I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Wolf Among Us is a prequel of sorts to the Fables series. It tI received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Wolf Among Us is a prequel of sorts to the Fables series. It takes place roughly 20 years prior to the events of the books, and fills in some of the gaps that later get explored in volumes such as From Fabletown With Love, which is satisfying. However, The Wolf Among Us could easily be enjoyed without any background in Fables, and vice versa, which is largely the strength of the book.
My interest in this was piqued largely by how much I enjoyed the TellTale game that brought about this series in the first place. The book borrows heavily from both the game's dialogue and art style, enough to be boring in the first 'chapter' or so, though the cheesy noir monologue is amusing. It comes into its own more as the story begins offering up flashbacks that differ from the gameplay and shakeup the pacing of the story.
If later volumes offer up more new content I will call this series a success. The art is strong, if reminiscent of the Sleepy Hollow comics, and the story entertaining. It was far better than Werewolves of the Heartland, which I found far more difficult to get through.
So, while not as good as the Fables series that spawned it, I'd still call this a decent start to TWAU spinoff. Later volumes will reveal if it can manage to be as strong a comic series as it was a game.
This comic was really everything that makes Sleepy Hollow a good show.
The story was quickly paced and exciting, the dialogue extremely entertaining,This comic was really everything that makes Sleepy Hollow a good show.
The story was quickly paced and exciting, the dialogue extremely entertaining, and the tone at once light and deliciously creepy. It hit the correct balance between humor and horror that makes for good reading and fun watching. The artist, in turn, did a marvelous job creating a unique style that added to the supernatural weirdness that was afoot. All in all, I can't complain.
This comic was enough for me to make me want to read the rest, which I will be doing shorty. Thanks, Mallorie, for introducing me to it. :)
Also, the short story at the end of it was utterly perfect and had me laughing. I really do love how the writers manage Ichabod and Abbie's dialogue. It's really everything I could've possibly wanted out of a Sleepy Hollow comic....more
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I was very excited to get this book. I think it's wonderfuI received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I was very excited to get this book. I think it's wonderful that this book exists. It's a short, exciting bit of historical fiction about a nine-year-old boy who served as a spy during the Revolutionary War. While the story may be simply a local legend, it's generally accepted as true. What more could you want, really?
The story itself is quickly paced, and while it's lacking for an adult to read it for the most part, for a child I think it would be riveting. The illustrations are fun, and the language is easy to read. The back of the book contains a glossary to define he more difficult words. I think a child would be able to read it on their own, and more, I think a child would likely want to. There's a fun bit of a meat to it that would likely spur a deeper interest in history than a child might otherwise have.
This book is interesting, and I certainly would like to get it for some of the younger children in my extended family. ...more
My boyfriend received this book from the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review. I just thought it was too cute not to read itMy boyfriend received this book from the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review. I just thought it was too cute not to read it, too.
Dr Hedgehog and the River Rescue is a really adorable children's book. The artwork is large and simple, and I can see it being a fun book to read aloud to a classroom due to that. There are some fun words thrown in that I imagine would help a child's vocabulary, and the book is a short 32 pages. There's a poster in the back with Dr. Hedgehog and Martin Mouse that would be fun for a classroom that has the full trilogy on hand.
So, the plot of the book is relatively simple. Martin Mouse's mother Mavis warns him not to walk on the frozen river on the way to school... so he does, and the ice breaks. He's rescued by Dr. Hedgehog who throws him a sandwich on his way to getting his friend the frog to fish Martin Mouse out. The book ends with a wet Martin Mouse worried that Dr. Hedgehog will tell his mother what happened.
The weakness in this book, and the reason for its 3 star rating, is the ending. It felt terribly rushed. Does Dr. Hedgehog tell Mavis Mouse what happened? Is Martin Mouse ok? I imagine it would be decent for discussion, but being read on its own it's a bit lacking. Other reviewers have said that it lends kids a somewhat ambiguous message - that it's OK to keep things from their parents - which isn't terribly good.
I also wish there was more of Dr. Hedgehog himself in the book. Though the sandwich scene was great....more
I came across this book at a beach house while vacationing in OBX. We were caught inside due to the rather turbulent storm (actually watched a fair biI came across this book at a beach house while vacationing in OBX. We were caught inside due to the rather turbulent storm (actually watched a fair bit of pier break off and get carried about by the waves) and having little else to do, read. What better reading during that time than the legends of the very town we were staying in and the surrounding area?
This book is exceptionally charming. The stories that are contained within it are ones that pretty much epitomize the experience of being an Outer Banker, or at least visiting the Outer Banks. You'll find an abundance of pirates, some Indians, colonialists and porpoises. You'll learn about the wisdom of the Outer Bankers and the foolishness of those inlanders that think they can forget tradition. You''ll learn more than I can possibly express in a short review about the perspective and culture of a place that's slowly changing, having to acclimate to a changing world and the values that come along with it.
I love these books so much. They're time capsules into ways of life and being that are otherwise so difficult to convey. I think it says a lot about the Outer Banks that so many of the stories are still as prevalent as they are today - in particular the way that Nag's Head and Jockey's Ridge got their names - that rely upon the romanticized notion of pirates. Just fascinating stuff.
