Book – Tananarive Due is the hidden secret of modern horror fiction. Sick of sparkly vampires? Bored with ghosts? Tired of the same old gothic secrets and bloody horrors and frankly offended by the level of sexual assault? You need to be reading Tananarive Due. One of the luminaries of the Afrofuturism movement (speculative fiction with a focus on Africa and the African diaspora), Due’s characters are gut-wrenchingly real, and her stories, even when horrific, are mesmerizing.
Take, for instance, “The Knowing,” the story of a ten-year-old boy and his mother who knows the date everyone she meets will die. Or “Free Jim’s Mine,” a classic deal-with-the-devil story told from the point of view of a relative, rather than the one who makes the deal, who is trying to escape via the Underground Railroad. Or the title story, “Ghost Summer,” an award-winning novella that expertly brings together backyard ghosts and the ghosts of history and family, all from the viewpoint of young ghost hunter Davie Stephens, who just wanted to be YouTube-famous and got way more than he bargained for. Even readers who aren’t big horror fans would enjoy her work, I think – it’s not graphic, but powerfully emotional, in sometimes heartbreaking but always insightful ways.
Music – The Chainsmokers just renewed their debut studio album, Memories…Do Not Open. Their previously recorded EP’s include Bouquet and Collage. I’ve recently become obsessed with The Chainsmokers, ever since I heard “Something Just Like This” playing on the radio. The DJing/Production duo consists of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall. They have an intense electro-pop dance vibe that adds another dimension to their music. Primarily a DJ group, a lot of their music doesn’t feature their own vocals, which has its pros and cons. It’s great to explore the different sounds of other artists, but I also enjoy the moments where you can experience the vocals of Andrew Taggart, like in “The One.”
I love the majority of the tracks in this album, which is pretty rare for me. I think that’s mainly due to the variety of themes/moods and main vocalists. The Chainsmokers frequently feature other artists, while providing the electronics-pop acoustics. This is definitely one of my favorite things about the group because I get great music recommendations.
For a calming influence, I always default to “The One”, and “Bloodstream.” When I’m looking for some pumped-up beats, I turn to the last four tracks of the album: “Honest,” “Wake Up Alone,” “Young,” and “Last Day Alive.” The “Last day Alive” to me feels a bit reminiscent of “715 CR∑∑KS” by Bon Iver and “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap. Both of these artists use synthesizers to alter their music, creating a very unique electronic sound that give their voices an almost robotic resonance. It reminds me of the voice-changer that is used to protect someone’s identities in a criminal investigation. A lot of the Chainsmoker’s music possesses this style; I’m eager to see how that transfers over to their live performances.
Book--Ever since the 6th grade, Dylan has been larger than other boys. Now at over 6 ft. tall, improbably hairy, and still growing, 15-year-old Dylan (called Beast by his peers) hides his face under hats and feels trapped in a body that doesn’t match his insides. When his school bans hats, Dylan walks off the edge of the school building and breaks his leg. He claims it was an accident. His orthopedist and his mother don’t agree. They send him to counseling for teenagers with self-harming tendencies, where he meets Jamie. Jamie is beautiful, smart, and funny, just the kind of girl that would impress Dylan’s friends. Because this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, Dylan starts to shed some of his shallowness and misogyny as he falls in love with her, and begins to let go of his anger at the world. However, when Dylan learns that Jamie is transgender (a fact that she told him when they first met, had he been listening), he freaks out and pulls away from her. Will Dylan be able to get over his knee-jerk transphobia and apologize to Jamie? Will she be able to forgive him? Will they get back together?
Of course they will. But reading about how is the whole fun of it. I really enjoyed reading about Dylan’s journey from crass and callow teenage boy to sensitive young man. Despite being a fairy tale retelling, Beast stands on its own. If you enjoy this one, you may also enjoy other LBGT classic story retellings aimed at young adults (yes, this is a whole genre) such asAshby Malinda Lo (retells Cinderella),Great by Sara Benincasa (retells The Great Gatsby), and As I Descended (retells Macbeth).
