tiktok made me buy another book…

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Young adult, games, survival, fiction. 

Rating 8/10

Scarlett writes to this Legend who is in charge of the infamous Caraval. It is a game where people compete for a prize at the end. Scarlett is about to be married off to a suitor her dad chose for her and doesn’t really want to do it other than take her sister away from their very abusive father. Scarlett was given tickets to go to the Caraval and at the same time her sister, Tella, went missing. Scarlett decides to go with Julian, a man who her sister was seeing, into the game to find her sister or else something bad will happen to her sister. This game makes everyone question if it is just a game or reality. 

I saw this book on book tok, a part of tiktok that is dedicated to bibliophiles, and was intrigued by the plot. I didn’t put this book down because of how it kept me intrigued with the story of how Scarlett was trying to survive Caraval plus saving her sister. There was simplicity and yet complexities to this novel. I couldn’t help but to finish this book in one sitting. This is sort of like the Hunger Games meets circus minus the teenagers being thrown into a fight but rather fleshing out parts of people and sides of people that they themselves didn’t know existed. Overall this was a small book and easy to indulge.

this wasn’t easy but a good read

Once There Were Wolves – Charlotte McConaghy 

Wolves, contemporary, survival, fiction.

Rating 9/10

Inti and her sister Maggie go to Scotland to help bring back the wolf population. She knows that there will be a lot of opposing ideas towards it but this is to save the environment. As she is helping to integrate the wolves into the environment a farmer is found dead. All fingers are pointing at her. She has to come to terms with her trauma and deal with what’s going on around her.

This was sort of hard to read but really good. The main character has this condition that she doesn’t name throughout the novel other than she can see emotions through touch. There were scenes that were very interestingly graphic and vivid. I was slightly disappointed with the size of this novel. I had expected a bit more but that’s fine. This was a one sitting read and I do appreciate the one sitting type reads. 

i love werewolves

Bitten – Kelley Armstrong

Werewolves, fantasy, survival, fiction.

Rating 10/10

Elena is a pretty normal woman except she is a werewolf. She tries to live normally with humans even though the person who turned her prefers her to be with her own kind, she prefers normalcy. Having a human boyfriend in the city as well as a job there too screams normal. Clayton, her ex that turned her into a werewolf, calls her demanding her to come talk to him, so she leaves town to talk to him. There is a problem in Stonehaven, a couple of mutts running around causing havoc. they need her and the rest of the pack to hunt down the mutt. Jeremy, the leader, formulates a plan with the pack on how to catch the mutt that has been causing problems in that town. They find out who the mutt is, and this mutt had been turning people into werewolves, very bad people. Another pack comes in to help create peace and get rid of the dangerous mutts. Elena faces a fight of her life that would make her choose between two worlds she is apart of. Either return to her human life or stay at Stonehaven.

I love the fact that this novel had a strong female character who can take on challenges on her own. I had read this novel in middle school and fell in love with the main character. I had to return to this novel to reread because I loved this novel so much. Even as a werewolf she is pretty awesome. I wanted to make this as PG because I don’t fully know my audience so its safe to keep some information out. Besides, I don’t want to spoil too much because the reader should read for themselves the book because I think this novel doesn’t get enough attention. I did realize there is a series adaptation on Netflix, but I am not big on watching television much. This novel has great writing that is a balance of action and dialogue.

An In-depth Breakdown and Thoughts

Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton

Science fiction, genetics, technology, dinosaurs, survival, fiction.

Dr. Carter finds someone bringing to her a person who was injured by a supposed construction accident, but she knows that the man who was carrying the injured person was covering up the real story with a lie. Dr. Carter knew that this young injured man was mauled by an animal. This was an incident that occurred offshore of Costa Rica, disclosed island, that was beginning the workings of what is to become Jurassic Park. Dr. Carter knew something was wrong and that the young man who died was defending himself. Nonetheless she didn’t pursue more information in regards of the accident. As we see here, there is existence of the island being worked on, but not to the nearly full completion that we see later in the novel. One of the present issues was the fact of this raptor attack proved them dangerous and potentially lead for their enclosure to have added security including electrical fences and higher walls. No one suspects nothing of importance with this incident.

Another dinosaur related incident occurs. Mike Bowman, his wife, and daughter go on vacation in Costa Rica and decided to find a secluded beach. His wife, Ellen, doesn’t think it is a good idea. Ellen has the right idea because going off trail to a secluded area that isn’t marked is a bad idea. Mike allows his daughter to go roam and discusses with his wife that she would be alright. The daughter goes to another part of the beach and lays down. She hears noises and then sees this lizard creature on its hind legs. She remains calm until it attacks her along with other lizard creatures. The father and mother come and find her then proceed to take her to the nearest hospital for treatment. The doctors tell her and her parents that it’s just a lizard, but the little girl swears that it was a dinosaur. Later that day, the doctor who treated her found a howler monkey partially eating the lizard. The doctor goes and darts the monkey with a tranquilizer and takes the specimen to send to a lab. Once that was received in the lab, the lab marks it as just another lizard, but one person, Alice Levin, believes that it is in fact a dinosaur.

This dinosaur related incident goes unnoticed, just as another animal attack, nonetheless. However, the two incidences involving some sort of animal doesn’t send any high alerts nor suspicion of something greater happening. Except the flaw of trying to create and maintain an island full of dinosaurs that the public isn’t aware about. What was going on? Why isn’t no one looking into these occurrences? Likely answer is the fact of not enough awareness to raise suspicion. Little concerns are silenced.

Alan Grant, a paleontologist, is at a dig cite with Ellie Sattler who is a paleobotanist specialist. A visitor shows up, Bob Morris to discuss some crucial information in regards of their cite and whose been funding their field research.  After their discussion they received an x-ray from a lab wanting Grant and Sattler to look over what species it is, and both are astonished. It’s a dinosaur no question. Alice Levin calls them to tell them of their finding prior to the fax of the x-ray. John Hammond calls Alan Grant and extends an invitation to come visit, as well to provide funding for their dig cite, to the island that he and InGen has been working on. Alan and Ellie agree to go and a few days later they get information in regards of the island they are about to go on. Hammond arrives to pick them up and they head towards Costa Rica.

Biosyn, a rival company to InGen, hears news of what InGen has been working on. Lewis Dodgson explains that John Hammond is a genius for creating this island full of dinosaurs, it would make bank because of the popularity and the downside is the patenting of dinosaur DNA usage. Once the patent goes through, no one can make dinosaurs, only InGen. Dodgson has an idea to find a way to collect DNA to replicate these dinosaurs and create their own park. Dodgson goes to a café to meet this guy, Dennis Nedry to hire him for the extraction job and plans to pay him handsomely to collect the dinosaur DNA. This works out because Nedry works at the island and can easily get the dinosaur DNA and no one would have suspected a thing. The deal has been made and Dodgson hopes that this goes well.

Returning back to Hammond, Sattler, Grant, and Malcolm are on the island and allows them to get situated in their living space that they will be getting to at some point after the tour. Hammond has his grandchildren; Tim and Lex, come to stay at the island. They meet a man who was to be their tour guide for the rest of the day, Ed Regis. Ed takes the group to do a tour of the laboratory that Doctor Wu tells them how they were able to find dinosaur DNA and be able to analyze and clone to recreate these dinosaurs. They found blood sucking insects, mosquitos, trapped in amber. They extract all DNA inside the insect and have the DNA coded onto the computer. The computer tells them the missing pieces and what can be supplemented due to an algorithm. The scientists find what they need and supplement the DNA. Wu takes them into the other lab that is in charge of the nursing part of the recreating dinosaurs which involved eggs and hatching. They get to see a baby velociraptor being hatched before leaving. Wu tells them that the dinosaurs on the island can’t reproduce because they are all female. What is neglected to be aware of that they used frog DNA which frogs allow themselves to change sexes to ensure reproduction. After that, the guests are to go on a tour of the actual park itself. They get into a vehicle that will guide them remotely throughout the park while a computer inside has a narrator to tell them the different sorts of dinosaurs there are in the park as well as information about each dinosaur and how many are on the island in total plus subtotal of each dinosaur on the island.

Meanwhile, Wu talks to Hammond about domesticating a version of the dinosaurs that are on the island and Hammond doesn’t want that because it feels too fake in his opinion. The group travel from each part of the park leading up to a stop at the tyrannosaurus rex enclosure. Dennis Nedry presets a virus that would shut down the park long enough for him to grab the dinosaur DNA and leave the island unnoticed. That is when the park goes into chaos that Dr. Malcolm predicted earlier when discussing his chaos theory. The security fences and electric wires are off which means anything can happen. Urgency to go retrieve the park visitors and bring them to safety is a must order. Especially since they are right next to the tyrannosaurus rex enclosure.

For the rest of the novel, it is just survival and trying to maintain safety of primarily the children. Protecting them and each other from the main threat, velociraptors and other carnivorous dinosaurs present on the island. One of the issues is power that was turned off at the park which someone has to go turn on the power after everyone is in a safe and secured spot of the island away from danger. Ellie goes to the power box building and attempts to restore power to the island. Immediately power is restored, and security is restored as well. They call for help and get the help they need to escape the island. All are shaken up and glad to be off of the island. The lesson that remains, never tamper with genetics of animals that have been long extinct. Playing god has its consequences and this was the result.

I love this novel because the author proposes the idea and tests the idea in such a way that educates the reader that recreating dinosaurs is not as easy and overly complicated idea it is. There are too much at risk and too much variables to consider when thinking of recreating dinosaurs. I did do the review, but my thoughts are still the same. I love this novel and the whole science fiction ideas that are executed inside the novel and the way it plays out. I have to say the novel is better than the films but sometimes re-watching the film series is just as good as the books.

Life Changing Journey

The Perfect Predator: A Scientists Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Disease – Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson

Disease, life altering, life threatening, survival, nonfiction.

Rating 9/10

While on vacation, Steffanie and her husband Thomas, were having a great time and enjoying themselves. Unluckily her husband had contracted a disease that was not easily treatable at first. Further into the story, they go to hospitals and this disease that was contracted was untreatable and this was going to end with her husband possibly dying. All was a race to survive this disease but along the way, Steffanie never felt less of her husband nor left his side. She stayed by his side through thick and thin.

I found this nonfiction book to be very compelling as well as a page turner. My heart swelled and I had gotten goosebumps throughout reading this work. I thought, at first, that this was going to be bland and boring. I was happy I was wrong about my speculations of this work. I do recommend to read this nonfiction work if one is intrigued to hear survival stories and other accounts of survival told through other’s perspectives. This helped gained some knowledge but as a warning, do not self-diagnose and go see a doctor, no matter what the condition may be.

An Incredible Survival Tale

A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After – Brittani Louise Taylor

Survival, dating apps, human trafficking victim and survivor, memoir, nonfiction.

Rating 10/10

YouTube personality, Brittani Louise Taylor, shares how her innocent Tinder date that led to her and her baby son, Rex, to be involved in some sort of human trafficking scheme in a romance gone wrong. Taylor met Milos on Tinder and they both were mutually interested in each other. As time progressed, they became closer and she allowed him to move in with her. Even though she did not want anything to do with him, but nonetheless he persisted and pursued her. Her and Milos had ups and downs like any other relationship. Things immediately took a dark turn when Taylor found out she was pregnant with Milos’s child. The mother of Milos was being utterly creepy and terrifying, Taylor had to put her foot down and told Milos he and his mother had to leave the house. When Milos came back, he said he had some form of cancer, pulling the ultimate scam to make Taylor feel utterly sorry for him until she saw a flaw in his very lame lie. She had to break up with him and take Rex with her. The police had to get involved after an incident and Milos landed in jail. She found out the hard way that she and her son were about to be human trafficking victims but survived without going through the horrors.

I am a fan of the YouTuber Brittani Louise Taylor and had always loved her unique style and form of entertainment she produced on that platform. I had always wondered about how mysterious her videos became to be and this was the answer in the form of a memoir. I had seen also Shane Dawson’s conspiracy video he included her in, and I had cried. I feel so bad that such an amazing human being went through this. I am glad that she, her mom, and Rex are safe and sound. No one should ever go through that. Be careful whenever one is looking for a date on these dating apps. It can go south easily.

