Book Review: Ripley’s Believe It or Not

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Ripley’s Believe It or Not

*This review may contain spoilers pertaining to some content found in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, though it is minimal spoilage*

I am thus far finding Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the graphic novel, intriguing. It is different than other novels, of the graphic variety, that I have followed because it contains more than one story within its pages. I am one of the lucky NetGalley members who was approved to read this book pre-publication, and therefore, it was a free / no cost to me read. However, if I were to have purchased this, the multitude of stories has a more bang for the buck feel to it.

I think that the text is appropriate for most ages; profanity is implied with symbols @$! However, I would not give this to a small child but mid – late teens would be an appropriate audience, I think. (Keep in mind, I don’t have my own children. So, for all I know, I just became the bad aunt for giving someone’s kid a book they shouldn’t be reading). Some of the images are graphic (heeyyyooooo). For example, in the second story, the main character, Phineas Gage, gets a railroad spike through the left side his brain and face due to an explosion gone awry. Though the image is not what I would consider gory, it may still be disturbing to a young audience.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the use of color. In particular, I think that the illustrator did a wonderful job giving each story its own color scheme.

Overall, I most enjoyed the tidbits of history I learned from reading this entertaining piece of work, most of which I was entirely unaware. I rate this one a 3.5 – 4. Ripley’s Believe It or Not was colorful, interesting, and enlightening.

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Book Review: Dracula

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Dracula

As per usual, I am seemingly in the minority re: my thoughts and opinions. It would seem that the books that are overall the most beloved, those are the ones I myself do not love. I am so disappointed because I wanted so much to adore Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I just . . . don’t.

My hang ups:
-For a book titled Dracula, there is very little about Dracula.
-The narration
-Miss Lucy, what makes you so delightful that three men are chasing after you, huh?

Granted, perhaps some of my dislike for this title can be attributed to the narration. I did partake in the Audible version, and I more than likely should have read this one to myself. I find that unless it’s a memoir being read by the author, I tend to loathe female narration. I know that the Audible version has been touted as having an “all star cast,” but I found the characters of Lucy and Mina to be just absolutely over the top.

With only two hours left until this book can be officially ticked off my to-read list, I am confident that my rating will remain at a firm 3-stars. In reading others’ reviews, thoughts, and questions, I stumbled upon this, “Am I the only one who thought the ending of this book was the literary form of coitus interruptus? I thought the book was wonderful until the end and then it lost me.” User’s name is Rachel, but I’m not sure if I can link her profile or questions here. So, Rachel, if you’re reading this, I’m quoting you; credit has been given where it is due (:

Anyways, back to my point. My reasoning for sharing Rachel’s pertinent, Dracula related question is . . . I obviously have nothing to look forward to in the end. I am basically finishing Dracula because I’m 13.5 hours in, and there is just no turning back.

Book Review: The Escape Room

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The Escape Room

I like to leave some feedback midway through a reading of a book, and I do so for a variety of reasons. The first reason being to let the author know that I am indeed reading their work as I tend to be a slow reader. Second, I like to gauge where I myself am at as far as liking or disliking a book; this allows me to decipher when a book either goes south or takes a turn for the better. Finally, it allows me to make my notes and share my thoughts without forgetting them.

So far, I like The Escape Room. Manhattan is my favorite place to travel to, and I find myself intrigued by the stereotypical Wall Street types. This story has allowed me to live inside their world, if only briefly and with a stretch of the imagination. I do not know the validity or extent of corporate greed in NYC so I do not know if the facts and figures tossed around in this book are accurate, but what is unfolding now, midway through the book, is the moral conflict and dilemma of one of the main characters.

I have found a few typographical errors, mainly extra letters or missing spaces, within the text. For example, “off” instead of “of.” Ultimately, very minor mistakes that have no true influence on the story itself.

