Watchmen by Alan Moore

My first ever graphic novel. I’d seen the film and from what I remember it was a fairly faithful adaption apart from the end.

It starts with a murder and the follow up by a ‘superhero’ called Rorschach. It’s set it an alternative 1980’s and it’s a pretty dark world. It’s on the verge of world war 3, with the conflict between the Americans and Russians escalating.

It’s an interesting storyline, a basic murder mystery that quickly expands and becomes something much more world encompassing. The characters are good, all have their hangups, good points and bad which keeps it interesting. It’s split into 12 parts with interludes of interviews, transcripts etc. I particularly liked the section with Rorschach and the psychologist in prison, it was very well done. As for the artwork, I thought it looked good but honestly I don’t really have anything to compare it too.

As for the medium itself, it was something different but I’m not sure I’ll be jumping into it too much, I much prefer my pages of text! I’m glad I read it though, I’d been meaning to for quite a while.

4 stars out of 5

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This is the first horror novel I’ve read apart from some Stephen King quite a long time ago. I’m not totally sure what to make of it. It wasn’t scary but there was a kind of stifling tone throughout.

It’s all set in some suburbs in Sweden and we have plenty of POV’s. The main character is Oskar who is a 12(?) year old boy, bullied at school, who’s life changes fairly dramatically once a girl around his own age moves in next door.

To be honest I’m not a huge fan of most of the characters, most of them are not nice human beings, one in particular. Oskar and Eli were fairly good, and I did like Lacke but for the most part this is a fairly depressing and disgusting look at some sides of human life.

I have to say though that there was something about the story, it kept me engaged and made me want to keep going. I would have liked some more backstory on Eli, and the end was a little anti-climatic but overall it wasn’t too bad. I doubt I’ll read it again but I might watch the movie they made of it at some stage.

3 stars out of 5

Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

I had high hopes going into this novel. I’ve always liked Obi-Wan Kenobi and the idea of a novel about him set just after Revenge of the Sith sounded really interesting.

Unfortunately it wasn’t. I was bored from the start to the finish. Okay there were some bits near the end that were alright but that was about it. I thought we would get a lot of POV’s from him, and dealing with the consequences of what had happened. There were probably about 20 pages in total from his POV in his meditations and that was it.

The rest of the novel was basically set in the wild west of Tatooine with fairly inconsequential stuff that didn’t really go anywhere. It didn’t feel like a Star Wars novel. I don’t need constant Jedi or battles and things but this was basically a boring Western book that happened to be set in the Star Wars universe. At the end we didn’t learn anything new though there was a little character development. That was it. Feels like a complete waste of what could have been a great novel.

2 stars out of 5

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

This is a new retelling of Scandinavian Mythology. It follows the familiar pattern from origin myths to Ragnarok. Most of the stories follow Odin, Thor and Loki as there is the most material on them according to the author.

I always loved reading about these myths when I was a kid, more so than the Greek or Roman ones, so I had high hopes for this, particularly as it’s written by Neil Gaiman.

And it was perfectly fine. Nothing especially wrong with it but nothing that stood out either. I was expecting more, what that more is I don’t know but I wanted it nevertheless. It’s also a very short read. The book is circa 260 pages but with normal formatting it could have been 100.

3 stars out of 5

Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr

That was a surprisingly good book. It’s set in a Celtic/Gallic kind of alternate world in a fairly primitive society. Nobles and lords might only a have a few men at arms and a large battle involves only a few hundred people. It is quite cool to see these small scale battles rather than ones involving thousands of people. We have around five or six main POV characters, from nobles to mercenaries to healers. 

What is really interesting is that in this world people have a ‘Wyrd’, a kind of fate that they need to work out and it can take many lifetimes to achieve. Your Wyrd can become entangled with others and actions in one life can have consequences in another.

So with all characters here we spend most of our time in the ‘current’ timeline but we also have two other stories of their previous lives and we can see how their fates became entangled. It is really well done. All the characters are well written and sympathetic, even the bad guys. 

For a story first published in 1987 I think it really holds its own. Yes there are elves and dwarves in it, but they honestly seem quite ordinary and don’t have a huge part to play. It really is quite an original story and I don’t recall reading anything like it which is refreshing. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series when I can as I’m very curious as to where it is going.

5 stars out of 5

Temeraire by Naomi Novik

I’d heard good things about this book and bought it a while ago. Finally got around to it and I was kind of expecting a Pern type book. Now there are definitely elements of that here but it is also a lot more.

