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University Required for Blogging?

Hello everybody, I have a bit of a random chat this time. But I received my first negative comment on one of my posts (figured it was about time). I don’t find myself particularly bothered by the fact that someone doesn’t like my opinion/blog whatever it may be. What I was annoyed by was the fact that they asked me about my education. They asked if I went to university because the blog post was badly written. In case you were curious it was my bookish post about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Ok, so I want to start off by saying, I don’t care that they don’t like my blog. But my personal opinion on that is: then don’t read my posts. If you have something constructive to say, go for it or disagree with me. I can take it. Implying I am uneducated isn’t helping anyone. They then went on to tell me that I lacked insight because I described the character of Sherlock Holmes as fun. According to them he is intended to be stoic.

So the real purpose of this post… What does everyone think about education and blogging about books?

I have never thought to ask a blogger about their education. Does it really matter what degree they have, or don’t have? I don’t think it changes an opinion about a book. An arts degree, for example, may influence how you analyze it or break it down. But I don’t think it changes how personal experiences evoke different emotions when reading.

The truth of it is, most people read for pure entertainment, not to sit down and discuss the themes and symbolism. In the end most people reading a review just want to know if it is worth their time. Was it entertaining? Did you learn something? Was it predictable?

In the end we all read, blog and review differently. I guess just do what you want is what it all comes down to. I know I won’t be changing anything based on that comment.

Have you guys had similar questions? How do you reply, or not?

Trouble Purse Sued by Marianna Heusler

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I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

After what seems like a series of unfortunate events at the St. Polycarp school, a teacher and interim principal end up in the middle of a mystery. In an attempt to save the school from being shut down by the archdiocese, Mrs. Hopwood decided to donate a recent inheritance of vintage clothing, to auction off in a fashion show. Things get very complicated for the two women from that point on.

Okay, so I must admit, I figured going in this, it would be a fun little mystery, entertaining but no huge surprises. But I was pleasantly surprised….By how much I liked this book. I have read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, and have gotten pretty good at guessing the endings. Not this time!!

I will start with the characters. There are a lot of characters in this book. It took me 30 pages to get them all sorted out and keep them straight in my head. But they were all very well written. The main character, Mrs. Hopwood, felt like such a realistic character to me: definitely flawed, and in complete honesty, a little annoying. Mrs. Hopwood is really self involved, has a slight hoarding problem, and can be obsessive. In spite of all that, I loved her character. Even though she is far from perfect and I don’t see myself being her friend, I was rooting for her the whole way. The other character I want to mention is Mrs. Johnson, a teacher out of her comfort zone with a million things going on she isn’t exactly equipped to deal with. She ends up in over her head with her new position as the principal, and her friend Mrs. Hopwood off trying to solve a wild mystery(not helping the situation). The discussion of her home life, having twins and a bad back made the character believable. Even when the s**t hits the fan at work, yes the family stuff doesn’t stop and wait for you to get caught up.

The mystery itself was great. As I said there are a lot of characters who are intertwined very gracefully. At the beginning it all seems like a lot of people, all doing their own thing. As the story moves along you start to see the picture coming together, and it happens so slowly you don’t really notice it at first. People’s past and present all sort of mix slowly to create the perfect mystery. I didn’t see the conclusion coming at all; I was vigorously flipping pages to see where it was all going to end up.

As you may have guessed, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good mystery. Very entertaining and engaging! This happens to be the fourth book in a series but can definitely be read as a stand alone. I also hope to get the chance to pick up the rest of the books in this series. It was just so fun and I would like to see more of these characters, maybe how they all got to where they were in this one.

 

 

Long Daze at Long Binh by Steve Donovan and Fred Borchardt

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Long Daze at Long Binh: The humorous adventures of two Wisconsin draftees trained as combat medics and sent off to set up a field hospital in South Vietnam

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is the memoir of two men who were drafted and sent over to Vietnam as medics. They met when they were first inducted and spent the entire two years together over there. This book is funny, interesting and sometimes sad.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I like that this was looking at the lighter side of what some personnel went through. This is not making light of war in any way; this is about the day to day stuff that happens in the army. Sometimes they are not the most organized: unforeseen problems pop up that can be just funny. Keep in mind that these two guys were in a field hospital (they were non-combatant personnel). Yes, they went through the same training, but they were there to save people not to shoot them.

The sense of humour in this book is great. They are constantly trying to “beat the system” whenever they could. From skipping out on some of their laps in the daily run, to finding a way to help soldiers with typing reports instead of filling sand bags all day. The miscommunications with the locals were hilarious (e.g. trying to explain to the women how to use a western toilet when they didn’t speak Vietnamese). You can imagine how that went down. Everyone over there was on a huge learning curve. They were away from home, living with a new language and new rules around them without any privacy.

Along with all the funny anecdotes, there is some very interesting information in the book. I’m not going to lie, I don’t know a lot about the army or the nitty gritty of war. This did shine a light on some of what happened during the Vietnam War, and what the medics went through: problems they needed to deal with that I never would have thought of, such as the realistic issue to keep their feet dry. A little more of an explanation about Agent Orange. We all know about what happened to the people, but the army had no idea it would have those affects. Their own soldiers were exposed to this stuff too.

As horrible as war is, and all the negatives that come from it, it seems to happen nonetheless. These two men managed to look at the brighter side, did an extra year over there and came out of it all with a great friendship and some funny stories. This is their story.

If anyone is looking for a lighter story and wants to learn a bit more about the Vietnam war, I would suggest picking up this book.

Reading Wrap Up July 23rd

Hello everybody. Man does it feel good to be out of my reading slump. That was a long long two weeks and I am still enjoying the feeling of normal….well normal for me. This week I finished three books, so I’ll tell ya a bit about them.

Long Daze at Long Binh by Steve Donovan and Fred Borchardt⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – This is the memoir of two men drafted in the Vietnam War. A little different from others this one is a light funny memoir about being in the army. I really enjoyed it, it was fun and interesting. It felt like I had just sat down with two old friends reminiscing. I will be posting a full review shortly.

Bone Vol.1 by Jeff Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – This is a graphic novel about these little guys called Bones. This one is about three cousins getting lost finding each other and these scary rat things. This seems to be a graphic novel that everyone has read when they were a kid. I like to call this an all ages book, then I won’t feel as bad for it being a Scholastic’s book. But it was really cute and fun. I am continuing with this series, this one is at least only I think 8 volumes long.

Trouble Purse Sued by Marianna Heusler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – This is the story of a fashion show at a Catholic school. They are trying to raise money to save the school. Then a series of odd events occurs. Ok so that was a bad summary and I sold no one on this book. But it was really good: it’s a mystery and it was really engaging and well done over all. I will also be doing a full review on this one.

That is all I got read this week, which I am so happy about post slump. Now to keep it going.

For all of you that saw my jar last week and was curious, it has 119 in it, and the glory prize goes to Bookstooge. Thank you all for playing. Now I just need to start picking haha.

On This Bookish Day :July 18th – Hunter S. Thompson Is Born

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

July 18th – Hunter S. Thompson is born, 1937

Thompson was born in Kentucky, to a middle class family. After the death of his father, his family faced some hard times, which left them in poverty. After assisting with a robbery he spent 60 days in prison and was unable to complete his high school education.

Thompson was most well known for being the founder of gonzo journalism. Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. Wikipedia link here. This is exactly what his first publication was, Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967). In which he spent a year living with the Hell’s Angels, hearing their stories first hand. His most well known work is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971). This was originally printed in Rolling Stones magazine, then later turned into a film starring Johnny Depp.

After a series of health problems, he committed suicide at the age of 67.

A few random facts:

  • Johnny Depp paid to have his ashes shot out of a cannon, as per his will
  • At 15, he made an electric go-kart using a washing machine engine.
  • To improve his writing style and while working for Time he copied F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” word for word, from start to finish.

Thompson had a very, very busy life (and I am sure I have only scratched the surface here) but I hope you guys found that interesting.

Fear and Loathing

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This is a book about a man who goes on a road trip to Las Vegas. It is his experience on many drugs and alcohol.

