18lvwf9fvw4d4jpgOne of my favourite guilty pleasure movies is Starship Troopers. It is big dumb fun and something that I have seen countless times. Despite all that, I never knew that it was actually based on a book, let alone a book written in 1959!

The fact of the matter though is that beyond the title and basic premise (humans vs alien bugs) there is not a lot that is similar. They are very different, and to be honest, I think I enjoyed the movie more.

I found the book to be quite disjointed, and it jumped in time several times without clearly explaining that that was what it was doing. I have heard of others describing the book as going deep on things like Social Darwinism, but I dunno, maybe I’m dumb, but it was just flat out boring in places. Maybe the Darwinism was filtering out a simpleton like me from understanding some real or perceived subtext. Many parts of the book are taken up with with long discussions or conversations on war and country and militaristic philosophy, and these parts made my eyes gloss over – not because this doesn’t interest me, but because these parts seemed so different from scenes just a page or so before. It was like a fictional sci-novel had been printed and mixed up by accident in a philosophical non-fiction book. But then again, maybe having only had the movie as my point of reference for many years affected some deeper unknown preconception for me.

Maybe I was expecting a rollicking action novel, but it is definitely not that.



61M3EW9ThKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I first heard of Thaddeus Russell on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and although he had some weird views on some matters (he believes there is no difference between Asian and African people, for example), he was interesting to listen to. In the podcast they mentioned his book A Renegade History of the United States so I decided to check it out.

I love history books, especially when they are written in a way that is engaging and interesting, and not just a boring run down of numbers and facts. Renegade covers US history from the early days in a fast moving and action packed way. History often focuses on individuals and politicians, when in reality it is the populace and Joe on the street that gives the real impetus behind movements. This books focuses on these people – the cowboys, the prostitutes, the dock workers, the jazz musicians, and shows that America rose, not at the hands of a few, but with the power of the many.

It gives a taste of what life was like as America grew up, and shines a light on some unknown areas of the past. Definitely worth a read if you like your history books to have a bit of dirt and grit.


American_Psycho_by_Bret_Easton_Ellis_first_US_paperback_edition_1991Regular readers will know that I am an avid consumer of movies and books, and I really like reading books from which movies have been made. A favourite movie in our house is American Psycho, and I have had the book that this is based on loaded on my eBook reader for a long time. I finally got around to reading it and goddam what a weird book.

Weird in a good way.

This won’t be for everyone as its constant lists and descriptions of what people are wearing or eating, and Huey Lewis and the News deconstruction, and straight up brutal and graphically described murder might turn some people off. As a snapshot, however, of a broken mind, nostalgic places in time, and the briefest glimpses of vulnerability, it absolutely shines. It is skilfully written and easy to read, and will simultaneously horrify you and intrigue you.

There is not much more to say really. Pick it up and read it, you’ll know within about 40 pages if its for you or not…


rogue-one-novelizationIt is no secret that I am a long time Star Wars fan, and the arrival last year of the first spin off story was welcome news. The movie was fantastic, but it was with some trepidation that I approached the novelisation. The reason for that was the absolutely awful books that were written to fill the gap between Return of the Jedi  and The Force Awakens namely Aftermath and Aftermath: Life Debt.

I needn’t have worried, I can honestly say that this is the best Star Wars book I’ve ever read. Alexander Freed has done a great job, and it really makes me wonder “what could have been” if he had been the author of the Aftermath books.

While the novelisation does not add a huge amount extra to the story presented in the movie, it is a action packed ride the whole way through, and a real page turner. What it does add to the movie is an increased level of detail of how at this stage of the timeline, the galaxy is in a state of great unrest. The final scenes on Scarif are brutal and hold nothing back. I guess having seen the movie I was able to visualise things in my head, but Freed did a great job of making it all come alive again. The descriptions of the tactics used in the battle above Scarif by Admiral Raddus were also excellent.

Another area where Freed excelled was on the human relationships front. The ongoing frustrations that Krennic had with Tarkin were tangible, and Mon Mothma’s backing of Jyn Erso while on Yavin 4 added a nice layer to their characters.

You don’t need to be familiar with Star Wars lore in order to enjoy this, and even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, it’s a bloody good sci-fi book. Read it.



Following my tradition of reading books on which movies have been based, I recently completed Atonement by Ian McEwan. I watched the movie long enough ago that I could not remember much of the story, so reading the book was like getting to know the story afresh.

It is written well, and before long I was well into the swing of things. There are quite a few characters at the start, but each is written in a way that allow you to recognise who they are and begin building your opinion of them.

The story revolves around three main characters, two of whom are in love and are slowly coming to that realisation, and one who is younger than the other two and who completely misinterprets their actions towards each other. This leads to a huge rift and the need for the title of the book.

I wasn’t overly fussed with the story over all, but in amongst it all there some very well written parts. In particular, McEwan’s description of the British withdrawal in World War Two was excellent. I felt the book really fell down with its ending though as it tries a little too hard to be too clever. I think if it had been a straight narrative of the events as they unfolded that would have been great. But at the end it tries to get all meta and become a book within a book. As such, when it ended I was kinda like “huh?”

In fact now that I am writing this out and saying it out loud, that meta ending could have worked if it was explained more clearly. My “huh?” was probably borne more from a feeling of “Was that actually supposed to be a story within the story? Where does one end and the other start?”. I dunno, maybe I’m too stupid to ‘get’ it.

