The Neil Gaiman Reader

Neil GaimanI am doing something I thought I would never do. Today, I am recommending a book I have not yet read. This sounds counter-intuitive and perhaps a bit wrong, but I actually have several reasons to recommend it. The book is The Neil Gaiman Reader by, as you may guess, Neil Gaiman.

I’ve read a decent amount of Neil Gaiman’s work and this book is a collection of 52 stories. A handful are excerpts from a few of his books. I have read several of his books and a few collections of short stories, so technically I have read a good amount of what is in this book from previous collections.

The four excerpts are from Stardust, American Gods, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I have read all but Neverwhere and Anansi Boys and they are both on my list of books to read (both books are on my shelf and just a few of many that I have yet to get to).

This book was released just recently, which is one reason I have yet to read it, but it is an excellent volume that is great for anyone who has never read Neil’s work and wants to try it out. It is also an essential for any diehard Gaiman fans.

Since this book is ideal for those who have never read him before, I figured it was okay for me to recommend it for that reason. Of course, those who are already fans don’t need any recommendations of his work from me. They already know what they like. I know what works of his I like, having read several already, and I know which ones I want to check out next when I get to them. In fact, I’ve been considering reading Coraline soon as I haven’t read it yet and it is that time of year for spooky reads. It is also a shorter work that fits into my currently busy schedule.

So, if you have ever been interested in trying Neil Gaiman’s work, perhaps this is the prime opportunity for you to do so. You can always check your local library if you don’t want to make a purchase, or you can perhaps borrow a copy from that friend who has been bugging you to try anything by Neil Gaiman.

Happy Reading.

Every Tool’s A Hammer

Every Tool's A HammerEvery Tool’s A Hammer: Life Is What You Make It by Adam Savage is a biographically centered love letter to making. More generally, creating. Though he focuses mainly on crafting things like movie props, cosplay armor, and mechanisms used in commercials or movies, much of what he discusses can be applied to any craft. To put it simply, seeing his enthusiasm for making will inspire you to create whatever it is you may be waiting to make.

This book came out just last year (2019) and my interest primarily comes from the fact that I watched Adam on Mythbusters when I was growing up. By growing up, I mean while I was in high school. I loved the show because they were testing a lot of movie myths and pretty much confirming or denying the plausibility of what we thought we knew or were led to believe. I’ve always loved movies and around that time I was really into the sciences and wanted to know more about how things worked. The show was fun, nerdy, entertaining, and informative. Everything I was looking for and now I really want to go back and rewatch some episodes.

I listened to the audiobook as read by Adam Savage himself. It is mixture of autobiography and craft similar to Stephen King’s book On Writing except about building instead of writing. It was interesting to get more information about Adam as well as several behind-the-scenes stories about his time on Mythbusters or working on Star Wars while working at Industrial Light & Magic. We get to see how his career developed and evolved and we get to learn about how seemingly wondrous things were made simply out of passion and basic materials.

This book is not only about making or building, it is also about Adam’s journey to self-understanding. Through his years, he learned vital lessons about the craft but also about his own behavior and preferences when working on his craft and with his team or colleagues. He discusses his failures and successes. One early failure proved a vital lesson to him that I think everyone needs to be reminded of from time to time; it is okay to ask for help. On the other end, he delves into things he learned from mentors that helped him influence and manage his own team.

This is, of course, also a book that is great for anyone interested in making their own stuff. Be it a replica of a favorite movie prop or designing a cosplay outfit. He talks about different key components to any maker’s space and use of tools or materials. You can definitely learn a lot, as I did, about making. I have always toyed with the idea of making props for myself but have never followed through. I’m sure I will eventually because that desire is always there.

Again, Adam’s story and information is a great resource for all makers, but also for all creators. His passion is inspirational. His stories are reminders that you don’t necessarily need to know what you are doing to begin a project. Everyone has their own methods, and sometimes knowing your method can make it easier to plan the project to fit your needs. Never lose your spark of creativity. If you can, try to make sure you always have fun along the way.

Happy Reading.

The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games


The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is officially out in the world and it is riveting. There is so much I’d love to say, but I keep these recommendations spoiler-free so I’ll just let the official blurb give you a taste of what to expect.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

When I first started reading, I couldn’t help but compare this book to the movie Knives Out, which I greatly enjoyed, because they have some similarities: the wealthy grandfather who passes away, a will reading, a great cast of suspicious characters who are all family.

But from there it diverges into it’s own, well-constructed world that is the Hawthorne family (and they definitely live in their own world of wealth and mind games). The pacing of this book is excellent. Short chapters and just enough revelations paired with new mysteries make this book an absolute page-turner.

My only gripe (which isn’t really a gripe) is that there are too many mysteries to be contained in this one novel. Or rather, the overarching mystery is too big. That’s right, there will be a sequel and I would be surprised if there is only one. Don’t worry though, you won’t feel cheated in any way. The “game” just extends into a new phase though I’m sure you will be like me and want the sequel right away. Alas, we must wait and let Jennifer Lynn Barnes work her magic for us.

Huge thank you to TheWriteReads for letting me join this blog tour. I can’t imagine a better way of finding new books than following them and the many bloggers promoting great books. Of course, I also need to thank Jennifer Lynn Barnes for writing such a compelling book.

Happy Reading.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me GoI wasn’t going to recommend this book, but there are a few things that have led me to change my mind and this recommendation will be a bit different that any of my previous ones.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is not like anything I’ve really read before. In a way, it seems like a combination of several books I’ve read but with a little something extra (or omitted). This book was released in 2005 and was later adapted into a 2010 film.

Kazuo Ishiguro is a name that came onto my radar several years ago but I had never read any of his work. I can’t recall exactly how I came across his name. It could have been from others talking about his books or the fact he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017, but now that I’m actually trying to recall how his name came to my memory I think it was some association with Neil Gaiman.

However it happened, I knew of him as a respected author and therefore picked up Never Let Me Go from a library book sale simply because I wanted to eventually read some of his work. Ironically enough, I recently finished a book of nonfiction by Margaret Atwood where she actually discussed this very book. I realized I had it on my shelf and it became my next read.

I enjoyed the book because it was well written and it held an underlying mystery throughout that kept you interested in the story. The book technically would fall into a science fiction dystopia category considering the subject matter, but I will get into that a bit later. For now, I will supply a brief summary adapted from the book itself:

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at an exclusive English boarding school called Hailsham. It was a place of mysterious rules. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman and Ruth and Tommy have re-entered her life. She begins to look back at their time at Hailsham and comes to understand how they were special.

As I said, the story is written well and there is enough mystery to keep interest, but it can be considered a bit slow story-wise despite being a fairly quick read being just shy of 300 pages. Here is where this book recommendation goes off my regular pattern. After this paragraph, I will include spoilers so if you want to stop here and enjoy the book yourself, please do so and I bid you happy reading. If you have already read the book or don’t care much about spoilers, then feel free to read ahead. Continue reading

In Other Worlds

In Other WorldsIn Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood includes three previously unpublished lectures, several book reviews, and a few miscellaneous discussions. I would state the core theme of this collection, aside from the obvious one of SF, would be Utopia/Dystopia. These are often labeled as sub-genre of SF and Atwood gives them a unifying name of Ustopia as she argues that every dystopia has elements of utopia and vice-versa.

Her lecture “Dire Cartographies: The Roads to Ustopia” focuses on these themes and goes in depth into her thoughts on them as well as the history of how they became such a popular way of storytelling. Many people consider her novel The Handmaid’s Tale a dystopia. She neither agrees or disagrees, because she argues that everything within the novel could have been found in the world at the time she wrote it in 1984-85.

As with collections like these, and perhaps one of my favorite parts of reading collections, is that I discover books I had never heard of before and which were influential to authors I respect and admire. There were several in this collection I was glad to discover and have added to my ever-growing to-read list. Interestingly enough, many of the books mentioned in this collection that I hadn’t known were written in the late 1800s. She also has a few, fun sections about H.G. Wells.

Atwood discusses how she first became a fan of SF, which started as a young, voracious reader who would read anything and everything she could when such materials were sparse during the second World War. She often created her own fictional characters and adventures during this time. Thus begins the life of a writer.

There are a few shorter discussions near the end of this collection that comment on the covers of the SF magazine Weird Tales during the 1930s and beyond. She lightly delves into the known history of SF using stereotypical male and female images and plots. Many of which are the stories that failed to endure. Speaking of covers, the cover of this book surprised me a bit. The more I look at it the more confused/intrigued I become.

This book is dedicated to Ursula K. Le Guin, who has argued that Atwood actively tried to not label her works as SF despite the fact they contain primarily SF elements. I don’t think this is a dig or critique by either author. It seems like they had a large amount of respect for each other. I honestly wonder what type of relationship they had, if they had a personal relationship at all or if it was merely professional. I may look into this at some point as they are both talented authors who have created amazing works while persevering through a time when SF wasn’t considered literature (the argument is still ongoing) and when there were little-to-no women who were writing SF. I believe they have both become larger-than-life figures and an inspiration to many people around the world.

I know collections such as these aren’t usually a typical read for many people, but I think this one would be fun for anyone interested in the subject of SF or are fans of Atwood. The nice thing about collections is the ease of reading. You can pick them up and read one or several and put it down. Perhaps you’ll give this one a try.

Happy Reading.