Banned Books are the Best Books

Well, it’s Banned Books Week, my favorite library holiday! So, I thought I’d write a little rambling bit on why censoring books is silly.

2016’s most challenged book (meaning someone found it offensive and tried to have it removed/restricted in a library or curriculum) was This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It just so happens I just read this book for the first time earlier this week, prior to realizing it is last year’s most frequently challenged book. Frankly, I struggled a bit seeing why this book was oh so controversial. Yes, if you were handing it to a young kid, some of the content is a bit mature (teen pregnancy, drinking, marriage struggles). However, I’ve mostly seen it marketed towards teens, who are probably largely aware of the topics that come up in This One Summer. The book does deal with some heavy issues, but that doesn’t mean a book can’t be influential in a positive way.

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Half of this year’s Top Ten Most Challenged Books were challenged for having LGBT characters or narratives. What day and age are we living in?? Are parents still afraid reading about a gay character will make their child gay? Because that’s preposterous, and haven’t we covered this?! Multiple times? Also, if your child is perhaps questioning their sexuality/identity, then maybe these characters could be a comfort to them in a world that is anything but. Books are a refuge and an open door into greater things.
Perhaps you are more afraid of having a more well-rounded child who might possess a little compassion for other?

Books seem to be most frequently challenged for sexuality, LGBT characters/narratives, displays of racism, or use of certain “bad” words. Or witchcraft. (Can’t leave out Harry Potter!)

There are many banned books that are near and dear to my heart, many of the books that spoke to me the most in my teen and early college years were frequently challenged books. That’s not why I read any of them; some were assigned reading, others were by personal discovery. Yet, truly, some (perhaps most) or the most influential books I’ve read thus far in my life have been “banned” books. I can only say I’m grateful that I didn’t have teachers or parents that felt the need to censor what books I was reading. Controversial topics help us broaden horizons, learn something new, see things from a new perspective. Controversial topics represent real life, and life is controversial y’all.

One of my older co-workers was annoyed last year that the library (where I work) was displaying banned books as well as flyers on freedom of speech and press. She literally asked “why do we have those on display? They’re clearly banned for a reason.” And my heart grew a wee bit darker and more cynical that day. There are plenty of reasons we should be displaying, promoting, and advocating for free speech, but I won’t bother to bore us all with my own political ramblings. My book-ish ramblings are bad enough, amirite?

If you find you are offended by something, seriously stop and ask yourself, why?
I think sometimes people need to be a little offended, and they need to ponder why certain things offend them, because perhaps maybe then they will grow. Books have an excellent way of helping us grow by showing us different perspectives, sharing new ideas, encouraging us to learn more about a certain topic, pushing us to ask questions and think more critically.

 

 

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Leia: Princess of Alderaan (It’s Gonna Get Nerdy Here)

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If you know me, or have happen to have accidentally read my review of Bloodline by Claudia Gray, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Leia Organa. She knows what’s what, she kicks butt, and slays Hutts. Also, for like the last two months I’ve been telling Brock that there needs to be a Star Wars book about Bail Organa, his back story, how he got involved in all this etc. And while Leia: Princess of Alderaan didn’t exactly do that for me, it’s a step closer! I love Bail Organa, he always seems like such a cool, respectable guy, and he just up and adopts his friend’s baby immediately after her death, I mean COME ON! So anyhow, all that to say, I appreciated seeing a little more Bail in my SW book.

To date, I’ve been super impressed by Claudia Gray’s Star Wars books. Lost Stars is still one of the best SW new canon books I have read, and I adored Bloodline as well because, well, it’s all about Leia. So, naturally, I was super excited to read Leia: Princess of Alderaan, and in fact bought it during Force Friday II at target when they opened at midnight haha.

Princess of Alderaan opens on sixteen year old Leia’s Day of Demand ceremony, where she is beings the process of being the heir to crown of Alderaan (spoiler alert, she’s a princess) and takes us through the events of her essentially earning the title of princess, a feat that I think is pretty cool on it’s own. Leia has to prove she’s good enough to be the princess, that she is good enough to serve as Alderaan’s queen.

There are plenty of fun moments of references to events and characters the Star Wars fans will go “oooh shoot” at, or if you’re like me, will get super excited when Leia first encounters R2-D2 (even though he isn’t named, it’s a sassy too-smart-for-his-own-good  blue astromech, so, yeah, it’s definitely the R2 I know and love).

Also, that moment when I figured out that one of the characters in this book, is going to be one of the new character in The Last Jedi (it took me until the last chapter for it to dawn on me) that moment was golden and effectively got me stoked to see The Last Jedi. Which is the point of these “Journey to” Star Wars books that come out before the new movies.

The biggest (and really, only) disappointment for me with this book is that Leia isn’t nearly as sassy and tough as I would have imagined she would be considering the events in this book occur merely 2 or so years prior to A New Hope. That isn’t to say that Leia isn’t smart, witty, and determined to do the right thing however. This novel is primarily about Leia wanting to do what she can for the worlds that have been screwed over by the Empire, leaving their inhabitants impoverished and struggling to survive, while also learning what it is to be an apprentice senator to the Senate. We see the more altruistic goodness of Leia’s heart, but also her quick witted ability to find some loopholes, beating the Empire at its own game.

Claudia Gray’s sixteen year old Leia just seemed a little juvenile and naive at times, but i suppose for a sixteen year old princess, that’s fair enough. And considering this happened in A New Hope: toshi station

I suppose we can allow Leia to seem a little juvenile at 16 😉

 

All in all, I was bound to love it either way, because I love the character Leia Organa, and even more so love the true rebel that played her, Carrie Fisher.

Sorry, not sorry.

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough.. Or Lack Thereof

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Disclaimer: this is a poorly written, poorly edited rant about life. You’ve been warned.

I’ve really been struggling to get through this book. I’ve given up on it at least 5 times before even getting halfway through… And yet, I keep coming back thinking maybe I’m just resisting something and perhaps there I can at least get something from this book. So far, I’ve mainly gotten frustration.

Here’s what I got:
Figure out what your gifts/talents are, how you want to use said gifts, and basically just do it. Essentially the same yada yada you get from most motivational/career change books. Even though time and again he says he doesn’t want to sound like all those “follow you passion!” life coaches. Well, sorry, but that’s all I’ve been getting out of this.
It all keeps coming back to the same general gist of, find a way you can use your gifts in a way you find satisfactory and do that thing.. so long as it supplies an income that you can live off of. This is the point where I stopped listening. No shit, Sherlock. All other points start to become moot to me when the message essentially becomes “follow your passion, so long as there is money in it.” That’s useless, I’m sorry, but it is. And it implies there are just plenty of jobs out there for the taking. Maybe in D.C. and San Fran, where this author was/is based, but in NE Ohio, where we have big corporate chains galore, little local business, crap jobs that barely pay above minimum wage, manual labor in an unstable steel industry, or the other extreme of straight up professional whathaveyou (doctor, lawyer, etc).

My husband and I have both been looking for better job prospects for two solid years. Neither of us currently using our bachelors degree, and neither of us are currently in a position that promises any job growth. The obvious response has been “go back to school,” but that’s really not so easily done considering we have to work to live, school costs an arm, leg, plus your unborn child, and we already have a large sum of money in student loans. Then with the added bonus of no guarantee of a job upon receiving a Masters degree in God only knows what. For me, it was the possibility of going back to school to be a librarian… but it just doesn’t feel worth the cost of a title in a state/nation that doesn’t feel funding public libraries is their responsibility. Cuz you know, who needs a safe, free place to get books, use a public computer, study, take classes, explore new interests etc etc?

I digress. My point is, it’s fine and dandy to spend time considering your gifts/talents and how you want to use them (if you’re the kind of person that has the kind of confidence to say I’m good at this that and the other, of which I am not) but actually applying that to your life and making changes based on those things feels damn near impossible to me right now. Yes, I get that everything requires work and fighting for what you want. but what about when you have no fucking clue what it is you even want? Or when you apply and interview for about 7 different jobs, some of which truly excite you, and each and every time you get turned down, presumably, or at least in part, for lack of experience. We can’t gain that experience when no one gives us a shot.  Perhaps I’m far too negative, and my own lack of self-esteem when it comes to my “gifts,” my own inability to sell myself is my own down fall. But for fuck’s sake it gets depressing after awhile.

So, in lieu of making a list of my gifts, how I want to apply them, in what community, and what lifestyle I’d like to live, I’ve been thinking more in terms of what I would like out of life vs. what I’ve currently got.

What I’d like:

  • A job where I give a rat’s ass, especially one where I get paid a halfway respectable wage.
  • A place Hubs and I can actually afford to live in, and still be able to save a few dollars.
  • The option to at least talk about starting a family in the near-ish future. Just even feeling comfortable enough financially to consider having that conversation.
  • Time to be all homely/housewife-y. I know, how 50’s TV family of me.
  • Time, money and energy to invest in my own well being, ie. eat right, work out, etc.
  • Security. Enough so to make any given sort of leap towards progress.

What I’ve got:

  • A husband I love.
  • A husband who takes a lot of shit at work where he isn’t paid nearly enough for taking said shit.
  • A part-time job that I mostly enjoy, but pays negligibly more than Ohio’s minimum wage. (It used to be two part-time jobs, but people are assholes and the stress of dealing with them was making life a million times worse. AKA, an extra $70 a week was absolutely not worth being yelled at in a movie theater box office.)
  • A borrowed space in my brother’s house that we sometimes remember to pay “rent” for.
  • No time or money to go back to school to maybe get a better job.
  • No real marketable skills, IMO
  • Only a few months of health insurance left before I’m too old for my dad to keep paying for it. AKA a few months until I need to find another option that is even remotely affordable.

Okay, so now this post has just become a negative downward spiral, but this is where I’m at right now y’all. And I mean no offense to Mr. Poswolsky, it’s nothing against his book, I’m sure there are plenty of people that found his writing insightful and/or helpful. I can agree with, nod my head along to, and appreciate plenty of the things he says, but it all feels a bit shallow, privileged and entitled.. Maybe things are different when you live in a big city, share a house with half a dozen people and don’t have a significant other to factor into your “leaping to new lily pads.”
The intro was the most “inspiring” part at first, and in retrospect I realized why: he’s stroking the ego of millennials, claiming we’re different from previous generations  because we desire for our work to have purpose. On first pass, I felt like “Oh, I can totally get this! I would so much rather work for a cause I believe in than make more money doing something I despise.” But on second thought, I really don’t think that is a generation thing, I think that is a personality/personal values type issue that has existed for generations. My generation just has a plethora of more options (in some senses) than previous generations. And while I agree the my generation does tend to get dissed a lot, I still don’t think we’re all that different from the others. (Plus, it’s the older generation’s fault we are this way, they made us what we are *insert childish, sassy raspberry blowing here*)

All in all, I think I’m officially adding this book to my DNF list. Just while working on this rant I picked up two more times and just couldn’t do it. I don’t know what I expected to gain from this book, and maybe that was my own fault from the start. But now I’ve used it as an excuse to whine on the internet about my current frustrations with life. So whatever. Sorry, I’m not really sorry.

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Remember boys and girls:

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I really miss Craig Ferguson doing lat night. 

The Hate U Give

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This book. Damn. I can’t even.
This book is powerful.
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve felt the need to stop reading a book, just to hunt down sticky notes to write comments about specific passages of a novel.

I’m always a little nervous about books that get a lot of hype preceding and immediately at their release, we’ve all been burned by that before. However, considering how relevant this book’s contents our to modern American life, the hype was well deserved. This book deals with a lot a big topics like social class, race, identity, teen life, interracial relationships, but most notably: police brutality.

Starr lives in Garden Heights, a poor black neighborhood, “the ghetto,” run in part by rival gangs. Starr has lived in Garden Heights most of her life, but her parents send her to a private school in the rich, suburban, white neighborhood (li’l more on why this is an important addition later). Our story starts at a Garden Heights party, where Starr runs into a childhood best friend, Khalil. Trouble breaks out at the party so Starr and Khalil leave together, not knowing the night will only get worse from there. A “routine stop” for a broken tail light ends with Khalil being shot and killed. 

That Hate U Give is the aftermath of Khalil’s death.

Angie Thomas tackles police brutality in a way like never before. And while this story largely revolves around the shooting of an unarmed black teen, so many other sociological issues come into play as well. Angie Thomas hits on all of these big social issues without being preachy or self-righteous; it is raw, realistic, and powerful.

I think it was brilliant on Angie Thomas’ part to have Starr attend a school where the majority of the student body is white, rich, and privileged so as to show the two very different worlds that exist right next door to each other. Throughout the book, Starr struggles between which Starr she is in which circumstance, she keeps her school life and home life separate, until eventually they collide.
With one friend, Hailey, we get the perspective of white privilege, the “All Lives Matter” voice if you will. Hailey is everyone’s “racist-but-doesn’t-think-they’re-racist” family member who can’t see past their own ignorance. You frequently want to smack her, but her character is vital to this story. I feel like every white person who doesn’t seem to think police involved shootings are a big deal NEEDS to read this and realize we need to stop trying to rationalize the real-life deaths of people similar to Khalil by labeling people as “just a drug dealer.”

“And at the end of the day, you don’t kill someone for opening a car door.”

One of my favorite parts of this books is a conversation between Starr and her dad, Maverick. It’s a meaningful conversation between father and daughter about why good kids, like Khalil, turn to dealing drugs to survive. Their conversation takes place after Khalil’s death and centers around the Tupac quote that led to the title of this book. “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody” – t.h.u.g.l.i.f.e.

A chopped up version of the most profound part of this conversation that I love:

Lack of opportunities. Corporate America don’t bring jobs to our communities, and they damn sure ain’t quick to hire us. Then, shit, even if you do have a high school diploma, so many schools in our neighborhoods don’t prepare us well enough. Our schools don’t get the resources to equip you. It’s easier to find some crack than it is to find a good school around here.
Now think ’bout this. How did the drugs even get in our neighborhood? This is a multibillion-dollar industry we talkin’ about, baby. That shit is flown into our communities but I don’t know anybody with a private jet.
Drugs come from somewhere, and they’re destroying our community.
You got folks like Brenda, who think they need them to survive, and then you got the Khalils, who think they need to sell them to survive. The Brendas can’t get jobs unless they’re clean, and they can’t pay for rehab unless they get jobs. When the Khalils get arrested for selling drugs, they either spend most of their life in prison, another billion-dollar industry, or they have a hard time getting a real job and probably start selling drugs again.
That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug life.”

This book is important. I can’t even adequately explain this book or the things it made me feel. You’ll just have to read it, and know: the hype is worth it. It’s fiction but the circumstances, the emotions, the frustrations… are all too real.

 

My Arrested Development

I am entirely arrested by my own self doubt. I question every move, and out of fear of failure, stand still. And I have this habit of standing still, never making changes, taking chances, and complaining that nothing changes.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing with my life. And I feel like a big part of that has to do with anxiety. Particularly social anxieties that I’ve felt since elementary school. I could go into cataloging all the ways in which I have retrospectively realized anxiety has effected my life and my choices, but that would just be a crazy long list. But just for example, I was always the “shy” girl in school. I really wasn’t all that shy, people who know/understand me know I can actually be quite blunt and unfiltered. I wasn’t shy so much as terrified of saying something “wrong” in front of people who may not understand me.

I’ve always felt “different” (especially growing up) and not the cool kind of different, but like my ideas are too lame and/or out in left field. And because of my fear of being too “out there,” I would always try to push down my impulses to say/do the random things that pop into my head. This same fear also always made me too afraid to share anything personal or creative with.. well anyone really. (Which is also why I was debating whether to even post this or not, but Hubs talked me into it.) Now, I fear that I’ve spent so much time suppressing my weirdness, that I’ve lost all creativity. And yet a large part of me yearns to be creative.

I so wish I could be one of those ballsy people who knows exactly what they want, and just goes for it. I wish I could tap into my creativity that I feel may be buried deep down within me, and do something productive with it. I wish I could say screw looking for a worthwhile career to just survive off of, and start doing something purely because I’m passionate about it. But I don’t even know what that is anymore. I’m clueless. At a bit of a standstill.

I don’t write these things to seek the pity of others, and I don’t mean this as negatively as it’s potentially coming off. To be clear, I wouldn’t say I’m embarrassed by my weirdness, I’m quite fond of it really. But I do struggle to wield it in a productive way, like I wish I could 😉 This has been more to express myself (something I struggle with), and by just putting it out there, a reminder to myself to occasionally be daring…

So, I guess, my challenge to myself and to others is to be daring. Be passionate about something. And most of all, do something.

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The “remake” I didn’t expect to love (but totally did)

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So, I don’t generally feel the need to review movies, I’m no movie buff and to be completely honest, I’m pretty picky about which movies I even like.

I was nervous but excited to see the new live action Beauty and the Beast.. I tried hard to keep my expectations low because I was so afraid of being disappointed, the 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast is one of my absolute favorite movies. Hell, I accessorized my wedding bouquet with a Belle pin, and Hubs wore Beast on his boutonniere. I walked down the aisle to Jim Brickman’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast. (It was a vaguely Disney themed wedding. Even though it wasn’t truly intended as such)

Anyhow, I tried to avoid trailers and I refused to let Hubs play the new soundtrack while I was around. I was so worried about being disappointed before I even got to the theater. While there are a few things I had tiffs with and I’ll admit the first time I saw it I wasn’t entirely sure how to feel, all in all I really love this film. Maybe it’s just the hype and I’ll change my mind later, but I adore some of the changes they made in this adaptation. I’ve seen this movie 2.5-ish times now (I currently work part-time at our local movie theater and got to watch bits and pieces while working the other night) and seeing it again made all the difference for me, and now I’m completely obsessed.

My biggest beef with this film is that they had Ewan sing Be Our Guest in a ridiculous French accent. Now, I don’t mean to diss this performance altogether, I still absolutely love that it is Ewan McGregor, but his voice is so phenomenal (I mean come on! <click) that I just really wanted to hear him belt it. Unfortunately, the accent seemed to hinder his natural abilities. The whole song I was just listening for hints of his natural singing voice and there are a few moments when it peaks out and it’s glorious, but this sing could have been so amazing if they didn’t insist on sticking to the French accent. Yes, I do realize it’s set in France and Lumiere in the classic has a thick French accent.. but come on.

Anywayyy, on another note, there are a lot of things I love about this movie. The music is still stellar! And the new songs? *heart melts* I cannot stop listening to the soundtrack, especially Days in the Sun. Hubs is completely obsessed with the song Evermore (it’s very reminiscent of Out There from Hunchback). We’re pretty much just fans of all Alan Menken Disney soundtracks.

I love that these characters were given more of an actual backstory/history. Belle and Beast especially, previously we knew practically nothing about these characters’ previous lives. I love that this was added, it brought more depth to the story of Beauty and the Beast in my opinion.

Basically, I 100% recommend seeing this movie, especially if you are a fan of the 1991 animated version. I can’t say which version you will like better, both are awesome in my (current) opinion 😉

Lincoln in the Bardo: an unusual (but fantastic) reading experience

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I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this one before. The idea alone immediately had my attention. Essentially, Lincoln in the Bardo is about the passing of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie Lincoln. It takes place in the cemetery where Willie was initially laid to rest, and most of the characters are the ghosts (so to speak) of the others buried in the cemetery. Many of these ghosts have been living in the cemetery, stuck between the real world and whatever afterlife awaits them, for many years. We see quite a fascinating bunch of characters, including a reverend, a racist lieutenant, former servants/slaves, a printer, and of course 11 year old Willie Lincoln.

Interspersed throughout the book, between the fictional conversations had among the cemetery ghosts, Saunders uses bits and piece from historical sources to tell the story of Willie Lincoln’s passing, first hand accounts of having attended the party that took place while Willie was ill, and the response following his death. To me, it just seemed like a brilliant way to tell a story, using so many different sources and voices (both real and fictional). These historical sources are also used to give some insight into the Civil War, happening at the same time. Saunders even gives Abraham Lincoln a voice in the book (fictionalized of course) where we get to read some of his inner dialogue and struggle to not only accept his son’s death, but also warring with himself about the destruction of the nation. While the bits of Lincoln’s thoughts and inner-dialog are obviously just imaginative, it added a lot to the story and was the most heartbreaking part of this book for me.

Lincoln in the Bardo was just so different. The formatting, constantly going back and forth between historical sources or the fictional ghost voices, was a little hard for me to get used to (I found it annoying at first) but I eventually got into the groove, and I’m glad that I did because this book is worth it. If only for the craziness of it.

