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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Ideas & Mathew Street

So I had another incident with the vending machine. This time of a completely different design. While I was having my morning issue with the vending machine not dispensing my crisps properly I glanced to the ever-shiny chocolate section. There I saw a Twirl and thought, oh that will be nice after lunch. If I’m still hungry afterwards I’ll come back and get one. Imagine my disappointment when returning to the vending machine after a rather unfulfilled lunch that there were no longer any Twirls left in the machine. Now, I’m assuming there must have only been one left and one of the three students that came in to work that day had decided on the very same thing that I had. The kitkat I had was just not the same.

Today’s blog is as usual in two parts. Firstly I want to have a little talk about where I get my story ideas from and what drives me to write. Secondly about something that is happening in the city I live in at the moment.

Now something that really interests me is where do writers get their ideas from? When ever I come across a blog or article by a professional author this is something I seek out. Now with the plan of trying to recreate these ways to my own benefit but more of an interest in what drives them and if I have a similar way. I know of only one author at the moment that gets his ideas the same way I do.

Most of my ideas tend to come to me in the evenings. Which I suppose in a way is not unusual. I tend to be quite introspective in the evenings, usually in bed where I think about everything and the world. I like to come up with scenarios on how I would solve something or change things so this is usually where ideas drop in to my head. Which can be quite annoying as I’m already in bed. If I’m still fairly awake I’ll try to get up and at the very least make a few bullet points in my notepad. On the other hand, if I’m nodding off I’ll try and force my mind in to remembering it by constantly going over it until I fall asleep. Which can make for some pretty odd dreams! Then in the morning I’ll think about it on the way to work. Usually with a clearer mind where I can actually work out the idea properly. I also tent to do a lot more reading in the evenings which I guess puts me in the story/scenario frame of mind.

Last night I finally came up with that idea for a Dark Angel story that I mentioned in a previous blog. I was actually sat on the toilet before bed and I thought…’what would it be like to be inducted in to the Deathwing?’ and there you go I had a story idea which I had to go and write down. Don’t worry, I cleaned my hands first!

The other major time I come up with ideas is on the train. This is also the way the author I mentioned (Dan Abnett) gets a lot of his ideas. I travel a lot between here and my home town of London as well as Weymouth where my parents live, so I spend a lot of time on the train. (Alas, I don’t drive but I love train travel anyway – I suggest driving would not have the same effect or be as safe ideas wise!) I used to try and read on the train but always got distracted. Now, instead, when I get on the train I put my notepad and pen out in front of me and spend the journey watching the world go by, day-dreaming. Often in these day dreams I come up with ideas and jot them down. Interestingly this is actually where I write more scenes and dialogues. In bed it tends to be the outlines and on the train the actual content. I wonder if any one else finds a similar phenomenon?

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on generating ideas as I’m interested to hear how other people do it.

Now on to Mathew Street Festival, a festival that happens every year on bank holiday weekend here in Liverpool. Now outside of this wordy text-box I am actually a keen advocate of live music. I teach sound engineering and I play in not one but two live bands. I honestly think festivals are a good thing, they bring music to people and supposedly help the economy. I also love events; being a Londoner I love to see people out and about, doing. But I can’t help but feel a certain disdain for Mathew Street.

The amount of pure scum that come from all over the North West for Mathew Street is astounding. It actually makes me sad for the future of the human race. Where all these ‘people’ come from I really don’t know. If Ofsted want to see the pure abject failure of the education system in this country then I can do nothing more than suggest that they come to Liverpool on bank holiday weekend.

When walking to the train station last night for my weekly pub quiz, minding my own business (I even had earphones in). Two tracksuit-clad, fosters-can wielding, young guys deliberately crossed over  a busy road in order to tell me that I had, I quote ‘a fat fanny’. Now I’m not sure if they were commenting on the size of my backside or were just so drunk that they were sorely mistaken as to my sexuality. To be perfectly honest, compared to a lot of the other people ‘attending’ the festival these two ‘lads’ were relatively restrained. I’ve heard stories of young women (12-13 years) using profanity I would not even use and mouthing off about how much the ‘needed a fag’. This couple with the fact that these people bring small children in the the environment sickens me and makes me sad. I currently live right in the city centre so last night I could see a lot of this first hand from my living room window. Now I like a drink like the next person, but it looked like some sadistic scene from a film where everyone had lost their senses. It’s what I imagine the fall of the Roman Empire to be like, but with not nearly as much class.

It’s not about the music, as far as I can tell it never has been. Sadly a lot of music festivals are going this way now-a-days. I have been to festivals and met people there that have not seen a single band and spent most of their time with their beloved MDMA. The fact that the local council relax the street drinking laws just means that teenagers grab a couple of crates of Fosters and head in to the centre to become as close to paralytic as possible. What the council should do to encourage a nicer environment, short of sterilising them would be to not allow people to bring their own alcohol in. In stead, encourage local pubs and venues to make their drinks cost effective and issue special mathew street cups or something similar that people may walk around in. They could also introduce the token system that some festivals have to make sure that ID is necessary.

Well that’s my brief thoughts on the Mathew Street festival piss-up. I’m sure you guys have some thoughts on it too.

As ever I will be interested to read your comments and thank you for reading.