Thursday, July 31, 2014

[Book Review] Snow Falling on Bluegrass

Snow Falling on Bluegrass / Molly Harper

A weekend work retreat gets extended when winter fury descends onto Kentucky.  For Kelsey this proves both a blessing and a curse.  She can escape from the presence of her feckless ex and spend some quality time with her long time crush.  Only being snowed in with one's co-workers with limited resources falls short of romance, and handsome park ranger overseeing the lodge wouldn't mind getting to know Kelsey better.  It may be frozen outside, but inside things are heating up nicely.

I adore Molly Harper's romance novels.  In them she displays fantastic wit, as well as growth in relationships (even if over a very short period of time), a friendly approach to sex, friendships between characters, and love interests that aren't overbearing alpha male cliches.  Snow Falling on Bluegrass is my first exposure to her contemporary romance work, instead of her highly enjoyable urban fantasy/paranormal works (including the Half-Moon Hollow and Naked Werewolf books).

She snared me on the first page with "black lace undies of questionable structural integrity," and kept me entertained and engaged from there.

From the start of the book, Kelsey is in a rather shit situation.  Not only is she recovering from a bad relationship, the ex keeps heaping more trouble on her, including destroying her credit through fraud.  She's technically in the clear to pursue other relationships, but she has that baggage tagging along and her long time co-worker crush has been alternating between distant and friendly as of late.  Ultimately, she gets through things with the help of a great, if rather mischievous, support network of friends.

This is not the first book in the series, but you can dive in and enjoy it without reading the previous novels.

Snow Falling on Bluegrass is a rather warm and entertaining novel.  The wit keeps the mood light and moving.  Fans of Molly Harper's paranormal romance novels will recognize her writing style, and should enjoy this contemporary romance if they don't mind the lack of supernatural.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A public librarian walks into an academic science library

I've been busy with displays recently.  Not saying that academic libraries don't every do much in the way of book displays, but based on the reactions and feedback, it seems like the inspiration I've brought from working on displays in public libraries is greatly appreciated.  I'm not the wizard at displays that some librarians are, but I'm having fun.

First up - the new books space in the entrance way.  Books and their dust jackets part ways during processing, but we periodically get a big stack of dust jackets sent our way to do with as we wish.  Historically a selection has been displayed on an entrance-way bulletin board, and the rest given away or discarded.  I spent some time sorting and cutting apart dust jackets, then figuring out how to arrange them.  Getting everything up took a little monkeying around, but I had fun.

Previously the signage was plain black text on white paper, so I used extra book covers to make more colorful (if showing up poorly in photographs) signage.  It actually looks pretty awesome in person.

I'm actually pretty proud of how close to level the letters ended up considering this was a freehand effort.
On the opposite side of the entry way we have a small display case that I was also asked to populate.  The challenge here was height, only about 6" between base and lid, meaning I need books with engaging covers in a library that removes dust jackets.  The other challenge was what to even do for concept.  Being the classy and tasteful person I am, my mind went immediately to science pun/joke memes.

All part of a morning's work.
Clearly I dug deep for some of these.

Once I had the images I went and found books that matched the subjects of the jokes.  Of course, I grabbed too many books, but I expected that.

For the books I kept I made up little slips with the LC call numbers and subject headings to assist in finding related material.

Books & Science Puns:

[QD1-65  General chemistry]
  • The periodic table: a very short introduction / Eric Scerri
  • Chemistry: the impure science / Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent & Jonathan Simon
[QD450-801  Physical and theoretical chemistry]
  • The periodic table and a missed Nobel prize / Ulf Lagerkvist
"I lost an electron!"   "Are you positive?"
"Periodic Table -  I bet that bench is really unstable"
"You want to hear a joke about nitric oxide?"  "NO"
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate"

[QE 601-613.5  Structural Geology]
  • Active Faults of the world / Robert Yeats
Geologists: Masters of Subduction

[QC170-197 Atomic physics. Constitution and properties of matter
Including molecular physics, relativity, quantum theory, and solid state physics]
  • How to teach relativity to your dog / Chad Orzel
[QC793-793.5  Elementary particle physics]
  • Elementary particle physics / Brian R. Martin
"Einstein developed a theory about space, and it was about time too"
"A photon checks into a hotel and is asked if he needs any help with his luggage.  'No, I'm traveling light.'"
"The Cat in the Box by Dr. Schrodinger"
"Schrodinger's cat walks into a bar... and doesn't."

[QA1-939  Mathematics]
  • The joy of x: a guided tour of math, from one to infinity / Steve Strogate
"Math puns are the first sine of madness"

[TL787-4050  Astronautics.  Space travel]
  • Forever Young: a life of adventure in air and space / John W. Young
"We got here with a computer less powerful than your cell phone"

There are many other fantastic puns and science jokes that I could have included, but I like the range of topics included.

The other display I put up dealt with our cookbooks collection.  This one actually went up the other week, but it made more sense in my mind to talk about the displays in relative geographical order.

Cookbooks and books on food are fantastic for displays.  They often have appealing graphic covers, are of sturdy construction, and additionally are often beautiful to flip through and read.  The space I was directed to use for this display is one of the sets of shelves that new books live on.  Rather than use the whole shelf unit, I decided to use just one side of the shelves.  Makes for a more contained display and avoids massive loss of new book storage space.  With the end of year purchasing and all of that, the new books neared overflow before taking away any shelf space.

I had this cool idea to do a clump of books on different areas of food and cooking: history, culture, flavors, etc.  That totally didn't happen.  Instead I ended up with several armfuls of interesting food related books that didn't fit at all neatly (or evenly) into the different sub-category concepts.

So some shelf-shifting and sign making later, I put out a little display of mouthwatering books.  Even with this being the (extremely) slow season for this branch, the books are circulating, giving an opportunity to add titles.

So many delicious books...
Depending on how things pan out (temp placement extended/permanent job offer here or elsewhere/etc) I have ideas for displays come fall, including some sort of library scavenger hunt with clues in the entryway glass case.

Please do yourself a favor...

...and don't use your credit card as a book mark.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

[Book Review] The Game and the Governess

The Game and the Governess / Kate Noble (Powell's Books)

An interesting combination of good writing and some rather dis-likable characters.

The (incredibly self-assured) Lord Ashby is challenged to a wager by his friend and secretary, John Turner.  That much of Lord Ashby's "luck" (particularly with women) is all due to his station and very little due to his qualities as a person.  If Mr. Turner wins, Lord Ashby will award the funds needed for Mr. Turner to fix his family's mill.  If Mr. Turner loses, he loses the mill.  The stage for their game is two weeks spent out of town hammering out the sale of Lord Ashby's childhood home.  There they each learn quite a bit about the other's station and about themselves.

There are really few pleasant characters in this book, particularly at the beginning.  Both Lord Ashby and Mr. Turner are rather insufferable, and the family (and all their lady guests) are short-sited, petty, and self-centered.  Even the townsfolk are a bit much.  In the first few chapters the only characters I have any fondness for are Miss Phobe Baker and her two young charges (actually, I take that back, the valet is a fun minor character, and the horses seem nice too).

As the book progresses both Lord Ashby and Mr. Turner lose some of their smugness and self-satisfaction, which makes them a bit more likeable.  But it's not really until the end when everything hits the fan that I found either sympathetic.

I have nothing to say against Kate Noble's writing style, I think she wrote a clear tale.  I think that a large amount of the dislike I felt towards her characters was the intended response.  It just was just too much of characters that I couldn't stand, even if they were running towards comeuppance and redemption.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

[Book Review] Reputable Surrender

Reputable Surrender / Riley Murphy

Lauren has given up on finding what she wants in a relationship and is throwing it all into her work.  She wants a bad boy dom, but she's afraid of getting close after several toxic relationships, and even more afraid of turning a good man bad.

Michael has made some mistakes in his inexperienced youth, but he has spent the intervening years growing past them and establishing his reputation as a man of good judgement, deliberation, and someone you can rely on.

Unknown to Lauren, they've met before, and neither of them can shake the memories of that unfulfilled night.  Now Michael has the chance to pursue the woman of his dreams, but the question is, will she let down her guard enough to be wooed?  Micheal's everything that Lauren is afraid of ruining in a man, can she live with herself if a relationship turns yet another man into a monster?

First off, this is the fifth book in the series, something I did not realize when I requested (and was approved for) a copy of this title.  Reputable Surrender assumes reader knowledge of character history throughout the book, and in ways that are at times quite confusing.  Much of the primary romance can be enjoyed without too much confusion, but major plot threads rely on events that took place in previous books, and they pop up with little introduction or context.  There is a huge villain reveal with a character who is a complete unknown if you have only read this book, but one who seems to be an established part of another couple's history.  The book largely ends with glimpses into the personal lives of several other couples who formed in the previous books, again, taking a reader who starts with Reputable Surrender, out of the main plot line into a different focus.

In many ways this is a book about Lauren coming to terms with her desires and how they can be met in a safe and mutually satisfying way.  It seems that the series overall has a theme of finding family, security, and community.  Lauren needs to learn how to face the skeletons in her closet, and learn to trust herself and others.  Ultimately she finds a way to be happy with another and pursue her career her own way.

Personally I object a little bit to the sheer amount of assumption of consent on the part of Michael, but the author makes Lauren's enjoyment and consent clear.  Most of my issues relating to Michael come early in the book (and early in the relationship).  I mean, who in their right mind thinks it's a good idea to steal a kiss from a company consultant when leaving a company gathering?  That's not just risking personal insult and ire, that's risking a sexual harassment lawsuit.  Also, in the prologue when Michael and Lauren first meet, he's working security for a kink event, and goes off to play with her.  How is that 'reputable'?  If you're working security you do not abandon your post to get your jollies off, particularly when one of your duties is to make sure that no one ends up violated or injured (outside of consenting parameters).

I find parts of the villain story lines to be a bit heavy handed in Reputable Surrender, but I do acknowledge that there are many manipulative bastards out in the world, as well as others who take someone's interest in consensual and controlled roughness as a license to injure with impunity.  The types of harassment that Lauren faces are not unimaginable, as is her misplaced guilt and sense of responsibility for the abuse.  I think this could have been better balanced had not the previously utterly unmentioned off-his-rocker villain simply not popped up in this book.

One thing that Reputable Surrender (and I assume the other books in the series) makes clear, is that the adults in these relationships are sane and consenting.  There is no "I'll endure this because he likes it," nor are the adults treated as 'damaged' for their desires.  This is a book focusing on adults who know their desires and are looking to fulfill them, both desires for their life overall and desires of a more intimate nature.

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Book Review] The Book of Life

The Book of Life / Deborah Harkness (Powell's Books)

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book, but I was curious how the story started in A Discovery of Witches and continued in Shadow of Night.  I found the the story up till now interesting and compelling, but it serious pacing issues.  I spent the first two books with a feeling of "come on now, just get to it!"

The Book of Life picked up at with the tension built up at the end of Shadow of Night and ran with it.  The plot and story moved along at an engaging pace and I ripped through this 600+ page monster in a little over a day.  A fantastic improvement over the first two books, resulting in a book I greatly enjoyed reading.

Diana really blossoms in this book.  She has come into her power and grows from a witch without magic seeking to avoid any and all attention, to a personality to be reckoned with all on her own.  The relationship dynamics between characters are well done, with development and growth as they weather challenges.  Additionally growth and depth is added to characters we have encountered along the way as the threads of the story are woven together.

In The Book of Life we follow Diana and Matthew, along with their clan of friends and family, in their frantic search for the pieces of Ashmole 782 and for genetic clues in their own DNA.  This is a story of growth, of discovery, of closure, and of new beginnings.

Definitely read the first two books before picking up The Book of Life, this is a capstone, not a stand-alone novel.  Be warned that the first two books weigh in close to 600 pages each as well, heavy on meticulous detail and moment descriptions, but it all builds up to this solid conclusion.

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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summer Reading

So, one perk of not working in a public library this summer is that I can take part in the Summer Reading program at the public library I borrow books from.  I'm a few weeks late, as Summer Reading generally starts in June and ends mid-August around here, lets go with it.  My local library's program has a reading challenge for adults, with 10 categories to fit books into, and a raffle prize for each.  10 books in a month should be doable.

