Book Review – Hip Hop History

TITLE: Hip-Hop U.S. History
AUTHORS: Blake Harrison & Alex Rappaport
FORMAT: Paperback with CD
PUBLISHED: 2006

I don’t even know where to start with this book.
I guess I should go with the statement that I picked it up thinking it was either going to be awesome or total crap, but the library had it on display and I thought they might know what they were talking about.
Then again, my library being a branch of the Nashville Public Library, I should know better.

Yes, I just publicly dissed my library. But that’s a convo for another day.

So this book was on display and I thought that it had potential. The concept is that it’s giving a basic overview of US History “From Columbus to the Civil Rights Era” through specially written hip-hop songs. Each chapter gives the lyrics of one song, and alongside gives explanations of each section of the lyrics.

It’s possible that this book could be helpful if you had no idea about anything (I’m reminded of an episode of The Wild Thornberrys where the mother teaches the older daughter something using this method), but really, I fail to see how this book provides a good history lesson, especially considering how much it assumes you already know.

Here’s a sample of the book:
Back before buffalo wings at Domino’s,
America was where the Buffalo
roamed. What you don’t know?
Thirty thousand years ago some dudes
Came across the Bering Strait
wearing snowshoes.
Eskimos chasing woolly mammoth,
Ice Age white like dandruff.

But the book has assumed you understand Bering Strait and Ice Age, and if you know that stuff, you probably already know how people arrived in North America. And if you don’t already know that stuff, you’re probably going to have some weird image of eskimos sitting at a booth eating hot wings.

Which goes along with my other complaint that the amount of unimportant stuff shoved in just amazes me. At one point there’s a reference to Chubby Checker dressed up for Halloween in reference to the Boston Tea Party.

And the way they explain some of this stuff… Yes, the third amendment technically means you don’t have to let soldiers sleep on your couch and the eighth technically means that you can’t be ordered to drink turpentine for punishment, but is that really the best way to explain the Bill of Rights?

The worst part about this book is that on the cover it even touts this book as a prep for the US History AP and Sat II exams. Wait, what? Before I read that, I thought the target age for this book was somewhere around middle school.

Maybe (okay totally) I’m the wrong demographic for this book. But even being my most objective, I fail to see how this book would be helpful at a higher level. I’m not going to crack the CD, so I can’t vouch for the songs’ musical merit, but as far as a learning tool, it fails. I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know, it glosses over a lot of stuff for more common “history” (the book says Columbus found America, but fails to mention anyone else who arrived here before or around the same time unless you read the appendix), and in a couple instances, the ‘facts’ given are wrong. (The first one I saw said you can’t print something to intentionally defame somebody because it’s “Libel or slander” um… )

I see what they tried to do here, but they failed. Then again, what do I expect from a book announcing its “Flocabulary” and created by MTV? If this book actually helps, more power to it. But from my observation, it gets a 2/5.

Book Review – Invincible: The Ultimate Collection 1 by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley

Title:  Invincible: The Ultimate Collection 1

Author: Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley

Format:  Hardback

Published:  2005

 

Being frustrated with my obsession and love of DC comics he was determined to get me into something less main stream an deposited a rather large black book that was about 400 long.  It sat on my desk for weeks looming at me as it would not quite fit in my desk drawer.  I was hesitant and I glanced at it and found it to be something that was passable and quite possibly not my cup of tea.  Yet knowing full well I couldn’t just shove it back to him I finally had a bit of time and decided to crack the book open.

 

This is one of those books that you just sort of slip into as you learn not only about the characters but the universe as a whole you start to come to grips with the world and begin to think that the story line ins so-so when about half way through everything gets turned on its ear and you are cursing every interruption and eagerly turning the next page looking for answers to questions that you are not finding until the climactic end of the book.  Before I go further though dear reader let me take you back and give you an introduction to the story line.

 

The story of Invincible starts with a young man named Mark who has a super hero dad and eventually discovers that he actually has super powers of his own.  You follow Mark as he tests out his new abilities, figures out what his super hero name will be (Invincible) and follow him as he faces off against a villain with the help of a few fellow teenage super heroes.  He also takes the time to team up with his super hero dad Omni Man as well.  The first couple of stories are decent and mildly entertaining.  Then the story takes a break from Mark and starts to show off various other super heroes that are part of the Guardians of the Globe.  We are given a brief idea of who they are before they are called away to an emergency meeting and you find hallmarks of classic well known heroes from other comic books.  We meet, the Red Rush, Warrior Woman, Green Ghost, Aquarius the King of Atlantis… I think you get the drift.  It was funny and amusing and at the same time almost over the top for me where I was thinking that the book was going to take a turn from good to bad but with the introduction of these new characters comes one of the largest plot twists I have experienced in a long time, launching the story from good to great.

 

One I hit this point I was sold and I kept reading and re-reading the section trying to come up with reasons I was thinking surly it is a classic trope for what has happened here right? WRONG!  The story took a twist and when it explained things I was left with my jaw dropped and wishing I had the second monster book sitting on my desk.  It was literally that good. I am in love with this series and wish more people knew about it!  I say get yourself a copy of this book and read it.  If you like comics you will like this, particularly super heroes.  So naturaly I will be giving this book a 5 out of 5 page review!

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.

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,643 other followers

%d bloggers like this: