A Review of The Simpson’s Family History by Matt Groening

I am a huge Simpsons freak. This book came out last year some time and I had been eyeballing it at Barnes and Noble every since. But it was $35 and I just couldn’t justify spending that much at the time. Low and behold, I went browsing in the Barnes and Noble bargain section a few days ago and what should happen to be sitting their glowing as if calling me to buy it? You guessed it! It was now only $9.99 and I had to get it.

This is a visual history of 25 years of The Simpsons. With some explanatory text and the occasional bit of trivia, it is mostly screenshots pulled from the show. What I like about it, is that they’ve put it together in chronological order using the flashbacks from the series and current plots. It starts from Grandpa Abe simpson as a child moving to America and goes through how Homer and Marge meet, their early life together, how Homer got on at the Nuclear Power Plant, all the way to the birth of Maggie.

This is a must have for any true Simpsons fan. Going through the history and seeing the screen shots had me reliving some of my favorite episodes. It made me want to go back and start watching the series all over again. Good thing I have every season that is currently on DVD. I give this book an easy 5 out of 5. It isn’t any kind of profound reading but it will scratch that Simpsons itch in a very satisfactory way.

A Review of Disgusting History: The Smelliest, Dirtiest Eras of the Past 10,000 Years by Kathy Allen

The title pretty much says it all about this book. I picked this one up off the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble because the cover is vibrant and I’m into gross and strange history. This book covers ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the age of the Vikings, Colonial America, the American Frontier, and the Civil War. You’ll find everything from toilet humor facts, to hygiene, disease, and death. There’s something for everyone.

I loved this book. It is a fairly quick read. Each page has minimal text. It has lots of pictures and little blurbs and facts on almost every page. It’s broken up into sections based on era and the beginning of every chapter gives you a mini timeline of what is being covered. I happen to enjoy the potty humor/trivia quite a bit.

My only criticism is that it is too short. I think the target audience may be younger people. Possibly late middle school or early high school. There’s no foul language or sexual content.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5. I thoroughly enjoy fascinating facts about the things most historians don’t cover because of the gross or graphic nature of them. The fact is, this is all part of history. I would recommend this book to any fan of the history and bizarre facts.

A Review of Rise of a Legend by Amy Jarecki

Eva MacKay is an archeological journalist fascinated by the legend of William Wallace. After he husband is brutally murdered she takes a job on a historical dig at the battleground of Loudoun Hill. One early morning, her professor gives her a necklace without telling her much about it. She falls asleep at Fail Monastery only to wake up amidst a historical battle in 1297 Scotland. Right as she thinks she’s going to die, she is rescued by a man of great size. After introductions, she realizes her savior is none other than William Wallace himself. Their chemistry is instant and so begins a tumultuous relationship during some of Scotland’s greatest massacres and battles.

This book caught my attention from the very first pages. Eva has known a lot of tragedy in her 27 years and you begin to feel for her right away. There is a lot of history in these pages the author went to great lengths researching the history of William Wallace that we know, while still injecting her own twist to what happens. This era in Scotland’s histories has quite a few holes so the author used multiple sources to weave her tale. William was a battle hardened man with a chip on his shoulder about the English monarchy. Jarecki gave a nice contrast between a man bent on taking back Scotland for his people and a  softer man falling in love with a woman he doesn’t completely understand.

My one criticism is the numerous sex scenes. I, personally, don’t enjoy reading about extremely graphic sex. I would have enjoyed something a little more subtle to characterize their budding romance instead of gratuitous sex. The relationship between Eva and William starts out very carnal and this is shown throughout the book. I did, however, greatly enjoy the slow transition between lovers blowing off the steam of tragedy and the deeper love their grew to have for one another.

I give this book a 5 out of 5. Despite the graphic sexual content, the history and character development was amazing. I love time travel of any kind and historical romance is one of my favorite sub genres of this. There’s something so intriguing about someone from our own time finding themselves in way earlier time periods and falling in love with icons I’ve only read about in history books. To be front and center to histories battles would be incredible. I recommend this book to fans of historical romances. Definitely keep in mind that there is a lot of sex and very graphic depictions of death and battle of the period.

A Review of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I read this book because it was chosen to be read in the book club I run on facebook. This is a book I have been wanting to read for awhile anyway because I really enjoyed the Studio Ghibli movie they made from it. While the two differed quite a bit I enjoyed both.

Howl is a wizard known as the eater of young women’s souls. He is much feared in the lands his floating castle moves through. Sophie is a y0ung woman at the cusp of adulthood living a boring life in a hat shop, though she seemed to be very good at what she did. Then a woman came in and put a spell on her that ages her 60 years until she’s a very old woman. At that point she decides since she doesn’t have much time left she better go out to seek her fortune. When she comes to Wizard Howl’s castle she decides to go in and try to get a job with him since it is only young woman’s souls he’s after.

