Sunday, 30 April 2017

April 2017 Wrap-Up





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I was mostly happy with this installment. Kate seemed back to her true kickass self. However, her getting together with Curran reminds me of what happened when Kate & Castle finally came together on the show, Castle. Too smooth and too sweet to be real!


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Steven Brust is one of my favorite authors. His books soothe me when things get really rough, which is why I will hoard them until I can’t anymore and have to read them! He is also sweet enough to reply to his readers and followers on Twitter. I forget how to exhale every time he responds to me though!

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This book featured twin Frankenstein brothers. One of the quotes that stayed with me:
I looked at my brother. I often had the uncanny feeling that I was waiting for his show of emotions so I could better know my own.

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Betsy continues to be her clueless self yet manages to kick butt. For all the times that everyone around her sells her short, she still defeats the bad guys all by herself.


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Okay, how do I describe my issues with this book? It wanted you to think it was doing something new or unique but it wasn’t. It is the same YA formula where someone utterly powerful has been waiting for our heroine for thousands and thousands of years. Our heroine kept finding things that were supposedly untouched by anyone else yet in places that are very likely to be discovered. The story couldn’t make up its mind about whether it wanted to be YA or adult. And then, we find out that she is the reincarnated version of one of the three main deities. So, not a good fit for me.


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This one took me by surprise. The writing is disjointed to the extreme and yet it as musical as one of the characters in it who can only speak in music! It also involved a multiracial same sex couple but the romance didn’t sound made up. One of the characters wasn’t almost feminine despite their talking the way they did. I mean if someone can pull that off, I’d want to read other things written by them. The guy talked in musical notes, y’all! Anyway, I liked the book and everything about it, except for the ending, which was a letdown. I needed more!

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Gah, don’t even get me started on this one. The only reason I’m continuing to read this book is because I want to finish the series. It is one thing to ask the reader to suspend their disbelief, it is something completely different to ask them not to use any kind of logic at all. I mean, the woman has been mind-raped for a decade and one day with our hero is enough to undo all of that. I get that she feels safe with him but dude! Then there’s also this issue of the evolution of the series. It isn’t like there is no evolution. It just isn’t happening fast enough. Let’s see how I stick with this series and the spinoff that has made its appearance on the bookstands.

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I am reading this one for Work Bingo since I rolled the dice to a Based on a Myth shelf.

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Officially, I’ve started reading this one since you will find it on my TBR. However, I have yet to finish even a chapter. Luckily, I did find a copy at the Liberty Book Bazaar this month and I think I’d be more likely to finish this gargantuan volume with a physical copy in my hands. More about my book booty for this month in this post.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Book Booty Plundered in April 2017


 



I shopped in two batches this month:

Liberty Book Bazaar

This is the haul I ended bringing home from the bazaar:

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While I don’t mind searching for the books in the piles that are dumped on tables in Liberty, I do mind that the collection gets worse and worse every month. I had to do a lot of digging before I ended up with these baubles. The amount of digging has been increasing with each bazaar. In the past, I have defended it when people said that you can’t find any good books there because I did, time and time again. Now, I’m not so sure!

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I have yet to read anything by Kim Stanley Robinson, which means this might be the wrong book to start with. I’m going to give it a shot anyway, which is why I bought this.

The Thursday Next series is amazeballs as Icky will tell you. Like what she had to say? Read more of her musings here. I’m slowly collecting all the books in the series. This is such a pretty cover!

My reasons for buying Shogun can be found here.

Roth, Snicket, and the Irish Fairytales Omnibus all looked really interesting!

A look inside the minds that thought up Narnia & Middle Earth? Sign me up!

This will make me stick to my plan of reading more Non-fic. I thought if I started with books on subjects that interested me, success will be more likely.

I loved Night by Elie Wiesel and wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by.

Kitabain

This online site continues to kick ass. It has an amazing collection of sci-fi/fantasy books, which is the only tab that I click on while there anyway. I mean, I found this gem on the site! They are prompt in delivering the books unlike some stores I know. They will never change the price of a book either. The rider will text you before leaving and if you mention a specific time for delivery, they will agree to it without any extra charges. The books are all reasonably priced. If I didn’t love going to bookstores and physically picking out the babies, I’d do all my book shopping from here. The only caveat that continues to be irksome is that often a book will be shown as available when it isn’t. I don’t like it!

