Challenge Update: Week 4 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy + Some More Comedy (and not just from yours truly!)

Why hello there my stochastic, sagacious Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the 4th update of my personal reading challenges, Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, and a darn good update it is, if I do say so myself!

Lets start off as usual with:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeNot much happened in this challenge (it’s the other one which warranted the darn good statement) but I’ll do a mini mighty numbered list anyway:

  1. I’ve been reading Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek quite a bit on my lunch break and commute, and I am a couple of chapters away from finishing Above and flipping the book upside down to start Below. I’m really enjoying it so far and Sarah and I have had a couple of convos comparing the difference between starting on one side or the other – for example with her starting with Below she was introduced to that story’s main character right away and so got used to his appearance (especially his…lets just say “enhancements” to keep it vague and spoiler free, shall we?), but I just reached the part where the main character from Above meets the one from Below, so I found his appearance quite shocking. AboveBelow-cover1-300x246
  2. I still haven’t read any more of Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan as I don’t want to get stuck into a really good short story on the bus or during lunch, and then have to leave it part-way through, but I hope to read one or two this weekendCracklescape_lg_large
  3. Lastly, on Sunday I read another story from The Living Dead zombie anthology – “The Third Dead Body” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, which was even creepier than the last one I read (which I didn’t think was possible). It followed a young prostitute who was murdered by a trick (do people still say “trick” when referring to the customer of a prostitute, or am I behind the times?) and then rises from the dead, inexplicably in love with her murderer and determined to find him due to a Voodoo curse placed on her as a child. Besides being very skin-crawly it was an interesting one because unlike most zombie stories, it was from the point of view of the living dead, and besides having no earthly urges (besides the ones created by her curse which compelled her to find the murderer) and limited senses, she was conscious of her surroundings and had memories of her life.A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

As I haven’t found any new books under 200 pages, the contenders remain the same:

a clockwork orangeClockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

i am legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

hornHorn by Peter M Ball

BleedBleed 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 was really successful last week:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeOn Sunday I had my usual schedule of reading interspersed with “important” stuff like laundry and dishes, but instead of just reading a little of my two gigantic fantasy tomes, I got caught up and a tad carried away:

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending70 pages (3 chapters)

Pages remaining: 344

Brisingr:

Brisingr52 Pages (5 chapters)

Pages remaining: 476

Total:

122 Pages (squee!)

Pages remaining: 820

Soooo… I definitely reached my quota…and made up for the week of nothing….and then some O.O I honestly didn’t mean to read as much as I did of either of these books, but they’re both getting so exciting that when I reached the end of the chapter I thought “oh I’ll just do one more and then wash the dishes”… and then I came back to it after the dishes anyway 😛

Besides being engrossed in huge fantasy books and a zombie prostitute story, I also read FreakAngels #2 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist), which has been sitting on my pile looking sad since the end of my breakFreakAngels Warren Ellis Glénat 04 (5)It was as awesome as I expected from the first volume, and even more so because a previously unnamed member of the group was introduced, and she is a hilarious ball-busting no-nonsense sort of chick, which I love, and another character revealed a new ability she had been practicing, which was very cool. I’ll have to track down the other volumes of this series, or maybe just succumb to temptation and start reading the free online version, even though I will likely also buy the hard copies for my burgeoning comic collection 🙂

I then asked my mum to pick me a new comic from the Jar-Of-Choosing (she’s starting to become a more official unofficial Jar Chooser then unofficial Jar Chooser Sarah!) which was one of my new exciting ones:

hinterkindHinterkind: The Waking World Volume 1 by Ian Edginton (writer), Francesco Trifogli (artist), and Greg Tocchini (cover artist). I also randomly picked two comics out of my 20-odd wodge of Free Comic Book Day comics – Worlds of Aspen 2014, which has two previews of upcoming stories in it – a fairy-tale adventure series called Damsels in Excess on one side and an action-adventure called The ZooHunters on the flip side; and KaBOOM! Summer Blast which has stories from Peanuts, Garfield, Adventure Time, and  Regular Show among others.

