Tuesday, December 31, 2013

[Book Review] Book Lovers

Book Lovers : Stories / Shawna Kenney (ed) (Powell's Books)

Book Lovers is perhaps the most literal example of literary erotica I have encountered.  The word and the book really are the thing.

The stories run a gambit of styles and explorations of the erotic.   Sensual, stark, sweet, sorrowful, intimate, lonely, unexpected.  The only connecting thread between these stories are stories themselves.  The books themselves that create the bridge into sexuality.  While labeled erotica the stories do not delve equally into the carnal, some brushing lightly and others embrace it fully.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Link Smorgasbord, December 23 - 29

Six Libraries Exceed a Million Digital Checkouts This Year: OverDrive
One of the things that's been driving me the crazy about not being at a library this time of year is that I'm really useful with all the patrons coming in with their new devices.

How US Internet service might get better—and worse—in 2014
Some predictions based on trends and activities going on.  I'm a bit worried about some of the net neutrality stuff.

As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You
E-Books "reading us" isn't exactly new.  It's one of the (many) issues I have with Kindle.  However it is part of a trend that I'm not a fan of.

British government porn filters block tech sites
*headdesk*

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

[Book Review] The Professional; Part 1

The Professional; Part 1 / Kresley Cole

Our premise is that Natalie is lovely, smart, seriously hardworking, and a bit disdainful of men.  She juggles three part time jobs while working on a  PhD (so not just disdainful of men, no time for them either).  She also has been searching for her biological father, wanting to know more about her birth family.  Then on a night at the bar while entertaining her lady friends by "manlyzing" the patrons she meets a man she doesn't have an almost instant scathing analysis of (though part of this might have something to do with maturity level in what seems to be a college bar).

Sevastyan is a serious bad-ass (and of course, gorgeous), like Vinnie Jones only blindingly gorgeous (sorry Vinnie).  He is sure of himself, not a drunken frat boy, and all around gives off "amazing fuck" vibes.  He is definitely interested in Natalie, but something about it makes him angry.  As we soon find out he is (among other things) her father's right hand man, he has been shadowing her for a month, she is a Russkaya Mafiya 'princess', and to protect her from a dangerous power play is dragged to Russia.  Also, he's a bit into BDSM and has some serious reservations about dominating his boss' daughter.  He also views his boss like a father.  So, it's complicated.

On the surface this book is a somewhat standard "innocent girl falls for serious bad boy," but it has managed to not completely fall victim to the trope.

Lust at First Sight
Happily, its not just lust at first sight.  He was assigned to shadow her for a month (until danger forced him to reveal himself), so he got to know her, even if it was a creepy stalkerish way.  In his credit, he asked to be reassigned early on when he realized he was attracted to her.   On Natalie's part, she seems attracted by a good mystery in addition to his general oozing of dangerous sex.  There is something on a primal level that is attracted to that, probably because it in theory ticks off both "virile" and "protector."  Natalie also has some time to get nice and worked up (and then stalled) before anything happens.

The Sexpert Virgin
I like that while Natalie is a virgin (in part due to a series of unfortunate events) she is not a chaste innocent.  She has some experience and knowledge, so she isn't instantly the best ever in bed for no reason whatsoever.  Thank god.  I hate the magically amazing troupe.

More importantly, she also knows enough to know things she's interested in (or at least curious about).  Fortunately for the plot of the story, this includes some interest in sexual submission.

Point of annoyance: why does super tight vagina always mean she must be a virgin?  We know that Sevastyan has seen her "arsenal" of toys, so the assumption goes that objects larger than a finger have been up inside her.  A penis really isn't necessary for penetration activities.  But really people, the vagina is not a gaping hole, they all have their own default snugness plus surrounding muscles.  /rant

I Can't Have You So I Want You
For about the first two thirds of the book Natalie just wants, later on she learns that there are some long term consequences that she'd have to accept.  However her melting panties seem not to care.

This is mostly an issue for Sevastyan.  I suppose when daddy dearest is both a father figure for you and the man who you will kill for, there are going to be issues.  Particularly when you want to tie his darling daughter up and make her scream for starters.  I also suppose that dominating your mafiya boss' heir is also an awkward situation.  He has reason to be conflicted, but then I hear that penises often don't care what the brain has to say.

Funny thing is, daddy dearest is OK with them as a couple.  As long as they know there won't be the option for casual dating and seeing other people if it doesn't work out.  But if they want to be married he'd be overjoyed and give them his blessing.

Cockinya, Cockinya, Cockinya, In Russian That Means...
Pardon the dirty song lyrics, but they just fit so well.

So this is part one of three, so I expect there will be some traditional penetrative sex in the later parts.  Cole does a pretty decent job of writing some hot sex scenes, even if there's not traditional sex going on.  Yes, the ultimate narrative goal may be mind-blowing sex for Natalie and Sevastyan, but kudos for exploring the field first.

Natalie is "unlike any woman" Sevastyan has had before.  I take this to mean a few potential things:
  • Sevastyan has been with a lot of obedient submissive women
  • Sevastyan has been with a lot of women who weren't submissive at all who either humored him or reacted poorly
  • Sevastyan has managed to not be with a smart-ass submissive before.
Now if Natalie was just into challenging Sevastyan and not sexual submission we'd have a different story.  Actually, reviewing some of the text I'm thinking Sevastyan has been with a lot of women who just weren't into letting themselves be vulnerable at all considering how easily he thinks Natalie will be scared off.  But after they get their jollies off he feels regretful and angsty, challenging "It made you happy, to be used by me?"  Her response is "I orgasamed three times; you did once.  Who's using whom, Siberian?"

Overall The Professional, Part I, made for a fun steamy read.  The ending was also steamy, but that was because they were in a sauna, but Part I ends before they get down and dirty.  Part II better start with some amazing sex, or an amazing reason for an epic cock block.

The only other material I've read by Kresley Cole are her YA titles, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  She built some good tension, made the sex more about Tab A into Slot B, and was funny.  A solid smutty third of a novel.
"My entire mind-set about the deed was evolving.  Insight: if a guy I had sex with ever carved a notch into his bedpost, I'd tell him to carve one into mine too - and then go make me a fucking sammich."
Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Link Smorgasbord, December 15 - 22

Design flyers to spread the word online
A neat site to create fliers with, I discovered it when someone shared their DIY Cataloging flier. Could be a fun tool to use in the future.

Ron Miller: DRM has always been a horrible idea
Obviously, I'm not a big fan of DRM.  Decent article, though I've noticed a trend to ignore reasons that companies would want DRM, such as deliberately restricting access to their approved channels (and as annoying as it is, sometimes they want that).

Morton Grove Library trustees rejects atheist blogger's donation
From what I can tell this was $3000 with no strings attached, and being an atheist in no way makes someone part of a "hate group."  I've gone through his blog a bit, and it largely seems to be "don't be a jerk" with slightly more focus on churches that have been jerks, but he calls out atheists as well.  Looking more into it, it seems the donator in question regularly raises money for causes, including to help a church clean up graffiti.  Looking into it a little bit more, it seems that being publicly an atheist or even stridently non-religious, raises quite a few eyebrows and has resulted in quite a few rejections of monetary gifts (see In season of giving, atheist groups’ charity rebuffed).  Though it also seems from the forums I'm on that this particular trustee was involved in some other debacles at the library as well.

On Privilege, Intersectionality, and the Librarian Image
An interesting write up on what it means to be in a profession where your professionalism is often based on your appearance and how you fit in with community standards.  Obviously this stands for a number of professions, but librarians are in a professional field that is very much in the public eye.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Link Smorgasbord, December 9 - 15

16 Fantastic Gifts For Lit Lovers Who Have Enough Books
Some cute ideas here, but nothing for me in the overwhelming "I want that."  Except for #16, that's really spot on.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year: “Science”
I like basing their choice on the queries people were making.

Twitter gobbles up more cookies with retargeted ads, says users have privacy choices
Well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Still makes me go "ick."  I have enough trouble with Twitter because of the amount of retweets and targeted tweets at people I'm following that I have utterly no interest in.  Pretty much the only thing I use my account for is the meta-experience it provides when attending online conferences and seminars.

"For users who bristle at the thought of another Internet company tracking them, Twitter offered a few options. Users can uncheck the box next to "promoted content" in their privacy settings and Twitter will not match their account to information shared by its partners for tailoring ads, Twitter said. [...]  Twitter also noted that it supports the do not track privacy preference. Users who enable that option in their browser settings will not receive cookies from Twitter ad partners for tailored ads."

Xbox Live among game services targeted by US and UK spy agencies
"To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs."

