood My rating: 2 of 5 stars Mara inherits half of a house from her late mentor. When she visits said house, she meets Liam with whom she proceeds to live “Under One Roof”. They have great first impressions of each other, then enmity ensues, the inevitable mutual crushes come… Read More »Under One Roof (The STEMinist Novellas #1), by Ali Hazelwood

by Wulf at May 26, 2022 02:40 PM

May 22, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Book Lovers, by Emily Henry

Book Lovers by Emily Henry My rating: 3 of 5 stars Some books are confusing and “Book Lovers” by Emily Henry is definitely one of those: Literary agent Nora, a big city shark, meets big city editor Charlie and inevitably falls in love with him. In a rural small town of all places to which… Read More »Book Lovers, by Emily Henry

by Wulf at May 22, 2022 09:22 AM

May 17, 2022

Mike Kelly

Linux Disk Encryption in 2022

UPDATE: as of Fedora 36, the below doesn’t seem to work correctly. You’ll want to remove the /etc/dracut.conf.d/tss2.conf file, and the tpm2-device=auto,discard from /etc/crypttab, or the initrd build will not work, and your Fedora 36 kernel won’t boot. I was able to boot into one of my old Fedora 35 kernels, make the above changes, and then run sudo dracut -f --kver 5.17.6-300.fc36.x86_64 (check, as that specific version may change by the time you read this) to get things bootable. This loses the TPM based decryption.

I recently picked up a new Framework laptop to replace my aging Chromebook, so I’m back on a “real” Linux laptop for the first time in nearly a decade.

That meant it was time to revisit a few old blog posts.

This time, though, I’m running Fedora, so all the work above gets replaced with a single checkbox in the installer!

But my new laptop has a TPM chip, so I can make this even more painless using systemd-cryptenroll. The Fedora installer prompts for a passphrase which I have to enter at every boot. But, if the system hasn’t changed significantly (e.g. from UEFI firmware or Linux kernel updates), then the TPM chip can handle unlocking things on my behalf.

I found a fedora-users mailing list post that gave me the most succinct version of things to get working. Key parts:

  • Use systemd-cryptenroll --tpm2-device=auto -tpm2-pcrs=0+7 /dev/$DEVICE to enroll an additional token to unlock the LUKS volume. In my case, $DEVICE was /dev/nvme0n1p3, but your mileage may vary. This would be the block device backing your LUKS volume. lsblk should make it clear.
  • Edit /etc/crypttab, and change the end of the one line (starting with luks-$UUID) to tpm2-device=auto,discard
  • Until Fedora uses Dracut 056 (see #1976462), you need to create a file called /etc/dracut.conf.d/tss2.conf, with this in it:
    install_optional_items+=" /usr/lib64/libtss2* /usr/lib64/libfido2.so.* "
    

    then run sudo dracut -f

  • Reboot, and enjoy a fancy secure boot experience!

Of course, if your threat model includes state actors or the like, this may not be the right choice to make, but if you’re just wanting to make sure that your system is relatively secure if stolen, and that your boot disk is basically gibberish whenever you dispose of it some day, then I think this is a pretty good compromise.

by pioto at May 17, 2022 08:55 PM

May 14, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London #9), by Ben Aaronovitch

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch My rating: 2 of 5 stars Finally! I’m free of this book! I used to really like this world and its rather unique inhabitants as well as the stories Ben Aaronovitch so expertly told us.This time around, though, I was bored by the lacklustre story at the centre of “Amongst Our Weapons”: An “Angel of Death” is killing the owners of some obscure rings with Lesley being on the hunt for said rings. Peter does his best to prevent further deaths. Through 80% of this instalment in the series, I only read it in bed because it served as a perfect sleeping drug. The abysmal pacing, being told about Beverly’s pregnancy (mostly referred to as “the bulge” which felt derogatory even though it most certainly wasn’t meant like that), quite a few encounters with the culprit but hardly any progress until the very end – it all made for a veritable snoozefest. Nightingale is mostly around and yet feels strangely absent – he doesn’t have much of a role at all. Fortunately, there were a few redeeming moments: Peter refuses to lay a trap to just plain kill the culprit but looks for a...

by Wulf at May 14, 2022 03:13 PM

April 23, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Why I consider Matrix.org’s Abuse team abusive

