Friday, June 29, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Glassy

For some reason, I felt the need to track down tights that looked like stained glass. I found these (Thanks Google!), and I think they're pretty nifty.

They're called Kaleidoscope Stockings and you can buy a pair from Sock Theory.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Variations on a Theme Update

Sorry folks, no Variations on a Theme this month. The Boyfriend and I are moving soon; between that and work, I just plumb forgot to write it up. I'll have my usual themed list of books for you in late July... after I unpack.

Have a great weekend and happy reading!

Links and Stuff: June 28, 2012

My favorite quote of the week comes from this post from the Swiss Army Librarian: "Which just goes to prove the reference librarian's motto: you don't need to know everything, you just need to know how to find everything."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What I Read This Week: June 24, 2012

I went to a Nationals baseball game on Tuesday. I don't know what it is about baseball games, but this one finally made it feel like summer (even though I spent last Saturday at the beach). Clearly I need to eat ballpark food under the lights to feel like we've finally hit the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Or, maybe, the switch to summer happened because the heat index in DC hit 102 on Wednesday. That might be it.

As for my reading, it was quite varied.
  • I read the latest Master Plan for the university where I work. It was lengthy (just over 100 pages), full of diagrams, and very informative. The document focuses mainly on the physical changes of the Univeristy's campus. (More trees!) It will be interesting to see how these plans come together over the following years.
  • In the continuing saga off "Clean off the Desk" week, I took the time to read (instead of skim) the University Leadership Council's Redefining the Academic Library. It's a document that looks into the future of the library, and anyone who works at a university or college library should take a gander at the pages. Not all the points made are new or revolutionary, but the whole document leaves you a lot to think about.
  • In lieu magazines on the elliptical, I chose to put a large dent in Blackout. It's still not as bitey as I expected, but I'm enjoying it.I just need to enjoy it faster because, on Friday, I picked up a book I had on hold... and I can't renew it. Sad face.

Friday, June 22, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Flitter Flutter

These tights may be too cute for words. I'm not normally one for tights with animals on them (unless they're for a costume), but these butterfly tights are simply darling.

You can get these at Bare Necessities.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Links and Stuff: June 21, 2012

My favorite find of this week was the Tumblr Underground New York Public Library. It's a collection of images of people reading on the subway... and it makes me smile.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What I Read This Week: June 17, 2012

I did a double take when I realized that June was halfway over. Where does the time go? No, seriously. Is there like a wormhole or something that keeps sucking the days away? Then again, my sense of time displacement could come from the fact that this past work week was only 3.5 days long for me... and I was at the beach yesterday. Win!

  • I finished (!) Mockingjay. I actually think this was a better book upon re-reading it. I love it when that happens. 
  • To follow the Hunger Games binge, I stared reading the last book in Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, Blackout. So far, so good. Nothing too bitey yet. I need to finish this book sooner rather than later because I have a book ready for pick-up at the library. Sadly, I won't be able to renew that one since there is a waiting list. I should also mention here.... The Boyfriend needed something to read, he decided to download Insurgent since he didn't want to wait for a library hard or e-copy. I guess that means I don't have to wait either. Win!
  • CNN posted an article about fathers and sons that made me choke up. It's short, but the emotional punch is powerful. 
  • One of my favorite bloggers posted a bit about what books mean to her. I found myself nodding at almost every line.
  • Somehow, I worked out for an hour on Tuesday without realizing it. (See what I mean by time disappearing on me?) That randomness allowed me the time to finish the June issue of The Atlantic. The second half of the magazine was not as good as the first, but I did enjoy the article about female amateur boxing. I may actually attempt to watch that part of the Olympics this summer.

Friday, June 15, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - She Sells Seashells

The Boyfriend and I are going to the beach tomorrow. The weather may not be that warm, but gosh darnit, I wanna see me some sand and ocean waves.

These tights honor our day-trip to the coast.

