5 Worlds: The Red Maze

by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeler, and Boya Sun
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Others in the series: The Sand Warrior, The Cobalt Prince
Content: There is some fantasy violence. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section at the bookstore.

Oona failed to light the blue beacon, mostly because there’s an order they need to be lit, and red comes before blue. So, it’s off to Moon Yatta, where the red beacon has been harness to power the world. It’s the most technologically advanced of the five worlds, but harnessing the power of the beacon is also draining the world faster. Ooona, Jax, and An Tzu need to find their way through the maze of pipes and machines surrounding the beacon in order to light it, but the Nanotex corporation — who basically run Moon Yatta — is against them.

There’s a nice subplot, too, about the shapeshifters who have been collared so they can’t shapeshift or else they’re banished to the desert to live in isolation and Jax’s role as a starball superstar comes into play as well. The authors are dealing with a lot here: capitalism, and the hero worship of celebrities, as well as the prevalence of misinformation through the media. But, mostly, it’s still an engrossing story that kept me entertained and captivated as Oona and her friends figured out the next step in their overall goal to light the five beacons and save the universe.

It’s a smart, fun series, one that readers of Amulet and Zita are sure to love.

Audiobook: Steve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson
Read by Dylan Baker
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Content: Steve Jobs had a foul mouth. You are forewarned. Also, it’s a bit on the business-y side. It’s in the biography section at the bookstore.

I don’t know why, really, I picked this up. I’m not a computer person, or even an Apple fan (though I do own an iPhone). I needed something short to listen to while I drove around delivering things one day, and this kind of jumped out at me.

It’s a basic biography of Steve Jobs, the founder and eventual CEO of Apple computers and CEO of Pixar. Isaacson, a reporter, was picked by Jobs before his death in 2011 to write this book, and given access to all sorts of information that Jobs, who was someone who valued complete control, usually didn’t divulge.

I did learn a lot of things about Jobs, computers, the 1970s, business and the intersection between all of them. First and foremost: Jobs wasn’t a nice person. Which got me to wondering: are all people at a high level of business — either CEOs or just high up in the business — generally work-obsessed jerks? If so, what does that say about us as a country, that in order to be “successful” and proclaimed “innovative” and “a genius” we have to treat other people like crap?

The other thing I learned about Jobs was that he was just an Idea Man. He worked, sure, but it was managing and thinking outside the box and demanding things of others, but he never really created anything himself. I don’t know if I had any respect for him to lose, but knowing that he just thought up the ideas rather than actually implementing them changed my perception of him.

Did I like the book? Not really. It was kind of long and a little boring. Part of that may have been the narrator, who wasn’t the most engaging. But part of that was Isaacson’s writing: it was meandering and a bit pandering. Not something (or someone) I would want to read again.

From Scratch

Inside the Food Network
by Allen Salkin
First sentence: “Before there was a Food Network, there was no Food Network, or even a world in which it was obvious that there ought to be a Food Network.”
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Content: It’s a non-fiction book, so there’s that. And people don’t always talk nicely, and Salkin didn’t do anything to prettify it, so there’s a lot of swearing, including f-bombs. It’s in our film/TV section of the bookstore.

I picked this up because I have watched Food Network in the past (back when I lived in Mississippi and Arkansas) and I was, well, curious to see what Salkin had to say about the behind the scenes goings-on at the network.

The thing is: this wasn’t. Not really. It was a little bit: there were stories of how Alton Brown and Rachel Ray and Paula Deen and Emeril and Bobby Flay all got their shows, but it was more the story of the network as a whole.

Which means there was an awful lot about the whole business of the network. Getting it started, ad revenue, selling it, CEO changes, programming…. all of which is behind the scenes and dishy, but none of which I was interested in.

So, in truth, I actually ended up skimming this one, looking for the “good” bits (read: the stuff I was actually interested in), and then just kind of petering out near the end. I guess I wanted more gossip. (I suppose that say something about me.)  It wasn’t a badly written book, and I think someone who is interested in the business of television, or is interested in the Food Network and doesn’t mind the business of television would actually really like this one.

That someone just wasn’t me.