REVIEW: The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

My 2nd venture into the world of graphic literature for 2017 was, regrettably, not as successful as my first (which you can conveniently read about here). Never having read Neil Gaiman’s work, I was determined and enthusiastically ready to explore what he had to offer. Although it is arguable that Mr. Gaiman deserves a lot of the credit he is given by my generation, I wish I had started with something other than The Sandman.

The entirety of The Sandman series in contained within 10 books, I only tackled the first volume, Preludes and Nocturnes. For transparency, I have never been a prodigious comic book reader (The Sandman is a comic book series not a graphic novel). While I am in fact a fan of many characters created via the comic book world, I never gained much pleasure from actually reading comic books – something about the form, and the way my brain interprets things has never made for a fluid experience. Since I know this about myself, I have not deducted marks because of my pre-existing issue.

My issue (ha, non-intentional pun) with The Sandman is the set-up.

The first 20 pages or so spark a constant inner-monologue of, “Wait, what, am I supposed to understand this? Did I miss something? Am I dumb? Let me go back a few pages…nope, I don’t seem to have missed anything…” –then The Sandman picks up and keeps up an engaging pace with a very compelling main character. But, one can’t simply ignore the beginning, the section that should be the hook, is an unnecessary mess. One could easily, and understandably, give up 5 pages in and then miss out on what becomes a very solid comic book. So. Points taken off, and Neil is put in the time out chair for the time being.

I may dip into Gaiman’s work in the future. In the meantime, I recommend The Sandman to comic book fans with stamina. But, I am disappointed with my introduction to his work.

Rating: 3.5 Unending Dreams


REVIEW: Into the Wild

I became aware of Chris McCandless’ heartbreaking journey and tragic end about ten years after it occurred; a deeply disturbing transpiration. Consequently, I avoided reading Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, even forgoing the Sean Penn movie, because the circumstances of McCandless’ life and death are so upsetting. However, McCandless’ story intrigued me, so Into the Wild was slated to be on my 2016 list. And my 2017 list. And I vowed it would be on my 2018 list. Maybe. Then, this past October, while in a bit of a bookish funk, a dear friend encouraged me to read Into the Wild. Something about how he spoke to the work sparked me to stop putting it off. I devoured it.

Jon Krakauer’s personal investment in Chris McCandless’ tragic story and dedication to relating it in a way that provokes empathy rather than judgment makes for a vividly haunting read. Much of what people know about McCandless’ life is really just a sound bite summary of his death: Recent college grad goes on ridiculous adventure alone in the wilderness and meets his fate. Much of what people think of McCandless’ death is that he was asking for it. But, there is so much more to Chris McCandless; and Krakauer paints a multidimensional picture of the last few years of his life through the eyes of someone who feels connected to his story; who understands, on some level, his motivations.

Into the Wild is indeed disturbing, and heartbreaking. It is hard to read at points since Krakauer‘s compassion for McCandless makes you pray for a different ending than the one you know you are going to receive. Into the Wild is a book that will haunt me for a long time.
I applaud Mr. Krakauer for telling McCandless’ story in a way that encourages delving into what we don’t understand, gaining sympathy towards those who are figuring out their lives in ways that are foreign to us, and inspiring one to, say, read a book you’re afraid would be upsetting, because the perspective you gain will make it worthwhile.
I thank my dear friend for doing the same.
Rating: 4.5 Lost Postcards

REVIEW: Stoner

Every so often, a novel quietly hits you in a way you weren’t suspecting. Keeping you on the edge of your seat riveted to its pages. Though seemingly so simple, it breaks your heart, as you finish it, to know you will never experience its magic for the first time again, that though you may read it 100 more times, that first-time experience will be lost. You savor it. You miss it when it’s gone. It is novels like these that keep us hungry for more. 

John Williams’ Stoner delivers that magic.  

Stoner, originally published in 1965, rose to popularity and became a delayed American classic in the past 5-10 years. Williams creates a classic Americana vibe reminiscent of Steinbeck, mixed with the air of Hemingway’s simplicity (literally the greatest compliment I could give an author, so you know I am not exaggerating my love for this novel), without being referential. This could be a reason for the delay in Stoner’s widespread popularity – Williams belonged in the generation before his own.

The author’s technique and style as he navigates through the life of our titular character, Professor William Stoner, is so smooth, the realization of how enamored and invested you’ve become in this middle-aged academic’s world doesn’t land until you’re a wreck when it’s over. There are no crazy plot twists, no mysteries to unfold – it is simply the story of a man and his Midwestern life. A story that has earned top placement in this heart.


Rating: 5 Seminars


REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings

Well, I’ve finally completed The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien; and yes, it was an extremely enjoyable read. But. I have a slight bone to pick with some people.

Tolkien’s genius is revealed in the world he has so fully realized in his novels. I can’t imagine the kind of brilliance and effort it took to conceive such a detailed imaginary land as Middle-earth. For that alone, Tolkien deserves endless praise. To top it off, in addition to creating an entire new world, Tolkien inhabits it with richly developed characters – he doesn’t skimp on any aspect of his creation.

The epic saga of The Lord of the Rings is obviously captivating, only a lying jerk would deny that (IMHO); the concept is solid, the players intriguing and amusing, the setting is vibrant. But, there is one little thing no one ever tells you. You can honestly skim about a fourth of the trilogy as a whole. (I’ve been told that this math is nonsensical, but it’s about 250 pages out of over a thousand.)

Now, I am not just saying that as me, Day, the girl who wants to slash every book in half. No. This is coming from me and at least 5 people who totally nerded out when I said I was finally reading The Lord of the Rings. And I am not even sharing this to be snarky or to pick apart Tolkien’s popularity. I am sharing this so that you know when you go to start in on this glorious adventure, that it is okay and completely normal to think on more than one occasion, “This is a lot of walking through the woods filler, I wonder if I can skip ahead a little.” YES. YES YOU CAN AND NO ONE WILL JUDGE YOU. The bone I have to pick isn’t with Tolkien (because…genius), it is will the 100 people who have pushed me into entering his world and left out that disclaimer which would have made me hate myself less when I had those moments of,  “This is great, but, like, am I an ass***e for being ready to move ahead with the story?” 

As a general summary of my feelings on the novels in the trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King are very strong bookends (pun actually not intended), with The Two Towers being a weaker middle in it’s first half.  So, while there is a slight 2nd book slump, it is made up for in the second half of The Two Towers

Of course I recommend the trilogy without reservation to all readers. Tolkien is a staple of literary fantasy, and for good reason. He should not be ignored.


Rating: 4 Second Breakfasts


2017 Listacular Recap



Books Which Became a Part of My Heart

  1. The African Queen
  2. Turtle Diary
  3. Stoner
  4. Into the Wild
  5. The Princess Bride


Books I’d Recommend to All Readers 

  1. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  2. The Shining
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  4. The Lord of the Rings
  5. Slaughterhouse Five


Honorable Mentions

  1. West
  2. The Joy Luck Club
  3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  4. Uncommon Type: Some Stories
  5. A Wrinkle in Time


Books I’m Least Likely to Recommend

  1. Rabbit, Run
  2. Darcula
  3. Moll Flanders
  4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  5. The Sandman

2017 List

Completed 2017 list with links to reviews (will be updated as I finish reviewing):

  1. The African Queen
  2. Cakes and Ale
  3. The Death of a Beekeeper
  4. Depression and Other Magic Tricks
  5. Dracula
  6. An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter
  7. Factotum
  8. Fahrenheit 451
  9. The Fall
  10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  11. The Fellowship of the Ring
  12. The Golden Age
  13. Green for Danger
  14. The Handmaid’s Tale
  15. Howl and Other Poems
  16. In the Garden of Beasts
  17. Into the Wild
  18. Invisible Cities
  19. Invisible Monsters
  20. The Iron Age
  21. The Joy Luck Club
  22. A Life in Parts
  23. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  24. Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
  25. Moll Flanders
  26. A Moveable Feast
  27. Mrs. Fletcher
  28. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  29. My Man Jeeves
  30. No Country for Old Men
  31. Northanger Abbey
  32. Of Love and Other Demons
  33. The Palace of Dreams
  34. Persepolis
  35. A Prayer for Owen Meany
  36. The Princess Bride
  37. Rabbit, Run
  38. The Return of the King
  39. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
  40. The Shining
  41. The Silent Gondoliers
  42. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
  43. Slaughterhouse-Five
  44. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  45. Stoner
  46. The Strangler Vine
  47. The Thing Around Your Neck
  48. Turtle Diary
  49. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
  50. The Two Towers
  51. Uncommon Type: Some Stories
  52. West
  53. What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day
  54. The Wind in the Willows
  55. A Wrinkle in Time