Alchemical Thoughts

CuriousGeorgeReading

The books for the TBR list just keep piling up. Maybe I will get to reincarnate so I can come back and read some more.

Items about books:

  • One for the hardcore horror film fan perhaps. I will admit that I know little of the more obscure and/or independently made horror films. This book may help fix that gap. The book is Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990. It is discussed at Bookgasm.
  • Also via Bookgasm, one for foodies, although I will warn it is not just about fancy food. The review is for an anthology of comics (some indie, some maybe a bit more mainstream) that share a common theme of food, consumption, and digestion. The book is Digestate: a food and eating themed anthology.
  • Let’s go with a bit of Japanese science fiction in translation with The Lord of the Sands of Time. It is reviewed at Contemporary Japanese Literature.
  • A couple of shop items so to speak for the librarian. One is UContent: the Information Professional’s Guide to User-Generated Content. (Reviewed here). The other is Transforming Information Literacy Instruction Using Learner-Centered Teaching (reviewed here). Of the two, I am interested more in the second one since I am an instruction librarian. The first one, though it interests me also as instruction librarian as well as blogger, I am bit more skeptical by now. After all, it is at least four years old by now, and in Internet years, that is like 20 years or so in normal years.
  • For something different, speculative fiction inspired by the Ramayana (yes, that Ramayana). I have read the Ramayana, but it was years ago. I may have to reread it down the road. So now, we get this book: Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana. Of course I had to add it to my TBR list. The book was mentioned in the Literary Salon.
  • Good manners are something that I consider important, and books on the topic, whether old or modern guides, interest me. So, I am adding The Butler Speaks to my list. It was reviewed at San Francisco Book Review. Maybe the world would be a better place if people minded their manners, maybe more if parents actually knew manners and taught them to their children.
  • Via A Case for Suitable Treatment, a review of a manga title, first in a series, I have wanted to try out. The book in question is 07-Ghost, Volume 1.
  • Via habitually probing generalist, a short review of A Most Imperfect Union. Often, I would not bother with a book when a reliable source is lukewarm about it, but I have read other works of both Stavans and Alcaraz such as Latino USA, so I am too curious not to try this out.
  • Another one from a librarian. The Lowrider Librarian says this is a book your library needs, and given recent events, I believe it. The books is Cannabis Pharmacy, and it can make a timely addition as cannabis and marijuana continue to gain legal status and acceptance in the United States.
  • Star Wars novels can be hit and miss for me. I have read some I liked, and some that I did not like. A book I did enjoy was James Luceno’s Star Wars: Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader (link to my review. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars at the time). However, I also recently read Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, which I do not recall as fondly. So the quality often depends on the author. At any rate, Luceno has a new book out: Tarkin, about the Grand Moff who commanded the Death Star. Naturally, my curiosity and the fact I enjoy Star Wars means I will probably look it up down the road. Tarkin was reviewed at BuzzyMag.
  • Interested in health care issues in the United States? Want to learn how bad the health care system is in the U.S. and pretty much how politicians, insurance companies, and a lot of money pretty much assure it stays that way? Then maybe America’s Bitter Pill may be the book for you. It was recommended by the folks at Powell’s Books.
  • For me, a new Neil Gaiman book is always of interest, and he has a new short fiction collection out. The book is Trigger Warning, and it was reviewed at Bookgasm.
  • I do like a good plate of well made noodles. One of the things I miss about living in Houston back in the day is you could find a good noodle house or two. Berea lacks such a place. I am not, however, a fan of the instant noodles. But I am interested in a book about how noodles have been turned into a commodity, whether instant or not. The book is The Noodle Narratives, and it was mentioned at Food Politics.
  • Food Politics also mentions a book about lentils and sustainable farming that sounded interesting. The book is Lentil Underground.

 

Lists and bibliographies:

