October 20, 2016

Stephen King Goes To The Movies

Title:  Stephen King Goes To The Movies
Author:  Stephen King
Pages:  627
Genre:  Horror
Publisher:  Pocket Books, 2009
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  Stephen King revisits five of his favorite short stories that have been turned into films: The Shawshank Redemption (based on the novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption") was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and best actor for Morgan Freeman. 1408 starred John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson and was a huge box office success in 2007. The short story "Children of the Corn" was adapted into the popular Children of the Corn. "The Mangler" was inspired by King's loathing for laundry machines from his own experience working in a laundromat. Hearts in Atlantis (based on "Low Men in Yellow Coats," the first part of the novel Hearts in Atlantis) starred Anthony Hopkins. This collection features new commentary and introductions to all of these stories in a treasure-trove of movie trivia.

Review:  Five great short stories are included in this book:  Children of the Corn, The Mangler, 1408, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and Low Men in Yellow Coats.  Although, the last of these is actually a novella, with a whopping 346 pages.  Only with Stephen King would they list a 300+ page story as 'short'.

I've, at one time or another, read all of these stories.  But, I hadn't ever read this particular collection.  There are forewords to each tale, where the author tells you what he really thought about the film version of each one.  He doesn't pull any punches either.

At the very end, there is a list entitled My 10 Favorite Adaptations.  One of my all-time favorite movies based on his books is noticeably missing, but then again I know some people aren't fond of the mini-series The Stand.  I'm sad to see that Mr. King evidently agrees.  I liked The Stand far better than two or three of the movies he does list.  But, it didn't really matter.  I've seen all of the ones on his list and liked them.  And I've read all of his stories except the most recent couple and loved them.

I hadn't read any of these stories in years.  1408 was probably the one I read most recently before this book.  So, they were like reading something new....but also like visiting old friends.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

October 13, 2016

Sky Dragons by Anne & Todd McCaffrey

Title:  Sky Dragons
Author:  Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Pages:  344
Genre:  Science Fiction / Fantasy
Publisher:  Ballantine, 2012
Series:  Dragonriders of Pern

Synopsis:  From the New York Times bestselling mother-and-son team of Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey comes the final installment in the riveting Pern saga that began with Todd’s solo novel, Dragonsblood.

Now, with all of Pern imperiled by the aftereffects of a plague that killed scores of dragons and left the planet helpless against the fall of deadly Thread, the only hope for the future lies in the past. There, on an unexplored island, a group of dragonriders led by Xhinna, a brave young woman who rides the blue dragon Tazith, must battle lethal Merows and voracious tunnel-snakes to build a safe home for themselves and the dragons, whose offspring will one day—if they survive—replenish Pern’s decimated dragon population.

But as the first female rider of a blue dragon, and the first female Weyrleader in the history of Pern, Xhinna faces an uphill battle in winning the respect and loyalty of her peers . . . especially after an unforeseen tragedy leaves the struggling colony reeling from a shattering loss. Amid the grieving, one girl, Jirana, blessed—or cursed—with the ability to foresee potential futures, will help Xhinna find a way forward. The answer lies in time . . . or, rather, in timing it: the awesome ability of the dragons to travel through time itself. But that power comes with risks, and by venturing further into the past, Xhinna may be jeopardizing the very future she has sworn to save.

Review:  This was such a bittersweet novel.  This is the last novel published that Anne McCaffrey had a hand in.  Of course, being a life-time fan, I knew she had passed away, but I was still sad to realize I was reading her last novel.  I have others that were written earlier on my shelves, but this was the last one.

The great news is that it's a really good story.  I loved all the strong female characters, especially Xhinna and Jirana.  And I really loved the dragons, as always.

I'm so glad that I have two autographed bookplates signed by Ms. McCaffrey.  I was so blessed to be able to request them and have her mail them to me all the way from her home in Ireland.  I've never put them in a book.  Instead, they (and the envelope they came in) are in a box with my most valued treasures.  She was the Grand Dame of Dragons and I will always love her stories.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

October 8, 2016

Dragon's Time by Anne & Todd McCaffrey

Title:  Dragon's Time
Author:  Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Pages:  321
Genre:  Science Fiction / Fantasy
Publisher:  Ballantine, 2011
Series:  Dragonriders of Pern

Synopsis:  For the first time in more than three years, bestselling authors Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey, mother and son, have teamed up again to do what they do best: add a fresh chapter to the most beloved science fiction series of all time, the Dragonriders of Pern.

Even though Lorana cured the plague that was killing the dragons of Pern, sacrificing her queen dragon in the process, the effects of the disease were so devastating that there are no longer enough dragons available to fight the fall of deadly Thread. And as the situation grows more dire, a pregnant Lorana decides that she must take drastic steps in the quest for help.

Meanwhile, back at Telgar Weyr, Weyrwoman Fiona, herself pregnant, and the harper Kindan must somehow keep morale from fading altogether in the face of the steadily mounting losses of dragons and their riders. But time weighs heavily against them—until Lorana finds a way to use time itself in their favor.

It’s a plan fraught with risk, however. For attempting time travel means tampering with the natural laws of the universe, which could drastically alter history—and destiny—forever. Or so it has always been thought. But Lorana discovers that if the laws of time can’t be broken without consequences, it may still be possible to bend them. To ensure the future of Pern, she’s willing to take the fateful chance—even if it demands another, even greater, sacrifice.

Review:  I've loved Pern and the dragons that live there ever since I was young.  I did like this latest addition to the series, but I begin to think I'm outgrowing these stories.  It seemed like a great deal of time travelling and an awful lot of romance with very little actual adventure.

The story was certainly dramatic and sad, but it was also just a little childish.  I've got several more books from this series on my shelves.  I'd like to think that these problems are temporary and that I'll enjoy the next one more.  I'm going to give it a try tomorrow.

Rating:  4 / 10

October 4, 2016

Mount TBR Reading Challenge Checkpoint #3

I've read 75 out of the 100 books needed to reach my new goal Mt. Everest.  That's 3/4 of the way done with my climb and we have just under 1/4 of the year left, so here's hoping I didn't bite off more than I could chew when I upgraded back in June!!

My favorite character is hard this year, but I think I'll give it to Bren from the Foreigner series, who stars in Intruder by C. J. Cherryh which I read last month.

Two opposite books came easily.  Gray Mountain by John Grisham has a great leading lady named Samantha Kofer, who fights against injustice in the mountains of Virginia, against her own better judgement.  Disclosure by Michael Crichton has a leading man, Tom Sanders, who must fight against society's beliefs and a corporation to keep his job and his life.

As I said last time around, The Daughter of Regals and Other Tales by Stephen R. Donaldson had been on my TBR since November 22, 2007!  My only excuse is that I'm just not a huge fan of short stories, but I wish I had gotten to this one sooner.  It was very good.

The two pictures I could find were these:

The first one came up when I searched for 'protector' (Protector by C. J. Cherryh) and the second one came up when I searched for 'darkness' (Darkness:  Two Decades of Modern Horror edited by Ellen Datlow).

It's been a great climb and a great year so far!  Even if I don't quite make it to the peak of Mt. Everest, I'm still so proud of myself and am very happy with my reading this year.

Start of October Wrap-Up

This wrap-up runs from September 5 through today.  I've completed three new challenges this time around -- Color Coded Reading Challenge, Reading Challenge Addict AND Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge!!  I am so very happy I finished the Outdo Yourself challenge so early in the year.

It's hard to choose my favorite book this time around.  I really loved two:

And, they are both by the same author.....and both so really good!  I'm not choosing either one.  I choose both.  They are awesome in their own ways.

No new states this time around, but I've been reading quite a bit of Science Fiction so I'm not surprised.  I just got the first three novels of the Foreigner series yesterday.  It's been a great year!
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