Friday, January 30, 2015

Booknote: Black Prophetic Fire

Cornel West, with Christa Buschendorf, Black Prophetic Fire. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-8070-0352-7.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: African American studies, U.S. politics and history.
Format: print/hardcover
Source: My local public library.

The book is structured into six chapters. Each chapter is a conversation between Dr. Cornel West and scholar Dr. Christa Buschendorf. The book also includes an introduction and a conclusion, plus a set of notes and a list of works cited. West and Buschendorf six figures of the Black prophetic tradition. The figures discussed in the book are Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ida B. Wells, Malcolm X, and Ella Baker. Some of the battles they fought are over, but much inequality and struggle still remains. These were men and women of great merit, but they also had shortcomings, and our via their conversations, our two scholars provide context for them, showing how they remain relevant today. For some readers, they may desire to go back and read some of the works of these men and women. The authors show that we still need to read those works today and heed their lessons.

Note that due to discussions of current events, the conversations are arranged in the order in which they recorded them; the people are not presented in chronological order. Actually, this works well as it may give us a better appreciation of these historical figures and the lessons they offer us for today. As Buschendorf writes, these figures are relevant because they offer us analyses of power mechanisms so we may see the forms such structures take today; their reflections on organizing and mobilizing may provide insights to freedom fighters today, and they provide inspiration (9).

The book also highlights how you need to read past the "usual" texts of these men and women. These men and women evolved in their thinking, and their thinking and lives are more radical than we commonly see given how they get sanitized and/or reviled over time.

The book packs a lot, and it is a book that invites much reflection. Overall, there is a lot to learn and reflect upon. The book will also motivate folks to go back and read the writings of the historical figures featured. It is a book that left me wanting more, and that is always a good thing. Though naturally, you should read it at any time, this book is a good addition to reading lists for Black History Month.

I really liked it, so I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

* * *

My reading Notes: 

As West speaks of Frederick Douglass, I find fascinating how West ponders what books Douglass may have read or not to help shape his thinking. It is the kind of small detail that appeals to the reader and librarian in me. If you want to learn more about this, the chapter's notes in the book do expand a bit on those readings, which may have included William Cobbett, William Hazlitt, and John Ruskin among others. As I read, I am also interested in how West applies the idea of the organic intellectual to Douglass.

Douglass was not an academic, but he was certainly an intellectual. West defines the organic intellectual thus:

"An organic intellectual, in contrast to traditional intellectuals who often remain comfortably nested in the academy, attempts to be entrenched in and affiliated with organizations, associations, and possibly movements of grass-roots folks" (172). 

The idea goes back to Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci, who I vaguely recall reading when I studied literary and critical theory in graduate school. It may be time to reread a little Gramsci, say his Selections from the Prison Notebooks. On a side note, as I keep working here at Berea, I do note that much of what we do is shaping and encouraging organic intellectuals. Activism is a big thing here, for both students and faculty in a way that I have not seen in other institutions (including some where even hinting you might be an activist could get you fired). Working to grow as an organic intellectual is something that I can explore here.

How West defines a prophet:

". . . to be a prophet is not about predicting an outcome but rather to identify concrete evils. . . " (28).

West critiques President Obama. One reason is that Obama is identifying with Abraham Lincoln, but it is the "team of rivals" guy, not the  real Lincoln who very often was willing to compromise on slavery, much as Obama is often willing to compromise on things that, to be honest, one should not really be compromising on. Much like Lincoln had Douglass to pressure him, Obama needs such a figure to pressure him as well. As I look around, I am not sure such an equivalent figure exists today. West is one of the Black intellectuals who has dared to very publicly criticize President Obama, who sees as:

". . . someone who likes to be liked by everyone, and he likes to be able to create some kind of middle-ground synthesis that brings people together without really coming to terms with the deep conflicts" (33).

This discussion comes up during the conversation about Frederick Douglass who, like other Black prophetic figures, accepted that he would not be liked by everyone. When it came to power conceding, Douglass got it, but in West's eyes, Obama falls short. What Douglass understood:

". . . that you don't find truth in the middle of the road;  you find truth beneath the superficial, mediocre, mainstream dialogue, and the truth is buried, is hidden beneath that, and when you connect with that truth, you have to take a stand. When you take a stand, you're not going to be liked by everybody; people will try to crush you, people will try to lie on you, people will try to kill you" (33).

On Du Bois going through stages in his intellectual development. I can identify with this because as librarians the profession holds onto the illusion of neutrality and the idea that if we provide good information (something which by the way we don't always succeed at for a variety of reasons) then things will be OK. I've learned over time it is not as simple as that. West writes,

"I think in a certain sense the early Du Bois had a naive conception of evil-- evil as ignorance, evil as not knowing the facts-- as opposed to the later Du Bois, who saw evil being tied to interest, evil being tied to power and privilege within various social structures that have to be contested politically, organizationally, collectively" (45-46).

In further discussing Du Bois, West quotes him. The quote, which I will present below, is so relevant to today given all the recent events of police brutality against Black people and also given the recent release of a U.S. government report on the CIA's torture practices. Let's just cut to the chase and say the U.S. comes across as a bullying imperialist oppressor at home and abroad. The quote comes from Du Bois' essay "The Souls of Black Folk."

"It is curious to see America, the United States, looking on herself, first, as a sort of natural peacemaker, then as a moral protagonist in this terrible time. No nation is less fitted for this role. For two or more centuries America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred--making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike, -- rather a great a great religion, a world-war cry: Up white, down black; to your tents, O white folks, and world war with black and parti-colored mongrel beasts" (qtd. in 52). 

The man was clearly a prophet. I honestly wonder what he would say now if he was still alive. On further discussing Du Bois as a prophet, West speculates on the possibility that an American Gibbon will arise to document the rise and fall of the American Empire. I found the idea quite interesting. Du Bois certainly tried to warn the American people, but Americans are not exactly known for listening when they should. Maybe they really need to wait a long time and see if they get a Hari Seldon  instead. West argues:

"America slowly but surely moves toward a second-world, maybe even a third-world status, with ruins and relics of its great democratic past being completely trampled by the kind of neoliberal obsession with unregulated markets and indifference toward the poor and polarizing politics of scapegoating the most vulnerable" (55).

Moving on to look at Martin Luther King, Jr., a figure that is more radical than the sanitized version we get today. On this, West says,

"Part of the problem is, I think, the death of Martin in some sense signified that America was in deep need of a revolution. He used the language of revolution, the need of a revolution in priorities, revolution in values, the need for a transfer of power from oligarchs to the people" (68).

On Ella Baker and ideal activist:

"To Baker, the ideal activist was not the charismatic figure of the prophet who mobilizes the masses by mesmerizing speeches but an unassuming person who helps the suppressed the help themselves" (90). 

Ella Baker's legacy offers us lessons on organizing and empowering people. She also questioned the messianic model in leadership. On a side note, I think statements like the one above offer lessons as well to the profession of librarianship where messianism and rock star librarians are often the norm and what is actually recognized, but let's ponder that another time. As for this librarian, I tend to prefer the path of the poet, "con los pobres de la tierra/quiero yo mi suerte echar."

On another side note, and this is mentioned in the book, Baker also gave a speech in defense of Puerto Rican independence in Madison Square Garden in 1978 as part of being involved with the PRSO (Puerto Rican Solidarity Organization). The book has a press citation for the event, so this is something I may want to explore further (a preliminary search has yield very little, which is not surprising given this is a part of U.S. history most Americans could not care less about). Anyhow, this serves as a larger example how these prophetic voices spoke out against larger, broader issues like colonialism and imperialism.

This book qualifies for the following 2015 Reading Challenges:

Booknote: Wolverine Classic, Volume 4

Archie Goodwin, Wolverine Classic, Volume 4. New York: Marvel, 2006. ISBN: 0785120548.

Wolverine continues his solo adventures. This time he travels to a fictional small Latin American nation, Tierra Verde. Tierra Verde is ruled by Felix Guillermo Caridad, a tin pot dictator with delusions of grandeur. Caridad has Geist, an ex-Nazi scientist and cyborg, as an advisor. Geist is using a tainted form of cocaine to experiment on subjects in hopes of creating a national superhero for Caridad and Tierra Verde. Caridad is not expecting Wolverine nor local revolutionary leader and mutant La Bandera, whose ability is the power to inspire others and draw energy from them, to interfere.

This collection, written by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by John Byrne, collects issues 17-23 of the series. It's a take on U.S. interventions in Latin America; Caridad does enjoy some CIA support, so if you remember those days, you will appreciate the details in this story. The comic can seem a bit silly at times, or a little dated, but it is still good fun to read. It has a fast pace, and the colorful art is good as well. I liked this quick, entertaining read.

I am giving it 3 out 5 stars.

I borrowed this one from my local public library.

Signs the Economy is Bad: January 30, 2015 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.  

Welcome then to the first edition of 2015. As we end January of 2015, we see that it really sucks to be poor, especially if you like in the United States where, to be perfectly honest, anyone not poor does not really give a shit about the less fortunate. So let's get started.