I haven’t started any of them yet,but since this weekend is meant to be a rainy one, I will probably find myself holed up inside with a blanket and all my delicious reads….mmmmm 🙂

Besides challenge stuff I also went to another comedy gig on Friday night – Michael Workman‘s show “War”, again part of the Perth International Comedy Festival

Michal Workman's tour poster for "War" from wendylikesstories.com click on the image to read her excellent review of the show, as well as one of David O'Doherty's

Michal Workman’s tour poster for “War” from wendylikesstories.com click on the image to read her excellent review of the show, as well as one of David O’Doherty’s

I had previously only seen one show of his – “Mercy” – on Warehouse Comedy, a show that has featured many Australian and international comedians performing in a converted warehouse, but it was so interesting, unique and affecting that I’ve watched it three times – and every time I saw it was to be repeated I was excited to revisit Michael Workman’s amazing story-telling and quirky style. Sarah had never heard of Michael Workman nor seen any of his comedy, but after watching a video teaser of “Mercy” she agreed to go with me, and we had a wonderful time 🙂

On that note I’m off for now Bookbaggers, but I may as well leave you with that same teaser Sarah watched:

Tune in next week for another, hopefully just as successful update, and until then:

so long and thanks for all the fish

 

And since it’s World Turtle Day here’s this little guy as a bonus:

baby turtle gif

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Challenge Update: A Successful Week 3 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy!

Greetings and salutations my dapper, debonair Bookbaggers!

As I had a relatively low-key weekend, I have a much more successful update on my new challenges, Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, completely devoid of random bragging about my exciting life (snort):

Short and Sweet challenge badge

As I said in my last update, I finished one of my short reads last week, so I have picked a new one and I also have two new contenders, once again brought to you by the might of a numbered list:

  1. I finished No Nice Girl by Perry Lindsay, which was a great commuting read and helped with the whole rut-breaking thing beautifullyno nice girl
  2.  To replace No Nice Girl I asked my lovely mum to pick again, so I wouldn’t be tempted to cheat, and she picked Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben PeekI was quite pleased with this choice, as Sarah recently read her copy and said it was great, and I thought the whole concept of the book (two stories published on the flip sides of one book, telling different perspectives of the one narrative, which can be read in either order) was really interesting. Since Sarah started with Below I decided to start with Above so we could compare. I’ve only read a few chapters so far, but it already has me hooked in and wanting to learn more about the world.AboveBelow-cover1-300x246
  3. On Thursday I went grocery shopping at my local Coles and came across a wonderfully terrible/excellent cover in the tiny book section – a little pulpy crime book called Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins, with a lingerie-and-trench-coat-clad, pistol-wielding dame on the front. Perhaps with No Nice Girl still fresh in my mind, I gave in to my curiosity and read the start of the blurb, and by that point I was a goner. This is a short snippet:

    Marcy Addwater killed her husband – there’s no question about that. Shot him dead in the motel room where he was trysting with a blonde hooker. Shot the hooker, too. But where the cops might see an open-and-shut case, private eye Michael Tree – Ms Michael Tree – sees a conspiracy. For Ms. Tree (ah get it? – Ms. Tree XD) digging into it could mean digging her own grave…and digging up her own murdered husband’s.

    Add it the fact that it’s based on a comic book series and was a mere $5, I couldn’t resist and since it’s 192 pages long it is a new contender in the challenge 😛deadly beloved

  4. On Friday I went to pick up my very exciting Terry Pratchett book which I told you all about last time. It looked even better once I could flip through it, and as chance would have it is also part of the under-200 pages club so has been added to the challenge 🙂eric
  5.  Lastly, on Sunday I read a story from The Living Dead zombie anthology called ‘Blossom’ by David J Schow, which was a very short, but very creepy story where some S&M foreplay goes awry….and since this is a zombie anthology you can probably guess where that leads….trust me, it’s even creepier than what you’re thinking.A bunch of different zombie stories by different authors? What's not to love?

Here’s the updated list of Short and Sweet contenders:

a clockwork orangeClockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

i am legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

hornHorn by Peter M Ball

BleedBleed by Peter M Ball

deadly beloved

Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins

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

I also had success with my other challenge:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badge

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending22 pages (1 chapter)

Pages remaining: 419

Brisingr:

Brisingr38 Pages (2 chapters)

Pages remaining: 532

Total:

60 Pages

Pages remaining: 951

It didn’t quite make up for last week, but I’m under 1000 pages now and both books are getting really interesting, so I have high hopes for this challenge 🙂

Besides that not a lot happened last week….so here’s a few fun things to make this post more exciting 😛

Firstly this video since my bro and I were talking about the other day:

I used to have this on my MySpace page you guys! Back when MySpace was actually cool and Facebook was just a book made of faces or something weird (not sure if a book made of faces is less weird than Facebook however). I likely also had a bad early ’00 song that automatically played in the background of my MySpace and made it take forever to load…and I was probably using dial-up to access it. Man, I hope most of you even knew what I was talking about then or else I’m going to feel pre-maturely old O.O

Next a couple of gifs from Orphan Black, which is my current obsession in TV-land:

baaaaaaa

felix

And lastly a video from the Arctic Monkeys concert I went to @ Perth Arena on Tuesday night (not one I filmed – I was much further away) of my favourite song off their new album, and the song they closed an epic set with:

It’s a bit wobbly and you can hear the fans singing along as clear, if not clearer than, the band, but I kind of like that – it shows the excitement and energy in the room that night better than if it had perfect picture and sound, you know?

That’ll do for now Bookbaggers, but I’ll catch ya next week when I do my next update, and there may be some other bits and bobs in the works too.

Until then:

good-night-apocalypse

Challenge Update – Failed Week 2 of Short and Sweet & 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy + a Winning Weekend

Why hello there my jaunty, jocular Bookbaggers!

Welcome to what I have laughingly called the second update of my new challenges, Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, despite the fact that last week was a bit of a fail challenge-wise.

As it was my first week back to work after term break, as well as my first week on a diet/exercise plan, it wasn’t a huge surprise that I had barely enough time over the week to complete my challenge goals. Add in planning for my boss’ birthday lunch last week, and her going away party this week, and a wonderfully fun weekend including seeing a comedy gig on Friday night and celebrating my friend Scott’s birthday on the Saturday and Sunday and it’s no wonder that my challenge results were lame:

Short and Sweet challenge badgeI didn’t read any more stories from either Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan or The Living Dead zombie anthology, but I have been reading No Nice Girl by Perry Lindsay a lot to and from work, and in fact I finished it yesterday morning.no nice girlIt wasn’t a life-changing book, or as amazing as High-rise, but its charmingly cheeky, late 1940’s humor made it a fun commute book, and by the end I was surprisingly invested in the characters and longed to know what would happen next. Even though last week had almost no action in this challenge, on the flip-side there wasn’t definite inaction either and I have picked a new book to replace No Nice Girl which I can tell you about in my next update 🙂

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badgeThis challenge was more actively inactive…

The Sending:

Maruman on the cover of The Sending0 pages (0 chapters)

Pages remaining: 441

Brisingr:

Brisingr0 Pages (0 chapters)

Pages remaining: 570

Total:

0 Pages

Pages remaining: 1011

Not a great result so early in the challenge, but as there were good reasons behind my lack of reading, rather than just laziness, I’m not going to beat myself up about it, and as I have a much less eventful weekend planned this week I hope to make amends 🙂

Now onto the much more exciting update of my weekend!

It all kicked off on the Friday, when Sarah and I had tickets to see Felicity Ward’s show, “Iceberg” as part of the Perth International Comedy Festival!

Image from laughingstock.com.au

Image from laughingstock.com.au

It was absolutely hilarious – even more funny than Sarah and I were expecting (we had only seen/heard her on TV and podcasts, never live before) and like any really good stand-up show it also was quite poignant and revolved around a central concept. If this wasn’t enough Felicity announced at the end of the show that she would be selling DVDs of a previous show – The Hedgehog Dilemma – outside for $10! Sarah and I obviously stayed behind to grab one each and were surprised to see that Felicity had set up a modest little selling area (pretty much a little table with DVDs on that she stood next too) and was happily signing DVDs and chatting to people. When we got to the front we had a nice little chat too and left a little stunned that someone who was so amazing on stage was also a really nice, down-to-earth and humble person.

