Tag Archives: Mystery

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Pond at sunset - medium

Pond at sunset by Michael Loudon

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is an intriguing mystery that started life as a short story commissioned by Jonathan Strahan and grew into a novel. It begins with a man returning to the place where he lived as child, and continues with his childhood memories as he relives a series of unhappy and sinister events. Did they really happen, or was it all boyish imagination in his head?

As a seven-year old he is a self-reliant boy but he has no friends and spends much of his time reading. Does he have an overgrown imagination? We learn that as an adult he “makes art”.

” Growing up, I took so many cues from books. They taught me most of what I knew about what people did, about how to behave. They were my teachers and my advisers. In books, boys climbed trees, so I climbed trees, sometimes very high, always scared of falling. In books, people climbed up and down drainpipes to get in and out of houses, so I climbed up and down drainpipes too……”

I enjoyed the shadowy atmosphere in the book and the descriptions of very normal events perhaps turning into something very supernatural and magical.

Read the book and discover what you think.

These are a few podcasts which you might enjoy. The discussion between Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman includes the books they enjoyed in their youth, the role of fantasy in their work, and their experiences with religion amongst other things.

Mrs H.

Student Picks: The City of Ember

Title: The City of Ember

Author: Jeanne DuPrau

What is it about?

It’s about a somewhat primitive future set underground where there is no light. The population of the city is trying to escape from their destiny. It is also a mystery, which has to be solved.

What did you think of it, and why did you pick it up?

I enjoyed this book because it got me thinking about the future and what it might be like.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (for the book), but only 3 out of 5 (for the film)

Who would enjoy reading this?

Years 9 and 10


Wool, with no sheep!

Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey at Takapuna Library on Monday, 22 April 2013

The Wool series by Hugh Howey is a book with no sheep! The wool in the title refers to the saying “to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes” in other words, to deceive someone in order to prevent them from discovering something. It has a wide appeal for all sorts of readers and is an exciting mystery. It is also a thriller set in a dystopian, science fiction world about a group of people living underground.

“What would you do if the world outside was deadly, and the air you breathed could kill? And you lived in a place where every birth required a death, and the choices you made could save lives – or destroy them. This is Jules’ story. This is the world of Wool.”

The Wool Series consist of three books:


Shift (this is the prequel, but Hugh Howey recommends that you read Wool first, in the same way that you wouldn’t want to watch the Star Wars films in sequential order)

Dust (due in October 2013)

In publishing terms Wool is unusual because it evolved as a short story in eBook format published online in instalments on Amazon. It became popular with readers who sent emails asking for more, and so the story “took off” and eventually ended up as a single volume in print. In this way it is a mixture of the old and the new. Many years ago Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) published his stories in weekly, or monthly instalments in journals, and then modified what he wrote according to the feedback he received. Would he have enjoyed the direct relationship with his readers that online publishing, twitter and blogs provide  authors like Hugh Howey today?

This weekend Hugh Howey blogged ” Bumpy landing in a massive rainstorm last night. Woke up looking over the harbour here in Auckland. A bevy of interviews today before the event tonight. So excited to be here. It’s been on my wish-list for so long; hard to believe I’m really on the other side of the globe from my home.”

On Monday evening I was lucky enough to hear him speak and he told us that amongst other things he has been a sailing captain and worked in construction. He described life on board a boat as Captain as not all glamorous quite often it involves living below deck fixing the engines and unblocking the head (toilet) in order to facilitate the good life for others enjoying life above deck. He has seen both sides – the life of billionaires and ordinary workers.

Even though Wool has been his greatest success so far, he has written many books, and says, “Finishing your first book is an incredible feeling; like climbing a mountain.” Wool took three months to write and was an enjoyable experience. The reaction you have to your writing he says is a good indication of how others may also enjoy the story. His writing day is usually 6 to 11 a.m. every day. He uses a computer to write, and with tongue in cheek he says that using your right hand to write with a pen makes you use the logical side of your brain, whereas two hands on the computer uses both sides of the brain and is more creative.

Some writers “follow” their stories as they write them not knowing where they will end, and others like to frame their writing within a plot. Hugh Howey says that he falls into the “plotter” camp and likes to start at the end, so that he knows where the story is going.

Authors that Hugh Howey admires and enjoys include Mark Twain (for his satire and humour), Peter F. Hamilton, Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson who wrote Cryptonomicon (about people in different time periods). Film rights to the Wool series have been sold to 20th Century Fox with English film director and producer Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus, Blade Runner, Gladiator), and a screenplay is currently being written, although Hugh Howey is not allowing himself to get too excited in case it never happens. Perhaps this trailer will have to do until then.

Mrs H.

Amazon Page



Publisher Random House