Mind out of Time

The Fellowship for Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson; 2013; $16.99; 430 pages; Walden Pond Press, New York, NY; 978-0-06-207185-9; Juvenille, fiction; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Troutdale; 10/1-10/8

Why did I pick this up?  I met former science teacher Kevin Emerson last year at Wordstock and have met up with him several times in the last year.  I have read several other books by him and really liked them.

What is the story?  Haley and Dodger, in different parts of the country, win a fellowship to figure out if there are aliens among us.  13 years old, they have to enlist their families to help them move about the country to follow up the leads.  Haley has used her research skills to find common threads amongst towns that have had a supposed alien event.  Dodger may have a unusual connection to the aliens, and may have previous experience with them.  They come together when several more events occur around the country, and are helped by a mercenary with a faulty memory.

Did I like it?  This was written for people much younger than me and I think they would appreciate it more than me. It took me a while to get into the story and then I was into it, but I didn’t find it really gripping.

Grade-B

What is with the title of the review?  There is a town that is out of time and there is one person in the town whose mind is rejecting the mind control of the aliens.

 

Been behind that door.

Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman; 2013; $21.95; 191 pages; ILR Press, Ithaca, New York, NY; 978-0-8014-5172; 331.76164 J425b; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 8/28-8/30

Why did I pick this up?  Saru Jayaraman is scheduled to be at Wordstock this October.  Also Danny Glover says right on the front of the book, “A Must Read for anyone who eats at restaurants.”, that would be me.

What is the story?  Through the use of many anecdotes and some studies, most of which seemed to have been done on the eastern seaboard, the author points out the inequality between the wages many restaurant workers are paid and the profits the restaurants are making.  She also points out the gender and racial inequality in many restaurants.  Many restaurant workers are abused financially by unscrupulous management, through wage theft, inequitable scheduling and a lack of opportunity.  Did you know there are only 7 states where there is no difference in the minimum wage for tipped and untipped workers, Oregon is one of them.  It made me think about the restaurants that I frequent and the obvious racial divide in many of them.

Did I like it?  It was ok, however I didn’t feel that the examples given came a wide enough background, it was mainly New York, DC, Miami and Chicago, with just a passing mention of Los Angeles.  There was nothing from the interior of the US or the Northwest, except the repeated mentions of Oregon and Washington being among the 7 states where the minimum wage is the same for everyone.  It was an interesting premise but I didn’t feel the angst I should have.

Grade-B, good point, less than stellar presentation.

What is with the title of the review?  I have worked in the kitchen in four different restaurants, three of them were family owned and very small, so it was small group of people who did a little of everything.  The other one was a well known local restaurant whose entire workcrew was white when I worked there.

To paraphrase a Jedi Master “This is not the cover you want”

World Leader Pretend by James Bernard Frost; 2007; $13.95; 325 pages; St Martin’s Griffin, New York, NY; Fiction; 978-0-312-35223-3; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 7/21-7/25

Why did I pick this up?  Because last year I read James Bernard Frost’s book a Very Minor Prophet and then met him at Wordstock and liked it.

What is the story?  This is the story of several gamers and their  lives in the game and in real life.  People are not who they seem to be, in either the game or in real life. The question here is what do you when someone you seem to know through a game needs help in real life.  How much do you tell others about who you are and what is going on in your life.

Did I like it?  Yes, I liked the real life portion of the story, never having played any time of role playing games, I didn’t real understand some of the gaming portion.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  At the right is the cover that the publisher put on the book.  James Bernard Frost disliked it so much that he commissioned someone to make the sticker at the top.  It came black and white and then you color it before you stuck it on your copy.

 

Soundtrack by Randy Newman

Pink Smog, Becoming Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block; 2012; $17.99; 185 pages; Harper Teen, New York, NY; 978-0-06-156598-4; Teen; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Fairview Branch; 7/18-7/19

Why did I pick this up?  The author is scheduled to be at Wordstock , October 5 & 6 at The Oregon Convention Center and I like to read books of authors that are coming.

What is the story?  Louise is a young girl whose parents are splitting up as the story begins.  She encounters some bullying from mean girls at her schools, makes friends with some other outliers, finds strange riddles that lead her to various places around Los Angeles.  She tries to figure out why her parents split and who she is and where she fits in to the various parts of her life.  She becomes a strong young woman who knows where she belongs and has a stronger sense of who she is.

Did I like it?  Yes, it is a mystery, a slice of life and an ode to my favorite city.   The author does a great job of evoking all that is Los Angeles.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  The story is as much about the city of Los Angeles as it is about the main character and I kept thinking of Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.”  as I read the book.

 

let’s hear it for the boy

The Lost Code, Book One of the Atlanteans by Kevin Emerson; 2012; $17.99; 435 pages; Katherine Tegen Books, New York, NY; 978-0-06-206279-6; Purchased from Amazon.com; 1/4/13-1/6/13

Why did I pick this up?  I read one of Kevins’ other books, because he was going to be at Wordstock 2012 and I like reading things by authors that are going to be there.

What is the story?  Owen “wins” a trip to a summer camp inside a dome, because climate change has gotten so bad that most people live in domed cities to protect them from the UV rays and raising waters.  Owen drowns and discovers that he is related to the people of the missing city of Atlantis.  Before he can fulfill his destiny as the newest Atlantean he has to deal with the many issues of summer camp, being an outsider, being bullied, deciding which side to be on, hormones raging and being young and naive.  An exciting look at a dystopian future, but with a hero that many of us can relate to.  Owen must deal with shifting allegiances, being the (perhaps) savior of humanity and earth, all the while learning lessons about himself, others and life as he goes on.  I am looking forward to seeing how the relationships develop between Owen, Lily and Carey.

Did I like it?  Most definitely, for several reasons, the main character is male, in so many YA titles of dystopian futures, (Hunger Games, Reached, etc)  the main character is female.  It is nice to see a strong male character taking the lead.  Also although this is set in the future there are many elements that are relatable, from family and friends to the whole summer camp agenda.  And the story is exciting which makes all the rest even more enjoyable.  I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  Besides being the title of a great song from the movie Footloose, a young man is the main character which seems to unusual in todays’ young adult novel.