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Year End Book Report: My Favorite Books/Comics I Read in 2022

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, comic books with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2023 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

2022 was, for some weird reason, a very productive reading year for me. I reached the highest amount of books/comics read, EVER. So let’s dig into that.

You can find my reading log on Goodreads. I log everything I read there. My reading goal for 2022 was 150.  And according to Goodreads, I finished out the year with 241 books.  I smashed all my previous reading totals. I was even in a position in December where I was within readch of 250, but work was really busy at that time and I didn’t really try to read a few quick things to up the number. Gotta leave some goals for next year, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the GoodReads stats for 2022.

Year in Books 1

It’s not all novels, obviously, I read a lot of comics as well.  And depending on how GoodReads has you log them, it can inflate your totals.  But I’m pretty happy with how much I got read this past year.

Let’s look at the numbers of some of the things I read.

Year in Books 2

Here’s my shortest and longest book I read.  Shortest is an issue of a comic.  Not surprising.  I started that Tom Taylor Nightwing series last year and I’m loving it.  It’s so good.  The longest is, surprisingly, another comic.  I reread the X-men: Inferno story arc.  I hadn’t read that since it came out in 1989.  And I only read the collection of the main mutant titles; X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, and X-Terminators.  Even just that was a lot, but there’s a whole separate collection of all the tie-in books.  At least 20 more issues of tangentially related books.  I had to draw the line there.  Inferno is great, but…no.

Year in Books 3

Here are my “most popular” and “least popular” shelved books.  Most popular was Jurassic Park.  I re-read that last year for the first time since the summer the movie came out.  It’s still a pretty great book.  I’m hoping to re-read the sequel, The Lost World, this year.   Look at that, over a million other people shelved Jurassic Park last year.  That’s crazy.  Wow.

And the least popular book I shelved was The Story of Breakin’.  Which is supposed to be an oral history of the making of the movie.  Don’t get me started on that.  It’s enthusiastic, but it’s not great.

Let’s move on with my recap of my favorite books I read this year.

Rules are the same as every year.  Only books/comics I read for the first time in 2022 are eligible for this list.  No re-reads, of which I typically had a few.  I don’t usually read brand new stuff the year it comes out, but it happens.  This year I read 5 novels that were released in 2022.  One of those 5 was a “did not finish”.  Let’s see if any of them made the list.

Here are the top 5 books I read last year in no particular order.

Images and links are from GoodReads pages.

Books

Rule of Wolves
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
– The currently final book in the Shadow and Bone series. All of this series has made it onto my year end lists in some form or another. The final two books are a duology focusing on Nicolai, who is my favorite character. The book before this, King of Scars, was a very slow starter, so I was concerned going into this.  However, this book was a fantastic ending (?) to the saga.  The story was good, characters arcs wrapped up nicely, it was so much fun.  This whole series is good, but my favorites are the middle two books, Six of Crows, and Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo is currently one of my favorite writers.  All of her books are really fun and have really good dialogue and characters.

Showtime!
Showtime!: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman
– I’m a huge fan of pre-2000s NBA documentaries and biographies. I’ve read a couple huge oral histories of the NBA and the ABA, and tons of books about players and teams including Larry Bird, Pete Maravich, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Celtics.  This was one I never read.  It’s what the HBO series Winning Time! is loosely based on.  So after really enjoying season 1 of Winning Time! I decided to give this a shot.  And it’s everything I wanted it to be.  Pretty much an oral history of the Los Angeles Lakers starting around the year before Magic was drafted in 1979 and ends right around his (first) retirement in 1991.  It’s a lot of information but it’s a lot of fun to see all the locker room shenanigans the team got into.  And not just the players, Jerry Buss was kind of a wild man as well.  This was a really fun read.

Just One Damned Thing After Another
Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St Marys Book 1) by Jodi Taylor
– Being a huge devotee of time travel books, I’ve been lurking on these St Mary’s books for a while.  Currently I’ve read a short prequel to the series, this first book, and the second book.  I think there are currently 14 books in the series.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to finish the full series, but the first two books are really really good.  There’s a St Mary’s Institute for Historical Research at the University of Thirsk in London.  It studies historical events in “contemporary time”.  Which is a fancy way of saying, they travel back in time and study historical events.  In this book time travel exists and this research institute uses it to bolster the human record of the past.  However, the quirky staff at the Institute are disaster magnets and anything that can go wrong will.  It’s the characters that are the highlight here but there is some good time jumping action.

Kaiju Preservation Society
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
– I’ve always wanted to read John Scalzi but I never pulled the trigger. I read a sample of his book Redshirts, but never actually finished it.  However this came out in February 2022, and my library had a copy online, so I quickly checked it out. And this is a lot of fun.  At first glance you think, “It’s essentially Jurassic Park”.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I read another book in that pastiche that I liked a few years ago called The Great Zoo of China.  They can be a lot of fun.  This story obviously isn’t Earthbound.  The goverment discovers a portal to another dimension and a land filled with kaiju.  They set up a research station in that dimension to learn more about the creatures.  It doesn’t really go the way you expect, ie the kaiju run rampant killing people.  It’s actually more of a people villain that causes a bunch of havok, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.  And the way the research station works and the variety of kaiju are definitely interesting.

