Monday, December 31, 2012

History of the World in 100 Objetcs

A History of the World in 100 Objects

This last book review of 2012 is of “History of the World in 100 Objects” by Neil MacGregor. It is 707 pages long with maps and notes at the end. It is published by Allen Lane. The cover is a pretty blue with just the title and author on it. The intended reader is someone who wants to learn about mankind, children may not understand everything in the book and there is one old statue in it that is a little risky but anyone over the age of 12 should be fine. It is told in an odd person first but still have third person voice because MacGregor will talk to the reader about the objects and what they make him feel but most of the book is about the objects. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- From the renowned director of the British Museum, a kaleidoscopic history of humanity told through things we have made. When did people first start to wear jewelry or play music? When were cows domesticated and why do we feed their milk to our children? Where were the first cities and what made them succeed? Who invented math-or came up with money? The history of humanity is a history of invention and innovation, as we have continually created new items to use, to admire, or to leave our mark on the world. In this original and thought-provoking book, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, has selected one hundred man-made artifacts, each of which gives us an intimate glimpse of an unexpected turning point in human civilization. A History of the World in 100 Objects stretches back two million years and covers the globe. From the very first hand axe to the ubiquitous credit card, each item has a story to tell; together they relate the larger history of mankind-revealing who we are by looking at what we have made. Handsomely designed, with more than 150 color photographs throughout the text, A History of the World in 100 Objects is a gorgeous reading book and makes a great gift for anyone interested in history.

Review- This book is wonderful. The writing is strong, the objects are chosen with great care and the stories they tell are just so interesting. The objects examined range from the easiest statue of a couple with sex to a solar powered lamp. MacGregor does not stay in the western world; when he says a history of the world we go around the world. He talks about how frustrating it is to have objects but because of time and death that now we can only guess what the story of the object really is. Each object has multiple full color photos with great detail. MacGregor loves his work and it shows in the book. The history is great but MacGregor does not overwhelm the reader with all the details. MacGregor helps the reader to see the object and ever to see where it fits into the grand scope of humankind. If you only read one non-fiction book this coming year make it this one.

I give this one Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Croak by Gina DamicoToday's post is on 'Croak' by Gina Damico. It is  published by Graphia which is an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing. It is 311 pages long. The cover is a silver with a young woman in a black hoodie with a scythe. The intended reader is Young Adult and it is really YA. It has some interesting points but the YA crowd are the ones who are going to enjoy it the most. There is nothing but some language in this so parents beware Lex curses. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Life's not fair. Why should Death be any different? Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to up-state New York to live with Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort's true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He's a Grim Reaper. And he's going to teach her the family business. Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner, Driggs, and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her targets like a natural born Killer. Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice- or it is vengeance?- whenever she's forced to Kill a murder victim, yearning to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die- that is, people who aren't supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent- Lex's curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage - or will she ditch Croak and join in?

Review- The only thing that is disappointing about this book is that it is written for YA's. The writing is strong, the characters are YA but fun and interesting, and what is really going on will keep you guessing. Lex is annoying at the start but by chapter three that is worked out. It is just because she is full of grim energy and once she start working she is likable. The other characters in the story help build the plot and the mystery. The murders are not the focus of this book. It is about Lex learning who her really is and what she is do in life. The town of Croak sounds like a place I would have loved to go as a teen but I was and still am a goth. Teens who are feeling like they cannot control their lives because of all the changes that are happening to them will relate with Lex. I remember feeling how Lex feels at the beginning of the story, before Croak when she is just angry and does not know why. The story ends with the villan getting away but that is okay because I have the next book in the series waiting for me tomorrow.

Rating a solid Four and A Half stars with hopes for the second volume. I get nothing for this review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Riddle

The Riddle (Pellinor, #2)

Today's post is on 'The Riddle' by Alison Croggon and is the second book in the Pellinor quartet . It is published by Candlewick Press. It is 490 including notes and maps. In this series you really need to start at the beginning to understand the story, the first book is The Naming. The intended reader is Young Adult but anyone with a love of high fantasy will like it. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

The story picks up just where it stopped in The Naming with Maerad and Cadvan fleeing from the great bard city of Norloc. They are now pursued by both the Light and the Dark and by the elemental being known as The WinterKing. The Nameless One has an army to the south getting ready to attack the town where Maerad's brother Hem is. Maerad and Cadvan go north because of a dream that Maerad had that the answers she needed where to the north. Norloc begins to tighten its hold of the schools of barding. This adventure begins dark and stays dark all the way. Maerad does not  trust herself anymore because of how wild her elemental powers are. She kills a fellow bard and in doing that she can feel the darkness in her own heart. Cadvan is at a loss of how to reach her or help her so he does the only he can, he keeps them moving north. Then the powerful WinterKing, a being of pure elemental power, attacks them when they are most vulnerable. Maerad now alone must continue the quest north. She meets family from her father's side but the price she has to pay to get her answers is terrible.

To start with I did not like this one as much as The Naming. I think that is because this one is so very dark. Normally I like the middle parts of a story or play the best. The most character development happens but not this time. The focus of this book is really how much suffering Maerad has to endure. I know that all characters suffer and that prices must be paid to save the world but it is too much. The little light this story has is always over-whelmed by the dark. Maerad finds her father's family but her cousin is brutally killed because of her. It is not her fault but because she is wanted by The WinterKing that he dies.  Cadvan is dead for most of the story. Maerad is maimed because of the carelessness of her kidnappers. It is just too much. I read the 200 pages very quickly just to get it over with. When you are reading a story and just want it done something is wrong. I think that Croggon wanted to explore the darkness that both hunts Maerad and also lives in her own heart but I can think of better ways to it. On the good side the writing is solid, the characters are still believable, and the reader still cares about the over all journey. I hope the last of this series are not as dark.

My rating is Three and  a Half Stars.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fortune's Fool

Fortune's Fool by Mercedes Lackey
Today's post is on 'Fortune's Fool' by Mercedes Lackey. It is published by Luna which is an imprint of Harlequin Books. It is 362 pages long and is the third in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. The cover has the two main characters with some of the elements of the story like the paper bird and the harp. The intended reader are fairy tale lovers, light romance readers, and fans of Lackey. There some sexuality in this novel so be warned. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

Ekaterina - Katya - is the seventh daughter of the Sea King. She has the very rare and special gift as the seventh, she can walk on land as easily as she can swim through water. She is her father's hands and eyes on dry land. The Sea King wants to keep peace between him and dry land kingdoms. So Katya helps with that because whenever something odd goes on she goes to help. With The Tradition on her side she has done much good for her kingdom. The Tradition is what makes things go in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, it helps good people and when people are lazy bad things happen. One kingdom has not had any trouble in almost three centuries. When Katya gets to Led Belarus she discovers why. The kingdom has a Fortunate Fool. Sasha is the seventh son, a prince and a Songweaver. He has been going around his kingdom and helping keep the darkness from coming in it. That is because Led Belarus does not have a Godmother, so the royal family is dealing with The Tradition themselves. They meet and fall in love. Before they can do much Katya is called back to her father because something is taking magical young women. Before too long Katya is taken too but unlike all the older women she chooses to be taken. A Jinn is taking the women and he is going to take more than that. With Katya inside and Sasha outside the Jinn does not what is coming for him.

This is the third in a series but you do not have to have read the others to enjoy this one. All the Five Hundred Kingdoms are stand alone series, there are some repeat characters from the earlier books but nothing that would trip up the reader. The story is as fun and fanciful as a fairy tale should be. I only have one problem with the series. There is some sexuality in them. It is not gratuitous, it is the main characters who are in love, and it does not last long. I think that it just because I do not like sex in my fairy tales. I have read the originals and I know that they are about sex but I really like the innocence's better. It is nice to see some of the characters from the earlier books. In this one it is the two dragon champions from 'One Good Knight' and Godmother Elena is talked about from 'The Fairy Godmother'. The magic system is fun and easy to understand. The characters are funny and they know that something outside of themselves is moving the world and the story along.

