How it takes an entire graveyard to raise a child(Finished "The Graveyard Book")

I have yet to be disappointed by Neil Gaiman. He writes such wonderful stories, and I can't get enough of his writing. My mom, sister, and I have just finished reading "The Graveyard Book." Here's my review. Spoilers might pop up.

"The Graveyard Book" is Neil Gaiman's version of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." The book's protagonist is Nobody Owens, a young boy orphaned when his entire family is murdered at the beginning. He manages to crawl away(He's around 18 months at the beginning of the novel)from his house before the killer(the man Jack)finds him, and makes his way up to a graveyard that is at the top of a hill by his house. There, he is given refuge by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, two well meaning ghosts who never had children in life, and are more than willing to care for the young boy. He is also watched over by Silas, a vampire that agrees to be the boy's guardian until he grows up. The novel follows 'Bod' from the time he is a small boy to when he's fifteen years old, and has to deal with the past murder of his family, and confronting the man Jack.

Now, you might think that the story is an extremely grim one based on my description above. And I won't lie, there is plenty of things that scared me or things I found grim and tragic. But it's not a straight-up tragedy. It actually manages to be extremely humorous, and even warm and loving at times in its narrative. That's one of the things I like about Neil Gaiman. He manages to pull off bringing both the light and dark elements of any story he's tackling and brings the two together in a very convincing way. And I really love the character of Bod. He's just an extremely likable hero for the story, making the book something that both kids and adults can read. But there is a bit of sadness to the story as well. I mean, after all, it's set in a graveyard, so it does deal with death. And while all the ghosts in the graveyard care for Bod, and teach him everything they can, Bod is still caught between the living and the dead, and since most of the book Bod is in the graveyard, he does(SPOILER ALERT)eventually have to leave the graveyard behind. That end chapter alone is rather sad, because while its good for Bod to leave to go out and explore the world of the living, he has to leave all the ghosts in the graveyard behind, essentially losing his family.*Sigh*Makes me mopey just thinking about it.(SPOILERS DONE)

But don't let the fact that there's sad stuff stop you from reading it. It's really a great book. And I have hopeful expectations for the movie that is being made from it by Neil Jordan(The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire).

Please excuse, I must get back to "American Gods."

(no subject)

OK. I know I don't have any real reason to complain(and I'm actually not trying to), but it just feels weird to me how fast June went. It feels like mere hours ago when I was just dreading the thought of going to Jury Duty for the first time. That was almost three and a half weeks ago. Now it's July 2nd.

Now, like I said, I know I don't have a right to complain. There isn't anything that is demanding on me at the moment. But all the same, I just find it so discomforting when time goes by so quickly. When I was little, I imagined that I would never experience time going at a faster than the one I was feeling. Time was a frickin' snail! Now, I feel like summer is half-way through, and its the beginning of July!

Human beings really need to make an invention that can slow down time just a smidgen. I really want to try and experience much of life before it whips past me. =(

Honorary post for sister...

My sister believes I do not post on here often enough.

So here's just a quick post:

-Watching Empire Strikes Back, as it's the 30th anniversary of its release.
-Going to have dinner/bbq(kinda) later while watching the Giants game.
-And my sister hates my essence.

That's all for now.

At the movies.

Today's family outing was to go see "Toy Story 3."

It felt(and still feels) really strange to see this series come full circle. The first one was released way back in '95. I was still in elementary school. Now, three years outside of high school, age 21, the last movie comes out.

...And it didn't disappoint in the slightest.

I won't give a full review of the film, but needless to say, I'm very pleased with the outcome. It's not easy coming up with a sequel, since you have to find where exactly you can expand the story and world from the previous film, and come up with new stuff that is organic to the setting, but still have some tricks up your sleeve in order to surprise the audience. It's no easy task, and while many films admirably try, they don't always pull it off.

Pixar studios, however, seems to operate by its own set of rules. They have nothing short of masterful, emotional storytellers and highly-skilled animators that continue to produce solid, good(if not great) work. Toy Story 3, I was a little hesitant, but my fears were put to rest. This is definitely a must-see. Be warned, however. It's not a fully uplifting film. If there's one thing that most if not all the Pixar movies have, it's a strong element of sadness. And the Toy Story films all deal with the sadness of growing up. It is a wonderful, and important thing to do, but we lose something when we do. The stories of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the toy gang represent that. So go see it, but bring some handkerchiefs with you, just in case.

...and prepare to be shocked by a preview for a Smurfs movie just before =P

Also, I just saw the trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today. Looks epic, and I want November to come already.

Father's day...

Hey everyone(...the few people that read this journal =P). Today is Father's Day.

Go do something extra special for dad. He's the only one you've got, so show how important he is to you.

Will post more later...

First-time Potential Juror

So I finished my first round of jury duty today. Rather tedious, but still insightful. It starts when you get a notice in the mail, saying from this date to this date, the group that you've been picked to be apart of, will be listed as a possible group to come in and server as a potential juror.

So I go a few days without my group being picked. Then Wednesday afternoon, last week, my group gets called in. So the next morning I go down to the Hall of Justice, find the juror waiting room and wait. Always bring a book, as I have been told(brought the mystery novel "Big Red Tequila" by Rick Riordan). So the first bit is just waiting for a while. Then after a bit, they put on one of those instruction videos, kind of like those cheesy videos you see in career-ed on how exciting it is to be on the workforce. But this one I understand, and it is important. So after that they start calling people out of the room. I assume these people were sent to courtrooms to sit as potential jurors, I don't know, because it was different with me. After two sets of people were called up, the waiting room then became a courtroom briefly. And we were instructed that if we had no valid reason for not serving as a possible juror for the demanded time period, we were to return on Monday at 1:30 for jury selection.

So I come back Monday, this time in a courtroom. We were all sitting and waiting for a bit. Then after a roll-call and being instructed on how the process worked, the judge came in and the vetting began. The lawyers said their bit, and then began asking jurors questions. It took all afternoon. It got to 4:30, which is when the courts close, and since the jurors hadn't been selected yet, we were all instructed to come back in this morning. You all still with me so far...

So finally next morning we come back, and after a few jurors were either excused or sent back up to the juror waiting room to be put on a different case, I got to sit in the juror box. There were a total of twenty-five seats. I was lucky number twenty-five. I was asked some of the same questions they asked yesterday(i.e. would I be biased one way or the other, would I keep an open mind so I could view all the evidence and facts fairly, etc.). Then they began to officially start selecting the jurors. They needed a total of 16(12 officials, and 4 potential replacements). They decided by eliminating jurors 1-12. The lawyers picked which ones to excuse. Once excused, we were done. After a good amount of waiting, I was sitting the row for 19-25. Then defense asked juror#3 to be excused. After number three left, I went and sat in seat three. As soon as I sat down, the prosecutor asked me to be excused(how's that for ya?). I got up, left, and hence concluded my jury duty for the year.

I feel the same about jury duty as I do about taxes. It's extremely important to do, and its an important part of our society, but that lazy, pampered side is still there going,"I don' wanna!" I am glad I don't have to serve this time round, and get to relax for another year.

On the other hand, if I had been picked, I might not have been totally unhappy. The prosecutor, I must admit, was a very attractive woman. That alone might have made it worth the while. But alas, she was the one to ask me to be excused.

Finished a good amount of reading today.

I've finally finished two things that have been on my list for a while: First is "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman, second is "The Walking Dead Vol.1" graphic novel by Robert Kirkman.

"The Magicians" is an adult perception of the fantasy genre, specifically books like "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis and the "Harry Potter" books by J.K. Rowling. The story takes from both those novel series, as well as others. But it doesn't deal with the coming of age story the same way those books do. Those books had a certain innocence to them(and I don't mean to make that sound as a negative thing). "The Magicians" is purely an adult novel, not really for the 10-13 year old demographic. It follows the character of Quentin Coldwater, a shy young boy obsessed with the fantasy world of Fillory, a world that exists in the books of his childhood. He starts out as a young guy of 17 in Brooklyn, then suddenly finds out he's been accepted into a school for wizards called Brakebills in upstate New York. From there, while delving into a world of magic, he also deals with adult things such as drugs, sex, even death. I finished it feeling that it was a very good book that I liked, but its also a downer as well. I understand that not every story should be a feel good story, but you really want things to turn out OK, and more than half the time, they don't. But that's something you have to deal with as an adult, so the novel is painfully perceptive in that way. But definitely worth the read.

"The Walking Dead" is about a lone group of human survivors in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled world. The main character is Rick Grimes, a small-town police officer who wakes up from a coma and finds his town deserted of human life, but still inhabited by zombies. The story follows him all the way, and I assume the rest of the series does too. I became interested in this series, because I found out that Frank Darabont(who wrote and directed the great film, and one of my favorites,"The Shawshank Redemption) is adapting the graphic novels into a TV series for AMC. I don't know how it will turn out(I find that zombies are tricky monsters to handle, since they can be ridiculous) but I trust Frank Darabont and I liked the first graphic novel, so I have hopes.

So those ones are done. Now, I've got to finish "Big Red Tequila" by Rick Riordan.

For future reading, I have these on my list:
-Paradise Lost (John Milton)
-The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)
-The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
-Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

'Till next time, folks.

First post...

Hello, new user of livejournal. Hope this helps me in someway, either in networking or writing. Feel free to comment, or say hello...but nothing mean and nasty.