White Noise-Should You Read It?

Image result for white noise delilloImage result for white noise delillo

Genre: Satirical Fiction

Rating: 4/5

White Noise, by Don DeLillo, covers an array of thematic ideas that relate to something the American culture cannot escape: consumerism.

The novel is told from Jack’s first person past perspective. Jack is in his fifties, has married multiple times and has a number of children among the marriages. He is also the founder of Hitler Studies as his local small-town college. His fascination with Hitler is interesting in that how we look at Hitler today is a man of terror. Why might Jack be so interested? Hitler surrounded himself with death, and now, as he ages, Jack is surrounded by the fear of death, consumed by thoughts of what age he will die and “Who will die first,” him or his wife, Babette? The question appears multiple times in the novel, driving this obsession of man vs self.

The novel has an interesting structure. There are three sections of the novel: “Waves and Radiation,” “The Airborn Toxic Event,” and “Dylarama,” each adding to the thematic ideas and meaning behind consumerism and the satirical development that shows readers to not give in to consumer culture. While “Waves and Radiation” sets the reader up with the characters and their personalities, it is slow in comparison to the rest of the novel. Once the family experiences the Airborn Toxic Event, things really heat up in the final part of the book, “Dylarama.” Dylar, for short, is a fictional drug for the sake of the novel that is meant to cure the fear of death, a major theme in the novel.

The fear of death is something all people must face. We all have that fear, to some extent, and the various characters in the novel approach that fear on varying levels, some even looking at it in a positive light, because why fear something you cannot control?

Another interesting aspect to the structure is its “white noise” and random consumerism inferences. For example, we see a number of single lines similar to “Blue jeans tumbled in the dryer” (18), “‘Kleenex Softique, Kleenex Softique'” (39), and “Mastercard, Visa, American Express” (100), all hinting to white noise and consumerism. The dryer, the running sink, the garbage compactor, the TV or radio on in the background, cars rushing by–all these things are “white noise,” the noise of everyday life that we often do not singulary hear because it is not what is important in the now. These background noises are all contrubutors to the daily life of the average American lifestyle, always needing to clean house, drive somewhere, throw trash away. And where does our trash come from? Consumerism. the “Kleenex Softique” is an announcement over the mall speaker, both white noise to those who don’t care, and an advertisement to consumers. And of course, the major credit card companies being randomly thrown into the structure show how consumerism is all around us no matter where we go, in our pockets.

Through the lens of Jack, the reader can establish through DeLillo’s use of satire, that consumerism is negatively impacting our culture because we buy and waste so much more than we need to. As Jack meander’s through his fear of death, he comes to find that shopping, for him and everyone else in the world, is a way to put off death, to mingle until our time comes. Consumers are the residents of Purgatory.

Overall, an interesting book. I read and taught this to high school seniors and find that the novel has a number of real-world applications that students who are turning 18 should be aware of as they ready themselves to enter the world on their own, to go to college, find a job, and pay their bills. This book makes them more aware of consumerism and highlights how being afraid of death is trivial. Many instances in the book relate to many of the experiences we simply have as human beings, and that is what teaching English is all about: learning what it means to be human. Recommended for those who want to be aware of issues in society through an interesting and relatively humorous and fun satirical lens.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi-Should You Read It?

Genre: Science-fictionImage result for the last jedi novel

Rating: 5/5

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the first film-to-novel adaptation in the Star Wars saga that I greatly enjoyed.

It was a quick and easy read–if you have seen the movie. If for some reason you have not seen the movie, this book might actually be a bit hard to follow. There is a big disconnect when transferring something from screen to print and vise versa. While you get the eloquent descriptions of the action written in the book, it is still very different than seeing those actions set in motion on the screen. While the descriptions are relatively vivid, they are not detailed enough to give face to the characters for one who may not have seen the movie. It doesn’t often reflect on how they look, although there is a lot with body and facial expression.

The Last Jedi novelization is extended to the movie (are all copies extended edition? I don’t see why they wouldn’t be). There are a number of “deleted scenes” that were wanted in the movie, but the movie is already the longest of the saga so far, and the extra bits had to be cut for the sake of time, but these scenes will likely be featured in the DVD/Blu-ray extras as well.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the feelings and the connections between the characters that can be expressed in the third person limited scope of this novel. One example is the connection between Finn and Rose. While their “side quest” feels pointless since it does not succeed, that is actually one of the elements that makes The Last Jedi unique–not every plan is going to work, and their plot line demonstrates this reality. During their quest to find a master codebreaker to get them aboard the massive star destroyer Supremacy to nullify the tracking beacon they use to find the Resistance, Finn and Rose seemingly do not like each other. We get a bit less of Finn and a bit more of Rose in the third person perspective. Rose complains internally (and externally as well) about how much Finn praises and has hope in Rey. As their journey progresses, we see the internal feelings begin to bloom as Rose finds herself attracted to Finn. We also get a lot of internal thoughts on her deceased sister, Paige, and aspect that we don’t really get to see as much in the movie, developing Rose as a character more so that the visual version did.

Then we have the main plot with Luke/Snoke/Kylo/Rey/Leia, those involved more closely to the Skywalkers and have larger involvement in the Skywalker plot line. While the movie version did a very interesting job of portraying the relationships between Snoke/Kylo and Rey/Kylo, the book was more interesting in that, once again, we get the third person limited perspective where we see inside the character’s heads as to their true feelings and thought processes. Snoke has slightly more information given through his way of thinking, Kylo’s actions are more sound through his reasoning behind them, and they whole Kylo/Rey (or ReyLo, if you will) has much more meaning behind the words on the page.

When comparing The Last Jedi to The Force Awakens, while I find Abrams to be a better director, I found that the main plot of The Last Jedi was more interesting and there were a number of opportunities for character development in the main plot that changes the perspective of the reader/viewer. Hardcore Star Wars fan that I am, when The Force Awakens came out, I did not have any favorite new canon character (Mara Jade is my personal favorite character and always will be, followed by Thrawn). But with The Last Jedi, the character Development of Kylo Ren has me very intrigued and has enlightened me with a third favorite Star Wars character. Within the novel, although it is shown in the movie as well, there is an exorbitant amount of internal conflict going on in the young man, and his struggles leave room for a lot of development. I also like how we get more of his past, and there is an anti-hero element to his own story. Being an anti-hero doesn’t mean he is evil, but rather he finds that he is doing the right thing in his own way, perceiving the ways of the Resistance as those that would be “bad” or “evil.” This potential for development, whether he has a change of heart, or in the end, wins (that would be interesting indeed), the space for development through the final installment leaves delight and intrigue for those who want to see something not so cliche.

“Dream-walker” Goodreads Giveaway

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Enter for a chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle editions of “Dream-walker With Other Stories and Poems”!

If you had the power to visit other people’s dreams, what would you do? Jason seeks out the dreams of people who are distressed, aiming to talk to them in the dreamscape, preventing them from harming themselves or others. Alyss has had a difficult time in life, but with the help of Jason, can she bring herself to start over?

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Dream-walker With Other Stories and Poems by Teresa J. Crider

Dream-walker With Other Stories and Poems

by Teresa J. Crider

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Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 16

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Romance/Mystery/Magic Realism

Rating: 4/5

Image result for wink poppy midnight

This was a cute book portrayed through the three characters Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. Wink is a girl living on a farm with her mother and many siblings with a dad who left long ago. Uniquely, Wink and her family are able to read tarot cards efficiently, giving a mystical element to the character. Midnight had sex with Poppy once and has been in love ever since, but Poppy was pretty much just bored, waiting for Wink’s brother, Leaf, to return her feelings for him. When Midnight meets Wink, he finds her different and unique and even caring in a way that Poppy could never be. When Poppy tries to convince Midnight to play a prank on Wink, Wink and Midnight turn the prank back on Poppy, scaring her mentality thereafter. The disappearance of Poppy sets Wink and Midnight on a quest to find her and make amends for what they have done, but who is the biggest prankster in the end?

I enjoyed this book as a young adult piece about finding where you fit in and knowing yourself, being who you are and not taking anyone else’s crap for it. Wink is seen as odd by many people, and Poppy and her posse do a number of mean and insulting things to the girl, but Wink doesn’t bat an eyelash because she is content with who she is, a message that should be conveyed to a young adult age reader to be who they are. The air of mystery about this book and the subtle magic realism within is a fun touch. The pacing is excellent and the character development and what the reader sees through each character’s perspectives and how the reader learns the little quirks of the characters makes for a fun read as well. I would recommend this book to a young adult audience, male or female, because they would be able to relate to some of the conflicts the characters face and maybe even learn how to solve their own problems in life by adding their own unique mysticism and being proud of who they are as a person.


This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

Image result for this night so darkThis very short story connects Kaufman and Spooner’s These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, two amazing novels in space. This short story is free on Amazon Kindle , which shows the authors’ devotion to their fans. The story is a conversation that takes place after the events of the first novel, but the story Tarver tells takes place six months before the crash of the spaceliner, Icarus. Throughout the first novel, the reader learns a bit about Tarver being a war hero, and this is the story that brings his heroism to light. When stationed on a planet to stop some mercenaries, Tarver learns a lot more is going on at a research facility than meets the eye. His aim is to save the scientists within. While recounting the tale to Lilac, the two discover some connections between the facility Tarver was at six months prior to the facility found on their deserted planet, which isn’t a good thing.

I liked the length of this overall, but the story itself was lacking interesting aspects in the same way the novel draws the reader in. It was a bit slow to start. The dialogue between lilac and Tarver was more interesting than Tarver’s heroism at the research facility. Only toward the very end did it start to pick up, and that is because the connections between the novel and the short are revealed nearly at the last digital page. It was an interesting connector to the second book in that it shows there is more going on with LaRoux Industries than Tarver and Lilac first discovered, and it is bridged to events in the second novel in a subtle way that makes me glad I read this. I could have not read it and have still enjoyed both novels, but it was a fun little connecting piece.


Olympos by Aki

Genre: Manga/Fantasy/Mythology

Rating: 3.5/5

Image result for olympos manga omnibusA relatively interesting manga featuring Apollo, the sun god, along with some others (such as Poseidon, Zeus, Hades, and Artemis). Apollo has taken a young boy from Troy and keeps him in a special garden belonging to Zeus. The boy, Ganymede, can never escape the garden, even through death. At the beginning of the manga, a young archaeologist makes an appearance, but is not in the rest of the manga, which seems like a wasted character. At some point, Apollo visits a temple where people have crafted a statue in his image (although it looks nothing like him). When conversing with a girl that is meant to be a sacrifice, Apollo learns what people really do and expect from the gods, something he was not really very aware of.

While the art in this two-volume omnibus is very stunning, the plot is rather lacking. There are characters that have the reader questioning why they are even used at all, and there’s not anything linear to the story, for the most part. There are various tangent plot lines that do not seem to match the initial story. While the art is stunning, the plot could have been developed further. The most interesting plot line is when Apollo converses with a girl who is meant to be a sacrifice to him. If the plot were more about the gods and their interactions (or lack thereof) with humans, it would have been more interesting. Overall, worth a one-time read but not something I need to keep or read again.



Deadman Wonderland (Vol. 1) by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou

Genre: Manga/Horror

Rating: 4/5

Image result for deadman wonderland vol 1

This horror manga has some interesting fantasy elements to it. Ganta Igarashi thinks he’s going to another normal day of school, but when the “Red Man” appears and slaughters a number of students, Igarashi is accused of the crime and sent to Deadman Wonderland, a prison with deathly tasks that citizens of the city may go to watch for entertainment. If the people die during the “games,” what does it matter, since they are all inmates on death row anyway? When a strange girl in white saves Igarashi with a strange power, Igarashi finds that he might just have a special ability that will keep him alive in Deadman Wonderland.

For those who like gore, this is a pretty graphic manga when it comes to head slicing and body chopping. The story has some interesting pieces that leave intriguing questions by the end of the volume, and draws the reader to find that there is much, much more going on in Deadman Wonderland than meets the eye. Igarashi is targeted by inmates and regulators alike, and some notice something special about him, wanting to challenge this strange ability of his. The art is portrayed elegantly, especially the gore, and the pacing is quick, which works well for the novel, leaving a cliffhanger that urges the reader to continue the series. My only warning: if you do not like gore/horror, avoid this one, because some of the graphics are cringe-worthy in their vividity.


My Little Monster by Robico

Genre: Manga/Romance/Comedy

Rating: 3/5

Image result for my little monster vol 1Haru Yoshida gets into fights and skips out on school often. When Shizuku Mizutani is asked to bring his work to him, he attacks her like a monster, accusing her of trying to drag him to school. When he realizes that Shizuku had no intention of trying to get him to come to school, he realizes she’s a bit different than the average girl. Shizuku sees him as a monstrous, crazy person with no good qualities, but when she sees how much he cares for animals, her perception of him somewhat changes. But then Haru continues to claim that he is in love with Shizuku, reinforcing her opinion that he must be insane and there’s no way a guy like him could ever love a girl like her., not to mention it can never work.

This seemed like a manga with promise, but it was rather disappointing. The art is relatively decent, but the story is generic and lacking. There is nothing that really makes this stand out from any other shoujo manga that I have previously read and there is no driving factor for me to want to keep reading. As a first volume, it has its funny and cute moments, and ends with the heroine coming to terms with how she truly feels about her crazy pet monster boy, as well as an appearance of a new character that leaves the reader questioning just who he might be (he looks like Haru a bit…hmmm).

Star Wars: Bloodline-Should You Read It?

Image result for bloodline star warsGenre: Science-fiction

Rating: 4/5

28 ABY

Family is more than blood, but for Senator Leia Organa, her bloodline continues to haunt her as she aims for a time of peace with the New Republic.

Leia commemorates her father, Bail Organa, with a speech and statue in his honor. Her words ring true, but if the people ever found out that Darth Vader was her father, they would be wary and distrustful of the new leader.

While Leia thinks about resigning from her position, her husband, Han Solo, is a starship racer. The two do not get to see each other often, not to mention being distanced from their son, Ben.

Lei’s murder of Jabba actually proves joyous by another smuggling cartel. She also shares with someone her secrets about being tortured by Darth Vader (although she still aims to hide his connection to her by blood). Of course, her bloodline is found out and exposed to the public, even as Leia has decided to continue her campaign to remain a senator. The people take this news rather negatively, and Leia loses many of her supporters, but just because she is the daughter of Darth Vader does not mean she has ill intentions. Leia has always been an advocate for the people, thinking of the greater good for all. Ben has to hear about his grandfather through the media, and Leia must console him from afar, the family dysfunction already deep in the works.

Throughout the novel, the beginnings of the First Order are introduced, with sound reasoning behind their motives, so keep an eye out for the characters involved in that and how they are developing their forces to form a new power. These threats to the New Republic are imminent, but the Senate does not take them seriously and refuses to take action. Thus, Leia forms her own organization: the Resistance.

Claudia Gray is a great writer. Having been selected to write more than one of the new canon books shows her prowess with the world of Star Wars. She brings the characters to life in a way that some Star Wars writers do not accomplish quite as well, and she makes the complexities of politics easy for any reader to understand. The reflections to events from the original trilogy are always exciting, and this is a nice connection to the new trilogy in that it is with the Journey to The Force Awakens line of publications. Overall, pretty interesting read, especially for anyone who wants a bit of lead-up to the new political organizations and characters in the Star Wars universe.

Uglies (Uglies #1)-Should You Read It?

Image result for ugliesImage result for uglies

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Rating: 5/5

It has been more than 10 years since I have read this series by Scott Westerfeld. I have now read it for second time, and my opinion is still the same: this book is amazing! The characters are interesting and dynamic, the plot relates to a topic that many tend to talk about today, the writing is superb, and this novel shows people what it means to find who you are and not what society dictates you to be. I grew up with the old cover (right), and I absolutely love that cover, in addition to the fact that you cannot find the first edition in bookstores anymore, unless you happen across one at a used bookstore.

If you are new to the world of Uglies, I share with you some of the well-crafted characters and plot.

Tally Youngblood is an Ugly and she is counting down the days until her 16th birthday, when she gets the surgery to be a Pretty. When she meets a girl named Shay, Tally is excited to have found a friend, but also put off by the girl’s this disinterest in becoming a Pretty. With Shay, Tally learns about natural beauty, that being a Pretty isn’t necessarily all that it’s cooked up to be. But it takes her a long time to discover this.

When invited to run away from surgery day with Shay, Tally denies the opportunity, still excited to become a Pretty. But a Special Circumstance prevents Tally from being allowed to have her long-awaited surgery. Tally is asked by a unique, intelligent group of Pretties, called Specials, to find where Shay went, and to draw the Specials to The Smoke, a hiding place of Uglies who do not wish to conform to the mandates of society.

Upon joining the Uglies of The Smoke, Tally meets David and learns the meaning of true beauty and loving oneself. Upon meeting David’s parents, Tally learns secrets about the Pretty surgery that have her questioning the society she has grown up in. Now Tally aims to fight, to change the dystopia she lives in, a world of perfect beauty where people cannot think for themselves, a world of corrupt societal values.

So why did I read this book again? While there are many many books in my collection that I wish to read again, there are so many books and so little time, making rereading anything an absolute challenge. But this is a book I love so much that I had been dying to reread, to revisit Tally, The Smoke, and Uglyville. To revisit a society that makes you perfect when you turn 16. The time is ripe, whether you are reading this for the first time, the second, or the tenth, because Westerfeld has announced a four book series taking place years after the Uglies series, based in the same world. With one book coming out each year, starting 2018 to 2021, it is exciting for new and old fans of the series alike.

Be sure to check out the Uglies graphic novels as well, which add to the depth and perspective of the world–Uglies: Shay’s Story and Uglies: Cutters.