March 2017 Book Wrap-Up

Another month of reading done, another 12 books finished. What were they this time and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: Jessethereader kept banging on about this trilogy and it sounded like the sort of thing I’d enjoy so I picked them up. Read book 1 as February’s book of the month, this was March’s and book 3 will be April’s.
What is it about?: This story continues the adventure of Jacob and his peculiar friends as they attempt to travel to blitz-filled London to right a wrong that happened at the end of book 1.
Thoughts: I do very much enjoy flipping through these books, looking at the photos, which are strange enough on their own, and then getting to them in the story and them then making sense. Except these are actual photos of actual weirdos taken for who knows what peculiar reason.
As for the story, I did struggle a bit in that the story never went in the direction I expected it to, which I’ve decided is actually a good thing. It did seem a shame, though, that many of the introduced peculiars didn’t hang about for very long.
It was also nice to have a little origin story for most of the peculiars. Enoch was less creepy in this one but still pretty caustic. Hugh’s bee revelation was a little sad but he did get an awesome rescue scene.
The final twists were pretty fantastic and I can’t wait until next month so I can read the third book.
Score: Booktastic
Why I read it: Going through my graphic novel collection. Working on the Star Wars chronologically.
What is it about?: Darth Maul sees Maul sent on a mission to destroy the leadership of the Black Sun criminal organisation. It is set just before the events of the novel Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter.
Thoughts: This story features plenty of bad-assery on the part of Maul as he slaughters hoards of nameless bad guys. The artwork is top notch and the action is brilliantly portrayed. However, with the exception of the female assassin bodyguards for one of the vigos and the top man himself, the characters are very uninteresting. They’re just there to die at Maul’s hand as he effortlessly Terminator’s his way through the lot. Only the Nightsister (which given the revelations in the Clones Wars makes for an interesting canon issue) gave him any semblance of a challenge.
If you like seeing Maul doing what you didn’t get to see him do in the movie, this is worth a look. If you wanted to know more about him, this gives you nothing except his tattooed torso.
Score: Worth reading
Why I read it: My graphic novels…I’m reading them.
What is it about?: Darth Sideous is still pulling strings getting various things into place. This time he’s using the Jedi to deal with the tumultuous Yinchorri (humanoid reptiles) with the benefit of having a potentially troublesome species curbed and some Jedi die.
Thoughts: This is actually a pretty good action flick with three bands of Jedi each facing their own problems. There’s some familiar faces and some new ones who may as well have been wearing red shirts. Particularly the member of the Jedi council we’ve never seen before, don’t get attached to him – Ki-Adi-Mundi takes his place on the council.
There’s a solid active ‘cast’ here with most of the council members getting a speaking roll at least as well as the appearance of some of the significant characters who feature in the Clone Wars graphic novels including a young padawan Whiphid by the name of K’kruhk and Aleena Jedi Master Tsui Choi. The Devaronian Villie Grahrk also makes a brief appearance.
It was great seeing some of the token presence characters from the films actually do stuff. Yoda’s also pretty bad-ass in this one when he needs to be. I wouldn’t want to be interrogated by him…
The artwork’s not bad, if a little cartoonish. The wide array of species drawn are pretty well represented.
The only negative on this one is the red shirt aspect that is rife with this era of graphic novels (and novels for that matter). A whole bunch of Jedi are introduced, only to get bumped off within the story. Having said that, these temporary characters did generate a little emotional gravitas before exit stage left. Being one of the earlier stories set in the run-up to Order 66, this does establish some of the more significant characters whose fates are left until much later (or, in the case of K’kruhk, much, much, much later).
Most enjoyable.
Score: Buy it.
Why I read it: I actually started reading this years ago as it was in the back of my parents’ car and it was something to do during the journey. Never really got anywhere with it and one day it was not there any-more. Finally gotten hold of a copy.
What is it about?: Earth has passed the point of no return regarding total ecological breakdown. The most wealthy entrepreneurs, largely responsible for the world’s plight’ band together to build six Star Arks (the Stark project) out in the Australians out-back to go live on the moon instead. Can EcoAction, a small band of whacked-out hippys and social drop-outs uncover this conspiracy and stop it before it is too late?
Thoughts: Despite the very scary ecological message that’s still relevant 20 years later, this is a very funny book. The farting camel scene had me laughing out loud. Tears formed.
The characters in the EcoAction team are caricatures of hippies and ageing trendies that borders on cartoonish. Walter’s hippy mannerisms and talking without saying anything is nicely complemented by his friend Zimmerman’s insanity. Rachel, CD and the Culhoons are merely there so that stuff happens. The members of Stark are archetypical fat cats without any semblance of morality, but with their own set of problems.
The story does meander a little bit and the ecological message is shouted loud and clear. However, the final few acts of the book really pick it up and makes for a great finish (and a certain flatulent camel). The ending is as expected and was pretty much spelt out in the rest of the book.
Score: Worth reading
Why I read it: I came to the Star Wars section of my TBR pile and rather that start the Jedi Academy trilogy I, couldn’t resist reading this one I’d recently picked up.
What is it about?: This is the official novelization of the film. It documents the events that were mentioned in one line of the opening crawl of A New Hope.
Thoughts: I like reading novelizations because often they add a bit of depth that either wasn’t in the film or was and I missed it. They allow you to see the thoughts of the characters as well as provide back-stories and other nuggets of info. In that, this book let me down. With the exception of a few ‘documents’ scattered throughout the story, one of which were memos regarding the installation of an exhaust port, there was very little elaboration over what the actors portrayed on screen. The last thoughts in the numerous death scenes was a nice touch and there was a little bit more focus of the power plays between Tarkin and Krennic.
It was written well enough that I was able to relive the movie experience while waiting for the blu-ray to be made available. The movie was better.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
Why I read it: My graphic novels…I’m reading them.
What is it about?: At the end of Jedi Council: Acts of War, the Jedi council decided to vote in Ki-Adi-Mundi to the council. This story shows why he was chosen.
Thoughts: One of the few Jedi Council members to get a speaking line in the films, plus one of the most upsetting Order 66 deaths (after Aayla Secura), we get to find out more about Ki-Adi-Mundi and Cerean culture. It was great seeing how a Jedi can do his duties while being a family man at the same time. The 20-1 female-male ratio of Cereans meant that Ki-Adi-Mundi was allowed to marry for the sake of the species.
This story takes a little while to get going leading to a bizarre aliens-type encounter in space (it would be great to see those things back again) and a rather unnecessary encounter with Jabba the Hutt and a lightning storm.
Jabba’s bestest buddy Ephant Mon also featured a fair bit in this story, and I enjoyed seeing him fleshed out a bit more. I always found him one of the more intriguing characters of Jabba’s entourage.
The bonus story at the back that follows Ki-Adi-Mundi’s first solo mission as a Jedi dealing with bandits on Cerea was a nice little bonus.
Score: Worth reading
Why I read it: I’d picked up the box set of all nine books, it was going cheap and I fancied giving it a go. Ended up reading them to my wife at bedtime.
What is it about?: Alex Rider is a 15 year old who has found himself going on succesive James Bond style spy missions to save the world. This is his seventh such adventure where he finds himself pitted against a snakehead criminal organisation and an assassination attempt.
Thoughts: This one took a little while to get going with the ‘straightforward’ and ‘minimal risk’ part of the mission taking up the majority of the book. I’d predicted the twist very early on.
It seems that Alex’s luck level equals Tintin’s as he is able to survive against impossible odds. Of course, being a James Bond inspired story does allow for this sort of thing, but I did find the waterfall scene perhaps a little bit of a stretch. The hospital scene was particularly dark for this series but did show the increased level of threat that the snakehead represented.
This edition had the bonus chapter ‘Coda’ telling us how ‘it’ happened. Although it did flesh out the sentence that described the scene a little, it didn’t really tell us anything already stated or implied in the original sentence, except perhaps add a little ambiguity to certain things.
This edition also featured an afterword by Anthony who revealed the origins and thoughts behind most of the names from the series. This was a nice touch.
Score: Worth reading – for completeness sake
Why I read it: There’s a bookcase full of hardback books based on the 2005 onwards series of Doctor Who just sitting there. Been working my way through it.
What is it about?: The 11th Doctor, along with Amy Pond and Rory Williams find themselves
Thoughts: I found this one a little difficult to engage with as so much of what happens and so many characters are not what they seem. It was unclear what was at stake and there were so many ‘big reveals’ that they had little impact. The reader-grabbing prologue did it’s job well, but the following story didn’t really relate to it.
I thought Rory made an excellent companion in this book and made some very strong contributions to the team. It’s somewhat unusual to have a strong male companion to the Doctor these days.
I found the aliens a bit woolly and due to their numerical names and human visages found it more effort that it was worth to keep up with who was whom.
Score: Boring – Nonsensical
Why I read it: I’d been going through by graphic novel collection and recently read the first 3 book of Knights of the Old Republic, the only books of the series I had. Came across this in my local library.
What is it about?: This features 2 story arcs:
Daze of Hate concludes the story from the Nights of Anger story arc from book 3. Zayne and one of his Jedi hunters is forced to work together to stop the exogorth swarm threat.
Knights of Suffering sees Zayne reunited with Gryph and they get embroiled in the Mandalorian invasion of Tarsis. This time Zayne is forced to team up with another of his Jedi hunters as well as the revenge-fuelled sister of the apprentice he is framed for murdering.
Thoughts: As this is two stories, I’ll cover them individually.
Daze of Hate:
I found this one of the weaker story-lines, despite the awesomeness of the exogorth (that’s Space Slugs to those who don’t know…you know, the thing that tried to eat the Millennium Falcon in Empire Strikes Back) swarm. I did enjoy the ‘reunions’ of the guests, that had some very funny moments. The conclusion to Campier’s story was quite impactful.
The art style was a bit of a let down, it had gone very cartoony compared to the first half of the story.
Knights Of Suffering:
This compelling story had some plot to it, but it was overshadowed by the character moments. The interplay between the vying factions and Zayne being teamed up with 2 individuals who want him dead was brilliant. I laughed out loud at the knee-in-the-armoured-but-not-armoured-enough scene. The artwork was much improved and looked really good.
All in all a very satisfying read, but fans of Jarael may be disappointed, she’s not in this one much.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: ‘Cos I like Star Wars
What is it about?: This continues the story of the pilots in the new Republic’s famous Rogue Squadron. This story follows directly on from the conclusion to the Last Command and the fall of Thrawn. Isard isn’t as dead as was first believed but this time wants to form an alliance with the Rogues in order to take down an Imperial warlord.
Thoughts: I’ve enjoyed all the X-Wing books so far and this, the eighth one, didn’t disappoint. The myriad descriptions of the particulars of TIE fighters blowing up has always amused me.
Often when characters get married or otherwise pair off, it can get a little stale, not so in this story. There was a good exploration of the controversial relationship between Gavin and Asyr as well as married opposing poles Mirax and Corran who still keep secrets from each other.
Excepting for the newly promoted Wedge Antilles and Iella Wessiri who did get plenty of ‘screen time’, most of the other pilots didn’t really get much focus. When then inevitable deaths occurred, they were red shirts and nothing more. The two more significant deaths were a blow.
I greatly enjoyed Whistler and Cage’s break-out and adventure, and found that it was over far too quickly. I felt more time could have been spent with them.
If you haven’t read any of the previous X-Wing books, I would strongly urge you to read them before this one. There are many references and plot points that follow those books. If this were an episode on a TV series, there would have been a substantial ‘Previously on Rogue Squadron’ segment. I think even some of the graphic novels were referenced.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: Graphic novels, gotta read ’em.
What is it about?: With the Tusken Raiders seemingly organised and lead my a mysterious figure, Ki-Adi-Mundi is sent to Tattoine to discover the fate of Sharad Hett, a Jedi and former padawan of Eeth Koth who was believed dead. Following him into the desert is Aurra Sing, seeking to kill not one, but two Jedi.
Thoughts: After the lengthy Prelude To Rebellion, it’s surprising that they kept with Ki-Adi-Mundi. Particularly as, away from Cerea and his family, there’s less to learn about him. However, with the inclusion of the bloodthirsty Aurra Sing, Hutts, a Krayt Dragon and a closer look at Tusken Raiders’ society, the focus was never going to be on the Jedi hero. There’s also the introduction of A’Sharad Hett, who goes on to bigger things, particularly in the Legacy storyline much, much, much later. I also appreciated seeing Aurra’s thoughts as she hunted the Jedi, making her a better character than just another mysterious hunter. It was a little unsettling where she breaks the fourth wall.
The artwork was top-notch and helped make this the compelling story it was.
Score: Buy it
Why I read it: Having read book one to my eldest who enjoyed it, of course we would move on to book 2.
What is it about?: Having returned from the past, Chevron Savanno now lives in an alternate reality where a time-travelling tyrant had conquered the Victorian world after she left and shaped it to his design. Chevie must return to the past to stop events before they start, only she has no memory of her alternate self.
Thoughts: An interesting switch on the time-travel trope where usually the time-travellers always remember every iteration of reality, purely because they are time-travellers. This features some of the characters and places from the first book, as well as plenty of new ones and more sewage than you can shake a bog brush at.
Where Garrick, the villain in the first book was particularly memorable and gave a real sense of threat to our young heroes, Colonel Box and the Thundercats, in contrast, provided more of a James Bondesque villains that was less interesting. Yes, there was the whole ‘If we don’t stop this then the world we know will be gone’ aspect, they just didn’t come up to Garrick’s level of malevolence.
The finale with the tank was nicely over the top.
Score: Worth reading…to a child

And that was March.
What do I have coming up in April?
I intend to –
Finish:
1. My library book, Silver by Chris Wooding
2. Icespell by C.J. Busby by (reading to my youngest)
3. The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge by Harry Harrison
4. Bodyguard Of Lightning by Stan Nicholls

Read completely:
5. The final book of the Miss Peregrin’s Peculiar Children Trilogy by Ransom Riggs. This will be the book of the month so will have to be read first before I can read anything else (not counting what I read to others).
6-10. The first 5 books of the Goosebumps series we have in the house, starting with Welcome To Dead House by R. L. Stein
11, Medusa’s Children by Bob Shaw
12-15. At least 4 graphic novels starting with Star Wars: Republic: Twilight

A 50ish page bite out of:
The Return Of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Congo by Michael Crichton
Intervention by Julian May
The Willows and Beyond by William Horwood

As much as I can of:
My other library book, A Second Chance at Eden by Peter F. Hamilton
Dreams And Dust by George R. R. Martin (My A Song Of Ice A Fire Friday Lunchtime Read)
Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall by Spike Milligan
Darkness Comes by Dean Koontz
The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (I intend to read this in it’s entirety but I doubt I’ll read it all this month, then it’ll be interrupted by April’s book of the month).

If you check out my Currently Reading page, you’ll find out more about my reading style and even monitor my progress.

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