It both makes sense that they would target game networks and feels like they're just trying too hard.  Like a Labrador Retriever that just wants your love.  I sort of feel bad for whatever schmuck has to wade through the trolls trying to find something of value to report.

The amusing coincidence for me is that over the past few weeks a guild named NSA has been recruiting on my server.

How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science
On the need for open-access science journals, rather than for-profit "luxury" journals.

"But as a journal's score is an average, it says little about the quality of any individual piece of research. What is more, citation is sometimes, but not always, linked to quality. A paper can become highly cited because it is good science – or because it is eye-catching, provocative or wrong."

Facebook Patents Inferring Income of Users
FFS

How the Bitcoin protocol actually works
Informative.

Feminist YA Fantasy Books
Some fantastic books and authors on this list.

Fixing Windows 8
A design project someone did, and I have to say I rather like some of the elements he incorporated.  Additionally it really does attempt to address some of the issues I have with Windows 8.

SteamOS Beta is Here
I want to play around with this, though I don't currently have the spare hardware to do so.

Libraries reinvent themselves for the 21st century 
It's not just a thing we're doing now, its an on going, continual process.  Is the library of today really the one you remember from  your childhood?  Or going back even further, 100 years ago the idea of a children's department was unheard of, and imagine going to a library now without one.  However it's awesome to see an article about libraries as evolving and relevant rather than how they are an outmoded institution.

Facebook Wants to Know Why You’re Self-Censoring Your Posts
I've got an answer to FB - because sometimes we like to make sure things are worded properly, or realize that we that we really don't want to share that particular thought with the world.   Or, you know, that we don't really trust their privacy policies.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#militantlibrarian

Once again the hilarity arises of someone labeling librarians as militant.  Not only that, they seem to again use the label as if its a bad thing.  I recently came across a discussion comparing being a librarian to having a religion; many of us in the field tend to be very passionate about what we do and the causes we champion.  Maybe this is what happens when you have a profession largely made of highly educated people in less than highly paid positions, we're not in the field for the money.


Thank you, LibrarianShipwreck for putting it perfectly.

So why the hell am I even talking about this today?  Why is anyone?  And who is Richard Russo?

It started with a letter (or see the PDF) written by Richard Russo on beseeching authors to join the Authors Guild to fight to protect the author way of life.  In the letter he writes about the evil machinations of big companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple, about the "militant librarians who see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to “lend” our e-books without restriction," and about the "'information wants to be free' crowd."

In a number of ways this is kind of hilarious.  But it is also frustrating.  I'm not upset that he called librarians "militant" - I'll take that badge and wear it.  I'm upset by the hyperbolic comparison linking the dangers posed by a company like Amazon to the limited power of libraries, and I'm upset by the narrow-mindedness of his statements which oversimplify issues and ignore relevant points.  And perhaps just as importantly I'm upset by the backing this letter has by some very prominent and successful authors and author organizations, including (obviously) the Author's Guild and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI, which shared the letter as "Must read for authors").  That's what really hurts.

Personally I think if he and his compatriots feel that Amazon is such a threat to their way of life then they should STOP SELLING THROUGH AMAZON.  Talk to their publishers, express their desire to be represented only by other online retailers, believe me, those other retailers would LOVE to work with you on this.  As high selling authors they have far more power to fight against Amazon than most, as he says, they provide the content Amazon needs.  One or two may not make a huge difference to Amazon, but a large force of authors would make an impact.  I feel if you're going to lambast a company as destroying your way of life you should at least strive to not support them financially (in addition to using their "evil" might to grow your own paycheck).

I'm a librarian who wants fair terms to lend ebooks.  I'm fine with one copy one user if the price and terms are fair.  Four times the list price is not fair, especially for a book that access to is tied to a vendor platform that costs thousands each year to member libraries.  Expiring after 26 check outs only seems good compared to expiring after the first to occur of 26 check outs or one year.  If we were buying simultaneous use licenses I would find higher prices fair.  Compared to the terms we face repurchasing the Harry Potter books after 5 years is exciting.  And 50 Shades of Grey really was not worth $80 per digital copy.

"Information wants to be free" is not meant to be about everything for nothing.  It's about sharing of information and knowledge.  It does not innately mean that everyone involved is supporting of piracy and never pays for anything (it also bears remembering that those who pirate and those who purchase are not exclusive camps).

I'm upset at authors striking out at some of their biggest supporters with oversimplified statements worded to vilify.  Libraries (and even piracy) are huge parts in the discovery process for consumer consumption, helping sales and profit.  Meanwhile, I'm damn proud to be a "militant" librarian if that's what striving to provide the best service I can means.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Link Smorgasbord, December 2 - 8

After Snowden, we're self-censoring and we don't care
I do really care, and the fact that this article is over all pretty spot on is just more frustrating. 

Heavy metal shows piracy is not killing music, offers new business model
This isn't the first article along these lines I've encountered, in fact, I come across articles about piracy helping music sales quite often.  This one just happens to feature a band I really like.  :D

Data Portraits: Connecting People of Opposing Views
A paper on popping the filter bubble and exposing people to differing points of view.  "The motivation behind our research is: can we take advantage of user engagement with recommendations to indirectly promote connection to people of opposing views?"  I find this a really interesting topic and the full text is available.

Copyright Takedown Requests to Google Have Doubled Since Last Year
That's a lot of take down requests we're talking about.

The gentle art of cracking passwords
Perhaps this article is a broken record to some of you, if it isn't you should read it and others until you take it to heart.  To quote Spaceballs "1, 2, 3, 4, 5?  That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!"

Library Of Congress Reports 75% Of All U.S. Silent Films Are Lost 
A rather unpleasant reminder of how much art we've lost.  In this case it's more than just orphaned works lost due to copyright, but works lost due to lack of preservation or deliberate destruction (old silver nitrate film was often recycled).

Bad sex award goes to Manil Suri and his shoals of atomic nuclei 
Probably one of my favorite literary awards.

MA Libraries Legislative Agenda 
This is a bit near and dear to my heart, but it is also probably one of the more attractive and easy to follow presentations of a legislative agenda by an organization I've come across.

Sex and the Middle-Aged Librarian 
This one was specifically forwarded to me by Ann (thank you!) because she knew I would find it interesting.  She was right.  This is a great discussion on sex in teen literature that I think is worth the read.

UMass Amherst Libraries Join HathiTrust Partnership 
Awesome for those who are interested in digital preservation and access to works.

DO THIS DON'T: Take Yourself To The Library And Get A Library Card 
Can't say I was ever aware that it was cool to not have a library card, but then I've never really been one of the cool kids.  Still, it is an enthusiastic endorsement of libraries in a non-library publication and by a non-library professional.

Your Facebook friends may be evil bots 
Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnn!  Or, in the words of Professor Moody, exercise "Constant Vigilance!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Link Smorgasbord, November 25 - December 1

Goldieblox and the Three MCs
Probably the best write up I've seen so far on the Goldiebox/Beastie Boys issue, in particular addressing some of the rumors surrounding the issue.  TL;DR - copyright law is a bloody mess and the determination of "fair use" is not cut and dried.

NSA Planned To Discredit Radicals Based On Web-Browsing Habits
Because in this day and age not being hetero-normative still can be held against you, or, as was proven earlier this year, searching for a backpack and a pressure cooker.

Creative Commons Launches Version 4.0 of Its Licenses
Cool stuff for those who are intersted.
http://creativecommons.org/

Library to Hold Black Friday Sale
I totally love this idea and it is likely we will be doing something like this next year at my library.  I'd love to be busier at the library on the day after Thanksgiving; usually it is so slow that I wonder why I didn't use a vacation day.  I also strongly feel that my library could benefit from more community publicity and engagement.  We're a gorgeous library that patrons can borrow from or use for internet access, but like most libraries we are also so much more.

Young adult readers 'prefer printed to ebooks'
Not sure if the sample is really representative of the age group, but as someone who is under 30 and has been reading content on computers for at least 20 years, I still find printed books far easier to read and process.

6 Things To Keep In Mind While Shopping On Amazon Black Friday
I hadn't realized exactly how HUGE Amazon complexes are.

Total misfire: brands like CoverGirl and Subway miss point of Hunger Games
A great read.

Mainstream YA Article Bingo: A Response To Laura C. Mallonee
This is a fantastic article about attitudes towards Young Adult fiction, and in many ways about the overall disparagement of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

6 Reasons The Guy Who's Fixing Your Computer Hates You
Yeah... fortunately for all that I'm basically a professional friend who's good with computers, I know lots of people even better with computers than I am.  I still love these lists, because they resonate and make me laugh.

Out of Print, Maybe, but Not Out of Mind
"Books are dead. Long live the book."
 On attempts to discover and achieve transformation of the reading experience.