I’ve been running a Matrix homeserver for a few years now. It’s an interesting technology and the spirit of free open-source messaging (and more!) drew me in. Plus: There are some very nice and interesting people to be virtually met in Matrix! Matrix.org, Matrix’s home, run their own homeserver, of course. In order to deal with spam, harassment, etc. Matrix.org not only gave themselves a Code of Conduct (CoC) but also an abuse team. This Abuse team, though, is something I for one consider harmful and in frequent violation of the CoC they’re charged with supporting. Trying to discuss this leads to being told to email abuse@matrix.org because disussion is regularly squashed in public rooms. This went so far that a certain member of the Abuse team told us, fellow Matrix homeserver operators, “Enough – this conversation is over.” (I call that “Deliberate intimidation“, something their CoC uses as an example for harassment…) in a public room for inter-homeserver coordination. This was especially annoying as we were discussing policy matters, including misconduct… The next action of the Abuse team was to add their Mjolnir instance (a moderation tool) to the room to be able to enforce this authoritarian approach. This...

by Wulf at April 23, 2022 10:19 AM

April 15, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune My rating: 5 of 5 stars »We are who we are not because of our birthright, but because of what we choose to do in this life. It cannot be boiled down to black and white. Not when there is so much in between. You cannot say something is moral or immoral without understanding the nuances behind it.”« From a world obviously different from ours (magic and magical beings exist there!) but closely related to ours, in T.J. Klune’s “The House in the Cerulean Sea” we are told a modern fairy tale about an orphanage and its inhabitants. Linus Baker, a caseworker of the “Department in Charge Of Magical Youth” is charged to investigate an orphanage under the wings of Arthur Parnassus who is overseeing the well-being of six especially dangerous orphaned children – one of them being the devil’s child! What Linus discovers, though, is completely different from what he expected… First and foremost this is a book about kindness and love. There isn’t much “action” because this is a book that lives from the loves it exudes: There is the “master” of the house, Arthur, who is much more...

by Wulf at April 15, 2022 12:28 PM

April 12, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman My rating: 5 of 5 stars »I am the daughter of Black writers. I am descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me. I carry them always.«(From “Gratitude”) I’m not sure what to say or write about this collection of Amanda Gorman’s poetry. Any words I could find would still fall short to describe how amazing and emotionally moving, intellectually brilliant, witty and intelligent this is. “This book, like a ship, is meant to be lived in.” Gorman writes and there’s so much life in “Call Us What We Carry“! When I started reading this collection, I thought it would be a quick read but after stumbling onto this “ship” with this misconception, from early on I found myself reading this carefully, slowly, maybe even reverently. Most often not more than one poem at a time. I long thought poetry had ceased being relevant since Shakespeare’s sonnets but Gorman made me change my mind. The only poems I didn’t love as much as the others were the “erasure poems” (with the very notable exception of “DC PUTSCH” which was amazing!). In those poems, Gorman creates...

by Wulf at April 12, 2022 12:28 PM

April 10, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamín Labatut

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut My rating: 1 of 5 stars This is one of the very few books I’m not finishing. Let me explain why: The problem with this one is that Benjamín Labatut introduces the history of an invention to us. Let’s take the first story on “Prussian Blue” as an example: Labatut starts by shortly describing the invention itself and what lead to it. He then proceeds to tell us about the inventor(s) and how they relate to each other and the world. Labatut does this, and that’s my first issue, at break-neck speed. He drops name after name after name and forms connections between them in rarely more than a single sentence. It’s exhausting and not very illuminating. Much worse, though, whenever there’s insufficient historical evidence Labatut chooses the most lurid and raciest possible explanation. For example Fritz Haber’s (Haber played a most prominent role in chemical warfare) wife, Clara Immerwahr, did commit suicide – but the reasons are unclear. Immerwahr’s marriage to Haber was unhappy on many levels and she may or may not have been against World War I – there are conflicting accounts. Labatut, though, decides to paint...

by Wulf at April 10, 2022 10:02 AM

April 07, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Worms, by Paul Auster

Worms by Paul Auster My rating: 3 of 5 stars A highly metaphorical short story in which an elderly guy is being kind, is being treated kindly himself, gets hurt nevertheless, falls to his knees but gets up once more to reflect on his past and – my first and only guess – is sinking into dementia while considering how the eponymous worms may taste (when he’s gone to his grave), effectively contemplating death. This is so short, devoid of substantial clues and highly abstract that I lack the patience to analyse it in any detail. I read this because Paul Auster – whom I adore, almost worship – wrote it but even to yours truly this didn’t really appeal. Three out of five stars. Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam View all my reviews

by Wulf at April 07, 2022 04:34 PM

April 06, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Planetside (Planetside #1), by Michael Mammay