  • These days, that Shades book is getting a lot of hype again because of the upcoming movie. It seems every other woman in the U.S. is creaming her panties to go see it. May the deity of choice have mercy on any boyfriend or spouse dragged into that torture. I thank the deity of choice The Better Half has better taste when it comes to erotica. At any rate, whether you need something to tide you over until the movie or, better yet, you want something better in terms of quality and writing skill than that one book, here is a small list of books beyond that one book from Shelf Talk.
  • Once again, if interested, the folks at BookFinder have done their annual report on out-of-print and in demand books. Madonna’s Sex is not number one, but it is still in the top five.
  • Via Bookgasm, a list of Euro-comics with a theme of “Getting TANKed.”
  • In 2014, one of my reading challenges allowed for reading novels based on games and video games. I could have used this list to get a few more ideas of what to read. List via Book Riot.
  • The Unshelved comic strip devotes one day a week to do book reviews. Here is their review of the Preacher comic series, which I have been meaning to read.
  • Via Sounds and Colours, a list of “the best books on street art in Latin America.” A bit from the article, “in Latin America, street art is of major cultural relevance. The region’s traditions of social movements and revolution have allowed the form to give voice to otherwise unheard sectors of the population. Of course, not all street art is politically or socially-oriented in content, but it does often provide insight into specific objectives and ideals.”
  • I am not a gardener (I would not mind becoming one, but I just do not have the time or space at the moment). However, I do find some books on the topic interesting. If you have an interest in gardening, perhaps you are a gardener yourself, this may be of interest.  Via Poor as Folk, here is a list of “best food and gardening books of 2014.
  • Need to boost the creativity a bit? Via Little Dumb Man, here is a list of “10 great books that will books your creativity.”
  • Want to be scared? Want to read some real life horror? Do you like medical subjects? Then this list may be for you. Via The Booklist Reader, here is “Contagious Reading: Scary Medical Books Where the Truth Reads Like Fiction.
Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

 

In case you missed them the first time around, these are the books I reviewed during the month of February 2015. As I have mentioned before, I may or not have read them during the month. They are the books I managed to post reviews for on the blog. As always, comments if you read any of this, or for other reasons like to suggest what to read next,  are welcome.

  • I continue to enjoy Scott Snyder’s American Vampire series. This month I reviewed volume 5 of the series.
  • I discovered Bob Fingerman’s Minimum Wage a while back. I got to read the big edition of Maximum Minimum Wage. As I wrote in my review, “the strength of this comic is in its humor and in its quotidian humanity.”
  • Read some new horror and discovered there is a whole genre of tomb robber comics in China with Daomu. If you like Indiana Jones (way before Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and Lara Croft, with a touch of horror, you will probably enjoy this one.
  • I read some excellent erotica with Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthology The Big Book of Orgasms. To give you an idea, the “overall format for the stories is about 1,200 words or less. Many of these stories do pack a very hot punch, and they will definitely leave you wanting more.”
  • I also caught up on some Christmas season reading with Everything I Need To Learn About Christmas I Learned Fro a Little Golden Book. If you remember the cute Little Golden Books, you will probably like this humorous take on them. Great for the holiday season.
  • I also read Lawrence Osborne’s The Wet and the Dry: a Drinker’s Journey. Sadly for me, the journey was not that great. I wrote on my post for the book that “after a while, one bar in some exotic locale just sort of blends with another and another without much distinction.”
  • I revisited the Corleones with Ed Falco’s novel The Family Corleone. This is a prequel to the original novel and film.
  • I read another book related to cocktails and drinking, and again, it was not that great. I just did not have much luck with this topic in the month of February. The book was The Best Shots You’ve Never Had. It does have some nice photos though.
  • It took me a while to read it, but I finally got my review up of Ultramarines: The Second Omnibus. If you like Warhammer 40,000 novels, you might enjoy the further adventures of Captain Ventris and the Fourth Company of Ultramarines.
  • And finally for this month, here is my review of bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress, which I read as a selection of the Dean’s Faculty Book Reading Group on my campus.

 

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

I fell a bit behind last year in keeping up with this, so I am going to try again for 2015. These are books I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian with links included for the reviews so interested readers can check them out. Keep in mind, these are not always books I read in the given month, but books I managed to review in the month. January was a bit slow in terms of reviews as I was also getting together my posts for reading challenges. Still, we I did manage to get some things posted. As always, comments are always welcome.

 

(Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian. I figured folks here may be interested in this too. This post does include a link to the post “My Reading List for 2014″ as well. Feel free to read, check out some of the links. As always, comments are welcome.)

 

The Best Books I Read in 2014: An Appendix to My Reading List for 2014

(Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian.)

As I mentioned in the post “My Reading List for 2014,” I had a lot of books that I felt were excellent and deserved a full five out of five stars rating (I rate on a five star scale). There were so many that I decided to make a separate post just to share the list with my four readers (maybe if I work hard enough, we can increase it to five readers of the blog this year).

The list is in no particular order. Most of these are graphic novels and comics as that is a genre I tend to favor. If I have posted a review, I will provide the link.

Graphic novels and comics

Thanks to NetGalley (and Edelweiss to a small extent), I am reading a lot more graphic novels and comics, including titles that I think many libraries do not see or miss. I personally enjoy this as it adds some diversity to my reading, especially when I read stuff other than the usual. Only sad thing is NetGalley does not have Marvel titles, but I guess you can’t have it all. Anyhow, these are the comics and graphic novels I consider my best readings for the year.

  • Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 1. My library recently acquired the five volume set of this. This is the ninja turtles as they are, before Nickelodeon got a hold of them and sanitized them.  Contrary to what most people think, it was not a comic for young kids. It is a great comic overall. I will certainly be reading the rest of the volumes in the set.
  • Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Hot in the City (The New 52). From my review, “Harley gets her own volume and adventures as she tries to move on without her Mr. J in her life and a new inheritance.” If you like the Batman comics, you will probably enjoy this one as well.
  • Geoff Johns, Batman: Earth One. Maybe instead of watching stuff like Gotham, which is basically Batman without Batman, you can read this and get the same vibe, only better.
  • Jeff Parker, et.al., Batman ’66, Vol. 1. This was just good nostalgia fun.
  • Taran Killam, et.al., The Illegitimates. Another one that was fun. This time in the old school James Bond kind of fashion.
  • The American Vampire series continues to be one of the best things out there. This year I read volumes 4 and 6 of the series. It is a series I will continue reading as it keeps getting deeper and developing its story over time well. It also captures the feel of the era a particular volume is in very well. In fact, as of this post, I have volume 7 queued up on my feed reader from NetGalley.
  • Scott Snyder, et.al., The Joker: Death of the Family. This is probably the best way to read this great series from DC’s The New 52. You can find the trades, and I read some of them, but once I found this was available, it made things a lot easier. For me, books like this are a reason why I prefer to read a story once it is compiled. The volume is a great choice for libraries with graphic novels collections.
  • J. Michael Straczynski, Superman: Earth One.
  • The Saga series. Last year I added volume 3 to what I have read. I hear the fourth volume is out, so rest assured I will be reading it. This is certainly one of the best things going on out there. You can tell people are catching on as Saga did make it on various end of year and must read lists.
  • Max Brooks, The Harlem Hellfighters.
  • Karl Bollers, et.al., Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black. For me, this was a great discovery. Sherlock Holmes has enjoyed a bit of a revival with recent shows like Sherlock (which I have watched and enjoyed) and Elementary (which I could not care less about). This graphic novel gives the character a nice, fresh and hip look. It is a lot more than just a new look. It really pays attention to the classic and brings it up to our modern time.
  • Matz, The Killer, Vol. 4: Unfair Competition. Matz’s series is another one I enjoy greatly, the practical assassin trying to make it in the harsh world. Another great series I will keep seeking out.
  • Michael Uslan, The Shadow/Green Hornet, Vol. 1: Dark Nights.
  • Jonathan Hickman, East of West, Volume 1: The Promise.
  • Simon Oliver, FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, Volume 1: The Paradigm Shift. This was an interesting discovery for me, a world where the laws of physics stop working as they normally do, and the federal agency tasked with dealing with it. That is  just the start.
  •  Jai Nitz, Dream Thief, Volume 1.
  • Gail Simone, Red Sonja, Volume 1: Queen of Plagues. Gail Simone is also known for her run of Batgirl in DC Comics. I am not as a big a fan of Batgirl (many other librarians fawn over Barbara Gordon, a character that is a librarian in the comics. Me? Cassandra Cain was more my favorite Batgirl); I read the title now and then. However, I do like Red Sonja, and Gail Simone has done great work with that character.
  • John Lewis, et.al, March, Book One. This is a great one to read for Black History Month, though you can and should read it any time.A great example of how you can teach about history with a graphic novel.
  • Box Brown, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. This is one I recommend to show the good things you can do with a graphic novel. A light but very moving biography of a man who was very generous yet fought in and out of the ring men and his own demons.
  • Stephen Mooney, Half Past Danger. If you like things like Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark, not so much Crystal Skull) and other old school action adventures, this may be for you. Add in the femme fatale and some dinosaurs for a fun mix.
  • Kenny Byerly, et,al., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures, Vol. 1. And this is the ninja turtles for the kids today. It is an all ages comic based on the recent Nickelodeon production of the comic. It is cute, fun, and nice entertainment. Kids will definitely like it.
  • James Stokoe, Wonton Soup.  Think Iron Chef (the original Japanese show, not the American knock off) and space truckers.
Manga
  •  Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf series. It is a five volume series. Though I did not give all volumes five out of five stars, read together this is definitely one of the best reads I did for 2014. It is the story of three Adolfs, one of them being the Fuhrer of Germany, during World War II. Their lives are very connected as we go from Japan to Germany and back. My review of the first volume, Adolf, Volume 1: A Tale of the Twentieth Century is up now. Others will come soon. The series is an award winner too; it won the Kodansha Manga Award.
  • Sean Michael Wilson, Musashi.
  • Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou, Deadman Wonderland, Volume 1.
 Nonfiction
  • Rachel Maddow, Drift: the Unmooring of American Military Power.  This was my one audiobook of the year. It is a book I highly recommend. Though you can read it in print just fine, I think it works better in the audio as she reads the text.
  • Robert Dawson, The Public Library: A Photographic Essay. Of the LIS and related books I read in 2014, this was one of the best. For all the hype stuff some librarians fall for, this simple book is really inspiring and a reminder for many of us why we are proud to be librarians and serve our communities.
  • Donald Nausbaum, Cuba: Portrait of an Island. A nice photo collection. This came before recent news about Cuba and the U.S. possibly opening up relations once more. Still, a very nice book to look at.
  • Daniel Yaffe, Drink More Whiskey!  From my review, “For someone wanting to learn more about whiskey in a casual and accessible style, this is a book for you. There are many books written about alcoholic spirits, but they are often written for hardcore aficionados and alcoholistas (yes, I am coining the term).” This book is more for the casual person seeking some knowledge.
  • Carol Leifer, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying. From my review, “A strength of Leifer’s book is in the lessons for work and life that she presents. She may be writing from her perspective as a comedian, but her advice applies to any career path.”
  • Andrew Knapp, Find Momo. This is one of those books that make you go “aww, how cute!” It is a beautiful book for folks of all ages.
  • Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night.  This is definitely one of the nicest books overall I read this year. For folks who love libraries and books, this is a sure thing to read. From my review, “If you are feeling down from bad news of library closings or not getting enough funding, or are you just sick and tired of the next ‘trend’ in libraries making it sound like libraries are dead fossils, then toss all that away and curl up comfortably with a serving of your favorite beverage and this book.”
  • Jenny M. Jones, The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay. For fans of the film, this is one they will want to read and add to their collections.
Erotica

This includes fiction as well as nonfiction.

Miscellaneous

Other good stuff.

  • Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back.
  • Jeffrey Brown, Goodnight Darth Vader.

CuriousGeorgeReading

Here we go again with another compilation of books I would like to read. The TBR list keeps growing, but I am cool with that. I won’t be running out of things to read any time soon, and that is a good thing. Plus if my two readers here find something to read from this series of posts, that is cool too. If you do, feel free to comment and let me know what you read and how you liked it or not.

Items about books you want to read:

  • I have read about company towns now and then, including Hardy Green’s The Company Town. Here is a photography book about the town that Kodak built, a look back at a time when Kodak was a strong company (via The Morning News). The book is Kodak City.
  • Via the 365 Letters blog, a review of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing. Personally, I am fascinated by letters, and I do find it sad people just don’t write as much as they used to, aside from some people who persevere in the art.
  • And speaking of writing, a forthcoming book on stationery. Discussed at The Well-Appointed Desk, the book is Adventures in Stationery, due out in May 2015 (with a different title for the U.S. apparently. Read the post for details).
  • For me, a new Eduardo Galeano book is a good thing. Mother Jones features some excerpts from his book Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. Personally, I like reading Galeano in the original Spanish, so here is the link to the Spanish edition too.
  • My four readers may know that I do watch porn now and then (sometimes even with the Better Half). I came of age during the 1980s VHS porn heyday when part of watching the movies was some of the ridiculous or cheesy attempts at plot just as much as the sex. The art in those VHS covers often promised way more than a movie might deliver. Now, there is a book that looks at the best of the porn movie posters of the 1970s and 1980s. Reviewed at Bookgasm, the book is Sexytime: the Post-porn Rise of the Pornoisseur. The blog post also includes links to other books that may be of interest too.
  • I am not a sports fan, but I find books with human interest like this one to be interesting. The book is Bull City Summer: A Season at the Ballpark. It was reviewed in Mother Jones magazine. My interest is that I hope it is similar to Josh Peters’ Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies, and Bull Riders, which I read.
  • In the mood for some horror? Like Lovecraft? Perhaps The Book of Cthulhu II will be to your liking. It is reviewed here at Bookgasm. I have not read some good horror in a while, so maybe this will fit the bill nicely.
  • I have mixed feelings at times about movies adapted into comics and graphic novels. Some work well; others do not work as well. Bookgasm looks at an old classic, Alien: The Illustrated Story. Looks like an interesting artifact of its time.
  • A book by or edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel is usually a pleasure for me to read. Running a bit behind on this, but this time she is editing some nonfiction in Best Sex Writing 2013. It is reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.  They also reviewed her erotica anthology anthology Twice the Pleasure: Bisexual Women’s Erotica. By the way, if folks are interested I have read and reviewed the following erotica anthologies edited by Ms. Bussel: Serving Him, the oral sex themed Going Down, and her Best Bondage Erotica 2014. By the way, I have the 2015 edition up on my reading cue, so you will see a review of that soon over at The Itinerant Librarian.
  • And let’s add a little related to information sciences (a.k.a. talking a little shop). Library Juice highlights another of their fine books on information studies. The book is Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader.

 

Book lists and bibliographies:

  • Not so much a list of books to read. This is really something for amusement. BuzzFeed had a list of “27 Books You Won’t Believe Actually Exist.” This is worth a laugh or two.
  • If you like cooking, here is a list of 20 amazing cookbooks, according to The Advocate. There are a couple of celebrity books, but there are also one or two that seem interesting.
  • The Art of Manliness has a list of “Essential Jeremiads: 16 Cultural Critiques Every Man Should Read.” From the list, I did read Allan Bloom’s book ages ago, and I did not particularly think much of it back then. Still, the jeremiad is a solid literary tradition, it should be part of your information diet, and as the bloggers write, a “jeremiad can challenge your assumptions, shake you out of apathy, spur reflection, and inspire changes in your beliefs and habits.” So, I am adding this list so others and me can challenge ourselves a bit.
  • Via the Los Angeles Review of Books, a review of three books about libraries. From the list, I already read the Dawson book, and I will put up my review of it soon.
  • I do not know about folks out there, but I am willing to admit it: yes, I do read in the bathroom when making a “longer” necessary visit. Shelf Talk features a couple of books not about reading in the bathroom but about those very necessary acts we all have to do sooner or later.

(Crossposted from The Itinerant Librarian)

We come to the last post in the 2014 Holiday Post series. Tomorrow is Three Kings Day (also known as Epiphany to many), so for Puerto Ricans like me we are still in holiday spirit (unlike other quitters who took down the Christmas three on the 26th of December). Anyhow, I like ending the year looking back a bit. I will say 2014 is a year that I am glad to leave behind. From losses in the family to terrible news nationally and around the world, it is a year I won’t miss much. When I do this post, I try not to pass on just the usual stories. Let’s have a bit of fun with it I say. So, here we go: what the hell happened in 2014?

News

Because we still feel like we have to recall the news

  • Mother Jones has a nice compilation of the biggest news stories of 2014 in photos. If you don’t want to read a lot and get the power of photos, this may be for you.
  • Getting the news via The Daily Show is a tradition for many smart folks by now. Here is a year in review using Daily Show clips. Story via TruthDig.
  • John Oliver is fast becoming another source of serious news and commentary. You know the state of journalism is down the toilet when the best journalism right now more often than not comes from the comedians. Anyhow, here are some of Oliver’s best rants. From student loans to Ferguson to Net Neutrality, John Oliver not only said it, but said it well and showed he was well informed, unlike every other so-called journalist out there. Story also via TruthDig.
  • Overall, as Mark Fiore points out, it was a “year in crazy.”

 

Civil Rights and Equality

2014 was not a good year for civil rights, equality, and progressive politics. Sure, there were some good points, but there were also a lot of very bad things.

 

Money, Dinero, Moolah, Benjamins. . .

Whether it was the bad economy or money in politics, moolah was in the news quite a bit.

Pop Culture

It is not an end of year compilation without some pop culture stuff.

 

And there we have it, a small sampling of what the hell happened in 2014. Thanks for reading. As always any and all comments are welcomed (within reason). Also stay tuned to my end of year reading report, coming up soon.

 

My goodness. Life has really been happening, which means I have not been able to keep up here. Among other things, over the summer, I took part in the Appalachian Tour the college I work for sponsors for faculty and staff (I will eventually post my blog posts about that experience. I can tell you that I learned a lot), and then the fall academic semester started. Once the semester started, it was warp speed. Life happened. So, for the next few posts, I will be catching up on my lists of books reviewed for the month. As noted before, these were the reviews I managed to put up over at The Itinerant Librarian in a given month. It does not reflect what I read, which is often more than what I list. Anyhow, feel free to check these reviews out, and if any of the books interest you, go check them out. If you do check out any of the books, let me know, leave a comment. I am always interested in seeing what other folks read. Links in book titles go to the reviews.

 

 

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