Wednesday, July 31, 2013

GNW: The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson & Dan Jolley [Illustration by Joëlle Jones]

Not long ago, a plague spread across the world that killed off everyone over the age of twelve.The infection took hold of their bodies and eventually disintegrated them, but it somehow didn't affect children, which meant they were left to fend for themselves.

Most kids, when faced with having to survive on their own, didn't quite know how to cope. They stuck together and most ended up forming gangs, hoping to bully their way into providing for themselves.

Lisa Nelson and her little brother, Todd, are doing better than most. When the epidemic hit, Lisa was smart. Instead of going for the candy and sweets, she found things that could sustain her and her brother. She made trips out to the country to find food in abandoned homes. She kept them safe.

It's not long before other kids are coming to Lisa for help. She only wanted to survive and take care of her brother, but it soon becomes apparent that she's the only hope most of these kids have. It's either that or join the Chidester gang, a ruthless group of kids that has already attacked Todd once and against whom Lisa seems to be the only one who can stand.

With all these kids looking for her to take care of them, to give them the tools they need to survive, Lisa  decides to rise to the challenge. With the help of a few others, she builds her own city, one that can resist the attacks of the Chidester gang and others like them. She and her friends help others find their skill sets and place them in the appropriate places to use them to their fullest potential.

But the threat hasn't ended. The gangs are getting smarter and they'll do anything to take down Lisa's city and her along with it. It's going to take everything in Lisa's arsenal, and everyone, if they're going to survive.

I wasn't aware that this particular graphic novel was based off a book while I was reading it. I've since learned that and am now eager to get my hands on a copy.

I really enjoyed this. Lisa's character is down-to-earth and smart. She's tough and not afraid of hard work. She'll do anything to defend her little brother, and that's really what drives her character through the entirety of the book. He's her number one priority and it's him who convinces her that she has what it takes to lead others. It's through him that she realizes that there are plenty of kids who are just as helpless as Todd, who need that direction she alone seems to be able to provide.

Let's not forget about the beautiful artwork by Joëlle Jones! It's absolutely stunning. From the range of expressions and emotions she's able to capture perfectly to the realistic scars, bruises, and scrapes. Everything about it is rich and beautiful. I could go on and on about her stunning work, but you really just have to experience it for yourself.

This is definitely a graphic novel you want to get your hands on. I know I'm sure glad I did.

Rating: ★★★★★

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians, #2)

"I'll come rescue you," I promised. "Where are you?"
"The Sea of Monsters, of course!"
"The sea of what?"
"I told you! I don't know exactly where! And look, Percy . . . um, I'm really sorry about this, but this empathy link . . . well, I had no choice. Our emotions are connected now. If I die . . ."
"Don't tell me, I'll die too."
"Oh, well, perhaps not. You might live years in a vegetative state. But, uh, it would be a lot better if you got me out of here."

[Click here to see my review of book 1: The Lightning Thief]

With the movie adaptation of this particular book in the series rapidly approaching, I cannot be the only one who has been rushing to get a move on reading this series . . . or at least finish this book before the movie ruins it for you. (As excited as I am to see Logan Lehrman *swoon* reprise his role as Percy and as much as I love the casting of Tyson, I highly doubt they'll be able to do the book justice. But that's most movie adaptations, isn't it?)

Percy can't wait for the end of school and the beginning of this new year at Camp Half-Blood. He hasn't seen Annabeth since camp ended last summer and, though he won't get to see Grover (who is away searching for Pan), he's eager to get back to his friends and his own kind. It's the last day of school and Percy has managed to make it through the entire year without even one monster attacking him, but things change when a group of cannibals show up for dodgeball and it's up to Percy and his new friend Tyson to save their classmates from being eaten.

It turns out this is only the beginning of a very eventful (and highly dangerous) summer. Upon reaching Camp Half-Blood, Percy learns that Thalia's tree has been poisoned, which means the defenses around Camp Half-Blood are lower than they've ever been. It's practically an invitation for monsters to come feast on young demi-gods. Not to mention, Zeus is furious.

The Golden Fleece is their only hope for saving the camp and the demi-gods inside it. The problem? A Camp Activities Coordinator (literally) from Hell, a Cyclops, an old friend who has proven to be less than friendly, and a sea full of monsters. What could possibly go wrong?