Planetside by Michael Mammay My rating: 2 of 5 stars This is going to be yet another difficult review. There’s no doubt: “Planetside” is suspenseful and exciting military science fiction. There’s also no doubt there are plot holes, loose ends and an ending that’s extremely problematic. Let’s start at the beginning, though, at which Colonel Carl Butler, semi-retired of Space Command, is sent to the Cappa system by his superior and old acquaintance General Serata. This is where the trouble starts: Michael Mammay keeps hinting at the tour(s?) of duty, Butler completed in Cappa but we never learn what happened, why Butler drinks habitually, how he lost his daughter on planet Cappy and so much more.We get to know that Butler is supposed to find out about the fate of the son of some SPACECOM hotshot but that’s it. Early on in his investigation, Butler realises there’s a lot of weird business going on both “planetside” on Cappa and on the Cappa Base in its orbit. Since Butler’s primary “tactic” is to metaphorically bash in some doors if he can’t think of any real plan (and he usually can’t), he upsets a lot of people from different commands like Medical...

by Wulf at April 06, 2022 04:48 PM

April 01, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales (Bruno, Chief of Police 14.5), by Martin Walker

Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales by Martin Walker My rating: 3 of 5 stars “Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales” consists of 14 short stories featuring rural French cop Bruno who has already “starred” in 14 previous books.The full-size novels (that I prefer) went on a downward spiral around book 10 and mostly picked up at book 14. So I was curious to see how this short story collection would hold up.This was especially true because only six of the collected stories are actually new – the other eight have previously been published. The eponymous “Bruno’s Challenge” is one of those new stories and, sadly, a prime example of all that was wrong with the latest Bruno novels: Endless recipe descriptions, hardly any kind of story. 1 star. “Birthday Lunch” is an older story that I had already read: Another short story from the “Bruno universe”. Unfortunately, like the later novels, this one didn’t have any appeal for me. A large part of it is basically simply a narrated recipe: “He beat the yolks and eggs together with a hundred fifty grams of sugar until they were creamy.” That really doesn’t float my boat, sorry. The rest is just...

by Wulf at April 01, 2022 12:13 PM

March 28, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi My rating: 5 of 5 stars This was great escapist fun! This book read like the happy child of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and Martha Wells’ “Murderbot” (in tone more than in spirit!) with a bit of Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” mixed in for good measure! After so many “mixed reading results” so far this year, this was a much needed blast of fresh, contemporary air that expertly blew away any residue of blues. This is a fun, feel-good book, a book like a really good popcorn movie. This book is, in Scalzi’s own words: »It’s a pop song. It’s meant to be light and catchy, with three minutes of hooks and choruses for you to sing along with, and then you’re done and you go on with your day, hopefully with a smile on your face. I had fun writing this, and I needed to have fun writing this. We all need a pop song from time to time, particularly after a stretch of darkness.« I so enjoyed Jamie Gray, the lead character, who feels like an immensely nice person… Diversity comes naturally into play as well and,...

by Wulf at March 28, 2022 04:17 PM

March 21, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Natasha Trethewey

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey My rating: 4 of 5 stars »All those years I thought that I had been running away from my past I had, in fact, been working my way steadily back to it.« This was not easy to read and even less so to review. In “Memorial Drive” Trethewey remembers her childhood, born 1966, in a still very much segregated Gulfport, Mississippi, USA. Her mother black and her father white this clearly was a challenge. Trethewey’s father leaves the family and when her mother meets another man and, ultimately, marries him, things quickly escalate for young Trethewey who is routinely abused by her stepfather, Joel, who also beats his wife and terrorises the entire family.Joel eventually murders his then-ex wife. First and foremost, “Memorial Drive” is about remembering a loving mother and telling her story. When asked about what Trethewey would want to be a key takeaway from reading “Memorial Drive” she answered as follows: “If I was really honest, I would want for people to fall a little bit in love with her the way I love her. I want people to care so much about her life so that when you...

by Wulf at March 21, 2022 10:59 AM

March 20, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

War in Ukraine

On 24 February 2022, Russian armed forces invaded neighbouring Ukraine on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The pretended reasons of the murderous dictator and war criminal Putin are alleged “numerous crimes committed against the civilian population, including citizens of the Russian Federation”, the demilitarisation and “denazification” of Ukraine, and NATO’s eastward expansion. None of this is true and there is no justification for the invasion by Putin, his government and his military. In my opinion, it is therefore only to be welcomed that large parts of the free world are supporting Ukraine with sanctions, military and humanitarian aid and many other measures. At the same time, Ukraine is constantly negotiating with the aggressor Russia in order to find a peaceful solution. I doubt this will work, because Putin clearly only understands the language of violence. For this reason, the West’s support for Ukraine does not go far enough for me: in Ukraine, in Europe, people are fighting not only for their freedom, their values and their lives, but also for us, for all of Europe. For the freedom of all of us. A brutal mass murderer like Putin, who has political opponents murdered or locked away in camps,...

by Wulf at March 20, 2022 05:18 PM

March 16, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett My rating: 1 of 5 stars We all know them: Those relatives at family reunions who insist on telling “terrific jokes” that make us cringe. If you don’t, let me put you into the right mood: »When asked if they would have sex with Bill Clinton, 86% of women in D.C. said, “Not again.”« Or this one: »3 men are stranded in a boat with 4 cigarettes and no way to light them. So they toss the 4th cigarette overboard, which makes the whole boat a cigarette lighter.« Ok, you’re with me, right? Now imagine a book that’s full of humour like this. A book that tries so hard to be funny that it actually becomes tiresome. I’ve tried “Discworld” before and found it lacking in all departments but “Good Omens” made even that look good. Some actual samples of the humour? Here’s one about sperms: »And there were his fellow trainees—fellow sperms, to switch metaphors, all struggling forward in the knowledge that there could only ever be one Chairman of Industrial Holdings (Holdings) PLC, and that the job would probably go to the biggest prick.«...

by Wulf at March 16, 2022 05:42 PM

March 11, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Detective Kubu Investigates 2, by Michael Stanley

Detective Kubu Investigates 2 by Michael Stanley

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This was supposed to be another “filler” till I found my “next big read” and it all started well enough.

“Shoot to Kill” is an interesting short story featuring Kubu investigating the death of an informant among poachers. It had exactly the right “Kubu vibes” and was a quick and pleasant read. Had all the short stories been this good, the collection would have easily garnered four stars.

“The Case of the Missing Tuba” was amusing. It lacked any real crime (and, sadly, it also lacked Kubu!) but it was still nice enough. (Despite featuring a manipulative ass-hat husband.)

“The Con” has petty crime but it also has the main ingredient – Kubu! And a believable, likeable Kubu at that. His family also features prominently and I was truly amused and thought this short story collection was headed to four stars.

Then came the “Parlor Game”, though. A confusing and utterly failed attempt at imitating Edgar Allan Poe. This short story also lacked Kubu. Even worse, though: It was devoid of any logic. Or original ideas. Or decent human beings.
“Parlor Game” could have been the product of a drunken stupor.

Lastly, “Spirits” came along: Yet another short story extremely thin in terms of actual story. Much spirit/ghost/shaman/you-name-it rubbish and an ending that felt like Michael Stanley hadn’t read anything that came before it…

And that was already all! After about 85% of the entire book, an excerpt from “Facets of Death” followed. So we don’t even actually get a book of Kubu short stories but lots of self-promotion.

Considering all that and the highly unimaginative title, I think two stars out of five are still rather generous…


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by Wulf at March 11, 2022 03:15 PM

March 09, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

One Night on the Island, by Josie Silver

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I just wanted a nice little romance to reset my brain. What I got was a weird mix of hippie crap (self-coupling my arse), commitment issues (Susie, Cleo, the kids, Mack; all suffer, none win).

Cleo, a writer for “Women Today”, writes a column about finding what she calls her “flamingo”, meaning her “soul mate”, “forever love”, you name it.

In an act of defiance – orchestrated by her editor, though – because she keeps finding (and promptly losing) sparrows instead of flamingos, Cleo goes on a trip to (brace yourselves!) “Salvation Island” to “self-couple” for a while in isolation and to ultimately “marry herself”.

By chance, fate or, more realistically, a careless mistake by the owner of the “Otter Lodge” which her magazine rented for her, hectic Londoner Cleo meets “inconvenient American” Mack who intended to recover from a painful separation from his wife in the loneliness of his ancestral island home: Mack’s grandmother used to live on Salvation Island.

Thus set up, the two first make a truce (including a chalk demarcation line and a DMZ!) and, this is a romance after all, decide to have a holiday romance, a “micro-love” as they’re going to call it.

Integrated into the “Salvation Island” society by means of knitting (Cleo) and generally being manly and drinking (Mack), both try to make peace with their lives. They’re just not very good at it, sadly.

Mack is still strongly hung up on his wife Susie. Just like Mack on “Salvation Island” with Cleo, Susie has an affair. An office affair. With her boss, Robert. Separated from Mack for a year, Susie has been with Robert for months but pretty much the minute Mack tells her about Cleo, she wants him back. Cliché? No, not at all!

