Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes. These bonobos, like others of their species, are capable of reason and carrying on deep relationships—but unlike most bonobos, they also know American Sign Language. Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn’t understand people, but animals she gets—especially the bonobos. Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she’s ever felt among humans . . . until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animal rights protesters outside the lab to see what’s really going on inside. When an explosion rocks the lab, severely injuring Isabel and “liberating” the apes, John’s human interest piece turns into the story of a lifetime, one he’ll risk his career and his marriage to follow. Then a reality TV show featuring the missing apes debuts under mysterious circumstances, and it immediately becomes the biggest—and unlikeliest—phenomenon in the history of modern media. Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-out, have generous amounts of sex, and sign for Isabel to come get them. Now, to save her family of apes from this parody of human life, Isabel must connect with her own kind, including John, a green-haired vegan, and a retired porn star with her own agenda.
After a stellar book like Water for Elephants it is hard to follow that up, and I applaud Sara Gruen for actually releasing another book. Water for Elephants has such a following of fans that Gruen had a monumental task in front of her when writing another book. I am happy to say that her attempt was semi-successful. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and it was such a huge book that she decided she could never follow-up with another book. While that is sad because Lee was such a remarkable talent, I think it would have lessened her classic if she had written more.
Now, with that said, I feel that I have to defend Gruen. I read some other reviews on this book and I was getting so frustrated with how many people compared it to Water for Elephants. Yes, it is written by the same author, but it is a completely different story.
First of all, Water for Elephants takes place in the Depression Era while Ape House is smack dab in the middle of our technology-driven, reality-TV thriving time. The characters have obvious differences. And, honestly, the focus is more on the animal element in this book than there was in Water for Elephants. Where the animals are a major backdrop to Water for Elephants they are a pivotal piece in Ape House. Everything hinges on the rescuing of the bonobos from the hands of an ex-porn king producer only concerned with ratings and not the safety and well-being of the apes.
If you judge the two books as completely separate entities it becomes more interesting. Ape House is really an incredible book. Had Gruen written it first, people probably would have liked it more than her previous novel. What I loved about it was that she compares human nature to ape nature, and, what we find, is that there really are more similarities than we would care to admit.
When John Thigpen gets jealous about men staring at her wife at a pool, he mouths "Mine," to them, establishing ownership in a very animalistic way. At the end, when John's wife thinks that he had an affair, she is found cleaning, scrubbing away germs in the bathroom, in a fury. Isabelle is a protective woman who throws food in the face of a man she thinks is partially responsible for the bombing of her ape project. These are just some of the behaviors we see the human characters exhibit. At some points, the apes seem more human than the humans. This, to me, is a stunning insight and Sara Gruen never forces it. She implies it subtly and it works.
What doesn't work, for me, is the story. At times it is unbelievable and, sometimes, contrived. While there are moments of "Woah!" I was never really fully drawn into the story. The problem with having a story where you're also showing the humans as an exhibit is it creates some sort of distance between the reader and the characters which is hard to do right. I know I could never do it in my own writing.
As far as the characters, I actually really liked John Thigpen, but Isabelle is hard to like. Through the whole book she is abrasive and traumatized. Although there are moments where I liked her, she was my least favorite of the cast. John is a victim, however, which bugs me. He just seems to get run over and never really takes control of the situation until the very end. I was pleased when he finally stood up for himself.
My favorite character, by far, was Celia. She was awesome and, if Gruen were to write a book with her as the main character, I would so be there.
So, I judged this book without thinking about Water for Elephants and I found that it still comes up a little short. While it is really good, it isn't spectacular. I do feel smarter for knowing more about the bonobos, but that is about it. That is why I gave it 3 out of 5 bonobos. Here's to hoping that Sara Gruen does not give up and keeps writing because she is truly a remarkable talent in our contemporary literature world.
No, this is not a joke. And this post is not a book review. I was browsing my favorite store in the whole wide world and saw this cover. I find it funny that flowers are so "romantic" and symbolize such because they are decaying plant genitalia. But that is besides the point.
I saw the cover then I saw the name. Now, I have no qualms with Hilary Duff. Actually I really like her music and I think she has managed to be an elegant actress who survived childhood stardom and did not ruin her life with partying and wild ways. Lindsay Lohan should take notes. Duff is smart, and I think that is awesome. I just never pictured her as an author or that she was even inclined that way.
All right, I actually read the premise because I had to see if I wasn't just dreaming. This book is real. Hilary Duff, the original Hannah Montana only Lizzie McGuire, actually wrote a book.
The premise is actually promising and I will probably actually read it. In fact, ever since I left Barnes and Noble I have wondered why I didn't just buy it. It is paranormal romance. She jumped on that bandwagon. But it seems to be a little different which is intriguing to me. So perhaps there will be a book review of it on this blog in the near future.
I like to visualize my characters when I write and the easiest way to do that is to find actors that would best be able to play them were they to make a movie of the book. Tonight I was watching Kick Ass (an awesome movie, btw, I am a total fan).
For a long time I had a hard time figuring out who could play Grady simply because there are not very many red-headed actors out there. Then I got to thinking that it did not really matter. The actor could just dye his hair. So I started to look at actors with the same features that I picture minus the red hair.
Here is what I came up with:
1. Penn Badgley
Penn is a great choice for Grady. He has the mop of curly hair, a sense of style, and the ladies love him. While Grady is not necessarily the main heartthrob of the book, he does have a certain appeal that must be present. He has been in Easy A, Gossip Girl, and Forever Strong.
2. Anton Yelchin
I think Anton is a really great actor. He has proven himself to be very versatile and I really don't think an Irish accent would be a hard thing for him to pull off. He's got the look with the wild curls and the square jaw and light-colored eyes. Yelchin has been in Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, and Charlie Bartlett.
3. Aaron Johnson
The reason I brought up Kick Ass at the beginning of the post is because, as I was watching Aaron Johnson, I kept seeing Grady in him. There is even a scene in the movie where his hair looks slightly red and I was all excited. His breakout movie was Kick Ass, but he has a lot of films under his belt such as Nowhere Boy and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.
You're probably thinking "Jake, they all look the same." Maybe so. They have similar features, but I think each actor would be able to bring a different Grady to the table. Who would you prefer to see as Grady? Any of my top three? Someone else you think is better? Let me know.
Last Friday I had an awesome date. It took some meticulous planning and preparation for this event and I think it actually paid off.
I took a girl from my branch named Heidi. My friend, Tyler, took a girl he met on an American and Church history tour named Ali. And then Michael and Lacey came as well.
We had this little shin-dig at my house. I picked up Heidi around seven (she knows of my chronic condition that is called tardiness, I swear it is a growing problem these days). We came back to my house where we met up with the other two couples.
Randomly, when Mike and Lacey arrived, my aunt and uncle who live in Utah had followed them to our driveway, so when we answered the door, I was pretty surprised. They stayed long enough to leave a note for my parents and then they left.
Once we got situated we took off to Broulim's grocery store and got some pumpkins and candles. We took those pumpkins home and got to the business of carving while we baked some Papa Murphy's pizzas of deliciousness.
Our pumpkin, we decided, was going to be a pirate. Fred the Pirate Pumpkin. Complete with eye patch and bandanna.
Fred the Pirate Pumpkin in all his glory.
Mike and Lacey's pumpkin was fun but I never got a picture of it. They did a sort of goofy faced one.
Tyler and Ali's pumpkin was pretty sweet. See for yourself.
I love its huge mouth!
After carving pumpkins (or, rather, while Heidi and I were finishing our masterpiece) Tyler and Ali made apple cider. We had some pizza then drank the cider which was fantastic. Tyler had even bought cinnamon sticks we could stir our cider with. After that we lit our pumpkins and took pictures.
Mike and Lacey left after the light show. Tyler, Ali, Heidi, and I went downstairs and played Blurt! which is an awesome game. If you have not played it, check it out.
