“You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)” by Felicia Day

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

(Author: Felicia Day) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I think my level of nerdiness is easily shown by the fact that I have no idea when I started being aware of Felicia Day. It has been that long. I knew of her before Supernatural and on the other hand, I’d never heard of her series, The Guild, so my best guess is that I’ve seen her in so many shows that she just started… being there – somewhere in some corner of my brain.

That being said, I’ve never paid enough attention to become a fan. But now that I’ve read this book, I can boldly say the following thing: Felicia Day, in case you are reading, you are awesome!

I’m not a fan of memoirs, not really my thing, but I had so much fun reading this book. What’s great about is that Felicia is so very honest about all of her fears, insecurities and weak sides. She just puts it out there in the open, in a hilarious fashion at that. Probably the best touch in the book are her personal photos which both relate to the story and are just crazy and funny.

I really liked how she gets into some very serious topics but approaches them in a way which could help the reader to not feel bad about themselves if they have the same issue. She goes from family drama to teenage loneliness to game addiction to severe depression. Most of us have experienced all of those at one point in our lives and the way these problems are presented in the book says: Don’t hate your self, you are normal, you are human. I loved that. I really hope You’re Never Weird on the Internet reaches many young people and helps them accept their weaknesses, their fears, their awkwardness and at the same time helps them build this will to fight and be their best selves and never take “No” for an answer. Actually, I hope this message reaches many people of all ages…

“In Search of the Paranormal” by Richard Estep

In Search of the Paranormal: The Hammer House Murder, Ghosts of the Clink, and Other Disturbing Investigations

(Author: Richard Estep) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

In my defence, I want to say that I don’t choose books hoping they would horrible so I can give them a bad review. I would much rather read one fantastic book after the other, so much that I’d run out of superlatives. But life is not perfect, and here I am after finishing In Search of the Paranormal.

I admit, I’ve had a period around the time before I hit puberty until long after, that I was very much into supernatural stories. That’s painfully obvious by the books I’ve purchased before I grew up enough to start appreciate more quality literature. I still have an interest in the creepy and I enjoy a good scary movie and what’s less often seen, a good scary book. Sadly, this is not one of those. For starters, it’s not scary.

Let me run through the good things first: although not scary, some of the events were interesting, I’m being honest here. Also, the author provides the names of real and existing locations which would be interesting to visit, even if you are a sceptic. He also provides links to sites where an interested reader can continue his or her investigation and even hear some of the things, recorded by Estep and his crew.

From there, it’s all downhill. Or, I guess I can’t really say it’s downhill, since I had so much fun, but I don’t suppose the author intended for his readers to laugh out loud on his spooky moments, so that’s a serious minus.

In chronological order, the things that amused me the most:

“He is also an accomplished writer, with several respected books on the subject of ghosts and haunting to his name.”

Really though! I know that Estep is probably taking himself seriously, but you cannot put “respected books” and “ghosts” in the same sentence. That would mean that the existence of the latter is proved without doubt. Which is not true. At all.

AND MY FAVOURITE, WHICH EARNED THIS BOOK AN ENTIRE STAR:

“Human excrement was smeared across several of them. Flowers were uprooted and scattered around the cemetery. Obscene graffiti defaced the back of many grave markers. Was this vandalism the work of unruly local kids, or something more sinister?”

HAhAHAHAHahAhAhAhHaHHah PLEASE IMAGINE IT. PLEASE. IMAGINE THIS GHOST OR DEMON(I’M IMAGINING THE DEMON), WITH A HANDFUL OF HUMAN SHIT AND A CAN OF SPRAY PAINT VANDALISING A CEMETERY. I BURST WITH LAUGHTER EVERY SINGLE TIME. HAHAHAHAHAH

tumblr_m92cftnpph1qlfdaz

… 3 minutes later I’m back to writing. I apologize for the caps lock,

but honestly.

And the author just doesn’t stop, does he?

“More human waste was smeared across the walls and flagstones. It appeared relatively fresh, no more than a day or two old.”

I don’t even want to know how does Mr Estep know how to judge if the “human waste” is fresh or not. I mean… where do you learn such a thing, how??? What in the name… ?

Also to mention the use, bordering with abuse, of the word tranquil. F*** calm, I’m a hipster, I’m tranquil.

“The Complete Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi

The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis, #1-4)

(Author: Marjane Satrapi) + (Year: 2007) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I read Persepolis for various reasons, the two main ones: I’m in love with Iranian culture and I really wanted to read about Iran’s present state, and also because I need to read a comic book for the 2015 Reading Challenge.

The beginning was really promising, I liked young Marjane very much and mainly I enjoyed the fact that the revolution was described in detail but not too complex, since I’ve never been too interested in politics and very complicated descriptions of political actions really bore me. I’d already seen a movie or two and read a brief description of the events around the Islamic revolution, and Persepolis was quite helpful, because it’s not just political propaganda but also shows the opinion of the normal people and how things looked right around the revolution.

Even when there is opposition to certain political changes, it’s really hard to see the real thoughts of people and then sometimes they are simply brainwashed by the government and never even realize that something is wrong – they turn into exactly what the oppressive government needs. I was in a seemingly democratic, but actually communist country recently and before I went there, I’d only heard murmur about what’s really wrong. But having arrived in that country, I loved many things, but I was also struck by the way young people who don’t know any better, go on and on and on about how great their leader is and how he created the country(which is actually very old), how he almost brought the monkeys down from the trees and made humans from them.

On the topic of Persepolis there was no such problem. Marjane’s simplistic and somewhat childish description of events is very clear and rid of prejudice, it seems like a very honest opinion or even an objective description somewhat lacking too much personal opinion.

The best thing about Persepolis was the humor, especially at the beginning since there is not much of it later on. Young Marjane’s point of view is really fun to read, as is her understanding of the world. I laughed out loud many times and I really appreciated her subtle irony.

However, aside from the account of events, I didn’t much appreciate this graphic novel. Marjane’s time in Austria left me really annoyed with her, not only she’s making so many wrong decisions about herself but she is completely uncaring about the events in Iran. I don’t see how I’d be able to go to a foreign country and become a pot-smoking punk instead of going crazy about the fact that my family is in a country torn by war and insanity. Her brutal honesty was refreshing but her overall behavior was really disappointing. I can’t imagine what state of mind should one have in order to take and take money from a family in a country such as Iran, and waste it on buying drugs.

And if I thought that she would change after puberty, I was wrong. When Marjane returns to Iran things are not better. She is still untouched by the injustices as long as they are not directly connected to her. I was extremely angry at the episode when she gets a man arrested so that nobody gets mad at her for having lipstick. It’s disgraceful and very shameful, considering how hard a punishment can that man get in a dictatorship such as the one in Iran. All of the character’s actions are very controversial and frustrating.

The ending was also somewhat of a let-down, because it seems a bit abrupt and unfinished. She gets on a plane and…? What happened to her afterwards, and more importantly – what happened to her family? What is her stand about the present state of Iran and everything that is going on there? She gets her stuff and goes on a trip and it’s really every man for himself.

“The Amazing Journey” by Grady Hicks

The Amazing Journey: True Story of a Father and Son's Odyssey Around the World

(Author: Grady Hicks) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

THIS BOOK IS A STRONG RECOMMEND.

It truly is an amazing journey.

I received The Amazing Journey through NetGalley for an honest review and once again, visiting the GoodReads page, I’m shocked that I’m one of the few who have expressed interest. I should state that I’m not even a big fan of memoirs, neither do I often read non-fiction books.

But I do love travel, listening about travel, watching pictures and so on. I honestly don’t think that there is something as amazing to do as to see the world. In my opinion not even reading is as marvelous, simply because when one is reading as book, they are imagining themselves having the same adventures. Traveling – that’s living the adventure.

Grady Hicks and his son Austin plan a trip before Austin goes to college – they start from their home in Texas, then travel to Hawaii, after that they have a short stop in South Korea, then China, Tibet, Nepal, India, England, France and home again. FAN-TAS-TIC!

Honestly, if I were offered the opportunity to do this trip, I’d be on the plane as fast as you can say “plane”.

The most amazing thing about this book is that it’s sort of like a guidebook, but also filled with many personal views of the places the Hicks visit, recommendations and must-see’s. If I were to find myself in any of the places they visited that I haven’t been to, I’d definitely reference the book about places and restaurants, as Grady and Austin seem to always have a very good luck with the places where they can grab a bite.

This is not a book about struggle, although there is some, nor is it about saving the world, one African country at a time.

This is a book about exploring, about embracing the world and the variety of people and cultures there are out there. It’s a great trip through many different nations with different political and belief systems.

! Caution ! It can make you want to pack your bags, sell your house and go to Nepal or something. 

One of the things that made a great impression on me in The Amazing Journey, was actually Austin Hick’s behaviour. At first, I’d have to be honest and say that he was super annoying. I’m probably the same age as he is, and yet I’m not a brain-dead texting machine. I do text, but not for a moment would I think about spending half my trips in Hawaii and China texting. I was really hoping that he’d go through some sort of a catharsis and that he did, or at least I hope so. The scene with the pencil was quite endearing. I can’t be sure that his dad didn’t idealize him a bit, including his thoughts at the end of the book, but I’d be kind of proud of him if he managed to change his views a bit. It really bothers me that there are so many people in my generation and younger who have ABSOLUTELY no idea what’s going on in the world. People who just have it all and are not even giving any value to the things they have.

