"One's time for reading is so limited that it seems one might best spend it upon what one knows is good rather than take chances on what one is not sure of."

-Albert Jay Nock

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The One with Maximum Muscle

376. Title & Author: Maximum Muscle: The No-BS Truth About Building Muscle, Getting Lean, and Staying Healthy by Michael Matthews (102 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction—Health & Fitness
Completed: 29 November 2016

Summary & Review:
Offered as a bonus e-book to his longer Bigger Leaner Stronger (#368), Michael Matthews explains more about proper training, nutrition, and techniques for achieving your fitness goals.

While a lot of what was in this book was a re-tread of the information in BLS, I enjoyed it because it was almost like a Cliff Notes version of that longer book. I was able to review some of the finer points of Matthews' program without reading the almost 300 pages of Bigger Leaner Stronger all over again.

Rating: 7.0

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The One with The Stone of Mercy

375. Title & Author: The Centaur Chronicles Book 1: The Stone of Mercy by M.J. Evans (252 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Fantasy & Young Adult
Completed: 13 November 2016

Summary & Review:
Young Carling has just celebrated her sixteenth birthday when tragedy strikes. Her mother and father are killed by a band of centaurs after Carling prevented them from kidnapping some young centaur fillies. As her mother is dying, her last words direct Carling to find a silver breastplate hidden under the floor of their kitchen. When she finds it, she receives direction from the wise wizard of Crystonia to go and collect the four Stones of Light to complete the breastplate and take her rightful place as queen of the land.

This was a great adventure! It was firmly in the tradition of fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia but with a unique and original approach to the genre. Like many of her other novels, M.J. Evans includes in this book important moral lessons for young readers. In this case, Carling was a powerful example of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion as she was able to overcome great personal tragedy without being robbed of those important qualities.

With Christmas time approaching, this book would make a great Christmas present for any young bookworm you know. You can buy this and any of the author’s other award-winning novels at her publisher’s website: dancinghorsepress.com

Rating: 10.0

Also, check out my other review's of M.J. Evans' books here:
Behind the Mist (#175)
Mists of Darkness (#247)
The Rising Mist (#309)
North Mystic (#261)
In the Heart of a Mustang (#343)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The One with How to Pee in Public

374. Title & Author: How to Piss in Public: From Teenage Rebellion to the Hangover of Adulthood by Gavin McInnes (271 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir
Completed: 11 November 2016

Summary & Review:
Writer and entrepreneur Gavin McInnes presents stories from his youth up through adulthood in this raucous memoir.

Meh.

Rating: 3.0

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The One with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

373. Title & Author: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (637 pages)
Genre: Fiction--Novel
Completed: 31 October 2016

Summary & Review:
When his cousin Josef Kavalier arrives at his house in Brooklyn after escaping Nazi-occupied Prague, Sammy Clayman realizes he has finally found the perfect partner to make his dream a reality. Together they convince their boss to begin publishing comic books starring their creation, The Escapist. Over the next few years as comic books experience their golden age in the late 1930s, Sam and Joe attain success and wealth, but that never distracts Joe from his true mission of saving his family back in Czechoslovakia.

Portions of this novel were really interesting and entertaining. I liked learning about the early days of the comic book and learning about the artists and writers who pioneered it. I thought the portion of the novel where Joe joined the Navy and was stationed in Antarctica was fascinating. Other parts of the book, however, weren't really my style. I know authors like to write stuff that will guarantee them a favorable write up in the New York Times and other such publications and they like to feel like they are taking a brave stand on social issues. The problem is, by the time they actually write these books, its not brave anymore. The culture has already shifted so there is no danger of the author being ostracized for his views. A perfect example of this is The Help (#206), where Stockett "took on" segregation and racism in the South.....fifty years after the end of Jim Crow. In this book, Chabon "bravely" exposes how gays were mistreated and forced to live a lie. It's easy to write a book in defense of that lifestyle now since gays are celebrated in the culture writ large so Chabon doesn't deserve any kudos for doing so. He knew he would get universal praise for his inclusion of this topic so really he was just scoring easy points with the in-crowd.

Despite my cranky griping about all that, the book was by and large a good, well written one with an interesting story.

Rating: 6.5

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The One with In Trump We Trust

372. Title & Author: In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! by Ann Coulter (197 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction--Politics
Completed: 27 October 2016

Summary & Review:
Conservative Ann Coulter lays out her case for electing Trump president this fall. At the top of her list is the fact that Trump is the only politician in recent history to actually talk about issues voters care about: immigration, crappy trade deals, and making the government put the needs of its citizens first. Throughout the book she brutally takes apart other Republicans who have sold out to the left on all of these issues.

Coulter is on to something with her insistence that Trump's popularity and his winning of the Republican nomination was not based on his personality or simply the fact that yokel voters were "fed up." Let's face it, I don't think anyone likes Trump's personality. But, Trump has been the only person to say what a large portion of American voters have been wanting to hear for decades. We are tired of being sold out and watching our country, jobs, and freedoms be given away to serve the needs of the political and business elite. Trump train, baby!

Rating: 7.5

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The One with Eligible

371. Title & Author: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (492 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Humor & Romance
Completed: 17 October 2016

Summary & Review:
This modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice finds “Liz” Bennet in a relationship with a married man before having “hate sex” with Darcy until she finally falls in love with him. Romantic. Sprinkled throughout are plenty of examples of nausea-inducing PCisms as Sittenfeld shows off her social justice bonafides by making the older white characters racist, homophobic, and of course, transphobic.

Here’s a list of things I want from a novel: entertainment. Here’s a list of things I don’t want from a novel: paragraphs long lectures about transsexualism. Who wants to be talked down to, lectured to, and patronized while reading a novel? Not me. Sittenfeld is a talented writer and there were aspects to this book that were funny and readable, which makes the finished product so frustrating. It could have been a fun book, but instead Sittenfeld felt compelled to stuff it full of all the latest leftist fads from feminism (she literally whined about how the father “giving away” the daughter at a wedding was, paraphrasing here, “creepily patriarchal”), to racism (of course Mrs. Bennet, the WASP matriarch of the family can’t stand having a black realtor), to the afore mentioned transsexualism (or as Sittenfeld insists on teaching the reader, what is now called “transgenderism”).

Rating: 1.0

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The One with Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists

370. Title & Author: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists by J.K. Rowling (63 pages)
Genre: Fiction--Fantasy
Completed: 11 October 2016

Summary & Review:
Over the years, J.K. Rowling has published numerous shorts on her website Pottermore. A selection of these is presented here that explore a few characters more in-depth including Professor Quirrell, Professor Slughorn, Dolores Umbridge, and Peeves the Poltergeist.

The format of most of these stories was almost like an encyclopedia rather than a narrative which I wish wasn't the case. Everything I've read from Rowling in the Harry Potter universe that's been published since the end of the series has been like that. This makes for slightly more dry reading and doesn't let Rowling's storytelling ability really shine through. But, despite that, there were still some interesting bits of trivia.

Rating: 5.0