Tome Topple: Conclusion

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Hello, all. Kate here.

Last week saw the end of the Tome Topple Challenge, a book reading challenge begun by @thoughtsontomes. The challenge itself was designed to get readers together to tackle some of the enormous books on our to-be-read lists. You know the ones – that book by your favorite author that weighs more than your cat, the book with the gorgeous cover that could second as a weapon in the case of a break-in, the one you dropped that one time and actually broke your toe. Those. The tomes.

My list of Tomes was:

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan (592 pages)
The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee (777 pages)
Trigun Omnibus by Yasuhiro Nightow (696 pages)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (532 pages)
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (752 pages)

Each ‘tome’ read was supposed to be 500 pages or longer. My goal, admittedly, was a bit of a stretch. I had five books on my list in an attempt to complete some stretch goals. I thought I’d get through at least half of the books on my Tome Topple tbr. Despite the books being large, some overly so, there was fourteen days to complete reading them. I could do that. I’d read Illuminae in one sitting, and that book was huge. I had complete and utter confidence that I could get through a good number of the books I’d picked for the challenge.

So, of course, I came nowhere close to completing all of them.

It’s called a challenge for a reason, something I seemed to have forgotten in all the excitement. The only book I managed to get all the way through was Trigun Omnibus by Yasuhiro Nightow. Even a manga takes quite a bit of time to get through when it’s 696 pages long. As for the rest, I started most of them. I’ve begun both The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan and am more than halfway through Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Both are very good, and I really want to finish them.

So why did I do just this badly in completing my Tome Topple goals?

I’ll be honest with you. It’s an oncoming reading slump I only just figured out how to combat. I’ve been trying to read an early copy The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter which comes out today, August 22nd, and is only four pages shy of meeting the Tome Topple requirements. While I was very excited to start reading this sequel to war of the worlds I quickly found myself disenchanted, something which I’ll go into at length in an upcoming review. Needless to say, after trying to slog through that for the last several weeks I’ve not really had the ambition to read much of anything at all.

I can’t blame my lack of reading on that book entirely; that isn’t fair. Still, it certainly didn’t help.

Next time I think I will set some smaller goals. A few less books on the to-read list and an attempt at completing only one or two of the challenge goals is probably a smarter idea.

Did anyone else participate in the Tome Topple Challenge? Did you meet your reading goals? Let us know in the comments!

Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 1: Lights Camera Snacktion

30220713 Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 1: Lights Camera Snacktion
By: Natalie Riess
Release Date: 2016
Publisher: Oni Press
Series: Space Battle Lunchtime #1
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Rating:


Here’s a little known fact. I watch a probably unhealthy amount of cooking shows. Not the ones where they actually show you how to make a dish. Nope. I know I can’t cook without the supervision of my mother, even nearing thirty. (Sorry Mom.) I watch all the cooking competition shows. Because, well, everyone has a not quite so guilty pleasure, right? Space Battle Lunchtime, Vol 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess is everything I never knew I needed in a graphic novel. It’s fun, it’s cute, it’s in outer space, and it’s a cooking showdown.

Yes, please.

Review: Killing is My Business by Adam Christopher

9780765379207_c2921 Killing is My Business
By: Adam Christopher
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Tor
Series: Ray Electromatic Mysteries
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Rating:


It may not be immediately obvious from the SFF theme of this blog, but I love a good mystery story. The Ray Electromatic Mysteries by Adam Christopher scratches both itches. Killing is my Business is the second book in this series. It is set in a 1960s noir Los Angeles, features a robot assassin nee private detective, and is more fun than it has any right to be.

What can I say? Robots are cool, damn it, and there should be more stories with them. Or maybe it’s my twelve year old self talking. Either way, I love this concept. I love this series. And more people should be talking about it.

Review: Overlord, Vol. 4: The Lizardmen Heroes by Kugane Maruyama

31934027 Overlord, Vol. 4: The Lizardmen Heroes
By: Hajime Kanzaka
Release Date: (Original) July 31, 2013; (English) May 23, 2017
Publisher: Yen On
Series: Overlord #4
Rating:


Moving is hard. We’ve all done it and we’ve all hated it. It’s stressful, it takes up all of your free time, and all of your books get stuck in boxes. Including the brand new, released-two-days-before-moving-day copy of one of your favorite fantasy light novels. But the boxes are finally empty and Overlord, Vol 4 has been read! Overlord, Vol 4: The Lizardmen Heroes by Kugane Maruyama is a high fantasy adventure following characters who, in another story, would probably be bad guys.

Review: Heathen by Natasha Alterici

9781939424198_e455a Heathen
By: Natasha Alterici
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Vault Comics
Series: Heathen #1-4
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Rating:


When I first saw the cover and read the description I knew I had to read this graphic novel. Heathen by Natasha Alterici is a fantasy tale set in Eastern Europe involving the Nordic gods and a female Viking warrior banished from her homeland for kissing another woman.

Okay. I know this is the part where I go into the plot a little bit. But, first thing’s first. Please allow me to gush about the art.

Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien (Review)

32708664 Beren and Luthien
By: J.R.R. Tolkien (Edited by Christopher Tolkien)
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Middle Earth Universe
Rating:


Every time I see that a new Tolkien book is being published I get unbelievably excited. I can’t help it. Tolkien’s works were one of the first adult fantasy series I’d ever read, and has remained a life-long love. Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien and edited by Christopher Tolkien is the last in a long line of posthumously published works focusing on Middle Earth. This one tells the story of Beren and Luthien, one of the tales found within the Silmarillion.

Review: Afar by Leila del Duca

30796084 Afar
By: Leila del Duca
Release Date: March 29, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Rating:


I’ve been on a quest this year to read more graphic novels. I was initially attracted to Afar by Leila del Duca by the cover art, then equally intrigued by the synopsis. When I had the opportunity to receive a copy from the publisher, I jumped on it.

And then it took me months to get through.

But first, a quick synopsis.

Afar is about two siblings Boetema and her younger brother Inotu. Their parents have recently left the city looking for work, leaving the two siblings at home with some cash to see them through until they can send more. But Boetema has bigger problems. Every night when she goes to sleep she finds herself trapped in someone else’s body. Inotu, who has a knack for getting into trouble, overhears more than he should and finds himself with enemies he really doesn’t want. The two siblings are forced to work together to solve their problems.

Anyway, on to the rest.

The art was, from what I could tell, quite nice. I can’t necessarily speak to it to a great degree, or at least don’t feel comfortable doing so, and for one important reason. I downloaded this to my kindle, a colorless version, for some unknown reason. Probably because I’m just that used to reading black and white manga. Therefore, I was missing elements of this art wise.

Oops.

I have conflicting feelings on this graphic novel. On the one hand, the concept is interesting, the characters are interesting, and I quite like the fantasy setting. On the other hand, I’m not sure the concept really paid off, the world wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been, and the ending was abrupt and unsatisfactory.

The story is set in a nonwestern society. The world itself seems to be set somewhere between a fantasy far past and a science fictional futuristic world, but one where most of the tech was lost or forgotten for some reason. This hints at an interesting past, a world that has a lot of potential. However, this was never really explored in depth. There simply wasn’t any time to, but it is something I would love to see in future installments.

On that note, I’m not positive there are going to be any future installments. I haven’t heard anything about a volume two despite the story being set up rather well for another volume. This graphic novel ends with Inotu writing in his diary and saying that he’ll start again tomorrow in a new notebook since that one is full. I thought this was a very cute and clever way to end volume one and go on to volume two. The only problem is that it looks like there is no volume two, or else there won’t be for quite some time.

If this is a standalone graphic novel there are some issues that can’t be ignored. The plot about Boetema’s parents going off to find work is left hanging. The children have moved on out of necessity, their parents are far away trying to eek out a living and set up a better life for them. Nothing here is resolved. The plotline about the man who, at the start of the novel, threatens Inotu is left off equally unsatisfactory.