I mentioned before that I am in love with this series and that fact remains strikingly true. As someone who has been deeply interested in Greek mythology since I first learned about it in elementary school, this is a dream come true. It's rare for any fiction based on the mythology to fit in so much accuracy, but Rick Riordan somehow manages it and all without sounding textbook. Kudos to him.

Percy, Annabeth, and friends are just as believable and thoroughly entertaining as they were in the first book. I look forward to taking more adventures with them and learning more about this crazy world that has it out for the young heroes.

 Rating: ★★★★★

Hermes gazed up at the stars. "My dear young cousin if there's one thing I've learned over the eons, it's that you can't give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it."

Friday, July 26, 2013

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (If I Stay, #1)

I know that Gramps can't be that late-inning pinch hitter I'd hoped for. He won't unplug my breathing tube or overdose me with morphine or anything like that. But this is the first time that anyone has acknowledged what I have lost. I know that the social worker warned Gran and Gramps not to upset me, but Gramps's recognition and the permission he just offered me -- it feels like a gift.

I picked up If I Stay because I had heard it was slated to become a movie soon and, with all the good reviews I'd heard coming from the four corners of the YA world, I figured it was one of those novels I just couldn't miss.

When Mia wakes up from the terrible car crash that instantly killed her parents and sent she and her brother to the ICU, she is presented with a choice. While her body lies on the hospital bed, fighting to make it from one minute to the next, her consciousness is somehow outside of it, able to see her family, friends, even the nurses that surround her. She begins to realize that somehow the choice has been handed to her: she can stay or she can go.

The choice is more difficult than any she's ever had before. With the kind of devastation she'll have to deal with if she stays, leaving sounds like the perfect option. No more pain, no more struggle. Still, what she has left might just be worth living for. In the end, it's up to Mia. Only she can decide her own fate.

After the end of the book itself, Gayle Forman has added a page that explains the inspiration for If I Stay. Apparently, she got the idea from the story of a family of four who were also involved in a tragic accident where one held on longer than the others, but died in the end. She remembers wondering whether that last child realized that his family was gone, that they had moved on without him, and chose to go along with them. She decided to explore that thought in this book. What an intriguing idea! I can see why she wanted to look into it further.

On top of a very interesting premise, we are presented with Mia, our main character, who I really enjoyed getting to know. She's a sweet girl who was close with her family and carries hope for a promising future. She has a loving boyfriend and a loyal best friend, both of whom are devastated by this disaster and pulling for her to come back to them.

The writing was excellent and the characterization well-done. I really enjoyed this read and the important questions it asked. Forman didn't shy away from the hard questions or even Mia's thoughts about letting it all end here. It would be really easy for this to become the sort of book that basically shouts at the reader about life being worth living. This book didn't do that. Not at all. And I loved that about If I Stay. It was real and it legitimately grappled with the choice instead of making it a PSA.

Rating: ★★★★☆
"But if you need me to go away, I'll do that too. I was talking to Liz and she said maybe coming back to your old life would just be too painful, that maybe it'd be easier for you to erase us. And that would suck, but I'd do it. I can lose you like that if I don't lose you today. I'll let you go. If you stay."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

GNW: The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen & Rebecca Guay

When Tansy finds dragon's bane while searching for herbs with her father, the town healer, she doesn't think much of it. She finds it's strange properties- how it burns the skin on contact and doesn't need much prodding to burst into flames- intriguing, but little more.

However, when her father goes missing and, only a few days later, her sister's suitor runs into town, claiming he has seen a dragon, the town turns to Tansy to tell them what they must do. She calls for a hero.

Lancot, a "hero" from across the sea returns with the boys who were sent out to find them, and Tansy immediately recognizes that the man is no hero. He's muscular and pretty, yes, but he knows nothing of danger, nor does he have the drive to protect Tansy's people.

However, they must keep up appearances and as Tansy does her best to nudge him in the right direction, she begins making plans of her own to save her people. There's something about her and her determination that draws Lancot to her. Maybe all he needed was someone to protect, after all.

The Last Dragon is a beautifully crafted tale of a man and woman who work together to defeat a foe that is larger than life, though both are scared and neither are particularly qualified. This was a beautiful graphic novel.

The story by Jane Yolen was wonderful and really wrapped the audience up in the story, but it was Rebecca Guay's artistry that really captivates the reader. The artwork is breath-taking. It varies from panel to panel, one being so life-like that it looks almost like a portrait, while others were more stylistically cartoonish. I could look at the color work and the attention to detail for days and still find new things I hadn't properly admired before.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Capture by Kathryn Lasky (Guardians of Ga'Hoole, #1)

"A legend, Kludd, is a story that you begin to feel in your gizzard and then over time it becomes true in your heart. And perhaps makes you a better owl."

I saw the movie adaptation of Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole series back while it was still in theaters and fell in love with it. It was created in the same manner of Inkheart, where they changed quite a great deal about the story so they could fit it into a single movie instead of a series of movies; so that it becomes it's own entity, almost something separate from its origins.

I've been wanting to read the books for some time, mostly because I kept having middle grade readers coming into my video store and telling me why the movie was nothing compared to the book. Few things make me want to read a book more than when a child goes into raptures over it. They always know a good story when they see one. So I finally got my hands on a copy and cracked it open.

When Soren, a Snowy Barn Owl, falls out of his nest, he expects the very fate his parents warned him about. An owl that can't fly isn't far from being the next meal of whatever predator happens to be nearby. However, Soren manages to avoid this fate when he is taken by another owl, a type he's never seen before, and carried away to St. Aggie's Academy for Orphaned Owls. The thing is, none of these owls were "orphaned" before they were taken from the nests, usually while their parents were off hunting for their food.

But something even more sinister is going down at St. Aggie's. Soren makes a friend, Gylfie, an Elf Owl, and the two stick close to each other, each keeping up the other's spirits as they plan to make their escape and warn other owls of the threat that lays in the canyon where St. Aggie's is hidden.

Like I mentioned, I was fairly certain I would enjoy this book, and I most definitely have. Soren and Gylfie are lovely as the main hero and heroine. They're young, scared, and reluctant; yet both have this unwavering desire to help the owlets they see around them, as well as the ones they are fully aware rest in unknowing danger simply because of the presence of a place like St. Aggie's.

I cannot wait to see what happens in the second book and the volumes following. I can tell Soren's journey will be one filled with love, sacrifice, and bravery: key elements for all the best kinds of adventures.

Rating: ★★★★☆

"I hated the idea of being the pathetic dependent owl, the one the owlets were always forced to visit. I decided that it was contrary to my nature to lead such a life and that if I could not live like a normal owl, I would in fact, use my disability for some noble purpose."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

"I never shut up."
"Yes, you do."
"Not much."
"I could make you shut up."
"Oh, yeah?" Avery said, turning her face to Mel's. "How?"
In a way, Mel's answer was a surprise to both of them. She simply sealed Avery's lips with her own.
And she was right. That seemed to shut Avery up.

I started reading The Burmudez Triangle (also alternately titled, On the Count of Three) on the day that DOMA was shot down as a way of celebrating equal rights for all. I'd had this novel sitting on one of my (many) to-be-read shelves and I figured that was the perfect time to start.

I've read a few of Maureen Johnson's books in the past and I still have two more on my to-be-read shelves. I have also met her a few times at various book events (ie. LeakyCon and Teen Book Con), follow her on Twitter (if you aren't following her on Twitter, then I don't know why you're on the site at all), and legitimately own a T-shirt with her face on it. Now that I sound sufficiently like a crazed stalker (I promise, I'm not), the point I'm trying to make is that she's a pretty great author and an awesome person. I was excited to see how she handled such a controversial topic that has already managed to get the book banned in a number of school libraries. I was pretty confident that, if anyone could handle it, she could. I was right.

When Nina goes off to summer camp at Stanford, she is nervous about being away from her best friends and being in a new environment. It's the first of many changes to be had in her life. After all, senior year is just around the corner and then it's off to college and she'll have to figure things out that won't involve the two girls she's done everything with since kindergarten. However, the biggest change seems to happen while she's gone: Mel and Avery, those very two girls, have their first kiss. With each other.

Mel and Avery start dating after that night, but calling things complicated is an understatement. Each has to come to terms with what they've learned about themselves and that's just the beginning. Though they try to keep things under wraps, it's not easy to keep secrets in small towns. Nina and their new friend, Parker, do their best to be supportive, but sometimes there's only so much friends can do in tough situations, particularly when that situation throws your friends for a loop too.

