August 29, 2017

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

Paperbacks from Hell I enjoyed Grady Hendrix's HORRORSTÖR, a haunted-house story with a touch of satire. I am totally unsurprised that Hendrix is a fan of cheesy 70's and 80's horror paperbacks.

I remember checking those books out from the library as a kid, fascinated by the covers.

PAPERBACKS FROM HELL looks like a fun, informative read, and I can't wait to pick up a copy when it comes out on September 19th.

Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles. You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: KidLit Cares and Disaster Relief for Libraries

Hurricane Harvey hit much harder than expected. South Texas, especially Rockport, has experience untold damage and Houston is still flooding.

I've sheltered in place and am still holding strong with plenty of food and water and no power outages, but many others haven't been as lucky.

Kate Messner is assembling another KidLit Cares auction, as she did after Superstorm Sandy. She's gathered auction items and will soon have them all listed on the linked page. The auction should run about a week, and proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross. Everyone who donates $10 to the American Red Cross will be entered into a giveaway.

In addition, the Texas Library Association has posted how you can help libraries in affected areas. You can buy coloring books or donate directly to the TLA's Disaster Relief Fund.

Thank you for helping those in need!

August 7, 2017

Movie Monday: The Dark Tower

One of my favorite book series is Stephen King's The Dark Tower. It isn't a perfect series. There are innumerable continuity errors and the last three books were clearly rushed. But they're weird in the most wonderful way, and I love every one of the main characters: Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, (and Oy).

Thus, the movie adaptation of The Dark Tower had a lot to live up to. It had great source material, a built-in excuse for why things weren't the same as the book, and excellent casting.

Reviews had me worried and lowered my expectations. I think that might've helped the movie. It is a nice breezy length, explaining the basics and getting down to business. In this turn of the wheel, Jake (Tom Taylor) is a troubled young man in modern New York who dreams of kids being used to power a machine attacking the Dark Tower. He follows the clues in his dreams to find a gate to Mid-World, where he finds the gunslinger Roland (Idris Elba). Roland is the man he needs to fight the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey); however, Roland is more interested in revenge than protecting the Dark Tower.

McConaughey is a delight as the menacing Man in Black and I thought he captured the spirit of the character well. I think Elba is brilliant casting for Roland, but he felt somewhat lacking in the intensity needed. At the same time, he is playing a less obsessive (in some ways) version of Roland. Taylor holds his own against them quite well and honestly impressed me. Jake's character changes the most, but I was sold on this kid as haunted and driven. I only wish we'd gotten more of him learning to be a gunslinger, especially as he ends up a 'damsel' in distress several times.

The Dark Tower is a fun fantasy movie with a few cool action scenes and a touching father-son relationship that develops through the course of the film. The movie misses some obvious chances for references to the book, but manages to weave in events from the first three books as well as a wealth of Easter Eggs. It's not everything I hoped and dreamed for, but neither is it a disaster. It's a start. If they do continue it with a TV series, I can't wait to see Eddie and Susannah and I hope this Roland and Jake return.


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