Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bloodshot (The Cheshire Red Reports: 1)

by Cherie Priest
(2011 | 359 p)

Raylene, known only as Cheshire Red to anyone with a badge, is a thief. She's not just any thief, either. Raylene is a thief straight out of James Bond... she has numerous secret identities, can leap razor wire in a single bound, and navigates maximum security buildings with ease. She's also a vampire. Raylenes' most recent case uncovers a creepy government operation that's treating vamps like lab rats, and Raylene is having none of that. She and her ex-Navy SEAL turned drag queen sidekick are on the case to make the world safer for vampires everywhere. Because vampires are people, too!

The fact that I enjoyed this book so much came as a complete surprise. What I mistook for another campy, hot vampire with guns trope turned out to be smart and funny. Not to mention that there's a hot vampire with guns! If you like urban fantasy, you'll love this. If you enjoy Charlaine Harris then for the love of all things literary put that down and read this! It's somewhat-psychic vampire done right, with drag queens. I'm a-flutter for book two.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

"Once they were librarians, but that is a subject they will only discuss if heavily intoxicated."

Since childhood, Celia and Marco have been trained to battle each other in a magical competition that neither is fully certain of all the rules. They are not even certain of each others identity. The venue, Le Cirque des Rêves, is a circus that is only open at night. As the battle continues to weave its way across the circus and those who call the circus home, it becomes clear that only one will remain standing.

The story is unique. I've read circus stories before but not with this premise and it is refreshing to find a different angle in a book that is getting a lot of press. The atmosphere tho is where it is at. From the beautiful language (Morgenstern had me as exsanguinated) and lush descriptions to the building romantic interests it grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go. The chapters are short so it also appeals to the reader who likes a quicker read and perhaps this is why it is such a successful book. It reaches several of the different appeal characteristics without seeming to sacrifice anything. While I don't think it lives up to the hype (really what book can) it is a beautiful book. 2011, 387 pages.

The Challenge of Library Management: Leading with Emotional Engagement by Wyoma VanDuinkerken & Pixey Anne Mosley

"Common sense is not so common." ~Voltaire

I liked this book! Most books geared towards librarians bug the heck out of me. Either they are simplistic or they are so focused on theory with no realization of the real library world (especially public librarianship) that I want to throw the book across the room only I have to go break up an argument over a .50 cent fine. Was that snarky of me? So, sorry. 

The authors really made me open up my brain and think more about the process of change and how we need to understand it on an emotional level. This is a perfect librarian companion to Resonant Leadership. Change is disruptive and messy. It is human nature to resist this and resistance can only be truly turned into acceptance and empowerment with clear cut information, discussion and buy-in on all levels. I think it really all comes down to respect and compassion for every person you work with and interact with. A huge, huge task but in the end a very necessary one. 2011, 169 pages.

Transitioning From Librarian to Middle Manager by Pixie Anne Mosley

"Your time is no longer your own."

I really think that sums up the most important lesson you can learn about being a manager. Where once you were able to focus solely on the public you serve and the advancement of your career, you are now responsible for a multitude of people and all the issues they bring to the table as well as patrons and the building you work in. Weeee! While dated (2004) a lot of principles in this book will help the new manager with the basic things such as meetings, time management and how your role has shifted in the library culture. This is a lonely gig. As someone moving back into public service management, I looked at it as more of a refresher course in things I already knew.  2004, 211 pages.

Advanced Black Belt Librarians: Answers to the Questions Librarians Always Ask Me by Warren Graham

A continuation of Graham's first book Black Belt Librarians, this book answers the questions that he gets asked time and again while doing his presentations. I like both these books and I would just love it if he took it a step further by not just providing real life examples of things he has dealt with but also walking people through the steps he took to resolve the situation. While the situations faced by librarians will obviously not be identical-it is a nice way to keep some ideas in the back of your head. 2010, 51 pages.

Resonant Leadership by Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee

"We are in the customer service industry. We just happen to fly planes." ~employee from Southwest Airlines

I admit that it wasn't very long ago that I was burned out on public service. I'd spent many years doing front line reference and front line management. I was tired, overwhelmed and most importantly very disappointed in myself. Where did my drive go?  This book is the first one I've ever picked up that held my hand and said, you know what? This happens and we're going to show you why and how you can get the leadership you back. Whoa. I'm not a fan of business books in general but I like this one. Their whole philosophy starts with compassion and hope-what isn't to like? 2005, 304 pages.

Blade of the Immortal: Volume 5: On Silent Wings II

by Hiroaki Samura, 176 pages

Rin doesn't want to perpetuate the cycle of hatred and revenge, but neither can she just walk away from one of the men directly responsible for her tragic past. But her need for some kind of closure may only make her own situation more precarious, as he now has something he wants to protect, too, and will do whatever he must in order to preserve it.

History threatens to repeat itself in more ways than one. Credit must go to Rin for trying to look ahead as well as behind, and then to Manji for seeing the only path open to them with any chance of achieving her wish. This is a painful, powerful volume as we relive the horrors of two years ago through Rin's traumatized memories and watch the present unravel and threaten to cast the past's long shadow into the future. Throughout, Samura's action is kinetic, his perspectives surprising, and his figures appealingly believable whatever the panel point-of-view (the man clearly knows his anatomy well).

Snow Falling on Cedars

by David Guterson, 460 pages

When local fisherman Carl Heine is found dead in his own net, the unnerved, wary eyes of his 1950s Washington community quickly fall on the head of another fisherman, Kabuo Miyamoto. Local newsman and war veteran Ishmael Chambers doggedly follows the ensuing trial, but his motives are soon revealed to extend far beyond mere journalistic interest. As one man's life hangs in the balance, another's reaches a crossroad.

I enjoyed this quiet, lyrical tale of racism, lost love, and war's lasting effects set in the Pacific Northwest in the years following World War II. As the links between the variously scarred characters are slowly revealed, a picture of a dark, often-neglected chapter in American history takes shape alongside a very personal journey through adolescence, first love, and the often bitter, character-shaping lessons that come with growing up. A puzzling mystery, tense courtroom drama, bittersweet love story, and snapshot of cultural history all rolled into one atmospheric tale, Snow Falling on Cedars reminds me a little of Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust and Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird with just a pinch of Rose's Twelve Angry Men. Very nice.

The book also has the distinction of having been banned (it was our in-house book discussion title in celebration of Banned Books Week!) as well as of winning the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Kimi ni Todoke: Volume 5

by Karuho Shiina, 185 pages

Ryu's birthday is coming up and Chizu can't wait, but not just because she wants to see him open the present she bought him. As Yano breaks up with her possessive boyfriend and Kurumi finally accepts Sawako as a rival for Kazehaya, unvoiced and unrequited feelings take center stage.

Sawako learns that friendship and love are both complicated as she examines her own heart and observes those of the people around her. The reader can sympathize, as she thinks she wants everything to work out a certain way, too. But reality rarely fits so neatly into our expectations, and Sawako, being the open-minded, loving person she is, chooses to be ok with that and do what she can to support those closest to her, whatever happens.

Blade of the Immortal: Volume 4: On Silent Wings

by Hiroaki Samura, 170 pages

Manji decides Rin needs to improve her fighting skills if she's going to be of any use to herself or him. But it's while he sleeps that she learns from another just how weak she is and how far she has yet to go if she ever means to see her revenge completed.

Not just one, but two ghosts from the past fall across Rin's path this volume. She barely has time to recover from one encounter before she's stunned by another. Both experiences muddy her already confused desires. What does she really want from those who've wronged her? How far must she go to find justice for her parents? For herself? And where does it all end? Meanwhile, all Manji can do is keep a worried, watchful eye on her and hope he notices before she does something run off to confront her demons alone.

Bride of the Water God: Volume 6

by Mi-Kyung Yun, 180 pages

Biryeom, god of the wind, adds his hand to the players at this mysterious game of hearts and souls as Mui asks Soah to trust him no matter what happens. But as long as the water god keeps secrets from her, and as long as the emperor and his pawns plot against them, fulfilling that request won't be easy. For how can she trust a man who suddenly doesn't even remember who she is?

If Mui would just get over his pride and be honest with Soah about his situation, there'd be a lot less misunderstanding between them. With the emperor pulling Yeo-Wa's desperate, fragile strings--and her slipping Haebek amnesia-inducing aphrodisiacs--the opportunities for mending are fewer and farther between than ever. I hope Yun clears the air a little--and lets us curiosity-filled readers in on at least some of the secrets--soon.