Category Archives: Book review

May TV and books

Busy working on the new NEW book. Currently editing it and at the end of that process it will be a second draft. I’ll then send it back to my agent for her feedback. After that, we’ll see. I might need to do another edit (which is likely) or it may be ready to go out on submission. Who knows.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to feed my brain lots of good content. TV, comics, films and books. No spoilers and I’m not going to be discussing Game of Thrones even though I am watching it. Some people are not up to date and I hate spoilers.

Sneaky Pete – Not a genre show at all, but this con-man drama is actually quite heart warming and I found myself really caring about the whole cast of characters, even the annoying ones. Giovanni Ribisi is excellent in the lead as Pete, and to be fair, the whole cast is wonderful. It’s a little bit family drama, a little bit Leverage or Hustle, depending on where you live, as Ribisi sweet talks his way around people using his astute skills and observation. Funny, surprising and always interesting. Currently on Amazon and definitely worth  a watch.

Knightfall – While desperately waiting for the next series of The Last Kingdom I thought I would give this a go as it seemed like my kind of thing. Created by the History channel at first I thought it would be a very dry retelling of events surrounding the Knights Templar. Two minutes into the first episode and that preconception was shattered. This is a saucy, violent, action drama with larger than life characters. It involves Templars living in France after the fall of the Holy Land and their quest to locate the Holy Grail. Yes, that very special cup that was lost. As well as the Knights getting up to no good there is also the interwoven intrigue and drama of the French court where Philip rules with an iron fist. It’s fun, and I’m sure not at all historically accurate but it is always entertaining.

Stumptown Vol. 2 – This comic book series written by Greg Rucka was recently optioned for TV. A pilot was made with Cobie Smulders in the lead role as Dex Parios, a PI operating out of Portland, Oregon and it has now been picked up for a full first series. Each volume of the comic book focuses on a different case and this down on her luck PI is reminiscent of the Rockford Files, which Rucka has said was an influence on this book. Quirky, funny and unpredictable, Stumptown takes the time to build its characters, which means when it comes to the TV adaptation which is probably due to air later this year, they have plenty of source material to draw on.

Joyride – Remember when comics just used to be really light-hearted fun with some drama? I say that as a lifelong comic book fan. Sometimes I just want to watch or read something light, exciting and enjoyable that’s not challenging anything or commenting on anything in today’s society. At least, not in too obvious a way. Joyride tells the story or 3 teenagers who steal a spaceship and go off into space to have adventures. That’s it. Drama and excitement follows.

Mister Miracle – This twelve issue comic book series (now collected into one volume) by Tom King and Mitch Gerads from DC comics is one of the best comics I’ve read in many many years. It’s also very difficult to describe. It is self contained, so even if you’ve never read any DC comics before or are not familiar with the characters you can read it and the story will make sense. What it is actually about beyond the surface story is for you to decide. I’m not going to tell you what I think it is about because there’s a lot going on and if I try to outline what I think it is about I will probably miss a bunch of stuff and then later want to add to it as I think about it. This is also a comic I will be able to reread multiple times in the future and get something different from it. I believe it is Tom and Mitch’s finest work to date, not that either of them have been slouches up to now.

The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding – This is the first fantasy novel in a new series by Wooding who is already a very accomplished author who has written YA, fantasy, a SF steampunk series about space pirates, amongst many other books. I’ve written a longer review on Goodreads about it but here is the start – This is a mighty beast of a book, clocking in at over 800 pages. To be fair, Wooding handles the story with his usual balance of cracking action, rich characters that you genuinely care about and wonderful worldbuilding. If Grimdark is a thing in publishing, and maybe it is just a label for the tone of a book, this is the opposite, it is Noble Bright, or whatever you want to call it. Full review is here but in short, read it. You won’t be disappointed.

What have you been watching? Read any good comics?

 

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On Time Every Time

This post has been bubbling under for a while but it was brought to the forefront of my mind today by a tweet. Someone commented that they wait until the series of books is finished before picking them up in one go because they were shy about starting a series with an unpublished finish. Ok, there’s a lot to chew on there.

First, I’m not picking on this individual as I know it is an attitude shared by some SFF readers. However, it’s actually one that is damaging for writers. Myke Cole sums it up very succinctly here.

