Latest Library Haul

Since I was young Saturdays have always meant a trip to the library. This has continued into adulthood and I now share this experience with my kids. Usually we all leave with a full bag each (if library cards were credit cards we’d be in trouble as they are always at the limit). Here are my latest acquisitions.


I have never read anything by Ishiguro but Never Let Me Go has been on my reading list for years.  When I saw The Remains of the Day on one of the shelf displays I decided to give it a shot, not to mention that I have always wanted to watch the movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.  There is something about the title that evoked a certain sadness in me, after reading the back cover I can see why.

I have only read two books in the Shannara series, The Sword of Shannara and the Elfstones of Shannara and I read those way back in the summer I was about the enter high school.  They were pure magic for me and I have always meant to pick the series back up.  Since this is the first book in the Legends of Shannara series, I thought it was a perfect place to start.

I first heard of this book after reading an excellent review on Bookworm Blues. I fell in love with the cover and after seeing in the flesh it was just begging to be read.

I saw this title several months back on Amazon and I filed it away on my to be read list.  It was billed as art Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro and part William S. Burroughs.  With that kind of comparison I could not resist.

This is actually the second time I have checked this book out.  The first time I was not able to get it read before it was due back.  It has a long wait list so that is an excellent sign of how good I expect it to be.

I have been patiently waiting for May to arrive and with it the new Harry Dresden book Skin Game.  I was pleasantly surprised when I found this title as I thought I had read all the Dresden graphic novels available.

So, has  anyone been to the library lately?  If so, what did you bring home?  Happy reading!!

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The tale of a youth whose features, year after year, retain the same appearance of innocent beauty while the shame of his abhorrent vices becomes mirrored on the features of his portrait.  (Summary from Goodreads)

I have been wanting to expand my reading of the classics and I thought I would start with The Picture of Dorian Gray. I knew the premise of the story and had watched the 2009 movie version starring Ben Barnes but I knew I was not getting the entire story, so I decided to read the book. 

What if we could stay young and beautiful and channel all of the worst parts of ourselves into a repository for our sins? Well that is just what Dorian Gray does. I am an avid reader of speculative fiction and while the book hints at the supernatural (the painting) it plays only a minor role and instead focuses on Dorian’s life of pure hedonism.

Oscar Wilde’s prose is beautiful to read and adds such an air of romance to the book that every page blossoms. The characters are very passionate, not just in a physical sense, but in everything they do. Dorian in his quest experience all the pleasures of life, Basil in his pursuit of art, and even Lord Henry and his social experiments.

Dorian comes across as a self-centered and egotistical dandy, whose physical beauty keeps him popular in social circles even if his acts do not. Dorian is such an interesting character and I have to wonder, was Dorian destined to fall in such a way, or was he pushed? The opening scene where Basil is finishing the painting of Dorian and meets Lord Henry is, in my opinion, the pivotal point of the story. Basil and Lord Henry are the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. One pushing him to goodness and purity and the other pushing him seek only pleasure. It is interesting to think what Dorian might have become had he never met Lord Henry.

While Dorian’s story is fascinating (though the story did slog a bit for me at chapter 11 but picked up afterward) , Lord Henry is even more interesting. I think he is just as much a villain as Dorian. He moves through the book pushing Dorian to heights of excess and all the while never doing those things himself. He is like the drug dealer that sells but never partakes. He is content to sit back and watch events unfold after setting them in motion. He makes mention early in the book of his love of social experiments and I would say that Dorian is his greatest achievement.

Reading The Picture of Dorian Gray made to realise the plethora of classics that I have not read but would most certainly enjoy. I will certainly be reading more in the future.

The Crow by James O’Barr

Eric has returned from the dead, driven only by hate and the need to wreak revenge on those who killed him and raped and then killed his beloved Shelly.   (summary from Goodreads)

I received The Crow as a Christmas gift in 1994 after falling in love with the movie earlier that year. This is only the second time that I have read it and it has stood the test of time for it remains my favorite graphic novel.

The Crow is a powerful story of love, loss, and revenge. It is dark, very dark, and almost painful to read at times because of the raw emotions that proliferate the pages.

One of the most powerful sections of this book is the introduction by John Bergin and it describes how O’Barr funneled his rage and pain at losing someone dear into the pages of this book. Here is my favorite part of the introduction and sets the tone of the story.

One day you are going to lose everything you have. Nothing will prepare you for that day. Not faith…not religion…nothing. When someone you love dies, you will know emptiness… You will know what it is to be completely and utterly alone. You will never forget and never forgive. The lonely do not usually speak as completely and intimately as James O’Barr does here in this book- so, if anything, at least take this lesson from The Crow: think about what you have to lose.

I have a very deep, emotional connection to this book.  Not long after reading it my father was killed in a car crash.  One day he was there and the next he was gone.  Nothing can prepare you for that kind of pain.  One day you are making plans and then, in the blink of an eye, that person is gone and all that is left is a void that nothing can fill.  There is pain, rage, sadness, but worst of all is the terrible feeling of loneliness.  I struggled for months after my father’s death but this book helped me put the pieces of my life back together.  It gave me an outlet for all my rage and pain.

Looking back, this was one of the first graphic novels I ever read and it set the stage for my love of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, whose wild black hair, pale skin, and brooding demeanor reminded be so much of Eric Draven.