Audio Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I downloaded The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (as read by the author himself) via Audible with a free credit. I’m quite a fan of Gaiman, so when I was searching for an audio book I am always drawn to his stories and discovered this one.

ocean at the end of the lane

Summary from Audible:

Sussex, England: A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. 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. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. 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.

One of the reasons that I am constantly downloading audiobooks is that I like to listen to stories as I fall asleep at night as well as listen to them as I drive around town. I started The Ocean at the End of the Lane and immediately found myself drawn to this strange otherworldly tale, at times scary and intense, always imaginative and all consuming. But soon discovered this is not a good bed time story. I would lie there at night as Chris slept soundly beside me, wide awake staring at my phone to caught up in the story, too scared to stop the story, too frightened to keep going. I would pause it, try to drift off, then worried about the boy, sit up and start it again. Restless I started a different audiobook and drifted off to sleep within a matter of minutes.

This is not a book to try to fall asleep to.

Like his other stories, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is full of strange mythologies interwoven with such relatable characters that I was pulled into the story, sucked in, and had to fight to find my way out again. Though the main part of the story happens in a man’s past when he is quite young, it is not a story for children. At the same time, Gaiman is able to capture the voice of a young boy, reminding me of how I used to view the world, that I began to recall my own childhood, well, at least all the scary moments of growing up.

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As I’ve come to expect from Gaiman, his prose is wonderful and wonderfully read by himself. The pacing of Gaiman’s writing is beyond compare and I never step outside the story to wonder what will happen because I am always entranced by what is happening, in that moment. Some times so engulfed in the story that I can’t sleep. Gaiman has such an amazing talent for voice acting that I have come to love the stories he reads himself. Just the other day I was in a bookstore and discovered a book of his I have yet to read, but didn’t pick it up because I want to find out if it is an audiobook instead. My queue in Audible is full of books by Gaiman and I don’t see that discontinuing any time soon.

I realize that my review more describes my experience reading this book than what it is about, but as far as I can tell, this is the best way to review this book. For one, to describe the story would be to ruin the magic of the tale, anything more said than the blurb ruins the world building and character building that Gaiman worked hard to create. Secondly, I’m not alone in my experiential review of this book. Patrick Rothfuss’ own meandering love story about this book is more about his experience of reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane than a typical review.

This is a story to experience. So, go out there and find your experience. Buy a copy, listen to the audiobook, fall in love with Gaiman just a little bit more.

Pinterest Board: Aww Eetz Coooot (AKA All About My Cute Kittens)

I now have an obligatory cute kittens board up on Pinterest which I’ve named, Aww Eetz Coooot. You can check it out and follow if you are so included. Here are some of the pictures that I’ve found and pinned to my board. Because cute kittens make everyone happier (even people like myself who would never actually have a kitten in their house).

This one makes me go, “Bawww.”cute kitten 1

This one just makes me laugh.

kitten 2

For all you peeps dealing with snow, this makes it all better, right?

kitten 3

Book Quotes I Love

Clicking on the second and third pictures will take you to posts that have even more pictures of book quotes.

 

wilson quote

Television Review: Endgame (2011)

Endgame (2011) is available on Hulu Plus (which we finally got working at our new place). There is only one season available and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it was a good binge watch all the same.

endgame image

Summary from TV.Com

Arkady Balagan is a genius who found fame as the world chess champion but who, since witnessing the murder of his fiancée, has become rather agoraphobic and has been living in a posh hotel in Vancouver. Out of money and with his tab being called due he stumbles into helping find an abducted child. Realising (sic) he could make some money as an unofficial consulting detective he takes up a new profession and hires one of his chess fans to do the work which requires leaving the hotel. Arkady continues to work with Pippa Venturi, his late fiancée’s sister, to solve the murder of Rosemary Venturi, his fiancée, and her old friend Greg Lamont.

Balagan is an agoraphobic Sherlock Holmes. He is a genius who solves mysteries with chess strategic thinking. Since he is agoraphobic he enlists the help of a younger chess player, a maid of the hotel, and a bar tender in the hotel. He finds smart people to help him and doesn’t discriminate who that intelligent person is based on their job description. He is able to walk through what people probably did based on his extensive knowledge of how people work because of his chess playing background.

I like this show because I like smart people, and the entire ensemble is a cast of smart people. They all play off of each other beautifully, and there wasn’t a secondary character that I didn’t like or who was just there to fulfill some quota. They all contributed in their own way and each character pushed the show forward seamlessly. Balagan is a great character beautifully played. Sometimes he comes off as the biggest jerk, that smart kid who always thinks he is right, because he usually is. But, Balagan is smart because he understands not only the rules of a game, but how people think. His ability to understand other people gives his sometimes jerk character warmth and charm that really endured him to me.

My favorite episode was “I Killed Her” where a killer shows up at the hotel and confesses everything to Balagan, but in a way that he can’t be caught. At every turn the killer outsmarts Balagan, which was quite exciting to watch. In the end, it is Balagan’s understanding of human character that resolves the case. In a very touching scene Balagan figures out the psychology of the killer and what ultimately drives his behavior.

If you like binge watching television about smart people solving crimes in unusual ways, check out Endgame (2011) on Hulu Plus.

Peter Hollens and His Hobbit Songs

As is probably apparent by now, I’m a huge fan of Peter Hollens. Here is his latest a cappella works based on The Hobbit movies.

Peter Hollens A Cappella Performance of “The Last Goodbye” from The Hobbit

Ed Sheeran – I See Fire- The Hobbit- Peter Hollens

But my favorite is still Peter Hollens performance of Song of the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit

 

eBook Review: Better Off Dead by H. P. Mallory

I downloaded Better Off Dead (Lily Harper Series) by H. P. Mallory onto my AmazonKindle app because it was free and looked interesting.

better off dead

Summary from Goodreads

If there’s such a thing as luck, Lily Harper definitely doesn’t have it.

Killed in a car accident before it’s her time to go, Lily learns that the hereafter isn’t exactly what she hoped it might be.

First, there’s AfterLife Enterprises, the company responsible for sorting out the recently dead and sending them on their way to the Kingdom, (aka happily ever after,) or to the Underground City, (not so happily ever after.)

Learning that Lily’s death was indirectly their fault (her guardian angel, Bill, was MIA during her accident and was one of their employees,) Afterlife Enterprises offers Lily the chance to live again.

But, as with most things involving the afterlife, beware the fine print. Most notably, Lily will become a soul retriever, venturing into the bowels of the Underground City to retrieve souls that were mistakenly sent there by Afterlife Enterprises during a Y2K computer glitch.

Second, there’s angel Bill. As if risking her second life in the Underground City wasn’t enough, Lily’s guide to the Underground is none other than her incompetent, alcoholic, womanizing guardian angel, Bill, the antithesis of anything wholesome. With only Dante’s Inferno and Bill to help her in her quest, Lily’s future isn’t looking bright.

Finally, there’s the legendary bladesmith, Tallis Black. As Scottish as his kilts and heavy brogue, Tallis Black is a centuries-old Celt who, for reasons only known to him, offers to train Lily and act as her escort into the depths of the Underground City. Dark, brooding and definitely dangerous, Lily knows she shouldn’t trust Tallis, but she also can’t deny her attraction to him.

Between soul retrieving in hell, dealing with Bill and trying to figure out what’s in it for Tallis, Lily wonders if maybe she would’ve just been better off dead.

I really like the other H.P. Mallory series and think she is a good writer, but I have some reservations about this series and it didn’t catch my interest like her other two did. I was intrigued by the premise, I like Reaper Mystery tea cozy novels a lot, and I enjoy quirky characters which Better Off Dead has in spades. Angel Bill is quite hilarious even if he was a bit cringe worthy a few times, but in a way that made me laugh in spite of myself. He was the best parts of the book.

Lily is a well developed character who has a lot to learn about her new life. I can see her growing over the series and becoming a wonderful character. I just have a few issues with the premise of her character. My first issue is that when she becomes a Reaper she gets to choose a new body, and since she hates her old fat self she chooses to be a tall, curvy (but in all the right places), redhead- just like every other urban fantasy female lead. Her gangling movements, I’m in a new taller more beautiful body, scenes were off putting to me. It wasn’t as though she chose the right body for the job, she just chose her dream body. And I guess I would be fine with that realism, if the author addressed Lily’s hate of her old body in some way. And maybe Lily will come to realize that her old body wasn’t so bad, or learn something from this in the end, but there was no indication in the first book that this would happen. It seemed an odd point to make about the universe.

My other issue with Lily is that she is yet another virgin, and not necessarily because she wants to be, not because she is choosing for herself her own sexuality, in fact there is no female agency around her choice. I started reading another Reaper Mystery cozy tea novel that I at the same time and I really appreciated that character’s choice about her own sexuality, female agency was a real thing so it was hard not to compare the two. Perhaps Lily’s virginity would not have been such a big deal to me if I wasn’t comparing it to the other, on the other hand it was part of the plot in Better Off Dead.

H. P. Mallory sets up some great characters in Better Off Dead, they aren’t perfect and they have some room to grow. The premise remains interesting and the AfterLife was definitely different from other Reaper Mysteries that I read, so that was a huge plus. There is a kick-ass female in the story, she just happens not to be the heroine. Some of my favorite characters have started out as underwhelming female leads and have grown into amazing women, hopefully Lily is headed in that direction as well.

A Reaper Mystery tea novel about the after life, Better Off Dead has an interesting premise and some quirky characters that will keep you turning the pages.

Ron Swanson Fan Day

Ron Swanson Paper Dolls FOR THE WIN!!!

paper dolls

There is a page called Ron Swanson Quotes which has a gallery of awesome pictures and quotes by the man himself.

My favorite Ron Swanson quote

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Mustached mug and other Ron Swanson Etsy Finds

ron swanson mug

Ron Swanson street art.

street art

Really awesome, but really kind of weird, fan art

fan art

The greatest Ron Swanson scene ever!

greatest ever scene with ron swanson