Saturday, June 29, 2013

What's Up With Sam? #1: Sci-Fi Classics Reinvented

So this is something new that I am trying. I frequently run across things that intrigue or catch my attention and I'd like to start sharing these things with my blog readers. Some of the things included in future posts could be news tidbits I found interesting, articles I stumble across, a song, a movie trailer....anything that sparks interest to me and I feel the need to share with others. The bolded, different colored titles are links, so feel free to click on those and take a peek!

Wondering what's up with Sam this week?
Well for starters....this:

10 never-Published Michael Crichton Titles to be Released as e-books
This got me a bit excited. I don't buy many e-books. The e-books I have on my Nook are all author gifts. I've never bought a single e-book. Yet I have an e-reader. Something about regular print books excites me more than the idea of digital pages, but when you travel, its no longer logical for me to carry 3-4 paperbacks when I can carry 10 e-books plus Wi-Fi accessible internet browsing.
I am a big reader of Crichton's works and I already knew about his past pen names. I have spent the past year looking for his older novels published under these names when I go to the library or a used bookstore. Among these pseudonyms are John Lange, Jeffery Hudson, and Michael Douglas. Last year or the year before, I was lucky enough to run across one of these novels. I was out of town, in Dallas, TX and had gone to one of the many Half-Price Bookstores in the DFW metroplex. I found a book, which I have since reviewed on this blog, called Grave Descend which was written under the name of John Lange. I knew it was his due to prior research I had done. It wasn't a technothriller, it was a fictional crime book and was still just as entertaining. Very small, quick read, but fun none the less. I'm still searching for his other pseudonym novels (minus A Case of Need, having already read it as my first book for this year in January). Its good to know that those books have not been forgotten and will be available, even if it is in e-book format. I'm still gonna search for them as print copies, but it's still relieving to know.  This article was released at the end of May, so its still fairly recent. I'd like to know which 10 they are talking about. A nice list would've been very helpful.


Back To Back To The Future Comic Book
Those of you who have been reading my blogs since the beginning might recall my Summer Movie Nights posts from last summer. If not and if that seems interesting, you can head on over to the tab at the top jsut under the blog title and click the one that says movies. That will lead you to a complete list of movies I've reviewed in alphabetical order with the titles being links to the review.  For those who may not remember, I reviewed the 80s classic Back to the Future. All 3. Now when I watched them, I got them from the library and happened to have them as the special 25th(?) anniversary edition, jam-packed with special features and behind-the-scenes stuff. Very cool to watch. I recall hearing that some guy named Eric Stoltz was going to originally play Marty McFly, but was replaced by Michael J. Fox (rightly so as I find that done with anyone else, Back to the Future would not be as fully awesome as it is....in my opinion). But somebody else thought otherwise and made a move. They made a comic book, in 6 issues, that keeps Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty. Might be pretty interesting to check out at some point if you're into that series and are curious how it might've been otherwise. David Guy Levi is his name and his game (comic book, please excuse my Dr. Seuss rhyming habit) is entitled: Back to Back to the Future. Unfortunately I was unable to download the first issue onto my Nook and had to settle for putting it onto the computer. Its only 23 pages, nice and quick.

William Shakespeare Meets Star Wars Book Trailer
Yes, dear reader, you read the title correctly. I am so very ridiculously intrigued by this. Basically, this is the product when someone decides that Star Wars should meet and breed with the skills of long dead playwright William Shakespeare. I am no stranger to the work of Shakespeare (being a college student planning to major in English & American Literature and having taken English in public school as required). Neither am I a stranger to the Star Wars universe, having seen all 6 movies and having read or planning to read several Star Wars books. I've also played Lego Star Wars for my DS as well as a Jedi Starfighter game on my PS2. In my opinion.....this idea is EPIC and I want in. I hardly ever pay attention to newly released novels, but this one I can't seem to resist. As time allows me I will definitely find a way to get this into my hands. Be it from the library eventually, bought by me with money I don't have (highly unlikely), or maybe a nice present I may soon receive for my birthday in 2 months from my parents...I know you're reading this mom. ;)  I think this book is definitely something to look into. Sounds too entertainingly marvelous to pass up.
William Shakespeare's Star Wars Excerpt ....Reading this excerpt just made me more excited. So much so I had to read the words softly out loud to myself as I quickly filled with giddish glee.

I only just stumbled upon Entertainment Weekly's site today while looking for stuff on Michael Crichton. Ended up finding so many interesting things to share. I think this will do for now, later I will return with yet another post with other things to show you as an example of some of the stuff that peaks my interest. Of everything I read, that Star Wars + William Shakespeare has to be the greatest. I'm real excited about that. Just when I thought that creativity in our society was starting to die, someone in the publishing business pops up and totally redeems themselves. I'm psyched.

What's Next for Sam?
At present I am reading a book by the name of Iron Man: Virus by Alex Irvine. I have to finish it by tuesday, July 2. So hopefully I can get up a review for that soon. The last book I finished was Planet of the Apes and I recently watched the older movies, for be prepared for that to come your way. Once I finish with those 2 things, I can get back to the other book I was reading A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz. This is a memoir about a dog that he owned who changed his life and his outlook on it overall. Very good so far, its the first animal memoir....really the only MEMOIR, I've ever read and I'm really liking it. That's what you can look forward to in the weeks ahead.

Thanks for reading!!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cinematic Words Review: Jaws

Hello! This is my first post on a book/movie in a long time...and I'm doing something different. I'm sure you already noticed the change in title for the review. I've read a lot of books that have been turned into movies and books that are based off of movies. In order to provide you with the best possible review, I bring you the best of both worlds. Cinematic Words is the new title for reviews I do that discuss both a book and its movie counterpart.

Today, for the very first Cinematic Words review, I thought I should talk about one of the greatest movies ever made, that many don't know was a book first. It is a classic movie, whose book counterpart was based on real events. The film also features one of the best and most recognized scores in movie history.

Jersey Shore, 1916.... July 1-12. 4 people dead, 1 person injured. 5 attacks, 1 survivor

February 1974---a book based on these events is published, being the author's first novel

June 20, 1975----a movie adaptation of the novel is released and sweeps the nation, becoming one of the highest grossing movies ever, to this day it holds the 126th place for highest grossing movie. Also made audiences afraid to go back in the water.

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For those who have never heard of the 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks and have no idea what I'm rambling on about, the subject for this review is Jaws by Peter Benchley.  Jaws is one of the most popular movies ever made, and yes, it was also a book. Steven Spielberg and John Williams worked together on the Jaws movie, which backs up the notion that it is an incredible movie that is a MUST SEE. Steven Spielberg has worked on some of the best movies known to mankind, which include, but aren't limited to: Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, and The Terminal. Many of which included John Williams, a well known composer who has also worked on numerous great films (and who is my personal favorite composer of all time). John Williams has done scores for: Jurassic Park, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones, Jaws, Harry Potter, Home Alone and Star Wars.

Peter Benchley wrote a pretty decent amount of books. He has some fiction and non-fiction, of which I only know the fiction. Jaws was his first and is the only novel I've read of his so far. I've also picked up two others which I plan to read in the future, Creature (previously published as White Shark) and Beast




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JAWS
by: Peter Benchley
   Book: 3/5                    Movie: 5/5


Jaws is the story of Amity, a small island town off the coast of Massachusetts. Amity is a summer town. The main chunk of revenue they get is from the summer months, when the vacationers come and settle into their summer homes and take trips to the beach. This is where the heart of the conflict lies. The cover shows a shark and the main draw of the movie and book alike, is the shark. Don't be deceived. This is the first difference between the book and the movie (I will try not to give away many of them, so you all have some to find on your own and so I don't give spoilers to any who have yet to experience them). The movie is, pretty obviously, more shark centered. The book on the other hand is all about Amity. We hear the story of Amity's hardship through the supporting characters that police chief Brody interacts with. Many of the decisions that lead to any conflict are made for the benefit of the town's prosperity. Amity is threatened by a shark that is looming in the water, scarily close to their beaches.

In the opening scenes of both, this shark makes its presence known.

JawsJaws the novel is a morsel, to put it shortly. It is not a long read and there is not a whole lot of depth to it. The book centers around the life of police chief Brody, from his ordeals with the townspeople over his decisions, to his struggling relationship with his wife (also overlooked in the movie). The book has more domestic drama than shark action. This is where I start to like the movie more.
In the movie, the shark is not shown often, but it's presence looms over Amity like a shadow of death. In the book you hardly even know whats going on in the water until Brody gets word of things or goes out there towards the end. If a book has a shark on the cover, I'm gonna want plenty of shark. I really think that the cover of this book should've been Amity with a small shark placed with its mouth open by the beach water, with Amity being the bigger part. This would give you the idea that its about more than just the shark, its about how it affects the business of an island and the livelihood of its citizens instead of making you think you're going to get lots of blood in the water from serrated edge teeth. The movie is full of action that just keeps going until the very end.

Spielberg and Benchley, when working on the movie, reached a conflict when it came to making the end scenes. Benchley's book ended one way and Spielberg wanted something bigger. Spielberg won out and left his own personal touch. I will not give it away, just know that if you've had experience with one, don't expect it to be just like the other, because its not going to happen. I watched the movie before reading the book and went in expecting one thing, and getting another. Its taken me a while to digest it and see what its really about. I've had to put in a lot of thought to how I experienced both, considering all the expectations I had. This is just a friendly warning to wipe out your knowledge of which version you've read or watched before checking out the other and go in with a pretty clean slate.

The book is good, lots of character development and development of character relationships. There is not just one character that is great and the others are flops tossed in just because. Each character has its own place of fit and its own background.

The movie cut a lot of this but added in other parts I found better. Spielberg, upon reading the novel, enjoyed the shark hunt at the end to be the most enjoyable and wished to cut a lot of the subplots in the original. Peter Benchley wrote the draft screenplay. It was in these stages that the movie took on a life of its own. The relationship issues between Chief Brody and his wife were taken out and more shark was put in. The movie has many merits to it, that the book lacked. There is a great scene where 3 of the main characters are on the Orca, hunting for the shark. One of them does a monologue that is just incredible. This was written  as a collaboration between two writers working on the film and the actor who played the character. It is an excellent and stunning piece that really brings him to life and shows you why he is the way he is.

Peter Benchley also makes a cameo appearance in the film, as a reporter on the beach. I always thought that was a neat touch. A little something extra that wouldn't be caught by a person who didn't know that it was a book first or didn't know who Peter Benchley was.

Also in the movie, one of the characters has been changed pretty dramatically from how he was in the book. I will not say who, just know that one character does a lot of things that, if you saw the movie first, you would not believe. The character development for him is very different from the book to the movie. I preferred him as he is in the movie. To me he is more likable there.

Jaws is also one of those movies that people love to quote. So here's a little fun fact on one almost everyone has probably heard (I heard it before I ever saw the actual movie). Roy Scheider, who plays Chief Brody, ad libbed the line "We're going to need a bigger boat." It wasn't in the script and it isn't in the book either. I was hoping it was, because its a great one liner that really adds tension and urgency. Its one of my favorite lines, but its only in the movie.
  
Overall, I have to say that I prefer the movie to the book. The movie plays more to what I enjoy. I came for a shark, and the movie gave me all the shark I needed. The book was very entertaining to read and I'm glad I read it, but again, its more about the town of Amity and its overall prosperity. Reading the book and watching the movie is like seeing the same events through different viewpoints. The book would show you all the underlying tensions that don't occur in the movie.

There are several sequels to this movie. 3, to be exact. None of which I have been able to see yet. As I find those, I will watch them and provide reviews. Peter Benchley never wrote a sequel, however, a  Jaws 2 novel was published in 1978, based on a screenplay for the movie of the same title. It was written by Hank Searls. I have had the good fortune to find copies of both the first and second novels, and hopefully sometime in the future I can deliver a review to the sequel novelization.  

This concludes my first Cinematic Words review, hopefully you enjoyed it and will keep coming back as I put up more content. I eagerly await our next encounter.

Thank you for reading!
Samantha K

Change of Plans

Ok. I'm going to apologize again, because this is perhaps the millionth time I've changed my mind on what I'm going to do. Just forget what I said last post. I've rethought this whole plan of mine to put the reviews on Goodreads and then link them here.....I'm flipping it. So from now on, I'm gonna have teasers on my Goodreads for any of y'all who know me on there, and the main reviews are going to be here on my blog. It's just so much easier that way. It's summer so I should have more time to get posts to you all and actually show that this blog is alive and kicking. Even after almost of full year of doing close to nothing. College has taken up a lot of time, but I have my hands and mind free to put into this little side project hobby of mine.

I'm going to try to bring in a lot more variety and depth into the reviews. Hopefully y'all enjoy it and keep coming back for more. Also, it'd be awesome if I could get more feedback from readers, giving suggestions, mentioning anything you think I'm doing right and should continue with. That'd be great, so if you can, just take 5 minutes and give it to me straight. Nothing lengthy necessary, just a quick note. 

I don't know if y'all would like me to keep doing movies as well, or if I should just stick to reviewing books. I have an idea for something new I'd like to try out and we'll see how that goes. I've also realized that I've not done reviews for some of my absolute favorite books, which blew my mind and made me feel absolutely horrible. What kind of reviewer am I if I don't even say something noteworthy about my favorites?

Hopefully I'll have somehting new for y'all within a week or two. Here's to a new summer and some fresh reviews!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Reviews and Summer Reading

This summer has been rather eventful. About 2 or so weeks ago I returned from our family vacation to San Antonio. I shall only say it was fabulously awesome. Since coming back, I have been to the local library and signed up for the first ever Adult Summer Reading Program. I don't know how great it'll work out considering this is the first year they've done it and it seems to be a trial run with quite a few errors here and there. We shall see how it turns out. Regardless of that, I have stocked up on books for summer reading. Most of my reviews have been on Goodreads and I don't have very much time to keep writing posts that are actually in depth reviews or anything. But I seem to have quite the number of readers and I know a couple who have greatly enjoyed the posts that I have done. So I have decided to review and talk about only those that I find exceptional on here. I will, however, try to post up occassional new blog entries where I will provide links to my other reviews on Goodreads. I hope this will go over well and I believe it is better than having a blog that sits around in cyberspace and is inactively used. I will remedy this to my best abilities. Hopefully you continue to enjoy my reviews or whatever tangents I happen to go on from this point on.

Here are links to the books I've read most recently:
Star Wars Death Troopers Review
Footprints of Thunder Review
Thunder of Time Review
Snog: A Puppy's Guide to Love

Star Wars Death Troopers is a book by Joe Schrieber and is perfect for fans of horror with stomachs that can stand grotesque images painted by words that leave chills running up your spine....due to zombies.....in space. No prior knowledge of the Star Wars universe necessary.

Footprints of Thunder is the first book in a currently 3-book series by James F. David. It involves dinosaurs and disruption in the fabric of time. Most say it is Jurassic Park meets Twilight Zone, but I would say its less technological than Crichton's Jurassic Park in that humans do not create the dinosaurs in a lab. They appear once more on Earth and roam free. It is full of suspense and action and I would definitely recommend it to fans of Sci-Fi, particularly of things involving time or dinosaurs since those are the main things dealt with.

Thunder of Time occurs 10 years after Footprints of Thunder. It is the second book in the series and is packed with even more action and bewilderment than the first book. The first book set everything up and the second answers even more questions that readers may have. There are a few characters from the first book that make reappearances and are developed on a lot more than they were before. I enjoyed seeing the character developmetn and how each has changed over the time of both books and the time in between them.

Snog: A Puppy's Guide to Love is a book that is simply short quotes and lots of puppy photographs. Compared to the other 3 books above, this one is short, light hearted, and....adorable. Nothing to balance out zombies like a bunch of little puppies. The breeds are a great range, most appearing purebred and labeled mix when necessary. Each photograph has the puppy's name next to it as well as their breed. Terriers and boxers and labradors and hounds....so many different puppies of all sizes and colors. Good photography.

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I've also picked up a great number of books over the last few months, so hopefully as I continue reading I can bring you more and more reviews and find interesting things to share. I hope you enjoy these reviews and will continue to read my posts and can stick with me despite such long inactivity.

Thank you!!!