Tag Archives: Books

Two book recommendations

Since I stopped keeping count of my monthly book reading, I’ve occasionally found myself composing short reviews of books I’m reading, only to remember that I’m not doing that anymore. Then I realised I COULD still do that if I wanted to.

The world is my oyster. The internet is my hamster ball. The Pompidou Centre was a ghastly mistake that had nothing to do with me.

So, in that spirit, here are two books I have read recently that are worth a look:

Moonwalking with Einstein

Journalism is often writing about something that other people are doing. Josh Foer went a step further when he covered the National Memory Championships in America – he accepted the challenge to train for the following year and compete. Along the way he investigates what memory is, how it works, whether it really can be improved, how it intersects with education, the historical memory versus the modern view, savantism… There’s really so much to this book it’s hard to nail it down.

I got my copy through Audible, which is great because it prevents me skipping paragraphs (something I’m prone to with non-fiction), but it makes it harder to bookmark great passages for later investigation. There are some hints and tips in the book for improving your own memory, but mostly it is a fascinating ride through the history of memory and Josh’s personal journey from reporting on the National Memory Championships to competing in them.

Whispers Under Ground

Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant)

I picked the first of this series (Midnight Riot) from the paperback stand at my local library. It was great to find an Urban Fantasy book that wasn’t set in America and wasn’t fascinated by vampires or werewolves. Instead, these books follow Peter Grant, a young Detective Constable in the Metropolitan Police, as he stumbles across the arcane branch of the Met that deals with the Supernatural. Well, I say “branch”, but really it’s just Detective Inspector Nightingale. Nightingale takes Grant under his wing (ha! See what I did there?) and introduces him to the other side of London, while slowly coaching him in the art of magic. What’s refreshing about Grant is that he’s a modern guy who feels that doing magic is cool and fun, and he’s also a little bit scientific about the whole thing. When he discovers magic has a devastating effect on microchips, for example, he sets up a simple experiment to establish the range of the effect. He learns from mistakes, and he pushes at the boundaries placed on him by Nightingale. In short, he feels like a real person.

“Whispers” is the third in the series, and again I got it through Audible. The performance is excellent and the story manages to stay logical while still scampering through magic and legend. I just picked up the fourth one this week.

On behalf of a friend : Buy a book and make a difference.

I spend a lot of time on Google +, the social network. Through it I have met many other writers, artists, performers, parents, students, poets… Many have become genuine friends, and from time to time I see appeals for help. Someone has unexpected medical bills, or a family member in need of help. But Brad Poynter’s story was a little different, because he wasn’t asking people to send money. He wanted to give something in exchange, so he’s cut the price on his e-book and asked people just to buy that.
Please, read his story below. I know there will be some people out there who say “I had some hard times, where were all the people to help me?” Well, right here and now, those people are YOU. You have the choice to buy a book, or not. I’ll be reviewing Brad’s book on this site shortly, and I’m sure he won’t mind if you want to wait and hear what it’s all about before you click the button on Amazon.
Here’s what Brad posted:
“Brad Poynter originally shared:

My family needs your help.

One of my daughters is struggling with life and was planning to kill herself. Thankfully she talked to her mentor at school first and now that we are aware of her hidden struggles, we are doing everything we can to help her through this.

She is in the best facility in Arkansas for troubled teens and they are getting her on some meds along with the counseling of their great therapists. We will do whatever it takes to get her the help she needs.

First, I would ask that you send prayers, good vibrations, mojo, or whatever other positive energy you prefer her way. Science be damned today; she needs whatever advantage she can get to get through this. It would be greatly appreciated.

Secondly, this is going to be expensive even if we get approved for the state assistance for children. We are at that income level on the borderline and I’ve been told not to get my hopes up. A 20% copay is still going to be a lot in relation to our incomes even if we do get their help.