Cult Survivor Tale

After the Fire – Will Hill

Cults, survival, psychology, thrilling, suspense, young adult fiction.

Rating 10/10

Moonbeam, a survivor from a cult of the name, Lord’s Legion recounts her daily life leading up to the Fire incident with a psychiatrist. As time progresses, Moonbeam learns to trust those around her who are helping her recover from the incident. She also learns of the orphaned survivors and how they first got help like she did as well as given to loving homes. Moonbeam tells the psychiatrist that she caused all the chaos. No punishments given. Freedom and happiness were given to Moonbeam.

I really love the whole strength of Moonbeams character and how she got guts to do what she did. This young adult novel surprised me in the end. It was very well written and thought into as far as I can tell. I would recommend this novel for sure. It is very detailed and descriptive. There are two alternating segments of this book that is very organized that defines Moonbeam sharing her experiences to the psychiatrist and what she does after the sessions as well as her interactions with other characters. I cried at the end and usually I don’t cry with books but with this one I did. It was sentimental.

Zombie Cliche

World War Z – Max Brooks

Zombies, war, oral history, apocalypse, fiction, survival

Rating 3/10

World War Z starts off with an epidemic of this disease that no one is sure of the origin of the disease, only that it made people who contract through a singular bite, become zombielike and very violent. Only that it had to come from a small village who thought the ones who got sick, demonic or possessed. Told as interviews through various perspectives of this war against the zombies. It is history from patient zero until after the war was done.

Not much to say other than not a fan of zombie stuff but wanted to give this novel a fair chance to prove a point that zombies may not just be boring supernatural creatures. This entire novel is cliché of all types of zombies and survival stories. It wasn’t thrilling as it is told from a historical point of view. Maybe if it wasn’t so cliché that I would have finished reading it but I can only handle so much zombie survival clichés in one sitting. Not sorry to give it a low rating.

The Lost World Visit Had A Darker Side..

The Lost World – Michael Crichton

Scifi, fiction, dinosaurs, technology, survival

Rating 8/10

A few years after the closing of Jurassic Park, Malcom is recovering from his injuries and so are the rest of the surviving crew that went along. Hammond died and had left his company to go incognito or nonexistent. However, another company BioSyn believes that Hammond had another site where he was making dinosaurs that might be alive. Levine is a new guy who wants to see the other site as well. Levine had prepared to go to this other site that Hammond was building these dinosaurs. As soon as he and Malcom, with two kids, and Sarah Harding, a new friend of Malcom, land on the island to see the horrors that await on the other island Hammond had. The crew come across an injured velociraptor and heal the creature. After they release the velociraptor, they struggle to get off the island and make sure that the other company doesn’t get ahold of dinosaur DNA.

After reading the sequel, in which this was the sequel. It is nothing like the movies but a good novel, nonetheless. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will hopefully read more of Michael Crichton books. Crichton has a way of writing that no matter what the genre is, scares the living hell out of his audience.

McAlpin, Janet, and Michael Crichton. The Lost World, Michael Crichton. Penguin, 1997.

Resurrecting Dinosaurs .. Good or Bad?

Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton

Scif, fiction, dinosaurs, technology, survival

Rating: 9/10

Jurassic Park, a place where dinosaurs are brought back to life from being extinct for a reason. John Hammond, a man with this idea brings it to reality with his company InGen. He invites a group of individuals to this island to see the park. Ellie, Malcom, and Grant see the wonders of the park, but Malcom predicts disaster. As soon as things begin to be successful, there is a storm that makes the whole park shut down. Now the dinosaurs are free to roam around, including the carnivorous ones. Survival and strategy are keys for survival when facing extinct and deadly beasts. Everyone struggles to find safety and escape the island. Some do survive but barely alive. Others do not make it out alive.

I had seen the movies but never read the actual book until recently. I do enjoy this book and like it. Very thorough with information for the storyline and doesn’t leave things out. The author really was in-depth and was highly creative. This gives a insight of should we come across technology to bring back these deceased beings of what the outcome would be. Personally, I would never want these creatures to be brought back alive. Extinction happens and there is a logical reason behind it.

Cornish, F. H., and Michael Crichton. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton. Macmillan, 1995.