Friday, 20 July 2012


Continuing with my Tamora Pierce Binge, I discovered a whole new series that I hadn't previously read, and I ended up loving it. Again, it's aimed at Young Adults, but displays the same quality of writing that I have come to expect from Pierce, and I would heartily recommend them to anyone - YA or not.

The Magic in the WeavingThe Power in the StormThe Fire in the ForgingThe Healing in the Vine - Tamora Pierce

Magic StepsStreet MagicCold FireShatterglass - Tamora Pierce

The Affinity Bridge - George Mann
I bought this one because of the steam-punk premise, hoping it was going to be similar to the wonderful Parasol Protectorate series, and boy was I disappointed. Cliche, predictable and with completely two-dimensional characters. The protagonist is annoying and the female lead useless. Don't bother.

The Enchantment Emporium - Tanya Huff
A wonderful find - a proper grown-up fantasy with engaging characters... Just about everything I said about Tamora Pierce also holds true for Huff, but pitched at the adult market, not YA.

Grave Witch - Kalayna Price
This is a fun little book that makes good holiday reading. It's a trashy paperback that I devoured on an aeroplane, but would be unlikely to re-read much. A silly and fun book about modern day magic and a witch  doing unofficial work for the police. It's in the same vein as Jim Butcher's Dresden files, but with a female protagonist, and a lot less misogyny. If you want a quick paperback fix, I'd recommend this over Butcher any day.

The Lady Of the Rivers - Phillipa Gregory
Another Phillipa Gregory that I'd spent a long time putting off reading, for no apparent reason. A good, solid read from a great author.

Melting Stones - Tamora Pierce

The Will of the Empress - Tamora Pierce


January saw me diving into a Tamora Pierce spin. Though mostly based at the young adult market, I grew up with these books and I still like to dip into them. And by "dip into them" I mean re-read the whole lot in one go and obsessively read every new one I can find.
I love to watch the development of Pierce's prose style over the books, as well as the development of the worlds she creates, but it's her heroines that make her stand out from... just about every other author I know of who writes for YA. Each one is different - it's not just the same woman recycled over again; they are "strong" women, by which I mean they are well developed characters who can stand on their own two feet and provide wonderful role models for growing girls, but they aren't without their flaws. They are real people,  who don't fit into little cliched boxes that a lot of fantasy writers seem to post women into. Her men are also real characters too, and she writes a wonderfully convincing and enthralling world that I want to go back to time and time again.

Terrier / Bloodhound / Mastiff - Tamora Pierce
Re-read / Re-read / ****

Song of the Lioness Quartet

Immortals Quartet

Protector of the Small Quartet
Re- read

Trickster's Choice / Trickster's Queen

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Finishing off 2011


The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde
I'm going to steal my own review that I wrote on Amazon when I first read this book... while I've mellowed a little towards it over a few more re-readings, I still think it's not as good as its predecessor. Still fantastic, but I suppose unflattering comparisons are the price you pay when your work is of such high quality to start with.

Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse - Foglio
The latest in the Girl Genius series. Bought because I like re-reading, and it's tiring to go through the internet archives every time. Not bad, but certainly nothing special.

Cabal - Clive Barker
Intense, well paced - finished this very quickly. Definitely a horror, with some quite gruesome moments, this stood out for having a love-interest who breaks a lot of conventions and to my mind was far more interesting than the protagonist. She could have done with a less whiny lead to follow.

Snuff - Terry Pratchett
It's Pratchett - and to his fans it can't but be good. Contrary to some opinions, I don't feel that Pratchett's work is deteriorating; the book did feel like it was running out of comedic steam in places, but overall his work is becoming more thoughtful and filled with dry wit rather than the punchy gag-a-minute humour of yesteryear. And I don't think that's a bad thing. All writers progress and change, and I'd much rather that Pratchett settled into this different style, allowing his characters to progress and tell more of a story than allowed his old one to become stale, repeating the same old jokes with characters treading water.


Storm Front - Jim Butcher
Having heard so much good about the Dresden Files, this one had to be an anti-climax. I found it predictable ... and yet another story with a dull cookie-cutter angst-ridden Straight White Male protagonist, who didn't get enough interesting development to make me care about him. I am getting very tired of this type of anti-hero being placed in front of me. Kindest thing to say about it would be that it makes decent airport reading.

Sabriel - Garth Nix
Fantastic opening to a cracking fantasy series. Nix's take on - effectively necromancy - is fresh, new and fascinating. His characters zing, and the plot is enthralling. Butcher and Barker should be taking notes. And this is a book aimed at the YA market. Yet more proof that we live in a golden age of children's fiction. Would recommend to all ages.

Lirael - Garth Nix
Continues standard of excellence as set by previous book.


Abhorsen - Garth Nix
Fantastic series all the way through. Wonderful conclusion to the trilogy.

Fly By Night - Frances Hardinge
Disclaimer - I actually ended up reading this because I know Frances. But, biased as I am, I would still recommend this as a brilliant read for anyone. Much like Nix, Hardinge proves that younger readers can cope with far more in-depth, complex and fascinating stuff than the fare that is often churned out for adults. Fly By Night brings to life a wonderfully detailed and imaginative world, populated by fascinating and well-developed characters. I have a penchant for any author who can name their characters well - Dickens had the skill (though in other respects I'm not a fan) as does Jasper Fforde, and so too does Hardinge, with such wonderful characters as Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent. Not to mention Saracen the goose. I'm annoyed I put off reading it as long as I did.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

September 2011

Because I couldn't put this off any longer, and it's getting silly now.

I am also trying out a new system of reviewing that's a bit more punchy, and incidentally quicker to write, so I can hopefully blast through the last few months, and still do them justice. I'd ask that you tell me if you don't think I have, but I have no illusions about the size of my readership...

I'm introducing a new 5* rating system from here on in as well; something that may make for interesting developments during the yearly review, and add a qualitative element as well as a quantative one. Re-reads are not counted in the ratings, because they're all automatically assumed to have 4 or 5 stars. Otherwise I wouldn't be re-reading them.

So here we go...


After the latest DC reboot, WW has been "updated", and I'm not especially keen on how. Stripping her of the rest of the Amazons and the haven of Themyscria was bad enough (like comics need fewer female characters) - but the worst was what they've done to the character. There is a reason WW carries a lasso. The new one is armed with gauntlets designed for punching and stamping their imprint on people; she's a thug, whose first impulse is violence and killing. And that's just not Wonder Woman; that's the exact opposite. It's like you can't have a Strong Female Character any more, unless we're talking physically strong, and using it to lash out because of some past trauma (that half the time we can't remember). It's not that WW shouldn't be able to dish out some damage - heck, I think one of the most interesting of her storylines is the one with Maxwell Lord - but WW has always been interesting because she thinks about it. She doesn't react on instinct, she doesn't lash out, she's always mindful of her actions; she's strong mentally and emotionally as much as she is physically.
Which is why she's such a challenging character, and why, I think, male writers are often threatened by her. Now she's been passed away from Gail Simone and on to three guys, they've almost completely neutered her as a character, and it's a crying shame.
I've only given it two stars instead of one because I think there *may* be the possibility of improvement... but I'm not holding out too much hope.

I'm doing these collectively because it was a while ago now, and the three seem to have blurred into one.
All in all, a good addition to the collection of any Firefly/Serenity fan, but they don't stand alone too well if you're not already a fan. They fill in the gaps nicely, but I was expecting a little more of these - especially the Shepherd's tale.

Continuation of the previous Pemberton books - a continued look at the state of the NHS, and hospitals today. It feels like this one is catching up more with the state of things as they are now - not that these were ever talking about the dim and distant past - but the relevance is clearer. Certainly worth a read.

Don't Split the Party - Rich Burlew
Compilation of OOTS comics. Hilarious, iconicly drawn strip, where the scale of the story and the depth of the characters go far and above and beyond their stick-figure avatars. Don't Split the party is the latest compilation from the actual story-line, and the most complex and in-depth so far. Brilliantly well done series, well worth re-reading.

The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde
The first in Fforde's series of Nursery Crimes novels. Very funny, very clever, a favourite and a joy to read.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

2011 Round Up - Part 2

Ok, so, here's some stats for those who care...

