nonfiction

Book Review: The Smartphone Photography Guide by Peter Cope

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Title: The Smartphone Photography Guide
Author: Peter Cope
Publisher: Carlton Books
Length: 256 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: 2 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Thanks to our smartphones, we’ve all become camera-carrying photographers, able to snap a photo whenever and wherever we want. But how can we realize the full potential of this powerful tool? Complete with “Pro Tips,” “Try This” panels, jargon-buster explanations of technical terms, and advice on video settings, this smart guide will help you take, create, manipulate, and share your phone images like an expert.

Review:
I saw this at a bookfair my work had to help benefit a charity. I bought it so long ago that I can’t really remember what charity it was but I wanted to support it and this seemed interesting. I’m going to be real (as per usual, honestly) and say that I think this book was written for people who didn’t grow up with technology.

At the ripe age of 22, this book was boring and didn’t really tell me much that I didn’t already know. The majority of this book is spent explaining how photography and editing apps on phones work and how a phone camera differs from a regular camera. I was so bored most of the time.

The section of the book focusing on getting good angles and understanding how to photograph were plagued with the same details about smartphones and apps that were stated in the first half of the book so it was also very redundant.

Some parts of the writing felt downright condescending in the way it was worded or what was said. My least favorite thing about nonfiction books is the tendency for the writing to feel like the author is talking down to me and this book did that a lot.

I didn’t enjoy this book and I didn’t learn anything from it. However, if you aren’t very familiar with phones or apps this book might be for you.

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Biography, nonfiction

Book Review: The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester

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Title: The Amazing Book is Not on Fire
Author: Dan Howell and Phil Lester
Publisher: Ebury Press
Length: 224 pages, Hardback
Genre: Non-fiction, Humor, Autobiography
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Hello reader,

In this book is a world. A world created by two awkward guys who share their lives on the internet!

We are Dan and Phil and we invite you on a journey inside our minds! From the stories of our actual births, to exploring Phil’s teenage diary and all the reasons why Dan’s a fail.

Learn how to draw the perfect cat whiskers, get advice on what to do in an awkward situation and discover which of our dining chairs represents you emotionally. With everything from what we text each other, to the time we met One Direction and what really happened in Vegas…

Review:
As usual I am bearing my soul for this blog. I’ll just come out and say it, I am a Youtube Junkie. Seriously. I’m so glad Youtube got rid of the thing on the original profiles that told people how many youtube videos a person has watched because mine would be embarassingly high. That being said, a lot of Youtubers are coming out with books (I reviewed Zoella’s young adult novel here) and I couldn’t resist picking this one up when I saw considering how much I love Danisnotonfire and AmazingPhil. They are so funny and relatable. Their youtube videos almost always pull me out of a bad mood.

My love for them is why it pains me to say what I’m about to say. It wasn’t that great.

Hear me out. I did really enjoy reading this. It was like their Youtube videos in book format and why wouldn’t a certified Youtube addict and bibliophile love a mash up of her two favorite things. However, this book was a little bit too much of their Youtube content.

I feel like several pieces of the book were just their videos converted to text format and given cute typography and graphic design. It definitely doesn’t help that to advertise said book they made Youtube videos of the pages that weren’t already Youtube videos.

Before reading this, I had hoped to learn more about them as people. Granted there was some of that, there wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted. If I wasn’t already a fan of them, I wouldn’t have read past the first 20 pages.

My conclusion, in all honesty, is that only people who already like them should get the book and I’d suggest not trying to read it cover to cover like I did.

nonfiction, Podcast

Podcast Review: Reply All by Gimlet Media

I’ve recently become obsessed with podcasts and I wanted to do a review of my favorite. (I might review others if this goes over well, we’ll see.)

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Title: Reply All
Hosts: Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt
Producer: Gimlet Media
Length: Typically 30-40 minutes
Genre: Non-fiction, Technology
Rating: 5 Mics (Folded pages just didn’t quite work for this one)

Summary (Courtesy of the Gimlet Website):
Reply All is a show about the internet, hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. The show launched in 2014. We publish new episodes on Wednesday nights.

Our show is downloaded around 2 million times per month. If you are new to the show, you can start from the beginning, or try a few of these episodes which we like a lot.

Review:
I never used to be one for podcasts (or audiobooks on a related note) but in September a blog I follow on Tumblr recommended this podcast. It was described as a show about the internet and it intrigued me. I listened to about 30 episodes in one sitting. This is my first time doing a podcast review so please me if it’s a little rough.

I think what captivated me first was PJ Vogt’s voice. He has a voice that you kind of want to listen to forever. It’s soothing and smooth. It makes you want to listen. Alex Goldman also has a nice voice but something about PJ’s voice reminds me of Danny from Game Grumps and I also really like his voice.

