asking for trouble

Books, Comics & Zines I Read in 2018

I’ll be updating this page throughout the year, hoping to meet my reading challenge of 60 books (eligible books are numbered below). You can follow me on Goodreads too or read about what I read in 2017.

1. Thrawn by Timothy Zahn ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
May as well start the year as I mean to go on: reading even more Star Wars novels. Zahn’s no-longer-canon Thrawn novels were the books that really got me into the Star Wars EU so I was excited to read this. I much prefer books about the Empire and I think this version of Thrawn is better, as is his new sidekick, and getting a look into his origins and rise is pretty enjoyable. Looking forward to more.

2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I picked this up after reading this list of upcoming book-to-movie adaptations but I’m not sure why this one got made when there are so many better YA romances. It’s the first book in a series but doesn’t have a satisfying ending at all, and I didn’t really like anyone in the book apart from the sister relationship. (I may also have been put off by the early annoyance of her sister at college in “Saint Andrews” in Scotland where she apparently has a roommate. NOPE. Why are so many US authors obsessed with St Andrews and/or British royalty? Our royals are lame overprivileged idiots! You have Beyonce and the Obamas!)

3. Vicious by V.E. Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This also turned out to be part of a series but thankfully this book is a self-contained story. Despite the whole real life superpowers thing, which sounds very similar to Heroes (though I did not watch that show) and a slightly upsetting level of violence and nihilism, I enjoyed this a lot. It has a whole cast of really great characters and a plotline that unfolds by flipping from past to present. I will definitely read the rest when they come out.

4. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
And this too! You really have to admire the way it ends with a character basically asking for a series of books. I was wary of reading this as I have not yet forgiven the author for the ludicrous ending to London Spy. It does go off the rails (quite literally!) near the end but is otherwise pretty well-plotted and gripping. Really depressing though, but hard to avoid that when writing about child murders in Stalinist Russia.

Runaways #1 by Rainbow Rowell & Kris Anka
(I actually read this in January but I forgot as it’s not on Goodreads as a single issue). I don’t know anything about the Runaways and only picked this up as a big Rainbow Rowell fan. It’s too short to really get much idea about the characters or story so I think I’ll wait until they’re cheap enough that I can read the whole lot together.

5. Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith #1 by Charles Soule & Jim Cheung ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not quite as cool as the other Darth Vader series but still decent. It’s set directly after Revenge of the Sith and I do like ‘Anakin struggling with his rage and new mechanical body’ stories. Will read the rest as and when they price drop.

6. Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I remember reading about this at the back of the Divergent books and scoffing a bit but I picked it up at the library and actually it’s really good. The first Divergent book was my favourite by miles and I wished there was more of that once it all got into super high stakes save the world stuff. These stories just barely overlap with Tris’ story so it’s a nice bonus with some extra info on Four’s backstory. Probably doesn’t quite deserve 4 stars but how can you not?

7. Artemis by Andy Weir ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was surprised to see this available in the library so soon after release, although the reviews have been pretty bad. It was better than I expected – just a fun heist romp on the Moon. I’m fascinated by Moon colonies so I liked his concepts of how Artemis and its society worked. The writing is very juvenile though. It’s also nice that someone finally wrote a book for all the welding enthusiasts out there. Really, why so much detailed welding?!

8. Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Yeah, I need a break from Star Wars novels. This took me so long to read. It’s not quite that it’s boring – it just goes into a lot of detail and Jyn’s parents and Krennic feel less interesting than what we saw in Rogue One. The Disney Star Wars universe also seems a bit too restrictive – everything happens in the same places with the same bit players. I’m generally fine with the books retconning stuff from the prequels but the Death Star being built at Geonosis REALLY annoyed me for some reason.

9: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Another library pickup. I haven’t seen the TV show but I really want to now as it almost reads like a screenplay. It’s such an interesting concept, exploring how people would react, cope and move on if an event akin to the Rapture happened. It finishes a bit abruptly so there seems like plenty opportunities for the TV show to expand on things. 

10. Rock Stars Stole My Life! by Mark Ellen ⭐️⭐️⭐️
All my library requests came in at once so I’ve had to drop everything and read them. This looked like a quick read so I picked it up first. I could read about 1980s Smash Hits magazine forever so there wasn’t nearly enough about that period for me. The first part really drags and then once he starts working for magazines, TV & radio it jumps forward a lot. I didn’t realise quite how many UK magazines he’d edited/launched so there’s a lot to fit in and not a lot of space for more than a few anecdotes. If you’re a magazine obsessive or into classic rock, this is worth reading. Smash Hits and pop fans look elsewhere.

11. Larchfield by Polly Clark ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
My local library has multiple copies of this book, constantly out on loan because….I live in Helensburgh where the book is set. It features intertwining stories of two people who move to Helensburgh without any local connections – a modern day new mum with a busy husband and the poet WH Auden, who taught briefly at a boy’s school here in the 1930s. I did the same thing 4 years ago so I felt an immediate connection with both characters. I enjoyed both stories (and their crossovers) but was mostly intrigued to read about what Helensburgh was like in the 1930s. Which also led to a fun Twitter thread over the long-demolished outdoor swimming pool. I’m not sure the book would be quite as interesting if you don’t know Helensburgh but it’s well-written with some lovely phrasing (the author is also a poet).

12. The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Quite literally the diary of a bookseller – the owner of a second hand book shop in Scotland’s book town Wigtown. He’s also delightfully grumpy with the endless streams of idiotic comments from visitors, his unmanageable staff members and the increasing problems caused by Amazon. It’s very funny but you also get to follow along on book-buying trips and get a first hand account of the book festival organisation. Highly recommended for anyone who loves books or has ever had to work in a shop.

13. Adventures in Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case by James Ward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A birthday treat! This is a very fact-based book about stationery, telling the stories of how our favourite stationery items and brands came to be. If you’re British and of a certain age, you will be filled with nostalgia for the contents of your school pencil case. Everyone else may miss a few references but should still find the stories interesting and learn a few fascinating facts to impress/bore friends and family with. 

The GaMERCaT: Volume 1 by Samantha Whitten 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I don’t back many Kickstarters but I can’t resist a comic, especially one as good as @thegamercat. This turned up a few days ago and I read the whole thing in one sitting. I remembered a lot of the strips but it was great to read them all in order and find out more about each character’s origins. If you like videogames and cats you should go follow the Tumblr and grab this when it goes on sale to everyone.

Pirate Fun: The First Trial by by Colin Bell and Neil Slorance 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I loved Dungeon Fun (and have been following Neil’s work since our Craft Mafia days) so I obviously snatched up a copy of this preview comic. It took me a while to actually read it and now I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest (there will be a Kickstarter for a full book later this year). Fun & Games fit right into pirate life and the jokes are excellent. 

14. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was tough going, following the story of an escaped slave in the USA and her travels on a version of the underground railroad that is literally an underground railroad. It’s obviously well-researched and jumps between timelines and locations to give an overview of different situations for black people during slavery and the people who helped them and hated them (plus some awful real life advertisements for their escaped “property”). As hard as it was to read, I kind of wish it had been way way longer and more in depth. You feel a little bit disconnected from the characters as many are only on the page for a chapter or two. I need to look up some more books on this subject.

15. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I know virtually nothing about Wonder Woman but I am all in for whatever Leigh Bardugo feels like writing. Mostly I really enjoyed this book – thanks local library! The beginning of the story on Themyscira was great, as was the fish out of water stuff in our world but the final third was a bit much for me. Presumably all the Greek mythology references are part of Wonder Woman’s whole thing but it it was too weird. Still definitely worth reading if you’re a Leigh Bardugo fan – the characters are all diverse and awesome with plenty fun twists.

16. The Plant Hunters by Charles Lyte ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As I said on Twitter, this should have been subtitled: Disastrous expeditions by British botanists who kind of had it coming tbh but at least they sent back exotic flowers. These men are all certifiably insane – travelling around the wildest parts of the world and risking their lives constantly in search of new plants to send back to the gardens they worked for. These stories are incredible and full of hardship, danger, shipwrecks, accidents and death, though most of this could easily have been avoided by not acting like your typical arrogant racist Victorian explorer. The lengths these men went to hunting for rare flowers that are now common in Britain is fascinating though and you’ll never look at rhododendrons in the same way again.

Pet Shop Boys, Annually 2018 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
One of the many reasons I still love the Pet Shop Boys is that they care about pop music so much. What other band is releasing a beautiful hardback book once a year full of exclusive writing and photos? The highlight this year is a feature where they walk around various locations in London that were important to their early career.

17. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a pretty dark tale of triplet sisters with different powers who are destined to be queens but only one can take the throne and has to kill off the others. There is so much setup that it feels quite dull but you do eventually come to be interested in all 3 sisters and the action soon picks up as they come together to show off their power. The final line is a real kicker and I’m definitely going to read the rest. 

18. Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I love Eric Newby’s writing and I love these sort of badly-planned journeys of no real point but this was a little disappointing. It starts off full of the usual amusing resignation at the endless problems and disasters as he attempts to sail down the Ganges with his awesome wife Wanda. Unfortunately, they hardly ever manage to get on the water and there is a lot of train journeys and visiting of important sights that are not really that interesting to the average reader. If you’ve ever visited India, you might enjoy this more but it left me a bit cold.

19. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I don’t read much true crime but this is exactly the sort I do like, where it is as much about the author as the killer. She is such a good writer and really digs into everything including her obsession with the case and everyone else who was still working to find answers. In terms of creepiness, this is one of the worst I’ve read – I was both hooked on reading more and wanting to stop before I had nightmares. It was definitely a relief to read further on and know that the suspect just arrested had to definitely be the guy. If only she’d lived to see it happen and finish the book how she wanted – the final letter to the killer is incredible.

20. Runaways Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell & Kris Anka ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As predicted, I loved this so much more with six issues to read in one go. Since each issue focuses on a different member of the gang, I feel like I know them all and the history now, so might even start reading monthly. I’m not sure I would guess this was written by Rainbow Rowell, but once you know you can definitely see her usually awesomeness of writing smart, funny teens. Recommended!

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (DNF)
I loved the first half of this with art student Karou living in alternate Prague running errands for her demon family. Then it turned into a BIG EPIC DRAMA about angels and demons and forbidden love and I completely lost interest. Once Karou’s past was revealed, I didn’t care at all about anyone so I gave up. I read the summaries on Wikipedia for the whole series and I’m super glad I didn’t waste any more of my time on this.

21. Ragworts by Bill Drummond ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was surprised to suddenly get an email about a new Bill Drummond book and bought one immediately. It’s not actually new, but 100 copies are released every year until the edition is sold out. I will read anything he writes and this is generally good stuff from his The17 era. It covers an art residency in Sheffield with lots of musings on gentrification and factories, plus some new scores to try. A star off because I’m not sure it really needed to be a £10 hardback book, but it does look nice on my bookshelf.

22/23. The Prisoner #1 & #2 by Peter Milligan & Colin Lorimer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Despite the rather misleading covers, this is a new story set in current times with a slightly predictable hero and spy plotline that eventually brings everyone to the Village. The artwork is good though, and it’s fun to be back in this universe. I probably would have preferred a comic series of the original stories but this will do for now.

24. Cool Tokyo Guide by Abby Denson  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A fun guide to visiting Japan and Tokyo with some good tips and advice. Since I write my own guides, I didn’t learn a lot but there were a few things I’ll note down for my next trip. I liked that it’s a comic book but it’s geared towards adults, rather than kids or families. However, the drawing style is not to my taste, plus it uses Comic Sans throughout, which is really unforgivable.

25. Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail by Duncan Campbell-Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I will defend Royal Mail to the death – despite obvious flaws, it provides an incredible service for the cost. Having worked briefly as a mail sorter myself, this book made me realise I am a major postal nerd. It’s crammed full of fascinating facts and goes into loads of detail. Probably too much detail for most people – there’s a lot about management and government policies that I did skim on occasion. I mostly just loved discovering where a lot of the jargon and tasks I remember started from, and that if I met up with postal workers from any time in the last 150 years, we really would have very similar job experiences. Once I hit the 1980s it became a total bummer though – I wish I’d stopped reading as the last batch of chapters were essentially a hate-read about privatisation and made my blood boil.

26. Good Company: The Community Issue by Grace Bonney 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This is everything I wanted In The Company of Women to be. I still haven’t finished that book but I read half of this in one sitting and the rest on a trip. Every article is really interesting and raises ideas and experiences that I hadn’t thought about before. I wish it wasn’t entirely US stories/contributors, but I understand why. A lot of things about US life and culture just seem so completely alien to me in rural Scotland so it’s hard to be as inspired to action. Looking forward to the next issue though.

27. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I loved the TV series and had heard the book was longer and more detailed (always a bonus for me!) and picked it up cheaply. I’ve never really read Stephen King before as I’m not a horror fan, and I was a little surprised at how good a writer he is. I really really loved this and was disappointed to read up and discover he hasn’t written any other books like this, but I’ve noted a few others to check out sometime.

28. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Teenage girl starts a feminist resistance in her school inspired by her mum’s Riot Grrrl zines and Bikini Kill? Hell yes! This was great and smart with lots of different female characters. There were so many points when I thought it was heading to some cliche girl betrayal plotline and it never happened so double hurray for that. I’m only sad I don’t know any teenagers to gift this to.

29. The Story of the Great British Bake Off by Anita Singh ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A fun fluffy history of the show. I’ve been watching GBBO live since the beginning, but never rewatched, so it was nice to be reminded about all the early contestants. There’s also some interesting stories from behind the scenes. Mostly though, it’s just too nice. Despite being unofficial, it has a constant gushing tone and rarely digs in to any story. It’s also one of the worst-formatted ebooks I’ve ever paid for, with giant illustrations of the contestants repeated constantly throughout the chapters. Presumably, in the print book, they’re set in next to the text but in the ebook, you seem to be constantly swiping past pages and pages of faces.

30. Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Vol. 1: Black Squadron by Charles Soule,  Chris Eliopoulos, Phil Noto ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Almost made it a month without a Star Wars book! This gets good reviews and had a price drop so I checked it out. It’s good fun and gives you a bit more pre-The Force Awakens story. Will keep reading I think.

31. Lost London: An A-Z of Forgotten Landmarks and Lost Traditions by Richard Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I forgot to mark this as read on Goodreads and can’t remember when I actually finished it. It’s a great idea for a book, covering landmarks and buildings that no longer exist in London. It’s all too brief though with some entries just a paragraph long, and expects the reader to know a lot about London already. It might have worked better as a blog project, where you can dig into the stories and people can comment with their own knowledge.

32. The Prisoner #3 by Peter Milligan & Colin Lorimer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Best issue yet. This feels much more like The Village a few decades later, rather than a modern spy story with some references. I doubt it will have a satisying ending next issue (such a short run!) but I remain hopeful.

33. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Despite having watched various TV and film adaptations, I had never read any Le Carre books, so I picked this up on offer. The writing is great but the story is a little confusing to follow – I’m not sure I would have understood half of what was going on without already knowing. Still interested to read more though.

34. 13 Journeys Through Space and Time: Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution by Colin Stuart  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I bought this a couple of Christmases ago, almost entirely because it’s such a pretty little book with gold foil stamping. I had assumed it was transcripts of lectures but actually they are very nice summaries that cover the main points and the fun experiments with a little bit of atmosphere and notes on current updates to any theories or numbers. You also get little bios of the speakers, a few photos of their original notes or correspondence and memories from staff or audience members. The 13 talks are picked from the last 200 years and cover everything from the solar system to time travel in an accessible way. 

35. L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I wanted to love this as David Lebovitz is such a good writer, on pretty much any subject but it was a bit disappointing. I did read it all in one day (involving a 4 hours on trains) so it’s no fault in the writing – the story of his disastrous home renovation zips past, with occasional breaks for (barely-related) recipes. The problem is that he blames himself and his naivety for all the problems and so you stop feeling very sympathetic towards him, especially since he generally just fixes every problem with more money. The other major problem is the lack of photos – there are none whatsoever so it’s hard to imagine how bad anything actually was. I understand not wanting to share your home with the world, but then you probably shouldn’t be writing a book about it. I’m not sure the story is strong enough without some visuals. No regrets though – always happy to have the opportunity to give some money to writers of blogs I love.

Space Brothers by Chuya Koyama ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I forgot to check my manga app and there were a whole bunch of new chapters to read. It feels like a lot less is happening, but maybe that’s just because I’m reading a few individual chapters, rather than a whole book. Do we really need more flashbacks for minor characters though? I’ll still be sticking with it until the end – I love all the main characters so much. 

36. Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Watching S2 of Anne With An E reminded me I still have a few Montgomery novels to read. They all really have a variation on the same story but this was one of the better ones.

37. The Prisoner #4 by Peter Milligan & Colin Lorimer  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A better ending than I expected with some good twists. Deserved a longer run of issues though – it was a bit rushed. Also gives me some hope that a watchable TV series/film reboot is possible. Dropping a modern-day spy antihero into the 1960s Portmeirion Village could actually be super fun.

38. I’m Not with the Band: A Writer’s Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I enjoyed this so much! 1980s/1990s Smash Hits was one of the defining influences of my life (and writing) and Sylvia was responsible for much of the silliness. Unlike other Smash Hits journo memoirs, Sylvia spends a lot of the book reminiscing about all the larks they had and it’s rarely short of hilarious. She made me chortle my way though her recounting of an interview with U2 of all people. The thread throughout the chapters is her disappointment in the change from the early days of asking silly/rude questions to even the biggest pop stars of the day to the current off-limits, approved questions only, celebrity machine. I also related so much to her life of doing what she loved for very little money and then finding yourself middle-aged still with very little money. I wish I’d bought this instead of borrowing from the library – will definitely be looking out for my own copy to reread sometime.

39. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli ⭐️⭐️
I initially gave this 3 stars and then had to downgrade after re-reading Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. I think I was blinded by the sheer enjoyment of hanging out with Simon again (still a great, adorable, character). Leah is also an awesome character who deserved her own book but I didn’t really like the love interest in this one – she feels like a completely different character than the previous book. There’s also a LOT of cliches (and having your characters remark at how much of a cliche it is doesn’t lessen it) especially Drama at Prom. I also disliked how it ended on the big kiss – one of my favourite things about Simon was how it continued the story past that.

40. In the All-Night Café: A Memoir of Belle and Sebastian’s Formative Year by Stuart David ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve been having quite a summer of Scottish pop music and this memoir fitted in perfectly. I’m not the biggest Belle and Sebastian fan but I used to live in Glasgow with 2 well-known fans from the early days and have other friends in common so a lot of this was familiar ground. This covers everything from the first meetings at a music course for the unemployed (and the events there would make a great TV show) to their first album release (as part of another music course) and beginnings as a full band. It’s full of interesting details and stories, especially about the songs and people. I just wish we could get another book up until Stuart David left the band.

41. This Is Memorial Device by David Keenan  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
And then this. I’ve not generally been a fan of David Keenan’s music writing – or music – but this I really enjoyed. It ticks a lot of my boxes – fictional bands, bands that are legendary locally but virtually unknown elsewhere, Scotland, interconnected stories etc. etc. It’s formatted as an oral history with interviews and stories by people who were a part of the scene surrounding a band This Is Memorial Device and keeps a rough unedited fanzine style as if this is an unpublished work in progress. It starts out feeling like a vast cast of characters but you soon start to figure out who everyone and it just gets better and better. If you’ve ever been part of a music scene, you should give this a go.

42. Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011 by Lizzy Goodman 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Excellent oral history of the New York music scene around The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol etc. It’s really well edited to read like everyone is in the room together, chatting and arguing. I wasn’t really into any of these bands but it was the period when I was traveling around writing about music and running a music website so it was all super-nostalgic for me. It was such an exciting time with the internet getting more popular and the early days of Napster/Audiogalaxy but before social media. I also hung out with The Strokes a couple of times on their first tour so it was cool to read about all the craziness surrounding that time. It’s also pretty depressing how quickly everyone turns into rock and roll cliches but I had never considered how much these NYC bands were affected by 9/11. Definitely worth a read.

43. The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A modern retelling of Vanity Fair that I enjoyed a lot, despite having never read the original. I’m now having a great time watching the ITV series, and being surprised at how clever some of book plot/character updates were.

44. Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This has been on my ebook wishlist for so long before a price drop that the marriage in the title is over, but since they still run the restaurant together, that knowledge didn’t detract from the story too much. If you like reading about creative people and the stresses and triumphs of starting a new business, this is an interesting read, and very honest.

45. Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I forget who recommended this, but it’s a fun look at people who try to fake their own deaths, and where they go wrong. The author initially has a romanticised view of the idea of starting a new life but the realities turn out to be quite different. It’s a bit too shallow to be fully enjoyable but I learned some fun facts. 

46. Freshers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I need to stop reading books described as “hilarious”, however good the recommendation. It always seems to mean that everyone is constantly drunk and getting into ridiculous situations. Sure, some of this felt very familiar from my own UK university experience (though thankfully I started late and missed both Freshers and living in halls) but it wasn’t all so stupid. I did like the unexpected ending, though it also seemed a bit like they were hoping to write a sequel. 

47. French Milk by Lucy Knisley ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I love Lucy Knisley’s comics but this is a zine pretending to be a book. It’s simply a travel diary with drawings, photos (often of the exact same things in the drawings) and bits of text about a trip to Paris with her mother. If it had actually been a zine, I would have given it a higher rating but I expected more from a book. Instead, it feels like the rough notes for a book, that would then be expanded on and edited to remove the repetitiveness and personal angst for a more full story. It is a very early work though, so I hope some of her newer books get a price drop.

