Dates: March 10th - April 14th.

Synopsis: After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break…

My thoughts: Hmmmm. Now, I did enjoy this in places, but largely it just felt too long. Normally with this kind of ‘epic’ story I would want it to be a fairly long book with many small details, but this one just felt overly long. I think perhaps had I read the original published version I may have enjoyed it more, and probably read it a lot quicker. I found myself only reading this at work on lunch breaks because I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to read it at home. One of the better Gaiman books I’ve read, but I think by now it’s safe to say I’m not a fan of his work.

Dates: March 10th - April 14th.

Synopsis: After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break…

My thoughts: Hmmmm. Now, I did enjoy this in places, but largely it just felt too long. Normally with this kind of ‘epic’ story I would want it to be a fairly long book with many small details, but this one just felt overly long. I think perhaps had I read the original published version I may have enjoyed it more, and probably read it a lot quicker. I found myself only reading this at work on lunch breaks because I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to read it at home. One of the better Gaiman books I’ve read, but I think by now it’s safe to say I’m not a fan of his work.

Dates: March 10th.

Synopsis: Remember that hunky guy on YouTube who caught your eye? The one with the awesome pecs and killer smile? I bet you couldn’t stop watching his videos. Just imagine if you had a chance to meet him and all your fantasies started coming true. There’s only one catch: Between you and your dream guy is his less-than-pleased boyfriend. They say that love conquers all, but can love conquer love?

My thoughts: “A panther having sex with a squirrel. Is that even possible?” That line doesn’t really sum up or give any clue to what this short story is like, but I liked it too much to not include it. If you’re a person who likes “YouTubers” it’s quite easy to get in to this story, but don’t go thinking about your favourites as you read it, cos you won’t like where it heads. Fun story though.

Dates: March 10th.

Synopsis: Remember that hunky guy on YouTube who caught your eye? The one with the awesome pecs and killer smile? I bet you couldn’t stop watching his videos. Just imagine if you had a chance to meet him and all your fantasies started coming true. There’s only one catch: Between you and your dream guy is his less-than-pleased boyfriend. They say that love conquers all, but can love conquer love?

My thoughts: “A panther having sex with a squirrel. Is that even possible?” That line doesn’t really sum up or give any clue to what this short story is like, but I liked it too much to not include it. If you’re a person who likes “YouTubers” it’s quite easy to get in to this story, but don’t go thinking about your favourites as you read it, cos you won’t like where it heads. Fun story though.

Dates: February 22nd - March 9th

Synopsis: The Starks are scattered.
Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive.
Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon King, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.

My thoughts: As always, this was a great read. I think I enjoyed this one more as it covered the story beyond what the show is currently up to in season 3, and it leaves a lot for me to look forward to in season 4 next month. I found this one had a LOT more action in it, like it’s all been taken up a notch, and so many threads are left open that I can’t wait to start on the next one to see what happens.

Dates: February 22nd - March 9th

Synopsis: The Starks are scattered.

Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon King, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.

My thoughts: As always, this was a great read. I think I enjoyed this one more as it covered the story beyond what the show is currently up to in season 3, and it leaves a lot for me to look forward to in season 4 next month. I found this one had a LOT more action in it, like it’s all been taken up a notch, and so many threads are left open that I can’t wait to start on the next one to see what happens.

Dates: Feb 11th - Feb 20th

Synopsis: Nothing in this world is permanent. Friends, lovers, even family, can all disappear in the blink of an eye. Without these anchors, it’s all too easy to find oneself drifting.
Jason Grant doesn’t have much, aside from a beat-up old guitar and knack for getting kicked out of foster homes. His latest placement is set to be just another in a long line of failures. Then he meets Caesar Hubbard, a handsome guy who lives down the hall. For the first time in his life, Jason wants to stay, which means learning to be part of a family, and not letting his feelings—or his actions—ruin his first real chance of falling in love.

My thoughts: The 4th and final book in the series. I just….I love this series. It’s not the greatest literature in the world, it’s often quite cliche and predictable, but I love it. And it always, ALWAYS leaves me with tears running down my face and feeling like I’ve been torn apart. Also lonely. It makes me feel lonely. If you’re soppy and want to feel soppier, just read these damn books. And while I said it’s the final of the series, I mean the Season Series, but not the end. Jay Bell has plans for more Something Like books, concentrating on other characters. While he says it won’t be the obvious choices, I hope, and think (thanks to a little clue I picked up) that he will revisit Caesar and William at some point. He better do anyway.

Dates: Feb 11th - Feb 20th

Synopsis: Nothing in this world is permanent. Friends, lovers, even family, can all disappear in the blink of an eye. Without these anchors, it’s all too easy to find oneself drifting.

Jason Grant doesn’t have much, aside from a beat-up old guitar and knack for getting kicked out of foster homes. His latest placement is set to be just another in a long line of failures. Then he meets Caesar Hubbard, a handsome guy who lives down the hall. For the first time in his life, Jason wants to stay, which means learning to be part of a family, and not letting his feelings—or his actions—ruin his first real chance of falling in love.

My thoughts: The 4th and final book in the series. I just….I love this series. It’s not the greatest literature in the world, it’s often quite cliche and predictable, but I love it. And it always, ALWAYS leaves me with tears running down my face and feeling like I’ve been torn apart. Also lonely. It makes me feel lonely. If you’re soppy and want to feel soppier, just read these damn books. And while I said it’s the final of the series, I mean the Season Series, but not the end. Jay Bell has plans for more Something Like books, concentrating on other characters. While he says it won’t be the obvious choices, I hope, and think (thanks to a little clue I picked up) that he will revisit Caesar and William at some point. He better do anyway.

Dates: January 21st - February 10th

Synopsis: Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast.
The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. In the northern wastes, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his younger sisters in their power.
Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.

My thoughts: As with the previous two books in the series this was excellent, and differed a bit more from the series which was nice, as it felt newer, less familiar. It didn’t have a lot of the events from series 3, so I’m guessing they’ll be in the next one which I look forward to reading greatly.

Dates: January 21st - February 10th

Synopsis: Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast.

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. In the northern wastes, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his younger sisters in their power.

Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.

My thoughts: As with the previous two books in the series this was excellent, and differed a bit more from the series which was nice, as it felt newer, less familiar. It didn’t have a lot of the events from series 3, so I’m guessing they’ll be in the next one which I look forward to reading greatly.

Dates: January 12th - January 19th

Synopsis: Two families. Seven days. One house.

Angela and her brother Richard have spent twenty years avoiding each other. Now, after the death of their mother, they bring their families together for a holiday in a rented house on the Welsh border. Four adults and four children. Seven days of shared meals, log fires, card games and wet walks.
But in the quiet and stillness of the valley, ghosts begin to rise up. The parents Richard thought he had. The parents Angela thought she had. Past and present lovers. Friends, enemies, victims, saviours.

My thoughts: This was an odd one. I liked it, the characters were interesting and believable. There was enough left unsaid that gave an, also believable, semi-mysterious backstory, and while the ending wasn’t strictly an ending, it finished at the right time. It’s hard to discuss or describe a story where nothing much happens, but at the same time, it feels like quite a lot happened. I think that’s one of the reasons I liked it.

Dates: January 12th - January 19th

Synopsis: Two families. Seven days. One house.

Angela and her brother Richard have spent twenty years avoiding each other. Now, after the death of their mother, they bring their families together for a holiday in a rented house on the Welsh border. Four adults and four children. Seven days of shared meals, log fires, card games and wet walks.

But in the quiet and stillness of the valley, ghosts begin to rise up. The parents Richard thought he had. The parents Angela thought she had. Past and present lovers. Friends, enemies, victims, saviours.

My thoughts: This was an odd one. I liked it, the characters were interesting and believable. There was enough left unsaid that gave an, also believable, semi-mysterious backstory, and while the ending wasn’t strictly an ending, it finished at the right time. It’s hard to discuss or describe a story where nothing much happens, but at the same time, it feels like quite a lot happened. I think that’s one of the reasons I liked it.

Dates: December 19th - January 12th

Synopsis: Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising.
From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war.
As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky - a comet the colour of blood and flame - five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night.
Against a backdrop of incest, fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.

My thoughts: While most series of books I read have a standout novel amongst them, so far the first 2 books in A Song of Ice and Fire have felt almost the same. Both had some fantastic moments and were enthralling right from the start, but they don’t stand out as separate entities. This is possibly because of the HBO series, I can’t tell. Either way though, this was a wonderful read. I can’t help but want to have a glass of red wine with me at all times when reading it, which is a bit of an issue when I read it at work.
I will now mention my thoughts on it compared to the HBO series, which is something I’d normally try to avoid in book reviews. In the books, I find Cersei to be a bit…bi-polar (for lack of a better word), at one point she goes completely against character and lifts Tyrion up, spinning him around while laughing with joy, in the HBO series she’s a lot more subtle, which I think makes her more human, more believable as a character. She has her weakness as well as her strength, but true to character she doesn’t show this at a surface level. Then there’s Sansa, in the books I quite like her character, her strength and resolve to survive are much more prominent than the the whiny, hopeless girl we see on TV. She still has her resolve and her hatred of the Lannisters, but her whining overrules all of that for me.

But anyway, if you liked book one, or the TV series then chances are you’ll enjoy this too. (I say that an awful lot)

Dates: December 19th - January 12th

Synopsis: Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising.

From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky - a comet the colour of blood and flame - five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night.

Against a backdrop of incest, fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.

My thoughts: While most series of books I read have a standout novel amongst them, so far the first 2 books in A Song of Ice and Fire have felt almost the same. Both had some fantastic moments and were enthralling right from the start, but they don’t stand out as separate entities. This is possibly because of the HBO series, I can’t tell. Either way though, this was a wonderful read. I can’t help but want to have a glass of red wine with me at all times when reading it, which is a bit of an issue when I read it at work.

I will now mention my thoughts on it compared to the HBO series, which is something I’d normally try to avoid in book reviews. In the books, I find Cersei to be a bit…bi-polar (for lack of a better word), at one point she goes completely against character and lifts Tyrion up, spinning him around while laughing with joy, in the HBO series she’s a lot more subtle, which I think makes her more human, more believable as a character. She has her weakness as well as her strength, but true to character she doesn’t show this at a surface level. Then there’s Sansa, in the books I quite like her character, her strength and resolve to survive are much more prominent than the the whiny, hopeless girl we see on TV. She still has her resolve and her hatred of the Lannisters, but her whining overrules all of that for me.

But anyway, if you liked book one, or the TV series then chances are you’ll enjoy this too. (I say that an awful lot)

Books of the year 2013!

Yaaaaaaaaaaay. My 2nd annual books of the year. Woooooo *confetti*

Of the books I read this year, these are my top 10 highlights. Again, as last year, they are in the order of reading, not preference.

1. Fish Change Direction In Cold Weather - Pierre Szalowski

2. The Dark Tower - Stephen King

3. Twists and Turns - Matthew Mitcham

4. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

5. The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman

6. A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

7. Inferno - Dan Brown

8. Broken Homes (Rives of London 4) - Ben Aaronovitch

9. Something Like Autumn - Jay Bell

10. Doctor Sleep - Stephen King

A special mentions to the Hyrule Historia and the Field Guide to Kanto, which I haven’t included as they’re more a reference book/bible than anything else, but they’re beautiful.

Didn’t get quite as many books read this year as I did in 2012, which is a shame, but I plan to get back on track and read more in 2014, including more Song of Ice and Fire books, probably the final Seasons Series book, and hopefully another Rivers of London book.

Dates: November 10th - December 19th

Synopsis: Alex Woods knows that he hasn’t had the most conventional start in life. He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won’t endear him to the local bullies. He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen - he’s got the scars to prove it. What he doesn’t know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he’ll make an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make the best possible choices. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing …

My thoughts: This was a bit of a slow burner, while you know the ending of the book relatively early on the lead up to the events take a bit of time to unfurl for us. This isn’t a bad thing though, the rest of the book was very entertaining, and while it’s by no means a book that’ll have you hooked or on the edge of your seat, it is one that you don’t want to leave unfinished for long. The only reason it took me so long was because I read it exclusively during lunch breaks at work. I plan to read the next one a bit faster.

Dates: November 10th - December 19th

Synopsis: Alex Woods knows that he hasn’t had the most conventional start in life.
He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won’t endear him to the local bullies.
He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen - he’s got the scars to prove it.
What he doesn’t know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he’ll make an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make the best possible choices.
So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing …

My thoughts: This was a bit of a slow burner, while you know the ending of the book relatively early on the lead up to the events take a bit of time to unfurl for us. This isn’t a bad thing though, the rest of the book was very entertaining, and while it’s by no means a book that’ll have you hooked or on the edge of your seat, it is one that you don’t want to leave unfinished for long. The only reason it took me so long was because I read it exclusively during lunch breaks at work. I plan to read the next one a bit faster.

Dates: October 26th - November 8th

Synopsis: It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My thoughts: I wasn’t blown away by this. I enjoyed it, but only as a kind of fable. It felt a bit like a first draft, a well written first draft, but it still felt like it was lacking something. I think after 3 books, it’s safe to say I’m not that much of a Gaiman fan.

Dates: October 26th - November 8th

Synopsis: It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My thoughts: I wasn’t blown away by this. I enjoyed it, but only as a kind of fable. It felt a bit like a first draft, a well written first draft, but it still felt like it was lacking something. I think after 3 books, it’s safe to say I’m not that much of a Gaiman fan.