Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading list 2014

OK, lets get the obvious out of the way ASAP: yes, I've been a rubbish blogger this year for the simple fact that I've not blogged. At all. Oops.

*sheepish grin*

Let's just say it's been an interesting year.

So the last post I wrote was my reading list for 2013, which I would post a link to but seeing as I haven't written anything in the last 12 months all you need to do is scroll down if you're interested in taking a look at it.

But look here! I'm back! With a list of all the books I've read in 2014, and by gum there's loads, which suggests I've done nothing but read this year (I assure you, that is so far from the truth it would make your head spin). As usual, I'm grading from A+ for books I want to love and hug and do naughty things with, to D- and beyond for books I promise I'll arrange a second date with but then 'accidentally' miss their calls and never text them back. So without further ado…

01. The Complete Peanuts 1987-1988 by Charles Schultz - Another two year's worth of this comics masterpiece. Brilliant: A

02. Maria M: Book One by Gilbert Hernandez - The latest in Beto's novelisations of fictional films mentioned in his Love and Rockets stories sees the eponymous title character escaping her past by marrying a drug lord. I never feel these books quite reach Beto's usual high standards, but they're alway fun and quick reads: B+

03. The Complete Peanuts 1989-1990 by Charles Schultz - The latest volume of Peanuts strips enters the final decade of daily fun for Charlie Brown and the gang: A

04. Alien: Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon - A new 'official' novel set between the events of the movies Alien and Aliens. The premise of Ripley being woken up, having a new adventure and then conveniently forgetting everything by the time we see her at the beginning of Aliens is a nothing less than a massive cliche, but that aside this was a reasonably entertaining and brisk read: B-

05. Adventure Time: Righteous Rules for Being Awesome by Jake Black - A fun read that's hard to grade because there's so little to it, but it scores a decent rating simply for the fact the voices of the characters carry across to its pages so well: B

06. The Blue Devils of Blue River Avenue by Poe Ballantine (Kindle) - A wonderful collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors. Ballantine's writing is by turns funny, touching, heart-wrenching and haunting, and never less than brilliant: A

07. The Free by Willy Vlautin (Kindle) - The latest novel from one of my favourite authors follows a cast of characters whose lives are entwined through misfortune - a comatose soldier, a hospital nurse, and a night watchman from the home where the soldier was living. While not as remarkable as Vlautin's last novel, Lean on Pete, The Free is still a worthy, heartwrenching read: A

08. Star Trek: No Time Like the Past by Greg Cox (Kindle) - An original series era Star Trek novel that unites Captain James T. Kirk with Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine. An interesting premise, and for the most part an enjoyable read, though I did feel it occasionally got bogged down in providing knowing winks for Star Trek continuity junkies: B-

09. Star Trek: The Lost Era - Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III (Kindle) - Set in the years between the end of the original series era and the beginning of The Next Generation, this novel fills in one of the most important gaps in Star Trek's history of the future, The Tomed Incident, which in Trek lore was the moment that saw the Romulans withdraw from the Galactic community. Despite being full of characters I was unfamiliar with (and which I believe were introduced in earlier novels) It's a good, solid read that I enjoyed quite a lot: B+

10. Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman (Kindle) - Thoroughly enjoyable Batman prose novel that has the Dark Knight investigating a mystery that delves back into his murdered father's past, and finally reveals just why Gotham city is full of so many bizarre villains: A

11. Walking London by Andrew Duncan - Wonderful book detailing 30 scenic walks around the capital, revealing not only how to get around the city, but also interesting historical facts about each different location. An informative and cracking read: A

12. Fatima: The Blood Spinners by Gilbert Hernandez - Beto's take on the zombie genre is a blood-spattered tale of a young woman working to eliminate the undead victims of a drug called Spin. Maybe not to the high standards of his Love and Rockets work, but fun nevertheless: B+

13. The Joker: Death of the Family - Collected edition of the comic book storyline that saw Batman's nemesis return to Gotham City after a year's absence and quickly setting about tearing apart the Dark Knight's extended family. An interesting idea, but I felt the individual issues' worth of stories didn't particularly hang together terribly well: B-

14. The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez - Simply awesome graphic novel that delves deep into the love life and childhood of Hernandez's Maggie Chascarillo character. Heartbreaking, shocking, brilliantly told and beautifully illustrated; one of my very favourite graphic novels: A+

15. & Sons by David Gilbert - An ageing author's sons return home to meet the illegitimate child that ended his marriage 17 years earlier. An underwhelming read; some lovely moments, but for the most part I found it moved without direction or any real focus: C

16. Star Trek: Seasons of Light and Darkness by Michael A. Martin (Kindle) - A short ebook focusing on Dr. McCoy's mission to the planet Capella years before the original series, and bookended by scenes from the movie Star Trek II. It's a quick and easy read, and not a necessarily memorable one, and I didn't really feel the connection between McCoy's story and its relevance to the moments from The Wrath of Khan: B-

