Monthly Archives: March 2014

Texts From Librarians: A Review Preview

Ms. Barrows and I both read some good books over break, and will have full reviews soon, but we thought we’d give you a bit of a preview of what’s to come.

And so I present: Mr. Gette and Ms. Barrow’s Spring Break Texting History.

 

Saturday, March 15, 4:54 pm

JG: I am 424 pages into Night Film.

JB: That good, huh?

JG: We’ll see how it wraps up.

 

Saturday, March 15, 6:52 pm

JG: Finished Night Film. It was good, but I’m kind of disappointed.

JB: That’s too bad! I”m going to start The Death of Bees tomorrow.

 

Monday, March 17, 1:53 pm

JG: The Martian is AMAZING!

 

Monday, March 17, 3:03 pm

JB: Death of Bees is immensely readable and so messed up.

JG: I got that impression. I am going to finish The Martian so I can pass it on to you tomorrow. Also because I can’t put it down.

JG: Fangirl has competition.

 

Wednesday, March 19, 7:15

JG: Just finished Help for the Haunted. It’s a whole bunch of mysteries tangled together, with a decent dash of spook. Didn’t love the ending, but I think that’s partly due to personal prejudice.

JB: What’s the personal prejudice?

[ED: Rest of conversation redacted due to spoilers]

 

Thursday, March 20, 9:45 am

JB: I LOVED DEATH OF BEES

JG: Despite or because of how messed up it is?

JB: Both. In some ways, it fits together a little too nicely at the end.

JB: But there are no holes in the plot structure, and I”m borderline impressed the author pulled it off.

JB: I think she also did a good job of swapping between narratives.

JG: Yeah, the two points of view (and the resulting differences in the story) were something I really liked in the excerpt I read.

JG: Martian next? I am trying to decide between Lexicon and Lives of Tao.

JB: Yes next.

 

Thursday, March 20, 11:25 am

JB:

martian1

 

JB: The vampire line is my favorite so far.

JG: Love this book.

 

Thursday, March 20, 12:53 pm

JB:IMG_1655

JB: Just laughed very loudly in quiet car on the train.

 

Saturday, March 22, 11:29 am

JG:

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JG: The local library had a long hold list, and I need my sister to read them. Also I have poor impulse control.

JB: LOL. I finished The Martian and gave it to my sister.

JG: Well, I was jealous because her library had Ancillary Justice, so I decided to just buy my own copy. They didn’t have it. But it put the others within reach…

 

Thursday, March 27, 1:04 pm

JG: I do not care about aliens.

JB: And?

JG: I think that’s why Lives of Tao isn’t doing it for me.

JB: Drop it, then.

 

And there you have it! Action packed excitement from beginning to end.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this preview of our coming attractions.

 

-Signing off, Mr. Gette (who feels really bad about not finishing The Lives of Tao…)

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: How to Say Goodbye in Robot, by Natalie Standiford

robot

*WARNING* How to Say Goodbye in Robot is not sci-fi. It is not WALL-E. Robot does not involve futuristic technologies of any kind – in fact, author Natalie Standiford embraces and utilizes the polar opposite in this completely straightforward non-genre fiction. And by polar opposite, I’m talkin’ rotary phones, old movies, and the art of the late night radio show.

Protagonist Bea (trice) is a robot, according to her slightly off-the-rails-crazy mother. Cold, removed, unfeeling – robot. Or maybe, Bea has given up on human connection by the time her serial moving family finally lands in Baltimore for her senior year of high school. As Bea is forced to navigate a tiny, exclusive private school with only a handful of students per grade, she wonders if maybe robot is the way to go. Who really wants to be friends with girls who nicknamed the grade’s second Ann AWAE (Ann-Without-An-E) because Anne-with-an-E was there first? Bea misses how her mom used to be, because currently her mom alternates between slightly manic and less-than-slightly depressive states. But really, Bea misses the late-night AM radio show she listened to in upstate New York. The Bob Decker Show: Late Night Talk – Can You Handle the Truth?

Then Jonah crash lands a paper airplane into Bea’s lunch tray, and she meets the Night Light AM radio show. Two friendless, unhappy insomniacs, one boy and one girl, who meet in real life as Bea and Jonah and on the radio as Ghost Boy and Robot Girl. Add in Jonah/Ghost Boy’s secret past, and you have a recipe for heterosexual romance, right? Wrong…kind of.

Standiford really let me down in the way of character development. Bea’s mother’s mysterious descent into house-wife crazy is intriguing, but largely unexplored by the end of Robot. Jonah’s mysterious, lying father is equal parts pitiable and evil…but why? Jonah and Bea develop a brilliant, loving relationship that is markedly unique from the boy-girl relationships that pepper Young Adult fiction, but it feels rushed. Maybe I was spoiled by the meandering fruition of Eleanor and Park and Cath and Levi, but I was almost surprised by the made-for-tv-movie suddenness of Jonah and Bea.

Despite complaints, Standiford committed to things new and/or rarely attempted in YA fiction. I highly recommend How to Say Goodbye in Robot for those who want real-world fiction with minimal focus on romance.

Read if you like: the good ol’ days, insomnia, Baltimore, old fashioned radio shows, lonely misfits

Don’t read if you like: super top-notch technology and nothing else EVER

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who plans to start calling her friend Ann AWAE)

Book Review: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Ready_Player_One_coverYou may remember Ready Player One from when I mentioned it in my Summer Reading Preview, and again in the “What I didn’t read” section of my Summer Reading Recap. You may also notice that it is March, and rather closer to Summer ’14 than Summer ’13.

It gets worse. When I opened my copy last week, I found that the place where I’d left off was marked with  plane ticket. From October 2012.

Dear past self: What were you waiting for?

I read Ready Player One in 2 nights: one to reread the first third, which I obviously needed a refresher on, and one to finish it.  I raced through it like Indiana Jones through a lost temple. It is, at its heart, a treasure hunt. An incredibly rich game developer has died, leaving his fortune  and company to the first person who can solve his clues and find the prize hidden in a giant, immersive video game. The man was obsessed with 80’s pop culture, and to solve his puzzles you need an encyclopedic knowledge of movies, music, tv shows, and – most of all – video games. Ready Player One pits one teenager and his friends against a huge corporation with less than altruistic motives and zero scruples. But this is also a story about escapism: if your real life sucks, and a tangible fantasy world was only a keyboard and monitor away, where would you spend most of your time?

Video games, 80’s references, taking on The Man – what’s not to love?

Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook. I’ll be picking that up, too.

If you like Ready Player one, you might like:

Reamde, by Neal Stephenson

Halting State, by Charles Stross

For the Win, by Cory Doctorow

– Signing off, Mr Gette (who is walking on sunshine).