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Atonement
Ian McEwan
Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood

Makerspaces: Top Trailblazing Projects

Makerspaces: Top Trailblazing Projects - Caitlin A Bagley We're in the very, very beginning stages of planning a makerspace in our library and this was a useful resource to bring into the discussion. Our main concerns are: what can we afford, will students utilize it, how do we decide which technologies to spend our few dollars on, how can we possibly provide support when we're so short staffed, and how do we generate support/buzz/excitement/etc? These are all issues addressed by Bagley. If nothing else, it's good to know that nobody seems to go into these projects with absolute confidence, but the response has been good and they continue to evolve. I have a growing list of possible investments and will be recommending this book to the others on our makerspace team. It's hard to know for sure which of the programs discussed in this book are successful (as many are still in the planning stages), but now that I know who to watch for, I'll be checking in to see how they're doing.

Shatter Me

Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi *GASP* I hated it. The hyperbole, the "romance", every single one of the characters. Hated it. It's a mildly interesting concept, but all the negatives kept it from being anything other than a mediocre YA dystopian. In fact, I'm taking it of my dystopia and sci-fi shelves because it hardly qualifies for them - it's 95% YA romance. The most interesting parts of this story (the superpowers, the pending conflict, the demise of our current society) were glossed over entirely. Maybe it gets better as the series goes on and these things are explored more fully, but this was such a snooze I can't even think about picking up the next one. Just the thought of trudging through another 300 pages of cringe-worthy makeouts, heart-fluttering, baffling figurative language, and wishy-washy characters is giving me anxiety.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! - Jonathan Evison I really waffled between 3-4 stars, so let's call it 3.5. I liked it. It was quick, easy, and engrossing, but it wasn't particularly deep. Harriet is held at an arm's length, making it difficult to invest in her as a reader. And the whole time-hopping chronology seems to be really in fashion these days, but it worked particularly well for this novel. It's probably not something that will stick with me but it's great for a summer/beach read.

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights - Salman Rushdie This was my first time reading Salman Rushdie and it won't be my last. It was such a fantastic and entertaining read. It is playful and intelligent with a deceptively technical style. A mix of mythology and absurdity, I can honestly say I was never bored. Rushdie is clearly having fun with this and the result is an immensely enjoyable set of stories.

Marvel and a Wonder

Marvel and a Wonder - Joe Meno I'm not sure how or why, but this is actually my first time experiencing the nearly mythical and awesome Joe Meno. He has a truly fantastic voice and all of the characters were rendered beautifully. He is one of those gifted authors who can conjure up the precise ambiance they're looking for and create such expressive and human characters that it seems almost effortless. In that sense, I really enjoyed this book and will be looking to add more Meno to my TBR.

That said, there's something about horses that I just don't dig. They're beautiful and impressive (and my mom says I "just don't understand"), but I don't care about them. I think Black Beauty scarred me as a child and now when a horse is a central component of a story, my heart closes up to protect itself against such anguish. However - Joe Meno made me care a little bit. I was deeply concerned for that horse's safety and well being and was hoping against all hope that it would make it out alright.

I was much more concerned for the safety and well being of the grandfather and his grandson, however, and in building the suspense of their story I think Meno was right on point. The last 50 pages or so get a little cyclical and repetitive, kind of drawn out, but then those last 10 pages are oh so worth it.

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell Cute, nerdy, sad, awkward. High school romance in a nutshell.

The Shore: A Novel

The Shore: A Novel - Sara Taylor If you're looking for a nuanced take on Southern Gothic, this is the novel for you. Murky backwoods, brutal patriarchy, ambiguous morality, and an underlying mysticism are the underpinnings of these stories. The Shore is Winesburg, Ohio's disturbed, time-hopping, meth head cousin...and it's great. Taylor's novel features a series of interconnected vignettes, each highlighting a different character, trauma, and era. The physical islands that comprise the Shore carry enough weight and pull that they are almost a character of their own. If Flannery O'Connor is among your favorite authors (as she should be) then you'll enjoy this book. Sara Taylor takes up the torch of creating a dark, almost absurd, mythos for the modern South and does so with skill.

More Happy Than Not

More Happy Than Not - Adam Silvera As soon as I stop crying I'll write a review

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark - Anna North The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a fantastic book. The writing is clever and observant, the characters are multi-faceted and contradictory in the best and most human way possible. I had no idea what to expect going into this. I'll admit I was expected something a la Virgin Suicides, mostly bc the cover art reminds me of the movie poster...which I know is just not how you should judge books, but it was in my head and I couldn't get it out. Although, in my defense, it turned out to be an apt comparison in some ways: a tragic narrative told through the lens of a group of observers who were close to - or wanted badly to be close to but in actuality may have known nothing about - the subject, an enigmatic and captivating woman. I really enjoyed this and tore through it pretty quickly. I have more to say about this but I'll have to take some time to put it into words...

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner I dug it. Lilac was kind of bratty and the back and forth before they finally hook up was annoying (when you're a jerk to someone you like, they're going to be a jerk to you too... something they didn't seem to understand and kept getting offended about). Overall it was entertaining enough and I was in the mood for a little vanilla romance, surprisingly. That it was space romance made it even better.

A M M

A M M - Nick Totem AMM is almost like a mash of 28 Days Later, The Road, and Flowers for Algernon. The premise was interesting and I tore through it pretty quickly. The writing was a little verbose at times, particularly in the first quarter or so of the book. It was almost like someone told him "this needs more adjectives, at least 3 per sentence!" But then Totem seems to find his groove and the tone relaxes noticeably. Or maybe it doesn't relax, as the tension in the book is rising dramatically, but the narrative seems to come more directly from the main character rather than the author-as-main-character. From there the story becomes more engaging. AMM raises more questions that it answers, but that doesn't invalidate the effort in any way. I would recommend this to fans of apocalypse novels, zombie stories (no zombies here, but some similar themes), or medical thrillers.

