Challenge Update: A Highly Successful Week 10 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy!

Welcome my wacky, whimsical Bookbaggers!

Your eyes do gaze upon the 10th update of Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy which may be the most successful week yet for both challenges, which is good since unlike the last update, I have nothing else of interest to share with you!

As always let’s get started with the first challenge:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeSince I finished both Short & Sweet books I was reading and picked two new ones, this update definitely deserves a MNL (Mighty Numbered List):

  1. I have been reading A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (as well as I Am Legend by Richard Matheson) pretty much every chance I get this week, as both books were reaching their climax, so I finished A Clockwork Orange on Tuesday afternoon. I have already given my thoughts on the book a little as I went, so I’ll keep my final comments brief: it was absolutely brilliant. The use of the Nadsat slang was so immersive that after a few chapters I didn’t feel like I was lost without a glossary and I think if I had one in my edition (like the edition my mum read in her youth) it would’ve torn me out of the story too much constantly looking up words. In fact, not having a glossary actually worked in my favour because when I asked Stefan of Stefan’s Books (who on a previous visit had shown he was an avid fan by quoting the first line verbatim when I mentioned I was reading it) why my copy wouldn’t have one he said that originally two different versions were published – one with a glossary, and one with no glossary but an extra chapter at the end – and as it turns out that added chapter completed changed the overall ending, so I’m glad I got the version I did! A Clockwork Orange is absolutely going to be on my Top 10 Books of 2014 list, and I am also glad I bought rather than borrowed a copy because I think it will become a favourite to re-read over my lifetimea clockwork orange
  2. I also have been reading I Am Legend by Richard Matheson a lot this week, especially after finishing A Clockwork Orange, so I reached the end yesterday afternoon. Again, I’ll try to be brief as I’ve talked it up already: it was also absolutely brilliant. Never have I read a book which marries the horror and science fiction genres so well, with some solid scientific explanations for vampirism that were fascinating, and a form of the popular horror monster which was unique and terrifying, but in a subtle way. But, it was the parts which didn’t necessarily fit with either genre which really made this book memorable – the human element, the various stages one man goes through when facing such complete loneliness and day-to-day survival. Robert Neville was wonderfully developed and along the way I felt his frustration, desperation, and sorrow which transitioned into fierce determination and a necessary detachment from emotion. This is definitely the best “vampire” novel I have read, another no-brainer for the Top 10 Books of 2014 and a book I am glad I own so I can share it with others and re-read.i am legend
  3. On Tuesday when I finished A Clockwork Orange I asked Sarah to pick me a new book from the tiny pool of remaining contenders, and she picked Horn by Peter M Ball, which is pretty fitting as she had read it pretty recently (just like when she picked the other Peter M Ball novella for me, funnily enough). I haven’t started it yet, but I am eager to do so ASAP 😀horn
  4. Then because I was only a few chapters away from finishing I Am Legend I asked my mum to pick another from the two remaining contenders, and she picked Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins. I haven’t started it either, but I think it’s going to be great fun, and afterwards my friend Scott has asked to borrow it so i’ll have someone to talk about it with 🙂deadly beloved
  5. Lastly, last night I read another story from The Living Dead zombie anthology, by another author I have read – “Those Who Seek Forgiveness” by Laurell K. Hamilton, which is the first story she wrote about her long-running character, Anita Blake. I have only read the first in the Anita Blake series so far, despite Sarah and our other friend Luke being big fans in high-school, but I have heard from many fans that at a point the series drifted away from the supernatural crime into melodramatic soft-core porn (a bit of a pattern for Hamilton as her other series, Merry Gentry, often turned into sex scenes connected by fragments of plot). Apparently the series has gone back to its roots now, but I have still been hesitant to go much further as once I’m into a series I like to see it through to the end, however it was good to see where Anita started and it was a really great short story actually. Perhaps I need to jump back on the Anita Blake bandwagon and see how far I can get before I’m thrown off 😛A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

I am really getting to the pointy end of this challenge now because there is a lone contender left:

ericThe Illustrated Eric by Terry Pratchett (writer) and Josh Kirby (artist)

So when I finish one of my new picks I’ll simply go onto The Illustrated Eric and then the challenge will be finito!

Now onto the other challenge which had a very exciting development this week:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeSince I read none of The Sending last week and I had a normal, lazy Sunday, I got stuck right in, and also made a substantial dent in Brisingr:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending64 pages (2 chapters + epilogue)

Pages remaining: 0! 😀

Brisingr:

Brisingr79 Pages (6 chapters)

Pages remaining: 197

Total:

143 Pages

Pages remaining: 197

That’s right – I finally finished The Sending you guys!! Once I started there was no way I was stopping until the end because it was pretty intense and surprise, surprise there was quite a big cliff-hanger and now I need to wait until the next book comes out, which is apparently this year, but I don’t know when 😦 Anyway, it took me a couple of years to even get to The Sending after it was published, and then when I finished and checked my book journal (or really not the last one I filled, but the one before that, which should be telling) I realised it’s taken me over a year and a month to read it! At least this challenge has helped immensely or otherwise I may never have reached the exciting end!

Because I finished something I chose a new book of course, and since I hadn’t chosen a library book for a while I thought it only fair that they get included and randomly picked The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman which I have borrowed, returned and re-borrowed multiple times since finishing the previous book in the series 3 years ago! I also haven’t started it yet, but as I have a week of holidays coming up, I will have plenty of quality reading time 🙂

cover_tiger_in_the_well

Since the last update I also read  The Walking Dead Volume #1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman (creator, writer), Tony Moore(creator, artist) and Cliff Rathburn (colourist…or additional gray-scale-ist) which was excellent and much move fast-paced then I was expecting after watching a bit of the TV series! It was a first volume which definitely impressed me so I promptly returned it to the library and requested volume 2 😛walking dead vol 1

I also read one of my Free Comic Book Day comics that I picked last week –  Defend Comics – which was a series of short stories about censorship in comics and banned books (with a random snippet of story chucked it for good measure). I found it really interesting and a great way to get comic readers to think about these issues and possibly support causes (such as the CBLDF – Comic Book Legal Defense Fund which produced the comic) which fight censorship and protect the rights of comic creators.defend comics

That’s all for now I think my beloved Bookbaggers 🙂

I would say stay tuned for the next update, but I’m not sure I’ll be about the next two weeks as it is semester break, next week I’ll be working in a different location as my campus is shut, and the week after I have off. This may mean I pop in to update you on things, but more likely I will be too busy enjoying myself and reading up a storm 😛

At the very least I’ll try to post a Notable Quotable or two since I have a few I’ve been stock-piling, but if I don’t get around to it I humbly apologise in advance and I will see you in a couple of weeks with a bumper update 🙂

Until then goodbye from your loyal Book Polygamist and some of my favourite lads:

capn jack sparrow farewell

cheshire-goodbye

beatles waving

Challenge Update: Week 9 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy + a Supanova Saturday

Aloha my adroit, articulate Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the 9th update of Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy where unlike the last couple of updates, the non-challenge related stuff is more plentiful and exciting than the actual update since I went to Supanova on Saturday!

But first I’ll get the official business out-of-the-way:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeSince my last update I have mainly been reading my challenge books here and there and haven’t finished or started anything, but even if it’s a fairly standard update, I’ll still utilise the MNL (Mighty Numbered List):

  1. I have been reading  I Am Legend by Richard Matheson quite a bit this week as it is a good lunch break/commute book and a very interesting story besides. While in essence it is a vampire novel (or more broadly a blend of horror and sci-fi) it is unlike any vampire novel I’ve encountered, and with the post-apocalyptic setting and the large hordes of unrelenting vamps, it feels much more like a zombie book. This paired with the introspective narration, which feels intimate despite being third person, the development of the main character (or sole character really besides ones in flashbacks and the dead) and Matheson’s engaging writing, makes this a book I am really loving. I’m about halfway through at the moment, but have been savouring it a little so I may or may not finish by the next update.i am legend
  2. I have also been reading A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess a lot this week, and I am loving it just as much, even though it is pretty darn twisted and the invented language means each bit needs more concentration than the average read. I’m also about half-way through but as it’s a much smaller book the odds of me finishing it by the next update are a little better.a clockwork orange
  3. Lastly, despite my fun-filled weekend and hectic work week I did manage to read a story from The Living Dead zombie anthology last night, and it was a really good one! The story I read was “Bobby Conroy comes back from the dead” by popular author Joe Hill (whose full-length novels I have yet to read, but I loved the beginning of his comic series, Locke & Key) and was not so much about real zombies, but movie zombies, and one movie of the genre in particular – George A. Romero‘s Dawn of the Dead. It follows a down-on-his-luck actor/comedian who has moved back to his hometown and is surprised to see an old high-school flame on the set of the film where they are both zombie extras. It’s partly a “what-if” breed of love story, but mainly, and at Joe Hill’s own admission in the description preceding the tale, it is a love letter to the iconic film. This is clear from the wonderful descriptions of Romero and special effect make-up artist Tom Savini and the general passion in Hill’s words as he writes about what is obviously a pivotal film from his youth and a great inspiration. more than anything this story made me further lament that I have never seen Dawn of the Dead (Romero fans please don’t lynch me!) and I must rectify this in the near future!A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

The list of contenders remains the same with just three to go:

hornHorn by Peter M Ball

deadly belovedDeadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins

ericThe Illustrated Eric by Terry Pratchett (writer) and Josh Kirby

Now onto the other challenge which was pretty poor unfortunately:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeSince on the weekend I had Supanova followed by birthday celebrations for another close friend and then work and TV distracting me for the rest of the week, I did not come even close to my quota:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending0 pages (0 chapters)

Pages remaining: 64

Brisingr:

Brisingr13 Pages (2 chapters)

Pages remaining: 276

Total:

13 Pages

Pages remaining: 341

This is a pretty ironic effort considering my prediction for The Sending last update, but even though I didn’t suffer temporary blindness, dyslexia or spontaneously combusting books (still hurts even to imagine that..) I had plenty of other distractions besides.

I did intend to read much more over the week but as Saturday’s celebrations went into the wee hours, Sunday was a R & R day and then Sunday-Wednesday nights were dedicated to VIT (Very Important Television, which in this case was the finale of Orphan Black on Tuesday, and a terrible reality show called House Rules which Sarah and I have inexplicably become obsessed with despite our usual disdain for reality TV. I blame my mother 😛 ) I only managed to read yesterday afternoon/evening. Since I had started The Unwritten vol # 4: Leviathan earlier in the week I wanted to finish that first, so 13 pages of Brisingr was all I could manage before snooze time. I was going to read a tiny bit of The Sending also before I went to the land of nod but since I’m so near the end I knew it would be hard to stop once I got going, so best to leave it until another day.

Since this weekend I just have standing Friday night plans and nothing else scheduled I should be able to get some solid reading time in, but I’m not making predictions this time 😛

As I said above I also read The Unwritten: Leviathan (The Unwritten, Volume # 4) by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist, colourist), Vince LockeAl Davison (colourists) and Yuko Shimizu (cover artist), which had been sitting on my pile for a few weeks unread, and like the volumes before I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to the next volume.

unwritten 4

I also realised early in the week that a comic I borrowed from the library – The Walking Dead Volume #1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman (creator, writer), Tony Moore (creator, artist) and Cliff Rathburn (colourist) – was overdue and I couldn’t renew it because it was on hold for someone else, so I bypassed the usual random choosing and put it aside as my next read. I haven’t gotten to it yet but as I received a txt from the library today reminding me (oooo technological!) I will get to it ASAP!

walking dead vol 1Since I didn’t pick randomly I thought it only fair to pick another one to replace The Unwritten, which turned out to be a trade paperback I bought pretty recently –  Fables Volume 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Daniel Vozzo (colourist) and James Jean (cover artist) – and a funny coincidence since Fables was advertised at the back of The Unwritten!

fables 2

I also picked four more comics from my Free Comic Book Day haul – Defend Comics; Zombie Tramp; Finding Gossamyr/The Last Mountain; and Magika/The First Daughter (which for some reason isn’t listed under the comics on the Free Comic Book Day site).

 

Now that the update business is done and dusted I can tell you a little about Supanova! 😀

Sarah and I had already planned to go one day over the weekend, and to meet our friend Scott – who is an avid con-goer – to have lunch, but then our friends Nay and Amber expressed interest because they are fans of Jon Heder who was a guest. Since it was Amber’s birthday on the Saturday and Jon Heder also had signings that day, it seemed a no-brainer to go to the con and then re-convene at my house for celebrations after.

As this year Supanova moved venues from Claremont Showgrounds to the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre (where other cons like Oz Comic-con and Wai-Con are held) and Nay and Amber had never been to a con before, we weren’t sure what to expect, but besides being pretty darn packed I think it was well organised and mostly we all had a ball!

We started by sitting in on a bit of the cosplay competition, which was suitably awe-inspiring and a great introduction to the con universe for the girls, before wandering through to the exhibitor area to look at, and possibly buy, pretty things. This area was particularly crowded so we just did a little circuit before heading out for lunch, where we met Scott and ogled all the exciting things he had gotten signed. Amber was nervous to meet Jon Heder but after some encouragement from the rest of us she joined the line with her print from the Napoleon Dynamite animated series, while we watched proudly from the sidelines. She emerged a few minutes later, grinning from ear to ear and later proclaimed it was the best birthday yet, which is awesome 🙂

We finished with a more studied perusal of goods, and each of us bought a couple of treasures. I managed to find a beautiful fox ring to replace one I use to wear every day until its poor tail snapped off, and a couple of comics which I have heard great things about – Sex Criminals Volume # 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction (creator, writer),  Chip Zdarsky (creator, writer), Becka Kinzie and Christopher Sebela (colourists); and Revival Volume # 1: You’re Among Friends by Tim Seeley (creator, writer) and Mike Norton (creator, artist):

supanova comics

I also bagged an awesome Cheshire Cat necklace when Sarah picked it out of a lucky dip, realised it was Alice related and so really should be for yours truly, then I did a lucky dip which she liked more so we swapped 😛 For some stupid reason I didn’t take a pic of my jewellery so if I remember I’ll share that next week.

The cosplayers were in fine form with some of the best I’ve seen, and I managed to get pics of some of my favourites, including a fabulous Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games, Death and Dream/Morpheus/The Sandman from The Sandman series, and Tank Girl!

Supanova collage

This was only a taste of some of the cosplay – I got a few more pics and there were plenty more I never got close enough too, and plenty more again which I didn’t see in person, however Funk’s House of Geekery did two great cosplay round-ups from the event which are definitely worth a look – Supanova Perth 2014: cosplay roundup day 1 and Supanova Perth 2014: cosplay roundup day 2.

I think that’s a good place to round-up my beloved Bookbaggers 🙂

Since I had Supanova and other excitement to talk about this time I won’t do a whole bunch of videos and GIFs, but I can’t resist sharing this scene from the Orphan Black finale:

Tune in for the next update and in the meantime possibly some Notable Quotables or other such fun, but until then:

dinah waving

 

Challenge Update: Week 7 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy

Bonjour my beauteous, benevolent Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the 7th update of my Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy challenges, where once again I have nothing exciting besides to tell you about, so I’ll probably end this post with some frivolous videos and GIFs ^_^

But firstly:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeSince the last update I have started two new books in this challenge, so a Mighty Numbered List is fitting more than ever:

  1. I have been reading Bleed by Peter M Ball heaps this week because I’m really enjoying it and it makes a great commute and lunch break book (although I think I’ve gotten a few odd looks from my co-workers over the cover art 😛 ). I almost got carried away and finished it last night, but it was already my bedtime and I knew if I kept going I would be too tired this morning, plus I probably wouldn’t have slept well as finishing a book perks me up too much. So, to save myself from a zombie-like Friday, and also to savour the end a bit, I’ve left the last couple of chapters which I will probably read sometime this weekend and pick a new one to share in the next update 🙂Bleed
  2. This morning instead of plunging into Bleed (again with the savouring) I started A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, which I have been avoiding on public transport and at work because I wasn’t sure if it would be too intense. Prepared with a Britpop channel on Pandora, turned down to a dull roar I started it on my bus and right away I was sucked in. I was right about it being intense (definitely not a lunch-time read!) but it was fine for the trip to work (after all, I read most of High-rise by J G Ballard to and from work, and that certainly wasn’t tame) and the most bizarre and interesting thing about it is the language. Burgess has created a unique form of urban slang – akin to cockney rhyming slang but with some Russian and other influences chucked in – which is used liberally by the main character, Alex, to replace many common words. I found today that there are a dictionaries online, such as this one which give the English translation of the slang, however much of it can be discerned from context, or on a second or third encounter of the word, so generally I knew what was going on. Plus the bizarre words, paired with strange fashions and other clues, makes it more clear that you are in a futuristic world where society has changed. So far I am loving it, so hopefully I will get some time to read more over the weekend.a clockwork orange
  3. Lastly I read 2 more stories out of The Living Dead zombie anthology on Sunday. The first I had been looking forward to from the start since it’s by one of my favourite authors – “Sex, Death and Starshine” by Clive Barker  but pretty early on I realised why the title and story were so familiar – I had already read it in Books of Blood vol. 1-3! I still enjoyed the story, which followed the preparations for a final performance of Twelfth Night by a lacklustre collection of thespians before the old theatre is demolished, which is changed for the better (mostly) when the director is visited by a man from the theatre’s past. This story sort of went back to the more sinister zombies, albeit ones that still had their wits about them, and being Clive Barker had this creepy undercurrent all the way through. Afterwards I read the next tale – “Stockholm Syndrome” by David Tallerman – because it was quite short, and here we really got back to traditional zombies, with the narrator barricaded in his home and talking about a particular zombie he could see outside. Even though it was short, it was quite chilling, maybe because of the narrator’s voice, which held a sort of admiration and respect for the zombie he was watching, or maybe because I had much more controlled or humanised zombies leading up to it. Either way, it was a creepy one…in a good way 🙂

     A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

The contenders list remains the same as last week (for now!):

i am legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

hornHorn by Peter M Ball

deadly belovedDeadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins

ericThe Illustrated Eric by Terry Pratchett (writer) and Josh Kirby

Now onto my other exciting challenge:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeI read heaps of these again on Sunday, easily making my new quota of 50 pages from each, and getting excitingly close to the end of one 😀 :

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending72 pages (3 chapters)

Pages remaining: 125

Brisingr:

Brisingr55 Pages (5 chapters)

Pages remaining: 338

Total:

127 Pages

Pages remaining: 463

The Sending is getting so exciting that if I manage to get enough time on Sunday (I am throwing a birthday party for one of my close friends, Nay, on Saturday so may be recuperating Sunday) I could just read to the end, but if not this challenge will be down one book in a couple of weeks, and considering what’s happening in Brisingr I doubt it’ll be far behind!

Since last time I also read my two other randomly picked Free Comic Book Day comics – Courtney Crumrin was a rare first issue where most of the free comics are zero issues/teasers and introduced me to an interesting YA supernatural story which I want to continue with more than any of the others I’ve read so far. At the back was a promotion of the half-dozen hard cover volumes which already exist, so I’ll have to see if the first one is in one of my friendly neighborhood comic stores 🙂

Courtney Crumrin

The other one – Spongebob Freestyle Funnies – was pretty much what the name suggests, a collection of short comics starring the lovable underwater-pineapple-dwelling sponge and his friends, drawn by different artists and it was a nice way to spend a few minutes one afternoon before Sarah came to visit.

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies

Well, that’s it for now Bookbaggers 🙂 If you haven’t already check out my newest regular feature posts Collective Nounitude: Zombies and Adventures in Etymology: Syncopation, and I’ll be back next week with a new update.

Until then here’s the random frivolity I promised 😀

Firstly a bunny who looks inadvertently sinister munching on some raspberries:

bunny eating raspberries

Yet still adorable despite its raspberry blood lust 😛

Then this adorable Bull Terrier trying to figure out what this crab is about:

I had a Bully cross growing up who was dumb as a post, but a very sweet dog, so despite their occationally bad rap I love their adorable boofy faces ^-^

I had a Bully cross growing up who was dumb as a post, but a very sweet dog, so despite their bad rap I love their adorable boofy faces ^-^

And lastly this video, which actually isn’t frivolous but a genius idea which addresses multiple problems we’re now facing as a society:

I’m planning on supporting the project next pay-day, and if any of my lovely Bookbaggers want to do the same they can here.

Ok see ya!

waving doctor

Challenge Update: Week 5 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy + My Dog Gave Me A Heart Attack

Howdy my captivating, convivial Bookbaggers!

Welcome to another highly successful update of Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, peppered with the tale of one of my dogs (I have 3 fur kids in various stages of decrepitude and idiocy) disappearing over a stormy night and generally scaring the bejesus out of me!

On that note, lets begin with:

Short and Sweet challenge badge

There wasn’t a huge amount of activity in this challenge last week, but still worthy of the mighty numbered list:

  1. I have still been reading a lot of Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek to, from and during work (on my break of course!) and although I didn’t finish Above and flip to Below before the end of the week, I did at the start of this week and (spoiler alert) finished the whole kit and caboodle Wednesday, so in my next update I’ll share my new pick and tell you my general thoughts on the book (spoiler alert again – it was pretty great)AboveBelow-cover1-300x246
  2. I didn’t read any more of Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan last week either, but I did read another story yesterday so I’ll tell you about that in the next update, and since there is now only two stories left, I may even finish it over the weekend and will have another new book 😀Cracklescape_lg_large
  3. Lastly, on Sunday I read 2 stories from The Living Dead zombie anthology, coz I was having an out-of-the-rain-reading-binge again. “The Dead” by Michael Swanwick, was another one which dropped the mindless-dead-eating-everyone’s-face thing and instead had a world of the undead as commodities, bought and sold for cheap labour, the sex industry and as curiosities. Then because I was still in a zombie mood I read “The Dead Kid”  by Darrell Schweitzer, which is about a boy who wants to be in the local tough-kid gang headed by the school’s resident thug until he discovers that they have a dead, reanimated boy in their hideout to use as a plaything and test for potential new members. Both stories had a running theme of humanity being uglier and more deadly than the undead, and the zombies themselves were pretty placid and played the part of the victim more.A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

Until next week the contenders remain unchanged:

a clockwork orangeClockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

i am legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

hornHorn by Peter M Ball

BleedBleed by Peter M Ball

deadly belovedDeadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins

ericThe Illustrated Eric by Terry Pratchett (writer) and Josh Kirby

Once again it was the next challenge that I really went crazy with this Sunday:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeAs I said, Sunday was a stay-inside-reading sort of day, especially with the stress of the rest of the weekend (which I’ll get into after official challenge business :P) so I got carried away in my two fantasy worlds again:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending72 pages (3 chapters)

Pages remaining: 272

Brisingr:

Brisingr31 Pages (2 chapters)

Pages remaining: 445

Total:

103 Pages

Pages remaining: 717

At this point because the plot is rushing forward with both books and I don’t feel like I’m in a reading rut anymore, I could possibly amp up my goal to 100 pages a week, but as I don’t know if every week will be so fruitful, I’m not gonna jinx it and instead if I got over 50 pages that’s just a bonus 🙂

Besides the above reading fun I also got stuck into one of my  Free Comic Book Day comics – Worlds of Aspen 2014 – which I quite enjoyed! The zero issue of The ZooHunters had a lovely art style and some interesting elements for a science fiction series, and Damsels in Excess was a solid zero issue introducing the 5 princesses of a realm where all men have been eliminated in some way by an unnamed sorceress. Both caught my interest so I’ll have to look out for their official first issues.

 

Now onto the story of my dog nearly giving me a heart attack/making me keel over with worry.

This is the face of a naughty dog who had me freaking out for a night and most of the next day. Damn cute little bitch (technically not offensive as it's completely accurate!) doesn't look fazed by the whole thing does she?

This is the face of a naughty dog who had me freaking out for a night and most of the next day. Damn cute little bitch (technically not offensive as it’s completely accurate!) doesn’t look fazed by the whole thing does she?

On Friday afternoon I had a dentist appointment, so my lovely mum agreed to pick me up early and drive me there. On the way out to meet her I checked my phone and I had a few missed calls from an unknown number. Thinking it was either someone I hadn’t updated in my contacts or a company trying to sell me something I txted them asking who they were and while we were driving to the dentist I got a txt back saying they had found my dog in some wetlands near my house but she had slipped her collar and escaped their yard!

Right away I rang and rescheduled the dentist appointment and we rushed home, hoping that she had made her way back there, and when there was no sign, we went down to the wetlands to search. After walking a few kilometres calling out to her and asking every dog-walker we saw if they had spotted a salt-and-pepper miniature schnauzer (nope), I rang the ranger to see if she was at the pound (nope) left a description and my details and we collected the collar off the woman who found her before returning home, defeated.

As I said at the start, I have three dogs of various ages and levels of stupidity, two of which I talked about in this post, and a third – Rocky, an excitable and quite thick Maltese/Shih Tzu/something else, possibly a poodle or terrier of some kind – we adopted last year when his owner, a former tenant of my mum’s, passed away. Tia, the only female of the bunch and the escapee falls on the older side of the group being around 10 this year (only a vet’s estimate as she’s a rescue dog) but is definitely the smartest and most sensible of the bunch (most of the time). Despite being generally more well-behaved and sleeping the majority of the day, this is the third time she has snuck past our gate and went walkabout, however the last two times we were contacted by the ranger or fellow dog-owner before we even knew she was gone. This time she was out god-knows-where with no identification, qualities which aren’t conducive to long periods in the wild (she is quite timid due to her background, has the physique of a pampered house-dog, and no teeth) and to top it off, storms were forecasted for the night.

Suffice to say, mum and I were racked with worry, and even though I tried to enjoy my pre-planned night of frivolity with friends, family and plentiful beverages, I think my mournful looks out the window every time a new burst of rain started may have dampened the night. Thanks to the support of said friends, family and beverages I was actually able to sleep that night, and then the next morning went to the library to make a missing flyer with the above photo (as it was the cutest one and has her with a similar haircut to the current one) before mum and I put them up around the wetlands and surrounds. Afterwards I called another pound, with no luck, who suggested I try local vets (my next plan anyway) and a Facebook page called Pets of Perth – Lost & Found.

I was going onto the book of faces anyway to post a status for people to share around, so I went to duplicate the status on the page and check the current posts to see if there was any leads. Almost right away I found a post about a dog which was found that morning in the carpark of the local shopping centre, which didn’t have a picture and described the dog as a terrier, but as I read on sounded more and more like Tia. With my heart in my throat I rang the woman and with only a minute or so of conversation she was also convinced that she had my dog and gave me her address which was only round the corner!

Right away Mum, Sarah (who had stayed over) and I jumped in the car and raced around to her house. As soon as I saw the woman emerging through the front door with Tia in her arms I burst into tears and rushed over. As she passed her over I saw the woman was also getting teary, and when I tried to offer her $50 as a thank you, she refused and insisted that returning her was its own reward.

The rest of the weekend felt so bizarre as the adrenaline wore off into stunned relief and I mainly spent it making Tia comfortable at home and generally trying to get myself back to feeling normal! Tia seemed in an amazing state considering she had spent a night out in the elements and must’ve traveled several kilometres going down to the wetlands, then making her way to the shops in the opposite direction by morning, and mostly she just wanted to rest and be near us and her doggy bros 🙂

Tia and the boys

Tia looking a bit stunned and bedraggled with the boys virtually sitting on her in welcome

My gratitude towards the woman who found her is almost inexpressible. Because of how Tia is with most strangers we knew she wouldn’t allow herself to be nabbed by just anyone, but I’m so glad she found a real animal-lover with a sweet dog of her own, who didn’t take her to the pound or report her to the rangers because she knew, being the weekend, that her owner wouldn’t be able to collect her till Monday. I’m also very grateful to the pound and local vet which told her about Pets of Perth – Lost & Found (and the woman at the pound who put me onto it!), and the Facebook page in general for existing and helping me find my silly old-lady pooch.

Sorry for rambling on about a completely non-book related subject, but since it was pretty major I thought I should share the saga with you, my beloved Bookbaggers 🙂

I promise the next update will be much more on-topic and to make up for it here’s some frivolous fun again!

Firstly this frickin’ hilarious Doctor Who parody video I watched today on A Wordless Blogger:

Next this scene from the last episode of Orphan Black because I think it is the most Sarah and I have ever laughed during this show (it’s usually more of an “AHHH what the hell just happened!? Who the hell is this guy?! Is he dodgy? Ah he’s totally dodgy! What is he…? Oh crap!” sort of show than a bundle of laughs):

And lastly this adorable GIF of a red panda which was featured in the Buzzfeed post The 27 Best Red Panda GIFs Of All Time:

red panda stretching

On that note I’m off as this post has become crazy long! Stay tuned for next week’s update but until then goodbye from your kooky Book Polygamist and my old mate Totoro:

goodbye totoro

Challenge Update – Failed Week 2 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy + a Winning Weekend

Why hello there my jaunty, jocular Bookbaggers!

Welcome to what I have laughingly called the second update of my new challenges, Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, despite the fact that last week was a bit of a fail challenge-wise.

As it was my first week back to work after term break, as well as my first week on a diet/exercise plan, it wasn’t a huge surprise that I had barely enough time over the week to complete my challenge goals. Add in planning for my boss’ birthday lunch last week, and her going away party this week, and a wonderfully fun weekend including seeing a comedy gig on Friday night and celebrating my friend Scott’s birthday on the Saturday and Sunday and it’s no wonder that my challenge results were lame:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeI didn’t read any more stories from either Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan or The Living Dead zombie anthology, but I have been reading No Nice Girl by Perry Lindsay a lot to and from work, and in fact I finished it yesterday morning.no nice girlIt wasn’t a life-changing book, or as amazing as High-rise, but its charmingly cheeky, late 1940’s humor made it a fun commute book, and by the end I was surprisingly invested in the characters and longed to know what would happen next. Even though last week had almost no action in this challenge, on the flip-side there wasn’t definite inaction either and I have picked a new book to replace No Nice Girl which I can tell you about in my next update 🙂

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeThis challenge was more actively inactive…

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending0 pages (0 chapters)

Pages remaining: 441

Brisingr:

Brisingr0 Pages (0 chapters)

Pages remaining: 570

Total:

0 Pages

Pages remaining: 1011

Not a great result so early in the challenge, but as there were good reasons behind my lack of reading, rather than just laziness, I’m not going to beat myself up about it, and as I have a much less eventful weekend planned this week I hope to make amends 🙂

Now onto the much more exciting update of my weekend!

It all kicked off on the Friday, when Sarah and I had tickets to see Felicity Ward’s show, “Iceberg” as part of the Perth International Comedy Festival!

Image from laughingstock.com.au

Image from laughingstock.com.au

It was absolutely hilarious – even more funny than Sarah and I were expecting (we had only seen/heard her on TV and podcasts, never live before) and like any really good stand-up show it also was quite poignant and revolved around a central concept. If this wasn’t enough Felicity announced at the end of the show that she would be selling DVDs of a previous show – The Hedgehog Dilemma – outside for $10! Sarah and I obviously stayed behind to grab one each and were surprised to see that Felicity had set up a modest little selling area (pretty much a little table with DVDs on that she stood next too) and was happily signing DVDs and chatting to people. When we got to the front we had a nice little chat too and left a little stunned that someone who was so amazing on stage was also a really nice, down-to-earth and humble person.

Saturday the fun continued as Sarah and I journeyed into the city centre to celebrate Scott’s birthday and participate in Free Comic Book Day! While Scott is a regular Free Comic Book Day goer, Sarah and I had heard about it (and of course last year Scott kindly picked me up a few comics) but never organised ourselves enough to check it out. Since the event always falls on the first Saturday in May, and this year that’s the weekend before Scott’s Very Important Birthday (I won’t say what number makes it Very Important so he can remain mysterious to all you other Bookbaggers 😉 ) so it seemed a perfect way to kick off celebrations.

Staring from 10ish (AKA Sean Connery at Wimbleton time) we traveled around to four comic book stores in Perth – starting with Comiczone of course, where we got the majority of our free loot, and Sarah and Scott purchased additional bounty; then to the newest of the bunch, Perth Comic Centre (which were hosting the event for the first time and looked quite shocked/pleased by the flood of people going through their tiny shop) where Sarah gasped with joy at the free copy of The Tick which we had not seen at Comiczone; then to Quality Comics where we nabbed a couple more freebies; and lastly Red Griffin Games where I bought a Dr Seuss bag to carry my growing load of comics, plus The Sandman Vol. 5: A Game of You.

Then feeling slightly foot-sore and over-excited by the sheer volume of free (FREE!) comics we had acquired, lunch was on the horizon, so we ventured down Shafto Lane (a hidden-gem alleyway in the Perth metro with a Irish pub, eateries and shops) in pursuit of Japanese. Unfortunately when we approached the large Taka’s Kitchen we encountered closed doors with a sign proclaiming they’d had to close due to a problem with their gas. Unperturbed we decided that we’d eat at one of many other Japanese places nearby, but before we left Scott suggested we browse the neighboring bookstore, Stefan’s Books. Now, Sarah and I had vowed beforehand that we would be partaking only in free comics and would save our cash for lunch and dinner…yes, we may have already broken that vow by buying a few comics but as Sarah’s were both Tank Girl they didn’t count (Tank Girl being as important, if not more than food) and my carry bag and new Sandman were also vitally important, so we felt we could safely enter a bookshop without being tempted.

We were wrong. Within moments of entering the store Sarah spotted a tantalising shelf of Clive Barker, including the second omnibus of Books of Blood (containing volumes 4-6) which she had been looking for since she found the first set in an op-shop maybe 10 years ago. As I had also read, and loved, volume 1-3 we both stood and stared at the book, almost openly salivating, but managed to avert our eyes and peruse the rest of the books. Then the shopkeeper (Stefan himself) tempted us further by producing a hard cover volume of re-imagined Grimm’s Faerie Tales featuring prominent authors such as Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris (these being the two I especially went “Ooooooo!” over) which he accidentally got instead of paperbacks so was selling at a paperback price!

At this point Sarah and I gave in and I suggested to her that if she got Books of Blood I’d get the faerie tales and we could loan them to each other. That was the only crumb of convincing we needed, so we headed to the counter where I noticed a beautiful display of the new hardcover Discworld books. Since I am now up to Eric I pulled that one out to take a look (just a look!) which prompted Stefan to tell me about an even more exciting volume he had – a single copy he had found in a supplier warehouse of the rare first illustrated hardcover edition (all of those words fill me with glee). I was doomed from the moment he said there was only one copy, as I’m a sucker for lonely, abandoned goods and one look at the illustrations by Josh Kirby throughout, and I was doomed. I couldn’t justify buying it that day however, but Stefan is holding it for me until Friday 🙂

eric

This is the kind of art found inside - just stunning

This is the kind of art found inside – just stunning

We then had Japanese at a little place down the road before heading off to Scott’s neck of the woods to examine our haul of comics and watch some comic-themed DVDs, detouring on the way to buy additional beverages and for Scott to show us the awesome owl sculpture in front of his local library. Once we got back to Scott’s and unburdened, Sarah and I gave Scott his birthday presents and then we looked through our free comics (we each got around 20!) and chatted about our fabulous day.

free comic book day collage

My haul spread out, plus the official Free Comic Book Day poster which Scott made into badges for us all, my Dr Seuss bag that managed to handle a crazy amount of comics and books, and the fantastic owl sculpture

For the viewing part of the birthday celebration day we started with the newest Simpsons episode, which was about movie piracy and very funny; followed by two episodes of the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which featured the 11th Doctor played by Matt Smith; then a documentary about the development of comics from the 1930’s-’80s called Comic Book Confidential; then an epic two-part animated Batman movie, The Dark Knight Returns which sees Batman come out of retirement to clean up Gotham and generally be badass; and lastly another two-ep arc of The Sarah Jane Adventures featuring David Tennant, the 10th Doctor.

movie collageOur amazing weekend continued the next day when Scott surprised Sarah and I with gifts (just comics and DVDs he didn’t want/need anymore, but still – it’s his birthday!) and then we got ready and headed off to have a big breakfast-for-lunch of pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns with maple syrup and iced-coffees (aw man my nutritionist is not going to be pleased with my weekend eats! I get a free day but I may have dragged it out over two :P).

As the bought books in the top row are outnumbered by the gifted ones below, and definitely by the load of free ones, they don't count as spending money....that's what I keep telling myself anyway :P

As the bought books in the top row are outnumbered by the gifted ones below, and definitely by the load of free ones, they don’t count as spending money….that’s what I keep telling myself anyway 😛

From the top my new goodies are: Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome by various; The Sandman Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman (writer), Shawn McManus, Colleen Doran, Bryan Talbot, Dick Giordano, George Pratt, Stan Woch (artists), Daniel Vozzo (colourist), and Todd Klein (letterer); Morning Glories Vol. 1: For a Better Future by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), and Rodin Esquejo (cover artist); iZombie Vol. 1: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson (writer), Mike Allred (artist), and Laura Allred (colourist); and last but not least, Hoax Hunters Book 1: Murder, Death, and the Devil by Michael Moreci, Steve Seeley (writers) JM Ringuet, Axel Medellin Machain, and Emilio Laiso (artists).

Overall it was a fantastic weekend, and I hope that Scott had a wonderful time too – he deserves it 🙂

That’ll be it for now Bookbaggers, but hopefully next week I will have a more prosperous challenge update for you!

Until then here’s some animals waving:

whale

bear

  Mike 

Challenge Update: Week 1 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy + Fangirling at Swancon

Good day my legendary, literary Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the first update of my newest challenges, Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, sprinkled with some boasting from my wonderful Easter break!

I had quite a lot packed in to my week-and-a-day holiday – appointments at the how-many-gadgets-can-I-fit-in-your-mouth-at-once clinic (AKA dentist); the sorry-your-love-affair-with-bread-is-on-hold-for-a-couple-of-weeks office (nutritionist) and the lets-get-you-to-work-out-in-a-room-full-of-old-people-while-we-supervise-so-you-don’t-injure-yourself-again-you-klutz centre (exercise physiologist); plus catch-ups with friends from Sydney and closer to home, and a very fun Sunday at Swancon where I met Isobelle Carmody!!!!

Besides all this activity, I did have some time to myself to read and thus have a healthy first update on my challenges:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeSince I love a good list and this post could become obscenely long without it I’ll summarise my progress over the week with the power of numbers!

  1. I discovered two books on my shelf with less than 200 pages – Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell, which I bought from Kaleido Books last yearweird things customers say in bookshopsand No Nice Girl by Perry Lindsay, which is part of the Harlequin Vintage Collection I bought yonks ago and is one of 2 that I hadn’t read yet – both of which have been added to the pool of Short and Sweet contenders
    no nice girl
  2. I finished High-rise by J G Ballard on the 21st and holy moley it was one heck of a book! For such a thin tome (198 pages) Ballard certainly fits in a lot of creepy stuff and somehow it never feels rushed or lacking details but more like a concentrated story of complete societal breakdown set within a 40 story apartment building. Not for everyone, but this weirdo Book Polygamist loved it and it is the first on my list of top books for 2014 for sure!high-rise
  3. After Finishing High-rise I randomly picked a name from the gift-bag currently holding the bits of paper with Short and Sweet contenders written on and funnily enough I picked No Nice Girl. I’ve read a few chapters so far and it is wickedly funny, so I’m pleased with the choice no nice girl
  4. I also decided to forgo choosing and simply read Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops one afternoon as I had already started reading bits and pieces out to Sarah, my bro and my mum on Good Friday. As can be expected it was a mix of hilarious, baffling, infuriating, stupid and sometimes downright scary quotes that customers have actually said to booksellers and there was many a giggle, shake of the head in disbelief, exclamation of outrage and furrowed brow from this book-lover and my book-loving kin. Worth a look for any bibliophile if only to better understand what our beloved booksellers are faced with day-to-day!weird things customers say in bookshops
  5. I bought (among others) 4 books under 200 pages at Swancon – Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan; Horn by Peter M Ball; Bleed also by Peter M Ball; and Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek (it’s actually two short stories published in one novella with the authors telling two sides of the one story – very cool) – which have also been added to the pool
  6. On the 22nd my rut-breaking challenge seemed to work its magic because I finished the last quarter of Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett while busing too and from appointments, which I have been reading since October last year!guards guards
  7. Once I returned from my journey I chose a book to replace Guards! Guards! from the Short and Sweet bag and in another funny turn of events I picked Cracklescape which had just been added. Cracklescape is not only under 200 pages, but is actually a collection of 4 short stories so it’s doubly good for the challenge. I’ve only read the first story ‘The Duchess Dresser‘ so far but I really enjoyed it – a ghost story that felt very authentic and had a more stifling and claustrophobic feel than straight up thrills and chills.Cracklescape_lg_large
  8. And lastly I read the short story ‘Ghost Dance’ by Sherman Alexie (the author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) from The Living Dead zombie anthology on my final day of holidays. It was a wonderfully gruesome tale where the blood of two Native American men thoughtlessly murdered by a racist cop at the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn (commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand) awaken the dead soldiers there, who promptly rip the cop and his frightened rookie partner to pieces and then move on killing anyone in their path. the_living_deadSo yeah, lots of activity for the first week of the challenge!

The updated list of Short and Sweet contenders is as follows:

a clockwork orangeA Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

i am legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

horn Horn by Peter M Ball

BleedBleed by Peter M Ball

AboveBelow-cover1-300x246Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek

Now onto the second challenge I started, which didn’t have an opening week as spectacular, but was still successful:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeAs I had some time to read I also was able to get back into both The Sending by Isobelle Carmody and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini and after the initial “what? who are you again? what’s happening?!” phase I was good and easily achieved my goal:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending29 pages (2 chapters)

Pages remaining: 441

Brisingr:

Brisingr25 Pages (2 chapters)

Pages remaining: 570

Total:

54 Pages

Pages remaining: 1011

Even with all this crazy challenge hullabaloo I also read a fair few comics/graphic novels over my break which I will present to you again in a nifty slide-a-ma-show:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And since I then had only two comics left on the shelf (!!!!!!) I bought a whole new bunch at Comiczone while catching up with my friend and fellow comic-lover (my recent interest pales in comparison to his life-long love of the form), Scott:

Ooooo so shiny and new! *drool*

Ooooo so shiny and new! *drool*

From the top left they are:The Sandman: Overture #2 – Chapter Two by Neil Gaiman (writer), J.H. Williams III (artist), Dave Stewart (colourist), and Todd Klein (letterer);  Hinterkind: The Waking World Volume 1 byIan Edginton (writer), Francesco Trifogli (artist), and Greg Tocchini (cover artist); Rocket Girl #1 – Times Squared by Brandon Montclare (writer) and Amy Reeder (artist); The Unwritten: Leviathan (The Unwritten, Volume # 4) by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist, colourist), Vince Locke, Al Davison (colourists) and Yuko Shimizu (cover artist); Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist);

I wanted to finish the comics I’ve had for a while before I got onto the shiny new ones so after finishing The Dark-Hunters 2 I picked out of the jar and got:

Sandman-Overture-CV1_SOLICIT_sxvqsdoynu_The Sandman: Overture #1 – Chapter One by Neil Gaiman (writer), J.H. Williams III (artist), Dave Stewart (colourist), and Todd Klein (letterer)

Which I have been wanting to read since before it was even published! Since I knew I would zip through it in no time (I was right – I read it in a few minutes the other night and was blown away) I pre-emptively also picked the other one:

FreakAngels Warren Ellis Glénat 04 (5) FreakAngels #2 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist)

Which I haven’t gotten to as yet, but hope to ASAP as the last volume was excellent!

I’m going to round off with a very brief summary of my time at Swancon as this post is growing to gargantuan proportions!

As I said above I bought books of course, mainly from the Twelve Planets Press stall (that’s where all my Short and Sweet ones came from), plus a few pairs of quilled paper earrings 🙂 Here are the books in all their glory:

Swancon books 2014

I left Cracklescape out because It’s in my bag and I forgot to include it….I mean I totally did it on purpose because…reasons

The ones not already mentioned are Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher, who was a guest but not on the Sunday when I went; and Living With The Dead a short story collection by Martin Livings published by Dark Prints Press, which I also got signed 🙂

Besides buying way too many books I also went to some fun and interesting panels (“The History of WA Fandom” which went over the early years of the con and featured a friend of Sarah and her family who was the official Perth Fan Guest; and “It Followed Me Home, Mum, Can I Keep It?: Fantastical Pets” which was great fun and very interacative) but the main reason I chose Sunday out of the whole Easter long weekend that the con was on, is because Isobelle Carmody was there on the Sunday doing her guest of honour speech followed by a signing!

After deliberating for a good while I took along my old battered copy of Scatterlings,which was the first book by Carmody I ever read, gifted to me by family friends for Christmas 1999 (when I was 12, for the record). I listened intently as Isobelle spoke, artfully telling hilarious stories from her childhood, her early experiences of writing and being published and her love of books and libraries, and hoped that she wouldn’t be shocked and appalled by the state of my book (I had discovered the night before when retrieving it from the depths of my bookshelf that it had several pages falling out and I didn’t have the right repair tools at home to fix it O.O).

When she had finished speaking I waited in line with the other die-hard fans and con-goers who had just discovered her books at the stall, clutching my book encased in a plastic bag to prevent lost pages, butterflies growing exponentially in my stomach. Of course when I did get to the front and apologised about the dishevelled book she didn’t mind a jot and happily signed it with a quote and all. She even thanked me (me!) for working in the library industry when Sarah mentioned it!

Scatterlings collageIt was an amazing experience, especially considering my current challenge and I have to say a big thank you to Sarah for agreeing to go on Sunday for me, and her and her mum in general for a fabulous day 🙂

On that note I’ll leave you, beloved Bookbaggers, for now. Stay tuned for an update next week and perhaps other tidbits in the world of the Book Polygamist, but until then here’s another funny/cute gif which is a pretty accurate representation of my face upon meeting Isobelle Carmody:

owl gif

Top 10 Graphic Novels I Read in 2013

Hello all and welcome to the first (and hopefully annual) Top 10 Graphic Novels list! I had to do a list of graphic novels as well as my usual one of their pictureless brethren this year as I read so many great ones (thanks in no small part to my Comic Companions challenge). As my re-kindled love affair with comics continues I hope that I can make this list a regular part of my yearly awards to serve as recommendations to any comic-loving Bookbaggers 🙂

So without further ado here is my very first Top 10 Graphic Novels I Read in (insert year here) list:

1.  The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

by Neil Gaiman (writer),
Kelley JonesMalcolm Jones IIIMike DringenbergMatt WagnerP. Craig Russell,George PrattDick Giordano (artists),
Daniel VozzoSteve Oliff (colourists), and Todd Klein (letterer)

sandman4I read Volumes 1-4 of The Sandman in 2013, which were all amazing but Season of Mists was definitely my favourite so far. Firstly the story of Morpheus/Dream/The Sandman trying to make amends for the revengeful punishment of his lover millenia ago leading him to being the reluctant new owner of Hell with beings from all over vying to be its new master was epic. Secondly it was really cool to see almost all of The Endless (Dream and his siblings) together, especially the gloriously coloured pages which described them. Thirdly the various beings which gathered in Dream’s realm to petition him for ownership of hell (including Gods from various religions, demons and agents of order and chaos) were so different in their methods and reasons for wanting Hell, making the final scenes riveting and wonderfully suspenseful.
If you are a fan of fantasy graphic novels you really must read this fantastic series 🙂

2. The Beatles Graphic by Hervé Bourhis

beatles graphicI learnt so much about The Beatles from this comprehensive biographical comic which goes through every significant moment in the band’s development as well as the personal lives of John, Paul, George and Ringo (plus a bit of background on important figures in their lives, such as Yoko Ono). As it’s written by a Frenchman the book also gives a unique perspective on the Beatles influence on Europe which I found really interesting, and as a fan he did short reviews of every album and single released, not only by the Fab Four, but solo and other collaborative projects, and he was very honest with his opinions. Definitely recommended for Beatles fans and people interested in musical bios.

3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

persepolis coverThis was another biographical graphic novel (autobio this time) which taught me a lot about Iran before, during and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, but was also a touching, thoughtful and at times very funny coming-of-age tale. I decided to read Persepolis in honor of Banned Books Week and right away I empathised with the frustrated students who were robbed of this fantastic graphic novel. Yes, it was very confronting which I guess is why people felt it should be banned, but it was well worth it, and I think it would be especially poignant to kids the same age as the author when her story began. If you don’t know much about Iranian history and culture besides what is parroted by the media, or you want a unique perspective on life in a very different world, I would highly recommend Persepolis. 

