Tag Archives: read

Review: House Of Cards Book

 

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“All members of Cabinet are referred to as Right Honorable Gentlemen. There are only three things wrong with such a title…” – Michael Dobbs, House of Cards

I must admit, like most Americans, I hadn’t heard of Michael Dobbs or his award winning book series until Netflix released their take on the trilogy starring Kevin Spacey. When I first picked up the book and opened to the very first page, I was hooked. After seeing Netflix’s House Of Cards, I was pleasantly surprised to find it different. Much of the same characters are there but with a different twist.

Unlike the TV show, the book opens with Mattie (or Zoe to those familiar with the show) and not Francis. The story is set in the UK and deals with a Chief Whip in the British government. After not receiving the deal he’d been promised by the current Prime Minister, he decides to abandon all loyalty and punish those who’d betrayed him. He blackmails the weak, manipulates those around him, uses the media and even resorts to murder. His personality is snobbery mixed with charm and several pounds of cunning intelligence. By the end, two key characters are killed off and a Prime Minister replaced with Francis himself.

If you’re thinking this might be like the TV show, you’ll be either surprised or disappointed.

Key Differences

American Politics vs. British
The British government is a whole different breed an the American establishment. If you have no idea how the British government works, you won’t need to worry because this book won’t confuse. At first, I was bit a lost but after a few chapters I found my way. In the TV show, Frank is terribly liberal but with no ideology whereas Francis is a conservative with high expectations of reward.

Mattie vs. Zoe
In the show, I thought Zoe was a bit stupid and very vane. Mattie possesses more of a conscious and stronger morals. Zoe, other on the hand, is willing to do what it takes to get what she needs. For example, using her body to manipulate Frank.

Claire Underwood vs Elizabeth
In the show, I absolutely loved Claire. I very much missed her absence in the book. Francis is married to a woman with almost the same personality and conspiratorial evilness as Claire but she doesn’t take much part in the story. It isn’t until the second book that we see more of her.

Then vs. Now
When the book was published in the 1980’s, politics and technology was different. Things vastly changed when the web connected everyone and the middle east became more a threat. In the book, the Soviet Union is mentioned whereas in the show education is a key part.

I could go on with the list but I believe most of you can see how the story varies from the show. Which of course it would. One is British and written in the 1980’s and the second is American and filmed today. I have started reading the second book and will report on it soon.

Review: The Indispensable Heroes of Guards! GuardS

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When a book dedicates itself to fantasy’s expendable Red Shirt Army with the witticism of a P.G. Wodehouse novel, you know you hold a diamond. When I given Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! to read, I was a little weary to give it a try. The dull artwork of a strange looking dragon on its cover wasn’t eye catching. The summary on the back was about as appealing as a very moldy ham and egg sandwich. But, encouraged by my friend’s enthusiasm, I trudged on like a good soldier and opened the book.

Six words in, I knew I was infected.

Guards! Guards! is full of clever sentences that get right under your skin. It opens in a fictional place of Terry Pratchett’s own imagination called Discworld. Our unlikely heroes are the Night Watchmen of Ankh-Morpork who dedicate themselves to alcoholism and never running too fast lest they actually catch a criminal. It’s these four characters Vimes, Colon, Nobbs and Carrot drew me closer to the pages. I felt as though I were a part of their crew.

The plot begins when an incompetent secret brotherhood schemes to replace the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork with a puppet king of their own. In order to accomplish their evil deed, they summon a dragon using a stolen magical book and that’s when the mayhem starts. It’s up to Captain Vimes of the Night Watch and his rag-tag team to stop this dragon and restore order. My favorite character out of this crew was Carrot. Having lived his entire life in the underground caverns of the dwarves, Carrot discovers a whole new world when he steps foot into Ankh-Morpork. He volunteers with the Night Watch which we are told nobody would ever think of doing. His naive yet bold nature reminds me of myself when I moved out of my parents’ house and discovered the life of a city girl.

The voice and style of Guards! Guards! is marinated in Pratchett’s love of good British farce. A ridiculous cast of characters find themselves tangled in improbable scenarios and complications. The heroes and villains are silly enough for us not to take seriously yet so thoroughly well done they seem almost tangible. Our antagonist, the Supreme Grand Master, is a whimsical parody of an egotistical maniac driven by his hatred of humanity’s stupidity. Lady Ramkin, a potential love interest of our protagonist Captain Vimes, is overweight, hazardously confident and sharply eccentric with her fondness for dragons. The story is full of action and spotted here and there by extreme cuteness such as the scenes with the swamp dragons. Also, hidden in the text is a treasure trove of references to Hollywood films.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes a great read.

The Words all look the Same. How Strange…

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When you write, you’ll reach a point where it’s impossible to read your story. You know everything bit by bit. All of the words. Everything that happens. You’ve slaved away on this manuscript for months, years, however long. After spending long nights in your basement punching out letter after letter on an Remington typewriter… Ok, maybe not a typewriter or basement but you get the point. After you’ve punched out the complete thing, you’ll want to proof read it. You turn the pages over and start to read but come to a earth shattering realizing. All the words look the same! Nothing makes any sense!

This has happened to me too many time to count. And I’ve dealt with it in many different ways. Some people will suggest getting an editor. An editor is a brilliant and probably the best option. They are a fresh pair of eyes. They understand how stories are suppose to work. They may not be good writers themselves, but damn, they can smell an error ten miles away.

But if you’re like me and couldn’t possibly pay someone $1000 to edit your story, then you do what I did. You come up with a creative solution.

When I hit a wall like this one and don’t have the capital to hire a gun, I do one of two things or both. (a) Get a friend or family person to read it. (b) Go over it myself.

I have very few friends who can read my stuff and give me the advice I need. In that case, I go with the latter option of myself. But then I remember the fact that I can barely read the manuscript and the errors are invisible to me. This is where the creative thinking comes in.

Print off your story. But in different font. Make it really weird font. I usually write in Garamond, so I’ll print it off in some strange font nobody’s heard of like KC Fink. DA FONT is a really good place to go for crazy font. I change the color and size of the text. I make it look at different as possible. The purpose of this is to make the manuscript look different so it’ll feel a bit new to you. It’s still your same book and you know this. It won’t read like some novel you randomly pick up at the library. But hopefully it’ll read a little fresher.

Another thing I do is cut up my manuscript into a thousand different pieces and spread them across my living room/bedroom floor. But this takes up a lot of time and if you don’t happen to have all the time in the world like I love to pretend I do, then you don’t have to go with this option. Just open WORD or Google DOCs and change the font of your book. Make it look crazy. Silly. Weird. Different.

Another option is to upload the entire thing to Fictionpress.