The Challenge:
  1. Book into a movie
  2. Biography or Memoir
  3. Mystery/Horror
  4. Love story
  5. Outside the US
  6. Adventure Story
  7. Fantasy/Sci-Fi
  8. Classic
  9. Local Author
  10. Reader's Choice
I'd have the list half done or more if I included the books I read since the start of Summer Reading, but I want to keep it to books finished since I signed up.  In some cases the hardest part will be deciding which category to shove a given book into.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

[Book Review] The Steampunk Trilogy

The Steampunk Trilogy / Paul di Filippo (Powell's Books)
"An outrageous trio of novellas that bizarrely and brilliantly twists the Victorian era out of shape, by a master of steampunk alternate history

Welcome to the world of steampunk, a nineteenth century outrageously reconfigured through weird science. With his magnificent trilogy, acclaimed author Paul Di Filippo demonstrates how this unique subgenre of science fiction is done to perfection—reinventing a mannered age of corsets and industrial revolution with odd technologies born of a truly twisted imagination."

I'm not even sure how to start reviewing this book.  As promised, this is a collection of three bizarrely twisted tales.  I do not know enough about the author to agree that he is a "master of steampunk alternate history."

The Steampunk Trilogy is a collection of three stories more of an alternative history rather than specifically steampunk inclination.  Eldritch horror, interest in science, and spiritualists do not make the stories steampunk.

Victoria is a bizarrely round-about story involving carnal desires, the soon-to-be-crowned queen, and a royal doppelgänger that is a hybrid of woman and salamander.  The plot makes no sense once the reveal is made, there really was no point to it.  The Prime Minister had the power to get what he wanted without sending Cowperthwait on a wild goose chase, its not as if he wasn't going to learn the truth.  And the whole extra bit about the gentleman on the same search and how that fell out was utterly pointless.  The premise was interesting none-the-less, and the story was somewhat intriguing.

I couldn't finish reading Hottentots.  Ze german accent would have made an Indiana Jones Nazi proud, it was written out so thick and exaggerated to be near incomprehensible without sounding everything out.  That combined with incredibly heavy dwelling on the part of the narrator on the inferiorities and defects of the "lesser" races (plus things like mistaking the black woman who wakes him for an ape) just made the story unfinishable.  Had I continued, I believe I would have gotten into a story of eldrich horror, which I normally like, but I just couldn't stand the story enough to get to that point.  I assume the author was going for 'historical accuracy' with the scientist's obsession about race, but that doesn't make it any less overwhelming.

Now, maybe I'm overly judgmental of Walt and Emily simply because I grew up in Amherst, MA.  But sometimes it's the little things, like Emily wondering what life would be like "had the family stayed closer to town" (have you looked at a map of Amherst and the location of the Dickenson home?) or it's something bigger like the sheer overwhelming pretention of both Emily and Walt and the fact that they seem to only think and communicate in poetic prose, including to quote themselves in conversation.  Then again is the fact that the story is essentially Emily/Walt fan-fiction, with just as a consummation of lust that is just as bizarre as the rest of the story.

I suppose the whole book could be classified as absurdist.  It has elements of science fiction and fantasy, and the stories definitely take place in anachronistic historical settings, but I can't bring myself to consider the book standing out on its own as 'steampunk.'

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Book Review] Garlic: the Mighty Bulb

Garlic: the Mighty Bulb / Natasha Edwards (Powell's Books)

Is this the right book for you?
  • Do you like garlic in your food?
  • Do you like tasty, easy to make food (and easy to follow recipes)?
  • Do you want to know more about garlic?
 Any yes to the above is a good indication that you'll like this book.  I stumbled across this book when gathering titles for a cookbook display and had to borrow it.  The book has a bit of "everything you ever wanted to know about garlic" in addition to the recipes.  Garlic is wonderfully graphic, with photographs of mouthwatering food.  The recipes are very easy to follow, very straightforward and not intimidating.  So far I've cooked three of the recipes, and have copied out another seven to try soon.  The food has been delicious.

Friday, July 11, 2014

[Book Review] Space Opera

Space Opera / Rich Horton (ed) (Powell's Books)

"More than five-hundred pages, over one-quarter of a million words...

Space Opera spans a vast range of epic interstellar adventure stories told against a limitless cosmos filled with exotic aliens, heroic characters, and incredible settings. A truly stellar compilation of tales from one of the defining streams of science fiction, old and new, written by a supernova of genre talent.

Edited by Rich Horton with stories from Kage Baker, Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds and others."
This is a weighty tomb of fantastical science fiction.  In this collection you will find tales of human and alien diaspora, quests, madness, and larger than life settings.  There are some very interesting character devices, and imaginative settings.  I picked up this book recognizing only a few of the contributing authors, which I find is often a perk of short story collections.  Not all of the stories were to my taste, but others I greatly enjoyed. 

Within the wrappings of fantastical space travel and alien worlds there are some serious themes and undercurrents.  The stories themselves may be short, but they are not insubstantial.  I actually would like to re-read this book at a later date, as a print book and not a digital file (particularly not one with a time limit).  Some of these stories would benefit from a second reading, and give the stories that I did not fully engage with another chance.

It is worthwhile to note that this is not the first collection titled Space Opera curated by Rich Horton, and that the earlier edition has a different set of authors.

If you enjoy space operas you will likely find at least several stories here that you like, but I wouldn't recommend the book for those who are more interested in the harder science side of science fiction.

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

[Book Review] Male Sex Work and Society

Male Sex Work and Society / Victor Minichiello and John Scott (eds)

When thinking of sex work, we often think of it as a female profession, but it never has belonged exclusively to women.  We rarely see male sex workers represented in popular culture, and we do, we often encounter either a sterilized, hetero-normative presentation.  Male Sex Work and Society attempts to fill the void in scholarly research and discussion of sex work by providing a number of in-depth inspections of different aspects of men in sex work in the United States and globally.  At over 500 pages, this is a hefty tomb of analysis, with subjects smoothly introduced by the editors, helping the reader establish a frame of reference as they transition between sections.  Male Sex Work and Society contains examinations of the field in a variety of contexts, including history, public health, sociology, psychology, social services, economics, geography, criminal justice, and popular culture.

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

What's cooking?

For the summer I'm working as the Science Library Circulation Assistant at a women's college with fantastic programs in the sciences.  I'm totally in a building full of books that I want to read (except for the two volume Biology of Ticks, which is made of my nightmares), and it is awesome.  While the library largely supports students during the school year, we also have a healthy pool of local residents who borrow from our collection.

Now, the position is not a "professional" one - my MLS is not at all necessary, and in fact during training the person I was taking over for told me to not even bother trying to do "any MLS stuff."  However, I have develop the skills set and experience, even if in a public instead of an academic setting, so I have the opportunity for input now and then on the collection.  The main area in particular is one that I'm familiar with: cookbooks.

One of the first tasks I was given, "when you can get to it" was to put together a display featuring our cookbook collection.  As it turns out, in the recent years an effort has been made to expand the cookbook collection, and it has been well received by borrowers.  The display finished, and the discovery that I have something of a familiarity with cooking and cookbooks from several areas of my professional life, I have the opportunity to give input on future cookbook purchases.

Combing through articles passed on to me by my supervisor I come across a dilemma - do I include diet (weight loss) books in my suggestions?

The collection as it stands has books about cooking within different dietary bounds (vegetarian, vegan, gluten), however none of the titles specifically address weight loss.  And I really like that (as does my student employee).

I know from my years working with non-fiction collections that dieting books circulate very well in a public setting, regardless of the viability of said diet.  I also know that there are good reasons to have diet books on hand, particularly ones that deal with the science of a diet since we are in a Science Library.  Lastly, I also know that as a gender, we face a lot of pressure regarding our bodies to the point of severely skewing our perceptions.

As an academic library, our overall collection focus supports a set of scholarly pursuits, and further enlightenment outside of just assigned readings in those areas.  So a collection of cookbooks is almost novel and outside of our collecting area (though it can be argued that cooking is indeed a science).

