Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Review: Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

Life in a Fishbowl was a totally unexpected read for me. I'd seen it mentioned on a few 'must read' lists, but I started with lots of 'bleh, another Internet drama/reality TV drama book.' No offense to Vlahos, I just get skeptical of the 'oh-no-the-Internet!' YAs. Surprisingly, it was far more than that. While a bit jumbled with lots of moving pieces that I'm not sure always fit together, it was a fascinating read!

Summary: Jackie and Megan are two sisters, who like many, have their disagreements. For the most part, they put aside their drama when they find out their father (Jared) is dying of a brain tumor and has auctioned his life off to the highest bidder online to help leave his family with financial peace. While at first fearing the nefarious people who want to hunger-games-style fight-to-the-death/human-hunt with Jared, the reality TV show they end up with ($5 million deal) ends up having a whole slew of complications of its own. As Jackie and Megan band together with their mother (Deirdre), they learn who true allies are - and there are lots of bizarre subplots that somehow, while entirely outlandish, seem totally possible in this world Vlahos' created.

Overall: Interesting commentaries on Reality TV, Social Media, Right to Die Movements, Terminal Illnesses, Internet/Gaming Culture, Religious Institutions, Family, Privacy, Community - but it's almost as though too many things prevent you from really focusing in on any one area. Would be a great selection for readers loving high-energy, drama filled pieces.

"D, I'm going to die. No matter what we do, I'm going to die. Let's at least cash in." (98)

Twists of intrigue: (Spoilers coming... just a friendly warning)  

Book Review: The Playbook by Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander - how many awesome books can one person write, really? I hope a zillion, because I am so grateful for each new piece, and this one did not disappoint!

With photographs from Thai Neave (insta: shootinghoops), Kwame Alexander pairs inspirational quotes and anecdotes along his 52 rules in the book. While the number of rules make it sort of impossible to remember them all, the greater message you walk away with is belief - in hard work, persistence, grit and perseverance.

With powerful, inspiring content and a format that is airy, easy to access, and breathable - this book is a great piece for readers of any grade, I'd say probably especially grades 4-8, & beyond depending on the interest and reader.

Subdivided into sections: Warm-Up: The Rules, 1st Quarter: Grit, 2nd Quarter: Motivation, Halftime: Passion, 3rd Quarter: Focus, 4th Quarter: Teamwork and Resilience, & Overtime, each thematically plays back so well into the advice given in the poems, stories, and quotes along the way.

PS - One of the things I love most, not even related to the text, but the way Alexander publishes his books - they always have the most unique physical pieces that really make the whole experience of reading his books creatively minded from cover to cover - the textured lining paper - THE BEST. (It may be hard to see in the picture, but i promise you the little basketball-esque edges are indeed there) Such a nice tactile addition to run the theme in every sense possible!

"Champions Train. Chumps Complain" (9)