Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The politeness of librarians

“Librarians, Dusty, possess a vast store of politeness. These are people who get asked regularly the dumbest questions on God's green earth. These people tolerate every kind of crank and eccentric and mouth breather there is.”

-Garrison Keillor, Dusty and Lefty: The Lives of the Cowboys

Monday, October 20, 2014

[Book Review] An Oath Taken

An Oath Taken / Diana Cosby

Sir Nicholas Beringar has come to Ravenmoore Castle with the task of rebuilding the neglected castle and repairing the abused relations with the locals.  Acting on a whim he brings the desperate lad who tries to rob him in instead as a squire.  He sees a young boy, too thin, too secretive, and too scared, but his mind isn't sure what to make of young Thomas, who is actually the Lady Elizabet Armstrong seeking to free her wrongly imprisoned family.  The only way out is to trust each other, but can they?

Overall, I'd say this is an about average romance novel.  Neither horrible nor amazing.  There was lust aplenty, but it left me wanting (and not in a hot and heavy way).  I don't expect high accuracy in historical romance, since, lets be honest, its more there as a backdrop, but some things still bother me, and I'm not a fan of certain tropes.

First off, I'm not so sure the author understands the size of a claymore, and how fighting with one works.  To quote a friend of mine, the claymore is used for "the Scottish martial art of Dink-Thud."  These are large swords, with a length just under 5', and fantastic for field battles.  More of a hack and crush weapon, and quite possibly one that you leave embedded in your dying enemy as you grab theirs and continue on killing their friends.

Long story short, these are not effective "dueling in dungeon hallways" weapons.  Nor really effective for short range "stab through the heart" weapons.

I also don't really have much patience for "mortal threat of rape" troupe that comes up in romance novels.  Comic books have a problem with women in refrigerators, romance novels have the threat of brutal defilement.  At least the woman is expected to live in a romance novel.  But the villain in this story is so two dimensional he's a waxed mustache away from being Snidely Whiplash.  He wants to rape Elizabet, wants her to to hate his touch, wants it to be an act of possession and defilement.  He likes that she's a fighter, and doesn't want to "break her" too quickly because her fight will make the rape more fun for him.  He's slime and while he ostensibly has other offenses against both Elizabet's brother and her fiance, really all he cares about is violating her (and using that to make the men suffer before he kills them, and likely her).

Of course, we have the woman disguised as a boy falling in love with the man she serves (and he having all sorts of confused feelings that he's not comfortable with).  This can totally be a fun troupe, but didn't stand out in any sort of amazing execution.  However, I now have an itch for a M-M version of this, where a young man disguises himself as a woman, and the (obviously) handsome and powerful man he serves starts having confused feelings about this "lady."  This has to exist somewhere, now to find it.

If you're a fan of Diana Cosby, this book likely will make for an enjoyable read.  If you're looking for a historical romance with good depth, character development, and really steamy sex scenes, it might not satisfy.

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

[Book Review] Protecting His Witch

Protecting His Witch / Zoe Forward

Kat Ramsey is happy living a normal life and working as a veterinarian, but life just isn't quite normal for her.  She can pick up on thoughts and has this unwanted (and uncontrolled) tendency to dimension shift.  Most of the time, however, she keeps things under control.  But one night she ends up dimension hopping right into a high-end benefit dinner, that just happens to be hosted by a one-night stand from college that she can't forget.  Unfortunately she also can't forget how things ended, with his screaming girlfriend showing up and her ending up in the hallway of the dorm, naked.

Matthew Ryan has money, power, and looks.  But ever since the disastrous end to the best night of his life, he's had this curse hanging over his love life.  When Kat stumbles into his life again his first thought is to get out of the curse... an intent largely subsumed by his attraction to her.  Now he has to keep her safe and help her learn what she is, with the clock running against them and lust running high.

First off, I have to say I don't think I've yet to read a romance novel with a dominant alpha male lead who cares as much about her consent as Matthew does in this book.  Rock on, Matthew.  Kat takes it a little amiss that she's being turned down, but I'm wholly siding with Matthew who's worried that she's acting on the tails of an adrenaline rush (after being abducted, concussed, nearly killed, and then rescued).
"Tell me you want this."  His eyes were so dilated that the blue was almost lost...

"I need to know you want this, wildcat.  And that you're okay. That your arm doesn't hurt too much.  That your head is OK from yesterday."  He rained kisses from her ear to her collarbone.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is an author making affirmative consent both in the moment and sexy.  Actually, there's a bit more to the passage that makes it hot and heavy, that edit cuts most of it out.

