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April 2021 - How Many???

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  • Martin
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post

    I had no idea that there were two sequels to the novel of Sideways. I loved the movie, but never read the book. I don't know how much the book and the movie differ, but I didn't leave the theater thinking, "This needs to be a trilogy!"...and I love me some Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church.

    I also read The Elementals and really enjoyed it. It took me a bit to get into McDowell's style as it was the first book I read by him, but once I did, I fell in love with the characters.
    The movie Sideways was pretty true to the book with some elements trimmed for time, The only scene in the book that I missed in the movie was when a local man took the two main characters on wild boar hunt. I will also add that Paul Giamatti made the main character lovable and in the book he comes across as much more of an arrogant prick. Think of the Merlot scene and repeated actions like that. Side note: The book had been shopped as both a novel and screenplay for a long time. Only after someone finally bought the screenplay and had the movie in production did a publisher agree to publish the book. The book came out October 2004 and the movie followed in January 2005. The author stretching it into a trilogy really feels like a attempt to squeeze all the available juice out of it. The author has his first non Sideways novel coming out this fall. I may read it just to see if he has the ability to step outside of his box. The Archivist: A Novel: Rex Pickett: 9781538519646: Amazon.com: Books

    The Elementals was my first McDowell's story. I completely agree with your assessment. It took a bit but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. I found the story itself very original.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Martin View Post
    I finished 5 books this month:
    Vertical by Rex Pickett:
    This book is the follow-up to Sideways. This novel is really two distinct stories. The first is a road trip from Southern California to the Willamette Valley for a wine event. The premise is that the book Sideways was actually the book written by the protagonist and the movie has made him an in-demand celebrity in the wine industry. The first book left me with the feeling that the main character in based on the author. This book and some other elements I have heard about the author lead me to a certainty that this is true. I had read that the reason there would be no second movie was due to issues between the director, his wife at the time who was in the movie, and the author. The character played by the wife is written out as, the author at the time did not want to have to deal with her if a second movie was made. The director has said he will not work with the author again. The studio has said it has no interest in continuing the story without the director and they own rights to the characters. I say all that to say that he wrote the character in a manner that felt particularly mean and went back to it several times to drill the point home rather than mentioning it and moving on. Back to the actual story. The road trip portion of the book, although having new events, played much like SidewaysWith and simply felt un-needed. As that section was approaching its conclusion with so far still to go I began to wonder if I would be able to push through this. Th second part, which is the protagonist taking his mother to the Midwest to live with her sister is a much better story. It is a very touching story of a mother and son working through the events in life that separate them. I actually think this could be a five star book if the entire first section had been removed and replaced with a set-up with the events that led to the moms journey home. The ending is beautiful and tragic.
    3 Stars

    Sideways 3 Chile by Rex Pickett:
    With our protagonist’s celebrity fading and still no inspiration for a follow-up novel he decided to accept a job traveling to Chile and covering the burgeoning wine scene there. His hope is that he will be inspired to also write a second book. Much of the book is rehashing Sideways with new events and scenery but the same basic theme. It ends on a high note but to be honest I could have done without this story. I probably should not have read Vertical and Sideways 3 Chile back-to-back because I also burned out on the main character.
    The ending brings this up to 3 stars but otherwise it would be 2.
    3 Stars

    The Elementals by Malcom McDowell:
    This story has been on my radar for quite some time and I finally got around to it. A very unique and creative ghost story.
    4 Stars

    Chart of Darkness by Kevin Quigley:
    155 pages all devoted to the history of Steven King on the New York Times bestseller list. May sound boring but it is actually informative and really interesting.
    5 Stars

    The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson:
    Been on a bit of a Matheson kick recently but it was all re-reads. I decided to try something I had not read yet and settled on The Shrinking Man. Overall interesting story but probably would have made a better short story.
    3 Stars
    I had no idea that there were two sequels to the novel of Sideways. I loved the movie, but never read the book. I don't know how much the book and the movie differ, but I didn't leave the theater thinking, "This needs to be a trilogy!"...and I love me some Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church.

    I also read The Elementals and really enjoyed it. It took me a bit to get into McDowell's style as it was the first book I read by him, but once I did, I fell in love with the characters.

    Leave a comment:


  • brlesh
    replied
    Finished 8 in April with one DNF.

    House of Skin was another well paced, entertaining story from Jonathan Janz, which plays off several classic horror / gothic tropes. In House of Skin a man approaching middle age inherits a house from a distant uncle, who is the family pariah. Once at the house, he begins to learn more of the dark history of his newly inherited property and his estranged aunt & uncle. Of course he falls for the beautiful young woman who lives next door, who has her own connection to his distant relatives. I guess my one complaint about House of Skin, and it's a fairly major one, was that I wished that Janz had fleshed out the supernatural aspects of the novel more than he did. 3.5 / 5

    The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories Vol. 4 ed. by James Jenkins & Ryan Cagle was the fourth in a series of horror story anthologies of authors who have been published by Valancourt Press. It was a mainly reprint anthology with several original story publications. Overall I found the quality of the stories in the fourth volume to be more in line with the first two volumes in this series, rather than the third, which I thought was a little disappointing. My favorite stories were 'Vivid Dreams', an original publication by Elizabeth Engstrom about an elderly woman who suffers strange side effects from her new sleep medication, 'Happy Birthday, Dear Alex' by John Keir Cross where the procurement of birthday gift has dire consequences, and 'Rain' an original story by Garrett Boatman in which a descendant of Innsmouth portends doom for a flooded Texas town. 3.5 / 5

    The Coming of the Old Ones was book #1 in the chapbook series by Jeffrey Thomas. Book #1 was a collection of 3 lovecraftian stories. Not bad, not great. 3 / 5

    White Lightening by Brian Keene was an expansion of his novella of the some name published by Solitude Press in the early 2000's. I don't remember anything about the original novella other than I liked it a lot. I liked the expanded edition also, but similar to his recent novel Pressure, the scientific aspects of the story were poorly handled in a real world aspect. If you can look past this, the story itself is a pretty good one, and hits home especially due to the events of the last year. 4 / 5

    Nights in Punktown by Jeffrey Thomas was book #2 in the chapbook series by Jeffrey Thomas. Nights was a collection of three stories set in his world of Punktown, and better than the first book in the series. The opening story, 'Draped in Flesh', is a truly twisted piece of storytelling. 4 / 5

    The Refuge Collection...Hell to Others ed. by Steve Dillon is the follow up anthology to TRC....Heaven to Some, a charity anthology published by Oz Con in Australia. The stories in Hell (and in Heaven) are set in the mystical city of Refuge, so named because all manner of troubled individuals can find a home there (Dillon mentions in his introduction that Refuge was inspired by Clive Barker's Midian). I thought both of the books were pretty solid. The stories in Hell to Others did seem to maintain an interlinking storyline more so than those in Heaven. A lot of the stories had a Lovecraftian feel to them and there were numerous references to the works of Barker. 3.5 / 5

    Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay was the third novel I've read by Tremblay, and for my money, it's nearly as good as a Head Full of Ghost, with which it has a lot of similarities (teen age protagonist, parent(s) struggling with a teenager in trouble, plucky younger sister who knows more than she lets on). One night at a sleepover, three friends sneak out to drink beer in the neighboring forest and one of the boys goes missing. As the search intensifies, it is found out that the boys were recently befriended by a charismatic young man and may have committed a terrible crime. Tremblay puts the reader right in the middle of the story from page one, and doesn't let up the pace until the end. As with HFOG, Tremblay can really write engaging, and more importantly, believable teenage characters. His teenage & children characters act age appropriately, something a lot of authors seem to have a problem with. 5 / 5

    The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft with artwork by Francois Baranger. Lovecraft's classic story highlighted by some great artwork by Baranger. Apparently Baranger is working on a two volume art book of 'At the Mountains of Madness' next. 5 / 5

    Swift to Chase by Laird Barron. I've read Barron's first collection, a short novel, and various stories in anthologies over the last several years, and quite frankly, just couldn't see what a lot of other readers saw in his work. I recently read the anthology Adam's Ladder, and thought that his story 'Swift to Chase' was one of the better ones in that dark SF anthology. Based on that, I decided to give Barron another chance & picked up his collection Swift to Chase (surprisingly the story 'Swift to Chase' was not included in the collection of the same name). Five stories into Swift and I realize that my initial perception of Barron's work remains; he's not an author for me. DNF

    B

    Leave a comment:


  • kresby
    replied
    Books read and recommended for April, 2021.

    Hard cover -

    1. Starving Zoe by C. Derick Miller from Death’s Head and Thunderstorm. Ho hum.

    2. Mage of Hellmouth by John Wayne Comunale from Thunderstorm. 2 pretty good novellas here. Will read more from this new author.

    3. Nightwalker by Thomas Tessier from Millipede. Title story is a unique werewolf tase. Good stuff.


    Paperback -

    4. Eternal Darkness by Tom Deady from Bloodshot Books. 136 pages in and I can’t go on. Bored. Surprised me as I loved his novel HAVEN.

    5. Night Stockers by Kristopher Triana and Ryan Harding from Evil Cookie. This was crazy, gory fun. A real hoot.

    6. Passages by Kelli Owen from Gypsy Press. Decent read. Will follow the WILTED LILY series.

    7. Into the Fire by Gregg Hurwitz from St. Martin’s. Fantastic 4th novel in the series. Great stuff.



    Favorites = #2, 3, 5, 6 and 7.


    Support Indie Publishers and Enjoy

    Leave a comment:


  • Martin
    replied
    Originally posted by brlesh View Post
    I've never read Bid Time Return, but I've always thought that Stir of Echoes was criminally under rated.

    It's my second favorite of Matheson's work, only behind I Am Legend.

    B
    I put Bid Time Return and Stir of Echoes on the same level. They are very different but are both absolute classic reads. I have only read I Am Legend once and I did not care for it. Recently picked up a copy and plan to try again to see if my opinion has changed.

    Leave a comment:


  • brlesh
    replied
    I've never read Bid Time Return, but I've always thought that Stir of Echoes was criminally under rated.

    It's my second favorite of Matheson's work, only behind I Am Legend.

    B

    Leave a comment:


  • Martin
    replied
    Originally posted by brlesh View Post
    I had a similar experience with The Shrinking Man.

    It was an interesting concept, and Matheson, taking into account when the story was published, doesn't shy away from any subject matter, but the story itself just seemed to drag along.

    B
    I think it really had the potential to be a great story. I am glad I am not the only one with that take on it. I was wondering if I was grading it on a curve. I have recently read Bid Time Return (Somewhere In Time), Stir of Echoes and a collection of short stories from Matheson and this was far below those.

    Leave a comment:


  • brlesh
    replied
    I had a similar experience with The Shrinking Man.

    It was an interesting concept, and Matheson, taking into account when the story was published, doesn't shy away from any subject matter, but the story itself just seemed to drag along.

    B

    Leave a comment:


  • Martin
    started a topic April 2021 - How Many???

    April 2021 - How Many???

    I finished 5 books this month:
    Vertical by Rex Pickett:
    This book is the follow-up to Sideways. This novel is really two distinct stories. The first is a road trip from Southern California to the Willamette Valley for a wine event. The premise is that the book Sideways was actually the book written by the protagonist and the movie has made him an in-demand celebrity in the wine industry. The first book left me with the feeling that the main character in based on the author. This book and some other elements I have heard about the author lead me to a certainty that this is true. I had read that the reason there would be no second movie was due to issues between the director, his wife at the time who was in the movie, and the author. The character played by the wife is written out as, the author at the time did not want to have to deal with her if a second movie was made. The director has said he will not work with the author again. The studio has said it has no interest in continuing the story without the director and they own rights to the characters. I say all that to say that he wrote the character in a manner that felt particularly mean and went back to it several times to drill the point home rather than mentioning it and moving on. Back to the actual story. The road trip portion of the book, although having new events, played much like SidewaysWith and simply felt un-needed. As that section was approaching its conclusion with so far still to go I began to wonder if I would be able to push through this. Th second part, which is the protagonist taking his mother to the Midwest to live with her sister is a much better story. It is a very touching story of a mother and son working through the events in life that separate them. I actually think this could be a five star book if the entire first section had been removed and replaced with a set-up with the events that led to the moms journey home. The ending is beautiful and tragic.
    3 Stars

    Sideways 3 Chile by Rex Pickett:
    With our protagonist’s celebrity fading and still no inspiration for a follow-up novel he decided to accept a job traveling to Chile and covering the burgeoning wine scene there. His hope is that he will be inspired to also write a second book. Much of the book is rehashing Sideways with new events and scenery but the same basic theme. It ends on a high note but to be honest I could have done without this story. I probably should not have read Vertical and Sideways 3 Chile back-to-back because I also burned out on the main character.
    The ending brings this up to 3 stars but otherwise it would be 2.
    3 Stars

    The Elementals by Malcom McDowell:
    This story has been on my radar for quite some time and I finally got around to it. A very unique and creative ghost story.
    4 Stars

    Chart of Darkness by Kevin Quigley:
    155 pages all devoted to the history of Steven King on the New York Times bestseller list. May sound boring but it is actually informative and really interesting.
    5 Stars

    The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson:
    Been on a bit of a Matheson kick recently but it was all re-reads. I decided to try something I had not read yet and settled on The Shrinking Man. Overall interesting story but probably would have made a better short story.
    3 Stars
    Last edited by Martin; 05-03-2021, 03:24 AM.
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