Category: Reviews

I love lots of things, and sometimes I can even be bothered to explain why.

Review: Deck Z

Deck Z: The Titanic: Unsinkable. UndeadDeck Z: The Titanic: Unsinkable. Undead by Chris Pauls & Matt Solomon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite not being a fan of zombie stories or knowing much about the history of the Titanic, I enjoyed Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon’s Deck Z immensely. I had prepared myself for a silly backstory as to why zombies were on that fateful voyage to begin with, but the authors carefully crafted a plausible scenario and sympathetic characters. In true thriller style, the plot was relentless, chugging full steam ahead just like the doomed ship. I appreciated the small details, like structuring the novel into three stages just like the stages of the zombifying disease. Captain Smith was a proper hero, just as I imagined he would have conducted himself in such a bleak scenario, and though liberties might have been taken with certain historical figures and moments, they were done so respectfully. My only complaint is that the length did not allow for much exploration of the characters outside of pitched zombie battles. I’ll stop now to avoid any spoilers and urge you to pick up a copy for a quick, satisfying read.

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Review: MasterMind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

MasterMind: How to Think Like Sherlock HolmesMasterMind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I love Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to love this book, too, and expected I would at least like it, based on the blurb and the subtitle. The author obviously loves Holmes, too, which saved this from being a one-star review, because I did enjoy the excerpts from Doyle’s stories. Regardless, I gave up about a third of the way through because the book was just so padded and I didn’t care enough about thinking like Sherlock Holmes to continue slogging through it.

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Review: Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity

Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity
Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity by SARK
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first exposure to SARK’s writing, aside from her posters. It was a gift from a former co-worker as I left my job at the San Francisco Public Library. At the time, I didn’t feel very gracious about the transition, and so it has taken me a while to finish reading this.

“Glad No Matter What” is primarily a book about the type of loss and change that surrounds the death of a loved one, but I could apply some of it to the loss and change I am currently experiencing as I transition to my new home. SARK’s unbridled enthusiasm and good nature bursts from every page, and it is difficult not to be cheered by her multicolored scrawls.

My favorite portion of her book was about her “emotional GPS” and how she notices negative thought patterns and reactions as she is having them, then tells herself “recalculating” as she finds a new “emotional route”. I chuckled over this, and then gave it some thought. Sometimes I feel very guilty about my negative responses to things while feeling helpless to change them. But with the emotional GPS idea, I can recalculate negative reactions into less negative responses.

I admit to skimming over some parts that were simply too spiritual for my tastes, but I remain an admirer of SARK as a creative force and a positive influence in a cynical world.

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Review: We Need to Talk about Kevin

We Need to Talk about Kevin
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really do not know what to write about this book. On the one hand, it is a known quantity; no one starts reading it without knowing, at least in the most general sense, what it is about. On the other, it answers none of the questions the reader will have about its horrific central narrative.

Shriver is, undoubtedly, a talented writer. The story made me feel ambivalence for every single character introduced, no small feat considering how easy it would be to create a maudlin mother or monstrous son. No, in fact, every single person involved has realistic foibles, making the absence of the great “why” at the end all the more appalling.

It could happen to any one of us, here in the real world. And it has. And I’m not sure I needed to read a book about that.

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Review: The Dewey Decimal System: A Novel

The Dewey Decimal System: A Novel
The Dewey Decimal System: A Novel by Nathan Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It may be weird to say that I am a fan of dystopian near-future settings. I have a morbid fascination with bleak, sparse landscapes and crumbling infrastructure; I remain hopeful that I will never have to live in such a world, but constantly wonder what type of person I would be if I survived in one.

In “The Dewey Decimal System”, Larson creates an instantly engaging survivor as a protagonist, and a compelling city in ruins around him. Larson’s staccato, fragmented style makes this a quick and brutal read with plenty of physical and emotional carnage. I only wished for more scenes in the New York Public Library, yearning for more details of this post-apocalyptic information age that seems entirely devoid of the ‘net.

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Review: Bossypants

BossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Because I am not up on these things, even though I really should be, I had no idea that Tina Fey had written a book. If I had, I would have pre-pre-ordered it as those of us in the librarian cabal are able to do. What? That’s not a thing? I have been lied to! Anyway, I stumbled across the disturbing cover of her not-quite-memoir "Bossypants" three seconds after stepping into a local bookstore, and even though I am trying very (kind of) hard not to buy any new books, I bought it.

And I devoured it in less than 24 hours. (more…)