Sunday, September 16, 2018

Books For Thinking and Feeling

Hello from the other side of 100 reads on the year! Here's yet another round. Three of these were advanced copies. Y'all there's some great stuff coming to a bookshelf near you soon-ish! Also, the non-ARC in this bunch BLEW. MY. MIND.

The Circle by Dave Eggers was simultaneously outstanding and terrifying. The book centers around the experiences of Mae at an internet company called The Circle. In the not so distant future (and/or this could be happening right now), The Circle is dominating the internet. By connecting real-life identities to internet personas, there is an enhanced way for people to do all the things online. No longer is there an individual log-on for each thing you want to do, rather everything is connected. Mae begins in the customer service department of this company, and she starts to learn the ins and outs of what The Circle has built. She is instantly captivated, and she becomes quickly enthralled in this world. The Circle is also seeking to expand their reach as there is a push for more and more people to go "transparent" and share all things, all the time. Y'all, there is so much happening in this one. I wouldn't even classify this as dystopian because this was too real to life. It so clearly lays out what social media has become, and in only a few steps more, this could be the life that we all live. Through Mae's dilemmas and decisions throughout, this one really makes you think about how much is too much to share. It also makes you think about what your privacy and being able to live your life beyond online is worth. I will also say the ending of this one rocked my world, and it's still blowing my mind days later.

Read this book if - You want to explore the extremes of the impact of social media. You want a thriller built around technology. You want a read that poses some intense ethical dilemmas around technology.

Lies by TM Logan was a pageturner of a thriller. This was an advanced reading copy I received (although I read it the week it came out) from Shelf Awareness. This was one with twists I didn't see coming which is what I'm always looking for in a book like this. Joe finds his wife in an unexpected situation with their friend Ben. In this moment, Joe's world is rocked. He confronts Joe, and things escalate quickly as Joe physically assaults Ben. In the heat of this moment, Joe's son William has an asthma attack, and he must leave to address this. After William is doing okay, Joe returns to the scene to check on Ben. Only problem is that Ben is gone. Over the next week, Ben is missing - except he is also continuing to taunt Joe. Through social media and his phone, "Ben" contacts Joe. The evidence also slowly mounts - through work that "Ben" is doing. Joe must now try to understand what was happening while also maintaining his innocence. This one takes place over the course of a week, and y'all, what a week this is! There were several moments I couldn't believe what was going down, and I didn't know where this one was going to lead! I read this one in two sittings because I was so captivated, and I had to know where this one was leading.

Read this book if - You need your next great pageturning thriller. You like a book that escalates in intensity as it goes. You like something with fast paced emotions.

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova was a gem of a middle grade graphic novel. This is actually the third of a series, but the first I read. I got a sneak peek thanks once again to my pals at NetGalley. I loved this one y'all. This one revolves around Jorge who is navigating the mess that middle school can be. As he goes through his days, he realizes that he has his first crush. The feelings he experiences in this were too real. Even all these years later,  I still totally identified with what Jorge was going through. Jorge, along with his friends, are also navigating changing friendships and the quest for popularity. This story was too real - in a good way. It perfectly captured the feels of middle school. There is that want to fit in, that want to find love, and that want to just figure out who you are. This was just one of those stories that put a smile on my face.

Read this book if - You want a book that'll temporarily transport you back to middle school. You want a book that'll hit you in the feels.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the RIchest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh was an exploration of SES/poverty through the author's experience that I was able to get an early peek at thanks to NetGalley. This memoir details the author's experiences - and the experiences of her family - growing up in Kansas. For me as a reader from Kansas, the Kansas connection was an added dimension of emotion and connection. The author writes this book for a child she ultimately never created/had. Through this lens, she explains what it has meant for her family to be poor and the realities of poverty through the generations.  The author recounts how her family got be where they are now. She explains her own childhood, including what she did (and didn't) realize about how her family was doing, as well as the experiences of her mother and grandmother. Throughout, she reflects on the systemic constructs that limit how her family is able to advance. She explores so well how she and her family were fed the message of "working hard" to advance, but the reality is the barriers persist to prevent this from happening. Given this was a memoir, not an sociological study, the emotions throughout were particularly strong. These were the author's experiences, and they're also the reality of so many in our state. I say that because I've seen it, and the author puts words to it so well. 

Read this book if - You want to explore poverty through a well-written memoir. You want to understand the realities of rural Kansas. You want to understand a social issue through the lens of a real-life experiences of many generations.