0

February 2019 Books Read Wrap-Up

8 books read this month.
This is what they were and what I thought of them:
Or
If you can’t be doing with that reading malarkey, try my video of the same:

Why I read it: I’ve got a fair few graphic novels so I’m making a concerted effert to read them.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: A collection of the origional Marvel Star Wars comics. Based after the events of Return of the Jedi.
Thoughts: I’d previously read volume 2: Dark Encounters, and found an innocent joy of it. This one was a bit of a slog, if I’m being honest, which I am. The artwork was less of the charming and a bit cheap. It didn’t help I’ve missed the events from volumes 3-5 and this ended on a cliffhanger (no, I’ve not got volume 7!). I didn’t hate it, there was enjoyment to be found, but I forced myself to read it, which is not a good thing.
Score: Boring – Just plain dull
I’ve also read: 179 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi: Force Storm
Why I read it: It’s been a while since I last read it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Luke and Leia crash land on a swamp planet and get embroiled in an adventure to find a crystal that can enhance contact with the Force.
Thoughts: This is based off of the 1978 book of the same name by Alan Dean Foster. The first expanded universe story. It was supposed to be a low-key sequel if the just-released movie did not do so well. Needless to say, the film was a success and a much bigger movie was subsequently made, but many elements from this story found their way into it and some of the later films. Most notably was Leia’s lightsaber face-off against Darth Vader, in 1978! It wasn’t until Rey faced off against Kylo Ren that a female wielding a lightsaber clashed blades, nearly 30 years later!!! Anyway, by design, the story is quite low key, lots of swamps and dark tunnels. At the time of writing Harrison Ford hadn’t even signed up for another film, so there’s no Han, Chewie or the Falcon. There’s a lot of hype between the relationship between Luke and Leia and there is a certain sexual tension between the two in this story. Of course, it takes another two films until the truth is out and something that, back then, was still only a possibility. I liked how this book updated the novel by adding a few features from The Empire Strikes Back. The Executor helmed by Captain Piett was a nice touch (and a scene not in the book). I felt that the Imperial governor ass was a bit pointless, though his demise was quite the thing. The artwork was okay, the likenesses may have been off from time to time, but they were still identifiable.
All in all, a strong story to fit between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back though one I’m glad didn’t make it to the big screen. It’s also a nice companion to the novel.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 180 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Why I read it: I’ve read the first two of the trilogy to my son, might as well finish it.
Reading slot Reading to: my youngest son
What is it about?: Johnny travles back to 1941 and attempts to avert disaster caused by a wayward bomb dropped during the blitz.
Thoughts: The third and final instalment in the Johnny Maxwell trilogy again takes the series in a completely different direction to the previous books: time travel. It has the welcome return of Kirsty (last seen in Only You Can Save Mankind. This book has the interesting take on social commentary, particularly regarding attitudes towards race and gender for both 1941, where Johnny travels to and the early 90’s when the book was written. The humour works at many levels and the story never talks down to the reader. It was also nice to see some concepts and mannerisms that later featured more prominently in the Discworld series.
A very enjoyable book, though not so much a conclusion to a trilogy but the final book of three.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Almost everything Terry Pratchett’s written.
What’s next? The Edge Chronicles I: Beyond The Deepwood
Why I read it: I had started reading this series to my son, and he still wants me to.
Reading slot Reading to: my oldest son
What is it about?: Hal and Roger explore volcanoes with a man who’s got an unpredictable mental health issue.
Thoughts: The fourth instalment of the series sees another change-up to the animal-collecting scene, this time with Hal and Roger joining Dr. Dan and exploring volcanoes. Omo, the Lively Lady and her captain join in with the adventures for one last time, though less prominently. The other big change from not focusing on animals was the lack of a villain. Instead Dr. Dan suffers from mysterious mental health issues which are revealed by the end of the story. As always with this series, it’s always important to keep in mind the author was born and the books were written in a time of different sensibilities to today’s. Attitudes regarding race, gender and mental health have evolved since then (in theory).
Once again I really felt the impressions of being there, experiencing the things Hal and Roger did and enjoyed the (somewhat dated) educational aspect as well.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Most of the series.
What’s next? Whale Adventure
Why I read it: My wife gave me this book by my newest favourite author for Christmas. Of course I’m going to read it..
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: This is a collection of 18 short stories and somewhat less short novellas covering all aspects of his writings including Merlin and Revelation Space.
Thoughts: This was a brilliant collection of tales, each one memorable and immersive. At nearly 800 pages, this Book of the Month very nearly took me all month to read. At the back of the book are some of Alastair Reynolds’ thoughts behind each story. I read each thought before I read the stories, unfortunately a couple did contain spoilers.
Story Name: Beyond the Aquila Rift
What is it about? Following a warp-gate mishap a ship’s crew find themselves a bit further from home than expected.
Thoughts: Full of an atmosphere of disquiet, this story can kept me guessing all the way through. Great world-building coupled with masterful storytelling, this was a joy to read.
Score: Storytastic
Story Name: Fury
What is it about? The Galactic Emperor is assassinated (sort of) and his chief of security embarks on a quest to find the ‘killer’.
Thoughts: A fascinating procedural story, that has some fun and unexpected developments. Again, this features wonderful world building and a likable main character.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: In Babelsberg
What is it about? A space probe returns to Earth and ends up as a celebrity doing the interview circuit.
Thoughts: An interesting exploration as to how AI could not only take the stars from us, but also stardom. Noteworthy for it’s very odd talk show hosts…
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Minla’s Flowers
What is it about? From the Merlin Universe, the story follows Merlin as he is forced to land on a planet with two warring factions. Spotting an oncoming disaster he is forced to guide the population’s development to reach the stars.
Thoughts: This is the first I’ve read from this particular Universe and again praise the world building here. This also has the feel of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series to it. A cautionary tale on the dangers of meddling that takes quite a few unexpected turns, though I did see the ending coming.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: The Old Man And The Martian Sea
What is it about? A girl runs away from home only to be reminded of how significant she can be.
Thoughts: A gentle tale that has some interesting world-building behind it. It could have been a bit longer, perhaps, but a delight all the same. The unbroken innocence of it was also refreshing.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Diamond Dogs
What is it about? A team set themselves against a mysterious spire chock-full of trap-filled rooms with puzzles to solve.
Thoughts: From the Revelation Space Universe (though could be a stand-alone and be no different at all), this story actually references the film The Cube from which it was inspired. As the story progresses, it becomes less about the solving of the rooms, but more about the obsession behind solving them. Particularly as, unlike in The Cube they can leave at any time. Brilliantly described, I could visualise this as clearly as if I had watched it.
Score: Storytastic
Story Name: The Great Wall Of Mars
What is it about? Chronicling the beginning of the Conjoiners and their escape from extermination.
Thoughts: Chronologically, this is currently the earliest Revelation Space story. Having yet to read the main stories yet, the significance of the named characters was lost on me until I did a bit of research into the story. A very satisfying origin story with some great set-pieces.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: The Last Log Of The Lachrimosa
What is it about? This Revelation Space story follows a crew of Ultras as they explore a mysterious cave on an otherwise nondescript world.
Thoughts: Sometimes, if a message says “Stay Out”, it’s perhaps best to do as it says. Told from two different POVs this gets less confusing as it goes along. Considering how alien-free this Universe is, this was a nice addition to it and features a satisfying ending.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: Weather
What is it about? Another Revelation Space story where a crew of Ultras (space faring Cyborgs) pick up a stranded Conjoiner (think Star Trek’sBorg, but less hostile)against the better judgement of their captain.
Thoughts: This turned out to be a somewhat surprising , yet compelling love story, of a sort. Great characters, strong themes, very enjoyable.
Score: Storytastic
Story Name: The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter
What is it about? A story featuring a world within a world, where the population of a planet exist in a Victorian-era level of technology and society, but occasionally encounter things that fall from the sky giving hints that far more is going on.
Thoughts: Not every story needs to be epic, far-reaching or grandiose for it the have a significant impact. This tale that follows a teenage girl as she encounters the benign and malevolent inhabitants of her world is very low-key compared to the other stories here. What’s more, it finishes just on the cusp of potential. However, there is joy in coming to your own conclusions as to how it will all play out. I would like to see more from this Universe.
Score: Storytastic
Story Name: Sleepover
What is it about? A man wakes on sea platform and finds himself in the middle of a battle over reality itself.
Thoughts: This is a bit like a cross between The Matrix and Pacific Rim. I can’t tell you more than that. It’s a mind-bending concept that’s brilliant if you get it.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice
What is it about? A guy on the run signs up to crew on a ship without asking too many questions. He finds himself apprentice to the ship’s surgeon working on the cyborg crew. However, he soon realises just what kind of ship he’s found himself on.
Thoughts: This is visually rich with graphic body horror and intrigue. An old tale retold again, this time with body parts. Great fun. This also boasts a very satisfying ending.
Score: Storytastic
Story Name: Thousandth Night
What is it about? Cloned copies of a long-dead explorer gather together to share their experiences and memories of their travels. During one gathering, a mystery turns into a murder mystery leading to quite the showdown.
Thoughts: A story epic in scale. Expertly told and very enjoyable. I love the concept of a traveller deliberately focusing on just sunsets for the thousands of years he travels just to irritate his cloned siblings. I also like the concept of them being all the same, so equally capable of being the potential perpetrator.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: Trauma Pod
What is it about? A soldier wounded in battle is treated by a trauma pod, a mini-hospital designed to treat battle injuries during the battle.
Thoughts: A fantastic story that focuses on a real practical use of technological advances on the battlefield. Every concept in here was inspired and totally believable as a technology that could come to pass.
Score: Storytastic
Story Name: Troika
What is it about? A mysterious artefact appears in the middle of the Solar System. It also seems to be singing.
Thoughts: A bit of an odd one told in two timelines. Avoid reading the author notes beforehand because they contain some significant spoilers. The story read fine, but not the best of the collection. Possibly because the ending was spoiled when I read the author notes, but also I think I wanted to know more.
Score: Worth reading.
Story Name: Vainglory
What is it about? An artist is tracked down by a private investigator. Revelations are then had about a piece she did that caused the deaths of many people and the destruction of a moon.
Thoughts: Told over two timelines, this read well enough but wasn’t as good as the others. There was no reason given as to the why and I think that’s bugging me.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: The Water Thief
What is it about? A robot operator, who remotely operates the tools of her trade, finds herself in a moral dilemma when she holds the life of a thief in her robot’s hands.
Thoughts: Unlike most of Reynold’s optimistic futures, this one’s decidedly less so, yet also feels all the more real for it. That it’s based as a very near future story, possibly helps with that.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Zima Blue
What is it about? A renowned artist, who specialises in painting increasingly more vast areas a specific shade of blue presents his final masterpiece, a work that not only disappoints his critics, but also places everything else he’s done into question.
Thoughts: A fun story I can’t say much about. The notes are a bit spoilery.
Score: Worth reading.

All in all, a great collection of stories. Not a duff one in the bunch. Some are perhaps a bit long, others could have been longer. The common theme is the fantastic world-building: there are so many Universes I would like to revisit and see more from. At 779 pages, this was quite a mammoth read, but well worth it.

Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Aurora Rising; Revenger
What’s next? March’s Book of the Month, book 2 of Revenger: Shadow Captain
Why I read it: Been going through all my graphic novels, however, while moving paid attention to my pile of comics. Rediscovered the first five of this series which count as 1 collected edition.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: A gazillion years before the films, the Je’daii were finding a perfect balance to the force. Unfortunately, a Force Hound from the Rakantan Infinite Empire crash lands in their midst.
Thoughts: This is not for the casual Star Wars reader, but more for those with some knowledge of the Expanded Universe, particularly from the Knights of the Old Republic games. I really enjoyed reading this, particularly with it’s unique view of the force where the Je’daii try to have a bit of both the light and the dark in balance. The action was exciting and the force storm that encompassed the events really gave the story a charged feeling. The artwork was fantastic. My only gripe is that I don’t have any more from this series.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 181 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire: Evolution (a reread).
Why I read it: It’s the next on my Star Wars reading pile.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Star Wars Novels: Progressing chronologically
What is it about?: As Callista and Luke Skywalker make Goo Goo eyes at each other, they also try to recover her lost connection to the force. Meanwhile, Admiral Daala seeks to reunificate the Empire. Meanwhile a Hutt gets his very own Super Laser weapons platform built.
Thoughts: This book has received a lot of negative reviews over the years, so I went in with low expectations (particularly following Children Of The Jedi). To be honest, I didn’t find it all that bad. There were some silly moments, certainly but taken in the spirit of the story they mostly worked. I enjoyed the Wampa siege and would have preferred to have seen more of that. The rest of the story also flowed reasonably well, if a bit disjointed as it followed all the different story threads…at the most there were six or seven at once, which was perhaps a bit much. My main criticism was actually regarding Genral Crix Madine. His story worked fine for me, but it was the fact that his beard got more mentions than anyone on the front cover of the book. it established very early on that he had a beard and then repeatedly had reminders that he had a beard. Even his very last scene had him defiantly lifting his bearded chin… it got a little annoying and was a weak alternative to actually telling me more about the character of Madine than the fact that he has a beard. He has a beard, did you know?
Granted, this is not the best story from the Star Wars Universe, but I don’t think it’s as bad as some are making out.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 182 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Planet Of Twilight
Why I read it: Still going through my graphic novels. Redread this one despite reading it in 2017 because I’ve not read this particular copy I acquired recently.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: After the death of Prince Xixor, his custom-built assassin/sex bot seeks to remove her assassin programming.
Thoughts: Copied from my November 2017 wrap-up as my thoughts on this haven’t changed.
This is an interesting tale of how a programmed machine that can’t help but obey, seeks redemption for its actions. It seeks to overcome its obstacles with the single-minded determination of a terminator which is the irony in that it wishes to cease being that way. The story is interspersed with a near-farcical attempt by the surviving members of Black Sun to reacquire the dangerous droid to use for their own ends. That the heroes of the Rebellion and the New Republic are also thrown into the mix does perhaps feel a little over the top – particularly as they don’t really add anything further to the plot.
This is perhaps tonally all over the place with the seriousness of what Guri is trying to do and the conniving within Black Sun to Han and Leia’s interesting relationship particularly in regards to Han interacting with any female that’s not Leia. Lando’s there too, for some reason.
It’s an enjoyable read, though, with a satisfying conclusion. The artwork has that classic look about it making Guri particularly manikin-like in appearance, which disturbingly drives home her inhumanity despite her rather curvaceous figure.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: 183 other Star Wars tiles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Vector Vol. 1
0

January 2019 Books Read Wrap Up

Eleven titles this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: While staying with my parents we’re ploughing through this series.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: To get away from his horrific girlfriend, Doris, Bert “Beau” Peep has joined the French Foreign Legion. A decision he stands by despite finding himself surrounded by idiots, loonies and psychopaths.
Thoughts: Another great collection of this collected comic strip. The humour is just as daft as always and the artwork is always a joy.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: All of books 1-18 (except for 3 & 17).
What’s next? Beau Peep book 13
Why I read it: A friend gave it to me for Christmas. Also in the middle of moving house, so was one of the few books not boxed up.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: Upon its launch, a new subway system is attacked. Initially the culprits are believed to be terrorists, but something far more sinister and deadly turns out to be responsible.
Thoughts: If this were a movie, it would be one of those straight-to-DVDs you’d find in bargain bins starring no one you’ve ever heard of. It would also be too dark, badly acted with awful dialogue, cheesy special effects and with extreme levels of gore. Thankfully, this is not a movie but a book… that reads like a bad movie. That being said, and if you can suspend all disbelief, this was actually quite enjoyable. The ‘thrill’ aspect was certainly thrilling with it all kicking off by the end of the first chapter. Some of the characters actually had a bit of development and back-story. The plot quickly moves into ever increasing levels of implausibility as more and more aspects are introduced (trying to keep this vague to avoid spoilers). For those who can turn their brains off and just enjoy the ride, this is good fun; for those who like to think on their stories, this may not pass muster for you.
Score: Worth reading – if you can turn your brain off
What’s next? February’s book of the month.
Why I read it: Still not moved, so ploughing on…
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: More shenanigans with Beau Peel and the nutters he works with.
Thoughts: Perhaps by now, these books are getting a little repetitive with Beau calling Denis stupid, Egon’s obsession with sherry and Mad Pierre’s violence towards Beau, but then I suppose these books aren’t designed to be read back-to-back. Still great stuff though was some good laugh-out-loud moments. I also like the phobia bit on the back on the book.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Books 1-18 (not 3 & 17)
What’s next? Beau Peep book 14
Why I read it: Still not moved, so ploughing on…
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: It’s the French Foreign Legion in the desert. Everyone’s a complete nut-job. It’s funny.
Thoughts: On a par with the other volumes. Great stuff.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Books 1-18 (not 3 & 17)
What’s next? Beau Peep book 15
Why I read it: Still not moved, so ploughing on…
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: It’s the French Foreign Legion in the desert. Everyone’s a complete nut-job. It’s funny.
Thoughts: A lot of fun, perhaps even funnier than the last few volumes.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Books 1-18 (not 3 & 17)
What’s next? Beau Peep book 16
Why I read it: It’s chock-full of some great authors, why not?
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Short Story Collections
What is it about?: A collection of short stories surrounding the possible ends of the world.
Thoughts: Some short story collections can be a real mixed bag in regards to quality and enjoyability. Not this one, this was a brilliant collected of really thought-provoking, enjoyable (or melancholy), and largely with believable sequences of events. The stories are collected in three sections which cover: Events leading up to the end of the world; the end of the world and after; after the end of the world. This collection holds a wonderful variety of world-ending events and themes. One of the best short story collections I have read.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Mammoth Book Of Comic Fantasy; The Mammoth Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures.
What’s next? #####
Why I read it: Still not moved, so ploughing on…
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: It’s the French Foreign Legion in the desert. Everyone’s a complete nut-job. It’s funny.
Thoughts: More great stuff with these loonies.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Books 1-18 (not 3 & 17)
What’s next? Beau Peep book 17
Why I read it: Got the house, now decorating, yet to move in, so ploughing on…
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: Finally! One I’ve not read before! It’s the French Foreign Legion in the desert. Everyone’s a complete nut-job. It’s funny.
Thoughts: Another barrel-load of witty comebacks and straight-up insults.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Books 1-18 (Not 3)
What’s next? Beau Peep book 18
Why I read it: Got the house, now decorating, yet to move in, so ploughing on…
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: It’s the French Foreign Legion in the desert. Everyone’s a complete nut-job. It’s funny.
Thoughts: Another barrel load of witty comebacks and straight-up insults. This one had some definite laugh out load moments.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Books 1-18 (Not 3)
What’s next? Beau Peep book 19
Why I read it: I’ve been chronologically going through every Star Wars book I own. Sometimes I acquire a book set chronologically before where I’ve got to, so need to occasionally go back and fill in those gaps.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Star Wars Novels: Either filling gaps or rereads – Filling Gaps
What is it about?: Senator Bail Organa and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi are major thorns in Palpatine’s side. An elaborate trap is set, to remove these obstacles from the Sith’s domination of the galaxy.
Thoughts: Take a good, long look at the front cover. Note that it’s a tie-in novel to the animated TV series The Clone Wars. Now forget all that because the front cover has no relation to the contents of this book, and the The Clone Wars, although following on from the feature length film, has scant association with the series. Instead, the story starts off with a deeply insightful look at the aftermath of the battle of Geonosis, with Anakin losing his arm, his relationship with Padme, many Jedi being slaughtered and the loss of Dooku to the Sith. There was a clear and logical ‘unpeeling’ of the characters from Yoda to Palpatine to explore their feelings, thoughts and fears. I’d barely finished the first chapter before I realised I was in for something special. We then jump to after the events of the The Clone Wars film where, admittedly, there is a bit of just hanging about on Coruscant. Okay, there’s a significant explosion and events to keep the narration going, but the story does falter a little here. However, the story really kicks off when Bail Organa receives a coded warning. Events then see him and Obi-Wan Kenobi forced together in an The Odd Couple scenario, where both strong-willed and strong-minded characters continually butt heads on almost everything they do. One could argue that this does get a bit repetitive, but these are two people at the top of their games and have been for quite a while. Obi-Wan has an ingrained disdain for politicians and Bail has his misgivings about the Jedi. As these two are put through their paces, each has to learn not only to trust the other to survive, but also humility and allowing the other help them. Their ordeals do get pretty intense which is ever-increasing. And increasing. It does go on a bit, but I feel it is more effective for it. The only bit that really spoiled the tension was that this is Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who we know survive long enough to be bumped off in A New Hope. Then again, introducing a random red-shirt would also be as predictable. It was really enjoyable watching these two stalwarts break down their barriers and form a strong and good friendship. It certainly goes a long way towards how Obi-Wan and Yoda are so trusting of Bail at the end of Revenge Of The Sith particularly with the baby Leia.
So, no Clone Troopers really, not much of The Clone Wars either – though this is set when Anakin and Ahsoka are off defending Bothawui from Grievous and then trying to relocate R2-D2 – we do get occasional catch-ups of what their up to. Also there’s no epic showdown, no FX-heavy battle extravaganza and for most of the book it’s just two guys plodding through a wilderness. When I picked up the book I honestly expected a run-of-the-mill action adventure with cut-out paper characters. What I got was a deeply insightful totally engrossing build-up of a relationship between two people of almost opposing paths. I also really enjoyed the character insights that showed just what Palpatine thinks for Count Dooku, how Anakin views Obi-Wan. Even Mace Windu and Yoda are given this treatment. An excellent read and an early contender for my top ten reads of the year.
An idea for a more suitable cover comes from near the end of the book: We’re looking up at a bruised and bloodied Bail who is hanging on to a tree branch looking, with a fierce desperation, as he holds on to an even more bruised and bloodied Obi-Wan, who is in the throes of a psychological attack and hanging over a ravine. That with Wild Space would certainly prepare the reader better for what’s in this book.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 178 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? The Clone Wars: No Prisoners
Why I read it: Got the house, now decorating, yet to move in, so ploughing on…
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: It’s the French Foreign Legion in the desert. Everyone’s a complete nut-job. It’s funny.
Thoughts: More of the same great stuff. This has the longest running ‘story arc’ in the series when Egon goes on a lager holiday.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Beau Peep Books 1,2 4-19.
What’s next? The Man Who Spoke Dog by Charles Fullerton (My Great Uncle)
1

My Worst 10 Reads of 2018

Here is the list of my 10 worst reads of 2018.
DISCLAIMER: These are my views on these particular titles and are not an attack on you, your likes or personal history. If you like any of these books, great! I’m glad you managed to get something from them that I did not.
Also, I didn’t ‘hate’ the first few on this list, I just didn’t read many books I found truly awful. So think of them as more like the worst of the best. By halfway down, they were just bad.
Enjoy…

Number: 10
When/where/why I read it May – library book of the month
Link to original review: May 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: This was enjoyable enough, shame I didn’t read more bad books to keep this off this list. The story was enjoyable and the characters and settings were creative and memorable. Unfortunately the forced ‘romance’ was really bad and not really necessary at all.
Number: 9
When/where/why I read it November – library book of the month
Link to original review: November 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: This was okay, it was just hampered by an annoying main character, a thin plot and nothing really original. I’d still pick up book 2 from the library to see where it goes.
Number: 8
When/where/why I read it Read on and off over the previous couple of years as part of my normal reading cycle.
Link to original review: January 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: At nearly 500 pages this volume could have afforded to have been much slimmer by missing out a good number of truly awful stories in it. One of them (Everything’s Better With Zombies) didn’t even feature anything even remotely resembling the living dead, went nowhere and did nothing. I didn’t hate this book, it did have some good stories (and a couple of great ones such as Deadman’s Road and This Year’s Class Picture), but they were somewhat overshadowed by the mediocre or bad.
Number: 7
When/where/why I read it May – as part of my normal reading cycle.
Link to original review: May 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: Well this is easily the worst Star Wars novel I’ve read to date. I enjoyed exactly half of it with the nerfed Luke Skywalker trying to survive on an increasingly failing starship (thanks to some pesky Jawas), but the rest was just dross. Overly long and very disappointing.
Number: 6
When/where/why I read them May – as part of my horror reading.
Link to original reviews: May 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: Every time this pops up on my reading pile, I try to read 5 of them. I started with the rather good Welcome To Dead House, which was surprisingly chilling. With a few exceptions (none of which have matched the first book), the series has drastically gone downhill from there. Eager to finish what we have in the house so I can move on to something else. They’re just filled with missed opportunities, stupid, unlikable characters and twists that are either really obvious or completely out of the left field.
Number: 5
When/where/why I read it April – as part of my graphic novel reads
Link to original review: April 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: It says a lot that I’d read this before but have no memory of it…actually, I can’t remember much of it now. I recall that the artwork had no life in it with action sequences devoid of any dynamics. The story was also a bit naff. Anything set before a well-known film that has a plot seeking to assassinate a character from that film has no suspense: Will they succeed?…Of course not, I’ve got his Lego Minifigure from the film. Not enough Grievous either.
Number: 4
When/where/why I read them From February to May I read these chronologically from Kill Order to The Death Cure.
Link to original reviews: February 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
April 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
May 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: Okay, I thought The Maze Runner itself was fine. Nothing special, but enough happens in it and it sets up enough to make the series interesting, which was why I reread it, this time in sequence chronologically with these other books. Unfortunately the prequel was just bad. It was all ‘high octane’ but didn’t go anywhere with it. The two follow-ups in the trilogy failed to deliver on any of the promises made in the original. Still disappointed.
Number: 3
When/where/why I read it May – reborrowed this library book for a reread and to read the penny dreadful at the back.
Link to original review: May 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: Even now, this one still infuriates me. The artwork was horrible, the story was weak and the penny dreadful was truly abysmal. Some great ideas that were not followed through at all. On paper this has all the ingredients for an Victorian Avengers-style story. There’s Hyde (The Incredible Hulk), the Invisible Man (the Invisible Woman from Fantastic 4), Captain Nemo (a bit like Iron Man’s Tony Stark with his technological brilliance), and two others who, although are significant characters, do even less than Hawkeye. I still prefer the movie which was, at least, fun.
Number: 2
When/where/why I read it September – my library book of the month. I wanted to see what it added to the War of the Worlds lore.
Link to original review: September 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: This got really dull and repetitive very quickly. Only the John Carter one is remotely memorable. This series of short stories added nothing to the lore and much of it was a complete bore. Very disappointed as there are some great authors here whose stories I’ve enjoyed elsewhere.
Number: 1
When/where/why I read it July – beach reading. Also because I enjoyed The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August
Link to original review: July 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: I saw this on a shelf the other day and I found myself waxing lyrical about how truly awful it was. It’s seemingly affected me, and not in a good way. Boring, slow, dull and mishandles the message it’s trying to convey. What irritated me most was that I felt compelled to finish it to see if anything of any substance happens…it doesn’t. Go read Scythe by Neal Shusterman or Mort by Terry Pratchett or Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman instead for similar themes handled in a far better, more thought-provoking and vastly more entertaining way.

I hoped you enjoyed that.
If you would like to know what I did enjoy this year, then check out My Best 10 Reads of 2018.

1

My Best 10 Reads of 2018

Here is the list of my 10 best reads of 2018.
DISCLAIMER: These are my views on these particular titles and are not an attack on you, your likes or personal history. If you didn’t like any of these books, or found them distasteful because of author or content do be aware that I read a wide range of books and base them purely on a book by book merit.
Enjoy…

Number: 10
When/where/why I read it May – I read my wife’s library book to her.
Link to original review: May 2018 Book Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: Not even a book I picked for myself, I had finished reading her the previous book and this was all we hand handy at the time. We subsequently went on to buy and read book 2: Shadowblack. We enjoyed it that much with its sassy characters, fun plot and great twists.
Number: 9
When/where/why I read it This was a library book that I started reading in 2017 and the first book I finished reading in 2018.
Link to original review: January 2018 Book Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: Flicking through this book in the library, the chapter location summaries amused me, so I borrowed it purely on that bases. However, I was not prepared for such an entertaining an engrossing Buffy The Vampire-style story. Despite my best intentions, I still have yet to get hold of book 2, but very eager to do so.
Number: 8
/td>
When/where/why I read it January’s book of the month
Link to original review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zb10fY1xLnY
End of year thoughts: I know, not exactly high-brow literature here, but this collection of short stories surprised the hell out of me, particularly after reading the mediocre and repetitive Aliens: Bug Hunt. I enjoyed every story and their various approaches to the franchise. Predator fans should definitely give this a go.
Number: 7
When/where/why I read it September – normal reading cycle. I love StarCraft and have picked up quite a few of the tie-in novels now.
Link to original review: September 2018 Book Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: I remember this one surprised me by how good it was. Okay, it was barely a StarCraft book, but I didn’t mind at all. A brilliant story set in my favourite universe.
Number: 6
When/where/why I read it February – My wife and I adore this series, and so I read it to her as soon as we got hold of a copy.
Link to original review: February 2018 Book Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: By now we should be ploughing through book 8, but it’s been pushed back a bit. This one was a major game-changer for the series, both tonally and from the plot, and that’s a good thing. We want the next one!!!
Number: 5
When/where/why I read it October’s book of the month (and birthday present to myself).
Link to original review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcbLexDja3E
End of year thoughts: I was enamoured with how well-rounded the world and its contents was. I also enjoyed the widening chronology between alternating chapters.
Number: 4
When/where/why I read it October’s library book – I’d seen it you booktube and was interested to try it out.
Link to original review: October 2018 Book Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: Not only was this incredibly easy to read, the potentially macabre subject matter was handled with skill and insight. A book well-deserved of the hype it had gotten. Still eager to read book 2.
Number: 3
When/where/why I read it July – my wife received this in a PageHabit book crate. I’d not read much fantasy so offered to read it to her. And I did.
Link to original review: July 2018 Books Read Wrap-Up
End of year thoughts: The last epic fantasy book I read was the Lord of the Rings just after the first film came out (I preferred the films). I was impressed with the richness of the world and how the populations were distinctly different. The story was enjoyable too.
Number: 2
When/where/why I read it August’s book of the month – I liked the book cover and it looked like Scooby Doo
Link to original review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBtMeZfzF3k
End of year thoughts: It looked like Scooby Doo, it felt like Scooby Doo, but aimed at a mature audience and wasn’t Scooby Doo (just). This entertaining spin on the mystery theme was full of great character moments, fun scenes and a good mystery with some surprising twists.
Number: 1
When/where/why I read it December’s book of the month – I’d enjoyed Revenger also by Alastair Reynolds and wanted to try something else by him
Link to original review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwyEcd-6kNg
End of year thoughts: It’s reassuring that Revenger wasn’t just a one-off hit, but Reynolds can keep the bar high. This was an exciting police procedural in a vibrant and rich environment. Great storytelling. I’ve since picked up Revelation Space but am holding off until I’ve read Elysium Fire.

I hoped you enjoyed that.
If you would like to know what I didn’t enjoy as much this year, then check out My Worst 10 Reads of 2018.

0

December 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Ten titles this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: I’ve been rereading this series, this time to my younger son.
Reading slot Reading to: my youngest son
What is it about?: Once again Johnny finds himself giving help to something unexpected, this time it’s the deceased who don’t want their graveyard developed.
Thoughts: Another classic by the fantastic Terry Pratchett. The dialogue is hilarious and clever, the observations on human behavior pull no punches and the talk unfolds in a gentle and satisfactory way. Although all the characters are slight caricatures, they are all believable and relatable. A fun and unique spin on the ghost trope.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Almost everything written by Terry Pratchett.
What’s next? Johnny And The Bomb
Why I read it: I really enjoyed Revenger by Alastair Reynolds last year, so I thought I’d try another of his books.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: The Glitterband, a series of 10,000 enormous habitats orbiting a planet finds itself under threat. Prefect Dreyfus needs to find out just what this threat it so he can stop it.
Thoughts: While choosing this book, I took care to make sure I chose a stand-alone or beginning of a series. According to the blurb, list of books and other resources at the time I felt I was successful with this one. The book really threw me in at the deep end and it took me a little while to ‘get’ the world in it. There’s no world-building at all, it’s already there and fully functioning. There’s a good reason for this. After a little bit of research it turns out that this happens to be the fifth book of the Revelation Space series, where, presumably, the previous four books did the world-building. This was not a disaster, however, as I have read some Peter F. Hamilton and Ian M. Banks so was not a total stranger to the concepts here. Also this is a prequel/spin-off that has little bearing on the main series. This is a tale told in the far-off distant future with new technologies that mean people live very differently to how they do now, following a logical progression of current trends. This was a well planned-out book that, despite being based years before the events of the main series, also has a pre-history that has effected the people of the Glitter Band. This made this world feel complete and alive. The story’s told in two main parts: the Prefect Dreyfuss arc which follows the police procedural investigative format; and Ng arc which tells a tale of survival against ever-increasing odds. Both were fully engrossing and complimented each other well without ever getting in the way of the other. Each time the narrative jumped from one character to the next, it was welcomed. The conclusion was rather unexpected and abrupt, but the I supposed there’s no point dragging it out for no reason. I’m very eager to get hold of the next one, and the rest of the series.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Revenger
What’s next? January 2019’s Book of the Month
Why I read it: I’ve read the other three related books, so might as well finish off the series.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Faith-based fantasy
What is it about?: Thomas and Kate find themselves separated from their friend Raphah and end up travelling to London with the mysterious John Crane. Meanwhile, Raphah teams up with some unlikely companions to find them while keeping ahead of the malevolent fallen priest Demurral.
Thoughts: After a bit of meaningless wanderings and set-up, the story really gets going once the children find themselves in Salamander Street. The expedition on the road find themselves up against werewolves, witches and immortals, while the Thomas and Kate struggle with ghosts and opium. This is a good vs. evil story where the good is sometimes more of a lighter shade of grey, and the evil attacks the heroes in directions they were not expecting. If faith-based fiction raises your hackles, I would say that this is at the same level as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: most of the terms and names have been changed and the heroes have to do more than just pray and hope for the best. If you welcome a more theologically-based story, there’s not much here that’s groundbreaking but sometimes it’s enough that it’s just ‘there’. The ending was satisfying, though not necessarily as expected.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Shadowmancer; Wormwood; Tersias
What’s next? Everything’s packed away in boxes right now, but possibly Monster by Frank Peretti
Why I read it: I’ve been going through my graphic novels. Currently chronologically working my way through my Star Wars collection
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, this chronicles a series of Marvel comics adventures that the heroes of the rebellion find themselves on.
Thoughts: Despite being a little dated and canonically questionable – bearing in mind that at this point A New Hope was still called The Star Wars and encompassed the entire cinematic universe – this was actually very readable. Among the standard Sci-fi stories, Luke is still discovering the Force…and an attractive young woman whose chances of being even remotely related to him are next to impossible. Han is still the scoundrel, with the heart of gold. Chewie…is there with the droids… This doesn’t push any boundaries but gives an interesting insight into a pre-ESB era of what the Old Republic looked like, who Jabba the Hutt was and just what the Force can do. The art style is hilarious, probably for all the wrong reasons.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 174 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: A Long Time Ago…VI: Wookiee World
Why I read it: I’ve been reading these to my boys when we stay with my parents. They’ve gotten to book 11.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys (and myself)
What is it about?: Chronicling the ‘adventures’ of legionnaire Beau Peep in these collected comic strips.
Thoughts: In this funny collection, Mad Pierre has a crack at the Sergeant’s exam, Denis grows a mustache, Beau goes to the dentist, and Denis actually buys a drink. Some great stuff that’s as daft as it is silly.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Beau Peep 1-20 (excepting 3, 9 and 20).
What’s next? Beau Peep 8
Why I read it: I missed reading a bunch of these to my kids when they stayed with their grandparents without me. Catching up.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys (and myself)
What is it about?: Chronicling the ‘adventures’ of legionnaire Beau Peep in these collected comic strips.
Thoughts: Among all this gold Egon finally tries to smarten up. There’s other great stuff too.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Beau Peep 1-20 (excepting 3, 9 and 20).
What’s next? Beau Peep 9
Why I read it: I missed reading a bunch of these to my kids when they stayed with their grandparents without me. Catching up.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys (and myself)
What is it about?: Chronicling the ‘adventures’ of legionnaire Beau Peep in these collected comic strips.
Thoughts: More great stuff. This one also has Egon’s sister fill in at the canteen and the Nomad dresses up as a legionnaire
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Beau Peep 1-20 (excepting 3 and 20).
What’s next? Beau Peep 9
Why I read it: I missed reading a bunch of these to my kids when they stayed with their grandparents without me. Catching up.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys (and myself)
What is it about?: Chronicling the ‘adventures’ of legionnaire Beau Peep in these collected comic strips.
Thoughts: Fun. Enjoyable. Silly. The Nomad disguised as a sand dune. The new shape for the books is a great improvement.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Beau Peep 1-20 (excepting 3, and 20).
What’s next? Beau Peep 12
Why I read it: I’ve really gotten into this series.
Reading slot Killing time
What is it about?: It’s the Zombie Apocalypse! A bunch of not-dead-yets are seeking refuge in a prison, unfortunately they’ve made a deadly enemy, who’s just rolled up outside… in a tank.
Thoughts: Blimey this one sizzled! I’d say the previous books, though thrilling at time, disturbing at other times and otherwise slow-burney, this volume really fits the ‘page-turner’ accolade. I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited while reading a graphic novel. The action was intense and the body counter overheated. I thought the Governor’s attack on the prison was devastating on the TV show (two significant deaths, I think), but that’s peanuts compared to this (nine)!
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Walking Dead books 1-7
What’s next? Book 9, when I get hold of a copy.
Why I read it: In my TBR pile, but read it midway through Wookiee World because I was never going to finish that before the end of the year.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Boba Fett has a bit of a reputation, here are four stories showing just why this is the case.
Thoughts: There are four great stories here:
Sacrifice: This action-packed story sees to rival brothers heading both sides of a civil war and Boba Fett is set to hunt down one of them. Violent, viscous with dynamic artwork. Very satisfying.
Wreckage: Boba Fett finds himself battling against the defenses of a derelict Star Destroyer. Again full of action, great set pieces and not all that much dialogue. A bit confusing at the end when the Imperial who hired him looked just like Grand Moff Tarkin.
Overkill: The plot may have been a little convoluted but this was still was enjoyable with a more cartoon-esk artwork.
Agent Of Doom: This features many hallmarks of the holocaust and was a bit harrowing in places. It did lead to
a very satisfying conclusion when Boba Fett tracks down to Imperial ‘scientists’ whose sole purpose was to wipe out all non-human life.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 175 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: A Long Time Ago…VI: Wookiee World
1

November 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Five titles this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?
Video time:

Why I read it: Knowing my youngest’s sense of humour and acute awareness of the world, I thought he might appreciate a bit of Terry Pratchett (and I fancied rereading this trilogy anyway).
Reading slot Reading to: my youngest son
What is it about?: The Maxwell household is going through ‘Trying Times,’ leaving Johnny lots of time to play computer games. The latest game Only You Can Save Mankind a space shoot-em-up suddenly stops mid-game with a message informing Johnny of the aliens’ surrender.
Thoughts: For a children’s book, there is far more in here than I remember or previously realised. This story deals with issues such as divorcing parents, fitting in, friends narrowly avoiding disaster involving joyriding, stepping up and maturity (amongst others). The car incident was particularly poignant in that up to that point this was a fun fantasy involving ‘Game Space’ and what really happened to the Space Invaders, suddenly there’s real life and death implications totally removed from the main plot. The interactions between Johnny and his friends as well as other conversations are so natural and honest and work so well to identify and personify the characters. The plot almost takes second place to the observations of society and people. The humour ranges for a subtle (to not so subtle) satire through to laugh out loud silly comments or situations. My son certainly responded well to certain lines with a gleeful shriek. The only negative I can think of is the logic of the story, which does fall down completely if you think about it for any length of time. My advice is that you don’t think about the logic.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Almost every single book written by Terry Pratchett
What’s next? Johnny Maxwell II: Johnny And The Dead
Why I read it: Last year my wife read it and really enjoyed it and I was intrigued enough to give it a go.
Reading slot Book of the month.
What is it about?: In the year 2140 the sea levels have risen and many coastal cities have been submerged. New York has adapted to its new aquatic theme and its people still face threats such as greed, kidnapping and corporate take-overs.
Thoughts: I might have been in a ‘reading slump’ but this took me three weeks to read. My book of a month nearly took a month to read. The story follows 8 inhabitants of the Met building: Vlade, in charge of the building’s maintenance and upkeep who discovers signs of sabotage; Charlotte head of the home-owner’s association who’s in charge of the human aspect of the building and finds two members missing; Inspector Gen who looks into the disappearances; Stephan and Roberto, two orphan boys who think they discovered sunken treasure; Franklin a money spinner who, despite his callous exterior, is actually more compassionate than he lets on; Amelia, an internet sensation whose latest venture with her airship is to transport endangered polar bears to the Antarctica; Mutt and Jeff two number crunchers who want to make the world a better place, but then find themselves kidnapped and sequestered in a hidden prison. The book itself is split over about 8 sections with each section with all the characters and character pairings getting a chapter following them in each section. Interestingly Franklin’s chapters are told in the first person. Each section also has a chapter by ‘The Citizen’ which is an in-universe note from the author in which greater detail is given about the flooding of New York and other global occurrences, amongst other topics. Much of the book is dedicated to the underlying economies and other financial aspects of property and valuation. If you’re not really knowledgeable about such things, this is quite a dry read in places as these terms are fired off with great regularity. However, the language is kept relatively simple so it can be followed, if not entirely understood. That this is mixed in with a treasure hunt, a missing persons case, sabotage, natural disasters and polar bears loose on an airship with the only person locked in a maintenance cupboard does make it more readable. Most of the characters were likeable and had a good representation in the story. The story itself covers about 4 years so the title is only true for a bit of the book. The conclusion of the book is not really an end, New York is still there, but it does give each character arc a nice conclusion. In all, this felt like a very realistic view of what the world (New York in particular) would be like 122 years from now. Unfortunately, if you’re not knowledgeable about economics, this 613 page tome of dense text can be a bit of a slog in places.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Red Mars
What’s next? December’s Book of the Month
Why I read it: What I wanted to read wasn’t in the library so I picked something that had caught my eye previously.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: The judicial system has been disbanded and replaced by a death row eye-for-an-eye sentence where the voting public get to decide up the guilt or innocence of the accused. Charged with the murder of the nation’s heartthrob, a sixteen year-old girl is the youngest yet to suffer the 7 Cells to her death, but she has a plan.
Thoughts: As a YA book, this was quite an easy read with almost no surprises in it. Almost from the get-go I know the direction this was going to take (that there are two further books was a bit of a give away), but that would be my main complaint. There were a couple of revelations I didn’t see coming, so there was that. This also seems to be a statement on the current system of ‘trial by media’ where recent high-profile arrests have been made and the public have jumped on the guilty/innocent band wagon based solely on the information titbits handed out by the sensationalist media. Nothing wrong with that but also nothing that hasn’t been covered before. The character of Martha herself was difficult to like, she spent so much of her time being the petulant and uncooperative teenager that even by the end of the book, I still don’t know much about her. Despite all that, I did enjoy the concept of this story and the Cell system was something a bit different without being over the top. I’m not sure when or where this is supposed to be based, possibly and overpopulated future England (a Prime Minister is mentioned a few times) but this could have been a Townsvilletopiatropolis of the not-so-good future anywhere really. The story picked up a lot towards the end of the book where my predictions came to fruition but there was enough there to give me the gumption to seek out book 2.
Score: Worth reading
Why I read it: I started reading book 1 of Destiny’s Children: Coalescent but found that I needed to have read a whole bunch of Xeelee books first. So picked this alternative from my Stephen Baxter shelf.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Sci-Fi by Author: Stephen Baxter
What is it about?: An isolated and possibly the last remaining family of mammoths on Earth find their usual hardships increase when humans turn up on their island.
Thoughts: This was a very insightful tale sharing the experiences, fears and trials and tribulations of the mammoth Silverhair. Although the mammoths can talk to each other, this is no way mistaken as being a Disney. There are some brutal encounters that some could find harrowing. This was an interesting and believable account of a mammoth’s life.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Manifold Series; Voyage; The Massacre Of Mankind; Reality Dust; The Long Earth Series (with Terry Pratchett); Time’s Eye (with Arthur C. Clarke); Sunstorm (with Arthur C. Clarke); The Light Of Other Days (with Arthur C. Clarke)
What’s next? Mammoth II: Longtusk
Why I read it: I’ve been rereading all my Red Dwarf and books by the same authors. This is the last one to go
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Red Dwarf and Related
What is it about?: Being fat is pretty much illegal. An overweight TV chef finds his career options have deteriorated due to his size and a teenage girl tries to hide her anorexia from her family.
Thoughts: This is a deeply insightful and entertaining look at the social attitudes towards weight. It looks at it issue from both extremes (morbidly obese to malnourished). The humour is never at the expense of the characters but directed at the system and circumstances that put them in the situations they find themselves in. The story is not afraid to confront these issues head on and makes some well-researched arguments and observations. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers; Backwards; Better Than Life; Last Human. By Rob Grant: Colony; Incompetence
What’s next? Rereading: Colony, if I can borrow it off my dad, otherwise creating a new reading slot: Honor Harrington by David Weber starting with a reread of On Basilisk Station

Short and sweet this month.
So what’s on for December?

1

October 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Nine titles this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?
A video of the same:

Why I read it: Going through my graphic novel collection, gotta read ’em all.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: While Darth Vader is on a Jedi-hunting assignment, a cadre of Imperial officials plot to overthrow the Emperor.
Thoughts: Despite the interesting premise (with predicable outcome) and intriguing characters, this volume is hampered by ugly artwork and a very disjointed narrative that reads like this should have been a thicker book but every other page has been removed. A disappointing start to a series.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 173 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Empire II: Darklighter
Why I read it: It’s a fun series, why not?
Reading slot Reading to: my wife
What is it about?: While teenage mage and necromancer-in-training Valkyrie Cain and her skeletal detective friend Skulduggery Pleasant track down a criminal from the previous book, the remnants escape. This is not a good thing.
Thoughts: As Valkyrie ages and matures, so does this series. The books are thicker, the plots are heavier and the stories are darker. There are some great characters here, many with secrets and mysteries and hidden pasts which, in a lot of cases, are never answered. This gives a greater level of realism in this highly enjoyable urban fantasy.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Demon Road Trilogy; Skulduggery Pleasant books 1-4.
What’s next? The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding
Why I read it: It’s by Chris Wooding… need I say more?
Reading slot Book Of The Month
What is it about?: In a world where its population lives underground, there’s a war. An assassin and spy is captured and must escape to save her son from the war and learns of a conspiracy that could change everything.
Thoughts: Predominantly, this is an escape story with the captured heroine’s plight in the prison, interspersed with farther reaching flashbacks to the events leading up this this moment in her life. In that, it was fun the way the chapter numbers started in the 20s and alternatively decreased with each subsequent flashback chapter (to 0) and increased with the continuation of the story. The escape itself played second to this aspect and to the inventive characters and immersive world they are in. The underground is not a network of stony tunnels with ambiguous light sources but vast caverns rich in fauna and flora and fungi. There are many races of people, only a few of whom are encountered. Even the surface is visited, giving the reason why the inhabitants live deep underground. Excellent stuff that could well be the basis for a few more stories.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Ketty Jay quadrilogy; Silver
What’s next? November’s Book Of The Month

Why I read it: It’s the next in the series and, more importantly, I’ve got it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Luke Skywalker’s childhood friend Biggs Darklighter only gets a few minutes in the film before Darth Vader blasts him to dust. This is his story of how he got there.
Thoughts: This was an engrossing and loving look at the life of one of the Rebellion’s fallen heroes. If it weren’t for Bigg’s sacrifice, Luke never would have been able to destroy the Death Star. The artwork was done well and Bigg’s story was believable and devastatingly full when it ended. This volume has a bonus story featuring Roons Sewell, which gave a little bit of more about the origins of the Rebel Alliance. It was well illustrated if a somewhat pointless character study on a character we’ve never seen before (and as it’s a eulogy at his funeral, never see subsequently).
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 174 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Rebellion I: My Brother, My Enemy
Why I read it: I’d heard about it on BookTube and liked the sound of it. Picked it up at the library when I spotted it.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: In the future death has been conquered. The downside is overpopulation. Official Scythes stalk the streets whose job it is to cull the herd a necessary evil that’s tolerated, until certain Scythes start enjoying their job far too much.
Thoughts: This was a very thought-provoking read that tastefully dances with the subject of death, immortality and, ultimately, life. The story follows to Scythe apprentices who each ultimately end up getting trained by two Scythes who take a very different approach to their job. The story reads beautifully and I ploughed my way through this story easily. I enjoyed the concepts and the discussions about why certain people get picked over others for being visited by a Scythe. Looking forward to book 2: Thunderhead.
Score: Booktastic!
Why I read it: It’s the next graphic novel to read…
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Luke’s childhood friend Tank has turned out to be an Imperial officer. Can these two reconcile their differences?
Thoughts: This is a continuation of the story arc started in the Empire series of which I’ve only read books 1 & 2 (because that’s all I’ve got). As such, there are some characters and situations that I’m not fully up to speed on. Despite that, this was well told with some stunning visuals. It really dug deep into the hearts of Tank and Luke on opposing sides where both believe they are on the side of right.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 175 other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: A Long Time Ago…II: Dark Encounters
Why I read it: I’ve been rereading this series, this time to my oldest son. He wants me to keep at it.
Reading slot Reading to: my oldest son
What is it about?: Having just completed their adventures in the Pacific Ocean, animal collecting brothers Hal and Roger remain on the Lively Lady when she’s commissioned for a search for a sunken wreck.
Thoughts: Another colourfully descriptive adventure in the Pacific Ocean this time with more focus on finding lost treasure than animals. The villain of the story is really obvious and it’s a bit daft that the threat he poses is completely ignored until it’s too late. Good fun though very much of its time.
Score: Worth reading – to a child
I’ve also read: Adventures: Amazon Adventure; Arctic Adventure; Diving Adventure; Elephant Adventure; Lion Adventure; Safari Adventure; South Sea Adventure; Whale Adventure
What’s next? Volcano Adventure
Why I read it: My dad introduced me to this series with The Covenant Of Genesis and I’ve been hooked on it ever since.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Action/Thriller: Wilde Chase
What is it about?: Archaeologist Nina Wilde goes on another madcap adventure this time to discover the pyramid of Osiris. As this usually involves coming up against evil and dangerous men, she is always accompanied by her bodyguard and husband Eddie Chase to make sure she stays alive.
Thoughts: If this were a movie, it would be a high-octane action film with lots of explosions, vehicle chases and over the top baddies. The pure enjoyment of it would forgive all the far-fetched stunts and gravity-defying leaps. Thankfully, this book reads just like it would look on screen, so just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Wilde Chase: The Covenant Of Genesis; The Hunt For Atlantis; The Midas Legacy; The Secret Of Excalibur
What’s next? Wilde Chase: The Tomb Of Hercules
Why I read it: Because I enjoy books by James Rollins
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Action/Thriller: James Rollins stand-alone books
What is it about?: Buried in the Arctic ice is a research station. A chance encounter drags a hapless fish & game ranger into a conflict to discover its secrets between the Russians and the Americans as well as some mysterious aquatic monsters.
Thoughts: Another thrilling high-octane action adventure, this time on, in and under the ice…with monsters. Great fun with some interesting choice of characters and situations. Having the deaf researcher lost in the tunnel network being hunted by creatures in the dark was particularly memorable. It was also great to see wise-cracking Kowalski’s first adventure before he joined the Sigma Force team.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Amazonia; Deep Fathom; Excavation; Sigma Force: Black Order; The Doomsday Key; The Judas Strain; Map Of Bones; Sandstorm
What’s next? Subterranean

Excellent stuff.
On to November with:

2

September 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Nine titles this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?
For lazy readers, here’s a video:

Why I read it: I enjoyed the first two (and everything else by Alex Scarrow) but was reluctant with this one due to the cover change. My wife bought it for me at YALC 2018
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: A dread disease has decimated mankind leaving only a few bands of survivors left. Unfortunately the disease has a few more tricks…
Thoughts: Despite the horrifically bad, vomit-inducing cover that in no way matches the brilliant and shiny first two, this was a solid conclusion to the trilogy. For the most part, standard post-apocalyptic survival stuff but with a really original threat (or, at least a clever mash-up of various threats). I can’t go into much detail without giving away any spoilers to the previous books (or this one) but the ending is definitely one that’s not expected. Again, some lovely descriptions of the human body being melted by the virus, but seen in a very different light once certain facts are presented.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Legend Of Ellie Quin; Books 1-9 of TimeRiders; Remade; Reborn
What’s next? September’s Book Of The Month

Further thoughts in video form:

Why I read it: I saw this in the library and thought it looked fun.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: A series of short stories retelling the events of the Martian invasion from the points of view of various historical figures.
Thoughts: I’m not the greatest fan of the original H. G. Wells story, it’s not aged well and the story is very dry in the telling. I had hoped that these different authors could inject some life into it. Unfortunately, for the most part, they chose to stick to Wells’s narrative style without bringing any new material to the theme. This became really repetitive and I only kept going in the dwindling hope that the next story would be better. The one stand-out was told from John Carpenter’s point of view as he thwarted the Martian’s efforts on their home turf (which was why they sent such a small army). If you enjoyed the original, this may be for you, but otherwise give it a miss.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells; The Massacre Of Mankind by Stephen Baxter
Why I read it: StarCraft is just about my all-time favourite game. Of course I’m going to read related novels.
Reading slot Game tie-ins: StarCraft
What is it about?: Based-off the lead character of the computer game that never got released, this is the origin story of the Ghost known as Nova.
Thoughts: First up, the front cover is a lie. This is literally the end result at the conclusion of the book. November is a young girl who traumatically reaches her psionic potential. Heavily influenced by Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man this barely qualifies as a StarCraft book in that it’s played out on the streets of poverty but curiously makes the StarCraft universe stronger. There’s more to the Kropulu sector than just the three species war and this book shows how ordinary rich and poor people live as well as their views on the war. Not what I expected, but far better than I had hoped for a book based on a first-person shooter game that never happened.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga Trilogy; I, Mengsk; Liberty’s Crusade; Shadow Of The Xel’Naga; Speed Of Darkness; StarCraft II: Heaven’s Devils; StarCraft II: Devil’s Due
What’s next? StarCraft: Queen Of Blades
Why I read it: My younger son really enjoyed me reading the first book to him, so on to book too!
Reading slot Reading to: my youngest son
What is it about?: Young Joe the Barbarian finds himself back in the crazy land of Muddle Earth, not with his dog this time, but with his older sister. His old friends now run a wizarding school and are now tasked with finding some missing artefacts.
Thoughts: As before this book features three daft adventures that Joe and the rest embark on. However, the plot’s not important, but the silliness and the fun characters. Each character has their own voice and they all bounce off each other very effectively. Thankfully, they subject of the parody has changed from the first book giving some fresh spoofs of Harry Potter, Narnia and The Great British Bake-Off amongst others. Plot-wise, I would say that this is a weaker book than the first. However, my son enjoyed it immensely as well as the brilliant illustrations by Chris Riddel.
Score: Worth reading – aloud
I’ve also read: Muddle Earth
What’s next? Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett
Why I read it: Because I wanna!
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Three Hutts make a bet as to who can retrieve the fabled Yavin Vassilika first. Some well-known faces race to be the winner.
Thoughts: I remembered enjoying this last time I read it, and had great fun with it again. The vibrant and fun artwork complements the equally vibrant and fun story. Not quite a farce, but certainly humorous. There’s great interplay between the famous bounty hunters, rogues and scruffy-looking nerf herders. The character of Greedo is very different to the short-lived screen version, one who is much less cocky and still green, erm , about the ear, uh, things. The plot does get convoluted, but it’s supposed to and is all the more fun because of it. This is also suitable for younger readers.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Another 172 Star Wars titles. No, I’m not listing them!
What’s next? Star Wars: Empire I: Betrayal
Why I read it: It’s in the house and I like James Rollins.
Reading slot Movie Novelisations
What is it about?: Indiana Jones is back and this time he’s older and up against the Russians in locating a mysterious crystal skull.
Thoughts: Silly though it is, I do enjoy the movie. Having said that, this book does improve on the film considerably. Admittedly, there’s not much that’s different in terms on the plot and dialogue and action but Rollins’s high-octane writing is far superior to the somewhat questionable special effects on screen. The stuns are just as ridiculous but are better rendered. This was also a nice and quick easy read.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: By James Rollins: Amazonia; Deep Fathom; Excavation; Sigma Force: Black Order; The Doomsday Key; The Judas Strain; The Last Oracle; Map Of Bones; Sandstorm
What’s next? Indiana Jones And The White Witch
Why I read it: I’ve read the first five books, kind of makes sense to read the last one
Reading slot Book Series: Gone
What is it about?: A town and its surrounding area have been blocked in by a mysterious dome, everyone over the age of 16 has vanished and some children have super powers. The great evil that shares the dome with the children is determined to kill them all.
Thoughts: Well this was quite the climatic conclusion. This final book is chock full of major character deaths, destruction, violence and more death. Everyone’s pretty much guaranteed to lose at least one of their favourite surviving characters in this book. Suspenseful right to the end, this series did well not to not burn itself out early or by overstaying its welcome. Yes there are now more books, but they are more of a spin-off (as far as I understand it). This also does a realistic portrayal of survival where resources are limited and the dangers are many.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Gone; Hunger; Lies; Plague; Fear
What’s next? Monster
Why I read it: I grew up reading these, so why not reread them when visiting my parents?
Reading slot Dad’s book collection: Harry Harrison
What is it about?: Notorious and (partially) reformed career thief James “Slippery Jim” diGriz is pitted against an entire alien invasion.
Thoughts: This was one of my favourites and was a joy to revisit. Despite the era this was written in, Harrison was remarkably progressive for his time. Best described as an adventurous romp, this brings back one of the Stainless Steel Rat’s previous foes. A lot of fun and yet meriting some significant mulling over.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: By Harry Harrison: Captive Universe; Galactic Dreams; In Our Hands, The Stars; Invasion: Earth; The Men From P.I.G. And R.O.B.O.T.; One Step From Earth; Planet Of No Return; Planet Of The Damned; Rebel In Time; The Stainless Steel Rat series; Stainless Steel Visions; Star Smashers Of The Galaxy Rangers; To The Stars Trilogy; Two Tales And Eight Tomorrows; West Of Eden Trilogy
What’s next? The Stainless Steel Rat For President
Why I read it: Not knowing much about Harley Quinn save for the Arkham games, I thought I better educate myself.
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: A series of comics from her first ever appearance up to the movie Suicide Squad
Thoughts: What I liked most about this was the quick summary of the character at the beginning in a simple double-page spread chronicling her fall into crime and her questionable redemption. Each comic is a showcase set-piece of the run at the time, so each story has a very different Harley Quinn. In some cases she’s the main character and in others she’s merely there. Unfortunately, comics from story arcs did feel a little truncated because there’s already a story in progress at the beginning and the end is not the end but that’s all there is.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: DC Meets Loony Tunes

Another great month.

So what’s next?

0

August 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Eleven titles this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?
A video if you can’t be doing with the reading thing:

Why I read it: Being a fan of this writing partnership (The Relic) I saw this in the library and thought this looked fun for a beach read.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)/Summer reading
What is it about?: After a failed recovery mission leaves a mysterious meteorite at the bottom of the Arctic ocean, a second mission is sent to destroy it, because it’s hatched.
Thoughts: Firstly, I hadn’t realised this was a sequel to The Ice Limit which I hadn’t read. However, this was written in such a way as to make that not an issue at all. I’ve also not ready any of the other Gideon Crew books. This ended up with quite a few themes, which made it more episodal than cluttered. There was one scene of extreme violence that was a little unexpected and has certainly stuck with me. Most of the characters were likeable or, at least, interesting, which made certain character deaths more impactful (not just due to the manner of their death…). I’m now eager to read The Ice Limit and more of Gideon Crew.
Score: Worth buying
I’ve also read: Pendergast: The Relic
Why I read it: I liked the Scooby Doo vibe when I spotted this in a bookshop. Picked it up then and there.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: As children, five friends and a dog meddled and solved crimes. Now they’re all grown up and gone their own ways but their last case together needs them to reunite. Even though one of them’s dead.
Thoughts: Scooby Doo this isn’t, but it’s a clear inspiration for this story as it’s does have the Scooby Gang vibe. As with most mystery stories, there’s not much I can divulge without giving away spoilers, but basically the not Scoobie-gang reconvene to re investigate their last case together as it turns out that not everything was as it appeared to be. This book was a lot of good fun, funny in places, impactful in others.The mystery itself kept me guessing until it went down a particular route, which made me smile. All of the group carry some baggage with them which made their interactions meaningful. Fingers cross that this becomes the first in a series because I need more of this.
Score: Booktastic!
What’s next? September’s Book Of The Month

My VLOG of the same:

Why I read it: It’s been a while since I last read through my X-Files books. So doing just that.
Reading slot TV tie-ins: X-Files
What is it about?: A mild-mannered skin graft patient suddenly goes berserk and destroys a hospital room. FBI Special Agents Mulder and Scully must track down the source of the skin to discover its unusual properties.
Thoughts: A solid and gritty X-Files story that could have been a TV episode.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: X-Files: Antibodies; Darkness Falls; Goblins; Ground Zero; The Host; Humbug; Ruins; Shapes; Squeeze; Tiger, Tiger; Voltage; Whirlwind
What’s next? X-Files: I Want To Believe
Why I read it: I’ve already read Droids, so it kind of makes sense to continue here.
Reading slot 3 Grapic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: The droids have followed their nemesis so that he can answer for his crimes. C-3PO gets infected with virus that changes his personality and sees him leading a droid revolution.
Thoughts: This volume had a more linear story-line than the previous one and was full of twists and double-crosses making it a much richer read also. The artwork was about the same, if a bit tired by now. Still not all that impactful on the Star Wars universe but not all that bad either.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: A bit of the Star wars stuff.
What’s next? Star Wars: Jabba The Hutt
Why I read it: Something fun to read to the kids while staying at their grandparents’.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: Legionnaire Beau Peep has to try and survive his posting at the Sahara Desert despite the insanity of the colonel, the ineptitude of the chef and the stupidity of his friends and enemies.
Thoughts: Another fun collection of the comic strip. With nothing that really differentiates this from the other collections, all I can say is that it’s just as good and funny as before – provided you like this sort of thing.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Almost all of Beau Peep.
What’s next? Beau Peep book 7
Why I read it: It’s the next one on my to do list.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Three tales showing just how formidable Jabba the Hutt is.
Thoughts: where the previous Droids books were gentle and childish, this volume is gruesome and brutal. Jabba proves to be a deadly being even when caught alone and without his aides. He’s always three moves ahead of his opponents and can make things go his way either by using his wits or his superior bulk. The stories were, perhaps, a little simple but were very satisfying.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Many, many, many, many Star Wars books
What’s next? The Force Unleashed
Why I read it: Because it was lying about the house
Reading slot Wife’s book collection: Redwall
What is it about?: Anthropomorphic animal fantasy adventures where a mouse seeks to rescue her father and searats attempt to invade Redwall Abbey.
Thoughts: This is the fourth Redwall I have read and they do fall into the trap of being a bit samey. That being said, the immersive world is rich and vibrant with many delightful or menacing characters. There is a purity in a story where the heroes and the villains are clear and obvious and every species have their own speech patterns and mannerisms. This had a little more going on than the ones before it and still managed to remain unmuddled and linear.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Redwall; Mossflower; Mattimeo
What’s next? Salamandastrom
Why I read it: My wife and I enjoyed book one of this series, so it only makes sense that we have a go at the next entry.
Reading slot Reading to: my wife
What is it about?: Failed and exiled mage Kellen is learning that life outside a community is a lot harder than he expected but forgets his own problems when he encounters someone else seemingly afflicted with the Shadowblack.
Thoughts: What won this series over to us in the first book was the sassy nature of the characters as well as the brilliant interactions between them. Thankfully, this engaging aspect has continued into this book. The story does fall into the trope of the wandering hero stumbling across a conspiracy and saving the day for a bunch of strangers before going off once again into the sunset, but it’s known to work and it does that here. Bring on book 3.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Spellslinger
What’s next? Skullduggery Pleasant V: Mortal Coil
Why I read it: I was never a fan of the show, but after my wife watched a few seasons, I have gradually warmed to it and now enjoy it. She’s also got some related books.
Reading slot Wife’s book collection: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
What is it about?: A collection of 3 episode novelisations that heavily feature the brooding bad boy Angel.
Thoughts: This is a thin book that is barely more than the the 3 episode scripts padded out to make into something readable. Aimed for the younger readers, which is interesting due to the moderately mature nature of the show. Not sure who this is aimed at then… Anyway, these are three standard tellings of the episodes Angel, Reptile Boy and Lie To Me. Reading them back-to-back can be a little jarring as the first one features the Master, the second one the Master’s long dead and the third one has Spike and Dru doing their thing. A good replacement if you can’t get to see the episodes, but if you can, you might was well watch them.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Coyote Moon; Halloween Rain; Harvest; Spike & Dru: Pretty Maids All In A Row; Tales Of The Slayer Volumes 1-3
What’s next? Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Angel Chronicles Vol. II
Why I read it: Because they’re fun to read and worth sharing with the kids.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: More madcap shenanigans featuring legionnaire Beau Peep and the loonies around him in this collected comic strip.
Thoughts: Seven books in and the characters are now better defined with their mannerisms and looks. Another fun collection for those who like this type of humour.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: At least 95% of all Beau Peep books.
What’s next? Beau Peep Book VIII
Why I read it: It’s on my shelf, and it’s next in line.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Darth Vader has a secret apprentice who has a special mission regarding the burgeoning rebellion.
Thoughts: This is the graphic novel of the game (I’ve not played it) which, presumably, has the streamlined version of the story (without all the running about looking for Easter eggs, getting stuck in rooms and dying a lot). Beautifully illustrated, this volume paves an interesting story as Starkiller finds himself double-crossed at almost every turn. The twist at the end is particularly good.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Quite a bit of Star Wars, actually.
What’s next? Star Wars: Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika

So great stuff this month.
What’s in store for September?

2

July 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Eleven titles this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?

If you can’t be doing with the reading thing, here’s my blog of the same:

Why I read it: I had previously borrowed books 1 and 2 from the library and had enjoyed them, so now have books 3 and 4 also from the library.
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: San Diego is going to be destroyed, can our hapless heroes get out in time?
Thoughts: Despite the original premise, this series has quickly devolved into another zombie apocalypse survival story. There are some interesting new ideas for the zombies themselves and the artwork is still fun, but I;m not sure there’s enough here to make it stand out. I have enjoyed the cover art galleries and the back of all the books however,
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Wrecking Crew 4 Lyfe; Appetite For Destruction
What’s next? Apollo Z
Why I read it: I’ve ready the first three volumes to my boys, so why not this one? Well..maybe there is a reason this time…
Reading slot Reading to both my boys.
What is it about?: The zany humans and animals of the animal sanctuary Liberty Meadows get up to mischief.
Thoughts: Another brilliant volume from Frank Cho that feels unfinished. This is a comic strip collection so there is no plot or story arc, but with the introduction of a new character and a development in the Frank and Brandy will-they-won’t-they saga, the book abruptly finished. The new character literally (a raccoon with OCD) literally has two appearances. As for reading this to my boys, the previous books have gotten progressively bolder with their risque scenes and this one is even more so. The hilarious revenge of Jen on Frank had to be rapidly skipped over. Please give us a book five Mr. Cho?!
Score: Worth buying
I’ve also read: Eden, Creature Comforts, Summer Of Love
Why I read it: This is one of my favourite series, so I wanted to reread it. The title came out of the reading jar.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: In a world where the major form of transport are specialised airships, a crew of unsuccessful pirates are given a job that seems too good to be true.
Thoughts: Fans of the TV show Firefly may find something familiar about the feeling this crew give them as they read. The characters here are superbly realised and go one their exploits in a rich and diverse world that almost feels real. I can’t praise this book – or this series – enough.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Black Lung Captain; The Iron Jackal; The Ace Of Skulls; Silver
What’s next? July’s book of the month…

A video on the book.

Why I read it: It’ next on my graphic novel pile.
Reading slot 3 Grapic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: R2-D2 go on a series of adventures before they get caught up in the rebellion.
Thoughts: This is episode in nature, much like the cartoon series of the same name. There is a progression from one to the next with the same villain cropping up time and again. The story and plot are aimed at younger readers with an artwork to match. All non-threatening and not all that impactful.
Score: Worth reading – to a child
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars books
What’s next? Droids: Rebellion
Why I read it: I’ve already read the rest of the series, it kind of makes sense.
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: The survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse aim for space, to see if they can find answers, and a cure.
Thoughts: Thankfully this different take on the zombie genre does once again deviate from the standard zombie survival fare by heading off to a space station. This is great fun and it’s got zombies in space.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Wrecking Crew 4 Lyfe; Appetite For Destruction; Escape From San Diego
Why I read it: My wife got this author annotated copy in a pagehabit box. It interested me so I offered to read it to her.
Reading slot Reading to my wife
What is it about?: In a land still reeling from a recently thwarted invasion a shape-changing bard tells the story of the events of that invasion.
Thoughts: This was a magnificent beginning to a series. Any hesitation about the manor of in-book story-telling to relate the events of the invasion are quickly quashed by the rich world that’s told. Each culture is beautifully realised with mannerisms, hierarchies and values unique to each one. With multiple first person PoVs the story does jump about a bit, but with it all tied together by the bard, the jumps are smooth and easy to follow. There is also a well though-out magic system that is quickly demonstrated and does make a logical sense. Also, because it was the bard providing a character’s PoV, there was a freshness to the uncertain fate of the characters in question. Usually, when a story is told from the view of a character, there’s a good chance they’ve survived their ordeals to tell the story.
In this book there is no such certainty. What was also appreciated was that, although this is the first book in the series, the story within is a complete story. So we’re not forced to read the next book for closure.
Score: Booktastic
What’s next? Spellslinger II: Shadowblack
Why I read it: I spotted this themed short-story collection in the library and picked it up.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: A series of short stories by different authors based in and around a futuristic Galactic Games.
Thoughts: What I liked most about this collection is that they explored all aspects of a event like this. From the event organisation, to the diplomatic or cultural fallout of game participation and outcomes. A good mirror held up to our own Earthly events enhancing the myriad issues and scandals that frequent them. With each story being different, this collection didn’t get tired by the end. I would say that George R. R. Martin’s story (the longest one here) was the weakest in that it got bogged down by describing the minutiae of a play in American Football. I’m not sporting and care little for football, American or otherwise and had no idea what half of the terms meant. The story resolution also didn’t make the drudgery of going through all that worthwhile. Otherwise a good collection.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read:
Why I read it: I enjoy the TV series and finally decided to give the source material a go. I still prefer the TV series.
Reading slot Killing time
What is it about?: During the Zombie Apocalypse, Rick and the other survivors are trying to make a life in the prison they’ve salvaged. Not everyone is happy, however.
Thoughts: For fans of the show, this book ends with a certain tank rolling up to the perimeter. After the hard reading of the previous two volumes, this book was a lot less stressful for the characters and the reader. It’s not that nothing happens in it, but it does give everyone a breather before it all kicks off again. Here we also lose another major character, further widening the gap between the books and the show. I’m beginning to get used to the black and white artwork so it doesn’t bother me as much.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Books 1-6
What’s next? Book 8, when I get hold of a copy.
Why I read it: My wife has most of the books and they were just sitting there minding their own business. So I decided to read them.
Reading slot TV tie-ins: Quantum Leap
What is it about?: Time-travelling body-swapper Sam Beckett leaps into a native American and a situation that means his friend Al Calavicci is now happily married.
Thoughts: This was quite a good character piece on Al, who doesn’t often get the spotlight in the series. I really felt his indecision in helping Sam knowing that by doing so, the beautiful woman he’s suddenly currently married to, will most likely revert to being a complete stranger to him. This leaves Sam to fend for himself as he has to completely wing it an alcoholic barman/handyman. The premise itself was pretty straightforward and cemented the series’ focus on even the tiniest of acts can have huge implications (however tenuous).
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Quantum Leap: Carny Knowledge; Knights Of The Morningstar; Prelude; Search And Rescue; Too Close For Comfort; The Wall
What’s next? Quantum Leap: Pulitzer
Why I read it: I’d read the First Fifteen Live of Harry August also by Claire North and Mort by Terry Pratchett which had a similar premise, so I picked this up from the library.
Reading slot Summer reading
What is it about?: Charlie is the harbinger of Death. He visits people all over the world, bringing them a specific gift and acts as a courtesy, or a warning, for who may follow after him.
Thoughts: This was more of a “thought piece” on Life and Death. It should have been a few pages long and have been a simple discussion of thoughts and ideas. This extremely boring and uninteresting book was 403 pages long, which was about 400 too many. Nothing really happens, then continues to go on happening. Charlie himself was rather unassuming (which made a fun subversion of expectations for the harbinger of Death…for about half a page), whose most interesting facet was that he liked collecting the football shirts of the local club teams. Woo. We do occasionally encounter the harbingers of Famine, War and Pestilence but not enough to bring the story into enjoyment. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett as well as Pratchett’s DEATH series of Discworld books handled this subject matter in a far more approachable and enjoyable way, with even more food for thought. Give this one a miss.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August
Why I read it: I’m reading through my entire Star Wars collection and recently picked this up.
Reading slot Star Wars Novels: Either filling gaps or rereads – Filling Gaps
What is it about?: The collection of e-short stories with the concluding novella chronicling the saga of a Sith force that crash lands on a populated planet with no technological materials.
Thoughts: I’d previously read the short stories online, so was eager to reread them and then finish off the story with the novella. When read in one go, the time jumps between stories can be a little jarring, particularly since the first three stories follow straight on from one another. Then there’s a generational jump and also a jump of 100 years. Some of the characters obviously get bumped off during the stories, but with the bigger jumps the subsequent story features all-new characters, being the descendants of the previous. In all there’s about 1,000 years spanned. This was not a problem, per say, but it’s worth noting. Unlike other Sith-focused stories where the main characters are particularly unlikable to horrendous, the characters in this book were much more relatable and even likeable. I could understand the plight of the Sith as they struggle to survive with little to know hope of reaching space again. The family dynamics weren’t just hate-filled scheming nests of distrust, but also had cohesion.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Many many many many many Star Wars books.
What’s next? The Clone Wars: Wild Space

There ya go, how did you go?
Here’s my TBR for August.