Vera is a genius. She knows this too as she's about to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. The only problem is, her rival Stanley is a genius as well. Because of this, Vera hates him, but what starts out as hate quickly changes into a friendship. Together they plot schemes to make money from those around them before they reluctantly are pushed off to college together. Stanley would much rather continue making crossword puzzles for a living than pursue college - he has already had a few published in major newspapers even at his young age. But what starts off as a quirky novel about young "love", this story turns deeper slowly. It morphs into a much more thicker plot with great character development.
Vera falls in love with Stanley but can't be with him because he insists on continuing his schemes and ploys. But its that kind of love where you never can really leave the person no matter how many times you try. The novel becomes a little heartbreaking as Vera finally accepts her fate, leaves Stanley for good, and the reader is forced to watch Stanley come to his senses and try and right all his wrongs. He is in a desperate search for Vera to prove to her he has changed. But its the 1960s and communication is limited. So the only way they can communicate with each other is through hidden clues embedded in crossword puzzles they publish in newspapers.
This novel was so much more than I had anticipated. Finishing it was both satisfying and yet left me wanting more. Funny, tragic, well-written, and deep characters are just a few of the great attributes this book has. If it does have a flaw, it would be the pacing. A little slow at times but it does pick up. And when it gets going around 40% in, it flies. It reminded me of stories such as Forrest Gump and Benjamin Button, rather than a central core plot, it was more of a life story of these two characters. I can't wait to see what Bartsch has cooked up for his next book. This one was truly a delight.
This is the Top 10 Sci-Fi novels of all time...according to me. But since I'm an eye doctor, I decided to make it equivalent to an eye chart. Number 10 is at the top, number 1 is at the bottom.
To be fair, I have NOT read the following sci-fi classics, so they are not included on this list.
Dune, Hyperion, Stranger in a Strange Land, 1984, Neuromancer, and Snow Crash.
20/400 - "Mass Effect: Revelation, Ascension, and Retribution" by Drew Karpyshyn
I loved the video game so I knew I'd love the books. I was right. Crazy good story that sets up the first video game. Even if you've never played the game, read these books. They are good enough to stand alone on their own as some of the best sci-fi books ever.
20/200 - "Heaven's Shadow" by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt
Great book that could literally be a movie (and considering the two authors are screenwriters, I'm just waiting). Huge object in space, crazy message for humans. Second book is great but third book falls flat.
20/100 - "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov
This is a classic because it introduces the Galactic Empire and spawns many, many wonderful novels and stories from it. A must for all sci-fi junkies.
20/80 - "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
Funny, weird, and many WTF moments make this classic appear on my list. An epicenter of pop culture references makes this book truly one of the great ones.
20/60 - "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov
No, this has nothing (and I mean, NOTHING) to do with the Will Smith movie. But it does introduce us sci-fi junkies to the Three Laws of Robotics. Pivotal in the sci-fi genre and for good reason.
20/50 - "Feed" by M.T. Anderson
Strangely, and sadly, accurate metaphor about the youth in our society, this tale is not one to be missed. What starts off as a quirky sci-fi tale slowly turns dark mid-way through. Definitely a book that sticks with you for a long time.
20/40 - "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline
1980s. Nerdom. Sci-fi. What more could one ask for? If you are a sci-fi/fantasy nerd, and you haven't read this book yet, I feel sad for you. Deeply and utterly sad.
20/30 - "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi
I was a little hesitant about this book, I mean, how can 75 year old sign up for the galactic military, and even more, how can you write 5 books about it?!? Holy crap. It works... trust me.
20/25 - "The Martian" by Andy Weir
Incredible. Unbelievable. Can't-put-the-book-down amazing. Even though this book was published a few years back it is already a classic. Read it and you'll see why. It is as close to perfection as it gets.
20/20 - "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Arthur Clarke
Anyone who knows me understands this. I am crazy about these novels, and even though the sequels in this series aren't nearly as praised as the original, they are all incredible. Worth reading for sure.
How did I do? I know I missed some, probably some big ones, but these are my favorites. What's yours? Comment below to let me know.
DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Kogan Page Ltd.
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2015
This book examines nine marketing and PR campaigns that were wildly successful and had a huge impact on society. The title of this book ends with "...Shook the World" but should probably be changed to say "...Shook Britain". 7 of the 9 campaigns were entirely British but understandably so, as this was published by a British publishing company. One such campaign was the London 2012 Olympics - heralded by this book as the best Olympics ever (though I would strongly disagree as I found the 2012 Olympics very disappointing), it examines things such as the marketing strategies used, the PR campaigns used, and the people involved in making the Olympics (and the other 8 campaigns) a success.
Overall, the book was pretty enjoyable. I found it to be fairly interesting, though it did drag on a bit at times. I don't necessarily agree that all 9 campaigns "shook the world", but it was nice to see the behind-the-scenes planning that goes on to make advertising and marketing a success. If you enjoy business books, then I'd recommend picking this up.
Being a native Floridian, I love all things Florida (mostly). So when I discovered this series nearly four years ago, I jumped on them. This book is number 15 (or 16... I lost count) and Dorsey just released number 18. As with all Tim Dorsey novels, there is a plot but its buried under the hilarious interactions of his protagonist, Serge Storms - a Florida guru who knows all trivia about all aspects of the state. Oh... he's a serial killer as well. But certainly don't call him that, he doesn't like that term.
I can't really begin to delve into the plot because you don't read these books for the plot - and I know that sounds crazy but its true. Start with the first book, Florida Roadkill, and while it is certainly not the strongest book in the series, it introduces you to all the main cast. Raunchy, funny, and sometimes outright odd, The Riptide Ultra-Glide is one of the best in the series that, for a few books, was beginning to drag and go downhill. This was a breath of fresh air for the series and I recommend it to people... after they read the first 14 (of 15) books.
I remember sitting in the Jacksonville, FL airport waiting for my flight to depart when I needed a good book. I love airports but even more so I love airport bookstores, so when I saw this sitting on the sale rack, its cover intrigued me. The book discusses statistics, marketing, and economics, but does so in a very analytical way using real-life examples. One example that stands out in my mind is a South African credit card company. Ayres talks about how they increased their acceptance rate by mailing out credit card offers. They discovered if they put a smiling woman's face on the advertisement, their application numbers skyrocketed,
All throughout our lives, marketing is directed towards us and analyzed to maximize acceptance, purchasing, and applications. This book is fantastic in how it looks at these numbers. The writing is superb and the book reads very smoothly. Eye opening from page one, I couldn't put this book down. If you're looking for something a little different to read, I cannot recommend this book enough. If you're a fan of the popular Freakonomics series, this book is definitely for you.
DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: October 6th, 2015
The book is essentially a list of twenty things this married couple wishes they could go back and tell themselves when they were twenty. Both of them now are college professors with two children but they haven't had the easiest road to get there. This list is a sort of lifeline to twenty year-olds to help them focus and live a more fulfilled life.
The problem, and there's a few, is the writing. The book is written in first person which isn't that big of a deal. Where it becomes distracting is when you read, "When I (Peter) was younger... Every morning I (Kelli)... Last night I (Peter)..." and so on. It makes it very difficult to have a good flow in this book because of this. Another problem is there's a whole chapter in the beginning devoted to how they met. Personally, I didn't care whatsoever. Their love story is not one of the reasons I started reading this book.
But its not all bad. While I definitely disagree with some of the things on their list (and would have certainly added others), I think its a great idea for a book. It definitely reads more like a Bible study group text than it does a solo read, but I think that was intended. This book is perfect for church college groups.
The world is in danger due to an evil group of villains searching out the 36 individuals in the world known as the Pure. If any of the Pure die, the world is thrown into perils such as wars, pestilence, famine, etc. But thankfully The Blood Guard have vowed to protect them and keep them safe. This book follows three teens, Ronan, Greta, and Dawkins, as they journey on a quest to keep the Pure safe and the villains away. They travel across the country encountering dangerous foes and puzzling situations along the way. Will they be able to make it to their destination in time to stop the bad guys? Will they be able to keep the sacred Blood Guard artifact safe? Will they ultimately thwart the evil plans of eliminating the Pure?
