2020 Books Describing YOU!

I saw this fun Book Challenge Tag on Bookstooge’s blog and thought I would give it a try. The rules are simple: Answer the questions using books you read in 2020.


  1. Describe Yourself: The Private Life of Elder Things


2. How do you feel? Alienated

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Negative Reviews

I was inspired to write this after reading a couple of intriguing posts about negative reviews by Re-enchantment Of The World and Weighing A Pig Doesn’t Fatten It. Clicking on the links will take you to each post. Please read the comments, too, as there are some great points brought up there.

(c) Alex Norris, Website: https://webcomicname.com/

Thinking over the past year of blogging book reviews, I’m pressed to remember a truly negative review I posted. I was disappointed with Stephen King’s IT because I thought it was overlong and suffered from King’s tendency to waffle. Also, it was surprisingly dull in parts and had me almost skipping pages. Despite these flaws, I still rated it 2 stars. Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation wasn’t a great read for me either, but I initially gave it 3 stars, mainly because I liked the weird atmosphere and some of the writing style. After thinking more about it, I’ve amended that rating to 2 stars. But if you follow the Goodreads rating system, “2 stars” means the book was “okay.” Is “okay” a negative review? Not really.

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New Additions to the Teahouse

Shiver: Selected Stories (2015) by Junji Ito

‘This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delight of horror fans.’

I’d heard about Junji Ito’s horror manga, but never read any. I recently watched a video about the Japanese artist on ComicPop‘s Youtube channel. It made me want to check out his work. Here’s a link to the video. (Discussion of this book starts from 25:43)


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Reading the Sci Fi “Canon”

Ugh, we’re talking about the “canon” of science fiction literature, again, for reasons (most imminently the recent Hugo award ceremony and its fallout), and whether, basically, newer writers and readers should and must slog through a bunch of books in the genre that are now half a century old at least, from a bunch of mostly male, mostly white, mostly straight writers who are, shall we say, not necessarily speaking to the moment.”

–John Scalzi, Taken from his essay Oh, Christ, Not the Science Fiction Canon Again, August 2020

Selections from the recent Penguin Science Fiction collection

Maryam, over at The Curious SFF Reader, wrote a great post about the science fiction canon, asking if we should read it or not. Her essay and all of the comments made for a fascinating read and got me thinking about what this “canon” is. Is there a canon for science fiction like there is for literature? If so, who decided which books make up this canon?

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Top Reads of 2020

Another year draws to a close, so it’s time to publish my Top Reads of the year. These are the stories that stood out for me over the past 12 months. They are listed in no particular order; just the ones I enjoyed reading the most during this crazy year of 2020. If you click on the title, it will take you to my review.


Best Books Read in 2020

Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah (1969) by Frank Herbert
Europe at Dawn (2018) by Dave Hutchinson
In the Forests of Serre (2004) by Patricia McKillip
Utopia Avenue (2020) by David Mitchell
The Folding Knife (2010) by K.J. Parker
The Secret Commonwealth (2019) by Philip Pullman
Lancelot (2018) by Giles Kristian
The Stand (1978) by Stephen King


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Favourite Author?

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Do you have a favourite author? By that I mean an author who you drop everything for and buy their new book on its release day. After buying their new book, you start reading it immediately. You know, an author who gets you excited about reading, about getting lost in their written worlds. An author whose book you wake up early to read before you have to leave for work. And, conversely, an author whose book you stay up way past your usual bedtime to read just one more chapter. For me, it used to be Haruki Murakami–sorry, Haruki. Now it is David Mitchell.

“Who?” You may cry. The David Mitchell who wrote Cloud Atlas, one of my favourite books of all time. (Much, much better than the movie, which I actually have a soft spot for.) Now, I know it’s all subjective. We all have our own tastes, thank goodness! But I just wanted to share with you some of the excitement I’m feeling right now.

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Short Story Tarot Challenge

The challenge is: 78 weeks, 78 short stories! Let’s see how far I get;-)

thoth image1

I’m going to use a Tarot deck to randomly select a short story to read each week. I’m using the Thoth Tarot deck which was painted by Lady Frieda Harris following instructions from Aleister Crowley. It’s a beautiful deck and was recommended to me by my brother.

I have a lot of unread short stories in my tbr pile. I also have a deck of tarot cards that has been collecting dust in a drawer for years. I will combine them as a way to get me back into reading. I know very little about the tarot, so I’m hoping to learn more about it through this challenge. Continue reading

Retrospective for 2019

View of the Inland Sea, seen from Awashima shrine

Well, another year draws to a close so it’s time to reveal Who’s Dreaming Who’s most viewed posts for 2019. Which authors and books attracted the most clicks this year? Without further ado, here’s 2019’s Top 20 viewed posts:

(Clicking on the number will take you to the review.)

1. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (2011) Edited by Pamela Jackson & Jonathan Lethem
2. Impostor (1953) by Philip K. Dick
3. Pyramids (1989) by Terry Pratchett
4. Inverted World (1974) by Christopher Priest
5. The Big Time (1958) by Fritz Leiber
6. The Fog Horn (1951) by Ray Bradbury
7. Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson
8. Groo versus Conan (2013) by Sergio Aragones et al
9. Ubik (1969) by Philip K. Dick
10. Burning Chrome (1986) by William Gibson
11. Fairyland (1995) by Paul McAuley
12. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982) by Philip K. Dick
13. Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) by William Gibson
14. Good Omens (1990) by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
15. Rosewater (2016) by Tade Thompson
16. The City and the City (2009) by China Mieville
17. Oh, to be a Blobel (1964) by Philip K. Dick
18. White Time (2000) by Margo Lanagan
19. Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home (1973) by James Tiptree, Jr
20. The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: Vol.12 (2018) Edited by Jonathan Strahan

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Hallowe’en Reads 2018

The sky before a typhoon. View from my garden.

Happy Autumn!

As the days cool and grow shorter and the darkness spreads its ebony fingers, are you ready for some chills and thrills?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I make – and often fail to complete – a plan for my October reading. As the theme is Hallowe’en, my chosen genre is horror or any kind of weird fiction. I’m planning to focus on novellas and short stories this year as my reading-time has shrunk over the last few months. So, without further ado, here is my list of stories to read as I tentatively set foot into the October country. Continue reading

Rediscover a Sense of Wonder

white teddy bear reading book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In my last post, I wrote of a “Summer Meltdown” which had left me struggling to read – and especially finish – books. To those who responded, thank you so much for taking the time to read and offer advice or support, I really appreciate it.

The boiling heat of 2018’s summer has finally subsided, and autumn’s cooling touch has brought some welcome relief. BUT I still haven’t reached the end of a book. Wtf?

I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching, trying to find a deeper reason than the summer’s heat knocking everyone out, and I think I’ve discovered what’s been missing.

black and white blank challenge connect

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let me ask you a question. What was the last book you read that you truly couldn’t put down? You know, the kind of story in which you become so caught up that you resent the time spent NOT reading it. A book or story that you keep thinking about when you’re not reading it. One which you can’t wait to get back to reading once your work or chores are done. Continue reading