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Notable Quotable # 117

The old man is… If your principal and your sternest grandparent had a child born on the last day of summer before school starts, and that child grows up in the moment you realise you’ve been caught filching a cookie from the jar. In other words, he exists simply to remind you of all the bad things you’ve ever done, all the things you’ve ever failed at and all the mistakes you will ever make.

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Notable Quotable # 107

The second thing i thought was that I knew everything. Lettie Hempstock’s ocean flowed inside me, and it filled the entire universe, from Egg to Rose. I knew that. I knew what Egg was – where the universe began, to the sound of uncreated voices singing in the void – and i knew where Rose was – the peculiar crinkling of space on space into dimensions that fold like origami and blossom like strange orchids, and which would mark the last good time before the eventual end of everything and the next Big Bang, which would be, I knew now, nothing of the kind.

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, pg. 195-196

neil-gaiman-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-book-cover

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Notable Quotable # 106

I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were. Adult stories never made sense, and they were slow to start. They made me feel like there were secrets, masonic, mythic secrets to adulthood. Why didn’t adults want to read about Narnia, about secret islands and smugglers and dangerous fairies?

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, pg. 71-72neil-gaiman-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-book-cover

Challenge Update: Week 6 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy

Hola my quaint and quirky Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the exciting 6th update of Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy where I don’t actually have anything non-challenge related to share with you O.o

Luckily, I have made a lot of headway in both challenges since my last update, so there’s still heaps to tell you! In fact, some of this update will be a mixture of stuff that happened last week and this week, since I usually post the updates on a Friday and it seems silly to save stuff for the next one when it happened just the other day. From now on I think I will consider the “week” from one update to the next as that makes more sense and makes the whole thing less confusing 🙂

Lets get this ball rolling, shall we?:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeThis week deserves the Mighty Numbered List (now with extra mightyness!) more than ever since a whole lot happened:

  1. As I said in my last update, I finished Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek last Wednesday and it was excellent! Both authors are skilled at short fiction, and I felt connected to the characters and fascinated by the world almost right away. Having never read a book in that format, I found it to be a strange, but interesting experience. When I finished Above it was odd because physically I was in the middle of a book, but I had the feeling I get when finishing a book (sad that I wouldn’t be visiting the world or characters anymore, but satisfied by a well-ended story) and the one when starting a new book (excited to start something new but slightly hesitant to leave the old one behind) simultaneously, but it felt different again because I was still sort of reading the same book! I also loved reading it in the opposite order to Sarah and comparing, and it was such a great story (or stories) that I’d love to pick it up again some day and read in the opposite order.AboveBelow-cover1-300x246
  2. Since I finished Above/Below I asked my mum to choose me a new one out of the bag, and she chose A Clockwork Orange by Anthony BurgessA Clockwork Orange is probably the contender for this challenge that has been on my TBR pile the longest, and I’ve been wanting to read it for even longer, so I was definitely happy with her choice, and as she had read it in her youth she was also excited to have chosen it. I haven’t started it yet as I thought it would be a bit full-on for my lunch break (I have seen the movie so I’ve come prepared!) but I hope to soon.a clockwork orange
  3. As I also said in my last update, I read another story from Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan last week, “The Isles of the Sun” – a haunting tale of a young boy being visited by unearthly, glowing people who communicate with him telepathically the necessary steps he and other children must take to gain the power of flight. Then over the WA Day long weekend I read heaps (it was like two lazy Sundays for the price of one!), including the last two stories from the collection, “Bejazzle” – a weird story which involved a middle-aged man who’s sick of his wife, and his encounter with a gang of strange girls on the train, then a buxom woman who turns out to be much stranger than a careless tryst; and “Significant Dust” – which was partly about a young woman running away from her past after a freak accident, but I think was also about aliens….at least I think it was aliens….it ended and I still wasn’t 100% sure but it was really mysterious and atmospheric and since the other stories also didn’t spell out what the fuck happened by the end, I didn’t mind. Overall I really enjoyed the collection! Margo Lanagan is a freak – which I of course mean as a compliment! – and I now want to read more stories out of her freaky brain 🙂Cracklescape_lg_large
  4. I then asked Sarah if she could pick a new one when she came over for dinner on Monday (I actually asked her to pick preemptively as I was almost finished with the last story of Cracklescape which I finished the next day) and she chose Bleed by Peter M Ball! Since it was the only contender she had read (as she also bought it at Swancon) and she had told me a few times that it was good, we we’re both pleased as punch by the choice 😀 I started it yesterday during my lunch break, and then read a few more chapters that afternoon, and I can tell I’m gonna love it just from the sheer amount of swears and drinking so far 😛 Plus it reminds me of the Downside Ghosts series, which Sarah and I were both obsessed with last year, except the main character in that is a ghost-hunting witch who takes a bunch of drugs and has sexy time with dangerous men, and the main character in Bleed is an ex-cop mixed up in messy Faerie business who drinks heavily and fancies the ladies…but also ones which get her into trouble.Bleed
  5. Lastly, I also read another 2 stories from The Living Dead zombie anthology on Sunday, which starred more non-threatening undead. First “Malthusian’s Zombie” by Jeffrey Ford, where the “zombie” was actually a living person who due to a government experiment was virtually brainless and obeyed every command from the person or persons it had been programmed to listen to, right up to crazy things like “stop aging”. It was one of those stories where at the end I was like “what the hell just happened!?” but I also found it quite touching and a unique take on what a zombie is. The second story I read – “Beautiful Stuff” by Susan Palwick – did have zombies which were risen from the dead, however they were purposefully brought back for just a day at a time to visit loved ones or the like (in the case of this story they were victims of a terrorist attack brought back as a political platform) and the dead were very simple, childlike and attracted to animals, plants and shiny things. It also had it’s touching moments, but also a nice dollop of humor. A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

