This is typical Gaiman: disturbing and unsettling little scenes, interesting observations of human natures, everything floating in between waking andThis is typical Gaiman: disturbing and unsettling little scenes, interesting observations of human natures, everything floating in between waking and dreaming. My favorite are the longer tales, "The Truth Is A Cave in the Black Mountains," "The Sleeper and the Spindle," and "The Black Dog." The first two are folk/fairy tale reimagined, while the last one is an American Gods' short with Shadow's adventures continuing. Another small dosage to hold us over for the sequel to American Gods? Calendar of Tales with its many weird crowd sourced tales is also highly enjoyable. Oh, I can't wait to actually WATCH a special episode (of the 11th doctor and Amy Pond) made based on "Nothing O'Clock." ...more
This is what outstanding, distinguished, and thoroughly enjoyable children’s books should be! And of course, I had the additional pleasure of listeninThis is what outstanding, distinguished, and thoroughly enjoyable children’s books should be! And of course, I had the additional pleasure of listening to Appelt’s narrative voice brought to live by Lyle Lovett: folky, hilarious, tender, with just the right amount of controlled drama. This environmental tall tale set in the swamp land, featuring anthropomorphized critters, caricatured villains, down home, real but also realer than life characters, and mythical beings is perfect for a family and classroom read aloud! One of my favorite 2013 books for sure!...more
I truly enjoyed Stroud’s narrative tone, characters and world building in this first volume of a new fantasy/horror series. In Lucy we find a fresh, sI truly enjoyed Stroud’s narrative tone, characters and world building in this first volume of a new fantasy/horror series. In Lucy we find a fresh, sharp-minded, slightly paranoid and self-doubting, but in the end completely lovable main character/narrator. Lockwood and George are also interesting and multi-faceted characters who maintain the flavorful exchanges between these young people. The premise also provides a new world for the author and the readers to venture into and explore — The Problem, consisting of ghosts, hauntings, and the solutions of using special child agents trained to deal with them, with all the life-threatening dangers that could befall anyone at any moment. I'm in awe of Stroud's talent.
So why didn’t I absolutely love the book? Probably because I figured too many things out too early so the wait for the reveal seemed a bit long and drawn out? Or perhaps there were just a few repetitive descriptions/scenarios too many? (How many times do the readers need to be told how the first hints of haunting feel or look like?) Do I still want to see what unfolds in book 2? Yes. If the Bartimaeus trilogy is any indicator, the sequels will give us more layers and nuanced interactions. The story will only evolves into something grander and hopefully the ending will be as satisfying — and perhaps unexpected, too?...more
I was pleased that Holly Black decided to maintain the mystery and the suspense over the paranormal scenario of the story all the way to the very veryI was pleased that Holly Black decided to maintain the mystery and the suspense over the paranormal scenario of the story all the way to the very very end. To me, that’s the best part of the whole book. Some other aspects, however, did not speak to me that much. I was told the three main characters’ personalities, a bit of their back stories, and about the fact that they had been best friends with such amazing bonds as telling those fantastical stories…. but, as a reader, I never quite “felt” any of these facts. Partly because on their “quest,” most I saw was their bickering and distrust of each other.
For example, when Zach worried about the two girls’ talking about him behind his back, his thoughts are whether they talked about he smelled bad or that he’s stupid. I would hope, that after being close friends with each other for years, there might have been some darker, deeper secrets or concerns that made Zach squirm.
There are also just so many details that do not advance the plot or our understanding of the characters. A list of 27 flavors of donuts that do not carry overt or hidden meanings baffled me.
I was also puzzled by each character’s ability to succinctly explain why have been acting in such a way toward their friends, sounding like what a therapist might present, after listening to 12/13 year olds relating the events and their feelings. Alice revealed that the reason why she couldn’t believe in Eleanor’s ghost was that “There can’t be a ghost, a real ghost. Because if there is, then some random dead girl wants to haunt Poppy, but my own dead parents can’t be bothered to come back and haunt me.” And Poppy’s confession, “I thought that we could do this thing, and when it was over we’d have something that no one else had — an experience that would keep us together.” Even Zach’s father confessed, “But I’ve been thinking that protecting somebody by hurting them before someone else gets the chance isn’t the kind of protecting that anyone wants.”
Don’t get me wrong — I believe in the validity of all of these statements and those are at the heart of this story — that we act certain ways because there are some additional, underlying emotional reasons which are seldom on the surface for others to interpret quickly or easily. I just have a bit of trouble with how all of these ideas are delivered as “statements” by these characters. I wish that readers had chances to perhaps sort some of these out by ourselves. For example, perhaps in one of the shouting matches, Alice could have said something like, “There are NO GHOSTS! If there are, WHY WOULDN’T MY PARENTS TALK O ME???!!!” (haha.. much exaggerated)
I also was not creeped out enough by the book — and I wish I had been — the cover gave me so much hope!...more
This is typical Gaiman: the nightmarish landscapes and events are always presented with a reassuring glow of beauty that makes the scene and the storyThis is typical Gaiman: the nightmarish landscapes and events are always presented with a reassuring glow of beauty that makes the scene and the story much less horrifying. Rather, it becomes purely entertaining. A bit of chill here and there and things mostly work out — except that there is always that trademark tinge of melancholy – like a lonely tinkling of a music box that plays a haunting and unfamiliar tune, slowly coming to a pause. The book reads like an expanded short story and I think it probably would have benefited from being a short story, rather than a novel (which even though meets the “novel” length requirement, reads more or less like a novella, with such a local setting and a tight plot time frame.)
Did I enjoy it? Definitely. Did it sweep me off of my feet? Not like some of his other work did in the past. However, since Gaiman proclaimed that this is as close to an “actual account” of his childhood as he could manage, the readers do get a glimpse of this creative writer’s mental landscape and the psyches that bring us illuminating stories.
I got a bit curious about the definition of novels, novella, etc. by length, and found this list on the Nebula award:
Short Story: less than 7,500 words; Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words; Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words Novel: 40,000 words or more. At the author’s request, a novella-length work published individually, rather than as a part of a collection, anthology, or other collective work, shall appear in the novel category. Source: http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/neb...
On the same site, I also found an article about the definition of “a word”:
“So, years ago, publishers set up a standard definition: a word is six characters (including spaces).” — more detailed explanation and rationale for this can be found here:
This is a short stories collection from 1998. As I love Fragile Things and especially love how Gaiman reads his own tales — he is quite a voice actor,This is a short stories collection from 1998. As I love Fragile Things and especially love how Gaiman reads his own tales — he is quite a voice actor, changing his tones, inflections, accents — all dexterously and effortlessly and all quite fitting the characters, the advantage of having the author (who is a good storyteller) reading the stories.
I did not love all the tales — not even most of them. Of the 31 tales and verses, I think I only really enjoyed about a dozen or so. Something felt lacking — quite a few seem to be character sketches or exercises in painting imageries and building atmosphere, for something bigger and more complete — but not deep or polished themselves. I often enjoy Gaiman’s somewhat dark or even brutal (and honest, perhaps?) depictions of sexual acts in his writing for adults. But, I found myself slightly appalled by certain gratuitous passages, shaking my head, gently whispering in my mind, “Neil, you did not have to resort to this — the story itself is strong and intriguing enough…” – but, of course, many of these stories were meant to be slightly pornographic (light erotica) — I just didn’t quite prepare myself for so many of them being this way. Now I’ve listened to it once, I’ll be able to go back and pick out the tales that I want to listen to over and over again (like quite a few of those in Fragile Things) and also figure out why some of the stories did not work for me the first time. (They might grow on me upon repeat listening.)...more
I am not an aficionado of zombie stories. Yes, I’ve had a few books and movies under my belt: thoroughly enjoyed World War Z and Zombieland. But I amI am not an aficionado of zombie stories. Yes, I’ve had a few books and movies under my belt: thoroughly enjoyed World War Z and Zombieland. But I am in no urgent need for yellow pus, green liquidy drippings, splattered red blood, or all sorts of creatively severed body parts — any time, anywhere. I did greatly appreciate the first book in Higson’s zombie series, The Enemy. And finally got around to read the second installment, a prequel, a “history,” of The Enemy.
I cannot be more pleased by The Dead. There is everything I love: exploration of loyalty, what makes someone a leader or a follower, what gives people courage, survival strategies — all told in a highly realized, logically plausible setting and string of events. Tension and surprises keep the reader incredibly involved and the passages describing the mind deterioration of some characters are simply brilliant.
In a few weeks, I know I’ll be ready for book 3 - The Fear. ...more
The story has quite a bit of potential - it could have been really creepy, or really moving, but it turned out to be a mild horror with a not-so-hiddeThe story has quite a bit of potential - it could have been really creepy, or really moving, but it turned out to be a mild horror with a not-so-hidden agenda of appreciating and being oneself. ...more
The first installment in the long series focuses mostly on the relationships of the living with the backdrop of extreme hardship of the zombie plague.The first installment in the long series focuses mostly on the relationships of the living with the backdrop of extreme hardship of the zombie plague. I imagine that that will be the flavor for the rest of the series. The author does a great job capturing the characters' traits and presenting the interplays between characters with conflicting interests. The tension is high, the dialog realistic, and the artwork is well executed. Now I have to read the rest of the series!...more
It's really quite an oddly enjoyable weird tale. Some of the images can be disturbing, but effectively and purposefully so. I think plenty of young reIt's really quite an oddly enjoyable weird tale. Some of the images can be disturbing, but effectively and purposefully so. I think plenty of young readers will find this a very interesting read. ...more
Not for the faint of heart or queasy of tummy. There are laugh-out-loud scenes and almost-puke-my-guts-out scenes. Definitely cannot read this and havNot for the faint of heart or queasy of tummy. There are laugh-out-loud scenes and almost-puke-my-guts-out scenes. Definitely cannot read this and have a meal at the same time! It's quite an intense tale and truly original! Vols. 2 and 3 are on my desk.... looking appetizing... haha. ...more
I really really enjoyed the journey into and out of the dark dark woods that is this book by a new comer of the Children's books scene. To be honest,I really really enjoyed the journey into and out of the dark dark woods that is this book by a new comer of the Children's books scene. To be honest, because I love and respect traditional fairy tales (mostly Grimms, Jacobs, with some Norse, Arabian Nights, and Russian tales thrown in) to such a degree, I get very suspicious and highly critical when it comes to authors playing with and retelling these tales.
I especially resent the ones that make light of these grim and dark and powerful tales and turn them into cutesy products.
That is not the case with Gidwitz's offering. It is slated to be published in November and I simply can't wait to report on it! The frame story, using Hansel and Greta, substituting them as protagonists in several Grimms fairy tales, works brilliantly. As the story progresses, the resemblance to the original versions of the tales is reduced: they are more and more fractured and eventually, you are offered a few original short tales by the current author -- but the Faerie, unsettling, and dark tone of the fairy tales tradition remains. As the story follows less and less the constrain of the original tales, the readers who know these tales sense the strength of the two children, rebelling against a cage that tries to tie them down.
For readers who are not familiar with the original tales, they can still vividly experience the growth, physically, emotionally, and worldly of these two characters.
This is not a simple construct, stringing a bunch of fairy tales together, but a successful novel that has a lot to offer to its young readers.
I can't wait to share the tales -- the new and the old -- with my students in the fall!...more