October 14 2021

Sandman volume 6, by Neil Gaiman

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Sandman, by Neil Gaiman

Title: Sandman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre/ issues: Comics. Audiobook. Fantasy/ horror.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Never trust the storyteller. Only trust the story.”
Volume 6 of #Sandman by @neilhimself is one of my favourites. Fables and Reflections aptly conveys what you’ll find in these pages – myths, histories, and religious tales from the Garden of Eden to Ramadan, all woven with the unique magic of the Dreaming and Morpheus. It’s truly a celebration of the power of stories throughout time, culture, and personal experience.
Finishing this volume also brought me to the end of the Sandman audiobook volume 2, which has been breathtaking, and worth every second of the 17 minute long credits that were required to acknowledge all the incredible voice actors who brought it to life.
I mentioned in my last post about this how impressed I was with the changes to the audio script with regards to trans representation, and I was similarly impressed with some of the minor changes made in this section, particularly in Ramadan. There were a few small but significant omissions which made this chapter much more sensitive in terms of racial representation. Did I mention I think that both the audiobook and the comics are incredible? I did? Good.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 170-171/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 13 2021

The Curiousities, by Zana Fraillon and Phil Lesnie

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The Curiousities, by Zana Fraillon and Phil Lesnie

Title: The Curiousities
Author: Zana Fraillon
Illustrator: Phil Lesnie
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Neurodivergence. Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I usually do picture books posts in a set of 3 or 4, but the couple I wanted to share today are worthy of their own posts. The Curiosities by @zanafraillon and @phillesnie is breathtaking. Miro wakes one morning to find that the world is a little different. The Curiosities have chosen to nest on him, and they help him to discover all the marvels that hide in the shadows where no-one looks. Sometimes it’s wonderful, as he explores the world in new and different ways – but sometimes, the shadowy Curiosities that float around him make Miro feel alone and invisible.
There are so many layers to this wonderful book. On the surface, it could be seen as a lovely story about looking at the world differently, but there are myriad beautiful celebrations of disability and diversity, and a strong message about taking pride in who you are and what makes you you. Zana talks in the endnotes about drawing on her family experiences with Tourette syndrome, and about the importance of recognising how differently abled we all are. Phil reflects on the impact of his Filipino heritage on his illustrations, and his musing on how neurodivergence might be different in a world which valued and elevated brain difference, rather than viewed it as an impairment.
A powerful book, told with gentleness, sweetness and sensitivity. This is my favourite picture book of the year.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 169/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 13 2021

There’s a Ghost in This House, by Oliver Jeffers

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There’s a Ghost in This House, by Oliver Jeffers

Title: There’s a Ghost in This House
Author: Oliver Jeffers
Genre/ issues: Picture book

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

What a delightful book! There’s a Ghost in This House by @oliverjeffers takes us on a journey through a house which on the face of it, appears to be largely empty. The young girl who lives there is convinced it’s haunted, but she’s not actually ever seen a ghost. As we turn the pages, though, we get a glimpse of some of her ghostly housemates. Translucent pages add additional layers to the existing beautiful artwork. Did you know that the collective noun for a group of ghosts is “a Fraid of ghosts”? Neither did I, but that’s just one of the joys I discovered in this beautiful picture book. Stunning.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 168/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 11 2021

Locke & Key, by Joe Hill

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Locke & Key, by Joe Hill

Title: Locke & Key
Author: Joe Hill
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Horror. Comic books.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Books are no more than dreams manifested on the page, after all.”
It’s no secret that I love Neil Gaiman’s work, and I’m a big fan of Sandman. When I heard that there was a Locke & Key/ Sandman universe crossover coming, I was a little unsure. I’d not read Locke & Key, and had enjoyed the Netflix series of it, but didn’t quite see it as on the same level of intensity as what I’ve enjoyed so much about the world of Morpheus and the Dreaming. So ordered it anyway, because – well, Sandman.
Yesterday, I finally started reading Locke & Key, and you know what they say – the book is always better. Holy crapballs, are the books better. A breathtaking mix of horror, family history and compelling personal narratives, one page you’re rushing through weeks, months of mind blowing action, and the next you’re sitting with a soul as they reflect on their relationships, their traumas and their life. A fantastic story, brilliantly written and illustrated, and I’m so glad I decided to visit the source material after watching the show.
Today, my crossover volumes arrived, just in time for me to jump straight into them. Yeah, I can see why Sandman and Locke & Key are the perfect crossover now. I’m sorry I doubted you, @neilhimself and @joehill.

