This is the first hardcover I’ve bought in a while. I read it in October last year and am only now getting around to writing my review. It’s Stephen King, so no surprises that this is a fairly long book. My edition is 592 pages and contains some nice black and white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. The book’s title is self-explanatory: Fairy Tale.
‘Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.’
From the Author, Stephen King:
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
I wanted to start the New Year with a book that was funny, comforting, nostalgia-inducing and most of all entertaining. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this book over the years. I’ve also listened to the wonderful radio play, watched both the classic BBC TV series and the less classic movie adaptation. Oh, I almost forgot, I’ve listened to a few different audiobook versions, too. Yes, I adore Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a definite 5-Star book for me. But I also realize it isn’t for everyone.
One of Douglas Adams’ greatest ideas was to write the reassuring words DON’T PANIC on the cover of the fictional book. How many of us could use this comforting reminder on a daily basis today? I could’ve made great use of it around ten to fifteen years ago when I was tumbling down my own self-induced rabbit hole, but that’s a tale best left for a never time. *insert winking emoji here*
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I have the impression that Hitchhiker’s works best for people from the United Kingdom. This is in no way meant to upset or anger anybody, it’s my opinion simply based on the kind of humour that permeates this wonderful book. It’s a very British style of humour filled with satire, sarcasm, the absurd, as well as being very self-deprecating. I’ve heard from friends from different countries that some of them “just don’t get it” when it comes to this book and the rest of the famous “trilogy in five parts“–I don’t recognize the supposed sixth book written by Eoin Colfer, but to be fair I haven’t read it and so it might be good. It just isn’t Douglas Adams.
I devoted a lot more of my free time to growing my YouTube Channel in 2022, which led to more comic books read but less “proper” books completed. Despite this change in hobby priorities, I still published 48 posts in 2022. Of those posts, only 14 were book reviews, 9 were comic book reviews, and 8 were Movie or TV reviews. In total, 31 reviews compared to 34 the year before.
After a quick check on the Wakizashi’s Teahouse YouTube Channel, I see that I made 104 comic book review videos in 2022. Imagine if I’d also posted short written reviews of those comics on WordPress. Definitely something to consider for this year.
In 2022, the Blog got 13,014 views, up 27% on last year. “Visitors” were up 28% compared to 2021. But “Likes” and “Comments” were both down. Most of my traffic came from the United States, followed by the U.K., Australia, Canada, and Germany.
I have returned to Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series and have just started Book 3: The Dragon Reborn. It was Amazon’s TV adaptation that got me back into reading The Wheel of Time. After hearing such a divided reaction to the streaming series, I wanted to return to the source and see what was upsetting a lot of long-term fans of the books. I tried The Eye of the World years ago but never finished it. It just didn’t grab me and I wrote it off as Tolkien fan fiction. I know, I know, it was a rather hasty and foolish decision which I’ve now remedied.
I listened to audiobooks of The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt earlier this year. I enjoyed them both, especially the second book. It felt like Robert Jordan had found his voice and stepped out from behind Tolkien’s shadow. The Great Hunt’s story was also a lot more exciting than the first book’s in my opinion. But I can appreciate the slower-paced set up of The Eye of the World now. I can also understand what many book fans were upset about. The showrunners have changed a lot of the lore, aged up the characters, made some head-scratching casting choices, created new characters and changed some major plot points. Why couldn’t they just adapt the books as they were written?
Taking a leaf fromBookstooge’s book and having some time to kill at work, here is a quote from Patricia McKillip’s 2004 novel Alphabet of Thorn:
“What else did you see?” he asked the odd young woman, who seemed more woodland animal than human. A useful quality in a mage, he thought. Some of us have a harder time forgetting our humanity. ‘Things,’ she said vaguely, remembering them. She took an unconscious step toward him. ‘A tree spoke to me. It looked like a very old man, twisted and slow, with mossy hair down to its ankles and eyes like dead leaves. It did not say much, just my name. I think that’s very strange, that a tree I have never met would know my name. And there were the stags with the fire in their antlers. They did not speak. The warrior followed them.’ ‘The warrior.’ ‘Fully armed, on a white war horse. The warrior wore a great sword with a crosspiece laid with uncut jewels; it looked too long and heavy for anyone human to wield.
A recommendation from Bookstooge, I read Patricia McKillip’s In the Forests of Serre back in July 2020. Her lyrical prose and layered world-building really impressed me and I determined to explore more of her writing. It has only taken me two years to get around to it.
I’m currently about a third of the way into Alphabet of Thorn and I really like it so far. I feel transported to another world when I read this book, and that’s one of the main reasons I love reading works described as “speculative fiction.”
Q. What are you currently reading and how is it so far?
Thanks for reading!
-Wakizashi, *wallowing in the rare luxury of being able to read all day at work; just for today*
It has been a while since I read a Discworld story. Some years ago, I went through a Terry Pratchett reading phase. I started reading the Discworld series in order and got as far as Book 12 Witches Abroad. (I have reviews of Pyramids and Witches Abroad on this blog.) Being a big fan of Sam Vimes, I’ve also read the City Watch books Men At Arms (Book 15) and Feet of Clay (Book 19). Jingo is another City Watch book, and I’ve had it on my kindle for a while. After a rather “heavy” reading experience involving Neal Stephenson, I fancied something light and easy.
Jingo tells the story of a recently discovered island halfway between Ankh-Morpork and Al Khali, the capital city of Klatch. The island is quickly “claimed” by each country due to its strategic importance. Following this, in Ankh-Morpork there is an assasination attempt on a visiting Klatchian prince. This worrying event causes the two countries to break off diplomatic relations and the Klatchian prince’s brother issues a declaration of war. It’s not looking good for Ankh-Morpork as they seem to be lacking both an army and a navy. Can Commander Vimes and the City Watch save the day?
“Better late than never,” or so they say. I’ve started reading The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. The first book, Storm Front was a solid mystery thriller with magic, wizards, demons, and even giant scorpions. It didn’t blow my mind or anything, but I enjoyed reading it. It was an entertaining story with a couple of well-realized characters, plus some gruesome deaths. It was also a nicely manageable 322 pages long. This is my review of the second book in the long-running series: Fool Moon.
“Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.
Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work–magical or mundane.
But just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.
A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses–and the first two don’t count…”
Fool Moon was a very entertaining read and I enjoyed it more than the first Dresden Files book Storm Front; partly because the setting and world-building felt more assured here. The main reason I enjoyed it so much was the way Butcher wrote about werewolves. These creatures are not to be trifled with. You get a real sense of their deadly and frightening power in this book. I think Butcher enjoyed himself exploring werewolf lore and penning some truly uncomfortable and thrilling scenes with the creatures.
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.
‘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)