Dragons and Jetpacks, Top Lists

Most Disappointing Dragons & Jetpacks Books

Since 2013, I have run a book group called Dragons & Jetpacks on Goodreads. Originally set up with a couple of friends from university, we now have several other moderators on board and over 1300 members, all avid lovers of science fiction and fantasy. Most of the time, our monthly reads (one sci-fi and one fantasy, and a bi-monthly Mod Pick) are fantastic choices, and I frequently discover books I love and may have otherwise never heard of because of the group. But there are occasionally times where books chosen by the group just don’t work for me at all, and those are the books I wanted to discuss today.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick – I normally love PKD’s work, but this one just wasn’t for me. And interestingly, quite a lot of the group did not get along with it either. Although it was a clever idea, I found myself having great difficulty concentrating on it and taking in what happened.
  • Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy #1) by Brian McClellan – When I finished this and ultimately found it was not really at all what I’d expected, that I hadn’t enjoyed it and had barely focused on it at all, I blamed it on my mood at the time. I’d been studying a lot, I didn’t feel like reading that kind of fiction at that point… and more excuses. So I kept my copy with the intention of giving it a re-read at some point in the future, because I thought I’d enjoy it a lot more then. However, a few months later when sorting out my books, I got rid of it. I’d decided it was nothing to do with my mood – however much I wanted to deny it, I just wasn’t going to get along with this series.
  • Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie – I honestly don’t understand how this has won so many awards, and how so many people love it. I found it boring as hell. And at the time that the group read it, I thought I was the only one – but now, looking at my Goodreads friends’ reviews, I’m definitely not.

  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher – This makes me so sad. I really don’t know what happened here but this book sounded amazing. And then it was just… eh. It was a huge disappointment after a massive build up, and months of waiting to read it.
  • The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks – Very, very generic feeling fantasy. I’m sure Brent Weeks’ other series are excellent but I’m kind of hesitant to pick them up after this.
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – Oh, how it dragged. How little sense it made. Basically, the best bits of this book were the ‘normal’ everyday things.

The Martian by Andy Weir

  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – This wasn’t a bad book, so much as it made me feel very uncomfortable. It was not a nice experience.
  • Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski – So apparently whilst this is the third book in the series, it also works as a standalone and is fine if you’ve not played or even heard of the games. I have played the games, and I didn’t always know what was going on… I definitely felt like something was missing, so perhaps this isn’t so much the book as the fact that it shouldn’t be advertised as a standalone.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – Controversial! Everyone loves it! And the film was great. This is one of the rare instances where I loved the film a LOT more than the book. However, I do plan on re-reading this at some point – I read it on my Kindle, which always changes my reading experience slightly.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #53: The Problem with Reading Slumps

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This post was written at the beginning of April, and doesn’t apply to me so much now – but I still wanted to share it!

As well as struggling with a blogging slump lately, I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump. I’ve decided that this comes down to my most recent reads being nothing special, and also feeling a little bit pressured to read certain books because of review requests and other commitments.

The Fantasy Book of the Month in March for my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, was The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I was really excited to read this one, having never read any Mitchell before. He is an author that a lot of people seem to love or hate, and I was convinced I’d be one of the former. Sadly, I was wrong. What sounded like a fantastic premise (and was accompanied by a lovely cover) turned into a big ol’ mess that, quite frankly, had me bored for at least one third of the book.

This was then followed by attempts to read various Marvel comic books that had been sat on my shelves for a while, all borrowed from the library. Needless to say I couldn’t get into any of them but one, despite having read and loved many before. The one I did manage to finish was the second Guardians of the Galaxy book, Angela, and it just didn’t live up to the first volume. I’m just a bit bored of skimpy female superheroes. And don’t even get me started on female chest armour (or lack thereof…).

bored gif

And then, most recently, The Vagrant by Peter Newman. A book that had sat on my Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf since before release, one that immediately drew me in via its cover and blurb. But oh, what a disappointment. I couldn’t concentrate on it at all, meaning I missed important plot points, and was pretty confused when I did actually tune in. I don’t think I deal well with silent protagonists…

My current read is a similar story. Sounded great, is actually boring me quite a bit. I’ve started reading another book alongside it that I’ve been waiting for since it was announced (albeit another review copy), and I’m actually now only reading the first book at work during lunch, if I get a chance.

So okay, maybe only one of these books was a ‘commitment’. But it took so long for me to read because I just wasn’t interested that I feel I could have read so many more interesting books in that time. It’s time to crack down and finally read those books that I’ve been waiting for, instead of feeling pressured into reading ones that I’m not hugely interested in!

Note: After writing this post in April, I decided to read what I WANTED, instead of what I thought I should read. This has worked really well for me so far!

Do you ever feel pressured to put off the books you really want to read just because of other reading ‘commitments’?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: March 2016

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

march 16

Last month I read a total of seven books: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder, Us by David Nicholls, HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness,
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Sisters of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #1) by Sally Christie.

March was a bit of a slower reading month, occupied mostly by my re-read of The Fellowship of the Ring. Being one of my favourite books of all time, this was of course the stand-out book of the month… but in terms of new reads, I would have to say the best book of the month was HEX. I’ll be taking part in the blog tour for it this month, so look out for that along with my review. The Bone Clocks was one of Dragons & Jetpacks Books of the Month, but it was seriously disappointing.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read seven books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge – every book read this month counted, and I also managed to defeat the villain, Poison Ivy. April’s villain is very apt, being the White Rabbit.
  • I have currently read 33 books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

Powers
How was March for you?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, March 2016

DJ16

Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

DJ_SF
Neuromancer

Goodreads

The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace…

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employers crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.

DJ_F
The Bone Clocks

Goodreads

Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

Have you read either of this month’s picks? What did you think?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, July 2014

DJ16

Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

DJ_F
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soiless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

DJ_SF
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Goodreads

The narrators hear their echoes in history and change their destinies in ways great and small, in a study of humanity’s dangerous will to power. A reluctant voyager crosses the Pacific in 1850. A disinherited composer gatecrashes in between-wars Belgium. A vanity publisher flees gangland creditors. Others are a journalist in Governor Reagan’s California, and genetically-modified dinery server on death-row. Finally, a young Pacific Islander witnesses the nightfall of science and civilization.

Have you read either of this month’s picks? What did you think?

Recap

Last few days of the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2012

Well, the festival is finally over, and I really wish it wasn’t! It was such a fantastic two weeks that seemed to fly by, and there was never a dull moment. I last told you about the events of Tuesday 9th October, so this post will cover from Wednesday until the very end.

Wednesday got off to an exciting start: we met Dan Snow, who has presented many history TV programs, and got a team photo:

I also caught a glimpse of Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn, who work on the TV show Wartime Farm (and are archaeologists, yeahhh!). As I was working the early shift, I missed the evening events which included Adam Hart-Davis, Pam Ayres, Andrew Marr, Hilary Devey, AA Gill, Nigella Lawson and Mark Haddon.

Thursday was my day off, but notable guests included Lucy Worsley, John McCarthy, Tom and Henry Herbert (the Fabulous Baker Brothers), Ben Fogle, Caitlin Moran, Gunnar Staalesen, Stephen Mangan and Victoria Pendleton.

Welly boots signed by Caitlin Moran (apparently all guests were signing wellies – I don’t know why!)
 
Friday’s guests included Sinclair McKay, Michael Smith and Julian Baggini, all of whom I managed to see; as well as Robert MacFarlane, Rose Tremain, Erica Wagner, Sandi Toksvig, Kirstie Allsopp, Alan Garner, Dom Joly, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Paul O’Grady.
On Saturday, I saw Kathy Reichs (creator of TV show Bones) and Val McDermid (creator of Wire in the Blood), and then met Larry Lamb in the afternoon!

Larry Lamb – more like Mick Shipman than Archie Mitchell 😉
 
I also had to stand next to Ian Rankin whilst he was signing books, to stop any over eager fans from invading his personal space. One man there was obviously a massive fan – he brought practically the entire back catalogue with him, and couldn’t stop shaking whilst talking to Ian! Whilst we were waiting for Ian Rankin to turn up, I heard a customer saying he couldn’t find any T.S. Eliot – so I showed him where the books were, and he spent a good ten minutes explaining why everyone should read Four Quarters, and that your life is not complete unless you have. It was so nice to see someone so passionate about it. Later on both Jeremy Vine and Ben Miller were just wandering around the tents, browsing – I got to speak to Jeremy Vine.

Sunday, the last day of the festival proper, was just as eventful. A.C. Grayling was signing in the morning, and I took some stock over for him to sign and had a chat with him – he was lovely, and took a real interest in my degree. He was so polite and came over and personally thanked me when he left. I also saw Ian McEwan when he was doing his signing, but the biggest event of the day (at least when I was there)? David Walliams.

He signed so much – 240 stock copies before the event even started, then whatever customers took him! The queue was massive, and there were crowds of people taking photos and hanging around the signing area. He was lovely, making people laugh and chatting with them, posing for photos and just being an all round friendly guy. Finally, the last guest I saw was David Mitchell. I apologise for the awful photo…

His publicist was very stern though… me and a colleague were just about to get a photo with him when she whisked him away. I did manage to grab one of a friend with him though, so that’s something! I got the impression he was happy to be there, signing what people wanted, but his publicist wanted him to sign only his autobiography.

Autographs from Larry Lamb, Polly Findlay and Christopher Eccleston.

Yesterday was packing up day. Boxing up books, taking down shelves, tidying up the mess… and it was so fun. It was just all of us temps together, and at one point we had run out of boxes to pack books in, so had nothing to do. Instead, we sat around on the beanbags in the kid’s tent chatting for a bit, which was really great.

Meerkats surveying the clearing up…
 
This was all such a fantastic experience and I will definitely be applying to work again next year! I actually find it quite hard to write about the festival properly. I can tell you all about the famous people I met, post some photos, but honestly the bit that was the most fun was meeting new people: colleagues and customers. Meeting people who share the same passion as me: books. And it would be really hard to write those experiences down, and make them interesting to others, so I’m just going to keep them all to myself =)