I always look forward to January: new year, fresh start. It’s typically the month that I read lots of books while the dark nights continue to plague my energy and motivation. This January was no different, and I hope that some trends continue throughout 2017 while others die as the days get lighter and longer…
Thirteen books read last month, and quite a few of those were books I didn’t fit into 2016 but really wanted to read. I’m glad I did too, as there were some real corkers:
- Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers – this is the first book in the Indranan War series, and it’s one I’d hoped to get to sooner than this. Regardless, this was a book that really blew me away despite relatively few action sequences. The political intrigue, societal issues, and royal hierarchy/responsibilities was so thoroughly well done that I blasted through it. The next book is on my to-read list for sure.
- Alien Morning by Rick Wilber – another book I missed last year, and a good story despite the intermittent dealings with its main focus: first contact. A good narrator and some cool ideas for this near-future novel certainly made it a quick read, though let down by a rather underwhelming ending.
- Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel – comparisons to World War Z were aplenty when I picked this up, but it managed to rise above that and deliver not only a good story, but one that had such an interesting premise that is was near-impossible to put down. Waking Gods is high on my 2017 hit-list.
- The Last Fleet by Eric S Brown – firstly, to avoid confusion, let me say this is not by Eric Brown, one of my favourite authors. The reason I want to say this? Simple, The Last Fleet was not a good book. At all. The story had real potential, but its two-dimensional characters and pace that was too quick for its own good hurt it badly. Add to that clear examples of no (or very little) editing, and I can’t recommend this in any way.
- After Atlas by Emma Newman – this was exceptional, and perhaps even better than Planetfall (whose universe it shares). However, After Atlas deals with a murder-mystery on Earth after the departure of the colony ship. Well written with complex and interesting characters, and a plot that begs you to read until you’ve finished.
- Chasing Shadows by Tom DeLonge and A.J. Hartley – this is the first in Tom DeLonge’s Sekret Machines project, and it’s a really intriguing idea. With a foreword promising real secrets from government sources I was a little sceptical that it may veer into conspiracy theories and the like, but it actually delivered a solid thriller with secret and advanced technologies at its centre. Considering its length it was also well paced throughout. Looking forward to more entries in this ongoing multimedia project.
- Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson – link to full review below, but suffice to say Wilson is fast becoming a favourite author of mine after both this book and 2015’s The Affinities. Also, his Spin trilogy was rather excellent.
- The Gunslinger Born by Robin Furth & Peter David – link to full review below, but this is the start of what I hope will be an ongoing read/re-read of the Dark Tower series. It’s also an interesting choice to adapt Wizard and Glass rather than an original, but one that works out well.
- Dark Run by Mike Brooks – a good, fun read this, though not particularly memorable. Still, I’ll be looking forward to the next book to see where Brooks takes the crew and hope that he brings that same sense of enjoyments and fun that he nailed here.
- Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey – the latest Expanse novel, and sure to be a hit with readers and fans. I liked it, but feel that the setting has more to offer than the repetitive home system political issues. But still, it’s totally entertaining and very readable, and this is a series that really does do the genre justice.
- The Long Road Home by Robin Furth and Peter David – the second Dark Tower graphic novel omnibus, and good stuff. Full review following at a later date, but it was nice to read a completely original tale set in the Dark Tower universe.
- Ad Astra by Jack Campbell – a collection of Campbell’s short stories, and other than one or two okay entries, this was excellent. As a fan of his Lost Fleet setting it was nice to read something different, but still done with that ingrained entertainment and skill he shows in novel form.
- Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Woodring Stover – a good, solid follow up to Heroe’s Die but, not quite as good. However, Stover has nailed the world-building here while also giving us deep and complex characters that add so much more to the story. Despite being relatively light on the action this one still delivered the goods.
Two reviews this month, one novel, one graphic novel omnibus:
Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson – I’ve really enjoyed reading Wilson’s novels over the past couple of years and really enjoyed The Affinities, his last release. Last Year was very different, and a novel that I didn’t think would work as well as it did. Well worth a read.
The Gunslinger Born by Robin Furth & Peter David – the first omnibus of the Dark Tower graphic novels and covering events from Wizard and Glass. A good way to bring King’s world to this format, and it works well. Looking forward to see how the story progresses through the next few omnibuses.
A very light month on movie watching, mainly due to more reading and catching up on some TV shows. But I did watch:
Lazer Team – a fun and silly movie about alien tech hijacked by a group of dimwits rather than the ultimate human champion it was destined for. Thoroughly entertaining and much fun.
Spectral – a surprisingly good film with some good science grounding once the explanations come, at least for the most part.
Rupture – weird and compelling in equal measures. I couldn’t stop watching until I found out what the hell was going on. A strange one for sure, but good nonetheless.
TV Shows Watched
I’ve not added TV watching into these updates before, but I do watch some damned good things that I’d like to talk about every now and then. So, in January I managed to finish the following:
House (season 8) – I’ve really enjoyed watching House over the past year or so, though I’m glad it finally came to an end. Personally I think it should have ended after season 7 and that this last season really didn’t add anything of worth to the series, but it did mean I got to see more of Hugh Laurie.
Stranger Things (season 1) – I finally got around to this series in January, and I was so damned happy watching it. There’s nothing I can add to everything that has been said about Stranger Things since its release, but it’s a great show that ticked all my boxes – roll on season 2!
Under the Dome (season 3) – I watched this only to scratch my OCD itch and complete the series. Season 1 was good, season 2 not that good, and season three just plain WTF. My inner King fan wishes they just stuck to the one season and kept it closer to the book, but we can’t have what we want all the time.
Mario Kart 8 – I just needed some mindless fun times on the gaming front in January, though I suspect that may change over the next month or two.
I’ve put on too much weight over the last few month and hoped to get back into the healthy swing of things in January. No such luck. Between total lack of motivation and energy, then my wife severely hurting her ankle mid-month, I just haven’t done a thing. Add to that some pretty crappy eating and I’m heavier now than I have been in years, and it depresses me. I know what I need to do to lose the weight, but I can’t stick to a damned thing…