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17 December 2012 @ 08:46 pm

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12 January 2017 @ 11:05 am

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

Read in December 01

  1. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories – P.D. James.  Not being a big crime reader, this was my first P.D. James read.  Although it hasn’t inspired me to pick up any more of her books (I’m just not a fan of violent crime stories), I more or less enjoyed The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, with the last two stories being my favourites.
  2. Christmas Ever After – Sarah Morgan.  Although the beginning and end of this story are best described as ‘shaky’, the middle section was a really fun, will-they-won’t-they-even-though-you-know-they-will romantic romp.
  3. Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days – Jeanette Winterson.  I love the idea of pairing a short story and a recipe for each of the 12 Days of Christmas, but this was an awkward book for me.  I think a knowledge of Jeanette Winterson and her work would definitely be beneficial when reading Christmas Days, as there are many references to her family and friends, some of which read poorly without knowing Winterson’s own story.  Although the book looks gorgeous, the shadows of Winterson’s negative life experiences made it difficult for me to fully enjoy what I was reading.
  4. A Snow Garden and Other Stories – Rachel Joyce.  The seven stories in this book are connected by a woman in a red coat, who pops up in various guises in each story.  The stories vary in tone and quality and I have to admit that most of them aren’t particularly memorable.  The exception, for me, was the title story, ‘A Snow Garden’, which featured a father trying to reconnect with his sons.


Read in December 02

  1. A Boy Called Christmas – Matt Haig.  A very cute Christmas read about a boy who sets out to find his lost father, leaving behind his cruel aunt and adopting a reindeer along the way.  It packs a punch for a relatively short book, and is gorgeously illustrated throughout.
  2. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie.  Ah, Poirot, you are definitely growing on me!  On holiday in the English countryside, Poirot is called to solve a murder which took place in a room locked from the inside.  Despite the copious amounts of blood involved, this managed to be a nicely festive read.
  3. Miracle on 5th Avenue – Sarah Morgan.  Sarah Morgan’s set-ups are always a bit too unlikely for me, but that never stops me from enjoying the romances at the heart of her books.  The chalk and cheese relationship in Miracle on 5th Avenue was as much fun as you’d expect from Morgan (ie lots), and the whole thing was Christmassy to the extreme (which is a good thing, ‘natch).
  4. Let It Snow – John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle.  Three intertwined stories by three different authors.  For the most part, I enjoyed Let It Snow – it’s a light(ish), fun, Christmas read – but it hasn’t inspired me to pick up anything else by Maureen Johnson or Lauren Myracle.


Read in December 03

  1. Housekeeper Under the Mistletoe – Cara Colter.  Despite the misleading cover and title of this (only the epilogue is set at Christmas), I was pleasantly surprised when reading it.  Mills and Boons books have a reputation, shall we say, and we make fun of them a lot at work.  And yes, I could see the formula in this, but it was well written and the romance was given time to develop, rather than being being a rushed insta-love like in a lot of novels of this type.  I suspect I’ll try another Cara Colter book at some point.
  2. Christmas Term at Vernley – Margaret Biggs.  Almost nothing Christmassy happens in this book, but it was a rippingly good school story, so I forgive it!
  3. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Tom Becker et al.  A collection of short stories and poems written in support of Crisis, a charity in the UK that supports homeless people.  Given the connection with Crisis, quite a few of the stories involve displaced youths, broken families and general hard times, but the Christmas theme means that there’s still hope for everyone.  A bit of a tough read, at times, but a rewarding one.
  4. The Santa Klaus Murder – Mavis Doriel Hay.  I’m a bit torn on this, because although I mostly enjoyed it, I did feel like I had to slog through some sections to get to the good bits.  When the overbearing head of the Melbury family is murdered, everyone is a suspect.  The investigation seems laughably half-hearted at times, but clips along at a decent, fairly engrossing pace.  Unfortunately, time and time again we’re forced to read an extensive list of all the suspects and where they were at any given time (a standard part of a crime novel, but there were so many of them and they were all… a bit dull, to be honest).  So yeah, decent overall but a bit bogged down in places.


Read in December 04

  1. Snow Angel – Melanie Shawn.  Lily has a secret, because this is a romance novel and of course she does. Happily, she doesn’t fall into the ‘damaged’ category of romance heroine.  Yeah, she shies away from relationships and yeah, she gets paranoid and jumpy, but she doesn’t need a man to save her from herself which I appreciated.  The central romance in this is actually adorable (and hot), though I would appreciate it it if we could stop using dogs as a way to tell if someone is evil or not.
  2. Mistletoe Magic – Stacey Joy Netzel.  This could have been so good if it got a hold of itself and stopped being ridiculous!  A retired military man gets the hots for a mystery girl who just so happens to be running an animal sanctuary on a farm he’s recently purchased.  He flirts with a view to something else without realising that he’s about to evict her from her home.  All of that was fun, but it kept getting bogged down in drama and sadness, so in the end it was a mixed read.
  3. My Christmas Fiance – Serenity Woods.  I feel like all I do is say ‘this romance would have been really good if it had only…’ and here’s another that had great potential but got ridiculous really quickly.  First of all, why is the hero a billionaire?  He runs a company that makes games for the blind, which is nifty, but not too likely to turn you into a BILLIONaire.  And I have so many questions about the heroine’s background.  It’s set up to look like her husband hit her, but when we get the details it’s all tremendously vague.  He definitely emotionally abused her, but the impetus for her taking her son, moving across the country and changing her identity is that he hit her which… did he?  That aside, why the hell, as a married woman, are we supposed to believe that she was so sexually naive?  Okay, I’m rambling, but I liked both of the main characters in this, I liked that it was set in New Zealand, but I felt let down by set-dressing.
  4. Christmas at Carol’s – Nicola Yeager.  This is basically page after page of descriptions of different foods.  Yes, there’s a plot, but it’s incidental when compared to the author’s clear love of French food (which got a little tedious, to be honest).


Read in December 05

  1. A Christmas Homecoming – Melissa McClone.  Another billionaire.  Why are they all billlionaires??  What’s wrong with a nice guy, who floats your boat and has a normal job?  And guess what?  He’s a curmudgeonly billionaire.  Bet you didn’t see that coming! 😉  That said, I actually really enjoyed A Christmas Homecoming, mostly because the heroine was really driven and didn’t let her emotions distract her from what she wanted to achieve in life (which doesn’t sound romantic but is actually awesome).
  2. A Very Country Christmas – Zara Stoneley.  I couldn’t connect with any of the characters in this.  Look, I get the the definition of poor for formerly landed gentry is different that poor for pretty much everyone else, but if you’re poor you don’t shop in Waitrose, and you certainly don’t get drunk on booze samples and buy a dozen bottles of something fancy.  If you’re poor, there’s no money in your bank account for shenanigans like that.
  3. Santa Claude – Alex T. Smith.  The Claude books are for beginner readers and they are so adorable it almost hurts.  In this installment, Claude handcuffs a burglar, only to discover that it’s Santa Claus.  With the key to the handcuffs nowhere to be found, Christmas is suddenly in danger!  A really witty story paired with gorgeous illustrations.
  4. Unwrapping Her Perfect Match – Kat Latham.  A romance where the hero is a rugby player – yay!  Apart from the fact that the heroine had a pretty unlikely reason for her lack of self-confidence, I really enjoyed this.  Both characters were strong individuals, but they were both able to learn something from the other, and the romance made them stronger.


Read in December 06

  1. Mistletoe and Murder – Robin Stevens.  Hazel and Daisy spend Christmas at Cambridge University, with Daisy’s older brother.  Unsurprisingly, for the reader at least, they are confronted with another murder.  This is possibly my favourite Murder Most Unladylike book yet.  Hazel and Daisy continue to be wonderful,
  2. What Light – Jay Asher.  After 13 Reasons Why, this book was a disappointment.  It’s set on a Christmas tree lot over Christmas, so it fulfilled the seasonal quota, but the characters and the central relationship were a let down.  When Sierra meets Caleb she’s instantly attracted to him, but Caleb has a shady past.  Dun, dun, DUUUNNNN!!  And that’s the failing of this book.  Caleb did something bad when he was younger, but Sierra doesn’t care, so I think we’re not supposed to care, only it’s hard to follow Sierra’s logic because we’re not in insta-love with Caleb like she is.  Yeah… it was alright, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to recommend it to anyone.
  3. Must Love Mistletoe – Christie Ridgway.  Isn’t it odd how many Christmas books are about people who don’t like Christmas?  Bailey hates Christmas.  For reasons.  Those same reasons made her run away from the love of her life when she was 18.  But now she’s back in her home town and so is he.  You can see where this is going, right?  This was actually a really decent read.  Bailey charmed me from the start, and Finn’s conversion from bad-boy to wounded Secret Service Agent didn’t stretch my credulity too far ;D
05 January 2017 @ 12:35 am

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

I fell massively behind with my blogging towards the end of November, only posting about what I’d read up until November 12th.  Shame on me.  To be honest, I do love a good catch up 😀


Read in November 01

  1. Fortune’s Pawn – Rachel Bach.  Lianne at Eclectic Tales sent me a copy of this in 2015, but it sat, mockingly, on my shelves until Sci-Fi Month galvanised me to pick it up.  I found it a bit hard to get into at first, finding the narrative style a little off-putting.  I was also a bit worried that Devi, the main character, was going to veer into special snowflake territory.  When this book finally did grab me though, it REALLY grabbed me.  Suddenly everything fell into place and I loved it.  I loved Devi and her armour, I loved Rupert and his secrets, I loved the crew and their hijinks, and I wanted more, more, more (I gave it 5 stars, and out of 235 books read last year, I only gave 4 a 5 star rating, so that’s gotta say something, right?).
  2. Honour’s Knight – Rachel Bach.  The romance element moved a bit more centre stage in this installment, which I was a bit doubtful about, and I also wasn’t fully on board with the whole ‘let’s steal someone’s memories’ schtick.  BUT, the action scenes when they happened were just as awesome as they were in Fortune’s Pawn, and kept me reading, despite a few warning signs that the trilogy might be losing its way.
  3. Heaven’s Queen – Rachel Bach.  After the 5 star rating of Fortune’s Pawn and the 4 star rating of Honor’s Knight, I only gave Heaven’s Queen 3 stars.  I still feel bad about it, but this was such a disappointing end to a trilogy with amazing potential.  Look, it still has its good points, but the romance in Heaven’s Queen is ridiculous, unbelievable, and in the freaking way.  Devi also moved fully into ‘I’m the most special snowflake that has ever special snowflaked’ which really annoyed me.  I could have read book upon book about Devi Morris, kick-ass security officer aboard the Fortune’s Pawn, a ship that’s just going about its business which manages to attract trouble at every turn.  Unfortunately, we needed a massive conspiracy theory, an alien virus and the saviour of the universe.  Meh.
  4. Batgirl, Volume 3: Mindfields – Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher & Babs Tarr.  This incarnation of Barbara Gordon is totally my spirit animal <3


Read in November 02

  1. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 3 – Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now – Ryan North & Erica Henderson.  Not having read volume 2, I’ve clearly missed some important things, but I still found it easy to slip right into Squirrel Girl’s totally awesome, totally trippy world.  If you’re looking for a pick-me-up read, this is the series for you!
  2. Lost and Found – Oliver Jeffers.  I’ve seen this book around for years now, and I don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up.  Lost and Found is adorable.  A little boy finds a penguin on his doorstep and does everything he can to bring it back home.  But what is home?
  3. Rules of Summer – Shaun Tan.  This book is gorgeous – detailed, colourful, and immersive.  I’m not sure what a toddler would take away from it.   The story of the adventures two boys and their imaginations get up on their holidays, there’s a lot in it for adults, but I’m not overly convinced that a younger audience would appreciate it as much.


Read in November 03

  1. The Princess and the Pony – Kate Beaton.  READ THIS BOOK!  RIGHT NOW!!  Look at that pony, guys, how could you not want to know what it’s up to?
  2. The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man – Tom King & Gabriel Hernandez Walta.  I couldn’t connect with this at all.  It’s not badly written or illustrated, I just don’t get Vision as a character, and I was uncomfortable with the starting point of the whole story (Vision decides to build himself a loving family who seem to have free will, but only up to a point).
  3. Angel-Catbird – Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas & Tamra Bonvillain.  Easily one of the worst things I read last year.  Margaret Atwood tries to excuse her shockingly bad writing by implying that she was inspired by the pulp comics of her childhood.  No.  No, Margaret Atwood, I’m not buying it.  The story is terrible, the dialogue is terrible, the art is so close to being super sexist.  Nope, nope, nope, definitely not.
04 December 2016 @ 03:54 pm

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

You guys, I am so disorganised at the moment.  I had planned to do a final post for Sci-Fi Month on Irish Sci-Fi Authors and never actually got around to typing it up, I’m behind on commenting on all your lovely blog posts, including those from the tail end of Sci-Fi Month, there’s no food in my fridge and I genuinely don’t understand how it’s the 4th of December already.  I fly back home on the 18th, which means I have two weeks to sort myself out.  ORGANISATION IS NECESSARY!  So even though I never did that Sci-Fi Month post, and I haven’t posted my weekly reads for two (three?) weeks, here’s a Weekly Miscellany so that I can pretend to myself that I’m a little bit on track.


Added to Wishlist

Added to Wishlist 01

  1. Descender, Volume 3: Singularities – Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen.  I’m eagerly awaiting the next volume in this series, and you should be too.
  2. Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies – Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Laura Martin & Jodi Wynne.  After having mostly disliked the last run of Wonder Woman, I have high hopes for her reinvention by Greg Rucka.
  3. Chew, Volume 12: Sour Grapes – John Layman & Rob Guillory.  The final volume!!!  Definitely planning a reread of the whole series when this comes out.
  4. A House at the Bottom of a Lake – Josh Malerman.  I loved Birdbox, so I was looking forward to reading Malerman’s next book even before I clapped eyes on that cover <3


Added to Wishlist 02

  1. The Unintentional Time Traveler – Everett Maroon.  It looks like there’s a lot going on in this book and I’m curious to see if it’s as interesting as it sounds.
  2. The Last of Us – Rob Ewing.  When all the adults on an isolated Scottish island die, the surviving children are left to fend for themselves.  Yes!
  3. Agents of Dreamland – Caitlin R. Kiernan.  I really need to finish/restart Kiernan’s Wicca trilogy, but there’s no harm adding even more of her work to my wishlist in the mean time, is there?


