Book Review: ‘Them’ by Jon Ronson

Them: Adventures with ExtremistsThem: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t like conspiracy theories. I think the notion that even a powerful group of individuals can control world events is absurd, given how inherently unpredictable people are.

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Graphic Anthology Review: ‘Wild Ocean’ edited by Matt Dembicki

Wild Ocean: Sharks, Whales, Rays, and Other Endangered Sea CreaturesWild Ocean: Sharks, Whales, Rays, and Other Endangered Sea Creatures by Matt Dembicki

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Review from a digital copy.

This anthology offers a quick overview of twelve different oceanic species, each with a different scope of interactions with humans and within the ocean itself. Plots range from serious—capturing illegal fishermen who are doing it to survive—to lighthearted—a kid playing with a blue whale toy while his dad goes to a conference. Overall, the stories end happily, but the long-term prognosis for our oceans is grim, and that isn’t left out. Given that the point is to raise awareness, there’s no reason why it should be.

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Anthology Review: ‘Singapore Noir’ edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Singapore NoirSingapore Noir by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review from ARC. Expected publication June 3, 2014.

Given that this book is being published in America by a US-based company, I’m going to go ahead and assume that it is primarily geared towards people who aren’t intimately familiar with Singapore. The fact that it’s in English particularly doesn’t mean much; English is prevalent over there. Or should I say Singlish? I had a Singaporean roommate first year of university and the cadence of speech is quite different-lah. Continue reading

Comic Book Review: ‘Sex Criminals vol. 1’ by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick  (Sex Criminals #1-5)Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I reviewed the first issue separately here. Checking out the first volume, now, I’m a little bummed that the mock-Lichtenstein style didn’t come over as much as I’d hoped…but this was more than made up for by the introduction of Jon’s story. While Suzie is quiet and withdrawn, Jon uses his special talent to wreak havoc and become a minor deity as far as the local porn store is concerned. His name for ‘The Quiet’ is taken from here, too…and it’s too wonderful to give away. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Up Jumps the Devil’ by Michael Poore

Up Jumps the DevilUp Jumps the Devil by Michael Poore

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The premise is straightforward: Mr. Scratch—better, and more frequently, known as the Devil—has just been shot up a bunch during a filming of his hit reality show, soooo how did he get there? Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Range of Ghosts’ by Elizabeth Bear

Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1)Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I can’t recall the last time I read fiction set in the vicinity of Mongolia, so kudos to Bear for picking and sticking by it. Lots of horseflesh, a decent amount of archery, and even telling the truth! (For those of you who didn’t spend a quarter studying the history of the Persian Empire—mostly the one that tried to get the Greeks to behave—the Achaemenids especially valued three qualities in their princes: horsemanship, archery, and honesty.)

Oh, also the thing with the skies, which created a lot of opportunity to replace the standard visuals of flags, governors, and foreigners with something all the more fascinating. Depending on who’s conquered a territory, the sky over that region will literally follow the belief system of the conquerors, even when the local population keeps its own religion. Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Chew’ vol. 8 by John Layman & Rob Guillory

Chew Volume 8: Family RecipesChew Volume 8: Family Recipes by John Layman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Remember when I was bummed about all the stuff that didn’t happen in volume 7, given the end of volume 6, which came as the ultimate shock after all the zany preceding bits (psychedelic chogs)? Continue reading

Comic Book Review: ‘The Pro’ by Garth Ennis, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner

The ProThe Pro by Garth Ennis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NSFW, obviously.

The titular character, a member of the “world’s oldest profession,” is given superpowers by an alien who’s made a bet basically saying that anyone can be a hero.

Even a woman who just got stiffed by a john, had a minor argument with the babysitter, and is now bottlefeeding her young son on the toilet with her panties down while the alien’s watching her (and yes, the robot suggests he’s a creeper. ‘Voyeur’ if you insist). Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Saga Vol. 3’ by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 3Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Oh man this series just really hit its stride. In the first two volumes, it was hard to enjoy the central characters as much as, well, every single one of the side characters. Marko’s parents, The Will/Slave Girl/Gwendolyn (and The Stalk foreverr), Prince Robot IV—this one, though, I actually found myself enjoying the main characters’ story. Seeing more of their interactions with other people, instead of the very Romeo & Juliet bubble, was probably why. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesGuns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Diamond’s approach to history: look for patterns, and apply the scientific method as much as possible, achieved here to its fullest degree with linguistics and archeological findings, and a robust side dish of evolutionary biology.

That said, I’m so biased in favor of this approach, because it’s exactly the one I like. I happen to hold a degree in biology, with a minor in Classical Civilizations and a second almost-minor in Political Science (it would have been a full minor if my school allowed classes to be counted twice for minors).

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