The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 240 pgs.
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The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, which was our October book club selection, contains eight comics that were issued once per month. Gaiman admits that the writing is not as good upon reading them long after they were issued, and on this readers might agree. The dialogue is often choppy and the comics feel as though they do not have a focus or story arc. In many ways they are vignettes.

“There was a definite effort on my part, in the stories in this volume, to explore genres available: “The Sleep of the Just” was intended to be a classical English horror story; “Imperfect Hosts” plays with some of the conventions of the old DC and E.C. horror comics (and the hosts thereof); “Dream a Little Dream of Me” is slightly more contemporary British horror story … ” (From Gaiman’s Afterword)

Having read other graphic novels by Gaiman, this seems like a freshman effort at comics. The drawings themselves are dark and haphazard at times, making it hard for readers to follow the story in a cohesive way. I had to re-read a few pages to fully capture what was happening. Even after doing so, it seemed as though I was missing some backstory and even some explanation as to why this “order” would trap Sandman if he was not the one they wanted in the first place. However, I did like Sandman’s cloak…the flames were a nice touch.

Even once that episode is done and Sandman is free, the attempts to take back his “tools” are so easily accomplished that they fell flat. It was more of a detective story in that way — follow the clues and obtain the objects. Even the major battle with the demon was only mildly entertaining, and forget the battle with Dr. Dee. Overall, The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman fell a little flat for me in terms of substance, even the interactions between Sandman and Death were less than stellar.

RATING: Couplet

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, and is the recipient of numerous literary honors. Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Find out more about Neil at his website, find all his books at his online bookstore, and follow him on Facebook, tumblr, and his blog.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Source: Public Library
Hardcover, 72 pgs.
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The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell, intertwines the fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, and in this beautifully illustrated book, these fairy tales come to life.  In beauty and with courage, these young royals must beat back the darkness with cunning strategy.

Gaiman’s prose mimics the fairy tale language of these tales and he drops hints as to the identities of the queen and the princess.  Younger readers and their parents will enjoy these stronger role models, who do not wait around to be rescued but rescue themselves.  Rather than simply marry as expected, can a queen choose another path for herself, something unknown but more satisfying?  Should a princess wait for another queen to rescue her, or use her own mind to puzzle out a solution that can save her life and defeat the darkness?

While there are not seven dwarfs, but three, and they tend the queen with beautiful textiles, rather than jewels, these dwarfs are inquisitive and adventurous.  The detailed descriptions of the townspeople and their sleeping postures, alongside the illustrations, provider readers with a well-rounded picture.  The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell, is gorgeous both in visual beauty and in substance, mirroring the strong royals in Gaiman’s tale.

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, and is the recipient of numerous literary honors. Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Find out more about Neil at his website, find all his books at his online bookstore, and follow him on Facebook, tumblr, and his blog.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

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Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 368 pgs.
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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman is a fanciful collection of short stories in a variety of forms, including those that use letters, poetry, and stories within stories. In the introduction, Gaiman explains what he means by trigger warnings and subsequently explains the seeds that began the stories and the thought processes behind them.  Readers who like surprises may want to skip the explanations and head right into the stories, because on their own, you can see how trigger warnings might be necessary for some readers.

“I’m thinking rather about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. … And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead.” (pg. XV)

Stories in the collection are twisted, have dark shadows that play at the edges, and will have readers contemplating what on earth they’ve just read.  “A Calendar of Tales” was a fun experiment conducted with the help of Twitter in which statements from strangers spawned ideas for stories, and these tales are spontaneous and captivating with images that references the months of the tales.  Readers will love the tone used by Gaiman, who builds little mysteries one word at a time.  Gaiman has chosen his formats and language very carefully — sucking readers in quickly and astonishing them by the end.  However, one story — The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, previously reviewed here — that makes an appearance in this collection may be better read in its illustrated format — it’s so much richer.  But one of the creepiest and unsettling stories in the collection is “Click-Clack Rattlebag” in which a young boy asks for a scary, but not too scary story before bed from his babysitter.  The story that’s told is not what the babysitter or the reader expects, and it will have readers looking very closely about the shadows at the edges of the room.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman was a satisfactory collection and while the theme seems to be the inescapable past, many of these fanciful stories also seek answers to what happens when you begin forgetting or when the future you expected does not come to pass.

Other Reviews:

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains

About the Author:

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, and is the recipient of numerous literary honors. Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Find out more about Neil at his website, find all his books at his online bookstore, and follow him on Facebook, tumblr, and his blog.

Mailbox Monday #346

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean for review from Akashic Books.

Featuring poems from Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Danielle Jennings, Ruel Johnson, Monica Minott, Debra Providence, Shivanee Ramlochan, Colin Robinson, and Sassy Ross. With an introduction by Kwame Dawes.

With a generous sample from each poet, this anthology is an opportunity to discover some of the best, new, unpublished voices from the Caribbean. This is a generation that has absorbed Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Martin Carter, and Lorna Goodison, while finding its own distinctive voice.

Peekash Press is a collaboration between Akashic and UK-based publisher Peepal Tree Press, with a focus on publishing writers from and still living in the Caribbean. The debut title from Peekash, Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, was published in 2014.

Over the River & Through the Wood: A Holiday Adventure by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Kimberly Smith from Sterling Children’s Books for review.

The classic song gets a fresh new twist! The fun begins when Grandma and Grandpa send invitations to their far-flung, modern, and multiracial family: Come to our house for the holidays—and bring your favorite pie! Off everyone goes, driving down snowy roads, riding the train, boarding a plane . . . even sailing along in a hot-air balloon. As each family faces an obstacle that delays their trip, they learn that sometimes the most old-fashioned form of transportation works best . . . NEIGH!

Lego DC Universe Super Heroes Phonics Boxed Set by Quinlan B. Lee, illustrated by Dave White, one of the first orders by my daughter from her Scholastic book club.

Phonics comes to life with LEGO (R) DC Super Heroes (TM) Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more! Learn to read with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and all the other characters in the LEGO(R) DC UniverseTM)!

These books will readily appeal to a wide audience–from LEGO fans to DC Super Hero fans! Beginning readers will enjoy LEGO DC Universe’s well-recognized heroes from movies, TV, comics, video games, and more. This set includes ten books and two workbooks (focusing on short and long vowels), all held in a sturdy box with plastic handle.

Frozen: An Amazing Snowman by Barbara Jean Hicks, illustrated by Olga T. Mosqueda, a second book she ordered.

Featuring Olaf, the happy-go-lucky comic relief of Disney’s Frozen, this humorous tale of what it means to dream is told in verse and features charming illustrations.


Frozen: A Day in the Sun illustrated by Frank Berrios, her third book.

Love this GoodReads description: “Boys ages 3 to 7 will love this full-color storybook that features Kristoff and Sven from Disney’s Frozen!”


My Little Pony: Tricks and Treats by D. Jakobs, her fourth book selection.

It’s Nightmare Night in Ponyville! Join the ponies and their pals as they celebrate their version of Halloween. They dress up in silly costumes, collect lots of candy, and tell spooky stories about the evil Nightmare Moon!



Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman for review from TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins.

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion.

What did you receive?

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell

Source: Public Library
Hardcover, 74 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell, is a book that probably does very well on audio or read in person with the backdrop of images inside this book.  The story is a simple journey of one man, seeking a guide into the Black Mountains of Misty Isle.  In full-color illustrations, which mirror acrylic paintings, the book also contains comics and balloon conversations, and yet somehow it all comes together nicely with Neil Gaiman’s story.  The prose is simple, much like those tales told by campfires.

“‘You are wrong.  The truth is a cave in the black mountains.  There is one way there, and one way only, and that way is treacherous and hard.  And if you choose the wrong path you will die alone, on the mountainside.” (page 21)

Two men journey to the Misty Isle and the cave in the Black Mountains through the Scottish Highlands in search of the gold they can carry back with them.  Rather than merely be an adventure story in search of treasure, each man carries with him moments of regret and love.  The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell, should be read aloud and shared with others, perhaps in front of the fireplace on a cold winter’s evening.

About the Author:

Neil Gaiman’s work has been honoured with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also been honoured with 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British SF Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 2 Mythopoeic Awards.

About the Illustrator:

Eddie Campbell is a Scottish comics artist and cartoonist who now lives in Australia. Probably best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell.

Literary Events Abound Sept. 28-30

September is a good month to watch the leaves change, experience the cool down in temperatures, and enjoy the local and not-so-local authors attending the book festivals in the Washington, D.C., area. While most know about The National Book Festival, Virginia’s Fall for the Book Festival at George Mason University started this week on Sept. 26 and continues through this weekend. Among the authors expected are Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, Rita Dove, Alice Walker, Katherine Boo, Karen Russell, and Amy Waldman. Over six days, readers and writers have the chance to meet 150 authors.

Alma Katsu, whose books (The Taker series) have been reviewed here, will be participating on a literary and genre fiction panel hosted by the National Book Festival that also features novelists Julianna Baggott and Louis Bayard as well as Salon.com founder and critic Laura Miller on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center on Mason’s Fairfax Campus. In addition to literature, Fall for the Book Festival also offers panels on the election and how to tap political independents and navigate the political landscape as well as a higher education panel to look at the challenges ahead for universities.

Today’s events will be headlined by Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline and The Graveyard Book, and at 7:30 p.m. he will receive the 2012 Mason Award for “extraordinary contributions in bringing literature to a wide reading public.” From memoirists to novelists and short story writers, today’s events offer a great deal for readers to check out, including a screening of The Color Purple at the Johnson Center Cinema and poet Cathy Park Hong.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, readers and families can attend the regional library book sale, a children’s book panel, a superheroes panel, a poetry reading, as well as the opportunity to visit with Laura Lippman, learn about political thrillers, and much more. On the final day of the festival, attendees can hear from Congressman Tim Ryan, check out the George Mason Alumni Reading, and check out writing from student writers at the Falling for the Story event. Check out the full schedule.

In addition to the Fall for the Book festival in Virginia, the D.C. area also can enjoy the Baltimore Book Festival, typically held during the same weekend as last weekend’s National Book Festival, starting today. This weekend, the Baltimore festival brings back Free Friday Feedback at 12 p.m., in which unpublished writers can bring three poems or up to five pages of double-spaced prose for some on-the-spot commentary from published writers. From book sales to performances by the Baltimore Public Schools, the festival offers entertainment focused on books, music, and more.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, during the My America Playwrights panel, Neil LaBute, Christopher Durang, and Lydia Diamond will talk about their roles as writers in theater and what it means to be a playwright. At 12 p.m. a tribute to activist poet Lucille Clifton, sponsored by Little Patuxent Review, will likely draw a big crowd, though it will have to compete for audience with Emily Giffin, whose books have become popular, including her latest book, Where We Belong. And as always, there will be a literary walking tour, local businesses displaying their products and services, and panels on women’s fiction, young adult romance, steampunk, and how to cross genres.

On Sunday, Sept. 30, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) will showcase the winners of the annual Individual Artist Awards for playwrights, and the Hope Family Choir will offer the soothing sounds of contemporary gospel music. At 2 p.m. there will be a musical library tour, and Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall, the creators of Ivy and Bean, will unveil the latest book in the series, Ivy and Bean Make the Rules. Maryland native Michael Tucker, former L.A. Law attorney Stuart Markowitz, returns to talk about his debut novel, After Annie. And if you miss Laura Lippman at the Virginia Fall for the Book Festival, you can catch her in Baltimore. Check out the full schedule.

This weekend is shaping up to be the best in books and reading all year.

Mailbox Monday #134 and Library Loot #5

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon at the right to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is A Sea of Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailboxmeme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto from Shelf Awareness.

2.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax from Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting for review in the fall.

3.  Whiplash by Catherine Coulter, which my husband found in our Sam’s Club cart; I’ll probably give this one to my mom since it’s more her cup of tea.

4. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison from Shelf Awareness.

These are from the library sale, only one for me though:

5. Dubliners by James Joyce

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

7. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

8. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

9. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

11. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Library Loot:

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

12. Toys by James Patterson & Neil McMahon

13.  If I Stay Gayle Forman

14.  Where She Went by Gayle Forman

What did you receive this week?