New Books & Novel Discoveries (July 2018)

July has been fairly light once again, though with some surprises. My reading has picked up somewhat, which I’m happy about, though I’m beginning to suspect that I’ve fallen too far behind to catch up to where Goodreads thinks I should be. I’m probably not going to hit my mark this year, but for now I will leave my challenge at 75 books.

Would it betray the spirit of the challenge to decrease the mark I want to hit? In the past I’ve increased it because I ended up reading more than I thought I would, but I wonder if anyone would consider decreasing to spoil things a little. I’m sure most people don’t care that much, but the thought does make me apprehensive about doing it all the same.

Anyway, onto the books!Read More »

Book Review – My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

MyYearOfRestAndRelaxation

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018) is the latest novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. The story follows an unnamed narrator who is fed up with her life such as it is. Both her parents are dead, her recurring ex-boyfriend is a high-class dirtbag, and her only consistent relationship with her friend Reva is toxic. Life offers nothing of meaning or value to her. Everything is a superficial façade. In attempt to remedy her existential dilemma, with the help of a terrible psychiatrist, the narrator embarks upon a journey self-renewal. She begins taking a myriad of sleep aids and medication to keep herself sedated in her apartment as often as possible for an entire year, believing that by the end of this time she will emerge restored in mind and spirit.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/07/25

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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

MyYearOfRestAndRelaxationI’m still only about halfway through reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Admittedly, I’ve fallen a little short of giving myself adequate reading time to finish it up. It’s not particularly long, so I should have been done with it by now. On the other hand, it isn’t grabbing me as much as I’d like. Moshfegh’s writing is captivating while I’m reading it, but I find I have to work harder than normal to recall what has happened thus far in the novel. There are some notable hitches in the narrator’s plan that are making things interesting, and aspects of her past do stick out well, I’m just still wondering there will be any more of a distinct sense of direction.

Recently Finished

Obi-Wan & AnakinThe only book I’ve finished in the last week is Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin by Charles Soule et al. It’s one of the numerous limited series that Marvel has put out lately for Star Wars, usually focused on specific characters. The only other one I’ve read was for Princess Leia. I’m glad I read this book in particular, because its story takes place at a time not really covered in Star Wars media, namely the 10-year period between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Anakin is still fairly young, so while he can be a little unruly he doesn’t yet have his rebellious streak. I really liked that the story zeroed in on the conflict of a specific planet as well, namely one that has technology but is otherwise cut off from the rest of the Galaxy. There’s always such focus on things at a Galactic level, I enjoy the emphasis on a single planet, which can be rich enough with history and context all on its own.

Reading Next

ZeldaEncyclopediaI’m still intending to start reading Aftermath by Chuck Wendig next, which I may have started by next week. I’m gonna make a push to finish up things in the next few days and over the weekend. Other than that I want to read Shattered Empire, which is another Star Wars limited series book that I want to check out, this one specifically because it takes place after Return of the Jedi. I meant to starting reading The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia what feels like ages ago, but for some reason I just can’t motivate myself to pick it up. I don’t know if I’ll still actually start it or not, but I’ll be sure to let you know here when and if I do.

Until next time, thank you for reading!

Novella Review – The Shadow over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft

Necronomicon

The Shadow over Innsmouth is a horror novella written by H.P. Lovecraft. It is part of the Cthulhu Mythos for which the author is famous, making numerous references to recurring places, creatures, and other shared elements. It was originally written in late 1931, though the story did not see publication until April 1936 as a complete book by Visionary Publishing Company. It was first rejected by the magazine Weird Tales for being too long to publish in its entirety yet structured in such a way that it could not be cleanly cut into two parts. I read this story in the Necronomicon published by Gollancz in 2008, which is an extensive collection of the author’s “Best Weird Tales.”

The story follows a student taking a tour through New England to see the sights and appreciate the architecture of some of its older towns. The nearby town of Innsmouth is suggested to him as a curiosity and a cheaper stop on his journey. Upon arrival he learns of some locations of interest, witnesses and interacts with strange people, and eventually bears witness to the horrifying truth of the town’s dark and sordid history.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/07/18

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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

MyYearOfRestAndRelaxationI’ve been reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, though I’m only just getting started with it. My reading plans took a slight detour. Though I’m still within the first chapter, I have read until the first section break. It was a bit of a whirlwind so far, giving a lot of information on the narrator’s daily life such as it is and her dysfunctional friendship with a college friend named Reza. The style is rather fast paced, though I haven’t exactly gotten a hold on what the story is about yet. I’m a little wary with how much I’m being told rather than shown, but that may just be Meshfegh setting the scene. I’m still optimistic.

Recently Finished

MovingPicturesOver the weekend I finished reading Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett! Please check out my review here. I enjoyed it well enough, though it went pretty much as I expected it to. Though it hasn’t been the case every time, there is a general skeleton of a story that Pratchett seems to use when he has more of an idea he wants to explore than a specific story he wants to tell. Gaspode the Wonder Dog did not entirely take over the role of protagonist, but he was one of the most complex characters in the story, torn between his resentment for how humans mistreat him and his innate nature as a dog (a Good Boy). I was thrilled to learn that he becomes a recurring character throughout the series.

TheAshesofJedhaI also read The Ashes of Jedha by Kieron Gillen et al, which has caught me up on all of the available volumes of the current Star Wars series by Marvel. This is the first book with Gillen taking over from Jason Aaron and the difference was a little staggering. Maybe I just prefer something about Gillen’s style, but I was vastly more intrigued with the story here than I was with most of Aaron’s stuff. There was some weird stuff with the Force in it, which is always a win for me, but the book was mostly about a Rebel operation yet it still had me hooked. It bodes well for me for the series going forward.

