Thursday, June 28, 2007

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera

If one of your summer projects is to hone your photography skills, this book is a great place to start. It will go a long way towards helping you understand how aperture, shutter speed and ISO come together to create a well-exposed image. Along the way, you’ll discover how to pull off silhouettes, sunset photos and more images involving tricky lighting conditions. It’s a great book for someone who has finally learned about the various buttons on his or her camera and is now looking for the next challenge.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lost Ohio: More Travels into Haunted Landscapes, Ghost Towns, and Forgotten Lives

Ohio's full of history. It's something that can be hard to appreciate, especially in this corner of the state, which has certainly seen its share of development in recent years. This book tracks down some stories of places that have been swept under the rug, and there are certainly some interesting tales here. As with any book along these lines there's a certain amount of levity in the telling. That said, this title steers more towards the forgotten towns and stories than towards the ghost stories. A fun, light read for history buffs.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Little Stalker

Jennifer Belle's latest novel, Little Stalker, is quirky and bizarre--I loved it. The main character, Rebekah Kettle, a semi-successful novelist, is obsessed with an elderly filmmaker, Arthur Weeman, who in turn has a love for young girls. I realized only after reading the entire thing that Weeman is a dead ringer for Woody Allen. I've only seen a few Woody Allen films, so probably half the book was over my head, but I still loved it. Rebekah is sarcastic, but she's also kind of a spoiled idiot. Her obsession clouds her judgment, and she feels like it's nothing to spend twenty-two thousand dollars of her father's money on Weeman memorabilia. Still, the character is sympathetic, her character's observations on life are poignant, and Belle's writing overall is spot-on. Also, the story is just unpredictable enough to keep the reader guessing. There is a lot going on in this culturally literate novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Next Thing On My List

I'll be completely honest--I remembered that I read a book by this author, Jill Smolinski (the title was Flip-Flopped) and that I liked it, but I couldn't remember what the book was about! I even remembered when I read it--it was on vacation in South Carolina. So I picked up her newest title hoping to get a glimmer of the reason I liked her first book. Eventually, I remembered Smolinski's subtle humor and smooth writing. The story revolves around June Carter, a thirtysomething with a mission. She was involved in a car accident with someone from her Weight Watchers group, a woman she barely knew, and while June survived, the other woman died in the accident. Now June wants to complete the other woman's list of life goals, as a tribute to her. Although the plot seems pretty predictable from this summary, there are quite a few twists and turns. It's not always realistic, but the ending is satisfying, and the book left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Stephen King's On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft

Along with the Elements of Style, I would recommend this short book to anyone attempting to write fiction. Stephen King, the author of over 40 horror novels, reveals his induction and experiences as a writer of fiction. Using the analogy of a toolbox containing different layers and compartments, King advises amateur writers to have basic tools in order to be a competent writer, such as the fundamentals of English grammar and composition, to which he gives examples. One of the other necessities to being a good writer, according to King, is a voracious appetite for reading (and the elimination of the television). Although I have heard this many times from college professors, King tells us why exactly it is important: in order to understand the craft, to gain a vast knowledge of what has already been written, and in order to blend many author's writing styles into your own, you must read...a lot.

The book is told in a no nonsense style with a sense of humor that surprised me. I laughed out loud in a few different spots, but I also found myself nodding in agreement to almost everything that was said and worrying about my own writing style in the process. Am I an adverb addict? After reading, or I should say listening, to this book, I want to go back and take a good hard look at my writing with what I have learned to find out if I am, indeed, a "competent writer". I suggest that you do the same!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse

This, the inaugural volume of a new graphic novel series, follows Wormwood, an investigator of the paranormal. He’s a good choice for the role, as he’s an inter-dimensional worm living in the eye socket of an animated corpse, making his way through the world on his charm, good looks, and some spells that keep people from seeing him for who he really is.Creator Ben Templesmith single-handedly does the drawing, inking, coloring and writing, and each aspect is superb.