Friday, March 15, 2019

Booknote: Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes

William Lynwood Montell, Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 2009.  ISBN: 978-0-8131-2567-1.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: funerary rites and practices, folklore, traditions, Kentuckiana
Format: hardcover
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


I finally finished reading this. The book jacket's description of this book as collecting stories "both humorous and touching" is not quite accurate. The main issue with this book is that it is outright boring and repetitive. Most of the stories are repeated over and over until the reader finally has to say, "I've got it already. Can we move on?" The author is a folklorist with an interest in recording stories by members of "significant" professional groups; he has other books similar to this one about doctors and lawyers.

At the beginning of the book, the author states why funeral directors' stories are significant:

"I fully realized that funeral directors' accounts also held important historical content, since they are the final persons to care for friends and community members when death occurs. I have collected their stories here to preserve their memories and to document the funeral practices of earlier years and contemporary times" (1).

It is a pity he could not present those stories in a more interesting way. Some serious editing and being more selective would have worked better. I can't help but feel that big parts of this book are just filler. Had better story selection and editing been done, this would have likely been a few articles in a historical society newsletter or maybe  a folklore journal. Overall, there are some interesting stories, one or two amusing ones, but they get lost in the monotonous repetition of the same events over and over.

The book is organized into an introduction, following by six chapters, and ending with biographical notes of the storytellers. Topics include funeral practices over the years, folk customs, humor and mistakes, and memories. The book is pretty much a Kentuckiana artifact. Unless you have a narrow interest in Kentucky funerary practices, the average reader has no reason to pick this up. It's just dry, boring, and repetitive as I mentioned. If you must, borrow it.

Libraries with an interest in Kentuckiana may want to add this to their collections. Otherwise, I'd say libraries in general can skip it. Having read it, I can say I would not purchase it for my library. The local public library has it, and that is plenty.

1 out of 5 stars.




Friday, March 08, 2019

Media Notes: Roundup for February 2019

These are the movies and series on DVD and/or online I watched during February 2019.


Movies and films (links to IMDB.com for basic information unless noted otherwise). Some of these I watched via TubiTv.com or other online source. The DVDs come from the public library (unless noted otherwise). In addition, I will try to add other trivia notes, such as when a film is based on a book adding the information about the book (at least the WorldCat record if available):

  • Hercules (1983. Fantasy. Adventure). Lou Ferrigno takes the title role in this film made by Cannon Films and producers Golan-Globus, the company known for a lot of action flicks in the 80s.  In this story, evil King Minos and his daughter Adriana plan to conquer the world, but to achieve their plans they have to sacrifice Cassiopea. Hercules needs to rescue Cassiopea, but he will face various obstacles along the way while receiving some help from the sorcerer Circe. Meanwhile the gods take sides to either help or hinder Hercules. The movie plays a little lose with mythology, but it is cheesy entertainment. Not as much action, and some seriously bad special effects. It is pretty much a product of the 1980s. Not great but amusing. If you like fantasy and sword and sorcery, you could do worse. I vaguely remember watching this as a kid; I did not recall it was so cheesy bad but as I said, still amusing. Part of the charm is just seeing some of the ridiculous elements, and some interesting takes, like Daedalus, who works for Minos, as a woman. Via TubiTv.
  • Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (2012. Action. Adventure. Science Fiction. Video Games). In a military academy in a far away planet, Cadet Lasky does not seem to care much about his military career despite having ability and a good pedigree. His squad is upset at him as they view him as a liability in training. However, Lasky and the rest of the cadets soon have to rise to the occasion when their planet is attacked. The attack is not by the insurrectionists they were taught to fight and hate, but a whole new alien species. Now they need to escape with the help of Spartan 117, the Master Chief. Movie overall is fairly slow for the first three quarters of the film or so in the academy and training session. Pace does pick up dramatically once the invasion happens but still overall a pretty slow film. Probably more for hardcore fans of the video game and its universe.  For other casual movie watchers, the movie is pretty much another military academy training sequence with all the cliches and about 25 minutes or so at the end of anything actually happening. Unless you are a fan, this film is pretty forgettable. Via TubiTv.
  • Election (2005. Crime. Drama). A Hong Kong triads film. In this one, the Wo Sing triad elects a new chairman every two years. Lok is elected. Part of the tradition is him receiving a baton, symbol of the chairman's authority. Big D refuses to accept the result of the election and instructs the current holder of the baton to not turn it over. Lok represents tradition, and Big D represents the younger ones wanting to be more modern and leave traditions behind. Now Lok and Big D are locked in conflict to find the baton. In the process, the elders worry a war may break out if the two do not settle their differences. It is a very slow movie, but it is interesting given the back room deals, scheming, and machinations along the way. It does have a bit of a shocking but not surprising ending. In the end, it was a bit slow, but it had some good moments and some interesting details. Via TubiTv. 
  • Rommel (2012. War. Drama. Biography). The movie tells the story of Field Marshall Rommel's last seven months of life. It starts with him getting transferred to Normandy to lead the defense against the Allies. Despite his efforts, the Allied invasion succeeds as Rommel is unable to convince Hitler to give him the necessary troops and materials to defend Normandy. Meanwhile, a plot to kill Hitler is taking form, and Rommel becomes aware of it, which complicates things.  Overall, the film is a somber but solid drama looking at this part of history. The performances were good. An interesting detail is that they had a narrator at times recite Nazi propaganda of how well the war was going while we could see war footage showing how bad the war front was really going for the Germans. Movie is in German, with English subtitles. Via TubiTv.
  • Tekken (2011. Action. Fantasy. Adventure. Martial Arts). The year is 2038. After a global war, governments fall, and corporations take over parts of the world. Tekken Corporation takes over what includes the former United States. In a slum known as The Anvil, Jin makes a small living smuggling small goods. When his mother is killed, Jin, who is a trained martial arts fighter, enters the Iron Fist Tournament that Tekken sponsors every year not for money or glory but to seek revenge. The movie is pretty formulaic in terms of your basic revenge plot and take down the bad tyrant. Fans of the game, movie is based on a video game, will recognize characters from the game. The fight sequences are mostly well made, but the story as I said is pretty formulaic, and let's be honest, the result is pretty predictable. Do stay tuned for the very end of the credits for a small bonus scene. Via TubiTv.
  • Justice League Dark (2017. Action. Fantasy. Animation). One of those DC Comics original animated movies that goes to DVD. In this one, people start behaving in irrational and violent ways. Batman suspects there may be magic and the paranormal involved. So he gets help from John Constantine, and together they put a team together with Zatanna, Jason Blood (who is bonded to the demon Etrigan), and Deadman to fight against Destiny, an old being trying to take over the world and cause of the violence. It is a comics movie but heads up, it does have an R-rating (for some violence, and there is a death or two). Overall, entertaining but nothing major. If nothing else, it is better than a lot of the live action efforts DC actually releases for theaters. It was OK. It does have some good voice talent in the cast including Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman), Nicholas Turturro (as Boston Brand/Deadman), Alfred Molina (Destiny), and Jason O'Mara (Batman) among others. DVD from Madison County Public Library.
  • The Fall of the Essex Boys (aka Gangster Playboy Legends. 2013. Crime. Mobsters).  A British mobster film, based on true events, about the rise and fall of the Essex Boys, a 1990s drug running gang. The movie can be a bit convoluted at times, but it blends a good amount of intrigue and double crossing with the violence. There is feel that the filmmakers may assume the audience knows the basic details of the real events, so if you know little to none, you may not realize what is real or not. As I said, film is convoluted. Acting is often loud, as in a lot of yelling, and just not that good. Consider this optional to watch. There may be better films on this story out there. Via TubiTv. 
  • The Spirit (2008. Crime. Adventure. Fantasy). Will Eisner's character The Spirit gets the big screen. Sadly this movie was not quite what the hero deserved. The premise is pretty out there, and Samuel L. Jackson as The Octopus, the movie's villain, just hams it up with every other cliche of mad villain you can get including the speech a villain gives before he attempts to kill the hero. The movie has a bit of the noir aesthetic from films like Sin City, also done by Frank Miller, but it does not live up to neither his name nor the quality of Sin City. In the end, it's bad enough to be laughable here and there at how ridiculous it can get, but also a missed opportunity. Overall, you are better off seeking out the comics source material, which I think I will do. Via TubiTv.


Television and other series (basic show information links via Wikipedia unless noted otherwise). Some of these come in DVD from the public library. Others may be via YouTube, which, as noted before, I keep finding all sorts of other old shows in it, often full episodes:

  • American Horror Story (Season 1. 2011. Drama. Horror. Thriller). The first season of the anthology series. Contains the pilot and 11 episodes. DVD from Madison County (KY) Public Library. Overall, I watched a little bit, but I just did not find this series all that appealing. Since each season is a different theme, I may try the next season, but I am in no rush.
    • Pilot. To be honest, I was lukewarm about this. It has some very creepy moments, but between those creepy moments it's basically soap opera drama. The Harmons move to a house in L.A. coming from the East Coast. Dr. Harmon had an affair, and him and the wife are trying to patch things up. Their daughter is your typical teen full of angst who thinks life stinks (nothing new there). But the house, there is something about the house which they managed to buy very cheap because it turns out a murder happened there. I am intrigued by the house and its potential horrors, but the domestic drama I could not care less for it. Not sure if I will keep watching or not. I just want the horror without the melodrama.  To be honest, I am rooting for the house because the family is pretty unsympathetic. 
    • Episodes 2 and 3 the paranormal elements kick up a notch as we get some revelations of what really happened in the house, and the true nature of their neighbors and the maid. Family still remains pretty unsympathetic, but you start to see the influence of the house on them. 




Booknote: Fallen Angels

Mike Lee, Fallen Angels. Nottingham, UK: Black Library, 2014. 2014 ISBN: 978-1-84970-819-7.

Genre: science fiction
Subgenre: military scifi, Horus Heresy, Book 11
Format: paperback
Source: Interlibrary Loan via Hutchins Library. The book came from the King County Library System, Washington State.


This is the second novel about the Dark Angels legion in the Horus Heresy series. I was a bit apprehensive about this one after the disappointment of Descent of Angels  (book six of the Horus Heresy. Link to my review). With a different author, this novel is an improvement in large part because we have moved past the boring days before the Imperium in Caliban.

As before, we follow much of the story through the eyes of Zahariel, who is now an Astartes Librarian (a psyker warrior) of the Dark Angels Legion. He is in Caliban while Lion El' Johnson and the main forces of legion go to the forge world planet Diamat. The story then goes back and forth between Caliban and Diamat. Eventually, news of Horus' treachery reaches the legion, and the mission to Diamat becomes more urgent as the Dark Angels need to prevent Horus's forces from getting Diamat resources. Meanwhile, back on Caliban, treachery is around as well, a great secret is revealed, and Luther who is now in charge in Caliban has to decide where his loyalties lie.

Fallen Angels offers a good blend of action and intrigue. As we read, loyalties become a bit clearer for some and murkier for others. Things get interesting as betrayals are revealed. You also get a view of a world that only recently was added to the Imperium; naturally not everyone is happy about that, so Luther and Zahariel also have to deal with local rebels in addition to the planet's dark secret. There is a lot going on, and it moves at a good pace. Zahariel is still a light character, but he is better developed in this book.

The book's ending is open ended, since it is part of a larger series. However, the revelation at the end may be a bit surprising to some readers. I will not spoil things, but it feels like after all the efforts that more fuel gets added to the fire. There is plenty of betrayal to go around, and at times you wonder who may be right as Johnson and Luther both believe they act for the right reasons. Fans of the Dark Angels who already know that legion's history may appreciate this part of the tale. For those of us discovering this series, the book leaves us wanting to delve deeper in the fate and coming division of the Dark Angels.

Overall, I really liked this one, and for now, I am willing to give the next Dark Angels novel a chance if there is one down the road.

4 out of 5 stars.





Friday, March 01, 2019

Booknote: Gaspipe

Philip Carlo, Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss. Old Saybrook, CT: Tantor Media, 2008. ISBN: 9781400137114.  

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: true crime, memoir, biography, Mafia
Format: audiobook 
Source: Via Overdrive provided by Madison County (KY) Public Library

I picked this up mostly out of curiosity and because I had learned about Gaspipe Casso from other books about the Mob I had read or documentaries I had seen. It is not a terribly interesting book. Much of the book basically is Gaspipe Casso, as told to the author, romanticizing much of his deeds and time in the Mob. Casso presents the romanticizing of the Mafia as the community mediator. For Italian Americans in NYC, you went to the Mafia rather than the police. You also see this in fictional works like The Godfather. The poor oppressed immigrants often needed the Mafia to help them out to solve problems, and it may have started out that way, but it degenerated into the criminal enterprises that exploited said immigrants and pretty much anyone else.

The author's family lived in same neighborhood the Casso family did. In fact, the families knew each other. However, the author's family  had no mob affiliation. Later, this "going back" helped  him get access to Anthony Casso who chose him to tell the story.

The book has some descriptive moments, such as the torture scene of one of the men that tried to kill him. However, the book also features some pretty hokey lines like someone having a doctorate in torture and Beethoven's 5th Symphony of pain to describe a stage of the torture as Casso let wounds on his victim get some time to swell and fester. The subject matter may be serious, but it is often presented in what can only be described as a cheesy style.

The book also provides some look at the history of the Mob in the U.S. and also looks at the organization in general. For example, it looks at why the Mafia was successful. Large part of it was The Commission, which made sure everyone followed the rules, and for a while, everyone did follow the rules. It was business, and business was doing well. So much so that regular business people wanted to be involved with the Mafia in order to get more wealth and power, and those business people were fascinated by how the Mafia dealt in every business and endeavor from law enforcement to movie making to rackets, etc. Many were happy to give the Mafia information and intelligence to keep the business going. To be honest, I found the history digressions more interesting than Casso's life story.

At the end of the book, the appendix questions the whole process of the justice system using mob members turned informant or collaborator, rats as they are often labeled, to secure convictions. More often than not the government does not keep their word in agreements, even when the collaborator did everything that was asked. While these criminals are not to be pitied, the government in some ways using its power to break its word for the sake of appearance, expediency, and convenience (to them) does not exactly make the government look any better and if anything they come across as just as bad as the Mafia when using the philosophy both Mob and government often share: the ends justify the means.


Overall, this is a pretty forgettable book. If are really interested in Anthony Casso's life, this may be a book to pick up although there are other more interesting sources that go over  his life in the Mafia and the Lucchese Crime Family. Borrow this one if you must.

2 out of 5 stars.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Booknote: Sisters of Battle

James Swallow, Sisters of Battle: The Omnibus. Nottingham, UK: Black Library, 2017.  ISBN: 978-1-78496-572-3.

Genre: science fiction
Subgenre: military scifi, Warhammer 40,000
Format: paperback omnibus
Source: I own this one.

This omnibus collects two full novels and two short stories written by James Swallow and featuring the Adepta Sororitas, the Sisters of Battle. We do not get many works featuring these warrior women of the 41st Millennium, so naturally I wanted to read this. Let's have a look at the contents.

The novella "Red and Black" had some good pacing, and it presented an ethical dilemma (the sentient clones) for Miriya and the other sisters as they realize all is not as it seems in a newly rediscovered imperial world. In the end, the taint of Chaos cannot prevail, but is the cost worth it? Miriya may be sure, but the readers not so much. It is a tale that offers a small element of horror to it.

The first full novel in this omnibus is Faith and Fire. Miriya and her team head out to Neva. The story starts with her team escorting a prisoner that, for some strange reason her superiors want to keep alive, a psyker witch. The prisoner manages to escape, and it falls to Miriya to capture him again. However, the witch is the least of her concerns as her superiors often make things difficult for her, and if that was not bad enough, the local ecclesiarchy authorities have a whole other agenda of their own, an agenda that involves Vaun the witch. Vaun also has an agenda of his own. Miriya needs to work around all of this to succeed. The novel starts a bit slow, but it does pick up the pace, especially after Sister Verity arrives. As the plot thickens, the story gets more interesting, leading to the inevitable confrontation of opposing forces. To be honest, I was not too happy with the ending for Miriya, but it does set things up for the second novel in the series: Hammer and Anvil. Sister Miriya is a strong, independent woman who does not always see eye to eye with her superiors in the Ecclesiarchy, but she does remain loyal and devoted to the Emperor.

The second novel of the series, Hammer and Anvil, is included in this volume. I had read it previously in paperback from my local public library. It is a work I enjoyed, and it provides a good continuation of Miriya' and Verity's tales. I had read this novel previously, and I reviewed the book previously here on my blog.

The omnibus ends with the short story "Heart and Soul." Sister Miriya and her squad are at the end  of a battle campaign at Meseda Quintus. They are about to launch their final offensive when another squad from another Sororitas order comes in wanting to take their work and glory away. What seems like petty political bickering soon acquires depth as the new squad has ulterior motives for their arrival. Miriya and her team soon find themselves in a fierce battle against Chaos forces, and they are confronted with a secret that could lead to major scandals. Overall, the tale was a nice way to close out this volume.

Overall, I really liked this volume. We do not get a lot of works featuring the Sisters of Battle, so this will give you a good set of tales.

4 out of 5 stars.



Friday, February 15, 2019

Booknote: American Gangster and Other Tales of New York

Mark Jacobson (author) and Malcolm Hillgartner (audio narrator), American Gangster and Other Tales of New York. Ashland, OR: Blackstone Audio, 2015. ISBN: 9781481582957.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: essays, biography, true crime
Format: online audiobook
Source: Overdrive system of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


This book is a collection of essays and stories. The main story is the tale of Frank Lucas, the heroin dealer who went on to become the basis of the film American Gangster; Denzel Washington portrayed Lucas in the film. I picked this up via Overdrive out of curiosity since I saw it was the basis of the film. Turns out the book contains some other essays on mob life and other tales of New York City. Like many collections, some tales were more interesting than others. The book does give a pretty good portrayal of parts of New York City at the time.

The book starts with the story of Frank Lucas. The author notes that  he did spend time with Lucas, as Lucas by then was telling his story. We note the irony of Lucas claiming patriotism. He smuggled heroin in coffins of dead American soldiers returned from the Vietnam War. However, he clarifies it was not put in the body bags with  the bodies, but in the coffins. He claims he hired good carpenters to build coffins with false bottoms, and it was there the drug was smuggled, so as not to be sloppy nor disrespect a corpse. At one point, even Henry Kissinger's plane, was used by Lucas to smuggle drugs back into the U.S. Talk about brazen. Go figure.

The author also points out that had Lucas been born wealthy, he could have been a corrupt, powerful politician. He was born poor however, so he went on to become a rich gangster and drug dealer. To be honest, that does not say much about American society. If rich, an option is to become powerful and corrupt. If poor, the option then is to become powerful and corrupt as an outright criminal, as opposed to a white collar criminal, and rich in the process.

For the book as a whole, the author states the stories he presents here are different than his previous book. He does note that much of what he writes  about now does not exist anymore. For instance, Lucas' reign as a heroin dealer is long gone. The rest of the book collects essays he wrote for other things. Some of them are interesting and humorous.

Here is a sampling of some topics presented in the book:

  • Insight: it is harder for crooks to extort a place like Home Depot versus a mom and pop place. Why? A place like Home Depot is just too big. 
  • Find out where the most comfy couch in New York City resides. Plus, there is a good interesting story of a cigar maker in Chapter 2. 
  • There is a pretty humorous piece on filming a zombie movie. 
  • An essay on Charlie Rangel, the long time Harlem congressman. 
  • A good look at Chinatown,its gangs, and how the place has changed over time. A big part of the change is outside investors from places like Hong Kong; they can modernize the place, but also a part of the past is lost, not to mention the gangs' influence lessens.
  • On editors, they should write too, not just edit. So they keep in touch with  the agony that writing can be.

In the end, I liked the book. It was no big deal, but it did have some interesting stories of the city from the 1970s or so. The narration was good as well.

3 out of 5 stars.




Friday, February 08, 2019

Media Notes: Roundup for January 2019

 
These are the movies and series on DVD and/or online I watched during January 2019.


Movies and films (links to IMDB.com for basic information unless noted otherwise). Some of these I watched via TubiTv.com or other online source. The DVDs come from the public library (unless noted otherwise). In addition, I will try to add other trivia notes, such as when a film is based on a book adding the information about the book (at least the WorldCat record if available):

  • The Cabin in the Woods (2011. Horror, with a bit of comedy). I got curious about this film when I saw one of those best of horror lists online (can't remember where) recommending this. Initially, it starts like any other common horror film: bunch of college kids head out on vacation to a cabin in the woods. The college folks are even fairly stereotypical: a slutty female, a jock, a stoner, another nerdy girl, and a more scholarly guy. However, the movie soon takes a seriously deep twist as they discover there is way more inside and around that cabin.  The stakes get a lot higher as the great truth is revealed. As in many good horror movies, you do get bits of humor here and there. The last act of the movie there is a lot of detail. You may find yourself looking closely to get them. This movie shows that movie makers can still make a good horror film. If you have not seen it, and you like horror, you need to see this one. Via TubiTv. 
  • The Iceman (2012. Crime. Drama. Biography). Movie tells the story of Richard Kuklinski, a Mafia serial killer from the late 1960s into the 1980s. Captured in 1986, his family had no idea what he really did; that's how well he kept the secret from them. The film does portray him somewhat sympathetic. It still presents him as a cold killer, but at least from accounts I have read, the guy was a true psychopath who kept his family under a very tight control. Still, the movie is good enough to watch, but do keep in mind it is "based on a true story." I found it interesting. It does capture the time period fairly well. According to the credits, it is based on Anthony Bruno's book The Iceman: the True Story of a Cold Blooded Killer and on the documentary The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (link to full interviews record). Movie does feature some known actors such as Ray Liotta, Chris Evans, and David Schwimmer. Michael Shannon portrays Kuklinski. Via TubiTv.




Television and other series (basic show information links via Wikipedia unless noted otherwise). Some of these come in DVD from the public library. Others may be via YouTube, which, as noted before, I keep finding all sorts of other old shows in it, often full episodes:

  • American Justice (1992-2005. Crime. Documentary). Documentary series that once aired on A&E and was hosted by Bill Kurtis. The series looked at various forms of crime, and the ending of each episode usually the justice system prevailed. Via YouTube.
    • "Mob Hitmen." Episode 63 in the series looks at mob hitmen with a focus on Philadelphia. Episode makes it a point to dispel the Hollywood myth of the well armed and well trained hitman. In reality, more often than not, hitmen worked out of need or convenience, whoever could get closest to a target. Any and all loyalties were out when an order to kill someone was given. In the time period the episode presents, of 50 "made men" or so, 30 or so died in mob wars. 
  • Endeavour, Series 1 (2013. Mystery. Crime. Drama.). The second spinoff series of the Inspector Morse series. This time we go back in time to see a  young Morse start his career as a Detective Constable. We begin to see some of the quirks and brilliance we will later see down the road. He is a college dropout, fan of opera, a bit impulsive but also begins to show signs of becoming a good detective. Here he is mentored and encouraged by Detective Inspector Thursday who sees the potential in him no one else does or wants to see. Via DVD from my local public library.
    • Pilot episode. In this episode, we meet Morse for the first time. He is brought into Oxford when they are short on detectives, and soon he is involved in a murder case of a young girl. The more he perseveres, the more obstacles and corruption he finds along the way to get to the truth. However, it is his keen sense of observation, deep thinking, and attention to detail that help him solve the case, with support from DI Thursday. A great first case.  
  • Endeavour, Series 2. (Mystery. Crime. Drama). This series includes four episodes.  Series continues to be very good and compelling.
    • In the opening episode, "Trove," it has been four months since the last series. Morse got shot and was almost killed. He now returns to duty but DI Thursdays worries about his mental state. Meanwhile, they get to investigate an apparent suicide but they soon discover there is a lot more along with a robbery, and Morse gets a brush at high corruption amongst the elites of Oxford. 
    • Note that the second series ends in a serious cliffhanger as the evil corruption in high places hinted at the start of this series surfaces. By the closing episode, "Neverland," no one knows who can be trusted.  
  • Endeavour, Series 3 (Mystery. Crime. Drama). Series contains four episodes. 
    • In opening episode, "Ride." Morse returns after the end of Series 2 where he was arrested for a crime he did not commit. The opening glosses over the inquiry, and while he is cleared, Morse is still traumatized. However, he cannot afford to stay out of detective work for long as a new case draws him back in. It is a case of some very rich people, some fair performers and magicians, and a con.  
    • The series is now moving into the 60s decade, a time of free love, communes, and social activism, and we see this in the second episode, "Arcadia." A wealthy merchant's daughter is kidnapped for extortion, but it turns out there is much more to it, including homicide. Also in this episode, Detective Sergeant Jake finds true love, and he leaves the force to go to the U.S. with his bride. 
    • In "Prey," there is a tiger on the loose, or so it seems given how victims are found. But it turns out there is more to it than just a wild animal. And in "Coda," the local mafia chief dies, and underlings are racing to see who can fill the vacuum. Within that, a bank robbery goes wrong, and there is a reason for that too. And DI Thursday faces the passing of time as his children are now adults and making out on their own. Overall, this continues to be a great series, and it manages to keep a feel for the original as well. 
  • Endeavour, Series 4 (Mystery.Crime. Drama). This series starts after the finale of Series 3; it contains four episodes. DI Thursday's daughter has left in light of the trauma of the bank robbery at the end of Series 3, and no one knows where. The 60s are now in full swing, and we get rock and roll, drugs, free love, and religious extremists trying to stop time and progress. Along the way in the episodes, we get bits and pieces of various historical events and references. Also in this season, adding to the mystery and adding a bit of an ominous feeling, episodes end right before the credits with a pair of old hands drawing a single Tarot card.
    • In "Game," a new machine, a computer, is going to play a chess game with a Russian chessmaster and scientist. However, murder is happening, and there may or not be a connection to the computer team. 
    • In "Canticle," The Wildwoods are the latest teen heartthrob band. They are cool. They are hip. They do a good bit of drugs too. They seem to have it all, including the attention of a right wing conservative Christian widow on a crusade for decency, including banning music like The Wildwoods. However she herself may have a skeleton or two in her closet as well. Meanwhile, people start dying connected to the band.  
    • In "Lazaretto," Superintendent Bright suffers from an ulcer and gets hospitalized. His luck that he gets put in bed number 10, which has a reputation that those assigned to it tend to die. Meanwhile, Thursday and Morse have another murder to solve, plus they work to keep a criminal under witness protection alive. But that is the least of the mysteries in this hospital. 
    • In "Harvest," it is the fall equinox. A scientist goes missing in a rural town, a town that so happens to be next to a nuclear power plant. Is there a connection? And Morse gets a job offer to go work at The Met (Metropolitan Police, in London). Oh, and we finally get to see who has been laying out the Tarot cards at the end of the episodes in this series. Overall, a tense but good end to this series.  
  • Endeavour, Series 5 (Mystery. Crime. Drama). This set contains 6 episodes. The late 1960s are in full swing. As a curious detail, some of the episodes end with references to specific historic events, which help you place the time period. Also you get a few other historical references if you pay attention. In this season, a new mob of Black folks, mainly Jamaican, move in to overtake the local mob led by Nero. Meanwhile, Cowley Police Station is getting consolidated, and so the station will be shut down, its officers sent to other assignments. Within that context, we get various murders and mysteries still taking place ranging from old actors to the military to Cold War espionage.  Overall, the series continues to be interesting, enjoyable, and quite engrossing. Unfortunately, Series 6 is coming out in UK in February of 2019, which means it will be quite a while before it gets to the U.S., let alone on DVD. Still, best way to watch this is on DVD with no ads, and you can watch it all at once. In a final note, this series often makes references, some very subtle, to the original series Inspector Morse. I may, while I wait for new episodes, go back and watch Inspector Morse once more.



Booknote: The 50th Law

50 Cent and Robert Greene, The 50th Law. New York: Harper Studio, 2009  ISBN: 978-0-06-177460-7.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: self-help, personal development, celebrity books, biography
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


I saw this book in the returns shelf of my local public library, and I picked it up out  of curiosity. The  book is a self-help/personal development text. Even though 50 Cent is named as author, the book feels more written by Robert Greene who uses 50 Cent's life and experiences as a case study.

At the beginning of the book, Greene explains how he met 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) in 2006. The rapper was a fan of Greene's previous book, The 48 Laws of Power. Greene notes that in talking to the rapper he saw they both had a common way of thinking, looking at what people are really up to. 50 Cent developed his keen sense of looking at the world in the streets; Greene did so by studying history and observing behaviors  in Hollywood, where he had worked. This book then is the result of conversations as well as Greene spending time observing 50 Cent at work and his personal life. From all that, Greene noticed the patterns that would make the 10 chapters of this book.

In the 10 chapters, Greene starts with a quote that may be from 50 Cent or some other famous person. He then tells a story of 50 Cent's life to illustrate the point of a chapter. In addition, Greene adds stories of other famous persons who were also fearless. Then Greene provides some points of advice for readers to develop as well. That is pretty much the basic structure of the book.

In a nutshell, the 50th Law is to lose your fears. Your fears are your prison. Once you learn to lose your fears you will be free, and once you are free, you will gain a  new sense of power to do what you need and wish. This does not mean to be reckless. Along with being fearless you are also observant, and you seek opportunities. But being fearless gives you power of confidence and a sense of urgency  to act  now. Those are the bare basics, and the rest of the book develops the ideas further.

The book overall is interesting. It also displays a bit of an aggressive tone, no doubt reflective of 50 Cent, but that goes well with the overall message. In advising ruthlessness, the authors can seem a bit Machiavellian (and yes, they do quote Machiavelli at one point), but then again, it is a hard world we live in, and you have to stand up for yourself. The stories and examples are interesting as well. However, the book can get a bit repetitive at times; there are only so many  ways to say shed you your fears.

Still, the book is a good read. Of the many self-help/personal development books out there, this is pretty good and better than most. It is accessible and easy to read. Overall, I liked it.

3 out of 5 stars.


* * * * * 

Additional reading notes:


Summing up the book's philosophy:

"In the end, this is a book about a particular philosophy of life that can be summed up as follows-- your fears are a kind of prison that confines you within a limited range of action. The less you fear, the more power you will have and the more fully you will live" (x). 

How the media manipulates fear to get attention. We see this on a daily basis now:

"In the evolution of fear, a decisive moment occurred in the nineteenth century when people in advertising and journalism discovered that if they framed their stories and appeals with fear, they could capture attention. It is an emotion we find hard to resist or control, and so they constantly shifted our focus to new possible sources of anxiety: the latest health scare, the new crime wave, a social faux pas we might be committing, and endless hazards in the environment of which we are not aware. With the increasing sophistication of the media and the visceral quality of the imagery, they have been able to give us the feeling that we are fragile creatures in an environment full of danger-- even though we live in a world infinitely safe, and more predictable than anything our ancestors knew. With their help, our anxieties have only increased" (4). 

Politicians and political parties' operations also deploy fear regularly to get voters "motivated." The catch is fear is not exactly a good "motivator" long term. Fear is not something designed to be on all the time. But it is a great tool for politicians and media without scruples nor ethics to get attention and power. Thus you need to learn to observe and lose your fears so you are not manipulated.

The greatest danger:

"Truth's words apply to you as much as to Fifty: the greatest danger you face is your mind growing soft and your eye getting dull" (32). 

Do not let yourself get complacent, never stop paying attention, and realize you cannot avoid reality.

"Reality has its own power-- you can turn your back on it, but it will find you in the end, and your inability to cope with it will be your ruin. Now is the time to stop drifting and wake up-- to assess yourself, the people around you, and the direction in which you are headed in as cold and brutal a light as possible. Without fear" (33). 

For me, the above also explains a bit why I find it so difficult to disconnect. I feel like I will miss something that may be important. Key is balancing the need to be attentive and alert, vigilant, without succumbing to fear.

Napoleon had a superior grasp on reality, and so should you:

"Your goal is to follow the path of Napoleon. You want to take in as much as possible with your own eyes. You communicate with people up and down the chain of command within your organization. You do not draw any barriers to your social interactions. You want to expand your access to different areas. Force yourself to go to events and places that are beyond your usual circle. If you cannot observe something firsthand, try to get reports that are more direct and less filtered, or vary the sources so you can see things from several sides. Get fingertip feel for everything going on in your environment-- the complete terrain" (40-41). 

You need to get to the root of problems to solve them:

"When you do not get to the root of a problem, you cannot solve it in any meaningful way. People like to look at the surfaces, get all emotional and react, doing things that make them feel better in the short term but do nothing for them in the long term" (41). 

On true ownership:

"True ownership can only come from within. It comes from a disdain for anything or anybody that impinges upon your mobility, from a confidence in your decisions, and from the use of your time in constant pursuit of education and improvement" (55). 

On not just waiting for things:

"The hustler thinks: 'I must make the most of what I have, even the bad stuff, because things are not going to get better on their own. It is foolish to wait; tomorrow may bring even worse shit'" (77). 


On the need for mental flow (plus why most college and university faculty and academics are so myopic):

"Knowledge has once again hardened into rigid categories, with intellectuals shut off in various ghettos. Intelligent people are considered serious by virtue of how deeply they immerse themselves in one field of study, their viewpoint becoming more and more myopic. Someone who crosses these rigid demarcations is inevitably considered a dilettante. After college, we are all encouraged to specialized, to learn one thing and stick to it. We end up strangling ourselves in the narrowness of our interests. With all of these restrictions, knowledge has  no flow to it. Life does not have these categories; they are mere conventions that we mindlessly abide  by" (108-109). 


Like DaVinci, develop and nurture hunger for knowledge:

"You must develop this spirit and the same insatiable hunger for knowledge. This comes from widening your fields of study and observation, letting yourself be carried along by what you discover. You will find that you will come up with unexpected ideas, the kind that will lead to new practices or novel opportunities. If things run dry in your particular line of work, you have developed your mind along other lines that you can now exploit. Having such mental flow will allow you to constantly think around any obstacle and maintain your career momentum" (109). 


A paradox in life:

"By a paradoxical law of human nature, trying to please people less will make them more likely in the long run to respect and treat you better" (132). 


A lesson to heed (this applies to many liberals today who keep wanting to play "nice" and calling for "civility"):

"Think of it as war-- short of unnecessary violence, you are called to do whatever it takes to defeat the enemy. There is no nobility in losing if an injustice is allowed to prevail" (141). 




Friday, February 01, 2019

Booknote: Family Affair

Sam Giancana and Scott M. Burnstein, Family Affair: Greed, Treachery, and Betrayal in the Chicago Mafia. New York: Berkley Books, 2010.  ISBN: 978-0425-22831-9.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: true crime, Mafia, Chicago
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


This book is a collection of stories about the Chicago Mafia, also known as The Outfit. The stories in the book take us from 1986, when the Spilotro brothers were murdered, to the first decade of the 2000s, when Operation Family Secrets closed and led to major convictions of key Chicago Outfit members. The operation was a success largely due to a made man of The Outfit, Nicholas "Nicky Breeze" Calabrese, who turned government witness.

Some readers may know of Tony Spilotro from the film Casino (in the movie, it Joe Pesci's character). Little did the Mafia know his murder would set off a chain of events leading to serious damage to the mob decades later. The book itself is interesting albeit inconsistent. Some stories are more interesting than others. Other stories are just minutiae that adds little to the overall story and feel like filler. Also, this is not a chronological history of the Chicago Outfit. It is more a collection of connected stories that mostly, but not always, follow a sequence.

If you are interested in the topic of the Chicago mob, this book can provide a start. However, you may want to seek out other books to learn more. Overall, I liked it, but it was no big deal.

3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Booknote: Star Trek: Countdown

Roberto Orci, et.al., Star Trek: Countdown. San Diego, CA: IDW, 2015. ISBN: 9781600104206.

Genre: science fiction
Subgenre: Star Trek, graphic novels
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


This trade paperback collects the four prequel comics to the 2009 reboot movie. If it reminds you of Star Trek: Nemesis, it's because these comics take place 8 years after the end of that movie. I am not too keen on how Abrams and company just shoehorn previous material into the new movie to add "authenticity," but it is what it is. The comic itself is pretty good, and you can read it on its own.

In this story, Spock continues his work trying to reconcile Romulus and Vulcan. He is an ambassador and now legal resident on Romulus. Picard is the Federation ambassador. Data, who successfully integrated his personality into the B4 android, now commands the Enterprise- E. Data and his crew look great in this story. I would not mind a few more Captain Data stories. Meanwhile, this comic presents the rise of the villain Nero.

Overall, it  has good art. The story is pretty good and entertaining. It's not great though at times it feels better than the new movie offerings. Fans of the new movies will likely appreciate the new details. As I mentioned, it stands on its own. In the end, I liked it.

3 out of 5 stars. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Reading about the reading life: January 18, 2019 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've been finding a few interesting things recently, so let's have a look.

  • Via The Register-Guard, indie bookstores persevere despite Amazon.
  • Resilience suggests that a local bookstore can enrich your community.The author argues that "if we want our places to be strong, third places like independent bookstores are exactly the kind of investment that our towns should be making. And we should be making them way more often." To that I say it can depend. A good bookstore will probably do well in enriching a community. A not so good one, such as a certain independent used store in a town I used to live that was nothing more than a dumping ground of old Harlequins and such, will probably be detrimental. 
  • The Portland Mercury reports that a Japanese bookstore chain is opening up a branch in downtown Portland. According to the article, "The 5,140-square-foot space "will carry carefully selected books, unique merchandise and Japanese stationery, with a focus on art and comics from Japan which have been strengths in our existing stores," says Kinokuniya's press release. "We will also collaborate with a beloved local Japanese cafe to provide a space for both Portland locals and tourists to relax and drink authentic Japanese tea." It does sound neat.
  • Meanwhile, via Hornet, in what some consider the end of an era, the adult bookstore Circus of Books in West Hollywood, CA is closing down.
  • Sounds the trumpets! A bookstore finally sold a book that sat on its shelves for over 27 years. Story via My Modern Met.
  • A Scottish bookseller chronicles a year of his life as a bookseller. The Chicago Tribune's Biblioracle reviews The Diary of a Bookseller. Sounds like a book for me to add to my ever growing TBR list. On a side note, the Biblioracle (John Warner) does a form of reader's advisory where he gives you a list  of what to read based on the last five books you have read. I have not tried it, but if you have, feel free to let me know how that works out. 
  • Apparently there is a "Blurbing Industrial Complex," and this article from The Millions argues that it needs to be destroyed. How bad is it? "Further, a nuclear arms race in blurbing is building." Maybe a blurb worked for someone like Walt Whitman, as suggested in the article, but I have to ask just how many people today pick up a new book today and make their decision to read it or not based on a blurb? I do not recall in recent memory having a blurb spur a decision to read and/or acquire a book. If any out there care to comment, let me know, do blurbs in books encourage you or not to read and/or buy a book? Do you even care?
  • This is not the first place I've seen this story but it has been picking traction recently: the idea that romance novels can save straight sex, as if they are somehow a panacea that people have failed to notice. By the way, I will note that yes, I have read romance novels, including the one I had to read in one of my reader's advisory courses in library school. I also read and review some erotica (which I prefer way better than romance fiction, but I will not digress here). Via Electric Lit
  • Via the BBC, a history of the library of forbidden books. "From 1976 until his death in 2013, Georg P Salzmann collected about 12,000 books that had been banned – and burnt – by the Nazis for being ‘un-German’." This collection is now recently made open to the public. A video story is included. 
  • Puerto Rican newspaper Claridad does a profile of local independent book publisher Editorial Aguadulce (Spanish language story) and looks at book publishing in the island.

Finally for this week, a bookish edition of

Great Debates of Our Time



This week: is it better to read a book in print or listen to it as an audiobook. Question posed at Boing Boing. Feel free to comment.



Booknote: El Amor, Las Mujeres, y La Vida

Mario Benedetti, El Amor, Las Mujeres, y La Vida. Madrid: Alfaguara, 2004. ISBN: 84-204-8213-7.

Genre: poetry
Subgenre: love poetry, Spanish language
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


This is a poetry collection where Benedetti's poems emphasize women, love, and life. These are poems with a love theme mostly. The book's title is inspired by Arthur Schopenhauer's El amor, las mujeres, y la muerte. In his prologue. Benedetti says he first read the German philosopher as a teenager. He once more reread the philosopher's work recently in his 60s. Benedetti concludes that women and love are closer to life than death, thus Benedetti's title. Benedetti also writes that this anthology has been building up over 50 years and draws poems from his two Inventarios collections. The book contains a prologue and 100 poems.

The poems vary in length and structure. They are mostly free verse poems. The poems can be light, amusing, serious, profound, deep, passionate, so on. Some poems you can read quickly, and  others you need to take your time and savor. The quality of the poems can vary; I felt some were better than others.

Some of my favorite poems include:
  • "Es tan poco."
  • "La secretaria ideal."
Overall, I liked this poetry collection. If you enjoy Benedetti's work, you'll want to read this though keep in mind you may have read some poems before. If you have not read the author before, this book provides a good sampling.

3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 11, 2019

My Reading List for 2018

Welcome to my 2018 Reading List. I have moved this post to this blog from the professional blog since I got that one on hiatus. To be honest, I am in no rush to re-open A Simple Scholarly Librarian any time soon. The library world drama is still there and will be there no matter when I go back to that blog or not, and work continues to keep me busy doing more practical things that pondering some critical theory, abstract mind exercises, or the latest fuckery some patron or librarian did. On the positive, I am hoping to increase my professional reading a bit more, though I am not sure I will blog about it or not. We'll see how that goes. As I said last year, I have just found other things to be more interesting and that make me happy overall.

Over here at The Itinerant Librarian I continue doing book reviews. It is something I enjoy. It is a good way to keep track and recall what I read, and it is my small measure of reader's advisory and a way to give back to my four blog readers. As I said at the end of 2017, I wanted to add more bookish content to this blog. I managed to do a bit of that last year, and I hope to continue into 2019. For this year, I would like to try doing an editorial calendar for this blog to see if I can keep the content more consistent. At least use it to plan some semi-regular features in addition to reviews.

Speaking of book reviews, 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. I am also a Tarot and oracle card reader and collector, so if you are an author, editor, and publisher of a deck and/or book on this subject, feel free to pitch it my way. If you want to see a sampling of what I have reviewed in that area, you can check the "Tarot" tag on this blog (right side column).

On another positive note, I reached six years working at Hutchins Library, Berea College. This is the longest now I have remained in a professional librarian position. As I mentioned, they do keep me busy, and I am often learning new things. Sure, not everything is roses and rainbows; administrivia is one of the things I dislike, but way I see it I have to do some things I like less to get to do the things I do like. Such is life. Once in a while I learn something new or experience a small epiphany, though not big enough or urgent enough I feel a need to blog about it. At any rate, here is to hoping for another six years at least.

The big highlight in blogging, if we can call it that, was the whole Tumblr debacle at the end of 2018. First Yahoo! bought them out, and you could see the first indications things would go downhill. Once Verizon bought Yahoo!, the writing was on the wall. It was just a matter of time until they fucked it up, and sure enough, they did. I had a Tumblr blog I opened back in the days when Library 2.0 was still a thing, as yet another experiment on what was then a new site to me. I did use it somewhat, had some fun with it. However, the censorship is just not right. It got so ridiculous that they started flagging some of my posts which were not even explicit at all. I did not feel like wasting my time trying to appeal, so I did what many others have done: I backed up the content, then also exported it someplace else, and shut down the Tumblr account. I guess it was nice while it lasted. If nothing else, a small positive, is that having to close down my Tumblr gave me an incentive to see what other options are out there, so I will be experimenting a bit more in the near future. Meanwhile, if interested, you can find Alchemical Annex in its new home over at Wordpress. The export laid out the content in the template you see. I have not really reviewed it in full, nor added anything new. As soon as I have time to explore more, I will probably get back to adding new things in it.

Let's move on to the reading part. Like last year, without even counting, I can already tell I read less books in 2018. 2018 was no better in terms of the "Hard Times," and that can wreak havoc with your mood to read. My moratorium on reading anything related to politics, social issues, activist topics, and/or most current events went pretty well. I only briefly broke it in November to read that one book by the folks at The Daily Show. I will continue the moratorium into 2019. I find it helps my mental health to just avoid those topics. There are plenty of people reading those books already and adding to the noise, so I can do without it. I am keeping my reading as escapist and recreational as possible.

So, to sum up where we are as we start 2019:
Related image


Another reason I have been reading less is that I continue to enjoy my study and learning of Tarot and oracle cards. In fact, I have been hoping to turn my commonplace blog, Alchemical Thoughts, into a bit more of a Tarot/oracle blog, or at least use that blog to create more content in that area. The small responses I've gotten to that content have been positive, so it is something I will keep exploring in 2019. I am also still posting my daily card draw and the daily underneath/shadow card on Twitter. Last year, I mentioned I would consider trying out Instagram. However, I did try it out, and I just do not like that it is an app only site where you have to use you mobile device to post anything or make content. My mobile phone, nice as it is, is just not robust enough to post and edit content. I honestly do not see how people do it, but to each their own. Speaking of Tarot, Ethony Dawn has once again put down the gauntlet for the "31 Days of Tarot" (social media hashtag: #31daysoftarot19). It is mainly a YouTube challenge, but since I do not use YouTube to make videos I do the prompts over at Alchemical Thoughts, which I used to crosspost on Tumblr, but that is not an option for 2019. I will crosspost to Alchemical Annex instead. I am already running a couple of days behind, so I will catch up when I can. In terms of reading books, a bit more Tarot and oracle means a bit less reading other books, and I am at peace with that.

One last reason for me reading less is a bit more simple: I am watching more movies and other videos more. I have been checking out DVDs from my local public library, and I have been watching things I can stream online, mainly for free. TubiTv.com has been a nice discovery. It is a bit of random fun since you can find either a rare gem or some serious dreck, but overall has been good. There are some other free streaming options I have tried out, but they just do not work as well. Anyhow, if you want to check out what I've been watching, I do a monthly roundup at the beginning of a month for the previous month. You can find these under the "film and television" tag in this blog (right side column).

Let's get on with it and look at what and how I read in 2018. After the list, you will find my comments and remarks. Note that books with an asterisk (*) are rereads.

January:
  • Hannah Dolan, The LEGO Movie: The Essential Guide
  • Library of Congress, The Card Catalog.
  • John Barber, Transformers: IDW Collection, Phase Two, Volume 6

February:

  • Jim Davis, Odie Unleashed! Garfield Let's the Dog Out.
  • Darby Conley, Clean Up on Aisle Stupid
  • Simon Furman, et.al., Transformers: Spotlight Omnibus, Volume 1
  • Stephen Jones, ed., The Mammoth Book of Dracula
  • Joshua Kendall, The Man Who Made Lists
  • Joe Strike, Furry Nation
  • Matt Kindt, X-O Manowar, Volume 3: Emperor
  • Mario Puzo, The Godfather (audio edition).*
  • Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs
  • Colin D. Campbell, Thelema: an Introduction to the Life, Work, and Philosophy of Aleister Crowley
 March:
  • Hillary Thompson, et.al., The Infographic Guide to the Bible: the Old Testament.
  • Roger Clarke, Ghosts: a Natural History.
  • Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate: What's a Little Noogie Between Friends?
  • Scott Snyder, Batman/The Shadow: the Murder Geniuses
  • Ciro Marchetti, Legacy of the Divine Tarot (Tarot books and deck kit).
  • Curtis Saxton, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross Sections
  • Christoph Ribbat, In the Restaurant.

