Nothing O’clock: Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who adventure

Nothing_O'ClockDoctor Who is a legendary TV series in the UK. For those not familiar with it, it is surprisingly difficult to actually describe it, but since I want to introduce you to the literature – part of it, I’m going to give it a shot. The Doctor is an alien, the last of his race, the Time Lords. As the name of the race indicates, the Doctor has special knowledge that allows him to travel through space and time. Usually along with a human friend, the Doctor has saved the earth from various dangers and alien invasions throughout the history of our existence.

So why am I writing about a TV series? This is one of the rare occasions when instead of books turning into film adaptations, a series has turned into book adaptations, and that is so, so fascinating! What is even more wonderful is that the story adaptations are exceptional. Every year,  an author is asked to write a small fiction novel based on doctor who, and the results so far have been inspiring.

Nothing o’clock was written by fantasy expert Neil Gaiman. The Doctor, along his human friend Amy Pond, meets a strange alien race that has been imprisoned for thousands of years, and its plan to wipe out the human race in order to use planet earth as their own home. Slightly frightening, very well written and brilliant, Nothing O’clock is a short story that is definitely worth your time, even if you are not familiar with the series. After all, it is a good way to get acquainted to it!

We have always lived in the castle

We-Have-Always-Lived-in-the-CastleLiving in a large mansion in the middle of a vast private garden, the Blackwood family had always been dislike by the residents of the village. The hate, however, came when the parents, their ten year old son and an aunt died of arsenic poisoning. But who murdered them and why? Why are the Blackwood daughters that survived so hated?

This is the last novel Shirley Jackson wrote before her death. It is as well written as a book can get, atmospheric, and with lots of suspense. You start the story not knowing what is going on with the family. Why is Constance never out of the garden? How did Mary Kate survive? What does Uncle Julian remember of that night? You follow their lives moving among the villagers, and then inside the house, and everything you see, smell and hear, combine with the thoughts of the narrator, young survivor Mary Kate Blackwood. Its eerie atmosphere will captivate you. This is not a book easily put down before it is finished!

Should you read this? Let me put it this way. Do you like eerie stories? This is not horror in the sense of splatter, excessive violence or supernatural fantasy. It is a different kind of horror story; spooky, yet extremely tasteful, so much that you forget that it is meant to be scary. Don’t get it wrong, you will get frightened, but not from the murders or the murderer, but from deeper aspects of the book: the mind of the surviving victims, the bad intentions of people, the hate for everything that is different to an individual in contrast to social structures. So yes, this is definitely worth reading. In fact, all of Jackson’s novels are worth your time.

Vampire Fantasy Books: Which ones should you pick and why?

33536You know it, I know it, everybody knows it; Vampire books have been “in fashion” for quite a while. Most of them, admittingly, are light reading, but there is something about this branch of fantasy books that has made a large portion of bookworms  interested in them. Serious and heavy reading is fine and it’s great, but at some points you need to unwind and read a little something that doesn’t necessarily have deeper meanings.These are some popular vampire books, complete with summaries and  my humble revies of them. Enjoy!

Vampire Diaries

We are, of course, talking about the books, and (THANK GOD!) not the series. So Elena, an ordinary human being, finds herself in between the love of two vampire brothers, and trouble begins! This is so classic, it could be called a cliché, yet for some reason it actually works! There’s no vamp book without love, bloodlust, and violence. But when it comes to vampires with a dark past, well, sign me up!  Should you read this? Hey, it’s a very famous book series, so who am I to judge? It’s fun, at least along the first couple of books (why does it always have to be more than one book??), and quite well written. Needless to say, it is much much better than the TV series.

Twilight Saga

TwilightbookAgain, much better than the movie adaptation (isn’t that always the case?). Bella is an ordinary human teenager (wow, I see that pattern never gets old) that moves to Washington State to live in a small town with her father. Her life is about to change when she meets the Cullen brothers and sisters, who attend her highschool. This is a book  series most teenagers and young adults will appreciate, since it comes to terms with teen angst, the fear of not being unique, and finding the One True Love. Other than that, I cannot really say it is well written (how many times do I have to read that Bella sighed and Edward whispered, seriously?) , the second book is really, really boring (like the essays that have to be 2000 words long, but you have only come up with around 500, so you put irrelevant words in- like sighed, or whispered…), and I have started feeling a bit like a nagging old lady, so let’s go to the next book, please!

True Blood Novels ( original title: Sookie Stackhouse novels)

Book01DeadUntilDarkRemember True Blood? Guess what! Yes, that is a book series, originally titled the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Now  I can finally write about a vamp series I liked (yay!). Sookie is a normal human being (wow…) who works as a waitress in a small American town. We are currently in an alternate universe, where vampires have come to the surface and made themselves known to the world, and since us human beings are not particularly tolerant (does racism ring any bells?), our vampire friends and their human supporters have a hard time trying to lead a normal life. Sookie’s normal life will come to an end when she meets Vampire Bill ( I know, the name could have been better) who comes to the town in order to lead a normal life..or so he says. This is a different kind of vampire story, since it introduces deeper issues, such as intolerance, politics, trust. Should you read this? Yes, I think you should. But mind you, there are some really violent scenes in it. It is, however, a very good series.

 

Casa Dracula

This is light reading. Just reminding you. Milagros de Los Santos (which translates in “miracle of the saints”, so points for creativity) meets a family with a strange health issue that resembles vampirism. Craving for blood, needing special sunblock in the sun and healing very fast are some of the characteristics of the so called virus. Milagros soon realizes that she was infected and her life changes rapidly. This is quite well written and very funny. The author has used huge amounts of humor on building her hero’s character, and the result is hilarious. Should you read this? If you need a good laugh, definitely. If you’re looking for deeper meanings…well, the author has tried, it’s just not very obvious. Nevertheless, it’s a good reading material for a night of unwinding after a long day.