storytimewithbuffy

Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars as enjoyed by Leia on Halloween!

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2013 at 8:26 pm

This blog post made my evening. I can’t stop smiling!

Book Jacket Letters

Just a quick note to wish everyone a HAPPY HALLOWEEN – my most favourite of all special days!

Thank you to Buffy for recommending William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – it’s hilarious and a perfect read for my Halloween Costume!

Go read Buffy’s review here:

Enjoy your trick and treating!

Libby

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William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

In Book Reviews on October 30, 2013 at 6:00 am
Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter.

Lucasfilm Ltd 2013

In  time so long ago begins our play,
In star-crossed galaxy far, far away.

I was 2 years old when Star Wars Episode IV came out. When I was 5, my dad took my sister and me to see The Empire Strikes Back in the cinema. She would have been 3. The story goes that we were sitting in the theatre and got a bit agitated upon seeing Darth Vader so Dad decided that it was best if we just left. We walked up the aisle to the exit and he looked behind him to find my sister and me standing mesmerised by what was on the screen. I guess he decided that we weren’t really that scared, so we sat down and finished watching the film.

Thus began my life-long love of the Star Wars franchise.

I would like to take a moment to clarify that when I talk about these films, I am referring only to episodes IV – VI. I’m trying my best to pretend that the first three episodes don’t exist. Also, I’m a bit of a purist and don’t approve of the digitally remastered versions. I was so upset when they digitised my favourite alien (Lapti Nek. She’s the one singing.) in Return of the Jedi and turned it into some weird musical feature. How could you, George Lucas??

Anyway, back to my childhood.

I remember having weekend movie nights with my family. I always looked forward to this. Mom would fire up the popcorn machine and we would each get our own bowl so that no one could eat more than his or her share.

Microwave popcorn? Methinks not. This stuff was the bomb.

Microwave popcorn? Methinks not. This stuff was the bomb.

We’d plonk down on the couch in our jim-jams and watch whatever was on HBO or the Disney Channel. Looking back at my childhood, I realise how much time my parents invested in making us happy. They didn’t spend a lot of money on us, but we pretty much had their undivided attention. We did lots of things as a family.

My favourite family movie night films were the Star Wars ones. As we got a bit older, my sister would groan. “Not Star Wars again!” But I’ve always loved them.

I loved the characters and I loved the action. I mean, a princess who didn’t look like a Disney princess? She was a bad-ass general with a blaster who worked as part of a team and rescued the guys as much as she was rescued. My 8 year old mind was blown.

My grandmother had this huge uprooted tree stump in her back yard and that became our Millenium Falcon. We would play Star Wars with our cousins. My oldest cousin was always Han Solo and I always got to be Princess Leia. (No kissing though. Ew.) Man, I could fly that tree stump into hyperspace. My little sister was always R2-D2 because she was younger and had to do what we said. She wasn’t allowed to say anything but “Beep boop boop bwee wooo” (or any variation of it). I think that this might explain her aversion to Star Wars as we grew older.

Flash forward to my late teens and I discovered that my mom felt a similar love for these films. We began to have what we call “a Star Wars kind of day”. Dad and little sis are politely asked to vacate the premises and mom and I drag out our needle crafts and proceed to watch all three films. Back to back to back.

We still do this when I come home to visit only my hubby is allowed to join in to our ritual. He doesn’t get annoyed (or at least he doesn’t act like it) when we say the lines along with the characters. Most importantly, he doesn’t talk about non-Star Wars stuff during the films. This is why he is allowed to stay.

I guess I’m telling you all of this to let you know that these films have a special place in my heart. They represent happy times spent with my family.

As much as I love Star Wars, however, I don’t actually own a lot of branded stuff. I’ve never read any of the books because I don’t want anything to take away from the experience I had growing up. I’ve never had any of the collectibles either. The experience is what I craved.

However, when I saw this book, I was filled with pure, unadulterated glee. Imagine my delight to find one of my favourite films translated into a whimsical book as it would be written by Shakespeare! And it turned out to be everything I dreamed it would be.

Mr. Doescher incorporates some actual lines from various plays (adapted to make them fit the story) which makes it even more fun. Verily.

Also, my sister would be happy to know that R2-D2 actually has lines beyond “Beep boop boop bwee wooo”. All of his lines are asides so none of the characters actually hear him talk. Here’s one of my favourites of his:

A plague on 3PO for action slow,
A plague upon my quest that led us here,
A plague on both our circuit boards, I say!

