February 23, 2018

It's a book with a blue cover and it starts with 'the'. Do you know which one I mean?

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell is very reminiscent of I Work in a Public Library which I reviewed early last year. Both books include true stories of interactions and incidents that occurred in places which feature books as the main attraction. Jen's book talks about people who are so improbably strange I don't know how they were let out of the house much less let loose in a bookstore. Also, Ripping Yarns is a confusing name for a bookstore so I don't know why it's that unusual that people calling to find out if they sold yarn was so kooky it deserved its own subsection. (A yarn is another name for a story and 'ripping' is a term like 'awesome' hence Ripping Yarns.) Some of the things that stuck out for me were the customers that didn't seem to understand what is actually sold in bookstores. No, you can't buy hardware materials in a bookstore. That would be a hardware store. There were some true LOL moments like the lady who came in and couldn't remember which Danielle Steel books her mom had/hadn't read and asked the bookseller if SHE knew. *face palm* The chapter on parents and kids especially reminded me of what it's like being a Children's Librarian (there are a lot of interesting interactions, ya'll). One thing that really surprised me were the number of people who would approach the desk and ask about possible jobs but would be super weird about it. For example, telling the bookseller that there job looked super easy and then asking if they were hiring. If you're looking for funny anecdotes about what it's like to work in the book trade then you couldn't get more spot on than this book. It's a quick book that you can dip in and out of when you're looking for a laugh or if you just want to check if it's not just you that get involved in super weird conversations with strangers. 8/10

A/N: With this review we've finally reached the books I read in December of last year. *crowds do the wave*

Check that author quote, ya'll. [Source: bookdepository.com]
A taste of what awaits you inside the book. [Source: Buzzfeed]

What's Up Next: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

February 21, 2018

Needs more attention to detail

First of all, HUGE props to the illustrator, Doogie Horner, for some of the most amazing illustrations I've seen in quite some time. I'd go so far as to say they would make truly excellent bookmarks. *hint hint* Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler is a collection of short biographies of famous authors covering their childhood and why they wanted to become authors. Up front I need to make a few critical remarks. While this was written for a child audience, I think it would be beneficial if some of the terms were defined either in a side panel or at the back in a glossary. Two good examples: integration and abolitionist. I read a few passages to some of the kids at the library and some terms that seem obvious to an adult haven't yet been learned by kids in upper elementary school. There were also some really glaring grammatical mistakes which gave the impression this was a rushed printing job. At one point, the word should have been 'real' and instead it was 'read' which of course has a totally different meaning. If this is meant to be a nonfiction biographical resource for children it should be held to a higher standard.  I did like how there were additional facts and a suggested list of more books to read at the back. My overall impression is that it's a cute book which serves as a decent introduction for kids to famous authors (and biographies in general). I know there are other books in this series so I'm hopeful the quality has improved in these later volumes. :-) 5/10

Source: Amazon

What's Up Next: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

February 19, 2018

I like to think that I'm pretty tech-savvy but...

I'm a naturally curious person (obvious to the longtime reader) and I really enjoy learning about the the world we inhabit. I especially enjoy discussions which forecast what our world might look like in the near to distant future. This book touched on a lot of that and much more (much of it out of my sphere of knowledge). Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith (with illustrations by Zach Weiner) covers everything from space settlements (and space elevators!) to computer brain interfaces (no thank you!) with Utah Array (basically multiple neuron points). The wide variety of topics explored should appeal to a diverse audience and if that doesn't do it the illustrations scattered throughout certainly will as they further explain extremely technical subjects through a pop science lens (some quite funny while others tried just a bit too hard). I have to give them a giant HOORAY for their excellent use of references such as George Church (remember him from Woolly?) which lent a more academic feel. Besides explaining what inventions we might see in the future, Weinersmith discusses the concerns both ethical and economical which could either delay or outright stall further development. The futurists among you would do well to check this book out to get excited for the years ahead while the cynics might want to get their hands on it to strengthen their arguments. ;-) 7/10

Source: Barnes & Noble

And this is why I'm terrified. [Source: Penguin Books]

What's Up Next: Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

February 16, 2018

Am I a vampire or just super anemic?

Only as I'm reviewing these books do I realize just how many 'scary' books I read at the end of last year (and how many more I've just now added to my TRL). That's how you know that I'm a 'whatever I feel like reading' reader/'I'm interested in this topic for the next 3 books and then I'm going to wildly change interests' reader. [A/N: I couldn't remember the term 'mood reader' to save my life when I was originally drafting this post. I chose to leave that crazy line in there because it cracks me up.] All of this is to set up today's book which is The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke. I saw an ad for this in a subway station and it wasn't the title that caught my eye but the author. I had been an avid listener of his podcast (named Lore unsurprisingly) last year and then as is my way (especially with podcasts) I had totally forgotten about it. Once I started reading the book I realized that it was essentially composed of transcripts from his podcast episodes. (Guess it's a good thing I didn't listen to all of them.) The book is broken down into categories about different creatures from folklore. Two examples: vampires and zombies. Vampires could have been created because of a disease whereby people were pale, sensitive to sunlight, and craved blood. (And then there was Vlad the Impaler who is perhaps the most well-known nightwalker. (Quick note: Nightwalker is not a cool name for a vampire like I had originally thought but I'm gonna just pretend that it is cause it's better than repeating the word vampire ad nauseum.)) Zombies were most likely inspired by victims of tuberculosis (the living dead) and the large numbers of people who were pronounced dead then subsequently rose from their graves. (This is a real thing and will perhaps explain why more people choose cremation these days.) Mahnke also discusses the history of hauntings and the popularity of the spirtualist movement among many other topics of the supernatural. He has a way of simultaneously debunking these theories while giving the impression that we should still remain open-minded. It's an interesting read especially if you haven't really delved too deep into this subject area and you want to get the rundown. 8/10

Monstrous Creatures is the first in a planned trilogy and I think there's also a tv show in the works. I guess I'm not the only one interested in the supernatural. ;-)

Source: Kobo.com

What's Up Next: Soonish by Kelly Weinersmith

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

February 14, 2018

This isn't what I came here for

I had hoped to be absolutely knocked out of my socks by the essays in this volume but it fell quite a bit short of the mark. The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg was listed in a footnote of a book that I read last year (I think it was Wild Things but I'm honestly not sure) and it piqued my interest because it was listed as a resource for children's education. Ginzburg writes about her childhood in Italy (this is a translation) and the lessons which she learned from the ups and downs of her life there. It was a tumultuous life too. Organized in a series of short essays, different points in the author's life are described and used to illumine various life lessons. She covers just about everything from family dynamics, adolescent friendships, first love, and (what I was there for) the education of children. One of the major issues I had with this book was that education seemed almost like an afterthought even though the title was crafted from this section. I found the overall collection mediocre at best and not at all mindbogglingly profound as the footnote of the other book (and the online reviews) had led me to believe . In fact, only some of the points were even remotely accessible while the majority were nearly indecipherable. It read more as a series of diary entries than anything approaching academic. 5/10 from a severely disappointed nerd.

Source: Amazon

What's Up Next: The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke

What I'm Currently Reading: I've Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

February 12, 2018

Widen your horizons

Last year, I decided that I wanted to try my best to learn about different countries and cultures. I became especially interested in China and their Cultural Revolution. (You may recall Do Not Say We Have Nothing.) To that end, I picked up The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by Louisa Lim which is a work of non-fiction that culls firsthand accounts from those who lived through that time and documents how their lives were subsequently changed. The biggest takeaway I had from this book was that I know next to nothing about the history of China...and most of its people can say the same. There has been so much collusion and cover-ups that most people are unaware of the true nature of historical events that occurred in their country. And those that would tell the truth are hushed up one way or another. The government's control works under the guise of "stability of the nation" which keeps the populace blind and even afraid of digging deeper. There is also a fear of the West because of massive political and cultural indoctrination that has occurred over several years. The seasons of political and cultural change can easily be marked by the different people in power. The party 'line' made it imperative that change be accepted by each and every citizen. Firsthand accounts from those who participated in (or lived through) the Cultural Revolution (more info on that here) illustrates the power wielded by those in power. All of these people are still being monitored and silenced. They can never advance in their careers which in a money obsessed country like China spells a certain shunned existence. It was a powerful, eye-opening experience reading this book. It has only increased my interest in learning about new places and people. If you're not a huge fan of nonfiction because you find it too dry then this would be an excellent one to give a shot as it reads more like a work of literature. 10/10 for the obviously thorough research and excellent writing.

Source: Oxford University Press

What's Up Next: The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg

What I'm Currently Reading: I've Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

February 9, 2018

You're not gonna love 'em all

I'm going to come straight out and say that I think this book was too cerebral, abstract, and "out there" for me. Ursula K. Le Guin is a well-known name in writing circles and she is touted for her sci-fi/fantasy prowess. Surprisingly, I had never read anything by her and so I set out to remedy that by picking up a short story collection entitled The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, Volume One: Where on Earth. I should have been wary after that convoluted title but I went in ready to be absolutely knocked off of my feet. Alas, alack! While this selection was categorized as sci-fi only one of the stories even vaguely felt like it was in that genre. If I'm completely honest I don't remember a single one of the stories and even when compiling my notes directly after reading it I felt the same. After completing each story, I would realize that I wasn't entirely sure I grasped the meaning much less any hidden meaning in the words. (See why I felt it was too cerebral for me?) I struggled to finish this book even when there were less than 50 pages remaining and I have absolutely no interest in seeking out her work in the future. I feel as if I'm some kind of a fraud because so many people herald her as a sci-fi/fantasy staple and...I just don't get it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ah well! 0/10

Source: Goodreads

What's Up Next: The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by Louisa Lim

What I'm Currently (Re)Reading: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **