Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week in Review (34) and Short Story Sunday - Week 3

Random Thoughts

September is feeling like a month where I am reading a lot, but not seeming to accomplish much to show for it. It is frustrating me! I think it is because I have read three books that I really enjoyed this month and it is making everything else dull in comparison, so I am having a hard time getting caught up in the books. I also think that I am probably doing fine reading-wise, but there is just so much else that I want to read and I can't do everything... Hopefully for the last week of the month I can chill out a bit and just have fun!

Challenge News

I finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and A Tale Dark & Grimm for the R.I.P. Challenge. Then, I finished The Fellowship of the Rings which is perfect for the R.I.P. Challenge, too. The Poison Eaters is for the Short Story Peril. Prince of Thrones also turns out to work for the challenge.

Weekly Reads

205. A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (Completed September 18, 2011)
206. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Completed September 21, 2011)
207. The Lord of the Rings: Volume 1 by J.R.R. Tolkien (Completed September 22, 2011)
208. The Poison Eaters: And Other Stories by Holly Black (Completed September 22, 2011)
209. Prince of Thrones: Book One of The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence (Completed September 23, 2011)
Weekly Posts

New Additons

Still waiting for one more book from my birthday loot...

84, Charing Cross Road (movie)
Blameless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill
Extensions by Myrna Dey

Nothing this week...

Nothing this week...

Short Story Sunday - Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman - Week 3
In the introduction to Neil Gaiman's short story collection -- a wildly diverse assortment of horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy, poetry, and speculative fiction -- he explains the book's title: "Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks."
Noteworthy selections in this undeniably exceptional collection include the Hugo Award winning "A Study in Emerald," which deftly blends Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's late-19th-century England with gruesome Lovecraftian horror; the Locus Award winning "October in the Chair"; an homage to Ray Bradbury that features the months of the year personified; and "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," a tale featuring two oversexed teenagers from an all-boys school in South London who stumble into a party full of what they take to be hot chicks but are in reality alien tourists! Also included are a brilliant American Gods novella ("Monarch of the Glen") and "Strange Little Girls," a series of, well, strange very short stories that first appeared in a Tori Amos tour book.

Like his previous short story collection (1998's critically acclaimed Smoke and Mirrors), Gaiman's Fragile Things is anything but; this is a powerhouse compilation that proves once again that Gaiman is a true master of short fiction. It's fitting that he dedicates this collection to three short story icons -- Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Sheckley.
This is the third week of the read-along of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman as part of the R.I.P VI challenge.

Stories Read This Week:
'Going Wodwo'
'Bitter Grounds'
'Other People'
'Keepsakes and Treasures'

'Going Wodwo'
Let's face it, I don't like poetry. I was going to write about this post and I had absolutely no memory of what this was about. I didn't even remember it was a poem until I looked the story up in the collection. I just seem to have a block when it comes to poetry and Neil Gaiman isn't have much luck convincing me otherwise...

'Bitter Grounds'
This is a strange story. A man walks away from his own life and finds himself choosing to live someone else's. On the other hand, he could be dead. I really am not sure what to think of this story. It just seemed rather silly to me and I couldn't really get into it.

'Other People'
This story was just plain creepy. It does take place in the afterlife. It is a very dark story and I am not sure I overly enjoyed very much. I am not crazy about stories where people are tortured. The main character has to tell the truth of his life before he can go free, but then it seems like when he does go free he becomes the torturer. It was a messed up story...

'Keepsakes and Treasures'
Of the four stories read this week, I think this one was probably the only one I can honestly say I liked. Once again a creepy story, but I enjoyed it for the most part. There was one aspect of it that I could have done with out, but it helps explain just how evil Mr. Alice is and how he has human, well, maybe not human, needs just like everyone else. I was mostly interested in Mr. Smith and how he became the character that he is. I understand he appears again in the collection and Gaiman says in the introduction that that there will probably be more from Smith in the future. I could do without Mr. Alice, but Mr. Smith is intriguing.

I have to admit I am pretty 'meh' about these four stories this week. I just didn't like them for th most part and they didn't make a huge impact on me. Hopefully my post next week will be more interesting!


  1. Overall what did you think of Jonathan Strange? I would love to read it but every time I look at it I blanch at its doorstop size. LOL. I need to get over that.

  2. Can't wait to see your review of Jonathan Strange. I am very jealous that you've now finished it while I still have it unfinished on my shelves. :)

    As you know from my post this week's stories were not my favorites. I do suspect that you might like the upcoming poem, Instructions, but we'll see.

    I think there was some beautiful imagery in Going Wodwo, but I still didn't connect with it. The whole idea of becoming a tree did remind me of Meran from the Charles de Lint short stories that we read in the Very Best collection earlier this spring.

    I don't find Bitter Grounds silly, necessarily, it is just one of those stories where I suspect I don't get some reference or something and so it doesn't work for me. And I would argue on some level then that it doesn't work much as a complete story because even if one doesn't get the deeper meanings there should be something about a story that at least feels understandable, and this one doesn't have that in my mind.

  3. Ooh, I have The Perks of Being a Wallflower on my shelf- I got it for Banned Books Week a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy it- let me know your thoughts!

    I think September has been a VERY slow reading month for me. However, I think part of that is to do with the fact that I'm just reading mammoth books. First Lionheart and now Lady of the English. Whew, I'm ready for something a little less epic next.

  4. It looks like you got some great reads in. TLOTR are among my favorite books. Enjoy your sunday :)

  5. I absolutely adore The Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia is SO hilarious! I hope you enjoy BLAMELESS.

    DR. STRANGE was...interesting. It was probably my first book about the fae, and I was completely unprepared for it. I still remember quite a bit of the novel several years after reading it, so it obviously made an impression (this was pre-blogging), but it definitely dragged toward the end. I'll be curious to see what you think of it.

  6. I was a bit meh about this week's reading too!

  7. **Cath: To be honest, I didn't like it that much. If I had read it when it came out, I might have loved it, but now there are just better books out there that far surpass it...

    **Carl: It was on my shelves for a while!

    I am a bit slow visiting posts, but I will make it there!

    **Aarti: Oh, is it a banned book? I should read it soon, then.

    I just feel like I am reading and not making progress...

    **naida: I really enjoy TLOTR, too. I look forward to rereading The Two Towers.

    **Michelle: I am enjoying Blameless so far. I am looking forward to getting drawn into it a bit more today.

    I wasn't a huge fan of Dr. Strange, sadly. Maybe because I have read many other books of the same nature?

    **Marg: Hopefully next week is better!

  8. Aw, I'm sad to hear you weren't that crazy about JS&MN. It's one of my favourite fantasy novels, but maybe it does help that it was the first of its kind I ever read.

    Perks would be a great choice for Banned Books Week!

  9. My reading has felt very slow in September. I struggled to get into books early in the month and haven't really recovered. Hopefully October is better!

  10. **Ana: I really think if I had read it at a different time I would have enjoyed it a lot more...

    **Kim: It is like I can see the end in sight but can't quite seem to make it there... It's a weird reading month.


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