Thursday, April 29, 2010

Links and Stuff: April 29, 2010

  • Social media is helping to save libraries. But can it be a continuing trend?
  • The Mayor of NYC has signed a law that requires the Department of Education to hand out library card applications. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Like the idea, don't like that it is an actual law. 
  • Eating and reading have always been fun activities to pair. The Baltimore County library system is taking that partnership to a new level to combat "food deserts."  You can order groceries through the library and they will be delivered the next day. 
  • I've been saying it for awhile: Digital literacy is more than knowing how to use a computer. I'm glad I'm not alone in this.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Useful Things: Is it me?

I had a moment today where I thought Google was broken. Turns out it was just me.

Down for Everyone or Just me? takes the guess work out of website problems. Quick and easy - what better form of reference could you ask for?

One word of advice, type in the whole address or you may get a false positive. Don't cheat and type in when you mean This reference site is not always a fan of redirects.

Unnecessary fact: I like typing in random sites (or words) when I'm bored.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book 9: Tender Morsels

Tender MorselsTITLE: Tender Morsels
AUTHOR: Margo Langan
STARTED: April 5, 2010
FINISHED: April 14, 2010
PAGES: 436
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: There are plenty would call her a slut for it.

SUMMARY: [From] A traumatized teen mother magically escapes to her own personal heaven in this daring and deeply moving fantasy. The characters, setting, much of the action, and even the very words of the title are taken from the Grimm Brothers' "Snow-White and Rose-Red," a sweet story of contrasting sisters who live deep in the forest and whose innocent hearts are filled with compassion for a lonely bear and an endangered dwarf. In the novel, Liga's daughters—one born of incest, the other of gang rape—first flourish in Liga's safe world. But encounters with magical bears and the crusty dwarf challenge them to see a world beyond their mother's secure dreamscape. Eventually the younger one, Urdda, and subsequently her sister and Liga are drawn back into the real world in which cruelty, hurt, and prejudice abound. But it is also only there that they can experience the range of human emotion, develop deep relationships, and discover who they truly are. The opening chapters vividly portray the emotional experience of a boy's first sexual encounter, mind-numbing abuse by Liga's father, and a violent gang rape. It's heavy fare even for sophisticated readers, but the author hits all the right notes, giving voice to both the joys and terrors that sexual experience can bestow without saying more than readers need to know to be fully with the characters. While the story explores what it means to be human, it is at its heart an incisive exploration of the uses and limitations of dissociation as a coping mechanism. Beautifully written and surprising, this is a novel not to be missed.

THOUGHTS: I did not like this book - and the more we talked about it in book club, the more I grew to dislike it. Langan's writing is fine, her visualizations are actually beautiful to read, and the characters have depth and personality, but the plot is horrid. I could not get into the story and, even when did, I didn't want to be there. For me the writing and the imagery could not redeem the plot. I have a hard time understanding why the author had to make Liga's life so difficult. I'm all for characters going through hardship in stories, but it almost felt like Langan did not like her supposed main character. If anything, the sisters were what brought this book to life.

I don't know, maybe I just I didn't get it - but this book felt like an excuse to write a final revenge scene that seemed overplayed and unnecessary.

RATING: 4/10 [An "Okay" Book]

YouTube Tuesday: Awesomeness

Neil Gaiman thinks libraries are awesome. That makes him cool in my book.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Variations on a Theme: Feed Me

This month's collection of books is all about food and food culture. You can blame NPR; I was listening to an Intelligence Squared Debate about organic food and marketing hype when I had to come up with a topic. Be forewarned, some of these books will make you hungry. Some of these books make also make you never want to eat again.

by Michael Pollan The Omnivore's Dilemma PaperbackThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Michael Pollan

In his oft-cited work, Pollan delves into where our food comes from. He explores mass agriculture from the conventional and organic side, hunting and gathering, and how we interact with food in our culture. Written in an easy to read narrative form, Pollan breaks down everything from a McDonald's hamburger to how we've lost touch with our meals. I read this for my bookclub and it was fantastic. You may, however, swear off corn for awhile.

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About ItFood, Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, Poorer - And What You Can Do About It
Participant Media and Karl Weber

This is a tie-in guide to the movie of the same title. Food, Inc. also follows the trend of books and articles coming out that seem to want to scare people to death about how awful food production in the U.S. has become. The book is comprised of a series of essays by experts and ponders of American food industry and culture.

The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral CrisisThe Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis
Tara Austen Weaver

This is a book was written by a favorite blogger (Tea and Cookies) of mine. If her writing in this text is anything like her blog, you're in for a good time. This book chronicles Weaver's journey into the world of meat after being raised in a vegetarian household. She runs into a lot of questions and moments to ponder along the way.

The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove

The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the StoveCathy Erway

I cook a lot. I love to try new recipes - which is good because I cannot afford to eat out every meal. In this book, Erway discovers the joy that can come from staying in and preparing food for yourself. The Art of Eating In is a blend of memoir and cookbook. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that are accompanied by a meal.

The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and LoveThe Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love
Michelle Maisto

Maisto reminisces about what is like to combine two foodie tastes through her courtship and marriage. Their meals are not just food, but a stage for their coming together as two people. It may sound sappy, but the second I found out about this book, I put it on my TBR list. Also, how cute is that cover?

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and FamilyThe Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family
Laura Schenone

This one is also on my TBR list. I cannot ignore a book when their are carbs in the title. Anyway. Schenone discusses the family and the immigrant experience from the viewpoint of food. What recipes due we bring with us, save, and pass on. Every culture has it's foods, and this book seems delicious.

Other Food and Food Culture Related Items
The Cheese Chronicles - Liz Thorpe
Confections of a Closet Master Baker - Gesine Bullock-Prado
Food Rules: An Eater's Manual - Michael Pollan
A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg
In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan
Jamie's Food Revolution - Jaime Oliver 
The Sweet Life in Paris - David Liebovitz

Links and Stuff: April 22, 2010

  • The Google Books Settlement could be awesome... or a travesty. It depends on who you are and what you do for a living. We can all agree that it will have an impact on reading.
  • So Many Books ponders why the question of "What is a library?" keeps coming up in her MLS studies. 
  • Brilliant! One library celebrates National Library Week by asking people to blind date their books. Who doesn't like surprises?
  • George Washington. Library villain?
  • Book Spine Poetry. This makes me want to peruse the stacks. 
  • And then there's this...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Almost There

In 32 days, I will graduate with my Masters in Library Science. If I want to scare myself, I can view my countdown as so:
  •  11 days until my semester long project is due. I have the following components to finalize:
    • Main Powerpoint Presentation
    • Poster
    • Survey
  • 11 days until my class presentation on said project
  • 11 days until paper also on said project
  • 18 days until take-home final is due
I'm not worried about the semester long project or presentation. The first is close to being done and the second I can bang out in a hour. Procrastination has been my nemesis when it comes to the paper. I know it won't be too hard, I just seem to have acquired senioritis when it comes to actually sitting down to write. Luckily, the take-home final won't be released until the first 3 things are due. Too bad I have to work on it while I'm also crazy busy at work. Timing is evil.

So close!

YouTube Tuesday: Mr. Bookman

Don't mess with the library - we'll come for your coffee.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Links and Stuff: April 15, 2010

  • It's National Library Week; did you celebrate accordingly?
  • The House of Representatives acknowledged the library's awesomeness.
  • You'll miss us when we're gone. So why not keep us around...
  • The State of Our Libraries is "Why the heck do you keep cutting our budgets when you use our services and need us so much?" 
  • Shushing: It's all in the shoulder. 
  • The Library of Congress will archive Twitter. FTW!
  • Prezi has put together a fantastic overview of Google Search Tricks.
  • Finally, it's Tax Day - find and fill out your forms at the local library. Just remember, librarians are not CPAs and cannot give tax advice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Useful Things: Kid Lit

There are a ton of kids books in existence. I read a bunch of them last summer, but that doesn't even begin to delve into the unseen iceberg bottom that is Children's Literature. People can and do obtain masters level degrees in children's lit.

I'm guessing that one of those students is the brain behind CLWG: Children's Lierature Web Guide. This website is a nice portal to all things web related to children's and young adult reading material. As an introduction, CLWG:

"The Children's Literature Web Guide is an attempt to gather together and categorize the growing number of Internet resources related to books for Children and Young Adults. Much of the information that you can find through these pages is provided by others: fans, schools, libraries, and commercial enterprises involved in the book world."
The website offers discussion boards, a list of award winning books, best sellers, and information on how to teach themes found in children and young adult books.  Probably most beneficial are the separate resource pages for teachers, parents, storytellers, writers and illustrators.

I, myself, am a list lover. I love lists - so the page listing lists made me happy.

Book 8: An Echo in the Bone

An Echo in the Bone: A Novel (Outlander)TITLE: An Echo in the Bone
AUTHOR: Diana Gabaldon
STARTED: February 26, 2010
FINISHED: April 1, 2010
PAGES: 822
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: The body is amazingly plastic.

SUMMARY: [From] Jamie Fraser, former Jacobite and reluctant rebel, is already certain of three things about the American rebellion: The Americans will win, fighting on the side of victory is no guarantee of survival, and he’d rather die than have to face his illegitimate son–a young lieutenant in the British army–across the barrel of a gun.

Claire Randall knows that the Americans will win, too, but not what the ultimate price may be. That price won’t include Jamie’s life or his happiness, though–not if she has anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter, Brianna, and her husband, Roger MacKenzie, have resettled in a historic Scottish home where, across a chasm of two centuries, the unfolding drama of Brianna’s parents’ story comes to life through Claire’s letters. The fragile pages reveal Claire’s love for battle-scarred Jamie Fraser and their flight from North Carolina to the high seas, where they encounter privateers and ocean battles–as Brianna and Roger search for clues not only to Claire’s fate but to their own. Because the future of the MacKenzie family in the Highlands is mysteriously, irrevocably, and intimately entwined with life and death in war-torn colonial America.

THOUGHTS: This is the best book I've read in the Outlander series in a long time. Granted, I love ALL the books in the series, but this one was particularly good. While it does not have the exact same perfectness that is Outlander itself, An Echo in the Bone delivered a hearty dose of plain ol' good comfort reading. Maybe it was the setting, maybe it was the characters, maybe it was the writing or a combination there of, whatever it was Gabaldon kept me insanely happy for the whole book.

My mom tends to dislike these books because, as she puts it, "Claire and Jaime are always running into drama." But you know what, that's why it works for me. There is something intensely visceral about this series that speaks to me. The last few books in the series have been "good," but Echo adds something new to the mix. For the first time that I can recall, Gabaldon allows characters other than Claire to first-person narrate. I loved it. Young Ian may just be my new favorite fictional character. He is strong, intellectual, and just a little bit wild - and it makes me want to know him. By allowing the reader to get into other character's mind, the series has taken on a new richness and completeness that I never knew was missing. I will be sorely disappointed if Gabaldon removes that facet from future books in this series.

Also, there was a dark intensity to this book that created a sense of foreboding (and made me upset when the book was over because, gosh darnit, I wasn't ready for it to end). Part of me feels that is because the American Revolution is heavily (HEAVILY) influential to the plot. I'm and Am. Rev. nut - books set in that time make me bouncy and giddy. Gabaldon gets it right - the sounds, the smells, the chaos - woot woot. She also manages to throw in the big players (Benedict Arnold, FTW!) without it seeming forced or unnecessary. I will say I am waiting for the pages where Claire and/or Jamie run into George Washington. I just know it's going to happen and I can't wait to see it.

Gabaldon's writing is, as always, rich and vibrant in its detailed description and emotion. More than once I cringed at the medical images and sighed at the environmental vistas. Gabaldon has the ability to transport the reader to both the location and time of her choosing. Her writing, particular is this book, is magical. It is nuanced, emotional, and glues you to the page.

I could go on and be even more fan girly in this review, but I shant. Just know that if you've given up on the series or have been plodding through for whatever reason, Echo in the Bone will be a breath of fresh air. I already love the books, but this one was just delicious.

RATING: 8/10

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Work It Out

If you come to work for me in the stacks, you will exercise your:
  • Thighs and Tush - From all the squats you will do shelving and looking for books
  • Shoulders - From reaching to the top shelve to retrieve or replace heavy books
  • Arms - From carrying mass quantities of books
  • Cardio - From all the stairclimbing and and full bookcart pushing this job requires
*Neon leotards not required.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Links and Stuff: April 8, 2010

  • The iPad may work wonders for self-publishing. Now if only I could get around to writing that book in my head.
  • Does your library disaster plan prepare for the coming zombie invasion
  • I've never DNFed a book, but here's an NPR story on some who just throw in the towel
  • (Warning! This next bit is very geeky library stuff) There are a whole bunch of valuable library user studies out there. Roy Tenant distills the extensive report by JISC.
  • Sometimes the courts really grind my gears. Keep an eye on your internet bills. The FCC lost it's bid for "net neutrality" against Comcast.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Book 7: Strong Poison

TITLE: Strong Poison
AUTHOR: Dorothy L. Sayers
STARTED: March 1, 2010
FINISHED: March 9, 2010
PAGES: 192
GENRE: Mystery

FIRST SENTENCE: There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood.

SUMMARY: [From] Mystery novelist Harriet Vane knew all about poisons, and when her fiancee died in the manner prescribed in one of her books, a jury of her peers had a hangman's noose in mind. But Lord Peter Wimsey was determined to find her innocent -- as determined as he was to make her his wife.

THOUGHTS: I don't think I "do" mystery. Aside from a tiny side snippet in this book, there was nothing about Sayers' story that called to me. I could have cared less about the characters, "who dun it," or even the era the book is set in. I just didn't care at all about anything in this story. Part of me wonders if I would have liked the book more if I had read the others that came before it in the series, but I highly doubt it. I likes book with mystery in them, but apparently I'm not a huge fan of the mystery genre.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

YouTube Tuesday: Teh Internets

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

The state our internet is large.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Links and Stuff: April 1, 2010