Two nights ago I really wanted to read a book before bed, but it was late, and I knew that I would end up reading until all hours of the morning and regret it the next day. So, I scoured the mass market Mt. TBR and found a thin book, which also happened to be a collection of short stories. Yay!
Last night I finished reading Isaac Asimov’s Nine Tomorrows, and as can be expected, it was an engaging read, with each short story providing a different insight into how (in some cases, minor and insignificant) actions and events of now might evolve into the future. Some of the characters in the stories were charged with solving mysteries, but mostly it was left to the reader to figure out what was going on and how humanity got to that point.
The book is a product of its time. The copyright is 1959, and the stories themselves were originally published in magazines in that decade. Understandably, the Cold War and nuclear research play roles in several of the stories. Asimov also explores his (apparent) favorite social science theme of societies where the actions of individuals or the whole can be predicted through mathematical theory.
If you are looking for some bite-sized Asimov, I recommend picking up a copy of this book, if you can find one.
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.
In which I reference reviews of a memoir by a librarian and a book of cat excuses.
I finally finished reading Scott Douglas’ Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian this week, and right after that, Everyday Cat Excuses: Why I Can’t Do What You Want by Molly Brandenburg arrived in the mail. I’ve found that Saturday morning is the best time for me to write, so yesterday I worked on writing the reviews of both, which have now been published on Blogcritics.
I am a university librarian at a small private school, but I still felt the sting of his between the lines reprimand. Librarians sometimes need a wake-up call to remind ourselves of what it is that we are supposed to be doing — providing information and resources to all of our users. So often we place roadblocks to prevent that from happening, and many examples of that are in Douglas’ book. As he shows, these roadblocks mainly stem from a rigid adherence to rules versus considerate compassion and an understanding of the user’s needs.
Everyday Cat Excuses:
The cartoons are simple line drawings of stylized cats in minimalist locations. The captions are in block print, and occasionally there are thought balloons for the cats. It is a cartoonist representation of deadpan humor, and it works well, considering the subject.
Although I am working my way through a book to be reviewed for Blogcritics, I forgot to bring it home with me this weekend, so I decided to pick up one of the books high up on Mt. TBR.
Anne & Todd McCaffrey’s Dragon Harper is a book a received for Christmas. I have been a fan of the Dragonriders of Pern series ever since a friend introduced me to them when I was in high school, and this is the first time I have not read one of the books cover-to-cover on the night I brought home a copy. Mainly, this is because I had so many lined up that I needed to read for review that I felt guilty about spending time on reading for pleasure alone. I will make sure that doesn’t happen again.
There are a few references to characters and events from both Dragon’s Kin and Dragon’s Fire, and since I don’t recall much of the latter, I’m beginning to suspect I may have missed reading that one, too. Regardless, once those connections are made and all the key characters are introduced, this book easily stands on its own with its own tale to tell. If you aren’t already familiar with Pern, you might get a bit lost in the cultures, titles, and terms. This isn’t a good book to start with, but it certainly is a fine addition to the series.
One thing that is noticeably different about this book compared to others in this series is that the authors have narrowed the range of individuals involved in the story, and have done a better job of making the names more distinct. The last few Pern books have had so many key characters doing all sorts of things that I felt like I needed cheater notes just to keep track of who’s who. I did not feel that way with this book, and I hope that future books will also have this balance and clarity.
I picked up the graphic novel Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between because I’m a fan of the series and because my favorite character, Tasha Yar, is on the cover. (Side note: For Christmas, some good friends of mine gave me a signed photo of Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar. It’s addressed to me and is probably the most thoughtful and unique gift I received this holiday season.) Also, I remembered reading something on Wil Wheaton’s blog about a script he wrote for Star Trek: The Manga, which is totally different, but when I was wandering Barnes & Noble, it seemed like a good idea to pick up this book.
This is a completely different animal from the Japanese manga, and is published by IDW. It’s a collection of good stories and beautiful drawings, but the finale that would tie everything together seems contrived and inconclusive. Will there be a follow-up? I don’t see any indication of that, which is disappointing.
My review of Lipstick & Dipstick’s Essential Guide to Lesbian Relationships by Gina Daggett and Kathy Belge has been published on Blogcritics. I read the book over the first week of this month, but I didn’t have time to start writing the review until the end of last week. Which I then left on my work laptop (what I had with me in the hotel where I wrote the first two paragraphs) over the weekend. Otherwise, it would have been finished and published long before now.
[The book] may seem to be targeted at a limited audience, and for the most part, the examples given would mainly be applicable to lesbian relationships only; however, the core of their advice — from dating to long-term commitment decisions — rings true for any romantic relationship, regardless of the gender of those involved.
My review of Open Your Heart With Geocaching by Jeannette Cézanne has been published in Blogcritics Magazine. It’s the first book I have read for 2008, and I’m once again gunning for 50 this year. Since I have about four or five review books on deck, it looks like the year will start with a bang. I’m already half-way through #2, so expect more on that soon. Anyway, here’s a snippet of my review:
Cézanne has poured herself and her world into this book. The language is conversational and flows easily from point to point. She approaches geocaching less from the geeky/techie perspective, and more from the outdoor enthusiast perspective. For her, caching is less about the destination as it is about the journey. I think this is a perspective that is often lost amid the crowing and strutting by those who play for the numbers.
I tried and failed once again to complete the 50 book challenge last year. However, I did a little better than the year before, and probably would have read at least two more books if I hadn’t made a cross country move.
- The Empty Chair by Diane Duane (fiction)
- A Librarian Is To Read by Betty Vogel (non-fiction)
- Wordplay: The Official Companion Book by Will Shortz (non-fiction)
- Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Puss ‘n Cahoots: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown (fiction)
- So Say We All: An Unauthorized Collection of Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica (Smart Pop series) edited by Richard Hatch (non-fiction)
- Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip (fiction)
- Gauntlet by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Progenitor by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Reunion by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- The Valiant by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Three by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Oblivion by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Enigma by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Maker by Michael Jan Friedman (fiction)
- Journey Between Worlds by Sylvia Louise Engdahl (fiction)
- Orphan’s Quest by Pat Nelson Childs (fiction)
- The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (fiction)
- Towards Zero by Agatha Christie (fiction)
- At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie (fiction)
- Nemesis by Agatha Christie (fiction)
- Ordeal By Innocence by Agatha Christie (fiction)
- First Have Something To Say by Walt Crawford (non-fiction)
- Social Software in Libraries by Meredith Farkas (non-fiction)
- Beer & Food: An American History by Bob Skilnik (non-fiction)
- Guinness – The 250-Year Quest for the Perfect Pint by Bill Yenne (non-fiction)
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It’s been a while since I posted an update here of what I’ve been writing over at Blogcritics.org. Between moving and the holidays, I’ve fallen far behind on many things, not to mention writing (or even writing about writing, as the case may be). Here are the handful of recent reviews:
- Guinness – The 250-Year Quest for the Perfect Pint by Bill Yenne
Yenne has written an engaging book that is accessible even to the pedestrian beer drinker. His research is thorough, and the bibliography at the end of the book has a few titles that caught my eye as potential future reads. [more]
- Carole King – Welcome To My Living Room
The film quality and editing rides the line between a PBS TV concert and a big-screen hyper-reality, with long cuts and minimal camera movement. In the end, it has more of an “I was at a concert” feel than the audio recording from a different show, mainly because of the aforementioned between song banter that was left in the video and removed from the CD. [more]
- Leiana – No Going Back
The skatepunk sound found on Leiana’s second full-length, No Going Back, feels as comfortable to me as an old pair of jeans, and I think most of that has to do with the distorted crunch of Chuck Treece’s guitar riffs and the straight-ahead drumming. It’s a little bit retro, while remaining modern and fresh. [more]
- Macally BTCUP for iPod
Over the years, I have purchased a variety of FM transmitters in the hopes that they will transfer the sound from my digital devices to my car stereo better than cassette adapters. In general, I have not spent more than $30-40 on these devices, and in the end, I was unsatisfied with them. Recently, I was given the opportunity to test Macally’s BTCUP for iPod, and I was suitably impressed with the device. [more]
My review of Bob Skilnik’s book was published yesterday, and the first comment that I received was a snarky commentary on a misspelled word. Sheesh. I have written many reviews over the past year, and most of them have at most received a comment from the editor that published them. Not the most pleasant way to wake up in the morning, let me tell you.
Anyway, the book was interesting, albeit not exactly an exciting read. I’d recommend it if you are interested in beer, food, and history, as well as old recipes.
I’m about half-way through a book on the history of Guinness, and I hope to write the review of that this week.
Oh, and for those who are keeping score, this is #25, which means I’ve read half of my annual goal.