This is the first of Goldin’s books that I have read, and at this point, at the time of this writing, I would consider reading her other work. This story has a wonderful back and forth between what is currently happening, during the firm’s escape room exercise, and the groundwork which is established by a visit to a previous time. The alternating of past and present is obvious, and there has been zero confusion between the then and now, which, in many tales, becomes muddled between current tense and flashback scenes. Goldin has written The Escape Room in a way that makes it nearly impossible to put the book down; I find myself wanting to read ‘just one more’ chapter to get closer to the moment when the past and present merge.

In summary, so far, SO very good!

01/08 – I have finished the book, and my review has not changed. It’s a clever work, and I found myself completely and utterly absorbed in The Escape Room, longing to know what’s going to happen next. Again, some minor typographical errors that have little impact on the story itself.

Book Review: The Daughters of Salem

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The Daughters of Salem: How we sent our children to their deaths (Part 1)

I am writing this review as I read The Daughters of Salem. First of all, just from what I have read, this is not going to be what I would consider a glowing review. However, I would like to take a moment to express my pleasure that Netgalley / the author did approve my request to read this. The agreement within Netgalley is to write an HONEST review, so here goes . . .

Firstly, the writing is what I would consider to be too simplistic. IMO, this graphic novel is geared toward an adult audience. Now, I don’t think the writing should be Shakespearean in nature and style, but the level that the text is currently at, it doesn’t even qualify as YA – yes, it is THAT simplistic.

I found some minor details to be a bit confusing. For instance, Abigail Hobbs claims to be 14YOA on page 7 and alludes to a time when she was 13YOA; without giving too much (anything) away, stuff started getting real when she was 13. So, as the reader, I assume that she is currently 14 and sharing a flashback to the previous year. Fast forward to page 32, and it’s two years since said “stuff” got real, but she just told us readers that she is 14! Also, her picture doesn’t match the text. Her hair was cut short, as a penalty for becoming a woman (age 13) – so why on page 7, when she is supposedly 14, is her hair the length it was when it was shorn the previous year? The long haired version of Abigail should not be stating that she is 14. There could be a much better way to show her at 13 years old while narrating at 14 … or is it 15? See how confusing this all is?

When I read or hear the descriptor of a character as “a man in black,” I envision a man that is dressed in black from head to toe, NOT what would appear to be a Native American with what can be described only as Blackface (so sorry, but it’s true). I am fairly certain no ill intent or racist themes were intended with this character; perhaps where this is published by Europe Comics (“a joint digital initiative run by 13 European comics industry players from 8 European countries.”), they are unaware of the faux pas such a thing is in the U.S. I know that this is taking place way back when, but the Black Faced American Indian still feels . . . icky despite when this story takes place.

So, the text is simple, almost too much so, the story a bit confusing if you get hung up on its minutiae, and some of the themes can be deemed as offensive. With all of that being said (written), I do like the artwork. It’s not as bright and vibrant as many of the graphic novels I have chosen to read in the past; I tend to be drawn to bright colors. The art in this novel is subdued, Earth toned. I think it suits the time period and topic(s) of the story well.

If you want to add a new author or graphic novel to your repertoire, then by all means, give this a read. However, if you’re just starting out with this genre, I would not recommend The Daughters of Salem be a jumping off point. Finally, if you’re at all squeamish with images of animal brutality and cruelty or fight scenes, this is definitely not to be picked up by you.

Two stars because yeah, this is just “ok.”

Book Review: Unicornucopia: The Little Book of Unicorns

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Unicornucopia: The Little Book of Unicorns

I’m giving this book 3 stars because I “liked it.” This book can be summarized as cute, borderline adorable. I learned a lot of interesting tidbits that, though I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable regarding unicorns, I did not know. The art is bright and happy. The section(s) with unicorn crafts and unicorn recipes may be useful in my craft and swapping endeavors. What I did not love about this book was the section on unicorn worship. I think that an altar for the sake of the worship of a unicorn for wealth, health, and / or happiness is a bit excessive. Will I re-read this book? Probably. Did I enjoy it? Yes, I sure did. However, I didn’t love it enough to give it a 4 or 5 star rating. Again, it’s cute, educational, but some aspects are a bit over the top.

