The next time you upgrade a perfectly good phone because of a rebate that is denied two months later, don’t feel bad. Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up will introduce you to much worse human errors in judgment.
We celebrated when our hunter-gatherer ancestors started farming. Wrong! That practice started class divisiveness and wars over land.
We romanticized the middle-class Shakespeare fan who brought Henry IV’s starlings to New York City. Wrong! The starlings ate our crops and spread disease like salmonella coast to coast. The starlings’ kinsfolk also killed 62 air travelers in 1960 while forcing a plane to crash land.
There are many more examples of unintended consequences here. If you enjoy irony, Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up is a gem. It also explains history with an eye to the human factor. Disneyland’s Cinderella’s castle is based on a Bavarian castle created by theatrical set designers at Mad King (really just homosexual) Ludwig’s behest as a tourist attraction. It is ironic that it worked for current and olden day Bavarian sightseers but also for copycat Disney. Killing Ludwig after he had built only three castles was the gaffe here.
Other reviewers characterize this book as funny and depressing. However, I think it is empowering knowing that everyone makes mistakes. 4 stars!
Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Humor, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: history, human, May 7 2019, psychology
Secret Agent Brainteasers contains over 100 puzzles in a variety of types from logic and wordplay to algebra and geometry. The chapter introductions link the puzzles to skills needed by secret agents as illustrated with true stories from the British intelligence community from Victorian times through today.
I enjoyed the chapter introductions and could see the relevance of the puzzles to actual secret agent skills. The puzzles were great fun or deeply frustrating depending on their difficulty.
There are a couple of warnings. Since many puzzle answers involve words, the use of British spelling (i.e., armour vs. armor) may confuse non-Britons. Some of the puzzles involve a map or board and so are difficult to play on a kindle or tablet. An actual physical book (remember those?) will allow for working out the answers with a pencil (and probably an eraser) more easily.
Overall, Secret Agent Brainteasers will provide many hours of fun where you can avoid social media and the intrusive light of mobile devices. 4 stars!
Thanks to Quercus and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: May 7 2019, puzzles, spies
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Castle on Sunset is not salacious enough. When the topic is the famous Hollywood hotel, the Chateau Marmont, you expect some racy gossip. But if so, you will be sadly disappointed as most of the celebrity stories have been widely told before.
The Chateau was built at the height of 1920s optimism as a homage to a French royal castle. It was finished right before the market crash and the depression began.
The well-researched history of the many owners of the Chateau and its frequent rebranding is the best part of this book. Unfortunately, I was looking for spicy gossip, which is mostly absent. The Castle on Sunset is a serious history. If you are looking for that, you will enjoy this book. However, I wanted more original scoops on celebrities’ lives. 3 stars.
Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: celebrity, history, Hollywood, May 7 2019
MAD about the Trump Era has exactly the same feel as the original magazines.
- One overriding belief—check.
- Various writing styles from prose, to parodies, to poetry, to short comics—check.
- Excellent artwork including easily recognizable caricatures of political and pop culture figures—check.
- More clever, and occasionally witty, than laugh-out-loud funny jokes—check.
MAD about the Trump Era definitely brings back memories of making fun of President Nixon. If anything, there is more data to mine for laughs with President Trump. Just his tweets alone could fill an entire book. The jokes are hit and miss—compare them to the sketches on Saturday Night Live. I really enjoyed Captain Red America because it works on a surface level of climate deniers. But there is a deeper self-referential humor in the R on his suit referencing Red Robin of DC Comics, which owns MAD magazine.
Obviously, if you are a MAGA hat wearing staunch supporter of the Donald, this book is not for you. However, it is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for us older democrats (socialists to you, Mein President). 3 stars.
Thanks to MAD Magazine, DC Entertainment, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: May 7 2019, Politics
In Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale, Catwoman’s backstory is revealed and it is harsh.
Catgirl Selina’s mom brings home a new abusive boyfriend every month until she settles on Dernell. Dernell is physically and emotionally abusive to both Selina and her mother. However, when his cruelty impacts another, Selina runs away from home.
I didn’t know before reading it but this book is published as a young adult comic. I don’t believe teen Catgirl is an example of a good role model. She is a thief. None of the events you would expect, like rape and trafficking, happen to Selina after she runs away from home. She is portrayed as happy living on the street. I know it’s a teenage fantasy but I wouldn’t let my daughter read it.
The backstory of why Selina has a connection to cats and Bruce Wayne is interesting to explore. Making Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale a 4 star read for adults. I’m looking forward to the next volume continuing Catgirl’s transformation into a full grown Catwoman.
Thanks to DC Ink and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: catwoman, May 7 2019
There is a new drug in town in the horror/crime graphic novel, Bone Parish Vol 1. Just don’t ask what they make it out of…
Ash is a new hallucinogen that allows user to experience someone else’s life. It is incredibly popular but also so strong it kills some inexperienced users. The creator and her family can’t keep up with demand—no matter how many gravediggers they hire. Ash is composed of the burned remnants of dead bodies. The more interesting the life story, the better the high. When the family’s profit becomes the talk of the drug underworld, other gangs try to take over the family’s business.
The mixing of necromancy, New Orleans’ gothic atmosphere, and a noir crime family is almost as intoxicating as the drug, Ash. Bone Parish Vol 1 is concerned more with introducing the character’s stories and is rather short on plot in the middle section. However, the beautiful and atmospheric artwork makes the trip stimulating. The conclusion also promises more excitement in the next volume. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to BOOM! Studios and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: May 7 2019