2016 Reading Challenge: The Strain

Guys, I’ve held off with my reading challenge update because it’s going to come down to the wire! I know no one really cares if I complete it or not, but I came up with it. I want to finish! So I won’t tell you how close I am just yet.

My latest read was The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The story is eerily similar to that of I Am Legend. A virus tears across NYC and causes people to morph into vampires. Only in this story they are all controlled and connected to one another via The Master. A vampire hundreds of years old who can move from one host body to another whenever the need arises. An old pawnbroker, two epidemiologists, an exterminator, and a not-so-hardened criminal lead the fight against the vampire outbreak. But their most difficult opponent may very well be a wealthy businessman who has assisted The Master in exchange for eternal life.

First, I’m a big fan of the TV show based on this trilogy of books. So I did not go into this blind like I imagine readers before me did. But I still had some problems with it. The difference between this book and the other two vampire novels I’ve read (Dracula and I Am Legend) is that it goes from unbelievable to acceptance very quickly. The basis of the spread of the virus is a plane that arrives in NYC full of dead people. All but four people on board appear dead, except they’ve only been turned and not actually killed for good. It was only a night or two after this that the main characters of the story accepted that vampires were overrunning the city.

While reading this book I never felt invested in any of the characters. Which is saying something because it took me nearly 11 hours to finish! I didn’t like how chapters jumped from one perspective to another without any warning. I usually don’t mind if it’s done in different chapters rather than the same one. There was at least one 75 page chapter that I found ridiculous. 75 pages!

You’re reading this thinking I hated the book. I didn’t. I enjoyed it. The vampires are different from just about any I’ve ever imagined, which I already knew from the TV show. They had to be my favorite part of the book. Their brutality and gruesomeness is awesome, but so is the manner in which they’re killed. You have this old guy who walks around with a cane that isn’t really a cane. It’s a sword he uses to decapitate the vampires. He has an armory of weapons and devices he’s put together over the years as he waited for the war to begin.

I applaud the authors for their modern take on the vampire, but it did feel more like a copy than an original. The Count is still the greatest evil I’ve ever read in any book and Robert Neville fought the good fight ON HIS OWN. Those two books are simply on a different level from this one. This book wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. Maybe the other two books in the trilogy will be improvements. Overall I’d rate it about a 3.8 or 3.9 out of 5.

This book satisfied the requirement to read a book that’s your favorite color of my 2016 reading challenge.

What’s your favorite vampire novel!?

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2016 Reading Challenge Book #6: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

*Contains spoilers*

I also read this book weeks ago and failed to write a post or make a video about it.

I’m sure you know the basic premise of the story by now. The book is decades old. There’s an outbreak of a virus that turns people into what appear to be vampires. Dr. Robert Neville essentially makes it his life’s work to find a cure.

First, the book is NOT like the movie starring Will Smith. The stories are actually quite different and should be evaluated on their own individual merits.

The movie has a relatively happy ending. Dr. Neville sacrifices himself for the cure he finally finds. The book does not. There is no cure. Dr. Neville is taken from his home after he refuses to leave everything behind when a mysterious woman warns him of what’s to come. Then it becomes apparent that he’s now become an outsider to this new group of people. He’s different because he’s not infected. And he must be killed.

The book is exceptional. There’s no other way to say it. And it’s short, so you don’t have dozens of pages of filler. The writing is superb and Dr. Neville is a character you can easily relate to. Each night the loneliness he feels is nearly unbearable.

When I finished the book I immediately thought of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He gave birth to the modern vampire. And his classic is nothing short of a masterpiece. But I Am Legend is nearly as brilliant.

I haven’t read too many vampire stories, but I imagine the two I’ve mentioned today are many steps above just about everything else out there.

Have you read either of these classic vampire tales?

This book satisfied the requirement from my reading challenge to read a book with a movie tie-in cover.

Top Five Wednesday: Books Outside my Comfort Zone

Today’s Top Five Wednesday topic is the best books I’ve read outside my comfort zone, which is definitely mystery. I probably had 6-7 books in mind when I came up with my list, but I ultimately stuck with the required five books. I’ve actually talked about all five books at some point either on here or in previous videos, so there really should be no surprise  this time around.