So, the new, shorter list of contenders is:

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 the world of fantasy:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeOnce again I was way over my quota and shit is getting intense all over the place in these two behemoths!:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending75 pages (3 chapters)

Pages remaining: 197

Brisingr:

Brisingr52 Pages (3 chapters)

Pages remaining: 393

Total:

127 Pages

Pages remaining: 590

Since I’m consistently reading over 100 pages each week, and both books are getting to the pointy-er end, I may as well make my quota at least 100 pages collectively and strive to read at least 50 pages from each per week. I have added this update to the original challenge post 🙂 If I keep to this new quota I will have finished both books in around 6 more weeks 😀

Besides challenge books I also read my last comic/graphic novel pick – Hinterkind: The Waking World Volume 1 by Ian Edginton (writer), Francesco Trifogli (artist), and Greg Tocchini (cover artist)

hinterkind

Which was an excellent post-apocalyptic story where in the aftermath a few human settlements have been established, including one in an overgrown Central Park, while other beings which hid their existence previously have come out of the shadows to reclaim earth. I will definitely be finding the next volume as there was many an “Oooo! Ahhhh! What now??” moment, especially near the end. I also read the second randomly picked comic from my Free Comic Book Day haul – KaBOOM! Summer Blast – which had a bunch of delightful, self-contained stories from popular children’s comics.

KaBoom Summer Blast

I then picked a new comic out of the Jar-O-Choosing which was The Sandman: Overture #2 – Chapter Two by Neil Gaiman (writer), J.H. Williams III (artist), Dave Stewart (colourist), and Todd Klein (letterer)sandmanoverture2

And since I knew I’d read that super fast, I pre-emptively picked another one – The Unwritten: Leviathan (The Unwritten, Volume # 4) by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist, colourist), Vince LockeAl Davison (colourists) and Yuko Shimizu (cover artist)

unwritten 4

And since I picked two, I randomly chose 4 comics from the Free Comic Books – SCAM Crosswords; Grimm Fairy Tales; Spongebob Freestyle Funnies; and Courtney Crumrin

During the week I did indeed read The Sandman: Overture #2 – Chapter Two (which was amazing of course) plus SCAM Crosswords (which was violent fun and even included a crossword on the back with clues related to the comic, but isn’t a series I’m particularly eager to follow-up) and Grimm Fairy Tales (which gave a few teasers of the long-running series, and was much more my style so I reckon I’ll at least find the first volume or something to get a real taste of it 🙂 ).

 I think that’ll do for now, since my week was much less exciting than the last few! Tune in next week (probably Friday) for the next update, and also I’ve started working on a new Collective Nounitude and a new Adventures in Etymology, so expect them soon also 🙂

Until then I’ll leave you with a few fun things:

I came across this video of Neil Patrick Harris and Kelly Ripa inhaling sulfur hexafluoride while browsing YouTube, and even though I’ve seen it before it always makes me giggle (as does pretty much any video where people inhale sulfur hexafluoride or helium, to be honest) so I thought I’d share it with y’all

Then there’s this video from Mental Floss which is actually book-related and very interesting:

And since it’s the 30th Anniversary of one of my fave movies – Freakin’ Ghostbusters you guys! – I thought I’d celebrate with some classic Ghostbusters GIFs:

ghostbusters1

That’s one mad librarian!

Maybe I don't have time for a quick smoke break...

Maybe I don’t have time for a quick smoke break…

Yes you did sirs!

Yes you did sirs!

This Mr. Stay Puft's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!

This Mr. Stay Puft’s okay! He’s a sailor, he’s in New York; we get this guy laid, we won’t have any trouble!

Don't cross the streams!

Don’t cross the streams!

On that note I’ll say goodbye for now. Hope you all have a great weekend (or whatever part of the week it is where you are) especially if you’re watching Ghostbusters 😛

The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome Ladies, Gentlemen and super-intelligent cats who secretly surf the web while their owner is at work, to the 3rd Annual Book Polygamist Awards!

Since 2011 the Awards have been publicly aired on my humble little blog, rather than the bottomless pit of Facebook, or the relative privacy of my book journal, and as long as Book Polygamist sticks around each year I will share my quirky Awards with you, my precious few Bookbaggers 🙂

Like last year and the year before the Awards will be broken up into two categories: the Annual Awards, which are the same each year, and the Special Awards, which change with the calibre of books read and any patterns I notice.

This year, since I read more comics/graphic novels than ever before there will be some Awards specifically for the format i.e. Best Inside Art.

So without further ado I present: The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards!!!

Annual Awards

Shortest Read (Book):

the-amber-amuletThe Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey – approximately 1 hour

Honorable Mentions:

The Tiny Wife by  Andrew Kaufman – approximately 2 hours

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen – 6 days

Longest Read:

Tales of mystery and imaginationTales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe – 1 year, 1 month and 1 day!!!

Honorable Mentions:

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller – 43 weeks, 6 days!!

Kraken by China Miéville – 30 weeks, 3 days!

Most Books/Graphic Novels Read by a Single Author:

Gaiman,_Neil_(2007) Neil Gaiman – 2 books (Anansi Boys and Neverwhere) and 6 Graphic Novels (The Sandman Vol # 1, #2, #3 and # 4; Death: The High Cost of Living; and The Books of Magic)

Honorable Mentions:

Stacia Kane – 5 (Unholy Ghosts; Unholy Magic; City of Ghosts; Sacrificial Magic; Chasing Magic)

Gail Carriger – 5 (Changeless; Blameless; Heartless; Soulless Vol #1; Etiquette and Espionage)

Best “New” Author Award:

Every year I try to discover authors I’ve never read before (in addition to my old favourites and follow-ups to “new” authors from previous years) and then I compile a list of ones I want to read more from, and pick one from the bunch that’s the stand-out. It’s always a tricky process because I find so many great authors that are new to me, but usually I just weigh-up the impact they made on me with the amount of work they have that I can continue on with, plus take into account how new they are to writing, and how unknown they were to me (and sometimes others) before I discovered their work. In the case of the winner for this year I had never heard of them before picking up the first book, and since then their series was one of the highlights of my reading year and has become a bit of an obsession for me and my best friend, Sarah 🙂

stacia kaneStacia Kane (Unholy GhostsUnholy MagicCity of GhostsSacrificial MagicChasing Magic)

Honorable Mentions:

 China Miéville (Kraken)

 Max Brooks (World War Z)

 Jasper Fforde (Shades of Grey)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

house of many waysHouse of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

Honorable Mention:

chasing magicChasing Magic by Stacia Kane

This is a cheeky honorable mention because it’s not actually the end of the series, but at the time of reading it I did think it was the end, and it was a fucking awesome end! Lucky for me and Sarah the next book is due to be published at some point 😀