The premise of these books is that it is set in our world, during the Napoleonic Wars, the only difference being that in this world there are dragons.

Our story starts with our Captain Lawrence in a naval engagement with a French ship, during which he captures a dragon egg and proceeds to bond with it unintentionally. Please note I’m not giving much away here, it all happens in the first few pages. The rest of the book deals with the consequences of this for him personally and the new life he now leads and the growing relationship with Temeraire, his dragon. 

I really loved this book. The relationship between Lawrence and Temeraire is really well done, from resentment to unconditional love. It also had kick ass fights on both sea and between dragons with guns and cannons thrown in the mix. Dragons have whole flight crews and board other dragons, it’s seriously cool. Still can’t quite imagine how it looks but that’s probably my own fault, I got really into it and read it far too quickly.

This book falls into the sub genre ‘Fantasy of Manners’ which I’ve only heard of relatively recently. It has the whole English Jane Austen-y manners and social protocols but with some Fantasy thrown in. Love it. Now I’ve heard the quality of this series is a bit of a mixed bag but I’m more than willing to find it out for myself.

5 stars out of 5

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

This was such an intriguing book. It starts off with a girl, Rose, who falls down a hole while out cycling her bike but then lands on what looks like a giant hand made out of some unknown material.

The story then continues some 20 odd years later with Rose as an adult and lead scientist on a project to look into the hand in more detail. We also get some more POV’s (kind of): Kara, a US navy pilot; Ryan, Kara’s co-pilot: Vincent, a linguistics genius; and an unnamed interviewer.

What makes this such a strange book is the format of it. The whole book is in the form of interview transcripts, diary entries, media reports etc. It makes it a very quick read but it has its downside in that it is difficult to form any emotional bond with the characters.

I don’t want to go into more plot details for fear of spoilers but it goes into some interesting areas, including political and societal repercussions. I think the book could have been a solid 5 stars if there had been some normal prose interspersed in all the interview transcripts. The format while initially interesting, got a little annoying towards the end, I just couldn’t feel for the characters. The characters themselves were a little cliche at the beginning as well but things did take a few interesting directions which was nice. The unnamed interviewer was probably my favorite, we still don’t know much about him but he is very interesting.

I felt it could have been a really exceptional book with some format changes but still is very solid. I will definitely be reading the sequel at some stage.

4 stars out of 5

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

This should be a 5 star book. It has so many amazing moments, pretty much from Malfoy Manor onwards. The battle of Hogwarts is spectacular and heartbreaking. I much prefer the final duel between Harry and Voldemort in this compared to the movie version. No stupid special effects, no long drawn out battle. It feels much more real and meaningful. And the final thud really resonates. So why no 5 star? 

Well it’s two things. The pacing and title. It really got bogged down in the first half of the book. Too much time spent just sitting around. Yes it affects the plot but that brings up the second point.

We get introduced to another whole plot revolving the deathly hollows. I really felt this could be skipped as it took away from the story that had been built up. OK the elder wand was fairly pivotal but the rest of it played no real part and I think actively took away from the story. 

Still though it is such a great end to the series and I am sure I will be reading it again some time in the future.

4 stars out of 5

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I remember thinking this book was just okay when I read it before but I really enjoyed it this time around.

The whole horcrux thing is brilliant and the chasing of clues through memories was a great way to do it. For quite a big book it feels much smaller as it is very well paced though another quidditch story line did feel one too much after so many before. The whole romance thing wasn’t even too bad though of course it’s all quite PG and innocent.

We all the know how it ends and though sad, I still feel that Dumbledore should have spent way more time with Harry. He knew what was going to happen so you think he would have spent as much time with him as he could to get him prepped.

It certainly feels like a penultimate chapter and most of places are in setup for the endgame. Even though I know what’s going to happen I am still looking forward to it.

4.5 stars out of 5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Another great entry in the series. I really appreciate what the author did with this series, the first book is rather simple but the story progresses and grows darker and more complicated with each entry.

Harry is quite annoying in this story but to be honest he’s a young teenager so it’s fairly accurate. We also meet one of the greatest villains I’ve ever read in Umbridge. I think she works so well because we all have probably met somebody like her, somebody so utterly self absorbed and then put in a position of power. It’s a bad combination.

Also Snape. We all know the story with Snape but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he is a bitter, small minded person from the very first book and constantly humiliates Harry because of something that had nothing really to do with him.

Rowling may lack sometimes in the art of writing itself but it’s undeniable that she’s created some great characters, of both the good and bad variety.

5 stars out of 5

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