The Nerd Journals

Filling up journals as proof of my meager existence.

Category: Book Reviews

The Easy Way To Mindfulness

2/5 stars

This is one of the few, maybe even the first, book I’ve read on mindfulness. I’ve been intrigued by the topic for quite a while but I’ve only done some light research on the Internet. When The Easy Way to Mindfulness became available on NetGalley I was very excited to give it a try, however, after finishing it I think I am more disappointed in this book despite it’s few nuggets of wisdom and exercises it offers. I feel this way because the book was mostly aimed at heavy addictions. Despite this, there was some information that I can still use and implement in my life.

More than anything this book felt like an advertisement for Allen Carr and The Easyway to Stop Smoking. While how to quit smoking mindfully sounds like it may help some people with the mental part of their addiction, there is still a physical aspect to their addiction (nicotine, sugar, booze) that needs to be overcome. I think that needs to be acknowledged more in the book.

Also, even though I don’t have an addiction I do consider Carr referring to addictions as “little crutches”. I found it offensive and I don’t even have a “little crutch”. Methinks Carr should rethink how he speaks to people.

The Last Policeman

4/5 stars

I have to start out by saying I am so happy that even though this book is a part of a trilogy, it doesn’t rely on me reading the next book to get closure of the story. I would feel perfectly comfortably stopping here if I decide to never read another book from The Last Policeman, but I enjoyed the story and the characters enough that I may return to the story again someday.

I love the concept of this story- the idea of a pre-apocalyptic murder mystery gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. This book combined the best elements from these types of books- humanity, fear, a collapse of society, not knowing whodunnit at the end and getting to read about the good guy as he finally puts the pieces together and springs into action. This book even fueled my fire of enjoyment of conspiracy stories.

But I’ve got to say I didn’t really like the main character, Hank Palace. In this first-person narrative, I found myself getting so frustrated with him and decisions. I feel like his heart was in the right place, desperately trying to solve a murder case, but the way he went about it was horrible and did some unredeemable damage to mostly innocent people. His character was well written, though, and that’s why I still enjoyed reading his story.

(I had rated this book three stars until I wrote the second paragraph and the tingles told me to give this book 4 stars instead of just 3.)

Reincarnation Blues

4/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey Books for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Reincarnation Blues was a pleasure to read. It’s about a man living the last of his 10,000 lives; trying to live a perfect life. This book allows you have a look at some of the lives that Milo lives in between romantic trysts with Death (Suzie).

Milo at the end of the world (before the meteor strikes Earth) is my favorite Milo, and I would love to read an entire book about him, his wife and his daughter. It was also fun to read about Suzie having somewhat of an existential crisis in regards to her job.

This book was a bit longer than it needed to be to get the point of the story and the philosophy across to the reader, but I liked it.

Artemis

4/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Admittedly, though, my review may be a little skewed because I went through a tumultuous time in my life while reading this novel- the first half, anyway. By the time I got to the second half my messy life had calmed down a bit and coincidentally I enjoyed the book much more than I had previously.

This book is fun and modern in its story- I love the sci-fi tech and the city on the moon. I love that the main character is a female Muslim who is sex-positive and is doing less than legal things that I would more likely picture a male character doing. Jazz Bashara is an awesome character and she’s strong and independent with morals and values when they matter. She’s also looking out for numero uno (herself!) first and foremost. I really like Jazz, she seems mostly good natured and the type of woman I could throw a few drinks back with.

To make a million slugs (slugs = moon money), Jazz makes a deal with a billionaire to do some destruction to help him make even more money by taking over a contract. It’s a lucrative proposition that Jazz can’t resist. This story is about her destruction and what comes next.

If you liked The Martian I definitely recommend Artemis as well. I just wish it didn’t take me so long to find interest in this book. Halfway is just too long to have to read before a book gets exciting. Once again, however, that might just be because of my own things happening.

As a side note, I love the cover of this book.

The Running Man

5/5 stars

I went in thinking this book would be like The Long Walk by Stephen King (which I also really enjoyed) but I was pleasantly surprised that the books don’t have much in common at all, so don’t start reading this book expecting The Long Walk.

The country is in economic despair with the poor not being able to afford food or medicine and are controlled by “FreeVee” the mandatory to own (but not mandatory to watch… yet) television that airs game shows 24/7 to entertain the masses and keep their attention away from what’s happening outside their own windows- pollution so bad that it’s causing young children to die of lung cancer.

To afford his daughter’s medicine, Ben Richards tries out to be on a game show on FreeVee to win cash. Richards is run through several tests and put into a game show called The Running Man where the objective is to run from the Hunters who are out to kill him. He earns $100 for every hour he survives and a bonus for every officer or Hunter he kills along the way. Meanwhile, viewers can earn money by capturing Richards on video or giving a tip that results in his capture. It’s not an easy game; it’s rigged and no one has ever survived thirty days resulting in the prize of one billion dollars.

The Running Man is a very good book, fast pace and I couldn’t put it down. If I didn’t have to sleep between readings, I would have read the entire book in one sitting.

Art on the Rocks

5/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Walter Foster Publishing for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

This book is a very detailed guide for rock painting. The author tells you the tools you need, where to find rocks and how to prepare them, and how to finish them with varnish. The author is also very informative with step by step directions on how to paint designs ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert. Using this book you will learn how to paint beautiful mandalas and other artwork on smooth rocks of any shape. Art on the Rocks is filled with gorgeous photography of inspiring artwork.

Landscape With Invisible Hand

3/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for sending me an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. I requested this book because I recently read Feed by MT Anderson and I enjoyed it so I thought I should give this book a chance, too. While I didn’t like Landscape with Invisible Hand as much as I did Feed, this book does have its moments.

This book started strong but got a little muddled along the way, as if it didn’t know what kind of book it wanted to be. It was sci-fi that toyed with a romance story that didn’t quite fit comfortably into the overarching storyline. A few things didn’t make sense. This book was also satirical touching on topics such as immigration, socio-economic divide, and it also made fun of the political logic that if poor people are so hungry, they should go get jobs instead of begging for food they didn’t work for.

I know what it’s like to be Adam for a lot of this book; the hardships of being poor and trying your hardest to bring money into your home to feed your family. A father who walks out on you and your family. Hoping for something that will come along and save you financially. I want to talk about the end a bit more since it was so charming for me, but I don’t want to include spoilers so I guess I’ll just stop here.

Overall, a decent book that I mostly enjoyed. I still might try reading more MT Anderson in the future.

The Blackout

1/5 stars

The only reason I am not giving this book 5 stars (it’s truly an amazing story) is because Jean M. Auel overly enjoys writing unnecessary sex scenes, especially when you consider that at least one of said scenes were about mammoths having sex, and our two travelers (Ayla and Jondalar) being intensely turned on by this. Wtf.

HOWEVER, if you skip past the sex scenes this book is beautifully written, incredibly descriptive and educational at points, and the heroine of the novel is absolutely stunning.

Mrs. Fletcher

3/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Despite not liking my first Perrotta book too particularly well (The Leftovers – 3/5 stars), I decided to give this one a try as well. I ended up liking Mrs. Fletcher as much as I liked The Leftovers, which is disappointing because I really like Tom Perrotta’s writing style. His stories, however, just aren’t doing it for me. If you have a suggestion for another Perrotta book for me to try out, please feel free to mention it to me.

This book is told from the point of view of Eve, a 40-something divorcee and a recent empty-nester rediscovering her sexuality. Eve wants a different life now that she’s alone, so we follow her as she tries to make a new life for herself by going for drinks and dinner alone, signing up for a college class (taught by an openly transgender woman named Margo Fairchild who was the only character I liked in this book) and meeting and hanging out with new people including a young man her son went to high school with named Julian Spitzer and a coworker of Eve’s named Amanda.

This book is also told from the point of Brendan, Eve’s son who is a freshman in college living in a dorm. When college doesn’t turn out to be the constant party with his roommate Zack that Brenden assumed it would be, he started doing worse in his classes. After a shitty experience with an autism advocate named Amber, Brenden decides to quit college and return home in the middle of the night with no notice to his mother.

The book follows Brenden and Eve for less than a year until their paths cross again in an overly lackluster way. I feel like the end of the book came a little too quickly and Eve changed so fast that it didn’t make sense to me. I was happy, however, that she and her son both found happiness even though I’m not sure exactly how it came to be.

This book feels a bit over-reaching to becoming all-inclusive with a transgender woman, people with different sexualities, people with severe depression, differently abled people (including Brenden’s young step-brother with autism and a young woman in a wheelchair), many races of college students and so on.

ALL THAT BEING SAID- I picked up this book because it looked like a light trashy read for summer and it was exactly what I wanted. I would have hoped that the characters were at least a little more likable and had redeemable storylines, but I digress. This book was a quick read and some points were incredibly amusing. I will try another Perrotta book in the future and maybe have better luck next time.

The End of the World Running Club

4/5 stars

I had never heard of this book or author before running across The End of The World Running Club’s description on NetGalley; when I did discover it I promptly requested to read it. Thank you to NetGalley for the book in exchange for an honest review and thank you also to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and to the author Adrian J Walker.

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic tales and this one hit the spot for me despite the simplicity and lack of insightfulness overall. This was a straightforward tale of a group of men and a woman who had to run across their nation to get to the boats that will rescue them from their shattered homes, left useless after asteroids spent days pulverizing the planet.

The protagonist is Edgar, a 35-year-old disconnected husband, and father who sleeps and eats his life away, and almost slept through the apocalypse but managed to, at the last second, throw his family and a few poorly chosen supplies to last the two weeks in a cellar below their home. They were rescued on the verge of death only to be separated from each other when bunking in a military compound while Edgar, doing his best, was out on a supply run with other men from the compound.

Ed’s journey to find his family is filled with action and adventure as the group meets other survivors along the way. The ending of the story is not at all what I expected and (I feel) is open to interpretation. I don’t normally like that type of ending but I feel it worked well for The End of The World Running Club.

After reading this book by Adrian J Walker I do look forward to reading more work by him in the future.

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