Challenge: 50 Books discussion

*Retired* 2008 Lists > Peggy's Reading Challenge

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message 1: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Book number one will be Jeff and Ann VanderMeer's anthology The New Weird. I've followed some of the debates about what is and is not New Weird, and I'm still kind of confused, but a quick glance at the table of contents tells me I'm bound to like it.

Barker's "In the Hills, the Cities" is one of my favorite stories, and the other contributors are all either writers I'm familiar with and enjoy, or writers I've meant to get around to reading and just haven't yet, so I'm excited to get started.

message 2: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments The New Weird is done, and great. I'll post a review soon. I've also finished Book #2, the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, which was terrific. I wouldn't have thought that the Other Mother could be creepier than she was in my imagination, but I was oh so wrong. Book 3 will be Alan Moore's new League book, and after that is Ellen Datlow's new all-original horror anthology Inferno.
So far, so good!

message 3: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) oh man! I read Coraline last month. I have to see the graphic novel for it. And a horror anthology. You are a goldmine of great book information. I will be reading some of the sci-fi books you recommended to me. Thank you sooo much for posting.

Oh. On the Neil Gaiman site they have a limited edition Coraline hardcover, signed and numbered (1-1000) It goes for about $60. Not sure if you would be interested in that or maybe you are already on to it. The movie is supposed to come out this fall.

message 4: by Peggy (last edited Jan 12, 2008 10:53PM) (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Heh. I love Coraline, but not that much.

Book #4 was Inferno, edited by Ellen Datlow. All-original anthologies are hard to come by these days, so it was a treat to pick up Datlow's collection. By and large these horrors are more grounded in everyday reality than in eldritch monsters. As mood pieces, some of these stories are phenomenal, managing to be completely disquieting with very few concrete details.

Book #5 was the upcoming The Snake Charmer by Jamie James. It tells the story of Joe Slowinsky, a herpetologist who lost his life on an expedition in Burma when he was bitten by a many-banded krait. It was a fascinating portrait of a sometimes-exasperating man who lived and died by his own set of rules.

Book #6 is One Big Damn Puzzler by John Harding. The title is taken from a character's translation of Shakespeare's Hamlet into South Pacific island pidgin ["Is be, or no is be? Dat one big damn puzzler."] So far (I'm about halfway in) so good, as well-intentioned America meets a culture it is simply not equipped to deal with.

message 5: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Hi Troy, and thanks!

It all depends on what kind of stuff you like (or don't like) and what you're in the mood for. If you like Magical Realism, you'll probably like The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts and its sequels. If you don't like that kind of book, it won't do much for you.

That said, you've already picked some doozies. I'd suggest John Scalzi's The Android's Dream if you like science fiction, and maybe Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man if you don't.

Tell me what kinds of stuff you like, and I'll be happy to suggest more.

message 6: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Book #6 is done, and quite fun, if a bit message-y: yes, Americans, even those with good intentions (and there aren't many of those) ruin everything. I get it. Still the parts that are funny are quite funny, and it was an enjoyable read.

Book #7 was Victor Gischler's upcoming Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse. Perhaps you've noticed while looking over my book list a penchant for unusual titles. When I saw this one, I knew I had to have it, because having a book called Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse is just darn fun. The mixing of horrific, in-your-face violence with smart-ass humor is tricky, and Gischler isn't always successful at it. Still, I did a lot of laughing, and there's one throwaway joke towards the end that had me howling.

Book #8 is Jeffrey Ford's The Shadow Year, an expansion of a terrific short story called "Botch Town."

Book #9 is a manuscript for Dennis Lehane's October 2008 release The Given Day, which is set (at least so far) in Boston in 1918 and which has a baseball connection that I look forward to reading. For some unknown reason, although I am not particularly a baseball fan, I like novels about baseball.

After that, I've got the new Lumby book, the new Stephen King book, and an upcoming reprint collection of some of Richard Matheson's short stories all staring at me, and I'm sure something else will show up that I just have to read, too.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)


If you like unusual titles, try "The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse" and "Nostradamus Ate My Hamster." Both by Robert Rankin. I tried Chocolate Bunnies but couldn't get into it. Very unusual but also funny. It just takes the right frame of mind, I think. Plus, I get the distinct impression drugs may have been involved in the writing of it (kidding). Haven't yet tried Hamster but it's on The List.

message 8: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Diana, that is the best title EVER! How can i have missed this book? I must find it!

message 9: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Thanks for the nudge, Diana. I've been eyeing The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse for a while, now. I read Rankin's Armageddon: The Musical a loooooong time ago, but I don't have a really clear memory of it. I suspect I was far too young to get it.

message 10: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Oh, and naughty Richard Matheson jumped the queue and became Book #8.