I really enjoyed everything about this book. Maureen does a wonderful job at weaving each of the girl's points of view into a coherent piece that makes you want to keep reading late into the night. Nina, Avery, Mel, and even Parker could easily be the kids you went to high school with. It's definitely a treat to read such believable (and relatable) characters dealing with something that plenty of us have had to deal with. I especially enjoyed the fact that none of them dealt with these revelations perfectly. Every character had to deal with coming to terms with the big news, as well as all the other little bits and pieces of their own lives that threatened to overwhelm them.

If you haven't read The Bermudez Triangle yet, you need to. Go pick it up. You won't regret it.

Rating: ★★★★★

What were the chances that both of my best friends would be gay?
This was a good point. After all, didn't that say something about her? And she was part of a triangle. Hello!
She was so gay.
No, she wasn't. She had a boyfriend. She was writing to him now to get advice about her gay friends.
A boyfriend who lived three thousand miles away. How convenient! Unconsciously she had been setting herself up for this all along because she must have known that deep down, she was a total and complete lesbian, part of a lifelong lesbian trio.
She had to put her head down against the edge of her desk and count backward from twenty and then again from twenty-five before she could continue typing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Graphic Novel Wednesdays

I've been debating for some time whether or not I should start reviewing graphic novels on this blog. I read them pretty avidly, but not at all at the scale on which I read regular books. I have come across some pretty great ones, though that I've wanted to share and haven't really been sure how. Should I make a Youtube channel and become a part-time Booktuber? Should I just throw them in with my other reviews and just let people deal with it?

Finally, I came to a decision: Graphic Novel Wednesdays. Yeah, it's a terrible name. Sue me. The point is, I'm going to start uploading reviews on Wednesdays in addition to the usual Monday and Friday posts. Only the Wednesday reviews will be specific to graphic novel.

I look forward to sharing my finds with y'all and hope you'll enjoy them as much as my usual book reviews. In the meantime, here's a taste of what you'll be seeing on Graphic Novel Wednesdays in the near future:

*Just to clarify for any who were wondering, graphic novels do not count toward my hundred book goal.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians, #1)

Gabe turned toward me and spoke in the rasping voice of the Oracle: You shall go west, and face the god who has turned.
His buddy on the right looked up and said in the same voice: You shall a what was stolen, and see it safely returned.
The guy on the left threw in two poker chips, then said: You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend.
Finally, Eddie, our building super, delivered the worst line of all: And you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end.

I was one of those who was introduced to the Percy Jackson series when the movie, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, came out. I adored the movie and was absolutely stoked when I realized it was based off a book series. Even still, it took a while before I actually got around to reading it. I must have checked it out from the library at least three times before I finally cracked it open and got to reading.

Percy Jackson never realized he was different. Sure, he had a smart mouth on him and a bit of a rebellious nature, he struggled with dyslexia as well as ADD, but nothing too strange. At least, not until his teacher turned into a harpy and tried to kill him. At the end of his sixth grade year, Percy learns that he is actually a half-blood (or a demigod), son of a human mother and a father who happens to be an Olympian god. Now that he has begun to realize his true heritage, the monsters who make it their mission to take down these half-blood heroes are onto his scent.

As if that weren't enough, it's not long after this new discovery that Percy learns Zeus's master bolt has been stolen and all Olympian eyes are on him as the prime suspect. If he wants to clear his name and save the Western World from the wrath of the gods, Percy and his friends are going to have to find the real lightning thief and find the motive behind the theft before it's too late.

This series is often likened to that of the Harry Potter series in more ways than one. While the two series are vastly different in content, I do have to say this: I think the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series is on par in becoming Children's/YA classics for decades to come. Maybe this is a little pre-emptive of me to say. After all I've only read the first two books so far (#2's review will be up in the next 2-3 weeks), but I've got a feeling about this one. We'll just have to see if I feel the same when I reach the end of the series, won't I?

The point is, I loved this book and I think it's an extremely promising start to what looks like an amazing series. I've definitely enjoyed it. (How can I not? Let's keep in mind that I've been fascinated by Greek mythology since I was in elementary school.) I deeply look forward to getting to know Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and the others as the series continues.

Rating: ~★★★★★~

[Click here to see my review of book 2: Sea of Monsters]

"So if the gods fight," I said, "will things line up the way they did with the Trojan War? Will it be Athena vs. Poseidon?"
She put her head against the backpack Ares had given us, and closed her eyes. "I don't know what my mom will do. I just know I'll fight next to you."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman

So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then behave just as they would.

