Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bridges to Infinity

If I ever meet Michael Guillen, I will punch him in the face. Usually, I don't write negative reviews, but I'm making an exception. We need to get the word out to people. This book is terrible.

The worst part about Bridges to Infinity is that it looks nice. It has a pretty cover, and a nice narrator, and it doesn't jump into any technobabble. This is why it is dangerous. Do NOT, under any circumstances, treat this like a real book.

The most prevalent problem I have with the book is that, sometimes, it's just wrong. It states things that aren't true. It gets its infinities mixed up, and it doesn't even know what group theory is. Do not read it to learn, because you have no way of telling what is true and what is not.

Another problem is that it manages to be condescending and confusing at the same time, which you couldn't do if you tried. As an example, here's an actual sentence from the book: "If we think of equations as being to algebra what sentences are to English, then the roots of an equation correspond to adjectives and a fifth-degree algebraic equation is like a sentence with five adjectives." What? Anyone who knows what adjectives are (words that describe nouns) and what roots are (values where an output is zero) can see that this is nonsense. He never bothers to explain it better. However, using this kind of language is good at placating people who don't want to look further and think better, people who are content just going "ooh, that sounds cool," instead of actually learning.

Also, and this is just a personal gripe, it's a bit too spiritual and pseudoscience-y for me. There's a lot about the sixth sense that is used to feel mathematics, and also some about souls and our place in the universe. However, it's not too prevalent a theme, so it's pretty easy to ignore.

In conclusion, never buy this book. Never read this book. Tell your friends never to buy or read this book. If a friend is reading it, slap it out of their hands. Bridges to Infinity is a scourge upon mathematics.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ruler & Compass

So, here's the deal. I am staying at my grandparent's house right now. And my grandpa is a math teacher at some college. This means he has a lot of math books. Now, I like math. I might be a mathematician when I grow up. So I'm going to review a few books that I read here, and they're all about math. Starting with the infinity one, there's just like three. After that, I'll just take a book home, and then after that no more math books.

I'm making this announcement on Andy Sutton's Ruler and Compass because there's not much to it. If you know about euclidean constructions, well then there you go. The book's about that. If not, then let me explain.

Euclid was a dude who did math back in ancient Greece, and he used logic to prove things in geometry, which was essentially the only mathematics in Greece at the time. Euclid's proofs showed things people could create with just a straight-edge and compass. This book is filled with those things, which are called constructions, so that you can try them for yourself.

Essentially, it's a coloring book for nerds. I've tried a few myself, and it's very satisfying when you get the final result. If you think you'd like this book, then get it.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Brief History of Infinity

I was very confused when I started reading Brian Clegg's A Brief History of Infinity. What I had expected was something like the other mathy books I've reviewed, so I was surprised when it spent a lot of time not talking about infinity. It went on irrelevant tangents, talking about science and people and plagues and things. It wasn't even entirely in chronological order.

I later realized that the reason it was so bad at being a math book was that it was a history book. This book is not about teaching you what infinities are, it's about how the ideas of infinity and the infinitesimal evolved over time, and about what people thought of those ideas. Of course, when it talks about the history of infinity, it also talks about the ideas people had about infinity, because "infinity" has meant different things to different people at different times, and now there are even different kinds of infinity. I guess, given that the subject is so complex, A Brief History of Infinity does a great job of getting it across to you.

If you like the idea of infinity, and you also like reading about people's struggles, then you should read this book. Also, if you want to understand all of the infinities in this link (except maybe surreals), then this book is a really good starting point. Also, it's not that long, so you can read the whole thing over like a weekend. Okay, that's all.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts is a book about the end of the world. In it, a girl named Melanie is kept in a bunker, underground, sealed off from everyone else. Everyone always treats her as if she's extremely dangerous, along with the someteen other kids who share the bunker wit her. I'm not entirely sure how much I should spoil, because there is a nice little mystery through the first part of the book. One thing I will say is: it's totally zombies.

But then, after the mystery is all worked out, the compound is attacked. Melanie escapes, along with a ragtag group of individuals (I don't want to spoil who), and they all have to make it back to Beacon City, the last human stronghold in all of Great Britain. Along the way, they will have to survive bandits, come to uneasy agreements with each other, and not be eaten by zombies.

The zombies, by the way, are definitely a strong point in The Girl With All The Gifts. They are a variation of the cordyceps fungus (think The Last of Us) which essentially just means, "hey, this is technically possible, and therefore better than those other zombies!"* The zombies (which are called "hungries" by the cast) are thin and pale, and they spend most of their time stock-still. However, as soon as they hear a noise, they snap to attention and run towards it. If a hungry smells a human, it also immediately enters its rage state and runs towards it. This is actually a really clever idea, and it leads to the haunting image of a garden of pale figures, staying perfectly still.

There are, however, complications. There are other rules to the zombies which are revealed along the way, and they... well, honestly, they make absolutely no sense. Some of them, at least. This is the problem I have with the book: plot holes. So many plot holes. None of them are game-breaking, but they are certainly there. For someone as plot-driven as I am, this is a serious problem. I like picking apart exactly why and how things happen; it's one of the reasons I love time-travel stories so much. However, there are just too many things to pick at, here.

That's why, originally, I didn't want to write this. I don't like writing negative reviews. If I read a book and don't like it, I usually will just skip over it. However, this book has all of the things I like. An interesting premise. A hostile environment. Half-believable pseudoscience. Excellent characters. Objectively, this is a good book. But I didn't like it.

So, here's my conclusion: If you like zombies, or children, or adventure, or suspense, or mystery, or heartbreak, and you do not care at all about plot holes (or are not good at spotting them), then you should read this book.

*Really, though, there aren't any realistic zombies, just zombies that are slightly less impossible. The cordyceps fungus affects insects and arthropods, things with skeletons. They breathe through their skin. Humans don't. Also, the cordyceps fungus does not make an organism rant to attack or eat its own kind. That would be wildly inefficient. Instead, the fungus just makes it infiltrate its hive area and try to get into a good vantage point to spread its spores. I don't know of anything that deliberately makes an animal attack another animal. Even rabies just makes the animals angry, aggressive, and confused; as opposed to bloodthirsty. I think 28 Days Later's "rage virus" is the most semi-realistic zombie I've seen. Although the Brooks Zombies will always be the best ones.

tl;dr: Ain't no realistic zombies. Using an actual organism only helps with appearances. If you want a good, realistic interpretation of human cordyceps, take a few minutes to read Up, by Josef K. It's real short.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Single Digits

Numbers are cool. Many people, including probably you, are not entirely aware of this. If you never liked math, or you want to know a bit more about math, or you love math and want to celebrate it in a simple way, there is one book you have to get: Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension.

However, if you've already read that, Marc Chamberland's Single Digits might be a good follow-up. It covers all of the digits from one to nine, in numerical order. Although you won't gain any miraculous understanding of the workings of existence, a lot of it is very interesting. Also, I was pleasantly surprised that all of the numbers really did have personalities. It's... rather strange, actually.

All in all, this is a quaint book about numbers. It's nice to pick up and read for a few minutes. If you have already read Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, and you want more of the same but in bite-sized chucks (and much less brilliant), then give this a shot.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bangs & Whimpers

Bangs and Whimpers, edited by James Frenkel (I'm not sure how much credit he should get), is exactly what it says in the cover: stories about the end of the world. There are nineteen stories in all, each by a different science fiction author.

There are a surprising amount of different themes in the book, although the sun explodes one time too many, in my opinion. Some of the stories are sad, some dark, some hopeful, and a few actually funny. The only thing they have in common is that, by the end of the story, something very bad has happened. Well, most times. See? So many kinds of stories!

Because they're so different, it's hard to say anything aside from "they're good." I mean, umm... They're short stories, so the longest take at most an afternoon. Most of 'em are science fiction. I love them all, except "Finis," and maybe the lemming one. The cover uses mainly warm colors.

Look, this is too hard. Just... if you have ever enjoyed anything post-apocalyptic, or any story in which everything goes wrong, or sci-fi stories with interesting twists and mechanics, or bleak stories about human weakness, or hopeful stories about human ingenuity, then you will definitely love at least one of the stories in Bangs and Whimpers.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Raptor Red

Robert T. Bakker's Raptor Red is, as far as I know, the first book of its kind, by a long shot. It is not a book about people who bring dinosaurs to life. It is not a book about people with a time machine that travel to the time of the dinosaurs. It's not a book about a hidden land of dinosaurs, protected from time. It's not about cartoonish dinosaurs that generally act like humans. It's not even an informational book about dinosaurs. Nope. Raptor Red is just about dinosaurs.

Red is a Utahraptor lady, and lives during the early Cretaceous period. A land bridge has opened up from Asia to North America, and Red is one of the first Utahraptors to enter this strange land. Red's mate, Doomed-for-death,* dies in the first chapter, leaving Red to fend for herself. For weeks, Red is barely able to scrape by.

Luckily for Red, just when she is on the brink of death, she finds her sister, Run. While they have been separated, Run has managed to get three little raptor chicks: Chuck, Duck, and Hide. Red and Run now have to brave this new land, while protecting the three chicks and facing many perilous perils.

I really like the story, and the characters were all, surprisingly, very memorable. Bakker does a cool thing (like in The Once and Future King) where the animals' speech, mannerisms, and societies are all completely different for different species. You get to see into the minds of crocodiles, turtles, pterosaurs, little mammals, Gastonians, the whole lot of 'em. My only problem is that I think Bakker brings science in a little too much. Every chapter or so, he takes a few paragraphs to describe things scientifically, and it's not really needed.

Raptor Red is still a good book, though. If you like dinosaurs, you basically have to read it, because it's the first true dinosaur book. Actually, if you just like animals in general, you should read it as well, because not even many animal books can pull this off. If you don't like science that much, you can just skim the sciency bits, and it won't take away from the experience at all. This is definitely a book you should read, even just for its premise.

*None of the characters in the book are named except for Red, which makes sense, because she is the point-of-view character, and Utahraptors haven't invented language yet. As such, all the other names I use are ones that I've made up. You are welcome to use them if you want. Also, the guy's name is Sky.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Good Omens

Good Omens, written by both Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, has like a million covers. It has way too many covers. I couldn't find a good photo of the one I read it inside (mostly white with a demon on the front), so I just picked the coolest-looking fan cover. Can't be bothered to sort through all those canonical covers. Just google it.

Anyways, Good Omens is supposed to have the subtitle: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. That is the title of a book of prophecies, all of which have come true so far. It also Prophecies the end of the world. Next Saturday.*

Generally, people think this is just hunky-dory. Does anyone say that anymore? Whatever. Two celestial individuals, Crowley the demon and Aziraphale the angel, have taken a liking to the world, and decide that they will try their best to stop it. To do this, they agree to both tutor the Antichrist equally, so that he cannot take a side and the world does not end. This works perfectly, and disaster is averted.

Not really. Things don't exactly go as planned, and now the duo has to find the Antichrist, who has grown up to be Adam, a simple boy from a small town. In that town there lives Anathema Device, a descendant of Agnes Nutter. She is being tracked down by Newton Pulsifer, who works under... you know, there's quite a few characters, actually. The four horsemen show up, too. It's great fun. In fact, I think my only complaint is that Pratchett and Gaiman didn't do more with the characters, towards the end. Then again, that's just about the best complaint to have about a book. I'd give it a read if I were you.

*Off the record, I wouldn't worry too much, because it's implied to have happened in 2004.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End is a book in which, in the final act, a man named John is killed. Seriously, just look at that title, and imagine an entire book written in that tone. That's reasonably close to the truth.

As for the plot, John Dies at the End is about David Wong and his best friend, John. They live in the smallish town of [Undisclosed], and spend their time being obnoxious and sometimes drunk. One day, John takes a drug called Soy Sauce, which makes everything terrible forever, because it exposes him to a dark alternate universe of doom. Dave gets infected as well, and they go on an epic journey to save the world.

There are, like, millions of quotes where people talk about how this book successfully uses humor and horror at the same time. And, yeah, they're pretty much right. I laughed out loud at many parts of the book, and at other parts I was deeply horrified. Very deeply. As such, I think the easiest way to see if you will like it is this:

If any of the following subjects are complete deal-breakers for you, and you would never read a book with them, do not read this book:
Alternate universes
Severed limbs
Painful transformation
Untied plot threads
If none of these things immediately make you want to flee from this review, you will probably like the book. If you aren't even bothered by any of these things, you may have found your new favorite book. I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed it, despite feeling very uncomfortable at parts. I'll leave it at that.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Hidden Reality

The Hidden Reality, by Brian Greene, is about the physics behind various types of multiverses that are all backed by some sort of science. Does this sound familiar? Well, it should. A book I reviewed earlier, In Search of the Multiverse, has the exact same premise.

Because of that, a lot of what I could say about this book I've already said. If you don't feel like reading the other review, here's a short summary:

"This is a book about what is "sci" and what is "fi" about multiverses. It's got lotsa types and no equations. Certain fancy people agree with the author."

So, what makes The Hidden Reality different from In Search of the Multiverse? Well, In Search of the Multiverse focuses a lot more on visualizations and analogies of the universes described. The Hidden Reality presents things in a slightly more scientific fashion.

Another difference is that The Hidden Reality has grouped it's multiverses into nine categories, all of which are easily found in the contents, that are summarized by Wikipedia. This gives the book a more focused, purposeful narrative (if you can call it that), whereas In Search of the Multiverse feels more like a ramble about the topic (an organized ramble, but a ramble).

You should get whichever book sounds more appealing. Or, if neither sound appealing, why not try Masterminds? It's super good. And, hey, if you want to get both, go ahead. They don't say all of the same things, so they compliment each other well.

P.S.: I, personally, liked The Hidden Reality better. Not only is it delivered in a way that I like more, but it is also written by Brian Green, who wrote and made movies of Fabric of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe, the first of which I've seen and loved.

P.P.S. I think this is a record for the most links in one post that I've made so far. If not, well now it is.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Martian

First of all, as some of you are probably aware of, The Martian is being adapted into a major motion picture!

Well, that's all I'm saying about that. The Martian, by Andy Weir, is a book about a guy by the name of Mark Watney. Mark Watney has a bit of a problem, in that he is stuck alone on Mars without any way to get off, and everyone back on Earth thinks he's dead. Whoopsie daisy.

Mark now needs to survive in a barren landscape with nothing but years of NASA's hard work and efforts along with millions of dollars worth of resources. Well, that doesn't sound too bad, does it? Yeah... Spoilers: it doesn't work out great. Mark is going to have to do everything he can to survive.

There are other characters, by the way, but they don't show up until, like, the sixth chapter.

Will Mark be able to find enough food? Will the people of Earth be willing to help? Will mark explode violently due to decompression? Is the planet Mars conspiring against him? Will he ever be able to get back? And, most importantly, will the President pardon him for his acts of space piracy? Read to find out.

Or, like, if you are just hyped for the movie, you should read it as well. Or if you enjoy high-stakes engineering. Or extraterrestrial farming. You know what? Just read it. It's super good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Warning: this is a long story. Seveneves (pronounced "seh-veh-neh-ves") is one of those books that are not only very long but also seem like they have no chapters. The book doesn't have a table of contents, which is understandable, because some chapters are almost three HUNDRED pages long. Still, I've written one up, in case you want it.

Because it's so long, it's almost two separate stories, and the pace basically continues to ramp up throughout the entire story. This eventually lead to a severe loss of sleep. Do not attempt finishing this book if you have important things to do.

Anyways, I've decided to do three different trailer-things, one for each part of the book. I've tried to remove most of the spoilers. Here we go.

