Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Pretties (Uglies #2)" by Scott Westerfeld

388 pages

Tally is finally pretty. She turned sixteen, had the operation, and moved to New Pretty Town. Now her appearance is perfect in every way, and her only job is to party and have fun all the time. She's got her friends Peris and Shay with her, and life can't get any better. So why does she feel like she's missing something? She keeps thinking about her time out in the Smoke, where people keep their Ugly faces and live in the wild, with barely any technology. The conditions are horrible there, so why can't Tally stop brooding over her vague memories of the place? When some of the Smokies come back, with a letter the old Tally wrote to herself, it becomes clear that there's a lot more to New Pretty Town, the operation, and the Smoke than Tally remembers. And there's a reason why she can't remember--because her brain was altered during the operation, just like every other Pretty. Once again, Tally finds herself at odds with the City and its cruel-pretty Specials, and she'll do anything to get out.

After reading "Uglies," "Pretties" was a disappointment for me. Tally gets on my nerves a lot more in this one. She still shows a lot of strength, but she's more whiny in "Pretties." Also, the plot is much slower, with far less action until the end. And the whole "savages" thing didn't sit well with me. Worst of all, a big love triangle is formed in this one, and I am so sick of those. Despite all these complaints, I did enjoy the story. I like where the series is going (except for the love triangle) and it ends with a big surprise and a cliffhanger. I'm definitely going to be finishing the series because I'm invested enough that I want to see what happens, but I don't have super high expectations.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Amped" by Daniel H. Wilson

288 pages

In the not-so-distant future, the United States is on the brink of a crisis. The Supreme Court has ruled that discrimination against technologically advanced humans is legal. The logic is that the "amps" have unfair advantages over "real humans," so they aren't protected with all the rights that regular citizens are. For the millions of amps across the country, this is a disaster. Their special abilities vary, but many have the chips in their brains for purely medical reasons. Twenty-nine-year-old schoolteacher Owen is included in that group. He received his chip as a preteen to cure his epilepsy, and it serves no other purpose. That's what he thinks, anyway. But as tensions rise between amps and those who fear them, Owen learns that his father, a doctor, put a special amp in his brain. An amp that gives him powers like no one has ever seen. Problem is, Owen has no idea how to control these powers, much less use them to help others like him. And, as it turns out, there is more going on behind the scenes of the impending civil war, and both sides have their targets set on Owen. 

This is one of those science fiction stories that actually seems conceivable. There are plenty of parallels between this story and things that have already happened plenty of times throughout history. Human beings have shown that we can be incredibly paranoid. Fear makes people, even big groups of people, do terrible things. So it's not hard to imagine the events of Amped happening in real life. Although I think things wouldn't escalate as quickly as they did in the story, I was okay everything moving quickly for the purposes of the book. I got sucked in right away and the nonstop action made it hard to put down. I thought it was predictable at first, but then there were a few twists thrown in that I totally didn't see coming. My only complaint is that I wanted better, more clear descriptions of what was happening inside Owen's head when the amp was turned on. I had trouble picturing what was actually going on. Overall, though, this is an entertaining story that will appeal to all kinds of fans of speculative fiction. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

330 pages 

When Scott Douglas took a job as a page at a public library in southern California when he was in college, he had no idea what he was getting into. He ending up finding a career...a career that he quickly realized would not be what he expected. Instead of checking out books and shushing noisy children, he found himself kicking teens off the computer for looking at porn, getting mooned by a disgruntled patron, and trying to get people from sleeping in the bathroom. In addition to all the ridiculousness, though, he discovered that he could really touch people's lives through the library. Sometimes it was teaching the elderly how to use the computer to see pictures of their grandchildren. Sometimes it was doing storytime to give kids a love of reading. Through it all, Scott learned to take the good with the bad, and, on the bright side, at least the bad is pretty hilarious. 

Since I'm a librarian, I totally related to Scott. At times, when I'm, say, cleaning up puke because the cleaning crew is gone for the day, I'm thinking "I got a masters for THIS?" But I've learned to appreciate those moments because at least they make for good stories! And all the good parts totally worth a little bizarreness...helping people finding good books, look for jobs, and do homework makes me feel awesome. But back to the book...I totally cracked up at several points throughout Scott's story because it's so over-the-top, but I know it's all true. At times, I felt like Scott was a bit condescending toward the patrons, and I got annoyed when he would talk about being bored at work and goofing off to pass the time...we never have free time at my library! Still, I enjoyed his stories. They reminded me of things I love about my job and made me laugh as well. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

June stats and winners (way way late)

Hi everyone, 

Here they are, later than ever (sorry about that!): our statistics for June.

Books: 61
Pages: 16,457
Participants: 6

Most Books
Jenny: 23
Heather: 14
Cathy K: 10

Most Pages
Jenny: 4840
Heather: 4033
Cathy K: 3460

Participation Points
Jenny: 23
Cathy K: 17
Heather: 14

Thanks to everyone who posted! Even if you haven't posted in a while, come back and post some reviews. We want to see what you're reading! Also, feel free to share the registration form with any of your coworkers who might be interested.

Don't forget that you can get extra points in July for reading any book with a red, white, and/or blue cover (I'd say it counts if more than half the cover is one or more of those colors) and extra points in August for reading Missouri authors. 

Happy Reading! Let me know if you have any questions. 

"Curses! A F**ked Up Fairy Tale"

320 pages

Things aren't going so well for private investigator/villain RJ. Thanks to his crazy ex-wife, he's on probation from the Villain's Union. This means he can't be mean, cruel, vicious, or evil--at all. And it's killing him. Meanwhile, Cinderella has just been run over by a bus, and her not-so-ugly stepsister, Asia, suspects that it wasn't an accident. She hires RJ to find the killer, and due to his can't-be-evil curse, he is forced to say yes. When he begins to investigate, he finds himself getting sucked into Asia's crazy family: King and Queen Maledetto, who are constantly trying to kill each other; Cinderella's fiance, Prince Charming, who is obviously flamboyantly gay; and the so-ugly-she-hurts-your-eyes stepsister, who is in love with the butler. To make matters more complicated, RJ starts falling for Asia. He just has to solve the murder case, get the girl, and win over the Villain's Union so he can get his evil powers back. Unfortunately, someone starts trying to kill him, and it turns out that Asia is suffering from a curse of her own...

This is just a goofy, goofy book. I thought a few jokes were a little too over the top and it gets repetitive occasionally, but I did crack up quite a bit. I enjoyed the over-the-top characters and trying to figure out who really killed Cinderella. There's plenty of vulgarity so it's not for the faint-hearted, as it's heavy on the adult language and content. If you can handle that, though, and you like silly humor that you don't have to think about too much, this is the book for you.