List Of Buffy Books

As mentioned in my Pretty Maids All In A Row post, here is a list of all the Buffy novels. I plan to buy, read, and post about each. Though lets be honest, it’s a fool’s errand, and I am more fool than most. I’ll italic the ones I own, and I’ll bold the ones I’ve read. Oh yes, I’m including Angel books too.

Pretty Maids All In A Row


Halloween Rain

Night Of The Living Rerun

Coyote Moon

How I Survived My Summer Vacation

Keep Me In Mind

The Suicide King


Night Terrors

Bad Bargain

Portal Through Time

After Image

Carnival Of Souls

Go Ask Malice

One Thing Or Your Mother

Sins Of The Father


Child Of The Hunt

Ghoul Trouble


The Evil That Men Do

The Deathless

Doomsday Deck


Prime Evil


Power Of Persuasion

Resurrecting Ravana

The Gatekeeper Trilogy

Return To Chaos


Unnatural Selection

Obsidian Fate

Deep Water

Here Be Monsters

The Book Of Fours

Not Forgotten

The Lost Slayer

In The Wild

Close To The Ground

Soul Trade



Hollywood Noir



The Summoned

The Burning

Door To Alternity

Long Way Home

These Our Actors


Stranger To The Sun

Wisdom Of War



Tempted Champions

Little Things


Sweet Sixteen

Chaos Bleeds



The Longest Night

Monster Island

Endangered Species


Blood & Fog

The Darkening

Shattered Twilight

Broken Sunrise

Spark And Burn

Apocalypse Memories


Seven Crows

Mortal Fear

Dark Mirror

Solitary Man

Love And Death



Book Of The Dead

Queen Of The Slayers

Dark Congress

That’s it!

Spike & Dru – Pretty Maids All In A Row (Buffy Books)

Greetings, Glancers! As with 80% of my new series of posts, this will probably stop before it ever gets going. Usually I get bored, or am sucked into some new temptation, or the reality of the magnitude of the task hits me and I go play Minecraft instead. For now, I’ll endeavour to actually complete this post and publish it – I’ll put it under the already barren Book Reviews portion of this site rather then creating a new Buffy Books section. Or do I put it under the existing Buffy Reviews section, which I planned on using for my thoughts on each Season and Episode but gave up shortly after starting. Decisions decisions. Pointless decisions.

I’m a big Buffy fan. I watched it when it first landed on BBC2 and it quickly became my favourite show. I have the box sets, I have the T-shirts, I drop dialogue into everyday conversations like perverts drop their pants at the play-park. I’ve read (most of) the comics, and hated them. I then moved on to the books, more as a way to keep connected to the world, more as a collector and completist. Reading them was always secondary – they’re almost certainly going to be crap, right?

Well, I did plan on reading them, but I wanted to read them in order. Order of release, or chronological order following the lore of the show? Who knows. That meant that I was rapidly building up and out of order collection, picking up second hand copies of books whenever I found them, and stacking them in a bookcase to my wife’s chagrin. When she asks why I never read them, I say I can’t until I have the first book in the series. She sensibly asks why don’t I buy that one, to which I reply I’ve never found it in a second hand shop. She sighs and asks why I don’t just buy it new. Well well, that would cost big money, while second hand costs little money. Then she tuts and walks away.

I’m now in a place where I can start reading the series. I’m also less Presbyterian about following my own rules and realise that there probably isn’t much crossover between books or chance of missing something important. These things are barely canon, they all have different others, and it’s clear when there’s a particular series of books following a central arc. As long as I don’t do massive shifts from one Season era book to a different season, we should be good.

My plan was to read them, then post some sort of mini review of each. Not full reviews, not even reviews like what I write in my movies posts. I wanted a simple framework which I could easily follow for any post, one which would hinder my inherent long-windedness and decrease the likelihood of boredom beheading my creativity.

For now I see the framework as – Synopsis, Era, Connections/Breaks from the show, General thoughts. Boom. I’ll do a secondary post with the list of Buffy novels and their rough order, so I have a place to store that list and so you can see how it all breaks down, should you be in the least bit interested.

At the time of writing, I’ve only read Spike & Dru. I’ve read the comics, which won’t be covered in this series, and I’ve read some of the Tales Of The Slayers series and Omnibus Comics which also will not be included. No novelizations either, though I do own those. This is just for the novels. Of which there are a lot. Not Warhammer numbers or anything, but still. I mention this because, well, I don’t read as much as I used to and because I have a massive backlog of books I want to get to. Hell, the last Stephen king book I read chronologically was Doctor Sleep, and it came out in 2013. He’s my all time favourite author and he has released 13 novels since then which I own, but haven’t read yet. Throw in all the non-King stuff too and you see what I’m getting at.

So, maybe this will be the only Buffy book post I make. Maybe there will be more to come. I have to read the things first.

SYNOPSIS: Set in the middle of World War 2, Pretty Maids All In A Row follows Spike and Dru as they travel the globe looking for a mystical object known as Freyja’s Strand after Spike promises it for her birthday. Or anniversary – I’ve already forgotten. In any case, that quest is secondary as the bulk of the plot sees Spike & Dru hunting down and killing various Potentials. We also follow the current Slayer and Watcher, Sophie & Yanna, as she do their thing and try to stop Spike & Dru. Finally, we see some inner workings of The Council as they try to keep the Slayer bloodline alive.

ERA: Pre Season 1. Pre movie.

CONNECTIONS: As you’ll gleam from the synopsis, we spend a lot of time with Spike, Dru, and The Council. Edna Giles is a minor character – the Grandmother of Rupert. Here she’s one of the Council higher ups. We also meet both Harold and John Travers – Quentin would of course be the Head of The Council once the show begins. Additional characters or groups from the show are briefly mentioned or turn up – Kakistos, the Order Of Aurelius, Xin Rong. Some of the potentials listed would go on to appear in other Tales Of The Slayers stories and maybe future novels.

The major break from the series though is when – SPOILER ALERT – Spike kills Sophie, making her the second Slayer he has killed. In the show it is known that Spike has only killedtwo Slayers – Xin Rong and Nikki Wood. Sophie would make that three. The author, Christopher Golden, wrote the novel before the show made the Nikki Wood reveal and was of course a little miffed. These things happen.

MY THOUGHTS: About as expected for a Buffy Novel. There’s enough solid connections to the lore that you feel back in the universe. However, it’s pre-Buffy and non-Joss, so the dialogue and humour is not there. Nor should it be. It’s also noticeably more violent and sexual than the show, with Spike & Dru shagging every few pages and plenty of scenes of children being killed. The Spike & Dru here are much more ruthless than what we see on the show.

I like the idea of following some of our longer established characters to see what they were up to before the events of the show. That’s what an expanded universe is all about. But the book leaps about too much for my liking, from time and location and plot. This wouldn’t be so bad if it amounted to anything, but most of the asides don’t seem to propel any plot or reveal anything we don’t already know about the characters. It all feels a little messy. I never enjoyed the Potentials plot in the show, not because those characters were annoying, but because it opened the door to too many uncomfortable questions about The Council finding Potentials and creating a whole mess which was always there, lurking under the carpet, but which had at least been out of sight and out of mind. Pun intended.

The main characterizations are mostly spot on – we can be picky till the cows come home but I want these mini reviews to be mini – and Sophie is an interesting enough character. Her Watcher, less so, with some added mysticism tacked on. There’s too much throwaway stuff from turning Nazis into soldiers, then that plot simply stopping, to Skrymir being something of a damp squib. The whole story probably could have been written without him being part of it.

Have you read Pretty Maids All In A Row? What did you think? How does it compare to other novels in the series? Let us know in the comments!

