Neil Gaiman: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (review)

17026_413852478709121_1163712783_n‘Growing up, I took so many cues from books. They taught me most of what I knew about what people did, about how to behave. They were my teachers and advisers. In books, boys climbed trees, so I climbed trees, sometimes very high, always scared of falling. In books, people climbed up and down drainpipes to get in and out of houses, so I  climbed up and down drainpipes too.’ (p. 203)

So The Ocean at the End of the Lane was one of the books I was most excited about this year. I’ve been following it’s ‘conception’ on Neil Gaiman’s twitter and blog and in part because of my partaking in the process of the creating of the novel, in part because of the epitome of coolness that is Neil Gaiman and in part just because I like what Neil Gaiman creates and stands for, this was a novel that I knew I would buy and read as soon as possible. Add to this a gorgeous cover – even in the paperback version which is the only one I’ve seen in Danish bookstores – and I was at the point of no return.
Of course, this is extremely dangerous because you then hype the novel so much in your own head that you almost inevitably set it up for failure (which is why I haven’t read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern yet. I have build it up so much that it will be very difficult for it to live up to my expectations and so, I just don’t read it and that way I can keep thinking of it as an amazing novel. Not sure how well this approach is working since I then don’t read the books I’m anticipating the most… Anyway …). But to not make a bigger fuss about this than it need to be, I read the novel as soon as I could and as quickly as I could and I really liked it. I didn’t love it but I have the feeling that it is a novel that will keep growing on me and that I will return to – much like I feel about Neverwhere.
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home in Sussex to attend a funeral. While there, he decides to return to his childhood home and haunts. The home doesn’t bring back all that many memories but then he continues on towards the end of the lane, to the Hempstock farm. And while there, sitting on a bench, staring out across a duck pond, a whole flood of memories return to him.
He suddenly remembers his seventh birthday where no one came which he doesn’t seem all to sad about since he still received The Chronicles of Narnia, a cute black kitten and more. Even though his parents seem a bit distant and not all that caring, they give him just the perfect gifts. But things are about to change. His parents experience some financial trouble which necessitate taking in a lodger and this force him to share his little sister’s room.
The first of these lodgers is an opal miner who brings with him a lot of bad luck. He starts out by running over the kitten, then he gambles away all his and his friends’ money and finally, he steals the family’s car and uses it to commit suicide in and with.
This tragic event sets dark things in motion and causes our protagonist to get to know the women at the Hempstock farm. Three women living together. The oldest remember the Big Bang. The youngest is just 11 – but has been 11 for a long time and claims that her duck pond is really an ocean.
Neil Gaiman manages to create a totally believable reality where you don’t question the fantastic elements the slightest. Does what comes next really happen or are it just a child’s way of explaining things? It really plays on childhood fears and sometimes the fantastic makes more sense than the harsh realities. At least to a child.
It reminded me of NeverwhereItAmerican Gods … and even a bit of Pulp Fiction (mostly because of Harvey Keitel). At the same time the book feels extremely personal. I keep picturing a young Neil Gaiman having all this happen to him – or some version of this at least and the book is the result of him having turned these events over and over in his imagination throughout all these years.
It’s been a while since I read it but I don’t remember it as a 4 stars read. I actually remember being a bit disappointed by it which is probably because of how much I had hyped in. Gaiman brings up themes of memory and the unreliability of it, reality v. fiction, good v. evil, myth v. faith – all themes that I’m interested in. And it is a book I think back on very fondly. It’s a novel that feels that it could be explored a lot further and that it will be more rewarding on subsequent reads. So it’ll get a 4 stars rating from me and then I’ll hope to return to it and one more visit the women at the Hempstock farm and see how a duckpond can truly be an ocean.

‘Grown-ups don’t look like grownups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t many grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.’ (p. 152)

First line: It was only a duckpond, out at the back of the farm.

  • Title: The Ocean at the End of Lane
  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • Publisher: headline
  • Year: 2013
  • Pages: 248 pages
  • Source: Own collection
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

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Top Ten Favorite Books Taking Place in London

toptentuesday-1So this week, The Broke and the Bookish are focusing on settings. Top Ten Favorite Books from one setting. I chose London as my setting because I love London and I enjoy reading books taking place in this wonderful city. Especially because it seems to inspire some great writers too. This city seems to have a life of it’s own so that books taking place here, are always special because the city seems to be a character all on it’s own. So here’s a list of books taking place in London – do you know any other books taking place in London, I should read?

  1. China Miéville: Un Lun Dun. So London is not just London, no, beneath London there’s another city where all the lost and broken things of London end up. UnLondon is very different from London and much more dangerous but it’s still a wonderful place to visit – or, it is when you just have to read about it!
  2. Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere. So as in the previous book, in this book too there’s two Londons. A London Above and a London Below. Gaiman explains a lot of London place names in this one – and this is probably my favorite book on this list. Followed closely by the next two … and the first one … (My review)
  3. Félix J. Palma: The Map of Time. This book features not only one London, but two. Victorian London as well as a future version of London, devastated by war. Or so it seems. The novel also features some of the main persons from London’s history – like H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper. (My review)
  4. Dan Simmons: Drood. Dan Simmons shows us through the London of Dickens and Wilkie Collins, both the posh and poor parts of Victorian London. It’s a wonderful book and again, the book would never have worked in any other city. (My review)
  5. Marie Phillips: Gods Behaving Badly. So where have the Greek gods gone in the 21st century? Well, London of course! Artemis, Apollo, Aphrodite and more all live in Northern London, trying to combine being a god with normal life.
  6. Peter Ackroyd: London The Biography. No one seems to understand the power of London better than Peter Ackroyd – or the city’s ability to be it’s own character. He has written an entire book with the city as it’s main character – a biography of a city. I haven’t read all of it yet but what I have read, is extremely impressive.
  7. J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan. Yes, I know. Peter Pan doesn’t take place in London but for once on this list, London is not important because of all it’s wonders, but as a representative of the stiff society one wishes to escape from.
  8. Michael Bond: The Paddington series. Well, Paddington wouldn’t be Paddington if he hadn’t been named after Paddington station. I guess for many tourists, Paddington station is more important because of it’s significance in this wonderful series than because of it’s connection to the rest of the London Underground. And yes, I have been and seen the statue…
  9. Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes. Everyone knows that Sherlock Holmes resides at 221B Baker Street. Although he also ventures out of London to solve crimes, he does pop around London quite a bit – and Sherlock wouldn’t be Sherlock without London.
  10. Charles Dickens. I haven’t picked any particular book by Dickens because, really, isn’t London a part of almost all of them? When I think of Dickens, one of the main thing that pops into my head is Victorian London – which he knew thoroughly. So of course, Dickens had to be on this list.

There are of course lots of other books featuring London – like Gail Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate seriesHarry Potter and Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series to name but a few – but I’ve tried to choose the ones where the city is more than just a background for the story and instead takes an explicit part in the book. I think London is an important player in all of these books. And of course, now I want to go back …

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Top ten auto-buy authors

I have been slacking off on participating in the Top Ten so far this year, partly because of lack of time and partly because I’ve found some of the topics really hard to answer, some of them because they were not really relevant for the types of books I read. But I think it is fun to participate and I’m trying to get back in the game with this week’s theme, authors you automatically buy whenever they publish something new.

As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

  1. John Irving. I love John Irving’s books. I always buy him. I have almost everything he’s published, only lacking his movie memoir, two of his early books and a short story collection. I haven’t read all his works yet because I’m savoring them and I can’t imagine having no new Irving novels to read. He is a definite auto-buy author!
  2. Haruki Murakami. Murakami is another of my favorite authors where I have a no-questions-asked policy and just buy whatever he writes. I love both his magical realism books and the realistic ones – it’s just all good.
  3. Donna Tartt. I’m not going broke it anything by promising to auto-buy all if Donna Tartt’s future books. So far, she has published two (both of which are in my collection) and has one coming out this year. She published her first book back in 1992 so that’s 3 books in 21 years. I’ve really loved her first two novels so I’m so so excited about a third. Definitely a must-buy!
  4. Joyce Carol Oates. I really try to buy all Joyce Carol Oates’ books when they come out or soon after but it is so hard when we’re talking about a so extremely fast-writing author as Oates. She usually has more than one book coming out each year so I mostly limit myself to her novels. And a novelette. And her diaries. Ideally, I want to own everything she has written but … It’s close to impossible!
  5. Stephen King. So here we have another prolific writer whom I am desperately trying to keep up with. Again, I’m only buying the novels although I am reconsidering this because King writes excellent short stories. But yeah, I buy him even though he sometimes misses.
  6. Terry Pratchett. I buy the Discworld novels. I don’t buy the Discworld companion books and I haven’t (yet) bought any of his other novels or books. I don’t buy the books immediately after publication, though, since when I began buying them I could only get the paperbacks and so I have continued with this format. He never disappoints!
  7. Jonathan Franzen. After The Corrections, I’m buying Franzen’s novels. I loved The Corrections so so much. Again, this is not an author who is going to make me broke. He is not exactly a fast writer.
  8. Jeffrey Eugenides. I really liked Middlesex and so I have bought whatever he has published since. Which is one book, The Marriage Plot. So again, easy to promise to buy all his novels!
  9. Neil Gaiman. He can publish his grocery list for all I care. I’m buying! Even though he is a difficult author to have on the auto-buy list, since he writes in so many different genres and formats. Still, I am so looking forward to his next novel, I desperately want to get Chu’s Day, his children’s book, and translate it to my daughters and he’s also publishing a prologue to Sandman, the graphic novel series, this year, I think. I want it all!!! More, more, more!
  10. J.K. Rowling. I debated with myself whether I should put her on the list since I haven’t bought and have no intention of buying the various companion books to the Harry Potter series. Still, right now, I’m buying any novel she puts out there so on the list she goes.

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Making Art

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So is anybody else excited about what Neil Gaiman is up to? Just the other day, he send out questions on twitter, 12 to be exact, to get inspiration for stories. More precisely, Gaiman is creating a Calendar of Tales, 12 stories inspired by tweets from people around the world and illustrated by people around the world.

If this isn’t a great idea, I don’t know what is!

I follow Gaiman on Twitter, so I read a lot of these tweets as they came in. Gaiman was impressed with what people shared and so was I. It was interesting to see

Gaiman joined up with Blackberry to make this happen. And now, the stories are written and it’s time to send in illustrations to these stories. The work of 12 artists will be selected by Gaiman and have their work made into a website, an e-book as well as a real life book. So if you have any creative talent, go make art.

I’ve read the 12 stories and what I like the best about them, is the process. Gaiman has read all these tweets and then chosen one for each month. It’s so fascinating to see how the tweets he wrote, inspired people or tricked a memory and this in turn then inspired Gaiman to write his stories – and now, his stories are out in the world to inspire visual artists to create illustrations for these stories. It’s a wonderful project.

You can read more about the project here as well as watch a cool video featuring Gaiman.

And if you go here instead, you can download a pdf with all the 12 stories as well as see some of the artwork that has already been submitted.

And I now know not to ever play poker with ducks.

Neil Gaiman: American Gods (review)

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‘Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world.’ (p. 433)

Ramona Ausubel wrote a book about the attempt to put so much faith into something that you actually make it real. In American Gods, Neil Gaiman looks at the other side of this issue – what happens when you stop believe in something? America is a country full of immigrants and all these immigrants brought their gods with them when they arrived. But slowly, the faith has disappeared – and what happens to a god whom nobody – or just a few – believes in? And equally important – what happens when faith in put into new things, into progress. What is religion? That is in part what Neil Gaiman sets out to investigate in this novel.

Shadow is just about to be released from prison when his wife dies in a car crash. Shadow has waited desperately to get home to her and now, all of a sudden, she’s dead. Shadow gets released a few days early and starts to journey home. On the way, he meets Mr Wednesday and agrees to work for him. Together they drive back to take care of Shadow’s wife’s burial and then, it’s time for Shadow to start the real work. However, things are not what they seem. Mr Wednesday is not just an ordinary guy, the people he takes Shadow to meet are not ordinary either – and Shadow’s wife has not exactly found her final resting place.

Along the way, Shadow visits The House of Rock, the geographic center of the United States as well as solving the mystery of the children who disappears every winter in a small town – and deals with his wife as well.

But the really interesting part of this book, is the people Shadow meets along his way. Not only Wednesday but all kinds of other gods from around the globe – including new ones, who are not interested in letting the old guys reclaim their territory. This is one book where your enjoyment will be enhanced by knowledge of myths from around the world but lack of this knowledge will not ruin your reading experience in any way.