Mack himself barely resists the urge to kiss Susie under a convenient mistletoe and when Susie kisses him (on Christmas Eve, of course!) the focus conveniently moves away just in time…

Complicating matters, the two have two kids to whom Mack’s entire life is devoted and for whom he’s willing to sacrifice everything – even his own happiness.
I’ve kept wanting to slap Mack, telling him that if he’s so unhappy, he can try as he might; he won’t be able to fool his kids and simply won’t be able to be the father he wants to be for them.

All the while, Cleo stays on the island, sitting in the sand (on a cushion, we don’t want an inconvenient wet arse!), marries herself (which gives her feelings of being deeply profound for reasons entirely escaping me), cries a lot, pines after Mack and talks a lot about “micro-love”.

Tragedy strikes the island, one life ending, one life beginning, Cleo finds her new self and, ultimately, during the big finale, Mack returns to suggest a thousand holiday romances for the two of them to which Cleo meltingly and enthusiastically agrees.

Thus, conveniently never fully committing to each other, they’re implied to have a thousand happily-ever-afters.
I thought I had signed up for a “romantic comedy” but what I got was a bland, half-arsed story about shallow people with commitment issues.

Is this something you’d like to read? Me neither.

Two out of five stars because… it’s not total garbage (just mostly).


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by Wulf at March 09, 2022 04:51 PM

March 05, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Foxes for Christmas, by Ben Aaronovitch

Foxes for Christmas by Ben Aaronovitch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Truly just a “moment” but a nice, kind and amusing one.

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Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam



by Wulf at March 05, 2022 08:10 AM

March 04, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Oh, well, another difficult review to write… I really did like this book and while writing this very sentence I’m still unsure what my final verdict will be.

Evelyn Hugo, fictional Hollywood icon, is – to me – an immensely likeable person: Starting her career in the 1950s she works her way up to become a legend. That alone would already have made for an interesting read because I grew up on films from the Golden Age of Old Hollywood.

When I first read the title I immediately thought of Elizabeth Taylor (eight marriages, seven husbands…) whose work in the film industry has indeed inspired Reid (as I just found out). Just like fictional Evelyn Taylor has been a staunch ally of the LGBTQ* community and an early HIV/AIDS activist.

More than that, how could I not like a bisexual woman who lives through eight tumultous marriages? In a time, more than 20 years into the 21st century, during which still way too many countries, peoples and people do not accept love between consenting adults regardless of their sexual identity and preferences – how could I not like and endorse a book that succeeds at depicting queer relationships in a loving way?

»That night, Celia and I slept nude, holding each other. We no longer pretended to touch by accident. And when I woke up in the morning with her hair in my face, I inhaled, loudly and proudly. Within those four walls, we were unashamed.«

I really enjoyed how unapologetic Evelyn is about the way she fights for what she wants and takes what she thinks should be hers.

»I’m OK with the fact that sometimes doing the right thing gets ugly. And also, I have compassion for myself. I trust myself.«

Whom I liked less, sadly, is Monique Grant, our current-day journalist who is tasked to write Evelyn’s biography. She never materialises fully in the book: While Evelyn is rightly in the spotlight but Monique remains a bit like an unfinished draft: Yes, her story is told and finished but as a person she remains mostly in the shadows. Unlike Evelyn, she’s denied the opportunity to really become a person.

Also, like some other of my fellow reviewers, I felt this book lacked a bit of depth: It was a truly good read but while showing but not exploring violence inside a marriage, while showing true love but also leaving unexplored the deeper reasons why Evelyn is hesitant to come out, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” sadly fails at making a true “impact”.

At times, I felt like this book has come too late – the social battles that were necessary and instrumental in allowing for public queer relationships have been fought and, thankfully, mostly won.

What remains to be achieved is total, utter, complete equality and this book, sadly, does not truly further that cause. It rehashes what most of us have long known but it doesn’t pose any new questions.
While being very entertaining, it satisfies my need for really good entertainment but unlike some other books, it doesn’t challenge my perceptions.

I guess I have my answer: Four of of five stars.




Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam



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by Wulf at March 04, 2022 03:53 PM

February 25, 2022

Wulf C. Krueger

Favours (Alex Verus #6.1), by Benedict Jacka

Favours by Benedict Jacka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a short story told from Sonder’s perspective, primarily featuring him and Caldera. Alex is only mentioned in passing.
Nevertheless, this short story definitely makes you feel right at home back in the Verus universe.

I never really liked either Sonder or Caldera and both their behaviours here just firmly cement this antipathy. Sonder is opportunistic and primarily worries about his future, whereas Caldera takes out her frustration on both Sonder and Anne whom the former pressures into service.

Knowing the events in ”Risen” I was able to mentally lean back and enjoy the show.

Four out of five stars for a surprisingly good story.





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by Wulf at February 25, 2022 10:24 PM