6 trade paperbacks, 3 comics, 2 days. Not a bad way to finish lockdown and ignore MY anxiety from everything opening up again here in NSW. I’m sure there’s a clever key metaphor in their somewhere!

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Locke & Key / Sandman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 159-167/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 9 2021

Sandman Volume 5: A Game of You, by Neil Gaiman

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Sandman Volume 5: A Game of You, by Neil Gaiman

Title: Sandman Volume 5: A Game of You
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Horror. Comics.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“I don’t think home’s a place anymore. I think it’s a state of mind.” Barbie, in I Woke Up and One of Us Was Dying.
I’ve just finished reading the Sandman Volume 5: A Game of You, which collects no. 32-37 of the original comic run. As always, I’m listening along to the audiobook whilst reading the print, and this one brought me to tears. Mostly, the audio has been really faithful to the printed text, with some additional narration to provide context. In the final chapter, however, there are some key changes, and it made my heart happy. (Spoilers ahead). I love Wanda, and I love her relationship with Barbie. I also love that, in the audiobook, Barbie stands up for Wanda, refusing to deadname her to placate her conservative family as they gather to farewell their child. Some small but significant changes give Wanda the dignity she deserves, from her chosen family if not from her biological one. I’m glad she found her way home.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Sandman is a masterpiece. Thank you for honouring Wanda in the cast recording, @neilhimself.

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 6 2021

Nick and Charlie, by Alice Oseman

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Nick and Charlie, by Alice Oseman

Title: Nick and Charlie
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre/ issues: YA, Queer fiction. Relationships.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Another instalment in @aliceoseman’s Heartstopper/ Solitaire world, Nick and Charlie takes place at the end of Nick’s final year of school. He’s getting excited about going to university. Charlie’s getting anxious about how they’re going to handle a long distance relationship, and the well-meaning comments on his Tumblr don’t help. I love Nick and Charlie. They’re such a great couple, and I desperately wanted to give Charlie a hug and tell him that long distance relationships aren’t easy, but when it’s the right person, they’re the easiest thing in the world. It was wonderful to visit these two again in this lovely novella.

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 6 2021

Sandman Volume 4: Season of Mists, by Neil Gaiman

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Sandman Season of Mists: Volume 4, by Neil Gaiman

Title: Sandman Season of Mists: Volume 4
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Horror. Comics.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or shutting a book, did not end the tale.
Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: “It is simply a matter,” he explained to April, “of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.”” Season of Mists, Chapter 4.
I’m working my way slowly through the @thesandmanofficial volume 2, reading the printed comics as I listen to the audiobook. Today I finished the chapters that comprise the Season of Mists trade paperback. Morpheus meets up with his siblings, and is prompted to return to Hell in an attempt to rescue Nada, an African Queen he trapped there after she refused to stay with him in the Dreaming. Lucifer quits, and hands the key to Hell to Morpheus, who then is visited by gods, angels, demons and fairies, all petitioning for the right to possess Hell, and variously threatening or cajoling him in an attempt to plead their case. It’s a fascinating examination of the role of death and the afterlife in many different traditions, and the audiobook is stunning, with a who’s who of celebrity voices. David Tennant as Loki was particularly fantastic, as is Bebe Neuwith as Bast – and I couldn’t love @katdenningsss as Death more if I tried.
If you get the chance to experience this comic in both print and audio form together, I highly recommend it. A multi sensory feast of story, image and sound.
I did also have a momentary pang of jealousy as Lucifer hangs out on the beach in Perth, just quietly. Lucky devil.

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 5 2021

Interworld series, by Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, and Mallory Reaves

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Interworld series, by Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, and Mallory Reaves

Title: Interworld series
Author: Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, and Mallory Reaves
Genre/ issues: YA. Sci-fi/ fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Don’t think because I feel it differently, I feel it less.”
I grabbed book 2 of this series in hardcover at a second hand bookstore. It’ll be fine, I told myself, it won’t be too difficult to find the rest in matching hardcovers! Turns out, it wasn’t hard, but it would have been pricey, so in a brief moment of fiscal responsibility I ordered the paperbacks instead. I’m still not quite sure I’ve forgiven myself for this.
Anyway … the Interworld series is a trilogy conceived my Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, with book 1 written by them, and books 2 and 3 written by Michael and Mallory Reaves.
Joey Harker has a terrible sense of direction. One day, though, he finds himself more lost than usual – in a world that looks just like his, but in which his parents don’t recognise him, and have a daughter his age instead. He finds himself under attack, and is rescued by someone who looks just like him. Joey finds himself at InterWorld, an organisation set up to save the multi/inter/universes from two competing evil regimes – Hex, who use magic to combat and control, and Binary, who employ technology. Interworld stands between them, filled with agents who are Walkers like Joey, determined to hold the competing forces at bay. And the agents are VERY much like Joey- all different versions of him from alternate worlds. Like the forces they battle, their worlds are often either technology- or magic-filled, and they all have as many differences as they have similarities.
I really enjoyed this trilogy. It’s an action-packed and engaging mix of science fiction and fantasy, with some complex ideas about the nature of the universe, time travel, and the notion of our responsibilities to ourselves as well as to others.
For those of you who know my feelings about Mr Gaiman, the following might come as a surprise. Brace yourselves. This series won’t be making it into any of my top 10 lists this year. It was good, and if you’re after a fast, engaging read with a unique premise, I’d recommend it. But for me, the ending felt a little rushed and unresolved, and (no shade to Michael and Mallory Reaves at all) it doesn’t have the gentle beauty that I’ve come to expect from Neil’s prose.

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 19 2021

This Winter, by Alice Oseman

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This Winter, by Alice Oseman

Title: This Winter
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre/ issues: YA. Relationships. Mental health.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Another Alice Oseman gem in the world of the Spring family. We get to see the world through Tori’s eyes in Solitaire, and Heartstopper shows us Charlie’s experiences. This Winter is a novella that invites us to join the whole family for Christmas Day, with a section dedicated to how the festive season plays out for them both, as well as their younger brother Oliver. It’s as nuanced and complex as you’d expect from this master of both storytelling and characterisation, and was a lovely quick read. You don’t need to have read either Heartstopper or Solitaire to enjoy this, but if you start here it’ll be a little spoilery so be warned.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 128/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 19 2021

Solitaire, by Alice Oseman

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Solitaire, by Alice Oseman

Title: Solitaire
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre/ issues: Mental health.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

One of my literary joys of 2020 was discovering the work of Alice Oseman. I’m jumping around in their work, not reading in any particular order, and over the past couple of days I’ve finally gotten to their first novel. What a powerhouse of emotion Solitaire is! Set in the same world as the Heartstopper series, this novel focuses on Charlie Spring’s sister Tori. She sees herself as fundamentally serious – “As far as I’m concerned, I came out of the womb spouting cynicism and wishing for rain.” She finds herself increasingly disconnected from her friend group, and caught up in the mystery blog, Solitaire, which is pulling increasingly elaborate pranks around their school and is building up to something big. And then there’s two guys who come into her life at the same time. Lucas, who was her childhood best friend, was seemingly wants to rekindle their friendship. And Michael. Michael Holden, who acts like they already ARE BFF’s, and insists on spending time together. Tori doesn’t hate it … but she also doesn’t understand it. Because … well, why would anyone want to spend time with someone as messed up as her?
Solitaire has the same characters as Heartstopper, and similarly deals with mental health, however it’s quite a different tone. Whilst Oseman balances light and dark beautifully in all their work, Heartstopper skews towards the light. Solitaire explores the dark. That might explain why, despite the emotional and mental health triggers for me in this book, I felt so comfortable inside its pages. It felt like home to me. I appreciated the reminder that sometimes “alone” is more a feeling than a reality. A powerful and beautifully written novel that will stay with me for a long time.
CW: references to suicidal ideation and attempts, depression, eating disorders, and OCD. Oseman’s website contains more detail about possible triggering ideas and content, and is worth referring to before you read any of their work.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 127/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara