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 

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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:

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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

Challenges Update # 19 – Week 8 of War & Pages + New Books Approacheth!

Greetings my scintillating, scallywag Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the 8th update of  War & Pages + news on the state of New Books November one week in 🙂

war &  pages challenge badgeDespite being really lazy with reading Catch 22 during the week I managed to read some Sunday morning and coincidentally ended a chapter at the perfect place to fulfill my quota:

Catch 22:

catch22

50 pages (4 chapters)

World War Z:

world-war-z-book-cover

Finished! :D

Total:

50 pages

How perfect is that?! I’ve also been really slack this week (mainly because Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is getting even better and has usurped all my other reads) but will likely read my 50 or so pages on Sunday again.

New Books November challenge badgeNew Books November has been up and running for almost a week now, and while I haven’t finished any books and replaced them with New Books November contenders, I am very close! As I said above I have been loving Neverwhere and am a few chapters away from finishing, and Catch 22 has 160 pages left, so if I keep on target two weeks after the end of this one I’ll be finished 🙂

I’m not sure if I’ll finish either before the 15th, but if not that just means I get to do a random pick out of all the piles and then when I do finish I can choose more 😀 Doesn’t sound too shabby to me!

This week I also started my New Books November mascot – Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan (writers), Tim Sale,Doug Petrie, Leinil Francis Yu, Gene Colan and others (artists)

buffy talesI read the prologue story which was about the first slayer, and then the next three slayer stories: one set in medieval times with a slayer who gets accused of witchcraft; one set during the French Revolution with a slayer who is tricked into killing a mortal man; and one set in an Austen-esque world of balls and manners in which the slayer has to masquerade as an eligible gentlemen.

All the stories were excellent, with different art and lettering fitting the setting, and I enjoyed them all very much 🙂 I will likely read a few more this weekend.

In other news I was naughty and bought more comics last Friday 😛

It started because the first issue of The Sandman: Overture, a 25th Anniversary Sandman origin story, was out which I have been excited about since I first heard word of it, and then once I’m in a comic store I’m bound to find something else I like…and we went to two…

Comic book haul - Quality and Red Griffin

The Sandman: Overture #1 – Chapter One by Neil Gaiman (writer), J.H. Williams III (artist), Dave Stewart (colourist), and Todd Klein (letterer);
Ghostbusters: The New Ghostbusters #1 – Volume 5 by Erik Burnham (writer, artist), Dan Schoening (artist, cover), Andrew Harmon (colourist), and Luis Antonio Delgado (colourist, cover);
Sky Doll: Space Ship #1 by Alessandro Barbucci, Barbara Canepa (writers), Pierre-Mony Chan, and Matteo De Longis (artists);
Zombies Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Jim McCann (writers), David Baldeon (penciller), and Jordi Tarragona (inker)

I got The Sandman: Overture and The New Ghostbusters from Quality Comics and I got Sky Doll and Zombies Christmas Carol (which were 15 and 17 bucks respectively thanks to a Halloween sale!) from Red Griffin Games

Also yesterday I went into the city after work and got a couple more from another local comic place, Comiczone:

Comics ComiczoneThe Witching Hour is by a host of artists and writers since it’s a horror anthology (follow the title link to see the whole gang :)) and Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’ Stardust is by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess surprisingly enough, and is more an illustrated novel than a traditional graphic novel.

All of these will have to wait until New Books November is finished, but I certainly won’t have a lack of graphic novels and comics!

That’s all for now Bookbaggers 🙂 Keep a look out for little bit and bobs and next week’s update, but until then:

Ray, when someone asks you if you want a book, you say “YES”!

😛 Since I bought the New Ghostbusters graphic novel I thought it fitting to adapt a quote from one of my fave movies – Ghostbusters 🙂 As always if you have other book-related quotes or pop-culture ones which I can bookify, share away in the comments, send me an email at bookpolygamist(at)gmail(dot)com or post on the Facebook page 🙂