NetGalley Review: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (But You Could Have Done It Better)

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

January 10th 2017

Date I Read The Book:

March 2017

My Star Rating:

3 Stars

Official Summary:

Anonymous break up stories from men and women, old and young, serious and silly and the cartoons that inspired them. Author and artist Hilary Campbell turns the painful into the hilarious, validating emotions from forgotten middle school tragedies to relationships that ended only hours ago.

Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and cartoonist. Her films have won top prizes at Slamdance, SF IndieFest, and more. She was the co-illustrator of Jessica Bennett’s critically acclaimed Feminist Fight Club.Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But You Could’ve Done Better is her first book of cartoons.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

I read through this book in about 30 minutes after finishing an essay in class and was waiting for everyone else to finish.

It was enjoyable enough, a short, pretty funny read.

The illustrations are well done and the funniest part of the book.

But several of the submissions feel flat, or were too similar to be repetitively funny. Others were very funny, but with the writing styles and lengths inconsistent, and all the stories being straight, probably unedited submissions from others, it felt like you should get more from a book you buy.

It was pretty funny, and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the best.

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GIVEAWAY: Gork, The Teenage Dragon

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Fans of Harry Potter and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will relish this teenage dragon’s spellbinding love story filled with bighearted humor and imagination.

“No good human won’t love this dragon named Gork.”—Dave Eggers

Gork isn’t like the other dragons at WarWings Military Academy. He has a gigantic heart, two-inch horns, and an occasional problem with fainting. His nickname is Weak Sauce and his Will to Power ranking is Snacklicious–the lowest in his class. But Gork is determined not to let any of this hold him back as he embarks on the most important mission of his life: tonight, on the eve of his high school graduation, he must ask a female dragon to be his queen. If she says yes, they’ll go off to conquer a foreign planet together. If she says no, Gork becomes a slave.

Vying with Jocks, Nerds, Mutants, and Multi-Dimensioners to find his mate, Gork encounters an unforgettable cast of friends and foes, including Dr. Terrible, the mad scientist; Fribby, a robot dragon obsessed with death; and Metheldra, a healer specializing in acupuncture with swords. But finally it is Gork’s biggest perceived weakness, his huge heart, that will guide him through his epic quest and help him reach his ultimate destination: planet Earth.

A love story, a fantasy, a coming-of-age story, Gork the Teenage Dragon is a wildly comic, beautifully imagined, and deeply heartfelt debut novel that shows us just how human a dragon can be.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: July 11th 2017 by Knopf Publishing Group

Giveaway Details:

First, legal stuff.

This giveaway is legally a sweepstakes.

  • “Sweepstakes: A giveaway where a winner is chosen at random. No purchase is necessary to enter a sweepstakes.” – Definition from Parchment Girl
  • “No purchase necessary”
  • “Void where prohibited by law”
  • “The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning”

Sponser: The prize for this giveaway (1 Hardcover copy of Gork, The Teenage Dragon) was given to me by Penguin Random House for the purpose of this giveaway.

Official Rules

This giveaway will run from July 2nd to July 30th 2017 12:00 P.M EST

Prize

One winner will receive one hardcover copy of Gork, The Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson

Approximate Retail Value: $24.95

Eligibility

This giveaway is open to US residents only.

Must be over the age of 13 (with parent permission) or over the age of 18 (without).

 

How To Enter

To enter, comment down below with something approximating “I am entering this giveaway” and tell me why you want to read Gork, The Teenage Dragon.

In your comment, leave me a method for contacting you if you win (twitter DM, email, etc.).

Extra entries if you:

-Follow my blog.

-Follow me on twitter (@rivermoosevlogs)

(1 extra entry each, say so in your comment, I will be checking)

The winner will be chosen at random using this generator. All entries will be added from comments.

It is preferred, though not mandatory, that the winner review the book on their own blog, Goodreads, and/or a retailer’s site.

When A Winner Is Chosen

After the entry period ends (on release date), I will randomly pick a winner using a generator. Said winner will be contacted through method detailed in entry comment. The winner will have 3 days to message me back, with their address, so I may ship the prize.

If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen.

Once the prize has been shipped, the winner will be posted on this page.

Please allow a couple of weeks for the prize to be shipped. I will message the winner once I have officially shipped the prize with confirmation.