That being said, I’m not asking for donations. I would prefer to give you something in return for your help and not be one of the freeloading poor people that politicians get so worked up about. Our family has worked hard and gotten off of all government assistance two years ago, but like I said I’ll do whatever it takes to get her help. That includes selling my dream car or taking advantage of the programs my taxes help pay for.

If you would like to help, I ask that you buy my book so you get something in return for your generosity. You can see what it’s about at the links below and if it sounds good, purchase it there as well. So far, the people that have read it seem to really enjoy the story.

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANORCHW
Print: https://www.createspace.com/4030391

If you don’t read or want to buy it as a gift for someone who does, tag me in a private message and I can give you my paypal details. I would really prefer to earn it, but once again; I will do whatever it takes to get her the help she needs.

If you’re not in a position to help financially, you can share this plea with your internet friends or if you’ve already read the book and haven’t reviewed it you could do so to let these other kind folks know what they’re getting into.

As you can imagine, this is all very hard for me to come to terms with but it’s not about me. It’s about a tender soul who is struggling to come to terms with the sometimes harsh and ugly world around her. I would do anything to make it better. Even standing on the virtual street corners of the internet busking my book like it’s snake oil is fair game.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for any support you can offer.”

The August Sale!


sale picture

It’s August. The month that includes my birthday. If things were otherwise, this might be a significant year, like turning 40 or 42. Sadly, it’s just boring old 41 so I’ve decided to spice things up by reducing prices on my most popular e-books for THE WHOLE MONTH OF AUGUST! I was going to reduce them by 41% which would have been both clever and significant, but it was too much math. Instead I took the short story collections down to 99 Cents and the non-fiction smash success “The Great Canadian Adventure” from $6.99 down to $2.99. (All other prices are calculated from those base prices.)

But don’t just take my word for it – check out the links below to go straight to your nearest Amazon Website and see for yourself!

The Great Canadian Adventure: Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.ca

The true-life story of how my family and I emigrated to Canada, and how we got on in the first year of our new life. With Pictures!

Troubled Souls:                                  Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.ca

Three stories from the male perspective, with three men in different, but desperate circumstances. Also the opening of my upcoming Zombie novel.

Science Fiction Shorts:                  Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.ca

Four stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Coffee Time Tales:                            Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.ca

Five short stories, originally written for women’s coffee-break fiction magazines. These are not grim and gritty stories of the real world, nor are they faerie, werewolf or sparkly vampire-filled stories of a underworld, netherworld, netherparts or underwear. They are gentle, uplifting and feature female protagonists and romantic storylines.

Like all writers, a sale of a book is the best birthday present I could get. And if you’ve already bought one of my books, why not consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads? Honesty is encouraged, because when you review it’s YOUR reputation on the line as much as mine – you want your friends to trust your judgement, don’t you?

To all other August birthday folks (like fellow author but sadly dead person Mary Shelley) have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


May Reading

May’s been a crazy month, with Mrs Dim’s birthday celebrations, unexpected illness, even more unexpected job interviews and a sudden rush of paid work for me at home.

None of that, of course, has put a dent in my reading. In case people think I laze around reading when I should be doing productive things, let me reassure you: I read at night, I read over breakfast, and I will take the latest book with me anywhere I think I might be sitting around for more than five minutes…And two of my weasels are being treated at the Orthodontist right now, so I have lots of those five minutes.

Sacre Bleu – Christopher Moore

I’m a fan of Christopher Moore’s work in general, but this book feels a little like a departure for him. While no less imaginative or anarchic, it’s shot through with some interesting observances and philosophy, as well as beautiful illustrations of (mainly Impressionist) artwork. I studied History of Art for a while in college, and this book was like a walk through the happier parts of that course.

The Dragon with the girl tattoo – Adam Roberts

There are some parodies that can’t sustain the joke beyond the title. This isn’t one of those, aping the storyline of the original book to a certain degree, but wandering away when it’s clear the author found the ending of that novel to be a let-down. I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would, and I’m glad I stuck with it.

