TLC Book Tours: The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman



I would like to know – is there anything that Neil Gaiman cannot write?

From fantasy to fairytale retellings to children’s to bestselling novels and comics. He seems to have done it all. Even Dr Who episodes. And he’s got the awards to prove it!

He has written one of my all-time favourite comic series, Sandman, but I believe the very first book of his that I read was Stardust.

And here he is with a collection of non-fiction writing, from introductions to speeches to tributes. Some are insightful, such as his  “All Books Have Genders,” others are just simply inspiring, like “Telling Lies for a Living… And Why We Do It: The Newberry Medal Speech 2009”. Others are very specific, such as his thoughts on Doctor Who or G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown – and may require some previous knowledge on said topics.

The best of his pieces are the more personal ones, like when he talks about how libraries were his second home when he was a kid. Or when he writes about his dear friend Terry Pratchett, whom he interviewed in 1985 – Pratchett’s first ever interview. Or those words he wrote for Tori Amos’ tour book:

“Tori is wise and witchy and wickedly innocent. What you see is what you get: a little delirium, a lot of delight. There’s fairy blood inside her, and a sense of humor that shimmers and illuminates and turns the world upside down.”

And that rather awesome piece for Time Out (‘Six to Six’) where he just wanders the streets of London late at night, writing about whatever happened (hint: not very much – but because it is Neil Gaiman I will still read it). This is the guy after all, whom people will pay money (specifically, donate to a good cause) to hear read the Cheesecake Factory menu out loud. His piece on attending the Oscars is another fun one.

I love reading all those bits and pieces about his life, and especially the way libraries and librarians were such a big part of his world.

The thing with a smorgasbord like this is it’s not meant to be read in one gulp. It is a book that takes time – and with 502 pages (not counting the index), a good amount of time. It’s a good palate cleanser – for those days when you’ve finished an intense (or agonizing or just plain unforgettable) book that you cannot let go of, and you are in a book hangover and feel unable to pick up anything new. Read one of Gaiman’s essays, especially one of those that talks about writing or a writer or reading or libraries, and I think it would inspire you to read again. 

Neil Gaiman – curing book hangovers one essay at a time. 



I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for a review.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour here. 

You can purchase this book via HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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

TLC Book Tours: The Ocean at the End of the Lane


Childhood memories are sometimes covered as obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.

A middle-aged man returns to the village in which he grew up. There, at a farm at the end of the road, was here he met Lettie Hempstock and her mother and grandmother. He weaves together his memories of his childhood.

He was a bit of a lonely sort of child.

I was not happy as a child, although from time to time I was content. I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.

Lettie becomes his friend. And protector. For there is something a little unusual about this wondrous girl, a little magical, a little mystical.

“How old are you, really?” I asked.
I thought for a bit. Then I asked, “How long have you been eleven for?”
She smiled at me.

As is the rest of her family and the farm they live in.

We brought a lot of this with us from the old country, when we came here. The farm came with us, and brought things with it when it came.

And there be monsters.

Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.


This short, tightly-written novel is at once frightening and comforting, fairytale-like yet somewhat autobiographical, a tale of sorrow and joy.

And it shines with such brilliance.

Neil GaimanNeil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett); the Sandman series of graphic novels; the story collections Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things; and co-editor (with Al Sarrantonio) of the fiction anthology Stories. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards, and the Newbery Medal. Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Find out more about Neil at his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him onTwitter.

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I received a copy of this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours


Check out the other tour stops

Tuesday, June 3rd: Read. Write. Repeat.

Wednesday, June 4th: The Well-Read Redhead

Thursday, June 5th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Monday, June 9th: The Scarlet Letter

Tuesday, June 10th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Wednesday, June 11th: The Book Wheel

Thursday, June 12th: guiltless reading

Monday, June 16th: Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, June 17th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, June 18th: Olduvai Reads

Thursday, June 19th: Literary Feline

Monday, June 23rd: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, June 25th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

A Neil Gaiman trio

The Sandman Vol. 10: The Wake is the final installment of the truly awesome Sandman series. It was a fitting ending, a wake and funeral for Morpheus, attended by his siblings and the many whose lives have been touched by him. Unfortunately, the gap between my reading of this chapter and the previous ones is far too wide and I couldn’t remember a lot of the mortals, so their anecdotes were a little lost on me. The Wake is a trio of stories but the only one I enjoyed reading was the first one, the wake and funeral of Morpheus, a fitting send-off to this glorious character. The other stories though  were ultimately forgettable.