Hadjii and I took Heidi home. It was one of the best dates I've had in a long time.
This morning we lost a very special person. Her name is Patty, and she lived in Arcadia, FL where I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was near the end of my mission and Arcadia was known around the mission as being a harder area. Even amidst our struggles as missionaries the members were awesome there. Miss Patty was not afraid to share the gospel with all of her friends. We could all take a page out of her book.
Pictured above is an amazing couple. Ernest and Patty got married and he was baptized a member of the church in 2004. It was because of Patty's fearless love of Christ that Ernest got interested in the church.
During my time there we experienced a hurricane, Charley, that devastated the little town of Arcadia. I have never been through anything like it. For a few weeks we served the people by bringing them food and helping them with other needs. Even through all of this Miss Patty remained diligent, positive, and happy even through all of that.
Patty was such a great example to all of us of just being a good person. When I think of my time in Arcadia I think mostly of her because she was such a big part of everything we did there. She will be missed but we will all get to see her again. I love the gospel and how we can know that we will see our family again after death. Miss Patty no longer has the restrictions of a physical body even though she never made her ailments an issue. She was the most positive person I have ever met even though she was bound to a scooter. Such a fantastic example of pure Christlike love. She is one of those people who affects lives just by knowing her.
We will miss you, Miss Patty! We know, though, that you are in a better place that is brighter and happier and that the Lord has use for you and your sweet spirit. Love you and rest in peace.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother in Victorian England, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she has the power to transform at will into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. She soon finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and Will, whose volatile moods keep everyone at arm's length. As their search draws them deep into a plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. (Book Description on front and back flaps)
I absolutely loved The Mortal Instruments trilogy. It introduced me to a world of Shadowhunters, angels, demons, warlocks, and fairies all in the bustling streets of New York City. The characters in those books are delightful, strong, and funny and the plot and the action never ceases.
When I first found out that Clare was going to write a prequel to the MI trilogy, I cringed. Prequels are hard to do right. Further, when I read the plot for the first book Clockwork Angel I could not help but see the similarities between the MI trilogy and the Infernal Devices. Mostly in the characters.
Tessa and Clary: Change Clary into a tall, dark-haired girl from New York living in Victorian England and you get Tessa. They are both strong characters, but I seemed to like Clary more than I did Tessa despite their obvious similarities. Oh and both are helplessly attracted to the guy that treats them like dirt.
Will and Jace: Dye Jace's hair black and turn his eyes blue and put him in Victorian England's suits and you get Will. Granted, Will has an English accent, but they both have the sarcastic sense of humor, the tortured past, and an undeniable attraction to a girl they should not be attracted to. While Jace chooses to be in love with a girl that just might be his sister, Will shows an attraction to a Downworlder.
Jem and Alec: Turn Alec into an albino and you get Jem. However, Jem is much more likable a character than Alec is. Both, though, are the trusted friend above all else to the bad boy. The twist in this is that Jem also likes Tessa where Alec actually is somewhat in love with Jace. So many love triangles my head is spinning.
Jessamine and Isabelle: Both are gorgeous girls who do not want to be Shadowhunters. Their determination is to be normal. Again, though, I liked Isabelle more than Jessamine who is so unbelievably selfish that you just want to reach through the pages and strangle her where Isabelle has a few more redeeming qualities.
All in all I think the characters in MI are more likable. The characters in Clockwork Angel seem like carbon copies of Clare's previous characters that I had grown to love.
Now that I have said that I must say that, despite all these things, I still enjoyed the book. I love Clare's writing. Some people get bored with her descriptions. I remember reading City of Bones and just being amazed because it seemed like her words just jumped off the pages and pulled me into another world. Each word was sparkling with imagery and magic. This book has some of that same flavor but it is not as prevalent. It felt a little more stripped down and uncomfortable at times. There were moments I kept thinking "This is Victorian England. I don't think they would really be talking like this." But Clare has managed to modernize Victorian England in a pleasing way.
I gave it 4 out of 5 automatons simply because it lacked the same luster that the other series did. The writing was not as good. I almost gave it 3.5 but what Clare lacked in originality she made up with the introduction of clockwork creatures and being brave enough to make a story in Victorian England that feels like it could be happening anytime. I am still a huge fan of Cassandra Clare and I look forward to the next installment in this trio as well as the second trilogy in her Mortal Instruments series.
Warning: This book review contains spoilers. If you have not read the book, please proceed with caution. Or come back and read it after you have read the book.
I am running a book club on Facebook and this was the choice for the month of October. Every time I saw it at good ol' Barnes and Noble I picked it up and looked at it but, for some reason or another, always put it back. I don't know why I do that because I always end up getting it eventually anyway. For the most part I was excited to finally read it.
The beginning is rough and hard to plow through. At least it was for me. All this background information that is told in a pretty mundane manner fills the first few chapters. I am not going to lie, I was about ready to give up on it.
Lisbeth Salander is the saving grace of the book. Well, I perked up whenever she came on the scene at the beginning of the book simply because she was not acting like a whipped dog like Mikael Blomkvist was. But she really is an interesting character. Some of the stuff that Larsson explains about her past is a little unbelievable (how can someone be so beaten down?) but I quickly gained sympathy for her where I had a hard time feeling bad for Blomkvist because he was a little whiny at the beginning.
Once the story gets going it really gets going. I loved the intensity as Blomkvist and Salander uncover clues. They make a perfect team too. She is an asocial genius hacker and he is intuitive and a good journalist. One thing I do like about Blomkvist is that he's the muscle that doesn't act like the muscle. There is more to him than his sex appeal as he proves with every turn of the investigation.
While I am on the topic of Blomkvist...His relationship with Erika Berger is, while interesting, somewhat unsettling. I have a hard time liking a character that has such an open and relaxed sexual relationship with a woman. And then he sleeps with Cecilia. Random. And, even more random, he sleeps with Salander. He is more man-whore than anything.
This was my initial response but, after thinking about it, I realized that all of these characters interweave nicely.
This book is mostly about violence and abuse toward women in all of its forms. The most significant one is rape obviously. Lisbeth Salander, Harriet Vanger, and several other women in the story (most just mentioned as past cases) suffer from abuse by the hand of a man.
One of the interesting aspects about all of this is their reactions. Harriet chooses to flee the situation. Lisbeth Salander chooses to return the violence tenfold. She fights back and chooses not to be a victim anymore. Not only with her attack on her attacker but also with her ability to hack into other peoples' lives. What I liked was that the hacking was compared to rape as well. Essentially, Salander rapes the men. This, to me, is the best form of revenge she can take. She despises Harriet for running away and, by doing so, letting other women become victims of her family's sick ways.
Lisbeth Salander, like I said, is the saving grace of the novel. I tend to feel that, once Larsson got out Blomkvist and Salander's background information at the beginning he was able to let the characters really come to life. Salander's dialogue, especially at the end, is entertaining. At one point I thought of them as Bones and Booth on Bones because of the nice exchanges in dialogue.
While this book is entertaining because the plot has endless twists and turns, the writing leaves something to be desired. There is a lot of telling and no showing. I like to think a lot of this has to do with the translation from Swedish to English, so I am not going to be too harsh about that. Once you get used to the straight-forward and tell-it-like-it-is style that Larsson engages, then you move along with the story pretty nicely.
I gave this 3.5 out of 5 facial piercings simply because of the rough start. It would have gotten a 4 or 4.5 if it had a better start and the writing wasn't so rigid.
Inspiration comes in the weirdest places. I was at work one day and I saw the cover of a new book that had a rainbow on it. I recognized the place the picture was taken: Hawaii. For the second book in the Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series I wanted Olivia to go to an exotic/tropical locale. For the longest time I thought Florida would be great, but now I am going to have her go to Hawaii.
Hawaii is The Rainbow State, right? So that just makes the whole leprechaun thing even greater.
Basically, Olivia is going to be chasing rainbows in Hawaii.
That's all I'm going to say.
This is a short post, but I just had to say that today is October 10, 2010 aka 10-10-10! Make a wish at 10:10 AM or PM because this will not happen again in our lifetimes unless we live to be over 100 years old and that is not likely.
I went to the mall tonight. For those that know me, they know that when I say that it usually means that I actually only went to Barnes and Noble and did not, in fact, see any other part of the mall. While this is usually true, tonight I went for the sole purpose of not going to Barnes and Noble. Sad day. Mark it on your calendar because it is a rarity for sure.
Instead of going to my beloved book store I went to JCPenney where I found this amazing deal on dress shirts. Who can beat $20.00 for a nice new white shirt? I know I couldn't. So I had to purchase.
After my JCPenney find I was in a shopping mood so I meandered on down to American Eagle which has quickly become a favorite clothes shopping place of mine. I found a new pair of pants for $20.00 and a couple new shirts. I was on a roll.
I still had time to kill so I decided I would browse around Barnes and Noble, figuring that with the time constraint I would be ok and not spend money on books I do not need.
Well, I browsed around and was about to leave but then I remembered that a new book by James Dashner had come out, so I wanted to see if I could just look at it. So I went back to the teen fiction section. There I saw my cousin, Brandon, and his newly-turned-twenty-year-old wife, Brittany. (They are a cute little couple I might add.)
I got to talking to them.
Brandon: We're looking for a book.
Me: What book is it?
Me: Oh! By Jodi Picoult?
Brittany: Yeah! That is the name!
Me: It's over here. (I quickly busted into retail, bookstore, customer service mode, walked down to the Fiction and Literature section and walked directly to the Jodi Picoult section and handed them The Pact.)
Brandon and Brittany were indeed impressed with my ability to just walk right to a book. We were talking about Terry Goodkind's amazing Sword of Truth series then they shared their plans for the evening where they would be celebrating Brittany's birthday. I told them I was going to see The Town and proceeded to tell them that it was adapted from a book. I really don't know why I was spouting off all this needless information, but I just grabbed the book right off the shelf and showed it to them.
Again, they were impressed. I played it off as...
"I never spend any time in here. I don't know what you're talking about."
In case all the book reviews on this blog were not enough evidence I am going to confess right now: I am a book nerd. Barnes and Noble is, indeed, one of my favoritest places in the world.
I purchased the bulb for it. Got an extra one so that, in case another one decided to go out, I would be prepared. I had issues getting that one fixed so it was delayed in getting done.
A few days later I drove to Blackfoot for the Eastern Idaho State Fair. On the way back I got pulled over. The cop did not cite me for the light even though that was the reason he stopped me. No. He got me for not having my updated insurance to present to him. Lame.
I was given a couple weeks to put in my proof of insurance. I procrastinated and did not get it in until a day late. Oops on my part.
They sent me a letter saying "Hey, you missed this so you have to appear in court or pay this fine or else your license will be suspended." Oh crap.
So I got right on that and called them. They got my fax of my insurance. The next day they called and said that my case had been dismissed and that everything was fine. I would not have my license suspended nor would I have to pay anything.
Great! I was relieved but something kept niggling at the back of my brain with this feeling that it was not all good.
Lo and behold today I get a letter in the mail saying my license was suspended. WTF?
So I called the peeps. They said "Oh it was just sent out before they dismissed your ticket."
Just to cover my butt I called the Idaho Transportation Department in Boise. They said essentially the same thing.
I hate how this little thing has blown up into a huge thing. Granted, I should not have procrastinated, but they made me feel like a criminal for not having it in. I am a law-abiding citizen. Get up off me!
So if I end up in jail because they didn't have their stuff together, let this be proof and documentation of what happened on my side of the story. I swear...Don't waste your time on me, all you law-folk. Go find some drug deals to bust.
Jake Taylor graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He is the author of The Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series. He is also an avid reader, traveler, movie-watcher, and music lover. He currently serves in the US Navy and is stationed in San Diego, CA.