WWW Wednesday – January 23, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at 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

fire & bloodI’m a little over 100 pages into Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin now and it is starting to grow on me a bit. I still would have preferred it be a novel, but a fictional history is not terrible since the world of Westeros is quite compelling even in this context. The only drag I’m having with it is it takes a lot longer to make a dent in reading it. When I would have gotten through a lot more pages with another book I find I get through only a miniscule amount reading this. It is broken up into manageable chaptrs that do make it more digestible though, which I’m hoping will help me make more progress as I dedicate time more closely to it.

I’m still reading the Age of Reptiles Omnibus Vol. 1 by Ricardo Delgado et al as well, but I regrettably haven’t touched it since my post last week. I’ll get back to it soon.


Recently Finished

star wars aliensOver the weekend I finished reading Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens by Landry Q. Walker, which I should have a review up for by the end of the week. This was a fun little Star Wars collection that I’m glad I set aside time for. The stories were a lot more straightforward due to the younger target audience, but this didn’t stop Walker from getting a little weird with each story and I enjoyed that. I especially liked the finale story, which was essentially a Mad Max-style race through a sandstorm between a bunch of different pirate factions trying to find the lost treasure of Count Dooku. This tale ended up tying itself more closely with greater franchise lore too, which I really enjoyed.


Reading Next

if on a winter's night a travelerShucks, I don’t now what I’ll be reading next. Fire & Blood is going to consume a lot of my reading time if I’m going to get it done sooner rather than later. With how heavy the snow has been here, however, I have been thinking more and more about finally reading If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. I don’t know much about it other than that it plays with framing narrative and story structure in interesting, if disorienting, ways. Apparently it’s actually ten novels in one, though it’s not long in terms of page count, so I’m curious to see how that unfolds.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – January 16, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at 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

Age of Reptiles Omnibus 1I’ve taken it upon myself to read more books concurrently than is normal for me at the moment. The first, and lightest, of these is the Age of Reptiles Omnibus Vol. 1 by Ricardo Delgado et al. It is an omnibus collection of stories about dinosaurs told completely visually. No word bubbles, narrative boxes, or even text sound effects grace the pages whatsoever. It is all completely visual storytelling and so far I think it’s done very well. The style is very evocative, perhaps giving these colossal creatures more expression than they were capable of, but it’s artistic license I can more than accept. The only place I’ve stumbled with it so far is that some packs of dinosaurs, with members who are at times distinct, can also be hard to tell apart.

star wars aliensI also started Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens by Landry Q. Walker. It is a collection of short stories written for younger audiences about some of the aliens that appear as background characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I wanted to start this as a supplemental read to my primary book, and so far I am finding it a fair breeze to get through. While the writing definitely reads easier, I’m surprised at some of the content considering the intended audience. The second story involved a sous chef being found butchered and strung up in a meat locker. I enjoyed it fine, but that’s a bit dark for a “kids” book isn’t it?

fire & bloodLastly, I decided to start Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin, the latest book published related to the Song of Ice and Fire series. I forgot to put this on my scrappy list for the year, but since I’ve made better progress than I thought I would I decided to take the plunge with it now. I knew it was an account of the past in this narrative world, but I did not know that it was written like an in-universe historical text. This had made the prose a lot more dry than I was expecting. Martin’s writing is still strong, but I was hoping for more of a narrative. I really hope another big red book doesn’t slow down my reading progress this year. 2019’s only just started!


Recently Finished

lost at seaOver the weekend I finished two books, the first being Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Despite being a fan of the author/artist’s work for a long time, I’ve never gotten around to this one, his first ever graphic novel. The blurb says the main character Raleigh believes she has no soul—that it was stolen by a cat—it’s a much more grounded story than this suggests, intimately exploring the character’s state of mind as she takes part in a road trip from California to British Columbia. She’s at a turning point in her life, confused and with no sense of direction. I loved the way that O’Malley captured this in his quirky style without diminishing the weight of her emotional situation.

The Saturday Night Ghost ClubI also finished The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson, which I posted a review of yesterday. I enjoyed this novel a lot, though it was much more of a coming-of-age story than I expected going in. The mystery around Uncle Calvin became too predictable for me, but it was still effective in the end. I simply loved the characters in this novel; Davidson crafted them into such living, breathing people that the familiar formulas at play hardly mattered. I especially found that I could relate to the main character, finding a lot in common with myself when I was that age. I think this has become my favourite of his novels that I’ve read.


Reading Next

With as many books as I’ve got on my plate at the moment I really don’t know what’s next, except I definitely want to veer back onto my scrappy list so I can continue getting it done. I started strong getting two books crossed off, but now I’ve picked up two deviations from the plan, so more fool me.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

Book Review – The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is the latest fiction novel by Canadian author Craig Davidson. Neurosurgeon Jake Baker knows that the brain is a much more complex organ than we realize. He even paints himself as nothing more than a glorified mechanic; he can help treat a physical malady like a tumour, but the deeper workings of the mind and memory are a mystery even to him. In this novel Jake recounts when he was twelve years old living in his home town of Niagara Falls—or Cataract City, as the locals called it—and the summer of the Saturday Night Ghost Club. It was organised by his eccentric uncle Calvin to explore the supposedly haunted places of the city. During this life-changing summer Jake discovers that this club is unearthing something more horrible buried in his uncle’s past, something that has been kept from him all his life.Read More »

Book Review – I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I, Robot

I, Robot is a “fixup” novel of short stories by Isaac Asimov, telling stories about positronic robots, their interactions with humans, and the way the author’s famous “Three Laws of Robotics” influences robot psychology and behaviour. A “fixup” novel is a novel collecting stories that were previously published separately, not initially intended to be a part of a collection. A positronic brain is the technological device conceived by Asimov that gives a robot consciousness similar to that of a human being. The framing device around these stories is an interview between a reporter and Dr. Susan Calvin, who has led a long and storied career as the chief robopsychologist for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. Though not all of these stories are directly about her, she recounts each to the reporter (our narrator) as particular points of interest in the history of robot development.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – January 9, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at 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

The Saturday Night Ghost ClubLast night I started reading The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson, a favourite Canadian author of mine. It wasn’t long ago that I first heard about this new book of his and after having picked it up on Boxing Day I decided to get started on it now. I’m only about 30 pages in, but I feel I’ve gotten a good introduction of the characters and setting thus far, though I’m sure more groundwork will still be laid. So far it’s playing a lot with the role of memory in our lives, as well as the narrator’s childhood belief in monsters and urban legends, the latter of which I relate to to a certain extent. I’m excited to see where things go, but wary of what the early examples of extreme bullying forebodes for the characters. I don’t dislike it, it’s just having its intended effect on me.


Recently Finished

I, RobotOver the weekend I started and finished I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, a collection of science fiction short stories centred around the author’s famous Three Laws of Robotics. Sometimes older science fiction is a little dated but this was a breezier read than expected. Asimov’s view of robots, AI, and their integration into human society is far more optimistic than most, so these stories centre more around social issues related to robots and/or the performative hiccups with the Three Laws. It was fun to read more optimistic science fiction that still maintained some darker undertones. The interplay between humans and robots is a lot more subtle, the conflicts more philosophical or psychological. I should have a review up by Friday.


Reading Next

berserk 18Having just started The Saturday Night Ghost Club I really have no idea what I’m going to read next. I suppose it ought to be a graphic novel, but I cannot decide what that will be just yet. I am waiting for the next volume of Berserk that I ordered to arrive in store, but I don’t want to just wait for that. I’m in a bit of limbo as far as series go. Some have languished so long I have no urgency to continue them right now, and others I really ought to start. I guess we’ll see what I decide when next Wednesday rolls around.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

My Scrappy To-Read List for 2019

As I’ve mentioned a few times in past posts, including my Year in Review for 2018, at the start of each year I hand-write a list of books I want to read simply for the satisfaction of crossing them out when I finish them. Well, I’ve filled out my list for 2019 and thought I’d give everybody a gander at it. It’s a little more ambitious in terms of number this year, since a fair few of them are repeats I did not get to last year.

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Observe how I progressively begin to squeeze titles in. So well planned. A great use of space.

For those of you who have seen the 2018 list you’ll know I have a bit of a devil of a time finishing these. I wrote down 28 last year and only completed 13. I have a bit of a wandering eye when it comes to books, apparently. I suppose I do that because sometimes I want to read a book soon after I buy it. Also, something about knowing what’s next takes the fun out of it a bit.

Nevertheless, I’d like a bigger goal for myself this year to be finally finishing one of these lists. That’s 33 books for this year, just counting this list. Considering I will no doubt pick up something not listed here I think that’ll be a considerable challenge. Here’s to hoping I can get it done.

Conspicuously missing from among the unread of 2018 (to me) are The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, It by Stephen King, and The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. I really don’t want to commit to any of those behemoths after my experience with The Lord of the Rings last year, so maybe this is more doable that it appears if you consider page count.

