Fantasy · Fiction · Julia P · Quick Read! · SCC Nook Book

The Ocean at the End of the Lane | by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
(William Morrow, 2013, 192 pages)

I actually read this book last year and wasn’t wowed by it because it wasn’t at all what I’d expected. Then it was selected as a book club read for a new group I’m part of so I decided to give it another chance and I’m really glad I did. Coming into it with an understanding of what it was supposed to be helped me appreciate the story and Gaiman’s writing on a level I hadn’t before.

I’ll leave you with a summary of the book from Goodreads:

“Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, 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, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

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.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.”

Feel free to check out my previous review (which also links back to another review of the book by Sadie). Just know that having an understanding of the intention behind the book led to a much more enjoyable and immersive reading experience for me.

In the Library · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Sadie J · SCC Nook Book

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail | by Cheryl Strayed


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
(Alfred A. Knopf, 2012, 338 pages)

Cheryl Strayed’s life is in pieces. In a matter of four years her mother suddenly passes away from cancer, she has little contact with her remaining family, she destroyed her marriage by her infidelities, and oh she’s started to use heroin. She knows her life is a mess and she needs to do something drastic to get back to her true self and roots. When she becomes inspired by a guide book to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, she decides that is exactly what she needs. With little hiking skills and completely unprepared for life on the trail, Cheryl sets out to face the unexpected alone and to fill the gaping hole in her heart.

It seems I’ve had this on my to-read list forever and when I started to hear buzz about the movie coming out in December, I knew it was time to pick it up. Before I started reading I read some reviews that stated she got what she deserved because she was the cause of her life being such a mess. While it’s mostly true that a lot of her life unraveling was her fault, it’s also inspiring that she took a step back and realized she needed to do something drastic or her life wasn’t going to get better. Everyone makes mistakes, even really big life altering mistakes. Plus I loved how she intertwined her story of life on the PCT with her past life tales. I thought the read was going to drag because of the hiking storyline but I was surprised with how fast I flew through this.

Audiobook · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Page-Turner · SCC Nook Book · Science Fiction

World War Z | by Max Brooks

World War Z

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
(Crown, 2006, 342 pages)

Thanks to the perks of MOBIUS I was able to request this particular audiobook version which has the book narrated by a full cast. I was just curious to give it a try because normally this isn’t a book I’d pick up. World War Z is broken up into different phases of looking at the “zombie war” – from the early warnings to panic to total war. In each section the reader is presented with interviews from people around the world giving their personal experience of what life was like as the zombies took over. It wasn’t overly gruesome which I appreciated, it was more that Brooks made this fictionalized event sound so real and I was impressed at how much it drew me in. I’m curious enough that I might even check out the movie with Brad Pitt, even though I heard it’s drastically different from the book.

Even if zombies aren’t your thing I’d recommend this title if you’re looking for something different that addresses the world of zombies without giving in to the blood and gore typically associated with the living dead. It’s more about how people respond to new, stressful, and chaotic situations and whether or not it’s possible to hold on to your humanity. This was a good read, and I’d certainly recommend listening to this particular audiobook with the full cast – it offers a unique and well-rounded listening experience.

Fantasy · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Quick Read! · SCC Nook Book

The Ocean at the End of the Lane | by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
(William Morrow, 2013, 192 pages)

It was funny when Sadie submitted her review for this same book a few weeks ago because I had just recently brought it home from the library (ahh, great minds). I think she had a greater appreciation for the book than I did, but it was certainly a unique read.

Our unnamed narrator has returned to his hometown after coming in for a funeral. He finds himself at the Hempstock farm, a place just down the lane from his childhood home where the Hempstock women lived. His close friend, Lettie, played a very significant role in his life as a child. In addition to being his friend, she was his protector in a way.

Around the back of the Hempstock household there is a path that leads to a small duck pond, but Lettie always referred to this pond as her ocean. The narrator sits here and is suddenly transported to his youth and all the things he went through with Lettie. It’s as if he’d forgotten all of it and it only came rushing back now that he is here in this safe place that will always remind him of this young girl from his past.

A key event in his memory that ended up serving as the catalyst for Lettie and the narrator’s friendship was the suicide of a boarder who had been staying in the narrator’s house. This set off a chain of events, forever linking the two friends.

I think I expected more from this book so it ended up being a bit of a letdown for me. I also feel like, despite this being marketed as an adult book, it would certainly be accessible to young adults. A quick read, but not what I expected.

Fantasy · Fiction · In the Library · Sadie J · SCC Nook Book

The Ocean at the End of the Lane | by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
(William Morrow, 2013, 192 pages)

As the older narrator returns to his childhood neighborhood to attend a funeral, he finds himself driving to the farm at the end of the lane where his childhood friend used to live before she moved to Australia. As he sits in front of the farm’s pond, or “Lettie’s ocean” as she used to call it, he is brought back to his childhood and his strange adventures with Lettie.

I wish there was more I could say about the synopsis of the novel but it’s so weird and imaginative that it’s hard to explain. Gaiman’s dream-like story is so wonderfully written that I didn’t even notice the narrator never revealed his name until I started writing my review. The adventures that Lettie and the narrator have are linked in a way that builds the story until the very end. My favorite part was how Gaiman slowly spun the narrator back out into his real life after revisiting his childhood. It was really a wonderfully weird read.

Fiction · In the Library · Sadie J · SCC Nook Book

The Silver Linings Playbook | by Matthew Quick

The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008, 304 pages)

Pat Peoples is desperate for a happy ending and this movie of his life to end so “apart time” can be over with his wife, Nikki. After his mother gets him released from the mental institution, he believes he is closer to that happy ending. But the more time he spends back at home, the more he learns about what has happened while he’s been away. He can’t remember what happened to land him at the institution and started the “apart time” but everyone tiptoes around the subject. When Pat is introduced to Tiffany she offers a way to communicate with Nikki, but only if he gives up watching his beloved Eagles football and competes in an annual dance competition. Things might be finally looking up for Pat.

I really loved this movie and since Oscar season is in full swing, I decided to read the book. I think this might be one of the only times I’m glad I watched the movie first and read the book second. The movie had such a hopeful ending and the book didn’t give me the same feeling. Also, in the movie Pat clearly states he was diagnosed as bipolar so I assumed it was the same in the book. But the whole time I kept thinking this doesn’t seem like he’s bipolar and I never realized that they never said Pat was bipolar in the book so it could actually be something else. So that just threw me off, but I would read another of Quick’s books and did enjoy his writing style.

You can also check out Angie’s review of the book.