17. Star Trek Vanguard: Precipice by David Mack (Kindle) - Book 5 in the Vanguard series, and another solid read from one of Star Trek's finest authors: B+

18. Star Trek Vanguard: What Judgments Come by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore (Kindle) - The sixth and penultimate book in the Vanguard saga sees former commodore Diego Reyes relating the story of his time in Klingon and Orion hands as the series begins to soar towards its conclusion. A good, quick read: B+

19. Star Trek Vanguard: Storming Heaven by David Mack (Kindle) - The seventh and final book of this gritty Star Trek novel series brings the story of Starbase 47 to a close. For the most part it's a fitting conclusion that is both well-written and engaging, but not the best book in the series: B+

20. Star Trek Volume 7: The Khitomer Conflict - The latest collection of the new movie universe comic books sees the crew of the Enterprise drawn into a conflict between the Klingons and the Romulans that is sparked by Starfleet's covert Section 31 intelligence agency: B+

21. Star Trek: Khan - A graphic novel collection telling the story of Khan Noonien Singh's origins and rise to power on 20th century Earth, and his reawakening in the 23rd century prior to the events of the movie Star Trek into Darkness: B+

22. It by Stephen King (Kindle) - A 1400 page monster of a book, and an entertaining, if overly and somewhat unnecessarily long read. For the most part I enjoyed It, but I didn't really feel the story really began to get going until the final 400 pages, and truth be told, I didn't find it at all scary: B-

23. Star Trek Vanguard: Declassified (Kindle) - A collection of four novellas revealing untold moments in the saga of Starbase 47. For the most part an enjoyable collection of stories that expand upon events and characters from Vanguard, and particularly as a result of the loss of a major character in the final story, an essential read for fans of the series: B

24. Star Trek Vanguard: In Tempest's Wake by Dayton Ward (Kindle) - An enjoyable novella that rounds out the Vanguard saga, reviewing various events from the series from the perspective of Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise. By no means essential, but it's a brisk read and worth it for completists: B-

25. Closure, Limited by Max Brooks (Kindle) - A sadly underwhelming collection of four short stories set in Brooks' World War Z universe, one of which inexplicably and somewhat unnecessarily introduces vampires to the fold. Disappointing: C

26. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (Kindle) - The story of the relationships between old friends in a small American town. Told in the form of vignettes from the different perspectives of the main characters, this was an enjoyable enough novel, but one that didn't blow my mind: B-

27. Star Trek: Dreams of the Raven by Carter Carmen (Kindle) - Cracking old Star Trek novel that sees a crippled Enterprise trying to unravel the mystery of a race of aggressive aliens, while Dr. McCoy suffers amnesia as the result of a head injury. Expectations were relatively low for this novel, but it proved to be a fun, fast-paced and enjoyable read: B+

28. Star Trek: Assignment: Eternity by Greg Cox (Kindle) - An intriguing premise sees the return of Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln from the TOS episode Assignment: Earth in an attempt to thwart a Romulan plot to assassinate Spock. While the premise was interesting, the execution proved less so, and I found this to be an average novel that failed to grip me: C+

29. Star Trek: Debt of Honor by Chris Claremont - A reread of a graphic novel I bought many years ago that sees Captain Kirk and his crew team up with Klingon and Romulan forces to destroy an alien species that threatens all life in the Galaxy. A good story, very well illustrated: B+

30. Star Trek Seekers 1: Second Nature by David Mack (Kindle) - The start of a new series of novels that picks up where Star Trek Vanguard left off. This first book focuses on the crew of the U.S.S. Sagittarius as they explore a distant world in the Taurus Reach that's home to a humanoid species who undergo a horrific transformation when they reach adulthood. Throw some Klingons into the mix and you have a book that is riveting to read, well written, and surprisingly humourous in places. The second book in the series has much to live up to: A

31. The Fuck-up By Arthur Nersesian (Kindle) - Amusing cult novel following the exploits of a 23 year old man in New York City as his life slowly falls apart in front of him. A fun read: B+

32. The Drive by Tyler Keevil (Kindle) - Brilliant novel following the exploits of a young man named Trevor who sets out on an increasingly more surreal, drink-fuelled road trip after splitting up with his girlfriend. Loved this: A

33. Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley - The first book from the creator of the Scott Pilgrim series is an enjoyable read focusing on a young girl joining some friends on a road trip, while trying to relocate her lost soul along the way. An enjoyable read, and this tenth anniversary edition is beautifully put together: B+

34. Fireball by Tyler Keevil - Wonderful story of four teenage friends initially hailed as heroes after saving an old woman from drowning before the events of a long hot summer eventually lead to one of them dying in a stolen police car. An exceptional novel: A+

35. Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley - Wonderful graphic novel telling the tale of a twentysomething chef called Katie who discovers a way to correct the perceived mistakes of her past, not realising the damage she's doing in the process. Great story, beautifully illustrated, and a nice chunky little book: A

