Posts

Showing posts from September, 2015

Link Smorgasbord, September 2015

Black Lives Matter Inspired This Chilling Fantasy Novel
N. K. Jemisin was interviewed for the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast, and Wired ran an article on it.  Sadly, I have a feeling that the title of this article means a lot of people will discredit it, please don't, please read it.  She is a fantastic author, and she's not making up her experiences or talking about something that could happen.

EFF Asks Court on Behalf of Libraries and Booksellers to Recognize Readers’ Right to Be Free of NSA’s Online Surveillance
It's really hard to cut out tracking and surveillance of third parties with any sort of online library service.

Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters
Ok, so this one should have been in my August collection, but I was slacking.

Dudes, Did You See the Library They’ve Got Here?
A fun read from McSweeney's.

Academics are being hoodwinked into writing books nobody can buy
Gah.

How Much Money do Libraries Spend on e-Books?
As of Sept 2015. …

[Book Review] Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Image
Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas / Troy Little (Powell's Books)

The lurid insanity of Thompson's tale of a five-day long, drug fueled bender is utterly suited to the visual medium.

Excellently executed graphic novel, highly recommend to fans of Hunter S. Thompson, or of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Possibly a good introduction vector, or possibly too much all at once, but let's face it, with Thompson you're getting all or nothing.

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

[Book Review] Sorcerer to the Crown

Image
Sorcerer to the Crown / Zen Cho (Powell's Books)

This is a book about the triumph of difficult women, and I mean that in the absolutely best way possible.

Zacharias Wythe is a most reluctant and unwelcome Sorcerer Royal, dealing with the politics of the power hungry and those who simply think him incompetent of any sort of intelligence or civilization simply due to the color of his skin.  Unfortunately, politics and power grabs among sorcerers seems to involve attempts against the life of the Sorcerer Royal, which are most inconvenient, especially considering the various rather delicate situations Mr. Wythe is attempting to handle.

Then into all of this comes the inconveniently magical Prunella Gentleman, no matter that women simply do not practice magic, even untrained she has the power in her blood to put most of England's sorcerers to shame.  Add in some international politics, warmongering, faerie in-laws, and various disregards of social convention, and things accelerate …

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 5

Image
"When Bilbo opened his eyes, he wondered if he had; for it was just as dark with them shut.  No one was anywhere near him.  Just imagine his fright!  He could hear nothing, see nothing, and he could feel nothing except the very stone of the floor." So starts perhaps one of the most pivotal and remembered chapters in The Hobbit.  In the dark, with no clue about what is going on.  Here we see Bilbo succeed on his own first time in the face of certain danger, facing mortal threat with little more than his wits (though the glowing blade helps).


Tolkien does give us hints of things to come, most notable about finding of the ring as a "turning point in his career, but he did not know it."  But for all of that, he invites us into Bilbo's journey as fellow travelers.  The writing is evocative of memory and feeling, with Bilbo feeling hopeful, hopeless, and inspired to bravery by the little things.  Not only that, but the text is full of things like "But you must …

[Book Review] Bookburners: Badge, Book, and Candle

Image
Bookburners: Badge, Book, and Candle (Season 1, Episode 1) / Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty, Brian Francis Slattery, and Margaret Dunlap

A crime scene flooded with blood and where finger prints were retrieved from the severed fingertips carefully balanced on an ashtray is enough to make anyone question both their own sanity and that of the world around them.  But Detective Sal Brooks knows that her brother came to her for help, and knows that someone forced their way into her home in pursuit, regardless of what the security tape shows.  All she knows is it revolves around the strange old book he was carrying, and somehow the mysterious team led by a priest that invaded her home is hunting for it.  Things are going further down the rabbit hole, and Sal refuses to turn away, even if that means accepting that magic, and demons, are real.  Maybe some information really isn't meant to be free.



This... was excellent.  An eerie bite-sized read coming in at around 50 pages filled with demoni…

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 4

Image
Rested and hopeful from their sojourn in Rivendell, we take our first steps into the untamed wilds.

Last week I wrote briefly about Rivendell as the place where everything hangs in balance, and as a reminder that there is evil in the world.  We know that the road ahead is not devoid of life, but that we are stepping away from civilization as we know it into the realm of Here Be Dragons.  The trolls may have been out of place in Chapter Two, but now we're headed into their realm.

Fortunately for everyone, the literal dragons won't occur for some chapters more.  Our little party of adventurers isn't quite up to that challenge just yet.

We see some growth of Bilbo here in their second brush with danger.  With the trolls he went and put his foot (or to be exact, his hand) in it, ending with everyone captured before Gandalf arrived to save the day.  When they settle into the little cave at night it is thanks to Bilbo that they are not all captured, his cry of alarm is what enab…

[Book Review] Batman Volume 7: Endgame

Batman Volume 7: Endgame / Scott Snyder

The Joker's done playing games, and he's coming after Batman like never before.  His loving torment of Batman over the years is gone, replaced with an all-enveloping viciousness designed to take out Batman and annihilating everything and everyone the dark knight has ever cared for.

