Tag Archives: #Courage

Gaiman, Neil: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013)

Thank you, to my sister-in-law for giving me a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

In December, right before I turned seven my family moved from Australia to Norway. One of my memories tied to that move is stepping outside the plane into the middle of Norwegian winter. Moving was not something I wanted, and winter did not help.

Soon I was driving slowly, bumpily, down a narrow lane with brambles and briar roses on each side, wherever the edge was not a stand of hazels or a wild hedgerow. It felt like I had driven back in time. That lane was how I remembered it, when nothing else was.

Memory can be triggered by scent, sound and sight. All of a sudden you find yourself re-visiting a time you had forgotten. Neurons spark neurons and whatever filing system you have going for you opens a memory file.

If you’d asked me an hour before, I would have said no, I did not remember the way. I do not even think I would have remembered Lettie Hempstock’s name. But standing in the hallway, it was all coming back to me. Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me. Had you told me that I was seven again, I might have half believed you, for a moment.

As others have mentioned, we never discover what the name of the main character is. For the most part he is called “the boy”, and that is how I think of him. Neil Gaiman’s statement that the story is meant for adults fits my feeling while reading the book. There is enough terror (not violent) for a younger audience to enjoy it as well.

At seven years of age, children have little say in their lives. Moving to Norway was not my choice. Nor does the boy have much influence on his own life. There are a few episodes that illustrate this. To me, the episode with the cat stands out the most. Utter disregard of the possibility that the boy might be devastated shocked me. Yet, looking back at my own life, children were presumably fine with whatever the adults chose. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, adults are judged more believable than the boy. So it is when I look around at the parts of the world I have encountered. My Asperger brain is completely baffled by this phenomenon. When the boy’s enemy states

“And what can you say to her that will make any difference? She backs up your father in everything, doesn’t she.”

I am reminded of many family situations that have crossed my life-path. No matter what one parent does or says, they have the backing of the other. Utterly incomprehensible.

Being without power to decide anything about their lives is something children come to semi-accept. At the same time there is a continuous battle between adults and children to have the ability to decide. We see some of that in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The boy does not give in to the powers that be, although it might, at first, seem that way to the adults.

The Hempstock women became a safe haven for the boy. For me that is hilarious because some of the most dangerous episodes happen while together with one of them. But they sought to protect him and make his life safer by fighting for him with the means at their disposal. These means aren’t exactly regular ones.

I loved the Hempstock women. I want to be like the Hempstock women.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


The Ocean at the End of the Lane can be found at biblio.com


Adaptations:


Trivia:


Translations:

Pratchett, Terry: Choosing to die (2009)

Terry Pratchett
Sir Terry Pratchett

For me Terry Pratchett is the man. Discworld was my first meeting with him. Since then I have gotten to know him better through his cooperative work with other authors. This way he has spread my knowledge of other authors and interest in other types of science fiction and fantasy.

On his website I eventually discovered that Pratchett has developed Alzheimer’s disease. My parents now have friends who have had Alzheimer for quite a while and I have gotten to see some of the effect of that disease. They have also shared with me how these individuals show the symptoms of Alzheimer and how the person they knew disappears slowly but surely.

As late as 2014 May 13 Terry Pratchett writes the article Those of us with dementia need a little help from our friends in The Guardian. He has been able to place a rather famous face in the Alzheimer camp supporting the cause with both words and money for research.

Due to the nature of the disease Terry Pratchett has quite naturally had many thoughts about how it is going to affect him. When will the moment come when his ability to make choices for himself disappear?

BBC’s documentary Choosing to Die with Terry Pratchett is bound to make an impression on the viewer. I was touched by it and remained thoughtful a long time after viewing it.

Alzheimer’s is very definitely not the only disease that has a terrible progression. In Choosing to Die we get to meet two people who are choosing to die before their body gives in on its own to MS and ALS. My own thoughts on the matter are that I would very much like to choose to die rather than have to endure an awful ending.

The film seems to have disappeared from the net.


  • 2011 winner for Best Single Documentary at the British Academy Scottish Awards
  • 2011 winner for Best Single Documentary at the Royal Television Society awards
  • 2011 winner for General Education Broadcast Award
  • 2014 July 2: The embuggerance is catching up with me

Dale, Anna: Dawn Undercover (2005)

Dawn Undercover - Japanese cover
Japanese cover: “The katakana is translated as “supai chiisai onna don bakkaru”, literally “Spy Girl Dawn Buckle”. (Dylan)

Dawn Buckle‘s family is strange. Her father and grand-father could be Aspergers with the keen interest they have in their respective hobbies: wall-clocks and game-shows. Dawn’s mother always has such a lot of work she must do. When the S.H.H. (Strictly Hush-Hush) ask if Dawn can come work for them during the summer, Dawn’s mother says:

“So Dawn would be out from under my feet … I mean she’d be taken care of for the whole of the summer holidays?

And I thought I was bad. I realize there are a great deal of children who live in homes where they are ignored. What a challenge this must be for the child. For Dawn, the appearance of Emma Cambridge is a gift. Finally, a person who actually notices her.

You see, Dawn Buckle is the kind of girl who seems to be invisible. She could be standing next to you and you would not notice her. She is average looking and has nothing that is extraordinary about her. A lot of us fit into that category. In fact this used to be me. I’m of average looks, like comfortable clothes, am observant, have had various types of stuffed animals and like information. My parents though, well they were a bit more present and would never have let me go off on a P.S.S.T. type of stay – that is unless I had recently gotten myself into trouble.

That is the trouble about us quiet ones. We are often underestimated. As Dawn finds out being underestimated is a bonus in the world of espionage. Just because she is seldom noticed does not mean that Dawn is incapable.

Dawn’s first lesson in spying is that things are not always as they seem. As she and Emma arrive at the headquarters of P.S.S.T. (Pursuit of Scheming Spies and Traitors) Dawn is puzzled:

“Emma opened the front gate, knocking the stalk of a magnificent sunflower. Its heavy head swung to one side, revealing a sign behind it that read “Dampside Hotel”.

Dawn is a prime example of not being what she seems. This is a great example to young boys and girls as to how girls really are. Not all girls but a lot.

For some strange reason, the apparently dead Mundo Meek seems to know too much about what is currently going on inside P.S.S.T. But is he really dead? Therein lies the mystery and the suspense.

Delightful names and acronyms are used by Anna Dale. Ms. Dale has managed to create a story that is exciting, funny, interesting and informative all at the same time. Her proposed age group target of 8-12 years seems appropriate.


Reviews:


  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (2 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747577463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747577461

Angell, Lorena (co-authored by Joshua Angell): The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny (The Unaltered IV)

The Diamond Bearer's Destiny

As with the previous covers for The Unaltered serial (need to read them in order) I really like this cover. As the very good thief I am, I stole a compilation of the three others from Angell’s site:

The unaltered series

Once upon a time a human became Crimson. She was the first human with a jewel inserted into her heart. Then came Mathea and later on others. With the abilities brought on by being Diamond Bearers these people were able to help humanity survive and to look for unaltered people. Unaltereds are the only ones who can become a Diamond Bearer and the only way to be an unaltered is to have no special powers at all. In the world of Calli Courtnae, Chris Harding and the rest just about every person has some degree of super-natural ability.

Then along comes Freedom (Henry) and General Harding (Chris’ father). Sometimes the combination of two people can bring about amazing results. In Freedom and General Harding’s case these results were amazingly destructive for people who have more than a smidgen of power. Trouble looms.

The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny starts off with an information dump that lets Calli know why Chris acted as he did in The Diamond of Freedom. For the length of the novel the info-dump is too long. I like the manner in which it was done – by having Calli read Chris’ memories.

Calli meets Crimson for the first time when she meets up with Chris and ends up reading his memories. Crimson tries to make Calli understand just how important she views the freedom to choose. Crimson’s explanation of her world-view is not too long in and of itself. On top of the information dump it is. Once Angell spread the philosophical moments with action we once again started moving into the action/thrillerish nature of the other three Unaltered novels.

The Unaltered serial is definitely for young adults. Both violence and romance is kept extremely innocent. I think even the strictest parents would allow their children to read this kind of content.

Although Brand doesn’t get to be as fun this time around, he does get to show off a bit. For those who are interested in romance, there is even some of that. Chris and Calli are a bit mushy for me, but then they have been all along. Very few romantic descriptions avoid my mushy label.

I found the consequence for Diamond Bearers who tried to go against nature interesting. Whether Calli stuffing the diamond into Jonas’ chest qualifies as one such action is a worry for Crimson (and Calli once she gets to know how serious something like that is).

In The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny Deus Ex and General Harding’s are both obsessed with having their own diamonds. Both are driven by fear of some other person being more powerful than themselves. Aahhh, the ever-present lure of power.

