[Book Talk] The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

the-boundlessBook Details:

Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Read: January 2017

Synopsis:

All aboard for an action-packed escapade from the internationally bestselling author of Airborne and the Silverwing trilogy.

The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

My Thoughts

I remember buying this book not only because it was by Canadian author, Kenneth Oppel, but also because it was absolutely beautiful! My son loved looking at this book while I read it because it features a train on the gorgeous cover, as well as a train on the inside of the front and back covers. I loved the book because it had a built in bookmark. How do all books not have this already? It was genius! I had to train myself to use a bookmark once I finished and started my next book which, sadly, did NOT have a built in bookmark.

Anyway, this was a lot of fun, though my attention did wander while reading it. I’m not sure what it was but I just wasn’t totally invested in reading this book. I did enjoy the story, with the train, the circus, the adventure; but when I put it down I was clamouring for something else to read. The one thing I really did love was its focus on Canada and the history of the railroad in Canada. I have not only traveled on our VIA Rail, but also went to an IMAX presentation of the Canadian Railway and it was absolutely fascinating. As I read this book, I wanted to see if I could find that IMAX video to watch because really, who doesn’t love trains?

I think my issues with this book were only slightly with the writing (which seemed different from his previous series I had read) but also with the age it was targeted to. I love a good middle grade book, but I guess they just can’t hold my interest now. However, this was still a fun adventure and an interesting read. It made me long to take a train ride through the Canadian rockies and prairies! And it’s going to be so pretty on my shelf, too.

[Book Talk] Trigger Warning: Short Fictions And Disturbances by Neil Gaiman (Audiobook)

trigger warningBook Details:

Format: Audiobook
Source: Borrowed
Listened: August 2016

Synopsis:

Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things–which includes a never-before published American Gods story, “Black Dog,” written exclusively for this volume.

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.

My Thoughts

For years and years now I’ve considered myself to be a fan of Neil Gaiman. It all started back in the late 90’s when I was working at a local drug store. We’d get in a selection of paperback novels to sell along with the magazines and one day Stardust was among them. I remember being interested by it and eventually bought myself a copy. I fell in love instantly and declared that book my absolute favourite – quite fitting since I literally could not put it down. I read it wherever I was and tried to figure out how I could read it while doing whatever I was doing, whether or not reading was something you did while doing whatever it was I was doing. Since then I had read the story and read it again, listened to the audiobook, seen the movie – and I’ve read more of Neil Gaiman’s work, tried following his career, and so on and so forth.

My Neil Gaiman shelf at home is getting more and more packed as I pick up a new book of his here and there. It’s hard to keep on top of him since he has so much material and I don’t want to be that person who just buys things and never reads them, but eventually that’s what I’ve turned into. So, it’s been my mission lately to try and read all the Neil Gaiman I have on my shelf, whether it’s once a month or once every six months, just try and get through it all and experience all he has to offer.

Trigger Warning was released last year and I just had to buy a copy, even though I still own an unread copy of Smoke And Mirrors, Neil’s first collection of short stories. I completely gobbled up this collection, thus declaring my old self not quite ready for short stories, which is why I’m pretty sure I never read his previous collection or the one before that. I mean, I read a few stories in the books, but I never felt inclined to just breeze through them like I did this one. I started listening to the audiobook since I had seen it on Hoopla. In fact, I didn’t even intend to listen to this book but when I had gotten into my car one day I realized that I hadn’t downloaded my current audiobook listen onto my phone so I panicked, since one should always have an audiobook to listen to in the car, and quickly browsed through Hoopla to find something since I could listen to it using mobile data. I came across one title of Neil’s that wasn’t available and then saw this one and immediately thought that short stories would be a good idea since I could listen to a story here or there rather than devote large chunks of time to the book at once.

Or I could just read the whole thing in a few sittings, which is what I did.

I loved these stories. Sure, some of them weren’t my favourite and I’m sure some went over my head, but there were quite a few that I absolutely adored. My favourites include Making a Chair, The Thing About Cassandra, Adventure Story (the pteradactyls!), the July and October story in A Calendar of Tales (seriously, the one with the genie is awesome!), The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury (I loved this one since I’m a mom who’s CONSTANTLY forgetting normal words – and in the same sense, I fear forgetting things as I grow older), Click-Clack the Rattlebag (I’ve listened to this one a few times and always love it. It’s short and so super spooky!), Nothing O’Clock (I’m not the biggest fan of the 11th Doctor, but this was a great story. Kind of made me want to pick up the collection of stories this story was written for.), and Feminine Endings (ADORED this one. It’s one of those psychologically creepy stories with a real hit at the end.). Others were great, too, but these were my absolute favourites. I would say my least favourite stories in the collection would probably be the Sherlock Holmes one and The Sleeper And The Spindle (which I had read before and was just so so about).