So, if you're looking for a book that will keep your kids up at night, or you want an amusing look back at a very different perspective and way of life, this is a great book to illuminate the people of that region....more
When I first began reading this book I was afraid that it would end up being Sharp Objects for kids. Certain aspects of the book are indeed similar.When I first began reading this book I was afraid that it would end up being Sharp Objects for kids. Certain aspects of the book are indeed similar. Both Sharp Objects and The Sky is Everywhere are focused primarily upon how an individual copes with the death of a sibling, both hold few punches when it comes to how negatively death can impact a person. While The Sky is Everywhere shies away from certain more mature topics, it still has some heavier content for a young reader. I respected the book for that deeply. Death is hard, and the death of someone that close to you can really mess you up.
The book shone in its portrayal of grief as a multi-layered, deeply complex emotion. It addressed the poor choices that people can make in that position, how they punish themselves and lose those around them, and just how horrifically it can manifest itself.
Where the book failed was primarily in how one-dimensional other characters could be. The writing felt a bit too simple. While YA books can deftly deal in topics such as this, Matthew Quick has made a career out of it, while still utilizing a smaller vocabulary and more simple style Jandy Nelson seems to paint too one-dimensional characters are her supporting cast. I'd like to see her writing develop further, as I honestly believe she's very capable of it.
This is a good book for a kid in a bad situation. This is a surprisingly good book to start dialogues on difficult subjects. It's just a bit too saccharine for my taste at points and I wish the writing had been more in line with the weight of some of the issue....more
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mindfulness in Motion offers not only a scientific look at why meditatiI received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mindfulness in Motion offers not only a scientific look at why meditation is effective, but also an in-depth guide into motion-based meditation to aid in your everyday life. While many understand that meditation does work and have a variety of benefits to those who practice it, people still don't practice it. Why? It's difficult for many to focus on the mind so adroitly, and often times people are too busy or restless to sit still for long periods in such a manner.
Mindfulness in Motion offers a solution to these problems. Dr. Russell explains that it is possible to practice meditation without needing to sit still and clear the mind. It's possible to reap the same benefits of traditional meditation through motion-based meditation. Rather than sitting still, you can practice slow controlled movements and focus the mind upon the motion. Furthermore, motion based meditation can aid in emotional healing in a way that traditional mediation doesn't always do.
The claims the book makes are grand, but all well-sourced and often quite logical. Dr. Russell takes the time to explain the science behind each exercise in a way that is easy to understand without sacrificing the specifics. I found myself fascinated by the book, and actually practiced many of the exercises listed within it. It's surprising, but the effects are easy to feel and experience. I can definitely see how this could hugely benefit a person is practiced long term....more
First: From the very outset the book made clear that history books are inevitably biased. Anytime you read a history book you are reading history through the lens of a certain theme. In this case, the theme was that of equality and inequality, which they made exceptionally clear from the introduction and through the book itself. I appreciated how up front they were.
Second: The book was divided into very short chapters, allowing this book to be a quick read. Although the chapters were short each had a very clear focus and was surprisingly in depth. Quotes were used often, and I'm a glutton for primary sources. I loved how much attention was given.
Third: Maps! Well labeled maps of famous battlefields, as well as the way the territories were originally divided. Excellent!
The book did a very good job of highlighting the diversity of the United States through the ages. It explained the slave trade exceptionally well, bringing up points that I'd never even considered before. I appreciated the vast scope of the project, and how neutral the tone was up through Reconstruction. It was only as the book got closer to modern day that it began to rush through events rather more quickly than I'd like, but I can understand the need to do so given the scope of the project and the limited space available.
I think this is a good introductory history book. It whets the appetite and would allow a reader more ease of access to figure out what time period and topic they'd like to read about in US history....more
I won this book through the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.
Meet Maddy Braverman, a thirty-something first grade teacheI won this book through the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.
Meet Maddy Braverman, a thirty-something first grade teacher in the heart of New York City. She's dissatisfied with her job, but too complacent to seek work elsewhere. With no boyfriend, or will to really try and get one, she seeks solace in the celebrity tabloids and gossip that flows throughout the city. When a new addition to her classroom proves to be the daughter of Nic and Shelby Seabolt, the A-list Hollywood power couple she's obsessed with, her life promptly falls apart. It's all she can do not to spend the whole of her time fantasizing about Nic Seabolt. Not even her new hippie assistant teacher, James, can distract her from her quest.
Now, I'm a fan of chick lit to a certain extent. I adore Jennifer Crusie and will honestly pick up anything she writes. Star Craving Mad, however, largely left me cold. The situation was too ubelievable, the characters too hard to like, and the writing too crass to hold my interest too long. That having been said, the book picked up sufficiently in the third act to pull itself out of a one star rating - if the whole book had had the third act's pacing and rhythm the book would have been a much better sell.
Maddy Braverman just wasn't a good protagonist. She was unlikable from the start, and it's difficult to believe that a borderline alcoholic, celebrity stalking, childishly petulant depressive woman would hold a job at the most prestigious elementary school in NYC. It's more difficult to believe that she would have held the job for six years and be considered the best teacher there, with parents clamoring for spots in her class. She may be great with the children overall, but as a reader I hardly saw it. She spent too much of her time in the class on the phone or lamenting about her situation and dashing off to the break room to be considered a valuable asset.
