A Year in Books – 2016

Philip HarrisBooks0 Comments

Following on from my end of year wrap up, here’s the 101 books I read last year (thanks to Goodreads for the massive image) That’s a lot of books and almost 8,000 pages more than last year’s total. Looking back at that lot, there’s a lot of really good books (there were one or two bad ones as well including a couple I didn’t finish and one or two I didn’t post on Goodreads). It’s hard to pick favourites but here’s some of the best full length books (roughly in the order I read them): Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (this is currently on offer for $1.99. Just saying.) Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig The Bureau of Them by Cate Gardner The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish Young Slasher by S. Elliot Brandis Necrotech by K. C. Alexander Little Dead Red by Mercedes M. Yardley 50 Shades of Brain by Jeff Chacon A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Mallerman That last one would be my pick for best book I read all year, with Mercedes M. Yardley’s Bram Stoker award winning, Little Dead Red a close second. They’re all worth checking out though. Plenty of good … Read More

An Unmitigated Disaster

Philip HarrisChatter, Writing0 Comments

I’m now about 66,000 words into the final book in the Leah King trilogy, The Girl in the Machine, and I’ve reached the point where I’m convinced it’s an unmitigated disaster. My outline is in shreds. There’s dozens of plot holes in every chapter. The character arcs aren’t arcs, they’re circles. I’ve forgotten to tie up at least three loose ends and there’s two more that I opened in chapter three that go nowhere. The critical scene involving the aardvark and the pug is physically impossible, and I’m pretty sure several of my character’s names change halfway through the story. Twice. Basically, I want to delete everything relating to this book and take up something sane like juggling scorpions. I’m not going to. Partly because scorpions are mean and that would be dangerous, but mostly because I’ve been here before. ON EVERY SINGLE BOOK I’VE WRITTEN. The Girl in the City, Unseen Planet, The Girl in Wilderness, The Ghost Smuggler, Siren’s Call and both my (currently unpublished) zombie books all went through this same phase. Experience has taught me that my mind is lying to me. I’m not writing in stone. Sure, I’ll have to go back and rewrite big chunks, fill in the holes, check names and facts, and generally … Read More

The Fireman by Joe Hill – A Review

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Read this book.   Sign up for my newsletter and get a year of stories, completely free. CLICK HERE to get started. [The Fireman by Joe Hill – A Review by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 7th July 2016]

A Year in Books – 2015

Philip HarrisBooks1 Comment

As is traditional, I’m posting my 2015 wrap ups late. Even later than last year but hey, that’s the way it goes. According to GoodReads I read 92 books last year. That number’s roughly correct – it includes my own books but there were a couple I didn’t log on GoodReads for various reasons. That’s close to last year’s total of 84 but I was also reading longer books – 14,598 pages compared to 10,498. And what a year of books it was – new books from Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R Kiernan, Cherie Priest, a bunch of (new to me) Stephen King novels and non-fiction from Felicia Day and Amanda Palmer. As with 2014 I read quite a few shorter works and there was a lot of good stuff. My favourites in the order I read them… Hugh Howey Lives by Daniel Arthur Smith Revolver by Michael Patrick Hicks from No Way Home Simple Harmonic Motion by Michael Coorlim Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose Click-Clack the Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman (from Trigger Warnings) Bleach by Christopher Lites If I had to pick just one, I’d have to go with Click-Clack the Rattlebag – short, but very creepy. There were plenty of good novels … Read More

The Martian – A Review

Philip HarrisMovies1 Comment

Go and see this film.   You can find out more about my upcoming releases, and get four FREE books by signing up for my newsletter here. [The Martian – A Review by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 4th October 2015]

Three Books Worth Reading

Philip HarrisBooks, Chatter0 Comments

Time to talk about someone else’s books for a change. I’ve read a few really good novels recently, here’s three of the best… Zer0es by Chuck Wendig Chuck Wendig has been making waves (good and bad) recently with his new Star Wars novel, Aftermath but a few weeks ago he released a technothriller called Zer0es and it’s very cool. I’d pitch it as Hackers meets Terminator or maybe Hackers meets Transcendence. Or Hackers meets The Lawnmower Man. Or Hackers meets some other film where there’s a sinister AI. Anyway, whatever shorthand you settle on it’s a compelling story of a team of misfit hackers vs dubious government agencies. The Martian by Andy Weir This recommendation is probably redundant at this point. With a big budget movie on the way, the self-publishing success story that is The Martian is riding high in the charts. It’s unashamedly nerdy and I’m not sure how that will translate into a movie – I suspect they’ll focus on the action rather than the detailed descriptions of how to survive on Mars – but nevertheless I’m looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. I wanted to read the book before then though and opted for the audiobook. I wasn’t disappointed. R.C. Bray’s … Read More

