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 – Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Circe is the newest novel by Madeline Miller, published on April 10 of this year. Though not a sequel, this is her second novel exploring the world of Ancient Greek mythology following her first novel The Song of Achilles, which I have yet to have the pleasure of reading myself. I have heard many great things about that book, but being a greater fan of The Odyssey than The Iliad I jumped at the chance to read an in-depth tale about Circe, the alluring goddess and sorceress of Aiaia.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/06/20

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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

JourneyToTheCentreOfTheEarthI’m only about 25 pages in, but I recently started Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne as a lighter read to sure up the numbers for my reading goals this year. I’ve still got a lot of catch-up to do. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the older science fiction and/or adventure fiction I’ve read before, though I believe this is my first time reading one of the “lost world” genre. Since it’s a book first published in the mid 1800s I’m really interested to see how they interpreted worlds like this straight from the source.

GyoI’ve also started reading Gyo by Junji Ito, one of his books that I picked up a few months ago now. I’ve been meaning to get back to reading through those and a friend having read it herself inspired me to pick it up off the shelf. It’s honestly a lot different than what I was expecting, and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I need to see it through to the end first, but some of the nature of the threat is vastly different than what I thought it would be in a way I find less appealing so far.

Recently Finished

CirceOver the weekend I powered through and finished Circe by Madeline Miller. I should have a review up within the next couple of days. I’ve got a few issues with it, but overall I liked the book a lot. Miller is exceptionally talented at faithfully adapting mythology into fiction. I feel like a lot of other media gets really indulgent with the source material, but this I believed as existing in the realm of classical myths through and through. Circe herself was a thoroughly interesting character too, and the changes Miller did make to expand her history and character worked really well.

DoctorAphraAndTheEnormousProfitI also finished reading Doctor Aphra and the Enormous Profit by Kieron Gillen et al, which was a worthy send off for the writer and character’s creator. Aphra organizes a giant auction for the crystal she obtained, which contains the mind of an insane ancient Jedi, and as expected things go awry in spectacular fashion. Something I really love about this series is how little Aphra and her “companions” actually care for one another. When it comes down to it they’re truly out for themselves and I appreciate the commitment to their villainous sides. Darth Vader becomes involved in an awesomely satisfying way as well.

Reading Next

MovingPicturesI don’t intend to take very long with Journey to the Centre of the Earth, so hopefully I will be starting Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett soon, so I can finally continue with the Discworld series. I’m really disappointed with how much I’ve neglected it in 2018 thus far. I’m pretty sure this time last year I had completed two of them already.

Until next time!

WWW Wednesday – 2018/06/13

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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

CirceI am currently about 40 pages into Circe by Madeline Miller and already I can see what a lot of the fuss is about. Part of me was admittedly a bit leery about how the mythology would be adapted, because usually when it is the author or other person with creative control takes a lot of liberties with the material. Reading this so far feels like a direct attempt to try to more closely capture the lives of these godly figures in  prose. It’s especially interesting to me because the myths are literally full of nymphs and I hadn’t really considered what their daily life would look like. Miller gives a really interesting interpretation of that thus far.

Recently Finished

TheLordoftheRingsI finally finished all of The Lord of the Rings! You can read my review of The Return of the King, my third and final review covering the book, here. My status with this book is to blame for the absence of one of these posts last week. I had to travel that weekend, which really threw off my reading plans. I had actually finished the story itself, but I was intent on reading at least most of the appendices, which were full of extended lore. I refused to count to book as finished until I’d read all of it. As a result my post last week would have been pretty much identical to the week before. I’m relieved to finally have it done and moved on to other books, but I did sincerely enjoy the experience.

Reading Next

DoctorAphraAndTheEnormousProfitI’ve listed Doctor Aphra and the Enormous Profit by  Kieron Gillen et al on my currently-reading list on Goodreads, but I haven’t actually started it yet, so I’m definitely picking that up next. I’m only about three volumes away from catching up with the current Star Wars comic books I’m following, which has me pretty excited. I’m just now realizing that this is the last book in the Doctor Aphra series written by the character’s creator. I do hope that Simon Spurrier’s take is faithful.

WWW Wednesday – 2018/05/30

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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

TheLordoftheRingsOh boy am I getting close to finished with The Lord of the Rings. I’ve got less than 100 pages to go of The Return of the King, which for the most part seems to be epilogue material. The Ring has been destroyed, but surprisingly there seems to be a fair amount of story left before this tale finally wraps up. I honestly can’t wait. I’ll be happy to finally be able to say I’ve read it, and more importantly I will be able to move on to other books without feeling like I’ve got unfinished business.  I have started debating whether or not I should read some of the appendices, which seem to fill in some gaps with actual narrative, rather than textbook-style information. We’ll see what I end up doing.

Recently Finished

ScreamingCitadelSince last week I read through The Screaming Citadel by Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, et al. It’s a Star Wars comic book volume that crosses over the main Star Wars series with the Doctor Aphra series. It took things in a weird direction that was stylistically interesting, but also a little boring in terms of plot. The main threat involved parasitic creatures, which is a well-worn path for science fiction. I enjoyed the dynamic between the unseasoned, plucky Luke Skywalker and the manipulative and self-serving Dr. Aphra. There was a good amount of friction and cooperation between the two that made the crossover feel more worthwhile.

Reading Next

MovingPicturesI’ve mentioned numerous times now that I plan to start Circe by Madeline Miller next, which I will hopefully have begun by next week (fingers crossed). I need to travel again this weekend, which may hinder reading progress. I also really need to continue reading the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, which I have neglected in 2018 so far. Next up in the series I need to read is Moving Pictures, which I have fortunately had a copy of for a while. It will simply be a matter of picking it up when I’m ready.

WWW Wednesday – 2018/05/23

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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

TheLordoftheRingsI started The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien last week, so I’m on my way to finally finishing The Lord of the Rings. This volume especially feels like a direct continuation of a story, rather than a new novel continuing a story. I’m finding this lends the most credence—aside from Tolkien’s own word—to the idea that this story really was meant to be a singular novel and not a trilogy. The War for the Ring continues to ramp up at the onset of this book; I don’t think I’ve even 100 pages in and Gondor is already under siege something fierce. It’ll be interesting to see how all of this story is divided up, since my only previous point of reference is the film.

Recently Finished

SkeletonCrewI finally finished reading Skeleton Crew by Stephen King late last week. You can read my full review here. It ended on a surprisingly somber note with a story called “The Reach” about community, family, and reflecting back on a life long lived. It does feature ghosts that may or may not exist, but as a more kindly presence as the main character reckons with her inevitable passing. I mention things to this effect in the review, but I just really appreciate how great of a storyteller King is regardless of genre. His frightening tales are great, but his core strength is the humanity he gives his characters and this is especially evident when he writes stories that are closer to standard fiction.

AphraI also read Aphra by Kieron Gillen et al, which is the first volume of the Doctor Aphra series of Star Wars comic books. The series is a spin-off of Gillen’s run on Darth Vader from 2015-2016, which first introduced the rogue archaeologist to the Star Wars universe. I absolutely loved this book, reminding me why I got into these new comics in the first place. Aphra is a great new character full of charm and positive energy yet borderline sociopathic and usually out for herself. Despite her moral ambiguity she does have a heart too, though it often conflicts with her self-interests. The story itself goes to weird places with the Force as she helps her blackmailing father track down a lost, ancient citadel created by a subset of Jedi.

Reading Next

CirceI’m still planning to read Circe by Madeline Miller next, which should hopefully be soon. I only have a couple hundred pages left of The Return of the King, so in theory I could finish that rather soon. We shall see though. On the comic book front, I’m probably going to read The Screaming Citadel next, which is a crossover comic book between the flagship Star Wars title and Doctor Aphra. Hopefully it holds up to my experience with Aphra.

WWW Wednesday – 2018/04/25

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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

TheLordoftheRingsWhile I’m still technically reading The Lord of the Rings, I’ve finished The Two Towers! You can read my full review here. I invested as much time as I could over the weekend toward finishing it and will be taking another breather before I continue with The Return of the King. The book concluded following Frodo and Sam venturing further into the belly of the beast, which I ended up liking as much as the rest of that book despite my misgivings. What helped was focus being placed more on Sam’s experiences, who makes for a much more flawed yet relatable character than Frodo.

I’ve made no progress on Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. Boo!

TheFirstMenInTheMoonI’ve also started reading The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells, a story of space travel published in 1901. The science is not completely ludicrous, following its own imagined logic based on contemporary understanding, but it is absolutely fanciful at the same time. This is especially the case when you learn the spacecraft was constructed by a handful of guys using a coal furnace. It’s not trying to pass itself off as hard science fiction, though, even by the standards of Wells’ previous work. It’s actually a science romance (not the lovey kind), which I didn’t know until after I started it.

Recently Finished

AliensDeadOrbitI read through Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe late last week, which you can read my full review of here. It didn’t surprise me too much in terms of story; in a lot of ways all Aliens stories are the same, especially if it’s a standalone. Despite this I think it was exceptionally well told, adding its own personal flare to the formula. Stokoe’s art is also really well done, elevating the book from good to great, in my opinion.

Reading Next

CirceI’ve got the next slew of books I want to get through pretty well lined up, but I’m thinking I might read Circe by Madeline Miller, which recently came out, once I’m done with The Return of the King. I haven’t read her debut novel The Song of Achilles yet, but a friend of mine is a big fan of her work and the focus on the character Circe from The Odyssey has got me a lot more interested in this novel.