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review 2018-11-05 19:21
The Reader / Traci Chee
The Reader - Traci Chee

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

 

Librarians, pirates, and assassins, oh my! Once again, I am charmed by a young-adult author.

I loved the magic of reading & literature—quite literally in this story. Sefia, our young female main character, has inherited a Book, her only legacy from her beloved parents. Somehow, Chee makes it seem not only likely, but inevitable, that Sefia would teach herself to read this book and then use it to see the past and explore the present. Her pursuit of the truth about the Book and the loss of her parents & her aunt, lead her to follow a criminal outfit and she eventually rescues a young man who they have been forcing to fight other youngsters to the death for some obscure purpose. He is so traumatized that he is unable to speak, but his fighting prowess leads Sefia to name him Archer.

Chee writes a very egalitarian world without making a big deal about it. For those of us who grew up with fantasy where we had to have a sex change to identify with most of the characters because they were almost all male, this is a very disorientating experience! To read about an assassin, and suddenly realize, wait this is a woman! Same on board the pirate ship—there’s a ship’s boy, but also a ship’s girl, not to mention numerous female crew members. It’s all written matter of factly, and I found myself running face first into my own assumptions on a regular basis. What a pleasant change!

There is the inevitable romance between Sefia and her rescuee, Archer, but it didn’t overwhelm the main plot and was gently developed. I will be pleased to follow their story further in The Speaker.

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text 2018-09-27 20:55
Reading progress update: I've read 114 out of 288 pages.
The Librarians and The Lost Lamp - Greg Cox

 

 

This should be so much better than it is!

 

Genevieve Cogman, you have spoiled me with your Invisible Library series.  This book is pretty dull by comparison.

 

 

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review 2018-09-17 22:28
Killer Librarian / Mary Lou Kirwin
Killer Librarian (Thorndike Press Large Print Mystery Series) - Mary Lou Kirwin

Champion of the mystery section at a small-town Minnesota library, Karen Nash is about to embark on a dream trip to London, a literary tour inspired by every murderous intrigue, wily suspect, and ingenious crime found in the pages of the British mysteries that she devours. But she's clueless why the love of her mid-life, Dave, would dump her hours before takeoff, until she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm! She decides the best revenge (for now) is to get on that plane anyway . . . and entertain schemes for Dave's untimely demise while crossing the pond.
After touching ground in the hallowed homeland of Christie, Sayers, and Peters, she checks into a cozy B & B run by charming bibliophile Caldwell Perkins. Soon she's spilling tears in her pint at the corner pub, sharing her heartbreak saga with a stranger. That night, a B & B guest drops out of circulation permanently. And when Dave and his cutie turn up in London, Karen realizes they are an assassin's target. With the meticulous attention to detail that makes her a killer librarian, Karen sleuths her way through her own real-life mystery in which library science meets the art of murder.

 

I read this book for the Cozy Mystery square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I’m not usually a tremendous fan of the cozy mystery genre—I tend to like things a bit darker and more threatening--but I was charmed by this librarian-reluctantly-turned-sleuth tale that also incorporated a gentle romance.

Karen Nash is a successful librarian who has always dreamed of visiting England, the land of all of her favourite authors. She has carefully planned her upcoming vacation, trying to indulge her passion for literature while not boring her plumber boyfriend Dave. But the course of true love never did run smooth and Dave dumps Karen just days before they are to embark on this adventure. What’s a girl to do? Karen buys her own plane ticket and goes anyway, finding at the airport that Dave has replaced her with a younger woman. Understandably angry, Karen conceals herself as best she can on the flight, then follows the couple upon landing in London.

Who hasn’t been dumped and fantasized about taking revenge on the former object of our affection? Karen books into her B&B and is pleased to find that the owner loves books as much as she does. When she goes looking for some juice in the middle of her first night, she stumbles over the body of a fellow customer, complicating her situation.

The remainder of the book deals with meeting the other denizens of the B&B, being touristy in London, causing trouble for the disloyal Dave, pursuing the new man in her life, plus solving the murder mystery. A very full schedule. Karen is a woman after my own heart, a planner, a reader, and a very competent woman.

Perfect if you want a warm, fuzzy reading experience with a very gentle mystery attached to it. Truly, the story is much more about Karen and how she sorts out her life after it’s been shaken up. Very enjoyable.

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review 2018-03-26 16:59
Dear Fahrenheit 451 / Annie Spence
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks - Annie Spence

A Gen-X librarian's snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.

Librarians spend their lives weeding--not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations.

 

I read this book to fill a Book Riot Reader Harder challenge (a book of essays). I can’t help but feel that I *should* have liked this book much more than I did. I suspect it’s not the author, it’s me. I’m a bit too old to appreciate the author's sense of humour fully, being on the cusp between the Baby Boomers and Gen-X. Still, her essays are letters written to books found while weeding the library and that should be right up my alley.

I did like the book. Three stars is not a bad rating in my opinion. I think the author would be fun to have a drink with and discuss all the weird things that one finds in the library stacks. I’m always amazed, as a library cataloguer, what our librarians choose to add to the collection and what I find while I’m looking for something else.

I was heartened that I had read or at least heard of many of the books mentioned (and some still lurk in my TBR pile).

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review 2018-03-12 14:27
The Librarian of Auschwitz / Antonio Iturbe
The Librarian of Auschwitz - Antonio G. Iturbe,Lilit Zekulin Thwaites

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

 

I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but I must admit that I was hoping for more. The story itself is fascinating and that’s what kept me reading. The writing was pedestrian, which was a disappointment. Still, I would recommend the book to those looking for an inspirational story concerning Auschwitz.

The narrative closely follows Dita Kraus, a 14 year old girl in the Auschwitz family camp and her experiences as the keeper and protector of eight forbidden books. I was interested that one of them was a history text by H.G. Wells, as I have been cataloguing a large collection of Wells’ writing during my work hours. I was also glad to see that they had several people that they designated as “living books” because they could tell certain stories (one woman could recount The Count of Monte Cristo). The concept of living books has recently been used at our city’s public library, so I was thrilled to see an example of the history of the practice.

If this time period and setting are interests of yours, I would recommend this book.

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