Dinner with Samantha Sotto

After I finished reading Before Ever After, I immediately requested an interview with author Samantha Sotto, because I enjoyed the novel so much.

I’m glad her crazy week had room for me, because it was such a pleasure to meet her!

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Halloween Roundup!

Halloween’s coming up, so I’ve been pulling down the scary reads from my TBR shelves. I’ve been alternating novels and picture books since the month started (and Pillars of the Earth in between!), and I’m having a lot of fun scaring myself with these Superhero costumes.

Here’s a (mostly) picture book roundup, with the following books: Faust, The Dark Goodbye, The Diary of Victor Frankenstein, Les Fantomes a la Cave, The Book that Eats People, The Wolves in the Walls, Kate Culhane: A Ghost Story, Eccentric Epitaphs, and The Canterville Ghost, books #139-147 for 2010.

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Guest Blog: Welski meets Gaiman

Neil Gaiman was over here last week, to the delight of his legion of fans from all over the metro. While I enjoyed The Graveyard Book immensely, I must say I have yet to acquire the taste for his other works.  I’m not a big Gaiman fan so I’ve decided to leave the blogging to one real Gaiman fangirl — Welski, a book club friend from FFP, guest blogging from Bookerella the Enchanted.

I’m actually envious of her fan girl experience. I wish I was a Gaiman fan — he’s over here quite a lot, and there have been a lot of opportunities for fan encounters. I’ve never had a favorite writer (or illustrator for that matter) of mine visit the country for a tour.

Read on for the highlights of Welski’s story (copyediting and comments in blue mine).

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2009 Newbery Medal: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I would be the first to admit that I’m no Neil Gaiman fan (I find his books to be an acquired taste), but The Graveyard Book is one of the best books I read last year, and I’m glad it won the Newbery Award.

The story unfolds in a house at the foot of a hill, where a family has just been murdered. The cold-blooded killer methodically executes the sleeping family, except for one – the toddler, who manages to escape his family’s fate as he crawled out of his crib, up the hill, and into an unlikely refuge: a graveyard.

The book pays tribute to Kipling’s The Jungle Book, where Mowgli is raised by wolves in the jungle. In a similar fashion, The Graveyard Book tells the story of finding love and family in an unexpected place: the toddler, who grows up to be Nobody “Bod” Owens is raised by the graveyard ghosts and the mysterious caretaker Silas.

Bod finds plenty of room to grow within the graveyard, but the soon longs for the the world of flesh and blood. Little does he know that his life is still in danger, as the man who killed his family has been waiting thirteen years to finish the heinous task.

The book is a bit like a slightly more sinister version of Eva Ibbotson’s books, which usually have ghosts in them. I loved the characters in this book: they’re quirky and humorous and endearing. Other than Bod, my favorites are Silas (who reminds me of my favorite HP character Severus Snape) and Miss Lupescu, who turn out to be more than meets the eye.

The highlight of the book for me was the danse macabre, because it perfectly expressed the book’s major theme: the juxtaposition of life and death, and the celebration of both.

Of course, Dave McKean’s two-tone illustrations deserve special mention, underscoring the eerie atmosphere they helped create for the entirety of the novel.

Neil Gaiman announced on The Today Show that a film adaptation is in the works; that should be something to watch out for.

Perhaps I shall read another Gaiman book after all. I do hope this has a sequel.

***

(images from www.thegraveyardbook.com)

My copy: US trade paperback (harr, the UK edition looks much better)

My rating: 5/5 stars

MirrorMask by Neil Gaiman/ Dave McKean

(The review pertains to the film, but I’m posting it because I have the film book :) )

I have to say that I loved MirrorMask! And since I’m not a Gaiman fan, and I’m very selective on fantasy (I’m really not big into the hardcore stuff), this is saying a lot.

The movie has Dave McKean written all over it; it’s like a picture book brought to life. It’s dark, with a bit of The Nightmare Before Christmas feel to it, only with a Dave McKean look, and it’s funny and creepy and weird all at the same time.

The story is simple enough; any more complicated than that and it’ll overpower the animation and effects. It’s about Helena, a 15 year old girl in a family of circus entertainers, who often wishes she could run off and join real life. After a fight with her parents about her future plans, her mother falls quite ill and Helena is convinced that it is all her fault. On the eve of her mother’s major surgery, she dreams that she is in a strange world with two opposing queens, bizarre creatures, and masked inhabitants. All is not well in this new world – the white queen has fallen ill and can only be restored by the MirrorMask, and it’s up to Helena to find it. But as her adventures continue, she begins to wonder whether she’s in a dream, or something far more sinister.

It’s a very visual movie; there is a lot to take in, as it’s a world unfamiliar to the viewer; but it’s enhanced by the emotion of the story, and the mirror motif is further enhanced by the mirroring of events in the real world (Helena’s real life as she’s replaced by the mirror-self) and the fantasy world.

It’s similar to Coraline, which is similar to one Are You Afraid of the Dark books I read ages ago (only it was better than Coraline).

I don’t know if it was shown here in the Philippines though; it’s dated 2005. I just discovered I had the DVD when Trina told me it was really good. It’s the sort of thing I’d shell out several hundred bucks for to watch over and over again, once for the overall impact, and several times more to catch the nuances… Dave McKean is sooo amazing; I even caught a scene where two hands touching each other looked like Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, I don’t know if that was intentional, but it’s still pure genius.

You just have to watch this.

***
My copy: A squarish hardbound book with dustjacket, the Children’s edition of the film book. Mooched from Canada last year.

My rating: 5/5 stars

photo courtesy of Amazon (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DPC2HMNXL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

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