"The art of life is to deal with problems as they arise, rather than destroy one's spirit by worrying about them too far in advance."

--From Imperium by Robert Harris

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The One with LEGO Harry Potter

336. Title & Author: LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World by Elizabeth Dowsett (93 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction—Other
Completed: 13 November 2015

Summary & Review:
Since 2001, Lego has been manufacturing sets themed on the Harry Potter movies. Ten years later there were over 50 different sets and dozens of minifigures created exploring all the aspects of Potterworld: Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express, the Knight Bus, and Quidditch. This books covers all the sets and minifigures and explains the various changes and modifications that have occurred over the years.

The most interesting part of this book was the final section called, “Beyond the Brick.” Here, the author explained the design, testing, manufacturing, and marketing aspects of the toys. Did you know that there is an elementary school in Billund, Denmark—the hometown of Lego—that sends its students to the company headquarters every Wednesday to test and play with new sets? How cool would that be for a kid!

Rating: 6.5

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The One with The Skinny Rules

335. Title & Author: The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to THIN by Bob Harper (260 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction—Health
Completed: 9 November 2015

Summary & Review:
Trainer Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser presents his twenty simple rules for losing weight and getting healthy. Along with the rules, Harper offers justification and explanation for them to convince the reader they are worth following. He also includes weekly menu plans and dozens of recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I think Bob was my favorite trainer from the show and I’ve used a few of his exercise videos and liked them. I thought the book was short, simple, and full of good advice. What more could you ask for?

Rating: 8.0

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The One with Code of Conduct

334. Title & Author: Code of Conduct by Brad Thor (360 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Thriller
Completed: 1 November 2015

Summary & Review:
Scot Harvath is sent to the Congo to investigate a brutal attack on a charitable medical clinic deep in the jungle. What he finds is much more than a simple rebel or terrorist attack. Instead, he uncovers a plot by a small group of incredibly wealthy and quietly powerful men and women to drastically reduce the global population by unleashing a weaponized African Hemorrhagic Fever virus on the world.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Thor thriller and it was nice to do so again. Like his other books, it was a fun, easy read with a good protagonist and great action. The plot was interesting and terrifying. In our interconnected, globalized world people wouldn’t need to intentionally cause a severe outbreak of a virus. It could easily happen on its own. I think I’ll go wash my hands a few hundred times now…

Rating: 7.5

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The One with Food: A Love Story

333. Title & Author: Food: A Love Story  by Jim Gaffigan (340 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction—Humor
Completed: 24 October 2015

Summary & Review:
Comedian Jim Gaffigan has gained fame through his often food related humor, and in this book he explores his lifelong love affair with food. Over the course of over three hundred pages, Gaffigan examines the regional food specialties across America, expresses his hatred of seafood, and cannily observes the unique food habits of Americans.

This was a very funny book. There were parts that were absolutely hilarious which had me “lol”-ing, as the kids say. But, it really didn’t need to be almost 350 pages. The first two thirds of the book were great—focused and funny. Then, it seemed to drag a bit and kind of become a grab bag of food topics that were only tangentially related. Despite that, it was a very entertaining book and I’ll probably read his other book at some point.

Rating: 7.0

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The One with King Solomon's Mines

332. Title & Author: King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard (292 pages)
Genre: Fiction—Adventure
Completed: 17 October 2015

Summary & Review:
Allan Quatermain has spent the majority of his adult life as an elephant hunter in the wilds of Africa. When is he is asked to join two fellow Englishmen on a quest to find one’s brother, he is at first hesitant, until he hears what the missing man was after: King Solomon’s diamond mines. Their journey will take them through godforsaken deserts, freezing mountains, and into dangerous tribal lands, but will they find the missing man or the diamonds and make it back alive?

This is a type of book that just isn’t written anymore. I guess technology has made the world a lot more accessible so places like the jungles of Africa don’t feel quite as exciting when you can just Google image search them. But, that didn’t affect the fun of this adventure tale at all, in my opinion. It transports the reader to a time that is now lost on an adventure that is no longer possible and does so with action and excitement.

Rating: 7.0

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The One with ¡Adios, America!

331. Title & Author: ¡Adios, America! : The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole by Ann Coulter (280 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction—Politics
Completed: 29 September 2015

Summary & Review:
Immigration is the single most important issue facing America today. But, despite its importance, there are never honest conversations about it. When anyone brings up their opposition to mass third world immigration, accusations of racism are rapidly thrown out and discussion is shouted down. Despite this, Ann Coulter delves into the untouchable subject with her usual mix of humor and wit—and a ton of citations and facts (nearly one hundred pages of them).

Coulter’s position is simple: we need a complete moratorium on immigration and we need it immediately. No halfway, namby-pamby solution will fix the problem. Yes, she means a moratorium on illegal and legal immigration. By the time she presents this solution, she has thoroughly deconstructed the myths that surround immigration and laid bare the facts.

I’ve been in favor of immigration restriction for a long time. People make a culture and a culture makes a nation, so if you change the people you will change the nation. It’s inevitable. Now I’m sure some people don’t see that as a bad thing, or maybe feel like we have a duty let in any impoverished person that wants in, and therefore favor immigration. To me, however, for America to be able to do good in the world America has to exist. With mass immigration of cultures that are not compatible with American culture you are bound to lose the country and the ability to help in the world.

We are not a “nation of immigrations” as we’re so often told. We are, or at least were, a nation founded by incredibly homogenous people with the same language, religion, and culture. I was born here, my parents were, too, as were my grandparents, great grandparents, and great-great grandparents. On one line of my family tree I traced I had to go back to 1740 to find an ancestor who wasn’t American born (and they were born in, big surprise, England). The majority of Americans have similar family histories. Does that really sound like we’re all immigrants? Not to me.

I agree with Coulter that we need a complete moratorium on immigration, a breather, if you will. I’d say for at least ten years. Give the country time to assimilate and incorporate into the nation all the new people who have come to America in the past several decades. Then, we can reopen legal immigration but we should change our criteria for who enters, namely no more family reunification except for spouses and dependent, minor children, and no more H1Bs. And of course, no more birth right citizenship. That’s just insane. We should be able to choose, and be very choosey about, who becomes fellow citizens in our nation and our government should put the needs of the American people first.

Rating: 9.5

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The One with Lego Minifigures Character Encyclopedia

330. Title & Author: Lego Minifigures Character Encyclopedia by DK Books (208 pages)
Genre: Nonfiction—Other
Completed: 30 August 2015

Summary & Review:
The first 10 series of Lego Minifigures are covered in this book. Each minifigure is given a full page with a backstory, explinations of their character and costume, and interesting facts.

One great thing about having a young son is being able to buy and build Legos without feeling childish. The minifigure sets that have been coming out since 2010 are a fun collection that we enjoy keeping up with. This book was a nice chronicling of the first ten sets and I assume a second edition will come out after series 20. My favorite part of the book was the little known facts included with the characters, like which pieces were new or which had been used before with other characters, etc.

Rating: 7.0