Saturday the fun continued as Sarah and I journeyed into the city centre to celebrate Scott’s birthday and participate in Free Comic Book Day! While Scott is a regular Free Comic Book Day goer, Sarah and I had heard about it (and of course last year Scott kindly picked me up a few comics) but never organised ourselves enough to check it out. Since the event always falls on the first Saturday in May, and this year that’s the weekend before Scott’s Very Important Birthday (I won’t say what number makes it Very Important so he can remain mysterious to all you other Bookbaggers 😉 ) so it seemed a perfect way to kick off celebrations.

Staring from 10ish (AKA Sean Connery at Wimbleton time) we traveled around to four comic book stores in Perth – starting with Comiczone of course, where we got the majority of our free loot, and Sarah and Scott purchased additional bounty; then to the newest of the bunch, Perth Comic Centre (which were hosting the event for the first time and looked quite shocked/pleased by the flood of people going through their tiny shop) where Sarah gasped with joy at the free copy of The Tick which we had not seen at Comiczone; then to Quality Comics where we nabbed a couple more freebies; and lastly Red Griffin Games where I bought a Dr Seuss bag to carry my growing load of comics, plus The Sandman Vol. 5: A Game of You.

Then feeling slightly foot-sore and over-excited by the sheer volume of free (FREE!) comics we had acquired, lunch was on the horizon, so we ventured down Shafto Lane (a hidden-gem alleyway in the Perth metro with a Irish pub, eateries and shops) in pursuit of Japanese. Unfortunately when we approached the large Taka’s Kitchen we encountered closed doors with a sign proclaiming they’d had to close due to a problem with their gas. Unperturbed we decided that we’d eat at one of many other Japanese places nearby, but before we left Scott suggested we browse the neighboring bookstore, Stefan’s Books. Now, Sarah and I had vowed beforehand that we would be partaking only in free comics and would save our cash for lunch and dinner…yes, we may have already broken that vow by buying a few comics but as Sarah’s were both Tank Girl they didn’t count (Tank Girl being as important, if not more than food) and my carry bag and new Sandman were also vitally important, so we felt we could safely enter a bookshop without being tempted.

We were wrong. Within moments of entering the store Sarah spotted a tantalising shelf of Clive Barker, including the second omnibus of Books of Blood (containing volumes 4-6) which she had been looking for since she found the first set in an op-shop maybe 10 years ago. As I had also read, and loved, volume 1-3 we both stood and stared at the book, almost openly salivating, but managed to avert our eyes and peruse the rest of the books. Then the shopkeeper (Stefan himself) tempted us further by producing a hard cover volume of re-imagined Grimm’s Faerie Tales featuring prominent authors such as Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris (these being the two I especially went “Ooooooo!” over) which he accidentally got instead of paperbacks so was selling at a paperback price!

At this point Sarah and I gave in and I suggested to her that if she got Books of Blood I’d get the faerie tales and we could loan them to each other. That was the only crumb of convincing we needed, so we headed to the counter where I noticed a beautiful display of the new hardcover Discworld books. Since I am now up to Eric I pulled that one out to take a look (just a look!) which prompted Stefan to tell me about an even more exciting volume he had – a single copy he had found in a supplier warehouse of the rare first illustrated hardcover edition (all of those words fill me with glee). I was doomed from the moment he said there was only one copy, as I’m a sucker for lonely, abandoned goods and one look at the illustrations by Josh Kirby throughout, and I was doomed. I couldn’t justify buying it that day however, but Stefan is holding it for me until Friday 🙂

eric

This is the kind of art found inside - just stunning

This is the kind of art found inside – just stunning

We then had Japanese at a little place down the road before heading off to Scott’s neck of the woods to examine our haul of comics and watch some comic-themed DVDs, detouring on the way to buy additional beverages and for Scott to show us the awesome owl sculpture in front of his local library. Once we got back to Scott’s and unburdened, Sarah and I gave Scott his birthday presents and then we looked through our free comics (we each got around 20!) and chatted about our fabulous day.

free comic book day collage

My haul spread out, plus the official Free Comic Book Day poster which Scott made into badges for us all, my Dr Seuss bag that managed to handle a crazy amount of comics and books, and the fantastic owl sculpture

