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Review Policy

March 15, 2012

I am particularly interested in books in the following categories:

  • Historical fiction
  • Foodie lit or foodie memoir
  • Historical mystery or forensic-based mystery
  • Extremely well-written YA  genre fiction (no vampire romance or dystopia, please!)

If I request a specific title, I will do my best to review it in a timely manner. I will review books outside of the above criteria at my discretion.

Thank you so much for keeping me Surrounded By Books

– Elizabeth

Reviews of #TheLibrarians for Cosplay, Comics & Geek Culture

January 21, 2015
The Librarians Post

Just to bring my blog up to speed on the writing projects I’ve done elsewhere on the web. I’ve been writing about The Librarians for a terrific new blog, Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries. The blog, the brainchild of Ellyssa Kroski, is full of really fun, interesting ideas and you should go check it out. (See what I did there? Ahem. Moving on.)

The Librarians: Recap of the Series So Far. This overview covers the first five episodes, from the pilot through “The Librarians and the Apple of Discord.” Originally posted January 6, 2015.

The Librarians and the Fables of Doom: Episode Review. This recap and review includes a commentary on Twitter reactions to the series, and a thematic reading list. Originally posted January 9th, 2015.

The Librarians and the Rule of Three: Episode Review. A recap and review that includes Arthurian legend, science experiments, witchcraft, a thematic reading list, and absolutely no mention of “She Blinded Me With Science.” Originally posted January 14th, 2015.

The Librarians and the Heart of Darkness: Episode Review. The Librarians take on a creepy haunted house. Recap and review includes a suitably scary reading list. Originally posted January 14, 2015.

The Librarians and The City of Light: Episode Review. Recap of an episode that features some of my favorite things: aliens, archives, a historical mystery, and the reminder that I should really read more about Tesla. Originally posted January 21st, 2015.

The Librarians and The Loom of Fate: Episode Review. The recap and review of the series finale, which tied up many of the threads of the series so far. It left enough questions answered that I, like many of the fans talking about the series on #TheLibrarians Twitter hashtag, am hoping for a second season. Originally posted January 21, 2015.

And there we are. Thanks again to the cast and crew of The Librarians for creating such a fun show, and thanks to Ellyssa and CCGC Libraries for giving me the chance to blog about it.


Booking Through Thursday: Weeding

January 8, 2015

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks a question near and dear to my wannabe-librarian heart:

Do you ever weed out unwanted books from your library? And if so, what do you do with them?

Last semester, I took a terrific class in Collection Development. Possibly one of my favorite classes of my entire Library Science Masters program, both for the sake of the information it imparted, and because the professor was an utter delight. Weeding was the topic of my final class presentation.

My weeding policy is fairly simple.

  • Don’t let the wrong books in, in the first place. I try to be judicious and realistic about buying books or requesting review copies. Sometimes, unsolicited review copies come in. I have a pile of Giveaway Books. Some review copies go straight in that pile.
  • When I get large amounts of new books all at once, such as books from the Book Expo or from a mystery bookstore, I tend to group them together on the shelf. A few months after the event in question, and then periodically a few months after that, it’s time to decide whether I’m going to read those books or whether they’re destined for the Giveaway Pile.
  • I need to remember that I’m unlikely to read the books where relationship betrayals are front and center, driving the plot, especially those in a contemporary setting. Literary fiction, contemporary women’s fiction. I might read it on a whim, but it’s unlikely. Giveaway Pile!
  • Ditto mysteries that are unexpectedly bleak or violent. If a sexual crime, or grotesque descriptions of internal organs are a main part of the murder scenes… Or if the characters are focused as much on distrust and vicious arguments, as they are on solving the crime, Giveaway Pile!

Where do the books consigned to the giveaway pile go?

Hardcover books in good condition go to the Strand.

Paperbacks and books marked as review copies go to book swaps, whether I bring them to Emily’s annual Swap (yay Emily!) or hand them off more informally to friends. Every book has its reader. I’m lucky to know a voracious and varied bunch of readers, some of whom are willing to take books off my hands.


Book Review: Delicious!

January 4, 2015

Ruth Reichl
Random House, 2014
Source: Gift from my Aunt Ruthanne

Aunt Ruthanne recommended this book, and even gave me a copy as a present. Thank you, Aunt Ruthanne! You were right: it’s perfect!

I loved this book. I tore through it, tried to slow down to savor it properly. Couldn’t. Stayed up far too late finishing it last night. I have absolutely no regrets. Okay, one regret, one that happens every time I read an excellent foodie novel: I wish the characters were real people, ideally, real people who were friends with me… so they could cook me the foods Reichl describes so beautifully in her wonderful prose. From gingerbread to gnocchi to pig’s ears. Yes. (I might have been drooling on the pages. Slightly.)

Delicious! has everything I love best about a good foodie book, all rolled into one. It combines cooking, warm, eccentric characters, New York, historical mystery, even libraries. I might have to go back and reread. Possibly immediately.

The story in brief: Billie was born with an amazing palate, the gift to pick apart the flavors in anything she tasted. (Reichl’s prose describing these tastes was beautifully constructed and vivid.) Almost everyone who meets her thinks she should be a chef, but the idea gives her a panic attack. The closest she’s willing to come is working for a foodie magazine called Delicious. It’s an ensemble cast of eccentrics: Vile-tempered Maggie the chef, Sal, the proprietor of a downtown Italian market I wish existed. Sammy, the globe-trotting correspondent who takes Billie under his wing.

Oh, and if I wanted the book to be any more perfect… there’s a library with a truly screwball cataloging system. Yes, it’s a foodie novel with gorgeous prose and eccentric characters, set in New York. And there’s a library. And an archival puzzle to solve. It was sweet. funny, goofy, and beautifully written.

Like I said: perfect.

I might be short on sleep, but it’s totally worth it. I’m extremely pleased to have started the year with this book.

Might even reread it.


No Buying Books: Place Your Bets and Win a Book

January 3, 2015

As 2014 drew to a close, I resolved that I would not purchase books in 2015. Instead, I resolve to spend this year reading books I already own, reviewing advance review copies, and, of course, using my library card. Borrowing books from friends or picking up free books at swap events.

I resolve not to spend money acquiring books for myself. No brand new books ordered online. At the bookstore? Browsing only, wallet firmly tucked away. No gently used books purchased at the Strand. No e-books charged to my credit card.

Two points of clarification: Overdue fines from the library do not count. Nor do books purchased as gifts for others.  (Just because I’m being resolute, doesn’t mean birthdays and Father’s Day and such should be limited to mediocre, non-book presents.)

Can it be done by a voracious reader? Is it too ambitious? Will I crack by March?

Gentle readers… you tell me!

I invite you to place your bets, and enter a book giveaway!

The Rules:

  1. Leave a comment to specify a date of 2015 on which you think I will break my resolution and purchase a book.
  2. The person whose guess comes closest will win a book, selected and sent by me!
  3. Only U.S. residents are eligible to win. No international shipping.
  4. Your prize will be randomly selected by me, and may be an ARC, galley, or used book, may be YA or genre fiction or nonfiction.
  5. No more than two winners will be selected. (If more people select the same winning date, two will be randomly selected.)
  6. I pledge to be honest about my book purchasing.

I think that covers everything. Place your bets! I’m off to read a book I already own.

Resolution for 2015: No Buying Books

December 29, 2014

Idly pondering resolutions for the New Year, it occurs to me: I own a lot of books I haven’t read yet. Books I’ve been meaning to read. Books I’ve been meaning to review! This leaves me wondering how long I could last if I resolved not to buy books in 2015.

Here it is, after Christmas, and I’m settling back into my space after a restful week at home. Putting a few books I’d intended to read back onto my (admittedly crowded) bookshelves. Setting my Kindle and its complement of unread books back onto the nightstand.

Just off the top of my head, I know there are collections of books that have made their way through the door, interesting and often unanticipated, but, as yet, unread.

Books from a trip to Scotland I took in 2011.

Books from the Book Expo in 2013 and 2014

Books from Book Swaps of 2013 and 2014

Granted, I have been disciplined enough to realize that some of the books acquired above weren’t, realistically, going to get read, so out the door they went to book swaps and other potential readers. But, even so. A rough estimate puts the number of unread books I currently own at something like 80.  And that’s not counting the books that nice publishers and publicists mail me to review.

Now, in a busy year (grad school!) I average between 50 and 70 books. Grad school is over, the hunt for a library job is on. Something tells me that, between sending out cover letters and resumes, and tackling some other volunteer projects I’ve been saving for “when I have time,” I might get some reading done.

Will I be able to confine myself to books I own, review copies, and books from the library? Place your bets.




The Librarians Liveblog: Here Be Dragons?

December 28, 2014

Last week, I promised myself I’d blog about something other than The Librarians this week, because I really do, honestly, want to get back to proper book reviewing and library blogging and the like. But: Christmas! Travel! Family! How is it Sunday already? Oh, hey, it’s Sunday. Time to see what this week has in store for The Librarians. 

The teaser promised dragons! And a reappearance of Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle, the Librarian of the earlier TV movies.)!

And the treasure of the week is sending them to the Vatican! We’re off to a promising start.

Here is The Librarians’ take on dragons. There are East and West Dragons, and they are very different, with an uneasy truce between them. “Sort of like East Coast and West Coast hip hop!” said Jenkins, the grumpy old-school Librarian character. I think I was not the only one who spluttered when he referenced Eric B. & Rakim.

Dragons like puzzles, so there are plenty of puzzles for the team to work together to solve. Jake Stone’s art/history knowledge, Cassandra’s acumen with math and puzzles, Eve Baird’s fighting badassery… They need to go track down, possibly steal, a pearl for the dragons. So, they need Ezekiel’s thievery skills.

Oh wait.  Thanks to some poor timing (and hunger) leading to Ezekiel the thief having to play arbiter with the Emissary of the dragons (“a dragon in a man suit” “Well, he is a lawyer.”) Ezekiel’s confined to the library for this one.

So, we’ve got the story split between Ezekiel and Jenkins working as arbiters for an enclave of mythical personifications, and the rest of the librarians, including The Founding Librarian (hi Noah Wyle!) tracking down the dragons’ pearl.

Which turns out to be a highly entertaining nod to the Apple of Discord from mythology. The power of the Apple of Discord turns the one who holds it evil, and makes them get up to all kinds of mischief.

I really, really like that as a character development tool. In fact, even as I’m giggling and Tweeting my way through every episode, that’s something I’ve been appreciating throughout. For a goofy adventure-cheese show (including things like breaking into museums, dragons in people-suits, arrow booby-traps), The Librarians has been consistently strong in character development. For a genre show like this, it would be tempting to let each episode be self-contained and reset characters back to 0 from week to week. But, in just a few short weeks, they’re covering a lot of ground, in both developing each character and building the relationships as an ensemble cast.

For example, in this week’s episode, I think we saw every member of the core team reveal something, whether letting loose their evil side in a monologue thanks to the Apple of Discord… I’m not sure who my favorite evil version was, honestly! They were all pretty campy/comically villainous when in the Apple’s thrall.

My one complaint is that everyone chewing the scenery in his or her evil turn talked really too fast for someone with one eye on Twitter hashtags to track properly. Bah.

Clearly going to need to rewatch all of these. Oh the hardship.

Oh wait, now that we’ve come to the end of the episode, I have a further complaint: Not nearly enough actual dragons appear on screen. We get an eye, we get some roaring. But for those hoping for Life Size Actual Dragon Battling… not so much.

Spoilers/specifics hidden behind cut. Read more…

The Librarians Liveblog: Christmas Episode

December 21, 2014

The teaser for this week promised two things that will make tonight’s episode of The Librarians even more fun: A Christmas-themed episode, and Bruce Campbell.

I have adjourned to my parents’ house for the holidays. Presents are wrapped. (Give books, they’re nice tidy rectangles!) We’ll trim the tree tomorrow. I’m feeling festive and ready to appreciate whatever adventure The Librarians have in store. My parents will be joining me, and probably adding their commentary. (Snark runs in the family.) Mom and Dad, meet @cincylibrary and the rest of the Tweeps who make #TheLibrarians hashtag such a delight.

Some Christmasy library trivia to get things started.

The Dewey Decimal number most often used for The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore is 811.2 (American poetry–1776-1829).

While I did look up Christmas in the Library of Congress Subject Headings manual and explored hierarchies in Classification Web, I suspect the subject hierarchy of Christmas is possibly only interesting to someone who’s just taken Cataloging (and then, only barely.) If you’re desperately curious about the subject headings for holidays in general, and Christmas in particular, leave me a comment.

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Bruce Campbell.

First commercial break, there’s been Cockney rhyming slang that I wish I could rewind and get and I have shrieked with laughter at least four times.

Update: There is a Cockney rhyming slang dictionary. The NYPL’s ones are for in library-use only. Cincy Library, quick on the Twitter, found a book on British accents and Cockney slang. Whoever’s running their social media is my public services librarian role model.

Dad, a huge Eureka fan, didn’t recognize Matt Frewer, who’d played Taggart on Eureka. Feeling a bit superior at the moment.

About halfway through the episode… Dad has muttered that the entire thing makes no sense. I, attempting to recap it… may be forced to agree.

Santa’s been kidnapped and then rescued, the Serpent Brotherhood is an excellent campy collection of ongoing big bads. Santa’s hat causes outbreaks of Holiday Spirit.  There’s peril, there’s high speed chases, there’s no bar fight.

Various good lines:

“Somebody jacked Santa’s ride!”

“Oh my shiny balls, yes!” (John Larroquette having too much fun as Grumpy Librarian.)

“Kill Santa? That’s one way to end up on the naughty list!”

“I don’t get out the katana to murder just anybody, cowboy”

Spoilers and liveblog behind cut.

Read more…


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