Showing posts from 2014

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel by Seth Grahame-Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tucked into this gem a few days ago and just, loved it. Yes, the language is as verbose and flowery as the novel it's based on. It takes certain liberties with the story in order to fit in the concept that the nearly every human left must be a warrior in some fashion (the men more the women, of course), and I kept having to think "that's outRAGEous.. no wait, think Klingon, would a warrior-race find that acceptable?" You might need to have liked the story to really understand everything, due to liberties taken. All in all, I loved the way it was adapted.

The art is wonderful! I really love the "uncolored sketch" style of the work. It has it's flaws here and there (the card players number and places switch at the table a few times, in order to change perspective and angle). I just loved it.

I definitely recommend it to anyone that happens to like bot…

Review: Pearl of Pandaria

Pearl of Pandaria by Micky Neilson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story reads like it's for younger readers, but there's quite a lot of hack n' slash that doesn't match the perceived age range. It was an ok way to pass the time, but not terribly good. The panel arrangement can be confusing, confounded further by speech bubbles that seem to be in the wrong place. In one panel, Li Li has an item, and the speech bubble is the male saying he has something for her, then a panel has him giving it to her (the thing, she already had..). On the very first page, in three consecutive panels the riding tortoise has one shell ring, then three, then two that might be tree, then two again. There are other smaller inconsistencies. A character starts with green eyes, then has yellow eyes later in the page. The notes in the back say that the Pandaren had green eyes until they were all recolored yellow, so they may have just missed those two green-eyed panels.

There is one tiny ra…

Review: The Wolf Gift: The Graphic Novel

The Wolf Gift: The Graphic Novel by Anne Rice

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked the had a manga feel too it. Very clean and angular. The story is a little interesting if not a little...hmm... how to put it without spoilers. It's not very complex for the first three-quarters of the story. The main character started out broody and thinking, but quickly became a bland ubermensch. The age of his love interests stuck me as a little odd.. not because cougar-cub relationships don't happen but because their age is paired with a vapid sense of the present, or lack of sense of the future, or even self-preservation! The more complex part oof the story seems shoved in at the last minute. I wish she would have written THAT as a story, it seemed far more interesting. Rewrite the whole thing from their point of view. Anyway, I didn't believe it. Take that comment for what it's worth. I read a lot of supernatural fiction, but am new to supernatural graphic…

Tourism: In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great

Hard work paying off, I had made time to visit the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and take the last tour of "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great". The collection, owned by Elke Brockway, hasn't been shown in ten years. She said this about the small exhibit at this Historic West Palm Beach home - turned - museum: “We came up with the idea of Alexander, the Macedonian, because I have always kept Greek and Roman, Persian and Gandharan, and Chinese artifacts. I have always tried to keep these collections separate in my house. So I thought I could set up the three rooms according to the artifacts that I am going to bring,” she explains.
Click to continue reading!

11/8 Volunteer: Twin Palms Center for the Disabled

There are days when you wake up early, knowing the day will be filled with scrubbing floors and washing windows, and you actually love it.

Review: Matched

Matched by Ally Condie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got sucked into this fast read two days ago. I plowed through 25% the first night and then read the rest tonight. I enjoyed every bit of the 1984esque world presented to me. I'm fairly used to the YA love triangle thing by now, so it barely phased me. There is a small bit in the end, regarding that, that I don't find particularly palatable or believable, but it seems a small thing compared to how well written the rest of it is. It simply makes the end geeks a bit prematurely precipitate, like I missed a bit of character development. Still, it wasn't enough to ruin the book. I'll read the other two. It's a trilogy, of course.

View all my reviews

Review: Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really try not to read romance novels, but the adult moments in this book were either nicely skippable or had plot points in them (no really)! And, they weren't so terribly awkward or overwritten as in so many books that sell their so-so stories with the sex itself.

Without being able to give too much away, I loved it. I read the audiobook version, and the orator did a good job of separating the characters and conveying emotions. The story itself started out so differently that I had to go back and read the cliffnotes for the first book to make sure I hadn't forgotten some huge plot point. Turns out, it was a plot device of THIS novel. I loved it. It was a great way to seamlessly connect the two novels.

I really don't know how much more to review without giving away plot points. Granted, the book is based on (some) actual historical events, but I'm not betting you've gone and researched those. I did l…

Review: Crewel

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I want to like this book, I do. I just don't. The universe and it's mechanisms are very creative and interesting. The government, a la 1984 with a strong stroke of female suppression, seems nicely complex. The characters, however, are cardboard cutouts resembling interesting people. No, that's not a story mechanic. The characters are written flatly and are boringly obvious in every way.

The lead female character has some sort of deathwish, or is intolerably stupid, running her mouth at the worst opportunities in order to piss off people more than willing to kill her. Yet, these actions are counter to her goals, and in direct opposition to the two gorgeous automatons vying for her attention, though it could get either of them likewise killed. The people close to her, that like her, adore her, and risk their own lives for her. The people that don't like her, hate her on the merest pretense. It's, tiresome.

If s…

Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The writing style is different, a bit clunky at times, and the characters a bit thin and predictable. Still, the book moves quickly and it's a fun fast read. I enjoy the foreshadowing provided in the MC's thoughts, even if it's more of a "this will obviously be important" than a subtle hint to remember later.
I'll read the next one.

View all my reviews

Review: The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this book! It's one of those books that I stole time for. What? Someone needs to go to the store? On it! Just let me grab my audiobook...

I kept being reminded of Dava Sobel's book "Longitude". The books are both history based and have a good bit of storytelling, good storytelling! It was very interesting to have, at the end, the author tell of the current state of the gravestones of both the madman and his victim. It was also very neat to hear (in this audiobook edition) an interview between the author/narrator Simon Winchester and the current editor of the OED!

It's hard to talk about this book without giving away spoilers in the fashion of interesting tidbits, because it is just so interesting. So, I'll leave you with that.

If you like this book, try Dava Sobel's Longitude, and vice versa.


Catching Up

May through August was unbelievably busy for me. I'll try to catch up. In that time I:
Graduated.Flew to Kansas to be with my family for a short, emotional time.Flew back to start a whirlwind internship I will never forget.Drove across country to Arizona to see friends and family.Drove BACK across country just in time to start my masters program.And I am catching up on schoolwork, while catching up on everything else.Dear family and friends, I thank you for your patience.
To hold you over (some more) here's Bill Nye, boxing for science!

2014Sep10 Snorkeling Biorock Artifical Reef

For my masters in Environmental Science I take a course called Environmental Restoration. Largely it's a paperwork course: we read copious articles about restoration and then discuss. But sometimes, we get to see actual restorations. On this occasion we went to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida site of the Lauderdale-by-the-Beach Biorock Artificial Reef project.

Review: Goodnight Darth Vader

Goodnight Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw this book on the library shelf and had to snag it. It's a great little bedtime story, with great art. I really like the scenes he chose for the characters. I laughed out loud at the Ewoks!

Apparently he's done a few more. I'll have to read them too.

View all my reviews

Review: Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege

Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege by Will Potter

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Honestly, I just couldn't bring myself to finish it. It seems like it's arguing against itself! "No deaths have been caused by so-called ecoterrorists"... "self proclaimed ecoterrorists sell high profile woman's worn underwear on eBay and promise her every bidder gets her home address"... I wanted to be on the side of the misunderstood environmental freedom fighter, but the book honestly makes me more apprehensive about signing up or joining any rallies or walks or talks. Seriously. I'm supposed to be all outraged because someone was arrested and threatened over leafletting, but then someone is lighting buildings on fire and planting bombs... Seriously?

Yikes guys. Yikes.

And it just gets repetitive and boring after a while. It's still on my Kindle (like I said, I was gung-ho to like it) so maybe I'll flip through i…

20140807 Casa Malpais - Springerville, AZ

The Casa Malpais is a Pueblo People's site built around 1250 A.D. and was inhabited until about 1440 A.D. (1). The site was designated a National Historic Landmark Site on July 19, 1964. I had an opportunity to visit in 2014, on a very short trip to Arizona.

Review: The Shadow Hero

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this volume as a Goodreads First Reads book!

I really enjoyed this! I had to make sure I didn't rush and read it all in one sitting, otherwise I'd miss nuances in the art! The story is very well thought out (and I didn't realize how it had to be written to fill in a predetermined set of requirements pertaining to the main character)! The art is really nice, with just the right about of soft or grungy lines depending on the scene. His mother is a NUT, but I am also saddened by her need to force her son into danger and make him into someone he initially does not want to be!

I liked reading the history in the back of the volume. The original comics are about what I would expect from Golden Age comics, but actually have a bit more realism that most of the Golden Age comics I've read. Maybe because it deals with a semi-real, semi-plausible situation (as opposed to criminals trying to st…

Review: The Silent Sister

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this book from as a First Reads novel. And I'm SO happy I did!

I read the last third (part three) in one go, and the only reason I didn't read the rest of it that way was because of real life time crunching. This book really was enthralling! The characters are well written and feel real. I didn't figure it out, which is a huge bonus.

I really liked the way the author bounces between two characters, but not until later in the book. Part 1 sets the scene and tone for the whole novel, and then Part 2 grabs you and refuses to let you go without finishing the book.

It has a bit of a soft ending, but a good ending. Not too predictable, as climaxes or wrap-ups go, and fit the story really well.

I'm so glad I got this book. I'd not heard of the author before and hope her other books are as good, because I need to pick a few up now!

(Must remember to cross-post review…

Review: Tarnish

Tarnish by J.D. Brink

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full Disclosure: I received this book as a First Reads novel!
I bought myself a digital copy anyway, just so I could keep reading it when not at home!

Do not be fooled by how long it took me to read this book: In the middle I graduated from college and lost a family member, so I had some longer-than-normal breaks in my reading schedule.

I loved this book. I was all prepared for some long-winded, drawn-out, fantasy rehash and was completely flattened by how clean and original the writing felt. It's told in the first person by a young man, and the kid could as well be my own brother. He's very easy to relate to, a very real person. The other characters are as well, in the general sense. There are, of course, some larger-than- life characters, but that's to be expected.

The storyline was exciting and kept you thinking. Multiple point-of-view threads kept the storytelling fresh and really helped in making the characters pe…

Review: High Tide On Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis

High Tide On Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis by John Englander

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though I was asked to read this as a required text, I found it interesting and well written. The author writes well and engages the reader. Though I already knew the "gist" of the material before reading I made many notes. I love the set of books recommended to me in its pages! Very good read. I recommend it to anyone curious about Sea Level Rise and Climate Change.

View all my reviews

2014 Great American Clean-Up

Last year for the Great American Clean-Up I did a beach clean-up. This year, I built a playground.
The city of Lake Worth got together with Highland Elementary and some other nice folks to put in a new playground behind a new fitness park! Americorps volunteers came out and we all found a huge pile of mulch and plastic barrier pieces next to a professionally constructed plastic and metal junglegym. We set up the plastic barrier and each took a turn sledgehammering in one of the stakes. It was fun to see everyone cheer each other on! Then came the hard work... the shoveling and hauling of mulch. For two and a half hours we shoveled and hauled. My partner was a young girl who worked harder than a lot of the adult volunteers. I never got her name, but she's basically my hero. :)

2004-2014 Goals

I found a "Goals" page from New Years 2004. As I write this, that day was ten years, four months, and 26 days ago. It's interesting to see how goals change over time. Or, in this case, how they don't.

My goals in life (circa Jan01-2004):
Get a Biology degree. Get a teaching degree (post-secondary). Learn to fire a handgun. Get back into shape. Running, hang, crunches. Spend some weekends with friends. Sleep a regular schedule. Smile.

In May 2014 I graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Biology Education: a teaching degree specializing in Biology. Check. 
In 2007 I did relearn how to fire a handgun.  Check.

20140417 FAU Earth Day with MGSA

Mission Green Student Association teamed up with FAU Housing, Parking and Transportation, and SEEDS to put on a great Earth Day celebration!
More after the jump!

Review: Mogworld

Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love it. I love everything about it. I love the characters, the story progression, the "what's really going on", the ending, the fact that the author read it, the nods and winks, even the total ripoff of a cover image that made me get it in the first place. Color it adored.

View all my reviews

College of Science Research Day 2014

Florida Atlantic University's College of Science Research Day is hosted by the College of Science Graduate Association. Staffed by the CSGA volunteers and a very dedicated staff member, the day highlights both the graduate and undergraduate research of FAU's science students!
There were 58 graduate posters and 13 undergraduate posters registered, in disciplines ranging from mathematics to environmental science. We had 11 first year graduate students presenting posters!
This was my second year as Volunteer Captain and the volunteer turnout was amazing! I had a great time working with all the volunteers, meeting the presenters, talking to judges, and even got interviewed about Graduate Research Day! It was our first year in the new venue, air conditioned and a little larger it allowed for a little more comfort. Still, with the popularity of Research Day, we might already be outgrowing the space!
My only regret is that I didn't get to read more of the posters this year. I wa…

Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy crow.
Though I'm starting to get used to the weird overtone of rape-for-all-the-women in the book, it did die down a bit and give itself back to the awesome battles and weird overarching theme. Enticingly written, intriguing characters, real character development. I really like it.

View all my reviews

Hobbit Walk: Completed 912 miles in Fellowship of the Ring!

This post requires no working knowledge of the Lord of the Rings series, but does make mention of names and places. Mainly, it's about walking. A lot.

I closed out the April PT log and found I had completed my 912 mile goal (running, waking, biking) to walk "Fellowship of the Ring". I started this journey 2013 July 21. It's the second "Hobbit walk" I've completed, having done "The Hobbit" in 2012-2013. At this point in the story, the Fellowship has broken,  Boromir is slain, Pippin and Merry are captured by orcs, and Aragorn, Legless Lego Legolas and Gimli return to Parth Gelen. (Note, I did not "rewalk" the trip from Hobbiton to Rivendell. It would have been too boring.
The 912 includes the 629 from Hobbit plus 61 miles unaccounted for by the people who originally compiled the miles for the Walks I'm basing my mileage on.) The trek is broken down into shorter goals, usually bookmarked by events in the book (443 miles in, reach …