Book Review – Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett is the 14th novel in the Discworld series, and the fourth in the “Witches” subseries. Unlike most other Discworld novels, this book begins with a note from the author suggesting you read some of the previous “Witches” novels before starting this one. This novel begins right where the last one, Witches Abroad, left off, and also continues plot threads from Wyrd Sisters, the novel before that.

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick have returned home to the small kingdom of Lancre after their journey abroad, only to find trouble afoot before they can even settle back in at home. Magrat finds that her potential husband-to-be Verence II, the former Fool made King, has fast-tracked a lot of their wedding arrangements without her input. Meanwhile, crop circles are appearing all across the kingdom; it seems somebody has been dancing around some stone circles, inviting the return of the elves. While remembered fondly in the minds of people, their return only spells trouble for everybody living on the Disc.Read More »

Top 5 Books I Read in 2019

The final year of the decade has come and gone. It’s strange how one of the most ordinary things in the world can feel so uncanny sometimes. The last five years were long, there is no doubt, but I can’t escape the sense that they were the fastest five years of my life. 2019 itself was weird for feeling both long and short, in its own right.

With the year over and done, that is also another load of books that I’ve finished reading. Every year I pick my top five favourites among them, in no particular order, and this year is no different. They needn’t have come out this year, I just need to have read them this year. Without further ado…Read More »

Book Review – Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust

Stardust is a 1998 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. It’s been a part of my personal backlog of books to read by the author for a while, and in a lot of ways it was not what I’d been expecting. The story concerns the small village of Wall in England, known for the ancient wall that is its namesake that separates our world from that of the Faerie. The only way to pass through the wall is a small passage, typically guarded to keep village folk from wandering into the unknown. Tristran Thorn, however, is hopelessly in love with the captivating yet disinterested Victoria Forester, and after the two witness a falling star he pledges to fetch it for her in exchange for whatever his heart desires. Though it has landed beyond the wall, Tristran will stop at nothing to fulfill his oath and win Victoria’s heart. This is complicated, however, when he finds that the fallen star is not a celestial rock, but a beautiful young woman named Yvaine, with no interest in coming back with him.Read More »

Book Review – Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn

Star Wars: Thrawn is the first book in a trilogy of Star Wars novels centred around the titular character, a blue humanoid alien with red eyes from the Chiss species, who rises to great prominence in the Imperial navy in the time between the prequel trilogy of Star Wars films and the original trilogy. The author originally created the character in older novels that are now deemed “Legends.” This is the first novel to feature the character in the new canon since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, initially debuting him in the series Star Wars Rebels.

In this first novel, Mitth’raw’nuruodo, simplified as Thrawn, is discovered on an uncharted world in Wild Space by Imperial scouts. Apparently exiled by his people, the Chiss Ascendency, he impresses the officers sent to investigate by cleverly sneaking aboard their capital ship despite his limited resources. Brought before the Emperor, Thrawn’s talents for strategy are recognized and he wishes to serve the Empire with the hope that, should it be needed, the it might come to the aid of his people. Seeing his knowledge of the Unknown Regions of the galaxy as a further asset, he is allowed to enroll in the Imperial Naval Academy, with the reluctant cadet Eli Vanto to accompany him as an aid and translator.Read More »

Book Review – Dreams of Terror and Death by H. P. Lovecraft

Dreams of Terror and Death

The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death is a collection of short stories and novellas from the author’s “Dream Cycle,” which is a series of stories that explore the idea of alternate worlds accessible to humans through dreaming. Though treated as a distinct cycle of stories here, it is made evident in the text that these tales exist within the same narrative universe as the Cthulhu Mythos that Lovecraft is better known for. While a number of the stories are fairly self-contained with unique protagonists, a number of settings recur throughout. The most important recurring character is Randolph Carter, a young man more adept at exploring the realm of dreams than the average person.Read More »