As it happens, I’ve already finish a book on this list! I held off on striking it out to put this up. I’m choosing to keep what book it is a secret until my WWW Wednesday post tomorrow, though it’s probably not that hard to guess. I should have a review up for it by the end of the week.

Thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – January 2, 2019

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at 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

I’m taking my end of year/new year break, so I haven’t started anything yet! Just want a brief reprieve before I dive back in.


Recently Finished

Hellboy 1953I missed last week’s post because of the holidays—lots of travel and visiting people—so I’ve got a few titles to bring up here. The first is Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 by Mike Mignola et al. It continues the adventures of Hellboy early in his career as a paranormal investigator, seeing him travel across England with his surrogate father Bruttenholm as well as with a team of other agents in the suburbs of America. I really liked how this book continued to balance his inexperience with his growing competence, as well as the nods to the fact that his very nature might be the reason significant confrontations are spurred in the first place.

BloodlineThe second I finished was Bloodline by Claudia Gray, which I have spoken highly of numerous times since: it received a 5 out of 5 in my review and was listed among my top five personal favourite reads of the year. I’ve enjoyed many of the new Star Wars books, but this one stands as the perfect example original story and tie-in to the greater franchise converging almost seamlessly. It offered a closer look into one of the franchise’s most iconic characters as well, having her face her demons concerning her parentage in a substantial way previously unseen. It also did a good job of providing some insight into politics and what we know is in store for the galaxy without bogging things down with too many details.

Berserk 17Lastly, I read Berserk Vol. 17 by Kentaro Miura as I planned to for my final read, though I didn’t actually get to it until I got back home (I wanted all these done before Christmas). I really enjoyed getting back into the series. There were a few things I had to re-familiarize myself with, but I was able to recall most everything quite well. This arc looks like it’s shaping up to be pretty interesting too, tying back into characters and events that took place during the extensive flashback arc that occurred many volumes ago. The only regrettable thing is manga volumes read very quickly and continuously; a volume is never really a complete story, just a big collection of chapters, so I’m going to need to pick up more of these regularly if I want to keep reading.


Reading Next

I, RobotI’ll likely start reading again this weekend, I’m already getting a little antsy to pick up a book again. On Boxing Day I went to a used bookstore in Toronto with my friends and picked up I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. For some reason I was convinced the book was hard to find. Turns out it really isn’t, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Don’t know what I was thinking. At any rate, the spark of my interest in it was started by a documentary series on science fiction and since I’ve got a copy now and I’m to kindle that interest while it’s still fresh.

Until next week, thank you for reading! I hope you all had a happy holidays.

New Books & Novel Discoveries (December 2018)

For the most part December was an especially light month. Depending on how the Holidays turned out, I might have been presenting only one new book this month. I was fortunate enough to receive some gift cards for Christmas however, which I have already used quite rigorously. Most of those purchases won’t actually be featured in this post, since they haven’t actually arrived yet. Nevertheless, I did manage one good find in the madhouse that was the Indigo at the Eaton Centre in Toronto before I could stand the crowd no longer, and thanks to a Boxing Day sale at a favourite used store of mine (BMV) I got a couple more.

For the last time in 2018, onto the books!Read More »

Top 5 Books I Read in 2018

A sentiment at the moment seems to be that 2018 has felt like a very long year, but honestly I feel like I blinked and we’re at the end of the year. Certain moments throughout the year feel like they happened ages ago, yet it also feels to me like Halloween just happened. Maybe my perception of time is a little skewed right now.

At any rate, here we are once again with my end of the year top five list, presenting the five books I enjoyed reading the most in 2018. They are in no particular order, nor do they need to have come out in this year.Read More »

Book Review – Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Bloodline

Bloodline by Claudia Gray is a standalone Star Wars novel following Princess Leia Organa long after the events of the film Return of the Jedi. Set decades after the fall of the Empire and the birth of the New Republic, Leia has served as a Senator in the unofficial Populist party, who believe member planets should retain full sovereignty over themselves. Their counterparts are the Centrists, who believe in a stronger centralized power in the government with significant military prowess. The story begins at a time when the senate has trouble getting anything done, as these opposing sides spend more time bickering than trying to work together. Years of these divisive politics has left Leia tired and jaded, longing for the days of danger and adventure with her friends and loved ones that was her time in the Rebellion. Resolving to retire at the end of her term, Leia decides to spearhead an investigation into criminal activity disrupting certain worlds as a final deed in service to the galaxy, which begins to unearth a greater threat hiding in the shadows.Read More »