January 2017 Book Wrap-Up

One month of reading done, 12 books finished. What were they and what did I think of them?

star-wars-tales-of-the-jedi-1-the-golden-age-of-the-sith
Why I read it: I’ve decided to read through all my graphic novels again. My target is one a week.
What is it about?: The first book in the Tales of the Jedi series (not to be confused with the more recent Knights of the Old Republic series), gives us one of the first looks at the Old Republic. Focusing primarily on a pair of trail-blazing siblings as they try to discover new hyperspace lanes, only to stumble upon the world of Korriban.
Thoughts: Being the first of a series, this books sets up a lot of the key players, or those whose legacy has an impact in the later books. It was nice seeing the Sith strutting their stuff on Korriban.
Score: Buy it.
ready-player-one
Why I read it: It came highly recommended on booktube and I liked the sound of it.
This was my book of the month (a book I must read before I can start or continue anything else)
What is it about?: In a bleak future of overpopulation and economic collapse, there’s the ultimate MMORPG – Oasis. A place where you can attend school, shop. go on dates, fight dragons and just chill out with or without others. It just so happens that ownership of Oasis and the enormous fortune that goes with it is up for grabs to the first player to find the 3 Easter eggs hidden in the game. The story follows one player (User Name: Parzival) on the quest to find the Easter eggs and discovers a dangerous competition that spills out into the real world.
Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this. Being born in the UK 1980 I was more raised in the 80s than grew up in the 80s so some of the pop culture references I would have been too young to have been aware of at the time or hadn’t made it’s way across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, there were plenty I still got to appreciate. I’d even played the Atari Adventure game mentioned. I found the main characters enjoyable enough to spend the experience with and the villain was believable.
The only negative I can think of is that Parzival seems to be able to hack his way into or out of any situation. It didn’t spoil the story for me, but I found one particular hacking scene a little unbelievable.
Though my real life made me put this book down, I would describe this as unputdownable. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. Being my first book of the year, it’s set the bar high very early.
Score: Booktastic!
discworld-6-wyrd-sisters
Why I read it: Terry Pratchett is one of my most favourite authors. I adore the Discworld series and endlessly read through it. This is my first read-through now it’s ‘complete’. Sniff.
What is it about?: All Discworld stories take place upon a disc-shaped world, mounted on four elephants who stand upon the shell of Great Atuin, the space-faring turtle. A small sun orbits this unlikely place making it singularly unique in that once in a while an elephant has to lift a leg to let the sun go past. This particular story is a send-up of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (with bits of Hamlet and King Lear). The king is murdered and it falls to three witches to see that his infant son is kept safely out of harm’s way.
Thoughts: With the Discworld stories still in their infancy (this is only book 6 out of 41) this is the first story based in the mountainous village of Lancre (Equal Rites was technically 1st to be in the Ramtops region but didn’t stay there). The formidable Granny Weatherwax makes a return appearance, whose highlight for my was when she was first exposed to the theatre.
I don’t know my Shakespeare all that well, so a lot of the send ups would have gone over my head, but despite that, this makes an enjoyable read that introduces some excellent recurring characters.
Score: Buy it
star-wars-tales-of-the-jedi-3-knights-of-the-old-republic-the-freedon-nadd-uprising
Why I read it: I’ve decided to read through all my graphic novels again. My target is one a week.
What is it about?: Unlike the rest of the Tales of the Jedi series, this book is more a series of short stories. One follows the story of brothers Ulic and Cay Qel-Droma are sent by Master Arca to war-torn Ossus to sort out the issues there. Another introduces the characters of Noomi Sunrider and Oss Willum as they begin their Jedi training while being hounded by a greedy Hutt. This edition also features the Freedon Nadd Uprising which sees all our Jedi heroes converge on Ossus once more to stop the resurgence of loonies following Freedon Nadd once and for all. It also introduces two cousins trying to acquire as many Sith artefacts and knowledge as they can.
Thoughts: Although this is a series of short stories, they all do link up in the final Freedon Nadd uprising, hence putting them all into one book. However, due to the disjointed feel between stories (which were fine each on their own), the overarching story doesn’t flow as well as it should. It was a little off-putting that the art in the Freedon Nadd Uprising was also a little different to the rest of the book. Master Arca particularly looks very different here.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
buffy-the-vampire-slayer-3-coyote-moon
Why I read it: My wife introduced me to the series which eventually rubbed off on me. She also has some of the books, I figured I’d give them a go.
What is it about?: Based during the events of Season 1 on the TV show, this ‘episode’ is vampire-free. Instead Buffy and the Scooby Gang face off against a Carnival and some coyotes that may have, or may not have come with the carnival.
Thoughts: I know this book is for less mature readers, but I did find it a mite predictable. Of course the coyotes are clearly the carnies, this is a Buffy story after all. I was hoping for the double bluff but no, it’s exactly as labelled on the tin. In terms of characterisation, again we see Xander’s total inability to identify the adoration in Willow for him as he makes googoo eyes at the attractive carny. The twist, when it popped up, felt like it came out of nowhere, and not in the way that twists are supposed to. I also found the conclusion very sudden: here comes the big-bad, oh, Buffy’s killed him the end. Seriously, the story’s wrapped up from building threat to THE END in the last page and a half.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
deathmatch-1-killing-in-the-name deathmatch-2-a-thousand-cuts
Why I read it: I spotted these in the library and was intrigued enough to give them a go. Not being all that up to speed with superhero stories (any good entry-level stories you could recommend?) I hadn’t realised that all the heroes and villains in this story were created for just this story.
What is it about?: for some unknown reason, 32 of the word’s greatest heroes and villains find themselves in a facility where they are paired off to fight to the death. Friend kills friend, foe kills foe, lover kills lover. Much of the first story sees these 32 characters quickly whittled down. Between matches, the survivors are trying to work out just what is going on and why this is happening. In part 2, there’s not many competitors left, the dark past of one of them is revealed along with the mysterious 32nd competitor.
Thoughts: As I mentioned, I hadn’t realised these heroes are not already established characters from a wider universe, but created for the purposes of these books. The fact that the back of both books features profiles of all 32 contestants (developed further for the survivors in the 2nd book) including origin story, true name and comic issue they first featured in. Searching for these comics online proved them to be fictional.
Despite their fabricated nature, the profiles along with established relationships and flashback scenes featuring snapshots of panels of the fictional comics they supposedly featured in, these characters felt really fleshed out. This includes the character of Apex who’s the first to die, just before the first panel of the story.
The other aspect that helped relate to the characters is their similarity (yet legally distinctive) to their mainstream counterparts. There’s Dragonfly who shoots stunning barbs from his wrist and can fly as long as he ‘alights’ upon a grounded object once a minute (Spider-man); Sable, a shadowy, gadget-using fighter (Batman) and her nemesis Mr. Chuckles (Joker). The most obvious is perhaps the Meridian (Superman). Others are amalgams of a number of heroes and some are unique.
My biggest gripe is less to do with the story and more to do with my library. Despite all of the librarys in the library network miraculously not getting shut (yet), not one of them has the third and final book of the series. You know, the book with the conclusion to the story, the book that might have some answers in it. Why stock a 3-part series but not all three books?
I digress…regarding what I have read, I greatly enjoyed the story and found the artwork of good quality. The death counts at the end of each chapter are beautifully done, if unsettling to look at…
Score: Worth reading – a decent kick off with many, many character deaths Worth reading – The mystery deepens. I need book 3!
gone-5-fear
Why I read it: I must confess, I first picked up Gone and Hunger purely because of the yellow and orange fore edges and black cover. Having got them, I read them and loved them. This is book 5 of 6.
What is it about?: In Gone, everyone in Perdito Beach aged over 15 vanished. Furthermore there’s a dome with a 1 mile radius sealing the children in (and the rest of the world out). Furthermore, some children find they have super powers such as telekinesis, super speed, teleportation, etc. So far the children have had to survive reaching their fifteenth birthday, war, animals with super powers, starvation, disease, a mysterious evil. In this book, those that survived all that now find that the dome itself is going opaque and have to deal with all that again, only this time in the pitch black.
Thoughts: Though I still enjoyed it, I found this book a little tired. More of the named characters have died, the old feuds have fizzled out-ish and there’s less of a threat. Apart from the dark, which takes so long to actually happen, that when it does, is less relevant than I feel it should have been. Mind you, but then other more pertinent stuff has kicked off.
I did like the little snippets outside the dome. It was nice to get some answers to what happens to the children who had a birthday.
In the end, this book was enjoyable enough, but it felt a bit like filler for the next book, Light.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
lolife-1-romeo-spikes
Why I read it: Spotted in the library, read the blurb and thought: “This looks like a Buffy/X-Files hunt the demon, type story”.
What is it about?: Bad thing’s coming to do…something. Must be stopped.
Thoughts: What a mess this book is! There’s the promised sub-plot of demons who take the life force from people they’ve coerced to commit suicide and the individuals determined to stop them. However, this was interspersed with mystic mumbo-jumbo secret-society drivel and characters who amount to nothing much before being killed off. By the time the team that’s going to save the world has got together and actual plot happens (about 3/4 of the way through the book), I had no idea what the hell was going on nor did I care about the characters. I did find the concluding act on the train quite thrilling, but didn’t really know why any of it was going on. Yes, I knew who the bad guy was, but not what the stakes were. This was so close to being a DNF but I was determined to see it through. Wish I hadn’t bothered. Not going to seek out book 2.
Score: Toilet Paper – with so many books out there, don’t waste time on this one.
did-i-ever-tell-you-how-lucky-you-are green-eggs-and-ham
Why I read it: I read these to my 7 year old son who had picked up a collection of Dr Seuss books with his Christmas book vouchers.
What is it about?: This books features a young lad as he’s accosted by an old man sitting on a cactus, as you do. The old man then lists a whole bunch of reasons why the lad should consider himself very lucky and lists a series of examples of those worse off. An unnamed creature is consistently pestered by another creature named Sam-I-Am in regards to eating a proffered plate of eggs and ham that are an unappetising shade of green.
Thoughts: For an early readers book, I found some of Dr Seuss’ typically zany sentences quite tongue tripping. The book’s message of counting your blessings is somewhat lost by the list of fantastical people and things suffering overly bizarre misfortunes. Once I’d read it, my son had no comment to add.
I enjoyed the challenge of reading this out loud, but lacking any story I can see why it’s not as well known as many of Dr Seuss’ other titles.
With the exception of the 2 protagonists and the food on offer, this story is based in a more realistic world featuring real creatures and things. A little unusual for a Dr Seuss book. The moral of the book is either if you keep pestering you’ll get your own way or don’t be afraid to try new things. Or both. Fortunately my son discussed the merits of trying new things.
Featuring a progressive repetitive dialogue, this early readers book is accessible to most readers and a fun one to read out loud.
I had read this years ago, glad I got a chance to read it again.
Score: Worth reading…to a child
star-wars-tales-of-the-jedi-6-the-sith-war
Why I read it: I’ve decided to read through all my graphic novels again. My target is one a week.
What is it about?: This book sees the culmination of the events of all that preceded it as the Sith wage all-out war on the Republic and the Jedi in a two-pronged attack that sees many significant characters face off against each other with brother against brother, master against apprentice and ally against ally.
Thoughts: Only owning the 3 books listed here, (books 1, 3 and 6) there are significant gaps missing in the story. I have read one of them, I think, from the library but that was a while ago. It’s nice seeing the progression of time in this series, the young whippersnappers introduced in the Golden Age of the Sith, are now wizened old duffers (or long dead) and legacies left behind are now coming to fruition. This is quite the action-packed tome, with many impactful moments. I found the artwork a little better this time too.
Score: Buy it
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