I have a weird fascination with creature features, particularly movies. Whenever SyFy is coming with a weird new movie – Sharktopus, Sharknado, PiranhI have a weird fascination with creature features, particularly movies. Whenever SyFy is coming with a weird new movie – Sharktopus, Sharknado, Piranhaconda, etc. – I’m there to watch it, much to my family’s annoyance.
Once in a while I like to let my hair down with a creature feature book. Most of the ones I’ve read have been bad. Not to say I watch/read creature features for a good story, but at least I want to be entertained. They have to be a good bad movie or book. But most of them are just bad bad.
Dinosaur Lake, narrated by the Chief Park Ranger at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, who discovers there just might be something prehistoric living in the lake, falls just on the edge of bad bad. It wasn’t as bad as some I’ve read but I guess that’s not saying too much. To illustrate, I’ll leave you with the few notes I took as I read this story:
* Let the typos and errors begin! * Weird stuff - who says "I’ll Federal Express some books" instead of just using “FedEx”?? * And the main character is supposed to be from NYC and he's been in Oregon less than 10 years and he sounds like he's from some small town?? [a little later] Oh wait, EVERYONE, no matter where they’re from, basically sounds like they’re from some small town if the narrator likes them. * "He knew she suspected he was up to something, but being the good wife that she was, she didn't question him further." Gross. * In one scene the narrator puts his hand on his gun as comfort. Then a couple pages later, he's apparently not been comfortable carrying a gun for the past 10 years. * The author learned a big word, anachronism, and decided to show everyone how much she knew this big word by using it a million times. * Oh great, now we have an X-files type agent who believes in "evil in nature." Can I roll my eyes any harder? * Within a few weeks, this guy is ready to propose to the ranger's daughter? The 33-year-old to the 20-year-old? Apparently he never believed in love at first sight till until he met the daughter. Why am I reading this? * (view spoiler)[Aaand the moment the old man says he's shutting down the paper, retiring, and possibly moving to LA to live with his son, you know he's getting chomped. [at of the book] Well, that’s a trope that didn’t come true! (hide spoiler)] * SERIOUSLY?!? (view spoiler)[The wife decides to sneak into the park after all she's heard from her husband?? All the death and gore? This is such a Syfy-esque creature feature book with dumb decisions and all. (hide spoiler)] * Now all of a sudden it becomes a nautical tale, with the author throwing in words like astern and aft. Jesus Christ. * "Don't worry so." Who the hell talks like that?? No one except in this book. * "The young always had to have their music." I don't even know what this is anymore. * "The four men talked among themselves, of things only men liked to talk about." Not enough eye-rolling emojis for this and I won't even bother with the grammar.
There you have it. Final rating: 2.5 stars (mostly because I’ve ready some doozies to which I gave 2 stars, so I had to rate this slightly higher).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Despite this being a post-apocalyptic story, a genre I tend to enjoy, I avoided reading it for a long time because I thought it was going to some supeDespite this being a post-apocalyptic story, a genre I tend to enjoy, I avoided reading it for a long time because I thought it was going to some super Shakespeare-heavy book. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, maybe the whole thing written in Shakespearian English? Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Short version of the story: the world goes to hell after a new type of virus kills off most of humankind. We see the world, both before and after, through the eyes of various characters. At first the shifting timelines were confusing, but I got used to it pretty quickly.
If I had to pick, I’d say the main character of the book is Kirsten, a young woman who’s part of the Traveling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors that travel around between small towns (really just small groups of people), performing music and Shakespeare’s plays. Their motto, taken from Star Trek, is: “Because survival is insufficient.” I love this. It’s not enough just to survive – you have to live, you have to have some meaning, some point, to your life. This theme is suffused throughout the entire book, even in the parts that happened before the world ended (even in the negative parts). And I’m just beginning to realize that as I type this review.
And here is my favorite quote, which is probably not a surprise to people who know me (and why I tend to enjoy post-apocalyptic stories): The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?
For a better, more in-depth review, I suggest you check out Karen’s here....more
I originally read this as an ebook so I waited till I saw the physical book to review it. I’ve found that any book that involves art incorporated in aI originally read this as an ebook so I waited till I saw the physical book to review it. I’ve found that any book that involves art incorporated in any way always works better as a physical book than the ebook version. This was certainly true here though this worked better in ebook than other art/illustration books I've come across because a large part is text.
This was a cute story of a lost cat that turns up again after a couple months (weeks?) and the lengths his owner (and her girlfriend) went to figuring out what had happened to the cat during the time he’d been gone. It turns out to be more than just the story of the cat. And of course, Wendy MacNaughton’s illustrations are great, as always.