Jack West Jr #7
One Impossible Labyrinth (Jack West Jr Book 7) by Matthew Reilly
– I started this series way back in 2010. It’s showed up on my year end list several times, as has the author, Matthew Reilly.  This is the final book in Reilly’s Jack West Jr series which is a big, epic, adventure series akin to Indiana Jones, but even bigger.  There’s a lot to digest here, it’s not just a one off book, you’re gonna need to read the series from the beginning or you’re gonna be lost.  And as a finale, this book nailed it.  I love this series, but the last three or four books have just been exquisite.  Reilly really knows how to write action and keep the plot moving.  So fun.

As usual, I also read a bunch of movie novelizations this year for I Read Movies.  However, I don’t include those in this list.  I do a separate write up for I Read Movies year end.  Check it out here.

Let’s switch over to comics! Here are the top 5 comics I read last year in no particular order.

Comics

All-New Wolverine
All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor and David Lopez
– I love Laura Kinney (X-23), so I was very curious about this title where she takes over the mantle of the dead (at the time) Wolverine. I think this was also the title that introduced me to writer Tom Taylor.  This is such a great series.  I read the first three volumes in the title and I love every minute of it.  Laura gets a quirky group of characters around her and they have these awesome adventures.  I really enjoyed it.

Nightwing
Nightwing by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Neil Edwards
– So I loved Tom Taylor from All-New Wolverine, and I kind of do like Nightwing. Actually, it wasn’t really Nightwing that drew me to this, it was Taylor and all the buzz he was getting about how good this title is. So I gave it a shot.  Taylor takes over in issue #78 and I’ve read through about issue #94.  The title is GREAT.  I love Dick as Nightwing in this.  I love Barbara Gordon.  I love that the Titans show up every once in a while.  Blockbuster is the main villain, but he’s more a terrifying mob boss than he is the smash first monster that I’m used to.  This is a really good title that I’m continuing to read because I enjoy all the characters.

Squirrel Girl
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
– I’ll admit, the buzz for this one actually kept me away.  The art is weird, I didn’t get the character, and it just seemed like this whole Squirrel Girl “thing” was just not for me.  But I kept hearing from people it’s really good, so towards the end of last year, I decided to just give it a shot.  And you know what?  I really liked it.  Ryan’s humor is a lot of fun.  He writes extra comments in the margins of the comic that are pretty weird and funny.  The first page of each comic is a Twitter-like conversation between Squirrel Girl and other heroes which is hilarious.  I just really enjoyed Squirrel Girl’s positivity and outlook.  I’ll be honest, Erica Henderson’s art takes some getting used to.  Everyone looks weird.  But over time it just works.  You get used to it.  North’s Squirrel Girl adventures remind me a lot of Christopher Hastings Gwenpool series from a few years ago.  Very much enjoyed this.

Batman 3 Jokers
Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok
– I was reluctant to get into this one because I don’t really want an investigation into the nature of The Joker.  The Joker, to me, is a force of nature, an agent of chaos.  I don’t need him defined.  This does that, to a point, but it’s a really good look at how the Joker has affected the lives of Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon, and to an extent, Batman.  In the book we learn there are three Jokers; The Clown, The Criminal, and The Comedian.  And we learn how each one works.  It’s really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Jason Fabok’s art is fantatic as well.

Maniac of NY 2
Maniac of NY vol 2 – The Bronx is Burning by Elliot Kalan and Andrea Mutti
– The followup to the original Maniac of NY.  I really like this book.  This continues the story of how New York City would deal with having a mysterious, unkillable movie slasher that can disappear and reappear at will.  You have the burned out detective on the slasher swat squad, you have the disaffected mayor, you have the cynical police force.  It’s really good.  However, there are some frustrations, but I think the comic knows they are frustrations.  The book lays out a few “hints” to the back story and nature of the killer, Harry.  Total plot threads like certain spots of the city that he seems to avoid.  And a few other things that point to a possible weakness.  However, nothing is ever picked up on.  They are completely left dangling.  It’s possible these threads will be picked up again for the possible upcoming part 3, but as a reader, that’s fascinating and frustrating in equal measures because I really enjoy this book.

And those were my favorite books and comics I read in 2022. I’ll maybe have a followup article to this talking about some Honorable Mentions.  You know, things that maybe I liked that almost made the list, but also things I didn’t like and really want to talk about.

Hope you enjoyed this article and found something new that you may eventually love.  Let me know if you do!

Okay, that covers EVERYTHING I’ve read.  Next up…MOVIES!  Stay tuned.

I Read Movies’ 2022 Year End Round up

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 9, 2023 by Paxton

As you probably know, I host a movie novelization podcast called I Read Movies.  Every month I read a movie novelization and then on the podcast I talk about the differences between the movie and the novelization.  A few years ago, I decided to add a year end round up for I Read Movies to my other “year end” lists.  It’s been fun and some of you seem to like it.  So here I go again.

2022 was a good year for I Read Movies. It switched over to the Cult Film Club podcast network.  It also got its own online home on the CFC website where you can browse previous episodes of the show.

I’m really liking how this online database is shaping up, I hope you guys like it too.

So, in 2022, I covered 12 novelizations for I Read Movies.  I’m very happy with the group of novelizations I picked this year.  I kind of love all 12 of these books for different reasons, but I took a few moments, really looked inward at myself and all I hold dear, and came up with at least 5 of the novelizations that were my favorites this year and why they were my favorites.  I say “at least 5”, because I may cheat and include an extra or two.  We’ll see.

So let’s see which novelizations I most enjoyed covering on the show in 2022!

FYI, I decided to use the photoshopped IRM episode images for these entries instead of just the covers from movienovelizations.com.  They are so much fun to make and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to showcase them more.  I’ll link each entry to the IRM show page on CFC.com.

This is list in the order of show release.


Superman IV: The Quest for Peace by BB Hiller
– The very first episode of the year.  Cult Film Club covered this movie back in episode 31.  I go back and forth on this movie.  Sometimes I think it’s terrible, and sometimes I find it so bad it’s charming.  My hope was that the BB Hiller novelization would shed some light on things, like Superman’s Great Wall constructing eye beams, and why he gets radiation poisoning from Nuclear Man.  The book didn’t answer everything, and it’s a tad shorter than I’d like, but it has several deleted scenes from the movie, including the scenes with the first Nuclear Man, and it keeps the somewhat weird zany tone.


Batman and Robin by Michael Jan Friedman
– This novelization was the only one of the original four (Batman 89, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) that I didn’t read during the original release of the movie.  And right up to when I did it for the show, it was still the only one I hadn’t already read.  To be honest, I don’t love the movie, so I had never really intended to actually cover it on IRM.  Then I was on the Authorized novelizations podcast talking about the movie and the novelization and realized there’s a lot of fun stuff to mine in that book.  So after I recorded with Authorized, I decided to do this book.  I still don’t really love the movie, but the book was a lot of fun.


Spider-Man by Peter David
– I’m a big fan of Peter David.  Throughout the years I have read the vast majority of his novelization output.  And a good bit of his novels.  I had read all three of these Spider-Man novelizations by the time I did this on IRM.  I remember there being a lot of Easter Eggs pointing to other heroes in the Marvel Universe.  This show was a lot of fun to do because I attempted to do the JK Simmons “J Jonah Jameson” voice.  Regardless of the success of that, I enjoyed attempting it.  This is a great novelization, if you like this first movie, you will love the novelization.


Blade by Mel Odom
– I’ve owned the Blade novelization for years.  I didn’t get it when the movie was out, I got it many years later, but before even IRM was a gleam in my eye.  And I’d never read it.  So digging into it for IRM was a lot of fun.  There’s a lot of good stuff in this one.  It makes me sad that Blade II is the only book in the series that did *not* get a novelization.  Blade Trinity did.  And I own it.  I’d like to do it for the show, but I’m not sure I want to even read it.  It’s a big one.  Nearly 400 pages.  I know when watching Blade Trinity recently the one thing I didn’t say was, “You know what, this movie should be longer.”


Return of the Living Dead by John Russo
– 2022’s Halloween episode, voted on by you listeners!  I love this movie.  I discovered this movie during the 80s home video boom.  I had this one-sheet in my bedroom for years.  My dad and I were such frequent renters at our local video store that they pretty much gave us first choice on posters when they came down from the wall.  I’ve since lost it, and believe me, this is the one poster from my childhood that I regret not holding onto.  This novelization is really good and evokes the feeling of the movie; grungy and punk.  Underground.  Dirty.  It’s a great adaptation of the movie.  If you can find a copy, read it.


Home Alone by Todd Strasser and Home Alone 2 by AL Singer
– The last episode of the season.  Both original Home Alone movies.  I’m not going to lie, I love both of these movies so I was very excited to cover both of these novelizations this past December.  The booby traps and physical harm that happen to Harry and Marv don’t come across as bone crunching as it does in the movie, but they were both still a lot of fun to read.

So those were my favorite novelizations I covered on the show this year. Let’s take a look at a few overall stats for I Read Movies.

Over the course of the show I’ve covered just over 70 books and novelizations. That includes the 64 episodes of the main show, as well as the Apendix special episodes, and any other special episodes I did for Nerd Lunch and Cult Film Club.  How about an author breakdown?

Currently, the author I’ve covered the most on I Read Movies, and the reigning champion from last year, is Craig Shaw Gardner.  I’ve covered five of his books including Batman 89, Batman Returns, The Lost Boys, Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part III.

The rankings haven’t changed much since last year. In second place is still Alan Dean Foster with four books on the show (Star Wars ’77, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, The Last Starfighter, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Third place is a four way tie between James Kahn, Jeffrey Cooper, Glen A Larson, and Peter David, with three titles each.  Then there are a bunch of authors where I’ve covered only one or two titles. Will any new ones emerge next year to join this list? Since I know what the book list is for next year, I’m going to say…yes, there is some movement in the rankings next year. Stay tuned!

So, that’s my I Read Movies year end novelization round up.  Hope you enjoyed this past year of the podcast.  I believe I have a lot of good novelizations coming up in 2023. I’m going to do something different with this year’s book selection. Normally I just pick the books I want to cover and that I think will make an interesting show. However, this year, I used a different method for picking the books, and it’s something I got from my other podcast, Crestwood House. You’ll hear all about it in I Read Movies’ first show of the year soon enough. And in that show I’ll be covering Adventures in Babysitting by Elizabeth Faucher. That should be a lot of fun.

2021 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report with tags , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2022 by Paxton

YE Book Report

I posted my favorite books/comics of 2021 a few weeks ago.  As usual, I had a few entries that didn’t necessarily make my favorites list, but I still wanted to talk about them.  Good and bad.

Starting with books…LET’S BEGIN!

Shadow & Bone Seige & Storm
Shadow & Bone / Seige & Storm – The first two books in the Grishaverse series.  This is what the Netflix show is based on, well the first book here, and another book in the series are mashed together.  I read the first two books in 2021.  I like a lot of what’s in them.  The world that’s set up is awesome.  This version of magic is closer to super powers than actual sorcery.  I like the main protagonist, Alina.  She’s got a nice arc through 2/3 of the first book, until she doesn’t.  The biggest issue I have with this series is Alina’s love interest, Mal.  He is the f**king WORST.  Completely worthless.  Shadow & Bone starts off with Alina being best friends with Mal and pining for him while he goes off completely ignoring her.  Typical storyline.  But then Alina is found to be Grisha, which means she goes off to a special school to learn about her powers.  At this school, she discovers that she can’t use her powers.  They refuse to work on command.  She has to work through her feelings about Mal, who isn’t Grisha, and realize that she was suppressing her powers and hiding them from Mal so he didn’t find out. because he was kind of anti-Grisha.  Alina ultimately gains control of her powers again because she gives up this weird attachment to Mal.  BUT THEN, Mal returns and completely destroys everything Alina had gained from the previous portion of the book.  And he’s terrible to Alina.  He says he loves her, but his actions say otherwise.  He treats her like garbage.  I hate him.  And I don’t know why he came back.  Alina didn’t need his love or his help in the climax of the book.  And he’s still there being a complete wet blanket throughout the second book.  So, these books are great.  The characters are awesome.  The world is interesting.  The one character of MAL is *very* close to being a deal breaker.  I hate him so much.

Nathaniel Cade
The President’s Vampire series by Christopher Farnsworth
– This series is so high premise I get vertigo just thinking about it.  One hundred and fifty years ago a vampire was discovered on a whaling vessel that had docked in Boston Harbor.  Thinking quickly, President Andrew Johnson has a voodoo witch doctor bind the vampire to the office of the President of the United States.  From then forward, the vampire, now known as Nathaniel Cade, is sworn to protect the office and the country from all unnatural enemies.  I love the idea of this series; imagine the series 24 but swap out Jack Bauer for a vampire.  That’s essentially what this is.  And it’s totally played straight.  They handle all the supernatural elements very well.  And along with all the unnatural goings on, we do get a bit of political intrigue as well.  So far it’s only these three books, but Farnsworth also wrote two novellas featuring Nathaniel Cade; The Burning Men and Deep State.  This is a fun series that I really enjoyed reading this year.

Recursion
Recursion by Blake Crouch – I love time travel.  Especially when a book does something different with it.  And this book sort of intertwines time travel, with memory, and alternate realities.  I really don’t want to give anything away, because there’s a lot of surprises here, but, on a high level, there is a doctor that is working on a cure for Alzheimers.  Her mother has it.  She is hoping to create a system that allows people to relive their memories in a fully immersive VR environment.  Needless to say, her work is picked up and sort of steered into a new direction and all hell breaks loose.  Like seriously.  This book gets BANANAS.  I really enjoyed it.  It literally just missed out on being in my “favorites” list.

Now, how about some comic book honorable mentions?

Maniac of NY
Maniac of New York by Elliott Kalan
– This comic is a *lot* of fun.  It takes the premise of…”What if Jason Voorhees were real, and nobody could stop him?  So city officials and the people in the city decide to make the best and just live with him.”  How would peoples’ lives change? This really puts forth some interesting thoughts.  Radio morning shows have a Killer Watch during the traffic report.  They let you know if he’s been seen on the subway.  And there’s a task force set up to stop him, but no one seems to be able to as he appears and disappears like a ghost.  I read the first 5-6 issues of this and really liked it.

