Sunday, March 31, 2019

Spin (by Robert Charles Wilson) and The Hating Game (by Sally Thorne)

I finished two books recently, both genre fiction, and my thoughts on each are relatively brief, so here's a two-for-one post.

Spin (by Robert Charles Wilson)

A long sci-fi novel with a fascinating premise and a drippy main character. The female characters are not rendered well. I should have bailed on this one but I was expecting the narrator to jet off to Mars any second now. (Spoiler: he does not jet off to Mars any second now.)

The Hating Game (by Sally Thorne)

A romantic comedy about two coworkers who really, really, really hate each other and are competing for the same job. I'm sure you can guess where it goes from there. The characters are delightful, especially our lead character, Lucy. The book is sexy and fun and seems quite popular on Goodreads. A cute workplace romance!

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Mini-Break Books

I took a very quick trip to Los Angeles to attend a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend concert,  and finished a couple of books in the process. Here they are!

 Autoboyography (by Christina Lauren)

 A young adult M/M romance that feels like excellently written fanfiction, especially the ending. The leads fall in love instantly, true love conquers all, etc. Definitely good moments but I definitely understand what my friend Jen talks about when she rants about straight white women fetishizing gay boys. I didn't feel that in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda but I definitely feel that here.

The Dreamers (by Karen Thompson Walker)

I LOVED THIS NOVEL. This is a story about a deadly "sleep virus" that infects a California town, and the novel follows various inhabitants of that town as they deal with the crisis, including new parents, a college student, two girls with a survivalist father, a doctor, and a college professor whose husband is near-catatonic in a nursing home. A bit slow paced, but it contains so many beautiful meditations on love and parenthood and really sticks the landing. One of my top reads of the year so far.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (by Gabrielle Zevin)

A very humane and lovely little book that also serves as a love letter to books and reading. It's interesting how my library usage has started impacting my reading -- in this case, I checked all four of my libraries (I may have a problem) to see what was expiring soon, saw that this expired in 19 hours, and decided to try and finish it. It's a short book so I finished it in an evening.

A.J. Fikry is an unhappy bookshop owner on Alice Island. His wife has recently died, and he's not coping super well. But when a baby is left in his store, his heart starts cracking open, letting in characters like the town's police chief, a publishing representative, and the aforementioned baby. It follows the next decade or so of his life and is ultimately heartwarming, a bit melancholy, and sweet.

Reminded me a bit of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in terms of the small town feel and flavor. Thank you Miriam for the recommendation!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (by Hank Green)

I put Hank Green's novel on my library list ages ago, and it finally came through right when I was in the mood to read it! Unlike his brother John, Hank Green doesn't write young adult; his characters are in their early twenties.

The premise is fairly silly: strange statues appear in cities all over the world, a woman and her friend make a YouTube video, they go viral, the statues might be aliens. Clearly it's a way for Green to explore the headiness of "Tier Three fame" around a fun sci-fi framework. The sci-fi elements are definitely fun, however, I have some nitpicks. I can suspend disbelief about the alien statues, but not the way the government operates in this book.  Also, I can't believe a twentysomething woman would use the phrase "got you by the short hairs." A dead giveaway that a dude is writing this.

I like the character of April May though; she's not very sympathetic and she does incredibly dumb things but I like her honesty about her unsympatheticness. I am very invested in her relationship with Maya. Unfortunately the book ends on a cliffhanger and is part of a planned two-book series. I hate this. Tell me before I start the book that it doesn't have a satisfying ending. Ugh, this ruined Crazy Rich Asians for me too.

It's possible to have a satisfying ending and also be part of a series -- J.K. Rowling manages this fine! But you need to have some kind of closure and not just abruptly end out of nowhere. Anyway I'm still mad about it, but I'll definitely read the next one anyway,

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There There (by Tommy Orange)

The last Tournament book I read before the competition got underway, and it was a good one! Would not be sad to see this one win, as opposed to, oh, all the other books except My Sister the Serial Killer. 

It's a multi-character narrative of American Indian characters in Oakland, leading up to the big powwow (the Big Oakland Powwow) at the end of the novel. The characters are interconnected in interesting ways, and Orange provides a glimpse of contemporary Indian life through many facets of these many characters.

It has my least favorite kind of ending (I won't spoil it but maybe you remember what it is) and yet in this case it feels more earned and more interesting than usual. Looking forward to the discussion about this one next week!

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Friday, March 01, 2019

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (by John Carreyrou)

A riveting piece of journalism about the Theranos scandal; a Silicon Valley startup that spectacularly deceived investors and made its CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, briefly very rich and very famous. This is told by the Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story, and he recounts Holmes's duplicity from the inside, and then how he had to deal with Theranos's no-holds-barred intimidation of him and his sources. Everyone from Joe Biden to Jim Mattis is implicated in this fascinating story.

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