Review: Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

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It’s the Marvel Universe! Written by Neil Gaiman! Set in Elizabethan England! Nick Fury is John Dee! Stephen Strange is the Court Magician/Doctor! Magneto is basically the Spanish Inquisition!
I cannot use enough exclamation points. That’s how much I enjoyed it. It was great to fun to recognize characters (or not recognize them at first).
Anyway, There are disturbing storms and signs and omens that the world may be at its end. The Queen puts her best men on it. Meanwhile, the Spanish Inquisition is hunting down mutants and Virginia Dare (who has a terrible secret) accompanied by Rohjaz, her Native American caretaker, is coming to visit Queen Elizabeth to ask for more resources for the colony her father is governor of back in the New World. Von Doom is, unsurprisingly, trying to kill the Queen. And, James in Scotland’s is patiently awaiting the death of the Queen so he can rid the world of magic and super people.
Can everyone come together to keep the universe from ripping itself in half? Will the survive these terrible storms? Can Magneto and Professor X work together in this incarnation? SO MANY QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED.
This was a delightful book. I am so very happy that a friend recommended it to me. So, if you’re looking for a fun twist to superheroes and/or you like history, che

Dark Reads for Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is a much advertised shopping holiday here in the States: Black Friday. It’s a day full of sales and, if you’ve ever worked retail, full of awful people who don’t know what they want and/or don’t know how to be nice about it. Depending on the side of the fence you are on, it can be a dark day full of dark deeds. To get us all in the spirit of this terrible and wonderful day, we’ve put together a cheeky little list of books you could be reading instead of being yet another warm body crushed into the mall. This list is part horror, part horrifying, part oddly hopeful: just like the holiday season.

1. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Scary monsters to haunt your nightmares from beyond the stars and below the sea. What could be worse than not finding the perfect gift this holiday season? Well, let Mr. Lovecraft tell you.


2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline is a curious young lady exploring her family’s new apartment. What she finds is at first wonderful and strange. Then, it’s just strange. Maybe even dangerous and strange.

3. Fallen by Lauren Kate
Fallen angels, True Loves, and high school. What else do you need in your life? A Toaster?


4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark
In a world that is not our world two men try to restore magic in England. Don’t you wish there was magic in the world and you could just flick a wand and you’d be done Christmas shopping?


5. Dear John by Nicolas Sparks
This book might be the worst thing that ever happened to me. It’s hours worth of reading I can never get back. I don’t actually recommend reading it but if you wanted to know what real horror looks like to me its this: a lifetime trapped in Nicholas Sparks’ terrible and cliched prose.


6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula is a blood sucking fiend. Shopping is a soul sucking endeavor. You get the metaphor.

7. Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano
John Constantine is the anti-hero’s anti-hero. He’s a terrible person. Hell, he’s more unlikeable than likeable. And, yet he’s necessary and compelling and chain smoking. If you’re seeing the devils of commerce everywhere, you may need a little Constantine in your life.


8. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

This is technically the second book in the cycle, but I’m not sure you’d actually miss the first book. Will Stanton must fight the Black Rider and a blizzard at the holiday season and find the six sign symbols. He’s only eleven years old, can he do it?

9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Forgotten why we’re all doing this? Let Charles Dickens remind you in this classic tale. Bonus: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the stuff of nightmares.

Coh-rah-Lee-nay

I have this idea that I can improve my language skills by reading in the language. This is not a crazy idea.  But, I use it to justify a possibly crazy and weird habit.  I love buying books that I have already read that are translated into a language that I am studying.  I recently used my desire to be a better Spanish speaker as my excuse for walking past the Juan Rulfo, Octavio Paz, and Gabriel Trujillo (only one of those three whose work I’ve actually read in Spanish…and one I’ve not read at all) in a Mexican bookstore (Mexican bookstore as in a bookstore in Mexico and not as in a bookstore that specializes in Mexican books or a bookstore owned/operated by Mexican people or a bookstore that caters to the interests of Mexican people.  Although, the other interpretations are also probably true) heading straight to the YA and sci-fi/fantasy sections to see what’s there that I’ve already taken a bite out of.

I have a favorite little bookshop in San Cristobal de las Casas.  It was one of the first things I found the first time I was here doing research for my dissertation, so I was happy to find it again.  This time they had a lot to choose from.  There were translations of books I really want to read (Graceling) and I thought about breaking my rule and trying something new.  But, there was also Harry Potter and C.S, Lewis and Tolkien.  The one I finally settled on was none of the above.  I picked up a translated copy of my favorite Neil Gaiman book (maybe my second favorite?  I did really enjoy the Ocean and the end of the Lane.) Coraline.

The story is just as I remember it. And, either my Spanish had improved or this book is at a lower reading level than I remember. I recommend picking it up. It is a story about magic, family and growing up all in Gaiman’s quirky style.