The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman | Book Review

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman follows an unnamed narrator as he recalls strange/terrifying events from his childhood involving a young girl named Lettie Hempstock and her family.

Gaiman’s book is definitely different. It’s one of those books where things just kind of happen. The fantastical elements all come with little explanation. However, the book hints at some lore behind what’s going on (but there’s never really any detailed explanation, everything is vague. It is a short book after all).

I don’t think this is a problem for the novel since it ends up working. The story is still very captivating with all its strangeness. I thought the dynamic between the narrator and Lettie was very well done.

There’s a villain named Ursula Monkton that has some prominence in the story but she isn’t the only obstacle the narrator face. I thought she had the potential to be a great villain but the book doesn’t really do much with her by the end. So, that’s a slight flaw but I will say other elements make up for it. I thought the imagery was good, for example.

I can’t say this book is for everyone. Like I said, things just kind of happen. There’s many references to other worlds, creatures, etc. but nothing that goes into detail. I found that a bit frustrating but I think the book was meant to have a fairy tale type feel.

Even though I thought Gaiman’s book was a nice little read…it still feels like there’s something missing by the end. Almost like it doesn’t reach its full potential. That’s why I can’t see myself putting it on a favorite list or anything. Still, it’s a nice read. 3.5/5

 

 

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Top 5 Favorite Books of 2016

I read quite a few great books this year. I decided to make a list of five instead of ten this time but it was a challenge to narrow them down. These are the books I felt stood out to me the most. In no particular order!

Flora and Ulysses  by Kate DiCamillo
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This is what a great children’s book should be like. I can’t praise it enough. It has a fun and silly premise but still carries a great message. I wrote a full post awhile back.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
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I’ve read loads of King’s books but I didn’t read one of his most famous until 2016. Weird, I know. This is definitely one of his best. It moves at a slow pace but I was captured by the atmosphere of the book. This is one of the best vampire and horror novels out there.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancy
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It’s great to see such a creative and original book in the YA category. This novel is shockingly gory and is reminiscent of the old fashioned gothic horror novel. There’s pretty much nonstop suspense and horror I loved it. Unfortunately, I thought the second book in the series was “meh” and not as good so I’m a little wary about moving on to the next books in the series.

The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi
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“Wondla” is an amazing sci-fi adventure accompanied with some good illustrations, it’s surprising that this book isn’t more popular (I’ve never heard anyone talk about it!). I loved the main character and her robot mom along with the world in general. This is also one book that begs to be made into a movie. I hope to purchase and read the next books in the series soon.

The Child Thief by Brom
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 This is one of the best retellings I’ve ever read (maybe even the best) There’s so many layers and great characterization, another book that I think deserves more attention. I also did a full review.

So that’s my top 5, I hope everyone will read them and enjoy too 🙂 Up next will be a worst of 2016. 

Joyride by Jack Ketchum| Book Review

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Spoiler-ish.

Joyride is about a woman named Carole and her lover Lee who end up murdering her abusive ex-husband as an act of desperation. A death-obsessed man named Wayne witnesses the act and hopes to commit more murders with them.

The two protagonists of the novel don’t have a really good plan when it comes to murdering Carole’s ex-husband. The whole set up seemed extremely sloppy. Basically the plan is: Bludgeon him to death with a bat on a hiking trail and make it look like a hiking accident. They do a very poor job. Especially since the ex-husband puts up a fight.

Both of them have a lot to lose, so I would have thought they would have come up with a more full-proof plan. Not to mention, Carole is friends with an officer that checks up on her every now and then (because of the past issues with her ex-husband). So, that is one of the glaring issues with the novel.

I also didn’t feel a lot of chemistry between the two leads. And if their willing to commit a murder together, I would think that they would have a more intense relationship. In fact, at times they hardly seem into each other. Maybe this was intentional but I still didn’t like it.

Then we have Wayne, the antagonist. He’s a man who feels intense excitement for the act of murder. He comes close to strangling his girlfriend but before that it seems he never built up the courage to go through with killing a person.

