Required Reading 2013: August

Well July was interesting, and long. Don’t you think so?

And of course, I rarely blogged again, except I wrote one more extra entry in July than I did in June, so that’s something. It’s not like I have a lot of books to review, anyway, because I haven’t been a fast reader recently.

So here’s what I finished for July from my Required Reading list:

  • The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (4/5) – I really liked this – all that I expected of Dessen, which was very comforting because it felt like I was coming home (or at least, going to a very familiar summer vacation place).
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (3/5) – I was a buzzer beater in finishing this for our discussion. It was good — I loved the writing, but I’m not exactly a huge fan of the story. Still a good start for GGM for me. Not entirely convinced I’d read all his other books, but I’m open to it in the future.

I totally slacked off on A Clash of Kings, and I feel really bad because my buddies are pretty much on track while I’m still on the fourth chapter. Ooops. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood yet? I’ll keep on reading, though — don’t worry about me, buddies! :)Required Reading: August 2013

But anyway, August. I call August a blank slate month, because it feels like I’m starting anew with so many things. This month’s book selections are a bit of a mix, and I honestly just grabbed some books off my shelf without thinking too much about it. :D

August 2013 books!

  • Reread: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – TFG’s book of the month. I read this in 2010, and I’m looking forward to reading this heartwarming story again. :)
  • Spillover: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – I’m not giving up on this! I hope to finish this by mid-August. :)
  • Borrowed: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July – borrowed this from Bennard, after I saw him give this 4 stars. I love the title, and the simple cover, and this one passage from the first story, The Shared Patio:

    Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it’s worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.

    Sigh.

  • Beloved: The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde – I think it’s about time I read the latest Thursday Next novel. :)

I have a feeling GRRM will take up most of my time and I will probably not finish one of these books on time, but I can always hope. :) Just keep reading, just keep reading!

Oh and because it’s also Buwan ng Wika (Language Month) in the Philippines for August, I will be throwing in local stuff in the mix, at least, the light ones that will help me cleanse the palate every now and then. :) I will also hold some giveaways for new books released by my classmates in #romanceclass, so wait for those posts! (Promise, I’ll post about them :D)

I hope you have a fine reading August, friends. :)

Want Books: The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde


Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now.

I have no idea how this book managed to miss my radar. This is another case of “I can’t believe I didn’t hear about this book until someone else told me” book. Am I just so out of the loop with this or am I really not a fan? Pfft. Anyway, thanks to Aaron for the heads up!

The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper FfordeThe Song of the Quarkbeast: A Last Dragonslayer Novel by Jasper Fforde
Hodder & Stoughton, Released November 8, 2011

As the background Wizidrical Power slowly builds after the Big Magic, King Snodd IV of Hereford realises the man who controls Magic controls almost anything.

But one person stands between him and his plans for power and riches: Jennifer Strange, sixteen-year-old acting manager of Kazam.

It may involve a trip on a magic carpet at the speed of sound to the Troll Wall, it may involve a second Quarkbeast sniffing around town. It might also involve the mysterious Transient Moose, and a powerless sorceress named Once Magnificent Boo. But one thing is certain: Jennifer Strange and her faithful assistant Tiger Prawns will not relinquish the noble powers of magic to big business and commerce without a fight.

Okay, I knew Jasper Fforde would be releasing another Dragonslayer novel this year, but it just totally slipped my mind. This just sounds so absolutely crazy and fantastic, just like all Jasper Fforde novels are. :) I cannot wait to get my hands on this.

Of course, since Christmas is coming, I should really hold back and hope someone gets this for me. *hint hint* That is, if I don’t cave and get this for myself when I get to 50k in NaNoWriMo. :D Hmmm.

On another note! Mr. Fforde posted this on his website last month:

Fforde News Flash
12th Oct 2011

++ News on the latest book. Despite assurances that I was working on a ‘Super-Secret-Standalone’ book to be published in Spring 2012, it now looks set to be TN7: Dark Reading Matter. This is due to the lack of time available to work on a new book, and properly develop the new characters, settings and tone.

TN7 will be in draft form by December 2011, probably for publication in May 2012. DS-3, The Return of Shandar is still slated to be written in the first six months of 2012, with publication in November 2012. My standalone will thus be pushed back to being written in the latter part of 2012, with publication in 2013.

This two book a year thing can be quite frustrating, especially with a new baby and the house being rebuilt, but we should be back on track soon. ++

Looks like 2012 will be another Fforde year, yes? :)

One of Our Thursdays is Missing

One of our Thursdays is MissingOne of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next # 6
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Number of pages: 416
My copy: trade paperback, bought from National Bookstore

It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld.

Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?

All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.

The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.

