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review 2017-06-17 00:45
Am I no longer afraid of robots?
The Wild Robot - Peter Brown

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown has both fascinated me and frightened me for at least 2 months now. I kept seeing the cover when I was shelving or visiting other branches and the image of the single robot standing on top of a pile of rocks kept leaping out at me. I finally gave up the fight when I decided that middle grade fiction was the way to cure my book reading blues. I'm glad that I did because The Wild Robot was a lot of fun to read (and it turns out it's the start of a series!) made even more amazing by the superb illustrations supplied by the author. [A/N Peter Brown is no stranger to creating books as he's a well-known children's picture book author/illustrator but this is his first attempt at middle grade fiction.] This isn't your standard 'robot story' but instead it's a look at climate change, the ever-evolving landscape of our world with the advent of technology, and what it means to be truly alive. In short, it's beautiful, thought-provoking literature. The illustrations peppered throughout enhance the story by adding depth to the characters (I love that they're black and white.). Roz is doing the best she can given her circumstances which is really all that anyone can do. The only difference is that she's an artificial lifeform living on an island without any humans. How will this shape her? Will her presence have any effect on the local fauna and flora? Brown's commentary on our world is perfectly geared for a younger audience but it wouldn't go amiss for the adult crowd either. ;-) I can't wait to see how this story continues to develop as Peter carries on with the series. 10/10

 

For a look at the book from the author's perspective check out this awesome post written by Peter about his process of getting his book published: "The Wild Robot lives!".

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-03-29 01:20
I would have been a runaway
Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding-Schools, 1939-1979 (Slightly Foxed Editions) - Ysenda Maxtone-Graham

Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding Schools, 1939-1979 by Ysenda Maxtone Graham is exactly what I was looking for this week. As the title suggests, this is a non-fiction book about what it was like to attend a boarding school for girls from the years of 1939-79 (in the United Kingdom obviously). The author conducted numerous interviews of women who attended these school who recalled startlingly vivid memories (both ill and pleasant) of their time there. From what it was like to be separated from family at a young age (some incredibly young) to the traumatic recollections of the horrible food they were forced to eat to what really went on when a bunch of hormonal girls were kept sequestered without any boys in sight this is a book that is both informative and interesting. (It's also super funny.) I've read some fanciful stories about what it's like to live in a boarding school but never true accounts from the girls themselves about what actually went on behind those austere facades. (Seriously a ton of them were in manor houses and castles which makes me super jealous.) There are many similarities between the institutions and also some gargantuan differences. For instance, some of the places (Cheltenham for instance) were strict, highly academic, and the girls that left there were more likely to continue into higher education. Others were more practically minded (or obsessed with horses and sports) and the girls that left there were generally encouraged to go to secretarial college and then look for a husband almost immediately after entering the workforce. It's an eye-opening read about what it was like for these upper-crust girls who were sent away by their families and then suppressed by these same people into wanting less for themselves. I highly recommend this not only because it's extremely well-written and researched but also because it's so fascinating comparing it to the way young women of today are educated and their expectations after leaving school. 10/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-02-24 15:46
Years in the making
The Burning World: A Warm Bodies Novel (The Warm Bodies Series) - Isaac Marion

Isaac Marion's anticipated (at least by me) sequel to Warm Bodies is out now. Finally. The Burning World chronicles the continuing adventures of our favorite zombie-turned-real boy R and the love of his new life, Julie. The characters introduced in Marion's last novel make a comeback and we watch them as they travel away from all that they know and into a world of terror, Nearly Living, and gun toting baddies in beige jackets. (I think Nearly Living would make a great band name by the way.) Marion continues to build his world and his zombie mythology. We learn that as the Dead turn into the Living (and through the phase of Nearly Living) they go through a process of remembering their prior lives. For most, this is such an overwhelming and upsetting process that they take drastic measures to make the memories stop. (You don't want to know...but you will.) R has decided that he can ignore the memories trying to resurface and focus on building his new life...but of course that's not a real possibility. Their adventure/escape across the landscape of America is fraught with peril, new traveling companions, and R's increasing sense of unease as he remembers his "first life". If you're looking for a closing chapter to this series then you're going to end up disappointed. If anything, The Burning World raises more questions than it ultimately answers. It's very much a 'setup' kind of novel wherein it seems like a lot happens but actually nothing in point of fact does happen. Marion is clearly using this as a bridge to set up his conclusion (titled Living if you're curious). For someone who has been waiting for this novel for years this book was a bit of a letdown. I wanted the questions raised from the first novel (and the prequel) answered in this book. Also, there's a weird second "voice" in this book that appears to be the earth (?) and I'm not really a big fan of the way that took away from the flow of the book. It was more of a distraction than an addition to the storyline in my opinion and I have a sinking feeling it's going to play a role in Living as well. However, if you want to continue following R and his comrades you need to read The Burning World because without it you're liable to wind up very confused. Skipping to the last book which will probably be out in the next decade (I hope I'm being facetious here) would not be advisable. This is a 7/10 for me which is the lowest score I've given Marion thus far. I had much higher hopes for this book especially after the long wait. :-/

 

You can read my review of Warm Bodies which was originally posted back in April 2013. There's also my review of The New Hunger which was the prequel novella...and which I reviewed 4 days after I read Warm Bodies. Guess you could say I was a fan of the series. lol What's especially funny is that in the review of The New Hunger I mentioned how excited I was for the sequel and that it was due out in in 2014...and it's just come out this month. Go figure, eh?

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-10-21 21:56
Never Google chicken hatcheries if you can help it
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari Dr

For the last couple of years, I haven't eaten beef or pork. Part of this was dietary but the larger portion was due to my distaste with the way these animals are dealt with in the food industry. After reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind I have decided to stop eating all meats for good. I'd be quite surprised if others reading this book didn't feel the same way. (This will make sense later.) This book covers exactly what the title says. Yuval Noah Harari touches on almost every aspect of what it means to be human. I can see why this book could be contentious in some circles as he is of the belief that consumerism, imperialism, and communism are religions instead of merely ideologies. He has a no holds barred attitude about the way in which humans have ravaged the planet and taken advantage of others of our species as well as flora and fauna. (Remember the no eating chicken thing?) What was most intriguing about Sapiens were the questions that he raised about the nature of happiness. There have been many books about how to be happy but no research into how happiness is measured and its trends throughout the years. (Maybe he has an upcoming novel in the works.) If you're interested in culture, human evolution, and a unique perspective of the world then you're likely to enjoy this book. I will say that a lot of this was common knowledge and/or already known to me as an Anthropology major. The second half of the book is where it got really interesting. I love a good thought experiment and trying to figure out answers to seemingly unsolvable problems is my idea of a good time. :-) I'd give this book a solid 8/10.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-09-27 20:29
Feeling empowered!
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History - Sam Maggs

Back in August, Quirk Books reached out to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing a nonfiction book about extraordinary women from history. Of course I said yes. (Who wouldn't have their interest piqued by that pitch?) So they sent over an advanced reader's copy (ARC) for me to check out. XD

 

Wonder Women by Sam Maggs includes stories about 25 women who looked convention in the face and laughed at it. When one looks at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, it is easy to believe that women have had little to no impact. (The historical record has a few flaws.) Maggs completely turns this notion onto its head by showcasing women who not only braved these disciplines but completely rocked them (many times before men even had a clue). She doesn't just discuss women scientists and inventors but also women adventurers. Those that dared to dream big and push themselves forward to attain those dreams despite all the odds being stacked against them. It's the same struggle that women the world over are still fighting against except for these women lived in times that were even more daunting (I'm talking B.C.E. through the 1940s, ya'll.). These women were not given equal opportunities for education much less employment. Their families, spouses, and society were dead set that they would stay exactly as they always had...in the shadow of men. The biographies are broken up into subsections and at the end of each section are bite size bios and a Q&A with a woman who is currently working in that discipline. Oh and did I mention the art at the start of each biography? An artist's rendering of each of the ladies in the ARC are depicted in black and white but I believe in the on-sale version color has been added. They make a great addition to the book as well as the informal jargon (if you've been on Tumblr and enjoyed it then you'll feel right at home). It was a fun, quick read that showcased some truly kick butt ladies doing some really kick butt things. 9/10

 

You can pre-order Wonder Women today (it comes out on October 4, 2016!) and as an added bonus receive downloadable wallpapers by Jen Bartel and Paulina Ganucheau. O_O

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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