Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deaths in the news

Just saw on Yahoo that J. D. Salinger has died at the age of 91. Famous for his writing, especially for "Catcher in the Rye", he later became infamous for hiding out from the world. Basically, I think it got to the point where he hated his fellow human beings. He refused to give interviews, and more than once went to court to block publications that were "unauthorized" by him. Makes one wonder what will happen now that he's not here to block people. Bet he'll be spinning in his grave. Did anyone actually like CITR? All I can remember about it were the "dirty" words :-)

Louis Auchincloss also passed on - he was 92. He died Tuesday after a stroke. He wrote all sorts of stuff in both fiction and nonfiction. I've never read anything by him, but I know his name.

Howard Zinn also died, at the age of 87. He wrote the leftist "A People's History of the United States". The book was taught in high schools and colleges. Very progressive at the time, because it was extremely left-wing, claiming that Christopher Columbus and fellow explorers were guilty of genocide, blasting presidents, and celebrating workers and feminists. I can't for the life of me remember if we had this book in my school system. Probably not - my little home town was very conservative. I imagine there would have been quite the uproar if they'd taught from that text!

And finally, to all the fans of the movie "Poltergeist", join me in a moment of silence for Zelda Rubinstein. Yep, our pint-sized psychic has died at the age of 76. She was the one who kept yelling about "go into the light", and let me tell ya - I found it creepy the way she called out to Carol Anne. But that's just me. She'd recently had a heart attack. Even if you don't know who she is, I bet you'd recognize her voice. I loved her as the sloshed organist in "16 Candles", the one who played at Molly Ringwald's sister's wedding. She was so funny in that!

2010 is not off to a good start, friends. January isn't over yet, and we've had several deaths already. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The final week of January

The end of January is upon us - who saw this month just flying by like it has? I'm always shocked at how much faster time seems to go the older I get; why didn't Einstein investigate that theory? LOL! Anyway, there's not a whole lot out this week, mostly non-fiction that I chose to ignore. Here's the best of the new pubs....

"Blood Ties" by Kay Hooper. This is the conclusion of Hooper's paranormal thriller trilogy that includes "Blood Dreams" and "Blood Sins". I've never read her, but she usually falls into the romantic suspense category. I'm guessing she went into this area when all the vampire/paranormal stuff hit big. Publisher's Weekly has a short review available on Amazon, and let's just say they are not impressed.

"Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging" by Greg Critser. The author tackles the world of biogerentology (aka how to keep the old people young and healthy). He covers all sorts of territory, starting with the Caloric Restriction Society, the people who believe hardly eating anything at all will keep you young and more mentally viable. I've gotta tell ya, folks - I am sick of this sort of thing. Aging is now looked at as a disease, and it's NOT. It's part of the natural process of human beings, it's going to happen to all of us, and we should stop trying to stop the clock. Whatever happened to "aging gracefully"?

"Gator-a-Go-Go" by Tim Dorsey. There are now an even dozen titles in Dorsey's wacky series about serial killer Serge A. Storms (a killer with a conscience - he tends to only kill bad people, the kind that need killing). Florida's Spring Break offers the setting and lots of opportunities for interesting kills, not to mention satire on a "Girls Gone Wild" sort of show. He's not for everyone, but he is good.

"The Bricklayer" by Noah Boyd. Boyd is a pseudonym for a former FBI agent; this is his debut novel. PW says it's a by-the-numbers routine thriller. Probably a good reason to use the pen-name.

"The Dragon Keeper: Vol I of the Rain Wilds Chronicles" by Robin Hobb. Fantasy work from Hobb, the beginning of a new series, and it's all about dragons. Not the kind you usually read about, though; these dragons are struggling to survive in a world that has largely forgotten about them.

"Three Days Before the Shooting..." by Ralph Ellison. This isn't really a novel but a compilation of work done by Ellison, most of it belonging to a never-finished second novel. It sounds like it will be good, but only if you're an Ellison fan to begin with. Plus it clocks in at over 1100 pages - definitely for the die-hard enthusiast.

"The Seventh Witch" by Shirley Damsgaard. (Ophelia & Abby Mysteries, #7). This is one that I've been waiting for. I've read this series from the start, and I'm always glad to see a new book starring Ophelia Jensen and her grandmother Abby. They're both witches from a long line of such women, but they're not nearly as "woo-woo" as most think, more along the lines of women from the Appalachians who worked in herbs and other folksy medicine. Fear not, there are some "real" witch powers as well - Ophelia tends to get flashes of the future, something she's been learning to embrace, rather than fear. These are great books for someone who wants a little bit of the paranormal in their reading, but doesn't want all the gore that can be found in the urban fantasy genre, nor a lot of the hot & heavy romance from that genre. Think tea cozy mystery, just starring witches!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

RIP, Robert B. Parker

Yes, it's true - Robert B. Parker died today. I just called my husband to tell him the news; it was on the book page at Amazon. He was 77 years old, and after doing a bit of surfing, I found an article by the Los Angeles Times confirming it. According to said article, when news broke about his death and began circulating the Internet, it was said that he died sitting at his desk. I really hope that's true because it probably means he died doing what he loved best - writing.

He was born in 1932 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and left a career teaching college English when his writing took off. If you've never read him (or heard of him), he created the character Spenser, a tough detective made famous by the TV show "Spenser for Hire" back in the 80s. That series was up to 38 installments. He also wrote about Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, and often his characters made small "guest appearances" in each other's series (but according to my hubby, not always by name - often just a reference that a fan would understand). And for those not into the detective books, perhaps you've heard of a movie called "Appaloosa", starring Ed Harris and Vigo Mortenson; Parker wrote the book the movie is based upon. The man was prolific considering that he started later in life, and he will be greatly missed.

The good news for fans is that two more books are expected by Parker this year. However, I'm not sure if that includes the newest Jesse Stone novel, "Split Image", which is due for release next month. And there's always the chance that someone will find a "lost" manuscript, which is always a crap shoot. Hopefully Parker did not make any kind of deal to have someone else write under his name (or the estate's name - a trend that I'm not totally comfortable with). The man had class, and I know several of our patrons will be very sorry to hear of his passing. We lost a good writer today, folks. But he had a great life and got to make a living doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky.

"Mercy Thompson: Homecoming" by Patricia Briggs and David Lawrence

This is a bit of a departure for me - a graphic novel. I don't normally read these things, mostly because, well, I don't know why. I just never got into this genre. (My sis is another story, and my go-to-gal if I have questions about a series). I am, however, a huge fan of Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, so I thought I owed it to myself to pick this up. It's supposed to be an Origin Story, something that Briggs states this genre handles quite well.

There's not much here that will be really new to fans of the series. We are introduced to the key players, Mercy, Adam the werewolf, Stefan the vampire, Zee the mechanic (and fae), etc. Samuel is missing, as he's not yet arrived in the Tri-City area. Mercy arrives and immediately has problems fitting in, botching an interview for a teaching job. She's about to head back home when her car is in need of repair (mostly body damage, thanks to a werewolf pack); she ends up at Zee's place. And as we all know, she ends up working there.

As I said, there's not much that's really new to myself or anyone else already reading the books. It was interesting to see how the illustrators drew characters I've been seeing in my head for the last few years. Let's just say I'm not seeing what they see, except for Zee; he looks pretty much as I imagined. My biggest complaint is that Mercy is naked in almost every chapter at some point. Now, hear me out - the nudity makes sense, to a point. The scenes all have her changing into her coyote form or back into her human form, and if you know anything about shape-shifters (or weres, or whatever you want to call them), you know that clothing doesn't survive the Change. I'm OK with that. What I'm not OK with is that there are male werewolves in pretty much the same boat, and they are not nude in any scene. The most you get is Adam from the waist up. Yes, I realize that most graphic novels are not aimed at a female audience. But I think what was missed here is that a lot of the built-in audience are female, at least, from my library experience. Plus, Mercy on the cover looks very much like a slightly younger version of the book covers. Open the thing, and wow! Instant boob job. I know, I know - gotta appeal to the young teen boys that will most likely be looking at this. Still..... it just doesn't sit quite right with me.

Overall, I'm not sorry I picked it up. It was different, a bit interesting, and only took about an hour to read. But in the future, I'm going to stick with the novels, as I feel they have much, much more to offer.

Friday, January 15, 2010

When life gets in the way

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I have been running behind on this blog, mostly due to life getting in the way. I very briefly mentioned that I'd gotten caught up for the most part, but I didn't really go into the actual stuff of my life. Since I rarely mention anything other than books on here, I decided I'd take a few minutes and let my faithful readers know a little bit about me.

So the first thing getting in the way is, of course, work. We were very, very slow during the holidays, which is typical - we don't sell anything, so we're not a "hot spot" during the Christmas rush. And people plan on traveling and visiting with family, which means checking out a lot of books/DVDs/etc is not high up on their lists of things to do. Which makes for some long days of trying to find projects around the branch, things that need doing that we usually don't have time to do. Yeah, you got it - mostly this means cleaning!

When the patrons did start to return, it was in droves - had some of our busiest days since the summer months. And unfortunately, they were not all the "good" patrons that make my job one that I love. Lots of Internet requests that we couldn't fill due to our small branch only have 2 public Internet terminals (and before you ask, yes, it would be nice to have more - at times. They aren't always booked and frankly, we just don't have the space. Or the money!) I had to tell more than one person that we were either full for the day (you can make a same-day appt for one hour of usage) or that the next time available was a few hours away. Which led to several unhappy people, especially those that just "need 5 minutes" to check an email or print a resume from their flash drive or some other such request. This is where my patience starts to wear thin. An emergency on your part is NOT one on mine, and I don't appreciate when you snark at me like I'm depriving you of something. I really get peeved when these same patrons ask if they can interrupt another patron's Internet session for those same "5-minute" deals; the answer is no, you cannot ask someone to "let" you use a computer. They either showed up at the door at opening time, or dialed us and requested a time - they are allowed their full hour with no interruptions (other than our system taking a dump, which it does from time to time). Then comes my favorite: "Can you ask them to let me use it for 5 minutes? Just to print this out?"

Oh, HELL no.

Now get out of my library!


There have also been issues at work with our collection development process (yeah, how we get the books and stuff ordered - big fancy words for just that). I am one of the branch representatives on the committee, and came on board just before they made some major changes to how we order stuff. I've never known any other way to make these decisions, so I'm probably one of the few that isn't having a problem with it. Others are complaining that things aren't being done the way they should be (ie - more like the "old" way). Some are saying that others aren't "doing it right". Some branch people are feeling like they're not getting what they want, and getting lots of stuff they don't want (ie - stuff that you just cannot convince people to take home no matter what you do). There's a lot of snarking and stepping on toes, and just generally it's been miserable. My hubby has said on more than one occasion that I should just step down and let another branch supervisor take my place. No way! I really want our system to have the best stuff, while making sure that the branches have things that will actually circulate. It's not easy, but I believe it can be done. I'm just hoping that some of the infighting will die down soon...

Finally, there's just normal life. Like most people, I fell into the lazy patterns of early winter/the holidays. I put things off until later - and now it's later. I've started some spring cleaning at our apartment, mostly because as much as I love my hubby, we obviously have very different ideas when it comes to the definition of "clean". In his mind, if he isn't tripping over something, the room is clean! And of course I know that it means so much more. Don't get me wrong - he's awesome and does do quite a bit of housework, just in very specific areas. The dishes are washed every day, as well as the dishwasher run on a regular basis. He cleans the counter tops almost every day, too. But I had to tell him about the crumbs around the lid of the stove, and beg him to mop the darn kitchen floor. As I said, different definitions. I'm also trying to get back into the habit of walking every day. If you haven't heard, my state as well as almost the whole country was in the deep freeze for a good couple of weeks recently. I did try to keep walking, but MAN - it was just too blasted cold! Luckily, we are now having "normal" temps here, which means highs in the 50s. Not as warm as I prefer, but much, much better than frigid stuff we just had.

And that's my life! Nothing terribly exciting, but intrusive all the same. I hope to have some more spare time now and keep this blog better updated! Let me know if you have any ideas!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New titles for the week of January 18th

OK, to possibly atone for my complete slackness on last week's new arrivals, I'm trying to get ahead for this week. So here are the titles that should be hitting your local bookshelves/libraries. Look for them or don't - the choice is always yours!

"Kisser" by Stuart Woods. Book 17 in Woods' popular Stone Barrington series. I know - you just have to wonder how good the books still are when you get that many in a series. And the man writes four other series, too. Pretty much manly detective/crime drama type stuff.

"Be Careful What You Pray For" by Kimberla Lawson Roby. This is a sequel to the author's book "The Best of Everything". The privileged daughter of Reverend Curtis Black, Alicia, is all grown up and now on husband #2. He's just like her father, a pastor, and she's loving being the pastor's wife. Little does she know just how much her new husband resembles her beloved daddy. The author is pretty well-known in the African-American genre. Could be good - certainly sounds interesting.

"Book of Fires" by Jane Borodale. 17-year-old Agnes Trussel arrives in London lost, scared, and pregnant. She is taken in by Mr. J. Blacklock as an apprentice in his fireworks shop. Their relationship grows slowly, with Agnes learning the secrets of rockets and other forms of fire. Didn't really sound like much until I read in the product description that it would appeal to fans of Sarah Waters. Hmmm.... I do like her work. Might give this a try.

"Burning Land" by Bernard Cornwell. Another one of Cornwell's Saxon Tales. Should appeal to historical fiction fans (but probably not historical romance fans - these are "guy" books).

"The Endless Forest" by Sara Donati. Follows the Bonner family that Donati introduced in "Into the Wilderness". Set in the 19th-century New York frontier, this is a historical family drama.

"The Murderer's Daughters" by Randy Susan Myers. Debut novel about two sisters, Lulu and Merry, and the turns their lives take after their alcoholic father kills their mother, then botches his subsequent suicide. The girls are placed in an orphanage with predictable results. Could be a bit cliche as well as suffer from alternating perspectives (each chapter told by one of the sisters).

"The Queen's Governess" by Karen Harper. The product description on Amazon starts off with the following sentence: "A fresh and intriguing historical novel told in the voice of Queen Elizabeth I's governess." Which made me think, what IS it with all the historical novels coming out this week? I mean, really! Set in the Tudor times, do with it what you will.

"Rebels and Traitors" by Lindsey Davis. This has got to be some kind of joke, right? This book is set during the English Civil War. I am definitely sensing a theme here...

"Small Wars" by Sadie Jones. OK, this is historical, too, but in the very recent past. The setting is Cyprus in 1956 and the title refers to one of the "small wars" the British fought after WWII. Sounds like it will be a character-driven work, and that the main theme will be that there are no "small" wars - that the violence touches everyone. Her second book.

"The Vampire Maker" by Michael Schiefelbein. I am really surprised that this author is still getting published. I read the first of what was supposed to be a trilogy at the time, entitled "Vampire Vow". It was, without a doubt, one of the most hate-filled works I've ever read. I just could not understand the point of the book. If this is anything like that first title, stay away from it!

"Wild Child" by T. C. Boyle. A short story collection by a rather literary author.

"Wolf at the Door (sean dillon #17)" by Jack Higgins. This series features former IRA man Sean Dillon who is now part of the British Prime Minister's private army. Expect lots of action-packed excitement.