Now watch: It’s quick!

What are the best books you’ve read that fell outside your literary comfort zone?

Writing in School

I’m talking about everything that comes before college. How much are students actually required to write? I remember in second grade having to write some kind of essay or paper in class. I think we were being taught something about the format. Similar assignments were given during the rest of elementary school. The writing was always done in class.

But I’m sitting here thinking about my middle school years and I can’t remember writing anything substantial during that three year span. And then in high school we generally wrote one major paper a year and spent months on it. I wrote about Dracula once, violence in video games, and two topics that I can’t seem to recall at the moment. All of that is to say that I was not forced to write hardly at all until I stepped foot on a college campus. And I think this could be a contributing factor when it comes to people saying writing is a dying art. Imagine if millions of students across the country have similar experiences. And then they enroll in a degree program that is not writing-intensive. Mine was, but my degree plan had a grand total of two math classes. College algebra and Stats. I’d prefer a class that required 15 essays in 15 weeks over stats every day of the week. But I imagine there are MANY programs that are just the opposite and have very little writing.

All I’m saying is that perhaps it isn’t the media or non-writers who are tossing around this myth that writing is a dying art, maybe it’s the entire education system that’s pushing this idea along. I don’t know. How much were you required to write in school?


On this day in 2014 I published Listen to Audiobooks?.

 

My First Half Price Books Book Haul

I told you guys yesterday about how impressed I was during my first experience at Half Price Books, and I promised to show y’all which books I came away with. It looks like I make good on my promises. Sometimes. Ha. Anyway, I’m just going to show you the books now. Normally when I glance over book haul posts I see long lists of covers and descriptions of the books included. I’m not going to do that because those are almost always ultra popular YA titles that everyone knows about. I’m pretty sure you’ve never even heard of half my books, so no point in me acting like everyone will know them. To the books!

20150716_111655I know you can see the titles just fine, but I’ll tell you the book titles anyway.

Mary Mary (Alex Cross #11) by James Patterson

The Strain (The Strain #1) by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan

LA Requiem (Elvis Cole #8) by Robert Crais

Fahrenheit 451 by Rad Bradbury

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I have two interesting points about these books before I leave you alone for the rest of the day. First, I’ll be making videos for three of these titles. And second, three of the books are actually new! I bet you can’t even tell which ones aren’t. Remember what I said about the books available at Half Price Books?

Have you read any of these books? Tell me about the books you’ve added to your collection recently.


 

On this day in 2014 I published Writer’s Privilege is a Real Thing.

What’s the Best Book you were Forced to Read?

dracula-book-cover

I’m talking about assigned school reading here. Schools down here in Texas mostly assign classics in the classroom, which isn’t bad, but I’d like to see some more variety. I’ve heard of teachers assigning The Hunger Games for class. Like…where the heck was that teacher when I was in school?! I know John Green’s books are assigned. And several others. But my experience in the classroom was with books that were written decades before I was born, and sometimes centuries before.

Let me just make a random list of books I remember reading in school. This isn’t necessarily going to be in any order or by genre or anything. Romeo and Juliet. Does that even count? The OdysseyDraculaJurassic Park12 Angry Men. Was that originally a book? The Great GatsbyBeowulf. I’m just naming whatever I can think of. I’m sleepy. I Have Lived a Thousand Years. Of Mice and Men. That’s all I can come up with. I just sat here rolling my head on my desk in an effort to stay awake. I don’t think that list really fits with my previous assertion that I read a lot of classics in school. Oh well.

I know there are a million more books I was assigned during my time in school, but I only listed out those books for your benefit. I know which book was the best. Dracula. I’ve written about that book several times on here, because it’s quite honestly the only assigned reading book that’s stuck with me. I don’t hardly remember any part of any other book I was forced to read in school. But I remember the Count. I remember Mina. And Lucy. And Harker. Van Helsing. The gypsies. Shapeshifting. The pure evil of it all. And no, I didn’t take a look at the Wikipedia page for the book. I don’t have to. I even know the year it was published by memory. 1897.

I know I liked The Great Gatsby, but I couldn’t tell you hardly anything about the story itself. Oh! We read The Giver in 8th grade. No idea what it was about. I know Jurassic Park pretty well, but that’s a good book while Dracula is iconic. The others…eh.

Now you know the best book I was forced to read in school, what’s yours?

Questions 31-40 About Books and Reading

By now you should know that I’ve spent this week answering questions about books and reading. If not, that’s okay. You’re just out of the loop. You can change that by clicking here to navigate to the first post from Monday. And then Tuesday. And Wednesday. That will get you up to date and all caught up for today’s questions.

31. How do you feel about giving negative reviews?

Well anyone who reads my blog knows that I don’t write book reviews. Read this for my reasons why. But for the sake of this question let’s pretend that my entire blog is book reviews. I get ARCs from authors and publishers and whomever. I’m writing several reviews a week. If this were the case, I would have no reservations about writing a negative review. It really irks me to see all these blogs reviewing books every week and seeing that they won’t go below a four star review for any book. What is the reasoning for this? No really, tell me why you do this because you know you do. It’s stupid. And makes it seem like you give EVERYTHING a positive review even though you and I and everyone else knows that you can’t possibly like every book you read that much. So if you don’t post negative reviews, then I’d like to know why. Cause you’re not helping anyone.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which would it be?

Spanish. Because I already can read a little bit. And because if I could read it, then I could speak it, and I think Spanish is the sexiest language ever. Unless you’re speaking so fast that my mind is blowing up. Seriously, talk to me in Spanish while maybe wearing cowboy boots and perhaps a cowboy hat AND yeah, I’ll probably faint. And dream about your perfection.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read

I’m not intimidated by any books. Quick story, I remember my junior year of high school some kid who was a year behind me but in my Algebra II class made a comment about my not being able to understand whatever book he was reading in his English class. Maybe it was A Tale of Two Cities? Not sure, but I think it’s hilarious now. Some little shit who I can literally throw across the room with no effort at all saying something like that to me. We’ll forget the fact that I’d never even stepped foot inside a gym back then. And we’ll also forget that I finished my undergrad with honors in three years. But I can’t comprehend some book? This would be where I’d normally rattle off a few cuss words, but I won’t. Little prick.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin

Refer to previous question.

35. Favorite poet

I don’t have a favorite poet who you all would know. But I do have a favorite from here on WordPress. I’m not going to link to her blog because she doesn’t post her poems on here too often, but I’ve gotten to read more than what she has on here and I love every single one. Her name’s Mahrukh. Shhhhh I didn’t tell her I was writing this.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out from the library at one time?

Interesting. I’ve already made it clear that I don’t use the library at all. Zero.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

I have no idea. Now stop asking about the library. Fair warning.

38. Favorite fictional character

I KNOW you all know the answer to this without reading my response. The Girl on Fire. Katniss Everdeen. I could go on and on about her day after day and week after week, but I won’t. She’s independent. Resourceful. Strong. She’s simply more than just a character in some book. And a million thousand other things that you can come up with because I will literally write thousands of words all about her if given the chance. So, moving on.

39. Favorite fictional villain

Ooooooh. I was sitting here trying to decide between Voldemort and President Snow. But then I realized that there’s someone who epitomizes the title of villain. Can you think of him? 19th century. One of the most widely recognized names in all of literature. Dracula. I really hope that you’ve read Bram Stoker’s classic by now. Especially if you read about vampires today. No. I don’t care what you’ve read written in recent years, Dracula is the vampire you want to read about. Period. That book is the first that comes to mind if I think of good vs. evil. And it’s one of the few stories that I will never forget. And it’s because of the impact that a single individual has on so many. Favorite villain, the Count. No doubt about it.

40. Books you’re most likely to bring on holiday

I’m not sure what this means. Like summer break? Or vacation? I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t take my books anywhere. They stay home. On the shelves. I’m not that reader who has to be reading something at all times. Eh. Those people annoy me.

So there you have today’s questions. And I must say that these may have been my favorite to answer so far. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a crazy who needs help? Let me know. I’ll answer the final 15 questions tomorrow. Be on the lookout!