Friday, March 16, 2018

Best books I read in 2017

The best books I read in 2017. (They do not have to be published/released in 2017. I just have to have read them) 

I have wanted to post this list for a while, but time and life tend to get in the way. This is a list  of what I consider the best books I read in 2017. These books may or not have been published in 2017. They are books I read last year that I rated highly, and I think folks out there may want to consider reading as well. Links go to my reviews of the books.

Thrawn (Star Wars). Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the very popular non-canonical (as in not in the movies. . . yet) characters in Star Wars. This is his origin story, and it is a great read.

LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy. A photographer takes Star Wars LEGO figures and toys and puts them in new, often amusing poses, then takes pictures of them. If you like LEGOs, and/or photography, this is a fun book to look at.

Live Through This. Clay Cane's memoir of growing up as a gay black man in the U.S. touching on society, culture, religion, race, among other topics. Very moving book.

Tears We Cannot Stop. This is Michael Eric Dyson's "Sermon to White America," and boy do white Americans need to read this and take it to heart.

Kitchen Table Tarot. Another great Tarot book. I liked its casual style and home style approach.

Ghostland. A great book about haunted places in the United States and how people experience the haunted and paranormal. You get a bit of culture, history, and trivia in this book.

Bringing the Tarot to Life. This book combines theater and writing prompts with Tarot for an interesting experience in reading and working with the cards.

The Marseille Tarot Revealed. For learning Marseilles-style Tarot, this is a very good book. I have received as gifts two Marseilles decks. They are not my preference (I do not tend to like pip-only decks), but they were special gifts, so I am determined to learn the system, and this book is a good option for that.

The Thousand Dollar Dinner. This book was one of the good reading pleasures I got in 2017. Before cooking competitions and celebrity chefs became television and media staples, we had this event.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Media Notes: Roundup for February 2018

These are the movies and series on DVD I watched during February 2018.

Movies and films:

  • Assassin's Creed (2016). This is an adaptation of the video game series. Parts of it look good, but it is a seriously bad, overdone clusterfuck of a plot. Callum Lynch is a direct descendant of Aguilar, an assassin from the 15th century part of an order in conflict with the Templars, who are the tyrannical villains. Advanced technology allows him to tap the memories of his past and become an assassin in modern times to take on the Templars and find a key artifact (the Apple of Eden) that the Templars want to use to destroy free will. It is as ridiculous as it sounds; when they do find the artifact, it is even more ridiculous. An effing librarian could have probably done it. If this film had maybe stayed in the 15th century and made some kind of adventure, it might have worked but the back and forth was messy. The plot was slow and a drag, even the fight scenes were slow.  I can see why this was not successful overall with poor reviews. Even hardcore fans of the game will be disappointed in this mess. 
  • Dunkirk (2017). I wanted to like this movie more, but it was just a seriously slow piece. While I appreciate the various perspectives, it was just a slow movie to watch. Honestly, I do not see what critics out there see when they rave about it because this movie just lacked anything to really draw viewers in. You are better off just reading a book about Dunkirk if you want the dramatic and compelling story. This event was one of the British people's finest hours, but you do not get that sense here. Overall, an underwhelming and forgettable film. I am definitely glad I did not spend money to watch this in a movie theater. 
  • The Midnight Horror Collection: Road Trip to Hell (2010. 4 movies DVD collection). The library had this DVD, and I got curious. It is part of Echo Entertainment series of DVD collections with specific themes, such as road trips for this one. I looked and there are other collections for things like slashers and voodoo. Based on this selection, not quite sure if I will keep looking for others. In the end, I only watched the one movie of the set. Since that one, noted below, did not make a good impression, I returned the DVD back for now. I may or not give it a second attempt later.
    • The Craving (2008). The movie description: "A group of college students embarking on a cross country road trip to the Burning Man Festival find themselves stranded in desert. Come nightfall a vicious predatory monster comes out. . .". This movie is basically an illustration of all the stupid shit horny college students can possibly do in a horror film to get themselves killed by whatever creature/threat/danger of the moment is out there to get them in the middle of nowhere. Traveling in the desert? Check. Getting lost when they get off the main highway? Check. Lacking ability to do basic things like read a map? Check. Creepy dude in a shack in the middle of nowhere who it turns out lures victims for the creature? Check. And why does he do it? To get a high off the creature's smell of all things. Slow pacing. Some teasing sex scenes early but nothing to write home about, and overall fairly boring film where nothing really happens until about 50 minutes into the hour and 30 minutes film. The ending was not surprising neither (the movie pretty much telegraphed it). Overall, you can skip this one.

Television and other series:

  • Inspector Lewis (Pilot through Series 6, 2005-2009; Amazon link for reference). This is the spin-off of the Inspector Morse series.  After Morse's death at the end of that series, Lewis continues on as a detective. He now has a promotion to inspector, but life is not easy for him, and crime never rests in Oxford. He has a new partner, Detective Sergeant Hathaway. This month I managed to watch the first half of the set, which goes up to the middle of Series 3. Some brief comments on some of the episodes:
    • The Series Pilot episode sets the series. Seems the authors wanted to throw every tragedy they could on Lewis. Not only did Morse die, but it turns out Lewis' wife dies from a hit and run, so he is a widower now (and let's bet we find out who the killer was later in the series kind of thing). He returns to Oxford after a two-years leave working training cops in the British Virgin Islands. And right away, he is thrown into a case. Meanwhile, his new boss would rather he take a job teaching young cops, but Lewis for now is having none of that. 
    • Whom the Gods Would Destroy. A tale of murder involving four college buddies who form a secret society around the Greek god Dionysus. When they start being killed one at a time, it falls to Lewis and Hathaway to find out why. I enjoyed all the Greek myth references, and I admit it had me going since the culprit turned out to be someone I did not expect right away. A good episode overall. 
    • Music To Die For. This was a trip back in time to the 1980s and the Cold War as what seems a lover's triangle turns into a tale of East Germany and Stasi informants. It was interesting and nicely set up. We also get quite a bit of Wagner's music.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Booknote: Librarians With Spines

Yago S. Cura and Max Macias, Librarians with Spines: Information Agitators in an Age of Stagnation. Los Angeles, CA: HINCHAS Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780984539888.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: library and information science (LIS), essays, activism, librarianship
Format: paperback
Source: print copy from editors provided in exchange for honest review 

This book is a collection of essays from librarians doing a variety of things in the field. We get a look at activities and voices that we rarely see or hear within the "polite" circles of librarianship. This  is a book that more librarians need to be reading so they can break out of the usual milquetoast practice and perhaps even free themselves of the illusion that our profession is neutral, an illusion that can be particularly dangerous in these "Hard Times."

The book is arranged as follows:

  • A short preface
  • Two short introductions by the book's editors
  • Nine essays
  • A short conclusion
  • A list of the references from the essays
Editor Yago S. Cura notes in his introduction that this book was a private endeavor. The editors used donated money to fund its publication and published it as  "private information professional citizens" (vii). This frees them to publish items of interest without corporate restrictions. The book also shows that there are good, radical librarians of all colors doing great work in their communities, making a difference very often one patron at a time. These are not librarians likely to get named "Movers and Shakers" or receive "major" accolades that come and go and are often nothing more than a resume line. These are stories of hard working librarians in the field doing some good. They do what they can very often with what little they have. They are the kind of librarian I aspire to be.

The book covers a good variety of topics ranging from LIS education to youth services to graphic  novels and zines. Personally, I found the essay by Mary Rayme on prison librarianship interesting largely because I see little on that topic in the library literature; she also does a good job to demystify the work a prison librarian does, and she humanizes her patrons as well. In terms of style and presentation, the essays vary from informal to academic. Essays mainly look at librarians in their work, but we also get a look at LIS education as well as a look at our professional organizations. When you put it together, for a small book as this, the editors cast a very wide net in their quest to show the many colors and diversity in librarianship. In doing so, the editors challenge us to ask ourselves: who do we serve? who are we really working for? why do we become and continue to be librarians?

Overall, library schools need to buy copies to hand out to their incoming students. Just like some colleges do that "freshman common reading" thing, maybe this book becomes a common reading for incoming library school students. In a time when much of library literature is just pretentious, overwrought, often too theoretical, and  barely read, and mostly colorless, the editors here offer a solid collection representing librarians of colors presenting their work, showcasing what works or not in an accessible way. I am glad to have read it, and I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5 stars

* * * * * 

Additional reading notes. I took a lot of notes while reading this book. I am not including them all here in order to keep this blog post at a manageable level. As always, the review part is already done. You can stop or keep reading as you wish:

Why the editors published the book:

"Max Macias and I are primarily publishing this book to highlight the thoughtful, innovative work so many radical librarians are doing across the country. You know who you are. We see the work you concoct, day in-day  out, at your information laboratories" (vi). 

They also published it to remind us all why we really do what we do. They also define what is a librarian with a spine:

"A librarian with  a spine is a resourceful, buoyant information professional that feels an obligation to the community they serve and, so, they act with that community's best interests in mind when they create programs, events, and initiatives" (viii). 

Anthony Bishop on the issue of diversity at library conferences. This is something I have certainly witnessed and experienced. This is especially applicable at so-called "diversity" conferences:

"I find the same types of librarians attend these conferences: low-level librarians with little or not authority to affect change and in turn the conferences become large venting sessions where great ideas are discussed but no real action can come out of it" (14). 

Bishop goes on to point out that he has no fear of reprisal in being brave, but we have to be honest, realistic, and sympathetic to those who fear job loss or other reprisal if they speak up. Librarianship is a very small world, and if you get labeled as a "trouble maker" (or as having as "bad attitude" if you speak up a bit too "aggressively" to the powers that be), retaining and/or keeping employment can be an issue. I am personally in a bit of a better situation now (though perhaps not by much), but I have been in the boat of "you can speak up and be all activist" or you can stay employed and put food on the table. I tend to like not starving, and so does the family I provide for. The point is that as idealistic as many want to be, risk can be very real, and those of us who can need to speak and act for those who cannot, and we need to work for the day when we can all do and speak what is right freely.

A reminder from Lopez and Winslow:

"Librarians of color have an obligation to mentor young librarians early and often" (78). 

And as tiring as it can get, we have to mentor cross-racially as well.

A simple definition of "critlib":

"Critlib, or critical librarianship, is the discussion and application of social justice in the library field" (Branum quoted  in 84). 

Critlib does need to include library managers, and those managers do have to be willing to stick their necks out. Personally, if there is one lesson I learned from library managers in my life, especially the bad ones, is that you need to be ready and willing to "take the bullet" for your subordinates if need be. Your job is to make sure they can do best job they can, support them to the best of your ability and provide them the resources they need, and stay the hell out of the way so they can do the work. And when higher ups somehow try to muck things up, as they often do, your job as manager is to run interference and keep those mucking higher ups out of the way. You step in, and you do not simply expect those with the most to lose to do all the work.

In this regard, as supervisor, I am often guided by this quote attributed to General George S. Patton, Jr. of all people:  

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
Then again, one of my personal mantras is also attributed to General Patton (which I think more librarians with spines need to use too):

"We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way."

Finally for these notes, why neutrality is not an option for decent librarians:

"The act of neutrality is the act of siding with  the status quo and refusing to be an ally. For librarians of conscience, neutrality is not an option" (Branum quoted in 91). 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Reading about the reading life: February 23, 2018 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Reading about the reading life" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I collect stories about reading and the reading life. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary. As with other features I do on this blog, I do it when I have time or feel like it. Comments are always welcome (within reason). 


I found some interesting things since the previous edition, so let's have a look. 

  • A new look at Mario Vargas Llosa. The guy is 81, and he is still writing on. Via The New York Times
  • Also via The New York Times, a look at the Hyman Archive in London, considered the largest archive of magazines in the world, at least according to Guinness. 
  • You know we live in seriously shitty and rude times when a newspaper has to publish a list of etiquette books. Via The New York Times
  • In Idaho, they recreated a book brigade to move books from one building to another. Via The Idaho Press-Tribune.
  • At Lecturalia (Spanish language article), a look at the detectives that gave form to Hercule Poirot. 
  • The Associated Press had recently yet another of those "OMG. Libraries are taking old books out" articles. It's called weeding people, and healthy libraries need to do it every so often. 
  • Book Riot featured a nice profile of erotica editor and writer Rachel Kramer Bussel. If you want to read good erotica, forget that shady stuff and pick up some of her work instead. 
  • The big honcho of some fancy high fallutin' publishing house recently said that e-books are stupid. That is it. Put those damn tablets down, you whippersnappers. Via The Guardian.
  • Via The Conversation, how P.T. Barnum may have paved the way for the Pendejo In Chief. Part of this is in light of the recent Barnum biopic, but historically speaking Americans are notorious for embracing all kinds of showmen, con men, snake oil men, so on. Article also highlights a new book on the history of deception that I am thinking of adding to my TBR list. 
  • I just found this interesting overall. A look at how American (US) funerary rites may be changing. The book connection comes in part because the article mentions Mitford's The American Way of Death. Via The Conversation. For a more recent look at the death industry in the U.S, I would also recommend Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, which I have read and reviewed.

Booknote: The Liberal Redneck Manifesto

Trae Crowder,, The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin' Dixie out of the Dark. New York: Atria Books, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-5011-6033-7.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: humor, rednecks, US Southern Culture, politics, liberals
Format: hardcover
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

Like many out there, I thought that redneck and liberal was an oxymoron, but Trae Crowder and friends show the concept is possible. Crowder, Forrester, and Morgan set out to show that a redneck can be a liberal, and in the process, they lay out some much  needed, even a bit harsh, truths for their redneck brethren. They don't totally destroy Southern stereotypes (let's be honest: the South HAS worked hard for that bad reputation), but they take steps to show how they can be changed. They write with humor, compassion, and some good knowledge. The book is worth reading because the South has a lot of ugliness and shameful things, but they also have a lot of good and things of pride.

The book is arranged into 12 chapters, and it covers a broad range of topics from food to mamaws and papaws to music to booze and pills. We see the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. In addition to the regular content, each chapter may have some light footnotes, asides, and each other does "porch talks," where they expound on some topic close to their hearts. This is a serious book, but there is plenty of humor throughout, and there are a few moving moments as well. The authors are on a mission to educate rednecks but yankees we well.

The book is a pretty easy read; it has a light pace, so you can read it pretty quickly. Do not be fooled. It may be humor, but the authors give you plenty to think about. I'll add that instead of some stuffy academic treatise on race and class, our faculty book club here might consider picking this up and chilling out a bit. Overall, the book was a very good read.

4 out of 5 stars.

* * * * * 

Additional reading notes. This book had a lot of good lines I wanted to jot down. This is just a small sampling:

On the claim the Mr. Crowder is not unique (I admit that I have a hard time believing it given where I live now, but I am willing to listen. In the meantime, those plenty others, what the hell are they waiting for to rise and be counted?):

"Because that's another thing: I am not some redneck unicorn. I'm not special. There are plenty of liberal-thinking, intelligent country folk out here, and we're tired of people either not knowing or not caring that we're down here, trying to fight against the ignorance and the hate and doing it from the front lines, by God. It's time we made our presence known" (3).

Part of Crowder's motivation for writing the book. And while I get it, he has his work cut out for him and  his team given how the South consistently votes for the worst this country offers. Keep in mind this book came out in 2016, just before the Pendejo In Chief got elected, in large part by those same rednecks. I wonder how the authors would answer to that, and it better not be another "aw, we need to  understand those poor white people"  piece like the many we have seen in the press already.

Part of why the South, rightfully so, deserves the reputation it gets:

" At the same time that people were plagued by these economic issues, white Southerners just could not stop being buttholes. It's something we continue to struggle with. Race relations were. . . not ideal during the postwar years, with white Southerners constantly trying to pass new laws that would effectively treat free blacks the same as they were treated as slaves. Black Southerners, shockingly, were not altogether down with that. This led to constant tension and racial strife (and some pretty sweet music), often erupting in violence. Take all these factors together, and you have a region that's going through some pretty serious shit, and the simple fact is that the South has never fully recovered to this day" (40).

Maybe step one is stop being racist buttholes. But we also have to consider how wealthy upper class whites enabled this, getting poor whites to look down on blacks, mainly for easier exploitation of both groups. It's both about race and class. (This is a point made very clear also in the book White Trash, which I recently read, and I will review soon). Having said that, yes, time to drop the racist bullshit overt and subtle.

On religion and Jesus, which the authors describe as a "salve for the destitute:"

"The point is that sending a message to  people mired in poverty to just give up (and let God take care of  it) is counterproductive at best and dangerous at worst" (52).

Another reason religion is so bad is it leads Southerners to keep voting against themselves. If you ever wonder why those people consistently vote for Right Wing politicians who prey on the poor, you will find that their religion plays a big part, and those politicians know it. So why do they vote as they do?

"Well, because of Jesus. That's why. It may seem like an oversimplification, but that's about the size of it, really. Sometime in the mid-twentieth century, the right wing initiated the frankly brilliant strategy of anointing itself the Party of the Lord. And it worked. Republicans now claim to represent the moral high ground, 'family values,' a 'traditional way of life,' and all that bullshit. Poor people hear these assholes spouting the same kinds of things that they hear their pastor spouting on Sundays, and bam, there you have it. Votes cast and fates sealed, just like that. And when you look at it this way, maybe the Lord is more harmful to poor people than the bottle" (61). 

This is exemplified recently in how the Pendejo In Chief got the evangelical vote, not to mention so many Christians defending politicians like Alabama's pedophile judge Roy Moore (who barely was not voted in, but it was mostly because black women in the state worked to keep him out. Most whites were fine with him). Religion really can be lethal. So, what is the suggested solution?

"Put down the Bible for a minute and pick up some different books. That would be a pretty good start. That and stop buying scratch-offs" (63). 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Deck Review: Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night

Barbara Moore and Davide Corsi (artist), The Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 2009. ISBN: 978-0738719290.

Note: Published by Lo Scarabeo (link), but distributed in the U.S. by Llewellyn (link)

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: Tarot, divination, vampires, Gothic horror
Format: Deck of Tarot cards in tuck box with little white book
Source: I bought and own this one 

This is the Tarot deck I have been using for the last two Halloween seasons, so I figure this is as good a time as any to write a review for it.

The deck comes in a tuck box that includes the 78 cards and a little white book (LWB). It is published by Lo Scarabeo (distributed in the United States by Llewellyn Worldwide), so the LWB as is common for Lo Scarabeo decks is written in five languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, and German). The actual content in the LWB is 12 small pages. This content includes a description of the deck and artist statement, a brief overview of the vampire myth, and the meanings for the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards. The booklet ends with a spread to try out: The Cross. Card meanings are basic; you get a keyword for each card and then two or three sentences to explain the meaning.

Overall, the meanings are close to Rider Waite Smith (RWS). The booklet states that the deck was created "in total respect to traditional meanings" (3). The deck does stay close to tradition (meaning RWS), but there are some differences in meanings and card depictions. These differences are noticeable, but they do not detract from being able to read the cards on this deck. I'd say at times the differences can make things interesting and/or give you a different appreciation of a specific card, a different way of looking at the card.

The cards are fully illustrated in the Major and Minor Arcanas. The art is computer generated, yet it captures a Gothic horror world of night with a touch of romance. It may be a world of night, but it can still be pretty colorful. In terms of characters, we see vampires male and female, young and old, in human and more vampiric form take center stage. In addition, there are some werewolves, wolves, bats, and a few humans treading this dark world.

The cards do have borders, which is not an issue for me. The images are framed in a grey frame. The Minor Arcana cards have an Arabic numeral and symbol of the suit on top and bottom of the image respectively; court cards have a symbol on top to identify knave (page), knight, queen, and king. The Minor Arcana Cards also have a color code on top and bottom of the card: wands are red, pentacles are green, chalices (cups) are blue, and swords are yellow. The Major Arcana cards are identified by Roman numeral and grey color code; they do not have names on the cards.

As I have mentioned, this is a deck I have been using on Halloween season. For me, it reads well, and it even tricks me a bit once in a while. I had someone suggest to me once this deck can be useful for business and similar type of questions. I have to agree. The vampires' cold nature lends itself to looking at things in terms of just numbers, figures, and transactions. Cards like The Emperor, King of Pentacles, King of Wands, Queen of Swords, and Death are examples that speak to work and business in this deck. I think if you need a little workplace guidance, this deck may work well for you. It h as a bit of a Machiavellian element to it.

Overall, I really like this deck. It captures the Gothic vampire scene well with good art and range of expression. As I noted, some meanings and images veer away from strict traditional RWS, so it may not be a good deck for beginners trying to learn traditional RWS. However, if you have a little experience, you will likely appreciate the differences and make new connections in reading the cards. Personally, comparing where this deck differs with the more traditional meanings is an interesting exercise for me; often I find meanings are not that far apart, or this deck just gives me a new way to look at a card.

Tarot readers and collectors who like Gothic horror and vampires will likely enjoy this deck. This is one I plan to keep using and enjoying for years to come.

4 out of 5 stars.

On a final side note, I understand there was a previous edition which included a companion book (same cards). That book is long out of print, and these days you can only pretty much find the deck. 

Below are some of my favorite cards from the deck, with a bit of commentary. These are photos I took personally of my deck:

This is the card backing.

The Death- XIII card. This is a favorite depiction given its thoughtful demeanor.

Four of Pentacles.

The Hierophant-V

Justice-XI. This is a card I always look at when getting a new deck. It  is one of the cards in Tarot I identify with.

King of Wands

Queen of Swords

The Hermit-IX. Now some people gripe this card is too close to that one Dracula in that one movie, but I really like this art. He looks isolated, pensive, and staring out into the  horizon with some deep thought. The Hermit is pretty much my personal card.

Media Notes: Roundup for January 2018

These are the movies and series on DVD that I watched for January 2018.

Movies and films:

  • Hitman: Agent 47 (2015). I still have a soft spot for the 2007 film, but this one was pretty good. I think this one catches the essence of the video game a bit better.  It is a decent and entertaining action film. 
  • The LEGO Batman Movie (2017). After watching the LEGO Movie, I knew I wanted to watch this one. If you like LEGOs,  you will probably like this one where Batman is a loner who needs to learn to work with others once in a while. Nice, light humor. 
  • LEGO Batman: The Movie--DC Heroes Unite (2013). Turns out this came out before the one above. I slightly liked this one better in part because they basically took a lot of the elements of the 1980s films, including the soundtrack. So for me, it was entertaining and a bit of nostalgia. My only issue is that the other superheroes are not really seen much in the film until close to the end. 
  • The Equalizer (2014). This is another entry in the genre I call "badass guy, and it is usually a guy, who for whatever reason has retired or left their profession and wants to be in peace. However, something happens, either the bad guys mess with him or he sees some injustice he can't stand and needs to act." It sounds like vigilante, but not always the case. At any rate, this reimagining of the television series works well enough for an action flick, and naturally Denzel plays McCall well.  The film was a bit slow at the start, but once it got going you knew how it had to end. It was alright. 
  • Dracula Untold (2014). This was a little gem I found at the library I had not heard of. Before Dracula became the vampire we all know, he was Vlad III, and he was a just and fair prince striving to keep his people safe. When his kingdom is threatened by the Turks, he finds that the only way to beat them may be to make a deal to become a monster. The movie was pretty good overall. I did like the set up of the vampire lore in it, and I admit the ending left me wanting more, wondering what may be next.  
  • The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017). This was totally fun and cute. I think this is a good movie for kids and families. Lloyd is secretly the green ninja; he also happens to be the son of the villain who keeps trying to conquer the city of Ninjago for himself. Lloyd and the other ninjas come together to make things right. Jackie Chan plays the voice of wise (and wiseass) Master Wu, their sensei. I really enjoyed this one, and it left me smiling. 
  • The Revenant (2015). Holy shit, this movie had intense moments. The infamous bear scene is quite intense and gruesome. However, that may be the least of the torments and travails that Hugh Glass goes through to get his revenge after that bear mauling and finding himself abandoned by his hunting party. The movie was a good drama, but it was a bit long and stretched at times. Just when you think he can catch a small break, more shit breaks out. DiCaprio does deliver a heck of a performance. Still, for me, one of those movies you watch once to say you watched it and move on.

Television and other series:

  • Hatfields and McCoys (2012). This is the mini-series that History Channel featured with Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the patriarchs of the feuding families. It is well made. It is also close to four and a half hours long, and much like the real feud, about halfway into the film you literally forget why the hell they are feuding in the first place. As the story takes place in the border between Kentucky and West Virginia, the film does have a bit of local interest for folks here in Eastern Kentucky. I liked it, and I do recommend it. Other actors in this include Powers Boothe, who portrays Judge Hatfield, and Tom Berenger, who in the makeup and performance, I could barely know he was Jim Vance. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Reading about the reading life: February 9, 2018 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Reading about the reading life" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I collect stories about reading and the reading life. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary. As with other features I do on this blog, I do it when I have time or feel like it. Comments are always welcome (within reason). 

It has been a while since I have done one of these posts, so let's see what I had found interesting recently in reading and literacy.

