Book Review – It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

Summary

Welcome to Night Vale . . . a friendly desert community somewhere in the American Southwest, where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are parts of everyday life.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

ItDevours!

It Devours!? Oh yeah, I’ve read that book. It’s the second novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor based on their popular serial fiction podcast Welcome to Night Vale. The book was released on October 17, 2017, and as a big fan of the podcast I had been eagerly awaiting it for a while. When the first novel came out — simply titled Welcome to Night Vale — I was cautiously excited. While I loved the audio show, its translation to the novel format was untested. The first book had a few hiccups, but I think it turned out quite well. With the debut book out of the way, proving their narrative world had legs in the medium, my expectations of a second book to do a little more with the setting grew.Read More »

Book Review – Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

‘Look after the dead’, said the priests, ‘and the dead will look after you.’

Wise words in all probability, but a tall order when, like Teppic, you have just become the pharaoh of a small and penniless country rather earlier than expected, and your treasury is unlikely to stretch to the building of a monumental pyramid to honour your dead father.

He’d had the best education money could buy of course, but unfortunately the syllabus at the Assassin’s Guild in Ankh-Morpork did not cover running a kingdom and basic financial acumen…

Pyramids

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett is the seventh novel in his comic Fantasy series Discworld, telling a standalone story this time around. It takes place in the old kingdom of Djelibeybi (jelly-baby), which is based on the cultures and mythology of Ancient Egypt. In my progress through the series, this book was admittedly one I wasn’t particularly looking forward to. There are only a few books in this massive series that are actually standalone tales, involving characters who will not, as far as I know, be appearing in any meaningful way again. Regardless of this, I was pleasantly surprised with this novel.Read More »

Book Review – Theft by Finding by David Sedaris

Summary from Goodreads

David Sedaris tells all in a book that is, literally, a lifetime in the making.

For forty years, David Sedaris has kept a diary in which he records everything that captures his attention-overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secrets confided by total strangers. These observations are the source code for his finest work, and through them he has honed his cunning, surprising sentences.

Now, Sedaris shares his private writings with the world. Theft by Finding, the first of two volumes, is the story of how a drug-abusing dropout with a weakness for the International House of Pancakes and a chronic inability to hold down a real job became one of the funniest people on the planet.

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Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) is the first of two volumes collecting the diaries of David Sedaris, curated by the author himself. This book is specifically his edit. Of all the entries written in this 25 year span he only included a fraction of what he wrote, selected by himself. He edited some of them for clarity, altered names and appearances where appropriate, and reformatted them for presentation and readability.Read More »

Book Review – What If? by Randall Munroe

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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe is a book based on the “What If” blog on the author’s popular web comic xkcd. Munroe is a former roboticist for NASA, who went on to write xkcd full time after his contract ended. The “What If?” blog is where fans of his comic send him questions to arbitrate ridiculous scientific debate points, such as “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?” and then answering such questions as completely as possible using his own knowledge, academic research, and consulting experts.Read More »

Book Review – Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Summary from Goodreads

A guy walks into a bar car and…

From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.

Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.

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Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is a collection of narrative essays by David Sedaris, and is his most recent book. This is the third collection of his I’ve read in less than a year, which is noteworthy to me because I’ve found there was a substantial difference between my mindset going into the first essay collection I read, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and this one.Read More »

Book Review – How To Be A Canadian by Will Ferguson & Ian Ferguson

Summary from Goodreads

Being Canadian can be a chore, says Will Ferguson, but it can be a lot of fun, too. For this follow-up to his runaway bestseller Why I Hate Canadians, Ferguson, a Canuck himself, recruited his brother Ian to create this ultimate guide to the country’s cultural quirks, from diet and sex to sports and politics. The result is a nonstop comic ride through such topics as “Canadian Cuisine—and How to Avoid It,” “Regional Harmony (Who to Hate and Why),” and “How to Make Love Like a Canadian.”

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How To Be A Canadian by brothers Will Ferguson and Ian Ferguson is a humorous guide to adapting to Canadian culture. Unlike its predecessor, this book is much more tongue-in-cheek, the humour taking centre stage. Why I Hate Canadians was very funny, but it collected essays and anecdotes that used humour to explore and critique aspects of Canadian society. This book is a lighter approach, lampooning different facets of Canadiana, from language to leisure activities. Sometimes these vary depending where in Canada they cover, while others are shown as more inherent to the Canadian identity.Read More »

Book Review – When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

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When You Are Engulfed in Flames is the sixth book by David Sedaris originally published in 2008. I was drawn to read more of his work after reading Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk earlier this year. While there were many others to choose from, this cover depicting a Van Gogh painting of a skeleton smoking a cigarette and the eye-catching title made this book hard to resist. It collects anecdotal essays about a range of situations: a talkative cab driver turning the conversation far too sexual, the experience of buying your partner a human skeleton, and spending a week with a miserable and slothful babysitter.Read More »

Book Review – The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha

Summary from Goodreads

Based on the award-winning blog 1000awesomethings.com, The Book of Awesome is a high five for humanity and a big celebration of life’s little moments and the underappreciated, simple things that make us happy, from popping bubble wrap to hitting a bunch of green lights in a row, to waking up thinking it’s Monday and realizing it’s Saturday. With wise, witty observations from writer Neil Pasricha, this treasure trove is filled with smile-inducing musings that make readers feel like kids looking at the world for the first time: AWESOME!

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I’m hesitant to admit this, but The Book of Awesome is a book I thought of as little more than fluff. I cynically regarded it as a fun little novelty that was an easy sell to the casual reading masses, but it exposed to me the jaded husk of a man I can sometimes be. While I expected a read that would present forced enthusiasm over little things for a cheap laugh, I instead got something humorously sincere and genuinely relatable.Read More »

Book Review – The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

As it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld could do with a hero. What it doesn’t need is a singularly inept and cowardly wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world, or a well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind (and legs) of its own. Which is a shame because that’s all there is…

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The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett is the 1986 follow-up to The Colour of Magic and the second novel in the comic fantasy Discworld series. The story continues right where the previous one left off, following Rincewind and Twoflower as they travel across the disc. This is unique among Pratchett’s extensive series of books, which are otherwise self-contained stories with recurring protagonists and characters.Read More »