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YA Backlist: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Whatever happened to Steampunk? According to some sources, this subgenre of science fiction that incorporates industrial steam-powered machinery from the 19th-century in alternative histories was “over” in 2010. Others might say last year.

In this YA Backlist post, I’m taking a look back at Scott Westerfeld’s YA contribution to Steampunk, Leviathan. To be honest, this was one of three or so Steampunk novels I read – but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the subgenre or Westerfeld’s novel. I do always find something fascinating about a “what if” premise. Read More..

Don’t Forget the Bootleg Series

There’s no dearth of Bob Dylan’s music. Last year the septuagenarian nobel laureate singing  songwriting extraordinaire released yet another LP. That brings him to a total of 37 studio albums, 58 singles, 11 live “albums”—some of which, like the 32 disc The 1966 Live Recordings defy any conventional definition of the word album—another 31 compilation albums, and a whole mess of collaborations. And that’s not all, as any Dylanologist worth their salt will tell you, don’t forget TheBootleg Series. Read More..

Is a Book a Sandwich? Super Extra Grande Edition

Just over 100 miles separate The United States and Cuba. Yet, as history would have it, the two nations have carried on a messy and surprisingly limited relationship. Setting aside the geopolitics of the real world—for now—leaves us with a sadly restrained amount of cultural cross pollination. Stateside, Cuba’s strongest association is almost assuredly cigars, followed by pressed ham, pork, and Swiss cheese sandwiches, and in a distant third, there’s Ricky Ricardo, I’m guessing.

For as familiar and adoring as I am of Cuban sandwiches (let me emphasize: extremely), I had never read—or even knew of—any Cuban authors before this summer, which speaks to the unfortunate priorities of our cultural knowledge of our island neighbor. Great art can not be kept back for long, though, and a shiny new copy of Super Extra Grande fell into my hands one day as if it were fate. Read More..

The Stuff of Life: New Book Looks at Hoarding and Humanity

What compels a person to keep and collect every scrap of paper they come in contact with? Don’t we all have odd, sentimental collections – things we simply can’t part with, even though they have no practical use? What’s the difference between someone who collects and someone who hoards? Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee explore these issues in their book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. Read More..

The End

There is nothing more satisfying for me as a reader then reaching the end of a book that has a fist-pumping + “YAASS” ending. Read More..

Our New Friend Libby

It’s no secret how much I love Hoopla. I’ve been known to chat to anyone about it at the library and in my book clubs (and at the grocery store, the bar, the laundromat… pretty much anywhere.) It’s just so easy to use and I’m a bit of a give-upper when it comes to confusing technological processes. That’s why I was SO excited when I heard that Overdrive (something I shied away from in the past) released a brand new user-friendly app to use! Meet my new friend, Libby. Not only does Libby offer amazing audiobooks and ebooks for free with your library card, but it does it with a way more visually appealing and easy-to-navigate interface than before.

Because Hoopla offers content constantly without holds (yay!) it sometimes means that there are titles that aren’t available in that catalog yet (boo.) Libby, on the other hand, offers access to some of those hard-to-find hits, and the occasional holds list is usually super short (or nonexistent.) It also gives you the option of previewing audiobooks, whether or not they are immediately available, which is AWESOME for those of us who judge a book pretty quickly by its narrator.

If you’re tech savvier than I am, feel free to just head to your preferred app store and get going on Libby. If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a little walk-through for browsing for, checking out, and opening content…

Read More..

Reading Water, Hearing Trees

It’s Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday! In honor of the man who’s mostly famous for sitting by a pond, here’s a look at a few recent books that might be of interest – whether or not you choose to go to the woods, build a cabin, and live deliberately. Read More..

I See London, I See France

Is brevity the soul of wit, or just briefs?  I should have asked my 8th grade English teacher Mr. King, the seat of whose pants ripped wide open as he sprinted toward first base during our annual kids-versus-teachers softball game.

Like all great teachers, he was a master at problem-solving on the run: rather than hold up at first and face down scores of us 8th graders yucking it up at his expense, he never broke stride after he hit the bag, but made a beeline straight for the teacher’s parking lot, jumped in his car, and drove off. Read More..

Into the Woods: A Different Take on Beach Reads

When I was growing up, “going on vacation” was synonymous with “going to the beach.” Every summer, my parents loaded me and my brothers in our beat-up Ford Aerostar – books and Barbies in tow for yours truly – and trekked seven hours straight south from our house in Alabama to a condo in Florida, where we’d spend a week splashing in the pool and building sandcastles with our grandparents and cousins.

I know how fortunate we were to have access to vacations like that.  But growing up, even as I loved visiting our favorite beach haunts, I was also frustrated that we never took trips elsewhere. If my parents had vacation time, we went to the beach. The end.

I would love to say that I handled that preference with generosity of both spirit and manner, but alas, I was a human child, so instead I complained about it endlessly. Even today, when summer rolls around and I get the chance to do some traveling, I’m unlikely to head toward a coast. (I’m also so pale that I basically reflect the sun back on itself, but that’s neither here nor there.)

The result: I have a somewhat fraught relationship with so-called “beach reads.” Read More..

Summer Soundtracks

Ah summer.

Grown-up summer has a lot going against it. The days of three month summer vacation are long gone, and the electricity bill is higher than ever. The humidity leaves your shirt sticking to your back the moment you step outside, and getting into your car will cook you alive. The scent of chlorine is everywhere. But despite it all, I love summertime.

Part of that is the soundtrack.

Every year, starting in the late spring and going right through August, I do a little time travelling. Old friends like Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, and, of course, the “Fab Four” keep me constant company. A couple of classic seventies acts make appearances as well.

Is it the weather? Is it the image of hippy dippy types frolicking in the sun? I don’t know. There’s nothing to stop me from listening to these fellas year round, but for whatever reason they inevitably take over around now. It just makes sense!

Am I alone here? I got a handful of LPL audiophiles to share their summer soundtracks to find out. Read More..