Friday, December 31, 2010

December Book Reviews: A Long Way Gone, The Brief History of the Dead, In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks, and Packing for Mars

My Rating System: *OK, **Good, ***Great

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah
Rating: ***

A Long Way Gone is a book about a boy living in Sierra Leone, who ends up being forced into becoming a soldier after the RUF invasion.

I listened to this book on CD which was read by the author. I'm not even sure what to say about this book. I don't know how a person could endure all the things these people go through. First, you're living happily with your family, then you're running for your lives, then you're forced to become one of these evil people, and finally you're subjected to rehab in order to become a regular part of society again? Beah's experiences made me sick to my stomach and brought me to tears on several occasions. It is so scary to me that people can become such monsters. That there are people out there that really delight in making their fellow human beings miserable. In making them suffer. What a cruel tragedy.

Despite all the horrible things Beah did as a soldier, I am amazed at what he's done to turn his life around. What a great example and source of hope to those who came from similar circumstances. If all you've ever heard about the genocide and turmoil going on in these countries was from the t.v., I suggest you read this book. It's a huge eye opener.

by Kevin Brockmeier
Rating: **

This book was a suggested read from my good buddy, Paul. I mentioned that I'd never read a sci-fi book before and he suggested this one. It looked very intriguing so I gave it a shot.

The Brief History of the Dead is a book about a woman who goes on a research trip to Antarctica for the Coca-Cola company, during which time a pandemic hits Earth. It follows her trip in conjunction with another world where all people go when they die. It is a world very similar to Earth and the dead people stay there until no one is left on Earth that remembers them.

I thought this was a very interesting concept for a book and it was able to keep my attention. The story flip-flopped between the Antarctica trip and the dead-people world and slowly unfolded details that evenly brought both stories together, without making the plot too confusing. Usually when I think of sci-fi my mind fills with images of space aliens or dinosaur invasions. This book was a pleasant surprise and gave me a different view of what is included in the sci-fi genre.

by Adam Carolla
Rating: **+

In case you're unaware, Seth is totally gay for Adam Carolla. You could say he's his man-crush. Seth listens to Carolla's podcast every day and I'm constantly hearing what Adam thinks about this or that or Adam said so and so. I think it's kind of cute. So of course when Seth heard this book was coming out, he PRE-ORDERED it. Now Seth reads a lot, but I've never seen him pre-order anything.

Of course Seth read this as soon as he got it. I'd hear him chuckling almost non-stop while he read. So, because Adam Carolla is Seth's man-crush, and because the cover of the book was so awesome, and because of all the laughter I heard while Seth read, I too read this book.

The book is basically a compilation of Adam's views on everything. And I mean everything. Have you ever wondered if he had a stance on toasters or wallet colors? Well he does! Quite frankly I was in awe at all of his seemingly very passionate opinions on all these things. He even has an opinion on how to press the buttons on my microwave so's I don't waste precious time.

This book was a very enjoyable, entertaining read. I too laughed at Adam's many hilarious one-liners. And I'll never get sick of looking at that cover. As a caution, he swears a lot. He gets pretty controversial and doesn't care if he's politically correct. I thought this was funny. You may not. Read at your own risk!

by Mary Roach
Rating: ***

I wasn't sure exactly what this book was about when I picked up the audiobook from the library, but I'd read "Stiff" by Mary Roach and really enjoyed it, so I thought this one had good potential. As usual, I was right!

Packing for Mars is mainly about the NASA space program and all the different things they do to train astronauts and the tests they do in preparation for space missions. Now, that may not sound all that exciting, especially if you're not really into space stuff (like me), but this book was surprisingly really interesting. There are so many things they have to test that you'd never even think about.

This book spans everything from testing g-forces, space potties, and food development. Roach has a great talent for delivering technical and scientific information in an understandable yet, entertaining way without patronizing her readers. As much as I liked "Stiff" (her book about human cadaver uses & history), I liked this one even more. In fact I'm listening to it right now for a second time because Seth wanted to listen to it to. I finally understand what gravity is, how satellites stay in orbit, and how involved space travel really is. This was one of the few audiobooks I've listened to that I was sad when it ended.

If you've ever wanted to learn more about the space program or if you don't, read this book.  One of my top picks from this year.


Collette Smith said...

Still laughing over "Seth is totally gay for Adam Carolla."