Books read 2022

JUN:

  • “Essay’s by HP Lovecraft- vol5” -S.T.Joshi/Lovecraft.

Random essays by the great man himself. Most are rubbish but it passed the time.  4/10

  • “The man from P.I.G and R.O.B.O.T” – H.Harrison

This was, I think, the first real book I ever read as a wide eyed 8 year old in Stoke Newington library. At the time I thought I was proper grown up and this book helped open a door into many other new and fantastical worlds. Sadly, re-reading this book I realized its very dated and actually even when first released back in 1974, not very good. A trip down memory lane that I wont want to be revisiting! 3/10

  • “Alan Moore’s Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths” – Various.

This one is a very strange one! Comprising of bits and pieces of stuff dug out of Mr. Moore’s filing cabinet; a poem here, a forgotten comic strip there, various interviews over the years, some other stuff from other people etc all jumbled together, and while on the whole it’s somewhat entertaining, it’s very stop-start going due to the scrap book nature of it all. Its good but will always just be a curio.  5/10

  • “I am Providence – part 2” -S.T.Joshi.

Much better! Much more interesting and essential if you’re into HP, kinda sad also he had a hard life that H.P.  6/10

 

  • “High Cotton” -J.R.Lansdale.

A large collection of short stories by Mr L stretching way way back to the infancy of his writing career. A real mixed bag here. Some are good, some not so, some are funny, some are very dark. Some are terrible, on the whole worth reading however as there are a real couple of crackers in it. 6/10

MAY:

  • “I am Providence – part 1” -S.T.Joshi.

The first part of HP Lovecraft’s biography. I have to say, it’s a bit dry. Probably because HP himself was a bit dry and although an intelligent and capable intellectual, the brief life he led was fairly stiff and limited. Hoping part 2 is more interesting.  4/10

  • “Modern C++ for Absolute Beginners” -S.Dmitrovic.

A brief yet useful book, it gives you just enough to understand what’s going on without extra words and waffle. So its very much a go-to to grasp a new concept (containers in modern C++ were all new to me!) however, this may also work against you sometimes, because due to the minimal accompanying text, you may need to really analyse the source code and examples to grok it. Really helped me this one.  7/10

 

APR:

  • “Shiver” – J.Ito

A collection of some chilling Japanese manga stories. Some are okay, a couple are good, most are weird, can pass a hour or two.  4/10

  • “A Study in Emerald” – N.Gaiman

Mr Gaiman’s take on combining Cthulhu mythos and Sherlock Holmes together. I found it pretty dire stuff, there was the seed of a good story here if it was handled better. I feel Gaiman lost his verse some 2 or 3 decades back and is just shovelling around nowadays trying to reclaim it. 2/10

  • “Bojefferies Saga” – A.Moore

A lesser known work, its almost like a grown up version of Beano or Dandy. Its okay and funny in some parts (its meant to be funny!), but definitely stand out. 4/10

  • “Spiderman: Untold Tales” – K.Busiek.

This is interesting in that its a modern writing effort but set during the 1960s and Spideys first outings. So the artwork and writing is like a throw back style to a bygone age. The writing back in those days was very verbose and that’s very much the case here with Mr.Busiek adopting a now antiquated style, however it works! It’s actually a lot more fun than reading some of the latest stuff out there now. An enjoyable experience. 6/10

  • “Bankside” -D.Brandon & A.Brooke.

A history of the SE1 area from Waterloo bridge to London Bridge. Starting from Roman times to the present day, its gone some good anecdotes and a very high-fly history of my favourite part of London. Its okay, but its a tad on the dry side and not something I’d refer to again.  4/10

 

  • “Mr Wonderful” – D.Clowes

Another Clowes story, its one I read maybe 10 years ago (maybe even before then!) and I will still love it. Great story if you are a 40 something and single (I was back then!) 8/10

  • “Flake” – M.Dooley

An absolutely fantastic and very British graphic novel. One of the best I’ve read, great art, great writing. The best British bit of work since Rachael Ball and Inflatable Woman. 10/10

  • “David Boring” – D.Clowes

Another Clowes story and oddly quite similar in terms of theme to Velvet Glove, however, a far weaker plot and directionless. One that can easily be avoided. 2/10

  • “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron” – D.Clowes

Really interesting graphic novel on obsession and weirdness! I am thinking Mr Clowes strongest work alongside Patience. 7/10

  • “Here” – R.McGuire

Ridiculous and plotless piece of work with terrible art. Untold buyer’s remorse from me. Worse thing I’ve touched thus far in 2022. Avoid this crap! 1/10

MAR:

 

  • “John Constantine, Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary” -Various 

I used to collect Hellblazer comics in the early 90s and it was okay but I couldnt really recall from memory any standout stories. So I bought this which is a mish mash of alleged best stories over the past 30 years and had a read through. I was underwhelmed. I recalled a couple of the stories that I have read back in the 1990s and while they were okay, they were just okay, as a character and various stories, its sort of the same old, same old and not as interesting or plot twisting in the way that say the Lucifer comic was back then. Nostalgia bit me on the bum here. Its not something I’d revisit 2/10.

  • “Dore’s London” -G.Dore.

An exploration of London with art work from the 1870s. Its a oft cited work, I’ve seen it mentioned in Jack Londons People of the Abyss and also in a HP Lovecraft story, so clearly it had a large impact at the time. Dore is an artistic genius I believe the illustrations were all carvings and they really capture the mood and grime of Victorian London. The accompanying text however is poor. If only it had been twinned with Hippolyte Taine, whose own text regarding London in “Notes on England” at around the same time, would have enhanced this into a must read. As such, you can pretty much ignore all the text completey and just drink in the marvellous art work. This is a hard to find book, as the modern reproductions are all scanned in and apparently there is a considerable loss in quality and detail, I found a 2nd hand copy from 1980 from the USA in which the detail was still there.  6/10

 

  • “People of the abyss” -J.London.

An exploration of Londons East End in 1902. Its a bit of an anachronism this one because the poverty stricken streets mentioned in the book are now millionaires pads. Its interest on some levels to see just how hard done by a large cross section of the population was but theres not enough of these interactions with the locals and the later part of the book gets too statistic driven. As a historical item, if you’re interested in this its okay, but theres other better examples of it. Down and Out by Orwell for example I felt was a more superior read. It did make me wish I had a time machine and I could back 120 years and see it all with my own eyes.  3/10

  • “Tales of Mystery and Madness” – E.A.Poe.

Having really read much Poe I decided on this entry level version. It has 5 of his most famous tales I guess and they are okay, he certainly has his own particular style with his blending of what I would now consider unusual words. Not bad, not great however, I will continue to stick to him however and go through his catalogue. 5/10

  • “The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life” -P.Godfrey-Smith.

An intelligent and thought provoking book covering philosophical areas such as “what is intelligence?” blending this in and around the study of cephalopods. It starts well, but the last 2/3’s of this book I found a chore and very dull. It was an exercise in patience to keep pushing to the end. 2/10

  • “On a knife’s edge”- P.Buttar.

A really well written (using 1st hand accounts) of the Eastern front. Its so well written you can taste the cordite and tank fumes. Total historical document for only the true history buffs  8/10

  • “The Moscow Option”- D.Downing.

Another alt. reality book going into some detail about if Germany had pushed towards Moscow in August 1941 and not instead towards Kiev. Its interesting conjecture and the end result is still the same in that the Axis still loses. So the actual decisions within the USSR werent the problem, the problem was there was no way the Axis could take on the USSR when it was being supplied with the US and UK. The end result was always defeat. Well written with a nice fictional style prose and engaged me for a few nights.  7/10

FEB:

  • “A Guide to ZX Spectrum Adventure Games – 1982 – 1985”- S. McClure.

A fun little trip down memory lane with the author giving his views on various ZX Spectrum games from yore. Its okay. Its a slice of nostalgia but nothing here that really got me particularly excited, probably because I had my own views and memories on each of the games reviewed. For the die-hard spectrum fan only.  5/10

  • “A Guide to ZX Spectrum Adventure Games – 1985 – 1986”- S. McClure.

The next one along. Seemed a bit more relevant and I recall playing many of these games. Still not a great read however, more a case of looking at a grainy B&W photo and thinking “I kinda remember that one”.  5/10

  • “A Guide to ZX Spectrum Adventure Games – 1982 – 1984”- S. McClure.

See above. Exactly the same but with a poorer selection of games (the early years werent good as the programmers were still learning their craft and skills, hence a point drop. 4/10

  • “Alternate decisions of WW2”- P.Tsouras.

A historical what if. Kinda a good read but you really need to know your WW2 before venturing into this one.  6/10

  • “Alternate decisions of WW2 : Victorious”- P.Tsouras.

A slightly better and better researched gig that the previous volume.  7/10

  • “Barbarossa Through German Eyes”- J.Trigg.

An absorbing and very interesting read on the Eastern Front 1941. Very well put together. Really enjoyed this one as its so professionally done and offering something different on the very very many other books on this topic. 8/10.

  • “Paradise Sky” – J.Lansdale.

A western yarn from Mr Lansdale and its a rip roaring one written in the style of a penny story. Its very funny and based on real life cowboy Nat Love. Its starts well but dips later on probably because it weighs in at close to 400 pages, could easily have been edited down to 250. None the less, the best of its kind that I’ve read. 7/10

  • “Half a King” – J.Abercrombie.

I read this years ago and was disappointed because it was YA fiction and not up to the authors usual verve, but re-reading it in the mindset of a young teen, it has a lot to offer, its a good tale, and while pretty generic it coasts along at a nice pace. 7/10

  • “Catching the big fish”- D.Lynch.

Am a big fan of Mr Lynch and this is a collection of snippets of his thoughts on various stuff such as work ethic, ideas, just general musings really. Its okay, but nothing amazing and you really need to be a fan before you even pick it up. 5/10.

  • “The Labyrinth” – S.Stalenhag.

The author/artist has come a long way since his “Tales from the loop” which was amazing, however somewhere along the way I think he thought he was a better writer than he was an artist, he isnt, and thus thats why this book fails. The art isnt as good as his previous efforts and he’s trying to write more and do less art, the result is a disaster. Its a dark tale that isnt as attractive as his past works. Disappointing. 2/10.

 

JAN:

  • “Battlemage” – S. Aryan.

Last year when I read a book by this author where I was suitably impressed that I thought I would try his back catalogue. So I had high hopes, unfortunately, clearly the author was still learning his craft when he wrote this work and its not up to the same standard as his “The Coward” Its a pretty formulaic and predictable grim dark fantasy. Easily forgettable and there wasn’t enough here to make me want to continue with this series. 3/10

  • “Legion of the Damned” – S. Hassel.

The alleged life history of Mr.Hassel during WW2, now heavily outed as a bullshitter of the highest order but nevertheless something I have been wanting to read for some time. Written in the 1st person perspective it chronicles his life in the German army during the eastern front but clearly its all invented as his job is a tanker is very air brushed plus lies at considerable length of how he was able to break out of a Soviet labour camp not once but twice as a captured German soldier. Pure invention. Maybe was hard hitting back in the 1950s but nowadays its something that be avoided. 1/10.

  • “Batman Earth one. Vol 3” -G. Johns 

A reimaging of the usual Batman stories and presenting a new twist to some classic villains. For example, 2-face is a woman, Killer Croc isnt a bad guy and actually help Bats, Alfred the butler is a nasty piece of work. Etc etc. Sadly, just didnt work for me. 3/10.

  • “Eraserhead” – Ken Godwin.

A set of interviews with the director and cast & crew of Eraserhead luckily it was done in the 1980s when most of the crew were still alive and memories fresh. An interest diagnosis of a near impenetrable movie and very interesting to see how David Lynch worked and progressed. An enjoyable read but you really need to be a Lynch fan (which I am!).  7/10.

  • “LUA quick start guide ” – G.Szauer.

Am getting into LUA and this was my opening gambit. A good little primer. 7/10