Showing posts from 2015

My Arisia 2016 Schedule

I've got some awesome panels this year, though I did have to drop one.  If you're attending Arisia hope to see you around. Lovecraftian Intimacy: Body Horror & Mind Melds (Sat 2:30 PM, Mariana 2) Can you have noneuclidean love triangles? In this panel, we'll discuss telepathic bonds & body horror & how they play upon themes of separation, alienation & intimacy. These two tropes present with very different connotations and judgments placed upon them. Telepathic bonds are often portrayed in positive terms, where body horror has its connotation in its name. Are there instances where the horror of telepathy comes forward or where change and melding of the physical body are seen as positive?  The Drowning World (Sat 8:30PM, Mariana 1) From The Water Knife to Hurricane Fever, how are science fiction and fantasy taking on climate change, and what second order consequences are we missing? The Future of Disability in Literature (Sun 8:30PM, Mariana 2

YOLO Book Club

That's right, YOLO.  Because the teens decided that Teen Advisory Board was super boring, and settled on one of the options that works as an acronym for YOLO (I think it's Youth Offering Library Opinions).  Totally fair opinion, and it is their group. For clarification purposes, I'm not a Youth Services or even a Teen Services Librarian, though I'd totally love to work as the latter (but not the former).  Actually, at this library I'm not even working in an official librarian position, but rather in a non-professional supervisory position, not that it stops me from librarianing (small library, and the only librarian position besides Director is Youth Services).  I like finding projects and challenges to try out, and that's been a really important part of my professional career to this point. We have a really amazing Youth Services Librarian, who is super busy with everything but is actively trying to increase teen engagement in the library (including the

[Book Review] Midnight Taxi Tango + Giveaway

Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba) / Daniel Jose Older Coming out on January 5th, Midnight Taxi Tango !  Get ready by reading the first book in the series, and enter for a chance to win a copy of Half-Resurrection Blues .  Giveaway open through January 5, 2016! Midnight Taxi Tango is available for pre-order ! Kia may only be 16, but she's a force of nature and with growing experience to the supernatural thanks to her work at Baba Eddie's bot├ínica and friendship with Carlos.  A series of violent "accidental" deaths in a small region aren't merely coincidence, and events conspire to bring separate players onto the same playing field.  And pieces from Kia's past aren't so gone as she thought they were. There is so much I loved about this book, and the filthy mouthed librarian that is pulled in just is icing on the cake. Half-Resurrection Blues really set the stage for Midnight Taxi Tango , introducing us to Carlos' world and the existe

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 18

The battle was won, but the aftermath still must be faced. We are filled in on the heroics and despair that wove through the day.  Our original party is down by three, though Thorin does get a chance to make amends with Bilbo and break free of the spell the dragon hoard cast over him.  Fili and Kili fell defending Thorin, who would have fallen in battle if it wasn't for the fury of Beorn. Beorn himself is probably the biggest factor in the tide of battle.  The eagles were big, but Beorn is in many ways a force of nature himself. With Thorin and the last of his line fallen, his cousin Dain becomes King Under the Mountain.  Dain honors the deals made, and shovels out a 14th share of the hoard.  Laketown ends up with more wealth than it knows what to do with, enough that it can't really even give it away.  As was mentioned earlier, we're talking ridiculous amounts of wealth. The forces of good have won a huge victory with the battle of the five armies, with the g

[Book Review] The Empire Ascendant

The Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Saga #2) / Kameron Hurley The dark star Oma is on the rise, bringing splintered realities back into alignment while tearing the outliers apart.  The worlds must be reunited into a single reality, but crossing over is only possible when your analog is dead.  Invading empires crash into and over the existing nations, and their hope for salvation lies in the hands of a scullery maid and illegitimate ruler.  But at what cost, and who do you trust when the enemy has the face of those you love? This sequel to The Mirror Empire gives no mercy to its readers, diving in immediately on the heels of a cataclysmic ending.  The plots twine around each other as the end of the world approaches and last hopes die. Recommended for fans of Game of Thrones and The Emperor's Blades .  Intricate, unforgiving, and fascinating. Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Angry Robot Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galle

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 17

In which everything comes to a head. Thorin... well he's matching a bit of what we've been seeing in the movie.  On revelation about the Arkenstone, Thorin expresses anger, disbelief, and violence.  "Why should I purchase my own?"  The gold has enough hold on Thorin's senses and his pride that Gandalf's reappearance and support of Bilbo's actions and words leads Thorin to believe they are all in a conspiracy against him. It is probably worth remembering that Thorin has yet to show himself as any sort of strong leader.  He has the birth right, the dreams, the pride, and possibly the charisma, but he has yet to lead on his own.  Our "burglar" has a better concept of what it takes to lead than Thorin, and considerably more charity, sacrificing his entire share of the treasure in order to avert a war that he could simply slip away from.  Gandalf's chastisement of "You are not making a very splendid figure as King Under the Mountain,&q

Spoilers, Sweetie

I'll be starting up as a contributor over at 5 Minute Librarian 's Spoilers, Sweetie  new review feature.   By and large, these reviews won't be showing up on this blog - I try to avoid spoilers as a courtesy, and they'll be conveniently held on a blog specifically for  spoilers.  This doesn't mean I won't link to my content over there, but at that point you will have been warned that I'm ruining the surprise. Right now we (the various contributors) are picking from a list of book award winners.  I have my name down for Three Body Problem , Saga , and Lock-In .  Something will be up within the next two weeks for these (hey, deadlines!). Interestingly enough, I did  say at the beginning of the year one of my goals was to be published somewhere, and then as life tipped back into insanity I let that slide.  This kind of does meet that goal in an almost trollish way.

[Book Review] Rat Queens Deluxe Hardcover Volume 1

Rat Queens Deluxe Hardcover Volume 1  / Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchrurch (ill), and Stjepan Sejic (ill) ( Powell's Books ) Have you read Rat Queens ?  Why the hell not?  Seriously, stop reading this review and go find a copy to read right now. Rat Queens Deluxe Hardcover collects the first two trade paperbacks of Rat Queens , Sass and Sorcery (Volume 1)  and The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth (Volume 2) into a single set (I'm assuming the whole hardcover bit lacks any need for further explanation). Now, I wasn't unaware of Rat Queens , but for the sake of my wallet I actually try to avoid the comic store beyond picking up my limited (and slowly growing) comic pulls.  So I skirted reading it.  Then I came across this blurb: "This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that reads like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!" Where can I sign up for this? I don't even know where to start on

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 16

The siege continues, Thorin's obsession teeters into madness, and Bilbo plots treason. Well, at least it's treason to the King Under the Mountain, but let's be honest, Bilbo's been the de facto leader for some time now even if everyone pretends he isn't.  Unfortunately pride and greed has gotten in the way of reason on both sides, with Laketown demanding a full twelfth of the treasure and nuking any chance of reasonable discussion. In many ways Bilbo has reached the apex of his growth into a hero, facing down not only what amounts to an entire army but risking expulsion from the company of his friends.  In facing Smaug the worst aspect was the unknown, the moment in the dark where everything that could go wrong flashed through his mind.  He's faced down his own fears and real monsters, but this is the first time he takes an action that actively betrays a friend's trust and desire no matter if he's acting in the over all best interests.  His hero&#

[Book Review] Fair Weather

Bookburners: Fair Weather (Season 1, Episode 3)  / Margaret Dunlap, Brian Francis Slattery, Max Gladstone, and Mur Lafferty Even the best magical tools in the world cannot always predicted impending disaster, but at least this one's close to home.  Still, a smoking pile or rubble where a bookstore should be in this case is a good sign that the team is too late (in other cases it could  indicate that Bookburners were already there...). The Bookburners have a collector to deal with, entangled civilians, and a leaking demonic book. Just another day at the office? Excellent continuation of the series, it just keeps getting better. Episode 1 review here Episode 2 review here Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Serial Box via Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Well, at least the kobolds are gone

In our first adventure, no one died to kobold falling rock traps.   The players had their training wheels dungeon crawl, so now I get to start messing around with things.  Our monk couldn't make it, but we had the addition of a bard by the friend who was the peanut gallery last time. The towns folk are happy, the baby-stealing kobolds have been eradicated, and our neophite heroes can spend a few days resting on their laurels. Until another baby goes missing. Now, clearly I'm used to a specific type of gamer.  The ones that decide to poke at everything .  Instead I get the ones that go "Oh, there was a crime?  Let's find the sheriff!"  Come on guys, stop making me come up with characters on the fly As indicated above, the players wanted to find the sheriff's deputy (the sheriff did show up, but they still wouldn't take the bait).  So en-route they encountered a hysterical and panicked woman, babbling something about her brother, her sister-in-law, a

Book Talking Comics for Teens - YALSA 2015 Top Ten

So, a series of events today led me to unexpectedly book talking comic books to a handful of teens at my library. The basis was YALSA's 2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list.  Great start, but not enough about each title to really talk about it.  So time for research (and some quick reading).  I also wanted to see which titles we had available as ebooks. Let's expand a little on that list and add in some additional recommendations.  Disclaimer, I have not read everything listed, this is based on a mix of what I have read combined with research.  In my defense, I had a few hours, not a few days, to prepare for this. 1. Afterlife with Archie / Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla Jughead convinces Sabrina to resurrect Hotdog, after the beloved pet is run over by a car.  Unfortunately, meddling with dark forces has consequences, with Hotdog as a vector for a zombie outbreak, and the ever-hungry Jughead as patient zero. Noteworthy is that this

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 15

We're nearing the end now, with only a few chapters to go. The dwarfs learn of the fall of Smaug and of the forming armies.  Wisdom also comes from an ancient raven (not crow, which are "nasty suspicious looking creatures"), advising the party to not trust the Master of Laketown, but that Bard will meet them true, and that peace may cost dear in gold.  As we might expect, Thorin gets angry at the messenger.  Dragons and dwarfs are not so different when it comes to guarding gold, and the last chapter shared how dwarven courage and pride is inflated by riches. Again we get dwarven music, "much like the song they had sung long before in Bilbo's little hobbit-hole," but about might and power not seeking to reclaim a home long lost.  Point of note - this can be sung to the same tune(s) as the Misty Mountain song.  Bilbo, is right to note the change in sound, singing of "foes shall fall," is a departure from their starting goals and intent. I&

Running behind

Running behind on the Hobbit post for today... will try to get it up by Tuesday night, but I am aiming for sooner.

[Book Review] Dreams of Maryam Tair

Dreams of Maryam Tair : Blue Boots and Orange Blossoms  / Mhani Alaoui ( Powell's Books ) Dreams of Maryam Tair  is nested and parallel tales, knotted together by lives and stories.  It is a book of culture, belief, myth, legend, and magic.  Revolt in Casablanca, intertwined beliefs, and lives written out of history.  Sheherazade and Lilith, God and Adam, a story that has happened and is yet to happen, and a girl who carries the scent of orange blossoms.  The power of words and knowledge. "Her mother taught her how to create talismans from discarded words and objects. And Zohra knew, instinctively, that the small pieces of paper or raw leather that were given to barren women and impotent men were covered with the very signs and symbols that she had glimpsed in the Green Book and that were forever inscribed in her memory. She poached in the green pastures of endless phrases and wisdoms with her own chants and incantations. She transformed old men's fortresses into wil

Link Smorgasbord, November 2015

ComicBlitz Launches Unlimited Comic Book Subscription Service for the iPad Pretty cool, but like everything else in the digital reading subscription game, still has a ways to go. Library Science Fiction: “Tomes and Talismans” This just sounds super cool to me, some day maybe I'll even have a chance to watch it. Canva for Nonprofits Great tool for creating graphic media, now available in full for non-profits. Entire editorial staff of Elsevier journal Lingua resigns over high price, lack of open access This... is kind of amazing. Victory for Users: Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses Always a good direction. 2015 World Fantasy Awards Ballot Sherri S. Tepper won a life-time achievement award!  Also, how did I not realize that this was happening within my range of reasonable to attend events?  AAAAAH! Anne Frank’s diary in a copyright law paradox 70 years after her death For those interested in copyright and complications. This Trun

[Book Review] Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway / Seanan McGuire ( Powell's Books ) Eleanor West collects children who have slipped through the cracks and come back changed, reaching out to parents who no longer know their children, offering to help their lost boys and girls.  A boarding school asylum for children seemingly driven insane by unknown trauma. The children who Eleanor gathers aren't crazy, they've slipped through doorways open only to them and into other worlds.  Worlds where their experiences changed and shaped them, worlds with monsters and magic, worlds where the rules of reality differ strongly from our own.  The school is an asylum not for damaged children, but a shelter from a world unable to understand them while teaching the students how to fit in until they find their door again. The school may be the safest place for these changelings, but darkness lurks with an agenda of its own. Excellent read, one that will appeal to both teen and adult readers without pandering

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 14

While our adventurers huddle in the dark caverns, Smaug's approach brings terror and horror to the citizens of Lake-town. Tolkien does a lot with very few pages in this chapter.  The battle is framed, and the motivations and intentions of our actors are laid out. The guards of Lake-town (which I now realize is named Esgaroth) mount a defense against the incoming dragon while the Master seeks to save himself among the confused panic.  We get their determination and desperation, as well as Smaug's cunning and hunger. We also meet Bard, not a man haunted by legacy or the derision of the town, but a man known for his grim-outlook but also for his worth and courage.  He stands as the captain of the archers holding the line against Smaug's wrath, and as the man the thrush brings news from the mountain.  The black arrow is one of legacy, but not one of legend, an arrow that has served Bard and his father well over the years.  An arrow used by a normal man with a normal

[Book Review] Mythmaker

Mythmaker / Marianne de Pierres ( Powell's Books ) Previously reviewed: Peacemaker Virgin’s in a tight spot. A murder rap hangs over her head and isn’t likely to go away unless she agrees to work for an organisation called GJIC with Nate Sixkiller as her immediate boss. Being blackmailed is one thing, discovering that her mother is both alive and the President of GJIC is quite another. Then there’s the escalation of Mythos sightings, and the bounty on her head. Oddly, the strange and dangerous Hamish Burns is the only one she can rely on. Virgin’s life gets… untidy. Mythmaker picks up immediately on the heels of Peacemaker , with Virginia tangled up in the aftermath of the Mythos incursions and revelations about both her mother and GJIC. Unfortunately for Virginia, things are just getting worse.  Local law enforcement has a axe to grind, the Mythos appearances are increasing rapidly, and agents are instigating war between factions for their own gain. Like Peacema

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 13

Trapped in the dark, our party is forced into action by necessity. Bilbo and the dwarfs spend days in the darkness, waiting on the dragon's return, and it's again Bilbo who takes the lead. "Come, come!" he said.  "'While there's life there's hope!' as my father used to say, and 'Third time pays for all.'  I am going down  the tunnel once again.  I have been that way twice, when I knew there was a dragon at the other end, so I will risk a third visit when I am no longer sure.  Anyway the only way out is down.  And I think this time you had better all come with me." The Dwarfs, making quite the dwarfish racket too, follow the hobbit's lead to some extent.  These dwarfs are cautious, worried about their own skins, even when all signs indicate that Smaug is no where in residence.  Most notably is the lack of light.  They're in the middle of a mountain, and Smaug himself gave off a burning glow. Ultimately I think it'

[Book Review] Anywhere But Here

Bookburners: Anywhere But Here (Season 1, Episode 2) / Brian Francis Slattery, Margaret Dunlap, Max Gladstone, and Mur Lafferty Episode 1 was an eerie bite-sized read filled with demonic books, magic, and possessions.  Episode 2 just goes into a whole other universe of creepy weird.  A demon reaching out through a book to possess your brother is horrific, and the aftermath brutal, but Sal Brooks is learning that's just the tip of the iceburg in her new line of work. Things might have gotten much worse if not for the disappearance of two little girls alerting the neighbors to something wrong.  But still things had progressed to a point of no return and it's up to the Bookburners to perform triage. Entrancing and weird, a great continuation of the story. I still desperately want to LARP in this setting. Episode 1 review  here Episode 3 review here Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Serial Box via Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text

[Book Review] Wrong Number, Right Guy

Wrong Number, Right Guy  / Elle Casey ( Powell's Books ) On first glance, May is the type of girly-girl who you'd expect to be a ditz.  Which means she sticks out like a sore thumb when she walks into a dive bar frequented by biker gangs, all dolled up in pink with her chihuahua-mix in her purse.  Of course, first glance leaves out the fact that she's been running her own business for years and is the rock her older sister relies upon as a single mother with three kids.  Which ultimately is what brings her to Frankie's, and into Ozzie's life, after she mis-attributes a wrong number text. First impressions aren't so great between May and Ozzie. For one thing, he's sporting a beard that puts May in mind of a "duck dynasty nut job."  For another, someone's shooting at them as he knocks her down and half drags her out of the bar.   Now Ozzie's cover is blown, and May's been implicated as an accomplice and is at risk.  What starts out

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 12

Wherein Bilbo is sassy to everyone, we get to meet a dragon, and Laketown pays for everyone's hubris. I've said it before, and now Tolkien is saying it,  the dwarfs are not heroes .  This is not their hero story, it's Bilbo's. "The most that can be said of dwarves is this: they intended to pay Bilbo really handsomely for his services; they had brought him to do a nasty job for them, and they did not mind the poor little fellow doing it if he would; but they had would have done their best to get him out of trouble, if he got into it, as they did in the case of the trolls at the beginning of their adventures before they had any particular reason for being grateful to him.  There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect much." Bilbo's been gradually finding

[Book Review] Bitch Planet (Volume 1)

Bitch Planet (Volume 1) / Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro ( Powell's Books ) I don't even know where to start with this review.  I'd been aware of Bitch Planet for some time, and it totally seemed like my jam from what I heard, but I just didn't get around to reading it.  And then I did.  Holy shit. GO READ BITCH PLANET NOW Embracing the outrageousness of 70's exploitation films, Bitch Planet channels the irony of a culture that calls women who dare to push against objectification "angry feminists," into a piece about the anger of those who feel the caging bars of cultural expectations. The comic is magnificent with a sort fervent insanity that reminds me of what drew me into Tank Girl .  There's an embracing of women's bodies as they are, and a celebration of rebellion against controlling gender expectations. These women have a reason to be angry.  Not quite chattle in a society that explicitly tells them that they ar

[Book Review] Ravishing Ruby

Ravishing Ruby / Lavinia Kent Previously reviewed in this series: Mastering the Marquess Revealing Ruby Bound by Bliss Sarah's Surrender Madame Ruby runs a premier pleasure house in London, where gentlemen come to indulge in their varied desires.  But never with Ruby herself. But for one night, Ruby let her hair down, and visited the compellingly attractive Captain Derek Prince as the delicate Emma Scanton for a night of unforgettable passion. It's been months since that encounter, after which the Captain sailed away without a trace and Emma is tucked away except for visiting her grandparents on Sundays.  Life goes back to normal. Until Derek returns, falling back into Ruby's life, and her bed, like he never left.  Only, he's engaged to another woman, and forces in Ruby's life are coming to a head and she must chose if she wishes to hold on to her life with her family, or become Ruby and only Ruby from now on. As can be expected from Lavinia Kent

[Book Review] The Sandman: Overture

The Sandman: Overture / Neil Gaiman, J. H. Williams III, & Dave Stewart A precursor of sorts to his original Sandaman series, though in telling the stories of Dream respect for time is more of a courtesy than necessity.  Not truly an origin story, but a story of what came before Preludes & Nocturnes . Gaiman gives us a glimpse of Dream not just as an Endless, but as an Endless out of place with his family and the world around him.  We see the insanity of stars, the power of dreams, and the instability of reality.  The story is dark, about the destruction of worlds not just individual lives, but darkness is still expected in world where creatures such as the Corinthian exists. The art is lovely, rich, and jarring, illustrating pictures of madness and unreality.  There's a saturation that doesn't exist in the original comics.  The art shifts and changes, both in style and orientation, delivering different realities.  I strongly recommend reading this in print, as