Audiobook – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Posted by on Mar 5, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Neil Gaiman | 3 comments

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: 2013
Length: 5 hours, 48 minutes
Read by: Neil Gaiman
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
An unnamed man returns to the area of his childhood home for a funeral and recalls long forgotten events.

Why I Read It:
I have heard such good reviews of this and I have never read anything by Neil Gaiman (I know). I decided this was a good book to start with.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. 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. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. 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. A stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

My Thoughts:
Oh this book was just a delight to listen to. Not many authors are the best choice to narrate their own work but Neil Gaiman is an exception. His narration of the audio of this book absolutely made it perfect.

This story is full of magical happenings but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns stuff. This also has plenty of the dark and foreboding fare that Grimm’s unDisneyfied Fairy Tales contained. It’s got fairy tale elements but it’s definitely for adults.

There were so many times I had to stop the audio to make note of a quote to look up later or listen to parts of it again. It took me longer than the stated length of the audiobook because it was so full of perfectly written and spoken moments.

I could fill pages with quotes I wrote down. Many of them and much of the book involve the differences in how children and adults experience and perceive things.

Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.

Peas baffled me. I could not understand why grown-ups would take things that tasted so good raw, and then put them in tins, and make them revolting.

I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.

I highly recommend the audio version of this book. Gaiman manages to add to the magic of the story and his voice wraps the magic around you.

Now that I have confessed that this is my first Gaiman I want to listen to more of his books that he’s narrated. Which Gaiman book do you suggest I listen to next?

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration

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It’s Monday What Are You Reading #24

Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in Blogging/Reading, What Are You Reading? | 4 comments

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

This weekly reading roundup is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This was one of those weeks in which I finished up everything I was reading and started all new books

Finished this week

The Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye

I enjoyed this one a lot and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series. The third is coming out soon too.

The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman by Matgot Mifflin

The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman by Margot Mifflin

This was very interesting non-fiction about a young girl kidnapped by Indians in 1851.

Bone Vol. 2: The Great Cow Race

Bone Vol. 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith

This is such a fun series. I giggled my way through volume two yesterday. I will be getting volume 3 from the library this week.

Finished on audio:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a delight to listen to. I’m a little ashamed to admit that this is my first Gaiman but it definitely won’t be my last.

Started this week

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy this one even though I have heard things that I consider spoilerish on Twitter.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

 

I’ve had this one for ages. I need to read it before the TV series starts next month.

Started on audio

Death of an Outsider by M.C Beaton

Death of an Outsider by M.C Beaton

What are you reading?

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Weekend Update – The Here’s The Latest Baby Afghan Edition

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Crochet/Knit projects, Fun, photos, Weekend Update | 7 comments

Weekend Update

Nothing about books or reading this week. I’m saving the February Reading Wrap-Up for next weekend.

I actually finished these up last week but waited until they were delivered to post photos.

Baby Blanket and Doll Blanket
This project is a baby afghan for a special little boy and a doll blanket for his big sister. As I have done before, I had the Mom pick out a yarn color but didn’t give her any idea what the finished blankets would look like. I just love the color she chose.

Pattern DetailCrochet
Yarn – Patons Astra
Colors – Ocean Mist and White

I got some photos yesterday of the kid and their blankets. Big sister had her stuffed animal all tucked in while she read to it. Those photos just made my day.

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March Photo a Day Challenges

Posted by on Feb 28, 2015 in Fun, photos | 2 comments

March Photo a Day Challenges

I’m sticking with what works well for me.

No single photo a day prompt list fully works for me. I choose to save several lists and choose one prompt each day from among those lists. I’m happy to say that I love this approach and it works great for me. I highly recommend it.

Here is a sample of the photo a day lists I’ll be using for February:
(click on the images to see larger versions)

If committing to a month at a time feels like too much then Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim may have the answer for you. For 2015 she is using weekly lists of prompts. That way if you feel like you lost track or have lost the oomph you have a new starting point each and every week.

Check out my Photo a Day history on Shuttercal where today I’ll post my 1081st daily photo.

Follow my Daily Photos on Instagram

Here are the most liked of my March Photo a Day photos:

If you’re not doing a Photo a Day challenge I hope you’ll consider it because it’s a fun way to have a photo journal. If you are, great! Keep up with it. You won’t be sorry. I highly recommend the pick from many prompts each day approach.

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Nutshell Review: Snowpiercer Vol. 2: The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in 2 stars, 2015, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 1 comment

Snowpiercer Vol. 2: The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand with art by Jean-Marc Rochette

Snowpiercer Vol. 2: The Explorers by Benjamin Legrand

Genre: Science Fiction, Graphic Novel
Series: #2 in the Snowpiercer series
Publisher: Titan Comics
Publication Date: 2014 (Originally published 1999 and 2000)
Pages: 140
Source: Library


The Book:

This volume 2 contains parts 2 and 3 of the series
From the publisher:

Coursing through an eternal winter, on an icy track wrapped around the frozen planet Earth, there travels a train that never stops. This is Snowpiercer: one thousand and one carriages long. The last bastion of human civilization. Or is it? A second train travels through the snow on the same track, its inhabitants living in constant fear of crashing into Snowpiercer.

My Thoughts:
This second and final volume (which actually contains parts two and three) of the series was published after the death of the writer of the first volume. Jean-Marc Rochette continued as the illustrator but Benjamin Legrand picked up the writing duties.

I enjoyed the premise and the story of the first volume but my advice it stop there. The second volume is rather muddied and indistinct both in the writing and the artwork. The story kind of wanders aimlessly. The artwork is not as sharp as the first volume and is often as blurry as the plot.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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Dr. Mütter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Posted by on Feb 26, 2015 in 2015, 4 stars, Book Review | 1 comment

Dr. Mütter's Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Publisher: Gotham Books
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 371
Source: copy provided by the publisher

The Short Version:
This book is part biography of an individual and also a look at the state of medicine and medical education in the mid 1800’s.

Why I Read It:
I first heard about this when Jenn at Jenns Bookshelves mentioned it on Twitter. It sounded fascinating.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.

Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

My Thoughts:
This book is partly a biography of Thomas Dent Mütter and partly an exploration of the advancements in medicine and medical education in the mid 1800’s.

Mütter himself was flamboyant and certainly quite different than the other established medical educators when he began teaching at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. His approach in working with patients before surgery to help them relax and understand what would happen was bizarre to his contemporaries.

Many of the medical practices described in this book seem horrific today. The description of Mütter performing surgery on a man with a severe cleft palate without any sort of anesthesia is not something you want to read over lunch.

Mütter was at the forefront of many medical innovations and at least one of his plastic surgery techniques used on burn victims is the basis of a procedure used today.

I liked that the book was not only about Mütter but also about the development of the Jefferson Medical College and the organization and advancements in medical education and practice during his lifetime. It’s fascinating and horrifying all at the same time to read about what passed for medical expertise in those days.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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