Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Special: The Snow is Turning Red This Winter!!!! Reviewing: Undead & Unfed

Hello and welcome to my first ever Winter Special here at The Real World According To Sam!!! Today I've got a double feature. The first book, is the debut novel of an author. The second is for the sequel. Based on preference, you can read both, but be forewarned that reading the second review may give away some parts of the first book. I wipe my hands of any distraught you may cause yourself by reading more than you want to. There will be a division between the two and a between space, from there on out, you just gotta scroll down to the very bottom for concluding remarks and skip over Review #2 if you wish.

Let's get started!!!!

Author: Kirsty McKay
Genre: YA Paranormal
Year of Publication: 2012

There is a major zombie craze that's been occurring over the past 5 or so years now. It's still going pretty strong with shows such as The Walking Dead or movies like World War Z (I've seen neither of those by the way). I've read my share of zombie books, not a whole bunch, but an okay amount. Let it be known that I'm not a huge fan of zombies, but occasionally I do enjoy a horrifying thrill or 3. 

Obviously, since I've brought up zombies, this book has something to do with that topic doesn't it? Indeed it does.

I won Undead through a contest on Facebook hosted by This Is Teen. The deal was this: write a caption for the cover of the book, you get prizes if you're picked. My caption ("This winter, the snow is turning red.") was a runner up, so I was sent a free copy of Undead. I was incredibly excited and had to put it off to read library books. However, I thought now was as good a time to read it as any, since I have down time from college and the winter chill has come. So here we are!!! I was also tipped off by a friend that there was going to be a sequel. I waited so I could just tackle both if I chose to. 

So what is Undead even about??
Undead is the story of Roberta and 3 of her classmates from school: Alice, Pete, and Smitty. Things take a turn for the worse when their bus stops in a small town on their way back from a school ski trip. Everyone but Roberta and Smitty get off the bus. Next thing you know, pretty much everyone is dead. Or are they? Alice, Pete, Smitty, and Roberta aren't really friends, but they come closer together in their own way in order to survive. Their classmates and teachers, among others, are coming back from the dead, and they're VERY hungry. There are secrets that will be unveiled and lots of zombie mayhem on the long road ahead. 

There are a few characters in this book, but Smitty, Roberta, Alice, and Pete are the main ones. They are the characters that we see most of and get to know best. They're well developed, but there's still a lot we don't know. Aside from Bobby (Roberta), you don't know much about the others' families. The thing I like best about this group of heroes and heroines, is the face that they're all so dissimilar. Bobby is a down to earth girl who has lost her father and might have some issues with her mother. Alice is the girl who always looks amazing and is so stuck up that she would love to stay away from anyone who could damage her reputation unless she has no choice whatsoever. She always has nasty remarks at the ready, gaining her the nickname of Malice, as dubbed by Smitty. Pete is the geek. He knows navigation and random skills that come in handy. However, he is socially challenged. Smitty is the typical bad boy. To me, he's like the John Bender  (Breakfast Club character) of contemporary teen zombie adventures. He has a devil-may-care attitude and a witty retort for everything. He isn't afraid to take charge, but his pride can get in the way sometimes. Overall, I really like these characters and I REALLY want to read more involving them. I'm so attached. I read this book in two days and I'm ridiculously hooked. 

To be honest, this is your typical zombie book. Group stops, people turn into zombies, hell breaks loose, group must find a way to survive and see if there's anyway to stop the zombies from doing anymore harm. There's a lot of suspense and the characters really help to constantly keep the pace moving quick. I like the general premise, but the real charm is in the execution. At the core, most zombie stories are generally the same, so any stories from here on out really have to have something more, or just good writing. 

I actually really loved the setting of the book. It's desolate and exotic at the same time. The characters are from England and they were skiing in Scotland. Scotland is where they get stuck. They're in a small, isolated town, its wintertime, there's ice and snow and there is a castle. All of these things make the book really fun to read. I loved the settings. The details are good enough to paint the scenes, but not too many to be tiresome and drag the story to a crawl. Major props to Mrs. McKay for a well done job in this category.

I really liked this book. I got hooked instantly. This I credit to the excellent chemistry between all the characters. They just fit together well and mesh in a great way. Smitty is such a puzzle to me sometimes. At first, you can't really tell what he's after, or which girl. Yes, there is a dash of romance tossed into the mix. Yes, I absolutely love it. Honestly, I almost wanted more of that added in. I was eating it up like crazy!!! That's the part I wanted most of. I also liked all the supporting characters. From Lily and Cam to Grace, Michael, and Shaq...and Bobby's mom when she decided to pop up. This book is fun and thrilling. I was super excited to read book 2 after this because McKay decided to leave a cliffhanger of sorts that I'm never fond of. It's good for suspense, but it annoys the heck out of me because I want what comes next almost immediately.  For zombie mayhem, romantic moments, and ever pushing adventure, I give Undead a 4 out of 5.

Okay, once more, if you do NOT want to know anything about book 2 and what happens, DO NOT read on from here. Just skip all the way down to finish the review and comment, or just leave now. You can always come back to read the second one after you finish the first or both books. 


Author: Kirsty McKay
Genre: YA Paranormal
Year of Publication: 2013

Unfed is the killer sequel to UNDEAD. I'm not even kidding, that's what it says directly on the cover, see for yourself!! My dad liked calling this one "my blood book" and when I mentioned that it was because there were zombies everywhere, he said it looked more like a slasher movie type of book full of people killing. But seriously, it's just a bunch of zombie mayhem. I'm not super into bloody stuff, but this was a pretty fun book and to be honest I found the cover and blood smatters of the first couple pages intriguing. Unfed is just as much of a roller coaster as Undead was. There are still zombies everywhere and we still have pretty much all the same characters that we became attached to in Book 1. Where's Smitty? Well, within a chapter or two, we discover that the bus from book 1 had an accident and only 4 people survived. But rest assured everyone!!! Smitty isn't dead. I don't know if that counts as a spoiler, because if Smitty was dead, I wouldn't have even have liked this book as much. Based on other reviews I've read, others wouldn't have either, or at least wouldn't be as pleased with the book. We all just love Smitty and Bobby's chemistry that much. 

Basically, Bobby and the other 3 I mentioned before are in a hospital and soon enough, all zombie mayhem breaks out yet again. All of Scotland is under quarantine and our heroes must find a way to reach safety based on clues left by Bobby's mom who we are told didn't survive the bus incident by Martha, an employee at the hospital. That's basically the long and short of the book. Bobby has to find Smitty and try to get to freedom safely, escaping zombies all along the way. 

The characters are still oodles of fun to read about. Russ wasn't bad overall. I'd say he was pretty well developed. To me, he was rather predictable though. I saw what was coming long before it happened. However, I don't know whether that's just good insight on my part or if that was a blatant ploy by McKay. I would've liked that to have been played a bit differently. Much more subtle overall so I'm not guessing correctly before half the book is even over. I guess having gone on the adventure with Smitty, Pete, Alice and Bobby just makes me even more suspicious of things. 

The setting is still pretty neat. It was fun to see everyone running from place to place trying to escape zombies and helicopters. All of the scenes were well written. I could easily picture everything that was happening and where. That's been a consistent positive with both books. 

I also like all the twists and turns, but I believe that if McKay is going to keep doing things like that, she needs to get these books done quicker. There is definitely going to be a book 3, because there was no real closure as to what happens with Xanthro or anything. However, there is no set release date and upon checking McKay's Facebook page, there's nothing about a third book. She's working on something else. While its commendable that she's still writing, I'm sure she already has a steady fan following for these books and THIS is what we want to keep seeing for now. Until I get closure, I'm not gonna stop wanting her to write up book 3 already, or however many it takes to finally get some answers. Also, at one point she introduced a zombie cow and goat, but never took this to its utmost potential!! What if Bobby had run into a zombie bear?? What would she do then? How about running into a zombie dog when they ran into that one town? That would've been super interesting! I say, don't introduce zombie animals unless you're actually gonna use them to their full potential, otherwise its a tool that wasn't wisely used in my opinion. 

Overall, Unfed was a really fun book. Sure, Smitty was gone for half of it and I wanted to smack him several times when he was there, but in the end, he's still good ole Smitty. I think half the fun was in trying to find him! The book is still quick paced and I'm definitely looking forward to more. I just wish that McKay would've used her ideas to their full potential and work a bit more on her twists because they were a bit obvious. While it can work, I'm not sure that it did all it could. I wasn't even that shocked. I had more of a "Hah!!!! I knew it!!!!!" kind of moment. 

I give Unfed a 3 out of 5. It was good, but it didn't live up to its predecessor. Its still a lot of fun and full of zombie mayhem, but I needed more from it and it needed better execution as a whole. I'll still be waiting anxiously for a third book though. 


This concludes my review of Undead and Unfed. Happy Holidays everyone!!!! 
Thanks for reading!! Come back soon for another review here at The Real World According To Sam.  There are lots more reviews for you all that will be coming up real soon. Join us again for another fun year as we enter 2014!!!! 

*What's the best zombie book or movie you've read or seen? Let me know down in the comments!!! Leave recommendations, ask me to discuss things you're interested in, let me know what you think of my blog*


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Vintage Vision: Fossils, Rocks, and Volcanoes

Hello! Welcome to Vintage Vision at The Real World According To Sam.  Today I'm going to be reviewing a pretty old classic novel that I'm sure a lot of people have heard of. It is one of the more popular classic books (not to mention one of the most adventurous I've ever read). Doc Brown would be really proud right now if he could be reading this review (to understand this reference please watch Back to the Future Part III). Without further ado, let's get to reviewing.


A Journey to the Center of the Earth
Author: Jules Verne
Genre: Science Fiction Classic
Year of Publication: 1864
Rating: 4/5

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Extraordinary Voyages, #3)A Journey to the Center of the Earth  was originally published in 1864 in France, under the title: Voyage au Centre de la Terre. It was later translated many times, which leads me to my first point. The copy I read, was a Reader's Digest copy. I had wanted to look something up about the book and I kept thinking I had something wrong because the names did not match up for the characters. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the narrator's name was really supposed to be. Then I realized that in the different translations, names may have been altered so the name is whatever the book says and will correspond to the other one. So I'm reading this through Harry's/Henry's perspective (I never found out whether he was Harry or Henry because the professor kept calling him different things and his girlfriend listed what I supposed was his name but it never lined up right). So in a lot of versions his name is Axel...but here it's Harry/Henry. Since his girlfriend called him Henry, that's what I will say that his name is. Also, the professor in my book was Professor Von Hardwigg. in other translations his name is  Professor Lidenbrock. So In my review we have Professor Hardwigg and his nephew Henry. Just to clarify something that could cause great confusion amongst readers of the book.

They call Jules Verne the father of science fiction. Being rather interested in science fiction, it was thought best that I read the classics that "started" the genre. So thanks for picking it up at the library and suggesting it mom. Now how's about we get to talking about the actual book?

A journey to the Center of the Earth is about exactly that. Henry tells the story of how his uncle, a professor, stumbles across a piece of paper with some curious writing that all leads up to a voyage. The paper is deciphered by Henry due to Hardwigg's persistence and ignorance of daily routine things (such as sleep and food). A location is given by Arne Saknussem. Saknussem was an alchemist who had to leave his findings in secret because he didn't end up being the most popular of people. All his works were burned but this piece of paper with Runic writing managed to slip past all notice into a very old volume Professor Hardwigg happens to be reading. The paper basically leads to Mt. Sneffels. A volcano up north. By entering it, you find yourself on a path to the center of the Earth. What madness is this? Everyone knows that as you go further down into the Earth, pressure and heat are increased and you can't possibly reach the center of the Earth. Could all that be wrong? Professor Hardwigg, his nephew Henry and a hired guide Hans, set out on this unbelievably crazy mission.

Henry doesn't believe it possible and doesn't want to go, but he can't just leave his uncle to madness so he goes along. Along the way, he complains a lot....which, with some characters in stories, would be very annoying. However, circumstances permit that he is actually representative of what we as normal human beings would be thinking and wanting to do! So his complaining is fully allowable.

Professor Hardwigg is possessed with reaching the center of the Earth and stops at practically nothing to get there. He gets into these crazy thinking trances and he's so persistent. More than once the words "Mad Man" crossed my mind as I was reading.

Hans is the chill guy who speaks in another language. Only the Professor can understand him fully and converse with him. Henry is left to be given translations, although sometimes, he does manage to understand what Hans says. Hans is the level headed party member who is just along for the ride. He promised to stick around and as long as he gets paid each Saturday, he'll go wherever Hardwigg ("Master") says. His loyalty is actually pretty cool, as is his ability to make the best of all situations. He gets Henry and Hardwigg out of jams more than once. Its pretty cool. He's all stoic and quiet, yet still so handy.

Lots of craziness happens once our 3-member group gets into Mt. Sneffels. They follow pathways, find caverns, have to find a way to locate water, make scientific observations and yes! Even get driven to the point of madness...especially Henry. He has some of he worst episodes in this book, its pretty awesome to read about. This is one of the coolest stories of survival I've ever read. They find the impossible and it never went quite how I thought it would, which is awesome because I really hate being able to predict books sometimes. Just when you think you know everything....WHAM! Forget it, not happening.

The characters aren't the most deep characters ever in writing, to get them its more of the actions they take and the reactions they give to happening events. Hans never has an extended conversation with Henry or Hardwigg, but then, who really cares? He plays his part, as does everyone else. I dig that.

Also, there's a lot of science talk in this book. It may not even be fully accurate (I am not a Ph. D. in geology or mineralogy or any other -logy, so I can't be fully sure---minus the obvious stuff I was taught in school). It is really interesting though. Hardwigg is clearly a smart guy, who knows what he's talking about. It shows. He goes off on these "Professor-esque tangents" where he just rambles on as if he were giving a lecture, and sure it got a bit long sometimes, but its who he is so its all good. I took Geology/Principles of Earth Science this past semester of college and it was pretty cool. I'm taking the second half this coming semester, so I thought it was neat to bridge the summer gap with this book. It held my interest in the subject and will probably help me pay extra good attention so I can see how reality differs from Verne's tale of many years ago. The science in the book can get a little tedious, but it was never enough to make me stop reading at any point. I wanted to know if they ever reached the center and what it would look like if they did.

