The Comics and Cocktails book club I'm in read this for November. Imagine if Lewis and Clark's mission to explore the Louisiana Territory was really a cover to look for and wipe out monsters. This was a superbly done graphic novel.
Monday, November 30, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
A really interesting read that features a doctor who changed the face of plastic surgery in the 1800s, and helped introduce the use of ether in surgery. All in all, a good read, especially for a nonfiction book.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I need to begin this review with an apology to high school English teachers everywhere – especially the ones I had. I confess and apologize for having hated having to analyze all the symbolism, types and anti-types, foreshadowing and the like in what we read. I wondered, perhaps rightly, why an author couldn’t pen a good story to be just that. A good story.
So, to humor them, I would make up the most outlandish interpretations of symbolism in the books we were reading, only to have other students act like my ideas were interesting, brilliant, and likely meanings the author intended. I apologize.
Enter today’s book, “Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman. Perhaps Gaiman has just written a good story. Perhaps he inserted some symbolism and allegory into this book, a la C.S. Lewis or Tolkien. Either way, I keep seeing things in this book.
“Ocean at the End of the Lane” draws the reader in. It is a story about growing up and beginning to understand grownups. “Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. . . . Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
By the end, however, it becomes a story showing the colossal battle between good and evil, with a trio reminiscent of the Trinity.
The narrator is a 40-something man returning to his childhood home area for a funeral. Killing time between obligations, he ends up wandering to Sussex where he grew up.
Without conscious thought he finds himself at the dilapidated farm house pond (that Lettie, who we will meet later, calls an ocean) at the end of the lane near where his house once stood. He encounters an old woman who invites him in for a cup of tea. Unbidden, the memories begin to return.
The narrator’s family had a boarder, an opal miner, who committed suicide in the family car. This act was “lighting a fuse on a firework” that led to an opening for evil to come into their world.
After an encounter which was too bizarre to share with adults, our narrator found Lettie, an eleven year old girl who may have actually been thousands of years old; her mother, Ginnie Hempstock, and her grandmother, Old Mrs. Hempstock. Each Hempstock seems to be ageless and forever.
The evil that was unleashed into the world revealed itself in Ursula Monkton, a being from another reality who arrived to earth, leaving a wormhole inside the seven year old narrator so she could come and go between realities at will.
Ursula becomes the family’s babysitter and housekeeper, releasing darkness that is unfathomable, un-understandable, and downright terrifying to our narrator.
Lettie Hempstock however, in her magical and mystical way becomes his guardian and protector, occasionally relying on assistance from the older Hempstocks.
In the battle to remove the evil from the world, Lettie makes a supreme sacrifice to protect the narrator and is released into her “ocean” to return again at a time unknown to all.
Throughout the book, I saw pictures of sin, good and evil, pictures of the God-head, redemption and sacrifice. I saw pictures of the transfiguration and the Second Coming. The price Lettie paid to save the nameless boy invokes Biblical themes of sacrifice for salvation.
Gaiman writes a story a hard to summarize because there are so many layers and complexities to it. Not everyone will enjoy it, but I certainly enjoyed the audio version. Gaiman is a skilled narrator which unusual for authors reading their own works. JPL has the book in print and downloadable audio.
Read it, savor it, and look for meaning in this book. Or perhaps, it’s just a good story meant to be only that. A good story. You read it and decide.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
My daughter had told me that in the original book, Peter Pan killed Lost Boys and I had to read for myself. Definitely different from the Disney Peter Pan I grew up with. A very good read, though I did find Peter very irritating in his cockiness and selfishness.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Monday, November 2, 2015
I totally love these books and my husband does to. The last book left both of us mad and upset, but this one totally redeemed itself. This is one of the best zombie series I've ever read, not too bloody or graphic, and a real twist on the zombie genre.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
For children in grades 4 through 8
On the Oyster, an ancient and giant icebreaker ship, everyone belongs to one of three groups—there is Grease Alley for the engineers; Braid for the officers; and Dufftown for the cooks. There is little intermixing between the groups, except to trade goods and services and to make sure the ship is safe.
As an orphan whose parents were thrown overboard when she was a baby, twelve-year-old Petrel belongs to neither group. She spends most of her time hiding from bullies and trying to scavenge enough food to survive. To most of the ship’s inhabitants she is invisible, and to those who notice her, she is simply known as the Nothing Girl. Her only companions are two talking rats, Mister Smoke and Missus Slink.
The ship’s tribes occasionally fight, but they are united in keeping the ship moving along the same course it has been following for 300 years and in protecting it against the Anti-Machinists—a powerful group who believes anything mechanical is evil and should be destroyed. And while all the documentation of the ship’s original purpose has long since vanished, many of the Oyster’s residents believe a “sleeping captain” will return to lead once the reign of the Anti-Machinists ends.
One to avoid trouble and stay hidden, Petrel suddenly finds herself thrust into the limelight after her actions cause an unconscious boy to be rescued from an iceberg and brought aboard the ship. Untrusting and fearful of strangers, the ship’s crew have little patience for the mysterious boy who claims to know neither his name, nor how he came to be alone on the ice.
Fearful that they will soon return him to the ice, Petrel rescues the boy and hides him. Little does she know the boy has his own secret agenda and he may end up destroying her and all she holds dear.
Book one is a powerful start to Tanner’s latest trilogy. Petrel and the supporting cast are well drawn and readers are sure to be hooked from the beginning thanks to the author thoughtfully parceling out the clues. Placing the Icebreaker and her tenants in a world where the powerful subscribed to anti-technological way of thinking is an intriguing scenario and makes for a dramatic build up and a satisfying conclusion. Readers are sure to anticipate the next episode in this enthralling adventure series.