My rating is a solid four stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, December 10, 2012

He's a Stud, She's a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Ever... by Jessica Valenti

Today’s Non-fiction post is on ‘He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 other double standards every women should know’ by Jessica Valenti. The intended reader is female but it also male friendly anyone over the age of about 13 can read this; there is some language but not much and it helps the reader hear the author’s voice. The cover is multicolored stripes with a black box in the middle with the title and author information in it. There Be Spoilers Ahead but this is non-fiction so I’m not really worried about it.

From the back of the book- Double standards are nothing new. Women deal with them every day. Consider the following examples:

·         He’s a hipster, She’s a Ho

·         He’s Gay, She’s a Fantasy

·         He’s Angry, She’s PMSing

·         He’s Independent, She’s Pathetic

·         He’s Successful, She’s a Showoff

·         He’s Dating a Younger Woman, She’s a Cougar
Women are held to a different standard than men. And mostly we just put with it- but we don’t have to. Jessica Valenti offers 50 solutions to 50 of the most pressing double standards that women confront. With sass, humor, and in-your-face facts, she informs and equips women with the tools they need to combat sexist comments, topple ridiculous stereotypes and end the promotion of insidious double standards.

Review- This book is easy to read, has useful information, and does give some advice about how to deal with the fair world we live in. Valenti is very passionate about her topic and it shows. All the solutions were common sense ones but because I have been very lucky and not been in some of those situations I had not thought about them. I know that it is not popular to be a feminist but I am one. Valenti also talks about how unpopular it is to be a feminist. Now Valenti is not saying that men have problems and double standards to deal with too. She does talk about how if a guy is just nice to his girlfriend; he will be given a hard time by others, that he is too ‘soft’ and the like. But the main focus is about women in this broken world of ours. But she does have answers for everything there is some misinformation in it but it only one thing and I think that you should do the research for yourself about all 50 topics she talks about. But the heart of the book is in the right place, that place is making life better for everyone, not just women, because sexism effects everyone.

I give this a solid four stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Halfway to the Grave

Today's post is on 'Halfway to the Grave' by Jeaniene Frost. It is published by Avon which is an imprint of HarperCollins. It is 358 pages long. The cover has the main character in a short black dress with thigh-high boots and a silver dagger. The intended reader is urban fantasy lovers. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

Catherine (Cat) Crawfield is a vampire hunter. Not just any vampire hunter but one who is half vampire herself. Her mother was date raped and five months later Cat was born. Her mother hates all vampires. She has been telling Cat that she has to fight the evil in her because of her father. Cat kills vamps who think that she is a little dumb girl that they can eat. For eight years Cat has been doing this until one night she picks the wrong guy. He knocks her out and when she wakes up tied up. He wants to know who she works for. Cat tells him no one. Of course he does not believe her. But then she flashes her eyes at him, something only a vampire can do, and he believes her. His name is Bones and he hunts vamps too. Bones decides to train her so that they can hunt bigger targets together. Over the course of the story they fall in love. But the story is really about Cat learning that her world is much bigger than she knew. There vamps who do not kill their victims, there are humans who like to be fed from, there are ghouls and ghosts. The big bad in this novel is a vampire who is kidnapping young women. He is taking them and making them slaves that other vamps rape and feed from. In the end Cat learns that vamps are not the only bad guys in the world and sometimes they do not work alone.

I was not sure that I was going to like this story. I am not a vampire person. They just do not do it for me. But Cat won me over. I like that she believes in what she is doing. She tries to make the world a better place in anyway she can. Once she sees that not all vampires are just soulless killers, she lets go of her preconceived notions. She learns to accept herself for who she is not what. By chapter three I was really having fun with this book. Bones is interesting and fun. He is very honest with Cat about the world and how he feels for her. It is the dialog that fuels the character growth and plot. Cat's mother does her purpose of making the reader feel bad for Cat. She had to grow up with a mother who hated her on some level. The action scenes are okay but not the best part of the story. I will be reading the rest of the series with pleasure.

I give it a solid Four stars.