Book Review – Hollow City

TITLE: Hollow City
AUTHOR: Ransom Riggs
PUBLISHED: 2013
FORMAT: Hardcover

Hollow City is the second book in the series that started with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (which I reviewed a couple months ago.  You can also find a review of the companion non-fiction book on BitB).  I’ll warn you now that if you didn’t read the first one, you may want to skip this review because there might be some things that spoil that for you.

So, my mistake, but important to note, the book takes over where the first one left off pretty much, and since a little bit of time had passed, there were a couple things said that I didn’t remember.  It’s totally a pet peeve of mine that they don’t bother telling us anything that would tie one book in from the other, especially when quite a bit of time has passed and when the books are meant to stand alone.

Hollow City starts off with the kids escaping their bombed out island and Jacob and company with the injured Miss Peregrine, taking her to find a ymbryne while running from hollowgast and the like.  Don’t forget that its 1940, they’re trying to get to London (remember your history, that’s not going to go well), and they have all kinds of people after them and causing trouble including talking/peculiar animals and a band of gypsies.  Some of these creatures/people end up being friend not foe, but there’s trouble everywhere.

So, not a lot happens in this book, but the way that the story is told makes it a worthwhile payout.  And I did like how it ended.  There’s a lot going on for not a lot going on (if that makes sense) but like I said, it read quickly and I didn’t feel like I wasted time reading this book (unlike, say, Divergent #2 or HP #2, which were total wastes of time).  It sets up nicely for the third book, which Ransom is already working on.

There’s not a lot I can say without spoilers, unfortunately.  I will tell you that the book is still gorgeous and interesting and it amazes me how well he does at all of this.  In a cool twist, when I read this book, I also got a letter in the mail with a random found photograph in it, and I had just googled where the antique shops were to start a collection of my own.

So, I guess it won’t surprise you when I rate this highly.  Read the first one, but then get this one, too.  4/5 pages.

Book Review – The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson

Title: The One Minute Manager

Author: Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson

Format:  Hardback

Written: 1981

Published:  2003

 

Along with QBQ!  My job gave me this book to read as well for my training seminar.  Though I reviewed QBQ first I’ll admit that I didn’t read it first but rather this book. I was anticipating a small instruction manual type of book but when I cracked open the spine I found myself surprised.  The book did not read like a text book or manual, this book read a bit like a story, which made for easy light reading.

 

Truth be told how this book presented its information was fantastic, I got through the 100-ish pages during my down time at work.  It took me less than half a day to read it between calls.  This little book presented a lot of great information in a quick and easy way to read.  It told the story of a young man who was looking for an effective manager and it showed his journey as he learned about the one minute manager.

 

I will admit the premise and story line of the book was a bit corny and I may not be fully sold on the concepts of the book but it was a nice refreshing breath to read versus some of the text books and manuals that I have had to slog my way through in the past.  So I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars for being so brief, concise and yet informative.  If one wants a quick read on management then this is a go to book as it does have some pretty good ideas.

Book Review – Hard Times on the Prarie

TITLE: Hard Times on the Prarie: A Little House chapter book
AUTHOR: ? (I’ll get to that…)
WRITTEN: ?  (I’ll get to that, too…)
ILLUSTRATOR: Renee Graef
PUBLISHED: 1998
FORMAT: Paperback

Um.

So, apparently this is yet another series written because older kids get to read something and why shouldn’t younger ones (nevermind that awesome kids stuff has never been edited up…).  *sigh*

And the book is crap.  It’s apparently a shortened/adapted version of some of the stuff in the actual Little House on the Prarie series, of which I was never a fan to begin with.  But it was retold for little kids, and somehow managed to lose all its substance.  Also, I have no clue who wrote it, since they’re acting like there’s no new author when you totally change something for a different age group, but there most certainly was one.

And the book was written at some point between the 30s and now for the same reasons.  Again, *sigh*

There are eight chapters.  The first five are standalone short stories.  Chapters six-eight are really one bigger story.  I wish they would have just marketed this book as short stories if they weren’t going to bother with transition from one to the other.

Also, every story is basically the same – some huge thing is going to come through and totally screw up their way of life, and they’re going to freak out and do something monumental to not die, and in the end, it doesn’t really matter because que sera or some such.

“Oh, you mean that there is a plague of bugs eating all our crops? Let’s rush to save them, give up, and then that’s the end of the story because we’re still alive and that’s good enough”

UGH.

This. Book. Sucks.  Also, it’s pretty pointless.  Just sayin’.  None of the stories have a true story arc, and the best developed character is the father, whose purpose is to not actually be around for most of these.

Just don’t even bother.  It’s not worth the paper its printed on.  1/5.

Book Review & Giveaway – Making Memories By Georgia Evans

Title: Making Memories
Author: Georgia Evans
Format: Paperback
Published: 2013

Two best friends from highschool reunite after four years of college and take a promised trip to Myrtle Beach. She’s skinny with big boobs, and he’s ripped. He insists they share hotel rooms so he can “protect” her, and the predictable happens. It probably would have happened by day three, but she’s convinced he’s engaged to his evil exgirlfriend Roxie despite the fact he’s not mentioned this Roxie in the past four years and the only person to spot them together said they were arguing.

Essentially Making Memories is a fluff romance, and to be fair, that’s not my preferred genre. But I’m here to try new things.

So first the good. Melanie (the protagonist) has a consistent narrative voice, and the relationship is believable enough. She’s almost believable as a ditzy friend telling you about a special vacation where she found “love”. The plot is simple and predictable, but it never boasts to be anything else, which is fine for a fluff romance. And a pair of identical twins pop up for the second half of the story… I’ve got a special soft spot for identical twins.

And now the bad. The book is every bit as exciting as your ditzy friend telling you about her AMAZING vacation which is far more interesting to her than you. You smile politely and fight a yawn, mainly enjoying the fact your friend had fun and wishing she didn’t spoil all her jokes by overplaying them.

I guess in a town with a population of five hundred (and an inexplicable number of highschoolers considering) it’s not so hard to set the curve, which is the only way this girl could have gotten enough scholarships to pay her way through college.

I’m well aware that book smart doesn’t necessarily mean people smart. Social cues aren’t easy for me either, but Melanie takes the prize for being oblivious. She keeps convincing herself that her best friend (who’s so obviously smitten with her, it doesn’t count as a spoiler) is in love with Roxie, who he never mentions and has excluded from this vacation, that she believes his making out with her is an accidental reflex…

The dialogue is almost entirely short, grammatically correct sentences, which comes off as rather stiff and unnatural. If you’re feeling generous, you could write this off as a narrative voice fitting a kindergarten teacher (a job Melanie will be starting post-vacation). But it’s easy reading romance, so I don’t expect Shakespeare. The shallow plot and transparent characters can be forgiven or at least explained by the nature of the genre.

What drops the story from a three to a two is the cringe worthy ethical aspects. Okay, I’m a prude, but at least the sex was summarized and mostly off screen. The glaring problem is the complete lack of self-respect Melanie has. Granted the evil ex had done a number on her self-confidence (four years ago in high school), but despite a long trail of clues, the guy kissing her multiple times, and getting moody and jealous if she so much as mentions another guy, she can’t conceive the possibility that he’s romantically interested in her.

She genuinely believes he’s engaged and in love with another girl but decides to have sex with him to just enjoy this special moment with her best guy friend. If she had very relaxed/open ideas about sex this would be one thing (though it still doesn’t excuse her deliberately participating in what she believes to be cheating), but the author goes to great lengths setting up how the pair think casual sex is immoral and getting mad at each other for the slight potential of a hook up. The first half of the book is dedicated to them assuring their families that they aren’t going to have sex on this trip. Even after having sex with him twice, she’s still convinced the guy couldn’t love her as more than a friend.

The author tries to plaster this over as okay. Because the other woman is really evil, and the guy really loves her. But it gave me the creeps, particularly with the author claiming this is YA appropriate. The last chapter and epilogue are practically a condom commercial, and I get the weird feeling this is supposed to show “healthy” sexual behavior since they’re using birth control and he asks five times if she really wants to have sex. But the failure of the characters to have any sort of clear relationship discussion before intercourse, and the protagonists’ willingness to give up their virginity to what they both believed to be a one-sided situation was not healthy, quite the opposite.

If I could ignore the ethical implications, I could maybe give this a three, but I don’t think we should have to ignore ethics entirely while reading, particularly when they’re internally inconsistent, so 2/5 is my final score.

 

The Giveaway:

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Georgia Evans has graciously offered to giveaway a paperback copy of Making Memories, so you can decide for yourself. For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post with your name, address, and where you would go on a vacation with your best friend by April 10th. (Comments are screened, so this won’t be public.)

Book Review: QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller

Title:  QBQ! The Question Behind the Question

Author:  John G. Miller

Format: Hardware

Published:  2001

 

In the midst of a busy life and busy schedule work decided to dictate a bit of my reading list in preparation for a training seminar that I was signed up to participate in.  One of the two books they sent me was QBQ.  It was a short little book and from my understanding is an abbreviation of a much longer more drawn out book.  The book talks all about personal accountability and how one should look to themselves when it comes to their problems and consider what they can do about the situation rather than pointing the fingers at other people about the problems.

 

Over all I think the book had a rather good message and a good idea.  It is something that in some ways I can understand and get behind but in other ways I am only half buying it.  It is true that if you look to what you can control and do rather than getting upset about what others are or aren’t doing your life will be happier but the book still wasn’t that great.

 

My main issue with the book was the formatting there was a lot of unneeded repetition and the chapters were so short that I hardly was able to keep up or follow along at times.  These chapters were short snippets of sometimes nothing more than a paragraph or two.  It drove me literally up the wall!  I can’t stand that! I wished the author had clumped things together made 12 solid chapters rather than 39 min chapters! (This is a 137 page book people!)  I wanted to scream and it was just not a pleasant read, but being the good child that I am, I do what I am told to do and read the whole book.  (In the end I would have been find not reading it but hey, it is a book review).

 

Over all I would give this book a 2 out of 5 pages with the remark that the full on book might be much better than this shortened version of it but then again it could be worse.  That is for you to determine on your own, as for me I’ve had enough QBQ between the book and my training that I feel I’m good to go and have a solid grasp on personal accountability.

Book Review – The Case of the Secret Santa

TITLE: Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Kids Super Snooper #1 – The Case of the Secret Santa
AUTHOR: Molly Mia Stewart
ILLUSTRATOR: Ying-Hwa Hu
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHED: 1990

 

Okay.  I read the Sweet Valley High series a bit, but Sweet Valley Twins always annoyed me because of the book where one of the sisters gets her period and the other one is mad that she doesn’t.  That book pretty much sucked and it was pretty much the point in which I quit reading any of the series whatsoever.   Apparently they went ahead and made a younger kids version as well, although I’m a little surprised to discover that Francine Pascal had nothing to do with it.  At least Ann M Martin pretended to write the Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister books even if she really didn’t.  But I am getting off topic.

I found this book in a free bin of books and I have to admit that I was a little curious, and when I wanted something mindless to read for a few minutes, I decided to give 30 minutes of my life to it.

So.

In this story, Jessica, Elizabeth, and a bunch of their friends have decided to start a detective club for something to do over Christmas break.  After deciding on a secret handshake and electing who else but the twins as co-presidents, they start looking for a mystery to solve.  Their mystery comes in the form of the temporary janitor, Chris.  Jessica thinks he’s Santa.  Elizabeth thinks she’s full of it because Santa isn’t even real, and even if he was, why would he be a janitor.

Okay, then.

So, issues with the book.  Even moreso in this book than in the main series, since it revolves so much around Jessica and Elizabeth, their friends are almost pointless to the story; Jessica finds every clue herself, for instance.  The is Santa real or not thing was pretty much annoying, as the author was clearly trying to not at all touch on that, even though it was a book about whether or not somebody was Santa.

And I can’t even tell you how many things happened in this book that would never have happened in a real setting – like the kids leaving the playground during recess to go all over the building repeatedly.  Seriously.

Oh, and after a couple pages of forming this club for over-Christmas purposes, they solved the mystery before school let out for the year.  And the ending was a bit cliche, but I won’t give it away.

 

So, the book is RL2, which means 7-year-olds, and I know that explains a lot (like why you can write a book about whether or not Santa is real and never bother answering the question either way), but it doesn’t forgive some of the things that I’m complaining about.  The book isn’t that long, and the author couldn’t manage to explain time of day or point in school year with any level of clarity, for instance.

I suppose the book is appropriate for the age group, but I really think that the book could have still managed to be well-written.  So, 3/5 pages, I guess.  But there’s better stuff out there for this age group.

Book Review – World War Hulk: X-Men

Title:  World War Hulk: X-Men

Author:  Christos Gage, Robert Kirkman, Dan Slott, & Daniel Way

Illustrators:  Stefano Caselli, Butch Guice, Javier Saltares & Andrea Di Vito

Format: Paperback

Published:  2008

 

This is a review that has been a long time coming I read this comic book in a desperate plight to avoid doing working on a paper.  I finished the book and found myself busier than I could imagine and never writing the review.  I came into possession of this book from my co-worker who is one of my comic guru’s.  While my one friend got me started and has me obsessed with Batman or more namely Robin (aka Tim Drake) my coworker is trying to ensure that I expand my horizons.  Thus he gave me his copy of World War Hulk X-Men, as well as another World War Hulk book I have yet to read.

 

The basic premise of the store is that Hulk being a danger to mankind was sent into out space to a planet that was habitable for the Hulk but was uninhabited.  He was sent by a group known as the Illuminati that includes various different Marvel heroes.  Unfortunately there was an error in the ship flight path and Hulk was sent to an inhabited plant where he was made a slave and worked and fought his way to being king of said planet.  He found a wife and had a child but the planet was destroyed.  Enraged by what happened the Hulk returned to earth to exact revenge on the Illuminati and any who got in his way.

 

This book is a multi-story cross over having a few issues of X-Men, a few issues of Avengers: The Initiative and issue of Ant-Man a few issues of Iron man and a few issues of Ghost Rider.  It is a rather expansive story line that hit several characters and tied into together each comic would reference the same events from different character perspectives.  It was interesting to see the different perspectives of the same event.   It is something I haven’t seen before but have wondered about.  What was X characters reaction to a situation why didn’t character Y get involved.  This book answers that and for that it is cool.

 

However, I also had problems with this.  Many of these comics, though part of the World War Hulk story line are only a small part of the over-arching story line for the different characters.  Many of these issues were part way through the characters story line and thus referenced things in their story that was not part of the Hulk story.  I can respect that, but it made it very difficult to follow along, particularly as I am very new to the Marvel universe.  I know of these characters and have a basic understanding of what they do but I don’t KNOW the characters I don’t know some of the back story from other sources like I did with Batman.  Most of my knowledge of the Marvel Universe was X-Men cartoons as a child and the recent Marvel movies.  There were a lot of things that I knew I was missing out on and it made the story kind of difficult to get into.  Like there was a mysterious character that I could tell I should have known who it was if I was familiar with the story arch but I wasn’t and it made me feel like I was missing out.

 

Over all the story was hard to follow and not that gripping to me.  I am actually dragging my feet to read the next book but seeing as I am borrowing I feel like I need to read it.  So it will sit in my desk drawer for a bit longer and I’ll give this book that I did read a 3 out of five pages.  If I knew what was going on the book would have been good but being a bit lost it wasn’t that great.  World War Hulk is not a good starting point for getting into the Marvel Univer

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