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May 2020 Wrap-Up

I managed to finish 13 titles this month.
So, what were they, and what did I think of them?
Oh, and here’s my vlog of the same if you’re not up for reading:

Why I read it: Because I’m trying to read all of my many, many Star Wars books.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Star Wars Novels: Progressing chronologically
What is it about?: The planet of Adumar regard pilots above anything else, so it’s left to Wedge Antillies and his Rogue Squadron to win their favour. Unfortunately, he finds himself competing against representatives of the Empire.
Thoughts: This is not the first Star Wars or even X-Wing story that has the Republic compete against the Empire to curry favour with a third party. However, this time round there is far more going on besides the straight up ‘competition’. The ‘big reveal’ is kind of spoiled in the blurb at the back of the book, which is a shame. Being the ninth X-Wing book, the blurb really didn’t need too much ‘intrigue’ to get fans of the series to read it.
This had a nice progression of Wedge’s character, particularly as he works things out in his personal life (specifically by having a personal life and being more than just a pilot).
I also enjoyed the focus of the story which dealt with vastly differing cultures clashing leaving the New Republic representatives having to make a choice between adhering to their own sensibilities or revoking them to gain more favour than the Empire’s representatives.
I was greatly impressed that the nine books in and the series hasn’t gotten stale. The action is exciting, the characters are well-developed and the story isn’t always that predictable.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: 240+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy
Why I read it: Because these are great
Reading slot 3 graphic novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Lots of short stories based on the Star Wars universe.
Thoughts: Puzzle Piece
What?: Mace Windu tries to broker peace between two warring factions.
When?: Before the Clone Wars
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was a fun little story that has a punchline.
The Secret Of Tet-Ami
What?: Mace Windu checks out an archaeological site before it’s revealed to the galaxy.
When?: Before the Clone Wars
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This was a fun self-fulfilling story that covers an aspect never before seen in the Star Wars universe.
Survivor
What?: A criminal this he’s safe but an unstoppable assailant is approaching.
When?: Before the Clone Wars
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A nice showcase for how ruthless and dangerous a Jedi can be.
Stone
What?: Padawan Mace Windu acquires his purple crystal for his lightsaber.
When?: Before the Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Though not the official origin of the purple crystals, this was still a fun tale.
The Sith in the Shadow
What?: Mace Windu gives his padawan a chance to prove himself.
When?: Before the Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A nice expansion on the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke goes into the cave on Dagobah.
Children Of The Force
What?: Not everyone feels honoured to have their gifted children brought into the Jedi fold.
When?: Before the Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This is a nice exploration behind the Jedi’s ‘right’ to take babies strong in the force and the repercussions that this can have.
Apocalypse Endor
What?: A retired stormtrooper defends himself when asked why the Stormtroopers were no match against a bunch of Ewoks.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: I loved this one. It’s easy to forget that those little furballs were planning on eating Han and Luke and were far more than little cutie things.
The Emperor’s Court
What?: In the style of a live TV court, the Emperor oversees the trial of Han Solo for the killing of Greedo.
When?: After A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This was very silly and a lot of fun. Lots of things to look for in the crowds as well.
Urchins
What?: Anakin Skywalker and his fellow slaves unintentionally help Watto out of a financial bind.
When?: Before the Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Another story with a punchline.
Tides of Terror
What?: Aayla Secura and Kit Fisto investigate a deadly toxin let loose in Tapoca City.
When?: After Attack of the Clones
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Brilliantly illustrated and exciting. This also shows a few things about these Jedi we haven’t seen before. Great stuff.
The Lesson
What?: A padawan struggles to understand the Jedi way of paying with one’s life in order to safe the life of another.
When?: During Attack Of The Clones
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: An interesting view on self-sacrifice.
Smuggler’s Blues
What?: Han and Chewie turn down a succession of potential passengers before an old man and a kid change his life forever.
When?: A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A nice little precursor to the events in the film.
Mythology
What?: Qui-Gon Jinn tells Obi-Wan Kenobi a story about twin Jedi whose fates are used as a lesson about attachment.
When?: Before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Quite a lengthy story for what it is.
Sandstorm
What?: A young Luke, fed up of being stuck of the farm, attempts to run away but is caught in a sandstorm. An unexpected figure keeps him company.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A gentle story with some touching scenes.
First Impressions
What?: Bail Organa takes his adopted daughter Leia to meet the Emperor
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: It’s great seeing some of Leia’s life as an Alderaanean princess.
Falling Star
What?: Luke and Biggs buy a ticket on a ship for a jaunt into space. It doesn’t go well.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: yes
Thoughts: More great stuff of Luke’s younger life.
Do or Do Not
What?: Luke comes to terms being the last Jedi in the galaxy.
When?: Just after Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Some great insight into Luke’s thoughts and feelings about creating a new order of Jedi.
Slippery Slope
What?: A droid bounty hunter finds Luke and Yoda of Dagobah.
When?: During the Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: More Jedi stuff.
Lucky Stars
What?: Leia Organa join an all-female task force to liberate a data cube off of a broker.
When?: During the Rebellion
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A nice little heist story featuring women with big chests.
The Other
What?: Leia has her reasons for not wanting to learn the Jedi ways.
When?: After Return Of The Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A sequel to the excellent Princess Leia Diaries, this gives further character development to Leia.
Best Birthday Ever
What?: Bib Fortuna presents Jabba the Hutt with a new creature for his pit.
When?: Before Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A silly version of the acquisition of the Rancor. Probably a little bit more interesting than an accurate account.
The Long, Bad Day
What?: Obi-Wan’s force ghost taunts Vader after the destruction of the Death Star
When?: After A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: I loved this funny take on what happened to Vader after being flung off into space in his ship.
Kessel Run
What?: Han Solo does the Kessel Run, but not that one.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Using an interesting art style, this story gives its own interpretation as to how Han did the Kessel Run in less than 12 Parsecs. Really quite daft, but fun.
Lunch Break
What?: Two stormtroopers peruse Darth Vader’s diary.
When?: During the Empire
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Very comic strip in nature, this was fun, if pointless.
Heart Of Darkness
What?: A young Jedi attempts to defeat a member of the Sith by themselves.
When?: During the Old Republic
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A thrilling story following a young member of Yoda’s species. It was nice seeing something based during the time of the Old Republic. Good stuff.

All in all a great selection of stories, set throughout the Star Wars universe. A real mix of themes, characters, setting and artwork.

Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 240+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales volume 5
Why I read it: I’ve been curious about this one for some time now. Picked it up a year or so ago. Finally gotten around to reading it.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: Everyone over the age of 14 has become disease-riddled child-eating morons leaving the children in a post-apocalyptic world struggling to survive.
Thoughts: This is grim. Classed as a YA, I would stress that this is directed towards the older end of that category. This is a cross between Gone by Michael Grant and The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. Whereas Gone has a content caution at the back and The Walking Dead is a de facto Zombie story, this book has no such indication as to its content. The level of body horror is quite high here, particularly as it includes young children.
The story itself played out pretty much how a zombie apocalypse story usually does with no real surprises. Yes, key figures are bumped off but this is not a new thing either. It’s more luck of the draw if your favourite character gets through the next chapter or not.
The story starts several months into the apocalypse, so there is a little bit of finding out more about what happened and what is still happening.
The characters themselves were believable enough. Yes the children are young, but it’s well-known that even young children grow up fast in a crisis.
At the end of the book there are still plenty of unanswered questions which does give me some incentive to continue with the series.
Overall, despite the somewhat formulaic zombie approach, this had some interesting concepts and did enjoy it quite a bit even if some scenes are quite disturbing.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? June’s book of the month

Why I read it: It’s next on my Star Wars pile
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Star Wars Novels: Progressing chronologically
What is it about?: Leia and Han’s three children are kidnapped by a sinister force.
Thoughts: This was a well-executed three-pronged story following Leia in her quest for her children, Han and Luke in their quest for Jedi and the children in their captivity. Early on, I found the character jumps a little annoying, but as I was well invested in all three storylines I was always eager to find out what happens next with whomever the story jumped to.
It was also nice meeting Jaina and Jacen for the first time as independent characters and not just infant children.
The only let-down was the final showdown which did become a little pseudo sci-fi bonkers where it was a little unclear just what was going on.
A strong story that did things a little bit differently.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 240+ other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy
Why I read it: My wife has a large collection of Doctor Who books. I thought I’d read them.
Reading slot
Active TBR Cycle: Wife’s book collection: Doctor Who
What is it about?: Still travelling on his own, the 10th Doctor finds himself in the company of bounty hunters who are hunting Daleks.
Thoughts: This really felt like a 10th Doctor story and fitted well with what had been established in the show. The characters of the bounty hunters were very well developed, even for those who didn’t last very long. Thinking back, I really felt as if I had watched this and not read it as there some impressively realised settings. One of the better Doctor Who books and one of the better Dalek stories.
My only gripe was the resolution at the end, but it was fundamentally Doctor Who so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 40+ other Doctor Who titles.
What’s next? Doctor Who: The Coming Of The Terraphiles
Why I read it: Because I really, really wanted to.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Tom Sharpe
What is it about?: Set during Apartheid a white British lady murders her black cook on her front lawn. The corrupt and incompetent Kommandant van Heerdan attempts to hush the whole thing up, but the murderer isn’t going to stay silent.
Thoughts: This is the third time I’ve read this and it just keeps on getting both funnier and more relevant. This book could be dismissed as a racist lampoon of Apartheid but under the surface is a complex and ruthless honesty about the attitudes that allowed Apartheid to happen and continue for as long as it did. This is a merciless satire also full of the usual side-splitting farcical events that had me laughing out loud on several occasions and nodding in agreement at others.
Crude and rude and not for the easily offended, this is one of the best satires I have ever read.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Ancestral Vices; The Great Pursuit; Indecent Exposure; Porterhouse Blue; The Throwback; Vintage Stuff; Wilt; The Wilt Alternative; Wilt On High
What’s next? The Throwback
Why I read it: This was a birthday present so I read it.
Reading slot Reading to: my wife
What is it about?: One day, inexplicable a girl starts sleepwalking. She is soon joined by others as they make their way across America. Meanwhile a deathly pandemic threatens mankind.
Thoughts: Probably not the best thing to read while under lockdown during a global pandemic… but then I didn’t know what this was about when I started reading it in December and there was no pandemic then either. It’s now May and I’ve finally finished this monster, and we’re still in lockdown (I read this aloud to my wife who kept falling asleep which is why it has taken so long).
Not the escapism I would have hoped for but deeply insightful particularly where the parallels between the book and the real world were concerned.
I enjoyed most of the main characters, though Matthew and his family were irritating and Pete was tonally different from everything else.
There was one scene that was particularly harrowing to read aloud and both of us were affected by it, but this story felt very, very real despite the science fiction elements.
Although this didn’t exactly end on a cliff-hanger, the story did stop abruptly and we could have done with a couple more chapters to assimilate what happened in the last one.
A very satisfying and thought-provoking read of a future that just might happen…
Score: Buy it
What’s next? The Seventh Kenning II: A Blight Of Blackwings
Why I read it: I enjoy what I’ve seen of Michael McIntyre’s routine, and picked this book up for free.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Jar Of Mystery
What is it about?: Michael McIntyre
Thoughts: This was an enjoyable and raw account of Michael’s family, his early life and his journey into married life and being a stand-up comedian. Filled with many examples of his type of observational humour this is a funny read, but with a fair share of tragedy – this is real life after all. The high’s and lows are told without overplaying the harp strings and wallowing in self-pity or self-indulgence. No family is normal and Michael’s is certainly no different.
The book is a little unbalanced with most of his life taking up the first three quarters of the book and his life in comedy and trying to make it in the final quarter. There are some gags in here, but this is first and foremost his story and not a joke book. Each quarter of the book also sports a collection of some glossy photos from his life up to the time of writing with some funny comments.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? No idea, that’s why it’s called the Jar Of Mystery
Why I read it: I’ve been reading all the horror in the house, including this lot.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: Paul is shipped off to a boarding school where he learns that his new teacher is a monster who will eat the worst performing student in her class.
Thoughts: I’ve become somewhat jaded with this series which has provided more misses than hits, so it was a nice change to have a well-structured story with enough going on in it’s slim volume to keep me guessing. From the class’s palpable fear as they knuckle down to try to out-perform each other, to the deliberate acts of sabotage to their projects, this was an engaging read. Okay, the adults were just as moronic as usual but there was a welcome lack of the token bully. The ending was somewhat daft but in keeping with the series as a whole. The final twist was actually quite apt, if predictable.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 30+ other Goosebumps titles.
What’s next? Goosebumps Series 2000 IV: Invasion Of The Body Squeezers Part 1
Why I read it: It’s the last Goosebumps in the house.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: Flying saucer obsessive Jack is the first to spot the oncoming alien invasion, but no one will believe him.
Thoughts: This was horrendous. Messily paced and with the main character acting so insanely deluded the entire time (with a history of such behaviour) that it’s no wonder he’s never believed. The fact that his parents seem to barely own two brain cells to rub together and his younger sister is a distracting waste of space added nothing to the tension but everything to the aggravation of reading this book.
Upon the conclusion of the book, which ended with a “To Be Concluded…” tag line, no invasion had happened, nothing was revealed about what body squeezers are and the tension is so non-existent I don’t even care to seek out Part 2.
Score: Boring: just plain dull
I’ve also read: 30+ other Goosebumps titles.
What’s next? Point Horror VI: Trick or Treat
Why I read it: Because it’s a great series.
Reading slot 3 graphic novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: A series of short stories about the characters of Star Wars
Thoughts: Planet of the Dead
What?: Han and Chewie land on a planet where they are haunted by the dead.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A nice ghost story that hits the usual ghost story beats.
All For You
What?: A group of farmers gain possession of a Jedi holocron but dispute what to do about it.
When?: During the Sith War
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Reminded me of the graphic novel Jedi vs. Sith with its art style and violence.
Phantom Menaces
What?: Luke is attacked by a holographic Darth Maul
When?: During the New Republic
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Another story dealing with the possible resurrection of Darth Maul. This one does it a little differently.
Ghosts of Hoth
What?: While working on the Millennium Falcon in Echo Base, Chewbacca is haunted by ghosts leading him to discover a nearby Wampa cave
When?: Before the Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: In an early draft of the film there was an entire sub-plot involving wampas in Echo Base. This story is inspired by that. Another standard ghost story.
The Apprentice
What?: A Sith lord’s apprentice finds his position put into question when he rescues a slave.
When?: During the Old Republic
Could be Canon?: Yes (confirmed)
Thoughts: A small story with a lot going on. Great stuff.
Dark Journey
What?: A Jedi in on the trail of a serial killer.
When?: During the Clone Wars
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Tonally very different from everything else in the Tales stories so far, this is dark and grim with an art style to match. Great stuff.
Number Two In The Galaxy
What?: A rival bounty hunter attempts to take Boba Fett’s gear and take his place in the number one spot.
When?: During the Empire or New Republic
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: The phrase ” you’re nothing without the suit you shouldn’t have it” comes to mind.
Payback
What?: Boba Fett is given another assignment that isn’t what it seems.
When?: During the Empire or New Republic
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Just how badass is Boba Fett? This badass, that’s how. Great artwork!
Being Boba Fett
What?: Boba Fett deals with the fact that every time he looks in the mirror he sees his father’s face.
When?: During the Empire or New Republic
Could be Canon?: Yes (confirmed)
Thoughts: An aspect of Boba Fett I’ve not seen explored anywhere else. Nice.
The Way Of The Warrior
What?: A young Boba Fett goes on his first hunt with his father.
When?: Before Attack Of The Clones
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A nice story showing a father-son bonding in the only way Mandalorians can.
Revenants
What?: Han Solo is hunted by Boba Fett who keeps coming no matter what Han throws at him.
When?: After Return of The Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes (confirmed)
Thoughts: Nice and action-packed that puts Han’s and Boba’s relationship on a whole new level. Fantastic!
Collapsing New Empires
What?: Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie and the droids encounter a sinister force in space.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Some cool ideas here with a good story.
The Value of Proper Intelligence to Any Successful Military Campaign is Not to Be Underestimated
What?: An Imperial force lays claim to a planet inhabited by diminutive farmers.
When?: During the Empire
Could be Canon?: Yes (confirmed)
Thoughts: A short, two-page story that’s brilliantly illustrated and funny.
Rather Darkness Visible
What?: Two Jedi discover and undercover cloning facility.
When?: The Clone Wars
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Another short adventure of the Clone Wars. It was okay, but with unknown Jedi the outcome was pretty much expected.
The Rebel Club
What?: A parody of The Breakfast Club, Star Wars style.
When?: During the Rebellion
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This is a bizarre choice of parody, but a lot of fun and some appropriate artwork.
The Lost Lightsaber
What?: This is the story of Luke’s lightsaber after he loses it on Bespin
When?: After The Empire Strikes back and beyond
Could be Canon?: No – see the Thrawn trilogy
Thoughts: This is a nice alternative timeline for Anakin’s lightsaber that far surpasses that rubbish that Disney spewed out. I particularly like who turns up to claim it.
Into the Great Unknown
What?: Han and Chewie crash land on Earth.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This was a lot of fun. Topped off by another Harrison Ford character turning up years later to investigate the mysterious ruins guarded by a sasquatch.
Storyteller
What?: Two members of a race being racially cleansed by a rival race (resembling stormtroopers) escape and find the remains of C-3PO who tells them an ancient story of a great rebellion.
When?: A long time after Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A grim and violent setting coupled with the feeling of a great passage of time sees the end of things, and a new beginning. This is perhaps where Disney should have based their new stories on.
George R. Binks
What?: Jar Jar Binks’ long-suffering father belatedly finds out why it’s not a good idea to bring his idiot son whaling.
When?: Before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Done in the style and era of Moby Dick this story plays on the idiocy of Jar Jar Binks’ character. Silly, yet pointless.
Who’s Your Daddy
What?: Darth Vader prepares to meet his son for the first time.
When?: During the Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Done in the style of a comic strip, this joke is far too long for what it is.
Fred Jawa
What?: Some moisture farmers find they may be saved from Jawa ‘bargains’ when a Jawa solicitor appears to betray his kind.
When?: Anytime
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Full of amusing gags and artwork, this was a lot of fun.
Luke Skywalker: Detective
What?: Luke’s framed for murdering a rival.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: An odd story for Luke that would have better suited a freshly invented character. The story was okay though.
Hunger Pains
What?: A wampa strives to feed his children
When?: The Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A retelling of Luke’s wampa encounter from the point of view of the wampa.
Failing Up With Jar Jar Binks
What?: Now as a senator, the incompetent and idiotic Jar Jar Binks causes chaos in the galaxy.
When?: Revenge Of The Sith
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Though partially responsible for Palpatine’s emergency powers, this overly-caricatured portrayal is just over-the-top.
Nobody’s Perfect
What?: Anakin admits to his fiancé some of his other atrocities.
When?: Attack Of The Clones
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This is a fun continuation on Padme’s nonplussed response to Anakan’s admission that he slaughtered an entire tribe of Sandpeople.
Problem Solvers
What?: Han and Threepio are left in charge of fixing some of the New Republic’s problems, with disastrous results.
When?: After Return Of The Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Another daft story taking certain character aspects to the extreme. This one was so ridiculous, it forgot to be funny.
Melvin Fett
What?: Boba Fett’s cousin is a dim-wit.
When?: Whenever
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Just dumb
Young Lando Calrissian
What?: Lando poses as a Jedi to gain a reward for ridding a tribal village from the terrors of a rancor.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Lando’s always pulling some scam, and this one is entirely plausible, even if the Jedi were pretty much extinct at this time. A fun story though.
Final thoughts: This volume was more of a mixed bag with a lot more sub-standard stories than in previous volumes. There are still plenty of good nuggets in here, but they overshadowed by the weaker stories.
Score: Buy it (for completeness sake)
I’ve also read: 240+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales Volume VI
Why I read it: Finally fished the not very good Goosebumps series. Hoping for something better now.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: Martha moves into a creepy old house with her dad and her new stepmother and step brother. It’s not long before she’s psychologically attacked by a sinister force.
Thoughts: This is my first Point Horror experience and it was an enjoyable one.
The big annoyance for me was the criminally neglectful parents who, the day after moving in and pretty much introducing step brother and sister before, swan off to Hawaii for several weeks. Martha had already provided enough concerning behaviour regarding the whole situation and the anxiety the new house was giving her to at least have her dad address these issues. But no, off they go leaving two hormonally charged and unrelated teenagers alone in a spooky house in the middle of nowhere.
Apart from that, I found the story flowed pretty nicely. The character of Martha was not great but then she did spend most of the time being scared witless and possibly suffering from anorexia (seriously, she barely eats). Her stepbrother Conor was deliberately kept as an unknown factor to increase tension, but it did become a little ridiculous.
The horror ‘tropes’ quickly revealed the true nature of the evil leading to a final confrontation which did ramp up the tension very effectively. The big reveal at the end was a bit Scooby Doo with a motivation that was just plain nuts.
In the end, I found there was enough in here to keep me engaged with some good scenes.
Score: Worth reading
What’s next? Point Horror IV: My Secret Admirer
Why I read it: I’ve been impressed by Bob Shaw time and time again. Hoping this sequel lives up to what I’ve come to expect.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Sci-Fi by Author
What is it about?: 200 years after the discovery of the mysterious dyson sphere nicknamed Orbitsville, life on Earth has drastically changed.
Thoughts: The first book covered the discovery and some of the exploration of Orbitsville. This book returns the focus to Earth 200 years later when most of the population have emigrated to Orbitsville and is a detective story, of sorts, where a man tries to find the man who wiped the minds of his wife and son.
Although I was looking forward to learning more about Orbitsville itself, I enjoyed the story on Earth. The story moved along nicely and had some interesting developments. I found the plight of a man looking after a wife and son who have no idea who he is and been reduced to mental infancy deeply impactful.
The final events had that typical sci-fi style ending, but it worked for the most part.
All in all, a pretty decent follow up to book 1.
Score: Buy It
I’ve also read: The Ceres Solution; Killer Planet; Medusa’s Children; Night Walk; Orbitsville; Ship Of Strangers; The Two-Timers; Who Goes Here; Wreath Of Stars
What’s next?

Not a bad month, in other words.
So, what’s coming up in June?

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April 2020 Wrap-Up

I managed to finish 13 titles this month.
So, what were they, and what did I think of them?
Oh, and here’s my vlog of the same if you’re not up for reading:

Why I read it: I’ve been reading through my Star Wars graphic novel collection, I’ve got to here…
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Set early during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, some of the outermost planets are attacked by the Yuuzhan Vong; one of them home to the royal Galfridian family, who are more than meets the eye.
Thoughts: This first volume sees the Galfridian family being split up with the king left defending his home planet, his son attending the new Jedi Academy and his wife and daughter being captured by the Yuushan Vong – bad news for the Yuuzhan Vong. There’s minor supporting roles for the main Star Wars characters but the focus of the story is very much on the Galfridians.
I enjoyed the portrayal of the Yuuzhan Vong as the almost unstoppable menace sweeping mercilessly across the galaxy. The Galfridian family were an idea accompaniment to this story where each family member brought their own significant contribution to the narration. There is a constant sense of urgency as mass exodus away from the fighting rapidly loses the little time left. Prince Finn, had an interesting enough story regarding his Jedi training, but his sister Kaye completely subverts expectations and is seriously bad-ass.
The artwork was pretty gritty and when not featuring any of the screen characters was pretty good. Unfortunately the depictions of known faces was pretty weak – I only knew Luke was Luke because other characters referred to him as such.
A great start to a series that has left me wanting more.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 220+ other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Invasion II: Rescues
Why I read it: Because book 1 was so good!
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: The Yuuzhan Vong have started their invasion and people have been taken. A rescue attempt is made to retrieve them while Finn attempts to rescue his father from betrayal.
Thoughts: In this volume we see the Galfridian ladies turn the tables on the Yuuzhan Vong and seek to rescue their people in an epic and harrowing battle. Kaye goes goes from strength to strength and her mother also proves there’s more to her than meets the eye. The story following Finn was less interesting in a lot of ways, we’ve seen young Jedi coming to terms with what they can do and getting control (or not) over their emotions before.
The artwork was consistent with the previous volume and it’s style fitted with the alien Yuuzhan Vong.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 220+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Invasion III: Revelations
Why I read it: I’ve just blitzed my way through the first two books of the series, seems daft not to to finish it.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: The Yuuzhan Invasion on the galaxy is picking up pace but convincing the New Republic officials that there is really a threat is not as easy as it should be. It is also revealed that the refugees have be given ‘safe harbour’ by the Empire.
Thoughts: This series started with a big bang and the momentum has not slowed down. As the title suggests, there are certain revelations brought to light, some we had already learned but we witness the characters leaning them, and others are revealed to us as well. Once again Kay Galfridian character crushes it with some awesome, and completely unexpected, scenes.
I particularly liked the role reversal of the Empire and the New Republic in that members of the Empire were more sympathetic to the plight of the refugees than members of the New Republic. The New Republic/Empire/Pirates joining forces against the Yuuzhan Vong was particularly epic.
My only issue with this volume is that there is no volume 4. There is definitely more to be told in this series that I know is not covered in the New Jedi Order novels. There are certain things that happened here that I feel need further extrapolation. However, as this is all there is, this was a very enjoyable and solid trilogy.
The artwork has remained consistent throughout all three volumes and fits the theme nicely.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 200+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales Volume 1
Why I read it: It was a gift, it would be rude not to.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: In a world very similar to The Lord of The RingsMiddle Earth property is being bought out and occupied by humans from Earth, meanwhile the Goblin King wonders why there are no female goblins.
Thoughts: This was a very clever and silly twist on The Lord of the Rings where it does help to have a reasonable working knowledge of the books or the films as many of the aspects, creatures and objects feature here in some form. Although being a parody, this is very much its own story with its own plot and lead characters. The story also subverts a lots of the tropes it lampshades making for a refreshing read.
There is a large build-up to the plot actually making itself known, the first chunk of the book is largely a series of things happening and it’s not until much later that these things become relevant to each other. I didn’t mind this as I was enjoying the humour of it all.
A lot of fun ideas and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Snow White and the Seven Samurai
What’s next? May’s book of the month

What?: Devaronian mercenary Vilmarh Grahrk acquires 3 pit droids and a passenger with an extreme case of duel personalities.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Another fun and enjoyable Villie story. Always worth reading his adventures.
Final Thoughts: Although has a few ‘duds’ in this volume, the good and great stories make this another excellent addition to the series.

Final thoughts: Another great collection of Star Wars stories including some of my favourites.

Why I read it: It’s a new acquisition I’ve yet to read, doing that now.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: A newly discovered seasoning excites the taste-buds so well, they bring the taster into a permanent state of bliss. R2-D2 and C-3PO find themselves between two factions wanting control of this substance.
Thoughts: This actually had some pretty good concepts, stuff I’ve seen elsewhere, but not with the focus that this story has. For a ‘simplistic’ Droids story, this was a lot deeper than I’d anticipated. Some interesting, if predictable, twist and turns along the way, this is one of the better Droids stories I have read.
The artwork was pretty good for a Boxtree though one character is discoloured in two panels where they’re inexplicably green.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 220+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Chewbacca
Why I read it: It’s next on the list to read…
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: At the start of the Yuuzhan Vong War, Chewbacca tragically is killed saving the lives of children. R2-D2 and C-3PO record the thoughts and memories of Chewbacca from those that knew him best.
Thoughts: This is more like a series of short stories, each one giving an account of Chewbacca. From his life on Kashyyyk, his rescue from slavery by Han Solo and his actions during and after the Rebellion, this paints a lovingly crafted picture about the least vocal of the on-screen characters. Told from both familiar and unfamiliar faces from the established canon and Expanded Universe, these accounts get harder to read as they get closer to Han’s story. This was quite moving stuff by the end. That this volume has an introduction written by the now-departed Peter Mayhew only made it all the more poignant.
The artwork is vibrant and full of life.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 220+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Infinities: A New Hope
Why I read it: It’s next on my list
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: This story explores the Star Wars story answering the question: What if Luke’s proton torpedoes failed to blow up the Death Star?
Thoughts: This was absolutely amazing and I’m ashamed of myself for having left it so long to read. Despite being titled: A New Hope this does a very quickly flash forward to the Death Star trench and the failed attack run. The remains of the tale is a reworking of the next to films but going down the other trouser leg of time. There were a lot of the familiar beats from the films, but all with a different feel and outcome to them. I would say the final showdown in this one surpasses the one on screen. So epic in scope and a really fun thought exercise.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 220+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back
Why I read it: Because I just have to
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: This story explores the Star Wars story answering the question: What if Luke died in the snow on Hoth?
Thoughts: Unlike the Infinities: A New Hope story, this one focuses entirely on The Empire Strikes Back/i> and how the different beginning could affect the rest of the episode. This again was a very clever look at an alternate sequence of events, thanks to one fairly significant change. A lot of fun and nicely thought out. It does end rather abruptly though.
The artwork was also pretty good.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 220+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Infinities: Return Of The Jedi
Why I read it: Because it’s there
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: A collection of short stories spanning the pre-Disney era Star Wars Universe featuring events that both canonically fit and other that most certainly do not.
Thoughts: Extinction
What?: Darth Vader hunts down the Dark Woman.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was an interesting example of Vader’s dedication to wipe out the order to which Anankin was once a proud member. Although the outcome was inevitable, it was well told.
Life, Death, And The Living Force
What?: Obi-Wan learns some lessons about the living force from Qui-Gon Jinn
When?: Before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: In interesting art style and a nice examination of Obi-Wan’s dislike of ‘lesser beings’.
Skippy The Jedi Droid:
What?: R5-D4 (the red one) turns out to have Jedi powers.
When?: Before and during A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This was a fun take on why R5-D4 spontaneously blew its motivator.
Mara Jade: A Night On The Town:
What?: Mare Jade goes on a missing
When?: Sometime during the Empire
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was a good mini story following Mara Jade as she does what she does best.
Routine:
What?: A patrol keeps stopping Han Solo but can not find any evidence of his smuggling.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This is more like a joke being told, but was enjoyable enough.
Incident At Horn Station:
What?: A no-named figure rolls into a town suffering under a criminal organisation.
When?: Anytime
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This is very much a Spaghetti Western, Star Wars style. Good stuff.
Stop That Jawa:
What?: Max Rebo and his band have their musical instruments stolen.
When?: Before Return Of The Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts:A silly adventure much lighter in tone than most of the stories in this book.
The Death Of Captain Tarpals:
What?: Jar Jar Binks gets banished.
When?: Just before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Paints Jar Jar Binks is a much more sympathetic light and shares a friendship with Tarpals.
Deal With A Demon:
What?: Devaronian mercenary Vilmarh Grahrk takes on a job and does it in his own indomitable way.
When?: Sometime around the Clone Wars
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Another fun Villie adventure.
Lady Luck:
What?: Lando plays a game of Sabacc that could win him an impressive prize: Cloud City
When?: Before The Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was an unnecessary ‘origin story’ but was nice to read.
Three Against The Galaxy:
What?: Three unlikely beings team up to right some wrongs.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A fun extra adventure featuring none of the major characters from anything.
Moment Of Doubt:
What?: An assassin posing as a bounty hunter attempts to kill Darth Vader.
When?: During The Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: An explosive altercation between two skilled combatants.
A Death Star Is Born:
What?: The Emperor questions Bevel Lemelisk about the design of the Death Star
When?: After Revenge Of The Sith
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This is an anachronistic and silly sketch that is so much fun.
Spare Parts:
What?: R2-D2 and C-3PO attempt to escape from their Jawa Captives
When?: During A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A very short and silly story.
Sandblasted:
What?: A trio of thugs fall foul of an experimental Imperial war droid.
When?: During the Empire.
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was a brilliant action piece.
Final thoughts: A fantastic collection of fun and interesting stories.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: 230+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales: Volume 2
Why I read it: Because it’s there
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: A collection of short stories spanning the pre-Disney era Star Wars Universe featuring events that both canonically fit and other that most certainly do not.
Thoughts: Yaddle’s Tale:
What?: A bit of back story for the non-Yoda Yoda-like Jedi.
When?: Before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A nice fleshing out of a non-speaking character who just sat there in the Jedi Council.
What They Called Me:
What?: A rich fool goes camping on Endor.
When?: Anytime
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Silly and pointless.
A Summer’s Dream:
What?: A young lad falls for Padme Amidala before she becomes Queen.
When?: Before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A tale of duty before love with an ending that doesn’t go anywhere.
Hoth:
What?: A Wampa on the hunt bags an unexpected prize.
When?: During the Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Very short, visually pleasing.
Lando’s Comandos: On Eagles’ Wings:
What?: Lando Calrissian is given a task force and goes on a mission.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was a standard tale of intrigue and betrayal. Hit all the right notes, though.
The Hovel On Terk Street:
What?: Greedo is given a bounty.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A nice bit of back story for a minor character.
A Hot Time In The Cold Town Tonite:
What?: Max Reebo and band go to perform for a rival Hutt.
When?: Before Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Another pointless but mildly entertaining tale featuring the band.
Fortune, Fate, And The Natural History of The Sarlacc:
What?: A victim of the salacc pledges revenge upon Boba Fett who put him there.
When?: Before Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This is beautifully illustrated and is more of a natural history of the salacc.
Junkheap Hero:
What?: R2-D2 and C-3PO are targeted as a means to get close to the Rebellion
When?: A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Nothing special.
The Hidden:
What?: A probe droid on Dagobah finds Yoda
When?: Before the Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Interesting art style but a simple story.
Thank The Maker:
What?: Darth Vader is reunited with C-3PO
When?: During The Empire Strikes Back
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A wonderfully crafted story tying the little boy on Tatooine with great aspirations to the Dark Lord of the Sith as he contemplates the blasted remains of the droid he built.
Single Cell
What?: An incarcerated prisoner recounts how he came to be there.
When?: The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Great illustrations with a nice twist to the tale.
Nerf Herder:
What?: Just what is a Nerf Herder?
When?: Anytime
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A fun story that emerged from an insult.
Jedi Chef:
What?: A Jedi master faces off against a droid chef in a Star Wars version of Iron Chef
When?: Before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A humorous cooking competition.
Outbid But Never Outgunned:
What?: Boba Fett is on another job.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Great illustrations and an exciting story with a heart-warming conclusion.
Force Fiction:
What?: Yoda and Mace Windu discuss Anakin Skywalker
When?: Before Attack of the Clones
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: An anachronistic spot-the-cameo take on a discussion that Mace and Yoda may have had. With a bit of Pulp Fiction in there too. Brilliant!
Captain Threepio:
What?: C-3PO has tactical behaviour installed to help pilot a ship out of harm’s way.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: An interesting idea that is never seen implemented in the films.
The One That Got Away:
What?: A Twi’lek recounts her experience of being Jabba the Hutt’s dancer.
When?: Before Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Very simplistic artwork telling a not terribly interesting tale.
The Secret Tales Of Luke’s Hand:
What?: Han Solo tells a bedtime story to his son about Luke’s missing hand.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A silly story told by Han revisiting the original trilogy but with Luke’s hand as the hero. Great stuff.
Death Star Pirates:
What?: Pirates attack the Millennium Falcon
When?: After A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Very odd artwork that takes away from a by-the-numbers story.
Bad Business:
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 230+ other Star Wars Titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales: Volume 3
Why I read it: I enjoy the short story format.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Short Story Collections
What is it about?: 26 short stories from the science fiction genre written by the grandparents of science fiction.
Thoughts: This was an excellent collection of 26 stories covering almost all aspects of the science fiction genre. I had previously read several before from other anthologies and collections but there was also a good number of stories I’ve not come across.
I feel that most of the stories have weathered the test of time well, which is impressive considering they were all written before the moon landing of 1969 and they convey the social attitudes of the times they were written.
As these were voted as the best by the best, I did enjoy most of them, though there were a couple of stories I did thing that much of. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t get them or they just didn’t appeal.
Of the lot, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keys stood out the most to me. It was one I hadn’t read before and I found it really impacted me as the low IQ main character was given an intelligence boost. They way he ‘woke up’ to how he had been treated as a simpleton and how people’s attitude towards him changed as his intelligence matched and then surpassed others. What was particularly harrowing was the realisation that the effects would wear off, followed by the actual degradation back to his original self. Written as a series of journal entries by this individual, it was fascinating to see the evolution of his writings, thoughts and observations. Algernon was the name of the laboratory mouse he was tested against. It is stories like this that makes science fiction the essential genre it is.
This collection promised the best science fiction stories of that era and it didn’t disappoint.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? #####
Why I read it: Because it’s the next book on the list…
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: More short stories set in and around the six Star Wars films.
Thoughts: Resurrection
What?: Darth Vader ends up in a battle against Darth Maul
When?: During the Empire
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This is fan service, pure and simple. Loved it.
Hate Leads To Lollipops
What?: A very young Maul goes on the rampage before ending up under the charge of Senator Palpatine
When?: Before the Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: A rather pointless story that doesn’t fit any canon of Darth Maul’s origin. A silly set up to a punch-line.
The Rebel Four
What?: Four rebellious heroes do battle against the evil Empire
When?: During the Empire
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This was a fun twist on a traditional Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic. Each of the four heroes have direct comparisons to the four members of the Fantastic Four. Shame the story didn’t really do anything.
Trooper
What?: A stormtrooper gives his life story.
When?: Leading up to and including A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was a really interesting exploration of the life and times of a stormtrooper. Nicely illustrated too.
Skreej
What?: Tamtel Skreej is on the hunt for the man who stole his armour.
When?: Before Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Lando Calrissian did take on the persona of Tamtel Skreej, but this story is just a bit of fun by inventing this diminutive version of Lando.
Nameless
What?: Darth Maul has to change his combat methods to defeat a Jedi he was sent to kill.
When?: Before The Phantom Menace
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: The odd artwork strangely enhances the corrupting nature of the dark side as Maul gets his butt kicked by a Jedi with a piece of wood.
A Wookiee Scorned
What?: As Han and Leia begin their relationship, Chewbacca finds himself as the third wheel.
When?: After Return Of The Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: With a Manga-like art style, this was a fun story warning of the dangers of forgetting about your Wookiee pal.
Free Memory
What?: C-3PO tries to get R2-D2 to free up some memory.
When?: After Return Of The Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was quite a moving story where R2-D2 shows lots of hidden personal moments from the Rebellion.
Prey
What?: Boba Fett is tasked with capturing Han Solo after he goes AWOL from the Empire.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Unlikely
Thoughts: Worth it just for the lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Boba Fett.
In The Beginning
What?: Lando Calrissian plays a game of Sabacc that sees the change in ownership of a particular starship.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A fun little look at a famous game of sabacc with an interesting viewpoint.
The Princess Leia Diaries
What?: A young Leia writes in her diary her experiences of growing up as an Alderaanean Princess.
When?: Between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was a beautiful look at the life and times of Leia on Alderaan with her loving adopted father. Witty and insightful this delightfully fleshes out the girl who would one day lead the New Republic.
Tall Tales
What?: A bunch of beings swap exaggerated tales about the Rebellion’s heroes.
When?: After Return Of The Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: Although I saw the twist coming, this was a lot of fun seeing how factual events can easily be slewed by the ill-informed or malicious.
Ghost
What?: A young Han Solo goes exploring for treasure, but instead finds an ageing Quinlan Vos in hiding.
When?: Before A New Hope
Could be Canon?: Confirmed not, but could be.
Thoughts: Another fan service story where two characters from the two trilogies meet. Brilliantly drawn and enjoyable.
A Day In The Life
What?: Wedge Antillies gets his own story as a day in the life of an X-wing pilot.
When?: After Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: A simple tale that showcases what it’s like to be a leader of pilots with short life-expediencies.
A Jedi’s Weapon
What?: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker visit a dignitary where Anakin’s lightsaber is stolen.
When?: Before Attack of the Clones
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: More insight into the character of Anakin Skywalker and how much he relies on himself.
The Revenge Of Tag & Bink
What?: Tag & Bink get a mini adventure involving the salacc and Boba Fett
When?: During Return of the Jedi
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: Just plain fun.
Once Bitten
What?: Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Han Solo about a time when he and Qui-Gon Jinn encountered fallen Jedi Aurra Sing.
When?: During A New Hope
Could be Canon?: No
Thoughts: This was a nice action-packed Jedi combat story. I liked it.
The Duty
What?: While padawans are escaping Darth Vader, a lone Jedi finds he is not sufficient to withstand the power and devious corruptibility of the Dark Side.
When?: After Revenge of the Sith.
Could be Canon?: Yes
Thoughts: This was quite a disturbing story ending on a real downer.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 230 plus other Star Wars books.
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales: Volume 2
Why I read it: I enjoyed the other book in the series so had great anticipation for this one.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Star Wars Novels: Either filling gaps or rereads – Filling Gaps
What is it about?: Ahsoka Tano and her task force attempt to retrieve a Republic Agent from a planet in the middle of a revolution.
Thoughts: Unlike book 1, this is much more The Clone Wars what with the Clones and Battle Droids duffing each other up. However, this is far deeper than a mindless explosion-fest as it explores the reasons and pitfalls for the Jedi Order’s aversion for personal attachments. Jedi and non-Jedi alike find themselves dealing with the repercussions of having a loved one in their lives.
The action wasn’t overly dramatic, but there was sufficient to keep things exciting.
There were many interesting characters here who, unfortunately, eclipse Ahsoka Tan, who I forgot was even in some scenes.
An enjoyable adventure which delivered a bit more than the front cover would suggest.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 230+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: The Last Jedi (no, not the book of the atrocious Disney movie)

