The #WritersRead theme for May was a book on writing. I decided against reading a craft book as I thought it might distract me from the more important task of drafting The City Without End. The theme for June was a graphic novel. I always read plenty of those, so for this update, I’m going to feature Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1: Imperial Machine.
I adore Star Wars comics. I find them much more compelling than the movies, probably because each series tends to focus on a single character or a small group. The humor that I loved from the original three movies is nearly always present, though sometimes dry and subtle–especially in the case of Darth Vader. He can be a funny guy. No, really!
Imperial Machine starts right at the beginning. Vader has just become Vader and Darth Sidious has sent him on a mission to get his legendary red lightsaber. There were twists and turns enough to keep me guessing, even though I might have been the only one. See, the thing is, I’ve always felt a kernel of good continued to exist inside Vader’s mostly machine body. That he hasn’t forgotten *everything.* So when I read these comics, I’m always looking for the glint, for the tiny bit of Anakin Skywalker from before he, well, lost his way. I think the writers (in this instance, Charles Soule, look for it too because every now and then a question will pop up and you really do have to wonder how Vader will answer it.
Not going to say more, just going to recommend this series, and the one that follows it subtitled Vader. If you’re a fan, it’s great stuff, even when Triple Zero (Dr. Aphra’s murderous friend) is stealing the show.
Other Notable Reads for May and June
The Last Policeman by Ben Winters is wonderfully absurd. Basically, the asteroid 2011GV1 is on a collision course with Earth and people are literally taking their own lives into their hands. Or with their hands. Among the plethora of suicides, however, one stands out. Newly promoted detective, Hank Palace, thinks it’s a murder. But with the end of the world rapidly approaching, no one cares.
Hank chases down the leads, anyway, prodding lackadaisical colleagues into action while shrugging aside the indifference of those who simply disappear of the job, leaving the last vestiges of humanity to fend for themselves. What he uncovers isn’t quite what he expected.
I kinda loved this book. Actually, there’s no kinda about it. I read compulsively and look forward to continuing the series (there are three books), not so much with the hope that Hank will somehow survive the apocalypse, but because his steadfast ordinariness and goodness were just so refreshing.
Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake is an undisputed classic. I remember loving the movie years and years ago, so when the audiobook popped up as an Audible Daily Deal, I snapped it up. I then found myself taking extended walks and inventing other tasks in order to keep listening. The story was even better than I remembered and I wished it would go on forever.
Eagerly, I rented the movie and… ended up horribly disappointed. Surely there was another version that I remembered so well? Many of the scenes enthralled me, but others that I loved so much from the book were either cut or combined. I felt not enough had been shown of the friendship between Dances with Wolves and Wind in his Hair. Either way, the book is amazing. If you haven’t read it, give it a go.
I’d had Dear Edward on hold at the library for so long, that when it finally showed up on my tablet, I couldn’t remember what it was about. This happens often enough that I actually look forward to these books–the ones I don’t remember. They’re surprises from the beyond and sometimes turn out to be just what I needed to read right then.
Dear Edward is… extraordinary. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Rather than say it turned up just when I needed to read it, I’m going to say it’s the sort of book everyone should read. Because while the subject matter may be difficult to approach–Edward is the only survivor of a plane crash that claimed over two hundred passengers, including his family–it’s handed with beautiful sensitivity. The book made me chuckle and it made me sob, and it’s one I’ll remember forever.
Speaking of extraordinary, next on the list is Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. Um, wow. So, I’ve long been fascinated by Genghis Khan and often find myself picking up books detailing his life. This slim volume is the mother lode.
There’s a lot of information to absorb here, but the afterwords and extras help organize it all. Basically, put the words ‘more than’ or ‘better than’ in front of every achievement of Genghis and Kublai, write anything after it, and then repeat that sentence about 600 times and you’ll have a starter list of what these men did. They didn’t just great an empire, they changed the world. Built the foundations of a lot of what we take for granted. It’s all fascinating stuff. Eye-opening. I wish books like this had been available and taught while I’d been in school
We all know I could talk about books forever, but seeing as this post is wrapping up two months of reading, I’ll limit myself to one sentence for the next four books.
Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver: Another ‘where did this come from’ book that captivated me from beginning to end. I’ll definitely be looking for more Deaver.
The Ladies of Mandrigyn by Barbara Hambly: I’ve long wanted to read Hambly, and this was a fantastic book to start with. Solid swords and sorcery with engaging characters.
Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert: Be still my gamer heart! My favourite new book from Albert since Status Update.
A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin: Holy debut, Batman. I’m done. Take away my pen. Seriously good and disturbing all at once.