Johnny and the Bomb

Terry Pratchett

johnny-and-the-bomb-largeThe final Johnny Maxwell book finds Johnny and his friends find themselves travelling to 1941 thanks to the contents of bag lady Mrs Tachyon's shopping trolley and caught up in events as German planes bomb their home town.
Pratchett has a lot of fun playing with time travel paradoxes and the trappings of war time provincial Britain.
I first reviewed this back in 2003 and as then I think it's just a very good book.
Very much recommended.

Rating: A-



The Royal We

Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

heather-cocks-jessica-morgan-theroyalweThis is a soapy romance novel telling the story of an American exchange student who falls in love with a future British King.
Basically it's an AU version of the courtship of the Cambridges.
This book has been really popular with one of my online communities. Honestly I didn't really enjoy it very much. I'm guessing it plays better if you're American and have a really romanticized version of Royalty in your head.
I have no romantic notions regarding the Royals and very limited sympathy for them.
If you like a competently written contemporary romance about royals then this might be for you.

Rating: C+



Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Alan Dean Foster

force awakensThe novelization of the latest Star Wars tale is a very enjoyable translation of a very enjoyable film.
As with all books of this type there's a few things that make it into the book from the script that didn't end up in the finished film. They're pretty minor in this case for the most part but still worth checking out if you're hungering for more after seeing the film
Recommended for fans of the film.

Rating: B+



Johnny and the Dead

Terry Pratchett

johnny and the deadThe second Johnny Maxwell book finds him living with his grandfather. His new short cut home takes him through the local cemetery.
This is a sweet tale of community activism and as least as much about how the living need the memory of their dead as about the fate those who have died.
Everything that makes Pratchett a great writer is in this book - his humanity, empathy, wit and intelligence.
I will repeat myself once again - everybody should read Pratchett.

Rating: A-


2015 Albums of the Year

Ones And Sixes


2Julia Holter
Have You In My Wilderness


3Susanne Sundfør
Ten Love Songs


No Cities To Love








Y Dydd Olaf


9My Morning Jacket
The Waterfall


10Gaz Coombes


11Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

12The Decemberists
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Till It's All Forgotten

14Unknown Mortal Orchestra

15John Grant
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

16New Order
Music Complete

Sun Coming Down

18Wolf Alice
My Love Is Cool

19Patty Griffin
Servant Of Love

20The Unthanks
Mount The Air

This year I found it very hard to choose between the top three choices - they are all SO good. In the end took the easy option I went with the order of most listens on
Choosing albums to go on the list beyond the top dozen on so was also quite difficult. I added 1771 tracks to my iTunes library in 2015 and giving all that music the attention it deserved to make album of the year choices was basically impossible. I'm happy with the list as it stands but it took a concerted effort in the last few weeks of the year to be able to make my choices.

I think I only attended a couple of gigs this year. The Ex were great at Summerhall, but I had to leave early due to toothache. Low were similarly great at the Glasgow School of Art but it was spoiled by the guy who talked non-stop through the first half of the gig.

My favourite new-to-me track of the year was Kamikaze by Susanne Sundfør.
My most listened to track was Lies by Low


2015 Audiobooks

This year I discovered downloadable library audiobooks and I also had an Audible membership that helped to expand my audiobook listening.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller narrated by Trevor White Rated A
An award winning satire of World War II this classic picaresque novel is superbly read by Trevor White. I've read this book twice previously and I got very different things from it each time. This time I really started to feel overwhelmed by the horror it all. The war, the insane bureaucracy, the corruption, and the abuse of civilians are all portrayed with vicious black humour but that doesn't rob it of any of it's power.

Dead Girl Walking by Chris Brookmyre narrated by Angus King and Kate Bracken rated A
Solid Jack Parlabane novel with the narration lifting it to greater levels. Bracken in particular is just brilliant narrating the diary entries of a naive Shetland violist thrust into the spotlight when she becomes a member of an upcoming band on their European tour.

Agent To The Stars by John Scalzi narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Reviewed before

Redshirts by John Scalzi narrated by Wil Wheaton
Reviewed before

The following titles were borrowed from the library. I've got some more promising titles to try out in 2016 than these less than impressive efforts.

The CEO's Accidental Bride by Barbara Dunlop narrated by Laurence Bouvard rated C-
While the narration is decent (and the lead male sounds uncannily like Ashley Clement's Darcy voice from The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet) the book is just awful.

Billionaire's Contract Engagement by Maya Banks narrated by Harry Berkeley rated C-
I love "Fake Married" stories (this being a fake fiancee tale) but this is just painful.

Bride, Bought And Paid For by Helen Bianchin narrated by Susan Lyons rated D
Author can't write for toffee. Also the happy ending makes no sense given the messed up forced marriage

The Tycoon Takes A Wife by Catherine Mann narrated by Harry Berkeley rated C-
It's a terribly weak story with utterly forgettable narration doing nothing to help matters.

Bossman's Baby Scandal by Catherine Mann narrated by Harry Berkeley rated C-
Again it's a terribly weak story with utterly forgettable narration doing nothing to help matters.


2015 Books

I read quite a few books this year - thankfully without the same compulsive need to escape into fiction that I felt in 2014. There's still a fair amount of feel-good romances in this list (including my first proper foray into historical romance) but it's better balanced out with works from other genres than I managed last year.

  1. Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery, rated C+
  2. Search For Senna by K.A. Applegate, rated B-
  3. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson, rated B+
  4. Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire, rated B
  5. Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis, rated C
  6. Double Trouble by Deborah Cooke, rated C-
  7. The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie, rated B
  8. Indexing by Seanan McGuire, rated B
  9. Sex, Lies & Online Dating by Rachel Gibson, rated C
  10. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger, rated B
  11. A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger, rated B
  12. Pawn Of Prophecy by David Eddings, rated C+
  13. Queen Of Sorcery by David Eddings, rated C+
  14. Magician's Gambit by David Eddings, rated C+
  15. Castle Of Wizardry by David Eddings, rated C+
  16. Enchanter's End Game by David Eddings, rated C+
  17. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, rated B+
  18. Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare, rated C+
  19. Hired Bride by Noelle Adams, rated C
  20. Stripping The Billionaire by Noelle Adams, rated C
  21. A Hero At The End Of The World by Erin Claiborne, rated B+
  22. Love Handles by Gretchen Galway, rated C
  23. Armada by Ernest Cline, rated B-
  24. From This Moment On by Bella Andre, rated C
  25. The Duchess War by Courtney Milan, rated B
  26. A Kiss For Midwinter by Courtney Milan, rated B-
  27. The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan, rated B
  28. The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan, rated B
  29. The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan, rated B
  30. Talk Sweetly To Me by Courtney Milan, rated B-
  31. A Night To Surrender by Tessa Dare, rated B-
  32. Long Way Home by Neve Cottrell, rated C
  33. A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare, rated B-
  34. Trade Me by Courtney Milan, rated B-
  35. Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer, rated B-
  36. A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire, rated A-
  37. The Martian by Andy Weir, rated A
  38. Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron, rated B+
  39. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, rated A-
  40. First & Then by Emma Mills, rated B
  41. Lock in by John Scalzi, rated B+
  42. The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey, rated A
  43. The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts, rated C
  44. Sleigh Bells In The Snow by Sarah Morgan, rated C+
  45. Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan, rated C
  46. Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan, rated C+
  47. What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, rated B-
  48. Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett, rated A-



Only You Can Save Mankind

Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save MankindThis is the first of the Johnny Maxwell young adult series and the first of Terry Pratchett's books I've been able to read since his death.
I stayed over at my parents on Christmas Eve and I woke up early on Christmas morning before dawn. As I sat, slightly cold, watching the sun rise over the Forth I borrowed this ebook from Edinburgh Overdrive.
I first read it a long time ago before this blog existed and never again since I started keeping a record of my reading.
This short book retains all of Pratchett's humour, insight, and empathy while squarely viewing the world from a the perspective of a twelve year old boy.
I don't want to spend a lot of time on the plot of this one - I just want to recommend it.
Everyone should read Terry Pratchett. If the fantasy trappings of Discworld are putting you off this is as good a place to start as any.

Rating: A-



What I Did For Love

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

what i did for loveThis is an exemplary piece of Fake Marrieds romantic fiction. I read it last year during my great glut of romance reading but I didn't give it more than a rating then.
This is the story of a former teen TV comedy star whose recent divorce from the biggest male star in Hollywood has caused the paparazzi to make her life hell. After a night out in Las Vegas she wakes up married to her hated (and washed up) former co-star. Despite their mutual loathing they stay together for the sake of her image and his bank balance. Of course real feelings turn up along the way.
This book coasts along brilliantly until the weird section with the quarantine lockdown. From there to the happy denouement there are some really ugly bits that very nearly spoil the book.
Still recommended if you, like me, have a thing for the Fake Married trope.

Rating: B-



Snow Crystal Trilogy

Sarah Morgan

sleigh bells in the snowThis is a competent trilogy of romances set in remote ski resort, both in winter and summer. Individually they tell the story of the three brothers (two of whom are twins) who own the resort as they fall in love with various degrees of reluctance.
The best part about the books is the brothers' crazy family.
The summer book is a bit weaker than the other two as it lacks a satisfying resolution to a key subplot. It gets and individual rating of C. The other two books share the collective rating of C+.

Rating: C+