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June 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Fourteen titles completed this month. So what were they and what did I think of them?
If you can’t be bothered doing that reading this, then here’s my vlog of the same:

Why I read it: Reading these to the kids while staying with the grandparents. And why now?
What is it about?: More collected comic strips chronicling the exploits of Legionnaire Beau Peep and the loonies surrounding him.
Thoughts: As usual with these collected comic strips, there’s no overarching plot or story. Just a series of jokes that resort to the daft end of humour to elicit a laugh. Something that I did a fair bit in this brilliant book.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Most of Beau Peep books 1-20
What’s next? Beau Peep Book VI
Why I read it: I liked the cover.
What is it about?: An interrogated woman gives her life story to explain how she became a killer for the Bad Monkeys secret organisation and why she came to kill a man not on the list.
Thoughts: This was certainly a little different to what I normally read. I can’t say much without giving up the plot but this read really easily, the main character, though not entirely likeable, kept my attention throughout. The humour was dark and reserved and the suspense was well delivered. The ending was a bit unexpected but did explain much of the later events in the book.
Score: Worth reading

And my Vlog review of Bad Monkeys:

Why I read it: I picked this us from the library at the same time I did book 1. I enjoyed the first one, so why not continue…?
What is it about?: It’s a few months since the events of the first volume and the group have lost a few members, but picked up some others.
Thoughts: Not quite as fun as volume one, this does fall into the standard zombie survival adventure. The compelling characters and innovative new zombie ideas still keeps the story fresh however. The artwork remains vibrant and enjoyable.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Wrecking Crew 4 Lyfe
What’s next? Fanboys Vs Zombies III: Escape From San Diego
Why I read it: I’d previously read The Humans also by Matt Haig and fancied trying another of his books.
What is it about?: An urban family try to live normal lives in a normal society. This is not so easy given that they are vampires and their teenage children are now struggling with more than just raging hormones.
Thoughts: This was an interesting take on the vampire genre. It takes the nature versus nurture aspect to the extreme. The characters were compelling, each with their own hang-ups and quirks. It was funny when it needed to be, unexpectedly bloody in places and a satisfying dig at family conformity.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The Humans
Why I read it: Rereading these to my boys. We’re all loving every minute of it.
What is it about?: A collected comic strip chronicling the daft humans and animals living in the animal sanctuary: Liberty Meadows.
Thoughts: More great artwork and hilarious gags that can be appreciated by young and old alike (though some of the more risque gags were quickly glossed over). Highly recommended for anyone who likes to laugh.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: All 4 Liberty Meadows books
What’s next? Liberty Meadows IV: Cold, Cold Heart
Why I read it: Started reading this series from the library and really enjoying them.
What is it about?: Ghostbusters, they fight ghosts. This time they have a rival group who use a different and ultimately more problematic method.
Thoughts: Great fun, good one-liners and a stylised artwork that’s really grown on me. Actually, it’s quite surprising that the Ghostbusters don’t have more competitors out there. Full of all the great ghost busting stuff we wanna see. Shame I’m not reading these in the right order. This one did have lots of foreshadowing that features in the next volume, which I read first.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The New Ghostbusters; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters
Why I read it: My son wanted me to read it to him…so I did.
What is it about?: Brothers Hal and Roger travel to the South Pacific to collect more specimens for their father’s zoo contacts as well as embark on a side-expedition to check up on a pearl growing experiment.
Thoughts: I have the fondest memories of being read this book when I was little and much of my love (and knowledge) of the sea has come from this book (and Blue Planet – obviously). The descriptions of the animals and locations have stayed with me all these years and paint such a vibrant picture of the story being told. It’s important to remember the era this was written, however, when reading this as there are certain attitudes and expressions which don’t go down well in today’s mindset.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Adventures: Amazon; Arctic; Diving; Elephant; Lion; Safari; Underwater; Whale
What’s next? Underwater Adventure
Why I read it: Currently working my way through some classic sci-fo
What is it about?: A crew who survay uninhabited planets within the human sphere have a series of adventures.
Thoughts: This reads more like a short story collection as the crew run through an episodic sequence of situations. This was an enjoyable romp that perhaps suffered from no discernible character development. Some fun ideas here.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Killer Planet; Medusa’s Children; Night Walk; The Two-Timers; Warren Peace: Who Goes Here?
What’s next? Orbitsville
Why I read it: I’ve been reading through my Michael Crichton collection and this reread is the last one to go.
What is it about?: An expedition to the Congo is mysteriously attacked by something resembling a gorilla, so a second team is sent in accompanied by a sign-language speaking gorilla.
Thoughts: It’s been at least 20 years since I last read this and remembered it so vividly. Some wonderfully thought out concepts and technologies – all written before 1980. In that some of it has dated a little, but not nearly as much as the awful film.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Jurassic Park; Jurassic Park: The Lost World; Next; Prey; The Sphere; State Of Fear; The Terminal Man; Timeline
What’s next? Riftwar I: Magician
Why I read it: Marvin the Martian meets Martian Manhunter, that’s why.
What is it about?: In a bizarre crossover the heroes of DC find themselves matching up with the zany characters from Looney Tunes.
Thoughts: This was a lot of fun. This features a series of tales featuring two accounts of particular pairing. In each case, one is told in the DC Superhero style of artwork and story and then there’s a second story told in the Looney Tunes style and artwork. Buggs Bunny meeting the future super quad was entertaining, particularly the editor’s commentary but it was unfortunate that the Loony Tunes story was just a retelling of the original. Both stories for Marvin the Marian meeting Martian Manhunter were great. Wonder Woman meeting the Tasmanian Devil was an interesting idea that perhaps went on a bit too long. Wil E Coyote swapping places with Lobo was by far the funniest and my favourite pairing in this book. Batman and Elma Fudd took a brilliant Film Noir style approach with a bar full of humanised Looney Tunes. Then followed the ever brilliant Duck Season sketch, but this time it’s Bat Season!
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: I’d recently read the first three and found this matching 4th book in a charity shop.
What is it about?: The animals on the river bank are getting older and finding they have new responsibilities, particularly when a developer sets his sights on the Wild Woods.
Thoughts: This is without a doubt the end of the series. It’s a very bittersweet tale of life and the passage of years and the end of things. I must confess I was a mess by the end of this one. Full of the delicate charm of the rest of the series, this one also packs one hell of a punch.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Wind In The Willows; The Willows In Winter; Toad Triumphant
What’s next? Inkworld III: Inkdeath
Why I read it: It’s one of the dwindling Terry Pratchett books I’ve not read yet.
What is it about?: A series of Terry’s earlier short stories, largely set in his fictional town of Blueberry.
Thoughts: This is more your younger readers but fans of the Discworld series may enjoy spotting the origins of some of the ideas that were started here. Most notably was The Computer who believed in Santa who has more than a passing resemblance to Hex (built by Ponder Stibbons of the Unseen University). These are fun if otherwise forgettable stories written by a young man yet to find his niche. The text is literally spruced up by being differing fonts and sizes and are accompanied by Quentin Wilson’s illustrations.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: All of Discworld; Johnny Maxwell trilogy; Bromeliad trilogy; Dodger; Nation; The Dark Side Of The Sun; The Long Earth series (with Stephen Baxter); Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman) The Carpet People; The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner; The Dragons At Crumbling Castle
What’s next? Nation
Why I read it: As my all-time favourite series, I am constantly rereading them. This one’s next.
What is it about?: In a parody of the story Faust, a young necromancer attempts to summon a demon to grant him three wishes. What he gets is the failed wizard Rincewind and more than he bargained for.
Thoughts: I don’t know the story which this is parodying but really enjoy this nonetheless. This time round I read the fully illustrated version which is stuffed full of spectacular pieces of art. Terry’s unique view on the world and his wonderful wit shines through marvellously.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: See above
What’s next? Discworld: Moving Pictures
Why I read it: I’ve been enjoying this series even though I’ve been getting them out of order from the library.
What is it about?: Ghosts get busted by a bunch of ‘professionals’, this time a mysterious benefactor sends them to do a job abroad.
Thoughts: Still filled with a good dose of fun and adventure, even if it’s filled with foreshadowing for a later volume. Not as strong as the other ones I’ve read, but still good.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The New Ghostbusters; Who Ya Gonna Call?; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters

My July TBR Vlog:

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May 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Fifteen titles completed this month. What were they and what did I think of them?
If you can’t be bothered with the reading malarkey, here’s my vlog of the same:

Why I read it: I’ve already read the first two of the trilogy, might as well finish it off.
What is it about?: Someone has weaponised the Xenomorphs and are using them to conquer the human sphere. Humans and Yauja must team up to stop the mutual threat.
Thoughts: After two pretty solid books on the developing Rage War, this final entry was a little bit of a letdown. Despite the losses in the previous books, this did suffer a bit from having too many characters, many of which were just hanging around not doing very much. The Xenomorph attacks were just there to be violent, with the motivation behind the attacks as whimsical as ‘just because’. Again the team ups between human and predator made for some awesome scenes, but I can’t help feeling this trilogy would have been better as a duology. The ending was a bold move, and has certainly left things open for some potentially really interesting stories.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The Rage War: Predator: Incursion; Alien: Invasion
Aliens: Bug Hunt; Cauldron; Earth Hive; The Female War; Genocide; The Labyrinth; The Music Of The Spears; Nightmare Asylum
Predator: Big Game; Cold War; Concrete Jungle; Flesh And Blood; If It Bleeds
Aliens Vs. Predator: Hunter’s Planet; Prey; War
What’s next? June’s book of the month of course (don’t know yet)

My vlog review of AVP:

