Category Archives: Wednesdays with Lind-say!

“Love This? Try This!” and Review – “Sleeping Giants”


Poster: here; book: here

I wasn’t allowed to watch The X-Files when I was younger; you see, I was very impressionable. Still am. If you look back through the Shrews archives, you’ll see plenty of evidence of my ongoing problem with reverse-projection, or adopting the feelings of the characters in books/on TV. My parents assumed The X-Files would scare me, so I lived twenty-some odd years of my life sans-Mulder before my eyes were opened to the majesty of Fox and Dana, the Smoking Man, conspiracies aplenty, and the “I want to believe” poster. ***Sidebar: that new season?! Amazeness!!***

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is The X-Files in book form.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

The whole time I was reading this novel, I just could not get over how much it felt like The X-Files. It has science, government conspiracies, potential aliens, political intrigue, and a mysterious Puppet-Master; the only thing it’s missing is Mulder in 90’s jeans (YUM!).

But honestly, this was a very interesting read. Much akin to Illuminae, the format is a-typical, since the whole novel is told via interviews, journal entries, and military reports. This made it a very quick read but it also included a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo when interviewing certain characters, so I got bogged down a few times. Pierce Brown’s blurb likened it to Wier’s The Martian, which managed to subtly integrate science and math into an action packed sequence of events. Neuvel attempted to accomplish the same feat, but it wasn’t nearly as effortless and fluid. I ended up skimming over these parts instead of tolerating science long enough to subconsciously learn something.

Otherwise, I loved the format. I’d like to see more variance next time; about 90% of the story was told in interviews and I think more sources and more rotation would keep readers more interested. Illuminae did it best, but Secret Giants isn’t too far behind.

The main issue for me was that the characters were not particularly likable. This is partly due to the ways in which these characters were portrayed; some were cold and distant, some were psychopaths, some were pathetic, and the rest were entirely forgettable. Only one character was likable, but maybe that’s because I don’t often relate to the militaristic, emotionally damaged bossypants. The other possibility is that the unreliable narration did its job and I’m not sure whom I trust. This honestly may not be a problem for other readers, but it was a problem for me. I have a hard time committing, emotionally, to a book if I can’t forge a connection with any of the characters. Don’t believe me? Ask my review of The Girl on the Train.

Overall, 4 stars. It wasn’t a book that consumed my thoughts when I wasn’t able to read, but it was certainly an interesting and unique idea. It was moderately clean; minor sexual references; I don’t remember curse words… definitely a good choice for anyone interested in science, robotics, and/or aliens.

P.S. it’s the first in a series and the epilogue did a serious mic-drop DRAMA moment, so I’m jazzed to keep going!

I want to believe!!!



Filed under Book Review, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

“Keep It Fresh” Award

I’ve been so kindly nominated for the “Keep It Fresh” Award by Nora at Reading Experiences with Nora. Definitely go check out her blog and her awesome reviews. Thanks, Nora!

Guys, this award is intense; get ready!


  1. Post the rules before starting and link back to this post as a reference for other bloggers.
  2. Part AAnswer each of the fruit questions (each fruit corresponds to a book!) & add pictures plus why you thought that particular book deserves that particular fruit if possible.
  3. Part BChoose your favorite fruit (even if it is one of the fruits in part A). Come up with a question that we didn’t ask and answer it.
  4. Part CCreate your own smoothie from the fruits in Part A (imagine a Lemon-Tomato-Apple smoothie ~ yuck), and find a book that would correlate to your smoothie!
  5. Nominate as many and anyone that you think are deserving of this award but it would be nice if you nominated a minimum of 5!
  6. Notify your nominees of the nomination.
  7. The most important rules? Have fun and of course, keep it fresh!

Part A:

1. Strawberries – Name the sweetest book you’ve read. (e.g. sweet in terms of the characters or if the story takes place in a sweet world… etc.)
I don’t read very many sweet books, almost as a rule. Sweetness isn’t really my shtick, but I did recently win Nicola Yoon’s novel, Everything, Everything, in a raffle, and I have heard numerous things about it, one of which is that it sounds crazy sweet. Since I don’t have any recent reads that are even slightly sweet, I pick that!


2. Coconut – What is a book that you would bring on vacation with you to a tropical destination? (Or if you’re just relaxing at the beach…)
Sidebar: I am not a beach person. Sand sucks. I’m more of a mountains and forests girl, so I’ll connect to this one as follows: coconuts grow on trees, trees make forests, so what book would I take on a trip to the forest? Currently, Morning Star by Pierce Brown is my “take it with you; read it at stop lights; flake on plans so you can read” book. I’d love to be chilling in a cabin in the woods, nestled up by the fire, reading this masterpiece of literature. Actually, what am I even doing completing this post right now? WHY AM I NOT READING?? (It has a 4.64 on Goodreads; did you hear me??? 4.64 = unprecedented success rating!! OK, I have to stop.)

