logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: The-Ocean-at-the-End-of-the-Lane
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-07-19 09:29
3/5: "The Ocean at the end of the Lane", Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

A man sits beside a pond and remembers when he was seven years old and the pond was an ocean. And his neighbours seemed to be immortal…

This is my second exploration of Gaiman, after Coraline and Other Stories. I was undecided then whether I’d get into Gaiman or whether he’d end up as take-him-or-leave-him writer after my first attempt.

After this, I’m coming down on the or-leave-him side.

There’s nothing wrong here, with Gaiman’s writing or his characters. The story moved along at a nice enough pace, the imagery was adept and skilful. I liked the unreliable nature of the un-named narrator, and the theme of how liquid our young memories are. And I've always liked young narrators in stories, the easy acceptance of the strange things going on around them.

But there was nothing here that made me want to read more Gaiman. None of my internal dials went to eleven. I didn’t hate it; I didn’t love it. It was merely a story, and nothing that would make me want to zero in on his work.

Gaiman for me is the equivalent of mashed potatoes: Bland, easily digested, quickly forgotten, unmemorable.

Having said that, if I read anything more of his, I'll stick to his short stories. I suspect he might be a slowly acquired taste, and that I’ll get used to him.

One day, I might be back.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-16 23:48
Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman
This is a short book and simple enough to summarize: A man, returning to visit his childhood home in rural England, finds that the scenery evokes strange and perilous memories that couldn't possibly be real - about a supernatural attack on the neighborhood when he was seven years old, and the little girl who saved his life.
 
It's a beautifully-told, magic-infused tale that I couldn't quite love.
 
~
 
The problem I always have with Neil Gaiman's books is that they remind me of other books that I liked better. Books by Clive Barker or China Miéville or, in this case, Peter S. Beagle. There is a lot in The Ocean at the End of the Lane that reminds me of Beagle's Tamsin, but I loved that book wholly and completely while I... appreciated The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
 
I'm still giving it four stars, because it is a lovely story. But I can never really immerse myself in Gaiman's books. There's something that feels artificial about them, like I can see the wires manipulating the marionettes. It's hard to describe, and I know this is a minority opinion.
 
I just wanted more from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, like I wanted more from American Gods and Neverwhere and Stardust. Not a longer book, but a deeper book. I wanted to feel something for Lettie Hempstock and her strange relatives. I wanted to be captivated by the narrator's ordeals, especially once the devil came out to play. I wanted to understand the villain and what its true goals were. I wanted a plot development that felt truly unexpected.
 
~
 
I don't mean for this review to skew so negative. There were many aspects of The Ocean at the End of the Lane that I enjoyed. It reads quickly, smoothly, and beautifully - Gaiman is a very talented wordsmith without ever being ostentatious about it. That's a rare enough skill, even among best-selling authors, that I always pause to appreciate it when I find it. For instance -
I had been here, hadn't I, a long time ago? I was sure I had. Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.
And speaking of which, the way he describes those foggy childhood memories, pulled up from hidden depths by the thread of a sight or a smell, is incredibly resonant. It perfectly mirrored the way I feel whenever I return to my childhood home and suddenly start tripping over all kinds of memories and emotions that had been dormant for years.
 
At first, the narrator's recollection of his childhood is engaging and bittersweet. He had been a thoughtful, sentimental, bookish boy who often felt misunderstood and lonely. The very first memory that comes to mind when he returns to the neighborhood is: Nobody came to my seventh birthday party. His parents are distracted and aloof; his one companion, a kitten, is killed senselessly. It was in these mundane miniature tragedies that I really felt for this character.
 
But then, when the story started to get all magical... the magic left the story. For me, anyway. It started down well-trod fantasy paths: the maiden-mother-crone goddess, the evil entity that employs female sexuality as a weapon, the battling spells of protection and possession. All of it a metaphor for the protagonist's coming-of-age. It's all very technically well-done, an absorbing and appealing read. I can't find anything to complain about, but it just felt sort of flat to me.
 
My biggest disappointment, I think, is that Gaiman failed to make me love Lettie Hempstock the way he made me love the narrator. If he had, it would have affected me more, what happened to her. But she, like all of the other characters, felt paper-thin by the end.
 
~
 
But maybe I just couldn't love this tragic, supernatural, British coming-of-age story because that place in my heart is already occupied by Tamsin.
 