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My review of:

  1. Diamond in My Pocket
  2. Diamond in My Heart
  3. The Diamond of Freedom

Moeller, Jonathan: Child of the Ghosts (The Ghosts) (2011)

Child of the Ghosts
Cover image copyright JC Design
Photograph: iStockPhoto

Being sold by one’s parents for the use of others is a practice that humans have followed for ages. Caina in Child of the Ghosts is an 11-year-old girl who meets this fate. The circumstances surrounding the sale differ greatly from what most children who are bartered experience, but slavery is slavery.

In the time leading up to Caina’s dire fate we read a novel that could be read to fairly young children. For the main part we see meanness, but meanness is part of the human experience. However, during and after her being handed over to her buyers, Caina’s experiences grow brutal. In spite of a fairly young text, my opinion is that the violence in certain parts ups the age level a bit. I have set it at young adult. Again, my recommendation is for an adult to check out the text before letting your child read it by themselves.

Bloodiness aside, Child of the Ghosts shows a side of parenting that is less than pleasant. Caina’s father is a man wanting to protest his wife’s behavior toward Caina without finding the strength to do so. Caina’s mother is ambitious and willing to do anything to get her way.

Oddly enough, Caina finds stability and security once she ends up with the Ghosts – the monarch’s assassins. They are not the people to whom she was sold, but the Ghosts are the ones she ends up with. Her path from then on is fraught with adventure rather than brutality while she learns what being a Ghost entails.

Like most of the other reviews point out, there are annoying mistakes. I imagine finding someone suited to edit your work while self-publishing can be a feat, but as a reader poor editing lessens my desire to read other works by that author. Child of the Ghosts deserves better.

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Reviews:

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Greenwood, C.: Betrayal of Thieves (Legends of Dimmingwood) (2012)

Betrayal of Thieves
Cover art by Michael Gauss

Once again Ilan has to leave the life she has known so well. Her feelings are conflicted and prickly. With her she tries to bring her mother’s brooch. But Terrac takes it from her. Terrac decides to leave the criminal elements as well. He feels as though he is losing himself, or rather who he had hopes of being (a man of peace).

The Fist had been waiting for suckers to come back and get their stuff at the camp and Ilan and Terrac turned out to be those suckers. Terrac gets captured while Ilan manages to escape.

Ilan and her bow bonded in Magic of Thieves. Its strange qualities and seeming awareness puzzle Ilan and she sets out to find help in figuring out what this magic is all about. If there is one thing I have learned in my long acquaintanceship with fantasy and science fiction it is to be wary of objects that seem to have mysterious powers. They always end up getting you into trouble.

Betrayal of Thieves was a pretty good fantasy read. I like prickly Ilan. I sure would not like to find myself in her position. For some reason I always look for common ground with the characters of the various novels I read. No matter how evil or how good they are, there always seems to be something I can recognize. Ilan and Terrac are just average people and therefore pretty easy to connect with. Terrac’s changes are interesting. Maybe I will continue reading this serial.

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Reviews:


  • File Size: 481 KB
  • Print Length: 181 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1481213229
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ALDFXL2

My review of Magic of Thieves

Giacomo, Jasmine: Oathen (Legend of the Shanallar) (2011)

Oathen
Cover art by Amy Grimwood-Habjan

The end of The Wicked Heroine left Meena in a sticky place. We now discover how she gets out of it. Definitely one of the novel’s high points and humorous at that. If you are a proper young adult you will like the grossness of the scene (especially if you have a good imagination). “… his knife skittered against the blade of a short sword jammed up from below” on the bottom of page 3 sets the tone for the rest of Oathen. Jasmine writes grosse well – an excellent and important quality in an author.

Anjoya Meseer (Geret and Salvor’s language teacher) ends up leaving Salience with Count Runcan for Vint. The two of them have a surprise change of of transportation on the way. Anjoya turns out to be important to the political climate in Vint, so hurrah to her for taking a chance on a change in future.

Then we have the love-triangle/quadrangle of Geret, Sanych, Salvor and Rhona who travel with the returned Meena and the chased Gryme/Kemsil. Talk about messy love. I think this was the bit about Legend of the Shanallar that just didn’t do anything for me, but I am not really a romance reader and definitely not a YA one.

Did Oathen have action. I guess that is one way of putting it. Plenty of action and magic. All of them learn what they are made of and Meena finally gets her heart’s desire fulfilled. I think you could say that Oathen had a happy ending – at least for some of the characters. The others, well you learn to live with the choices you have made. Consequences can suck.

At times the story hiccupped, but that happens. Other than that Oathen was a great YA novel (I think, being 48 and all).


You can find Jasmine Giacomo at Jasmine Giacomo logo  and Facebook-Logo.


The Romance Reviews


My review of The Wicked Heroine