3. Pineapple – What is a book that you didn’t think you would like by judging its cover/summary/the first few pages but started to grow on you?
Right before I got Morning Star from my generous and infinitely wise professor, I was reading The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. I was not planning to like this book since the dust jacket made it sound like it was just going to be girl-fights and Drama City. I do not enjoy girl drama in my real life, so why would I enjoy it in my books (also, it has swirls and flowers on the cover which seemed like a red flag)? Surprisingly, though, the drama level is more intriguing than exhausting. I’ll save my overall feelings for the review, but I’ll just say it’s better than I thought it would be.

4. Orange – What’s the juiciest book you’ve read? (e.g. A book with tons of action, romance… etc.)
This may not qualify as “juicy” by some standards, but I don’t read a lot of romance so I’ll have to base my decision on dramatic plot twists and character depth. Thus, my “juicy” choice is Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Click here for my full review, but I feel the need to reiterate how much I loved this book! It started with a tolerable amount of drama over lost love and then proceeds to more pressing matters, like the end of the world. The love interest was there for readers who just love that sort of thing, but for the rest of us, it was brimming with action, plot twists, and life-threatening scenarios that amped up the juice factor!

5. Watermelon – A watery book (e.g. There wasn’t tons of substance to the book/the details were just too watery…etc. Don’t get us wrong though, we love watermelons!)
I do not often use the term “watery” to describe a book, but I guess if I had to pick a book that felt lacking in terms of details and development, I’d have to pick Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer. I have to start by saying that I found the book to be delightful and simple, despite the subject matter, but it was only 200 pages, so the amount of depth to the characters and the events seemed light. Click here for my full review, but I feel like a lot more could have been written about these characters and their experiences than was written in Stones on a Grave.

6. Dragonfruit – What’s the most unique book you’ve read? (e.g. Unique in writing style, characters, plot… etc.)
Since I can’t/shouldn’t say Illuminae again (the format of that novel was unlike anything I’ve ever read), I’ll say Maus and Maus II. I’ve read a lot of literature about WWII and the horrific events that occurred during that time, but the graphic novels by Art Spiegelman were unlike any historical account I had read until then. The comic-style format and the depiction of different nationalities as animals did not demean or lighten the story, but rather allowed for the inclusion of images of the horrific conditions endured during WWII. This was my first experience with graphic novels and I think they were the perfect books to read to instantly show the validity of the genre. Full review here.

girlonthetrain7. Lemons – Name a book that made you feel sour. (e.g. The emotions were just sour, you just felt sour reading the book, or the book includes sour characters… etc.)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was a book that left me feeling grumpy and sour. I hated the characters; not most of them, but all of them. The characters were awful, the events were awful, the outlook on life was awful, the message was awful. Review here, but everything about that book was sour.


Image from

8. Tomato – What is a wonderful book that you think should be more widely known? Or a fantastic author whom you think deserves more recognition? (Since some may not know that tomatoes are actually fruits!)

PIERCE BROWN!!! His series, Red Rising Trilogy, is slowly gaining momentum and recognition, but he should be worlds more popular than he is. Everybody should be talking about these books, and soon they will be.

9. Apple – Name a really stereotypical book of a certain genre just like apples which are typical fruits. In the end was that book good or not? (e.g. A very typical contemporary/fantasy book… etc.)
I feel like my original idea of YA Lit was that all the books were like Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, which was not my jam. I assumed everything was going to be lovelorn teens crying about high school drama, hating on parents, arguing with friends, and listening to crap music. Shiver was exactly that with a side of light bestiality. Read my review for all the disappointments.

10. Blueberries – Name a book that made you feel blue. (Any sad, depressing books that you’ve read?)
We read Slaughterhouse-Five as a class in last semester and it was hugely depressing. It was about war, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but the characters were unlikable and (obviously) the situations were miserable, so I was not enjoying myself the whole time I was reading it. More here, but in summation: blah!



Click here for Goodreads



11. Grapefruit – Any bitter books? (e.g. a book that was blue but MORE… do you have any bitter resentments towards characters from a book? Any sour turned bitter emotions? Any uber-hateful villains?)
Golden Son. There were a few sankes in the grass and I’m SO UPSET! God, these books are good. Review here.



