GregHorrorShow: The Books Of 2012

LemonCake

So the awards season kicks into gear for 2012 and first up it’s books.

I’ve read some really great books this year. I admit my reading time did take a bit of a battering when my Vita arrived in February… for about a month I didn’t read on the commute to and from work, as I was too engrossed in my new shiny handheld toy :)

So as usual in no particular order, here are the books I’ve read in 2012 that I’d recommend checking out:

  • ‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’ – Edmund De Waal
  • ‘Beyond The Shadows’ – Brent Weeks
  • ‘I Am Ozzy’ – Ozzy Osbourne
  • ‘The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest’ – Stieg Larsson
  • ‘Battle Royale’ – Koushun Takami
  • ‘Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters’ – Ben H Winters
  • ‘Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect’ – James Swallow
  • ‘The Odyssey’ – Homer
  • ‘Neuromancer’ – William Gibson
  • ‘Ready Player One’ – Ernest Cline
  • ‘Listen To This’ – Alex Ross
  • ‘The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake’ – Aimee Bender

BeyondShadows

I kicked off 2012 with ‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’, Edmund De Waal‘s interesting look at the history of a collection of Netsuke that has been in his family for hundreds of years. While I did feel the book dragged a little in the middle I thought overall it was an entertaining read.

I rounded out the Night Angel trilogy with Brent Weeks‘ ‘Beyond The Shadows‘ which was thoroughly excellent and while on the subject of closing trilogies I also wrapped up the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson with ‘The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest‘. Dark and gritty doesn’t really cover it but it truly is one of the best set of books I’ve ever read. Seriously, if you haven’t read them check them out!

I Am Ozzy‘ is Ozzy Osbourne’s hazy attempt to piece together what has happened in his life :lol: and was interesting from various viewpoints. Of course the band history and music side were entertaining but it also gives you a good insight into how much the music scene changed people’s lives in the UK in the 60’s.

BattleRoyale

Koushun Takami‘s ‘Battle Royale‘ took up a big chunk of my time, it’s a long book but well worth the effort. I haven’t seen the film so I went in cold and absolutely loved it. An intricate and clever story with plenty of mistrust and betrayal, it’s the tale of a class of school mates essentially dumped on a secluded island and told to fight to the death.

After enjoying ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies‘ a while back, I was intrigued to check out ‘Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters‘ by Ben H Winter and (of course) Jane Austen. Unfortunately it didn’t quite hit the heights of the zombie romp but it was enjoyable and gave me a (somewhat distorted) idea of the plot of the ‘real’ Sense And Sensibility. I actually saw Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect in a second hand book shop for the princely sum of £2.00. I couldn’t resist at that price and I’m glad I picked it up. Expanding the universe of the game from last year it really showcases the strong point of the fiction, with lots of augmentations and cyborg parts.

I always like to try and read one ‘classic’ a year and I was most impressed with ‘The Odyssey‘, Homer‘s tale of Odysseus’ journey to try and get back to his family. Of course reading something this old does take a bit of patience but I would say it is definitely worth reading. You can see bits of lots of other stories that have ‘borrowed’ from this classic work over the years. Another older novel I read was ‘Neuromancer‘ by William Gibson, which is set in a cyberpunk universe and tells the story of a ‘crippled’ hacker who ends up fighting for his life to turn the tables on the corporation that has set him up.

ReadyPlayerOne

As a big gamer ‘Ready Player One‘ by Ernest Cline was right up my alley. The quote on the front of the book sums it up best ‘Willy Wonka meets The Matrix’. A challenge is set for gamers everywhere – the person that solves the puzzles will inherit a global powerhouse of a computer company – with all the cash benefits that would bring. Well written and really engaging, if you’re into games (especially retro games) then check it out. Alex Ross walks you through some of the different figures in music through the ages in ‘Listen To This‘. From Mozart to Radiohead, there is good reason to delve into this and find out some more about music and it’s makers.

But my favourite book this year has to be ‘The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake‘ by Aimee Bender. This beautifully written story is about a girl who suddenly discovers that her food no longer tastes of food – she can instead taste the feelings of the person who made it. Tragic and heart-breaking in places, warm and funny in others, this was a book I read in one day. I literally couldn’t put it down. So good and very much recommended.

So there you go – what have you guys been reading? Anything you’d recommend checking out?

GregHorrorShow: The Books Of 2011

We move on now to books and I made it through a fair few titles this year – one of which was the biggest book I’ve ever read… More on that later :smile:

As usual these aren’t in order but I’d recommend all of them:

  • ‘Worth Dying For’ – Lee Child
  • ’61 Hours’ – Lee Child
  • ‘Dragon Age: Stolen Throne’ – David Gaider
  • ‘Atlas Shrugged’ – Ayn Rand
  • ‘Killzone Ascendency’ – Sam Bradbury
  • ‘The Fall’ – Chuck Hogan & Guillermo Del Toro
  • ‘Shadow’s Edge’ – Brent Weeks
  • ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ – Stieg Larsson
  • ‘An Idiot Abroad’ – Karl Pilkington
  • ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ – Harold Goldberg
The two Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child really moved things up a notch after a couple of good, but not great entries, in the series. ’61 Hours’ was the first part and a real return to form but I felt ‘Worth Dying For’ was superior and one of the best book in the series.

I’m not a massive fan of fantasy style books but I certainly enjoyed the novel based on the Dragon Age game universe by David Gaider, along with the excellent ‘Shadow’s Edge’ by Brent Weeks. Both drew on different areas of the fantasy genre but I thought they were excellent and Brent Weeks does a great job of setting up the reader for the final book in the trilogy.

In terms of factual books I didn’t make it through many but the stand out ones for me were Karl Pilkington’s ‘An Idiot Abroad’ and ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ by Harold Goldberg. The former catalogues Karl’s trips to far flung destinations and the crazy set ups that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant organize for him. The impact was slightly dulled by having seen the accompanying TV series but it’s worth a read. ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ relays the history of videogames but in a well written, almost anecdotal style. If you’re interested in games there is a lot of great info and interviews on subjects from EA in the 1990’s up to GTA in the 2000’s.

The biggest book I’ve ever read was also among the greatest – ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand clocked in at well over 1000 pages but I could not stop reading it. Dagny Taggart and all the other characters felt real and alive which is down to Rand’s strong narrative. While I don’t neccessasarily agree with Objectivism in it’s purist form I certainly believe the world could learn a thing or two from this work. I recommend this whole heartedly, it’s the only book I’ve ever read that gave me goosebumps.

After making my way through Ayn Rand‘s masterpiece I felt like reading something a little less classical so plumped for ‘Killzone Ascendency’ by Sam Bradbury, which retells the story of Killzone 3 but fleshes out some parts in terms of what the characters were thinking and a few parts of back story. If you like the game you could do worse than pick this one up.

The second part of the Strain trilogy, ‘The Fall’ by Chuck Hogan & Guillermo Del Toro, arrived midway through the year and once I started it I couldn’t put it down. The story of a vampiric virus is written in such a frantic style that you find yourself reading and reading until you have to stop.

A book that had a slower start was Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’, the second title in the Millenium triolgy. Like the first book, things took a while to get going but once the rollercoaster started I didn’t want it to end. While the final few chapters of the book were a little disappointing in terms of some of the choices made, I can’t wait to read the final part soon!

So there we go, a busy year for books – let me know what you’ve all been reading in the comments.

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GregHorrorShow Book Awards 2009

Being completely honest I don’t read as many books as I should, I would guess about 10 this year, so it’s been tough to put together as lengthy an award list as for the other media.

However, I’ve come up with a few categories and despite only having read one book in a couple of them, those books chosen are ones I would recommend.

As per usual this list is from what I’ve READ this year, not from what’s been released in the calendar year.

Links to reviews in the book titles where possible.

So here we go…

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BEST AUTOBIOGRAPHY

WINNER: My Word Is My Bond – Roger Moore

I’m not a James Bond fan but even I enjoyed this roguish journey through Roger Moore’s career. Moore’s easy listening style means it feels like an intimate evening with the great man, sitting round the fireplace as he tells tale after tale.

RUNNERS UP:

Wonderful Tonight – Patti Boyd

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BEST FACTUAL

WINNER: World In Six Songs – Daniel Levitin

No runner up here as I’ve been lax on my factual reading this year but World In Six Songs is worthy of high praise nonetheless.

This book explores the link between music and civilisation – how music helped create the world we live in, dating right back to our earliest ancestors. If you’re interested in music then this is one to check out.

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BEST FICTIONAL UNIVERSE:

WINNER: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Seth Graeme-Smith

A really inventive novel that mixes Austen with Zombie mayhem, the universe created by Graeme-Smith (with help from Austen’s original) was fantastic to read through and thoroughly enjoyable.

RUNNERS UP:

World War Z – Max Brooks

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

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BEST FICTIONAL CHARACTER:

WINNER: Lizzy Bennet (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Seth Graeme-Smith)

It’s another award for Seth Graeme-Smith as his version of ‘Lizzy’ Bennet was a brilliant character to read through. With her underlying Austen personality in place, it was Graeme-Smith’s added ninja skills that brought her further to life.

RUNNERS UP:

Death (The Book Thief – Markus Zakai)

Alice Maxwell (Cell – Stephen King)

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BEST FICTION

WINNER: World War Z – Max Brooks

 

2009 appears to have been the year of the Zombie as far as my reading habits have gone. Nipping a Seth Graeme-Smith clean sweep in the bud is Max Brooks, with his disturbingly realistic portrayal of how events may go down if there really was a Zombie outbreak. Should be read by everyone.

RUNNERS UP:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Seth Graeme-Smith

The Book Thief – Markus Zukai

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THE GREGHORRORSHOW ‘COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN’ AWARD FOR GREAT WRITING 2009

WINNER: ‘Cell’ by Stephen King

I read this in three days while on holiday, it completely hooked me. The beginning is one of the most finely crafted openings I’ve ever read. Sadly the latter parts of the book couldn’t maintain the standard, which is why it didn’t get any other nominations.

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So there we go, that’s the first batch of awards handed out. More media (TV/Film and the big one… Games) to follow.

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