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Monday, August 30, 2010

White superheroes, assemble!

I promised a friend that I would post something coherent about the Avengers cast listing, so here it is.

(you can insert my dance of rage here if you like. It includes the pounding of fists against the wall, stomping on the ground in my Doc Martens, hissing and spitting, and curse words in a variety of languages)

Point #1: The Avengers already has a ridiculously full line-up--Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Man, plus Nick Fury and whatever villains they're using...there's no room for more superpeople.

Rebutttal #1: Actualy, this is a fair point. I can't argue with it in principle. I dislike overcrowded superhero movies (Spider-Man 3 comes to mind, and Iron Man 2 just barely squeaked into the crowded-but-still-good range).

Point #2: Don't be bitching about no women, you angry man-hating feminist! Black Widow is RIGHT THERE.

Rebuttal #2: Yes, Black Widow IS right there. Black Widow also has no business in a team-origin Avengers movie, since she wasn't a member of the original team and--that we know of--she is not acting in a villainous capacity. The only REASON Black Widow is right there is because she was already established in Iron Man 2. Why was she in Iron Man 2? Because Natasha Romanoff is sexy, and so is Scarlett Johansson, and the film needed eye candy. As it played out, "Black Widow" could have been anyone--there was very little about her character in that movie which screamed BLACK WIDOW, which is too bad, because I like Natasha a lot; any superheroine, according to the Powers That Be, can pose and beat people up in a few scenes and wear tight clothing and make Tony Stark salivate.

Point #3: No one likes the Wasp anyway. She's airheaded and shallow and has boring powers.

Rebuttal #3: This is a matter of personal preference, but I also feel that it's sort of a shallow argument. Yes, Janet van Dyne is airheaded and shallow and has boring powers, but her character undergoes significant development over the course of various storylines. Also, if we're going to be shallow, Tony Stark is a womanizing drunk asshole. As far as powers go, she doesn't JUST shrink to wasp-size--she has her energy blasts, and can also grow to several hundred feet tall and gain superhuman strength at that size.

Point #4: What did the Wasp even DO on the Avengers, besides flirt with all the male members?

Rebuttal #4: Uh, she named the team. She also served as its leader on various occasions and was a seasoned strategist. In the Ultimate universe she held two Ph.Ds and was about as far from flighty as possible.

Point #5: You've seen both Iron Man films, the new Hulk film, and you're going to see Thor and Captain America. You knew all along why these particular movies were being made, and what they were leading up to: The Avengers. So why are you pissed off about it now?

Rebuttal #5: Well, it is worth noting that I am not a fan of either Captain America OR Thor, and I don't think the Thor film looks very good. Ok, that isn't an answer. I don't HAVE a good answer. Yes, in the back of my mind as I was watching the Marvel movies and talking about them with my boyfriend, I knew that Avengers was going to be a film of epic bro proportions. But somehow now that it's officially all tied together, it's just rage-inducing. The why of it we will get to in a moment.

Point #6: Edgar Wright is making an Ant-Man film and the Wasp will more than likely be in it. Will that shut you up?

Rebuttal #6: Nope, and here's why. It isn't just about the Wasp's absence from a film about her team. It isn't just about the general absence of superheroines and villainesses from the mainstream comic book movies (because, hello? Marvel might be sucking at this, but DC is too). It's about the fact that BOTH of the biggie comic franchises have really great characters who are female, black, Asian, Native American, gay and lesbian, aliens, robots, and everything in between, but neither Marvel nor DC is putting anything but white men on the big screen. The subtext is still, Only white straight male manly-men sell action films. And there's too much diversity, generally in Marvel and specifically in team line-ups like the Avengers and X-Men, to be anything but outraged when female characters and characters of color are ignored again and again. What will it take to see Heroes for Hire done--or is that line-up a bit too rich for American stomachs (oh noes, not one but TWO black people! One of them's a WOMAN!)? Is it too much to hope for that the Iron Fist movie will have Luke Cage or Misty Knight in it? Would another Avengers line-up, perhaps with Luke Cage, Ronin, and Spider-Woman, have been completely unappealing to the movie-going public? Another target for my ire is the rehashing of the origin story. EVERY MARVEL MOVIE WE HAVE SEEN SO FAR HAS BEEN AN ORIGIN STORY (except for the second Iron Man and that's just because it was a sequel). Why is this still compelling? What would be so wrong with creating a film about a team at the top of its game? If you really just HAD to have some origin in there, what's wrong with a flashback? Do moviemakers really think the audience is so stupid that if a movie opened with the Avengers already assembled, we would be confused? If we were, it would be the fault of bad writing, not because we hadn't seen HOW they assembled.