Flash 36 Flash 61
The Flash (1987-) #36 – 61
– Being a big fan of The Flash, I read this title as it was coming out starting with issue #3 in 1987.  Back then I probably read up to like issue 50 or so.  I only stopped about the time I went to college and stopped reading comics for the most part.  Back in 2020, I decided to start a reread of this title.  I read issues #1-35 in 2020, and then I continued through issue 61 in 2021.  Mark Waid started his storied run in issue #62, but my memories of this series are the first 61 issues before Mark even got there.  And I thoroughly enjoyed my reread of this series.  These Wally West issues are pretty great.  He loses his powers.  Gains them back.  He wins the lottery and becomes rich.  Then loses all his money and becomes poor only to get rich again.  It’s a roller coaster.  And there are more than a few issues that are weird and not great.  Linda Park is completely wasted in her run, even becoming possessed by what seems like an ancient Irish wizard, but turns out to be the Kilg%re.  Lots of weirdness and wackiness.  But most of it is really good.

So there are a few extra book/comic recommendations.  Look for some movie honorable mentions later this week!

Year End Book Report: My Favorite Books/Comics I Read in 2021

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, comic books with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2022 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

2021.  What can I say.  I’m still working from home.  Things got a little better in some respects, a little worse in others.  But through it all I was able to keep reading.  And logging my reading.

So, as usual, you can find my reading logs on Goodreads. I log everything I read there. My reading goal for 2021 was originally 115 books. However, I reached that goal in like October.  So, I went in and readjusted my reading goal to 140.  And according to Goodreads, I finished out the year with 170 books.  I tied my total from last year.  Let’s take a look at some of GoodReads’ stats for my reading last year.

Reading 170 books certainly sounds impressive. And I did it twice.  It’s not all novels, obviously.  There are a generous amount of comics in there.  And several smaller kids books.  I actually didn’t even log *all* the books I read to my kids.  Only some of them.  The newer ones.

Let’s look at some of my other Reading totals.

Here’s my shortest and longest book I read.  The shortest was one issue of The Flash (1987-).  Starting in 2020, I did a read through of the first 62 issues of that Flash series.  An issue at a time.  In 2021 I read #36 through #61.  That was a fun re-read.  The longest book as you can see is Stephen King’s The Institute.  That was a pretty good book too.  It felt like there should have been a small connection to Firestarter in that book.  But it never materialized.

Here are my “most popular” and “least popular” shelved books.  Most popular was Huck Finn.  I had started a re-read of the three Mark Twain books I’d read back in high school; A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Adventures of Huck Finn.  I read all three last year.  I hope to read the two other Tom Sawyer books he wrote that I’d never read; Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer Detective.  Again, one of the least popular things I read was an issue of my The Flash (1987-) re-read.

I’ve already set my GoodReads reading goal for this year.  I set it to 150.  I’m not trying to stress myself out with this goal.  But I am trying to up it a little every year.

Let’s move on with my recap of my favorite books I read this year.

Rules are the same.  Only books/comics I read for the first time in 2021 are eligible for this list.  No re-reads, of which I had a few (I think I mentioned most of them earlier).  I don’t typically read brand new stuff the year it comes out, but it happens.  This year I read 5 novels that were released in 2021.  I wonder if any of them made the list. Let’s find out.

Here are the top 5 books I read last year in no particular order.

Images and links are from GoodReads pages.

Books

Project Hail Mary
Project Hail Mary (2021) by Andy Weir
– I had wanted to read The Martian for years, and then the Matt Damon movie came out.  I loved it, and kind of thought, “Well, now I don’t need to read that book.”  Which is not true, I really should.  However, when Weir put out his next book, Artemis (2017), I checked it out and read it.  And promptly hated it.  So, when Project Hail Mary came out this year, I was a bit cautious.  This looked a lot more like The Martian than his previous book, so I gave it a shot.  And I really really liked it.  A guy wakes up on a spaceship.  He’s clearly not in our solar system.  He seems to have previously been in a coma.  His crew mates are dead.  And he can’t remember anything.  This is where you start in the book and we have to learn everything along with the main character.  The story goes into some surprising places.  I really enjoyed it.  The strength of this is making me want to read The Martian again.

The Tournament
The Tournament (2014) by Matthew Reilly
– I love Matthew Reilly.  His Jack West Jr books have made it onto my “best of” list.  I think his Scarecrow series has also made it onto my lists.  He’s a really fun action author and I really enjoy reading his books.  I think at this point, I’ve only not read maybe 2-3 of his books.  This had been on my “to read” list for a while, but for some reason Reilly’s Kindle books very rarely go on sale.  I typcially like to pick up Kindle books when they are $2.99 or less.  His rarely go there.  So it wasn’t until this year that I finally used a gift card to buy this book.  And I’m glad I did.  This book is GREAT.  It takes place in the 1500s.  Queen Elizabeth II is just a teenager.  Her teacher is Roger Ascham.  They travel to Constantinople to witness a grand chess tournament to determine the greatest chess master in the world.  But a murder during the tournament sends Roger Ascham, a smart, amateur detective, into the depths of the sultan’s palace to discover a murderer.  Lots of mystery and suspense in this one.

BTTF Ultimate Visual History
Back to the Future Ultimate Visual History (2015) by Michael Klastorin with Randal Atamaniuk
– I’ve mentioned before I love oral histories.  I previous read all three of JW Rinzler’s “Making of” Star Wars books.  I want to read Rinzler’s Indiana Jones “Making of” book.  Last year I read one on Jaws and one on one of my favorite video games, NBA Jam.  I’d also many years ago read one on Saturday Night Live.  I’ve even read a Back to the Future “Making of” book before.  And I didn’t love it because, honestly, I already knew all the stuff in that book.  So, while I bought this newer Back to the Future Ultimate Visual History, I was worried I wasn’t going to like it because I thought I would already know everything it had to tell me.  But I was wrong.  This book is so well laid out.  Lots of great info.  There was even a bunch of stuff I didn’t know.  They dig into many aspects of the production of the movie.  Even the whole Eric Stoltz debacle.  And it tackles both sequels, as well as Back to the Future The Ride, and Back to the Future The Animated Series.  So it’s comprehensive.  And very readable.  Thoroughly enjoyed this.

Director Should Have Shot You
The Director Should Have Shot You: Memoirs of the Film Trade by Alan Dean Foster
– By Subterranean Press.  Being a movie novelization junkie, and host of a movie novelization podcast, I was super excited to discover Alan Dean Foster, the godfather of movie novelizations, wrote a memoir.  And it’s not just a memoir.  It’s a deep dive into all of the movie novelizations that he’s written, including one that was never published.  He goes through each book one by one in chronological order and gives anecdotes about the writing of the book.  It’s a lot of fun, super informative, with lots of good pictures.  Highly recommend this, especially to novelization fans.  Unsigned copies of this book are still available.  Click the image of the book above to go get one.

Six of Crows Crooked Kingdom
Six of Crows Duology (2015/2016) by Leigh Bardugo – This is by the same author that started the Shadow and Bone series that is now a series on Netflix.  Technically, these two books are a part of that Shadow and Bone series.  In fact, the Netflix series adapts part of Six of Crows in its first season.   Anyway, I was aware of the Shadow and Bone series and wanted to read it.  But then I was searching “heist” books and Six of Crows kept coming up on people’s lists.  So I went ahead and read it.  And loved it.  THEN, I figured out that Six of Crows takes place a few years after the three Shadow and Bone books.  The timeline here is complicated, but in the books, Shadow and Bone is the first trilogy.  Then chronologically comes Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom.  Then taking place a few years after these books is another trilogy.  But I enjoyed Six of Crows so much I just read these two books first anyway.  And they are amazing.  Great characters.  Lots of fun intricate plans.  Good dialogue.  Really enjoyed this.  I also read the first two Shadow and Bone books after these, and I can see where I may have spoiled myself on a few things by doing it this way, but I don’t care.  Reading these two first were worth it.

I’m going to throw in one extra. Call it a “Baker’s Five” of books.

Devil and the Dark Water
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
– This book was on this list until literally the last 5 days of 2021.  I read Turton’s first book in 2019.  It was mostly good, but sort of went off the rails towards the end.  However it was written engagingly enough that I was interested in his next book.  And this was it.  It is sort of a Sherlockian setup.  Takes place in the 16th century on a sailing ship.  Murders start happening.  The “Sherlock” character is locked up in the brig as a suspect.  And the “Watson” character has to solve the mystery on his own.  That’s a very basic setup.  There’s a lot going on in this book.  But it has a great atmosphere, I loved the mystery, and I really enjoyed the characters.  There are a couple of Macguffins in the story.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As usual, I also read a bunch of movie novelizations this year for I Read Movies.  However, I don’t include those in this list.  I do a separate write up for I Read Movies year end.  Check it out here.

Let’s switch over to comics! Here are the top 5 comics I read last year in no particular order.

Comics

Red Hood 1
Red Hood and the Outlaws (Rebirth) by Scott Lobdell and Dexter Soy
– So, as I do, I sort of got on a Jason Todd kick this year. I was always curious about the Red Hood, so I decided to check out Lobdell’s Rebirth series.  And loved it.  I read through the whole thing.  Jason Todd as Red Hood, Artemis, and Bizarro make a great team.  And they were like a family.  It was such a good dynamic.  And Lobdell brought the humor.  Jason Todd’s relationship with Batman and the rest of the family is so sardonic.  But it’s clear that he appreciates them.  His whole sardonic attitude is great and it belies the fact that he’s great at what he does.  He’s usually as prepared as Batman is.  This is a great series and I wanted to delve more into Jason Todd’s adventures, so next I read…

Under the Red Hood Red Hood Lost Days
Batman: Under the Red Hood/Lost Days by Judd Winick, Doug Mahnke, and Jeremy Haun – These books are two different runs separated by 5-6 years, but I’m putting them together because they are by the same author and they are mirrors of each other.  Under the Red Hood was the original run where Winick had Jason Todd return as the titular character.  It’s a great story, told from Batman’s POV that involves the Joker, Talia al Ghul, and Nightwing.  I loved it.  Red Hood: Lost Days is a follow up to the original run, also written by Winick, but many years later.  Essentially, it’s Under the Red Hood, but this time it’s from Red Hood’s POV.  So we get a lot of what you didn’t see in the first book.  This one is also excellent and I highly recommend it.

Fire Power 1 Fire Power 2
Fire Power by Robert Kirkman and Chris Samnee – I’m a fan of Robert Kirkman.  Unlike others, I don’t worship at the altar of Walking Dead, but I love Kirkman’s work on Astounding Wolf-Man, Invincible, and Marvel Zombies.  I’m also a big fan of Samnee’s art.  One of my all time favorite things is his Black Widow run with Mark Waid.  So combine these two on a kung fu tale and YES PLEASE.  I read the first three volumes of this which goes up to about issue 12.  It’s about an ancient shaolin temple that seeks to rediscover the art of throwing fire.  And one man comes to the temple to learn.  Then, the story shifts like 15 years, and we see the man with his wife and kids, and his days at the shaolin temple come back to haunt him when a rival temple comes to attack his family.  It’s really good, I really enjoyed this title.  Great art, of course.  And the story really picks up during the “15 years later” part.

MM Mighty Thor 1 MM Hulk 1 MM: X-Men 1
Marvel Masterworks (Thor, Hulk, X-Men) –  Continuing my journey reading through some of these old Marvel issues.  I had set a goal for myself earlier this year to read all the Marvel Masterworks volume 1s featuring the original line up of the Avengers; Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, Wasp, and Captain America.  Yes, Captain America wasn’t in Avengers #1, but he showed up in #4, and he’s so linked to the group at this point I’m including him.  I’ve done all of those now except Captain America, Ant-Man and Wasp.  Captain America has two, the Golden Age archive, and the Modern Age archive (essentially before and after “frozen in ice”).  I’ll probably just do both.  Anyway, this year I tackled The Mighty Thor (Journey into Mystery), The Incredible Hulk, and in a break from my Avengers challenge, the original X-Men.  I loved all of these.  In X-Men you see a ton of firsts including Cerebro, Magneto, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver.  And everyone is in love with Jean Grey.  Hulk’s is super weird.  Originally he only changes at night.  Then, he has an accident where in order to change into the Hulk, Banner has to bathe himself in Gamma Rays with a radiation gun.  EVERY TIME.  And Thor’s is a lot of fun too with appearances by Loki and Odin.  And Thor has his Doctor Blake secret identity.  And his nurse Jane Foster.  OMG.  So much drama.  I really recommend reading these early adventures of your favorite heroes.  They are so much fun.  Like I said, this year I hope to do Captain America, Ant-Man/Wasp (Tales to Astonish), and maybe Uncanny X-Men.

Black Widow 1 Black Widow 2
Black Widow by Kelly Thompson – Kelly Thompson is the best.  I originally discovered her on Kate Bishop: Hawkeye.  Then I followed her to West Coast Avengers.  Which I loved and was sad it didn’t continue after issue #10.  Now I’m reading her Deadpool series and this, her Black Widow series.  This is so good.  The first collection has Bucky and Hawkeye, the second collection has Yelena and Spider-Girl.  I love Thompson’s voice.  Her dialogue is so great.  The art is by Elena Casagrande and Rafael de Latorre.  And it’s *also* fantastic.  This is a great series.  Love it.

And those were my favorite books and comics I read in 2021. I’ll maybe have a followup article to this talking about some Honorable Mentions.  You know, things that maybe I liked that almost made the list, but also things I didn’t like and really want to talk about.

Hope you enjoyed this article and found something new that you may eventually love.  Let me know if you do!

Okay, that covers EVERYTHING I’ve read.  Next up…MOVIES!  Stay tuned.

I Read Movies’ 2021 Year End Round up

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2022 by Paxton

IRM 2021

As you probably know, I host a movie novelization podcast called I Read Movies.  Every month I read a movie novelization and then on the podcast I talk about the differences between the movie and the novelization.  Last year, I decided to add to my usual “Best of” lists a year end round up for I Read Movies where I listed out my favorite novelizations that I covered on the show.  So, this year, I’m doing it again.

September 2021 was a big year for I Read Movies.  Not only was it IRM’s 4th birthday but September was the show’s 50th episode!  Hard to believe I’ve done that many episodes.  On the main podcast, I covered 12 novelizations in 2021.  You can see the covers of the novelizations I covered above.  I say, “on the main podcast”, because I did cover a few extra books on other podcasts.  I did the 1995 Mortal Kombat novelization for Cult Film Club, as well as an Appendix episode on the original Stephen King novel, Running Man, that inspired the movie.

So that makes 13 novelizations covered by me in 2021.  I’m very happy with the group of novelizations I picked this year (and you guys, you definitely helped me decide).  Out of 13 novelizations, it would have been easy to pick nearly 10 as my favorites.   But I really dug deep and narrowed it down to my five favorite novelizations.

So let’s see which novelizations I most enjoyed covering on the show in 2021!

FYI, most images and links are to movienovelizations.com.

Batman Forever
Batman Forever (1995) by Peter David
– I covered the first two Burton Batman movies back in 2019. So I continue the coverage of the 90s Batman movies with the third movie in the series. Like the previous two, I had read this novelization when it originally came out and remember loving it. So I was very excited to cover it for the show. And it is still very good. David manages to squeeze in lots of Batman easter eggs as well as lots of early story elements that did not make the movie. Like the giant bat. It’s definitely a fun read. I originally had no real intention to cover the final movie, Batman & Robin. I had read it several years ago and my memory was that it wasn’t very different. Well, I recently appeared on the Authorized Novelizations Podcast and we discussed Batman and Robin, so I read it for them, and I discovered I was wrong. There was lots to talk about. So, now, expect to see Michael Jan Friedman’s Batman & Robin novelization on IRM in 2022!


The A-Team (1983) by Glen A Larson
– A few years ago I started trying to cover at least one TV novelization during the year. I covered two Knight Rider episodes the last two years. This year, I decided to do The A-Team. This novelizes the very first episode, Mexican Slayride. It’s a lot of fun and adds a lot of fun tidbits and scenes to the action of the show. On the other side of the coin, it also doesn’t add any context to things in the episode that aren’t great.  Like Hannibal dressing up as a *very* stereotypical Chinese laundry owner, and the part of the show where Hannibal doesn’t help Amy when she’s accosted and nearly raped by two dudes coming out of a strip club.  That being said, the book is a lot of fun and I think the show turned out to be a good one.  2022 will bring another TV novelization to the show, so stay tuned!

WarGames
Robocop (1987) by Ed Naha
– Shawn had covered this in an article on movienovelizations.com. It sounded bonkers and could be a lot of fun. I mean, in it, Robocop gets a dog! And Murphy’s wife, who shows up in all the movies, actually moves to the moon in this book! They colonized the moon! So yes, I was excited to cover it, and the book delivered. It’s definitely a lot of fun. And actually, I had so much fun, I decided as soon as I finished it, that I wanted to cover the Robocop 2 novelization right after it.  And so I did.  And it was just as fun.  This was a reallly fun 1-2 punch and the episodes I think show how much fun the books were to read.

Back to the Future II Back to the Future III
Back to the Future Part II/Part III by Craig Shaw Gardner –  For my first anniversary back in 2018, I covered the first Back to the Future novelization by George Gipe.  That was a *lot* of fun because you could tell the book really followed the original version of the movie that had Eric Stoltz.  A lot of the gags from the Michael J Fox version just weren’t there, like  all of the “Coast Guard” and “life jacket” jokes from the movie.  Plus the “Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan” scene was extended.  It was a lot of fun to do that episode.  So for my big 50th episode I thought, it’s time to cover the sequels.  So I did both in one episode.  And while these books weren’t as bizarre and different as the first book, they had a lot of fun diversions in them.  They even address one aspect of time travel I had always wondered about in the BTTF universe.  When does a person from the future receive updated memories from a timeline change?  Like Marty at the end of the first movie, will he receive all the memories from his childhood with a more loving and healthy version of his parents?  Or will he always have that hole in his memory and when the family is reminicising he just has to play along?  These books, at least a little bit, address that.  And I appreciate that.

The Mummy 1999
The Mummy (1999) by Max Allan Collins
– This one was a surprise to me.  I forgot how much I love this movie.  Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz are so adorable.  It’s just a lot of fun to watch this movie.  And when I rewatched it for the show, I found myself not taking notes and just watching the movie.  And the novelization continues that fun.  It front loads the book with a lot more of the ancient Egypt stuff, and adds a few extra scenes at the end.  Like I said it just surprised me how much I enjoyed revisiting the movie and reading the novelization.  So, now I want to do the sequel, The Mummy Returns.  Max Allan Collins actually wrote all three Mummy novelizations as well as the very first Mummy spin off with the Rock, Scorpion King.  And you know how much I enjoy one author writing multiple books in a franchise.  So, this may be the beginning of another sub-series on IRM.

So those were my favorite novelizations I covered on the show this year. Let’s take a look at a few overall stats for I Read Movies.

Over the course of the show I’ve covered just over 60 books and novelizations. That includes the 53 episodes of the main show, as well as the Apendix special episodes, and any other special episodes I did for Nerd Lunch and Cult Film Club.  How about an author breakdown?

Currently, the author I’ve covered the most on I Read Movies is Craig Shaw Gardner.  I’ve covered five of his books (Batman 89, Batman Returns, The Lost Boys, Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part II).

In second place is Alan Dean Foster with four books on the show (Star Wars ’77, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, The Last Starfighter, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Third place is a tie between James Kahn and Jeffrey Cooper with three titles each.  Then there are a bunch of authors where I’ve covered only one or two titles.

So, that’s my I Read Movies year end novelization round up.  Hope you enjoyed this past year of the podcast.  I believe I have a lot of good novelizations coming up in 2022.

What usually happens with IRM at year end is that I take a break in January, and then new episodes start again in February.  And this February IRM is going to debut new episodes on the CultFilmClub.com podcast feed.  However, due to behind the scenes stuff, I want to move my break to later in the year, so I’m going to go ahead and do a January episode this year.  So expect that soon.  And I’ll go ahead and reveal it to you now, I’ll be covering the novelization of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.  Up, up, and Away!