For the viewing part of the birthday celebration day we started with the newest Simpsons episode, which was about movie piracy and very funny; followed by two episodes of the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which featured the 11th Doctor played by Matt Smith; then a documentary about the development of comics from the 1930’s-’80s called Comic Book Confidential; then an epic two-part animated Batman movie, The Dark Knight Returns which sees Batman come out of retirement to clean up Gotham and generally be badass; and lastly another two-ep arc of The Sarah Jane Adventures featuring David Tennant, the 10th Doctor.

movie collageOur amazing weekend continued the next day when Scott surprised Sarah and I with gifts (just comics and DVDs he didn’t want/need anymore, but still – it’s his birthday!) and then we got ready and headed off to have a big breakfast-for-lunch of pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns with maple syrup and iced-coffees (aw man my nutritionist is not going to be pleased with my weekend eats! I get a free day but I may have dragged it out over two :P).

As the bought books in the top row are outnumbered by the gifted ones below, and definitely by the load of free ones, they don't count as spending money....that's what I keep telling myself anyway :P

As the bought books in the top row are outnumbered by the gifted ones below, and definitely by the load of free ones, they don’t count as spending money….that’s what I keep telling myself anyway 😛

From the top my new goodies are: Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome by various; The Sandman Vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman (writer), Shawn McManus, Colleen Doran, Bryan Talbot, Dick Giordano, George Pratt, Stan Woch (artists), Daniel Vozzo (colourist), and Todd Klein (letterer); Morning Glories Vol. 1: For a Better Future by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (artist), and Rodin Esquejo (cover artist); iZombie Vol. 1: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson (writer), Mike Allred (artist), and Laura Allred (colourist); and last but not least, Hoax Hunters Book 1: Murder, Death, and the Devil by Michael Moreci, Steve Seeley (writers) JM Ringuet, Axel Medellin Machain, and Emilio Laiso (artists).

Overall it was a fantastic weekend, and I hope that Scott had a wonderful time too – he deserves it 🙂

That’ll be it for now Bookbaggers, but hopefully next week I will have a more prosperous challenge update for you!

Until then here’s some animals waving:

whale

bear

  Mike 

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

The Long and the Short of It – New Challenges to Beat the Rut!

Hello my effulgent, ethereal Bookbaggers!

Recently I divulged a deep dark secret to you all about my book polygamy – books and I are (or were) in a rut and it was going to take some work to pull out of it. I also gave you a teaser about a possible challenge (or as it turns out challenges!) which I hoped would facilitate healing the rift a little. Perhaps just talking about the rut helped because that afternoon I finished the last story in Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody and it was so good and left me with such hope for my bookish relationship that I jumped right into a challenge before I had even worked out the rules!

In all fairness, I have been mulling over (*cough*procrastinating*cough*) two possible challenges for a while, one which would help me get back into the two titans on my reading pile – The Sending by Isobelle Carmody and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini – and one which would address the collections of short stories I often neglect, and get me onto a few short books/novellas that have been highly recommended to me. All I had worked out so far was that collectively I had over 1000 pages left in The Sending and Brisingr, I wanted to try to read one short story a week, and I wanted to throw out my usual method of choosing books and pick a book under 200 when I next finished one.

I had already established that I had three books on various TBR piles which were under 200 pages – Highrise by J G Ballard, which Sarah has wanted me to read forever; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, which I have been meaning to read for years; and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson which my workmate Scott proclaimed essential reading – and then I discovered that one of my library books – The Game by Diana Wynne Jones – was also part of the under-200 club, which of course I was tickled pink about because that meant I had a candidate from each pile (Highrise being on the Borrowed-From-Others pile since Sarah lent it to me; A Clockwork Orange on the Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile; and I Am Legend on a second pile I have made of my own unread books since the old one was getting too tall, which I’m just calling the New-Books-Bought pile)!

I decided right then and there that I was starting the challenge so I collected the contenders, separated their names out of the Jar-Of-Choosing and picked a slip at random.

The four contenders eagerly waiting to be chosen

The four contenders eagerly waiting to be chosen

The book picked was The Game, which I thought nicely fitting as Metro Winds was also a library book and I was pretty certain it would also do it’s job of rut-breaking because A. It’s not only short, but is technically a children’s book so simple in language and structure, the literary equivalent of wearing training wheels; B. The blurb and cover are quite alluring; and C. Diana Wynne Jones. I was completely right as I zipped through The Game in two sittings (would’ve been one if I hadn’t started it on the way to work) and was all inspired to get to another short read!

This time I asked my mum if she could pick one of the three remaining slips (as she didn’t know what the colours meant she would be completely impartial) and lo and behold she chose Highrise 😀 I started it yesterday on the way home from work and 30-odd pages in I’m already intrigued and from what Sarah has told me I should ready myself for a disturbing ride 🙂 (pretty sure putting a smiley face after that means I’m about 10% psychopath)

As I’m already onto the second book in the challenge let’s make it official:

Short and Sweet challenge badge

And these are the rules I’ve scrounged up:

  1. Whenever a book is finished choose from the nominated contenders with under 200 pages
  2. Continue until all books under 200 pages are finished
  3. In addition, read at least 1 short story a week (currently from The Living Dead anthology)
  4. Update progress once a week

As I said above the contenders (that is the ones left 😛 ) are:

a clockwork orange

Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

i am legend

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

If I discover any others in the under-200 club lurking on my bookshelf or piles, I’ll add them to the list 🙂

As for the challenge to rekindle my romance with The Sending and Brisingr:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badge

The rules I’ve set myself for this challenge are:

  1. Read at least 50 pages of The Sending and/or Brisingr each week
  2. I will try to read at least 1 chapter from each book, but failing that at least a few pages of one and the rest from the other – basically I want to read a bit of both every week not just the 50 pages from one while the other is neglected
  3. The challenge will end when I’ve finished both books… since collectively they have 1065 pages left, if I keep to my quota it’ll take me about 22 weeks (which considering I love the number 22, is pretty neat-o 🙂 )
  4. I’ll do an update once a week along with my progress in Short and Sweet 
  5. *UPDATE 06/06/14 – I’m now aiming to read at least 100 pages each week, 50 pages from each book*

As with past challenges you are welcome to join me and tweak the challenge in whatever way works for you, and feel free to nab the challenge badges to use on your blog/site/face/whatever.

Stay tuned for an update in my progress, but probably not next week as I will be enjoying my short Easter break, a mixture of fun (friends from Sydney are visiting and I’m going to Swancon) and stuff I’m trying to fit into office hours while I’m off work (dentist, nutritionist, and exercise physiologist appointments). In fact, even though I’ve jumped the gun with one of the challenges I hear by officially start them on Monday the 21st and will do my first update the Monday after (or at least some time that week 😛 )

On that note, I bid you farewell for the moment Bookbaggers and leave you with a gif of ferrets stealing shit, coz why not? 😛

ferrets stealing stuff

The Micro Reviews From Planet Procrastination: Escape from the Bloodthirsty Giraffe of the Hunger Games Nebula!!!

Micro-reviews-banner

Last time on The Micro Reviews From Planet Procrastination:

Our intrepid heroes inadvertently opened up a wormhole while journeying to the planet Neptune in the Solar System (so named by the “dominant” inhabitants of the third planet). Due to a badly planned mass nap, none of the crew discovered they were grossly off-course until the Lieutenant in charge (an incompetent but generally well-intentioned individual named Huh) awoke from his slumber to the sight of a huge blue planet, very unlike the frozen Neptune, looming in front of him.

Despite knowing his crew would not be pleased with him for falling asleep on the job and in doing so pressing the Create Wormhole controls, Huh wasted no time in awakening them by activating the ship-wide alert siren. Waking up suddenly from a good nap is not the most pleasant experience, and being woken up suddenly via a load siren trumps the plain sudden awakening in order of unpleasant experiences. As the standard alert siren for the Micro Reviews ship is the high-pitched, and impossible to ignore, shriek of Procrastination’s native Skreeeeeeet (a small animal similar to Earth’s bats, named in a onomatopoeic manner because its discoverers were too busy fleeing the awful noise with all six of their arms blocking their ears to come up with a more fitting one), the crew did not exactly wake up in good moods.

