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My top ten book peeves.

So I walk into a bookshop and a book catches my attention. I pick it up and have a quick leaf-through. Is it a book I’d like to buy? Below, in no particular order, are the top ten things that would make me reconsider and put the book back.

1. The new standard size paper back.
Once upon a time, a paperback under 500 pages could be conveniently put into a pocket. I spent most of my school life with a book in my inside-left jacket pocket and more recently in my trouser leg pocket. Since the new standard size, this is no longer the case, they’re now too big and they take up more room on the shelf as well as give books in a series an uneven shelf-line.

2. The story in the book not starting at page 1.
For some reason, the contents page, dedication, copyright page, quotation, other books by the same author/in the same series page, map, page of praise for the author, about the author, the page intentionally left blank, foreword, typeface used page and title page are counted (but not numbered) in the page count meaning that by the time you finally find the story it’s on a page numbered anything from 7 to 23. So if it’s a book 400 pages long, do you subtract the difference, or do you also have to count all the guff after the end of the story as well? Not all books do this, some actually do start at page 1 despite all the faff preceding it, which makes the fact that a lot don’t even more annoying.

3. Excerpts at the back at the book from other books.
With shelf space at a premium, I detest the space wasted by books being several pages thicker than they need to be by featuring the opening chapter or sampler from other books. I find this particularly irksome in trilogies, where if I didn’t enjoy the first book, I’m not likely to read the others, or even keep it, or if I did enjoy it, of course I’m going to read the next two so I really don’t need the first chapter duplicated if I choose to buy them. The older Star Wars books are particularly bad in that they have excerpts for about the same 6 books in almost every single book, including their own book.

4. Multiple pages of author praise (and none of it’s about the book you’re holding).
Apart from being misleading, all this tells me is that at least 20 people out of everyone that has read that author’s books consider them to be “Spellbinding”, “Unputdownable” or “a real page-turner” or other such guff that also tells me that these readers are barely literate or really struggling to say anything meaningful about the author’s works. Are they spellbinding because they have those hypnotic optical illusion covers? Are they unputdownable due to some sort of adhesive smeared over the cover? If it’s a real page-turner, did you read a physical copy where you have to really physically turn the actual real page to read the bloody thing?
If I’m going to have precious bookshelf space (and page count) dedicated to this drivel, at least make it: relevant to the particular book in which they lurk; written by someone who knows how to use those word things; original.

5. The sample page at the front of the book.
Thankfully not all books are burdened by this bit of nonsense. This is a page that you can read that is from the book itself (though is sometimes abridged) to give you an idea of how the book reads. Because you can’t just turn to any single page in the entire bloody book and do that anyway…oh wait, you can. Some books do have on the back cover a suggested page to try out, which works out a lot better and doesn’t waste space.

6. The page dedicated to telling you all about the font used in the book often in quite exquisite detail.
Whoop. De. Do.

7. The ‘about the author page’.
Let me be clear here, I don’t have a problem with the page itself, or even if it goes on over several pages. I find them interesting enough, though nothing I couldn’t have found out on the internet or in every other book by the same author. My issue with this is that there is an irritating inconsistency as to if it’s at the front of the book, or at the back. Why can’t they make up their minds?

8. Too much given away in the blurb.
This is the equivalent of a movie trailer that gives away most of the movie. After I’ve read the blurb, which is almost a short story in its own right, I often go on to discover that there’s little extra in the book except padding.

9. No blurb.
Just what is hidden between the covers of this book? I have to read it and find out? I have too many books on my TBR that I desperately want to read to be wanting to spend time reading…whatever that is.

10. Lack of chronology/book order.
I pick up a book and want to know if it’s the first book in the series, or if it’s a stand-alone. Inside the book in the ‘Books by the same author’ page are the all the books listed but in one of any number of orders but not including the book I’m currently holding. I find a second book by the same author with the list in a different order, and a different length and no mention of either book I’m holding. So these must both be later books then? Which book should I be starting with? Nope, you’ve lost my interest.

Honourable Mentions
Ugly book covers.
From a sea of special offer stickers, I want the one doesn’t have the sticker.
A book from a series not matching the publication of the books I’ve already got.
A book with a sticker you know will not come off.

And that was my top ten book peeves, I hope you enjoyed reading about them. I’d be interested to know if you share any of them or if not. What are your main issues when looking at a book to buy or read?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
If you like what you’ve seen here, check out the rest of my site, there might be something else you’ll enjoy.