Frommers – Japan Day By Day

*Review originally written in 2012 based on a free copy provided by Amazon – Buy it here
If you’ve ever owned or browsed a Frommer’s Day By Day guide before (or indeed any of the similar publications from Lonely Planet, Time Out et al) then you’ll know what to expect here- an informative, highly detailed, highly useful guide split into a myriad of sections with plenty of imaginative tips, photographs and ideas for any type of traveler from conservative to seasoned, from expensive to cheap. As to expected from a guide like this, the writing can hardly be called entertaining, but is fluid and usable for when you decide or need to dip in to any particular topic. What does stand out though is the focus on local knowledge translated over for those who need to know- the writers obviously know Japan and have a good idea about what the reader/user may want.
Wise Content
Content-wise we have the usual introduction and sections on accommodation, tourist hotspots, dining, museums, travel tips etc etc, as well as some more unusual selections, but what has always been the highlight of the Frommer’s Day by Day series are the Day By Day areas- ready-made plans for either those travelers who (critically) don’t want to think outside the box or (realistically) want to see as much as possible in one particular day. These are well thought out and are the focal point of the guide rather than something tacked on like many other guides and range from ‘Best Of Japan in 1 (or 2 weeks)’ to ‘Best of Tokyo in 1 (or 2, 3) day (s)’. There are also chapters on the major towns, sights, culture and most of these come with a single page map showcasing the area and the nearest subway station. In addition to this we get an extremely handy (though hardly comprehensive) pull-out map of Japan, with the central areas of Tokyo and Kyoto on the other side. I would advise bringing a map of any area you plan on visiting before getting there if possible because although Japan is fairly easy to get around, it can be very overwhelming.
Thanks to a friendly layout, high budget glossy finish, and the knowledge of the writers this is arguably the best guide on Japan on the market though some may find it too large to carry around all day or off-putting due to the scale of content. My advice would be to use this is a guide to create your own ideas and plans, scribble some notes, leave this at the hotel, and take off on your own!

10000 Zombies

*Based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy it here
I was hoping for a lot more from this- more coherent stories for example, but given that there are thousands of different ways to open and close your tale, as well as all the good stuff in the middle, it would be difficult to make any of them coherent. This is just a bunch of easy fun wrapped inside a few thousand rotting corpses. The zombies are impressively detailed and kids will spend hours creating their favourite characters and possibly delving into their own dark imaginations to produce their own fevered stories of blood and chaos. Wisely the illustrations are given a page all of their own so that there is a full page impact, while the stories appear on the other leaf. Each creation is split into three so if you turn the top third of a page you will be decapitating one monster and giving birth to a new one- likewise with the legs and torso. So, obviously this isn’t the sort of book you will pick up and read through, it’s more of a game, partly like those ‘you open the door- turn to page 49’ books of my youth.
Parents shouldn’t worry that there is anything too graphic or offensive or terrifying here, it’s all good clean gruesome fun- the sort which kids lap up. Horror ‘maestro’ Alex Cox narrates while we get a foreword from undead metal legend Rob Zombie, so chances are that is geared more towards ‘adult’ zombie fiends rather than the youngsters. It’s cheap and worth a look if your child is showing an interest in the dead side of life.
Have you read 10000 Zombies? Let us know in the comments!

Atmospheric Disturbances

*Based off a free copy provided by Amazon – by it here


I was drawn to this both by the Hitchcockian blurb and the reviewer comparisons to Murakami, but when you make comparisons to two of the greatest, chances are you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Similarities to the film-maker and the author are lip service at best, and non-existant at worst. There are moments of course, but these are more from the overall plot and idea rather than anything specific in the contents. I’m sure there is an engaging plot here somewhere, but it’s so crushed under the weight of science, ideas, ideals, and pseudo-philosophical talk about nothing that you feel that you’re unwrapping a diamond ring style box only to find a ‘screw you’ sign inside.

The story opens with a man whose wife has lately vanished, but who has apparently been replaced by a loveless doppelgänger. Instances of the past relationship are seemingly just as loveless. Details dribble in concerning a plot which revolves around a good old fashioned crazy patient and a secret conspiracy-type quest. There is a journey, both literal and figurative, and eventually twists are revealed. It’s more a Cronenberg style approach showing a descent into madness through ploys and devices but it somehow feels even less engaging than this description.

Galchen is a clever woman- in fact she may be the smartest woman in the world, but most importantly she wants to tell us this. She has clearly spent at least 5 years in school learning things such as languages, sciences, and geography. Not many of us can say that. Under my cleverly veiled wit I’m sure some of you will have noticed that I’m making fun of the author’s approach- there is little or no attempt to hold a hand out to the reader and say ‘I’m in charge, follow me and I’ll reward you’. Rather, the approach is ‘ I am your teacher, I am better than you, what I am saying is Gospel (not that you’ll understand it) but it doesn’t matter anyway because you are an inferior sub-species’. So it seems.

