A complete list of books read in 2014. Continue reading
Wait, what month is it? Eep!
- Olivia’s Winter Wonderland – Lyn Gardner. Having read so many of these in a row, their shine began to wear off. They’re fun reads, and I think that kids of the right age would really enjoy them, but… meh. Olivia starts out as the black sheep, someone who doesn’t fit in, and turns in to the most special snowflake who ever snowflaked, which became a bit tiring.
- Olivia and the Great Escape – Lyn Gardner. See above.
- Olivia’s Curtain Call – Lyn Gardener. See above.
- Three Shadows – Cyril Pedrosa. Picked this up at random and really enjoyed it. The artwork was unique and eye-catching and the story was enveloping, if that makes sense. I’m assuming that it was a retelling of a fable, but it still felt original.
- The Fair Miss Fortune – D.E. Stevenson. So charming. I’ve only read three D.E. Stevenson books so far, but god, they’re just so charming! The only thing that annoyed me was that the book blurb gave away the twist of the storyline, making it slightly less comic than it should have been. Recommended for fans of Georgette Heyer.
- The Children Who Lived in a Barn – Eleanor Graham. I enjoyed this book – quite a lot actually – but holy shit it was mental. Basically, a group of siblings are left alone whilst their parents fly off to deal with a sick relative (because the mother, as a grown woman, couldn’t possibly travel by herself), only their parents end up missing and they haven’t paid the rent on their house, so the kids go live in a barn. As a modern reader, you basically spend the whole thing going ‘what the fuck?!’ even while you’re enjoying it!
- Emily Dennistoun – D.E. Stevenson. Emily Dennistoun is possibly one of my favourite central characters in a novel. She’s so strong-willed and yet so self-sacrificing (in a way that didn’t make me want to kill her) and yet so determined to be who she is in whatever circumstances she might find herself. There’s a romance in this, and it’s an excellent romance, but the main attraction is Emily herself, and the daily battle that she wages to be who she is.
- Cheerful Weather for the Wedding – Julia Strachey. Loved this! A bride prepares for her ceremony and basically gets drunk, much to the consternation of those around her. Wry in all the best ways.
- The Children of Green Knowe – Lucy M. Boston. I read so many books like this when I was a child that I’m not sure how I missed this one. Wonderfully magical and charmingly cosy.
- Night School – C.J. Daugherty. So… I’m not sure that I get this book. I picked it up because it was a modern boarding school story, and then was puzzled. Initially because the Britishisms seemed off for a story set in Britain and then because, well, what the fuck was going on?
- Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Volume 1 – David Peterson et al. Patchy, but super cute.
- Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Volume 2 – David Peterson et al. See above.
- Prophet, Vol 1: Remission – Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple & Giannis Milogiannis. I wanted to like this but it just struck me as complete nonsense that thought it was much more intelligent than it actually was.
- Storm – Eric Jerome Dickey, David Yardin & Lan Medina. ARGH! I didn’t exactly hate this, but I really fucking disliked it. Storm is awesome, people, really fucking awesome. Why do writers keep trying to make her less awesome? ‘Oh, that boy is so handsome and I like him so much!!!’ I know that that’s an acceptable storyline in a lot of ways, but I cringed to see it applied to the glory that is Ororo Monroe.
- Clone, Volume 1: First Generation – David Schulner, Juan Jose Ryp & Felix Serrano. I went in to this not expecting much and ended up really enjoying it. It does what it says in the title and is the story of a guy realising he’s a clone. It managed to side-step a lot of cliches associated with clones, and ended up being quite a decent read.
- Clone, Volume 2: Second Generation – David Schulner, Juan Jose Ryp & Felix Serrano. See above but with a love-twist that’s not completely ridiculous – yay!
- Lazarus, Volume 1: Family – Greg Rucka, Michael Lark & Santi Arcas. Do you read comics? Do you believe that female characters can be awesome? Read this. Right now. Just go and get the fecking thing and read it. I’ve been a fan of Greg Rucka since I read Queen and Country and this did not disappoint. In a weird and sadly believable future, Forever is the protector of her family, having been trained from a young age to act as their ‘blade’, but are her family all they seem to be? Hell, no. Yay!