Sadly, I don't know where you can buy these tights. They were just too perfect not to share. I found them on Pinterest.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book 27: Mockingjay (Re-Read)

TITLE: Mockingjay
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
STARTED: May 28, 2012
FINISHED: June 10, 2012
PAGES: 390
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather.

SUMMARY: [From] Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

THOUGHTS: While re-reading the Hunger Games series, I was just happy to see that it was as good as I remember. What I was unprepared for was to think that the final book, Mockingjay, was better than I remembered. The writing and character development were stronger than I recalled. More importantly, the emotional journey of the book was far more impactful during my re-read.

I first read Mockingjay during a read-a-thon. It's time to admit that I was speed reading to finish. That meant that I did not fully comprehend just how emotionally charged the final book in this series was. This time around, I finished this book during a long car trip. The hours I had to fill meant that I took my time reading this book.

Well, color me surprised when I found myself having to fight back tears during the final chapters. The ending of this book had a bigger punch than I remember. It was (slight spoiler warning?) way more devastating than I can recall from my original read. I also think that this was the only ending that could exist. It was not happy by any means, in fact it was tragic - but it was still the best ending for this series. And, yes, cue the tears.

RATING: Re-Read 7/10 [Original Rating was 6/10]

Links and Stuff: June 15, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

YouTube Tuesday: Rainy Day Reading

It's raining. All I want to do is curly up in bed and read (with tea!). Sadly, I can't do that right now. Instead, I'm listening to James Earl Jones read Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

What I Read This Week: June 10, 2012

As I predicted, this week was WAY better for reading. I guess that's what happens when you spend most of your time at home. Most of the reading from this week occurred on Monday through Wednesday. The Boyfriend and I are attended a wedding in New Jersey this weekend, and that included a quick jaunt to Manhattan. Fun times!
  • The Chronicle of Higher education posted a wonderful (and heartbreaking) article about Dasmine Cathey. He was a college football player who could not read, so he taught himself. To add to that, he put his family and friends first, often to his own personal detriment. It's a wonderful article, but the issues it raises with college football and education are very troubling.
  • I finally got around to reading the ARL Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. It didn't teach me anything new (I am that much of a fair use nerd), but it's nice to finally have a document like this to refer to when necessary.
  • I read about half of the June issue of the Atlantic. I found the cover story about B.F Skinner and modern diet techniques to be very interesting. I highly recommend it. I also enjoyed the brief articles on the relocation of beavers and cognac
  • For work, I started reading Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics. Cataloging is in up a shake-up. I figured I should know things.
  • To cap things off, I managed to get a few more chapters into Mockingjay. I am so glad that I bought the box set.

Friday, June 08, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find -

I was scrolling through the Bare Necessities website, when I found these. The first thing I thought was "These are fun!"

Happy Friday!

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Book 26: Catching Fire (Re-Read)

TITLE: Catching Fire
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
STARTED: May 20, 2012
FINISHED: May 27, 2012
PAGES: 391
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air.

SUMMARY: [From] Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

THOUGHTS: My thoughts about this book after my re-read are much the same as they were after I originally finished.What I noticed this time around was how deliberative of a character Katniss is. While she does act impetuously (often), when she's give the time to think, she does. It creates an interesting dynamic - one where she seems to be playing a real-life game of chess.

The Boyfriend was not wowed by these books because he did not see character growth. In some ways I agree, but in other ways I think there is growth - at least with Katniss. She still acts the same - but she has a better understanding of the consequences that may follow her actions. So, it's not necessarily "growth" per se, but maturing I saw in her during Catching Fire.

Catching Fire is much less about the games, and more about politics. While I did miss the action of the arena, the set up of the rebellion was fascinating to read again. This book is definitely a transitional book that leads up to Mockingjay. It's not as fast paced, but it does set up the final act well. This is a book that would not stand on its own, but it plays a pivotal role in the series.

This trilogy, I think, is one that may stand the test of time. I'm glad I bought books. I plan on re-reading them again... a long time from now - and I wonder what I will think of them then.

RATING: Re-Read 7/10 [Original rating was 7/10]

Links and Stuff: June 7, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Book 25: The Challenge of Library Management

TITLE: The Challenge of Library Management: Leading with Emotional Engagement
AUTHOR: Wyoma van Duinkerken and Pixey Anne Mosley
STARTED: April 26, 2012
FINISHED: may 24, 2012
PAGES: 169
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: Continuous change in libraries: one sees it emphasized time after time in conference programs and in the scholarly and popular literature of librarianship.

SUMMARY: [From Barnes and Noble] Change is inevitable and essential to any functioning institution. But change can be stressful, especially when it upsets established routines and patterns. Library managers need to be able to lead staff through episodes of change while remaining empathetic, and this book shows them how to engage library staff in the process and encourage their active participation, navigate successfully through common types of change, such as space planning, departmental reorganization, and changes in work responsibilities, draw on concepts from psychology, communication, empowerment, planning, and evaluation to minimize friction most workplace changes are not ends in themselves but part of a continuous process of transition. Peppered with short narratives that use real-life examples of change principles, this book helps managers reassure their staff that change can be an opportunity for reflection and personal growth.

THOUGHTS: As far as management books go, this was one of the better ones I've read. Each chapter breaks down a different area in the how and why of good management. The authors discuss various techniques and their associated benefits and pitfalls. The writing was overly technical and expository in some areas but the book, on the whole, was quite readable. I particularly like how each chapter was concluded with take about points and thought exercises. 

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Seen on the Metro: Bootie

I don't know why it pleases me so darn much when a reader matches their book... but it does.

Last week, on my commute home, a fellow metro rider was paging through Treasure Island. He looked to  be about a quarter of the way into the text. My guess is that he was enjoying Stevenson's work, because that was a herky-jerky train (silly manual control operation) and his eyes never wavered from the page.

The part that tickled me pink, however, was that he had a goatee and a ponytail. He looked like a character from the book. Argh, mateys!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Book 24: Divergent

TITLE: Divergent
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth
STARTED: May 9, 2012 
FINISHED: May 19, 2012
PAGES: 490
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: There is one mirror in my house.

SUMMARY: [From Barnes and Noble] In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

THOUGHTS: In my head, this book is a "Meh" read. If my actions, however, are any indication, than this book is really really good.

You see, I have heard many a good review about this series (including one comment that said it was better than Hunger Games) - so I decided to give it a shot. As I was reading, I was not thrilled - but that could be because I was reading about 10 pages at a time. Then, a break in my schedule allowed me to complete the book in two big chunks (and I stayed up WAY past my bed time to do so). Since I've finished, I've been not-so-patiently waiting for Insurgent, the next book in the series. I even went as far to take time out of my lunch break to renew my local library privileges so that I could get on the hold list. And yes, when I saw that I was 92nd on the list, I pouted. I also scoured the catalog of the academic library consortium where I work to see if any copies turned up. And, yes, I've contemplated buying the darn thing so that I don't have to wait.

I consider this book to be a Hunger Games bandwagon book - which is most likely the reason why I can't separate the two. This also makes it hard for me to review Divergent unbiasedly. I loved Hunger Games (and re-reading it right before tackling this book was probably not fair). But, all things considered, Hunger Games was still the better book (and most likely will be the better series in the end).

Divergent was not bad, in fact it was quite a good read in the end. But it felt like a knock-off the whole time I was reading it. The main character, Tris, is a strong female who is dealing with a whole new (and dangerous) world and her own emotions toward the male lead, Four. (He is pretty hot, and they do have obvious chemistry.) The parallels of the two series are obvious, and Hunger Games pulls it off just a bit better. The story is more forced in Divergent, and the plot feels more contrived. There is less nuance to the story, and more "I have an idea so I'm just going to spit it out" going on in the book. I guess you could say the story needs more editing. To many things happen without explanation - and the turning points at the end felt like escapes from more complicated plot lines.

That said, I couldn't put it down. The main story and characters are still compelling. No matter how bandwagony the book was, I still wanted to know what would happen in the end.

Divergent feels like it's trying to hard to be the next Hunger Games series - in both the characters, plot lines, and writing style. Setting all of that aside, however, this is still a good book and one that I glad I read. A book can't be bad when I'm ravenous for the next addition to the series.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

YouTube Tuesday: Off and On

Step 1...

Monday, June 04, 2012

Book 23: The Hunger Games (Re-Read)

TITLE: The Hunger Games
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
STARTED: April 23, 2012
FINISHED: May 8, 2012
PAGES: 374
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.

SUMMARY: [From Barnes and Noble] Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival

THOUGHTS: After seeing the movie, I was in the mood to re-read the book. I still love the book, but I was not as seduced with the story as I was during my initial read.

During my first read, I plowed through the book. I just needed to know what came next. The second time around, I took my time. Because of the more leisurely pace, I noticed that the text was very explanatory. I was all about story the first go-round. During my re-read, I was more interested in the writing style, and I was a bit let down. The story is still excellent, but the writing felt simplistic and lacking nuance.

Even with the flaws I noticed in the writing this time, I still loved all the characters and the world Collins created. I bought the books (in a boxed set!), and I still think it was a great purchase. I love the series, but the magic of my initial crush has dissipated.

You can read my initial review here.

RATING: Re-Read 8/10 [Original rating was 9/10]

Sunday, June 03, 2012

What I Read This Week: June 3, 2012

This week was so full of "stuff" that the only thing I managed to read was a few chapters of Mockingjay and the daily newspaper (which I skimmed). In retrospect, I'm lucky that I was able to read at all. Sometimes, I love having events every night, but it does make me long for the days where I can curl in bed and just sink into a book.

This week looks far less busy. I hope I can make it to the gym (to work on my magazines) and put a dent in Mockingjay.

As for the rest of June (and early July), if I manage to complete a single book, I will be impressed. The Boyfriend and I are moving (and so is The Roomie... but luckily only down the street - Girls' Nights continue!). We all have a lot of packing and planning to do between now and mid-July. Happily, The Boyfriend and I have already purchased a sofa (with chaise! - so gonna do a lot of reading there) for our new place. I think I sat my tush on about 20 different sofas, but the fact that one we chose is in "coffee" upholstery tells me that it's fate.

Friday, June 01, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Rainy Days

The weather report warns that today will be rainy... with a side of severe thunderstorms. Thus, today's Fashion Find was chosen because it reminds me of a downpour. A downpour that, later tonight, will require me to burrow under a blanket... with tea... and a book.

You can find these guys at IL Couture.

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Book 22: Performance Management and Appraisal

TITLE: Performance Management and Appraisal: A How-to-Do Manual for Librarians
AUTHOR: G. Edward Evans
STARTED: April 4, 2012
FINISHED: April 26, 2012
PAGES: 293
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: Performance appraisal (PA) is a fixture in management and a fact of life in the majority of libraries in the United States.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon] The performance appraisal (PA), though a fixture in management and a fact of life in most libraries, is still a universally dreaded part of library life. The PA is integral in salary and promotion decisions, personnel development, and institutional improvement. Evans divides his book into three parts: "Before You Begin," "Appraisal Methods You Can Use," and "Performance Appraisal Forms You Can Adapt." He covers library employees from faculty to library pages and office staff for all types of libraries. A detailed index provides additional access points. The companion CD contains selected sample forms in PDF and Microsoft Word formats for academic and public libraries plus instructions for raters. The useful references, tips, tables, checklists, and forms will help guide any library's PA process. Managers wanting to improve their workplace will want to study this new manual.

THOUGHTS: A very basic manual that covers what to review, how to review, why we review, yada yada yada. Considering I now have to conduct reviews, I consider this a good read. I wish it were a bit more library focused (outside of the forms), but it still provided decent information.

It was a rather blah read, but at least it was informative.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]