Audiobooks? Yes or No?

Recently, Lashaan over at Bookidote wrote a post about audiobooks. It’s a really good article about the format and I recommend you check it out. If you do, make sure to read the comments too, as there are some great points made about the pros and cons of the audiobook. This got me thinking about some of the reasons why I listen to them, so I thought I would write a few words on the topic.

I’m quite late to the practice as I only started listening to audiobooks last year. When I was a child, I loved listening to stories so I thought I would see if I still enjoyed the process. I have a 30-minute drive to-and-from work during which I would listen to music or podcasts. After joining Audible, I started using my commute to listen to a book instead. (I still listen to music sometimes–it depends on my mood or how tired I am.)

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Dennis (Denny) O’Neil (1939~2020)

“Make me laugh. Make me cry. Tell me my place in the world. Lift me out of my skin and place me in another. Show me places I have never visited and carry me to the ends of time and space.”
–Dennis O’Neil

Dennis O’Neil pictured with his ‘DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics’

I was very sad to hear the news today of the passing of Dennis (Denny) O’Neil. I got to know his work back in the late 1980s when I started buying comic books. At that time, O’Neil was editor of the two main Batman titles: Batman and Detective Comics. I used to buy them regularly. I remember being excited to hear that a new Batman title was going to launch in November 1989. That title was Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. Denny O’Neil wrote the opening five-part story: Shaman.

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“Face Front, True Believers!”

“What can you get for a dollar? How about the Marvel Universe? Marvel is proud to present TRUE BELIEVERS – special introductory comics for the low price of only $1 each. Marvel history costs only a buck!”

I was able to get my hands on some physical copies of a few of Marvel Comics’ True Believers $1 reprints, so I thought I would share them with you. Look at that brilliant Jack Kirby artwork on the Mighty Thor title:-)

Reprint of Journey into Mystery Vol 1 #114 featuring the Mighty Thor (March 1965)
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Albums of Influence #2: Rendez-vous (1986) by Jean-Michel Jarre

I first got into Jean-Michel Jarre when I was in my early teens back in the mid 1980s. If my memory is reliable–ahem–I believe it was after watching “Rendez-vous Houston: A City in Concert” on BBC2 in 1986. This was a life-changing experience for me. I had never seen or heard anything like it. Watching a musician combine music and visuals to create a spectacular display on the skyscrapers of a modern city, in fact using that city as a stage, transported me to another place.

Rendez-vous Houston: A City in Concert (1986)
(c) Patrick Burke from Atlanta, GA, United States – Rendez-vous Houston

You can find the concert on YouTube now. Unfortunately the picture quality isn’t great but it’s better than nothing. I checked if there was a dvd release but it isn’t currently available. That’s a shame, as I would love to see a cleaned-up HD version.

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Albums of Influence #1: Star Wars – Original Soundtrack (1977) by John Williams

As a way of getting into writing again, I’m going to post 10 albums that have had a big influence on me throughout my life. This is currently popular on facebook. One of the rules on facebook is “no explanations.” So I thought I would bring the explanations over here and share a little on why I have made each selection.

star wars 1

Star WarsOriginal Soundtrack (1977) by John Williams

I can’t remember clearly if the first time I watched Star Wars (1977) was on TV or on my friend’s pirate video copy. This would be in either 1981 or 1982. We went through a phase of watching it every weekend at his house. So much so that I can still quote most of the dialog from the movie all these years later. The same friend also had a copy of the soundtrack on double vinyl and we used to listen to it at his house after school. Continue reading

Long Time No Review

My life

Help! I’ve lost my book review mojo. It’s been almost two months since my last post and it’s not just the blogging. I’m finding it really hard to stick with one book to the end. Since July, I’ve only manged to complete Jeff Noon’s A Man of Shadows and Safraz Manzoor’s Greetings from Bury Park. I’m working on my review for the Noon book but it’s taking far too long.

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The same thing happened during summer last year. I wrote a post called “Summer Meltdown” in an attempt to get some advice from fellow bloggers. It worked, jump-starting me back into reading and reviewing. So I thought I would try it again and ask the few of you still out there reading this blog to recommend a must-read book or short story. What has gripped you recently? Any genre is fine! Continue reading

“Requiescat in Pace” Gene Wolfe, (1931~2019)

“I would like [my readers] to better understand human beings and human life as a result of having read [my] stories. I’d like them to feel that this was an experience that made things better for them and an experience that gave them hope.” – Gene Wolfe


I was very sad to read of the passing of the American science fiction and fantasy writer Gene Wolfe. I’d heard nothing about it until I saw this article on Tor.com. I’ve only read a couple of books by Wolfe and this is something I am determined to remedy. I just wish it hadn’t taken such upsetting news to push me into rediscovering his writing. Continue reading

Hallowe’en Reads 2018

The sky before a typhoon. View from my garden.

Happy Autumn!

As the days cool and grow shorter and the darkness spreads its ebony fingers, are you ready for some chills and thrills?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I make – and often fail to complete – a plan for my October reading. As the theme is Hallowe’en, my chosen genre is horror or any kind of weird fiction. I’m planning to focus on novellas and short stories this year as my reading-time has shrunk over the last few months. So, without further ado, here is my list of stories to read as I tentatively set foot into the October country. Continue reading

Rediscover a Sense of Wonder

white teddy bear reading book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In my last post, I wrote of a “Summer Meltdown” which had left me struggling to read – and especially finish – books. To those who responded, thank you so much for taking the time to read and offer advice or support, I really appreciate it.

The boiling heat of 2018’s summer has finally subsided, and autumn’s cooling touch has brought some welcome relief. BUT I still haven’t reached the end of a book. Wtf?

I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching, trying to find a deeper reason than the summer’s heat knocking everyone out, and I think I’ve discovered what’s been missing.

black and white blank challenge connect

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let me ask you a question. What was the last book you read that you truly couldn’t put down? You know, the kind of story in which you become so caught up that you resent the time spent NOT reading it. A book or story that you keep thinking about when you’re not reading it. One which you can’t wait to get back to reading once your work or chores are done. Continue reading

Summer Meltdown, 2018

Summer sky over Yonago

I seem to have lost my way. No reviews posted for 6 weeks. And worse than that, I have lost my enthusiasm for reading books. Omg!!! I’m not sure why..?

Has this ever happened to you?

I could make excuses such as this year’s exceptionally HOT summer in Japan, (and all across the Northern Hemisphere.) But that sounds too easy. Yes, it’s been boiling hot for what seems like forever yet I’ve got an air conditioner. I can enjoy a cool, dry room at home. Perfect conditions for curling up with a good book. So what went wrong?

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The thing is, I have been reading. Just not as much as before and NOT books. I’ve got back into reading comics. “Oh No!” I hear you cry, “Don’t you know that comics rot your brain?!?” Continue reading