Book Review: Dad Is Fat


Dad Is Fat
Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Jim Gaffigan’s stand up comedy, so when my wife came home with this book from the library, I knew I had to read it. As soon as she was done, I got started.

Jim’s writing isn’t likely going to get him any literary awards, but the content is great. Being a father of 3 small children, I can relate very much to his parental musings. I can see how someone who has one or less children might not be able to relate to his parenting woes. So yes, the target audience might be somewhat limited.

Gaffigan provides a sarcastic, though realistic approach to parenting. I love that he says what so many parents fear to admit thinking about parenting small children. Sometimes, we just want to admit we’re going insane as we raise our children, and he admits it. All too often, we parents get caught up in what we think we’re supposed to be doing with or for our children.

The book was a very easy read as the chapters are extremely short. Some no more than 2-3 pages, which is my favorite kind of book. Most of all, I appreciate how down to earth the Gaffigans seem to be. Even with Jim’s celebrity status, there are still so many aspects of their lives I can relate to and I’m sure so many others can as well.

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Book Review: Divergent


Title: Divergent (Divergent #1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Book Format: Kindle
Published: May 3rd 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 487

★★★★☆

Divergent, by Veronica Roth has been touted as the next Hunger Games. There certainly are a lot of similarities between the Divergent series and the Hunger Games trilogy.

The book follows a young, fairly scrawny girl named Beatrice, whose family is part of the Abnegation faction. The country has been divided into five factions. There is the Abnegation, the Candor, the Amity, the Erudite, and the Dauntless. Everyone at the age of sixteen is to choose their faction. Most choose to remain in the faction in which they were born, but some, Beatrice included, choose to switch factions. This takes us to the action packed world of the Dauntless.

The Dauntless believe fear is the root of all evil in the world, thus they believe by overcoming their fear, the world would be a less violent place. The initiation the recruits must face are dangerous and quite honestly a little hard to believe, though exciting if it actually were to happen in real life.

Beatrice, who goes by Tris as a Dauntless, has learned that her personality or aptitude test has shown she is none of the five factions, but is in fact a Divergent. Something she is told to keep a secret and finds is dangerous to be.

Book one in the Divergent series turned out to be a great story, though I wouldn’t rate it higher than The Hunger Games. The beginning of the book felt a little elementary to me. The concept of five factions literally forming the way they do in real life seems unbelievable, whereas I could believe the world of Panem in The Hunger Games much more. Either way, it was a good book and I can’t wait to start the next book.

Book Review: Ex-Heroes


Title: Ex-Heroes (Ex-Heros #1)
Author: Peter Clines
Book Format: Paperback
Published: February 26th 2013 by Crown Publishing Group
Pages: 310

★★★★☆

I noticed this book as I was scanning the Sci-Fi shelves at a local bookstore chain. I read the back cover and thought it looked interesting, but not interesting enough to buy. That took me back to my computer to search the local library and I came up with a big fat zero. So, I resolved to do what any good old honest person would do, I challenged myself to read the entire book while at the aforementioned bookstore. That began my 77 day quest to read a book entirely on my lunch breaks at a bookstore. (You read that right, it took me 77 days to read 310 pages)

Now on to the book, we can debate the ethics of my challenge in the comments should you feel so inclined.

This is a superhero, zombie, and apocalypse story all rolled into one. What could go wrong with that? Absolutely nothing is what. I love superheroes; I love zombies; I love the apocalypse (well, apocalypse stories that is).

We are introduced to a smattering of new superheroes that have been working to protect the world, or more notably the California area around Beverly Hills from a raging zombie infestation. We meet the likes of Regenerator, who can regenerate of course, Cerberus who is really a woman who operates a giant robotic suit similar to Iron Man, along with Stealth, St. Gorgon, Zzzap, as well as many others. This was nothing but fun and action throughout the entire story.

The heroes have to fight against Ex’s which is what they call zombies, as in Ex-Human which is creative and really sticks in your mind and by the end, doesn’t seem strange.

In any superhero story, there needs to be a villain that is what might seem to be an insurmountable opponent. Initially that villain is just the Ex’s but it soon becomes clear that Cline has a twist up his sleeve. This isn’t the time or the place for me to divulge that twist, but it is exciting and worth the read.

Overall, I felt the book was excellent. The most difficult part of the book was simply the number of characters. Trying to keep track of all of the new superhero characters, their alter-egos and their powers got a little hard for me, so I finally stopped worrying about who was who and just let the story be told.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys zombies, superheros, and the apocalypse. Like I said before, what could go wrong with that idea? Absolutely nothing.

