Wednesday, August 24, 2016

AUGUST LINK LOVE: Currently Reading


Welcome to August Link Love!

During the month of August, we want you to share your thoughts on our weekly topics.  Each week, we will provide you the topic, then you share in the link up provided.  And, don't forget to visit all the other links as well.  Without further ado . . .

CURRENTLY READING

What are you currently reading?  What inspired you to read the current story?

For the full schedule of August Link Love, check out the announcement post here.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

AUGUST LINK LOVE: Back to School


Welcome to August Link Love!

During the month of August, we want you to share your thoughts on our weekly topics.  Each week, we will provide you the topic, then you share in the link up provided.  And, don't forget to visit all the other links as well.  Without further ado . . .

BACK TO SCHOOL

It's that time of year for kids to start heading back to school, which also means the end of the summer.  This week, let's either look back or fast forward . . . talk about our favorite summer reads combined with our favorite summer moments or talk about the book you are most excited to read now that school is back in session. 

For the full schedule of August Link Love, check out the announcement post here.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

AUGUST LINK LOVE: Bookish Haunts


Welcome to August Link Love!

During the month of August, we want you to share your thoughts on our weekly topics.  Each week, we will provide you the topic, then you share in the link up provided.  And, don't forget to visit all the other links as well.  Without further ado . . .

BOOKISH HAUNTS

Where are some of your favorite places to get your books?  Do you frequent a local library or bookstore?  Or, would you rather focus on the word "haunts" and share the books that haunt you today?  Get creative with this one!

For the full schedule of August Link Love, check out the announcement post here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

AUGUST LINK LOVE: For the Love of Harry Potter!


Welcome to our first round of August Link Love!

During the month of August, we want you to share your thoughts on our weekly topics.  Each week, we will provide you the topic, then you share in the link up provided.  And, don't forget to visit all the other links as well.  Without further ado . . .

FOR THE LOVE OF HARRY POTTER

With the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, what better time to share our thoughts on the new release or commiserate about the books that changed the muggle world! Or, maybe we just want to rave about our favorite characters. It's completely up to you!

For the full schedule of August Link Love, check out the announcement post here.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Introducing August Link Love!!


Here at Book Bloggers International, we have decided to try something a little different during the month.  Typically, we have guests share their thoughts on a specific topic right here on the blog.  However, during the month of August, we are wanting all of you readers to share your own links on a variety of topics.  Every Wednesday, a link-up will be posted here, and throughout the week, we want you to share a link of your very own interpretation AND visit all those who share as well.  Afterall, the purpose behind the blog is to encourage blogger chatter, and what better way than to visit and explore old and new blogs!

Mark your calendars now with the schedule below, and be sure to stop by each week to participate in a little August Link Love!  All book bloggers in all forms are encouraged, including book bloggers in the traditional sense, as well as booktubers and bookstagrammers.

August 3:  Harry Potter
With the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, what better time to share our thoughts on the new release or commiserate about the books that changed the muggle world!  Or, maybe we just want to rave about our favorite characters.  It's completely up to you!

August 10:  Bookish Haunts
Where are some of your favorite places to get your books?  Do you frequent a local library or bookstore?  Or, would you rather focus on the word "haunts" and share the books that haunt you today?  Get creative with this one!

August 17:  Back to School
It's that time of year for kids to start heading back to school, which also means the end of the summer.  This week, let's either look back or fast forward . . . talk about our favorite summer reads combined with our favorite summer moments or talk about the book you are most excited to read now that school is back in session.

August 24:  Currently Reading
What are you currently reading?  What inspired you to read the current story?

August 31:  Reading Treats
One of my favorite times of year for reading is the fall because of the cooler, crisper temperatures.  Accompanying the great conditions for reading is also the great opportunity for fun food and treats.  Let's close up the month of August Link Love with a pairing of your favorite reads and foods OR share a favorite recipe OR talk about our favorite cookbooks.  There are just so many possibilities!

Are you excited?  Which of the topics excites you the most?

Friday, July 29, 2016

BOOKS VS ???: Books to Pair With Your Favorite Beverage (And I'm Not Talking About Milk)


Today is our final piece of the month for Books vs ???, and I am excited to welcome my team member and fellow co-founder of Book Bloggers International, Tasha!  She is here to talk about books and booze, and it is perfect timing since she just released her book, The Introvert's Guide to Drinking Alone!  

