Friday, May 27, 2016

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) {A Little of the Book Life Review}

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) 

Title: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
Author: Felicia Day
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication Date: August 2015
Source: Library audio book (own paperback)

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world... or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was "home-schooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

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So I've said this before. Audio books and I don't really mix all that great. It's not that I can't hear or don't want to listen to them. It's that I lose focus. So typically I only listen to audio books for rereads, just in case. And the reader of the book matters immensely. Rebecca Gibel, who narrated the Splintered series by AG Howard was amazing. Will Patton, narrator of The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater? Superb. Whoever it was that attempted to narrate The Hunger Games? Um... no. But Felicia Day? Narrating her own memoir? A-freaking-awesome. And it wasn't a re-read. I was on a road trip all by my lonesome and needed company.  :)

I can't say enough good things about this book. I've seen Felicia Day in a few things - the first few episodes of The Guild (time hasn't allowed me to continue, but I plan on it), Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer... but I've never really 'followed' her, per se. But this book... this book, despite all of our actual differences, made me feel like someone got me. And I still feel that's a little weird to say, given that it's not like we actually had a conversation. And we are ENTIRELY different people with different life styles and ambitions. But there was something about her openness, her honesty, that struck a chord with me. And I love her for it.

I'm not a gamer. I'm not "into" mass-multi-player-online-role-playing-games (see, I'm sure that's not even right... that's how much I'm not "into" it). I haven't the slightest what Felicia was talking about when on those subjects. But she made it relatable and did not come across as being put out by someone reading/listening to her book who didn't know the ins and outs of gaming.

I want to sit down with her and have coffee and pancakes and talk about life. #lifegoals  :)

If you've read it, do you share my enthusiasm? If you haven't, I really suggest you look into it. You might just be surprised. 


Friday, March 25, 2016

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley {A Little of the Book Life Review}

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: September 2014
Source: Library
Read in May 2015... this review has been sitting in my drafts... whoops! lol

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

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I really loved this book. I cared about the characters from page 1. I wanted to cry, cringe, throw things... I hated that I was reading a fiction story based on facts. That these types of things, and worse, happened to anyone. The writing just pulls me and I feel like I'm there. Like I'm going through what these young women are going through. And I definitely wasn't there. I've never lived in Virginia, I didn't live through  desegregation; I never experienced any of that. But this author made me feel like I did.

If I had rated the book 2/3 of the way in, it probably would have been a resounding five stars. I loved it that much. I felt it. But then it started to feel rushed. And slightly... preachy, maybe. And it all wrapped up so neatly with a pretty bow on top... and not that I don't like happy endings. I do. I really do. But it didn't feel as real to me with that bow.

Then there's the issues. While it's a book essentially about racism, about segregation/desegregation and what it meant to those kids who were experiencing it, the issue of sexuality was brought in, as well as abuse. It's obvious very early on that Sarah experiences feelings for girls that she "should" be experiencing for boys. By the end of the book, I kinda felt like the author was saying "How many issues can I throw into one book and make it work?" Most of it did. And while I get that Sarah is a God-fearing Christian who is highly involved in the church, the Bible quoting and relentless thoughts/talks about sin could have been pared down some for my tastes.

Overall, though, I found it to be a very enlightening and engaging read. So, despite a few minor hangups, I'm going with four (really four and a half, probably) stars. I loved the characters, and even though it seemed to me (again, I wasn't there in that time period, so there's that) that some of the romantic (for lack of a better, more proper, word) elements were a bit far-fetched, I rooted for them to survive, to believe in themselves, and to develop their own beliefs and not just regurgitate what their elders and peers were always saying.

This is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone who:
  • loves a good story
  • enjoys historical fiction
  • wants likeable and hateable (is that a word?) characters
  • like authors who drag them along with their writing
  • needs a supplemental historical fiction book when teaching about Civil Rights
Have you read it? What'd you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey {A Little of the Book Life Review}

The Girl With All the Gifts

Title: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: April 2015
Source: Own
Rating: 4 stars

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

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I am so shocked. Seriously. So this book came to my attention via Maggie Stiefvater's Twitter feed a while back. She said, "The most sure-footed novel I've read all year. A dystopian thriller with a real, beating heart. Recommend. Recommend. Recommend." I added it to my TBR list that moment. On a whim I suggested it to my book group and they said it sounded "promising"... so here I am on the other side of the beginning.

I'm going to attempt to talk about this book without any spoilers. I knew nothing other than the synopsis from GoodReads and what Maggie had said about it. I want to leave you all with that same experience should you choose to read it. If I had known more, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much as I did.

From page one I was drawn into the story. I love that it started with Melanie. I'm not sure it could have been done any other way and been as intriguing. Why is she in a cell? Why does she have to be strapped into a wheelchair? I'm SO confused!!! Eventually I caught on, of course. 

I can't say I loved it like I did in the beginning. But I enjoyed it. It started to lag for me about halfway through, but it picked up again toward the end. I liked Carey's take on a subject that doesn't typically appeal to me. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a well-told story in a dystopian setting. 

Have you read it? What'd you think?


Social Media {A Little of the School Life}

This is for an assignment for one of my classes... ignore away. :)

Social networks seem to be everywhere. Both on a personal and a professional level. I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, GoodReads, and LibraryThing. There's a chance my Myspace account is still there, I suppose. While I have accounts on all of the above, that's not to say I use them all regularly or that I use them at all, really. Take Google+ for example. I can't recall the last time I actually checked out my page. (Although writing this will probably spur me to do so... that's how it ends up happening for me.)

Facebook is one that I use almost daily. I scroll through it, post to it, kill time with it. There are downsides to it, as with anything (drama, anyone?), but overall it's good for keeping up with friends and family that don't live near. I can see what they're up to and they can see what I'm up to. On a professional level, it's great for spreading the word about events or for letting our followers know what's new in the library. I also like to share fun things that are related to reading, books, or even general stuff that I think our community might find interesting. The Shelby County Public Library has a general Facebook page as well as a Teen-specific page. The IUPUI SOIC uses Facebook to promote students' successes as well as events and varying celebrations (like Spring and International Women's Day).

I've had an account on LinkedIn for some time but I've not used it as much as other social media sites that geared more toward personal interests. It is a great networking site for professionals and a great way to connect with people in the community. For instance, one of my connections is Nathan Burger, who is a Manager for the Indiana Fever Group Events and Programs. Every year he provides us with vouchers for free tickets for those that complete our summer reading program.

While nothing can take away from the value of face-to-face interaction, technology is ever-present and ever-growing in this world. It's a great tool for communication and making connections on both personal and professional levels.

MUVE {A Little of the School Life}

This is an assignment for a class I'm taking - ignore away! ;)

I don't have much experience with any MUVE, interactive, or gaming technologies. My son, who is 6, plays Minecraft via an app on his tablet, but I've not done more than watch him do some things on it. A friend and coworker of mine is into all things technology related, including all the ones mentioned above. He likes how it works as a stress reliever for him and the creativeness of the game. He has the tools to make the game whatever he wants it to be, and even mentioned that some people go really far into the coding and creating their own space out of it. He talked about the different modes people can play in - peaceful, creative, survival, and adventure modes. It's easy to see why so many people become addicted to it.

One of my other coworkers talked about her former library where they had a Minecraft club that would meet at a set time each month. I think it would be a great way for kids to meet other kids with like interests. They can interact with one other in the game as well as outside the game, in the physical space they are sharing. She also mentioned that one of the librarians had used Minecraft to create an exact replica of the library. That could come in handy for all sorts of things from advocating for more space or grant applications.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Carry On {A Little of the Book Life Review}

Carry On

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Source: Own
Rating: 5 stars (or 20... whatever...)

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

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Seriously. Rainbow Rowell has super powers. For real. The way she can weave a story... the way she can suck me in and make me forget the world exists outside of her pages... I can't even begin to imagine a book world without her in it. 

It doesn't seem to matter what she is writing about - normal teenage drama, magickal teenage drama, adult drama... I'm there. I'm feeling it all. And I FREAKING LOVE IT.

I loved watching Simon grow and learn about himself. I loved watching Baz struggle with who is - not only as a person, but as a vampire. The dynamics between all the characters leap off the page. The voices of each were so distinct there was no confusion as to who was narrating the part I was reading. And the intensity of the story, the tension between characters... whew! She writes it better than real life usually presents it.

More, please. Not necessarily Simon/Baz/Penelope/etc, just more. More writing, more stories, more characters I can fall in love with and wish were really in my life. More.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Still here {A Little of the Mom Life}

     Yesterday I had a newcomer to storytime. His name was Jacob and he'll be one at the end of this month. This is super important to the story of my day. It's the catalyst of all my thoughts and emotions. His older brother used to come to storytime. (He's now 6.) Jacob came into the room with his grandma and his grandma said I might remember his brother when he came with his mom. She mentioned their names and it all clicked - probably partially due to the fact that Jacob resembles his older brother a lot.

     And then she told me the news. How last April, the boys lost their mom due to a pulmonary embolism. I don't know this family other than them coming into the library from time to time. And they haven't been in on a regular basis for quite some time (even before the tragedy.) Life gets busy and other things take priority. But I had no clue that these boys' mother had passed away. She was 31. Jacob won't remember her. His brother will, at best, have snapshots of memories in his mind.

     All day long I kept thinking about them. About her, their mom. And how she's missing out on seeing all the wonderful, and not-so-wonderful, things her kids are going to do in their life. How she's not going to see so many firsts, so many smiles, so many tears. She's going to miss out on the laughter of life and the snuggly hugs and kisses and all the silly moments.And those boys. They are going to miss out mommy hugs, kisses, snuggles, advice, tears of happiness, tears of frustration, fun times, not-so-fun times...

     Needless to say I was a bit emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. I just wanted to go home and relish in the fact that I'm still here. Yes, bills are due. Yes, school is happening. Yes, work is demanding. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, I get frustrated. But I'm here. I get to hear "MOOMMMYYY!" when I go to pick up Zoe-bug from the sitter. I get to go hunt down Eli at the Boys and Girl's Club and make him upset that he doesn't get his turn on the X-box. I get to deal with first grade frustration from a boy because I "don't do homework like Daddy." I still get to pour that glass of wine while he's wailing in his room because I tried doing homework in the wrong order. I still get to be told by Zoe that "Mommy, you're yelling." Yes. Those types of moments can suck. And suck the life out of you. But I still have them. I also still get the night time story reading, the hugs and kisses, and the "I'm sorry we couldn't get along earlier" moments (for real, that was a sincere apology from Eli at bedtime).

     I'm still here. They're still here. Good. Bad. All the in-betweens.