Books read 2018

End of year Summary:

2018 consisted of a total of 23 books read, plus 4 heavy duty graphic novels sets. A poor year this. I think I’d set a target of 30, so failed badly. The issue was I had like 2 full months of zero reading, which set me back. Had I been able to troop on during the summer I think I could have made the target but I have no one to blame but my own bad time management. 2018 was a tough year from a personal perspective; I was unwell quite often, work was insanely busy, plus I lost my mojo several times and drifted. All things I hope to remedy in 2019! Ad astra!

The high points were The Third Policeman, Meditations and The Witchwood Crown.
The lows were Extinction Point and Pirx the Pilot.



“Spectrum Machine Language for the Absolute Beginner” -W.Tang

Hailed by many as the essential reading for starting Z80, I actually found it a real pain! Unclear, odd examples, not good for learning at all. There is definitely a gap in the market for a good Learn Z80 And Make Retrogames book, but it would only sell 2000 copies (at best) so I guess its not worth anyones time. Video learning appears to be the de rigueur nowadays and YouTube does a better job than these old books. (Chibi Akumas playlist for example is phenomenal. This book really doesnt cut it anymore. 4/10

“World War II – Day by Day” – A.Shaw

I had a book similar to this back in 1990, and I’m gutted it fell to pieces as it was a wonderful resources. I was never able to locate the exact title or author, so it got lost to the mists of time. I saw this time one and I thought it would be similar. It’s not. Its okay.. its not great. Good if you’re 14 years old and studying history perhaps. 6/10


–“Last Orders” – M.Croucher

A sort of what-to-do-guide in terms of planning for one’s death. I figured I’ve got approx 33 years left and I better start making provisions. This little guide gives you the heads-up in terms of what you need to start planning and sorting out. A practical little guide but not exactly high literature reading. 6/10

–“Invasion of the Space Invaders” – M.Amis

This is not so much a book as a long newspaper article, the sort you’d see on the magazine section of a Sunday Newspaper. Its a quirky very 1979/1980s look at video games, but its elevated to new heights by Martin Amis’ pensmanship skills that makes it not just a commentary about video games but also one regarding its social impact. It’s a very enjoyable, if brief read, but only really a book for someone who was actually there at the start of the arcade game halls and witnessed the heady thrill of pumping a game with coins trying to get that little bit further… 7/10.

–“Tales of Pirx the Pilot” – S.Lem

Unsure if it’s the translation from Polish to English, or the author, but this collection of short stories featuring a bright space pilot is very mediocre. The ideas and style smacks of something a budding 17 year old aspiring SciFi wannabee author would cobble together. Disappointing. 2/10

–“Pickwick Papers”-  C.Dickens

This was a LONG read, and also a tough read! It’s not an easy book to read at all. It was produced originally I believe, per chapter at a time, so occasionally the quality dips as Mr.Dickens no doubt was having a slow month and couldnt be arsed, but overall the characters, the comedy writing, the skill with language, it’s all impressive stuff. I read the full unabriged version, so it was a hefty tome, however I suspect the abridged version might have served my purpose better as it took me the better part of 6 months to sink the lot down, but at least I can now say I truly scratched that Dickens itch! 7/10

–“Discipline equals Freedom” – J.Willinck

I’m not really one for self help books, but this one I sincerely enjoyed. Its actually more a series of banners/bullet points and maxims rather than a book. It doesn’t really give you much in the way of a path to follow beyond “WAKE UP EARLY”, but certainly if that is the only message you take away from the book, than that one alone will see you right for the rest of your life I reckon. Waking up early and being productive is probably one of the cornerstones of success. This book is something I will probably occasionally keep referring back too once every couple of months, alongside Marcus Aurelius and Meditations. 7/10


“14” – P.Clines

An enjoyable Cthulhu based romp. Could have been much better if it opted for real chills instead of Buffy the vampire slayer type set-pieces. 7/10.


–“The Martian” – A.Weir

2nd time I’ve read this. The opening 100 pages are great but then it does dip a fair bit and ends on a real rush note. The movie was utterly terrible. It just goes to show that not all artworks translate well onto film. A good read. 7/10


— “Spectrum Machine Code made Easy vol #2” -P.Holmes

Sadly, not very good. A few good pages in an otherwise pedestrian affair with bad examples and bad writing to get the points across. The appendix was the best thing about this book and most likely the one thing I’ve ever refer to it again for. 3/10

— “Spectrum Machine Code made Easy vol #1” – C.Walsh

Written back in 1983 by a 16 year old; sadly it shows. This is not a clear nor particularly useful book. It was probably written using pen and paper instead of a word processor which didn’t help matters as some of the chapters and paragraphs seem disjointed. 3/10

— “Mastering Machine Code on your ZX Spectrum” – T.Baker

An okay-ish introduction. Not great however, possibly due to its age. I learnt a couple of new things that I didn’t know before but I felt it gave me more questions than answers. 5/10.

— “Programming the Z80” – R.Zaks

The bible of z80 programming. A meaty tome weighing in at some 600+ pages. Luckily the bulk of it is just appendix type info being relayed and not actual reading, so its very in depth but really I suspect something to be used as a reference manual. A good resource for when you want to get into the nitty gritty but not a starter book and not useful if you want to make games.  6/10






— “The Third Policeman” – F. O’brien

So good, I re-read it! It warranted a second reading. 11/10.

 “Extinction Point” – P.A Jones

Absolute horrendous garbage of the most pitiful kind. 1/10


— “Jack the Ripper: Truth and Lies” – D.Johnson

Well argued theory. I disagree with the theory but I enjoyed the authors reasonings. 7/10

— “Witchwood Crown” – T. Willliams

Marvellous stuff! I cannot wait for part 2! Great author and great story following up on an already great story!  10/10

— “The Death of Grass” – J.Wyndham

A good idea however now very dated. 6/10


— “The Third Policeman” – F. O’brien

What a book!! Immediately shot into my top#10 of all time. Perfectly composed and written. 11/10

— “Waterloo -part 3” – J. Franklin

The final book in the Osprey trilogy describing the Battle of Waterloo. The best of the 3, and well explained for people who dont want the minutiae. 7/10


–“Waterloo – The French Perspective” – A.Field

I always thought the Battle of Waterloo was a near run thing, bollocks, the French had lost from the moment it began, good book this one. 8/10

–“Meditations” – Marcus Aurelius 

Wow! What a book! The sort of book to read at least once a year. 10/10

–“Sultans Organ” – J Gathorne-Hard

An interesting historical account of a gift given to the Sultan by Queen Elizabeth I and some merchants of the day. 7/10


1st month and I went off plan and rogue already and not adhering to the list! Anyways, I thought I’d get the low hanging fruit first and I made my way through these:

–“Spy vs Spy Missions of Madness” – A. Prohias

Sadly.. weak. Not the best collection this one. I was looking for a nostalgia hit and this defo did not hit the spot. 2/10

–“The Accidental Mage” – CJ Davis

Utter rubbish, it was the last in a trilogy that I had started so I had to complete it! Great idea, terrible penmanship. 3/10

–“Spy vs Spy Explosive Celebration” – various

The only collection you need really. Great stuff in there but a lot of average stuff also.  6/10

–“Judge Dredd case file 02” – various

Some early stories here, two biggies, The Day the Law died, and the Cursed Earth (the censored version), merely okay. 5/10