Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Another Gaiman book? Yes, amazingly enough, there are a lot of Neil Gaiman books I have yet to read and so I am trying to remedy that – one book at a time. Trigger Warnings is a short story collection with a smattering of poems throughout. There is even a small gift to those hoping for more from Shadow (American Gods main character).

If you are seeking a novel that will keep you up at night, seek an H.P. Lovecraft short story collection for this will not satiate your desire for creepy, nightmare-ish tales. In Gaiman fashion, this collection contains exercises in wordplay, experiments in storytelling, and a few stories that will become creepy after a couple read-throughs. He did not intend to scare the audience, merely to make them uncomfortable.

This is a huge task. Instead, Gaiman aimed to make uncomfortable the reader he pictured writing for and with each story we have a different reader. He may make you uncomfortable if you dislike spiders with one tale, but you may read the remainder of the stories and not appreciate anything about them. I believe it is because of this hit or miss style many people have been rather critical of this collection.

I enjoyed it. Not every story was my cup of tea, but I enjoyed the word play and experimentation found in each story. I would not recommend this to you if you are just discovering Gaiman because he has such great books to be devoured first.

-A Bookish Girl

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Midnight Never Come

A clash of historical fiction and fantasy (fae, more specifically). A mixture I was hesitant to believe could work. But after The Memoirs of Lady Trent I was hungry for more Marie Brennan novels, so I hesitated only for a moment before diving into the first of the Onyx Court series. And, once there, I rather enjoyed myself.

The story took place during a time period in England with which I have always been fascinated, the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The historical fiction aspect of this novel is well-researched and detailed. That being said, the fantasy aspect of this novel is creative and clever. This book has the best from both genres.

-A Bookish Girl

Fortunately, the Milk

Not every carton of milk saves the world.

This story of time-travel and the world-saving carton of milk made me hope that when/if I have children I could spin a tale like the one told by the dad in this story. If you are an adult, reading this book will take no time at all but the smile and joy gained from it will linger for much, much longer.

I highly recommend this for a mid-week lunch read when you need a pick-me-up.

-A Bookish Girl

 

The Graveyard Book

Gaiman has an unparalleled ability to turn the mundane into an enchanting land filled with wonder and adventure. The overlooked, overgrown, and ordinary graveyard becomes the most magical setting for this coming of age story. Despite the setting, every child (even the one locked deep inside some of us adults) will feel a connection with this story.

This story is clever, sweet, sombre, and even a bit scary. (The Ursala kind of scary, not the Texas Chainsaw Massacre kind.) Gaiman does not buy into the theory that every children’s story has to have a happy ending. However, there is always hope. And, what a message for us to keep close at heart as children, as adults, or as individuals living in this broken world; Life is not always happy, endings are bittersweet, but there is always hope.

I will read this to any child that comes into my life: mine, my brother’s, my best friend’s, doesn’t matter they all need to experience this story.

-A Bookish Girl

Coraline

Neil Gaiman proves that children’s books do not need to be dull, simple, or ordinary. Coraline is a beautiful novel about courage and strength. It is definitely a bit scary if you are a child. (It is scary like Scar singing “Be Prepared” and not the kind of scary that leads night terrors.) However, Gaiman acknowledges the scary parts through the eyes of his character and encourages the reader to be brave. Again, I find myself reading a book that I easily imagine both parent and child enjoying.

I really respect Gaiman’s stance that a child reader does not mean a happy, perfect world. Nor does it mean simple sentences or themes. Rather, he writes a novel people of all ages can enjoy and from which we all can learn. I am twenty-six and I was brightened and encouraged by Coraline’s strength and bravery throughout the novel. (I was even a little unnerved by a few of the scary parts.)

Perhaps, I admire Gaiman because even this children’s book is written with the seriousness of an author trying to share an idea: courage is what occurs when you do the right thing even when it is terrifying.

Who among us does not need that reminder from time to time?

-A Bookish Girl

Twilight Robbery / Fly Trap

The sequel to Fly by Night and perhaps a better story than the first novel, which is not something you can commonly say about any book series. The language in these novels is incredible. There is an enchanting rhythm in the way Frances Hardinge describes a scene and a character’s perspective. The climb of the novel was entertaining and action-packed, but once the apex in the story occurred, I was unable to put the book down. Every page had my heart firmly in its grip with a stubborn refusal to ever release the tension, until alas! it was the last page.

This book only furthered my adoration for Hardinge. Fortunately, I acquired a book or two more of hers during my birthday haul. I am certain, after my wedding and all, I will settle down with a cup of tea, a weekend, and a puppy and get lost in another story of her creation.

I really like that she writes for young adults but not for young minds. She is not afraid to introduce her young readers to philosophy, which makes this a very enjoyable read for both a parent and child. She brings up questions, cynicism, and morals that we all consider throughout our life and should not be afraid address with our children or ourselves. And she does all this slyly in a novel action-packed and full of twists and turns. I really feel like Hardinge does a great job of packing everything into a novel that a reader wants without overwhelming the reader with any of it.

I really, really do hope you will try her out whenever you can. Seriously. GO! Buy her book!

-A Bookish Girl

“What made a girl a damsel in distress? Were they not allowed claws? Mosca had a hunch if all damsels had claws, they would spend a lot less time in distress.” – Hardinge, Fly Trap (Twilight Robbery)

Getting Married.

Whoa!

After years of certainty that I would be that single 50-year-old, high-power career-focused woman as shown in every Hollywood film about high-powered career-focused women, I am getting married. (I am also getting a doctorate in the career field I dreamt about since I could drive: ground-breaking engine research. So, I did not even give up the career thing.)

And, I am thrilled. Super excited. Beyond myself. This might actually be the happiest day of my life thus far. Nothing super fancy; a short hike, a ceremony on our favourite hiking trail, dinner with our family and closest friends, and drinks and celebration around the firepit in our backyard.

And I just know it will be perfect.

And I cannot stop thinking about it.

Five days.

My Graduate School

I am a doctorate student researching homogeneous charge compress ignition engines. My campus is sparsely populated. It often feels as though we are characters in a post-apocalyptic robot drama. “Why?” you may ask. (Although, to be fair, you may also call into question my mental state, after all, we have just met.)

Let me defend my sanity, below is a picture of my campus.

The drab grey building decorated with just as dull brick stands imposing in a depressing contrast to the natural beauty of the site. As you approach the building, grey encompasses all else until you are desperately searching for colour amongst the infinite shades of grey. The hallways are barren. No flyers, posters, artwork, or other typical college hall decor is visible. Neither visible are the students typically present in the halls of any campus building. In this eery quiet, your footfalls echo with every step. Unconsciously, you step slower, lighter in hopes your steps would not pound in your ears like the dinosaurs in Jurrasic Park. (You know the scene: the ripples of the water push out followed by the deep, threatening sound of a terrifying foot falling heavily with each step.)

The only reasonable progression forward in your exploration seems to be up the stairs directly in front of your entry, but across a large space where a receptionist once sat, lonely and bored. You reach the top of the grey stairs, there must have been a sale on when it was time to paint this colossal shrine to the beauty of grey. You find that you are on the third floor, despite entering at the main entrance. Or maybe the door numbering system is as confusing as everything else has been in this building. The door plate reads “Graduate Students.”

Here is where the people are hidden, you think as you push open the door. Oh, it is a pull. You can never tell, can you?

Sixty-three cubicles the colour of angry clouds sit in rows of nine fill the open room before you. Windows higher than the cement panel drop ceiling are covered with charcoal curtains. Your eye scans the cubicles, searching for life. Alas, a student sits at his desk. His black hair shouting at you in the otherwise lifeless room. Desperate for conversation and thankful to the forged iron coloured carpet muting your steps, you cross the room and navigate the cubicle labyrinth until you reach the occupied cubicle.

“Hello?” Your voice is loud in your own ears. You realise the room is quiet, unnaturally so, like a library occupied by the dead. Your voice seems to have interrupted the occupants, disturbed them. As the occupant turns toward you, you realise he too appears grey.

He speaks, or you think he does. His lips moved, but the words were spoken so softly that you could hear nothing. You give him a questioning look. He repeats himself loud, his voice not more than a library whisper. The inner monologue in your mind seems louder than his words. As is the law of whispering, you speak back in a volume that matches his own,”How are you?” You realise you missed the volume completely, maybe you should think

As is the law of whispering, you speak back in a volume that matches his own,”How are you?” Well, you tried to match his own. Your voice betrays you and seems to scream out in comparison to his. Maybe if you try to murmur?

He seems to shrug. For a moment, you wonder how to interact further. Did you say something wrong? This was strange, right? You try to think of where to take the conversation from this painfully uncomfortable moment.

While you struggle, he turns back to his work and as he turns, you see the wire panel in his back you missed at a distance. The robotic humanoid continues at his workstation as if you never interrupted.


Okay, so the robot is an exaggeration. But, I am not 100% sure than the Ph.D student in the graduate student hall are not replaced one night by robots like a modern day changeling. But the interaction and description of the building are spot on.

Birthday Book Haul

Pictured

  1. Marvel 1602  Neil Gaiman
    I adore Neil Gaiman but have never been too interested in graphic novels. Yet, it seems like I am missing out on a very big part of what makes Gaiman such a wonderful author by ignoring such a big part of his writings. I am excited to try a whole new kind of novel.
  2. Caroline/Fortunately, the Milk/The Graveyard Book  Neil Gaiman
    This set caught my eye when Gaiman posted about it on his twitter page. It hit my to -read list immediately. I looked for this beautifully covered box set every trip to every bookstore since. I am excited to read these this weekend.
  3. Shadowmarch Tad Williams
    After being told that I would enjoy this book, I tried to bookmooch it. No luck on bookmooch, so I added it to my fantasy series to-read list. This follows Gentleman Bastards Series, the Malazan Book of the FallenThe Kingkiller Chronicles, the Discworld novels, all the Black Company novels, etc.
  4. Deadhouse Gates Steven Erikson
    I am in the midst of finishing listening and reading the first of this series. It is a beautifully written fantasy novel that leaves me wishing I could devote and entire month to finishing these novels. The descriptions are wonderful and detailed.
  5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum
    A childhood favourite. I realised that my library does not have a copy.

Not Pictured

  1. The Secret Ken Blanchard & Mark Miller
    Given to me by my mum. I have no idea what it is about, but it looks like one of those how to be better professionally books.
  2. The Lie Tree Frances Harbinge
    Trying to branch out in Harbinge’s writings.
  3. The Fly Trap Frances Harbinge
    I loved the amazing descriptions and wonderful way of viewing the world Harbinge wrote through the eyes of the characters in the first of this series. It is a beautiful, cheerful, relaxing series after a day spent reading journal articles.
  4. The Ultimate Quotable Einstein Albert Einstein
    I can see a million used for this in my life.
  5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II J.K. Rowling
    I feel obligated to read this because I loved the Harry Potter series as a child. It was perhaps my first book series. But, I feel really worried that Rowling will disappoint. I have not enjoyed any of her writings since she murdered Dumbledore… but, here is to giving it a go.
  6. The Sleeper and the Spindle Neil Gaiman
    I love Gaiman. Seriously, read a Gaiman book if you have not. Seriously. Stop fooling around on the internet. Read a Gaiman book. Now!

-A Bookish Girl