Can I Really Manage To Throw Out TEN BOOKS?! (Unhaul Challenge)

Wow. This is a bit ridiculous. But I’m going to try.

Basically this challenge is to throw out books from your shelf, based on prompts written (I think) by BooksAndLala on Youtube. I first saw the challenge on a video posted by Portable Magic (also on youtube), and then I found a blog version on Merline Reads to see how it could be done in bloggo land.

Let’s get to it!

A Book I Rated Low

Rhapsody: Child of Blood, by Elizabeth Haydon. I’m not quite sure what part of the blurb for this story made me actually purchase this book (although I think I got it from a library used book sale for like 50 cents) but I definitely did not feel satisfied at the end. I’m assuming I was interested in all of the music references in both the title (Rhapsody) and the series title (Symphony of Ages), and intrigued that the main character was a singer who goes on an epic quest. I’ve wanted to write a story about a musician for ages and so I thought this might be a good place to see it done well.

Honestly, I don’t really remember anything in the book actually involving music at all. They climb through the roots of a tree (not the branches) for what felt like a hundred pages, there is some kind of prophecy, an assassin kills a bunch of people and maybe becomes king of something (it’s been a while since I read this one).

Anyway, whatever I was hoping it would do, it just didn’t. I’m seeing now that there is NINE books in this series so perhaps I should have used it for the series prompt later on but nah. Just a low rated book.

A Book I Changed My Mind About

Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, edited by John Skipp. I think I’m just not as big into zombies as I used to be. There are several great stories in this collection, and the book does a great job delving into the history of zombies in literature (I loved and posted about Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields by W.B. Seabrook, supposedly the first zombie story ever published). That being said, I’ve owned this book for several years and never finished. I’ll always have a special place for zombies in my heart, but perhaps it is time to finally let that trend die?

A Series I Won’t Be Completing

The Ascension Cycle by David Mealing. I don’t know if a two-book cycle really counts as a series, but I will not be finishing this one. The first book, Soul of the World, was pitched as a ‘must read’ for fans of Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn specifically which is my fav), and the blurb seemed pretty good, so I was very excited to read this.

But upon finishing it I was actually a bit mad. (In my subjective opinion), it was nowhere near Mistborn. I can see how it might have similar elements: a seemingly complicated magic system; a young woman protagonist who’s independent, living on the street, and struggling for survival like Vin; an intricate world with intrigue and epic/world altering stakes.

But somehow there was some quality missing from this book that BSands seems to have struck every time. It felt to me, perhaps ironically, that for a book about the soul of the world, this book seemed to lack any soul at all. As I think about it, perhaps it would be worth it for my own writing to read this again and do an analysis as to how it fell short, but that seems like a lot of work, and I already have a big enough TBR, without rereading a book I didn’t enjoy. We’ll see.

A Book I DNF’d (Did Not Finish)

World War Z. I just couldn’t get through this one. I think I’m literally at the 50% mark but I just can’t. It got soooo depressing. It’s been sitting on my shelf for like five years at this point, and I’ve not once ever thought “Oh I should give that one another try.” Nope. Sorry zombie book, you will not be getting a second life.

A Book I Have Multiple Copies Of

Dune Messiah. Why? I don’t know. I think this was one that that I found in my parent’s basement during a move and snagged it thinking I didn’t already have a copy. Then I got home and . . . well I did. One of the editions (the one I snagged) is like super old and kind of falling apart, but has awesome cover art so I’m not sure which one I’ll end up keeping (the newer one is just green haha)

A Book I’ll Never Actually Get To

The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert Heinlein. I’ve talked a little bit about Heinlein before in my Jurassic Park Book Tag post. Essentially, I didn’t find The Puppet Masters all that great even though I really enjoyed Starship Troopers. I know he’s a classic, and so that is probably what made me reach for The Man Who Sold the Moon when I saw it in my local little free library (love those little book houses haha), but I’ve hardly had any motivation to read it. I think it might just be time to take it back to the little library and hopefully someone else will find some use for it

A Book I Bought Because Of The Hype

Provenance by Ann Leckie. I . . . absolutely . . . LOVED Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (and the rest of the Imperial Radch trilogy) so when her next release, Provenance, was ready to hit the shelves, the world was buzzing and I was more or less frothing at the mouth to read this book. It is a good book. A fun mystery, set in a sci-fi universe, but it just could not compare with her previous work. I will probably read Ancillary Justice ten more times, but unfortunately I’ve never reached for this one on the shelf. Probably best to give it up.

A Book I Bought Because Of The Cover

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. I’m not entirely sure I’ll actually get rid of this one, and I’m not sure that I actually bought it because of the cover. Full disclosure, I think this one was just the book that had the prettiest cover that I thought I MIGHT actually be able to get rid of. I haven’t read a book by him in years, and I’ve talked about my Palahniuk burnout on the blog before. Everything I said then still pretty much holds true. Maybe I’ll get back into the groove someday.