I felt much the same way about Boetema’s abilities. The concept is still interesting. When she sleeps, Beotema finds herself in someone else’s body, living their life. The first few times this occurred, I quite liked it. The sections were shorter, featuring all manner of interesting peoples, creatures, and places. However, I began to enjoy these sections less as the story went on. I wasn’t very invested in the ongoing plotline involving the one young woman whose consciousness Boetema continually inhabits. I’m not sure why, but every time one of those sections occurred I found myself wishing that we’d just go back to the plot. Maybe it was because the two parts felt so disconnected. No matter what happened, I just felt that the occurrences in her dreams had no real effect on the majority of the plot line.

What I did like was the way in which the two siblings were portrayed. Their relationship was both wonderful and believable. Despite loving one another, both keep their secrets. These secrets have clear effects on one another. Unlike some other stories I’m not going to mention, they both actually talk about these and clear the air between them. I really liked this. I liked how they relied on one another and clearly cared for each other.

Despite having an interesting concept and some elements I greatly enjoyed, I had to give Afar only three stars. Too many plot lines were left unfinished. Too many questions were never answered. This is quite a shame, because I still think that the potential is there. If a sequel or second volume comes along at some point my opinion and rating may change. But, as this seems to be only a single volume graphic novel, I simply can’t overlook or forgive these issues. If you like stories set in non-European societies or realistic examples of sibling relationships then you should pick up a copy of this graphic novel. If you don’t like plot lines that are left lose this may not be the book for you.

Tome Topple and Our Reading Goals

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Happy first day of Tome Topple, everyone. For the next two weeks we will be reading books that are long. Very long. The books that have sat on our shelves and to be read piles for weeks or months or an embarrassingly longer amount of time than that.

For those who may not know, Tome Topple is a readathon originally created by @thoughtsontomes. The goal of this particular readathon is to read books that are 500 pages or longer. It begins today, August 4th, and ends August 17th.

There are several challenges for anyone who likes some stretch goals. Because who doesn’t like some extra challenge in their readathons?

Here are the challenges:

1. Read more than one book.
2. Read a graphic novel.
3. Read a book in a series.
4. Buddy read a book.
5. Read an adult novel.

I can’t help but feel that 500+ pages books are particularly rampant in sci-fi and fantasy. I mean, two of the books in my Tome Topple TBR are over seven hundred pages long. Or maybe I’m just naturally drawn to unnaturally long books.

And here is my Tome Topple TBR list:

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan (592 pages)
The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee (777 pages)
Trigun Omnibus by Yasuhiro Nightow (696 pages)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (532 pages)
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (752 pages)

I’m not sure how many of these books I’ll actually finish. This is a grand total of 3,349 pages, after all. Even for me that’s pretty excessive. As for the challenges, I do have a graphic novel on my list as well as a couple of book in a series.

But, the attempt will be made! At the very least I expect to finish Strange the Dreamer as that’s a library book and needs to be returned, ironically enough, on August 17th.

Are you participating in Tome Topple? What books will you be reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Throwback Thursday: The Ghost of Sairaag by Hajime Kanzaka

20495340 The Ghost of Sairaag
By: Hajime Kanzaka
Release Date: (Original Japanese 1991); (English Translation) March 8, 2005
Publisher: TokyoPop
Series: Slayers #3
Rating:


I really wish these books were still being translated. The series is a lot of fun, and the books don’t disappoint. This is actually the second time I’ve read The Ghost of Sairaag by Hajime Kanzaka in only a few months. I’d originally started it less than a week before moving, so of course the book got packed away in a box I couldn’t find upon move in, the last chapter still unread. At this point I figured I may as well read the whole thing over again, something I’m never against when it’s one of my favorite series.

Review: your name. by Matoko Shinkai

9780316471862_e2880 your name.
By: Matoko Shinkai
Website: http://shinkaimakoto.jp/
Release Date: (Original Japanese) June 18 2016; (English Translation) May 23, 2017
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating:


I almost always read the book before I watch the movie. In this case it happened purely on accident. I wound up picking up a copy of your name. by Makoto Shinkai from Barnes and Noble during a buy two get one free sale.