This book caught my attention from the very beginning and there was never a dull point. There was a lot going on and though it is pure fantasy there are many elements of mystery that you begin to see unfold throughout the story. I was not expecting the way the book ended at all. I had my guesses but I was caught completely off guard and the last 2 chapters in the book sunk it’s claws into my heart and I was captivated.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 and would give it even more if that was possible. I loved this book and easily put it in my top 10 books of all time. It is a quick and fun read and something I would consider rereading in the future, something I normally don’t do. I recommend this book to everyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre both young and all. There are no adult themes so this is something that would even make a great bed time story for children old enough for chapter books.

A Review of Hoffman’s Creeper and other Disturbing Tales by Cameron Trost

Cameron Trost is an upcoming Australian author cutting his teeth in the horror genre. I picked this one up on recommendation from my fellow reviewer, Sharon Clarke. This anthology of horror is not your typical horror. These are accounts of the scariest monster of all, man and what he’s fully capable of. You will find everything from revenge to pure murder and tragedy.

What I liked about this book is how much the stories within reminded me of some of my favorite episodes of Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt. He has some tales with a kind of moral of the story ending, while some are just ironic. One of my favorite stories in the book “The Stench”. This one is about a man with a really jerky neighbor and how he is finally dealt with. I don’t want to give anything away but it has a great ending. The very first story in the anthology is called “Not to be Read” and reminds me a lot of the writing of Edgar Allen Poe. Another great thing about Trost’s work is that in every single story I was sure I had predicted the outcome and every single time I was surprised and wrong. I love that.

The only thing I really didn’t like about his stories are the fact that they are almost all cut off abruptly without any kind of resolution. In a way this is good because it leaves what happens next up to your imagination. So, it’s not really a bad thing as much as it is a preference in writing style. I like to find out what happens next.

I give this one a 5 out of 5. Cameron Trost is a great writer that I would put up there with Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft. I think that the scariest parts of his books are the things you don’t see or know as your imagination can send you to some dark and scary places. His stories are definitely the old fashioned kind to leave you peeking over your shoulder and retelling to your friends in the dark. I highly recommend this book to fans of the horror genre.

A Review of Hatred Day by TS Pettibone

This book starts out in the viewpoint of Desya while trying to rescue his sister but changes almost as soon as he rescues her to her point of view. In the distant future, a race of beings called the Inborns, leave their world through a portal to inhabit Earth. The people of earth do not like this and destroy the portal killing thousands of inborns and separating thousands more from their families. Since that time, the people of earth have celebrated Hatred Day, the day they forced out the Inborns. But the Inborns are still living amongst them in hiding because they look just like earthlings. Many have mated with earth beings and produced halfbreed children. But the government is tired of them living with them and has shut Hollowstone off from the rest of the world and is intending to do DNA testing and only allowing pure earthlings to leave the dome. Snofrid and her family must find a way out before they are eradicated with the rest of the city.

I liked the science fiction aspect of this book, especially the technology. The characters had well developed back stories and there was a lot of action. The governmental aspect was very true to life and the race story arc was reminiscent of Nazi Germany and all the Jewish people and those that supported them had to deal with.

Though I liked the book, the plot took way too long to unfold. The character back stories were given in the smallest pieces and left me mostly unsatisfied. This was obviously meant to be a series, so much was left unsolved or not even touched on at all, even though mentioned in the book and as a reader I find that to be infuriating. I don’t mind cliffhangers but to leave out large points was annoying.

I gave this one a 3 out of 5. It has potential to be great but it is a really long book with too much left out. If the author was going to include as much as she did then I expect her to not leave so much for the next book. There was also a secondary love story between a couple of the characters that I actually really enjoyed but there was no resolution to that at all. If you like sci fi and slow burn novels that turn into series than you would enjoy this.

A Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

It has now been 22 years since the battle of Hogwarts and Voldemort’s ultimate defeat. Harry and Ginny are married with three children: James, Albus, and Lily. Ron and Hermione are married with two children of their own. This account revolves around Albus, the misfit of the family. He is so afraid he will be sorted into Slytherin and in his first year his worst fears are confirmed. These seem to be Harry’s worst fears too. An unexpected friendship with Scorpius Malfoy makes the relationship between Harry and Albus drift even further apart. After overhearing Amos beg Harry for what he believes to be the last remaining time turner in existence, Albus gets it in his head that by saving Cedric Diggory he can right all his father’s wrongs.

I really liked this installment in the Harry Potter saga. The screenplay format made it a quick and easy read. There was a lot of emotion and feeling. The middle part of the story was phenomenal. Without giving too much away, I loved seeing the alternate versions of the wizarding world. The reappearance of so many beloved characters was a real treat.

The one thing I didn’t like is that I felt like some of the characters weren’t true to their nature’s from the previous books in the series. Snape and Draco in particular. Though I did enjoy the direction they went with Draco and hearing his entire story made me understand more. Also, McGonagall was much more lax as headmistress when as a teacher she was extremely strict and a stickler for rules.

I would give this one a4 out of 5. I liked it. It had some really great parts while others fell flat. The resolution to the main plot was good but I thought the resolution to character relationships I thought was lacking. I would’ve liked to see a bit more development there. It is definitely worth reading for fans of the series!