Book Review – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Summary

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: neverwhere.

Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is a 1996 urban fantasy novel, and the companion novelization of a BBC television series of the same name, also written by Gaiman. This was a book I purchased amongst a stack of others by the author, already being a big fan of his work. As a result, however, I actually knew very little about it. I didn’t even know it was a TV series until I started this review, though clearly the book has overshadowed it. It was a rather unique experience for me to go into a popular book by a beloved author while having virtually no idea what to expect.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2017/09/27

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Guards!Guards!At the moment I’m about a third through Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, the eighth Discworld novel and the first to feature Sam Vimes and the Night Watch. I like it a lot so far. We get a closer look at the inner-workings of municipal institutions and guilds in Ankh-Morpork than we’ve gotten thus far, which further explains how the Night Watch has been dwindled to a meaningless cluster of rag-tag guards, rather than any sort of actual law enforcement service. It’s humorous as usual, but looks like it will also have a lot of heart too. I’ve read the follow-up to this story, so I’m excited to see how the Watch will start to rise above their meager status.

Recently Finished

NeverwhereOver the weekend I finished reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, a review of which is forthcoming. While it’s not one of my favourite books by Gaiman, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. I cannot help but find myself engrossed by his writing style and the personality he injects into all of his characters. I particularly liked the blend of magical realism with stark reality, turning the world of “those who fell through the cracks” into a literal yet surreal place hidden under London, whilst not abandoning some of the dreary reality of those who find themselves at such a place in the world.

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyOriginalSinI also read Original Sin by Brian Michael Bendis and Ed McGuinness, the fifth volume in the run of Guardians of the Galaxy books I’ve been reading. Half of the book revealed events that took place before this run began, so I knew little of the context that would have allowed me to appreciate it. It was enjoyable nevertheless. The latter half continued where the last book left off, specifically concerning Venom’s symbiote reacting strangely to being away from Earth. I wish there was a little more to it, but I really liked what they revealed about where the symbiote originally came from and its true purpose.

Reading Next

HellboyAnAssortmentOfHorrorsOctober is just around the corner, and while I haven’t finished my planned reading quite yet, my line-up of spookier books is becoming more set. One such that I have planned is Hellboy: An Assortment of Horrors, a Hellboy short story collection edited by Christopher Golden. This book actually just released at the end of August, so I’m especially looking forward to digging into something so new.

Movie Review – It (2017)

Summary

Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise.

ItPoster

It is a 2017 supernatural horror film directed by Andy Muschietti, adapting the well-known Stephen King novel of the same name. While It could be an intimidating tome to even an avid reader, the book was also adapted back in 1990 into a miniseries starring Tim Curry as the titular creature, which cemented the story further into popular culture. The 2017 film is the first time I’ve actually experienced any version of the story for myself, yet going in I had a firm understanding of it through osmosis. It’s a tale that’s hung around the periphery of my life ever since I noticed the massive hardcover on my dad’s bookshelf when I was a child.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2017/09/20

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

NeverwhereOver the weekend I started reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, about a hapless hero named Richard Mayhew who helps an injured girl on the street named Door, which gets him wrapped up in a previously unseen world of strange and magical beings that exist under and around London. I’ve yet to experience the full breadth and depth of this world, but Richard has started to learn that his good deed has not gone unpunished, forcing him to dive headfirst into this world to turn his life back around. I love Gaiman’s writing as per usual, but at 75 pages in I feel I should be more drawn in than I am so far. I plan to finish it this week, at any rate, so I’ll be spending a lot of time with it regardless.

Recently Finished

TheAeneidI finally capped off reading the Aeneid by Virgil, which you can read a full review of here. I still love and appreciate this sort of literature, but I have been reminded that reading stuff like this is a more laborious love than other literature for me. It perhaps didn’t help that this was my least favourite after the Odyssey and the Iliad. There were many great moments, but I never really felt a strong connection to Aeneas himself in the same way that I did with Achilles or Odysseus. Though it will be a while before I move on to this, the next epic poem I want to read is, fittingly, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

Reading Next

TheNightmareCollectiveAs I said last week, I’ve outlined some books I want to get through during the remainder of September and throughout October. I still plan to read Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett before the month is out. Hopefully I can actually accomplish that. As for October, one book looming on the horizon is an anthology of horror short stories called The Nightmare Collective, curated by the editors of PlayWithDeath.com. It’s a Kindle book I’ve had for a while that I’ve been saving for this upcoming season.

Book Review – The Aeneid by Virgil

Summary

Fleeing the ashes of Troy, Aeneas, Achilles’s mighty foe in the Iliad, begins an incredible journey to fulfill his destiny. His voyage will take him through stormy seas, entangle him in a tragic love affair, and lure him into the world of the dead itself – all the way tormented by the vengeful Juno, Queen of the Gods. Ultimately, he reaches the promised land of Italy where, after bloody battles and with high hopes, he founds the Roman people. An unsparing portrait of a man caught between love, duty, and fate, the Aeneid redefines passion, nobility, and courage for our times.

TheAeneid

It always feels a bit awkward when I decide to review something like Virgil’s Aeneid, considered a master work of literature millennia before I was born. This isn’t just a review of an epic poem from the dawn of the Roman Empire, however, but one of a specific modern translation as well. As with the copies of the Iliad and the Odyssey I’ve read over the past few years, this edition was translated by Robert Fagles with a lengthy introduction written by Bernard Knox. That all being said, I’ve realized that the work’s age does not invalidate my personal experience reading it, nor does my assessment put a dent in what is deservedly a celebrated piece of literature.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2017/09/13

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

TheAeneidI’m much further into The Aeneid by Virgil , currently at Book 10 “Enemy at the Gates.” I like Robert Fagles’ translations, but it is once again a little jarring for me to come to a work like this after strictly reading novels (for the most part). I’ll get more into this when I write about it after I’m done, but it’s interesting when you become self-aware of how your brain is processing something written in a more challenging way. I wanted to have it done by now (that is starting to become a catchphrase), but I’ve admittedly procrastinated reading it a little as a result of its difficulty. Being my own worst enemy notwithstanding, I hope to finish it by the week’s end.

Recently Finished

WWHIncredibleHerculesThough I’ve got other comic book series I’m meaning to finish or start, I read a trade on a whim (as I’m wont to do). This week it was World War Hulk: The Incredible Hercules by Greg Pak et al. This was actually the first volume in the Incredible Hercules series that I’ve read through over the past year, but was the last one I acquired. There aren’t numbers designating order on the spines of this series, so that’s what made things confusing. It’s not exactly essential either, in terms of story. It was typical comic book event tie-in fare (at best fine), but it was fun to see Amadeus Cho and Herc working together before becoming a notable duo of their own.

Reading Next

Guards!Guards!I’ve started to put together a plan for what I want to read next, in preparation for Halloween, my most favourite time of year. I’m putting together a line-up of books I want to get through and review in October, meaning I’m also laying out reading goals I think will be realistic for the rest of September. Provided that I finish The Aeneid on schedule, I still want to read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, as well as Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, in order to push further along with the Discworld series. I’ve heard this one is especially good, so I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully you’ll be hearing all about it over the next couple weeks.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/09/06

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

TheAeneidI started reading The Aeneid by Virgil (translation by Robert Fagles), though really I’ve only read the fairly lengthy introduction by Bernard Knox thus far. As with copies of The Iliad and The Odyssey I read, Knox’s introduction does a great job of giving historical context and background information on the poem and its author. A lot of the information I recall having been taught before, but it was great to get a refresher. It feels a lot better to have this primer than simply jumping into the poem.

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyGuardiansDisassembledI’m also in the middle of Guardians of the Galaxy: Guardians Disassembled. Not only am I excited I’m finally reading about Agent Venom’s time on the team (the main reason I even picked these up) but it finally feels like an honest-to-god story about this team without loose ties to other story lines or playing a more supporting role. They’ve already started to plant the seeds that they’ll explore where the symbiote (Venom’s alien suit) comes from, and though some of that has been spoiled for me I’m excited to read it firsthand.

Recently Finished

DarkDiscipleI finished reading Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden just before the weekend last week. Had a good train ride into Toronto from my parents’ to finish it off before Fan Expo. I post a review on Monday, which you can read here. I enjoyed this novel quite a bit, especially having just concluded the series it was originally written for. What I imagined as I read as routinely in the style of the show. It even felt episodic at times, where the endings of certain chapters could easily have been the closing to credits in an episode. It is very much a novel for fans, however. If by chance someone tried getting into Star Wars with this book, I imagine they would find it more confusing than anything else.

Reading Next

NeverwhereThough I still have two Guardians of the Galaxy volumes left after the current one I’m on, I find myself looking toward other comic books series I need to complete. At Fan Expo I managed to hunt down the last two volumes of The Dark Tower prequel comic books series, so now I will definitely start reading those soon.

Otherwise, I want to get myself reading some Neil Gaiman again finally. I have two of his books on my 2017 to-read list, yet haven’t touched either yet. I will probably start Neverwhere once I’m finished with The Aeneid. Hopefully that will be within September, as I want to read some horror for October.

Book Review – Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Summary

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. And when he orders the massacre of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council can see no alternative but to take drastic action: targeting the Empire’s most cold-blooded disciple for assassination. But Dooku is dangerous pretty, so the Council decides to bring both sides of the Force to bear—teaming brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous ex-Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served Dooku runs deep, Ventress’s hatred for her former master runs deeper. Determined to have vengeances and let go of her Sith past, Ventress must balance her growing feelings for Vos with the fury of her warrior’s spirit—and resolves to claim victory on all fronts. It is a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy … and her own doubt.

DarkDisciple

Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden is one of the new Disney Canon Star Wars novels, published in 2015. The novel is based on a storyline originally written by Katie Lucas as an eight-episode arc for the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These episodes were not completed due to the show’s cancellation. Initially this novel felt more like an obligatory read for me. I hadn’t seen through the show yet, but wanted to read the new canon novels, so I picked it up alongside Tarkin by James Luceno almost a year ago.  Having recently finished watching the series finally, I became excited to start it. Not without its faults, I’m grateful that it exists, having given some closure on Asajj Ventress, a major recurring character throughout the series.Read More »