I have two book reviews for you this week. The first is a book by Neil Gaiman that I picked up today and gobbled down in roughly 15 minutes. The second is a book written by Mur Lafferty the writer who got me thinking about pursuing a writing career and in many ways introduced me to Neil Gaiman. Somehow posting these two reviews together seemed like a perfect fit.
First things first, I love quotes, especially quotes that come from graduation commencement speeches.
Neil Gaiman’s ‘Make Good Art’ speech is jam-packed with advice about life. His words speak to the vulnerabilities and fears of those who wish to pursue their hopes and dreams, instead of comfort and security. He reminded me that I was not alone. He, a critically acclaimed award-winning author is still afraid of the “Fraud Police”. This acknowledgement of his vulnerabilities some how makes it ok for me to also be afraid of them.
The book based on Neil Gaiman’s ‘Make Good Art’ speech is a short but inspiring read. It’s unique and visually inspiring layout is designed by Chip Kidd. The effect of the design and the power of the words makes an inspiring combination and an enjoyable read.
A few months ago I had no idea who Neil Gaiman was, other than some guy I followed via twitter. (I’m not sure why I started following him. He probably tweeted something funny/inspiring) Last fall I discovered a podcast called I Should Be Writing.
I Should Be Writing is a podcast hosted by “wannabe writer” Mur Lafferty for wanna be writers. Between Mur’s soothing voice, informative annotations and interviews with authors, agents and editors, I quickly became an avid listener. She frequently mentioned this guy called Neil Gaiman. Curiosity got the better of me. I now own a few of his books and plan to meet him next month. *grins*
You may have noticed that I put quotations around wannabe writer when I refer to Mur. Well, her first Big 6 published book came out May 28th and is the focus of this book review.
The Shambling Guide To New York City by Mur Lafferty centers around a young woman named Zoe Norris.
Zoe was a travel book editor. That is until she fell in love with her boss and quickly realized that staying in Raleigh, North Carolina was hazardous to her health. Hoping for a fresh start she moves to New York City; lands a job as a travel book editor and finds that her world has gotten a lot more interesting and dangerous.
Zoe is tolerant that the company refrigerator has a ready supply of blood and brains and that one of her best writers is a death goddess. And while the incubus, down the hall, is tantalizing her water spite assistant is quick to intervene; most of the time. Zoe is there to do a job and a job she will do. She just needs to lock her office door and hope that her co-workers are well fed before she comes to work.
Life, while interesting, plays out like normal, well as normal as one can expect when one works with beings that could eat you. Zoe throws herself into her work. Getting to know her co-workers, assigning them stories, hiring new employees, and outlining a Travel Guide of New York City for Monsters.
Then things start to get weird, which says a lot for this particular office. Brains go missing, Zombies rampage, the HR manager looks eerily familiar, the incubus can not take a hint and Zoe’s ex boss is in town.
Mur has an interesting organization for this book. Between each chapter is a snippet from the book that Zoe is editing. I’ve read some reviews that find these tidbits annoying or disruptive, but I find that they add to the story and showcase Mur’s creativity and humor. They also lay the frame-work for the book’s climax.
Today I started listening to Book 2 of Mur’s Heaven series and while I am enjoying the story I can also hear how much Mur’s writing has improved over the years. I believe The Shambling Guide To New York City is her best work to date and I look forward to reading future works from this former wannabe writer.
Congrats on getting published Mur.
Love and Light,