At this point I am doing what I can to avoid books focusing on dieting, though I will include recommendations on well written, well supported, cookbooks focusing on healthy eating.  I don't think that as both an academic and a science library that we have a need to provide books with subtitles like "lose 30 pounds in 30 days."  We do have a solid collection of nutrition books focusing on the actual science of what you eat in a different area of the stacks, as well as cookbooks on different types of dietary choices.  Those who want to learn about the science of a diet or are looking to improve or expand their dietary choices I am happy to support, but these women don't need to find books on achieving the "perfect" body staring at them mixed in with their school books.

Perhaps I am exerting a form of censorship, but I feel that this fits within the collection development policy as well (and I am only making suggestions, I am not the one placing the order).  We have many books on exercise and fitness regimes, but none of them are "how to tone your butt" or similarly focused books.  If a patron particularly wants books like this they can be obtained easily, likely through ILL, and if the demand grows the collection can expand to meet it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

[Book Review] The Shape-Changer's Wife

The Shape-Changer's Wife / Sharon Shinn (Powell's Books)

Aubrey is a gifted student of wizardy, one who assimilates knowledge easily and always wants to learn more.  His studies take him on a journey to the wizard Glyrenden, but he discovers more mysteries than knowledge in the home of the shape-changer, where nothing seems quite as it should.  What of Glyrenden's wife and servants?  What of the knowledge that cannot be unlearned?

The Shape-Changer's Wife is the first Virtual Speculation pick that I did not read beforehand.  I wanted to include something by Sharon Shinn, having enjoyed Archangel, and coming across many references to the quality of this book decided me (the fact that one of the endorsements was by Peter S. Beagle increased my expectations).  Additionally, at 215 pages, The Shape-Changer's Wife makes for a quick read.

The story has elements of a fairy tale or fable throughout, including an iconic shape-shifters' duel of wit, skill, and ingenuity as they flow through forms to attack and defend.  The Shape-Changer's Wife is also something of a love story, but not in anyways a traditional romance novel, with a focus on discovery, hope, and loss rather than lust and marriage.

Discussion Fodder
  • What do you think about the science of shape-changing, the need to understand the mind and making of the body you occupy in order to become it?  
  • Do you think it would be more difficult shape-shift to the opposite gender or to an animal?  Would the similarity of species hurt or hinder the transformation?  How might gender identity effect shape shifting?
  • Is, as Glyrenden claims, flirtation and seduction a type of spell casting.
  • Does Glyrenden use magic besides transfiguration and illusion?  What sort of illusory magic does he cast on those around him?  Is, "the heart of magic illusion"?
  • Does Lilith's otherness stand out to you, or does she seem just a strange woman?  Why is Lilith so convincingly human, particularly in comparison to Arachne and Orion?
  • How does love effect magic?  Both the ability to be changed, and the ability to change.
  • How does learning to become a tree help Aubrey learn to love Lilith better, and to tip her ability to feel towards him?
  • Do you think the sheer amount of transformative magic on the land around Glyrenden's home imbued intelligence to the land and creatures?
  • Do you think the woman of the epilogue is Lilith?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

[Book Review] Rogue with a Brogue

Rogue with a Brogue / Suzanne Enoch (Powell's Books)

Arran MacLawry wants little to do with marriage or English politics, but his brother seems intent on entangling him in both with a politically advantageous marriage.  Mary Campbell is no stranger to being a pawn in politics, and knows eventually she'll have to marry as her family chooses.  The last person either of them should even associate with, let alone fall for, is each other.  The truce between the clans after generations of warfare is tenuous, and both sides are girding themselves for when it fails.  Could their attraction be the spark that sets their clans at each others' throats again?

Rogue with a Brogue, in addition to having a name that amuses me, has a good balance of plot and relationship development in relation to the amount of time the characters spend lusting after each other.  Arran and Mary grow from sparring words at a chance meeting, to learning to work together and trust each other, seasoned with a growing attraction.

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

[Book Review] Why Lords Lose Their Hearts

Why Lords Lose Their Hearts / Manda Collins

Perdita does not mourn the death of her husband as much as she should, but she has good reason.  However, the late Duke of Ormonde's death was not a natural one, and someone has been working to publicly bring the blame to Perdita.  Her closest family and friends wish to offer her safe haven, but Perdita dares not bring danger down on them.  However, her husband's former secretary, Lord Archer Lisle, refuses to let her face danger alone.  He may have been helpless to protect the Duchess from her husband, and he will be dammed if he lets her be hurt again.  Especially as she is the woman of his dreams.

