Saturday, July 22, 2017

Guh, I've been working on this post forever!

The blessing way by Tony Hillerman.  I couldn't get into this, largely because of the language.  I read for a while, wavering between "it's artistic\experimental" and "this author never talks to real people."  In the end, it doesn't matter, does it?  Not-natural language is not-natural language.

Ordinary grace by William Kent Krueger.  This was suggested to me by a coworker, and I can see both why he liked it and why he suggested it to me.  Unfortunately, I was confused about a few identity details in the first couple pages and couldn't get it all sorted out in my mind in time to become invested.  Worth another try somewhere down the line, but I put it down this time.

Hell's gate by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch.  I remember that I saw stars and great reviews associated with this.  I read fully half of it, and the book has no idea what it is trying to be.  I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a book that tries to mix 3 or more genre elements and is successful in doing so.  This is part historical fiction, part alternative history, part mystery, part paranormal, part conspiracy story.  There are good elements-- the feel is very WWII-era fiction, the main character is a man's man appropriate for the era-- but it's not a smooth read.

The chronicles of Narnia: The voyage of the Dawn Treader with Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes.  I am pretty sure I saw this before, but in a my-husband-watched-it-and-I-napped-in-the-same-room sort of way, because it was familiar, but I know I haven't read the book (started it but only got a few chapters in and set it down).

The actor who plays Eustace does a fantastic job!  That role, done poorly, could really have broken the movie.  I cannot comment obviously on the adaptation, but as a movie it's a good one-- I enjoyed the effects without feeling they were overdone, the characters were believable, the action was good.

Nurse Jackie, seasons 1 and 2, with Edie Falco.  Netflix suggested this for me, and there are definitely similarities to some other things I've watched, but I'm not going to continue past season 2.  It is a good suggestion for people who like Orange is the new black-- graphic, dark, unapologetic-- and also House-- a self-destructive medical professional who is great at the job but a crappy human.

I'm not going to continue because the main character is so purposefully self-destructive.  I've watched a couple other things in which the main character is a destructive, unlikable, unredemable person, but the secondary characters are so interesting and well-drawn they make it worth continuing.  That is not the case here.

The librarians, season 2, with Rebecca Romijn.  Hmm, it ha been a while since I binged this one weekend.  I continue to be a little in love with Christian Kane's character-- I know I said it before, but such a good fit for him!  The advent of season 3 this fall makes me almost wish I had TV.

Something new: Tales from a makeshift bride by Lucy Knisley.  I wish this had existed-- and I had read it-- before our wedding.  We didn't know anyone who had gotten married, hadn't attended any weddings since the one I was a flower-girl in when I was 5.  Despite our best intentions, our celebration ended up being a little more commercialized, a little more cookie-cutter than I wanted, but I didn't really know how to avoid it.  It was years and years before I knew anyone who incorporated anything hand-made into their reception.

Track of the cat and A superior death by Nevada Barr.  This continues to be a popular series I'm regularly replacing, so I thought I would give it a try.  After two installments, I'm nearly disgusted with... I'm not sure.  Myself because it is so full of errors and problems but I still want to read the next one?  The publisher for continuing such a long series when each volume needs a great deal more editing?  Readers in general with low standards?

The main character is great, and she carries these books.  She, along with the well-incorporated natural setting, is the only reason to continue reading.  In the first book, problem include:
-character makes major oversight in trying to solve the murder.  You call yourself law enforcement?
-secondary characters lack depth and are little more than stereotype.
-messy resolution and no follow-up.
Problems from the second book:
-bipolar secondary characters: you tied him up and left him to work his way out when he threatened to kill you; you run into each other the next day and he helps you fix your boat?
-other secondary characters were indistinct from each other and too numerous.
-the what-happened-after-she-cornered-the-bad-guy was better,  but this time wrapped up perhaps a little too neatly, like the author checked off boxes for each character to close up the last chapter.

Adulthood is a myth: A "Sarah's scribbles" collection by Sarah Andersen.  This is not a volume necessary to the library collection-- it is most likely to catch the eye of people familiar with the artist from seeing her online, but people who have seen a few of her things online are likely to have already seen everything contained in this volume.  I didn't see anything new.

The dragon round by Stephen S. Power.  I didn't get very far in this-- I had read a really good review, but I wasn't super confident after reading the first couple pages, then time ran out and I had to return it for someone else's hold.  

transcribed reviews

I typed these up last year and they've just been hanging out as a draft all this time.  These books were read between 2001 and 2006.

Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen.  This was a pretty lousy book, according to my experience, and I've read some pretty bad ones.  The story ideas itself weren't that bad, although neither was it amazing.  The language left much to be desired but was at least not riddled with typos.  I never felt properly introduced to many of the characters.  I will not read this book again, nor would I tell anyone else to.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett.  As always, you've got to read Pratchett strictly for its entertainment value, but this is one of the books that has more insights than most.  It's a fun book, and I think it would be a good spring board for discussion.

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.  For all the opportunities it had to do so, this book just never brought me to the edge of my seat.  There was a bit of scientific yaddayaddah, which wasn't difficult to understand.
The main character (the narrator) was a real weenie-- no spirit of adventure, whined the whole trip, and fainted dead away at the slightest provocation.  I was not impressed.  He doesn't get to go camping with us.

Justice Hall by Laurie R. King.  Although I have greatly enjoyed this author, I must say that the first few books in the series were better.  I cannot exactly say why.  The danger in this story was greater; the villains, more maniacal; Holmes, truer; Russel, more innocent; and the slightest sexual tension inherent, but not in the way of the story.
This book was particularly frustrating in that it took two characters who had appeared in two previous books, who were exciting and well-loved, and bungled their uncomplicated relationships with each other, England, and their families.  For the duration of the book, they are not their normal selves. When they are restored, they go off and we do not see them, on adventures without us.  Unsatisfying.

The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder.  This book was amazing, in that it made history really come alive.  It put a different spin on the Norman invasion and William the Conqueror than we usually see.  The story moved along nicely.  It may be aimed a little younger than high school readers, but I still enjoyed it.

Kit's Wilderness by David Almond.  The story features a group of 13-year-olds, but the story could easily be relevant to an older age group.  It examines darkness: physical, personal, and a greater darkness.  Is darkness necessarily, inherently, perhaps, evil?  Is it wrong to seek darkness?  Darkness is a refuge, as well as a journey or a destination. Great potential to be very deep when used properly.

Knight Errant by R. Garcia Y Robertson.  Rather like the Outlander series in some ways-- time travel, love story, and history lesson rolled together.  This concerns the War of the Roses, around 1490.

I found the plot well-presented, but the author has no grasp of the true purpose of punctuation, using dashes and colons as decoration for the fragment.  With correct punctuation, the sentences would, by and large, be fine; the author just insists on breaking the sentences up with unnecessary periods.  The author also has a few pet phrases I find annoying that are used at every turn.  Eh.  I don't know if I'd necessarily recommend this one-- it isn't exactly great reading-- but I'm learning my history.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

one review

a lonely review to post so I can get it onto NetGalley. 

Parent deleted: A mother's fight for her right to parent by Michelle Darne.  Fully a third of the way through the book, what we hear about the most is the author's work history and work life.  I guess she's trying to show the kind of person she is?  It's hard to believe there will be a meaningful message; I mean, we hear more about her assistant than we do about her spouse.  It also seems like this is for a certain audience, for people who share more life experiences with the author.  I'm a 30-something professional woman, but I live in a town of less than 20,000 and work 37.5 hours per week.  I'm not in the same place as a 30-something professional woman who lives in New York City and works 16-hour days.  I'm married and have a child, but I'm not very brown, I've never been divorced, and I'm not a lesbian.  The author doesn't do anything to help people understand where she's coming from; she doesn't help the reader empathize much either, talking mainly about the actions she undertook to move her career forward.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

not many stars

Noble destiny  by Katie MacAlister.  Ugh.  This quickly became unbearably silly.  What a ninny.  2 stars, and that's only because the author can actually construct a full sentence and properly use commas.  Standards are low.

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The true story of New York City's greatest female detective and the 1917 missing girl case that captivated a nation by Brad Ricca.  The style doesn't work for me.  In the first few chapters, we jump around a wide span of years, visiting causes and effects.  It also feels highly novelized-- who said what and how everyone was feeling, largely made up out of whole cloth.  Maybe for true-crime fans?  I'm not one.

Deja who by MaryJanice Davidson.  This book is not for everyone.  First, the setting isn't really explored.  Is it a parallel earth; a near, enlightened future; an alternate reality?  This leaves the reader a little unmoored.  Secondly, this book would only make sense to readers familiar with the author's previous works.  I'm having a hard time quite describing this: the author makes some jumps that will be only followed or only easily followed by people who, through experience, know how this author develops her stories.  Finally, there are some legitimate concerns to how the paranormal-reincarnation world rules were set up that were ignored in the story.  That feels lazy.

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen.  I like that the author tried something different-- not a huge difference in setting, but a different-feeling storyline and different types of characters.  Unfortunately, she didn't quite make the jump.  The love triangle felt ham-handed from the beginning, and the spy story was equally clumsy, with thin characters popping up as obvious herrings right and left.  A tighter story with fewer characters would have allowed for more examination of motivations and been more satisfying than having the bad guy pop up Jack-in-the-box style in the last half-dozen pages. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stuff I actually read

Flashmob by Christopher Farnsworth.  If you liked the first one, the second is just as good; if you didn't like it, there's nothing new here.

The end of the world running club by Adrian J. Walker.  This was a good book.  As I was describing the sequence of events to my spouse, he commented that it seemed pretty predictable, and he's kind of right.  There are only so many ways an end-of-the-world story can go and if you've read more than a few, there is going to be some kind of repetition.  His comment did make me notice just how often a chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, which seems pretty unnecessary: the reader isn't in this book for the action; we're in it because the main character is a lousy but redeemable guy.  He's not terrible because he's heartless, it's because he's lazy.  We can understand him.

Maybe it's silly, but the most unbelievable thing isn't that all the international space programs miss the asteroids, or that society collapses, or that a middle-aged paragon of flab manages to un marathons daily, or that there is a new illness of unknown origin medicine can't treat; it's how patient the wife is.  She doesn't have much on-screen time, but we hear from the main character how patient she is, a stay-at-home mom of a toddler and a baby, she does all the housework and doesn't say anything to her tubby, uninvolved, frequently-drunk husband.  Doesn't give him a hard time, rarely makes demands, is organized and clear-headed in emergencies, and is unquestionably in love with him, even when he has spent years trying to escape the life he has made for himself.  She stands out as thinly-painted and poorly-planned.

The sword of summer by Rick Riordan.  My kid has run through the original "Percy Jackson" series, and is finishing up the various sub-series ("Heroes of Olympus" and "Trials of Apollo") and is getting ready to start the "Kane Chronicles."  It's no longer possible for me to pre-read everything he picks up (and does it count as a parental pre-read if my first run-through was before he was born? I certainly wasn't looking at these as a parent-- looking out for boy-girl stuff; the boy informs me there is more swearing than I remember).

Although the character is 16, this is more appropriate for younger readers-- I'd estimate average readership would be about 12, but really whoever finds the language accessible.  No kissing, no super-bad language, nice incorporation of a new mythology (fascinating for the detail-oriented reader) and a tiny tie-in to the original and sub-series-- in this book, it only requires that the reader have a passing understanding that the original series exists; it doesn't require the reader to have read and remember all of them.

Noble intentions by Katie Macalister. I downloaded this from OverDrive to my Nook, which took me directly to the last page.  At least my device thought it memorable, even if I didn't.  I'm guessing I read this in the last 6-12 months?  As I paged ("paged") through it, I remembered most of the details, so it can't have been too long ago that I first read it, but OverDrive doesn't have anything helpful on the public page like when it was added to the collection or anything.  I'll have to use my powers for evil.

Hmm, my powers used for evil only tell me that this title has checked out 194 times since purchase-- 2 of those to me, obviously.  That doesn't really help.  Well, I'll blog it here and count it for this year.

For a romance novel, this is pretty good.  It is rather silly and tends to strain-- or ignore-- credulity.  I think I'd rather have romance that tends toward silliness than relies on ridiculous melodrama.  The characters' tensions come primarily from the guy's tragic past and a current outside source, rather than from baseless assumptions and cross-talk.Only recommended for people looking for light romance; in that case, highly recommended.  Since I was looking for just such a thing to take on a long weekend upcoming, I'll be downloading the loosely-connected "second" in the series.  (I read the description *very* carefully; I definitely haven't read the book yet.)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Books & Libations

Selected titles, attached wines, and with the notes I made to myself.  Here's the program.

The valley of the moon by Melanie Gideon, as colorful as the Rugosa Rosé.  I found the language well- and carefully-crafted, perhaps the most elegant of the books in this list.  The multiple narrators and multiple time periods will make this appealing to a wider range of readers.  While dealing with some difficult life issues, the book reads as delicate, the characters as alive, so I matched it with the versatile, light Rosé.  I have added this title to my own To-Read list.

The last bookaneer by Matthew Pearl, to read while drinking Sangiovese.  The language in this historical fiction has a pleasant period feel, and readers will like learning a bit about this historical footnote.  The Sangiovese is both savory and sunny so is a good match for this title, described as balanced.

Second life by Paul Griner, dark like the Cabernet Sauvignon.  I was stuck by this book’s lack of quotation marks—usually a flat-out book-slamming no-go for me, but it is amazingly combined with very wide margins to create a narrow, tight text column which hurries the eye down the page.  A unique reading experience!  Described as a “deliciously dark” read, it’s an obvious match for the darkest, savory red.

A borrowed man by Gene Wolfe, matched with the Tempranillo.  The wine’s notes include bright, flashy, and balanced; my notes for the book are elegant, lively, multilayered, and deceptively simple.  I have added this title to my own To-Read list.  I like, and think others will be interested in, how the story/world seem light but suspenseful.  I chose this as the “sci-fi that’s not a sci-fi”—yes, it’s set in a future time period where people have technology we don’t have today, but the book is about a person and a mystery and issues of legal identity—things everyone can understand.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell, to enjoy with Dolcetto.  This wine is light and easy-drinking, perfect for the “zippy, fun, fresh” New Adult-ish book which was described as being like listening to your best friend.  I’ve flipped through several Rainbow Rowell books and would personally like something with a little more elegance and a little more depth, but her fans are legion.

I had originally included Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart, to pour over when Malbec is poured.  My original note: I have read this before.  I matched this book based largely on the wine’s description as “not too polished” which I thought a perfect complement to the dark, rough pencil-y sketches that make up this graphic novel.  Another reviewer described this book as raw, efficient, direct, and unmanipulated (this is from my second-hand note, I don’t have that review handy), which seemed both accurate for the book and comparable to the wine.

However, my reader requested a substitution.  Although she personally enjoyed the book, she didn't feel able to promote it to a large group of readers.  So we substituted with Dinner with Edward: The story of a remarkable friendship by Isabel Vincent, a memoir that reads a bit like A man called Ove

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Q-2 recount

Boxes checked off this quarter:

A difficult topic: Boy
Author born in an African Country: Wife of the gods
Author born in Asia: A rising man
Author born in China: Little white duck [Was it cheap of me to use graphic novels and children's material to check off some of my boxes?  No, I don't think so.]
By or about a person who has a disability: Wrinkles [main character has Alzheimer's]
That's been on your TBR list too long: Crosstalk  [I requested this on NetGalley well in advance of its fall 2016 pub date, making it on my list for more than a year.]
Fiction set during wartime: Eagle and empire [no one said it had to be a historically-accurate war story]
Children's book aloud: Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer [I was worried I would have to set up a contrived situation to check off this box, but this locally-written picture book came through on a rare occasion I was on check-in.  Another staffer shouted "read it to us!"  Couldn't have planned it better if I tried.]
Contemporary collection of poetry: You don't have to say you love me: A memoir [this has quite a bit of prose, too, but NetGalley filed it under poetry.  It's as close as I'm likely to get... and there really are a lot of poems.]
Book by a female author that deals with a serious topic: In our backyard: Human trafficking in America and what we can do to stop it
Murder mystery written by a man: The late show
Bestseller from a genre you don't normally read: If not for you [read this late in the first quarter, pre-pub.  It took a few months for the title to hit the NYT best sellers list.  Although I do read romance, I don't voluntarily read much contemporary, gentle, non-paranormal.  This (sub)genre is outside more normal choices.]

Non-counters:
13th child, Across the Great Barrier, and The far west
Eggs, beans, and crumpets
Killfile 
Landscape with invisible hand  [I debated about including this as the "sci-fi written by a man" entry, since most reviewers would lump it in with sci-fi.  I stand firm, however.  Same applies to Killfile: if you look closely, it's more paranormal than sci-fi.]
Monstress
A most extraordinary pursuit
A murder in time and A twist in time
On Her Majesty's frightfully secret service
Poison or protect 
Sex criminals vol.3
The wages of sin

57.1% complete!-- 40 down, 30 to go.  Some of them I just haven't gotten to (I'm pretty intrigued by the list of subgenres I wasn't familiar with) but some I'm a little nervous about (the books I like don't get made into movies, and I've read all the classics I care to: it's funny what you have access to when you work in libraries).  Taking suggestions for books on current events, (auto)biographies, and Japanese philosophy.

Still to read:
Non-Western history
An Indigenous culture
Japanese philosophy
Current events
Psychology
Religion
Your favorite hobby
Written by a woman under 25
Author born in Australia/Oceania
Author born in South America
Read a book before you see the movie
A book that's mentioned in another book
From a genre/subgenre you've never heard of
Recommended by an author you love
From a nonhuman perspective
Essays
Classic literature written by a man
Classic literature written by a woman
Memoir by someone who identifies as LGBTQIA
Book by a modernist woman writer
Collection of comics
Science fiction book written by a man
Classic you have always wanted to read
Book written over a century ago, then read a retelling of the book
Graphic novel that's a retelling of a classic book
Book that was adapted to film.  Watch the film, then compare and contract it with the book.
Auto/biography of a man, written by a man
Auto/biography of a woman, written by a woman
Bestseller from 2016
Reread your favorite book from your childhood.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Q2 stragglers


A rising man by Abir Mukherjee.  This is nice; a mystery, but not cozy.  It has some darkness, but it's not suspense/thriller.  It has an international setting but doesn't rely on the reader have a comprehensive knowledge of the area or time period.  There is room to grow the character in the upcoming series installments, but reading further isn't necessary-- the story is nicely tied up here.
Finished on Friday, did not report on time because of camping and no wi-fi.

The edge of the empire: A journey from the heart of Rome to Hadrian's Wall by Bronwen Riley.  I made it to page 32.  I was excited about this because I was kind of fascinated with Roman Britain many years ago, but I obviously didn't make it very far: the book constantly references different places (cities and regions) around Europe and in England.  I'm not familiar with those place names and they aren't marked on the (very general) map in the front, so none of the discussion meant much to me.  Reserve for readers who know their European geography.
Picked up and then dropped on Friday, did not report on time because see above.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

more tags than titles

Wrinkles by Paco Roca.  I read this previously, but I reread it recently for another work purpose related to a program, the details for which have not yet been publicly disclosed.  Shh.  Highly recommended.

Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer by Hannah Elisabeth Lowe.  The author is a patron at my library (not a secret-- she did an author signing!).  Maybe it's a local thing?-- my kid also made a book when he was in second grade.  (His story is full of some kind of robot bug things?  It's still here on the shelf somewhere.)  The public school kids get one copy printed; I assume Hannah's publication is similar.  There isn't much to say about this book-- it's really only of interest to her family and to other children in her age group interested in making a picture book.

I'm including it here because a) I read it, and it's a book, so it counts, and b) I did read it out loud, which is one of the check-boxes on my list, so hurrah.

Boy by ; full cast performance by Sarah Drew, John Getz, Travis Johns, Amy Pietz, Bobby Steggert.  This was way shorter than I anticipated.  It isn't necessarily inappropriate for teens (it's part of the summer Sync downloads program) but I think it mostly would make sense to people peripherally aware of the original book/story it's originally based on.  The dramatization is a little light on background details.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Unfinished.

The un-discovered islands: An archipelago of myths and mysteries, phantoms and fakes by Malachy Tallack.  I was very interested in this NetGalley grab but the file has some serious flaws that make it unreadable.  The few sentences I can make out seem well-written, easy to follow, and have nice sentence style and vocabulary variety.  However, the paragraphs and even parts of sentences are all jumbled up.  The first couple pages seemed ok, something I could skip back and forth and figure out, but then: "wheN MAOri peOple first passengers in those canoes were the ancestors of began to communicate with Europeans today's Ma_ori. in the eighteenth century, they insisted that New The problem with this story is that it wasn't Zealand was not their original home."  This seems like a pretty major error.  Whereas before I would have read the description and probably purchased the book, I'm not leery of whatever might be going on with this publisher and whatever else they might put out.  (OK, so Macmillan is a pretty big name, but what's this Picador imprint and why can't they get their smeg together?)

Also, the author tosses off locations (seas, islands, etc.) without mentioning where they are-- I'm looking for [sea], [hundred] miles north of [more widely known landmark] sort of thing.

The beachhead by Christopher Mari.  If you're writing a post-apocalyptic novel, great; market it as such.  If you're writing a Post Apocalyptic novel, also good, there are plenty of readers interested in that.  But a word of advice: if you're writing a Post Apocalyptic novel, don't market it as a post-apocalyptic novel.  That's two completely different camps of readers.  I'm sure there are readers who are going to be into this.  I'm not one of them, and now I'm mad that the author tried to swindle me.  Boo.