- Lazarus, Volume 2: Lift – Greg Rucka, Michael Lark & Santi Arcas. See above.
- 47 Ronin – Mike Richardson & Stan Sakai. I had high hopes for this, but it ended up being a bit dull really. I’m sure the original Japanese story is awesome, but this was quite a weak retelling.
- Murder Most Unladylike – Robin Stevens. This first popped up on my radar courtesy of Did You Ever Stop to Think and Forget to Start Again? and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it ever since. Happily, it lived up to all my expectations being a supremely enjoyable, GO-style romp, with a delicious modern twist (in that boarding school is not all sunshine and roses, but that doesn’t mean that it’s awful either) and we all know that I love those. I’m delighted to see that there are at least two more books on the way as Hazel and Daisy deserve so much more time in the limelight.
- Deadpool, Volume 2: We Don’t Need Another Hero – Joe Kelly et al. Oh, Deadpool, you really are a breath of fresh and mental air in the Marvel universe. With bonus Siryn!
- Wolverine: Election Day – Peter David. This was wholly unremarkable, which was a bit disappointing because, well, Peter David is better than that.
- War of Kings – Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Paul Pelletier. Nonsense. Not bad nonsense, per se, but nonsense nonetheless.
- Good Evening, Mrs. Craven – Mollie Panter-Downes. I really enjoyed this collection of World War II-set short-stories. Painter-Downes has a light and wry tone, one which got progressively darker as the collection, and the war, went on.
I don’t understand how it can possibly be September 25th. How has that happened? What on earth have I been doing for the last couple of months, because nothing in particular springs to mind. I suppose I should just console myself with the thought that whatever I’ve been doing, I have at least been reading.
- Blood Magic – Tessa Gratton. This had potential but unfortunately, it never quite managed to do anything with that potential. The blood magic of the title was really interestingly drawn – messy, dangerous and not something to deal with lightly – but the plot and the characters ventured into ridiculous a lot more than I would have liked. Disappointing.
- Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire. I picked this one up after reading the Scottish Book Trust’s 6 Great Graphic Novels for the Comics Virgin (which is not the best list of introductory comics, in my opinion) and really enjoyed it. It’s both a touching exploration of what it means to be a father, and a spooky, horror-driven read.
- Citizen Firefighter – Kenny Hunter & Strathclyde Fire Brigade. Citizen Firefighter is a statue that stands outside Glasgow’s Central Station. When I first arrived in the city, it struck me as some sort of post-apocalyptic warning. It’s actually a commemoration of those who serve and have served with the Strathclyde Fire Brigade, which is slightly more mundane but quite a bit more inspirational. Recently, after the tragic fire at the Glasgow School of Art, Citizen Firefighter wore a touching placard, thanking the fire brigade for the work they did in saving much of the building from destruction. This book is the story of the statue’s creation and was quite an enjoyable wee read.
- Dear Mr Bigelow – Frances Woodsford. I picked this up at random from work and ended up really enjoying it. Writing to a friends’ father in America, Frances Woodsford’s letters shine a humorous light on life in England in the post-World War II period. She writes about everything from her job, to her interior decorating skills (or lack thereof), to taking part in Cold War home front training, and her warmth keeps you turning the pages.
- The Dead Boy Detectives – Jill Thompson. So flipping cute! Like, seriously, unbelievably cute!
Hellblazer: Stations of the Cross – Mike Carey, Marcelo Frusin & Leonardo Manco. Still digging these, despite reading them out of order.
Uncanny X-Men: Love and Madness – Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr & Sal Buscema. These mini-reprint volumes are quite excellent. They cover a period of the X-Men that I’m not overly familiar with but really enjoy reading. Writing was so much more soap-opera-y back in these glory days, and this one covered some batshit crazy stuff with Colossus and Shadowcat (like, what the fuck, she’s 14 or something, and he’s crazy).
Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev – Andrey Kurkov. Definitely an interesting and informative read, but somehow an unsatisfying one. It’s hard to get a clear view of what exactly is happening in Ukraine right now, and this book did help to clear that up (absolutely shit stuff that the EU should be doing more about, basically), but it all felt like it was being told from a distance so I found it difficult to connect it was reality, even though it’s clearly non-fiction. I wonder if this was a problem with the translation?
