I had the pleasure of seeing Neil Gaiman and his lovely wife Amanda Palmer at a book reading for the release of this book. Mr. Gaiman read from the bo...moreI had the pleasure of seeing Neil Gaiman and his lovely wife Amanda Palmer at a book reading for the release of this book. Mr. Gaiman read from the book, in his soft lightly accented voice, and that is the voice I heard as I read the book myself. Perhaps that influenced the way I feel about this book, because I loved this fairy tale for grown-ups, although I think children would enjoy it too.
The book is rather short, fewer than 200 pages but it tells the fantastical story of a middle-aged man returned to his childhood home for a funeral. When he goes driving around the area he finds himself drawn back to an old house on the edge of a pond; a pond that was an ocean when he was seven and had an amazing adventure with eleven-year-old (for a very long time) Lettie Hempstock.
I found this to be an enchanting fairy tale full of evil and good. Gaiman is so adept at depicting all the joy, sadness, magic and confusion of childhood. At its heart it is a story of friendship and the true meaning of sacrifice. It’s a book that is magical and yet very creepy, especially in the depiction of the evil Urusla, someone who could haunt a child’s dreams forever. The ending was bittersweet yet somehow perfect. It is a book that made me think for days after, and for me that is the sign of a great book. (less)
I was not a huge fan of Twilight, I really disliked the concept and I thought the writing was terrible. Shiver makes Twilight seem like Shakespeare.
T...moreI was not a huge fan of Twilight, I really disliked the concept and I thought the writing was terrible. Shiver makes Twilight seem like Shakespeare.
The idea here is almost identical to Twilight; pretty girl becomes infatuated with a young man who happens to be a werewolf. She has loved him when he was a wolf, not knowing he was also a young man. He is equally obsessed with her. Her parents are oblivious to anything their daughter does, to the extent that she actually lives with said “wereboy” in her bedroom – for weeks. When she does tell them about Sam he inexplicably lives with the family. It goes downhill from there as far as storyline.
The writing was just over the top, with our young man writing really bad song lyrics in his head. At one point he describes himself as a leaking womb and I was dumbfounded by that metaphor. Overly descriptive writing that was often laughable. Characters that had great potential to bring some tension to the storyline are disposed of or never heard from again. And like the gorgeous Edward of the aforementioned Twilight we have constant commentary and descriptions of Sam’s yellow eyes.
Of course the biggest plot hole, which at first seemed clever, was the fact that when the weather turned cold is when our shape shifters turned into wolves. Once the weather turns warmer they shift back into humans, and are only able remember vague parts of their lives as wolves; except for Sam who remembers Grace, mostly by her scent. The big question is, why live in Minnesota? I was thinking this as I was reading by the pool in Florida where it is never really cold! When you turn into a human – move, to any southern state or Hawaii maybe. Don’t stay in Minnesota dreading the return of winter. It was just too hard to get over that gaping hole in logic.
So read this if you want a fairly boring story about teenage love and angst. Better yet – dare I say it? - Read Twilight. (less)
What can one add to all the accolades this book has been getting? To say that Le Cirque des Reves, The Circus of Dreams was magical would be an unders...moreWhat can one add to all the accolades this book has been getting? To say that Le Cirque des Reves, The Circus of Dreams was magical would be an understatement. It is a fantastical creation from the opening lines to the very last word. What I loved most about this book was overwhelming admiration for this author’s Talent in creating a world that doesn’t exist but one I completely believed in. I want to go to this circus, to see the various tents. I want to walk in the Ice Garden, to walk in the hall with the snow, see The Wishing Tree, walk among the clouds and be there for the bonfire. I was so immersed in this world I didn’t want the book to end.
The narrative of the book takes a little getting used to, it is split in two parts; Marco and Celia’s story and that of the various characters of the circus; the second story is of Bailey, a young boy who falls in love with the circus. This narrative begins at a later point in time until eventually the two storylines merge. It takes patience to get to the point when all the threads of the story finally begin to come together.
My only quibble would be the lack of character development, there was so much more I wanted to know about a number of the people of the circus. It seemed at times their descriptions or purpose was rather vague and not well defined. But that is really a minor complaint.
I listened to the audio version of the book, narrated by the brilliant Jim Dale who breathes life into every book he ‘performs’. Fantasy is not one of my favorite genres but for me this book defines fantastical. Without a doubt one of my favorite reads this year. (less)
I am a fan of YA fantasy books, so I was really looking forward to this book; while it started out really well with an action packed start… and then i...moreI am a fan of YA fantasy books, so I was really looking forward to this book; while it started out really well with an action packed start… and then it started to fizzle. I enjoyed the character of Jacob, he was likeable and funny. A really interesting storyline is opened up, but it meanders all over the place until it trickles down to a non-ending; this is obviously the start of a series but everything was left completely up in the air and that was very disappointing.
It’s hard to summarize the plot; it is a time travel story revolving around a home for children with rather unusual talents. Jacob’s grandfather once lived there and after he dies in a terrible accident Jacob wants to go to the school to understand more about his grandfather and his death.
Characterizations were pretty thin throughout the book. Jacob and his friend Emma are pretty well defined, the rest of the ‘peculiar’ children were just one dimensional, defined by their special gifts. The character of Jacob’s dad was laughable and the time travel aspect of the story was virtually unfathomable.
The most interesting aspect of the book was the inclusion of the photos that seem to have inspired the story; according to the notes at the end they are all actual photos – but they do appear to have been manipulated in some way; half way through the book the inclusion of the photos starting feeling like a gimmick.
So a unique and interesting concept that falters in the middle and then builds up to a “What the heck?” ending. (less)
Harry Potter is finally back, in this the sixth book in the series, and it was well worth the long wait.
Lord Voldemort is alive, and the wizard commun...moreHarry Potter is finally back, in this the sixth book in the series, and it was well worth the long wait.
Lord Voldemort is alive, and the wizard community has to learn to deal with it, including joining forces with some Muggle agencies. Harry, Ron and Hermione have returned to a heavily guarded and magically protected Hogwarts, preparing to enter their next to last year as Wizards in training. There is once again a new teacher of Defense against the Dark Arts, one you wouldn’t expect. Harry is feeling the pangs of unrequited love, and Ron and Hermoine are also experiencing some flirtations of their own.
Much has been made of the death of one of the characters in the book. You undoubtedly will be saddened by this turn of events and will likely cry; although I don’t think all is exactly as it appears. (less)