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.

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October 2017 Book Wrap-Up

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

Why I read it: It was lying about the office, so why not?
What is it about?: After a director of violent films wins the Oscar for Best Director, he finds himself being confronted by a pair of serial killers seeking to hold him responsible for their actions.
Thoughts: This is a satirical story that looks at how people are able to shirk all responsibility for their actions by placing the blame on someone or something else. In this case how violence in movies is often blamed for the actions of violent people who watch them. It also deals with how the news channels cover acts of violence and how they pump it into our homes. This is a particularly poignant and reinforcing message about the way that the news has covered the current atrocity of the Las Vegas killings and is precisely what Ben Elton was writing about (checks publication date) twenty years ago.
The story itself gets a little lost behind the message but is reasonably thrilling.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Dead Famous; Stark
What’s next? The Midden by Tom Sharpe
Why I read it: I saw this minding its own business in the library and thought I’d try it.
What is it about?: Several years after the event of The War Of The Worlds, the Martians are at it again and this time they’ve all had their inoculations first.
Thoughts: This is the official sequel to The War Of The Worlds, and Stephen Baxter is pretty knowledgeable regarding the writing style of H. G. Wells. This does read like the direct sequel it is supposed to be. Unfortunately, this does mean that we go on another rambling narration, this time with another hapless survivor (the sister of the ex wife of the narrator from the first book).
The story was interesting enough, it just took a long time for anything to happen and quite often the thing that was being built up to, just didn’t. Towards the end of the book there’s a flood of different reports of the invasion from different areas and they just got a bit repetitive and prolonged an ending that left me a little unsatisfied. I’m glad I read it, but I’m also glad I didn’t buy it.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: From Stephen Baxter: Time; Space; Origin; Voyage; The Time Ships
From H. G. Wells: The Time Machine; The Invisible Man; The First Men In The Moon; The War Of The Worlds
What’s next? The Map to Everywhere II: City Of Thirst by Carrie Ryan & John Parke Davis
Why I read it: My 8 year-old chose this for his bedtime story.
What is it about?: One minute Joe is out walking Henry, his dog, the next he finds himself in the unlikely land of Muddle Earth to fulfill the role of a warrior hero.
Thoughts: This is a younger-readers parody on the world of Middle Earth found in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings. A somewhat unusual decision as many younger readers (or those being read to) will not know much of Middle Earth. However, where some of the places (Mount Boom) and characters (Randalf the Wise) are parodies of their Middle Earth counterparts, this story is very much its own thing with a completely different series of adventures told in three ‘books’. Chris Riddell’s wonderful illustrations are found throughout and really complement the pictures painted by the words.
Filled with Ogres, Elves, Pink Stinky Hogs and roaming cutlery, this imaginative and silly book entertained my son greatly when I read it to him. He was delighted to hear that there is a second book out there. Although it lacks the depth of more adult books, I too enjoyed rereading it.
Score: Buy it
What’s next? Dragon Orb I: Firestorm by Mark Robson
Why I read it: Got a lot of graphic novels and am working my way through them.
What is it about?: The Clone Wars are in full swing, this is some of the stuff that happened.
Thoughts: As with the first volume, this is more of a collection of short stories.
The New Face Of War
Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi investigate strange goings on on one of Naboo’s moons and find themselves battling a mysterious bounty hunter going by the name of Durge as well as Asajj Ventress. The artwork of this one really reinforces the Jedis’ struggle in the poisoned air. The introduction of the Gen-Dai Durge to the franchise is brilliant, he’s a real tough opponent for the Jedi to face-off against. It also one of those rare instances where a new Jedi is introduced who is not bumped off by the end of the story. Great stuff.
Blast Radius
A badly injured Obi-Wan Kenobi recounts his mission to an installation in his search for the antidote to the poison featured in the previous story.
A different art style grates initially, but really goes on to accenuate the chaos of the scenery later. In some ways, this is a rehash of the preceding story with a bunch of Jedi facing off against Durge and Ventress, but the interesting characters and dynamic setting makes this an exciting and compelling read. Even though you only just meet them, the death of each Jedi is really poignant.
Shaak Ti
Another bonus Jedi story this time following Shaak Ti as she breaks into a secured prison facility and enlists the aid of some of those incarcerated to fulfill her mission. Excellent artwork and an intriguing story, particularly as one of the inmates was put there by Shaak Ti previously. We also meet up with Quinlan Vos as well as Sagoro Autum from Honor and Duty. A brilliant story.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Loads of Star Wars.
What’s next? Star Wars: Clone Wars III: Last Stand On Jabiim
Why I read it: Last month’s book of the month was book 1 of the series Demon Road. I liked that so much I thought I’d make book 2 this month’s book of the month.
What is it about?: Still on the run, Amber takes refuge in the town of Desolation Falls. Of course, there’s more to the town than expected.
Thoughts: Where book 1 was like a mini series of The X-Files, this book is more a feature-length episode. I did appreciate the change of style from road trip to mystery town. One interesting addition to this story in the inclusion of the Scooby Gang. Ok, not quite, but they are a bunch of young roaming do-gooders with their own van and a dog. They added a good dose of humour to an otherwise dark tale.
As before this story is deliciously graphic and gruesome but always relevant to the plot.
My only real issue was the wild-card element that only really surfaced as a convenience. I can’t say more due to SPOILERS.
The final thing that happened was quite the surprised, but does explain the front cover to American Monsters.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Demon Road; Skulduggery Pleasant; Playing With Fire
What’s next? Demon Road III: American Monsters will be November’s book of the month.
Why I read it: I’m a fan of the TV show and have put off reading these due to their lack of colour. Finally caved in and am giving them a go.
What is it about?: As if you don’t know…it’s the zombie apocalypse. In this volume we follow our band of survivors as they settle down in a prison. All is good-ish, until they stumble across a settlement called Woodbury.
Thoughts: And I thought David Morressy’s villain in the TV show was quite the bad man. He’s nothing compared to the Governor in the books. This version of the baddy is not for the faint hearted. Rape and severing are his modus operendi here, so head’s up for that.
While all that is going on, the character flaws in some of the other survivors are beginning to show, forcing cracks into the group. Something’s going to blow, and it’s not going to be good when it does.
I found it an interesting read, not necessarily enjoyable due to some of the subject matter. It doesn’t matter how you dress a rape scene or how relevant it is to the story, such a scene could (nor should) never be described as ‘enjoyable’. It certainly helps paint the Governor as a bad guy, though I’d already sussed that from his other actions. Anyway, that could be a whole discussion on its own, so moving on…
I found the character development in this one pretty weak, with the exception of Carol, who’s getting decidedly unhinged, no one really shines here, probably making the Governor’s scenes have greater impact as the only stuff that happens, happens because he’s doing it.
My usual issue again is it’s not always easy to tell who is who. It would be helpful to have a character reference sheet at the front or back just so I know who is who. There’s still one I don’t know who he is. I think he’s Hershell’s son, but I’m not sure.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read from The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye; Miles Behind Us; Safety Behind Bars; The Heart’s Desire
What’s next? Book 6, whenever I get my hands on it.
Why I read it: Gotta read all my graphic novels, because I want to. This one’s a reread.
What is it about?: There’s a civil war on the planet of Jabiim. There’s also a bit of that death stuff.
Thoughts: This story really hits home the futility and waste of war. The fact that it all takes place on a rain-spattered mudball with nothing really noteworthy adds to this feeling. After losing Obi-Wan Kenobi (we know he’s okay ‘cos he’s in A New Hope) Anakin Skywalker finds himself part of the now masterless Padawan Pack comprising of some new and familiar faces. The ‘story’ really is more of an endless series of skirmished where such-and-such dies and the named characters are whittled down.
With one of the highest death-counts in the series, I didn’t really get that engaged with most of the before they became one with the Force. Despite the intensive action, it’s quite a depressing read.
The follow-up story, Enemy Lines, was much more compelling. Anakin is paired up with the Jedi Tusken Raider A’Sharad Hett. This results in an interesting altercation between the two as all that Anakin sees is the face of his mother’s killers. A’Sharad also makes some interesting character developments and choices.
The artwork was solid throughout, its just a shame it worked a little to well on Jabiim in portraying the feeling of futility and hopelessness.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Soooo much Star Wars.
What’s next? Star Wars: Clone Wars: IV: Light And Dark
Why I read it: I had picked up the 9-book box set (back when it was only 9 books grrr!!!) and have been reading them to my wife. This is book 8.
What is it about?: Unwilling 14 year-old spy Alex Rider is done with spying and just wants to get on with his own life. Nope. Not going to happen.
Thoughts: Alex really does come across as the reluctant hero. Forced, in part, to do certain tasks but will also step up and do what is needed. This was less action adventure and more survival with Alex finding himself in situations out of his control and having to escape them. I think this also has Alex’s highest kill-count to date.
The villain in this story started off looking like they might be quite the memorable bad guy, but soon becomes another cardboard cut-out James Bond baddy to give Alex a hard time and have a evil and twisted plot.
Alex’s escape scenes were well developed with a good sense of threat and peril. As I’ve mentioned on previous Alex Rider books, the lad does seem to either be imbued with a Tintin level of luck or has been infected with the luck virus from Red Dwarf.
The more noticeable and surprising character development was with Alan Blunt, the indefatigable head of Special Operations. This was an enjoyable enough read, but I felt it lacked the depth matching the level of violence Alex was exposed to or threatened with.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Alex Rider books I – VII.
What’s next? Skulduggery Pleasant III: The Faceless Ones
Why I read it: Gotta do something while sitting here with a computer linked to such a shoddy network.
What is it about?: A disgraced yuppie is blackmailed into setting up a high-profile uncle. Nothing goes as planned.
Thoughts: I think I can best liken this book to an over-long and rambling joke whose eventual punchline is like one you’ve heard before only less funny. The lengthy set-up introduces a series of characters with their mildly amusing back-stories and peculiarities before completing the scene and then moving on to the next character. Timothy Bright, for example, is the pivotal character in all this and comes with a complete life-story. Unfortunately, once he’s set things in motion, he’s barely in the book at all.
The whole book does seem to be a build-up to the final showdown which has all the hallmarks of a Konstabel Els (Riotous Assembly) debacle. Yes it’s funny and over-the-top, but Konstabel Els did it so much better and it was one of a serious of hilarious and outrageous scenes in the book. Interestingly, the individuals who perpetrated the Middenhall Holocaust were secondary characters with only the briefest of introductions. So there’s pages and pages of back-story for non-relevant characters and very little provided on whose actually causing the mayhem.
Best give this one a miss.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read:
What’s next? Temperance Brennan II: Death Du Jour
Why I read it: I’ve already red the other four books of the series, makes sense to finish it.
What is it about?: It’s been a few decades since humanity has discovered how to ‘step’ over to alternate Earths. A mysterious invitation has come from the stars which could open up a lot more possibilities.
Thoughts: A satisfying conclusion to a deeply thought-provoking series. Not as strong as the first three books it is less of a story and more of a series of events and incidents. It showed in the Long Utopia and is clearly apparent here that Terry Pratchett’s failing health (and passing) left Stephen Baxter with the task of tying the various ideas into some sort of cohesive plot. If you’ve read any Stephen Baxter, you’d know that plot isn’t his strong suite.
Anyway, there are some fantastic scenes, particularly the giant tree forest of reaching wood which was simply amazing.
I was similarly delighted and disappointed that an anticipated trope following on from Utopia didn’t actually come up. It would have been nice to have seen that reunion, but I’m glad they avoided such an obvious return. Sorry to keep that vague, spoilers!
When I finished the book, I immediately tried looking up the meaning of the ending only to find a whole bunch of whining about the book and lamenting the lack of a sixth book. Not helpful. Having slept on it, I think I have worked it out making the ending quite impactfully epic and very clear as to why there is no need of the sixth installment.
Definitely a thinking reader’s book as well as series. If you don’t mind using those little grey cells, you’ll probably enjoy this.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Almost everything by Terry Pratchett and Time; Space; Origin; Voyage; The Time Ships; The Massacre Of Mankind; Time’s Eye, Sunstorm; The Light Of Other Days by Stephen Baxter
What’s next? Bromeliad I: Truckers
Why I read it: With the Discworld series spanning just about every genre and story, this is one of the best series to read over and over again.
What is it about?: The Night Watch of the city Ankh-Morpork is small (4 guardsmen) , incompetent (drunk, lazy, corrupt & naive) and the last thing the city wants. Until a dragon turns up.
Thoughts: This book introduces what is arguably the strongest character arcs of the whole series. I know of people who have only read the Night Watch books from the whole Discworld series. It has the hallmarks of a crime novel with a fantasy backdrop and dripping in satire and pop culture references.
What makes this novel particularly pivotal for the Discworld series is that it’s from this point onwards that the Discworld becomes a mappable and consistent realm. Up to now, each story has been largely unattached to the others in terms of setting and character. Here, the Ramtops, Ankh-Morpork, the Librarian, Lord Vetinary, the Mended Drum, Mrs Palm’s, the Night Watch (of course), Klatch and C.M.O.T. Dibbler are introduced to us or one another.
The story itself, follows a whodunnit-style mystery that is pretty solid even as just that. As a reread, knowing who dunnit in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book.
This is possibly the fifth time I have read this and it’s still as fresh and funny as it was when I first read it.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Pretty much every book that Terry Pratchett has ever written and got published.
What’s next? Discworld IX: Eric

So, that was October.
What’s up for November?

Read Completely:
1. American Monsters by Derek Landy (Book 3 of the Demon Road Trilogy & my book of the month)
2-5. Star Wars: 5 Clone Wars books
6. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Finish:
7. X-Files: Antibodies by Kevin J. Anderson
8. Skulduggery Pleasant III: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy (reading to my wife)
9. W.A.R.P.: The Forever Man by Eoin Coiffer (reading to my oldest).
10 The Map To Everywhere II: City Of Thirst by Carrie Ryan & John Parke Davis (my library book)

50 Pages of:
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia
Quantum Leap: Random Measures by Ashley McConnell
Redwall: Mariel Of Redwall by Brian Jacques

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
Temperance Brennan II: Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs
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

My top ten book peeves.

So I walk into a bookshop and a book catches my attention. I pick it up and have a quick leaf-through. Is it a book I’d like to buy? Below, in no particular order, are the top ten things that would make me reconsider and put the book back.

1. The new standard size paper back.
Once upon a time, a paperback under 500 pages could be conveniently put into a pocket. I spent most of my school life with a book in my inside-left jacket pocket and more recently in my trouser leg pocket. Since the new standard size, this is no longer the case, they’re now too big and they take up more room on the shelf as well as give books in a series an uneven shelf-line.

2. The story in the book not starting at page 1.
For some reason, the contents page, dedication, copyright page, quotation, other books by the same author/in the same series page, map, page of praise for the author, about the author, the page intentionally left blank, foreword, typeface used page and title page are counted (but not numbered) in the page count meaning that by the time you finally find the story it’s on a page numbered anything from 7 to 23. So if it’s a book 400 pages long, do you subtract the difference, or do you also have to count all the guff after the end of the story as well? Not all books do this, some actually do start at page 1 despite all the faff preceding it, which makes the fact that a lot don’t even more annoying.

3. Excerpts at the back at the book from other books.
With shelf space at a premium, I detest the space wasted by books being several pages thicker than they need to be by featuring the opening chapter or sampler from other books. I find this particularly irksome in trilogies, where if I didn’t enjoy the first book, I’m not likely to read the others, or even keep it, or if I did enjoy it, of course I’m going to read the next two so I really don’t need the first chapter duplicated if I choose to buy them. The older Star Wars books are particularly bad in that they have excerpts for about the same 6 books in almost every single book, including their own book.

4. Multiple pages of author praise (and none of it’s about the book you’re holding).
Apart from being misleading, all this tells me is that at least 20 people out of everyone that has read that author’s books consider them to be “Spellbinding”, “Unputdownable” or “a real page-turner” or other such guff that also tells me that these readers are barely literate or really struggling to say anything meaningful about the author’s works. Are they spellbinding because they have those hypnotic optical illusion covers? Are they unputdownable due to some sort of adhesive smeared over the cover? If it’s a real page-turner, did you read a physical copy where you have to really physically turn the actual real page to read the bloody thing?
If I’m going to have precious bookshelf space (and page count) dedicated to this drivel, at least make it: relevant to the particular book in which they lurk; written by someone who knows how to use those word things; original.

5. The sample page at the front of the book.
Thankfully not all books are burdened by this bit of nonsense. This is a page that you can read that is from the book itself (though is sometimes abridged) to give you an idea of how the book reads. Because you can’t just turn to any single page in the entire bloody book and do that anyway…oh wait, you can. Some books do have on the back cover a suggested page to try out, which works out a lot better and doesn’t waste space.

6. The page dedicated to telling you all about the font used in the book often in quite exquisite detail.
Whoop. De. Do.

7. The ‘about the author page’.
Let me be clear here, I don’t have a problem with the page itself, or even if it goes on over several pages. I find them interesting enough, though nothing I couldn’t have found out on the internet or in every other book by the same author. My issue with this is that there is an irritating inconsistency as to if it’s at the front of the book, or at the back. Why can’t they make up their minds?

8. Too much given away in the blurb.
This is the equivalent of a movie trailer that gives away most of the movie. After I’ve read the blurb, which is almost a short story in its own right, I often go on to discover that there’s little extra in the book except padding.

9. No blurb.
Just what is hidden between the covers of this book? I have to read it and find out? I have too many books on my TBR that I desperately want to read to be wanting to spend time reading…whatever that is.

10. Lack of chronology/book order.
I pick up a book and want to know if it’s the first book in the series, or if it’s a stand-alone. Inside the book in the ‘Books by the same author’ page are the all the books listed but in one of any number of orders but not including the book I’m currently holding. I find a second book by the same author with the list in a different order, and a different length and no mention of either book I’m holding. So these must both be later books then? Which book should I be starting with? Nope, you’ve lost my interest.

Honourable Mentions
Ugly book covers.
From a sea of special offer stickers, I want the one doesn’t have the sticker.
A book from a series not matching the publication of the books I’ve already got.
A book with a sticker you know will not come off.

And that was my top ten book peeves, I hope you enjoyed reading about them. I’d be interested to know if you share any of them or if not. What are your main issues when looking at a book to buy or read?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
If you like what you’ve seen here, check out the rest of my site, there might be something else you’ll enjoy.

September 2017 Book Wrap-Up

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

Why I read it: Read this for my 9-year-old’s bedtime story, his choice.
What is it about?: Two brothers accompany their dad on an expidition to the Amazon to collect rare and unusual creatures for the world’s zoos.
Thoughts: Written and based at a time where terms like ‘animal cruelty’ and ‘animal conservation’ were not fully fledged, Willard Price’s Adventures may be a bit much for the sensibilities for some of today’s readers, young and less young. They are very much of their time which should be taken into consideration in regards to the portrayal of the native Amazonians.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way… This story was an enjoyable traipse down the Amazon river. The boys see many of the Amazon’s marvels and risk life and limb collecting them. You can tell that Willard Price had actually been to many of the places he wrote about by the almost David Attenborough level of natural history in these pages. Having grown up with these books myself, a lot of what I know about the natural world came from this series of books. It’s been at least 25 years since I last read this and I still remember the vamire bat scene vividly (I had forgotten most of the rest).
As usual with this type of adventure story, the luck level that the boys have is turned all the way up to that of Tintin in terms of being able to survive anything that’s thrown at them, be it poison arrows, waterfalls, jaguars, army ants and malaria, to name a few. I almost expected them to find Tintin on the floating island.
The bad guy in the story did feel a little tacked on, there were perils enough from the river and jungle without the need to add ‘Greedy evil white guy’.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: African Adventure, Diving Adventure, Elephant Adventure, Lion Adventure, Safari Adventure, South Sea Adventure, Underwater Adventure, Whale Adventure
What’s next? W.A.R.P: The Forever Man by Eoin Colfer
Why I read it: I had read book 1 to my wife and we both really enjoyed it. Decided to see how book 2 fared.
What is it about?: Newly named Valkyrie Cain and her skeletal detective find themselves on another case where someone is trying to bring the Faceless Ones back to Earth.
Thoughts: The elements that made us fall in love with the first book: the witty banter, the sarcasm, the excellent characters; are thankfully very much in this story too. It is very much a continuation of the adventures rather than a second story which gives a good sense on continuity. It’s clear not much time has passed since the events of the first book. Valkyrie is still learning what she can do and still mastering how to do it and her relationships with Skulduggery and Tanith are still developing.
Although the story is very enjoyable and the characters are most entertaining, the plot does have a recycled feeling in that it’s pretty much the same as the last one: Bad guy gets an all-powerful maguffin; he attempts to bring back the Faceless Ones (Cthulhu and the Old Ones); the heroes battle through hoards of minions and are finally victorious. This all forgiven in the fabulous telling of the story, but I just felt that I had to address that it’s the exact same plot as book one (and many other stories, for that matter).
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: Skulduggery Pleasant
What’s next? Alex Rider VIII: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz
Why I read it: I spotted this in a book shop and, having enjoyed Skulduggery Pleasant, also by Derick Landy, I though I’d give it a go.
What is it about?: Sixteen year old Amber suddenly discovers that her heritage is a little more interesting that she was led to believe. Unfortunately, it means running from everything she knew in order to stay alive.
Thoughts: This is much darker and bloodier than Skulduggery and is aimed at slightly older readers. Landy’s wit is still here, though less prolific than in Skulduggery. This certainly has an interesting premise and I appreciate the fact that Amber is pretty useless in this new world she finds herself in. So many stories have our heroine thrust into a ‘world behind our world’ and within pages are doing battle against the big bad as if they’ve been trained from birth to wield whatever power they suddenly discover they’ve been imbued with. That being said, while it was indeed refreshing that Amber is going through a transnational period where she finds out who and what she is, her blatant stupidity did get on my nerves from time to time. There are certain decisions and responses she took which had me yelling inside my head “What are you doing?!”
It’s also interesting to note the switch that takes place from after she goes on the run until the final showdown. Outside of these points, the story is centred on Amber and her situation. In between these points there is almost a mini-series of X-Files-esk episodes. Amber and her companions go from one location to the next each time ultimately solving various supernatural issues. Lifting curses, destroying vampires and battling witches, to name a only few. A lot of this is due to the fact that they are driving along ‘The Demon Road’ where such things are more likely to occur. Each location does have an overarching plot point but the length of the book (507 pages) is mainly due to Amber arriving at yet another location and being faced with yet another fiend. The fact that she is being hounded by the same group who wants her dead is the only thing that helps move this story along with any sense of urgency. Personally, I was happy with the length of the book and the number of stoppages along the way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers might find that it goes on a bit too long.
I certainly enjoyed this one, and picked up book two before I was even halfway through.
Score: Buy it.
I’ve also read: Skulduggery Pleasant; Playing With Fire
What’s next? October’s Book Of The Month: Demon Road 2: Desolation
Why I read it: Reading through all the horror in the house. Worked my way up from James Herbert to Goosebumps.
What is it about?: In a time before GPS and keeping a physical map in your car, a family gets lost driving to a zoo and find a creepy amusement park instead.
Thoughts: Despite the unbelievable premise of them actually going into the park after their car just explodes, this was actually a pretty decent story. The particularly dumb kids had amazingly cast-iron bladder control as they are repeatedly terrorised to their very limits on every ride they go one. The took a very lengthy car journey in the first place and at no time has anyone taken a bathroom brake. Despite being scared out of their wits, the kids keep trying out different rides and getting terrified all over again.
The big realisation was so in the face obvious that there wasn’t even a modicum of surprise and the final showdown was a bit silly. The “…or were they?” ending was wasted as a cheap joke.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: 26 other Goosebumps
What’s next? Goosebumps: Ghost Beach
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: A brother and sister visit a couple of elderly relatives who live on a small island where everyone’s apparently descended from the same family who arrived there a few hundred years ago.
Thoughts: This is essentially the same plot from Welcome To Dead House but far less creepy. The jump scares are tired and overused, by this time we know that the main character can’t sneak anywhere without their sibling or friend following them and suddenly grabbing them from behind. I saw the big reveal a mile away and even the “…or where they?” ending was entirely predictable, though it does benefit from having a cliffhanger ending.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: 27 other Goosebumps
What’s next? Revenge Of The Garden Gnomes
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: In a world with no fences and dogs who eat vegetables, a gardening nut buys two garden gnomes for his garden. The horror!
Thoughts: This is a pretty standard story of inanimate objects coming alive during the night and causing havoc. By ‘havoc’ I mean eating vegetables and petty vandalism. Most of the story involves the kids taking their sweet time in putting two and two together and then doing something about it. The title of the story is misleading; there is no revenge to be had. With the exception of the basement scene at the end, there’s very little threat.
The “…or were they?” ending was a little predictable and fairly ludicrous.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: 28 other Goosebumps
What’s next? A Shocker On Shock Street
Why I read it: Doing my best to read through my graphic novel collection.
What is it about?: While the Jedi protect a senator from assassination, a senate guard investigates the sources of the killers.
Thoughts: As much as I like reading about the Jedi, it was very refreshing to have the focus of someone else for a change. In this case, one of the blue senate guards, named Sagoro Autem. Here we learn about his work-life, his family life and his disdain for the Jedi. I also appreciated seeing the underground sport of Pit Racing first seen in the beginning of Greg Bear’s Rogue Planet that saw a young padawan Anakin Skywalker face off against a blood carver.
As with many ‘cop’ stories, the family did have the usual tropes of neglected wife and out of control children with nothing we haven’t seen many times before. The mystery of the whodunnit was revealed pretty early on leaving the reader to simply watch the guard discover the truth for himself.
The artwork was perfectly serviceable. The likenesses weren’t all that close, but was at least consistent and I could still tell who was who.
This volume concludes with a follow-up story, Loyalties, that follows Sagoro as an officer in the newly formed Empire. As the next round of purges takes place, he finds himself on the run from Darth Vader. This was a fairly standard hunted story with a twist that was pretty obvious. Nevertheless, it was a fitting conclusion to Sagoro’s story. The artwork is noticeably different here, less cartoony than the main story and did the story justice.
Score: Buy it/td>
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars
What’s next? Jango Fett
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: Jango Fett is hired by a mysterious benefactor to steal an idol.
Thoughts: What I liked most about this story (and it’s follow-up) are the brief glimpses we get of Jango being a dad to his ‘son’ Boba. When they’re on screen in the films, Jango and Boba are both cold, calculating and mostly faceless. This was a great insight into the type of relationship they had.
The story itself was rather empty. There’s the botched job at the beginning then there’s an extensive showcase of quite impressive artwork as Jango makes his way through the jungle. The by-play with Zam Wesell worked well though.
My biggest complaint is the book’s length. I know it’s a duology with Zam Wesell, but I feel there was a missed opportunity to flesh out Jango’s character a little more.
As already mentioned, the artwork is quick impressive with an usual style for a graphic novel that worked quite well.
Score: Worth reading.
I’ve also read: Lots of Star Wars
What’s next? The follow-up book: Zam Wesell
Why I read it: See above
What is it about?: It turns out that the idol that Jango stole in Jango Fett was actually a maguffin capable of blowing up Coruscant. Some terrorists try to do exactly that.
Thoughts: Where Jango Fett’s book focused on Jango Fett, Zam Wesell’s book focuses on…Jango Fett, or the Jedi Council, or the terrorists, or a street kid getting bullied. Rest assured, Zam Wesell is actually in this book. She gets naked. So there’s that. You also get a couple of demonstrations of what she can do with her ability, which is good.
What drives this book is the frequently trodden story of a group of terrorists hell-bent on causing a lot of destruction by using the maguffin Jango provided in the first book. Now it’s a race against time for Zam and Jango to retrieve the thingummy before it’s too late. Jedi Master Yareal Poof is also on the case. As I’ve said it’s a well-used formula and, because of that, it works quite well. Coupled with that are the interesting relationship that forms between the two bounty hunters and further snippets of Jango Fett playing dad to Boba. This has plenty to add to the Star Wars universe.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars books
What’s next? Clone Wars Volume 1: The Defense Of Kamino
Why I read it: Something to read at my desk while the frequent IT issues leave me staring at an unresponsive screen. I’ve read this one before.
What is it about?: A publishing firm receives a manuscript for a high contraverisal, thus best selling book from an anonymous author. To sell it to America, they convince unpublished novelist Peter Piper to stand in as the author.
Thoughts: This is a satorical take on book writers, book publishers and book marketability. I get the impression that, as an author, Tom Sharpe had found the literaary world at the time to be full of contradictory barriors and other nonsense. He certainly comes across as knowledgeable (or at least well-reseached) about literarly greatness and penmanship. This is a somewhat dryer satire than some of his other works. Yes, there are some of the laugh-out-loud farcical moments his books are best know for, but they’re few and far between. It’s certainly a lot funnier than I remember it being the last time I read it however.
I think the main problem with the story is that there isn’t much of a plot. Once Peter gets to America and ‘dies’, the story just preambles about without much direction. A few humerous things happen but it all does just peter out towards the end.
Score: Worth reading
I’ve also read: Ancestral Vices; Indecent Exposure; Porterhouse Blue; Riotous Assembly; The Throwback; Vintage Stuff; Wilt; The Wilt Alternatice; Wilt On High.
What’s next? Popcorn by Ben Elton
Why I read it: Still working my way through those graphic novels of mine.
What is it about?: The Clone Wars have begun and the source of the Clones is a primary target. It needs defending.
Thoughts: This is more of a short-story collection that contains 3 stories: Sacrifice, The Defence Of Kamino and Mace Windu (the first of a Jedi series of stories).
Sacrifice follows Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura tracking down some information regarding the CIS’s next focus for attack. It also introduces Quinlan’s love interest Khaleen Hentz. It’s another beautiful creation from John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. Bonus marks for having a Falleen antagonist which made for an intense conclusion to the story.
The Defence of Kamino is itself split into 3 smaller tales telling the story of the battle from three focus points. The first follows Obi-Wan Kenoby and newly-married and lovesick Anakin Skywalker as they engage the droid fighters over Tapoca City. The next follows Kit Fisto and Aayla Secura as they are joined by a very lippy ARC Trooper as they try to safeguard the facility from the inside. The final story segment follows a band of misled Mon Calamari as they try to destroy the facility. Each story has its own creative team but they do suffer from the very short lengths and the Mon Calamari story is a bit of a mess.
Mace Windu then gets a story in the first of a series of Jedi comics. He meets up with some dissident Jedi headed by Sora Bulq in an attempt to bring them back to the fold. Here we’re introduced to the first ever appearance of the excellent Asajj Ventress, who has other ideas. Another Ostrander/Duursema creation, so it looks beautiful and the story is very compelling.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Many, many Star Wars books.
What’s next? A reread of Star Wars: Clone Wars 2: Victories & Sacrifices

So, that was September.
What’s up for October?

Read Completely:
1. Desolation by Derek Landy (Book 2 of the Demon Road Trilogy & my book of the month)
2. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
3. Star Wars: Clone Wars 3-5
4. The Walking Dead 5: The Best Defence

Finish:
5. The Massacre Of Mankind by Stephen Baxter (as a matter of urgency)
6. The Long Cosmos by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
7. Star Wars: Clone Wars 2: Victories And Sacrifices
8. Muddle Earth (Reading to my youngest)
9. X-Files: Antibodies by Kevin J. Anderson
10. Alex Rider: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horrowitz (reading to my wife)
11. Popcorn by Ben Elton

50 Pages of:
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia
Quantum Leap: Random Measures by Ashley McConnell
Redwall: Mariel Of Redwall by Brian Jacques

As much as I can of:
W.A.R.P.: The Forever Man by Eoin Coiffer (reading to my oldest).
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World by Harry Harrison
Robin Hood According To Spike Milligan
Doctor Who: Dead Of Winter by James Goss

Book Tags – The Peculiar Book Tag

This is a tag created by Jesse The Reader celebrating his favourite book trilogy: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Q1: Abandoned house- A book that you once abandoned but then gave another chance and ended up enjoying.
A1:
I may have been a bit young for this one first time round. My father recommended to me but after the seventh chapter that introduced a seventh character, I’d lost all interest. Tried it again a few years later and I now consider this to be one of my top series of books.
Q2: Vintage photographs- A book you would have loved to see illustrations in.
A2:
There’s already some fantastic front and back cover art, as wells as some funky letter heading. Shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to give us some illustrations too.
Q3: Loop- A series that you wouldn’t mind reading on loop.
A3:
This series has a permanent place in my reading pile. Currently working on my first read-through now it’s complete…sniff.
Q4: Peculiar Children- A character’s ability that you desire to have for yourself.
A4:
Lana’s healing hands. Shouldn’t need to elaborate on that.
Q5: Miss Peregrine- Your favorite character that is a leader.
A5:
Good ‘ol Vimes. A natural leader who just gets on with what needs doing and is willing to change, despite himself.
Q6: Jacob- Your favorite story where a regular kid discovers an extraordinary world.
A6:
Just imagine that instead of being thrust into a world of stunning amazement, you find yourself in a world chock full of WTF creatures, landscapes and moments.
Q7: Emma- A fierce and fiery character.
A7:
Valkyrie Cain, despite her youth and inexperience, gives as good as she gets with her sharp tongue.
Q8: Millard- A book that seems to be invisible but needs to be read by more people.
A8:
No one talks about this fantastic series! It’s only four books long as so utterly brilliant. Go read it now!
Q9: Olive- A book you bought that floated to the top of your TBR.
A9:
This kicked off my revised reading scheme of reading a book of the month before I’m allowed to continue as normal.
Q10: Hugh- A book that stung and caused a lot of feelings.
A10:
The…last…sob…Discworld…sob…novel…boohoohoo…ever!
Q11: Enoch- Without spoiling, a book character that you would bring back to life.
A11:
SPOILERS! If you’ve read the book, you know who I mean!
Q12: Bronwyn- A physically strong character.
A12:
Only a man like Carrot can skewer a man with his sword and not notice he’s also skered the stone pillar behind him.
Q13: Hollowgasts- A book you read that felt like an experiment gone wrong.
A13:
Just what the hell? This was a mess.
Q14: Whites- A book that felt like it consumed tropes that you’ve seen done in other books
A14:
Not only is it full of standard jump-scare tropes, it’s full of the same standard jump-scare tropes used in

Book Tags – Job Interview

As I sit here waiting for the job interview this afternoon that determines whether I get to keep my job or not, here’s a book tag I’ve come up with as a distraction to not think about the upcoming 45 minutes that may impact my life.

Q1: Which three book characters would you like to have on the panel and why?
A1:
1- Captain Carrot from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series because he’s not an idiot and will ask pertinent and straightforward questions.
2- Avasarala from C. A. Corey’s The Expanse series. Yes, she would be terrifying to be interviewed by but she will ask the questions that will get the best answers from me.
3- Skulduggery Pleasant from Derek Landy’s series of the same name. Who wouldn’t want to be interviewed by a sarcastic living skeleton?

Q2: Where would you like to have your interview?
A2: At the top of the Wyrmberg, of course. (From by Terry Pratchett)

Q3: Apart from the Q&A what task would you like to be asked to do?
A3: Reenact Monty Python And The Quest For The Holy Grail like Parzival does Ferry’s Bueller’s Day Off in by Ernest Cline.

Q4: What would your ideal job/roll be?
A4: Probably Liam O’Conner’s in the series by Alex Scarrow but with the issue with the side-effects fixed.

Q5: How would you like to be told the result of the interview?
A5: Spelled out across the sky with strategically placed novas, a method of advertising used in by Douglas Adams.

Q6: What security would you like the organisation to have/Who would you show your Visitor lanyard to?
A6: Samandra Bree and her Century Knights from Chris Wooding’s Ketty Jay series.

As the hour approaches I’m getting more nervous so will leave it there so I can go prepare.

I hope you enjoyed this tag. If you want to give it a go yourself go right ahead, just source WyrmbergMalcolm as its creator.

Feel free to hang about on this site and check out what else I’ve been up to.

Keep on reading.

Book Tags – Guilty Reader

One of my previous Book Tags was liked by Thrice Read. I checked out their site and this tag created by ReadLikeWildfire caught my eye.
So here goes:

Q1: Have you ever regifted a book that you’ve been given?
A1: Only if you count passing them on to my kids.

Q2: Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?
A2: No. I can’t even imagine a situation where this would even happen.

Q3: Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?
A3: No. I once blatantly stole a book from my school library. It was book 8 of the next to impossible to get hold of Grail Quest game books. I still feel it was justified.

Q4: Have you ever read a series out of order?
A4: Temperance Brennan: Books 10, 3, 1, 8. They were on the shelf at work and turned up in that order. I think they’re sufficiently stand-alone to not be an issue. I would never read a sequential series out of order. I’m even trying to read my entire Star Wars collection in chronological order (and failing miserably).

Q5: Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?
A5: Depends of you read my spoiler reviews having ignored the spoiler warning.

Q6: Have you ever doggy eared a book?
A6: During morning chapel at school I used to dog-ear the sung pages of the hymn books to see if I would ever end up singing from the same hymn from the same book again. My petty vandalism was massively overshadowed one morning when a couple of boys decided it would be a good idea to put a rather large earthworm in their hymnbook and slam it shut.

Q7: Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?
A7: Yes. Myself. I’ve bought I book I told myself I didn’t have only to take it home and discover that I do.

Q8: Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?
A8: Depends if you consider 90% of Great Expectations ‘read’ or not. Had to do it for English Lit GCSE. Absolutely loathed it and refused on principle to finish it. I still maintain that I have not read it.

Q9: Have you every skipped a chapter or a section of a book?
A9: In those books where the chapters switch between different characters and a chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, I have jumped ahead to their next chapter to see if they’re okay. Once their fate is known, I’ll then go back and read through.

Q10: Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?
A10: If I like something, I’m very protective of it. That’s not to say I won’t say it like it is, though. I know, for example, that Matthew Reilly’s books are adrenalin-filled garbage, but that doesn’t mean I don’t thoroughly enjoy them and are probably my favourite action books.

That was fun.
Let me know if you fancy a go.
Keep on reading!

Book Tags – Top Five Most Read Authors

Having seen Jesse The Reader‘s take on this, I thought I’d give it a go.

Just for reference I have read 1,027 books by 393 different authors or author collaborations.
241 authors share last place with only 1 book read each.

In 5th Place: Jude Watson – 15 Books
A prolific author of Star Wars books aimed for younger readers, namely the Jedi Apprentice series that follow the exploits of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi and his tutelage under Qui-Gon Jinn. These books are not easy to get hold of in England and I rely on lucky finds in charity shops. This would be a bigger number otherwise. I’ve read 140 Star Wars books so far and enjoy the lot. I’ve not read any Disney Star Wars excepting the two movie novelisations.
01 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Captive Temple
02 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Dangerous Rescue
03 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Dark Rival
04 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Day Of Reckoning
05 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Deadly Hunter
06 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Defenders Of The Dead
07 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Fight For Truth
08 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Hidden Past
09 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Mark Of The Crown
10 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Shattered Peace
11 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Ties That Bind
12 Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice: The Uncertain Path
13 Star Wars: Jedi Quest: The False Peace
14 Star Wars: Legacy Of The Jedi
15 Star Wars: Secrets Of The Jedi

In 4th Place: Roald Dahl – 21 Books
One of my main staples growing up and revisited again reading them to my children. There are many classics here that either have a live-action or animated movie, or both:
01 Boy
02 Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
03 Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
04 Danny Champion Of The World
05 Esio Trot
06 Fantastic Mr. Fox
07 George’s Marvellous Medicine
08 James And The Giant Peach
09 Matilda
10 The BFG
11 The Enormous Crocodile
12 The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me
13 The Magic Finger
14 The Twits
15 The Witches

I’m really not into poetry, but these definitely work for me:
16 Dirty Beasts
17 Revolting Rhymes

I was introduced to his more adult stories with Lamb To The Slaughter, a short story with a cliff-hanger ending, by Mr Cookson, my English teacher as an example of story-writing. I went on to read a few more of them:
18 Tales Of The Unexpected
19 More Tales Of The Unexpected
20 Skin and Other Stories
21 The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar And Six More

In 3rd place is: R. L. Stine – 27 books.
I’d been curious about the Goosebumps series for a while, but it wasn’t until I was on placement for teacher-training that I was able to raid the schools’ libraries and give them a go. I’m currently reading the ones I’ve since picked up for the kids so this list is growing. Never seen the show.
01 Goosebumps: Attack Of The Mutant
02 Goosebumps: Bad Hare Day
03 Goosebumps: Be Careful What You Wish For
04 Goosebumps: Beast From The East
05 Goosebumps: Calling All Creeps
06 Goosebumps: Deep Trouble
07 Goosebumps: Egg Monsters From Mars
08 Goosebumps: Go Eat Worms
09 Goosebumps: How I Got My Shrunken Head
10 Goosebumps: Lets Get Invisible!
11 Goosebumps: Monster Blood
12 Goosebumps: Monster Blood II
13 Goosebumps: One Day At Horrorland
14 Goosebumps: Piano Lessons Can Be Murder
15 Goosebumps: Return Of The Mummy
16 Goosebumps: Say Cheese And Die!
17 Goosebumps: Stay Out Of The Basement
18 Goosebumps: The Abominable Snowman Of Pasadena
19 Goosebumps: The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb
20 Goosebumps: The Headless Ghost
21 Goosebumps: The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight
22 Goosebumps: The Werewolf Of Fever Swamp
23 Goosebumps: Welcome To Camp Nightmare
24 Goosebumps: Welcome To Dead House
25 Goosebumps: You Can’t Scare Me!
26 Goosebumps Special Edition: Tales To Give You Goosebumps
27 Goosebumps Series 2000: Cry Of The Cat