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion. I’m still not a fan of the cover we got for this in the UK, but I did enjoy the book. If you’re looking for a light, comedic read, this is for you. There’s a sequel out soon, which I was surprised by. It’ll be interesting to see whether it detracts or adds to the original!
Deadpool, Volume 1: Dead Presidents – Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan & Tony Moore. You guys, this was awesome! So funny! And random! And very Deadpool-y. Yay!
X-Men: No More Humans – Mike Carey & Salvadore Larroca. While I enjoyed this quite a lot, I didn’t really see the point of it. It’s basically the flipside of the ‘No More Mutants’ storyline and while the writing and artwork are excellent, you can’t get that out of your head. I’d read it again, but I’d still be thinking ‘but why does this even exist?’ Conflicted!
X-Men, Volume 2: Muertas – Brian Wood, Terry Dodson & Kristafer Anka. I hope Brian Wood can continue to make this team so awesome, I really do, because this title is so much fun. The relationships between characters are definitely one of its strong points, though I still don’t get Marvel Girl as a character. She’s in everything and yet I just can’t warm to her. But Jubilee! And M! And women villains being awesome!
Zero, Volume 1: An Emergency – Ales Kot, Michael Walsh et al. This was another one that had potential that it never fully realised. Reminiscent of Queen and Country it gets bogged down in some male-testosterone-woman-in-refrigerator bullshit. I’m unlikely to look for the second volume.
The Stranded – Mike Carey, Siddharth Kotian. A bit blah, this one, which was disappointing because it was written by Mike Carey.
Uncanny X-Men – The New Age, Volume 2: The Cruelest Cut – Chris Claremont, Alan Davis & Andy Park. I love Sage. Why on earth is she so criminally underused?
X-Men: Fallen Angels – Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammil, Marie Severin & Joe Staton. This was so crazy, in a way that only comics from the 80s can be. There’s a giant dinosaur, and a street-wise pick-pocket with a heart of (sorta) gold. There’s a kid who has a psychic connection with a pair of lobsters, and there’s Roberto Dacosta having an emo breakdown. Amazing!
Secrets at St Jude’s: New Girl – Carmen Reid. This book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good. The characters were horrible little rich girls, even when the author tried to give them more depth, and the plot was… uninteresting. What really annoyed me about it though is that one of the girls is sexually assaulted at one point, and everyone – EVERYONE – writes the incident off as her fault. So incredibly not cool, and definitely not the right message to be sending to girls.
X-Men vs Hulk – Christos Gage et al. I have to say, this was surprisingly enjoyable. It featured a mix of modern and slightly older stories, and made me grin more than once.
Olivia Flies High – Lyn Gardner. For me, this didn’t live up to the first title in the series. It wasn’t a bad read, but I didn’t find the characters or situations as enjoyable as in the first.
Olivia and the Movie Stars – Lyn Gardner. See above.
Olivia’s Enchanted Summer – Lyn Gardner. See above.
Time is just flying by at the moment. I always plan to blog and never quite manage to get around to it, so I really need to get myself into some kind of routine. Work has been a bit of a nightmare lately, so I just go home, complain about it and go to bed instead of blogging to destress. Silly me! On the upside though, my commute to work has been giving me loads of time to read, so June was a busy month for books.
- Mister October, Volume 2 – Christopher Golden (ed.). I enjoyed this volume more than the first, perhaps because a lot of the stories were told in a more contemporary style. It’s not the type of book that I would reread, but it passed the time quite nicely.
- The Testimony – James Smythe. James Smythe is easily my favourite discovery of the year. I picked up The Machine not too long ago in the library because it had a good cover and an intriguing blurb, and loved it. Happily, The Testimony popped up on Amazon as a free download not long after, and it was equally enjoyable. All around the world, people hear a voice, and it tells them not to be afraid. The book is told from various points of view, and what made it memorable for me is that the ending is not really a resolution or explanation. Recommended!
