Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sweet Rains (2010): Second Nature(1985) & Lessons Learned (1986) by Nora Roberts

I should look at these more carefully before I buy them. Second Nature I had read a while ago, looks like before I started this blog, but I didn't recognize until almost the end - when we were getting near the surprise I knew what was going to happen, and not because I am good at second guessing plots, but because I had read or heard this before. And Lessons Learned I listened to just a couple of months ago. Oh well. Second nature was about a reporter, who is intrigued by a reclusive horror fiction writer. She finds out he will be at a small writers conference and when they first meet, they do not disclose to each other who they are. Instant attraction. But again, Roberts just tells a good story. I didn't even spend too much time saying to one or the other characters - get on with it stupid, she/he loves you. I am also sensitive to the fact that two people in love who live in very different lifestyles have to make some major changes to be together. I always check the dates, as this was before you could find out everything about somebody on the Internet, these two writers used typewriters, and no cell phones. Wonder if this will seem quaint to the millenials.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002), graphic novel (2008)

One more eerie tale by Gaiman, which I found in two places in our library - the other copy was a graphic novel form of this story illustrated by P. Craig Russell. I took both out and read one chapter in this book, then reread it in the graphic novel format. Very close. About midway I decided to stop reading the normal book and just go with the visual - it was faster. I realize I have never been into horror and scary tales. Never a Steven King fan. But I liked the Graveyard Book. I really liked hearing Neil Gaiman accept an award, which is why I decided to read some more of his books, but they are not all my type. Interestingly enough, I just reread a Nora Roberts book about a horror fiction writer. She addresses the question - what are horror writers like? Turns out they can be very normal family men.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman (2009)

This is a wonderful prayer for a still unborn daughter with beautiful illustrations by Charles Vess. He first asked the fates to be kind, 
"Keep her from spindles and sleeps at 16, 
Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right,
Free from unkindness and fear
Her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep,
Let her grow like a week in the sun."

What a great prayer to a child!

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman (2003)

Illustrated by Dave McKean. Another great kids book by Gaiman. He definitely gets kids and has a great imagination. Lucy seems to be hearing wolves in the walls, though no one else believes her. She has her puppet pig, after the pig puppet owned by the illustrator's son. Just enjoy. A bit like Imogene and her antlers (by David Small).

The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman (2008)

Grimly illustrated by Gris Grimly (his name had to influence his artistic style). Two brave kids and their gazelle travel mostly by boat through a dangerous world of trolls, monsters, and other nasty creatures. Seems like many authors are drawn to create an alphabet book, but this one is definitely different. May not be the best way to learn one's alphabet. I liked "C is the way that we find and we look; ... G is for Good as in hero, and morning; ... L is like 'heaven, their last destination; ... U are the reader who shivers with dread;..."

The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman (2001)

Just watched a video clip of Neil Gaiman accepting the Carnegie medal for his Graveyard Book, which I have read, So I thought I would take a look at some of his other books, starting with picture books. This has his wonderful sense of humor and attention to detail. I liked that in his video he had started the Graveyard Book 25 years ago, while watching his todler ride around a graveyard on his tricycle. But he didn't complete the book then, because he didn't have enough experience as a parent. You can see he has plenty of experience as a parent in this book, where a boy swaps his newspaper reading dad for two goldfish. When his mom makes him get back his dad, we get to see many childhoods. Great illustrations by Dave McKean. Wonder who Queen of Malanesia is? Saw her mentioned in one of the other books too.

Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (2010)

Wonderful final volume of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salender (she calls him Mikael f@#%ing Blomkvist), two of my favorite book characters ever,

The Collectors by David Baldacci (2006)

Had to reread this one after listening to Camel Club. My previous post (can't remember how to get to the individual post URL). Even though it is less than 3 years since I first read this, I had forgotten a lot of details. Enjoyed it again, especially as I know the characters better. Looks like Annabelle's story gets completed in the next book. May need to reread that too.

Camel Club by David Baldacci (2005)

I recently realized I hadn't read the first of the Baldacci Camel Club books, so I picked this up and was not disappointed. This is where we are introduced to those four great characters - Oliver Stone (not his real name, old CIA operative that has gone into hiding by living as a caretaker of a graveyard in the DC area, but who watches over the government by having an official protest tent near the White House), Caleb (works in the Library of Congress rare book room - love him for obvious reasons), Milton (computer whiz with Tourette syndrome and a girlfriend, neither of which is mentioned in later books), and Reuben (the big strong guy.) Secret Service agent Alex Ford also becomes an honorary member and appears in later books. This is a story of terrorism and major governmental corruption. Some people just believe they are above the law. (This parallels nicely with the Stieg Larrson book I listened to next.)  The Camel Club meets regularily to discuss possible conspiracies, and during one of their meetings on Theodore Roosevelt Island (I've actually been there) they witness a murder.

This was a definitely post 9-11 book, trying to understand the Muslim and terrorist mentality. There were some good passages on why some Muslims felt so desperate, why they were willing to sacrifice their lives. I especially like the female nanny and conversations with her inane employer. The event orchestrated by the conspiracy was very surprising - Baldacci sure knows how to spin a tale. I also found it funny, when they needed to send the Secret Service on a trivial task, they were sent to guard the Latvian delegation.