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text 2017-01-19 02:08
7 To-Reads That Make Me Very, Very Nervous
Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake
Don Quixote - Roberto González Echevarría,John Rutherford,Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
The Fireman: A Novel - Joe Hill
11/22/63 - Stephen King
Peace - Gene Wolfe
The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights Volume 1 - Malcolm C. Lyons,Ursula Lyons
The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Hell, Volume 05 - Dante Alighieri,Gustave Doré,Henry Francis Cary

Like a lot of people, I have a few books that, for various reasons, I haven't gotten to yet. These are ones that just flat scare me.


1. Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake  Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake  


    The first of the Gormenghast novels, I very much want to read this because it is a genre classic, heavy on character, rich in language, and deeply weird. I've dipped in a couple times and, frankly, ,the dense prose and deeply strange people  scare me a bit. Still, on the bucket list.


2. Don Quixote - Roberto González Echevarría,John Rutherford,Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra  Don Quixote - Roberto González Echevarría,John Rutherford,Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra  


    Obviously, it's a stone classic. Also, it is a satire of the chivalric romances that has come to epitomize them. Irony! It scares me because nobody makes it past the windmills.


3. The Fireman: A Novel - Joe Hill  The Fireman: A Novel - Joe Hill  


    I loved Twentieth Century Ghosts and Heart--Shaped Box, liked Horns, and never finished NOS4A2. Those conflicted feelings, plus my general dislike for post-apocalyptia, equals a long stay on the TBR shelf.


4. 11/22/63 - Stephen King  11/22/63 - Stephen King  


     So much frigging book. I started this around the time it came out and got something like 250 pages in. Solid, but slow, and some of the timey-wimey stuff was a bit off to me. Plus, bigger King is not always better King.


5. Peace - Gene Wolfe  Peace - Gene Wolfe  


    Combine dense language with mind-fuckery and I worry. Also, a lot of people say multiple readings are necessary to truly appreciate it. I'm sure it's excellent, but it seems like a lot of work.


6. The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights Volume 1 - Malcolm C. Lyons,Ursula Lyons  The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights Volume 1 - Malcolm C. Lyons,Ursula Lyons  


    I own all three volumes of this translation of the Calcutta 2. This is a hard one for me, because The Arabian Nights is a huge part of me as a reader (Hell, I've even read whole books on it's provenance and influence, namely Irwin's Arabian Nights Companion), influencing my love of nesting stories, but there are many nasty undertones. On top of that, we're talking about 2,400 pages. Yes, this is a more modern-reading translation than the classic Burton, but still...


7. The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Hell, Volume 05 - Dante Alighieri,Gustave Doré,Henry Francis Cary  The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Hell, Volume 05 - Dante Alighieri,Gustave Doré,Henry Francis Cary  


    I have a coffee-table edition of the entire Divine Comedy, illustrated by Dore. It's huge, it's gorgeous... It's epic poetry.


I will read all of these, but no promises as to when, as I am a coward.

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review 2016-09-26 03:29
Book 72/100: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adieh
The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Item: A book set in the Middle East


This is a first novel, and it feels like one. The prose is overwritten and tends toward the purple, and it resorts to using the same descriptions far too often. Like, we don't need to know that Jalid has "tiger eyes" each time he looks at Sherzhad, do we? Or that Sherzhad has luscious, waist-length hair? There also seemed to be something weird going on with transitions, because I often had to backtrack to figure out how we got from one scene to another, or from one point of view to another, etc.


It's hard to redeem the caliph who murders a new bride every night, and this book puts forth a valiant effort. But in doing so, it sort of lets him off the hook for his crimes, which is a little off-putting. The tumultuous love story between Jalid and Sherzhad probably would have captured my interest if I read this as a teenager, but as an adult it felt a bit on the melodramatic side. Plus, whenever I started to get into it, there was, "Oh yeah, but this guy has killed a bunch of women," and that sort of killed the mood for me.


The world-building is pretty shaky and doesn't seem to be firmly rooted in Middle Eastern history or in a new, magical world. It ends up being a sort of mashup of the two, but the magic plays such a tangential part in the story that it feels a little out of place. There are curses and random powers inserted mostly for the sake of convenience and without feeling as though they are truly woven into the fabric of this time and place. And, like, why was there a magic carpet that never even did anything? I could have done without the half-baked love triangle, too.


I gave the book three stars, so obviously it wasn't all bad. It held my interest well enough even if it annoyed me at times, and there are far too few retellings of fairy tales outside the European canon. It ends on a little bit of ambiguity/cliffhanger which seems to set it up for a sequel, in which the love triangle is destined to take center stage. I don't think I will be reading it.

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review 2016-08-17 12:30
Fourth Embrace (Emma's Arabian Nights #4)
Fourth Embrace (Emma's Arabian Nights, #4) - Ann Mayburn

This was extremely short for what it was, which was basically the neutralization of Emma's stalker.  There wasn't a lot of ramp up towards the final confrontation, and the confrontation itself was anti-climactic.  These last two books have really soured me on the author's works, so I won't be looking to read the spin-off series.

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review 2016-08-17 11:52
Third Chance (Emma's Arabian Nights #3)
Third Chance (Emma's Arabian Nights, #3) - Ann Mayburn,Julie Naughton

It had been at least a year since I read the previous books in the series, so when I picked this one up, I was actually quite confused with what was happening.  For a serial book that you have to wait months between books, this was not a good thing.  

I hated how Emma had a complete and total personality shift after Ryan's injury.  She went from strong Domme to mouse!  She also really didn't use her head much in the book, as if her fear was all she could focus on, instead of being somewhat logical in the face of that fear and figuring out a way to get her stalker!

I liked how supportive Ryan was, even injured, but it wasn't enough to save the story.  I'll read the last book because I own it and it's short, but I doubt I'll seek out the spin-off series or continue reading the author.

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review 2016-04-03 20:04
Review: New Arabian Knights by Robert Louis Stevenson
New Arabian Nights - Robert Louis Stevenson

Wikipedia page: New Arabian Knights (1882)

Gutenberg link: New Arabian Knights


I've only read some of Stevenson's works (none of the longer novels yet) and this was one that'd been recommended somewhere for the stories about the Suicide Club, the premise of which sounds like something that could easily be transplanted in a modern piece of fiction. (Check out the adaptations listed on the wikipedia page for Suicide Club. One author transformed it into a Holmes tale.) All of these read very much like many magazine short stories of the time - think how Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories read, heavy on action adventure first and characterization a bit later, in small doses if at all. It's mostly all about the action.


Aside: It's still kinda weird to have grown up reading Doyle's Holmes and to then bump into people who view them all as one complete thing with an indepth world instead of a world you only learn about in bits and pieces dropped in many stories. Because Holmes didn't hop into life having all that - Doyle was also churning out short stories in bits, like many other authors of the time, most of whom didn't foresee carrying on with the same characters for a series. Of course building a headcannon with Holmes isn't at all a modern thing - decades ago I bought my dad a book of the complete Holmes stories (hardback and insanely heavy) with intricate and detailed footnotes that indicated that whoever was writing them was treating Holmes as a historical figure that did actually exist. Never could tell if that was tongue in cheek or an author who genuinely believed. And yes, there are people that do believe Holmes was a real person - not just influenced by Joseph Bell, etc.


Anyway, if you've never read short stories and realized they were all written for separate publication, this is a kind of fun example. The Suicide Club series (really only 2 stories when combined) sort of work well together, even though the whole "I am framing this as written by an Arabian author who told me the story" doesn't really seem fleshed out. Even Stevenson agrees, as in the last tale he gives that up completely:

"As for [character in story], that sublime person, having now served his turn, may go, along with the Arabian Author, topsy-turvy into space."


So by the last couple of stories the Arabian Author framing is gone, as is the Suicide Club - so expect that part to be brief. I'll note that for some reason one of the later stories, the Pavilion on the Links, is one that shows up in multiple short story collections - it's action/adventure with an Italian gang in pursuit of revenge, and a love triangle in which you know who's the good guy, because obvious good guy is obvious. But I sort of enjoyed it anyway because Stevenson does have fun writing atmospheric locations.


So if the stories of this period interest you this is worth it, especially for the premise of the Suicide Club. You'll totally see why this is definite screenwriter fodder.


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