Monthly Archives: August 2013

KayKay #CRB5 Review #45 My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

WhiteTrash

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

I am not a big fan of procedural TV shows.  The repetitiveness of it all bores me.  Even some of my favorite ‘procedural’ books (Mercedes Thompson, Iron Druid, Sookie) have either become a bit boring, or have introduced so many new characters that I can’t keep up.  The White Trash Zombie series is another procedural type book, was it a great new series?  Here is what I thought….

World Building

In this world, Zombies can pass as humans as long as they eat brains. If they go two days with no brains they start to smell like a dead body, and they start to decompose.  When they eat brains, they have super strength and quick healing.  In this world, zombies are still hidden.

World Building Score: 3/5

Plot

Angel, a ‘white trash’ girl (obvious from the title) wakes up from an accident and finds out she is a zombie.  Her mysterious benefactor (i.e. biter) has set her up with a job at the morgue- with access to brains.  However, she also sees a string of murders and eventually realizes somebody is killing zombies.  Not to spoil the plot (although I have given plenty of spoiler alerts at the beginning) but she solves the mystery, survives and falls in love.

Plot Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships

Angel- I was really proud of her growth in the book, unfortunately it took becoming a zombie to get off drugs, get rid of her dead beat boyfriend and start to even clean up her home.  Man, if she gets it all together and is no longer ‘white trash’, where will the series go?

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

I guess if this one had a life lesson- it would be to become a zombie if you are a junkie.  Just kidding, it would probably be that you can always improve your situation.

Life Lessons Score:  1/5

Style

I didn’t have any issues with the writing.  Its a light read.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

– I’m not going to read anymore in the series.  There are too many Great Books out there for me to keep reading Average Books.

Total Score and Recommendation

13/25- There are plenty of people who would enjoy reading this.

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KayKay #CRB5 Review #44 Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

cory-doctorow-little-brother

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

“My name is KayKay and you’re an idiot if you trust me.  I’m thirty eight and it’s too late for me.  I’m lost.  I’m stuck in the old way of thinking.  I still take my freedom for granted and let other people take it away from me.”  I have learned from my past experience and am no longer able to change my perception based on new experiences.  Did I bypass my age and enjoy this book?  Here is what I thought….

Plot

After a terrorist attack blows up the bay bridge, a group of high schoolers (among others) are taken to a hidden prison to be interrogated.  Marcus, the main character, is difficult during questioning and after released starts a movement (Little Brother) against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

There were a couple of oddities in the plot of the book, that I just had to ‘go with’ to really get to the point of the book.  For example, after being held in the secret prison and getting out, the 3 friends get some food at an Italian café, instead of immediately going home and relieving their parents.  In addition, they don’t tell anyone about their experience, even though one of the friends is left behind (he was injured and they didn’t let him go).  Once I stopped thinking about those little things, the bigger picture could shine.

The most ironic thing about the story is that in all the governments crack down, they didn’t find 1 terrorist.  But they terrorized a lot of innocent people.  Not only that, but not one measure they put in place would stop a future attempt!  Sound familiar?

Plot Score: 5/5

World Building

I kept thinking this book was set in the Future, but it was really set NOW.  There’s no advanced technology that we don’t have today- and the events are more realistic then I’d like to think.

I did like the portrayal of San Francisco, I now have it on my list of potential places to move to in the future.

Location Score: 4/5

Characters and Relationships

Marcus Yallow (aka M1k3y)- a high school senior in San Francisco, a technology whiz, and either a terrorist or hero depending on your viewpoint.  The best part of this character is that he is at times a teenage rebel and at other times a scared kid.  He was like a real person, scared into compromise, tentative to be brave, concerned about putting others in danger, risking himself and others to accomplish his goals.

Characters Score: 4/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

This book is a statement on the importance of human rights and privacy and not letting fear scare us into letting our rights go.  That the government only offers us an illusion of security.  That we need to understand the technology around us.  That we need to be concerned about the rights of others, and not wait for ours to be taken away before we take action.  That standing up for our freedom is scary, but necessary, and there are consequences to doing the right thing.  That sometimes the right thing isn’t clear, and won’t be viewed as the ‘right’ thing by others.  That brown skinned people have a harder time.  (“White people get caught with cocaine and do a little rehab time.  Brown people get caught with crack and go to prison for twenty years.”)

Bigger Meaning Score:  5/5

Style

Defining Quote: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

I don’t like it when writers are so esoteric in their writing, I don’t know what point they are trying to make (Toni Morrison- I’m thinking of you).  I do like when they have a point, and the examine it from many different angles and really justify it (that’s why I love Atlas Shrugged).  This book reminded me of that.

This book was chock full of cool information (some of which I didn’t fully understand):

1- Alan Turing

2- Bayesian Stats

3- Private keys and the web of trust

4- The paradox of the false positive

5- The Berkeley freedom riders

6- The Scoville assessment method for peppers

7- Crypto

8- Tunneling

9- City Planning (this information I found eye opening and accurate)

and so much more that I can’t even list.  Either Cory is genius, or a TON of effort went into the writing of this book.

Style Score: 4/5

Final Thoughts?

-For me, this is an Important Book.  The plot is enjoyable, but above that, the message is so meaningful to the times we live in now.

-“They [the authors of the Bill of Rights] didn’t want to face the risk that some jerk would decide that the things that he found unpleasant were illegal” (unfortunately we still have some of that)

-“The whole point of America is that we’re the country where dissent is welcome.  We’re a country of dissidents and fighters and university dropouts and free speech people.”

-“Any time I was feeling low, I’d naturally start to remember other times I felt that way, a hit parade of humiliations coming one after another to my mind.”  (I TOTALLY do this)

Total Score and Recommendation

22/25- Perfect book club book, it’s full of things to talk about.  In fact, I think this should be standard reading in our schools.

One last quote (from an afterward): “Trading privacy for security is stupid enough; not getting any actual security in the bargain is even more stupid.”

KayKay #CRB5 Review #43 Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

gameboard

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

After blowing through 41 books in the first half of the year, it has taken me a few weeks to get through my last two books.  Tarnished and Torn was just bad.   And just in case you don’t do the jump to read the review of this book, I will say Gameboard of the Gods was fantastic (please please please god of books make the sequel just as good!).  I have been super busy preparing to downsize, sell my house and move, and still found time to pick up this book.  Here is what I thought….

World Building

I’m changing the order of the review a little bit so that everything flows properly.  In this future world, there was a virus, called Cain, that “tended to attack those of homogeneous backgrounds”.  In response to The Decline, racial mixture is encouraged.  In addition it is determined that “Belief in fictitious entities is a threat to the fabric of society and must be assessed and regulated for the well-being of all citizens”.

In this world there are servitors who go out and check out small religious groups and if they don’t strictly operate within the law, they are shut down.  I enjoyed the updated technology (the implants, ‘ego’- which is a type of phone, etc.)

Gemma- “Gemma mundi.  The jewel of the world.  The motto that had eventually given name to its citizens, the Gemmans.”

RUNA- “Republic of United North America”

Provincial- all things non-Gemman

Plebeian – mixed heritage (normally with tanned skin and dark hair and eyes)

Patrician (castal)- narrower breeding pool.

Location Score: 5/5

Plot

Justin, a servitor, ends up having an unexplainable experience (and officially reporting it) is banned to Panama (a ‘province’ without the comforts of the modern world).  Mae, a praetorian (a solider with an implant) is assigned as his security detail when he is requested to return to look into mysterious murders.

Basically, the gods are not happy about being banished and start to gather followers, because they draw strength from their followers (same concept as American Gods).  Mae has a dark goddess trying to control her, and Justin has a god who wants to claim him (and has ‘gifted’ him with two ravens in his mind).  Mae breaks her link, but Justin seems to (much to his chagrin) get in deeper.

Plot Score: 4/5

Characters and Relationships

Justin is a play boy with a heart of gold

Mae is a hardened solider with a heart of gold

Tessa is an immigrant with a heart of gold (see the pattern?)

Characters Score: 4/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

I thought there was a lot of thought provoking ideas in this book (most of which appealed to me as a bi-racial atheist!).  I will say I wasn’t sure where the book was going, and was really hoping it was going to end with some statement that the Christian God exists.

-Racial diversity – cultures that were racially diverse were able to weather the Decline

-danger of religion- and even though religion is limited, people found ways to find gods (the government, etc.)

Bigger Meaning Score:  3/5

Style

Defining Quote: “We’re pieces on a gameboard…and some of us are more powerful than others.  You. Me. Her. We’re the ones the gods want.  We’re the ones they’re fighting over”

Even though it took me a while to read it, every time I picked it up, I enjoyed it.  There were beautiful nuances to the characters that caused you to read every word.  You couldn’t skip much and still catch all the things going on.

Style Score: 4/5

Final Thoughts?

-Is this YA or not?  I can’t tell…and it’s so good it doesn’t matter

– I love a good re-use of mythology and I loved the ending when you realize The Morrigan and Odin were involved (some more astute readers probably knew as soon as the ravens are mentioned)

-This would be a great book club book

Total Score and Recommendation

20/25 – I am eagerly anticipating the next book…

KayKay #CRB5 Review #42 Tarnished and Torn by Juliet Blackwell

tarnishedtorn

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written a review.  Let’s see how this goes.  When it comes to TV, I normally do not like procedurals-  there’s a mystery, they solve it, it’s the least likely person. Each episode just like the last.  There is also a style of books that I consider procedurals, books with the same characters, solving mysteries (and it’s always the least likely person).  There are a few on my list that I like (The Iron Druid series, for example).  This is the (I believe) the fifth in this series, was it good…or did it get old? Here is what I thought….

Plot

I don’t clearly remember this plot line, for two reasons, 1- I finished this book a couple of weeks ago (and have read another book since then) and 2- there was nothing unique about the plot line.  I guess you can look up the summary on Amazon…

Plot Score: 1/5

World Building

These novels take place in San Francisco, and the location is a big part of the book.  In this series, witchcraft is real.

Location Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships

Lily Ivory- the main character who has some natural and learned witchcraft ability.

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

None

Bigger Meaning Score:  0/5

Style

Defining Quote: “When it comes right down to it, we each walk the path of this life alone, and make our decisions based on our own distinct beliefs, desires…and fears.”

So one of my biggest pet peeves is when there is a lack of communication between the characters, which is the main cause for the conflict.  In this book I wouldn’t say the lack of communication was the main cause of the conflict, but it was annoying.

Style Score: 1/5

Final Thoughts?

-Definitely in the procedural zone.

Total Score and Recommendation

8/25 – I won’t be reading anymore.