* * *

I was planning to put off reading Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next book until I found the time to reread the first five books. It’s been years since I last read any of them, so I thought I’d appreciate reading this latest one better if I read the first ones again. Never mind that there are five of them and it would take significant time off my real TBR. But then I got sick a few weeks before I had to fly to Europe, which got me worried about all kinds of things especially because of that trip to Europe. I needed a book to get my mind off the possibilities that my 48-hour on/off fever could mean, so I finally decided to unearth TN #6 out of the TBR pile. If there was an ultimate escape novel, I figured Thursday Next should be one.

Some spoilers for the first five books — be warned!

So the last time Thursday Next was in the Book World, she ended up looking for a replacement for her character in her series because the original fictional Thursday Next was too violent to be her. One of Our Thursdays is Missing is told from this new fictional Thursday’s point of view — a gentler, bohemian character who never tries to make waves even if it means being the boring Thursday Next that no one likes. But when she gets called by the Jurisfiction to investigate a crashed TransGenre Taxi. Fictional Thursday Next finds herself in the middle of a mystery that gets her involved in all sorts of fictional drama, and a robot butler to boot. With the real Thursday Next missing, it’s up to fictional Thursday Next to save the day.

I think it was Aaron who mentioned the perfect word to describe the Thursday Next series: it’s so meta. The first five Thursday Next books are pretty much meta-fiction – fiction about fiction. It’s what makes all the books so much fun to read especially for book-lovers, because we’re basically reading about books that we may or may not have read. And just as when you think that Jasper Fforde has no way to impress longtime fans of the series, he does something completely surprising and makes it work. If the first five books were meta-fiction, the sixth book is meta-Thursday Next. Meta-meta-fiction – that’s what this is. Kind of hard to wrap my mind around it, but it still works. One of Our Thursdays is Missing has all elements of a Fforde novel: seemingly random characters, odd accidents, mystery, murder, all wrapped in a fun, seemingly absurd package. Jasper Fforde is a genius, I tell you. :)

This book cheered me up so much while I was sick, especially after reading lines like these:

The Snooze button was reserved only for dire emergencies. Once utilised, a reverse throughput capacitor on the ImaginoTransference engines would cause the reader instantaneous yawning, drowsiness and then sleep…To discourage misuse, every time the button was pressed one or more kittens were put to death somewhere in the Book World. (p. 26-27)

I fell asleep several times while I was reading this. I wonder who was hitting the Snooze button.

Harry Potter was seriously pissed off that he’d have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe. (p. 75)

Hee hee!

“The Great Gatsby drives taxis in his spare time?”

“No, his younger and less handsome or less intelligent brother — the Mediocre Gatsby.” (p. 273)

I was a bit afraid that it would be hard to get back into the series again especially since it’s been so long since I read the first five books, but given that this book is narrated by the fictional Thursday Next, I didn’t have such a hard time. I don’t recommend starting the series with this book, though, but there is no need to reread the other books to make sense of this one.

One of Our Thursdays is Missing probably isn’t as witty as the first four books (best one for me is still Something Rotten), but it’s a good and fun addition to an already awesome series. :) The question is: will there be a next Thursday Next book? I sure hope so! :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Bookmarked!

The Last Dragonslayer

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper FfordeThe Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Dragonslayer # 1
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Number of pages: 281
My copy: paperback, from Fully Booked

In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in the magic release form B1-7g. But somewhere, somehow, the magic started draining away.

Jennifer Strange runs Kazam!, an employment agency for state-registered magicians, soothsayers and sorceresses. But work is drying up. Drain cleaner is cheaper and quicker than a spell. Why trust a cold and drafty magic carpet when jetliners offer a comfy seat and an in-flight movie? And now potions are eligible for VAT…

But then the visions start. The Last Dragon is going to be killed by a Dragonslayer at 12.00 on Sunday. The death will unleash untold devastation on the UnUnited Kingdom, setting principality against dukedom and property developer against homesteader. And all the signs are pointing to Jennifer Strange, and saying”Big Magic is coming!”

The Last Dragonslayer is fizzing with all the creativity and genius Jasper Fforde’s fans delight in, and will appeal as much to the young at heart as to the younger readers for whom it is written.

* * *

If you know me really well or if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’d know that I tend to gravitate towards contemporary fiction books. It’s not that I don’t like speculative fiction (I do, very much), but I just prefer reading about real life and the real world because it feels easier to understand than a world full of impossibilities.

However, I make an exception for some authors, and Jasper Fforde is one of them. Before I even got to know John Green, Jasper Fforde is the first author that can do no wrong in my book. I fell in love with his world in 2006 when I read Something Rotten (yes, I read the fourth Thursday Next book first. Gasp!) even if it’s the most outrageous world I have ever read. I searched for all his books after that and declared him my favorite, making me read more because of all his literary references. He’s one of those authors whose books I know I can get lost in easily whenever I need something to escape without the additional mental strain of having to figure out their world every now and then.

So it’s really no question that when he released his first YA book, I would be there to get it and gobble it up. You think?