Commander Whatzat Distraction stomped down the corridors to the main control room, steam positively erupting from his three sets of ears (this may have been just a figurative expression of anger, but then again the siren could have been so piercing it heated his brain and caused some of it to reach a gaseous state and flee out the nearest exit. Most likely the former). He arrived to the already chaotic scene of several senior crew members, in various states of undress (and various very embarrassing sets of bed attire) talking all at once, and quite loudly at a cowering Lieutenant Huh. When the Commander finally got all the crew members to calm down (one of the first things one learns in Commander training) and heard the whole story from the stuttering mouth of Huh, he quickly decided that an irritating awakening was of no importance when ones ship is in an unknown section of the Universe, about to collide with a pretty intimidating, and very blue planet.

Showing a rare moment of decisiveness, Commander Distraction ordered the crew to ready the landing gear and scan the planet’s atmosphere and surface to see if it was suitable for an exploration team – in his expert opinion if they were going to crash-land on a strange planet anyway, they may as well land with style and investigate a little. An initial scan showed what Lieutenant Huh had first suspected – the blue planet was quite dead, and there were none of the basic requirements for sustaining life. The exploration team donned their survival suits and helmets and when the ship landed with barely a bump, disembarked. When the Chief Scientist, Doctor Flurry Waitawhile took a sample of the blue earth she discovered that it was in fact a fine dust of organic, and recently living, matter covering the surface of the planet which itself was hard, inorganic, and not very kind to her six feet. A spin through the Universal Microscopic Matter Machine (or UMMM) told her that the blue powder use to be a large cold-blooded life form (or several of them in fact) which were most likely the former inhabitants of the planet (this made her feel a bit uncomfortable and she sorely wished she could rush back onto the ship and wash her shoes).

As the team explored the surface further they started to ponder what could possibly wipe out the natives of an entire planet so seamlessly, because there was nothing as far as their collective eyes (four each) could see except the blue dust of the deceased and the sinister black trees. Doctor Waitawhile scanned one of the trees with the Handheld Material Matching Machine (HMMM) and found that whatever it was composed of wasn’t on their vast database. They certainly weren’t trees, living or otherwise as the make-up wasn’t close to any organic material, but it also wasn’t similar to any known minerals the Micro Reviews had encountered in their millenia of voyaging through the Universe.

It wasn’t until Assistant Geologist Ponder  noticed a gold glint on one of the “trees” branches that they had any clues to what had occurred there, and the clue was certainly not a happy one. Closer examination of the gold object showed that it was a tiny pin, the kind often seen attached to clothing for decorative, or bragging purposes (in the case of an awarded pin) which showed the simple design of a sleek bird flying through a hoop with an arrow held in its sharp beak. At the sight of the pin Chief Cultural Advisor Daydream McDillydally turned from his healthy natural shade of green to a pale, soupy grey. He recognised the pin as a key cultural symbol from the Earth craze “The Hunger Games” and if it indicated what he thought it did, then they were all in serious danger.

Quickly and breathlessly he told the rest of the team about The Hunger Games Nebula, a bizarre dust cloud located on the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy which had spontaneously appeared shortly after the Hunger Games fandom on Earth had been established. He had heard about the fascinating phenomenon from a colleague who had been studying it for several years. Apparently the cloud was formed from pure fan energy and was composed of hundreds of details from the books and subsequent films which the fandom embraced. Aliens from all over the Galaxy flocked to the Nebula as tourists, wishing to see the miracle, but this activity in turn attracted a deadly predator, a by-product of the fandom’s creation.

The predator was referred to only as the Bloodthirsty Giraffe because it somewhat resembled the tall, placid animals that dwell in Earth’s continent of Africa. The beast was said to be a terrifying thing that towered over many smaller ships, its long serpentine neck supporting a massive head filled with rows of dripping teeth. Personal accounts varied as not many who had encountered it survived, and those that did were too traumatized to give a clear description, but the repeating characteristics were its immense size, deadly jaw, anywhere from a dozen to a hundred legs that propelled it toward its victims, a set of black, fathomless eyes and the blood-curdling scream it emitted before attacking. McDillydally had heard that little could stop the beast in its rampage, it didn’t obey the basic laws of Physics for it was a creature formed from pure energy, and that when it ate its prey only a fine dust remained, adding to the famed Nebula.

The exploration team looked down at the blue film of dust covering the planet with new-found disgust and horror, and McDillydally began to sweat profusely, his wire spectacles slipping down his double nose. In a moment of unanimous terror the team forgot their exploration and hurriedly headed back towards the ship just as a bone-chilling scream sounded behind them…

And now for the reviews:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hungergames

A thrilling start to an amazing YA dystopian trilogy. Even though I had seen the film adaptation previously I was still hooked in the whole way through, and emotionally invested. Suzanne Collins has earned another fan girl!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Cover - Catching Fire

Wow. Even better than the first book with further character and plot development and insight into the different districts. I read it in 3 days and whenever I wasn’t reading it (like when I was at work) I wanted to get back to it as soon as possible. I can’t wait to see how they bring it to the big screen 😀

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

MOCKINGJAY-jacket

An action-packed and highly intense final installment to the trilogy. I shed a few tears at several points near the end, both out of sadness and joy and I gasped so many times its surprising that I didn’t pass out from excess oxygen O.O

Blood, Guts & Whiskey by Various

Blood, Guts and Whiskey

A fine collection of Neo-Noir short stories. Some were sad and tragic, others were bizarre and funny, and pretty much all of them included crime (usually of the bloody and organised variety) and alcohol so it certainly lived up to its name.

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

tears of the giraffe

Another lovely book in this very entertaining series. McCall Smith’s words drip with a deep love of Africa, its culture and its people and this instantly transports you there. I am completely in love with the clever and kind-hearted Mma Ramotswe, her hilariously uptight Secretary/assistant detective Mma Makutsi, and the sweet Mr J. L. B Matekoni and I am so glad there are many books in this series 🙂

So there you have it my splendiforous Bookbaggers – the second installment in the rebooted Micro Reviews Saga! Sorry this one’s a bit longer than the last – as the action continues I suspect that will happen more and more, but I’ll try to keep them relatively short for you – I know I don’t like to read giant slabs of text in a blog post! Also a special shout out to Vasiliki– I know I said it was less sinister than it seems, but then it just sort of turned (as stories do) and ended up MORE sinister…opps 😛 Hope you enjoyed it ‘tho!

As with the last installment, feel free to sound out your opinions or predictions in the comments, or in an email and as always:

Happy Reading!

Return of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!

I warned you all of their return and as we all know sequels seem to pop up quicker and quicker these days (says grandma Book Polygamist -_-) so make sure you’re sitting comfortably, your popcorn is safely in a hard-to-spill position and your hands are primed to grip the edges of your seat (or the poor soul sitting next to you) as i introduce the second installment in the Micro Review saga:

Return of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!

V for Vendetta By Alan Moore and David Lloyd

A unique and highly original Graphic Novel. Very dark, both in content and art style and also quite mysterious with the story being told purely through dialogue and poetic/cryptic monologues. The futuristic setting was really unsettling and prophetic as it was a highly monitored and controlled society. A classic of the Graphic Novel genre but perhaps not one to start off with.

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb

A cracking little mystery set in Victorian London (one of my favourite settings for a mystery) but with a supernatural twist. Action-packed but also filled with great character interaction and funny dialogue. The first of a series that seems very fun and appealing to children, young adults and adults that want a short entertaining read.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A beautiful little read. Very touching and the content on the Victorian meanings of flowers as well as the examination of the foster child system added depth. A bit sad in parts, and also a tad “chick lit” so might not be appealing to all bibliophiles.

Books of Blood Vol 1-3 By Clive Barker

A collection of three volumes of short stories, with each being twisted and disturbing in its own way thanks to the amazing imaginative horror-filled mind of Clive Barker. As with Coldheart Canyon this  certainly is not for those with a weak constitution, and even if you have a strong mind and stomach I wouldn’t recommend reading too many stories in one sitting, but if you love well-crafted horror that is definitely not predictable and definitely is original then the Books of Blood is an amazing read.

Grave Sight By Charlaine Harris

A fun and interesting mix of paranormal fiction and murder mystery with intriguing main characters in sister and brother team Harper and Tolliver. One for fans of Charlaine Harris or lovers of light, supernaturally-based mysteries.

So there we have it!

As sequels go this could either be a complete flop or a bigger success then its predecessor (or a big success because it was a complete flop),  but rest assured lovers of teeny reviews packaged together under a title straight out of the  Z-grade horror bargain bin at the back of a dodgy video store, the Micro reviews will be back for thier revenge!