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review 2015-03-29 20:29
Zamonia or bust OR Walter Moers has ascended to my top authors list
Novels by Walter Moers: The 13 1|2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, the City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia, #1, #3, #4) (Dreaming Books, #1) - Walter Moers

It's been awhile since I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear. From start to finish, it was an imaginative romp through a fantastic land full of creatures with names that would make Roald Dahl weep with pride. The main character, Bluebear, describes the first half of his 26 lives as he travels through Zamonia (a continent that used to exist on earth along with several others which you might not have heard of) meeting creatures such as Troglotrolls, Minipirates, and Shark Grubs. Bluebear is a remarkably resilient sea bear who acquires new skills and knowledge through every stage of his journey. However, the best part of this book (of which there are many) are the illustrations which were done by the author himself, Walter Moers. I absolutely love how they are blended and incorporated into the story. This book is the first in a series which Moers created about Zamonia and I'm not ashamed to say that I've already ordered the second in the series which is all about a Wolpertinger named Rumo. O_O This is the kind of book which would be perfect for reading aloud with your kids. It would probably work best for kids in 4th grade and above as the vocabulary is quite advanced and there are some slightly adult themes. Of course, if you're like me then it doesn't matter what age the book was intended for if you enjoy it. Some of my favorite books are considered 'children's literature' and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. :-) 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2014-08-22 17:52
The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers,John Brownjohn

The moment I opened this book (and yes I know I say this a lot) I knew that I would love this book from the first page.

My dear readers, did you, like me, never want this book to end? I wanted it to be longer. I savored it, took my time...but at the same time, I was reading pages whenever I had the chance. Literally in the bathroom, during dinner--I'd read into the night until my eyes got sore and even then, the book nagged at me from my bedside tables in my dreams. "Read me, read me!" it cried until I would give in, light a candle and become a night owl once more.

You may ask, what would compel me to do such a thing? Let me fangasm for a moment, if you please. *OMGZZZ THIS BOOK IS SO AWESOME LIKE YEAHHHH I JUST WANT TO LIVE IN IT FOREVER AND EVER AND EVERRRR!" Ok. Now that that's out of my system, let me give my explanation as to why this kooky book is so very wonderful.

Moers writing is so detailed and creative that he invokes emotions, senses. When Optimus Yarnspinner entered Bookholm for the first time, I was in awe. I could smell, at least in my imagination, a place I've only dreamed of: a place dedicated to BOOKS. I smelt leather and paper and ink...As a bibliophile, you can imagine how happy this made me--this book was written for people like me in my mind. I've always loved books about books, but this takes everything and blows it out of the water. Even Inkheart.
A part of me ached because Bookholm doesn't and will never exist, except on a page, and another part was telling myself that I could visit this book time and time again and be enraptured.

This is how I imagine I'd react in Bookholm:

I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get across my feelings about this book. I love all the small details and the world building, all the quirky anagrams which were fun to figure out in my head, and the interesting Zamonian book titles, the creatures and the food. I felt like I was in the tavern with Optimus, wincing as he accidentally got a bad sting from Beebread. {watch out for that by the way!} The Poets Ringlet sounds most delicious to me or the book shaped pastry with apple filling and pistachios. I loved all the footnotes and the backstories of Zamonian history, or even Optimus's little asides about a memory and such. I think one of my favorite parts was when I read about Regenschein and his adventures in the catacombs. I swear that in reading that passage, I could hear The Shadow Kings rustling papers behind me, his ink breath on the back of my neck. Another part I enjoyed was towards the end, about the history behind Zamonian horror literature. (pgs. 318-322 in my edition) There are so many passages that I want to memorize, just for the sheer delight. There were so many that felt special to me, but especially this one on pg. 81 of my edition: "Books, books, books, books. Old books, new books, expensive books, cheap books, books in shop windows or bookcases, in sacks or on handcarts, in random heaps or neatly arrayed behind glass. Books in precarious tottering piles, book parcelled up with string ("Try your luck --- buy your surprise package!), books displayed on marble pillars or locked away behind grilles in dark wooden cabinets ('Signed first editions--don't touch!). Books bound in leather and linen, hide or silk, books with clasps of copper or iron, silver or gold--even in one or two shop windows, books studded all over with diamonds." My bibliophilic brain went dizzy with the images I conjured up in my owlie head.

The illustrations make the book come even more alive and the writing is wonderful, have I mentioned that? There was never a point where I wanted to stop or I felt it slowed down, I felt as if every word was placed perfectly in the story--beautiful sentences complimented each other in wit and vivid imagery. and god help anyone who interrupted me. I was irritated whenever my stomach growled or I had to use the bathroom. I wanted to yell at my body and say "Can't you see I'm trying to read!?"

This is a fun charming and gorgeous read for bookish adults who still dream of mountains of old books in a far off fantasy land. I was obsessed with this book to the point where I would be at the edge of armchair, going through a range of emotions just as how most people did reading the manuscript given to Optimus. I giggled with sheer happiness at all the passages describing ancient book lore and the shops, and the stories of the catacombs--I laughed at a lot of things--I bit my lip and nail in fear for Optimus's safety, and shed a tear when it was done, considering picking it up again because I felt as if I had just lost something. I can't say exactly what, but I knew I'd miss the whimsy and the adventure. I had an Oz moment and I wanted to turn to the Booklings and say: "I'll miss you most of all!" The ending with the Booklings made me tear up a little, I must say.

Even though I'll miss this book and I certainly never wanted to stop and start other books, I'm glad I have finished such a wonderful story. Many other stories are waiting on my shelves for me, so this one will be put up in a place all its own and rest for a good while--but I know like a good old friend, it will always be there to welcome me back into its pages.

PS--Beware of Hazardous Books and Animatomes! (or the hybrids)

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review 2014-04-24 12:38
The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers
The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers,John Brownjohn

From the blurb:

Walter Moers transports us to a magical world where reading is still a genuine adventure, where books can not only entertain people but also drive them insane or kill them.

How could anyone resist that? The City of Dreaming Books is a tale about Optimus Yarnspinner, a budding writer of Lindworm Castle who finds his way into the labyrinths beneath Bookholm, a city dedicated to books and reading whose catacombs are populated by heavily-armed Bookhunters, mysterious and possibly deadly Booklings, and the enigmatic Shadow King. It's a book filled with books, a world in which books are a reason to live and die, a quest for inspiration.

 

As is often the case with novels that sound like the one thing you've ever wanted to read, The City of Dreaming Books fails to live up to expectation somewhat. Well, with a blurb like that, it would be extraordinary if it didn't. It's a fun read, something like a cross between Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and the Edge Chronicles (complete with wacky line drawings), and it's certainly imaginative in its creation of all the bookish horrors of Bookholm's labyrinths, but it never becomes more than that. Yarnspinner's quest as a writer never seems particularly convincing, and nor does his general characterisation: I couldn't tell you anything about what he is like as a person, or what he would say to you in the street. And he has virtually no meaningful interactions with any other character.

 

That's not to mention the blatant deus ex machinae (two of them) that bring about the denouement of the novel, nor the train of unlikely coincidences that dog Yarnspinner's footsteps throughout. By far my favourite part was the beginning: the descriptions of the bookish city were delightfully fascinating, and I think Bookholm may well be one of my favourite fictional cities. It was also kind of fun deciphering the various anagrams of authors' names - Aleisha Wimpersleake = William Shakespeare, etc.

 

The City of Dreaming Books is probably best read for atmosphere and inventiveness rather than deep characterisation and narrative satisfaction. A light, fun read, but nothing more.

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review 2013-04-05 15:36
The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia 3)
The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers,John Brownjohn Fantastic book. Beautiful language. Original. Not only is it a work of astounding imagination and sparkling whimsy, but it's also a scathing satire on all things literary. Full of the darkest sort of humor, no one is spared -- not writers, critics, editors, agents, booksellers, or readers. As a writer myself, I found it hilarious, poignant, uplifting and humbling, all at once. It's also a rollicking good tale!
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review 2013-04-04 13:55
The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia 3)
The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers,John Brownjohn Fantastic book. Beautiful language. Original. Not only is it a work of astounding imagination and sparkling whimsy, but it's also a scathing satire on all things literary. Full of the darkest sort of humor, no one is spared -- not writers, critics, editors, agents, booksellers, or readers. As a writer myself, I found it hilarious, poignant, uplifting and humbling, all at once. It's also a rollicking good tale!
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