Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
I’ve had a bit of a chaotic week; I visited family in Florida over the long weekend, and we got back home on Tuesday—2/22/22 (happy Twosday, everyone!) My routine was all thrown off for the rest of the week, but now I’m settling back down.
I forgot to connect my Kindle to the wifi while I was away, so most of my reading this week was re-reads—the Pioneer duology and Memento, all of which were just as good as they were when I first read them. I got some more books from the library, and I’m looking forward to reading them all! I also had an unexpected book haul because my English teacher was cleaning out his room and was giving out some of his extra books. Got some poetry and Ray Bradbury in there…
I did a lot of editing while I was in Florida, and I’m in the final stages of cleaning up my second draft! I wasn’t able to do much later in the week because of all the homework I had to make up from the week before, but I think I’m making good progress.
Other than that, I’ve just been bundling up for the freezing weather (nothing like coming from 87 degree weather to 0 degree weather amirite), listening to Think Tank (great stuff!), and eating leftover Valentine’s Day cookies. And we have a new addition to the family—meet our corgi puppy Ringo!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
And Merry Christmas (one day belated) for those of you who celebrate! I had a lovely Christmas—I got some cool shirts, lots of chocolate, a guitar pedal, a Ray Bradbury book, and lots of other goodies! It was so great to be able to spend time with family and just be together. We got a little snow on Christmas Eve, but Christmas Day was…weirdly warmish, but at least there was snow from the day before on the ground.
I had my last two days of school this week, and I’m glad to say that my finals are over! I’m relieved that I did well on them too. And now I’m on break, and I’m so glad to have a few weeks of rest.
My reading’s been slightly slowed down because of final, but now that finals are over, I have a lot more time. On a whim, I decided to re-read most of the Madman trades we own, and it was so fun to revisit one of my favorite comics! I also completed my Goodreads challenge of 250 books! I’m at 254 now!
Other than that, I’ve just been sleeping in, drawing a bit, beginning to edit my main sci-fi WIP, enjoying my Christmas gifts, playing Minecraft, listening to Parklife, and baking with my mom. Oh, and I’m seeing Spiderman: No Way Home this afternoon—NO SPOILERS, PLEASE!
I have my dad to thank for finding the book I’m reviewing today, so thank you! It was in an NPR article that he sent me a month back that talked about the ways that sci-fi literature has changed in the past decade. I’d read or shelved a book or two from the list, but I added Tell the Machine Goodnight after reading it because of how fascinating it sounded. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed!
In a near-future world, the secret to happiness can be obtained with the click of a button. Apricity is a company that has created a machine that can, with startling accuracy, predict exactly what someone needs to be happy.
Pearl has worked for Apricity for many years, earning her notoriety from her coworkers and her manager. But as she looks out into her life–particularly her teenage son, who rejects happiness above all else–she questions the purpose of the machine. Is “happiness” truly what she sells?
Tell the Machine Goodnight feels like what would happen if Noah Hawley sat down and tried to write a Ray Bradbury novel from scratch. Which is to say, I loved this book.
Everything about this novel felt like a dazzling callback to all of my favorite sci-fi classics. It’s set around 14 years from now, and everything is more or less the same, but there are just some aspects that are fundamentally off. It’s mainly Apricity, among other things, but Katie Williams did a fantastic job of making a world that was simultaneously familiar and unsettling, like something that could feasibly emerge in the next few decades.
I’ve read a lot of reviews that said that they felt that Tell the Machine Goodnight had no plot, but for me, the lack of structure added to the appeal of the narrative. It’s presented as a series of interconnected vignettes of life in Williams’ near-future world, and what society looks like when personalized, surface-level happiness dominates all else. One in particular stood out to me; in one thread, Pearl’s ex-husband creates modern art out of the Apricity suggestions. (One of them was to eat honey, and so he made an art form out of eating honey in excess and then vomiting it out.) Little quirks and stories like these made the world feel all the more fleshed out for me, and I enjoyed every page of it.
To top it off, I firmly believe that good sci-fi should make the reader think, and Tell the Machine Goodnight nails this right on the head! A lot of sci-fi media these days tends to tout that they “comment on the role of technology in our lives,” but I’ve found that very few books/movies/etc. that are advertised as such actually hit the mark. That’s not the case with this novel–it explores some very relevant themes, and does them in creative ways. Throughout the novel, there are themes of the meaning of true happiness, relationships, and our growing reliance on technology that does everything for us. Is computer-generated,temporary happiness truly happiness? It got me thinking, and I’m sure that I’ll be thinking back to it for years from now.
All in all, a modern sci-fi novel that has the feel of a classic and is sure to become a modern classic. 4 stars!
Tell the Machine Goodnight is a standalone, but Katie Williams is also the author of Absent and The Space Between Trees.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
First off, I’ve seen most other people who’ve participated put in some pictures of their cats, so I thought it would be fitting to put mine in here as well.
This is Padmé; she’s incredibly chatty, and has an affinity for clinging to people’s left shoulders. Doesn’t matter who’s shoulder it is, so long as it’s the left shoulder. Don’t question her.
Here’s Anakin, Padmé’s younger cousin. He and Padmé are inseparable. He’s also an itty bitty little cat, even at about 11 years old.
Finally, here’s Hobbes, the newest of the bunch. Most of the time, she acts too dignified to be petted, but when she’s affectionate, she’s the sweetest little cat around. (In fact, she’s sleeping right above me as I write this out.)
OH. OH. I forgot this book existed for a minute there…
YIKES. The corny names. The cringy, fake slang. The timeline. God, Earth Girlreally was something of a train wreck…
BEING IN PLACES THEY SHOULDN’T – Least favorite cliché:
If I had to pick…most definitely love triangles. Much of the time, they only serve to muddy the existing plot with unnecessary angst and bickering. I won’t be sad to see them phase out of YA literature. I sure hope they do.
THE GOOD OLD CARDBOARD BOX – Most underrated book series?
I came across this tag on the wonderful Megabunny Reads, and I thought it would be fun to participate. Here goes nothin’…
HOW MANY BOOKS IS TOO MANY IN A SERIES?
I’m notorious for starting series and never finishing them, but I feel like the limit for me would be once it passes the double-digit mark. Unless they’re spin-offs, I’m not sure how any series could possible perpetuate a story for so long without making it needless.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CLIFFHANGERS?
If done well, they’re an excellent way to keep the reader hooked. If poorly executed, I sometimes find that they can be a pathetic excuse for a rushed ending. But most of the time, I find them good, but painfully so.
HARDBACK OR PAPERBACK?
Eh…I don’t really discriminate. Hardback is more expensive, but I feel like there’s an equally likely chance for them to get damaged, so either one works for me.
My school’s book club meeting for this month was yesterday, so I certainly threw out a boatload of recommendations. I think the most prominent one that hadn’t previously surfaced was Alexander Freed’s novelization of Rogue One.
OLDEST BOOK THAT YOU’VE READ?
I think that Frankenstein would take that title as well.
NEWEST BOOK THAT YOU’VE READ?
Hmm…I think it might be Marissa Meyer’s Supernova. That one was just published last November.
I don’t think I can pick just one, but Mary Shelley, Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman, Tony DiTerlizzi, Neal Shusterman, Ray Bradbury, Sarah Maria Griffin…the list goes on.
BUYING BOOKS OR BORROWING THEM?
I practically live at my local library, and I borrow books nearly every week; that being said, I don’t prefer it to buying. So, again, I’m indecisive.
A BOOK YOU DISLIKE BUT EVERYONE ELSE LIKES?
Red Queen. I’m still so baffled as to why it’s got such a huge fandom. It’s pretty much just ripping off every YA trope and rolling them into a sloppy, disgusting ball…
BOOKMARKS OR DOG-EARS?
Bookmarks, no question. Dog-earing is blasphemy, and you cannot change my mind.
As 2019 (and this decade) draws to a close, I’ve decided to make a comprehensive lists of all of my 5-star reads for this year, and, by proxy, my favorite books that I’ve read this year. Most of these are what’d you’d expect, if you’ve scoured my book tags and reviews, but I know there’s a few that I haven’t talked much about. These are in chronological order of when I read them, though their actual rankings vary a fair bit.
Now, without further ado…this year’s 5-star lineup!
KING OF SCARS–LEIGH BARDUGO
Bardugo’s veritable masterpiece, all at once a rollicking adventure and an exploration of internal conflict, was my first 5-star rating of this year. And…Nikolai. ‘Nuff said.
Good afternoon (or whatever time it is in your time zone), bibliophiles!
This tag was originally created for YouTube by Kate’s Book Date, and I was tagged by the wonderful A Little Haze Book Blog to take part in it. And honestly, how could I say no? I mean, books and music: two of my favorite things! (So thank you, both of you! 🙂 )
Alright, let’s get started…
1. MY JAM – a song you MUST listen to every time it comes on, no matter how old or how many times you’ve listened to it / a book you’ll never get sick of
This song is, without question, one of my favorites of all time, but it rarely comes on shuffle, and so I absolutely swell with joy when I hear it: David Bowie’s “Quicksand”.
The fact that Bowie created a song so profound, yet can also rock me blissfully to sleep like a baby, is sheer genius. If you haven’t listened to this song, PLEASE DO, AS YOUR LIFE WILL BE FAR BETTER FOR IT.
In the 1.5(ish) years since its release, I’ve re-read it…oh, at least six times, and it never ceases to make me feel every possible emotion.
2. THROWBACK – a song that reminds you of the cringiest time of your life / a book that also reminds you of this time (or just something you wouldn’t like as much if you picked it up for the first time now)
Cringiest time in my life? 6th grade, here we come…
For the longest time, this was my favorite song of all time. I couldn’t stop listening to it, I tried to get my friends into St. Vincent, and…well, I pretty much became associated with St. Vincent among my classmates. (A blessing and a curse.) Don’t get me wrong, I still love this song, but…man, 6th grade me was a nightmare. And speaking of being associated with certain things…
The Search for WondLa trilogy was my moon, my sun, and all the stars in my sky at that age. And, as with “Bad Believer”, I carried this bad boy around me whenever I re-read it, and that meant getting weird looks from my classmates, because, yet again, it was “that book”…
I still stand by that it’s a phenomenal series, but man, does it bring back a boatload of memories.
3. REPLAY – a recent song you have on repeat right now / a recent favorite book
I’m very, very late to hop on this bandwagon, but I just discovered Pink Floyd’s “Time” a few days ago, and I have not stopped listening to it since.
That surreal, dream-like quality, the poetic and yet blatantly real lyrics…man oh man, I love this song.
As for books, the last book (I believe) that I gave a solid five stars to was Like A Love Story.
gAH, TALK ABOUT FEELING ALL THE FEELS KNOWN TO MAN…such an expertly written, heartstring-ripping novel…
4. GETS ME – this song IS ME / this book is me in book form
[clicks on YouTube link] [gets flooded with Hellboy II memories circa 8th grade]
I’m not sure if this is necessarily me in book form, but I have often felt like an outsider, for several reasons. I’ve struggled to fit in for most of my life, and it’s only been in the past two or so years that I’ve been able to find my tribe. So, in a way, this song gives me hope. Hope that someday, maybe I’ll find true love from someone who sees me for who I truly am.
As for books, I’d say…yeah, you guessed it, Aurora Rising. But really, the central theme of this book is finding your people, finding those who see you for who you are, and cherish you for the qualities that others abhor.
5. WUT – weird but I like it? / a unique book that stuck out to you for whatever reason
I mean, the weirdest part of this song is the title, but Sidney Gish’s music is generally filled to the brim with absolutely lovely, crafty lyrics that not only catch my eye (and ear), but resonate with me on some level.
Good Omens would be my obvious literary choice for this question. An absolutely madcap gem, this book never fails to make me cry laughing. Same goes for the series, too–I’m only three episodes in, but I adore it.
6. LET’S GO – best pump up song (for workouts or just life) / a book that inspired you
This song makes me feel unbelievably powerful, no matter when or where I listen to it. Björk is nothing short of a visionary.
As for the book, The Martian Chronicles , I’d say. Yeah, I know, not the most inspirational, uplifting collection, but Bradbury’s writing is what makes me want to be a writer, what motivates me to dream, to create. Although I’ve read a few of his works, this is the first of his that I’ve read, and my personal favorite.
7. CHILL – fave chill, relaxing song / a book you’d curl up with and read on a rainy day
I mean, I could probably put most anything by Frankie Cosmos for this question, but this was the first song of hers that I was introduced to. Mellow, with a warm, nostalgic feel that never fails to make me smile.
Kindred Spirits is easily the shortest novel I own, and it’s filled to the brim with adorable, slow-burn romance. Not to mention the fact that it centers around Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Gotta love Star Wars.
8. ADDICTING – guilty pleasure song (one that’s catchy and addicting but not a whole lot of substance) / guilty pleasure/trashy/fast/light read
Yeah, pretty simple lyricism here, but I feel little pink hearts forming in my eyes whenever “Johanna” comes on. 💗
Again with the Rainbow Rowell…you guessed it, folks…
I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: Pumpkinheadsis the ideal antidote for any of the sadness and troubles in your life.
9. NOSTALGIA – throwback you look back on fondly / a book you read forever ago that you look back on fondly or reminds you of a happy childhood time
I know, more Hunky Dory era David Bowie. But personally, I stand by my belief that this is easily the best album in the history of music.
“Kooks”, in particular, has a special place in my heart, for the simple reason that it’s the center of one of my earliest childhood memories. I was in the car, probably still a baby, and my whole family was with me. No idea where we were going, but “Kooks” was playing.
Most of Roald Dahl’s novels have a special place in my heart, but Matilda, in particular, has the most vibrantly fond memories for me. My teacher read it to my class in third grade (we were on a Roald Dahl kick, as this followed both of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory books), and I got it as a gift later that year.