Book Review: The Testaments

I feel more than the average amount of self-imposed pressure to capture this novel in enough detail to entice you to give it a read. This book is probably one of the most anticipated sequels in recent years. In 1985, I was a high school sophomore, and this book wasn’t yet assigned reading in our English class, but I remember checking it out from the library as I was a fresh entrant into the adult side of our small town library branch.
I bought my copy of The Testaments, last Tuesday, on release day and had it sent straight to my Kindle. I started it in spurts until Friday morning, then I read for my two-hour flight and then again on my flight home Sunday night. Since then, I caught up with homeschooling, my real job, and have not been able to get the new images of Gilead out of my thoughts. I try not to read any other reviews until after I’ve written mine, but I did happen a couple of snippets where readers complain this book isn’t needed, that Ms. Atwood should have left well enough alone.
I disagree. As a storyteller, sometimes the characters you write aren’t done telling their story. She certainly has had enough time to consider this book and decided that a part two/conclusion was needed. I’m sure that the Hulu TV adaptation prodded her along. I know that if it were my story, I would want to get the ending out there. If the producers ignore it, so be it, but she knows she tried.
Anyhow, should you read this story? Me: Shrugs I say yes. I gave it all the stars on Goodreads. I loved the original book, I love the TV adaptation, I’ve watched a ton of interviews with Ms. Atwood, and I like her too. These books are not straight science fiction or dystopian. She takes facts of our society and then bumps it up a notch. It’s all plausible which makes it so much of a page-turner.
The Testaments are told in a rotating narrative by chapter. Aunt Lydia tells her story, you get a good sense of how Gilead has changed since that van door closed on Offred and you even get more than a bit on Baby Nichole who by now is almost grown. You see life in Canada and Gilead in the I’m guessing 15 or 16 years that have elapsed.
I feel like fans get the full closure this time and at eighty years old Ms. Atwood still knows how teenage girls fell and act. I see that it is shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, so I’m not the only one who enjoyed it.

Book Review: Every Tool’s a Hammer

I went into this one thinking it was an autobiography. Adam shares some stories, but it is more of a makers manifesto. I’m sort of a creative book junkie. I choose books about creative pursuits and the artist’s methods because I am always looking for guidance in those areas in my own writing.

My biggest takeaway from this book is how many people are “makers” even though they would never self identify that way. Maybe you work in software development- you are a maker- you make software. Adam tells us how he plans his projects, the sketches and checklists. He has the option of calling up famous dudes and asking advice, but we regular folks can use the internet in that same way.

If you’ve watched Adam on Mythbusters you can hear his voice through his words and his optimism that you the reader can make things shines through the pages. He really gives you that kick in the pants (permission?) to tackle that creative thing that you keep putting off because you aren’t sure how or if you should try.

Originally, I borrowed this from the library but am buying a copy for our home so that I can pass it around and model our own maker space after reading how Adam sets his up.

Book Review: William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future!

“The pow’r of love, O ’tis a curious thing:
It changeth hawks into a gentle dove,
It maketh one man weep, another sing,
More than a feeling: ’tis the pow’r of love.

‘Tis tougher e’en than diamonds, rich like cream,
It makes a bad one good, a wrong one right,
‘Tis stronger, harder than a wench’s dream,
The pow’r of love shall keep the home at night.

When first thou feelest it, may make thee sad,
When next thou feelest it, may be profound,
Yet when thou learnest this, thou shalt be glad:
It is this power makes the world go ’round.

‘Tis strong and sudden, sent by heav’n above,
It may just save thy life, this pow’r of love.”

– Ian Doescher paraphrasing Huey Lewis

Do you want to laugh through an entire book? If so, get your hands on this gem. So, so funny. I don’t know how I missed the other books in this series, (notably all of The Star Wars films!) but they are all on TBR list now.

I’m actually going to listen to this with my teen son and then watch the movie as he’ll begin reading Shakespeare in school this year and I think these books are the perfect most fun way to get comfortable with the language of Shakespeare.

Even if you aren’t a student anymore, most of the lines translated into Shakesperian dialect will delight you and could easily become your new go- to phrases.

I especially enjoyed the inner thought process of Einstein the dog which we weren’t privy to in the movies. All in all, it’s a book you might not run into on your own. My thanks to Quirk Books for sending me this book to read.

Book Review- H.H. Holmes: The True History Of The White City Devil

Whew. At 10% in my Kindle said I had 7 and a half hours left of reading- and I’m a fast reader. It was just about correct. This is a long book. I liked it, but it took me forever to get through.

That said, here’s the thing, you won’t find better or more accurate research about H.H. Holmes anywhere else. That guy you read about in The Devil in the White City? He is the sensationilized completely “extra” version of the real H. H. Holmes. Now, he is still terrible, and terrifyingly evil for sure, but he was also a showman who loved to take credit for any crimes that he could plausibly take credit for commiting.

He for sure killed more than seven people (by my count), mostly because they got in his way. I think I would be exhausted all the time if I were trying to keep track of so many different personas and scam scenarios, and then if other people got in the way… You’d have to resolve that. At least that is how Holmes lived his life. He was the embodiment of evil.

I enjoyed reading about Chicago, and all the places that are still there. Obviously, the entire subject matter is grim, there is no way around it. The research is just astoundingly good, there are so many original sources quoted and real letters that people wrote either to or from the victims.

Overall, if you like either true crime books or just like reading about Chicago history, you’ll love this.

ARC REVIEW: The Escape Manual For Introverts

The idea that introverts may need this guide was inspired. I can say I’m an introvert all day long, but extroverts reading this may finally get an idea of what that actually means for me in real life.

The strategies are divided into five situational categories: Friends, relatives, coworkers, acquaintances, and strangers.

The book even includes a handy dandy Plausibility of Excuse Absurdity graph for reference.

Side note from me even extroverted spoonies will benefit from some of the strategies presented inside. Sometimes you just need to get away from a crowd of people even if you actually like them. Read more about The Spoon Theory here.

I’ve got no criticisms at all related to this book and you should check it out August 6 when it drops onto Kindles everywhere.

Book Review: The Warehouse

Happy Book Birthday!!

I stayed up until after midnight to finish it, then woke up, reached for my Kindle and reread the last chapter. I feel like I could really reread the whole book at some point just to look for hidden clues that I probably missed the first read through. So, if you are a library user get yourself on that hold list pronto.

Caveat: I love a good Dystopian World. I loved this story because it is so close to what our future could become if we aren’t careful.

The story begins with a blog post by a man named Gibson Wells. He owns Cloud and at first, seems like a good guy. After you meet Zinnia and Paxton and hear things from their POV, you may change your mind about him.

Zinnia is a corporate spy hired by an anonymous rich guy to take down Cloud from the inside. Paxton is a former prison guard/inventor who used to market his invention as a vendor on Cloud but eventually got put out of business by them. Since he didn’t want to go back to the prison work, he decided to work at Cloud until his patent came through and he could sell it to Cloud.

As we learn more and more about the state of the world it becomes clear that this is basically a “company town” like in the old west or steel mill days. You don’t get paid money, you get credits. You live at Cloud, buy all your food from them, wear a trackable wristband, and even purchase the water you shower with from them. In exchange you get a star rating, five is great, and one equals immediate dismissal.

Cloud is for sure code for Amazon, which gives me mixed feelings as I affiliate link over there every day. 🤷 When I figure out a way to link to independent bookstores easily, I will.

If you like The Black Mirror, The Circle, or have read The Wool Series of books (which is free on Kindle Unlimited now!) this is that same vibe. Also, it is going to be a movie.

Book Review: The Kingdom

This book is so weirdly wonderful. Sign me up for more robot fiction please. I haven’t watched Westworld, but I bet it is kinda like this.

The Kingdom (pseudo-Disney World) is a magical theme park where you’ll see things that aren’t “alive” anywhere else. Ana is a princess, they call her a Fantasist, and she spends her days taking selfies with little girls and looking beautiful as a hybrid human should. She and her sisters don’t need sleep, but they do power down for maintenance and rebooting each night.

Ana meets and falls in love with Owen, a human employee of the park. The book switches between the past and the present. The past is the time that led up to her trial, where she is accused of killing Owen, and the present being mostly court transcripts. She isn’t an evil android, she’s a teen “in love” android.

I could not stop reading, I’m so into this sinister fantasy theme park. In a way, Ana and her sisters reminded me of the robot women in the Stepford Wives. After all, Ana is half human.

I don’t know if there will be a sequel of if it is a stand alone, but it was worth the read.