“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow, 2013)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
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In the first novel from bestseller Neil Gaiman since 2005’s Anansi Boys, he creates a magic tale that straddles between a short story and novella that feels like a wonderful fairytale, possessing the magic and feel of The Graveyard Book with the wonder and beauty of Stardust. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is for adults what The Graveyard Book was for kids and teens; though both can be read and enjoyed by anyone ages 5 to 95. Gaiman wrote this as a gift and semi-biographical explanation to his wife; if this is your first Neil Gaiman book, it’s a great place to start.

The story centers around a seven year-old boy who is an unusual and eccentric and misunderstood by his parents, especially his father, but discovers down the road some neighbors – a girl, her mother and grandmother – who aren’t the sweet ladies they appear, but part of something immortal that has been around for a very long time. Soon he is whisked away on an unforgettable journey to take care of a little problem and ends up bringing something alien back into this world, and then everything starts to go wrong.

The story is sweet and small, but also large and complex; it feels too short to be told fully, but by the end the reader is left feeling satisfied and complete. It is classic Gaiman, mixing his unique blend of fairytale and mythology with real emotions and life choices that stick with the reader long after they have finished the book. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an innocent-looking little story that soon sucks you in and shows its claws as well as its soft, warm spots; leaving you left full of thought and wonder.

Originally written on July 30, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

American Gods  Graveyard Book  Stardust

Halloween Recommended Reads

We’re coming up on Halloween once again when everything goes spooky and dark, and we like to get scared by things.. Well, here’s a Halloween story I wrote and a list of recommended reads for kids and adults of books that will really give you some shivers . . .

Click on the image below to read the free Halloween Story

A Halloween Story

 

And now some recommended Halloween reads to chill your bones and make your blood freeze . . .

FOR KIDS (OR ADULTS) –

Among the Ghosts Coraline The Graveyard Book

Halloween Tree Rot and Ruin

FOR ADULTS –

Neverland I am Not a Serial Killer Feed Horns
Death Troopers
The Strain The Terror The Living Dead
Living Dead 2
World War Z Full Dark No Stars Handling the Undead
Illustrated Man Handling the Undead Handling the Undead Handling the Undead

BookBanter Boon #11: “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman 10th Anniversary Author’s Preferred Edition SIGNED Giveaway!

American Gods SIGNED Edition

American Gods

BookBanter Boon #11 is another special one (but then aren’t they all, since there’s a free book in it for one lucky person!).  This one is for a hardcover finished copy of the new “author’s preferred edition” from Neil Gaiman of American Gods, and it just so happens to be autographed by the great author himself too.  Not too, shabby.  And since it’s so special, I’ll be running this giveaway through the whole month of August.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. Anyone in the US can enter.
  2. To enter simply leave a comment on this post.  The question for you for this BookBanter Boon is what’s the first thing of Neil Gaiman’s that you read, and how did you find out about it?
  3. Entries will be accepted from August 3rd until August 31st, 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time .
  4. The winner will be randomly chosen, contacted, and announced on this post on September 1st.

Be sure to either subscribe to the BookBanter Blog, or like the BookBanter Page on Facebook (or both) to get all the updates on BookBanter.

If you have any questions, please email me at alex@bookbanter.net.

And finally, here’s proof this autographed copy:

signed

06/29 On the Bookshelf . . . “7th Sigma” & “American Gods: Author’s Preferred Edition”

    7th Sigma    American Gods

A captivating cover and I’m just a sucker for anything cool sounding to do with time travel.  So looking forward to this from Steven Gould.

Also received a review copy of the new tenth anniversary edition of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, referred to as the “author’s preferred text.”  It was ten years ago that I first discovered Neil Gaiman with this book, and I still have that first edition, and published my review in February 2002.  And then when I opened the book, discovered this thrilling surprise . . .

Neil Gaiman 1

Neil Gaiman 2

“Coraline” by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Dave McKean (HarperCollins, 2002)

Coraline
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Even though rising-to-fame author Neil Gaiman won the American Library Association’s Alex Award as one of 2000’s top ten adult novels for young adults for the novel Stardust, it has still been a while since Gaiman addressed the young adult’s literature corner, still riding on the success of his recent tome, American Gods.  But it is clear with Coraline that Gaiman can still chill your bones whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Coraline is the main character in the wonderful but scary novel about her life with her strange family in her strange apartment with some very strange neighbors.  You see, there is a door in this apartment which leads to the apartment next door, but it is locked and blocked off by a brick wall.  One day Coraline decides to take a look at what’s on the other side of that door and finds the wall gone, with an open space in its place.  Moving inside she finds a mirror image of the apartment she lives, as well as her parents there, only they are not her real parents.

Upon returning to her own apartment, she finds that her parents have gone missing, and she ventures back into the other apartment knowing that her fake parents have kidnapped her real parents, and it is up to her to save them.  She also finds a couple of friends in the other apartment who have been in this crazy world for a very long time.  In this world her fake mother is in control, ad she’s quite evil.  It is up to Coraline to stop her fake mother somehow, rescue her real parents, as well as her new friends.

In this wonderful novel that is part horror, part mystery, part thriller, and mostly a great kid’s story, the creator of the Sandman series brings us into some of the darkest dreams that children can have, and it is up to Gaiman to leads us through the right door.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally published on December 9th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow, 2001)

Gaiman’s American Gods

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From upcoming English author of Neverwhere and the successful Sandman comic book series, comes Neil Gaiman’s first great epic, American Gods.  In the metaphysical vein, Gaiman has created a world to rival those of Clive Barker’s, presenting new insight into n otherwise ignored genre.

Our main character is a man recently freed from prison, known as Shadow.  He is now heading for what he thinks will be a return to his former, happy life with a beautiful wife and his old job already lined up.  What he does not know is that his wife is dead, killed in a car accident while “administering: some pleasure to his best friend, the very man who gave him his job back.

Shadow is going to meet some very strange characters that go by some most unusual names: Mr. Wednesday, Mr. Nancy, Easter, Ibis, Jaquel, and Czernobog.  What he does not know is that he is very special, not just to these bizarre characters, but to the fate of two great armies – one as old as time itself, the other as new as the Internet – who will war against each other to decide who will have the right to govern the country as gods.

American Gods is a compelling, driving novel that enraptures the reader.  And while Shadow’s full potential and significance is never truly understood, as well as Gaiman’s obsessive use of dreams to explain crucial details, the novel on the whole is an enthralling read for any who profess to enjoy a kaleidoscope of horror/fantasy/metaphysics/sci-fi.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally published on February 18th 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions” by Neil Gaiman (Harper Perennial, 2001)

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While few of you may be familiar with English author Neil Gaiman, he is a writer for any of those who enjoy reading horror in the vein of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King.  And what better way to experience and enjoy a new author than with a short story collection, giving a broad spectrum of Gaiman’s abilities.

Smoke and Mirrors does not have any running, horrific theme, or any specific aim; it is not horror or fantasy, science fiction or an erotic collection  . . . and then again it is all these and more.  The initial story, “Chivalry,” is about a lost knight – Galahad – who has been sent to find the Holy Grail; the problem is that a little old lady has recently bought it at a charity store and will not relinquish it that easy.  Written in poetic form, “Bay Wolf” presents a retelling of the epic of Beowulf through the framework of a Baywatch episode.

“We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” reveals the existence of a specific company that will kill people for a price; but when you request large numbers to be killed, the price drops; when you request the death of everyone on the planet, it’s free!  “Babycakes” is an obscene, perverted poem about a race that no longer has any animals to consume and use, so they turn to babies, who are similar intelligence.  “Some of them we ate.  Baby flesh is tender and succulent.  We flayed their skin and decorated ourselves in it.  Baby leather is soft and comfortable.”

While Gaiman does not possess much of a sophisticated literary skill – at least in this collection – he nevertheless is an author to read for the interesting and amazing stories he concocts.  This would be a welcome Christmas as present to anyone looking to try out a new author.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally published on December 3rd 2001.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Blueberry Girl” by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess (Harpercollins, 2009)

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Writer Neil Gaiman and illustrator Charles Vess have collaborated on some incredible works in the past with Sandman and Stardust.  In Blueberry Girl, the story began as a beautiful and positive wish for a friend of Gaiman’s, a mother to be.  Now with the carefully chosen words of Gaiman, and the lush, fresh, and moving art and color of Charles Vess, everyone can enjoy this tale.

It is the story of a young girl, a baby at first, who must grow to adulthood and is wished on every step of the way to be treated well, to experience life to its fullest, to follow her dreams, to have good times and bad, highs and lows.  There is some classic Gaiman mythology with the opening page: “Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind, this is a prayer for a blueberry girl,” a clear reference to the fates; there’s even a quaint fairytale reference: “Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen.”

Blueberry Girl is a book to be cherished and kept for generations, passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter.  It is a story to inspire the best in a young girl and give parents the utmost hope and respect for her.  It is a fable that will only get better each time you read it or tell it to a young one.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on April 16th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman and Michael McKean (Harpercollins, 2008)

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It seems inevitable in some ways that Neil Gaiman would one day write a book about a graveyard; and furthermore would make it a children’s book; and even furthermore write a wonderful tale about growing up, learning from your mistakes, and appreciating life to it’s fullest.  Welcome to The Graveyard Book.

Nobody Owens is doomed to begin with.  After his family is tragically killed by a determined and terrifying murderer who is now after him to finish the job, Bod finds himself in a graveyard adopted by some very strange ghosts and a father figure, Silas, who is neither dead nor alive, but somewhere in between.  His growing up and education is not one filled with arithmetic and grammar, but abilities of the dead like Fading and Dreamwalking.

It is no surprise that the book Gaiman was destined to write – and has spent many years working on and putting the pieces slowly together – features some of the strongest characters he has ever written.  First off there is Bod Owens, a wonderful young boy you can’t help falling in love with as you grow up with him and experience his many adventures.  Silas, the strong, paternal caretaker who is shrouded in mystery as to his origins and what it means being one of the “Honor Guard.”  Miss Lupescu, an Eastern European lady who looks after Bod for a summer, teaching him, and forcing him to eat her unusual foods.  It is a relationship that begins with hate, but ends in love and respect.  Liza Hempstock, a witch buried in potter’s field, shunned by most in the graveyard, but becoming an unusual acquaintance for Bod.  Scarlett, a living girl who considers Bod an imaginary friend at first, and then something more later.  There is even an appearance from the Lady on the Grey for the Danse Macabre.

At the end of The Graveyard Book, the reader is moved to sadness, as all things must come to end.  Gaiman has said that many readers told him they cried at the end, which is no surprise when we feel a little part of Bod in all of us.  It is the innocent, adventurous spirit within that hearkens back to stories like Peter Pan and The  Jungle Book, which Gaiman references in his acknowledgments.  The Graveyard Book doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper, but with a moving expression of hope: “But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his heart and his eyes wide open.”

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on November 9th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Dangerous Alphabet” by Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly (Harpercollins, 2008)

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A is for the author and artist of this book, Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly. B is for the beautiful artwork on the pages that make you smile.  C is for the creative design of The Dangerous Alphabet, which is impressive and astonishing.  D is for the descriptive writing of Neil Gaiman, which keeps you turning every page.  E is for the exiting story about the two children and their gazelle.  F is for the funny things that happen in this book that make you laugh.  G is for Gris Grimly who has done artwork for thirteen books, including this one.  H is for the happy ending that almost wasn’t.  I is for the impressive ways the children keep getting away.  J is for the jumping cute gazelle who also gets away.  K is for the kiss that’s in the middle of this book.  L is for the big letters on each page that Gaiman uses to tell the story.  M is for the monsters, the scary monsters that are everywhere in The Dangerous AlphabetN is for the narrow escapes, as the children slip through the monsters’ fingers.  O is for ordinary, which this story is not by any means.  P is for the pretty gazelle again, because she’s so cute.  Q is for the quandary that the children find themselves in in this story.  R is for racing, as the children race across the pages, from beginning to end.  S is for the silly but fun way this story and review are told.  T is for the terrible things that the monsters do and almost do.  U is for the unbelievable way the children must go to make it to the end.  V is for the vim of the characters in this book; they are defiant and unstoppable.  W is for wary, which you must be when reading The Dangerous AlphabetX marks the spot near the end.  Y is for your yell of joy when the children and the gazelle get away.  Z is for the ZZZs everyone needs after this great adventure is finally over.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on May 28th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.