In 2nd place is: Harry Harrison – 36 books. (40, including collaborations with other authors)
After Dick King-Smith, Roald Dahl and Willard Price my father introduced me to his extensive Sci-Fi collection that included the wonderful Harry Harrison amongst other greats such as Isacc Asmiov, Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Joe Halderman, Jack Vance, James White, Philip K. Dick, A. E. Van Vogt, Anne McCaffrey, Lloyd Biggle Jr., Robert Heinlein, James Blish and Bob Shaw. The list goes on. However, Harry Harrison captivated me with his Eden trilogy; an alternative world where the dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct, entertained me with his Stainless Steel Rat series; just how do you be a criminal where there’s space-age security?, and bedazzled me with Deathworld 1 (just read it, you’ll see why).
01 Bill The Galactic Hero
02 Bill The Galactic Hero On The Planet Of Robot Slaves
03 Captive Universe
04 Deathworld 1
05 Deathworld 2
06 Deathworld 3
07 Galactic Dreams
08 In Our Hands The Stars
09 Invasion: Earth
10 One Step From Earth
11 Planet Of No Return
12 Planet Of The Damned
13 Planet Story
14 Rebel In Time
15 Stainless Steel Visions
16 Star Smashers Of The Galaxy Rangers
17 The Men From P.I.G. and R.O.B.O.T.
18 A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born
19 The Stainless Steel Rat
20 The Stainless Steel Rat For President
21 The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted
22 The Stainless Steel Rat Goes To Hell
23 The Stainless Steel Rat Joins The Circus
24 The Stainless Steel Rat Returns
25 The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World
26 The Stainless Steel Rat Sings The Blues
27 The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You
28 The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge
29 The Technicolor Time Machine
30 To The Stars: Homeworld
31 To The Stars: Wheelworld
32 To The Stars: Starworld
33 Two Tales And Eight Tomorrows
34 West Of Eden
35 West Of Eden: Return To Eden
36 West Of Eden: Winter In Eden
(37) Bill The Galactic Hero On The Planet Of Bottled Brains with Robert Sheckley
(38) Bill The Galactic Hero On The Planet Of Tasteless Pleasure with David Bischoff
(39) The Lifeship with Gordon R. Dickson
(40) The Turing Option with Marvin Minsky

Regular visitors to this site shouldn’t be surprised that my most read author is: Terry Pratchett with 54 books (70, including collaborations with other authors). His all-encompassing Discworld series is a masterpiece in story-telling and the exploration human nature. Its wide range of themes should ensure that everyone has a good chance of finding at least one book in the series that they can enjoy. That being said, his other non-Discworld works are also top notch.
With a couple of his stand alone books, book 4 of the Science of Discworld and this month I’m intending to read the last book in his fantastic Long Earth series (co-written with Stephen Baxter) so this list has a little growing left to do.
01 A Blink Of The Screen
02 Bromeliad: Truckers
03 Bromeliad: Diggers
04 Bromeliad: Wings
05 Discworld: A Hat Full Of Sky
06 Discworld: Carpe Jugulum
07 Discworld: Equal Rites
08 Discworld: Eric
09 Discworld: Feet Of Clay
10 Discworld: Going Postal
11 Discworld: Guards! Guards!
12 Discworld: Hogfather
13 Discworld: I Shall Wear Midnight
14 Discworld: Interesting Times
15 Discworld: Jingo
16 Discworld: Lords And Ladies
17 Discworld: Making Money
18 Discworld: Masquerade
19 Discworld: Men At Arms
20 Discworld: Monstrous Regiment
21 Discworld: Mort
22 Discworld: Moving Pictures
23 Discworld: Night Watch
24 Discworld: Pyramids
25 Discworld: Raising Steam
26 Discworld: Reaper Man
27 Discworld: Small Gods
28 Discworld: Snuff
29 Discworld: Sorcery
30 Discworld: Soul Music
31 Discworld: The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents
32 Discworld: The Colour Of Magic
33 Discworld: The Fifth Elephant
34 Discworld: The Last Continent
35 Discworld: The Light Fantastic
36 Discworld: The Shepherd’s Crown
37 Discworld: The Truth
38 Discworld: The Wee Free Men
39 Discworld: Thief Of Time
40 Discworld: Thud!
41 Discworld: Unseen Academicals
42 Discworld: Where’s My Cow?
43 Discworld: Wintersmith
44 Discworld: Witches Abroad
45 Discworld: Wyrd Sisters
46 Dodger
47 Dragons At Crumbling Castle
48 Johnny Maxwell: Only You Can Save Mankind
49 Johnny Maxwell: Johnny And The Dead
50 Johnny Maxwell: Johnny And The Bomb
51 Nation
52 The Carpet People
53 The Dark Side Of The Sun
54 The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner
(55) Discworld: The Discworld Companion with Stephen Briggs
(56) Discworld: The Discworld Mapp with Stephen Briggs
(57) Discworld: Death’s Domain with Paul Kidby
(58) Discworld: The Last Hero with Paul Kidby
(59) Discworld: Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook with Stephen Briggs, Tina Hannan & Paul Kidby
(60) Discworld: The Science Of Discworld with Ian Stewart & Jack Cohan
(61) Discworld: The Science Of Discworld II: The Globe with Ian Stewart & Jack Cohan
(62) Discworld: The Science Of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch with Ian Stewart & Jack Cohan
(63) Discworld: The Streets Of Ankh Morpork with Stephen Briggs
(64) Discworld: A Tourist Guide To Lancre with Stephen Briggs
(65) Discworld: The Wit And Wisdom Of Discworld with Stephen Briggs
(66) Good Omens with Neil Gaiman
(67) The Long Earth with Stephen Baxter
(68) The Long Earth: The Long Mars with Stephen Baxter
(69) The Long Earth: The Long War with Stephen Baxter
(70) The Long Earth: The Long Utopia with Stephen Baxter

I ought to also mention Alex Scarrow and Matthew Reilly who are neck and neck at 12 books each and both looking to get into the top five very soon.

Phew, I’m glad I decided against putting in images in this one!
Which are your most read authors?
If you enjoyed that, then feel free to hang around here and check out my other stuff.
Keep on reading.

August 2017 Book Wrap-Up

Managed all of twelve books this month. What were they and what did I think of them?