4. Batman: The Killing Joke: The Deluxe Edition

by Alan Moore (writer), Brian Bolland (artist, colorist, writer), Ellie De Ville and Richard Starkings (letterers)

the-killing-joke-deluxe-front-cover1This one is straying into more traditional comic territory, but this spectacular deluxe edition which I borrowed off my friend Scott, is far more than your run-of-the-mill Batman comic. Firstly, let me just say, I use to read any and every Batman comic that came into my local library, and would reread my favourites (namely anything with Harley Quinn) over and over. When I borrowed The Killing Joke it had probably been 10 or 15 years since I’d last dived into a Batman comic and yet it felt like I had never left, and it was even more engrossing than I remember. This may be thanks to the brilliantly twisted mind of Alan Moore, or to Brian Bolland’s amazing art, or maybe just because it delved deep into the past of the Joker like nothing I’d ever read before, but whatever it was made for a gripping read! I would of course recommend this to Batman fans (if they haven’t already read it of course) but also to people who like Batman but don’t really know where to begin in the huge backlog of comics – this one is not to be missed.

5. Clive Barker Omnibus (collecting The Thief of Always The Great and Secret Show ; and Seduth)

by Clive BarkerKris OpriskoChris Ryall,  Christopher Monfette (writers), Gabriel HernandezGabriel RodriguezRay Zone (artists),  Robbie Robbins (letterer)

CliveBarker_OmnibusAs a Clive Barker fan I was eager to read this omnibus, especially since I had read The Thief of Always earlier in the year, The Great and Secret Show was one of my first trips into the world of Barker and was starting to become a vague memory, and Seduth had never been published elsewhere. None of them disappointed either in the story-telling/adaptation or the artwork – hell, even the lettering was stunning and perfectly fit the mood of each story! I read each story on a different day (in fact I think I read The Great and Secret Show over a couple of days because it made up the bulk of the omnibus) so I was fully immersed in each story at the time, and even though I had read two of the three in novel form, I felt like I was experiencing them for the first time. I would definitely recommend this to Barker fans, but also to people who may have wanted to read his stuff before but prefer a graphic novel format.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales

by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan and others (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

buffy talesThis was without a doubt one of the best presents I got on my last birthday, if not the best hands down and it definitely had to go on this list! My lovely workmate Scott gifted it to me around my birthday in October and I was in love from the moment I looked at it. It contained a treasure-trove of stories I never even knew about before, written by former writers of the show amongst a bevy of other talented writers, with each story beautifully, and uniquely brought to life by a cast of gifted artists. There wasn’t a single story I didn’t like (though some of course stood out more than others) and it made New Books November even more fun in its role of Official Mascot. I have already raved about it to my Buffy-loving friends (though I keep forgetting to loan it to my best friend Sarah, a Buffy fan from way back, as its so big and ironically gets missed whenever I give her a bunch of graphic novels to try) but I would highly recommend it to any Buffy fan out there, especially if you love comic art – there’s so many styles on offer here its a veritable smörgåsbord for comic-art geeks 😀

7. The Books of Magic

by Neil Gaiman (writer), John BoltonScott HamptonCharles Vess and Paul Johnson (artists)

books of magicThis one was read later in the year, just days before Christmas, but I enjoyed it so much I was willing to push earlier titles off the list in order for it to make my Top 10. Being written my Neil Gaiman, with a somewhat Sandman-esque feel to it and each section illustrated by a different artist to fit the mood of each realm, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I loved this graphic novel. It was one of those stories that you just fall into, and for the minutes, hours, or days that you read it you are lost to another world. In the case of The Books of Magic I was gone for about an hour or so as it’s a sort of mini-series kind of graphic novel, with 4 parts. I have since put my brother on to it, and he was just as lost (I watched him read it so I can attest that he was definitely not all there anymore!) and I plan to find and add it to my growing comic/graphic novel collection 🙂 I would recommend this to Neil Gaiman fans, especially if you like the Sandman, and fans of epic, archetypal fantasy.

8. The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

BookofHumanInsectsThis one I have to admit was bought because of its bizarre title (I love me a weird title :P) but I was also intrigued because the author and artist is the mind behind Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, two of my favourite shows from when I was a kid (thanks in part to them being faves of my mum who saw them new, and the habit of Australian TV in the early 90’s playing lots of repeats of classic shows) but I had never read his graphic novels. The Book of Human Insects was worlds away from the cartoons of my youth, but I loved the juxtaposition of Tezuka’s big-eyed, round-faced characters in a world of sex, manipulation, fraud, violence and intrigue. The feel of the story was very film noir, with a classic femme fatale as the main character, and it was a fun blend of absurdity and relatability. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone (I haven’t passed it on to my brother or friends coz I’m not sure if they’d like it) but if you like manga with a lot of depth, and many a dash of odd, or if like me you’re curious about Tezuka’s work beyond adorable kings of the jungle and robot boys with rocket books, give this a try.

9. Nevermore 

by Edgar Allan Poe , Ian EdgintonJamie DelanoJohn Reppion, and Leah Moore (writers) and D’IsraeliJames (Jim) FletcherJohn McCreaShane Oakley and Steve Pugh (artists)nevermoreI read Nevermore at a perfect time, right after my Poe.My.God! Challenge when I still had all the stories fresh in my mind. This anthology took 9 of Poe’s most famous tales (The Raven; The Pit and the Pendulum; The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar; The Murders in the Rue Morgue; The Fall of the House of Usher; The Black Cat; The Oval Portrait; The Tell-Tale Heart; and The Masque of the Red Death) and re-tells them in modern (or sometimes futuristic) settings, each illustrated by a different artist in their style, but sticking to a moody black and grey colour scheme. I thought the adaptations were really clever and the black and grey ink work really put me in a dark, gothic, Poe sort of mood 🙂 Unfortunately because this was a library item I couldn’t hand it straight on to my brother (who is a huge Poe fan since he was a kid) but I hope to add it to my collection in the future, and in the meantime if he’s interested, I can always get it out from my work, since that’s the library it came from (albeit a different campus) and make him swear in blood that it returns unharmed. Very fitting for Poe, don’t ya think? 😛 I would recommend this to Poe fans, people who like classic tales interpreted into new settings, or anyone who likes a dark, broody graphic novel.

10. Fray

by Joss Whedon (writer), Karl Moline (penciler),Andy Owens (inker), Dave Stewart (colourist) and Michelle Madsen (colourist and letterer)frayThis last one was tricky because I had a bunch of great contenders, but once I discounted parts in ongoing series’ (a rule that made compiling this list easier, but one I don’t think I’ll stick to next year) there was one amongst the final choices that stood out. Fray is another graphic novel loaned to me by my friend Scott, and another one set in the Buffy Universe, but far in the future after magic has left the world and Slayers aren’t even a blip on history’s radar. To me this felt almost like a Buffy reboot as it had some of the great elements of early episodes of Buffy when she was training and coming to grips with her destiny. The difference between Fray and early Buffy though is firstly it is set in a very different time and place complete with amazing futuristic scenery and interesting slang, and secondly Melaka Fray can already kick some arse as she is a sort-of cat burglar by trade. I really enjoyed the story, but what made it stick out in my mind was the art. Wow. The way Karl Moline and Andy Owens drew and inked the characters and backgrounds were stunning, and the colours by Dave Stewart and Michelle Madsen were glorious, especially Melaka’s multi-coloured hair. This is a big recommendation for Buffy fans but even if you’re not really familiar with the show (cue gasps and a look of horror from the author) this is a great stand-alone.