Showing posts from May, 2014

[Book Review] Mastering the Marquess

Mastering the Marquess / Lavinia Kent Louisa, the widowed Lady Brookingston, has a particular personal problem.  Despite a number of years of marriage to the man she loved, she's still a rather innocent virgin, and with the inevitable future re-marriage, she really doesn't want to explain that to her future husband.  Not only that, but the sex talk her mother gave her was the "lay back and think of England" version, and she never saw her husband completely naked.  Beyond farm animals mating she has very little clue about how things work. Enter a one night liaison, arranged to privately teach Louisa that there's more to sex than uncomfortable coupling.  Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston is a man of particular tastes in private, seemingly very few interests in public, and a strict desire for control in both.  He has no interest in marriage, or really deflowering a virgin, but Madame Rouge entices him into a no-strings-attached one-night affair with a woman wh

[Book Review] Love Potions

Love Potions / Michelle M. Pillow Confession time - I'm totally into men wearing kilts (fortunately my soon-to-be spouse is obliging on this as he's discovered quite how comfortable they are).  Combine this with my penchant for reading fantasy and the occasional naughty book, I figured why not take a gamble on Love Potions .  I went in with the assumption that I would encounter a number of romance novel tropes, and worse comes to worse, it wasn't a very long book (under 300 pages). What I can say about this book is that it has a plot, and it's not simply the quest for putting Tab A into Slot B.  There is magical insta-love, but since magic literally is part of their pairing, it is at least in theme. Erik is a bit of an idiot at times.  For all that he's a few centuries old, he (and his siblings) have the social graces and impulse control of teenagers, but with the added twist of near immortality and magic thrown in.  It almost goes without saying that there&#

[Book Review] The Buried Life

The Buried Life  / Carrie Patel ( Powell's Books ) Despite our best efforts, humanity has not completely destroyed itself.  Society was forced underground to survive, and even now that the surface is safe, humanity is now well entrenched in caverns and subterranean cities.  Crisis has changed the shape of society, and while crime still exists, detection technology is advanced, the penalties are harsher, and violent crimes almost never appear among the upper strata of society. When Inspector Liesl Malone is assigned to the murder investigation of a respected and well known historian she is surprised at the stonewalling and obstruction thrown in the way of solving a crime that has thrown society into a panic.  Then another of society's elites is found murdered, and another, and someone doesn't want Inspector Malone (or anyone else) looking too closely.  Intrigue and deceptions mount as events cascade into conflict and revolution. The Buried Life  was an interesting re

Update: Reviewing Booklikes

About a year ago I started looking for an alternative to Goodreads and came across the very new site, Booklikes.  At the time I wrote that Booklikes didn't quite have everything I was looking for, but that it had great promise and amazing staff. These days Booklikes is regularly making me happy while I only remain on Goodreads for the forum discusssions of a single book club.  The fall out from the Amazon purchase of Goodreads largely seems that 1. Amazon/Goodreads doesn't care and 2. lots of people have migrated away to other platforms. Seriously though, Booklikes seems really dedicated to making a platform that its users enjoy, and at having staff that are easily accessible to the users to answer questions and take suggestions.  They have a goal of a new feature ever week, and sometimes release more.  They don't quite have every feature I'd like, but that list is rapidly shrinking as well as introducing features I hadn't really thought about.  They've al

On Working as a Technology Services Librarian

Back in December (yes, I know, I took my sweet time turning this into a blog post) I had the opportunity to act as a guest speaker for a class of MLS students on my experiences working as a Technology Services Librarian.  For me this was a pretty exciting opportunity.  I never expected to work in IT.  I know so many people who are utterly brilliant with computers that I just don't measure up.  However along the line I must have picked something up, or maybe some of their brilliance rubbed off on me, and I ended up rather competent with technology.  Additionally, the scope of my job is not one that most people tend to think of when they think of librarians. A quick caveat, this is written from the point of view of someone in a very public-service oriented position, I realize there are similar positions where the Librarian is back end only. So, without further ado, here's my (shortish) presentation : On Working as a Technology Services Librarian Or Adventures in turn

