Sunday Salon, 2/16

Sunday Salon

Books

Moby-Dick Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick

Slow week. I’m still working on what I was reading last week. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl did not go back to the library. Also I’m behind on Moby-Dick.

Television

I watched the most recent BBC adaptation of Dracula. It took me a while to realize that the Dracula that was prominently being displayed on my Netflix front page was the Dracula which the UK corner of my internet was talking about back in January.  The splash page just made it feel a little…cheesy. It wasn’t, but it did suffer from some of the same problems as the last season of Moffat and Gatiss’s Sherlock: the confidence that, no matter how deep the plot hole, if you run over it fast enough, no one will lose a tire. That being said, I really did enjoy Claes Bang as Dracula.

But really, I’d rather see two things before I see another Dracula adaptation: Glen Hirshberg’s Motherless Children trilogy get a TV treatment and a series adaptation of Bram Stoker’s life à la Jim Steinmeyer’s Who Was Dracula?

Other Stuff

Still reading on Eric’s PHYSIC series. We’re probably not going to publish this year, but from my point of view (someone reading for smoothness and the occasional additional comma), these books are in darn good shape.

Spring league draft will be this week if not tonight (I doubt it’s tonight), so I’ll have teams and whatnot to post. Kevin, one of the founding members of Valley of the Sun Ultimate Association, has been scanning some of his old papers including community newsletters starting in 1989. I’m going to revamp of our archives to include more than leagues and New Year Fest. It should go fast once I decide how I want to organize everything.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Down the TBR Hole 28

TBRHole

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

Perilous Life of Jade Yeo cover The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho

I just mentioned last week that I’ve read some of Zen Cho’s short fiction and liked it. Also, this is set in the 20s and sounds really fun. KEEP!

Shadows in Summerland Shadows in Summerland by Adrian Van Young

There is something about long summaries that make me lose confidence in a story. A book set in the 1850s with the most famous spirit photographer as a character? There’s no way this should be a GO. But it is.

 

Sharkpunk cover Sharkpunk by Jonathan Green

While I have an appreciation of sharks as very important animals, they are also part of my nightmares. I’ll be KEEPing this anthology of killer shark stories.

Go Figure cover Go Figure: Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know by Tom Standage

Tom Standage wrote one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time: The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine. This book seems like a compilation of lighter, frivolous things, but sometimes you need light and frivolous. KEEP.

alt text The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

Honestly, I’ve always been a little on the fence about this one, though I’ved like many Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher books. I’m not such a fan of marriage-aspected fairy tales. I think I’ll let this one GO.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?

Sunday Salon, 2/9

Sunday Salon

Jumping back in after  a week or two of not much blogging.

Books

Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe The Book of the Damned (Illustrated)

What I’d like to read this week:

  • Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories, edited by Neil Christopher
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe by Ryan North & Erica Henderson – Before it goes back to the library on Tuesday! (Maybe I’ll write some thoughts on Squirrel Girl later in the week.)
  • The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort – My next Classics Club book.

Movies & Television

Started up our NetFlix streaming again. This week I watched Marriage Story (2019), The Invitation (2015), and a season of The Great British Bake-Off which I hadn’t seen, but the winner of the week for me is Train to Busan (2016).

Man, if I keep finding zombie movies I like, I’m going to have stop saying I don’t like zombie movies… This movie is pretty much exactly what my nightmares are like: run and hide, still in immanent danger from a peril I don’t exactly understand, and while the world is pretty much falling apart, the peril is very personal. It sounds punny, but this is such a ride. Scary and surprisingly touching.

Tonight, I will be watching the Oscars, though I haven’t seen too many nominated pictures. It might be going against current talk, but I think Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is going to take home top honors. (Haven’t seen it myself.) In a return to tradition, I’ll be eating brownies as my Oscar “party.”

Other Stuff

I’ll be reading though SOUThErN AlLiaNCe, the fourth book in Eric’s PHYSIC series which he’s been editing. I’m also going to be working on the cover for “Mephisto” the Marvellous Automaton, the next Entangled Tome I’ll be releasing.

Thinking about taking a sketching class.

Getting back into ultimate frisbee after a couple months of our playing being thwarted by weather and health reasons. Spring League starts in a couple weeks and it would be nice if I were back in the swing of things before then.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Down the TBR Hole #27

TBRHole

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

Powers of Darkness cover Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula by Bram Stoker & Valdimar Ásmundsson

I like Dracula. I’ve read it three or four times now, and I think I’ll read again after I finish Moby Dick. Powers of Darkness is the translation back to English of Icelandic writer Valdimar Ásmundsson’s translation (and rewriting) of Stoker’s book. I actually did start to listen to an audio version of this and didn’t care for it, but I might have a different reaction to the text. So, KEEP for now.

Cemeteries by Moonlight cover Cemeteries by Moonlight by Hunter Frost

At some moment in the past, I was in the mood for gothicy, romancy mystery/horror, but this sounds a little too cheesy now. GO.

Sorcerer to the Crown cover Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

I’ve read a few of Zen Cho’s short stories and really enjoyed them. The plot sounds charming. KEEP.

Summer in Orcus cover Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher

I’m sold at “When the witch Baba Yaga walks her house into the backyard” in the blurb. I’m up for anything Baba Yaga. KEEP.

Sublime Dreams cover Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination by Minsoo Kang

I would love to read this book. I just wish the university press that publishes it wouldn’t charge so dang much for it, or allow wider library availability. KEEP because it is a “wish” list, after all.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?

{Book} The Old English Baron

The Old English Baron

The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve

When Sir Philip Harclay returns to England after a long absence, he finds that his childhood friend, Arthur, Lord Lovel, is no longer alive, and that the castle and estates of the Lovel family have twice changed hands. But a mysteriously abandoned set of rooms in the castle of Lovel promises to disclose the secrets of the past. After a series of frantic episodes and surprising revelations, culminating in a trial by combat, the crimes of the usurper and the legitimacy of the true heir are finally discovered. (via Goodreads)

Why Did I Choose This Book?
This was my first Classics Club Spin book.

What Did I Think?
I gotta say, this book was a slog. I read about half and listened to a LibriVox recording of the rest. (Via YouTube, and for a volunteer reader, quite good!)

In Reeve’s introduction, she calls The Castle of Otranto to task.

For instance; we can conceive, and allow of, the appearance of a ghost; we can even dispense with an enchanted sword and helmet; but then they must keep within certain limits of credibility: A sword so large as to require an hundred men to lift it; a helmet that by its own weight forces a passage through a court-yard into an arched vault, big enough for a man to go through; a picture that walks out of its frame; a skeleton ghost in a hermit’s cowl:—When your expectation is wound up to the highest pitch, these circumstances take it down with a witness, destroy the work of imagination, and, instead of attention, excite laughter.

This might be the case when the genre of the gothic novel was new. But, after 200 years of the Scooby-Doo-ification of the gothic, it was the over-the-top absurdity of Otranto that I really enjoyed. So, Reeve isn’t wrong, I guess. But also for a modern reader, to dial back the strange to a very minimal level, it’s just not too compelling. I feel like so much of the gothic genre has become cliche; I could see any plot twist a mile away. I’m a little worried about the other gothic novels on my list.

Original Publishing info: 1778
My Copy: Project Gutenberg & LibriVox
Genre: gothic novel

{Book} Trail of Lightning

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World. (via Goodreads)

Why Did I Choose This Book?
Trail of Lightning was the January pick for the occult detective literature group on Goodreads. I had heard good things about the book in the past and it sounded pretty good. I was especially interested in how this fit into the occult detective sub-genre.

Plot
I haven’t really solidified my thoughts on what might be considered occult detective fiction. Thus far, I think of it more on the detecting end than the action-adventure end, of which this book has a fair share. There was some time spent in a library as Kai sought clues amid oral tales that had been recorded on CD. I really wish these had played a bigger part in Maggie and Kai’s investigation. As it was, the characters felt led around rather than making their own decisions.

Characters
Maggie is a haunted character. She’s been through trauma and a toxic relationship. She not as hard as she lets on. Her relationship with Kai is fraught, and considering her suspicious nature, I’m surprised she couldn’t see what Kai’s true powers were earlier on.

Setting
I have very poor reading comprehension when it comes to book blurbs. I totally missed that the setting of this book was somewhat post-apocalyptic. I kind of wish it wouldn’t have been. I think I would have liked a contemporary fantasy set on the Navajo reservation. It’s is a world I’m not familiar with and I don’t think it needed an extra layer of strangeness. That said, though not a fan of the post-apocalyptic, I found the setting to be the most enjoyable part of this book because of its juxtaposition with the Navajo culture.

Overall
If I read the second book in this series, and I might, it will because of setting. It’s a world I wouldn’t mind spending more time in.

Original Publishing info: Saga Press, 2018
My Copy: Overdrive/Kindle editions from Tempe Public Library
Genre: fantasy

Sunday Salon, 1/19

Sunday Salon

Books

Finished Trail of Lightning. I’ll have something to say about it later in the week.

The Old English Baron Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories

I need to get to work on my Classics Club Spin book, so this week I’m reading The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve. I also have two anthologies to work through: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (from the library) and Taaqtumi, an collection of arctic horror stories.

Movies

Watched two movies this week. The first was Midsommar (2019), Ari Aster’s follow up to Hereditary. It was okay. Visually, it’s fantastic. Plot-wise, it’s slow. That can be a good thing; Midsommar needed to be slow and I wasn’t bored by it. But I also have no strong feelings about it. Considering that it’s a horror movie, that kind of means it wasn’t entirely successful.

The second movie was Fast Color (2019, written and directed by Julia Hart). A few months ago I watched Brightburn, a movie that takes the Superman plot (an alien baby is brought up by rural folks) and skews it to be a supervillain origin story. Fast Color is pretty much the inverse of that movie. Instead of an alien boy willing to flex his powers against those who wrong him, Fast Color is about generations of women who have sequestered themselves to protect both themselves and others. Ruth even wonders if their powers are good for anything at all. But, instead of wanting to crush the world, perhaps the world can be renewed. The ending is maybe a little on the nose, but I enjoyed the experience of this movie.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz