New life goal: Hang out in graveyards

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens, called Bod, a boy who is raised by ghosts. When Bod was just a toddler the Man Jack slaughtered his family, but as a curious, adventurous child, he quite accidentally escaped that night and was rescued by the ghosts in the Graveyard up the hill. There, safely hidden from the Man Jack and the rest of the world, Nod grows up, makes friends, looses some of them, learns and saves the world.

The audio book was read by Neil Gaiman, which was lovely. He animated the text in a way that I don’t think anyone else could and it was amazing.

I also really loved the book. The first chapter was great, I couldn’t wait until the next one. Which was kind of a small, episodic story. And so was the next one. And the next one. And after a while I was getting worried that it was just going to be just a string of cute little stories but then it got pulled all together nicely in the end. It was beautiful.

The ghosts were amazing, and probably my favourite parts, the ghosts and the other monsters who are part of Nod’s life. And he’s a delightful little hero, written perfectly to match Nod’s development. It’s full of fun literary and historical jokes which I loved and did a really good job of delving into the deep history of England without ever beating you to death with it Edward Rutherford style.

Delightful, funny but maybe not a great kids book. It was also wordy and sometimes slow, with loads of description. Things that I enjoy as an adult, but I’m not sure I’d have plowed through as a child. I’d read it with high skilled readers I think, but probably not pitch it at every kid I ever saw.

Even if I loved it.

Last movie I watched:

About Time I think. Most beautiful movie ever. So beautiful.

Last TV episode I watched:

VERONICA MARS!!!!!!

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New experience: Vampire Sci Fi on CD!

The Blood of Eden: Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My new, exciting librarian type job is great and I like it very much and it comes with a long commute. So I thought “Hey audiobooks!” And I have to say, I like them. I mean, I miss the smell of books and turning the pages and the snuggling aspect of the experience, but it’s great to have someone else to read for you. And a super smart use of time.

So my audiobook virginity goes to the Immortal Rules, a story about Ally, an Unregistered who lives in the fringes of a vampire city, struggling to keep herself and her crew from starving and not getting bitten by any of the rulers of the city. Of course, it doesn’t stay like this for long, and after a particularly terrible night she finds herself facing an impossible choice: die or become one of the race she hates the most, a vampire.

Obviously (spoiler) she chooses to become a vampire or else the book would be real short, and enters into another world, but not completely. Despite her undeadness and blood sucking nature she can’t quite escape human feelings like love, compassion and loyalty, which drive her to do the most unvampire like things.

Man, it was good. It was a weird blend of mythology, mostly the vampire kind, and science fiction, where a pandemic is what leads to the post-apocalyptic  dystopian Ally survives in. And it was positively delightful. Ally was a lovable heroine who struggles with her intense emotions, blood lust, duty and self preservation instincts and the supporting cast is great. Who doesn’t love Zek and Kanan and even Caleb. It’s a story of humanity in a world where it’s mostly gone.

There’s one big complaint I do have about it though, and that’s the writing. As previously mentioned, I’m a snob. Any novel that uses the word “cacophony” three times minimum isn’t winning any points for language use. And if I had a nickel for every time the phrase “hot blood flooded” was used, I’d never have to buy gas again. The world is vivid but the words are often clumsy, with dull sentence structures that quickly become patterns. The same collections of verbs and adverbs appear with the frequency of monsters dating Xander Harris.

I want it all. A great story, with real characters and language that’s interesting.

Still, highly recommend and I can’t wait for the next one. My god, that cliff hanger.

Last movie I watched:

Spiderman II. I liked it. Even if the internet didn’t.

Last TV episode I watched:

Buffy. Oh god Tara. Why Tara why?

Good old mediocre teen science fiction

Earthseed by Pamela Sargent

This book was great! In a well it was okay I guess I liked it kind of way.

I mean, it had most of your staples of solid science fiction. Strong female heroine, mysterious back story of earth, exciting and new tech and social issues all rolled into one story. Technically I think that’s all you need right?

And I did enjoy it. Zoheret was a good heroine. The right mix of strong and feminine at the same time. Light love interest without it overwhelming the story. Flawed, mistake making but also with some admirable traits, like loyalty and protectiveness and stubbornness. She and the other kids she lives with have been grown and grow up on a spaceship, carrying them away from Earth on a mission to populate the universe. Humans were great and intelligent and driven to colonization after all (well, one of those is true anyway) but no one really understands the Project. They have a sentient ship, the ability to grow people from donated DNA and suspended animation. And there’s a lot of discussion about how we treat the ill and disabled in our society, even what we define as “disabled”, as well as what it really means to be human. You know, things that generally interest me.

But still, all I can muster is alright. I’d probably read the second, if I came across it somewhere and no one asked me for money for it. It was that good after all.

Last movie I watched:

Where has Osama Been? Super interesting, if a little too warm and fuzzy. Funny though.

Last TV episode I watched:

Angel!!! And a baby!

A beautiful book about the horribleness and hope of humans (with pictures!)

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This graphic novel, with simple black and white pictures is the super complex story of the author, growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. As well as being a story about coming of age, cultural isolation, mental health and family, the thing that stuck with me the most was effect war can have, well past the physical trauma, to a place, a people and an individual, particularly on non-combatants.

The story follows Marjane from when she’s about 10 years old. She grows up in a liberal household, with parents and family who support the Revolution, only to see it mutate into religious extremism. As a child she longs for stories about martyrs, but later learns a different truth about dying for the cause when her beloved uncle is executed by the new government. When she’s 14 and Tehran is being bombed her parents send her to Vienna, to study but while there she struggles with her cultural heritage, puberty and crippling survivor’s guilt until she becomes so isolated, sick and desperate that she returns home. But when she gets back, she finds she doesn’t belong there either. Her friends and family have gone through years of war and her guilt about failing to make something of herself drives her deeper into depression, until she attempts suicide. But when she fails, Marjane starts to recover, attend school, fall in love, become politically active, eventually marry only to realize that she was never meant to belong to anyone else and starts her life again as a young woman and an artist.

It’s a sad story, despite it’s hopeful ending  (presumably it’s going well for the main character because the author looks happy in her picture on the cover). I think what upset and moved me most were the scenes of the children in the war. Marjane describes playing “torture” with her friends, where they’d try to force each other into giving up secrets through discomfort or pain. We talk about the ways children are hurt by war, often in terms of trauma inflicted, PTSD, displacement, loss and physical harm but this book made me wonder if maybe there is an in between space, for children who survive conflict without loosing a house or a loved one, but who forever carry reflections of human cruelty with them, even if it’s only a child’s game.

I also have a new appreciation for not living in a country where you can be arrested if you are out with your boyfriend who you have not yet married. That seems stressful.

Anyway, it really was a great read. Probably not great if you’re having a rough week, but still, beautiful story.

Last movie I watched:

The Empire Strike’s Back. MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU.

Although that sort of evolved into MAY THE WEEK OF THE 4TH BE WITH YOU which doesn’t have the same ring to it

Last TV episode I watched:

Game of Thrones. Season 3. Episode 1. SO EXCITED.