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[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey CranorWelcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Published by Harper Perennial on October 20, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT+, Science fiction
Pages: 401
ISBN: 9780062351425

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Let me begin by saying I adore Welcome to Night Vale… the podcast, that is. It is wacky, and cute, and warm, and creepy, and I love it. And if you aren’t listening to it yet you should give it a try. Last year the WTNV crew also did a live tour and visited Amsterdam, and I went. And it’s hard to describe how much that night meant to me. Before that, I was going through a period where I had trouble connecting to the world. But that night gave my life a little bit of shine and (although I don’t think WTNV was single-handedly responsible for this) after that everything got sort of better as far as the disconnectedness goes.

So yes, I love WTNV, and as a result I was really looking forward to this book. Preordered it the moment I heard about it. Went so far as to get a signed edition from the US.

And… ah. I won’t say the book is a disappointment, but it also didn’t live up to expectations. I hate it when that happens.

The book isn’t great, but it also isn’t bad. It was just sort of meh? I know the book had big boots to fill what with the podcast being a piece of perfection, and it seems Fink and Cranor might have overestimated their abilities. Now I sound mean, I don’t mean it in a bad way, the book wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the podcast. Ouch.

I had two three problems with this book: Firstly, it was unnecessarily slow. I don’t need the book to be a wild roller coaster ride and move too fast, but the story and descriptions just went on and on. Getting through the first 300-or-so pages felt like a big task. This brings me to my second problem: the style that works for the podcast just doesn’t work for a book. The beginning was too random, too quirky, and all that is fun, fantastic, in the podcast, but apparently not for a 400-page book. If anything its quirkiness made the book feel kind of unfinished? And then my third problem (which was also a cause for my first problem?) is that I didn’t care about the characters all that much. I just didn’t care about their problems, and the book also didn’t make me feel curious to find out how they were going to fix everything. This got better in the last 100 pages, and I ended up liking the characters quite a bit by the time I finished the book. But still, that’s not good enough.

I guess I was secretly hoping to learn more about the characters that we know from the podcast. Cecil, Dana, Carlos, Steve… but they all play minor roles. I think the book at least managed to introduce some sort-of-new characters and now that I finished the book I am happy to have gotten to know these characters. So yes, for most of the book I was considering giving it three stars, but it deserves an extra half star for the fact that I ended up caring for the characters after all. Hope to see them back in the podcast, I suppose?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows

Top Ten Tuesday This week’s prompt is Top Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows. Personally, I prefer TV shows. I just love watching them and I think many books would be better off as TV shows rather than movies. In the end, some of my picks still ended up as movies because I guess it sometimes just works. Anyway, I had a lot of fun thinking about this week’s topic!

Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows

  1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
    I love the movies, don’t get me wrong. But more out of sentimentality than because they are actually good (some of them are ok, some are downright disasters). But imagine the books as a TV series! Every book would be a season and it would be amazing and squeee.
  2. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
    I love these books and I think they’d make a fantastic fantasy series. No more than two seasons though.
  3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
    Same as Seraphina! But perhaps three seasons, a season per book.
  4. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh
    This book is still one of my favourites ever and I think it would be amazing as a movie. I imagine it a bit along the lines of (the dystopian parts of) Cloud Atlas, somehow.
  5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
    Please let someone turn this into a movie!
  6. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    I’ve obviously only read the first book, but this would make an A+ sci-fi tv series.
  7. The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox
    Yes, yes, I know there’s already a movie. But it was puke-worthy in so many ways (removing the romance between Xas and Sobran, letting everyone speak English with a French accent, etc.). I want a new movie that does justice to the book. I also want the director of the old movie to step on a Lego.
  8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
    Just imagine this as a movie! Best thing ever yes/yes?
  9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  10. Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling
    If Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (yayyy) can become a movie, I don’t see why this one can’t. *grabby hands*

Congrats, self. You made a list of nothing but science fiction and fantasy books. *pats self on shoulder*

2014 Top Ten

2014 Top Ten

So after last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, where I featured my favourite science fiction books of 2014, my initial idea was to make separate Top Ten lists featuring my go-to genres. And then I figured that would just get tiresome for you all to read, so change of plans!

Here is first of all my overall top 10 for 2014. It was incredibly hard to put together, as I read so many amazing books this year. Many more 4 and 5 stars than last year (in 2013, when 3-star-average books seemed to reign…). I can recommend all these books wholeheartedly!

Harry Potter China Mountain Zhang Daughter of Smoke & Bone The Bone Clocks Rebecca

Top Ten of Books Read In 2014

  1. Harry Potter(series) by J.K. Rowling
  2. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh
  3. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  4. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  6. Krabat by Otfried Preussler
  7. More Than This by Patrick Ness
  8. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
  9. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  10. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Krabat More Than This The Miseducation of Cameron Post Hogfather Revenge

And now, here are all my genre Top Tens for 2014 together.

Read More Read More

Top Ten Science Fiction of 2014

Top Ten Science Fiction of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday Ohhh it feels like it’s too early for 2014 top lists! But I think this week’s TTT is a good moment start 🙂 I will be posting a few top tens in my different go-to genres over the coming weeks. This week I’ll kick off with science fiction!

I actually read more science fiction this year than I expected! The Sci-fi & Fantasy MOOC I followed earlier this year helped, although I did not enjoy that many of the sci-fi classics we were told to read (and I had to skip two that I was looking forward to: Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother). It was difficult to create a top 3, especially, because the first three books on my list were equally amazing.

2014 Science Fiction

Top Ten Science Fiction I Read In 2014

  1. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh
  2. More Than This by Patrick Ness
  3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  4. Harmony by Project Itoh
  5. Fortunately, the Milk . . . by Neil Gaiman
  6. The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells
  7. Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  8. Lonely Hearts Killer by Tomoyuki Hoshino
  9. Adaptation by Malinda Lo
  10. The Aunt Paradox by Chris Dolley
MOOCs: Starting one on Sci-fi & Fantasy…

MOOCs: Starting one on Sci-fi & Fantasy…

Since I’ve graduated and started working full-time, I no longer have much of an opportunity to take university courses. So little time and so much to learn..! I have been looking at MOOCs as a fun way to deepen my knowledge on certain subjects in my own time. A MOOC – Massive Open Online Course – is an online course that is available to an unlimited number of participants, free of charge.

Over the past two years I have been wanting to start a MOOC a couple of times but every time other things got in the way. However, starting June 2nd I’ll finally be taking a MOOC, on sci-fi&fantasy: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. The reading list is quite interesting and will probably take most of my reading time the upcoming weeks/months (11 weeks in total):

  1. Grimm — Children’s and Household Tales
  2. Carroll — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  3. Stoker — Dracula
  4. Shelley — Frankenstein
  5. Hawthorne & Poe — Stories and Poems
  6. Wells — The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, “The Country of the Blind”, “The Star”
  7. Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland
  8. Bradbury — The Martian Chronicles
  9. LeGuin — The Left Hand of Darkness
  10. Doctorow — Little Brother

I also found some other MOOCs that enthusiastic readers might be interested in (and that I’m considering taking if my experience with my first MOOC is positive):

  1. Greek and Roman Mythology (starts June 8th)
  2. The Fiction of Relationship (starts September 1st)
  3. Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (starts September 6th)
  4. Comic Books and Graphic Novels (starts September 22nd)
  5. The Modern and the Postmodern (starts sometime in the future?)
  6. English Literature (various courses!)

Have you ever taken a MOOC and what was your experience?