“Postcards from the Middle East” by Chris Naylor

Postcards from the Middle East: How Our Family Fell in Love with the Arab World

(Author: Chris Naylor) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

The most important thing: do not be swayed by the lack of two stars in the rating, it’s a good book! I’m going to point out the negative sides first, and fast, and then I’m going to go to the many great parts, so please read on! (I’m actually going to do this review totally backwards – I usually start with the very best and end with the things that I disliked, this time around, I’m beginning with the minuses of the book and the last part is going to be what I truly loved about it.)

What happened to the two stars, which would have made my five star rating complete: there was a bit too much religion for my taste, which knocked off a star and a half. I am highly opposed to books which preach, and after about 40% of Postcards from the Middle East, it got too preachy for my taste. Recently I declined to review a book for those same reasons. I’m Christian and I have absolutely nothing against anyone having whatever religion they choose. But when it gets all let’s-quote-the-Bible, I’m out. It’s my right to decide how to look upon the world.

Another half star as removed because there was just too much birdwatching. Too much. Since I don’t think that birdwatching is in any way restricted to the Middle East, I don’t think it needs so much attention in a book with the title Postcards from the Middle East: How our family fell in love with the Arab world. I understand that it played a big role in Mr Naylor’s life, but when you choose your title, you are more or less restricted to a narrative which is tightly related to the title. About 100 Kindle pages of birdwatching is not a sign of restriction.

I didn’t remove any stars for this… Maybe I should have?! But I don’t feel I should. This is much more about the nature of the author than it is about the book. And since I’m not here to review his moral standards, but his book, I’ll just say it and not let it affect my rating. I was disturbed by the fact that the events of 9/11 are put in a chapter called something along the lines of “When the World Changed” or something, and are shown as close to catastrophic to humanity, yet when people from any other country are killed in the book, it’s sort of a statistic. I’m not denying that 9/11 was a tragedy and that so many innocent lives were lost. I, however, don’t think that American lives, or those of the people in the Western world, are more valuable than the lives of the people dying in the Middle East every day by the hundreds. When Kuwait is overtaken by Iraq in the book, the author is not really moved by the people who died during the attack, his main worry is that his car and his apartment are gone. When people are killed during the Hezbollah/Israel war, it’s just: “Today 200 people died . Yesterday 150 people died. Total of the war: 3 000 people. Question to self: when are me and my family going back to England?”

BUT: THIS BOOK IS MUCH MORE THAN IT’S NEGATIVE SIDES. 

What I really, really loved about  Postcards from the Middle East is that it shows the Middle East. Good sides and bad. I have held a great interest in this region since about the time that I could take an interest in anything. I wanted to be an archaeologist and I was always drawn to Egypt and the lands to the East. Some of the first books which I bought for myself where about Babylon, Egypt, Sumer and so on. That’s why I’m so sickened by all of the horrors and destruction going on in this cradle of civilization today. I’m sick of the misinterpretation, of the wars, of the massacres and crimes against culture and humanity.  Postcards from the Middle East shows this world through the eyes of people who loved it, but are also able to judge its bad sides realistically.

I began to highly admire the adventurous spirit of the Naylor family, the way that they uprooted themselves from the safety of good old England and went into the heart of a land plagued by wars for hundreds of years. That’s what I call real guts and that’s what made me really inspired in this story. Inspired enough to maybe one day get over my own reservations and follow my dreams of seeing the lands that have been of an interest to me since my childhood. Not to mention the fact that, considering that this is what I study in university, I’m a great language buff and somewhat following the Naylors while they are studying Arabic, made me feel like I was doing it. Maybe I will…

And talking about that, I really loved the trivia that Chris Naylor puts here and there, little tidbits about the culture, language, customs and so on. I really liked the part where he explains Arabic replies and exclamations. I knew most of them, since they are used in Turkish as well, but in Turkish they have more or less gained modal meaning, For example “Inshallah”, which is just an exclamation which shows hopes for something to happen. Whereas Naylor explains what those same sayings mean literally in Arabic: I have actually highlighted it and I intend to use it as a reference in the future.

My favourite part about this book, though, was the descriptions of the Middle East BEFORE.  This book touches very sensitive problems about the state the Middle East is in today. But it also touches the sensitive subject of how it used to be. Beauty which we will never see again. Lives that are forever lost. History, which got destroyed in the making of history. It made me think about how much of the artifacts of our origin we have lost. Considering that the Middle East was once the birthplace of civilization and even of the religion as it is today, we have lost so much connected to how we came to be at all.

This last part is not really part of the review. I just want to put some of the pictures that I saw when I decided to google some Middle Eastern countries from before the wars. Images from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. What went so wrong? Continue reading