So today I had promised to share some of the ‘unusual reads’ speaking from the perspective of my own tastes.
I’m not going by any order of personal preference but first up is….. Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa. It is a historical fiction that tells the story of one man’s rise from a low starting point to the position of Taiko which I would have translated to Imperial General (although I’m not Japanese but Chinese so I’m really using the Chinese concept as the base) which was officially only less prestigious than the position of Emperor as I understood it (but in reality exceeding the Emperor’s power at the particular era covered by the book). I’m not a real history person but I was familiar with the range of characters covered by this book before I even read it through a RPG strategy game that I played on PC. I’ve read from some online book reviews that some thinks that it’s a bit hard to read this book because it contains a lot of characters and it’s hard to distinguish between Japanese names where both surname and name are at least 8-9 characters in length. But for me, this wasn’t a problem and it appealed to me because it read like an epic and I’ve already said that I’m really into epic fantasy.
Next comes the Black Jewels series and associated books written by Anne Bishop. She writes dark fantasy which is usually a niche I don’t touch (like horror) not because I’m squirmy but it’s just not really my thing. However, what she had done with the Black Jewel was a certainly good read. It was a dark fantasy because it contained sexual abuse and animal abuse but they were operating within the overall plot of the story so I don’t really mind them much. I’ve read the first two novels of her Ephemera world as well but did not like it and after reading an excerpt from her Tir Alainn series (which was centred around the Fae) I was not really interested. Oh, and I would recommend Anne Bishop only to female readers because well, in the Black Jewels, there are scenes of sexual abuse that might be uncomfortable for male readers to read about so experience it at your own risk.
In similar veins, I’ve taken to reading Sarah Pinborough’s very short novellas that rework fairy tales and bring in a dark twist. Basically, they are dark fantasy with romantic erotica thrown in. I’m not particularly taken with the genre nor too fond of her actual writing but I guess I read them more out of commending her effort in re-working old stories and also just feeling in the mood for light reading. She had written three of them that are using the Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella as the main story (titled Beauty, Poison and Charm respectively and should be read in this order, all three are inter-related) but each of them also contains snippets from other children stories including Beauty and the Beast, Rumplestiltskin, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, the Frog Prince, Hansel & Gretel and some more that I probably did not recognise. Then again, these others were not used as-is but rather adapted to fit the author’s purposes.
I’m also a follower of the Thursday Next series by Jaspar Fforde, the only urban fantasy series that I read. It’s again on my light reading list, being full of humour and some sarcasm. I also think that there’s something in it for book lovers, especially for those who have read the classics. But yes, definitely something for the book lovers and I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t read it by revealing what it is.
That’s all for unusual reads. The next and final instalment of my reading taste will reveal the authors and series on my light reading list except for ones already covered previously.