Graphic Novel Book Review: The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman is a graphic novel series I keep hearing about, so I decided it was time to at least attempt to read it. We all know I’m not the biggest fan of graphic novels.

SANDMAN

Synopsis from GoodReads

In Preludes and Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman weaves the story of a man interested in capturing the physical manifestation of Death but who instead captures the King of Dreams.

Summary from Such a Book Nerd

Beginning in 1916 with a ceremony attempting to capture Death, Sandman kicks off big.   The ceremony goes wrong, and instead The Sandman – a strange figure – is brought to earth/reality.  From that moment on, people fall into the sleeping sickness, and don’t awaken for decades.  Sandman is kept in a  glass bubble until 1988, when his original captors are old men.  Finally freed, he’s out for revenge on those who kept him locked up all those years.  Arriving home, he sees the remains of his crumbled kingdom – which, in his absence, has fallen apart.

He learns from the three graces that he must collect three items to regain his power – a bag of sand, a helmet, and a ruby.

What I enjoyed about this graphic novel that it had some short stories, a few longer pieces of the arch for the season (the collecting of the three items), as well as, laid the ground work for the larger story about the sandman. I thought the stories were well written and that the art added to the feel of the story in a way that made sense and made the story telling more interesting.

Some of the art work was very heavy and dark. And I did find it interesting that the silhouette of the sandman looked kind of like Gaiman. But of all ways to consume a horror story, the graphic novel may be my newest favorite. I’m not a huge horror fan (dare I tell you, but Stephen Kings Salem Lot puts me to sleep without fail as it is overly descriptive?) But I did find the horror stories compelling in this format.

Perhaps my favorite  character though was Death. She was quite memorable, and one of the reasons that I will probably continue reading the graphic novels. 

sandmandeath

You can read another review here on Such a Book Nerd or on Some Reading.

Life is a Video Game, I Can Prove it

Recently, I had a visitor, my best friend came west for a few days. We went antiquing, to the aquarium, and spent a day at the Dallas Museum of Art. On our way to the museum I pulled up the latest app on my phone, Waze. A community sourcing gps map provider. As people are driving down the road they can input road hazards warning other Wazers of upcoming traffic delays which in turn can be useful in rerouting and avoiding traffic jams. As we by-passed cars on the shoulder, construction, and made our way through the ever present road obstacle, I input hazards and earned points. Upping my Wazer toward the next level, where I will get a shield. I really want that shield!

Once we got to the DMA, which is wonderfully free, we were somewhat bombarded by staff to sign up in their points system. At each entry way into a new gallery there was a code posted, after sending the code as a text message we would get points on our account. These points could be used to get a ticket into one of the two exhibits that cost money, or used as a discount at the cafeteria or store. You can also save up your points over several visits to get free parking etc. At some points, where all the masks start looking the same and I get overwhelmed, I found myself wandering from gallery to gallery just to get the points.

Sara turned to me and said, “I think life is a video game to you some times.”

Yes, yes it is. I love collecting points. I love redeeming points. My smartphone has turned my life into a video game.

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eBook Review: Risen

risen

I found book one of the Dark Victorian series, Risen, by Elizabeth Watasin free on my Kindle App.  It looked like my type of reading, which is still important even if the book is free, it was set in the Victorian period, looked a bit steam punky, and had a skull on it. I’ve had moderate success when I pick random free books, so I was still a bit wary. However, this was my most successful, random, free book on Kindle to date.

It is 1880 in a mechanical and supernatural London. Agents of Prince Albert’s Secret Commission, their criminal pasts wiped from their memories, are resurrected to fight the eldritch evils that threaten England. Amidst this turmoil, Jim Dastard and his new partner Artifice must stop a re-animationist raising murderous dead children. As Art and Jim pursue their quarry, Art discovers clues about her past self, and through meeting various intriguing women—a journalist, a medium, a prostitute, and a mysterious woman in black—where her heart lies. Yet the question remains: What sort of criminal was she? A new beginning, a new identity, and new dangers await Art as she fights for the Secret Commission and for her second life. (Synopsis from GoodReads)

The premise for the book was intriguing. Dead people brought to life to make up for past deeds. I liked that there was a story in this book that ended, the dead murderous children mystery is wrapped up, but the mystery of who Art was, is only just beginning. I enjoyed the character Jim Dastard, a talking skull, perhaps due to his  likeness to Bob from Harry Dresden, but mostly because he had some of the best lines.

