Monday, November 19, 2012

Book #17- America Again

Title- America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
Author- Stephen Colbert (and a staff of writers)
Series- Sequel to I Am America (And So Can You!)
Genre- Politics, humor
Pages- 240
Pages to date- 4,882

The Good:
This book is a funny, satirical look at America, particularly focusing on areas in which we struggle (food, healthcare, energy). The usual Colbert humor is present, poking fun at republicans by exaggerating their ideals (though not by much).

The Bad:
This installment lacks the taste of the original. The writers didn't quite capture Stephen Colbert's voice like they did in the first. Sure, the usual comedy is there, but it doesn't exactly feel like the show.

The Verdict:
America Again is good for a few laughs, but not as well-constructed as I Am America.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book #16- Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

Title- Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
Author- David Sedaris
Series- None
Genre- Humor, Fables
Pages- 159
Pages to date- 4,642

The Good:
Sedaris' pesudo-fables are funny and cast a satirical light on humanity, giving the whole book a certain charm. The illustrations (by Ian Falconer) give good visuals to complement the dry humor of the actual stories.

The Bad:
The humor doesn't always deliver. Many of the tales have a detached sort of humor as wholes, but none of them has a distinct punch line that makes the reader laugh out loud. The comedy presented is a lot heavier than one expects.

The Verdict:
The stories of this book are entertaining, but not gut-splitting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book #15- The NEW New Rules

Title- The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass
Author- Bill Maher
Series- Follow-up to The New Rules
Genre- Politics, Humor
Pages- 359
Pages to date- 4,483

The Good:
This book is downright hilarious. Maher's love for putting down his opponents had me cracking up at many points in the book.
Maher's writing is poignant and concise; his fans will be able to hear his voice in every sentence, only serving to make the book even more funny.

The Bad:
The only minor issue I could find was that the book was deceptively short. Some of the pages only have one "rule" on them that doesn't even fill half of the allotted space. I didn't mind this one bit, but it could turn off readers looking for a deeper experience.
If you are easily offended by the truth, I wouldn't read this piece. Maher isn't afraid to poke fun at anyone: Christians, Republicans, Americans as a whole, terrorists, celebrities, politicians, etc. He embodies in his writing the saying "It's funny because it's true." Some of it, however funny, can also be disturbing or scary.

The Verdict: This book is hilarious. If you aren't afraid of an insult here or there, read it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book #14- The Fire Chronicle

Title- The Fire Chronicle
Author- John Stephens
Series- Book 2 of The Books of Beginning
Genre- Fantasy
Pages- 437
Pages to date- 4,124

The Good:
The Fire Chronicle is fast-paced and extremely entertaining. I couldn't put it down. The new depth in character of the Dire Magnus was phenomenal and will please readers. Michael's storyline was also noteworthy.

The Bad:
While the villain and Michael were newly characterized very well, the returning characters were a little more static. I would have liked more on Dr. Pym, Gabriel, Kate, and Emma. They are good, but not up to the standards of Rafe or Michael.

The Verdict:
The Fire Chronicle is a good, quick read that leaves readers wanting the next installment, but doesn't have enough balance in terms of characterization (I say this now, but it very well could be that this issue is mended in the next and final book of the series).

Book #13- SoulPancake

Title- SoulPancake: Chew on Life's Big Questions
Author- Rainn Wilson
Series- None
Genre- Creativity, Spirituality
Pages- 205
Pages to date- 3,687

The Good:
SoulPancake achieves its goal of making the reader think. The topics discussed are thought-provoking, the art is stimulating, and the questions are not easily answered. Overall, the book is just fun.

The Bad:
The only big problem I had with the book is that there isn't much wiggle room in the spirituality department. It tosses out a few quotes from famous nonreligious people, but many of the questions inherently require a belief in some higher being in order to be answered. This isn't horrible, but it is a bit disheartening.

The Verdict:
SoulPancake is fun and interesting, but not all of its questions are for everybody.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book #12- The Casual Vacancy

Title- The Casual Vacancy
Author- J.K. Rowling
Series- None
Genre- Realistic Fiction
Pages- 503
Pages to date- 3,482

The Good:
The Casual Vacancy is a very interesting novel. The most compelling aspect of it for me was that it was so broad in scope. Even though the setting is a small town, it covers a wide cast of characters and controversial subjects.
The characters were phenomenally written, especially the younger ones. They were very real and so different from one another. I found myself caring so much for each one. Some, I wanted to succeed, and some I wanted to fail. Rowling threw in many surprises in the end that shattered my predictions.

The Bad:
The book gets off to quite a slow start. With so many characters, it is necessary to take some time to introduce them all. This happened for the first 70-100 pages. The next 100 or so was an introduction to the conflicts. After that, it really picked up, but it took a while to get into.

The Verdict:
The Casual Vacancy is an overall good read, but takes some dedication before satisfying the reader.