The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Audiobook Review

The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and narrated by Neil Gaiman
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by William Morrow, both imprints of HarperCollins


The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens with the protagonist, now an adult, returns to his childhood home and happens upon an old friend’s house, where he finds one of her older relatives. The longer the protagonist stays at Lettie Hempstock’s house, the more he behinds to remember his time with her. These memories are long buried, other more reasonable memories of the same time have taken their place, but the Hempstock farm brings back the truth of what happened when the protagonist was seven years old.

Thoughts on the story:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is so magical that it is scary. It begins as a simply charming story of  a sweet little boy, but strange things begin happening around him. When he tries, with his new, slightly older friend Lettie Hempstock to appease the spirit causing problems, he inadvertently creates a far larger problem. The story builds along very nicely. While I wouldn’t classify it as horror, there is one section that would nearly qualify as a supernatural horror, although it invokes more tension than outright fear, since we know the protagonist survives. The details about the Hempstocks are beautifully crafted, making this otherworldly family seem absolutely realistic. It is a short but utterly absorbing novel, if you have it in print you could probably easily read the whole thing in a single sitting.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Ah, Neil Gaiman is one of those few authors who really should narrate his own work. His narration is particularly effective since his protagonist seems to be approximately his own age in the framing pieces and his protagonist as a child is said to be loosely based on his own childhood (minus the magical creatures trying to kill him, I’m assuming). As such, his narration fits the novel beautifully and he is able to give his words a level of emotion that take them to the next level.


The story in itself is fabulous, so I don’t think you can go wrong with The Ocean at the End of the Lane however you consume it, but Gaiman’s narration gives it that extra special something. If you can listen to this audiobook, please do.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.

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Among Others by Jo Walton – Book Review

Among Others by Jo Walton
Published by Tor Books, an imprint of MacMillan

Once upon a time, Morwenna – known as Mori – did magic. She and her twin sister Mor played with fairies and closed down factories by simply each throwing a flower into a pond. Now Mori alone is in England with her all-but-unknown father and his three spinster sisters who, unsure of what to do with her, send her to a local boarding school. Here she doesn’t know anyone, and the fairies barely speak to her, it is not like Wales at all. Her loneliness is more than just being in a place without friends, though, it is also the memory of what she left behind, and what she will never quite be able to recover.

Among Others is an incredibly engaging book. What is perhaps most interesting, is the confluence of science fiction and fantasy. With Mori’s belief in her ability to do magic and her discussions with fairies, the story itself is absolutely fantasy – or, also plausibly, Mori’s disturbed childhood has caused her to live in a fantasy world, and she is an unreliable narrator of the things happening around her – but much of what informs her daily life is her love of science fiction novels.

Fans of classic science fiction – Among Others is set in the 1970s – will particularly enjoy Mori’s thoughts about what she is reading, and the scenes set in her science fiction book club at the library. The truly magical thing about Among Others, though, is the fact that Walton manages to so thoroughly infuse her book with science fiction without alienating those readers who don’t have much familiarity with the genre (and I would know, considering my experience with classic science fiction is limited to a single Heinlein novel read in high school).

Among Others is a lovely, complex coming of age novel, and one that I highly recommend.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Book Review

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Published by Penguin (Non-Classics) Paperback, an imprint of Penguin

Diana Bishop comes from a family of witches with illustrious lineages, but there are few things she detests more than using magic. Sure, when the washer is threatening to flood the house she might make an exception, but in general she wants to get by in the world on her own merits, not by magic. She is forced to change her attitude, though, when in the course of her research, she accidentally discovers an enchanted and long-lost alchemical manuscript that many in the magical world would kill for. Suddenly, Diana finds herself caught between the witches, daemons, and a handsome vampire named Matthew Clairmont. Now Diana must decide who she can trust and find out if she can control her power, before she is destroyed by forces she does not understand.

Deborah Harkness is a fabulous creator of worlds. Her witch/vampire/daemon mythology is almost instantly engaging, and is spread out enough throughout A Discovery of Witches to keep readers (or me, at least) anxiously reading to figure out the next piece of the puzzle. There is some serious initial shadiness in Diana and Matthew’s relationship that feels a bit Twilightish, but eventually they grow into a greater parity – although there is still some problematic hiding of facts on Matthew’s part that I hope will become less of an issue as the trilogy progresses. I must admit, though, that it adds to the dramatic flair of Harkness’s story to have these things revealed slowly, as Matthew is essentially forced into them.

A Discovery of Witches is an incredibly addictive novel in the vein of The Historian, but with a somewhat faster moving plot, there is even a similar theme of scholarship. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Shadow of Night. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: publisher.
*These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Addicting Series – The Results

On Tuesday I asked you all to recommend some addicting series, and boy did you come through! By Thursday afternoon we had 49 comments (including a few replies of mine) for a total of 48 series recommendations. The most-mentioned series by far was “Outlander” which I am reading now, with seven mentions, followed by a handful of series which were mentioned 4 times. Apologies if any are mis-cataloged here, but I was going off either what people said or a very cursory Google search. Historical mysteries are listed with historical fiction. Without further ado, here they are:

Mystery/Crime fiction

  • M.C. Beaton – Hamish Macbeth series
  • Lee Child – Jack Reacher series (2 mentions)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes
  • Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum series (2 mentions)
  • Tess Gerritsen – Rizzoli and Isles
  • Sue Grafton – Kinsey Milhone series (2 mentions)
  • Martha Grimes – Richard Jury series
  • Charlaine Harris – Harper Connelly series
  • Arnaldur Indridason – Reykjavik murder mystery series
  • P.D. James – Adam Digliesh series
  • Faye Kellerman – Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus (2 mentions)
  • Laurie R. King – Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series
  • Stieg Larsson – The Millennium Trilogy
  • Jeff Lindsay – Dexter series
  • J.D. Robb – Eve Dallas/In Death series (2 mentions)
  • Dorothy L. Sayers – Lord Peter Wimsey series (3 mentions)
  • Alexander McCall Smith – Number 1 Ladies’ Detectives Agency series
  • Jacqueline Winspear – Maisie Dobbs series (2 mentions)

Historical Fiction

  • Sarah Donati – Into the Wilderness series
  • Ariana Franklin – Mistress of the Art of Death mystery series
  • Margaret Frazer – Sister Frevisse mystery series
  • Diana Gabaldon – Outlander series (7 mentions)
  • Sandra Gulland – Josephine trilogy
  • Patrick O’Brian – Jack Aubrey series (3 mentions)
  • Ellis Peters – Brother Cadfael mystery series (2 mentions)
  • Deanna Raybourn – Lady Julia Grey mystery series (2 mentions)
  • Penny Vincenzi – No Angel

Speculative Fiction: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Paranormal/Fantasy

  • Ilona Andrews – Kate Daniels series
  • Libba Bray – The Gemma Doyle series (YA)
  • Patricia Briggs – Mercedes Thompson series
  • Jim Butcher – Harry Dresden series (4 mentions)
  • Cassandra Clare – Mortal Instruments series (YA)
  • Jasper Fforde – Thursday Next series
  • Jeaniene Frost – Night Huntress series
  • Charlaine Harris – Sookie Stackhouse series (4 mentions)
  • Kim Harrison – The Hollows series
  • Robert Jordan – Wheel of Time series (2 mentions)
  • Stephen King – The Dark Tower series
  • John Marsdon – Tomorrow series (YA, 4 mentions)
  • George R.R. Martins – A Song of Fire and Ice
  • Lisa McMann – Wake series
  • Karen Marie Moning – MacKayla Lane series (3 mentions)

General/Christian Fiction

  • Jan Karon – The Mitford Years series
  • Sophie Kinsella – Shopaholic series
  • Debbie Macomber – Cedar Cove series
  • Brendan O’Carroll – The Mammy series
  • Francine Rivers – The Mark of the Lion trilogy
  • Ann B. Ross – Miss Julia (Christian fiction)