Book Review: “The Sight” by David Clement-Davies

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Have you ever picked up a book about wolves with powers and then realized that it’s really a thinly-veiled hot take on creation myths, religion, faith, and humanism? That’s what happened when I dived into The Sight, a novel I’ve been waiting to read for a long time and finally got my hands on recently. I read it in two days because I just couldn’t put it down.

Mild spoilers ahead.

 

What The Sight gets right: I loved The Sight pretty much right away. I mean, the book opens with a haunting description of a Carpathian castle; to a vampire fan like me, this is easy bait. But it’s so much more than the fascinating wilderness setting. The wolves in The Sight have their own gods and stories and, in fact, everything in nature is connected and respected (even their prey). Yet, just like with humans, not every wolf has the same beliefs, and these ideas clash as different packs are formed.

The main focus of the novel is the power of the Sight, which is essentially increased intelligence, the ability to see through another’s eyes, and the ability to see visions and recall memories (which is something most animals can’t do very well). Some wolves are afraid of the Sight, while others want to embrace its power for good or evil. Eventually, a terrifying prophecy comes into fruition as the wolf Larka struggles to protect a stolen human child and learn the ways of the Sight.

What The Sight does wrong: The Sight doesn’t have the friendliest view of religion, as some wolves come to realize that the stories they have believed in are just that, stories. The main antagonist, Morgra, uses some of the stories to make her followers obey her, using their fear to control them.

However, I think The Sight ultimately takes the view that having faith in something can be good and helpful as long as it doesn’t blind you to “the truth,” which is what the book’s protagonist, Larka, values the most. This is definitely a philosophical book that will make you think; for example, the wolves have their own version of Jesus Christ (a sacrificial wolf named Sita). At the same time, if you’re a believer, it can be disappointing that the wolves seem to reject their religion toward the end- but this is a work of fiction, after all.

Who should read The Sight: Lovers of philosophy, creation myths, Romanian history, fantasy, and wolves.

Who shouldn’t read The Sight: There are some reviews on Goodreads that call this book boring and sad? I don’t personally agree with that judgment, but I suppose some readers might get bogged down in all of the legends and folk tales that the wolves tell each other. And The Sight definitely has sad moments, but many of them are foreshadowed, and an older reader won’t be caught off guard by them.

 

The Sight isn’t currently available at the library, but you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.

How To Find New Movies At The Library

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We love unpacking new movies here at the library! There are two lists online that can show you which movies we’ve just gotten.

 

The New Items List

We keep an updated list of new movies and books on the library website. You can find the link to this list under our Quick Links section of the homepage; or you can just click here to see it!

 

The Recently Added Items List

To see the last 50 movies that have been added to the library’s collection, you can use the Recently Added Items list. Go to the library website and click the “Find Materials” link to the top left of the homepage. From the drop-down menu, select “Movies & More.” From there, you can see the most recent movies that we have gotten; or again, you can click here to go straight to the list.

 

All of our DVDs are located on the west side of the second floor. You can also stream movies digitally through Films On Demand, a database we subscribe to.

 

 

Featured Author: Jane Austen

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Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Austen grew up close to her family. She attended a boarding school for a time until a bad bout of typhus and financial restraints sent her back home. As a teenager, Austen began writing stories in bound notebooks.

In her adulthood, Austen helped run the family home, attended cotillions, and continued writing. She published such famous novels as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility under the pseudonym “A Lady.” Today, however, the name “Jane Austen” is known and beloved worldwide.

Though Austen died in 1817, her books continue to delight readers of all ages. Listed below are just a few of her books that are available here at the library:

 

 

 

 

 

College Student Christmas Gift Guide

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When it comes to Christmas gifts, finding a quality, unique gift can be a bit daunting, even if you’re shopping for the people you know best. That’s why we have compiled a list of 5 top-notch gifts to get any college student in your life.

  • Blobfish Plush: for the Stuffed Animal Enthusiast

Despite what some people may say, no one ever truly grows out of enjoying a good stuffed animal. Bonus points if the animal in question is a very quirky deep-sea fish. This stuffed blobfish is the perfect companion in a college student’s dorm whether they be a zoology major or simply a plushy enthusiast. With rave reviews, this less-than-perky pink pal is a fantastic addition to your Christmas repertoire.

 

 

  • Scratch-Off Map: for the Globetrotter

As a fan of travel myself, I can say with utmost certainty that you know someone with a serious case of wanderlust. For those of us with the need to scratch the travel itch, this scratch-off world map is a must-have. Not only is it stylishly designed, but it also serves as a wonderful personalized reminder of the places we’ve been. For those of us with cross-country ambitions in mind, there is a state scratch-off version too. Will Christmas wonders never cease?

 

 

  • 40cean Jellyfish Bracelet: for your Eco-Friendly Friend

With plastic pollution at an all-time high, it can be incredibly disheartening to think of how little we can do to help our planet, but there is a way to spread a little green Christmas cheer. The 40cean Jellyfish bracelet (as well as their other products) are sold to fund efforts to clean up our oceans. For every one of these adjustable, stylish, 100% recycled material composed bracelets purchased, 40cean removes one pound of plastic waste from the oceans and protects our marine life. Save the turtles (and time with your Christmas shopping too) and give this gift to a green guy or gal.

 

 

  • R2-D2 Sweater: for your Cozy Nerd

Sweaters are a timeless classic in the winter gift-giving season, but don’t just settle on your average sale rack staple this year. With the new Star Wars movie just around the corner, give your droid-loving friend this cozy R2-D2 sweater (provided by every nerds’ trusted resource, ThinkGeek) so the Force will be with them even when the warm weather isn’t.

 

 

  • Fujifilm Instax Mini Camera: for your Trendy Shutterbug

As polaroid style cameras become more popular, it’d be a shame not to include this wonderful little camera into the selection. The Fujifilm Instax Mini is a small, portable, and easy-to-use camera that is not only all of those things, but is also quite stylish. Coming in several adorable pastel colors, this camera is easy to use with several exposure settings and a sensor indicating which one is best for the lighting of any particular situation. It comes with an attachable close-up lens and easily fits into any backpack or tote. As someone who owns one of these cameras, I can only offer it glowing recommendations. Some of my favorite photos from my trips came from this camera, and the small film is very scrapbook-friendly and comes in a variety of styles. (I’m quite partial to this Gudetama one.) This camera is the perfect addition to any amateur photographer’s collection.

Book Review: “Machines Like Me” by Ian McEwan

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I read Atonement a few months ago (you can read the review here) and fell in love with how Ian McEwan writes. So when his new book about an AI man came out this year, I had to get my hands on it. Machines Like Me is about an impulsive man, Charlie, who buys an AI named Adam. Their interactions grow increasingly strange and morally compromising as they navigate dilemmas with their mutual love interest, Miranda. The setting is an alternative 1980s England.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Machines Like Me gets right:  I loved reading about the philosophy and morality behind AI versus humans, and Adam was fascinating to me from the beginning. It was hard for me not to read ahead to see what he would do next. I mean, he figures out how to make haikus! And his version of morals- well, let’s just say it doesn’t mesh well with his human companions.

There was a weird tone throughout the book- one of both curiosity and dread- that kept me interested even through some of the less exciting scenes. Everyone who Adam comes into contact with is a test- what will he say to them? Will they recognize him as an AI? And why did Charlie buy him in the first place? Machines Like Me will keep you guessing until the end. And the ending, while a little unexpected, is mostly satisfying.

What Machines Like Me does wrong: As usual, Ian McEwan’s writing is superb, and I was hooked on the premise from the beginning. However, I couldn’t help but think there was a lot of unrecognized potential. AI is such a controversial topic, but McEwan’s story sizes it down to make it seem almost pedestrian. I thought Adam could be a true villain, but I think his potential was ultimately unrealized.

Charlie and Miranda were both boring/frustrating people, so they were hard to read about at times (especially because Charlie narrates the story). Charlie makes the weirdest, most random decisions, which is entertaining but so annoying. It’s like he doesn’t think about any consequences, ever- which is dangerous to do when dealing with AI.

Who should read Machines Like Me: Readers who are interested in AI, science fiction, and history. The alternative 1980s setting would be especially fun to read about for fans of Alan Turing.

Who shouldn’t read Machines Like Me: Readers who don’t care for science fiction or don’t know much about the history of AI. This book will be a little confusing if you are not familiar with certain historical events.

 

Machines Like Me is not currently available at the library, but you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.

Content note: brief suggestive scenes, brief language. There is also a subplot that involves a terrible crime.

Top 5 Christmas Movies At The Library

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When you’re ready to get into the Christmas spirit, there’s nothing like getting cozy on the couch and watching a holiday movie. Here at the library, we have a few Christmas favorites in our DVD collection. Feel free to check one out this December!

 

White Christmas

A Christmas classic, White Christmas tells the story of four entertainers, a Vermont inn, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romance. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney star in this charming musical.

 

Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Many of us grew up watching the original, animated Grinch. Give this timeless tale of redemption another watch this year.

 

It’s A Wonderful Life

This is my mom’s favorite movie of all time, and for good reason. George Bailey is the Everyman who just can’t get ahead and feels his life is worthless; but soon enough, with the help of a quirky angel, he learns that he has all he truly needs.

 

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Remember the true meaning of Christmas with the Peanuts gang in this cute, funny animated feature. Bonus: you can enjoy the beautiful music of Vince Guaraldi.

 

The Nativity Story

Another movie that reminds us of why we celebrate Christmas, The Nativity Story follows Mary and Joseph as they travel to Bethlehem and prepare to welcome the Savior into the world.

 

Click on the links to see where each movie is located, or ask for help finding them at our Circulation Desk. Merry Christmas!

 

2019 In Review

Amount Of Blog Views In 2019: 4,306

The following posts had the most views and interactions of 2019:

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019:

  1. How To Print In The Library With Paw Print
  2. Book Review: “To Shake the Sleeping Self” by Jedidiah Jenkins
  3. Library FAQs
  4. 5 Tips For Surviving Severe Weather
  5. Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Cinderella Man”
  6. Matthew’s Monday Movie: “King Kong”
  7. Matthew’s Monday Movie: “The Last Samurai”
  8. How To Print In The Library (For UU Students and Faculty)
  9. Top 5 Underrated Library Perks
  10. Top 5 Social Work Journals

 

Top 10 Book Reviews of 2019:

  1. To Shake the Sleeping Self
  2. Fangirl
  3. The Testaments
  4. Shoji Hamada: A Potter’s Way and Work
  5. Brief Answers To the Big Questions
  6. Norwegian Wood
  7. Serious Moonlight
  8. Gone Girl
  9. Ender’s Game
  10. Looking For Alaska

 

Top 10 Monday Movies of 2019:

  1. Cinderella Man
  2. King Kong
  3. The Last Samurai
  4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  6. I, Tonya
  7. Sully
  8. The Princess Bride
  9. Mean Girls
  10. The 13th Warrior

 

Blog Editor-In-Chief:

Olivia Chin

 

Blog Editor:

Amber Kelley

 

Featured Writers:

Matthew Beyer

Olivia Chin

Ruth Duncan

Callie Hauss

Brennan Kress

Donny Turner

Grant Wise

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Zootopia”

Disney has long used animals to entertain us, but they also insert a subtle message or morals into their stories. Most of the time, it’s a simple message of being brave or learning that you have inner value and that your dreams can come true. Occasionally, the story can take on a deeper meaning that both children and adults can relate to and value. Zootopia is one of those films.

It is the story of a world where anthropomorphic animals evolved over time to where predators and prey now live in peace and harmony with each other. The animals in this world have jobs, just like regular people, but they’re more catered to their habitat and size. The animals in this world usually stick to their natural inclinations or temperaments most associated with the various species. This is not always the case, however, as we meet our protagonist: a rabbit by the name of Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin. Judy dreams of leaving her small town and becoming a cop and serving her fellow animals in the bustling metropolis of Zootopia. She is consistently regarded as inferior due to her size and species. Most police in this world are physically larger and brutish animals like lions, bears, and wolves. Judy, however, wishes to make her mark and earn the respect of her fellow officers.

Judy soon stumbles upon a sly fox named Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman. Nick is a professional con artist who has become disillusioned with his original hopes and dreams and has let himself become exactly what other animals always accused his nature of being. The two become unlikely partners and eventually friends due to a mysterious plot involving disappearing predatory animals and a more insidious agenda that could lead to chaos in Zootopia unless they can stop it.

This film tackles issues involving prejudice, bullying, and bigotry. It handles these issues in a very easy to understand way, becoming even tongue-in-cheek at times.  The lesson is simple and well-timed given our current social climate; Zootopia teaches that you should never prejudge someone based on their immutable characteristics, let alone an entire group.

Zootopia was extremely well received among audiences. It grossed over one billion dollars worldwide, making it one of the highest grossing animated films of all time. It also went on to receive an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Zootopia is a witty, PG-rated film for the whole family, and it is available at the Union University Library.