Star Wars Omnibus – emissaries and assassins

Having read the other volume of these collected comics from the library last month, I wanted to complete the set. Looking back, now three weeks on, I don’t remember much of this one at all. That can’t be much of a recommendation.

Practical Demonkeeping – Christopher Moore

Reading “Sacre Bleu” reminded me how much I liked Christopher Moore’s work, so I went back to this book, the first in his “Pine Cove” series. It’s a wild ride, featuring Catch the demon (who also appears in his religious work “The gospel according to Biff”). Nothing in the book happens quite as you expect it to, which I think is as it should be.

Revenge of the Vinyl Cafe – Stuart Maclean

I’ve probably said before how much I enjoy Stuart Maclean’s stories about Dave and Morley and their family. He’s like Garrison Keillor without the savage undertone. We were lucky enough to get tickets for a live show at Christmas and saw Stuart performing two stories onstage – he’s so enthusiastic that he bops up and down with the words, his hands always moving, his face as expressive as his voice (which always reminds me of James Stewart somehow.) This collection is the regular kind of wonderful, though the last story was almost too sad to bear – it’s called Morte D’Arthur, and anyone familiar with the members of Dave’s family will know enough to stay away from that one. Especially if they’ve ever had pets.

Partials – Dan Wells

I haven’t covered any YA or dystopian futures yet, so here’s one that’s both. Years after a disastrous war against their own race of super-soldiers (The Partials), mankind is reduced to a tiny enclave on Long Island. But no children have been born in the last fourteen years that survive more than a few days. The virus released by the Partials kills them all. Despairing of the lack of research done, one brave girl decides to capture a Partial and see if their immunity can be passed on to the babies, before revolution or the latest draconian laws destroy her tiny community altogether.

I enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. Well written and even more well thought out, the twists and turns of the plot are surprising but believable and the world itself feels possible.

You are not so smart – David McRaney

This book is the collected posts of a blog (a bit like mine! Yay!) but this blog deals with psychological issues, mainly of perception – all those things that we think we know, all the “man in a pub told me” kind of facts. For example, there’s a telling piece on the experiment to have students act as jail guard or prisoners for two weeks. Guards and students were chosen at random, but within days the guards were going beyond their remit to ‘punish’ the prisoners, and the prisoners themselves were suffering from depression and lack of self-esteem. This tells us a lot about how we might act in similar situations, and is typical of the genuine science the book pulls out to show the reader how we might be fooling ourselves about the things we know.

Zombie Spaceship wasteland – Patton Oswalt

Thinking at first that this was going to be the weirdest novel ever, I was a little disappointed to find it was a collection of thoughts and opinion pieces by the comedian Patton Oswalt. He had a resurgence of internet fame after his comments following the Boston Marathon bombing became the most-shared internet wisdom on the subject. I struggled with some of the pieces in the book, and found others to be too painfully honest, but the title actually refers to a vague system Oswalt has devised to divide up the human race. I’m not going to summarize it here, because it may be the one thing worth picking up the book for.

A Blink of the Screen – Terry Pratchett

Many years ago a friend lent me a copy of “Pyramids” and I was instantly hooked on the Discworld. Since then (which is a scary number of years…let’s see, 1990…Wow, 23 years!) I’ve collected all the Discworld books, and read every other book he has written. This collection of short fiction pieces showcases work from throughout his career, including a story he wrote when he was thirteen, which he credits with giving him the confidence to believe he could write stories other people would enjoy. There are two halves to this book, being regular stories and Discworld stories. There weren’t any that particularly stuck out, but I enjoyed the read, and the hardback version I read had some beautiful illustrations included.

Amrita – Nan Allen

I don’t have an illustration for this book, nor do I have a link (yet). Nan is one of my good friends on G+, and she has provided good advice and excellent editing services in the year or so since I’ve known her. She asked me to Beta-read her new YA novel and I accepted without hesitation.

