Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
Before we break into bullets, let's crack open the mystifying task of classifying this fable.  First of all, I only think classifying of this type is useful when it spares someone from material they would rather not have read, orrrr when it helps me harness a picnic basket of books under a single banner.  So guys, strictly speaking, this title has been marketed for adults.  But the tone and style is so YA, plus there's Gaiman's whole argument on exposing children to darkness.*  Bullet time;
  • While there are sophisticated references to the metaphysical and teasing allusions to the fantastical that surrounds us, there are also injections of whimsy here and there, much like The Graveyard Book.
  • But there is no doubt that this book is more disturbing.  Where TGB succeeds in being 1 part horrifying and 9 parts black comedy, this book is 5 and 5...with 5 of those horrifying parts also being disturbing / haunting / awful (including a sex scene and suicide).  For this reason, I would not recommend the book to anyone under 15.  That said, I felt Gaiman dealt with these things in a way that would allow an adult to glean and feel more from the things described than a younger reader would, exposed to the same content.  And...I've read other novels that claim they are for young adults that have content that is so much worse, it is sickening.  So, if this had been classed as YA instead, I would not have contested it, I simply would have added that by me, "older YA."
  • I think this is a combination of The Graveyard Book and On the Edge (Ilona Andrews).  It is interesting to me, that two trusted sources of recommendations asked if I'd read this yet after recently appreciating the talent of De Goldi in The 10pm Question.   Both feature a young male narrator attempting to find a place in or outside of his family, rife with insecurity and uncertainty.  Both protagonists befriend a girl that opens their eyes to a world beyond their confinement.  I see all this.  Please don't misunderstand me, neither Recommend-or claimed these books were readalikes, both simply brought them up soon after De Goldi.  Know now: these two novels share the points mentioned (and some strong humour), but are so different in tone and feel.  But both have a lot to say.
  • Apart from the aforementioned disturbing content, there are also a few points that are strikingly sad about the (mostly flashback-) narrator's life.  It's a melancholy book.  But Gaiman is pretty tasteful.  Cussing?  Nope.  Violence?  All referenced and restrained rather than explored.
  • Gaiman impresses me.  I didn't want to stop reading, and I felt I was masterfully transported elsewhere.
  • I think this book is great to talk about in terms of parable / fable / moral / meaning.  And I intend to.  Plenty.
I want to close with a quote from Gaiman, that sums up much of why I like this particular book, (and other dark things I enjoy):
*"I think if you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up. I think it is really important to show dark things to kids — and, in the showing, to also show that dark things can be beaten, that you have power. Tell them you can fight back, tell them you can win. Because you can — but you have to know that."
  - Neil Gaiman

Monday, March 2, 2015

YA Fiction Sampler: SK Picks, Round 2

I am not an authority on this matter, but I am an enthusiast.  If it is high time you dabbled in s'more YA, here's another selection of books flagged for younger readers that I have thoroughly enjoyed and recommend for adults.  If you're not sure about all this, perhaps start with a genre you're already comfortable in -- if you don't usually like soppy romances, for example, you probably shouldn't measure Young Adult fiction on the back of a YA romance.  If you're already a delver in the ways of YA, perhaps there's one on this list you haven't devoured yet -- huzzah!

Straight-up Science Fiction 
Spark, Rachael Craw ^

Science Fiction: Post Apocalyptic
The Maze Runner, James Dashner *
Reboot, Amy Tintera *
The Chimes, Anna Smaill (NZ author)

Blackbringer, Laini Taylor *
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (technically "adult" but with a mature YA feel)

Dystopian Romance
The Selection, Keira Cass *

Contemporary Fiction
On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta
Wonder, R. J. Palacio
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

New Zealand Fiction
The 10pm Question, Kate De Goldi
Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox *

*There's more than one book published in this world / with these characters
^There's more coming written in this world / with these characters

Want moooore?
I completely understand.
You must swing by Stella's place, because she has also posted her second round of YA pics today.  You should know: more than one of the titles listed in my second round of recommendations?  From Stella's first round.  Yup.  Get over there.

Missed the Round 1 Sampler?  Check it out here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sabbath Amusements XXII

Having recently attended a baptism at our church, we were expecting to see a confirmation as part of our Sunday meetings.  Esky had a number of questions about exactly what this involved.  As we rode in the car, en route to church, Haki and I explained that, for us, a confirmation means someone receives the Holy Ghost as a gift.

Ivy commenced eagerly interrupting on repeat; "I want to go on the rollercoaster too!"

Top 10 Mondegreen, for suresies;
thank you, kiwi accent, for gifting us such wonders with your lazy R's and sloppy ways.  /bow

Friday, February 27, 2015


Wonder, R. J. Palacio
  • This book immediately had my interest.  It commences with a 10-year-old voice (in first-person) that feels 10 years old...instead of like an adult pretending.  That's something.
  • I think a mature 10-year-old would cope with the content, but I would want to read it with them.  There are a few moments that I would want to discuss.  Who am I kidding?  I would want to discuss all the moments!  This book is brimming over with discussion items!  It is a great case study!  And it isn't just great material and morals for young people to consider, there was so much the parents were going through that had me thinking.
  • It has excellent plotting.
  • It surprised me.
  • The adult dialogue is superb.
  • It was one of those books that I finished and thought, "I think everyone should read that book."
  • It's an easy read and it doesn't have anything nasty in it (sex, drugs, pornography, alcohol, crazy cussing etc.).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Simple Greek Food Cookbook

Taking You Home, Helena & Vikki Moursellas
When I saw review copies were available for the MKR twins' new cookbook, I was as keen as.  (Yes, that's where the sentence ends, pats).  I am very interested in tapping into recipes that have been passed down through generations, that feel authentic, and require ingredients I can find and afford.  Taking You Home does all of this...and more.  The "and more" I could have done without, but hey.

I believe these are old, authentic, achievable recipes because the twins are in a perfect position to play gatekeepers to their Yiayia's kitchen.  Their dear ol' Yiayia was not going to compile this cookbook, get an agent, and see it to our shores and my shelf.  But the twins?  Totally. 

I love Greek food, and I think this cookbook has a great selection of doable stuff.

When I say that it has even more than this, I am referring to how it also doubles as a scrapbook for the twins.  While this adds personality, it's not my favourite thing to see their selfies alongside my dinner plan.  C'est la vie!  It makes me laugh, and may or may not make me approach the meal by first proclaiming, "I've got this!"  (that's one for the MKR fans).

Available today, in bookstores.

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