Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

I have all kinds of things to talk about lately but no time to actually log in and post so the post about CSA's and the Roller Derby and the latest game night fun will have to wait until another time.  I do have a few minutes to expand on one of last weeks reads.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - Yeine Darr has grown up expecting to be the ruler of a small impoverished kingdom but after her mothers murder she is summoned to the capital city of Sky by her Grandfather, the most powerful ruler in existence. When she arrives, he pits her, his niece and his nephew in a battle for the kingdom. She only wants only to find the person responsible for killing her mother but she slowly realizes that the losers of the competition will not only lose the kingdom but their lives. As she struggles to understand the politics of this race of people she also comes in contact with the gods and must fight to stay one step ahead of them all.

As a stand alone or as the beginning of a series, the mythology and world building in this novel are well thought out and believable and Yeine is a multifaceted character with a creatively, distinctive voice.  Told in first person, the author leads the reader through the story Yeine is experiencing, which makes for a vividly told and sympathetic narrative. This complex political novel is also a fast paced tale of intrigue that pulls you in and will not let you go.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Android Apps....

I love my Droid phone. I think everyone should have one because it makes errands and staying connected so much easier. On the assumption that you will now be running right out to buy one of the magical devices because I told you to, here are a couple of bookish iPhone and Android Apps you will need. The first app has just been released by Overdrive. Overdrive is one of the leading providers of ebooks for libraries to purchase for checkout to patrons.  In case you were not aware, you can go to almost any public library and download audiobooks and ebooks for three weeks as a "checkout".  Until now this process has been a bit unwieldy and required you to tether your reader/mp3 player to your computer and then download to the computer and sync to your device.

Now you can download the Overdrive app to your smartphone, go to the Overdrive mobile website, select your public library of choice and log-in, select your books and then download them straight to your phone.  All-in-all, it works really well with the audio formats as long as you make sure you are downloading the correct file type.  It is still a little problematic for the ebook formats and Kindle is still not usable with this format although I believe Sony Reader has finally opened up their devices so they can be used this way.

The other app I really like is the WorldCat app.  WorldCat is a database of library databases. In other words, libraries all over the world dump updates of their entire online catalog into WorldCat's database several times a year.  The function of the WorldCat app is to show you which libraries own a specific title. This is handy in a town like Kansas City with multiple library systems when you need a book right away. All you do is search in WorldCat and it will tell you which different libraries own a book and it sorts them so the Missouri libraries are first, the Kansas libraries are second and then all other libraries in the country are listed in alphabetical order.  You can then link directly to the closest library to see if the book is on the shelf or checked out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Week in Books and Media

Eternal Hunter by Cynthia Eden 
The author has created an interesting paranormal world and her characters are complex and likable. However, between the mystery and the interactions with other characters I didn't feel like I got to spend enough time watching the romance develop. There was lots of sex (apparently a must for the shapeshifter crowd) but not enough of the two characters interacting in other ways so this ended up feeling like a cross between an erotica novel and a romance.

Beyond the Night by Joss Ware
This one is billed as a romance but it was so much more.  I really enjoyed this novel and was impressed by how well the author merged romance, SF/Fantasy and Adrenaline into a premise that worked well. The characters were likable and it was easy to see why the two main characters were drawn to each other. I loved that the hero quickly realized that the heroine needed to feel in control and let her take over in a variety of situations instead of turning into Mr. Alpha Male to show how manly he was. The ways the heroine chose to protect herself felt plausible given her background and her choices made sense. And really, having a post-apocalyptic romance that works is quite an achievement. However, considering it as a romance, I would have liked to see a bit more emphasis on the relationship building aspect. I also would have preferred a more believable (or at least more complete) explanation of the magic involved in the apocalypse.

Death at the Alma Mater by G.M. Malliet
The character and setting were interesting (set in England at a university fund-raising weekend) and well done and I really liked the detective but the mystery itself was a little too slight and didn't really give the reader the tools needed to solve the crime.

Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
This was one of my book discussion group reads and it was a quick lighthearted read.  There have been several weight loss memoirs along the way and this was one of the more humorous of the bunch.  Possibly because of her reliance on humor, her weight loss dealt with the physical aspects of the problem but never really addressed the mental issues that caused them. Most of us who don't deal with that aspect of weight gain end up re-gaining the weight back over and over.  Look elsewhere for a weight loss manual and read this for the humor.

America, America by Ethan Canin
Another book club book. While I recognized the skill the author brought to this novel of American politics, I was largely untouched as I watched the drama unfold. This has been hailed as a "great American novel" and it is certainly skillfully executed but I put it down and didn't give it another thought until I was trying to write this quick review (a sign it left me a bit cold.)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Wow! Unlike the last novel, I could not put this one down and felt vaguely hostile about having to stop halfway through to come to work.  The setting was unique (even for a fantasy novel) and the characters were engaging. One of the best things I have read this year.

Love Happens
I watched this on movie night and it was tedious. I could not for the life of me figure out why the main character would want to date Jennifer Aniston's character. I think they were going for clever and quirky but I thought she was awful. The most touching scene in this romantic comedy was with the main character and his ex father-in-law. Call me crazy but I want to feel a little emotional when the actual romance is happening.

The French Chef with Julia Child
A friend is deeply enamored of this series and said she is having a wonderful time learning to cook with the DVDs.  She is young enough that she didn't grow up with her mom watching these but I do remember seeing Julia when I was much, much, much too young to cook. As I watch these I remember how charming and intensely likable Julia is. I do wonder if, in today's society, she would be as reviled as every successful woman in television seems to become. Oprah, Martha, Rachel Ray, etc... all hated intensely in today's society.

The Tick
I was at a friends for an impromptu movie night and she pulled out this TV series. I could not stop giggling as I watched it.  Now I need to go find the rest of the series or haunt her house until I get to watch the rest.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This was another we watched on movie night that just happened to be on TV. It had these mysterious things called "commercials" that we had to watch in order to see the movie. Do you know how long it has been since I have seen a commercial?  I was still dating the last ex (okay, I have no idea how many years ago that was) and I had actual cable to accommodate his KU basketball obsession.  Anyway, I love these books and movies with a passion and, if you don't, you are a bit of grinch.

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First Season
I like geeks and nerds way more than I should so this TV series charmed me. I love when they go into their neighbor's house and reorganize it while she is asleep (or maybe I just want someone to do that for me.)  It probably doesn't help that these guys remind me a bit of one of my BFFs. And yes, using that label when you are no longer 14 is just sad, but I couldn't help it. It just suited the moment.
Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred
I am really loving the yoga class I take on the weekends but can't get to classes during the week and on a couple of nights I don't have an hour to devote to it. So I decided I needed a supercharged workout that wasn't quite so long. This DVD features three 20 minutes workouts and the beginning one is hard enough that the next day you can feel it. It is a little hard on the knees since the trainer is inordinately fond of jumping jacks so I am still trying to decide if I should buy a copy or try a few more options.  At the very least I will probably go scavenge Half Price Books to see if they have a super cheap copy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Something About You by Julie James

Something About You (Berkley Sensation)Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde just wanted a little pampering when she checked into a luxury hotel to wait for her floors to be refinished. Instead she ended up witnessing a murder. And to make matters better, she finds that her nemesis, FBI agent Jack Pallas, has been assigned to the case. Now they have to work together to solve the murder before the killer finds out she is a witness.

This romance is such a treat and a refreshing example of a novel that creates believable smart characters who behave in logical straightforward ways. When Cameron witnesses a murder, she does not argue that she can take care of herself but instead gratefully accepts the protection of the FBI. In spite of a misunderstanding from their past, they are professional and work together without petty bickering. When there is a chance to clear up the misunderstanding, the characters take it. They build a relationship built on communication, trust and respect which is what makes this contemporary romantic suspense novel a winner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Book

The Readers' Advisory HandbookSo the book with my chapter in it came today. There would be a picture if I wasn't posting from my phone. :-D

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What happens to our brains when we learn.

The Teaching Company posted an interesting video about what happens to our brains when we learn. If you are interested in brain research, it is well worth watching.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Support Your Library Challenge

I almost always get my books from the library as opposed to purchasing them. It used to be monitoring your library account was a little tricky so I sympathized with people who said they didn't use the library because it was hard to keep track of the books. Now with reminders that books are almost due and the advent of online account access, it is easy. In this economy it is also a smart choice to use the library.

For that reason I thought I would let you all know about the 2010 Support Your Library Challenge hosted by the Home Girl's Book Blog. I've already read 52 library books this year. How many have you read?

The Rules are simple:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

--The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.

--Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

--Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.

--Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.

(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

7. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your library books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Here are the book I finished this week. Mind you, this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface...

A Matter of ClassA Matter of Class by Mary Balogh - wonderful straightforward romance novel. The plot twist wasn't particularly tricky but I do so love it when characters really like each other. This is a novella so it was a bit spare but I appreciated it after a couple of my other reads.

Highlanders Homecoming by Melissa Mayhue - I enjoyed this romance but I found the fantasy world building to be a bit convoluted. Reading the series in order might have made for a better reading experience but it didn't completely work as a stand-alone novel.

Be Careful What You Pray For by Kimberla Lawson Roby - I hadn't read this author before and had no idea what to expect. Who know there was that much sinning in a pastors life? Very dramatic. This one kind of reminded me of a Danielle Steel novel.

Crawlspace: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery by Sarah Graves - Perfectly serviceable mystery but it didn't really capture my imagination.

Lessons in FrenchLessons in French by Laura Kinsale - This is an outstanding author with a gift for romance. I wish this novel would have been edited a bit more and it would have been a top 10 novel for the year. Still, the characters are delightful and their actions perfectly suit their respective characters.

Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins - This is another one that just barely missed the mark for me. I thought the premise was intriguing and I loved the hero. If only the heroine had been a little quicker on the uptake and had treated my boy just a little better.
Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd - An adrenaline novel that just didn't get my adrenaline pumping.

State of Decay (REVIVORS)State of Decay by James Knapp - This one was interesting. I thought the idea of one's body to be used as a soldier zombie after death was very inventive. The plot ended up becoming a little too convoluted but it was definitely worth reading. I think this will be an author to watch in the future.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Online Tutorials

I am noticing that a lot of our patrons are having difficulty figuring out how to use our self-checkout machines without help from staff, which defeats the purpose of the self-checkout machines. What do you think? As a library customer, would you make time to watch an online one-minute tutorial?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

My Oscar Picks...

I have never managed to win the contest at our Oscar parties in spite of (or perhaps because of) seeing most of the nominees. Still, it is fun to guess so I am going to give you my picks for the different categories.

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Actor in a Leading Role: Jeff Bridges
Actress in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep
Actor in a Supporting Role: I liked Matt Damon but I am going to have to go with Christoph Waltz
Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo'Nique
Animated Feature Film: I did not get a chance to see all of these. Up is my choice.
Art Direction: Sherlock Holmes
Cinematography: Avatar
Costume Design: Coco Before Chanel
Directing: Kathryn Bigalow for The Hurt Locker
Documentary Feature: I didn't get to see all of these. I am going with Food, Inc.
Documentary Short: I saw none of these. I am going to pick Rabbit a la Berlin because I like the title.
Film Editing: Inglorious Basterds
Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon since that is the only one I saw.
Makeup: Star Trek
Music (Original Score): The Hurt Locker
Music (Original Song): "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart
Short Film (Animated): Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (although I think Logorama will win)
Short Film (Live Action): The Door
Sound Editing: Inglorious Basterds
Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker
Visual Effects: Avatar
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Precious
Writing (Original Screenplay): Up

There are a few of these that I had more than one possibility but these ended up being my favorites.