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text 2019-01-09 23:37
Not to my liking (DNF)
The Sellout: A Novel - Paul Beatty

Besides being on the bestseller list, it came highly recommended to me by a patron at my branch who felt so strongly about it that she went to the shelf, brought it to me at circulation, and insisted I check it out immediately. I hadn't heard anything about this book before she placed it in my hands despite the praise it had received from the literati of the world. This book is a conundrum to me. It has been touted as an uproariously hilarious satirical take on race and culture in America. I'll agree with the latter part of that statement but I didn't find it funny in the least. In fact, I found that the 'jokes' were not at all to my taste. This is probably due to the amount of books on race and culture I've read over the last year but I just couldn't read this book without feeling thoroughly depressed at what felt almost hyper realistic. Now I made it halfway through this book so I feel like I got the overall gist and flavor of the thing. The narrator (name not revealed beyond the nickname BonBon) lives on a farm in the middle of a Californian ghetto called Dickens where you're more likely to see cows on the side of the road than a white person walking their dog. The book starts with him being called before the Supreme Court on an issue of dragging black people's progress back to the time of slavery...because he has a slave of his own. I don't know what this book was but I do know that I didn't like it and I have no intention of finishing it in the future. Progress: 145 out of 289 pages.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-01-09 23:34
What a weighty tome! (DNF)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond

This is a weighty book, ya'll. Jared Diamond's book had been on my list for ages because once upon a time it had been on one of my recommended reading lists for an undergraduate Anthropology class (I majored in that field). I didn't have the time to read it then (it is 425 pages after all) but the topic still intrigued me. Much like the book above I was interested in the subject matter and found no fault with the writing style (other than it being more like a textbook than casual, recreational reading) but it was so dense that I didn't always feel compelled to pick it up in a spare moment. (I also kept falling asleep for some reason.) Progress: I made it to page 290 before I had to concede defeat (and ship it to the next person waiting to read it).

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-01-05 02:00
More people should be reading Shaun Tan
Tales from the Inner City - Shaun Tan

Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan reminds me why I'm always telling everyone that Shaun Tan is my favorite illustrator. His illustrations are beautiful and his prose is wonderfully written. Organized by different animals, the chapters explore various aspects of humanity with short essays (and in some cases poems) accompanied by full page color illustrations. I broke down a few of the stories to my mom who thought they were rather dark and bleak but I explained this is how Tan gets his meaning across. This book looks at life in the inner city through the eyes of animals as a way to explore humanity both its cruel, despairing underbelly and its hopeful, optimistic fur (this analogy got away from me). For example, one story features a secretary who walks into the boardroom of the company she works for only to find that all the members of the board have inexplicably turned into frogs. She goes panics (including going back to her desk to play a few hands of computer solitaire) and worries she will be blamed and possibly fired before deciding the best course is to take these frogs home and care for them as if they were her pets. It turns out that this suits both herself and the frogs equally well because they were tired of being burdened with the troubles of being human. And here we thought all frogs wanted to be turned into handsome princes!

 

Tan shines a light on the darker aspects of humanity like cruelty, thoughtlessness, divisiveness, and greed because he wants to show that this isn't all that we are and we can strive for so much more. His work is considered sci-fi/fantasy because the scenarios themselves are 'unrealistic' like men turning into frogs or pigs that can survive even if you're hacking into them piece by piece over several weeks. But haven't you thought about what it would be like to walk away from all of your responsibilities and have someone else take care of you without any design or nefarious intention? What if you lived in a place where almost everything was industrialized and you were simply a cog in a giant machine slogging away in a factory hating your day to day? And what if the only bright point in your life happened at the end of your shift when you and your fellow employees climbed onto the back of the last surviving (ginormous) yak?  That seemed pretty believable up until that very last line didn't it? That's because there's a touch of reality mixed in with the absurd making this one of the loveliest things I've read in quite a while. If you've never read Tan before pick up Tales from the Inner City and then pick up everything else he's ever written because you'll be hooked. 10/10

 

The corporate frogs. [Source 3x3 Magazine]

Source: 3x3 Magazine

 

Source: BookTrust

 

 

What's Up Next: Dear Sister by Alison McGhee & illustrated by Joe Bluhm

 

What I'm Currently Reading: ???

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-26 02:03
Machine Metal Magic (Mind + Machine #1)
Machine Metal Magic (Mind + Machine #1) - Hanna Dare

I saw this described as Firefly-inspired sci-fi, and while I don't normally read sci-fi, I'm a huge Firefly fan so I had to give this one a try. There is certainly a strong Firefly influence, with a good dose of Skynet from Terminator. Basically, in a dystopic future, the machines have turned against humanity, pushing humans off Earth and out into the universe, where we've made a survival/living for ourselves in a system with moons we can populate and hide from the machines, here called the Singularity.

 

Some factions exist among the survivors wanting to take humans back to the pre-Industrial age. Other people have genetically altered themselves to be able to talk to computers. How that's a genetic ability, I don't know, but *hand wave sci-fi mumbo jumbo*. There's a big clash between these two groups. 

 

It's in this future that we find the crew of the Serenity...er, I mean, the Wayward Prince. I think this was a little too much like Firefly, but without the character building of the "side" characters that I would have expected. We know their names, what they do on the ship (kind of) and maybe one personality thing about them, but other than that, I really only got a clear picture of the captain, Sebastian Garcia and of Mags, the Mal and Zoe of the crew. 

 

As for the MCs, we've got Rylan, the newest member of the crew and his kind-of-but-not-really hostage Jaime Bashir, who joins the crew on a temporary basis. Jaime's a "wizard" and can talk to computers directly. Rylan has some secrets, and that's really all I can say about that. Oh, and he has an artificial arm with computer components and he's not that keen on the idea of someone being around who can manipulate his arm besides him. While their first encounter wasn't ideal, they quickly become allies and friends.

 

This was a lot of fun, and the world building was more or less handled well, not too info-dumpy but sprinkled throughout as needed. Once the action starts, it doesn't really stop, but it doesn't really get going until the last quarter of the book when we find out more about what Rylan's actually up to. The characters are all lovable, as much as we know about them - but then I'm basing that mostly on Firefly as, again, we didn't get to spend a lot of time with many of them.

 

And that's the main issue I had here. As much fun as this was, it really needed to be longer, to take some more time than it does between the action to show us who all these multiple characters are and why we should care about them. But this is the first in a series, and as an intro, it does a decent job of setting the board. Hopefully, we'll see more character development for everyone in future books.

 

The editing is mostly good, but there are missing words throughout, pretty critical ones too. 

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review 2018-12-21 19:57
When aliens meet the Internet
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel - Hank Green

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green is a sci-fi sociopolitical commentary about the perils and pitfalls of Internet fame as well as social cooperation on a global scale. In Green's debut novel, April May finds what she thinks is an art installation in the heart of New York City so in true millennial fashion she enlists the help of her friend Andy to film their first interaction with what they dub as 'Carl' the robot. While this may be the first video of its kind with one of these robots it turns out that there is one in every major city in the world...and they're clearly alien to our planet. What follows is a realistic look at the arrival of Internet fame and someone completely unprepared to deal with the visibility and responsibility of such a mantle. Trolls, flame wars, sycophants, corporate deals, possible planet-wide destruction, and girlfriend drama are just a few of the myriad dilemmas that our main character finds herself facing. I didn't find April May to be a particularly likable or endearing character which made it difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her plights. I'm not certain but perhaps Green intended for the reader to feel rather indifferent towards her to illustrate how as a society we tend to place any kind of 'celebrity' up on a pedestal but like any human being they have faults and foibles. If that was his goal then he accomplished it I think. Some of the pros: I really enjoyed the shared dream aspect as it felt like a callback to The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time but I felt like it could have used more detail/descriptors instead of focusing so much on April's inner turmoils. I also liked how Green wrote about a topic that has only really been touched on in nonfiction formats (although Zoe Sugg's series Girl Online discussed it too) and couched it in a sci-fi framework. Some things I didn't love: Uneven attention to detail and the ending was less than stellar. (I'd go so far as to say it was crappy.) Overall, this wasn't the best sci-fi novel I've ever read (not by a wide margin) but it also wasn't the worst. For a debut attempt, I think it was pretty well executed and I'd be interested to see what he might create in the future. 4/10

 

I choose to believe this is an aerial shot of the shared dream. [End paper source: Noteworthy]

 

What's Up Next: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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