WWW Wednesday – 2017/08/02

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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

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyCosmicAvengersCoverHaving just finished a number of books I’m taking things a little lighter with some Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis et al before I get back to some lovely walls of text. I’m only a couple of issues into the volume but I’m liking it a lot so far. I have to keep reminding myself character backstories are different from the movies, but the two interpretations are rather close to each other so it doesn’t throw things too much. I especially like that it has started to confront how insanely frequent cosmic threats are on Earth, and in turn shows how uncanny and even dangerous the planet looks to Galactic community.

Recently Finished

AssaultOnNewOlympusI finished reading the final two Incredible Hercules volumes I had, The Mighty Thorcules and Assault on New Olympus by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente et al. The former was a fun romp with Hercules along with meaningful plot development from Amadeus Cho. The latter was a worthy conclusion (though it’s not quite the last volume as it turns out) with everything that’s been building throughout the series finally coming together into a showdown of Olympic proportions.

I also finally concluded Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones and posted a review yesterday if you want to check out my thoughts in depth. It became a bit of a chore to read so much of it at once, but Jones’s insight was utterly valuable nonetheless. Though some details are repeated a lot, her history is fascinating as well. I only regret that I’m not yet a bigger fan of her work.

TheOldManAndTheSeaCoverLastly, within a span of eight hours I read through The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I know that’s no spectacular feat, it’s only 100 pages long, but I was proud of myself for sticking with that personal challenge all the same. The dialogue at the start felt a little rigid to me, but once it gets into Santiago’s struggle with the marlin things really pick up. I especially admire his determination to succeed mixed with reverence for nature and the animal itself, as well as the regret that can come with pursuing something so formidable to its death.

Reading Next

PyramidsI’m determined to get through the six volumes of Guardians of the Galaxy I picked up, so expect to see those here in the future. I’ve also decided to continue onward through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The next book shall be Pyramids, the seventh novel in the series. I’m interested to see how he produces a more standalone novel, unlike those previous which are parts of sub-series that continue throughout Discworld. I won’t be surprised if this novel has it’s connections and Easter eggs too, though.

Book Review – Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones

Summary

This collection of more than twenty-five critical essays, speeches, and biographical pieces chosen by Diana Wynne Jones before her death in 2011 is essential reading for the author’s many fans and for students and teachers of the fantasy genre and creative writing in general. The volume includes insightful literary criticism alongside autobiographical anecdotes, revelations about the origins of the author’s books, and reflections about the life of an author and the value of writing for young people.

ReflectionsOnTheMagicOfWritingCover

I find it regrettable that I hadn’t read more of Diana Wynne Jones’ novels before reading Reflections: On the Magic of Writing. I’m a fan of hers, but perhaps not that good at being one. I’ve read Howl’s Moving Castle twice — which I find superior to the Studio Ghibli film — and about half of the sequel Castle in the Air, which I did not finish for reasons separate from the book itself. I’m also familiar with her book The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land, which I love for its jabs against the clichés and overused tropes found in the Fantasy genre. It’s a small amount of her work, but her writing always drew me in and I got a good sense of her style. This is what inspired me to pick up this collection, which I came across in a Dollar Tree of all places.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2017/07/26

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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

Regrettably, I have not made any progress on Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones. I just didn’t really make time for it over the last week, so I’m resolving to finish with it by next week. I like having supplemental readings, but it does reach a point where I feel I’ve been on them for too long and I must push through.

TheMightyThorculesOtherwise, I just started reading The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, et al. I’m only a couple of issues into the volume, which have only introduced the different stories going on. Hercules, along with Zeus who is now a child with no memory, is tricked into pretending to be Thor to help fight dark elves (it has yet to be revealed why) and Amadeus Cho is in a strange small town taken over by what appear to be glowing space brains. The series has been a lot of fun thus far and this volume doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint. I especially like how petty Herc is when comparing himself to Thor.

Recently Finished

SistersBrothersCoverI finished reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt over the weekend and posted a review yesterday. I think I still like Undermajordomo Minor best of his novels, though this one is definitely close behind it. It ended up being much more of an odyssey than I expected, with the duo’s story being a lot more about the strange people, turns of fortune, and encounters they have on their way from Oregon City to Sacramento. Going in I expected it to be more about the developments that take place after they find their mark, but that’s really more of a chapter in the journey.

Reading Next

DarkDiscipleI still intend to read The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway over the next week, and I will probably read the final Incredible Hercules volume I own as well so I can shelve that series finally. I’ve also realized it would be a good idea for me to read Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden relatively soon. I bought it a while ago just to have it, but I’ve actually restarted watching the series The Clone Wars (after I got frustrated with its donkus chronology last year). As it turns out this novel was meant to be an eight episode story arc before the series was cancelled, so once I finish the series I’m going to dig right into this book, which I’m much more enthusiastic about now.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/07/19

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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

ReflectionsI’ve made a small amount of progress with Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones. I’m starting to notice information getting repeated, such as her being forbidden from reading “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” from The Wind in the Willows. It’s a collection of speeches and essays from over the course of her career, though, so I don’t fault it. The last three chapters I read actually delved deeper into writing advice and her approach to it. I’m happy to find yet another big-name author discouraging the creation of massive outlines for novels, in favour of a more flowing creativity, as the idea of crafting one myself sounds a bit agonizing.