Pretty much right when I started listening, I fell in love with Neil’s voice (as I usually do) and as he talked about the different stories, I wondered how one would go about talking to Neil about mundane things, like picking up a gallon of milk, or telling him to put his socks in the laundry basket. His stories are so twisted and dark that I wonder what he dreams about or what he talks about in conversation, since I really only know him through his stories. He’s the kind of writer who makes me love writers, the kind of writer who makes me gaze upon writers with awe, wondering how they manage to craft such interesting stories that suck us readers in, making us want more and more. The instant I finished listening, I knew I had to really catch up on more of my Neil Gaiman reading and I fully intend to! And I really look forward to reading more of the story collections of his because I really think they are the best.

[Book Talk] Harry Potter & the Cursed Child (Harry Potter, #8) by J. K. Rowling

The Cursed ChildBook Details

Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Read: July 2016

Harry Potter series

  1. Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone
  2. Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire
  5. Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix
  6. Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince
  7. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows
  8. Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

Synopsis:

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My Thoughts

I find it so funny that my first post with book thoughts on the blog after coming back after a long, long time, would be thoughts about the latest Harry Potter. The thing is, I wasn’t always a reader. It was just before university that I realized I loved reading (though I never did read as voraciously as I have in these past years). I was an English minor and I steered towards the classes that had me reading, anything from short stories to children’s literature to some of the most well-known books in the world. And I loved it!

It was in university that I discovered Harry Potter. A friend of mine had been reading the books and I remember making fun of her for it. I mean, they were kids’ books! Who read kids’ books? I believe she was on the third book in the series when I finally picked it up myself. Boy, did I feel bad for making fun of my friend! These books were awesome!

I remember waiting patiently for the next books to come out and when I got my hands on them, I’d carry them with me everywhere. Waiting for something to heat up in the microwave? Read the book! Waiting for a phone call? Read the book! Waiting for someone to get out of the bathroom? Read the book! Seriously, if I had any kind of free time, be it 10 seconds or an hour, I couldn’t get enough. I had to get through these books and figure out what happened to Harry and his friends!

I believe that’s what got me into reading books that were written for a younger audience. I stopped being such a snob and praised people for reading anything, instead of scolding them for what I thought they should be reading. (Of course, I didn’t naturally dive into reading all matters of middle grade and YA after that – Twilight takes the credit for that course in my reading history – but that’s another story)

ANYWAY, I was a bit on the fence about reading this particular book, the final book in the Harry Potter series. First off, I wondered if it would be just as exciting as reading the previous books. And second, could I handle reading a play? I had only read Shakespeare plays and with those I usually read them with the audiobook playing in the background just so I could better understand what was going on. The fact that this was a play was definitely something that made me NOT want to buy this book, but then nostalgia had the better of me. I realized that my Harry Potter collection was starting to grow, with special edition books and beautiful illustrated hardcovers. I knew that I needed this book in my collection!

So I bought it. And then when I realized that my preorder would ship to me at least three days after the release, I bought it again as a digital copy. And I devoured it in one day! My husband was making fun of me for wandering around with my iPad but I had to finish the story. I loved that I had all the feels as I started reading the story, meeting all the old friends – Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I loved all the throwbacks to the old series as Harry’s son started at Hogwarts. I loved the action and the time traveling and the finality of the story by the end.

The only thing that was hard to get past was the play part – there was a serious lack of detail that really had to be made up in my head. Having been in the world through books and movies, though, that wasn’t hard. It was easy to imagine the beautiful witch and wizard robes and the spark of power around the incantations of spells. And it really wasn’t hard to picture all of these characters in my head and the friendship they all had. By the end, it didn’t feel like I was reading a play at all!

This was a wonderful, nostalgic trip and even though I’m in my mid-thirties I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Upon finishing, I wondered when I would be able to start reading the books to my children, to get them as excited about this particular world as I am. Harry Potter is definitely one of those stories that will live on forever!