Showing posts with label two and a half stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label two and a half stars. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

[Review] Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari: Digital Age and Dating

In MODERN ROMANCE Comedian Aziz Ansari explores the peculiarities of dating in the age of technology.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for some Non-Fiction.

More academic than funny

MODERN ROMANCE reads more like a sociological study than a humorous little book peaking fun at dating habits in the 2010s. Undeniably a lot of work went into this as most chapters contain the outcomes of multiple surveys and interviews with people from different age groups. While that is quite the interesting premise, I feel like MODERN ROMANCE would have benefitted more from mixing humor with anecdotes exlusively. Aziz is incredibly funny and MODERN ROMANCE just doesn't embrace that.

Knowing Ansari's stand-up I was hoping for basically a novelized version of one of his performances. Lots of stories, lots of fun things to laugh about. This absolutely isn't what MODERN ROMANCE is, it's an academic study in my opinion that doesn't quite committ. 

Decent Bedside Table Read

It's half anecdotes half academic text and this is just not a flattering combination. I ended up skimming many passages simply because I wasn't interested. It truly does read like a lecture, which isn't surprising since this book has been co-written with a sociology professor. 

Initially MODERN ROMANCE lures you in with pretending to focus primarly on the digital age- which is why I picked it up - but essentially it compares generations. I'm not quite sure what MODERN ROMANCE is trying to do, it certainly doesn't deliver any new revelations that you didn't know if you grew up in the last 20th century. Ultimately I do think aside from a bedside table read that you can skim through whenever you're feeling like you need a light distraction, it's probably just a pick for people who really love Aziz Ansari.


Rating:

★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

MODERN ROMANCE is a well-researched book and has its fun moments, but ultimately wasn't quite what I expected and disappointed me through being more academic than funny. If you don't mind that, MODERN ROMANCE still makes for a nice bedside table read.



Additional Info

Published: 19th September 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Goldmann
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Sociology
ISBN: 978-3-442-17619-9

Synopsis:
"At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you know Aziz Ansari?

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

[Review] And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) - Kiersten White: Vlad the Impaler and a Badass Anti-heroine





In AND I DARKEN, the vicious Wallachian princess Lada and her gentle brother Radu are abandoned by their father Vlad Dracul to be raised in the Ottoman Empire.

What intrigued me: I absolutely love books about anti-heroes.

Fantastic Characters

AND I DARKEN doesn't read like a typical YA High Fantasy book. Don't let the blurb fool you, this isn't a story with dragons and magical creatures, this is alternate historical fiction, inspired by the famous Vlad Tepes. It's well researched, it's full of historical figures you might recognize if you're a history buff, and it's a pretty well-rounded book.

A huge portion of the book is spent on backstory, pages and pages telling us of Radu's and Lada's childhood to supposedly make us understand them and their choices better. I do have to say that the characters in AND I DARKEN are fantastic

The biggest strength of the novel is that it manages to create a realistic portrayal of nearly all of its characters, but sadly sometimes this comes at the expense of the narration. The writing is impeccable and White seamlessly manages to pull of multiple POVs without making it awkward at all. The fact that we get so much backstory does help with character establishment, but it also makes reading this equal a chore. The blurb promises the story of a vicious teenage princess, but the first 150 pages read like a family chronicle Game of Thrones style. I'm talking that part of Game of Thrones where Martin describes the ingredients of a sandwich for 3 pages.

Only for history buffs?

AND I DARKEN absolutely stands out within the genre, but I just wish there was more plot and more action to it all. White does not need so many pages to establish that Lada is brutal and mean and that Radu is a small ray of sunshine, I absolutely hated that there are so many time jumps. It makes getting attached to actual plot impossible when everything around them is constantly changing. I didn't understand the politics, I didn't really manage to create a basic understanding of who's fighting whom and why, mostly due to the story being told over the span of several years. 

It does read more like a family chronicle than a regular fantasy story. If you're not familiar with the actual history behind this story, I assume you'll feel similarly.

