Book Review | So much I want to tell you : letters to my little sister by Anna Akana

so much i want to tell you anna.jpgAnna Akana is a film producer and YouTuber living in LA. Growing up with a military Dad meant her family moved often and she experienced life in many places. When Anna was a teenager, her younger sister committed suicide. The event had a strong impact on her and is said to be the preface for this book. Though subtitled “letters to my little sister”, there actually are no traditional letters, with the book having more of an essay type approach. Think of the book as advice from life-learned lessons, as relayed by a millennial on the following topics: creativity, identity, relationships, money, works and career.

As a YouTuber, Akana has a lot of experience distilling broad topics into short, digestible chunks. This book read similarly to video script ideas. Though I found much of the advice valid, it all seemed pretty straight-forward, without offering any groundbreaking news. The helpful anecdotes contained within would be much more beneficial to a younger reader (high school / college age), or someone with less life experience. The book is a quick read with short sections, making it easy to pause often. Check it out from a library near youI received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

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Book Review | The Last Magazine : a novel by Michael Hastings

last magazine book coverPublished posthumously, The Last Magazine introduces an aspiring, early 20’s employee at an in-print periodical in New York City. Narrated primarily in the first person by fictional Michael Hastings, the story gives a first hand view of the workings involved in putting out the Magazine. The power struggle between two top writers, the field reporting from an international correspondent in Iraq, and Michael’s daily deeds shape the book. The scoop goes beyond the simple day-to-day though, and is supported by racial tensions, sex and drugs and a human desire to stay afloat no matter the cost.

In the past I’ve found workplace fiction to be interesting, so I figured this was worth a try. Hastings’ writing style is conversational, informal and very readable. The book has a journal-like feel with short, dated chapters. The characters, thought not particularly likable, are appealing in their eccentricities. The story carries on smoothly, alternating focus between Michael and A.E. Peoria, an international correspondent. The hefty amount of blatant sexual encounters may put off some readers, but mostly they contribute to advancing the narrative. This novel was discovered and published after Hastings died in a car accident in Los Angeles in 2013. Some sources contend that book characters have real life counterparts with whom journalist Hastings worked. Check our The Last Magazine from a library near you. For an excellent workplace fiction read, try The Company by Max Barry.

Book Review | Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone

book cover Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne GladstoneAfter reading the synopsis, I was pretty anxious for this book to come out. The premise is great, but the execution is lacking. Notes from the Internet Apocalypse chronicles the “adventures” of a late 30’s Jameson drinking single male in New York City when the internet goes down, indefinitely. First his cyber blogger friend arrives at his doorstep from the West Coast. As they hunt for the internet (as if it will be hidden in a closet somewhere) they make friends with a 24 year old Australian punk chic in Central Park. The mismatched threesome’s bonds are tested as they combat the terrors of the new age – a psychic librarian, a totalitarian police regime, and Christians against the proclaimed Internet Messiah.

This book is pretty easy to get into and the story flows fairly well, but it’s overly coincidental and focuses on the wrong plot points. For example, a major storyline is pornography and how people go about getting their fix since the disappearance of the net. (I did not want to read about this). I thought something was going to happen eventually, but nothing really did. More than a start to end story, it was a rambling journal from the main character about what he encountered daily. The biggest cop-out was the ending. I’m sure other readers may have differing opinions, but I’d say this one’s not really worth your time. I picked this book because I enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and Ready Player One, but it’s not in the same league. Maybe Gladstone should stick with magazine pieces – no offense.

Book Review | The Circle by Dave Eggers

book cover The Circle by Dave EggersI really enjoyed reading this book. The Circle tells the story of early-20’s Mae who has just been hired to work for a major internet company in Silicon Valley (think Google). Her friend Annie, loved by all, hooked her up from inside the company. Eggers shows the glamour of a sprawling high-tech campus with food and festivities abound, no expenses spared. Mae’s lifestyle changes as she delves deeper into her work at The Circle and loses anchored outside connections.

Eggers forces the reader to think about the true definition of reality and how much of a role the internet currently plays there. This book is partially about social awareness and offers a direction in which our society might be headed. Ignoring hidden – or not so hidden – messages, The Circle is just a solid good read. Mae has a few character flaws that bug you, but also make her realistic. She enjoys kayaking in the Bay and has some romantic encounters that spice things up a bit. Eggers’s style of writing is very polished and easy to read, but not overly simplistic. The book did leave me wanting more though – maybe more of a conclusion, more of the story, more brain activity from Mae… Check the book out from your local library, if you can handle the current hold queue, and let me know what you think.

Book Review | Alice in tumblr-Land : and other fairy tales for a new generation

book cover Alice in tumblr-Land : and other fairy tales for a new generationAuthor Tim Manley writes fairy tales for 20-somethings. The audience of this book should be at the very bottom of that age range, or perhaps teens who enjoy generous profanity and colloquialisms. Alice in tumblr-Land is billed as humor, but I could count the number of times I laughed on my fingers. While that may seem good enough, the truth is every other page of this 265 page book is really its own two to three line story. The book could be compared to reading tumblr or Facebook and I’d say it’s misleading to call this a book of fairy tales simply because it involves fairy tale characters. Creativity is here, there are some great drawings (book is fully illustrated), and Manley does incorporate some actual issues for generation now. Peter Pan is a social media addict who validates himself by blogging. Sleeping Beauty is depressed and prefers streaming shows to leaving her apartment. Alice questions her identity and reality. Puss in Boots opens an Etsy shop. Mulan becomes transgender. This book would be good for an airplane ride or a car trip for an audience ok with swear words and sexual innuendoes. See which library near you might have this new book.