The cavern with the lake was probably my favorite part. It was super intriguing and descriptive, full of adventure and unknown mystery. Epic, to sum it all up in one word. To get all English class-ish for a moment, A Journey to the Center of the Earth is really just a look at the human condition under extraordinary circumstances. Most stories are just a way of studying the human condition and the effects on it from external stimuli. This book is just that, but fun and adventurous.

I really liked the copy I read. It was kind of old looking. Like a volume you'd find on a scholar's bookshelf. There were also a couple of illustrations within it in an couple of the chapters and those looked really good to me. They were very stylized but so neat and added to my enjoyment of the novel. Also, the chapters weren't very long at all. Some were, but for the most part (it might just be due to the page size in my copy) it was easy to pace myself. At around 44 chapters, A Journey to the Center of the Earth is a very substantial read that doesn't drag on longer than necessary. I was pretty hooked. Its not the most amazing book I've ever read, but its up there with the ones I'd call pretty good books. I would read it again and someday I might have to buy my own copy of it. A nice copy though....hopefully with some illustrations.

Of all classics I've read, this is one of the most straightforward and comprehensible ones a person could read. There's nothing difficult about it beyond the scientific things. The language is pretty easy to read for it being over 100 years old. I wasn't struggling (I don't usually anyway), but I think even your standard high schooler could get through this one without too much hassle. I don't know why schools force students to read stuff like Of Mice and Men in 6th grade, but not books like this. This is definitely way more worthwhile and much more comprehendable. Not to mention way more interesting. Leave in Hamlet and Pride & Prejudice, but add in some of the better classics. The ones we'll actually enjoy, remember and get something significant out of, like imagination, curiosity, and creativity. This would especially be good for any of you parents out there who have kids into science, particularly rocks, geology,  paleontology. This would be a great way to get them into books and to pique their interest in the subject even more. I would even say that science teachers should start doing required readings like this. Could have some really good class discussions and experiments to separate the fiction from the fact.

This concludes my review of A Journey to the Center of the Earth, please tune your computer or mobile device in again next week for yet another review here at The Real World According To Sam. Enjoy the rest of your week! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

E.Y.E., Memory Loss, and Powers!!! Reviewing: Waybrooke

Welcome back to The Real World According To Sam!
I am Sam and you have entered my world. Today I bring another HONEST review from an author who asked me to read her book. This is her first ever novel and I'm very honored to have been able to read it.

Author: Julia Barkey
Genre: YA Action/Paranormal/Romance
Year of Publication: 2013

Waybrooke is a YA book by teen author Julia Barkey. The story follows Carrie, a young teen with a mysterious power whose aunt needs her help to aid other teens with various powers. Carrie has a past with a guy who makes an appearance a few chapters in and plays a large role in the overall plot. Carrie soon finds out that not is all as it seems at first. She ends up on the run with the group of teens she was sent to help, in order to avoid getting caught by a mysterious organization known only as E.Y.E.

There are a few main characters, but Carrie is the main one. She is the one the story is focused on and the key to pretty much everything. She's pretty well developed, but I definitely want to see more of her. There are a handful of teens at the beginning and a few of those stick together throughout the whole book. This involves a mind reader and 2 guys whose powers come into play later in the book. All are interesting and I want more of them. They don't feel fully fleshed out yet, but they are well on their way. They are relatable, fun and different from one another.

The plot isn't very original overall, but the way everything comes together is. There aren't many books I've read that feature teens with powers. This is what I would consider a crossover of fun, light, adventurous YA and X-Men. However, this is way less technical and adult oriented than X-Men. I think this is a good start. The characters all have powers, but they aren't revealed immediately which is cool and builds up the reader's curiosity. Their powers are shown only when its really necessary and most useful. Also, at the beginning, they're all ready to get their powers removed. So instead of embracing their gifts, they feel like their burdens and want to just be normal. This makes it an especially good story because the characters have to adjust to who they are and what they can do.

The book has a good pace, but there are several things that need work. First off, there are a lot of loose ends that need to be taken care of in the next book (yes, there's a sequel in the making). For one, I never really got a feel for what E.Y.E. really is. All you know is that they're the bad guys and should be avoided. I couldn't even say what E.Y.E. stands for, and I think that's a bit of a problem. We need to hear a lot more about them soon. I need to know what they want and what they're doing to get that. Is it really evil intention or just a misunderstanding?? Team Rocket wants world domination, Team Magma wants to expand the land, Team Aqua wants to expand the ocean, what does Team E.Y.E. want?

Romantic Aspect: Yeah, this kind of thing exists in this book. I liked it. It isn't in your face, but it isn't super underplayed. I was cheering for one option the whole way. There's one side and then there's the other. One could be fixed, the other could start fresh. To be honest, I wanted the fresh one. You can decide for yourself which angle you prefer. It was interesting and I enjoyed this aspect, but I want it to be developed a little more.

So I have been getting pretty fond of settings lately. I wrote a paper on the setting of a 17th century work for my last English class and the more I think about different books, movies, and games, the more I get fascinated by settings. This setting is okay. Its pretty standard, nothing exceptional, but nothing to majorly dock off points from the story. I'm still trying to figure out what the final setting really looks like. I have an idea of what I'd like for the place E.Y.E. is at to look like, but I'd also like for the author to explore the setting a little bit more when it comes to her writing.

This book is fun and light. It is entertaining and a good read when you just want to read something straightforward. Its YA and is geared towards a teenage audience. It is far from perfect, but its still good and I enjoyed it. It doesn't take very long to read, but it is a wholesomely good story. There are areas that need improvement to be sure. I'd definitely buy this book and I'm very much looking forward to the second book and whatever else the author decides to write and publish.

This concludes my review for today, thanks for reading!!!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Murder, Relationship Failure, and Stalking!! Reviewing: The Reckless Engineer

Hi!! Welcome to The Real World According To Sam. I am your host, Sam, and today I have another treat. Its another review, hopefully I can get some more cool posts arranged soon. Lots of good things going on over here. I have been reading a whole lot lately and more authors have been sending me books for review, so y'all will be getting to hear all about those. This is actually one of those!!! Awesome right? I'd say so. Now, let's get this review going, shall we?

The Reckless Engineer
Author: Jac Wright
Genre: Legal Thriller
Year of Publication: 2013

Why Did I Read This Book?
So Mr. Wright contacted me through my e-mail asking me to review his book. Here we are now, with a review for it. I read it as an e-copy, and no, the fact that I got a copy for free does NOT influence this review and the ultimate rating I will give it in the end. There's my required disclaimer, get off my back about that kind of thing, cause I'm not a practicer of the idea that books get bonus points if they're free review copies. I give my full on honest opinion for every book I review, especially here in my world. 

Genre Expansion
Normally I don't do this, but this book actually falls under multiple genres and since I have a bit more info on it, I'll give it to you. For anyone who is on goodreads or who likes to keep detailed records of books they read or if you're super into one of these genres and therefore MUST read this now. The Reckless Engineer falls under the following categories:
  • Literary Suspense
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Legal Thriller
  • Psychological Thriller
  • British Mystery

What is this Book About?
The Reckless Engineer is about a guy who's had way too many affairs for his own good! (Ok, fine, maybe it was just 3...but that's too many anyhow). Jack Connor is technically the guy who this story revolves around, even though the main character, and the one we see most, is his best friend Jeremy Stone. Jack has a son from a well ended marriage with his first wife, Marianne. He is currently married to Caitlin, whose father owns the company that Jack works for and who is also in billionaire heiress rich. He is an engineer who has been having an affair with a coworker (also an engineer) named Sally. The major problem lies with the fact that he's having ANOTHER affair with a girl named Michelle Williams who also works at the same company, but not as an engineer. Trouble was inevitable to begin with, but this trouble is even worse considering Jack has gotten Michelle pregnant and then she ends up being found dead. Who would've thought? The whole book is centered on the idea that  Jack is innocent and needs his friend Jeremy (another engineer with a lawyer friend who can represent Jack) to find the real killer.

I normally wouldn't read books involving infidelity....considering that infidelity is a plot point that I just really hate. However, I was able to get beyond it and just read the book.

There are a lot of characters in this book. I felt fortunate that I didn't get any of them mixed up. There are the main few (Jack, Caitlin, Jeremy, Harry), as well as the extended family and related characters (Peter, Marianne, Mr. McAllen, Mr. McAllen's associates, the servants) and even more (McAllen's handymen, police officials, Jack's boss, and plenty extras). I think that's partially what helps make this story work. There are so many characters that at first it's almost overwhelming trying to consider which one killed Michelle. However, it's also a bit distracting, because only a few actually feel very well developed. I could care less about Jack. He was a scumbag who honestly got what was coming to him. You cheat, you open yourself to all the consequences, no matter how extreme the outcome. Jeremy was actually a pretty good character. I enjoyed him as a character. He didn't seem as scummy. He was a more relatable character trying to figure out where he was going to fit into everything going on in his life. The only thing I really dislike about him is how he said nothing when he actually knew of Jack's affairs. Close friend or not, that's just terrible. He was an accomplice in that regard, in my opinion. Marianne was more likable than Caitlin. I really disliked Caitlin too. Michelle seriously deserved to be a dead character. That may sound harsh, but I really dislike girls like her and its ok to say such extreme things because she's only a book character. You don't mess around with married people. Overall though, the characters all have interesting points and none of them feel the same so there's definitely variety.

I seriously hate cheaters, period. I've never had that kind of thing happen to me, so don't jump to the conclusion that I despise infidelity because I've been cheated on. Definitely not. I just don't see a point in being with someone if you're going to cheat. It's despicable and a major waste of time for everyone involved. Save yourself the trouble and just breakup with the person if you could even think of cheating on them as a serious option. It'll be much easier on everyone. That being said, the whole plot of this book pretty much revolves around the fact that Jack is a dirty scumbag. This doesn't mean that the book isn't good though! It's definitely interesting and I wanted to keep reading to see what happened and ultimately I wanted to know who it was that did everyone a favor by getting rid of a villainous chick. Without this infidelity, there'd be no book.

I had fun reading it though. I did enjoy the problem-solving, critical-thinking, who-did-it? portion of the book. I was trying to put together the pieces and I'm happy to say that I was actually able to put it together before the book ended. Most would say that this point probably isn't good and the ending should be a twist, but its not TOTALLY obvious and it really just makes me feel like I paid good attention and was smart enough to put it together. I very much enjoyed following Jeremy during his investigations. That part was cool.

Yeah, its a pretty good book. It kept me reading on, which can't be said for all books. I did care about a couple of characters, not most of them, but a good enough few (particularly Sally and Jeremy). I would recommend this book, only to adults and other mature audiences (naturally). It's worth reading. Its not one of my favorite books, but it wasn't terrible by any means, even if I do greatly dislike the guy who I'm supposed to think is innocent. Its a good one time read.

Random Side Note
As I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. For those who don't know, Phoenix Wright is a lawyer who is the main character of a video game for the Nintendo DS that I really enjoy playing. I have the first three, beat the first one, still working on the second and third (although to be honest, I'm just replaying through the first one again cause I just like it that much). It has nothing to do with this book really, except for the fact that Phoenix Wright also interiews people and tries to find the truth (and if we really get into it, then the exploration stuff that Jeremy does is similar to the evidence seeking that Wright does in the second and third games. The first game was mostly in-court scenes and interviews, not very much area exploration). I just kept thinking of it and felt the need to mention it in my final review.

Back on Track
The Reckless Engineer at the end of the day is a good thrill and crime mystery that I would recommend if you're looking for a good puzzle to solve. I give it 3 out of 5.

Thanks for joining me here at The Real World According To Sam, hope to see you again soon!

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Deception, Genetics, and Thrills!! REVIEWING: Identity X

Hello! I've got a whole bunch of treats coming your way and today's review will be the first of many. What is today's treat? A book review....and not just a review for any ole book. This review is for an AWESOME book! A Two Thumbs-Up, Roller-Coaster thrill of a book! How good is it? Well, I'll just let the rest of this review do the job of letting you know. Let me just end here by saying: WHERE IS BOOK NUMBER TWO?!?!?! I want another one...and I want it in my hands.....NOW.

Identity X
Author: Michelle Muckley
Genre: Thriller
Year of Publication: 2013

This book is brand new!! It just came out in September. Rather surprising for me to have read it already then, since I'm usually behind a couple years.

 Why Did I Read This Book?
Simple. I was asked to. I logged onto my facebook page and to my surprise, I found a message. First message ever to come to me through my facebook page (to access that page just click here: The Real World According To Sam on Facebook). Ms. Muckley personally asked me to review her book and was kind enough to send me a physical copy. However, let it be known far and wide that this does not at all pertain to the rating the book got in the end. All my reviews are completely honest!!!! Everything I write in this review (minus this how I came to read it) is based on the book and its literary merits alone. So there. I agreed to read it, and I read it, and I enjoyed it.....greatly. I'd like to thank the author for asking me to review this book. It will be on my bookshelf, positioned with other books I have found marvelous and delightful to read.

But Sam, What is it Even About?
Good question!!! This book is intended for adults. Make note of that really quick.

This book follows Ben Stone. Who is Ben Stone? He's a man on a mission. He is a scientist who has discovered a cure for genetic disease, called NEMREC. Its a major scientific discovery that will certainly turn his life around. In this case however, that turn may be for the worse! Within the first couple chapters it is pretty apparent why Ben is striving to achieve this goal. Ben goes out with his coworkers to celebrate and have a drink or two. He goes home and gets to bed, feeling rather sick. When he wakes up in the morning he is surprised to discover several things:
                       1) His wife is gone
                       2) His son is gone
                       3) The laboratory he worked in is completely empty
                       4) NEMREC is gone
This is where conspiracy and betrayal and craziness start. His identity card doesn't work. Its almost as if Ben doesn't even exist.

All Ben has now is his best friend, a girl from work he was kind of into named Amy, and his wife. What is the truth? What really happened? Is anyone who Ben thinks they are? What in the world is going on and is his life ever going to be the same? (NO.)

That's All Fine and Dandy...are the Characters Any Good?
Are they ever!!!! I love the characters in this book. Mostly Ben and Hannah (the wife). They are the most developed and are the two center leads in this book. I couldn't have picked two better characters to follow for this story. I was a little nervous when I picked it up, to be honest, because of the Amy angle (Amy being the girl Ben has a kinda thing for at work). I despise infidelity plots, but thankfully I didn't have too much to worry about and I'm very glad about that. Mark is Ben's best friend since high school. He was an interesting say the least. You'll just have to take my word for it!

Can You Tell Me More?
I sure can! There are so many thrills. I know I've said the word thrill a lot already, but its true. From chapter 4 on, there are many spots of nonstop action. I loved the way everything unfolded. It's such a domino effect. Ben finally gets NEMREC right, the lab is mysteriously missing, his friends and wife aren't what they seem, he gets shot at, and more and more things come to light unexpectedly in that same manner. That was absolutely fantastic. Its such a roller coaster and is very satisfying when it's all said and done. But that ENDING!!!!! I desperately need to know what happens next. It was all so sudden and slightly frustrating, but frustrating in a positive way because I want more. I want to know what happened to Ben and Hannah and Matthew. There's a small little taste, but I can't be totally happy with that!!! It just leaves too much for me to wonder...which if you haven't caught on is an epic positive when it comes to books and me.

Also, if this tells you anything at all, I was taking this book with me everywhere in the hopes that I'd get to read it and hopefully get to the end (because I wanted to see what happened, not because I was desperate for it to end. Excited for the end to come, not praying for it to end sooner.) I even got in trouble with my parents because I had it so much when we went out. Apparently, it isn't good to be reading books in restaurants...even if the food hasn't come yet. I hated having to stop at all!! I wanted to keep on reading and when the book finally ended, I was sad because I wanted another one to continue the story.

What are the Defects?
There aren't many, to tell the truth. There isn't much that I would change! Its a wonderful book as is. The only things I would like to have more of....are scientific jargon and specifics regarding NEMREC. Then this would be a bit more of a technothriller....I just love when science gets paired up with action to make a beautifully evil and chaotic match of brilliance. However, it is a perfectly good book even without a whole lot of science involved, aside from the beginning. The action keeps it going well and the characters are all well developed.

Identity X is a wonderful book. It's thrilling, chilling and epic. It deals with the issues of family vs. work and where a person's time would be best spent, the idea that you should be aware of your surroundings and be careful who you trust, as well as the classic "everything is not as it seems". There's adventure and evil plots. There are guns and plans and death. I highly recommend it to adult or mature audiences, its a rollercoaster of fun and dark surprises. Read it, I bet you won't regret it. My only regret is that I didn't take a chance to get my copy signed.
 I give Identity X a 5. Great book, great characters, great concepts, one fun book.

Identity X is available on Amazon!!!
Purchase the book here!!!!

Identity X is on GoodReads!!!
See What Others Have Said By Clicking Here!!!!

Thanks for reading another review here at The Real World According To Sam. Hope to see you again soon!!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monster Blood Halloween Special 2013


This is The Real World According To Sam and you've just clicked right into my Halloween Special!! I've never done this before but I thought it would be rather neat. Readers who've been following for a while may have noticed the series of Goosebumps reviews I've been doing. This is another, but its an extended SPECIAL HALLOWEEN edition.

Here are links to the first two books:
#1 Welcome to Dead House
#2 Stay Out of the Basement

Today's post will contain books #3, #18, and #29....This Halloween is all about MONSTER BLOOD!

Why Did I Read These Books?
I had just started the Goosebumps reviews and had checked out book #3: Monster Blood. I read it and I was suspicious about the copy I read. Turns out it was an adaptation of the TV series adapted from the original books. So the book I read, wasn't the right one. I found a collection of the books at the library also. It contained Monster Blood, Monster Blood II, and Monster Blood III. It'd be pointless to read one and then return the book so I decided to read all three, make it one big review, and post it up as a way to celebrate Halloween.
Also...I recently read through a book of Halloween jokes that my little sister picked up, so between reviews I might toss in one or two, just to keep the Halloween fun going!

Monster Blood
Author: R. L. Stine
Genre: Children's Horror
Year of Publication: 1992
Rating: 4/5

Monster Blood is the third book in the Goosebumps series. It begins with a boy, his crazy aunt, his dog, a girl, and a strange can of goo. Evan's parents have left him and Trigger (the dog) with Aunt Kathryn. She's creepy, she's deaf, and she has a cat. His parents are trying to find a new house in Atlanta. He goes out for a walk with Trigger and meets a girl from the neighborhood named Andy. Andy is really Andrea, but she hates her name so she goes by just Andy. She wears very bright colors and she and Evan both like stupid names. They quickly become friends and start exploring. This exploration leads to a toy where Andy and Evan purchase a can labeled monster blood....and all the problems begin. Trouble abounds because Monster Blood isn't your normal substance!! Its gooey and....alive?

This book is full of suspenseful chapters and cliffhanger chapter endings, which kept me reading on all the way until the end. Its a quick and easy read, not too scary, but not too wimpy either. Perfect for young readers interested in horror, and good for older readers who just want a quick adventure.

A joke fitting a Sam's world is deserved.
If your name is Sam, where will you be buried when you die? 
In a Sam-etery!!!!

Monster Blood II
Author: R. L. Stine
Year of Publication: 1994
Genre: Children's Horror
Rating: 4/5

Monster Blood II, Goosebumps book #18,  picks up just after Monster Blood leaves off. Evan has moved to Atlanta and is starting at a new school. Andy returns!!! She is living with a relative and will be attending the same school as Evan. Evan has been having problems at school though. He daydreams often after telling everyone about his experience with Monster Blood, all the other students think he is a nut. A bully continuously picks on Evan and gets him into trouble with their teacher. As punishment, Evan is forced to care for the teacher's prized possesion....Cuddles the hamster. Problems only get worse from there when Andy shows up with a can of monster blood.  revenge may be sweet, or it may be killer.

Another fine book to add to the Goosebumps series, Monster Blood II was also a quick read. I really enjoy these books, because they're not ridiculously scary and they're just really fun. Its nice to revisit the minds of children and the world of imagination. Sometimes, in our busy "grown up" lives, we forget those things that were most fun as a child and our imaginations can grow lazy. Its also a great introduction to the horror genre. A way to pick out the core elements and the pieces that make up a horror book. I couldn't wait to start book 3 after reading this one.
What fairy tale do little vampires like to hear?
Drac and the Bonestalk
{In all actuality, I think that punchline would make a really good tale! I would love to read children's fairytales with a little more creeping out (I've already read the Brother's Grimm). I can't help but want to describe what a Bonestalk would look like and how the story would be changed to fit Drac. Who would he go up against? Would it still be a giant? Or perhaps a cyclops....anybody else think this is a decent idea worth writing?}

Monster Blood III
Author: R. L. Stine
Genre: Children's Horror
Year of Publication: 1995 
Rating: 4/5

Monster Blood III is the 29th book in the Goosebumps series. Evan and Andy are back!! They thought they were done with Monster Blood, but guess what? Its also making a comeback. Another can gets into Andy's grasp. The story revolves around Evan having to watch his cousin Kermit, a young kid who thinks of himself as a genius. He loves to mix chemicals and make concoctions in the basement. He also enjoys making messes and causing trouble, then blame it all on Evan. Unfortunately, Evan's aunt always believes little Kermit. Until Andy decides that its time for revenge once again and the monster blood comes out of hiding. But what happens when this plan for revenge backfires like the last time, but worse? Evan could be having problems for the rest of his life.

This could be the best Monster Blood book yet. The main characters are back with similar problems, but there is more conflict that gets solved. Its closer to home. I liked seeing how the transormation of the relationship between Evan and Kermit developed throughout the book. Family isn't the easiest group of people to get along with. Still fun, still full of excitement and wonder...and a creepy substance that just never quits wreaking havoc on people!!!!

JOKE ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!
This one is especially for all us baseball fans anticipation of the World Series:
What flies around all summer sucking the blood out of baseballs?
The baseball bat!!!

So now we've reviewed each Monster Blood book in the collection that I read, pictured in this section. This was a great collection! I liked having the beginning trilogy handy and it was super awesome of R. L. Stine to keep the same characters together so we could get more character development for each of them. We get to see how they grow as characters and how their relationships with one another grow and change in turn. Very good stuff. I was happy with this series. I would give this overall collection a 4 altogether!!!

The jokes featured throughout the review come from the book: The Ghost is Clear!! Riddles about ghosts, vampires, witches, and other creatures  by Rick Walton. Short, funny, and wholesome Halloween fun!
Thanks for reading this special here at The Real World According To Sam. I hope to see you soon in the weeks to come!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: Goosebumps #2: Stay Out of the Basement

Muahahahahahahahaha!....Continue reading at your own risk, foolish mortals.

Ok, I'm just kidding. The review isn't going to kill or curse you. That is ridiculous on so many levels. But regardless of what I say here in the introduction, that doesn't change the book I'm reviewing today. Nope, I refuse to switch books. The library finally got the copy of the second Goosebumps book I requested. As soon as I picked it up...I didn't start reading it. I waited a good 3 or so hours before I started so I wouldn't just blast through it. Not that it made much difference. I still finished it by the end of the night and still had time to start another book. But before I can finish THAT book, I have to review this one. So let's get cracking. My review for the first Goosebumps book can be found by following this link : GSBMPS #1: Welcome To Dead House

Also, I would like to apologize for weeks of inactivity. For those who don't know, (and for those who do, here's a reminder), I am a college student. Classes and studying take up a lot of time. I get to read a lot still, but my reviews don't get tossed up as quickly. Rest assured, there's a lot of neat stuff heading your way!! Once Latin and English and Government and Geology and Creative Writing ease up their hold on me. Thanks for sticking around my dear readers.  I would also like to apologize for my images. The camera I'm using isn't the best...Shamu destroyed the really good one I was using this past summer. So yes, the pics are a little fuzzy, but I'm doing my best to make them as clear as possible. This will be remedied in time.

Goosebumps #2: Stay Out of the Basement
Author: R. L. Stine
Rating: 3/5

Casey and Margaret have been missing their dad lately. He isn't gone or anything...he's just not been acting the same. Ever since he was fired, he's been in the basement. Being a scientist, its most likely that he's just working very hard on his experiments. It's not like a botanist could get into THAT much trouble right?

....Yeah, sure. Keep telling yourself that kids.

Casey and Margaret have certainly noticed the difference. For one, their dad never wears a baseball cap. He used to have time for Frisbee in the yard, and of course he used to use those nicknames that Margaret hates. Suddenly he doesn't do any of those things. Hes been more reclusive and secretive. Margaret and Casey decide to find out. But when they go down to get dad from the basement, he gets super angry and yells at them. After one little excursion into the basement, Dr. Brewer decides to put a lock on the basement door. What in the world is he hiding down there?

Stay Out of the BasementThis book was certainly very strange. It makes me glad that neither of my parents are scientists (and especially not the mad kind) and that we don't have a basement at our house. Things escalate pretty quickly. So many peculiar things begin to happen. The spookiest things are the plants. What in the world are they and where did they come from? How do they breathe out loud, and reach out to grab you, and moan? The personification is so killer. These plants are very human seeming!!!

I had already ruined this one for myself before I even started to read it. I watched the episodes of Goosebumps on Netflix with my little sister and this one happened to be one of them. So before I read it, I knew pretty much what was going to happen. There were very slight differences between the two, but overall, nothing too major. (So if you have Netflix, I recommend watching it, since its a pretty cool show). Read the book first though! I think it would be better that way. Leaves more to the imagination for a while.

Overall, Stay Out of the Basement was a fun and quick read. It was definitely creepy and very descriptive, which I enjoyed. At the same time, it wasn't OVERLY descriptive (which is something I get super annoyed by). Totally worth the 2-3 non-consistent hours it took me to read.

I'm enjoying the Goosebumps series.  This series is pretty neat and isn't something I've really read before. I've never delved into the horror genre too much, but these have been a blast and I can't wait to read some more. R. L. Stine is quite the writer and very creative. I don't know where he comes up with these ideas, but I like them and they're enjoyable. Quick Side Note: The first two I've read have both been the re-releases with bonus pages of content (interviews, extra info and fast facts). They are the hardcovers, with new cover art and I like them. They're very nice copies in my opinion.

This is Samantha, from The Real World According To Sam, with a friendly reminder to......STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT!!!!!  

Be on the lookout for my Halloween Special coming to The Real World According To Sam very soon!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Tomb Raider

Hello and welcome back to another review here at The Real World According To Sam.

Today's post brings adventure and history together into one huge blend of awesomeness that can only be summarized with one name: Lara Croft.  Lara Croft has been a really iconic character in the world of video games, originally created by Eidos around 1996 and taken over by Square Enix in 2010.  Recently she just had another game centered around her released which I've heard is super awesome and has gotten lots of great reviews (and has some epic screenshots and an intriguing story from what friends of mine have shared with me). There have been many Tomb Raider games over the years (around 9) and there have been some books written that focus on Lady Croft's adventures and artifacts she's gone after. These consist of :
  • The Amulet of Power
  • The Lost Cult
  • The Man of Bronze
It is still unknown whether the book series will continue since the contract created only called for three. There are of course, also the two movie novelizations: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider & Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; based on the screenplays for the movies starring Angelina Jolie as Lara. Word is, there is also a third Tomb Raider movie in the works, that serves as an origin story and centers around a younger Lara Croft. I'm rather happy about that, since Angelina Jolie isn't one of my particular favorites in the movie business. I do really enjoy the Tomb Raider franchise and adventures, but the casting was...minimally adequate. Jolie played the role well but Id like to see someone else take a shot at being Lara.

The games have been widely successful (I myself own 2: the first game for PlayStation 1- Tomb Raider, as well as the 2006 Playstation2 release- Tomb Raider: Legend). The success of the franchise has led Lara Croft to be one of the most popular and most recognized characters in gaming.

But enough of that, let's get to the review!

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Novelization by: Dave Stern
Based on screenplay by: Patrick Massett, John Zinman, and Simon West
Rating: 4/5

I'd like to begin this review by saying that I have watched this movie several times and find it to be pretty awesome. I was always really interested in the story and how it played out and the action sequences are pretty awesome. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.

Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderMovie novelizations...just non-visual, full word versions of movies, right? No!!! As if!!! Movie novelizations (or at least the ones I've read) have all been extensions of the movie that have expanded the film and have made the overall experience that much better! Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is no exception. What I liked most about this book was that it picks up in spots that the movie leaves out, most likely due to time. The transitions between scenes are so much more fluid in the book. There are so many more things the book had that the movie didn't. There are backstories added in and the characters are developed more. There's more of what Lara thinks and how she reacts to all the different characters. Its so cool to be able to get into her head that way. It really brings the character to life.

There are more scenes of how Lara gets where she does, there are scenes where Lara is a little girl that are written from her father's perspective, there are scenes where we finally get to find out what the deal with her and Alex West is (thank you, Ive been wondering about it for far too long) and there are scenes with Manfred Powell and Alex West that show the true colors of both. There are more scenes with Manfred Powell talking with his superiors in the Illuminati as well as more regarding the research he's done into the Triangle and his plots against others. We get to see how devious and conniving he is. So serious, in a way that the movie doesn't completely provide you. Between some chapters are Interludes, which are like flashbacks to the past that show how everything has been building up for over 20 years. We see how Lara grew up and theres much more.

Here's the basic premise: Lara Croft is an award winning photographer and....Tomb Raider. She seeks mystical artifacts and is very knowledgable about the world and its myths and its people. She lives in a huge manor. Its been passed down in the Croft family for generations, hence it being called Croft Manor. Her father died 20 years before the book begins. He went missing in the field, because he also went on different trips around the world. As a child he always told her a story about the People of the Light. Basically, the planets will align and there'll be a small window of time allowing for somebody with the certain object to control..even change...time. The Illuminati have been seeking this object, which was broken into two pieces and taken to different parts of the world. They seek the ultimate power. Lara's father left hints for her to find the Triangle and destroy it to prevent bad from happening. And so the adventure unfolds.

I have to emphasize something that I really enjoyed about the book that the movie dropped the ball on. Alex West and Lara Croft. They have history together, and the movie never explains anything. You can tell that something is going on but you never really know what, and when you think you do you're still left wondering if that's it.....the book clears up everything. I'm really super grateful for that. That was the one part of the movie I felt wasn't done as well as it could've been. Thanks book. You just made the movie better for me.

I was pretty hooked when I was reading this. It took me a few more days than usual because I had multiple interruptions and things to do, but it was awesome nonetheless. It is full of not just adventure, but awesome characters that aren't just cardboard cutouts. The movie is awesome, and the novelization just makes it all the more incredible. I highly recommend both as they both make the overall Tomb Raider experience come to life. There's guns and statues that come to life, time manipulation, life/death scenarios, cool tech gear and secrets that come to light. Lara may not know as much about her father as she thought and who knows what'll happen when she finds out. Its definitely a gripping adventure.

 This has been the book review of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Book Review: Formerly Shark Girl

Hi there!

In March, I read a book by the title of Shark Girl and I enjoyed it. It was new and interesting. The review for that is on goodreads so if you are curious about the book itself or what I quickly thought of it the link is right here: Shark Girl .   Ok, now that THAT is out of the way, moving on. After finishing that book, I discovered that there was a sequel to it. Naturally, I went to the public library's site and checked the catalog to see if they had it. They didn't and that was SUCH a bummer. The other day, I was at the library and I was walking around the teen section and just glanced over the New Book area. Formerly Shark Girl caught my eye. I checked it and was so elated. It was the sequel I had been wanting to read so many months ago. I had already forgotten (considering how many books I have checked out and that I own that I have not yet read) and jumped at the opportunity to pick up the book. In half a day and a little of a night, I had finished it. So, here is my review.

Formerly Shark Girl
Author: Kelly Bingham
Rating: 4/5

Formerly Shark Girl is the story of Jane Arrowood, a girl who lost her right arm when she was attacked by a shark. The first book was about her ordeal afterwards, adjusting to her new life. This second book gives us more of Jane and how her life is shaped by her choices and by the people around her.

Formerly Shark Girl

Jane has always wanted to be an artist but having only a left hand makes her passion a little difficult. Having been through what she has, she volunteers at the hospital, and considers becoming a nurse. Formerly Shark Girl picks up in Jane's senior year, when she is applying for colleges and deciding what direction her life will start to go in.

This book is really interesting because of the style in which it is written. There are really no chapters. There are just short passages, almost poem like that are told from Jane's point of view, with bold titles. Some only make up a page. Other pages have phone conversations or text messages sent between Jane and another character. All of these short passages are quick to get through but manage to tell everything that needs telling. Its like taking a wordy novel and chopping it down to only what is completely necessary. There's no fluff and every piece fits in where it should. At first, I wasn't sure how much I was going to like it. It seemed like just another YA novel to me. But while I was reading, something inside me shifted and I became engrossed. Some parts were so typical of a girl and of the common perception of high school. For the record, prom was never a huge deal to me, it came and it went. Its not exactly something I dwell on and it was just ok. Jane at one point gets on this thing about having missed out on her first year of being allowed to date because of her whole ordeal with her arm. Understandable of course, but she goes on a bit thinking of how she's never had her first kiss or been on a date before. I'm sitting here the same point, I hadn't either. I only just had both this past year. Did it bother me? Not one bit. Seems like a minor thing to get worked up over in my opinion, but then, its just my opinion. When she actually has her first, you gotta wonder a bit....but as the story progresses there's another romantic thing going on that I enjoyed much more.

Guess what? Max is back. Dreamy Max who graduated last year, who was captain of the swim team. Apparently he declined a scholarship to stay at home with his dad. Reasons for which I will not give away. Jane had a crush on Max last book, but now we finally get to see something grow.

I was loving it there towards the end. There was so much feeling and emotion and excitement. And that last kiss? I squeaked a bit. It was nice and it made me think fondly and happily back on my first. I liked the romance here. It was great. I also loved seeing how Jane saw every aspect in her life. Things were foggy to her and we saw her develop and grow as a character. So fabulous!!!! Thank you Ms. Bingham, for that, you did a magnificent job. I'm certain that Jane has made the right choices and that things will play out well for her, even with all the bumps inherent along the way.

This concludes another book review, thanks for reading!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wild Reading: Shark Trouble

Welcome to my second Wild Reading! I've been able to do some really good reading lately and I'm rather proud of myself for staying on top of not only my reading, but my book reviewing posts on this blog. I've not been able to stay this consistent with it in a long time. I just finished another book and this post is to tell you all about it. Hopefully I can be just as consistent with the rest.

Today's review is of a non-fiction book involving *insert Jaws theme here* SHARKS!!!!


Shark Trouble
Author: Peter Benchley
Rating: 4.5/5

Shark TroubleI stumbled across this book when I was strolling through the library. It had 3 things going for it that ultimately led me to pick it up. 1) I have a strange fascination with sharks. 2) It was written by Peter Benchley who wrote Jaws. I have 2 other books by him that I have not yet read but plan to. I read Jaws and while it wasn't the best book ever and though I preferred the movie adaptation, I wanted to see what else he had to say about sharks. 3) My library card had just one slot left and this was the one I wanted to pick up most. (It was a hard choice between Shark Trouble and The Odyssey of KP2, but I ended up picking up KP2 on my next trip. A review for that will follow in a few weeks.)

Shark Trouble is a short, quick read full of interesting information regarding not only sharks, but the ocean overall as well. It is divided into 15 chapters, which are divided into 3 parts. Its very handy to pace yourself when reading. Provides good stopping points while still covering plenty of pages (for those of you who need pacing while reading).  It starts off with the introduction of course, going over what he will discuss. Then starts with a very interesting story, spread out in 3 sections of the first part. I was hooked on this story and wanted to see what would happen. He also talks about what we actually know about sharks (very little) and discusses a bit of how Jaws came to be. I found that rather interesting and very surprising. The next part talks about some different types of sharks and how to swim safely in the sea. This I found exceptionally good. I don't go to the beach very often, but when I do I'm always concerned about having some sort of accident. Reading this book and hearing about the different things to look out for will definitely help me to enjoy myself more and be more confident the next time I have a vacation and find myself by the ocean. Finally, Benchley mentions other animals besides sharks that you should be careful for when out in the ocean and the dangers they can present.

Overall, I found this book really enjoyable and informative. I feel like I have a better understanding of certain oceanic aspects. I especially liked the personal stories that Benchley included from his own experience as a certified diver. I was surprised to find that he, his wife, their daughter and two sons were all certified divers. One son was certified by the age of 10. As I live in the desert, I do not know many divers, nor have I ever been diving myself. I have considered it many times but never really thought I would do it. It seems rather terrifying and I think I would find myself much more comfortable snorkeling (always with caution of course for those other creatures mentioned). I was stunned to hear all the stories and especially the ones that involved his family. Those were really neat. He had a lot of cool and interesting experiences.

Among the extra creatures he mentions are moray eels (I finally found out why they open and close their mouths as often as they do!) Whenever I would see one in an aquarium I noticed they would repeatedly open and close their mouths and it looked rather curious. Why do they that? Now I know and I'm glad I do! Within the pages of this book you will also find orcas, barracudas, rays and squid. There's even a story I found kinda funny about a dolphin he happened to encounter somewhere. It was so horrible but too out there of a story for me not to laugh. He survived so its ok.

This book is definitely worth a read, if only for chapter 8 (regarding swimming safety). The table of contents is very well outlined and I'm actually finding it to be extremely helpful as I'm writing this review. I rarely use the table of contents when I read books, but this one is very well done and convenient. I feel like I learned more by reading this book and I feel like diving could actually be fun, given you stay observant, respect the ocean and its creatures, and be prepared for anything to happen. I still wouldn't do it just yet though.

I think that this book would be very good for anyone who likes sharks, the ocean, diving and is interested in learning more about each thing. Those who enjoy personal stories especially. Also, anyone who is curious about any of those things could pry get a lot from it. Or, if you just wanna be taken away to the ocean for a little while. I found myself feeling rather far away from my bed while reading this book. Came very close to just diving into the water for a quick swim when I realized I was still on dryland far away from large bodies of water. For a little extra fun, google "Jenny Haniver." I had never heard of these before, and I don't much like the concept overall, but it was definitely strange and I learned something new.

I can't give it a 5 because it didn't have that little something extra that I can't explain, but that some books have; also I think there could've been a lot more added into this book. I would've liked a few more stories and tips on diving in shark areas, but I suppose that what he covered is enough to satisfy me for now. If anything I could look for another book on that particular topic instead. However, I did enjoy it a whole lot making it more than a 4.  Therefore, I'd say Shark Trouble is a 4.5.

Enjoyable and informative, Shark Trouble is worth a glance. There are a lot of parts in this book that I will remember for a while.

Thanks for reading this review, another will be coming soon!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's Up With Sam? #2: Updates and Life

Hey there! This is Sam. I haven't done another What's Up With Sam? post in a while....but alas, this one I am not using as a way to link fun stuff. Sorry. This What's Up With Sam? is literally to tell you what's going on with me and how it may affect you, my readers.

I did not put up a book review this past week. If you didn't notice....well now you know.

As to the why I didn't post a review this week....I usually post on mondays. Its the easiest day to post things. Within the next few weeks this may change. For those who don't know, I am in college. This fall begins my second year, my Sophomore year. School begins next monday, the 26th of August. Whoopee! Due to my schedule being awesome, I start class early in the morning and continue until about 6:30ish This is the same for wednesdays and fridays are half days. I have no school tuesday or thursday.

I still have lots of reviews lined up from books I've been reading over the summer. So luckily, this semester I can keep my blog going instead of dropping it like I did the past 2 semesters. However, I will pry post up stuff on Tuesdays or Thursdays instead since those will be my slower study days when I can quickly pop in and out to toss something up here.

This past Monday I was rather busy. I had to pay tuition dues and for those who don't know, I am vice president of an organization at the university I attend. I had an officer meeting and that took up some time. By the time I finished everything I had to do, I just didn't think posting a review this week would be wise. I'm still trying to finish up some other books too! I have a couple more to finish before I go on a mild reading pause. Studying is a requirement and that means less fun reading time. Maybe just a chapter a night....that might work.

I was considering posting on Sundays but.....Sunday isn't the right day for blog posting. And besides, I'd already have a bad start on it this week. This Sunday is my birthday and I refuse to do any posting on the day I turn 19. It's not happening. As fun as it is, I have other fun to be had that day.

SO there's the reasons for upcoming changes and possible reasons for a lack of posts in the future. I might forget to do one because I have a Latin test or something. I'm really looking forward to this semester and maybe I'll find out some cool stuff to share with you about a topic I have in class or maybe I'll learn some cool new stuff about the university that I can share. That's always fun.

Thanks for understanding how all this stuff works and how life intervenes. You'll still be getting posts....that I can assure you. I've planned it so I should have enough book reviews written to last me until the end of the semester. I took great reading advantage of my summer.

New review will be up next week I hope. So until then, have a great week!