Why I read it: After 2 books and a prequel, I need answers damnit!
What is it about?: A bunch of kids are put through torturous and deadly trials for an increasingly unlikely reason. Hopefully everything is justified here.
Thoughts: Don’t waste your time with this series. The first book had the charm at least of its setting and questions to be answered later. Unfortunately, by the time I got to this book, I’d stopped caring about the characters, the questions were circumvented or just pointless and the ending was a moist guff of air. A story that really suffered from having a great concept, but no good follow through.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
I’ve also read: Kill Order; The Maze Runner; The Scorch Trials
Why I read it: My wife had picked this up in the library and I finished reading Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams to her whilst we were staying with my parents. I started reading this to her…then read her the whole thing.
What is it about?: Kellen is on the cusp of becoming a mage, but a set of circumstances threatens everything he has worked so hard to accomplish.
Thoughts: This was quite the surprise. Not having picked the book myself, I had no idea what I was getting myself in for. I was immediately enamoured by the lead character in his self-depreciating manner. All the main characters were very enjoyable to read even if the bad guys were perhaps a little generic.
It was great seeing how this story was able to deconstruct the civilisation that Kellen took so much for granted.
There was a good magic system that made sense and followed its own set of well thought-out rules.
We enjoyed this so much we promised ourselves to keep an eye out for book two.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? The Seventh Kenning I: A Plague Of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Why I read it: Spotted this in the library and thought I’d give it a go. Particularly as they rarely stock book 1 of anything.
What is it about?: While dropping a notorious pirate from her past into space prison, Blue finds herself having to join forces with him to survive an unexpected betrayal.
Thoughts: I appreciated the complex world that has been created here, even though none of the aspects were particularly fleshed out. The story itself ploughed along easily enough with some nice unexpected turns. The main issue I had with this story was the relationship between Blue and the pirate, which felt forced and unnecessary and really bogged the story down in places.
I’m glad I read it, but I’m also glad I borrowed it. Will look out for book 2 as there was enough here to keep me interested.
Score: Worth reading
What’s next? The Radleys by Matt Haig
Why I read it: I’d already read book I: Eden to my kids, so why not press on?
What is it about?: A collected comic strip chronicling the exploits of the humans and animals inhabiting the animal sanctuary Liberty Meadows.
Thoughts: Separate volumes of collected comic strips are never that distinctive but I can say that the quality of the artwork and humour has remained just as high as it was with book one. Admittedly, this can get a little risque for children, so I’ve had to edit or quickly pass over certain panels. We all enjoyed this one.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Liberty Meadows: Eden; Summer Of Love; Cold, Cold Heart
What’s next? Liberty Meadows III: Summer Of Love
Why I read it: Because it’s the next one chronologically I’ve got but haven’t read yet, that’s why.
What is it about?: Han, Chewbacca and Leia and investigating a mystery on a planet. Meanwhile, a badly injured Luke, aided by C-3P0 fights to survive on an automated installation set to destroy the planet Han and Leia are on
Thoughts: This really is a book of two halves. Luke’s chapters are gripping and really move the story along. The chapters on the planet are so slow and uninteresting I couldn’t even remember what the mystery was while reading the book. I was wanting to get on and see what Luke was getting up to. The action-packed conclusion just sort of fizzled out with a …to be continued, which was a bit annoying.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars.
What’s next? More Star Wars
Why I read it: I’d previously borrowed it from the library and had read the main story, but not the penny dreadful at the back. Thought I’d give it another go.
What is it about?: Quaitermass, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jeckyll, Captain Nemo and WHF??? are recruited by a mysterious character to recover a special artefact.
Thoughts: Despite the really interesting premise and the superhero-style match-up, this was a real failure of execution. None of the characters were likable or relatable, the story was unnecesarily long-winded and the artwork is not nice to say the least. The penny dreadful at the end really was dreadful, again despite the great ideas that went into it. The film was so much better than this.
Score: Main story: Worth reading. Penny dreadful: Boring – just plain dull.
I’ve also read: The League Of Extraordinay Gentlement Vol. 2
Why I read it: I enjjoyed the TV series and was curious about the origional storyline. Put it off for ages due do the black and white artwork.
What is it about?: In the zombie apocalypse surviving isn’t just food, water, shelter and keeping the undead away. In this volume Michonne has a change to get her revenge on the Governor.
Thoughts: Wow, I though the previous issue was hard reading. Michonne doesn’t pull any punches here. Let’s just say the live-action version of the Governor gets off very lightly. Other stuff also happened, but they sort of paled in comparison to the main and very graphic event.
Score: Worth reading.
I’ve also read: The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye; Miles Behind Us; Safety Behind Bars; The Best Defence; The Heart’s Desire
What’s next? The Walking Dead VII; The Calm Before
Why I read it: Determined to read all the Goosebumps in the house. Beginning to wonder if it’s worth it.
What is it about?: A boy and a friend get the chance to be the first to try out his dad’s brand new horror theme park, but not all is at it appears.
Thoughts: I started of genuinely thinking this one had promise. No, it wasn’t scary at all but it did have that increasing sense of unease. That is, until the final twist is revealed and the whole thing turned to pure garbage.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: Quite a few Goosebumps now.
What’s next? Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask II
Why I read it: Gotta read five of these…
What is it about?: Despite the chaos it cause last year, a complete nitwit bullies the previous victim of the haunted mask as to where she got it from. He then deserves everything coming to him.
Thoughts: This guy was probably the bully in the previous story and comes across as a complete knob. Everything he does is stupid and annoying and the whole story just didn’t do anything.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: Lots of Goosebumps, not many good ones.
What’s next? Goosebumps: Bad Hare Day
Why I read it: Because…that’s why! This is also a reread.
What is it about?: A fan of stage magic sneaks out one evening to see his hero perform, then steals his bag of tricks.
Thoughts: This is one of the better Goosebumps I’ve read lately, with a likeable lead who makes, if not the best choices, at least justifiable ones. Once he started playing with the magic tricks (which, of course, turned out to be real magic) I thought we’d really get to see something…but no. Opportunity massively missed there. The twist at the end was a good one, if you don’t think about it too much.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read:
What’s next? Goosebumps: Egg Monsters From Mars
Why I read it: I’d previous borrowed this from the library and now that I’m adding graphic novels to my goodreads, I thought I’d reread it so I could write this ‘review’.
What is it about?: Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade want to get married. Many are happy with this arrangement. Others…not so much.
Thoughts: For the most part, this is a gentle wedding preamble as the happy couple got through their preparations and talk about their worries. Nothing terribly exciting but all very non-threatening too. Interspersed in all this are a group of Empire sympathisers who want to cause an upheaval. Obviously, they fail and the final resolution is a little meh, but does send the message the New Republic desperately needs. My main criticism is the artwork which is cited on the back as being ‘illustrated with photographic realism’. That Luke looks like Christopher Walken in one panel and Tommy Lee-Jones in another does make me question the validity of this statement.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: More Star Wars books to list than I’ve got room for.
Why I read it: Some reason I’ve forgotten now.
What is it about?: During an egg hunt, one lad finds an egg that’s not come from a chicken…or anything from this planet.
Thoughts: I remember reading this one before but had forgotten most of it because Buffy The Vampire Slayer did a similar story line so much better. Anyway, this was okay and followed a reasonably logical sequence of events without any real panache. I did like the twist at the end though.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Quite a few Goosebumps now.
What’s next? Goosebumps: Night Of The Living Dummy III
Why I read it: ‘Cos I said so.
What is it about?: Kids get lost in the woods. End up playing a game with some monsters.
Thoughts: I have no memory of reading this one before and I know I did. Nothing in here was scary, only irritating or annoying. Even the twist at the end.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
I’ve also read: Too many of these now.
What’s next? Goosebumps: Night Of The Living Dummy III
Why I read it: A fun-looking read I spotted in the library
What is it about?: A group of friends with history go to the Comic Con in San Diego. Then the zombies start doing their thing.
Thoughts: This was even more fun than I’d thought. A true zombie apocalypse story taken in some interesting new directions. The artwork was fun and vibrant and the characters really bounced off of each other. It was also fun seeing all the zombies wearing various cosplay outfits.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? Fanboys Vs. Zombies II: Appetite For Destruction

Here’s my TBR for the month of June:

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April 2018 Book Wrap-Up

I managed 13 books this month.
What were they and what did I think of them?
If you don’t fancy doing that reading thing, here’s my video of the same sort of thing:

Why I read it: We enjoyed the Channel 4 TV series of the same name, and saw this as a great opportunity to read the original stories the episodes were based upon to my wife.
What is it about?: This is a short story collection by Philip K. Dick.
Thoughts: Having not read much from Philip K. Dick (The Cosmic Puppets being the only title so far), it was interesting to be exposed to some more of his work. Certainly, compared to other science fiction authors, his stories have not dated brilliantly, hence the TV series that updated them. Having said that, he had some very intriguing observations to make about the human species and the human condition that is as true today as it was when there were written.
The stories themselves were not too long, so made for an easy consumption over a fortnight of one story a night (with the final story being a little longer). Each one sucked us in very quickly and left us with a fair bit to discuss afterwards. This is the hallmark of a great science fiction story: the ability to bring out discussion about them afterwards.
Score: Worth reading
What’s next? Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Why I read it: I was contacted by the author, David Meredith on Twitter asking if I would like to try his self-published book. As he was good enough to post me a free copy of course I was going to read it. It turned up right at the beginning of the month so I made it April’s book of the month.
What is it about?: A dying girl is given the opportunity to cheat death whilst her sister finds herself thrust into the limelight as she becomes the face of the company with this new technology.
Thoughts: I honestly had no idea what this was about so had no preconceptions about it. The story typically bounced between the two sisters and with only the occasional focus on another character. There was enough going on with both girls that it didn’t matter which one the story turned to, I was interested to know what happens with them next. With some stories that do this, there’s that one character that you don’t care about at all and you just want to get that chapter over with so you can get back to the stuff you want to read. I found Aaru didn’t suffer from this, perhaps excepting the Miracle Man chapters – but there weren’t that many of them.
I found the realm of Aaru – the virtual place where the dying sister finds herself to be nicely imaginative, though perhaps lacking a level of detail that I personally would have preferred. However, it is left suitably vague to allow readers to fill the blanks themselves. There are some interesting choices regarding the interaction with the outside world which are flummoxing, but it goes to show just how a manufactured utopia/heaven can only ever be flawed.
Meanwhile, the sister experiences first-hand the meaning of being a celebrity with the big question over whether the benefits really do outweigh the downfalls.
If nothing else, this story certainly does a good job being a science fiction story by giving the reader plenty to think about and talk about if they know others who have read it. With big subjects such as the afterlife, the morality of cheating dead, being famous and how it can only take one or two individuals to completely ruin something for everyone else. It is a book that I still think about nearly a month after reading it and one that will stay with me for a good while still.
The writing flowed in a way that allowed a very easy read with the science and neurology explanations being not at all condescending.
Also check out my video review:
Score: Buy it
What’s next? The Rage War 3: Aliens Vs. Predator: Armageddon
Why I read it: I’ve already read the first two of the series and enjoyed them immensely. Thankfully spotted this in the local library.
What is it about?: The Pirate Stream, a magical sea that connects worlds, is under threat of being erased from existence, leaving the crew of the Enterprising Kraken to race against the clock to try to avert disaster.
Thoughts: Where the first two books were more of an exploratory adventure, this really kept the pulse going with its intense overhanging threat. Some new characters added to the mix kept things interesting between the existing characters and the final revelation, though seen coming, was quite the kick in the teeth. As before, this book contains some wonderful illustrations that really do help immerse the reader in the world on the Pirate Streem.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: Spotted this lying about my parents’ house, thought I’d give it a go.
What is it about?: This chronicles the highs and lows of James Herriot’s first year as a practising country vet in rural Yorkshire in the early to mid 1900s.
Thoughts: No so much a story as a series of anecdotal tales. Each chapter focuses on one of Herriot’s experiences either with the animals, the farmers, the locals or with the vet in charge. They are informative and for the most part humorous. This was quite the eye opener on just how different life is now compared with seventy years ago.
Score: Worth reading