It really is that simple. I know binge watching is now common and binge reading is a thing too. There’s nothing wrong with either. So, one person posted a simple and elegant solution if binge-reading is your thing – Buy the books (or pre-order them) on the day they come out and then leave them on the shelf until the series is done. Then you can still binge read the whole lot in one go. There are drawbacks to this approach such as talking and engaging with other readers in the SFF community as the books come out, but I also realise that some SFF readers don’t get involved in conventions or social media. They just buy and read the books in their own time.

The second important point I wanted to raise is the vast majority of SFF published authors deliver their books on time, every time. Yes, there are a few very high profile, very celebrated authors who are behind on their deadlines (we all know who they are and the books in question) but everyone else just gets on with it and delivers their books. And no, this is not a dig at those authors either. The only issue is, some readers then assume that the rest of us will follow suit and it is just not true.

Here’s my current timeline of published books from Orbit :-

Battlemage – September 2015

Bloodmage – April 2016

Chaosmage – October 2016

Mageborn – October 2017

Magefall – September 2018

Mage3 – Sept/Oct 2019 (first draft is written)

Of Gods and Men (novella) – February 2018

That list is not there so I can pat myself on the back. Nor is it a pity party, because while it was difficult to work on the first trilogy of books at the same time, all of them at different stages so they could come out every 6 months, it was and is my dream job and something I’d wanted to do for decades. I also want to stress something because it is very important – writing is my job. This list is there to demonstrate I delivered the books on time, every time.

To that end, I’ve already handed in Mage3, and my deadline is December 2018. I’m now hard at work something new and different, which if all goes to plan, it will be published in 2020, or sooner, who knows. In theory, I could finish the first draft of the brand new book by the end of this year. It’s possible. Again, this is not here for people to pat me on the back. I love writing books. Yes, sometimes the process is difficult and challenging and I’ve written about that in previous blog posts. This isn’t about that. If I don’t hand in the books I don’t get paid and as I’ve said, writing is my job.

How you can help

The bottom line is if you like an author and want to support them – buy their books when they come out (from your local bookshop if possible). If you want to do more, then tell someone else about the book and the author. Word of mouth and personal recommendation from friends are very powerful. Shout about a book on social media if you loved it. If you want to go one step further, write a review and post it somewhere online. Goodreads and Amazon if possible because that will help other people find the books. Even if you didn’t buy the book from Amazon, it is the first port of call for a lot of people and reviews on there matter. Lots of people now have book blogs and vlogs on YouTube. Talking about books on there is another great way to spread the word.

Buy the books. Don’t wait.

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Interview with me at SFF World

Following on from the review of Battlemage over at SFF World by Mark Chitty, he also did a long interview with me about my début novel, world building, my influences and all sorts of things. The questions went in some interesting and unexpected directions. Some of them also made me take a step back and analyse some of the decisions I made when writing the first in this series.

We also chatted about how I found an agent, comic books and what I get up to in my spare time, such as podcasting. I co-host a monthly geek related podcast, CBO, and also for fun co-host Bags of Action. The podcast is all about action films and every month Pete and I talk about high octane, ridiculous action films and why we love them so much. Both shows are on iTunes as well if you want to download them from there.

I’ve just moved into a new house, and after a week of being offline I am now sorting through my emails and still unpacking a mountain of boxes. Time to get back to it.

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In Transit

I’m currently in the middle of moving house, so I’m neck deep in boxes in every room in the entire house! And we keep finding stuff we’ve forgotten about, but we are gradually getting there. Kind of.

In the meantime to avoid having to read about my packing techniques to avoid making a box too heavy, here are a couple of new Battlemage things.

I used to do a book blog called Walker of Worlds, with my old chum, Mark Chitty. We were a good pairing as he favoured SF and I favoured Fantasy novels so together we covered a lot of ground. WoW went away but Mark has recently brought it back to life again, plus he does some work over at SFF World.

Mark recently reviewed Battlemage and his review is quite detailed but it doesn’t actually contain any major spoilers. There is also a bit more biography information about me on there too. Next week Mark will be posting a long interview we did this week about Battlemage, writing and my approach, my influences and all sorts of stuff. So watch for that as I will retweet it and repost it everywhere, like my Facebook page.

I also did a Five Favourite Wizards guest post for those good people over at Fantasy Faction. I chose five quite different wizards on purpose, and even one from comics. I should point out, in case it’s not clear, these are not the five most powerful wizards. They are also not my five most favourite wizards ever, just five from the hundred or so I could name. There seemed to be some confusion around this over on Reddit Fantasy where I posted the link.

In the meantime, with Battlemage out there in the world, the countdown now begins for Bloodmage, book 2 in the Age of Darkness trilogy, which is due out next year in about six months. More news, cover art and blurb info, when I have it!

 

 

 

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Some interviews and things

So recently I’ve been asked to do a few interviews on some SFF blogs and website. People all over the world are starting to discover Battlemage, and alongside reviews it’s nice to get a bit more info from the author and try to work out what the heck was going on his brain when he wrote it and what is coming next. Or sometimes they just want to know what I like to drink, which is also cool.

Below are some links to the interviews, plus below that a few more photos of Battlemage out there in the wild.

Mogsy interviewed me over at the Bibliosanctum, which was very kind of her. We talk about characters and magic and my chances of survival during a zombie apocalypse.

João also interviewed me over at Fantasy Literature where they are doing a giveaway if you are in the UK or USA. We talked about the origin of the book plus my influences, a little bit about what is coming next in in Bloodmage, the second book in the Age of Darkness trilogy and also my favourite kind of drink.

Someone in Sydney, Australia sent me a tweet saying they’d just finished reading Battlemage, which was super cool, but a good buddy and cartoonist, Luke Foster, sent me a photo of the book in Manchester, Connecticut, which is the furthest away  from the UK I’ve seen. If you can beat that, let me know!

Another really awesome was a lovely bookseller called Vicki in Waterstones in Swindon, put my book alongside Neal Asher and Andy Weir’s Martian on the recommended table. So thank you very, very much to Vicki for that.

If you’re somewhere further west in America than CT or somewhere in Europe and you’ve seen a copy of Battlemage in your local bookshop, then take a picture and let me know!

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Interview at Smash Dragons

In the run up to the launch of Battlemage, book 1 of the Age of Darkness trilogy, there’s going to be a lot of PR and marketing going on. My name and the book cover is going to be popping up all over the place. Plus those clever people at Orbit have some great ideas for promotion.

In the meantime, Matthew in Australia over at the Smash Dragons blog, got in there first with a fairly lengthy interview. No doubt the first of many. I go into a fair bit of detail about the book, my process, where the inspiration came from, who some of my influences and some other fun stuff. You can read the interview in full here.

He also has some great interviews with some other authors who I highly recommend. I’ve read their work and can genuinely say I’m a big fan. These include Jen Williams, whose first two books (The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost) are cracking rollicking fantasy adventures that are funny and clever and weird and just a lot of fun. I never use text speech or text abbreviations but her books did actually make me laugh out loud when reading them which is actually pretty rare. I think it comes from her acerbic charming sense of humour.

The other author I can recommend is Daniel Polansky. His fantasy books are crime novels in a fantasy skin as they are told from the perspective of people from the underworld but there is also plenty of magic and mayhem. A very unique style, an interesting approach and in some ways his books remind me of Tale of the Kin novels by Douglas Hulick.

More stuff to come later this week I think.

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Get Involved in 2014

I’m not one for making new year resolutions, but what I am doing starting from January is rewatching and rereading a few things together with some friends. This is your invitation to take part and then join in with the discussion. I should quickly mention, that I know how life (and by that I’m including work, family, the unexpected) can stall a great idea like this, which is why I’m doing all of them at a reasonable pace. So if you want to join in on one of them, then please do, but there’s no pressure and we’re going at a steady pace so no one gets left behind.

g4The Dresden Files reread – First up, I’m an enormous fan of the writer Jim Butcher and I think he is a very talented guy. The Dresden Files are one of my favourite series of books, ever really, but there are quite a few of them out now, and although I know what’s going on in the story now, I am sure I have forgotten some of the smaller details. I’ve forgotten character moments, seeing the clues that led to greater things and dooms to come, and there are seeds planted along the way. So overall I’m very excited about starting from the beginning and reliving all of the amazing moments and witnessing the growth of Harry. My reading buddy on this is Stacey Whittle, she of the Small Press Big Mouth (small press comics podcast), the Whittle Waffle podcast (solo podcast where she talks comics, TV, film, geek stuff and of course knitting!). Both podcasts are on iTunes and she is @Stace_W on Twitter. We are reading one Dresden Files book a month. As I said, it gives us time, just in case.

Beauty and the BeastBeauty and The Beast rewatch – Through talking to some friends at conventions and also on Twitter, I quickly realised that one of my childhood cornerstones, and slightly guilty pleasures, is the Beauty and The Beast TV series that ran from 1987-1990 starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton. It was awesome. There’s been a TV remake in name, and what little I saw, I thought was megacrap. The Beast, is a pretty boy with gel in his hair and a scar. Enough said.

The original and still the best from the 1980s, is slightly smushy, but also very moving TV show, with opening music and credits that still give me chills to this day. I just loved it back then and still do. Catherine was a tough woman who as an assistant district attorney, sometimes got into a fair amount of trouble. And there to help her, was the intelligent, sensitive but also very angry and powerful Vincent, played by Perlman. This would be the first of many roles in which I think Perlman to be far more attractive with heavy make-up than without. He’s not a bad looking guy at all, but he’s also got that in common with Andreas Katsulas, who as G’Kar in B5 was mesmerising and women were instantly drawn to him, but less so when himself. It’s an interesting idea I might revisit in another post.

Anyway, another lesser known fact is that a certain George Martin worked on the show as a writer and executive producer. Yes, the George RR Martin of Game of Thrones fame as he is now known.

So, CE Murphy, Liz de Jager, and I will be rewatching the whole show, from episode 1, at the reasonable pace of one episode a week starting in January. It’s available to buy on DVD and is also available to stream from various online sources. We’re going to have a Twitter hashtag, and we’ll all chat about our second, third or tenth impressions of the show, somewhere online at a place to be decided. So, follow them both on Twitter, and I’ll post on here again when we start watching so you can join in if you want.

Babylon 5 rewatch – This is something I’m not doing at a set pace, but I have started rewatching the whole show from the start. Given the chance I can and will talk your ear off about this TV show for hours at a stretch. Put very succinctly, it is my favourite SF TV show ever. It’s not perfect, and the CGI and make-up is not up to today’s standard, but there’s a reason Star Trek The Original Series and old Doctor Who are still revered today by many fans. It’s because if you can look at it with slightly historic eyes and ignore the old tech, the shows were groundbreaking at the time and are still great shows with fantastic stories.

B5 is like that. To me it’s a masterpiece in writing and character development, and is a TV show with individual seasonal arcs and an overall story arc, long before such things were common. It led the way for this sort of thing on TV, which a lot of people don’t realise. It’s a 5 year story done right. None of this making it up as we go along and hoping we can sort it out in the end (Lost). It’s one big story, with seeds planted from day one. So, I’ll be posting here periodically with my thoughts and impressions, so feel free to join in on the rewatch.

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Recharged

I’m back from my holiday, feeling refreshed and recharged and ready to face the second half of the year. I saved up some favourite books I’d been holding onto for months, and a couple of new ones, and then spent most of the week lying by a pool, drinking cold beer and reading in the Portuguese sunshine. I’m not the fastest reader but still managed to get through four and a half in a week, which is pretty good for me. There is an earlier post about which books I took with me and below are my initial thoughts.

This was my second time reading The Name of the Wind, and actually, it was more satisfying this time. It must be two years since I first read it, and although I had an idea of the overall arc of the story, I had forgotten so much. So many details, so many little clues and nuances, and now, with the whole story fresh in my mind I am ready to dive into The Wise Man’s Fear. It’s a monster of a book, plus I have the weighty hardback, but apart from it being a tax on my wrists, I can’t wait to start it.