Book Review: The Guardian of Threshold


Title: The Guardian of Threshold (Threshold #1)
Author:  A.A. Volts
Book Format: Paperback
Published: December 16th 2012 by Wave Publishing Company 
Pages: 346

★★☆☆☆

The premise to The Guardian of Threshold had a lot of promise. A boy named Mark has discovered a way to potentially see his dead mother again in what is called the Astral Realm, basically the world or dimension of the dead and those who can travel there in their sleep. Like I said, the concept is quite intriguing.

In then end, the book was an utter disappointment. The majority of the book I spent completely annoyed, perhaps even angry, with Volts writing style. The first person style combined with what I assume was an attempt to relate to a YA audience entirely annoyed me. Parts of the dialog were so pointless that I literally had to keep from throwing the book across the room in disgust. Take a look at the example below.

“Huh? Oh… thanks,” said Jonas, making a funny face by twitching his nose.

“Can I use the restroom?” asked Carla.

“Sure,” I replied.

“You guys are already going to bed?” asked Jonas in disbelief.

“Ah, yes, it’s almost 11:30p.m.,” replied Carla, looking at her watch.

“So? Tomorrow is Sunday. We can sleep in late,” replied Jonas.

Details such as Carla asking to go to the restroom are parts of Volts story that simply make the story long and boring. Nobody cares that she needs to use the restroom unless something of importance is going to happen.

Normally I’m pretty forgiving of grammatical errors and even sentences or paragraphs that are a little uncomfortable, but this book was riddled with ridiculous dialog as the quote below showcases.

“Look! Is that Senator Kennedy?” said Jonas, pointing toward a signed photo of Kennedy on the wall just as the waitress showed up to take our orders and drop off a basket of breadsticks.

These are really good,” said Jonas, eating one.

“There’s nothing better tahn warm bread on a cold day like today,” I said, looking out the window…

Shortly therafter Jonas’ character repeats almost the same line about his food being good.

Margaret came by and dropped off our meals.

“This is really good,” Jonas said, taking a bite of his sub. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

That played zero part in the plot; it played zero part in any entertainment value of the story. It felt as though someone had told A.A. Volts that in order to be a good writer, you need to include as many details as possible and he took it as simply recording every thought a person might have in real life. Descriptions of things that are entirely obvious were either demeaning or simply a waste of time that I wasn’t sure I would make it through the book. Descriptions of mountains as being huge, as if we didn’t know mountains were huge. How about describing the mountains in a way I can picture said mountains in my head by explaining if they are snow capped and covered in a blanket of centuries old pine trees. Not just, they are huge. Really?

Few, nay, no book has ever made me so upset while reading it as this book has. I even held off posting this review for a couple months just to be sure I’ve let it sink in so as to try to be objective and I have returned now to write this final paragraph and my disdain for the writing style has not waned. Alas, I still had to give the book 2 stars instead of just one because I loved the concept of the story. The plot was good, it just wasn’t well executed. I won this book on a First Reads, Goodreads.com giveaway and was very excited to read this. I’m just glad I didn’t spend money on the book. It was still worth reading but only because it was free.

Book Review: The Dark and Hollow Places


Title: The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #3)
Author:  Carrie Ryan
Book Format: Kindle
Published: March 22nd 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 386
★★★☆☆

This is the third, and possibly, final chapter in the saga of The Forest of Hands and Teeth” zombie series written by Carrie Ryan. I was excited to start this book, though the second book in the series was a bit of a letdown compared to the first. The first book, which shares the series title, was incredible. The second was good, but certainly not as good, so I expected Ryan to return to some of the styles that worked so well in the first book. Unfortunately, she did not.

This third book continues from where the second leaves off, but now follows, once again, a different main character in Annah, the long lost sister of Gabry whom Annah knows as Abigail. Annah has decided it is time for her to leave the Dark City to try to find Abigail, but just as she is leaving the city she discovers her sister has just entered the city.

This discovery forces Annah on a journey to find her sister in the Dark City in which she reunites with Elias and meets Catcher and is taken prisoner on an island surrounded by the dead. I must admit, the reason I enjoyed the first book was due in part to the lack of romance, which the second and now third books delve way too deep into for my taste. It wouldn’t have been as much of an issue, had Ryan started the entire series off this way, but all that made book one so great was set to the background to focus more closely on the relationship and love lives of her characters.

I hope that this was not intended to show a female lead character in a strong light, as I felt it did not. I felt Annah never really took control of her life until she had zero option to do anything but, which was disheartening to say the least. I felt her character could have been portrayed a little less weakly and it would have made the story much stronger. When I read a horror zombie story, I want my lead character to be strong. Certainly I want them to have real flaws, but I don’t want them to have so many flaws that they start to annoy me, which Annah did for me.

