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Book of the Year for Writers – The 3AM Epiphany

  There is a man out there, a man I have never met, named Brian Kiteley. He happens to direct the creative writing program at the University of Denver, where the aspiring writer can go to receive the rarely offered PhD in creative writing. Amongst his many other accomplishments, he has written two very inspiring books for the writing student at home. If I were to seriously do each of the exercises in the book, The 3AM Epiphany, I would probably deserve a degree. Well, it would be nice to get some feedback on it, though! I have done some of the exercises in this book, and plan on posting them periodically. The goal: to do them all! Once finished, however, I won’t be done… as he has faithfully provided another book full of exercises: The 4AM Breakthrough. These exercises have it all: An explanation behind the theory of the exercise. In other words: Why do it? Clearly defined word limit Clear instructions with just enough boundary to make me want to push the envelope of creativity. Shall we have a turn with the exercises? Let’s pray to the sleeping baby Muse: Exercises coming...

Stephen King – Under The Dome

-by Adam Wilby Just over a week ago this was placed in my hand by a work colleague following a conversation about Stephen King. My initial comment was something along the lines of “This isn’t a book, it’s a doorstop”, an observation based on it being 880 pages long. The setting for this story is the fictional town of Chester’s Mill which, like other stories Stephen King has written, is located in Maine. Consisting of a population of approximately 2500 people they are all going about their everyday lives when a ‘forcefield’ suddenly comes down and cuts them off from the outside world. For anyone who has read Lord of the Flies they might recognise the similar themes of sides being taken which, at a fundamental level, is essentially good vs evil. The protagonist is Dale Barbara, a former Iraq War veteran who quickly finds himself at odds with politician Jim Rennie over the latter’s intention to use what has happened for his own ends. At times the ‘Dome’ as it eventually becomes known is forgotten in the midst of the ongoing power struggle which, it could be argued, are lacking in the ‘shades of grey’ which so often make up human nature. On the plus side though Stephen King has not neglected to mention the outside world which begins with the efforts of US Military to analyse and break the dome and later deals with re-uniting relatives as far as they are able to do so. This is about as much as I can say without giving away too many spoilers so shall stop here, my final words on the subject shall be : Yes it is a long book but Stephen King has written it in such a way to make this interesting from start to finish. Buy a copy and read, I promise you won’t regret...

Book Review – Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

-By Adam Wilby I’ve read a number of autobiographies in my life but this is the first I’ve ever read which has made me laugh and made me want to cry in equal measures. Predominately set against the backdrop of Limerick in Republic of Ireland after Frank McCourt’s buck the trend of Irish immigrants settling in America by returning there and experiencing the grim poverty of the 1930’s and 1940’s. In writing this book Frank McCourt manages to pull off the near-impossible and find humour in a life which saw his alcoholic father regularly spend all his money down the pub thereby forcing the rest of the family to beg, borrow and steal in order to survive. As this is predominately Frank’s story he does focus on his siblings but the reader can clearly see how his life experiences shape him as a person and ultimately lead to him returning to America as a nineteen year old in a potential cliched bid to seek his fortune. All in all, a throughly good...

2010 Booklist

– By Lori Moritz 2010 is winding down to a grinding (rapid, smashing????) halt. At least I managed to read a bit. These are the books I read in 2010, in no particular order… and some with odd commentary: World War Z by Max Brooks via Paperback This book gave me Nightmares. BRAVO! The Stand by Stephen King via Amazon Kindle This book took me a year and a half to read completely. This has nothing to do with Mr. King’s story telling ability. In fact, I read quite a few other King books in the year simultaneously.  In short, LOVED Part 1; The superflu and aftermath was horrific. Great apocalyptic stuff. Part 2 took the longest for me to get through… lots of political and social philosophy weaved into a tremendous amount of character development and people going about their newly assumed roles in the aftermath. There wasn’t much action. Sorry, I am an action junkie. Part 3 returned the action and interest… with the final STAND. Whoot! Overall, the year and a half was worth it. King does a fantastic job getting me to care about his characters. I felt like I was living their lives with them. And I am charmed by his ability to gross me out. That’s not an easy thing to do… The Passage by Justin Cronin via Audible audiobook This book I read because Stephen King told me to. Ha. Ironically enough, the novel follows the pattern of King’s The Stand quite closely. In Part 1, a deadly virus created by the US government wipes out nearly the entire population of the planet by turning the infected into vampires. This part of the book was riveting. Cronin did a wonderful job with this. Part two takes place some 100 years in the future, and concentrates on a colony of survivors. Again, lots...

Book Review : The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

– By Adam Wilby . This is now an available to rent DVD, the movie (for the benefit of those of you who don’t know) has Peter Jackson in the directors chair and a good job he makes of it as well. However, to move onto the book, an excerpt on the back cover reads “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighbourhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertiliser”. This eye-catching teaser is quite possibly how this book came to catch the eye of Peter Jackson. In the story Susie Salmon is raped and murdered in the first chapter by an adult from the neighbourhood known only as “Mr Harvey”. I did find myself wondering such thoughts as “Why should I care?” upon reading this as precious little had been revealed about Susie. It is only afterward when she is watching events unfold from heaven, the reaction of her family as the investigation moves from that of a missing person to a case of murder as evidence is gradually discovered. In this version of heaven Susie’s world is what she wishes it to be, she still attends school but only her favoured classes, making friends along the way, while at the same time being almost fanatical about her desire for justice. The thought occurs that there are several shades of grey in this book, an example being Susie’s mother making the decision to walk out on the family leaving the father to contend with the two surviving children being easy to criticise at face value. Upon her return several years later she finds she has paid a heavy price for what is seen as an act of betrayal when her children...

Book Review – Under the Dome by Stephen King

. . How I can finish this book, Under the Dome (1074 pages), before I can finish The Stand (1141 pages), when I started the Stand one year ago, and Under the Dome three weeks ago is beyond me, but it’s true. Under the Dome reads like a season of 24. The book opens with a series of tragedies that initially befall the residents of the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill, and lopes along, downing one domino of tragedy after the other, until… Whammo! What happens? Well, you’ll have to read the book for that. King populates this novel with many characters. So many, in fact, as a budding writer, I find it intimidating. I think the more I study writing, the more intimidated I get when I look at the minefield of cliche I must traverse in order to get to the inside of ONE character, much less twenty of them. King may not flush all the cliche from his population, but does he have to? In a town like Chester’s Mill? It’s believable that people would live by them. I wasn’t distracted by Big Jim’s H3, nor by Barbie’s military kick-ass a la Reese from the Terminator. The characters are fun. They fit the bill. They are reachable and understandable to everyone, and no one has to tread through a mound of rich metaphor to get the point. Sometimes that’s just what I need to read, and I am so happy King is there to provide. The Plot involves a fun thought experiment. (I personally LOVE thought experiments like this) What would happen if … a large indestructible dome suddenly enclosed an entire town, completely separating it from the rest of the world in every way (except, for some odd reason, sound and radio-waves pass through it with no problem, and air and water can trickle...

World War Z

I’m reading this book called World War Z by Max Brooks. I’ll confess, I have a pretty horrific mind. So, I was pleasantly surprised to get genuinely creeped out by the first few pages. It gets gnarly on about page 5. Bravo! I also have managed to have dreams about my baby trying to gum me to death during a breastfeeding session, all as a result of this book, but that’s just me. No really, folks… That’s the kind of reading that sets me on fire. I love it. It’s like virtual crack. I don’t need to smoke it to feel paranoid and otherwise jacked-up. Brooks tells the tale through a series of reports from various characters all over the globe who have personally encountered the zombies and lived to speak of it. The people come from all walks of life, which is where things get interesting. You hear the motivations of politicians, the view points of the common citizen, army infantry, doctors, swindlers… He’s included virtually every identifiable group, however, I am not quite finished yet. He may have missed a few. I whole-heartedly recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good freak-out novel. Better yet, It goes beyond the gross. Brooks makes social commentary on many different levels. It covers the economics of a cover-up that evolves into a world war of a second nature. I can’t help but immerse myself in the thought experiment: What if it actually happened? May god grant us all the strength to write something that can put others in as gripping an emotional vice-grip as Brooks’ World War Z. Great stuff! And may the force be with...

Tell me what to read!

There are sooooo many wonderful books to read. In fact, I have at least fifty novels on my list of books to read. Not that I really need it, but PLEASE, tell me what more I should read. If you add a reason why I should read it, that’s a plus… 😉

The Stand

I am reading The Stand by Stephen King (Who, by the sheer number of his books I’ve read and enjoyed, I’ve decided is my favorite author). I started this novel in August of 2009. I hope to finish by August 2010. LOL. Well, the beginning rocked, but the exodus is trying for me. That’s when the momentum stopped. I would have been happy with just a horror novel about the superflu. Given that one piece of criticism, I’m still hanging in...

Italio Calvino

I am currently reading If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italio Calvino. When I read the first pages, I didn’t like it. Then I read it again, altered my perspective a bit, and VOILA! It’s like what he was trying to do dawned on me. Anyone else have thoughts on...