Why I read it: Finished going through all the Calvin and Hobbs books with the boys (co-read by my father so I can’t count them on my books read list). Not read these for a while and thought the boys might like them.
What is it about?: A collected cartoon strip (featured in The Star) following Legionnaire Bert “Beau” Peep who has joined the French Foreign Legion to get away from his horrific girlfriend.
Thoughts: These comics strips are chock-full of hilarious and silly gags as it seems as if everyone in the desert is either stark raving bonkers, or just plain stupid. From Beau trying to communicate effectively with his terminally stupid best friend Denis Pratt to trying to face something the disgustingly unhygienic and inept cook Ego has prepared, the humour is always silly and mostly very funny. I’ve listed books 1, 2 and 4 together here, as they’re simply different volumes of the same comic strip meaning that there’s nothing really in one book that isn’t in the others, just a continual enjoyment..
Score: Buy it
What’s next? Beau Peep book 5, of course.
Why I read it: I bought this for my younger son, and in retaliation, he’s made me read it to him.
What is it about?: Four young people discover that they have been destined to become dragonriders and be paired up with a dragon of their own and go on adventures. It’s a shame that one of them is deathly afraid of dragons, and heights.
Thoughts: My son enjoyed this story very much and is eagerly waiting for me to get him the next one. I found it reasonably harmless, if a bit dull. The concept of the dragonrider who’s so terrified of their matched dragon that they throw up was interesting but did have the obvious trope of overcoming her fears. There was a villain, of sorts who wanted to hunt the dragons but with only a minor altercation, there wasn’t much more to that side story (there was one thing, but it was a little subtle and my son missed it).
Score: Worth reading: to a child
What’s next? Muddle Earth Too
Why I read it: I’m still working my way through my Star Wars graphic novels.
What is it about?: A cabal of masterless Jedi leave the order in an attempt to assassinate the maniacal mechanical menace.
Thoughts: I have read this one before and had very little memory of it. Having just read it again, I still don’t really remember it. The story is so simple it’s instantly forgettable and the poor artwork lacked any dynamic action. It read simply enough, if a little too simple.
Score: Worth reading: for completeness sake.
What’s next? Star Wars: Droids
Why I read it: I spotted this in the local library and thought I’d try it.
What is it about?: Mysterious medical deaths are occurring and it’s left to a team of specialists to discover who’s been dabbling with what dodgy substances.
Thoughts: This had a distinct X-Files feel to it, with the main characters being very reminiscent of Mulder and Scully (excepting that the Mulder character talks to the memory of a woman he killed and who is a continued presence to him). This volume deals with two cases: invisibility and werewolves. I very much enjoyed the stories and the directions in which they took. It was particularly refreshing when they bumped off a major character in the second of the two stories, a particularly grisly scene.
Some very interesting characters couple with a gritty plot and artwork made this a very enjoyable read.
Bring on volume 2 please.
Score: Booktastic
Why I read it: I’ve finally gotten round to reading the rest of this series.
What is it about?: After solving the titular Maze, the group of survivors find themselves facing an even bigger challenge: to cross the burned wasteland known as the Scorch.
Thoughts: Like with the last book, this one still is quite reserved regarding any answers or explanations as to why, as a reader, I should care. Thomas seems to be an okay character, but one who is so clueless as to what is going on around him. Coupled with his half remembered previous life, it just makes him less of a protagonist, but more of a reactionist.
Again there are some impossible leaps of believability that, as a reader, I was made to make in regards to certain scenes and situations. And what’s was with the metal balls that decapitated people? No explanation nor any reasoning.
I only hope that the next book gives me some answers.
Score: Worth reading: provided book three makes the journey worthwhile.
What’s next? The Maze Runner III: The Death Cure
Why I read it: Another library spot I fancied giving a go.
What is it about?: A superstar footballer, his wife and infant son crash land on a mysterious island. The cost of survival is the loss of humanity.
Thoughts: This is very much Lost meets Tarzan on steroids. The story is wonderfully split between Then and Now. Then shows the events of the crash and the family’s attempts to survive in a strange land. Now has a different of visceral artwork showing events a few years later as what’s survived tries to make its way home.
There are quite a few unexplained things that I would like to see made relevant in later issues, particularly the bouncing water. The final scene was very satisfying with a whole new take on the whole Tarzan in the city theme.
Score: Booktastic
Why I read it: With the boys enjoying Beau Peep and Calvin and Hobbs, I thought they might enjoy this crazy and hilarious series.
What is it about?: Liberty Meadows is an animal sanctuary where anthropomorphic animals live under the care of psychiatric Brandy and vet Frank.
Thoughts: As a reread, this is still very funny. The boys also very much enjoyed it. The crazy antics of Ralph and Leslie to the lovestruck Frank’s pathetic attempts to win Brandy’s heart, this zany comic strip regularly brought out the laughs. Truman the duck is the boys particular favourite.
Score: Booktastic
What’s next? Liberty Meadows II: Creature Comforts.

Here’s my TBR for May:

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March 2018 Book Wrap Up

Yes, I know this is exactly one month late, but here’s my March wrap up.
I managed 10 books.
This is what there were and what I thought of them.
If you don’t fancy reading, here’s my VLOG of the same:

Why I read it: I’m wanting to read the Aliens and Predator books on my shelf I’ve not yet read. Working my way through this enjoyable trilogy.
What is it about?: With the Yaujta coming further into the human sphere, a full-blown invasion soon follows with armies of Xenomorphs.
Thoughts: This was an exciting and gripping tale on an epic scale. Thankfully many of the questions arising from book 1 are answered in this one, particularly pertaining to who is leaning the invasion. There’s some brilliant character development with only one exception. I can’t give away more without revealing spoilers, so I won’t.
I enjoyed this one very much and it has certainly built upon the first book. I can’t wait for the final book of the trilogy.
Score: Booktastic
What’s next? The Rage War III: Aliens Vs. Predator: Armageddon
Why I read it: I had enjoyed Iron Eclipse so thought I’d try the second volume from the library. Turned out I had read it before
What is it about?: Jahan Cross, agent of the Empire, is on a new case: to mediate an interfamily dispute. With murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, Cross has to decide which side is the right one.
Thoughts: Another fantastic James Bondesque adventure that truly shows the vagaries of right and wrong regarding blind allegiance to a power. Despite his aloof character, Cross is a very likable hero of the Empire. With stunning artwork and clever politicking, this made for a truly enjoyable Star Wars story. If ever Disney run out of Star Wars ideas, they would do well to consider a Jahan Cross TV series.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: I had planned to read the whole series on the flights to and from Florida in February. Failed miserably so making do with one a month.
What is it about?: Thomas wakes up in the middle of a giant maze. Apart from his name he has no idea who he is, why he’s in a giant maze, nor how he can help the other children he finds there.
Thoughts: I enjoyed rereading this one which I last read before the film came out (still not seen it). It’s a slightly irritating tale that is very slow giving any answer at all, mostly because none of the featured characters have any answers. I shared Thomas’s frustration in not know just what was going on. My other slight issue is with the implausible scale of the maze itself. The whole thing does seem to be a bit much to do what I think they’re trying to do.
However, if you just go with it, the ride is enjoyable enough.
Score: Worth reading
What’s next? The Maze Runner 2: The Scorch Trials.
Why I read it: I had enjoyed the New Ghostbusters and was interested to read other books from the series. Spotted this one in the local library.
What is it about?: A transportation malfunction sees the turtles cross dimensions into the Ghostbusters world. The two teams of heroes join forces to thwart a significant threat.
Thoughts: Despite the fact that I’m not really a TMNT fan, I must confess to really enjoying this. The humour was well used, the action scenes worked well and the personal stakes were thoughtfully set. The story flowed well, despite all the extra characters.
My only issues were the ending, which seemed to be an unnecessary TBC… and the art style, which is throughout the series, is not to my personal taste.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: Spotted this in my local library and thought I’d give it a go.
What is it about?: Han, Luke, Leia and Chewbacca use Rebellion contacts to acquire a vital piece of information and work with some new recruits to do it.
Thoughts: This was a bit different to other Star Wars graphic novels I’ve read. It is told through the eyes of new Rebellion fighters as they meet and work with the heroes and have to make an adjustment between the legend and the flesh and blood beings before them. The story itself is a little basic, but as it’s more of an exploration of altering perceptions, that’s only a minor thing. Due to the three-pronged approach, sequentially introducing all the characters, this story is a bit laboured getting going, but once I understood what it was trying to go for, I was happy to go with. The ending was particularly rewarding.
The artwork was also reasonably good..
Score: Worth reading
Why I read it: I’ve wanted to read this one for a while, it’s the only one of the 4 books of the series I haven’t gotten my hands on.
What is it about?: During a time of peace negotiations between the Sith Empire and the Jedi Order, the Sith destroy the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. A now masterless Jedi seeks revenge on her master’s murderer and travels to Coruscant with a smuggler with issues of his own.
Thoughts: Despite being so keen to read this, it did take me a long time to get into it. However, once the characters start heading to Coruscant, the story really picked up and I was gripped right to the very satisfactory conclusion. I found the characters here very well fleshed-out with an equal focus on their flaws and failings as on their strengths and successes. I particularly liked the relationships between Darth Malgus and his Twi’lek slave/lover as well as with the Jedi and the smuggler.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: I’ve already read the first three of the series to my wife, so why stop there? Exactly!
What is it about?: While Valkyrie Caine seeks to retrieve Skulduggery Pleasant from the Faceless Ones’ domain, their enemies have made an unseemly alliance and plan to move against the Sancturary itself.
Thoughts: I’d say this is definitely on par with the previous three books, with the stakes that little higher and the cost to our heroes a little steeper. There’s some interesting new characters and some welcome returns. What I love about this series is that which almost every character, I’m left guessing as to their true intentions.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? Philip K. Dicks Electric Dreams
Why I read it: Because I want to reread all my graphic novels and also happen to seriously enjoy this series.
What is it about?: As the Clone Wars comes to an end, Order 66 is triggered. This is the story of some of the Jedi who survive.
Thoughts: This is a brilliant volume covering one of the most pivotous times of the Jedi Order. This is told in three parts:
Into the Unknown: This introduces the Jedi Dass Jennir as he is finds himself joining forces with the very people he was leading his former clone troopers against. It’s a gentle beginning to the fantastic Dark Times series. This tale is also interspersed with following other Jedi and the different decisions they make in order to survive.
Hidden Enemy : This features the excellent Quinlan Vos who narrowly survives the attack upon himself by his clone troopers. A haunting struggle for life while mourning the death of Aayla Secura coupled with the comic relief of the Devaronian Villie. Edge of the seat story-telling with a real payoff at the end. Wondrously drawn too.
Purge: I have previously read this earlier in the year in the graphic novel on the same name. A bunch of Jedi lure Darth Vader into a trap in order to destroy him. It doesn’t go well for them. A good, action-filled story, well illustrated and with the untimely ending of numerous characters that had featured throughout the series.
Score: Booktastic!
What’s next? Star Wars: General Grevious
Why I read it: Going chronologically though my Star Wars books, this one’s next.
What is it about?: Rogue Squadron pilot Corran Horn ‘s wife Mirax goes missing and so Corran must discover his Jedi heritage in order to track her down and rescue her.
Thoughts: This was a big book at nearly 600 pages and probably the biggest Star Wars book I’ve read to date. Also, this had a slightly different feel in that it was told from the first person, Corran’s I did enjoy this book, but did find that it did meander for a bit and took a long time to get going. It didn’t help that a goodly chunk of the story followed Corran at the Jedi temple on Yavin 4 and was just a rehash of the events chronicled in the Jedi Apprentice trilogy but told from Corran’s point of view.
Apart from that, it was quite enjoyable.
Score: Worth buying
What’s next? Star Wars: Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson
Why I read it: I wanted to reread Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series while staying with my parents, so that’s what I’m doing.
What is it about?: Super thief, Jim DeGriz finds himself fighting a time war against an entity who wants to own everything.
Thoughts: I love these easy-going books that take a poignant look at humanity and war. This is a fun time-travel yarn that sees Slippery Jim in Earth’s past and far future. Just as fun and enjoyable as the rest of the series.
Score: Buy it.
What’s next? The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You

As for what I had planned for April, there’s a vlog for that:

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February 2018 Book Wrap-Up

Only 6 books this month.
What were they and what did I think of them?

I’ve also done a vlog for this on booktube:

Why I reread it: I’m currently reading book 7 to my wife and have watched the first two seasons and fancied going back to the beginning.
What is it about?: Even though humans have colonised the planets and moons of the solar system, they still find themselves embroiled in conspiracies. Ice Hauler EO James Holden finds himself in a system-wide conspiracy and Detective Miller, on a missing person’s case, soon crosses paths with Holden.
Thoughts: This was utterly amazing the first time I read it and is probably even better with the reread. I always find it interesting how much or little the actors’ faces replace my preconceived interpretations if I’ve seen the tv show or movie in between reads. It’s a testimony of the casting that has seen most of the characters being replaced by the actors.
As for the book, I had so much fun with it and am very impressed with how the series has maintained this high level of quality.
Score: Booktastic
Why I read it: I’ve been reading this series to my wife, as and when they become available. This is the latest in the series.
What is it about?: After a 30-year gap following book 6, both the Rocinante and her crew are feeling older and are preparing to move into a new chapter of their lives. Until something happens that once again threatens all of humanity.
Thoughts: Not wanting to mention too much here due to spoilers, I can say that this book is on par with the rest of the series. The stakes are as high as ever and the characters as so well developed they feel like family by this point. Need the next book!
Score: Booktastic
What’s next? Skulduggery Pleasant IV: Dark Days by Derek Landy
Why I read it: I’ve decided to tackle my unread Aliens and Predator books by making them my books foof the months. Kicking off this trilogy.
What is it about?: Set in the Alien universe after known contact with both the Xenomorph and Yaujta species has occurred, the sphere of humanity are suddenly experienced a greater number of Yaujta-related attacks.
Thoughts: After a slowish and uneven start, this book really picks up the pace and became very thrilling and exciting. The story follows three main characters (with the occasional view of another one or two) as they simultaneously find out the truth behind the increased Yaujta incursions. By the end of the book I was hooked and am eagerly waiting for March to read the next one.
Score: Worth buying.
What’s next? Alien Vs. Predator: The Rage War II: Alien: Invasion by Tim Lebbon
Why I read it: Went on a family trip to Disney World in Florida meaning an accumulated 16 hours of flight-time. Figured I could read the Maze Runner series in that time.
What is it about?: Set before the events of the original trilogy, this chronicles the events directly following the catastrophic solar flares.
Thoughts: To date, I’ve only read the original Maze Runner so cannot say how, if at all, it links to the main series. There are a couple of nods in the prologue and epilogue, but they’re so removed from the main story that I’m not sure if they were worth it.
The story itself follows a group of survivors after they are randomly attacked by a flare-dispensing group. It’s a mix of adventure and survival as they go on a trek for answers.
There’s a lot of intensive action that was exhausting enough to read, leading to the unlikelihood of the heroes being able to keep on going. It’s amazing they were able to even stand unaided, let alone get involved in yet another altercation.
It became quite apparent the direction the story was going and did indeed end along the lines that I feared it would leaving a somewhat bleak conclusion.
Score: Worth reading
What’s next? The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Why I reread it: It’s the next book in my graphic novel rereads.
What is it about?: As the Clone Wars nears the end, trouble Jedi Quinlan Vos needs to make a final decision regarding his loyalties.
Thoughts: This is told over two stories that link to each other so smoothly that they’re better described as two chapters. This story very much felt like the beginning of the end in that certain character arcs come to their conclusions as well as Quinlan finally realised just who he’s going to be.
I won’t say more than that, to avoid revealing spoilers. The artwork is first-rate again and I very much enjoyed the story. It was also fantastic to see one Jedi who done little more than sit about, show just what he can do.
Score: Booktastic!
What’s next? Star Wars: Clone Wars IX: Endgame
Why I read it: My wife got this out of the library and I wanted to give it a go, so I did.
What is it about?: The ghostbusting team get kidnapped by a force and sent to another dimension leaving their positions to be filled by convenient stand-ins.
Thoughts: Released before the recent Ghostbusters remake/reboot, this story features the female-dominant ghostbusting team that the film should have perhaps gone for. I’d not read any of the other stories in this series, but the character introduction page at the beginning brilliantly and effectively brought me up to speed with who’s who and how they fit into the backstory.
The adventure itself was split between the original team’s attempt to return home and the new team’s attempt to function despite the sexist corporate management of them. This was funny, insightful and with a decent ghost to bust. My only gripe is more of a personal one in that I did find the artwork to all that to my liking.
Score: Buy it
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January 2018 Book Wrap-Up

10 books this month.
What were they and what did I think of them?

I’ve also done a vlog for this on booktube:

Why I read it: I spotted this in the local library and thought it gave off a suitably Buffy vibe, so I thought I’d give it a go.
What is it about?: Cryptids (non-human entities such as bogeymen, dragon princesses and other such beings) live among us in secret, but are they to be exterminated as abominations or left to live free as individuals? Something bad is happening to them and it’s left to reluctant Verity Price to save the day, even though it gets in the way of her passion of dancing.
Thoughts: This was a delight to read. Humorous without it being a comedy and with characters so appealing that the slow-moving plot doesn’t detract from the story. Each chapter is headed by an amusing quote from one of the elder Price’s as well as a brilliantly descripted location.
Highlights definitely include the Aeslin Mice, a tribe of sentient mice who religiously celebrate every mundane thing Verity does and whose likeness act as the page breaks throughout the book.
Score: Buy it.
What’s next? Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived
Why I read it: I’ve greatly enjoyed this series and so of course would like to finish it off.
What is it about?: Failed Jedi Zayne Carrick is drafted into the Republic military in the Mandalorian War. Chaos ensues for combatants in both sides.
Thoughts: As usual, Zayne ‘Forest Gumps’ his way through a number of otherwise lethal situations, often faring much better than those around him. However, by now, Zayne has gotten used to the bizarre levels of chance that his unique connection to the Force provides for him. This is mostly played straight with only a few comic relief moments where Zayne goes through a baptism of fire to truly discover his place in the universe.
A mostly satisfying read that had some nice cameos from Jarael and Gryph. The artwork was pretty decent, too.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: All of the Knights of the Old Republic series and many, many Star Wars books
Why I read it: I spotted this in the local library and had to read it.
What is it about?: After Order 66, the fall of the Jedi Order and the Republic and the rise of Palpatine’s Empire, Darth Vader is on a mission to seek out and exterminate any residual Jedi.
Thoughts: This volume actually contains four stories:
1. Purge – I’d previously read this as part of the Clone Wars: Endgame collection. Darth Vader is led into a trap by a group of Jedi resulting in magnifying his reputation when he walks out again. This is brilliantly illustrated with some very exciting action. There’s no doubt as to the end result, Vader does live to feature in the movies after all but, as this story features many of the significant Jedi from the Clone Wars graphic novels, each death was very impactful.
2. Seconds To Die – Chronicling the ‘life-flashing-as-she-died’ last few seconds of a Kel-Dor Jedi, looking back over her lifetime. A bittersweet look at a life lived and it’s sudden conclusion. Well told and with good artwork.
3. The Hidden Blade – Darth Vader is tasked with babysitting a factory, but is distracted by the Jedi leading insurrectionists attacking the facility. Can he stick to his task, or will he give in to his hate and seek out the Jedi? A pretty obvious question with some pretty ugly artwork.
4. The Tyrant’s Fist – An extended story that also has Jedi leading insurrectionist. Darth Vader explores the destruction of the Jedi by first killing their reputation, their image and the that the people have for them, before taking their actual lives, thereby not making martyrs of them. An interesting story that perhaps went on a bit too long.
Overall, this was okay though the first story is definitely the best of the bunch by a long way and I already have that in Endgame.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: So. Much. Star Wars.
Why I read it: I’ve been rereading all my Star Wars graphic novels chronologically. This one’s next on the pile.
What is it about?: More politics, intrigue, action, excitement and betrayal.
Thoughts: The volume actually contains five stories:
1. Dead Ends – Bail Organa and Finis Valorum explore the lies and corruption that surrounds the senate. If it weren’t for the fact that we all already know it’s Palpatine, this would have been quite interesting. Instead it was merely a thing.
2. Bloodlines – Upon the imminent death of a Jedi, we watch as his recent life flashes before his eyes and we see all the tricks and lies culminating at the end at the beginning of the sequence with his forming a friendship with Palpatine. Told in a way that kept the narrative interesting, this was a poignant story showcasing the damage that high-level corruption can do.
3. Hate And Fear – Obi-Wan Kenobi, presumed dead by the Jedi order, joins forces with fellow captive ARC clone trooper Alpha in a bid to escape the clutches of Asajj Ventress. Beautifully illustrated and very exciting, this story make reading this book so much more worth it.
4. No Mans’ Land – Sees Anakin Skywalker lead a rescue mission to rescue Obi-Wan Kenobi despite being told that he must already be dead. This is really more of the closing chapter to the previous story as Obi-Wan fights he way out, Anakin fights his way in. Not sure why this has a separate title, to be honest.
5. The Best Blades – Yoda visits an old friend in a bid to convince him not to split his planet from the Republic. Using more of a Manga style of artwork, this is very wordy and quite slow-paced with an almost inevitable conclusion.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars Books
What’s next? Star Wars: Clone Wars VI: On The Fields Of Battle
Why I read it: I’ve enjoyed the films and the books, time for some short stories. This is also January’s book of the month.
What is it about?: A series of short stories following the Yaujta as they prey on different eras of humanity.
Thoughts: As a short story collection, it would only be fair to give thoughts on each story, so here goes:

Story Name: DevilDogs by Tim Lebbon
What is it about? A squad off colonial marines are tasked with a retrieval mission on a remote research station.
Thoughts: This one read very much like an aliens story. Right up to the appearance of the Yaujta. Actually, even then, the feeling remained. Mixed in with the violence and action is quite a hard look on the liberties humanity feels like it can take.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Stonewall’s Last Stand by Jeremy Robson
What is it about? A scouting mission during the American Civil War encounters a Devil in the woods.
Thoughts: This was an enjoyable reworking of the original film as if it were based in 1863 and with some of the hunting gear from Predator 2. It certainly felt as if it were inspired by the pistol given as a trophy at the end of Predator 2. A solid Predator story.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: Rematch by Steve Perry
What is it about? A Yaujta and her mate hunt down an ooman who had not only survived a previous encounter, but had also killed the hunter.
Thoughts: This is told in from two main perspectives, the humans’ and the predators’ and this does add a nice element with the predators’ interactions with one another. It’s interesting that Steve Perry has changed the lore he set down in his Aliens vs. Predator: Prey novel where the females dominate over the males and see the hunting is beneath them by having a female involved in this hunt.
It’s well paced with a hand bunch of useless oomans for the predators to butcher (literally as a stretching warm up exercise). The tension was well strung and the survival of any of the oomans we cared about was never certain, but then neither was it for the predators either.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: May Blood Pave My Way Home by Weston Ochse
What is it about? The story follows a band of Buffalo Soldiers based in Central Mexico during the 1916 Punitive Expedition. After an altercation with the native Comanches, four soldiers find themselves in a duelling match against four Ya-OOT-ja to the death.
Thoughts: Despite being based in a battle I’ve never heard of, I found myself quickly invested in this story. The link of the predators to the native Comanche’s was, perhaps, a little tenuous but still believable enough to make sense. The duel itself was refreshing in that I’d not seen predators in a straight-up one-on-one fair(ish) fight. (Unless you count the yakuza in the film Predators.) I also greatly appreciated the handy phonetic spelling of Yautja (I’ve always read it as Yowtcha).
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Storm Blood by Peter J. Wacks and David Boop
What is it about? Based in New Orleans during the height of Storm Catrina, a rescue team save an unconscious boy with some disturbing footage on his camera.
Thoughts: Even though there was no heist this had a resonant feeling of the film Hard Rain starring Christian Slater and Morgan Freeman. This story is a little bit different in that it’s not a Yaujta hunting the people. There’s something else, and the Yautja is hunting that. I can’t say more than that plot-wise, but I can say that the story was very enjoyable, and the creature is an interesting one. It started off using the found footage trope, but thankfully passed that and got on with telling the story properly. Exciting stuff.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Last Report From The KSS Psychopomp by Jennifer Brozek
What is it about? A salvage crew board a derelict scavenger ship, but they’re not alone on board.
Thoughts: This one probably was less impactful as it features in a compilation of Predator stories so you know exactly what’s in store for our hapless space crew. Indeed, this story does play out as expected and this could have had any alien nasty as the ‘monster’ in this one. I still found the action exciting and appreciated the uncertainty as to who, if anyone, would survive.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Skeld’s Keep by S. D. Perry
What is it about? In 820 AD a retired predator leads three newly blooded youngsters on a hunt for Viking oomans.
Thoughts: The story is told from two perspectives, the Vikings’ and the predators’. The Vikings are attempting to take the titular keep that has been ravaged by a mysterious disease. The action is understandably graphic and visceral with lots of bladed weapons encountering those fragile human bodies. The battle did have a certain A Song Of Ice And Fire feel to it. My only issue was that there was no real explanation as to what the illness was.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Indigenous Species by Kevin J. Anderson
What is it about? A colony on the brink of survival finds itself in the middle of a hunt between the planet’s top predator and the Yautja.
Thoughts: This was very reminiscent of Aliens Vs. Predator: Prey by Steve & Stephanie Perry in that the basic premise is the same. The only difference is that the gruzzlies are already native to the planet and the Yautja come specifically to hunt them. I enjoyed the
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: Blood And Sand by Mira Grant
What is it about? Two orphans who live with their abusive aunt and uncle find a change in fortune when a mysterious star lands nearby.
Thoughts: This was a satisfying tale that suggest that the Yautja are more aware of humanity’s shortcomings than we would have thought.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Tin Warrior by John Shirly
What is it about? A soldier who has stood up against a superior officer finds himself testing a reverse-engineered suit of Yaujta armour, against a captive Yaujta.
Thoughts: Anther interesting concept that doesn’t quite go in the expected directions. I found myself rooting for the Yaujta as much as I did the soldier.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Three Sparks by Larry Correia
What is it about? A rogue samurai is given the task of hunting down the Oni of Aokigahara, a forest demon that kills and skins it’s human victims.
Thoughts: A very compelling tale that feels like a retelling of Predator but with a forest instead of a jungle and samurai with swords instead of soldiers with guns. And no chopper, obviously. This was very enjoyable and highly satisfying.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: The Pilot by Andrew Mayne
What is it about? When a downed American pilot captured by the Russians attempts to escape his captors, he discovers that his fellow prisoner hails from a little further than China as he initially believed.
Thoughts: Easily the best story in this collection so far. The character’s plight was believable and felt authentic from the start. His escape was thrilling and when he joins forces with the otherworldly captive the action is exciting and so well realised through his eyes. I enjoyed this one immensely.
Score: Storytastic!
Story Name: Buffalo Jump by Wendy M. Wagner
What is it about? It’s the wild west and the local sheriff of a small town is approached by a gang from his past.
Thoughts: What happens when a standard Western story is suddenly hijacked by an alien influence. Well, apart from Coyboys and Aliens, this. The story develops naturally as a standard Western with the sheriff standing up to a gang, and then embarking on rescuing a child from a kidnap situation. Then blood starts happening. I enjoyed the unique method used to get the better of the Yautja and again there was an nice insight into how the predators view humanity.
Score: Worth reading
Story Name: Drug War by Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Holly Roberds
What is it about? Twenty years after Predator 2 Harrigan and Garber find themselves facing a familiar threat.
Thoughts: I do appreciate it when a story can tie into established cannon. I like Predator 2 a lot and I thought it great that we had a return of Harrigan. Just like the film, this features a lot of explosive urban combat making this exciting and adrenalin-filled. The final twist was a delight.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Story Name: Recon by Dayron Ward
What is it about? A recon squad deep in the Vietnam jungle find that they’re up against not just the Vietnamese.
Thoughts: Another story heavily influenced by Predator. The characters were a little lacking in their characterisation and the story didn’t really play out much differently to how it does in Predator. It was enjoyable enough and still manages to stand out from the other stories in this collection.
Score: Worth reading.
Story Name: Gameworld by Jonathan Maberry
What is it about? Set in the future on a privately-owned world where an illegal fight arena pits combatants against enhanced dangerous animals. All goes well until a Yautja is made to fight.
Thoughts: This one had quite a bit of build-up, which again was undermined by featuring in a book with a Yautja on the front cover. However, even knowing that the lead character was going to be duelling against a Yautja, the action was still exciting with a Sherlock Holmes level of detail in the combat. The twist in this was very enjoyable, if a little anticipated.
Score: Worth reading.

Final thoughts:
Wow, this was a very enjoyable read were even the worst story was still worth reading. After the disappointing repetitiveness of the short story collection Aliens: Bug Hunt, this was a very pleasant surprise.

Score: Bookstastic
I’ve also read: Concrete Jungle; Cold War
What’s next? February’s book of the month: The Rage Wars I: Predator: Incursion
Why I read it: Because it’s Star Wars
What is it about?: Jedi-hunting bounty hunters, infiltration and Ventress riding a rancor.
Thoughts: Some stories in this one:
1. Show Of Force – A fantastic story following Mace Windu leading other top Jedi onto a space station to take down a band of Jedi-hunting bounty hunters. This is a brilliant showcase of how unstoppable a Jedi task force is, if they’re not being manipulated from the start and are free to just do their thing.
2. Forever Young – In attacking a citadel, Anakin Skywalker is shocked by how young his accompanying Jedi is. This was quite a short story where Anakin just had to learn not on ly the hardships of war itself, but what true dedication can mean.
3. Armour: Aayla Secura seeks to retrieve a maguffin only to find her wayward former master, Quinlan Vos is also after it. With Quinlan Vos going deep undercover into Count Dooku’s forces and having previously undertaken some decidedly unJedilike acts, the big question hanging over this story is: Is Quinlan now a Dark Jedi? This story keeps you guessing until the very end (and even then it’s not crystal clear). I really enjoy Aayla and Kit as characters and found this to be a great platform for them.
4. Dreadnaughts of Rendili – After being rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi, the renegade Jedi Quinlan Vos rejoins the Jedi as they attempt to thwart the mutiny of a dreadnaught fleet. This was a fantastic story that had a little bit of everything worth having. Quinlan Vos’s loyalties forever remain in question and my thoughts on them almost panel to panel. Ventress has two thrilling duels against Obi-Wan and Anakin. All superbly illustrated too. This all made for a very entertaining read.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars.
What’s next? Star Wars: Clone Wars VII: When They Were Brothers
Why I read it: I enjoy short story collections and thought I’d try one on a genre I’ve not read that much on.
What is it about?: A series of short stories based on and around the concept of the living dead.
Thoughts: Ordinarily I’d do a quick review of each story, but with over 30 stories in the collection that would take a fair while. The quality of these stories vary quite dramatically from Storytastic! with some really interesting ideas on the zombie/living dead aspect to Toilet Paper with little to no relevance to collection of stories they’ve been grouped with. Some I really enjoyed, others, I greatly detested. For the most part, I think that the better stories do outweigh the weaker ones
Score: Worth reading – as long as you skip the rubbish ones.
What’s next? The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF
Why I read it: I’ve already read books 1 and 2 to my 9-year-old son and so this is the obvious choice here.
What is it about?: Honorary FBI agent Chevron Savano and Riley find themselves falling through time once more and facing off against and old and deadly enemy.
Thoughts: The first two books of the series had lots of great character development and good adventures. This one, unfortunately seemed to be a bit lacking in both. Overall, it was okay but is not as good as the others. There was also an overuse of the sci-fi gobbledegook that did stuff just because and was the get-out clause of many of the situations.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake.
I’ve also read W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin and The Hangman’s Revolution
What’s next? My son’s picked Amazon Adventure by Willard Price.
Why I read it: I’ve been going chronologically through my Star Wars collection. Sometimes I pick up a book I’ve already passed in the timeline and need to fill those gaps.
What is it about?: Han Solo’s rival smuggler Dash Rendar finds himself without a ship and needs work fast. His new job as a bodyguard to a popular singer proves to be a little more than we was led to expect.
Thoughts: This was an exciting, amusing and very entertaining read. There were a lot of interesting characters, particularly the sarcastic droid Leebo. The mystery as to who the threat was kept me guessing throughout the story. Han Solo also provided a nice cameo roll.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars
What’s next? Going right to the beginning with: The Lost Tribe Of The Sith by John Jackson Miller
Why I read it: It’s the next Clone Wars in the series I’m reading, of course I’m going to read it.
What is it about?: Before Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi had their final duel on the Death Star, they were very close friends who constantly looked out for one another. These stories show their final adventures together as ‘brothers.’
Thoughts: The main story Obsession follows Obi-Wan’s obsession into finding the now-believed dead Ventress. This leads to an epic face-off against Durge, a significant battle that includes General Grevious and a final confrontation with a surprisingly moving conclusion. The artwork as a little odd but the story was first rate.
There’s also an untitled short story that showcases just how Obi-Wan and Anakin trust each other and rely upon one another. It’s a little unnecessary but quite poignant when knowing what is to come.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: Clone Wars 8: The Last Siege, The Final Truth

And that was January.

