Books Read: December 2014

December was a quiet month for me, with eight novels and a graphic novel on the list of books read. As is generally the case I enjoyed all of the books listed, some more than others. Here’s the list…

Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers (Walton Cumberfield Series Book 1); Tom Moran (2014)
Fifty Shades of Alice at the Hellfire Club (The Fifty Shades Of Alice Trilogy Book 3); Melinda DuChamp (2014)
Heat Rises: Nikki Heat Book 3; Richard Castle (2011)
Sand: Omnibus Edition; Hugh Howey (2014)
Adulthood Rites (Lilith’s Brood – Book Two); Octavia E. Butler (1988)
Pixel Juice; Jeff Noon (1998)
Bleak Water; Danuta Reah (2002)
Hellblazer Vol 02: The Devil You Know; Jamie Delano (2011)
Floating Worlds (S.F. Masterworks); Cecelia Holland (1976)

I decided to download Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers a few months ago after it received the Guardian’s first self published book of the month award. I finally got around to reading it this month and I have to say I was somewhat impressed. It’s a surreal and slightly twisted tale, which comes across throughout as remarkably whimsical. After finishing I went looking for more by the same author but aside from a short story or two there doesn’t seem to be anything else as yet.

The Fifty Shades Of Alice series has proven to be an amusing distraction for me. I’ve deliberately avoided the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but have found these fairy-tale inspired parodies to be a lot of fun. They’re dirty, funny and surprisingly intelligent for what is essentially pornographic prose. They may not be for everyone, but if you like your erotica to have a handful of humour included then by all means give Melinda du Champ a chance. (As an aside, Miss du Champ is in fact the pen name of a collective of authors which includes Joe Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson.)

The Nikki Heat books continue to be entertaining and readable, with the third outing, Heat Rises, proving to be at least as good as the previous two. Reading them has made me eager to catch up with the Castle TV show, but unfortunately season seven isn’t due to start here in the UK for a couple of months yet. Bah.

Hugh Howey’s Sand was a surprisingly good outing, and I say that even despite being impressed with his Wool trilogy. It’s set in an unspecified future time, when the world (or at least the part of it in which the novel is set) has been buried beneath a tide of sand. It has some really strong characters and builds the tension and suspense really well. Definitely one I’d recommend.

I’m also really enjoying the Lilith’s Brood books by Octavia Butler. Adulthood Rites picks up a few years after Dawn, and continues the story of the main character and her interaction with the alien savours/invaders of the series. I’m quite eager to read the third and final book in the trilogy.

Pixel Juice was maybe my least favourite book of the month, not because it’s any less well written than the others but simply because it’s an anthology of short stories. I always find anthologies a bit hit and miss, with the stories ranging from absolutely fantastic to not so inspiring, and Pixel Juice was no exception. There are a handful of standout tales in there, but for the most part I just couldn’t get to grips with the majority of the stories included. Which is a shame, because I do genuinely enjoy Jeff Noon’s longer works.

Bleak Water is another crime novel by Sheffield-based writer Danuta Reah, and again I found the whole experience of reading a novel set in my home town a little discomforting. The references to places I know would trigger memories of those places, which in turn would pull me out of the story somewhat, and I was probably a quarter of the way through the book before I could shake this reaction. Even so, I enjoyed the book immensely and look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

I crammed the second volume of the Hellblazer collection in one evening, mainly as a result of watching the TV show Constantine recently. I enjoyed this particular bunch of Hellblazer tales the first time I read it back in the late nineties, and enjoyed it just as much this time around as well.

Finally there’s Floating Worlds by Cecelia Holland. In truth I haven’t finished this one yet, though I am into the last twenty percent according to my kindle. I’m not enjoying it as much as I hoped I would, but it’s still roving to be a fun read and hopefully I’ll have it finished over the next day or two.

And that’s it, my list of books read for December. There will almost certainly be more of the same next month, as well as a few random choices I added to my to-be-read list on a whim during the month. Until the next update if anybody wants to recommend anything for me to read feel free to leave a comment or two.



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