February & March 2017

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I know these updates are supposed to be monthly, but you’ll have to forgive my radio silence since the end of January. I’d been waiting for an operation date since last June and it finally came through for Feb 23rd – suffice to say that preparation time and recovery time meant that any free time I hoped to have vanished. All went well and I’m well on the road to recovery now, but it’s been a combination of mega busy in the run up to the operation, then quiet and uncomfortable afterwards. I had expected to devour books as I recovered, but found that my concentration wasn’t up to it, so I’ve been gorging myself on films and games. Hopefully all is going to be back to normal soon!

Books Read
14 books read since the end of January, with eight of these read in February, and 6 in March:
2017-1414. The Hangman’s Daughter by Gavin Smith – I have a review half-written for this and I just need to finish it off before posting, but I enjoyed The Hangman’s Daughter quite a bit. Good fun with some great characters and action sequences.
2017-1515. Aliens: Rogue by Sandy Schofield – the first book collected in the third Aliens Omnibus, and not a bad tale despite some issues that seemed to crop up throughout the narrative. A review will be forthcoming once I finish writing it!
2017-1616. Miniatures by John Scalzi – some much needed light-hearted fun from John Scalzi in this collection. Highly recommended for some bite-sized fiction if you have find yourself with some spare minutes here and there.
2017-1717. The Green Mile by Stephen King – perhaps one of the best King novels I have read, and certainly one of the most emotional. The combination of time period and setting (1930’s death row in America) adds so much meat to a novel that is already packed with content. Great stuff.
2017-1818. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – a re-read of this one for me as I want to try and proceed with the series after stalling with the sequel many years ago. I enjoyed it just as much this time as the first time, and sincerely hope I can keep my interest invested enough to continue with the series.
2017-1919. Kantovan Vault by Joel Shepherd – a great third entry in Shepherd’s Space Opera series. This time with join the crew as they plan a theft of one of the most heavily guarded vaults in the galaxy. I’m loving this series and sincerely hope the next instalment comes soon.
2017-2020. Fallen Dragon by Peter F Hamilton – not only one of my favourite books by Hamilton, but one of my favourite books, period. I really can’t praise this book enough, but if you have a read of my review it might give you some idea why.
2017-2121. Aliens: Labyrinth by S. D. Perry – the second title in the third Aliens Omnibus. I wasn’t a fan of this one at all and I was disappointed in the novel, but will try and get my thoughts more fully developed in my review.
2017-2222. Gridlinked by Neal Asher – Asher’s first Cormac novel, and what a blast it was to revisit it and start this whole saga from the beginning. I’m re-writing my reviews for these books after re-reading them, so keep an eye out.
2017-2323. The Line of Polity by Neal Asher – the second Cormac novel, and better than I remember given the religion aspect of the story. Again, re-writing my review for this one where I hope to get my thoughts across a little better!
2017-2524. Brass Man by Neal Asher – the third Cormac novel, and focusing on a fan favourite: Mr Crane. Loved this one on the re-read, and just need to polish up my review of it for re-posting soon.
2017-2425. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch – I managed to make my way through this one on my second attempt, though it was touch and go for a while. I found that it tried to do a lot, yet wasn’t as complete a novel as I’d hoped. The disjointed nature of it is the reason I put it down so long ago, and the reason why I nearly did the same this time. I’m interested to see where the story goes from here so I’ll definitely be picking up the third book.
2017-2626. Alone by Scott Sigler – the finale to Sigler’s Generations trilogy, and a good conclusion despite some minor issues I had with it. The ending also leaves the universe open to more stories, and I do hope Sigler returns here.
2017-2727. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi – I was looking forward to this and had hoped it would be a great new Space Opera series to enjoy, but I was somewhat let down. I had some issues with the general dependency premise, and the characters were all similar in their sarcastic smart-mouthed way. I did enjoy it, yet couldn’t look past these few things.

Reviews Posted
No reviews in February or March (for previously mentioned reasons), though I do have a handful from the above reads that I’m working on.

Movies Watched
Many more films watched over the past couple of months due to being laid up for almost three weeks:
The Girl with All the Gifts – an excellent film that is not only a good adaption of the book, but a future classic zombie movie.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – not as good as the first film, but it passed a couple of hours with some decent action.
The Magnificent Seven – I’m not a western fan, but this was very good.
Prometheus – I keep on going back to this hoping my opinion will change, but I still don’t like it.
Jurassic World – another one I watched to pass the time, and I did enjoy it just as much the second time.
Assassin’s Creed – not sure about this. On one hand it’s got some interesting ideas, but on the other it doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve never played the games either…
The Green Mile – a great film, and wonderful adaption of King’s novel.
K-PAX – I remember watching this years ago so wanted to revisit it while I had some time, and it was really interesting. Well-acted with a story that really does make you question much of the premise.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – I watched this simply for the sake of completion. Not good.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – I was expecting this to disappoint after what I’d heard about it, but it actually did exactly what I hoped and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Alien – I love this film.
Aliens – in my opinion, better than the original and my favourite film of all time.
Species: The Awakening – not even sure why I watched this, and it barely kept my attention. The original will always be a classic!
Chef – really, really good fun. However, do not watch on an empty stomach, the food is amazing!
Coherence – a low-budget SF film that makes you think really hard about what is going on, yet makes you question everything until the credits roll. Highly recommended.
John Wick: Chapter 2 – not as good as the first, but still a great action film.

TV Shows Watched
A Series of Unfortunate Events (season 1) – I’ve never read these books so I came into this series with an open mind. I wouldn’t say it was great, but certainly enjoyable, though the first couple of episodes were definitely the best.
Billions (season 1) – something different for me as I usually stick to SF&F in my TV watching, but this was very good. Always interesting and kept me wondering what would happen, and the characters were spot on. I’ll be back for season 2.
Daredevil (season 1 & 2) – I had the Marvel Netflix shows lined up for a while, but finally got to Daredevil. I have this thing about watching them in order so between these two season I did watch Jessica Jones (see below). Season 1 was very good with a decent story arc throughout, though perhaps a little slow at times. I do know that season 2 is supposedly not as good, but I enjoyed it just as much. The introduction of Punisher and Elektra certainly helped widen the scope.
Jessica Jones (season 1) – after watching a couple of episodes I really wasn’t convinced that this was going to be as good as I’d heard, but I persevered, and I’m glad I did. The whole character dynamic was outstanding, and while Jones is a good lead, Killgrave and Cage added some good variety. Overall a great show.
Halt and Catch Fire (season 1) – another show not in my usual comfort zone, but it appealed to my inner geek with its early 80’s computer revolution setting. In all honesty it was good, but not great. The passage of time does make it somewhat disjointed, but overall – and if nothing else – it’s a good fictional look at the point in time. I’ll be back for season 2.

Games Played
Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness – I broke this out while laid up in bed and hammered through it in a couple of days. It’s an okay, if somewhat lacking, game, and it does make me hope that one day Nintendo will get its finger out and make the Pokemon game that every fan wants.
Borderlands – I jumped into next as it’s one of the few Steam games that would run on my laptop. I loved Borderlands when I first played it many years ago, and I loved it again now. This time I played through as Mordecai, completing the game then doing all the DLC. I then did the second playthrough, but stopped before hitting the DLC – I needed to move on to something else! So I picked up the sequel.
Borderlands 2 – I was well enough to sit at the computer by this point so could run Borderlands 2 at max settings, and I enjoyed every minute (again). Gaige is my character of choice, and I’ve been hammering through this. I’ve not yet finished the first playthrough, but only because another game came along to drag my attention away…
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I was in two minds about picking up this Zelda game, but when I saw the praise it was being given across the board I sucked it up and ordered it. I got the Wii U version as I’m not investing in a new console at present, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best games I’ve played, and certainly the best Nintendo game I’ve invested time in. In fact, this game alone made me glad I’d bought a Wii U – a decision I was regretting. I’m not far in and can see me playing this for a long time to come…

Other Stuff
Due to the operation there really isn’t much else to say. Weight is still not good, but I’m trying to make a real effort to change my diet and shift some of it, so fingers crossed. I’m also hoping to start exercising in some form soon.

Featured image from this month’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is by NASA, JPL-Caltech, SwRI, MSSS; – more details here.

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