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Showing posts from August, 2013

[Book Review] Assassins in Love

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Assassins in Love (Assassins Guild #1) / Kris DeLake (Powell's Books)

When one killer falls for another

Agent: Misha
Profile: Highly trained in every method the assassins guild has to offer. Always goes by the book.

Agent: Rikki
Profile: Rogue assassin who kills only to rid the world of hardened criminals. Hates organizations. Always does it her way.

Love becomes a matter of life and death

Misha's mission is to get Rikki to join the guild or give up her guns. He completely underestimated the effect she would have on him...and what heat and chaos they could bring to each other... Sometimes I read well written smutty novels, sometimes I read serious literature, sometimes I read hard science fiction, and sometimes I read fluff.  This novel was fluff, and not even real well written fluff.  It at least doesn't have people in physically impossible poses on the cover (even if the appearances don't match the character descriptions).  We have some plot that exists between marathon …

Sometimes the little things are quite big

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So back at Book Expo America I met a whole bunch of awesome authors, including Chuck Palahniuk, who I've described as "possibly one of the coolest authors I have ever met" and then completely failed to explain why.

Well, several months later I can finally talk about one of the reasons he is so damn awesome.

My cousin (not actually my cousin, but close enough) Scott is a huge Palahniuk fan.  This man's books triggered reading as a fun activity for him, which alone is enough to make me happy.  What can I say?  I cannot image not enjoying reading.  So when I found out that Palahniuk would be hanging out at the Kobo booth doing an interview via questions submitted on Twitter I had to track him down to say hi.  On hearing that I knew someone whom his books impacted he paused me, dug around in his bag, and gave me a SASE with a greeting card inside.

See, Mr. Palahniuk has this game.  My part in it has finally finished and as it has been written about in published interview…

Not exactly a series of tubes

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I spent a good chunk of this past Sunday crawling under grubby desks while my library was closed.  But it was for a good cause - how else to actually trace out all our network lines and clean up this mess:


For various reasons, technology at my library has a bit of a haphazard history.  To start things off I am the sum of the technology budget (which is a whole different issue) and the library itself consists of a historic house with two 'modern' additions, none of which were built with any sort of Internet access in mind.  My predecessor did a lot for the technology set up in my library, but computers made up only a small area of her many responsibilities.  The wiring was not all run by the same person, or even all by people who really knew what they were doing, and it shows.  Some of the mess is stuff we are not supposed to touch (such as the yellow cables in the above photo, and the equipment they connect to).  The list of factors goes on.

We are looking at some major reorga…

Link Smorgasbord, August 19 - 25

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LibraryThing is Hiring: Bookish and Social Media Savvy?
:D

What do you think about E-Cigarettes in libraries?
This is spurred by an active discussion right now on the MA library listserve.  No definitive answer has come either way, but largely libraries are leaning towards "not allowed."

New Infographic: Good News in Fair Use for Libraries 

Selling the value of literacy
I love the focus on the idea of selling the value of literacy, of learning from the students in order to best help them love learning.

Censorship doesn't just stifle speech - it can spread disease
About some real world health risks that can (and do) arise due to information lock-down.

Newest YouTube user to fight a takedown is copyright guru Lawrence Lessig
Well, this could be worth following.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Wrap Up

Recap:Fantasy & Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World

This was a decent class with some amazing fellow students and on subject matter interesting that I find interesting.  It also had distinct downsides.

Taking this class also requires a significant time commitment, and even as a quick reader I experienced difficulties staying on top of the assignments, often choosing to not complete all of the readings when presented with several books in a week.  The course description says 8-12 hours of work per week - a week that includes likely 2 hours of lecture video, reading several hundred pages, writing a short essay, and evaluating other student's essays.  Completing the coursework would have been distinctly easier had I not also enrolled in a second MOOC, and if I was willing to read only the assigned coursework for 10 weeks.

I found the format choice a bit odd.  Each unit began on a Thursday with a 2-3 minute "before you read" segment that sometimes gave a li…

Little Brother & Security Theater

For the final essay of Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, we read Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

This essay earned me my worst grade in the whole class.

I wish that my peer reviewers all gave some feedback on this essay, though I appreciate the three that made an effort.  I do admit that I failed to stick to the guidelines for sticking to purely literary matters.  I also needed a larger Works Cited submission box, I went past the word limit and could not include more citations (including the book itself).

Little Brother resonates with me.  I strongly believe in the message that Doctorow projects through his novel, and do not mind that his message is about as subtle as a brick wall.  This all is pretty evident in my essay.
Little Brother is about the dangers complete trust in security measures.  Benjamin Franklin wrote "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety (1)," and…

Link Smorgasbord, August 12 - 18

Hamlet is Banned
It should be no surprise that I'm against filtering, and this is a rather hysterical (if incredibly frustrating for the author) instance of filtering gone wrong.

A Rational Framework for Library eBook Licensing
Interesting read.

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'
Does anyone else miss the days when NSA was known mostly as the boogie man of a Dan Brown novel?  It's good to know, but damn it is depressing.

Cory Doctorow: privacy, oversharing and government surveillance
On privacy, over-sharing, and concerns about surveillance.

Are Hackers the Next Bogeyman Used to Scare Americans Into Giving Up More Rights?
Aren't they already being used as the bogeyman?  This is a great time to reread Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

Fortunately, the book... (Explained)
Gaiman's Fortunately, the milk is delightful both in writing and illustration, and I was fortunate enough to acquire a signed ARC at Book Expo America this …

NF Display August 2013

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I'm on a bit of an outdoors kick it seems lately, or it could be the friends who are inspiring my displays are just really outdoorsy and active.  Either way, this display is for Seth (aka "Cheddar"), who has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and who hopes to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in a year or two.  While you can't see the image thanks to light reflection, I plundered his photos of his hike to make a sign for this display (added text is "Go Take a Hike... ...and Explore").

The selections this month are a mix: about hiking or experiencing the Appalachian Trail, about hiking and backpacking in general, hiking maps, and about the trail itself.  Some of these books come very highly recommended, in particular AWOL on the Appalachian Trail.

Books:
Becoming Odyssa : epic adventures on the Appalachian Trail / Jennifer Pharr Davis AWOL on the Appalachian Trail / David MillerA walk in the woods : rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail / Bill BrysonThe…

Link Smorgasbord, August 5 - 11

Union Standoff in Germany
I find the description of Amazon's "American-style business practices--in particular, an antipathy to organized labor--that stand at odds with European norms," quite interesting.  I really don't know much about European labor rights and practices (except they generally have better parental leave), but then I also have issues with Amazon so I've been following the news on the fights with Amazon in Germany for the past few months.

Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post
Holy crap.
Read more:
Bezos and the Post: Industry ReactionsWhy the Washington Post isn't a charity case for Jeff BezosObama task force revives SOPA provision outlawing online streaming
What I believe this is trying to target is the increase in streaming services that continue to offer content after license agreements have expired (or without license agreements).  I have come across several law suits where artists have found that companies are continuing to use their work in …

The Left Hand of Darkness and "otherness"

Ursula K. LeGuin is an author that I admire, even if I found some of her work inaccessible as a teen.  Maybe that was because I started reading her through her Earthsea books, and was expecting the magic of Earthsea(Powells Books) to be present in the The Left Hand of Darkness (Powell's Books).  Regardless, I hung on to my copy of The Left Hand of Darkness for years, and now thanks to a class I had encouragement to read it again.  I'm glad I did.

One thing that I hadn't quite realized was exactly how accomplished she was.  She is responsible for the first use of the term "ansible" as a device for FTL communication, which is now widely used in Science Fiction and as a theoretical device in real life.  The Left Hand of Darkness was the second book ever to win both a Hugo and a Nebula (first was Dune), and it was not her last book to win both awards.  Take a look at her honors and awards.  She also gives a great interview on Wired about her writing, interactions wi…

[Book Review] Diamonds and Toads : a modern fairy tale

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Diamonds and Toads : a modern fairy tale / K. E. Saxon (author website, Powell's Books)
Together, sweet Delilah and wicked Isadora make the perfect woman. But the Perrault family fairy is a troublemaker and imbues diamonds upon one sister and toads upon the other. Now up is down and down is up in a world where no good deed goes unpunished. Leather, blindfolds, and handcuffs purge sweet of all reserve. A few misspoken words of lust gives wicked a whole new meaning.

Once upon a time, there were two sisters, one cursed and one blessed by fairy magic...

Bibbidee-bobbidi-boo, They're naughty. How about you? This week I decided that my reading pile wasn't big enough (yes, I am an idiot) and went looking on NetGalley for titles to review.  Diamonds and Toads is one of the five I acquired because it sounded cute and I'm a sucker for fairy tale adaptations.

I guess 'cute' could still apply to the story.  I do think the description is misleading, as while diamonds do…

[Book Review] Ender's Game

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Ender's Game / Orson Scott Card (Powell's Books)

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear th…

The Martian Chronicles, a distopian dream

Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is a wonderful collection of vignettes.  I also for the life of me could not focus the way I wanted to and produce an essay that I am happy with.  That lack of focus and the strict word limit also meant that when I did write an essay I was unable to address everything I wished to include - and that lack was noticed by Peer #4.  Peer #1 seems very put out that I did not specifically put The Martian Chronicles in the 'works cited' field, even though we were explicitly told that step was unnecessary for the week's assigned reading.  I usually do include it regardless, but for some reason I did not this time.
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is a daydream of humanity's self-destruction regardless of where we call home.

The Mars that Bradbury describes is a fantasy land, a utopia of its own before we arrive.  The Martians are civilized, with unique technology, and an innocent incompatibility with the persistent, single-mind…

Link Smorgasbord, July 29 - August 4

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Got a bunch of these this week.

xkcd - Time
Randall Munroe is a mad genius.  If you do not already read xkcd you should, it is a brilliant comic.  Then on March 25, 2013 he posted this one, "Time."  3000+ images loaded over a four month period.  You can now watch the whole series at an accelerated or controlled rate here and read discussions about the whole comic at the explain xkcd wiki.  As an extra bonus, Randall Munroe talked to Wired about his comic.

Why Core Gamers Hate Free-to-Play
yeah...
Obama Gives Jobs Speech at Amazon Warehouse TL;DR - Obama praises Amazon's "economy boosting" efforts, in this case largely creating thousands of part time and seasonal jobs.  As Amazon is in essence the WalMart of the book world this has greatly upset many industry organizations and business owners.

NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy Books
I scored a 55, most of the books I haven't read were already on my "to read" list.

Image, Public Perceptio…

On book covers, marketing, and gender

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For once I was able to get a bunch of book ordering done the other night.  Collection development is one of my responsibilities, though a responsibility that is shared and that I have limited time for.  In the process of this tonight several books stood out for various reasons (not all good).

So for starters, I came across this gem:


First off, I'd like to say that I'm sourcing that book cover off of The Discovery Channel store.  Yes, I know that The Learning Channel, History, and all of those often aren't these days.  I might also have issues with child beauty pageants, as well as what seems to be a celebration of anti-intellectualism and just general bratty behavior that I've been seeing on television (and other places).  As for "So tap into the beautimous from within and celebrate life with some vijiggle and vijaggle!" those words are a bit too close to "vajazzle" for me to feel comfortable when talking about children.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAV…