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Bout of Books 10 Goals

Hi Everyone,

As promised, here are my goals for this years Bout of Books Read-a-Thon!

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This year, time has been a little crunched and I’ve not been able to read near as much as I would like. However, I’m going to attempted to read each day – mainly in the evenings – even though I’m leaving for a four-day weekend vacation on Thursday. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to read even more sitting under my favorite oak tree in Gettysburg?

My general yearly goal, each year, is to read one book a week, or 52 books per year. However, my Goodreads shelf is presently reminding me that I’m behind this year…three books behind. Therefore, I would like to read five books during the Bout of Books 10 Read-a-Thon. This will catch me up, and even get me a little ahead.

Here are some of the books I might choose to read:

1. Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay

2. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

4. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

5. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

6. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

7. Fangirl by Rainbow Powell

8. The Secret Crown by Chris Kuzneski

9. Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

10. Of Grave Concern by Max McCoy

11. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

12. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

Obviously, I will not get to all of these books. If I do, it’ll be a miracle, but I do have some long amounts of time that I can devote to reading this week.

I will update you each day with books that I have read and/or started.

Cheers!

 

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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I’m not sure what to think or say about Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.  The story concept is ingenious.  Gaiman constructs an entire world called London Below for the people of London who have fallen through the cracks.  These people no longer exist in the real London – London Above.

The plot centers around a rather boring man, Richard Mayhew, whose life in London Above is jarringly interrupted when he finds an injured girl named Door lying in the street.  After taking her and letting her heal, his life slips through his fingers and he must follow her into London Below in order to set out on a quest that will show him his true nature and help him get his real life back. The pair must face a fallen angel, a pair of sadistic murderers, and a massive beast, along with multiple other dangers on their journey.

Although the plot is engrossing and the characters vivid and realistic, my impression of this book was moderate.  Nothing really resonated with me.

On Neil Gaiman’s Writing Style and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

*This was supposed to be a review of Neverwhere, which I finished reading last week, but I started writing about The Ocean at the End of the Lane and couldn’t stop, so I’ve retitled this post and it is now about another Neil Gaiman book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Since I discovered Neil Gaiman’s works with the release of his most recent book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I’ve been so intrigued by his writing style that I keep buying and reading his books.  When I first finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I asked myself, “What was the point of that?”  But there was this feeling inside me that said, “There’s so much you don’t understand.”  After thinking for several days about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I discovered that it wasn’t one of those books that you close and walk away from, never to puzzle about again.  That’s because most books don’t puzzle me; The Ocean at the End of the Lane did.

The little boy’s childhood experience was so different from my own that it was hard for me to connect to him as a character.  I found myself calling him a “drama queen” and a “pansy” throughout the story, but I couldn’t put the book down.  Something kept me attached.  I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane back in June or July.  I still can’t figure out why I liked it, even just that little bit to keep me reading.

The book has definitely left its mark on me, but I don’t feel as if it had anything to do with the plot, or the characters.  I think what intrigues me the most was Gaiman’s writing style.  He has this unique way of describing the absolutely ordinary.  I wouldn’t call it beautiful, or vivid.  It’s frank and relaxing.  It strips the color from the story, and at the same time, breathes color into it.  I say that Gaiman HAS this writing style because I’ve discovered that it is not exclusive to The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  I read The Graveyard Book and came out with the same result.  Again, Neverwhere contains the same type of language, the same style.

It fascinates me.  I wouldn’t say that I love, or even like, Gaiman’s style.  In fact, his style irks me sometimes.  I want it to be more melodic rather than harmonic.  I want it to be more lyrical and less honest.  On some pages, the language tortures me, while on others, it soothes me.  I think that’s why I keep reading his books.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Although I enjoy reading fantasy, in fact, it’s my favorite genre, I haven’t read much of Neil Gaiman. In all honesty, I’d never heard of him until a few years ago while in college. After a friend’s review of American Gods left me non-plussed, I decided to set him at the bottom of my to-read list and move on.

Over the summer, I decided to write a fantasy and so I also decided I needed to read some of the top names in fantasy both today and in the past. As Gaiman was set to release a new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I decided to try him out and pre-ordered the book on my Kindle. I liked it, but it left me with this hole. I needed more. The Ocean at the End of the Lane wasn’t a book to pick up, put down, and then let it cover dust. It was one of those books that needed to be explored. And the more I explored it, the more and more I got it.

But enough about The Ocean at the End… This review is about another Neil Gaiman work: The Graveyard Book.

After reading The Graveyard Book, I realized that there are two things Gaiman does extraordinarily well. He can write the child’s coming-of-age experience in many different situations from any different perspectives and they are phenomenal, and he does an amazing job at leaving the reader guessing the meaning. Because the meaning changes from day to day, hour to hour, lifetime to lifetime. And I think that’s also the reason that explains how he writes the coming-of-age novel so well.

The Graveyard Book was interesting, especially in the beginning, but I felt my mind wandering in the middle and I spent a couple days looking at it out of the corner of my eye and feeling guilty that I just couldn’t get into it. Once through the 200s, the plot picked up nicely once more. In the middle, it was if the two stories that were supposed to really be one story didn’t quite match up. But it came together nicely in the end.

*Spoiler* The most significant thing, to me, is the connection between the excerpt at the beginning of the book from chapter two and the near end of the book. In the excerpt, a little girl, Scarlett, the only human friend the human graveyard-dweller, Bod, has, says, “You shouldn’t leave me.” After Bod saves her and avenges his family’s murder, she’s the one that does the leaving. Bod needs her to have something human to hold on to, just like she needed something warm to keep her safe when they were exploring the Sleer’s cave in chapter two. Bod protected her, kept her safe, but she doesn’t like the means that lead to the end and so she leaves and forgets him forever.

So sad.

But it’s a lesson, and I think it’s a different lesson for everyone, depending on your own experiences.

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