Part One: The time is, like now-ish. I think it's an alternate universe or something? Actually, it may be in the future, and technology has remained about the same. I dunno. And then the moon suddenly explodes, all rude and inconsiderate-like. Spoilers: this will lead to life on earth being destroyed. When they realize this, the governments of the world start attempting to create a swarming space station of little space ships, surrounding the International Space Station. Will they succeed? Yes. But it's the journey, not the destination, that matters most.

Part Two: Speaking of journeys, the Cloud Ark has become fully operational and several billion people have died. The 1500 remaining humans now have to endure five thousand years in space. Wait, really? Five thousand? That seems a bit excessive. Anyways, everyone has been shuttled into space, and our heroes are now facing all the hardships usually associated with being in outer space. Marcus has replaced Ivy as the ship's leader, Doc Dubois has stepped out of his media shoes and started helping out, and all is well. But, the inside flap of the book said that "only a handful" of people survive, and that can't be more than 20, so something must be about to go down. And if anyone can reduce the human population from 1500 to 20, it's former president Julia Bliss Flaherty.

Part Three: Five thousand years later. humans have split into seven different races: the smart ones, the strong ones, the heroic ones, the nice ones, the paranoid ones, the super-mutant-power-that-is-actually-a-really-cool-idea ones, and Slytherin. A girl from the super-mutant one, Kath Two, is on a standard survey mission down to Earth's surface when she sees something strange. Before she knows it, she gets wrapped up in a strange mission with an unclear goal and untrustworthy partners. This is where the story really heats up, in a future focused entirely on mechanics, robotics, and genetics, where everything from earlier in the story starts to come into play.

Seveneves is the first book I've read in this whole epic odyssey style. I have to say, I can see what all the hype is about. If you've got some free time, this is definitely a cool science fiction book for you to try out.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Zombie Survival Guide

To me, Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide will always be the definitive book on zombies. I know it's not the first book about zombies, not by a long shot, but it is close to my heart because it's the one my friends and I based all our apocalyptic survival plans off of.

The Zombie Survival Guide is exactly what is said on the cover: a survival guide, in a completely serious and informational tone, for surviving the zombie apocalypse. It details zombie strengths and weaknesses, the best ways to fight them, and other tips and tricks for adapting to the zombie apocalypse.

As for the Brooks Zombies, they are slow, stupid, and uncoordinated. Their only advantage is that they can defy many laws of biology, like the need for oxygen, nutrients, a functioning body, or higher thought. Brooks used his zombies in his other book, World War Z, which I also recommend and will probably talk about later.

If you enjoy losing yourself in another world (perhaps with friends), you should get this book immediately. If you don't, then maybe you can get this book anyways and it can convince you. There is no story arc and no characters, so while reading it you inevitably start imagining yourself in these situations, and even start planning a little. Unless you're a nerd, in which case you plan a lot.

In conclusion: zombies. how to survive them. Thank you for your time.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Life is going kinda meh for Seth Somethingorother right now. Nothing ever seems to happen in the town of Loughborough (which has far too many "ugh"s in it, in Seth's opinion). That is, until is best friend, Luke, disappears.

All of the adults think that Luke has run away. Spoilers: he most definitely has not. Tall Jake has taken him to the world of Malice, where kids and teenagers struggle to escape, most things are deadly, and everything is serialized in comics that are given to the outside world. Naturally, Seth and his friend Kady have to figure everything out.

As for the book Malice, the story is told in a mixture of text, comic panels, and Chris Wooding trying to simulate teenagers Instant Messaging. Don't expect too much comic, though; almost all of the book is just text.

The parts of the book that are comic, however, are really well done (not that the rest of it is bad). I like the art style, and I like how the comic actually fits in with the narrative. This is a nice adventure story in which more questions are raised than answered. Some might be answered in book two, Havoc, which I haven't read yet.

I don't think I'm gonna be able to say anything smart right now, so: if you like monsters, alternate worlds, and vague questions about human nature, read this book.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Secret Series (The Name of This Book is Secret)

Here's a quick one. The Secret Series is one of my favorite book series. Probably in the top five. It's funny, smart(ish), charming, and chocolatey. The books come in five delicious flavors: The Name of This Book is Secret; If You're Reading This, It's Too Late; This Book is not Good for You; This Isn't What It Looks Like; and You Have to Stop This.

That's a quite of books (sorry for my grammar, I'm tired and sick). All in all, it's a whole quintilogy. Or a pentology? Whatever. I just finished rereading the series, and I loved it again. It stars Cass and Max-Ernest, two students who attend The School In Which Things Happen. There are also a whole host of cool, quirky side characters, none of which I will write about because I'm sick and tired.

I realise I'm not doing a great job of selling this, but trust me. The Secret Series is a few million times better than what I make it seem like it is. Wow, my sentences aren't even entirely coherent anymore. Look, I love these books. They were probably my favorite series for a while. If you like humor, magic and... the other stuff under "labels," give this series a try.

In conclusion. These books are real good. Read 'em. That's all I have the brain for today.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


OH MY GOD IS MASTERMINDS A GOOD BOOK. Seriously, I started reading it on Monday, and finished today (Wednesday, or three days later, for you lazy folks). This book gives a new meaning to the phrase "page-turner", the pages practically turn themselves.  As one-of-the-dudes-from-the-back-of-the-book said: "Reading this book while doing anything else is dangerous."

Anyways. Adulation over. Masterminds follows five kids: Eli, Amber, Malik, Hector, and Tori. These kids live in the really small town of Serenity, where everything is perfect, except, you've read books before, so you already know that everything is not perfect at all.

It turns out, some of the kids in Serenity are... special, somehow. When Eli goes out of town with his best friend, Randy, he is struck by a crippling pain, while Randy remains fine. Fortunately, he is picked up by the town's army of Purple People Eaters in their nondescript, menacing black helicopter. You know, no biggie.

After the incident, Randy announces that he will be moving out of Serenity to live with his grandmother. But Eli thinks that Randy is acting strange. And then... well, then the book happens. All that stuff basically happens in the first chapter. This is a book that never seems to stop and take its breath, and it works.

In other words, if you have a weekend to kill, reading Masterminds is one of the best ways to do it. If you like books about people doing things, you will probably love this book.

In Search of the Multiverse

As some of you may have already guessed, In Search of the Multiverse is about the multiverse (and our search for it). If you've ever wondered how much of the multiverse "science" in sci-fi is real, give it a read.

In Search of the Multiverse outlines the basics of several different kinds of multiverse that actual scientists (or at least the fun ones) think might be possible, without going into the actual workings of equations. Really, he doesn't talk about anything that's not needed to understand whatever multiverse he's explaining.

Some multiverses are pretty silly, in my opinion. Then again, some people think that the idea of a multiverse actually existing at all is silly, so there's really no need to judge.

Without going into details of the specific things he says, that's all I have to say. Actually, there's one more thing: this guy, John Gribbin, has written a heck of a lot of books, and most of them are ones I want to read. Given that, I'm probably not going to read any of them, so that the next seven books on this blog aren't all by John Gribbin. Except maybe Shrödinger's Kittens, because I think I can learn a lot of interesting things from it. But that's all.

So, yeah. If you like the idea of the multiverse, and want to know which bits are not completely ridiculous, give this book a read. Andres is out. Peace!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A note about non-fiction

The Life of the Cosmos is a boring book. It is a book made mainly for scientists, about a brand new theory about why the universe is the way it is.
I found out about the book from a Vsauce video about light. It's a cool video, and also has two other books. I would recommend watching it. Micheal does a pretty good job of the explaining the theory.
This post is not about the book, per se. It's about what the book represents: a boring book about science. I just want to put it out there that I don't like all science books, and I only recommend ones that I think are really worth reading.
So, yeah. The Life of the Cosmos. I couldn't get through it. Don't read it.
I just want you to know that, if you are avoiding non-fiction books because you think they are too adult or not interesting or about boring things, you should just give them a chance. At least give Things To Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension a try.
And, hey, even if you don't like that book, there are still lots of interesting non-fiction narrative books like Don't Look Behind You. I'll probably review some of those eventually. Maybe.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


Expedition: being an account in words and artwork of the 2358 A. D. voyage to Darwin IV. That's the title, because I'm not sure you can read it in the tiny font on the picture.
Anyways, Expedition probably has the coolest alien world I've ever seen. That includes Snaiad, and you know how know how much I love OH WAIT YOU DON'T BECAUSE RAMJET STILL HASN'T MADE A SNAIAD BOOK.
Expedition probably has the coolest alien world I've ever seen. It's called Darwin IV (that's a four) and is a self-consistent planet with an odd ecology and a big ol' map. It's unique among alien worlds in that it doesn't try super hard to make the aliens look weird, they just kinda end up that way.
The story is about the author, Wayne Barlowe, who lives in the dying Earth of the 2300s. Most life on earth is dead, and humans have only survived because of their partnership with the Yma, a friendly alien race.
After receiving a mysterious picture of what appears to be an alien from the faster-than-light satellite on Darwin IV, the Yma and the humans prepare an expedition to the planet. The Yma choose Wayne Barlowe as one of the candidates for the expedition, because of his skill at drawing extinct Earth wildlife.
Barlowe is the artist of the crew. That's nice, because the reader isn't bogged down by the biology and geology of Darwin IV, and can just sit back and read Barlowe's stories about encountering these odd creatures.
The book is in six parts, each with a biome of sorts: Grasslands and Plains, Forest and Periphery, Amoebic Sea and Littoral Zone, Mountains, Tundra, and Air. Each of these sections as a few stories about Barlowe's adventures. Most of these adventures involve large wildlife and strange adaptations, and all are SUPER COOL.
I'm not really sure what else to say. Look, if you like what you heard so far, then read the book. It is super expensive, but I think it's worth it. This book. Is good.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Lawless is a fun book. It's about a girl known only as M (which is kinda confusing at the beginning). M is a perfectly normal girl with completely average skills. Okay, that was actually a blatant lie. I mean, look at the cover.
M is recruited (somewhat against her will) to be a student at Lawless, a school whose motto is "sow all the chaos!" (okay, technically it's "Infinitum Chaos Enim," but I've captured their spirit pretty well). Wait. Is it "sow" or "sew"? Sow. But how is it pronounced? Is it sow-like-in-bow or sow-like-in-pew? Wait... are they pronounced the same? that can't be right. Someone broke Google.
Lawless is a school for master criminals, similar to H.I.V.E. in that - wait. Have I never written a post about H.I.V.E.? I need to get on that.
Okay. No more irrelevant tangents allowed. Lawless is a super duper secret school for bad guys, with advanced technology and quirky teachers. M is just thrown into this school, despite the fact that she never even knew that (spoilers) her father was a world-renowned criminal, and her whole life she was groomed to follow his footsteps. I'm pretty sure that is revealed really early, but I don't want to chance it.
At Lawless, M has to make friends she can trust, lie relatively low, and figure out her teachers and mysterious roommate, Zara. And then this whole "heist" dealie shows up. Yeah... things blow up really quickly (mostly figuratively).
The only complaint I have with Lawless is that it is not very good at science. There are very few books that I will say are not good at science, even almost all fantasy and sci-fi, but that bit at the end.... I won't go into detail, but if you have taken Physics 101, you may cringe a bit.
Not that it wasn't cool. Because that was cool.
In conclusion, if you like spy books, high-stakes befriending, and a good mystery-unraveling, this is a good book for you.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Just Six Numbers

This is a book about science. It's about how the universe is the way it is, and why you and I are alive. In my opinion, that's pretty sweet. It does use some big words, but nothing superfluously esoteric (see what I did there?). If this frightens you, you should probably consider coming back when you're older.
Martin Rees' Just Six Numbers is about six numbers in physics and cosmology that don't need to be what they are. In other words, the universe would go on perfectly well with other values for these numbers. These numbers are, in order of appearance:

N: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000: The force of electromagnetism divided by the force of gravity.
ɛ (epsilon): 0.007: The amount of its energy hydrogen loses when converted into helium divided by the amount of energy in hydrogen.
Ω (omega): 0.3: The amount of matter in the universe divided by the amount of matter needed to stop expansion.
λ (lambda): 0.7: The amount of energy in empty space divided by the amount of energy needed to stop expansion.
Q: 0.00001: The energy needed to destroy a supercluster of galaxies divided by the energy of the matter in that supercluster.
D: 3: The number of large (probably infinite) spatial dimensions.

Tada! If that confused you, don't worry, it confused me too. In the book, Martin Rees goes into a lot more detail about the numbers, how we figured them out, and what it would mean if they were different. Really, this is a nerd book for nerds. Unlike Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, it's written for people who know at least a little science (for example: exponents, powers of ten, and the fact that matter is just condensed energy), instead of anyone who can count and has an open mind.
Still, if you know nothing about cosmology, this is a great book to start out with. I only knew about these things in the context of ordinary physics, and Just Six Numbers basically introduced me to the concept of cosmology.
Anyways, I have school tomorrow, so I'll wrap it up: Science. Numbers. The multiverse. Physics. Life. Thermonuclear explosion. Space. If any of these phrases interested you, you'll probably like this book.
I am out. Peace!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Here Where the Sunbeams are Green

This is a book that I have been reading for, like, three months. It's not hard to get through by any means, but I've always been reading some other book, usually a nonfiction book about science. I finally finished this weekend, and it was great.
Here Where the Sunbeams are Green (or "The Sunbeam Book," to it's friends) is a Sweet Little Book with almost as much Capitalization as the Bible. Okay, not really. But it's up there in the capitalization department.
The story is told by Mad, the girl with the brown hair and the ponytail. She, her mom, and her sister, Roo, are flown to La Lava Resort and Spa to meet their father, who is a bird guy. But Mad thinks that something odd has happened to her father, because the last thing he sent her was a Very Strange and Incredibly Creepy Letter. Will she and Roo ever see their father again? Yes. They see him in, like, Chapter 3.
But there are very strange things happening at La Lava. No one is exactly as they seem. Mad and Roo have to choose wisely who they trust, or they will end up in a whole heap of trouble. And, of course, there's the active volcano. That's not good either.
In closing, The Sunbeam Book is a nice story about some friends trying to figure things out and put things right again. It's been a while since I've read one of those books, and it's good to be back. I like most of the characters, and the ending is pretty great. Overall, I give The Sunbeam Book a reminded-me-of-my-love-for-adventure-books-but-still-kept-things-interesting out of 10. Anyone who likes adventures with a dash of fantasy should definitely read this book.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension is, in fact, a book about math. If this makes you flee in terror, then you should probably wait until you're older to read it. Of course, that is true of any book, because it is very difficult to read while fleeing in terror.

This is a very good book, and I think it's very well made. It is written in a way so that you start with easy stuff, and work your way up the ladder of chapters. The first chapter is about counting. Seriously.

Throughout the book, the concepts get more complex, and they all build on each other. The "Tower of chapters" (as in, the way they build on each other) is laid out during the introduction. At the end, Matt talks about infinity, and then steps back to look at all of mathematics, and the reason we do math.

One thing that surprised me when reading the book was how much there was to... well... make and do. Throughout the book, there are little activities that you can try. I do recommend that you actually attempt to do them, because they are all really interesting. For example, as I type, I have interlocking möbius strip hearts on my desk.

This is a great book for you if you like math, arts and crafts, or both. If you consider yourself a math nerd, this is basically a must-have. And, if you don't like math, then I still think you should read it. It turns out that math is, in fact, very interesting. Those "mathematicians" are on to something.

Also, he does say "Maths" instead of "Math". Get used to it.