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Showing posts from August, 2015

Link Smorgasbord, August 2015

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Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ Lands Series Greenlight at Starz
*Incoherent gibbering*

American Gods as a TV show has been a long running tease, one that I've both eagerly awaited and dreaded (the fear anyone faces when a favorite book is translated into a different medium).  But it looks like this is actually going forward, has a good level of communication with the original author, and is being done by a subscription network which generally results in more money on hand to throw at the show.

The Art of Weeding
We don't just buy books and put them on the shelves for you to borrow - we have to sometimes take them off the shelves.  There's often a lot of vilification after a library does a huge weeding project, regardless of the reasons (and there are sometimes very valid and pressing reasons that force a library to discard a large volume of its collection), but regular weeding is part of collection maintenance.  It helps us replace damaged books that we can't repair (or c…

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 1

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So starts the group read through of The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.  I'm blessed with owning the Alan Lee illustrated sets of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, so I'll be pulling from his gorgeous work in these posts.

There is something just welcoming and magical about the opening of The Hobbit.  The language manages to be both simple and rich, the words familiar and warm.  Tolkien gives us several pages of setting and exposition before the first words spoken, teasing us along until he delivers us at Bilbo's doorstep with Gandalf.


And this whole opening is what Peter Jackson got so right in his film adaptation.  The familiar words honestly made me tear up.  We already knew that Ian McKellen was an amazing personification of Gandalf, but Martin Freeman became Bilbo Baggins.  Jackson even took a band of barely discernable dwarves and turned them into distinct individuals.  I wonder how much some of the changes Jackson decided to make would have caused outraged had …

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey

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Today starts a long-term reading project focusing on Tolkien's work.  I'm joining various folks in a one chapter a week read through, starting with The Hobbit, going through the Lord of the Rings, likely dabbling in some of the other assorted works, and ultimately getting through The Silmarillion.

We'll be reading and discussing the chapters, as well as sharing various Middle Earth resources, treating it as a study of Middle Earth itself.  It's a very long-term project, but one that doesn't impose a heavy burden while participating.  Should be fun.

If you want to join us, we can be found over on BookLikes


The Hobbit
Chapter 1 - An Unexpected Party
Chapter 2 - Roast Mutton
Chapter 3 - A Short Rest
Chapter 4 - Over Hill and Under Hill
Chapter 5 - Riddles in the Dark
Chapter 6 - Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
Chapter 7 - Queer Lodgings
Chapter 8 - Flies and Spiders
Chapter 9 - Barrels Out of Bond
Chapter 10 - A Warm Welcome
Chapter 11 - On the Doorstep
Chapter 12 - Inside Inf…

[Book Review] The Annihilation Score

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Annihilation Score (Laundry Files #6) / Charles Stross (Powell's Books)

Dominique "Mo" O'Brien is having a rough time.  She wields a soul-eating bone violin (that's trying to take over her will) in the service of her country, things with her husband are on the rocks, there's a sudden plague of humans manifesting superpowers, and she's expected to do something about at least the latter with the help of her husband's ex's.  On top of all that, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (the end of the world as we know it) draws inexorably near, and Mo's suffering from a seeming cultural invisibility as a woman of a certain age.


Annihilation Score stands out from the other Laundry Files in a few ways.  Beyond the obvious change in narrator, The Annihilation Score doesn't follow the trend of parodying various well-known British spy novelists' work.  Instead we have a novel lambasting the cultural treatment and expectations of women while Mo heads up a superhero …

Life Update : Heeeey Employment!

So life's been all sorts of crazy lately, but not necessarily in a bad way, and with any luck my employment situation is relatively stable for the rest of this fiscal year at least.  After a year and a half of job searching, including a few false starts, it is a nice place to be regardless of how chaotic.

The upside, as I said, is Employment.  And employment at some fantastic places with amazing people.

The downside is the complications and limitations.  I'm juggling five jobs, a mix of regular and on-call/as needed hours.

On July 1st I started as the Circulation Supervisor at a delightful small-town library, working 28 hours per week.  Today I had training for a 10 hour a week sabbatical replacement position at a beautiful private school that we'll just call Hogwarts, where I'll be the supervising evening Librarian and working the Reference Desk.  I'm totally bummed that Hogwarts will only be for this school year, everyone I met today on campus is amazing (and cam…

[Book Review] The Killing Moon

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The Killing Moon / N. K. Jemisin (Powell's Books)

In the city-state of Guanjaareh peace rules through the blessing of their goddess Hananja.  Priests siphon off the dreams of the citizens to provide healing and to rid the city of corruption.  Ehiru, perhaps the most renown of the city's Gatherers, begins to doubt himself when a Gathering goes awry, only to be pulled into a conspiracy that threatens not just Guanjaareh but the world.