48. Modern Slorance: The Finland Issue by Neil Slorance 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Always great to see a new issue of Neil’s personal comics. This one is especially nice as it’s all in full colour watercolours. It’s about his recent art residency in Finland with the usual mix of travel, food, nature, space, romance and humour. I especially liked the Moomins reworked into tortoises.

49. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was surprised this was a recent book as it felt less polished than her earlier books. Maybe I just wasn’t into the story, of rival families controlling a dystopian future city full of monsters. I liked the build-up and the characters but once it turned into constant chase scenes and twists, it was just too much action. I’m not really excited to read the sequel but I’m definitely going to read more of her books.

50. Runaways, Vol. 2: Best Friends Forever by Rainbow Rowell & Kris Anka  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Okay, I am all in on this now. The first volume was a necessary introduction for us newbies but now things are really getting going and I love everyone. The art is so good too – I might have to buy the print collections.

51. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Great sequel, though it took me a while to adjust to all these new characters when the first one was so much about the main 2 characters, but it’s great to see more female characters driving the story. I really enjoy all the different types of superpowers she comes up with, and the science behind is is clever. Even if you don’t like superheroes or SF, I think this had a wide appeal, especially to women.

(Insert weeks of eye infection + holiday to Japan + jet lag + a cold = re-reading all of Harry Potter, that HP fic where they all go to the pub, Fangirl & Carry On, first 3 books in The Wheel of Time. I comfort-reread when stressed/ill.)

52/53. The Steel Prince #1 & #2 by V.E. Schwab & Andrea Olimpieri  ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was excited enough about this Shades of Magic prequel to subscribe to the individual issues but I really wasn’t into the first issue and wondered if I’d made a terrible mistake. The second issue is way better but I think this story will be better saved up for the collections, plus I’m not a huge fan of the art style. 

54. The Hundred Dresses: The Most Iconic Styles of Our Time by Erin McKean & Donna Mehalko ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fun little illustrated book of famous dresses from fashion, celebrity and pop culture. I’ve always enjoyed Erin’s dressmaking blog so this was just as good a read, plus the illustrations are lovely.

55. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I loved this alternate history where a meteorite forces Earth to start the space program in the 1950s in order to save humanity. This means the black and/or female mathematicians and pilots have a bigger role and it turns into a fight to get more diverse astronauts included. My only minor issue is that some of the characters are a bit too good to be true for the 1950s. The protagonist’s husband is pretty much the perfect modern man with enlightened views on racism, feminism and mental health and it took me out of the story a bit. Excited to read the sequel though.

56. Alliances by Timothy Zahn ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I feel betrayed. This promises to be an epic team up of Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn and is instead mostly about Anakin & Padme (& Thrawn). I don’t care how good a writer you are, I will never buy their relationship.

57. Unscripted by Claire Handscombe 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Claire was one of the first people I got to know on The List App (RIP) and it’s been awesome to follow her journey to publication and help with the crowdfunding. I was a little apprehensive reading it (as I find it hard not to be honest) but I really loved it. It’s so nice to read a romance novel that takes itself seriously – it’s full of intelligent characters that manage to sidestep all the usual cliches with a minimum of misunderstandings. From the description and first few chapters, I thought I knew how the story would go but I was constantly surprised by the plot. 

58. From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fun quick read about a teenage film maker trying to impress the rich kids and win her best friend back while navigating the usual high school drama and romances. Goes a bit off the rails in the middle but I liked all the characters and I really enjoy the way she writes about Indian families.

59/60. Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 2 & 3 by Charles Soule & Giuseppe Camuncoli ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I hadn’t been that interested in continuing this series thanks to the weird ‘how did Darth Vader get his lightsaber?!?!’ storyline at the beginning but these were on sale and I’m glad to say they’re a lot more interesting. The third issue has some excellent art – and Darth Vader fighting a giant squid underwater, which isn’t something I knew I needed in my life. 

Space Brothers chapters #308-#324 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
It’s great that I forget about this for months and then have a whole load of new chapters to read. I still enjoy reading this so much, even though the story has expanded so far that I can’t image how it can ever end. If you’re fascinated by the everyday details of realistic near-future space travel, you really need to give this manga a try.

61. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Christmas present! This has been on my wish list for ages and yet I had forgotten (or never knew) anything about the characters or story. I was very happy to discover it involves a teenage girl shapeshifter becoming sidekick to an evil scientist who is just doing his best and a whole lot of great dialogue and character work. Please go read it!

Goodreads challenge update (not including zines, rereads and DNFs): 61/60


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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