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September 2017 Book Wrap-Up

I managed to finish eleven books in September. What were they and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: Read this for my 9-year-old’s bedtime story, his choice.
What is it about?: Two brothers accompany their dad on an expidition to the Amazon to collect rare and unusual creatures for the world’s zoos.
Thoughts: Written and based at a time where terms like ‘animal cruelty’ and ‘animal conservation’ were not fully fledged, Willard Price’s Adventures may be a bit much for the sensibilities for some of today’s readers, young and less young. They are very much of their time which should be taken into consideration in regards to the portrayal of the native Amazonians.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way… This story was an enjoyable traipse down the Amazon river. The boys see many of the Amazon’s marvels and risk life and limb collecting them. You can tell that Willard Price had actually been to many of the places he wrote about by the almost David Attenborough level of natural history in these pages. Having grown up with these books myself, a lot of what I know about the natural world came from this series of books. It’s been at least 25 years since I last read this and I still remember the vamire bat scene vividly (I had forgotten most of the rest).
As usual with this type of adventure story, the luck level that the boys have is turned all the way up to that of Tintin in terms of being able to survive anything that’s thrown at them, be it poison arrows, waterfalls, jaguars, army ants and malaria, to name a few. I almost expected them to find Tintin on the floating island.
The bad guy in the story did feel a little tacked on, there were perils enough from the river and jungle without the need to add ‘Greedy evil white guy’.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: African Adventure, Diving Adventure, Elephant Adventure, Lion Adventure, Safari Adventure, South Sea Adventure, Underwater Adventure, Whale Adventure
What’s next? W.A.R.P: The Forever Man by Eoin Colfer
Why I read it: I had read book 1 to my wife and we both really enjoyed it. Decided to see how book 2 fared.
What is it about?: Newly named Valkyrie Cain and her skeletal detective find themselves on another case where someone is trying to bring the Faceless Ones back to Earth.
Thoughts: The elements that made us fall in love with the first book: the witty banter, the sarcasm, the excellent characters; are thankfully very much in this story too. It is very much a continuation of the adventures rather than a second story which gives a good sense on continuity. It’s clear not much time has passed since the events of the first book. Valkyrie is still learning what she can do and still mastering how to do it and her relationships with Skulduggery and Tanith are still developing.
Although the story is very enjoyable and the characters are most entertaining, the plot does have a recycled feeling in that it’s pretty much the same as the last one: Bad guy gets an all-powerful maguffin; he attempts to bring back the Faceless Ones (Cthulhu and the Old Ones); the heroes battle through hoards of minions and are finally victorious. This all forgiven in the fabulous telling of the story, but I just felt that I had to address that it’s the exact same plot as book one (and many other stories, for that matter).
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: Skulduggery Pleasant
What’s next? Alex Rider VIII: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz
Why I read it: I spotted this in a book shop and, having enjoyed Skulduggery Pleasant, also by Derick Landy, I though I’d give it a go.
What is it about?: Sixteen year old Amber suddenly discovers that her heritage is a little more interesting that she was led to believe. Unfortunately, it means running from everything she knew in order to stay alive.
Thoughts: This is much darker and bloodier than Skulduggery and is aimed at slightly older readers. Landy’s wit is still here, though less prolific than in Skulduggery. This certainly has an interesting premise and I appreciate the fact that Amber is pretty useless in this new world she finds herself in. So many stories have our heroine thrust into a ‘world behind our world’ and within pages are doing battle against the big bad as if they’ve been trained from birth to wield whatever power they suddenly discover they’ve been imbued with. That being said, while it was indeed refreshing that Amber is going through a transnational period where she finds out who and what she is, her blatant stupidity did get on my nerves from time to time. There are certain decisions and responses she took which had me yelling inside my head “What are you doing?!”
It’s also interesting to note the switch that takes place from after she goes on the run until the final showdown. Outside of these points, the story is centred on Amber and her situation. In between these points there is almost a mini-series of X-Files-esk episodes. Amber and her companions go from one location to the next each time ultimately solving various supernatural issues. Lifting curses, destroying vampires and battling witches, to name a only few. A lot of this is due to the fact that they are driving along ‘The Demon Road’ where such things are more likely to occur. Each location does have an overarching plot point but the length of the book (507 pages) is mainly due to Amber arriving at yet another location and being faced with yet another fiend. The fact that she is being hounded by the same group who wants her dead is the only thing that helps move this story along with any sense of urgency. Personally, I was happy with the length of the book and the number of stoppages along the way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers might find that it goes on a bit too long.
I certainly enjoyed this one, and picked up book two before I was even halfway through.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: Skulduggery Pleasant; Playing With Fire
What’s next? October’s Book Of The Month: Demon Road 2: Desolation
Why I read it: Reading through all the horror in the house. Worked my way up from James Herbert to Goosebumps.
What is it about?: In a time before GPS and keeping a physical map in your car, a family gets lost driving to a zoo and find a creepy amusement park instead.
Thoughts: Despite the unbelievable premise of them actually going into the park after their car just explodes, this was actually a pretty decent story. The particularly dumb kids had amazingly cast-iron bladder control as they are repeatedly terrorised to their very limits on every ride they go one. The took a very lengthy car journey in the first place and at no time has anyone taken a bathroom brake. Despite being scared out of their wits, the kids keep trying out different rides and getting terrified all over again.
The big realisation was so in the face obvious that there wasn’t even a modicum of surprise and the final showdown was a bit silly. The “…or were they?” ending was wasted as a cheap joke.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 26 other Goosebumps
What’s next? Goosebumps: Ghost Beach
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: A brother and sister visit a couple of elderly relatives who live on a small island where everyone’s apparently descended from the same family who arrived there a few hundred years ago.
Thoughts: This is essentially the same plot from Welcome To Dead House but far less creepy. The jump scares are tired and overused, by this time we know that the main character can’t sneak anywhere without their sibling or friend following them and suddenly grabbing them from behind. I saw the big reveal a mile away and even the “…or where they?” ending was entirely predictable, though it does benefit from having a cliffhanger ending.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: 27 other Goosebumps
What’s next? Revenge Of The Garden Gnomes
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: In a world with no fences and dogs who eat vegetables, a gardening nut buys two garden gnomes for his garden. The horror!
Thoughts: This is a pretty standard story of inanimate objects coming alive during the night and causing havoc. By ‘havoc’ I mean eating vegetables and petty vandalism. Most of the story involves the kids taking their sweet time in putting two and two together and then doing something about it. The title of the story is misleading; there is no revenge to be had. With the exception of the basement scene at the end, there’s very little threat.
The “…or were they?” ending was a little predictable and fairly ludicrous.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: 28 other Goosebumps
What’s next? A Shocker On Shock Street
Why I read it: Doing my best to read through my graphic novel collection.
What is it about?: While the Jedi protect a senator from assassination, a senate guard investigates the sources of the killers.
Thoughts: As much as I like reading about the Jedi, it was very refreshing to have the focus of someone else for a change. In this case, one of the blue senate guards, named Sagoro Autem. Here we learn about his work-life, his family life and his disdain for the Jedi. I also appreciated seeing the underground sport of Pit Racing first seen in the beginning of Greg Bear’s Rogue Planet that saw a young padawan Anakin Skywalker face off against a blood carver.
As with many ‘cop’ stories, the family did have the usual tropes of neglected wife and out of control children with nothing we haven’t seen many times before. The mystery of the whodunnit was revealed pretty early on leaving the reader to simply watch the guard discover the truth for himself.
The artwork was perfectly serviceable. The likenesses weren’t all that close, but was at least consistent and I could still tell who was who.
This volume concludes with a follow-up story, Loyalties, that follows Sagoro as an officer in the newly formed Empire. As the next round of purges takes place, he finds himself on the run from Darth Vader. This was a fairly standard hunted story with a twist that was pretty obvious. Nevertheless, it was a fitting conclusion to Sagoro’s story. The artwork is noticeably different here, less cartoony than the main story and did the story justice.
Score: Buy it/td>
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars
What’s next? Jango Fett
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: Jango Fett is hired by a mysterious benefactor to steal an idol.
Thoughts: What I liked most about this story (and it’s follow-up) are the brief glimpses we get of Jango being a dad to his ‘son’ Boba. When they’re on screen in the films, Jango and Boba are both cold, calculating and mostly faceless. This was a great insight into the type of relationship they had.
The story itself was rather empty. There’s the botched job at the beginning then there’s an extensive showcase of quite impressive artwork as Jango makes his way through the jungle. The by-play with Zam Wesell worked well though.
My biggest complaint is the book’s length. I know it’s a duology with Zam Wesell, but I feel there was a missed opportunity to flesh out Jango’s character a little more.
As already mentioned, the artwork is quick impressive with an usual style for a graphic novel that worked quite well.
Score: Worth reading.
I’ve also read: Lots of Star Wars
What’s next? The follow-up book: Zam Wesell
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: It turns out that the idol that Jango stole in Jango Fett was actually a maguffin capable of blowing up Coruscant. Some terrorists try to do exactly that.
Thoughts: Where Jango Fett’s book focused on Jango Fett, Zam Wesell’s book focuses on…Jango Fett, or the Jedi Council, or the terrorists, or a street kid getting bullied. Rest assured, Zam Wesell is actually in this book. She gets naked. So there’s that. You also get a couple of demonstrations of what she can do with her ability, which is good.
What drives this book is the frequently trodden story of a group of terrorists hell-bent on causing a lot of destruction by using the maguffin Jango provided in the first book. Now it’s a race against time for Zam and Jango to retrieve the thingummy before it’s too late. Jedi Master Yareal Poof is also on the case. As I’ve said it’s a well-used formula and, because of that, it works quite well. Coupled with that are the interesting relationship that forms between the two bounty hunters and further snippets of Jango Fett playing dad to Boba. This has plenty to add to the Star Wars universe.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars books
What’s next? Clone Wars Volume 1: The Defense Of Kamino
Why I read it: Something to read at my desk while the frequent IT issues leave me staring at an unresponsive screen. I’ve read this one before.
What is it about?: A publishing firm receives a manuscript for a high contraverisal, thus best selling book from an anonymous author. To sell it to America, they convince unpublished novelist Peter Piper to stand in as the author.
Thoughts: This is a satorical take on book writers, book publishers and book marketability. I get the impression that, as an author, Tom Sharpe had found the literaary world at the time to be full of contradictory barriors and other nonsense. He certainly comes across as knowledgeable (or at least well-reseached) about literarly greatness and penmanship. This is a somewhat dryer satire than some of his other works. Yes, there are some of the laugh-out-loud farcical moments his books are best know for, but they’re few and far between. It’s certainly a lot funnier than I remember it being the last time I read it however.
I think the main problem with the story is that there isn’t much of a plot. Once Peter gets to America and ‘dies’, the story just preambles about without much direction. A few humerous things happen but it all does just peter out towards the end.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Ancestral Vices; Indecent Exposure; Porterhouse Blue; Riotous Assembly; The Throwback; Vintage Stuff; Wilt; The Wilt Alternatice; Wilt On High.
What’s next? Popcorn by Ben Elton
Why I read it: Still working my way through those graphic novels of mine.
What is it about?: The Clone Wars have begun and the source of the Clones is a primary target. It needs defending.
Thoughts: This is more of a short-story collection that contains 3 stories: Sacrifice, The Defence Of Kamino and Mace Windu (the first of a Jedi series of stories).
Sacrifice follows Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura tracking down some information regarding the CIS’s next focus for attack. It also introduces Quinlan’s love interest Khaleen Hentz. It’s another beautiful creation from John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. Bonus marks for having a Falleen antagonist which made for an intense conclusion to the story.
The Defence of Kamino is itself split into 3 smaller tales telling the story of the battle from three focus points. The first follows Obi-Wan Kenoby and newly-married and lovesick Anakin Skywalker as they engage the droid fighters over Tapoca City. The next follows Kit Fisto and Aayla Secura as they are joined by a very lippy ARC Trooper as they try to safeguard the facility from the inside. The final story segment follows a band of misled Mon Calamari as they try to destroy the facility. Each story has its own creative team but they do suffer from the very short lengths and the Mon Calamari story is a bit of a mess.
Mace Windu then gets a story in the first of a series of Jedi comics. He meets up with some dissident Jedi headed by Sora Bulq in an attempt to bring them back to the fold. Here we’re introduced to the first ever appearance of the excellent Asajj Ventress, who has other ideas. Another Ostrander/Duursema creation, so it looks beautiful and the story is very compelling.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars books.
What’s next? A reread of Star Wars: Clone Wars 2: Victories & Sacrifices

So, that was September.
What’s up for October?