Movie – DreamWorks is at it again with The Boss Baby. Alec Baldwin is voice of Boss Baby – an Armani suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying infant, who is out to learn why most of the world’s love is going to puppies and not babies. Tim, the older 8-year-old brother is absolutely not impressed with the new baby. He has a feeling something is up with this baby and tries desperately to get his parents to see that something is wrong. After a comical battle, the two decide to join forces and get the answers that Boss Baby needs, so he can leave.
I think that this movie is more for adults than elementary school age kids. Only adults would understand the nostalgic points and older jokes. I do feel that children will appreciate this movie, but not to the extent that I did. If Alec Baldwin’s humor is not your taste, move on. If so, definitely check this out.
Book- Rachel and Henry have been best friends since primary school, they have done everything together. In their ninth year in high school Rachel moves away but before she moves she wants to profess her love to Henry in the only way she can. By leaving a letter in one of the books in the Letter Library of his family’s bookshop. When she leaves to go to her new town she hopes that Henry will give her some sign that he got the letter, when three years come and go with no word about it she is devastated. To make matters worse her younger brother Cal is killed suddenly by the thing he loves most. At the end of year twelve Rachel must move back to her childhood city to try and find herself again, meeting Henry again along the way. When she is forced to work at Howling Books, Henry’s family second hand bookshop she must deal with the loss of her brother and best friend all over again. When Henry is faced with his own major life changes he must find his way back to his old friend again if he ever hopes to find himself again.
This is just the book your looking for, for a cute and classical bookshop romance. Love and loss all/will play a big part in everyone’s lives and Words in Deep Blueexemplifies what it means to truly and deeply love someone.
Book – Colombia, 1979. Italian movie director Ugo Velluto has packed up his crew and moved them to the Amazon to shoot a new kind of horror movie entirely on location, starring young unknown actors and featuring ambitious special effects. Our nameless narrator, the male lead, is so desperate for a paying job he agrees to go straight from his screen test to the airport. In Colombia, he finds a chaotic production in progress: a crew used to working only on soundstages, actors who’ve never seen the full script, special effects being built during the filming of the scenes they’re meant to be used in, and a director who might be a little bit crazy. And outside of the production, things are worse, as drug cartels ply their trade and guerilla revolutionaries work toward the violent overthrow of a corrupt government.
We Eat Our Own is based on the true story of the film Cannibal Holocaust – trumpeted as the “most controversial movie ever made” – which was filmed in the Amazon in the late 70s under a shroud of secrecy; due to the realism of the effects and the clever marketing strategy of the film, director Ruggero Deodato was actually put on trial for the murder of his actors. Debut author Kea Wilson dives into the setting with gusto, drawing detailed portraits of individuals, a film production, and a country in the midst of becoming something new, a process that is more than a little bloody for all of them. This is a tense and atmospheric (but still frequently funny) novel that won’t be for everyone – but I loved it.
Book – After a chance meeting brought them together, Lucy and Owen fell in love. Raised on the chaos of city life, the couple left New York City in favor of the quiet family-centered Hudson Valley, a small suburb of Beekman. It’s a health-centered place where you know all your neighbors, and the local moms cook up hot lunch at the schools. Over the years, the romance and attraction in Lucy and Owen’s relationship has fizzled, as they concentrate on raising their young autistic son, and dealing with the chaos of daily life.
It is on a rare drunken night with friends that the idea first hits them. Their friends reveal they have begun an open marriage, which shocks Lucy and Owen. As the weekend passes by, however, Lucy and Owen just can’t shake this new knowledge. Is it really as crazy as it sounds? In the spur of the moment, they lay out the groundwork and compile a set of strict rules. They agree on six months, no questions asked, but neither one has any idea how much their lives are about to change
The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn was not at all what I expected. The story follows the relationship of Lucy and Owen, but it also blends in multiple other points of view, looking into a variety of marriages and relationships outside of the main couple. While one obviously expects there to be sexual content when reading about open marriages, I actually found the details to be pretty minimal, with more concentration on the changing family dynamic of Lucy, Owen and their son, as well as other relationship in the story. I enjoyed this read because it felt very real, like something unfabricated, a glimpse into the life of someone who might actually exist.
Book – “What’s your favorite book?” is a cruel and unusual question to ask any librarian, but when absolutely forced to give an answer, Good Omens is where I tend to land. In an effort to keep this review from getting too gushing, then, I’m going to try to focus more on comparisons than description, because allowing me near superlatives in this case is a dangerous prospect. Let me just give the basics on plot–namely, it’s a humorous take on the Apocalypse (no, really)–and hurry from there to the land of “you’ll like this if”.
The obvious ones first: if you already enjoy the solo work of either Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, then Good Omens is unquestionably worth your time. Even though it was written before the explosion of the internet and the resulting acceleration of mashup culture, it’s a perfect example of the kind of textual remixing that both writers did and do so well, deconstructing classic stories and themes and rebuilding them into something fresh and self-aware. It has all of Sir Terry’s boundless humor (and footnotes!) and sudden moments of profound emotional insight, with Gaiman’s unpretentious lyricism and finger on the pulse of the collective unconscious, and it reads so seamlessly that it’s impossible to tell that it comes from two different authors.
But you by no means need to already be a fan of either writer to love Good Omens; it was the first thing I read of either of theirs, and I was hooked from page one. If you already love Douglas Adams, Monty Python, Eddie Izzard or Christopher Moore, you’re a shoe-in; Good Omens is all about that same irreverent sense of humor. It’s a great choice, too, for fans of Roald Dahl or Ray Bradbury or Kurt Vonnegut, sharing their sometimes dark yet deeply compassionate lens on humanity. It’s for fantasy and sci-fi fans, but for humor fans too. It’s for the reader who wants a quick read that deserves to be called ‘light’ yet tackles big themes and doesn’t shy away from emotional impact. It’s for pretty much anybody who doesn’t mind allowing humor and religion to mix (never, in my opinion, in a way that mocks anyone or their beliefs). And it is–to allow myself just the one moment of gushing–an absolute, unqualified delight.
Book – If you have a general interest in astrophysics and/or if you are like me and want to appear smarter on the subject than you really are, then Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry might just be the resource you need! The book is by no means intimidating – small in size, only 208 pages, with an easy to use table of contents and index. With wit and charm Tyson shares his knowledge on the origin and creation of the universe, gravity, light, space, dark matter and dark energy, and many more cosmic wonders and mysteries. His goal is for us to gain an understanding of the past, present, and future of our universe and our place in it. Though you won’t be an expert after reading this, you just may have enough interest to want to know more.
The author is director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and host of the hit radio and TV show “StarTalk”.
Book— In a move reminiscent of Barbara Ehrenreich’s famous undercover excursion into the world of the working poor (Nickel and Dimed), professor of urban planning Lisa Servon worked as a check casher at RiteCheck, a payday lender, and a hotline operator for those having difficulty paying back payday loans to investigate what these services offer to vulnerable Americans. What she found is that America’s banks are ill-serving America’s poor and middle class. With practices such as debt resequencing, where the largest debit transactions on a checking account are non-chronologically processed first to maximize overdraft fees, and long check-clearing times that make it hard for people living paycheck to paycheck to count on their money being accessible, it’s no wonder that alternative financial services are springing up to fill the void. Contrary to popular wisdom, though, not all of these new services are predatory (or at least are no more predatory than banks). In fact, many customers prefer them because their fees are upfront and immediate rather than opaque. Servon’s account paints a more nuanced picture than the banking=smart, check cashing=short-sighted framework that I certainly subscribed to before reading this book.
If you enjoy The Unbanking of America, I recommend Evicted, which examines the detrimental effects that unstable housing has on the poor. For more information on the specific topics covered by Servon, I recommend this Freakonomics podcast on the topic or payday lenders. (For other great podcast recommendations, come to our Discover Podcasts program on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 PM.)