I am certain that, when Neil Gaiman stood up in front of the Philadelphia University of the Arts graduating class to give this speech, he didn't expect it to be made into a book. However, like many of the things Mr. Gaiman finds himself doing, it proved to be inspirational. It garnered enough attention and praise that it was decided that they would make it into a rather short book, one that was designed by graphic artist Chip Kidd and mass produced. Whoever made that executive decision deserves a round of applause.

Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art is short enough that it didn't need page numbers and can be devoured in one twenty minute sitting. It's packed to the brim with good advice and lessons in growing up from a man known for his creativity and ingenuity. And don't even get me started on the visual degree of pleasure the reader receives from Chip Kidd's typography and color theory.

All in all, this is one of those short volumes that I will very likely be revisiting frequently in the years to come. It is a visual and intellectual feast that I cannot praise enough. You will close the book feeling satisfied and inspired, itching to tackle the scary yet beautiful life ahead of you.

Rating: ~★★★★★~

Break rules.
Leave the world more interesting for your being here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

In Control
Out of control
Sometimes they're
            the same thing
The trick is knowing
that, realizing
             it's okay to feel 
out of control
             once in a while
as long as 
you're sure
you can regain
the upper hand
when you
              absolutely need to.
And really, when
it comes to my
reclaiming control,
it comes down to one
simple little thing
something I sometimes 
have difficulty with:
saying no.

I've been eyeing Ellen Hopkins's books for ages. Every time I see them at the library or the bookstore, I think, "Ooh, I'd really love to read that. It looks like it could be really good. After all, what's not to like about a novel written completely in poetry and each dealing with majorly tough issues? But I knew that poetry novels were a bit hit-and-miss with me and the books each look like they may be a bit much, so I've always put them off, waiting until I have more time to read a lengthier book. Boy, am I glad I finally got around to it.

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are the identical twin daughters of a judge (their father) and a politician (their mother). So it's a given that they're expected to be perfect or, if they can't manage that, fly under the radar. Anything they do, anything they say, if brought to light could easily destroy everything their parents have been working for.

However, both girls are hurting so deeply that neither have any idea how to escape the pain. After the car accident where their father crashed their SUV a few years ago and put nearly all of them in the hospital, their mother grew distant and their father turned to Kaeleigh for the love he wasn't receiving from his wife.

Feeling both ashamed and confused by her father's attentions, Kaeleigh isn't sure how to cope. Meanwhile, Raeanne is jealous that her father loves her sister more, yet hates him for what he's done to Kaeleigh. Both girls seem to be sinking in a pit of despair and chaos. It seems like all hope is lost. The more the people around them reach out to them, the more they retreat into themselves. It's clear that neither can handle the portion they've been given and one of them will have to save the other before it's too late.

It's hard to say you really enjoyed a book with such heavy and scarring topics. These are the traumatic issues that no one wants to touch. They're too messy, too difficult. That's why it's so amazing to me that Ellen Hopkins managed to wrangle them and carry out the story with such finesse and perfection. I never expected this book to be nearly as good as it was, but the plot line was perfect and the pacing timed to a tee. I

Of course, I can't write a decent review for this novel without touching on the poetry aspect of it. Like I mentioned before, books written entirely in poetry can be rather hit-and-miss, which made me worry about this particular book. Wouldn't the poetry break it up too much? Would it make it less relatable and feel like separate works all tied up to create some sort of scrapbook novel? Much to my relief, this was not the case. The page-long poems were each tied together so seamlessly that it was just as effective as simple prose. I really appreciated the poetry in the end, because it really gave the reader that emotional connection without adding all the extra narrative that might have taken if it hadn't been written that way.

Altogether, it was an amazing read. The content is dark and something you have to prepare yourself for, but absolutely worth reading. Go pick it up! You won't be sorry.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I stare out over the fog-shrouded
          valley. The gray gulps me into
it, infiltrates my brain. Sad
          Will I ever find a way beyond
this sad? Tears puddle my eyes.

I let them fall, like how they 
          feel, then come to my senses.
"S-sorry," I sniffle, not sure
          why, except it's lame to cry,
like it's ever done any good.

          Sorry? What for? Greta asks. You've
                    got some powerful demons, girl,
          but I've got a few of my own.
                    Already told you I'm a good listener.
          Talk to me when you're ready.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Neil Gaiman: The Ocean at the End of the [Majestic Theatre]

My phone died, so I never managed to get any pictures of
my own. So I borrowed this one from Google Images.
When I heard that Neil Gaiman was going to be making a stop in Dallas on his "Last U.S. Book Tour," you had better believe I was scrambling to get myself a ticket. I talked to all of my friends, trying to see if one of them would come with me, but only my Whovian friends were very familiar with him and even then, didn't really care to see the guy who had written a few of the episodes, no matter how fabulously done they agreed those episodes were.

So I went by myself. It was worth it to me and it wasn't like it would make much difference. Besides, this meant I could stay as long as I wanted afterward and not inconvenience anyone but myself. (This turned out to be incredibly valid, as I  actually waited 5 1/2 hour to get my book signed. More on that later.) However, this also made it incredibly difficult when I had no one to talk me down when the panic attack started. After all, it's usually not the greatest idea to set a single claustrophobic girl who battles social anxiety pretty regularly in the midst of over 1500 people. I've battled enough public panic attacks that I did manage to calm myself before making a scene. I regulated my breathing and did myself to lose myself in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (a reread), which are two things that I've found immensely helpful in calming my anxiety. By the time the event began, I was chill enough to focus and stop freaking out, so I'd say I was pretty successful.

Neil started out the event with a reading from the second chapter of his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It was beautiful and masterfully written, as every work I've ever seen (or heard) of his usually manages to be. He told us the book had started off as a short story he had decided to write for his wife, Amanda Palmer, who was recording an album. However, the more he worked on it, the longer it managed to become. Soon he was calling his agent to let them know that he had somehow managed to write a surprise novel and they would probably want to take a look at it. Thus The Ocean at the End of the Lane was born.

Next, he brought out a stack of cards about four inches thick, each bearing a question a member of the audience had written for them. He joked that he had taken a larger stack out of it that was all the same question: "What was it like to work on Doctor Who?" By the loud cheering that came from the audience (as well as the fabulous array of Doctor Who shirts I saw on my way in), I'd say it wasn't much of an exaggeration. 

While he only managed to answer a few of the questions posed to him, there were some pretty fun and interesting ones among those he did get to. One person asked why he always wore black. His answer?: "Because I have no imagination." I'm sure you can imagine the chortling response of the thousand attendees who were all there because of how deeply they idolize his creativity and imagination. 

One father asked what advice he had for raising a daughter. Neil has three children, two of them girls. His answer was that he always thought that as long as he didn't do anything majorly wrong (ie. beat them with coat hangers or lock them in closets), then they would probably turn out alright. He also suggested that fathers read to their children. And always do all the voices.

One of my favorite bits was when a ten year-old girl asked him just how many books he had written. "This is a horrible example of adult fallibility," he answered, "But I don't actually know." He went on to explain that he had lost track and, besides, he couldn't really pin down what exactly counted and what didn't. 

Closing with an impromptu reading from his upcoming children's book, Fortunately the Milk, he claimed he had only decided to read it when he saw how beautiful the Majestic Theatre was. He thought it was so beautiful that it required a second reading. As you can imagine, the audience was ecstatic. I, for one, cannot wait for its release. You had better believe I will be shelling out my hard-earned money for that gem.

When the reading ended, the signing commenced. Mr. Gaiman had previously pointed out that, though this particular tour has been deemed his "Last U.S. Book Tour," he imagines he will probably have plenty of other tours in the U.S. After all, he does live here. This just happens to be the last book tour where there will be signing. This is because of how late into the night they go. Admittedly, I had originally thought this was an exaggeration. However, when I ended up in the last row for the signing and didn't actually make it out of the Majestic Theatre until 2:15am, I fully understood what he meant. He looked ready to drop. I know I sure was, and I hadn't been signing 2+ books per person for the past five hours.

My signed copy of Stardust! :)
I'm deeply thankful I had the chance to see Neil Gaiman and have my copy of Stardust signed, though it did take a while. It was worth the wait (and, of course, I did get a good chunk of reading done). It was fun to spend the time watching 4/5ths of a packed theatre pull out books and spend hours reading together in silence or talking about everything they admired about one of their favorite authors. And how could I resist the fact that standing in the lobby of the balcony, one could overlook where he was signing. 

I'm sure I wasn't the only aspiring author who leaned over the railing, picturing what it would be like to be in his place, having created worlds that had so perfectly impacted the lives of so many wonderful people.