The chemistry between the two hosts is also great. They play well off each other and you can tell that they are more than just co-hosts to each other. They’re friends and they love what they do. I’m not sure why but I’m always incredibly happy when I listen/read/watch projects by people when you can tell how much they love it.

It only took two episodes to realize the stories they talk about are the kind of stories I want to hear about. So while PJ’s voice captured me and I loved the hosts’ chemistry, their stories are why I’m still obsessed over 4 months later. I think I would consider this is journalistic kind of podcast. They find weird, interesting, funny, romantic, or all of the above stories on the internet and give you a summary mixed in with them interviewing the people who are involved in said stories.

Now, I don’t think it’s any secret that I pretty much live on the internet. There usually isn’t something I haven’t heard of and the amazing thing is that of all the stories they’ve reported in the 56 episodes they have released thus far I have only heard of one. It makes me incredibly happy when there’s a new thing on the internet that can give me new information. The stories are all incredibly unique and they somehow know where to find them.

The music used in the show is also very good. I tend to get the jingles stuck in my head. But I think the feel of the intro music totally matches the theme of the show. With a theme like technology/internet, it’s a feat well accomplished.

I’m not sure my review is really doing this podcast justice. I also don’t really know what else to comment on. So please find a few of my favorite episodes below!

Episode 1: An App Sends A Stranger To Say “I Love You” 
I know it’s a little cliche but this episode is still probably my all time favorite. I think this episode totally encompasses everything this show is about. It’s hilarious, somewhat emotional, and just an interesting story.

Episode 3: We Know What You Did
This one was SUPER interesting. No spoilers, but I learned so much from this. I definitely suggest giving it a listen.

Episode 13: Love is Lies
This is bar far my favorite episode. It was just SO intriguing and you kind of learn the inside on something everyone is curious about but no one (Americans, at least) have so little knowledge about in the general public.

Biography, graphic novel, nonfiction

Graphic Novel Review: Persepolis: The Story of Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

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Title: Persepolis: The Story of Childhood
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Translator: Mattis Ripa
Publisher: Pantheon
Length: 160 pages, Paperback
Genre: Autobiography, Graphic Novel
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Review:
I’ve been putting off this review mostly because of laziness but also because I’m not sure what to say. This book is so emotional and I wasn’t sure I could review it like I normally do graphic novels based on art and storyline and what not.

Personally, the art style isn’t for me but this isn’t the type of graphic novel you read because the artwork is pretty. The art style reflects that of the story and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It befits what Satrapi is trying to portray to the reader.

As for the storyline, there were times where I was confused and wished for the details I would have gotten had this not been a graphic novel but the details of the pictures were also very helpful.

Overall, I LOVED reading this. I’ve already ordered the second graphic novel and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

nonfiction

Book Review: A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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Title: A Really Short History of Nearly Everything
Author: Bill Bryson
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Length:176, Hardback
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Bill Bryson’s own fascination with science began with a battered old school book he had when he was about ten or eleven years old. It had an illustration that captivated him–a diagram showing Earth’s interior as it would look if you cut into it with a large knife and removed about a quarter of its bulk. The idea of lots of startled cars and people falling off the edge of that sudden cliff (and 4,000 miles is a pretty long way to fall) was what grabbed him in the beginning, but gradually his attention turned to what the picture was trying to teach him: namely that Earth’s interior is made up of several different layers of materials, and at the very centre is a glowing sphere of iron and nickel,
as hot as the Sun’s surface, according to the caption. And he very clearly remembers thinking: “How do they know that?”

Bill’s storytelling skill makes the “How?” and, just as importantly, the “Who?” of scientific discovery entertaining and accessible for all ages. He covers the wonder and mystery of time and space, the frequently bizarre and often obsessive scientists and the methods they used, and the mind-boggling fact that, somehow, the universe exists and against all odds, life came to be on this wondrous planet we call home.

Review:
This book took me SO long to finish. Honestly, I started it the last week or so of July and finished it the last week of September. Nonfiction has always been hard for me and is generally a genre I stay away from. This book was nice but definitely not my favorite.

I loved the way it was written. Bryson’s writing is witty and entertaining but he still packs tons of information into relatively small paragraphs. The book was also not what I expected. I thought it would be more about historical events and less about science. But the majority of the book was a history of science and how it’s advanced.

The illustrations in the book were gorgeous though and I found most of the time when I was getting annoyed with the info dump I was receiving the images on the page could help to make up for it.

Still I’m glad I read the book and it gave me some interesting facts to dish out in conversations so I can’t say it was time wasted. I just wish it didn’t take me so long to push through.