Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: The Circle

The Circle, by Dave Eggers, is a cautionary tale about Mae Holland, a recent college graduate who lands her dream job at The Circle, a Googlesque technology company.  She begins her job at the bottom, in Customer Experience, and quickly rises through the ranks.  She reaches the pinnacle of her importance at the company when she volunteers to broadcast her life for all of her followers to witness, rate, and comment upon.

The Circle, is a tale about what happens when everything in a person's life becomes watchable, searchable, commentable, and we essentially volunteer to give up all privacy so that we can share everything with others.  Is is a worse case scenario of social networking run-amok, and taken to the worst extreme.

It is about a runaway company, that to the outsider seems like the greatest place to work, and live.  As long as you are not critical of the company.  Something fairly incriminating will be found on your hard drive if you even utter the world "monopoly."  And once you're part of The Circle, it is a constant struggle to be the one who shares the most, rates the most, and interacts the most.  You are encouraged to participate in company events, and any slight, intentional or unintentional, can turn into an incredible emotional overreaction by the slighted party.

I loved this book, and read the over 500 pages in just a few days.  It was easy rooting for Mae to figure out what was going on, and use her incredible influence among her followers to put a stop to it.  It also makes you think about how much time we spend in front of one screen or another in our lives, and that we should probably endeavor to spend less time interacting on line, and more in person.

The Circle, comes out in paperback on April 22nd.  We will have a few copies here if you want to check it out.  I loved it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

I picked up Hounded, by Kevin Hearne, because I kept hearing good things about it from other Fantasy writers.  Not personally mind you, but in blog posts and YouTube videos, and all sorts of different places.  It was a pretty good read.  It took me a little while to get into it, but there is a lot of very good mythology here.  Of course you start with the Irish Druid, so there is Irish mythology, there is also Norse and Polish mythology thrown in just for fun.

We have our main character Atticus O'Sullivan (please don't ask me to spell or pronounce his Irish name-I would undoubtedly mangle it beyond recognition) a 2000 year old Irish Druid.  For our purposes here, Druids are able to gain power from the earth, and shapeshift into several different animal creatures.  Atticus has attempted to change with the times (thus the name Atticus), and blend in with his surroundings so as to not be killed by the many, many dangerous creatures in his world.  He is particularly afraid of  Aengus Óg, a very angry Celtic God from whom he stole a very important sword many years ago.  He has achieved relative immortality by a deal he made with the Morrigan, an Irish crow goddess, who choose the warriors who die in battle.  He is also able to mix up a Druidic tea that prevents him from aging.  Thus immortal Druid human.

And now the fun part.  He owns a new age bookstore/tea house!  Knowing I have a weakness for both books, and tea, I became quite enamored.  Discovering he was a ginger only sealed the deal.  And he has a giant Irish Wolfhound named Oberon, with whom he communicates telepathically.  Given the shortage of literary gingers with giant telepathic dogs, I had no choice but to read this book.

If you are concerned about the myriad of unpronounceable words, don't be.  Thankfully Mr. Hearne has thoughtfully provided a pronunciation key at the beginning of the book, although I wish he had provided the same pronunciations in subsequent volumes, instead of assuming I had them down (I didn't).

I have to say it was pretty good, which is enough to get me to continue with the series as first books are really hard to make fantastic, due to all the necessary exposition contained therein.  As long as they manage to establish some characters that you actually care about, and put them in a place with the possibility for dangers and fun, I'll go on to the second book (which improves on the first by the way).  If you enjoy the Dresden Files, or the Libriomancer Series, you should give the Iron Druid Chronicles a shot.  You won't be disappointed.