The tl;dr version of Things Diana Is Sick OF:

+minority characters being shunted to the side
+origin stories
+complete lack of pushing the envelope
+filmmakers catering to the lowest common denominator
+nerd rage only being ok if it comes from fanboys--the opinions of fangirls are automatically invalid, particularly if they are mad about so few female characters getting the spotlight

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Meme: Parts 13, 14, and 15

Part 13--Your favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA (or both!): Ok. As we know, I was a consummate reader as a child and continue to be. I read a lottttt of weirdo things as a kid; I pretty much read everything I could find. That said, my childhood favorite that is neither The Once and Future King nor The Yearling would probably be This Island Isn't Big Enough for the Four of Us! by Gary Greer and Bob Ruddick. It's hysterically awesome. I read my copy--which I "borrowed" from a teacher, as I recall--until the front cover fell off. Basically, these two tweenage boys go camping on what they think is a deserted little island. They meet two girls who proceed to kick their asses in every way possible--fishing, pranks, cross-country running, everything. Bonus: the boys have a cute little Hansel and Gretel tent. Current favorite YA book is easy; I just got around to reading A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray and IT IS AWESOME. As, hell, I knew it would be, like five years ago when it came out. Now I have Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing on my hold list at the library. Please come in soon, books! I HAVE TO KNOW IF GEMMA AND KARTIK GET TOGETHERRRR.

(girls'll getcha every time)

Part 14--Favorite character in a book (either sex/gender): Hmmm. This is a toughie...there are so many awesome characters throughout literature! Hard question fail. Here are a few of my faves:

+Guenever (the T.H. White version); she is really, REALLY well-written for being...Guenever. Mostly she is boring and/or irritating, right? White gives her the time of day and more, and does a great job with her character.

+Keladry of Mindelan (Protector of the Small, Tamora Pierce); she's the best of Pierce's heroines--in the Tortallverse, anyway--being cool-headed, very self-controlled, funny, hardworking, compassionate, and many other fine things. Her interior monologue is excellent and relatable.

+Lily Bart (Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth); so sorrowful! So full of life! So misunderstood! Tragic.

+Bathsheba Everdene (Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy); the quintessential Hardy heroine--headstrong in ways that society can't comprehend, beautiful, hardworking, tragic but ultimately transcendent.

+Maurice Hall (E.M. Forster, Maurice); I must just love tragic figures (der). Maurice is the tragicest of the tragic--a gay man as closeted as only a late Victorian could be, who finds love and then loses it and finds it again. A beautiful, sad character and story.

Part 15--Your "comfort" book: I have a few. A couple have already been mentioned, and so I will not belabor them. A few more are The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (not exactly COMFORTING but her prose is so lovely), The Awakening by Kate Chopin (again, not comforting in its themes or plot, but gorgeous and one I love to reread), 1984 (why are all my comfort books depressing??), Saturday by Ian McEwan, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Many--maybe most--of my comfort books that aren't kids/YA are things I read in high school. I wonder if that means something.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Meme: Parts 10, 11, and 12

Part 10--A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving: This is an easy one--Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens! I read this for a Victorian literature course my sophomore year of undergrad and at the time I was under the (sad, false) impression that I HATE Dickens (for reasons detailed in an earlier post). O how wrong was I. I came away from that course obsessed with Victorian lit in general and a die-hard Dickens fan in particular. A good teacher armed with a good Dickens book is a magic charm and cure-all for every student who comes into college loathing Great Expectations. Dombey and Son is, along with Bleak House, the very best Dickens turned out: hilarious, tragic, layered, modern.

Part 11--A book that disappointed you: Also an easy one. The answer here is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. Really, really disappointed by that book. I'm not even sure what I was expecting, but it didn't deliver. The anachronisms bothered me (characters use adjectives and other words that weren't coined yet or that they would've had no way of knowing--"sexy" and "clairvoyant" come to mind), as did the deus ex machina-y occurrences throughout the plot, and most of the characters I found uncompelling or downright irritating. Just an overlong, blah, badly written historical non-epic. Meh. Perhaps the miniseries will be better.

("sexy" wasn't coined until 1905!)

Part 12--A book or series that you've read more than five times: Hahahahahahahahaha--oh wait, this is a srs question and I are srs reader. Ok. I'm a chronic re-reader; I love to re-read my favorites and am as likely to read something I know I love as to pick out something new at the library (a bad habit, perhaps, but there it is). So here are a few worn-out covers:

+The Prize in the Game by Jo Walton
+The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
+Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
+Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
+Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
+Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
+Wrapt in Crystal by Sharon Shinn
+Saturday by Ian McEwan
+In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
+Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
+Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

Friday, August 20, 2010


It has come time for me to discuss something I love.

(Oh wait, that's ALL THE TIME. Anyway.)

So, Tamora Pierce is probably my favorite author. Neil Gaiman is a very, very, VERY close second, but of the non-dead people (holla atcha Hardy and Orwell!), Pierce takes the gold--the length of my love affair with her books tips her into first. I mean, I was eleven--ELEVEN--when I read Song of the Lioness and I'm still buying her books as they come out NOW (note: I am 23). I have loved Pierce books for longer than most American marriages last these days.

There are many wonderful things about Pierce books. They always feature awesome, badass, conflicted, flawed, funny, realistic female characters...AND awesome, badass, conflicted, flawed, funny, realistic male characters. That is not something that occurs too often. They are fantasy, which I love. They feature some truly excellent world-building (the Emelan books in particular are Tammy's brain and interests flung all over the page in beautiful arrays of color and culture). They have romance, but not too much, and varied forms of sexuality. They are fun to read and exciting and interesting. They are, in a word, good.

There is one thing in particular about Pierce books which I find striking every time I come upon it: her tendency to write very short, very abrupt deaths. Behold!

+From Street Magic: "The lady raised a finger. The mute walked out of the gallery and dropped his bowstring over Orlana's head, twisting it deftly. Orlana, fighting wildly, tried to get her fingers under it and failed."

+From First Test: "[The spidren] smacked it lips, then bit [the kitten] in half and began to chew."

+From Tris's Book: "The pirate ran him through the chest, his rumpled face showing no feeling."

THIS IS JUST A TASTE, PEOPLE. THIS IS EVERYWHERE. For some reason I really like this style of writing death; no flowery language, no long passages--you're just forced to acknowledge and deal with it, and in the realms and time periods in which Pierce writes, this is so perfect. In a medieval-style world, there is not usually time to stop and mourn. There are casual slaughters and everyday brutalities. Harsh. Devastating. And when you're cruising along through a Pierce book, admiring the dialogue of the characters and the depth of this created culture you're in and thinking about how pretty Daine's hair is and how you'd love to have a darking of your own and maybe some weather magic to go with and hmmm I wonder if there's somewhere I could take lessons in how to use a lance? and BAM SOMEONE GOT KILLED. One sentence, a few words: someone or something is dead.

Which, presumably, is how it happens in reality.

So, in the event that this sounds like the sort of thing you'd like to read, I would recommend starting off with First Test, if you're a teenager or an adult, and Sandry's Book if you're a kid. Happy reading.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Meme: Parts 8 and 9

Part 8--A book everyone should read at least once: I do recommend The Once and Future King to everyone I meet (solicited, of course; I don't just run up to people and yell LANCELOT WAS ACTUALLY UGLY SEE IT'S RIGHT HERE READ IT), but the second most-recommended on my bookshelf, and the book I will use here, is American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

I whole-heartedly believe that this is one of the best books of Our Time. I am a huge Gaiman fangirl and this is likely clouding my vision a bit, but dear sweet fuzzy Darwin American Gods is fantastic. Since reading it online two years ago I've read it probably eight times since AND YES DEAR READERS NEIL AUTOGRAPHED MY COPY.

See? Trufax.

(it was the best moment of my life. Sorry, beloved boyfriend)

Part 9--Best scene ever: Wow, this is hard. It's easy to do this with movies, but for some reason books are harder. I'll give it a whirl:

+From The Once and Future King (I have to, right? I'm so predictable): After going crazy and being nursed back to health by Elaine, and then spending a good bit of time in his castle with her, Lancelot is going stir-crazy. And lo and behold, his uncle and the man who had trained him to be a knight, called Uncle Dap, appears at the castle gate, with Lancelot's charger and armor and weapons. Lancelot goes to meet him and picks up his helm and touches the embroidery on its lining. He can smell it on the helm--Guenever did this embroidery, every stitch is hers. Then occurs one of the most beautiful passages in English literature.

"And immediately she was there, not the Guenever whom he had remembered on the battlements, but the real Jenny, in a different posture, with every lash of her eyelids and every pore of her skin and every note of her voice and every articulation of her smile."

How can you resist that? Just ain't possible.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bring it, Happy Feet!

Rest assured, dear readers: The Expendables is practically perfect. Indeed! The lineup of shoot-first roughnecks is astounding--Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Sly Stallone, Steve Austin, Jason Statham, and Mickey Rourke as a downright poetical former-merc tattoo artist.
Whew! Charisma Carpenter's eternally-perfect self also has a minor part, which is a bonus for Buffy fans and people who enjoy beautiful women. I was a bit sad to see that Rourke doesn't take part in the shooting(s...), but on the flip side he wears a bolo over his bare paunch, so. Toss-up. Eric Roberts is, as always, a scene-chewing villain; Stone Cold is his henchmen, who doesn't do much but look scary, which is fine. Terry Crews should play Luke Cage at some point in the extremely near future (I love Isaiah Mustapha very, very much, but after HEARING CREWS SAY "CHRISTMAS"--in a completely other context--all I could hear was the word "sweet" in front of it). Randy Couture waxes on about his cauliflower ear. Jet Li is...Jet Li, which is to say, AWESOME. And, well, I am a Jean-Claude fangirl hardcore, but there is a Dolph Lundgren-shaped vacuum in my heart (like Pascal's God-shaped vacuum, but taller and Swedish). Giselle Itie, the remarkably understated sort-of-love-interest for Stallone, is fucking gorgeous. And WHOA THAT'S ANGEL BATISTA FROM DEXTER! He's an evilish warlord/dictator type, BTW.

(this doesn't happen in the film BUT SLY WANTED IT TO)

The only two flaws, really, were the lack of Jason Statham minus his shirt, and the absence of Jean-Claude Van Damme (I was truly horrified to learn that he had turned down a part. IS THIS TRUE JCVD?? CALL ME)

I love a ridiculous action flick. It's a moral failing, I suppose. I mean, the last time I was at Walmart, I was not only overjoyed to see that in their DOUBLE FEATURE $5 bin they had copies of Bloodsport/Showdown in Little Tokyo and Romeo Must Die/Cradle 2 the Grave, BUT I BOUGHT THEM. The only thing better than one laughably awesome action movie is TWO ON THE SAME DISC. The Expendables so delivers. Schwarzenegger and Willis are barely in it, but their lone scene with Sly is funny and effective. The action is bloody and sharp and lo-fi, and Terry Crews is SO RIGHT about the loudness of a shotgun being really fucking scary. There are mini nuclear warheads, crop-dusting with gasoline, knife-throwing contests in Rourke's tattoo shop. It's a glorious testofest.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award (wow!)

Bahnree of I am, therefore I write gave me this lovely award:

and some instructions to go along with it! Behold:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers you've recently discovered and think are awesome!
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

So, without futher thusnsuch, behold again:

So yes, I was given this award by Bahnree (see link above), whose blog is just full of delectable reads and reviews. I love book blogs! Keep reading, Bahnree. :)

Seven Things About Diana (that are not readily evident from this blog):

1. My hometown is where the John F. Kennedy Space Center is located (holla MI!).
2. I recently had a short story published in the Magnolia journal, which is Florida-themed.
3. I am planning on getting a tattoo which says rex quondam que rex futurus (anyone? anyone?).
4. My parents live in New Hampshire. My mom's family still lives where I consider home, and I spend most family-centric holidays there.
5. I prefer dark chocolate above all others.
6. On that note, the humble potato is my all-time favorite foodstuff. So versatile! So yum!
7. I prefer the term and implications of "womanist" as opposed to "feminist" but don't feel comfortable claiming that term for myself. So a feminist I remain.

And now, fifteen awesome blogs to check out!

Book Meme: Parts 6 and 7

Part 6: A book that was adapted into a movie you liked better than the book (or vice versa, or both): Oh, this is an easy one: Lord of the Rings! I can't STAND the books (oddly, I love The Silmarillion. So....go figure), but I am a huge fan of the movies. All of Tolkien's intense verbiage translates perfectly to the screen, because what he takes fifteen pages to describe (usually a tree or a lake) can be captured by the sweeping camera in fifteen seconds. Beautiful beautiful films.

(hard to resist, no?)

A book that I love whose movie I can't stand would definitely be The Dark Is Rising: The Seeker. It should never have happened--the mere existence of that film is a crime against people who love reading. Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence of YA/kids fantasy books is gorgeous, smart, moving, and sometimes very deep. The film made out out of the second book in the sequence is stupid and clumsy, and holds none of the magic of the source.

Part 7: Least favorite plot device used in books you otherwise enjoy: Hoom. I don't really like the "gay best friend" trope often used in female-voiced books (chick lit, contemporary YA fiction, a few others). It sells gay male voices short and makes the female main character seem shallow, and is a lazy way for the author to appear hip or whatnot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Book Meme: Parts 3, 4, and 5

Part 3– The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months: Ohhhh come now, do you know how many books I read every month, let alone in a year? Setting aside the answer that will go with the next question (because I do read this title every year), I will give you a few that I've read this last year that I really liked and will almost certainly reread:

+Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce

+Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

+Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Gods by George Perez

+The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

+Four Souls by Louise Erdrich

+The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

(creepy mask is creepy)

Part 4 – Your favorite book or series ever: Aaaahhhh, the easiest question anyone will ever ask me. For some reason I have difficulty parsing what movie is my favorite (though truly it's STAR WARS), but my favorite book has been my favorite book since I was 12 or so--and that book is The Once and Future King, by T.H. White. This includes its fifth book, generally published separately, called The Book of Merlyn. My granny gave me my copy of each when I was 11 and once I read them I, so very seriously, became who I am. A big Arthur nut, a fantasy fan in general, interested in British history, and a lover of big arcane words. I read that book at least once a year and every time, I see something new in it. It gets deeper and more meaningful with each read. I never get tired of any part of it; I don't skip any chapters, even though I can quote some of them in chunks. It is beautiful and classic and moving and sad and full of anachronisms but still manages to be true today. It is the book I tell everyone to read.

Some other favorites:
+American Gods by Neil Gaiman
+The King's Peace by Jo Walton
+Howards End by E.M. Forster
+Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
+The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
+Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Part 4: A book or series you hate: Now, it would be very hip and also very true to say Twilight here, but I will desist. There are many people funnier than I who will tell you why Twilight is so rendingly awful. SO. Here I will state my loathing for Great Expectations. This is sad for me to say, because I am really a huge Dickens fan. I love Bleak House, David Copperfield, Dombey and Son, The Pickwick Papers. There are few writers who could or can do what Dickens did. He's really awesome. Big hairy butt coming around the corner...he does have a few bombs, and Great Expectations is one (A Tale of Two Cities is the other). PIP! ZOMG don't you just want to kick him in the shins and tell him to stop leaving a damn margin, that that is how you piss money away? Miss Havisham is frightening to (even big) children. Estella is a spoiled brat. Magwitch is a bizarro creeper dude whose tragedy feels forced.

Guh. I just really do not like that book. It is my belief that The Two Shitty Dickens Books (as mentioned above) make kids believe that they hate Dickens, because they're forced to read these two awful ones in high school. Then, like me, they get to college and read something like Dombey and Son, and BAM they're die-hard Victorianists. Happens.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Meme, Parts 1 and 2

So, I am not sure where this began, but it looks uberfun. AND WE BEGIN!

Part I: A series you wished had gone on longer or one you wished would just END ALREADY (or both!): Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos. There are some issues with Simmons' work and philosophies and style, but zomg his writing is ambitious and fun to read. I LOVED Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion and even though Endymion/Rise of Endymion are somewhat related to the Hyperion Cantos, they aren't as good or as mind-bending. Moar Hyperion plz. A genre I wish would just end already is chick-lit. EVERY BOOK IS THE SAME JEEBUS H CRISTOBAL. And I have read a fair few--I don't hate without some experience. I just--guh. The same recycled covers, the same bubbly font, the same hip heroine-who-writes-for-a-big-city-magazine-a-la-Carrie, the same duality of male characters, the samezzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Make it go away.

(the Shrike: it's comin' for you)

Part 2: A series or book that you wish more people were talking about and reading: This is a loaded question. I mean, of course I wish more people would read MY favorites, so I'd have something to talk to people about (so that would mean people diving into Hardy, lots of YA, cheap fantasy, and ethnographies). But overall, as a major fantasy fan, I wish there were more titles based around non-European myth bases, like N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Karen Healey's Guardian of the Dead. There are some fabulous bloggers on the Internet talking about fantasy that doesn't deal with dragons (as it were, and please note I do love Patricia C. Wrede), but as yet there doesn't seem to be a lot of that in the market. As an anthro-nerd and as a person who likes to travel, I love reading about different cultures, and let's face it: European myth stories are pretty tired. New blood is needed, literally; I want to see fantasy involving Maori spirits, Inuit deities, Native American myth cycles. Fantasy and science fiction are great vehicles for innovation and speculation (der) and new themes and tropes...why are we still stuck in medieval times?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Heaven is a sort of library

I am an assistant librarian currently. In a year (give or take a few months) I will have a Master's Degree in library and information science. Hopefully soon after that I will be working in a public library in youth services.

I love libraries. Always have. One of my earliest memories is of my hometown children's librarian singing "Wombat Stew" during a story time. I volunteered in that library throughout middle and high school and spent 80% of my waking hours throughout undergrad holed up in USF's main library. I have been in most of the locations in my county's library system--today I was in a new one, and it was awesome!--and I have some strictish ideas about how public libraries should be laid out.

1. Clearly demarcated areas. This is for the good of everyone involved. The youth deserve and need their own space; so do the children, and so do the adults. The computers ideally are NOT located in the same space as the reference materials and study tables. The circulation desk ideally greets the patrons as they come through the front door.

2. Natural light. Windows, windows, windows. High ceilings and sky lights. As little dependance on fluorescent bulbs as possible. I find this makes for a far more peaceful atmosphere (which a library needs, depending on how many children it serves).

3. Art and plants. I love a library with interesting art, especially if it is local. The location I was at this morning had a cool display of quilts made by the Brandon Piecemakers (teehee); another library in the system has a mural in the lobby made by local kids. And plants, like natural light, provide a calming sense as well as freshening the air inside (again, see children).

4. Every book its reader. Ranganathan was right, peeps--for every book there is someone who wants, and every reader should have access to books he wants to read. This is still one of the core principles of libraries. Broaden your horizons; listen to what your community wants.

5. Every patron her librarian. The staff of a library, of course, are extremely significant. The reference desk should be a hub, and patrons should feel comfortable asking questions. A patron who is there to find a great book for her niece should be able to speak with a staff member who can provide ideas; similarly, a patron who is there to conduct geneaology work should have access to a staff member who can navigate those twisty waters.

What does your ideal library contain?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Read-a-thon: closing remarks

Well, the weekend is over, more's the pity...and I did not finish First Rider's Call. Ack! It's a slacker I am. HOWEVER, I did finish a reasonably dense volume of feminist prose (o hai thar 10 Things I Hate About You) and I'm proud of that. I also have a few more things to say about my current read (spoilers below).

I said in my previous post that Britain's world-building isn't terribly different from the typical post-Tolkien fantasies crowding the shelves at Borders. This remains mostly true, but the further I've gotten into First Rider's Call, the more I see some interesting differences and nuances to Britain's writing (and the Green Rider books are DEFINITELY no Iron Tower, gag me with a forklift). Obviously she had a chance to dig into the culture and history she was creating in her second book, more so than in Green Rider. For one thing, the country of the Green Riders, Sacoridia, is located in "a new world"--presumably some analog to the north and south American continent. There may have been mention of this in the first book, but I don't think there was. Plenty of tasty history is unloaded in First Rider's Call, including some time travel and interactions with the First Rider herself, Lil Ambrioth. The history of Sacoridia is shown to be that of warring, loosely-knit clans who came together to fight the invaders, people from an empire--Arcosia--across the pond reminiscient of Rome. The magic of Arcosia and of Sacor are different, and both are different from magic utilized by the Elt (an elf-type race living in the new world), and magic in Karigan's day is almost extinct; the "special abilities" of the Riders are all that remains of the once-rich magical world of Sacoridia (the Elt use magic, but as yet we don't know much about them). On the whole Britain's world IS different enough from standard fantasy worlds to be compelling. I am definitely on board with this series and am looking forward to the next installments.

The Unputdownables Read-a-thon was really fun and I'm glad I participated, even if I didn't meet my two-book goal (and how sad does that sound...used to be I could rip through a hardback like First Rider's Call in a number of hours. Getting old and busy is no fun, QQ). It was mostly just nice to be reading along with others, and having an excuse to spend a good portion of my weekend inside a book.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

We be reading

8:04pm, Florida time: Weaving the Visions is finished! An excellent collection of essays; I'd recommend it to anyone interested in women's critiques of mainstream religion or theories of goddess religion.

Chugging along with First Rider's Call. Kristen Britain is a very enjoyable fantasy writer. Her world-building isn't significantly different from typical medieval-style fantasy, but her plots and characters are enjoyable enough that it doesn't really matter. I'm quite a bit behind as far as the Green Riders go, since Green Rider was released in 1998, and there's another book after First Rider's Call--The High King's Tomb--AND there is a fourth being released next year, Blackveil. I have quite a bit of catching up to do! But I only bought the first book a few months ago in a used bookstore, and then got the second in a hardback first edition at the amazing St. Petersburg antique book fair. I like fantasy and though I definitely enjoy authors who branch out and use myth bases beyond the European (see N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for a FABULOUS example), the Green Rider books are fun and fast-paced, and Karigan is an engaging heroine.

Unfortunately I will likely not be finished with First Rider's Call tonight, as I made a trip to the bookstore today and have been sidetracked by a new trade of Astonishing X-Men. But at least I got all my grading done! Happy reading, folks.

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