Like Nan’s previous work “A Mystic Romance”

“Amrita” isn’t the kind of book I’d usually pick up for myself. It’s a YA novel about a young Indian bride, brought across to America when her husband’s father finds him a job with a technology company. Amrita has to struggle to find her place as a new wife, living in the home of her in-laws, but also having to attend High School and keep the fact of her marriage secret from the other students.

The book is not a condemnation of other cultures or individuals, but it’s using Amrita’s situation to talk about young women finding out that they are more than the labels and expected duties of their society. It doesn’t matter if you’re raised in a strongly traditional part of India, or the deep South of America, or Upstate New York, you have the right to be yourself, to find out what your own limits are, not have them placed on you by other people.

It was a hard read at times, with my blood boiling with indignation on Amrita’s behalf, but I think that’s a good sign – when a situation in a book causes an emotional reaction, it means you’re in that world, you’re believing it.

Dodger – Terry Pratchett

Despite my previously stated love of Terry’s work, I had been avoiding reading Dodger. Some of the reviews I had read had told me it wasn’t a Discworld novel, and the last non-discworld book of his I had read (“The Long Earth”) was intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying.

Dodger is set in Dickensian London, and Dickens is only one of the famous characters of that time to wander through the story. Dodger is a street urchin, a Tosher, who makes his living from the detritus washed into the city’s drains and sewers. He saves a girl from a savage beating and becomes a target for the same men when he hides the girl from them.

I enjoyed the story, but after it was done, it occurred to me that Dodger was never actually in any trouble. He plans ahead, uses his many street contacts and his new friends in high places and is always one step ahead of the bad guys. One of the things I loved about the Modesty Blaise series by Peter O’Donnell was that Modesty and Willie would meticulously plan their operation, and within minutes of it beginning, something unexpected would disrupt everything and they would have to start anew from a very perilous position.

Someone mentioned recently that, reading the “Watch” series of Pratchett books, it’s like Terry likes his characters too much to put them in any real peril any more. I think there’s some truth in that.

Han Solo’s Revenge – Brian Daley

A little while ago I reviewed my rediscovered copy of “Han Solo and the Lost Legacy”. Well, this week a parcel arrived from the UK with a stack of “Doctor Who” books for Eldest Weasel, and tucked in amongst them was this gem, the first in the trilogy of Han Solo adventures by Brian Daley.

The book finds Han and Chewie very nearly down and out, struggling to make ends meet and get the Falcon repaired. This state encourages them to take a dodgy job they would otherwise have avoided, which gets them involved in a Slaver’s ring and a big investigation by the Corporate Sector Authority.

It’s fun, and well-written by someone who clearly loves the characters. And since this was a UK version, the droid on the ship is back to being called “Zollux” which sounds soooo much better to me.

Wayne of Gotham – Tracy Hickman

This is the second time I’ve tried to read this book. I always think I’m more of a Batfan than I really am, and this is old Bruce Wayne, feeling the strain of the years and relying on the exoskeleton in the Batsuit to help him get through the night. A convoluted story that will probably delight the true fans out there, this draws a tight web around Alfred and Bruce’s parents and the genesis of the many wild villains that populate Gotham city.

I found it hard going, and at one point, utterly perplexing. Hearing a recording of his father’s voice, Bruce learns some troubling things about a crucial stage of his father’s medical research. But his father says “I’m leaving this record for my boys… Both of them…”. At the time I filed the detail away, waiting for Bruce’s younger, or older, or twin brother to suddenly step out of the shadows. Or for Bruce to be killed and his brother emerge to don the batmantle. Except that didn’t happen. Blah, blah, blah, fight, struggle, succeed. No mention of a brother. But this wasn’t a typo. A single error, yes, that I could accept, but the other sentence began with “Both of them” and it’s really hard to make a mistake like that when you’re talking about an individual.

So, although I read to the end, I found it, ultimately, a depressing book. Maybe I should stay away from the Dark Knight altogether….

All the illustrations and all the links regarding the books have been taken from Amazon.com. Apologies if you’d like to track these books down in some other land (like Canada, for instance!) but most should be available in your own native Amazon stores. Also, remember to check your local library for these books too.

Today being the final day of May, it also sees the end of the promotional price for “The Great Canadian Adventure”, reverting to the regular price of $6.99 from tomorrow. You still have time to pick it up at the bargain price of $2.99, but only if you hurry!

Amazon US     Amazon UK    Amazon CA

Publishing House – growing new authors

The standard cover - minus author details...

The standard cover – minus author details…

Kids have always written stories in school. Whether it’s part of your English class, or to help you learn a language, or even just as a way to get to grips with forming words, kids write stories.

In the school my weasels attend, they’ve taken the story-writing a step further. As part of the Publishing House program, parent volunteers help the kids develop new stories, getting them to think about character, location, description and plot. The kids write up the stories, fill out a basic “Meet the Author” page and choose an outline for the illustration frames.

Then the stories, along with the author information and frame choice, are passed along to other volunteers (one of whom is me) and they put the whole thing through a desktop publishing program, printing out the story under the picture frames booklet style, with a front cover bearing the title and author name, and the “Meet The Author” details at the back. Every book shares the same simple cover – title, author name. The writers then receive their published booklet and put in their own hand-drawn illustrations. Then the cover of the book is laminated and the whole thing assembled permanently.

The next part is the best – all the published books go into the school library. When the kids go to choose books from the library, they can choose to read books written by their friends or they can choose their own books. They can see the books they wrote on the shelves, just like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Nancy Drew, The Hungry Caterpillar…

I think it’s a brilliant program, especially now that publishing ebooks has become so easy. Children are learning that it doesn’t take much to put your words into print, and seeing those printed words gives you a very good idea of what it means to write a book. You see your story and say “Yes, it’s fun, but it’s not very long… Maybe I need more description here? Did I start telling the story in the right place? I know what this bit means, because I wrote it, but someone else might find it confusing…”

I hope the kids who try Publishing House find a useful mix of pride and disappointment – pride that these are their words on the bookshelves, and a little disappointment because it doesn’t quite look like they wanted it to. That little disappointment is what will push them on to write more, to work at their craft until they are writing the kinds of stories that reach out from the page and steal hours from your day.

Amazon’s e-publishing program is doing much the same for adult writers, but I think too few of them get to see their work from the outside – they don’t go into the library and pick their own book off the shelf. I make it a practice to download a copy of each book I publish, and I see what they look like from the outside. Often I see little things that I should do differently next time. Formatting issues, typos, cover design… These little touches matter as much as good story. And while I work on my own tales for the next publication, I’ll continue publishing the words of the next generation of authors.

Did you ever publish your own book as a child? My brother once wrote a great story called “Mark and Markos” about a boy and his robot, which he wrote and illustrated. Dad liked it so much he made copies on the old Roneo duplicator (a thing that did what photocopiers do now, but it took longer and was much, much messier. Plus you got to turn a handle round and round until it had printed enough copies….)

The April Bookshelf

Trotting off on a road trip to San Diego for the first half of April put quite a dent in my reading. Since we were packing all five of us and our gear into the one car, it seemed unwise to take up too much space with reading material.

Lucky for me I have a kindle.

The Steampunk Megapack

I’ve been reading this collection of stories on and off for a while now. Not because I couldn’t get into it, but because there’s SO MUCH in it. The first few tales are short stories, but before long the content is padded with entire novels – I really enjoyed re-reading Conan-Doyle’s “The Lost World” and experiencing “John Carter and the Princess of Mars” for the first time.

As with most of the collections I’ve read, not all of the stories were to my taste, which isn’t surprising. What was surprising and a bit annoying was that very few of the stories were genuine Steampunk. Though the term itself is only a loose classification, I really feel there does need to be an “alternate universe” feel to the setting. The basic idea of Steampunk is that modern technology, like electrical devices and gasoline-powered vehicles were not developed along the same lines, and that Steam Power achieved most of the same results. In addition, there’s usually more than a touch of Victoriana about the mannerism and the dress code, if not the time zone.

The majority of these stories were based in the right era and thus had the language, but hit none of the other checkpoints. Value for money, but not the product it’s claiming to be.

Behemoth and Goliath – Scott Westerfeld

I mentioned the first of Westerfeld’s “Animalistic Steampunk” trilogy last month, and this month I tracked down the next two in the series. I really enjoyed these books – partially for the plucky female lead, and partially for the excellently real, yet fantastic world they’re set in. I also give Scott credit for stopping World War One in his world. Good job, that man.

The Girl of Nightmares – Kendare Blake

Picked entirely because of the beautiful artwork on the cover, I found this was at least the second or third in a series. The story goes that a mystic group imbued a knife with the power to release the unquiet dead – to “kill” ghosts. Now, in the modern day, the wielder of the knife lives in America, and only “kills” the “bad” ghosts, plus he’s fallen in love with a dead girl, and wants to know if the knife can be used to rescue her from hell. Now, aside from the other practical issues here, what kind of mystic group goes to all that trouble then leaves their mystic warriors to their own devices for TWO GENERATIONS? Were they twiddling their mystic thumbs all this time?

I rushed back to the library to hurriedly NOT book out the other books in the series.

Shada – Gareth Roberts

When Eldest Weasel bought herself this book for her birthday, I was intrigued to note that it had Douglas Adams’ name on the cover. DA wrote three Doctor Who episodes for the Tom Baker era Doctor, but the third one was not one of his favourites, and was never completed due to strike action at the BBC. Now the scripts from that story, his notes and the knowledge of the books Douglas wrote later have been brought together to create this novel. It was very good, even though I spent a lot of time tutting and saying “Hitch hiker….Dirk Gently…Dirk Gently…Huh…” as I recognised bits and pieces here and there. Well worth the read if you are a fan of Adams, Doctor Who, Dirk Gently or all three.

Star Wars Omnibus “Menace revealed”

I couldn’t resist adding such a thick collection of Star Wars comics to my library list when I found out they were gathered together in one volume. This bunch includes a couple of tales about Jango Fett and Zam Wesell which changes my view of their working relationship as portrayed in “Episode 2” and a couple more  about Aurra Sing, the mysterious Jedi Hunter. The final few were simply advertisements for toys, being reprints of the short comics that came free with the vehicles and figures on sale, but I enjoyed the first stories enough to make the loan worthwhile.

4th Doctor Who anniversary story: The Roots of Evil – Phillip Reeve

There are some cracking authors in this anniversary series. I’ve been a fan of Phillip Reeve since picking up “Mortal Engines” on a whim and reading the whole series thereafter. Now THAT’s a series begging to be a movie AND  a computer game. I would pay good money to fly the Jenny Hanniver from Traction City to the Air Market… But that ‘s NOT what this book’s about. This is an adventure of the fourth Doctor, traveling with the wonderfully savage Leela and discovering an entire floating world made from a single, enormous tree.

Plain Kate – Erin Bow

When I began reading “Plain Kate” I really felt like I had stumbled across a good old fashioned children’s story. The world was recognisable, but old, the characters were simple, but believable and there was a touch of magic. Things got dark quickly, however, and I raced on through the book, waiting for the tide to turn and Kate’s life to improve.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I’ll say it’s definitely worth the read. It’ll strain the heartstrings of even the toughest reader, and I would hesitate before offering it to any of the Weasels, since they all have such soft hearts. Mrs Dim is working through it now, and “enjoying” it.

Michael Vey: The prisoner of cell 25 – Richard Paul Evans

I’ve seen a brilliant map that someone has created, showing many of the lands from fiction as if they shared the same world: Middle Earth, Westeros, Narnia, Panem… I was thinking there should be a similar thing to show the many bunches of renegade kids with super-powers running about the place.

