Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman

So, I have a pretty vivid imagination. When reading a book, I find it very easy to paint a mental picture of a person, place or monster for myself. Sometimes, however, I deliberately tone the picture down, blur its edges and paint certain details over with a bucket of smoky paint. Why? Mainly because it makes it easier for me to sleep at night. For example, I've just finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s novel Mistborn, and in it we meet a certain creature that eats bodies and then uses body parts to form its own body. Basically, it’s a creature consisting of a bunch of human and animal heads, arms, legs and so on. It’s slightly creepy, if I'm honest. And because of the said creepiness the picture of the creature that I painted in my mind isn't very detailed, it’s really just a black cloud with an occasional limb sticking out of it. The mental image is toned down and I stay (relatively) sane. Everyone’s happy. But there is a type of a novel where this toning down business is not possible. I'm talking of course, about graphic novels. Novels that don’t describe, but show, which tends to make them more erm, well, graphic. Who would have thought? This graphicness is of course a two sided sword. On the one hand it makes it easier to imagine things, but on the other we are limited and forced to see a character or an event exactly as the author had intended. You decide if that’s good or bad, but as you’re making your decision, may I introduce you to Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman?

I've read Neil Gaiman before and I am well aware that he has some twisted ideas in that brilliant mind of his. And it seems to me that just about every one of those ideas came out when he was working on The Sandman.

The Sandman is a series of ten volumes and each and every one of them is creepy as hell. Every volume mainly follows the story of Dream, but we also get to see glimpses of the lives of his siblings. They are Death, Delirium, Destiny, Desire, Despair and Destruction, and they are called the Endless. They are among the most powerful beings in the universe but even though they’re so powerful, they’re far from perfect or all knowing. They’re seriously flawed, vain, cruel, stubborn and at times, wonderful. In their own twisted way. Ironically enough, Death is the kindest, most lovable and down to earth character of them all. On the second thought, that’s not really ironic at all. It’s actually spot on.

The story and the art work amazingly well together, the pace is fast and the stories all different. It never gets boring and while I liked some of the stories more than others, I loved the series as a whole. The stories are incredible, engaging and gruesome. Like seriously gruesome. For example, in one of Dream’s stories we are introduced to a group of people who call themselves ‘the Collectors’. And no, surprisingly enough they don’t collect stamps or antique coins. We could say that they mainly specialise in human memorabilia. Fleshy human memorabilia. But no matter how strange, sick or gruesome it got, I just kept on reading, story after story, volume after volume. The art repulsed me at times, but somehow that made me want to keep on reading even more.

I know that graphic novels aren't as popular as the regular type, but I do think they deserve more attention. With The Sandman you not only get to read an amazing story, but at the same time you get to see some pretty amazing art. So, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and want a bit more colour on your pages, why not give The Sandman a try? He’s expecting you in his realm. Dun dun dun. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Top 5 Book Characters On Screen

Since my fellow bookling Aotee is off enjoying the wonders of Ireland and I am slaving away at work for days at a time, we've been neglecting our baby a little bit, but we still managed to agree on top 5 book characters that were brought to life on the big screen.

5. Aragorn from The Lord of The Rings Trilogy

Who can resist the ever so dashing and brave Aragorn and his mighty sword? (Never mind the double entendre.) 

4. Tyrion Lannister from A Song Of Ice and Fire Series

3. Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials Trilogy

Why was there only one movie? And there were 5, five Twilight movies...

2. Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter Series

"When they entered the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom they found Professor Umbridge already seated at the teacher’s desk, wearing the fluffy pink cardigan of the night before and the black velvet bow on top of her head. Harry was again reminded forcibly of a large fly perched unwisely on top of an even larger toad."

She did not only resemble a toad, a few other animals also come to mind. For example a bi..... Yea, we totally meant bipolar monkey.

1. Severus Snape from Harry Potter Series

We LOVED to HATE him. We also loved him. 

What do you think? Do you agree with our (wonderful) choices or do you have other contenders?

Monday, 11 February 2013

[Rant] City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

First of all I have to say that I've read this book in June 2010, so you must be wandering why I am ranting about it almost three years later. Well, it's because of the darn movie, that's why. And it's not a rant exactly... It's more of a short explanation why City of Bones did not appeal to me.

I distinctly remember being very disappointed after finishing the last page of City of Bones, and for several reasons. The most obvious one, and the most outraging, is the incest thingy (technically it wasn't ... but the ones who've read it know what I'm talking about) which I did not see coming, so I was pretty baffled. This is not a good twist! This is disgusting! 

The action scenes were exciting and tension-building, but the rest was so boring I almost had to fix toothpicks to eyelids to avoid falling into a boredom induced coma. Characters' age didn't help matters. I had trouble identifying with 15 year olds even back then!

So these are the main things I remember disliking about the book which is a lot, considering my Swiss cheese memory disorder. It just goes to tell how strong my feelings were toward City of Bones. Now, after 2,5 years after reading it I am curious if I would still have the same opinion and reactions toward the book, so I've been considering re-reading it for quite some time now. Plus, the trailer for the movie looks very appealing so I want to go watch it in August!

And when I go to Goodreads, I see that almost all my friends have rated it 5 stars and I keep wondering if I read the same book as they. So please tell me, kind people, a good reason (or two, or three) why I should read the City of Bones again and continue with the series. That would really help convince me!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Shadow of Time by Jen Minkman

All Hannah needs is a nice and quiet vacation after her first year of teaching French at a high school. She joins her brother Ben for the summer in their mom’s log cabin in Arizona. There, she meets Josh again, Ben’s childhood friend from the Navajo reservation. The little boy from the rez has grown up fast, and Hannah can’t help but feeling more for him than just friendship. 

But fate apparently has something else in store for her. And it’s not peace and quiet. Night after night, Hannah is plagued by strange nightmares about the past of Navajo Nation and terrifying shadows chasing her. They seem to come closer – and why is Josh always present in her dreams? 

Sometimes, the past has a way of catching up with you. (Goodreads)

"When I'm with you, I forget everything around me," he spoke softly. "It's like time stands still. I can step out of its shadow."

First of all I have to thank the author Jen Minkman who kindly sent a copy of the book to me for Christmas. Due to silly reasons (my birthday, exams and starting a blog (this baby, yay!)) I haven't had much time to read, but I was really curious about Shadow of Time so I took some time away from the madding crowd and dived into the world of mystery, love, Native American culture and paranormal. I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised to see how the book turned out. 

The thing I appreciated the most was the originality of the plot. I especially liked the mystery surrounding the three - three guys, three wolves, three girls aso, all creepy and spooky. I had no clue as to what could be going on (and usually I'm pretty good at guessing), and the mysterious events the main characters were involved in were intriguing and also creepy times. It is evident that Minkman did a thorough research into the Native Americans, the way she weaved the Native American culture into the story was brilliant and interesting to read, indeed; I love the Native American culture ever since I got my hands on Vinetou as a little kid. 

Hannah, the main heroine, is likeable, if a bit ... distant. She is also very insecure. At times I couldn't really relate to her, maybe because we didn't get much insight into her life and past (in this life time, I mean), but what I loved about her was her relationship with her brother, Ben. Well, mostly I was jealous. I'd like to have that kind of a relationship with my younger brother! 

Now let's talk about Josh. Ahh, even the name sounds sexy! I must confess I was baffled, perplexed, even flabbergasted (Stop it Inx, now you're just listing your favourite English words!) when his age was mentioned. If I wasn't already sitting I'd be thrown on my derrière. Vraiment! Ah mon dieu, at first I was like a ghetto girl: "Oh no, you di'int!", waving my index finger around and pursing my lips furiously, and I seriously thought: This is it, the end of the road for me. But as I thought about it for a minute, I realized that there must be a story behind it all, and it turned out there was, and a good one. Phew. As far as Josh's relationship with Hannah is concerned - I wanted to slap him senseless for constantly breaking up with Hannah. Yea I know he had his reasons and they were reasonable, but still! One doesn't just go 'round breaking young girls' hearts. But joking aside, I liked how mature their relationship was and how they managed to overcome all the problems that almost tore them apart. Again.

I must give props to Jen Minkman for translating the book from Dutch to English. As a fellow translator I can imagine it took a lot of time (and nerves) to translate it, and I think she did a great job. So, kudos for that, and for writing a unique story with parts that make all you romantics out there (I myself am not much of a romantic) go awwwww and parts that make us paranormal junkies go oujea! Or in plain words, this is not your ordinary paranormal story about love, revenge and mystery. It's much more.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Random Day References #1

This a new concoction by yours truly. The rules are as easy as a cucumber - the bookling who finds the most book titles in this story wins! The prize is our infamous virtual platter of chocolate chip brownies. They're delicious. Let the games begin!

The Storyteller’s Journey There and Back Again

Once upon a time, in the gardens of the moon, there lived a boy called David Copperfield. He was a book thief who wanted nothing more but to find a place called the chamber of secrets. This chamber was said to contain the time machine that David wanted to use to travel to the world's end, because that's where the best books are. He only needed to ask mister Pip, the magician's apprentice, to help him find a wrinkle in time, and he would be off on the road. After all, how hard can it be? So David set off to find Pip, who was supposed to be with his beloved in a house of mirth. When he found him, Pip said that he will help him, if he answers one question. "Why is the fault in our stars, and not in us?" he asked.

"Because ours are hearts of darkness that refuse to see the beauty of them. They are something strange and deadly to us because their bloodlines are different. It's easier to find fault in things that are different." Pip nodded. 
"To find the wrinkle you must go past the two towers, survive the storm of swords, go through the vanity fair and dance with a dragon. When you've done all this, you will have to enter the forest of hands and teeth, and in its very centre you will see the wrinkle."