Small side note. It was recently announced that The Kingkiller Chronicle has been optioned for a TV series. In the wake of the enormous, galactic success, of Game of Thrones, it was inevitable that TV execs and others would be looking for another fantasy series they could adapt. I’m really not sure about this. It’s far too early to be worried, it may never actually happen and could get stuck in development hell, but my initial gut reaction was not one of celebration. Now, I love Game of Thrones, and I read the books before the TV series, and am also a fan of the TV series. The Kingkiller Chronicle is not even remotely like Game of Thrones, it’s so very different, maybe more so than some people might realise. It’s definitely a wait and see. I could be proven totally wrong and the TV show might be amazing, so for now I’ll say no more and just stay quiet.

The Eighth Court was the final book in The Courts of the Feyre series by Mike Shevdon and although I really enjoyed it, so much so that I read the whole thing in one day, I was left feeling a little sad because there will no more tales of Blackbird and Dogstar. I feel that Shevdon has barely scratched the surface with some of the characters and the world he has created but it’s not my book or my world, or my story for that matter. I’d love to see more stories set in this world and I guess only time well tell if Shevdon comes back to it. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve very picky about my urban fantasy, and this is a brilliant series that I highly recommend. So if you’ve never read them, savour the books and don’t race through them, as four is all you are getting.

I gobbled up Exit Kingdom in a day as well. This is the second book by Alden Bell, set in the same world he created with The Reapers are the Angels. It’s a prequel, of sorts, but it also references a few events in Reapers, but without spoiling anything. So in theory you could read this first and then Reapers and it would not spoil the story. The dialogue is glorious and overly dramatic at times, but it is also very in keeping with the world Bell has created and I found myself loving the rhythms and sound of it. The story is dark, twisted, unpredictable and bleak at times and once again it is a story not about zombies, but about humanity. In my opinion, this and Reapers are far superior to some of the other zombie material out there at the moment that is flooding the comic book world, our TV screens and even the cinemas. A fantastic read and I am keen to read more by Bell, whether set in this world, or something completely new.

Ack-Ack Macaque is just a giant bag of fun, wrapped up in a monkey shaped blanket. Ok, I admit that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but suffice to say there are a lot of ideas thrown onto the page and they all gel and come together nicely in the end. Powell has a lot of fun with the story and dialogue in particular and it really translates into making it an enjoyable experience for the reader. I know that this is only the beginning as there is still a lot to explore in this strange new world Powell has created with its own alternate history. Hive Monkey, the second book featuring AAM is due out next year and after reading this I am really looking forward to seeing where he goes next.

Can’t really comment on the fifth book, Ice Forged, as I’m still reading it, but so far it’s a down and dirty fantasy series with several likeable characters and some rather hideous villains.

Next up will be The Wise Man’s Fear, and then Rebellion, the second Blood and Feathers book by Lou Morgan.

So what have you been reading over the summer? Can you recommend any new urban fantasy series I might not have heard about before?

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Books That Changed My Life – Part 1

The title and idea of this is…borrowed…from Den Patrick and the other good people at Blackwell’s in Charing Cross. They have written about 5 books that changed their life so go here and read them. So far I’m managed to whittle my list down to 8 books. I’ve probably missed off a couple so I’ll add them later. It also turns out I had more to say on these books than I anticipated so I’ve split it into two parts.

Pawn Of Prophecy by David EddingsPawn of Prophecy by David Eddings – When I was ten or eleven I remember seeing my brother reading this book. It wasn’t a big book so I wasn’t intimidated by it and when he told me it was fantasy I was intrigued. Looking at it now, in my thirties, I’m less enamoured by it and can’t read it without wincing, however, at the time it was fresh, exciting, and quite simply a wonderful book. Tolkien is a huge influence on many fantasy and genres writers, and he did have an impact on me, but I think Eddings had a greater influence because I read all of the Belgariad and then years later the Mallorian and several other books by him. I spent more time immersed in the worlds that he created and I spent a lot more time with his characters than Tolkien. I felt like Garion was someone I could see wandering the hallways of my school and I really wanted an aunt like Polgara and a grumpy old grandpa like Belgareth. By this time Tolkien had already passed away, so in my mind (at the time when I was eleven) he was old-fashioned fantasy, whereas Eddings was current and writing it for me, right now! Eddings gets a lot of grief from some quarters, and I think some aspects of the criticism are valid, however he was instrumental in my early reading and my love of the fantasy genre, so he definitely deserves to be on this list. These are definitely books to give to younger readers, pre YA even, to ease them into the fantasy genre.

Dune by Frank HerbertDune by Frank Herbert – There are some really amazing books, like certain TV shows, films, comedians or even individual comedic sketches, that people will quote for decades after the fact. Monty Python hasn’t been on TV for a long time but people still quote the Dead Parrot sketch, the Knights of Ni from the Holy Grail film, bits from the Life of Brian and so on. This book not only spawned several sequels by Frank Herbert, but it also generated several prequels written by his son and Kevin J. Anderson several decades later. The book has also been adapted into one film and, in my opinion, one really good mini TV series. Regardless of the quality of the sequels and the other spin-offs and adaptations, the ideas in this book are vast and the ground so fertile and rich, with ideas that they need exploring. The material is so interesting and so thought provoking and unique, that I still quote sections, ponder some of the decisions made and I also re-read it. The latter might sound like no great achievement, but there are so many books being published nowadays, and there are so many other distractions vying for my attention and my time, that to actually go back and reread a book is something I almost never do anymore. What Herbert did with Dune is expand my horizons and make me think beyond not only myself and my life, but beyond Earth to the future of mankind and what we, as a species, might accomplish if we ever stopped looking inwards so much and went out there to the stars. It also exposed me to ideas that were so big I couldn’t really grasp them at the time. The first time I read Dune I was too young and I knew I was missing some of the nuances and other material that was there between the lines. It’s such a rich and fertile universe that I just love spending time there and going on an epic journey with Paul. The other incredible thing is that this book hasn’t aged and someone reading it for the first time in 2012 would be as gripped as someone who read it in the 1960s or 1980s. The power of some classic SF novels has diminished, not just because of the advances in technology, but also because the world went in a different direction.

The Green Mile by Stephen KingThe Green Mile by Stephen King – I first read this in 1996 when it was still coming out in a serialised fashion. I was working in the USA for a summer and on the regular trips into town with my roommates I would regularly check the book store to see if the next installment had come out. You can buy it as a complete novel now, but back then King was releasing in approx six 100 page little booklets. It wasn’t my first King book by that time, but it is the one with which I connect the most. I’ve read many King books, not all of them, and some I’ve enjoyed more than others, but this is still my favourite King novel by a long distance. It’s been more than fifteen years since I read it and I’m still thinking about it. The man is an amazing storyteller and in my opinion he excels at characterisation and making the impossible and the unreal and the scary seem very possible. This is also one of the most emotional novels I’ve ever read and although the phrase rollercoaster is over used, the story took me through a huge range of emotions. This is an incredibly powerful novel about love, loss, the human spirit, sacrifice, compassion, cruelty and miracles. It really puts you through the emotional wringer and for me it is an incredible and very moving book. I should also point out that it is rare that a film adaptation of a novel is very good. The Green Mile by Frank Darabont is one of the exceptions and the film is one my favourites of all time. It’s just that good. For those who are unsure about Stephen King, I always recommend this book over his others.

Odd Thomas by Dean KoontzOdd Thomas by Dean Koontz – I came to Koontz quite late and I took a risk on him, because at the time, I’d not heard much about him. I was browsing a book shop and I lamented to a friend there was nothing new in the SFF section that looked very interesting. She told me to try another genre, so in a slight huff I wandered slightly to my right into the horror section and started reading the back of several books. This was my first Koontz novel but definitely not my last. Some of Koontz’s novels are brilliant and some I haven’t enjoyed, but I’ve now probably read 90% of his back catalogue. In terms of sheer creativity and the breadth of ideas, the man is a genius. He starts with a tiny seed of an idea on a card, often just a few sentences, and from that he turns it into a gripping and spellbinding story. He doesn’t plan, he does it all as he goes along completely organically and most of the time he’s successful in making the story a cohesive whole. Only a few of his novels are huge doorsteps and he taught me about economy of words and that you don’t need to waffle on and on to get the message across. Like King he also taught me that using an everyday word is often far better than something you’ve picked out of the thesaurus. He also taught me about conveying character through dialogue. Odd Thomas is a spooky, weird, and gripping story which starts from a slightly familiar premise but Koontz then takes it in a very unique direction. This novel proved to be so popular that he’s gone on to write several more with the same character, which is something of a rarity for him that he’s only done on a couple of occasions in his career, so it shows you there was something very special about this first one.

Part 2 next week.

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Rereading

When I was very young there didn’t seem to be many novels being published in the genres I was most interested in; science fiction and fantasy. I read all of the classics and new books that I could find and then sat on my hands and waited months for another book to arrive by one of my favourites author (at that time) because obviously there was nothing else to read out there! At some point, instead of staring at the wall and trying to make time go faster with the power of my mind, I eventually went elsewhere, read the entire myths and legends section of the school library and then read books from outside the SFF genre.A Wizard of Earthsea 

Nowadays, I could set myself a challenge to read one new science fiction or fantasy book every week of the year and I would never run out. In fact I could probably do that for several years, possibly forever. There are only a couple of problems with that challenge. Firstly I couldn’t read a book in a week (I’m not that fast at reading) and secondly it would bankrupt me. But apart from that, you get my point.

There are just so many new and amazing SFF books being published these days it makes it difficult for me to keep up. It can also create a bit of a blind spot as sometimes a friend will mention a particular novel or author, and I just haven’t heard of them, despite reading news about the genre. I’m peripherally aware of some authors, and I vaguely know what sort of fantasy and SF books they write, but beyond the taglines or bullet points, I know nothing else about them. There are some I have completely no clue about even though I hear their name being thrown about. Patrick Rothfuss had been published for a year before I paid any attention and I think it was another 2 or 3 years after that before I read The Name of the Wind.

All of this in turn led me to think about rereading and how often I have actually reread a book or had the inclination to do so. With so many amazing new stories coming out, why go back and read something again for a second or even a third time? When you know what is going to happen, why read it?

Having thought on this a bit more, I’ve come up with a shortlist of two books that I have read in the last 5 years that I really want to read again. Before I mention them, I should say there are some long running series that I really enjoy and I do intend to re-read them again, but that’s a much bigger hill to climb than the odd book here and there.

Anyway, the first I am going to re-read was my favourite book which was published in 2010 – The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell. It’s a post apocalytic story about a teenage girl called Temple who was born into the world after the disaster and it follows her on a journey across America. Straight away there are a couple of things that really interest me. First, the main character is not someone lookingThe Reapers are the Angels back on the good old days, trying to get back to her old life, and second, this is by an author I’d never heard of before reading Reapers. So I came to this project fairly blind and was utterly blown away. It’s an amazing and remarkable story about loss, love, bravery, family, friendship and a thousand other things. I should also point out that this is a post apocalyptic novel with zombies, but it’s really about Temple and not the undead. They feature in the story, but this is Temple’s story and even though it is set in a horror framework, I wouldn’t classify it as horror in the traditional sense. I’m also not really a horror fan, books or films, so this was a remarkably anomoly. The prose is deceptively simple, bleak and so easy to read and I found myself quickly being drawn into the world. Fans of the Walking Dead show should definitely check it out. Also it’s a fairly slender novel in comparison to some of a similar ilk (The Passage) and in my opinion, far far superior.

The other book I am going to reread could not be more different to Reapers. It is a fairly meaty read that has beautiful prose and yet it is also something that is easy to read. Some fantasy novels are huge doorsteps and that can be intimidating to a new reader, it raises concerns about padding, that it is going to take them months to read, or that it features dozens of point of view which means nothing will be resolved in the first book. Thankfully The Name of the Wind doesn’t suffer from any of those issues. I came to it late but thenThe Name of the Wind found it was a book that I didn’t want to put down.

I’m also not someone who is particularly drawn to well crafted prose. For me, it’s about the ideas, the story and the characters. Simple and straight forward prose is fine and is actually what I prefer. Too much florid prose can choke a story, can feel like padding and make it difficult to connect and relate to the characters because by the time you get to the end of the sentence you’ve forgotten what was happening at the beginning. The Name of the Wind is jam-packed with lots of amazing ideas, it’s very well written and now that I have a copy of the sequel I want to read the first one again. The stylish prose by Rothfuss enriched my reading experience and didn’t create a barrier.

So, being completely honest, what books are you actually going to reread in the next year or two? What is so special about those books that warrants them getting a reread instead of something new?

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