The fact that this is written as a dissertation rather than a novel is what truly killed the experience for me. Each chapter has a cryptic teaser and usually a hypothesis, list or some other scientific device which has no place in a work of fiction. I kept reading, expecting this novelty to stop or at least make a positive impact, but with each passing page, with each deeper step into nowhere, I felt like I was back in the GSCE triple science room copying notes from a blurry overhead projector while a bored, suicidal, and probably drunk teacher read porn from behind steamed up glasses. If these memories spark a flame of desire in your soul, then by all means pick up this masterpiece and enjoy, or if you think you need more intelligent books in your collection then give it a go. For everyone else drawn to this for the same reasons that I was, there is no Hitchcockian suspense, wit, skill, or bravado, nor is there the gifted, lyrical storytelling or off-beat characters and bizarre fun of Murakami.

The Happets – Play With Colours

*Originally written in 2011 based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy here
My daughter is still too young to read or even be very interested at looking at a book for too long, but it is never too early to let your child get used to the idea and touch of a book. In that case a book should be bright, colourful, and preferably have something extra to spark and hold their interest. Play With Colours (The Happets) meets all of the criteria- the wrigi is big and bold, and the illustrations are very colourful. As for the added extra, we have a felt/cloth poking from each page which the child can feel, tug,and squeeze. Each page depicts a different character, each character is colour coded, and each pop-out cloth matches the design of the character it represents so your child can learn to understand colours and matching.
Once older your son or daughter will want to know what the words mean and what the story is. At the moment my daughter likes to watch my mouth when I sing, but will only stay on my lap for a page or two of reading, even with a variety of funny voices employed. This book basically gives a description of each character and their favourite things, all linked to their core colour. Whatever the character says they like, such as a blue kite, will be shown on the page so you can point at each item and repeat what it is. Each page then is a repeat of the one before, but with a new creature, colour, and likes, but each description ends with a fun ‘THAT’S ME!’ which you can shout together.
My only warning is that the book seems to be made of extra tasty paper- my daughter loves to chew this one more than any other, but once that phase passes this will be a great book to share. For reading time that is, not tea time.
Have you read this book? Let us know in the comments!

Undead – Kirsty McKay


Scaring Children

I am an advocate of bringing horror to the younger generation. I’ve given reasons for this elsewhere, but basically a good dose of blood and guts keeps the doctor away. I didn’t come to this book with a high expectation- when I was young and wanted some scares I typically went to the adult section, not the teen one as teen literature is (or was) too often watered down or flooded with convenient and topical issues of the day. Thankfully McKay’s Undead is neither watered down, nor riddled with forced topics from parents’ groups, media, or publishers. Yes it is still aimed at a younger audience – no explicit swearing, sex, or unnecessary violence, but we do get some shocking moments, strong building of tension, and lots of zombie mayhem.

Chew The Bones

The premise is good, and explores another avenue of the classic situational zombie convention. Be it a shopping mall, your own home, or on a bus during a school trip, zombie fiction usually follows the same format but can be given effective twists if the writer is inventive enough. Here we find a small number of misfits barricading themselves in their school bus when the outside world drops dead and decides to chew on some lovely young bones. This leads to some obvious clashing between the pretty one, the outcast, the nerd and so on, and how they must overcome their differences to keep each other alive. This never truly feels contrived, although it does feel necessary at times in order to drive the plot forwards.

Shocking Revelations

We follow the group as they try to escape and struggle to work out what has happened –  this leads to some shocking, and some not so shocking revelations. Naturally we end on a cliffhanger and the hope of a sequel. As previously mentioned there is a lot of zombie fun, but this is more in the action vein rather than being explicitly gory. There are plenty of moments which would work well on film as jump scares, and we get a few unsavoury characters to darken the mixture. There is one sad and shocking scene involving some new characters introduced halfway through, so credit to McKay for having the confidence to stick it in- usually such an event would be quickly and happily rectified, but not here.
The story is gripping, McKay writes with panache and strives to avoid the usual cliches and pitfalls of the genre, giving an exciting tale with fully realised (if typical for the market) characters, and she doesn’t back down when faced with the pressure of giving the readers a happy, Hollywood ending.

Have you read Undead? What age do you think it is appropriate to introduce children to horror media? Let us know in the comments!

Buy It Here!

