social & scholarly communications, mixing it up

Scientific publisher Springer has been doing several things lately that make me sit up and pay attention. Providing DRM-free PDF files of their ebooks is one, and now I see they are providing rather useful bits of scholarly information in a rather social media format.

Springer Realtime gives currently trending topics and downloads for content they are serving out to subscribers around the world. The only thing that’s missing is a way to embed these nifty widgets elsewhere, like on subject guide pages.

2009 reckoning

Once again I attempted to read 50 books in a year, and once again I failed. Well, actually, I pretty much gave up on it early on, so it’s no surprise to me that I didn’t get there. Anyway, here are the books I read last year (I read a lot more than just books, but these are all that I’m counting):

  1. Don’t Stop Believin’: How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life by Brian Raftery
  2. Vulcan’s Forge by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
  3. Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
  4. Vulcan’s Soul Trilogy Book One: Exodus by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
  5. Vulcan’s Soul Trilogy Book Two: Exiles by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
  6. Vulcan’s Soul Trilogy Book Three: Epiphany by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
  7. Slurp: Drinks and Light Fare, All Day, All Night by Jim Hensley, Nina Dreyer Hensley, and Paul Lowe
  8. Of Mule and Man by Mike Farrell
  9. The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost
  10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
  11. I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling
  12. Libyrinth by Pearl North
  13. Kilimanjaro: A Photographic Journey to the Roof of Africa by Michel Moushabeck & Hiltrud Schulz
  14. Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenji Yoshino
  15. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
  16. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

My pleasure reading was mostly Spock, and all of the non-fiction was either for review or for a book group discussion. This weekend I went through my bookshelves and pulled about 80 books that I’m either selling or trading away because I haven’t read them yet and will probably get them from the library if/when I ever get around to reading them. The nice thing is that in the process of doing this, I was reminded of books I’ve wanted to read for a long time but have forgotten I have them sitting on my shelves already.

One book down already for 2010, and hopefully more to follow it. In fact, I think I’ll go start on The Ghost Brigade right now.

prince caspian

I saw the new Prince Caspian film last week, and thanks to a timely warning from my sister, I did not read the book beforehand. I recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet do the same. The film adaptation is great fun and stays true to the message of the book, but it isn’t the same as the book. Personally, I think the changes they made with for the film make it a more interesting film than if they had simply taken the accounts of the book and put that on the screen.

Afterwards, I re-read the book for the first time in ages. It has been my second favorite of the Narnia books, tied with A Horse and His Boy and beat out by Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Reading it now, as an adult, I am not as entertained by the book as I once was.

scion’s blood

The second book in the Chronicles of Firma trilogy leaves this reader eager for the final chapter.

My review of Scion’s Blood by Pat Nelson Childs was published on Blogcritics late last night. I’ve had it sitting on my review pile for a while, but between the move and other things demanding my attention, I didn’t get to it until this weekend. The rain canceled my softball game on Sunday, so after I got home from RavenCon, I put everything else on hold and started reading. It was a great way to wind down from the activity of the con.

…after the first eight chapters or so of re-introducing the characters and setting the stage for what is to come, the story moves along at a steady clip, hardly pausing for a breath until the end. And that breath catches in the throat as the final cliffhanger hints at what is to come in the third book. Firma is safe, for now, but Rokey and his companions still have much more to do.

#14

Enigma by Michael Jan Friedman

This book tied up the loose end known as Dikembe Ulelo. Friedman has been dangling that one since the first book in the series, and I wondered when he’d finally get around to the explanation. Turns out, it’s a crucial point in the plot of this book.

Admiral McAteer makes an appearance again, but this time he’s a part of the action instead of off plotting somewhere. He’s still out to get Picard and has arranged for a review to determine if Picard is fit to be a captain. This is not resolved by the end of the book.

The mini story arc in the book closes nicely, even though there are still a few unresolved problems/questions. But, Friedman then does something that I find immensely irritating: He adds a cliffhanger. Sure, the reader might be concerned that Picard is going to have a rough time, but we all know how that eventually works out. On the other hand, Friedman has left another main character in a deadly and dangerous predicament. Stay tuned…. for the next book.

Thankfully, I already have it on my bookshelf. If I did not, I think I’d be particularly perturbed.