@abook4you

The @abook4you website is linked to the @abook4you Twitter bot. The website crossposts to Facebook, Google+Tumblr, and Instagram. You can see a full description of the bot on the About page.

The content on all four is mostly generated on a fully-automated basis, focusing on book recommendations, alongside reviews from both critics and readers. Additionally, they all feature a stream of book-related quotes.

The bot is possible due to the explosion in access to public databases through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and scripting. The Twitter bot is able to respond autonomously to unique mentions requesting a book recommendation, as long as a genre is cited. However, the 140-character limitation does not allow for much, so the website vastly expands the amount of information that can be presented.

In addition to more data, the bot functionality has been enhanced to manage content on the website. Apart from posting, storing and indexing, it is now possible to solicit a genre-specific recommendations via a form request, and if the query is successful, a user-generated post will result. Similarly, a search query can be made via a separate form request, with a user-generated post also created if the query is successful. In order to assist with the search query, a Google custom search tool is also available. Lastly, fully functional membership and social tools have been deployed, and there is a forum for members to have their say. In summary, visitors, and members can populate the website with content that they generate.

Developed pro-bono, and for the fun of it, by @replies4u (feel free to see more bot examples at http://www.r4utools.co.uk).

A horror book recommendation: Universal Harvester: A Novel by John Darnielle

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uAVRLe.
Perhaps this book isn’t for everyone. Perhaps it doesn’t always succeed in achieving what it sets out to do. This will no doubt be a polarizing read, but perhaps that’s exactly what Mr. Darnielle put pen to paper to create.
Book description from Google Books:
New York Times Bestseller“Brilliant . . . Darnielle is a master at building suspense, and his writing is propulsive and urgent; it’s nearly impossible to stop reading . . . [Universal Harvester is] beyond worthwhile; it’s a major work by an author who is quickly becoming one of the brightest stars in American fiction.” —Michael Schaub, Los Angeles Times“Grows in menace as the pages stack up . . . [But] more sensitive than one would expect from a more traditional tale of dread.”—Joe Hill, New York Times Book Review“The most unsettling book I’ve read since House of Leaves.” —Adam Morgan, Electric LiteratureLife in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut. So begins Universal Harvester, the haunting and masterfully unsettling new novel from John Darnielle, author of the New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Nominee Wolf in White VanJeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s a small town in the center of the state—the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: it’s a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets—an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store—she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it’s not defective, exactly, but altered: “There’s another movie on this tape.”Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation—the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing— but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town.In Universal Harvester, the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The novel will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.“This chilling literary thriller follows a video store clerk as he deciphers a macabre mystery through clues scattered among the tapes his customers rent. A page-tuning homage to In Cold Blood and The Ring.”—O: The Oprah Magazine“A stellar encore after the success of [Darnielle’s] debut novel, Wolf in White Van . . . Beneath the eerie gauze of this book, I felt an undercurrent of humanity and hope.”—Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Washington Post“[Universal Harvester is] so wonderfully strange, almost Lynchian in its juxtaposition of the banal and the creepy, that my urge to know what the hell was going on caused me to go full throttle . . . [But] Darnielle hides so much beautiful commentary in the book’s quieter moments that you would be remiss not to slow down.”—Abram Scharf, MTV News“Universal Harvester is a novel about noticing hidden things, particularly the hurt and desperation that people bear under their exterior of polite reserve . . . Mr. Darnielle possesses the clairvoyant’s gift for looking beneath the surface.”—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal “[Universal Harvester is] constantly unnerving, wrapped in a depressed dread that haunts every passage. But it all pays off with surprising emotionality.” —Kevin Nguyen, GQ.com“Darnielle writes beautifully . . . He builds a deep sense of foreboding by giving pieces of the puzzle in such a way that you really can’t see the solution until that final piece is in place.” —Salem Macknee, News & Observer
The book is rated 3.28/5 at goodreads.com, from 5658 ratings. See 1117 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uAVK2d.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uT73xP.

A law book recommendation: Civil Wars: A History in Ideas by David Armitage

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2uA8RRj.
The meaning of civil war, as Mr Armitage shows, is as messy and multifaceted as the conflict it describes. His book offers an illuminating guide through the 2,000-year muddle and does a good job of filling a conspicuous void in the literature of conflict.
Book description from Google Books:
A highly original history, tracing the least understood and most intractable form of organized human aggression from Ancient Rome through the centuries to the present day. We think we know civil war when we see it. Yet ideas of what it is, and what it isn’t, have a long and contested history, from its fraught origins in republican Rome to debates in early modern Europe to our present day. Defining the term is acutely political, for ideas about what makes a war “civil” often depend on whether one is a ruler or a rebel, victor or vanquished, sufferer or outsider. Calling a conflict a civil war can shape its outcome by determining whether outside powers choose to get involved or stand aside: from the American Revolution to the war in Iraq, pivotal decisions have depended on such shifts of perspective. The age of civil war in the West may be over, but elsewhere in the last two decades it has exploded–from the Balkans to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and Sri Lanka, and most recently Syria. And the language of civil war has burgeoned as democratic politics has become more violently fought. This book’s unique perspective on the roots and dynamics of civil war, and on its shaping force in our conflict-ridden world, will be essential to the ongoing effort to grapple with this seemingly interminable problem.
The book is rated 3.40/5 at goodreads.com, from 10 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uA8VAx.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uzIU4d.

A literature book recommendation: The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping: A Novel by Aharon Appelfeld

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2uTddOs.
As its title suggests, there is a dazed, dreamlike quality to the prose of this bildungsroman, in which a masterly English translation by Jeffrey M. Green manages to retain the direct, concrete quality of the original Hebrew as well as its austere poetry.
Book description from Google Books:
From the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author (“One of the greatest writers of the age” -The Guardian): a young Holocaust survivor takes his first steps toward creating a new life in the newly established state of Israel. Erwin doesn’t remember much about his journey across Europe when the war finally ended because he spent most of it asleep, carried by other survivors as they emerged from their hiding places or were liberated from the camps and made their way to the shores of Naples, where they filled refugee camps and wondered what was to become of them. As he struggles to stay awake, Erwin becomes part of a group of boys being rigorously trained both physically and mentally by an emissary from Palestine for life in their new home. The fog of sleep slowly begins to lift, and when Erwin and his fellow clandestine immigrants are released by British authorities from the detention camp in Atlit, he and his comrades are assigned to a kibbutz, where they learn how to tend to the land and speak their new language. But a part of Erwin desperately clings to the past-to memories of his parents, to his mother tongue, to the Ukrainian city where he was born-and he knows that despite what he is being told, who he was is just as important as who he is now becoming. When he is wounded in an engagement with snipers, Erwin must spend long months recovering from multiple surgeries and trying to regain the use of his legs. As he exercises his body, he exercises his mind as well, copying passages from the Bible in his newly acquired Hebrew and working up the courage to create his own texts in this language both old and new, hoping to succeed as a writer where his beloved, tormented father had failed. With the support of his friends and of other survivors, and with the encouragement of his mother (who visits him in his dreams), Erwin takes his first tentative steps with his crutches-and with his pen. Once again, Aharon Appelfeld mines heartrending personal experience to create dazzling, masterly fiction with a universal resonance.
The book is rated 3.81/5 at goodreads.com, from 129 ratings. See 24 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uT5iku.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uT0Sdl.

A politics book recommendation: Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers by Joel Whitney

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uIL29W.
Finks is a fascinating and timely book – particularly interesting in light of the ongoing debate over fake news.
Book description from Google Books:
When news broke that the CIA had colluded with literary magazines to produce cultural propaganda throughout the Cold War, a debate began that has never been resolved. The story continues to unfold, with the reputations of some of America’s best-loved literary figures–including Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, and Richard Wright–tarnished as their work for the intelligence agency has come to light. Finks is a tale of two CIAs, and how they blurred the line between propaganda and literature. One CIA created literary magazines that promoted American and European writers and cultural freedom, while the other toppled governments, using assassination and censorship as political tools. Defenders of the “cultural” CIA argue that it should have been lauded for boosting interest in the arts and freedom of thought, but the two CIAs had the same undercover goals, and shared many of the samemethods: deception, subterfuge and intimidation. Finks demonstrates how the good-versus-bad CIA is a false divide, and that the cultural Cold Warriors again and again used anti-Communism as a lever to spy relentlessly on leftists, and indeed writers of all political inclinations, and thereby pushed U.S. democracy a little closer to the Soviet model of the surveillance state.
The book is rated 4.03/5 at goodreads.com, from 37 ratings. See 9 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2v1FUck.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uJhdGe.

A humour book recommendation: The Candidate: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Noah Richler

A critic review (source Globe and Mail) can be read at: https://tgam.ca/2v1kYSM.
It’s to his credit that he presents The Candidate as an instruction manual, a cautionary tale and an honest retelling of campaign realities from a flawed and deeply human candidate.
Book description from Google Books:
A comical and revealing account of what it’s like to run for office with no political experience, little money and only a faint hope of winning, told first-hand by celebrated writer Noah Richler. During the 2015 federal election, approximately 1200 political campaigns were held across Canada. One of those campaigns belonged to author, journalist and political neophyte Noah Richler. Recruited by the NDP to run in the bellwether riding of Toronto-St Paul’s, he was handed $350 and told he would lose. But as veteran NDP activists and social-media-savvy newbies joined his campaign, Richler found himself increasingly insulated from the stark reality that his campaign was flailing, imagining instead that he was headed to Parliament Hill. In The Candidate, Richler recounts his time on the trail in sizzling detail and hilarious frankness, from door knocking in Little Jamaica to being internet-shamed by experienced opponents. The Candidate lays bare what goes on behind the slogans, canvassing and talking points, told from the perspective of a political outsider. With his signature wit and probing eye, Noah Richler’s chronicle of running for office is insightful, brutally honest and devastatingly funny.
The book is rated 3.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 42 ratings. See 10 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uIPc1l.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2v1GzKC.