Friday, October 30, 2015

The Friday Find: Pumpkin

The Truro Public Library might have created the most library-rific pumpkin ever.

You can see the full post here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Variations on a Theme: Spooky

Who doesn't love a good ghost story? I'm not a huge fan of the horror genre or things that go bump in the night, but ghost stories are different. This month's Variations on a Theme features books where a character may just be a ghost.

The Woman in Black
Susan Hill

Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford—a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway—to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow’s house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images—a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed all in black.

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens

Scrooge was a foul old man who wrapped his cold, uncaring heart in chains. Chains of greed. Bigotry. Contempt. Apathy. Selfishness. He detested the world, and was alone. Until the night his long-dead partner Marley appeared. A hideous spectre forced to walk the earth forever, Marley was damned. As Scrooge would be...unless he agrees to face three ghosts. One would take Scrooge back to the memories he'd buried. One would show Scrooge the world of joy and friendship he'd rejected. One would force Scrooge into the dreadful shadow of the future he'd forged. Three ghosts of Christmas. Of Christmas Past. Of Christmas Present. Of Christmas Yet to Come. All offering Scrooge a single gift—a chance. A last chance to give love. A last chance to join life.

The Turn of the Screw
Henry James

The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghost stories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. But in the hands of Henry James, the master of nuance, this little tale of terror is an exquisite gem of sexual and psychological ambiguity. Only the young governess can see the ghosts; only she suspects that the previous governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children (a girl and a boy) for some evil purpose. The household staff don't know what she's talking about, the children are evasive when questioned, and the master of the house (the children's uncle) is absent. Why does the young girl claim not to see a perfectly visible woman standing on the far side of the lake? Are the children being deceptive, or is the governess being paranoid? By leaving the questions unanswered, The Turn of Screw generates spine-tingling anxiety in its mesmerized readers.

The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson

Eleanor Vance has always been a loner--shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother. "She had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words." Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by "supernatural manifestations." He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague's bizarre study--along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House--a notorious estate in New England. Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "without kindness, never meant to be lived in...." Although Eleanor's initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural--she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone--neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures.

The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman

In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are being such as ghouls that aren't really one thing or the other.

The Little Stranger

Sarah Waters

One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.

More Ghost Stories
The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen - Katherine Howe
Blood and Salt - Kim Liggett
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories - Audrey Niffenegger
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
In a Glass Darkly - Sheridan Le Fanu
The Restorer - Amanda Stevens
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories - Roald Dahl
This House is Haunted - John Boyne
Through the Woods - Emily Carroll
The Unburied - Charles Palliser

Links and Stuff: October 29, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why I Love... Random Inspiration

Last weekend, The Husband and I watched the final two episodes of Starz Outlander. Since the series did so well, I know they've green-lighted the adaption of the next book. As a HUGE fan of this series, I am stoked. Also as a HUGE fan of this series, I want to see what the creators keep and what they change.

After we finished the final Outlander episode, I grabbed Dragonfly in Amber from my bookcase. I've just wrapped up my last book from the library and needed a new book. Our viewing inspired me to re-read the next volume in the series.

I love it when random, outside forces propel me to my next read. Since I'm such a mood reader, these inspirations pretty much guarantee that I will enjoy my next book. Rarely am I inspired by such a direct connection, usually it's just a random such or influence from the time of year, but these urges keep me in the mood to read.

It's harder to put a book down when you have that "gotta read it now" itch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book 24: The Butcher and The Vegetarian

TITLE: The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis
AUTHOR: Tara Austen Weaver
STARTED: September 22, 2015
FINISHED: October 14, 2015
PAGES: 228
GENRE: Food / Memoir

FIRST SENTENCE: My friend Christine says that butchers make the best flirts, and on this I will have to trust her.

SUMMARY: [From BN]  Growing up in a family that kept jars of bean sprouts on its windowsill before such things were desirable or hip, Tara Austen Weaver never thought she'd stray from vegetarianism. But as an adult, she found herself in poor health, and, having tried cures of every kind, a doctor finally ordered her to eat meat. Warily, she ventured into the butcher shop, and as the man behind the counter wrapped up her first-ever chicken, she found herself charmed. Eventually, he dared her to cook her way through his meat counter. As Tara navigates through this new world--grass-fed beef vs. grain-fed beef; finding chickens that are truly free-range--she's tempted to give up and go back to eating tempeh. The more she learns about meat and how it's produced, and the effects eating it has on the human body and the planet, the less she feels she knows. She embarks upon a sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening whirlwind tour that takes her from slaughterhouse to chef's table, from urban farm to the hearthside of cow wranglers. Along the way, she meets an unforgettable cast of characters who all seem to take a vested interest in whether she opts for turnips or T-bones. The Butcher and the Vegetarian is the rollicking and relevant story of one woman's quest to reconcile a nontraditional upbringing with carnal desires.

THOUGHTS: I adore Tara Austen Weaver's blog, Tea and Cookies. When she posted about releasing a book, I immediately put the title on my TBR list. It took her second book coming out to remind me to read the first. I'm glad I did - this book holds the same magic and gorgeous writing of her blog, with the added dose of meeeeaaaaaat.

I enjoy Weaver's recounting of her romp through the world of meat and how meat impacts our diets and lives. She gives every sort of meat (and non-meat) diet a go - but not in a bloggy-look-at-me way. She is trying to reclaim her health by finding the diet that works for me.  

If I had one criticism of this book it's that it tries to hard not to make waves. Weaver goes out of her way to not judge or criticize (which I do appreciate), but she writes around the politics of food in such a way that it comes across as awkward and timid.

Other than that, this is a delightful book.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

YouTube Tuesday: The Library

The Library from Jason LaMotte on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What I Read This Week: October 25, 2015

Given how random my week was (hockey watching! tasty mussel dinner! article club! dentist appointment!) you'd think I would have something profound to share. I don't. So here's this week's reading.
  • Books
    • I wrapped up The Awakening it took me a lot longer than expected for such a short book. Still a pretty good read. Nothing exceptional, but that might be because the introductory essay gave the end away.
  • Other

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Friday Find: Book Fairy

Halloween is coming up. Would you consider making yourself a costume?

How cute and awesome is this! Found on Super Geek!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Seen on the Metro: Mysterious?

He was tall, and his salt and pepper hair was styled in that trendy bed-head fashion. He wore dark rimmed glasses, and the collar of his black coat was up-turned. His eyes were focused on the old, paperback copy of The Inferno he held in his hands.

At his stop, he leaned down to grab the handle of the black backpack between his legs. His walk as smooth as he glided off the metro train and onto the platform.

His eyes never left his book.

Links and Stuff: October 22, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book 23: The Plains of Passage

TITLE: The Plains of Passage
AUTHOR: Jean M. Auel
STARTED: September 2, 2015
FINISHED: September 21, 2015
PAGES: 868
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: The woman caught a glimpse of movement through the dusty haze ahead and wondered if it was the wolf she had seen loping in front of them earlier.

SUMMARY: [From BN] With her companion, Jondalar, Ayla sets out on her most dangerous and daring journey--away from the welcoming hearths of the Mammoth Hunters and into the unknown. Their odyssey spans a beautiful but sparsely populated and treacherous continent, the windswept grasslands of Ice Age Europe, casting the pair among strangers. Some will be intrigued by Ayla and Jondalar, with their many innovative skills, including the taming of wild horses and a wolf; others will avoid them, threatened by what they cannot understand; and some will threaten them. But Ayla, with no memory of her own people, and Jondalar, with a hunger to return to his, are impelled by their own deep drives to continue their trek across the spectacular heart of an unmapped world to find that place they can both call home.

THOUGHTS: I really love this series, but this book was very repetitive. Auel herself calls this the "Travel Book," which is fine by me because it did some excellent adventuring, but she could have cut out about 200 pages. It bugs me a bit that the author assumes readers have never read her previous books and/or have the memories of goldfish and can't remember what happened 100 pages back. Other than that, I very much enjoy the story and emotion. This series is turning into a bit of an Outlander read for me. It's not so much about the writing and the plot but, rather, joining along in a lifelong ride.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Monday, October 19, 2015

Read-a-thon Lite: Wrap-Up

This read-a-thon was my least successful in terms of pages read (327) and books completed (1.5). The minimal number of pages mean my donation to First Book was supposed to be tiny. Just $16.35. Yick. Kids need books so I bumped up that donation to $50.

While the numbers weren't great, I actually enjoyed this read-a-thon the most. I liked the lack of structure that I normally impose on myself. I didn't check in every hour, and the posts were freer. I liked that so much that I think I shall follow that format for my next read-a-thon.

Hopefully, my schedule (and health) will be better in April for the next read-a-thon. I want to try out my freer method with more hours of reading time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What I Read This Week: October 18, 2015

This should be an epic-ly long list of book reading I completed during yesterday's read-a-thon. It's not. Instead, I spent most of the week fighting and recovering from a cold. Never, ever - ever! - ever, tell your Husband that you haven't been sick in a year. The germs hear and then they attack. And they attack hard.