Total Books Read: 87
Number of New Books Read: 45
Number re-reads: 42
(% RR: 48%)(All % are to nearest whole %)

Breakdown By Months

Most books read in a month: August and January = 16
(% RR: August 9/16 = 56% January 10/16 = 62.5%)

Least Books read in a month: December = 2
(% RR: 0%)

Months in order of number of Books read:

January / August = 16
March = 14
June / September = 7
February / July = 6
October = 4
April / May / November = 3
December = 2

Most New Books Read in a Month: August = 7

Months in order of number of New Books Read:

August = 7
January = 6
March / July / September = 5
February = 4
October / November = 3
April / June / December = 2
May = 0

Month with highest % New Books Read: November / December = 100%
Month with Lowest % New Books Read: May = 0%

Months in order of % New Books Read:

November / December : 100%
July = 83%
October = 75%
September = 71%
February / April = 67%
August = 44%
January = 37.5%
March = 36%
June = 29%
May = 0%

Average (mean) number of books Per Month: 7
Average (mean) number of New Books Per Month: 4

Breakdown by Genre

Number of Novels : 47 (25 N, 22 RR)
(% of Total : 54%) (% Total New: 56%)

Number of Graphic Novels / Comics : 31 (12 N, 19 RR)
(% of Total : 36%) (% Total New: 27%)

Number of Non Fiction : 7 (7 N, 0 RR)
(% of Total : 8%) (% Total New: 16%)

Number of Poetry : 2 (1 N, 1 RR)
(% of Total : 2%) (% Total New: 2%)

Breakdown By Authors

Number of books read per author (of which are re-reads)

Multi-Authored Books

Birds of Prey - 11 (9)
Girl Genius - 10 (9)
Buffy Series 8 - 3 (1)
Serenity - 3
Wonder Woman - 2

Single Authored Books

J.K Rowling - 7 (7)
Jasper Fforde - 6 (5)
Naomi Novik - 6 (5)
Agatha Christie - 5
Gail Carriger - 4
Phillipa Gregory -3 (2)
Garth Nix - 3
Max Pemberton - 3
Terry Pratchett - 3 (2)
Rich Burlew - 2 (1)
Scarlett Thomas - 2

And all with one book each:
Clive Barker, Alex Boese, Jim Butcher, Wendy Cope, Cordelia Fine, Neil Gaiman, Ben Goldacre, Francis Hardinge, Luke Kennard, Gregory Maguire, Hillary Mantel, Baroness Orczy, Sarah Waters and Gabriel Weston.

Right now, because I'm a very visual kind of person, I'm thinking about making some huge pie charts... but that, like any sort of analysis of these figures, will have to wait for another time. When I am less tired. And can do maths again.
I hope, if anyone's stuck around and is still reading this, that you enjoyed my little experiment! I hope some of you will be pleased to hear that I will get round to filling in the review part of the missing months (September - December), and I have decided that the experiment will be continuing into 2012! It'll be interesting to see if things change this year, if my habits get worse or better, or stay the same, and it's possible my Significant Other will be also joining in keeping a list of what books he's reading this year too, which I will more than likely cross post to if possible.
Anyway, hope your 2011 was fun and book-filled, and that 2012 will be likewise!

2011 Round up - Part 1

Ok, so I've fallen off with the reviews since August - I will be posting a catch-up, and hopefully later this week, but for now I'm going to do a quick zip through this year's reading trends and see if there's anything interesting that comes up...

Let's start with a full list of everything I've read...
Re-reads are in italics.

Harry Potter
Going Postal
Bad Science
Making Money
Trust me I'm a (Junior) doctor
Pop Co
Where Does it Hurt?
Red Queen
White Queen

Delusions of Gender
The Other Boleyn Girl
Elephants on Acid
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
The Little Stranger

Sparkling Cyanide
Towards Zero
The Hollow
Planet Shaped Horse
The 13 Problems
Girl Genius 1-9

Ordeal by Innocence
The End of My Y
Anansi Boys

First Among Sequels
Empire of Jade

Black Powder War
Empire of Ivory
Victory of Eagles
Tongues of Serpents
One of Our Thursdays is Missing
The Eyre Affair
Lost in a Good Book

Buffy Season 8 - Retreat (6)
Buffy Season 8 - Twilight (7)
Buffy Season 8 - Last Gleaming (8)
I will Repay
The Hiketeia
Oracle- The Cure

Sensei and Student
Perfect Pitch
Blood and Circuits
Dead of Winter
Metropolis or Dust
Club Kids
Platinum Flats
Black Canary / Oracle / Huntress
Snips, Snails and Dragontales
Serious Concerns
The Battle Within


Wonder Woman - Oddesy
Serenity - Those Left Behind
Serenity - The Shepherd's Tale
Serenity - Better Days
The Doctor Will See You Now
Don't Split the Party
The Big Over Easy


The Fourth Bear
Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse (Girl Genius 10)


Storm Front


Fly By Night