  • The big headline this week, heck, I would say this month, is that "1 in 5 kids are using food stamps." People receiving food stamps, better known as the SNAP program, have gone up. However, government spending on the program has gone down. Can't imagine why. I mean, there is clearly more need. People clearly need help to put some food on the table. Naturally, Congress is on the case: "The spike in food stamp spending has caught the attention of Congress, and House Republicans tried to cut the program by around $4 billion a year in 2013." Because, hey, what's a few starving children? (Story via Equal Voice.)
  • By the way, the story above is based of a U.S. Census Bureau report. If you are interested, the actual report is here.
  • By the way, keeping up with the Joneses keeps getting more and more difficult. Turns out that "poverty is rising much faster in suburbs than cities" (story via Bill Moyers). According to the article, "Suburban communities are not equipped to deal with their rapidly rising poverty rates. As Elizabeth Kneebone, co-author of the Brookings report, told The Atlantic, 'Many of these communities lack the infrastructure, safety-net supports, and resources to address the needs of a growing poor population, which can make it that much harder for poor residents to connect to the kinds of opportunities that can help them get out of poverty in the long run.' Suburbs generally have poorer access to public transit and fewer social services than neighboring cities." That would not have anything to do with the fact those people chose to move out of cities to get away from city "blight" and now that distance (pardon, exclusivity) is now biting them in the ass, would it? But the reality is these folks were just as vulnerable, if not more so, as anybody else. Often, all it took was for a household member to lose a high paying job, and suddenly the poverty spiral happens. Once more the old adage seems to apply here: there but for the deity of choice, go I. 
  • A couple of additional items of interest via Bill Moyers' site: 
    • "5 Charts That Show How the Middle Class is Disappearing." And after a lot of them decided to vote GOP recently, they've just enabled that their disappearance could get here a lot faster.
    • If you are a kid in a public school, odds are decent you are poor since "over half of public school students are from low income families." And let's not even get started on things like white flight and the rich doing their best not only to send their kids to private schools but also make sure to not pay their fair shares to support public education. After all, as long as their kids are taken care of, who cares about the rest? And by the way, that is not the full story. Keep reading the article. You'll learn, for instance, that the U.S. is not doing so hot on things like child mortality rates neither. From the article: "The child mortality rate in the United States, seven of every 100,000 live births, is roughly double the average of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Our rate is in line with the Balkan states of Macedonia and Serbia/Herzegovina, poorer countries with less-developed health care systems."
  • One of the major problems for the poor is that they also get the shaft at tax time. The one-percenters barely pay taxes, if they even pay their fair share at all, while the poor get stuck with the big tax bills (story via In These Times).  And it is not just when you file your tax forms. According to the article, "researchers say the incongruity derives from state and local governments’ reliance on sales, excise and property taxes rather than on more progressively structured income taxes that increase rates on higher earnings." However, I am sure the more comfortable are reading this and say to themselves, so what? Here is the so what: "In September, Standard & Poor’s released a study showing that increasing economic inequality hurts economic growth and subsequently reduces public revenue." 
  • At the end of the day, it seems politicians and their rich donors see the poor and the middle class as pretty much interchangeable (story via FAIR blog). It is not just rhetoric. This does make a difference in policy and how politicians see working people, if they see them at all.
  • Let's keep bottom lining it. Income inequality in the U.S. has been getting worse. A recent "analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades." You can read the full report on "The Increasingly Unequal States of America" now via the Economic Policy Institute.  
  • However, we all know the "real" problem with the poor is they keep wanting stuff. Why the hell do working people want to have stuff in life? Damn selfish bastards. So says U.S. billionaire Jeff Greene: "People need to have less things in life" (story via Addicting Info). Mr. Greene took time off his very busy schedule to make that comment as he was landing on his private jet in Switzerland. Now for you peons, allow me to translate. What Mr. Greene really means is that you and I need to starve so he can afford his private jet and the other "things in life." By the way, how did this pompous airbag make his money? He "made much of his fortune after betting against all those sub-prime mortgage loans, then cashing in back in 2008 when the economy tanked and millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosures." Yea, he was a garden variety capitalist vulture making money off the misery of others. 
  • Now some people are indeed doing with less stuff. Many kids are certainly doing with less Barbies since Mattel just fired their CEO after the company sales of the doll have been going down. Story via The Week.
  • Now some folks may say that education is a way out of poverty. One would think then that perhaps societies and governments would want to invest in education. Well, not happening. In the U.S., at least 16 states invest more in prisons than than college housing (story via Addicting Info).  Yes, the U.S. prefers to house prisoners than college students. 
  • In the end, it's not all bad, or is it? Mobile home sales seem to be going up. However, the reality is the way they are sold and financed, in very exploitative and somewhat shady ways, are pretty much making prey out of the poor, especially in rural areas. Story via The Daily Yonder

Friday, January 23, 2015

Booknote: Wolverine Classic, Volume 2

Chris Claremont, Wolverine Classic, Volume 2. New York: Marvel, 2005. ISBN: 0785118772. 

This volume collects the five issue run written by Chris Claremont; it collects issues 6-10 of the run from the late 1980s. In this volume, the X-Men, including Wolverine, are presumed to be dead. I am not sure why; this is never made clear in the Wolverine comics, but I am guessing if you also read the X-Men comics of the time, you'd know the answer. That is not really a major issue for this volume where Claremont is setting up Wolverine's adventures in Madripoor. In Madripoor, Wolverine goes by the name of Patch (he is wearing an eye patch as part of hiding his identity). However, trouble has a way of finding Wolverine.

In this volume, Wolverine faces drug lord rivals, has a meeting with The Hulk (who amusingly enough is sort of a mob problem solver. Think Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction without being suave), and he recalls his first fight with his nemesis Sabretooth. This volume is a quick and easy read. It was pretty entertaining with colorful art in the somewhat gritty cartoon style of the 1980s. In the end, it was a volume that I liked.

I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

This is one I borrowed from my local public library.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Yes, I am a Reading Challenge Addict in 2015

The Reading Challenge blog runs an annual challenge to see how many reading challenges folks can do and complete. Since I signed up for a few this year, I figured I would add this in for fun and as way to keep me on track for the challenges I did sign up for. I don't have to read anything extra here. All I have to do is keep track of the challenges I signed up for and reflect on what I complete or not.

If you want to declare your addition, you can go here to the Reading Challenge Addict 2015 page:

Reading Challenge Addict

Not sure how that happened, but I signed up for nine reading challenges. Some of them are challenges I did last year that I am doing again this year. Others are new challenges for 2015.
I signed up for the following reading challenges for 2015. For convenience, I will make a challenges for 2015 page that will go on the blog's right column to keep it all inone place. Plus I will update the challenge posts with links as I read

So, how addicted am I? I am committing for the following level:

On the Roof: 6 to 10 challenges (entered and completed)

List of reading challenges I am doing in 2015:

Update note (12/31/15): All challenges were completed for 2015. See the 2015 challenges page for specific updates. 

Doing the 2015 LGBT Reading Challenge

This is the next to reading challenge I am picking for 2015 (unless some miracle happens and something easy to add the flows with what I am reading already comes along).

There are some reasons I am going to try this LGBT challenge. One, I would like to diversify my reading a bit. I am anticipating that some of the titles will be nonfiction about the LGBTQIA community and culture. In addition, I do have some erotica and a graphic novel or two with LGBTQIA elements on my TBR pile that I can read and count for this challenge.  Three, the first book we are reading on campus as part of the Dean's Faculty Group deals with LGBTQIA issues, so I will have the first book for the challenge listed and read soon. That book choice did inspire me to try out this challenge this year.

So, here we go:

Some of the rules:

  • "The challenge runs from 1 January through 31 December 2015"
  • "Like last year, each month there will be a mini challenge/theme/list/thingy" (Not sure how this will work yet, but I am interested to see what little extra challenges they add along the way. I've never done a reading challenge that features additional mini-challenges). 
  • "This year, there is no form/genre restriction (you can read whatever you want – young adult, new adult, adult, erotica, nonfiction, manga – as long as its LGBT)" (Good. That they allow all genres will help me. I do have some erotica and manga I may want to count for this challenge.)

For this challenge, I am committing to the following level:

GENRE HOPPER: read 3-10 LGBT books from any genre

I have to hop genres. The other option is YA (young adult), and I am not much of a young adult reader. I prefer my books grown up, so to speak.  Given the low end is three books, I think I can do that just fine. I will aim to read as many as I can, and if I do more than ten, I will upgrade.

As I am doing in my other reading challenges, I will add books to my reading list as I read them. When I post the review on the blog, I will add the link here.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Kevin L. Nadal, That's So Gay! Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community
  2. Mitzi Szereto, Darker Edge of Desire
  3. Adrian Brooks, The Right Side of History
  4. Bayard Rustin, Time on Two Crosses
  5. Jon Pressick, ed., Best Sex Writing of the Year, Volume 1.  

Update Note (9/23/15): At 5 books read and reviewed, the challenge can be considered complete. If I come across other books that qualify and can review them on time, I will add them. This has been an interesting challenge as I have had to actively seek out books that qualify, but it was well worth it. So far the books read were very good overall, especially the Pressick book that featured a variety of topics.

Can I read some fur and fangs this year? A reading challenge for 2015

This challenge I am doing just for fun now. Fur and fangs means werewolves (though according to the rules, other shifters can count) and vampires. Since I have some vampire books in the TBR pile, maybe I can read enough to be successful in this challenge. Reading from the TBR pile will allow me to cross them with the Mount TBR Challenge I am doing this year. Often, a lot of books in the fur and fangs field fall under paranormal romances. Yes, paranormal readers do like their shifters and vampires. By the way, this would also include stuff like the Twilight series. I am not likely to read those but if something slips in, hey, I am all about trying things at least once (not Twilight, we do need to have some standards of quality here). On a serious note, we'll see how it goes. Odds are good I will count a graphic novel or two, maybe even a manga, if it fits in the genre.

So, this is the challenge:

Some of the basic rules (you can click the link above to see the full information and to sign up if so moved):

  1. "This challenge will run from January 1st, 2015, until December 31st, 2015."
  2. "Books must be started on or after January 1st, 2015 to count."
  3. "Books can be any publication date and any genre, as long as at least the subject or one of the main characters is a vampire or werewolf." (I am betting much of my genre options here will be graphic novels, but we'll see).
  4. "Any other shifter with fur can also count. (i.e. cats, tigers, bears)." (Not sure I will find something with other shifters, but I will be on the lookout for something, at least for the fun factor).

As I usually do for challenges, I will list the books as I read them. When I post the review on the blog, I will add the link here as well. I am thinking this will be a challenge for me to have a little fun.

The goal is left open. The host say to "read as many werewolf and vampire books as you can." So, let's go low, and work our way up. I will commit to 5 to 10 books in this challenge. Naturally, we will upgrade if we do more. 

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 5
  2. Vic Malhotra, X-Files: Year Zero
  3. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 7.  
  4. Mitzi Szereto, Dark Edge of Desire.  
  5. Elaine Lee, Vamps.  
Update note: (12/31/15): I finished Vamps last week, and I got the review up today. With that book I complete the commitment, on the low end.  When I started this challenge, I figured it would not be difficult since I was also doing the Horror Reading Challenge, so finding stuff with vampires and other shifters would not be an issue, or so I thought. Well, turns out it was not so easy. I found enough horror works, but they did not always feature a vampire or other supernatural shifter. I picked up the challenge hoping to add some variety to my reading, and I will admit I barely made it this time. I may or not repeat the challenge next year if it is offered, mostly because there are one or two new challenges I would like to add for 2016, and I am not sure I can add them and do this one again. However, if I do decide to try again, I do have a couple of books on my TBR shelves that would fit, so I at least have one or two books to help me get started if I do get on this again. In the end, the challenge was completed successfully.

On a side note, I tried to do a check-in, but I cannot seem to find a "wrap up" post from the hosts (and I did search both the blogs that share the hosting), so I am not even sure they kept up with it. At any rate, I did complete it on my end.

Getting scary in 2015: a Horror Reading Challenge

I want to try this challenge because I do have some horror books on my shelf that are part of my TBR pile. Also, there are some things I already read that could fall under horror, so I can count those books as well for this challenge. I am not a huge horror reader, but I do enjoy the genre. I often read things that may not be formally classified as horror, but they have strong horror elements. At any rate, I think I can cross one or two items from other challenges to make this and add one or two more items to reach success and diversify my reading a bit this year.

So, without further ado:

Some of the basics:

  • "This challenge will run from January 1, 2015 - December 31, 2015, and you can join at anytime."
  • "Audiobooks, re-reads, short stories, and crossovers are fine." (I need all the help I can get). 

I am going low on this one in terms of commitment. As always, like in other challenges, if I read more, I will upgrade accordingly. So, I am committing to this level:

1-5 horror books: Running Scared

Clearly, if I read one, I am good, but I will try to do a bit more than that at least.  I will post my reading list as I read the books. I will link to reviews posted to the blog as I get them done.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 5
  2. Kennedy Xu, Daomu.
  3. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 7.  
  4. Mitzi Szereto, ed., Darker Edge of Desire.  
  5. Ryan Burton,, Dark Engine, Volume 1: The Art of Destruction
  6. Brian Keene, Castaways.  
  7. Steve Niles and Damien Worm, October Faction, Volume 1
  8.  Z. Rider, Insylum
  9. Corina Sara Bechko, Heathentown.  
  10. Elaine Lee, Vamps

Update Note: Initial challenge completed 9/23/15. As I have read 9 books, I am upgrading level to:

Brave Reader = 6-10 books read and reviewed.

With Halloween coming up, I think I can make it to 10 books.

Update Note (12/31/15): With Vamps, I complete the challenge upgrade in full of 10 books read. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Going to climb the mountain with the 2015 TBR Challenge.

I tried this challenge in 2013, and I failed. I took a break, and I tried others in 2014. My book addiction remains strong, and my shelves have a lot of books that are waiting to be read. In 2013, I read 9 books and reviewed 4 out of the 9. I am hoping I can do better this year and at least make it to the lowest level. What did me in back then was my way of serendipity when it comes to reading. However, much of what I have now in the TBR shelves in my work station at home are graphic novels and mangas. Since I am doing a graphic novels challenge this year, I hope I can do some crossing to help get me up the mountain. Yet I am also doing a library-related reading challenge this year, so hopefully I can maintain enough balance to borrow books and read my own as well.

So, here we go once more:

Some of the basics (you can click the link above for full details as well as to sign up if so moved):

  • "Challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2015."
  • "Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2015. No ARCs (none), no library books." (What this means for me is that I cannot use stuff from Netgalley or Edelweiss, nor library books. Thus I have to get stuff from my shelves).
  • "You may count 'Did Not Finish' books provided they meet your own standard for such things, you do not plan to ever finish it, and you move it off your mountain [give it away, sell it, etc OR remove it from your e-resources]. For example, my personal rule (unless it's a very short book) is to give a book at least 100 pages. If I decide I just can't finish it and won't ever, then off the mountain it goes and I count it as a victory--the stack is smaller!" (This may or not help me. I rarely abandon books. What I may do is skim, especially for nonfiction. Overall, if I got to the end of a book, even if I had to drag myself there or skip, hop, and jump to do it, I count the book as read. For books that were less than good, to put it mildy, they often do get donated or sold off, so in essence, they are removed from the mountain. We'll see how this goes this year). 

To keep it safe, I am committing to the lowest level:

Pike's Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s

As I noted, I got close last time, so I think this can be done. It amounts to one book a month. Naturally, if I manage to read and review more, I will upgrade the challenge. As I usually do, I will be adding books to the list as I read them, and I will add the links to reviews as I post them on the blog. 

List of books I read for this challenge:

  1.  Andrew Bohrer, The Best Shots You've Never Tried
  2. Juzo Tokoro, Spawn: Shadows of Spawn, Volume 2
  3. Juzo Tokoro, Spawn: Shadows of Spawn, Volume 3.  
  4. Bob Budiansky,, The Transformers Classics, Volume 4
  5. John Arcudi, The Mask.
  6. Various authors, Predator Omnibus, Volume 1
  7. Robert Kirkman, Battle Pope, Volume 1: Genesis
  8. Robert Kirkman, Battle Pope, Volume 2: Mayhem
  9. Jim Davis, Garfield Tips the Scales
  10. Zeb Wells, Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Year One
  11. Various authors, Star Trek: Alien Spotlight, Volume 1
  12. Elaine Lee, Vamps.  
Update note (12/31/15): With the Vamps volume, I managed to complete the basic commitment to this reading challenge.  Though I would have thought this would be an easy challenge for me since I have a lot of books on my TBR shelf, the reality is I have to remind myself to pick up something from my shelf once in a while. I tend to get caught up reading my NetGalley stuff, followed by stuff I read from the library, and then forget I am doing this as well. I tend to read as mood strikes me, and I often pick out books as I see them. Naturally, I read the NetGalley and library stuff first since they have time limits. And while I will keep reading from those sources, I will try to work a bit more on reading from my TBR shelf in the coming year.

The challenge was a nice way to keep me accountable and get me to read a few things from my shelves. Except for one book, they were all comics and graphic novels, which is fine by me. I do have a lot of those books on my TBR shelves. I did not do much in terms of checking in throughout the year for the challenge; I checked in early on, then sort of let it hang a while, and then got a second wind at the end of the year. I finished the last book, Vamps, last week, and I got the review up this week, so I cut it close. I will definitely do this challenge again next year as it is one that helps me read stuff I already got. I hope I can manage it better so I am not cutting it close at the end of the year. Thus, for 2015, this challenge was completed successfully.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Going to a long time ago in a galaxy far way with the 2015 Star Wars Reading Challenge

My four readers know that I am a Star Wars fan. If you must know, I am more of a fan of the original material than the hideous prequels (boy, were those painful to watch!). Thus when I found someone was doing a Star Wars reading challenge, I knew I had to add it in no matter how many other challenges I had running. This may be, however, the one challenge I have a hard time to complete. As much as I like Star Wars, I have read enough of its fiction to know that a lot of it is just not very good. Finding books for this challenge may not be easy, but I am trying anyways. Odds are good I may find more graphic novels than fiction works. The ones I have read have been from OK to very good. Let us hope The Force is with me on this one. So, without further ado:

The basics of the challenge seem pretty easy. Click on the link above for full details and to join in if you feel moved to do so.

  • "Challenge will run from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 and you can sign up at any time."
  • "All book formats count: ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks, comics, graphic novels and all books can be used for other challenges."

Since I am not too optimistic about what I may find in terms of books I want to read for this challenge, I am starting low. Not too low though. I am basing myself on the fact I read 5 Star Wars books in 2014. So, I am committing to the following level, with the option to upgrade as I go:

Jedi Padawan (6-10 books)

Let's see if we can beat last year's number by at least one. As I usually do with other challenges, I will be adding books to the list as I find and read them. I will add the links to the reviews as I post them on the blog.

May The Force Be With You.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return
  2. James Luceno, Star Wars: Tarkin
  3. W. Haden Blackman, Darth Vader and the Lost Command.
  4. Paul S. Kemp, Star Wars: Lords of the Sith
  5. Jeremy Barlow,, Star Wars, The Clone Wars: The Colossus of Destiny.
  6. Mike W. Barr,, Star Wars, The Clone Wars: The Starcrusher Trap

Update note (11/12/15): I completed this challenge with 6 books. It is on the low end, but it does complete the challenge I started out with. I am not a heavy Star Wars reader, but I will read a book here or there when it sounds interesting.  I thought this challenge would be a bit easier to do, but it turns out there just are not that many Star Wars books out there I find interesting enough over time. In addition, for some reason, the blog hosting this challenge went "private" after it was posted, so I have no idea how the challenge progressed for others so on. Still, since I had already committed to it, I carried on and completed it. If I see a similar challenge to this one from a more reputable place, I may try it out again, but otherwise I will just pick and choose what I am interested in for Star Wars books and read at my own pace.

Of course I am doing a library related book challenge

First, I am a librarian. Second, I am a librarian who reads. Third, a lot of the books I read come from libraries, either my workplace library or my local public library. So when I saw there was a library-related challenge happening, I had to take a look and try it out. Last year I read a bit over 50 books from libraries, so I think I can do OK on this. However, since I am balancing other reading challenges, I will play it safe. Anyhow, here we go.

The basics are as follows. Click on the link above for the full post and to sign up if so moved:

  • "Runs January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015. You can join any time."
  • "The goal is to read at least twelve (12) books from the library. Twelve should be easy, that’s one a month. While twelve is the minimum, there is no maximum limit. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you."
  • Also nice that you can cross books from other challenges, and any genre and format works. 

Based on what I know I can do, I think I can commit to the following level:

Overdrive Junkie: read 36 books

As I usually do, I will add books to the list as I read them. I will add the links to the reviews as I post the reviews on the blog.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1.  Diane Muldrow, Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book
  2. Jane and Michael Stern, Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food
  3. Cornel West, with Christa Buschendorf, Black Prophetic Fire
  4. Lawrence Osborne, The Wet and the Dry
  5. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 5
  6. Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, Being Dead Is No Excuse
  7. Henrik Lange, 90 Classic Books for People in a Hurry
  8. Caitlin Doughty, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
  9. Michael R. Veach, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
  10. James Luceno, Star Wars: Tarkin.
  11. W. Haden Blackman, Darth Vader and the Lost Command
  12. Fred W. Sauceman, Buttermilk and Bible Burgers
  13. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Radical King.
  14. Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestly, eds., Tales of Heresy (The Horus Heresy, Book 10).
  15. Jennifer S. Baker, The Readers' Advisory Guide to Historical Fiction.
  16. Steve McNiven and Charles Soule, Death of Wolverine
  17. Nelson A. Denis, War Against All Puerto Ricans.  
  18. Jim Davis, Garfield: The Big Cheese.
  19. Michael Bendis, Age of Ultron.
  20. Corina Sara Bechko, Heathentown.
  21. Fred Van Lente,;., Hulk: Season One.
  22. Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou, Deadman Wonderland, Volume 2.
  23. Brian Keene, Castaways.
  24. John Lewis,, March: Book Two.
  25. Mitch Broder, Discovering Vintage New York.
  26. Jim Davis, My Laughable Life with Garfield.
  27. Jim Davis: Garfield: 30 Years of Laughs and Lasagna. (scheduled for 12/18/15)
  28. Paul Kingsbury, Vinyl Hayride. (scheduled for 12/23/15)
  29. David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, The 12 Bottle Bar. (scheduled for 12/31/15)
  30. Tom Krattenmaker, The Evangelicals You Don't Know.  
  31. Matthew Algeo, Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure.  (scheduled for 11/13/15)
  32. Jim Davis, Garfield Takes His Licks.
  33. Jim Davis, Garfield Will Eat for Food.
  34. Jim Davis, Garfield Souped Up.
  35. Jim Davis, Garfield Goes to his Happy Place
  36. Jim Davis, Garfield Left Speechless
  37. Jeremy Barlow,, Star Wars, The Clone Wars: The Colossus of Destiny
  38. Mike W. Barr,, Star Wars, The Clone Wars: The Starcrusher Trap
  39. Kevin B. Eastman and Peter Laird, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 2

Update note (11/12/15): Challenge completed with 39 books read and reviewed. The remaining book reviews not linked yet are written and scheduled to appear on the blog by year's end. I will add the links as they go live. Reading library books was a fairly easy part. Writing up the reviews in a timely fashion not so much, but I have gotten a bit better at it this year. I do have some more library books I am currently reading, and I may add them to the list if time allows. Most of the library books for the challenge came from my local public library, but there are also some from my work library and one or two interlibrary loans. I will probably do the challenge next year if offered.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Joining the 2015 Nonfiction Reading Challenge

This is another reading challenge I did last year. I am always reading nonfiction because it is one of the ways I learn about the world. Sometimes I just get in the mood to read something that is, well, not fiction. So I am hopping on board to do this once more. Here we go:

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography

Here are some of the basics. You can click on the link above to get the full information on the challenge. You can also use the link to sign up if you feel up to it.

  • "The Challenge:  Read any non-fiction book(s), adult or young adult. That's it. You can choose anything. Memoirs? Yes. History? Yes. Travel? Yes. You get the idea? Absolutely anything that is classified as non-fiction counts for this challenge. "
  • This challenge will last from January 1 to December 31, 2015. You can sign up anytime throughout the year.
  • Crossovers are acceptable. 

Last year I played it safe. Though I did very well, I think I am going to play it safe this year. One never knows, and last year I did have a couple of bumps on the road, so I am giving myself some leeway. Thus I am committing to the following challenge level:

 Seeker--Read 11-15

One of the things I like about this challenge is that the host keeps it simple. There is just one single page to link up reviews. It means I can link them up as I post them at my own pace not having to worry over monthly deadlines or such.  If I surpass the initial goal, I will go ahead and upgrade to the next level.

As I usually do, I will add books to the list as I read them. I will also add the links to the reviews I write as I post them on the blog.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Jane and Michael Stern, Two for the Road
  2. Cornel West, with Christa Buschendorf, Black Prophetic Fire
  3. Lawrence Osborne, The Wet and the Dry
  4. Andrew Bohrer, The Best Shots You've Never Tried
  5. Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, Being Dead Is No Excuse
  6. Henrik Lange, 90 Classic Books for People in a Hurry
  7. Caitlin Doughty, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
  8. Kevin L. Nadal, That's So Gay! Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community.
  9. Michael R. Veach, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.
  10. Seth M. Holmes, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.
  11. Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, The China Collectors
  12. Fred W. Sauceman, Buttermilk and Bible Burgers.
  13.  Martin Luther King, Jr., The Radical King.
  14. Nelson A. Denis, War Against All Puerto Ricans.
  15.  Guy Lawson, Arms and the Dudes.
  16. Jon Pressick, ed., Best Sex Writing of the Year, Volume 1.
  17. Thomas Hodge, VHS Video Cover Art.
  18. Bayard Rustin, Time on Two Crosses.
  19. Adrian Brooks, The Right Side of History.

So, let's do this and happy reading.

Update note (9/23/15): Challenge completed at 19 books. This upgrades me to the Master Level (16-20 books). Though I have read and will continue to read other nonfiction selections in the year, I may or not get the reviews up on time, so I am wrapping this challenge up here now, satisfied I have done well. 

Joining the 8th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge for 2015

I am slowly but surely making the posts for the reading challenges I am undertaking for 2015. Graphic novels and manga are a big part of what I read, so doing this challenge makes sense for me and works with what I read already. I did it last year, and I was successful. Thus I figured I ought to do it again this year. Without further ado, here we have:

The rules are pretty much same as before. Here are the basics, and you can click on the link above the banner for further details and/or to sign up yourself if you are interested.

  • "What counts:  graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books. In print or digital. Anything else you feel is suitable.  My criteria is if it has either frames OR speech bubbles it counts.  I'm not going to be the comic police but if you are unsure, ask me in the comments any given month."
  • It "runs from Jan.1 - Dec. 31, 2015."
  • There were no restrictions on crossing challenges, which I always find helpful. 
  • I am committing to the same challenge level as last year, which is Bronze Level (read and review 24 books during the year). I did more than that last year, but as my four readers know, my issue is not reading the books. The challenge is getting reviews up in a timely fashion. Let's see if we can do better in this year. As I did before, if I surpass this level, I will upgrade. 
I will be adding books to the list as I read them throughout the year. I will also add the links to the reviews here as I complete and post the reviews in the blog.

List of books read and reviewed for this challenge:

  1. Matt Smith and Carl Critchlow, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi Division
  2. Chris Metzen, Transformers: Primacy
  3. Vic Malhotra, X-Files: Year Zero.
  4. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 5
  5. Kennedy Xu, Daomu
  6. Juzo Tokoro, Spawn: Shadows of Spawn, Volume 2
  7. Juzo Tokoro, Spawn: Shadows of Spawn, Volume 3
  8. Alex Ross,, The Six Million Dollar Man, Season 6
  9. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 7
  10. Henrik Lange, 90 Classic Books for People in a Hurry
  11. Ryan Burton,, Dark Engine, Volume 1.
  12. Erik Burnham,, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters.
  13. Paco Ignacio Taibo III, Pancho Villa Takes Zacatecas.
  14. Kevin Smith,, Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet
  15. W. Haden Blackman, et. al., Darth Vader and the Lost Command
  16. Various authors, Predator Omnibus, Volume 1.
  17. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Batman: Earth One, Volume 2.
  18. Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou, Deadman Wonderland, Volume 2.(scheduled soon)
  19. Steve McNiven and Charles Soule, Death of Wolverine. (scheduled soon)
  20. D.J. Kirkbride and Vassilis Gogtilas, The Bigger Bang
  21. Jim Zubkavich and Max Dunbar, Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate, Vol. 1.  
  22. Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, Jupiter's Legacy.
  23. Scott Snyder,, Batman, Volume 6: Graveyard Shift. 
  24. Becky Cloonan,, Gotham Academy, Volume 1.  
  25. Si Spencer,, Bodies. 
  26. Jeff Parker,, Flash Gordon Omnibus
  27. Tony S. Daniel,, Deathstroke, Volume 1.
  28. Francis Manapul and Brian Bucellato, Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 6.
  29. Tim Seeley,, Grayson, Volume 1
  30. Cameron Stewart,, Batgirl, Volume 1.
  31. Mark Millar, MPH
  32. Shane McCarthy, Transformers: Drift-Empire of Stone
  33. Michael Uslan, Justice, Inc.
  34. Robert Lazaro, Robert Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy
  35. Steve Niles and Damien Worm, October Faction, Volume 1.
  36.  Scott Snyder, Batman Eternal, Volume 2
  37. Mairghread Scott,, Transformers: Combiner Wars

 Have a great year, and happy reading folks.

Update Note: (10/4/15): Completed the initial commitment of Bronze Level (24 books read and reviewed). At this point, I have 37 read and 35 reviewed. I will keep adding until the end of the year, and I will upgrade if I make it. 

Booknote: Practice on Mountains

David Bartone, Practice on Mountains. Boise, ID: Ahsahta Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-934103-47-0.

This book did not impress me much. It is described as a book of self-searching that is not narcissistic. I actually found it to be the exact opposite as the author consistently refers to himself and his love pains. It is also described as having lyric discursiveness, but I found the free verse a bit mundane, going all over the place, and to be honest, it did get a bit boring after a while.

The book back cover tells us the book won the Sawtooth Poetry Award in 2013. I had to look that up because it did not ring any bells in terms of being a known award outside of fancy literary circles. Turns out it is a small award of $1500 given to a poetry book out of Ahsahta Press, based at Boise State University.

In the end, I found the book to be barely OK, which is why I gave it two stars, but I will say that I have read much better poetry by other writers. This book contains the kind of poetry your high end literary friends or your literature professors might pick to read. I do not see this as a book for most common readers. It's not hard to read or such. It's just not terribly interesting.

So, in the end, 2 out of 5 stars, but barely. I borrowed this one from my local public library.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

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,, Batman '66, Vol. 1. This was just good nostalgia fun.
  • Taran Killam,, 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,, 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,, 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,, 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.


  •  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


  • 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.


This includes fiction as well as nonfiction.


Other good stuff.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Joining the 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

I did this challenge last year, and I did pretty well. This is a challenge that works for me because I do read quite a bit from these services. Thus I am going to try again for this year.

So, here goes:

Falling For YA

Some of the basics:

  • The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015.
  • Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.
  • At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews. (This is where I tend to struggle a bit in doing these reading challenges. Reading the stuff is the easy part. Getting reviews up on the blog to then link up, not so easy. So I hope my reviewing on the blog becomes a bit more timely this year.)
  • If you forget to link up one month it's not a problem just add your reviews next month. (At least they do give me this flexibility. 

Click on the link to see the full post and rules, plus to sign up if you want to try it out as well. If your e-reader is a bit full of electronic ARCs and review copies from these services, this may be the challenge for you as well. 

I am declaring that I am going with the Silver Level which equals 25 books

I am playing it safe again this year. Last year I committed to Silver Level. I did surpass it, but I did not quite make it to the next level. I did read more, but I only managed to get so many reviews posted (the challenge counts based on what you review and post). Naturally, if I read and review enough to make it the next level, I can upgrade my challenge level.

As for the list of books read, as I have done before, I will add them as I read them. I will then add the link to my review on the blog as they are published on the blog.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1.  Matt Smith and Carl Critchlow, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi Division
  2. Chris Metzen, Transformers: Primacy
  3. Vic Malhotra, X-Files: Year Zero
  4. Kennedy Xu, Daomu.  
  5. Alex Ross,, The Six Million Dollar Man, Season 6
  6. Scott Snyder, American Vampire, Volume 7
  7. Ryan Burton,, Dark Engine, Volume 1
  8. Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, The China Collectors.
  9. Paco Ignacio Taibo III, Pancho Villa Takes Zacatecas
  10. Carlton Mellick III, ClownFellas.
  11. Kevin Smith,, Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet.  
  12. Erik Burnham,, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 
  13. Paul. S. Kemp, Star Wars: Lords of the Sith.  
  14. D.J. Kirkbride and Vassilis Gogtilas, The Bigger Bang
  15. Jim Zubkavich and Max Dunbar, Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate, Vol. 1.  
  16. Jimmy Palmiotti,, Harley Quinn, Volume 2: Power Outage. (scheduled soon)
  17. Shawn Kittelsen,, Mortal Kombat X: Blood Ties. (scheduled soon)
  18. Brian Lynch, Monster Motors. (scheduled soon)
  19. Shane McCarthy, Transformers: Drift--Empire of Stone
  20. Rob Anderson,, Creature Cops: Special Varmint Unit. (scheduled soon)
  21. Mark Millar, Jupiter's Legacy
  22. Scott Snyder, Batman, Volume 6: Graveyard Shift
  23. Guy Lawson, Arms and the Dudes
  24. Becky Cloonan,, Gotham Academy, Volume 1
  25. Si Spencer, Bodies
  26. Thomas Hodge, VHS Video Cover Art
  27. Jeff Parker,, Flash Gordon Omnibus
  28. Tony S. Daniel,, Deathstroke, Volume 1.
  29. Francis Manapul and Brian Bucellato, Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 6.
  30. Tim Seeley,, Grayson, Volume 1.
  31. Cameron Stewart,, Batgirl, Volume 1.
  32. Mark Millar, MPH.
  33. Michael Uslan, Justice, Inc.
  34. Rebecca M. Herzig, Plucked.
  35. Robert Lazaro, Robert Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy.
  36. Steve Niles and Damien Worm, October Faction, Volume 1.
  37. Z. Rider, Insylum.
  38. Scott Snyder,, Batman Eternal, Volume 2.
  39. Mairghread Scott,, Transformers: Combiner Wars.

Have a great year and happy reading folks!

Update note (10/2/15): Initial challenge completed with 35 books read and reviewed as of this date (39 read total, 35 read and reviewed with the other four scheduled to publish later).  As I read more, I will keep adding. I am not upgrading to the next level just yet. While I think I can get 11 more books read to make it to 50 (Gold Level), I am not sure I can get the reviews up on time by end of the year. We'll see. However, officially, the initial commitment has been completed.