Her friendships were likewise a bit horrifying. It's one thing to be enamored with celebrity culture, it's a whole other thing to make the same mistake multiple times and gush about how celebrities have a golden "glow" about them. The cautionary tale of Star Craving Mad is largely lost when so much of the book is spent excusing horrible behavior, and even commending it in the case of the Halloween party. Illusions may be shattered by the end of the book, but the impact isn't that great overall.
Where the story succeeds is in the final act, as I've said before. The pacing changes, the focus of the story is torn away from celebrity culture and instead on character development that was badly needed throughout the whole book itself. With more attention to the characters, and less to what celebrity wore what, the book could do better. If more time was spent on character relationships than the reveals would be a bit more powerful. As it is, the characters are too self-absorbed to really come off as real, and the action is too choppy to flow naturally the way that it should. There's a decent chick-lit story in this, it just hasn't fully emerged just yet. ...more
At 96 pages, this is more of a short-story than anything else. Half or more of the pages are illustrations, beautifully rendered, adding a surrealistic slant to book that is already mired in surrealism. Each and every turn of the page draws the eye towards the strange illustrations and gives the mind of brief tap towards what's coming next. The black dog of depression, eye gleaming with a starburst of a pupil and a haunting snarl? A strange pattern that draws the eye downward, pushing the reader further into the basement of the strange library itself? A two page spread with a blue bird shooting across the page, upward, towards freedom and some peace of mind? You never know, which is part of the draw of the book itself. It's not so much a rollercoaster as it is a jarring shove into this different world, violent and jerky. You lose your footing, and never quite regain it, until the sobering last page - absent from all illustration save for the endpaper. Welcome to Haruki Murakami, I suppose.
I was reluctant to review this book at first. I read through it in less than an hour, a single sitting, and was left so out of sorts by it that I wasn't quite certain what to make of it - much less what I read. I went so far as to contact a few of my friends to see if they'd read it and wanted to discuss it - but none had. So I let it sit, pondering over it day after day. Now, ten days later, I've a notion of what I read. The strange pieces fell into place and a cohesive narrative formed through the chaos. It's a testimony to the book and Murakami's writing that I could sit on it for this long, that it kept coming up, that in the moments before sleep order evolved out of chaos for a brief moment and I could set to right the dreamlike quality of the narrative I read. I have my own ideas as to what happened, and I'm still quite eager to discuss them.
Haruki Murakami, from this book, comes off a bit like Jonathan Carroll, minus the shameless dream-like prose. Where Jonathan Carroll can turn a phrase that will burn into your mind and stick with you [ "Everything you want in life has teeth" ] Murakami works a more visual sort of magic. You're stuck with the image of the sheep-man's tail bobbing as he runs, the whip cracking across his face, the labyrinthine maze at the basement of the library. One isn't really better than the other, just different, and Murakami's prose may be more a product of translation or English being his second-language rather than any real fault on his part.
The Strange Library is a book that would be ruined by summary. It's more of an experience, one that begins the moment you unfold the covering and begin reading it on the cover itself. It's an odd book, but a good one, and I think by virtue of its strangeness and the way the plot has stayed sticky within my mind it further recommends the author. I look forward to reading more of his soon....more
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first Barry Day pastiche that I've read, and overall I enjoI received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first Barry Day pastiche that I've read, and overall I enjoyed it.
The story follows two separate threads, weaving them together to a pleasant conclusion. The first thread is that a series of copycat murders are taking place, all perpetuated by what appears to be Sherlock Holmes. The fact that Watson and Lestrade believe this is altogether a bit contrived, but the murders themselves are interesting and the mystery a pleasant enough thing to divert the mind. Mycroft makes an appearance, and the plot takes a turn. The larger plot is that of Germany attempting to colonize Britain, and of course it's up to the Holmeses and Watson to try and foil the plans.
The writing was rather good, although the editing suffered a bit in my copy with a number of typos. The allusions to current events during the setting - Freud makes an appearance, ample quoting of various poets and Shakespeare, all very nice and contemporary, were a surprising pleasure. The use of disguise, and surprisingly the use of Mycroft were all fun and simultaneously set the story apart from the canon while also firmly grounding it within that vast world.
I enjoyed the book thoroughly with the exception of two points. I felt that Watson was underutilized in a criminal way. Watson is at his best when he's acknowledged as an able soldier and doctor, and not a bumbling sidekick to Holmes - which he largely is in this story. By making Watson and Lestrade little more than pawns Sherlock and Mycroft appear rather normal by comparison. The first mystery could have been stronger and was far too easy to solve, the second mystery - while better, was still a bit wanting having suffered from the first being too simple.
All the same it was a cozy mystery set within the Sherlock Holmes universe. ...more
From the very outset of this book Patrick Süskind holds back few punches. He effortlessly constructs the olfactory framework of 1738 Paris until the
From the very outset of this book Patrick Süskind holds back few punches. He effortlessly constructs the olfactory framework of 1738 Paris until the reader is nearly gagging from the scent of filth and fishes. It in this disreputable district that he deposits Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the gifted child capable of scenting out the smallest odor - but incapable of smelling himself. What follows is already clear from the title itself - it's no great spoiler that Grenouille ends up killing, no great mystery at all where his path leads him. The brilliance of the book lies in the telling of it, the why and in some cases, the very lack of explanation of such.