[Book Review] Some Fine Day

Some Fine Day / Kat Ross Once upon a time we thought El Nino was bad.  Katrina and Sandy were recognized as historic storms.  Things got worse.  The storms grew, and in desperation humanity retreated underground.  Now the surface is ravaged by continent sized super-storms called hypercanes that have lasted for decades, and the only things able to survive are amphibious-primate mutants that do not look kindly on humans. Jansin has only known life underground.  Life may be governed by strict rules and limited supplies, but thanks to birth and training, she is among the cream of the crop.  She knows that there is no one left alive above ground, no way for anyone to live above ground in the face of the storms and the decimation of civilization they caused.  About to graduate from the military academy, her life has direction and she wants to dedicate it to protecting the way of life that keeps humanity alive. Then on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to the surface her world view is shat

Brainstorming - C'thulhu LARP

As I've mentioned previously , I really want to run a LARP inside a library.  As libraries are public spaces while they're open, I am envisioning a one-shot, after-hours game, likely as a lock-in style overnight event (lock-in to reduce issues with security).  Based on space, liability, and environment I will need to at least look into non-physical combat resolution systems.  In many ways Nerf would work well for the indoors setting (for one thing, less likely to knock something over), but sometimes people get a bit... touchy about gun-related things, even neon-yellow, foam dart shooters.  I also recall a one-shot zombie apocalypse survival LARP my friends attended that used tossed 'spell packets' to simulate hand-to-hand combat. For the environment I'm looking to work within, I think my best bet is to go with a C'thulhu mythos setting.  Well suited to night time adventures, easy to develop a plot that makes use of a space full of books, potentially minimal ne

[Book Review] Breaking Free

Breaking Free / Winter Page Raimi Carter is finally a girl, just like she always knew she was meant to be. At a new school where nobody knows she’s had gender reassignment surgery, she hopes to finally live the normal life she’s longed for, happy in her own skin. Life is great until she discovers a dangerous bully is blackmailing head cheerleader, Clare Strickland, threatening to reveal her secret: she’s gay. As Raimi fights to free Clare from his clutches, the two girls move beyond friendship. But secrets from their pasts and their own fears of coming out tear them apart—maybe forever. Baring their souls to each other could cost them everything. For two girls trapped and desperately in love, only strength, courage, and trust in each other will help them break free and claim their future. I want to start this off by saying I am torn in how to rate and review this book.  After finishing I discovered that the author is a high school freshman, and I think writing and publishing thi

[Book Review] The Shadow Master

The Shadow Master / Craig Cormick ( Powell's Books ) The Shadow Master is set in an alt history where science is a form of magic that takes a toll on the user.  A plague ravages the land and within the only city free of it's taint two ruling factions grapple for power.  A young man and a young woman with allegiance to opposing families feel they are soul-bound to each other.  Someone is trying to entice a civil war, to let in the diseased, and to raze the city.  The key to the salvation of civilization is in the two lovers, but will it be found in time? I'm not sure what I think of this story.  It floats between political intrigue and mysticism.  Perhaps due to the nature of two warring clans with unfamiliar names, I spent a lot of time struggling to keep characters straight at the beginning.  In the end only a handful are important enough to remember, and those actually are relatively easy to keep sorted. There are definite Italian and European influences

[Book Review] Tales of the Hidden World

Tales of the Hidden World / Simon R. Green ( Powell's Books ) One of my favorite things about Simon R. Green's writing is his wit.  His Nightside and Drood novels are what got me hooked in the first place, and they deliver action, wit, humor, magic, and intrigue.  I love a novel that is clever, well written, and tongue-in-cheek.  The wit and magic are definitely still there in this collection, but the collection has both dark and somber notes to it that I was not expecting.  The stories are well crafted and engaging, literally spanning from home to far reaching universes. Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Troubleshooting for Finals Week