12. Limes – Name a funny book that you’ve read because limes add flavour and so does humour with every book.
Nimona!! Another example of a graphic novel just blowing my expectations into the water. There were so many times where I’d snort out laughter at the silly images or the relatable outbursts and displays of Nimona’s personality. I loved this book and, if rumors are true, this book should be making its way into middle grades classrooms very soon. Can’t wait! Review here.


Part B: (create your own)

Fizzy Fruit – Name an audiobook book that was a delight, because Fizzy Fruit is an extremely audible, delish experience!

First things first: here is the video explaining Fizzy Fruit. My brother-in-law is making it this weekend, so I have HIGH hopes.

nyeNow, to the book: Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye (the Science Guy). I’ll be honest, I’m inclined to believe anything that Bill Nye (the Science Guy) says, not because he is an engineer and I blindly follow people smarter than myself, but because he never fails to provide evidence. Solid scientific proof is the name of his game, and I adore someone who can backup his/her argument instead of just spewing opinions. Also, I have always been a big advocate of environmental responsibility and efficiency, so Bill Nye (the Science Guy) is the most reputable person I’ve (n)ever met. Also, he’s bff’s with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, so… CHECK! I’m finishing the audiobook now, so stay tuned for a full review, but believe me. It’s good.

Part C: (smoothie!)

Coconut/Orange/Lime (Vacationable/Juicy/Funny) = Morning Star!!!!!!!!! Reading now. It is amazing. Enough said.


Astra at A Strangers Guide to Novels

Jackie at FallininLovewiththeSoundofWords

Jasmine at SmileyBookLover

Maria at Big City Bookworm

Raquel at Rakioddbooks

Yay, guys! So thanks again to Nora and I can’t wait to hear what these ladies have to say!

Team Sevro!


Filed under Book Tag/Award, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

L: Review of Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”

I love Huey Lewis and the News. It is physically impossible for me to refrain from dancing while listening to “Power of Love.” However, my father used to make fun of “The Heart of Rock & Roll” because he said that it seemed like the purpose of the song was to list as many cities as possible so that everyone hears the shout-out to their city and thereby likes the song. I’ll go ahead and admit that I am more inclined to like a song that fondly mentions Atlanta, or “A-town.” So, by including shout outs to as many cities as possible, Mr. Lewis is ensuring that his song is enjoyed by as many residents of as many cities as possible. Smart move, Huey. Smart move. Having said that, I feel like Ernest Cline was replicating this “mass appeal” idea in his novel Ready Player One.

Let us get the obvious task out of the way:

Click here for Goodreads

Click here for Goodreads

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

This novel has a cult following, which is why it has been sitting on my TBR list for years. However, I did not love this book, especially not with the ferocity with which others seem to love it. My number one qualm with the novel was the Huey Lewis-esque mass appeal aspect, which was less “city shout-outs” and more “make every 80’s reference possible.” I’d say about 50% of Ready Player One was 80’s pop culture references, 40% was straight up info dump, and 10% was action. While I did love the connection to 80’s culture (he mentioned Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” within the first two pages and that is MY JAM, so I was immediately on board), it struck me as Cline’s attempt at mass appeal, naming as many 80’s pop culture movies, TV shows, songs, video games, etc. as possible so that if readers didn’t get one reference, they might get the next one, or the next one. It didn’t take long for my impression to go from, “he’s just trying to include everyone” to “oh, he’s just using this book to display his vast knowledge of 80’s culture.” It became frustrating; he’d often name some obscure cult classic but not explain how it related to the events in the novel. Cline quickly became that “friend” that everyone has that prides himself on his vast amount of “trivia knowledge,” who finds excuses to pepper the conversation with irrelevant info, just to show everyone that he knows a lot of things about a lot of things. YES, THANKS, WE GET IT!

One of the issues with sci-fi literature is that a good bit of time has to be dedicated to “world building” or setting the scene and updating readers on the backstory of the novel. There is a fluid way of incorporating this info; read The Martian and you’ll see what I mean. Cline did not achieve that. A large portion (40%, by my earlier estimate) of the book is Info Dump City. I’m talking about pages upon pages describing the minutiae of Wade’s world. His neighborhood, his hideout, his avatar, his avatar’s clothes, his video game console, gloves, goggles, chair, etc. are all described in painful, paragraph-consuming detail. I eventually learned to scan paragraphs for irrelevant details, so that I could skip the 4 paragraphs in which Cline describes the front door of Wade’s apartment.