NecronomiconThough this is not a completed book, I also read “The Shadow over Innsmouth” by H. P. Lovecraft from my massive tome of his stories. I’ve been playing the video game Bloodborne recently and a friend of mine told me to read this—basically a homework assignment—before I begin a specific portion of the game. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I had absorbed more about it through osmosis than I realized, since much of it didn’t surprise me. I will likely have a review up of it soon.

Reading Next

AftermathI know I gab a lot about Star Wars, but I’ve got a list with five of the newer novels still on it that I want to get to this year. So, it’s high time I started the first Aftermath novel by Chuck Wendig, which is following the Galactic Civil war after the deaths of the Emperor and Darth Vader. I’ve been wanting to read this trilogy for a long time and I’m not putting it off any longer (once I’ve finished up with Moshfegh’s novel).

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Book Review – Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

MovingPictures

People might say that reality is a quality that things possess in the same way that they possess weight. Sadly alchemists never really held with such a quaint notion. They think that they can change reality, shape it to their own purpose. Imagine then the damage that could be wrought if they get their hands on the ultimate alchemy: The invention of motion pictures, the greatest making illusions. It may be a triumph of universe-shaking proportions. It’s either that or they’re about to unlock the dark terrible secret of the Holy Wood hills — by mistake.

Moving Pictures (1990) by Terry Pratchett is the tenth novel in the Discworld series. It is also the first book in the Industrial Revolution novel sequence, where the catalyst of the story is some manner of technological innovation or invention. Unlike the other sub-series that focus on a specific character or characters, this book introduces a new cast to the reader. It isn’t until the fourth Industrial Revolution book that a recurring protagonist is introduced. This novel, unsurprisingly, follows the emergence of a motion picture industry on the Discworld and the mayhem it eventually unleashes.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/07/11

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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

MovingPicturesI’m still reading Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. I’m a little over half way through the book at the moment. In a surprising turn a new character seems to have emerged as a focal point of the story.  This character is Gaspode the Wonder Dog, a mangy mongrel that can inexplicably talk and think like a person thanks to the eldritch forces of Holy Wood. I don’t know if he will actually usurp the role of protagonist, but he has wound up being far more interesting than the lead character and I’m wondering now if that was Pratchett’s intention all along. I’m still enjoying reading the book, but it often feels like it’s stalling in terms of pace, which can be a little frustrating.

Recently Finished

Progress has waned a little this week, so nothing unfortunately.

Reading Next

TheAshesofJedhaAs I said last week, I intend to start My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh soon. I’ve received my copy of it since last week, so now it’s simply a matter of finishing up what I’m currently reading. Meanwhile, I do need to continue catching up on Star Wars comics. I’ve only got one volume of the main title left to read, The Ashes of Jedha, before I’m all caught up on that specific series. After that, I just need to read some of the more standalone Star Wars comic book volumes and then I will feel like I can move on to other series I need to get to.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Writing Report #4

Goodness, it has been a bit since I wrote one of these. Nearly two months to be specific. There have been some small pieces of news on the writing front, though nothing major. I think I really do need to write these more frequently, as some apparent lapses I’ll get in to might be attributed to my failing to keep this corner of my blog updated.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/07/04

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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

MovingPicturesOver the weekend I finally started reading Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett, the tenth Discworld novel. This is another book in the series that follows a new cast of characters, parodying a specific concept in its own Discworld-y fashion. This time around it’s Hollywood (“Holy Wood”) and the film industry, which has made its way onto the Disc in a roundabout, fantasy sort of way. The protagonist is not particularly remarkable so far, but I really like the notion that something Lovecraftian is at play giving people “Holy Wood dreams.”

Recently Finished

JourneyToTheCentreOfTheEarthSaturday morning I finished reading Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. Check out my full review here. I liked it well enough, but it ended rather abruptly when the real sense of adventure and discovery had finally started taking off for me. There’s only so long that characters can wander deep underground, perilous though that can be, before it becomes played out. I can respect the book for trying to be as scientific as possible in dealing with the seemingly impossible things the characters do come across, but I wanted them to more directly confront the more startling discoveries they did make.

StarWarsOutAmongTheStarsI also read Out Among the Stars by Jason Aaron et al, the sixth volume in the current Marvel Comics run of Star Wars. I rather liked this volume, despite its focus on the core crew of the Millennium Falcon (which hasn’t been stellar in this series as of late). Each issue of this volume was dedicated to different pairings of characters, telling brief self-contained stories that had some well done little character moments. One chapter followed the SCAR squadron of elite Stormtroopers, a perspective I especially enjoyed in this book. The RD-D2 story was a little silly. I have trouble with the little astromech running circles around supposedly trained soldiers, but it’s not too big of a bugbear for me.

Reading Next

MyYearOfRestAndRelaxationOttessa Moshfegh’s new novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation should be arriving any day now, so I’ve decided to get the jump on that net while it’s newly published. The only thing I know about it in a roundabout sort of way is that it deals with feelings of apathy and depression in an otherwise privileged life. I really enjoyed her last book, so I’m really looking forward to checking this one out.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Mid-Year Freak Out

I was tagged to write this by Molly from Silver Button Books, a wonderful blog that I’ve been following for a while now, and vice versa. I always enjoy hearing from her on my posts. Take a moment to check out her blog, if you like.

“Mid-Year Freak Out” feels rather apt for this tag. For one, I’m freaking out a bit that it’s already July, some personal-life stresses having made time especially dissolve away this year. Furthermore, thanks to my prolonged affair reading the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, which is exhaustively documented here at this point, I am woefully behind on the amount of books I want to read this year.

I read a lot of comic books throughout the year as well, but I’m going to try to make this a little more book focused, allowing for something comic book related to trump in when appropriate.Read More »