Category Archives: music
Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
Library Overdrive E-book
[#51 in my 75 Book Challenge]
In the year 2044, the world sucks. Most people live their lives in OASIS, an entire virtual world where players can do, buy, and play almost anything. When the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, dies, he leaves behind all of his wealth and control of the company to the person who can locate three hidden keys and open three hidden gates with in the virtual world he created. Our hero, Wade Watts, may live a crappy life in an Oklahoma trailer park, but he’s up for the challenge. He just may be the one to finally win Halliday’s challenge, but quickly he realizes he up against more than casual competitors.
Let the games begin.
If you love the 80’s or video games, you’ll love this book. Since Halliday was a child of the 80’s and was completely obsessed with 80’s culture, there are 80’s culture references and video games galore. However, I’m not obsessed with video games or 80’s culture and I STILL loved the story. While Wade is everything I don’t want to be (obsessive, reckless, and reclusive), I still had to root for him through the non-stop action. I loved the world building, both within OASIS and outside of it.
Essentially, this is a classic quest novel, just inside a virtual world. You have your hero (Wade), your hunting group of companions (fellow “gunters” Aech, Art3mis, Shoto, and Daito), the enemy (Sorrento and the Sixers, from a corporation that wants to own OASIS at all costs), and the grail (the final Easter Egg). Add in some techy gadgets, giant robots, teleportation, magical talismans…basically anything goes in this world. The novel is kind of like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in way, and I think it can be enjoyed by more than just video game enthusiasts.
FINAL GRADE: A I’m on a good book roll this summer. I don’t know if it’s that I have time to really enjoy my books or because I’m just having a lucky streak, but Ready Player One had me ignoring people around me just to find out what happened next. Wow, you guys. I also see why Ready Player One has been recommended as an adult book for teenagers, since the content would definitely appeal to this age group. I would by it for my library for my more mature middle school students, and recommend it to my friends who like fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian books.
Oh, and the book gets a GLBT tag, but I can’t tell you why. Just trust me that there is an awesome GLBT character and read the book to find out more.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to the bloggers and readers who reviewed and recommended this book, inspiring me to read it. Here are their reviews if you want to know more:
Lucy @ The Reading Date (she reviewed the audio book, narrated by Wil Wheaton)
Stephanie @ Misprinted Pages (she’s also a gamer)
April @ Good Books and Good Wine (she compared it to The Westing Game)
The theme for May is Random Playlist: “Open up your music library and pick a song at random from your collection to feature with us. The choice can be as eclectic as you want it to be! Share one song, or share a couple songs. Feature your random mixes with us all month long.”
My iTunes is a hot mess. Don’t get me wrong — it’s organized. I am a librarian, after all. But my musical taste is all over the map. Hitting shuffle usually results in lots of classical music. So here’s what happened when I hit shuffle this time:
1.) “Salvator Mundi” by Thomas Tallis
I listen to classical quite a bit because I was a total band nerd in high school. Can’t say this one has shown up on any of my favorite classical playlists, but it grew on me as I listened to it for this post. Also discovered it was in an episode of The Tudors. Maybe I should watch that show.
2.) “Face Down” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Reminds me of spring 2007, when I got this song on a mixed CD from a friend. Mixed CDs from friends are the reasons I listen to most of the stuff I currently love .
3.) “Back for Good” by Take That
Whoa…talk about a 90′s throwback. I definitely remember this one from 1995. However, I didn’t realize Take That included a young Robbie Williams. Definitely worth watching if you’re a 90′s child. I had to listen twice.
4.) “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers
I sang this in my car like nobody’s business during the summer of 2005. Now I just scoff because they just sing the same exact thing twice. Guess a 90 second song wasn’t enough, so they had to double it?
5.) “Come Undone” by Duran Duran
Maybe one of my favorite songs of all time, I’ve loved it since I was in 3rd grade. I’m glad this one showed up on my 5-song shuffle.
Recognize anything? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? I was surprised by this list. In the true spirit of the Random Playlist theme, it really is random. What’s the most random song in your collection?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week we’re looking at music and books. I thought this post would be easy and fun, but it actually turned out to be quite difficult! I guess I love my music so much and I love my books so much that matching them made me super-picky. There were other choices, but I liked these the best:
Top Ten Books I Would Give A Theme Song To
[and what the song is. and why.]
1.) Peak by Roland Smith/”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Though a love song, I’m applying it to a teenager climbing Mt. Everest here. Because I can.
2.) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher/”Rocketship” by Guster
This is a book about suicide, and the suicide “note” Hannah Abbott has left behind in the form of seven audio tapes. The tapes tell her story and explain how thirteen people caused her to end her life. The Guster song is a beautiful, but heartbreaking, song about suicide.
“They’ll find it on the stairs
Politely placed it there
Been so unkind without a hint
No warning sign for them
Read my apology
Their hope of disbelief
But no denial changes things
No remedy ahead”
3.) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli/”Magic” by Ben Folds
I just wrote my review of Stargirl yesterday after I re-read it with my book club. Basically, Stargirl is a free spirited girl who tries to attend a normal public high school full of conforming students…and the one boy who loves her almost as much as he loves fitting in. The Ben Folds song captures the way that Leo watches Stargirl as a bystander, and how Stargirl can’t be contained.
“saw you last night
dance by the light of the moon
stars in your eyes
free from the life that you knew
saw you last night
stars in your eyes
smiled in my room”
4.) Crossed by Allie Condie (or any other dystopian novel)/”Run Away” by The Real McCoy
Though I didn’t care much for the book, it does make me think of this song for the 90′s. A bit a of a throwback for you! The song also works for just about any dystopian novel…take your pick. Delirium? Divergent? The Giver? Unwind? The Forest of Hands and Teeth?
“Money, sex in full control, look, big brother is watching you,
Unlock your brain and save your soul,
No more limits, no more curfew
Life in the perfect system,
Take a stand and fight for freedom
Keep the faith, you gotta keep the faith
You’d better keep the faith and run away”
5.) Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander/”Hipster Bitch” by Lelia Broussard
The book is a non-fiction book based on the website of the same name, but I always think of it when I hear this Lelia Broussard song. Nobody likes to admit they are a hipster, but there are enough of them out there to drive me nuts.
lord knows i’m nothin like her
gotta be the life of the party
so quick to tell ya she’s artsy
but I guess it’s hard to hate that ass and those lips
6.) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray/”Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses
The song is over-the-top and so is the book. It’s all a big metaphor in the end, right?
“Welcome to the jungle
We take it day by day
If you want it you’re gonna bleed
But it’s the price you pay
And you’re a very sexy girl
That’s very hard to please
You can taste the bright lights
But you won’t get them for free
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle”
7.) The Fault In Our Stars by John Green/”What Sarah Said” by Death Cab for Cutie
The Death Cab song is one of my favorite songs of all time. Many of the Death Cab songs, with their dark themes about life and death, would work for this book about kids with cancer.
“And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time
As I stared at my shoes in the ICU that reeked of piss and 409
And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself that I’d already taken too much today
As each descending peak on the LCD took you a little farther away from me”
8.) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins/”I Love You” by Sarah McLachlan
Anna and Etienne get thisclose to falling for each other at so many points in this book, while roaming the streets of Paris. Since this Sarah McLachlan song takes place during a parting at a streetlight filled with unspoken emotions, I thought it was perfect for the romantic tension of the novel.
“Oh and every time I’m close to you
There’s too much I can’t say
And you just walk away
And I forgot
To tell you
I love you”
9.) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver/”Here It Goes Again” by OK Go
Before I Fall has a Groundhog Day-esque plotline about a girl reliving the same day over and over. I thought the OK Go song would be peppy enough for the movie soundtrack of the book. I imagine it as the song playing on her alarm clock when she wakes up each morning. Or on the car radio.
“Oh here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again
Oh, here it goes again
I should have known, should have known, should have known again
But here it goes again
Oh, here it goes again”
10.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins/”Love Is Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
Really this song works for the whole series.
“When I’m losing control
Will you turn me away
Or touch me deep inside
And when all this gets old
Will it still feel the same
There’s no way this will die
But if we get much closer
I could lose control
And if your heart surrenders
You’ll need me to hold”
If I Stay
by Gayle Forman
[#25 in my 52 Book Challenge]
Before you read this review, know that it is best enjoyed with a Yo Yo Ma soundtrack. So if you own any Yo Yo Ma, or even any version of Gershwin’s Andante con moto e poco rubato, put it on as theme music. (Okay, so I know that most of you won’t actually do that. But trust me, you’re missing out).
I now see what all the buzz is about for this book. It’s been in my TBR pile for a year and I finally got around to reading it. I read it in less than a day. This is the story of Mia, the Juilliard-bound, classical-musical loving cellist. Mia’s boyfriend and the rest of her family are punk rockers, but they still love, appreciate, and support Mia. Her life is pretty average. Until one day her entire family is in a terrible car accident, and Mia must make the decision about whether or not she’ll stay or go.
