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review 2018-10-31 19:39
2/5: Moondust, Andrew Smith
Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth - Andrew Smith

In 1999, Andrew Smith was interviewing Charlie Duke, astronaut and moon walker, when he was interrupted. A fellow moon-walker had died, and now there were only nine of them left. Inspired and motivated by the fact that soon there would be none, Smith set out to track them down and talk to them about their experiences…

The first thing to note about this book is how much harder it would be to write today. Now, instead of nine, there are only four (October 30, 2018). Soon there will be none, which is an astonishing thought: For three years, mankind sent people to the moon and then never bothered again.

I know a fair bit about the Apollo program, but Smith throws facts and information into his mix that I wasn’t aware of. He develops relationships with some of the astronauts, and struggles with others. I was most fascinated by the two introverts – Neil Armstrong and John Young. Armstrong avoided all attempts at a face-to-face interview, but Young was stranger: He sat with Smith at a conference table, not opposite, but one chair offset, and gave his bare replies to the wall.

Smith has no idea how to talk to introverts, which I found amusing, since I am one and he’d presumably have as much trouble talking to me. He seems a pleasant enough fellow, but I wonder about his skill as an interviewer if he can’t get what he wants from his subject.

The most annoying thing about the book is Smith’s writing style. Here’s a sample of his compound, complex sentence structure:

“Houston would never win a beauty contest, but Bean’s neighbourhood on the edge of town is lovely, like a series of causeways cut through a friendly forest, saluted by all manner of towering, weeping trees, no one’s idea of Texas.”

…and he runs these throughout the book. Full stops, man. Use. Them.

Also, Smith drops references to the 1960s and assumes his audience is familiar with them. He talks about “Warhol’s Electric Circus” as though we know what he means. Some context would have been nice.

This is a book as much about Smith’s journey as the astronauts. He wonders why he feels motivated to do this project and shifts from controlling fathers to the astronauts as mirrors for ourselves.

At some point, he realises, the experience stopped being theirs and became our expectation of it. We all went to the moon, and we all came back with something different. But we also all came back with the same thing...How fragile we really are:

 

 

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review 2017-09-15 00:40
Stand-off (Review)
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

I am finally reviewing a book I actually read this year! However… I finished it in May, so here’s to the (almost) last shorter-than-normal review. I borrowed a copy of this book from a teacher, so I don’t have any notes or ability to flip back through it and remember my thoughts better; I’ll still give this my best effort at detail, though!

 

As you may remember, Winger was one of my favorite books. It’s not a book that someone like me typically goes for as Ryan Dean West is not typically the type of character I enjoy reading. However, something about Andrew Smith’s ability to craft him as this realistic, perfectly imperfect guy just struck a chord with me. Winger also ripped my heart out unexpectedly, which always scores points with me.

 

When I discovered that Winger had a sequel, I had to read it right away. Fortunately, the teacher I was working with let me borrow it, and I got to reading right away. I got through the first third no problem, but then it took me several months to pick it up again. When I finally did, I binged the last part in a day or two. I worried that I had outgrown Ryan Dean, but I was delighted to discover that Andrew Smith still had the ability to make me laugh out loud and cry within mere pages of each other.

 

Stand-off explores a lot of themes related to grief and especially avoiding grief. Ryan Dean goes through a lot of things he can’t quite explain, and this book is about him trying to understand himself again and dealing with the fact that he doesn’t want to be miserable for the rest of his life. I completely empathize with NATE (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) because I experienced the same thing after one of my friends passed away in high school. I thought this novel was excellently crafted, and it is a great follow-up to Winger. However, it lacked the same sparkle, and I found myself missing that all-encompassing enthusiasm for the book. It had an overly-satisfying ending, in that everything wrapped up with a pretty, little bow, and the resolution seemed forced to me. After the unexpectedly world-shattering ending of Winger, I could have stood an ending less-than-ideal than this one. It felt like Smith really wanted to end this story, and he wrote out a resolution that would leave no room for speculation or further wondering. I loved the ending of Winger without the idea of a sequel, so having a sequel that perfectly wrapped up the story I’d loved so much was fairly disappointing.

 

Overall: As with Winger, I don’t recommend this to younger readers. Ryan Dean West may be fifteen years old, but I doubt I’d let my kid read it at fifteen. Use discretion because there is a lot of language and Ryan Dean West is a teenage boy who thinks like a teenage boy, but, unlike how I usually feel, it all contributes to the characters and the story overall. Stand-off wasn’t as brilliant as Winger, but it’s still worth reading if you loved the first book.

 

Read the review on my blog:

http://thaliasbooks.tumblr.com/post/165345904967/stand-off-review

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review 2017-07-17 13:53
Electromagnetism - Samie Sands,Kevin Hal... Electromagnetism - Samie Sands,Kevin Hall,L Davis,Martin Smith,Andrew Lucas,Alex Winck,T Iain,McKenzie Richardson,Sheri Velarde,Rob Shepherd
As a contributor of this book, I feel it would be unfair for me to give it a star rating. However, here are some of my thoughts on the book.

The theme of this book is technology and each author has his or her own spin on this. There are so many creepy things in this book and it is splendid.

Two of my favorites (besides my own) were "Touch" by TW Iain and "Domain of the Dragon" by L.H. Davis. The writing in each of these is fantastic. I love how unsettling "Touch" is.

My story is called "From the Depths" and is for all of the shark-lovers out there. Hope you enjoy.
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text 2017-05-10 00:31
Finished!
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

My relationship with reading has been totally off the rails, I must admit... I binged the first third of this book in one day, then left it alone for almost a month, then binged the last two-thirds between yesterday and this afternoon. The weather has been super nice here in the last couple days, so I got a nice sunburn by reading on my back porch yesterday, hahah.

 

Anyway, Stand-off was not quite the masterpiece that Winger was, but it still did an excellent job of continuing the story. It's not nearly as gut-wrenching, and you're left feeling pretty satisfied with the ways things turn out. I think my biggest complaint is that the ending (pretty happily-ever-after-esque) felt a tad bit forced, so I didn't quite believe in it. However, Ryan Dean did not disappoint as a narrator, and he was as witty and outrightly honest as he always has been.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed Stand-off, but I'm not sure it's one I would reread. I would go back to Winger again in a heartbeat, but this one didn't have that same pull to it. 

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text 2017-04-01 01:55
105 of 401 (26%)
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

Holy cow. It's been awhile since I read Winger, and I worried that maybe I would have outgrown Ryan Dean's absurd narration. Note: I have outgrown nothing, and he still has me laughing out loud.

 

Andrew Smith has created such a unique character with Ryan Dean, and I am so thrilled to find the changes in his character since the events of Winger. I've already laughed out loud AND cried (within about five minutes of each other), which is always a good sign. I'm so excited to see where this goes and to finally be back into reading!

 

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