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If you enjoy the occasional adult beverage, and you enjoy reading, why not combine the two and get twice the fun out of life? These are some of the best books with, about, or sponsored by alcohol I've come across.

the drops of god
The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi

Pairing: A Burgundy wine.

A manga about wine? Yes. This graphic novel about a young man who must find thirteen famous wines in order to inherit his father's estate has absolutely gorgeous artwork, lovable characters–I adore Shizuku and Miyabi, his friend who's training to be a sommelier–and storylines that feel like a rollercoaster ride, in a good way. But what's really going to make you love this manga is how beautifully it expresses the feeling of drinking wine.

There are some books that just grab you and make you want to recreate them in real life, and The Drops of God is one of those books. It's no wonder Decanter called this series the most influential books about wine published in the last 20 years. As soon as you read it you want try the wines the characters drink, or at least something similar (you will also want to buy a wine decanter. I'm just warning you right now).

the brewer's tale
The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer by William Bostwick

Pairing: Stella Artois, one of the oldest still-brewed beers in the world.

It's been said civilization started so that people could have a reliable source of beer. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's definitely true that beer and civilization go hand-in-hand. Our earliest known recipes are for beer, and beer has been brewed at one time or another in nearly every continent on earth. In this book, William Bostwick goes back in time, not just by learning about the history of beer, but by making it. A really fun and fascinating story that travels from the hop-erific craft IPAs of today back to Babylonian brewmasters.

waking the merrow
Waking the Merrow by Heather Rigney

Pairing: Good ol' whiskey on the rocks.

A spooky horror novel featuring mermaids, with a self-professed "functional alcoholic" as the main character. I was disappointed by the ending (spoiler alert: she quits alcohol), but the beginning was very entertaining and funny.

the thin man
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Pairing: Martinis, many many martinis.

You've probably seen this movie and noted there's a lot of drinking going on. Well, let me tell you: the amount of drinking in the movie is nothing compared to what's in the book. It's mind-boggling these people could even get out of bed.

liquid intelligence
Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold

Pairing: Gin & tonic, preferably made following the obsessively "perfect" recipe in Arnold's book.

A very sciency, precise book on the art of making cocktails. Although the audience is definitely professional bartenders, it should appeal to anyone who loves a good drink. Arnold covers everything like how to mix cocktails, make ice, invent your own cocktails, and even molecular mixology.

shake em up
Shake 'Em Up! by Virginia Elliott and Phil D. Stong

Pairing: Something really old skool, like a scofflaw or a clover club.

How to party, 1930s style. This book is simply fascinating. It contains a ton of useful advice, like how to prep for a party you know will be too much for you, or how to get rid of your guests without appearing to be rude. Also: bathtub gin. This is a trip back in time to the golden age of cocktailing, but without the 21st Amendment putting a kibosh on your fun.





Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BOOKS VS ???: The Shining vs The Shining


Raise your hand if you are a Stephen King fan.  If that hand is raised, you will definitely want to join in the conversation today about one of King's most well-known books:  The Shining.  All of this is courtesy of Dinara Tengri.  

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Stephen King's The Shining is one of my favourite books. I have read it more times than I can remember. A Stephen King fangirl I am not. But this book has something that keeps me coming back to it time and again. And with each re-read I discover something I didn't notice before. Reading this book is like peeling layers off of an onion. A scary bloody onion.


What's interesting is that with each re-read I also become more convinced that Stanley Kubrick's take on The Shining is a very poor adaptation of a very good book.

My main complaint about the movie is not that Kubrick changed many key plot points of the book, or that he changed Wendy Torrance's hair colour from blond to black. My main issue with the movie is the characters. The people whose stories we are following. This is where King's book wins, while Kubrick's movie... Well, it gets a participation trophy.

In this rant essay, I am going to give my personal, one hundred percent subjective analysis of the characters in the book and compare them to their movie equivalents.

I should warn you beforehand, that at some point in this essay, I will get angry, and things will get messy. Let's go!


The book

The characters in The Shining are living breathing people. Throughout the book, they reveal themselves as the people they are - beautiful, flawed, plagued by their own insecurities and driven by their addictions and fears.

There is a reason for every one of these people's actions, either internal or external.

We relate to Wendy and Jack and Danny because we can see ourselves in them. In their vices and in their love for each other. Which makes Jack's gradual descent into madness all the more tragic. We get to witness him trying to fight the awesome force of the Overlook Hotel as it's slowly taking over his mind and his free will. And because we know him and can relate to him we don't want to loose him.

In the book, it's not Jack who is the monster, it's the Overlook. Far from being an archetypal haunted house, the Overlook becomes a character in its own right. It uses Jack as a disposable napkin, pitting his own alcoholism and his ego against him and his family, in its attempts to get to Danny and his psychic powers.

And while the Overlook is manipulating Jack like a macabre puppet master, Wendy and Danny choose to be active players in this game. They don't simply react to the situation that they have found themselves in. They don't stand by and watch helplessly while their husband and father is loosing his marbles. They don't let themselves be defined by their archetypes.

Just like the Overlook, alcohol is an omnipresent force in the Torrance family life, hanging above them like a storm cloud. Whether Jack is drunk or sober, his alcoholism is affecting every aspect of their lives. I think that in its core, The Shining is a book about alcoholism and domestic violence and how it can affect a family. The Overlook might as well be a bottle of whiskey. And Jack just isn't strong enough to fight it.

Even the supporting characters are strong and well-developed. King doesn't settle on surrounding the main characters with one-dimensional extras.


The Movie

The problem with the characters in the movie adaptation of The Shining is not the actors' portrayal of them, but the way Kubrick has changed them and the direction in which he's taking them.

These characters don't have a history that we as the audience get to explore. We don't know anything about them. How did they get to where they are now? What's motivating their actions?

The truth is, the characters' actions are motivated by the purpose that they serve in the movie. They each have a job to do, and that is to move the plot from point A to point B, without growing, without changing their own environment.

These characters exist in little boxes, and stay in them throughout the entire film. They don't evolve towards anything. You may say, what about Jack? Doesn't he evolve from the loving father to a homicidal monster? Well, no, not really. And King has put it perfectly in his interview with The Rolling Stone:

"In the book, there's an actual arc, where you see (Jack) trying to be good and little by little he moves over to this place where he's crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene."

In the book, the Overlook is the monster. In the movie, the monster is Jack. As the audience, we know that at some point he will snap and pick up that axe. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Gone is the unpredictability that makes the book so realistic. Jack's descent into madness is not tragic, it's simply inevitable.

And if in the book, alcohol becomes the major catalyst for Jack's insanity, in the movie it's just one of those details that make a better scene. The major themes of alcoholism and its consequences are downplayed to a point where they become insignificant to the plot.

As it is Jack's job in the movie to be crazy, it's Wendy's job is to react to her husband's growing insanity. King himself, in the same interview, has called the movie "misogynist", because,

 "I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag."

While I don't agree with King that Kubrick's movie is misogynist, Duvall's weeping and shivering version of Wendy is definitely a step down from the strong and determined woman we see in the book, who fearlessly protects her son from the forces of evil.

The supporting characters are one-dimensional and they only exist to serve a purpose. Where King takes time to give the supporting characters personality and a voice, Kubrick takes that all away and turns them into extras.



My final thoughts

What I take away from King's horror novel and its famous movie adaptation is that unlike King, Kubrick was not a storyteller. After reading the book, I know what kind of story King was trying to tell, but after seeing the movie so many times, I still struggle to understand what message Kubrick was trying to convey in his film.

While the characters in King's book are living breathing people, Kubrick's characters become a part of the setting, blending perfectly with the cold and gloomy atmosphere of the film. And where King injects humanity and warmth in his characters, Kubrick sucks the life out of them.

If the book is a character study, the movie appears to be a study of light and sound effects.

If the book is a story about people, then the movie is a story about ghosts.

And if I'm allowed a few more pretentious metaphors before I'm done with this rant:

King's The Shining is like a living organism, that's always changing and evolving. Kubrick's The Shining is like a gothic painting: beautiful and mesmerising but in the end lifeless and static.

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How about you? Do you agree? Disagree? What's your favourite vs. least favourite book to movie adaptation? My two personal favourites are The Martian and John Carpenter's The Thing.

And thank you Caro, Tif and Tasha for letting me vent some of my frustrations about The Shining on your awesome blog!

You can also read:

Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview, by Andy Greene

What Stanley Kubrick got wrong about "The Shining" , by Laura Miller