Category Archives: reviews

Kindred by Octavia Butler

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Science Fiction and Historical Fiction are both genres that I’ve always enjoyed but never become super invested in. I really like what I’ve read, but I won’t become obsessed with the genre and dedicate myself to 20-book world-building sci-fi series. So when I was reading a profile about Octavia Butler and her book Kindred, I was immediately interested. A one-off about a woman from the 70s who is transported through time and space to a slave plantation in the 1800s? That sounds amazing!

And it was.

I don’t want to spoil a lot. But I will say this is a great look at a lot of different aspects of America’s history pertaining to slavery. It shows different peoples’ perspectives of the time, and shows how people can become accustomed to just about anything if they need to do so to survive. It also shows how book-knowledge of a subject doesn’t necessarily translate to a real-world understanding. It questions judgements that people make about people in certain situations. It also highlights the dangers of going back in time for anyone who isn’t a white man.

Just a note, some people qualify this as science fiction, because that is largely what Butler wrote. She argued with that designation, because it has very little science in it. But it does involve (unexplained) time travel, so I would probably consider it at least of interest to those who like science fiction- as not all science fiction explains the science necessary for the fiction to happen.

Overall, this was a great book and I will definitely be reading more of Butler’s work.

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Review: The Bullies of Wall Street

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In my massive accumulation of books when Hastings closed, I found an interesting book called “The Bullies of Wall Street: This is How Greed Messed up Our Economy”by Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC.

I grabbed this without really looking into it, because I have my own opinions on our economy and I wanted to see an expert’s perspective. I didn’t realize this is a children’s book, meant to explain the economic collapse of 2009 (and surrounding years) to kids.

Overall, I think this book does a great job of introducing kids to financial terms and concepts. The first section shows fictional anecdotes of how children and their families were affected by the collapse, and then explains the economical factors that led to their situations. All of these stories have a happy ending, which I thought was unnecessary, but I understand why that choice was made.

The section of the book I enjoyed the most was where Bair talks about her time as head of the FDIC. She explains several key positions and entities, as well as how parts of the legislative process works. This is definitely written with her opinions as the main bias, but I feel she stays pretty neutral about many things. She talks about how she disagreed with certain people and policies, but also saw some reasoning in what they did. She also explains that a lot of differences stem from priorities. She felt the FDIC needed to protect consumers, while others felt that protecting banks would lead to better outcomes for consumers. I remember some of the bank buyouts she refers to and it was very interesting to find out more information about the behind-the-scenes happenings.

I think this book would be great for educating kids and refreshing adults on many financial and economic concepts. I didn’t learn a lot of new information in terms of broad knowledge, but I did learn some things about specific banks and government officials that I didn’t know. I thought this was informative and interesting, while being a very easy, accessible read.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Gunslinger cover

 

I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King. I own a lot of his books, as my husband’s mom buys them for us all the time, but both of us have only read a few. I’ve read On Writing and The Shining, and now The Gunslinger.

The Gunslinger is the first book in King’s Darktower Series. I think this is the closest King ever really gets to sci-fi. King intended Darktower to be an epic, his magnum opus, and it certainly is impressive in scope.

This first book does not explain a lot about the world it takes place in, but it does give the reader enough information so that they’re not confused. It’s a great beginning, and it really does just set the stage for the rest of the books. I’ve heard that the first 4 books are the best, so I will definitely be reading all of those, but I don’t know yet whether I’ll finish the series, which I’ve heard drags on a bit in the later books.

They’re making a Gunslinger movie, and I really wish they were making a miniseries instead. The sections of the book are really each their own scene, each of which would make a great episode of its own in a series.

King sets the scene really well visually, and characterizes Roland really well while still keeping a lot of details in the dark. I read the original version, but I would probably recommend reading King’s edited version, where he fixed a few inconsistencies. The world the book takes place in has some references to our own, especially in the form of Beatles songs, but technology is very different and for the most part lacking. There is also a bit of magic and some references to gods/supernatural beings. For the most part, this book shows us this world, but none of the “why things are the way they are”. I imagine much of that will come later.

If you like fantasy and you haven’t read The Darktower series, I would definitely recommend checking it out, as it’s really engaging and interesting.

Psycho Beach Party

Psycho Beach PartyMy boyfriend has a tendency to make up fake titles for movies, usually fictional sequels such as “Hellraiser 7: Return to Party Beach” or “Freddy vs. Jason: Return to Party Beach” Notice a theme here? There’s 3. Bad movies- horror- party beach.

So when I was looking up Nicholas Brendon from Buffy the Vampire slayer (He was arrested at Boise’s Comic Con, and I was prompted to see what else he’d been in), and I found “Psycho Beach Party” I knew we had to watch it.

Psycho Beach Party was made in 2000, but it spoofs 60 horror films. It starts out at a drive-in movie, and keeps the kitschy horror theme throughout. It’s predictable, but does throw a lot of curves at the audience. Pretty much every character is under suspicion at one point or another for the mysterious murders that take place.

This is definitely a silly movie, and best enjoyed while tipsy. It has a female cop played by a man, a bitchy girl in a wheelchair, and of course, lots of surfer guys without their shirts on. It makes fun of pretty much every culture or subculture represented, and is an all around good time,

If you’ve seen it or don’t mind spoilers, read on. If not, Thanks for reading, and if you like to laugh at campy movies, your should check this one out! Read the rest of this entry

Ernest Saves Christmas

Ernest Saves Christmas I’ve decided I want to do more reviews and critiques, since I really enjoy writing them. So you’ll be seeing more posts about music, movies, and books that I’ve experienced lately.

I didn’t watch a ton of Christmas films this year, but I did see a couple. My boyfriend couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen “Ernest Saves Christmas”, (or any of the Ernest movies for that matter), so when we saw it was on Netflix, I knew we’d end up watching it.

For those of you not not familiar with the Ernest movies, Ernest (played by Jim Varney) is a doofy, clumsy guy, probably in his thirties, who doesn’t seem to have a clue. He has a “friend”, Vern, who he well-meaningly harasses all the time, destroying his house trying to decorate for Christmas. You know, all the things real friends do. Vern’s perspective is always just the camera watching Ernest’s antics, and trying to push him out of the house. Read the rest of this entry

Of Blade and Valor

Of Blade and Valor Cover

The Cover to “Of Blade and Valor”, Cheryl Alleway’s new release

In the midst of war torn Scotland, a baby girl is born to Jacob Douglas and his young wife. The conflict between the English and the Scots breeds trials of loyalty that tarnish the landscape, while Jacob teaches his strong-willed child the skills she will need to face her uncertain future. Behind the veil of war, villains pillage their land, pilfer what is not theirs and do not fear retribution for their deeds. There is none strong enough to make a stand; no one, until Deb Douglas. Keeping her father close to her always, he radiates a courage that motivates her fight for freedom, for love, and for her land. Deb rallies those she meets to join her cause, which frees the secrets from her past that have been buried for many years. While destiny is all-knowing, Deb never backs down and faces it all with the courage of a man and the heart of a Scot!

I’ve always loved to read, as long as I can remember. When I was four years old I would wake up before my parents on Saturday mornings (that stopped as I got older), and get out my Dr. Seuss books and “read” them. I knew some of the words, but mostly I just knew the stories by heart because I made other people read them to me so often. Read the rest of this entry

Destruction Myth

A while back, I made a goal to read all the books in my possession that I have started, but not finished. As can be expected by my past track record with goals, I have not gotten very far. This weekend, however, I finished one of them.

I borrowed “Destruction Myth” from a friend on New Year’s Day this year. Took me long enough to finish it, right? This friend is an English Major and we always have fun talking about the books that we’ve read in classes. “Destruction Myth” was assigned for one of his poetry classes. It is a collection a poems by Mathias Svalina. Each poem is a creation myth, except for the last one, which is a bunch of destruction myths compiled into what I will call a segmented poem. Read the rest of this entry

Shakespeare, Undead

So, as promised, I am now going to talk about Shakespeare, Undead. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The back is not descriptive at all, so I only knew that it involved Shakespeare and Zombies.

It turns out that Shakespeare is a Necromancer/Vampire who falls in love with a Zombie Hunter who has no clue he’s undead. The playwright is haunted by the ghosts of people from his past, who he gets rid of by writing their stories as plays.

There are a lot of cheesy moments, and I wasn’t sure I’d get through the first couple chapters, but I surprisingly became attached to the characters quite quickly. I love the references to Shakespeare’s plays, though some seem a bit too overt. There are also some fun nods to Shakespeare’s influence on contemporary pop culture, referencing the wizard of oz, the sixth sense, and Star Wars.

It is clear that the author took a class on Shakespeare or two. There are plenty of nods to Shakespeare’s association with Christopher Marlowe, the inconsistencies with the educated playwright and the man from Stratford Upon Avon, and even Queen Elizabeth.

This was a fun, lighthearted read with some neat twists, a couple fun sex scenes and enough irreverent humor that Shakespeare would probably approve. I may be becoming a Zombie literature fan. I don’t know what will become of me.

Zombies!

My very good friend Beth who has just moved back into town has an obsession with zombies. She is not only prepared for the Zombie apocalypse; she is looking forward to it. This makes her really easy to get presents for. Zombie Apocalypse survival kits, pretty much any functional item that has been covered in decomposing limbs, no problem.

Since Beth is also obsessed with books, I have made it a point for the past few years to get her books about Zombies. First was the Zombie Haiku Book. Then Zombies vs. Unicorns. The latest is Shakespeare, Undead.

Somewhere between Zombie Haiku and Zombie vs. Unicorns, Beth and I had made a deal. She would finally read Pride and Prejudice (which I enjoy, though I do like the Colin Firth movie better) and I would read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Both of us kept our convictions about which was better. I did come out with a larger appreciation for zombie stories though, whereas Beth’s opinion of classic literature (yawn) did not change. Read the rest of this entry

Fly Away Home

I go on movie buying binges quite a bit, especially when used dvd stores have deals. $2-$5 dvds? sign me up for 6. and then 5 more next week.

I’ve had at least three quite significant movie binges in the past few months. And of course I haven’t gotten around to watching most of them. But I was sick on Thursday and decided to sit down and watch “Fly Away Home”, since I’ve been wanting to watch it ever since I bought it. Read the rest of this entry