Shastrix Books

Recently reviewed

Jennings of Course

Jennings of Course

19th August 2016

The fourteenth Jennings novels sees us join the pupils at Linbury Court as their lost property cupboard is overflowing, the school Christmas concert approaches, and the school cook has left.

I can see this being a very funny story to a younger reader, but as an adult everything seemed a little bit too predictable and cringeworthy to actually make me laugh.

Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed another visit to the world of Jennings and to a story that I barely remembered from my younger self's readings - but it's probably not one of the best books in the series.

read more

Buy book: UK
Backlash

Backlash

19th August 2016

Somehow this is the eighth Anna Travis novel and yet it feels like much less has happened. Anna's brought in to help out on a cold case with ties to a recent murder, and deal with some emotional baggage.

The plot is strong, with some interesting twists and a feeling of uncertainty throughout, which leaves the reader rooting for the character right to the end. There was a point where I was wondering what was happening as the book felt like there want enough to fill the rest of the pages, and it felt like the en t part was almost tacked on to bulk up the length, but it was still good stuff.

Fortunately the author has dropped some of the more ridiculous soapy plots that have appeared on some of the earlier novels, and though there is still character development it feels more mature and realistic, which actually helped make for a more relatable main character.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book and it has really helped me get back into reading after a bit of a drought recently. I even found myself pulling it or of my bag to read in the evening as well as on the train, which only seems to happen now with truly addictive reading.

read more

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

, &

19th August 2016

Who would have thought there would be a sequel? Who would have thought it could be as exciting again? I was slightly dubious when I heard there would be a play, but my interest has been slowly piqued by the marketing department’s drip feeding of information - but nothing could have prepared me for reading this, the rehearsal script for the play (the actual play may include tweaks to the text made during rehearsals and previews - but I haven’t managed to see it yet).

Fortunately, I’ve read a number of scripts before (I own scripts from Star Trek and Doctor Who - and we were taught from scripts at school by the likes of Arthur Miller and William Shakespeare), so wasn’t phased by the difference in format. In fact, I quite like the format of a script, as it gives the right amount of description to force my brain to put in some work in the imagination department, unlike in a novel where it thinks someone else has done the work and I don’t need to visualise it. There were a few places where I found it awkward though, such as scene breaks that return to the same scene afterward (like a TV show ad break) or over use of one particular uncommon word in the stage directions.

I felt that the opening was fairly predictable, and was lulled into thinking it would continue that way, but then was hit by several things, before the plot twisted off in directions I never would have guessed. It addresses a number of elements from the books that hadn't even occurred to me as needing following up on, and certainly adds a great new dynamic particularly to the characters' relationships as we see them in new situations.

I was thoroughly satisfied with this book, despite it being fairly quick to read (I read the first half twice before allowing myself to progress, which not only dragged out the experience but helped me take it all in). I look forward to one day being able to see it performed on the stage.

read more

Captain to Captain

Captain to Captain

19th August 2016

I'm not really into reading The Original Series novels - being that my interest in Trek began in the late 90s (the first novel I bought was from August 1998) and even then TOS seemed incredibly dated to me. That said, this is the 50th anniversary, and this book is the first in a special celebratory trilogy, and so it felt only appropriate to get and read it.

The story takes place on the Enterprise, where a former crew member, Number One, has popped by for a visit which quickly becomes interesting for Kirk and Spock. Fundamentally, Number One (the first officer from the original pre-Kirk Star Trek pilot) is the star of the show here, and we follow her viewpoint for much of the story.

It's a good, action-packed tale that includes a number of concepts and familiar elements from the history of the franchise, mentions more, and introduces some interesting new aliens and artefacts that will clearly have ongoing involvement in the trilogy. I got more and more into the story as it progressed, much more than I expected for a TOS story, and really enjoyed reading it.

I’m now sitting desperately waiting for the second story to appear in my frequented set of bookshops so I can find out where the story is going to go next.

read more

Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
White Sand volume one

White Sand volume one

, &

19th August 2016

I must begin with a caveat - I am not a great reader of graphic novels (aka comic books). In fact, this is probably the first one I've read or bought. I purchased this volume though because it's a story by Brandon Sanderson, and is the start of one of the many threads of his stories that are set in the same universe.

So it took me a little while to get used to reason this format. My instinct is to focus on the words - and only to glance at the pictures to get an idea of the key pieces of action. This is an approach developed by years of reading the likes of the Beano as a child, where the drawing served as a vehicle for the joke. That approach really doesn't honour the amount of effort that must go into creating a book like this and I had to force myself to slow down and take in the art.

While the artwork is incredible and must have taken forever, it has a slightly sketchy feel to it which felt a bit unfinished and rough. I found this a little off putting as it made me feel I was looking at storyboards rather than the finished item.

The story is another brilliant Sanderson, filled with unexpected twists, hints of secrets yet to be revealed, and yet another amazingly complex magic system and cultures which hell this book barely scratches the surface of. My only criticism I suppose is that as this is just 'Volume One' it ends rather abruptly and isn't as long a story as I would have liked. On the other hand, that will make it much easier to re-read when the next volume is published, unlike Sanderson's usual epics.

read more

The Long Cosmos

The Long Cosmos

&

18th August 2016

The final novel with Terry Pratchett's name on the cover, this is also the fifth and final story in the Long Earth series. The other author, Stephen Baxter, explains in the introduction that the pair wrote the book several years ago and so Baxter has only had to shepherd it through the publishing process by himself.

Joshua, the original step-day explorer, is heading off on one final time expedition into the many parallel worlds that he discovered, and the whole of the Long Earth is reacting to a strange message from the skies.

It's a great conclusion to a series which looking back on my notes I've enjoyed very much. The story does well to build upon and wrap up a number of the story points raised in the earlier novels without feeling like everything is coming to an end. The narrative is full of the wit and humorous references that are expected in a Pratchett story, and it certainly serves as a fitting end to his fantastic literary output.

read more

Rules of Accusation

Rules of Accusation

&

18th August 2016

The second Deep Space Nine novella from Block and Erdmann, this story follows Quark in what would equate to one of the lighter episodes of the TV series, as he attempts to organise a party.

Compared to most literature in the Star Trek universe, this story is incredibly light hearted and comedic, the narrative full of jokes and references both to Star Trek and other pop cultures. It makes for a nice light break from the more serious adventures that we've had more recently.

It's a great little story that I enjoyed massively, and I hope Block and Erdmann become regular contributors to the literary canon.

read more

Buy ebook: UK
Show more

Reading now

Ready Player One

Reading soon

  1. A is for Alibi
  2. The Gunslinger
  3. Dèjá Dead
  4. The Name of the Wind
  5. Fearless
  6. Dissolution
  7. Postmortem
  8. Girl Missing
  9. The Last Don
  10. Divergent
  11. Labyrinth
  12. The Left Hand of God
  13. The Murder Bag
  14. Death is Forever
  15. The Maze Runner
  16. Research
  17. The Whole Truth
  18. The Disappearing Spoon
  19. Murder in the Museum
  20. Oh Dear Silvia
  21. Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
  22. Play Dead
  23. Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman
  24. The Listerdale Mystery
  25. The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow
  26. Shattered
  27. Dead Beat
  28. The Wheel of Time Companion
  29. Dead Man's Time
  30. The Victoria Vanishes
  31. The Son
  32. The Disappearing Floor
  33. Seven Up
  34. Chosen
  35. The Skull Throne
  36. Resurrection Men
  37. Wolf's Brother
  38. Foxglove Summer
  39. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
  40. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
  41. The Ambassador's Mission
  42. Gallows View