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

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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