Friday, January 30, 2015

The Friday Find: Sips

The Ladies and I go for tea on occasion. It's always a treat to get a touch dressed up to eat finger sandwiches and scones. After seeing this week's find, I may have to host a literary tea party of my own.

You can grab this set from Acorn.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Variations on a Theme: Photography

After looking (and relooking and relooking) at our wedding photos, I was inspired to make January's Variations on a Theme about photography. The following is a collection of books that feature famous photos and photographers.

Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs
Ansel Adams

In a career that spanned six decades, Ansel Adams produced a remarkable body of work that is at once an artistic tour de force and a powerful tribute to his beloved American wilderness. Adams was given his first camera, a Kodak Box Brownie, in 1916, and made his first photographs during a family vacation in Yosemite National Park. Thus began a career and a lifetime devoted to making indelible images of America's wild places, its national parks, and its great mountain ranges. This book is the largest compilation of Adams' photographic oeuvre ever published. Organized chronologically, it presents the full range of his finest work, from early efforts in the 1920s, to his projects in the national parks in the 1940s, up through his last important photographs of the 1960s. Included are Adams' most popular images – many of them icons of twentieth-century art – as well as a number of masterly but little-known photographs.

Leah Bendavid-Val

This stunning volume was the gift book of the year when it first published, and the images that grace its pages remain iconic. From the famous Afghan girl whose haunting green eyes stare out from the book’s cover, and her poignant story that captured the world’s interest, to award-winning photography culled from the Society’s vast archives, The Photographs offers readers an inside look at National Geographic and a sharp-eyed view of the world. The book showcases the skill and imagination of such notable Geographic photographers as David Doubilet, William Albert Allard, Sam Abell, Jim Stanfield, Jodi Cobb, Jim Brandenburg, David Alan Harvey, and many more. They share their techniques, as well as personal and colorful anecdotes about individual images and their adventures in the field—sometimes humorous, sometimes terrifying, always vividly compelling. Author Leah Bendavid-Val writes about the photographers’ achievements from technical, journalistic, and artistic perspectives. 

Val Williams

Every day and all over the world, millions of people take countless photographs. Yet only a few of those images stand out from the rest, demand the world's attention, and survive the test of time. This unusual new book showcases 100 outstanding photographers and points out the unique qualities that make their pictures great.Guided by the expert eye of author Val Williams, When Photography Really Works covers a time span of more than 100 years, showing readers how to recognize the defining qualities of important photographic art in genres that include portraits, landscapes, nudes, photojournalism, abstract imagery, and more.

Elizabeth Partridge

This beautiful volume celebrates one of the twentieth century's most important photographers, Dorothea Lange. Led off by an authoritative biographical essay by Elizabeth Partridge (Lange's goddaughter), the book goes on to showcase Lange's work in over a hundred glorious plates. Dorothea Lange is the only career-spanning monograph of this major photographer's oeuvre in print, and features images ranging from her iconic Depression-era photograph "Migrant Mother" to lesser-known images from her global travels later in life. Presented as the companion book to a PBS American Masters episode that will air in 2014, this deluxe hardcover offers an intimate and unparalleled view into the life and work of one of our most cherished documentary photographers. 

Brandon Stanton

Based on the blog with more than four million loyal fans, a beautiful, heartfelt, funny, and inspiring collection of photographs and stories capturing the spirit of a city. Now an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, Humans of New York began in the summer of 2010, when photographer Brandon Stanton set out to create a photographic census of New York City.  Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories.  The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called "Humans of New York," in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes. The blog has steadily grown, now boasting millions of devoted followers.  Humans of New York is the book inspired by the blog.  With four hundred color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York. Surprising and moving, printed in a beautiful full-color, hardbound edition, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of the city.

