Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls

by David Sedaris
Audio EditionRead June 15, 2015

Original Release Date:  April 23, 2013

Length: 289 pages

Official Description:

A guy walks into a bar car and…

From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.

Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.

My Take:

My only experience with David Sedaris involves NPR and my husband talking a lot about him being on NPR. I have been wanting to read this book, but I always enjoyed listening to him on the radio. He is a fantastic story-teller, but I would prefer him to read me his essays. Which is why I loved the audio book so much. I could put it on in the kitchen, while making dinner, when my child wasn’t around, and we could both enjoy a story. I have never read another Sedaris book, people say this isn’t his best work, but I have nothing to compare it to, except radio clips. Sedaris’ stories are both funny, in a dry and often dark way, and at times can elicit other emotions. I can’t relate to everything that he says but I enjoyed almost all of it. The essays are read in clips, some with musical interludes, some are live readings, some are studio readings. Most are studio readings or they sound like studio readings. This book actually made me want to go to his ‘performance’ when he comes to Texas, but alas, the tickets cost a lot here, and I have braces and fractures to pay for (pesky children). This is definitely worth picking up, I highly recommend the audio version as well.

My Favorite Quote:

“States vote to take away my marriage rights, and even though I don’t want to get married, it tends to hurt my feelings. I guess what bugs me is that it was put to a vote in the first place. If you don’t want to marry a homosexual, then don’t. But what gives you the right to weigh in on your neighbor’s options? It’s like voting whether or not redheads should be allowed to celebrate Christmas.”

Up Next:

I Am Legend and Other Stories

by Richard Matheson, Robertson Dean (Narrator)
Audio EditionRead June 9, 2015

Original Release Date:  1954

Length: 176 pages

Official Description:

Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.

I Am Legend was a major influence in horror and brought a whole new thematic concept to apocalyptic literature. Several humanistic and emotional themes in this book blend the horror genre with traditional fiction: we see Neville as an emotional person, and observe as he suffers bouts of depression, dips into alcoholism and picks up his strength again to fight the vampiric bacteria that has infected (and killed off) most of humankind. Neville soon meets a woman, Ruth, (after three years alone), who seems to be uninfected and a lone survivor. The two become close and he learns from Ruth that the infected have learned to fight the disease and can spend short amounts of time in the daylight, slowly rebuilding strength and society as it was.

The novel was adapted to film in 1964 as The Last Man on Earth, as Omega Man in 1971 and finally as I am Legend in 2007, starring Will Smith.

I am legend —
Buried talents —
The near departed —
Prey —
Witch war —
Dance of the dead —
Dress of white silk —
Mad house —
The funeral —
From shadowed places —
Person to person.

My Take:

I have owned this book since 2011 on my Kindle. I completely forgot that I purchased it. I have been wanting to read it since I first heard of it. Honestly, that was when the Will Smith movie came out in 2007. I did like the movie, I liked the isolation of Robert Neville and how Smith portrayed him. The book is so much different from the movie. The ideas are there, the character names but the themes were changed. The bad guys were changed.

In the book Neville is the last known survivor of the human race. He watched his family die, his friends die, he is alone, no dog, no living creature. He has learned to survive, he is trying to find a cure, kind of. Mostly he lives alone, fighting depression, fighting memories, existing. Every night the vampires try to break into his house, his former friend and neighbor stays outside screaming “Come out Neville.” He is often tempted to just end it, then one day he has some hope left, a dog, torn, battered, but alive wanders into his path. They never become close like in the film, but it give Neville some purpose. Purpose that is not destined to last. During the day Neville forges for food, and kills the vampires who are in a coma like state. He tries to learn about them, tries to understand. We learn there are two types of creatures, living and dead.

The major theme I get by the end of the story, is you never know who the bad guy is. Sometimes, the bad guy thinks he is the good guy. Matheson does a great job with this novel. I can see why he was revered and wrote quite a few Twilight Zone episodes. I was surprised to see that he wrote What Dreams May Come which was adapted to film and starred the late Robin Williams. He is a fantastic story-teller, the stories don’t always have a predictable ending, like this one, there are twists.

I have noticed that not all copies of I Am Legend have the shorts in them, but this copy, a copy published by Orb Books in 1997 has the selected shorts seen above. My favorites were Prey, which was actually really captivating and terrifying, and The Near Departed, which you could see the ending coming and was kind of morbidly amusing, to me at least.  As a classic this one is definitely worth being picked up.

My Favorite Quote:

“… And suddenly he thought, I’m the abnormal one now. Normalcy was a
majority concept, the standard of many and not the standard of just
one man.”

Up Next:

Drink Deep

by Chloe Neil
Kindle EditionRead  June 3, 2015

Original Release Date: November 1, 2011

Length: 352 pages

Official Description: (This is book #5 of the Chicagoland Vampires series)

Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and Merit the vampire can’t tell if this is the darkness before the dawn, or the calm before the storm. With the city itself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times have never been more precarious for the vampires. If only they could lay low for a bit…

Then magic rears its ugly head when Lake Michigan turns black. The mayor insists it’s nothing to worry about, but Merit knows a panic is coming. She’ll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who’s behind this, and stop them before it’s too late for both the vampires and humans..

My Take:

It has been TWO years since I read the last book, which made me really confused for a bit, because I blocked out the death of Ethan. I did mention in the last review (See links below) that I was hoping this book would go in a new direction. It does, kind of, it pits Merit against the world. Cadogan house is being investigated, Ethan is gone, Mallory is doing her witch trial stuff and is unavailable, and Chicago is in chaos. Of course the human population blames the vamps for the chaos that is happening, a lot of creepy ‘natural’ occurrences, the lake turning black, and other events that I won’t spoil for you. Merit is comforted by Jonah, who honestly I only vaguely remember. Then we have brief appearances of the ex who is apparently a bit of the spiteful ex. Overall, I liked this version of Merit, she is lost, mourning, and she still has to move on, she is still expected to save the day. She has been having dreams of Ethan, her best friend isn’t around so she is having a hard time dealing. Unfortunately, like the last book, the ending is a bit rushed. We have all this build up, some parts unneccessary to the story, and the good part, the part we’ve all been hoping for. AND….we just rush through the end…it’s like a blink and you missed it kind of ending. Honestly, I thought Merit and Ethan were meant to be together, but they were never That close. They always seemed to miss their chance. Oh, well, it is all still entertaining.

Quote:

“I’m working from the assumption it’s going to go horribly wrong. If we get out of here with limbs intact and no aspen slivers in uncomfortable places, we’re calling it a win.”

Previous Books in this Series:

Up Next:

Partials

by Dan Wells,  Julia Whelan (Narrator)
Audio EditionRead June 2, 2015

Original Release Date:  February 28, 2012

Length: 468 pages

Official Description: (This is book #1 of the Partial Sequence series)

For fans of The Hunger Games, Battlestar Galactica, and Blade Runnercomes the first book in the Partials Sequence, a fast-paced, action-packed, and riveting sci-fi teen series, by acclaimed author Dan Wells.

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Playing on our curiosity of and fascination with the complete collapse of civilization, Partials is, at its heart, a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike—and of the way in which the concept of what is right and wrong in this world is greatly dependent on one’s own point of view.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

My Take:

I love dystopian novels, I don’t know what it is about them, but they just call to me. It doesn’t seem to matter what they are about I love them. Most of the novels I love revolve around two factors 1) War 2) Zombies. This novel is kind of a result of war, but more of the result of human ingenuity. They created a ‘perfect’ clone, one that would be most beneficial in combat, so that humans would not have to perish. These ‘partials’ would fight for whichever government and in theory,  this is a great idea.Not only does a virus sweep through the world, but the partials fought against their makers essentially wiping out humanity. Now the youngest person on earth is 14. No baby can survive and it is up to the new generation to find a cure for the virus that the partials unleashed. There we have our heroine, who may not have new ideas, but she is willing to risk everything to save humanity.