36. Burrard Inlet by Tyler Keevil (Kindle) - Fantastic collection of short stories by one of my new favourite authors: A

37. Star Trek Seekers 2: Point of Divergence by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore (Kindle) - Picking up straight off from where the first book in this new Star Trek novel series left off, this book finds the crew of the U.S.S. Endeavour trying to contain the threat of the evolved people of a planet in the Taurus Reach. A cracking story, but one that falls a little short of the first part: B+

38. Alien: Sea of Sorrows by James A. Moore (Kindle) - Second instalment in the new trilogy of Alien novels sees one of Ellen Ripley's descendants blackmailed into taking part in a mission to the planet that featured in the previous book, Out of the Shadows, in an attempt to help Weyland Yutani procure samples of the deadly xenomorphs. Entertaining enough, but the plot felt a little laboured and padded out in places: C+

39. Cheeky Swimsuits of 1957 by C.D. Payne (Kindle) - the latest novel from the author of the hilarious Youth in Revolt books is the tale of a young man in the 1950s sent to the west coast by his father to run his late uncle's swimsuit business. As usual for Payne's books, the novel is packed full of risque humour and innuendo, and while amusing throughout, the overall story feels stretched a little too thinly. Fun, but not among the author's best work: B-

40. The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu - Beautifully told, somewhat Tim Burton-esque fairy tale about, as the title suggests, a boy with a cuckoo clock heart who leaves his home in Edinburgh to pursue his love for a young girl across Europe. I loved this: A

41. Helen of Pepper Pike by C.D. Payne (Kindle) - A rather different sort of novel from one of my favourite authors. Payne's trademark bawdry humour is rather toned down in this tale of a middle-aged woman whose life takes an unexpected turn when she attempts to track down the author of a series of 1950s young adult novels: B+

42. Brenda the Great by C.D. Payne (Kindle) - Payne turns his attention to the shenanigans of an overweight teenage girl in a strict private school in this amusing but somewhat directionless tale. Not among the author's best work - I can't help but feel that Payne is searching too hard for a successor to his wonderful Nick Twisp character - but it's a fun read, and even when not at his best, he's still a wonderful writer with a distinctive tone: B

43. Saga (Vol. 2) by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples - Picking up directly where the first volume left off, Vaughan's epic tale follows two lovers from opposite sides of an intergalactic war as they try to escape the conflict and find a place for them and their baby daughter. Brilliantly written and beautifully illustrated - I'm rather enjoying this series: B+

44. Loverboys by Gilbert Hernandez - A new graphic novel from the most prolific of the Hernandez brothers follows the romantic exploits of a young man torn between older and younger women. Maybe not Beto's strongest work, but his books are always wonderful reads: B+ • Bumperhead by Gilbert Hernandez - Another new book from one of the best graphic storytellers working today. Bumperhead follows various stages in an angry young man's life as he tries to find his place in the world: B+

45. Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks - An enjoyable graphic novel about a girl who has been home-schooled going to high school for the first time, while dealing with a ghost who has been haunting her. Good fun: B+

46. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs, art by Cassandra Jean - Wonderful story of an American boy who discovers the tall tales his grandfather told him as a boy weren't quite as fantastical as he originally thought, leading him to an island off the coast of Wales, and a house that is home to some rather special children. Brilliantly written and beautifully illustrated - I loved this graphic novel edition of Riggs' acclaimed novel so much that it makes me want to read the original prose version: A

47. The Seven Per Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer - Fantastic Sherlock Holmes story from the writer and director of Star Trek II. Meyer's first tale featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyles celebrated detective sees Watson leading his friend to Vienna where he calls upon the skills of Sigmund Freud to help Holmes break his addiction to cocaine, before subsequently helping to track down a missing heiress. Masterfully written, this book rattles along at a superb pace. An absolute joy: A

48. Doctor Who: Spore by Alex Scarrow (Kindle) - A quick and breezy read from one of my favourite authors, with an interesting enough premise that it could, quite frankly, have have sustained a far longer page count. Enjoyable: B+

49. Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Vol. 9 by Robert Kirkwood; art by Ryan Ottley - The ninth volume in this large format collection of what I consider the best superhero comic around is a great read, although, like the previous volume in the series, possibly not quite up to the lofty standards of earlier books: B

50. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks - Cracking little graphic novel about a group of robot building high school nerds who join forces with the cheerleading team to enter a robot war contest. Beautifully illustrated and a lot of fun: B+

There we go. Fifty books on the head, which equals what I read last year. How's that for nerdy synergy? Anyway, who knows if I'll write anything here in the next 12 months, whether you'll have to wait another 365 days for another thrilling instalment, or whether anyone actually cares any more, but as I usually do here, I'll sign off by wishing you all (if one accidental link click constitutes an 'all'!) a Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Inexplicable DeVice said...


Oh, I see. Most of them were picture books...

Heh. Anyway, another good year book-wise. My favourite title has to be The Love Bunglers - I'm not going to read it as it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations now.

Another favourite is Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, but only because I thought your description said it was about a group of robots building high school nerds...


P.S. I'll let you know next time we head over the Cusp so you have enough notice to put clean undercrackers on!