My Year in Books 2014

The following is a list of the books I have read this year. You can see what I thought in more detail on my Goodreads page, or feel free to ask me. Each is a clickable link to where you can buy the book (if available). Each year I challenge myself to read a certain number of books. This year it was forty-five.

2014

The Best of Hammer & Bolter: Volume 1 – Edited by Christian Dunn

The Iron Man – by Ted Hughes

A Study in Scarlet – by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Black Library Anthology 2013/14 – by Graham McNeill et al.

Flowers for Algernon – by Daniel Keyes

Zen in the Art of Writing – by Ray Bradbury

Gone Girl – by Gillian Flynn

Scars – by Chris Wraight

Countdown – by Robert Orci

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1: Legacy – by Dan Abnett

A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold – by George R.R. Martin

Knights of the Imperium – by Graham McNeil

War Horse – by Michael Morpurgo

Vengeful Spirit – by Graham McNeil

Secret Invasion: The Infiltration – by Brian Michael Bendis

Slaughterhouse Five – by Kurt Vonnegut

The Last Fighting Tommy – by Richard Van Emden

A Feast for Crows – by George R.R. Martin

Ravenlord – by Gav Thorpe

Sedition’s Gate – by Nick Kyme et al.

Before they are Hanged – by Joe Abercrombie

Last Argument of Kings – by Joe Abercrombie

Secret Invasion – by Brian Michael Bendis

War of Kings: Road to the War of Kings – by Dan Abnett

Elantris – by Brandon Sanderson

The Damnation of Pythos – by David Annandale

Save the Cat! – by Blake Synder

The Purge – Anthony Reynolds

Half a King – by Joe Abercrombie

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2: War of Kings Book 1 – by Dan Abnett

Deathwatch: Xenos Hunters – Edited by Christian Dunn

Mockingjay – by Suzanne Collins

Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels – by Peter David

Ecko Rising – by Danie Ware

Traitor’s Gorge – by Mike Lee

The Best of Hammer & Bolter: Volume 2 – Edited by Christian Dunn

Death of Integrity – by Guy Haley

Space Marines: Angels of Death – Edited by Graeme Lyon

Death and Defiance – by Nick Kyme et al.

All Quiet of the Western Front – by Erich Maria Remarque

Renegades of the Dark Millennium – by Aaron Dembski-Bowden et al.

The Shadow of War – by Stewart Binns

Legacies of Betrayal – Edited by Laurie Goulding

1914: Poetry Remembers – Edited by Carol Ann Duffy

Homecoming – by Christie Golden

Birdsong – by Sebastian Faulks

The Seventh Serpent – by Graham McNeill

The Handmaid’s Tale – by Margaret Atwood

 

I’m also currently reading Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan. It’s an epic book and I won’t manage to finish it this year, especially if the previous five in the series are anything to go by. I’m reading it because I’m more curious how the story ends than anything else. A classic example of a better world-builder/story writer than engaging writer, but I hear he gets better…the Brandon Sanderson took over.

Thanks for reading.

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Far Worlds Released!

I meant to blog a few days ago, but I’ve been ill. Oh boy, have I been ill! 4 boxes of man size tissues was not enough to stall this manflu of epic proportions and getting up from the sofa still makes me feel dizzy. On Tuesday I had to drag my sorry arse to the driving theory test centre and spent a horrible 40 minutes curled over the desk. Thankfully I passed. I didn’t fancy having to do that again. (I already passed about ten years ago, but stopped pursuing the practical test after a couple of harsh fails.)

But that’s not the only good thing that happened on Tuesday, no!

Far Worlds was released.

Those of you that have been reading my blog regularly will know of this already, but Far Worlds is a speculative fiction anthology in which I have a story. Its been published by the lovely people of the Bolthole and is currently available on Kindle, here and will be available, I’m told, in paperback next month.

I just love the artwork for this book:

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I mean, look at it, how awesome is that? It’s a shame my kindle is black and white. I will be getting a paperback of it!

As part of the promotion for the book, the editors posted an excerpt from each story on the books Facebook page. So I might as well share the excerpt from my story again. Also, each story has its own internal illustration. Manuel Mesones (You can find him here) has done a fantastic job with each of these. I won’t tell you which character this is, but you can all guess in the comments.

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What he saw astounded him. He had uncovered a metal construction, approximately one metre in length, curved at one end. The most startling thing about the object was that it was fire-blackened from one end running along its surface, removing all detail, scouring it into a smooth plate. He had no idea what it was or where it had come from; he hadn’t seen anything like it before in his career. But whatever it was, he was sure of one thing.

 

It wasn’t from this world.

 

I hope that makes you want to go and read the story and please feel free to add your feedback and comments on here, Amazon or on Goodreads.

Once again, thanks for reading and I hope to be back with some more news soon!

 

 

I Return

Well I guess it’s time I wrote one of these things again. It’s been quite a while since my last blog once again. But I have excuses a plenty! I’ve only just really finished moving house. Monday was the last day on the tenancy of my old flat. Those of you who have moved house will know that it’s not just about moving stuff from one place to another, which is incredibly tiring I might add, it’s also having to sort everything out from utilities to changing addresses with every service you subscribe to. I’m still living out of a few boxes and bags… All in all it’s pretty time consuming and I only finished sorting the most part yesterday. I’ve also got a problem where some quite expensive tickets were dispatched to my old address and the property managers are being as unhelpful as possible at getting back. Trust me there will be more on them in a future blog!

It has also been a busy period at work. The demand has been phenomenal and we have a record number of new students. As great as this is, it made the first week of the new course pretty intensive for everyone. There is still a lot of work to be done but it’s starting to ease off and relax slightly now we are getting in to the swing of things. It didn’t help that towards the end of the week I started to pick up what I can only describe as freshers flu.

Over the weekend I was busy away in London crewing a convention called the Entertainment Media Show. I’ve been to plenty of conventions as a paying attendee, but I have never crewed before so a few months ago I decided that I should give this weekend a go a my first event crewing. I didn’t realise at the time that it would fall right in the middle of this busy work and moving home period, otherwise I might have left it until the start of next year. In hindsight it probably wasn’t the best time to start and I could barely talk to anyone over the weekend due to losing my voice to the flu. So apologies to anyone I spoke to, I’m not normally quite that quiet/rude! That said, I did have a really good time.

I was musing in the week before the event that so many people seem so self-absorbed, so caught up in their own lives. I was even going to write a blog about it but didn’t get time. I constantly found myself getting out of the way of other people without so much as a thank you, especially it seemed, when carrying heavy things. Why should I move out of the way if I’m the one carrying something heavy? Anyway, I didn’t want to go in to that now. What I was going to say was that it was so nice and refreshing to crew at an event and see that for the most part everyone else crewing was very conscientious of what was going on. They seemed to want to help the attendees and make sure everything ran logically and smoothly while making sure everyone, including the other crew, enjoyed themselves.

So I had a really good time. The Saturday was hard work in parts, bag checking for Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Red Dwarf and Mike Tyson photo queues. But it was great fun really, being close to these guests and even getting to chat to them was excellent. Also working with and getting to know some of the other crew was great, it’s always good to make new friends and I hope to make many more. So in short I will definitely be applying to crew again. I’m not someone who goes round and gets loads of autographs and photos and obsesses about guests. So it’s much nicer for me to do something active and be a part of it. These shows are always a nice environment to be in (although the boxing fans pushed it at times! I won’t go in to details, but sheesh, considering it was a family show, some of that language was fairly inappropriate!) so I will be back.

Thankfully I have this weekend free, the first in what seems ages. It will give me time to sort out the flat and do some writing.

On that note, I don’t know if I have mentioned it before but in a few weeks I have the opportunity to chat with an editor from the Black Library about one of my stories. This is obviously a great opportunity and I’m almost finished on a short story, but for previously mentioned reasons I haven’t done any writing in a couple of weeks. I will be from now on spending as much spare time as possible on finishing the draft of this story. I’ve got till the start of November so it should give me enough time to draft and hopefully edit. Wish me luck… Once again I will be calling on my test readers for their feelings on the work. If you feel like getting involved, feel free to comment or message me!

Once again thanks for reading and hopefully it won’t be so long before my next blog.

Mike

The Horror Goes South

So, I’m getting pretty good at this getting up earlier thing. I’m going to need to be once my day job’s working hours move an hour earlier and I may have to teach at the ungodly hour of 9.30 am (I don’t actually mind, it will be good for me). However I chose to shift my sleeping pattern around in order to do some writing in the mornings and then have more time in the day. I think I have successfully worked my transition in to a ‘morning person’, before now I was more of a ‘those-few-hours-in-the-middle-of-the-day-I-feel-like-doing-something…person’.

But I need to do some more writing. I’ve been pretty lax this week as I’ve had some other things on. I also haven’t written a blog since last week as far as I can remember. However that one at least was a story rather than my random ramblings. I’ve actually been busy sorting out my move. Yesterday I handed in the notice on my current flat, which is both exciting and scary. Exciting because I am now moving out of this flat which has caused me so many sleepless nights and moving somewhere new. Scary because the new place hasn’t actually gone through yet so unless it goes through by the time my notice runs out I may end up homeless.

So, what am I working on? Well, Games Day UK is coming up pretty soon, which I’m immensely looking forward to. Although my wallet is already silently weeping to itself in the corner. It doesn’t know what’s hit it yet! I do love Games Day, a place where like minded individuals all come together to have a day of pure geekyness about something they love. You will probably see me there running between various stands trying to catch as much new stuff as possible and take in all the atmosphere. Got to get to the Black Library, Forgeworld and I will also be checking out Fantasy Flight Games. I’m hoping to get hold of a copy of their new 40K game, Relic. I did have a few years out of going to Games Day and I really did miss it. I went again for the first time a few years ago and fell straight in to it without missing a beat. Though I don’t spend nearly as much money as I did when I was a kid. My poor parents!

Anyway I am digressing. The reason I mentioned Games Day is because, as the Black Library will be there, they have started to take submissions on the day. I am currently wondering whether to take something I have already written or begin work on a new 1000 word story to take with me specifically on the day. Any suggestions as to this will be greatly appreciated. If you really like something I’ve already written and think it’s worth submitting let me know.

I’ve also been given an opportunity of possibly having something published on Amazon. On a forum I peruse they are compiling a horror anthology and I have had my name listed as part of it. I already have a story idea; A Lovecraftian horror set on the Island of Portland in Dorset. That’s all you’re getting out of me for now. I just have to write the thing…I’ve not really written any horror before (except for Tyranid infested space ships) so I’m a little bit scared by it. I’ve done the leg work, I’ve written a plot outline, I just need to research the writing style and get to work on it. I will try and do that this week, look out for updates and wish me luck.

On Twitter the last few days I seem to have had a lot of authors follow me. I’m slightly perplexed, do they like my work? Is my writing starting to have some form of impact? If so, that’s really great, wow. Or maybe they have just seen that I have called myself an ‘aspiring-writer’ and have decided to see what I come up with. That’s also great. Perhaps they can offer me some advice? If you’re reading this, please send some twitter-esque tips my way!

Right, I really must get on with my day and some writing. This blog, amongst cooking breakfast and tidying some of the flat, has taken me the best part of an hour to finish. Ooops.

 

More stories soon, hopefully. Thanks for reading.