The Wheel of Time – Television Series Trailer

Okay, so the teaser/trailer for the upcoming television adaptation of The Wheel of Time released today and it gives us a great first look at what we can expect when the series premieres on Amazon Prime in November. I first read this series in 2019 (crazy to think that was 2 years ago now but 2020 is somewhat of a “missing” year). It is the only series where I documented my read-through here on the blog. I just wanted to share the trailer and briefly talk about my excitement for the upcoming show.

I have to admit that this trailer gives me high hopes for the show. I will try to keep my expectations in check to make sure I don’t ruin anything for myself before I even get to watch it. I am certain the show will be quite different from the books as most adaptations are, especially large books with many characters and subplots like this series has, but I think the core story will remain untouched which is the most important part.

If you haven’t read this series and are interested, there is still plenty of time to start. The first season of the show I believe will cover book one and possibly book two, so you only need to read that far prior to the shows release if you prefer to read the source material first. Then you will likely have another year before the next season gets here. Plenty of time to read the whole series if you feel so inclined or get sucked into the story like I did.

8 More Short Story Collections

I recently started a short story collection and thought it might be a good time to provide a list of several collections I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’m not sure why, but with fall coming up, I feel like it is a good time for short stories. Perhaps it is because I am starting my final few classes of (probably) my final academic degree, and short story collections are excellent for busier times. You can focus on coursework, or work-work if your job gets busier this time of year, but still fit in some reading and try new stories. They are also great because you can pick them up and put them down easily without losing your place. You can slowly go through a collection over months or years, or read them all in a weekend. You may love some but not like others, but there always another new one on the next page. So here is a shoutout to an underappreciated form with several collections I enjoy.

This is “eight more” list because I posted “8 Short Story Collections” earlier last year. Feel free to look at that list as well.

Shadows of the New Sun book coverFirst, the collection I just started is Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe. I found this gem at my library’s annual book sale having never known it existed before. I am a big fan of Gene Wolfe and this collection features two short stories of his and stories written by other writers who were influenced or had personally known Gene Wolfe. Each story has a short description of how the author knew Gene and how he influenced their writing careers or personal lives. I’m only a few stories in, but several other authors I like have stories in this collection including Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, and Timothy Zahn to name a few.

Neil GaimanSpeaking of Neil Gaiman, who has several collections of stories, he also had The Neil Gaiman Reader come out roughly a year ago which contains many of his shorter works and excerpts of several of his novels. It is a great collection especially for those who have not yet read his work and want to try it out.

Stories of Your LifeNext, and I’m sure I’ve recommended this before, is The Story of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Chiang has become one of my favorite, recent science fiction writers. As far as I am aware, he only has two short fiction collections currently published, but I eagerly look forward to more of his work.

Philip K Dick Classic StoriesI feel somewhat obliged to add Philip K. Dick in this list as well since I’ve read several collections of short stories by him. Some are absolutely absurd and others fall more into classic pulp fiction, but many are fantastic and make you think of the world in a different light. For this one, I will choose The Eye of the Sybil and Other Classic Stories

Cathedral book coverNext is another author known more for his short fiction than his other work, Raymond Carver. Though I really like “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” which is the title story of a collection, I’ve already recommended that collection before, so I’m recommending the collection Cathedral whose title story is also a great read.

In the Garden of North American Martyrs book coverAlso known for his shorter form is Tobias Wolff, who is one of my favorite short story writers. I am recommending his collection In the Garden of North American Martyrs. I like almost every story by Wolff and the title story of this collection is definitely near the top of the list if I had to rank his stories in order.

Interpreter of Maladies book coverThe Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is the next in the list. It has a been a long time since I’ve read this collection and my memory does not serve me well outside of the fact that it was a great read. I am even beginning to doubt I finished the entire collection but that only means I need to re-read it soon to better appreciate it.

The Best of Gene Wolfe Book CoverLastly, and returning to Gene Wolfe, is The Best of Gene Wolfe which is a great collection that exhibits many of his “best” works. I enjoyed most of these stories and it was definitely fun to read more of his work.

I hope that you give some of these a chance if you are not a regular short story reader. At the very least, I hope you go out and read a short story sometime soon. You can find many online for free, including my own which you can find here on my blog (I recommend Children of Changyang Mountain).

The Other Side of the Whale Road

The Other Side of the Whale Road Promotion BannerI’m happy to be part of the blog tour featuring The Other Side of the Whale Road by K.A. Hayton. Below is the official blurb for the book, and below that are my thoughts which are kept at a minimum to avoid spoilers but hopefully give you enough information about the book to help you decide if you would like to read it yourself.

When his mum burns down their house on the Whitehorse estate, sixteen-year-old Joss is sent to live in a sleepy Suffolk village. The place is steeped in history, as Joss learns when a bike accident pitches him back more than 1,000 years to an Anglo-Saxon village. That history also tells him his new friends are in mortal peril from bloodthirsty invaders. Can he warn their ruler, King Edmund, in time? And will he ever get home?

I think there are many good things happening in this book. A juxtaposition of different ways of life (present and across time), a troubled teen struggling to find his place in the world after being through the ringer of social services and a debilitated mother, and expectations fostered both internally and externally that are influenced by society. Overall, it is an adventure that touches on a lot of interesting points, a few I feel could have been explored further or in greater detail.

There were many things I liked about this book, but unfortunately several things I did not like about it, which was a bummer because I had high hopes for this story. Perhaps my expectations got the better of me this time around. The overall plot is good and it is easy to read. The time travel element is cool and interesting. I just had trouble personally connecting with the main character. This simply means that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as others will, and have, and that is okay. It could simply have been the fact that I was unable to connect with the sixteen-year-old Joss since I am now a crotchety old man at 30 years old (this is a joke…I think), or it could have been my perception that Joss never seemed at risk despite being placed in dangerous situations, or perhaps I don’t read enough young adult fiction to properly appreciate this story.

To put it bluntly, I think the real reason was simply how Joss treated the women he supposedly cares for within the story and the, albeit somewhat justified, chip on his shoulder. You might find Joss more interesting though and possibly enjoy this story much more than I did. I hope so.

The Other Side of the Whale Road releases on September 2nd.

Happy Reading.

A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms book coverI recently read A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway because for the first time in a long time I didn’t have my next several books lined up to read and I impulsively felt like reading something old. This book was first published in 1929 (nearing 100 years) and is often mentioned as one of Hemingway’s best books or most often discussed at least. I picked it up and surprisingly had it finished in just a few days. I felt as if I could have finished it in a day or an afternoon if I was inclined to do so. It reads easily and quickly and perhaps that is simply Hemingway’s style though I can see how some people may struggle with his form.

The ease of his prose may be the best part of the book. The story is written well enough that you can get through quickly, but the story itself is a bit lacking when it comes to characters. Granted, this book was written in a time when women were still often treated as objects (which is a bit distracting within the book) and men made all decisions, but there is little that makes you care for either Catherine Barkley or Lieutenant Henry.

The story takes place during World War I and follows an American who is an ambulance driver for the Italian army and who enters a relationship with a nurse. This brief oversimplification of the story may lead you to believe it is a romanticized wartime novel, but I must warn you that is absolutely not the case. The merit I found in this book is the description of the war and the return to simpler times which may sound contradictory, but what I mean by simpler is a world society that wasn’t connected 24/7 through technology and people lived their lives, even through a war, in a way that was much simpler than what we know today. I will admit simpler doesn’t translate to easier. It was just a much different world 100 years ago. Sometimes it is nice to see glimpses into that world through novels like this one. It is also interesting to read a book about World War I that was much closer to the actual event and not clouded by how history views the war, and was not written by someone who was not alive during the war.

I know Hemingway is known to have a machismo complex within his writing, and throughout his life, and he is considered a master of literature. However, I think his name has become an icon of something other than what he was or has been placed on a large pedestal and glorified for both good and awful reasons. I also think that many people have not actually read his work, and younger generations would not read it given a choice. I assume that most who read Hemingway today do so in an educational setting. I could be wrong. His is a also name that likely gets invoked by people who claim to have read his work without actually having read it. The same is probably true for Fitzgerald and Dostoevsky and other literary giants who wrote what are considered classics today.

Regardless of the good and bad centered around Hemingway as a name, and the good and bad present within A Farewell to Arms, I am writing this as a book recommendation because I think it was worth reading (for me at least despite having both liked and disliked portions of the book). Perhaps you have not read Hemingway yet and want to give his work a shot. Or perhaps you’ve tried his work and prefer to stay away. Maybe you have always known of Hemingway and stayed away because of his large presence in literature and deem him overrated without actually knowing why you think so. All are valid reasons to make your choice. I only wrote this post because I read the book and found some merit in it. Only you can decide whether or not you want to give it a chance.

Happy Reading.

House of Many Ways

House of Many Ways Book CoverHouse of Many Ways is Diana Wynne Jones’s sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. However, much like the companion novel Castle in the Air, this book spends the first half following a new character without any connection to the world of Howl’s except where magic is involved. It is really just before the halfway point that we get to see the connection, which is primarily Sophie.

Our main character for this book is Charmain Baker, who I must admit is not a very likeable character (despite the fact she is an avid reader herself). She is tasked with watching over her great uncle’s magical house while he is away receiving medical treatment from the elves. She does grow throughout the book, as good characters should, but she is a bit self-centered in a way that doesn’t leave much room to connect. The overall story and magic are fun much like the previous novels so it is definitely worth a read, and it is always good to see more of Howl, Sophie, and Calcifer.

I am glad I decided to read the three Howl books in order of publication because the events of Castle in the Air take place roughly two years prior to House of Many Ways and a few characters show up in this final installment. Though it is not necessary to read Castle in the Air to understand what occurs in House of Many Ways, the experience is enhanced having read the companion novel first. In all honesty, I would dare to call this book a companion novel as well instead of a true sequel because it focuses on new characters and events quite outside that of Howl’s Moving Castle. Some of the locations and the magic are similar, but the same could be said of Castle in the Air. They are all linked but none are truly cohesive in a way you would expect of a continuous story. Howl, Sophie, and Calcifer are more support characters and the overall story has little to do with the first book.

House of Many Ways was first published in 2008. This is 18 years after Castle in the Air and 22 years after Howl’s Moving Castle (and 4 years after the Howl’s Moving Castle film). Despite the time between publications, these stories are all magical in their own way and read as if they could have all been written at the same time. Diana Wynne Jones was truly a gifted and magical writer.

Happy Reading.