This book reminded me quite a bit of the Percy Jackson novels: 3 teens, running from bad guys, trying to complete a quest, world dies if they fail. Substitute mythology for world domination and bingo!, there's this book. The fact that it reminded of the PJ novels isn't a good thing. I found this book to be very juvenile and formulaic, even for a YA novel. While the pacing was fine and it did keep my interest until the end, nothing about this book will make me remember it a week from now. However, if you're wanting some action-packed, "turn your brain off", YA fiction, then this is for you.
The writing style isn't bad but it's not spectacular either. There were a few times while reading I just wanted the author to get to the point - quit trying to fill your page quota. There is a sequel coming out soon but I will probably pass on that one. Overall, the book as a whole is okay. If you read it, I think you'll enjoy it a little, if you miss it, I don't think you'll miss much.
DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
The mind is a crazy thing and when one thing goes awry, who knows what the effect will be. This book highlights various neurological conditions including Cotard's Delusion, schizophrenia, BIID (body integrity identity disorder) and others with case reports, follow-ups, discussion on the anatomy/physiology/psychology of the individual and research into each disorder. But deeper than that, Ananthaswamy begins to delve in to the realm of "Who am I? What is "I" vs "Self"?. The big problem here is that it gets confusing and unnecessary.
This book is an interesting look at people who suffer from these conditions and what is being done to investigate them. Had the book stopped there, I would have been very satisfied, but I feel like the whole book is watered down by these "deeper" questions aimed at digging into who we really are. Ananthaswamy presents some interesting material on the scientific/psychological/neurological aspect of each issue but he does suffer from a congested writing style that gets boring in the middle of each chapter. I feel had he been more focused and clear in his objectives for each chapter, his message would have gotten across a lot clearer.
One such area of cloudiness is when he describes experiments. Rather than start the paragraph off by explaining what the experiment was, what it hoped to achieve, and how it was performed, he just slides sideways into his explanation, partly expecting the reader to have already been familiar with what happened.
On the whole this book isn't bad. It's not great either. I found myself skimming towards the end because the chapters started over-wearing their welcomes. Conciseness, in this case, makes the heart grow fonder.
If you're like me, you are glued to your Kindle. But there's so much more to the history of Amazon.com than meets the eye. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, had such a strange way of building his business that many thought it had no chance to success. Fast forward a few years and its the largest retailer in the US.
This book is a fantastic read if you're interested in business, business history, biographies, or just something fast and fun to read. Filled with little facts about Jeff and Amazon, the reader walks away feeling satisfied. Brandt does a good job and leaving chapters with cliffhangers, forcing the reader to keep going (even though we all pretty much know how the story ends), and his writing style is very fluid. Not a dull point can be found in this book.
The only negative to this book has nothing to do with the story, the author, or any actual part of it; the negative is that it was written a few years ago so the book doesn't cover everything that Amazon has done since. Still, its a great read and worth checking out.
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love every aspect of it, the humor, the drama, the acting, and it probably stems from the fact that I love (LOVE!) flying and spending time in airports. I'm not sure why but there's just something about them that attracts me. In fact, I would rather have a layover so I can explore a new airport than have a direct flight (this has changed slightly with us now having an infant). So when I found out one of my beloved movies was a book, I jumped on it. (Fun fact: This was the first eBook I ever read).
Let me put it to you straight: the book and movie have nothing to do with each other except in name and title. Ryan Bingham flies all over the country to fire people. In doing this, he is aspiring to become a member of an elite group of frequent fliers that have 1,000,000 miles. Despite the fact that the movie and book are different, I enjoyed them both. This book is funny, witty, and well-written though at times it can be a little off-the-wall and misguided. I recommend this book if you're looking for an original, humorous, quick read... in fact, a flight from Orlando to Vegas should give you plenty of time to finish (assuming you have a layover in Denver).
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.