If you can sift through the mounds of “info overkill” and ignore the millions of obscure 80’s references, the events of the book are quite unique and interesting. I like that Cline was able to focus so strongly on “geek” culture that not being nerdy enough became a disadvantage for readers. In this novel, the nerdier you are, the cooler you are. I LOVE that idea. I have always considered myself nerdy (see any of my countless LOTR references for examples), but I was so not nerdy enough to get all the geek culture shout-outs in this book, and I felt left out. It’s about time that the nerds get to be the “in crowd,” so I didn’t mind that most of it went over my head. However, I could tell that I was not the intended audience. I don’t doubt that if I were a teen aged, geeky, socially awkward, video game-loving boy, I would have liked this book far more than I did as my current self.

As it is, I’m giving it 3 stars. It was just okay. I won’t read it again, but I won’t deter anyone from reading it. Another one bites the dust (80’s reference!!).


Filed under Book Review, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

L: Review of Maggie Stiefvater’s “Shiver”

Maggie Stiefvater LOVES a female protagonist, and that’s just swell; Maggie is herself a female, so it makes sense that she sees things from a female’s perspective, and I must say that the female protagonists in the other two novels I recently read were strong, intelligent, self-controlled women. They were great. Grace Brisbane, however, is the main character of Stiefvater’s novel, Shiver, and Grace is the worst.

Let me be clear that I read these novels in the opposite order in which they were written, so I started with Puck Connoly (a lovely display of teen wit, wisdom, and feminist determination) and ended with Grace Brisbane (a smart girl who turns into a bumbling fool when interacting with her wolf-boy lover). Grace was written first, so maybe Stiefvater learned from her mistake and upped her game in terms of female characters and their ability to not devolve into to imbeciles when talking to their crushes. Anyway, read this and then we’ll discuss more…

Click here for Goodreads

Click here for Goodreads

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

First things first: another dumb cover. Heart leaves? Please. Enough.

Secondly, as a reader who read the blurb before reading the novel, I knew this was a werewolf scenario (like I said in my last post, I’m doing an author study; I’m branching out to new genres and it clearly isn’t working), so I knew that the wolf obsessively mentioned in the beginning was going to end up being her boy-lover. But let’s pretend I didn’t know that, just for a second. The first 60-ish pages were wasted on Grace Brisbane admitting that she was in love with “her” yellow-eyed wolf. Now I’m giving her a lot of credit by saying, “ok, maybe she exaggerated. She’s not in love with a wolf,” but the writing sure did make it difficult for me to give that credit. I mean, seriously? Are we just supposed to let this go, as though humans are all too frequently in love with savage animal beasts? No, she was a pure freak. Bestiality much? Also, can I just say that Grace needs to play the lottery or something, because what are the chances that her wolf friend would just turn out to be an age- and species-appropriate, attractive young man? I’m guessing slim.

Otherwise, it was dumb. Once Sam morphs into a semi-appropriate love interest (let’s not forget that Grace’s new bf still spends half the year pooping in the woods and howling at the moon), they both develop an obsession with one another that is unhealthy on all accounts. I’m not just throwing the word “obsession” around all willy nilly; Grace and Sam readily admit that they are obsessed with one another. Their relationship is inadvisable, at best, and although I noticed that pretty much right away, I’m not confident that young, impressionable students would be able to separate the healthy themes from the unhealthy ones. I’m not entirely sure I’d even have this in my classroom library; it does address issues like peer pressure, friendships, and parental issues, but not to an extent that I think readers would learn anything or benefit from this story. In a nutshell, don’t waste your time or it’ll waste it for you.

GUYS, I have no more assigned readings until January!! I’ve forgotten what it feels like to pick my own book! Suggestions are welcome and stay tuned for NON-YA reviews!


Filed under Book Review, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

Class Assignment: Middle School Observations

On Tuesday, I lived out just about everyone’s worst nightmare: I went back to middle school. I was tasked with following the class schedule of a typical 7th grade student at a local middle school in order to put myself into the shoes of today’s student (the very same students, in terms of age, that I hope to one day teach) and get a better understanding of a typical school day from their perspective. I’m extremely glad that I went into this task knowing that this was my purpose, because that completely altered the way I viewed each class period and each teacher, not with the intent to learn something from the teachers (in terms of lessons or practices), but to learn from the kids (in terms of what works and what absolutely does not).

Let me first say that I was exhausted after that day, and my observations hardly even qualify as active participation throughout the day. I cannot give enough credit to those teachers for doing this job, day after day. But I will say that it was very clear which teachers had been… affected by the job, and it was in those same classrooms that the students were little tiny, talkative, distracted, disrespectful monsters. I went to 7 class periods and can honestly say that the kids I shadowed were only willfully engaged in two of them. The first was P.E. and they seemed to enjoy getting away from the lectures and getting to play outside with their friends for a while. Whereas Orchestra class had crept by with the students regularly checking the clock on the wall while some were allowed just to choose not to participate in the activities, P.E. seemed to pass far too quickly. They didn’t want to go inside, because they were having fun participating.

However, the only content class that engaged the students was, luckily for me, English. The teacher was everything I hope to exemplify one day; she was stern enough that they got quiet when she asked and never talked when she was talking but she was personable enough that they still felt like they could participate, sometimes in fun or funny ways.

Nothing speaks to angsty teens like teen angst. Click here for Goodreads

Nothing speaks to angsty teens like teen angst. Click here for Goodreads

They were reading After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick and each student’s nose was buried in a copy of the book while an audio version was played aloud. They were engaged with the assignment and with one another in a way that I hadn’t seen for the other 6 hours that day. This wasn’t about playing or talking with friends, like in P.E.; this was a solitary act of reading that each student wanted to do, not because the teacher assigned it (although, Mrs. H. probably could’ve gotten them to do anything), but because they liked the book and wanted to know what happened next. They didn’t want to put the books down when their chapters were completed and I actually heard a few groans as they returned to homeroom for the final bell. When they were actively participating and engaged in the classroom activity, they enjoyed themselves, learned the intended lesson, and were unhappy when it was over. This was a huge juxtaposition to the same kids running out of their Life Science class as though the room was on fire.

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that time flies when you’re having fun and it’s wonderful to see that such is also the case when you’re learning. I learned a lot from this experience; not only is there something about me and/or my appearance that 7th grade females consider to be unbelievably hilarious (I can only assume that they saw through my professional exterior and could detect my jovial spirit, which apparently brought them immense joy), but I now know that with the right teacher, the right disciplinary measures and attitude, and the right classroom activities, kids who are otherwise bored and disinterested in education can be engaged in a way that helps them to see enjoyment in learning and reading. I think I’m closer to knowing what those “right” things are after my middle school repeat. I must say, though, I hope I don’t have to do that again.

Let me just comment that this was utterly enlightening in terms of understanding what is expected of middle grades students and why, I think, it is generally unreasonable. I’m in my late twenties and have received “higher education” and life experience so, by all accounts, I should be better equipped to maintain focus for longer periods of time than I was 15 years ago. However, I wasn’t any more focused than the students I shadowed all day, and I, personally, considered the “constant lectures, constant focus, constant good behavior, constant engagement, minuscule break for lunch and then right back to it, for 8 hours, five days a week, plus homework” expectancy to be not only unattainable, but practically torture! The people making the decisions about what is required of today’s students would do well to go back to 7th grade for a day. We’re asking a lot of these kids and, honestly, it’s no wonder that they can’t focus for a 50 minute lecture, 7 times a day, five days a week. I hope I can remember this in the future when a rowdy student gets on my last nerve, and hopefully I’ll learn plenty of ways that I can harness that energy, or adapt my lessons to suit the needs of these kids.


Filed under Class Assignment, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

Class Assignment – Characters I’d Date

The very fist assignment of my very first Graduate class is a two-parter: first, create a blog (Done! Finally, Untamed Shrews comes in handy) and then post a response to a lit-related question hand-picked by Dr. Kajder. My task was to name ten characters with whom I’d go on a date! Judge ye not any of my decisions; many of my suitors will be considered obvious choices while the others may seem questionable due to ALLEGEDLY being hard-core murderers. It’s 2015, people. We all come with baggage.


Photo from

1. Aragorn from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series. Let me be clear that listing only one of the many datable men in the LOTR trilogy is happening out of sheer willpower and the desire for interest and diversity. Big shout outs to Eomer and Faramir, whom I would totally be dating on the side. I imagine King Elessar and I would sip mead under the somewhat sparse shade of the White Tree of Gondor with Pippin singing in the background.

hp2. Harry Potter from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, because who among us could turn down a date with the boy who lived? We’d obviously enjoy Butterbeers while blindly trying Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans obtained from Honeydukes.

3. Amos Burton from James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series. Amos is an avocado of a person, with a rough and unappealing exterior but hearty goodness inside. Amos and I would drink bulbs of coffee on the spaceship Rocinante while watching the stars and floating in null gravity.

4. Jon Snow from George R. R. Martian’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Jon’s the brooding type so we’d take Ghost for a silent walk along the top of The Wall until I couldn’t take it and totally spilled the beans on the conspiracy theory about his parentage.


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5. Mark Watney from Andy Weir’s The Martian. Mark survived the impossible, so I’d pretty much just sit and feel totally out of my league while he regaled me with stories over a dinner of anything but potatoes.

Elijah Wood plays Jonathan is

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6. Jonathan Safran Foer (the character) from Jonathan Safran Foer’s (the author) Everything is Illuminated. Jonathan is super into his history and heritage so we’d take in a museum on Jewish history and I’d try to be way more intellectual and sensitive than I am.

7. Colonel Brandon from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. True to the appropriateness of the times, Colonel Brandon would call on the ladies of the Coleman house and, after nibbling scones and casually mentioning my many good qualities, we would jump to the conclusion that he would be proposing in like a week.

8. Quincey Morris from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Again, in lieu of the era, Quincey would propose marriage after being around me maybe a handful of times, I would hastily accept due to his wealth, and we’d ride off into the Transylvanian sunset, guns blazing, on his big, American horse.

Photo from

9. Frankenstein’s monster from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He’s clearly my most intelligent bachelor, so we’d sit in a cave in the side of his mountaintop lair, contemplating the meaning of life and the cruelty and ignorance of that butthole, Dr. F. Then I’d quickly realize we weren’t compatible and I’d help him whip up a suitable companion for his South American travels.


Photo from

10. Dexter from Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series. Dexter is a busy murderer, I mean man, so we’d pencil in a lunch date, I’d ignore the blood on his collar while he talked about forensics, and I’d leave hoping for another date, blissfully ignorant of the body in his trunk.

Go right ahead, bring out bachelor number one!


Filed under Class Assignment, Lindsay, Not A Book Review, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

Love This? Try This! – “Expanse” Series & Review of “Caliban’s War”


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My desire to find my next serious Series obsession continually leads me down a long, hard road with about a 90% failure rating. Most premier volumes I consume with desperate positivity that “THIS series is about to rock my world” and by the end of the book I’m convinced I’ll never feel joy again. Every series is held against the impossibly high standards set by The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Harry Potter books. I need to scratch that itch again; I desperately need more books that will fill me with the joy, suspense, anticipation, and “can’t stop, won’t stop” reading obsession that I get when reading the Godfathers of series work.

If you read my review of Andy Wier’s The Martian, you’ll remember that it brought home the bacon in terms of scratching the “must read good book” itch, but it was just one book. Boom, done. I read it and now it’s over, which is a huge shame because I found out that I may or may not totally dig the space theme! Then, one fine day, I saw the latest release in the Expanse Series alongside The Martian in a list of comparatively kickass novels and signed myself right up, and thank god I did. The series is apparently considered to be a “space opera,” which I hear means battles, drama, and political intrigue that take place in space. Just like in The Martian, we’re propelled into the future and are introduced to advanced technology, very appealing and relatable characters, and life-threatening crises that can only be solved by intelligent, resourceful people. The Expanse books contain less science and math than The Martian and more characters, locations, technology, relationships (romantic and non), and threats to the human species. Oh, and volumes! There are five so far and reportedly the SyFy channel is basing a TV series on the novels.

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So, if you’re interested, see my review of Leviathan Wakes to get a general idea of the first volume. As for Caliban’s War, the second volume, I’m still addicted. James Holden and his crew are tasked with inspecting Ganymede, which has suffered an attack by a seemingly advanced version of the protomolecule discovered in the first book. They team up with a Martian Marine and a representative of Earth’s United Nations to help a Ganymede scientist search the solar system for his daughter, lost during the attack. Her abduction becomes more evidently linked to the protomolecule with each clue and, eventually, the possible end of the human race.

Overall, the pace doesn’t slow down. The first book prepared me for the outer space political turmoil and potential bio-hazardous threat, but this volume was jam packed with surprises and moments that made it necessary to remind myself, “It’s just a book. These are not real people/situations.” I applaud Corey for not losing any momentum, which is easy to do with a Vol. 2, but instead packing more punches and bringing a pre-established story into a new light. I love it. I’m obsessed and, if the others continue to thrill me, it’ll be promoted to sit alongside the series gods.

I’d love to know if anyone else has read this series or what other series has rocked your world! Do you like “space opera”? What are some of your favorite examples?

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L: Book/Movie Review: Jurassic Park/World

As soon as I saw a trailer for “Jurassic World,” I penciled in a movie date night for opening weekend and got to work on playing catch up. First things first, I read the book. Having checked that off my To Do list, I had to find a copy of the original “Jurassic Park” movie (which I had never seen) so I could compare the two and prepare myself for the majesty that undoubtedly would be “Jurassic World.” I first searched Netflix and was sorely disappointed when they weren’t doing one of their “Spotlights!!” that they love so dearly. Shame on Netflix. Anyway, long story short, all the rental store copies were out already so I had to buy the only copy left at Wal-Mart. No, I’m not proud of it, but desperate times call for desperate measures and sometimes the only copy in town is at the devil’s supermarket. I don’t apologize.

Jurassic Park

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So, having seen the the movie and read the book, I can’t really come up with that many discrepancies. It pretty much stuck to the book, and with good reason! They made a few choices that I thought were excusable, considering the time restrictions and that too many characters can lead to crowded confusion, so some events and experiences were consolidated from two separate book characters to one in the movie, and some events were skipped or drastically shortened, for the sake of a short film. I will say, as is almost always the case, the book has a lot more exciting moments that are omitted from the movie, and I really missed several of them, but it does such a great job of conveying to viewers the same feeling of terrified smallness and fragility that is imparted in the book. I loved Samuel L. Jackson as Arnold. I loved Newman (that is his name. Deal with it.) as Nedry. I loved Jeff Goldblum. I loved his shirtless scene. I loved the director for throwing that in there for no good reason. One of my only issues was that the kids were opposites (Tim was supposed to be the older sibling, maybe 11, and less annoying while Lex was like 8 and a raging nuisance throughout), which I just didn’t understand the benefit to that change. I loved how Dr. Grant and Tim bonded in the book, which never happened in the movie, since Tim was a little idiot. The other issue was that most of the people who died in the book lived in the movie, and vice versa. That helicopter ride away from the island was carrying at least 3 dead book characters, and then people who lived in the book were killed off in the movie. I’m not dumb, so I understand that keeping the likable characters provides appeal for the sequels. Who can resist the siren’s song of more Goldblum? NOBODY. So, I get it, I just didn’t expect it.

Jurassic World

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Now, “Jurassic World.” Where to begin? It was awesome. I adored all the references to the original movie, and I think that was a really cool way to encourage the allegiance of fans of the original film. I heard a lot of griping about the plot being similar to the second film, but I didn’t see that one so I’m not bothered. Also, apparently nobody liked the second one, so who cares if they improve upon it? The family stuff was a little hokey, but again, not bothered. The amusement park was incredibly believable and all of the technology available for a futuristic zoological park seemed ambitious but, again, believable. I could totally see our society being capable of such attractions and technologies if dinosaur DNA became a reality. I also heard people complain that the idea of needing to create a new dinosaur to maintain the guests’ interest wasn’t believable since no one would ever get tired of preexisting dinosaurs. I disagree. I buy it; as soon as anything new is discovered, it’s all the rage until society becomes used to it. Think about all of the technologies imagined on the Starship Enterprise. Viewers THEN considered those things implausible and now almost all of them are everyday realities. Dinosaurs would undoubtedly be so incredibly kickass for the first few years, or even decades, but eventually they’d be commonplace and I think that is when this film is meant to take place. Chris Pratt was unstoppable playing Owen, the Raptor trainer, and I loved the camaraderie between the dinosaurs and their trainers, as well as the possible fragility of that bond. The cast was excellent, the plot was sufficient, the action was unstoppable, and the effects were outrageous. I loved it and it will be mine once available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Please go see it and let me know what everyone else thinks. Did anyone else read the books? How did you think they compare to the movies? Did that affect your experience while watching “Jurassic World”? I’d love to hear from everyone.

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L: Review of “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V. E. Schwab

Recently finished A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab and I’m not sure what to say about it. I liked it while I read it, then I finished it, and completely forgot about it. It wasn’t one of those books that lingers in your mind for days after finishing it; as a matter of fact, I finished it a week ago and just plum forgot to write a review. I finished it, shrugged, picked up the next book, and moved right along with my life. It was interesting, unique, well-written, and altogether unremarkable.

A Darker Shade of Magic

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Schwab’s main character, Kell, is one of very few advanced magicians who possess the ability to travel back and forth between parallel Londons. Red London, Kell’s home, is a peaceful and prosperous land where magic is widely used and revered; Grey London is impoverished and almost entirely ignorant of the existence of magic; White London is ruled by whichever murderous rogues can take the throne from the previous murderous rogues; Black London was destroyed by magic and is no longer mentioned. Kell’s official position under the throne of Red London is to carry messages from the monarchs of one London to the others, but he secretly, and illegally, smuggles minor artifacts from each realm to interested, paying parties in others. One day, Kell’s smuggling gets him into trouble and threatens the safety and prosperity of Red London and its inhabitants. With the help of an enthusiastic thief, Lila Bard, Kell must attempt the impossible and try to cross all the realms in order to save them all.

I liked the idea of parallel versions of the same city and the ability to travel between them; I thought that was unique and I appreciated reading something original. However, I think a few issues were glossed over in order to get down to business that should have been explained a bit further. We’re not sure why there are four versions of the same city and how they came to be this way; we don’t know if it’s four parallel worlds and thus every city has other versions, or if London is the only one; we know that Kell is part of a long tradition of randomly-selected specialized magicians, and we get the impression that there is one other like him in White London, but we know of no others in any city in any of the four worlds. I understand that the focus of the story is on the Londons, but it seems that too little focus was placed on the rest of the world(s) which creates holes in my perception of this plot line. If there are only two of Kell’s kind, why are they both in London(s)? Wouldn’t it be prudent to spread them out so the other cities/countries can also have magic men? And if London is the only city with parallel realities, why isn’t anybody freaking out about this? I understand that these issues may make no difference in terms of what’s happening during the book, but when an alternate reality is created, questions will understandably arise, and a quick sentence or two to answer those questions is preferable to just ignoring something as obvious as the world outside of London.

I have a lot of questions about this book, but overall I liked it. The main characters were relatable, the villains were hatable, and the plot was unique and much appreciated. It’s apparently the first in a series, so I’m sure one day I’ll pick up the others. Read it if you want, but if you don’t, it’s no skin off my back. As always, let me know what you think. Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill, or does it matter that the surroundings be as developed as the main plot lines? I’m plowing through Jurassic Park now (and loving it) and I’ll work on The Grace of Kings until my holds become available. For now, let’s campaign to get Hannah to come back!


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L: Review of “Bitter Seeds” by Ian Tregillis

​Now THAT is a darn good novel! Thank goodness I didn’t give up on Tregillis after not loving The Mechanical, because then I would’ve missed out on his captivating novel, Bitter Seeds, the first in the Milkweed Trilogy. I find myself drawn to anything pertaining to World War II, Nazis, the Holocaust, etc. so I wasted no time after reading the blurb in reserving a copy from the library.

Bitter Seeds

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Tregillis’s main protagonist, Raybould Marsh, is a secret agent for the British Navy who uncovers evidence of Nazi experimentation that potentially created a handful of superhuman soldiers who, if perfected and multiplied, could render the German army unbeatable. In an effort to fight these supernatural beings, and thereby protect the Allied Nations from an overwhelming and horrific defeat, Marsh and his friends in Milkweed (the small group founded to try to understand and destruct the power of the superhumans) call upon their own unnatural means of defense, which demands a steep blood price.

Bitter Seeds is a fast-paced novel full of compelling characters, tense action, thought-provoking moral dilemmas, and a fair share of vivid descriptions. One cannot read a WWII novel without anticipating at least some disturbing detail, and Bitter Seeds by no means overdoes it, but it certainly imparts the severity of war and the potential for engineered soldiers to multiply the destruction exponentially. Still, the hypersensitive might take issue with a few parts, but I think letting that overrule the bigger message of this book would be a huge mistake. Unlike in The Mechanical, Tregillis provides plenty of compelling characters, both “good guys” and “bad,” and makes it easier for the reader to connect and feel effected by the chain of events. AND, the best part is that the ending doesn’t grid my gears! He summed everything up nicely, leaving just enough dangling threads that I feel resolved but will still certainly be reserving the next volume, The Coldest War, STAT.

My only gripe is that Tregillis seems to give a bit too much credit to his readers in terms of other cultures or time periods, and especially terminology. Just as The Mechanical was peppered with Dutch and French terms from a long ago monarchy, Bitter Seeds was drowning in terms like “Gotterelektrongruppe” and “Sicherheitshauptamt” without enough context clues for readers, or at least me, to always fully understand the intent of the sentence. I feel like I missed out on a few important moments of intended suspense because I was trying to decipher the German words or military jargon. This could very easily be my problem as a non-German-speaking, non-military-affiliated reader, but then again, I’m not sure that my station in life should factor into my ability to understand and enjoy this novel. What do you think?

Again, the somewhat infrequent and altogether momentary confusion was my only issue. Otherwise, I truly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to any and all readers!

I’m still working on The Grace of Kings and have recently started A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. As always, let me know what you all are thinking and stay tuned!

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