Year of Yes
By Shonda Rhimes
McRaney uses studies and research to illustrate ways that we as humans can be not so smart sometimes. There are a great many logical fallacies and failures of reasoning pointed out here, all things that even the best of us fall victim to from time to time. This is an interesting study of human behavior and a humorous ego check to boot. Recommended for fans of popular science and humor.
A bank robber’s escape plan is foiled when he takes the wrong door out of the building, and ends up accidentally holding eight strangers hostage. But when the police finally enter the building, the bank robber has vanished, leaving only a bloodstain on the floor. As the police interview the hostages to get leads on the bank robber’s whereabouts, they become more and more frustrated. It’s hard to figure out what happened when the only witnesses are eight anxious people who had a hard day.
Fredrik Backman excels at writing stories that are a bit quirky, but that also hit right at the core of common human worries and anxieties. Although all of the characters in this story are more over-the-top than those featured in Backman’s other books, they all have moments when their true fears and desires are revealed. Personally, I loved this mixture of absurdity and heart, and found myself laughing aloud one minute, then sighing in sympathy the next.
This story is mostly told in non-sequential order, which allows the reader to get a better idea of each character's background story, but also keeps the reader, along with the police, in the dark as to what actually happened until the very end. Because of this, the plot takes some interesting and unexpected turns, which ends to a satisfying conclusion for everyone.
by Ernest Cline
Ballantine Books, 2020. 377 pages. Fiction
Wade Watts won the greatest video game ever created. For a few days, he has time to bask in the glory of his hard-earned wealth and fame. But then a new piece of technology is discovered in the vaults of Gregarious Games Inc. that could once again change life as he knows it. This new tech is wildly popular, but also puts people at the mercy of virtual reality. Almost immediately a new adversary takes over the Oasis and Wade is once again called upon to save humanity.
This is a fun sequel to the super popular Ready Player One. There are new bad guys to outsmart, new clues to find and decipher, and a whole new world to explore. It is interesting to see how the top four, Wade, Ache, Art3mis, and Shoto all respond to having wealth beyond reasoning. Art3mis, Samantha, is still determined to help the troubled world outside the Oasis. Shoto and Ache become interested in the business side of Gregarious Games, but Wade is kind of lost. He alienates those most important to him and must learn how to deal with people in real life, not just in virtual reality. There is enough new content about the characters that this book is worth the read, but fans of Cline may feel like they have been through this all before. This book will appeal to those searching for a book with adventure, interpersonal relationships, and mind-bending views of reality.AGP
Sixteen-year-old Ava is left severely disfigured after a house fire claims the lives of her parents and cousin. Now she lives with her aunt and uncle, and after a lot of counseling and trips to the burn unit, her aunt and uncle decide it’s time for Ava to return to high school, to try and regain some semblance of “normal.” Except, Ava knows there will never be a return to normal, not with how she looks. She agrees to give it a week, and in that time Ava meets Piper, a fellow survivor. Together, they work through the trauma—both physical and emotional—that both sets them apart and brings them together.
There is a lot of emotion packed into this book. It clearly evokes the fears, hopes, and awkwardness that are pretty relatable to most people who have been through high school. The characters are well developed, with their own stories to cope with and grow from. Ava’s journey, from a popular and talented musical theater star to a burn survivor hiding from the world, is raw and thought-provoking. Often, we have a warped view of ourselves, and this is especially true for Ava. I found her story incredibly moving, and would easily recommend this for those who feel like they struggle to fit in, and those learning to cope with loss.
Magic is leeching from the world, or so Ambercrombie writes as he introduces us to a new fantasy world where no one can be trusted and nothing is what you'd expect. The Union, a kingdom where everyone is born into their place in the world with nobles and commoners and merchants, becomes embroiled in a war with the Gurkals of the South and King Bethod in the North. All the while, conflict with an ancient evil millennia in the making is just about to get started. Without magic or a true understanding of history, the main 3 characters of the book find that they must face an evil few men understand, or war will be the least of the worlds problems. The Blade Itself follows 3 major characters and the story of how they get roped into the fight to save the world. Logan Nine-Fingers, a barbarian from the north whose bloody history defined the shaping of a kingdom, escapes a supernatural evil in order to answer the call of world's oldest (and literally the first) Magi. Captain Jezal dan Luthar, a selfish, self-absorbed nobleman, who's constantly forced into situations he would rather avoid by people who are far smarter than him. And Inquisitor San dan Glokta, a man who survived being tortured about a mile past the edge of his life and who now tortures others in service to his king.
The Blade Itself brings together political intrigue, the corruption of governments and history, and the classic gathering of heroes to fight the storm of an ancient evil, and does so without providing us any hope that things will get better. That might sound like a bad thing, but Ambercrombie does such a good job of making us root for morally grey characters that despite a future outlook that appears grim and dark, we want to watch these characters go through the process of trying to save the world. For those that like classic fantasy by David Eddings or Terry Brooks, but want a darker world where any character that is "good" must compromise their definition of "good" to survive (à la A Song of Ice and Fire) this book (and this trilogy) is for you.