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review 2017-10-22 06:04
Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
Vintage: A Ghost Story - Berman, Steve,Steve Berman

Vintage’s protagonist is an unnamed mostly closeted gay teen, who I will call MC (short for “Main Character”) from here on out. MC ran away from home after his parents reacted badly to learning that he was gay, so now he lives with his aunt, who he’s afraid might do the same thing. The only people who know his secret are his new friend Trace and several other friends she introduced him to.

His life here is better than it had been back with his parents. He has friends, he’s convinced his aunt to let him drop out of school and get his GED and work instead, and he likes his job at the vintage clothing shop. Still, a part of him is always afraid that the wrong person will find out he’s gay and ruin everything and, at the same time, he desperately wants a boyfriend. When he sees a cute boy in vintage clothes walking alone, he takes a risk and talks to him. And even though he’s a weird goth kid talking to a guy dressed like a jock, it doesn’t go badly! Unfortunately for MC, Josh, the cute boy, is a ghost.

At first, MC and Trace are delighted at the prospect of meeting a real ghost. However, things soon take a turn for the worse. Josh follows MC home. Although MC is excited that a boy is finally interested in him, Josh’s touch could literally suck the life out of him. Josh’s raging jealousy is another problem. If MC and Trace can’t figure out how to put Josh to rest, MC and anyone he cares out could end up dead.

The first half of this book wasn’t my cup of tea at all. Nearly every character was messed up in some way, and it seemed like a potentially murderous ghost was the least of their problems. Liz's parents were mostly absent. Trace's mother was in an institution, her older brother, Mike, was either dead or a runaway, and her mother had her younger brother as a replacement for her older brother, even going so far as to name him after him. MC had tried to commit suicide in the past but instead had just woken up in a puddle of his own vomit.

MC’s friends’ idea of fun was getting together and drinking something called Jim Joneses, a mixture of different flavors of Kool-Aid, vodka, and, in one special glass, a random crushed up pill from the hostess’s medicine cabinet. At the particular gathering featured in the book, they then tried out a Ouija board - at the time, only Trace and MC knew it would be a bad idea for MC to be involved in anything like that.

At any rate, this had more drug use and steamier sex than I generally expect to find in a young adult book. For those wondering, I felt the drug use was at least presented as a negative thing, and the sex (a couple scenes, if I remember right) was explicit enough to include bodily fluids but wasn’t otherwise very detailed.

The second half of the book was better than the first. It included more ghost scenes, including one aspect I love in “I can see ghosts” stories: MC realizing that he can’t always tell when the person he’s seeing or talking to is a ghost or not. Creepy. My favorite instance of this involved a ghost with a connection to one of MC’s friends.

Another nice thing about the second half of the book was the way MC gradually gained self-confidence. He learned that there were more supportive people in his life than he realized, and he started a relationship with a boy who was a much healthier option than Josh. I liked how their relationship progressed, and I liked the way MC did his best to keep from rushing him into anything. They seemed like they’d make a sweet couple.

I thought I’d end up hating this book, but it actually grew on me. I don’t know that I’d ever want to reread it, but if there were ever a sequel I’d probably give it a shot. And I’d hope that Mike got a prominent role. Considering his situation, it was amazing how well-adjusted he was. Instead of ingesting pills like everyone else, he created amazing sculptures.

One thing I’m still wondering about: why MC was never named. At first, I assumed it was a sign of his low self-esteem. If someone had told him he was a character in a book and asked him to guess what his role probably was, in the first half of the book he’d probably have said Trace was the main character and he was her sidekick. He viewed her as perfect and wonderful, while he was anything but. It was painful. He became more confident later on, but when the perfect opportunity presented itself for the author to finally have another character name him, all readers got was something along the lines of “He said my name.” If the name thing had been meant as an indicator of his feelings about himself, it would have made more sense to have someone finally say his name at some point near the end.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-10-22 00:00
#30DaysofReadathon - Day 10 through 1
Is It Just Me? - Miranda Hart
The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado - Holly Bailey
Fever 1793 - Laurie Halse Anderson
The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow - Olivia Newport
Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan,Fiona Staples
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street - Michael Lewis
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World - Michael Lewis
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - Michael Lewis

Last round.....

 

Day 10 Rainbow - IG post from COYER Summer 2017 edition https://www.instagram.com/p/BXm9lPTBN_U/?taken-by=tearainbook

 

Day 9 Spines - another IG post from COYER Summer 2017 edition https://www.instagram.com/p/BXtcs5LhArT/?taken-by=tearainbook

 

Day 8 Funny - Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart (and it is a shame she isn't more loved by folks in the US)

 

Day 7 Sad - The Mercy of the Sky by Holly Bailey (the part when she wrote of the rescue and recovery at the elementary school killed me)

 

Day 6 Time - Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (a great middle grade book about a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia)

 

Day 5 Place - The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport (Chicago during the World's Fair)

 

Day 4 Plans - my bedroom will be center stage for my reading - it is the only place I can get some quiet.

 

Day 3 Break - I plan on taking a break to sleep. A short catnip can give the reader a better recharge than drinking caffeine. I plan to get a few hours over the course of the read-a-thon.

 

Day 2 New - Saga series by Brian Kl Vaughan and Fiona Staples

 

Day 1 Stack - Books by Michael Lewis I have read and recommend:

                       Moneyball

                       Liar's Poker

                       The Big Short

                       Boomerang

                       Flash Boys

                      

                      

                      

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text 2017-10-21 22:41
Game/Interactive story review: Tacoma

 

I suppose you could call Tacoma an adventure game, although it more of an interactive story than a game. There are a few instances where you need to figure out people’s passcodes, but they’re so easy to figure out that they don’t really count as puzzles.

You play as Amy Ferrier, a contractor sent to Tacoma station by Venturis, the company that owns Tacoma. A short while ago an accident happened and the station, which had housed six human employees, one AI named ODIN, and a cat, is now abandoned. Your job is to explore the station and retrieve AI-recorded data and ODIN’s wetware.

The AI-recorded data takes the form of recordings that your augmented reality device allows you to see as though you’re glimpsing into the station’s past. All the characters are represented by colored silhouettes of themselves. You can rewind and fastforward in order to follow different people and occasionally access their emails and other files.

I can’t say too much about the story because it’s fairly simple and it’d be too easy to give everything away. The big question, as you’re playing, is what happened and whether anyone survived. Although you play as Amy, you aren’t privy to her thoughts. She knows more about the situation and what’s going on than you do, but it’s okay, because nothing in the game prevents you from taking as much time as you’d like in each area of the station. Just make sure you don’t leave a particular part of the station until you’ve done everything you want to do - I’m fairly certain you can’t go back or, if you can, AR data will no longer be accessible in that area.

As you travel through the station, you learn more about each of the characters: E.V., the station administrator; Clive, the operations specialist; Natali, the network specialist; Roberta (Bert), the mechanical engineer; Andrew, the botanist; and Sareh, the medic. You also get to see them interact with ODIN and, if you purchased the game through Steam, you can try to find the station cat in order to get one of the Steam achievements. I had fun trying to think of where the cat might decide to nap in each area, although I did worry that I'd end up witnessing its death. (Spoiler:

the cat makes it through just fine.)

(spoiler show)


The cast is diverse, both in terms of race and sexual orientation. As you look through their belongings (to whatever degree you’d like - I was curious and it didn’t feel too creepy, so I looked through every drawer and locker I could), you find out more about how they all got along and what their problems and issues were. My favorite character out of the bunch was probably Sareh, who had anxiety and panic attacks due to an event in her past, but who was still competent and professional despite that. I really liked her and ODIN’s interactions, even as I worried about ODIN being the only one she could confide in.

As someone who loves AI characters, I enjoyed ODIN and I loved the role he played in the story. I did find myself wishing for a bit more from him - players don’t get much of his perspective until the very end of the game.

Tacoma is very short. Even though I spent quite a bit of time exploring and looking at unimportant things like random packages, wrappers, and coffee mugs, I finished the whole thing (minus a few Steam achievements) in about four hours. That said, my biggest complaint about the game wasn’t the length, but rather how playing the game affected me physically.

When I first started, I couldn’t play for more than 20 minutes or so before developing headaches and nausea. I tried messing with the Gameplay and Graphics settings, turning off “head bob” and trying out different FOV settings, but it only seemed to help a little. The best solution I found was actually remembering to wear my glasses while playing. I don’t usually wear them at home and rarely wear them while watching TV or playing games, and it almost never causes a problem. In this case, though, it turns out they were vital. They never completely got rid of my headache and nausea problem, but without them I’d probably still be creeping my way through the game in 20-minute increments.

All in all, this was a simple and fairly short story told in a fascinating way. I loved getting to find out what happened in bits and pieces via AR data, files, notes, ads, and emails. Although I found myself wishing that the story had been a little bit more flexible and allowed for other endings, I was happy with the one ending players were given.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-10-21 20:03
Reading progress update: I've read 154 out of 154 pages.
Vintage: A Ghost Story - Berman, Steve,Steve Berman

Finished! The second half was more enjoyable than the first, thank goodness. There were some nice ghost moments, and Mike, Trace's little brother, was sweet and probably the least messed up character in the story, despite his history. I'm still wondering what the point was of not naming the main character. If the idea was to present him as someone who didn't have the self-esteem to accept himself as the main character of his own story, it would have been better to allow his name to finally be mentioned somewhere in the second half of the story, when he started to become more confident.

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text 2017-10-21 20:00
#30DaysofReadathon - Day 20 through 11
Kiss of Crimson - Lara Adrian
Food: A Love Story - Jim Gaffigan
Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End - Jennifer Worth
London; the story of the greatest city on Earth. - Edward Rutherford
Night - Elie Wiesel,Robert McAfee Brown,Fran├žois Mauriac,Stella Rodway
Naked in Death - J.D. Robb

Continuing on with challenge...

 

Day 20 Best - Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian (the best out of the Midnight Breed series; Dante and Tessa is my favorite couple)

 

Day 19 Graphic - that's easy, my favorite graphic is the Wonder Woman symbol.

 

Day 18 Alternative - I participate in the 24 in 48 read-a-thon and Bout of Books, two alternatives to the Dewey.

 

Day 17 Listen - Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

 

Day 16 Green - Call the Midwife, Volume 3: Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth

 

Day 15 Thick - London: The Novel by Edward Rutherford

 

Day 14 Thin - Night by Elie Wiesel

 

Day 13 Genre - My favorite will always be the romance genre. Hands down.

 

Day 12 Exercise - does pushing my luck or getting a good temper started count? I guess I like to walk in the Thetford Forest next to my house.

 

Day 11 Exciting - Naked in Death by JD Robb

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