The Invention Of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt

*Originally written in 2008 based on a free copy provided by Amazon


Samantha Hunt’s debut shows an assured talent in the making, a writer unafraid to take the reader on a journey with few answers, focusing instead on fragments of history and moments of daunting emotion. Her style will clearly infuriate some readers – the time frame, the narrative, and indeed the narrator leap from one chapter to the next without warning to the extent that it may take a few paragraphs of a new chapter before you work out who is speaking; A forewarning then to anyone expecting a light read. If you are interested in the subject, in science, in biographies (even fictional ones), or in Tesla himself, then this is a no doubt intelligent and thought-provoking book which you will get enjoyment from, although much of that enjoyment will be drawn from the relief of trawling through some startling problems just to reach a passage of interest.

The Invention Of Everything Else is a semi-fictional history of Tesla, one of the greatest minds the world has ever known, and the people he comes into contact with at various points in his life. We witness his successes and failures, his emergence and withdrawal, his youth, his old age, and some sort of ending. Wrapped around this is the tale of Louisa and Walter- a father and daughter team whose own losses and inspirations have a way of mirroring Tesla’s. Most of the story is based in reality, which is always more fantastic than magic and myth as Tesla alludes to at several points, before twisting this notion on it’s head and introducing an element of time-travel towards the end. Presumably the point is that if Tesla brought the mystical and the impossible into reality via science a hundred years ago, why not in the modern age should we refuse to accept the possibility of time travel? Of course, nothing is straight-forward here as Tesla is presented as a man of limitless invention and foresight, but whose ideas sometimes failed disastrously; add to this some lesser known inventors and crazies and we get the impression that while many things may be possible in the future, a mind like Tesla’s is unique.

There are some brilliant characters here, screaming to get off the pages but unfortunately many of them are treated too sharply and shortly that we never truly get a grasp upon them, their thoughts, their motivations. We get within touching distance of these people but they are thrust away from us just before we make a genuine connection. If I was reading between the lines I might say that this was intentional, that it reflects the true nature of these characters’ lives in that they too are left cold and uncertain by the people they meet- but there isn’t enough evidence to prove that Hunt intended this.

The narrative is at times too jarring to make this as comfortable a read as it should and could have been. Like previously mentioned, we are made to work for our rewards- a fact which some readers will not respond to, while others may relish. There is an interesting tale here of the varieties and charms of human nature, of the toils and triumphs one can achieve, and of the irony that the human brain may not yet be powerful enough to house equal amounts of perfection in knowledge, humour, confidence, social skills, and that human culture may not yet be developed enough to accept brilliance readily, innocently, without envy, and as something we should all aspire to. Hunt is a reader to look out for and with a little more refinement and polish her next novel could be something to make an aspiring world proud of.

Have you read this book, or are you interested in Tesla or the genre? Let us know in the comments!

Book Reviews – The Maze Runner – James Dashner

*Note – originally written in 2009 based on an unpublished advance copy provided free by Amazon.

The Maze Runner is another in a recent run of teen oriented novels which will likely be adapted for the big screen. Presumably the first part of a wider story it is full of intrigue, action, and suspense, and most importantly does not treat the target audience like a fool. There is violence, there is gore, there is an invented slang bad language so that censors and parents do not worry, and there is a rich heritage of novels which this pays respect to without simply foraging for ideas, from Lord Of The Flies, to Battle Royale. The book is set in an unspecified, dystopian future. A boy wakes with no memory of who he is and finds himself brought by a lift to a massive enclosed town called The Glade. He is the latest in a long line of boys who it seems came to the mysterious place the same way, though none of the other people seem interested in helping or answering him. He is expected to follow their rules explicitly, but as more strange events begin to occur our hero sparks a revolution which could claim or save them all. Their town has been around for quite a few years, most of the boys have spent a large part of their lives there and none of them can remember anything from before. They have arranged their society in a strict fashion with rules, jobs, and a government which is all they have to protect them from disorder and from the horrors which lie outside. The town is surrounded by a Maze which must only be investigated during the day – at night it becomes infested by half machine, half animal creatures known as Grievers which will hunt and kill remorselessly. Their only hope of escape lies in solving the maze – unfortunately the maze has a habit of shifting and modifying itself every night.