  • Bookstores often serve as refuge against the "Hard Times." The article also notes that books on the opposition to the party in power often are popular. Story via The Christian Science Monitor. You know what other place can be a refuge?  Your local public library.
  • Dr. Myers at Pharyngula argues that when it comes to that furiously fiery book about the Pendejo In Chief that you are reading the wrong book. He offers a better alternative suggestion.
  • In a bit of humor, turns out there is another book entitled Fire and Fury (it's about a part of World War II). Due to the book about the Pendejo In Chief, the history book also got a sales bump. Story via Inside Higher Ed
  • Big book chains continue in decline, illustrated this time by Book World closures. Story via The New York Times. It is hard to compete against the big online behemoth. I'll be honest, the only big bookstore nearby is Barnes and Noble, and the one we go to in Lexington once in a while looks more like a gift shop and toy store (expensive toy store) than actual bookstore. On a positive, Half Price Books is a pleasure to shop in; they treat you well, and you always find something. I have found some nice second hands Tarot and oracle decks at Half Price Books. Recently, they opened a second location in Lexington, so they must be doing well enough. As long as they are there, I will be happy to keep shopping there.
  • Dan Brown, author of  The Da Vinci Code, gave a bundle of money so about 3,500 occult manuscripts and rare books can be digitized into a collection we will all be able to use some day. Story via Open Culture. I am not a fan of Brown's work, but thank you sir for this. 
  • A big collection of Sherlockiana was recently put up for auction. Via Fine Books and Collections magazine blog.
  • In Texas, they have been banning books in prisons left and right. Heck, they even banned Charlie Brown and Peanuts. However, there is this: "Not banned: “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler and books by white nationalists, including David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard." Yea, so basic literacy and some good leisure reading is out, but white supremacist literature is fine. That's Texan fuckery for you. Story via The New York Times
  • Also via The New York Times, a report that parts of Gabriel García Márquez’s archive at University of Texas have been digitized and are free to view. 
  • I understand there is a  new biopic film about P.T. Barnum. This article considers how that great showman may have paved the way for the  Pendejo In Chief, plus it highlights a book on the art of deception I may add to my reading list. Story via The Conversation
  • Also via The Conversation, some advice on what books to read to your children and at what time. 
  • One more via The Conversation, on the story of America via diet books
  • Via Lecturalia (Spanish language source), Amazon's star rating system for books remains problematic. This is not surprising. From buying reviewers and book raters to sink a competitor's book to harassment issues, Amazon is not really a place to get a reliable review. Personally, as librarian I do not trust nor bother with  an Amazon review. As reviewer, the only time I place a review in Amazon is at the request of an author or editor I may have reviewed here on the blog, and that is done at no pay for me. Otherwise, I stay away. 
  • Infotecarios (Spanish language source) has a short report on libraries in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. 
  • And here I thought the fact our own academic collection needs some serious weeding was bad. Turns out at Indiana University of Pennsylvania Library, 48% of their books have not been checked out in 20 years. They are finally planning to weed. Read about it via InfoDocket.
  • NPR looks at book printing as an art and craft, highlighting a Kentucky printer as well. 
  • I knew it. Book clubs have always been about drinking and schmoozing. Via Atlas Obscura.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Signs the economy is bad: February 2, 2018 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.

January has pretty much come and gone. Christmas season is by now a long gone memory, but the Bad Economy keeps chugging along in 2018. So let's see what's been happening.

  • The latest salvo in the "War on Coal" comes from an energy company CEO who says new renewable energy will be cheaper than coal in the long run. Via Vox.
  • Government officials are happy and proud to tell the poor to fuck off. The latest iteration is the USDA chief telling the poor on food stamps to "get a job." Just another typical selfish clueless Party of Stupid bureaucratic asshole. Via Mother Jones.
  • Nationally, evictions are up, and a  lot of it is due to gentrification. As usual with stuff like this, no one cares until suddenly it hits "regular" white bread middle class people, then holy shit it's a problem. Via
  • Also nationally, the U.S. is now number one in maternal deaths in the developed world. America: Fuck Yea! Talk about "shithole countries." Via ProPublica
    • The same kind of shithole country that allows young people to die because they cannot afford a vial of insulin to treat their Type 1 diabetes. Via Truth Out.
  • And in California, where though they have laws for almost everything their usury laws pretty much suck. The result is loan sharks of the payday industry are exploiting that to make a killing. Via Boing Boing.
  • Yes, debtor's prisons still exist as courts use various dubiously ethical and morally nebulous ways to exploit the poor even more. Violating the rights of the poor in the judicial system is more often than not just business as usual. The article highlights findings from the book Not a Crime to be Poor. Via Truth Out.

And in some news of the Bad Economy that seem a bit more odd and curious:

  • Here is a dog that qualified for unemployment benefits. You know things are hard in  the Bad Economy when even Fido can get unemployment.  It sounds funny until you realize there is a more insidious reason behind it: fraud (not from the dog or the dog's owner). Via The Washington Post
  • Shark conservation charities and conservation charities overall are finding themselves getting  bit extra money these days. Why? It turns out the Pendejo In Chief has a well known hate for sharks. Enough said. Story via the BBC.
  • Tired of working in a coal mine?  Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a thick skin? Willing to take a chance? Perhaps you'd like to open a sex shop in a small rural town. Via The Daily Yonder
    • And speaking of sex shops, the guy who played Barney the Dinosaur has moved on. His new career? He owns a tantric sex shop. Story via VICE.
  • In the market for some Elvis memorabilia? You might still be able to find a crumpled paper cup the King allegedly drank out of. It may set you back only $1,750 bucks. This same guy apparently auctioned off before three tablespoons of Elvis' drinking water. Or you can hold out and see if he might also have some toilet paper tissue Elvis may have used to wipe his ass with back in Memphis. Story via VICE.
  • Looking for a new place to park your money?  The usual "blue chip" stocks too blah for you? That day trading not thrilling enough? Then maybe you can invest into the world's first publicly traded whiskey fund. Via Atlas Obscura.

Media Notes: Movies and series watched in 2017

I read a lot of books from my local public library, the Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public library. In addition to books, I often check out DVDs for movies and older shows I want to watch or that I newly discover. In 2017, in addition to what I read, I decided to more actively keep track of what I was watching in terms of media. This list for 2017 is a partial list based mainly on what I remember watching and checking out. If I own an item, I will note it, but for this list, these are all from my local public library. I am sure I am missing a few things I have watched recently because I honestly do not remember if I watched them in 2017 or before, so we will let those go. I am hoping to keep better track in 2018, so I am thinking I may do a monthly roundup in 2018 listing what I watch with some brief comments. I already review books, so I am not feeling inclined to start reviewing films as well. Links below go to unless otherwise noted. I am not rating the media; I will simply give now some quick impressions and try to help you decide if you might like it or not.

And for the record, I do not watch movies in movie theaters anymore. After a very unpleasant experience with some obnoxious assholes who could not shut the fuck up during a movie, I completely gave up on movie theaters. Besides, movies come out on DVD or Blue Ray soon after, so I do not feel I miss anything. As for television, if a series is good, it eventually gets put on DVD, and I prefer to binge than wait week after week to watch something.

