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?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: October 2014

monthlyru16

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.

oct14

Last month I read a total of eight books: Debating the Archaeological Heritage by Robin Skeates, The Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft, A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley, Miss Peregrine’s School For Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1) by Ransom Riggs, TimeBomb (TimeBomb #1) by Scott K. Andrews, An Introduction to Museum Archaeology by Hedley Swain, The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co #2) by Jonathan Stroud and The Martian by Andy Weir.

Better than last month, although two of those were for university and one was a very short story! My plan was to read loads of science fiction for Sci-Fi Month, but obviously that didn’t happen… My stand-out book of the month is definitely The Whispering Skull, I really love that series! It’s like Sherlock with a dash of Supernatural, if the protagonists were in their teens. What’s not to love?

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read three books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. November’s villain is Apocalypse, hopefully I can defeat him this time!
  • I have currently read one hundred and seventeen books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

The Time Roads 2495562

 

How was October for you?

Review, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: Review of The Martian by Andy Weir

sfm_banner_02a

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

18007564.jpg

3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

This was chosen as Sci-Fi Book of the Month for my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, back in August. I went into it expecting great things – so many positive reviews from friends, such high praise – and I’m sad to say that I was pretty disappointed.

The premise is terrifying. Mark Watney is now the only person on Mars, after a freak storm that led his crewmates to believe he was dead. The Martian is Watney’s account of survival in the bleak landscape of the Red Planet, told through a series of mission logs, interspersed with third person perspective chapters from NASA. Whilst his self-deprecating sense of humour and dry wit was brilliant, especially in the face of such peril, there were so many chapters where it just felt like lists and lists of what he was doing. Understandably, there’s not actually much to do on Mars, but still…

Whilst I was gripped by the story and rooting for Mark, who was a really likable guy, at times I felt a little bored. I felt that the pace and my enjoyment of the book picked up a lot more towards the end, however, and Andy Weir managed to conjure up many moments where things could go very, very wrong, and I was on the edge of my seat hoping that Mark would be okay.

I can see why the book has such high praise. It’s a unique account and Mark is amazingly brave, considering that he is pretty much staring death right in the face at all times. But I’m sad to say that overall, it just didn’t work for me.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: September 2014

monthlyru16

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.

September 2014

Last month I read a total of five books: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King, Archaeological Theory by Matthew Johnson (ugh yes I read the whole thing voluntarily), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas and The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen.

It was certainly a slow month for reading. I haven’t been making the time to read as much since I started uni – I’ve been spending my spare time socialising (*gasp*), reading for lectures or starting to think about my thesis. I kind of feel like I have to fill up my spare time with uni-orientated stuff, which is frustrating, and is exactly how I felt during the three years of my undergrad. However, I found that once I picked up an actual physical book rather than using my Kindle, I was more interested in reading again! Doctor Sleep definitely lived up to its reputation and was well worth the wait – if you enjoyed The Shining, I urge you to pick up the sequel! And Heir of Fire… well, my review will be up soon, but let’s just say AMAZING AND UGH WHY.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read three books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. October’s villain is the Green Goblin, which is pretty perfect for Halloween!
  • I have currently read one hundred and nine books towards my Goodreads goal of one hundred and twenty. This is the fourth time I’ve raised it this year, so I’m not too bothered if I don’t hit the final goal but hopefully I will!

 

Currently reading:

The Martian by Andy Weir

How was September for you?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: August 2014

monthlyru16

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.

August 2014

Last month I read a total of seven books: Half A King (Shattered Seas #1) by Joe Abercrombie, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Dragon Age: The World of Thedas by David Gaider, Red Moon by Benjamin Percy, Roomies by Sara Zarr, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Dead Angels by Gunnar Roxen.

So I didn’t have as much time to read this month, what with starting university! I’ve finished one book, and completely read another since I got here almost three weeks ago. It hasn’t been a great month for ratings; my standout book this month was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Not quite as amazing as people said it was, but I did enjoy it – even if I guessed the ending.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read zero books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. Oops. Next month’s villain is Magneto, but if we’re talking about 1970’s era Magneto then I’d rather recruit him, thank you very much.
  • I have currently read 104 books towards my Goodreads goal. I changed my goal from 100 to 125 this month.

 

Currently reading:

The Martian by Andy Weir Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

How was August for you?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, August 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
Half A King by Joe Abercrombie

Goodreads

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand. The deceived will become the deceiver.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge. The betrayed will become the betrayer.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could. Will the usurped become the usurper?

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

DJ_SF
The Martian by Andy Weir

Goodreads

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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

Past Features

Weekly Roundup #34

weeklyru_16

My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc. This is a couple of weeks worth of this feature – apparently I haven’t posted one since October, what with Sci-Fi Month in November and then the blog migration to WordPress in December.


Gifted

  • Lonely Planet: The Netherlands – I received this for Christmas from my parents, as I’m off to the Netherlands for my Masters this year. Even though I’ll be studying, I’ve got to make the most of my year abroad (although I’m hoping I’ll stay there a bit longer if possible) and I want to visit as many places as possible!
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – I’m sure you’ve seen this one all over the blogosphere. Samantha Shannon has been pipped as ‘the new J.K. Rowling’, and has signed a seven book deal, as well as the film rights to the series – and she’s a year younger than me. Urk.

 

Bought

  • Hodd by Adam Thorpe – this is a sort of alternate version of the traditional Robin Hood story. I kept seeing it in my local charity shop, and eventually picked it up – it’s practically brand new. This is one of my planned books for the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge.
  • The Dinner by Herman Koch – I first heard about this book when I read Kelly’s review of it. It’s the sort of contemporary/adult fiction novel I like – with something just hidden below the surface. Plus it’s set in Amsterdam, and I want to read more books set in the Netherlands!
  • The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons – um, how was I ever going to spot this in a charity shop and NOT buy it?
  • The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – I’m interested to see how this one plays out, as it’s co-written by a film director – although it’s definitely within his genre. This is another one I’m planning to read for the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge.

 

For Kindle

Ever since I got my own Kindle, I’ve gone kind of crazy. All these 99p deals on brand new books! And the classics, which I’ll mention but not bother with covers: Popular Tales from the Norse, The Babylonian Legends of Creation, Lysistrata, The Birds, The Frogs, The Eleven Comedies, Travels in West Africa, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Vanity Fair and soooo many more… (I started listing them then realised exactly how many I had downloaded…)

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

  • Raising Steam (Discworld #40) by Terry Pratchett – new Discworld novel? For 99p? Yes, yes I will buy it.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – short adult fiction by Neil Gaiman. I’ve only read his books for younger readers, so I’d like to see how different his adult writing is.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is one of my favourite books, and when I spotted this new release of hers for 99p I thought I’d give it a try.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym, I’d love to see how this differs from her usual writing style.

 

Netgalley

So one of my Bookish New Years Resolutions was to get my Netgalley ratio up to at LEAST 50%. So naturally, at the beginning of the year I requested a whole load of new books from Netgalley. The cover links to the Goodreads page.

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rose The Cruel Path by David J. Normoyle Drawn by Cecilia Gray In the Company of Thieves by Kage Baker The Martian by Andy Weir We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo Doctor Who: The Death Pit by A.L. Kennedy Providence Hang Wire by Adam Christopher The Waking Engine by David Edison Black Moon

And that’s it! I think I have enough for a while now… not that that will stop me getting more books! What new reads do you have this week?