- X-Men: Powerless – Tom Raney, Brett Booth, Steven Harris and Graham Nolan.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs. I’ve had this on my to-read list since it came out and finally managed to get a copy through the library. I was surprised that it was a YA novel, not having gotten that impression from the various reviews I’d read. I like YA though, so it wasn’t a problem. The combination of old photos and a supernatural was really entertaingly done, but I didn’t love the book as much as I’d expected – probably because I’d heard so much about it. That always raises standards to an almost unreachable level, I think. I’m looking forward to the sequel though because, despite not loving it, I did like it and that’s all you need sometimes.
- Astonishing X-Men: Monstrous – Daniel Way and Jason Pearson.
- Virago is 40: A Celebration – Various. A bit of a hit and miss anthology, but the hits made it worth the read. Plus, Virago is awesome.
- Ascent – Jed Mercurio and Wesley Robbins. This is another title that’s been on my to-read list for quite some time. I have the novel but haven’t quite gotten around to it. The graphic novel version was pretty solid, telling the story of a Russian pilot turned astronaut. I’m looking forward to the added detail in the novel, as the graphic novel story felt a bit sketched (ha!) at times.
- One Month to Live – Rick Remender, Stuart Moore, John Ostrander and Rob Williams. The basic idea of this has so much potential – a man gains super powers when he’s forced to ingest toxic waste, but as well as now being a bad ass, he also has terminal cancer. Unfortunately, the premise was drowned in a mawkish ‘cancer is just so sad’ vibe that was handled very clumsily.
- Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Volume 6 (Collected Volumes 12 &13) – Stuart Immonen, Steve Dillon, Tom Raney, Aaron Lopresti and Brian K Vaughan. One day I’ll read all of Ultimate X-Men in order, because there really is so much of it that I enjoy.
- The X-Files: Season 10, Volume 1 – Michael Walsh and Joe Harris. This was unexpectedly good. Sadly, the library doesn’t have the second volume so the mystery remains *insert theme music here*
- Emily the Strange: Rock, Death, Fake, Revenge and Alone – Rob Reger and Various. Every time I read an Emily graphic novel, I realise that I like the idea of her more than the execution, you know?
- The First X-Men – Christos Gage and Neal Adams. So, it’s not that this was bad – the story was decently told and illustrated – it’s just that it wasn’t necessary. At all.
- X-Men: Haunted – Brahm Revel and Cris Peter. Quite atmospheric, though it never fully reached the tone it was searching for. Certainly an enjoyably different way of telling an X-Men story.
- Skin Game – Jim Butcher. If I were to have come across this series from scratch now, I probably wouldn’t have bothered, just because it’s ongoing and so many supernatural/urban fantasy series fade away but keep flogging that dead horse long after they should. Happily, I first met Harry Dresden when there were only four books and I’ve been reading them ever since. And they’re awesome. The quality hasn’t faded at all and I always want to know what’s going to happen next.
- Deadpool: Secret Invasion – Daniel Way and Paco Medina. Such brilliant randomness. A really excellent volume.
- Olivia’s First Term – Lyn Gardner. I picked this up after reading a review over at Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again? and I’m glad I did because it was a really lovely modern school story. It’s the kind of book that First Term at L’Etoile by Holly and Kelly Willoughby failed so utterly miserably to be. Olivia’s First Term is set at a stage school, but these girls (and boys) aren’t obsessed with money, looks and fame in the same vapid way the girls in First Term at L’Etoile were. The author never talks down to us in Olivia’s First Term, and she never leaves us with the message that money is the best thing anyone can ever have. I’ll definitely be reading more of these.
- Alice-Miranda at School – Jacqueline Harvey. I picked this up at random, and good lord it was so, so charming! Alice-Miranda is a scamp of the highest order and her adventures at school are told very firmly tounge-in-cheek, in a way that makes you absolutely love her. Definitely recommended to lovers of the school story genre.
- Shiverton Hall – Emerald Fennell. I quite liked the mix of boarding school and horror genres in this one. The horror element was genuinely creepy, and I just might look out the sequel.
- The Explorer – James Smythe. Everything in the blurb of this – the crew of a ship on a mission to uncharted space, die one by one until only a single member remains – happened in the first 50 pages of this book, leaving me compulsively turning pages to see what was going to happen. I loved that the blurb worked in tandem with the story, serving as more than just a general summary, and I loved the tension of the storyline itself. Definitely recommended!