I think this cliched quote sums it up: If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with....more
I was really excited when I first heard about this book – I’ve been fascinated with the Farallon Islands myself for a while. I first learned about theI was really excited when I first heard about this book – I’ve been fascinated with the Farallon Islands myself for a while. I first learned about them from Susan Casey's book, The Devil's Teeth. Then when I was living in San Francisco, I finally got to go out and visit (on a boat). The islands have this air of mystery and are almost always surrounded by gray skies and fog, and I was excited to photograph that, but the day I went, we were greeted by the most unusual, calmest seas and bright sunshine.
The book is about Miranda, a nature photographer who goes to the Farallon Islands for a year for personal photography project. She lives in a small house that’s occupied by 6 other people – biologists and one intern. A couple months into her project, she’s assaulted by someone and the story depicts the events that follow.
From my initial understanding, the book was obviously a mystery but was supposed to be infused with nature writing. It delivered on that but unfortunately, some of the facts that were presented weren’t quite accurate. For example, humpback whales do not have lasting mates nor do they follow a strong leader. And her characterization of some animals, like the octopus and whales as “monstrous” seemed quite off for someone who was supposed to be a nature photographer and had been doing that work for a while. I was also annoyed by this description of humpback whales: “There is something inartistic about their bodies, too. […] Even the babies aren’t photogenic.”
Say what?! Again, coming from someone who’s supposed to be a nature photographer, this just doesn’t sound right. Tell me these photos are of something “inartistic.”
Anyway… The story was fine, it was entertaining, but the thing that really just annoyed me was the amount of incidents that happened in the short time that Miranda is on the island crosses the line into unbelievable. Some of it made sense but then some of it crossed over into sensational and ridiculous. So I had to knock off some stars.
I know this was meant to be satire and the characters are supposed to be over-the-top but... It was just too much for me. I couldn't look past the facI know this was meant to be satire and the characters are supposed to be over-the-top but... It was just too much for me. I couldn't look past the fact that these were basically caricatures - they were like real people to me and I couldn't stand a single person in this book....more
Ugh, 2015. In most other ways, 2015 was a great year. I moved to a new city, started a new job in non-profit, and had awesome adventures. Unfortunatel
Ugh, 2015. In most other ways, 2015 was a great year. I moved to a new city, started a new job in non-profit, and had awesome adventures. Unfortunately, all that had a negative impact on my book reading for the year.
My goal, as it has been the past few years, was 50 books. A few months before the end of the year, I knew there was no way I would make it, so I changed it to 40. Then maybe a month or month and a half ago, it went down again to 30. Alas, a few days ago even that goal was going to be tight. And on NYE, I changed the goal again to 25 (because I hate to see the goal not met - I know that's cheating but I don't care). Sigh.
If magazine/online articles counted for pages read, I'd have blown through that pages read number to include a bunch more books, considering the average page count per book I read this year was 250.
I've set the goal for this year and it's back to 50. Fingers crossed!...more
You may have seen some of Sarah Andersen’s comics if you’ve been on Tumblr. Really cute, funny book of comics about being an adult. Or more accuratelyYou may have seen some of Sarah Andersen’s comics if you’ve been on Tumblr. Really cute, funny book of comics about being an adult. Or more accurately, starting out in the adult world. Someone recently out of college and starting to work would probably relate the most with most of these, but there were definitely a few that were right up my alley.
I think the overall point is that there’s no right way to be an adult, despite what many “real adults”, self-help books, or online articles may have you believe.
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Rating: Hovering between 1-2 stars. This book made me so mad. Mad that I wasted my precious reading time on it.
I've been in the corporate world for yeaRating: Hovering between 1-2 stars. This book made me so mad. Mad that I wasted my precious reading time on it.
I've been in the corporate world for years but earlier this year, I joined a non-profit. Life has been very different ever since — it's been interesting and fun and, well, different. My own story was what got me interested in this book, as the author also started out in the corporate world then went into non-profit, albeit via a very different path than my own. So I decided to check it out, thanks to NetGalley’s ‘Read Now’ option.
Chong joined the World Wildlife Fund’s international organization as an executive in the finance group. But as he mentioned in the ‘About’ section, this book was supposed to be about his non-financial experiences: the people he met, the things he saw, what he experienced.