A Book I Don’t Know Anything About

Lifelode by Jo Walton. I think this was given to me in one of those book bags you sometimes get when you register for a conference. I’m honestly not sure how I came by it, but Jo Walton is seemingly a giant in SFF, so I thought I might as well keep it . . . I’ll read it someday.

I still haven’t. Probably should give it up.

A Book I Didn’t Buy

The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron. I keep thinking I’m going to go on a big Merlin kick where I just consume every piece of media I can find that is even remotely related to this mythic wizard of yore. This one is another little free library find, and I was pretty excited to read it when I first found it. However, I was right in the middle of some other books I wanted to post about, and so I put it on the shelf where it has gathered dust for quite a while. Perhaps I’m never actually going to go on this Merlin kick after all. Perhaps I should give this one up too.

Please Let it STOPPP!!!

Ok that was a little dramatic but wow, I can’t believe I actually found ten books on my shelf that I’d be willing to get rid of. Usually I can hardly gather up the will to return a library book let alone voluntarily give up TEN books but here we are. The list is made.

I’m hopeful that some of these I return to their respective little free libraries (and maybe find something else that looks interesting!) or perhaps trade them for some credit at a used book store or something. I have at least one friend who likes Jo Walton so maybe they will appreciate a random book by them appearing for them one day out of the ether. Maybe not . . . anything can happen.

Anyway, now that I’m done feeling proud of myself, let me know your thoughts. Are there any on this list I should give another shot? Any you would like? Leave it in the comments!

See you next time!

Strike two for Ray Bradbury!

Hey all. This week’s short fiction post is about Ray Bradbury’s short story The Emissary. I suppose it might be necessary to explain how or why I even know about this story, and decided to post about it. So here’s the skinny on that:

– Recently I’ve received a few mentions on my twitter account from a particular author who writes zombie fiction (check out Devan Sagliani. He’s awesome.  You can read a review of his book, The Rising Dead, which I wrote here). He’s been using the hashtag #FF to get the word out about different twitter handles and he’s mentioned me two weeks in a row (like I said he’s awesome). He usually just tweets out a list of handles he thinks people should follow; usually they have some relevance to horror or zombie fiction. I’ve been following most of them and getting super excited about zombies all over again.

– So, last weekend I go to Barnes & Noble and drop $50 on zombie books and anthologies (Psh. Who says bricks-and-mortar stores are dead?). I didn’t even feel remotely bad about it even though I definitely can’t afford to be doing that often. Nor did I look through the table of contents for the anthologies. Just dropped the cash and left.

– Now I’ve been slowly eating through some of the stories (Braaaiiiinnnssss!!) and I’ll admit, I was a little surprised to see Bradbury’s name in the lineup. Certain authors I had no trouble digesting. Stephen King, Max Brooks . . . even Neil Gaiman wasn’t too much of a stretch, but Ray Bradbury? Really?

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

This is the Bradbury I know:

A sort of nerdy looking science fiction writer. We had to read Fahrenheit 451 in high school. While I didn’t think the novel was incredibly engaging, he seemed to be a good writer and it was cool that he predicted ear-buds or whatever.  I remember learning that he was born in the 20’s (1920 to be exact) and attributed what I thought to be an overly ‘literary’ aspect of his writing to the fact that he was from a different time. And while Science Fiction is probably one of my favorite genres of fiction, I wasn’t attracted to his writing. I thought it seemed dull and a little boring.

Imagine my surprise . . .

What I didn’t know (which I now do thanks to Wikipedia), was that Bradbury actually got his start writing horror. Apparently, he was a pretty voracious reader and while H.G Wells, and Jules Verne, seem to fit as influences for his work in science fiction, I was surprised to learn of his fascination with Edgar Allen Poe (I keep seeing Poe’s name in the zombie anthologies also). Bradbury actually tried to imitate Poe in a lot of his writing until he turned 18, at which point I guess he had developed the style he has come to be known for.

My thoughts on The Emissary:

Sorry Bradbury. This might be strike two. I’ll explain. The Emissary, much like Fahrenheit 451, was certainly well written. There is a way in which I feel Bradbury’s writing feels simple even though I know it isn’t. Like he’s delivering the scenes in their most basic elements. A bunch of individual units which can only be understood in any larger context after it has already been read. It’s like you sense the story instead of read it. It’s quite impressive. Certainly poetic to say the least. However, I felt like it simply wasn’t what I was hoping for. Like it kept building and building and then simply forgot to do the big reveal. Also, and this is likely the fault of the anthology’s editor not Bradbury’s, it didn’t feel like there were any zombies in it. At least not the way we are used to. It is suggested that the boy’s favorite visitor comes back to visit “from the other side” so to speak, but it just doesn’t feel like a zombie at all. Not the way we know them now. I guess my earlier assessment still holds. Bradbury and his work is simply . . . from another time.

That’s all for today guys. Hopefully next week my review won’t be such a downer. Laters!