Independence Day which is pretty fitting considering that tomorrow is the Fourth of July).
I also had a long dry spell where almost nothing I picked up to read seemed to interest me, but I've recently read some amazing books which I'd like to briefly share with you. Two were on audiobook, which I listen to on my trusty and well-used iPod.
First, you probably already know that Neil Gaiman is a wonderfully amazing writer, but but did you also know that he is also an amazingly wonderful reader, at least of the two works of his to which I've listened? Last year, I was fortunate enough to listen to The Graveyard Book, my first Gaiman ever and coincidentally the winner of not only the Newbery Award for best novel of 2009 but also the Audie for best audiobook of 2009. Then last week I picked up Neverwhere on audio and listened to it. What a magical audiobook, and so masterfully read by its author.
Neverwhere tells the story of Richard Mayhew, an unassuming young businessman living in London. Richard has a dull job and a pretty but demanding fiancee, but he's relatively happy, or believes he is. Then one night, on the way to dinner with his fiancee where he is to meet her wealthy employer, he stumbles across a homeless girl who lies bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her, against the strong objections of his fiancee, and the life he has known vanishes like smoke. Literally. It vanishes. His bank account is gone. His apartment is being rented out as if it is vacant. People can't even seem to see him when he's standing in a puddle in front of them, naked but for a small handtowel draped across a strategic area of his anatomy, dripping from the bath that was interrupted by a leasing agent and a pair of prospective new tenants. And he's being stalked by two of the worst, creepiest and evil assassins who ever existed. He has, in fact, fallen through the cracks. Thus begins his sojourn in the city below the city, where magic is as natural as traffic lights and smog in the upper world. It was so good, I wanted to start listening to it again as soon as I finished it. And now I've got Fragile Things, another audiobook of his that he reads, on hold at the library for pickup soon.
The second book I've listened to recently that I want to share with you is A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Now, I follow Libba Bray on Twitter, but didn't think I'd like her work as I'm not usually enamoured of angst-ridden YA romances. Wow, was I ever wrong. A Great and Terrible Beauty, set in the late 1800s, begins the trilogy that tells the story of 16-year-old Gemma Doyle who, after the suicide of her mother, is shipped away from the life she has known in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. While there, she discovers a magical realm beyond the mundane world through a door that only she can open. While there was some angst and a small bit of romance, there was so much more: guilt, Victorian absurdities, danger, death, suspense, murder, and redemption. As a friend on LibraryThing.com said, "Why oh why couldn't young girls have become enamoured with this series instead of with the stupid Twilight series..."
Some other excellent audiobooks I've enjoyed lately are Jasper Fforde's Something Rotten and First Among Sequels, the last two (so far) of the Tuesday Next series, and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, a reread for me. Black Hills by Dan Simmons, the story of Paha Sapa who touched General Custer just as he died and became infected with Custer's ghost, is also good, though the parts where Custer was talking were a bit offputting.
Later this weekend, I'll post some of the paper books I've read and enjoyed in the past few months. Now it's time to clean the kitchen, which I allowed to fall into terrible disarray over the past few days. It will be good to be able to use the sink and see the counters again.