Not a bad month, in other words.
So, what’s coming up in May?

0

March 2020 Wrap-Up

I managed to finish 10 titles this month.
So, what were they, and what did I think of them?
Oh, and here’s my vlog of the same if you’re not up for reading:

Why I read it: I’ve reread the four Red Dwarf novels and two of the three Rob Grant novels. Last one to go now.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Red Dwarf and Related
What is it about?: After hundreds of years of travel, a colony ship starts suffering from catastrophic failures. Unfortunately for the crew, the head in a jar they revived to help them had not only been mislabelled, but was a stowaway, impersonating another member of the crew.
Thoughts: Having reread Fat, Incompetence and now Colony, this was the story I recalled the least. It’s not just some similarities with Red Dwarf, but it’s also the shortest book. I did enjoy the story, but it is largely throwaway. There was one scene which had me laughing out loud but much of the humour was drowned out by the frustrations of Eddie, the main character and the fact he’s surrounded by a selection of extremely unlikable individuals.
The story it self was okay, though took a while to find it’s feet. The ending fell into the pseudo-science mumbo jumbo trap that a lot of science fiction falls into. It also just ends. The big reveal happens and, that’s it. Could have done with some character resolutions or something, I feel like there were a couple of story lines that could have been finalised.
All in all, it was a fun enough story that didn’t quite meet its potential.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers; Backwards; Better Than Life. Fat; Incompetence
What’s next? Honor Harrington I: On Basilisk Station
Why I read it: Love the first two books of the series and was given this one. Had to read it
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: After running away from home, getting caught up with pirates and setting of the Readjustment, the Ness sisters now set their sights to find answers about the Occupations and Quions once and for all.
Thoughts: Revenger was such a refreshing take on the space pirate yarn and had a lot to live up for. Shadow Captain was enjoyable, but did fall short of the first book. Thankfully, I can say that Bone Silence reaches the pinnacle set by Revenger. Once again, I felt like a bystander to a conversation I missed the beginning of and only have half an idea what is going on. This universe is already established with its rules and peoples and ways of talking and there’s little effort to bring the reader up to speed. I really enjoyed that aspect where, rather that being spoon-fed everything, I got to use my brain to work things out for myself. It also fits in with the story where the characters are basically using ancient technologies they have no understanding of beyond how to use them. There is also the added realism where some things are never explained and some questions are left unanswered, particularly in regards to the poisoned skull. Yes, I would have liked to have known more, but sometimes there are things that are just never found out.
In keeping with the series, named characters aren’t all that safe so it’s advisable to not get too attached… I’ll not say more about that one.
The story itself flowed really well with some surprising, and not so surprising twists along the way. It’s ending certainly closes the trilogy, but not necessarily the story. There are some pretty major things left unanswered and there area allusions to possibly exploring them in the future.
For now though, it finishes off a pretty solid trilogy which could be viewed as one book spit into three manageble chunks (with this being the largest of the three).
In summary, if you didn’t like Revenger or Shadow Captain you’re not going to like this one, what are you even doing reading it? If you did enjoy them, then there’s a good chance you’ll get a similar level of enjoyment out of this one.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Revenger; Bone Silence; Revelation Space; Aurora Rising; Elysium Fire; Beyond The Aquila Rift; The Medusa Chronicles (with Arthur C. Clarke)
What’s next? April’s book of the month…

Why I read it: It’s the last one of the series. Might as well finish it off…
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Concerned for his survival under the scrutiny of Ysanne Isard, acting Emperor Sate Pestage tries to make a deal with the Alliance.
Thoughts: Finally the series has developed a better continuity between books. The pilots and characters involved are the same for the rest of the series, makes life a lot easier.
There’s some intrigue regarding the loyalty of Soontir Fel, and interesting relationship developing between two species who habitually despise each other and a case of mistaken identity. There’s quite a lot packed into this volume which, I feel, largely pays off.
I had fun reading this one and found the artwork to be on par with the series as a whole.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Lots and lots of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron: Mandatory Retirement
Why I read it: Because it’s the next one in the series.
Reading slot Reading to: my oldest son
What is it about?: Animal collectors Hal & Roger are still in Africa where their new focus is on acquiring elephants, but are they up to the challenge?
Thoughts: I read this 30 years ago and there was a certain scene from this story that has stuck with me ever since. Reading this again that scene is no less harrowing. The rest of the series does have its moments, but nothing quite like this. That being said, this was an interesting exploration of the legendary Mountains of the Moon, a region in Africa where the flora and fauna grow to many times their normal size. In excitement, I looked this marvellous place up… no, it’s only a story.
The story itself flowed okay with a frustrating feeling overshadowing the adventure as the boys fail at every turn.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that was written ‘of a time’ when attitudes were very different, so it’s worth bearing that in mind when reading this series.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: African Adventure; Amazon Adventure; Arctic Adventure; Diving Adventure; Lion Adventure; Safari Adventure; South Sea Adventure; Underwater Adventure; Volcano Adventure; Whale Adventure
What’s next? Safari Adventure
Why I read it: I’ve read a couple of other books by this author and enjoyed them.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Faith-based fiction
What is it about?: Reed and Beck go camping in the woods are attacked by something in the dark and Beck is taken. Furthermore, not only is death stalking the woods, but somebody is deliberately covering its tracks.
Thoughts: This was actually quite an enjoyable thriller that, as a piece of Christian fiction, is almost indistinguishable from standard fiction. Even in normal fiction the characters often have faith, which makes up part of their characterisation. The same is true here, where the plot and the characters drive the story forward, not the fact that so-and-so believes such-and-such. It’s there, but not in the beating you over the head with it way and no more than in other books.
The story itself largely revolves around the search for Beck and the creature that took her. It’s established pretty quickly what took her, but the remains a mystery as to why and why the killings have taken place. In regards to the ongoing mystery, there is a subplot which sees a character go on a separate investigation that for the longest time seems to be completely separate from the main story as to barely seem relevant. Thankfully the storylines to eventually converge in a satisfactory way (though, for a while I feared it was going to go down differently) by it did take a while to get there.
The story also is broken up into small sections as we jump from between Reed and Beck and a few other characters. A gimmick meant to make the story flow faster and more dynamically that I saw through pretty quickly. Though this is not a slow burn, there is no ongoing tension – there are moments, but nothing lasting. The finale was quite exciting but over very quickly.
Score: Worth Reading
I’ve also read: The Oath; House (With Ted Dekker)
What’s next? Darkness 1: This Present Darkness
Why I read it: I’ve been ploughing my way through my X-wing graphic novel collection, this is the last one.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: The late Emperor’s confidant Sate Pastage has found it dangerous filling his former master’s boots and wants to do a deal with the New Republic. How far is he, and they, prepared to go to ensure his survival?
Thoughts: Unlike the rest of the series, this story takes place straight after the last book, with bruises still in place making for some nice continuity. The story in this one really did take second place to the characters and their relationships to one another. Filled with likeable characters and starfighter action, this was a pretty good conclusions to the graphic novel series with some impactful scenes.
The artwork was okay, not the best but good enough to show who’s who.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 220+ Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Dark Empire
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?: Stanley Ipkis buys a mask for Kathy, his girlfriend. He soon discovers that putting the mask on transforms him into an indestructible being who can do almost anything. Unfortunately, Stanley’s motives are far from good.
Thoughts: If you’re only familiar with the Jim Carrey film or the TV spin-off (both based off of this volume), the content of this book may be a bit of a shock. It’s very violent and bloody as the Mask does battle against the police and mafia. Despite that, it’s nice to see a lot of the origins that the screened material used, albeit with more fatal outcomes: the balloon Tommy gun sceen, the visit to the crooked garage, the characters of Stanley Ipkis and Lieutenant Kellaway and for fans of the TV show, the silent, hulking Walter. The violence may be high, but it is offset by the low amount of gore and the Mask’s zany quips, jokes and observations, making for a highly entertaining mix of action and humour.
My only issue with this concept is how cavalier everyone else takes the fact that ‘Big Head’ as they call him is indestructible and can seemingly conjure any weapon into existence, but I suppose that’s pretty standard for comic books.
The artwork is clear and vibrant and the action is beautifully kinetic.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Mask Returns; The Mask Strikes Back
What’s next? The Mask Returns
Why I read it: I’d just reread book 1 and loving it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: The mask falls into the hands of Pedro and very low-ranked member of the mafia who uses his newly acquired powers to try to take control of it all.
Thoughts: I read and owned this one long before I got hold of book one and, with a few exceptions, stands very well on its own. The violence is slightly less than in book one, but does have a couple of moments. The surviving characters from book 1 are back and doing their best to stop the carnage. Although there’s nothing from the Jim Carrey film to relate to, this is still full of great one-liners and visuals and beautifully and vibrantly illustrated.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Mask; The Mask Strikes Back
What’s next? The Mask Strikes Back
Why I read it: Whizzed through books 1 & 2 and book 3 is just sat there looking at me.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: A group of four friends discover the mask and each takes a turn to try it out. However, the ever-returning Walter becomes an obstacle that even the Mask can’t seem to overcome.
Thoughts: This is a bit of an odd one from the series. It directly follows on from the events of the first two books and often refers to scenes from both of them, but is also very much its own story, or rather, collection of four short stories. With the exception of the police and Walter chasing the Mask, each embodiment of the Mask has its own spin as each of the friends attempts to get the Mask to do their bidding. Tonally, this is much lighter than the previous stories with significantly less blood and death. There’s one scene with Walter and some nails which feels very much out of place in this volume and adds nothing to the story.
Still vibrantly and gloriously illustrated, this is a somewhat pointless addition to the series but is still a lot of fun.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Mask; The Mask Returns
Why I read it: I’ve finally summoned up the gumption to do so.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Luke is taken by the dark side where its revealed that a once-vanquished foe is as strong and dangerous as ever.
Thoughts: The story that the awful Disney trilogy should have done… oh wait, they did, but mangled it horribly. Luke’s development as a Jedi is greatly explored here where he makes some significant realisations about the Force. It was also great seeing Leia’s developing Jedi powers as well. Han also makes some critical developments regarding his ever-increasing involvement with the Force.
The story is well paced with a good feeling of impending doom making for some good tension, particularly when events delay the characters from thwarting that doom.
Unfortunately, this great story uses some dated story-telling techniques common to comics of the era, which can be forgiven. However, I cannot forgive the abysmal artwork which is pretty eye-searingly horrendous all the way through, from the badly rendered characters to the vomit-inducing colour pallet. If ever there was a Star Wars story that needed a modernising facelift, Dark Empire is the one to have it, it’s got a great story hidden behind a garbage visage.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 220+ other Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Invasion I: Refugees

Not a bad month, in other words.
So, what’s coming up in April?

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February 2020 Books Read Wrap-Up

I managed to finish three titles this month.
So, what were they, and what did I think of them?
Oh, and here’s my vlog of the same if you’re not up for reading:

Why I read it: Because I have four of these left to read and I want to get that done this month.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: With the Empire shattered, the various factions are competing to see who will become the new Emperor. The Rogues find themselves facing off against the superior pilot of the name Baron Soontir Fel.
Thoughts: This story features a lot of political infighting and almost generic space battles as a result. I’m not entirely convinced the two story-lines merged all that well. The way the story was told meant that this was to be revalationary towards the end of the book, but it was pretty obvious early on.
There’s some new pilots, some of which are non-human making them easier to identify, which was nice. The characterisation of the pilots was a little skewed, with some getting much more coverage than others. In one pivotal battle one of the Rogues is killed and their name is called out. I had no idea who that was so flipped back through the pages to find out. After being introduced they’re just ‘there,’ and get one spoken line. So there was no emotional weight behind that death.
Because I’d read one of the later books before, I already knew about the big twist at the end, which was a shame but I can’t blame this book for that. As a twist, it’s quite a good one and in keeping with the Star Wars style twist.
The artwork was okay with it being pretty good for the aliens, locations and vehicles but the human’s faces were a little off.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Over 210 Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron VII: Blood And Honour
Why I read it: Because I haven’t and I have it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Feared Imperial pilot Baron Soontir Fel has been captured by the Rebellion. This is his story.
Thoughts: This story is actually split into 2 halves: Fel’s tale and the Mission. Fel’s tale is told during his debriefing and chronicles his life from just before joining the Imperial Academy to his capture by the Rebels. This gives a geat insight into how a good man can become fervently loyal to an evil regime and how, even when his comrades mutiny and join the Rebellion, he remains steadfast in his belife in the Empire. Eventually, however, even he can no longer remain blind to the cracks in his beloved regime and finds he must make some difficult choices.
I really enjoyed this telling and the artwork was pretty good too.
The second half follow a Rebel mission to rescue Fel’s wife before news of his capture reaches the Empire. What follows is a somewhat confusing and convoluted series of events that are punctuated by some cartoonish humour. I wasn’t a great fan of this half, particularly as it has a jarringly different artwork compared to the first half. It does introduce Corran Horn, though, so it was nice to see him.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Lots and lots of Star Wars books.
What’s next? Star Wars: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron VIII: Masquerade
Why I read it: Because I really wanted to.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: A man is driven to find out what happened to an ancient extinct alien civilisation and if they fate is destined for humanity.
Thoughts: This is the sixth Alastair Reynolds I have read and by far the hardest one to read. The dense and often technical text spanning nearly 600 pages has taken me most of the month to digest. Normally a half-hour reading session can see me through 50+ pages. With this I barely managed 20. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. I’ve already experienced the Revelation Space universe through the two Prefect Dreyfus prequel stories as well as some of the short stories, but even then, I wasn’t prepared for how complete this first book is. All the factions and historical events are already there so I was glad to have eased myself gradually into this. There’s not much I can say without giving away major plot details but this book does far more than the blurb on the back hints at.
Not that the first half was boring, but I certainly found the second half much easier to get through as it’s coalesced the story threads at this point and the twists and revelations start coming.
Weirdly, the final third of the books transcends the genre of the previous two-thirds with a really unsettling full-blown space horror section then a journey into the unknown stint.
The ending can be very easily compared to Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t consider that a spoiler, but something that should be known before going into this book. If you didn’t like or understand how Odyssey ended, be prepared to suffer the same here. Or, if you liked it, then you should be fine with it.
In terms of length, I would say that there’s a whole two segments (the two periods of captivity) in the first half of the book that could have been removed and the book wouldn’t be any worse off without them. They were fine for what they were, but added nothing to the story and delayed the point when the story picked up for me.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Aurora Rising; Elysium Fire; Beyond The Aquila Rift; Revenger; Shadow Captain
What’s next? Revenger III: Bone Silence

So a pretty slow month, this month. Most of it taken up reading Revelation Space.
Let’s see if I can do better in March

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January 2020 Books Read Wrap-Up

I managed to finish nine titles this month.
So, what were they, and what did I think of them?
Oh, and here’s my vlog of the same if you’re not up for reading:

Why I read it: I’ve been reading through by graphic novel collection, this is where I’ve got to.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Rogue Squadron investigate a suspicious craft on a world inhabited by a savage race. There they discover that all is not as it seems and the supposedly mindless beasts are organised and on the attack.
Thoughts: This was quite a bit different from the other books in this series and I welcomed the change. The ever-shifting dynamic of the group has make the pilots slightly less interesting as their relationship dynamics are always in flux. It also doesn’t help that the look of some of the recurring characters also changes a bit from book to book. Despite all that, this was a pretty good story with a nice twist of the Force.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 200+ Star Wars books & 2 Disney Star Wars books
What’s next? Star Wars: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron: In The Empire’s Service
Why I read it: I thought I’d reread this series.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Left Behind
What is it about?: The second coming has been and gone and the new believers face an increasingly hostile world. On top of that, further supernatural judgements are invoked on the survivors.
Thoughts: This 12 book series (16, if you include the prequels and sequel) paints an interesting view on the end times. There is a certain level of artistic licence being demonstrated on one interpretation of the biblical references to the future. As a faith-based series, this is best suited to those already with the Christian Faith as I can’t see this either appealing to nor likely to influence (or ‘convert’) non-Christians. They’re also likely to anger many groups of people from all walks of life.
Now that’s out of the way, this particular volume nears the halfway mark of the series and is largely full of padding. Not much of note happens except for a lot of unnecessary angst and detailed minutia of every-day life. The titular even finally takes place near the end, which did have a notable few scenes. There were a couple of other good moments, but they were few and far between.
I recall enjoying this book a lot better the last time I read it. On a reread, I would say it’s should have been titled: Faffing about.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: All the Left Behind series excepting Kingdom Come
What’s next? Left Behind VI: Assassins
Why I read it: I’ve gotten a steadily pile of unread Aliens books I really need to get around to reading.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: A criminal organisation use a secret planet to manufacture drugs while using a hoard of xenomorphs as guard dogs. Due to his brother’s shady dealings a pilot is forced to fill in for a pick up – but there are others, waiting in the sidelines to strike at the right opportunity.
Thoughts: The thing with Aliens stories is that they are all pretty samey to a degree. A bunch of 2d characters get quickly whittled down to the last few ‘heroes’. To that end, this story is no different. Unfortunately, in an effort to make the characters a little more flesh out, they’re all drug-addicted or emotionally damaged losers. All apart from the pilot, Tommy, who spends the whole tale brooding/sulking about the mess his brother has gotten him into. Needless to say, when it all finally hits the fan (180 pages in with not much in the way of build-up), I just didn’t care about what happened to any of them. The focus was mainly on three characters so all the rest were barely a feature.
Simply another retreading of the Aliens formula, but this time with no one to root for.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: Aliens: Bug Hunt; Cauldron; Earth Hive; The Female War; Genocide; The Labyrinth; Life And Death; Music Of The Spears; Nightmare Asylum; Superman Aliens; DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics Aliens
Aliens Vs. Predator: The Rage War Trilogy; Prey; Hunter’s Planet; War
What’s next? February’s Book Of The Month
Why I read it: This is one I’ve picked up recently and so had to read it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Mara Jade, the Emperor’s enforcer, is tasked with the job of eliminating a leader of a criminal organisation.
Thoughts: This was a good character piece on Mara Jade, a character whose usual appearance in the Star Wars series is all about hating Luke and wanting to kill Luke. This was a refreshing change from that and it showed how efficient, resourceful and dangerous she can be (when not trying to kill Luke). This was quite a long story for a graphic novel, but it had a lot to say and showed quite a lot of the character of Mara Jade the person as opposed to Mara Jade the weapon. Although the story doesn’t really affect the main story-line, it does touch upon several aspects of the films and Expanded Universe which gave it an authentic feel. In the end, it was an enjoyable tale of a strong, lightsaber-wielding female just trying to find her place in the galaxy… another thing Disney have stolen and butchered horribly.
The artwork was okay, nothing particularly special but didn’t hurt the eyes either.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Load of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron: In The Empire’s Service (it’s in the post)
Why I read it: Because book 1 was so good, I wanted more.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Sci-Fi by Author
What is it about?: In mammoth legend is the story of Longtusk, a hero of the species. This is his story.
Thoughts: Once again Stephen Baxter has surprised me with this delightful and moving tale about a woolly mammoth. Longtusk was mentioned many times in the previous book (set thousands of years after this one) with great reverence, so it was nice to find out more about this great beast. They say you should never meet your heroes, and Longtusk is certainly nothing particularly special despite sporting an impressive pair of tusks. However, he is able to draw upon the experiences of his life to make some life-or-death decisions for his clan thereby ensuring their future.
I enjoyed the characters surrounding Longtusk, particularly Willow and Crocus and the story arc of the three came to an emotional climax that reached me more than I was prepared for.
Oh, and be prepared to read about dung a lot.
Bring on book 3!
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Mammoth: Silverhair/Manifold: Time; Space; Origin; Phase Space/The Medusa Chronicles/NASA: Voyage/The Time Machine: The Time Ships/A Time Odyssey: Sunstorm; Time’s Eye/The War Of The Worlds: The Massacre Of Mankind
What’s next? Mammoth III: Icebones
Why I read it: Anotther newly acquired graphic novel, so gotta read it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: An imperial soldier is sent to a planet to investigate the imperial governor there on suspicion of corruption.
Thoughts: As this was an older Boxtree publication I must confess I wasn’t expecting anything special. In my experience a lot of the old Boxtrees are quite dated now and very simple. I’m pleased to say this is not the case here. There are certain factors that date it a little, but the compelling story really surprised me. Although the story arc the main character goes on has been done before, and was pretty predictable, it was enjoyable to follow. Things such as watching a devoted imperial seeing just how common people suffer at the hands of his beloved Empire and having to make some tough internal choices, never gets old. Most of the characters were pretty good, though there were a couple who made some really insane choices that came out of the left field.
The artwork was a little basic and there were a couple of scenes set in heavy snow fall that you’d only know it was snowing because the characters were pointing out how difficult it was to see due to the snow falling despite been drawn in clear snow-free air. A minor complaint, but very noticable.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Was books
What’s next? Star Wars: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron: In The Empire’s Service
Why I read it: Because I’ve enjoyed the Tim Lebbon books I’ve read so far.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: A woman searches for her missing boyfriend into the murky underworld of the relic trade. There she discovers that the relics her boyfriend was dealing with came from impossible creatures, and were still fresh.
Thoughts: Another urban fantasy to add to my repertoire, with this being the darkest so far. That is saying a lot considering the others weren’t exactly light and fluffy. This one dangles the mystery and intrigue for a good part of the book, give little titbits here and there to keep the suspense. When the revelation is revealed the story quickly morphs from a mystery to an adventure steeped in gore and impressive set-pieces. My favourite character was the gangster Fat Frederick who had so many layers to him that, despite his ruthless and dark reputation, I found myself really rooting for him to survive the book.
I enjoyed this so much, I’ve already started on book 2: The Folded Land.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Aliens: The Rage War Trilogy; The Cabin In The Woods; The Silence
What’s next? Relics II: The Folded Land
Why I read it: Beacuse I enjoy Minecraft and this was on sale in Waterstone’s
Reading slot Killing time
What is it about?: This is a personal style account (either in-universe or as a player) of exploring all the current biomes.
Thoughts: This is a gorgeous book. Each double page ‘map’ is fully illustrated – no screen shots here – and depicts each biome in their full glory along with a build idea that fits in with that biome. Following each of these pages is a closer look at some of the unique elements and beneficial resources from the related biome and more about the build idea.
There is also a Where’s Wally? aspect where each biome has a given number of hostile mobs, and spotting them all isn’t always that easy.
That being said, this book is little more than a collection of pretty pictures. There’s not a lot of reading to be had. This is literally just the maps and what can be found there. No crafting, combat or strategies, but then those are covered in other books or just a Google search away.
I think I may have been slightly disappointed with this if I had paid full price for it. However, I picked it up half price from Waterstones so have no complaints.
Score: Worth reading (or buy it at discount)
I’ve also read: Minecraft: Blockopedia; The Official Minecraft Combat Handbook
Why I read it: Because I enjoyed book 1 so much and spotted book 2 in the library.
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: There’s a serial killer targeting the Kin and Angela’s niece is struck by lightning, twice.
Thoughts: Although it was great to have a continuation of the story, what made the first book so good was the mystery and suspense of the unknown. By this time, the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, and none of the mystery remains. Even the serial killer is revealed to the reader early on and it’s simply a case of watching the various story threads merge. I did enjoy the story, even though the characters were less well defined and simply more reactive to the situations they found themselves in.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Relics; Alien Vs. Predator: The Rage War Trilogy; The Cabin In The Woods; The Silence

Quite a successful month, in other words.
So, what’s up for the month of February?

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December 2019 Books Read Wrap-Up

This month I took part in the 2019 Blogmas where we tried to blog every day December. In doing so, I wrote more comprehensive reviews for the books I read.
Here are the links to those reviews:
Book Review The Tomb Of Hercules by Andy McDermott
Book Review: DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics: Aliens
Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks
Book Review: Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
Book Review: The Dresden Files 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

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Reading Goals for 2020

For my final #Blogmas 2019 I’ll look ahead to see what I want to do for 2020.

1. Number of books to be read:
I’m going to go for 130 books. I’m just over 120 for this year but there is an extra day so…

2. Specific books to read:
I will definitely be reading book 9 of the Expanse by James S. A. Corey when it comes out. Beyond that, I’m quite keen on rereading the four books of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding and possibly the TimeRiders series by Ales Rider. I’d also like to read more of the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy.

3. Any other book goals.
Only that if I’m not enjoying a book that I have the gumption to give it up and not waste any more time on it.

Happy reading in 2020!

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Why I Reread Books

The other day for #Blogmas 2019 I provided an explanation for sidelining my TBR pile for library books. Another hinderance to my TBR is that about a third of the books I read are rereads of books I’ve read previously. With so many unread books out there, why, oh why, do I do such a thing?

At last count, we have in excess of 5,000 books in our house. Now part of the appeal of owning such a large number of books is the insulation and that they look really nice. Another part is that if ever I want to read one of them, I simply need to pick it up and read it. Now, we don’t just keep any book, but only those we enjoyed reading (having a nice cover helps too). Due to the enjoyable nature of these books, it’s an inevitability that we’re going to reread them at some point.

Books are a look like movies. Some you can read, get all that you can (or think you can) get out of it and move on. The film The Sixth Sense, for example is a great film on the first watch, but is never as good again on subsequent watches. Others can be put back on the shelf and left for a few years. After sufficient time, rereading it again is almost the same as reading it for the first time. There are countless films that fall into this category.
Finally, there are the books that keep on giving every time they are read. For me it’s the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I’m forever rereading the series and always will. Why? The same reason why I watch Star Wars or The Matrix or Demolition Man even though I know each film frame by frame. I enjoy doing so. I have favourite scenes and bits of dialogue I enjoy rereading as much as I enjoy rewatching.]
Do I reread to justify our large book collection? Not really, I reread because I enjoy our large book collection.

Do you have a book or book series that you enjoy rereading? If so, what is it and how often do you reread it? If not, is there a particular reason why?

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My Best 10 Reads of 2019

For #blogmas 2019 I did My Worst 10 Reads of 2019 so feel free to go check that out if you want.
Here I’m going to list my favourite 10 reads of 2019 (not necessarily books published in 2019 just ones I’ve read). I’ll not count rereads (they’re already ones I like).
This is my personal list so don’t be surprised to see stuff you didn’t like.
For reference, here’s the link to my Goodreads books read 2019: Goodreads 2019

10. Wild Space by Karen Miller

When I sat down to read this, I’d had a certain level of low expectations. This is certainly a book that confirms the adage of not judging a book by its cover. Ignore the cover. Ignore the ‘Clone Wars’ logo. This was an insightful character piece on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa that really surprised me. Even though this lacked all of the usual pizzazz of Star Wars, this was really enjoyable.

9. Beyond The Aquila Rift by Alastair Reynolds

A faultless collection of intelligent and mind-expanding science fiction tales that were so easily readable and a pure joy to read.

8. Salamandastron by Brian Jacques

I enjoyed the first four books, but I did find them a little bit samey. This was a much better constructed tale with a lot going on but balanced wonderfully. A must for fans of anthropomorphic woodland animals.

7. After Atlas by Emma Newman

With book 1, Planetfall being on my worst reads of 2019, you may be surprised to see this on my best ten. Almost completely different to book 1 in every way, this police procedural is set in the future and was intelligently realised with a rich and technologically integrated world. Unfortunately, book 1 does need to be read to add some of the background.

6. The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding

If you’ve struggled to read The Lord of the Rings then may I recommend this masterfully written fantasy epic written for the modern reader. Still steeped in lore and adventure, this is a lot less stuffy and more relatable than some of the more popular established titles. Looking forward to book 2.

5. Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

Another police procedural set in the future, I had high hopes for this one having really enjoyed book 1 last year. Thankfully, this did not disappoint and delivered and really engaging and exciting tale set in a rich and vibrant world.

4. The Toll by Neil Shusterman

The third book in the brilliant Arc of a Scythe trilogy. I enjoyed every one of the books and was impressed with how this final tome was able to satisfactorily conclude the story. One of the best trilogies I have ever read.

3. The Martian by Andy Weir

I was a little late to the party on this one. Still yet to see the movie (I do want to). I always get a little suspicious of popular science fiction books, they’re usually not as good as everyone makes out. This was well-deserving of it’s praise, however. The lead character was extremely likable and the story was far more thrilling than I had expected.

2. Tiamat’s Wrath by James S. A. Corey

The penultimate book in one of the best series ever written (including the TV series in this). Chronicling mankind’s giant footstep to the stars filled with politics, factions, war, discovery and a mysterious alien threat.

1. Storm Front by Jim Butcher

I only read this a couple of days ago and was surprised to see this pop up on my top ten list. That it’s number one is a testament as to how much I enjoyed reading this film noir where the P.I. is a magician mystery investigation story. Wanna read the rest of the series now.

There you are. To be honest, these could have been in any order – it was hard enough whittling it down to just ten.
Did you agree with anything on my list – or are you hotly opposed to them?
Either way, I’d love to know in the comments section down below.
Happy reading!

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My Worst 10 Reads of 2019

As part of #Blogmas 2019 I thought I’d get in my Worst and <a href="My Best 10 Reads of 2019Best reads of 2019 over the next couple of days. I’m unlikely to read one in the next few days that’ll go on these lists.
This is my personal list that directly reflects my personal enjoyment (or lack of) in reading the following books. As such, this is in no way a reflection on you if your personal feelings towards any of these books differs from my own.
Oh, and these are the books I READ in 2019, not books published in 2019.

10. How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

This was the third book by Matt Haig that I had read (having immensely enjoyed the first two) but this really didn’t go anywhere. The plot, when it finally unfolded, was very thin and predictable. The premise was good but was executed much better in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t really do anything for me.

9. Planetfall by Emma Newman

I’d requested suggestions for some science fiction police procedural stories and book two of this series was recommended to me. I read it and did indeed enjoy it a lot. However, I was told that I had to read this book first. This I did and it irritated me a lot. There were some good aspects dealing with mental health, but that was about it. Unfortunately, this did have some relevance for book 2.

8. The Case-book of Sherlock by Arthur Conan Doyle

I’d been working my way through my wife’s Sherlock Holmes collection and found them to be pretty readable. This collection of his later ‘adventures’ read as though they were written by a totally different author. It didn’t help that Arthur Conan Doyle himself was fed up with his own creation by the time of writing.

7. alt.human by Keith Brooke

I found the premise of this one interesting and worth giving a go. Unfortunately, the story barely covered to concept of the blurb and became nothing special in a potentially rich and vibrant world that was barely given a chance to flesh out.

6. Torchwood: Rift War by Paul Grist

I was really excited to find this graphic novel promising extra stories from the golden age of Torchwood. I was therefore very disappointed in having to slug my way through a horrendously illustrated and overly convoluted story that made little sense. A real let down.

5. Fringe by Tom Mandrake

I was eager to try out this series X-Files-esk short stories. This graphic novel barely featured anything resembling a story or anything of any coherence. I thought it was because I wasn’t familiar with the show but, no they’re just bad.

4. Indiana Jones and the White Witch by Martin Caidin

This was supposed to be an exciting prequel adventure that fleshed out the character of Indiana Jones and it failed to do anything like any of that. A complete waste of time.

3. Bride Of The Living Dummy by R. L. Stein

There were a few Goosebumps titles I could have put on this list (Chicken Chicken could be counted as an honorary joint fifth place) but this was just awful. The atrocious parenting and unpleasant children made this story painful reading.

2. The Terranauts by T. C. Boyle

The front and back covers of this book advertise a whole host of qualities about this book. They suckered me into reading a story that featured exactly nothing. I really should have given this one up for the dead thing it resembled.

1. Star Wars: The Old Republic: Threat Of Peace by Rob Chestney

Supposedly tied in to the MMORPG this graphic novel is a complete mess. The horrendous illustrations convey nothing of use in tandem with a series of panels that seem to have little to nothing to do with those they sit adjacent to. I’ve yet to summon the effort to finish the series.

There you go, my worst 10 reads of 2019.
Do you agree with any of my choices here, or did you disagree with me and managed to find enjoyment where I could find none?
Either way, I’d love to see your top and bottom 10 reads of the year so do please let me know in the comments section down below.