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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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