Tuesday, October 30, 2018

#RIPXIII Update 3

I have a HUGE stack of RIP books here to mention to you before the end of the month and the perilous reading season. Grab a cup of tea or cocoa because I'm going to need your attention for a while!

I really wish I had the energy to write a full post about The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin because this was an amazing book. First, it's told in a completely unique way. One point of view is told through images, mental pictures sent from the titular elfin character back to his government. The other point of view is told in words, by a goblin archivist named Werfel, who is hosting Brangwain on his historic state visit after years of animosity. The difference between the two accounts is noticeable and is affected by each character's background and the history they were taught. It's an amazing exposure for middle grade students to the concept of "history being written by the victors". But it's also a darkly funny and infinitely perilous story about how to mend relationships that need not remain fractured. This is such an incredibly timely book and I hope it finds its way into lots of elementary and middle school libraries.

And yay! I finally started Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series with Rivers of London. It was strange to read a modern story because I don't do that very often but once I got used to that, I had a lot of fun with this world and Grant himself. I really do love "magic in the real world" stories! I'll definitely be continuing on with the series and already have the second book from the UK. (They are in trade paperbacks there and only mass market here, which I don't like to read because you have to bend them more.)

I did second reads as listens for The Prisoner of Heaven and The Angel's Game. Rereading this series before diving into Carlos Ruiz Zafón's final book in the group was an inspired idea. Seeing all of the small details fit together and the picture of mid-century Barcelona grow has been a joy. I also liked reading these two in the opposite order from which they were published. I understand why they came out in the order they did originally, with an unreliable narration followed by a more factual account, but I also liked reading them the other way, with a sad history being brushed over by a more palatable, if not-so-accurate account.

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand was a quick trip into a creepy manor house with a British folk band who are recounting the experience years later. I liked the interview format but also felt that it was a little impersonal at times. Still, for a quick little book, it packed a punch and was a perfect RIP tale.

Then, the reason for the season, Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel! Written by A.W. Jantha, the first two hundred pages are a faithful retelling of the movie with a couple of minor changes to reflect more modern sensibilities about what are acceptable ways to talk to girls/women. I really liked that update. And then the second three hundred pages is a story about Max and Allison's daughter, Poppy -- her friendships, love life, and accidental summoning of the Sanderson sisters, among other witches. It was a good, solid teenage witch story with some good reveals (lesbians, good witches, the return of Binx) but I didn't fall entirely in love with it. I am also not the target audience so I'm sure that other readers will form a much greater attachment to the tale.

Now I'm caught up to Readathon time, when I got through a bunch of quick little books. The first was Mary Stewart's The Little Broomstick, published in 1971 but experiencing a new life after being made into the film Mary and the Witch's Flower by Studio Ponoc, an animation studio formed by former Studio Ghibli staff members. I love that film and this book is just as good! I'm glad I picked it up.

Next was the second Murderbot novella, Artificial Condition by Martha Wells. I didn't think the story could improve on what happened in the first volume but this absolutely did. I even got teary at a line near the end about hugs. I have the third and fourth (and final) books on my library hold list but I'm going to be buying myself copies of this set at some point. The writing is amazing, the ideas are fresh, and the bite-sized portions are perfect.

I was a bit late to the Kate Milford party so I missed out on some of her earlier Kickstarter projects, like this novella -- The Kairos Mechanism, which happens soon after the events of The Boneshaker and reunites us with Natalie Minks in the odd town of Arcane. Luckily, Milford found a few extra copies around and put them up for sale on her website. (There are three copies left for $55 each, signed by the author and the papercut artist, and including a papercut "pin" in each one.) The depth of her stories always staggers me and this one was no different. I adore the worlds she has created!

My last full Readathon read was this awesome Manga Classics version of The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe. As most of you know, Poe is one of my things and the five stories covered here are done justice with this format. The illustrations and text formatting on The Raven are stellar and I even enjoyed rereading The Masque of the Red Death, which is not one of my favorite Poe stories. This would be a great place for someone to start who is new to Poe.

While I was getting through many of these books, I was listening to David Wong's (actually Jason Pargin's) John Dies at the End, which is a weird title because John dies way before that. But this was a LONG and increasingly crazy horror/humor/sci-fi tale that, for all of its crass jokes, was smart and fun and I really loved listening to it. I'm not sure if I'll go on with the series but I'll definitely watch the movie version sometime soon.

(Almost done!) Next I dove into the first of six books I bought in Penzler Press' new American Mystery Classics series, The So Blue Marble by Dorothy B. Hughes. (The second set of six will be out in the spring of 2019.) This was SUCH a good story! It was dark and frightening and surprisingly violent for a mystery from 1940. I liked the New York setting and will definitely be searching out more of Hughes' books now, especially the three that became films.

And finally, I need to mention my relisten of Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger. That is such an incredible book! If you haven't gotten to it for the first time yet, you really should. It's the most subtle of ghost stories. The true horror, as we can attest to, usually lies is the real world.

I'm finishing out the month by going slowly (as much as I can when I'm so excited about it!) through The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I'm about 200 pages through the 800 page tome and it is amazing. And remember, he has written these books so that you can read them in any order. This one might be a bit intimidating to pick up first because of its size but the story moves along well and is already ridiculously intense.

Well, this is the end of my RIP reading season, friends. Twenty-five books finished, many new favorites found. I got to read the new Jasper Fforde before it comes out in the US and am buried in the latest Carlos Ruiz Zafón -- two of my all-time favorite authors. I got to meet Murderbot! I traveled through time and space and braved murderers, ghosts, monsters, and more. What fun!

Tell me ... did you have a favorite RIP read this year? Also, if you are in the US, have you voted or are you planning to?

Escaping the peril unscathed,


  1. Wow! What a great list! Some of these are going right on my wishlist. So glad you had fun with these; while I too wish you'd been able to blog about each in more detail, I can hardly complain as I'm overwhelmed with Life myself. Happy RIP!

    1. Thanks! I can't wait for things to calm down but I'm guessing that won't be until January now for most of us. :P

  2. Wow, you've been busy! I love Zafon, Ben Aaronovitch, and The Little Stranger and totally want to give Wylding Hall a try. Great post. :)

  3. If you’re into Poe you should read Devils in Daylight. It’s a Japanese suspense novel based on a Poe story!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I hadn't heard of that one.

  4. The Manga Poe sounds wonderful—great way to revisit favorites and encounter new stories. Sounds like you really embrace the spooky reading series, which is such fun. Excellent post.