What will I be reading in February?
Check out my booktube video to find out:

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My Worst 10 Reads Of 2017

I managed to complete 130 books during 2017.
These 10 are the books I liked the least.

I also did a video on it:

The War Of The Worlds: The Massacre Of Mankind

Somewhat hampered by the rather lacklustre origional of The War Of The Worlds, this continuation of the story didn’t really go anywhere and the ending just fizzled out. I really had hoped for better. The only saving grace was that the chapters were quite short.

The Midden

Take the hilarous events that took place in Riotous Assembly, remove much of the content and have a long-winded and perambulating build-up to it. Unorigional and not all that funny.

A Song Of Ice And Fire: A Feast For Crows

Fron the series that just keeps on giving … drab and bleak settings with equally drab and bleak characters. Lacking any semblance of plot or direction, this is just a dull chronicle of a bunch of stuff that happens to a bunch of people you don’t give a hoot about. Not really sure why I’m reading this series to be honest.

Star Wars: Rogue One

The novelisation of an exciting film with interesting characters you know nothing much about. Read the book and learn…absolutely nothing new at all. This basically filled the void while I waited for the film to come out on blu-ray. This is not the supplemental read you’re looking for.

Goosebumps: Be Careful What You Wish For

We all seen examples of well-intended wishes that were not executed in the intended way. This is what happens when a complete idiot makes wishes that are bloody stupid at their conception. This only caused goosebumps of irritation at reading something so pointless.

Star Wars: Knight Errant: Aflame

I picked up book two of these graphic novels from a bargain bin and held on to it, unread, until I got my hands on book 1. Aflame is that book one and was only noteworthy due to the number of pecuilarly-angled nostril shots. The story was a complete mess and the artwork was so inconsistant that the main protagonist looks different in every panel. Deluge was actually pretty good and would have benefitted more from not having read book 1.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Blood Of The Empire

Oooh, a story about a Sith character, this ought to be good…or boring, I meant boring. Why is this so boring? Surely there must be some interesting characters at least? Not really, and don’t call me Shirly.

Goosebumps: You Can’t Scare Me!

In this story we follow some jealous delinquant and her equally jail-bait friends as they attempt to bully a hard-working and rightfully popular classmate. Only to fail at every sucky and depraved plan they have. This would have been better if their final endeavour ended up with them all being awarded the posthumerous Darwin Award.

Anita Blake: Guilty Pleasures

I’ve heard that this is a popular series. It’s even got it’s own graphic novel adaptations. I really can’t see why though. This has to have one of the worst world-building openings ever. A lead character who has no relatability about her at all goes through a vague series of pointless events and encounters before not much of anything really happens and the book thankfully ends. Not a series I’m likely to work at anytime soon.

Lo’Life: Romeo Spikes

Marketed as a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer style adventure series. Instead, it introduces a series of interesting and compelling characters who are then just killed off and none of that affects whatever the plot was supposed to be about. Then there’s a really intense and exciting train scene. Now it’s all over, the end. Wait…what? Another series I’m in no hurry to get back to.

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My Top 10 Reads Of 2017

I managed to complete 130 books during 2017.
These 10 are the books I liked the most.

I also did a video on it:

By The Light Of The Moon

A straightforward story that takes some really interesting an unexptected turns. But it’s the spellbinding mastery of the words used to tell it that gives it a place on this list. A true delight to read, and the story’s very satisfying too.

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic: Commencement

The kick-off to an very enjoyable and fun adventure in the Star Wars universe. Based thousands of years before the events of A New Hope (and untouched by Disney) this tells the story of a bumbling Jedi padawan as he’s framed for the murder of his fellow students and is now on the run from his teachers and the murderes – who are one and the same. Filled with colourful characters, witty dialogue and exciting scenes, even the inconsistant artwork isn’t enough to spoil this fun read.

StarCraft II: Devil’s Due

The second half (read Heaven’s Devils first) to an excellent (if unasked for) origin story for James Raynor. Just how did Jim and Tychus become friends? How did Tychus end up behind bars? What made Jim become a marshall of a backwater planet? Exquisitly told and with some impactful moments, fans of StarCraft should definately give this a go.

The Map To Everywhere

Brilliant artwork that accompanies an imaginitive adventure with some original characters and locations. Brimming with refreshing novel ideas. The pure enjoyablility of this one surprised me.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

A powered-human story that takes a big step away from the plethora of superhero stories that have saturated the world recently. This novel kicks off a solid trilogy of books, but is probably the best of the three. The intriguing tale is beautifully puntucated by real-world photographs of what can only be described as odd people.

Skulduggery Pleasant

Being dead hasn’t stopped this sarcastic and wise-cracking detective from saving the world from the Faceless ones (what can only be described as Cthulhu and the Old Ones). Can’t say more due to spoilers. Go read it.

Revenger

It’s just like Firefly, isn’t it? Well, in a way yes, but in a much more accurate way, no. This certainly wasn’t the read I expected to be, but found myself enjoying it immensely and was hungry for more upon its conclusion. I literally went straight onto the internet to see if there is any sign of a sequel. Aparrently it’s in the works. Yes!

Babylon’s Ashes

Epic sci-fi on a scale and scope that shows up A Song Of Ice And Fire as the overhyped load of tosh it really is. As mankind reaches for the stars, there are those who will do anything to keep things as they are. The fight for the future of the human race has begun.

Ready Player One

Overhyped? Yes. But very much justified. If you dig this sort of thing, it’s pure gold…or at least golden oldies. Nostalgia mixed with a buch of epic VR stuff. Read it before I even knew they were making a movie of it.

Discworld: Guards! Guards!

Introducing the Night’s Watch of Ankh-Morpork at a time when the Discworld stories finish coeliescing into the world that the Discworld is now. Just such a fun book to read too. A dragon is terrorising the city and it’s left to a defunct police force to stop it.

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December 2017 Book Wrap-Up

Here is my reading wrap-up for December. I managed 10 books this month.
So what were they and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: Our IT at work is wonderfully underwhelming. While it’s aresing about, I try to get some reading in. This is from the communal bring-and-share bookshelf.
What is it about?: Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who finds herself investigating a series of murders linked to a cult.
Thoughts: This is the fifth Temperance Brennan book I have read and the two complaints I have about it is common with all of them:
Firstly. The author, Kathy Reichs, is a forensic anthropologist herself and can give greatly detailed accounts of the body examination using all the correct terminology (as far as I know, anyway). This is great stuff, if sometimes grisly, and really gives that CSI vibe. Unfortunately, there is also the same level of detailed minutiae when making a ham sandwich or when performing other everyday mundane tasks. Yes, tell me all about what you can about the body, by all means tell me what you ate for lunch, but I don’t need to know how you made it. Not every word has to be plot-related, but when there’s over half a page on getting dressed having already had the lowdown on lunch and feeding the cat I’m relieved when the phone rings or someone hurls a brick through the window.
Secondly, the French. I get that this is set in the French-speaking province of Quebec in Canada and there will be French names and places, but at times it almost feels like a French lesson. This particular book, isn’t as bad as some of the others, but it still brings me out of the story every time it comes up.
Anyway, enough of that. Setting past all of what I’ve just said, this is an engrossing read as Temperance follows the clues to reveal the deaths may be due to cult activity. There is also a commendable exploration as to what constitutes a cult and what makes a cult either benign or something far more sinister as well as the reasons why supposedly rational people can end up joining a cult. I certainly found it quite eye-opening. It was also surprisingly relevant as Charles Mansion happened to have died while I was reading this book and I had Googled him and what he was all about.
The ending felt a little rushed with maybe too many conveniences but it was otherwise satisfactory.
There was a sub-plot surrounding the bones of a nun that just felt like padding to me and this story would have probably been better without it.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Deadly Decisions, Deja Dead, Bones To Ashes, Crossbones
What’s next? Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe
Why I read it: I get to read to my wife every day. In this way we discover many brilliant books. The Skulduggery series is one such discovery.
What is it about?: Once again Valkyrie Cain and Skulduggery Pleasant must stop the acolytes of the Faceless Ones from bringing their dark gods into the world, but this time they’re fugitives.
Thoughts: The obvious thing about the first three books of this series is that the plot’s basically the same in all three: Stop the Diablerie from opening a gateway to let in the Faceless Ones (think the Great Old Ones from the Cthulhu mythos). However, the plot really does take second place to the collection of fantastic characters (both dead and alive and not-quite-sure) along with their peculiar names.
Filled with sarcastic put-downs and snide comments, this adventure is a little more violent than the previous offerings with an Indiana Jones level of body horror. There are also plenty of twists and turns along with totally unexpected crazy stuff ensuring that this is an enjoyable and satisfying yarn.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read:
What’s next? The Expanse VII: Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey.
Why I read it: For my Book Of The Month in January I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. I thought it fitting to finish the year in the same way.
What is it about?: An avid gamer finds that there’s more to his favourite game than he first thought.
Thoughts: This is a tough one to describe without giving too much of the plot away. Even the blurb on the back doesn’t really give you much to go on. All I’m going to tell you that it certainly has the hallmarks of a certain 80s movie and also a book by Terry Pratchett.
I’ve heard rom other reviews that this is not as good as Ready Player One and I would agree with that. Not that this is a bad book, by any means but it did take a while to get me invested in the story sufficiently to want to read it. With Ready Player One, I was hooked and thought about it incessantly when I wasn’t reading it. With the exception of pondering the why, this one is much more disposable. I also felt that the 80s pop culture references were a little forced and were thrown in just ‘because’. They were fun, but a bit gimmicky.
Once the plot finally got going, I found it exciting and sped through the pages. The ‘big reveal,’ such as it was, was along the lines of what I was expecting, which was a shame but was still rewarding.
I would certainly encourage people who are struggling with this one to keep with it. It’s not too long a story and the second half really picks up.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: Ready Player One
What’s next? January’s Book Of The Month: Predator: If It Bleeds
Why I read it: I had previously read the base series and am giving it a second run-through, this time including the prequels and the sequel. This is the fourth book in the series.
What is it about?: Following a worldwide earthquake, our leading characters fight to survive the devastation and to find each other.
Thoughts: Much of this story is spent following only a few of the lead characters and their hunt for their missing loved ones. For it’s size, there’s surprisingly little actual content in this book with only the last quarter containing anything of substance. I found the character of Hattie terribly annoying last time I read this series and she’s just as irritating this time round. The whole sub-plot regarding Amanda is kicked off in this book and it really slows down the pace (particularly as I now know it doesn’t go anywhere). I did enjoy the scenes with Ken Ritz who drove the plot forward as much as he ferried the characters about.
There are a number of good moments here, it’s just a shame that most of this book (and the last two to be honest) felt like filler. Including the prequels and sequel, this is a 16-book series and I feel that it could have been so much shorter with much of the pointless filler removed.
Now this series is a Christian faith-related series that takes the Christian viewpoint of the Rapture and follows a theologically based logical timeline of events upon an interpretation of the bible (coupled with some artistic licence). As such, there are some Christian denominational viewpoints that may not gel with the sensibilities of some readers, Christian or otherwise. For me, I appreciate the unique post-apocalyptic setting of survival and the exploration of faith and why people choose to or choose not to enter into a belief system.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake.
I’ve also read: Apollyon; Armageddon; Assassins; Desecration; Glorious Appearing; The Indwelling; Left Behind; The Mark; Nicolae; The Rapture; The Regime; The Remnant; The Rising; Tribulation Force
What’s next? Left Behind: Apollyon
Why I read it: I’ve been keen to complete this series and managed to pick up the final three volumes from my local library.
What is it about?: Jarael’s past has finally caught up with her in more ways than one.
Thoughts: Once again, this is more a short story collection with our heroes bumbling from one thing to the next. This series seems to be lacking something now the main story-arc has ended.
There are three main story arcs:
Masks:
Malak and Rohlan face off and Revan’s motivation for wearing the mask is revealed.
This was a nice little story that finally had Revan in it. It also shows that Malak is on the slippery slope to the dark side. I’ve appreciated the evolution of Alec as he becomes Malak in this series.
The Reaping:
When attempting to scam a slaver organisation, Zayne attempts to rescue the slaves instead.
This one had some good character development for Zayne as he strives to remain true to his Jedi upbringing. Gryph is classic Gryph.
Destroyer:
Zayne learns, first-hand, about the Crucible.
This is one of the darker stories in the series as the true nature of the Crucible is revealed. There’s lots of spoilers here so I’ll zip it. Good stuff though.
On the whole, I think this volume is stronger than the previous one. The focus on Jarael’s back story and the meaning of her facial tattoos helped a lot. The discordant artwork was pretty good throughout.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: 150+ Star Wars books.
What’s next? Knights Of The Old Republic IX: Demon
Why I read it: I’ve read the first three books in the series, so why not read the accompanying short story collection?
What is it about?: A series of short stories exploring life, the universe and everything
Thoughts: Usually I would review each individual short story in a collection such as this. However, I started this book before I had begun doing such things.
The stories in this book follow on from the three primary books in this series: Time, Space and Origin as well as exploring further Manifold ideas. Characters such as Malenfant, Cornelius and even Sheena-5 crop up from time to time in some stories.
Even though they are short stories, they are science heavy and it’s recommended that the reader should have more than a passing interest in science. There are very interesting explorations into the Fermi Paradox, Occam’s Razor, the big bang, life and the heat death.
Thinking back, I must confess that most of the stories have merged into an amorphous blob, but I do keenly recall The Fubar Suit and would recommend that story particularly. It follows two parallel storylines: An astronaught coming to terms with crash-landing on an asteroid with no hope of rescue; and a member of a group of beings who seeks to find some answers about their world.
This is certainly not a book that falls into the ‘light reading’ category. Prepare to do much thinking and, if you’re lucky, talking, about the ideas in here.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Time; Space; Origin; Voyage; The Time Ships; The Massacre Of Mankind
What’s next? Destiny’s Children I: Coalescent
Why I read it: I’d reread all my the Red Dwarf books and thought I’d carry on the trend and reread the Rob Grant books I have.
What is it about?: In the near future when the United States of Europe is a thing, and no one, regardless of suitability can be denied a job, a secret agent finds himself fighting to survive.
Thoughts: Like Red Dwarf, this is stuffed full of social commentary where, due to gross incompetence in others, Harry Salt struggles to achieve the most simplest things such as hire a car or board a train. In fact so much time and energy is spent on each mundane activity, that the book reads more like a series of episodes or sketches with a loose overriding arc over the whole thing. This is more of an observation than a criticism because each scene of jam-packed full of very funny moments – the priapismic waiter serving soup is particularly hilarious. We’ve all bought faulty goods or have received some manner of bad service. This book takes those incidents and blows them up to the extreme.
Now I last read this back in 2007 before Brexit was even a thing. Reading it now, the main crux of the plot (the big reveal, if you will) is actually quite alarming and you can’t help but wonder if there’s more fact than fiction here.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Colony; Fat. With Doug Naylor: Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers; Red Dwarf: Backwards; Red Dwarf: Better Than Life
What’s next? I’m going to reread Fat by Rob Grant
Why I read it: My parents have a whole host of fun books like this. Thought I’d re-read this one.
What is it about?: By accidentally and stupidly killing themselves, some people have managed to improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it. This is a collection of accounts of such incidents.
Thoughts: This reads as a collection of anecdotes collected into loosely themed chapters. Each chapter opens with a short essay that really got in the way of getting on with reading about stupid people. Having read all the essays I have no recollection of what any of them were about. Despite the essays, this is an entertaining, if sobering chronicle of humanity at its most terminally idiotic.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Darwin Awards 2; Darwin Awards 3
What’s next? If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot
Why I read it: I’ve enjoyed other books by Spike Milligan so thought to give this a go.
What is it about?: Ostensibly, it’s about Robin Hood, but it’s not really.
Thoughts: This is a collection of words written with only a passing resemblance of order. Almost unreadable, this gibberish is Spike Milligan at his most rambling. It starts off almost legible, but progressively devolves so much that by the end, I just wanted it to end. There was a scattering of lines that did make me laugh, but not enough to salvage the rest.
Score: Boring – Nonsensical
I’ve also read: Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall; The Bedside Milligan; Monty: His Part In My Victory; Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall; Rommel? Gunner Who; Spike Milligan’s Transports Of Delight; William McGonnagle Meets George Gershwin A Scottish Fantasy
Why I read it: Loving this series and finally found this in my local library.
What is it about?: When the truth behind their Mandalorian companion is revealed, Zayne must right some wrongs and rescue Jarael.
Thoughts: This is the final story with the full ensemble and it was very fulfilling. I can’t give too much away, but this nicely ties up a lot from the whole series. The artwork was much more consistent too. A very satisfying conclusion.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: So much Star Wars!!!
What’s next? Star Wars: Knights Of The Olds Republic 10: War

And that was December.
I managed all of 130 books this year. Not bad at all.

What’s up for January 2018?
Here’s my TBR:

Read Completely:
1. Predator: If It Bleeds. A short story compilation and my book of the month.
2-5. Star Wars: Clone Wars x4 graphic novels
6. Star Wars: Shadow Games by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
7. Star Wars: I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole
8. Star Wars: Children Of The Jedi by Barbara Hambley
9-10. 2 Goosebumps Books

Finish:
11. Star Wars: Clone Wars V: The Best Blades (graphic novel)
12. The Expanse: Persepolis Rising (reading to my wife)
13. W.A.R.P.: The Forever Man by Eoin Coiffer (reading to my oldest).
14. Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe

50 Pages of:
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia
Shadowmancer II: The Curse Of Salamander Street by G.P. Taylor
The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams (short stories).

As much as I can of:
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World by Harry Harrison
Doctor Who: Dead Of Winter by James Goss
Dragon Orb I: Firestorm by Mark Robson (reading to my youngest)
A Song Of Ice And Fire: A Dance With Dragons I: Dreams And Dust by George R. R. Martin
The Case-Book Of Sherlock Holmes

To see all the books I’m currently reading check out my Currently Reading page.

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November 2017 Book Wrap-Up

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

Why I read it: Having already read and enjoyed book 1, I picked this up from the library when I spotted it.
What is it about?: A magical world-spanning ocean called the pirate stream once again touches the Earth and Marril, re-joins her friends once again this time in a bid to save the planet from getting torn apart.
Thoughts: In the first book, we travelled to a few interesting and imaginative places and I left that book looking forward to visiting more places in this one. With that expectancy, I was a little disappointed that we only visited a couple. However, they were indeed interesting and imaginative with the titular city being the setting for most of the story.
There was a lot of emphasis on want and need that drove many plot points and threats, which made for a different type of ‘engine’ running the story. Unlike most stories where this need is realised in the stealing of that gold or the murdering of that competition, this need is more of that unspent yearning which is spun into something tangible. It encompasses most of the characters and plot points as well as shines the first book in a more needy light. Fin’s need to be remembered, Marrill’s need for her mother’s recovery, the Naysayer’s need to look after the cat, Coll’s need to keep on sailing and Ardent’s need to find his lost love.
In a bid to keep this world ‘fresh’ they Marrill’s teenage babysitter was dragged along too and she played the fish-out-of-water character. Beyond that, there wasn’t really anything she added to the story or the plot, which was a wasted opportunity. In some scenes she may as well not even be there and it’s only when she finally speaks or reacts to something that I’m reminded that she’s even in the story.
As with book one, the story is accompanied by some fabulous pieces of artwork that feel like they’re stills from an animated TV series or film and accentuated the story beautifully.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Map To Everywhere.
What’s next? I’d like to read book 3: Shadows Of A Lost Sun, but I’ll have to wait until I find it in the library. So will be kicking off the InCryptid series with Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire which I spotted in the library and thought looked quite fun, not just because of the front cover.
Why I read it: I have so many graphic novels that I want to add to Goodreads. Rereading them and adding them as I go. Working my way through the Star Wars section chronologically.
What is it about?: The Clone Wars are in full swing and Quinlan Vos is going deep, deep undercover while Aayla Secura joins a team of Jedi investigating goings on on the planet Devaron.
Thoughts: Quinlan and Aayla are by far my favourite Jedi, so I really enjoyed rereading this. Quinlan’s dance with the dark side make him a really compelling character. In order to be convincing as a dark Jedi, he must do things a Jedi should never do and the effect it has on him and those who are close to him is dramatic.
Aayla’s confrontation with the bounty hunter Aurra Sing is also a delight. Both having had some training from the vampirish Anzati and carrying a lot of pain and confusion from their Jedi masters. In a genre where there are lightsaber clashes aplenty, this is one of the more memorable and satisfying ones.
The final story of Qunlan Vos’s assassination mission for Count Dooku is edgy and you’re left wondering if Quinlan is still succeeding with his internal battle against the dark side and is playing the part, or if he’s fallen to and merely deceiving himself.
Throughout, the artwork is impeccable and is probably the reason why Aayla is as popular as she is.
Score: Booktastic
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars books
What’s next? Star Wars: Clone Wars V: The Best Blades
Why I read it: For the last two books of the month I’ve read books 1 and 2 of this trilogy. It’s only fitting I finish the trilogy this month.
What is it about?: Now that Amber’s turned the tables on her parents, she’s now hunting them. Unfortunately, her new job keeps getting in the way.
Thoughts: A satisfying conclusion to a fun trilogy. Deliciously graphic and violent, this book directly follows on from the conclusion to book two, so I can’t say much without spoiling the other books in the series. Needless to say, the stakes are higher, the monsters are tougher and Amber is still useless in combat. I consider this a good thing because too many times the perfectly ordinary loser suddenly gets some super power and then can not only wield them proficiently but they also suddenly know Kung-Fu. Amber’s still the Amber she was, there’s just a new aspect of her life she has to deal with.
The story-arcs for the secondary characters are also satisfying or tragic. Again, no names can be mentioned here.
This still has that X-Files feel, particularly when they’re up against the clown but that style of adventure features less here. In fact, the books in the trilogy have got progressively shorter. A lot of the first book was attributed to Amber bouncing from one encounter to the next, to the next, and again, and again. Book 2 was more of one all-encompassing encounter. This time the encounters are directly linked to the plot, with Amber finally having a goal to aim for.
The only spoilerish thing I will reveal is that the ending does potentially have the set-up of further books in the series. I’m not saying there will be, but it’s left in a way that means there could be.
I did enjoy this series that’s full of interesting monsters and gadgets. I can see that Amber’s ineptitude could irritate some readers. Particularly that, despite that, she keeps surviving her encounters and usually due to interventions by others.
My only real gripe is that the plastic protective film has begun to unpeel from the covers making them look messy. I expect more from a brand new book that doesn’t give much change from a tenner.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Demon Road; Demon Road: Desolation; Skulduggery Pleasant; Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire
What’s next? I’m planning for this year’s last book of the month to match its first, with Ernest Cline and I’ll be reading Armada.
Why I read it: Before I joined Goodreads at the end of last year, I never added graphic novels to my books read list. Been rereading my graphic novels and adding them to the list that way. This was one I had out the library before and it’s the same battered copy this time.
What is it about?: After the death of Prince Xixor, his custom-built assassin/sex bot seeks to remove her assassin programming.
Thoughts: 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: Lots of Star Wars!
What’s next? Another library reread: Agent Of The Empire: Iron Eclipse.
Why I read it: I’m a big fan of the show and was able to pick up the novels when they were available. Giving them a reread.
What is it about?: After a research facility is burnt down, a surviving scientist afflicted with a deadly contagion is in a race against time to find a cure. Special Agents Mulder and Scully are left picking up the pieces in his wake.
Thoughts: You know this is an X-Files story because it has The X-Files on the front cover to remind you it is.
The story itself was interesting enough with some thought-provoking aspects of medical research ethics and the conspiracy to control public access to medical breakthroughs. The level of threat from the ‘monster’ was pretty high with a nicely disturbing fate for his victims. The scene with the vet was a particular highlight. Of the books, I would say this one is probably the least “X-Filesy” in that the great mystery is definitively explained and doesn’t fall under either the paranormal or supernatural headings. It’s definitely along the lines of one of the “Monster-Of-The-Week” episodes in that there’s very little to do with the franchise outside of this story. If you were to change out Mulder and Scully with two other characters and the FBI for some other investigative organisation or group, the story would be exactly the same, or might even have benefitted from not having the story-telling restrictions of tying it into a
franchise.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: The X-Files: Darkness Falls; Goblins; Ground Zero; The Host; Humbug; Ruins; Shapes; Skin; Squeeze; Tiger, Tiger; Whirlwind; X Marks The Spot
What’s next? I’ll be rereading The X-Files: Skin
Why I read it: I’ve been adding graphic novels I’ve read to my reading lists, but I’m rereading them first. Happened to find this in the library.
What is it about?: Agent Cross, of the Imperial Security Bureau is the man they send to investigate suspected traitors of the Empire. His latest mission to investigate stolen droid technology turns out to be far more dangerous than expected.
Thoughts: So the Galactic Empire is full of evil xenophobic megalomaniacs who fill their days enslaving populations and crushing the weak underfoot, right? Well, no actually, at least no more so than any other civilization or governing body. This is a side to the Empire that Luke Skywalker never sees from the sands of Tatooine to the cockpit of his X-wing as he barrels down the Death Star trench.
The Empire, like any other organisation, is run on rules and is reliant on may parts. If those rules are broken and those parts don’t do their job, Agent Cross is the man to fix the problem. If Cross is guilty of anything, it’s that he believes the lies the Empire has fed him about the Jedi orchestrating the civil war in a bid to seize power. He views corruption as an act of treachery against the Empire.
This is a thrilling spy story with more than a subtle flavour of James Bond about it. The main plot of the story is entertaining enough, but is largely overshadowed by the charisma of Agent Cross. I actually had to go look up the main plot of the story just now, the telling was so enjoyable that what it was about didn’t matter. I loved that fact that if this were a traditions Star Wars story with Luke and co. Agent Cross would be the enemy (he would certainly view the rebellion with distaste) and one in which Luke would probably meet his match. Chronologically, this story is based when Luke’s still wanting to go to Toschi station to pick up power converters and other time-wasting activities with his friends.
If you like spy stories fully of action and intrigue with a lead character that can carry a story, then definitely give this one a go.
The artwork’s not bad either.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: 148 Star Wars books I’m not going to list here.
What’s next? I’ve found book 7 of the Knights of the Old Republic in the library! Yay!
Why I read it: There’s a whole bookcase of Buffy books in my house. So…
What is it about?: Buffy and the gang experience shared dreams of the Salem during the time of the witch trials. History is trying to repeat itself.
Thoughts: Set during season 1 of the TV show, this stand-alone story sees Buffy and the gang dream a lot. For such a small story, there are a lot of characters and a convoluted plot. There are some interesting moments, particularly Xander’s possession by the ghost of a witch (and walking as used to a different set of hips), but there’s an awful lot of not much really happening. Giles is ill, Willow sits at a computer, Buffy can’t kill (the baddies are possessed, not evil), Angel’s off brooding somewhere and…oh wait, it’s season one, that’s that whole gang. Conversely, adding the Master as the main evil behind the shenanigans actually made what plot there was, nonsensical. As with Coyote Moon, the whole big evil bad thing that could threaten life as we know it is…suddenly defeated and that’s it, the end.
This could almost be truncated to the sequence before the opening credits which would then lead into the real meat of the story.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: Tales Of The Slayer (Volumes 1-3); Coyote Moon; Halloween Rain; Harvest; Spike & Dru: Pretty Maids All In A Row
What’s next? Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Angel Chronicles Volume I
Why I read it: I adore StarCraft and everything StarCrafty. Of course I’m going to read it.
What is it about?: After the Guild Wars, Jim Raynor and Tychus Findley are living a life of crime. However, an enemy from their past has set out to destroy them.
Thoughts: This is the continuation of the origin story nobody asked for as started in Heaven’s Devils. However, even though it was something that I never even considered as something worth finding out about, this was a very entertaining and fulfilling read. Here is the opportunity to get to know the real James Raynor and how deep his friendship with Tychus really was. The threat from the bounty hunter chasing them was palpable as was the feeling of loss when the other Devils fell into his hands. The action was exciting and well realised (no shaky cam here). Raynor’s return to the homestead was a little by the numbers, but still tugged the heartstrings effectively. Raynor’s final confrontation was actually quite moving. The story ended as expected, all ready for the original game to kick off. It also makes Raynor’s action at the end of Wings of Liberty all the more heart-breaking.
These may have had the glaring omission of Protoss or Zerg, but the larger than life characters, the action and adventure as well as a good dose of heart, made it so that I hardly noticed.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Liberty’s Crusade; Shadow Of The Xel’Naga; Speed Of Darkness; I, Mengsk; The Dark Templar Saga (Firstborn; Shadow Hunters; Twilight); Heaven’s Devils.
What’s next? StarCraft: Evolution
Why I read it: I really enjoy this particular series but only have the first few volumes and read up to volume 6. Spotted this one in the library.
What is it about?: Now that Zayne has been cleared of murder he is now embarking on a life of opportunities. This volume contains 3 stories:
Profit Motive: The team try to scam an illegal stock exchange in planets. It doesn’t go as planned.
Execution: The team encounter a derelict ship, crew murdered and one Bimm survivor.
Duelling Ambitions:
Zayne enters a dangerous swoop competition only to find that under the exciting facade is a conspiracy of cruelty.
Thoughts: Now that the original story arc has concluded, the storyline has lost quite a bit of focus and has fallen into a more episodic format. The minor overarching theme of Jareal’s past and potential future barely gives enough to make a hook for more. Also, as before with this series, the artwork fluctuates wildly between each ‘episode’. The quality is pretty good, it’s just inconsistent.
Profit Motive featured a Chevin crime-boss and introduced the Chev slaves. I always found the Chevin a fascinating species and enjoyed seeing a bit more about them. The story itself was a little convoluted but was more amusing because of it. It features a pivotal scene with Jarael.
Score: Worth reading
Faithful Execution had what I would call a ‘messy’ art style that detracted initially, but as the chilling story unfolded, actually fit quite well. It made me think of the Firefly episode Bushwhacked.
Score: Buy the book for this story
Duelling Ambitions was also a little convoluted, but with a more serious plot, it didn’t work quite as well as in Profit Motive. Still, the action was exciting enough, but the whole thing did feel a bit of a set-up story for the next story-arc as revelations about Jarael’s past finally come to the surface.
Score: Worth reading
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars books.
What’s next? Volume 8 as and when (and if) I ever get my hands on a copy.

So, that was November.
What’s up for December?
Here’s my TBR:

Read Completely:
1. Armada by Ernest Cline (my book of the month)
2-5. Star Wars: Clone Wars x4 graphic novels
6. Star Wars: Shadow Games by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
7. Star Wars: I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole
8. Star Wars: Children Of The Jedi by Barbara Hambley
9-10. 2 Goosebumps Books

Finish:
11. Star Wars: Clone Wars V: The Best Blades (graphic novel)
12. Skulduggery Pleasant III: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy(reading to my wife)
13. W.A.R.P.: The Forever Man by Eoin Coiffer (reading to my oldest).
14. InCryptid I: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (my library book)
15. Left Behind IV: Soul Harvest by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
16. Manifold IV: Phase Space by Stephen Baxter (short stories)
17. Temperance Brennan II: Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs

50 Pages of:
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia
Incompetence by Rob Grant
Shadowmancer II: The Curse Of Salamander Street by G.P. Taylor
The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams (short stories).

As much as I can of:
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World by Harry Harrison
Robin Hood According To Spike Milligan
Doctor Who: Dead Of Winter by James Goss
Dragon Orb I: Firestorm by Mark Robson (reading to my youngest)
A Song Of Ice And Fire: A Dance With Dragons I: Dreams And Dust by George R. R. Martin

To see all the books I’m currently reading check out my Currently Reading page.