Ah, finals week.  The perfect time for "oh my god, why isn't my paper formatting right?" So in that spirit, I wanted to share two of the problems I've helped panicked students with repeatedly in the past few days. Problem 1: You've got this weird, possibly slightly differently colored dead space on the right side of your document that you can't get rid of and is messing up your print outs.  This area is supposed to be where your document "comments" go, and when there are no comments it is supposed to vanish, but sometimes it doesn't seem to want to do that. To remove that area, go to the Review tab, and then look for the "Tracking" section of your menu ribbon.  It will have the option to Track Changes, Show Mark Up, Reviewing Pane, and a drop down menu.  You'll want to change the menu from "Original: Show Markup" or "Final: Show Markup" to simply the "Original" or "Final" option, and t

[Book Review] Hollow World

Hollow World / Michael J Sullivan ( Powell's Books ) When Ellis Rogers is told he has little time left to live, laughter is probably not the response his doctor expected.  Laughter may not be how he expect to react to news of his looming mortality.  But as it turns out Ellis Rogers may have all the time in the world, or if he's wrong, no time at all. After all, he's lived a good life, with a mind as sharp as ever, but what does he have holding him to this time?  Haunted by his son's suicide, estranged from his wife, and his best friend seems bitterly stuck in the past.  Whether the machine works or not, Ellis is looking at a one way trip, and he's OK with that. The future is not what Ellis expected, arriving not 200 years, but 2000 years later in a forest seeming untouched by civilization.  And when he finds civilization he discovers that humanity itself has changed beyond his wildest imagination.  But all it takes is one fanatic out of time to threaten utopi

[Book Review] Alif : the Unseen

Alif : the Unseen / G. Willow Wilson ( Powell's Books ) Alif has encountered three strokes of bad luck. The aristocratic woman he loves has jilted him, leaving him with only a mysterious book of fairytales. The state censorship apparatus of the emirate where he lives has broken into his computer, compromising his business providing online freedom for clients across the Islamic world. And now the security police have shown up at his door. But when Alif goes underground, he will encounter a menagerie of mythical creatures and end up on a mad dash through faith, myth, cyberspace, love, and revolution. When Intisar tells Alif that she is to wed another regardless of their secret marriage contract his heart is broken.  When she tells Alif that she never wants to see him again, his grief transforms his coding into a shield that is capable of identifying Intisar from mere words of text and hiding his digital presence from her permanently.  In a country with one of the world&

[Book Review] Wallbanger

Wallbanger / Alice Clayton ( Powell's Books ) Anyone who's ever lived in an apartment, dorm, or other shared living knows about the joys of thin walls.  Dealing with the frustration of interrupted sleep thanks to one's neighbors almost seems like a right of passage (then again, I was largely an only child, so maybe those with large families are more familiar with noisy 'neighbors'). Caroline's new apartment is fantastic; spacious, clean, conveniently located, all those things people tend to look for in housing.  At least, the apartment is fantastic until 2AM her first night sleeping in her new home when she is woken by her neighbor's enthusiastic nocturnal activities.  The following two nights aren't any better as she is woken again bed frame percussion and introduced to the moans of other women. Fortunately her neighbor is often out of town, but even if she's not aware of his return, it's always heralded by enthusiastic cries and crashin

Link Smorgasbord, April 2014

Transgender Children in Antebellum America An online exhibit exploring the gender roles and expressions in a series of stories aimed at children in antebellum America. Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power The Future To be honest, a number of these reasons are similar to why I don't trust a number of companies to 'power the future.' to Acquire comiXology So I have no doubt that this will benefit both Amazon and comiXology.  It still makes me wince uncomfortably, and not only because I liked what comiXology was doing as an independent company. Policies that keep people from visiting their local library After reading this and noticing a comment on the post in defense of association libraries and questioning some of the policies mentioned, I went and looked at the source myself.  While I think it is definitely important to question of policies are barriers to access, this article seems to have some unfounded accusations.  In particular I can find no evidence