Category Archives: Books

The Eleventh Hour

Just whipped up a quick book trailer for Jeff Hirsch’s debut novel, The Eleventh Plague.

It was agreat read and I really wanted to do another book trailer… try out some different flava’s, y’know!

The song in the background is Stem/Long Stem/Transmission 2 off of DJ Shadow’s AMAZING album, Endtroducing. Check out the full song here on the Youtubes.

Hope you like my latest creation:

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Hacking Timbuktu

Davies, S. (2010). Hacking Timbuktu: A novel. Boston [Mass.: Clarion Books.

Does this code make sense to you?

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{
list *1, *new;
CLIENT *cl;
int *result;

if (argc next = 1; 1 = new
new = mk_list (“3, available ips);
new->next = 1; 1 = new

cl = clnt_create(argv[1], “tcp”);
{
result = tunnel1_1(1, cl);
if (result == NULL) {
printf (“error: Timbuktu tunnel blocked!\n”);
return 1;
}
printf (“client: Timbuktu tunnel open!\n”, *result);

return 0;
}

If the code does make sense to you I‘m pretty sure you’ll like this book… if it doesn’t make any sense you’re in the same boat I am, but don’t worry I loved this book!

By chance our protagonist Danny Temple a burgeoning parkour expert and master hacker along with his best friend Omar “Grimps” Dupont a francophone and master at parkour (see videos at the bottom of this post), find themselves in possession of a magic square which contains the map to two million mithqals of gold.

It takes a Dogon to recognize a Nommo

FYI
1 mithqal ≈ 3.6 grams ∴ 2 000 000 mithqals = 7 200 000 grams
1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams ∴ 7 200 000 grams = 231 511.25 troy ounces

Now here’s the juicy part!

As of 09/17/2011 gold was trading at $1771.32 per troy ounce
231 511.25 troy ounces x $1771.32/oz = $410 080 507.35 !!!

Not too shabby, eh.

Now all Danny and Omar have to do to get the money is decipher the map, avoid capture from various security guards, the London police, and crazed treasure hunters from the Facebook group: the Knights of Akonio Dolo. Oh ya, and they also have to fly from England to Mali without any money, avoid being killed by the manuscript mugger, and figure out how to carry two thousand mithqals of gold from the middle of nowhere back to the Bank of Africa. Simple, right? Well, if you disagree, I’d like to see you try (you can start by at least reading the book :p )

I’m not an especially fast reader but I have been plowing through this book. The chapters mostly flip between Danny and Omar’s journey towards decoding the map and the Manuscript muggers similar journey in Mali. This keeps the action fresher, IMHO. The scenes where the author is describing events of hacking and parkour move at a similar pace as a movie quick, action-packed and thrilling!

About Parkour:

Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK), AKA; Free Running AKA l’art du déplacement (the art of movement) is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. I’m particularly interested in it as when i was young, growing up in an urban center I loved climbing around on buildings and seeing the city from above. Assuming trespassing laws aren’t broken to blatantly I feel this is a great exercise for kids, a touch of danger, the thrill of independence and the benefits of physical activity. After all kids traditionally are supposed to monkey around in trees. Buildings replaced trees, so naturally kids gotta monkey around on building now. That being said, i never tried anything as fancy as parkouring so don’t be an idiot and try out the parkour moves you see in the following videos. As Omar says in the book: “those who parkour practice not just until they get something right, they practice until they can’t get something wrong.” Words to LIVE by if you catch my drift.

Here’s a video of some sick looking moves:

And here’s a video explaining the philosophy of parkour: The Art of Motion

Notes from a Totally Lame Vampire

Collins, T., & Pinder, A. (2010). Notes from a totally lame vampire: Because the undead have feelings too!. New York: Aladdin.

  • Emo Vampires
  • Killer squirrels
  • Mortal love

… this book’s got it all!

Nigel wants his vampire nickname to be “Nightwalker” it instead becomes cutesy ol’ “Fangy.” This is typical luck for Nigel. He was turned into a vampire, but never received a vampire’s superhuman speed & strength nor their mesmerizing good looks. Worst of all he is about to turn 100 yrs old and he still hasn’t ever had a girlfriend! FML, indeed!

Tim Collins does well to capture the usually obstacles and insecurities that teenagers face in this diary. When I find myself both laughing and relating to a fictional vampire teen/centenarian I feel I’ve found a good book.

Andrew Pinders drawings go perfectly with the diary medium and the lanky awkwardness that is Nigel’s life.

PS- Apparently there’s a sequel diary out called Prince of Dorkness : more notes from a totally lame vampire

Not as absorbing as expected

Maharaj, R. (2010). The amazing absorbing boy. Toronto: Knopf Canada.

I had high expectations for this book drawn mostly from hearing it recently received the Trillium Book Award ($20 000). Unfortunately, I must confess I did not find this book as captivating as I had anticipated.

I did appreciate the viewpoints in this book and how Maharaj helps to highlight the Canada that many Canadians thinks no longer exists. As the Harper majority slowly starts to revert Canadian immigration policy back to the antiquated, racist, and xenophobic “None is too many” rhetoric of the 1930’s it is of crucial importance to recognize this fact: When it comes to the integration of immigrants and refugees into our society we have never seen complete success. It should be noted that the main character of this book, 17 year old Sam, like most refugees didn’t actually want to come to Canada in the first place! Once here what we see through Sam’s eyes are glimpses of uncomfortable, but very real truths:

  1. Immigrants who come to Canada do NOT always/automatically fare better than their peers from their place of origin.
  2. Canadians are mostly passive in their acceptance of foreigners. We (native born citizens who work outside of immigrant aid organizations) generally accept, but we do little to actively welcome, aid, and acclimatize new comers.
  3. It is primarily other immigrants & refugees who help new immigrants & refugees.

In addition to these aspects of the book I also liked how Maharaj made Sam a fan of comic books (funny scene in a Toronto Public Library where some snotty kid gets mad at Sam for calling his “graphic novel” a “comic”… they’re the same thing, Bud!). Sam often makes sense of his world by relating it to comic book scenarios and characters. This is definitely an element of Sam’s character that teens can relate to.

However, what might put teens of this book is that… well, frankly this book is kind of boring. As Donna Bailey Nurse wrote in her review for the Globe & Mail, “Most of the novel’s conversation about race and immigration unfolds through thought and dialogue rather than dramatic action.” A book of over 300 pages needs dramatic action!!!

This book is almost a great recommendation for reluctant readers as it centers on a male in his late teens who like comics, but the length and the plodding plot are big turn offs… sorry Maharaj 😦 However, if you read this book and liked aspects of it (or would rather skip this book and look for something of more particular interest) let me make some recommendations:

If you like hearing about the struggle of immigrants to Canada and how they help to build our society you may like Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of the Lion.

If you like reading about a boy coming of age trying to find who he is and what he can do you may like Andre Alexis’ Childhood.

This could be the “New You”!

The blog Awful Library Books is a constant source of hilarity for me. Today’s post is one I’d like to share with y’all. Do you want ot be a more “likeable” teen? Well don’t try “being yourself” or being like the teens you see on TV (who are often played by 20-30yr old actors)… simply go out to your nearest Time Machine and travel back to the 1960’s, an era when you will be able to obtain a copy of Your Home and You by Greer and Gibbs. For a prime example of the benefits this book can bestow upon your forming person please note the list of grooming tips. As always the standard that boys are held to pales compared to what girls have to go through to look “presentable”… barf.

Can you feel the oozing, palpable sarcasm? If not please insert your own. I haven’t read the book, so I the morsels of legitimate information that may exist within are lost to me, however because the book is outdated by 1/2 a century I am guessing that it will lead you farther astray than it will guide you to your true self. That being said I still stand behind a sizable portion of The Little Red School Book which is circa 1969 (see my post on My Little Red Book for some context).

Ultimately, if you want a “new you” you’ll have to do more than just read a book (strangely, reading 100 books would probably help you become a “new you”). Study your desires, decisions, actions, and emotions and FORCE YOURSELF TO BE THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE/ REALIZE THAT YOU ARE PROBABLY AWESOME ALREADY! Also, don’t listen to jerks. Remember that every second of every day you ARE a new you, so act accordingly.

DFTBA

Paper Towns

Green, J. (2008). Paper towns. New York: Dutton.



After falling head over heels for the hilarity and informativity (is this a real word? Not really 🙂 ) of the Vlogbrothers I picked up John Greens most recent book (although I think he’s going to have another one coming out soonish) Paper Towns. I’m not going to give a plot synopsis here, as I feel my bullet point description of the book would deflect people from reading it: Nerdy boys coming of age and being bad-asses by skipping their high school graduation… lame, pass! WRONG!!! Do not pass! I want to stress that Paper Towns is a really, really good read! I would recommend this book for parents of teens as much as I would recommend this book for anyone in high school, probably ideal for teens in the middle high school grades; You poor lost souls! Don’t worry you will eventually escape (although your teachers will be stuck there forever, so be nice to them!). The quality of John Green’s writing make his insights into individual emotions and societal observations so personal that it is easy to become the main characters. I was both Quentin and Margo and John Green was helping me through the feelings I thought I had no control over. As the book progresses you will find yourself becoming more open and definately more thoughtful. I won’t spoil it for you, but the last eighty pages contain some of the most influential writing I have read in a long time. For people who think they have a solid perception of who they are, as well as people who feel lost within themselves these pages will shatter your illusions and then gradually help you create a framework upon which you can begin to know yourself again. You will not be whole at the end of the book, but you may realize how empty you actually where when you started. This is the key effect of Paper Towns to help people see themselves as they truly and uniquely are. In a world where consumer culture can bombard us into subservient ,acronym title=”bewilderment: confusion resulting from failure to understand”> obfuscation I found it extremely rejuvenating to find a portal back to the root of my being to retrace who I actually am and what I actually care about.


Thank you John Green, you are freakin’ awesome!


PS – If you are just starting out I highly suggest that you watch a bunch of Vlogbrothers and/or Brotherhood 2.0 before, or while you’re reading John Green’s work. I think a lot of the attachment I had with this book came from the feeling that I know John Green almost personally. Occasionally the text changed from the narrative of the story and I totally felt like I was experiencing a Vlogbrother moment in the text. It was pretty cool and enriched my reading experience greatly.