The overall theme of Why Lords Lose Their Hearts seems to be finding love again after an abusive relationship.  It does not go into the types of scars that domestic abuse leaves, but instead focuses on learning to love and trust again.  The relationship between Perdita and Archer is rather sweet, and the friendships they have are touching.

I was delighted by the moment when Lord Archer's mother sits down with Perdita and inquires what Perdita's "intentions" towards her son were.  I'm used to the gentleman being asked that, but for the lady to be asked?  Priceless.  I think the final reveal of the villain and the nature of the relationship with the late Duke to be a bit much.

Overall a somewhat sweet romance novel, regardless of threat to the heroine.

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

Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Book Review] dr.a.g.

dr.a.g. / Christopher Logan (Powell's Books)
The book 'dr.a.g.', for dressed as girl is a photographic celebration of the top drag queens from around the globe, shot by fashion and celeb photographers. From New York drag icons Lady Bunny and Joey Arias, Vegas headliners Mr. Kenneth Blake and Frank Marino, and cast from multiple seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, dr.a.g. shows the spirit and passion of drag, and inspires with it's images.
dr.a.g. is a coffee-table book full of incredibly vibrant photographs.  The book showcases some of the artistry and transformation of drag queens of diverse styles.  One thing that stands out when flipping through the pages is the saturation of color, with photographs ranging from black and white to ultraviolet.  Gorgeous book.

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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Link Smorgasbord, June 2014

School cancels reading program rather than promote “hacker culture”

Ok, I can buy that Little Brother promotes "hacker culture" - along with independent thought, distrust for authorities, and standing up for what you believe is right.  I've read Little Brother and other YA novels by Doctorow, and I can easily say there is a far better dynamic with family (and even authority figures) than I have found in many books aimed at teens.  Little Brother is quite "teen friendly" in terms of content, and love it or hate it, Little Brother has a lot of fodder for discussion.

Personally, I want to challenge kids to think, and I am biased towards the political views of Little Brother.  That aside, we're dealing with a book that has been used successfully somewhat widely and is used in high school and college classrooms.  So obviously I feel they should have kept the book and gone forward.  Canceling the program instead of changing books strikes me as just ridiculous.

Amazon Stops Taking Advance Orders for ‘Lego’ and Other Warner Videos
This seems to be close to resolution at this point.

Powell's Happily Scrambled to Handle Colbert Bump
That must have been an interesting day at the office for Powell's.

Lie Like A Lady: The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots Of The Turing Test
Really interesting and informative read.

YouTube to block indie labels as subscription service launches
Argh.  Personally, I actually don't use YouTube often for music, but you can be sure that when I do, if I can't find it there I will simply use another source.  Some of the bands facing removal of video content have large followings, and YouTube is not the only place for video hosting.  I'm interested in seeing how this falls out... and potentially what rises as a result.

News about Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A
Angry Robot is one of my favorite publishers, they put out some exemplary Science Fiction.  I wanted to see where their YA and Mystery imprints would take them, but I respect their analysis of the markets they faced.

Amazon Pressing U.K. Publishers on Range of Issues
Amazon is playing hardball all over the place, and people aren't happy.

Retail in Real-Time
I thought this was neat, "Retail in Real-Time - a glimpse of how and where the US spends its cash and just how quickly these numbers grow."

FAA grounds Amazon’s drone delivery plans
For the time being.  Seems like Amazon may actually be serious about this idea.

S&S Makes E-Catalogue Available to All LibrariesProgress

BitLit is a platform that works with publishers to bundle print books with ebooks.  A handful of publishers are participating at this time.  To claim a book you take a cover photo and a copyright page photo (with your name written clearly in all caps at the top of the page), and once verified allows download to free or steeply discounted ebook copies in a variety of formats of your book.  I can see some risk for abuse, but hopefully the software that analyzes the photos can pick up on library markings (also, hopefully people aren't jerks, but... let's just say I'm jaded).