Articles of Note


Bookmarked Recipes

25 November 2016 @ 10:00 am

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

Added to Wishlist

Added to Wishlist 01

  1. Orange Horses – Maeve Kelly.  A collection of short stories focusing on women.
  2. Memoirs of a Spacewoman – Naomi Mitchison.  I came across this when I was putting together my Scottish Sci-Fi Authors post, and I’ve been itching to read it ever since.
  3. The Long Way Back – Margot Bennett.  Another book I came across thanks to Sci-Fi Month.  The mix of colonialism and sci-fi in this has so much potential.
  4. Gloriana, or The Revolution of 1900 – Florence Dixie.  A feminist utopian novel published in 1890 <3  Happily it’s available for free here and here (both sites are packed full of interesting titles, by the way).


Added to Wishlist 02

  1. Mongrels – Stephen Graham Jones.  A werewolf story by a Native American author.
  2. The Professor in Erin – Lily McManus.  An Irish alternate history novel published in 1918 (I’m all about the vintage reads today!).
  3. A Girl Called Owl – Amy Wilson.  The combination of the cover and the tag line on this is enough to grab my attention.


Articles of Note


Bookmarked Recipes


Watching (Spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy and Project Runway)

I sprained a ligament in my foot last week, about fifteen seconds after leaving work, so I’ve spent a lot of this week lying down, trying to keep it elevated (so hard!).  I’ve done some online stuff, including most of my Christmas shopping.  I’ve been planning the things I’m going to bake for people for Christmas, and putting together my Christmas dinner plan (as previously mentioned, this will be my first time cooking Christmas dinner so it’s exciting!).  I’ve also been catching up with various television programmes.

Grey&apos;s AnatomyFirst up was Grey’s Anatomy.  I’m such a sucker for Grey’s.  I know I should abandon it, but I can’t!  I’m actually really enjoying the relationship between Meredith and Riggs, but hating the over-the-top ‘DON’T LIE TO ME AGAIN’ storyline between Meredith and Maggie.  The Alex storyline has been dealt with really well, and that cliffhanger – argh!  The thing that’s really pissed me off, though is what they’ve done with Hunt and Amelia (sidenote: props to Kevin McKidd for featuring an Iain Banks book).  Amelia realising that she doesn’t actually want to have kids is such an important storyline, but Hunt. Doesn’t. Deserve. This.  He’s gone through a version of this, and I don’t want to watch him do it again.  I thought it was hilarious though that he completely forgot the fiancee he abandoned without any kind of word when he was trying to assure Riggs that he wasn’t a good guy.

I’ve also made it half way through the second season of Dark Matter and I’m liking it so far.  I wasn’t sure where they were going to go after the end of season one, but I think they’ve handled it well.  More Nyx please, is really my only proper comment so far.

And theProject Runwayn there’s Project Runway.  As I’ve previously discussed, I love Project Runway to a possibly unhealthy level, so I was delighted to realise the new season had started and I had ten whole episodes to catch up on.  That delight increased when I saw that Dexter from Styled to Rock was in it.  What the flip is with Erin’s designs though?  The judges love her and everything she does is so… boxy.  You can get away with that to a point, but some of her looks are dreadful.  Like this one, that the judges loved but which looks like something a little girl would design.  Seriously, I feel like she only got away with it because of the fabric.  That ruffle gives me nightmares, guys.  Also, her embellishment is painfully unsubtle to me, which is maybe the point, but not something I enjoy.

Finally, I watched Virago: Changing the World One Page at a Time, which was amazing and depressing and inspirational and just brilliant.  And I’m not saying it’s on YouTube, for those of you outside the UK (it’s on the BBC iPlayer for those of you in the UK), but it totally is.  After watching it I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t own nearly enough Virago titles.

23 November 2016 @ 10:00 am

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

I’m taking inspiration from Book Week Scotland for this Sci-Fi Month post, and focusing on Scottish authors who write science-fiction.  I’m also going to plug the Book Week Scotland Reading Dare because it manages to be both fun, helpful and inspirational (one of them is ‘Go into a library and ask the person behind the counter what their favourite book is and borrow it’ and I have to say good luck with that one in certain libraries.  I never cease to be surprised at how many library staff don’t read for pleasure).  Clicking on the images below will bring you to the Goodreads page for the book or series.


Alasdair Gray

A History Maker - Alasdair GrayLanark - Alasdair GrayPoor Things - Alasdair GrayTen Tales Tall & True - Alasdair Gray








A self-described polymath, Alasdair Gray is best known for his artwork, but has written several novels (and plays and poems and everything else you can think of). Lanark has been on my to-be-read list since I moved to Scotland but I’m tempted to try one of his other novels first as they’re all far shorter.  Experimental and often beautifully illustrated, Gray’s work challenges, well, everything really.


Edwin Morgan

Where Rockets Burn Through - Russell Jones (ed.)

I didn’t realise that sci-fi poetry was a thing until I came across Edwin Morgan.  The book I’ve linked to above features sci-fi poetry from a range of UK authors as Morgan’s have never been brought together in one volume.  A sample of Where Rockets Burn Through can be downloaded here, and includes Morgan’s ‘A Question’.


Gary Gibson

The Apocalypse Duology - Gary GibsonThe Final Days Series - Gary GibsonThe Shoal Sequence - Gary Gibson









Gary Gibson is one of those authors whose books I see everywhere, yet I’ve still never read anything by him.  If I’d known how much The Apocalypse Duology sounded like Fringe, I’d have picked it up ages ago!


Grant Morrison

The Invisibles - Grant MorrisonNameless - Grant Morrison & Chris BurnhamWe3 - Grant Morrison & Frank Quietly









Grant Morrison has written a lot of sci-fi stuff involving superheroes – he just loves tinkering with alternate realities – but I’ve chosen to highlight his non-Marvel/DC work.  We3 has been on my wishlist for years so I really must make more of an effort to read it.


Iain M. Banks

The Algebraist - Iain M. BanksThe Culture Series - Iain M. Banks









Confession time: I have never read a book by Iain M. Banks.  I’ve read one book by his non-sci-fi alter-ego Iain Banks, but despite having had him on my radar for decades, I have yet to pick up one of his sci-fi titles.  I’m a bit ashamed, to be honest.


Jenni Fagan

The Panopticon - Jenni FaganThe Sunlight Pilgrims - Jenni Fagan









I can’t count the number of people who’ve told me to read The Panopticon (whose unreliable narrator makes the genre categorisation of the book iffy at best), but I somehow ended up reading The Sunlight Pilgrims (a more clear-cut sci-fi novel) first.  Given that it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, I really am going to have to pick up The Panopticon.  If only so Scottish people can stop looking appalled when I say I’ve not read it (ditto: Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory).


Julie Bertagna

The Exodus Series - Julie Bertagna









Until I started researching for this post, I hadn’t even realised that Julie Bertagna was Scottish.


Ken MacLeod

The Fall Revolution Series - Ken MacLeodThe Corporation Wars Trilogy - Ken MacLeodThe Engines of Light Series - Ken MacLeod









Continuing the trend of this post, I haven’t actually read anything by Ken MacLeod.  If I’ve learned anything putting this together, it’s that I’ve read a pathetically small amount of Scottish sci-fi.  (I’ve also learned that it’s quite difficult to get posts to look the way you want them to with WordPress, but I mostly already knew that one.)


Lisanne Norman

The Sholan Alliance Series - Lisanne Norman









This kind of sci-fi doesn’t attract me at all, but I have to admire the success of Lisanne Norman’s Sholan Alliance series.


Margot Bennett

The Long Way Back - Margot BennettThe Furious Masters - Margot Bennett









I absolutely love the sound of The Long Way Back.  Flipping British colonialism on its head is a good starting point for any story, but the way Bennett has framed her plot device here is genius.  The Furious Masters sounds like a really interesting combination of genres, but it doesn’t light my fire to quite the same degree as The Long Way Back.


Mark Millar

Chrononauts - Mark Millar & Sean Gordon MurphyJupiter&apos;s Legacy - Mark Millar & Frank QuitelyStarlight - Mark Millar & Goran Parlov









What if, after you’ve saved an alien planet from total destruction, you return home and no one believes you?  Like Grant Morrison, Mark Millar has written plenty of sci-fi tinged superhero adventures, but his original tales tend to have an interesting spin on the tropes that make up the sci-fi genre.


Michael Cobley

The Humanity&apos;s Fire Series - Michael Cobley









I’ve not read these, though I’ve seen them around.  If you’ve made it this far in the post, you won’t be surprised by that… Worst sci-fi reader ever!


Naomi Mitchison

Memoirs of a Spacewoman - Naomi MitchisonSolution Three - Naomi Mitchison









It sounds like Naomi Mitchison’s sci-fi mixes feminism and gender politics with space exploration and first contact with an alien species to fantastic (if slightly dated) effect, and I am itching to get my hands on Memoirs of a Spacewoman in particular.