Annie Leibovitz

"I don't have two lives," Annie Leibovitz writes in the Introduction to this collection of her work from 1990 to 2005. "This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it." Portraits of well-known figures - Johnny Cash, Nicole Kidman, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Keith Richards, Michael Jordan, Joan Didion, R2-D2, Patti Smith, Nelson Mandela, Jack Nicholson, and William Burroughs - appear alongside pictures of Leibovitz's family and friends, reportage from the siege of Sarajevo in the early Nineties, and landscapes. The pictures form a narrative of a life rich in contrasts and continuities. The photographer has a long relationship that ends with illness and death. She chronicles the celebrations and heartbreaks of her large and robust family. She has children of her own. All the while, she is working, and the public work resonates with the themes of the life.

Other Photography Books
6 Billion Others: Portraits of Humanity from Around the World - Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Annie Leibovitz at Work - Annie Leibovitz
Dorothea Lange - Mark Durden
Find Momo: A Photography Book - Andrew Knapp
Life: The Classic Collection - Life Magazine Editors
On Photography - Susan Sontag
Photography: A Definitive Visual History - Tom Ang
Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All Time - Chris Dickie
Photos that Changed the World - Peter Stepan
Work: The World in Photographs - Ferdinand Protzman

Links and Stuff: January 29, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What I Read This Week: January 25, 2015

We got our wedding pictures back this week! I might have looked at them a dozen times already... with no promises to stop. Our photographers did a fantastic job (I've added a pic of our first dance below... cause I can), and I'm so glad Lady C found (and let me steal) them. How I'm going to be able to decide which of the 902 (!) pictures make it into an album is beyond me, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Speaking of Lady C, I spent Saturday with her, Lady B, and Lady K watching the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. We called it The Lakening for reasons. The weather was fairly gross outside, so it was nice to spend the day lazing about with some Austen and Firth. Firth makes everything better. I also now have a desire to re-read Bridget Jones' Diary.
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, January 2015 - What a great issue to kick off the year. This was a cover-to-cover read. I particularly enjoyed the articles on The First American, The First City of Africa, and what's inside the cosmos. Also, pretty pictures of pre-historic of cave art are always a winner.
    • The Atlantic, January/February 2015 - Ooo was this an interesting issue. I consider the cover story on the decline of the American military a must read. There was also an article on Erick Erickson, a conservative commentator I've heard but knew little about. Finally, I handed this issue over to The Husband so he could read the piece about living in space. Good stuff.
  • Books
    • I've (just barely) started my first book of the year. 2015 is getting kicked off with The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. I'm only a few pages in, but I find the reading intriguing so far. This is not my usual kind of book, so I'm excited to see how things go.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Friday Find: Austen-some!

Next to Etsy, Out of Print may be one of my favorite locations to find awesome bookish things. I mean, who wouldn't want to visit the library and use this awesome tote to bring home all their books?

Buy it here.

Maybe the librarians will even give you extra credit (?) for using library related goods.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why I Love...Pinning

Yup. Pinning. As in Pinterest. As in that thing many a person on the web is addicted to. I am one of them. I use Pinterest for a ton of stuff, but I have found two awesome book related uses.

Use the First: Hello Purty Bookish Things
Before Pinterest, I would find all this random library/librarian/bookish related stuff online. I tried saving pictures on my computer, but it just didn't seem to work for saving web links. So then there was a hybrid system where I kept pictures in a folder and links in a Google document. Not ideal - in fact, I would call it unweildly. Then Lady B introduced me to Pinterest and one of the first boards I made became devoted to Librarian Stuff. Now I have a central location to save all the bookish stuff I find AND maintain links to the original source. Love it!

Use the Second: Books, Books, and More Books
I've written about my TBR tracking system before, so I won't go into too much history, but needless to say, it too was lacking. I love that Pinterest allows me to browse covers and, because it's a web page, is still searchable. I have two Books to Read boards: one for personal reading and another for professional reading. Also, seeing all the covers in one location makes me deliriously happy for no other reason than it's purty.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Sunday Night Rant

While I was cleaning out my Feedly reader tonight, I came across this headline: Do libraries still need to provide internet access? The click-baitness of the title alone made me instantly furious, but the link took me to a letter to the editor that made me even angrier. The writer sums up his letter with this statement: "With the real definition and purpose of a library in mind, Fairfax officials should strive to offer what avid readers have wanted all along: a book-filled and Internet-free library."

A couple of immediate thoughts come to mind, none of which I can type, but letters and privileged mindsets like this make me furious. 

Yes, a thousand times yes!, libraries should continue to provide internet access. To not do so goes against everything we stand for. Internet access, even for the game playing this writer derides, is essential to our mission to provide free and equitable access to everyone in our communities. 

Letter writers like this tend to ignore the massive digital divide that still exists in this country. Not everyone has the internet available in their homes or on their phones. For many, the library is the only place they access information on the internet. For many, the library is the only place they can apply for jobs (many of which are online application only). For many, the library is the only place they can do school research because the schools themselves lack the proper technology or access. For many, the library is the only place to apply for the health insurance policies they are now required to carry by law. For many areas, the library is the only internet connected building in the community.

I love dead tree books, but as a librarian, I do not let my love for the traditional stacks get in the way of the mission of the library. "The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas." I and other libraries do not judge why people use the internet at the library, whether for research or game-playing. The library is open to everyone for whatever information or entertainment need our patrons wish to fulfill. If you think the "real definition and purpose of a library in mind" is to peruse the stacks in silence, please do so. I won't shush you - but I certainly won't tell the kids playing a computer game they have to stop.  

What I Read This Week: January 18, 2015

I have yet to pick up a book this month. My magazine backlog pile is just that large. I see a light at the end of the tunnel, but my mum did give me a subscription to HGTV magazine as a gift. Darn her knowledge of my love of all things interior design. That magazine is made by the same people who do Food Network Magazine, so I think I will enjoy each issue.

In other news, this three-day weekend allowed The Husband and I to do some fun stuff. We finally got to see Mockingjay. I am so happy the theaters around here still had it showing. I would have settled for seeing it on Netflix, but this was way better.
  • Magazines
    • Real Simple, November 2014 - I read this issue while dog sitting, and the puppy was curled up right next to me. She only tried to eat the pages once, but I did find her cuteness and cuddles a touch distracting. Anyway. In the article department, I enjoyed reading the pieces on gratitude and networking for introverts. On the holiday front, many of recipes and tips looked awesome, but I was a might bit irked that it was assumed women had to do all of the things. I'm all for holiday cheer and throwing events, but everyone should do the work. 
    • Food Network, December 2014 - Cookie cookie cookie! I love reading all the holiday, dessert nibble recipes even when I don't save any to make later. Same goes for the holiday dinners. Holiday food is the best. The issue has had two great feature pieces: gift ideas and cookbook recommendations.
    • Food Network, January / February 2015 - This issue was about a third of the size of the December issue. I think it took me all of 10 minutes to read. Those 10 minutes, however, started with a year's worth of chocolate desserts. (Noms!) Not much else stood out, but the information about Girl Scout Cookies and weeknight dinners was enjoyable.
  • Books
    • The fact that this bullet is empty makes me sad. I shall pick up a book again soon! Now I just need to figure out what I am in the mood to read.

Friday, January 16, 2015

2014 In Review

This is a quick re-cap of 2014 because I only read 17 books this year. Yikes! Althought, those 17 books did amount to 7,764 pages.

Apparently, I liked door-stoppers this year.

The Year In Genres

Fiction = 8
Non-Fiction = 3
Cookbook = 2
Young Adult/Juvenile =2
Wedding = 1
Romance = 1

The Year in Ratings
It was a slightly better than mediocre year. On the other hand, nothing truly stunk. Except Allegient. I did not enjoy that conclusion.

1 = 0
2 = 0
3 = 0
4 = 1
5 = 1
6 = 2
7 = 9
8 = 2
9 = 1
10 = 1

Top 5 Reads of 2014
Normally I would do a Top 10 list, but that seems pretty ridiculous given the number of books I read this year.

5. The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simmons
4. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
3. Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel
2. The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings by Carley Rooney
1. How To Be a Woman by Caitlan Moran 

There you have it. 2014 was a mundane year for reading, but a pretty kick-ass year for me (and The Husband) otherwise. Here's to a decent upcoming year of reading and other bookish things... if I could just finish my magazine backlog first.

