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

Advertisements
Quote

Notable Quotable # 98

I silently stared out the window, folding the anger up like a handkerchief and tucking it back in the pocket where I’d been keeping it for the last ten years. Most of it still fit. Most of it.

 

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

Welcome my wacky, whimsical Bookbaggers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sending:

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

Pages remaining: 0! 😀

Brisingr:

Brisingr79 Pages (6 chapters)

Pages remaining: 197

Total:

143 Pages

Pages remaining: 197

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

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

cover_tiger_in_the_well

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

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

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

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

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

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

capn jack sparrow farewell

cheshire-goodbye

beatles waving

Challenge Update: Week 8 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy + A Classical Connection

 Namaste my nifty nexus of Bookbaggers!

Welcome to week 8 of Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy which was mostly successful and revealed the first Interesting Book Connection I’ve noticed in a long while 🙂

More about that later, but first:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeSince my last update I have finished one of my under-200 pages books and chose a new one, so this challenge is definitely getting to the pointy-even-more-deserving-of-a-Mighty-Numbered-List-end:

  1. At the start of the week I finished Bleed by Peter M Ball which I enjoyed immensely right to the end. This is an example of paranormal crime fiction that doesn’t dawdle and yet still doesn’t feel unnaturally fast-paced. It was the perfect length to introduce plenty of character back-story in tantalising dribs and drabs while also developing a stand-alone plot that doesn’t get bogged down in the past. This may be because this is Peter M Ball’s second novella set in the same universe with the same main character (the first being Horn which is also in this challenge) or because so far he has been a short-fiction author so he knows how to write succinctly, but to me this was as well-developed (if not more so) than an installment in a regular length novel series. And as I said before, I loved the protagonist – Miriam Aster – a tough ex-cop turned private detective who drinks gin and smokes cigarettes like its going out of style, can hold her own against deadly Fey creatures and gets some killer one-liners! I look forward to reading Horn also when it gets picked, which should be soon considering the contenders are dwindling 😛Bleed
  2. When I was right at the end of Bleed I asked Semi-Official Chooser Sarah to pre-emptively pick me a new book, and for the occasion for some reason we decided to give my finger-less gloves a makeover and dubbed them the Gloves of Choosing! After donning the Gloves of Choosing Sarah picked me a new slip from the meagre pool that’s left and it was I Am Legend by Richard Matheson 😀 I was excited for this one as my mate Scott raved about it, and the list of famous authors praising it on the cover was impressive (for example Stephen King said Richard Matheson was the author who influenced him the most). I’ve read a few chapters so far at lunch or on my commute and it is indeed fantastic. In fact, its early days but I highly suspect it will be in my Top 10 books of 2014, so it was a great choice by Sarah, and a great recommendation by Scott 🙂 i am legend
  3. I have also been “enjoying” A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess a bit on my commute. I say enjoyed in quotations because I think if you truly enjoy this book then you are pretty messed up, but I have been enjoying it as much as a relatively sane person can enjoy a novel where in the first two chapters the main character and his gang have already harassed and assaulted a man and destroyed his books for no reason; robbed a store, attacking the owners liberally in the process and getting a group of older women to be their alibi; brawled ruthlessly with a rival gang; stolen a car from a drive-in and used it to terrorise a couple canoodling in a park and run over various animals; and finally break into a home for fun, raid the fridge, terrify and abuse the couple within, rip up the husband’s manuscript and gang-rape his wife before flitting off into the night again. This said it is wonderfully written and despite being pretty shocking it will also likely be in my Top 10 of the year.a clockwork orange
  4. Usually I round of my Mighty Numbered List by telling you about a story or two i read out of The Living Dead zombie anthology, however last Saturday I threw a birthday party at my place for a good friend and then on Sunday relaxed with Sarah, my bro, and his mate Jess watching some quality DVDs including Tank Girl, so I didn’t have my usually reading-and-housework Sunday. I did read a bit during the week towards challenges, however I never quite got around to The Living Dead, so alas, no zombie stories to speak of in this update 😦 I also have a big weekend planned this week, but hopefully I’ll still find some time before the next update to revisitzombieland 🙂A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

As I said the contenders are dwindling in this challenge, but here’s what’s left:

hornHorn by Peter M Ball

deadly belovedDeadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins

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

Now onto the other challenge which is also getting quite pointy-ended:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeI didn’t read any of either of my giant reads on Sunday, which felt a tad odd to be honest, however I did read a bit during the week and kind sorta made my quota:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending57 pages (2 chapters)

Pages remaining: 64

Brisingr:

Brisingr47 Pages (3 chapters)

Pages remaining: 290

Total:

104 Pages

Pages remaining: 354

Yes, it did irritate me to no end that I got so close to 50 pages with Brisingr but when I got to the end of the chapter last night it was well past my bedtime, and I knew if I chased that illusive 50-page mark I would read the whole next chapter and be too tired in the morning and reading the first few pages of a chapter seems silly just for a number. As you can see I didn’t finish The Sending this time, but if I don’t finish it by the next update it will only be because something really bizarre happened to prevent me – like a fog enveloping the city causing temporary blindness, or I develop a sudden bout of extreme dyslexia so I can’t read the words on the page, or a fire destroys all my current reads in some freak spontaneous combustion event (ouch – even though that last one was pretty ridiculous, it still hurt even imagining it!).

Now onto my Interesting Book Connection! Part of the reason I love being a Book Polygamist is that occasionally there are coincidental parallels between otherwise unconnected books I’m reading – like a character with the same surname, a specific location, certain animals popping up etc. I think the last time it happened was June last year when two books had characters with the same surname (with a slight spelling variation) which I made the next Adventures in Etymology but I have mentioned others here before, and there are plenty more which haven’t been quite interesting enough to point out. This IBC however (Good thing I checked IBC doesn’t stand for anything else too weird…) was too good to pass up as it was not only a connection between two new reads, but between them and the music I’ve been listening to while reading them.

I mentioned last update that when I started A Clockwork Orange was listening to a Britpop station on the radio app, Pandora, because they didn’t have the movie soundtrack which I initially thought would be fitting. However, with all the new slang to get my head around, and the ultra-violence to boot, I found Britpop too distracting and a bit weird when a happy, lovey-dovey song came on while in the book people were being pummeled.

I then started reading I Am Legend which I didn’t want to be distracted from, so I looked for a classical channel and since A Clockwork Orange was still on my mind I searched for one that was all Beethoven (since In the movie the main character, Alex, is a fan of the composer and in an iconic scene Beethoven ninth symphony is used as part of a “treatment”). As I happily listened to Beethoven while reading about vampires, I reached a point in the book when the main character – Robert Neville – says he is listening to Beethoven’s third, seventh and ninth symphonies since he had a love of classical music from a young age.

While this may not be the best coincidence since Beethoven isn’t exactly unknown, I did enjoy the connection and I am guessing it will pop up more and more as I go through both books.

I reckon that’ll do for now Bookbaggers, so I’ll leave you with a few funny things as always 🙂

Firstly is this video I saw the other day (I know I’m behind the eight ball again but I don’t care :P) which features possibly my favourite voice on YouTube – Zefrank1 of True Facts fame:

Then I saw this hilarious collection of GIFs and videos where cats show they’re not as elegant as they would have us believe. It was shared by a Facebook friend this morning but I can’t find it on YouTube so I’ve shared it on the Book Polygamist page:

And since we’re on a bit of a cat theme, I’ll end with this, because dogs are confused by life too:

perplexed cogiboxer confused by limepuppy-eats-a-lime-gifI know that’s two dogs-trying-limes ones in a row but look at them! They’re so cute and confused!

See ya next time for another exciting challenge update, and possible some junk in between, but until then see ya later from me and Tank Girl:

tank girl

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

Bonjour my beauteous, benevolent Bookbaggers!

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

But firstly:

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

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

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

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

i am legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

hornHorn by Peter M Ball

deadly belovedDeadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins

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

Now onto my other exciting challenge:

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

The Sending:

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

Pages remaining: 125

Brisingr:

Brisingr55 Pages (5 chapters)

Pages remaining: 338

Total:

127 Pages

Pages remaining: 463

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

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

Courtney Crumrin

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

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies

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

Until then here’s the random frivolity I promised 😀

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

bunny eating raspberries

Yet still adorable despite its raspberry blood lust 😛

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

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

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

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

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

Ok see ya!

waving doctor

Challenge Update: Week 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 😛

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

Good day my legendary, literary Bookbaggers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

a clockwork orangeA Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

i am legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

horn Horn by Peter M Ball

BleedBleed by Peter M Ball

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

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

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

The Sending:

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

Pages remaining: 441

Brisingr:

Brisingr25 Pages (2 chapters)

Pages remaining: 570

Total:

54 Pages

Pages remaining: 1011

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Ooooo so shiny and new! *drool*

Ooooo so shiny and new! *drool*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swancon books 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

owl gif