The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is my first nominee for Book of the Year 2016.
Mr. Bacigalupi’s last few books have been YA. This is his first adult novel since The Windup Girl, which I also highly recommend.
The Water Knife is set in the near future where the southwestern states wage a cold – and sometimes hot – war over water rights. It is a pre-apocalyptic world, and these are the first steps to the end.
The three main characters are a journalist, a refugee and an operative who show us different aspects of the world in this time. As always, I try to avoid spoilers here, so all I will say is that The Water Knife is as much as thriller as it is a warning of what realistically could happen. Great book, highly recommended.
The first book I finished reading in 2016 is Chimera by Mira Grant (pen name of Seanan McGuire). It was the third and final book in the Parasitology trilogy.
The main character is Sal, formerly Sally, who had been in a terrible car accident. A medical tapeworm was implanted to try to save her. Sally was actually gone, and the person known as Sal was the tapeworm driving the body. This is actually a minor spoiler from the first book. As the series continues, the tapeworms start to take over more bodies, but unlike the success that is Sal, they are more like The Walking Dead. The series tackles what is a person, as well as different concepts of identity.
I enjoined the series including this final book. If you have not read Mira (or Seanan) I would recommend the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. It is fantastic. I also very highly recommend Imdexing, which she released under Seanan McGuire.
This is a time lapse of my cat Luna in one of her favorite places, my drafting table. It has easy access to the window sill so she can check on the outside. She can also keep an eye on me when I am working at my desk.
I can’t believe that next month will be one year since Luna came to live with me. I am so happy that she did.
Here is a short video I did on making a chocolate chip cheesecake for Thanksgiving. I’ve been making this cheesecake for years, but this one may have been my best ever. I think the key was using the high-sided springform pan.
The recipe is from a Mrs. Fields cookbook. Really good.
For the first time, I am naming an album of the year. I plan to continue with Album of the Year moving forward. As I come across albums I think may be a nominee, I will post about it.
For 2016, my Album of the Year goes to White Noise by PVRIS (pronounced Paris). Led by vocalist Lynn Gunn, PVRIS is like an edgier Paramore (another favorite). Lynn has said that seeing Paramore open for Jimmy Eats World inspired her to join a band.
White Noise is an album I often listened to on a loop. My favorite song is My House, which PVRIS played on Jimmy Kimmel this week. It was their network television debut and they killed it.
Though I joined Snapchat back in February of 2015, I haven’t used it much and wasn’t sure if I would. However, that all changed over New Years weekend.
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk was on vacation in Florida. He tweeted and Instagrammed that Snapchat was the app to get on in 2016. He also said he would be answering questions on Snapchat.
I am a huge fan of Gary’s and his advice on all things social media, so I started following him on Snapchat and watched his Snapchat Stories. He gave a lot of great tips (be sure to checkout The Ask GaryVee Show on YouTube if have any interest in marketing on social, or social media in general. Always an interesting, informed take.).
Because of Gary, Snapchat started to click for me. I jumped onto YouTube and looked at recent How to Snapchat videos. Two videos really stood out:
Sunny Lenarduzzi’s tutorial is a very good intro in how to use Snapchat.
I started to see the potential of Snapchat me when Gary gave a shout out to his trainer Mike Vacanti’s Snapchat.
Mike snapped that if anyone had a question to reply to him. I replied with a video question asking about getting back into running (which I really need to do). Mike replied a short time later, suggesting an app (Couch to 5K) that he thought would be helpful. Mike is a professional trainer and I never would have had access to ask him a question without Snapchat. Snapchat is a unique way to connect, and I think it is just scratching the surface.
As is my New Year tradition, today I select which book I read in the past year as my Book of the Year. This is a book that I read for the first time in that year, though the book did not need to be published in that year. Though the number of books I read this year was down from last year, it was still stellar.
I just finished reading Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. Like many of his books, it is big, almost 900 pages. Though long, it moves fast. The story begins with the destruction of the moon. It is soon realized that the debris from the moon will begin to slam into the earth, destroying everything on the surface. With less than two years to survive, the human race does everything it can to try and establish a way to survive in space. It will be thousands of years before anyone will be able to return to the surface.
Interesting characters, great action sequences, science that seems to be based on reality, Seveneves is definitely a nominee for my Book of the Year. Highly recommended.
Earlier this month I went for my yearly eye exam. My regular prescription really hadn’t changed since last year so my current distance glasses were fine. I mentioned to my doctor that I was thinking of getting a pair of prescription Gunnars for gaming. My doctor doesn’t offer Gunnars, but he did mention that he could make a prescription set of glasses for working on the computer. I said do it.
Using my regular distance prescription as a baseline, my doctor was able to calculate a prescription for looking at my computer screen. He also applied a process to the glasses that would reflect the blue light from the computer screen, one of the major causes of computer-related eyestrain.
I picked up the new glasses about a week ago and I love them. Since the prescription is set specifically for the looking at the computer screen, everything on the screen is much sharper than with my non-prescription Gunnars. Also, with the reflecting of the blue light, I am still not experiencing any eyestrain.
If you wear prescription glasses and stare at a computer screen many hours a day for work or fun I would definitely recommend asking your eye doctor about a set of glasses like mine.
Even with the new glasses, I am keeping my Gunnars as a backup. I also still plan to get a pair of prescription (distance) Gunnars for console gaming.
Over the weekend I read Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett (no relation to the Neill Blomkamp movie). It was fantastic and definitely a Book of the Year Nominee.
I read a review of it in this month’s Locus Magazine and it sounded interesting. First of all, the characters seemed to shift names and genders. For example, within one chapter Antoine may become Antoinette all of a sudden, then back again. Sometimes when a writer tries this it comes off as a gimmick at best, very annoying at worse. However, in the hands of Ms. Brissett it is something very cool and relevant to the story.
I try to avoid spoilers when talking about books, but I will give an overview. The book follows characters – perhaps sets of characters – as the earth lurches then tumbles into a post-apocalyptic disaster. Is it war, a bio weapon? Is it nature? Is it aliens? Not going to say, but the resolution is pretty perfect.
Elysium is only about two hundred pages, so while it is a fast read, it feels like you’ve experienced a lot with these characters in this world. Available on Kindle and in paperback, I highly recommend it.