Before reading the book, it was hard for me to imagine how the author could make a good case for me to be on the fence about Mia’s decision. However, she did this quite well. I could see Mia’s dilemma on why it might be best to let go. Mia reminds us what it is to live and to remember, but also what it is to feel great pain and loss.
The imagery and sound references in the text were so vivid that I knew this would be made into a movie. And apparently the movie rights have already been bought by the same people that made Twilight. I hope they don’t overdramatize this book like they did with all the Bella/Edward madness, as this book is more simple and subtle. But Gayle Forman has written a story that will translate very well to the big screen. Even the soundtrack is included throughout the text, since music is so important to everyone in Mia’s life. (You can view and download the songs from the novel, by artists like The Eels, Yo Yo Ma, The Smiths, The Ramones, and James Taylor, here). I can already visualize the car accident scene in my head, with Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no. 3 playing as the chaos occurs. It’s a heartbreaking scene.
Mia’s story is one that will stay with me for a long time, which is the mark of a very good book. I can’t avoid mentioning that the book was very reminiscent of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (but much better!) and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (which I didn’t even finish). Highly recommended, and I’m glad I read it so I can now recommend it to my students!
Sing You Home
by Jodi Picoult
[#24 in my 52 Book Challenge]
I love a good Jodi Picoult book. Picoult tells a story in such a way that I fly through her books in a matter of days. Her pacing is perfect and her subject matter usually makes me question my own morals. This book was no exception!
The basic plot: Zoe is a music therapist who is experiencing fertility problems with her husband, Max. The tension between the two over the fertility problems results in the end of the marriage. Shortly after, Zoe is surprised to find love with her close friend, Vanessa, while Max becomes a born-again Christian. When Zoe wishes to use frozen embryos that she and Max stored during their marriage in order to have a child with Vanessa, a legal battle erupts.
This book was a little different from the other Picoult books I have read. I have read (in this order): The Pact, My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, and Handle With Care. I felt that Sing You Home was more linear. There were a few flashbacks here and there, especially at the beginning, but overall I felt the story was seated in the present. I’m neither here nor there on that, but it did make this book feel different.
However, this book really felt different for other reasons. I think this was the first Picoult book I’ve read that really hit close to home in many ways. I don’t really live in the medical or legal worlds, I’ve never had a serious medical problem, I’ve never wanted to kill myself or anyone else, and bullying wasn’t a major part of my life. So the other Picoult books I have read felt more like peering in on someone else’s life, seeing how other people live. Sing You Home felt like peering into my own life, or what my life could be, five or ten years down the road. Picoult made me feel the emotions of wanting to conceive and not being able to, an emotion that I am terrified I might actually experience one day. For lesbians, having a child can be a very complicated and expensive process. But, I’m like Zoe — I want it so badly.
In fact, one of the things that attracted me to the book was that it was about lesbians. I felt the story did a good job in not making Zoe and Vanessa into “token” lesbians or stereotypes. They felt like normal people, multi-dimensional and believable. I absolutely adored reading their love story. I felt for Vanessa’s professional worries over being out as a school counselor, too, because that’s something I worry about every single day in my own job. And, since I consider myself religious, I completely understood Max’s conflicts over religion. It’s hard to understand what is right and what is wrong in the eyes of God when the people who teach and counsel for the church are more concerned with their own self-interest and close-mindedness than seeing the real world. Top all of that off with Zoe’s love for music and I was hooked.
I’d give this book four stars (not that I usually give stars). The emotions and characters were well written and I couldn’t put it down once I got into it. It loses one star because I felt it was a little predictable at times. I saw the ending coming from a mile away and I felt that some of the plot twists were a bit contrived. Overall, though, it was a fabulous book and I would highly recommend it. And here’s to Jodi Picoult for writing such a great book and (hopefully) changing a few people’s minds about homosexuality and same-sex parenting in America!
Ben Folds is a musical god. I bought my first CD when I was 12, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. That’s 12 years of Ben in my life, half my life spent with his piano-rockin’ music. Crazy songs, upbeat songs, random songs, beautiful songs, heartfelt songs, I love each and every one. He’s my favorite. However, I’ve seen over 40 concerts in my lifetime, and not one was Ben Folds. Hmmm, that’s got to change. Oh wait, I would probably faint if I actually saw him…maybe that’s what’s holding me back.
It’s the piano. He totally rocks that piano. Totally.