I'll probably keep reading Gaiman, hoping every time that this will be the one that wins me over.
Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-12-22 00:00
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman It's a Neil Gaiman book that has to do with mythology, which should mean that it's perfect for me... Only this one suffered from the same problem that American Gods did: it was trying far too hard to be dark and "realistic". I definitely found myself enjoying this one far more than the other one, but found it getting more and more stale and forced the closer to the end it got. The beginning made me feel giggly and excited to know what will happen, while the second half mostly had me thinking that I'd really like to finish the book today and should therefore continue reading.

I also got a bad vibe from the way children were seen in the book - it is a sentiment that I see fairly often, that children have a magical way of seeing the world, that adults lose it and so on, and I honestly don't think it has to be the case. I have known many imaginative adults, who create weird worlds in their head as they're talking to you and there would likely be way more if we would just stop thinking of imagination as a "kid thing".

Still, overall an enjoyable read with its own mysticism and mythology and one that made me think.
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-11-20 23:12
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Audiobook)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

Can a pond be an ocean?

 

This isn't the best that Gaiman's ever written, but it's still filled with his delightful prose and vivid imagination. The boy who is the POV character is more of a witness to the events around him, even while he's the unwitting reason for many of them. Leti, her mom and grandmother are as mysterious as they are fascinating. Since the boy isn't really given many answers, a lot goes unresolved or hinted at, but it's the adventure that this boy goes through that matters. 

 

Neil Gaiman narrated this and I could honestly listen to him read the telephone book, so full marks for the narration.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-09-28 01:50
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Short Book Rambles at Mid-game
Garden of Lies - Amanda Quick
Every Secret Thing - Susanna Kearsley,Emma Cole,Katherine Kellgren
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

 


 


It's closing in on the end of September and our Bingo game is at it's midmark!

For the sake of my own sanity, I've come to a compromise with myself.  I would like to write a review for every book I read for bingo... but we know that sometimes that just doesn't happen.  So I've settled for a short compilation of all the books I didn't get around to formatting a review for.

Instead, you get some random ramblings... which, if we know me by now, always end up becoming short reviews anyway.  But I had this vision of wanting to throw a few books together in one post, make it Halloween Bingo specific, had it all formatted and ready to fill in my opinions for each book I come across that I don't know how to review... and I'm not changing my mind.

Here it is!

 

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick
audio book narrated by Louisa Jane Underwood
Rating:  3.5 Stars


I love Amanda Quick books, if only because they follow a specific formula, so you always know what you're going to get out of them.  Garden of Lies is the usual Amanda Quick historical mystery and romance, with great characters and fast-paced progression.  And I never have any idea how to review these books, because they are simply just as enjoyable as the last Amanda Quick book I read: witty, fun, entertaining... standard.

It's always a good bet I will enjoy them; though also a greater bet that the story line is the same as others by this author.  Garden of Lies was no different:  Feisty, non-standard, too-modern-for-her-own-good heroine; broody, intensely passionate alpha with some tragic history.  They meet for reasons, they fall in lust at first sight, they fight the lust whilst working together to uncover a mystery, sex happens, feelings happen, cue some kind of last minute danger scene... Happily Ever After™.

Though the overall details of the mystery weren't the usual, the main culprits were fairly predictable, as were a lot of events.  There might have been entirely too much going on in this book... but that's about it.

 Louisa Jane Underwood is a lovely narrator and gave the "reading" experience a nice boost!

I read this book for Halloween Bingo 2017, for the 'Darkest London' square, since the story is set in Victorian London.

This book could also count for:

  • Murder most foul
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

audio book narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Rating:  4.0 Stars


This is one of the books that, after beginning, I started having doubts whether or not it would fit the Halloween Bingo square I chose it for.  While there are several deaths, as well as the MC wandering around trying to investigate the chaos that suddenly befalls her life, Every Secret Thing ended up reading more like an espionage thriller than a murder mystery.  I could classify it as suspense, I suppose, and the entire ordeal DOES start with the mention of an old murder, one still deserving justice.

Every Secret Thing wasn't what I'd been expecting when I started listening to the audio, if only because maybe I'd been expecting something a bit darker, or grittier.  Instead, this book gave me an almost old-timey type of story, as we follow Kate Murray's investigations, while simultaneously following some snippets of the now deceased Andrew Deacon's espionage lifestyle.  It was... charming... the entire experience.  At first it felt a bit dragged out, but once you get into the rhythm of it, the flashbacks to Andrew Deacon's story lines aren't so strange, and in fact, kind of intriguing.

I can't say that I one hundred percent enjoyed this book, and the truth is, while I loved Katherine Kellgren's narration, I'm almost wondering if this story wouldn't have been better experienced as a print book.

One thing is for certain though:  Every Secret Thing is beautifully atmospheric, and I loved the descriptions of many of Kate's scenic travels, even as we were constantly moving forward at a rather fast paced stride.  There's an obligatory bittersweet ending when you come to the end of Andrew Deacon's tale, and even though we kind of already know how his life ended up playing out, it still plucks at the heart.

So the truth is, this was more a book about learning Andrew Deacon's story rather than following Kate Murray's investigations.

I may or may not swap this book out for another better suited book for the 'Murder Most Foul' square.  For now, this is just a tentative completion.  I'm seriously contemplating moving this book to either of the following squares:

 


This book could also count for:  Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  2.5 Stars


This is my first foray into Victoria Holt, and keeping in mind a few cautions from fellow readers, I read this book with a bit of trepidation.  Certainly, the story and the characters--especially our main heroine--is as I'd been warned.  But even as I became frustrated with the insta-love, the over-dramatics of our heroine, and the fact that none of the characters are very likable, On the Night of the Seventh Moon ended up being somehow addictively engrossing.  Even the frustratingly over-dramatic romance didn't put me off too badly.

For one reason or another, I just couldn't make myself put the book down.  It's got a nice mysterious twist to it that makes you want to keep reading to find out what's going on, even while the story was fairly predictable.  What happened to Helena?  Was it really just a dream, induced by drugs?  Was it real?  If it were real, then why all the theatrics by her cousins?  Why did Maximilian never come back for her?  And what of the baby?

It's hard to say what truly kept me hooked on this book--certainly it wasn't the characters, whom I disliked for many reasons, especially Frau Graben's blasé attitude towards the disgusting behavior exhibited by all the nobility.  She talks about how it's their given right, when either a count or a duke ravishes a girl and then tosses her aside; that the attempted murder or even the deaths were simply a matter of "state affair"; the deceptions of mock marriages, the lies, the betrayals--all simply part of their country's culture...

I get that it's probably part of the culture, which lends some authenticity to a more historical aspect of life... but I don't have to like it.

As I've already said, I didn't find any of the characters likable, except maybe the boy, Fritz.  Or Aunt Matilda--she was amusing, for sure.

It's also kind of irked me that the conclusion wrapped up too easily, in a very tidy, non-confrontational, and unrealistic way.  I like my HEA's, but we should at least follow through the world's logic.  All the concerns and the possible backlash and the possible war scenario that Maxi and Helena worried about if the two of them were to announce their relationship and marriage didn't even surface.  Everything just settled, all was forgiven, Happily Ever After™.

Really, the only amazingly wonderful thing going for this book was the beautiful writing, the imagery, the description, and a lot of the lore and history laid within the book's world.  For this alone, I will definitely give Victoria Holt another read when I get the chance.

(Ahem.  So much for a short ramble, but I'm not changing this, and I regret nothing...)

This book could also count for:

  • Gothic
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  3.5 Stars


I felt like Halloween Bingo wouldn't be complete without reading something by Neil Gaiman--last year I read The Graveyard Book and Coraline, both of which were very enjoyable, and one of them ended up being one of my favorites of the year.  Initially, I didn't have a book of his chosen for any of my Bingo squares (Yes, yes, I did; I just forgot I did).  I had originally only chosen a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman for the 'Genre: Horror' square, which I've been putting off listening to the audio... well, because Horror.

And I was hesitant about starting The Ocean at the End of the Lane... well, because Horror.  But I'm glad I decided to give it a go--if only because you get to revel in Gaiman's wonderful, magical descriptions... and because I found a different book other than Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning for this particular bingo square, because I just wasn't feeling Amy Tan at the moment.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a little difficult for me to get into at first; and it is equally difficult for me to figure out how I feel about it.  Outside of that magical, whimsical feel you get from reading a particularly good child's fantasy/adventure, I really can't pinpoint exactly what to say about it.  I've got a sort of bittersweet, wistful void after completing the book, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I know what the book was really about.

Certainly, there were a lot of though provoking lines and dialogue.  In the end, it's one of those books  you found enjoyment in, and it stays with you for some time, even as you can't quite pinpoint why.

This book could also count towards:

  • Genre: Horror -- the book is tagged as 'horror' on GR, and certainly, there were a lot of horror elements involved
  • Modern Masters of Horror -- published in 2013
  • Supernatural -- which goes hand in hand with Magical Realism
  • Chilling Children (?) -- I don't think I saw this tagged as YA or MG, but the main time frame of the book takes place when the protagonist is only seven years old
  • Monsters

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/halloween-bingo-2017-short-book-rambles.html
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?