Neil Gaiman

All posts tagged Neil Gaiman

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

Published February 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

What did I think?:

I really do not know where to start with this book. Disclaimer: I’ve not read too much Neil Gaiman before, in fact I’ve barely begun on my Gaiman journey but I’m starting to believe after reading The Ocean At The End Of The Lane that he is a true master of his craft. It’s a bit odd, a bit quirky, occasionally quite dream-like and vague but if you can deal with all of that and in fact, you enjoy that in your novels, you are in for a wonderful time if you haven’t read this book yet. I found it quite a surreal reading experience in general, but infinitely worth it and now I definitely see what all the fuss is about with Neil Gaiman. I’m just delighted I have so much of his back catalogue to dip into at my leisure, I don’t think I’ve even gone past the tip of the iceberg of what this man can do with his words.

This story opens with a middle-aged man who is going back to his home town to attend a funeral. He deliberately makes a diversion to his childhood home and more specifically, to a very special place in his childhood. This is to his best friend Lettie Hempstock’s childhood home which she shared with her mother and grandmother. He remembers as he sits in her back garden that she told him she had an ocean back there, then all the memories of that occasionally terrifying part of his childhood comes racing back to him. We learn about his struggles at school being bookish and unpopular, his family’s financial difficulties that forced them to take in lodgers and how he met Lettie. The events that follow are precipitated by a suicide in a car near to his home, then followed by venomous strangers, cruelty, monsters that turn out to be real and a dangerous mission to rid the world and protect themselves from a very unwelcome creature.

I’ve only started dipping my toe into the realm of fantasy quite recently and I’m thoroughly enjoying what I’ve discovered so far, particularly Neil Gaiman who creates these magical worlds with fantastical elements that take you right back to your own childhood. I really remembered what it was like to be a child, how I used to make-believe, how little things like a shadow by a door (which actually turned out to be a dressing gown!) could be so terrifying and the beauty and terrors of an over-active imagination. I loved the strong friendship that the author created between Lettie and our male lead, who remains nameless throughout the novel and I just adored the vivacious, strange Lettie who seems like she has been eleven years old forever, and is the boy’s soulmate at a very terrifying, difficult time in his life. I think although this is probably a more adult read, I really believe older teenagers would enjoy this book too, particularly the child narration which is just perfect. For me, it was a nostalgic, adventure-filled and occasionally eerie story that I devoured in no time at all and had a great time whilst doing it!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2017 – The Round Up

Published December 31, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/02/17/beware-the-bigoted-subtext-of-childrens-literature.html

Hello everyone and welcome to Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2017 The Round Up where we’ll be talking about our highlights (and lowlights) of our Kid Lit year. As always, we’ve read some fantastic books and series, some of which we will be continuing into 2018. Please find below all the books we read and the links to my reviews. For Chrissi’s reviews the link will be at the bottom of each original post.

JANUARY- Prince Caspian- C.S. Lewis
FEBRUARY- The Cuckoo Sister- Vivian Alcock
MARCH- Awful Auntie- David Walliams
APRIL- A Snicker of Magic- Natalie Lloyd
MAY- The Sea Of Monsters (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #2)- Rick Riordan
JUNE- The Prime Minister’s Brain- Gillian Cross
JULY- The Reptile Room (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #2) by Lemony Snicket
AUGUST- Fortunately, the Milk- Neil Gaiman
SEPTEMBER- Saffy’s Angel – Hilary McKay
OCTOBER- Black Hearts in Battersea- Joan Aiken
NOVEMBER- Witch Child – Celia Rees
DECEMBER- Finding Jennifer Jones- Anne Cassidy

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our year in Kid-Lit blogging.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2017 and why?
BETH: It’s a toss up between two for me – Awful Auntie by David Walliams who I’ve really fallen in love with as a children’s author for his unique style often compared to Roald Dahl. The second is Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman which I was utterly charmed by, especially the wonderful illustrations by Chris Riddell.
CHRISSI: For me, there was a stand out read this year for me and that was Awful Auntie. David Walliams is such a fantastic writer for children and I love the subtle humour that appeals to adults too.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2017 and why?
BETH: That’s an easy one I’m afraid. It was Witch Child by Celia Rees. Unfortunately I found this book a bit of a slog and wasn’t overly impressed with the story.
CHRISSI: Same as Beth for me, I didn’t get on with Witch ChildI’m afraid I was a little bored by it, which is a great shame!
3) What was the Kid-Lit book of 2017 that surprised you the most?
BETH: Perhaps The Cuckoo Sister by Vivian Alcock. It was a huge favourite of mine as a child and I went into it anticipating that I would love it just as much. It was a shame that I didn’t but it was still a nostalgic reading experience.
CHRISSI:  I don’t like to look like I’m copying what Beth says each time, but for me it was also The Cuckoo Sister. I was expecting such a fabulous, nostalgic reading experience and I was left wondering why I liked it so much as a child.
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2017?
BETH: Definitely more from Rick Riordan who writes the Percy Jackson series. I love the fantasy and mythology elements, I’m really enjoying the characters and hoping to continue with at it at some point next year.
CHRISSI:  I will definitely read more from David Walliams. Big fan over here!

For anyone who reads these posts, thank you so much for your continued support, we love doing this challenge and hope to continue it indefinitely. Coming on January 2nd – the big reveal for Kid-Lit 2018! Which titles made it this year? And which titles are we going to have to do er…. another year?!

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2017 – AUGUST READ – Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Published August 31, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

You know what it’s like when your mum goes away on a business trip and Dad’s in charge. She leaves a really, really long list of what he’s got to do. And the most important thing is DON’T FORGET TO GET THE MILK. Unfortunately, Dad forgets. So the next morning, before breakfast, he has to go to the corner shop, and this is the story of why it takes him a very, very long time to get back.

Featuring: Professor Steg (a time-travelling dinosaur), some green globby things, the Queen of the Pirates, the famed jewel that is the Eye of Splod, some wumpires, and a perfectly normal but very important carton of milk.

What did I think?:

I’ve only recently got into the magical world of Neil Gaiman’s writing and I’m loving the whole experience. I’ve read a couple of his adult books now and a few of his graphic novels so when the time came for Chrissi and I to prepare our Kid Lit list for this year we wanted to include one of Neil’s children’s books – Fortunately, The Milk which is part text, part illustration by the wonderful talent that is Chris Riddell. I have to say, the illustrations in this story really brought an extra something to the narrative and gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling when I was reading this but even without the drawings, the story stands confidently on its own and would bring so much joy and happiness to children and adults alike who read it. It certainly made me smile multiple times when I was reading it and I can’t wait to read it to my nephew whom I’m sure would hoot with laughter at it.

Fortunately, The Milk is the story of a normal father and his two children whom he is tasked with looking after when his wife goes away for a short period of time. He almost fails at the first hurdle when he forgets to replenish the milk stock for the children’s cereal in the morning but pops out to the corner shop to get some and is gone an extraordinarily long time. When he comes back and the children quiz him about where he has been he tells them a fantastical tale of pirates in the eighteenth century, vampires (or wumpires) that want to destroy him and an ancient tribe that fancy him for a sacrifice, a Stegosaurus in a hot air balloon, aliens that want to take over the world and a galactic police manned by dinosaurs. Throughout it all, all he is concerned about is keeping the milk safe and getting back to his children so that they can have their cereal. In the end, it is down to that little carton of milk which ends up saving the world!

This is a fantastic and hilarious adventure that had me captivated throughout. It’s fairly short so I think it will appeal to a variety of age ranges but is also action-packed so there’s little chance of boredom. I already knew of Chris Riddell’s talent as an illustrator but I really loved the drawings in this story, they complimented Neil Gaiman’s writing perfectly and were so entertaining to look at I actually read the book a little slower just so I could stare at them a bit longer and fully appreciate them. Fortunately, The Milk is definitely a book I would enjoy reading to children, I can already imagine all the voices I could do (especially for the wumpires) and it has the potential to become a classic piece of children’s literature.

For Chrissi’s fantastic review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN SEPTEMBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT 2017: Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay.

Image from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/14/fortunately-milk-neil-gaiman-review

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – The Titles For 2017 Revealed!

Published January 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Welcome 2017! Welcome to a new year of Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit. Without further ado, here are the titles we have chosen for the year ahead:

JANUARY- Prince Caspian- C.S. Lewis
FEBRUARY- The Cuckoo Sister- Vivian Alcock
MARCH- Awful Auntie- David Walliams
APRIL- A Snicker of Magic- Natalie Lloyd
MAY- The Sea Of Monsters (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #2)- Rick Riordan
JUNE- The Prime Minister’s Brain- Gillian Cross
JULY- The Reptile Room (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #2) by Lemony Snicket
AUGUST- Fortunately, the Milk- Neil Gaiman
SEPTEMBER- Saffy’s Angel – Hilary McKay
OCTOBER- Black Hearts in Battersea- Joan Aiken
NOVEMBER- Witch Child – Celia Rees
DECEMBER- Finding Jennifer Jones- Anne Cassidy
So much to look forward to this year. We are carrying on with a couple of series we have really enjoyed like the Narnia series which we have been reading since 2013. I am particularly looking forward to Prince Caspian as it’s one of the Narnia books I don’t really remember. We also have The Prime Minister’s Brain following up from The Demon Headmaster in 2016, Finding Jennifer Jones which is the sequel to Looking For JJ by Anne Cassidy and of course another book from David Walliams, an author whom we are really enjoying! There are some stand alone titles on here too that we thought looked intriguing and an old favourite – The Cuckoo Sister, which we both remember fondly from our childhood. Bring on Kid-Lit 2017, we’re ready for ya!

August 2016 – Real Book Month

Published August 6, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Every other month I set myself a little challenge to complete which alternates depending on the month from Chrissi Cupboard Month and Real Book Month to Kindle/NetGalley/Review Copy Month. This August it is the turn for real books, which is one of my favourite months. I have a HUGE backlog of books just itching to be read and its a way of trying to get that pesky TBR and my own book collection down to er…more manageable levels, if at all possible! This August I shall mostly be reading :

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie – Alan Bradley

I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer

The Moth – Catherine Burns

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal – Mal Peet

Born Weird – Andrew Kaufman

The Last Banquet – Jonathan Grimwood

1222 – Anne Holt

The Panda Theory – Pascal Garnier

All these books have a bit of a theme through them – they are the books I have (shamefully) still to read from the wonderful reading spa I went to with my sister, Chrissi quite a while ago now. We recently went again to Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights for another spa and it reminded me I really had to finish what we had last time! So now… I will! Looking forward to all of these beauties.

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2015 – The Round Up

Published December 31, 2015 by bibliobeth

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Hi everyone and welcome to my round up post where Chrissi and I talk about our highlights (and lowlights!) of Kid-Lit 2015. We had some fantastic books on the list this year, please see my reviews below and for Chrissi’s reviews, visit her blog HERE.

JANUARY- Five Children And It- E.Nesbit

FEBRUARY- Pollyanna- Eleanor H.Porter

MARCH- Diary of A Wimpy Kid- Jeff Kinney

APRIL- Flour Babies- Anne Fine 

MAY- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe- C.S Lewis

JUNE- Velveteen Rabbit- Margery Bianco 

JULY- Gangsta Granny- David Walliams 

AUGUST- The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman

SEPTEMBER- Watership Down- Richard Adams

OCTOBER- Goodnight Mister Tom- Michelle Magorian

NOVEMBER- The Class That Went Wild- Ruth Thomas

DECEMBER – The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick Riordan

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our third year of Kid-Lit blogging.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2015 and why?
BETH: SUCH a tough choice. We had some super amazing titles this year. If I absolutely had to choose one it would be Goodnight Mister Tom which narrowly beats The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, one of my all-time favourites. So beautiful. So moving. I may have shed a tear or two…
CHRISSI: It has to be Goodnight Mister Tom which is one of my favourite books of all time, even as an adult it moved me. Possibly more so. Arghhhh the love I have for this book.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2015 and why?
BETH: Hmm. There weren’t any real howlers this year (compared to the horror that was The Swiss Family Robinson last year!). Again if I had to choose, I would go for Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. This is not because it’s terrible because it’s not at all. Perhaps I was just expecting something a bit more and maybe I’m the wrong demographic but it wasn’t an amazing read for me.
CHRISSI: Watership Down. I’m a massive rabbit lover and wanted to connect with it more.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book of 2015 that surprised you the most?
BETH: Either Watership Down which was slightly darker than I expected or Velveteen Rabbit which was even more adorable than I expected!
CHRISSI: The Lightning Thief. I didn’t expect to enjoy Percy Jackson as much as I did!
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2015?
BETH: Yes! Something else from Ruth Thomas after once again thoroughly enjoying The Class That Went Wild as an adult and David Walliams as I thought Gangsta Granny was a brilliant read. Wonder if one of these authors will turn up on our list for 2016? &#X1f60a
CHRISSI: More from David Walliams and Rick Riordan!

For anyone who reads these posts, thank you so much for your continued support, we love doing this challenge and hope to continue it indefinitely. Coming tomorrow – the big reveal for Kid-Lit 2016! Which titles made it this year? And which titles are we going to have to do er…. another year?!

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2015 – AUGUST READ – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Published August 30, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

What did I think?:

Shockingly to some people I’m sure, this was my first foray into the magical world of Neil Gaiman! The Graveyard Book was our August read for Beth and Chrissi do Kid Lit 2015 and I’m so, so glad we picked it. Warning – this book probably isn’t suitable for much younger readers as there are some scary moments that young children might find a bit too much to take. Consider the opening: a man called Jack is methodically making his way through a family home, knife in hand (for reasons we do not know as yet) and ends up killing the entire family save for one toddler who manages to escape into a graveyard. Yikes. The spooks are quite amused by this living creature turning up and are aware of the danger he is in so by a ghosty vote decide to look after and protect the child themselves. Mr and Mrs Owens are to be the boy’s parents, and a man called Silas (who flits between both the living and the dead) is to be his guardian. They name the child Nobody, or Bod for short.

The rest of the novel follows Bod as he grows up in the graveyard, including his adventures with the undead, lessons on how to “fade,” walk through walls and world history. Which by the way is much more accurate when you can actually speak to the people who were there at the time! Bod even goes to school outside the graveyard for a short period, cut short when he witnesses bullying and decides to give the bullies a taste of their own medicine. In doing this, unfortunately Bod has brought a lot of attention to himself which is not something his guardian Silas wants. Especially as the man called Jack is still out there and still hunting Bod down as the child he failed to kill.

Oh my goodness, what can I say about this book? First of all, the idea – so unique and kooky and I really loved the idea of a child growing up in a graveyard protected by centuries-old spooks that both look after and teach him. I loved the character of Bod, he was so unusual (which is what you get when you’re raised by ghosts I suppose?) and so fiercely moral. The way he stood up to school bullies was wonderful and at times, side-splittingly funny as he reversed the roles and gave them a taster of what it would be like to be afraid. This is also a great anti-bullying statement from Neil Gaiman and almost made me wish we had those tools at our disposal in today’s schools! Finally, the illustrations in this book from Chris Riddell were fantastic and complimented Neil Gaiman’s words beautifully. This is my first Neil Gaiman but it definitely won’t be my last. In fact, after I finished this book, I immediately downloaded all his other work, that’s how good it was. Read it, suspend your disbelief and just enjoy!

To see Chrissi’s fabulous review, visit her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0