Friday, August 31, 2012

Variations on a Theme: Big Books

I'm currently reading a book that weighs in at 560 pages. It's quiet a hefty tome in size. Sometimes Big Books can be daunting, but other times you just want a nice, thick and juicy novel that you can sink into. Big Books are great for the fall and winter, when you can make a cup of tea (or spiked hot cocoa), snuggle under a blanket, and read for hours.

Here is my last of Big Books that you my find enjoyable. I've linked reviews of the books I've read.

Diana Gabaldon

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. Her husband is two centuries away, she is related to her lover's mortal enemy, and her neighbors think she's a witch. In this unforgettable novel of time travel, Diana Gabaldon fuses wry, modern sensibility with the drama, passion, and violence of eighteenth century as she tells the story of one daring woman and the man who loves her.

The Crimson Petal and the White
Michael Faber

At the heart of this panoramic, multidimensional narrative is the compelling struggle of a young woman to lift her body and soul out of the gutter. Faber leads us back to 1870s London, where Sugar, a nineteen-year-old whore in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, yearns for escape to a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters. They begin with William Rackham, an egotistical perfume magnate whose ambition is fueled by his lust for Sugar, and whose patronage brings her into proximity to his extended family and milieu: his unhinged, childlike wife, Agnes, who manages to overcome her chronic hysteria to make her appearances during “the Season”; his mysteriously hidden-away daughter, Sophie, left to the care of minions; his pious brother, Henry, foiled in his devotional calling by a persistently less-than-chaste love for the Widow Fox, whose efforts on behalf of The Rescue Society lead Henry into ever-more disturbing confrontations with flesh; all this overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all stripes and persuasions. [My review here.]

The Memoirs of Cleopatra
Margaret George

Bestselling novelist Margaret George brings to life the glittering kingdom of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, in this luch, sweeping, and richly detailed saga. Told in Cleopatra's own voice, this is a mesmerizing tale of ambition, passion, and betrayl, which begins when the twenty-year-old queen seeks out the most powerful man in the world, Julius Caesar, and does not end until, having survived the assassination of Caesar and the defeat of the second man she loves, Marc Antony, she plots her own death rather than be paraded in triumph through the streets of Rome.

Kushiel's Dart
Jacqueline Carey

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt. Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear. [My review here.]

Paulina Simons

The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad. Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

Jean M. Auel

This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves The Clan of the Cave Bear. A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly--she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

Other Big Book Titles:
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell 
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
North and South - John Jakes
The Stand - Stephen King
The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackery 

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - School Days

Today marks the end of the first week of classes at my university. While it's still hot out, I expect to see more tights to appear on campus as the weather gets colder. To mark this occasion, I've decide to showcase this pair of "academic" tights.

You can grab these from Kmart.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Links and Stuff: August 30, 2012

Not that I need to convince you, but here is an infographic showing why you should support your library.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

YouTube Tuesday: Databases?

It's the first week of classes! Yes, I was that kid who loved going back to school. I'm exceedingly happy, because this year I am an embedded librarian in our First Year Experience program. Hopefully, I'll be able to explain research and library resources to our new students as well as the video above.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What I Read This Week: August 26, 2012

I am so out of my reading groove that it's not even funny. Also, my magazines are piling up again because of it. One of these days I'll get back into the swing of things... once work calms down a bit. Every year I forget how crazy the new academic year can be, and every year I find myself scrambling to get stuff done. By the time I get home all I want to do is watch bad television and snack..

At least I replaced snacking with completing a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle with The Boyfriend.
  • I started reading Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. It's quite the chunker of a book, but so far I am really enjoying it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Follow-Up

Remember when I found these sparkly salsa tights for a Friday Fashion find? It's okay, if you don't.... cause now I can remind you.

These shiny little things arrived in my mailbox this week (finally!). That's what I get for ordering from the UK.
Party in a package!

Ooooo, sparkles!

If you're interested, you can still buy a pair from Eve's Legwear.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Links and Stuff: August 23, 2012

Finally, keep an eye out for the latest trends in YA books: mermaids. I foresee future movie franchises...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What I Read This Week: August 19, 2012

Wow, my reading dropped off this week. I blame that on the need to run errands and catch up on cuddles with The Boyfriend who was gone for a week. (I am so clingy... like a cat who wants to be fed.)

Look at this week's pitiful list:
  • I finished Ally Condie's Crossed.
Yep, that's it. I finished the book that is due back at the library soon. Go me. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - What?

I was on Pinterest the other day... like usual... and decide to put "tights" in the search box. These tights were the first image that made me go, "Um...what?"

Yep, that's all it takes to make it as a Friday Fashion Find.

You can find these babies here.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Seen on the Metro: Diamond in the Rough

Normally, I first notice what people are reading followed by what they might be wearing or carrying. This time around, my eyes latched onto an adorable pink hobo purse.

It was light pink with a hint of gray, and I felt the stirrings of accesory jealousy. It was a seriously cute bag.

Then, I happen to notice that my fellow commuter with great fashion taste was a few pages into One in a Million by Kimberla Lawson Roby.

I may have to give this book a try seeing as how I loved this women's bag. (Yes, I will find any excuse to read a book.)

Bonus points with lady with awesome bag because said book was from the library. Girl crush!

Links and Stuff: August 16, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seen on the Metro: Economical

Commuting into work last week, I saw a guy reading a book. Like you do. I thought the title was The Crisis of Economism. I was intrigued.

Needless to say, when I went to look for it (thinking the book was about the banking crisis or modern economies), I couldn't find a thing. Well, I gots smart and started looking by the author's name - Peter Beinart.

Turns out the book was The Crisis of Zionism. The Z had been partially obscured by the Ravens football duffel bag the guy carried.

Two very different books - both (yes, even the fake one in my head) seem interesting.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What I Read This Week: August 12, 2012

Olympics! Unlike many, I did not suffer from Olympics fatigue and watched every night - even though the second half (track and field) is not my favorite. NBC, I disagree with your tape delay, but I still boosted your ratings. (As a thank you to me, you should renew Community indefinitely.)

Even with all my TV watching, I managed to read a bit.
  • I'm back into my attempts to clean out my magazines. Moving and everything related to it meant that my subscriptions kept piling up. First on the docket, the July 2012 issue of National Geographic. It was an average issue, but enjoyed the stories on Easter Island and lost languages. I also liked seeing the black and white pictures of epic storms.
  • Yesterday, I managed to plow through four magazines. Go me! That just leaves me with the latest National Geographic to get to. Anywho, here is what I did read:
    • Everyday Food, September Issue - I pulled several delicious looking recipes, including one for caramelized pears.
    • Cooking Light, August Issue - I didn't pull too many recipes, but I loved the story about simple cooking.
    • Real Simple, July Issue - There were some great ideas for toasted marshmallows, and I loved the story about a women's running group.
    • Real Simple, August Issue - This was a fantastic issue. They had a whole feature on gorgeous flats (many of which I want), followed by a wonderful article on healthy snacking, and ending with a series of stories about conversations that changed lives. Pick up this issue if you can.
  • Book wise, I managed to put a dent in Condie's Crossed. So far, I think it's better than the first book in the series. I may need to schedule out a chunk of time to read more than 20 pages at once.
  • I'm still working on the FYE primer the university put out, I just keep getting wrapped up in other things at work.

Speaking of work, I took some time this week to clean out my inbox and the papers on my desk. I decided to condense all of the articles I've been saving to read "later" into one file on my desktop. Hooooboy - there are a lot of articles. I plan on culling them and then printing out the ones I actually need/want to read. That may be professional reading for the foreseeable future. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Union Jack

It's Olympic Season! Well, technically, Olympic season is almost over. To celebrate the host nation, I think Kate Middleton should wear these tights at the Closing Ceremony.

C'mon Kate! Do it for the colonies. You can pick up a pair of these tights at Dorothy Perkins.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Monday, August 06, 2012

Book 30: Introducing RDA

TITLE: Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics
AUTHOR: Chris Oliver
STARTED: June 7, 2012
FINISHED: July 5, 2012
PAGES: 117
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: RDA, Resource Description and Access, is the new cataloging standard that replaces the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2).

SUMMARY: [From B&N] While Resource Description and Access (RDA), the new cataloging standard, succeeding Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR), is finally a reality, a firm understanding of what it is and how it will affect our current cataloging practices is still an elusive dream for some. Oliver (cataloging & authorities coordinator, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal), chair of the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, has written a useful guide that provides a clear explanation of what RDA is all about. Through numerous examples, Oliver compares and contrasts RDA and AACR. He also discusses RDA background and its connection to the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) models and international standards, changes in cataloging practice, the advantages of changing to RDA, and the factors involved in making the transition, e.g., the training involved.

THOUGHTS: I learned nothing until the last chapter. Seriously, it was gobbly-gook to me. I think that says more about me than it does about the author. I should have read the last chapter and left it at that. In fact, that is what I recommend. If you are not a seasoned cataloger but need to learn about RDA, just read the last chapter.

The writing was fine, but I don't immerse myself in cataloging so many of the fine details were lost on me.

RATING: 4/10 [An "okay" book]

Sunday, August 05, 2012

What I Read This Week: August 5, 2012

I've been watching the Olympics all week (and expect do the same next week). I'm a spoiler lover, so I don't mind knowing the results beforehand. I find myself glued to the television during the prime time coverage (and the non-prime time when I'm home for it.) Sure NBC has it problems (and big ones at that), but at least I get to see the events.

For all of my TV viewing this week, I still managed to get some reading done. If there was an Olympic medal of reading coverage, I might get a bronze.

  • I finally (!) finished the July/August 2012 issue of The Atlantic. I found the cover story about Women to be very interesting. I'm an ardent feminist and I found myself nodding in agreement... most of the time. There were still some instances where I wanted to say, "But this thing!" I can see why the article has been controversial, but I think people are taking the whole thing too personally.  The article about Chris Christie and his man crush on Bruce Springsteen was also pretty good.
  • I started reading the primer the school handed out to incoming freshman. The primer has selected readings which are then discussed on the incoming student blog/website. It's pretty interesting and I'm playing catch up since I received the primer late. As I'll be teaching these freshman this year (as an embedded FYE librarian), I figure it might help to be familiar with the things.
  • Since it's Olympic season (as you might have noticed), I've been gobbling up the news of the goings-on in London. I've been loving the NPR blog, The Torch, in particular. If you can, I highly recommend following it for the rest of the games. I also enjoyed all the "giffed" Atlantic Wire articles (like this one and this one).

Friday, August 03, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Swatch It!

For those DIYers in the crowd, these tights are for you.

Yes, those indeed are paint swatch tights. I found the image on this here blog.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Book 29: Matched

TITLE: Matched
AUTHOR: Ally Condie
STARTED: June 26, 2012
FINISHED: July 2, 2012
PAGES: 369
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: Now that I've found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?

SUMMARY: [From] Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

THOUGHTS: In my continuing quest to read all the Hunger Games bandwagon books, I started the new(ish) series by Ally Condie. So far, it's tolerable. This book did not have the action of Collins' books, but the world building was very interesting.

Where Hunger Games is all about physical action, Matched is far more subtle. Its about motives and society. The interesting part of this book is not the love story... which I am still very wary of, but how Cassia fits in The Society. It's almost a book of motive - why do people act and react they way to do according to society's dictates. In that regard, this book is very readable. I could take or leave everything else. I'm just not won over by the love triangle, writing, or secondary characters. There is just nothing that special about them. I am, however, still intrigued as to how this world evolves and plays out in the rest of the series. I want to know how this Society came to be, why they acted as they did in the past, and why things are heating up now.

Will I still keep reading the series? Of course.

Do I think that's a good idea? I'm not sure...

RATING: 5/10 [Meh]

Links and Stuff: August 2, 2012

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Book 28: Blackout

TITLE: Blackout
AUTHOR: Mira Grant
STARTED: June 11, 2012
FINISHED: June 25, 2012
PAGES: 672
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: My story ended where so many stories have ended since the Rising: with a man - in this case, my adoptive brother and best friend, Shaun - holding a gun to the base of my skull as the virus in my blood betrayed me, transforming me from a thinking human being into something better suited to a horror move.

SUMMARY: [From Barnes and Noble] The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.

The year was 2039. The world didn't end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.

Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there's one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it's this: Things can always get worse.

THOUGHTS: What a let down. I was incredibly excited for the conclusion of this series and this book did not do it. I inclined to think that the author set herself up to fail. The first two books were sooooo good that this one, unless it was mind-blowingly awesome, was going to seem "meh" in comparsion. I would have liked "meh," instead I got "why." There is no reason for this book to exist.

The author backed herself into a corner at the end of book 2, and spent the entriety of this book trying to explain herself. There are long stretches of not action, punctuated by flurried activity. That worked in the previous books, but here it feel drawn out for the purposes of increasing the page count. Grant seemed to have a lot of ideas, characters, and plot points floating around in her head. Instead of editing them down to the good stuff, they were all forced in - whether or not they made sense to the overarching storyline.

And, to make matters worse, the "big secrets" were so dull. The first I saw coming since the first book... the second, the zombie related one that was supposed to mean everythign, was so convoluted that I didn't care. It was supposed to answer all our questions; instead, I was glad the book was over.

The only things that keep this book from being a complete bust are the snark and secondary characters. Those bits were still readable. Everything else was blah.

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

Seen on the Metro: What's That?

I have this innate ability to know when someone is reading a romance novel. I think it goes back to my days in college when I would devour them like chocolate.

The other day, I saw a woman on the metro... and I knew, I just knew she was reading a romance novel. Sadly, I couldn't read the name of the book because she had the cover wrapped in a floral cloth cover. But I knew it was a romance novel!

She caught me watching her (in my attempt to read the title on one of pages). She shifted a little and put the cover up more. I almost said, "No judging here! I love romance novels and just wanted to see the title." But I didn't... cause I thought that might be creepy.

Le sigh.

She appeared about halfway through the book. I still want to know what she was reading...