As you probably know, I love lists. I love following them, checking things off them, and boy do I love finishing them. Whether it’s To Do lists at work, tasks I have to do at home, or (of course) reading lists. I had great plans for the months of May and June, mostly consisting of lots of Hugo nominations and a few new releases here or there. But what does my brain want? Well… whatever it wants, apparently.
Fables by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
For no reason I can discern, my eye fell on my bookshelf a few days ago and got stock on my Fables shelf. I’ve been reading this graphic novel series for years. It’s big! It’s finished, at least, but it’s still a looooong series and as much as I adored the first instalments, there was no way I could read them all in one go, especially since the editions I own weren’t even all published then. I had three of the deluxe volumes left (collecting three to four of the paperback volumes, which in turn collect several comic issues… yeah, it’s complicated; which is why I went for the rather expensive deluxe editions because they just collect everthing). By whim or fancy or whatever else, I picked up Volume 13 and I was BACK in that world and there were cliffhangers and twists and character deaths and there was no way for me to stop reading until I was done.
I feel a bit deflated now because finishing a series that long, leaving characters that have been in the back of my mind for many years, well, it’s a sad occasion. I was quite happy with how things turned out story-wise, but now… no more Fables. At least no more main-story Fables. I still have the Fairest spin-off series to read and a new Wolf Among Us game was announced, although we’ll probably have to wait at least another year for it to come out. But that’s something to look forward to, right?
Overall, I can recommend this series to anyone who loves comic books, fairy tales, and epic fantasy. Maybe one of these days, I’ll gather my thoughts enough to post a review of the entire series, although it will be one hell of a challenge to do that without spoilers.
Again, instead of following my own plan of getting the Hugo books read before anything else, I picked up some books by gut-feeling, just because I wanted to. My track record with finishing series I’ve started is generally not great, so I am mostly happy that I’ve decided to continue some of them before I forget what the first books were all about. But it does mean I’ll have less time to get to those Hugo finalists…
The Farthest Shore by Urusula K. LeGuin
I thought the Earthsea Cycle just wasn’t for me when I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. But then, on a re-read, I discovered new things about that book that I just couldn’t appreciate the first time around. I still didn’t love it but it was good enough for me to pick up the sequel. And that completely stole my heart! So of course, I had to continue reading. Again, the fact that the series is finished gave me the necessary push to finally catch up. I’m not as taken with this book as I was with The Tombs of Atuan but I still enjoy it a lot and I’ll probably dive straight into Tehanu once I’m finished.
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
I have yet to read a bad book by Jemisin (I doubt I ever will) but this is something else! Although very, very different from her epic fantasies, this books is just sooooo good, you guys! The city of New York comes to life but it’s too much to hold for one single person as its avatar, so every burrough gets its own avatar. Except they’re not entirely sure what to do with themselves and not each of them has all the puzzle pieces needed to fight the strange threat to their city. So they have to find each other and figure out where to go from there. There is a ton of social commentary here, there are fantastic, amazingly diverse characters, the writing is stellar, and I just can’t get enough of it. I already know this will be on my Hugo ballot for next year even though I’m only at about 60% right now.
Magician by Raymond E. Feist
This book (or technically the first half of this book) is the May pick for the Sword & Laser book club and while I’ve read the first half – Magician: Apprentice – many years ago, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to continue the series. But because my memory was hazy at best, I started from the beginning. I am now smack dab in the middle of the book, my re-read of the first half is done and now I only have new stuff ahead of me.
Magician has a ton of flaws but it also offers comfort in these trying times. It may not be original, but it is kind of nice to read about humans, elves, dwarves, and trolls in a medieval Europe-ish setting. There’s nothing new here, no fantasy species I have to learn about, no interesting power dynamics, no difficult politics… it’s just two boys having the adventure of their life. There’s an alien invasion, war, learning magic, and potential romance. Look, this won’t end up being a favorite and you’ll hear all my gripes in my review, but I’m enjoying it anyways.
Plan to read next
In my last post, I had a whole plan. I started only one of those planned books (the only one not currently nominated for awards or sent to me for review…). The same thing will probably happen again this time, but I will do my best to somewhat stick to it, at least.
- Emma Newman – Planetfall (series finalist)
- Tade Thompson – Rosewater (series finalist)
- Martha Wells – Network Effect (new release)
- Ted Chiang – Exhalation (novella and novelette finalists)
- Frances Hardinge – Deeplight (Lodestar finalist)
- Seanan McGuire – In an Absent Dream (novella finalist)
Okay, I should manage reading some of those Hugo finalists in the next few weeks, right? Except, we all know I will pick up the long-awaited Murderbot novel before anything else… because who can resist Murderbot, especially now that another novel has been announced. I am so excited!
If I only read some of those planned books, I will count it as a victory. Having finished all the finalists in the Best Novel category, a large chunk of reading is done. The novellas, novelettes, and short stories are all shorter so I’m sure I can finish all of them as well. However, the Lodestars have a couple of big books that are nominated, and let’s not even talk about the Best Series shortlist.
I hope all of you are healthy and well, wherever in the world you are! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’ll all get through this together! And until then, pick up a good book or two to distract yourself from this very real-life pandemic.