Category Archives: Reviews

Resisting Happiness – Chapter One, Week One: Resistance

A couple of years ago, our church gave out these free books. My daughter took one because the jacket was bright yellow and looked like an emoji.  She was greatly disappointed to find out it was not a book about emojis and had no pictures in it.  We still took a free copy home (because who says no to free?). I put it in my ever-growing “to be read” pile and there it sat, collecting dust. I just did not have time to pick up any book, let alone a free book that the Catholic Church suggested we read.

I mean, it does look like a weird emoji.

A few weeks turned to a few months and well, you know the cliche passage of time. I was cleaning for the past holiday season and saw it sitting in the pile of books I was going to relocate and figured, why not just do this. Why not see if the inside jacket cover would live up to its promises. The holidays are always a weird emotional roller coaster for me. Childhood PTSD? Perhaps. Rockwellian fantasies of a Currier & Ives scene? Maybe. Whatever the reason, I have a hard time mentally around December. Throw some family health crises into the mix and it was a season ripe for contemplating death, the meaning of life, and what I’m going to do with my last year in my 30s when I feel as though I have done nothing of consequence – you know, typical mid-life crisis stuff. Seeing this book on the stairs might have been construed as a sign by some and maybe I subconsciously took it as a sign too because I picked it up and started reading it.

Who knew this book would have homework?

I have committed to actively reading it. So, here I sit, having read the first chapter and starting my list of what I’ve resisted over the last week. I’m going to list it out day by day, because that way I can see what a lazy b I’ve been I have been resisting.

Saturday 1/5/19

  1. Waking up and getting up once I woke up.
  2. Getting dressed first then making breakfast.
  3. Getting the kitchen cleaned this morning.
  4. Getting laundry started.
  5. Cleaning my pile of clothing in my room.
  6. Making a better choice about the smoothie at lunch.
  7. Putting away the laundry in the living room.
  8. Taking out the recycling.
  9. Putting away the groceries.

Sunday 1/6/19

  1. Drinking my water
  2. Folding the laundry
  3. Cleaning the kitchen (again)
  4. Going to Church

Monday 1/7/19

  1. Making sure I packed my lunch with points friendly foods
  2. Making sure to take out something for dinner
  3. The laundry needed attention still…

The week continued and I saw a pattern emerge. I always knew I was a procrastinator. Having to write it down, I really had to face it head on. I put off things because I just sometimes don’t want to do it. It was not surprising but the list was a lot of the same and it let my procrastinating ways slap me in the face. Now that I see the pattern, this week, I’m going to try to not resist those things which I guess means I need to go fold some laundry right now.

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Kill and Tell…Tell What? How Bad the Book Was?

We have a bookcase at work in the break room.  One of those “take a book, leave a book” kind of deals.  Needless to say it’s impossible for me to resist taking a book when I see one that might remotely interest me.  As you know from reading my blog, dear reader, it doesn’t take much to interest me when it comes to books.  For that reason, I tend to sometimes pick a dud.  It’s bound to happen and for all I know, it could be another person’s most favorite book of all time.  Hey, who am I to judge –  I’m currently waiting for the next Cassandra Clare novel to finish out The Mortal Instrument’s series.

kill and tell

Sadly, I fear that this most recent selection was a dud.  I picked up Kill and Tell by Linda Howard thinking it would be  a simple conspiracy/murder/suspense book, the kind you read in a day and are simply entertained.  It definitely started off like that with Dexter Whitlaw being chased through the French Quarter of New Orleans.  The ominous murder of not only Dexter Whitlaw but also a second man, one whom Dexter knew and respected by unknown assailants made me read on.

Enter the total alpha male, ladies man, Southern gentleman, Marc, who just happens to be the detective assigned to the Whitlaw murder case.  Howard first presented him as very smooth operator which then led to Whitlaw’s family.  I should have known when Karen was presented that she was a stereotypical woman who didn’t really need a man because she wasn’t sure where she was heading in life and thought she was just fine without one.  I should have stopped reading there but I’m stubborn and I wanted to find out who stepped into the car after the murder.

When Marc and Karen finally meet, it really felt creepy.  Marc wanted to make her his next conquest.  I don’t really believe in love at first sight.  I think I believe in lust at first sight and this is what I was reading.  I did not like the whole mentality of manipulation that Marc took on while he was “comforting” Karen and I felt that there were times when I wanted to kick him in the shin for being so chauvinistic as he “played his cards right.” Not to mention, I almost threw up a little at the various trashy romance passages that I so was not expecting to be there when I picked up the book.

The two fall desperately in love after a night of wild abandon (and as one of the Goodreads reviewers called it “Monkey sex”) followed by Karen running away from this “perfect” man only to find out that she’s in danger.  It felt rushed and a little annoying because she got home and the way that the ominous “they” found her was  just so plain.  I wanted it to be much more mysterious and full of intrigue but as soon as one of the big baddies was introduced, you knew.

Some of the descriptions of the scenery were nice and she did a great job of explaining humidity and high temps.  The characters were a little flat and not as developed as I like, even in my “throw away” books.  The real kicker for me that really made me kind of annoyed with this book was the discovery that it was the first in a series.  A series about a character you only meet in the last two pages of the book.  When I heard it was a series, I thought it was a series about Marc and Karen but, no!  It’s a series about the son of a dead CIA operative.  Really?  Usually the first book of a series is supposed to introduce the main character.  Not just give him a glorified cameo in which he saves the main characters of the book.  I really had a hard time with this one.  However, it’s one more book toward my 2014 goal, which after a semester of grad school is WAY off course.  Another plus is that I can bring it back to the bookshelf at work and let someone else enjoy it.

On to finish the first book based off the tv show Castle…hopefully this one will be a little more mystery and a lot less heaving and bulging…

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Back to My Normal Pace

It feels so good to be back to my normal pace.  I read Night Chills by Dean Koontz yesterday.  Yes, in a 24 hour period, I read a book.  That is so much better compared to the laborious effort placed on my last selection!

night chills

Psychological Thrillers are wonderful.  There’s that slight possiblity that it could be real.  This book was first published back in the late 70s and knowing what we now know, the possibility that this exact scenario could be taking place, is slightly terrifying.

From the slighted scientist who is able to figure out how to be “the Key” to the sleepy mill town tucked away in the woods of Maine near the Canadian border, this book held all the elements of a page turner that made me want to just keep going until I found out if the experiment was successful or not.

The love plot in the book felt a little out of place, just for the sheer fact that there was more excitement in the key-lock story.  It was nice to see that the main character was able to open himself up, but there were times I didn’t feel that it was necessary.  After finishing it though, I do understand why it was introduced into the story.

There were a few scenes not for the faint of heart, however.  So if you are a reader who cannot stomach violence, then be prepared to skip a few pages or paragraphs in some cases.

This is kind of a thrown together review, but it’s due to the fact that I don’t want to give too much away because it was such a short book and a fast read.  Just know that you’ll be entertained!

For a quick summer read, it was perfect.  For my first book by Dean Koontz, it was perfect.  I may have to check out more of his work.  When I finish the ridiculously huge pile of books waiting to be read, that is!

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It Is Finished

I am FINALLY done with that book!!!!!!!!!

I skipped the criticisms and other essays in the back of this text...

I skipped the criticisms and other essays in the back of this text…

I feel liberated. 

happy dance

I feel overjoyed


I feel like I want to burn my own bra.

I finished it two days ago, but took some time to let it digest before I wrote this post.  I’m sorry. I understand that Austen’s works are revered as a socioeconomic and political glimpse at life during the Victorian era but seriously! They had NOTHING better to do?  It was all “who had this fortune,” “how much could they live off of,” “who was eligible for marriage.”  No real plot was to be found in the book just the main characters sitting around, going to dances, worrying about who came calling and when.  Even shows on Bravo have better plot lines.  I understand that at that time, there was nothing but status to really keep one in the right circles but it just got so old.  It was slammed in your face every other page, reminders that fortune and property were valued almost more than the individual.

Marianne was selfish, rude, materialistic, and a feckin drama queen.  Who (?!?!?!?!) makes themselves ill almost to the point of death over the THOUGHT  that someone MIGHT propose only to find out that you really weren’t dating at all and it was all in your head. How utterly ridiculous did I find her actions,  as much as I found the narrative which read just as this sentence does in horrible way…I almost wanted her to die just so I didn’t have to see her ridiculous actions continue on.

Then, there were the endless gossip circles.  Why didn’t any of these ladies just pick up a book.  Didn’t the gossip get old?  Didn’t they run out of things to gossip about?  Eventually all the ladies were married.  Did they move on to the next generation?  Maybe I have lived in a small town for too long and become jaded by the gossip that sometimes occurs in a small town, but this was just too much. So many things were fueled by the gossip.   Maybe that’s what Austen intended – to show how a giant game of English Countryside Telephone would potentially kill a young girl?

I seriously doubt that I, in a past life, lived during this era.  If I did, I hope I was a man.  They at least got to do more exciting things.

I know I have Pride and Prejudice in the pile.  I think I will put that one off for a little while longer, unless it has more of a plot and characters I can actually care about.  Now, I’m off to be scared by Mr. Koontz…


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Minions, Tortilla Hats, and Laughs

The Husband had to get his oil changed today so we figured since he takes it to Sears Auto Center (since it’s open on Saturdays and cheaper than Jiffy Lube), we knew we were going to have two hours or so to kill.  Even though the Daughter and I went to the movies yesterday, we went again today to see Despicable Me 2.

I was excited.  Minions remind me of penguins.  Penguins that talk.  Yellow penguins in overalls with a sense of humor.  Ok…so nothing like penguins but if penguins had souls, they would be embodied in the Minions.  I love the Minions. I don’t know why, but like the rest of the country, I am enamored with those little yellow oblong creatures that speak nonsense and laugh at fart jokes.


I didn’t know what to expect with Despicable Me 2.  Usually sequels to great movies are a let down, and kids movies especially fit into that category (Return of Jafar???), so I went in with low expectations.  Basically, I expected the Minions to have all the high points of the movie.

But luckily, I was surprised.  First, as a Real Housewives connoisseur, I had a chuckle when the housewife at Agnes’ birthday party looked eerily like Taylor from RHOBH.  Maybe it was just the mouth but there was one shot where I just laughed to myself and wondered if Taylor knew someone who worked there and had them put her in…

The one on the right is the one that reminded me of RHOBH

The one on the right is the one that reminded me of RHOBH – though the one on the left did too…in a trashy kind of way…

There were so many other great laughs: The french maid minion, El Macho riding a shark and tons of dynamite into a volcano, Agnes reciting her poem, Gru’s reaction to Beatrice discovering young love.  I really enjoyed it on so many levels.

I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t dropped the medium (2 liter) drink that cost an arm and a leg all over the Daughter, the Husband, and myself.  The movie had even started and not a single sip had been had of the drink.  Despite being soaked, the Daughter did not want to leave and cried because she thought we were going to leave.  So we stayed because we are cheap and didn’t want to have spent all that money for just two previews.

The jokes were pretty good and if you listen closely, there were quite a few one liners thrown in there for parents.  The Daughter laughed a lot and did get scared at one point but it was kind of intense for a small kid.  When the minions did their thing though, she forgot why she was even scared at all.


Kristen Wiig is my new favorite comedic actress, just for the record.  I love her as Lola on the New Looney Toons Show.  I loved Bridesmaids.  I loved her on SNL.  I loved her as Lucy, Gru’s new partner.  I wish she had a little more to do in the movie…she was pretty awesome.

So go, see Despicable Me 2 and laugh and be envious of the tortilla hat, brim full of tasty guacamole.

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Monsters University – Pass or Fail?

With the heat that was taking over the Northeast today, I needed something to do for part of the day that didn’t have us baking in the sun at the beach.  Being fair-skinned and of Irish and Polish ancestry means I don’t tan, I burn and then go back to glow in the dark white.  I fear that the daughter is the same.

The Husband had expressed no interest in seeing Monsters University so I figured, what the heck.  Let’s go check it out.


It opened up with a young Mike on an elementary school field trip to Monsters, Inc. to see how the factory collected screams and then used them for energy.  Poor Mike.  He was that kid that tried too hard.  He was smart but, had no friends.  After a stunt earns him the recognition of one of the big-shot scarers, Mike makes up his mind to get into Monster University and become a scarer.

Cue the opening credits and start the movie with the scene where Mike takes his first step on campus.  It reminded me of so many college flicks where the freshman walks the quad and tries to figure out which stereotypical club he or she fits into.  It was kind of funny knowing that it’s eerily true at some college campuses.  A lot of those parts, the Daughter just didn’t get but she still enjoyed it so that’s what counts.

Mike meets his roommate, Randall (yes the same Randall who tries to terrorize innocent Boo) and the two start out as good friends since both are Scaring majors. First day of class, they are both sitting in Scaring 101 and Sully makes his entrance.  He’s a legacy.  His father set a precedent and a lot is expected of him.  Sully doesn’t disappoint when he lets out an amazing roar that impresses the instructor and everyone else in the class.  Mike quickly sees that to achieve his dream, he has a lot of hard work ahead of him.

As the movie winds on, I found myself surprised at the message I kept picking up.  Mike had a dream.  It was an unlikely dream though, because he just wasn’t built for it.  He wasn’t scary enough to be a scarer, or so they kept telling him.  There was something just not quite there and there never would be.  At one point, Sully tells Mike that Mike may have memorized every scare theory in the book but there are just some things that can’t be taught.

This theme comes up a few more times and the events that transpire were a little shocking to me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve come to believe Disney is the home of “Good guys who try hard always win” or if it’s just I expected there to be some kind of positive message for the kids.

In the end, yes, the kids can see that with hard work you can get close to your dream but not quite there.  Sully got his dream.  Did Mike though?  Not really.

monsters inc magazine

I felt like they were trying to tell kids “Yeah, you’re going to try hard to achieve your biggest dream, but if you don’t fit that mold, don’t expect to achieve it.”  Ok, so Mike does something no monster had ever done before but it didn’t allow him to get to be a scarer, in fact, it forced him to almost give up on his dream altogether.  We all know that from watching Monsters, Inc.  Mike is a technician.  He’s a paper pusher.  He’s happy.  In the prequel, however, he is constantly reminded that he doesn’t fit the mold.

I wondered what the Daughter got out of it, because let’s face it, kids pick up some pretty wild things from movies.  She said she picked up the part where they broke into Monsters, Inc and didn’t want to get caught and go to jail.  “That was pretty funny, Mommy.”  Great, at least she knows that going to jail is bad.

She picked up on the bully fraternities and sororities that picked on Mike and his brothers.  She thought they weren’t very nice.  She also thought that the dean of the Scare College at Monsters University was scary and not nice.  I suppose that I shouldn’t worry too much that she didn’t say anything about accepting mediocrity, but the subconscious works in a funny way.

I know I’m probably reading too much into a Pixar movie, but it just struck me as funny that they kept hitting that point of you may not be cut out for something but that doesn’t mean you can’t find another thing that’s close to it and do that instead.  This is America, dammit! I want to keep believing in the American Dream! I want to believe that no matter what I look like, no matter where I come from, no matter what my name is, I can be whatever the hell I want to be as long as I work hard and am honest about my work!  To me, that’s a message I want the Daughter to learn, especially because she has been saying for the past year that she wants to be a doctor like her heart doctor.  I want to believe that if she works hard enough, she will be reviewing Echos and talking with her patients at some point in her life.  I don’t want anyone to tell her she’s just not scary enough to be a Scarer.


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Book Review: The City of Bones

I like YA fiction.  I love it.  I really do enjoy it.  For some reason, they capture this amazing fantasy world that is just pure entertainment.  I have yet to find a YA series that I didn’t really like.   Don’t judge.

Most recently, I have discovered the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  By discovered, I really mean I have devoured it.  I read all five books in a matter of five days.  I will start (big surprise) with the first book.

city of bones

Clarissa Fray is a normal teenager living in New York.  Along with her best friend, Simon, who like many American teenagers, is in a band with an ever changing name, Clary lives a typical, normal, and average life.  They have been best friends since childhood and it is no surprise that they are together on the night when Clary’s life changes forever.

In a seedy New York club called Pandemonium, Clary sees a beautiful group of teenagers attack a person and discovers a whole new part of the world in which she lives.

All of our fables are true.  Vampires, Werewolves, Fair Folk, Warlocks, Angels, and Demons.  And then there are Shadowhunters.  Jace Wayland is the epitome of a Shadowhunter – arrogant, deadly, and in Clary’s eyes, electric.

Something, however, is not quite right and after Clary’s mother is abducted and Clary herself is attacked by a demon, she knows that there is something deeper going on in the city that she thought she knew.  Her life is turned upside down as she finds truths in the Institute, a Shadowhunter embassy of sorts.

The plot is somewhat predictable but overall, it was ridiculously entertaining.  As Clary discovers herself and the Institute, I found myself enjoying the ride, discovering the world with her.  I could easily slip into her shoes and understand how she felt as everything was turned upside down.

Clare’s writing style is fantastic.  It moves at a very good pace with very few slow spots (which can sometimes happen with YA) and I found myself more than willing to pick up the second book…and the third, fourth, and fifth…

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I Will Burn for Reading This

Once upon a time, I was in Borders, or as I used to refer to the now defunct bookselling chain, heaven on Earth. I mean it had books, music, movies, AND a coffee shop. As long as new releases kept coming in, I could easily picture myself spending all of eternity in that store. Sadly, I do not think I will ever know if heaven is a giant Borders in the sky. At least not after reading this book that I saw upon the shelf of Borders. The book I recently (and finally) purchased when it came up as a Kindle daily deal.


As a Catholic, I grew up going to church, attending CCD, learning my prayers, beatitudes, commandments, and all the other stuff that goes along with it. I even spent three years at a Catholic college before needing a break to figure out life. I must admit, I love my faith and I do hold to my beliefs. That being said, I can also appreciate a provocative book that may or may not be pure blasphemy.  I’m leaning more toward blasphemy though in this particular case.

I say this because the life of Christ fascinates me. In college, I took a course called “Christ the Man, Christ the Word” which studied both the Biblical Jesus and the Jesus who was on the books in Rome’s great census. It was an amazing course because it looked beyond what I had known and had historical documentation to go along with this man that we all know (or at least know of).

Fast forward to that day in Borders where I found Lamb. It raised a question, what happened to Jesus before he started his works? I always wondered how it went for him. He was a person so that means he had to have been a teenager. Did he ever get into trouble? Did he ever go on a trip with his friends? So many years of his life are unaccounted for. Christopher Moore must have wondered too but, I think his imagination is much more creative than mine.


In his book we meet Biff, Joshua’s best friend (Jesus is the Greek name so in the book they refer to Him as Joshua). Biff and Josh grew up living next door to each other, Brian of Monty Python fame must have lived on the other side. From the start of their friendship, Biff knew that there was something different about Joshua when he would bring dead lizards back to life by putting them in his mouth.

As they grew up, the Romans became more prevalent in their lives and they soon realized, with a few visits from one of the angles, that Joshua needed to figure out how to be the messiah. Enter the wise men, the Magi, and a life changing trip that will actually prove to be more insightful than I originally expected.

Despite the biting satire, Biff’s often crude comments, and the treatment of the Magdalene, I could see something deeper in this book (whether Moore intended that or not, I am not completely sure) that spoke to the universality of Christ’s true message of love, tolerance, and forgiveness.

So many things in this book made me say, “yep, my spot will be under the burning lava waterfall for all eternity,” but then a conversation or a sentence would make me say, “maybe that is what that meant.”

Again, if you are someone who is deeply religious and does not believe that there should be any speculation about our Lord on any level, steer clear of this book. However, if you are strong enough in your faith and can handle a light-hearted, sometimes comical speculation of Christ the man, who had the same struggles we do, then give this book a try. I mean if you already saw Jesus Christ Superstar, you’re already in trouble, why not go all out. After all isn’t that why we have confession? Just kidding…

jesus christ superstar

Carl Anderson, Ted Neeley, and Yvonne Elliman in 1973’s Jesus Christ Superstar

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An Idiot Abroad – Missing the Marco Polo

I love Karl Pilkington.

I love watching him get tortured as he is sent on all-expense paid trips around the world, albeit in very sub-standard accommodations and modes of transportation.  His insights and moments of clarity are truly amazing and I cannot count the number of times I have cried laughing at what he has to say.  In short, Ricky Gervais is a genius for creating “An Idiot Abroad.”

Karl at the Pyramids

Season one saw him visit some of the seven wonders of the world – the Great Wall of China (which he doesn’t believe is really that great), the Taj Mahal (which, according to our round-headed guide, was built out of guilt), and other wonderful and exotic locations.  Almost everywhere he went, he was miserable.  The normal person would enjoy the experience and relish the mere fact of being in the presence of these wonders.  Not Karl.


The second season sent Karl on a Bucket List trip.  The thing is, it’s not his bucket list.  He chooses items off of a list that would be considered a normal person’s bucket list.  Once again, Karl does not disappoint.  The Trans-Siberian Express might be one of the best episodes of that season simply for the fact that he allows himself to get buried alive and said it was the best part of the trip so far. On Route 66, he takes part in a cuddle party – another priceless moment.  Never in my life have I laughed so hard.

Karl on the Trans-Siberian Express with a man who is a human magnet.

Karl on the Trans-Siberian Express with a man who is a human magnet.

When the third season was announced, I had high hopes that Karl would find himself in more odd situations in gorgeous locations throughout the world.   Though, after the first two episodes of this apparently shortened season, I am not feeling the same way about this season.

First, Karl is no longer alone.  He is accompanied by Warwick Davis (aka Willow or Professor Flitwick).  While I enjoy the fact that Karl now has someone else with him enjoying the world, I feel like some of the magic is taken away.  When Karl was alone on the other seasons, he had no one else to commiserate with.  Now, he spent a his time complaining more about his traveling companion.  Also, it wasn’t fair that Warwick was treated like a star when it came to his accommodations.  He should have had the same as Karl.  That would have been more funny.

At an Indian circus - Karl and Warwick

At an Indian circus – Karl and Warwick

Second, the season was waaaaay too short.  Seriously – only four episodes and then a commentary?  They hardly went anywhere!  Karl didn’t get nearly as ragged as he did on the previous two seasons which meant he did not get jaded and tired of traveling to have the hilarious insights on his voyage.

Third, they didn’t really do anything that exotic.   I mean in China, eating the various testicles was nothing after watching a few episodes of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.   Ok, the spider twins – they were kind of odd, but this is coming from someone who has to look away when they show contortionists because I get a little queasy when I see that.

If you are curious, watch it but don’t expect it to be as good as the first two seasons.  Sadly, Marco Polo probably had funnier observations on this trip route.  If you really want to laugh, stick to the first two seasons (season two is my favorite)!

I still love Karl though.

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The Graveyard Book – A Tale of Life

So my goal is to read 100 books in 2013.  While I have three other books currently going, I finally finished the first one.  According to the counter, I’m seven books behind.  I think I can do this.  Book number 2 is almost done!

This morning I finished Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

The graveyard book

“There was a hand in the dark and it held a knife.”  So begins the tale of Nobody Owens, a young baby boy who narrowly escapes murder.  The rest of his family is not so fortunate and little Nobody wanders into the graveyard where is he is happily protected by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a pair of childless ghosts who live in the graveyard near the scene of the murders.

After being granted the protection of the graveyard, Nobody, or Bod as he is called, learns the ways of the graveyard.  He learns how the ghosts move and learns of the darker things that lurk in the graveyard.   Growing up under the watchful eye of Silas, his guardian, Bod learns that outside the graveyard, there are still things lurking and waiting to end his life.

Gaiman’s hero must come of age in a world that is unlike any other child, having parents that no one else can see, and never leaving the security of the graveyard. However, Bod is able to find love and friendship in many places – a witch in the Potter’s field, a young (living) girl who came to play in the graveyard, and even in the mysterious Sleer who guard the treasures for their master’s return.

With a rather obvious nod to Kipling’s The Jungle Book, this story is endearing and adventurous as young Bod discovers what it means to be human and what it truly means to be alive.  At one point, Bod finds himself alone in the graveyard, and odd thing for Bod because he has always had someone in the graveyard to talk to.  With no one there to watch him, Bod wanders outside the gate down to the Old Town.

"Bod was a quiet child with sober grey eyes and a mop of tousled, mouse-colored hair.  He was, for the most part, obedient."  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“Bod was a quiet child with sober grey eyes and a mop of tousled, mouse-colored hair. He was, for the most part, obedient.The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“Bod had never walked anywhere as a sightseer before. He had forgotten the prohibitions on leaving the graveyard, forgotten that tonight in the graveyard on the hill the dead were no longer in their places; all that he thought of was the Old Town , and he trotted through it down to the municipal gardens in front of the Old Town Hall (which was now a museum and a tourist information center, the town hall itself having moved into much more imposing, if newer and duller, offices halfway across the city)…Bod listened to the music, entranced.  There were people trickling into the square, in ones and twos, in familiars or alone.  He had never seen so many living people at one time.  There must have been hundreds of them, all of them breathing, each of them as alive as he was, each with a white flower.”

Gaiman’s style is wonderful for setting the scene with wonderfully vivid descriptions including the smallest of details that, in real life, we as people would notice but so often are not included in books.  I once read somewhere that someone (I honestly forget where or who) once said how much they love when writers write things like colds into their stories because how often do you hear about a character sneezing or taking a dose of Tylenol.  These are the details that Gaiman works in effortlessly that gives the reader an amazing sense of setting and character.  The narrator provides little asides that help the reader get a true sense of the town, the modern life that has taken over the Old Town and how it has transformed the town from what Bod has learned about from the citizens of the graveyard. It is new and exciting to him and the rest of the evening in the Old Town plays out in a way Bod could only dream of.

While at times I wish there had been more adventures or more mischief for Bod to get into with the Ghosts, I had to remind myself that this novel was geared toward a slightly younger crowd.  I must admit that it didn’t bother me.  It was still a fantastic tale where ghosts, ghouls, the undead, werewolves, and jacks-of-all-trades come together and help shape Nobody.

If you are looking for a quick read and one that is going to leave you feeling uplifted in a macabre kind of way, then I would recommend this book.  If you are going to buy it in paperback, I would recommend the version I linked to above because at the end, there are some great extras including an interview with Gaiman about the book which was a great little treat for those of us who love to hear the author talk about the hows and whys of a book.

Also, a special treat for those who are Toriphiles, there is the nod to her (the two have been friends for quite some time and I even was at a concert that Neil was at so Tori sang “Tear in Your Hand” and waved to Neil.  I love when things like that happen at concerts!) at the end where he does quote “Graveyard.”  Here’s a great live version of it (followed by Snow Cherries From France) and after reading the book,  it was a beautiful tie in!

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