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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 10:14 pm
I haven't got through too many books this month, mainly because one of them - The Dark Monk - took me over a month to finish. More on that shortly. Plus I had another chemotherapy infusion, which wiped me out for a week, and a weekend away in Edinburgh to see the Hitchhiker's Live radio show at the theatre. But I did get through some books.

First finished was Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell. I found this through a Guardian weekly blog asking people what they were reading. It's full of quotes that the author, a bookseller in various bookshops over the years, has heard. As a result it's more a book to nip in and out of, a very light, easy read. And some of the things customers say are almost incredible.

Next up was the Best of Ray Bradbury graphic novel, a collection of some of his best-loved short stories in illustrated comic form. I really liked this. It had a mix of sci-fi, horror and fantasy stories. And although I'm not so keen on the sci-fi I still enjoyed them. The artwork for each story was by a different artist, and some was more successful than others, but I liked the variety. And it was very nice to revisit "Dark They Were And Golden Eyed", a Mars-set story which I originally read back in the late 1980s, in French lessons, in secondary school. My favourite stories in the book were "A Sound of Thunder", "Night Meeting" and "Come into My Cellar". I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in Ray Bradbury's writings.

The book that kept me occupied for what seemed like forever was The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch. This was a historical thriller, set in 1660s Bavaria, translated from the original German. And I really enjoyed it. The story revolved around a hunt for a hidden Templar treasure, with various dark forces out to thwart the main characters. It was pacy, surprising, and thoroughly enjoyable.

After that I got through Doctor Who: Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris. I've read quite a lot of Jonathan Morris's older Doctor Who stories, for Tom Baker's Doctor and others, so I had high hopes based on past experience. And this was really good. It has Weeping Angels, as well as Matt Smith's Doctor, Amy and Rory. It's one of the better Doctor Who books I've read. Although I would say that if you've read One Day by David Nicholls you may find some of the content similar to that.

Last finished this month was Mary Tamm's autobiography First Generation. She played the first incarnation of Time Lady Romana, companion to Tom Baker in 1978/9, and she sadly died this last week. Her season of Doctor Who was the first one I watched as a child, all those years ago, and I found her Romana a thoroughly inspiring companion and a great role model for a girl watching. I've had the book in the house since it was first published, a signed copy, bought by mail order from Galaxy 4 in Sheffield. But I hadn't read it because of my difficulties reading print. But with her sad passing I knuckled down. It's a very good book, although structurally it was somewhat strange, and I suspect she didn't have a ghost writer, which in some ways is all to her credit. I was particularly interested in her account of her childhood in Bradford, in an immigrant Estonian family, and also her visit later in life to Estonia, her parents' home country. There was some Doctor Who content in there, but I believe there was to be more in a second volume, which may never be published. It was a well-written book though, and I would recommend it.