Read Completely:
1. Desolation by Derek Landy (Book 2 of the Demon Road Trilogy & my book of the month)
2. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
3. Star Wars: Clone Wars 3-5
4. The Walking Dead 5: The Best Defence

Finish:
5. The Massacre Of Mankind by Stephen Baxter (as a matter of urgency)
6. The Long Cosmos by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
7. Star Wars: Clone Wars 2: Victories And Sacrifices
8. Muddle Earth (Reading to my youngest)
9. X-Files: Antibodies by Kevin J. Anderson
10. Alex Rider: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horrowitz (reading to my wife)
11. Popcorn by Ben Elton

50 Pages of:
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia
Quantum Leap: Random Measures by Ashley McConnell
Redwall: Mariel Of Redwall by Brian Jacques

As much as I can of:
W.A.R.P.: The Forever Man by Eoin Coiffer (reading to my oldest).
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World by Harry Harrison
Robin Hood According To Spike Milligan
Doctor Who: Dead Of Winter by James Goss

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Book Tags – The Peculiar Book Tag

This is a tag created by Jesse The Reader celebrating his favourite book trilogy: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Q1: Abandoned house- A book that you once abandoned but then gave another chance and ended up enjoying.
A1:
I may have been a bit young for this one first time round. My father recommended to me but after the seventh chapter that introduced a seventh character, I’d lost all interest. Tried it again a few years later and I now consider this to be one of my top series of books.
Q2: Vintage photographs- A book you would have loved to see illustrations in.
A2:
There’s already some fantastic front and back cover art, as wells as some funky letter heading. Shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to give us some illustrations too.
Q3: Loop- A series that you wouldn’t mind reading on loop.
A3:
This series has a permanent place in my reading pile. Currently working on my first read-through now it’s complete…sniff.
Q4: Peculiar Children- A character’s ability that you desire to have for yourself.
A4:
Lana’s healing hands. Shouldn’t need to elaborate on that.
Q5: Miss Peregrine- Your favorite character that is a leader.
A5:
Good ‘ol Vimes. A natural leader who just gets on with what needs doing and is willing to change, despite himself.
Q6: Jacob- Your favorite story where a regular kid discovers an extraordinary world.
A6:
Just imagine that instead of being thrust into a world of stunning amazement, you find yourself in a world chock full of WTF creatures, landscapes and moments.
Q7: Emma- A fierce and fiery character.
A7:
Valkyrie Cain, despite her youth and inexperience, gives as good as she gets with her sharp tongue.
Q8: Millard- A book that seems to be invisible but needs to be read by more people.
A8:
No one talks about this fantastic series! It’s only four books long as so utterly brilliant. Go read it now!
Q9: Olive- A book you bought that floated to the top of your TBR.
A9:
This kicked off my revised reading scheme of reading a book of the month before I’m allowed to continue as normal.
Q10: Hugh- A book that stung and caused a lot of feelings.
A10:
The…last…sob…Discworld…sob…novel…boohoohoo…ever!
Q11: Enoch- Without spoiling, a book character that you would bring back to life.
A11:
SPOILERS! If you’ve read the book, you know who I mean!
Q12: Bronwyn- A physically strong character.
A12:
Only a man like Carrot can skewer a man with his sword and not notice he’s also skered the stone pillar behind him.
Q13: Hollowgasts- A book you read that felt like an experiment gone wrong.
A13:
Just what the hell? This was a mess.
Q14: Whites- A book that felt like it consumed tropes that you’ve seen done in other books
A14:
Not only is it full of standard jump-scare tropes, it’s full of the same standard jump-scare tropes used in
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Book Tags – Job Interview

As I sit here waiting for the job interview this afternoon that determines whether I get to keep my job or not, here’s a book tag I’ve come up with as a distraction to not think about the upcoming 45 minutes that may impact my life.

Q1: Which three book characters would you like to have on the panel and why?
A1:
1- Captain Carrot from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series because he’s not an idiot and will ask pertinent and straightforward questions.
2- Avasarala from C. A. Corey’s The Expanse series. Yes, she would be terrifying to be interviewed by but she will ask the questions that will get the best answers from me.
3- Skulduggery Pleasant from Derek Landy’s series of the same name. Who wouldn’t want to be interviewed by a sarcastic living skeleton?

Q2: Where would you like to have your interview?
A2: At the top of the Wyrmberg, of course. (From by Terry Pratchett)

Q3: Apart from the Q&A what task would you like to be asked to do?
A3: Reenact Monty Python And The Quest For The Holy Grail like Parzival does Ferry’s Bueller’s Day Off in by Ernest Cline.

Q4: What would your ideal job/roll be?
A4: Probably Liam O’Conner’s in the series by Alex Scarrow but with the issue with the side-effects fixed.

Q5: How would you like to be told the result of the interview?
A5: Spelled out across the sky with strategically placed novas, a method of advertising used in by Douglas Adams.

Q6: What security would you like the organisation to have/Who would you show your Visitor lanyard to?
A6: Samandra Bree and her Century Knights from Chris Wooding’s Ketty Jay series.

As the hour approaches I’m getting more nervous so will leave it there so I can go prepare.

I hope you enjoyed this tag. If you want to give it a go yourself go right ahead, just source WyrmbergMalcolm as its creator.

Feel free to hang about on this site and check out what else I’ve been up to.

Keep on reading.

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Book Tags – Guilty Reader

One of my previous Book Tags was liked by Thrice Read. I checked out their site and this tag created by ReadLikeWildfire caught my eye.
So here goes:

Q1: Have you ever regifted a book that you’ve been given?
A1: Only if you count passing them on to my kids.

Q2: Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?
A2: No. I can’t even imagine a situation where this would even happen.

Q3: Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?
A3: No. I once blatantly stole a book from my school library. It was book 8 of the next to impossible to get hold of Grail Quest game books. I still feel it was justified.

Q4: Have you ever read a series out of order?
A4: Temperance Brennan: Books 10, 3, 1, 8. They were on the shelf at work and turned up in that order. I think they’re sufficiently stand-alone to not be an issue. I would never read a sequential series out of order. I’m even trying to read my entire Star Wars collection in chronological order (and failing miserably).

Q5: Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?
A5: Depends of you read my spoiler reviews having ignored the spoiler warning.

Q6: Have you ever doggy eared a book?
A6: During morning chapel at school I used to dog-ear the sung pages of the hymn books to see if I would ever end up singing from the same hymn from the same book again. My petty vandalism was massively overshadowed one morning when a couple of boys decided it would be a good idea to put a rather large earthworm in their hymnbook and slam it shut.

Q7: Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?
A7: Yes. Myself. I’ve bought I book I told myself I didn’t have only to take it home and discover that I do.

Q8: Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?
A8: Depends if you consider 90% of Great Expectations ‘read’ or not. Had to do it for English Lit GCSE. Absolutely loathed it and refused on principle to finish it. I still maintain that I have not read it.

Q9: Have you every skipped a chapter or a section of a book?
A9: In those books where the chapters switch between different characters and a chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, I have jumped ahead to their next chapter to see if they’re okay. Once their fate is known, I’ll then go back and read through.

Q10: Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?
A10: If I like something, I’m very protective of it. That’s not to say I won’t say it like it is, though. I know, for example, that Matthew Reilly’s books are adrenalin-filled garbage, but that doesn’t mean I don’t thoroughly enjoy them and are probably my favourite action books.

That was fun.
Let me know if you fancy a go.
Keep on reading!

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Book Tags – Top Five Most Read Authors

Having seen Jesse The Reader‘s take on this, I thought I’d give it a go.

Just for reference I have read 1,027 books by 393 different authors or author collaborations.
241 authors share last place with only 1 book read each.

In 5th Place: Jude Watson – 15 Books
A prolific author of Star Wars books aimed for younger readers, namely the Jedi Apprentice series that follow the exploits of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi and his tutelage under Qui-Gon Jinn. These books are not easy to get hold of in England and I rely on lucky finds in charity shops. This would be a bigger number otherwise. I’ve read 140 Star Wars books so far and enjoy the lot. I’ve not read any Disney Star Wars excepting the two movie novelisations.
01 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Captive Temple
02 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Dangerous Rescue
03 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Dark Rival
04 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Day Of Reckoning
05 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Deadly Hunter
06 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Defenders Of The Dead
07 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Fight For Truth
08 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Hidden Past
09 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Mark Of The Crown
10 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Shattered Peace
11 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Ties That Bind
12 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Uncertain Path
13 Star Wars: Jedi Quest: The False Peace
14 Star Wars: Legacy Of The Jedi
15 Star Wars: Secrets Of The Jedi

In 4th Place: Roald Dahl – 21 Books
One of my main staples growing up and revisited again reading them to my children. There are many classics here that either have a live-action or animated movie, or both:
01 Boy
02 Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
03 Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
04 Danny Champion Of The World
05 Esio Trot
06 Fantastic Mr. Fox
07 George’s Marvellous Medicine
08 James And The Giant Peach
09 Matilda
10 The BFG
11 The Enormous Crocodile
12 The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me
13 The Magic Finger
14 The Twits
15 The Witches

I’m really not into poetry, but these definitely work for me:
16 Dirty Beasts
17 Revolting Rhymes

I was introduced to his more adult stories with Lamb To The Slaughter, a short story with a cliff-hanger ending, by Mr Cookson, my English teacher as an example of story-writing. I went on to read a few more of them:
18 Tales Of The Unexpected
19 More Tales Of The Unexpected
20 Skin and Other Stories
21 The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar And Six More

In 3rd place is: R. L. Stine – 27 books.
I’d been curious about the Goosebumps series for a while, but it wasn’t until I was on placement for teacher-training that I was able to raid the schools’ libraries and give them a go. I’m currently reading the ones I’ve since picked up for the kids so this list is growing. Never seen the show.
01 Goosebumps: Attack Of The Mutant
02 Goosebumps: Bad Hare Day
03 Goosebumps: Be Careful What You Wish For
04 Goosebumps: Beast From The East
05 Goosebumps: Calling All Creeps
06 Goosebumps: Deep Trouble
07 Goosebumps: Egg Monsters From Mars
08 Goosebumps: Go Eat Worms
09 Goosebumps: How I Got My Shrunken Head
10 Goosebumps: Lets Get Invisible!
11 Goosebumps: Monster Blood
12 Goosebumps: Monster Blood II
13 Goosebumps: One Day At Horrorland
14 Goosebumps: Piano Lessons Can Be Murder
15 Goosebumps: Return Of The Mummy
16 Goosebumps: Say Cheese And Die!
17 Goosebumps: Stay Out Of The Basement
18 Goosebumps: The Abominable Snowman Of Pasadena
19 Goosebumps: The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb
20 Goosebumps: The Headless Ghost
21 Goosebumps: The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight
22 Goosebumps: The Werewolf Of Fever Swamp
23 Goosebumps: Welcome To Camp Nightmare
24 Goosebumps: Welcome To Dead House
25 Goosebumps: You Can’t Scare Me!
26 Goosebumps Special Edition: Tales To Give You Goosebumps
27 Goosebumps Series 2000: Cry Of The Cat

In 2nd place is: Harry Harrison – 36 books. (40, including collaborations with other authors)
After Dick King-Smith, Roald Dahl and Willard Price my father introduced me to his extensive Sci-Fi collection that included the wonderful Harry Harrison amongst other greats such as Isacc Asmiov, Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Joe Halderman, Jack Vance, James White, Philip K. Dick, A. E. Van Vogt, Anne McCaffrey, Lloyd Biggle Jr., Robert Heinlein, James Blish and Bob Shaw. The list goes on. However, Harry Harrison captivated me with his Eden trilogy; an alternative world where the dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct, entertained me with his Stainless Steel Rat series; just how do you be a criminal where there’s space-age security?, and bedazzled me with Deathworld 1 (just read it, you’ll see why).
01 Bill The Galactic Hero
02 Bill The Galactic Hero On The Planet Of Robot Slaves
03 Captive Universe
04 Deathworld 1
05 Deathworld 2
06 Deathworld 3
07 Galactic Dreams
08 In Our Hands The Stars
09 Invasion: Earth
10 One Step From Earth
11 Planet Of No Return
12 Planet Of The Damned
13 Planet Story
14 Rebel In Time
15 Stainless Steel Visions
16 Star Smashers Of The Galaxy Rangers
17 The Men From P.I.G. and R.O.B.O.T.
18 A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born
19 The Stainless Steel Rat
20 The Stainless Steel Rat For President
21 The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted
22 The Stainless Steel Rat Goes To Hell
23 The Stainless Steel Rat Joins The Circus
24 The Stainless Steel Rat Returns
25 The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World
26 The Stainless Steel Rat Sings The Blues
27 The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You
28 The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge
29 The Technicolor Time Machine
30 To The Stars: Homeworld
31 To The Stars: Wheelworld
32 To The Stars: Starworld
33 Two Tales And Eight Tomorrows
34 West Of Eden
35 West Of Eden: Return To Eden
36 West Of Eden: Winter In Eden
(37) Bill The Galactic Hero On The Planet Of Bottled Brains with Robert Sheckley
(38) Bill The Galactic Hero On The Planet Of Tasteless Pleasure with David Bischoff
(39) The Lifeship with Gordon R. Dickson
(40) The Turing Option with Marvin Minsky

Regular visitors to this site shouldn’t be surprised that my most read author is: Terry Pratchett with 54 books (70, including collaborations with other authors). His all-encompassing Discworld series is a masterpiece in story-telling and the exploration human nature. Its wide range of themes should ensure that everyone has a good chance of finding at least one book in the series that they can enjoy. That being said, his other non-Discworld works are also top notch.
With a couple of his stand alone books, book 4 of the Science of Discworld and this month I’m intending to read the last book in his fantastic Long Earth series (co-written with Stephen Baxter) so this list has a little growing left to do.
01 A Blink Of The Screen
02 Bromeliad: Truckers
03 Bromeliad: Diggers
04 Bromeliad: Wings
05 Discworld: A Hat Full Of Sky
06 Discworld: Carpe Jugulum
07 Discworld: Equal Rites
08 Discworld: Eric
09 Discworld: Feet Of Clay
10 Discworld: Going Postal
11 Discworld: Guards! Guards!
12 Discworld: Hogfather
13 Discworld: I Shall Wear Midnight
14 Discworld: Interesting Times
15 Discworld: Jingo
16 Discworld: Lords And Ladies
17 Discworld: Making Money
18 Discworld: Masquerade
19 Discworld: Men At Arms
20 Discworld: Monstrous Regiment
21 Discworld: Mort
22 Discworld: Moving Pictures
23 Discworld: Night Watch
24 Discworld: Pyramids
25 Discworld: Raising Steam
26 Discworld: Reaper Man
27 Discworld: Small Gods
28 Discworld: Snuff
29 Discworld: Sorcery
30 Discworld: Soul Music
31 Discworld: The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents
32 Discworld: The Colour Of Magic
33 Discworld: The Fifth Elephant
34 Discworld: The Last Continent
35 Discworld: The Light Fantastic
36 Discworld: The Shepherd’s Crown
37 Discworld: The Truth
38 Discworld: The Wee Free Men
39 Discworld: Thief Of Time
40 Discworld: Thud!
41 Discworld: Unseen Academicals
42 Discworld: Where’s My Cow?
43 Discworld: Wintersmith
44 Discworld: Witches Abroad
45 Discworld: Wyrd Sisters
46 Dodger
47 Dragons At Crumbling Castle
48 Johnny Maxwell: Only You Can Save Mankind
49 Johnny Maxwell: Johnny And The Dead
50 Johnny Maxwell: Johnny And The Bomb
51 Nation
52 The Carpet People
53 The Dark Side Of The Sun
54 The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner
(55) Discworld: The Discworld Companion with Stephen Briggs
(56) Discworld: The Discworld Mapp with Stephen Briggs
(57) Discworld: Death’s Domain with Paul Kidby
(58) Discworld: The Last Hero with Paul Kidby
(59) Discworld: Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook with Stephen Briggs, Tina Hannan & Paul Kidby
(60) Discworld: The Science Of Discworld with Ian Stewart & Jack Cohan
(61) Discworld: The Science Of Discworld II: The Globe with Ian Stewart & Jack Cohan
(62) Discworld: The Science Of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch with Ian Stewart & Jack Cohan
(63) Discworld: The Streets Of Ankh Morpork with Stephen Briggs
(64) Discworld: A Tourist Guide To Lancre with Stephen Briggs
(65) Discworld: The Wit And Wisdom Of Discworld with Stephen Briggs
(66) Good Omens with Neil Gaiman
(67) The Long Earth with Stephen Baxter
(68) The Long Earth: The Long Mars with Stephen Baxter
(69) The Long Earth: The Long War with Stephen Baxter
(70) The Long Earth: The Long Utopia with Stephen Baxter

I ought to also mention Alex Scarrow and Matthew Reilly who are neck and neck at 12 books each and both looking to get into the top five very soon.

Phew, I’m glad I decided against putting in images in this one!
Which are your most read authors?
If you enjoyed that, then feel free to hang around here and check out my other stuff.
Keep on reading.

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August 2017 Book Wrap-Up

Managed all of twelve books this month. What were they and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: I liked the look of it so picked it up.
What is it about?: It is now the 13th occupation. The 13th time humanity has spread across the stars. Two sisters sign up to crew on a ship hoping for adventure and providing extra income for their father.
Thoughts: This was nothing like I was expecting to the degree that the first few chapters felt like they were a misprint from a different story entirely. However, once I’d gotten used to the in-universe way of talking and come to grips with the period-drama in space aspect, I found this story increasingly engrossing the more I read it.
I was not prepared for the significant event when it happened, nor the degree to which it did what it did. This book continued to surprise me with the directions it took.
Unfortunately, where there were twists and big reveals, I had sussed them out pretty much before they were made apparent but I did enjoy following the characters as they discovered them for themselves.
My other quibble was the language used for certain terms that did take me out of the story a bit or has me still pondering as to what the thing actually is. For example, instead of the words ‘air’ or ‘oxygen’ it’s referred to as ‘lungstuff’ which is a bit more of a mouthful, particularly when they refer to something being ‘lungstuff tight’. Also, I think a ‘Swallower’ is the core of a planet, thereby generating gravity (or it’s a device that generates it) and ‘Bauble’ is a space-station, but I’m not completely sure.
I’ve heard this book described as Firefly meets Treasure Island and that was what probably mislead me. Yes, there were elements in here of them, but I wouldn’t have said sufficiently to have used them to describe this book. In fact, it’s very hard to give an accurate description without going into spoiler territory.
This story introduced me to a rich and complete universe that I enjoyed visiting and was delighted to discover that a sequel is being planned.
Score: Booktastic!
What’s next? September’s book of the month…which I’ll pick on the 1st of September (almost at random, it appears).
Why I read it: It was lying about at work, thought I’d give it a go.
What is it about?: A stand-up comedian, a painter and his autistic brother are kidnapped by a scientist who injects them with an unknown substance. The scientist lets them go with the knowledge that he is being hunted by people who’ll kill them if they knew what they carried in their bloodstreams.
Thoughts: This is the sixth Dean Koontz novel I’ve read, and it’s instantly become my favourite so far (though Lightning will forever by my first). The title and the cover suggest some sort of werewolf story, and that’s what I expected. I was wrong. No, I’m not going to tell you, SPOILERS!
The story was thrilling and exciting if a little light, plot-wise. However, where most stories use words to be told, this book is a masterpiece of a story being used to write words. Koontz probably wore out his thesaurus on this one. The way each scene or thought or action is described contains a hedonistic display of words expertly woven together in a way I’ve rarely come across without being pretentious cadswallop.
I enjoyed the story immensely, but I can’t help feel that I would have enjoyed reading the instructions for assembling a flat-packed French dresser if they were written in this style. The revelations were cunningly hinted at often, but without context, were not apparent until they happened. The wonderful uplifting ending was certainly not where I expected to have ended up and was glad of it.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Lightning, Twilight Eyes, Velocity, The Face, Darkness Comes
What’s next? The Great Pursuit by Tom Sharpe
Why I read it: I have a truckload of Star Wars books. Doing my best to get through them chronologically.
What is it about?: The New Republic have finally quelled all the Imperial uprisings and it is now a time for rebuilding. Luke Skywalker is very keen to start up a new Jedi Academy, and Han and Chewie go on a diplomatic mission to Kessel.
Thoughts: There’s a lot going on in this book which is almost a mini series on its own. From the spice mines of Kessel to Blobracing to Leia dealing with affairs of state to the Maw Installation and back again. I’d almost say it was too much, particularly as this is a trilogy. However, much of the peripheral stuff is concluded by the end of the book, leaving only the main story arcs in play. This includes an event that was brilliantly underplayed and it was only later than I realised something was amiss.
This is also the first book for a while that has much of the main ‘cast’ from the films. It was great seeing the band back together, if only in story rather than scene.
A solid start to what looks to be an enjoyable trilogy. Bring on book 2!
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 135 other Star Wars titles I’m not going to bother list here.
What’s next? The 2nd book of the trilogy: Dark Apprentice
Why I read it: Having read and enjoyed the first four books of this series with my wife, I couldn’t help but pick this up when I spotted it in the library.
What is it about?: The American Civil War has gone on too long and the zombie menace is getting out of control. Those who want to stop the war for good have to resort to desperate measures to avoid those who will profit from its continuation.
Thoughts: A very different story from the rest of the series which was at the same time refreshing and detracting.
The multiple POVs were a little unbalanced with Maria’s sections the more interesting of the three. I’d also say that the book title is a little misleading in that the Fiddlehead itself merely started the proceedings and barely featured otherwise.
The siege also felt like it went on a bit too long. Maria did something interesting, back to the siege, back to Maria doing more interesting stuff, back to the siege, etc. However, but the end I did find myself really routing for the President.
The conclusion was fine, but it did feel like a bit of a missed opportunity. The zombies (or any otherworldly thing) are always going to be one of the intriguing aspects of a story and the resolution is only hinted at.
This is also the least chronologically dependent book in the series. Yes, it does reference the events and characters in the other books, but only in passing. Knowledge of those books wouldn’t change to relevance of the references.
The stand out character was the mysterious Kirby Troost who could very well feature in his own spin-off series.
Score: Worth Reading
I’ve also read: Boneshaker; Dreadnaught; Ganymede; The Inexplicables
What’s next? Skulduggery Pleasent 2: Playing With Fire
Why I read it: Have zillions of Star Wars books. Gotta read ’em.
What is it about?: Luke Skywalker new Jedi Academy is now up and running, but a sinister force is endangering his students. Meanwhile, the very heart and soul of the New Republic has been targeted by the Empire.
Thoughts: Like with the first book in the trilogy, there is a lot going on here. Don’t read the sizeable blurbs on the back of these books, they’re full of spoilers.
In a way, I quite like seeing an naive and inexperienced Luke Skywalker attempting to kick-start the Jedi academy. On the other hand, the whole ‘teaching’ process he uses is very Zen and airy-fairy. These guys are supposed to be Jedi not a bunch of hippies. There doesn’t seem to be much instructing beyond ‘Go out into the jungle and find yourself’. I also don’t really buy that, even after a mysterious and horrific death, they all don’t just move on out of there or face the threat at all.
Jaina and Jacen have an interesting little ‘adventure’ in the bowels of Coruscant. It’s always interesting to see what’s going on down there, even if the whole stint didn’t really amount to much.
The other main theme throughout this book is the ownership of the Millennium Falcon as Han and Lando repeatedly gamble for her. It certainly shows which of the two is the better friend to the other.
Score: But it
I’ve also read: 136 other Star Wars books.
What’s next? Book 3: Champions Of The Force
Why I read it: I’ve just barrelled my way through the first two books of the trilogh, so of course I’m going to read the final one. I was supposed to have read Shadow Games, but that’ll have to wait until next time.
What is it about?: An Imperial governor is on the hunt to kidnap baby Anakin Solo, Chewbacca leads a rescue mission to free Wookiee slaves and the Jedi students must work together to save their fallen master.
Thoughts: As before, there is a lot going on in this book. There are many unrelated plots running parallel to each other, with only the occasional cross over. Despite this, these many threads do seem to have been woven together pretty effectively. As with all tales told this way, it’s only natural that the reader will prefer one thread than another but I found even the less interesting threads good enough to be happy about it.
I very much enjoyed Lando’s shameless optimism when trying to woo newly reformed Mara Jade and the bureaucratic idiots in charge of the Death Star were downright hilarious, if admittedly a little characatureish.
On the whole this was a solid trilogy with some interesting and ket developments. Looking back, it feels like I’ve just read three trilogies, not one.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Loads of other Star Wars books.
What’s next? Star Wars: Children Of The Jedi
Why I read it: Ages ago I picked up book 2 of this series for a couple of quid from the discount rack in Forbidden Planet. Having not had book 1, I never read it. I finally got book 1 the other day and decided to give them a go.
What is it about?: A newly knighted Jedi plays two Sith brothers off of each other in a bid to save the population of a doomed planet.
Thoughts: This incoherent mess almost put me right off this series. The passage of time and space seem irrelevant as Kerra Holt bounces from one Sith brother to the other with no apparent difficulty in logistics. The most interesting character was Damien who believes he is the creator of the universe and everything in it. However, his postulating gets old very quickly as it’s clear he’s mostly bark without any real bite.
There is some semblance of characterisation as Kerra tries to bring a former Jedi back into active service but it was lazily done with no real pay-off.
The artwork was okay-ish but suffered from some very obscure POV choices that suggested the artists really wanted to draw a lot of nostrils. Seriously! If you’re into looking up nostrils this is the book for you. There are a number of quite unflattering angles. As the book moves through the collected comics the art style changes dramatically as does Kerra’s likeness. She definitely becomes more attractive and curvaceous as the story progresses.
After ploughing through a good chunk of my collection of Star Wars graphic novels, this one brought me to a lengthy standstill.
Score: Boring – Nonsensical
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: Knight Errant II: Deluge
Why I read it: My wife has a sizable collection of books. I thought I’d try this classic series.
What is it about?: A consulting detective has his mastery of deductive reasoning written down for posterity by his friend as a collection of short stories.
Thoughts: Since I’ve started reviewing books I’ve made a note of my thoughts on individual short stories in collections. Unfortunately, I had started this one beforehand so will just review the book as a whole.
These are admittedly very enjoyable stories of a smart-arse putting one over everyone else. That he lives in a world where people are conveniently clumsy enough to smother some incriminating evidence on themselves but never have a speck of dust on them that’s not relevant to the case is the only regular plot hole.
I do like that this hero of the law actually couldn’t give a fig about the law but only embarks on his ‘adventures’ because he enjoys the intellectual stimulation. On a number of occasions he has let the culprit off the hook, leaving the inept police in the dark about the real events.
Having read a few of these collected stories now, I realise that they do have a very samey quality to them, but in a way that each story actually compliments the others. Yes, there are a few surprises every now and again, but each story has the same high level of quality to them.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes; A Study In Scarlett; The Sign Of Four; The Hound Of The Baskervilles; The Mammoth Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures; Shadows Over Baker Street
What’s next? The Case-Book Of Sherlock Holmes
Why I read it: I had it for ages but hadn’t read book 1. Finally read book 1, but it was not good. Fingers crossed here.
What is it about?: Kerra Holt, Jedi Knight, is separated from the Jedi order in that she has her own mission: To save people caught it the crossfire of the war.
Thoughts: This was so much better than Aflame. I kinda wish I had just got on and read this without bothering with that first volume. The characters are complex and endearing, even when they make the wrong choices. The emotions are very well expressed and the threat level felt palpable.
It was great seeing a Hutt eager to take a more hands-on approach to his business and he made a great villain proving that you don’t need to be a Sith lord to be an evil power in the universe. Because of this, he made a far greater impression on me and the other characters in the book than the Sith with their posturing. Yes, the Sith are dangerous, but you expect them to be. They don’t hold a candle to the Hutts.
This story was also full of redemption where certain characters were able to free themselves of past mistakes and overcome the present challenges.
The artwork was far less nostril-oriented than in book 1, but Kerra’s likeness is still uncertain. Her appearance radically changes from the front cover to the back cover and throughout. Apart from that, it was pretty good.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read:
What’s next? Star Wars: Honour And Duty
Why I read it: Picked up this classic Bob Shaw from a second hand book shop.
What is it about?: After 11 years of marriage, a man gets a phone call from someone claiming to be coming to claim his wife back. The man that shortly turns up on his doorstep is…himself.
Thoughts: I never know what to expect when reading a Bob Shaw novel, except that it’ll most likely surprise me, provoke thoughts and greatly entertain me.
This book did just that. It’s an exploration of that great “If only…” and what it means to lose what you love and love what you lose. It was thrilling, insightful and his thoughts on automatic writing were very funny.
That being said, I did find the characters a little hard to like with some turning out to be totally unnecessary to the plot, but do add a certain level of tension to the story. Also the random jumps to other characters were a little jarring. They were supposed to help show the scale of what was going on, but as that detail had yet to be revealed, they felt more like intermissions.
There was a satisfactory conclusion which I didn’t see coming. I just feel sorry for the police officer.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Ceres Solution; Killer Planet; Medusa’s Children; Night Walk; Warren Peace: Who Goes Here?
What’s next? Ship Of Strangers by Bob Shaw
Why I read it: I decided to read through all our horror. Not that we have much. Working my way through Goosebumps before tackling the Point Horrors.
What is it about?: Having moved to the swampy woodland of Florida, 11 year-old Grady quickly discovers there’s something sinister living in the woods.
Thoughts: Having been underwhelmed by rereading some of the other Goosebumps stories I found this one a much better offering. I don’t really remember it from the last time I read it, so the reveal worked again. It was predictable but still good. My only observation was the logic of allowing a large wolf-like dog they literally just found that day to spend the night in Grady’s room. His parents may be scientists, but they’re idiots. I also thought that his sister was an unnecessary character who added absolutely nothing to the story, or anything else much.
The “…or were they?” ending was also predictable but with a more uplifting sign-off.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 26 other Goosebumps books.
What’s next? A reread of Goosebumps: You Can’t Scare Me!
Why I read it: I decided to read through all our horror. Not that we have much. Working my way through Goosebumps before tackling the Point Horrors.
What is it about?: As an act of jealousy, a group of school delinquents attempt to scare a hard-working, beautiful, popular and very capable girl thereby making herself look bad in front of their classmates.
Thoughts: The story follows four reprobates, in particular the clumsy and slow-witted Eddie who’s pretty much scared of his own shadow, Hat (so-called because he wears a hat) and two girls, Mollie and Charlene, who don’t bring much to the story. Due to his stupidity, ignorance and complete lack of any backbone Eddie makes a complete prat of himself on a school trip and is totally shown up by star pupil Courtney. Courtney is unfavourably portrayed as ‘Little Miss Perfect’ and the emphasis is that it is much better to not pay any attention in class and constantly josh your friends than be a socially adjusted human being. To pay her back for not being a pathetic looser, the team of misfits resort to theft, animal cruelty and fraud.
The final twist was far too predictable, from the moment Mud Monsters were mentioned, it was obvious they were going to be the final scare. Being Goosebumps, I suppose there has to be some horror element, but I think the ending would have been much better had Kevin and his friends scared Eddie and his friends, thereby teaching them a much needed lesson. There was no ‘…or were they?’ ending this time.
I had read this before but had no recollection of any of it. Having read it again, I can see why.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: 26 other Goosebumps books.
What’s next? A reread of Goosebumps: One Day At Horrorland

And that was August.
What’s up for September?

Book of the month:
1. Demon Road by Derek Landy

Finish:
2. Playing With Fire by Derek Landy
3. Amazon Adventure by Willard Price (still)
4: Star Wars: Honour and Duty
5: The Massacre Of Mankind by Stephen Baxter (still)

Read in its entirety:
6: Goosebumps: One Day At Horrorland
7. Goosebumps: Ghost Beach
8. Goosebumps: Revenge of The Garden Gnomes
9: The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
10: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
11: The Walking Dead 5: The Best Defence
12-15: Star Wars: Clone Wars: Graphic Novels

As much as I can of:
Muddle Earth by Paul Stewart
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia
The Grand Pursuit by Tom Sharpe
A Song Of Ice And Fire: Dreams And Dust by George R. R. Martin
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World by Harry Harrison
Robin Hood According To Spike Milligan

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Book Tags – The Book Blogger Memory Challenge

This tag was created by Laura @ Laura’s Book Reviews.

Here are the rules:

You must answer these questions without looking anything up on the internet and without looking at your bookshelves!!

Now, before you scroll down and read the tag, if you want to give this tag a go here are the questions for you to have a try at first. This way you’re not being prompted by my answers.

Q1: Name a book written by an author called Michael.
Q2: Name a book with a dragon on the cover.
Q3: Name a book about a character called George.
Q4: Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.
Q5: Name a book set in Australia.
Q6: Name a book with the name of a month in the title.
Q7: Name a book with a knife on the cover.
Q8: Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.
Q9: Name a book with a eponymous title.
Q10: Name a book turned into a movie.

Okay? Now that you have come up with your own answers, scroll down to see mine…

With 1,020 books read, I’m going to try to use them as much as possible. I will be putting book covers as my answers, but they’ll be copied straight from my list of ready-made HTML book image tags, so I won’t know if they’re right until I publish. I’ll write the answers first then paste in the images so I won’t be prompted by my tag list.
Here goes:

Q1: Name a book written by an author called Michael.
A1: That’s a nice easy one, I just need to choose between Michael Grant, Michael Connelly, Michael A. Stackpole or Michael Crichton…that’s not even a decision:

Q2: Name a book with a dragon on the cover.
A2: There’s a few I could go with, but I’m going to pick one that doesn’t have it in the title.

