Wednesday, 29 March 2017

March 2017 — Wrap-Up



Old Favorites

DU

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

TCM

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!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

3 Favorite Authors, 3 Witty Tweets














Check out the other posts in this series!

Friday, 17 March 2017

So, I Finally Read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and Here’s What I Thought…



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The cover was perfect.
On a related note, look at what the author had to say about the whitewashing of her covers.

I loved how the acknowledgments described UAE as “futuristic ancient”.
It is such a perfect description because you get this old feel when you visit the place and then there are those skyscrapers that add a futuristic shade to things. Mostly unrelated but reminded me of how a Pakistani artist imagined our country would like in SF mode! Check it out:

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See more of his art here. Anyway, back to the review:
This is how YAs should go!
I mean there’s this teenager who is running away from home, readying herself to face all kinds of racism, just so she can attend a university. I loved that.

Some thoughts were expressed so beautifully…




I might have been reading too much into it but I could see some parallels.
While talking about cooking fish, Binti mentioned:
they lulled the fish into a sleep that the fish never woke from
It reminded me of two things:
a) The Himba are an animist people, which is why they would be gentle towards any organisms they consumed.
b) How as Muslims we have rules upon rules that minimize the pain of an animal prior to being slaughtered for food.

I loved how Binti’s love and respect for her family would shine through her thoughts. For instance, look at this quote:

Would my family even comprehend it all when I explained it to them?
And then, she followed it with another thought that I wasn’t expecting. She didn’t think they weren’t smart enough to understand why she did what she did. Instead, she said:
Or would they just fixate on the fact that I’d almost died…

I kept imagining the Meduse as the love-child of jellyfishes and Cthulhu though I dunno why! While researching that unholy union, I came across this instead:


To summarize, YA done well, in terms of strong, sensible female lead, making it a must-read for all YA lovers out there.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Unbound was an Unimpressive Anthology Even Though it had 5 Big Names in it! Here's my Review...





Ley Line Drifter by Kim Harrison - A pixy tries to solve a mystery and gets more than he bargained for.
★★ I liked how cute it was but there was a lot of repetition.


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Reckoning by Jeaniene Frost - Bones is asked to hunt a ghoul couple in New Orleans by its Voodoo Queen. Of course, things aren't as they seem.
★★★ I liked the darkness and that Bones was able to carry the story without Cat.

Dark Matters by Vicki Pettersson - Dark & Light come together when agents from the opposite side come together.
★ No surprises.

The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten by Jocelynn Drake - A vampire fights to keep her domain under her control while she is being framed.
★★ Loved the violence, for instance, check out the quote below:

The fledgling was still in the attic, chained to the wall. For a moment, I wondered if I should go up and free, but quickly shook off the thought and got into the car. If she couldn't find a way to free herself, then she would never survive in my world.

but the story lacked cohesion.

Two Lines by Melissa Marr - A glaistig does her best to fight temptation and stay mortal.
★★ I really liked the parts with the glaistig's family but other than that, the story was repetitive and boring. 


Go here to check out more anthologies that I have reviewed!

Friday, 10 March 2017

#BuffySlays20: My Favourite Buffy Episodes that You Won't Find on Most Lists on the 20th Anniversary of the Show!






Everything about Buffy is amazing, except for maybe the outfits as this Twitter account, Bad Buffy Outfits will tell you. Anyway, #BuffySlays20 and every blog/website will be listing the top ten episodes/plot points etc from the series. On most of them you will find mentions of amazing episodes, such as this one, which according to io9:

Hush” was nominated for a writing Emmy, even though it only has 17 minutes of dialogue. That’s all you need to know to understand how groundbreaking this season four episode was. The Gentlemen, some of the show’s creepiest villains, steal everyone’s voices so they can silently steal some hearts, and the Scoobies struggle to express their feelings to each other in the wake of losing something as integral as human communication. A bold and risky episode of TV, the episode ends up saying so much with so little.

and The Body, which according to News.com.au:

“Mummy?” All it took was one word and all of our hearts broke. Buffy finding her mother’s dead body sprawled on the couch, struck down by an all-too-human disease and not anything supernatural was one of the most wrenching Buffy moments. The sequence that followed of her wandering through the house in a daze, with no score and an almost saturated aesthetic brought home the completely uncomfortable truth of human death.

Of course, how can we forget the scene where Buffy kills Angelous in Season 2, which WhatCulture says is one of the iconic moments from the show! The kiss, the music playing in the background (yes, it is one of the ringtones on my phone), it was all heartbreaking!

All these scenes are undoubtedly amazing but the scenes that stayed with me also include those you won't find on such lists. Here are a few of them:

Killed By Death was one of the scariest episodes for me. It doesn't add to the overall theme of the show and the monster seems like a ripoff of on-screen villains, which it was, and yet I liked how it left me...too scared to go to sleep! 

Xander: You don't know how to kill this thing.
Buffy: I thought I might try violence.
Xander: Solid call.


Halloween (Second Season) is another favorite because of so many reasons. Willow was crushing on Xander and felt invisible like the ghost she dressed up as. Xander went as a soldier and the experience that he gains in this episode filters down to us in the future ones. We also get to see what Giles was like before he became so prim & proper.

Willow: Poor Xander. Boys are so fragile. Speaking of, how was your date last night?
Buffy: Misfire. I was late due to unscheduled slayage. Showed up looking trashed.
Willow: Was he mad?
Buffy: Actually, he was pretty unmad. Which probably had something to do with the fact that Cordelia was drooling in his cappuccino.
Willow: Oh, Buffy. Angel would never fall for her act.
Buffy: You mean that 'actually showing up, wearing a stunning outfit, embracing personal hygiene' act?

Helpless is heartbreakingly sad and damn scary! The vampire that Buffy has to fight, Gile's betrayal, the Watchers' Council politics...all of it made one helluva episode. And then there was this:

Angel: I saw you before you became the Slayer.
Buffy: What?
Angel: I watched you, and I saw you called. It was a bright afternoon out in front of your school. You walked down the steps... and... and I loved you.
Buffy: Why?
Angel: 'Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life, I wanted to keep it safe... to warm it with my own.
Buffy: That's beautiful. Or taken literally, incredibly gross.
Angel: I was just thinking that, too.

I don't remember much about Homecoming but what I do remember is that Buffy looked amazing when she dressed up for the event.
I also remember that I fell in love with Oz when he said:
Oz: As Willow goes, so goes my nation.
Band Candy is memorable for me because I can still see Giles & Joyce behaving like two teenagers and smooching in front of Buffy. Funny as heck! I realized how detail-oriented the show's creators must be when I came across this piece of trivia:

The Cream song that Giles and Joyce listen to is played after Joyce's funeral. Giles listens to it in the season five episode "Forever".

Pangs is another favorite because Angel comes back to visit in this episode. I loved everything about the brief return! It is also funny because of what happens to Spike and Xander.
Spike: A bear! You made a bear!
Buffy: I didn't mean to.
Spike: Undo it! Undo it!

Read other quotes here because the humor in this episode was ah-mazing!
As you watch the episode, you try to hate the entity responsible for the sickness and yet can't...
I can't leave Buffy vs. Dracula off this list for the same reason: humor! Of course, Xander would be the Count's choice for a Reinfeld.
Xander: Where is he? Where's the creep that turned me into a spider-eating man-bitch?
Buffy: He's gone.
Xander: Damnit. You know what? I'm sick of this crap. I'm sick of being the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis. As of this moment, it's over. I'm finished being everybody's butt-monkey.
Buffy: Check. No more butt-monkey.






 
Some quips that you'll love:
 
 


Forever makes the list, as well. I loved how Dawn couldn't think ahead of the fact that she wanted her mom back. I also loved how Buffy tried to dissuade her at first and then couldn't help herself. While we never see the Joyce they raised, this was one scary episode for me!


Here are some more scary Buffy moments:
 
 
 

Chosen is both the last episode of the series and on my list. What comes to mind immediately when I think about it is the conversation between Angel & Buffy. It goes something like this but is way funnier to watch. It is also the episode where Anya, one of my most favorite characters on the show, dies trying to save Andrew.
IMDB lists this on the trivia page for this episode and I thought I'd share it before I ended this post:
Buffy's final line in the show is "Spike." Anya's is "Bunnies."