The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant

Image result for the mamba mentality

So I guess I did decide to post after all. The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant was a genuinely interesting, but short read that gave me a good insight into the mind of one of the best basketball players of all time.

Upon opening the book you are greeted a quick foreword by former teammate and an underrated, yet important part of their time as reigning champions, Pau Gasol, and an introduction from a basketball genius and one of the greatest coaches of all time, Phil Jackson. I am a huge basketball fan and Kobe Bryant is one of my favorite players of all time so it was a joy to read this book and get into his mindset. The pictures by Andrew D. Bernstein were phenomenal, highlighting key plays in Kobe’s career along with some of Kobe’s own comments scribbled in yellow ink describing what he was thinking during that specific play. Kobe provides some great commentary into his mindset, describing why he wakes up at 6 AM to get in a pre-practice workout, and why he is who he is. I really enjoyed the section covering his match ups against certain players throughout his career such as Tracy McGrady, another one of my favorite players of all time, Dwyane Wade, etc. He not only highlighted the main strengths of each of the players, but gave credit to some of them for improving throughout their career at certain aspects of the game such as LeBron’s defense during his time in Miami. My main problem with the book is that it is extremely short. While it is over 200 pages, about half of that are pictures. It is really just a taste of the Mamba Mentality. Also, the book feels a bit scattered. It kind of jumps from topic to topic with the section of match ups being the only part of the book that felt cohesive. I didn’t mind it as it felt as of he was just putting down his thoughts which made it feel a bit more personal, but some may find it a bit off putting.

Overall, I had a blast reading it and as a big basketball fan, it was awesome reading about the mindset of one of the greatest players of all time. I just wish there was more to it even if the pictures themselves were beautiful to look at.

RATING: Must Buy (for basketball fans). Otherwise, check it out if you like sports.


Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad Review

“Haunted by the memory of a moment of lost nerve during a disastrous voyage, Jim submits to condemnation by a Court of Inquiry. In the wake of his disgrace he travels to the exotic region of Patusan, and as the agent at this remote trading post comes to be revered as ‘Tuan Jim.’ Here he finds a measure of serenity and respect within himself. However, when a gang of thieves arrives on the island, the memory of his earlier disgrace comes again to the fore, and his relationship with the people of the island is jeopardized.”

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is one of the hardest books I have ever read. That’s not to say that it is bad, just on a different level for my reading ability. But, like the books I have read recently, I learned to like the book once I understood it. Lord Jim, while a bit difficult, was one that I did understand and really liked once I dug deeper into the book.

I was surprised to see Marlow as the narrator once again, and, similar to Heart of Darkness, he jumps all over the place. But I much preferred this version of him. A calmer and wiser person who often aided Jim. He was better as a bystander giving his own version of Jim’s story. Now, Jim is a well written character, yet he never really grows as a character. After reading the novel multiple times, I liked Jim less and less. He has good intentions, but often fails to act upon them. He is a romantic and that character trait, plays a big role in the novel. He lives in his own little world, angered when he sees his own imperfections. ” A chance missed!”, he once says. And in the context of the situation, it shows his own selfish motivations. The other supporting characters play their own part and are there to help further the story or provide Jim some needed advice or in the case of the Patusan villagers, rehabilitate him.

The plot is fairly straightforward, albeit a bit confusing as Marlow jumps from time to time, often for dramatic effect. While the plot is a bit simple, the novel really is a character study focusing on Jim and his adventures as he attempts to recover from a horrid mistake for someone of his position.

Lord Jim is a fantastic novel that gets better and better as you dig deeper into the book. While the plot is a bit simple, it is much more of a character study showing what happens when you go against your own code of conduct and the aftermath.

Rating: Must Buy

In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka Review

The story is set in an unnamed penal colony. It describes the last use of an elaborate torture and execution device that carves the sentence of the condemned prisoner on his skin in a script before letting him die, all in the course of twelve hours. As the plot unfolds, the reader learns more and more about the machine, including its origin, and original justification.”

In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka is one of the weirdest stories I have ever read. The plot and setting are fairly odd. But once you dig deeper into the book and really get in depth, it becomes much more clearer and Kafka’s short story really becomes something else.

   I have been reading a bunch of classic novels lately, and I decided to read this short story after a friend recommended it to me. It is a short story at a small 40 pages (at least in my edition). Normally classic novels, or classic literature in general, are a bit obscure and this is no exception. Upon first read, the characters are fairly straightforward. There are only 4 characters in this novel, at least ones that have dialogue: the explorer, the officer, the soldier, and the condemned man. The weird, devoted officer and the skeptic explorer make up most of the short story. And for the most past, all of the characters stay the same. It’s hard to talk about the short story into detail without going into spoilers, but all I can say to make the reading a bit easier is determine what the explorer and officer represent. They are clearly on two different sides of the argument. Once you figure it out, the machine and the symbolism become much clearer. Kafka is a more straightforward writer than Melville and for the most part, you will get what is happening (although, not so much what it means). But he is a clever writer and once you understand the novel, the writing comes to life. He can give so much within one sentence, often causing you to think about it.

In the Penal Colony is an odd short story. Yet once the meaning is unveiled, it becomes so much more than a weird short story and Kafka’s writing becomes more important and comes to life. If you are an English major, definitely read it.

Rating: Must Buy 


Quick Thoughts: The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

“It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared.
So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat.

He is right.

Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist – sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins – must survive, escape and report on the war.

The Massacre of Mankind has begun”

I just wanted to be able to get some form of post out to you guys. I am still busy, but things should probably go back to normal next week. For now, I wanted to get some quick thoughts on a book I just read, The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter. I have not read War of the Worlds by H.G Wells and viewed it as a standalone book. So this is a perspective from a newcomer to the series. I thought it was a fairly solid sci-fi book with a great world and solid characters. The plot took some time to get going and I found the writing style a bit weird, but I really liked it. From what I have read, Baxter’s style is similar to Wells and overall, does a good job emulating his style (which is pretty cool). But I loved the detail in the world. There is so much depth and just really small touches that put it above other sci-fi novels. It also has a pretty awesome cover which is always nice. Things should go back to normal by next week, expect more posts from me.



The Assault by Various Authors Review

This omnibus includes THE REVEALING by Bill Myers, INFESTATION by Frank Peretti, INFILTRATION by Angela Hunt, and THE FOG by Alton Gansky. ” (I could not find the official synopsis and it goes under Mosaic on Goodreads).

The Assault by Various Authors is a collection of stories that continue the Harbingers series. It is a sequel that improves on the first novel, Invitation, by further developing its characters and has a tighter, yet more supernatural narrative that keeps the books intriguing throughout.

The trio returns in this sequel and it was a delight to see each of them develop a bit more throughout the collection of stories. Although, I will admit Tank and Brenda seem to develop the least. While I found Tank’s story to be the most compelling, it seems to reaffirm and show characteristics that he has already displayed, not so much further his development. But he does seem to be more aware of how others think of him. Much of Brenda’s time is with Daniel, the special boy the group found in the previous novel. It shows her being more of a mother and really caring for the young boy. The Professor and Andi go through some tough times and I felt they progressed the most. It was nice to see the grumpy, old professor open up more to the other, specifically Tank. The villain varies from story to story and I found them to be pretty forgettable. They are the typical moustache twirling villain and they were predictable and generic.

This novel has a much tighter narrative as each story seems to flow from one to another. While it does seem each story almost requires the other stories to know what is happening, reading the stories back to back really helped fill in the gaps and further develop the plot. The Fog is the one that seems to stand by itself and I found it to be the most engaging. The fog presents a legitimate threat and forces one of the characters to make a difficult decision. I also liked that the stories seem to be more supernatural. It was much more exciting to read the book once it went a bit more out there in terms of plot. Although I found them to be fairly predictable, especially Infiltration with a twist that you can see miles ahead.

The Assault presents a tighter and more developed characters that improves on its predecessor that is sure to satisfy fans of the series.

Rating: Must Buy (for readers of the series, Wait for a sale for newcomers)


The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli Review


“Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?“

I am a dude who likes video games, action movies, etc., but I will admit this is probably the cutest book I have read. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli is a cute, emotional, and great young adult novel without being depressing or bleak which was a bit refreshing.

Molly is the narrator for the novel and as such, you see the events unfold through her eyes and hear her thoughts. I do like when an author uses a first-person narrative as it allows the reader to know the character’s thoughts and feelings about events. It really allows the reader to get to know the character at a more personal level. I liked Molly as a character and reading her thoughts and reactions to events in her life was realistic, yet at times a bit annoying. I cannot fault Molly for being annoying at times as reacting and overreacting to events as is what many people do. Her development from a pessimistic and innocent girl to someone who is a bit more matured and a bit more optimistic felt earned. Reading the book from her perspective really helped make the novel feel more personal and as a result, the payoff is satisfying. Her relationship with her sister, Cassie, plays an important part in the novel and was well done. As Cassie gets closer to Mina, Molly finds herself on the outside, something she is not comfortable with considering they are twins. Seeing Molly make mistakes and at times, screw up their relationship was refreshing. People make mistakes and I feel that some books make their protagonist too perfect and this novel highlights Molly’s mistakes.

I felt there would be a love triangle when I began the book, but, fortunately, there really isn’t. It becomes who Molly prefers fairly early on with the love triangle only resulting from Molly’s hesitation and reluctance. The other supporting characters such as Nadine, Olivia, etc. were good, but they are not as developed as Molly, Cassie, and Reid. Speaking of Reid, I found him to be pretty cool and relatable being a fellow nerd like him. His dynamic with Molly was adorable and believable which can be hard to pull off. The plot is fairly predictable, but for a book like this that does not really matter. The characters take center stage with the plot serving as a way to develop the characters.

  The Upside of Unrequited is an adorable young adult novel that is sure to satisfy many readers with relatable and realistic characters, good character development, and pretty cute moments.

Rating: Must Buy


Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Caleb Nation Review

“Bran Hambric was found alone in a locked bank vault when he was six years old. He doesn’t have a clue how he got there, or any memory of his past. There’s only one explanation: Magic. But magic is outlawed in the Great and Glorious City of Dunce.

Eight years later, a twisted, hissing creature confronts Bran and his foster father, Sewey, on their rooftop. Sewey believes it’s a gnome, but not Bran. (Sewey isn’t the brightest Duncelander to begin with.) Bran soon discovers that whatever leapt onto his roof is connected to the he never knew…and that Bran himself is the missing link in a plot so secret and evil that those behind it will stop at nothing to hunt him down.

Armed with wands and weapons, Bran’s enemies are about to attack–with all the power of a horrible curse and a terrible crime. Magic won’t be the only law broken in the City of Dunce…”

   Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Caleb Nation is a bit of a hidden gem for magic/fantasy readers. I read this a while ago, but found myself wanting to write a review on it upon discovering it in my room and I wanted others to know more about it. It was released around the peak of Harry Potter with the movie series nearing its end. While there are similaritites to the Harry Potter series, it does enough to satisfy and thrill readers.

   Bran Hambric was a solid protagonist who has to come to terms with his newfound powers. His journey from beginning to end is a bit generic, but is fairly effective. There will be comparisons with him to Harry Potter (newfound powers, siblings who hate him, etc.), but he does enough to stand out as his own character. His struggle to accept himself and his past was well done and the main driving force of the character. The other supporting do well although I found Astara to be one of the better ones. She becomes Bran’s friend and helps him throughout his journey. The rest are fine and do what they are supposed to do, but they do not really stand out.

   The plot is fairly standard for a fantasy novel and does take some time to pick up.  Although, I attribute it to world building. It does get a bit heavy in the second half in terms of plot and characters which can lose you. The world Nation creates is pretty awesome. It does have the standard goblins and monsters with some gnomes mixed in, but the history behind it, as Bran continues to uncover secrets of Dunce, is fairly interesting and stands out from other magical novels. It is a fairly well written book considering the book was started by Nation at 14 and continued throughout his teen years which is pretty impressive. 

   Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse is a solid and well done magic novel. There will be comparisons to the Harry Potter series and I admit there are similarities to it, but Nation does enough to make this novel stand out in the crowded genre.

Rating: Must Buy for Magic/ Harry Potter lovers. 

For everyone else, Check It Out