Book cover: The Boy On The Bridge - M R Carey (a boy silhouetted against a red background)The Rosalind Franklin is Beacon’s best hope, on an epic journey around Britain seeking a natural inhibitor to the hungry plague. But it is as riven by politics as Beacon itself – can the crew put aside their differences or is humanity doomed to rip itself apart before the hungries even reach them?

Book cover: Gnomon - Nick Harkaway (pieces of paper drifting against a black background; the outline of a shark fin in the centre)In a near-future surveillance state, Mielikki Neith must investigate why an author died resisting a routine interrogation; and what secrets she was trying to hide. But when Mielikki is immersed in Diana Hunter’s memories, she finds other personalities instead – a Carthaginian witch; a Greek investment banker; an Ethiopian artist; an angry spirit determined to consume everyone. Are any of them real? Who was Diana Hunter?

The Earth is dying. Humanity is living in slum-like orbital stations, tantalised by the promise of Rhea, a paradise only the wealthy can afford to emigrate to. Laura takes an 8-year mission aboard a cargo ship to earn her passage – but her duty shift is disturbed by strange noises and a glimpse of another person where none should be. Just what cargo are they carrying? And where are they really taking it?

Book cover: Shattered Minds - Laura Lam (An eye, the image fractured like glass)Carina Kearney is a gifted neuroprogrammer on a highly sensitive research project to record the lived experience: senses, feelings, memories. She’s also a cold-blooded killer. Scared of her urges, Carina embraces Zeal addiction instead, drowning herself in drug-induced sprees of virtual murder. But her mentor Roz has ambitions far beyond brain recording, and Carina is key to her success. How can Carina escape her in a near-future where any brain can be hacked? And can she ever escape herself?

Book cover: Lock in - John Scalzi (red and white figurines on a white background)The flupocalypse didn’t wipe us out, but it left 1 in 100 people paralysed – or ‘locked in’. One of them was the POTUS’s wife, so we gave a shit. But 25 years later, a new US government is stripping away the life lines that keep Hadens in touch with the physical world, and there’s a killing to be made… literally.

I learnt young to mistrust the excitement of hearing that a beloved book is being turned into a movie (thanks for nothing, Disney). It’s a sentiment shared by many bookworms after the latest Hollywood attempt to boil a favourite down to 90 minutes of entertainment: the book was better. But is this always true? For SciFi Month, I revisited Jurassic Park to see how it held up.

Book cover: TigermanA British sergeant with PTSD ‘retires’ to the soon-to-be-destroyed island of Mancreu, briefed to sit tight and turn a blind eye to the Black Fleet of illegal activity in the harbour. Lester Ferris is happy to do so, until a street kid steals his heart and drags him into the dying throes of a violent underworld. 

The Three - Sarah Lotz (UK book cover)This slick, cynical thriller appears to set out to illustrate T S Eliot’s points: the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.

His comments about the centre and the blood-dimmed tide aren’t far off the mark either.

Four aeroplanes crash on the same day. Investigators quickly rule out terrorism, but struggle to explain what was at fault. They are equally bewildered by the survival of three children, who come through the crashes with minimal injuries against all odds. The crashes and their survivors ignite global conspiracies as a right-wing preacher declares them the harbingers of the apocalypse.

Book cover: Zoo CityZinzi December is a ‘zoo’: she has an animal familiar. Relegated to the violent slums of Zoo City when she is released from jail, she and her Sloth survive on her talent for sensing the invisible threads that bind us to things we’ve lost – retrieving them for a fee. Her only rules: no lost persons cases, no emotional ties. When a client dies unexpectedly, she gets sucked into a case to find one of South Africa’s biggest pop stars, and everything gets very complicated quickly.

Yes, I’m procrastinating. Two posts in one day? What else could possibly be going on? I’ve got a document to draft by Tuesday, and I meant to have it finished by Thursday evening. It’s far from done, so I’m crossing off other bits of mental laundry so that tomorrow can be as productive as physically/mentally possible. Terrifyingly, it’s nearly 6 months since I last jotted notes here on my recent reading. In the meantime, I’ve finished 32 books (what can I say, the longer commute and the part-time work suit me down to the ground). As last time, links go to my commentary elsewhere online.

As some of you are aware, I’ve been lucky enough to have some extended time off this year, which inevitably means that I’ve been reading like the dedicated bookworm that I am. I’m likely to read as many books by the end of June as I’ve read in an entire year (during a lean year, anyway), and I’ve loved every minute. It’s been a couple of months since I last captured what I’ve thought of this mountain of material, so I wanted to do another recap – although I have had the time to be much, much better about logging reviews and ratings on my LibraryThing, which is increasingly becoming my main platform for all book-related activity.

A quick flit through my first quarter of reading, before I forget the details. It’s been a book-heavy year, with lots of opportunities to get some quality reading time in during the Christmas break in Australia and my boy’s month-long absence in India (not to mention my time off in March). I’ve put this to good use and read like the bookworm I am, devouring 20 books to date – most of them fresh reads rather than old favourites.