Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Critter Critique: The Smile Of A Dolphin

Today's book is non-fiction and it is about animals....so that means I've got a Critter Critique, just for you. This book was also picked up on one of my trips to the local library.

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The Smile of a Dolphin
Remarkable Accounts of Animal Emotions
Edited by: Marc Bekoff
Foreword by: Stephen Jay Gould

The Smile of a Dolphin was published by Discovery Communications, Inc. (Discovery Channel).  Jane Goodall, and many others with successful publications and awards for documentaries and television programming.

The Smile of a Dolphin: Remarkable Accounts of Animal Emotions

This book is full of stunning photographs of a great variety of animals. Each page features a photograph and writing. These passages are each a bit of info and a retelling of an experience. Who are they written by? Some of the leading minds in the field. PhD scientists, founders of various academic programs and foundations, biologists, professors....it goes on and on. About 49 different people and their animal experiences. Science has always been careful of relating animals to emotions. Animals are just animals after all and we can't be anthropomorphizing them. These different accounts though, go to show that there's much more to so many animals than we know. They even suggest that animals show various emotions and reactions towards certain stimuli.

The photographs are beautiful and there's so much information. I was so fascinated with all the experiences these scientists have had. The animals range from different species of dolphins, lizards, dogs, chimpanzees, baboons, whale sharks, rats, elephants, sea lions, guppies, hyenas, mongooses and even snakes. The emotions range from joy to grief to anger in scenarios like social structure, mating and bonding in family groups. There are 4 sections and each section covers one group of emotions. Within each section are 1-2 pages for each experience. So it is very easy to find points to break while reading and to set a good pace. Lots of these experiences made me want to learn more about different animals as well as see what kinds of work the scientists have done. It'd be neat to find some of their award winning documentaries too.
The introduction segment makes it feel very...scientificly geared and for those who have an idea of the way science has treated the possibility of animals having emotions. I thought it came across as too...pretentious? As if the book was planning to go over the heads of laypeople, but once you get down to the reading of the main part, its not difficult to comprehend or understand at all. Their case introduction is just a bit awkward to me. I see what they're trying to say, but overall I find it overdone and way too much. Keep it simple and straightforward please! Readers will love you all the more for it.  

This book is delightful for those who love animals and those who love really good photography. It would make a really nice coffee table book or a great conversation starter. Bringing up one of these experiences could probably open up a whole lot of conversational possibilities for people into animals. I give it a 4 out of 5. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers

When I was but a little sapling in elementary school, I began a book series that would change my life. Uh.....ok, maybe not THAT much but hey, it was enjoyable and it made me laugh. Every kid should read this series. I am a kid at heart so I still find them to be loads of fun. Hopefully you enjoy this review and decide to start up with it again or give it a shot for the first time. All ages welcome

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So Captain Underpants.....for those not in the know, Captain Underpants started in 1997 with the publishing of the first book, entitled: The Adventures of Captain Underpants. From 1997- 2006, 8 books were published, telling of his many adventures which I shall now list for the fun of writing every long and hilarious title.
  1. The Adventures of Captain Underpants
  2. Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets
  3. Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)
  4. Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants
  5. Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman
  6. Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets
  7. Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers
  8. Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People
The story revolves around 2 kids in elementary school, George Beard and Harold Hutchins. George is the kid with the tie and the flat-top, Harold is the one with the T-shirt and the bad haircut. Remember that now.

George and Harold attend one of the most horrible, yet totally realistic schools. The teachers are all jerks and the principal is the worst of all. There's no laughing allowed, bad lunches are served and, as usual, creativity and imagination are unwelcomed. George and Harold are FULL of imagination. So much, that they make their own comic books to sell at school. They switch sign letters to make funny messages. They're considered bad kids (especially when they make so many people fall victim to the horrendous, ever terrible.....SQUISHY). For those out of the know regarding squishies, the formula for one is quite simple: ketchup packet + toilet + toilet lid + ketchup packs carefully folded and placed under toilet seat lid + unsuspecting person sitting down and applying pressure to said toilet seat + ketchup spray + victim's legs = successful squishy. And that dear reader is how to initiate and complete a squishy.

Anywho, George and Harold, through a series of successful events leading up to now, hypnotize their principal. Whenever somebody snaps their fingers, he turns into Captain Underpants: defender of innocent, protector of the just, eliminator of evil who goes around bald, with a red curtain cape and nothing on but his underwear. He turns back into the mean old principal when water gets on him...splashed, thrown, accidentally squirted...you get the message.

For 8 books, we readers had the excitement and thrill of many adventures. And then....they stopped. Yes, that's right, out of nowhere they stopped coming. Book 8 concluded openly and there was a picture of the next novel. Which didn't come for another...oh..........6 years!!!! Its an outrage!!! But at least we finally got it.

Happily, ladies and germs, today I bring you a review for the long awaited 9th Epic Novel in the Captain Underpants saga.
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Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers
Author: Dav Pilkey
Genre: Children's/ Humor
Year of Publication: 2012


Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy where do I begin? So for those dedicated readers who've been here for the whole thing, we finally get to find out what happens with George and Harold and Crackers and Sulu. For those who don't.....Crackers is a pterodactyl and Sulu is a bionic hamster. George and Harold were about to be arrested because their evil twins robbed a bank and nobody really noticed that it wasn't the real George and Harold.


Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers (Captain Underpants, #9)But guess who's back? Tippy Tinkletrousers. Wait...who? I don't know anyone by that name. Oh yeah, that's right. Its that one crazy short guy with the hilarious name who made everyone else change their names from book 4! Thereby turning me, Samantha K. King into Snotty Pottybutt. (Every kid who read this went ahead and checked what their name would've been if they were there when Professor Poopypants made everyone change their names....you all know who you are) That would make my sister Stinky Pottybutt....and my boyfriend would be Gidget Pizzabuns. Professor Poopypants has returned, but his name is now Tippy Tinkletrousers (so much better, right?) And this time he isn't make any other people change their names. No, his scheme is much more devious and evil and villainous....he wants to put an end to Captain Underpants.


But of course, as always, Pilkey doesn't just tell you about Tippy wanting to do that and how he goes about it. He has to tell you some other story before getting to the first story introduced. Typical. So we go back in time, 5 years, to see how in the world George and Harold first became friends. Which provides us with bullies, Krupp's nephew and a ghost by the name of Wedgie Magee. All leading up to a little problem later on. Tippy goes back in time, to this very moment and changes one tiny little thing, thereby creating The Banana Creme Pie Paradox. Those very familiar with the paradoxes involved with Time Traveling should know exactly what I'm talking about. All of the events happening in this book, therefore lead us to one of the hugest climactic cliffhangers EVER.
Overall, this book is hilarious (if you can't tell by my previous little summation, then something's up with how you think and you should probably pick up a new sense of humor ASAP). There's so much going on but there's so many laughs and its all pretty easy to follow once you're thrown smack dab into the middle of it. I would give this book a 4 out of 5. Every Captain Underpants fan (even if they've grown up and moved away from books they picked up at the old Scholastic Book Fairs their schools hosted once upon a very long time ago) will want to read this and see what happened after all. Its quite the wild ride, if I do say so myself. If you've never read the series, I suggest you hop on and strap yourself in because it is SO worth the time it takes to read them....maybe an hour or two if you're an average reader, 30 minutes if you're a fast reader and get super into it. Read it.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Jewelers, Parties, and Women! REVIEWING: Breakfast at Tiffany's

I made another outing to the library and picked up 4 more books (not including the 8 I bought at a sale they were having). My sister brought me one that my mom showed her to show me and once I started reading it, there was just no stopping.

I'm sure a lot of us have heard of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's or heard the song by Deep Blue Something. I have also read a series called The Clique, by Lisi Harrison and one of the books is called Bratfest at Tiffany's. However, I had no clue that it was originally a novella written in 1958. I was a tad intrigued when I saw it was a written work and not too long, so I jumped into it. I have only seen the movie once and it seems like it was a very long time ago. This book also included 3 short stories that were written by Truman Capote, but I will not be saying anything about those since the focus for today is Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Please note that I read this classic for fun and will not be going as in depth as I would if I were looking at it from an English Classics study-pick the themes and main points- perspective. I'm not looking for themes or symbolism, I'm just looking for a good book.


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THE BOOK:

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Author:  Truman Capote
Rating: 3.5/5

(I wanted to do the title in a nice Robin's egg blue, to match the Tiffany & Co. boxes, but I didn't have it in the color palette) I began this book and was very lost in the wording. I don't know why but the wording just felt so delicately lined and enchanting. I was losing myself in the world of the book and the characters. Not all the characters are charming, but Miss Golightly certainly is, even if at times she becomes repulsive, to say the least.
 

Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three StoriesI consider myself to be rather conservative and could've done without all the use of "dyke" particularly from Golightly. With additional "research" I see that I may just be a tad naive in my reading. I didn't get that the unnamed narrator could be indicated as a homosexual..I didn't get that vibe at all. And then now looking back it turns out he is a bit of a gigolo and I hadn't even realized that. I was so lost in the atmosphere of the words that it all just never dawned on me.


All of that aside, I really enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany's. The words written were pleasant (for the most part) and I got hooked enough to where I finished it in just a few hours. Golightly is quite the character. Can't say good or bad really, my opinion of her has varied a lot. The least I can say is that she's unforgettable. She definitely has her quirks to be sure.

So I suppose that by now you all are wondering what in the world this book is even about. The story opens with the narrator meeting with a man he knew and they begin to talk. The name Holly Golightly comes up and I really started wondering who she is and what the big deal was. I still don't know what the big deal about her is, but she is definitely interesting. The book basically just recounts the acquaintance the narrator had of Ms. Golightly. We learn how their interactions were and why the book is called Breakfast at Tiffany's in the first place. I'm sure a lot of us are familiar with the Tiffany & Co. They're pretty well known for being a classy and expensive place, but who could ever forget the really pretty color of their boxes? Here is the link to their store: Tiffany & Co.  Tiffany & Co. has been selling jewelry and other items to people since 1837.

Overall, I'd say Breakfast at Tiffany's is a rather good read. I'd probably have to read it again in a few years to get it all. I would have liked to give it a 4, unfortunately overall I can't give it the extra point, but going down to a 3 underrates the writing I so enjoyed and the fervor with which I read. A 3.5 will have to suffice as a middle compromise.

It is quick to read, not too lengthy in the least. Miss Golightly is also a character ingrained in American Literature who people should be familiar with if they know anything of American lit. Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield are a couple others. These are characters well worth getting to know. Each has their quirks that make them just as unique as every other person alive.
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Movie Comparison

After watching the movie, I don't feel like I could talk about it by itself enough to consider it reviewed so I'll just skip ahead to the comparison bit between the movie and book. Also, I'm just going to keep it short and sweet this time around since I still have a couple of short stories I need to get to.

The movie and book have different endings and the movie was made cleaner than the book. The nameless narrator from the book has a name now and it is now more romantic and sweet than the book. There is less vulgarity than in the book too. The ending for the book is completely open and leaves the reader to make decisions for themselves. Definitely leaves you thinking and considering. Overall, it just depends on what you prefer. Do you prefer never knowing what happens or do you prefer sweet happy endings?

Overall, both are definitely worthwhile. The book was enchantingly written and the characters are nothing short of unique and varied. The movie is charming and delightful, heartwarming even.


Overall, this volume of stories is rather good. It begins enchantingly and ends on a sad note, but allows much thought to be put in even after finishing them all. Its quick to read, but heavy on thought. 

This concludes this review of some of Truman Capote's work. Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Updates

Hello everyone! 

In case you haven't checked it yet, I have updated my Reviewing Policy tab. Let me fill you in on everything that's been going on. 


1) I've been on vacation and will be potentially going out of town again rather soon.

2) My third year of college begins in late August

3) I was elected to be the president of the NSCS chapter at the university I attend this year

4) I have too many books on my to-read list and it really needs to shrink

5) I'm an English major, taking 4 English courses this fall......meaning I will have lots of reading to do for class

6) It's summer reading program time at my local library

7) I'm on summer break and need time to play with my little sister, manage a long distance relationship and kick back with some video games

So what does all of this mean for all of you? I'll break it down:

FOR MY BLOG READERS:
     Nothing. I'll still be putting up posts as often as I can and nothing should change for you...you'll still be getting reviews for books of all kinds of genres.

FOR AUTHORS WHO HAVE ALREADY ASKED ME FOR REVIEWS:
     You're on hold unless I've specifically told you otherwise. I'm trying to get to reading all of your books, but it isn't easy. Particularly, for those who have given me e-books to review. I have not yet adjusted to e-book format and still prefer a physical book in my hands to read. I own an e-reader and have managed to read only 2 books on it. However, I am practicing with some library e-books I borrowed through Overdrive and trying to get used to reading books on my e-reader. This means that if you've given me an e-book, I may take another few months to get a review up. If I have a physical copy of your book, I'll get to doing your reviews sooner because it's so much easier for me. 

FOR AUTHORS WISHING TO ASK ME FOR REVIEWS: 
      Unless you're ready for a 6 month or so wait for reviews, don't do it yet. I'm taking time to catch up on my own personal books that I've been meaning to read, but haven't had the chance to; so I would appreciate your patience with me while I try to lighten my present reading load. If you are patient and wish to contact me already, feel free to do so, but let me know that you're cool with waiting a bit so I don't feel rushed. I am not currently available to make deadlines....sorry, but that's how it is at the moment. I'll update the Review Policy and put up another post when I am once more ready to accept e-books and other materials for review. 

Glad that's taken care of and I'd like to thank everyone for respecting my reading wishes at this time. Huge thanks to all my readers for sticking around and hopefully we'll get some more readers to hop on board in the months to come. Spread the word about my reviews to any of your book loving friends. I always accept book and movie recommendations!! If you wish to know what's coming up review wise, you can friend me on Goodreads and keep an eye on my To-Read and Currently Reading lists. If you do not see a book that you have given to me up there, feel free to contact me about it and I'll see what I can do!!

I can be found here: Samantha King on Goodreads

Sam King 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Millenium Falcon, Vader, and Yoda REVIEWING: William Shakespeare's Star Wars- The Empire Striketh Back

Hi!

If you've been following this blog for a while, you might remember the review I posted for Verily, A New Hope by the same author. You might recall that I was not too pleased with it. The sequel to it just recently came out and my local library got it in so I was the first person here to get my hands on it.

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
Author: Ian Doescher
Genre: Humor/ Play
Year of Publication: 2014

     I won't lie, I was really nervous about this one. The first one left me highly unsatisfied and greatly
disappointed and I was hoping that this one would be a large improvement.....and it WAS!!!!! 

The Empire Striketh Back is the 5th episode of the Star Wars saga, put into the format of a Shakespearean play and translated into Shakespearean English. It follows the events of the movie Empire Strikes Back. All the characters we know and love are back. I'm just going to quickly outline all the things that I thought were good:
  • The Cast: All the characters were well developed and true to the original characters created by George Lucas. 
  • The Action: Even though it is in a play format, the events in the book are no less thrilling than the movie. There is the battle on Hoth, the Millenium Falcon's escape into the asteroid field, and Han Solo's arrival on Bespin. Everything is here!
  • The Language: Being an English major and having just finished a course on Shakespeare, this book was completely up my alley. I think this time, Doescher really nailed every aspect of the language! 
  • The Illustrations: Just like in the previous book, there are illustrations of classic scenes from the movies scattered throughout the book. I really like them a whole lot. It gets my inner geek excited. 
  • Yoda: I was nervous to see how Yoda would turn out. He is such an iconic character and his manner of speaking in the movies is highly stylized. I wasn't sure how this would work out in a book like this. However, I think that making Yoda talk in Haiku format, while still keeping some of the reverse sentence placement of words, was the right thing to do and it worked out well. It set him apart form the other characters, but still fit into the iconic Yoda speech we all know and love. 
  • The Romance: Everyone who has watched Star Wars knows that Episode 5 is a really big moment for Han and Leia. Tension between the two has never been higher than it is now. I loved it. I loved the translation of their lines. I love how the asides were used to show how they were REALLY thinking at each important moment and how they helped to push along the romantic aspects. This could have been a really tricky slope to climb, but it was very well executed and I'm very satisfied with it. 

BONUS POINTS:
       There aren't as many asides!!! If you've read through my first review, you might remember that my biggest complaint was that there were way too many unnecessary asides. To me, they made the book feel clunky and disjointed. My biggest fear going into The Empire Striketh Back was that it would be the same experience all over again. May I just give Mr. Ian Doescher a huge round of applause for fixing this? Well done!!!! There were way less asides and not once was I taken out of the book by one! They all fit well and served to expand on things that were happening, which is exactly what they SHOULD do! There were less than 100, I'm sure (you may remember I was so annoyed last time that I counted them out and outlined them for you by Act). This time I don't have to count them because there was just the right amount. I'm so glad that this wasn't an issue at all. Also, the sentences were much cleaner in terms of structure and not the least bit awkward. Everything about this book just flows really nicely! Extra little awesome point added for Han Solo being the cool, slick guy that girls have fawned over for 34 years now. 

FINAL VERDICT:
         I'm super happy to have read this book. It was wonderful and I couldn't be more happy. This was a great improvement on the first book and I would gladly read through it again over and over. This book is one that I would pay full price for and be proud to have displayed on my bookcase. Who knows? If the final installment is just as great, I may have to buy the whole set. I was super upset about book one and decided  not to purchase it, but my mind is close to changing and I just might get it after all once I have the proper funds to do so. William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back was a great novel that I HIGHLY recommend to fans of Shakespeare and Star Wars, and I have to give it a 5. If I was the kind of person to give out awards for books, I would definitely give this one an award for Best Improvement or Astonishing Sequel that Exceeds its Predecessor. Without a doubt, this book is one that must be read and enjoyed. I'm so happy that I can share this with you and that I won't be left in the grump slump that the first one put me in. I'm greatly looking forward to the next book and can't wait to read it. For anyone interested, it came out yesterday!!!!!!

Thanks for reading this review here at The Real World According To Sam, hope to see you back again soon! New book reviews go up on Wednesdays.