Book Review – Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Little Heaven

Little Heaven is the fourth and latest novel by horror author Nick Cutter. In the backwoods of New Mexico in the mid-1960s a religious commune has built themselves a community to get away from the sinful world, guided by their charismatic leader Reverend Amos Flesher. Only one rough road and some trails lead back to civilization. They are surrounded by woods and ever in the shadow of a monolithic black rock that looms over the landscape. They have dubbed their community Little Heaven, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many months after Little Heaven is settled a young woman named Ellen hires a trio of mercenaries to take her there. Her goal is to find her nephew, ensure he is safe, and if he isn’t, get him out of there. Finding the place is easy enough, but getting out becomes another matter entirely.Read More »

Book Review – Hellboy: Odder Jobs edited by Christopher Golden

Hellboy Odder Jobs

My second book for Frighteningly Good Reads 2019 is Hellboy: Odder Jobs, the 2004 sequel to the first Hellboy anthology Odd Jobs, once again edited by Christopher Golden. This book collects 16 stories by a variety of authors including one by Frank Darabont and another co-written by Guillermo del Toro. Each story is accompanied by an illustration by Mike Mignola. My history with Hellboy anthologies has been a little out of chronology; when I first started checking them out I read Odd Jobs (1999) and An Assortment of Horrors (2017) within months of each other, the latter being the most recent release. I was excited to finally continue the “odd jobs” trilogy (as I’m dubbing it) properly, hopeful that my positive experience with the two books I’d previously read would continue.Read More »

Book Review – Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

Kicking off my Frighteningly Good Reads for 2019 is Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, the 2013 sequel to one of the author’s most famous novels, The Shining. Dan Torrance, now a grown man, is still haunted by his experiences at the Overlook Hotel all those years ago. Some ghosts are harder to escape than others, and the violence and drinking that plagued his father has come back around on him, leaving him to aimlessly wander around the country. He eventually winds up in Frazier, New Hampshire, a small town that inexplicably triggers visions, despite the years of drinking dulling his “shine.”

Dan decides to settle in the town and gets his act together, attending AA meetings and eventually working at a hospice where he uses his psychic gifts to comfort those passing on, gaining the nickname “Doctor Sleep.” One day he is remotely contacted by Abra Stone, a young teen girl with a “shine” far more powerful than his own. She has attracted the attention of the True Knot, a tribe of psychic vampires who feed off of victims with powers like theirs, and needs his help if she is going to survive.Read More »

Book Review – Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline

Coraline is a 2002 horror fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. Coraline, the titular character, and her parents have moved into a new flat in a big old house that is divided into several apartments. They share the property with some colourful characters; two aged actresses below them and an eccentric old man above them. There is a vacant flat next to theirs that is unoccupied, the passageway in their place bricked up behind a door in their parlour. Listless and left by her busy parents to try and entertain herself in the waning days of summer, Coraline can’t help feeling oddly fixated on this door, even though her mother has already shown her what’s on the other side. Reopening it on her own, she finds a long dark corridor where there ought to bricks. The passage leads her to a world that mirrors her own, full of wondrous delights and populated by another mother and father with buttons for eyes, who soon turn out to be far more malevolent than she first realizes.Read More »

Book Review – Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Small Gods

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett is the 13th novel in the comic fantasy Discworld series, and the second standalone novel belonging to a small, loosely connected group of novels that cover specific, lesser-known cultures of the Disc. This novel in question is set a century before the usual present day and focuses on the land of Omnia, a powerful and oppressive theocracy that worships and acknowledges only one god: The Great God Om. The time for the 8th prophet to be revealed is close at hand and Om has manifested himself in physical form on the Disc to seek out his new chosen one. The problem is, he has somehow manifested as a diminutive tortoise and nobody he speaks to can hear him. That is, until an eagle meaning to make a meal of him drops him into the Citadel in Omnia, where he lands in a garden. There he meets Brutha, a novice of the Citadel and the only person in the whole world who can hear him.Read More »