One of the other things I really enjoyed about this book, was just how Saunders deals with talking about death and the afterlife. Saunders does take on more of a Christian view of the afterlife, at least for the one character who has had a glimpse at life after leaving the grave, but what I found most interesting was the internal struggle these ghosts/souls are having as they basically hang in the balance (or the bardo perhaps) between life and whatever comes after. Many do not seem to know that they have died, and they are waiting for so and so to come and find them, or to exact their revenge on someone. Those that seem to realize, or at least have guessed at their fate, then are stuck with choosing between moving on, or remaining trapped in the cemetery trying to hang on to any semblance of their past life.

So, if you’re looking for something new/different/imaginative/inventive, I would really recommend this book. I was intrigued, yet skeptical at first, but now having finished the book, I’m finding I really quite enjoyed it and greatly appreciate how creative it was.

Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend: It’s Basically Exactly What You Would Expect..

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I don’t even know where to start on this one. A co-worker happened upon this book at work and told me I need to look it up. So we immediately pulled it up an Goodreads, because with a title like Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend, you just have to know.We laughed at what sounded like a hilariously bad plot, and the “This is the dumbest book I’ve ever read” reviews. I started to think, “Okay, but this is satirical right? Are they just not getting that it’s satire?” Having just now finished it, I’m still unclear on whether this was actually meant to be satirical or not..
This book is…. something. You could pretty much just read the title and plot, have a laugh, and call it a day.

A pterodactyl randomly appears and starts attending high school. Everyone goes fucking nuts, girls fall in love with him, and somehow everyone knows so much about his feelings and thoughts even though he barely speaks.. It’s just such an absurd plot, and Shiels, the main character, is a total dumbass. Sorry not sorry. I thought/kept hoping that at some point the absurdity of it all would become funny, or at least start to be logical. It never did. Yet I felt compelled to finished this book just because I had to know how one earth this would go. Lessons learned: kids are stupid, don’t have sex with a pterodactyl. The end.

 

The Circle – “Knowing is good, knowing everything is better”

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So, confession, I didn’t really know anything about this book until I saw on a list of books that are being made into movies this year. So naturally, Hubs and I both wanted to read The Circle before its upcoming movie in April. It sounded like an interesting idea, with some interesting similarities to real life big companies. If I’m being completely honest, I probably mostly picked up this book because Emma Watson is going to play the lead in the movie. Sorry.. (not that sorry).

This was a good, intriguing, and thought-provoking book, but it seriously gave me the creeps (and a freaky dream the night I finished it as well). This is in no ways some horror/slasher book, just to be clear, but I get weirded out and paranoid about the psychological stuff that was presented by The Circle. Essentially, The Circle is a huge company that runs/tracks a lot of major areas of its users lives. Think if Google, Apple, and every social media platform melded together. They would conquer the world right? That’s basically what is happening here. The Circle is bent on connecting everyone, every second of every day. Full transparency. Your location, your purchases, what you had for lunch, who you were with, what you like, when you went to sleep, all tracked by The Circle. Creepy, no?

WARNING: My ramblings from here on could technically be construed as spoilers. And I use a bad word.

Like I said book gave me the willies, and I just kept hoping for that moment when more people thought, “hmm maybe trying to know everything about everyone and having absolute transparency is fucking ridiculous and unsafe.” That moment never really came.

All in all, I wish more had happened. Frankly, I kept waiting for more people to resist The Circle and their moves to basically take over everything and become a totalitarian empire, but we hardly get to see any of that. We see our main character, Mae, vaguely start to question what she’s doing, and then become a blind follower once again. I was also disappointed that Eggers never went very far with the “tear” within Mae that would come up in times when she seemed to be on the verge of going off the deep end… I really thought that was actually going to go somewhere and lead to an actual plot twist.

All in all, thought (and paranoia) provoking read. It was all very intrigued, but I wish there had been more to the story. I assume that Eggers’ message was that we need to be careful about being fully transparent, giving up our privacy without suspicion of the powers that be, etc. But I guess I was just waiting for an uprising or rebellion of sorts and it was no where to be found.

A Few Favorite Reads of 2016

So, 2016 has finally come to a close. It’s been a shit year y’all, and frankly, I’m still pretty upset about Carrie Fisher, so it didn’t go out so well either. Anyhow, I thought I’d compile a little list of some of my favorite books I’ve read this year (not necessarily books that came out in 2016, just ones I managed to read this year).

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

A Swede named Sara visits a small town in Iowa to meet her pen pal, Amy. However, when Sara gets to Iowa, she arrives just in time for Amy’s funeral. (Sounds more messed up than it turns out to be.) Determined to make the most of her holiday, Sara stays in Amy’s house and slowly becomes a part of the small community of Broken Wheel by opening a bookstore. This is a book for book lovers. It was a bit more Hallmark-movie than I typically enjoy, but it was based almost entirely around the lead character being a bibliophile who isn’t sure what her next move in life should be, sooooo that was enough to keep my interest. There is also a bit of a cheesy/predictable romance, but hey whatever, books!  So, if you consider yourself a book lover, one who likes small town stories, or someone who enjoys cozy fiction reminiscent of a Hallmark movie, this just might be a book for you.

 

 

The Agency Series by Y.S. Lee

The Agency is a YA mystery series about an orphaned Asian-English teenage girl set in Victorian era London. Prior to being discovered by agents of The Agency, Mary Quinn had turned to a life of crime to get by living on the streets. Facing her execution (seriously), she is freed from prison and offered training and a job as an investigator. I loved that this series attempts to take on both gender and racial stereotypes in a Victorian era.It obviously deals with gender norms of the era, and Mary plays the part of a more modern (perhaps too modern for the era) feminist.. or at least very independent women. There is also another fairly predictable romance story line, but when isn’t there in a YA series? Besides, I actually kinda liked this one, there is quite a bit or snark and intellectual burns.

 

 

Bloodline by Claudia Gray

I wrote a more in-depth review for this one a while back, but I felt it deserved to land on my list of favorites for this year. I still haven’t read many Star Wars extended universe books, but I just liked this one so much! It revolves entirely around Senator Leia Organa and her work in the post-Empire Galactic Senate (which, spoiler alert: is basically on the brink of falling apart). This gives us Star Wars nerds a look into what happens in the years between Episode VI and VII. There is scandal, betrayal, secret militias, and even a little bit of Han Solo! Mostly, I just love Leia Organa and think she is a total badass, which certainly contributed to my liking this book so much.

 

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a nerd’s paradise. There is so much content to this book, it’s hard to know where to even start. I’m a late comer to this fandom, and once again it’s Hubby’s fault I got into it. But I’m so glad he kept pestering me to read Ready Player One.
RPO takes place in a future America, 2044, where economic crises abound. (Wade’s living situation reminds me of a depression-era shanty town type situation.) This book takes place partly in the real world, but mostly in the virtual reality world called OASIS.
The main plot is quite similar to Willy Wonka, the billionaire creator of the OASIS has left a treasure hunt within the VR world and the prize is his fortune and the largest share in his VR company. (So, yeah very much like Charlie Bucket finding a Golden Ticket and getting to take over the factory).
There are soooo many pop culture references, particularly 80’s pop culture. If 80’s pop culture, RPGs, video game history, and obscure trivia are your thing, this is definitely a book worth trying. I’d say I was a bit lacking when it came to some of the references (especially classic video games and RPG), but I still greatly enjoyed the overall story. And the characters. I hate when characters don’t develop, but I didn’t feel like that was an issue here, we see Wade at his best and his worst on this journey, and while I really wanted to smack him while he was at his worst, in the end I appreciated his fall into ego mania.

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I finally started reading Agatha Christie this year. (Late to the game much?)
And Then There Were None was the first Christie novel I read, and I absolutely LOVED it. It’s creepy, eerie, and keeps you guessing whodunit til the end, AKA my favorite kind of mystery. Honestly, of the other Agatha Christie books I read this year, this was the one I found most thrilling. Ten individuals are invited to a mysterious gathering on an island with a mysterious host, U. N. Owen.. now, why you would show up to a party when you’re not entirely sure you know the host is beyond me, but whatever. Anyhow, they all show up on this island for a weekend of partying, only to find their “host” is not present, and then they all start getting picked off one by one. It’s creepy, with plenty of plot twists; it’s fabulous.