Category Archives: LOL

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready-player-one As a child of the 80s (having been born in 1979), this book felt so much like coming home.  All of the references to 80s pop culture, especially geek culture, were just so spot-on!  I was not an arcade kid, since we didn’t have an arcade close enough to my house, but I definitely played more than my fair share of video games on personal gaming consoles like the Atari 2600 and NES.  I also have fond memories of playing puzzle and sim games on the Commodore 64 and Mac Classic in “computer class” at school.  I also watched waaaaaay too much TV and too many movies, so most of Cline’s references felt like a conversation with an old friend.  It’s beyond obvious that Ernest Cline was a fellow geek and that he loved all the cheeseball 80s stuff just as much as my friends and I did.  For real…  If you are a fanboy/fangirl of geeky 80s pop culture, you NEED to read this book!

Even better than the reminiscing, though, was the foreshadowing of what could come to be if we (citizens of the world) don’t change our reliance on fossil fuels and unplug a little from the world of “social media” to actually interact with the people and the world around us — in real life!  Imagine, if you will, a future in which most people around the world are so immersed in a virtual reality “utopia” known as the OASIS that they rarely leave their houses.  Since most people no longer have their own vehicles or even the financial means to utilize public transportation, the OASIS was the closest thing they would ever get to traveling.  Kids even started to attend school in the OASIS because the virtual world created it’s own schools to let pressure off of the failing public school system.  When I read one quote, I wondered if Cline was really just that attuned to the forthcoming changes in our society back in 2011 or if he somehow traveled through time to 2016 before he finished his story — “Now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.”

One of the creators of the OASIS, James Halliday, had very few friends and never married or had any children.  By the time of his death, he had even been estranged from his former business partner and one-time best friend for about a decade.  So, before he died, he crafted an elaborate “Easter Egg” hunt within his virtual world to determine who would receive his fortune.  Halliday’s last will and testament was announced to the world with a video chock-full of 80s references and explained that his heir would need to use their knowledge of Halliday’s favorite things to puzzle out the location of three keys and three gates/trials he had programmed into the OASIS.  Everyone went nuts at first, but excitement waned after the first five years and only hardcore Gunters (a condensation of “egg hunters”) like Wade kept up the hunt.  When Wade finds the first key and his name shows up on the leader board, though, the OASIS is suddenly hopping again and the competition stirs up adventure, danger, and even romance. I can’t wait to see how the movie of this book turns out…

Happy Reading!

 

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

the-rest-of-us-just-live-hereIf you’re a Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) fangirl like me, you will probably agree that Patrick Ness must be a huge BtVS fan too…  I mean.  You can’t help but get a Sunnyview/Hellmouth vibe from everything going down in Mikey’s small town!  (I can’t seem to recall where, exactly, it was other than some hick town in Washington state…  Did he ever mention the name of the town?  Anyway…)  I don’t make this comparison to BtVS lightly, by the way, because there are just so many parallels.  Between all the supernatural creatures that randomly show up and attack the teenagers in their town, the fact that the adults seem to be in complete denial of what has been and is currently going on, and the fact that the story is a tongue-in-cheek offshoot of the classic “chosen one” theme, I can’t imagine a BtVS fan who would be disappointed in this story.  Mikey even reminds me of my favorite BtVS characvter, Xander, who once said, “They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me.”

That being said, I don’t want people to think I’m saying this was just a BtVS ripoff, either.  The characters in this story are most definitely unique, as is the plot of the story.  I enjoyed the fact that the supernatural elements of the story were almost periphery to the main plot.  I honestly think that the interpersonal relationships, dysfunctional families, and personal struggles of the characters could have kept this story afloat even without the battles between the chosen ones (who all seemed to be “indie kids”) and the supernatural creatures like vampires, werewolves, and the Immortals.  It was rather ambitious of Ness to merge teen angst and tough issues with a lighthearted, satirical supernatural story — but it worked very well.

Happy Reading!

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

furiously-happyAlthough Jenny Lawson is technically writes for “adults,” I think there are probably a great many teens who would benefit from reading this memoir.  Although some adults might cringe to think of teens reading or listening to Lawson’s cursing, I know that most teens probably wouldn’t be the least bit bothered.  I mean — I know, from experience, that many teens’ speech is peppered with “f-bombs” to the extent that they don’t even realize they are swearing… But, I digress.