SistersBrothersCoverI’ve been reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt as well, which I had actually hoped to finish by now, but life got a little in the way. Nevertheless, I’m enjoyed the book quite well. While very much a Western, it feels literary too. The story of these two brothers so far has been a strange odyssey of violence and quirky encounters. The one brother, Charlie, seems more deplorable, but at times Eli (the other brother and narrator) seems more unstable than he lets on. At just over halfway through, I’m excited to see where the story is heading.

Recently Finished

PrincessLeiaCoverOver the weekend I read Star Wars: Princess Leia, the Marvel Comics miniseries by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson. It takes place just after the destruction of the Death Star in A New Hope, telling the story of Leia rallying together surviving Alderaanians from around the Galaxy in an effort to preserve the legacy of her destroyed world. It was a fun little side-story that wasn’t really needed, but gave another opportunity to see the iconic princess in action. There’s also a nice little moment of Force-sensitivity on her part that nods to her true heritage.

DeathCoverI also read Death by Neil Gaiman et al, the spin-off from The Sandman series also by Gaiman. The book collects various one-shot issues about the character Death, as well as the two previously separate miniseries about her. They tell wonderfully poignant and sentimental stories about life and death, as well as continuing to show the lives of some of the characters that appeared in The Sandman: A Game of You, a surprise that made it all the better.

Reading Next

TheOldManAndTheSeaCoverI’ve definitely got a lot of comic books lined up for reading, such as some digital volumes of Guardians of the Galaxy, a couple more Star Wars volumes, Paper Girls, and Incredible Hercules. Can’t really say which I will read next, but I want to get through all of these and more this summer.

Otherwise, on a trip to the bookstore the other week I got some classic novels, 3 for $10, one of which was The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Since it’s rather short I might knock that out sometime soon, so at least one of these books doesn’t gather dust after being impulsively purchased.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/07/12

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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

ReflectionsI’m still in the middle of Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Dianna Wynne Jones. It fell to the wayside during most of my reading time since last week, so I didn’t get much further along in it, which I’m okay with for the moment since it’s meant to complement what I more strongly focus on. An essay of particular note was about her realization of responsibility to a reading audience of children, particularly in regards to opening up imagination; considering what you thought otherwise not possible. In doing so she derides other authors (unnamed) who reduce their characters’ journeys to mere flights of fancy, where in the end they escape into fantasy had no bearing on reality. It was a fascinating angle to consider.

Recently Finished

LovecraftCountryCoverI’m happy to say I finished reading Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Though not perfect, it was a great novel that I’m sure I’ll be recommending to anybody who asks about a new book to read. I didn’t mention this in my review, so I want to take a moment to gush about the binding of the book. Not only is it’s artistic style made to look like a pulpy horror novel from the 1950s, but the texture feels gritty as well. Part of its design makes it look worn too, as if it’s been sitting in a used bookstore for a long time, having changed who knows how many hands.

Reading Next

PaperGirlsVol1Like I said last week, I plan to start reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt any day now. I really liked Undermajordomo Minor and the unorthodox style of Ablutions was certainly memorable, so I’m hopeful I will really like this novel as well.

Otherwise, I intend to get through some comic book trades that I’ve been stockpiling lately. Fortunately for the sake a space most of them are digital editions. It’s hard to say which I’ll start first, but I’ve got some Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy volumes on my tablet that should do just fine. I also picked up volumes one and two of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn, which I also want to start to broaden by comic book horizons a little.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/07/05

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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

LovecraftCountryCoverMaking good on my plans for the last few weeks, I’ve been reading Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. I’m currently a little over halfway through and it’s almost everything I’d hoped it would be. It doesn’t lean quite as much on the horror aspects of it as I would like, but they’re very real and very present. Though not literally from the pages of Lovecraft’s works, there are certainly eldritch forces at play. This includes a stand-out encounter with a racist ghost, a sequence which I found marvelous in how it shifted the tone and how the character dealt with it. The racism of Jim Crow America is the most impactful part, made all the more horrific by the reality of it all. It blends with the horror genre superbly.

ReflectionsI’ve also been reading Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones, though I’ve more bit dipping in and out of it, reading an entry here and there. It’s different from what I expected, as they’re essays, letters, articles, she’s written or taken a part of over the course of her entire life. It’s more of a bringing together of existing writings she’s done than anything new, though I think they’d a lot more hard to track down outside of this book. Her insight into writing for children, as well as her experience writing for adults by contrast, is quite valuable. Nothing is explicitly written as writing advice, but in their own way provide worthwhile insight into understanding the structure and formation of narrative.

Recently Finished

Nothing yet, but I’m working on it!

Reading Next

SistersBrothersCoverDespite other books brought up in past posts, I think I will read The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt next. I’ve had a copy for a few years now, and jotted it down among other books at the beginning of 2017 to get through by year’s end. A lot of the fiction I’ve been reading has been in the realms of fantasy, science fiction, and horror lately too, so I think a more grounded book will be a nice change of pace. I know it’s a Western, so I’m not stepping all that far out of genre fiction, but I love it here, dang it.