As I began reading, it was clear that Chong is not a writer – everything is written in a simple this-happened-then-that-happened-and-after-that-something-else-happenened sort of way. It’s the events without the emotions. It’s telling me instead of showing me. I think he really could have benefited from a co-writer to make this more interesting.
As I went on, this just got me more and more frustrated, especially as I started to realize that this book was filled – filled! – with inane details. He goes on at length about fancy restaurants and dinner clubs he’s eaten at, utterly bland conversations with his assistants, and the list goes on. I read this as an ebook so I have notes such as: “Riveting,” “Fascinating,” “Thanks for this crucial information,” etc.
For example, this fascinating piece of information that I really needed to know:
The appointed day arrived and on to Geneva’s old town we headed. I drove to Geneva and parked near the luncheon club. Leaving the vehicle, we walked the rest of the way. Upon arrival I rang the doorbell and a woman let us in. We ascended the stairs to reach the first floor of the restaurant-club. We entered one of the private dining rooms.
And this riveting bit:
The invitees streamed into the reception area. We sipped cocktails and mingled. At the appointed time, we were asked to move to an adjoining room for dinner. To locate our assigned table, Lin and I consulted a large board on which were pinned a listing of names and detailed table plans. Eventually, we and everyone else, found our seats.
For the most part, I found a lot of the stories just not that interesting. Don’t get me wrong, there were tidbits that were interesting (getting lost in Buckingham Palace!) or were on the way to being interesting. But either he didn’t explore those, or they turned into the driest and most boring anecdotes ever in how he told them.
Also, though he started off saying these were not anecdotes about his financial/fundraising dealings, there were a couple of bits about that and I would have actually liked to hear more about that aspect of his time at WWF. And not just in 2-minute drive-by anecdotes, but longer-term, how it happened over time style stories. It could have been really interesting had he gone into more detail and approached with more forethought.
That was how I felt about the whole book. It was like a bunch of boring journal entries, many of which didn’t even touch on the interesting parts of working at a non-profit.
And to be frank, I felt that Chong was way more interested in telling us about himself than anything having to do with WWF. There were multiple stories that were barely tangentially related to WWF. Sure, it's a memoir and the author can say whatever he wants, right? But it's sold as a book about his experiences working at WWF so all this succeeded in doing was making me mad. A whole “chapter” on how he met some watch journalists, invited himself into their private chauffeured ride, and they asked him about his watch?! That was it. That was the point of the “chapter.”
The final straw (there were so many straws but I had to keep reading since I was reviewing this book) came towards the end of the book. Chapter 69, literally called Turkish Delights, was about a WWF dinner held in Turkey, during which there was a belly dancer as entertainment (yeah) and she pulls someone from the WWF group up for a personal dance as everyone watches (yup). Tell me more about how environmental non-profits have been an old boys club!
I usually try not to judge other reviews of books I’ve read but in this case, I've seen nothing less than 4-5 stars and glowing reviews and I'm wondering what they were reading – or even if they actually read it.
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a *brutally* honest review....more
I was looking forward to reading this book. It’s supposed to take place in post-apocalyptic near future California, after drougFinal rating: 2.5 stars
I was looking forward to reading this book. It’s supposed to take place in post-apocalyptic near future California, after droughts (caused by climate change) have devastated the region. A lot of people have been evacuated, but some remain. The main character, Luz, and her boyfriend are the ones we’re following. I imagined this might be similar to California, which I read earlier this year, but the book was very different.
The story started out interesting but the way it was written didn’t really appeal to me. But I kept following it, especially since I was reviewing it for NetGalley. But when they came across the child, that was really when it started to go downhill for me.
The storytelling is just not my style. It was really all over the place and there wasn’t a ton of stuff going on, more just full of lofty ideas that didn’t connect with me. I did like some of the ideas of the post-apocalyptic society that the author constructed but those weren’t really explored and I was left disappointed. I most likely wouldn’t have finished this if I weren’t planning to review it.
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
I can't remember when I first discovered Zen Pencils. Just like most other things I've discovered on the internet, the discovery is lost in the sandsI can't remember when I first discovered Zen Pencils. Just like most other things I've discovered on the internet, the discovery is lost in the sands of time.
But I really love the concept. Gavin Aung takes well-known (and not-so-well-known) quotes and turns them into short stories by illustrating them in comic form. The description of what he does is really simple but to actually see a quote being brought to life in a story is really awesome to see.
I haven't seen his first book but I imagine it takes a large portion of the work he posts on his site, plus new work, and brings it together into book form. This is similar. I would say this book is perfect as a present for a recent grad or just someone who needs inspiration to go out there and do the damn thing.