BOOK: Half Share (2007)

Half Share Year: 2007 Author: Nathan Lowell Length: 252 pages Well . . . that escalated quickly. In the previous book of the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series, I found the plot to be engaging and well-paced, despite the naïveté of the main protagonist. Ishmael Wong seemed to be a bit lacking in his romantic knowledge, sometimes oblivious of obvious euphemisms. For a kid of only 18 who really only spent time with his mother, I can understand how he might not know these things. It was the one thing I found a little unbelievable in Quarter Share, but boy did Half Share make up for it. Some of the plot felt a little formulaic and procedural by this point in the saga, which was good in the sense that it continued the realism and engagement of its predecessor. However, this also meant that there wasn’t as much progression of the sub-plots and minor characters like there was in Quarter Share. This book...
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BOOK: Lightning Rider (2013)

Lightning Rider Year: 2013 Author: Jen Greyson Length: 314 pages I’m not really sure how this book got into my Kindle collection. I think it might have been from a time that I saw someone on Facebook post about a free e-book and I just downloaded it because the title seemed interesting. Now that I’m getting around to reading these books, I’m finding them to be a little outside the norm for what I like to read. That’s not to say I’m against reading anything in the “New Adult” or “Urban Fantasy” genres, it’s just that I wouldn’t choose them first if I had a selection in front of me. Of course, I can see that the popularity of strong and independent female heroines in the YA and NA genres have definitely spawned a number of authors who want to capitalize on this trend, and this book is no different. That being said, most of my qualms with this book lie with the characters....
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BOOK: Live Right and Find Happiness (2015)

Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster) Year: 2015 Author: Dave Barry Length: 240 pages I grew up on the humor writings of Dave Barry. Each week I'd take his humor column to school and read it to my friends during my lunch break, laughing at his comedic style and funny topics. Consequently, I found myself enthralled by his books, each one leaving me in stitches due to his observational humor of the weird world around us (or at least around Miami, Florida). I was saddened when he decided to retire from writing these weekly humor columns. As such, each time he releases a new book full of his writings (mainly essays now), I usually pick it up out of habit. While I can usually blow through one of Dave Barry's books in a couple hours, I'm finding that I'm not nearly as amused as I used to be. It could be that I've grown up a bit and no longer find...
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BOOK: Ulysses (1922)

Ulysses Year: 1922 Author: James Joyce Length: 1,797 minutes / 29.95 hours OK, I’ll be the first to admit that perhaps the audiobook version of this story isn’t the best way to digest it. While I did appreciate the Irish accent of the man who read this book, there really wasn’t much of a chance to re-read sections that were quite confusing. As a result, I have no idea what this book is about or what it was supposed to convey. I had a loose understanding that it was based on Homer’s The Odyssey, which helped make a few connections here and there, but I honestly can’t say that this parallel between the plots of the two stories is obvious at all. Perhaps the weakness I perceive in this story is due to its status as one of the great pieces of modernist literature. If that’s the case, then I’ll admit that I don’t understand modernist literature at all. None of it made any sense...
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BOOK: Quarter Share (2007)

Quarter Share Year: 2007 Author: Nathan Lowell Length: 250 pages In a genre that often relies too much on inventing new and spectacular foreign worlds, Nathan Lowell’s Quarter Share certainly has a down-to-earth feel. There were a number of times reading this book where I had to remind myself they were sailing through deep space, and not across the Pacific Ocean. That being said, Quarter Share is an incredibly immersive look into the life of a lowly sailor who has the gumption to make something of himself. The realism of the setting and situations certainly makes this science fiction story quite believable. I do have to laud this book with the ability to be as close to wholesome as one can be without the entire plot being labeled “childish”. Unfortunately, this also ends up being one of my main qualms with it. Most of the characters don’t really have any flaws and the conflicts and situations that would arise from being together for long periods of...
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BOOK: The Martian (2014)

The Martian Year: 2014 Author: Andy Weir Length: 387 pages What a world we live in! It's exciting to see a self-published book receive such attention, eventually becoming a New York Times bestseller! Truly, if a writer is talented enough with a good enough story, they can make it in this over-saturated market. And while some of my love for this book comes from my hopes of eventually being "discovered" as a self-published author, most of it comes from my love of scientific realism in fiction. Truly, this is more of a challenge than world-building in a fantasy genre, because in order for it to be believable, it must obey the laws of physics. But let's get down to brass tacks here. There is no doubt that Andy Weir did his homework on this book. In fact, some sections almost read like the output section of a very complicated spreadsheet (which I certainly appreciate, on a personal level). Even with the technical detail to keep...
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BOOK: Echo of the Boom (2014)

Echo of the Boom Year: 2014 Author: Maxwell Neely-Cohen Length: 478 pages ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY*** From the title of this book, I would have expected it to be about the aftermath of an apocalypse-inducing event. If anything Echo of the Boom is a misnomer and the book should be titled Prelude of the Boom. The cover also doesn’t give much into what it’s about, other than the four different points of view which are followed throughout the narrative. While I did eventually like the book, it took too long to get there (some of the occasional typos didn’t help me get into it either). With the characters’ motivations unclear from the start, it becomes obvious about 150 pages in that nothing is really going to happen in this book. Instead of having any driving force propelling the characters forward, it’s more accurate to describe this book as a nearly 500 page rap battle. Each character has their own track, living their...
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BOOK: Practical Applications for Multiverse Theory (2016)

Practical Applications for Multiverse Theory Year: 2016 Authors: Nick Scott and Noa Gavin Length: 240 pages ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY*** As someone who enjoys learning about the many interesting unknowns in our universe, the mere title of Practical Applications for Multiverse Theory  (2016) caught my attention from the get-go. The ideas of parallel universes coexisting in an invisible space next to our own is something I eventually want to cover in my own writing (tentatively titled The Slumberealm Saga). And while this book somewhat delivered on the premise of its title, it unfortunately did so through an incredible plethora of clichés. Due to the authors’ background in improv comedy, it’s clear that they merely wrote this book to capitalize on the style’s random nature. I’m not sure who the target audience for this book might be, since the main characters are high school students who use an awful lot of foul language. I would think it’s aimed at being a Young Adult (YA) comedy,...
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BOOK: Fake Science 101 (2012)

Fake Science 101: A Less-Than-Factual Guide to Our Amazing World Year: 2012 Author: Phil Edwards Length: 272 pages One of the challenges of creating content on the internet is that it is usually quickly and readily consumed and forgotten by the web-browsing public. Monetizing this content is even more difficult because of the aforementioned reasons. That being said, there are many ways the creators of internet content can make some money off of their product. Sometimes this takes the form of T-shirts or other, physical items, but oftentimes the choice of internet creators is a book. For Fake Science, which uses Tumblr for its regular posts, publishing a fake science textbook seemed like a good choice. Unfortunately, since a lot of internet content is quickly consumed, an almost 300 page book seems a little tedious to read once the initial novelty of the idea wears off. There are certainly a lot of amusing bits in this book, but they tend to be lost in the noise of...
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BOOK: Go Set a Watchman (2015)

Go Set a Watchman Year: 2015 Author: Harper Lee Length: 399 minutes / 6.65 hours Part of the problem of releasing a sequel to a beloved book 55 years later is a lot of other books have been written in between them. Consequently, there have been successful books written with some of the exact same plot and motifs, thus making the sequel feel like a rip-off instead of the other way around. In the case of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, I found myself drawing plenty of comparisons to Kathryn Stockett’s The Help (2009). While I felt the timeframe of Go Set a Watchman to be somewhat ambiguous, most of the similarities between it and The Help were in their heroines. Both were southern-born-and-raised women who smoked, were outsiders, and weren’t going to stand for racism. And while the main character of The Help did something about it, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch merely fell apart at the realization that everyone around her, including her...
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