Thursday, January 3, 2013

Neil Gaiman 'Smoke and Mirrors' Book Review

"Half of the stories I loved, but the rest I'm not sure about"

I'm a Neil Gaiman fan, and I am three quarters of the way through his book - Smoke and Mirrors. 'A collection of short stories'. And for any one interested, so far about half are pretty good (A few I've read at least 6 times again, three of them I loved), but the rest are a bit iffy. Bordering on disappointing.

Sometimes the stories are coincidently about a "writer" or something similar. Which makes me think that some of these stories were never really meant to be read by any one else but Gaiman. Others I think are possible experimentations Which Gaiman was hopeful about but in practise I just don't know about. So sometimes I wonder a bit why they were published. But maybe I just don't see what others might see in those stories.

The most striking resemblance to Gaiman, being "The goldfish pool and other stories" A story about an English Author who's novel was optioned for the screen, and came to holly wood to write the script. An obvious inspiration from his own film adaptations. The story shows the "Hollywood experience" but from the stand point of within reality, measured up against the "dream" that holly wood is supposed to be. Both on and off screen And how sometimes its the worst place to be if you love films and not film making.

But even so, it has one of my favourite short stories, I've read it at least seven times and enjoyed keeping the familiar weight of the book in my satchel as I walk around. Simply because I love that short story, and I rarely like a short story enough to say I love it.

The second one I love being "Only the end of the World again" A Hp Lovecraftian, Werewolf story by the sea. Its about a Man who happens to be a werewolf, who's new in town and has just reverted from a change. No point in saying anything more than that, accept it includes unrestrained werewolf violence, a weird "quiet" folklore ridden town, and other developments from curious dark people with mysterious origins.

But I must admit, that I might be wrong about the disappointing parts of the book, I haven't finished it yet. There's a bunch of stories that still need reading.

So for me personally, I would buy it just for those stories. But I'm a bibliophile. For any one else, if you like/love Gaiman's stuff, or if you like Great Fantasy that sometimes has a soupcon of cool perversity (Which is basically the same thing) then buy it just for the those great stories, or at least borrow it.

Book Review for "A Christmas Gift"

Book Review for: A Christmas Wish
Written by: Diane Craver
Whimsical Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-936167-33-3
Available in Print & eBook
5 Stars
"A Christmas Gift" embodies the feel-good atmosphere of the season that will tug on your heartstrings. Seven year-old Debra Reeves is a precocious young girl who makes a surprising discovery regarding her father. Will that discovery inspire or hinder her father's determination?
The story is set in 1957 in a small town called Finley, Ohio. The Reeves run a farm. Debby is the youngest daughter. There's Kathy who is fourteen, Gail who is in her twenties, and Carl is twenty-one. Debby's parents are in their fifties. They're a hard working couple. The community is small, but supportive of each other.
Debby's family is close. One night when Debbie gets up, she discovers her father is in the kitchen, copying off her reader. She stays hidden, but realizes her father doesn't know how to read.
Debby wants to help her father, but is unsure what to do. After careful consideration, she confides in her sisters, Gail and Kathy. After talking to their mother, she confirms Debby's father can't read.
Debby prays to God. Her heartfelt prayers seem answered when a handsome young teacher comes to town. His name is James. After meeting James, Debby is convinced he's a perfect fit for her family.
Bravely, Debby confronts her father about his inability to read, and encourages him to accept James help. Does Debby's father have the strength and courage to tackle this challenge at this point in his life?
Craver handles this story with a smooth touch and loving caress. "A Christmas Gift" tugs on the reader's heart. There's a veryl strong element of faith and family that shines throughout the novel.
The plot flows organically. The first person narration is well done and Craver captures the voice of a seven-year-old effortlessly, putting the reader right in the scenes next to Debby. Craver's authentic descriptions and dialogue allow the reader to picture Finley, Ohio easily.
The novel's rich characterization is the best part of the story. Debby is warm-hearted, yet a bit mischievous. She's also honest and sincere. Debby's father's determination to overcome a challenge is inspiring, but what I really enjoyed is that the story involves the entire family. I especially liked Gail's story. She has a second change at love, but will she take it? Does Carl possess the conviction to change the course of his life? Will Kathy overcome the handicap of polio?
"A Christmas Gift" is an inspirational fiction. It embodies the hope, faith, love, and joy of the season. An emotional and engaging read!

Great Book Gifts For Your Jewish Friends - Inspirational Fiction Book Review

Do you have a Jewish friend and unsure what to get them; are you from a Jewish family and want to get something really smart as a gift? Well, then boy have I got a book idea for you:

"The Big Kahn - A Fake Holy Man's 40-year Lie" By Neil Kleid and Nicholas Cinquegrani; Nantier Bealle Minoustchine Publishing, Inc; Los Angeles, CA; ISBN 978-1-56163-561-0.

This is a great story, as it turns out a Jewish Rabbi, David Kahn, was never Jewish at all, and he never even knew it during his life time. Turns out the Rabbi's brother breaks the news to everyone and his family at the Rabbi's funeral and to the entire congregation. And what follows is a story that once you start reading you will not be able to put it down. If you are Jewish you will be quite amused at this book and will completely enjoy it and wish to pass in onto friends and family as a gift.

Speaking of great books for your Jewish friends Neil Kleid has also written another very good book, this time with co-author Jake Allen. It's called; "The Jewish Gangster" (ISBN 978-1-56163-459-X) and it is a great story, one which will suck you in and another book you are not going to be able to put down, as it is witty, moving, and intelligently written as well.

And you'll even learn about Brooklyn's Brownsville Neighborhood as well. Indeed, I am going to recommend you buy both of these books. Well, I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I.

Fiction Review: 'The Shame Of What We Are' By Sam Gridley

When readers first meet Art Dennison, the preteen is waking up in a hospital, though readers won't discover why for many chapters. In the next chapter, Art is only four years old. Exploring an abandoned lot where a house has been demolished, he climbs a pile of broken windows and gashes his leg. Starting with that scar, Art has a hard time distinguishing between wounds self-inflicted and otherwise. He is, in some ways, wiser than his college dropout mother and engineer father, even at that age. He detects their strangeness and distance from him early on.

He's also aware of his own eccentricities. The loss of blood at age four left him feeling lightheaded, and somehow Art senses the feeling never really went away. He'll never understand his "difficult" baby sister Katie or quite fit in with any of his peers. At one point, he lives across the road from a glorious California beach for weeks without ever realizing the water and sand are there.

Art Dennison has a quirky sense of humor. It grows with him as he ages to a high school senior by the end of the book. His tale can be humorous, though the humor often takes a poignant turn. Like the tale of Laika, the little dog with the white streak on her muzzle whose life was sacrificed in the interest of space exploration, Art's survival in his parents' bizarre 1950s world is both inspirational and sad.

Sam Gridley calls 'The Shame of What We Are' "a novel in pieces." The subtitle describes the way Gridley wrote it. Chapters appeared as independent short stories in the literary magazines Amarillo Bay, Juked, Quay and Superstition Review. Still, it never reads like a collection of short stories. This is a unified novel, with hints of what's to come in the earliest chapters, speaking to Gridley's ability to imagine Art Dennison's world in all its sticky, sunlit detail.