I cannot say enough about Jemisin's writing (or about Jemisin herself, she's a wonderful person).  She creates rich, gorgeous fantasy worlds and compelling stories.  Additionally, she provides a fantasy that doesn't take place in a re-imagined medieval Europe themed setting.  The Killing Moon delves into belief, love, power, corruption, and politics.

The Killing Moon was the July pick for my Virtual Speculation bookclub, sorry for the late posting.

Discussion Fodder:
To the Guanjaareens, the death offered by Gatherers is a honor and a com…

[Book Display] Dog Days of Summer

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It's August.  It's hot and sticky.  Summer reading at my library has ended.  Back to school is right around the corner.  Time to get some last enjoyment of the summer before the blessed cold of winter the season change.  A time of year otherwise known as the "dog days of summer."

We needed a new book display, and I like word play.  I think you can guess where this goes.

My original idea was to do summer books and dog books, ideally books that were a mix of the two.  But ultimately I made it into a display of books that featured dogs in some manner, be it a main character, some part of a character's life, or even an animagus who turns into a dog.

As it turns out there are quite a few prolific authors who write mysteries featuring dogs, enough that I settled for sharing a hyperlink to someone else's detailed list rather than copying it all here for additional titles.  There are also quite a few nonfiction titles, often with adorable covers, about dogs.  In the …

[Book Review] The Heart Goes Last

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The Heart Goes Last / Margaret Atwood (Powell's Books)

A dystopian story of desperation, greed, for-profit prisons, and the sex lives of those caught up in it all.

For Stan and Charmaine, the Positron Project seems like a gift from Heaven.  A home of their own and guaranteed jobs, even if it's tempered with alternating months spent as prison inmates, is a vast improvement over living in their car and surviving on Charmaine's meager tips.  The isolation from the world at large seems a small price to pay for safety and security.  But little things don't seem to add up, and when Charmaine begins a torrid affair with Stan's "alternate" a chain of events is set into motion that threatens the secrets of those in charge, and puts Stan and Charmaine in danger.

I didn't fall in love with the story immediately.  The start felt off, disjointed, as it tried to drop me inside both of Stan and Charmaine's lives.  It's when they reached their supposed utopia …

[Book Review] In Libres

In Libres / Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny Magazine)

A delightful bit of short fiction, a fantastical take on academia and the pursuit of higher degrees.  One where a "bull-headed classmate" is literal not figurative, and visiting the library is a truly feared event.  Don't ask me why, but I get way too much enjoyment out of dangerous arcane libraries and librarians.
The Library was not a single building, but rather a complex of buildings on the edge of campus, with only one way in. It was said to have one copy of every book ever written. This was probably an exaggeration, despite the fact that it seemed to have a functionally infinite interior. The Library was bigger on the inside, and it iterated.  It certainly had a great mad pile of things shelved within it. Finding them was another matter: there was no card catalogue, and several attempts to establish one had met with madness, failure, and disappearances.  There were, however, Librarians. Librarians, with their overdevelop…

Stormbringer Blog Tour - Q&A with Alis Franklin + Giveaway

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Ragnarok has come and gone, and both the world and the gods are still around.  After the defeat of Baldur, Lain, who is perhaps both Loki and Baldur, must return with Odin's spear to Asgard.  Odin, Thor, and many of the others are dead and gone, the god's children seek to claim the former power of Asgard's glory, Hel was slain in combat and seeks to claim her place among the honored dead, and the Wyrd twists lives, pulling gods and mortals alike.

Sigmund is both a young man, a low-level IT tech, and the avatar of a Norse goddess who was the wife of Loki.  Em and Wayne are the reincarnations of the Valkyries slain in battle.  Still coming to terms with what they are, and what that means, they all must reclaim roles to prevent a second Ragnarok.

Read Full Review
Also reviewed: Liesmith : Book 1 of the Wyrd


Alis Franklin has graciously shared her time with me to answer some questions as part of a TLC Book Tour for her latest novel, Stormbringer.


First off, thank you…

Link Smorgasbord, July 2015

Minecraft in Education
Looks like Microsoft is taking Minecraft in the same direction as Steam for Schools with Portal.  I'm pretty excited.

Cory Doctorow Talks About Fighting the DMCA (2 Videos)
I generally find Doctorow very good at explaining copyright.

8 Ways Parents Discourage Their Kids from Reading
This one hits pretty close to home as I experienced many of these from my dad & step-mom (plus a few that weren't on the list - such as getting in trouble for reading too much and having reading taken away from me as punishment).  Not that I really wanted them to read out loud to me after a certain age, but I was mind-numbingly bored by my collection of books at their place.  In 1st or 2nd grade he had me tested for a learning disability, an action that shocked my teacher and my mother... and it came out that the source issue was that I was bored, I had read all the stories in  Sunday School time and time again, and none of my books at his place were high enough reading lev…