As someone who personally struggles with OCD and depression, I think this book is very important for at least three reasons:

  1. People who live with depression and anxiety might find some solace in knowing they are not alone (and will likely experience a feeling of hope that their own lives can improve if they are feeling low);
  2. People who do not know what it is like to live with depression and anxiety can get a no-holds-barred look at the realities of living with mental illness…  you know, #EndTheStigma and all that; and
  3. Jenny Lawson is freaking hilarious and will help all readers recognize that even the most dire of situations can be improved with a little perspective and a lot of levity.

I often find myself wanting to share quotes and little snippets with my husband, but I find myself compelled to play so many parts of this audiobook aloud that he really just needs to listen to it himself.  Aside from the fact that I am sure he will find it absolutely hilarious, I think he will find solace in knowing that the author’s husband, Victor, has been dealing with someone just as crazy as me and seems to be doing just fine.  😉

Happy Reading!

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

sun-is-also-a-starNatasha is extremely practical.  She believes in science and cold, hard facts.  She knows that is it unlikely that she will be able to keep her family from being deported back to Jamaica now that her father’s DUI has alerted the authorities to their illegal status, but she also knows that she’s willing to hope and dream a little if it means that she might find a way for her family to stay in the US.  Even though she has only about 12 hours left, she’s on her way to a meeting about a possible “fix”…

Daniel has always wanted to be more of a dreamer and a poet, but he has instead done his best to live up to the standards of a “good son” as laid out by his Korean-American [legal] immigrant parents.  They expect him to go to Yale, to study to become a doctor, and to marry a good Korean girl so that he will never have to struggle as they once did.  Even though he is not sure he really wants to go to Yale, he’s on his way to an interview with a Yale alum…

When Natasha and Daniel randomly meet in New York City, neither of them is out looking for love.  A serious of seemingly random events — is it coincidence or fate? — brings them together, though.  Daniel falls for Natasha pretty quickly, but her practicality has her thinking he’s just crazy.  Although she doesn’t want to admit it at first, there *IS* something about Daniel that really speaks to her.  So, does that mean Natasha will fall for Daniel too?  Or will he end up heartbroken?  Can Natasha find a way to stay in the US?  Or will her family really have to leave in less than a day?  Will Daniel get into Yale?  And if he does, will he even go?  This audiobook had me so anxious that I found it nearly impossible to shut off even when I had real-life responsibilities to tend to!  I especially loved the fact that it was narrated by Natasha, Daniel, and the Universe — interspersed with narrations by some of the people they encounter throughout the day.  Not only is it a great story for the hopeless romantic in us all, but it’s an amazing look at how people’s interactions with one another might seem insignificant at the time even though they make a big difference in the long run.

Happy Reading!

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

geekerellaElle Wittimer is a die-hard Starfield fan.  It only makes sense, since her father was so obsessed with the single-season cult classic.  (Think Firefly.)  He was such an über geek, in fact, that he was one of the founders of the geek convention known as ExcelsiCon.  Elle has kept in touch with the fandom online and even writes a Starfield blog, under the pseudonym Rebelgunner, but she hasn’t been back to the con since her father died.  Now that Starfield is getting a reboot as a major motion picture, though, she has a very good reason to attend — the winner of the cosplay will win tickets to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball (a dream of her father’s) and a meet-and-greet with the actor who plays Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot.  It’s just too bad the guy they picked to be Carmindor is the annoying teen “heartthrob” Darien Freeman…

Darien Freeman is an über geek in his own right, but no one really knows it.  When he was younger, he used to live for Starfield and events like ExcelsiCon… It was always his dream to play Carmindor.  But, he feels like a fake because he is seriously lacking in geeky “street-cred” now that he is so well-known for role on a popular teen show called Seaside Cove.  It would have been hard enough for anyone to step into that role after David Singh’s amazing portrayal, but the very vocal lack of confidence of the Starfield fans has Darien feeling even more rattled.  So much so that he doesn’t even want to make his appearance at ExcelsiCon.  If only the number he found to get in touch with the person responsible for running ExcelsiCon wasn’t wrong, he might have been able to talk his way out of attending.  At the very least, though, he has “met” a pretty cool girl who seems to love Starfield as much as he does.  And, as long as she doesn’t know who is really texting her, he is free to just be himself.  (Kinda ironic, right?!?)