Its not a bad read, and like I said earlier, there are some parts that are well written. I think for me though, I would feel more comfortable recommending the movie.


lolita-cover-6It’s no use, he sees her

He starts to shake and cough

Just like the old man in

That book by Nabokov

I never really understood that line in the song until I read the name of the author of this book. Yes, that is how much of a sheltered childhood I had.

I’m sure you have heard of this book, or if not, at least are familiar with the name, or even one of the movie adaptations that have been made. The subject is well known – a grown man falls in love with a 12 year old girl. Certainly a controversial topic, and such has been the history of the novel. Despite the controversy, it is widely read and considered a literary classic.

Now, like many other ‘classics’ that I have read, I have no idea why this is considered to be such. It is poorly written, has unmarked time jumps, and is filled with pages and pages of rambling that have nothing to do with the main plot. I suspect that the only reason this is famous is because its about a pedophile. There are times where Nabokov has his characters go on and on about other people and their descriptions of them, even though they have absolutely no relevance to the plot. The ramblings add nothing at all. If you removed them the book might even be a third (or more) shorter.

This led me to thinking many times “Why am I reading this? What does this have to do with anything?” and in fact often when a ramble had ended and we got back to the here and now, I had look back to when the ramble started to remind myself of the context now that we had returned to the main story.

All this is a shame because at times the rest of the story makes great use of the Unreliable Narrator style. Humbert talks completely normally about his desires and intimacy with Dolores, so much so that you have to stop and go “wait a minute, this is a child!” Nabokov does a good job of lulling you into Humbert’s world view. Was it indeed a consensual situation as is presented? Or was Dolores an unwilling participant all along? We will never know the answers because we only ever see things from Humbert’s point of view.

Can I recommend the book? Definitely. Everyone should read books that are a challenge, both in subject matter and in style. There is no finer way to sharpen ones brain than by tackling a difficult read.

Will it be for everyone? Certainly not.


51PiLdOBSCL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Last year for Birthmas my Big Sis bought me The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. She bought it based on a Vlog I had made called In Search of Bill Bryson. If you’ve seen the video, you will know that I had been unsuccessful in trying to track down books by Bryson at my local library. She had watched this and decided to fill my Bryson shaped hole with a Birthmas present.

Bryson is fun to read, and his observations on even the most mundane things are very entertaining to read. This book is full of witticisms and brutally straight commentary on life in general. The skeleton of the book is Bryson travelling from one end of England to the other, and the meat is his discussion of everything he sees, feels, and experiences along the way.

One of the best things about this book is that it is easy to pick up and put down. The stories and anecdotes are short, and while he may spend nine or ten pages in one place, those pages are broken down into smaller parts that you can read in a few minutes. There are laugh out loud moments, sobering discussions on how government works, and pervasive dry wit throughout.

Pick it up and read it all in one go, or make the most of the shorter sections and read it bit by bit. Either way, you’ll definitely have a good time.


If you have read my Star Wars related book reviews in the past, you will know that I have been less than impressed with the latest book trilogy (Aftermath) that aims to fill the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I won’t dwell on them here, but needless to say, after reading them I felt the need to go back to the old books of the Expanded Universe, the books that they now refer to as Legends. I had read the Thrawn trilogy many years ago, and re-reading it again reminded me of just how good Star Wars books can be.


This series recalls the rollicking adventure styling of the original trilogy movies, and effortlessly and smoothly adds to the stories of the core characters. One of my biggest gripes with the Aftermath books is that the core characters are almost unrecognisable (like Leia saying rubbish like “by the blood of Alderaan!”, yet across this trio of books, everything seems familiar and harmonious.

Thrawn is a formidable enemy, albeit with a sometimes eyerolling ability for getting things right, who has our heroes traveling all over the galaxy in an effort to bring him down. I like how the books spend an equal time with both sides so that you get an understanding of their motivations and operations. There are some needless side stories (Ackbar), and some annoying plot lines (C’baoth), but overall the trilogy is a fun read full of action, nostalgia, and good ol’ sci-fi fantasy fun.

I might need to mine the EU for some more good stuff.


If you’ve seen the movie Zero Dark Thirty you might have some idea of how the mission to kill Osama bin Laden unfolded, at least from the perspective of the CIA. The book No Easy Day covers the mission from the point of view of one of the SEALs who was on the ground as it happened.

I have read a couple of other books by SEALs (American Sniper and Lone Survivor) and what set No Easy Day apart from these is that the author doesn’t spend a lot of time going over his training as a SEAL. I recall both of the other books spending a long time describing the SEAL training process, to the point where I wondered when we would get to the meat of the story (we get it, it’s hard!). In No Easy Day however, Owen touches on his entry into the SEALS briefly and then focus turns to the mission to eliminate bin Laden. It was interesting to learn about the preparation that was done, the intelligence that went into it, and just how much they knew about the compound and its occupants.

The mission itself takes up a good chunk of the book and is riveting from beginning to end. Owen has a methodical approach to walking us through what happened, as opposed to the “America, f**k yeah!” tone of American Sniper. The businesslike just-getting-the-job-done attitude was evident throughout the book, none more so than when describing the reaction that he had his team had to seeing bin Laden’s dead body compared to that of the investigative staff:

“We saw dead bodies all the time. It was the ugly we lived with, and we spent no time thinking about once it was finished.”

This book is easy to read, and would be perfect for a flight or holiday.