Q3: Name a book about a character called George.
A3: Instantly thought of this one, can’t even think of any others, too busy seeing Rik Mayall doing the spell song in my head.

Q4: Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.
A4: Really having to wrack my brains for this one. Can only think of Wilbur Smith, and I’ve not read any by his stuff nor can I name any of the titles. I suppose Dick King-Smith isn’t allowed…
Ah, I’ll turn to Star Wars:
. I know it only asked for one but I was pretty excited to remember L. Neal Smith.

Q5: Name a book set in Australia.
A5: Good thing I recently read

‘cos otherwise I’d be stuck.

Q6: Name a book with the name of a month in the title.
A6: Can you believe I’ve not read a single book that answers this? I can do day of the week, mealtime, season but not month. I’m going to have to say The Hunt For The Red October by Tom Clancy, the movie of which starring Sean Connery I have seen.

Q7: Name a book with a knife on the cover.
A7: I’m pretty sure that

has a knife sticking in a front door with running figures in the reflection in the blade.

Q8: Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.
A8: There’s a lot to pick from here. I’m going to go with Harry Harrison’s tale following the invention of the anti-gravity device:

Q9: Name a book with a eponymous title (e.g. the main character in the book IS the name of the book).
A9: Again lots to choose from. Going with the next Discworld book I’m going to reread:

Q10: Name a book turned into a movie.
A10: These days it’s hard not to. I’m going to go with a lesser-known (and good) book that was made in to a lesser known (and indifferent) movie:

That was fun. Some were much trickier than others. I still can’t think of any other Georges.
I you enjoyed that then feel free to hang about on my site. There are plenty of other tags to check out, as well as some other stuff that might interest you, or help pass the time.
Thanks for reading.

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Book Tags – Reader Problems

It’s been a while since I last had a go at a tag. In the process of cooking up my own but for the time being here’s one that was created by: About To Read.

Q1: You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
A1: By using my very cunning reading system, I am happily chipping away at that TBR pile.

Q2: You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
A2: I hate doing the DNF thing, so I’m generally committed, but rarely feel it was worth it.

Q3: The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
A3: Though it would irk me to not achieve the challenge, I think I would have to just let it slide. So far this year I’ve had to increase my challenge by 25%.

Q4: The covers of a series you love do. Not. Match. How do you cope?
A4: What is this ‘cope’ thing you mention. WHY CAN’T THEY MATCH?!?!?! Or even be the same SIZE?????

Q5: Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
A5: I find I’m not alone in my opinions.

Q6: You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
A6: Stop being in public as soon as possible.

Q7: A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read
the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!?!?!?
A7: I’ve been known to reread a a whole series before reading the next book.

Q8: You do not want anyone. ANYONE. borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
A8: I don’t have any friends for precisely this very reason.

Q9: Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
A9: I again refer you to my spectacular reading method.

Q10: There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
A10: It depends on where:
Charity Shop – as many as I can get hold of
Online – that particular one I’ve been waiting for
High Street – Not in stock and gotten distracted by the board games.

Q11: After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
A11: Anything from having started reading it before I’ve even got home from buying it to going on ten years now.

A nice, quick easy tag, especially as there are no book covers I have to scrounge about for.
If you fancy having a go at this tag, please do and let me know your answers.
If you enjoyed this than feel free to hang about this site, maybe there’s something else you’ll like.

