January 24, 2015

Body snatching and the Shelleys

I'm guessing most of you have read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Have you ever wondered about the history of the author and how she came to write such a story before she'd even turned 20 years old? Well, if you didn't um...well you probably won't be interested in what I've just read. If you did, then hold onto your hats! The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo is the book for you! A large portion of the book is dedicated to the history of galvanism (electricity applied to muscles and its reactions) and the preoccupation of reanimation in the early 1800s. This fascination was not relegated to those in the sciences but also crossed over to the literary world as well. This is where the Shelleys come into play. Percy Bysshe Shelley, the poet, had an obsessive interest in galvanism and discussed this at length with his wife who had an equal interest in the subject and in particular, reanimation. Are you seeing where this is headed? The author discusses the history of the sciences while also delving into the marriage of these two iconic literary figures. I'd say the only thing this book was lacking was a more fleshed out appendix (remember I'm an uber nerd who actually reads these things). Other than that, I'd say this was an excellent book. It provided a lot of interesting information on an unfamiliar topic and I find myself wanting to learn more which is definitely the mark of a good book. :-)

In a move which no one could have anticipated, I've decided to read a vampire novel next. Let the Right One In is a Swedish novel by an author named John Ajvide Lindqvist. It has been adapted into two rather fantastic films (hence why I even know about this book). I'm hoping that it answers some questions that I had after seeing the films and I'm also hoping that I can come back with a favorable review for you guys! This isn't your typical vampire story, ya'll.  XD

January 1, 2015

2014 Book Roundup

It's that time again! I had a secret goal to read at least 50 books this year. I think I did alright. ;-)

  1. In the Shadow of Man
  2. Doctor Who: Beautiful Chaos
  3. Out of the Silent Planet
  4. Perelandra
  5. The Rubber Band
  6. The Red Box
  7. #zombie
  8. Hollow City
  9. The Spy
  10. How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity
  11. William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
  12. The Last Policeman
  13. Countdown City
  14. Devil's Acre: A Russian Novel
  15. That Hideous Strength
  16. I Am Scout
  17. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  18. The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
  19. D is for Dahl
  20. Doctor Who: Nightshade
  21. Danny, The Champion of the World
  22. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  23. The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss
  24. Room
  25. Death Comes to Pemberley
  26. Below Stairs
  27. World of Trouble
  28. Mary Poppins
  29. Eaarth
  30. Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age
  31. Booky Wook 2
  32. Dune
  33. The House of Special Purpose
  34. Brida
  35. In the Garden of Beasts
  36. The Seven Lives of John Murray: The Story of a Publishing Dynasty
  37. Curse of the Narrows
  38. Horrorstor
  39. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers
  40. The Imperfectionists
  41. The Bees
  42. The Orphan Master's Son
  43. Doctor Who: Enemies of War
  44. Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror
  45. Doctor Who: The Blood Cell
  46. Doctor Who: Silhouette
  47. Star Trek Into Darkness
  48. The Removers
  49. Operation Mincemeat
  50. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
  51. The Adventures of Ben Gunn
  52. Bridget Jones's Diary
  53. The Clocks
  54. Wasps' Nest
  55. The Sherlock Holmes Handbook
  56. Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead
  57. Revolution
  58. Girl Online
  59. Divergent
  60. Lights Out

December 31, 2014

2015 here I come! OR This blogger gets a little introspective.

(I seriously spend more time on my blog titles than the actual body of my posts sometimes and the above is the result of my diligent labor. I'm not even sorry about it.)

Beware! Soppy blogger notes ahead!!
When I first started this blog, I had a couple of goals in mind. The biggest was that I wanted to encourage reluctant readers to give reading another try. I thought that if I blogged about a variety of genres and used books both contemporary and 'dated' that I would appeal to a larger audience. I wanted to share my passion and enthusiasm for the written word in the hopes that it might inspire others into nerding out over literature. I had no idea that I would find the practice so rewarding or that I would look at it as a profession rather than a hobby. Yet here I am 3 years later reviewing books and loving it. My hope is that I have somewhat attained that big goal. I hope that some of you found your way here on a whim and decided to stick it out and read right along with me. For all I know, you guys have been reading the same books as me all along. (If so, please comment and tell me about it because I love reading your comments!) At any rate, I just wanted to say thanks SO much for reading the blog and I can't wait to continue this journey with you guys in the years ahead!

