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Showing posts from July, 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…

A public librarian walks into an academic science library

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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 phot…

Please do yourself a favor...

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

Thank you.


[Book Review] The Game and the Governess

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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…

[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 w…

[Book Review] The Book of Life

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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 t…

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:
Book into a movieBiography or MemoirMystery/HorrorLove storyOutside the USAdventure StoryFantasy/Sci-FiClassicLocal AuthorReader'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.

[Book Review] The Steampunk Trilogy

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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 scie…

[Book Review] Garlic: the Mighty Bulb

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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.

[Book Review] Space Opera

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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,…

[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 cou…

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 …

[Book Review] The Shape-Changer's Wife

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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 a…

[Book Review] Rogue with a Brogue

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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 g…

[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 touchin…

[Book Review] dr.a.g.

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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.

Link Smorgasbord, June 2014

School cancels reading program rather than promote “hacker culture”
*headdesk*

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 rid…