While I do appreciate to see something different in AND I DARKEN, I wish it was more dense, more focused on world building and less on the characters. At the end of the day this story just doesn't need to be half as long as it is. 


Rating:

★★½☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

AND I DARKEN is a very unique book with fantastic(!) characters, but the story just didn't grip me as much as I would have liked. I can certainly see many people enjoy this, especially if you're a fan of historical fiction, it's definitely a good read! Personally, if wasn't for me, I was looking for something more magical than historical.



Additional Info

Published: July 7th 2016
Pages: 498
Publisher: Corgi Children's
Genre: YA / Historical
ISBN: 9780552573740

Synopsis:
"No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books by Kiersten White?

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

[Review] Nightmares & Dreamscapes (#1) - Stephen King: 90% filler and Eerie Conclusions. You call that horror?






This is a short story collection full of supposedly scary short story tales.

What intrigued me: I haven't read a book by Stephen King before and I'm in a massive reading slump, so reading a scary short story collection seems like a good idea!

Not scary, not even remotely horror!

My favorite thing about this is probably the foreword. The stories weren't what I expected them to be. I was hoping for a lot of scary reads, but this is just a random collection of mediocre short stories.

His ideas are very unique, inspiring, and interesting, but in no way what the title NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES suggests. You aren't going to find anything remotely creepy in here, most are just tales about weird people with weird goals, but scary and nightmare-ish is a completely different thing. As it is I was somewhat entertained, but this is just not what the short story collection is advertised as and it's very disappointing, especially because this is my first Stephen King read.

However, I do enjoy King's writing style to some extent. It's easy and quick to read, but I think he overdoes it with the character building. That's also why most of his stories have very weak and slow beginnings that make you want to quit before you've actually gotten to the story. Especially for short stories, you don't need to know about the protagonist's parents and grandparents, or any other specific character building element. I was hoping for the stories to terrify me from beginning to the end but most stories can only deliver a small somewhat eerie conclusion and are 90% filler.

Individual stories & ratings

  • 1. Dolan's Cadillac ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A widower is trying to murder the guy who's responsible for his wife's death by digging a hole and burying him and his expensive car alive.
Opinion: Not scary, just insanely boring. and long-winded. I could hardly finish this.

  • 2. The End of the Whole Mess ★★★★★

Plot: A brilliant prodigy finds a way to cure humanity from its original sin. But for a price.
Opinion: I loved this so much, it's so interesting to see how the mind of a highly intelligent character works. I would love a full-length novel about this. Some continuity issues and an unsatisfying ending, but overall SUPER interesting. Again, not scary though.

  • 3. Suffer the Little Children ★★★☆☆

Plot: Mean teacher is the only one that realizes all children in her school are possessed by monsters.
Opinion: Another boring one. The premise is very interesting, but it's not very scary and too much is left open. 

  • 4. The Night Flier ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: Reporter seeks out someone whom he believes to be a serial killer that thinks they're a vampire, but the guy actually turns out to be a vampire.
Opinion: Horrible. Such a slow beginning, so much unnecessary monologues and backstory, and a very, very disappointing creature that isn't scary in the least. A very long story that feels like I 100% wasted my time even bothering with this one.

  • 5. Popsy ★★★★☆

Plot: A gambling-addict-turned-child-abductor abducts a monster spawn.
Opinion: I loved this. Less annoying backstory as in the previous stories and a convincing monster story, that I really, really liked. Not as scary as I wanted it to be, but another candidate that I'd like a full-length novel of.

  • 6. It Grows on You ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: A mysterious house keeps on growing and adding new wings even long after its owner died.
Opinion: The worst case of please show instead of tell I've ever witnessed. So much backstory oh my god. Seems very pointless to me.

  • 7. Chattery Teeth ★★★★☆

Plot: A man picks up an evil hitchhiker and gets saved by a joke item.
Opinion: Interesting and a little eerie. Though too much gore for my taste. 

  • 8. Dedication ★★☆☆☆

Plot: A maid consumes eats her boss' semen to work a magic spell so her child would grow up to be as talented as him
Opinion: The main flaw of the story is that it's told in retrospective. It's also really weird.

  • 9. The Moving Finger ★★★☆☆

Plot: There is a moving finger perking out of someone's drain and they really don't like it.
Opinion: Super weird. I don't know if I thought it was scary, more bloody, actually. It was okay, but I missed the ~logical explanation~ part.

  • 10. Sneakers ★★☆☆☆

Plot: The ghost of a murdered man comes back to sit on a toilet and wear dirty sneakers.
Opinion: Not a fan of public restroom horror or whatever this is. I was glad to have at least one ghost story in this though.

  • 11. You Know They Got a Hell of a Band ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A couple on a road trip encounters a town full of dead musicians.
Opinion: Too much gore for me and a very weak premise.

  • 12. Home Delivery ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: An old-fashioned zombie outbreak story.
Opinion: Nothing special, very boring!


Overall Rating:

★★½☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Not as your first King read. I was disappointed because I was looking for something super scary. It's an okay short story collection, but the title is very misleading.



Additional Info

Published: June 30th 2009
Pages: 897 (1+2)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Adult / Horror
ISBN:  9781439102565

Synopsis:
"A collection of short stories, several being published for the first time, offers a spine-tingling journey to the nightmare world created by a master of sheer terror and grotesque imagination."
(Source: Goodreads)

Can you recommend some good scary reads?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

[Review] The Beauty, Vol.1 - Jeremy Haun: Epidemics, Beauty Obsessions, and Guns





In THE BEAUTY, VOL.1, humans are able to get more beautiful by getting infected with a sexually transmittable disease called The Beauty. When the infected start imploding all of a sudden, two detectives start investigating.

What intrigued me: Wonderful premise. I love reading about dystopian societies.




Too fast-paced

THE BEAUTY doesn't bother much with exposition, which is probably the reason why I didn't really care much for the plot until about four issues in. It's difficult to keep up with all those characters that are not introduced at all and trying to find out what their relationships are. I'm glad I even managed to catch the two names of the detectives! Therefore, because I could hardly keep up with who was who, I really wasn't as invested as I liked to be, even though the idea is really interesting and intriguing.

We're almost immediately thrown into this world, right into the storyline revolving around the two detectives Foster and Vaughn who are trying to bring The Beauty down because it's killing more and more people. The comic generally has X-Files vibe it, not only because of the protagonists looking just like Scully and Mulder, but also because it is heavy on the action and investigation side. You'll find a lot of gore-y scenes, nudity, and shootings in this.

Unflattering artwork

While the artwork is nice to look at, I don't think that it necessarily compliments the narration. There are lots of eye closeups, lots of background scenes with the characters and their families, and this is just not working very well when you don't know who all these people are and hardly any of them is actually introduced. 

Another thing that kind of bugged me is that I didn't really see the difference between the looks of the people infected with The Beauty and those who aren't. The cover artwork for the issues is way prettier than the actual artwork inside and seems to be done in a slightly different style, which is really a pity because I would have loved for this to be a little more experimental and less yet-another-detective-comic generic.



Rating:

★★½

  


Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE BEAUTY needs quite some time to kick off. With the slow start, I'm hesitant to directly say "Go read this" - I'll probably still stick around for the second volume because I just started to get interested in the story (after reading six issues). If you don't mind a slow, but fast-paced start, go ahead. I'm positive that this series will be improving in future issues.





Additional Info

Published: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 164
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre: Adult / Dystopian
ISBN: 9781632155504

Synopsis:
"Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? 

In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Vaughn and Foster will soon discover it comes at a terrible cost. Now, they'll have to find their way past corrupt politicians, vengeful federal agents, and a terrifying mercenary out to collect the price on their heads. "(Source: Goodreads)

Would you get purposely infected with The Beauty?

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