Category Archives: books

Ferguson Library

My apartment library. At least the living room part.This is a quick update and notice that Ferguson Library is open and serving the community in a way that only libraries can. They have volunteers, including teachers, to help with the education of the students of Ferguson, who cannot go to class because the schools closed preemptively. They are taking book and monetary donations, which provides a tangible way for people outside to offer even small assistance. Check their Twitter feed and their website for more information.

Yay! Libraries FTW!

Review: Batman / Superman #3.1: Doomsday

Batman / Superman #3.1: Doomsday
Batman / Superman #3.1: Doomsday by Greg Pak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t entirely sure how this issue fit into the Batman/Superman story that was in the process of being set up. I understand that it was part of a broader promotional move to have the villains crash the titles, but it happened at an odd moment in the arc in this new series. Issue 3 of a complicated story broke the overall narrative. As a stand-alone story, I thought it was interesting (and I hope it ultimately has some kind of pay-off); I just didn’t carer for its overall timing.

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Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved the story. I remember seeing the novel on the bookstore shelves not long after its publication, and I wanted to read it. Being a quite, not shy, watching person myself, any book that dealt with the people at ease on the edges of the crowd felt immediately comfortable.

But I put off reading the novel until earlier this October, more than a decade after I first held the book in my hands. And I’m glad I waited until I had grown up a little more. If I had read the story so close to my experience in high school, I would’ve completely missed all of the references to the numerous groups of like-minded lovers of all that life has to offer, like the Algonquin, and my enjoyment would’ve have been less.

And the space gave me some perspective on my own high school experience, which allowed me to connect with these complex characters. Charlie and Patrick and Sam come with a tremendous amount of baggage that, like real life, we only get to see parts of. As much as we learn about all of them through the course of the novel, we never get the complete story for any of them. We get the most important pieces of them, and no one gets to be completely good or bad or friend or enemy or pigeonholed into any one category. Even secondary characters do not get to be any one thing.

I cried through whole sections of this book because I recognized the pain of these characters in my own experience. They are damaged without being broken, and their efforts to keep from falling to pieces demonstrate ways to accept the entirety of their lives, from the great to the horrifying to the mundane to the sorrowful. Because life is all of these and more and becomes complete with the acceptance of its multifaceted nature.

I loved this story, but realize it is not for everyone, as it deals with very major topics. But for those who’ve always felt like they are alone on the edges, Charlie can be a friend to walk the path to connecting with others. And sometimes when you live on the edge, you need to see a way to live with others, and this novel can be that.

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Review: Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising
Phoenix Rising by Philippa Ballantine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed reading this novella. Fast-paced and engaging but not manipulative so I couldn’t stop for necessary tasks; it was the treat I needed to complete my to-do list in a timely fashion.

Strong female leads are hard to find, so I loved meeting Eliza in this story. And Welly provides a perfect counterpoint as they both keep secrets while working together. Both characters are strong, not just because they can handle weapons and brawls, or because they are both intelligent; they are strong because they know who they are and are comfortable with all the pieces that make them complete. I love when I find such complex characters.

The style reminded me of Cherie Priest, which is great, and could be more from my recent reading of Clementine and association of well-written strong female characters. And maybe it’s the genre feel for Steampunk mysteries. But if you’re a fan of one, I’d recommend the other.

I loved reading this story. I couldn’t give it 5 stars because there were some type-setting and proofing oversights that threw me out of the story several times. But I would really give ut more of a 4.5 star rating.

I hope there is more in this series with these characters! I would love to go on another adventure with them!

There are also a few scenes that would make me hesitate to hand this one off to just any kids, but if you read voraciously and in a wide variety, the moments probably won’t be too noticeable.

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Not a UK customer

Not a UK customerI frequent BoingBoing when I have some spare time, because they post articles that interest me. One of the last times I was there, they had Cory Doctorow‘s review of Heather Brooke‘s The Revolution will be Digitised.

His review intrigued me, so I followed the link to her site for the book. Where I realized that this is a book I should probably read because of its connection to my scholarly interests. So I take the next logical step to buy the book; I follow the link.

This sends me to Amazon’s UK store where they have print copies for a reasonable price, along with a Kindle version. (The UK store completely makes sense as both the author and reviewer reside in the UK.) I don’t particularly want to pay for UK shipping, so I check the US store. They only have copies from authorized sellers, and they are more expensive than the UK edition.

So I head back to the UK store, because I have the Kindle App on my phone, and decide to try a sample of the e-book, just to be sure I want to go through the exchange rate to ultimately purchase said edition.

And that’s where I hit the Catch-22 circular logic of frustration. Continue reading Not a UK customer

Heat Wave

Heat WaveHeat Wave, the first book in the Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle, is a pretty good read. It’s a mystery/thriller novel, and it fulfills the conventions and expectations. I would be surprised if this novel is studied outside of a marketing class, but it’s a fun, summer read.

The novel follows the basic outline of a mystery: meet characters, murder presented, suspects introduced, fake out, fake out, wrong turn, sad moment, character figures it out, reader figures out murder(if you haven’t been trying), murderer arrested.

And I love the characters, though I’m not sure if that’s because I hear the actors voices.

Because Heat Wave is a pretty fantastic marketing ploy to get people to spend more money on the shows. You see, Richard Castle is the lead character of ABC’s television show Castle. And it’s a pretty successful one as far as I can tell.

Richard Castle follows around Kate Beckett as inspiration for the title character of this books, Nikki Heat. Fans of the show now have 2 volumes in the series, both supposedly written over the summer breaks in the show.

It’s a great marketing ploy and makes for an entertaining read. And if the characters feel like they’re missing something, check out the show. It’s even better than the book!

The Books of Magic

The Books of MagicThe Books of Magic is an interesting trade paperback comic book. Written by Neil Gaiman with intriguing artwork from John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson, the story follows Tim Hunter as he learns about the existence of magic and faces a choice.

Some of the story felt a little old, but that could be due to the fact that I have read much of Neil Gaiman’s work, just not in publication order. The Books of Magic is a fun, quick read, safe for most anyone who is open to the idea of magic. Not necessarily written for kids, I would comfortably hand a copy to 12(ish)-year-old.

I have cross posted this from goodreads. There are spoilers. Continue reading The Books of Magic

Scott Sigler’s new short-story collection: Blood is Red

If you’ve read through much of this site, you’ll see that I love to read and have an obsession with authors. If you’ve missed that Scott Sigler is one of those authors, this post will bring you back into the loop.

Today, in honor of mothers, Scott Sigler released a new short story collection, Blood is Red. Filled with 8 short, horror stories, this new collection is a steal for less than $1 in the U.S. Amazon Kindle store.

Each story has a distinct voice and style. And each story in the collection reaches beyond the confines of horror into the heart of what makes a good story – some insight into life beyond the story. As with all of Scott Sigler’s other work, the depth and heart of the characters makes these stories.

Blood is Red also marks the first national/international publication I’ve edited. Reading the stories, and offering notes and suggestions was an interesting, and fun, experience. The most difficult part ended up being the frustrating lack of people to discuss the stories.

I’m most excited that now I can easily make everyone I know read “The Great Snipe Hunt.” Seriously, the story still kicks around in my head, making me jump whenever I’m walking down the alley behind work and papers rustle at the edge of my vision. (Thanks for that Scott)

Some of the stories are available in his podcast feed, if you want to check them out before you commit a dollar to him. But if you’re a fan of horror, Scott Sigler is a solid bet. Especially for less than a dollar.

Discussing Special Topics in Calamity Physics with teenagers 3

It’s been a couple of weeks because the students had mid-terms, scholarship applications, and then there was Spring Break. So this is a recap for around 3 weeks worth of discussion, which works out to be about an hour’s worth of actual conversation.

The students, for the most part, really enjoy the novel. The action has picked up (I mean there was a dead body in a swimming pool at the party they crashed), and the students are in.

What I’ve noticed most through the discussions are the numerous elements that need explaining. Not because the story is necessarily complicated, but because the story takes place predominantly on the East Coast and most of the students haven’t even made it to Northern California. The element that stood out this time around was the father/daughter relationship. Most of the students find Blue’s relationship with her dad a little creepy, but they understand why Blue would be so connected. It’s interesting seeing the father/daughter relationship through the eyes of students who either don’t know their father or don’t have a good relationship with him. It’s yet another aspect of the novel that they tend to react to as though the concept comes from Mars.

This week, hopefully, we’ll get to have more of a conversation. I’m trying to come up with more interesting questions that can be answered regardless of the number of chapters the students have read. We’ll see what the week holds.