There were a few things that were a bit odd. A little out of place was the fact that Art is Quaker but adept at fighting and hitting on women. However, it’s possible all of this explained as more about Art’s past is revealed. Also a bit odd was that the author could have set this in any time period she wanted, she’s the creator after all, but has her main character dislike many of the things about the Victorian era, and even goes about modifying clothes so her fighting makes sense. While they do this on Warehouse 13 with H.G. Wells, perhaps the disjointed feeling is that Warehouse 13 is purposefully campy and gets away with sideways turns of characters while this gothic steampunk book takes itself seriously.

These are minor questions that were raised as I read, in the end Risen is a very good book. The writing is excellent, the concepts are intriguing, and the characters have the feel of fully fleshed out individuals even if all the parts of them aren’t revealed in the first book. The author clearly knows where she is going with her story, and a fun story it is! I know the murderous dead kids seems a bit gruesome, but even that is done well, and I’m known to like things a bit dark, so I was not put off by that. If you like steampunk with a twist of darkness, the magic arts, and talking skulls, give this series a chance.

Disney Done Right

I have a Pinterest board title Disney Done Right. You should follow it. I put a lot of cool Disney Mash-ups and other fairy tale like things on it. Here are some recent finds:

Bell and the Beast by Lehuss on DeviantArt.

Baby Belle and the Teddy Beast. It is as adorable as you think it is.

Speaking of babies, Baby Ursula is just too cute for words. I mean, Gah!

Rapunzel art work. Just gorgeous.

Is Prince Charming really a name? A funny strip about the Disney Princes.

I like the concept of this piece of Ariel trying to sew her legs together to be a mermaid again. Though the artist has a bit of a ways to go when it comes to faces.

What does the fox say? Robin Hood has an answer.

fox says

Audio Book Review: American Gods

american gods

Everyone, and everyone, has recommended I read American Gods. They told me it should be my first taste of Gaiman. But, I’m never one to do what everyone tells me. So I picked at Gaiman’s prolific work, reading some of his children’s books, his graphic novel The Sandman series, fell in love with Neverwhere, and even watched him sing with his lovely wife Amanda Palmer on Youtube. Then I decided it was time to delve into the oh so popular American Gods. Chris ordered it on Audible and once he was finished I started listening to the story. It took me a while to get through it because I had just moved to Texas. I read the 10th Anniversary edition, with the author’s preferred text. (Following synopsis from GoodReads)

. . . . Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.

Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing – an epic war for the very soul of America – and that he is standing squarely in its path. . . . 

According to the author, either one loves this book or hates it. Apparently, Chris and I are not everyone because he found the book just so, so, and while I enjoyed the book, Gaiman’s way with words is quite wonderful, I didn’t exactly fall in love with it. I see the appeal though, Gaiman pulls from many mythologies, across the world, and compares them to those we Americans hold dear. And it’s not football, like you might think. The imagery that Gaiman pulls out of his head and puts down on paper is amazing. I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. Further, I enjoyed the many twists and turns of the book.

What American Gods does is makes one think. What gods do we hold dear, and why? Are they more important, do they compete with the old gods? Is there anything wrong with that?

However, those twists I mentioned? Well, perhaps it is because I’m my father’s daughter, but I saw each of them coming before it was more than a whisper of a thought in the book. I was not at all surprised by the ending. They were excellent twists, they were unusual and captivating, but I guessed a good 80% of them before they happened. This doesn’t make the book less enjoyable, but it is probably why I didn’t fall in love with it.

I did really like this as an audio book. The voice over actors are all very good, and there are many of them, so the different people are all distinguishable. Even though I can tell some of the voice over actors read several parts, they read them differently enough that even before the narrator says who is talking you can tell. That is the hallmark of a good voice over actor to me. Additionally, I wouldn’t have read the book nearly as fast in person because I was only really able to listen to this as I drove to work. Some times it made leaving the car hard, but it was always fun to come back to on the drive home.

I do recommend reading this piece of Gaiman’s work. It is excellent, a contemporary novel with a twist of the supernatural. Like his other work, Gaiman’s book will make you think and ponder the things we have deemed gods. The start is a bit slow, but once the story hits its stride it surges forward and may drag you to the end before you are ready.