Super by Ernie Lindsey

Philip HarrisBooks, Reviews0 Comments

I’m not really a superhero guy. Growing up in a small market town in the UK, American comics were not readily accessible. One local newsagent did stock a random selection but there was no rhyme or reason to the issues available and certainly no consistency. Which meant that if I did buy one I got the middle of a story arc with no possibility of reading the rest. With two notable exceptions, the comics I bought were quickly forgotten. Only the one issue of Sandman and the one issue of Hellblazer I found stuck with me. I think I still have them somewhere. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine opened a comic book shop – Comic Connections – that I actually got any real exposure to comics. By that time I was firmly entrenched in the goth sub culture and it was the Vertigo titles that caught my attention. I was the guy in black reading Preacher and Sandman and Hellblazer. The superheroes just passed me by. More recently, I’ve added Locke & Key, a bit of manga and one or two Batman one shots to my shelves but that’s about it. I’ve dabbled with superhero movies and enjoyed some (Batman) and been bored by others (Superman … Read More

Only Lovers Left Alive

Philip HarrisMovies, Reviews0 Comments

My wife and I almost went to see Only Lovers Left Alive during a trip to Calgary last year but the showtimes didn’t quite work out, and we didn’t know anything about the movie beyond the fact it had a cool poster and starred Tilda Swinton. She can usually be relied on to put in a memorable performance and her films often hit the style and substance sweet spot, at least for us. We Need To Talk About Kevin was one of my favourite films from the 92 we watched in 2013. We finally got around to watching Only Lovers Left Alive last night and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, I kind of wish we’d made time to watch it on the big screen. Although it’s ostensibly a vampire film, it’s really a fantastically stylish and subtle romance that positively drips cool. Everything from the characters to the music to the set design and wardrobe is perfectly pitched. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are superb in their roles but the whole cast is excellent. The soundtrack is great as well, I’m just about to head over to iTunes and check out the album. It’s a slow burn of a movie that really reminded me of The Hunger with David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and … Read More

Darknet by Matthew Mather

Philip HarrisBooks, Reviews0 Comments

Just a quick post to highlight the fact that Matthew Mather’s new book Darknet is now available. I read an ARC of this and really enjoyed it.   Here’s the description: One minute Jake O’Connell is on top of the world with a beautiful family and bright future as a stock broker in New York. The next minute it’s all ripped away when he’s embroiled in a fraud investigation, his childhood friend is murdered and he finds himself on the run. Dodging the FBI and targeted by the mob, Jake is thrown into a Wall Street underworld of cryptocurrencies and autonomous corporations where he discovers a dark secret setting the world on a path to destruction. He must evade the shadowy forces hunting him and find a way to redemption–but the faster he runs, the deeper he becomes entangled. In the end, his only path forward is to return to the ghosts of his past. And here’s the thoughts I posted a couple of months ago: Although I haven’t read any of Mather’s other books, I will be in the future. I really enjoyed Darknet. It’s fast paced with plenty of twists and I kept finding myself picking it up to read when I should be … Read More

A Couple of Books

Philip HarrisBooks, Reviews0 Comments

I finished a couple of books this week. Both were kindly sent to me by the authors for review prior to their release, and both of them are worth a look. First up was Chris Pourteau’s short story, Unconditional: A Tale of the Zombie Apocalypse. Here’s the description: The Walking Dead meets The Incredible Journey in this thrilling short story of trial and tragedy. The peaceful cool of a fall day is shattered when the Storm of Teeth consumes the world. A dog watches, terrified, as his human family battles a herd of walking corpses. Forced to leave their pet behind, the family flees for their lives. The dog begins his odyssey through the zombie apocalypse to find them. But what will he find? Experience this dark adventure from the perspective of man’s best friend as he strives to reunite with the boy he loves more than life itself. Unconditional is a short story, but it packs a punch, particularly if you’re a dog person. I lean more towards the feline side of that equation but I had dogs growing up, and I’ve got a soft spot for them as well, so I was looking forward to this one. I wasn’t disappointed. … Read More