So my summery is two short sentences. That is because nothing really happens in this book…..at all. This tells the story of him on a ton of drugs, all at once, and lots of mixing them with alcohol and of course, driving. I just found myself bored: I don’t really care to read 204 pages of decisions based on what a high brain thinks is a good idea. Looking for ways to get higher, get away from a hotel without paying the bill, speeding while high and drunk without getting caught, and many more bad decisions.

I would have given this book one star normally. But I was trying to look at the big picture: it does give some insight into how an addicted mind is working, their main focus being on drugs and “fun”. Obviously not a good way to learn about addiction, but it does show what is going on up there in Thompson’s brain.

In the end I would not recommend this book. I originally intended to watch the movie to add a paragraph about how I thought it compared to the book. But as you may have guessed, I’m really not interested. Right now I would rather watch some iZombie.

Weekly Wrap up July 16th

Well it’s that time again. Time for the weekly wrap up. I feel like the slump is over and I am happy to say that I managed to finish up three books this week.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  – This is the one I mentioned in my pervious post about nonfiction recommendations. It is quite simply and beautifully, pictures of random people in New York. Some pictures only show where they were taken while others had short stories about the situation or their lives to follow. I really enjoyed all the different types of people: diversity in every single possible way.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson ⭐️⭐️  – Famous piece of nonfiction work, that was turned into a movie, essentially about a drug infused road trip to Las Vegas. I do believe it was supposed to show the drug culture, and how crazy it gets. But to me it was just him talking about hallucinations and bad ideas he had while on every drug he could think of at the time. I didn’t like it and don’t really know why it was written.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  – This book was sooooo good. I honestly don’t want to say much of anything about it; It’s short and hard to stay spoiler free. I’ll just say that it is about a woman trying to recollect what caused her illness. It is being told while she is experiencing a fever. This book is unsettling and that is the best word I can think to explain it. It’s neither horror, nor thriller. But it sort of feels like one. She keeps the pages turning, but if you are looking for a story to be wrapped up all nice at the end, this is not it. I recommend everyone read it so that we can discuss it, because I’m curious as to others’ thoughts on it.

 

Not something that I have read but a small project, I made a TBR Jar. I’m slightly backlogged with library books and couple of review copies right now. But as soon as I get those done I will be picking from the jar to finally make a dent in my massive amount of unread books I have sitting at home.

I hope to finish up Long Daze at Long Binh this week, post reading slump this may be attainable. Then I hope to read two more books: Trouble Purse Sued by Marianna Heusler and Savage Joy by Robert Dunn.

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Anyone want to guess how many unread titles are in the jar….there are no prizes. Just pure glory:)

Non-Fiction Gateway Books

Hello everybody,

I have called this post non-fiction gateway books for a reason. That is pretty much how it happened for me: I read one good memoir and then I was hooked. Now I read about two non-fiction books a month. So I thought I would make up a list for you other book lovers who are always trying to get into the genre.

Graphic Memoirs

Fun Home

This is a great one, where she describes growing up a lesbian from a very young age. It covers her before and after she realizes her sexual orientation. Very well done overall.

Persepolis

I have only read part one so far and it was really good. It is the story of a girl growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution, showing how so much changed and the freedoms she lost. Also a really good movie.

Mental Health

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This is one of my favourite memoirs about mental health. Actually one of my favourite memoirs period. It is the story of a New York reporter who slowly became mad to the point where she was catatonic. She doesn’t remember any of it, so it is written from her interviewing friends, family and doctors. Her being a reporter, this worked very well. I don’t want to give anything away, but it says a lot about mental health as well as a bit of a science mystery.

Look me in the eye

I find Asperger’s very interesting and this one really helped me understand a bit more how they experience the world. I realize there is a whole spectrum and this is just one person’s experience, but I still really enjoyed it. If you are curious about Asperger’s this memoir is really well written. Robison gives you a good idea on how his brain works and he can be pretty funny.

Both by Jenny Lawson, and both hilarious. She is just funny. But she also has to deal with depression, anxiety and a few other issues. These books are a very fun and entertaining way to learn about the more serious aspects of common mental health issues.

The Reason I Jump

This is a really short book, that is just a Q&A of all the common questions this autistic boy is asked. Simple things that I would have no idea about, but really helped me to understand what they are going through and how they see the world.

 Science

What if

This book is just fun. He has really funny stick figures to show all the crazy scientific questions. Also the answers to these super crazy and funny questions are very real. If you are dorky like me and like science, pick this up: it will make you laugh.

Grunt

This is a really interesting book, too. Mary Roach has written a bunch of science books, she does a bunch of research on something she finds interesting and writes it all down. This one is about the army, some of it is crazy and others just plain fascinating. Like the amount of tests they need to do on a button for it to be approved for the army. If I remember right it was a 13 page document. And much more about things you had never asked before.

Funny

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This is exactly like it sounds. His dad says they funniest things. Not a lot to take away from this one, just really funny read.

Inspirational

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This is a beautiful memoir. This is the story of a sales rep. in Manhattan and a homeless 11-year-old boy. He was pan handling and she was going to keep walking. But she stopped and they had a meal together, this soon became a weekly event. This tells the story of their friendship that has lasted for decades.

wild

This was my gateway memoir. It happened to be the bookclub book at my library, so I took one home and read it in two days. This is a story about a woman who needed to find herself, and she did it by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I found this to be interesting and touching. I might be biased, because it was my first memoir that I loved.

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I wasn’t sure where to put this one, but I knew I had to include it, because it is just amazing. It is a hard read, but man can this woman write. She talks so simply about overcoming so much. I find her inspiring, she talks about horrible things with no anger. I would also recommend listening to her talk on YouTube, because her voice is amazing and that alone will inspire you.

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This one is more inspiring in a work towards your dreams sort of way. Chris Hadfield talks about everything he had to do to become an astronaut, the things he had to give up and the focus required. He has in general lived a pretty interesting life and has a pretty good sense of humour.

History

Night

This book is so amazing. This is written about the Holocaust. It is brutal and heartbreaking. But it happened so I think it is important to read about it.

lawrence in arabia

This book is packed full of information. With how complicated things are in the Middle East right now, I think this is a really important one for people to read. The book is long and can be a bit dry in a couple of places (and it took me a month to read it) but it was worth it. People are quick to judge the Middle East and this book really explains some major contributing factors.

Feminism

One Day

This is a collection of essays. I’m still not sure I would put it under the category of feminism: she touches on so many important subjects. But I just feel like feminism is where I want to put this one. This looks at many important issues including race, cultural differences (not really an issue but it does cause some misunderstandings), sexism and alcoholism. And a bit of humour mixed in.

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This is my first book my Gloria Steinem. This really shows what a lot of women have gone through for equal rights over the many years. It is a great little history of what she and many other women have done for us all.

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Ok so Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is awesome. She is strong and is a great speaker for women’s rights. Plus her name is super cool. This was originally a TED’s talk that she later turned into this little book. It’s great and inspiring with a bit of humour. I would really recommend watching the TED’s talk: the humour comes across better.

Race

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This is the only one that I can think of that really stood out for me about race alone. Trevor Noah is so funny. Actually his mom is even funnier. This is a great mixture of funny and very serious. He was born during the apartheid, so his very existence was illegal. I have been told (thanks, Mom) the audiobook is extremely well done, he narrates it.

Feel Good

HONY

This is just as the title would appear: photos of random people from New York City. The Photography is beautiful and there are quotes and little stories about the people and it’s just really cool. I want to read the sequel next where it is more focused on the stories.

lion

This came out fairly recently as a movie, so many of you may have heard of it. It is the memoir of a boy in India who got lost on the trains, couldn’t find his way back home, and eventually was taken into an orphanage. He was adopted by an Australian couple and this is the story of how he got lost and also how he found his long lost family many years later as an adult.

This list was a lot longer than I thought it would be, there are just so many good non-fiction books out there. I hope this list may have helped any of you looking to venture into the non-fiction genre.