I really enjoyed the story, I can’t even remember the last time I read an adult dystopian novel, but this was a pretty rockin’ young adult. Why? What makes it different? I like the science behind it, I like that there is no supernatural reason for the end of the world. It is basically humanities fault, they decided to play God and it bit them in the butt. I like the heroine, she is  great character, naive, flawed, fearless, and determined. I like the interaction between the humans and the partials, I like that there are so many grey areas, nothing is ‘good vs evil’ anyone could go either way. I liked the adventures, the ideas. One thing this book brought up was the nuclear reactors across the countries, what would happen if people weren’t around to maintain them? I never would have thought about this. It seems such a simple concept, but if one nuclear reactor blew, a large chunk of land would be irradiated and uninhabitable. This author did a fantastic job. If there were an apocalyptic event, I could see it going down like this book, humanity just screwed themselves over, too greedy, too willing to play with genes, cloning, to mess with the natural order.

The writing is fun and engaging, the plot has some pretty typical YA twists and turns, but everything overall is wonderful.

My Favorite Quotes:

“Happiness is the most natural thing in the world when you have it, and the slowest, strangest, most impossible thing when you don’t. It’s like learning a foreign language: You can think about the words all you want, but you’ll never be able to speak it until you suck up your courage and say them out loud.”

“I am stronger than my trials.”

Up Next:

First Drop of Crimson

by Jeaniene Frost, Tavia Gilbert (Narrator)
Audio Edition – Read May 23, 2015

Original Release Date: February 9, 2010

Length: 388 pages

Official Description: This is book #1 of the Night Huntress World series

he night is not safe for mortals.

Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows – her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield – and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s dark past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness – and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who craves a taste of her.

He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human – even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the demon nightmare together…

Because once the first drop of crimson falls, they will both be lost.

My Take:

This is the first book in the Night Huntress spin-off series. You should not start with this book as the first Frost book you read though. Otherwise, you will be utterly confused. This book falls after book 4 in the original series, and it should be read before reading book 5. There are several events here that are mentioned in the Cat and Bones world. This is Shade and Denise’s story. I knew how it would end, unfortunately, because I did read book 5, however it was pretty is obvious just by reading the story and the description.

We know Spade as Bone’s best friend from pre-vamp days. We know Denise as Cat’s best friend, though she never really stuck out to me, so it was hard to remember her in the previous stories. A lot of the characters pop in, because, well they are in the same world after all. We see Ian, Cat, Bones, Mencheres and a few other characters, as well as new ones. We also throw in shape shifting demons and a family ‘curse’ of Denise’s. If you can get over the very rapid falling in love bit, then this is pretty much as good as the Cat and Bones story. Except it’s super rushed. Where C&B fell in love over years, Spade and Denise have weeks to get to know one another. Plus, the have their past loves to get over. I really did enjoy the story, I loved Tavia Gilbert’s reading, she is a fantastic narrator. Yeah it’s a bit kitchy and formulaic, but I still enjoyed it.

Ok, so I have to admit, my favorite character isn’t Cat or Bones, though I love them as a couple, but I love Vlad. I can’t wait to read his books, his character is just so…I don’t know rich I suppose, and we don’t even get much of him. There were some great tear tugging moments between Cat and Don, so great, so human, which Cat has started to stray away from even more lately.  I love the scene with the Queen of New Orleans, I thought the after effects were really weird though. I mean, it was a bit ridiculous actually. Random characters from previous books pop up, you know the ones you completely forgot about and weren’t all that important.

The book was back to being formulaic, you know how this book is going to go, because it’s just like all the books. However, it was enjoyable. This was not my favorite book in the series, but then again I should have read the spin-off series first. Maybe that would have changed my opinion.

Quote:

“Denise clung to the feel of his hands as she pushed at her panic. It’s okay. You’re safe…and this has got to be the ugliest couch ever.”

Other Books by Jeanine Frost:

Up Next: