Monday, February 24, 2014

The Book of Epoch by Michael Reiss, Walter Timoshenko, & Darryl Kravitz

Hello Bookworms,

            Today I have a new book review for you. This book is from the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre. Let’s take a look at The Book of Epoch.


            For Mac, life has been pretty difficult. His father died when he was young and his mother is in a coma. Fortunately, he has his Grandma Jen to live with and his friends Benny and Chip. Then there’s Ally. The gorgeous girl he gets to admire at school every day. Unfortunately, every night, Mac has horrible nightmares about a creature called the Morphanon. What Mac is about to realize is that his dreams are much more than dreams, and Mac is chosen to do something about them.


            This book started off great. It was a sweet story about a boy whose life hasn’t been what he hoped who soon starts an adventure that is more amazing than anything he has ever played in the video games that he and his friend Benny enjoy.  But soon, I found that the enjoyment I had for the story was replaced by confusion and frustration. The confusion was brought on by the fact that the longer you read, the more twisted the story becomes. If you aren’t paying close attention, sometimes you’ll get lost. It wasn’t helped by the fact that while some stories start you off with a sort of introduction into what kind of world you’re dealing with, this one sort of drops you in the middle of the futuristic storyline to fend for yourself.

            Another source of confusion was the disclaimer vs. the story. At the beginning of the book, you’ll find a disclaimer saying (in essence) that anything bearing resemblance to people, places, or other stories is purely coincidental. However, as you read, you will find that much of the story’s places, people, and even parts of the plot are taken from literally everywhere. While the parodies of McDonald’s, Stephen Hawking, etc. were cute, the sections of the story taken from (as best as I can tell) the Bible, Mythology, the Harry Potter Series (including the presence of a large chamber and a giant serpent, an invisibility cloak, a boy dealing with the absence of his parents and becoming “the chosen one” etc.) and other famous books and literature greatly distracted from the overall story and lowered the quality of the story for me.

            A huge source of frustration for me was the sections taken from the Bible and twisted. I’m never a fan of taking the Bible and pretending it’s all a myth. That, again, lowered the quality of the story for me.

            Finally, there is the issue of a couple of the illustrations in the book. There was a mythical female character that had her own illustrations in the book. Since the book is aimed at young people, the illustration was way too mature (i.e. she was in a dress that was much closer to lingerie than clothing. Not a drawing I’d be thrilled to catch an elementary or middle school boy staring at in his book).

            I have no doubt that the authors know great work when they see it. They also know how to tell a story. I also see a lot of evidence of creativity. I would like to see an entirely original story to see what the authors can do. However, I do not recommend The Book of Epoch.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Red-Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Hello Bookworms!,

            During the semesters at college it is hard to be able to read a book on top of all the work, studying, interning, and textbook reading, so to keep me reading during the semester, I have been taking time every so often to read one of short stories from the Sherlock Holmes canon. A few weeks ago, I posted my thoughts on A Scandal in Bohemia. This time I will be examining The Red-Headed League.


            A new organization is brewing in London. The red-headed league. The league has a job opening. Only red-heads need apply and only a red-head with the right shade of red hair will be selected. Miraculously, Mr. Jabez Wilson, was perfect for the job. Then, just as soon as it started, the job and the league are dissolved. Something is amiss. Can Sherlock Holmes figure it out and find the culprit? Find out in The Red-Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

original illustration by Sidney Paget


            The Red-Headed league was an interesting tale. In typical Sherlock Holmes style, it seems that it will be impossible to solve the mystery and then suddenly Sherlock has it and will weave an intricate trap to catch the culprit red-handed! One of my favorite parts of the story though is the intimate look we get into Sherlock Holmes and his love for music. Holmes takes a little time during the story to listen to the music being played at St. James Hall. I find Dr. Watson’s description of watching his friend “wrapped in the most perfect happiness, gently waving his long thin fingers in time to the music, while his gentle smiling face and his languid dreamy eyes were as unlike those of Sherlock Holmes the sleuth hound” is a beautiful and rare glimpse into Sherlock Holmes the man and is likely my favorite part in the whole story. I do recommend this story though for anyone interested in the original Sherlock Holmes works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


**This is the book I am using to read the Sherlock Holmes stories. I like the layout of the book, the only drawback is that it is not a complete version of the original Sherlock Holmes works some of the short stories were not included. However, it does include the whole novel “The Hounds of Baskervilles” and the short stories are published in the same fashion as they originally were in The Strand with all the illustrations by Sidney Paget. At just $10 I recommend it to anyone who wants to become acquainted with the original Sherlock Holmes works for the first time like myself.
You can buy the book here

Until next time,
               Lizzie <3

Monday, February 3, 2014

International Book Giving Day!!


Hello Bookworms!!!

        As we all know, February the 14th is Valentine’s Day and its coming up fast. People are out buying flowers, candies, cards, jewelry, etc. for their loved ones to commemorate the day. But there is another holiday that deserves some attention on February 14th.

        It is not Valentine’s Day all over the world, however, it is INTERNATIONAL BOOK GIVING DAY!!!!

What is International Book Giving Day?

        International Book Giving Day is a day dedicated to putting books in the hands of children all over the world. We know that reading improves a child’s vocabulary, imagination, reading/writing/and speaking skills, as well as improving their memory allowing them to retain more information and helping them do better in school. The aim of IBGD is to get people to help children by giving them books to read. The best part is it’s super simple to do!! You don’t have to take a lot of time or even a lot of money!

How do I participate?

        All you have to do is find a way to put a book in the hands of a child. There are infinite ways that you can do that but here are a few examples that might help get your creative juices flowing:

Give a book to your children or grandchildren

Give a book to the neighbor-kids (with their parents permission of course)

Buy some books for the local school/daycare/after-school program

Leave a book in the children’s area of the doctor’s office (may need to ask the office staff for permission first but I don’t think they’ll mind as long as you’ve asked.)

Donate your child’s old books that they don’t like anymore (that are in good condition) to any charity that sends books to children whose families/communities cannot afford them.

        *Usually the charities can be found by looking online or asking your local community offices like the school social worker or office staff (usually the lower grades like primary and elementary will be more aware because more charities target young children), city hall, etc.

Want more information?

There are several ways to get information and updates in regards to International Book Giving Day.

First, I recommend their website for all you need to know about this movement and to sign your name to the list of people from all over the world who are going to give books (signing the list does not obligate you to do anything, or sign you up for any fees, you may choose to be shown as anonymous. The organizers would just like to know how many people and from what countries will books be given.)

Second, I recommend following the organizers on Twitter @bookgivingday. You will see all sorts of stories, facts, print outs and more from the book giving day organizers. You can find them by searching their name or find their tweets by searching the hashtag #giveabook.

I personally am planning to participate by giving books to the children in my class as a part of their take home gift bags during their Valentine’s Day party. I hope you will participate too. Books can bring joy and so many mental benefits to our kids. If kids can learn to enjoy reading they have a resource that they can use for life as well as a form of entertainment that will never run out. But all of the benefits start with the child having a book in their hands. You can help start the whole process, give a book on the 14th. J

Until Next Time,

        Lizzie <3