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July 2019 Books Read Wrap-up

I managed to finish seven 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: It’s in my collection and I haven’t read it…
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Three tales: An Imperial officer on special assignment to Darth Vader; a deep cover Rebel operative tries to come home; Han & Chewie find themselves defending the Falcon. against a hostile takeover.
Thoughts: The first story follows an Imperial Officer who sees her advancement comes with the cost of going on special assignment to Darth Vader. There she witnesses things that change her forever, and leaves her haunted by Vader’s presence. This was well-drawn and showed the Empire from the point of view of a regular officer. There was a certainty that any officer in her position would likely not survive the ordeal. That she does, has given the interesting insight into how the Imperials view their own hierarchy.
The next story about a long-time deep-cover Rebel operative being hunted by IG-88 attempting to re-join the alliance was well plotted out and introduced a new and interesting character – only for the series to end and Disney to take over and ruin everything. I would have liked more.
The Free Comic Book day story was surprisingly fun for what it was, but very light. I enjoyed it, but it’s got no staying power.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 200+ other Star Wars books
What’s next? Star Wars: Crimson Empire
Why I read it: I love the films and also figured this was as good as any as an entrance into the Marvel novels.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: Someone has unleashed a hoard of adorable puppies on the city. It’s up to Deadpool to find them before they mutate into giant rampaging monsters.
Thoughts: This self-aware, 4th-wall-breaking adventure is pure silliness – and very enjoyable it was too. A lot tamer in tone than the films and comics, probably to bring it in line with the rest of the Marvel novel line, the merc with the mouth still motored on regardless. Told from Deadpool’s point of view, we get to see just what goes on in the thing he calls a brain. Amongst all his tangents and waffle, there is an actual plot here, which really feature second place to Deadpool’s ramblings. It was fun though, even if the finale was a little bit daft. I really had a blast with this one and am pleased to have read this one first.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Marvel: Runaways: Pride And Joy
What’s next? August’s Book of the Month

Why I read it: I recently picked it up cheap at my local comic book shop and want to read it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Imperial Royal Guard Kir Kinos seeks vengeance on those responsible for the final death of his Emperor.
Thoughts: This gives a great insight into the silent crimson figures that don’t do much on screen. What’s more is the potentially bland character of Kinos is well fleshed out and is a guy who could be routed for, even if he’s on the wrong side. A bit meatier than many graphic novels, this took its time to tell its compelling story and came to a satisfactory conclusion. Great stuff that fitted well into the Star Wars universe without getting bogged down having to include previously established characters. The artwork was pretty good too.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 200+ other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council Of Blood
Why I read it: I’ve already read the first two in the trilogy, it would be daft not to at this stage.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Inkworld
What is it about?: Mo can read characters out of stories and reality into them. Now that his family is living in the realm of Inkheart, he must take on the persona of the Blue Jay and end the tyranny of the immortal Adderhead.
Thoughts: This was a big book full of a lot of meandering scenes and subplots that makes the main story a long time coming. I enjoyed the richness of the world and how the ‘real’ characters attempt to alter a story that’s very much heading along its own direction. Certainly, the second half of the book is much stronger than the first with the majority of the action and excitement taking place there. I liked how the story finished, with just a tantalising glimpse of the possibility of more to come, but not necessarily needed..
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Inkheart; Inkspell
What’s next? Removing this reading slot.
Why I read it: New book, gotta read it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Kir Kanos continues is vendetta against those responsible for Palpatine’s final demise and a Hutt and Black Sun are also involved.
Thoughts: This was a lot more convoluted than the first book, but perhaps even more enjoyable because of it. At no point did all the little strands get confusing and each little story arc had its place. There were some great alien designs and an interesting final chapter in the life of the Empire. Great stuff that was well illustrated.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 200+ Star Wars titles
What’s next? Star Wars: Boba Fett: Bounty On Bar-Kooda
Why I read it: It’s Star Wars, it’s Boba Fett…
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Boba Fett is hired by a Hutt to capture the notorious pirate Bar-kooda.
Thoughts: Once I got passed the pretty diabolical artwork, this was a fun little story with a magic act thrown in… One of the “trick’s” appears to use a technology not otherwise seen in the entirety of the Star Wars universe, but never mind, chalk it up to “it’s all done by mirrors”. Bar-kooda himself is of pretty standard evil pirate fare and resembles a shark (he’s a Herglic for those of you who never thought to ask). As his quarry is not Han Solo, there was no doubt as to Boba’s success, but it was still satisfying when it happened.
After the story is a bonus Droids tale where the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO find themselves between general no-gooder Olag Greck and the droid bounty hunter IG-88. It’s okay and on par with the rest of the Droids title.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Boba Fett: Enemy Of The Empire
Why I read it: I’ve looked at this a few times in the library and finally decided to give it a go for some beach reading.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: After two years of competing, eight out of sixteen individuals get to step into E2, an experimental closed-system environment where they need to do all they can to survive for two years.
Thoughts: They say never judge a book by its cover, while this cover gives nothing the adage should also run to ‘never believe the quotes printed on the cover’. For example where it says “Lord of the Flies meets Hunger Games,” I can safely reassure you that this story has no relation to either title. Excitement? Thrills? Fight for survival? Humour? I’ll save you the bother of reading these 500+ dull pages to and tell you this story stocks none of these things.
The story cycles through three of these ‘Terranauts’ on their 2-year journey starting before the selection process and ending at the beginning of the next 2-year phase. Firstly there’s Dawn, who’s probably the more likable of the bunch but has almost no personality to speak of. Then there’s Ramsey, a complete jackass who has no good qualities at all, but is at least more charismatic than Dawn. Finally there’s Lindy. Bloody Linda. She’s the worst. A character so bad she didn’t even get into E2 but we get to see her point of view as a disgruntled asshole on the outside. I hated her third of the book more than the rest.
Oh yeah, there were 6 other characters in E2, but they’re mostly relegated to the background and were also not likable.
This story also promises satire and humour. I suppose this is a reasonably accurate satirical look on how such an enterprise would go down, but, like with the real world equivalent Big Brother was immensely boring and stocked with the worst that humanity has to offer.
This story was heavily influenced by the efforts of Biosphere 2 of 1991 to 1995 a real-world effort to house 8 people in a closed-system ecosphere for 2 years. Many of the events and pitfalls surrounding this enterprise has found their way into this book, making me wonder how this can be classified as science fiction, and not just fiction…
So, boring, not what was promised, terrible characters and just read the Wikipedia page on Biosphere 2.
Score: Toilet Paper

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

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Mid-Year Freak-Out Tag 2019

It’s that time of year again, and my third bash at this popular tag. I’m told this tag was originally done by ReadLikeWildfire and Earl Grey Books.
For reference, here are the 73 books I’ve read so far this year:

Rereads New Reads

To keep it fair, I’m only going to use books I read for the first time this year. If there’s a reread that I particularly want to jump up and down about, it’ll feature as a honorary mention to the question.
So, let’s get cracking:
Q1 The best book you’ve read so far this year:
A1
Of course it’s going to be the latest book from one of the best series out there. This was delayed for a few months but didn’t disappoint when I did get my hands on it. I love the scope of this and the complex, yet simple, characters too.
Q2 The best sequel you’ve read so far this year:
A2
Another highly anticipated book by an author I’ve only recently discovered. I thought book 1 was fantastic and couldn’t wait for a sequel. Though not as good as book 1, this was extremely enjoyable and imaginative with the possibility of more to come.
Q3 A new release you haven’t read yet, but want to:
A3 Jack West Junior: The Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly.
Q4 The most anticipated release for the second half of the year:
A4 I don’t have my ear that close to the ground, so I’m not aware that there’s anything upcoming this year that I’m looking forward to. I know there’s book 10 of TimeRiders by Alex Scarrow in the works, but don’t know when that’s due to come out. Also the final Expanst book by James S. A. Corey, but that’s not due until next year. The second book of the Seventh Kennings by Kevin Hearn would be nice, but don’t know when as well as book 3 of the Revenger series by Alastair Reynolds. So, plenty of stuff, but not for a while yet.
Q5 Your biggest disappointment:
A5
This has dated badly and has no characters with any individuality beyond the surface baddy/goodie.
Q6 Your biggest surprise:
A6
I was expecting a run-of-the-mill Star Wars yarn involving Clone Troopers. This was nothing like I was expecting at all, and was surprisingly excellent.
Q7 Your favourite new author, either debut novel or new to you:
A7
Karen Miller, author of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space. Would like to see what else she has done.
Q8 Your newest fictional crush:
A8
Fen. The damaged, I’m-not-going-to-depend-on-anybody-ever archer and freedom fighter. She needs a hug… on her terms, of course.
Q9 Your newest favourite character:
A9
Grub. As much as he’s portrayed as unpleasant and uncouth, you can’t help but enjoy every scene he’s in.
Q10 The book that made you cry:
A10
None made my cry, but these two did become difficult to read aloud from time to time.
Q11 A book that made you happy:
A11
I think there’s something about classic sci-fi that gives me a sense of comfort and joy. It also helps if it’s well-written and good.
Q12 The best book to film adaptation:
A12 Alita Battle Angel. I’ve not seen many films so far this year and this was the first and best so far. I did enjoy Endgame a lot, but it has 20+ films behind it and Alita came from nowhere. I don’t know anything about the source material, so I can’t even be disappointed by changes made. Honorable mention also goes to Good Omens, as a fantastic adaptation to TV.
Q13 The most beautiful book bought/given to you:
A13
Q14 The best review or video you’ve done so far:
A14 Somehow, I’ve only done 3 book review videos this year. Revenger: Shadow Captain is the earliest and has the most success with 20 views and 3 likes. My all-time most successful book review (and video) is Predator: If it Bleeds with 253 views, 6 likes and 1 dislike. Most successful video of the year so far is Sorcerer Unboxing with 54 views and 1 like. This was preceded accidentally with the full unedited version which I took down once I discovered my shocking error. A shoutout, if I may, to Strike Back Videoathon Day 6: Book-related merch as being my least successful to date with all of 1 view. The least successful this year is for my book review on Planetfall by Emma Newman which only has 4 views at time of writing this.
Q15 Books you have to read by the end of the year:
A15 Planetfall: Beyond Atlas by Emma Newman; Jack West Junior: The Four Legendary Kingdoms & The The Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly; Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman.

I hope you enjoyed that. If you want to give this a go, I tag you.
Oh, and here#s my VLOG of the same:

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June 2019 Books Read Wrap-Up

I managed to finish 12 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 recently read the first five books of the series, makes sense to finish it off.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: After the defeat of the Sith and Exar Kun, Ulic-Qel Droma, now cut-off from the Force, seeks exile to atone for his part in the war and his brother’s death. His solitude is short-lived however, for Vima Sunrider, daughter to Nomi Sunrider, the new Grand Master of the Jedi Order, seeks him out to train her in the ways of the Jedi.
Thoughts: On the whole, this six-part series hasn’t been all that great. The characters have been bland, the artwork almost laughably bad and a story that’s been pretty mediocre. Now, it’s not been all bad and there have been some great scenes and some emotionally impactful moments. I don’t know what happened between the first five books and this one, but the writing in this one has really been turned up a notch. Ulic’s anguish at losing the Force and his brother is palpable as is the Cathar Jedi Sylvar who mourns her mate’s death and is filled with rage towards Ulic. This showcases loss in different ways by different people, who, not matter how powerful they are, are equally ill equipped in dealing with their overwhelming emotions.
Enter Vima who, 20 years before Disney had a curmudgeonous Luke Skywalker shirk Rey’s attempts to get him to train her, has a curmudgeonous Ulic Qel-Droma shirk her attempts to get him to train her… Yup, once again instead of making kick-ass movies of existing material (with improvements) Disney steals stuff from the Expanded Universe and makes bad Star Wars films instead…. but I digress…
So there’s no great threat, no arch-villain and no space creatures. Instead, this is a surprisingly powerful character piece that tackles the aftermath of the Sith War with skill. The conclusion to the story, and the series, was actually pretty moving.
The artwork is different also, still not great, but it’s slightly sketchy style really fits in well with the melancholy that the characters feel.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 199 other Star Wars Books.
What’s next? Star Wars: The Old Republic II: Threat Of Peace
Why I read it: I’m reading Willard Prices’ Adventure series to my oldest son and he’s enjoying them so much he’s getting the next book of the series off the shelf on the conclusion of each book.
Reading slot Reading to: my oldest son
What is it about?: Animal collector brothers Hal and Roger Hunt are still on a sabbatical from collecting animals and this time they are crewing on one of the last of the old style whaling ships but the ship’s captain’s actions may see the death of every man on board.
Thoughts: Of all the series I read as a child, this had the second most impact on me (the first being the scene in Elephant Adventure following the failed raid on their camp). Our sensibilities of today, even back in the 80s was very much anti-whaling and yet here’s a story written in an era when only some whaling regulations were in place and is about catching and killing whales.
Putting aside the ‘plot’ for the moment, this book has a pretty detailed account of how it was done ‘old-school’ and the risks that the crews of whaling ships took in their day-to-day lives to capture and kill whales.
As if their day-to-day lives weren’t challenging enough, the captain is a cartoon cut-out of an ornery bully who attempts to murder the boys numerous times. I think he was a bit unnecessary and had he been less caustic, the story would have pretty much played out in the same way as it’s the natural world that is the main antagonist here.
Another informative adventure of a bygone era that won’t be missed, but also shouldn’t be forgotten.
Score: Worth Reading
I’ve also read: African Adventure; Arctic Adventure; Diving Adventure; Elephant Adventure; Lion Adventure; Safari Adventure; South Sea Adventure; Underwater Adventure; Volcano Adventure
What’s next? African Adventure
Why I read it: In my Elysium Fire vlog review I asked about other space-based police procedural stories and one response was books 2 and 4 of this series, but I had to read the series in order. So, book 1.
Reading slot Book of the month
What is it about?: A group of colonists have left Earth and have sought out a mysterious alien construct. Years later, at the foot of this construct the secrets of the initial contact with it start to seep out, secrets that could see the end of the colony.
Thoughts: I’ll get the negative out of the way first because this was the overriding thing for me for the first two thirds-three quarters of the book: I didn’t know what was going on. The story itself spans 22 years, but the events of the book take place right at the end of it. Now, it’s always nice to read about characters that could potentially have existed before the first word of a story and will continue to exist after the last word, but being thrust into the story right at the beginning of the end of it meant that there was a lot of catching up to do.
100 pages in I still didn’t know what God’s City was, why there were there, why the big secret was being kept (I’d worked out some of what that was by then), nor what the big upcoming ceremony was. 200 pages in some other revelations were given but still no answers to the above. It was literally the last third of the book that finally, some explanations were forthcoming and then it was like the floodgates were opened and the story suddenly hurtles along to an abrupt finish (even more so due to there being extra pages from the next book at the back which gave the impression the story was going to have more wrapping up – but no).
Having now read the book and now instilled with the answers provided, I’m trying to decide if I liked it or not. The annoyance of not knowing what was going on for so long does outweigh any of the payoff that I got by the end of the book. A payoff which, on reflection, may have been better presented in a Columbo kind of way (showing the secret first, then following the characters as they try to find it out for themselves, for those of you who have never seen the show).
When the big secret is finally revealed, there are some bizarre character choices by almost everyone, both at the time of the event itself, and at the subsequent learning of the details. Things happen that aren’t explained or justified and it’s like these people who have come all this way to an alien planet have no curiosity or ability to ask even the most basic of questions.
Another thing that was slightly irksome were the flashbacks. The content and placements of them were fine in themselves but there was no indication that it was a flashback nor of when it ended. Normally books utilise italics or some other obvious means of breaking up the text to signify such a thing, but here, a thought is had or a thing is mentioned and the next paragraph is a flashback. Sometimes it’s really obvious because there characters or location is different, but other times I’m a fair way into the paragraph before realising that it’s a flashback. It’s like watching one of those American-style channels when there’s no bumper between the program and the adverts. You’re happily watching the spies creeping up on the terrorists behind the parked car and in the next scene similarly garbed characters are selling car insurance and you wonder how much of what you were just paying close attention to was actual story. Then an advert for washing power suddenly erupts in explosions and it’s a couple of moments before you realise we’re back in the action. The flashbacks were just like that.
Anyway, on to the book’s strengths:
The story is told from the first person by Ren who is in on the big secret but, apart from referring to it from time to time, isn’t very confiding about it. As it’s told by this perspective, the reader naturally can gain a bond with the character, no matter how irksome they may be. What was quite impressive though, was how the narrative that Ren provides is slowly peeled back to reveal an extremely damaged individual. The more observant may possibly pick up certain hints earlier on, but as more and more of her life is observed by the other colonists, the more my perspective of her changed.
In the Acknowledgements at the beginning, the author alludes to writing this while grieving. While the particulars are not given (and are none of my business) the brokenness of Ren and the justifications she gives to herself for her behaviours has an unnerving feeling of accuracy which could well have been resonant to what was going on in the real world at the time of writing. There’s a pain there that, even though plot wise I hadn’t a clue as to what was going on, felt very palpable and was trapped with the words on the page.
When the intervention starts, again being all from the point of view of Ren and seeing her though processes and justifications to her responses really provided a crucial insight into the mental health of someone who desperately needs help, but doesn’t see that they need help. This whole aspect of Ren’s character was really well done and very insightful.
So, did I enjoy the book?
Well, not entirely: I was annoyed, irritated, frustrated and lost for most of it. The answers could have been given much sooner (at least to the reader) and the ending just sort of happened – though did leave me wanting more as it did finally pick up (though nothing I haven’t seen before). The mental health aspect was excellent, but the story suffered for it. This is the first of a series, so maybe the more is worth investigating and this book is simply the steppingstone to it. Book 2 was recommended to me and was the reason why I read this one.
Score: Boring – Nonsensical

And my vlog of the same:

Why I read it: It’s the last volume of the series and I’ve read the rest.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: Having been betrayed, the Das Jennir and the crew of the Uhumele prepare for a last stand against Darth Vader and his forces.
Thoughts: The explosive foreshadowing at the beginning of this book coupled with the inevitability of Darth Vader set my expectations low as to the survival of one of my favourite Fireflyesque group of misfits. I won’t spoil how it goes down but my feelings about the conclusion would loosely be described as…satisfied. This is not just an ending, but several endings to a quite brilliant series. Only six and a bit volumes in size but feels much, much bigger. That being said, this volume did feel a little short, with some aspects underutilised, particularly the bounty hunter that Darth Vader captures and retrains. His story doesn’t really amount to anything and, given the reasonable amount of panels dedicated to him, this did feel like a wasted opportunity.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 200 other Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Republic: Emissaries To Malastare
Why I read it: I’d just read Supergirl: Being Super and enjoyed the refreshing new take on the character. This looked to be a similar type of book.
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: Before he started wearing his red underpants on the outside, a young Clarke Kent needs to learn more about himself, his powers and the world he lives on.
Thoughts: This is more of a mini-series again doing a complete re-imagining of the character starting with a pre-schooler learning about his powers and ending with a journalist who leads a double-life as a fully-fledged Superman this time learning of his origins. Each story had its own art style and illustrators but do have a common thread regarding Bruce Wayne (and learning).
Dove: Most parents usually have to deal with issue such as bet-wetting or learning to ride a bicycle, but a young Clark is learning to control his ability to fly. This was quite an amusing episode, cheerily drawn with a nice little bit of foreshadowing regarding a ripped top.
Hawk: Much grittier in style, a teenage Clark takes it upon himself to confront a gang of thieves and murderers. This was a much darker story with the interesting twist that Kal-el is not as bullet-proof as I was lead to believe. This is not really explained but maybe a younger Clark had yet to develop his invulnerability. It was also great seeing him at his most violent, acts with results that taught him to reign it in when fighting the fragile humans.
Parrot: After the helicopter he’s riding in crashes into the sea, he’s picked up by a party boat owned by Bruce Wayne, a personage that the partying throng headed by pre-island Oliver Queen believe Clarke to be. This was a largely pointless story that I suppose does give a little look at Clark more wild side. It also does pave the way for the future encounters with the caped crusader in this book. Bonus points for the amusing hit attempt by Deathstroke. The artwork was again vibrant and fun.
Owl: Now a student reporter, Clark finds his previous encounter with Oliver Queen (now post-island) pays off when he gets an exclusive interview with Oliver and then Lex Luthor. This was a lot of fun with the slightly fuzzy artwork mirroring Clark’s unease of being so close to the story before he’s ready. There’s also a nice little chat with a young Dick Grayson and a fun little first scuffle with the Batman.
Eagle: Following his encounter with Batman, Clark uses Batman’s cape (that got left behind) to aid steering in flight and begins his exploits as a vigilante hero. He finds himself fighting a giant monster and entering the media’s attention. More gritty artwork and a nice exploration of the birth of the character of Superman and a nice surprise as to who first coins that term.
Angel: Clark gets a visit from his friends from Smallville (who are in on his secret) who have been dealing with watching his exploits on the telly. It turns out they have a few issues to iron out. This is more of a character piece that asks the big questions regarding Clark’s motivations and intentions towards Superman. It’s nicely thought-out with a fun interaction with members of the Green Lantern Core.
Valkyrie: A head-to-head superhero action finale that sees Superman as we know him fighting the alien bounty hunter known as Lobo. This was a great punch-up with Superman finding himself doing battle with someone matching his strength and toughness – and with more fighting skill. Superman takes some solid hits here and it was strangely satisfying to see a usually indestructible character get hurt without the use of kryptonite. This was actually quite violent and a real joy to read.
This is another great ‘introduction’ to the DC Universe for those who don’t know where to start. It assumes you know some things (watched at least one superman film at least). As for the extra DC characters who appear, their appearances are rather inconsequential so if you don’t know who they are, it doesn’t affect the story one bit. For those in the know, there’s some nice Easter eggs to look out for. I’m sure there were some here I didn’t know about, so didn’t pick up on.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: DC: Supergirl: Being Super; Harley Quinn’s Greatest Hits; DC Meets Loony Tunes
Why I read it: Because it’s an awesome series that needs to be reread every so often.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Dad’s book collection
What is it about?: Before the events of the Saga Of The Exiles, humanity begins it’s progression into mental operancy. Some use their new abilities for good, others for evil. Can humanity come together enough to be welcomed into the Galactic Milieu?
Thoughts: This is a very different style to the Exiles series in that this is more of a family saga as it follows four families as they deal with their burgeoning abilities in different ways. The main focus is on the Remillard family and on Rogatien Remillard in particular – who is writing his memoirs well after the events of the series. Starting with Rogi and his brother’s childhood and emergence of their abilities. Interspersed with their saga are three other families: the MacGreggors (Scotland), O’Connors (mafia) and Sakhvadzes (USSR). In each case, the families face prejudice from their own and from outside and adopt their own ways of dealing with their new abilities. Finally, there are also occasional scenes following the observing alien civilisation as they wait to see if humanity has what it takes to be worth the effort.
True to most family saga books, this is a sizeable book (which I understand has been split in two in the States).
I was quite a bit younger when I last read it and hadn’t realised just how it resonates today. Published in the late 80’s and dealing with prejudices, it seems this world hasn’t changed all that much since then. From violent ‘religious’ attacks to governmental interferences, this could almost have been written today.
There are some brilliant characters here with old Uncle Rogi being a very likeable rogue. The villains are also exceptionally well drawn-out with interesting insights as to their personal life choices. There are almost too many characters to keep track of, but thanks to placing them geographically and linguistically apart, it does help a lot. There’s even a handy who’s who family trees at the back.
Unfortunately, this has dated a little, but if you take into account an alternative technological development resonating with the onset of mind powers, this still plausibly works as an alternative present as opposed to a theoretical future.
Although set chronologically before the four-book epic Saga Of The Exiles this should be read after those books. There’s a significant revelation at the end of the book that only makes sense in order (in most Julian May books do not read anything from the last page before you get there to avoid major spoilers – Even the family trees at the back give away who dies and when). Despite being a very different series, it is linked integrally to the Exiles which only makes the Galactic Milieu universe all the richer.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Many-Coloured Land; The Golden Torc; The Non Born King; The Adversary; Jack The Bodiless; Diamond Mask; Magnificat
What’s next? Jack The Bodiless
Why I read it: I’ve got them, so am reading them.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: In an alternative timeline following the destruction of the first Death Star, the Rebel Alliance have found a possible planet for refuge, it just needs Princess Leia to marry the ruler there.
Thoughts: This carried hallmarks to Leia’s betrothal in The Courtship Of Princess Leia but apart from that, this was not a bad little tale that does end pretty predictably. I enjoyed Luke’s chase through the wilderness, even if it did conclude a bit quick for my liking. There was a new character introduced in the previous book that I was keen to see more of, aside from a brief scene, turns out to be just another character relegated to the nothing much category. I can’t decide if the artwork is deliberately quirky or that the artist can’t keep the characters’ faces consistent (I’m not expecting a close likeness to the actors’ but at least they should have the same face from one panel to the next…). This series had so much potential to it, I just feel that it’s been largely wasted.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake.
I’ve also read: 200 + Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Star Wars IV: A Shattered Peace (but only if I find an online version of the Free Comic Book Day comic: The Art Of The Bad Deal which was included in the TPB).
Why I read it: I’ve read the first two and enjoyed them enough to warrant giving the third book a go.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: The dastardly Nathaniel Flowerdew seeks his revenge against element collector Itch for thwarting his schemes.
Thoughts: This is very much a follow-up to a duology. In the first two books, the focus was very much on the element 126 and who has it. This one felt very much like an Alex Rider story. From getting caught up in riots in Spain, being kidnapped to accompanying a pseudo-covert ops team as they infiltrate an enemy stronghold, this felt more like a spy thriller. The story moved on at a good pace, with some interesting twists and turns. Many of the scenes did stretch plausibility a little, but for what it was, it was enjoyable enough to just go along with it. Like with many spy thrillers, the villains were a little bit ‘cardboard cut-out villain’ side of things, but as most of the story wasn’t focused on them, it wasn’t that bad.
All in all, a fun read with an ending that does potentially leave room for a book 4, but without the necessity of one either.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Itch; Itch Rocks
Why I read it: It was there.
Reading slot Killing time
What is it about?: During an excavation a body is discovered and it falls to forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan to help find the identity and cause. With the investigation taking dark twists and turns, Temperance, along with her estranged husband and on-and-off-again boyfriend Detective Ryan find themselves very much in harms way.
Thoughts: As an investigation, this was one of the better books of the series I have read. It moved along at a good pace, the body-count didn’t pile up too quickly and the motives were very plausible. The love triangle between Temperance and her too men started off with the typical irritating angst that the series seems to be full of, but, thankfully, quickly moved on to the revelations behind actions making the rest of the story free from all that. There’s also a side story involving a friend and colleague who’s dying of cancer which, though handled well enough, did detract from the main story without adding anything to the plot. I don’t have a problem with it, but it did feel a bit unnecessary.
Score: Worth reading.
I’ve also read: Temperance Brennan: Bones To Ashes; Cross Bones; Deadly Decisions; Death Du Jour; Deja Dead; Grave Secrets; Monday Mourning
What’s next? Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
Why I read it: I enjoyed the film, so thought I’d try it when I spotted it in the library.
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: It’s the zombie apocalypse. It’s left the deadbeat Shaun and his best buddy to go down to the local pub and wait it out.
Thoughts: This is a pretty basic graphic novel of the movie of the same name. There’s been little attempt to draw the character likenesses but it’s easy to tell who’s who. Fans of the film may miss certain lines of dialogue or visual gags that didn’t make it into the book. Strangely, the encounter with the other group of survivors featuring more well-known actors did, which makes no sense as you can’t tell who they’re supposed to be. Apart from that, this was a fun whizz-through the movie, but if you have the time, just watch the movie.
Score: Worth reading
Why I read it: I’ve been curious about the TV show and thought this might give me a little insight into it.
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: Weird stuff happens. No one seems to care.
Thoughts: This was a disjointed series of ‘stories’ where there’s some weird stuff that goes down. The first and longest story is a longer tale featuring time-travel and a real laugh-out-loud moment, but was told is a disjointed way making it difficult to follow. The subsequent stories seem to have nothing to do with one another or to do with the story-telling process. They just feature a thing that happens and that’s it. There’s no explanation, follow-up or reason to care. Having not seen the show I didn’t know if any of the characters or scenarios set up here fitted into the show. The introduction at the front seems to have suggested this but other reviews I have read, written by fans of the show indicated this book has nothing to do with anything excepting some passing moments.
So, stories with no follow-through and nothing that has any real point. Well drawn, though.
Score: Boring – nonsensical
Why I read it: Because this is one of the best Sci-Fi series out there.
Reading slot Reading to: my wife
What is it about?: Following on from the events of the previous 7 books, the crew of the Rocinante are scattered, imprisoned or dead and there’s an empire to overthrow.
Thoughts: Being book 8 of the series, there’s not much I can say at this point without giving anything away. The characters remain true to form and are doing their best to get through another day and alien menace casts a palpable feeling of dread all over known space. Theresa, the new POV character, is the teenage daughter to the emperor, and finds herself just as trapped as their prize prisoner. I liked how she was very much in the middle of a lot that was going on while being mostly focused on her own selfish needs, an act of innocence that stays the hand of an unexpected assassin.
There are some very interesting twists and turns with this book, usually involving the two alien races. I love how the intrigue surrounding these two races has been gently built up over the series, we have never once seen either race but the technology left behind by one, and the unusual attacks made by the other.
As before, there are no punches pulled and there are more significant character deaths. I expect the next and final book to be pretty devastating.
I cannot recommend this series enough. Also, if you haven’t already, go check out the TV series too.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Expanse: Abaddon’s Gate; Babylon’s Ashes; Caliban’s War; Cibola Burn; Leviathan Wakes; Nemesis Games; Persepolis Rising
What’s next? Skulduggery Pleasant VI: Death Bringer

Quite a successful month, in other words.
So, what’s up for the month of July? (Coming Soon – filmed and in need of editing)

0

May 2019 Books Read Wrap-Up

I managed to finish 7 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 found out about it and had to read it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: An anarchist is sent on a voyage of discovery as punishment. However, what he finds could change the balance of power on Kesh for ever.
Thoughts: I’ve found other Sith-heavy stories hard to relate to any of the characters, but in this story they were much more relatable. That being said, the anarchist, Spinner, was a little insufferable and I did find his continued survival amongst the Sith people a quite surprising.
The action, when it kicks off, was okay and full of good ol’ giant Star Wars monsters.
This was a fun little addition to the world of Kesh and it was nice seeing some of it.#
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 197 other Star Wars titles.
Why I read it: Read book 1 last year, loved it. Surprised it’s taken this long to get round to reading this one.
Reading slot Book of the Month
What is it about?: Panoply faces two simultaneous situations threatening the Glitterband: A movement of independence which sees more and more habitats seceding from the group; and an ever-increasing regularity of deaths where their head implants inexplicably massively overheats.
Thoughts: This is the second book in this police-procedural story and does follow on from the first book in many ways, I highly recommend reading Aurora Rises first. I did and am very glad of it. I also recommend reading the short estory: Open and Shut which fills the gap between books one and two – it’s freely available to read on the internet. What I did find a curious choice was that, despite how integral book one was to certain parts of the story, the world-building in book two was much more forgiving than in book one. What I mean by that, is that certain aspects of this futuristic environment that are introduced in book one are not really explained until book two. Quickmatter, for example, was referenced several times in book one but with no explanation as to what it actually was. By the end of the book, I had fathomed enough to at least understand what it does. However, book two takes the time to provide details on its operation and uses. This is the same for many aspects. This isn’t a negative thing necessarily, but just odd that that level of detail wasn’t in book one with perhaps a small reminder in book two.
Right, on to the story. The story bounced between three separate areas: investigation into the deaths; the separatist issue; and two boys hunting virtual animals. I must confess, I initially struggled with the parts with the boys as it seemingly had nothing to do with the main story points for the vast majority of the book. Thankfully those segments were short and not too frequent and did eventually become significant.
The rest of the book was fully engaging with the satisfying progressions and red herrings that good investigative stories contain. There were some nice surprises leading on from book one that helped give the two books cohesion.
Dreyfus, Thalia and Sparver, the three Panoply agents investigating the cases were extremely likeable and I enjoyed the role reversal for Thalia and Sparver.
Fingers crossed for a book three.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Beyond The Aquila Rift; Aurora Rising; Revenger; Shadow Captain; The Medusa Chronicles (with Stephen Baxter).
What’s next? June’s book of the month (TBA).

Why I read it: I’d read the Johnny Maxwell trilogy to my youngest son and figured both boys would enjoy this fantastic entrance into the Discworld series.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: A young potential witch must retrieve her stolen brother from the Queen of the Elves and has the help of the picties called the Nac Mac Feegle.
Thoughts: What’s great about this younger reader’s Discworld book, is that you don’t need to have any prior knowledge of Discworld to enjoy it. It’s mostly new characters, species and locations with only a couple of cameo appearances from the main series and an enemy that’s been encountered before. The obvious charm of this story are the Nac Mac Feegle; blue-skinned (actually it’s tattoos), red-headed, kilt-wearing tiny people who speak Scots and are known as Pictsies. The imagery of four of them steeling ships (sheep) by taking one leg each and running off with it resulting in a confused sheep, apparently standing stock still, but hurtling across the field backwards is fantastic. Another favourite is the clan’s up-and-coming gonnagle; Not-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock, who not only does wonders for the word count, but also gives a good indication of the humour of the book. Despite being about kidnapping and death, this is a very funny story that, in true Discworld fashion, pokes fun at our idiosyncrasies. I dare anyone to read this book and not have the inclination to shout “Crivens!” on occasion. Find an opportunity to read this aloud.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: All of Discworld and almost everything else by Terry Pratchett
What’s next? Discworld: A Hat Full Of Sky
Why I read it: This is the only book from the Tales of the Jedi I’ve not read. Fixed that.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: Jedi Ulic Qel-Droma seeks to infiltrate the Sith to destroy them from the inside and Exar Kun embraces the dark side to achieve ultimate power.
Thoughts: As with the rest of this seres the artwork is woefully lacking. The story, however, is focused more on the characters than the events making it more intimate. Certainly, the Jedi learn the art of hubris in this one. Unfortunately, the limited material here is stretched quite thin over the six comics which, coupled with the basic artwork, makes this one of the less engaging stories of the series.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake.
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi VI: Redemption
Why I read it: Saw this is the library, flicked through it to see if the artwork passed muster and thought, ‘why not?’
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: On the cusp of her 16th ‘birthday’ Kara Danvers has the usual teenage struggles along with managing her secret, something that becomes increasingly difficult when her powers start malfunctioning.
Thoughts: I must confess, it was the artwork and the simplicity of the story that grabbed me with this one. I’ve not read much in the way of DC or Marvel, mostly due to the difficult task of finding an entry point. Time and time again, I’ve picked up book 1 of a series and from the first page am faced with a bunch of established characters I’ve scarcely heard of fighting some force or other. On other occasions, I’ve picked up an origin story only to find the artwork very much not to my taste and have put it right back again.
This is an origin story, of sorts, very much of the Smallville vein and outside of the usual Supergirl cannon. Kara has yet to don her cape and her biggest threats are hormones and keeping a believable time on the track. When the inevitable bad stuff starts happening, Kara is very inexperienced in knowing how to deal with what is going on. She’s discovering as much about herself as she is the world around her. The ‘bad stuff’ itself was a pretty low-key affair but does give her the insight she needs to know who she is and where she came from and how she fits on planet Earth.
The villains were a little weak, but what with this being a character piece on Supergirl almost made having a villain unnecessary. This could have gotten away without having an antagonist at all, but then it could scarcely be called a super-hero story. I get the feeling it was shoe-horned it purely for that reason.
The characters and relationships were believable and it’s a shame this is all there is of this flavour of Supergirl: it would have been nice to see the conclusion to the two cliff-hangers this story ended on.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: DC Meets Looney Tunes
Why I read it: This looked a bit different and appealed to me.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: After a building project unwisely excavates a mass grave harkening back to the black death, an infection quickly spreads through London turning it’s populace into hungry zombies.
Thoughts: The significant thing about this book is that, although there is a clearly defined sequence of events, they’re told via a multitude of police reports, diary entries, office memos, newspaper articles, texts, tweets and other first-person accounts – all written by different authors. This all kept what could be argued to be a slightly tired genre an interesting and very easy to read chronicle of an end of a world. Excepting one or two recurring diary entries by specific characters, each character exists purely within the scope of a single segment of the book so there’s no long-range scope for individual characters and their development. The characters are there to provide their perspectives and thoughts to the increasing zombie threat and then go on to succumb to the inevitable or survive.
What was also refreshing was the mythology built up around this particular zombie break-out. There’s a quasi-believable cause to the infection with a scarily conceivable series of events leading to its outbreak and spread. The zombies themselves also have a gradated level of what they once were in that some will still attempt to drive cars, some can parrot speech and some will seek out familiar locations. There’s also one account revealing a possible cure with an outcome that was very satisfyingly dubious. What works well with the book is that the story is told in an effectively chronological way, starting with the first accounts of fighting the building development that goes on to unearth the disease and concluding with accounts of the plague reaching the shores of Australia and America and the subsequent infections spreading from there.
Great stuff.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: I’ve not read much in the way of fantasy and thought I’d give it a go. It was just sitting there on the shelf.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Riftwar
What is it about?: A young lad named Pug is taken on as an apprentice magician but barely starts his learning before being enslaved by an invading force from another world who use a rift in space to move from planet to planet.
Thoughts: Having plodded my way through the first five and a half books of the increasingly awful A Song Of Ice And Fire series it was refreshing to read yet another fantasy book that does the genre justice. What worked best with this story were the abrupt changes in direction the story takes. It has no direct start to finish, but it also doesn’t just meander pointlessly with the heroes bumbling along for the ride. It starts off with a very pleasant (if slightly too long) introduction to the life and times of Midkemia, particularly surrounding the apprentice magician Pug. Then war from an unexpected quarter starts and things really kick off. I really got to know the characters and each time the focus changed from one to another I was keen to find out how they’ve gotten on with equal measure.
The characters were also uncomplicated, the bad guys were the bad guys and the good guys were true to form. At times it felt a little like reading one of Brian Jacques’ Redwall books, which was a surprise comparison to make. I finished the book feeling very satisfied and slightly aglow with the good-natured camaraderie that makes this a real feel-good book.
This was a big book, but the 681 pages it claims to have can be a bit misleading due to the densely-packed text. Nowadays, the print would be a little more reader-friendly and possibly cover near 1000 pages. I only point this out because my usual goal of 50 pages a day was surprisingly difficult despite my enjoyment of reading it.
Score: Booktastic!
What’s next? Riftwar: The Riftwar Saga II: Silverthorn

A reasonably successful month, in other words.
So, what’s up for the month of June?

0

April 2019 Books Read Wrap-Up

I managed to finish seventeen 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: Going through my graphic novel collection and found my comic collection. Filling gaps.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Order 66 survivor Das Jennir is finding life as a freelance agent tough when most jobs go against his beliefs. He finally finds a job that may suit him, but nothing is as it appears.
Thoughts: I love the effort given to provide character development for Das Jennir and the survivors of the Uhumele. This story reads very much like most others where a stranger enters a troubled area and goes against the odds to make life better for the downtrodden who live there. If you like that sort of tale, this is a very satisfying telling with the standard path of success followed by defeat and a beating followed by the inevitable return and victory. Despite this very standard theme, this was immensely enjoyable. It is interspersed a little by Darth Vader and Palpatine, but they don’t really add anything much to the story. It does cover a little on Vader’s realisation as to his part in the Sith rule of the galaxy.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Nearly 200 Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Dark Times V: Out Of The Wilderness
Why I read it: This was 2017’s Christmas present from a friend, thought it was about time I read it.
Reading slot Book of the month.
What is it about?: The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker’s Doctor) and Romana attend a cricket match and witness the stealing of the Ashes. With the help of the robot dog K-9 and the TARDIS, the Doctor and his companion must stop an army whose single-minded purpose is the destruction of the universe.
Thoughts: I must confess, the overriding feeling that I felt reading this book was just how much I miss Douglas Adams. No, I never met him, but his Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series had a huge impact on me and not a day goes by when I don’t make a reference to one or the other. I think James Goss did a marvellous job at conveying the story in Adams’ style. At the back of this book is Adams’ complete Treatment for his proposed film/TV episode that never happened. It was from this, and some other material, that Goss wrote this book. It’s quite impressive as to how little Goss had to do, so much material was already there.
For those familiar with Adams’ works, this story may well resonate as some of its plot points were later used in Life, the Universe and Everything, book three of THGTTG. However, although there are some unmistakable similarities, this is a very different story and particularly fitting for a Tom Baker Doctor Who. That being said, despite a very strong first act, this story does fall into the trap that many Doctor Who stories do (and Douglas Adams’ stories for that matter) and got a bit woolly towards the end.
This was a story that knew what it was, and where it came from. It wasn’t afraid to have fun with the franchise and never took itself seriously.
As already mentioned, the back of the book holds some extra material in the appendices. There’s a summary of how Douglas Adams’ story nearly came to the big screen. His complete Treatment (featuring a different companion called Jane), and an alternate first chapter with an older Sarah-Jane Smith as the companion having finally been reunited with the same Doctor that abandoned her in Edinburg all those years ago.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Forty three other Doctor Who books.
What’s next? May’s Book of the Month
Why I read it: Because I said I was going to read all the Goosebumps in the house.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: After harassing and otherwise seriously irritating a suspected witch through deliberate provocation and carelessness, a brother and sister start clucking.
Thoughts: Okay, there’s a message here about respectfulness and being polite, but there was so much wrong with this one. I’ll calm myself down by positing my issues as open questions:
How can two parents not notice that both their children are gradually turning into chickens?
If they’re turning into chickens, why do the kids get rid of all the evidence first before trying to convince their parents?
When two children start acting completely insane at a social gathering how come everyone thinks they’re just making a joke?
If politeness and etiquette are your thing, then why live, dress and behave in a manner that will automatically label you as the town wacko thereby setting yourself up for some major irritations?
Why did I read this?
Score: Toilet paper
I’ve also read: Over 30 Goosebumps books.
What’s next? Goosebumps LIV: Don’t Go To Sleep!
Why I read it: As fans of Chris Wooding’s works, we were both excited to try his foray into epic fantasy.
Reading slot Reading to: my wife
What is it about?: In a realm conquered by outsiders before he was born, Aren, the son of one of the privileged few native aristocrats, finds his world turned upside-down when his father his killed for insurrection. As a royal wedding approaches, forever sealing his land’s fate, Aren finds himself joining forces made up of the unlikeliest of companions to do what they can to save the future of their peoples.
Thoughts: This was a big-un. At 822 pages read aloud at a chapter a night, this took a wee while to get through. For the longest time, I didn’t know what the point of the story was as Aren and his friend Cade find themselves going from one situation to the next. Finally, after quite a significant chunk, some semblance of a plot did emerge and the story became a lot less meandering and more focused.
I’ve said before of Chris Wooding that he writes great characters and he does so again here. None of them feel like caricature fantasy hero characters but complex and often damaged people who are just trying to do something.
The world itself is full of diverse peoples complete with their beliefs, cultures, histories and physical traits. Most of this is hidden outside the page and only hinted at or touched upon from time to time. This gives a strong sense that Ossia and the surrounding lands is a real place and my only regret was that we didn’t get to explore more of it.
I can’t talk about this and not draw parallels with The Lord Of The Rings which, I’m sure, was a source of a lot of inspiration (but then what fantasy book isn’t nowadays). Despite them being totally different books, there are a few similarities too. However, where Tolkein’s writing is quite dry and stuffy, Wooding’s is fresh and flows off the page. Many of the characters from Middle Earth were hairy, bearded men with silly unpronounceable names (such as: Aragorn, Elrond, Gandalf, Boromor, Gimli, Legolas, Faramir, & Saruman), Ossia also features peoples of the female persuasion and characters with more aesthetically pleasing or descriptive names (such as: Aron, Cade, Grub, Keel, Mara, Garrick, Fen, Orica & Harod).
What’s more, unlike with tLotR, Wooding is not afraid to punish his characters and bump them off. Of the eleven companions to the One Ring, only one fell to the wayside in a story spanning over 1000 pages and he kind of had it coming. The Ember Blade is only book 1 of the series and of the 14 associates, less than half make it to the end.
If you’re thinking of reading or rereading The Lord Of The Rings I’d honestly say, don’t bother and read this instead.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Tale Of The Ketty Jay Series; Silver; The Fade
What’s next? The Expanse VIII: Tiamat’s Wrath by James S. A. Corey
Why I read it: Because I’m nearly there! Not many to go now.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: Fed up of his cramped room, a young lad named Matt sleeps in the guest room, but the reality he wakes up in, isn’t the one we went to sleep in.
Thoughts: Blimey! After the complete dross of Chicken Chicken, this was brilliant. It’s a format that’s been around for a while but done in a fun and interesting way. Every time Matt goes to sleep, he wakes up in a different body or different world. These brief 120 pages are a fast-forward of a complete series of Sliders meets Quantum leap. Matt’s constantly battling against his ignorance of the realities he finds himself in and the situations into which he is placed.
What was a real shame was that this is a Goosebumps book. This deserved far more than this franchise as it has the scope to really become its own thing.
There were no scares here, just the overwhelming urgency of being stuck in the unknown, making this more of a thriller than a horror. An excellent idea horribly stunted by the label on the front cover.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Over 30 Goosebumps books.
What’s next? Goosebumps LV: The Blob That Ate Everyone
Why I read it: It’s number 4 of the 5 I planned on reading this time round.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: Horror-writer enthusiast Zackie acquires an old typewriter, whatever he writes with it becomes manifest.
Thoughts: Another great, if not all that original, idea that suffers from the franchise it sits within. Considering how short these books are, it took a long time to get to the crux of the story. Those scenes, when Zackie and his friend were realising the truth, were pretty well done and had the potential to do great things. Unfortunately, it petered out and the rest of the story was pretty run-of-the-mill. The end ‘twist’ was particularly grating, partially as it makes no sense at all, but also it completely cheapened the quality of the story as a whole.
Score: Boring – nonsensical
I’ve also read: Over 30 Goosebumps books
What’s next? Goosebumps Series 2000 II: Bride Of The Living Dummy
Why I read it: There was a reason once.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: Slappy’s back! And this time it’s… exactly the same as before.
Thoughts: Despite only being 124 pages long, I nearly didn’t finish this. This was truly dreadful. Right from the get-go the shocking parenting on display nearly made me give up right then. The behaviour of the children in this book was far worse than that of the demonically possessed doll so that when the ‘horror’ started I barely noticed. The addition of the diary did add a little to the lore of Slappy, so there was that one redeeming feature, but otherwise just avoid!
Score: Toilet paper
I’ve also read: 35 other Goosebumps stories.
What’s next? Goosebumps Series 2000 III: Creature Teacher
Why I read it: My comic book shop had stopped issuing me this series at the end of Blue Harvest. I thought that was it. Recently found out it wasn’t it, so desperately trying to catch up.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: Das Jennir is once again tricked by Ember Chankeli and the both end up crash landing on a desolate planet. Meanwhile an assassin is on his tail.
Thoughts: This read very much like a western which was another refreshing change of direction for this fantastic series. What I particularly liked about this volume was the focus of Das Jennir being an average Jedi. So often in stories featuring a Jedi, they come across as a being of god-like status. Yes, a Jedi is pretty overpowered compared to non-Jedi folk but it was nice to see that Das has his limitations too. The foreshadowing of the inevitable confrontation with Darth Vader was again a little lacking, but did have more relevance to the plot. The main weak point was the assassin hunting Das Jennir who really lacked any character development at all. He might as well have been an assassin droid, except for his fate and the end of the story.
A much lower-key affair compared to many other stories, but I did appreciate the character development s with Das and Ember as well as their evolving relationship with each other. I also liked how the arc concluded having not tied up all the loose ends and leaving particular aspects permanently unfinished.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: 193 other Star Wars titles (2 were Disney).
What’s next? Star Wars: Dark Times VI: Fire Carrier
Why I read it: Because Bob Shaw is always worth reading.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Sci-Fi by Author
What is it about?: With only two known inhabitable planets a man goes on the run towards what he believes to be a glimmer of hope, only to discover a vast construct surrounding a star featuring a breathable and arable landscape measuring 5 billion Earths (also known as a Dyson sphere).
Thoughts: As usual with reading a Bob Shaw book for the first time, I was hit regularly by a scaling up of awe and wonder. There is never any point going in to one of these with expectations, they all get subverted anyway. The story has an interesting blend of a personal feud between the main character and the president of Starfleet and the adventure and intrigue with discovering Orbitsville and everything in entails. There’s the mystery of who made it, why it was made and what happened to those who lived there before. It also looks to towards humanity’s future. There are two more books of the series, but this book feels complete on its own.
It could be argued that the domestic lifestyle is a little dated now, but in all other aspects it still feels fresh and relevant and does what all good sci-fi does and ask some big questions and does its best to answer them following one logical conclusion.
I finished this feeling a great sense of satisfaction and had enjoyed this right from the get-go.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: The Ceres Solution; Killer Planet; Medusa’s Children; Night Walk; Ship Of Strangers; The Two-Timers; Who Goes Here?; A Wreath Of Stars
What’s next? Orbistville Departure
Why I read it: I’d previously read the two Muddle Earth books by the same author to my youngest son and he wanted more.
Reading slot Reading to: my youngest son
What is it about?: A young human(ish) boy named Twig knew he was different from the wood trolls who raised him. One day he’s sent to find his destiny and identity and finds the Deepwoods to be a strange and dangerous place.
Thoughts: This is a little more grown up than the Muddle Earth series with the scene featuring the friendly banderbear (one that features on the cover of some editions) being quite shocking compared to the rest of the book. Up to this point, Twig’s encounters have been quite tame and easy-going. Then this happens. I read this to my nine-year-old son and he was quite moved by this scene.
As with many books that are the first of the series, this one’s quite thin regarding plot with Twig bumbling from one encounter to the next in an episodic nature. There was a subtle running arc that I spotted after the second appearance and a couple of foreshadowing moments that indicated where the story was going to end up. Each encounter features some inventive creatures, both friendly and dangerous, from flesh-eating trees to red-skinned Slaughterers who turn out to be really quite nice.
Once again Chris Riddell’s signature artwork features prominently throughout the book, sometimes as a full page, other times interspersed between or around the text. They aren’t strictly necessary, but to wonderfully compliment Paul Stewart’s descriptions of the scenes and creatures Twig encounters.
As an introduction to this world, I feel this book only covered the tip of the iceberg, so not entirely sure that it did its job, as the story itself could have been told over a few pages. However, my son enjoyed this a lot and in a recent visit to a charity shop managed to pick up the next three or four books in the series. I too am curious to see what happens to Twig and if book 2 has a bit more substance to it. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it certainly had more merit by reading it aloud to its target audience.
Score: Worth reading – to a child
I’ve also read: Muddle Earth; Muddle Earth Too
What’s next? Edge Chronicles II: The Twig Saga II: Stormbreaker
Why I read it: I was looking for something to read to my boys while staying with my parents and my dad recommended this book by his uncle.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: After his wife left him, a man finds he is able to communicate with dogs.
Thoughts: Published in 1959, this story is a little dated, particularly in social aspects as well as the name given to a black dog. If you are able to accept that this book is of its time, the story itself is a gentle tale about Colin as he discovers his amazing gift, and uses it to the betterment of dogkind. Of course, there are those who see his gift as an opportunity to make money, but surprisingly, there is no villain but more of a mutual acceptance of a necessary evil.
The story rarely develops in the directed I expected it too, and because of this, disappointed me a little because I wanted more exploits of Colin using his ability than I was given. At only 159 pages, this book is quite short and I feel that there could have been room for a bit more.
Throughout the book are illustrations by Anton, who, I’m told, was a well-known and popular illustrator of the time that added little to the narrative. They were something to look at, but little more.
I read this to my children and we all enjoyed it, but I felt that there should have been more.
Score: Worth reading
Why I read it: I’ve had this a while and not read it. Remedying that.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: With the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance struggles to find a new sanctuary. Every time an exploratory expedition arrives at a likely location, the Empire is there waiting for them. Leia is tasked to force a covert X-wing squadron to both find a place of safety and root out the source of the data breach.
Thoughts: This is billed as a continuation of the original Star Wars as if the rest of the established lore never happened.
In a way this is somewhat refreshing in that the main crew don’t have too much baggage. Luke’s still getting to grips with the force, Leia’s keeping busy to keep Alderaan out of mind and Han’s… Han.
As a story arc, In the Shadow of Yavin unfortunately doesn’t really go anywhere. The story moves along quite nicely in the telling, but the answers are few and far between and the book just ends with little tied up. There’s some interesting character dynamics, particularly between Leia and Luke and Luke’s relationship with another female pilot. It was also great seeing Leia take a more central role in the action and proving to be a pretty decent fighter pilot herself.
However, as an ‘alternative universe’ there are still a lot of things kept from the two later films, the prequels and the EU in terms of characters, species and other things. This was a little bit jarring in that I’d prepared for something completely different, got different but also an awful lot of the known, such as there’s a second Death Star being constructed at Endor, Mon Mothma heads up the Alliance from the Mon Calamari capital ship Home One and Boba Fett and Bossk are hunting Han Solo. I think I’d have preferred a whole new look rather than a partial change.
The artwork is also a little wonky regarding the likenesses of the characters, it’s clear enough who’s who and I get that there’s a stylistic approach rather than an accurate one who but the faces change a lot from panel to panel which I found a little distracting. Like with the story, they a bit different from what was, but not enough for it not to be a little disturbing.
This volume finishes with the inclusion of a Free Comic Book Day story The Assassination Of Darth Vader which, while pretty short, was a fantastic little piece showing not only Vader’s utter lethality, but also his interesting alliance with Boba Fett. Low on dialogue, high on action and visuals.
Score: Worth reading.
I’ve also read: Some Star Wars stuff.
What’s next? Star Wars: Star Wars II: From The Ruins Of Alderaan
Why I read it: It’s sitting on my desk at work.
Reading slot Killing time
What is it about?: Three skeletal remains are found in the basement of a pizza parlor. Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan must try to determine if these remains are archeological or something that needs investigating.
Thoughts: Despite being one of the shorter stories of the series, this took a long time to really get going. I don’t mean this in a bad way, the difficulties of the investigation and the reluctance to proceed in a possible archaeological discover hamper the progress somewhat. I certainly learned more about carbon dating then I ever expected to – interesting stuff too.
Once the investigation does finally get underway, it’s quite an impactful one dealing with some pretty dark instances of human depravity and Stockholm Syndrome. It’s actually pretty scary how much of this has gone on and the unknown quantity of how much is still going on. I enjoyed following the investigation and didn’t see the big reveal coming – though the clues were there.
As usual, Temp’s interactions with the living continues to be more irritating than anything else. Her ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship with Detective Ryan continues with an extra layer of angst, which, when finally explained, made me shake my head in resignation. She is visited by a friend with marital issues who does things to increase the angst even more, but then turns out to be nothing much at all. The only relationship that did have some hint at being genuine was her relationship with Claudel, one in which neither can stand the other but has a significant development at the story’s conclusion.
Score: Worth Reading
I’ve also read: Temperance Brennan: Bones To Ashes; Cross Bones; Deadly Decisions; Death Du Jour; Deja Dead; Grave Secrets.
What’s next? Temperance Brennan IX: Break No Bones
Why I read it: I’d bought this for my wife and she wanted to read it with me. So we read it together.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Dirk Gently is remembering a life that is his, but not one that he lived.
Thoughts: With the 2 and a bit novels written by Douglas Adams and the 2 series TV show (the one staring Elijah Wood) being almost, but not quite, entirely different from each other, this graphic novel series somehow manages to tie in to both. It starts with an older Dirk from the books who, with help from a time-travelling bathroom, manages to interact with the characters from the TV show.
As is usually the case with Dirk Gently stories, this one is totally bonkers. There are a plethora of apparently unconnected things going on with the characters from both storylines running about doing… stuff. I did like the occasional additions of snippets of storyline from before season one of the show. In some ways they explain as to how certain characters were where they were and why Bart has the desire to kill Dirk with no idea who he is. Needless to say, at this book’s conclusion I have no idea what is going on at all. I’m hoping, as and when I get my hands on book two, things might make a bit more sense, but I’m not holding my breath.
The artwork is bright and colourful with some great use of the comic medium. Some pages do require a few seconds to work out how they’re supposed to be read. I would say that quite a lot of text does end up near the fold of the book, making for some tricky reading.
If you don’t know either the books or the TV show, I would suggest you avoid this until you’ve read and seen them and only try it if you enjoyed them. This one’s for fans of Dirk.
Score: Worth Reading
I’ve also read: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency; The Long, Dark Teatime Of The Soul; The Salmon Of Doubt
Why I read it: I want to know who the spy is.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: The Rebel Alliance is still looking for a new home, but can’t seem to do anything without the Empire knowing about it. Luke and Wedge sneak on board the Executor to try to disrupt the Empire’s data gathering ability.
Thoughts: This is very much the conclusion to In The Shadow Of Yavin where all the main loose ends are tied up. The mystery is revealed and the scrapes that the characters are in are dealt with. A couple of character arcs also run their course, but I was left feeling cheated by them. In both cases there was the expectation of something coming of them, but then they leave the story and that’s that. I don’t know if they turn up later, but as the story stands at the moment, that’s all there is to it.
Also the big reveal annoyed me. There was a spy giving away the Alliance’s movements to the Empire and this did carry the story well. However, when the truth is revealed… okay, I don’t know what I expected, I had theories, but the truth was underwhelming and does leave a few questions unanswered.
I did like the addition of Perla to the story. She is an interesting character with a lot of unknowns about her. I’m looking forward to seeing how her character further develops as the series goes on.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Lots of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: Star Wars III: Rebel Girl
Why I read it: I spotted this in the library and am a fan of the two authors.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: Written as a sequel to Arthur C. Clarke’s novella A Meeting With Medusa the story furthers the adventures of Howard Falcon, who had discovered immense creatures living in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Thoughts: This story spans about 1,000 years and follows a logical progression of human and machine advancement as they colonise and mine the solar system and the inevitable human-machine war. Throughout all this, Howard Falcon is called upon time and time again to try to settle various disputes as he was the one largely responsible for the creation of the machine intelligence. I enjoyed exploring the solar system with him and, though he was a bit of a curmudgeon, found him a highly likeable character.
What makes this story particularly interesting was how the human characters become less and less human and Adam, the main machine featured in the story, become more and more human. This does a reasonably good exploration into the human condition vs AI and what is intelligence, but as this isn’t the focus of the story, it didn’t get bogged down in existential crisis.
Having read a fair bit of both authors now, this one reads a lot more Stephen Baxter than Alastair Reynolds, particularly the interspersed Interlude chapters that feel a lot like Baxter’s NASA series even so far as to have an alternate history and space program.
I haven’t read A Meeting With Medusa and can happily report that it wasn’t necessary to follow and enjoy this story. Compared with the epic scale, the novella is but a prelude.
The ending has a huge call-back to the ending of Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey though does it better in my opinion and far surpasses the twist and the end of the novella.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: By Stephen Baxter: Manifold Series (Space; Time; Origin; Phase Space); Mammoth: Silverhair; The War of The Worlds: The Massacre Of Mankind; The Time Machine: The Time Ships; NASA: Voyage; The Long Earth Quinter (with Terry Pratchett); Time’s Eye & Sandstorm (Books 1 & 2 of the Time Odyssey with Arthur C. Clarke); Reality Dust.
By Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space: A Prefect Dreyfus Emergency: Aurora Rising; Beyond The Aquila Rift; Revenger; Shadow Captain
Why I read it: I want to read this series and really enjoying it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: Following order 66 Jedi Master K’kruhk is on the run with a bunch of younglings. After an encounter with pirates the group face new challenges from both outside and within.
Thoughts: For a change of scenery, the focus of this story focuses mostly on K’kruhk and his band of refugee younglings. No Das Jannir, no Uhumele. with a little bit of Vader’s search for Jannir and his training up of the assassin of failed to kill him in Out Of The Wilderness. This little side-story doesn’t really do much, but is possibly the foreshadowing of the things to come in the series finale. This is a little disjointed from the rest of the story, but did keep me informed of what may be coming up in A Spark Remains.
What I thought really worked with this story was the more empathetic look at the running of the Empire. Many of the Imperial officers would have been Republic officers who worked closely with the Jedi during and before the Clone Wars and for the betterment of all peoples. Just because they now wear grey uniforms doesn’t meant that they themselves have changed. On the other side of the coin, we see a local militia who, during the Clone Wars, fought for the Republic against the Separatists but can’t let go of the things they’ve seen and lost and are now responsible for continuing atrocities against suspected former Separatist civilians. Some of these scenes are pretty shocking and clearly quite harrowing to those who witness them, but they do keep to the theme that the Dark Times series has established.
The artwork continues to be of very high quality and its grittiness fits the dark theme of the series well.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Lots of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: Dark Times VII: A Spark Remains

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

0

March 2019 Books Read Wrap-Up

I managed to finish 18 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 have quite a few graphic novels, so reading them all. Currently working my way through the Star Wars lot.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: The source of the Rakghoul plague on Tarsis is found to be a Sith talisman. Unfortunately the invading Mandalorians find it and it’s left to Jedi agent Celeste Morne, initially ‘aided by’ Zayne Carrick and Gryph in retrieving the artefact. This is a quest that will send her though the ages to be eventually concluded with the help of Cade Skywalker.
Thoughts: What a brilliant series this is! A noteworthy cross-over event that linked four comic runs at the time. This volume is four parts Knights Of The Old Republic and 2 parts Dark Times. My main issue with this story, as with any crossover event, is that it happens in the middle of another story arc already in progress. Little explanation is given as to why what is going on where it is going on because that has already been established in the main story arc. But like I said, I have this issue with all crossovers. The Dark Times segment possibly suffered more in this regard as the crew of the Uhumele suffer a significant death, which out of context is somewhat meaningless. Anyway, Zayne and Gryph were on top form causing mayhem everywhere they go which matched the somewhat zany artwork of the Knights of the Old Republic portion of the tale. The Rakghoul hoards made for a thrilling enemy with a unique look and feel to other alien hoards.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 181 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Vector Vol. 2
Why I read it: I was blown away by the first book, so had to read this as soon I could get my hands on it.
Reading slot Book of the month/1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: After taking control of a notorious pirate ship, the crew of the Revenger find that there’s a price that comes with flying such a ship.
Thoughts: I cannot talk about this book without spoiling the first one, so if you have not read Revenger yet, there will be spoilers for that book in this review.
Still here?
Right, the first surprise here was that this tale is told from the point of view of Adrianna, not Fura, who narrated the first book. It made for a very interesting dynamic because now that we’re no longer in Fura’s head, I really felt the impact of the changes she went through to defeat Bosa Sennan and rescue her sister. Also, by being inside Adrianna’s head, there’s little of the mystery surrounding her reconditioning by Bosa. I say little, because there’s still some there. However, the stand-out feeling that flows readily from this book is the all-pervading sense of unease. Fura’s now a total stranger, Bosa may not have completely gone, the ship holds secrets, there’s a threat following the ship that’s not quite tangible. With every step the crew takes, the tension builds just a little further as characters may or may not turn out who they claim to be as do their agendas. I would strongly recommend reading this in one sitting, or without reading anything else, to keep this level of suspense going.
What was also appreciated was the further explanation of the universe this is set in. More questions are asked, certainly, but there are some answers and insights as well. However, this is no longer merely a sequel to Revenger but book 2 in at least a trilogy. The ending just suddenly happens. The ever-winding tension strings are suddenly cut loose, as the book ends and it’s going to be another couple of years to find out what happens next. Some of the tension has been lessened with some revelations and resolutions, but only with the additions of some brand new ones.
This was a truly gripping read, from the zombie-infested bauble to the silent and almost unnoticed space battle, from the plot and counter plot of a criminal empire, to the increasing mystery of the quoins. Also, like with Revenger there and many times when what is expected is circumnavigated and something else happens instead.
Unfortunately, if you’re the sort who like their answers given to them in a neatly wrapped bow, I’d wait until book 3 is out, then read the series then. Also have someone massage your shoulders when you read it.
Also, ignore the Firefly comparison that’s given on the cover. Yes, there’s a small crew of a space ship, but that’s about as far as the comparison goes. It’s entirely misleading.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: Revenger; Aurora Rising; Beyond the Aquila Rift.
What’s next? April’s book of the month.

My vlog review of Shadow Captain:

Why I read it: Still going through them Star Wars graphic novels
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: After taking on the burden of the Muur Talisman, Celeste Morn lives in isolation, keeping the plague and the Sith lord away from the galaxy. Both Darth Vader and then Darth Krayt attempt to take it’s power for themselves.
Thoughts: This is the conclusion to the 4 comic book series crossover event. This volume is two parts Rebellion and 4 parts Legacy. Like with Volume 1, the main issue with the story is that it bulldozes its way through already established story arcs, which, if not recently already read, can leave the reader with a lot of questions regarding the who’s, what’s and why should I cares. Besides that, I greatly enjoyed the story. The artwork was much better than in Volume 1 with greater detail given to the rakghouls. There was a very satisfying conclusion to the Celeste Morne story that nicely ties the four eras together.
All in all, Vector was very enjoyable from start to finish, though I would recommend a familiarisation of the related stories from Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Times, Rebellion and Legacy just to get to know the featured characters (and they’re great stories in their own rights too).
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 182 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Dark Times: The Path To Nowhere
Why I read it: I just discovered a means to read comics I’ve not got online. So, of course I’m going to fill those gaps.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: During his imprisonment on Bogan, Xesh joins forces with exiled Je’daii Daegen Lok and together seek to escape their prison and forge a new force blade and bring Lok’s vision into being.
Thoughts: This second instalment of this unique series chronologically based before any other Star Wars works deals with themes such as belonging and destiny. With foreknowledge of an approaching evil, Daegen Lok is compelled to do whatever necessary to help the Je’daii prepare, despite their inherent disinclination to believe him. This resulted in some very interesting differences of opinion, particularly as he wasn’t the only Je’daii who ad that vision.
The character of the Rakatan force hound Xesh (meaning ‘X’) also becomes far more interesting that just another Darth Vader rehash. He’s very much trying to find his place in the world and still coming to grips with the concept of freedom. His shared connection with the female Je’daii Shae Koda, something that did make itself known in Force Storm and is further developed here.
I also liked the development of the other force hound Trill (meaning ‘T’) as she ingratiates herself with the Je’daii. There are no doubts to her loyalty, but watching her play a part was brilliant.
The other thing that was noteworthy was the history behind Tython and the force beings that first settled there. Even at this early point chronologically, there’s stories about what happened even before that. Made me smile.
The artwork is once again top-notch thanks to Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons, be it character, creature, vehicle or location. This may be set in the pre-history of the Star Wars universe, but it feels fresh and vibrant.
A stellar continuation from a novel period in the Star Wars saga and I’m eager to see where it goes.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: 183 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Dawn Of The Jedi III: Force War
Why I read it: Because I really, really wanted to find out what happens in this concluding story.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: Tython is now under full-scale attack from the Rakatan Infinite Empire. The Je’daii have finally realised the importance of exiled Daegen Lok’ vision and the force hound’s loyalties are tested, on both sides. With the fate of the galaxy in the balance, there’s nothing for it but all-out war.
Thoughts: This is one of the very last non-Disney Star Wars stories to come into existence and certainly goes out with the big bang. Set one year after the events of Prisoner of Bogdan. This was a terrific finale chock-full of exciting action, double-crosses and some very interesting developments. I liked how there was more detail in the back-story, but at no time was it to the detriment to the main story. There were also a couple of really interesting relational developments, particularly between Shae Koda and Xesh and, more surprisingly, between Trill and Sek’nos Rath.
The action was pretty full-on throughout, though the low-casualty-rate of named characters did take a bit of the suspense out of it. Apart from that little niggle, I really enjoyed this story and am saddened that this is it. The story did wrap up the trilogy, but there was certainly scope for more from this era and with these characters.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: 184 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Tales Of The Jedi #2: The Fall Of The Sith Empire
Why I read it: Venturing further and further on chronologically through my Star Wars collection.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Star Wars Novels: Progressing chronologically
What is it about?: Leia is kidnapped by a plague. Everyone else is so wrapped up in their own problems, nobody notices./td>
Thoughts: A mixed bag this time: Luke was poncing about looking for Callista; Han, Chewie and Lando were poncing about looking for Leia; R2-D2 and C-3PO were poncing about looking for a friendly face; Leia was poncing about… in general. It was a real shame, as there were some quite good ideas in here. There’s the former Jedi who happens to be a Hutt, giving a nice insight into the Hutt lore that’s not Jabba or his carbon copies, such as Durga. The Droch swarm was particularly brilliant, as they became more and more integral to the plot. Okay, I saw the big reveal regarding them from a mile away, but it made for a really interesting threat, not too dissimilar to one that Alex Scarrow more recently wrote about in his Remade series. I would like to have seen more of the Drochs, though, they were a little underutilised. It was also great seeing Leia finally stop dithering and use her lightsaber. I get that she has reservations about not wanting to follow her father’s path but her indecision and neurosis over it was getting annoying. She got a kick-ass lightsaber scene with a bucket-load of gore that should please fans of all types.
Unfortunately, though, this was a mess. There was a main story here, and it was okay, but it was buried under too much faff. On the whole, I’d say it was better than Children of the Jedi, it does have some redeeming features, but was nothing special in the end.
And why are there Echo Base troopers on the front cover? We don’t even visit Hoth or have anything resembling that scene happening in the story?
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake.
I’ve also read: 185 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: The Crystal Star
Why I read it: I’ve read some of these before, they’re rather harmless and I enjoy the forensic science of it.
Reading slot Killing time
What is it about?: During a mass-grave excavation in Guatemala at the site of one of the ’80s genocides, Temperance Brennan gets involved in an investigation following the discovery of human remains in a septic tank. What follows in a fight against an institution made up of those who perpetrated the genocide.
Thoughts: What made this stand out from the other books in this series (that I’ve read) is that because it’s based in Guatemala so there’s no French lessons. This time, instead of trying to teach the readers another language, vast chunks of the story are dedicated to bringing us up to speed on: Guatemalan massacres, DNA, cat hair, stem cells, infant skeletons and Spanish (it is based in Guatemala after all). I’d never even heard of the atrocities that befell the Guatemalan people at the behest of their own government, so that was a real eye-opener. Interspersed with all this information is a pretty decent detective story with the very capable Temperance drawing upon the author’s vast experience in forensic anthropology but not having a clue when it comes to men. The ‘romance’ angle was certainly the weakest aspect of this story, which may have been better without it at all.
I found the main motive behind the killings, when it was finally unearthed (see what I did there?) was a little far-fetched to me, but then it was written when the subject matter was in the forefront of the news, so maybe some bonus points there for originality and topical relevance?
A story I enjoyed reading at the time, but, excepting for certain real-life details, an otherwise forgettable one.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Temperance Brennan: Bones To Ashes; Crossbones; Deadly Decisions; Death Du Jour; Deja Dead
What’s next? Temperance Brennan VII: Monday Mourning
Why I read it: My wife’s Doctor Who collection was just sitting about minding its own business. One day, while warming a bottle of milk, I picked up The Clockwise Man and have been steadily going through the series ever since.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Wife’s book collection: Doctor Who
What is it about?: The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves in a French health retreat not long before the Revolution with little memory of who they are and what they’re doing there. There’s also strange goings on down on the beach.
Thoughts: Having read over forty of these now, I like to find things that make each book stand out from the rest. This one definitely has this quality by its storytelling method of letters, diaries and accounts from those found at the retreat as well as the befuddled time-travelling companions. What’s more, this method worked remarkably well for this story and gave it a good flavour of the era in which it was sent. The post-resolution reveal is also heavily tied into this format, which was another nice touch.
The plot itself was pretty average for Doctor Who (or completely amazing compared to the awful 2018 TV series, but don’t get me started on that…), but there were some very compelling characters, good twists and reveals as well as a resolution that differs from the norm. The setting was very traditional Doctor Who with the big rambling ‘house’ and the foggy exterior shots which gives it that charm of nostalgia for the older Doctor Who fans.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 42 other Doctor Who titles (including 1 from the Lost Adventures).
What’s next? Doctor Who: Prisoner Of The Daleks (recently acquired hence not read it in sequence).
Why I read it: I had been reading the silly stories from my Star Wars: Tales collection to my children and they particularly enjoyed the Tag & Bink Are Dead segment. This was the logical next step.
Reading slot Reading to: both my boys
What is it about?: In a parody of the Star Wars films, the story follows two hapless rebel troopers on the Tantive IV as it’s boarded by Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers. They proceed to haphazardly blunder from one significant Star Wars scene to the next.
Thoughts: Told in four parts – covering episodes 4, 5, 6 and the prequel trilogy – this enjoyable send-up is clearly made of fans for fans with many in-jokes and references casual Star Wars readers may not pick up on. More blatantly are the unlikely cameos, such as Buzz Lightyear, an exploding Krypton and various robots from other franchises. What’s particularly amusing are the number of Disney references in here despite this being published six years before they bought it.
The story itself is pretty weak and relies heavily on the visual gags, twists of the established lore, how they end up in almost every significant scene from the films and fun artwork. From finding Chewie’s ungifted medal on Yavin 4, being disguised as one of Jabba’s henchmen and accidentally shooting Luke’s robot hand to being the Imperial Royal Guards who, when told to ‘Leave us’ go round the back of the elevator to find no second door there and spend the rest of the movie sitting there.
However, it’s the prequel segment where the writing really picks up. Along with more visual gags, there was more of an attempt to make a cohesive story that actually works and brilliantly lampooned many of the questionable scenes (particularly with Anakin and Padme on Naboo – ‘”I hate sand?” What were you thinking?’). It was a shame this was so short.
Not the best send-ups of the franchise, but lovingly done, brilliantly illustrated and is a joy to read if you’re willing to take it all at face value.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 186 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
Why I read it: Unpacking boxes after moving house I found my comic collection. Ha ha haa!
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: After surviving Order 66, Jedi Das Jannir joins forces with Separatist soldier Bomo Greenbark to get off-planet on a mission to find and save the Nosaurian’s wife and daughter.
Thoughts: With the title of Dark Times and The Path To Nowhere there should be ample hint as to mood of the book. This well-written and beautifully illustrated story highlights the changes a person must make when everything they represent and stand for has been taken away. The Jedi, Das Jennir, finds himself having to compromise on his Jedi ways more and more as who he was cannot be who he needs to be.
The other main character, Bomo Greenbark, must also make changes after losing his home, his family and everything he knows. His journey is a very poignant one where he often finds that his emotionally-charged motives are stymied by both foe and friends alike.
The crew that the two end up on their adventures with has a lot of characters in it who don’t get that much of the limelight and, excepting their visual differences, there was not much to make any of them stand out. A shame, as there is enough given to know that there is a history behind every one of them.
As mentioned, the story does take some dark turns, which are wonderfully complimented by the gritty style of artwork making this a brilliant entrance to an era that, at the time, had only been hinted at.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: 187 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Dark Times II: Parallels
Why I read it: I enjoyed reading this before, and fancied giving it another go.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Tom Sharpe
What is it about?: An old Cambridge college steeped in tradition is shaken to its very foundations when the newly appointed Master announces his intentions to bring it into the modern age with unthinkable changes such as taking in female students.
Thoughts: Not as uproariously funny as some of Tom Sharpe’s other works, this still had me chuckling in a few places, particularly whenever the doomed Zipser was involved. Apart from that, this is a cutting satirical look at backwards and bigoted attitudes that, despite being published back in 1974, is still unfortunately relevant to a greater or lesser degree today. One could argue that some of the more offensive throwaway comments in this book (and other of Tom Sharpe’s works) are a product of the times, but I get the impression that the writer was acutely aware of the social attitudes inherent in persons from certain class circles and took every effort to call them out on it.
Actually, of the books I’ve read from this author, this is probably one of the more inoffensive and shocking. The humour is also far less overt, instead there was more of a common undertone of “look at these pillocks with their out-of-date ways.” Amusing, but not really chuckle-worthy. As mentioned, the inclusion of the student Zipser did make for some of the more memorable moments but, unfortunately, his exploits were cut off far too early in the book leaving a vacuum that wasn’t filled by anything else.
If you haven’t read any of Tom Sharpe’s works I would recommend this as a possible starter, it’s not too offensive, reasonably funny (hilarious at times) and the satire is still quite relevant (which is worrying).
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Ancestral Vices; The Great Pursuit; Indecent Exposure; The Midden; Riotous Assembly; The Throwback; Wilt;Vintage Stuff; The Wilt Alternative; Wilt On High
What’s next? Riotous Assembly (a reread)
Why I read it: I’ve got all this stuff, I thought I might actually read it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: The crew of the Uhumele find themselves involved in a double-triple cross when attempting to sell a mysterious artefact while the Whiphid Jedi K’kruhk does his best to keep some Jedi children safe.
Thoughts: This has a couple of really obvious differences to The Path To Nowhere: the absence of the Jedi Das Jennir (who’s now gone his own way) and the change of artist. Now, the Jennir’s absence wasn’t a problem and actually gave the writers an opportunity to give a little more detail about the Uhumele’s crew – particularly regarding the human female Crys. Something that was only hinted about in The Path To Nowhere is finally revealed in full, giving the character far more exposure. Something that the new artist was also keen on doing. Somehow, since meeting Bomo Greenbark and Das Jennir, her bust has suddenly swelled a few sizes and her clothing is barely able to cope with such a change. This, coupled with some really interesting wardrobe changes and PoVs somewhat cheapens her character from a woman mourning the loss of her family, to eye-candy. This is especially exaggerated when compared to her more conservative portrayals in the preceding The Path To Nowhere and subsequent Vector Vol. 1. What’s also worth pointing out is that the other prominent human female, Chase Piru, is drawn a lot less provocatively (actually, she could be mistaken for being male in a few panels) – she’s also black…
That’s quite a lot written about the artwork, but when a story is largely portrayed in a pictorial form, it is important, particularly if it distracts the reader from the plot.
The plot itself was largely empty, with two ‘parallel’ stories running along in tandem. The only thing linking the two are that Crys’s believed-to-be-dead son is one of the young padawan’s under K’kruhk’s care. A point so meaningless (due to the subsequent events in Vector – Crys never finds out he survived) that it’s a wonder it was even there in the first place. Also, after stealing from the Uhumele a group of thieves crash land on the very moon that K’kruhk is hiding out on. What a coincidence – that also has no relevance to anything at all.
However, unlike the Dawn Of The Jedi stories I read earlier this month, there are permanent consequences for the crew of the Uhumele with the loss of not one, but two of their number (not counting Jass), and then next up it’s Vector which now has the emotional impact it lacked when I read it earlier out of context.
Also, Bomo’s “I think I got that out of my system” scene was a pretty epic conclusion to what he’s gone though both physically and emotionally in the last two story arcs.
Score: Worth reading.
I’ve also read: 188 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Dark Times IV: Blue Harvest
Why I read it: I’ve ready the rest of my wife’s Sherlock Holmes collection, might as well finish it off.
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Wife’s book collection: Sherlock Holmes
What is it about?: Twelve more accounts of Sherlock Holmes as he solves cases both large and small.
Thoughts: It is clear that by this point Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has lost all interest in his characters. This collection contains nothing new, and very little in the way of deductive reasoning – The Adventure of the Veiled Tennant is barely a detective story at all and is simply story where someone confesses what they did. Gone are Sherlock’s trademark observations of shoe scuff-marks, ink-stained shirt cuffs and anything else that made his stories worth reading. I would say The Problem of Thor Bridge was perhaps the cleverer and more fulfilling tale of the bunch. None are particularly dreadful (excepting The Adventure of the Creeping Man which was pretty shoddy and far-removed from reality), but most were totally forgettable.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake.
I’ve also read: The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes; The Hound Of The Baskervilles; The Mammoth Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures; The Return Of Sherlock Holmes; The Sign Of Four; A Study In Scarlet
What’s next? Something from the JAR OF MYSTERY
Why I read it: This was a book I’d ordered off Amazon and I cancelled the order after a year of waiting for it. Finally found a means to read it, so I did.
Reading slot Online Comic Library – Gap Filling
What is it about?: After a pair of hyperspace lane trailblazers stumble upon Korriban and the Sith Empire, they unwittingly lead the Sith to the heart of the Republic.
Thoughts: Considering when these comics were written, they have aged terribly! The artwork is very old-school and retracts from the story hugely – the same can be said for the entire Tales Of The Jedi series. None of the characters have any depth to them and very little thought beyond reacting to what is before them.
The story itself has more merit as a ‘historical’ bit of interest. Particularly how the Massassi temples came to be on on Yavin and the Jedi archives came to be on Ossus.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake.
I’ve also read: 189 other Star Wars titles, and 2 Disney Star Wars titles.
What’s next? Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi IV: Dark Lords Of The Sith
Why I read it: I saw this in the library and wanted to try something else by Hugh Howey having read the Silo trilogy.
Reading slot 1 library book a month (at least)
What is it about?: In a post-apocalyptic world that has been buried by sand, sand divers wearing specialised suits that allow them to ‘swim’ through the sand search hundreds of meters below the dunes to scavenge from the lost cities. Unfortunately, not everyone is seeking wealth.
Thoughts: This was a difficult story to pin down. Not much on the cover or blurb gave much away about its content; the beginning was an adventure exploration which was then completely abandoned for the rest of the book. In fact, the main plot of the story didn’t really become apparent until well over halfway. However, both the characters and setting were strong enough to make that not matter too much. Yes, I was stuck with a sense of “What is going on?” but the characters made me care and the fascinating sand-diving technology and implementations were really enjoyable with some surprising uses.
My main issue was the sudden conclusion to the story. I was a couple of pages from the end thinking “this is not going to get wrapped up in time” then it did, but all off-page. The conclusion made sense, but I felt left out of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a sequel chronicling the lead up to the end event. I would certainly welcome one.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The Silo Trilogy: Wool; Shift; Dust
What’s next? The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter & Alistair Reynolds
Why I read it: It’s an Aliens story I’ve not read…
Reading slot Spur of the moment library acquisition
What is it about?: Aliens, humans, Predators and Engineers are all fighting each other.
Thoughts: Whenever I pick up a book or graphic novel, I check the front, spine and inside cover to see if it’s the first in a series. This book had no indication as to its numerical positioning so I assumed, as with most books thus unmarked, that it’s the first. I read it, it had lots of combat with aliens and humans dying in nice, visceral ways, but hadn’t the first clue as to what was going on. After finishing the book, I examined the cover again and spotted, in the bottom right-hand corner of the back cover “Book 3”. Not the most prominent of positions for such an important piece of information, but it at least explained a lot. Subsequent research shows that this is part of a 4-book crossover event from Predator, Prometheus, Aliens & Aliens Vs. Predator (in that order, I believe).
So, based on the merit of this book, the artwork was okay, nothing particularly special but also drawn and coloured with a slightly cartoony flair. The action scenes were intense with a lot going on in them. Not knowing who the characters were meant that there was little emotional impact accompanying their demise (but I can’t blame a book for reading it out of order…). The story itself was unoriginal for the franchise, using many plot points from the films and other books though I would say the Engineer vs. Xenomorph Queen vs. Predator which was pretty cool in the few panels it features in.
Score: Boring – Nonsensical
I’ve also read: Aliens: Bug Hunt; Cauldron; Earth Hive; The Female War; The Labyrinth; Music Of The Spears; Nightmare Asylum
Predator: Big Game; Cold War; Concrete Jungle; If It Bleeds; Flesh And Blood
Aliens Vs. Predator: Hunter’s Planet; Prey; The Rage War Trilogy; War
Why I read it: We’ve started watching the TV series and, as my wife happens to have a copy of book 1, I thought I’d try it.
Reading slot 3 Graphic Novels a month (at least)
What is it about?: During an annual reunion a group of kids discover that their parents are actually a group of super villains and discover other unexpected things about themselves.
Thoughts: As with most book-to-TV adaptations, the two are quite different, yet similar in a lot of ways, yet, in this case, both iterations are equally strong (depending on personal opinions). Being written first, the book has a lot less ‘meat’ or ‘filler’ in it so speeds along at a good pace making it very readable. What stood out most for me was how funny it was; it’s not a comedy, and gets dark in places, but this had my chuckling quite a few times due to the rich and snappy dialogue. The cartoon-style artwork worked well and it was refreshing to see ‘normal’-looking characters that didn’t come out of the ‘beautiful people of Hollywood’ catalogue. The reads very much like an ‘origin story’ with most of the kids discovering their secrets. By the end of the book, everything feels set up and ready to go on to great things. However, this isn’t just the set-up for the next book, but a satisfying journey in its own right.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? Runaways Book 2
Why I read it: I’ve come this far…
Reading slot Active TBR Cycle: Horror
What is it about?: A former ventriloquist and dummy collector comes home with a discarded dummy. Its not long before his children start finding themselves in trouble.
Thoughts: I’ve not read the first two stories featuring Slappy the evil dummy but found this actually wasn’t too bad. There’s the usual pathetic chapter-ending scares that turn out to be nothing. The ‘fear-factor’ is pretty low, though it does play on the creepiness of the dolls. However, where it finds its strength is the building level of repercussions for the children as the chaos ensues. As usual, none of the adults know what’s really going on leaving the children to answer for all the things that happen, giving a strong feeling of unfairness. There was also a good use of misdirection in terms of which dummy or dummies was/were the perpetrator(s). Yes, it’s obviously the new one found in a dustbin with its head broken in half, but is it only that one? So kudos for adding a bit of intrigue there.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 31 other Goosebumps books.
What’s next? Goosebumps LIII: Chicken Chicken

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

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February 2019 Books Read Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

January 2019 Books Read Wrap Up

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

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

My Worst 10 Reads of 2018

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

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

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

1

My Best 10 Reads of 2018

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

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

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