August 30, 2016

Throwing myself into different worlds


I'm in the middle of quite a few series at the moment. The main reason for this is because I enjoy letting myself fall completely into different worlds where I can sit back and enjoy. (For example, I reread the entire Harry Potter series over the last month and it was a wildly indulgent and marvelous affair.) Yes, I have many books sent to me for review that I'm horribly behind on but sometimes I find myself somewhat burnt out by reading things that I haven't necessarily just picked up for the sheer heck of it. At first, I thought to do all of these in huge masterposts but since I'm in different places in each of these I thought I would do them each individually and see how that goes. :-)


Today's book is the beginning of a trilogy that was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. It's a collaborative process so each book has a different author and a somewhat different style of writing. Captain to Captain by Greg Cox opens up the Legacies series with the story of Captain April of the starship Enterprise on a mission to a planet called Usilde where things are not going well for the native inhabitants. An artifact is taken from the planet and is stowed onboard the Enterprise...but no one knows of it except Captain April and his first officer, Una. This secret is passed down from captain to captain until the reader reaches the present day Captain Kirk and Commander Spock. There's malevolent aliens, covert operations, and above all the exceptional crew of the NCC-1701. This is the setup book which explains exactly what the mysterious object is and what its used for as well as introducing us to a figure which rivals Spock for keeping calm in a harrowing situation. This is Star Trek sci-fi at its best. What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of such a magnificent show?!


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

August 26, 2016

For the shark lovers in your life

Thanks to a newly discovered YouTuber, Mercedes, I was made aware of what promised to be a very beautiful and interesting graphic novel by the name of Everything Is Teeth. Written by Evie Wyld and illustrated by Joe Sumner, this is the story of Evie's childhood obsession with sharks. It was the artwork that drew me in. Both cartoonish and realistic, the characters (most especially the sharks) seem to come to life with every turn of the page. The story follows her as she travels with her family to Australia to visit relatives and there her fascination with sharks truly blossoms. It's a rather surreal portrayal of a little girl who seems to live in a world which is invisible to all others. As she walks down the sidewalk to school what follows along in her wake? A shark. As she lounges on the couch why must she keep her legs from touching the floor? A shark. It's bizarre and at times slightly disjointed. I'm still not entirely sure I understood her relationship with her family or what exactly was going on with her brother. Maybe that's the point? I'd say this book is worth looking into for the artwork (not the cartoonish bits which I didn't really like as much) alone. However, I must caution that there are some rather gory bits if that's not your cup of tea. 😈


The cover

The inside cover

An example of the cartoonish mixed with realistic

Probably my favorite page

This is the mildest of the gore


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **



August 23, 2016

Aspidistra sounds like the name of an alien

Since it's been awhile since I read a classic, I thought I'd give Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell a shot. It kept cropping up on my radar and the name alone had me quite intrigued. I went into this blind...even to the extent that I didn't look to see what the heck an Aspidistra was. (I know now though and saw it mentioned fleetingly in Harry Potter so it's definitely super British-y.) For someone who is a huge fan of 1984, this book fell pretty flat. The book follows a man by the name of Gordon Comstock who fancies himself a poet but in reality is little more than a poor bookshop assistant. Right off the bat, I felt that Gordon had 0% likability and his actions made no sense to me whatsoever. At one point, I decided to look up what other people thought of this book because it has a decent rating on Goodreads. Everyone seemed to think that this was a profound story about the struggle against commercialism and "the Man". What I see is the story of a man who is self-destructive, self-absorbed, and annoying. He is constantly picking apart everyone and everything around him in terms of its inherent value to society (there's a really long bit about advertising on different food products which was bizarre). Bottom line: this one wasn't a winner for me. I won't completely discount Mr. Orwell though. I'm sure I'll give him another shot in the future. :-) Also, I'm sorry that this is the second negative review in a row. Sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles. 1/10

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **



August 19, 2016

If this was Shark Week I'd be super relevant

The following book was kindly sent to me by the author, Matthew Danza, who requested a review.

I'm going to come right out and say that I didn't care for The Fin. I can see why some people would enjoy it but this just wasn't the book for me. There's a lot of teenage angst combined with gore which sounds like a good time but I felt like it didn't really go anywhere. The story follows Lee, an annoying and obnoxious teenager, living on a small island with her twin brother James and her father. (There's a secondary storyline about her estrangement with her mother which was awkwardly included but ultimately went nowhere.) Her good friend (who obviously likes her and who she likes back) is named Adam and he rounds out the main cast of characters. Based on the title of this book and the cover art, it's obvious that this is a story about a shark attack. Firstly, I felt the storyline was excruciatingly slow especially for a novella. Also, totally predictable. (And I think the author was going for a Jaws homage but it felt super forced and corny to me.) The only good thing about this book was that it was mercifully short. I think that the author was trying to do too much for the length of a novella. This was a 1/10 for me.

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

August 16, 2016

5 for 1 Special: Roald Dahl Edition

I don't think I've spent nearly enough time waxing poetic about one of my all-time favorite authors so that's what today's post is all about. Roald Dahl was introduced to me by my best friend roughly 15 years ago. You might know him best as the author of Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and James and the Giant Peach. I mention these because the film adaptations are fairly popular (as they should be because they're excellent). Today I'm going to discuss 5 more that you may or may not have heard of and which I binge read quite recently.


The Twits is the story of two horrible, nasty individuals by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Twit. Their favorite occupation (besides being absolutely horrendous in increasingly vile ways to one another) is to torment their 4 trained monkeys and the birds which roost in their tree. As with most of Dahl's writing, there is a most satisfying conclusion at the end of this book which I just can't in good conscience spoil. Just know that Mr. Dahl certainly doesn't shrink from ghastly topics. ;-)


The story of The Magic Finger begins with a little girl playing with her two friends, the Gregg brothers. These two little boys share a singular passion with their father: hunting. Despite the little girls repeated pleas for them to stop this beastly sport, they decide to go ahead with their plan to go duck hunting. The little girl is made so angry by this that she unleashes the power of her Magic Finger and the results are truly horrifying. Let's just say that they shouldn't have dismissed her advice as being for the birds.


Perhaps my favorite of the lot was The Minpins which is a large sized picture book with beautiful color illustrations. The artwork alone makes this a fantastic piece of children's literature. This was posthumously published and is very different from the other books which I've read by him (and illustrated by Patrick Benson instead of Quentin Blake). It is the story of Little Billy (a human child) who escapes from his family home into the woods where he has been expressly forbidden to enter. There he comes into contact with a ferocious beast...and tiny little people called the Minpins who live high up in the trees. A marvelous adventure unfolds among these disparate characters which is both beautifully told and fantastically illustrated. It's a must read.


Now The Great Mouse Plot is a true story from Dahl's childhood which had me equal parts chuckling and shocked. It is the story of a singular event which occurred when he was a little boy. He and a few of his friends from school decide to exact revenge against a nasty old lady that runs a sweets shop...and that's all you should know going into this one. Prepare yourself.
And finally The Vicar of Nibbleswicke which was written for the Dyslexia Institute in London. (Dahl and Blake donated their rights to the Institute and it was actually published after Dahl's death.) This is a quick little book about a vicar who just happens to be dyslexic. However, he has conquered the normal form of dyslexia and contracted a new (and fictional) type called Back-to-Front Dyslexia which causes much of what he says to come out backwards. Conversations with his new parishioners, sermons, etc all are said as almost complete gibberish. Much hilarity ensues.


And there's my rundown of 5 Roald Dahl books which you may or may have heard of but which you most definitely should read.


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

August 12, 2016

Fortuity

I'm not entirely sure why I haven't heard of Tor before but it's a fantastic website for fans of sci-fi and fantasy. They have tons of original fiction, art, and community discussions on topics related to these genres as well as those which influence them (I'm talking science, people). It's pretty excellent. (I'm not being sponsored by them. lol) Well, once I discovered the site it was pretty much all over for me. My first foray was into a piece of short fiction under the science fiction/alternate history heading titled A Dead Djinn in Cairo written by P. Djeli Clark and edited by Diana Pho. This follows the story of Fatma who works for the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities as a special investigator. She's called onto the scene of a grisly murder where she finds more questions than answers. Her investigation leads her to discover hidden plots, nefarious foes, and a giant timepiece (not a euphemism). Fatma is a hardcore female protagonist who makes no apologies for being the best at what she does. It's all the best elements of fantasy and sci-fi combined in a setting where one wouldn't necessarily expect to see female extraterrestrials kicking major butt. Oh and did I mention that there are angels? If you're interested in trying out sci-fi but you're not sure what particular niche you're into then Tor is a great place to check out. Maybe try A Dead Djinn in Cairo and see where that takes you. :-D As for me, this is a 10/10.

Illustrated by Kevin Hong (Source: tor.com)

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

August 9, 2016

We're all a little mad

Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly was a complete gamble. I saw it as a free download on my Kindle and I snatched it up on a whim. This is the true account of a young female reporter who lied her way into the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island in New York. Originally published as a series of articles in 1887, Ten Days in a Mad-House is shocking in its stark depiction of how 'insane' women are treated. Nellie describes women who are no more mentally deficient than she herself is (and once inside she asserted again and again her sanity and acted no different than she would had she her freedom). The horrific conditions of the facilities and the demoralizing treatment heaped upon them by the staff at the asylum were startling to say the least (and absolutely disgusting). After reading this small book, I decided to do a little research into Bly and discovered that beyond being an advocate for women's rights she was also an inventor and an adventurer. (She traveled around the world in a record-breaking 72 days!) This was a short little book that packed a big punch due to its subject matter and the passion with which Bly clearly had for improving the situation of those deemed 'mentally insane'. In those days, you could get rid of the unwanted women in your life by simply dropping them off at the asylum and saying they were 'crazy'. The vetting process was nearly nonexistent and any attempt to assert your sanity was dismissed offhand. I recommend this for anyone in the mood for a fast nonfiction book from a voice that is both intelligent and impassioned. 8/10


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **