Monday, September 26, 2016

Blogging for Books review: The PUNDERDOME

From the daughter-father duo that created Brooklyn's beloved live pun competition comes Punderdome, the "Punderful card game [that] will replace Cards Against Humanity at your next party" (
One part game, one part conversation starter, you don't need to be a pun master to master Punderdome: the goal is to make bad jokes and have fun along the way.
A player (the prompter for that round) draws two prompt cards from the deck, and then reads the prompts to the rest of the group, who have 90 seconds to create a single, groan-worthy pun that combines the two prompts.     
When time is up, pun makers share their puns with the prompter, who awards the prompt cards to the player whose pun he or she likes best. The winner then draws the next pair of prompt cards and the process repeats. Players win by obtaining 10 pairs of cards.

My Review:

So, if you follow my reviews you know I'm big on promises vs. fulfillment of those promises. Is this game going to replace Cards against humanity? No. There are a few reasons: Take the card that says 'beatles' for example. My sixth grade teacher was a hippie. He liked beatles. That doesn't mean I care for them or know every song by heart. Making a pun with 'Beatles' and 'fighting' comes hard to me. But if I'm playing Cards against Humanity, I don't necessarily need any social context to participate. I can just mix and match to make a joke, and it ends up being a lot less pressure and more fun.

I also want to address implied promises. On the back of the box, there's an example of two cards. "colors" and "minor injuries". This is fairly easy. When I had a cold, I put a tissue against my nose and 'blue'. It's not the best, but I can play. But then if you get 'religious' and 'fighting' or 'drugs and alcohol' and 'drinking' I'm right back out of the game. 

I did see one suggestion for making this game worthwhile: throw out the rules. Just don't mind them. Can't think of a pun? redraw until you get something easy. 'Beatles' and 'Drinking'? My Water needs a little 'Lennon'. Bam. Fun night. 

All in all, if you're a stickler for the rules, making this game fun for everyone will be challenging. But if you're flexible, it can be a worthwhile time killer. Bonus: the deck also makes a good idea generator if you're a writer or participate in NaNoWriMo. linking two ideas together to fit into a plot is easier for me than making a pun with them.

(And no, I'm not going to address the jokes on the back of the cards mainly because they're a bonus and not part of the game itself.. If you want bad jokes, get a joke book.)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

ebook review: a field guide to the F word

A Field Guide to the F Word explores its history from the fifteenth century, its blossoming in World War II, and its evolution into contemporary acceptance. Its linguistic and syntactic peculiarities are explained, alternative words evaluated, its etiquette and misuse clearly defined, and its nuances exposed—without The Word appearing in print. Charming, thought-provoking, playful, subtle, and all in good clean fun. A Field Guide to the F Word is your ticket to social success.

Book Review:
I don't make a habit of reading author bios before a book because I don't want to become unintentionally biased. In this case, perhaps the line "Ben was in WWII from the very beginning, having been at Pearl Harbor..." might have better prepared me for this book.
I found the book boring. How someone could possibly make the F word boring is beyond me, but Parker managed it. I was going to say something about the occasional implication that only soldiers truly have the right to use the word, but out of respect for the author's bio I'll chalk it up to writer's privilege. 
And honestly if you're going to omit a word, at least use asterisks. Use comic book symbols. Use something other than the "         " that rudely interrupts my internal reading with my brain trying to make a sound out of it. This is a pet peeve of mine in speech too, when people sort of pause or grunt instead of saying 'fuck.' Or even the more appropriate 'fudge'. Say SOMETHING. 
I'm very proud of this 96 year old man writing a book but I don't really think it's a particularly good book. Skip it. If you want a more entertaining theory on language and how curse words came about and how to use them, go on Tumblr for a while.

Monday, September 19, 2016

NetGalley Review: Man, I hate Cursive

No one does comics like Jim Benton. His creativity and artistry have led to the monster success of It's Happy Bunny and Dear Dumb Diary, and his standalone strips have topped Reddit's comics section for years.

Jim Benton's first cartoon collection was nominated for an Eisner. This new volume collects more of Jim's most popular strips from Reddit, shining a light on talking animals, relationships, fart jokes, and death. From whimsical to cutting, from gross to poignant, Benton's grasp of the form is on full and hilarious display.

My Review:

First, Jim Benton has created some great stuff. I don't know a single kid in Middle School who didn't like his work:

But this particular collection of images is way too short and not nearly good enough to justify charging fourteen dollars for it. If I saw this book in the impulse section of a grocery store for five dollars, I'd probably get it as a gift for someone who I have to pretend to like but don't really like at all. The few that I did think were funny, I can reblog off of tumblr for free.
Benton had a good run for a while there. But I feel like he might be starting to fizzle out. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

ebook review: My Best Friend's Exorcism

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act . . . different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? 

My Review: 
Can we just talk about the cover for a minute? It's not pretty and really it's fairly basic, but it just fits the book. I love this cover so much and it is simultaneously one of the most plain covers I have ever laid eyes on. It's a yearbook page. With bad hairstyles. Granted it's unrealistic because in the Stepford era I'm sure no principal would allow a student to be facing backwards in the yearbook, possessed or not. But it makes a statement. It speaks to me. Good going, cover designer.

Now, the book. I have never lived in the eighties. Sure I was born in 93 but didn't really have lasting memories until 98, so I wasn't really influenced by the big hair thing and a lot of references in this book went over my head. So I liked this book for it's story. Do I believe a little girl doing drugs somehow got chosen by one of the highest ranking demons to be possessed? Eh, not really. A smaller demon would have sufficed. But the story was still good.

The gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) mix of moral, psychological, and spiritual dilemmas was well complimented by the occasional gross (as in icky, not gory) scene to remind you that this isn't an internal struggle. The one character that I just couldn't stand, though, was the Exorcist himself. Hated every word of him. Couldn't stand him a bit. But that's to be expected sometimes, I guess. Not every character is going to jive with you.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Netgalley review: The Best Possible Answer

A contemporary YA novel about growing up and learning that loving yourself is more important than trying to be perfect.
AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check
Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes toa screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.

My Review:

What I expected to be another cutesy but relateable story about a stressed out nerd actually turned out to be a well crafted novel with developed characters, real issues, and a moral of "ultimately, you've got to face things and fix them" AS WELL AS "It's okay to totally break down and cry because mistakes and life UGH" 

Usually, I find one or the other: Good plot or Good storytelling. This book had both. I liked the way each chapter was formatted, and read this book quite a bit faster than I read my other ebooks this week (largely in part to sitting down for an hour and a half to read it instead of only reading it in ten minute increments throughout my day.)

I mean, without really giving anything away, Viv is dealing with some really grown up stuff as a teenager--sculpting her future; juggling feelings of guilt about her dad leaving after she makes a mistake, the mistake itself, and tests that lead to her having panic attacks; and trying to explain how not-okay she is to her family while also protecting her little sister, who just wants everything to be okay. 

This is a great book for you, a friend, a teacher, anywhere from ages 12 and up. Heck, just buy a box and tuck them in random corners during Finals so stressed out students can find a great distraction.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

ebook review: 8 great smarts

Your child is smart, but does he or she believe it?
"Smart" is a power word. Children who believe they’re smart excel more in school and approach life with greater confidence. But children who don’t can struggle to apply themselves. Do you wish your child could see how smart he or she is?
Find hope in 8 Great Smarts. You’ll be empowered and equipped with new language and creative ideas for how to:
Accept and affirm your child’s unique smarts Motivate your child to learn and study with all 8 smarts Reawaken any "paralyzed" smarts Redirect misbehavior in new, constructive ways Guide your child spiritually, relationally, and to a good career fit
Dr. Kathy Koch loves seeing children flourish and helping parents make it happen—and it’s never too late to start. Now is the time to help your child be all that God designed him or her to be.

For children of all ages, this application of the theory of multiple intelligences is a revised edition of How Am I Smart?

My Review: 
This is a book that you're going to want in your Parent's Survival Kit. It's a book you want to give at a baby shower, or at an adoption party. It is Christian-based, but if you have any qualms about that take a sharpie and hide the word 'God' if you need to, because the actual information in this book is valuable for everyone.
Doctor Koch reviews different types of intelligences, named 'smarts' in her running theme of making the language in this book easy to understand and process. We already know every pregnancy, labor, child is different. If you get three mothers in a room you'll inevitably hear 'every child is different' drawled out like they're at a mother's anonymous meeting within an hour. This book goes a step further and lays out some points to bring up and help your child if they have one or more or a mixture of different smarts and are bummed out, maybe, by being different.
When I was growing up, different wasn't necessarily good. To put it in terms of this book, I was Word smart but not really Logic or People smart. Everyone else, it seemed, were Logic and People smart people. Bringing up a child's strengths may help them out because I didn't realize until High School that no one could read a book quite like I could and even less people wrote books for fun. 
If you're not sure, pick it up from a library. But you'll probably end up buying it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Netgalley Review: Teacher Misery

Teacher Misery perfectly encapsulates the comical misery that has become the teaching profession. Morris’ strange, funny, and sometimes unbelievable teaching experiences are told through a collection of short stories, essays and artifacts including real emails from parents, students and administrators. From the parents who blame their son’s act of arson on the teacher for causing him low self-esteem, to the student who offers to teach the teacher how to sell drugs so she can pay her bills, to the administrator whose best advice is to “treat kids like sacks of shit,” one story is more shocking than the next. An important read for teachers and non-teachers alike-- Teacher Misery paints an amusing and thoroughly entertaining picture of what has become of our education system, without detracting from the overall point that what teachers have to put up with today is complete, utter, unacceptable insanity. 

My Review:

Reading this book was entertaining, but I feel the book could have been handled better. I did chuckle at some of the fake names the author came up with, and shook my head at the antics of wild students. But in tell-alls like this, it's easy to become caught up in your own jaded perspective and forget the positives. There were some neutral things in there-- the occasional email that was not angering but not quite funny either. But what would have been awesome is a whole chapter on good experiences, instead of fitting in "oh yeah I had these two students who thanked me once" squeezed in at the end of the book. 

The book definitely does justice to the title, but with so much negativity I'm not sure it's the healthiest thing to read. Reading nothing but ranting and judgments about other people has the possibility of influencing you to be that negative person who can't give anyone the benefit of doubt. 
I would curb who I recommend this book to based solely on how I think it will negatively impact their perspective on people around them. But, for being entertaining and giving me something to talk about with my educator mother, I'll rate this a 3.5/5 (what is that, a c+?)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

ebook review: The bible doesn't say that

The Bible Doesn't Say That explores what the Bible meant before it was misinterpreted over the past 2,000 years.
Acclaimed translator and biblical scholar Dr. Joel M. Hoffman walks the reader through dozens of mistranslations, misconceptions, and other misunderstandings about the Bible. In forty short, straightforward chapters, he covers morality, life-style, theology, and biblical imagery, including:
*The Bible doesn't call homosexuality a sin
*The Bible's famous "beat their swords into plowshares" is matched by the militaristic, "beat your plowshares into swords."
*The often-cited New Testament quotation "God so loved the world" is a mistranslation, as are the titles "Son of Man" and "Son of God."
*The Ten Commandments don't prohibit killing or coveting.
What does the Bible say about violence? About the Rapture? About keeping kosher? About marriage and divorce? Hoffman provides answers to all of these and more, succinctly explaining how so many pivotal biblical answers came to be misunderstood.

My Review:

I love theology. I love having long discussions with people I love or work with about religious theories and what this or that may or may not mean and not have it matter because we all agree the bible pretty much says 'be a decent human being and stop being distracted by the small stuff'.
Know that about me, let me say Dr. Hoffman gets SUPER distracted by the small stuff. Like "what does 'beginning' really mean when the bible says 'in the beginning'?" But he shortly gets to the point, which is "not everything is literal."
Which I love. I love that he makes this the basis of his book and reminds readers in the age of science and logic to remember that this was written in a time of parables and teaching via stories. It actually helps readers to stop getting caught up on the small things and read beyond the text to find the true meaning of the bible.
So even though the book itself ended up being pretty decent, I'm just not the type to get over a bad beginning. There was a type of rambling that made me end up just scanning the rest of the book in hopes to avoid seeing more rambling in future chapters.
If you are the type to be interested in theological discussions and one doctor's take on the bible, go ahead and get this. It's worth a shot if you don't have anyone to have a live discussion with or if you simply prefer solitary study.