It's strange to call a book with such an unsavory subject beautiful, but Patrick Süskind manages to make it just that. The focus on scent above all else is a fascinating one, as olfactory descriptions tend to elude most writers. Grenouille is a surprisingly compelling protagonist, however confusing his own mind tends to be. The scenes in the cave, in particular, are a beautiful depiction of fragmented thinking and imagination. When, scent-drunk, Grenouille falls into his own memories it's a confusing bouquet that overwhelms the reader as much as it does the protagonist.
I think this book thrives the most in what it's created. The film, trailer can be seen here, is a truly gorgeous piece of art. The music that has been borne from the book (notably Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice" and Rammstein's "Du Riechst So Gut") is also surprisingly evocative in its own way. There's something inherently arresting about the idea of someone using our basest of senses in a predatory manner, and being able to control and seduce in a way that we scarcely comprehend.
The concept is fantastic, and the execution painfully good. It's a book so well written that in spite of its length (over 200 pages) can easily be consumed in a single sitting. The concepts within it, the characters, the setting, the sheer physicality of it - will linger in your mind like the very perfumes it describes. It'll send a chill down your spine at least once, if you've a strong constitution - if you don't handle your horror well expect your skin to crawl far more often.
And, yes - see the film. This book and it's film are strong enough to both recommend one another in a huge way....more
Morgan Iverson has recently become the owner of a rock shop in Golden Springs, Colorado, after her brother left to South America on short notice. While out with a geology class, in hopes to learn more about the trade, she becomes separated from the group and happens upon a much decayed body, a strange Mountain Man that looks more Sasquatch than human, and a whole lot of trouble. Has she reopened the only cold case Golden Springs has? Will this discovery bring closure to a fractured family? And who exactly is the Mountain Man now terrorizing the town, and why is everyone involved in the case beginning to have more than a few close calls with death?
Stone Cold Case is a cozy mystery that manages to avoid some of the trouble that genre tends to run into. The characters are surprisingly believable, and never fully fit the stereotypes that would have been easy to draw on in such a case. The small town politics and intrigue are fascinating, and the geological information (gems, rocks, minerals - geodes!) is both accurate and intriguing. More than once I found myself looking up gems she mentioned and being shocked by their beauty. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest myself, reading Stone Cold Case made me nostalgic for my old Montana home.
By the end of Stone Cold Case you'll be sure to want more, and there are ample hints throughout the book pointing towards what the next plot just might be. If you're looking for a good beach read, or something to tide you over with a hot cocoa and a warm fire, this is the book for you. The mystery will keep you guessing, and the characters will keep you at turns laughing and gasping.
Overall, a good fun mystery book from someone it's obvious quite loves the genre....more
The Georgian Menagerie by Christopher Plumb is precisely what its title portends it to be. The book details the evolution of the menagerie during the long eighteenth century, and with it the changing ways in which British culture viewed animals and their relationships to them. The book is cleverly divided into a variety of sections to better sum up the changing cultural values:
Trade Ingredients Crowds (which delves into people's relationships with animals at large and contains sections such as "Bitten, Crushed and Maimed" and "Under the Knife" Humor
For such a slim volume the book is suprisingly informative and contains a great deal of primary sources within. While the way some animals are treated is incredibly distressing (Chunee the elephant in particular) what surprised me the most was how little our behavior towards some animals has changed. There are still idiots poking and harassing animals at the zoo, still people who view animals more as property than sentient beings, and still all too many people who believe that animal parts have a strong place in medicine that will revitalize them.
The Georgian Menagerie was an eye-opening book. Say what you will about the past, but at least during that time animals weren't destroyed for attacking those who abused them....more
The Path of No Resistance purports to hold the key to achieving a more successful, productive, and satisfying life. To Garrett Kramer the one thing The Path of No Resistance purports to hold the key to achieving a more successful, productive, and satisfying life. To Garrett Kramer the one thing that you must do in order to be successful is to stop thinking. If you can quiet your mind, you'll be more in tune with your emotions, and if you're more in tune with your emotions than your mind will automatically reset any negative feelings you have. That's the essence of the book.
While I think that he has a good point when it comes to clearing away negative thoughts, I don't think this advice is the best for people suffering from mood disorders or dealing with toxic relationships. For minor issues, however, the advice is good. You can generally communicate more clearly and from a better spot if you're calm, and the bulk of bad performance in sport seems to come from thinking too much.
The low rating then, is not entirely due to the message. The low rating mainly comes from the fact that I didn't enjoy the way the book was written. It was scattered with anecdotes that were either redundant or not terrifically helpful. The book felt repetitive more than much else, and several grammatical errors really grated on me: most strongly, the use of the phrase "I could care less." It isn't that difficult to correct to "couldn't."
I did enjoy the formatting, however. The use of summaries and bullet points halfway through the chapter and again at the end helped to drive home the points made. I just wish there had been more points, overall.
Finally, I thought the inclusion of a rather large selection of quotes in the Appendix was questionable at best and self-congratulatory at worst....more
This is the work of Siobhan Dowd, whom Patrick Ness received the illustrations from to write this novel.For a moment pause and take a look at this.