There's good push and pull between Matthew and Kat.  Attraction and misunderstanding warring as the two of them work through their past, their feelings, and who they both actually are.  The sexual tension between the two is palatable, but not assumed.  When they get down to it the scenes are steamy.  Additionally, there is good play between the protagonists and other characters in the story, and of course, some set up for a future book's love match.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

[Book Review] Dresden Files: War Cry

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files : War Cry / Jim Butcher & Carlos Gomez (Powell's Books)

For fans of the Dresden File this is a great addition, but probably should be read slightly outside of the chronological order of the books unless you don't mind a spoiler for Turn Coat.  We all know that Harry gets up to all sorts of things between books, sometimes these other adventures are even referenced, but it takes short stories and comic book arcs to fill in the details.

War Cry features a story of Dresden on a mission as a Warden during the war with the Red Court, something we don't get to see much in the novels.  We also really don't get to see Dresden often in the role of group leader and mentor to a group of powerful young wizards, something that has a slightly different dynamic than when he works with Murphy, Michael, the Alphas, or even Molly.  Even better than all of that for me is that we get more about the Outsiders, and it turns out that they are explicitly Lovecraftian in nature.  Awesome (I have a weak spot for eldritch horrors that man is not meant to know).

The story told in this graphic novel is a good addition to the tales of Harry Dresden.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Link Smorgasbord, September 2014

Rupert Giles, MLS
A class listing for how to be as awesome as Giles.

Radical Librarianship: how ninja librarians are ensuring patrons' electronic privacy
On what fellow librarians have been getting up to in this state.  Makes me miss being in a position to actually have some say over efforts like this.

5 Ways Colorado Libraries Are Going Beyond Books
From streaming content to skulls, libraries are more than books.

Analysis of Privacy Leakage on a Library Catalog Webpage
Something I think we need to be watching out for as librarians.  We try to protect privacy, but we need to make sure we're doing what we can across all of our services.

Sign-Up Selfies: How Patrons #GetCarded at Escondido Public Library
Fun (and simple) library sign-up activity that doubles as community connection and outreach.

Libraries Balk at OverDrive Changes
Of course we balk, because we don't know if it's actually an improvement (privacy speaking) over the old system.  Now, there are issues with the whole Adobe ID thing, but from what I've read the OverDrive change doesn't necessarily remove Adobe from the equation, and if you read from a number of digital platforms, and Adobe ID can actually serve as a universal ID.  Personally, I'm dubious about if this is better overall, though it does seem to be an easier registration system for borrowing just through OverDrive.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming
Not a new article, but one I really enjoy.  Possibly one I've posted before but I can't really remember.

Younger Americans and Public Libraries : How those under 30 engage with libraries and think about libraries’ role in their lives and communities
A nicely granular examination of use by 'younger' American library users, with some indications that libraries are considered just as important as ever, if not more, by the younger users.

Damn You Auto Suggest
Auto-suggest failures from library catalogs and databases.  Some of these are killing me.

The Future of The Future of Books
Pretty awesome article on the "future of books" (and for all that it's on BuzzFeed it is not a list of photos with captions).

Please Stop “Celebrating” Banned Books Week
This has a great point.  By "celebrating" Banned Books Week we are creating a situation where-in the scandal is advertisement.  We need to remember to make Banned Books Week about intellectual freedom, about why we fight against censorship, and to open discussions on freedom of thought and learning.

'Bookcycle' peddles a new take on feminism
The "Feminist Library on Wheels."

Unshelved Goes Digital
A project to release ebooks of a really fun library related comic, with an adorably cute Card Catalog USB drive and stretch goals that involve making these ebooks free to libraries to loan.  The folks that write Unshelved are really awesome folks as well.

Monday, October 13, 2014

[Book Review] Lovecraft's Monsters

Lovecraft's Monsters / Ellen Datlow (ed)

H. P. Lovecraft made famous beings from fever dreams and hallucinatory nightmares.  These monsters in turn have grown as they catch our imagination and create new additions to the mythos.  Lovecraft's Monsters is an excellently curated collection of Lovecraftian tales set largely in the now or in the cthonian aftermath.  Renowned authors have created enhancing and unsettling tales. Further enhancing this collection each story starts with its own eerie illustration, and the book closes with an informative appendix for each of the monsters and their literary birth.

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

[Book Review] Unexpected Stories

Unexpected Stories / Octavia E. Butler

Unexpected Stories is a short book containing intriguing stories by Butler.  In "A Necessary Being" the reader falls into the culture of utterly alien 'others', yet immersive enough to make the unfamiliar familiar.  "Childfinder" delves into a what-if of telepathy and control.  Both stories delve into explorations of ethics, culture, will, and loneliness.  Perhaps an aptly named book, as the stories themselves are unexpected.

One thing that does confuse me is the cover art - it has no relevance that I can tell to the stories, and while pretty, the bird is very poorly edited onto the open hands.

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