I think that my favourite line in this book is by Han Solo before they end up in the garbage compactor.

-He hath the plan,
Not I, thou sweetheart of ingratitude!
[Leia takes Luke’s blaster, shoots hole in wall.
By what dark sprite of Hell art thou possess’d?

This book had me giggling so much on the train. I’m sure my fellow commuters thought that I was mad. It’s a fantastic bit of whimsy and one I’ll go to when I need cheering up.

I saw a few stodgy reviews on Goodreads, so I’m guessing that it isn’t for those of you who are hard-core Shakespearean purists.

I found it to be a delightful reminder of some very happy times in my life and a whole lot of fun.

Also, very fittingly, this book finishes off my Goodreads challenge. This year, I challenged myself to read 61 books and this one was number 61. This pleased me greatly.

2013 Goodreads Challenge

61 Books read this year!

On that note, I shall say goodbye and ever shall the Force remain with thee.

Getting the Lead Out

In My Writing on October 27, 2013 at 9:06 am

As October comes to an end, many of you are gearing up to begin National Novel Writing Month. Although I won’t be joining in on the mad scribbling, I’ll be participating indirectly. Sort of. But maybe not really. You see, I participated back in 2010 (and won with 50,006 words. woo!). I worked for the next two years to edit the fruits of my labour, which was quite a task.

50,006 words!

50,006 words!

NaNoWriMo is a heady and intense experience and I’m so glad that I did it. It got me into the habit of writing every day and I’ve been more disciplined with my writing since then. However, the problem with scribbling your entire novel with your internal editor switched off is that it can be massively difficult to go back over it once November ends and make something coherent out of it. Hence, the two years.

Last December, I finished it up and sent it off to a competition (that I didn’t win, by the way). I had worked on my story so much that I was pretty sick of it by then. Once I sent it off, I started working on ideas for the novel I’m working on now. I’ve been researching, outlining and dabbling in writing the actual story during 2013.

But all of a sudden, a switch has been flipped. All of a sudden I want to go over my first story. After all, I have 88k words just sitting there not doing anything. I would really like to try to get it published. So, last night I started reading it again with a view to cleaning it up and filling in any potential plot holes so that I can send it off to literary agencies/publishers.

Let me stop you before anyone mentions self-publishing. This isn’t a path I’m interested in at the moment. Perhaps in the future, if I don’t have luck with publishers. We’ll see how I feel about it then. For now, it’s not an avenue I’d like to travel.

As I was reading my story last night I kept thinking that it was ok. There were times when it actually felt like I was reading a novel. That’s probably a good thing.

The problem is that no one else has read it. Ever. Not even the hubs. I’m not sure if the people I submitted it to read it as I wasn’t sent any confirmation that they had even received it. This means that I have absolutely no idea as to its readability.

Once I’ve read it and let my husband read it, I’ll be looking for beta readers so if you think you’d be interested in that kind of thing please keep it in the back of your mind. (I’m not quite ready for anyone else to read it just yet.)

It’s actually terrifying to think of people reading my book, which is silly because books are meant to be read. However, I suffer from self-doubt in a big way. Sometimes it’s almost crippling. Why on earth would I think that anyone would want to read what I’ve written? It probably isn’t very good. Who do I think I am, trying to foist my work on an unsuspecting public?

You get the idea.

These are hurdles I’m trying to get over. (Although I’d be much happier if I could just effortlessly walk around them…)

Anyway, I shall continue reading my work today and I’ll let you know how it goes. I definitely think that it’s time for this story to come out of hiding and I finally feel ready to tackle it. I’m going to do my best to put myself out there even though I’d rather hug my precious pages to myself and hide under the covers.

On a completely different note, last night my husband came home from work with a present for me. Behold!

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter.

This is exactly why I married him. I’ve only read up to page 36 so far, but oh, the giggles! Obviously, this book is best read if you have seen (and liked) Star Wars. That’s all I’ll say for now. I’ll be doing a blog post on this book once I’ve finished it.

It makes me chuckle to think of the looks I’ll be getting when I read this on the tube tomorrow! I’m sure I’ll be giggling all the way to work.