This book doesn’t have much new to say on the subject of being a kid with superpowers, but it was an engaging read and I found myself flying through the book to see if the villains get their comeuppance at the end. Rather than answer that question, I’ll just say there’s a second book in the series….

The Bughouse Affair – Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

I have to be honest, I picked this one up, assuming it to be another steampunk detective piece, but it’s not – it’s a period detective piece. If you’re a fan of San Francisco, or the 1890’s, or of books that feature cameos by Sherlock Holmes, then this may well be a book for you. Or maybe you just like central characters that say “Bah!” a lot. Sadly, I don’t fit into any of those catagories, and I also have a peculiar need for the title of a book to bear some relation to the content of the book. This book is entitled “The Bughouse Affair” and deals with burglaries, pickpocketing and Sherlock Holmes. NOT elementary.

From a Buick 8 – Stephen King

I’ve been a King fan for years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read this particular book. It’s an interesting story, particularly if you’ve worked your way through the rest of the King canon, because what the book is about is a piece of a much larger story, yet you don’t NEED to know that other story to appreciate this one.

Troop D are keeping an old Buick in a shed, and it has a dangerous and strange history. When the son of a trooper who was killed in a roadside accident begins to ask questions about the shed, it’s time to tell the strange story and lay the ghosts to rest.

Apologies for linking all these books to Amazon.com, and not having the techno-savvy to allow the link from the picture to show the inside of the books.

I know some of my reviews are harsh, both here and last month, but these are the books that I stuck with to the end. They may not, in some cases, have made my favourite list, but they were engaging enough to hold my attention. There are books not mentioned here because I didn’t finish them.

And, of course, the other book I’ve been reading a lot in the last month is my own : The Great Canadian Adventure .  I’ve been putting this account of our first year in Canada together for the last couple of years, but a concerted effort this month has produced the kindle edition, complete with colour photographs and hyperlinks. I certainly haven’t seen another kindle book like it. Let me know what you think of it.

I DO have all the links for this one:

Amazon.Com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CKZQUX4
Amazon.co.uk : http://amzn.to/12WTomY
Amazon.ca : http://amzn.to/ZWv5XD

February Reading – Filling the shortest month.

It’s been a busy short month, and I haven’t been to the library as often as I’d like. As I mentioned last week, I’m working on a new method of writing, and it’s going well – with a day left, I am only three scenes short of finishing, and have accumulated over eight thousand words in five and a half hours of writing.

Mechanicals – Jordan Stratford

This was a recommended read and I picked up the e-version for my kindle. It’s a steampunk adventure, and while I found it engrossing enough, it uses a multi-strand story device that was irritating too. The story of the novel rounds off reasonably well, but with the inescapable fact that there are more in the series to read. It was fun and well done, but I won’t be getting the next one.

The Ghost Brigades – John Scalzi

Every now and then, I go back to a book I have read many times before. It’s comforting, and there is often the joy of discovering something hitherto unnoticed. “Old Man’s War” is one of my favourite audio books, and listening to it inspires me to read this book, the sequel. I would not hesitate to recommend “Old Man’s War” and then “Ghost Brigades” to anyone.

The Inexplicables – Cherie Priest

“Boneshaker” was probably the first steampunk novel I ever read, so I have followed the series with interest. Cherie Priest says this is the last book she intends to set in Seattle, but I hope not. I’d love to see a game adaptation of Seattle-within-the-wall. A friend who works in film costume says there’s a steampunk movie being filmed in Vancouver, and I’m hoping it’s “Boneshaker”…

Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader – James Luceno

I was a chapter into this book before I realised I’d read it before. It’s a good attempt to get into the character of Anakin Skywalker as he changes into Darth Vader, something that naturally occurs AFTER he’s encased in the suit that we all know. It’s interesting to me, because it dwells on the problems he has adapting to his artificial limbs after being such a dazzling swordsman and athletic Jedi.

Shadow Show – Various Authors

This was a book I wanted to love. It’s a collection of short stories by published authors who have been inspired by Ray Bradbury. I’ve read some Bradbury (because, who hasn’t?) and I liked it well enough. But I guess I will always prefer Asimov. Sorry. Thus, this collection was impressive and well put together, but not for me.

Eden Close – Anita Shreve

There are some books you read and think “This person wants to win a literary award”. Either the situation described in the book, or the writing will clue you in that this is not entertainment but LITERATURE. The right hand is typing, the left hand is holding the Thesaurus and the head is firmly inserted up the bum. Don’t get me wrong, this is a well crafted story, and I wanted to read it through to the end, but I felt bad I didn’t have a trophy or cheque to award the author when I finished reading.

Sandman – Dream Hunters – Neil Gaiman

I like to grab the odd graphic novel from the library. They feel like easy reading, when in fact they often cram more ideas and expression into each page than the literary novels like the one mentioned above. In this case, it’s hardly a graphic novel, more like a beautifully illustrated short story. I love Neil Gaiman’s prose, combining pith, poetry and practicality in every line. His stories stay real, even when dealing with the world of dreams.

I’m halfway through another collection of short stories, and have a couple of books stacked up for next month. John Scalzi’s “The Human Division” is playing chapter by chapter on my audio book device and I have another two books downloaded and waiting for playing.

I think I’m looking forward to March.

January Reading

This year I decided to keep a record of the books I’ve read. It’s something I did a long time ago, and it’s fun to see how much (or how little) genre-hopping I do. Most of these books either come from the Library or via Kindle, but some I actually purchased in a real shop.


The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Yes, the real one. Offered as a free classic on my Kindle, I couldn’t resist, having never actually read the original. It’s amazingly good, with some moments that made me genuinely laugh out loud. Also, it fills me with horror at the notion of evenings spent with nothing but card games, playing the pianoforte and conversation to pass the time.

Darth Plagueis by James Luceno – As with the Star Trek book coming up later, I won’t apologise for reading Star Wars titles. They’re fun, and this one does a good job of filling out the backstory of an important character.

An Apple for the Creature by Multiple authors, including Charlaine Harris

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman And Jay Bonansinga – Having missed most of the series that features the Governor, the twist at the end of this book had little impact on me. Once I figured it out, I understood what a clever piece of writing it was.

I shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett – the latest, and possibly the last of the Tiffany Aching series. I love this bunch of books, because Terry Pratchett’s witches are a wonderful voice of reason in this mad world (and I’m talking about OUR world, not the Discworld.) Middle Weasel loves this series too, and reads them to herself when I’m not reading them to her.

I, Lucifer by Peter O’Donnell – We have all the Modesty Blaise books. Every now and then I pull one off the shelf to read in a spare moment, and then I have to read several more. It’s like Chinese food, but with crime and assassinations.

Dragon’s Claw by Peter O’Donnell

The Silver Mistress by Peter O’Donnell

Star Trek: Destiny by David Mack – Although the link is to the first in the trilogy, I actually picked up the combined books as one collection for the criminal price of $5. It was a long read, and felt like someone had said “OK, we’ve had enough Borg stories, round ’em off with a bang, please!” I enjoyed it.

Troubled Souls Cover 3

Of course, I haven’t just been reading during January. I also published another e-book of my own, filling in the gap before “The Great Canadian Adventure” is published. If you like quirky, off-beat, first person narrative pieces, then try “Troubled Souls” . I’ve included two new short stories, “Rescue me” and “The Devil Woman and my box” as well as my older piece “Smoke” which you can also read elsewhere in this blog. The final part of the book is composed of teaser chapters from my forthcoming novella set during the zombie apocalypse, currently titled “Eddie Vs the Kingdom of Denby”, which may be the worst title I’ve come up with since “But how was the play, Mrs Lincoln?

I haven’t included in my list a couple of books I’m STILL reading – they’ll appear on next month’s list, if I publish it.

What were YOUR favourite books of January? Which classics have you never read, but always meant to? They’re often FREE on the kindle, you know – go check out the Kindle store!