The Last Dragonslayer stars Jennifer Strange, a fifteen (almost sixteen) orphan who manages the Kazam!, a magical agency that provides jobs for magicians and sorcerers. Magic has been on a steady decline for years now, and there were less and less jobs for them to use magic. They have gone down to use magic to bring down cats from trees and fix household items like replacing a bathroom faucet with magic just to keep Kazam up and running. Still Jennifer tries to make do, and for someone who’s mature for her age, she does it very well. Up until she hears a premonition about the last dragon dying. Dragons are fierce creatures that are said to eat humans and destroy homes but was contained by the Dragonpact years ago by the Mighty Shandar. Jennifer had no big concerns about the dragon dying until the wizards under her care started experiencing surges in power, but it became more of a problem when the premonition says that the dragon will die in the hands of a dragon slayer, and Jennifer is involved. What’s a foundling like Jennifer to do now?

This book had everything I loved about Jasper Fforde. The best thing about his novels is how real they are even in their impossibility. Fforde writes in such a deadpan manner that you just can’t help but believe what he writes no matter how outrageous they all seem to be. It takes a while to fully get into the world, but once you’ve accepted the world his characters move in, you’re in for a very, very fun ride. Fforde knows his worlds, and it’s amazing because The Last Dragonslayer‘s world is different from his other works — is there no end to this guy’s imagination?

In addition to the solid world building, the characters are also very real and wacky, with very fun names to boot! Jennifer Strange is a lovely narrator, akin to Thursday Next but with less of the adult jadedness. The villains were annoying all the way to the end, but that doesn’t mean they were less hilarious. :P Even the dragon (of course the dragon talks in Fforde’s world!) stands on his own, and if there was anything I would wish for this novel, it was more of the dragon.

If you’ve been a longtime fan of Jasper Fforde, you will not be disappointed by his YA venture, and I bet like me, you’d be clamoring for more! If you’re new to Jasper Fforde and his adult novels intimidate you (which you really shouldn’t be because they’re awesome), The Last Dragonslayer is a good book to get your feet wet. :)

Oh, and one more wish, if I may. I want my own Quarkbeast. :P One of Jennifer’s loyal sidekicks, a Quarkbeast is described as:

Often described as one tenth Labrador, six tents velociraptor and three tenths kitchen food blender, the Quarkbeast’s razor sharp fangs and hideously frightening demeanour mask a quieter side that rarely, if ever, eats cats.

I don’t know why, but whenever the Quarkbeast is mentioned in the novel, I remember Hyperbole and a Half‘s ALOT.

Does anyone else get the same impression?

More fun information on all things Strange in Jasper Fforde’s website. :) I’m not sure if this is a standalone novel or if it would become a series, but I definitely wouldn’t mind if this becomes a series. More YA, Fforde! :)

Quark! :3

Rating:

Other reviews:
Bart’s Bookshelf
Mad Bibliophile
Stories in My Pocket

Waiting on Wednesday: One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

I’m sorry for the lack of posts here over the weekend — I needed a mental health day so I went up North with some of my friends. I hardly read during the weekend so there wasn’t much to review save for the post before this. I’m getting back on track now, but I have to write some more stuff on the other blog and do work and deal with real life, so now, I give a Waiting on Wednesday post.

I’ve made a rule for myself in making this post. I will only really post about books that I really am waiting for, and not just any book I spotted online. I’ve posted other WoWs about books that I just saw and I never got them, or when I got them, I was underwhelmed. From now on, this will only be for the releases I am really anticipating.

My last WoW was from one of my favorite YA authors, Sarah Dessen. This time, I’m waiting for another book from a favorite author and a favorite series:

One of Our Thursdays is MissingOne of our Thursdays is Missing

One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
Release Date: February 22, 2011

Jasper Fforde’s exuberant return to the fantastical BookWorld opens during a time of great unrest. All-out Genre war is rumbling, and the BookWorld desperately needs a heroine like Thursday Next. But with the real Thursday apparently retired to the Realworld, the Council of Genres turns to the written Thursday.

The Council wants her to pretend to be the real Thursday and travel as a peacekeeping emissary to the warring factions. A trip up the mighty Metaphoric River beckons-a trip that will reveal a fiendish plot that threatens the very fabric of the BookWorld itself.

Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite grown up authors, and Thursday Next is one of my heroines. I thought all of her adventures ended in Something Rotten, but I was thrilled to know Fforde was writing another book. I got First Among the Sequels three years ago (!!!) and loved it, and the wait for the next was just too long. I’m so glad I won’t have to wait any longer, since this will be out in 13 days (as of this post)!

It’s such a Fforde year for me this year, as I finally got my copy of The Last Dragonslayer a week ago, and then this next book is coming out very soon. I can’t wait to get my hands on this — I wonder what craziness will Thursday be up against next? I think the first five Thursday Next books are up for a reread. The question is: do I have the time to do that? :o

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.