Bad feminist: essays by Roxane Gay.  I saw this author's TED talk and then later came across this collection by the same title.  I found the essays to be interesting, but terribly engaging; more of them are about Scrabble (r) and her students than about identity and feminism.  Didn't make it quite halfway through, cannot motivate myself to complete.

half-grabbed

Empire made: My search for an outlaw uncle who vanished in British India by Kief Hillsbery.  I read a fair amount of this eArc from NetGalley.  I probably could have gotten through more if the author stuck to one storyline.  I was mildly interested in his relative's experiences in India, but I found the interludes where he shares his own experiences in India in the 1970s to be distracting.  (At least in the parts I read) None of the more modern stuff includes any information that adds any great depth to the historical story.  Instead of adding modern insight onto what happened, it only breaks up the narrative flow.  Did not finish on purpose.

The PCOS diet plan: A natural approach to health for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome by Hillary Wright.  This (or the part I read, I wasn't able to get very far) is a very good informative book-- the information is presented in a way that makes sense, not overly simplified, in an easy-to-read style.  I liked that it included a short history of the understanding of this health challenge, and that it makes clear that what works for one person might not be the magic bullet for a different person.  Highly recommended for public libraries.  Did not finish due to eArc expiration.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer Reading, here we come.

I tried to work on this last night, but after I worked Summer Reading Program sign-up with 4+ hours on the desk and 1.5+ hours out on the floor, I couldn't really formulate sentences.  I'm not sure where the rest of the day went, because I was at my workstation for less than an hour. 

You don't have to say you love me: A memoir by Sherman Alexie.  I always mean to read more of this author, and I check his work out a few times a year, but then I never actually read it.  This is a beautiful, difficult, irreverent read.  There are lots of things to think about, which I won't go into, but which make this an appropriate choice for a book group.  

On Her Majesty's frightfully secret service by Rhys Bowen.  I think I keep promising myself I"m going to stop reading these, because they're pretty fluffy and insubstantial.  This one was a bit better than the last few installments-- the mystery element was a bit less obvious, the secondary characters less over-the-top silly.  I still the the author would do well to wrap this up in another book or two.  If you're looking for a light historical fiction with a good period feel, you'll find a 4-star book.  If you're looking for suspenseful mystery with a challenging who-dun-it, this is maybe a 2-star series. 

In our backyard: Human trafficking in America and what we can do to stop it by Nita Belles; read by Nicol Zanzarella.  I downloaded this audiobook through the Sync download promotion currently going on.  (I think Sync's title selection or promotion could have been a little tighter, a bit better planned-- it's marketed as a YA program but nearly half the titles would easily appeal to a much wider audience.  If it's a YA program, pick more YA titles.  If it's an all-ages program, stop sticking "teens" in all your promotional materials.)

This is an introduction to the topic, and not very graphic, so while it is accessible for teens, I'd call it a general or adult nonfiction.  The audio is also very good-- the narrator is easy to listen to and does a good job with different speakers quoted in the book; her generic-kid or generic-man voices are not overt or over-the-top, and the regional dialects or accents she uses are also neither distracting nor caricature.  Her narration is slow, appropriate to the weighty content.

I have previously read Trafficked, also about human trafficking, but that talked mostly about one person's situation in a non-US country.  I have a college friend who has become very active in anti-trafficking in a major US city.  A few years ago, I suggested to her that a good outreach would be to go to library conferences and talk to library staff, as people who work in a public place-- maybe the nearest warm or cool place for people without a safer place to go.  Another person belittled that idea saying library staff "already know" and "know what to look for."  Um, it's not covered in library school, it isn't part of the in-house training at any library I've worked at.  I've read two whole books, non-required reading, and still feel unprepared.  It's kind of hard to imagine the numbers and statistics referenced in this book.  But it happened here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shh. My house is noisy.

The late show by Michael Connelly.  I'm pretty confident that this is my first Michael Connelly book; I was worried that the writing would turn out to be overhyped (see my opinions but James Patterson, Debbie Macomber, etc.).  I found I enjoyed this quite a bit.  Although I was a little surprised to see the main character so blazé about sneaking around the law, she seemed a real enough character.  I've certainly read a few male-authored books featuring completely unlifelike female lead characters (*cough*Robert J. Sawyer*cough*) but there wasn't anything jarringly inaccurate here.  The most distracting thing was that the story used a lot of acronyms and specialist terminology that, not being a huge reader of police procedurals, I wasn't at all familiar with.

The story wrapped up pretty well-- although I was expecting more cleanup on a few issues, I guess they'll be covered in the sequel.  There isn't any great need to read beyond this installment: it's mainly  interpersonal character issues that will carry the story through, and each book will have separate crime stories.

Little white duck: A childhood in China by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez.  This was on our YA GN shelf, and it's definitely juvenile-- the topics and sentence structure are way more appropriate for a younger audience.  It's a book about life in another part of the world without getting too dark or detailed; age appropriate for grades 3 and up.  I'm just relieved to be able to check off my author-born-in-China box-- I had such a hard time finding a novel.

After a move at the beginning of the month we still don't have the computer set up, and my tablet Bluetooth keyboard died earlier this week (I have complained to the manufacturer), so I'm doing this on my phone.  Please forgive any weird autocorrects I've missed.  (I caught some really weird ones.)

program preview 2

(broken into 2 pieces because Blogger wants to limit labels.  I dislike that function.)

Books that were great but ended up not included:
(The final list of 6 books to be revealed after July 6th!)

The last policeman by Ben Winters.  I really liked this book (having previously read the series myself--12, and 3) and was hoping on using it for the busting-into-sci-fi genre-bender.  It's edgy, sharp, witty, and a bit dark and would have fit well with two of the red wines on the tasting list.  I didn't include it because I chose another slightly-futuristic witty book that might nudge people into sci-fi.  (this actually scored 0 via my points system, but only because it's under-reviewed and under-categorized in NoveList.)

The thunder of giants by Joel Fishbane.  I've picked this book up for programs several times and never fit it in.  It would appeal to a wide range of historical fiction readers because it features stories in two different time periods (both historical) and it's told in a very lively, engaging style.  I chose another book for the historical fiction spot (also told in two different time periods).  (5)

Nakamura reality by Alex Austin.  The lyrical language and flawed but realistic and relatable character made this a great match for the darkest red on the menu.  Haunting, surreal, dark, but hopeful, it was a tie between this and the other darkly suspenseful tale.  First I turned to stats-- this book marginally outscored its competition in user starts in Amazon (4.7 from 6 reviewers) and Goodreads (4.0 from 28 ratings) while the book it was up against scored very closely (Amazon: 4.1 from 7 reviewers; Goodreads: 3.29 from 31 ratings).  Despite Nakamura reality's slightly higher score, an informal poll among nearby staff reflected that, though both are great, dark books, the other book would have a slightly wider appeal.  (3)

Coyote by Colin Winnette.  This was up with Nakamura reality for the dark, dark wine.  I found the (unreliable) narrator's voice strong and inviting.  Amazon and Goodreads starts were sub-4.  This was the first book on the chopping block.  (1)

Three books were up for the position of light, genre-blending women's fiction, Hugo and RoseIn another life, and the ultimate finalist:

Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley.  The paranormal-tinged quasi-romance women's fiction story, this book seemed to have better writing, better language, and a more engrossing style than the other selections, but both Amazon and Goodreads reviewers scored it under 4.  (2)

In another life by Julie Christine Johnson.  Kicked out of the romance-y, paranormal-y women's fiction category, *and* overshadowed by another historical fiction set in multiple eras.  I was personally less impressed with the writing, although many people seem to like it-- one coworker in particular has read it and raved.  (1)

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt.  I have read very good reviews and even heard a few positive things about this one, but I found it to be a slow-starter and difficult as the setting (both time and place) seem rather unspecified.  It was only a good fit for one of the wines, and I had more interesting, more versatile, more appealing titles to use.  (2)

If I fall, if I die by Michael Christie.  I have been trying to use this somewhere for ages.  Emotionally engaging coming-of-age story with interesting, colorful, unique characters.  It wasn't very flexible-- it only fit with one wine and another book edged it out-- but I think a lot of readers would find something to like about it.  I'm keeping it on my mental list for any future need.  (4)

Speak by Louisa Hall.  The story structure is very interesting and I think it could appeal to many readers who "don't read sci-fi" but, because it *also* employs stories in multiple timelines, I didn't want to duplicate that story feature.  Highly recommended for people who like a little experimentation in their fiction.  (0, but because it's info is sparse, not for lack of quality)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Program preview

Once again I have a book-pitch-based adult program coming up.  It involves wine and always maxes out the wait list-- if you want to bring it to your library, I'm happy to share my formula.  These are the books that didn't make the cut, in the order I held them*.

In addition to keeping a running list of "cool" or "program-useful" books as I encountered them, I went through and looked at all the books I've used for this program series before.  Then I hit up NoveList and charted the appeal terms that occurred most among books that had circulated the most.

Top appeal terms were international, character-driven, sympathetic, women’s lives and relationships, contemporary, historical, engaging, lyrical, and compelling.  Most books on my possibilities list scored 2-3.  Scores of the definite nos below are noted parenthetically.

All that man is by David Szalay.  In my flip through, I can’t find a reason to invest emotionally.  This reads like a sequence of reported events, only told.  (1)

Those girls by Chevy Stevens.  Reads as sort of lacking in dimension.  Sentences are uniformly short and characters don’t have much depth.  (1)

Solar express by L.EModesitt, Jr.  The first sentence is a paragraph long.  Others look equally difficult to parse, due to messy comma usage and odd phrasing.  “But then, he’d never had to deal with thePolicia Espacial, because all the FusExburners fell under the authority of DOEA, with all pilots holding officers’ commissions, and the pilots and other DOEA personnel used the high-speed magline to and from ONeill Station, both under DOEA, as opposed to the elevator’s standard climbers and main station, which were under the authority of the Sudam AES, and the Policia Espacial, who tended to be somewhat excessively enthusiastic in dealing with those of an Angle background” (p.15).  450 pages of pretty small print, difficult to read—I can’t do that to a program volunteer.  (0)

The second chances of Priam Wood by Alexander Rigby.  I remember that I had very high hopes for this, and that I skimmed it and left myself a disappointed and cryptic note.  Sentences are a bit muddled—commas instead of semicolons, fragments interspersed with full sentences—and the second chapter is a “here are the rules of this universe” where the dead character meets his dead dog who explains the (afterlife/book’s premise) to him.  Trite.  (0)

Memoirs of a polar bear by Yoko Tawada.  A little too surreal, not really believable.  (1)

The fever by Megan Abbott.  I can't figure out why this book is in Adult instead of YA-- flipping through the first half, all the main and secondary characters are teens and it's set in a high school.  I may have some difficulty selling that to 50 adults, most of them 45+.  (1)

The reckoning stones by Laura DiSilverio.  This seems good for a suspense novel (I tend to find them lacking in depth) but suspense doesn't usually need a circ boost.  I'm not finding anything to make it really stand out.  (1)

City of savages by Lee Kelly.  A slow-moving, character-focused post-apocalyptic story: definitely has promise. But the main characters seem to be to teen sisters, so I’ll pass on it for this program. (1)

Her by Harriet Lane.  I think it’s supposed to be languid and maybe stuck with ennui, but it just seems kind of… whiny.  (1)

The winter war by Philip Teir.  I have a hard time with books about unhappy people who make risky or selfish decisions.  The parts that illustrate the unhappy family life feel like wallowing.  It’s hard to be sympathetic to the character; take some responsibility. (3)

Untouchable by Ava Marsh.  Traditional suspense set-up but from a different angle.  Good—I may be interested enough to add it to my TBR list—but explicit sex scene in chapter 2 makes it hard to sell to large groups.  [oo, I forgot to write down this score.  I'm guessing a (2)]

A change of heart by Sonali Dev.  I browsed this one a little more heavily (after being so disappointed when I finally read all of The Bollywood affair), and although it is still a little unrefined, it seems better.  I forgot that I did use a book by this author in a previous program, so I’ll not double up. (2)

The well by Catherine Chanter.  I’m still sort of personally interested, but for something sorta-suspense-y, sorta-dystopian, I have better choices on my cart.  (2)

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch.  Written in second person from an (as far as I can surmise) unidentified narrator.  Not for mass consumption?  (2)

Burning down George Orwell’s house by Andrew Ervin.  Maybe a good readalike for A man called Ove?  But some readers may not like all the f-bombs; when even I notice the frequency, the author may be using them a little bit liberally.  (1)

The last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron. Much better than anything by Jean Auel, but pre-history historical fiction fans are probably fewer; easier to sell something set a little more recently.  The historical sections are quite elegant, if frank, but the modern-set chapters feel unpolished.  (3)

Fancy by Jeremy M. Davies.  There’s no description, no silent narration to the reader; it’s nonstop talking from a character to another character.  A little too out-there.  It’s like reading a play or screenplay, but without the stage directions, and it’s a one-man show.  (2)

*last time I shared my program run-through, I alphabetized the list, but that doesn't actually make much sense in this context, because not only do I look at each book individually but I also have to look at how the 6 (will) fit together, so what I pick up and the order I grab them in seems to have an impact.