Oh yeah and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

December 26, 2014

Divergent, Insurgent, & Allegiant (+ Four)

Divergent pulled me right in. It pulled me in so far that I had to go out and pick up the sequel, Insurgent. So I decided that I would focus on the trilogy for a bit and just keep updating this post. I hope that works for you guys. :-)

So who knew that a utopian society could turn dystopian so quickly? Turns out that separating society into neat little factions doesn't solve all the problems of the world. In fact, trying to put people into neat little boxes creates an oppressive regime that is bound to spin out of control when members try to assert their individuality. The main character, Beatrice (or Tris if you will), is compelling and instantly relatable to the reader (at least to me she was). I found myself turning the pages as quickly as possible to find out if Tris could persevere and overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path. The end of Divergent created a need in me to explore more of this world that Veronica Roth crafted. I hope you guys will travel on this journey with me...unless of course you're not interested in young adult dystopian fiction then I guess you'd better wait around until I've finished this series. Either way, I'll be seeing you on the other side. :-)

I have to admit that this one took me a little longer to get completely swept away. This does not mean that this book was in any way inferior to the first. Actually, I think the problem was that I had an idea of where I thought the characters were going and it didn't quite jibe with Veronica Roth. :-P That being said, by the midpoint in the book I was hooked again. This book was darker than the first (believe it or not) because the fight is not just about factions but about secrets. Those in the highest level of government know a secret and Abnegation was prepared to tell the entire population...until Erudite decided that it was too dangerous. That's what prompted the fighting (and Jeanine Matthews wanting to wield control over everyone). The Divergent, in particular, are impacted by this information but we won't know exactly to what extent until the next book in the series. Here we go again!

This book brought a major change in formatting as the author started to alternate the narrative voices (if you're a longtime reader of the blog you know how I feel about this narrative device) between Tris and Tobias. Because I had grown accustomed to reading things from Tris's perspective it was difficult for me to get into the rhythm of Tobias. For the majority of the book, I wasn't fully convinced that Roth had a good grasp on his 'voice'. The reason for this shift in formatting became clear as the action of the story was divided between the two characters and to stay with Tris would mean missing out on half of the picture (which would have made it impossible to flesh out the ending of the series). This series reminds me of Harry Potter in that as the books continue the story becomes gradually darker and the maturity of the characters is accelerated due to some (or many) struggle(s). That should give you a hint as to how this series ended. I don't want to give it away but I will say that I charged through the ending hoping that I had somehow misread what had happened or that some kind of sci-fi scenario to occur which would then fix everything. Did it? Well, I guess you'll have to read Allegiant to find out.

In my review of Allegiant, I mentioned that at first I didn't feel Roth had a grasp on Tobias's 'voice'. I didn't feel that way after reading Four. Would it surprise you to learn that Divergent originally started out from his point of view?  Four is a collection of stories which helps to explain just how Tobias Eaton transformed from a lanky teenager in Abnegation grays that no one noticed to a Dauntless front runner who couldn't be forgotten. I, for one, really enjoyed this quick read (clearly as I finished it in one day) and I felt like it delivered exactly what Roth promised: a glimpse into the mind of a character that kept all his cards close to his vest. I especially liked seeing the scenes from Divergent with Tris through his eyes. If you're a fan of the Divergent series, I think this is worth picking up and giving a whirl.

A/N: I'm going to start fresh with the next blog post as I want to keep this one strictly about this series. I'll be posting that within the next week. :-D

December 15, 2014

Umm so young adult romance...I'm into it I guess? Wait, that came out wrong!

If you race home, drop everything, and immediate dive back into a book it's a pretty safe bet that you're 'into it'. Girl Online is one of those young adult novels that sucks you right in and makes you fall in love with the characters right off the bat. Penny is a completely believable character. This is an important point to make because in a lot of novels it's like the characters are too much if you get what I mean and it makes it difficult to put yourself in their place. It's not like that with Sugg's protagonist. I found myself alternately smiling from ear-to-ear and blinking back tears. It's exactly what being a teenager was like for me...except more English. lol The format of narrative interspersed with blog posts wasn't disruptive to the flow either which I appreciated. I predict that a lot of teenagers are going to be talking about this one (if they're not already). If I were you, teen, grownup, geriatric, android, I'd give this one a read. Oh and did I mention that Zoe is already working on a second book? I sure hope it's a sequel!!

Girl Online really put me in the mood for reading more young adult fiction so I'm finally picking up a book that I've had lingering on my shelf for quite a while: Divergent by Veronica Roth. I know what you're thinking, "Holy cow! You're just now reading this?!" I had meant to read this before the film came out earlier this year but other books called my name louder and...well I'm getting to it now, okay! From what I've gathered, this is like The Hunger Games meet The Giver...or did I totally just make that comparison up? Well, if it turns out to be true I'm totally giving myself a gold star. I'll let you know some of the bare bones in my next post. Until then, HAPPY READING!!

December 10, 2014

It's time for a change

There's a very good reason that it took me several weeks to finish up Russell Brand's newest book. When you read a book that questions the very fabric of reality which you have been indoctrinated into...well it takes a bit to let it all sink in. What can I say about Revolution except that it was utterly brilliant? It's clear from the opening pages that Brand is passionate about the topic of change on a global level. The book focuses on environmental and economic change which can only occur if our current system is overthrown completely. He makes several valid points and backs it up with solid data. The only problem I really had with Revolution is that there was no index (which anyone who is a nonfiction guzzler will say is a big no-no). It won't be difficult to verify the facts but it does lend firing power to anyone who seeks to argue the credibility of the work. He doesn't pull any punches (when does he?) and I think for a work such as this you can't if you sincerely want people to rise up and unite. So basically I think you should all give this book a read. It will make you think about the current system we have in place and make you question why we accept it knowing that it's faulty.

For a complete change of pace, I'm next going to read Zoe Sugg's debut novel, Girl Online. This book is written in a blog style format as its protagonist is a blogger who shares her deepest fears, feelings, and future hopes with strangers online while maintaining a pretense with those she interacts with on a daily basis. I'd say the work is semi-autobiographical as Zoe herself started out as a blogger and like her character she suffers from panic attacks. I've been hearing a lot of mixed reviews on this one so I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible with my thoughts on it. :-)

November 20, 2014

Here we go again!

Ah the satisfaction of finishing up a book right on schedule! I'm flying out of NYC tomorrow and I had planned on a particular book for the flight and it's working out excellently. XD

Lily Dale: The Town that Talks to the Dead wasn't quite what I expected (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). As the author is a former journalist, I expected heaping loads of skepticism.There was a fair amount but there were also fleeting moments of unchecked belief. More questions were raised than actually answered which I believe is the point. Spiritualism (the main topic of this book besides the town itself) can not be definitively proven (what religion can beyond a shadow of a doubt? that's why faith exists...) and yet the people in this town have an unshakable belief. While immersing herself in their customs, Wicker observed and participated in events that she could not explain through rational means. Was this spirits communicating beyond the grave? Were these people really capable of reading a person's future? Is it all a big crock of bull? Or is there something else going on here? If you're intrigued by the supernatural and/or want to learn more about a religion that has been popular since the 1800s then this is probably the book for you.

And now to the book that I've been saving for my trip. I'm delving back into the genius mind of Russell Brand with his newest book, Revolution. If you're at all familiar with Russell then you'll know that he's very politically and socially minded. He stays abreast of current issues (anyone watch his YouTube series Trews?) and has an opinion on virtually everything. This book highlights his plan for a new kind of society in which the people are truly in control and The Man is just a distant memory from the past. I have no doubt this is going to be quite a ride.