I’ve recently read another Gaiman novel, NeverwhereNeverwhere is among people living in a city beneath London, London Below. These people can’t be seen by regular Londoners and it’s sort of the same idea. When you don’t believe in something, it looses it’s realness and you don’t see it. Both novels have Gaiman playing with language and names. I think a good advice when you read Gaiman is to think about the names he uses, maybe even say them out loud…

Along the way, Gaiman also sends out various shout-outs to other authors and books – Edgar Allan Poe The Raven and Stephen King’s Carrie were two of the ones I caught but there’s probably countless others.

There’s no doubt that American Gods is the more complex and developed novel but I think I liked Neverwhere better. That said, I think American Gods will be the one I will read more and think more about. It’s slightly odd in the best possible way and the more, I think about it, the more I like it.

And then, of course, there’s this quote (yes, I know it’s insanely long but it’s wonderful!):

‘I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.

I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen – I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.

I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.

I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.’ (p. 334-335)

  • Title: American Gods
  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • Publisher: Headline Feature
  • Year: 2001
  • Pages: 504 pages
  • Source: Borrowed from a friend
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

If you liked this novel, you might also like Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, anything by Terry Pratchett or The City & The City and Un Lun Dun by China Miéville – or other books by Neil Gaiman.

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A Bookish Christmas

First of, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! The blog has been quiet the last few days due to Christmas preparations and celebrations but now, I hope to get back to business again.

For me, books are an important part of Christmas. I love getting books as presents and I love giving books as presents. It’s especially important to me to give books to my two girls and my boyfriend and I have agreed that for every birthday and Christmas, we will gift them books. Other things too, of course, but books are a given.

So which books did I give away this Christmas?

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For my mother, a book about Danish glass art in churches, air ports and more. For my boyfriend, James Clavell’s Tai Pan as well as two books by Alexander Dumas: The Whites and the Blues and The Companions of Jehu.

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And for the girls: 4-year-old Ronja got a Tinkerbell book and 2-year-old Svea got two Rasmus Klump books (I think he’s called Bruin in English).

And now to the exciting stuff – the books I got and which will be review on this blog – at some point in the future …

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First of, I got ‘the story so far’ of A Song of Ice and Fire – that is, the first five volumes. I saw a bit of the tv series and I’ve been wanting to read this for years and I’m really looking forward to reading these 5 novels. Not sure when I’m getting around to it since I have just started King The Dark Tower and I’ve read 4 books in the The Wheel of Time series.

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The last few years, I’ve received a Classic for Christmas from my boyfriend. He has given me The Brothers Karamazov, War and Peace, Madame Bovary and Les Misérables. I then read it sometime during the following year and then I get a new one next Christmas. I love this tradition! This year, I got The Count of Monte Cristo and I’m really excited  about reading it.

I also got Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates and is based on the life of Jeffrey Dahmer. I love Joyce Carol Oates’ novels and I’m fascinated by serial killers so I’m looking forward to reading this even though I think it will be a rather gruesome read.

And finally, I got four of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels – vol. 3-6. These have been on my wish list for several years so I’m happy to get four more – especially since Neil Gaiman is very close to be put on my favorite authors list.

I also got two of a Filofax calendar so I returned one of them and got Kenneth Follett World Without End as well as order J.K. Rowling The Casual Vacancy.

So that was my bookish Christmas. Which books did you give away and which books did you find under the Christmas tree?

October and November – ‘Monthly’ Wrap Up

Yes, I admit to beeing behind on my wrap up posts – and just about everything else blog related. I blame work mostly – and that pretty much suck since I don’t get paid to work and because of that, I would really much prefer just reading and blogging. But it’s necessary to work and so we must try to find work as best we can. But lame excuses aside, I’ve been reading tough and long books these months so I haven’t read all that many books. The best thing, though, is that I finished Clarissa (and the crowd goes wild…) and I also read and loved Les Misérables. So two huuuuuge novels finished and although I’ve cheated and read Clarissa all year long, it only really counts in the month, it’s finished. I’m not sure I can complete argue for why that is but that’s one of the rules of (my) reading.

Anyway, this of course means that I’m hugely behind.

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See, already 2 books behind on October 1st. But it should get much, much worse.

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In one short month, I went from being two books behind to being 5 books behind. I mostly blame Les Misérables for that. It took me a month to read – but it was worth it. However, it did seriously mess up my goal of reading 52 books this year. And then I began reading The Kindly Ones in November too and well, any chance of reaching 52 was just gone.

  1. Samuel Richardson: Clarissa. Clarissa, Clarissa, Clarissa. So many months spend reading about this young woman who flees an arranged marriage and ends up in the hands of a womanizer. It could have been so good but it wasn’t. 3 stars.
  2. Jean M. Auel: The Land of Painted Caves. A dreadful end to a series that started out so so good. In this one, we follow Ayla’s training to become a Zelandonia but also relationship issues with Jondalar. After reading the last three books in this series, I have to say that Auel should have quit while she was ahead. 2 stars.
  3. Victor Hugo: Les Misérables. This is an amazing book, well worth it’s status as a Classic. Jean Valjean as a character is so real and so flawed that you forget he is just a character. His relationship with Colette is one that all fathers will recognize, I think. Add to that Hugo’s fantastic grasp of language, which enables him to write beautiful about the sewers of Paris, and you can easily see why this book is so good. 5 stars.
  4. Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere. From beginning to end, I loved this book! Richard Mayhew’s adventures in London Below are just so much fun. Gaiman’s grasp of language is amazing and I love how well he uses London as a setting and plays with well known place names. 4 stars.

As you can see, I’m also so behind on writing reviews. I promise I will try to get them written before the new year.

I have finished almost all my challenges this year. Reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere finished my second to last challenge. However, I have to realize that I will not finish my own reading list and challenge for this year. I still need to read 12 books, I need to read Neil Gaiman American Gods, Don DeLillo Underworld, the first volume of Coppleston’s history of philosophy as well as a non-fiction book about collecting and then finish reading Sherlock Holmes…  I’m not going to make it. So I will focus on reading as many books as possible because there are so many books I desperately want to read – and then set some new goals for 2013.

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Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere (review)

What would you do if you came walking down a street and saw a young woman lying hurt on the sidewalk? Would you stop to help her and carry her to your home if she asked you not to call an ambulance? If you said yes to this question, I’m sorry to say that your answer is wrong! Really really wrong! At least if you have a life and maybe a family you care about.

Because that is exactly what Richard Mayhew does. He finds a hurt woman, he takes her to his home to help her – and because of this random act of kindness, he’s thrown into a life and an existence he had no idea existed even though it was right beneath his feet.

The girl he helped, was Door. Door comes from the London Below and if you associate too much with people and places from London Below, your existence in London Above disappears. People stop seeing you, you loose your job and your apartment – you’re simply forgotten. And that’s what happens to Richard. He helps Door escape from the very nasty Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar and he takes a message from her to the Marquis de Carabas – and that’s it. Suddenly, he’s shunned in London Above and he has no choice but to go to London Below – like all the other things and people who have fallen through the cracks.

Once Richard is below, he’s dragged into Door’s life. And she does not lead a peaceful one. Instead she’s on the run from the people who slaughtered her entire family and trying to figure out why they did so. Various characters help and hinder this quest and it’s all good fun and gives the reader a lovely, entertaining time. And the rats, of course. And pigeons.

Besides a fascinating story that I really enjoyed, what I loved most about Neverwhere was the way, Gaiman uses London. Place names of various parts of London suddenly get a new – and often sinister – meaning when you know London Below. Names and phrases like Mind the Gap, Shepherd’s Bush and Knightsbridge are some of the things that get the Gaiman treatment. And of course the floating markets – people from London Below just meet up in places and have their markets and then pack it all down again and move on to a new location. One such location is Harrod’s and the description of this is just marvelous. London Above – and Below – will never be the same. It all reminds me of an Escher painting.

And I just love Gaiman’s writing. Here are a couple of quotes to showcase it: ‘To say that Richard was not very good at heights would be accurate, but would fail to give the whole picture. It would be like describing the planet Jupiter as bigger than a duck. True, as far as it went; but it could go further.’ (p. 43) and ‘He never had believed in angels. He was damned if he was going to start now. Still, it is much easier not to believe in something when it is not actually looking directly at you, and saying your name.’ (p. 154).

One of my favorite authors is Terry Pratchett. And another author who is rather new to me and who I’m really starting to like, is China Miéville. This book by Neil Gaiman reminds me of both these authors. There’s a lot of similarities between Neverwhere and Miéville’s UnLunDun and The City & The City. Both Neverwhere and UnLunDun takes place in London but in a different London than we know. And just as people don’t see the people from London Below in Neverwhere, people don’t see the other city and it’s inhabitants in The City & The City. There’s something so interesting to me about these co-existing cities and how they exemplify how we live our lives, not seeing what we’re not supposed to see and if you see something that other’s don’t, you’re automatically labelled insane. It could be really interesting to read all these three novels together to really compare them and dig into their themes and similarities – and their unique aspects as well.

The similarities with Terry Pratchett is clearly seen in the humor. There are sentences here where it could almost have been Pratchett writing. No wonder that Pratchett and Gaiman wrote a book together – but big wonder that I didn’t particularly like it … I think I need to reread Good Omens at one point.

One other thing that fascinates me about this book is, that it originally was a tv series and then Gaiman adapted it into a novel. Right now, so many books are made into movies – Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi, Les Misérables, The Hobbit, Midnight’s Children – but it’s rarely the other way around, I think. I really want to watch this series (and all those movies…!). But I wonder – I prefer reading the book before the movie … but if the book is based on the tv series, should you read the book first or watch the series???

Anyway, I digress. What I really wanted to say with this review is, that Neil Gaiman is living up to my expectations and that he has taken a big step closer to be added to my small list of favorite authors and that I loved reading this book.

  • Title: Neverwhere
  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • Publisher: BBC Books
  • Year: 1996
  • Pages: 287 pages
  • Source: Own Collection
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

If you liked this novel, you might also like Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, anything by Terry Pratchett or The City & The City and Un Lun Dun by China Miéville.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For 2013

So this week, the Top Ten Tuesday is looking forward. Which books are the most anticipated books for 2013? I remember doing such a list in January 2012 – and I don’t think that I knew that both Salman Rushdie, J.K. Rowling and many many more great authors would publish books this year. So there’s no guarantees that these ten are my most anticipated books for 2013 – but they are the most anticipated that I know of! As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and here is my list for this week.

  1. Neil Gaiman: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I’m falling in love with Neil Gaiman. I have liked the The Sandman and Death graphic novels for years. I liked The Graveyard Book a lot. And I just loved Neverwhere. So I’m so looking forward to not only reading American Gods and the other books I have yet to get around to but also this new one, coming out in June.
  2. Stephen King: Dr. Sleep. This is the sequel to The Shining. Set about 20 years later, the protagonist of this book is the son from The Shining, Danny Torrance. Well, need I say more? It’s Stephen King for crying out loud. Definitely very anticipated!
  3. Donna Tartt. Yeah. This was on my list of most anticipated books of 2012 as well. I haven’t been able to find a title or a publication date so I don’t know if there’s any chance it will be coming out in 2013 but I’m keeping my fingers crossed since her first two books – The Secret History and The Little Friend – were both so good. 
  4. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah. I absolutely loved Half of a Yellow Sun. It was such an amazing novel and I learned so much about the history of the Nigeria-Biafra war 1967-70 by reading it, a war that I didn’t even know existed before reading this book. I’ve been waiting for a new novel from her and it’s finally here!
  5. Khaled Hosseini: And the Mountains Echoed. I loved The Kite Runner! Again, such a great novel. I haven’t read A Thousand Splendid Suns yet but I have been told that it’s just as good. And now, finally, a new book from Hosseini, 10 years after The Kite Runner and 5 years after A Thousand Splendid Suns. I’m looking forward to this one too!
  6. Joyce Carol Oates: The Accursed. Of course there’s a new book out from Joyce Carol Oates. Nothing surprising there. And of course I’m anticipating it. Nothing surprising there either!
  7. Philip Pullman: The Book of Dust. A companion novel to the His Dark Materials trilogy. Count me in! I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Maybe I can squeeze in a reread of His Dark Materials before this one comes out? And maybe read Lyra’s Oxford too…
  8. Brandon Sanderson & Robert Jordan: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time #14). Finally. The last book in the Wheel of Time series. Will it come out? Will this series finally be finished? It has been dragging out for so long that I have to see it before I believe it and even though I have only made it through the first 4 novels in the series, this is one of my most anticipated novels, simply because I don’t believe it will actually be published but that the Wheel of Time curse will stop it instead…
  9. Diana Gabaldon: Written in my own heart’s blood (Outlander # 8). I’m slowly getting into this series. I have really liked both Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber so even though I’m so behind on reading this series and therefore can’t pay too much attention to the publication of new books in the series, I’m still anticipating this one.
  10. Adrian Tchaikovsky: War Master’s Gate  (Shadows of the Apt #9). I’ve read the first 4 of this series and I’m so fascinated by the world, Tchaikovsky has created. I own 6 of these and I hope to get some time to read more of this series next year.

I couldn’t find anything about any Terry Pratchett books coming out in 2013 but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

And I cheated and here’s a list of some other books I’m also interested in but not quite as much as those mentioned above:

  • Patrick Rothfuss: The Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicles #3)
  • Marisha Pessl: Night Film
  • Charlaine Harris: Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13)
  • Gail Carriger: Prudence (The Parasol Protectorate Abroad)
  • Jim C. Hines: Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris #2)
  • Paolo Bacigalupi: Water Knife
  • Freda Warrington: Grail of the Summer Stars (Aetherial Tales #3)

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Book shopping in Copenhagen

As part of our vacation activities this year, my boyfriend/fiancé and I took a day trip to Copenhagen – mainly to buy books. My favorite Danish bookshop is located på Rådhuspladsen in Copenhagen and the reason that I love it is, that it stocks all the new contemporary fiction – in English. I am of course talking aboutPolitikens Boghal which is one of the few places in Denmark where you have a great selection of fiction written in English. And since that’s what I read the most, of course this is my favorite bookshop.

So I bought 7 books in Politikens. 6 fiction, one non fiction. Most of these were already on my wish list and I’m excited about all of them.

      

  • Lev Grossman: The Magician King (The Magicians #2). The second volume in this fantasy series, inspired heavily by Harry Potter and Narnia.
  • Ramona Ausubel: No One is Here Except All of Us. A sort of 1001 Nights set in a tiny Jewish village in Romania in WWII.
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #3). The final installment in this trilogy. The first one was amazing. I plan on reading all three together – hopefully soon.
  • Christos Tsiolkas: The Slap. What happens when a father slaps a child who is not his own? Simple premise – but I expect a lot from this Booker shortlisted novel.
  • John Lanchester: The Capital. I bought this book mainly because it takes place in London during the recession. An entire street in London with very different people, yet all receive a card in the mail with the same message on: We Want What You Have.
  • Tom Perrotta: The Leftovers. What happens after a rapture like event has removed millions of people from earth? How do the leftovers react and go about their lives, rebuilding societies etc?
  • Nicholas Joll (ed.): Philosophy & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so many times as a teenager. I plan on reading it again soon – and this will be a wonderful companion read.

Close to Politikens, you can find a small bookstore in a cellar, FantaskFantask is the place to go if you wish to buy comics, graphic novels and fantasy.

  

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter: Prospero Lost. A fantasy version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Beautiful cover!
  • Terry Pratchett: Snuff. The newest paperback in the Discworld series. Can’t wait!
  • Neil Gaiman: The Doll’s House (Sandman #2). I am pretty sure I read the Sandman series years ago – now I’m slowly buying them for myself.

And finally, we also visited a sale. Again, very close to Politikens, there’s a huge – and I think permanent – book sale called Vangsgaards Bogudsalg. I mostly picked up some coloring books and picture books for the girls but I did pick up a couple of books for myself too – one of these unfortunately in Norwegian…!

 

  • Alan Moore: From Hell. Alan Moore’s take on Jack the Ripper. I’ve been wanting to read this book for years. But it sucks that I somehow ended up with a copy in Norwegian!
  • Jasper Fforde: Shades of Grey. I really like the one Thursday Next book I’ve read and the idea of your ability to see colors determining your place in society sounds intriguing.

So 12 books all in all did I carry back home in the train. Quite a good haul, I think. I’m looking forward to reading them!