  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, October 2015 - I remember reading a bit about the "almost human" fossil find online. It was great to finally read a more in-depth story about the search and uncovering of the fossils (with excellent pictures). I also enjoyed the feature stories on uncovering a lost city in Honduras and journeying down the Congo River. Also, lemme play with the sea wolves!
    • Savory, October 2015 - I love how I know that this is a small magazine I can grab for free at Giant. There were some pretty tasty soup and five ingredient recipes in this issue, but they duplicated a few I already know.
    • Somehow I got signed up for Glamour and W magazines. I subscribe to the PopSugar Must Have Box, and I think they must be a part of the October package. Guess I'll find out when that box arrives this week. Anyway... I received the October 2015 issue of Glamour and the September 2015 issue of W. Neither of this magazines are my cup of tea, but they were fun to flip through simply for the ads. And, to be honest, W is almost entirely ads. Glamour might be of use in the future, but W kind of feels like a waste of paper. We shall see what future issues hold if these weren't just one-offs.
  • Books
    • The one upside to being ill, is I had all the time in the world to sit on the couch and read... too bad I ended up napping. At least I managed to finish The Butcher and The Vegetarian. The book was not quite what I expected it to be, but I still loved reading it. Food memoirs appear to be my weakness.
    • I finished Joyce Carol Oates' Rape: A Love Story. It's a complete 180 from the book above, so my brain is struggling to make the transition, but I enjoyed the book... even if parts of it made me very, very cranky.
  • Other
    • Great. Now I want biscuits.
    • BuzzFeed posted a rather fascinating article on the rise and fall of the paparazzi
    • On a more serious note... From The Atlantic: Do we take women's pain less seriously?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Read-a-thon Lite: Check-In The Last

I've read another 100 pages in The Awakening, and have eaten a delicious dinner of pasta and meatballs. Tis time for me to end my read-a-thon so that I can attend a friend's goodbye party. (Why do people have to move out of the country? Harrumph!)

I ended my read-a-thon lite having finished a book and a half, with a total of 327 pages. I wish everyone continuing on a great rest of the read-a-thon!

Read-a-thon Lite: Check-In The Third

Well, I just unexpectedly took an hour long nap. Stupid cold meds. At least I wasn't bored by my current book, The Awakening. Turns out the actual story is preceded by a rather dense academic essay. I had no idea that this book was written right before the turn of the twentieth century. The essay put the author and her story in context with the literature and social movements of the day. Said essay also gave away the ending. Boo. Hiss. That's not going to stop me from finishing this book, but I was a bit bummed to learn how things would turn out.

I'm 50 pages into this book, plus the essay counted 43 pages. That makes 93 pages for this check-in. Add in the 134 pages from before, and I'm at 227 pages. Not bad for me given the sleeps. 

Read-a-thon Lite: Check-In The Second

I have finished my first book! Huzzah! Said book was Joyce Carol Oates' Rape: A Love Story. It was not anything like I expected, but I am very glad that I was able to read it during read-a-thon. This is the kind of book that would have made for very poor, before-bed reading. It was intense and many pages made me righteously cranky. But I have finished it and have many thoughts which will appear in my full review to be posted later.

I have now completed 134 pages for this read-a-thon lite. I still plan on donating 5 cents per page complete (rounding up to a decent figure of course) to First Book.

Aside from the reading, I ate the delicious blueberry waffle breakfast The Husband made this morning.

Now I am going to take a quick e-mail break before starting my second book. Up next: The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

Read-a-thon Lite: Check-In The First

I am awake after some much needed 10+ hours of sleep. I am still groggy and this cold just won't go away, but I am awake.

I have much needed coffee.

The Husband is making waffles as we speak.

I have my first book (Joyce Carol Oates' Rape: A Love Story).

Let's do this!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Read-a-thon Lite?

Read-a-thon is tomorrow, and I shant really be participating. Sad face. I spent most of the week ill, and even two days at work has left me drained. I plan on sleeping in tomorrow. I need all my energy so that I can attend a friend's going away party tomorrow night. (She's leaving us for Georgia - the country! - and we're going to miss her lots.)

That said, when I wake up, I plan on lazing about most of the day.... likely with a book. So, instead of a full read-a-thon, I'll be doing a read-a-thon lite. I will read and update sporadically throughout the day. It's what I can manage this year, but I shall enjoy it all the same.

The Friday Find: Harry Potter and the Colored Pencils

OMG! OMG! OMG! Can I have this now? How about now?

This greatness is not published yet, but you can check it out here. Sample pages included!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Links and Stuff: October 15, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why I Love... Books that Put Me to Sleep

I love books that put me to sleep. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out on this one. These books are like comfort food. You get a nice hearty serving of something you love, and then you take a nap.

I spent the past few days battling a cold. I've done nothing but laze about at home either on the internet or sleeping. A couple of times I knew I wanted to nap, but I could not turn my brain off. So I turned to my current book, The Butcher and the Vegetarian. It helped me sleep like a baby.

The book was not boring. Oh no - not at all. It was a comforting few pages that distracted my mind and helped me nod off. My brain was able to focus on the text and not my sniffles or the sounds of apartment being renovated across the hall. Soon enough, I was engaged in my author's visit to a steak house. Her descriptive prose transported elsewhere and soon I was in dreamland.

The book was good; the nap was great; and now I'm on the mend. Begone germs!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What I Read This Week: October 11, 2015

What a perfect fall week. I took every chance I could get be outside. This included visiting the Maryland Renaissance Festival with friends. Nothing like ye olde shoppes and foodstuffs on sticks to put a smile on your face.

Now I get to enjoy football all day with The Husband. I heart fall.
  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, September 2015 - The front chunk of this issue
      was a recap of the ALA conference in San Francisco. I gave it a good skim since I could not attend. The best article in this issue was "Bird's Eye View: Using Twitter in #ClubRoesch." I run our library's social media accounts, so it's always great to read about what other academic libraries are doing. I also enjoyed one new librarian's account of being an academic librarian.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, October 2015 - This was a very, very good issue. When I first started reading, I knew I would enjoy/learn from the pieces on the impact of mass incarceration and solving a cold case with DNA. I was surprised, however, by how absorbed I became in the article about David Hume and Buddhism. I started the article thinking I would end up skimming it, but I ended up stopping everything until I could finish the whole thing. The piece follow's the authors journey discovering the connection and influence of the two subjects... including detailed description of her research process. It was fascinating, and I highly recommend it (particularly if you happen to be a librarian or an archivist).
  • Books
    • I'm still working on The Butcher and the Vegetarian, but it's all coming along nicely and I'm enjoying the book.

Friday, October 09, 2015

The Friday Find: Artwork

I'm always envious of our Stacks Manager's office. She has such an awesome, DIY mural.

This was created using the (usually discarded) dust jackets that come with our new books. Wants!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

YouTube Tuesday: Open Access

This is not officially a "book thing," but it's an important trend in information that is worth sharing.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Seen on the Metro: Finally!

It's been a while since I've been able to title spy on the metro. Between e-readers and mobile devices, dead tree books are harder to come by. This morning, I lucked out!

A few stops into my commute, a woman about  my age boarded the train and sat a few seats down from me. She was wearing an incredibly chic fall outfit. She had on a white lace top covered with a silvery gray blazer. Her shoes were adorable, laser cut gray flats. The gray and silver were a great contrast against her dark blue skinny jeans. I had serious outfit envy. Then she pulled a hardcover book out of her large, slouchy cognac colored bucket bag.

It took me a few stops to figure out the title, but I finally managed to read Under the Wide and Starry Sky. She appeared to be about a quarter of the way through the book, and managed to read a few pages before she deboarded a few stops before mine.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

What I Read This Week: October 4, 2015

Rain. Nothing but rain this week. And some hockey. And The Husband's birthday. But other than that! Nothing but rain.

  • Work
  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, September 2015 - Our cable box died during the ND game. Boo. Luckily (and shockingly), Comcast was able to come and fix it on Sunday. After that was up and running, The Husband took advantage of the media stand being moved to redo all the wires and make everything look a bit prettier. While he was fiddling, I filled my time before NFL football by reading a couple magazines. This was the first issue, I flipped through it surprisingly quickly - but the issue was all about quick, family friendly recipes. Many things looked delicious and I saved a few to try later.
    • Cooking Light, October 2015 - I only clipped a few recipes from this issue to try, but one of them was spinach ricotta meatballs... and I'm already craving those delicious looking morsels. Outside of the food, I enjoyed the articles on how the body uses calories differently and how we process alcohol. I like it when I learn something with my casual foodie reading.
  • Books
    • I'm a few more chapters into The Butcher and the Vegetarian. I am really loving this memoir, I just wish I was able to stay awake for more than 10 minutes to read it.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Friday Find: Bag It

The Husband is on the search for a new work bag. Too bad he can't get away with using this one.

You can grab this from Zazzle.