Monday, January 16, 2017

The Bar Code Tattoo and LFB Reviews

One of the nasty (or beneficial, depending how you look at it) things about following my military husband from place to place in what seems like a never-ending sequence of moves is that sometimes it takes a while to re-employ myself. Being a physiotherapist by trade, usually this is just a matter of filling out the paperwork for the local licensing board, putting my name out to a few places looking for PTs, and voila! I have a job. Often it's faster than I'd like it be, sometimes it's not. Being a Canadian in a different country, I need a little more than proof of my degree and experience. I need THE CARD. This card is not easy coming. In fact, it's been a bit of a challenge.

So, to make a long story short, five months into our new living arrangements, I remain unemployed.

Don't take this as I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I'm not. I'm writing. I'm social-mediaing. I'm still spending several hours a week on Canadian volunteer positions I haven't given up. The social obligations of being married to my husband are not to be taken lightly. I drive a mean SUV in the high school kiss and go lanes, and am an avid supporter of extra-curriculars. I am the opposite of a twiddler.

But still, I need something to focus my days and the extra funds in our bank account do not hurt. So I wait.

In my quest to fill my days with unpaid meaningful things while awaiting the chance at doing paid meaningful things, I sort of fell into a volunteer position. I was dropping off books at the local library's donation box (by necessity, not by desire--there was literally no room on any of our bookshelves), and the lovely woman who was in charge of the Library Friends said they were looking for volunteers and gave me their info.

Books, organization, self-determined hours? What's not to love about that? My junior high school-day friends will remember the wonders of being a library helper (oh, the power of charging a late fee! Getting first dibs at new books! And first looks at the Scholastic book fair!) and my librarian friends (I have a surprising amount of friends with Library Science degrees) will appreciate the joy of putting a book on a shelf exactly where it belongs--well, in my current situation, where I THINK it belongs. Library Friends Bookshop is only slightly picky about things like alphabetization.

So starting two weeks ago, I walked into a room full of crazily disorganized donated books and began my journey as a Library Friend Bookshop (LFB) volunteer.

Now I will preface what I hope will be many blog posts by saying that I had no idea, when I signed up, that one of the perks was an honour system of hours worked = books. I just thought the act of organizing and selling donated books would provide me with a different view of the book world, introduce me to other bibliophiles, and perhaps expose me to books I had never noticed before, later to be signed out or purchased (very cheaply) for my personal reading pleasure. Imagine, doing something you enjoy, and getting 'paid' in something else you enjoy?

There are just SO. MANY. BOOKS. What is a girl to do, but read them? So I've vowed to bring home a few a week (and likely return them, as there is still no room on my bookshelves) and challenge myself to read differently. To read books I wouldn't normally pick up. To expand my brain, while waiting for meaningful employment.

I figure the least I can do is tell you my thoughts about them.

And so...thus begins the LFB Reviews*.

Week 1
The Bar Code Tattoo 
YA Dystopian
by Suzanne Weyn

It's no secret that the world is a wee bit shaken up right now. 2016 was a year of bizarreness. And this week is, without a doubt, going to go down in history. How that history will play out has been wildly speculated, and I am not the one to discuss the pros and cons of any side. But the last few months have felt mildly dystopian. And with one of my yet-unsold finished manuscripts dealing with similar world-gone-crazy scenarios, this book jumped out at me on the shelf as I was trying to cram two Harry Potter books and a Maze Runner book in beside it. I've seen it before, and was curious...but not curious enough to buy it. Yet there it was, in the pile of crazy mixed up MG and YA. Not hugely out of my comfort zone, but not something I would normally have purchased. And then, SURPRISE!, it jumped into my pile and came home with me.

I wish I could say I loved this book. I really do. I wanted to love this book, I wanted it to be the first of a love affair with Library Friends Bookshop literature. The premise is so real right now--adults (over 17) being forced to be tattooed and DNA typed and having their entire lives dictated by said tattoo and the company which administered it. It could happen. It's a strong storyline.

But the book got mired in relationships and when the main character, Kayla, started having visions and speaking telepathically with a mystical leader of the Resistance. At that point, I found it increasingly hard to follow. And it seemed less and less realistic. There were some deep questions--Should our genetics dictate our employment, our livelihood, our existence? And some scary possibilities, including that of a society which 'euthanizes' its elderly. Frightening and thought provoking. But the writing did not highlight those issues, and sadly I had to fight to finish the book.

On a scale of Total Keeper (10) to Back to the LFB Post-Haste (1)?

I give it a 4/10. I'll take this one back for someone else to enjoy.

Enjoy the week, folks. From where I sit, it's bound to be a doozy.


*Please note,  the views on this blog are my own, and do not, in any way, indicate opinions of the Library Friends, the Canadian Forces or anyone. They are mine. Also note, I tend to be perfectly awful at regular blogging. You probably know this already, but I warn you in advance that there will likely be weeks I miss. Maybe months I miss. So I apologize in advance.

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