That is until he witnesses Carole and Lee. He’s impressed that they’re able to murder someone. He even covers up the body better for them. Eventually he finds the two of them and wants to go on a killing spree with them. Not surprisingly, they aren’t into it.

Next comes the series of murders. Wayne seems to want to abandon their normal lives in order to go on a road-trip style killing spree. However, he soon realizes that Carole and Lee do not want to be his friends and so he turns on them.

Wayne is the most interesting character in the book – from a psychological stand point. Especially when something very creepy about his mother is reviled. The sections of the book inside his head were the best. He incites a certain level of sympathy (but only a little), and I like when writers do that with the bad guy.

Joyride has a few flaws but it’s a good book. At times, I felt it didn’t go as far as it could have gone but it was a satisfying read in the end.

3.5/5

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Review and Fanfiction Nostalgia

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is one of the most recent books that I’ve read. I had heard about it again and again on Booktube and the premise really interested me as a former fanfiction writer. I went in with pretty high expectations and overall the book pretty much met those expectations. It’s a very good story that I’m sure many people can relate to, including me.

Fangirl was an engaging book with some great characters. Even though I found Cath annoying at times, she was actually a lot like me. In terms of being introverted and writing fanfiction. But the great story aside, the best thing about this book was the memories it brought back of my fanfic days.

The Simon Snow series/fandom that Cath writes for in the book is probably based on the Harry Potter fandom. Well I’ve written a few fanfics for Harry Potter along with other fandoms but the main thing I wrote for was InuYasha. In the same way Cath loved Simon Snow, I loved InuYasha and even though I no longer write fanfiction for it, it still means a lot to me.

In the book Cath’s really popular on the fanfic site that she writes for. Well, I wasn’t that popular but I still got plenty of reviews and hits. I remember how great it was reading and writing the fanfiction, being able to do what I wanted with my favorite characters. Also like Cath, I often shipped same sex pairings (but unlike her I often did femslash aka girl on girl) although my OTP (One True Pairing) for the InuYasha fandom was a heterosexual ship.

I think many people don’t understand how much a fandom can mean to someone, for a lot of people it’s just entertainment. Simon Snow is more than just entertainment to Cath, it’s a big part of her life. InuYasha was/is a big part of my life, it wasn’t just some anime to me. It was something that consumed me and helped me when I was down. Even though I’ll probably never write fanfiction again, I still watch my InuYasha dvds over and over again. It will always be with me.

One thing I don’t have in common with Cath is that she preferred to write fanfiction over original works. That was never the case with me, I always preferred writing original stories over my fanfics. And now I just strictly write original work. Reading Fangirl made me consider writing fanfiction again and maybe I might write a few one-shots sometime in the future.

The reason I stopped writing fanfics in the first place is hard to explain, I guess I sort of got caught up in other things and lost the motivation. But being involved was still a fun time in my life that I’ll always remember. In the end, Fangirl is amazing maybe not perfect but still great. It will definitely click with all the fanfiction writers or former fanfiction writers out there.

Note: I posted this review on my old blog awhile ago.

Reading Wrap-Up | November 2016

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I didn’t read that much this month. But I’d still say it was a good reading month. I also haven’t done a wrap-up in awhile, and I want to get back into doing so.

Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee

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I like reading about other cultures and I thought the narrator’s life in her home village in India was pretty captivating. However, the book is mostly full of soap opera-like events throughout the rest of the book. The main character also become very unlikeable, especially with the ending.

Nancy Drew Files #1: Secrets can Kill by Carolyn Keene

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I was in the mood for some Nancy Drew. This is one of the best Nancy Drew books. Except Nancy’s crazy attraction to Daryl was kind of awkward. Otherwise this is a fun little read, I may even do a full review.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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This was a really great book. The way it captures the complexity of one culture is amazing. The main character isn’t likeable but he is an interesting and tragic figure.

Foe by JM Coetzee

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There’s just something I really love about this book. It’s weird and experimental but there’s something really masterful in it’s overall theme.

 

 

Book Pet Peeves

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Everyone has their pet peeves when it comes to books. Some of mine are probably pretty common. But I would like to do a little ranting myself so that’s why I decided to do mthis post. These pet peeves are about both the book’s story content and physical aspects of the book itself (cover content, etc.) Keep in mind, just because I have these pet peeves doesn’t mean I won’t like a book that contains them – sometimes they can be overlooked if everything else is solid. Indeed, some of my favs have these pet peeves.

I’ll list the storytelling pet peeves first!

Love Triangles

A lot of people complain about this one so that should tell writers and publishers something. It’s also a bigger problem in Young Adult books. To me, it’s just a lazy way to keep reader interest and they often take over the plot. Sometimes love triangles can be well done but most of the time they are a waste of time.

Stretching out book into a series

I prefer stand-alone novels. It will also take a lot for me to be dedicated enough to read an entire series, especially one that’s super long. And some books will stretch there plots into a series when it doesn’t really need it.  There’s also a higher chance of the author ruining the original characters and losing their touch.

Romance Novel in Disguise

Some books will make you think that their plot is an action-packed sci-fi thriller only to find out that 68% of the book is about the romance. If your book’s a romance I feel you should market it as such – and, I mean, romance novels sell extremely well so what’s the motivation?

Present Tense

I can’t stand reading a book in present tense. Why? I can’t explain. It just annoys me greatly for some reason…there’s almost a sense of rushing and incompleteness. It’s hard to explain.

Cold/Emotionless Main Characters meant to be “badasses”

To me there’s nothing hot about a guy that never shows emotion, is always grumpy and serious. There isn’t anything empowering about a woman who shows the same traits either. They aren’t cool or badasses…they’re boring. But I don’t mind if a character is emotionally distant as long it’s a trait they have to overcome.

Pseudo-Diversity

Ok, I love diversity in a book and as a black female…I like seeing black female characters. But a lot of these authors just throw in a gay, black etc. character that has no personality. To me, if they are not as compelling or well-written as the other characters then it’s just pseudo diversity. It’s either make them good or just stick to the characters you really want to write.

So those are the story telling pet peeves from the top of my head and not for physical attributes of a book:

Not clearly saying the series number.

Seriously, put what number the book is in the series clearly on the cover somewhere. I think not doing it might be a ploy to get people to actually buy the wrong book and then have to automatically buy the rest of the books in the series.

Comparing a book to a popular series to sell.

Sometimes there will be a sticker on a book that says something to leach off a popular series: “Just like Harry Potter!” “Readers of The Hunger Games will love this!” this is just annoying.  Especially when sometimes said book isn’t even like the series mentioned.

Cover with just a face.

I don’t want photograph of a random girl staring at me on my cover…not to mention this type of design just seems too easy. I’ll put an example:

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Nope.

The Great Reading Slump and Update

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Reading slumps. Every book-related blog or Youtube channel seems to talk about them at one point. They’ll usually come with advice on how to get out of the slump as well. I’ve been through a few reading slumps over the years but nothing really major. It was usually just me taking a short little break from my most important hobby and then quickly returning to it.

But this was a bit different. I was actually in some sort of deep depression. It was a struggle to mentally focus on any book. Now, I did have video games (Fire Emblem, mostly) to fill the void a little. But it wasn’t enough, reading’s a part of who I am and when I’m not doing it on a fairly regular basis I feel weird and extremely sad.

This slump is also different because I felt it went on for too long. I couldn’t explain why it started either. I guess I just needed a period to gather my thoughts.

Because of the slump my blog died for a while. Well, I hope to start writing again. And like before, the main focus will be books and literature. I’ll be throwing in some posts on movies, video games and other things (the blog does say “Literature and more” after all). But I will be once again be writing about the various books I read or have already read.

Well, goodbye slump.

I don’t really have any advice for getting out of one. I feel that everyone has to escape their slump in their own individual way – there’s no universal solution.