Why I read it: I liked the look of it so picked it up.
What is it about?: It is now the 13th occupation. The 13th time humanity has spread across the stars. Two sisters sign up to crew on a ship hoping for adventure and providing extra income for their father.
Thoughts: This was nothing like I was expecting to the degree that the first few chapters felt like they were a misprint from a different story entirely. However, once I’d gotten used to the in-universe way of talking and come to grips with the period-drama in space aspect, I found this story increasingly engrossing the more I read it.
I was not prepared for the significant event when it happened, nor the degree to which it did what it did. This book continued to surprise me with the directions it took.
Unfortunately, where there were twists and big reveals, I had sussed them out pretty much before they were made apparent but I did enjoy following the characters as they discovered them for themselves.
My other quibble was the language used for certain terms that did take me out of the story a bit or has me still pondering as to what the thing actually is. For example, instead of the words ‘air’ or ‘oxygen’ it’s referred to as ‘lungstuff’ which is a bit more of a mouthful, particularly when they refer to something being ‘lungstuff tight’. Also, I think a ‘Swallower’ is the core of a planet, thereby generating gravity (or it’s a device that generates it) and ‘Bauble’ is a space-station, but I’m not completely sure.
I’ve heard this book described as Firefly meets Treasure Island and that was what probably mislead me. Yes, there were elements in here of them, but I wouldn’t have said sufficiently to have used them to describe this book. In fact, it’s very hard to give an accurate description without going into spoiler territory.
This story introduced me to a rich and complete universe that I enjoyed visiting and was delighted to discover that a sequel is being planned.
Score: Booktastic!
What’s next? September’s book of the month…which I’ll pick on the 1st of September (almost at random, it appears).
Why I read it: It was lying about at work, thought I’d give it a go.
What is it about?: A stand-up comedian, a painter and his autistic brother are kidnapped by a scientist who injects them with an unknown substance. The scientist lets them go with the knowledge that he is being hunted by people who’ll kill them if they knew what they carried in their bloodstreams.
Thoughts: This is the sixth Dean Koontz novel I’ve read, and it’s instantly become my favourite so far (though Lightning will forever by my first). The title and the cover suggest some sort of werewolf story, and that’s what I expected. I was wrong. No, I’m not going to tell you, SPOILERS!
The story was thrilling and exciting if a little light, plot-wise. However, where most stories use words to be told, this book is a masterpiece of a story being used to write words. Koontz probably wore out his thesaurus on this one. The way each scene or thought or action is described contains a hedonistic display of words expertly woven together in a way I’ve rarely come across without being pretentious cadswallop.
I enjoyed the story immensely, but I can’t help feel that I would have enjoyed reading the instructions for assembling a flat-packed French dresser if they were written in this style. The revelations were cunningly hinted at often, but without context, were not apparent until they happened. The wonderful uplifting ending was certainly not where I expected to have ended up and was glad of it.
Score: Booktastic!
I’ve also read: Lightning, Twilight Eyes, Velocity, The Face, Darkness Comes
What’s next? The Great Pursuit by Tom Sharpe
Why I read it: I have a truckload of Star Wars books. Doing my best to get through them chronologically.
What is it about?: The New Republic have finally quelled all the Imperial uprisings and it is now a time for rebuilding. Luke Skywalker is very keen to start up a new Jedi Academy, and Han and Chewie go on a diplomatic mission to Kessel.
Thoughts: There’s a lot going on in this book which is almost a mini series on its own. From the spice mines of Kessel to Blobracing to Leia dealing with affairs of state to the Maw Installation and back again. I’d almost say it was too much, particularly as this is a trilogy. However, much of the peripheral stuff is concluded by the end of the book, leaving only the main story arcs in play. This includes an event that was brilliantly underplayed and it was only later than I realised something was amiss.
This is also the first book for a while that has much of the main ‘cast’ from the films. It was great seeing the band back together, if only in story rather than scene.
A solid start to what looks to be an enjoyable trilogy. Bring on book 2!
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 135 other Star Wars titles I’m not going to bother list here.
What’s next? The 2nd book of the trilogy: Dark Apprentice
Why I read it: Having read and enjoyed the first four books of this series with my wife, I couldn’t help but pick this up when I spotted it in the library.
What is it about?: The American Civil War has gone on too long and the zombie menace is getting out of control. Those who want to stop the war for good have to resort to desperate measures to avoid those who will profit from its continuation.
Thoughts: A very different story from the rest of the series which was at the same time refreshing and detracting.
The multiple POVs were a little unbalanced with Maria’s sections the more interesting of the three. I’d also say that the book title is a little misleading in that the Fiddlehead itself merely started the proceedings and barely featured otherwise.
The siege also felt like it went on a bit too long. Maria did something interesting, back to the siege, back to Maria doing more interesting stuff, back to the siege, etc. However, but the end I did find myself really routing for the President.
The conclusion was fine, but it did feel like a bit of a missed opportunity. The zombies (or any otherworldly thing) are always going to be one of the intriguing aspects of a story and the resolution is only hinted at.
This is also the least chronologically dependent book in the series. Yes, it does reference the events and characters in the other books, but only in passing. Knowledge of those books wouldn’t change to relevance of the references.
The stand out character was the mysterious Kirby Troost who could very well feature in his own spin-off series.
Score: Worth Reading
I’ve also read: Boneshaker; Dreadnaught; Ganymede; The Inexplicables
What’s next? Skulduggery Pleasent 2: Playing With Fire
Why I read it: Have zillions of Star Wars books. Gotta read ’em.
What is it about?: Luke Skywalker new Jedi Academy is now up and running, but a sinister force is endangering his students. Meanwhile, the very heart and soul of the New Republic has been targeted by the Empire.
Thoughts: Like with the first book in the trilogy, there is a lot going on here. Don’t read the sizeable blurbs on the back of these books, they’re full of spoilers.
In a way, I quite like seeing an naive and inexperienced Luke Skywalker attempting to kick-start the Jedi academy. On the other hand, the whole ‘teaching’ process he uses is very Zen and airy-fairy. These guys are supposed to be Jedi not a bunch of hippies. There doesn’t seem to be much instructing beyond ‘Go out into the jungle and find yourself’. I also don’t really buy that, even after a mysterious and horrific death, they all don’t just move on out of there or face the threat at all.
Jaina and Jacen have an interesting little ‘adventure’ in the bowels of Coruscant. It’s always interesting to see what’s going on down there, even if the whole stint didn’t really amount to much.
The other main theme throughout this book is the ownership of the Millennium Falcon as Han and Lando repeatedly gamble for her. It certainly shows which of the two is the better friend to the other.
Score: But it
I’ve also read: 136 other Star Wars books.
What’s next? Book 3: Champions Of The Force
Why I read it: I’ve just barrelled my way through the first two books of the trilogh, so of course I’m going to read the final one. I was supposed to have read Shadow Games, but that’ll have to wait until next time.
What is it about?: An Imperial governor is on the hunt to kidnap baby Anakin Solo, Chewbacca leads a rescue mission to free Wookiee slaves and the Jedi students must work together to save their fallen master.
Thoughts: As before, there is a lot going on in this book. There are many unrelated plots running parallel to each other, with only the occasional cross over. Despite this, these many threads do seem to have been woven together pretty effectively. As with all tales told this way, it’s only natural that the reader will prefer one thread than another but I found even the less interesting threads good enough to be happy about it.
I very much enjoyed Lando’s shameless optimism when trying to woo newly reformed Mara Jade and the bureaucratic idiots in charge of the Death Star were downright hilarious, if admittedly a little characatureish.
On the whole this was a solid trilogy with some interesting and ket developments. Looking back, it feels like I’ve just read three trilogies, not one.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: Loads of other Star Wars books.
What’s next? Star Wars: Children Of The Jedi
Why I read it: Ages ago I picked up book 2 of this series for a couple of quid from the discount rack in Forbidden Planet. Having not had book 1, I never read it. I finally got book 1 the other day and decided to give them a go.
What is it about?: A newly knighted Jedi plays two Sith brothers off of each other in a bid to save the population of a doomed planet.
Thoughts: This incoherent mess almost put me right off this series. The passage of time and space seem irrelevant as Kerra Holt bounces from one Sith brother to the other with no apparent difficulty in logistics. The most interesting character was Damien who believes he is the creator of the universe and everything in it. However, his postulating gets old very quickly as it’s clear he’s mostly bark without any real bite.
There is some semblance of characterisation as Kerra tries to bring a former Jedi back into active service but it was lazily done with no real pay-off.
The artwork was okay-ish but suffered from some very obscure POV choices that suggested the artists really wanted to draw a lot of nostrils. Seriously! If you’re into looking up nostrils this is the book for you. There are a number of quite unflattering angles. As the book moves through the collected comics the art style changes dramatically as does Kerra’s likeness. She definitely becomes more attractive and curvaceous as the story progresses.
After ploughing through a good chunk of my collection of Star Wars graphic novels, this one brought me to a lengthy standstill.
Score: Boring – Nonsensical
I’ve also read: A lot of Star Wars
What’s next? Star Wars: Knight Errant II: Deluge
Why I read it: My wife has a sizable collection of books. I thought I’d try this classic series.
What is it about?: A consulting detective has his mastery of deductive reasoning written down for posterity by his friend as a collection of short stories.
Thoughts: Since I’ve started reviewing books I’ve made a note of my thoughts on individual short stories in collections. Unfortunately, I had started this one beforehand so will just review the book as a whole.
These are admittedly very enjoyable stories of a smart-arse putting one over everyone else. That he lives in a world where people are conveniently clumsy enough to smother some incriminating evidence on themselves but never have a speck of dust on them that’s not relevant to the case is the only regular plot hole.
I do like that this hero of the law actually couldn’t give a fig about the law but only embarks on his ‘adventures’ because he enjoys the intellectual stimulation. On a number of occasions he has let the culprit off the hook, leaving the inept police in the dark about the real events.
Having read a few of these collected stories now, I realise that they do have a very samey quality to them, but in a way that each story actually compliments the others. Yes, there are a few surprises every now and again, but each story has the same high level of quality to them.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes; A Study In Scarlett; The Sign Of Four; The Hound Of The Baskervilles; The Mammoth Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures; Shadows Over Baker Street
What’s next? The Case-Book Of Sherlock Holmes
Why I read it: I had it for ages but hadn’t read book 1. Finally read book 1, but it was not good. Fingers crossed here.
What is it about?: Kerra Holt, Jedi Knight, is separated from the Jedi order in that she has her own mission: To save people caught it the crossfire of the war.
Thoughts: This was so much better than Aflame. I kinda wish I had just got on and read this without bothering with that first volume. The characters are complex and endearing, even when they make the wrong choices. The emotions are very well expressed and the threat level felt palpable.
It was great seeing a Hutt eager to take a more hands-on approach to his business and he made a great villain proving that you don’t need to be a Sith lord to be an evil power in the universe. Because of this, he made a far greater impression on me and the other characters in the book than the Sith with their posturing. Yes, the Sith are dangerous, but you expect them to be. They don’t hold a candle to the Hutts.
This story was also full of redemption where certain characters were able to free themselves of past mistakes and overcome the present challenges.
The artwork was far less nostril-oriented than in book 1, but Kerra’s likeness is still uncertain. Her appearance radically changes from the front cover to the back cover and throughout. Apart from that, it was pretty good.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read:
What’s next? Star Wars: Honour And Duty
Why I read it: Picked up this classic Bob Shaw from a second hand book shop.
What is it about?: After 11 years of marriage, a man gets a phone call from someone claiming to be coming to claim his wife back. The man that shortly turns up on his doorstep is…himself.
Thoughts: I never know what to expect when reading a Bob Shaw novel, except that it’ll most likely surprise me, provoke thoughts and greatly entertain me.
This book did just that. It’s an exploration of that great “If only…” and what it means to lose what you love and love what you lose. It was thrilling, insightful and his thoughts on automatic writing were very funny.
That being said, I did find the characters a little hard to like with some turning out to be totally unnecessary to the plot, but do add a certain level of tension to the story. Also the random jumps to other characters were a little jarring. They were supposed to help show the scale of what was going on, but as that detail had yet to be revealed, they felt more like intermissions.
There was a satisfactory conclusion which I didn’t see coming. I just feel sorry for the police officer.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: The Ceres Solution; Killer Planet; Medusa’s Children; Night Walk; Warren Peace: Who Goes Here?
What’s next? Ship Of Strangers by Bob Shaw
Why I read it: I decided to read through all our horror. Not that we have much. Working my way through Goosebumps before tackling the Point Horrors.
What is it about?: Having moved to the swampy woodland of Florida, 11 year-old Grady quickly discovers there’s something sinister living in the woods.
Thoughts: Having been underwhelmed by rereading some of the other Goosebumps stories I found this one a much better offering. I don’t really remember it from the last time I read it, so the reveal worked again. It was predictable but still good. My only observation was the logic of allowing a large wolf-like dog they literally just found that day to spend the night in Grady’s room. His parents may be scientists, but they’re idiots. I also thought that his sister was an unnecessary character who added absolutely nothing to the story, or anything else much.
The “…or were they?” ending was also predictable but with a more uplifting sign-off.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also read: 26 other Goosebumps books.
What’s next? A reread of Goosebumps: You Can’t Scare Me!
Why I read it: I decided to read through all our horror. Not that we have much. Working my way through Goosebumps before tackling the Point Horrors.
What is it about?: As an act of jealousy, a group of school delinquents attempt to scare a hard-working, beautiful, popular and very capable girl thereby making herself look bad in front of their classmates.
Thoughts: The story follows four reprobates, in particular the clumsy and slow-witted Eddie who’s pretty much scared of his own shadow, Hat (so-called because he wears a hat) and two girls, Mollie and Charlene, who don’t bring much to the story. Due to his stupidity, ignorance and complete lack of any backbone Eddie makes a complete prat of himself on a school trip and is totally shown up by star pupil Courtney. Courtney is unfavourably portrayed as ‘Little Miss Perfect’ and the emphasis is that it is much better to not pay any attention in class and constantly josh your friends than be a socially adjusted human being. To pay her back for not being a pathetic looser, the team of misfits resort to theft, animal cruelty and fraud.
The final twist was far too predictable, from the moment Mud Monsters were mentioned, it was obvious they were going to be the final scare. Being Goosebumps, I suppose there has to be some horror element, but I think the ending would have been much better had Kevin and his friends scared Eddie and his friends, thereby teaching them a much needed lesson. There was no ‘…or were they?’ ending this time.
I had read this before but had no recollection of any of it. Having read it again, I can see why.
Score: Boring – just plain dull
I’ve also read: 26 other Goosebumps books.
What’s next? A reread of Goosebumps: One Day At Horrorland

And that was August.
What’s up for September?

Book of the month:
1. Demon Road by Derek Landy

Finish:
2. Playing With Fire by Derek Landy
3. Amazon Adventure by Willard Price (still)
4: Star Wars: Honour and Duty
5: The Massacre Of Mankind by Stephen Baxter (still)

Read in its entirety:
6: Goosebumps: One Day At Horrorland
7. Goosebumps: Ghost Beach
8. Goosebumps: Revenge of The Garden Gnomes
9: The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
10: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
11: The Walking Dead 5: The Best Defence
12-15: Star Wars: Clone Wars: Graphic Novels

As much as I can of:
Muddle Earth by Paul Stewart
Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia
The Grand Pursuit by Tom Sharpe
A Song Of Ice And Fire: Dreams And Dust by George R. R. Martin
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World by Harry Harrison
Robin Hood According To Spike Milligan

Book Tags – The Book Blogger Memory Challenge

This tag was created by Laura @ Laura’s Book Reviews.

Here are the rules:

You must answer these questions without looking anything up on the internet and without looking at your bookshelves!!

Now, before you scroll down and read the tag, if you want to give this tag a go here are the questions for you to have a try at first. This way you’re not being prompted by my answers.

Q1: Name a book written by an author called Michael.
Q2: Name a book with a dragon on the cover.
Q3: Name a book about a character called George.
Q4: Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.
Q5: Name a book set in Australia.
Q6: Name a book with the name of a month in the title.
Q7: Name a book with a knife on the cover.
Q8: Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.
Q9: Name a book with a eponymous title.
Q10: Name a book turned into a movie.

Okay? Now that you have come up with your own answers, scroll down to see mine…

With 1,020 books read, I’m going to try to use them as much as possible. I will be putting book covers as my answers, but they’ll be copied straight from my list of ready-made HTML book image tags, so I won’t know if they’re right until I publish. I’ll write the answers first then paste in the images so I won’t be prompted by my tag list.
Here goes:

Q1: Name a book written by an author called Michael.
A1: That’s a nice easy one, I just need to choose between Michael Grant, Michael Connelly, Michael A. Stackpole or Michael Crichton…that’s not even a decision:

Q2: Name a book with a dragon on the cover.
A2: There’s a few I could go with, but I’m going to pick one that doesn’t have it in the title.

Q3: Name a book about a character called George.
A3: Instantly thought of this one, can’t even think of any others, too busy seeing Rik Mayall doing the spell song in my head.

Q4: Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.
A4: Really having to wrack my brains for this one. Can only think of Wilbur Smith, and I’ve not read any by his stuff nor can I name any of the titles. I suppose Dick King-Smith isn’t allowed…
Ah, I’ll turn to Star Wars:
. I know it only asked for one but I was pretty excited to remember L. Neal Smith.

Q5: Name a book set in Australia.
A5: Good thing I recently read

‘cos otherwise I’d be stuck.

Q6: Name a book with the name of a month in the title.
A6: Can you believe I’ve not read a single book that answers this? I can do day of the week, mealtime, season but not month. I’m going to have to say The Hunt For The Red October by Tom Clancy, the movie of which starring Sean Connery I have seen.

Q7: Name a book with a knife on the cover.
A7: I’m pretty sure that

has a knife sticking in a front door with running figures in the reflection in the blade.

Q8: Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.
A8: There’s a lot to pick from here. I’m going to go with Harry Harrison’s tale following the invention of the anti-gravity device:

Q9: Name a book with a eponymous title (e.g. the main character in the book IS the name of the book).
A9: Again lots to choose from. Going with the next Discworld book I’m going to reread:

Q10: Name a book turned into a movie.
A10: These days it’s hard not to. I’m going to go with a lesser-known (and good) book that was made in to a lesser known (and indifferent) movie:

That was fun. Some were much trickier than others. I still can’t think of any other Georges.
I you enjoyed that then feel free to hang about on my site. There are plenty of other tags to check out, as well as some other stuff that might interest you, or help pass the time.
Thanks for reading.