Reading challenges 2016/2017

Last year I took up the Reading Challenge that Goodreads encourages. I have to set myself quite realistic challenges. So my targets are nothing compared to those of fast readers. Last year for example, my challenge was to read 6 books. I did manage to achieve that. For 2017 I have raised the bar and want to read 10 books. As my previous post describes, I finished a graphic novel on 1st January, so that contributed to achieving my first read of the year, which I admit is a bit of a cheat but I’ll take anything. I have a cupboard full of books to read and I want to start making a dent of some kind. Otherwise I will run out of storage space.

The first book of the year I am reading is called Orphaned Worlds and it is by Michael Cobley. It is the second book in a trilogy.


Batman: Black Mirror

Having started this in late December 2016, I completed it on New Year’s Day 2017. So in you could say it took me a year to read it! It is a good story, perhaps not the best Batman graphic novel I’ve read but even so it is still a good one. It did feel like there was a backstory that I didn’t know much about, with the Batman in this novel not being Bruce Wayne but one of the Robin’s stepping up. It was good to read a Batman story that had a different villain to the usual. I liked the female characters in the story, you weren’t always sure whether they were good or bad. Commissioner Gordon’s son James plays a good part. I wasn’t sure whether he was a villain or not and this was told quite well, like the twist of a good thriller. I’d recommend this book to Batman fans and others curious to see other villains rather than just the usual Joker, Penguin crowd.


Red: my uncensored life in rock

I read this book relatively quickly for me. It probably took me less than a week I’d say. Although I was quite absorbed whilst I was reading, so perhaps my reading speed was faster than usual?

I have always liked Sammy Hagar’s music ever since I bought his solo album Danger Zone and saw him on the cover wearing his bright red jump suit. I wanted to be him, the cool rock star with a red guitar. His book is an entertaining trip through his life, his businesses and gives the unglamorous history of the band Van Halen. It is obviously just his view of the world but he seems a fairly level headed dude. I suspect he left a lot of things out of the book, things he couldn’t say for legal reasons. But he does paint a poor picture of some people involved with him in the past.

I don’t read many non-fiction books and those I do read tend to be in this rock genre. I thought this book was a good read. It dealt with relationships in an honest way and went into details about businesses such as mountain bikes and tequila. That’s what I liked about this. It was a real mix of things, not solely Sammy whingeing about the poor state of the music business today.

In fact, that’s what struck me most about Mr Hagar – his ability to see the positive and move on and do something else when things aren’t working. A good lesson there for us all I think.


Y The Last Man, vol 1: Unmanned

I read volume one of this graphic novel series this week. I really enjoyed it. It is set in modern day America but all of the men suddenly die, all except one. His mother happens to be the most senior female in the American administration and without the men, it falls on her to become acting President. As if that wasn’t complex enough, the last man’s ex-girlfriend is in Australia and he wants to go and find her. His ambition is to get back together and start to repopulate the Earth Adam and Eve style.

I like the writing in this novel, it is humorous and wise cracking. This is a good novel to read, plenty of content to get stuck into.


Tortured Life

At a Comic Con event last year I bought this graphic novel. I read it this week and enjoyed it. It is the story of a man who is having a bad year but then it gets worse as he starts seeing the dead. It gets a bit weird and horrific, so this isn’t a story for everyone! I can’t think of much else to say at the moment.


Assassin’s Creed Renaissance

I’ve been reading this book for several months, as with most of the books I read, it took me a while. I don’t read books fast and tend to drop off for several weeks at a time.

The book is based on the Assassin’s Creed games but, in a way this was something I liked about the book. The story follows the character Ezio and his quest for revenge on those who killed his father and brothers. The story moves around Italy and follows Ezio’s life until middle age. There are some historical characters that make appearances, the most notable of these is Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli. However, the conversations and actions of the characters are clearly not based on any historical research. That’s the thing about this book, there is plenty of action but not that much characterisation. The story moves on at a good pace and it is intriguing enough to want to continue until the end. And the ending builds quite well.

Don’t expect everything to be explained though. Sometimes I felt that there were jumps in the story where the events moved on but were handled in quite a crude, glossed over and jolting way. While a good read, it was difficult to build any real empathy for the characters.


Completed: Splinter Cell Aftermath

It has taken me 3 months to read this relatively short book. I am such a slow reader! Only in the last few weeks have I picked this up and decided to complete it by reading small excerpts every night. The book was OK, nothing too special but I wasn’t expecting anything other than a spy book with some good action in it. While it has Tom Clancy’s name on the cover, it was written by Peter Telep who seems to be a competent thriller writer, if not a greatly original one. Don’t expect any of the complexity of a Clancy book.