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Book Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Adult books but not erotica. Supposed to be ages 18 and over but I’ve known mature teens to be fine with adult books. Adult books have mature situations, maybe non-graphic sex, and are not meant for young kids.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaimantriggerwarning
Published: February 3rd 2015 by William Morrow & Company
Format: Paper Book
Length: 354 pages
Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Poetry
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Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion.

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.

I’m not ashamed to admit that Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. Pretty much everything I read from him is gold and so incredibly wonderful. So it pains me to say that I really didn’t like Trigger Warning. I’ve read other short story collections from Gaiman before and loved them, M is for Magic was probably the first thing I ever read from him, but Trigger Warning just wasn’t up to snuff in my opinion.

Short stories take a special talent to write because you have to create a complete tale in a smaller than usual time frame. I know that Gaiman is the master of the unusual and nonsensical but most of the stories in Trigger Warning fell flat for me because they were just too confusing or felt unfinished. ‘The Lunar Labyrinth’ was the worst offender in this regard. There are several pieces of fanfiction that felt especially out of place here. I’m almost certain that I’ve read the Sherlock Holmes piece somewhere before and, unless you’re an actual fan, the Dr. Who story was not particularly interesting and completely out of place with the rest of the tales. There is even a short story of one of Gaiman’s own novels and while ‘Black Dog’ is the type of eerie and dark story I was expecting out of this collection, I feel it would have been better served without the American Gods character. Also, I had to Google ‘Thin White Duke’ to discover Gaiman was talking about David Bowie. There is a big generational gap on that reference.

My favorite stories from the collection were probably ‘Orange’ for its unique format, ‘Click-Clack the Rattlebag’ for being a proper little creepy horror story, and ‘Black Dog’ for its supernatural angle, even if small details from the story escaped me because I haven’t actually read American Gods. Some of the stories were creepy but I wasn’t really enthused with most of them. Trigger Warning came across as simply ‘meh’ for me and didn’t really spark the way so many of Neil Gaiman’s other books have done. It pains me to have to give less than a stellar review for one of Gaiman’s books but this one just didn’t resonate for me and the stories don’t live up to the book’s title.

P.S. There is a story called The Sleeper and the Spindle included in the collection that is, at least I think, part but not all of Gaiman’s Snow White and Sleeping Beauty mashup. I still plan to order the illustrated book soon. So, I’ll edit this if it turns out Trigger Warnings actually has the complete short story. (Although, I hope not. The Sleeper and the Spindle that shows up in Trigger Warning kind of trails off into nothing and leaved so much potential untapped.)

Thank you for reading!

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Gaiman Surprise Pack Giveaway

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Hello, my lovelies. It’s time for another giveaway! I told you there would be a few. So, for this giveaway you can win a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and a selection of his other books that I’m not going to tell you about. [evil laughter] I bought all my favorites for this prize pack, so there are a couple books that the winner will get. Plus some other little tidbits thrown in there for fun.

So, for this giveaway you can win one Gaiman Surprise Pack.

The Rules
1) Giveaway is for US residences only.
2) Contest is open from July 14th to July 20th. So, the whole week of the celebration.
3) You may enter once.
4) There is no requirement to enter. However, extra entries for Twitter posts, following through Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin’, Linky Followers, or other subscriptions will get you extra entries.
5) There is one prize and one winner.
6) Entries must be made through the form to be valid. Entries left in the comments section will not count.
7) Winner must have valid email address. Failure to respond within 72 hours (3 days) will result in a new winner being chosen.
8) I reserve the right to somehow mess this up and/or do something stupid. Possibly both.

This giveaway is over.

Thank you for reading!

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Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Adult books but not erotica. Supposed to be ages 18 and over but I’ve known mature teens to be fine with adult books. Adult books have mature situations, maybe non-graphic sex, and are not meant for young kids.

oceanattheendThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Published June 18th 2013 by William Morrow Books
Format: Paper Books
Length: 181 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism
Goodreads | Amazon

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.

I can safely say that Neil Gaiman is my favorite living author. His writing is fantastic. His novels always have a wonderful turn of phrase and wit about them and are always somehow deeply magical. Gaiman’s novels are set in this world but it’s this world only if you kind of step a little to the left and squint. Because you can only see magic and the fantastical if you go a little out of focus. So, needless to say, I was very excited when news of a new book from him came out. (And completely bummed that his US signing tour wasn’t coming anywhere near me. Dang it.)

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when I picked up The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s tiny. At only 178 pages long I was dubious of the book. There was no way a proper story could be told in such a small book, let alone one of Gaiman’s artful and whimsical creations. I was proven wrong. While The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not like most of Gaiman’s other books, it is still a complete story with excellent setting and characters. Gaiman’s greatest skill, I think, is in the creation of his characters. He writes children very well. He writes odd and weird very well. The Hempstock ladies are an example of that. Their oddness is so subtle that you’re not even sure you’re seeing it.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not the type of story I am used to seeing from Gaiman. This story is small and personal but the more I read the more the book became, not bigger, but denser. It had weight and is undeniably a story for adults and older teens. Gaiman has created something strange and peculiar and lovely here. It is childhood and how a child experiences and deals with several situations. (The loss of family wealth, his Father’s cheating and abuse, the childhood curse of being ‘different’ from other children.) He is a child and doesn’t understand but he has to deal with it just the same. To a seven year old little boy, magic is real and an eleven year old girl is powerful and wise. I was utterly fascinated.

Could a younger person read this? Well, yes. The story is exciting and scary fun. I’d have reservations about a kid reading this because of the scene where the main character’s Father tries to kill him (let’s not mince words here, the Father was trying to drown him no matter how our young narrator sees it). There is also one, tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sexual moment. But I also think that a young teen might not understand some of the underlying meaning. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a child’s world and how that world is so different from an adult’s but at the same time it has this deeper tragedy and creepiness that can make a reader uncomfortable. I think that is where the true greatness of this book comes from, along with being a really great story on the surface, and if you can’t understand that then you kind of lose something.

At the end of reading a Gaiman book I always feel this sense of nostalgia and longing for the world he created and the characters I’ve been introduced to. I miss them because it was a world we used to live in, long ago, when we ourselves were children and before we made that horrible decision to grow up. It’s part of the reason why I adore his books so much. My one gripe is that this small book costs $26. I’m sure the fancy paper edging was worth that much. (That was sarcasm.) The Ocean at the End of the Lane joins the host of other Neil Gaiman books that are my favorite.

Thank you for reading!

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Neil Gaiman in the US for signing tour.

Neil Gaiman is in the beginning stages of his American signing tour for his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I am having FEELINGS because the closest location he’s going to appear at is in Chicago, Illinois and is already sold out. I may cry. Even if I could muster up the courage to get to Chicago, there are no more tickets. My soul weeps, I’m not lying.

gaimansigning

If you are super lucky and one of the guest appearance locations is nearby and doesn’t already have the dreaded SOLD OUT next to it, well, I envy you. Gaiman is my favorite author and he’s rarely in the United States anymore. You can find the other dates and locations for his US signing tour here. [goes off to sob in the corner and lament her life choices]

Oh, and Shelf Awareness is running a popular giveaway of 10 signed copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Over 10,000 people have already entered. Go here and get your entry in. At least 10 people will get lucky.

Thank you for reading!

Author Feature: Neil Gaiman

favortieauthorslogoAs readers, we have our favorite authors. Some of them we go back to again and again and get incredibly excited when news of a new book by those authors reaches us. Whether is a set of characters we adore, a type of writing style we like, or merely a genre the author writes in that we enjoy, we all have our reasons for liking our favorite authors. This post will feature one of my favorite authors, what I like about the, and a couple book I would suggest to other readers.

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Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is an author of both short fiction stories and longer fiction novels and I really enjoy both from him. His short stories anthology M is for Magic is one of my favorite books that I have on audio. Gaiman writes fantasy and sci-fi and his stories are always amazing and very original. He has a way of storytelling that I just adore. People have called his work fairy tales for adults and his writing style has this smooth, quirky, and witty turn of phrase that is sometimes hilarious and sometimes emotional wrecking. It’s a way of expressing emotions and thoughts that is incredibly entertaining and inventive. There is always something surprising about his stories and his books are quite an adventure. Gaiman’s works also have a disturbing undertone that is so subtle you are not quite sure why you are creeped out while reading. He’s a master writer and storyteller.

Favorite Book: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book came out in 2008 and is one of those rare books that I loved so much I bought my own copy back when I was even more broke than I am now. It’s not one I’ve reviewed on this blog (It’s been years since I’ve read it and I’d need to do a reread to do justice to a review.) but I’d say it’s the book I’ve suggest for a person new to Neil Gaiman. Several of his books have been turned into movies. Coraline (book 2006 and movie 2009) is one that became a movie. The book and movie were both great. Stardust (book 2006 and movie 2007) is another. In my opinion, the book was better than the movie but both are worth checking out. MirrorMash (book 2005 and movie 2005) is a lesser known work. I’ve seen the movie but not read the book but the movie was fantastic. They are a bit hard to find but if you can get them his The Sandman graphic novels are amazing. Gaiman is a man of many talents.

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graveyard-bookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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…

My favorite quote by Neil Gaiman:

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”

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