Aside from the Lost like mysterious plot, the author creates a good amount of suspense – there are many cliffhangers and set-pieces which ensure we will begin the next chapter to see what happens. Like Thomas, we only know so much and we have to follow him blindly to work out the answers to mysterious questions – why is everyone so afraid of the maze, who created the Grievers, why do certain characters hate him, how can they escape and what will they do if they can? Dashner has a gift for suspense, his characters are bold, his writing is swift and clever, and the plot is engaging thanks to the many teasing questions and revelations. As I read the book I felt it would be better suited to a high budget kids TV show, although as children’s television is in a sorry state it would be unlikely that anyone would ever take a gamble on something as expensive and probably controversial as this. The episodic nature of the book would ensure kids of all ages would be tuning in every week – I certainly would if the direction and acting were sound. As it stands this is a rip-roaring read which should capture any young reader’s imagination and leave them heartily anticipating the next installment.

Navigators – Dinosaurs – Book Review

*Originally written in 2011 based on a free copy provided by Amazon

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a book like this. My childhood was filled with books on animals, the more ferocious the better and preferably with a few gory pictures thrown in. My favourite topic, as seems to be the case for the majority of kids, was dinosaurs – I collected the magazines hoping to build my own T-Rex, I watched the Ray Harryhausen and Doug McClure movies, and I read as many books as possible on the subject getting lost in the pictures and the world presented within. Now that I have children of my own on the way I think that I may get lost once more.

Since my childhood we have had 3 Jurassic Park movies, various high-tech dinosaur tv shows, and a host of books with more detailed artwork and analysis. As I said it’s been a while since I’ve looked at anything like this so all I can judge it against is my own memories. The first thing to notice is the size of the book – it has A4 style pages and is almost presented like an annual. The hardcover coupled with the quality of the paper should mean many years of under the cover reading will not harm it. The front cover depicts, simply, the word ‘Dinosaurs’ in all it’s inviting glory with a sampling of the beasts in the surrounding spaces. The rear cover’s selling points are that they present all the facts that the kids want to know as well as stunning 3D artwork to bring the animals to life-like never before. Forgive my stupidity for thinking the images were actually 3D and could be enhanced with specs. Looking inside comes the first disappointment then when the 3D is actually just ‘zoomed in close-ups of various parts of the dino’s body. The second disappointment comes soon after when you realise the book is quite small – only 48 pages. For 10 pounds and for the exterior size I would have expected more.

Luckily though, those are my major qualms, and while the rather boring, school like text and information, and the lack of some of my personal favourite dinosaurs are notable annoyances, I can’t really mark down the book for such things. Each page is generously spaced, with handy foot and side notes (with interesting weblinks) and floating info capsules as well as the main text, mostly watercoloured over the artwork so as not to spoil the picture. The text is informative, list names of animals, parts, places, and covering all the important areas from feeding to the time periods. Rather than being an A-Z of the creatures though, or being split into sections covering say air, land, and sea, or herbivores and carnivores, each double page focuses on one area which one (sometimes two) dinosaurs used as an example of said area. So we get a two page spread called Egg Mountain which focuses on the laying of eggs and the protection of young, using Maisauras as an example, followed by a section called Pack Attack in which a pack of Deinonychus attacks a Tenontosaurus in bloody glory.
While reading about the creatures is one thing, seeing them is another and thankfully the artwork here is stunning. The creatures are beautifully rendered in high detail and set against (something which is usually ignored) a dedicated, realistic backing landscape. The double paging works wonders, leaving plenty of room for action shots and giving an impression of their size and terrible beauty. These should be more than enough to spark any child’s imagination. Land, sea, and air are covered and parents shouldn’t be concerned at the gore content- there are only a few shots of eating and killing and they are not gratuitous.

This book gives a strong overall history of the dinosaurs, starting with their discovery and working chronologically through their existence until the final section which tries to explain the reasons for their extinction. We get an index, glossary, and ‘find out more’ section at the end. This may be either a useful introduction to the animals for your children, or as another collection of pictures for hardened fans to salivate over. I would have prefered more information on individual types, and the information given isn’t too complex, but that’s just me. I’m not sure if it is worth the full price when there are other similar offerings on the market, but if you can get it cheaper you will have a happy kid.