The Best Start to a Series Award:

shadesofgreyShades of Grey (Shades of Grey Book 1) by Jasper Fforde

Honorable Mentions:

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (writer), Sam Kieth (penciler),Malcolm Jones III (inker), Robbie Busch (colourist), Todd Klein (letterer)

 FreakAngels #1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist)

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:

BookofHumanInsectsThe Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

Honorable Mention:

Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp  (author) and George O’Connor (artist)

The Tick That Off The Bucket List Award:

catch22Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

in 2013 I continued the accidental tradition of reading a book from my Top 10 Classics I Want to Read list – in accidental order and all! – which definitely deserved another award! To continue this tradition I will have to read The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger this year so I better locate it quick smart 😛

The My Brain Hurts But I Love It! Award:

kraken-by-china-mieville-UKKraken by China Miéville

As I said in my Top 10 Books I Read in 2013 list, this book was the literary equivalent of taking a trip and at times the language and sheer craziness of the world hurt my brain, but I loved every second of it! 😛

Honorable Mentions:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Best Cover Art (Book):

the-tiny-wifeThe Tiny Wife by  Andrew Kaufman

Honorable Mentions:

shadesofgreyShades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Neverwhere (1)Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

kraken-by-china-mieville-UKKraken by China Miéville

the-amber-amuletThe Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey

Best Cover Art (Graphic Novel):

willow wonderlandBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow – Wonderland 
by Jeff ParkerChristos N. Gage (writers) Brian Ching (penciler), Jason Gorder (inker),
Michelle Madsen (colourist), David Mack (cover artist), and Joss Whedon (executive producer)

Honorable Mentions:

persepolis coverPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

the unwritten vol 1The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (The Unwritten, Volume # 1) by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist), Chris Chuckry and Jeanne McGee(colourists) and Todd Klein (letterer)

BallPeenHammer_COVER_300rgb(1)Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp  (author) and George O’Connor (artist)

buffy talesBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

Best Inside Art (Graphic Novel):

buffy talesBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

This is a bit of a cop-out as this anthology contains a whole bunch of amazing artists making it the easy choice, but with such diverse art from story to story this was a clear winner. Below is an example of some of my favourite art styles for you to ogle 😛

Buffy tales art

Honorable Mentions:

Zombies Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Jim McCann (writers), David Baldeon (penciller), and Jordi Tarragona (inker)

Star Trek TNG: Hive by Brannon Braga (story) and Joe Corroney (art)

Most Fun Challenge:

comiccompanions-badge

While I set myself some great challenges last year, I had to choose Comic Companions as the best as it led me to read so many amazing comics and graphic novels! This year I’m not continuing this challenge but I’ve decided the graphic novels pile is just as important as the others so I’ve been going through the same process in reading them – when I finish one I pick another from the pile (or rather a random green piece of paper from my book-choosing jar so I don’t have to choose which wonderful graphic novel I want to read next – I’m chance’s bitch instead 🙂 )

Best Book Chosen for Old Books October:

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

guards guardsI haven’t actually finished Guards! Guards! since I’ve been pretty slack with reading this year, and I got distracted with other books and comics at the end of last year, so I’ve been reading this very funny Discworld novel for a while, but every time I do read a bit its highly entertaining! Plus the other book I chose for Old Books October is Brisingr by Christopher Paolini which I have been even more slack with, so this was a no-brainer 😛

Best Graphic Novel Chosen for Old Books October:

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)

sandman4

Best Book Chosen for New Books November:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

shadesofgrey

Best Graphic Novel Chosen for New Books November:

 FreakAngels #1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist)

freak angels vol 1

2013 was a really interesting year for me, both in my reading life and personal/professional life, and I certainly have some good memories from it. I hope all my Bookbaggers also had an excellent year with a bevy of brilliant books (gosh I love alliteration :P) and tons of good memories, and that your 2014 is just as fruitful 🙂

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.

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Notable Quotable # 88

It is as close as the harvest moon in the evening sky, as distant as a dream on wakening; near as a rainbow, and so remote you could walk for ever and never reach it.

Top 10 Books I Read in 2013

1. Catch 22 by Joseph Hellercatch22

This was the first book that came to mind when compiling my top books of the year, firstly because I read it for a decent chunk of the year, from mid-January to mid-November, secondly because it was part of my War & Pages challenge, and thirdly because it really was a memorable and affecting book. If you’ve always wanted to read Catch 22, don’t let my slowpokeishness (yes that’s a word now) deter you – sometimes I just take ages reading a certain book, and it has nothing to do with the quality of writing or my enjoyment of it. I recently lent it to my 17-year-old brother whose been in a bit of a reading rut, and he’s zipped through it in a couple of weeks. Granted, he’s out of high-school now and looking for a job so he has some time on his hands, but if a teenage boy who is somewhat out of practice with regular reading can breeze through it, it is possible 🙂 Recommended to people who like war stories but think they don’t address the absurdity of war enough.

2. Kraken by China Miévillekraken-by-china-mieville-UK

This is another book that I read for ages – from  mid-January again to mid-August, because every time I read a bit it was the literary equivalent of a hallucination and I needed a moment for it to sink in. Not only was it a wonderfully bizarre premise – when a giant, preserved squid inexplicably disappears from the Museum of Natural History the young scientist who preserved it in the first place is thrust into an alternative, hidden facet of London with countless cults, magic-working cops, and terrifying baddies with unfathomable abilities – but Miéville has such a unique writing style with fantastical word combos and evocative metaphors (check out the Notable Quotables from Kraken to see what I mean). This one may not be for everyone, but if like me you enjoy books that are a little different (or a lot different!) and a good brain-twister then give Kraken a go. You cannot resist the Kraken! 😛

3. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaimananansi boys

This was the first Neil Gaiman title I read last year, in March, and as with every Gaiman book I’d read previously (Good Omens; Coraline; Stardust and American Gods) it instantly became my favourite…until the next one 😛 The thing that stood Anansi Boys apart from the others I’d read was it was so funny in a witty, quirky sort of way that I’ve now come to associate with Gaiman, along with his themes of modern mythology, Gods masquerading as everyday people and family relationships. For people who have never read Gaiman, this would be an excellent starting point.

4. World War Z by Max Brooks

world-war-z-book-coverThis was the other book in my War & Pages challenge but that was not the only reason it was a highlight this year. It was, without question the smartest, most realistic, and most chilling zombie book I have ever read, and creepily true to what would likely happen if we were to face a zombie epidemic. On top of that it was a novel that crossed genres in an unexpected way. Yes, it was a zombie book so lumped in with horror and the like, but there were so many moments where it was more like a war-time drama and the zombies just replaced the traditional foes. Also because it was a series of personal accounts that wove together to get the big picture of each stage of the war, it was quite similar to an anthology, but a clever one where all the stories are connected. I would recommend this even to people who aren’t normally fans of the zombie genre, but if the undead interest you this is a must-read!

5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaimanneverwhere

As my comment above with Anansi Boys would suggest, Neverwhere instantly rose to the top of the Neil Gaiman pyramid in my eyes once I started it, and the next one will have to be pretty fantastic to take its place. This book had so many elements that have made Neil Gaiman break into my list of favourite authors in the last few years – humor, heart, glorious descriptions, an immersive world with so many unexpected and interesting details, and a true modern fairytale sort of storyline – but it also reminded me of one of my other top reads of the year, Kraken, in that it was about a hidden London. I would recommend Neverwhere to pretty much anyone with even the slightest interest in urban fantasy, and in fact I have already put my best friend Sarah onto it (she loved it too so huzzah!) and my brother, who read the graphic novel adaptation since I don’t own the book and will likely read the original when he can.

6. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

house of many waysI have talked before about how much I enjoyed the first two books in the Howl/Castle series, and this third and final installment was no different, in fact this would have to be my favourite, which I never expected as Howl’s Moving Castle was so wonderful and the first in the series often outshines the rest. Every moment of this book was a delight, and it quickly became like an old friend that I was happy to see every day after work. While I’m sad that there are no more books in the series I am sure I will find other Diana Wynne Jones books just as magical and I also want to add the Howl/Castle series to my collection so I can revisit them over the years 🙂 I would definitely recommend this for older children, young adults and adults who need a bit of magic and laughter in their life.

7. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

shadesofgreyThis fantastic book I read near the end of the year (over about a week in December, just after the start of my holidays) and in fact, I haven’t even talked about it on here yet, except for  a couple of Notable QuotablesShades of Grey is one of those books that has such a fascinating and odd world (one in which colours are a precious commodity and you are categorised by what area of the colour wheel you can see) that you are instantly drawn in by all the little mysteries and the sheer oddity of things which are perfectly commonplace to the characters. I became so caught up while reading it that it was pretty much all I could talk about, and when I wasn’t reading it (which wasn’t often) my mind was turning things over trying to puzzle them out. It was also one of those books that I wanted to just read, but I was enjoying it so much that I started to ration it so it wouldn’t be over so fast. Luckily, when I got to the end with a multitude of questions, old and new, still buzzing around my head, I saw that it was the first in a trilogy. Unluckily, despite it being published in 2010 the sequel isn’t expected until about 2015 as Jasper Fforde has been writing up a storm in multiple other series. So really that’s a bit of a lucky point too, because even though I have a bit of a wait, there is heaps of his work out there that I can turn to, plus he has a fabulous website with a page dedicated to Shades of Grey. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a sort-of dystopian story which is clever and has a lot of humor.

8. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

the thief of always

Thief of Always was a bit of a backwards step for me, as I have read a fair amount of Barker before, but pretty much all of it was very adult and quite lengthy, while this is a short children’s book complete with illustrations on some pages. Sarah had recommended it to me for years as it was her first trip into the mind of Barker, so when I bought it at an op-shop I put it on my pile, and as fate would have it, it got picked in January of last year. At first it was odd to be reading a Barker book which didn’t instantly disturb me with his unique brand of creepy (mainly gore and violence mixed in with sexual depravity), but despite the PG rating I quickly discovered that this was just as creepy as his other works, just in a different way. This story got to the heart of childhood fear and once I started it was like I was transported back to that time, and imagining myself at the age of the characters if I were in their position. Plus, maybe because it’s a kids book the story was like a twisted fairy tale, which I always love and unlike many Barker novels, it got to have a happy ending. I would recommend this book to kids and young adults as a perfect entrance into the realm of Clive Barker.

9. The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey

the-amber-amulet

It’s probably no surprise that a Craig Silvey book would be on my Top 10 as his two previous novels are at the top of my Top 10 Books of All Time (which may have changed slightly since writing it, but not for the Craig Silvey books :P) but The Amber Amulet was very different. Firstly, it was originally a short story featured in 10 short stories you must read in 2010, a free anthology given out when you bought a book from Get Reading’s “50 Books You Can’t Put Down” campaign. Itthen got turned into a play toured by the Barking Gecko Theatre Company in 2012, then a short film airing at the Sydney Film Festival in 2012 where it won the Crystal Bear for Best Short. It’s 4th incarnation was this lovely little book filled with drawings, clippings and diagrams to make a beautiful hybrid of children’s literature, short adult fiction and graphic novel which pulls at the heart-strings, makes you think and also makes you giggle. I have already passed this on to several people and I would highly recommend it as a starting point to Craig Silvey’s unique storytelling.

10. The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufmanthe-tiny-wife

I read this around the same time as The Amber Amulet (in fact since they’re so short I think I read them both one lazy afternoon) and it made as much of an impact on me, if not more. A fascinating modern fable, The Tiny Wife starts with a bank robbery in which the thief takes one item of sentimental value from each person present rather than a bundle of cash. Following the event all the people he stole from start to experience highly unusual changes to their lives, some positive, some negative and some in a weird place in-between, including a woman who slowly shrinks each day, hence the title. This book left me with an odd mix of emotions as it was partly uplifting, quite horrifying in parts and overall pretty ridiculous but in a surprisingly believable way. I would recommend this to people who loved fairy tales as a kid, but are looking for something a bit more gritty, plus lovers of short but memorable reads.

Well there you have it – the Top 10 Books I Read in 2013 (finally!). The comics/graphic novels list will be up as soon as possible followed by The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards! 😀

I’d love to know the best books you guys read last year too, so share away in the comments, especially if you’ve got a link to your own post, and until next time:

Happy Reading!
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Notable Quotable # 87

All things are divided into the twin forces of order and chaos, forever contending for dominance. Life is something that occurs in the interface, not in the writhing discord of utter chaos, nor in the flatline perfection of pure order, but somewhere in between.

Challenges Update # 20 – Week 9 of War & Pages + Other Bits and Bobs

Good morrow my nifty, nimble Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the 9th update of  War & Pages + other little updates such as how New Books November is going 🙂

war &  pages challenge badge

I had another weekend of reading since it was hot and I’m a pale, ground-dwelling sort of beast which burns at the sight of a few rays making an inside relaxation the best option. I ended up reading a bit from most of my current reads (even Brisingr!) and easily made my quota with Catch 22:

Catch 22:

catch22

52 pages (6 chapters)

World War Z:

world-war-z-book-cover

Finished! :D

Total:

52 pages

There is only a little over 100 pages left so I will be all done with this challenge either at the end of this week or the next, depending on how riveting it gets in the final chapters 🙂

New Books November challenge badge

 I still haven’t finished any current reads so the picked-for-New-Books-November tally is still at zero. While I am getting close, I don’t think I will finish either Catch 22 or Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman by the 15th, since it’s tomorrow, so it looks like I will be doing my just-in-case-random-picks as prophesied in the official challenge rules. I will be seeing my Official jar Chooser, Sarah, on Friday night so I’ll ask her to pick then or Saturday, and will probably also get her to pick ones to replace Catch 22 and Neverwhere in case I finish them right after (highly likely).

In other New Books November news, I also read three more stories from my New Books November mascot – Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales

buffy tales
The first was set in the Wild West with a Navajo Slayer on the hunt for a particular vampire and it was beautifully illustrated in muted sepia tones; the second was set in Germany during World War II with a young Slayer coming to terms with her understanding of evil and who the real monsters are, and had a uniquely unsettling, childlike art style; and the last was set in modern times (my best guess is ’60s-early ’70s judging by the visual clues and the character involved) and was about a Slayer which featured in the show – Nikki Wood, one of the two Slayers Spike killed (the one who he “inherited” his iconic leather jacket from) and the mother of Principal Robin Wood from season  7.

There is only one tale left of the Slayers half of the collection, which follows Melaka Fray, the Slayer from the far future featured in the Graphic Novel, Fray, which I read earlier this year, which I will probably read on the weekend, and then I’ll be onto the Tales of the Vampires half 🙂

Another little bit of news is that I have acquired another Graphic Novel, this time from my local library. I logged into my account on their catalogue the other day to check when my books were due and thought I’d do a quick search to see what other  Neil Gaiman books they hold (since I’m a tad obsessed now :P). What I found was mainly stuff I’ve already borrowed or bought, but I did stumble across The Books of Magic which Neil Gaiman did with artists John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess and Paul Johnson

books of magicI vaguely remember reading one volume of The Books of Magic when I was a kid, around the same time that I read The Sandman volume 3: Dream Country and whilst I don’t remember a thing about it, I do remember that I loved it, so I’m excited to read this collection of volumes 1-4 at some point after New Books November 🙂

Also I have recently joined Pinterest!

Book Polygamist on Pinterest

Not everything is book or reading related obviously but if any of you are interested you can follow one of more of my boards by clicking on the screenshot above or here

I’ve also put a link on my About page and if you don’t have Pinterest you won’t miss out because anything related to books, reading, libraries and the like that I think is especially share-worthy will also be put on the Facebook page

Well, that’s all for now Bookbaggers. Look out for my challenge update next week where I will very probably share my picks for New Books November! But until then:

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Quote from Goodreads

Since I obviously have Neil Gaiman on the mind I thought a quote from American Gods, one of my Top 10 Reads of 2012 was only fitting 🙂 As always if you have other lovely book quotes or pop-culture ones which I can fit books into somehow, let me know in the comments, send me an email at bookpolygamist(at)gmail(dot)com or post on the Facebook page