Book Review: The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide

 

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Book Review: The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide

I love Jenna Fischer, and that is why I selected her book, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide. I fell in love with Fischer’s portrayal of Pam Beesly / Halpert in The Office, and I later loved Fischer’s performance in The Giant Mechanical Man.

If I had read any of the Goodreads reviews prior to my purchase, I would have had some awareness that this book is more of a helpful handbook at breaking into the business than it is a memoir. Though Jenna Fischer does share some insight into her triumphs and setbacks, this book was essentially wasted on me. I did not dislike it, however, for me, it was boring minutiae as I am not an actor and have no desire to be an actor. If anything, because acting is not my lifelong dream or passion, it made me think that becoming an actor is just too much of a PITA to even attempt. My hat’s off to those who pursue this profession; Fischer has opened my eyes to the realization that acting is a much more difficult pursuit than I imagined . . . EVER.

The insights provided by Fischer’s book include but are not limited to: the process by which one earns entry into SAG-AFTRA, the auditioning system, and measures one should take to maintain an up to date résumé and acting reel. Of particular interest for budding actors is Fischer’s explanation of what a good head shot is versus a bad head shot and how they can be an essential component of booking or not booking a job. Each of the aforementioned topics were completely unfamiliar to me.

With that being said, I do admit that The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide is an excellent resource for those who want to be on TV, in films, or even on the stage. If you have no interest in any of the above, I would not invest your time or money into this book . . . unless of course you are just a lover of Jenna Fischer. I have given Fischer’s book a three star rating; despite the text not being applicable to my life or career pursuit(s), I still enjoyed it.

Book Review: Stardust

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Book Review: Stardust

It was just recently, this past Friday in fact . . . SO, four or five days ago, that I learned that Stardust is also a movie. I watched the film for my weekly movie night with my Mum, and although I enjoyed it, I was so thankful that I had read the book first. Just an FYI to keep in mind if you’re toying with: a) reading the book, b) watching the movie, or c) all of the above.

Stardust – a book I was entirely unaware existed. I’ve been a Neil Gaiman fan since I started reading Sandman, but I have not escalated to the level of fandom where I know the title of every book that he has ever written. I did indeed branch out from Sandman and added Neverwhere, American Gods, and Norse Mythology to my Gaiman repertoire of read and to-be-read books, respectively. I had also learned of Gaiman’s Coraline, Good Omens, The Anansi Boys, and Smoke and Mirrors, but never once had I spotted Stardust until one fateful day . . .

As I was perusing the shelves of a (sadly) failing bookstore, the unicorn on the cover of a book caught my eye. I try not to, but I am indeed guilty of judging a book by its cover, and I do mean this literally, not at all in a figurative sense that can also be applied to people. As I brought my selection to the customer service counter, the young man working began to gush about just how much I am going to love this book, and before I knew it, we were engaged! . . . in glorified Gaiman gossip; all the while I’m thinking YES, talk nerdy to me!

So, it was by sheer happenstance that I found and read Stardust, and boy, am I truly glad that the stars were aligned on that particular day! What an extraordinary journey young Tristran Thorn embarks on, and I was perfectly content accompanying him along the way. Witches and beauties, castles and kings, friends and enemies, love and greed, unicorns and magic – Gaiman’s Stardust really and truly has it all!

The threads from multiple plotlines intertwine to create a most intricately woven tale of whimsy. Until Stardust, I could never quite understand why some bibliophiles reread a book yearly, yet I longed to find that desire to do so; I’ve found it in Gaiman’s chimerical land of Stormhold, located in Faerie, the magical realm beyond the village of Wall where Tristran’s quest to locate a fallen star ensues.