Posts by: April @ The Steadfast Reader

Fantastical Friday: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Posted 13 September, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Fantastical Friday: The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Published by Harper Collins on June 18th 2013
Genres: Coming of Age, Fiction, General, Literary
Pages: 208

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

It sounds trite, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an instant classic! 

My sole problem with this novel is that it’s touted as an adult novel, when it’s really closer in form and structure to Coraline than American GodsIt’s YA lit in the tradition of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I predict that The Ocean at the End of the Lane will one day make it’s way onto summer reading lists everywhere. 

It examines the links between childhood and adulthood, things forgotten and things returned. Lots of good stuff. 

Read it. Now.

At a mere 181 pages, it’s a quick read, so no excuses!

What’s your favorite Neil Gaiman novel? 


April @ The Steadfast Reader



Throwback Thursday: The Bell Jar

Posted 12 September, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Throwback Thursday: The Bell JarThe Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Published by HarperCollins Genres: Classics, Fiction, Literary
Pages: 416

The Bell Jar chronicles the breakdown of the brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful Esther Greenwood, a woman slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's demise with such intensity that the character's insanity becomes completely real, even rational -- as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

First line: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

This is the most powerful piece of literature that I have read in a long time. Reviewed as ‘a female Catcher in the Rye, I found it to be much more than that. This book spoke to me and affected me in ways that a book has not done in quite awhile. 

The way that Plath describes depression and her ‘descent into madness’ in unparalleled in anything else I have ever read. Since this book is semi-autobiographical I have to wonder if with today’s medicine and therapy techniques if Plath could have been saved.

“‘I wonder who you’ll marry now, Esther. Now you’ve been,’ and Buddy’s gesture encompassed the hill, the pines and the severe, snow-gabled buildings breaking up the rolling landscape, ‘here.'”

“How did I know that someday – at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere – the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again.”

“My mother smiled. ‘I knew my baby wasn’t like that.’
I looked at her. ‘Like what?’
‘Like those awful people. Those awful dead people at that hospital.’ she paused. ‘I knew you’d decide to be all right again.'”


#422 – 1001 Books to Read Before You Die (2010)

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Worthy Biographies: Steve Jobs

Posted 12 September, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Worthy Biographies: Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Published by Simon and Schuster on September 10th 2013
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Business & Economics, Computers & Information Technology, General, History, Leadership, Macintosh, Personal Computers, Technology & Engineering
Pages: 630

The phenomenal bestseller about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs from the author of the acclaimed biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson set down the riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. Isaacson’s portrait touched hundreds of thousands of readers. At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs still stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering. Although Jobs cooperated with the author, he asked for no control over what was written. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. He himself spoke candidly about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues offer an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped Jobs’s approach to business, the innovative products that resulted, and his legacy.

 Comprehensive and well written – Walter Isaacson does not disappoint. He doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the mean and spiteful side of Jobs. But it is clear that the man was a genius in his own right, albeit a flawed one. 

Another reason this book is so enjoyable is that it’s also a history of modern computing. It would be impossible to discuss the rise, fall, and resurrection of Apple without speaking of Microsoft, Xerox, HP, and other companies that were instrumental in computing as we know it today. 

Fascinating read.

April @ The Steadfast Reader