May 2018

May was nice and, as always, busy. The weather has been much better, and with the implementation of regular exercise again I’m starting to feel a lot better in myself. Now to keep it up!

Books Read
7 books in May, some good, some not so much, but no regrets. I think I was most disappointed in The Belles because it seemed to have a fair amount of buzz behind it, while Buying Time is sitting pretty as the best of the month:

  1. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – an interesting idea of specific people able to control the beauty of a world through magic, and with beauty the central goal of all citizens, it’s a high value commodity. However, despite the promise this idea has, the whole novel falls down around it. Ultimately it felt misjudged with its beauty is the be-all-and-end-all feel, and the way it handled minority characters, especially gay characters, was not good (essentially hiding them away). I also felt that the worldbuilding was woefully inadequate and there was literally no rationale to why the magic and world works the way they do. Plus I hated some of the characters and the way there appears to be no consequences to their actions. Ahh well, not for me.
  2. Buying Time by E. M. Brown – link to full review and details below, but an excellent novel!
  3. Pet Sematary by Stephen King – I remember reading this as a teenager, and also watching the film, and it was actually better than my memory suggested. King is the kind of storyteller that can tackle these dark ideas and make them feel human and relatable, and even though this was written during the early years of his career I think it still stands tall today.
  4. Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds – I’ve not read the first Prefect Dreyfuss novel, The Prefect/Aurora Rising, so I likely missed the significance of some aspects in this one, but generally felt it was simply okay. I saw where the plot/reveal was going well ahead of time (though there was a little twist in there I didn’t expect), though I did enjoy it enough to carry me through to the end. Overall it just reaffirms that I generally don’t get on with Reynolds’ novels as much as I want to, despite them being well written and having all the trademarks of SF that I usually look for.
  5. Legion by Jamie Sawyer – the second Lazarus War book, and after the first I was eager to see what this one would have in store. I’m pleased it managed to continue the general theme and story of the first, while also adding new elements into the mix. The sf horror aspects also work really well, with comparisons to the Alien films a given, but Sawyer does his own thing very well.
  6. Rule of Evidence by John G Hemry – the third JAG in Space novel, and much like the first two I very much enjoyed this re-read. Nothing more to add that I haven’t already said, but I do live in hope we’ll see something of Paul Sinclair again one day.
  7. Alien: The Cold Forge by Alex White – one of the best Alien novels I’ve read, if not the best. It walks well-trodden ground with its story premise – xenomorph research, this time on a space station – yet manages to almost everything exceptionally well, and certainly in some ways I did not expect. I only had one gripe, but too spoilery to say here. Full review coming soon.

Reviews Posted
Buying Time by E. M. Brown – full details in my review, but I loved Buying Time. This is Eric Brown at his character driven best, and currently it’s looking highly likely to be my book of the year.

Movies Watched
I finished the Maze Runner films with The Death Cure, which I must be honest wasn’t all that exciting to me. I also got up-to-date on the Tremors films with Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, Tremors 5: Bloodlines, and the latest, Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell.

After hearing good things I watched the Andre the Giant film/documentary, which was an excellent look at his life. I caught the very funny Deadpool 2, but didn’t think it quite as good as the first. I also finally watched The Ritual, a horror based on Adam Nevill’s book of the same name: excellent, and scary. To round off the month I watched The Titan, a better film than I would have thought given the poor reviews.

TV Shows Watched
Halt and Catch Fire (season 4) – honestly, this was a disappointing end to what had so far been a really interesting series. I found myself bored through most episodes, though there were one or two good ones in there. A shame.

Star Trek Discovery (season 1) – I’m not a massive Star Trek fan despite following many of the shows and films over the years, so being able to approach this fresh was definitely the way to go for me. Very enjoyable, with the second half really picking up the pace and action. I’ll be most interested to catch season 2.

The Big Bang Theory (season 11) – another okay season, but I think this show lost its real charm a few seasons ago, at the very least. I think it’s time they started looking towards finishing it all off.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (season 5) – After a couple of good-but-not-great seasons, this one hit the nail on the head almost the entire time. And the fact it was cancelled and then picked up elsewhere just shows how popular a show it is. NINE-NINE!

The Punisher (season 1) – I was somewhat unsure as to how this one would go given what Frank Castle is known for doing, but I was pleasantly surprised. After a few episodes I was totally sold on it and completely hooked. Not sure what they’ll do if they decide to do another season though.

Red Dwarf (season 12) – I loved this show growing up, though season 8 onwards felt a drop off in quality. Season 11 was better, and this one was fantastic with some excellent stories and gags. Hope they do some more of this quality in the future.

Games Played
Borderlands 2 – I think I’m finished with this game for now. I’ve played a lot over the past few months and all I seem to do is re-tread the same ground. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, but there are other games that I haven’t been playing because of this. Time to move on.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – and speaking of others games, this was a great change for me. A fairly simple platformer where you control both brothers at once, one with the right analog stick/RT and the other with the left analog stick/LT. It took a while to get used to, but the story and setting carried me through to the end without feeling fatigued at all. Definitely recommended.

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