Hatred is the name of the game here.  Crazed, obsessive, maddening hatred.  Once Joker thought of he and Batman as mirrors of a sort, bound together by fate.  But after being flung into a near bottomless pit to die, he's feeling a little jilted, and all of Gotham is going to help make Batsy pay.


In Endgame Snyder gives us a darkness reminiscent of Frank Miller's Batman.  The Joker has found a way to turn his madness into a biological weapon, infecting first the Justice League, then Gotham itself.


WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD


I'm honestly not 100% sure how I feel about this story line.  There are some things I loved, and some I remain unconvinced about.

Loss a year later

Image
I've always been horrible with dates.  As a kid I couldn't even tell you what the date of Christmas was beyond sometime in December, and that is something printed on any calendar I cared to look at.

The end result of this is me at work with eyeliner running down my face as I realize that it's my mom's birthday.

It doesn't hurt any less.  The pain is still just as raw, deep, and overwhelming as it was last year.

Time hasn't so much healed this wound, but it has allowed for scarring over.  The times when I have to remind myself that I can't reach out to her have lessened.  I'm not awake every night unintentionally fighting off sleep because I keep seeing her lying there, waiting her for her to wake up.  It's the reminders, the realizations, the recognitions that break through and let the grief out again.

I still fight the impulse to call her about something that's going on, or to just say hi.  I see articles about advances in assistive technology …

[Book Display] Banned Books Week 2015

Image
OK folks, confession time.

I have never done a banned books display.  Somehow I've managed to miss being in place to do a display around Banned Books Week for the past few years.

So I'm quite happy to say I put one together this year.


Banned Books Week 2015 (or, if you're looking to have fun with mixing up acronyms you can always use BBW) kicks off at the end of Sept, so it made sense to me to have the display for the preceding weeks.

Largely the response to the display has been "people still ban books?" or "someone wanted to ban ____?"  Which, by and large, is heartening.  But people do ban books, and I've gotten to hear parents harangue their child for watching Teen Titans or reading Harry Potter because they contain "witchcraft."
Speaking of which, someone just borrowed some items from the display, so it's a good time to add some Harry Potter to it (as well as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks)

Not everyone is thrilled with the di…

[Book Review] Dresden Files : Down Town

Image
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files : Down Town / Jim Butcher & Mark Powers (Powell's Books)

Gentleman Johnny Marcone isn't just a two-bit gangster anymore, not when he's now a mortal signatory of the Unseelie Accords.  But while people like Harry Dresden and Karen Murphy want to see Marcone and his power games gone from Chicago, they have no interest in outcomes that lead to widespread chaos and bloodshed.  Unfortunately, not everyone is so considerate, and once again Dresden and Marcone find themselves with a common enemy.


Most of the Dresden Files graphic novels I've read focus on Harry and sometimes Karen.  This is the first one I've read that gives a fuller ensemble, with Molly, Mouse, and Johnny taking front seat along with Harry, plus support from Karen, Ms Gard, Mister, Thomas, and Bob.
Personally, I'm super excited to have a graphic novel featuring Molly, for some reason she's always been nearly impossible for me to visualize (though I'll have t…

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 3

Image
Chapter 3 beings with our party flush with success from their first encounter with danger.


The first hurdle is passed, danger lurks ahead, but first they seek the hospitality of the Last Homely House.

Rivendell is a haven from the world at large, a place where our road weary travelers can relax and renew their sense of purpose.  It is also the point where everything hangs in balance, Bilbo has his itch for exploration and his desire for a cozy hearth, and the point of no return for the adventure.  After Rivendell the dwarfs can expect no shelter or friendly faces, even though Middle-Earth is not so empty that they head into a wasteland devoid of any civilization.  Here it is that they come to truly start their adventure, and to gain direction as Elrond interprets their map.  We'll see Rivendell as this keystone in other of Tolkien's work, such as the gathering of the fellowship in Lord of the Rings.

The Last Homely House serves to remind us that the journey is treacherous.  &q…

The Hobbit : An Expected Journey - Chapter 2

Image
Continuing on with the group read of The Hobbit, where we leave the comfort of home and our adventure really beings.


Were it not for the wreckage of breakfast (odd, considering they cleaned up dinner the night before), the events of Chapter 1 could have been naught but a dream for Bilbo.  But for better or for worse, a band of dwarfs shepherded by a a wizard descended upon Bilbo's home and invited him to join their quest to reclaim their long lost home and wealth.

But if there's one thing wizards are good for, it is creating and banishing illusion.  A quick check-in by Gandalf later, we see Bilbo racing to meet the waiting dwarfs, a bundle of confusion, anxiety, and excitement. Once he meets up with the dwarfs, he is a part of the party but as misfitting as the garments he borrows.

Our band of adventurers actually travels for quite some time before any incident of note occurs, Tolkien neatly indicates their journey so far with a sentence or two, the moves on to traveling in th…