Here’s my haul from Kitabain for this month:

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The two Douglas Adam’s are so beautiful that they make me want to cry! I have already read the first one in the series, so I just had to get the next two.

The two Frank Herberts are also the next parts in the Dune series that I need to read. These might be paperbacks but they’re in awesome condition as promised by the bookseller. My buddy read with Weird Enough can be found here.

The next couple consists of two compilations of sci-fi stories and I love how I get to sample the work of an author by reading a short story by them. It helps me decide if I want to try a novel written by that author or not. Also, one of them had a story by Clifford Simak and since I recently read and fell in love with his book, All is Grass, I was like:

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Then there are Asimov and Aldiss who are basically must-reads if you are into sci-fi, so I HAD to buy those. Right? Also, I loved Asimov’s Bicentennial Man and mention him here in my new short story for Wringo Ink.

Abercombie is an author that I have been wanting to try for a while now. Friends who like the kind of stuff that I do swear by him, so I thought what the heck!

For my previous book shopping posts, go here, here, and here.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A Slightly Feminist Installment in Project Frankenstein in the form of My Frankenstein by Michael J. Lee.











So far, I've read about Frankenstein's twin brother whom he tried to save but couldn't, which lead to the events of the original version.

I have also come across his twin daughters, one of whom was curious enough to continue with his work.

And, this last book that I read mentioned him to be a champion of Industrial Revolution, trying to force a small town into the modern world.

What is evident in the Frankenstein family tree is there is a dark thread running through it, which appears in all its members!

What I Liked About My Frankenstein


The refreshing way Frankenstein acted to Eva's intelligence. It didn't matter to him if she was a girl. What made her beautiful to him was her mind. In fact, there was one scene where he sees Eva and her very beautiful friend together. Even then, Eva's beauty calls out to him while the friend he dismisses as an Amazon. That isn't to say that Amazons weren't awesomesauce. It is simply how Victor thinks because to him, brute strength is for mentally inferior people.

The "monster", Adam, is as innocent as the original monster. He also retained the stubborn nature and had a way with words. All of it kept the true spirit of the original alive.

Some of the words that stood out to me:

It's in that moment you discover that you never really cared about benefiting mankind. What you did, you did for yourself. To stand on the mountaintop and look down on mankind. The mortal sin of pride.

These words were spoken by Igor who assisted Victor in his quest and later came to regret it.

Maybe I feel nothing because I am nothing. Or am I nothing because I feel nothing?

Spoken by Adam, these words made me sad. They stem from all the brainwashing that Victor had done on the poor creature, even going as far as to tell him he wasn't even a thing, let alone a man!

What I didn't Like About My Frankenstein


There wasn't any depth to the story. I don't know why it felt that way to me. It could be the sequence of events, which wasn't surprising at all. It could also be how Eva behaved towards Frankenstein, which was again no surprise. It might be the ending as well, which doesn't fit in with the rest of the novel.

So, this is how the project stands now

  1. Parent Material: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. Others' Take: The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein by Stephen Jones
  3. Historical Retakes: Anno Frankenstein by Jonathan Green
  4. Genre Spins: Steampunk: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by Zdenko Basic
  5. Young Adult Forays: Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
  6. Sci-Fi Pastiche: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
  7. Philosophical Entree: Frankenstein and Philosophy by Nicholas Michaud
  8. Series Picker-Uppers: The Second Birth of Frankenstein by Will Hill
  9. Prequels: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
  10. Precipitating Conditions: The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Montillo
  11. Character Spotlight: My Frankenstein by Michael J. Lee
  12. Technological Difficulties: Frankenstein's Cat by Emily Anthes
  13. Changed Perspectives: Frankenstein's Monster by Susan Heyboer O'Keefe
  14. Graphic Detail: Monster Of Frankenstein by Dick Briefer, David Jacobs, Alicia Jo Rabins Edwards
     



I'm now reading, Undead and Unworthy, by MaryJanice Davidson.



 It is a part of the Undead series, which is a whole lot of fun. Give it a try, if you like Vampire Queens who have a killer sense of fashion and not much brains! I still love how she deals with being easily distracted and doesn't let it stop her from doing the right thing. It awes me that people constantly underestimate her and yet she just does her thing.




Because Tor has a re-read going on and I've been meaning to read it for a long time:




I will end this post with a Frankenstein joke:



Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Status of Project Frankenstein & Other Updates




Reading Goal


I have completed half of the goal that I set for myself this year. Really happy that I'm getting some reading done even with life being as crazy as it is.



Project Frankenstein


I have finished 8 out of the books that I originally included in the post. Right now, I'm reading My Frankenstein, which is fun. Frankenstein & Philosophy remains abandoned even now. It isn't just dry; it is also repetitive, which makes it even worse!


Book Bingo



Besides this, I am also playing Book Bingo with my workmates. At the moment, I'm reading a book for the Myth-Based shelf




this is the progress that I've made so far:






Wringo Ink.




As you guys know, we started a Writing Bingo game at work, as well. So far, I've written a short story in the Romance genre, one with a Philosophical twist, and a play! Now, I'm writing a story that starts with a certain phrase. The phrase was chosen by our long-suffering readers and goes like, "Once upon a time, sharks flew across the sky."




Booklikesopoly


As if I don't have enough things going, I am so tempted to start this game. If I do, I think I'll let it extend beyond May 2017 because I want to finish as many books off my TBR as I can! I have already rolled the dice for the first time and got 7 viz.


and I'm thinking of reading this one because I haven't had a chance to read it yet:



Five Exercises for Writing Stronger Narrative Personality


I think I'll be starting with this one and take my time to finish writing about each personality:

Exercise 1: Free Write


"Take three personalities, and spend fifteen minutes free writing in their voice. You can write about absolutely anything – what you ate for breakfast, which elder god will swallow the world, or what the character’s life is like – as long as you do it with their personality".

I want to start with, A cultist on the edge of losing their soul to an elder god, because it sounds very Malazan-esque and really cool!


The Missing Slate Contest


A short story content that I will be participating in. Here are the details:




The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction


The daddy of all awards and I want to participate in this one. The deadline is mid of May and I kept thinking I had time but now April's almost gone and I'm panicking. I have the beginnings of an idea but I don't yet know how to pull it off. Moreover, the idea tells me that the story is going to be Military SciFi/Fantasy. I might have read books in this genre but writing a story seems impossible.


Stick along for the ride & I promise, I'll keep you posted!
Original post: miduhadi.booklikes.com/post/1553255/the-status-of-project-frankenstein-other-updates

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Wringo — A Story of 3 Readers Who Wanted to Read and 5 Writers Who Wanted to Write for Them






It all began when we were slogging through yet another round of Bingo. The dice was rolled at work and the category, Out of Your Comfort Zone, caused us much discomfort.

While reeling from having received the news that we’d be reading a book that we won’t normally choose, Qurat, thought she’d share an idea with us.

The idea was for us to combine writing and bingo where 5 of us who loved telling would write a story based on the genre dictated by a dice roll. Read this post for details on who you’d find on the writers’ team and the ladies who’d be reading their work.

Go here to find out more about how Wringo (Writing Bingo) works. So far, we have made it through four rounds. I have been a part of 2 of them.

One of my stories was an unusual “Romance” while the other was for the “Philosophy” round. They can be found here and here. Since we decided to keep the length of the stories between 300-1000 words, it won’t take long for you to sample them.

If you have any questions about #wringo or want to join in on the fun, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

March 2017 — Wrap-Up



Old Favorites

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Dune (Re-Read)

I’ve covered this book in too much detail to add anything here. Well okay, I’ll just leave this joke here:


Check out the final review instalment here.

New Delights

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Coraline

Coraline is a book that I would have loved to read as a kid. It is full of Dahl-esque quirkiness…okay, who am I kidding? I loved it even as an adult! Two of my favorite quotes:
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Binti

Read my detailed review here.


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I dunno what to say about this book, except that it had nothing and everything in it! I wanted to pick it up as soon as I got off work and I didn’t want to put it down. The plot is simple and straightforward. The author hasn’t weighed it down with complicated science. You can see where the events are leading up to and yet… I am still ambivalent about the ending but I guess, I’ll just let it sink in for a bit before I come to a decision. This was my first Simak book and I can’t wait to gobble everything else by him!

P.S. The cover has NOTHING to do with what goes on in the book. 


Holocaust Horrors

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The Complete Maus

This comic will just mess you up and yet, you’d be unable to put it down. Just look at how beautifully it portrays the impact of the dreadful event on not just the parents who experienced it but also on their kids who had to live with it:

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New Additions to Old Favorites

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Saga Vol.5.

Saga continues to be its beautiful, painful self. I’ve stopped thinking that the story is going anywhere. I just read it because I can’t not read it! Some of the artwork:

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More Weird Customers Say in Bookshops

 The first one was wayyyyy funnier.



New but Okayish

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The Lady Killer

Beautifully drawn but lacks anything that’d make it stand out!  I don’t think I will be continuing.



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Bag Lady

According to GRRM, this book is the first ever short story written in the Wild Cards series. However, it wast published as a part of the series, which had already changed and evolved.

I loved this nod towards Asimov:
“What are your orders?”
“To obey my creator, Dr. Maxim Travineck. To guard his identity and well-being. To test myself and my equipment under combat conditions, by fighting enemies of society. To gain maximum publicity for the future Modular Men Enterprises in so doing. To preserve my existence and well-being.”
“Take that, Asimov”, Travineck said.

He uncorked the bottle of vodka and raised the bottle on high in a toast.
“New Prometheus,” he said, “my ass.”

and this witty repartee:
“I am beginning to realize, said the android, raising a hot buttered rum to his lips, that creator is a hopeless sociopath.”
Black Shadow cnsidered this, “I suspect, if you don’t mind a touch of theology, this just puts you in the boat with the rest of us,” he said.


Unbound

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Read my review here.

A good month that was full of reading, I’d say. How was was your March reading-wise?

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Weirding It Out with Weird Enough: Dune Re-Read Update #4


 

Brief Recap:

1. Paul & Jessica finally meet Fremen, Stilgar's clan, who are about to kill them but are convinced to take them along. This decision is due to convergence of multiple factors, including Kyne's (who is the Liet) last decree to the Fremen, Jessica's sharp mind, BG myth-seeding, Fremen legends, the duo's weirding ability to fight etc.

2. Kyne is left to die in the desert by Harkonnen and takes part in a huge info dump before he kicks it. The main idea behind that dump and what Stilgar lets on to mother & son is that the Fremen are slowly amassing enough water to change the face of Arrakis. It won't happen in a day, it won't even happen in their time, but the world'd better watch out when it does!

3. We meet Paul's future intended, Chani, who is also Kyne's daughter & Stilgar's niece. Paul struggles with the pressure of the impending bloody future, crippling presence of prescience, and killing a person not because his life was in danger but because the Fremen was an idiot! The Fremen's wife and two sons are now under his care and will remain so for at least a year. His legend continues to grow and overshadow what he is trying to do.

4. Jessica enters into a whole ritual back at the Fremen settlement and walks out irreversibly changing her unborn daughter and with the memories of the previous Reverend Mothers.

5. Harkonnen is his evil, loathsome self but Feyd isn't a lightweight either. Then there is the emperor who is trying to make things uncomfortable for the both of them.

6. Of the Atreides can, Idaho is dead, Hawat has been employed by Harkonnen (and seems to be driving a wedge between the Duke & his nephew), & Halleck is on board a Guild ship along with a few of his men.

Find the rest of the review here, here and, here.

This time, we started at the beginning of the third book and read all the way to the end.


A summary of what happened:


1. Paul kicks Harkonnen, Guild, and Royal ass and takes over the world!

My Thoughts


Wow! I thought there wasn't that many pages left for all that to happen and I could not have been wrong. When I think back on everything that happened, it seems as if the author first intended Dune to be just one novel and not a sweeping series. I mean, that could be the reason behind packing so much of action in the last third of a novel that was not too thick to begin with.

This part of the story was filled with amazing lines that made my eyes pop out quite a few times.
Consider the time when Paul faced 3 Sardaukars and refused to be cowed, instead saying:




and these two ver different interactions with Gurney:



Surprisingly, after all the doom and gloom, this part seemed lighter to me, even though it had a climactic battle etc. For instance, we find out that Paul tried to go where even Reverend Mothers are scared of stepping. This is the conversation between Jessica and Chani while they stand over Paul's head and argue:

"How could you do such a foolish thing?
He is your son", Chani said.

Then, there were some deep insights that we hear from Paul as he evolves and becomes wiser. Thinking about Sardaukar, he muses:

They'd never known anything but victory which, Paul realized, could be a weakness in itself.

Saddened about Stilgar's awe and obedience for the Lisan al-Gaib, Paul thinks:

It was a lessening of the man, and Paul felt the ghost-wind of the jihad in it.
I have seen a friend become a worshipper, he thought.

We also see changes in Paul's and Jessica's characters and it was amazing to read how far they've come. Paul still has some of the bitterness towards how his mother treated him. When she asks him about the many legends that the Fremen believed about him, he scoffs at her and replies:

"A Bene Gesserit should ask about legends?" he asked.
"I've had a hand in whatever you are", she admitted.

The admission from Jessica isn't the only evidence that she has changed. She doesn't know if she wants to leave this harsh planet and go back to a life of opulence. Moreover, at one point, she gives Paul her blessings that he should marry out of love and not to make a political match.

So Shipping These Two!

She even starts to equate herself with Chani:

While we, Chani, we who carry the name of concubine -- history will call us wives.

Weird Enough's Musings


Yes, I missed writing the last review. Guilty as charged. But now that I have finished Dune, I CAN FANGIRL PROPERLY! HOW AMAZING WAS THIS!!! Why, WHYYY had I not read this before! I will be forever grateful to my book dealer, aka Midu, for showing me the right path in the literary world.

Sooo, starting after Leto dies, we see Paul showing signs of the Kwisatz Haderach (but of course we knew that). The shocking thing was how quickly he grew from being a smart kid to understanding fully what he had become. His BG training and the fact that he was a Mentat combines to give him skills to see possibilities in the future. It makes him, as he says, “a freak.” (That right there broke my heart when he says that). It’s not fair for someone so young to see all the different ways that he can die.

Anyway, Paul moves on to become lead the badass Fremen while the Lady Jessica becomes the Reverend Mother. But, in the process, she shares the knowledge and memories with the fetus inside her. The girl who is then born is not a normal child, and many Fremen women are afraid of the way she carries herself like an adult—which, technically, she is.

I think I should mention here that I simply LOVED the details that made this book so real. The politics, the religion, the layered meaning of words, the ecology and how the Fremen adapted to it, the Shai Hulud and how it fits into the ecology, the weapons, the stillsuits—EVERYTHING! I loved how it all came together so perfectly (this was mainly why I actually Googled “How long did it take Frank Herbert to write Dune?” I just couldn’t believe that so much detail could be put into a book that has been worked on for a couple of years. Just for reference: it took Herbert six years).

Okay so back to the story. I appreciate how Paul takes the lead, even beating his own mother when it comes to observing a situation and handling it like a pro. His relationship with Chani was very sweet. I love how he cares for the Fremen and chooses another way when he is pressured to kill Stilgar.

The Baron’s death scene was great in the sense that with all the build-up of his schemes and villainy, his death wasn’t so special after all (what I mean is that we don’t see him thrashing and twisting away in agony as a typical book villain is usually “supposed” to when he is being killed). He loses what respect he had in front of the Emperor, and before he gets a chance to even take it back, Alia (Paul’s sister) kills him with a gom jabbar.

The Siblings Together

The fight between Paul and Feyd-Rautha was super-satisfying. :D I was all DIE YOU LITTLE BITCH during the fight (it is really, really, really difficult to keep a straight face, and not make any noise when you are reading the most exciting parts while commuting, just so you know).

The bonding at the end between Chani and Jessica hits you. Jessica doesn’t approve of Chani, mainly because her BG training keeps her thinking that she is not the right match for Paul—that he should be married to someone with a higher lineage. Her views change when Chani essentially saves Paul’s life. And when Paul sees Princess Irulan (the daughter of the Emperor) as the key to his success in the future, and plans to marry her, Chani becomes insecure.


This probably reminds Jessica of her own position as the Duke’s concubine, and the book ends with this powerful quote:

“Think on it, Chani: the princess will have the name, yet she'll live as less than a concubine - never to know a moment of tenderness from the man to whom she's bound. While we, Chani, we who carry the name of concubine - history will call us wives.”

Okay, since this is going to be the last instalment, here's all the fun stuff that I came across:

Make Sandworm Bread Today!

The Gummy-Worm World of Dune

Make your own Maker Hooks

And an interview with Frank Herbert himself in which he discusses the ecology of the world that he created!


We had an amazing time with this re-read. We hope you did too! Keep checking this spot to find out, if we do decide to continue with the other books in the series or not!