A complete list of books read in 2014. Continue reading
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.
- The Echo – James Smythe. The sequel to The Explorer and just as awesome. If you’re looking for some new sci-fi, I really recommend it.
- Miss Buncle’s Book – D.E. Stevenson. I think Lianne over at caffeinatedlife.net directed my attention to this, and man am I glad that she did. It was a beautiful, slightly ridiculous, but never unbelievable, comedy of manners set in middle-England in the 20s. A definite pick-me-up type of book if anyone’s in need of that.
- Olivia – Dorothy Strachey. I picked this up after reading The Guardian‘s Top 10 Boarding School Stories (no Antonia Forest? Really now?!). To be honest, I found it disappointing. The style of writing didn’t really appeal to me and it seemed like a poor version of Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay, although as a fictionalised non-fiction it’s really not a fair comparison.
- Cat Among the Pigeons – Agatha Christie. This also made it into my to-be-read pile via The Guardian list and it was my first Agatha Christie! I quite enjoyed it, despite it’s ridiculousness and racism (god, so much casual racism), and I actually felt that the school bits were really well done (and quite amusing).
- The Emperor of Paris – C.S. Richardson. I think this was another book picked up thanks to Lianne and while I enjoyed the fairytale elements, the general style of narration failed to draw me in, unfortunately.
- The Chill – Jason Starr & Mick Bertilorenzi. I can’t express to you how awful this was. I’ve liked the other titles in this series, but The Chill managed to be offensive to catholics, the Irish and women. A big fat no to everyone involved in this.
- Mystery Men – David Liss & Patrick Zircher. This was interesting, though not wholly original, read following a loose group of people with super-powers in the 30s. And really, who can read that title and not think of the excellent 1999 movie.
- Bliss – Kathryn Littlewood. I picked this up at random at work and it was a surprisingly enjoyable wee kid’s book. Telling the story of a magical bakery, this book had a lot to stay about being special when you feel anything but.
- 84 Charing Cross – Helene Hanff. The non-fiction correspondence between an English bookseller and an American reader, this book was wonderful on so many levels. All the people involved are delightful, the humour is ever-present, and it shone light on post-World War 2 deprivations in Britain, which I found of particular interest.
- The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street – Helene Hanff. The sequel to 84 Charing Cross, this was in diary format rather than letter. Just as beautiful but oh so bittersweet in so many ways.
- Hellblazer: Staring at the Wall – Mike Carey, Marcelo Frusin & Doug Alexander Gregory. I’ve read Mike Carey’s run on Hellblazer horribly out of order, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it, thankfully.
- House of Mysteries: Love Stories for Dead People – Matthew Sturges, Luca Rossi & Jose Marzan Jr. An interesting horror-type comic. I would read another volume but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it, if you know what I mean.
- Wolverine & the X-Men, Volume 8 – Jason Aaron & Nick Bradshaw. I love when X-Men writers remember that the X-Men are based in a school and put that in the foreground, rather than hiding it away as a pesky detail. Jason Aaron’s run on this has been fantastic, and I’m sad to see it come to an end.
I moved towns recently, and I’ve barely been on my computer since. Living with someone curtails the time you have to waste on the internet, apparently. To put it mildly, I’m unimpressed 😉 Today marks the start of my online catching up, so let’s get to it.
Read in March:
- Bitter Greens – Kate Forsyth. I picked up this book after coming across it in a fairy tales for adults display at my local library, because who doesn’t like a good retelling of Rapunzel? The cover is beautiful, and the book was too. It wasn’t quite to my taste, as I found myself slogging through certain sections. The other bits though, were worth the slog.
- And Another Thing… – Eoin Colfer. I’ve been rereading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series sporadically over the last year so that I could pick this up and have it make sense. To be fair, it stands alone well, but it’s nice to find all those references back funny. The book itself was solid but not mind-blowing. Funny, but not quite Douglas Adams.
- The Isobel Journal – Isobel Harrop. I picked this up at random and quite enjoyed it. A quirky graphic novel for awkward teenagers (or former teenagers!) everywhere.
- Pirate Club: Brainwash Escape Victims – Derek Hunter. A reread. Telling the tale of a group of kids and the secret club they form, it was just as bonkers and fun the second time around.
- First Term at L’Etoile – Holly & Kelly Willoughby. Awful. Genuinely a terrible, terrible book. The narrator’s voice treats the reader like an idiot, which I always hate. Children don’t need to be talked down to. But worse than that was the skewed morals imparted by the book where being rich and pretty is always better than being genuinely talented, and the division between the two is reinforced on a daily basis. Haaaaaaaaaated it!
- Hazed – Mark Sable & Robbi Rodriguez. I bought this as part of a mystery bag of comics a few years ago, so wasn’t expecting much. Shows what I know. This is Heathers with plastic surgery. Caustic and cutting and very, very mental, and it all came together in quite an enjoyable way.
- Re-Gifters – Mike Carey, Sonny Lieu & Marc Hempel. Loved it! The Minx line may have had its problems, but it really did produce some quality material. The main character in this is just awesome and the kind of person I would love to see girls be inspired by, rather than the dreary popstars they tend to look to.
- Hoarder to Order – Sue Kay. Read this in preparation for the move and it was hilarious, though not deliberately. I’m not sure how helpful it was, but what can you do?
- My Vision For a New You – Steve Bell. Well, it’s Steve Bell. ‘Nuff said really. (I liked it, in case this is not clear. I’m a fan of Bell’s political cartoons and this was an excellent compilation.)
- Lovely, Dark and Deep – Amy McNamara. I won’t lie – had I known that one of the main characters in this had MS, I would not have picked it up. That’s an issue that hits just a little bit too close to home. I did, however, enjoy the book. Although it’s aimed at people in their late teens/early adulthoods and deals with depression and chronic illness, it never becomes one of those dreadful ‘issues’ books. The lead character is so, so flawed and yet you want to find out what happens to her. You want to see her move forward with her life. One of the things that I liked about it the most is that the ending isn’t really a resolution, something which rings much more true than wrapping all the plot points up in a neat little bow.
- Deadly Little Secret – Laurie Faria Stolarz. This book recycles quite a few of the most popular YA cliches, but it’s well written enough to rise above them. Not earth-shattering, but a fun, breezy read nonetheless.
Read in April:
- Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell. After reading a review over at Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again?, and seeing the nomination list for the Guardian Children’s Prize, I snatched this book up off the library shelves. Happily, it lived up to expectations, spinning a charming story that was a delight to read.
- The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black. I thought this was a fairly original spin on vampires and the teenage girls that love them, but then I’ve always had a soft spot for Holly Black’s work.
- Uncanny X-Men: Broken – Brian Michael Bendis, Frazier Irving & Chris Bachalo. Nice art, pretty good storyline.
- Raised By Wolves – Jennifer Lynn Barnes. A really interesting spin on werewolves in YA. I’ve always enjoyed books that delve into pack dynamics, and this book does that and then challenges them. Yay feminism!
- Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater. A reread. I had completely forgotten how mental the ‘cure’ was.
- Linger – Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve had this since it came out so it was about time that I read the fecking thing. Good, though not particularly original or memorable. Cole grated on me hugely at first but he grew on me.
- Forever – Maggie Stiefvater. See above.
- Every Day – David Levithan. The most ridiculous thing soured this book for me – there’s a blurb on there by Patrick Ness (I think), saying that Every Day is wholly original. Which is clearly bullshit. You can tell just from the back cover that it’s Quantum Leap for teens. Which, by the way, I have no problem with. I mean, it’s Quantum Leap for teens done really, really well and dealing with all sorts of interesting issues in interesting ways, but come the fuck on Patrick Ness.
Read in May:
- Delirium – Lauren Oliver. This was a pick based on random clicking over at Fantastic Fiction and I ended up quite liking it. In a future where love has been classified as a disease, a teenage girl fumbles her way to an awakening. The thing I enjoyed the most about the book was the ending which was sparse and beautiful and inspiring. What I didn’t know at the time, is that Delirium is the first part in a trilogy which disappoints me a little because it means that that wonderful ending will be hugely diluted.
- A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor. The third volume in The Chronicles of St Mary’s and just as much of a rip-roaring ride as the first two. To be honest, it’s not the most wonderfully written thing ever (though it’s far from the worst), but I just really enjoy these books. They’re fun, and those twists and turns keep me turning pages frantically.
- Mister October, Volume 1 – Christopher Golden (ed.). I’m not a huge horror reader. I read a lot of supernatural and urban fantasy, a lot of which strays into the horror arena, but I can’t really name any horror books or authors that I’ve really enjoyed off the top of my head. This collection had highs and lows but it kept me reading, so that’s always a good sign.
- 30 Days of Night: 30 Days ‘Til Death – David Lapham. Blood-coated fun. Not as creepy as the early stuff but still good.