This is the work of Siobhan Dowd, whom Patrick Ness received the illustrations from to write this novel. Dowd didn't live long enough to see the finished product, but I like to believe she would have been in awe of how beautifully the illustrations line up with the story Ness created. It's a testimony to Ness's ability that the story lines up so well with what took Dowd from this world.
The art is stunning, and the writing suits it well.
Within the first few pages we are introduced to a monster. It isn't the monster, though it is quite monstrous. Sometimes the Green Man himself calls walking, when the cause is great enough to warrant it. Conor's cause is great enough, and before the book is done Conor will have to tell his story to the monster and himself.
This book made me cry. It made me think. It stuck in me like a thorn. This is a book I hope I'll never have to recommend to someone who truly needs it, but dear god am I glad it exists for so many reasons....more
Sometimes, when I'm out walking I make up stories about the people I see. I try to read their body langDo you ever think about the people around you?
Sometimes, when I'm out walking I make up stories about the people I see. I try to read their body language, to interpret what the little looks and pauses in their speech might mean. It's a more overt reading between the lines. I think everyone does it to some degree, especially on commutes where you're going to be seeing the same people every day. Most of us don't start to believe our fantasies, however. Most of us don't end up injecting ourselves into the other people's lives.
Rachel Watson, on the other hand, does just that.
Rachel's daily commute takes her past a certain house where she often sees the inhabitants out in the garden. She watches them, and the affection they show for one another. She makes up stories about what a wonderful life they must lead. All of her own wants and dreams are soon pinned on this ideal couple, until one day she sees the woman out with another man.
What on earth happened?
When the next day the woman goes missing, and Rachel can't remember just what she did the night before, the stage is set.
The Girl on the Train has been touted as an answer to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. It's easy to see why the comparison exists. Both books play with time and perspective to further the mystery. Both books play, to some extent, with unreliable narration although I believe that Paula Hawkins did a much better job of it. Both books deal with missing people, and deeply flawed individuals. I believe that where The Girl on the Train succeeds is often where Gone Girl failed. The Girl on the Train was, ultimately, more believable if only because it dealt with less manipulation and more flawed 'normal' characters attempting to do what they believe to be the right thing.
The action starts from page one, as does the intrigue. If you can put the book down after hitting page 40 I'd be deeply surprised. The writing style reminded me a great deal of Patricia Highsmith, and I don't say that lightly. The book kept me guessing, turning back through the pages to double-check dates, rushing forward to get to the conclusion. Right up until the final page the action didn't stop. It was an electric, riveting, train crash of a book.
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to scratch that mystery itch. This is one of the good ones.
It starts as any good folktale does. We have our protagonist, a strange character that is better remembered for his attributes than his name and history. In this case, we have a dwarf with several strange abilities that emerge as the book goes on. We have the guide, an abnormally tall wolfish man with a secret. We have a quest: to get to the cave in the black mountain and take some of its cursed gold. And the guide has been there before, and he's not all that happy to go back.
The setting is at once familiar, as Neil Gaiman based it on the rolling hills of Skye, but utterly foreign. The mists reveal more than they obscure, as does the fortune teller they meet along the way. As the book goes on it becomes apparent that the ending was already foretold the moment the book began. It's inevitable. But like all characters of myth and legend, they still go on to their end in spite of what they might feel.
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains is profusely illustrated. It's half told through text, half through pictures, through comic, creating a strange mixed medium that only enhances the story itself. To hear it read while looking at these images - that must have been a truly magical experience.
For all of my occasional trouble with Neil Gaiman when he is good, he is truly exceptional. This is one of those times....more
Suspicious Minds by Rob Brotherton is an interest, slightly irreverent, study of what makes us believe what we all too often believe. From the harmless suspicious tendency to roll a pair of die gently in order to achieve a low number, to the paranoiac belief that the government is out to get you, to the all-encompassing conviction that interdimensional shape-shifting reptiles rule to the world - we all have some tendency towards superstition and belief in conspiracy theories. The why we believe what we believe can actually be more troubling and interesting than the what we believe. Unless it's dealing with interdimensional shape-shifting aliens. Those are probably the most creative.
See, the Queen's a reptilian. You can tell by the eyes.
Suspicious Minds may not have been as in-depth as I would have liked it to be, but it was still a very interesting book. The beginning is a brief history of conspiracy theories, meant to show that this style of thinking is endemic to the human condition rather than a more recent phenomenon bolstered by the internet and the now pervasive globalism. The history was fascinating, and at times mildly disturbing. I was especially thankful for the in-depth discussion of the Protocols of Zion after Dan Brown and Holy Blood, Holy Grail had popularized a new resurgence in belief that those are anything but a hoax. Hopefully this well-documented history of the forgery will put some of that to rest.
Following the history of conspiracy theories the book delves into what a conspiracy theory is exactly (and decides that an important facet of it is that it isn't and likely won't ever be proven) and then the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking. The bulk of the book is devoted to the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking and how every one of us is given to it to a certain extent.
The book is a good example of pop-science, without being erroneous. It's well-researched, intriguing, and would benefit greatly from a more in-depth bibliography in the back. I think that this is a good introduction to the subject overall - though perhaps the section regarding echo chambers was handled a bit more deftly by Jon Ronson in So, You've Been Publicly Shamed. It's still a valuable topic and an interesting book. I'm glad I read it....more
We tell this story still as it has come down to us through many retellings, mouth to ear; ear to mouth, both the story of the poisoned box aOut today!
We tell this story still as it has come down to us through many retellings, mouth to ear; ear to mouth, both the story of the poisoned box and the stories it contained, in which the poison was concealed. This is what stories are, experience retold by many tongues to which, sometimes, we give a single name, Homer, Valmiki, Vyasa, Scheherazade. We, for our own part, simply call ourselves "we." "We" are the creature that tells itself stories to understand what sort of creature it is. As they pass down to us the stories lift themselves away from time and place, losing the specificity of their beginnings, but gaining the purity of essences, of being simply themselves. And by extension, or by the same token, as we like to say, though we do not know what the token is or was, these stories become what we know, what we understand, and what we are, or, perhaps we should say, what we have become, or can perhaps be.
Salman Rushdie's new book is a story about stories. In the same vein of At Swim-Two-Birds, the narrative is continued through manifold layers. As other reviewers have noted, it is possible to separate the story into two separate tales. The first is that of the jinnia Dunia, who fell in love with a man many, many years ago. Their affair spanned the titular Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and resulted in the birth of new hybrid race, which over the ensuing centuries spread over the face of the globe. At the start of the book these half-jinn are beginning to come into their heritage, woken by the old matriach, to be recruited for a grand purpose and a great war.
The cause of the war forms the crux of the second, underlying story. This is a philosophical battle between two great philosophers - Al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd. This clash of belief over the centuries - that of fear of God over reason, and reason over God (or rather as a way of understanding God) spreads through the whole narrative though the actual philosophical arguments between the two philosophers are rarely directly addressed.
The book is full of gorgeous passages, as the quote that I began this review with shows. It's written at turns in a traditional folk tale sense (much repetition, rather overt symbolism being used, irony, etc.) and in an almost text-book like simplicity. As I read through it I found myself eager to reach more text-book like explanations of the worlds. I'm certain that my lack of familiarity with Arabian myth and folklore hurt my understanding of some of the text, but anyone who is familiar with it will likely take away a great deal.
Even though I didn't like this book quite as much as I loved At Swim-Two-Birds I'm quite glad that I read it. I will most definitely be going on to read Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses at some point. Salman Rushdie is a gifted writer, and there's much beauty to be found in this book. If you can set aside some annoyance at a bit too much repetition, it's great and quite a few spots should make you laugh.
(view spoiler)[ To repeat: only one human being ever returned in good shape, the hero Hamza, and the suspicion remains that he may have been part jinni himself. So when Dunia the jinnia, aka Aasmaan Peri the Lightning Princess of Qaf Mountain, suggested to Mr. Geronimo that he return with her to her father's kingdom, suspicious minds might have concluded that she was luring him to his doom like the sirenuse singing on the rocks near Positano or Lilith the night monster who was Adam's wife before Eve, or John Keats's merciless beauty.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Bruce Beckham's Murder Mystery Collection is a bizarre group of short stories reminiscent of the early Twilight Zone episodes, if they had all been vaguely noir in scope. The collection is slim, coming in at only 75 pages or so, the rest of the book being taken up by an excerpt from one of the author's many books.
As far as short story collections go, this one runs the gamut. There are murders, mistaken identities, and a memorable tongue in cheek reflection of an unsavory reflection. The stories are for the most part engaging, if rather short. The trouble of this genre is that something has to be really quite good in order to stand out, and although the short stories are not particularly bad, there is nothing all that memorable about them. Quick paced as they are, there isn't a lot of time to really feel the characters and what they're going through.
There's not enough time to really immerse yourself in Bruce Beckham's imaginative world - with the exception of the final story "Ukraine Girls" which is easily the best, and longest, of the bunch. The collection ends up being a bit frustrating due to that. The stories are all interesting, all entertaining, but would benefit from either a slower pace, or there simply being more of them. Not a horrible problem to have.
A man dies in a violent car crash. When a lawyer looks into contacting his next of kin it's disco The Guise of Another has a rather fantastic premise.
A man dies in a violent car crash. When a lawyer looks into contacting his next of kin it's discovered that he isn't who he says he is. So who's the dead man? Why did he steal someone else's identity? The case, which easily could have simply been fraud, turns into something far larger. Blackmail and murder, mercenaries and deceit. The book has the makings of something positively lovely indeed. There's even a bit of a treasure hunt.
For me, where the book failed to deliver was primarily in tone. It wavered between pulp fiction, with a villain worthy of a Bond novel and something far more serious and dramatic - which is where the novel seemed to want to stay. The serious tone made the story less fun than I felt it should be, and the writing style was far too dry to truly pull sympathy from me.
While the choices that were made in this book set it apart from most of the genre, I felt the story a bit too dark to be truly impactful. When I read a novel like this, I either want to be entertained or to feel something. I much would have preferred the former. If less drama existed within this book I feel it would have been more dramatic overall. By focusing more on a single character's tragedy the tragedy would have been more potent....more
Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle by Douglas J. Emlen is a delightful enlightening read. Douglas J. Emlen focuses on many unusual animals, rather than focusing upon the typical big cats, wild dogs, and dinosaurs. The main thrust of his book is the insects - beetles, flies, and other such forgotten creatures litter the pages with their bizarre adaptations and startlingly complex behavior. The times when the author is writing about these are the best part of the book - he thrives in descriptions of the unusual, and the pages fly by.
The book never became boring, but the transitions were largely bizarre to me, which in turn affected some of my enjoyment. While I agree that there are rather clear parallels between human weapon development and animal evolution - and that the case presented was a good one - I think it was clumsily written. Transitions could have been handled better, but overall that wasn't so jarring as to heavily impact my rating of the book.
In spite of the small gripe in terms of transitions, the book was wonderful. The contents were fascinating, the arguments presented well thought out, and the illustrations provided by David J. Tuss truly stunning. The illustrations, two of which adorn the cover, are fantastic and playfully done without sacrificing detail or scientific accuracy.
Courage and Other Demons, the first book by author Jill Daugherty, was a surprisingly entertaining romp. In spite of falling into many of the common traps of YA novels - old prophecies, reluctant and mildly vapid heroine, it shows a great deal of promise for future installments. Maggie was utterly maddening more often than not, but she realized that she was being such and by the end of the book showed some decent resolve. Simon, the faery love interest, was a terribly charming character whose self-deprecating humor was easy to enjoy. The villains, although little seen, were a fairly frightening bunch. I can imagine reading this at a younger age and being downright frightened by a certain confrontation.
I enjoyed Jill Daugherty's treatment of a more obscure mythology. Her small nods to the old Cycles were handled well, and I enjoyed her new interpretation on the myths. I rather look forward to see how she will handle the rest of the prophecy in upcoming titles, should there be more than one.
The series holds promise, if you bear in mind that this is the first book in it and a first outing as an author. Forgive Maggie her self-conscious maddening behavior and it's a lovely ride. I look forward to seeing her come into her own in the future....more
Reading the books from start to finish in the matter of just two days was a bitThe end of Joe Hill's Locke & Key.
Wow. This has been a crazy ride.
Reading the books from start to finish in the matter of just two days was a bit of a roller coaster. I mentioned in my previous review how Clockworks had dragged a tiny bit, if only for breaking up the maddening pace of the main plot. Alpha & Omega makes up for that by delivering a plot in spades. The pace is insane, the action rapid-fire, and the plot explosive. Very little is held back.
I love how Joe Hill ties it all together. I love how even the smallest throwaway remarks come into play. Subtleties abound, and it's just great. Nothing is really left to chance.
Like previous reviewers on the book itself, though, I feel cheated. I want more. I want to delve back into the characters, check in on them once in a while... I know they'll be fine, but man, it's hard to leave the Keyhouse itself behind. ...more
Clockworks was a fascinating, and rather unexpected read.
This volume took us back to the origins of the Keys that make Keyhouse such an interesting Clockworks was a fascinating, and rather unexpected read.
This volume took us back to the origins of the Keys that make Keyhouse such an interesting place to explore. The bulk of the action takes place in the past, adding much needed meat to the mythos of the world the Locke family inhabits. Questions are answered, not only about the fashioning of the keys but also about what happened to Rendell when he was young, how the magic works, where things are heading...
It can be a bit jarring jumping into this volume after the high action of Keys to the Kingdom but I think Clockworks still managed to hold its own admirably.
Joe Hill is a truly fantastic writer, and Welcome to Lovecraft shows off his skill beautifully. The story is crafted so well it hurts. I've not read the whole series yet, I've only gotten to book four, but rereading the first volume after getting that far it's obvious how well plotted the whole of it is. Hints are dropped for future issues, allusions are made to back story that we don't get until later... the world of the Keyhouse is rich and vast, and this first scrape of the surface is downright masterful.
Locke & Key is a must for any fan of comics....more
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Vampire Vic is the first book in a trilogy about a rather unfortunate vampire. The preI received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Vampire Vic is the first book in a trilogy about a rather unfortunate vampire. The premise is interesting and fairly original. Victor isn't your typical vampire. He's sickened by the sight and thought of blood, insecure to a fault, and quite frankly a rather large loser. None of his staff respect him, he and his wife divorced two years ago but still live together and share a bed, his own daughter at one point even goes to father-daughter day at school with a friend's dad rather than be seen in public with him. Vampirism didn't change any of that. Most people treat it as a joke.
That is, until Victor finally bites someone.
Within the first few pages I was tired of reading about what a loser Vic was. While it's meant to be a satire, a lot of the humor just fell flat. I wasn't feeling bad for Victor, nor was I wanting to join in the others in mocking him. I was just bored. The writing failed to engage me, largely due to how redundant a lot of it was. It would have been enough for his workmates to ignore him once, instead there are pages upon pages of his staff failing to pay attention to him, stereotypes being played into again and again - it just got dull. The book could have been shorter, and would have hit its mark better if it was.
Eugene, the vampire slayer, also could have benefited from that treatment. While the scene with him in the chatroom was hilarious, it was undermined a bit by his continuous assertions as to what a great vampire hunter - no slayer - throughout the rest of the book. By shortening that dialogue, or having it shown through his bravado a bit more clearly, he would have been a more interesting player.
The action sequences also lost me. Shorter sentences would have heightened the tension during the few fights. A good example of an action scene that worked was Victor's encounter with Karina - the short sentences made the action flow better and drew me in. The encounter with Bob, on the other hand, lost me. Reading it three times still didn't clear up just what happened, which didn't bode well for the experience.
Better editing would make this book a good satire, but as it stands presently it just missed the mark. The premise was good, and the explanation for Victor's vampirism when it came was pretty hilarious. Part of me is curious as to how the trilogy wraps up, but I'm not compelled to do so when the writing lost me so quickly the first time....more
I received this book for free from the GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.
I was initially rather excited when I won this bI received this book for free from the GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.
I was initially rather excited when I won this book. I had enjoyed both Lamb and Coyote Blue and was looking forward to reading more by an author that I remembered for doing extensive research and drawing upon altogether fascinating mythology in a humorous way. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, used extensively in Lamb isn't exactly obscure or difficult to come by. I was hoping what would be found in Secondhand Soul may be more obscure. I was, needless to say, not entirely satisfied.
Secondhand Souls is the sequel to A Dirty Job and it contains much, much less plot than the former. It is entirely necessary to have read A Dirty Job to have the slightest idea what is happening in Secondhand Souls, though doing so will also likely irritate the reader as Secondhand Souls is making constant references to what happened in the previous book. I lost count of how many times Charlie Asher's encounter with the Morrigan was referenced and mocked, though that wasn't what (view spoiler)[killed him (hide spoiler)] in the first book at all. Likewise I lost count of how many times certain parts of his (view spoiler)[new (hide spoiler)] anatomy were described, mocked, and alluded to in general in spite of it having absolutely no bearing on the plot of the book or his character at all.
The essential plot of the book is as follows. Death, for some reason never entirely described, no longer works the way it is meant to. The Big Death (referred to as the Luminatus) no longer exists, so self-described Death Merchants, arbitrarily chosen by some unseen force, need to collect the souls of the dead and resell them to the people who lack souls. This distribution process is actually interesting, and in A Dirty Job a number of the scenes of the dead passing were incredibly touching. Secondhand Souls spends next to no time exploring this process. Instead, it focuses upon the Forces of the Underworld - not identified really until about fifty pages from the end of the book - trying to rebel against the Death Merchants, possibly the Luminatus itself, for some undetermined reason. It really isn't gone into at all. Also, there are a lot of ghosts on the Golden Gate Bridge and they need help crossing over - but again, what could have been an interesting plot is underplayed and glossed over.
There are interesting plots, but very few are developed. Instead the book relies on juvenile humor, fairly racist stereotypes, and a whole lot of nothing to fill pages. The hellhounds are there, and then they aren't - why did they leave? It's pretty much never explained. People have abilities, lose them when it's convenient, and then may or may not get them back again. Characters that were together at the end of the last book have messy breakups between books... and that's referenced a heck of a lot for pretty much nothing to come of it. New characters are introduced, and then never mentioned again. It's a bit absurd.
The book was a mess. Sticking with the Golden Gate Bridge plot would have been enough for a full book, and a really good one at that, but even that entirely section was horrendous for the way it handled discussion of depression and what the characters went through. The humor, while filed under satire, was downright offensive and unbelievable rather than even remotely funny. I've mentioned in the previous review the problem with Christopher Moore and racial stereotypes that served nothing to advance his plots.
All of this having been said, if you liked A Dirty Job, chances are you will like this book. It's much of the same, with the exception of having a heck of a lot more plot thrown in though it becomes too scattered to really wrap up satisfyingly. If you didn't like A Dirty Job, this book will be an even greater disapoointment than the former.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Batman: Year One is commonly viewed among comic enthusiasts as being one of the best of the Batman titles. From it emerged the seminal idea that Batm Batman: Year One is commonly viewed among comic enthusiasts as being one of the best of the Batman titles. From it emerged the seminal idea that Batman could be something other than camp. He could be gritty, he could be dark, and perhaps most importantly - the Caped Crusader was no longer invincible simply by being the title character of these comics.
Like Watchmen, though I feel Watchmen has stood the test of time infinitely better, Batman: Year One suffers from having been the first of what now is an all too common take on superheros, and Batman in particular. It was iconic enough to become a trope, yet now it just seems tired. We've seen it all before, haven't we?
That isn't to say the comic isn't worth reading. It's a pleasant little mystery. The artwork is good, the writing decent. It focuses more on Gordon, which is a nice change from other Batman comics I've read. Batman is his old nearly invincible self. He seems more akin to a Sean Connery James Bond than the Bruce Wayne we're used to. While the bravado is a bit absurd - he goes skiing after being shot in the leg, really? That's how you recuperate? It's still a machismo that I have difficulty not finding charming. It's a good example, as other reviewers have said, of depicting manliness in a way that isn't directed towards strictly teenage boys. But a teenage boy would still enjoy this book. Listen to this, Michael Bay.
Expect the usual from Frank Miller here, bullets, booze, and broads. Expect prostitutes and enthusiastic fight scenes, corruption and cynicism. Expect noir style monologues that are the stuff that dreams are made of when it comes to Batman.
While tired, while overplayed, it's still a detective comic done right....more