Next I read The Books of Magic, a quartet of graphic novels featuring young Tim Hunter and an intriguing quartet of men, John Constantine, the Phantom Stranger, Dr Occult and Mister E. who are to guide him through the magical realms as he decides whether magic is to be his ultimate path. As I’m quite unfamiliar with the comics universe, the significance of these four men was quite lost on me. Apparently they are pretty well known characters! Ah well… now I know.

Perhaps my favorite of this Gaiman selection of mine was Violent Cases. I picked it up because of the Gaiman name, not knowing anything else about the storyline or the illustrator, and in the end, it was the illustrations that absolutely blew me away, although the cover illustration doesn’t really do justice to what’s inside. The storyline was a recollection of the narrator’s meeting Al Capone’s osteopath when he dislocates his shoulder as a young boy. Relatively interesting but the illustrations… they were just absolutely brilliant, exciting, and they really put the ‘graphic’ back in graphic novel. This was artwork, mixed media at its best… Dave McKean is truly a genius. And Gaiman should also be credited for his allowing McKean to take over the story. Gorgeous, just gorgeous.

Read: Sandman: Dream Hunters

Well the Sandman has grown on me the more I read this series written by Neil Gaiman (the latest I had read was The A Game of You, perhaps one of my favourites along with Dream Country).

This time though, being unable to find the next book in the collection, I picked up The Dream Hunters (Sandman, Book 11). It wasn’t quite what I had expected at first. This is more of a novella with illustrations (and what beautiful illustrations!) by Yoshitaka Amano, the designer of the Final Fantasy game series.

Apparently Gaiman was researching for his translation of Hayao Miyazaki’s film Princess Mononoke and discovered the world of Japanese fables. In his afterword, he writes that he was struck by the tale ‘The Fox, the Monk, and the Mikado of All Night’s Dreaming’ in Fairy Tales of Old Japan and its similarities with his Sandman series. Gaiman also mentions Y.T. Ozaki, in whose tale the onmyoji is a central character. Interestingly, in 2007, Gaiman wrote on his blog: ““I learned from Wikipedia that Sandman: The Dream Hunters was actually based on Pu Songling’s Strange Stories From A Chinese Studio, which I thought I ought to read. Will report back” Couldn’t find any other mention of that on his blog though. So is this a Japanese fable? A Chinese one? I haven’t a clue. Nevertheless, what a great adaptation.

His collaboration with Amano resulted in this novella, as Amano does not draw comics.

Dream Hunters begins with a wager between a badger and a fox, on who would be able to scare a monk away from his temple. The winner gets to keep the temple for its home. The fox takes on the form of a woman in its bid and falls in love with the monk. Meanwhile in Kyoto, onmyoji, Master of Yin-Yang sends his demons to take over the monk’s dreams, to kill him. The fox overhears and enters the dream world to save the man she loves.

Morpheus doesn’t feature as prominently here as in the other books in the series, but I loved that Gaiman got to describe the Sandman (at least more than the graphic novels allow):

“The King of Dreams had skin as pale as the winter moon and hair as black as a raven’s wing, and his eyes were pools of night inside which distant stars glittered and burned. His robe was the colour of night, and flames and faces appeared in the base of it and were gone. He began to speak, in a voice that was gentle, yet as strong as silk.”

Dream Hunters was a gorgeous read. The paintings and drawings were lush, dark, mesmerising and not merely an accompaniment to the text but that which told the story on their own. As Amano writes in the afterword: “It was almost destined that our paths would cross. This is only the beginning.”

Dream Hunters is also available in graphic novel form.

Book provided by – my library