This modern adaptation of the Cinderella story is simply amazing.  With a falling-in-love via text homage to You’ve Got Mail, and a true understanding of geek culture reminiscent of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, it’s a #mustread for hopeless romantic geeks like myself.  Aside from the story, by the way, I think I am seriously fangirling over Ashley Poston.  I already loved her for creating this story, but her acknowledgements hit me right in the feels:

Never give up on your dreams, and never let anyone tell you that what you love is inconsequential or useless or a waste of time.  Because if you love it? If that OTP or children’s card game or abridged series or YA book or animated series makes you happy? That is never a waste of time. Because in the end we’re all just a bunch of weirdos standing in front of other weirdos, asking for their username.

Happy Reading!

The Young World by Chris Weitz

young-worldEver since I read The Girl Who Owned a City [back in fifth grade], I have been fairly obsessed with dystopian fiction.  There’s just something so intriguing about seeing that the world could be *even more* messed up than it already is, you know?  The thing about this story that instantly brought me back to The Girl Who Owned a City, of course, is the fact that the entire adult population in this story has been wiped out.  In this case, though, all the little kids have been wiped out too.  It’s only the teenagers who have survived — and it must have something to do with the particular blend of hormones that exists in teens, because even the survivors die off once they reach full maturity.

This is not just a random disease that struck and went away, by the way.  This is something that, if left unchecked, will wipe out the entire human race.  Yeah.  Let’s hope there are some super-genius teens out there who can figure out what to do to fix it all, right?!?  Enter the kids of Washington Square.  This story is told from the perspectives of various characters, including an “average” girl named Donna and a guy named Jefferson who has “inherited” leadership of Washington Square now that his older brother has turned 18 and died.  Oh yeah…  Jefferson is also secretly in love with Donna and just so happens to be think he might have found some information that could lead to a cure.  Jeff just needs to convince his friends to join him on a dangerous trip through the city to find more information and, you know, a lab where he can do some research.  Witty banter and fast-paced action make this a fairly quick read.  I recommend this book to fans of series like Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Monument 14.

Happy Reading!

Binge by Tyler Oakley

20160711_111516It’s funny how life can be so very different and feel so much the same… Last year, I was losing my mind because I was shuffling both kids of to summer camp in the morning so I could work full time doing summer reading stuff at my library.  I had days stuffed to the gills with programs, reference, and other responsibilities, and I had precious little time with my kids.  I did my best to do fun stuff while also keeping up with house work, but it was hard, y’all!  This summer, I’m losing my mind because I’m balancing my WAHM (work at home mom) responsibilities with finding fun and inexpensive ways to entertain the kids so they don’t kill each other.  (Right now, we’re actually at our local public library for LEGO Club and I’m posting from my phone… I hope this works!)  Though I have plenty of time to keep up on chores if I want to let my kids become screentime zombies, that’s not exactly my plan.  So, I’m losing my mind all over again… But in a better way.  I keep reminding myself that it’s OK to feel stressed or overwhelmed sometimes as long as I’m, overall, doing what feels right for me and my family.  Sure, I forgot to post a book review last week — but my kids and I had an awesome week of spending time with friends and family.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I picked this book up at the *perfect* time.  Not only did I want a fun read, but I wanted something with short chapters that I could pick up and read for a few minutes at a time if that was all I could get (which has been the case more often than not lately).  On a previous trip to our public library [so my kids could sign up to actually *attend* summer reading events this year!] I saw this book on display.  Not only did this book meet my “fun & easy” qualifications, but it SPOKE TO ME right in the introduction — “Binge on the things that bring you fulfillment and happiness and satisfaction and make you feel alive.  Binge on people who fascinate you and love that wakes you up from the monotony…  Binge on giving, in all senses.  Binge on indulging.”   Yaaaaaaaas!  

I first heard of Tyler Oakley about eight years ago when one of my library teens asked if I had seen “the Tyler Oakley video about why gay marriage is wrong.”  I was confused because this teen belonged to the GSA at her high school, and I didn’t realize the video was sarcastic.  After watching the video, though, I shared the hell out of it.  While I have seen many of his videos through the years, I’m pretty sure this will always be my favorite.

If you need inspiration to start living your life openly, honestly, and unapologetically for yourself, this book is a good place to start.  Sometimes heartbreaking, but more often than not hilarious, this book gives readers a bird’s eye view of the many “binges” that have led Tyler Oakley to YouTube fame and general pop-culture notoriety, but also, more importantly, to a life he’s happy to be living.

Happy Reading!