Button, Button is collection of previously printed stories from Matheson's career. Matheson is an amazing writer. Just look at I Am Legend or The Incredible Shrinking Man or the fabulous collection Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (which contains the uber-creepy story "Prey," which I get shivery just thinking about). Even second rate Matheson is still better than a lot of stuff out there.

Matheson was one of the original Twilight Zone writers, and you'll recognize that style, and perhaps even an episode or two, within these stories. My personal favorite is "Pattern For Survival," but I'm sure you'll find your own.

message 11: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Book #9 was Gail Fraser's newest Lumby book, Lumby's Bounty. Like the others in the series, this was a gentle, sweet book with a good sense of humor.

Book #10 was Jeffrey Ford's The Shadow Year, an expansion of his story "Botch Town." All the things I liked about "Botch Town" were here, and the story went somewhere that I wasn't expecting, which is always nice.

Book #11 will be GoodReads' own Jeremy C. Shipp with his novel Vacation, which I am really looking forward to.

message 12: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Book #11, Vacation, was a stunner. See my review for more details.

Book #12 was The Dragon's Nine Sons by Chris Roberson, also a terrific read.

Book #13 is Steve Aylett's Lint, a surreal biography of a science fiction author who never existed.

Book #14 is The Coalwood Way, Homer Hickham's first follow-up to Rocket Boys, which was a truly magical read.

message 13: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Finished #13 Lint (amazing!) and #14 Coalwood and also #15 The Invisible Man (Wells, not Ellison) and Jeff VanderMeer's upcoming novella from England, The Situation (#16).

message 14: by Emily (new)

Emily | 74 comments This is the first time I've checked out your list, and I wanted to thank you for posting about the adaptation of Coraline. I loved Coraline, but didn't know about the graphic novel. I can't wait to check it out!

message 15: by Peggy (last edited Feb 25, 2008 09:49AM) (new)

Peggy | 17 comments My pleasure, Emily--I hope you enjoy the book.

Book #17 was the upcoming May release The Billionaire's Vinegar.

message 16: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Book #18 was a graphic novel called Life Sucks by Jessica Abel. Some nice twists on the vampire mythology and a truly winning main character in Dave, the slacker "vegetarian vampire" (he only drinks past its date plasma, so he doesn't have most of the vampire abilities we're used to). This is a funny, sweet, and sad story, and I look forward to a sequel.

Book #19 was The Last Real Season by Mike Shropshire, about baseball in 1975, the year before free agency came in. There's some great anecdotes, and it's nice to have a picture of baseball in that era, but it doesn't really go anywhere.

Book #20 was Wrack and Ruin by Don Lee. I've never read anything by Lee, and this tale of an Asian American artist-turned brussel sprouts farmer is a nice introduction. There are some terrific crazy characters here that manage to be believable as well as odd, and Lee has a great comic touch. But there are also some serious issues being discussed here, including development, the environment, cultural identity, growing up, and the ties of family. All of the craziness leads to a very understated ending that somehow works.

message 17: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Book #21 was Richard Ellis's upcoming Tuna: A Love Story. I love his books, but they're just depressing as hell these days. You can tell he really wants to be all giddy and rapturous at the wonders of the tuna, but all of this "we're killing the ocean. No really." stuff keeps getting in the way. Heartbreaking stuff, and a mighty fine read.

Book #22 was Rabih Alameddine's The Hakawati, which was staggeringly good. Read my review for the full details.

message 18: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 17 comments Book #23 was a re-read of Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners for my book group. She's one of my favorites: great writer, terrific sense of humor, and some of the best "atmosphere" going.

Book #24 was Stefan Merrill Block's The Story of Forgetting, which I wrote about here.

Book #25 was Jeff VanderMeer's newest from PS Publishing, The Situation. For such a small, pretty thing, it sure packed a heck of a wallop.

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