The Friday Find: Watercolor

Sometimes, you need a little something pretty to decorate your library.

I found this on the Tumblr prettybooks. It's available for purchase on Etsy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Links and Stuff: January 15, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book 17: Outlander [Re-Read]

TITLE: Outlander
AUTHOR: Diana Gabaldon
STARTED: December 21, 2014
FINISHED: December 31, 2014
PAGES: 850
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: People disappear all the time.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another... 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.

THOUGHTS: I was kind of shocked to find that this book did not hold up as well as I thought it would. Outlander is and continues to be my favorite fiction series, but I found myself noticing more issues with this book than I remember. The drama felt a bit more forced, and the writing came across as a touch sophomoric. That said, nothing can stop my love of Claire and Jaime. I don't care if this book is not as awesome as I remember, I still love reading it every time I pick it up.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book 16: The Mammoth Hunters

TITLE: The Mammoth Hunters
AUTHOR: Jean M. Auel
STARTED: November 3, 2014
FINISHED: December 21, 2014
PAGES: 723
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Trembling with fear, Ayla clung to the tall man beside her as she watched the strangers approached.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Once again, Jean M. Auel opens the door of time to reveal an age of wonder and terror at the dawn of humanity. With all the consummate storytelling artistry and vivid authenticity she brought to The Clan Of The Cave Bear and its sequel, The Valley Of Horses, Jean M. Auel continues the breathtaking epic journey of the woman called Ayla. Now, with her devoted Jondalar, Ayla boldly sets forth into the land of the Mamutoi--the Mammoth Hunters, the Others she has been seeking. Though Ayla must learn their strange customs and language, it is because of her uncanny hunting and healing skills that she is adopted into the Mammoth Hearth. Here Ayla finds her first women friends, and painful memories of the Clan she left behind. Here, too, is Ranec, the dark-skinned, magnetic master carver of ivory tusks to whom Ayla is irresistibly drawn--setting Jondalar on fire with jealousy. Throughout the icy winter, Ayla is torn between her two men. But soon will come the great spring mammoth hunt, when Ayla must choose her mate and her destiny -- to remain in the Hearth with Ranec, or to follow Jondalar into a far-off place and an unknown future.

THOUGHTS: I started reading this book as soon as I finished The Valley of the Horses. I have no regrets because it meant I got to continue following Ayla and Jondalar on their journey. I don't know why I love this series. I think it simply boils down to good storytelling. Auel has crafted interesting characters and placed them in an era rarely written about. I think those are the factors that keep me reading. I want to see where these characters ultimately end up.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What I Read This Week: January 11, 2015

Why did no one warn me about all the paperwork that needs to happen after you get married? I was prepared for the Thank You cards (in fact, I love writing those guys anyway), but I completely neglected all the changes that would need to occur otherwise. This might take me a few weeks... months... years? I've already decided it was a great idea to keep a picture of our marriage license on my phone.

The wedding and honeymoon have left me with an epic backlog of magazines and blog posts to read. I am nearly caught up with the blogs, but I have opted not to start a new book until I finish all my magazines... or at least catch up to the most recent issues. The just seem to keep arriving in the mailbox faster than I can read them... but I will triumph! dammit!

  • Work
    • American Libraries, January/February 2015 - I spent more time reading this issue than I thought I would. The cover story is all about the mid-winter conference (skipped that stuff), but the rest of the issue was full of great information. This was a rather diverse issue, but I enjoyed the articles on screening movies and "safe" storytime.
  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, December 2014 - I loved the "bake it forward" article in this issue. It encouraged readers to make a double batch of a baked good: one to keep and one to give away. Now that is the holiday spirit! The article on pairing wine with a multi-course meal was right up my alley. Finally, the article comparing how comfort food cooks in a slow cooker, dutch oven, and pressure cooker was very informative.
    • Cooking Light, January/February 2015 - I like chicken, but this issue was a bit chicken heavy for me. Aside from that, I did enjoy the article about swapping out comfort food in a healthier way. I also managed to pull a few, non-chicken recipes to try.
    • Food Network, November 2014 - The sides. Oh my goodness, the sides! They are my favorite part of Thanksgiving. It's a good thing I read this issue long after the holiday, or I would have tried to make them all. Yes - I need four kinds of stuffing,
  • Books
    • Whilst on the honeymoon, I finished The Mammoth Hunters. I am so in love with this series that I ordered the rest of the books from Paperbackswap in one sitting. Hopefully they will arrive in the correct, chronological order.
    • Also whilst on the honeymoon, I started a re-read of Outlander. I managed to finish it on New Year's Eve. It was a bit more dramatic then I remember, but I'm still having to hold myself back from re-reading the whole series. I have a ton of other, new reads that I need to get through.
  • Other

