An Update on Books and Reading Goals

I just realized that we are halfway through 2022, so I thought this might be a good time to stop and look back at how the year has been going.

First – reading goals! I had set an unrealistic goal to read 89 books this year, when I normally struggle to get through 50 in that time frame. As of today, I have finished 23 books, which puts me at 23% of that original goal, but not far off the mark for reaching 50 this year.

Here is a graphic of what I’ve read so far in 2022:

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My plan to read one book from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series every month has gone astray, along with reading one Dune book every month. I have made it through half (3 of 6) of the Dune books by the original author, and only 3 of 14 of The Wheel of Time.

As always seems to happen, I have picked up books I didn’t originally have on my 2022 list, and then branched off into new series and authors. I think that for 2023 I will have to focus on finishing some series that I’ve started.

What am I reading now? Look – pretty covers! I am listening to the next book in The Witcher seriesThe Time of Contempt. On Kindle, I’m reading Lover Unbound, a book in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series which is sort of a guilty pleasure (sexy vampires, yeah), and In a Garden Burning Gold which I received courtesy of NetGalley for review.

After I finish those, next up are these options:

All of these are continuations in a series, except for The Water Dancer. I think I have a series problem!

Which should I read first? Let me know in the comments above. What other books and series have you read this year and enjoyed? Help me add to my ridiculous to-be-read list!

Find my book reviews here.

Book Review – Children of Dune

I’m slowly continuing my goal to read all six Dune books written by the original author, Frank Herbert. Children of Dune is the third in the series and takes up the story of Paul Atreides’ twin children. I had previously watched SyFy’s television miniseries based around this book, but didn’t remember most of that as I read the events in this book.

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Here is the blurb:

The Children of Dune are twin siblings Leto and Ghanima Atreides, whose father, the Emperor Paul Muad’Dib, disappeared in the desert wastelands of Arrakis nine years ago. Like their father, the twins possess supernormal abilities–making them valuable to their manipulative aunt Alia, who rules the Empire in the name of House Atreides.

Facing treason and rebellion on two fronts, Alia’s rule is not absolute. The displaced House Corrino is plotting to regain the throne while the fanatical Fremen are being provoked into open revolt by the enigmatic figure known only as The Preacher. Alia believes that by obtaining the secrets of the twins’ prophetic visions, she can maintain control over her dynasty.

But Leto and Ghanima have their own plans for their visions–and their destinies….


This book was… a lot. I did have some trouble getting through the middle, but in the end I did enjoy it. Leto and Ghanima each have their own stories, as well as Jessica, Duncan, Gurney, and Irulan. Minor spoilers below:

I feel like I only understood half of the philosophical aspects of this book and that I would need to re-read it again after finishing the series. Leto and Ghanima have a strange mysticism propelling their actions, and it was challenging to understand the depth of this while following the political intrigue of the story. I wanted more clarity about their visions and their internal struggles against Abomination. Another interesting facet was whether having foresight took away all the characters’ meaningful choices about their actions. Was their role in all of it predetermined by Paul’s earlier actions?

The Preacher is clearly Paul, but his character changed, and I wish I had seen more of that. I want to read about what he went through between walking into the desert at the end of Dune Messiah and the events of this book.

The ending of Children of Dune brings much of the story to a concrete ending. With three books to go, I’m not sure where Dune is going next. Book 4 is God Emperor of Dune!

Have you read Dune or the sequels? Please help me understand the metaphysical stuff. Let’s chat in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – Dune Messiah

While I have been a fan of Dune for decades, I have never delved beyond the first book or a few different movie and miniseries versions of the story. After seeing Denis Villeneuve’s recent cinematic masterpiece, I decided I needed to read the core six books of the series that were written by the original author. Dune Messiah is book #2 in the series.

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Here is the blurb:

Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known—and feared—as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the known universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremen, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne—and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty…

This was a hard book to read, but was at turns fascinating and confusing. Not much happens in terms of a plot, but the commentary on power, religion, and government that twisted itself together with Paul’s prescience and struggles with his predetermined fate made for a captivating read.

I did find that I had some prescience of my own when reading this. As events in the book unfolded, I half-remembered them from the SyFy Channel’s Children of Dune miniseries. Even so, Paul certainly foreshadows enough of the events that nothing was terribly shocking in this book. But it still kept me reading in a trippy series of visions of unavoidable tragedy.

This was a book that I couldn’t read when I was tired, but I’m ready to move on to the next volume after I finish something a little more straight-forward (The Dragon Reborn).

How much of Dune are you familiar with? Did you start with the books or one of the movies? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Movie Review – Jodorowsky’s Dune

Ooooh, look! I had a chance to see this film last fall. It’s finally out in limited release in New York and Los Angeles. So if you are a fan of Dune or the history of cinema, it may be of interest to you.

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
Director: Frank Pavich
Producers: Frank Pavich, Stephen Scarlata
Sony Pictures Classics

Most fans of science fiction are familiar with Frank Herbert’s Dune, in at least one of its forms. First serialized in Analog magazine from 1963 to 1965, the novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1966 and has garnered a reputation as one of the greatest sci-fi novels of all time. Several sequels in the Dune universe followed, both by Frank Herbert and his son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson.Jodorowsky Dune Poster

The original film adaptation by David Lynch was released in 1984, to mixed reviews. More recently, the Sci Fi Channel aired two miniseries encompassing both Dune and some of the sequel material. There are currently attempts to produce an updated cinematic feature under way.

What I was not aware of as a fan of Dune, was that in the mid-1970’s, Chilean-born director Alejandro Jodorowsky had attempted to create his own ambitious adaptation of the book. The project ultimately failed for financial reasons, but Frank Pavich’s documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune, follows the story behind the failed undertaking and the legacy that it left behind that arguably influenced later films such as Star Wars, Alien, and Bladerunner.

Jodorowsky spent his early years studying surrealism in France, and his films became known for their visual style and spiritual themes. He has compared his films to the psychedelic experience of using LSD.

Photo by David Cavallo, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Photo by David Cavallo, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

 

Pavich’s documentary is mainly a series of interviews with those who worked on the production of the picture, including Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, and H.R. Giger. At the heart of the film concept, the script and a book of complete storyboards provide a tantalizing glimpse of what could have been. Through the film, a few animations based on the storyboards help to share Jodorowsky’s vision.

Jodorowsky himself is the subject of many of the interviews, and was spirited in describing his work on Dune. His enthusiasm, even decades later, is remarkable, and at times, his fervent outbursts were tinged with madness:

“In that time, I say, if I need to cut my arms in order to make that picture, I will cut my arms. I was even ready to die doing that.” — Alejandro Jodorowsky

He relates several tales about how he recruited the talent for the music and cast, which would have included his own son, Brontis, David Carradine, Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, and Pink Floyd.

I was astounded by the spectacular artwork also displayed in the film, particularly the full color depiction of a starship blasted open by pirates. While Jodorowsky admits that he planned to take liberties with the source material, if his vision of Dune had been completed, it certainly would have been a spectacle unlike anything at that time.

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Sardaukar and Jean Moebius Giraud, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Sardaukar and Jean
Moebius Giraud, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

This documentary likely has little appeal to the average viewer, but for those who have a special interest in the history of science fiction film, or in the source material itself, it was an interesting movie. I was particularly intrigued by the project’s influence on later films, particularly the Alien franchise, in which a structure nearly identical to the Harkonnen palace concept art appears in Prometheus.

Jodorowsky’s Dune was an Official Selection at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and is now playing in New York – at the Film Forum & Lincoln Plaza Cinemas – and Los Angeles – at the Landmark.

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