The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation

The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation - Mollie Katzen From the author of Moosewood, The Heart of the Plate offers an updated take on the classic vegetarian cookbook. In the introduction, Katzen emphasizes her intention to create lighter vegetarian and vegan dishes - not only those that use tons of butter, cheese, dairy, and oil to convince omnivores that plant-based dishes can be exciting. The result is a really solid book with recipes pulling from many different cuisines. Most of the recipes are staples or mid-level (in terms of experience needed or complexity), there's nothing too crazy or exciting, but everything is accessible and nicely photographed. My favorite feature is the set of vegetarian and vegan menus. I'll definitely be looking to this the next time we need to make a fancy meal.

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook - Editors at America's Test Kitchen Holy smokes, this is a really comprehensive cookbook, maybe the most comprehensive cookbook I've every seen. It's full to tips and techniques, and has a series of illustrated guides throughout. It has a nice section of essential ingredients and tools. I also like that each recipe is marked with icons to let you know if it's vegan, gluten free, and even whether or not it's fast. If there's a budding vegetarian in your life (or anyone who could stand to learn how to cook a few more vegetables), get them this book. I suspect that when I return this to the library, I'll be purchasing my own copy.

These recipes are accessible and familiar. It guarantees that you will know how to make the basics really, really well - and a well executed basic is usually better than a more complicated recipe that is poorly executed. This will definitely help build a solid foundation. That's not to say there aren't any recipes that are more exciting and complex, they're in there. I can't even count the number of bookmarks I put in on my first time flipping through and I can't wait to get cooking.

Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes

Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes - Anupy Singla Vegan Indian Cooking provides a nice introduction to Indian recipes, ingredients, and techniques. I'm new to Indian cooking and really appreciated the introductory sections that detailed the main spices. I wish it had more pictures. As someone who isn't super familiar with the cuisine or the terminology, pictures go a long way in helping decide whether or not to make something. I think I'll try a more beginner's cookbook first and come back to this when I know a bit more about what I'm doing.

Children of Peace

Children of Peace - Erin Bow Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules tells the story of what happens after the singularity. Sometime presumably in the near future, increasingly horrific natural disasters and a series of gruesome wars swiftly reduce the human population at an incredible rate. In order to save humanity from itself, the UN turns to artificial intelligence for a solution. Talis - the AI entrusted to help end the wars - goes about this in an unexpected way. In short order, he destroys several cities and brings the world’s political figures to their knees, installing himself as the leader of the world. Under Talis’ rule, the world returns to a hostage system of ensuring peace. All world leaders must offer up their children to serve as a Child of Peace until the age of 18. If their country goes to war, the child dies. Against this backdrop, we move forward 400 years and pick up the story of Greta Gustafsen Stuart - the destined Queen of the PanPolar Confederation and its current Child of Peace. Greta’s life and future are hurtling toward uncertainty as her country moves toward war.

This had all the trappings of a book I would really enjoy reading. It’s such a solid concept for a good sci fi novel. It just never got there for me, though. I didn’t feel anything for the human characters, not even sympathy and only a tiny bit of interest in what happened to them. I certainly didn’t feel anything for the AI’s - and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to feel. Scared? Awed? Humored? Not sure. The world building wasn’t there for me either - I couldn’t visualize the prefecture or the new structure of the world, I couldn’t really even picture the characters other than one was Asian and one was farm-boy big. And finally, the plot - for all its promise - fell totally flat. By the end I just wanted to be done. There were so many smaller conflicts that rose and fell with so little importance that by the end I just didn’t care anymore. One or two of those things is forgivable when it comes to sci fi, in my opinion, because I’m reading it for pleasure. But when all of them fail to get off the ground, it’s not fun anymore.

One thing I’ll give it kudos for is a lesbian relationship! That was a surprise, especially given that it’s not so much as hinted at in the book synopsis (hmm...marketing bias?). I thought that was great, we need more diversity in the relationships in YA novels. I went back and forth on how I felt about the Xie-Greta-Elian love triangle because a) I was like wtf Greta stop leading them both on, and b) it was clear that the real fire was with Xie so I was confused by why Elian was even in the mix. But I’ll chalk it up to an exercise in how sexuality is confusing, especially when you’re just coming into your own and trying to figure out what you like.

The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health: More Than 200 New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Dishes

The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health: More Than 200 New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Dishes - Moosewood Collective I've heard a lot about the Moosewood cookbooks since I started on a more plant-based diet, but this is the first I've picked up. There were tons of tasty sounding recipes and I enjoyed the introductory sections on ingredients and definitions. Although I can already tell I'll be coming back to this and other Moosewood cookbooks in the future, I don't know that I'd recommend this for beginners. I think this is better suited to someone who is already used to cooking vegetarian and vegan dishes and has a base familiarity with the common ingredients and terminology. That said, I'll definitely be checking out their other cookbooks in the next few weeks while I decide which to buy. It might be a little out of our league now, but it's good to have something to work up to.

My main gripe with this is the lack of pictures. There are some, but not nearly enough, in my opinion. I will just never understand cookbooks that don't include pictures and it seems to be common in the vegetarian/vegan field in particular. I know it's better environmentally (and that's the whole point, isn't it?) but I am a visual creature and it plays a huge role when I'm deciding which recipes to try, especially when some of the terms are unfamiliar. However, I'm making a point of trying to read cookbooks without pictures like I would a menu at a restaurant. I don't want to throw out a great resource for something like that and I'm glad I gave Moosewood a chance.