Book Review: Spontaneous

A white girl with dark hair casually stands on top of an ice cream truck while blowing a huge bubble of gum. The second 'o' in the title is artistically splattered against the backdrop.

The cover of Spotaneous by Aaron Starmer.

Mara Carlyle’s senior year at Covington High in suburban New Jersey is going on as normally as could be expected, until the day—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to spontaneously combust without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason—Terrorism! Drugs! Homosexuality! Government conspiracy!—while the seniors continue to pop like balloons. (Source: Goodreads)

I only heard about this book because a homework assignment for my reference class had me looking through YALSA’s top teen books of 2017 as I was building a hypothetical reading display for a summer book club for local youths. And, as one can guess, SPONTANEOUS by Aaron Starmer was on a list of said topn teen books. Naturally, once I saw a story about teenagers exploding in class, I knew I 1) had to add it to my hypothetical display and 2) read it myself.

Folks who follow me on Twitter might be surprised that I am reviewing this book, maybe as much as they are surprised by how much my opinion of this book shifted from “it’s okay” to “I am going to possibly cry in a public area because this book has grabbed me by the chest and refuses to let go” — but I can explain.

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A visual map of various names of programming languages.

Think Like A Patron: Building A LibGuide

For my reference class this semester, one of our major projects was to build a library guide and present it to the entire class. For those who don’t know, a library guide is an interactive (to a point) guide that librarians create for their patrons, and each guide focuses on a particular subject or resource type or just something they know a particular sub-group of patrons is already interested in or will become interested in soon.

I have to admit, I didn’t realize crafting library guides were even a part of librarianship until this year, but now I’m noticing more and more libraries creating and putting these guides on their websites. They range from explaining certain library-centered services to telling patrons how they can teach themselves how to cook or knit or build a bike. They’re really an extension of the overall mission of a library: sharing information and helping people.

So there I was, having to build my own library guide, having never personally interacted with one. At least I had the freedom to create a lib guide for anything I wanted – but then what? That is the stumbling block I ran into when crafting my lib guide: what is this for? Who is this for? How will it be used?

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Readers Advisory: Smartphone Wizards In Time & Space

So, I am really really really into the McElroy Brothers, much like a good section of the Internet. And I just love everything they touch (especially their number one product, the podcast/TV series My Brother, My Brother, and Me). So I’ve kind of stumbled into Griffin McElroy’s work for Polygon, including the Cool Games Inc podcast that he co-hosts with Nick Robinson. But, because I can’t consume media right away in its intended primary form, I’ve started by watching animated versions of various CGI segments, including the one below.

And it’s hilarious, and I love Griffin’s adoration for Carly Rae Jepsen (and she really is a stellar artist that deserves more critical love, and here’s “Store” if you’re curious about why Griffin chooses it as The B-Side To Blow Mozart’s Mind With), but can we talk about the initial prompt for a second? Cause it’s time for a readers advisory.

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