I am not responsible if the package is lost or damaged in the mail, neither is Penguin Random House.


PRAISE FOR GORK

“Like nothing you’ve ever read before—a quirky, wildly fun ride.”—BuzzFeed’s Exciting New Books You Need To Read This Summer

Gork, the Teenage Dragon combines so many things I count on in fiction I love—great expansive humor, a big-hearted optimism about all that’s possible in the world and in fiction, a very clear moral purpose and a sense of social responsibility—plus a willingness to experiment with the form of writing, to push the art of writing further, and with passion.”
Dave Eggers, author of Heroes of the Frontier and The Circle

Gork, the Teenage Dragon is a hilarious ride through the mind-bending and capacious universe, a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story for the big-hearted and beleaguered. Mostly, it’s a reminder that, now especially, we on planet Earth need a whole lot more dreamer-poets, a whole lot more gentle peace-loving fools.”
Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Life on Mars and Ordinary Light

Gork, the Teenage Dragon is jam-packed with outrageous storytelling and soulful humor in the glorious American tradition of Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain. Who knew a dragon’s coming-of-age story could be filled with so much humanity?” 
Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“Gork’s got it going on. His secret weapon? Poetry! This wonderful, big-hearted, crazy novel is a testament to Gabe Hudson’s ingenious imagination.”
Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen

“It’s hard not to love a story about a dragon with a spaceship that cribs its plot from a John Hughes movie. The hyperkinetic teen-dragon comedy-romance you never knew you wanted.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Cleverly plotted and executed. . . . Gork’s amusing growing-up story unfolds in vignettes of encounters with various kooky fellow dragons. Throughout, Hudson makes generally witty and occasionally brilliant reflections on humans’ often reptilian behavior.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Genre-bending, age-defying appeal. . . . Gork has one thing going for him: a big, generous heart. Seriously, literary sentimentalists, can you resist?”
—Library Journal

“Like a mad scramble to find the right date for prom—but with dragons. Gork might have a ‘scaly green ass,’ but teens will laugh and relate to his desperate search for a date. Recommend this one to fans of offbeat science fiction and fantasy, such as the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series.”
—Booklist

“Big-hearted and gawky, Gork gives us a lovable loser sure to win the hearts of sci-fi readers and fans of offbeat comedies.” 
Shelf Awareness

“Harry Potter meets Sixteen Candles meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy . . . with one unforgettable hero: Gork.” 


“Gork, the Teenage Dragon induced in me such madcap, heartfelt delight and joy, like getting drunk but WITHOUT impaired faculties and PLUS dragons.”
Alice Sola Kim, 2016 Whiting Award Winner

“Gabe Hudson’s fire-breathing, page-scorching creation, Gork the dragon, is more human and big-hearted and generous than most people I know. This book is as sly and smart as it is hilarious.”
Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet

Gork the Teenage Dragon is on fire! It’s magnificent and exuberant and ferociously funny, and it’s also one of the most moving coming-of-age stories to appear in a long time.”
Paul La Farge, author of The Night Ocean

“An epic love story that is wondrous, enchanting, hilarious, and heartrending. This dragon Gork is a direct descendant of Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield, and his voice is a marvel of comic timing and pathos. Gork, the Teenage Dragon is sure to become an instant classic, destined to be loved by all sorts of readers through the ages.”
Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life

“A humorous coming-of-age story with a deeply heartfelt message.”
Signature Reads

“A witty sense of humor. . . . If you’re a fan of the Greek God’s series of books (Percy Jackson) by Rick Riordan, you’ll be a fan of this one. It’s a mythical story with a great adventure, a love story and dragons!”
—RedCarpetCrash.com

Book Review: Girl Against The Universe

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Original Release Date:

May 17th 2016

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4.5 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

Maguire’s story gave me anxiety – and I kind of came into it expecting a supernatural vibe – that she really is bad luck – but its a PTSD-related contemporary and I have to say I enjoyed it as that more than I thought.

If memory serves, they don’t outright say PTSD – but it seemed very strongly like what it was portraying. I liked that they showed the steps of the recovery process, little and big, and that back-sliding was more or less inevitable but help was not weakness. And that a boy couldn’t fix her problems. She isn’t cured but working towards recovery which was kore honest than most mental illness contemporaries.

I liked the sports aspect – mostly because it required absolutely no understanding of tennis.

The romance was cute and a slow burn. And I loved all the character inter-actions and their growth through out the story. Especially Maguire’s improving relationship with her step-dad.

It was a great story, well written and with a great portrayal of PTSD without brushing off symptoms for the sake of the romance or stereotypes.

 

Netgalley Review: It’s All Absolutely Fine

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

November 17th 2016

Date I Read The Book:

December 2016

My Star Rating:

4 stars

Chronology:

Standalone /  graphic autobiography

Official Summary:

IT’S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE is a darkly comic, honest and unapologetic illustrated account of the daily struggles with mental health. Ruby Elliot, aka Rubyetc, is the talent behind the hit tumblr account, ‘Rubyetc’, which has over 210k followers and growing. Taking readers on a journey through the ups and downs of life, the book will encompass everything from anxiety, bipolar disorder and body image to depression and identity, shining a light on very real problems – all framed with Ruby’s trademark humour and originality.

Ruby balances mental health with humour, making serious issues accessible – and very funny. With the superb talent to capture the essence of human emotion (and to make you laugh out loud), this book is as important and necessary as it is entertaining. IT’S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE will include mostly never-before-seen material, both written and illustrated, and will be an empowering book that will make you laugh, make you think, and make things ok.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

Sorry this review is so late…

Whoops.

This is a pretty great book. It’s an illustrated memoir – it is unflinchingly honest but also sidesplittingly funny.

It is down-to-earth and relatable to nearly everyone, and it a great portrayal of mental illness in the multi-dimensional – good days and bad days.

I recommend it greatly.

 

 

Book Review: Ask The Passengers

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Original Release Date:

October 23rd 2012

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

3.5 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

While I enjoyed this book alright, I was disappointed in it.

So many book-bloggers and book tubers LOVE AS King and I just…didn’t. It was merely okay.

The writing was good, I liked the style. I liked the realism of her characters and her story.

But it felt too open-ended for me, we didn’t get enough resolution, the character growth didn’t seem earned – like it happened when we weren’t looking. We didn’t get enough backstory – like Astrid and her mom don’t get along, but we never really find out why. Her parents aren’t homophobes, but they don’t accept Astrid and its never really talked about.

I did like that it was diverse, its a lesbian romance with multi-dimensional characters and not-heavily stereotyped.

I liked the little plane passenger excerpts too.

I liked the book – I just had such high expectations I was underwhelmed by it.

I will check out some of her other books though, and I’d recommend it her anyone who can take it with a grain of salt – it won’t be the best book ever, but it is a pretty good one.

 

Book Report: Living With Our Genes

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Living With Our Genes is a nonfiction book, written by Dean Hamer and Peter Copeland, about the genetic basis of personality and behavior. The book is divided into 8 chapters, each covering a different genetically influenced aspect of personality, behavior or growth: thrills, worry, anger, addiction, sex, thinking, hunger, and aging. There is also an introduction on Emotional Instinct, and a conclusion on Engineering Temperament. The book explores the nature v. nurture controversy deeply, covering the aspects and extant to which genes are known to influence these eight aspects, and the extant thought to be determined, altered, or otherwise dependent on environmental factors. Genes being the nature, and the environment (basically the experiences and setting in which you live and cannot separate yourself from if you tried) being the nurture.

As told in “Living With Our Genes”, genes are the first determining factors to basically everything about us. They are the basic reason why people find happiness in different things, why some people are more intelligent, why some people are anxious and some are calm. While nurture plays a role, are genes determine more than many people think, especially when the variability between people is much smaller than you’d think (les than 2% changed between people, and we share 98% of our DNA with monkeys, closer to 99% in bonobos). “Living With Our Genes” is easily summed up by its tag line: “The Groundbreaking Book About The Science Of Personality, Behavior, and Genetic Destiny”.

“Thrills” is all about novelty seeking. People who score high on novelty seeking seek new experiences; they do well in high risk-high reward situations and careers, and do not handle repetitive experiences well or with enjoyment. People who score low on novelty seeking enjoy routine and order. They do not handle stressful situations well, but are not easily bored, and can handle tedious tasks with grace. Both of course have their pros and cons in any given situation. Novelty seeking is one personality aspect that tends to be similar in marriage couples rather than abiding by the “opposite attracts” rule. Novelty seeking is, in part, affected by the D4DR gene, which is highly variable and affects dopamine binding. Through twin studies, we know roughly 60% of novelty seeking is heritable, and the other 40% is due to environmental factors.

Where novelty seeking is affected by dopamine, worry is affected by serotonin, another neurotransmitter. Prozac is a medication commonly used to treat mood disorders, especially depression, as it regulates serotonin uptake. Worry and anxiety would be things you’d expect to be heavily influenced by environment, upbringing and parental guidance and attention would logically seem to be factors of a worrisome or calm dispositions. But, like most things, there is a strong genetic component, which is illustrated in “Living With Our Genes” in a case study like example, about identical twin sisters who, despite living in nearly opposite homes in everyway possible, were near identical in worrisome temperament and personality. Both were fussy babies and grew to be anxious adults. Which goes to show just how prevalent genes are in determining who we will be, which is the entirely point of the book.

The book continues on to explain anger, addiction, sex, thinking, hunger, and aging. While different genes control each, with different correlations of nature v. nurture in which is more prominent in affecting the trait. The message remains consistent. Both genes and environment play a role. There are specific genes that control every aspect of personality, and each variation gives us a good idea of who you will be, but it isn’t the end all, be all, because environment always plays a role, even when you cannot interpret its influence.

Aside from separating each chapter by trait, the book is written in a way that using both story-like examples and then explaining the science behind said story in order to keep the reader engaged. Then it is backed up by case studies, or twin studies, with the research cited and statistics for heritability and other correlations given. The book balances the story examples with the actual science being explained effectively, neither detracts from the other, while keeping the reader engaged. The book also has each chapter divided into subsections, easily letting you find relevant information when skimming, and breaking up the denser parts of the text into smaller sections that makes it feel less like a textbook and more like an actual book. At several times, the authors switch to first person (saying “in our lab” etc.), which not only reminds you that this is real, and has practical application, but that real people conducted this research. The first person sections turn denser parts of the reading into friendlier, more easily accepted chunks rather than textbook reading, and help personalize the information, connecting you to the author. It feels more genuine and easier to believe, understand, and remember information when the people telling you studied it themselves rather than feeling like you getting second-hand information.

The research presented in the book also tie into current research and our textbook. For one thing, the anger and worry chapter present ideas that can most likely be applied to the bonobo monkeys in our study of how exactly how similar and different they are to humans. The intelligence factor, and the potential for intelligence based on genetics is a large part of the bonobo monkey studies, we wonder if, because of their similarity to humans, they could learn language.

The book often cites twin studies and case studies, both valid methods of research in psychology. The twin studies are used to separate inheritable factors from environmental factors. The case studies, serve as an in depth portrayal of the subject rather than an abstract one. Bandura’s experiments with the punching dummy and children exposed to violence relates to the anger chapter. Both genes and environment play a large role in anger, as in worry, which we see in the description and effects of different child attachments: secure, anxious-ambivalent, and avoidant. Attachment styles are affected by the mothers’ treatment and responses to the infant as well as the infants natural (genetic) disposition. Each affects the other, which is coined as reciprocal determinism by Bandura as well.

In all, I feel the book is effective in explaining the information it wishes to convey. It is engaging by nonfiction standards, and serves as a decent review for topics already covered in the course, while not being alienating to someone with little to no knowledge of psychology that should choose to read it.

 

Book Review: Redshirts

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Original Release Date:

June 12th 2012

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

5 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:
(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

I love science fiction, but I don’t read much adult science fiction as I am not the biggest fan of war and action, which most adult sic-fi devolves into.

The adult sic-fi I tend to read is humor based (think The Martian type humor/sci-fi). Redshirts fits that bill.

This book is the sort of meta sic-fi I love – meta episodes always tend to be great episodes. It is such a clear parody of Star Trek, but comments on tropes in all sci-fi, which has mostly become complacent, and focuses on the trope of killing off extras for drama, popularized by the Star Trek “Redshirt”.

This book is part its own story, but parody, part commentary and part meta analysis. All the science was prime Sci-fi, and the characters were all great. The idea of our protagonists being “the extras/side characters” is very “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” if you want a reference for whether you’d like this.

Its a unique book, and is one of my favorites of all time. I’m really going to have to read more John Scalzi, as I read his book of short stories Miniatures in December and loved it too.

I highly recommend this book!