I still gave the book 3 of 5 stars because the ending was great and most of the story as you picked away the romance portions were very well written and Ryan kept me engaged. It was a quick read which I always appreciate too. I recommend this book series but I warn that if you love the first book, you’ll only just like or tolerate the second and third.

Book Review: Batman, Vol. 1| The Court of Owls


Title: Batman, Vol. 1 | The Court of Owls
Author: Scott Snyder,  Greg Capullo (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator)
Book Format: Hardcover
Published: May 9th 2012
Pages: 176
★★★★★

WOW! I loved this book. I really loved it. The illustration work was phenomenal and the story was just as phenomenal. I should be clear, I actually read Batman: The Night of the Owls first, as I had won it in a giveaway so I was a little apprehensive that I was going to get bored going back to the beginning. I did not get bored one bit. I don’t recommend starting the way I did, but perhaps it allowed me to appreciate this volume even more.

Like I said, the artwork was mind blowing. It’s hard to believe people can draw like that. There was one point in which Batman is in the Labyrinth of the Court of Owls and he is fighting to retain his senses and you actually have to flip the book upside down to read. It was a simple trick, but it sure gave you a loss of direction. I completely lost my bearings and had to keep checking the cover of the book to see what direction to turn the page. That was really cool.

I cannot say enough great things about this book. I didn’t really find anything I didn’t like so that is the reason for the 5 stars. Go out and read this volume and then read the rest of the series.

Digital or Physical Comics?


Here’s my dilemma; I’ve been getting into comic books (graphic novels) a lot in the last month to two months now and I think I’m ready to start buying some. What I’d like to do is check out the DC Comics The New 52 series. I’ve read a couple of them and have really liked them. The problem is that I want to read all 52, or at least Volume 1 of all 52. As I see it. I have 4 options as noted below.

Give me your opinion

Digital from DC Comics Direct

Price Per Book – $0.99
Total Cost for all – $52.00

Pros

  • Cheapest route
  • Guaranteed available (for the most part)
  • Very Portable
  • Backed up (can’t lose in a fire)
  • Cheap and easy to continue buying additional volumes (if they keep the price down)
  • Cheap enough I can buy the volumes I love in hardcover or paperback

Cons

  • Less nostalgic reading
  • Can’t share with friend
  • No guarantee the prices will remain down

DC Comics: The New 52 (contains all 52 volume 1’s in Hardcover)

Average Price Per Book – $2.26
Total Cost for all – $117.64

Pros

  • Cheapest physical route (not too far off from Digital)
  • Guaranteed available (for a limited time)
  • Nostalgia, but maybe not as much in a bundled format
  • Can share with friends

Cons

  • Big & Heavy
  • No guarantee the prices will remain down
  • No guarantee (unlikely) that all volumes will be bundled like this

Paperback from Amazon

Price Per Book – $10.00-$15.00
Total Cost for all – $520-$780

Pros

  • Availability but may be limited
  • Nostalgia
  • Can share with friends
  • Portable (not as portable as Digital)

Cons

  • Expensive (especially if wanting to buy more in series)
  • Not as durable

Hardcover from Amazon

Price Per Book – $17.00-$24.00
Total Cost for all – $884-$1,248

Pros

  • Availability but may be limited
  • Nostalgia
  • Can share with friends
  • Portable (not as portable as Digital)

Cons

  • Expensive (Out of my price range to get all 52)

I need your help. Which should I do? I’m leaning towards the electronic versions right now simply because it’s so cheap. Let me know by completing the poll I’ve attached to this article. Thank you for your help, if you participate. If you want, leave me feedback in the comments too as to why you like one over the other.

Book Review: Sin City | Family Values


Book Title: Sin City: Vol. 5 | Family Values (Sin City)
Author: Frank Miller
Book Format: Paperback
Published: January 1st 1997
Pages: 128
★★☆☆☆

This volume of the Frank Miller Sin City saga took me a long time to finish. Not because it’s long or difficult to read, I just had a lot of other stuff on my plate, so I took my time with it.

I found this one to be rather unremarkable. The story was interesting and all, but I didn’t find myself as interested in Miho as perhaps others might. Yes, she is an intriguing character, but the concept of a ruthless killer riding around on rollerblades is somewhat… well… lame. It just kept bringing me back to Heather Graham’s character in Boogey Nights and I couldn’t take it seriously.

The artwork was on par with the rest of Millers volumes in the series thus far, so I have no complaints there. I just found the story a bit fragmented from the rest of the volumes. It was, simply forgettable in my opinion. I’m hoping the next volume Sin City, Vol. 6: Booze, Broads, and Bullets will get back to what Miller did great in the first 4 volumes.

I had to come back to reality when I gave this book a rating. I originally gave it 3 of 5 stars, and then realized, I really just didn’t like the book that much, so I should rate it how I liked it. I hate to do it because I love Frank Millers work.

Book Review: Inheritance


Book Title: Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle #4)
Author: Christopher Paolini
Book Format: Kindle
Published: November 8th 2011
Pages: 849
★★★★☆

This is the 4th and last of The Inheritance Cycle series  by Christopher Paolini. Paolini continues the quest of the Varden to defeat the evil King Galbatorix and rid all of Alagesia of his terror.

The book is long, at 849 pages, it took me a while to finish. That is always my biggest issue with epic stories. Too often, I feel we get too much fluff. Countless times I found myself thinking “Get on with it already.” Most times, however, Paolini found a way to make those details become important to me and I regretted my previous complaints. That’s not to say I enjoyed every little detail, I still think 100 or 200 less pages could have told the same story without losing any quality.

That being said, I felt this was one of the darker of the four books. I began feeling a slight contempt for Roran especially as they went from city to city destroying the Empire’s armies. It felt at times the killing was almost unwarranted. Yes, Galbatorix has enslaved his armies through magic, but I found myself thinking, “Doesn’t that make killing these people all the worse?” It may be a necessary end, but it got difficult, which in my opinion, was the genius of the beginning and middle of the book. To get me, someone who enjoys a good slasher movie/book, to start feeling compassion for the enemy is quite the feat and I tip my hat to Paolini for this.

Inheritance is jam packed with violence, politics, magic, and love, though light on the love which is fine by me, lest the book double in length to go through all of that.

I’m happy to say I’ve finished the series and I would be interested to see what Eragon will do in the future, so I’m hoping Paolini may choose to revisit the world of Alagesia at some point, though I do need a break from it, so maybe in a couple years. I may find myself reading the series again and putting it in my list of books I should simply buy rather than check out from the library.

I give this a 4 of 5 star rating, it losing a star solely for the length of the book and the ending droned on a bit long as well, though I appreciate that it wasn’t left open with the obvious intention of a sequel. Which is why I want one all the more.

My Rating

Book Review: The Colonel’s Mistake


Book Title: The Colonel’s Mistake (The Sava Series)
Author: Dan Mayland
Book Format: Paperback
Published: August 2012
Pages: 329

This is Dan Mayland’s first published book as far as I can tell and it was a pleasant surprise. I won this book from yet again another Goodreads.com First Reads giveaway so I was actually a little hesitant to start this one. I signed up for it based on the description rather than the book title as I felt, and still do feel the title needs a rework (I’ll explain later).

The story follows a retired CIA operative named Mark Sava as he works to stop a nuclear device from getting into the wrong hands. It’s a fairly typical story for an action drama set in the middle east, but somehow Mayland makes the story interesting. Perhaps he provided just enough believable details about the places Sava’s character visits and the people he meets that it’s just believable to keep my interest. I don’t typically enjoy stories like this, namely because I prefer living in worlds that could never exist (i.e. I don’t like books about reality). Needless to say, the book was great. There was lots of action, suspense, mystery, and a little bit of humor, just a little, to keep me going.

My only complaint was nearing the end of the book, Sava’s character seemed to become a surfer at some point, saying “dude” more than I would expect a former CIA operative who is getting up there in age would. I just couldn’t picture him saying “dude” in the context it was used in the situations used. Perhaps the young gun he hired I could see him using it, but it just didn’t fit and he didn’t seem to say it throughout the book. Certainly not a reason to push a review of the book to the negative, however.

I even liked the ending. Too often, this style of book ends with a lead into the next book rather than building a believable ending. I won’t give anything away, but the ending is solid and I see Mayland does have a sequel to this story called The Leveling which I’ll have to be sure to read as well to find out what else Mark Sava is going to do. Perhaps I’ll even win it in another giveaway via Goodreads.com.

I highly recommend this book as it is a great read and you’ll not be disappointed, unless you hate decent books. I rated this book with 4 of 5 stars.

I almost forgot to explain my dislike for the title. Throughout the story I kept wondering about the mistake the Colonel was going to make. You do figure out the mistake he made and it is apparent, but it still seemed a bit strange to make the title of the story about the Colonel who is not the main character. I don’t have a good alternative title, but it just didn’t work for me. Just don’t let the title stop you from reading the book, though.