viernes, 11 de noviembre de 2011

2011 Stephen King Challenge update.

Read so far (November 11), four! And I'm kind of cheating since I'm counting The Stand, Vol. 1 in comic book form which is not the whole novel but does include the first five issues of the series,

  1. The Shining
  2. The Stand, comic book adaptation Vol. 1 - Captain Trips
  3. Under the Dome
  4. The Colorado Kid

lunes, 29 de agosto de 2011

My love-hate-love relationship with Stephen King

From a Buick 8
Stephen King was the first "name" author that I started reading. Before him I would just pick up books because I thought the premise was intriguing or I really loved the cover - or both.

During my teens I became obsessed with the horror genre. I was a regular reader of Fangoria magazine and I would watch as many horror movies as I could - good or bad - I was an easy to please viewer. When I started reading books, King was the obvious choice since I had already seen many of the film adaptations. But his books did not go down easy with the teenage me, they were WAY too long and I often either didn't finish them or gave up altogether. Such was the case with The Dead Zone, which I stopped reading three quarters of the way through and with It and The Stand where I skimmed the last part of the books since I was just tired of reading.

My frustration grew so much that I made a solemn vow - I will NEVER AGAIN read a book over 500 pages in length. I figured any author worth his salt could tell a story, even an "epic" one, in less than 500 pages.

And so it went for a few years, I swore off King's massive volumes and concentrated on shorter, more concise tales. But as I got older, I reconsidered, and decided to give the master of horror another shot. I read Insomnia, Salem's Lot and some of the short story collections like Skeleton Crew and my interest was rekindled. Now as an older reader, long novels didn't scare me off and I had the patience to see them through. I started to see where King was coming from as a writer and what he wanted to achieve with the reader. His are character driven stories (like From A Buick 8 pictured above) that take their time to sink in, but when they do the reader is richly rewarded. I still think his novels are too long but I'm willing to trust him in that he knows how long his novels need to be. I'm now tackling the massive Under the Dome (1000 plus pages!) and I'm in it for the long haul.

miércoles, 10 de agosto de 2011

The 2011 Stephen King Challenge!

I just found out about this challenge from Book Chick City and though I've read a LOT of King over the years, I still have many books of his that I haven't read. Since I just finished The Shining (shame on me for putting it off for so long) and plan on reading Full Dark, No Stars as well as diving into The Dark Tower series, I though I'd participate.

Read so far (August 10), only one! - The Shining, and have started re-reading the short story collection Skeleton Crew.

On the to-read list:

  1. The Stand comic book adaptation trade paperbacks, starting with Captain Trips which are issues 1-5 of the series. Have already ordered it online and am awaiting its arrival.
  2. Under the Dome - Have heard many good things about this one.
  3. Full Dark, No Stars now that its out in paperback.
  4. The Dark Tower series - I read the first two books a long time ago and then just never got back to the series. I plan to buy the revised edition of The Gunslinger and see if I can at least finish the next three books in the series by the end of the year.
  5. American Vampire - a comic book series only partially written by King, but I think its still counts.
  6. 11/22/63 - The premise is so interesting that I'll buy the hardcover version instead of waiting for the paperback as I usually do.
  7. Mile 81 - I plan to buy en e-reader this year and this will be my first ebook purchase.

Will I be able to finish this list? Probably not, in fact I know I won't, but I'll have a lot of fun trying!

jueves, 21 de julio de 2011

Reading Habits Meme

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:
I don't snack while I read.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I never write in books or highlight them.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
I use a trading card as a bookmark. I never "dog-ear".

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
Both, though much more fiction.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
I always try to read to the end of a chapter.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
No, I keep reading.

What are you currently reading?
The Red Tree
by Caitlin Kiernan.

What is the last book you bought?
DC Comics: 75 Years of Modern Mythmaking.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
One at a time.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?
During the morning before going to work and during my lunch break.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?
Stand alones.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
Author: Dan Simmons. Book: Dune.

How do you organize your books?
I don't. I try to keep them as tidy as possible by placing them by size.

miércoles, 15 de junio de 2011

Manifold: Time

Manifold: TimeManifold: Time by Stephen Baxter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An incredible tale that really is epic in scope. Like in his previous novel - The Time Ships - Baxter goes all out and delivers a story that spans the universe and time itself.

The story begins with the restart of the space program after NASA all but quit trying to explore space. An entrepenur called Reid Malenfant takes it upon himself to restart space exploration with the goal to reach a near Earth orbit asteroid called Cruithne with a spacecraft manned by a squid whose intelligence has been augmented via genetic tampering - and it just gets weirder from there. There's no shortage of grandiose ideas, but the problem here is that it's sometimes too much. The science needed to explain the story is very complicated and Baxter includes endless scenes where the characters are totally confused only to have the scientific goings-on explained to them in plainer language by another more brainy character. This goes on throughout ALL the book, endless explaining of what's happening instead of having the story explain itself. A tough read (this is one of those so-called Hard SF books), but I managed to get through it. This is the first novel in a trilogy but it can easily be read as a self-contained story since there is a definitive ending.

View all my reviews

jueves, 27 de enero de 2011

The Watcher in the Woods

The Watcher in the Woods

Even though I normally talk about art books in the sf-fantasy-horror genres I would like to take a time out and review a book from 1980 called The Watcher in the Woods which was the basis for the Disney film of the same name.
First, a little about the movie: The Watcher in the Woods was Disney's second PG rated film (the first being The Black Hole) and was made at a time when the studio was trying to branch out from strictly family fare into more mainstream films. One can see how the story starts out with a family feel and starts to grow from there. The film starts with a typical family, mom, dad and two daughters that are in the process of moving into an old mansion. The house is being sold by an old woman who has lived there for many years (Betty Davis). Shortly after they move in strange goings-on start to happen, usually involving mirrors, and the youngest daughter starts to enter trance like states and receive messages from beyond. From beyond where is the question the film answers.
This is one of those films that I did not see when it came out but remember clearly wanting to see it and being very intrigued by it's spooky atmosphere - which it has in spades.
The movie stays pretty close to the book of which I will now talk about. The entire book (200 plus pages) is a Young Adult novel written in the first person with the point of view of the eldest of the two daughters (played in the film by Lynn Holly Johnson of Ice Castles fame). The narrative is at times very evocative and full of atmosphere. The isolation of moving into a new home that is still heavy with the presence of a previous dweller is very much a part of the story, as is the feeling of being "watched" by something, of not belonging or intruding upon someone's life. As I said, it's a Young Adult novel, so it plays up the feelings of isolation very much.
The ending takes a turn into left field as it enters science fiction (this is more evident in the book than in the movie) leaving more than a few readers/viewers very puzzled, not by the narrative, which is spelled out quite clearly but by the tone of the story. I suppose most people, myself included, expected The Watcher in question to be a supernatural entity as we are led to believe by the book's cover.

Variations between the book and movie: SPOILERS AHEAD.
The story's main plot is the disappearance of a young girl, in the movie 30 years have passed, in the book 50 years have passed since she was last seen. This of course makes the girl's mother much older in the book than in the movie.
In the movie, an entire sub-plot is devoted to the missing girl's three friends who were present at the time of her sudden disappearance during an initiation ceremony where they would include her into their secret friendship circle. A storm toppled the edifice they were in during the ceremony, supposedly killing the girl, even though no body was ever found. They have lived with that guilt ever since. This sub-plot is entirely absent in the book.
In the book, the main protagonist sees the missing girl's image in a coffin, in the book it's in a hollowed out tree.
In the book, the girl convinces her entire family as well as the missing girl's mother about The Watcher's true nature and intentions. In the movie, she is believed only by her sister and boyfriend.
In the movie, the missing girl is returned to her mother. In the book the mother travels through space and time to her daughter in another dimension or planet (it's not made clear).