Books

Book 565: Superhero Ethics – Travis Smith

With my vested interest in the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) (aka I see all of the films as they’re released) and my passing interest in the DC universe now Wonder Woman has made her powerful interest, of course I had to say yes when the publicist reached out about this book.*

After saying yes and reading this, I’m not sure I should have. There were some major flaws in this book mostly having to do with gender and misogyny. I don’t want to harp on about this, but that’s probably what this post is going to end up being. Smith chose 10 comic book heroes (first appearances): The Hulk (1962), Wolverine (1974), Green Lantern (1940), Iron Man (1963), Batman (1939), Spider-Man (1962), Captain America (1941), Mr. Fantastic (1961), Thor (1962), and Superman (1938), and pitted them against each other in an “epic” ethics battle. What’s the obvious thing about these ten heroes? They’re all men. [Want to skip this tirade? Skip 6 paragraphs down.

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ARC, Books

Book 432: The Stranger – Harlan Coben

Coben, Harlan - The StrangerWHOA. Like really WHOA. It’s books like this that make me think I should give up my list of all the books I want to read and juts read thrillers and mainstream fiction! Who needs literary fiction or classics right? The ONLY downside is authors, like Coben, are SOOOOOO prolific. Even if I wanted to read all of his works, I would feel bad not reading other books. In this book alone he already has 26 other books listed. That’s one more than I’ve already read this year! Too much.

When someone from Dutton* reached out to me about Fool Me Once (Coben’s most recent book released this week) and this novel, I was a bit hesitant at first. I don’t usually read a lot of thrillers unless they come highly recommended by friends and even then they usually languish on my shelf for a long time. The good news is I found out out-of-order that my friends Hayley and Kennedy LOVE Coben! So I bumped these up my list and thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into his world.

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Books

Book 429: The Arm of the Starfish (O’Keefe Family #1) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - The Arm of the Star Fish (O'Keefe Family #1)I decided to go down the full L’Engle Murray/O’Keefe rabbit hole. It may take a while to finish with other books burning holes in my kindle/on my shelf, but I will finish them!

I wasn’t as sold on this book as quickly as I was with A Wrinkle in Time, but it grew on me. The final quarter of the book was really strong! (And she didn’t rush the ending, or perhaps she did and I’m just used to it now.)

It’s a bit confusing, but I think I have it sorted out as The Arm of the Starfish is the second book written in the Kairos super-series, the first book of the second generation O’Keefe Family series, and the fourth book chronologically in plot line. Looking at the publication dates, it looks like L’Engle bounced back and forth between the two series (and another one) while she was writing in the ’60s and ’70s.

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Books

Book 413: The Emperor’s Soul – Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson, Brandon - The Emperor's SoulDAMN you Mormons and your great Science Fiction/Fantasy! That’s about 25% fact and 75% unadulterated conjecture. Before I go into that (you can skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not interested), funny story: I kept thinking of this as some weird hybrid of the story as it happened and The Emperor’s New Clothes. My mind is weird.

Now, Mormons. Seriously though, why does it seem like there are so many Mormon’s who tell great stories in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres: Jeff Wheeler, Orson Scott Card, Stephenie Meyer (cough*story teller, still not a great writer*cough) and now Brandon Sanderson. I’m not the first to ponder this (Boston Globe link)and I know I won’t be the last. I know for me it raises a big dilemma of ethics/politics when I chose to read an author who actively believes/participates in a religion which negates/actively works against something I identify with. Do I purchase their novels and have my, what ultimately ends up being fractions of pennies, support their religion through tithing, or do I boycott the author because of their churches stance?

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Culture Corner, Reading Events

An Evening with Rebecca Skloot

So this sounds a lot fancier than it was. I’d love to say I sat down one-on-one and picked her brain about what is arguably one of the mos successful book responses I’ve ever written for this blog. And we’re obviously besties, I mean Ms. Skloot favorited my “On the Blog” tweet this past year,

2015 09-29 Radcliffe College DNA Seriesbut alas I didn’t get to sit down one-on one. However, I did get to attend a really cool talk as part of a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study of Harvard University lecture series: The Past, Present, and Future of DNA.

I first read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks back in July of 2012, two years after its original publication and a year after it came out in paperback. Apparently this was far enough ahead of the curve that my response was the highest visited response on this site until recently. (Thanks Mr. Coehlo!) Not to be a hipster or anything, but yeah that.

2015 09-29 Radcliffe College Skloot EventWhen I found out about the lecture from my friend Martin, I jumped at the opportunity. I remembered really enjoying the book and I knew that it had become this cultural phenomenon through book groups and word of mouth. What I wasn’t expecting was how packed the auditorium was. I’m glad I got there as early as I did because not only was the main auditorium full, but the balcony and two over-flow rooms were as well! It was cool to see Radcliffe up-close and personal as I’ve only ever walked around/by it and never walked through the grounds, unlike the main Harvard campus.

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Books

Book 291: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) – Megan Shepherd

Shepherd, Megan - Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.

Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.

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2014 Challenges, Books

Book 289: The Devil and Miss Prym (And On the Seventh Day #3) – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - The Devil and Miss Prym (And on the Seventh Day #3)Of the three books in the On the Seventh Day trilogy, this was my favorite. It has been almost two years since I read By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and Veronika Decides to Die was too institutional for me, but this novel was great and approaches the simplicity and beauty of The Alchemist, but kept the idea of an external catalyst which Veronika Decides to Die had.

As with the last novel it’s difficult to go into this one without revealing too many details. A stranger visits the unchanging village of Viscos and creates an ethical/spiritual dilemma that the entire village must agree or disagree to participate in, all or nothing. As with Coelho’s other novels this novel focuses on very few people, but they are ordinary. He said it best in the author’s introduction, Click here to continue reading.