As many of you may know, I am no longer a New Yorker, so please check out my new blog A Library of My Own. If you are just reading Life and Times, you are missing out. Thanks!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

World War Z - Max Brooks

I found a copy of World War Z by Max Brooks at my local library. I've read some great reviews and decided to read it. Of course, while I was finishing up Paul of Dune, my husband grabbed it from my shelf and proceeded to devour it in a couple of days. He loved it. He's pretty picky too so I thought that was a great sign.

I loved it too. It was seriously hard to put down.

The book's author is a survivor of the zombie war which has been over for 10 years. He compiles interviews with various survivors who retell their part in the war. Some interviews are just a couple of pages while other are longer. And it's a global perspective so the author jumps all over the world. He interviews regular people, mothers, military personnel, doctors, etc. which give the tales such a realistic perspective. The book is segmented into time frames of the war, such as: Warnings, Blame, The Great Panic, etc. So the reader really sees how things escalated and how eventually people survived and won the war.

I've read a review or two where this type of writing is a turn-off because it doesn't follow the same people through the whole book. And how there isn't really a "plot" this way. But I loved it. I thought it was much more intense by showing different perspectives globally. And I think Max Brooks really researched all the military side. Very realistic.

My husband liked that he thanked George A. Romero at the end. And on an alternate cover, Simon Pegg gives it a thumbs up. But be warned: this isn't a funny book...even though zombies are the antagonists, they are portrayed realistically and scarily. And it makes you wonder, if some virus outbreak did occur...what would happen?

Here's an alternate cover:

And because I like the movie Shaun of the Dead (with Simon Pegg):
Also Reviewed By:

Urban Bachelorette

Oh...and it might be made into a movie!!!


I've been getting some great comments on this book!

For fun, calculate your survival odds by answering a few questions here (thanks Kim L!)
I personally have a 31% chance of survival. Not too good :(

And thanks to Dennis the Vizsla who mentioned another Max Brooks book I NEED to read, The Zombie Survival Guide:

Paul of Dune

A little while back, I won Paul of Dune from Medieval Bookworm. I was excited because I've been meaning to read the Dune series. You can check out my review to the first Dune book.

Paul of Dune was written by Frank Herbert's son Brian and another great writer, Kevin J. Anderson. It tells the story of the years between the first book, Dune, and the second book Dune Messiah.

I am always a little leery when someone other than the original author writes part of the series. But this was great! It not only fills in the gap between the stories but also gives some history and background from when Paul was younger and before the events in Dune takes place.

I will warn you though that unless you've read Dune...or at the very least seen the movie, you will probably not want to read Paul of Dune. But from everything that happens in the book, it really is a must read for the series.

I read for Carl's Sci-Fi Experience Challenge.

Also Reviewed By:
Age 30+: A Lifetime of Books

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Had to Share

So I was coming home from work last night, riding on the subway, when I noticed a guy sitting and reading a book. Now...this is not normally a weird thing. But the guy was around my age (mid-twenties to mid-thirties), pretty normal looking, and he was silently laughing to himself as he read. What book was he reading??

And it's the NINTH book in the series!! Do you think he's read all nine???

Bad Bloggers

I found an interesting idea over at Stuff As Dreams Are Made On. He came up with the idea of Bad Bloggers...a weekly listing of all the books added to your TBR pile and where you found them. I thought this was a fun idea and decided to join when my brother asked me "Where do you find all the books you read? It seems very random." Ha!

So here's just a few books I've recently found:

Live Nude Girl: My Life as An Object - Kathleen Rooney
From BookLust (doesn't she have the a gorgeous blog header?)

The Girl She Used to Be - David Cristofano
From Drey's Library

Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese
From The Book Lady's Blog

And from Goodreads friends:

Outcasts of Skagaray - Andrew Clarke
Roanoke: A Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue - Margaret Lawrence

And in the mail:

Leaper: The Misadventures of a Not-Necessarily-Super Hero - Geoffrey Wood
From Goodreads

The Queen's Conjurer: The Science and Magic of Dr. John Dee, Advisor to Queen Elizabeth I - Benjamin Woolley

Did you find any interesting books to read this week?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book Club Question

Just a quick question. I just started up a little book club with some friends and co-workers here in NYC. We decided to read a John Updike book but I've never read anything of his. Have you? Do you have a John Updike novel you'd recommend? Thanks!

Dune - Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert has to be one of my favorite Sci-Fi books of all time. I first read it back in high school and I decided to re-read this one for Carl's Sci-Fi Experience.

Dune was written in 1965 and won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for best novel. So yeah, it's good. Luckily I found the first three books in the series in my apartment's basement. AND I won a copy of the new sequel, Paul of Dune, from Medieval Bookworm which I am reading now.

Here's the synopsis:

In the future, the empire is a collection of planets and each planet is ruled by a House. Dune's story follows the House of Atreides: Duke Leto Atreides, the Duke's concubine Lady Jessica, and their fifteen year old son Paul. They live on a lush world and are well loved by their people. But the Emporer has decreed that they leave their home world and rule a desert planet called Arrakis. The previous rulers of Arrakis were the Harkonnens, the bitter enemy of the House Atreides.

So what's so special about this desert planet? It's the only place spice melange is found. Spice is highly addictive and valuable commodity. It gives greater awareness, extends life, and is required for space travel. Whoever controls the spice has great power.

But treachery abounds once the family settles on Arrakis. Betrayed by a traitor, Paul and his mother are captured and left to die on the desert planet. The desert's greatest enemy (after death by dehydration) is huge sand worms, also known as makers. Just walking on the sand causes vibrations which attract these worms which can swallow up an entire mining operation. Oh, and the Fremen will kill you as well. The Fremen are the rogue desert people.

Paul and Jessica fall into the hands of the Fremen and becomes known as Paul Maud'Dib, a warrior and leader in the Fremen society. But is Paul the prophesied Fremen messiah? Will he get revenge for his family? Will he lead the Fremen?

Oh, this is just a great book. It's got tons of politics, intrigue, deception, treachery, battles, warriors, love and hate. It's got it all.

The cover above is the one I have but here's some other fun covers.

This one's my favorite with the huge worm:
And I think this is the version I originally read:
And of course, they made a couple great movies based on the book. The first one, Dune, made in 1984 is just classic. Here's some photos:
Here's Paul with a Fremen girl. I love their suits which are made to recycle the body's moisture for drinking.
And of course, Sting is in it which is just too fun to watch:
And back in 2000 there was Dune the miniseries, which was actually really well done.
And while Google searching just now, I found this:
I love James McAvoy and Susan Sarandon and will have to watch this once I've read Children of Dune.

Also Reviewed By:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Egypt - Post One

So I'm finally getting around to posting some of our photos from our trip to Egypt. If you've been following this blog, you'll know that my husband and I went to Egypt for our belated honeymoon trip this past November. It was the perfect weather and time for Egypt. Mid seventies and not very many tourists. We had only booked the first four nights at the hotel in Sharm el Sheikh and the rest we played by ear. I'll be posting these pictures in increments. I hope you enjoy them :)

I came up with the idea to go to Egypt because while riding the subway one morning and reading the ads, I noticed that Delta just opened a direct flight from JFK to Cairo.

We took the overnight flight from JFK and this is us flying over Cairo. Yeah. It was huge. Think about this: NYC has 1,104 people per square kilometer while Cairo has 9,031 (via Wikipedia). Yeah. NYC really felt deserted after Cairo. And yes...that is a ton of smog:
But I'll come back to Cairo. We flew into the airport and then took an Egypt Air flight to Sharm el Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula. (Quick note: we found out once we went there that the Sinai Peninsula is considered part of Asia. And because of it's turbulent history, you don't need a visa to go to Sharm or other resorts, but if you travel on to other parts of Egypt you will need one.) I've lived in different areas of Nevada so I thought I knew what "desert" meant. I had no clue. This is the Sinai Peninsula from the air:
From the airport at Sharm we had to figure out how to get a taxi to the hotel. There really isn't much information. If you go, look out for the black and white cars...they are the taxis and you have to go searching for them. We got a hired car which cost a little more but we learned :) The driver was nice and swung us by a very cool green mosque that I had seen from the road.We stayed at the Hilton Waterfalls and our view was gorgeous. Here's the view from our room's balcony that night:
And the next morning we could see the pools and the Red Sea in the background. Beautiful.And here's views of the hotel grounds as we made our way down to the pools and the Red Sea.
Here's Robb (he said I can use his name instead of "my husband") testing out the Red Sea. It was so clear you could see the colorful fish swimming around:Here's the resort's beach:And this is me chilling with a good book:
I loved seeing the oddness of resort life which is definitely not anything like traditional Egyptian culture:I did get to go snorkeling for the first time. And this was a perfect place to do it. The reef dropped off sharp, I literally gasped which isn't a good thing when you are snorkeling :)
And here's us after snorkeling:
Hope you enjoyed this post. My next Egypt post will take us to the souks of Sharm el Sheikh and to the top of Mt. Sinai.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Superhero Fun

So I'm kind of a dork, but this is kind of fun. Make your own superhero at The Hero Factory.

**It's Friday and I'm ready to go home. :)

Mordant's Need - Stephen R. Donaldson

Stephen R. Donaldson wrote a two book series called Mordan't Need. The first book is called The Mirror of Her Dreams and the second is A Man Rides Through. I first read these two books years ago which I snagged off my dad's book shelf. Last year my brother found two hard back copies of the books and gave them to me. Since I am doing Carl's Sci-Fi Experience, I thought this would be the best time to re-read these two gems.

In The Mirror of Her Dreams, we meet Terisa Moragn, a New York City twenty-something girl. Her parents are rich so she lives in a fancy apartment in the heart of the city. The problem is she's lonely. We get the picture that she's unloved. Her parents were pretty mentally abusive...the type who's children should be seen, not heard (and usually not seen either). She has a dreary job and covers her apartment in mirrors just so she knows she exists. Sad, huh?

One night, as she's sitting in her apartment, making sure she still exists, when a man comes crashing through one of her mirrors. Half in and half outside of her world (via the mirror) he tells her he's been sent to bring her back to his kingdom called Mordant. They are in trouble and need a champion. Surprising even herself, she goes with him through the mirror.

I was going to write more but I think I'll leave it at that. There are battles and sieges, good guys and bad guys, princesses and champions, and all that fun stuff. And it's written very well. I loved seeing Terisa transform from a timid girl to a confident woman. And I just adore Geradon.

Re-reading these I did come across a few drawbacks. The books are LONG. Each one is about 600 pages. Yeah. But it goes quickly. And sometimes I think he could have cut out a lot of book to make just one book. Because if you read The Mirror of Her Dreams you sort of have to read A Man Rides Through to finish the story. But the good thing, is that you really end up getting to know all the characters and just immerse yourself in the story. It's escapism reading at it's best.

The two above covers are on the books that I've read. But here's other ones.

Flashy and modern:
And an older version (a little boring though):And a nice compilation of the two books in one:
Have you read these or any other Stephen R. Donaldson books? If so, what did you think?

Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer

I usually don't read much YA books, but I had read some good things about Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It. And it's a post-apocalyptic novel which goes well with my Dystopian Novel Challenge and Carl's Sci-Fi Experience. And it's a quick read. And I love the cover.

Miranda is a normal 16-year-old girl who lives in Pennsylvania. She loves swimming, ice skating, and worries if she'll have a date for the prom. But there happens to be an large asteroid on a collision course with the moon. No one is worried though. In fact, everyone has gathered outside that night in May to watch the event. But something goes wrong. The asteroid throws the moon off kilter. And soon the world discovers just how much the moon's gravity pull affects the earth: tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoe eruptions, and more.

Life As We Knew It is Miranda's journal which documents the days before the asteroid hit to months after the event. It's about her and her family's struggle for survival. About her struggle as she grows up in the face of all the disaster.

I loved how the book was written in Miranda's voice, journalistic style. It reminded me of The Diary of Anne Frank where huge catastrophic events occurred but sometimes a girl just thinks about her friends and boys. And it works.

The only thing I didn't like was the portrayal of Christians in the book. I'm a Christian and I know there are fanatics of every sect everywhere, but I hope Ms Pfeffer doesn't think that all Christians would act that way.

I do kind of wish there was a sequel. But Susan Beth Pfeffer wrote a companion novel, The Dead and the Gone, which shows the events unfolding through the eyes of New York City kid. It sound pretty good too.

Here's an alternative cover. It's good but I like the other one better:

And here's the cover for the second novel:Also Reviewed By:

Book Nut
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
Reading Adventures
Things Mean A Lot
Books on the Brain
The Book Smugglers
Presenting Lenore
Bookfoolery and Babble
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Book Escape
Reading Derby
Becky's Book Reviews
Bookshelves of Doom
Bart's Bookshelf
My Friend Amy
Library Queue

1001 Books Update - Cat's Cradle

I just finished reading Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Cat's Cradle, and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it. This is the first Vonnegut book I've read and I liked it enough to read another one. But I'm still feeling a bit "eh" about it.

This book counts towards my Dystopian Novel Challenge, Carl's Sci-Fi Experience, AND the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die Challenge. I like books that fulfill more than one challenge. Yay!

Ok. Here's the synopsis:

John, a journalist is doing some research for a book about what "regular" people were doing the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. So he writes to and interviews the children of Dr. Hoenikker, one of the big mastermind scientists behind the atomic bomb. Newt, the youngest was just six when the bomb was dropped, but he recalls his dad playing cat's cradle with some string that day.

Honestly, the first part of the novel was the best part. I was really enjoying the story, the writing, even the billion and one chapters because each chapter is only a page or two long. But then John tries to get in touch with the other two children, Angela and Frank. And he finds Frank has become a general with the country of the Republic of San Lorenzo. So he hops on a plane (which happens to also carry Angela and Newt) to find Frank. He also falls in love with a beautiful native of San Lorenzo. And that's when it starts to get weird and drag. He starts writing a bunch about Bokononism, the sort of religion of San Lorenzo. And it's weird. And maybe it's supposed to be funny and sarcastic but it was just kind of silly and weird. And I lost interest.

Oh! And before Dr. Hoenniker died, he had developed a product called Ice-Nine, a blue crystal which if touches water will harden/freeze all the water all over the world. Which of course, in this dystopian novel does happen.

So I think this all probably has a big deep meaning that I'm just not getting. I debated looking online for some discussion questions or something but then didn't.

So if you've read this, what did you think? Is there something I'm missing?

Now for interesting covers.

The cover with the cat's cradle:
This one's kind of a nice with a little montage of scenes:
And covers more about Ice-Nine:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood

I picked up my copy of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake at a library sale a while ago. I've heard some great things about this book and even a few fellow bloggers have recommended I read this. And I am so glad I did! This might be my favorite Margaret Atwood book so far. And, it also counts towards my Dystopian Novel Challenge AND Carl's Sci-Fi Challenge. Yay!

In the future, human life has pretty much become extinct due to a widespread plague. But our narrator is still alive. He's dubbed himself with the name "Snowman". While we follow Snowman through his trials of survival, he reminisces about his past life before the plague hit. His name used to be Jimmy. He lived during a time when "real" food, not Soy products or genetically altered food, was an anomaly. Gene splicing and experimenting was rampant. He recalls new animal concoctions, such as a pigoon (pig and baboon). Compounds have sprung up which shelter the wealthy, scientists, and elite. The rest of the world is a dangerous, "pleeband" area. As a young boy, Jimmy befriends a beyond smart boy, who's nickname is Crake. Crake's a genius. Crake is scary genius. And who is Oryx? Oryx is the nickname for the beautiful girl Jimmy falls for. As Snowman slowly tells his story, the pieces of what happened to his world fall into place.

Ok. I hope that's not too confusing. All I can say is this is one great novel. And it's so vivid too. I could totally picture Snowman wandering around in his sheet, trying to avoid the wild pigoons and other animals. If you haven't read this one yet, I definitely recommend it.

Now, for the fun alternative covers. This one makes more sense once you've read the book:
And the pig on this one still has me laughing. Look at it's face!
And this one is so boring. I would never have thought to pick this one up.
Also Reviewed By:
Shelf Love
The Boston Bibliophile
Book Bath