Stacking the Shelves – January 5th

STSmall_thumb[2]_thumbStacking the Shelves is a weekly feature brought to you by Tynga’s Reviews. While I don’t plan on doing these every week, with the holidays comes gift cards, and when you are a bookworm, that means you get a lot of gift cards to Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

This weekend I added Redshirts by John Scalzi and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman to my TBR shelf. I follow both of these authors on Twitter and am big fans of both of them there and, while I’ve read a couple of Neil Gaiman’s books, I had never read anything by John Scalzi. Time to fix that. I’ve heard good things about both of these books and can’t wait to read them.

Any new books this week? Let me know in comments!

A ghost story with a twist . . .

Gearing up for Halloween means reading spooky, scary ghost stories, right? Okay, in my case, not usually. But this one is really, really, really good – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

The story begins with a murder. An entire family is murdered by a man named Jack – all except the youngest boy, a toddler, who manages to crawl out of the house and into a nearby graveyard. Once inside the graveyard, the boy is found by the ghosts that live there who decide to take care of him. They name him “Nobody” and he is adopted by two of the ghosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens. Another mysterious figure, named Silas, agrees to be his guardian and provide for him.

As Bod grows up, he learns a lot about the people buried in the graveyard, but he is almost completely cut off from the normal world. He has a handful of normal friends, most notably a young girl named Scarlett. The trouble is that Bod is the only one who can see the ghosts. He explores the graveyard and surrounding areas, becoming almost like a ghost himself. Throughout the story is the mystery of why “the man Jack” tried to kill Bod. It is clear that Bod is only safe in the graveyard where the ghosts can watch out for him.

This story was very creative. It addressed problems that I would never have thought of. For example, there are a few children of varying ages among the ghosts. Bod plays with one little ghost boy as a child, but Bod grows up. The ghost boy doesn’t. It’s really sad to see how Bod feels about it, how distant he feels from his friend, who is still a child.

Full of mysteries, secret societies, a really creepy creature called the “Sleer,” and a whole host of entertaining ghosts, this story is a great story for Halloween, especially if you don’t want anything too scary. And the illustrations are really fun, too. This book won both the Carnegie Medal and the Newberry Medal, both high awards for Children’s Literature, and there is no question why. It’s awesome.

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it

I’m trying to catch up on reviews for all the books I’ve read. My Goodreads goal was 60 for the year and so far, I’ve read 46. Not too shabby! Today, I will talk about one of the most fun books on my list so far – Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

What can I say about this book? It’s awesome, that’s what! The most fun you could possibly have with the Apocalypse. The story mostly follows two good friends as they find out that the world will be ending on Saturday, just before dinner. Here’s the kicker – the two friends are Aziraphale, an angel with a knack for collecting old books, and Crowley, a demon who didn’t exactly Fall, more like “sauntered vaguely downwards.” They have both lived on Earth for a long time and aren’t really all that excited to see it end. Together they try to figure out how to stop the Apocalypse from happening, all the while trying to avoid being rounded up by the forces of Good and Evil.

And there’s more. The powers that be are trying to work with the Antichrist, a twelve year old boy, but realize that they have found the wrong kid. No one knows that the real Antichrist is hanging out in a small English town with his dog (named Dog) who is really a hellhound. Dog is also enjoying his time on Earth and, because of that, isn’t really doing much to help the Antichrist become all that evil. Then you have the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who show up on motorcycles – Death, Famine, War, and Pollution (Pestilence having retired after the discovery of penicillin). All of these events were foretold by Agnes Nutter, a witch who was killed in 1655, in her book The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter, of which there is only one copy. This copy is in the hands of Agnes’ many-times-great-granddaughter, Anathema, who is trying to follow the prophesies to figure out what to do. She is assisted by Newton Pulsifer, the descendant of the man who had Agnes burned at the stake.

As you can probably guess, this romp gets extremely complicated, but never confusing. All of the plot lines race along to the finale, the showdown, the End of the World – and it is seamless. Normally in stories like this, I feel more connected to one storyline and just skim the others, but not in this case. Everything was told with such humor and wit and snarkiness, I didn’t want to miss a single second. Brilliant writing.