It’s recently occurred to me that I really should start using this website of mine, and as the chances are that most of you have come here because you’ve enjoyed one (or more) of my books, I figured that I could do a lot worse than keep you in the loop as to what I’ve been reading. I think it’s only fair to warn you in advance that you probably shouldn’t expect any classics or high-end literature here. I dig trash, and always have, but just because something’s trash doesn’t mean that it’s bad.
First up, and almost as if to prove this point, I’ve been revisiting the Aliens series of novels from the 90s, based on the Dark Horse comics.
Nightmare Asylum was an absolute pleasure to revisit, being based on one of my favourite Aliens stories outside of the first two films. It deals with our ersatz heroes being taken captive by a lunatic army base commander who is convinced that he can control the Aliens and use them as a private army of his own. Obviously, it goes about as well as can be expected, and carnage and chaos ensues. Due to shifting canon between now and when the original comic was first released, the ending is a little bit of a fudge, but it could have been a lot worse. It could have been Alien Resurrection.
Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks – German Army and Waffen-SS: The Last Battles in the West 1945 by Dennis Oliver, is a short but dense book, full of very detailed information on the squads and individual Tigers that were operating in the Western front at the end of the war. The amount of research that Oliver has put in is simply staggering, and the colour section in the middle are great for reference for wargamers, modellers and artists. Also included is a detailed breakdown of the best model kits out there for the Tiger I and Tiger II. I’m much more a wargamer than a model maker, so a lot of this was of a much higher detail than I would ever go into for the tabletop, but it was still a very interesting read.
I also read my first Edward Marston novel (don’t ask me how it’s taken me this long to get around to it) in the form of A Bespoke Murder, the first in The Home Front Detective series. I loved the main characters almost instantly, and the mystery is well paced and engaging, with some great sub-plots, to boot. I absolutely intend to tackle the next in the series very soon.
I also continued my journey through The Wheel of Time with the fourth book in the series, The Shadow Rising. To say there’s a lot going on in this one would be great understatement, but it never feels overly busy. All the characters are given a good amount of space to breath, grow and have their own stories, all also weaving seamlessly into the greater pattern. Perrin Aybara really grew on me in this one, and Nynaeve remained a favourite. A shame that Rand seems destined to become a tragic figure. He deserves better.
My Star Wars and Star Trek timeline crawls are also continuing apace. For the galaxy far, far away, I really enjoyed Delilah S. Dawson’s Phasma, giving the otherwise completely wasted character a great amount of depth and history that, unfortunately, just makes her waste even more depressing. The Perfect Weapon is a bit of fluff that, despite being only a few years old, hasn’t dated well. I think the first time I read it I was just caught up in the hype for The Force Awakens, and with that removed, there’s not much more to recommend it. Before the Awakening, however, was very enjoyable. A good trilogy of stories focused around Rey, Finn and Poe that gave them some background weight, framed the time period and ramped up to the start of the movie really well.
On the final frontier, I polished off the first two books of Michael Jan Friedman’s My Brother’s Keeper trilogy, which deal with Kirk shortly after the death of his friend Gary Mitchell at the start of the first season of The Original Series. Each novel is a protracted flashback to Kirk and Mitchell’s younger adventures, but they’re enjoyable trekky fare, and what could have been a limp framing device for the stories actually works very well. Kirk’s sense of grief over his friend’s death, and his own part of it, is handled very well. I also revisited Harbinger, the first book in the Vanguard series, and I still enjoyed it very much. Vanguard might actually be one of my favourite sci-fi series, Star Trek or not.
That’s all for this month. If you have anything you’d like to comment on or recommend, then do it in the box below, or hunt me down on social media.