19 November 2016 @ 12:13 am

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

Added to Wishlist

Added to Wishlist 0

  1. Six Wakes – Mur Lafferty.  Clones!  That’s all you need to know, surely?
  2. Chasing Embers – James Bennett.  Dragons seem to be having a bit of a moment in urban fantasy at the moment and I am all for it.
  3. The Song From Somewhere Else – A.F. Harold & Levi Pinfold.  I don’t really gravitate towards books that deal with bullying, but this sounds like a charming and beautiful take on a trope.
  4. The Secret History of Twin Peaks – Mark Frost.  The perfect way to fill time until the new series arrives.


Added to Wishlist 02

  1. Shadow Run – AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller.  This cover draws me in.  There’s not much to it but it seems to promise so much.  The blurb’s not bad either 😉
  2. New Pompeii – Daniel Godfrey.  I actually skipped right past this on a couple of blogs because I’m not a fan of the cover at all.  I mean, I see what they were going for, but it’s not a great result.  Having finally read the blurb, I’ve changed my mind completely and am now really looking forward to reading it.


Articles of Note


Bookmarked Recipes

  • Christmas Cake: We Have You Covered.  I have a confession to make – I don’t like traditional Christmas cakes.  At all.  But I really want to because I love the tradition of it, and the effort that goes in to making something non-alcoholic as alcoholic as you can possibly make it.
  • Chocolate Gingerbread Men With Candy Canes.  So cute!  Even if you don’t bake, click on the link because, seriously, they’re adorable.
16 November 2016 @ 10:00 am

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

Time loops.  I think we can all agree that they’re awesome.  Absolutely soul-destroying to be stuck in, but a joy to read about or watch and Sci-Fi Month is the perfect time to talk about them.  As always, I am more than open to recommendations for amazing time loop reads, because I really haven’t come across enough.


The Explorer - James SmytheThe Explorer – James Smythe.

Do you feel like I might have already told you to read this book?  That’s because I have, and I mean it so much I’m slotting it into two lists (Isolated in Space being the first, and now that you know that, you’re thinking ‘isolated in space AND a time loop?  Amazing!’ and you’re absolutely right to think that).  The time loop in The Explorer is not fun (for the character experiencing it), but it is clever and more than a little harrowing.



Stargate SG-1, Season 04, Episode 06: Window of OpportunityStargate SG-1, Season 04, Episode 06: Window of Opportunity.

When Stargate Command gets caught in a time loop, only Jack and Teal’c are aware of what’s happening.  Working to free themselves, they’re forced to learn an alien language, but as the ten hour loop repeats itself over, and over, and over again, they find it harder and harder to focus on what they should be doing.  Easily my favourite episode of Stargate SG-1, ‘Window of Opportunity’ is both hilarious and dark as fuck.  Familiar characters are given the opportunity to act without repercussions, but it’s made clear that reliving the same ten hour period over and over is not all fun and games.


Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (Series) – Ransom Riggs.Miss Peregrine&apos;s Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

On an island off the coast of Wales, Jacob stumbles across an abandoned orphanage that turns out not to be as abandoned as it seems.  The time loop in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is interesting because it exists to save a group of children with special powers from a monster than wants to consume them.  There are only a few people who can create time loops, and each loop is completely different in setting, but the same in that it traps the children in one day where their bodies can never grow older.  For me the time loops, and the ymbryne’s that create them, were the most interesting part of a series that had a lot of potential, but ultimately lost it’s way.


(A Town Called) Eureka, Season 03, Episode 04: I Do Over(A Town Called) Eureka, Season 03, Episode 04: I Do Over.

Global Dynamics have a time maintenance guy, because of course they do, and it’s finally his time to shine!  Another heart-breaking time loop with brilliant comedic moments, this one sees Sheriff Jack Carter come to realise that something time-related has gone wrong on the day that the woman he loves marries the man he sort of hates.  As Jack relives the day, and a Dr Who joke repeats itself to great effect in the background, the only possible solution seems darker and darker.  (A Town Called) Eureka messes with time so deliciously in so many episodes, by the way, guys.


Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver.Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

I’ve not read this one yet, but it sounds like it ticks a lot of boxes for me.  A teenager is killed in a car crash and relives the day of death over and over, but is it so she can save herself or someone else?  I’ve enjoyed the two books that I have read by Lauren Oliver (Delirium and Rooms), and I’ve seen Before I Fall described as Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls, so that’s a yes, please from me!



Supernatural, Season 03, Episode 11: Mystery SpotSupernatural, Season 03, Episode 11: Mystery Spot.

Dean dies.  A lot.  And, for once, it’s nothing to do with the war between heaven and hell.  ‘Mystery Spot’, like the best time loop episodes, is laugh out loud funny at first but it rapidly ditches this in favourite of a horrifying darkness.  Try to watch this episode without getting ‘Heat of the Moment’ stuck in your head – I dare you!




Honourable book mentions go to The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North and All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

Honourable television mentions go to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 05, Episode 18: Cause and Effect, The X-Files, Season 06, Episode 14: Monday and Charmed, Season 01, Episode 22: Deja Vu All Over Again.

Honourable movie mentions go to Groundhog Day (‘natch) and Timecrimes/Los Cronocrimenes.

13 November 2016 @ 10:00 am

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

I unexpectedly met my Goodreads reading challenge goal of 200 books this week.  Go me!  I read 211 books in 2015, though, so I still have something to beat.


Ghosts - Raina TelgemeierGhosts – Raina Telgemeier.

A wonderful story about family, illness and loss.  Catrina and her family move to a new town that has an unusual connection with ghosts.  While Maya, Catrina’s younger sister is determined to actually speak to a ghost, Catrina is determined to keep them away from her family at all costs.  If this had been a ghost story that had really been about the fear of losing a sister, I would have unreservedly loved this book.  The ghosts, however, are connected to the town through the Day of the Dead, which made things a little more complicated.  It’s difficult for me to judge how Telgemeier dealt with this particular aspect of the book, though I felt uncomfortable with it at times, but there are a lot of reviews that accuse her of a lack of accuracy.  Definitely a read with positives and negatives, this one.


Space Dumplins - Craig ThompsonSpace Dumplins – Craig Thompson.

With humanity split between the haves and the have-nots, Violet and her parents are very much have-nots.  That doesn’t bother Violet though, she’s too busy making friends and learning how to fly spaceships.  When her father goes missing and his employers claim to have never even heard of him, Violet sets out to save him.  This is a ridiculously fun romp through a richly imagined universe, with some important things to say about family and friendship.  Although aimed at kids, the story is still pretty complex and the humour is pretty wide-ranging (there are a lot of jokes about poo, as seems to be the norm in children’s literature these days, but some of them are actually funny).


Supergirl, Volume 4: Beyond Good and Evil - Kelley Puckett & Drew JohnsonSupergirl, Volume 4: Beyond Good and Evil – Kelley Puckett & Drew Johnson.

It’s never ideal to jump into a story four volumes in, but even taking that into account, Beyond Good and Evil doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The story telling is choppy, rushing from a to c without stopping at the really important point of b.  It opens on a story that could have had a lot of emotional resonance – Kara looks at flashes of Kal-El’s life and begins to understand what it was like for him growing up on Earth.  Sadly, Kara doesn’t get much time to process what she’s seen, being confined to making faces in the background.  We then skip to her apartment, where Superman asks her to do something and, even though the artwork (and dialogue) completely fail to indicate this to the reader, she fails.  I’m still not sure how she failed.  But it’s bad, and she’s a bad superhero.  Something she underlines by saving a boy from a burning building the wrong way.  You’ll have guessed by now that I did not love this TPB.


Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Volume 1 - Brian Michael Bendis & Sara PichelliUltimate Comics Spider-Man, Volume 1 – Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli.

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to reading the origin story of Miles Morales aka Spider-Man, and it definitely lived up to the hype.  When Miles is bitten by a spider, he gains new super-powers.  Which is cool and all, but what the hell is a kid at grade school supposed to do with super-powers?  The core of the story is Miles’ struggle with himself as he deals with his new abilities, and it’s really deftly handled.  The origin of the spider sets up a nice B-story with the potential to run for a long time, and the elephant in the room that is Peter Parker is fully embraced.  Miles himself is an awesome kid, and his supporting cast are admirably diverse (and fun!).  I totally get why people keep campaigning for a Miles Morales movie now, and I want one too.


Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man, Volume 1: Revival - Brian Michael Bendis & David MarquezMiles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man, Volume 1: Revival – Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez.

This was a two year jump into the future after Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Volume 1 which took a bit of adjustment.  As did the fact that Peter Parker seemed to come back.  I’m assuming that the comics really did bring Peter back (an idea I’m not sure I’m on board with) but in this volume no one’s really sure if it’s him which leads to the funniest two page spread I’ve read in a while – clone!!!!  There’s so much Peter Parker in this TPB, but it’s still very much a Miles Morales story.  Phew.


Snowpiercer, Volume 1: The Escape - Jacques Lob & Jean-Marc RochetteSnowpiercer, Volume 1: The Escape – Jacques Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette.

I don’t know what to say about this really.  I did not enjoy it.  At all.  In an Earth that’s permanently frozen, a train runs on a track, never slowing, never stopping, keeping the last of humanity alive.  Okay, you might think, that sounds interesting.  And you’re right, it does sound interesting.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t make a single bit of sense.  We get a throwaway reference to Snowpiercer originally have been planned as a luxury train for rich people, but nothing that explains the construction of an endless track, or the addition of quite so many carriages.  Inside the train, society is strictly divided, with the rich living comfortable lives in the front carriages, and the poor living desperate lives in the rear carriages.  One passenger manages to escape from the rear carriages, which is where our story starts.  He won’t go back, which is where our story ends.  In between we get lots of nonsensical plot, poor dialogue and horrifying examples of misogyny.  There are no women in positions of power on Snowpiercer, but it’s okay because there are lots of naked women doing whatever the rich passengers at the front of the train want.  Even our heroine, who’s supposed to be a political activist, strips off almost immediately when locked in a room with the hero.  I gave this two stars on Goodreads, but I’m seriously considering downgrading it.


Snowpiercer, Volume 2: The Explorers - Benjamin Legrand & Jean-Marc RochetteSnowpiercer, Volume 2: The Explorers – Benjamin Legrand & Jean-Marc Rochette.

With a different writer than Volume 1, I was hoping for a plot that made a little bit more sense and a whole lot less misogyny.  I was disappointed.  For some reason we move to a second train that knew Snowpiercer was there (though Snowpiercer thought it was alone) but still managed to crash into it.  So the train is now half Snowpiercer and half Icepiercer, but still subject to exactly the same societal structure as Snowpiercer.  Okay.  Our hero this time is an ‘Explorer’, someone who is sent outside the train to forage for goods during scheduled stops (which are a thing now).  The explorer storyline had potential, but instead we’re treated to a rehash of the plot of the the first volume that somehow makes even less sense than the first.  Avoid.


Through the Woods - Emily CarrollThrough the Woods – Emily Carroll.

This has been recommended to me by so many people since it came out, so I almost jumped for joy when the library finally got a copy in.  And it’s so freaking good.  SO GOOD.  A compilation of short stories, it’s deliciously creepy, unsettling, lyrical, beautiful and sinister.  There was one story that I didn’t love as much as the others, but the book was so good overall that I don’t even really care.  I want more, so much more of this type of work!


Superman/Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Power Couple - Charles Soule & Tony S. DanielSuperman/Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Power Couple – Charles Soule & Tony S. Daniel.

I’ve not read widely in The New 52, but what I have read has been pretty subpar.  I hate this version of Wonder Woman.  I hate the inclusion of the Greek Gods.  None of it works for me.  I’ve never particularly been a fan of Superman, and this version has done little to change my mind.  And then we have the relationship.  Wonder Woman and Superman?  Really?  Charles Soule has to contort himself and the characters all over the place to try to get this particular dynamic to work and I’m not sure he pulls it off.  There are some interesting moments, but nothing that made me buy into the concept of Clark loves Diana forever.

12 November 2016 @ 09:39 pm

Originally published at InsanitySandwich.com. You can comment here or there.

Added to Wishlist

Added to Wishlist 01

  1. Not Just Jane: Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature – Shelley DeWees.  While I’m really interested in reading this, I’m a bit peeved that all seven are English in a book that talks about ‘British’ literature.  There were no women of note from Scotland, Wales or Ireland writing in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Apparently.
  2. The Avalon Chronicles, Volume 1: Once in a Blue Moon – Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir & Emma Vieceli.  Being a massive fan of DeFilippis and Weir’s run on New X-Men: Academy X, I could resist picking up volume two of The Avalon Chronicles when I saw it on sale recently (for £1!!).  I’m thinking it might be nice to read the first volume too, though 😉
  3. Snowed – Maria Alexander.  Look at that cover.
  4. Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh.  A Mulan retelling!


Added to Wishlist 02

  1. Necrotech – K.C. Alexander.  I’ve not really read a lot of cyberpunk sci-fi, but this looks like the perfect book to change that with.
  2. To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis.  A ‘delightful romantic comedy’ that’s a homage to Three Men in a Boat and it’s sci-fi.
  3. Waking Gods – Sylvain Neuvel.  Really looking forward to this one after the cliffhanger at the end of the first book.
  4. Wires and Nerve – Marissa Meyer & Douglas Holgate.  Iko from The Lunar Chronicles in her own graphic novel spin-off.  Sounds like fun to me!


Added to Wishlist 03

  1. The Refrigerator Monologues – Catherynne M. Valente & Annie Wu.  This sounds absolutely amazing.  Why is fridging still a thing?  Get some better ideas, comic book writers!
  2. Shadowed Souls – Jim Butcher & Kerrie L. Hughes (eds).  It feels like forever since we’ve had a new Dresden Files book, so hopefully the Molly Carpenter short story in this will keep me going for a bit longer.
  3. Certain Dark Things – Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  Mixing vampire lore with the Aztecs is a spin on the genre I’ve not come across before, and one with excellent potential.
  4. Pitch Dark – Courtney Alameda.  It’s like someone read my Isolated in Space post and wrote a book with all my favourite things <3


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