Category Archives: reading room

Book Review – The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy hell this book was way better than I was expecting. In fact, it was completely different from what I expected. I hadn’t read any of Atwood’s work before, so I didn’t really know much about how she approaches books. Her writing style is fascinating, especially when you know that she writes a lot of poetry. But her storytelling is really what got me. I got completely absorbed with the narrating character and the various people in her story. It was one of those books I wanted to rush through because I thought the answers to all my questions were on the next page or in the next chapter. “Surely, this is the chapter I’ll get more info!” And when I finally got to the end…I almost wanted to throw my Kindle across the room. In other words, it was fantastic.

Be sure to read the “Historical Facts” bit too!

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Book Review — Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a great beach/airplane book, though it’s pretty dark, which is why I enjoyed it. It wasn’t full of complicated characters, but the plot twisted in interesting directions, which kept me entertained. I definitely went through hating and loving Nick and Amy, and I though Flynn did a good job of making the characters real enough and exploring a lot of the relationships (parents especially). The ending fell kind of flat though…like there was all this interesting stuff happening, and then Nick just folds…WTF?

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Book Review — The Restuarant at the End of the Universe

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker's Guide, #2)The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Hitchiker’s Guide, so I finally picked this one up on Audible. I really enjoyed it, both the narration and the story. The writing is a bit funny sometimes — not funny “ha ha” but funny “man, where is he going with this” funny — and I found myself caught up in the endless conversation. There are many digs at modern culture and how it might’ve played out, and it’s aged well (it’s 26yrs old at the time of this review). Highly recommend, but some might not enjoy the writing style as much as I do.

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Book Review — The Stars My Destination

The Stars My DestinationThe Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fantastic recommendation from a buddy, and I don’t regret picking it up immediately. It was full of complex characters, and a storyline that twisted and turned. In some ways, it reminded me of the Count of Monte Cristo and I’m sure Bester borrowed techniques from other classic literature that I can’t immediately recall. It had everything you could want from a good sci-fi book: oddball (extreme) characters, space travel, interstellar war, romance, and revenge!

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Book Review – Interrupt

InterruptInterrupt by Jeff Carlson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting look at how our ancestors and ancestors’ cousins might have evolved throughout thousands of years, and how some primal “inclinations” might reappear under certain circumstances. The characters were really interesting in this book, and the story is pretty fast paced. It’s an easy read (beach book), and entertaining at the same time. Nothing hugely notable, and some of the theories and suppositions were a bit of a stretch. Sometimes, I feel like most authors just glance over certain aspects of characters, which always leaves me unsatisfied. I got a little bit of that in this book, but not a bad vacation book.

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Book Review — The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really struggled to get into it at first as Rothfuss takes his time developing the story. In fact, I can’t believe he ended this book where he did, but it’s effective. I’m really looking forward to reading the next one. It’s not the typical book I’d be interested in, but the story keeps me fully engaged. I feel like I escape a bit when I read it. Quite nice.

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Book Review – One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of SolitudeOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was really surprised to be as engrossed in this book as I was. I am always a little skeptical when “everyone loves this book,” but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are wild and crazy that I couldn’t look away. In most cases, the story is one giant train wreck of a family who’s generations repeat the same mistakes over and over. I was fascinated to see the variation in each generation, yet also saw how the family traits carried down the line. The writing was a fairly easy read, but the story was so engaging I couldn’t put it down at times. Definitely recommend.

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Book Review — Empire

EmpireEmpire by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was very disappointed in this book. I’m a huge fan of the Ender Series, and was really looking forward to the ideas and creative story telling that Card seems to carry with him. However, I felt this book fell short of that. While his character development was on par, the overall story telling style left me unsatisfied. As other reviewers have noted, Card seemed to leave nothing to the reader’s imagination. Every time I would start creating possibilities in my head, Card would tell me outright what was going on in a very obvious manner. The action portions and some of the twists were exciting and kept me engaged, but in general, I wouldn’t say this is even a good work of his. Not a bad beach book, I suppose. It’s a very easy read, and pretty easy to pick up on the story after a break in reading.

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Book Review – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and boy am I sorry I didn’t read it sooner! I knew mostly what it was about, and had seen the movie, so the story wasn’t all that surprising. What was surprising was the engaging way Adams had in his writing. The book is smart and humorous as well as entertaining. Who knew a towel could be so useful! And it’s not a difficult read either. It’s not overly sci-fi/fantasy, yet it touches on some very interesting philosophical concepts that will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

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Book Review — Pygmy

PygmyPygmy by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a tough one to read due to the style in which it was written, and I am not one to shy away from a challenge like that. The story was fairly straight forward, but with subtle twists and turns — typical Palahniuk IMO — that take you on a journey through the mind of a young trained assassin. Really fascinating to see the impact of training (you could even say brainwashing), and that’s the part that really piqued my interest in the book. You really get an interesting look into the mind of this highly intelligent child who’s received a certain level of conditioning. Pretty dark at times, but interesting ending.

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My Stroke of Insight – Review

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal JourneyMy Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A close friend gave me a copy of this book, knowing I have a strong interest in the mind, how it works, and how we can change parts of it. Taylor has had the incredible gift of intelligence and awareness to be able not only to recall the events of her stroke and recovery, but also be able to communicate the events and the things she learned throughout the process. I found the information deeply moving, and was encouraged to know that the things I experience (my left brain negative loops) are not only normal, but somewhat controllable. While I know the stroke was a big challenge to Dr. Taylor, her story has SO much value to people who have had a stroke, friends/family of stroke victims, and pretty much anyone interested in how he can change his perspective on life. We all have a left and a right side of our brain, and it’s a matter of how much practice each side gets.

Highly recommend. It’s a pretty easy read, even the neurosciency stuff.

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Under the Dome – Review

Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was really excited to read such an intriguing tale, and I was certain King could deliver. The story was intricate and the characters spanned a wide range of good, bad, and ugly. All manner of angles were touched on as well. What happens when you put a small town under a dome, cutting them off from all society, supplies, and the things we all take for granted? Who holds the real power in those situations? And when an evil person gains immense power, how do the good people of the town react to save themselves and the town? So many questions about the true humanity of people. The only reason I couldn’t give it 5 stars is I felt like the story just kind of ended. There is some big stuff that happens, but the wrap-up was nothing to speak of. Definitely recommend it.

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A Clockwork Orange – Review

A Clockwork Orange A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had really high hopes for this book. When I first began the book, I was surprised at the language used by the narrator, and found it fascinating how you can learn a language simply by context interspersed with known language. That “side-journey” definitely added to the story. However, much like Slaughterhouse-V I was disappointed as a result of my expectations. The book definitely touches on some interesting aspects of society and how we handle violence and disrespect of authority. It also addressed some of the ethical challenges in reforming violent offenders. All interesting topics, but I really was looking for more twists and turns, more commentary on how society deals with the issues, and in general deeper exploration of things only touched on. I can’t wait to see the movie now, though.

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