babelfish?

Don’t Panic

Neil Gaiman

In this highly entertaining biography (a young) Neil Gaiman profiles the life of Douglas Adams with a particular emphasis on the many versions of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
Features interviews with Adams himself and many of his collaborators over the years. Also includes unused snippets of TV and radio scripts, the original pitches for Hitch-Hiker’s and more.
Gently aping Adam’s style Gaiman manages to make all of this into a very enjoyable package.
I wouldn’t recommend buying it at anything more than cover price but it’s worth the read.

Rating: B+

trolleys?

Reaper Man

Terry Pratchett

The second book in the Death sequence.
This is a solid Pratchett – funny, clever and very enjoyable – but not quite as impactful or as perfect as his later masterpieces but quickly building from the more parodical early works.
The biggest surprise on this re-read is how many of the little details tie into overall Discworld canon in later books.
As always I encourage anyone to start reading the man’s books. Not only are they bloody great reads – they’ll also give you an insight into the human condition that we all sorely need.
On a personal note: I’m slightly stunned to realize that I’ve never reviewed this book for the blog in all 17 years of the blog’s existence. Like all the Pratchett books I’ve read it multiple times before but I guess since it came out in 1991 these were all pre-blog.
It’s also the case that I’ve been revisiting the Pratchett oeuvre via audiobook rather than from my battered old books these last couple of years thanks to Edinburgh City Libraries & Audible.
Also a note on my rating system and the wonky idiosyncratic beast it has become over the years…

Rating: B+

twisted?

Traveller in Black

John Brunner

This collection of novellas is a fantasy work by an author better known for his science fiction.
In each story a powerful and anomalous being (the eponymous traveller in black) makes a journey around the cities in his domain and attempts to tip the universe ever further away from chaos and towards order.
These are densely written tales that seem incredibly apt given out current insane political climate.
Not the easiest read but it is short and repays the bit of effort required handsomely. I loved that it’ll give you a different take on the phrase “As you wish”.

Rating: B+

surgery?

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Aminah Mae Safi

Superior teen romance.
As the author admits this tale is heavily inspired by fanfic in which Rory Gilmore and Paris Geller end up together.
It’s a hugely enjoyable and incredibly fluffy tale about two people protecting themselves from the world by pretending to be not quite who they really are.
I finished it and immediately and went back into it to re-read the best bits. I suspect this is a future comfort read.

Rating: A-

stan?

This Is Uncool

Garry Mulholland

In this collection of reviews Mulholland picks the best singles from Punk to the Milennium.
Of course this is a highly subjective thing but writes persuadingly on the worth of Pop in general and specifically on critically derided musical genres like Disco.
I vehemently disagreed with some of his opinions (mainly about your more earnest 80’s rock acts) but learned enough to want to listen to a whole lot of music that I’d never even thought of checking out before.
It’s super cheap right now second hand but for the sake of your wrists don’t buy the hardback like I did!
If it matters I bought this because it came highly recommended by Kieron Gillen.

Rating: B+

family?

Rainy Day Friends

Jill Shalvis

Lanie starts a new job at a family run winery. Very vulnerable after the death of her cheating husband she’s deliberately avoiding relationships but with a bickering family and fellow new arrival River she finds herself making new bonds that could be the best thing or worst thing to happen to her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written and paced romance. The characters were all entertaining and believably drawn by the standards of contemporary romance.

Rating: B+

tank?

Head On

John Scalzi

This is the sequel to Lock In which set up a near future world where an illness called Haden’s Syndrome has left a significant percentage of the population locked into their physical bodies and only able to experience the world remotely via robot proxies.
The lead character is once again Haden FBI agent Chris Shane.
This one is set in the world of the fast-growing and ulraviolent Haden sport of Hilketa.
When a player dies in a pre-season match Shane and their partner uncover a web of lies that goes all the way to the heart of the sport.
As always Scalzi’s prose is easy to read and designed to draw you in. It’s a fast-paced ride of a read rather than something designed for depth.

Rating: B+

coop?

Lost and Found Sisters

Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis writes very enjoyable romance novels. She rarely writes a dud and while they’re not particularly memorable they are so much fun while you’re reading them.
This particular story follows Quinn – still reeling from the loss of her sister Beth.
In swift succession she learns she’s adopted, that her birth mother has died from cancer and that she has a teenage sister.
It’s got great female relationships and a half-decent romance.
Definitely worth checking out if you’re into contemporary romance.

Rating: B+