So here is my 2017 (partial and not complete but it is what you get) list of media watched.

Feature films and movies:

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). This was a lot better than I was expecting. It certainly was a lot better than The Force Awakens, which to be honest, was basically a rehash of Episode IV, except with a young heroic lady. One can only hope that Disney, the new owners, do not fuck up the Star Wars legacy into the ground and maybe take a clue that individual, stand alone stories in the Star Wars universe can work and be entertaining. 
  • Star Wars Episode VI: The Force Awakens (2015).  My comment above pretty much applies here. It looked good, but it was clear Disney was mostly rehashing to avoid taking any risks. For fans who have been with the franchise since the beginning, you probably want to watch it, but keep the expectations low.  Having said that, the interactions between Ray and Han were nice.
  • Dead Snow (2009). This was somewhat silly horror fun about a group of college age guys and gals trapped in the Alps in a cabin. They get surrounded by Nazi zombies. Mayhem ensues. It sounds like something of the scale of Sharknado, but it is actually a lot better than it sounds. I really liked it. If you like your horror on the light side, this may be for you.
  • Doctor Strange (2016). A few people on my campus were drooling over this one. I will say that it looks fantastic. The art, the cinematography, the special effects, are all great. It is a nice movie to look at. The plot was decent enough, though I was not too keen on that very last scene (the one in the credits), which I thought was unnecessarily cruel. If you are fan of the character,  you might like it. Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch will probably like him playing his usual arrogant asshole character, although here he seems to grow a bit. 

Television shows and other series:

  • LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (2013). I always loved LEGOs as a kid, and it is a bit of a pity that they did not have as many options as they do now (I grew in the 80s with "classic space guy"). Anyhow, in my quest to escape from reality and the "Hard Times," I am discovering things like LEGO films. This is part of a television series where Yoda is training Jedi Padawans. This DVD contains two short episodes, about 25 minutes each. I found them to be cute, entertaining, and with a light sense of humor. If you like LEGO Star Wars already,  you will probably like this one. Your kids, if they are into LEGOs and/or Star Wars, already probably like this. 
  • Doc Martin (2004- ). Only reason I picked this up is that it got mentioned in the Acorn Media trailers of the DVDs for the Poirot series I watched before. My library had seasons 1-7, which is what I watched. It is entertaining, but I admit that living in a small town myself, though not as small as the town the Doc lives in, at times it reminded me a bit much of the small town nonsense I put up with.  If season 8 ever gets here, I am likely to pick it up. It is curiously addicting.
  • Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975). Another British series that caught my eye via a trailer on Acorn Media. I think my library has the full run, but I was only able to stomach the first series, and that I watched barely. For one, it has not aged well. Two, the snobbery and sexism are just a bit much in this day and age.
  • Inspector Morse (1987-2000). Yet another British series. Since I like the Poirot series, I figured I would like this one too. I did like it. Morse is a seriously morose character, but he draws you in. I definitely liked that it was set in Oxford and the world of academia. It was also a reminder that academics, no matter where, can still be serious assholes. I always felt for Detective Sergeant Lewis putting up with Morse. My library has the complete run, and I watched all of it. It is not a happy series, but it is worth watching. 
  • Prime Suspect (Series 1, 1991). I wanted to watch this in part because, again, it was featured in the trailers in another DVD, plus it had Helen Mirren, fine actress that she is. I could barely make it past the first series (there are seven total, plus some extra movies including a prequel). While her performance is good, this is another series that has not aged well. The rampant sexism is beyond obnoxious and even painful to watch today. Unless you are a hardcore fan of Ms. Mirren, skip this one. 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999). Of the new Star Trek series after the original series, this one is my favorite. I have mixed feelings about The Next Generation, which I do think got better once Wesley Crusher was gone for good and they added Mr. Worf. In other words, I like the later episodes in small doses. I could not care less for Voyager, (which I honestly tried watching when it was on the air, and I eventually just lost interest and watched here or there. I did watch the ending), and Enterprise was just tripe. But DS-9 holds a place in my heart. It started so-so, but it evolved very well, and I think it still holds on for its age. My library has the full run, and I fully enjoyed watching every single episode. This is a set I would like to own someday. 

Reading Challenges and such: Taking a break

As I noted in my Reading List report for 2017, I did read less last year. This year is not getting to a good start as I read little in  January, though I am making up for it in  February a bit. The "Hard Times" are definitely not conducive to good reading times. 2018 just came in, pounced, ran me over, and then kept on going. We are in February already. I did not even get to type out my last holiday post  for 2017, the one with the yearly summary, because by the time I noticed, it was almost end of January, so I decided to skip it for this year. Another thing I am skipping this year are reading challenges.

I enjoy doing reading challenges. I do not often enjoy the requirements of things like having to post review links in certain places at certain times. Challenge hosts can be very inconsistent from one to the other, so remembering who does what when just gets a bit too overwhelming. Last year, I barely finished the challenges I undertook, in part because of the "Hard Times" and  in part because at times I was annoyed trying to figure out what to post or link where and when.

So this year, 2018, I am taking a break. I am just going to read whatever the hell I feel like whenever the hell I feel like it. Do not worry. I will keep reviewing books as I usually do. I am just not going to worry about whether a book fits a certain challenge or list.

In terms of reviews, I do have some interesting books coming up, so stay tuned.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Booknote: F in Exams: Complete Failure Edition

Richard Benson, F in Exams: Complete Failure Edition. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2016.  ISBN: 978-1-4521-4896-0.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: humor, schools
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This is a single volume compilation of the F in Exams series you may have seen in single book format or online. This series collects the creative at times wrong answers students give  in exams and assignments. From doodles to creative statements, students can sure find ways to amuse when they do not have a correct answer.

The book has two main parts: elementary school and high school. High school part is divided into 11 parts by subject plus an extra credit part. After a brief introduction, we get to the humor. In addition to material from previous books, the author added 100 new entries plus a trivia element he calls "Stuff they should have taught us in school." Those are things he thinks would engage student attention if they were taught in schools. I found the trivia bits amusing too.

Overall, this is a light and amusing book. You don't have to be a teacher to appreciate the humor. Whether you are a student now or your school days are long over, this is a good book to make you smile. If you want a light distraction from daily life, this is a good option. I really liked it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Signs the economy is bad: January 19, 2018 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.

This is the first edition for 2018. I thought I could go easy on this feature, but the Bad Economy just keeps chugging along. The Pendejo In Chief and the Party of Stupid certainly do not help the economy, but hey, it is what Americans (US people) proudly, willingly, and gladly voted for. So, let's see what has been going on recently.

Special section this week: Pendejo In Chief news:

Let's see how the Pendejo In Chief has been fucking shit up in the Bad Economy:

In higher education news of the Bad Economy. These are via Inside Higher Ed.:

In other news of the Bad Economy:
  • In Kentucky, local politicians mention the "War on Coal," and the masses get riled up. But the reality is that coal is in decline, and it will continue to decline over time. The federal government states as much. It really is time for people to get a clue, and among other things start retraining workers displaced by closing mines and making plans in other forms of energy. Hat tip to The Rural Blog.
  • Speaking of Kentucky, one of the local "scandals" to decent people is how the state continues to give tax breaks for film, movie, television, and commercials productions, including crappy films, to the tune of $160 million or so while the state overall has a serious budget shortfall. Because priorities, man. Story via The Lexington Herald Leader.
  • ProPublica took a serious look at the business of private trash collection and finds it to be deadly, especially in New York City.
  • In the United States overall, the bill for natural disasters, which have been specially harsh in 2017, is up to about $300 billion in a single year. But you know, that whole climate change stuff? No big deal, meh. Story via The Guardian.
  • Meanwhile, south of the border in Latin America, after making gains for years, poverty in Latin America is on the rise. Story via TeleSur. 
  • If you want proof that Big Pharma really has no interest in curing anything, but rather in just  making enough medications to keep treating something on and on (and thus fleecing more money), Pfizer just recently said they are halting research on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's treatments. There is no money in that kind of stuff, and those old people are doing to croak soon anyhow (or so they hope). Story via NPR.
  • So, you thought that prison scene (link to YouTube) in the movie Goodfellas was total fiction? It turns out that in the U.S., prisoners with money CAN pay for better accommodations in  prison. Story via AlterNet.
  • In rural areas, turns out it is getting harder for farmers to sell their farms to the next generation. Via The Daily Yonder.
  • Even in the narco trade, getting paid is getting harder, so drug debts are a part of life, and this means the violence to collect those debts has gone up too. Story via VICE.
  • A lot of business are going cashless, as in they do not take cash for transactions because they expect you to have a debit or credit card. Now, call me a Luddite, but I think  anyone not carrying at least a small amount of cash is a fool. Because, you know, Internet goes down, power goes out, so on, and suddenly you can't buy something nor can the business sell you something you may need because they decided to go cashless. And do not even get me started on all the hacks going on since said businesses are basically irresponsible assholes who can't secure their customers' information. Story via NPR. 
  • Weddings can be expensive. It is an idea the Better Half and I do not understand, since we did ours very modestly, but we hear people spend thousands and thousands on weddings. So, money gets tight later in the marriage, and couples need to recoup costs somehow. One way now is to sell your gently used wedding items to another couple getting ready for a wedding. Story via AlterNet
  • If you happen to be an attractive woman, and you are willing, you can be a sugar baby to a sugar daddy. However, you can't go just anywhere to find a sugar daddy. Here are the top 5 cities if you are seeking that kind of arrangement to help pay your college tuition or whatever it  is you may need money for. Via FHM magazine.

Friday, January 05, 2018

My Reading List for 2017

(crossposted from A Simple Scholarly Librarian)

Welcome to my 2017 Reading List and end of year report. You may notice  I did a bit of housecleaning on this blog [at what is now A Simple Scholarly Librarian], including a small title change (as well as the URL); I also edited the "about me" stuff to simplify things. I think the new title in this blog is more plain, reflective of  how I try to be as a librarian. I was also inspired by that one poem (you can see it in my profile). My four readers have likely noticed I blog a lot less here. One of my recent resolutions is to avoid drama as much as possible, and the library field can have a lot of drama. Life is already tough in the "Hard Times" without having to worry over the asshats in my profession too. In addition, I just do not find too many things of interest to blog about here. So I just post here now and then if something comes up, but I am in no rush. One thing I am hoping to do is to go back to posting my notes on library literature I read, and I may shoot to do that once a week. (By the way, just because I am not blogging here much does not mean I am not reading, keeping notes, and doing professional development. I've done some nice presentations, including one at LOEX, but that is another story). We will see how it goes. I am not quite ready to shut down this blog, but the hiatus periods may stay. At the end of the day, I just feel I have more interesting things, and things that make me happier, to blog about elsewhere.I am at peace with that. I keep doing this list  here mostly because I started the tradition here. If the day comes I turn off the lights on this blog, I will move this feature over to The Itinerant Librarian.

On a positive note, I have been happily blogging and posting book reviews at The Itinerant Librarian blog. I have turned that blog into a small  but nice book blog. I am making plans to add some additional reading related content in 2018, so stay tuned for that. A big reason I do it, besides the fact I  enjoy reading and sharing what I read, is to serve in some small way as form of reader's advisory. By the way, if you are an author, editor, or publisher, and you think you have a book I may want to read and review, check out my book review statement, then let me know. I'd be happy to consider it if fits with my review statement and reading interests.

On another positive note, I recently came to my five years anniversary working at Berea College. I even got a small letter from the college president about it. Deity of choice allowing, I hope to stay here for a while longer (let's see if we can make at least another five, you know, start small and work our way up).

Getting to the reading part, even without reviewing my list of books for 2017, I could already feel I read less when compared to last year. The "Hard Times" we are living in the U.S. have wreaked havoc on my reading mood. I often read in the evening before bedtime, and I am often too tired to read, or I just tune out. In November, when I was reading some political/social issues books, I just finally burned out, and I declared a self-imposed moratorium on reading anything related to politics, social issues, activist topics, and/or most current events. In addition, I trimmed my feeds on social media to minimize my exposure to that kind of stuff because in the end it boiled down I need to do some self care and keep some sanity. In fact, I have a politics, social issues, activist, and/or current events moratorium on social media, with the penance that if I slip and post something on those topics, I have to post something about kittens to atone. A few kittens have made my feeds, but the number is dwindling. I am just done with the overall stupidity, selfishness, and bullshit at large. Thus I am doing my best to read more escapist and recreational things. Despite all that, I managed to read some good stuff, and that is always a good thing.

So for 2018 pretty much, this is where I stand:

A small reason I have read less in 2017 is that in my effort to escape the reality of the "Hard Times" I have  been binging on watching DVDs for films and specially for old television series. I have gotten some of those from my local public library. I will probably make a separate post to list some of the things I have enjoyed on video.

Six of Pentacles from the Modern Spellcaster's Tarot deck
The Six of Pentacles, from The Modern Spellcaster's Tarot Deck.

Another positive in 2017 is that I continue with my Tarot and oracle card studies. The main form of engagement with this is my morning ritual of a daily Tarot card draw. If you are interested, you can follow me on Twitter, where I am posting a photo of the daily card with my reading of  it. I do a daily card and the underneath card (i.e. I see what  is lurking under the deck). Based on the Twitter posts, I am considering exploring Instagram for sharing those photos. We will see. I am also working on focusing my commonplace blog, Alchemical Thoughts, into a bit more of a Tarot and divination blog where I can share some readings, some exercises, reviews of decks and books on Tarot, oracles, and other esoterica. The reviews are likely going to be crossposted from The Itinerant Librarian. Speaking of Alchemical Thoughts, for the month  of January I am participating in the "31 Days of Tarot" challenge. I am posting the daily prompts there, and I am crossposting them to my Tumblr, The Alchemical Annex. If interested, feel free to check that out. Here is the link for the first day. I am finding that studying Tarot, along with some esoteric topics, has helped me find some peace and calm in the "Hard Times," so I foresee I will keep at it. By the way, studying Tarot and oracle has also made me into a bit of a deck collector. However, I have at least one tight rule for any deck I add my collection: I have to be able to read with it. A deck may have gorgeous art, but if I am unable to actually use it, it is not going into my collection. This is why I do not add Marseilles-style decks (read here decks with non-illustrated pip cards); I can't really use them as they do not do much for me. However, there is a Marseilles-style deck I'd be willing to make an exception for and add to my collection, and that is Ciro Marchetti's Tarot Decoratif (which is actually a bit of homage to Marseilles with some Rider Waite Smith blended in. Link to Ciro's site). On a side note, I do have two Marseilles decks (reproductions, of course), and those were gifts from special people, which is why I have kept them. For those, I recently got myself a good book on Marseilles Tarot to teach myself how to work with such decks better. I will let you know down the road how that experience goes.
Let's get on with it and look at what and how I read in 2017. After the list, you will find my comments and remarks. Note that books with an asterisk (*) are rereads.

  • Becky Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner.
  • Inazo Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of the Samurai (graphic novel adaptation). 
  • Scott Jerry, Zits Sketchbook 1
  • The Usual Gang of Idiots, The Mad Bathroom Companion: Gushing Fourth Edition.
  • Mark Kurlansky, Paper: Paging Through History
  • Kaelan Rhywiol, Nera's Need.
  • Mike Barr,, Star Trek Archives Volume 4: The Best of Deep Space Nine.*

  • P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Marked (House of Night, Book 1).  
  • Lee Hammock, Halo Graphic Novel
  • Rebecca Hankins and Miguel Suarez, Where are all the Librarians of Color
  • Mario Benedetti, Biografia para encontrarme.  
  • John Lewis, March: Book Three
  • C.S. Goto, Blood Ravens: the Dawn of War Omnibus (Warhammer 40,000).*


  •  Yoav Ben-Dov, The Marseille Tarot Revealed
  • Artisan Press, Why We March
  • John Palfrey, BiblioTech (audiobook edition).
  • Colette Baron-Reid, The Enchanted Map oracle cards (oracle deck kit with book). 
  • Jennifer Worick, Things I Want to Punch in the Face (audiobook edition). 
  • Tommy Dades, Friends of the Family
  • Jay Fonseca, Banquete Total
  • Scott Martin, Bringing the Tarot to Life


  • Jen Mann, People I Want to Punch in the Throat (audiobook edition).
  • Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential (audiobook edition).
  • Leeza Robertson, Tarot Court Cards for Beginners
  • Yankee Magazine, Living Well on a Shoestring
  • Melissa Cynova, Kitchen Table Tarot
  • Josh Katz, Speaking American
  • Jason Aaron, Showdown on the Smugglers' Moon (Star Wars comics).
  • Penelope Bagieu, California Dreamin'
  • Ray Garton, Live Girls


  •  Eileen Kaur Alden, Super Sikh, Issue 1
  • Matt Kindt, Divinity III: Stalinverse.
  • Colin Dickey, Ghostland
  • P.J. O'Rourke, How the Hell Did This Happen?
  • Sideshow Collectibles, Figure Fantasy: The Pop Culture Photography of Daniel Picard
  • Jancis Robinson, The 24-Hour Wine Expert
  • Serafin Mendez Mendez, Puerto Rico Past and Present: an Encyclopedia
  • Michael Eric Dyson, Tears We Cannot Stop
  • Clay Cane, Live Through This


  • Cullen Bunn, Battlestar Galactica: Folly of the Gods
  • Kathryn Petras, The Stupidest Things Ever Said Book of Top Ten Lists
  • Roger Langridge, Betty Boop.
  • Jennifer Adams, Emma: a BabyLit Emotions Book
  • Jennifer Adams, Treasure Island: a BabyLit Shapes Primer
  • Andy Diggle, James Bond: Hammerhead
  • Vincent Terrace, Television Series of the 1960s
  • Michael Ruhlman, Grocery


  •  Andy Schmidt, G.I. Joe: Future Noir, Volume 1
  • Sybille Titieux de la Croix, Muhammad Ali.
  • Alana Fairchild, The Isis Oracle (oracle cards deck with book kit). 
  • Gerard Way, Doom Patrol, Volume 1: Brick by Brick
  • Joanna Powell Colbert, The Gaian Tarot (Tarot cards deck with book kit). 
  • Sarah Vaughn, Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love
  • Leonardo Lucarelli, Mincemeat
  • Matt Kindt, X-O Manowar, Volume 1: Soldier
  • David Gonzales, Homies
  • Norman Ohler, Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich
  • E.K. Johnston, Ahsoka (Star Wars YA novel). 


  • Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 2: Joker Loves Harley
  • Graham Masterton, Figures of Fear.

  • Tracking books this year got a little tricky. I left GoodReads mostly after it got acquired by the online book retail behemoth. I discovered BookLikes, which is a bit of a hybrid between GoodReads and Tumblr, and I was using that to keep track of books as well as another place to post  my reviews. Well, last year BL had some serious clusterfuck where they were down for almost two months with no response whatsoever. A few of us thought the site was gone for good. They hobbled back online, but I have not gone back since. I may in the future; I have not decided yet. So, I reluctantly went back to GoodReads for tracking, where I just record I read something and rate it. I do not post reviews in GR unless requested.

Finally, first of all, thank you for hanging around and stopping by the blogs throughout the year. Also thank you for reading this far on this post. Hope you will come back in 2018. As I have done before, I am ending this post with a sampling of reading reports from other bloggers out there. By the way, if you did an end of year reader summary, and you want to share it, you are welcome to share it in the comments.