Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week in Review (33) and Short Story Sunday - Week 2

Random Thoughts

I am experiencing book overload. There is so much that I want to read and there is just not enough time for everything! I have received books in the mail this week and made a trip to the library, so I do not lack for reading material. The thing is that they are all books I really want to read and I don't have enough time to read everything... You would think this would have prevented me from, I don't know, buying more books! But, I bought more books... I had to get The Lantern for the read-along in October, so that seems to have lead to more purchases. I know I won't get books for my birthday, so I figured I would treat myself. The timing of the read-along just meant the books are arriving a bit before my birthday.

Challenge News

I am still mainly concentrating on the R.I.P. Challenge, but I am attempting to work on the Reading Swap, too. I finished When She Woke. The review of that will be up on Wednesday. I read Breathers and Radiant Shadows, which both count for R.I.P., too. Then, I read The Monk which counts for R.I.P. and the Reading Swap.

Weekly Reads

200.When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (Completed September 14, 2011)
201. Breathers by S.G. Browne (Completed September 15, 2011)
202. Radiant Shadows: A Wicked Lovely Book (Book 4) by Melissa Marr (Completed September 15, 2011)
203. The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis (Completed September 16, 2011)
204. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff (Completed September 17, 2011)

Weekly Posts

New Additions

Once all of my birthday purchases I arrive, I will do a separate post...

The Beggar's Garden: Stories by Michael Christie
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
The Free World by David Bezmogis
Heartless by Gail Carriger (They bought this before book 3... Hopefully book 3 arrives soon!)
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Red Glove by Holly Black
Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers
Better Living Through Plastic Explosives: Stories by Zsuzsi Gartner
Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
Monoceros by Suzette Mayr
Thieves and Kings Volume 2 by Mark Oakley

Nothing this week...

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Harper Collins Canada)
Wildwood by Colin Meloy (Harper Collins Canada)
Dark Eden by Patrick Carmen (Harper Collins Canada)
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (From Stephanie from Stephanie's Written Word)
Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Mount Everest by Wade Davis (Random House Canada)

Short Story Sunday - Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman - Week 2
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 second week of the read-along of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman as part of the R.I.P. Challenge VI.

Stories Read This Week:
'The Hidden Chamber'
'Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire'
'The Flints of Memory Lane'
'Closing Time'

I have found myself involved in a lot of projects this month, so I am actually read a story a day out of this collection now. This means that when I post could be way after I have actually read the story. I am trying to remember to write up a post every time I finish four stories, but that might not always happen knowing me...

'The Hidden Chamber'
When I read about this in the Introduction I was thinking about how he says it is going to be 'Gothic' and a retelling of something like 'Bluebeard'. Then, I got to the part about it being a poem and I was disappointed. I would have much rather had a Gothic retelling of 'Bluebeard' as a story. It has not been very long since I finished this poem and it has all ready left me. I even tried reading it aloud in the hopes it would stick with me longer. That didn't appear to work either! I am thinking I will just never be much of a poetry person.

'Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire'
That is an insanely long title for a short story, I must say. In the Introduction Gaiman points out that he wrote this story a while ago, but when he tried to get it published there was no real interest. Twenty years later the story went out to win awards and be included in best-of anthologies. That says something about an early attempt at writing! This was a fun story. There is a certain favourite writing advice about writing what you know, but the author of this story is having a hard time with that. We get a glimpse into his writing process and you quickly learn that what he knows is not what we know. It makes for a fun story!

'The Flints of Memory Lane'
This is a ghost story. It is too short of a story to go into much detail without ruining it, so I will leave it at that. I enjoyed it, though, but then I like ghost stories for most part. **Note: This was longer, but I was talking about the wrong story. The comment will reappear in the future for the correct story!

'Closing Time'
This story was interesting. You remember when you are young and will basically do anything to prove that you are just like your peers? Well, this story takes that idea and puts a very interesting spin on it. The narrator tells it like a ghost story, but it was something that really happened to him. It just goes to show you that very interesting things happen to rather ordinary people. I enjoy the idea of a group of people sitting around at a bar telling ghost stories. It is very atmospheric.


  1. Another fantastic week!! I feel like I'm actually having a decent reading month this month's a nice change, lol...Nancy just sent me her copy of When She Woke! I'm so excited!!

  2. I love your week in review posts Kailana, am thinking of doing something similar. Except that I'm not sure I'd stay committed!

  3. **Chris: Stephanie was nice enough to send me a second copy she had. I was planning to buy it in October, so I was thrilled to get to read it early!

    **Joanna: Because of computer issues and such I missed a few weeks in a row. It's too bad, but not much I can do about it... It's the one thing I go out of my way to make sure is done when I can do it, though. It is so helpful when I am looking back on things.

  4. I'm finding a big difference reading Fragile Things from when I first picked it up - then I just ploughed through the first half dozen or so and put it down to go back to later - and somehow, never did. Now I'm reading and re-reading, and seeing far more in each individual story than I did at first. Which is great!

    I do hope you enjoy Fly By Night, I loved it. I look forward to your thoughts on it.

  5. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Wowzers! You got quite the haul this week. Hope you can find time to read all those books.

  6. Ohhh, do I know that feeling of being book-overloaded. One of my favorite weekend activities is browsing library book sales, and I never come home empty-handed. Whenever I see a book on someone's blog I really want to read, I request it from the library, where I go at least once a week. And then there are the books that turn up in the mail, and NetGalley, and, and, and...ack! It looks like the books you're getting include some good ones, though!

    I love that quote from the intro of the Neil Gaiman book. I've only read his novels, not his short stories, but I'd like to try them sometime.

  7. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I also have a habit of acquiring more books than I can read at one time...

    I actually thought the poem worked well for the Bluebeard story, mostly because it highlighted his insanity rather well. It was soooo creepy when he was talking about how he saved the butterfly, while at the same time planning to kill his wife.

  8. I'm sort of in the middle of book overload, too. There's just SO MUCH I want to read, and I seem to want to read it all RIGHT NOW! :)

  9. **GeraniumCat: I am glad you are enjoying the collection more with this read through!

    I hope I enjoy Fly by Night, too. I have started it, but just barely.

    **thecheapreader: Probably not, but one can hope!

    **Erin: There is just so much that I want to read! It is making my brain hurting staring at all the unread books and wanting to get to them NOW. I know if I bought them I really want to read them, or got them from the library, or requested them from NetGalley... I had to stop looking at NetGalley for a while.

    I have read more of Gaiman's short stories than novels, actually. They are usually pretty good. Some are better than others as in all things.

    **bookswithoutanypictures: I think I saw it was a poem and just set out not to like it. I am just not a poetry person and I have probably limited myself.

    **Andi: Exactly the same problem here!

  10. Now, you see, I couldn't figure out if The Flints of Memory Lane was based on the statue or Good Boys Deserve Favors. Not having read the latter yet, I chose to believe The Flints... is his "true ghost story", but I almost decided, like you did, that it was based on the statue. Just Neil Gaiman proving, yet again, how seamlessly clever he is. (Sorry those of you who happen to be reading this comment and haven't read Gaiman's Intro. to the book or any of the stories -- and why haven't you?. It will make absolutely no sense, so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you Gaiman is seamlessly clever. Or maybe you shouldn't? Maybe this comment isn't really here. Would you believe me if I told you my first comment disappeared?).

  11. It is actually Good Boys Deserve Favors that is based off the Lisa Snellings statue. Not sure why Gaiman put those two stories together in the introduction comments as it is confusing. I knew Flints wasn't based on the statue and still had to re-read that part of the introduction twice this morning to get past the confusion.

    You can do a search and find the statue he is referencing and it is very obvious that GBDF is the one that is based on the statue.

    I like the device of having folks sitting around a bar, camp fire, table, etc telling stories. For me it adds that extra degree of authenticity to the stories because, regardless of what stories are being told, there is a common experience with reality when it comes to sitting around chatting and telling stories.

    I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the poem. Some people just don't like poetry and that is really okay. I like some and don't get others at all. I do like this one as it doesn't feel all that "poetic" but does give a little glimpse into the personality of a well know figure in folk stories. Angela Carter has written one or two really good Bluebeard stories. Well worth checking out.

    I agree that Forbidden Brides is an interesting study about early writing efforts and also in trusting one's own voice. It is doubly intriguing that such a thing would happen in regards to a story about a writer trying to find his own voice. Sometimes the "you can't make this stuff up" line is all too true.

  12. I've been having that same problem - lots of books from the library, in the mail and then my husband took me shopping at Powell's for our anniversary, like I could turn that down!

  13. **Emily: I guess it is Good Boys Deserve Favours. I was confused. I actually also was thinking it was the 'true ghost story', so I had myself all mixed up!

    **Carl: ha, well, I was wrong. Thanks for correcting me! I think he should have made it a bit clearer in the introduction. I was confused!

    One day I am going to go on a poetry kick. I know there has to be poets out there I will enjoy...

    **Alyce: I wouldn't be able to turn that down, either! My books in the mail were expected to be gifts from the guy, but he bought me something else unexpectedly. So, the books are from myself now. :)

  14. It was very confusing, and again I don't understand why he didn't just separate those two entries in the introduction.

  15. Theres always too many books and not enough time.
    I read Gaiman before and really enjoyed him, I think I need to pick him up again.
    I have The Lantern in my TBR as well.

  16. Anonymous6:39 PM

    I know just what you mean - I wish I could do nothing but read for a few weeks or months or more just to get caught up a little!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  17. **Carl: Thanks for pointing out my mistake!

    **naida: I am looking forward to The Lantern! I hope I have time to read it when the time comes!

    **bookdout: I KNOW! I never have enough time to read...

  18. Looks like you got a ton of new reading material! How fun!! Can't wait to see what all your birthday swag brings in! :)

  19. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Man, that's a lot of new reading material! Nothing brings in the fall days better - with all their extra time indoors - is to procure a giant pile of pretty new books!

    I loved hearing your thoughts on the read-a-long this week, and I totally know what you mean about not really being able to get in to "The Hidden Chamber". I mean, I'm usually a poetry fan, especially poetry from Gaiman, but this one was just so not up my alley! I agree with both you and Carl, also, that the framework of people sitting around various places (fires, bars, etc) and telling stories. It's worked so well in the stories we've seen Gaiman use it in! Can't wait to read what you have to say next week.

    -- Chelsea

  20. **Lynn Marie: I am looking forward to my birthday swag! I have always started one of them. :)

    **Chelsea: I love getting new books! I am looking forward to reading them!

    I am not really a poetry person at all. I am glad you agree! I always feel bad about saying I don't like Gaiman when so many people just love him.

  21. I really enjoyed Radiant Shadows. I have yet to read the final book though.


  22. **Jehara: Radiant Shadows was a bit of a dark book. I look forward to seeing how she ends the series! If you need inspiration to read it, I am all for reading books with people!


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