Showing posts from October, 2015

Link Smorgasbord, October 2015

I'm a Librarian Who Banned a Book: Here's Why Really worth a read. The UK’s New Consumer Rights Act Will Protect The Right to Return eBooks Neat Virtual Privacy Lab - San Jose Public Library This is pretty cool On The Radical Notion That Women Are People An author reflecting on feminist science fiction, and the sociopolitical issues of today vs those of 40 years ago. Paperless Post Cute It could be worse A disturbing read, but one worth reading.  The speculative nature of the post is uncomfortably realistic. The gamification of social conformity, overseen by an authoritarian government and mediated by nudge theory , is a thing of beauty and horror; who needs cops with nightsticks to beat up dissidents when their friends and family will give them a tongue-lashing on behalf of the government for the price of a discount off a new fridge?  But don't worry, I could make it a whole lot worse. 20 Design Rules You Should Never Break Some really good guidelines

Rocks fall, no one died!

After nearly 8 years together, and some 15 years of friendship, my spouse finally turned to me and said the magic words. "I think I want to try Dungeons & Dragons" FINALLY! The trick seems to be getting him to think it was his own idea.  He knew I wanted to get him to try D&D or some other RPG system, but I had learned to by and large leave the topic alone.  It seems me watching/listening to D&D games on YouTube was the final snare in arousing interest.  For those curious, over the past year or so I've been watching Acquisitions Incorporated , Titansgrave (not D&D, I know), and Critical Role . Also, this means I'm finally taking a stab as Dungeon Master.  While introducing my other half to role-playing.  No pressure... I told him that if he pulls together a group of friends, I'll run a game for them.  We have lots of mutual friends, and I easily can pull together a gaming group from people I know, but this is in many ways is starting out

[Book Display] Do you believe in magic?

I bet you have the song stuck in your head now.  You're welcome.  My question is are you thinking the original, McDonald's, or Team Fortress 2? Well, in case you don't have the song stuck in your head, here's the "Meet the Pyro" video from Team Fortress 2 (Warning: video game gore and twisted humor) So, it's October.  That means I get to do my Halloween inspired book display.  I decided against doing "So you think you can seance?" or "What a witch!" settling with the this post's title as theme. I swear I did not intend for yet another display that could include Harry Potter . For this one I went for books on magic, magicians, witches, paranormal, and general paranatural.  In other words, I have a display that I get to put as much fantasy on it as I want.  If anything, the challenge became in limiting the fantasy titles. Interestingly, several people asked why I did a display with so many fantasy titles for October,

[Book Review] The Peripheral

The Peripheral  / William Gibson ( Powell's Books ) Rather late review for the September Speculative Fiction read. The Peripheral  could be considered a successor to Stephenson's Snow Crash , with it's blurring of lines between meat space and cyber space.  The country and economy as we know it isn't quite there, with business and money carving new territories, fabbing and building consuming the manufacturing infrastructure, and a blending of internet and virtual reality.  Instead of a hacker samauri and a skatergirl we have a veterans with PTSD and amputations, a younger sister with a knack for virtual reality, and money from the future playing its own game. Discussion Fodder: Did the characters make a Faustian bargain (regardless of the lottery involvement or not)?  Who's the devil in this story? Who and what in the story is real? Do the actions in Flynne's time and Netherton's time actually have no effect on each other's future/past?  By the

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 9

Escaped from the spiders, but still in Mirkwood, our party is in a sorry state. Thorin is missing, their gear and weapons gone, and all weary and hungry.  Capture and time spent as prisoners makes for an improvement over their present conditions. "There was no thought of a fight.  Even if the dwarves had not been in such a state that they were actually glad to be captured, their small knives, the only weapons they had, would have been no use against the arrows of the elves that could hit a bird's eye in the dark.  So they simply stopped dead and sat down and waited - all except Bilbo, who popped on his ring and slipped quickly to one side." Things don't look so good. The Elvenking is cagey and suspicious.  The dwarfs are unbound not so much as a show of kindness, but a show of power.  They are broken wretches within a fortress with magically sealed doors.  Even proud Thorin teeters on the brink of offering a ransom from Smaug's horde, an extreme low for

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 8

Spiders.  Why did it have to be spiders? I'm not so good with excessive mouth parts. Again our party has left a home of refuge to head into darkness, only this time on their own volition and perhaps better prepared for what they face ahead.  Or better prepared in theory. The dwarfs repeatedly display impetuous behavior to their folly, with Bilbo stepping up in the guardian role Gandalf gave to him.  The dwarfs waste the last of their arrows in excitement on seeing deer, though they are all to blame for leaving the path.  But Bilbo finds the boat and devises how to retrieve it, rescues the dwarfs from the spiders, like Gandalf at the goblin caves, remaining free when the dwarfs again are captured in the dark.  Not only that, but the dwarfs begin to look to Bilbo for direction and planning, as they would of Gandalf. The goblins and orcs are a twisting of elves by Melkor, one of the Ainur of Middle-Earth and something of an analog for Lucifer, who was jealous of Eru'

[Book Review] An Apprentice to Elves

An Apprentice to Elves (The Iskryne #3)  / Elizabeth Bear &Sarah Monette ( Powell's Books ) Alfgya would no doubt chafe against restrictions and tradition no matter where she was raised.  Raised as much by the wolfheal's trellwolves as by her father, then apprenticed to the svartalfar mastersmith Tin, she's split between natures and cultures and standing representative of the alliance between humans and alfar.  But cultures take more to bridge than a single woman, and the Rheans encroach and threaten the men of the North. The first thing that stood out to me when reading An Apprentice to Elves is that we are no longer following Isolfr's story, but that of his daughter Alfgyfa.  She is a fantastic protagonist, exceptional in her own way, but living life as a growing child and woman. If you're starting the series with this book the first thing you may notice that the "elves" are not the Tolkien standard of tall, fair, pretty humanoids with pointed

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 7

Chapter 7 gives our party of adventurers a brief rest, introduces a new ally, and we bid a temporary farewell to Gandalf.  "I always meant to see you all safe (if possible) over the mountains," said the wizard, "and now by good management and  good luck I have done it.  Indeed we are now a good deal further east than I ever meant to come with you, for after all this is not my adventure. I may look in on it again before it is all over but in the meanwhile I have some other pressing business to attend to." In this chapter we get snippets of the world at large, of adventures and dangers beyond what Bilbo will encounter on his way to the Lonely Mountain.  We hear of other wizards and of the Necromancer, of other's feuds with the goblins, and we even get more song from the dwarfs. I've always wondered what exactly about Beorn's home makes it the Queer Lodgings.  They've certainly stayed in stranger locations, including the eagle's aerie, an

Book club starter ideas

Over the past few weeks I've been asked to do a bunch of brainstorming for book club suggestions, coming up with a few suggestions and themes that could be proposed as a starting point for different reading groups.  The end result is a collection of "seeds" for book clubs that are at this point, largely unused. The biggest challenge for me in doing this is avoiding SF/F picks, since I read so much of it.  It generally is hard to support a SF/F book club with a small population, and the standard book club population that one tends to encounter tends not to be fans of SF/F.   We also specifically avoided mystery, due to a very well established Mystery Book Club at a neighboring library that many of our patrons already attend. So, in case anyone else needs some inspiration in coming up with book club ideas, feel free to borrow from here if any of this catches your eye. Land far Away The lacuna / Barbara Kingsolver A spear of summer grass / Deanna Raybourn Love in t

[Book Review] Chivalrous

Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts #2)  / Dina L. Sleiman ( Powell's Books ) Born female means no matter how much she wishes to be a knight, Gwendolyn Barnes is expected to become a wife and a mother, hopefully to the political benefit of her parents.  When the plans of her domineering father to wed her to a brutish man come to light, Gwendolyn must fight for herself or utterly surrender.  In her struggle she finds an unexpected ally in a handsome newcomer, a man seeking his place in the world and instead finds Gwendolyn. I couldn't hold an interest in this book.  It's not necessarily poorly written, though it could use a little polishing for less of a "checking off the plot points" feeling.  It just utterly failed to compel or engage me in any way. I may also be the wrong audience for this.  It's supposedly Young Adult, but had more of a Middle Reader feel.  I can see someone 8 to 10 really liking this book. It may also be worth noting that this is Christia

[Book Review] Salt

Salt  / Adam Roberts I added this as a book club pick based on the strength of its reviews, described as a 'landmark' novel and compared against works of Heinlein and Le Guin.  As it turns out, Salt  is out of print and not anywhere in my state's library system.  As it also turns out, I feel horribly betrayed by the reviews that led to this selection. Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed is a landmark novel in science fiction. Not only for being one of, if not the best description of a functioning anarchy, the message it delivers—emphasized by the transcendent conclusion—remains relevant to this day due to the political circumstances which have perpetuated. Grabbing the anarchist-authoritarian dichotomy in Le Guin’s tale and running with it, Adam Robert’s Salt (2000) is likewise an engaging thought experiment on how an anarchist society might exist and the reaction it could draw from the political ideologies opposed to it. Containing its share of action as well, the no

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 6

Wherein our party completes their Great Escape (only, with less motorcycles and Nazis).  Out from the goblin warren, and right into another pretty pickle, before flying off with the birds. In this chapter we're treated to not just evidence of Bilbo's growth, but some actual characterization of the numerous dwarfs that he travels with.  With so many dwarfs they become a bit nameless, blending into Thorin & Co.  Here we get dialog and bits of personality, and even Thorin calling on Dori to give Bilbo a hand. Going back to Bilbo's development, the hobbit we met at the start of the book was not someone capable of coming to the conclusion that it was his duty to walk back into danger to save his friends, let alone act on that feeling.  This is a landmark moment in Bilbo as a hero and adventurer, and from this point on we'll see him to start to take ownership of the situation and become more and more important to how events fall out.  He's still misses his comf

[Book Review] Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong

Led Astray : The Best of Kelley Armstrong ( Powell's Books ) I came into this anthology as a fan of Armstrong's Otherworld  stories, but with little familiarity with her other work.  After reading this collection, I'm really not sure why  I haven't read more of her work, particularly her other paranormal/dark fantasy books. Really, why the hell haven't I? *Glaces at current pile of library books* *Checks ILL holds* Dammit. Well, time to fix my lack regardless of how many books I'm in the middle of reading. Led Astray  doesn't limit itself to one canonical universe, but spreads across the different worlds that Armstrong has created and introduces several others.  An engaging dark fantasy collection for both fans and new readers of Kelley Armstrong's work. Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Tachyon Publications via NetGalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

[Book Review] An Ancient Peace

An Ancient Peace / Tanya Huff In An Ancient Peace , Tanya Huff kicks off a new military SF series.  Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr may no longer be officially serving, but that doesn't stop her and her team from being pulled in for special operations.  Especially ones where plausible deniability is preferred.  And when grave-goods of a once all-powerful Elder race start appearing on the black market, the powers that be worry that someone may be looking for world-destroying weapons, and if this comes to light that humanity may be the one to take the fall.  But who's really moving the pieces around this intergalactic game board?  Can Torin prevent a war? We have aliens, interstellar politics, personal vendettas, sex, and violence. Slow to build, as our team goes on a wild goose hunt for some treasure hunting grave robbers threatening to precipitate an intergalactic incident. Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW via Netgall

When We Were Blog Tour

When We Were / Alexandra Diaz They promised they would be friends forever... No one messes with Whitney Blaire or her friends, which is why she can’t help but let it slip that someone spotted Tara’s boyfriend making out with one of the guy cheerleaders. Even after spending hours training for her marathon, down-to-earth Tara can't outrun the rumors about the boyfriend she thought was perfect. Pinkie, the rock and "Big Sister" of their inseparable group, just wants things to stay exactly the way they are... ...but that's not possible when new-girl Riley arrives in school and changes everything. Suddenly Tara starts to feel things she's never felt before—for anyone—while Whitney Blaire tries to convince her that this new girl is Trouble. Meanwhile, Pinkie’s world begins to crumble as she begins to suspect that the friends she depends on are not the girls she thought she knew. Can friendship survive when all the rules are broken?  When We Were is