Beauty in the Twilight of the Mind

The House at Midnight

Well book ghosters I am not proud to admit it but I just got and read The House at Midnight today. I know, I know we were supposed to read it months back. I'm sorry but I had to wait until I could get it from the library.Hopefully my lateness will not get me kicked out of the club.

I don't know how many people have read it so I'm not sure what all could be considered a "spoiler". I thought it was an okay story. Some of the metaphors and descriptions she used I particularly enjoyed. She described windows as slyly peeping out from under a roof of a local pub and I like that kind of imagery that not only tells you how something looks but how it should make you feel as well. I understood her desire for balance in terms of the story with first Justin and Patrick and then Lucas and Danny but meah. All in all it neither made me feel enough nor think enough. I kept getting little glimpses of description but not enough to place myself in a situation. There were flashes of enjoyable moments but overall it was just okay to me. The house is supposed to be all sinister and malevolent but in reality it is just the poor choices of the often drunken and or stoned individuals within that cause the most distress.

It was an okay book. I wouldn't tell people not to read it but for me it didn't resonant. Hopefully if you loved it you can forgive me for not agreeing. I think overall this book was just not to my taste but not necessarily a bad read.

There, I've actually posted a post about a book we were supposed to have read...only some few odd months late.

Now it is off to read The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie

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Mocking Cursor

Writer's Block: Forbidden Reading

From Judy Blume to V.C. Andrews, there's always a book circulating among teens that their parents don't want them to read. What favorite book did you have to hide from your parents?
Is it wrong that the whole idea of having to hide reading material form your parents scares me? I mean, sure, if you're hiding a Playboy that's one thing (and debatable whether it's considered 'reading material'), but hiding a book from your parents because they thought it was inappropriate? It's called talking to your offspring about issues, explaining perhaps why a book might not be suitable for their age, but for the love of Christmas, let the kid make up their own mind.
I mean, if I had a thirteen year old who wanted to read the Marquis de Sade, that would be pretty scary and there'd have to be some serious, likely uncomfortable, explanations of why at that age it might not be a good idea to read that. However, I wouldn't ever want a kid to feel like they had to hide a book from me. Porn, sure - that's just part fo growing up. R-rated movies, maybe, though even those I'd rather know about what ones they were watching and talk about them openly than have the kid feel like they were 'forbidden.' But books? I know it probably has a lot to do with my individual upbringing, but that idea is practically unfathomable to me.

My parents perhaps warned me away from reading a few books at too young an age, but they still left the decision to me. I never felt I had to hide any book I was reading from them. Hell, my parents are experienced enough readers that most books I read before the age of 16 they had already read, so they knew what to expect. And I suppose that's the key. I think parents can fall into the trap of seeing the hype of a book, the controversy it may be causing in pockets of society that even marginally resemble theirs, and without even reading the book, they dismiss it as trash, or inappropriate, or profane, or whatever.

Or am I just an exception to the rule? Did other people have to hide books from their parents?

Mocking Cursor

Food for thought...

"If you choose to read a book today, it's not like a hundred years ago, when that was your only option. Today, when you read a book, you're making a conscious decision not to play a video game, not to surf the web, not to watch a movie, not to turn on the TV. It does require a certain discipline to make that decision.…"- Neal Stephenson (specific quotation borrowed from Wil Wheaton's blog)
Mocking Cursor

Review 2: The Castle of Otranto

Again - really, really short book. Easy peasy.

Ok, maybe not peasy. Depending on the edition you get of this book, the dialogue can be hard to follow as it's not separated like traditional dialogue. It's all strung together like a regular paragraph, which can be tricky with defining who's speaking.

That said, it's an interesting little tale. I suppose it may be my own jaded self, but I was a little underwhelmed by this book. Of course, on the other hand, this is like the alphabet of gothic storytelling - you have to start with the alphabet before you can create Shakespeare. It's certainly sensation by period standards, and full of classic gothic images, scenarios and plot twists - mistaken identities, secret meetings, apparitions, dark corridors, big manor houses and old churches, maidens in peril, scheming, lecherous old men.. you know, the usual.
And it's short. Less than a hundred pages, so there's not epic descriptions and establishing chapters and exposition enough to make your head spin as some later gothic writers enjoyed (especially the Victorians, and the current Neo-Victorians - I don't know if that term actually exists... but it does now).
So all in all, it's not fantastic, but it's a fun, short read and another one of those books I can now say, "Yeah, I've read that." and feel like a Superior Gothic Reader :)

And I'm about 50 pages into Hell House (which, granted, I've read before... still, it's not a difficult read...) so get reading/posting people!
Mocking Cursor

Review 1 - The Haunting of Hill House

First off, there is no reason everyone shouldn't be able to read this book. It's less than 200 pages and not exactly complex language or structure or anything. I read it over a few hours last night and tonight. Bing-bang-boom-done.

In any case - this was an interesting read. It's always difficult for me approaching 'classic' books outside of an academic context. When you read classics in school, you're usually given certain themes, motifs, etc to look for, as well as some historical context for the book so you know, generally, what people thought in the period, both of the book and the world in general. When you take that away from someone like me, sometimes I feel a little lost when starting in...

That being said, I mostly enjoyed the book, at least for the first two-thirds. Not to spoil anything, but there's quite a dramatic shift in the attitude of the main character that almost literally turns on a dime. It's like, one minute she's a specific character with specific motives and then, almost randomly, she goes off the deep end. Which, in a way, is fitting for the story and the book, and even her character, but it's incredibly jarring.

Shirley Jackson, being historically not the sanest person ever, nor known for surrounding herself with sane people, understandably had a better imagination than ability to express it, and I think that's where the book suffers most. There's a lot of really cool things happening in the story, but at times the writing style leaves a lot to be desired... as does the dialogue. It's a little too witty, in my opinion, to be believable from all the characters.

Still, as a classic of gothic writing and ghost stories, I'd recommend it - just to say, oh yeah, I've read that.
Mocking Cursor

Books to Movies

Since I'm just twiddling my thumbs waiting for an email response, I thought I'd take this time to address tcirishgirl 's question of books being transformed for the screen.

So... I'm one of those people who is not opposed, in theory, to bringing works of literature to the screen, big or small. In fact, it's something I think when done right can be incredible and a great companion to the original story. However, the key phrase here is: when done right. Sadly, this is rarely the case.

I've known many people to say it is impossible to recreate a book for TV or film and have it be faithful to its source, without getting too dull or preachy or any number of other adjectives. To this, I have several responses highlighting films that actually pull it off, the strongest of which is Fraser Heston's Treasure Island. Unfortunately, most people are unaware this film even exists, and thus have not seen it. However, if you want to see exactly how to turn a book into a movie, this is the one to watch - the gold medal winner in the 'development of printed material for the screen' event.

Personally, I think some others are successful adaptations, in terms of staying true to the source material emotionally, tonally and/or literally... examples include most of the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, Pride & Prejudice (either recent version), The Shining miniseries (not that piece of crap Kubrick created), and IT. But there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me on all fronts (however, in the aforementioned faux-Olympic event, I think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone deserves medal placement).

Still, for every even semi-faithful adaptation there are probably at least five that completely murder the source material. Whether through poor casting choices, bad writing, bad directing, or chopping up the story and/or ripping the soul of a book out, there seems to be an endless supply of ways to screw up an adaptation. And once in a while, a rare movie screws practically everything up so fantastically that one wonders why it was given a title remotely resembling the original work... I think some of you know where I'm going with this...
Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Yeah. Epic fail. I grant that movie two points of 'success' though I hate to use that word at all in connection with this movie. It is the only adaptation thus far to include ALL the major characters, specifically including Seward, Quincey, and Holmwood. The other thing I will grant it is the casting of Cary Elwes and Billy Campbell as Holmwood and Quincey, respectively. I think because of their previous exclusion in every other film adaptation, the writer/director saw fit to keep their characters more or less similar to the ones in the story. There are still moments where I think: Quincey and Arthur would NEVER do that, but they are scattered moments and overall the characters are portrayed semi-faithfully.
In general, the casting of this movie was not bad, were following the book actually a goal of this film... with the exception of Keanu Reeves, all the major characters could have pulled off a faithful portrayal of their characters had they been written and directed remotely close to what they are in the book. But no, we have to make Seward a drug addict, Mina a sex-starved tart who takes a shine to men who scares away other people with wolves, Van Helsing a complete whack-job, and Dracula a moaning, soulful, lonely old bloke who just wants to be looooved.
Kill me now.

Still, a lot of my favorite movies are adaptations, and many of them of books I've never read, which I think speaks to the strength of those films on their own.

I think adaptation, like imitation, can be a sincere form of flattery... but, like imitation, if it's poorly done, even in a sincere way, it doesn't make the viewer/reader any more pleased at the end results.

One more addition to good adaptations, and one of the very few rarities where it's entirely arguable that the movie surpasses the book: Stand By Me. There's a difference between preferring a film adaptation, and that adaptation actually being superior to its source... and I think Stand By Me is one of the very few times this has happened.

Also, along the books to TV vein, anyone seen ads for the Crusoe series?
Beauty in the Twilight of the Mind

Still book related rant....

One of my favorite books of all time is Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind. It has spawned into a series and while I have not read them all (as they are owned by my father and my father and I are not on good terms) I would say it is a really well done series. There aren't books just to make more books the story line and writing support each one. The characters are real, flawed, and human even if they well, aren't human. Good book series and the first book sits comfortably in my top three favorite books and has for a while.

Last night I was watching tv and started to see a preview for a new show. It looked kind of intriguing but a little campy. The longer it went on the more I was like, "Meah that could be my guilty pleasure show."

BUT THEN....then it all clicked. They took my favorite book and bastardized it for tv!!!!!!!!!!!!! And if that weren't bad enough they absolutely MURDERED the casting. It's not just about reading a book and envisioning someone in the role but they got those people completely and utterly wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong!!!

So while I have always thought it was good enough to go to the big screen and always wished someone had tried I am not horrified that it has been so sorely used by tv executives.

So my question to the group is this:
Have you ever had a beloved book make it to the big or little screen and if so how well did you think it was done?

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Mocking Cursor

October Book

OK, since since we didn't get much response on the poll, and it's Tuesday already, I'm going to work it this way:

Look at the books on the poll, choose the one you want to read the most and read that. Then share your thoughts, etc. as soon as you get done - get other people interested and sad they didn't choose to read that book, just be sure to put anything spoilery under a cut.

And the competition for the month stands: whoever reads the most of the poll books and posts thought provoking questions/reviews on each by November 10th gets a free book. FREE. BOOK.

So read, read, read!!!
Mocking Cursor

VOTE NOW! - and WIN!

OK, so September was a bit mad... what can you do? However, with it being October and everyone kind of disappearing, this month I'm trying something new.

Since it's October, it's the perfect time to read a gothic novel. So below is a poll of five gothic novel possibilities to read for this month. They range from classic to contemporary and none of them are strictly 'horror' novels.

Here's the fun part:
Whatever book gets the most votes, that's what we'll all read. BUT - whoever reads the most out of these five and posts insightful reviews/questions to each by November 10th gets a free book. Yes, a free book. A good, free book that I will choose for you based on requests/interests.

You read and participate and you get rewarded :)

And if perchance more than one person does this, we'll settle the score with some snazzy showdown.

So vote now - I'll close voting on Sunday night - and get reading!

Poll #1270704 October Book
This poll is closed.

What Book Do You Want to Read for October?

Horace Walpole - The Castle of Otranto
Shirley Jackson - The Haunting of Hill House
Matthew Lewis - The Monk
Richard Matheson - Hell House
Robert Louis Stevenson - The Master of Ballantrae

(PS - if you've never seen any of these books in person, none of them are exceedingly long, so it's not at all impossible to get through say, one of these per week)

(PPS - What did y'all think of The House at Midnight?)
Mocking Cursor

Next Book...

Need suggestions!

 Holy jeezum it's almost September! When did this happen?

Give us suggestions for next month's book so's I can make a poll. Suggestions makes us happy!

BTW, anyone done with The House at Midnight? I finished a while back, and we're coming up on the end of the month, so feel free to start posting about it.