Giants of the Frost

In Book Reviews on October 23, 2013 at 6:00 am
Giants of the Frost

Gollancz 2005

Memories streamed through him: blood and fire and the helpless shrieks of mortal suffering. “There is no love, Vidar,” his father had said. “There is only fate.” Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful book! So far, I’ve only read two books that are based on or have Norse mythology incorporated into them and I’ve adored them both. The thing that has always intrigued me about any type of mythology is that not everyone gets a happy ending. I’d like to take a moment to say that I’m not against happy endings because, let’s face it, sometimes we need them. Sometimes I like reading stories where everyone lives happily ever after except for the villain who has gotten his comeuppance in a very satisfying way. But most of the time I’m a sucker for a tragic character. And boy, there are some tragic characters in this book. Nutshell blurb: Vidar, the son of Odin, has been waiting a thousand years for the soul of his beloved to be reincarnated. Unfortunately, he has some daddy issues. Odin was the one who murdered her and would do so again if he found out that she had been reborn and that Vidar was anywhere near her. This is a love story or perhaps a story about how powerful love is. ‘Wait, Buffy,’ you might be saying. ‘I thought you didn’t like romantic stories.’ In which case I would have to clarify my definitions of love vs romance stories. In my mind (and it could be different for you) a romance story focuses on the two star-crossed characters. There’s a lot of will they, won’t they even though you totally know that they will. There’s also a lot of sexy-time and something like 50 different words for a man’s winkle. For me, a love story is part of a larger story and doesn’t hinge on whether the two people get together. There might be some out and out sexy-time or it might be implied but it’s part of a larger story. Perhaps that’s a bit simplistic, but that’s how it works in my brain. So, let’s start with Vidar. Could you imagine a man patient enough to wait 1000 years for you to be reincarnated? He’s angry and disillusioned by his family, particularly his father and just wants to spend a lifetime with the love of his life, which isn’t really a long time considering that he’s from Asgard and she’s a mortal from Midgard. So, what’s the problem, Odin? The problem is that his entire family think that he’s weak because he was an exceptional warrior who fell in love and decided not to kill people any more. They’re the worst type of meddling family members. Vidar decides to go off into the forest and live in a cabin away from all of them just to get some peace and quiet from them. The thing that’s so tragic about him is that he knows deep in his heart that even though she’s been reincarnated they can never be together yet they both try to escape their fate. Fan-girl interlude: I’d like to take this moment to say that if you love the Chris Hemsworth version of Thor from the movies (as I do because he’s super dreamy) you’ll have to try to not imagine him as the Thor in this book. Because this Thor is kind of a douchebag. And by ‘kind of’ I mean ‘seriously, really and a lot of’. Now, please keep in mind that I haven’t actually read any Norse mythology as of yet so I don’t know what Thor is actually meant to be like, so don’t you go ruining it for me. I try not to fan-girl too much so indulge me, k? Thanks.

Sweet god of thunder… You’ll always be the real Thor to me.

*Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh* Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes, tragic characters. Next up we’ve got Victoria the reincarnated lover. She’s a meteorologist doing research on Othinsey aka Odin’s Island. She’s got a lot of first world problems. She views her mom as a bit of an nutcase who consults psychics and she frequently becomes frustrated with her because Victoria’s a scientist who doesn’t believe in superstition and other such things. She can’t hold down a decent relationship and has gone to this Norwegian island in an effort to avoid relationships, yet she finds that she’s the object of attraction/affection to a couple of people on the island. She just wants to be left alone. Then she meets Vidar and had to rethink everything that she believed. I think that my favourite tragic character is Aud. She’s a princess who is a bondmaid to the Aesir because she made a deal with the Norns who weave the fates of everyone. She must serve the Aesir for 1000 years. During her servitude, she falls in love with Vidar who obviously can’t love her because he’s in love with Victoria. I liked her the most because she wasn’t bitchy or spiteful about her situation even though she couldn’t have her way. She struggled through the entire book and it just seemed like she couldn’t catch a break. I really felt for her and felt like I could relate to her. She wasn’t perfect and she made some bad decisions but she accepted that she had to serve her 1000 years and just got on with it. My one criticism of this story is that I felt that the ending was rushed. Or maybe I was rushed when I read it. You see, I usually leave books at home when I have 100 pages or less to read because the last 100 pages or so is when it all hits the fan and I don’t want to be interrupted by things like getting off of trains and having to start work. I was so close to the end and I thought that I could finish it on the train. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much sleep the night before and I kept dozing off during my commute. I got off of the train with something like 15 pages left to read. I should have sat down on a bench at the station and finished it, but I didn’t. (Don’t worry, it wouldn’t have made me late for work. I got there pretty early.) I ended up finishing it during my lunch hour which meant that I picked it up in the middle of an action scene. First world problems, my friends. Anyway, this is a book I’ll reread one day and then I’ll get a better sense of whether or not the ending was rushed or if it was just me. I think that this book would have made me cry if I hadn’t been interrupted. It certainly took my breath away.

Sixty-One Nails

In Book Reviews on October 20, 2013 at 6:00 am
Sixty-One Nails

Angry Robot 2009

The tiny motes left hiding there were consumed almost incidentally as the flood of dark power swept through the the debris, the dark-spore sparking tiny flares in the roiling darkness as it was consumed. In those flares, I heard the echoes of distant screams as they boiled away.

It made me smile.

Nutshell blurb: Niall Peterson collapses on the London Underground and is revived by a woman who goes by the name of Blackbird. She is one of the Feyre and he must help her ensure that an ancient ritual is performed in order to prevent all of humankind from being enslaved by the Untainted.

I’m following Ben Aaronovitch on Goodreads and I saw that he read this book and gave it 5 stars so I thought I’d check it out. I can totally see why he did. This was an engaging read that kept me gripped. Anything that keeps me reading during times when I’m not meant to be doing so can only be a good thing.

There were a couple of things that kept me from giving it 5 stars (I gave it 4). I felt like there was a lot of exposition in this story. One character in the book gave us complete histories of the Feyre and various aspects of this other world and I just felt that it happened way too often. Sometimes it felt as if this woman was talking through the entire book and it got a bit tiresome.

I guess the question is: how do you convey the finer points of your world to your readers without straight out explaining every detail? (If you know, please tell me because I’m world-building in my own writing.)

There was another point that made me scratch my head. When Niall and Blackbird first met, she gave him the name Rabbit because names have power and the Feyre and Untainted don’t give out their names for fear of giving others an advantage over them. However, throughout the book she constantly calls him by his given name but it never really seemed to have any consequences.

Those were a couple of things that bothered me. Nothing too earth-shaking.

On to what I liked.

The hidden world and the folklore of the Feyre and Untainted were really well thought out and completely absorbing. It is really rich in detail which is hugely appealing. The characters are interesting and believable. I loved that the main character is a forty-two year old man with an ex-wife and daughter.

What I really loved is that it’s set in London. As with Moon Over Soho (if you haven’t read my post about it, you can find it here) I totally dig the mixture of fantasy with modern day London. There were so many places that I ‘recognised’. The story starts on the District Line which I take every day to work. I love reading about various places and picturing where they are in my head. It adds an extra level of detail that makes it even more charming.

Definitely a great read. Unfortunately, Goodreads doesn’t allow 1/2 stars or I would have given it 4 1/2. I’ll just have to settle for giving it 4 1/2 stars in my head.

I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for the second book.

Tell Someone “No”, Get Called a “Whore” – #StandingwithDNLee #batsignal

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Well, if you haven’t heard about it yet, this happened…

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2013 at 6:00 am
Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Gallery Books 2011

The choice is yours, and if you don’t survive, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

So, I was waltzing around town last weekend and decided to wander into the bookshop. Just for giggles. I wasn’t really planning on buying anything. (Yeah, right.) Anyway, I looked through the stuff that’s on sale but nothing really jumped out at me.  I went upstairs to the sci-fi/fantasy section and that’s where I found this gem. As you may know, I’m in a zombie kind of place in my life at the moment so I picked it up and had a closer look and this was my reaction: Omigod-it’s-a-choose-your-own-novel-for-ADULTS!!

And then I was really embarrassed because I was shopping by myself and I got a couple of looks.

Anyway, I bought it right away and took it home to tell my husband about it. He was out of town for the week so we were on skype and I had to show it to him. He was suitably pleased for me, but not quite as excited as I had hoped. Then he perked up because I suggested that I read it to him.

I’d like to take this moment to explain something. I’m no showboat, but I looooooove reading aloud. Personally, I think that my voice sounds ridiculous. When I hear it recorded, I cringe because I think that I sound like a cartoon character. My husband, however, thinks it’s sexy and he likes it when I read to him at night. (I’m trying not to read too much into the fact that my voice puts him right to sleep after a few pages…) Anyway, I love reading aloud because I like the way the words from a really good book roll off my tongue. There’s a rhythm to it and it’s much different hearing a book read than just reading it silently.

I thought that this one would be fun for us to read together because then we can see whether or not we make the same choices. I’m happy to report that, so far, we do. This is an important thing to find out about your partner. I feel confident that should the zombie apocalypse come to pass, we’ll be ok. We make a good team.

Anyway, we’ve started reading this book and it turns out that I was right. It’s really fun to read together. I get into it and start emoting. By the way, if you are the woman who lives above us, I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for the time I got a bit too excited and yelled “ZOMBIES! THE LIVING EFFING DEAD!” (Ok, ‘effing’ wasn’t actually the word used in the book, but I’m trying to keep it clean. Work with me, people.) I was also really proud of my newscaster impersonation. We haven’t made it through an entire story yet (apparently there are 50 different endings) but what we’ve read so far has been a lot of fun.

I actually don’t know how this book would stand up if I was reading it on my own. There are so many fragmented sentences, which is obviously used to create a sense of urgency and suspense, but I’m not a fan of that particular device. I don’t mind if there’s a sentence fragment here and there, but there are paragraphs full of them. So, I recommend that if you’re going to read this book, do so with a friend, family member or partner who will really get into it with you.

Since we’ve not made it through an entire story yet, I’m not sure how our choices affect the story. I used to read choose your own adventure stories when I was younger, but with some of them I noticed that if you consistently chose a certain option, you would get the same kind of ending. I’m not sure what the author has in store for us, but I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not we can survive.

On a completely different note, I found a very pleasant surprise the other day. In my Library Day posts I mentioned that I frequently walk to the Barbican Library during my lunch hour which is a 15 – 20 minute walk. Well, our office has moved to a different location. Luckily, I think that it might be a minute or two closer. That’s not the pleasant surprise, though.

I decided to go get some cash from the atm  during my lunch hour one day (which is right behind my building) and as I stood in the queue  I looked to my right and saw this:

Artizan Street Library 1

I didn’t take this picture, btw.

My reaction: Wuuuuuuuuuuuut???

Yes, folks. This is the mythical branch of the Barbican Library that I knew existed, but didn’t know where the heck it was. And it’s RIGHT BEHIND MY BUILDING!!! Here’s the view onto the street from inside:

Artizan Street Library 2

Nor did I take this one.

The atm is on the right where the dude in the business suit is standing. I’ll still shlep over to the Barbican from time to time, but if I’m having a really tough day at work, I can just take a short break and browse the shelves until I feel refreshed.This is truly exciting stuff.

No, really. This made my day ridiculously better.

On that note, I shall leave you. Let me know if you decide to read this book and whether or not you’re reading it with someone else. Ta ta for now!

Moon Over Soho

In Book Reviews on October 9, 2013 at 6:00 am
Moon Over Soho

Gollancz 2011

For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.

I would like to start off this post by saying that if you haven’t read Rivers of London (aka Midnight Riot in the US, the first book in this series), do that before you read my thoughts on this book.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Great, you’re back. Here’s my Nutshell Blurb: London is recovering from Peter Grant’s last case as he starts into the next one. Someone has been going around London killing jazz musicians and leaving traces of magic behind. Obviously, this is a job for a PC who also happens to be a wizard.

Can I just say, I looooooooove me some Peter Grant. He’s intelligent, funny (in a dry, self-effacing way), resourceful and a bit of a smart-ass. He’s perhaps a bit bloke-ish, but it’s more endearing than caveman-esque.

The book is written in 1st person, so I don’t really remember reading much about the way he looks.

But that’s ok. Ladies, you know I’ve got this covered. I remember reading in the first book that he’s of a mixed background and there was a line in this book about his preference for the villain not being called a black magician because he (Grant) could technically be considered one. So my brain has filled in the blanks and this is what I’ve come up with.

This...

This…

...with a dash of this.

…with a dash of this.

OH. YES. PLEASE. I actually don’t care what anyone says after this point. This is what’s in my head and no one can change it for me. Apparently, Rivers of London will be made into a tv show but I don’t know who will be in the cast. All I can say is that they’d better get it right.

Ok, I’ll stop fan-girling now and get on with what I thought about this book.

It’s amazing. Obviously, Ben Aaronovitch is a genius. (Sorry, just a bit more fan-girling, but I’ll stop now. Promise.)

There are river spirits, jazz vampires, cat girls, wizards and spell casting. All in modern day London. I love how much Mr. Aaronovitch loves London. It seems as if he’s familiar with every part of it. As a Londoner, it’s especially fun to recognise the places he describes. Also, this quote from the book:

My dad says that being a Londoner has nothing to do with where you’re born. He says that there are people who get off a jumbo jet at Heathrow, go through immigration waving any kind of passport, hop on the tube and by the time the train’s pulled into Piccadilly Circus they’ve become a Londoner.

Indeed.

The thing I like most about this book (besides the characters, which are always my favourite part of any book) is the author’s whimsical writing style. It seems so effortless and there were so many lines that gave me a giggle throughout the story.

There were a few things that I didn’t think were explained in this book, like who the heck the Pale Lady was. There are two more books after this one so hopefully there will be some explanation. I tore through this book, so it’s altogether possible that I missed something in my speed reading. That’s ok, though, because I didn’t get this one from the library. I treated myself to it (it’s all MINE! Mwahahaha!) so I’ll read it again sometime. These books definitely have a high re-readability factor to them.

I’ve got nothin’ but love for this book and am really looking forward to reading the next two.

Saying Goodbye To Warsaw

In Book Reviews on October 6, 2013 at 6:00 am
Saying Goodbye to Warsaw

Published by Michael Cargill 2013

*Please note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Nutshell blurb: It’s 1940 and Abigail Nussbaum, along with her family and many other Jews, are evicted from their homes and moved to a ghetto in Warsaw. This is the story of their lives from that point.

First of all, I would like to thank Michael Cargill for sending me a copy of his book. Please check out his blog and Goodreads pages for more information about him and his books.

As per my usual style, I’m going to jump right in and tell you the things that I had problems with first so that we can get those out of the way.

There were a few things that jarred me out of my immersion of the story. I am very analytical when I read and I don’t like it when I come across a passage that makes me have to think about why it doesn’t sound right. I don’t feel that I should have to think about the phraseology when I’m neck deep in a story.

My first problem was that this family is a Polish family but as I read the dialogue, I thought that they sound distinctly English. It took me a while to work out how to explain that, but I figured out that it’s because there are contractions that only native English speakers would use such as “that’d” and also the sentences don’t always start at the beginning. For example, “Anything exciting happen while we were out?” rather than “Has anything exciting happened while we were out?”. It seems like a nit-picky thing, but I think that it’s very important as there were several times when it pulled me out of the story. I don’t think that it’s necessary to be formal with language and it’s ok to use contractions, but I think that it’s important to pick the appropriate ones.

And just so you know, I’m struggling with this in my own writing and that is probably why I picked up on it so quickly.

The other problem that I had was that Abigail’s brother seemed to keep doing things that scared her, even though he loved her to pieces and would never hurt her. This seemed to be a device used to increase the suspense of the situation, but it happened repeatedly. There was also an overuse of the term ‘German trick’ as everyone was paranoid that anything good that happened was a German trick. While I can appreciate the need to build suspense, I found that these two things were bit overused.

On to the good things.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that the most important aspect of a story to me is characterisation. It is of paramount importance. I will put down a book the instant that I find out that the characters aren’t realistic or if they’re superficial. The characters in this story were spot on. They were well thought out and and felt as though they could be people that you know. It was the relationships between the protagonists that I liked the most.

Abigail is such a sweet little girl, but not overly sweet. She’s resourceful even while maintaining a childlike innocence. She was very believable and I could relate to her as I’ve always been a daydreamer living in my own little world. Leo was a fantastic big brother who loved and wanted to protect his family. I could also relate to him as he was angry about the way people were being treated and he was completely helpless to stop it.

The points of view were interesting as Mr. Cargill frequently change the pov throughout the chapter. At first, I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked it, but as I read further I found that it made perfect sense and worked quite well. It was nice to know what the other characters were thinking and added to their believability.

I always hesitate before reading books about the Jews during this time period because I never know what I’m in for. Which is funny and a bit ridiculous because I love horror, zombies and anything of an apocalyptic nature. But unlike those genres, this stuff really happened and it’s more difficult to read because it could have actually happened to someone. Sometimes that’s a bit hard for me to read. It sounds a bit silly, I know.

I was pleased to read that the subject was handled extremely well and without gratuitous violence. Any bloody moments in the story served to move it forward and paint a picture of a specific time in the lives of these people.

Overall, I thought that this was a really sweet and touching story.

Under the Dome

In Book Reviews on October 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm
Under the Dome

Hodder & Stoughton 2009

Whoa. 877 pages, people. 877.

Before I share with you my thoughts on this book, I want to take a moment to explain to you my relationship with Stephen King.

I was a big fan of his back when I was a teenager. He writes the kind of books my parents would hate. The only books they ever told me that I couldn’t read when I was that age were romance books, but I think that if they had ever read a Stephen King novel they would have taken them right away from me. That made me like the books even more. (Yes, I was a horrible teenager. Who wasn’t?)

Anyway, they fulfilled my childish need for rebellion. There’s a scene in IT where some kids try to light their farts and I remember thinking ‘People write about this stuff in books?’. *Snicker, snort* The stories were good too, but I liked that Mr. King told it like it was.

Once I left my teenage years behind, I stopped reading his books. It wasn’t any kind of conscious decision. I just read other stuff. And then last year I decided that I needed to get back to reading some of his work and I picked up the first book of the Dark Tower series. I was dismayed to find that I didn’t like it at all. I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t connect with the characters. That’s when I had my big revelation.

I’ve outgrown Stephen King.

So, I read a review of Under the Dome from one of the blogs I’m following and for the life of me I can’t remember which one of you it is because it was a while ago. I remember that the person who wrote the post did an embroidery of a quote from the book which said “God bless you, but I don’t give a shit”. (Please identify yourself so that I can give you some credit.) Anyway, it made me rethink my stance on his work. I decided to read the book based on her review.

To my intense delight I found out that I haven’t outgrown Stephen King at all! So forgive me, Mr. King. Forgive me for doubting your literary prowess and writing it off as fodder for my teenage rebellion.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can move on with what I thought of the book.

Nutshell blurb: A mysterious dome has descended around the town of Chester’s Mill cutting the people inside off from the people outside. No one knows how it came to be there or how to make it go away. The story follows the inhabitants of this dome and how they cope with being isolated.

Boy, what a cast. I think that one of the things that makes Stephen King’s books so scary is that his characters are so real. Characterisation is certainly the most important aspect to me when reading a book. I’ve just put down a different book (that shall not be named) because the characters didn’t spark my interest at all. Mr. King’s characters could easily be friends, family, neighbours, you or me and what’s terrifying is when he puts those ordinary people into hair-raising situations and lets them stew. Or die. Horribly.

It was kind of good that this book was so long because I needed periodic breaks from it. It is packed with action from page 1 to page 877 and it left me breathless at times. One would think that a book that long would have lulls in it but one would be oh so very wrong. It just never stopped. And I loved that.

The dialogue in his books is also always amazing and makes me giggle a bit. It’s colourful, brutal and sometimes quaint. I think that this passage is my favourite:

They were coming up on the hospital now. Stewart saw a gray Ford Taurus pulling out of Catherine Russell.

‘Hey, that’s Dr Rusty,’ Fern said. ‘Bet he’ll be glad to get this stuff. Give im a toot, Stewie.’

Stewart gave im a toot.

In between reading sessions, I was thinking about his other books that I’ve read. (Needful Things is one of my favourites.) None of his characters are alike, that I know of, anyway. I don’t feel like I recognise them from his other books. I’m blown away by the sheer volume of ideas the man has. I know that I’m gushing. I can’t help it. He’s the master.

My one complaint (and it’s a niggling one) is that he used a character from a different author ‘off-screen’ in the story. I’m not a big fan of that. In this book, one of the police officers was once in the army and reported to Jack Reacher. I don’t mind references to characters, songs, films or whatever. I just don’t like it when a character from a different, unrelated story is represented as a character in a book. It’s a personal preference, but it kind of feels like cheating. If it had been by a newly published author, I would have really thought about whether or not I wanted to press on with the story. At the very least there would have been some heavy eye-rolling. But it’s Stephen King so I guess he can get away with it.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to have my dispensation.

Anyway, if you can’t tell from my gushing, I loved this book. It made me gasp out loud several times on the train, which is always the sign of a good book. I’ve actually just finished it and now I feel drained. Also the sign of a good book.

It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

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