Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mountain of Black Glass (Otherland: 3)

by Tad Williams
(1999 | 689 p)

In "Mountain of Black Glass," book three in Tad Williams' "Otherland" tetrology, the sci-fi saga continues.

An overly simplified summation of a very complicated plot:
Children around the world are being lost to unexplained comas, including Renie Sulaweyo's baby brother, Stephen. Researching Stephen's condition leads Renie to the Otherland, a massively complex virtual reality network. Its architects? A secretive group who refer to themselves as the Grail Brotherhood. In an attempt to save Stephen, Renie and her friend, !Xabbu, find a way into this exclusive network. Once there they discover others who are on similar quests. But in an even more nightmarish twist our adventurers soon learn that they are stuck on the network – and although the environments are simulated, the dangers are all too real.

Which brings us to book three:
Renie, Orlando, Jonas and their companions are still adrift in the seemingly endless simulations that compose the Otherland. The members of this mismatched group, fractured early on in the series, are braving many obstacles as they try to find their lost friends. During the course of their misadventures each are summoned to "Priam's Walls" by a mysterious woman who is somehow part of the system in which they're trapped. In their quest to reunite the group and reach their destination they encounter a re-created Ancient Egypt that is alive with warring gods, an entire world that exists in a giant house, and even Homeric Troy. Will our heroes be strong enough to survive and make a stand against the Brotherhood?

My take:
I absolutely love complex world building and juicy make believe. Tad Williams gives me all of that and then some. I will admit to being slightly bogged down about halfway through this tome. There are so many characters and plot lines that my brain needed a breather. But once I came back to it I was instantly hooked again. This tetrology is for those who love epic science fiction* and revel in richly detailed narration. If you prefer a short and sweet novella don't touch this series with a 10-foot pole. You've been warned.

*Is epic science fiction a genre? If not, it should be.


By Tina Fey, 277 p.

Tina Fey, creator and star of ‘30 Rock’ and former anchor of Saturday Night Live’s ‘Weekend Update,’ flexes her hilarious writing muscles in Bossypants.  Fey explores her early childhood, her awkward forays into what it means to be a ‘woman’ and a lengthy chapter on just how cool her dad is.  Between these reminiscences and her wonderful fashion tips (baggy t-shirts belted with a fanny pack are always in), Fey talks about her Sarah Palin impressions, what it’s like working on SNL and her early days in Chicago-style improvisational theatre.

Tina Fey’s distinctive comedy style shines in Bossypants.  Witty, hilarious, and well-written, this is a memoir for the ages.  Reader’s who enjoyed Sloane Crosley’s I was told there’d be cake and How did you get this number? will enjoy this book.

Radiator Days

by Lucy Knisley, 316 p.

This collection of comics was written by Lucy Knisley in her college days next to the radiator in her apartment.  What I love most about Lucy's work is the glimpse into her life, and her struggles with school and career (it was nice to relate).  Check out her blog and her book about her trip to France, 'French Milk.'

Best American Comics of 2010

Edited by Neil Gaiman, Jessica Abel, and Matt Madden.  329 p. 


I'm really enjoying my foray into comics, and was most pleased when I found that Neil Gaiman (*squee*) edited the most recent edition of Best American Comics.  I really loved the introduction to this edition (thanks, Neil) and each time I read a new edition, I know the state of North American comic art is good.  Really good.  

The Best American Comics of 2006

  Ed. by Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore.  
293 p. 2006.


To celebrate, I read Best American Comics of 2006, from the Best American series (which has been continually published since 1915.  How cool is that?)  

This is a really great mashing of the best of American comics from 2005 and 2006, which were chosen by guest editor Harvey Pekar.  

My particular favorite was 'La Rubia Loca,' from Justin Hall's Travel Tales.  In this series, Hall illustrated travel stories of both friends and strangers.  'La Rubia Loca' takes place on a bus trip in Western Mexico.  A woman, who had decided she would end her life after this trip, makes friends with an Austrian (?) traveler who goes off the deepest of deep ends whilst travelling with this group of strangers.  The story is moving, the art is lovely, and I can't wait to read more from Justin Hall.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Brains for Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!?!" by K.A. Holt and Gahan Wilson

87 pages

Loeb is in high school
Awful enough as it is
He's a zombie too

Can't mix with "Lifers"
Pretty Siobhan is his crush
But she's not undead

Then he finds haiku
Learns that although he eats brains
He has some himself

His self-esteem's up
So he enters a contest
To share his best poems

Whoa, a zombie poet!
Will the other kids buy it?
Will Siobhan like it?

I think this book's great
Reminds me of my fourth grade
Only with more zombies

It made me laugh hard
Lots of people will like it
So go check it out!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


by Akira Yoshimura, 180 pages

Nine-year-old Isaku's isolated coastal village has for generations relied on the bounty and mercy of the sea. Faced with the perpetual threat of starvation, each villager contributes to the community's continued survival through fervent prayers and backbreaking labor. Some, like Isaku's father, sell themselves into years-long indentured servitude miles away, while those at home closely follow the seasons, harvesting seaweed, shellfish, squid, octopus, saury, and salt. As the weather turns cold and the sea treacherous, the villagers turn their hungry eyes to the churning waters just beyond their rock-strewn bay, bending all their prayers and efforts toward landing the greatest, most elusive catch of all.

Shipwrecks is a profoundly disturbing little novel. It shows, without making overt moral judgments, the effects of sustained privation and isolation on a population, illustrating how a society under pressure can convince itself that the ends justify even the most contemptible of means. Isaku works hard, loves his family, respects his elders--and accepts his people's traditions without question. It is with both pity and horror that the reader regards these otherwise decent human beings. But who and how is she to judge?

A tragedy not only in its conclusion but at its very core, Shipwrecks proves frighteningly relevant far beyond its story's borders of time and place.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jenny Makes Headlines!

Many of the libraries we are competing against have taken notice of our dear Jenny E. and have offered various ways of slowing her down. My suggestion of Colin Firth hasn't quite panned out yet (sorry Jenny). :-(

One suggestion for a library to boost their participation was this:
#1. Fire all of the department heads who are not participating. Offer Jenny E. from Springfield-Greene one of those jobs.

Enjoy your notoriety Jenny!

April Winners!

Total books read: 131
Total pages: 34,325
Total staff contributing in April: 16

Most books read:
Jenny E. 39
Heather C.D. 19
Sarah B.T. 13

Most pages read:
Jenny E. 8989
Heather C.D. 4544
Kadie H. 4271

Participation points:
Jenny E. 39
Jennifer H. 23
Heather C.D. 22

Random drawing: Kim T. 

Challenge winner: Jennifer H.

Cover winner: 
A Little Bit of Love by Cynthia Platt

Review winner:
Lemonade & other poems squeezed from a single word. Review by Heather C.D.

Monthly tallies

If you want a book to count for the month you read it in-you MUST enter it during the month you read it. If you post it later than the first few days of the month-it isn't going to make it into that month's totals. 

You can also post-date any post to make it show up in the proper month. Again, only do that the first day of the month. 

Otherwise, read the last page in the current month and make it count in the new month. Why? Because when I tally your stats, I look you up by your tag and then only look at the reviews in the month I'm tallying. 

Does that make sense? 


Death Note Black Edition Vol. 1

Tsuqumi Ohba
400 pages

There are deaths gods who hold the power to kill people just by writing them down in a notebook. If that god loses their notebook a human can find it and use it in the same way. Our main character Light has just found one of these notebooks and determines that he will use it to rid the world of criminals into a kind of utopia. With all of these criminals dying like flies the police become suspicious and Light must stay a few steps ahead of them. L is working with the police to find the killer but stays hidden himself.

I enjoyed the interesting story that plays out in Death Note and will have to read the other volumes. It is more in depth than most of the manga I have read before. It more like a short mystery novel.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Name of the Wind

by Patrick Rothfuss, 722 pages

What I want to say is, "See Jenny E's" review. She does an excellent job detailing the story's high points without giving any spoilers. I agree with Aleah, Jenny---you should write a book!

In the fantasy genre, you often hear authors being touted as "the next Tolkien". Since Tolkien is my favorite author, I am particularly sensitive to this sort of hype. While Patrick Rothfuss won't dethrone Tolkien from his place of honor, his work is a worthy addition to the sub-genre of high fantasy.

Rothfuss captures your interest immediately with the character of Kvothe, an epic figure shrouded in mystery. The first person narration seems to effortlessly draw you along. Suddenly, you're 700 pages in and anxiously awaiting the next volume of the Kingkiller Chronicles. Luckily for this impatient reader, The Wise Man's Fear has just been released. I'm sure I'll be eagerly awaiting volume 3 when I've finished volume 2.

Highly recommended for lovers of adventure and epic fantasy.

It's A Book

By: Lane Smith, 26 pp.

I love this book! I believe everyone should read it! The pictures are cute and the words are hilarious!

It's a mouse, a book, a jackass, and a monkey involved.....

The jackass is curious what the monkey has in his hands; and asks all kinds of questions trying to figure it out. The jackass asks the monkey, "What do you have there?" Monkey replies, "It's a book."

The jackass is curious how the monkey can scroll down with it, can he blog with it, where the mouse is, and does it need a password. However, the monkey just keeps replying that it is a book.

Once the monkey just lets the jackass see it for himself, monkey cannot get it back from him so the monkey decides to go to the library. But before the monkey can leave, the jackass says, "Don't worry, I'll charge it when I'm done!" And the monkey replies, "You don't have to... It's a book, Jackass."

Ok, yes, I probably gave away too much information, but it was too cute not to share all that I have. Enjoy!


Alex Van Tol
136 pages

Mike has developed quite the crush on his friend Lindsey and wants to tell her about it. He finally gets a chance at a party but another friend interrupts him. Later when Lindsey finds him again there is a huge misunderstanding. When school starts the next fall Lindsey acts like a completely different person and ignores Mike. At a party Lindsey is taken advantage of and filmed. What can Mike do to help?

I liked this book but wish it had been a little longer, at times the story felt rushed. For reluctant readers this book is perfect. It has an engaging plot and the length isn't intimidating.

InuYasha: Volume 53

by Rumiko Takahashi, 186 pages

Magatsuhi and Naraku use each other to advance their own agendas and undermine the desperate efforts of InuYasha and his companions. The latter have come a long way and gained much power throughout their long struggles, but so have their enemies. How much more will they have to endure before they can permanently tip the scales to the good?

Ouch. With only three volumes remaining, the characters (and the reader) learn the hard way that even a moment's respite is a luxury they can ill afford. Ack! Miroku! Rin! Kohaku! *goes off to fret until she gets the next book*

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies"

144 pages

In 1854, a meteor streaked across London’s skies, bringing with it a zombie plague. For twenty years, the Queen’s Secret Service kept the threat under control. But now criminal Moriarty--who is believed to be dead--has begun using the zombies in an attempt to overthrow the Victorian Government. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must face off against the hordes! This graphic novel is very predictable, but it's a quick, enjoyable read.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


by Banana Yoshimoto, 152 pages

Mikage loves kitchens. They're reflections of the people who use them, live in them, commune in them. When the grandmother who raised her passes away, Mikage takes to sleeping on the floor next to the refrigerator in their suddenly still apartment, desperately clinging to the appliance's hum and watching the stars outside the kitchen window. She should get up, go to class, start looking for a smaller apartment; but she can't move, can't find the energy to stop herself from disappearing--until a gentle knock on the door pulls her to her feet and shows her that love is neither confined to any one place nor the fixed result of some unchanging, irreproducible recipe.

In this novella and its accompanying short story "Moonlight Shadow," kinship means more than just a blood relationship. Family are those whose presence makes food taste better; for whose sake we would do the sweetest, most foolish things; and whose support keeps us afloat when sorrow threatens to pull us under. Whether we've known them our whole lives or four years or five minutes, to share a cup of tea or even a bucket of fried chicken with the right person is to share each other's burdens and nourish one another in body and soul. Loss may be inevitable, but love gives us the strength to move forward and smile.

Honest and uplifting, simple yet profound.