Challenges Update: The Final Weeks of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy

Yellow my youthful, yarely Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the really belated 11th (and probably final) update of Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, in which I tell you the outrageous amount of stuff that has happened since my last update just before semester break that I have been itching to tell you!

I am determined to finally fill you in on the challenges, since in essence I have now polished them both off, however, I don’t want to bore my beloved Bookbaggers, old and new (I was flabbergasted that I gained a few new followers while I have been virtually silent, so thanks and welcome to the Bookbagger newbies 🙂 ) so I will keep it as short as my rambling mind and wandering fingers can manage, utilising the Mighty Numbered List and keeping to challenge-based stuff…mostly 😛

Ok, lets kick off the epic, shall we?

Short and Sweet challenge badgeThe MNL (Mighty Numbered List) will be getting a workout with this update, as in the four six weeks since my last update (jeez I had to check to confirm it had been that long!) I have finished all the remaining books in the challenge, a few of the short stories from my zombie anthology, and have tweaked something related to the challenge:

  1. I started Horn by Peter M Ball the weekend after my last update (along with Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins and The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman) and by the time I fell sick on Wednesday I had read the majority of it. Then from Thursday to Sunday I was at home with nothing to do but drink lots of fluids and feel sorry for myself, so I of course read the shit out of everything and by Friday I had already polished off Horn and Deadly Beloved. Horn was another novella centered around cop-turned-murderer-turned-private-dick Miriam Aster, who I was introduced to in Bleed, and while I didn’t enjoy it as much (perhaps because I read Bleed first or perhaps because I had the order backwards, as while they’re not technically a series Horn was published a year or two before) but it was still a fun, exciting read that gave me some more insight into the character and Ball’s version of the Fey. If he writes more in this world following Aster, I will be a happy chicken 🙂 horn
  2. I had also been reading a lot of Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins before catching the bug, as It was a surprisingly witty and interesting pulpy-noir-style mystery with some funny, smart characterisation (especially the star of the show Ms Tree who takes shit from no one, has a fire-arm ready at all times, is unashamed of her sexuality and won’t shy away from confronting colleagues, lovers and crooks alike) and a solid story that kept me guessing. I actually enjoyed it more than many of the crime books I have read previously, including some which were “proper” crime noir published in the 1940’s, so not bad for a book I picked up at Coles for five bucks! I have since passed it on to my friend Scott, who has read the comic book series it’s based on, so I hope he enjoys it as much as I did 🙂 deadly beloved
  3. Since there was only one book left in the challenge – The Illustrated Eric by Terry Pratchett (writer) and Josh Kirby (artist) – I got stuck into that pretty much right away, and I finished it the next weekend. Being a Discworld novel it was of course hilarious, bursting with strange magics and altered laws of nature, but as this was a special illustrated novella it was also quite fast-paced and Josh Kirby’s colourful, mad-cap illustrations spilled from their usual place on the outside covers and popped up throughout the text or in stunning two-page spreads. After the last two Discworld novels (Pyramids and Guards! Guards!) it was nice to catch-up with the bumbling wizard Rincewind and his menacing walking Luggage, which were the stars of several of the earlier books. I also liked that the usual sinister bureaucracy of the wizards was mostly absent in this instalment, replaced by a sinister bureaucratic King of Hell who has forced his underlings to move away from the fire-and-brimstone style of damnation and onto the method of torture by mind-numbing boredom. eric
  4. Since Eric was the only under-200 pages contender left, when I finished Deadly Beloved I was back to picking from one of my original piles (one of two Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read piles as I already had a couple of Borrowed-From-Others and a library book on the go) so I asked my mum to do the honours and she chose Un Lun Dun by China Miéville 😀 I started it early the following week and have been loving it ever since! Unlike Kraken – which is the only Miéville novel I’ve read previously – Un Lun Dun is YA, so not quite as mind-bending, yet it is full to bursting with Miéville’s highly imaginative creations, enhanced by his quirky, detailed illustrations which are scattered through the text. Before I even reached the half-way point I had already pre-emptively put it on my list of Top 10 Books of 2014, so expect more blabbing on about it in the near future!ChinaMieville-UnLunDun
  5. Then when I finished Eric I picked another book from one of the Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile – one with books I’ve been meaning to read for ages, since Un Lun Dun came from the newer acquisitions pile – which was Dead in the Family (Book 10 of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood/Southern Vampire Mysteries series) by Charlaine Harris! I was pleased about the choice because I read the last book way back in 2012 and even though I have heard from fans that the latter books have lost their glow a little, I enjoyed Book 9 and either way I am determined to finish the series now I’m so close! So far I am about half-way through and I am enjoying it still – they aren’t the highest form of literature, but Charlaine Harris can weave an interesting supernatural tale with plenty of funny bits as well as some mystery, which occasionally is all I want (especially after reading A Clockwork Orange and I Am Legend recently)$2 plus $6.95 p&h!!! Gotta love eBay :)
  6. Finally, since the last update I have read 3 more stories out of the The Living Dead zombie anthology: “In Beauty, Like the Night” by Norman Partridge, which was about a media mogul similar to Hugh Hefner who hides away on his private island when the zombie plague hits, obsessively watching the zombified girls from his calendar shoot which became stranded/infected on the island; “Prairie” by Brian Evenson, which was only 4 pages long but was a really disturbing and unsettling tale of an expedition across the prairie during a zombie infection; and “Everything is Better With Zombies” by Hannah Wolf Bowen, which didn’t feature actual zombies, but was a touching story of friendship between a girl and a boy approaching adolescence and their game of chasing imagined zombies through the local cemetery. I read the last one the weekend before last and then I haven’t dived back into zombies since because I’ve been so caught up with my other reads, but I may read a story or two this weekendA bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?
  7. Lastly, I realised when approaching the end of the challenge that I didn’t have any more books under 200 pages to contribute, but I did have a fair amount of short story collections in various piles, so I’ve decided to make a completely new pile and when I finish The Living Dead I’ll pick a new collection 🙂 This means the Short and Sweet challenge still has some life in it, but it will be more like my Comic Companions challenge of last year, so won’t be updated once a week. Since I don’t want this post to be too epically long and boring I won’t list all the collections in the pile, but will save that for its own post sometime before I finish The Living Dead

Now onto the other challenge which also had major action:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeWhile I was sick and during my holidays I got fully sucked into the end of Brisingr leading to this happy result:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending0 Pages – Finished 😀

Pages remaining: 0

Brisingr:

Brisingr197 Pages
(67 pages one week; the remaining 128 the next)

Pages remaining: 0! 😀

Total:

197 Pages

Pages remaining: 0

I now know why my bro was so insistent I read this book as Paolini’s skill as a writer has improved immensely from the first book – and even from the second – and I found myself hunched in my seat gripping the book, eyes wide, while gasps and yes, even tears burst forth from me inexplicably at various points. I know that if I hadn’t done this challenge I likely would’ve been even slower with this huge fantasy epic (as it was I still had it on the go for over 8 months!) so I am very happy I challenged myself.

I was then finally able to pick a new book from the Borrowed-From-Others pile and I picked one that I borrowed from Sarah a while back and have been wanting to read ever since she told me about it – Black Feathers by Joseph D’Lacey. I started it around the same time as Un Lun Dun and I have been loving it just as much. In fact it also got pre-emptively added to the Top 10 Books of 2014 list before I was even half-way, so I really have some great books on the go at the moment 😀

BlackFeathers

I think I’ll leave it there Bookbaggers so I can finally post this really belated update! I also read a few comics, but I’ll save that for another post and leave you with a few words.

Like many of you, this week I have been trying to come to terms with the shocking death of Robin Williams. As I’m 27, Robin was a pivotal figure in memorable films from my childhood, such as Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji, Hook, Patch Adams, and Aladdin and it has been hard even fathoming that he is no longer in this world. I have tried to stay positive (as I usually try to do in most situations anyway) and think that at least where ever he may be he is no longer suffering and perhaps his death helped others contemplating suicide or suffering silently from depression.

This is not a cheery way to end the long-awaited update, but I couldn’t put something up this week without saying something and sharing with you a video which not only shows Robin’s talent, but pays tribute to him in a positive way:

Robin – we never have had a friend like you before and probably never will again. You will be truly missed by a big percentage of the world, and I hope that you are at peace.

On that note its goodbye for now Bookbaggers – until next time:

genie and carpet

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Epic Challenge Update Coming Soon!

Oh hello there my outstanding, offbeat Bookbaggers!

Apologies for the long-time-no-see. As I said in my last update, It was mid-semester break at work so for one week I was at a different campus and then the second week I had off, so I wasn’t sure If I would have the time or energy to blog. As it turns out, my week at the other campus started off pretty chill, so I was positive that I would have enough energy to do the update on Friday. That was until Wednesday morning when I woke up with the beginnings of a virus which I probably picked up from a workmate who was coughing and sneezing all over the place (one I had managed to avoid during a previous outbreak as he is based at the other campus). I still went in, but by the afternoon the bug had me so I took the last two days off and determinedly recuperated over the weekend so that my week off was in tact!

I then had a pretty packed week off with two long appointments at the keep-your-mouth-open-forever-while-we-fill-all-your-teeth-with-crap-and-shine-this-light-in-your-face office (also known as the dentist) and some catch-ups with friends, so I still didn’t have time to blog, and then the first week back to work was hectic, so by Friday I was too tired to do a long update post.

However, just because I’ve been absent doesn’t mean nothing happened, in fact because I was sick I read like a mad person (do mad people read a lot? I consider myself fairly mad and some of my friends and family are a touch mad and mainly bookworms, but I don’t think that’s sufficient research to form a definitive answer 😛 ) and so I actually have a big exciting update for you when I get to it!

Hopefully this week is less hectic and I can post the update on Friday like normal, but until then here’s a representation of how the past few weeks has left me feeling, told through one of my favourite mediums – Gifs:

GIF_FinnDazed

dog falling asleep

dog falling asleep2

tired sloth

And this derpy cat for good measure 😛 :

derpy cat

Challenges update #9 – the joys of being on holiday with a useless arm

Hello sorely missed Bookbaggers – long time no….well anything, to be honest.

As those of you who follow my random ramblings (that’s a bit of a tongue twister) may have noticed I have been completely absent for over a month now, since my last update. The first two weeks can be explained away pretty easily. As I said in the last post I was on holiday during the semester break and would probably be luxuriating and neglecting my blogger duties. The rest of the time? Well lets just say that’s less because of choice, lazyness and the joy of relaxing and more because of a continuing shoulder issue which makes typing not so fun, a very hectic first couple of weeks back at work, and another attack from some sort of plague flu.

But! I am back and (somewhat) well so I thought I should let you know I wasn’t dead and that I haven’t abandoned books and blogging 🙂

I’ll start of with a bit of a recap of my holiday and challenge-related news:

My holiday was nice of course, but did feel more like I was on sick leave than a well-earned break. This was because I finally had time to really look into what the fark was wrong with my shoulder, which had already been hurting for a couple of weeks, and resulted in an obscene amount of time and money spent going to doctors appointments, getting an x-ray and ultrasound and being pummeled by a Physiotherapist a few times a week. As a result I couldn’t do much, but what I could do was luckily my idea of a fun holiday – namely watching TV/DVDs, catching up with friends more regularly (*GASP* on week nights!) and of course reading 🙂

comiccompanions-badge

Firstly I finished the final few stories in the graphic adaptation of Poe I had started when you last heard from me:

nevermore

Nevermore by Edgar Allan Poe , Ian EdgintonJamie DelanoJohn Reppion, and Leah Moore (writers) and D’IsraeliJames (Jim) FletcherJohn McCreaShane Oakley and Steve Pugh (artists).

The final 6 tales (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 finished off will a short biography of Poe) were so good that I finished them in one sitting on the first night of my holidays.

Jar-full-o-books-june-july

As most of my books were still in their early-ish stages I didn’t manage to finish any over the break, however I did start a new one just for shits and giggles (and because I was bursting to read it and then pass it on to Sarah who is also hooked :P):

sacrificialmagic

Sacrificial MagicBook 4 in the Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane 🙂 It wasn’t quite as engrossing from day dot like the last one, but it was still exciting and addictive and I finished it just the other day.

Since I cheated and started a book without picking from the jar, I thought it only fair to pick a Comic Companion through proper channels so I got my lovely assistant Sarah to pick a green slip out of the Jar which was:

beatles graphic

The Beatles Graphic by Hervé Bourhis 😀 I was very pleased with that choosing as it sounded and looked just brill, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! It was fabulous holiday reading and I was practically glued to the pages for three days reading all kinds of facts about one of my favourite bands (many which I didn’t know since they had sadly come and gone before my time) written and illustrated by a lifelong fan who gave his own unique perspective to the phenomena, especially from a European point-of-view (as he’s french) and wrote short reviews for each and every album/single release! Look out for my mini review in a Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination in the future 😉

Now, as you probably have noticed it’s not longer June/July, so my Jar Full ‘O Books June/July Challenge should be kaput now right? Well, I’ve picked 6 books/graphic novels from the jar over that time which is ok, but there is still a whole lot in there (at least 30) and I have enjoyed it so much that I made an executive decision:

Jar-full-o-books-june-july-august

That’s right Bookbaggers/lovers of crazy-choosing-out-of-a-jar-shenanigans! I have extended the challenge for another month, again just for shits and giggles 🙂 Sarah will be pleased to know her jar choosing duties have not been made redundant just yet 😛 And since I am a fickle beast, don’t be shocked if come September I extend it even more because that’s just how I roll!

That’s it for now – I promise I won’t disappear into the wide blue yonder again anytime soon, however thanks to my slowly recovering shoulder I may be posting a little less often – especially in the arena of longer posts.

Until then I bid you all:

Happy Reading!

P.S. I’m getting a bit sick of my sign off, especially as it is used by other book bloggers which makes me feel like a rotten copy-cat. I will be brain-storming a new one but until then I welcome any strange or funny suggestions in the comments or if you’re shy shoot me an email at bookpolygamist(at)gmail(dot)com 🙂