Monthly Reads – April 2018

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April has been a different month reading-wise. On one hand, there’s been my ‘normal’ reading, and I’ve been ploughing through my recent ebook freebie, Golden Age,
by James Maxwell (which has been a good read so far), plus my usual X-Men comic (which brought the storyline, which began pretty much when I started reading them again, to a conclusion). On the other hand, I’ve been doing some rather more ‘practical’ reading….

I have come to realise that being stuck in the middle of rural Wales, with limited public transport options, is not conducive to finding work, travelling to job interviews (trains are effing expensive in this country!), or having a social life. So, with that in mind, I have decided to bite the bullet, learn to drive, and actually get a car.

I did take proper driving lessons many decades ago. I even got as far as taking (and passing) the theory test. Unfortunately, I never found myself in a position where I could a) afford a car, b) afford to run a car, and/or c) have some place to put said car if I did have one. Therefore, I never took the practical, despite my instructor telling me I was good to go.

However, I’ve now come to the realisation that in order to gain some semblance of independence, it’s a case of having to burn money to make money. Getting a car means getting a job. Getting a job means being able to afford my own place (even if it’s just a small rented flat someplace). Getting a flat means getting a cat (or 6!). Considering my mature age, I shouldn’t be living in the spare room of my mate’s house, and be reliant on him to drive me to the supermarket. The whole situation isn’t helping my confidence much either.

Somehow, I don’t think this learning-to-drive thing is going to be a breeze. I’m not a confident driver by any means; I struggle with gear-changing, and have the attention span of a gnat. To cover the former, I’m planning on learning to drive in, then purchasing, an automatic car, so I don’t have to worry about getting stymied by the gear stick (I don’t do gears!). The latter will hopefully improve with experience.

This has meant some extensive reading this month covering the highway code, traffic signs, plus the Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills, as I prep myself for getting behind the wheel again.

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Guess what make of car I want to get!

#DevAfter30 is one thing, #DrivingAfter30 is going to be something else entirely…!

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Monthly Reads – March 2018

20180315_112716.jpgDespite it being a busy month getting my novels prepped to turn them into paperbacks, and getting slightly addicted to playing the SIMS 4 Mobile, I managed to do some reading.

It took (literally) an entire month, but I eventually got through the coffee-table book Blue Planet II. It was a good read, certainly not the usual action-packed fiction fare I’m used to, but it was an interesting one nonetheless. As you may have guessed from the title, it covers the recent Blue Planet II TV series, and the book is full of glossy images of marine life, with short pieces on their intriguing behaviours.

There were new snippets of information provided too, at least I think they’re new, as I don’t remember hearing them being mentioned on the show. If that is the case, this book both compliments and expands on the aired shows, so it’s definitely worth getting if you were a fan of the series.

I wasn’t sure what I’d be reading next, but as it happened, I got my next Kindle freebie from IHG Rewards Club. Disappointingly, they hadn’t changed their book line-up, so I had to choose the fantasy novel I didn’t choose last time, namely Golden Age (The Shifting Tides Book 1) by James Maxwell. If the IHG Rewards Club is going to carry on sticking to the limited choice of books, come next time, I’ll either have to pick something out of my usual go-to genre, or give it a miss. Time will tell.

Anyway, the rest of the month has/will be me catching up on graphic novels and magazines. Yep, I’m one of these people who buys a magazine, flips through it, but never really reads the articles. So to save waste, I’m making sure I don’t leave them collecting dust on my floor. And once I’ve made a space, I can start on Golden Age.

Monthly Reads – January 2018

20180118_123659.jpgSo I managed to finish off Crimes Against Magic (Hellequin Chronicles, #1) just before the New Year, and I have to say, I enjoyed it immensely. The narrative switches between early fifteenth-century France and modern-day London as we learn about warlock Nathan Garrett’s past, as he tries to remember it in the present to save the lives of himself, and his friends, after a job he takes to steal a scientist’s laptop goes monumentally awry.

The story itself is full of action, is well written, and the characters are all fleshed out. The genre is urban fantasy, but even though it contains vampires, werewolves and gargoyles, they don’t seem at odds with the setting of today’s London.

Steve McHugh’s Hellequin Chronicles has quite a few more books to it, so I may well read more of them in the future. I hope there’s more on Thomas the werewolf, as out of all of the side characters, he seemed the most interesting to me.

That done, I worked on my comic and manga backlog. I’m still enjoying the Deathnote series, although L’s asides do leave me a little lost as he second guesses second guesses that second guess second guesses. But confusion aside, I’ll continue to buy instalments anytime I need to make up a free delivery on Amazon.

January now sees me doing a complete change of pace, thanks to one of the books I got for Xmas, namely ‘What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins
by Jonathan Balcombe. It’s all about intelligence and behaviour in fish, and why they’re not just dumb, unfeeling things only suitable for being overfished for the dinner table (vegan rant over). Interestingly, the author is on the advisory panel of one of the charities I volunteer for; The Aquarium Welfare Association. Given that it’s quite long, it’ll probably take me at least until the middle of next month to read, but just a couple of chapters in and I’m already enjoying it, so that bodes well.

Monthly Reads – September 2017

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So September was a bit of a cleanup month literary-wise. As much as I wanted to get stuck into I Robot, I had one book to finish, one I started reading several months ago, but put on hiatus to read other things; namely Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As I wasn’t needing the I Robot text until the second half of my robotics block, I figured I had time to finish off Harry Potter.

I’ve read all the Harry Potter novels before, but had begun re-reading them in the light of knowledge that having read them all before brings (i.e., being able to pick up on foreshadowing events and other little titbits). They’re standing the test of time, but dear gods I regularly want to give Harry a slap. He’s rather self-absorbed, and extremely slow on the uptake. Definitely not Ravenclaw material!

I think the reason I put this book down for so long is that I knew what was coming, i.e. the senseless death of Cedric (no spoiler alert! If you haven’t read the books or seen the movies yet it’s your fault for living under a stone!). It breaks my heart that a good-hearted Hufflepuff should meet his end like that. Thank you JK for the brutal feels! Still, I cracked on…. My chapter reading getting decidedly slower as I neared the inevitable betrayal. But I persevered and reached the end. But for now, I think I’ll leave the Order of the Phoenix for a while. I haven’t the strength to deal with Umbridge just yet.

Still, with The Goblet of Fire done and dusted, I can start cracking on (finally!) with I Robot.

Monthly Reads – June 2017

I’ve decided to put my re-read of Harry Potter on hiatus (I’m half way through the Goblet of Fire) and try something. What with seeing Ghost in the Shell a while back, and studying Information Computer Technology with the Open University, I had a hankering to try a Cyberpunk novel.

I’ve never read Cyberpunk before, so didn’t know where to start. Cue a lot of Googling of recommendations and reviews, after which, I decided that Post-Cyberpunk sounded like my kind of trope.

“Whereas cyberpunk is/was a Darker and Edgier riposte to older Science Fiction, intended to portray what might happen if we don’t all destroy ourselves, Post-Cyberpunk is intended to present a less pessimistic and more realistic vision.” tvtropes.org

Actually, Ghost in the Shell is considered Post-Cyberpunk(ish), so that helped affirm my choice. The TVTropes page also had a helpful list of media in this genre, and amongst the books was a title I’d seen elsewhere: Snow Crash.

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“The only relief from the sea of logos is within the well-guarded borders of the Burbclaves. Is it any wonder that most sane folks have forsaken the real world and chosen to live in the computer-generated universe of virtual reality? In a major city, the size of a dozen Manhattans, is a domain of pleasures limited only by the imagination. But now a strange new computer virus called Snow Crash is striking down hackers everywhere, leaving an unlikely young man as humankind’s last best hope.” Amazon

So this is what I’m reading this month. The main character’s name is Hiro Protagonist, which is as daft as you can get, but I’m trying to look past that. I’ve only managed to get a few chapters in so far, but I’m holding myself to reading a chapter a night before bed. It’s been quite entertaining in places so far, so I’m hoping for a good read. I’ll keep you posted as to what I thought of it.

Anyone out there read Snow Crash? If so, what did you think?

Novel Update

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Well, I have finally managed my first readthrough of my 3rd novel’s typescript, so now comes more typing. I’ve done a few edits here and there when time allowed, but with the reading part out the way, the process kicks up a notch as I focus all my attention on adding, subtracting, moving, and fretting over passages. It will be the first of around six re-writes, possibly more, but with each one becoming less a ‘slash and burn’ job, and more a ‘tweak here and there’ job.

Quite frankly, the whole editing business of writing sucks. You get to a point where you start hating the very thing you gave birth to, and begin second-guessing everything you’ve written. But for me, it sucks in a different way.

I like to read. I like adding to my reading goal list in Goodreads (didn’t do one this year, unsurprisingly). I like being able to show the world that yes, unlike President Trumpf, I read….and enjoy reading. I am a bookworm, loud and proud! Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to put that I’ve read my typescript for the umpteenth time. No, I may not be reading someone else’s novel, but I sure as hell #amreading.

Monthly Reads – May 2017

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To be honest, I find it hard to moment to read these days. I have my uni course, my novel editing, my volunteer work, and my fitness stuff, and it all eats into my time. This will be the first in, what I hope will be, a regular update on what I’ve been reading. And with any luck, it’ll galvanise me into reading more…. Even if that just means X-men comics.

So I’ve been on a bit of a Manga kick lately. I guess watching the Ghost in the Shell film piqued my interest again (and not just in Manga, but in Japanese culture in general, but that’s possibly a story for another day). I’ve watched anime before, but never read Manga, as I had no idea where to start, and I didn’t want to read something rubbish and be put off the genre. So I did a bit of digging, and the title that kept popping up was ‘Death Note’.

The general synopsis of the book is this:

Light Yagami, a genius high school student, discovers the “Death Note”, dropped on Earth by the Shinigami Ryuk out of boredom. The notebook allows the owner to kill anyone whose name is written in it, as long as the writer has seen the person’s face. Light plans to use the book to free the world from criminals, and then rule over it as a god. His killings catch the attention of Interpol, and the world-famous detective “L”. L creates a small task force from the local police (including Light’s detective father) to help discover who the killer is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse between Light and L.

Death Note started off as Manga, and has been made into an anime series, a live-action series, several live-action films, video games, and is now being bastardised for American audiences on Netflix. Considering the time spent by various quarters into adapting it into different media formats, I figured this was the one to go for. That, and I only ever found good reviews about it. Therefore, I went and bought the first volume and got to reading.

The ‘books’ are collections of several chapters, each originally printed as standalones, and serialised in a Manga magazine. Each volume contains about 12 of these chapters, and run out about 200 pages. The interesting thing about this series is that the layout of the books follows the original Japanese format, meaning that it’s set out back to front, to be read right to left. As someone who’s used to reading her comics the ‘normal’ western way, it was a bit disjointing at first, but after a few pages, I got into it. And the story itself? Well, I bought and read the first volume in late April. It’s now mid-May, and I’ve finished reading the second volume. So it’s pretty safe to say the story has me hooked. Looks like the Death Note series is going to be part of my monthly comic purchase, alongside my Essential X-Men, for a while, especially as there are 12 volumes to get through.

So if you’re looking to delve into Manga, and aren’t sure where to start, I can wholly recommend picking up Death Note.