29 December 2004

More Reading

In which I make it to the 50 novels mark and beyond, and discover just how much manga I've crammed into my brain lately.


  1. The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman. This is the sequel to Anno-Dracula, and is basically more of the same: a solid steampunk vampire novel that continues from the question "What if van Helsing et al hadn't killed Dracula? This time, the focus is on World War I, in which Dracula has made himself a major figure. There are other characters from the previous book, but the main character is new, and the plot focuses on his determination to take out Manfred von Richthofen (aka The Red Baron). I think this book is somewhat better written than its predecessor. It was a fun read, anyway.
  2. Threshold by Caitlín R. Kiernan. Once upon a time, I had a gift
    certificate to Bolen Books, and wandered about in the store trying to decide what to buy. In the end, it came down to a tossup between Threshold and China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. For whatever reason, I decided to go with Perdido. I think I thought the store would have fewer copies, and that Threshold would still be there the next time I went in (why I thought this, I have no idea). Anyway, next time I was there, there were plenty of copies of Perdido on the shelf, and not a single one of Threshold. Sigh. I finally got a copy on eBay. And now I've read it. And it was really, really good. The writing was amazing--a nice combination of literary and readable (actually, I think good literature should always be readable, but not everyone seems to agree). The story was dark and spooky and . . . addictive, perhaps. You know, the old "I couldn't put it down." I think I am in love with this writing, and intend to find more of Kiernan's work at the soonest opportunity. The funny thing is, I've read her comics work, and I read her blog nearly every day, but it's taken me this long to read her fiction. Perhaps there is some malfunction in my brain?
  3. The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket. Here's another book that's more of the same, only better. Snicket's books keep getting longer, but they are also fuller. Richer? Anyway, it saddens me to think that many adults will miss out on this series because they don't read kids' fiction, and that even many of those who do will likely give up after the first couple of volume because the series comes across as quite repetitive at first. On the other hand, it fills me with glee to think I've read something secret. (Well, okay, it's a hugely popular series, so I'm really only deluding myself, but what the hell.)

I'm rather pleased that Threshold is number 50. It seems appropriate that a book that had such an effect on me (even to the point of making me feel more positive about my own writing and making me want to get back at it more seriously) should occupy this prominent position. I made it to 50, and 50 is Threshold (or whatever).

Sequential Art:

I made it to blogging this before it got too out of hand, so the list won't be quite as monumental as usual. I think I do need to get some more Western comics back into my diet. You know, to balance things out.

  1. Lone Wolf and Cub: Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger (volume 7) by Kazue Koike and Goseki Kojima.
  2. Ranma 1/2 volume 2 by Rumiko Takahashi.
  3. Ranma 1/2 volume 3 by Rumiko Takahashi.
  4. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind volume 4 by Hayao Miyazaki. Woo hoo! The comic shops (two different ones) kept not having this volume in, and then when I was supposed to be doing some last-minute holiday shopping, I found it. Yay!
  5. Prétear volume 1 by Kaori Naruse. I wasn't expecting much of this book--it's just too pretty and pink--but I found myself liking it quite a lot. And anyway, a book that uses fairytale motifs can't be all bad, can it? This is a Snow White retelling (well, sort of), though it reads more like Cinderella at first, with a stepmother and mean stepsisters. But there are seven dwarfs, except they're not dwarfs, they're pretty boy knights of various ages. I will be looking for volume two (I do kind of wish the author hadn't made the Snow White connection explicit by putting it in the subtitle, though--I like to figure these things out for myself).
  6. Kwaïdan by Jung and Jee-Yun. I picked this up on a whim when it was one sale, because it has such a gorgeous cover. Well, the gorgeous art continues throughout, in full colour, no less (manga is usually black and white, sometimes with a few colour pages at the beginning). The story was a haunting ghost story and love story, with love spanning ages, etc, etc. There's some cool fight action, too, and some really creepy child ghosts. The only real complaint I had was that the nice thick stock that the pages were printed on--while it looked great--made the pages hard to turn (yeah, pout pout). It's nice, sometimes, to have graphic novel that stands alone and isn't part of an endless series.
  7. Stone volume 1 by Hiromoto-Sin-Ichi. Here's another one I wasn't expecting much from. The art really isn't very good--there's some nice background stuff like buildings and machinery, but the people are mostly pretty amateurish. The story sounded like fairly standard fare. But when I read it, I was much more involved than I thought I would be. I still wouldn't call it great, but it's probably worth another look--at least if I can get the next volume cheap or borrow it.

I probably won't read any more fiction until the new year (I'll start with Perdido Street Station, which I still haven't read). I have a couple of non-fiction library books to get out of the way, and then some non-fiction things-to-review. Yup.

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