Greg Reads…Lily and the Octopus: Calling All Dog Lovers!

This is a tough one — how do I, in good conscience, recommend this novel, Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley, which is about a dog with brain cancer? Especially considering that the dog is a dachshund. Especially considering my wife and I have two dachshunds. But I do — I recommend it wholeheartedly. Because as sad as it can be, it’s also charming, and funny, and often surprisingly profound. It’s a just good read that spans the emotional spectrum — and after all, that’s what you want from fiction, isn’t it? To feel? I do, for sure.

Okay, so technically, telling you the dog has cancer is a bit of a spoiler — Lily is the dog, and the octopus is a metaphor for a brain tumor. But if you decide to read this, you learn this fact pretty quickly, and in my opinion, you deserve to know this going in. As well, if you’ve read anything about this book before diving in, you’ll figure it out. And I’m sure glad I knew going in. The other piece of info worth knowing: This isn’t complete fictional, which actually adds another layer of emotional depth to this story. The author Rowley also had a dachshund which also had brain cancer, and so this novel is part memoir, part catharsis.

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Vivian's View: The Stranger Game By Cylin Busby

Welcome back to Vivian's View! Once a month, avid reader and local 7th grader, Vivian, Reviews a book that she read that month. Stay tuned to see what she chooses as her favs and which ones don't make the cut!

Nico Walker has never been very close to her older sister Sarah, since Sarah has never been very nice to her. So, when Sarah disappears, Nico finds it hard to be devastated. Sure, she is sad but not devastated like her parents and Sarah’s friends. One day, 4 years after she went missing, Sarah is found. Everyone is really excited, except for Nico. She is scared of what Sarah will do to her. But, Sarah is not at all how Nico remembered her. Where the old Sarah was mean and hurtful to Nico, the new Sarah is now loving and kind.
 
Everyone is so happy that Sarah is home, but Nico can't shake the feeling that Sarah is different, too different. On top of that, someone keeps telling Nico that they know the true story of what actually happened to Sarah on the day she went missing.
 

Greg Reads... Dexter Palmer's VERSION CONTROL

Every year, there’s at least one novel that catches me unawares for how much I love, and for which I wind up being an un-shut-up-able evangelist. This year, that novel is Dexter Palmer’s fantastic, fiercely smart, mind-bendingly fun novel, Version Control.

This 500-page story is brimming with ideas — about technology, authenticity, race, loyalty, causality, history, science, Big Data, and yes, even time travel. It’s fascinating and fun and heartbreaking and hilarious and all of the other things that make great fiction great.

So the deal is this: Rebecca and Phillip are a mostly average middle class, middle-aged couple. She works for an online dating service, spending her days trying to upsell poor dateless saps to the Platinum level. He’s a physicist who has spent the last decade or so working on what he calls a “causality violation device.” Yes, what this really is is a time machine, but you won’t confuse this thing with any time machine in, say, H.G. Wells or even Stephen King — the only goal here, with the physics to back it up, is to send a robot back to a pre-established Point Zero, have it stay there for an hour, and return with evidence (a clock that’s an hour off) that it’s worked. Sadly, it doesn’t work, and Phillip’s once-promising career is flagging.

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