Friday, January 09, 2015

Book 15: The Valley of Horses

TITLE: The Valley of the Horses
AUTHOR: Jean M. Auel
STARTED: September 16, 2014
FINISHED: November 2, 2014
PAGES: 544
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: She was dead.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Cruelly cast out by the new leader of the ancient Clan that adopted her as a child, Ayla leaves those she loves behind and travels alone through a stark, open land filled with dangerous animals but few people, searching for the Others, tall and fair like herself. The short summer gives her little time to look, and when she finds a sheltered valley with a herd of hardy steppe horses, she decides to stay and prepare for the long glacial winter ahead. Living with the Clan has taught Ayla many skills but not real hunting. She finally knows she can survive when she traps a horse, which gives her meat and a warm pelt for the winter, but fate has bestowed a greater gift, an orphaned foal with whom she develops a unique kinship. One winter extends to more; she discovers a way to make fire more quickly and a wounded cave lion cub joins her unusual family, but her beloved animals don’t fulfill her restless need for human companionship. Then she hears the sound of a man screaming in pain. She saves tall, handsome Jondalar, who brings her a language to speak and an awakening of love and desire, but Ayla is torn between her fear of leaving her valley and her hope of living with her own kind.

THOUGHTS: I continue to love this series. If you were to ask my why, I could only say that it is one hell of a story. The writing is just fine, and sometimes I find the text a bit repetitive, but I love the ride Auel puts you on. This is a fascinating setting with inherent drama, and Auel just lets her characters be.

With this book, Auel had two parallel story-lines. One followed Ayla and the other followed Jondalar. Their stories did not converge until the end of the book. That decision let the anticipation of their meeting build and build with each chapter. Gotta love a good bit of fun "LET THEM MEET ALREADY" stress.

This book is not OMG BEST EVER, but it is strangely addicting... which is why I started the third in the series immediately after finishing this one.

RATING:7/10 [Very Good]

The Friday Find: Science!

I found this awesome guy in my Feedly during my reading this week. 

The answer is yes. Absolutely yes.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Links and Stuff: January 8, 2015

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Friday Find Found

Back in September, I posted a pair of awesome socks as The Friday Find.

The Husband decided to be the best gift giver ever. He got me that pair of those socks as a part of my Christmas present. I am so wearing these guys to work soon.

So much fun!

YouTube Tuesday: All About Those Books

Monday, January 05, 2015

I'm Back!

As you might have noticed from the trickle of posts last week - I'm back!

The wedding was absolutely wonderful and I could not have asked for a better day. Shout out to Lady B and Lady C who were awesome and kept me from stressing... too much. At one point they ignored the fact that I was cleaning the hotel room because they know that's how I cope with stress.

The honeymoon was so enjoyable we pouted as we got on the plane back to the states. I plowed through about 800 pages while on a beach. What is not to love? The Husband, as he will now be known, managed to finish about 4 e-books in the same time span cause he reads like Superman. Cheater.

Wedding Picture Sneak Peek Snippet!

The blog will now resume it's regular posting. I have a few remaining reviews to post, and then I will do my 2014 wrap-up. Since I only read 17 books (sad face) last year, that post ought to be short and sweet.

Friday, January 02, 2015

The Friday Find: iPhone Home

Show your love and tech and print in one convenient case. If they made a blank version of this, I would be tempted to stamp on my own due dates.

From Etsy... like many awesome things.

Thursday, January 01, 2015