A few days ago I was about to go to the summer cottage without electronic devices, and because I didn't feel like reading anything from the pile I alr...moreA few days ago I was about to go to the summer cottage without electronic devices, and because I didn't feel like reading anything from the pile I already had, I went to the library to see if there were more Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody adventures. Apparently, the library hasn't acquired them in order (the horror!), so I have to buy the next one if I'm planning on reading it. Then I saw something interesting next to the other Peters's novels: crime novels where a monk is doing the investigating. A monk! This has to be good, I thought, and something totally different than the tediousness that is The Name of the Rose (1980).
I was laying on the pier and eating strawberries, when the skeleton was found from the field. From there on I was instantly hooked. I couldn't have been more wrong in my guesses for the culprit, although the ending made complete sense, and was even a bit medieval in a way. Although I prefer only the final revelation instead of the characters constantly repeating the evidence gathered so far and who could be guilty, I still enjoyed following Cadfael in his efforts to find who did it.
Things were also made more interesting by Cadfael being stuck in the monastery, since he had to ask permission for errands not related to his vocation, and because of that he had Hugh the sheriff to help him in the outside world. Not that Cadfael is a master detective. He and Hugh seemed pretty equal in their brain activity, although Cadfael is naturally the one who solves the case.
Not only that the mystery is rewarding, but Peters is also a wonderful writer in general. She depicts the environment and the monastic life vividly and beautifully, and weaves thoughts about life and religion into the narrative (of which the contrast between secular and monastic life was the most interesting). Her monks are imperfect and people's behavior in general is plausible and suitable for the time period.
My brain has a minor glitch what comes to the history of the Middle Ages, so the parts where Peters explains a little about the historical background went completely over my head. I have no idea who the king was, I can't remember who were fighting and why etc. That's just a small thing, however, because they're not important in understanding the plot. Although it should be noted that Peters never went to college but was self-taught, which is incredibly impressive.
The series is suitable for reading out of order, which is always a plus for me. I will store Peters in my mind for those days when I don't feel like reading anything particularly challenging, but still something a bit more serious.(less)
I currently have 225 horror films under my belt. The Exorcist (1973) is not the best I've seen. It's not the worst either, but it's still only mildly...moreI currently have 225 horror films under my belt. The Exorcist (1973) is not the best I've seen. It's not the worst either, but it's still only mildly entertaining, if even that. The vomiting scene makes me want to eat pea soup. Pea soup, mustard, and crisp bread with cheese on top are the best combination ever - but I digress. If the film was meant to be funny, fine, but since the tone is serious throughout I highly doubt it was made as anything else than a good ol' creep show. Ravenous (1999) and Evil Dead II (1987) are hilarious gore fests (although I don't usually like overly violent horror) but The Exorcist is unintentionally so.
However, this wasn't always so. I can't remember my age, but I was certainly under ten when me and my two friends decided to secretly watch it. Obviously it was a bad idea, since it scared the shit out of me. I've never liked hospitals or anything remotely related to them, so when Regan was subjected to all kinds of tests that alone was horrifying. I don't remember the famous scenes, though, so I was probably mostly burying my face under a pillow and only listening to all the suspicious screams. Fast-forward to a couple of years later when I rewatched the whole thing: Jesus Christ, what is this now?
I think the problem is that I don't like exorcism horror. Even The Conjuring (2013), which is otherwise excellent, was in danger of falling flat during the latter half. I find nothing even remotely scary about a contorted body, a face that looks like Chucky, blasphemy, profanities etc. It's then painfully obvious what my attempt to inject a little creepy horror into the hot summer days turned out to be: a dud.
I don't require a lot from a horror novel, just that there's a some sort of looming threat or creepiness that has an effect on me. Blatty spends too much time educating the reader about possessions and psychology, and the underlying message about how God is good and evil will always lose is a bit heavy handed for my liking. There's also this awkardness in his writing, like he wanted to appear more intellectual and literary, but actually failing miserably (a sad table? really?). I did like Karras, his struggles with faith and the games he had with the demon, but the story overall works better in a visual form. The novel does however reflect (either intentionally or unintentionally) the social upheavals of the time, so that's something that would be worth exploring.
I'm trying to catch up on 1970s horror novels, since I've already seen some films from that era, but Blatty left me disappointed and underwhelmed, and the issues far outweighed the interesting aspects. I'm confident there will be better material later on (and there already has: The Other (1971) is the ultimate forgotten horror classic that is atmospheric, creepy, and heaps of fun).(less)
A basic werewolf story, to which King doesn't really bring anything new, even if he always has interesting characters. Once again an American small to...moreA basic werewolf story, to which King doesn't really bring anything new, even if he always has interesting characters. Once again an American small town works great in a horror novel, and when King sinks his teeth into the small town life, it's executed in such a way that I always keep coming back to get a fix of that certain atmosphere. Although the identity of the werewolf is easy to guess right at the beginning, this was still an entertaining snack. Even at his worst King is highly readable and fun.(less)
Having read Naked Lunch, I thought I had been sucked into an alternate universe when I saw this in the library. I don't usually grab random stuff when...moreHaving read Naked Lunch, I thought I had been sucked into an alternate universe when I saw this in the library. I don't usually grab random stuff when I'm there, but this just seemed too weird to pass. Turns out, this was pretty - blah. Not particularly moving, meditativeness wasn't that interesting, and overall pretty forgettable. Although I did enjoy Burroughs's style, which didn't make this your run-of-the-mill mushy book about cats, but kind of a dream-like journey. (less)
I'm not that into young adult literature (at all actually), but overall I liked the idea in this, and that it's set at the beginning of the 20th centu...moreI'm not that into young adult literature (at all actually), but overall I liked the idea in this, and that it's set at the beginning of the 20th century. The execution was unsatisfying. The bits where characters argued about women's rights and were sad about Titanic felt out of place, like Gripe definitely wanted something to scream the time period, but couldn't decide where to put them so she jammed them somewhere where they seemed to fit. They didn't. The characters were also unlikeable and sometimes behaved oddly and unnaturally. The biggest problem for me however was the whole mystery of the photograph itself. I don't know if it was because things are made more obvious in books for young adults or what, but I guessed what was going on pretty quickly. The mystery of the twin brother was lame as well. I was also hoping something more about the father's interest in Swedenborg, since it reminded me of Uncle Silas, but I guess it wasn't supposed to be important.
The second part of the series seems interesting, though, so maybe I'll have a look at some point if I feel like it.(less)
The second installment of this popular series, The Little Vampire Moves In, was one of my childhood favourites, and even inspired me to make a vampire...moreThe second installment of this popular series, The Little Vampire Moves In, was one of my childhood favourites, and even inspired me to make a vampire cape for a Halloween party. Even though I have read the book countless of times, it's in an excellent shape. I loaned some of the next installments from the library ages ago, but in a random order and I can't remember anything about them anymore. It doesn't really matter that much if you don't read the books in order, but I have an obsession for it. I finally wanted to read this first one, and dive into the nostalgic world of the von Schlotterstein vampire family.
This did have the familiar magic, although I didn't get the exactly same feeling of excitement that I used to. The series was my first confrontation with vampires, and maybe partly because of this I prefer the traditional vampires that smell like sweaty coffins and soil. Here vampires aren't too tame, as you would think from a children's book, but for example aunt Dorothee still had that creepy air around her. It was interesting to realise that the feeding habits of vampires aren't even once referred to directly as biting. Anton's family is charming, but not ridiculously perfect. Mom gets a tad too curious all the time and dad gets angry easily. A special mention goes to Amelie Glinke's illustrations, which stuck into my mind ever since I saw them for the first time. The delicate gossamer pencil lines fit perfectly for the atmosphere, and the characters to the overall charming character of the book.(less)
The only reason why I borrowed this from the library in the first place, was that in the last two years I've grown an interest in US states and their...moreThe only reason why I borrowed this from the library in the first place, was that in the last two years I've grown an interest in US states and their unique features, but also in the history and religions of indigenous peoples (actually, I should be writing an essay about Australian Aborigines right now, but oh well...). Combining New Mexican Navajo culture with murder mystery seemed too interesting to miss, although my bag was already about to throw up on the street.
The symbols on the covers of this series hint that Native American mythology has the biggest part in these stories. You basically have to be interested in the topic, or you might get bored during the parts that to me seemed a bit detached from the story. I mean, they were interesting, but I didn't get anything out of the story except for the religious stuff. The last pages have a relatively exciting chase scene, but the fact that I didn't care about the crime itself is probably bad news for a detective novel.
Joe Leaphorn was a mysterious character, and not in a good way. Sometimes he thinks about something, then he talks with someone, then he thinks about something etc. He just seems so passive and cold, because Hillerman hasn't created a vivid character, or at least a character that would satisfy me. I still have no idea who the hell Leaphorn is. On the plus side, Hillerman has researched his stuff well, but sometimes it just felt like I was reading an article instead of a story with real people.(less)