April:

  • Max Bemis, Centipede, Volume 1
  • Rachel Pollack, The New Tarot Handbook
  • Stephan Talty, The Black Hand
  • Howie Abrams, The Merciless Book of Metal Lists.
  • Celeste Olalquiaga, The Artificial Kingdom: a Treasury of the Kitsch Experience.
  • Bill Samuels, Jr., Maker's Mark: My Autobiography.
  • Kris Wilson, Cyanide Happiness: Stab Factory.
  • Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike.

May:

  • Terry Donaldson, The Tarot Spellcaster
  • Benjamin Radford, Bad Clowns.
  • Jason Fry, Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross Sections.

June:

  • Jim Davis, Garfield Souped Up: his 57th Book.*
  • Jim Davis, Garfield Goes to his Happy Place: his 58th Book.
  • Jim Davis, Garfield Cleans his Plate: his 60th Book.
  • Jim Davis, Garfield Cooks Up Trouble: his 63rd Book
  • Loren Rhoads, 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die.
  • Jim Marrs, The Rise of the Fourth Reich: The Secret Societies that Threaten to Take Over America (audiobook edition). 
  • Philip Carlo, Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss (audiobook edition). 
  • Mario Puzo, The Making of The Godfather (audiobook edition).
  • Landry Q. Walker, Star Wars: Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Way, Volume 1: Aliens.
  • Mark Jacobson, American Gangster and Other Tales of New York (audiobook edition).
  • Nancy C. Antenucci, Psychic Tarot.
  • Daniel Lipkowitz, LEGO Star Wars: The Dark Side.

July:

  • Greg Farshtey, LEGO Ninjago 9: Night of the Nindroids
  • Bathroom Readers Institute, Uncle John's Old Faithful: 30th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.
  • Lydia Kang, Quackery: a Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything.
  • Jerry Clark and Ed Palattella, Pizza Bomber
  • Jen Altman, The Circadian Tarot: a Daily Companion for Divination and Illumination.

August:

  • Jacob Lambert, Don't Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile
  • Jennifer B. Bodine, Trains: Photography of A. Aubrey Bodine.
  • William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (audiobook edition). 
  • Mario Benedetti, El amor, las mujeres, y la vida.
  • Joseph Bulgatz, Imagined Agencies
  • Roberto Orci et.al., Star Trek: Countdown.  
  • Sam Giancana and Scott Burnstein, Family Affair: Greed, Treachery, and Betrayal in the Chicago Mafia.

September:

  • 50 Cent and Robert Greene, The 50th Law
  • Mike Lee, Fallen Angels (Horus Heresy #11). 

October:

  • William Lynwood Montell, Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes.
  • James Swallow, Sisters of Battle Omnibus (Warhammer 40,000).
  • Thomas Andrews, et.al., Star Wars Omnibus: Boba Fett

November:

  • Jonathan J. Moore, Secret Societies and Crazy Cults
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library.
  • Maryanne Wolf, Reader, Come Home.
  • Jim Davis, Garfield Feeds His Face: his 64th Book
  • Frank Lowe, ed., Raised by Unicorns: Stories of Children with LGBTQ+ Parents.
  • Joel M. Hoffman, The Bible's Cutting Room.

December:

  • Sarah Knight, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck. (audiobook edition)
  • Jim Davis, Garfield Eats and Runs: His 65th Book.
  • Anthony Bourdain, et.al., Anthony Bourdain's Hungry Ghosts.
  •  Roseanne Montillo, The Wilderness of Ruin
  • Kieron Gillen, et.al., Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 1: Vader.
  • Kieron Gillen, et.al., Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 2: Shadows and Secrets.
  • Kieron Gillen, et.al., Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 3: The Shu-Torun War.
  • Kieron Gillen, et.al., Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 4: End of Games.



Here are the numbers:

Number of books read in 2018: 74, including 2 rereads.




  • Sure enough. I did read a bit less this year. However, 10 books less does not seem so bad. 
  • I continue to use GoodReads to track what I read. I strictly use it to mark a book as read, the dates, and the five star ratings. I do not add any additional content; I save my reviews for my blog. However, if someone requests I post a review on GoodReads, I would probably do so in a brief version, keeping the main review for the blog. 
  • I re-read two books this year. One of them was The Godfather, which I read as an audiobook this year. Puzo's novel is one of my all time favorite books, and one of those books I will pick up when I need a little comfort and escapist reading. I did miss re-reading Batman: The Long Halloween, which I usually try to read sometime in October, as close to Halloween as possible. Things were just too busy. Heck, I barely noticed when Halloween arrived. Then Thanksgiving was here before I knew it, and boom, Christmas and New Year's holidays. Time seriously flew this time. I'll just take another shot at it next October.
  • I did not do any reading challenges in 2018. I decided to take a break from those last year. I may do one or two this year. As of this post, I am still deciding which ones and if I will do any reading challenges in 2019. If I do decide to do any, I will post the sign up and opening posts in this blog during January 2019.
  • Best reading month: June, with 12 books read.
  • Worst reading month: September, with 2 books read. 
  • Books read in print: 58.
  • Books read as e-books, including NetGalley and/or Edelweiss: 9, all on NetGalley. None read via Edelweiss. I just find Edelweiss too cumbersome to use. NetGalley is just much more user friendly.
  • Audiobooks: 7. I am finding that I am enjoying e-books more, especially for nonfiction. Except for one, these audiobooks came via my public library's Overdrive system, so they were audio e-books.
  • Fiction (does not include graphic novels, comics, nor manga): 8. Not much fiction, though some of the fiction I read was in the form of omnibus books and such, which often contain more than one novel and/or short fiction. Those tend to take me a bit longer to read.
  • Nonfiction: 41
  • Graphic novels (includes comics and graphic novels, but not manga): 25
  • Manga: 0. I have bought a few for my collection in 2018, but I did not get around to reading them. 
  • Library books read: 
    • Madison County (KY) Public Library: 55, including audiobooks
    • Hutchins Library (where I work): 0
    • Interlibrary Loan (ILL):1 via Hutchins Library. Fallen Angels came from the King County Library System, Washington State.
  • Books read that I own (or that another member of the family owns, and I borrowed to read):  8
  • Other numbers of interest:












Booknote: The Circadian Tarot

Jenifer Attman, The Circadian Tarot: a Daily Companion for Divination and Illumination. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4521-4195-4.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: art, Tarot, divination
Format: small hardcover
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library


The publisher describes this book as a "complete deck in book form." I can't help but wonder if making a deck and companion book would have worked better for some folks. Still, the book is nice to read and look over.

The book offers card meanings written by Jen Attman. The text for each card is mainly positive and affirming. Michelle Blade offers the art for the cards. The art style can be described as ethereal and surreal. Sometimes the art may be a bit too abstract; on some art pieces, I am not even sure how they relate to a particular card.

The book is designed to be a daily companion. Flip through the pages to find a message for the day. It makes a nice bedside book. Overall, I liked it.

3 out of 5 stars.