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July 2017 Book Wrap-Up

Managed all of seven books this month. What were they and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: I very much enjoyed book 1, Remade and counted down the days with the author Alex Scarrow on twitter to the release of this follow-up. I got it in the eve of July, so it became July’s book of the month.
What is it about?: In a post-apocalyptic world where the majority of people have been wiped out by a virus, suvivors Leon and Freya discover help may be on the way.
Thoughts: I’ll try to keep this spoiler free as best I can, however I may need to address certain points in order to effectively manage expectations for this book. First and foremost, this is not the book Remade, nor is it a lazy rehash of Remade. If you get this book expecting more people dissolving in gruesome detail or a seat-of-your-pants thrill-ride like in the one found in book one you may be disappointed. If you want that story, go and reread Remade. This story, like the virus itself, has been Reborn (see what I did there?). This is how a sequel is supposed to go. Aliens did it following Alien as did The Empire Strikes Back followed A New Hope. They didn’t give us more of the same, they continued the story.
Reborn also has that The Day of the Triffids / The Walking Dead vibe, including the ‘scavenging for canned goods’, ‘avoiding the hoards of killing-things’ and ‘coming across other survivors’ tropes we all know and love.
What makes this story stand out is the body-swap aspect which really makes for quite the uncomfortable read. Not uncomfortable as in body horror necessarily but more as in that feeling of impending doom. Usually there’s the group of survivors and you know that one of them is not who they seem to be and have the tension come from not knowing which one it is. In this case, we not only know who it is all along, but we also see things from their perspective and what they’re doing. This has essentially body-swapped out the expected thriller aspect with a totally different thriller aspect coupled with a big helping of discomfort. You’re watching these survivors doing their best to keep it all together, thinking they’re as safe as they’re can be, but you know better. Instead of the usual sudden but inevitable collapse of safety, you’re included in the machinations behind every step of it. If you were watching this, you’d be shouting at the screen at the hapless humans telling them to “Getouttathere!”. I found it worked well in heightening the stress, you can see it coming, you know it’s coming, you just down know how it’s going to go down and to whom. As already mentioned, this makes you feel very uncomfortable as you’re as powerless as the characters are to do anything about it (short of shutting the book and leaving them all safe at that point in time).
Some effort has been made to develop the characters more, even the new ones. In the first book, there wasn’t the time for the characters to learn more about each other and themselves. This book has the time to do that and every character who is lost, is a real blow. Not just because of who they were to you, but because of who they were to the other characters you also care about.
If you found the first book squeamish, you might find this one more to your tastes. There is a little of that, I’m not saying the book is devoid of melting people, but there’s a lot less of it. Some of the later creature manifestations actually reminded me of the non-zombie creatures from Resident Evil (not the films).
Look out for Alex Scarrow’s shameless plug for Zombie Last Stands on page 120. It made me laugh. And I say, “Why not?”. There are a number of other pop-culture references in this book, might as well add your own as well.
Now for the negatives. These are a little nitpicky as I really enjoyed this book:
As mentioned at the beginning, the story has moved on from the first book. If you manage your expectations, this shouldn’t be a problem but I can see some people having issues because of it. It didn’t bother me, but I was aware of it.
I did find Leon and Freya’s acceptance of -Sorry can’t tell you BIG spoiler there- to be a little bit quick. After what they’d seen and been through, I would have thought they’d be very alert for anything remotely hinky. People behaving odd is a big indication of BAD STUFF and it was hard to believe they didn’t pick up on it.
It did feel like half a book. This may be down to my having waited for it so long, reading it so quickly and only to finish with those dreaded words “To be continued” and the next book still being written. It doesn’t leave on a cliff-hanger as much as there’s still a lot left unresolved and yet to be revealed.
This was a solid sequel in a story that’s evolved as much as its content. It the ‘last-survivors’ type material we have seen before, but with a good body-swap slant to it.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: TimeRiders: TimeRiders/Day Of The Predator/The Doomsday Code/The Eternal War/Gates Of Rome/City Of Shadows/The Pirate Kings/The Mayan Prophecy/The Infinity Cage; The Legend Of Ellie Quinn; Remade
What’s next? August’s book of the month…Revenger.
Why I read it: I have a collection of movie novelizations that I pick up from charity shops. I like how they can give further insights into the story as well as how they sometimes have content that ended up on the cutting room floor, or was never filmed in the first place.
What is it about?: Every 1000 years a virtue of humanity is personified to make the world a better place. Unfortunately the latest Golden Child has been kidnapped by evil. Chandler Jarell, the finder of lost children is hired by a mysterious Nee Kang to find him and finds himself in a world of demons and dreams.
Thoughts: As stated on the book’s cover this is based off of one of the screenplays and not the final film. The film was originally intended to have Mel Gibson lead and be a more serious film. Instead it became what I consider to be one of Eddie Murphy’s most underrated films. It’s not his best, but it’s far better than people give it credit for.
Anyway, I’m reviewing this book, not the movie, but I can’t help but compare the two. As it was a movie first, I’m not going to review the quality of the story but focus more on the extra content, the writing and relevance to the movie it’s based from.
Although the plot and the sequence of events remain largely unchanged, albeit much darker and visceral, none of the quotable lines or scenes from the film feature in the book. Despite Eddy Murphy being on the front cover, Chandler is no way Eddie Murphy in this book (nor Mel Gibson actually but more Charlie Sheen).
There is further discussion as the Songs of reality and existence and good and evil, as well as the motivations behind much of went on. I can see why all that wasn’t included in the film, but it does flesh out the world a bit more.
I did feel that on a couple of occasions the screenplay to novel transition was a bit rushed. Sometimes it would read as if it were a screenplay without all the prose that makes a novel a novel and a few of the scene transitions happened without any explanation.
Certainly, this is a book that benefits if you’ve seen the movie first. Unfortunately, due to the character differences between the two, the book doesn’t really add much of anything to the film as all the internal thoughts and feelings are for a completely different version of Chandler which, in turn, altered Kee Nang.
Score: Worth reading…for completeness sake
What’s next? Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
Why I read it: I spotted this in the library and liked the look of it.
What is it about?: The Pirate Stream (a magical ocean that can be sailed to reach many strange lands) is under threat and it’s left to ordinary Marrill (and her cat) who stumbles across a ship in the desert and Fin, a boy who is instantly forgettable, to not only save the day, but every world the Pirate Stream touches.
Thoughts: This came across as a cross between the discovery of strange lands like The Voyage of the Dawntreader and the comical silliness of Muddle Earth (not as silly but there is that feel to it). The hapless heroes take a voyage on the Pirate Stream stopping off at strange lands in the search for the Map to Everywhere. Each land is different with its own quirks and inhabitants, all the while they’re plagued by the big bad.
The characters were pretty good, with certainly a unique aspect with Fin who’s forgotten about when people shift their attention elsewhere. There was a lot of “Who are you?” but, surprisingly that didn’t get annoying and was even missed in longer passages when characters had focused on him for longer periods of time. There was a good exploration on the motivations and morals of a character (who naturally became a thief) who could do anything he wanted to without fear of repercussion, and then having to come to terms to having someone about who is able to remember him and what he’s done.
Merrill was a weaker character, who played the fish out of water role as she’s thrust into this strange world. She’s carried along her adventure by the plot and those around her, but produces very little input that wasn’t just there to act upon.
The villain was pretty decent, with some unusual aspects about him that made him interesting. He’s also quite well fleshed-out and, though not the sympathetic villain, is at least a villain who’s motivations can be understood.
The lands were well-imagined and not too far-fetched but not all that numerous, which did speed the plot along but I would have liked to have seen more. That there are currently 4 books in the series, suggests more is there to discover. I think I will happily attempt to do.
I should also mention the fantastic illustrations that makes this book feel linked to a Disney Channel series or other big production animation. The style and quality on the front cover and throughout the book are first-rate.
This is a fun adventure with some original ideas.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: I recently read the first three books in the series and happened to pick up book 4.
What is it about?: Rick and the group be have found a modicum of security at the prison, but it’s not just the dead that are a threat.
Thoughts: Still struggling with the lack of colour. I think there’s one character here who I’ve no idea who they are.
Anyway,,,
This segment of the story deals more with emotions and interactions than survival. Now that the group have ‘settled’ into their new home, the reality of their situation and the fallout of the things they’ve been through bubble to the surface. Love triangles, murder, guilt, tragedy and grief see members of the group acting out in different ways.
I feel this is a slower volume than the first three and that the story has slightly stalled, but it does focus on the characterisations. Having said that, having gotten to know them better, I like them less.
Having seen the TV series first, I can’t help but compare the two, as I have in last month’s wrap-up which included the first 3 books. At this point, we’re still in the first half of Season 3. There’s still no Woodbury or the Governor, which is fine, as already mentioned, the group have some personal issues to push through. The love triangle was something not even hinted at in the show, particularly as none of the characters have even met each other at this point. I like how they changed Carol for the show, she’s certainly unrecognisable to the one in the book. It’s also interesting to see how the group dynamic has changed with different characters having died, survived or even existed between the two mediums.
Certainly, the book does take the time to flesh out the characters, something the show hadn’t done much of up to this point By introducing the Governor earlier, even in a parallel storyline, the show has more intrigue and the characters have more charisma.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye; Miles Behind Us; Safety Behind Bars
What’s next? Book 5, whenever I pick that up.
Why I read it: My youngest chose this novelisation of the Gibli classic as his bedtime story.
What is it about?: Two young girls move to the countryside in order to be closer to their hospitalised mother. Depending on how you view the story, this is either a fantastical story of two girls and their interactions with the wood spirits or it’s a story about two young girls trying to deal with life without a mother.
Thoughts: Being a novelisation, I’m not going to review the story so much as how it’s been transferred to the page.
I’ve seen the film a number of times now, as have the children so we’re all familiar with the story already. In that, when the story deviated from what had been seen, it was a surprise, particularly as it follows the film so closely for much of it. There’s an entire sequence following the girls as they return to Tokyo for a spell. It’s not in the film at all and added little to the story, except perhaps Kanta’s involvement in caring for the girls’ forest they planted while they were away. The whole sequence with Satsuki finding Mei was also a lot different and removed some of the mystery surrounding the wood spirits, but not all…
The book is also interspersed with double-page illustrations, one per chapter, in the style of the film but all original drawings and not simply lifted straight from the screen. The famous Bus Stop image is in there, again drawn from scratch. Though they added nothing to the story, my son liked looking at them and they did help tie the two media together.
This book helps the reader to understand just what’s going on in the stoic characters’ heads. Kanta is a much more complex character than is revealed in the film. This is a worthy complement to the film, though it is advisable to have watched the film first.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? My youngest has chosen Muddle Earth next. I book I have read before, and one I think he’ll greatly appreciate.
Why I read it: I’ve been intrigued by these books for a while (purely by the covers, I admit). I managed to pick up the first six from a charity shop. My wife was also intrigued, so I read it to her.
What is it about?: Stephanie, the only member of her family who was close to her oddball uncle, is left his house when he mysteriously died. She also seems to have inherited Skulduggery Pleasant, a mysterious character who was a good friend of her uncle’s.
Thoughts: I literally didn’t know what to expect with this one. There’s a nifty picture of a fireball wielding suited skeleton on the front cover, and some girl on the back cover. There’s barely any summary. We both were surprised by how much we liked it. The exchanges between Skulduggery and Stephanie are marvellous and you get a real sense of a lasting friendship forming. Yes, this story does do the ‘World behind our world’ trope but its underplayed with not too much focus upon it.
It was also refreshing to have a child lead who’s not automatically imbued with every ability the moment they find out about this hidden world and are instantly able to master some spell or talent that they’ve apparently always had but didn’t know it yet. She genuinely struggles to make her contributions relevant but at the same time she is vital to Skulduggery’s efforts.
The witty banter between the characters and Stephanie’s friendships with Skulduggery and Tanith succeed in lightening the tone of an otherwise dark tale.
Score: Booktastic
What’s next? Was going to be book 2 of the series but I spotted Fiddlehead in the library, so will read that to my wife first.
Why I read it: My wife spotted this one in the mobile library and thought I might like to read this on the beach. It’s much later in the series that I’ve got to, but why not?
What is it about?: Nina has a long-lost relative who suddenly makes and appearance and starts her off on the quest to discover the secret behind the legend of Midas.
Thoughts: As usual with this type of action book, it’s best knowing that the action is very over-the-top James Bond insanity. If you prefer your action more grounded in the real world, this may not do it for you. If you’re a fan of the big explosions and insane-level lucky escapes, then this is a fun ride for you.
Nina and Eddie now have a young daughter, who doesn’t feature in most of the story excepting for the very predictable finale when the defeated baddie attempts the last-ditch kidnap before facing their ultimate comeuppance.
I found that the story perhaps went on a bit long, with three separate series of baddies and henchmen to be battled as they fight over the artefacts. By the time Eddie and Nina started taking on North Korea, it was a little much. Even if the action was exciting.
I did like the whole revisiting aspect of the Hunt for Atlantis, the events of which were 10 years ago in the story, the book of which I have read not that long ago.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The Hunt For Atlantis; The Secret Of Excalibur; The Covenant Of Genesis

And that was July.
What’s up for August?

Book of the month:
1. Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

Finish:
2. Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest
3. Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson
4. Amazon Adventure by Willard Price
5: Star Wars: Knight Errant: Aflame
6: The Massacre Of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

Read in its entirety:
7: Star Wars: Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson
8. Star Wars: Champions Of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson
9. Star Wars: Shadow Games
10-14: 5 Goosebumps books.
15-20: 6 Graphic Novels

As much as I can of:
Muddle Earth
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
By The Light Of The Moon
A Song Of Ice And Fire: Dreams And Dust
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World
Robin Hood According To Spike Milligan