Showing posts from November, 2015

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

[Book Review] The Martian

The Martian  / Andy Weir ( Powell's Books ) Separated from his crew during a dust storm after being struck by a piece of debris, with biostats reading zero, and a storm requiring an immediate launch, Mark Watney was left behind on Mars.  Unfortunately for Watney, dumb luck and circumstance meant he was still alive.  Alone, with very limited supplies, on Mars.  With no way to communicate with Earth, and the next mission not expected for several years, he might just stay alive long enough to starve to death, if nothing breaks first.  Mark must be incredibly creative and extremely lucky to pull through as the single largest rescue mission ever starts to pull together on Earth. So when I chose this for the November read, I had no clue that it was coming out as a feature film in October.  Whoops.  Made finding a copy in the library system a little challenging, but fortunately not impossible. The Martian was a surprisingly light read.  I tore through it.  I'd say in terms of pa

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 11

More than anything, this is a chapter of nostalgia.  Scene and setting take the stage over action. This whole journey has been in stages moving towards the wilds, away perhaps not from civilization, but away from the richness of life and into desolation.  The land around the Lonely Mountain is dead and barren and Dale lies in abandoned ruins, "Indeed their stores had no need of any guard, for all the land was desolate and empty."  The dwarfs who were there when Smaug came are seeing not just their ancestral home, but perhaps a mass grave.  The dwarfs who have never been to the Lonely Mountain are seeing it for the first time.  Everything is grim, even the sparse wildlife, with the dwarfs saying "dark birds, they look like spies of evil" Bilbo has gone from part of the party on sufferance to leading.  The dwarfs by and large are feeling more defeated and despondent than inspired, as they face the reality of the mountain itself.  On the other hand, Bilbo is i

[Book Review] Horns

Horns / Joe Hill ( Powell's Books ) No one would be surprised to learn that Ignatius Parrish was a devil, after all they all know he was the one to murder and rape his girlfriend.  At least, no one would be surprised except the actual murderer.  So when Ig wakes up one morning with horns growing out of his forehead it's just another addition to the hell he's lived in since Merrin told him they should see other people for awhile, then was found dead the next morning.  The dark spiral of his life speeds up as the horns seem to effect those around him, confessing secret desires and impulses, taking only a signal of approval from Ig to act on them. What unsettled me the most about the story is how believable the characters were as normal people.  That Lee's interpretation and subsequent actions sounded realistic to me.  The dark fantasy elements are laid on top of a man's life that's sunk into a personal hell, and he finally has the means to reach out and t

[Book Review] A Taste of Scandal (Boxed Set)

A Taste of Scandal: Bad Boys, Sexy Scoundrels, and Regency Rogues (Boxed Set) / Megan Bryce, Elizabeth Cole, Madelynne Ellis, Dawn Halliday, Vicki Hopkins, Suzanna Medeiros, Kate Pearce, and Sandra Schwab Eight in one!  A promised little something for everyone in this collection of sexy historical romance.  Also, I for some reason felt the need to distract myself from the more involved reading projects and the chaos that is my life with some books I can read in a few hours. I'm breaking this down by book, since I feel reviewing the box set as a single piece would be doing a disservice.  Overall, I'll vote the box set a mix, some good, some not bad but not to my taste, and some please no. To Wed the Widow (The Reluctant Bride Collection #3) / Megan Bryce ( Powell's Books ) This one entertained from the first page, with wit, affection, and love of life throughout.  There's actually two love stories here, one between George Sinclair and Lady Haywood, the other

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 10

Worse for the journey down the river in barrels, but still alive and kicking, the Prodigal Son returns. Bilbo gets his first glimpse of the Lonely Mountain, and shepherds the dwarfs along their path. "Thorin son of Thrain son of Thror King under the Mountain!" said the dwarf in a loud voice, and he looked it, in spite of his torn clothes and draggled hood.  The gold gleamed on his neck and waist; his eyes were dark and deep.  " I wish to see the Master of your town!" "We have no need of weapons, who return at last to our own as spoken of old.  Nor could we fight against so many.  Take us to your master." Music, more than anything, wins the dwarfs the support of the Master.  People remembering the stories and singing convince the Master to side with the dwarfs instead of his elven trading partners, and even the elves themselves start to wonder if their king was mistaken in detaining the dwarfs. As returning heroes and legends out of story, th