Tuesday, 22 December 2020

My New Year Challenge

As 2020 comes to end I find myself thinking about the books I've read over the last twelve months and the books I'd like to read next year. There are so many good books I would love to be able to experience. But I always end up telling myself - the best thing to do is simply choose the ones you know you will have a more than better chance of liking. Life's too short to plough diligently through something you hate (although I've broken that personal rule a few times to be completely honest).

Therefore, in 2021, I've set myself a New Year's Challenge. Over the course of the year I will be reading a series of books across four well-known genre 'universes'. But to ensure I have a pretty good chance of getting through them all, I have picked from series that I know I'm going to like - at least from personal experience in the past that is. As you clearly can see from this post's main picture I have selected from Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond and Musashi.

All of the books are currently available in eBook format. I haven't read any of them before but they have been on my radar for a while. I tried to keep the books within the 20th Century, but had to make a few exceptions. I don't want the challenge to disrupt my blogging completely so I am restricting the challenge to a total of 19 books. Seeing as I get through roughly 50 per year, I believe this will still allow me the time to dip in and out of the challenge and still keep Digital Bibliophilia a location for a varied review site of genre fiction.

Sunday, 6 December 2020


Author: Oliver Jacks (aka Kenneth Royce)
Publisher: Grafton Books
Date: 1986
Pages: 254
Not currently available in eBook format

In one of those happy coincidences, I was attracted to a previously unknown author's book by its cover artwork, only to find out out it was actually a pen name used by an established and well-known writer.

Breakout is a thriller published in 1986 in the UK by Grafton Books. The author is Oliver Jacks, who I'd not had any previous experience of reading. Some light internet research didn't surface much of a backlog. A few other thriller/action adventure tales in the 70's and 80's but nothing outstanding or particularly well-known. It seemed that Mr Jacks penned another four books (Man on a Short LeashAssassination Day and Autumn Heroes) but had disappeared by the nineties. Jacks doesn't have much of a presence on the internet and doesn't even have a page dedicated to him on Fantastic Fiction.

However, after finishing the story, I persevered in my studies and started to notice something. Along with Jacks name I noticed a listing that coupled one of his books with the name Kenneth Royce. This rang a bell and a quick reference back to the Appendix of Mike Ripley's excellent Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang confirmed that indeed Oliver Jacks was a name used by thriller writer Kenneth Royce. It seemed I had inadvertently landed the final Jacks book in his quartet of standalone tales.

Royce was born in 1920 in Croydon, UK. He served in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War, raising to the rank of Captain. After the war he became involved in running a travel agency which afforded him the perfect position to conduct research on the background to his many books. It was with the Spider Scott series that he rose to fame. Spider is an ex-burglar who can't quite give up the temptations of crime and who is recruited to work for the secret services. Scott became known as the XYY Man due to his extra 'Y' chromosome giving him a pre-disposition towards criminality.