Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunshine and Wind

Mrs. Blog O' Stuff and I watched Little Miss Sunshine over the weekend and I hadn't even realized it was nominated for best picture. It was a quirky, fun and entertaining movie. It reminded me of, just a bit at least, Napolean Dynamite. Both films captured people who, externally, seemed very strange and off beat. When you get into their stories, they seem almost normal. I liked it a lot, being a fan of Steve Carrell didn't hurt either. But no matter what Greg Kinnear will always be the Talk Soup guy to me. Just like Mark Wahlberg, Oscar-nominated actor, will always be Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch to me.

In book-related happenings, I posted my review of Patrick Rothfuss's debut novel, The Name of the Wind. This was an incredibly impressive novel coming from a debut novelist. Rotfhuss set the bar pretty for 2007 with this book. However, Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box, which I just finished (review forthcoming) does come pretty close. They are definitely two different books, but the heart of what makes them both so great is not soo dissimilar. They both take what could be cliched stories and makes them fresh, original and damned entertaining.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another book meme

A bit late, but I'm always up for a book meme.

The instructions:

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, underline the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.
1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. +Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. +Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. +The Stand (Stephen King)
19. +Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. +The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) [one of my two worst reading experiences in college]
28. +The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. +Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. +1984 (Orwell)
35. +The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. *The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. +Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. +The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. +War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. +Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. +The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. +Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Fair Review and Talisman

I posted my review of the World Fantasy Award winning anthology, The Fair Folk edited by Marvin Kaye and published by the Science Fiction Book Club. I think ACE is publishing a trade paperback version of this soon, if they already haven't. I liked it, and felt 4 out of the 6 stories were standouts with the other two still good and interesting stories.

I was browsing the world's greatest time waster/killer, as I'm won't to do, because I wanted to find something on the Stephen King/Peter Straub collaboration, The Talisman. This was a favorite book of mine when I was younger and still remains so to this day. I think a character's name was eluding me for some reason. Anyway, I stumbled across this. On the Friday nights when I wasn't playing poker in high school and early college, my friends and I would get together and play Talisman. The game would often last into the wee hours of the night. My one friend, let's just call him L.O.C., (if he happens to be reading this he knows who he is), had all the expansion sets to the game. I don't even recall how he got the game, but damn was it fun.

Through that entry, I found out a new edition is coming out later this year. I must own this. I remember a limited edition of the game coming out a few years ago for $75. I just wasn't able to get it at the time. Also, when traveling was part of one of my previous jobs, I would search out the bookstores and gaming stores where I was staying in hopes of finding the game. Oh I found it a couple of times, but at prices upwards of $100 to $200. I hadn't realized how popular and cultish a game it was. Let's hope the edition coming out at the end of the year is a bit more affordable.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Lun Dun Tower

I posted my newest review to SFFWorld yesterday, China Miéville's Un Lun Dun. I won't be the first to say this about the book, but Un Lun Dun has the chance to be his biggest book yet, and that is saying a lot. Of his published work, this definitely has the broadest appeal. I liked it very much, as I've liked most of his stuff. This reminded me most of King Rat, which I thought was about his strongest novel, just a notch under The Scar.

I also really liked issue one of Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born. No I didn't go to a midnight release, but I picked it up yesterday. I thought Jae Lee's art was great and Marvel really did pack quite a bit into the first issue. The Spotlight issue from the week before was pretty much a waste, but for now, I'm happy with the first issue. I will be re-reading it again.

Not much else right now, except that yes winter does exist. After what felt like a non-existent winter in December and part of January, Winter has reared its icy head in ful effect.

Friday, February 02, 2007

SF Book Meme

Nicked from the Hornswaggler, once again.

DISCLAIMER: My responses are prone to change at the drop of a hat, especially the five favorites towards the end.

  • Science fiction, fantasy, or horror?
    I’ve got to say Fantasy, pretty easily. Though I “graduated” into reading adult fiction for pleasure through the likes of Stephen King and Robert R. McCammon
  • Hardback, trade paperback, or mass market paperback?
    Mocks nicks.
  • Heinlein or Asimov?
    Heinlein, just by virtue of the fact I’ve read more by him.
  • Amazon or brick-and-mortar?
    Most of my books arrive via amazon wishlist around my Birthday and Christmas
  • Barnes & Noble or Borders?
    At one time I would say BN, since the Borders stores near me always seemed a mess. Now, either.
  • Hitchhiker or Discworld?
    Hitchhiker, by a slim margin.
  • Bookmark or dogear?
    Bookmark, usually a notecard
  • Magazine: Asimov's Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction?
  • Alphabetize by author, by title, or random?
    Most of my books are in boxes, so I would say random, though I do keep the books by the same author together . If I had enough bookshelves, it would be alpha by author.
  • Keep, throw away, or sell?
    Keep aside from the occasional trade in at the used book shop.
  • Year's Best Science Fiction series (edited by Gardner Dozois) or Year's Best SF Series (edited by David G. Hartwell)?
    Probably Dozois
  • Keep dustjacket or toss it?
    Keep, of course.
  • Read with dustjacket or remove it?
    More often than not, with dustjacket.
  • Short story or novel?
    Novels, though over the past couple of years I have been reading and enjoying short stories more than I have in the past.
  • Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
    Potter, the Snicket books were getting a bit repetitive when I stopped. I do plan on finishing them off now that THE END is published.
  • Stop reading when tired or chapter breaks?
    Stop reading when: a) my lunch hour is over, b) the chapter breaks, c) the timer on the elliptical machine finishes counting down.
  • "It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"
    "Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night" I go for the high-concept!
  • Buy or borrow?
    Buy. Or review copies
  • Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation, or browse?
    Word of mouth/recommendation.
  • Lewis or Tolkien?
  • Hard SF or space opera?
    Space opera.
  • Collection (single author) or anthology (multiple authors)?
    Collections and themed anthologies.
  • Hugo or Nebula?
    PotAto, PotAHto
  • Golden Age SF or New Wave SF?
    New Wave, probably
  • Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
    Not really one of the options, but logical endings that are consistent with the story.
  • Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading
    Lunchtime, a bit before bed and at the gym while I’m on the precor machine
  • Standalone or series?
    Either or.
  • Urban fantasy or high fantasy?
    High, though just by a margin.
  • New or used?
    Mostly new, though I do find some cool stuff at the used shops.
  • Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
    The Watch by Dennis Danvers is a pretty good book. I see next to no talk about it, especially in the SFFWorld Forums. As for favorite, I don’t know, but it was a very interesting book from a few years ago nonetheless.
  • Top 5 favorite genre books read last year? (in no order)
    With over 70 books read last year five is tough. Two or three really stood out, with about 10 others just under those top 2 or three
    The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams
    The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
    Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
    20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
    Paragaea by Chris Roberson
  • Top 5 favorite genre books of all time? (in no order, this changes everyday for me)
    1984 by George Orwell
    The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub
    Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover
    A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
    Dune by Frank Herbert
  • 5 favorite genre series? (in no order)
    George R. R. Martin’s "A Song of Ice and Fire"
    Tad Williams’s "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn"
    Matthew Woodring Stover’s "The Acts of Caine"
    Stephen R. Donaldson’s "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever"
    Stephen King’s "Dark Tower"
  • Top 5 favorite genre short stories? (in no order)
    "The Way of Cross and Dragon" by George R.R. Martin
    "Jeffty is Five" by Harlan Ellison
    "The Boogeyman" by Stephen King
    "The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant" by Jeffrey Ford
    "The Star" by Arthur C. Clark