Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sunday, May 2, 2010


"Seven Up" is a book in which Stephanie Plum repeatedly tries and fails to capture an blind, deaf, old man who suffers from erectile dysfunction and stops for repeated bathroom breaks.

In "Seven Up" Stephanie is tasked with tracking down Eddie DeChooch, a washed up mob man who got busted with a shipment of stolen cigarettes. Stephanie rarely has a problem tracking DeChooch down; she pays him a visit in his home, she meets up with him at a church, she runs into him at the funeral parlor, she sees him constantly in his big white Cadillac; still he gives her the slip every time. When it seems like finally, Stephanie has gotten her man, with DeChooch passed out in a chair with a gun shot wound to the head, he still manages to get away from her.

Stephanie Plum is a hapless bounty hunter. She has gained experience on the job over the previous six novels in the series, but she has seemingly gained no skills at the job. When she finds herself in a situation where a gun may be handy (DeChooch repeatedly fires off rounds at an unarmed Stephanie) her gun is inevitably at home in the cookie jar.

While Stephanie bumbles around haplessly, often with her equally clueless pal Lula, she inexplicably stumbles upon lead after lead. Her stoner pal Mooner (often appearing in this novel wearing his super suit) is a big piece of the overall plot puzzle of this novel. With his connection to his buddy, The Dealer, the rump roast that was stolen from his refrigerator, and his subsequent kidnapping, Stephanie has to try to tie all the pieces of the puzzle together.

In addition to the mystery going on around Stephanie she also has to deal with her ever lively personal life. From her supposed engagement with her boyfriend Joe Morelli to the steamy kisses she shares with Ranger, Stephanie has her share of personal issues to sort out. Also in town for this new novel is Stephanie's perfect sister, Valerie, who has decided to experiment with becoming a lesbian after her husband runs off with the 18 year-old babysitter.

Overall "Seven Up" is an enjoyable addition to the Stephanie Plum novels. Stephanie manages to get into enough mischief to provide hours of entertainment.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

eBooks for an iCulture

To start with, I do not think that the traditional idea of a book will ever leave us. There is something about holding a book in your hands, smelling it, flipping the pages, being able to flip at will to various parts of the book that will always be in demand.

I have to say though, I love eBooks. The free Kindle application for my iPod has been amazing for me. The simplicity of one click shopping for books on amazon with wireless delivery in just seconds, all from the comfort from my bed on a lazy Sunday morning is kind of amazing. And with fewer people reporting reading books today than they did twenty years ago, any form of publishing that saves money is probably a welcome thing for book publishers and not having to pay for the physical publishing of a book is sure to save money. I also think that ebooks from libraries are an interesting and welcome development. Although I personally could not figure out how to download and read the book I wanted from the library, smarter people than I are able to do this. Heck, my roommate told me the other day that she has a bunch of ebooks checked out from the library at the moment. I was a bit amazed at her (1) reading a book, (2) thinking of the library instead of just going to Borders, and (3) being on it enough to download books from the library's website. I'm sure this is my library influence shining through onto her. The more methods libraries have for reaching out to people and promoting reading the better, and the ebook adds another facet of library service.

I think there is another important aspect of the digital book phenomenon, the self publishers out there. Before, if you wanted to get your work published you had to submit it to a publisher, where more than likely it would be rejected. Then the truely ambitious could pay to have the book published themselves. Now though, anyone can publish their own work on the internet, they can even make it easily available to other people using amazon and their kindle application. There is something gratifying, a bigger sense of accomplishment is realized when people (besides your mother) read something that you have slaved away at creating, self publishing via ebooks is a way to fulfill this.

There is also the whole phenomenon of fanfiction. I know so many people who read and write fanfiction, its amazing. Without the internet and the freedom to publish just about anything on the internet, fanfiction just wouldn't be the same. I think its great that so many young people have the motivation and the opportunity of writing stories that other people will read. Another example of the great things the internet provides for us.

So I'm a fan of eBooks.

I'm a bigger fan of real books.

Monday, April 26, 2010


The last person I did Reader's Advisory for was my mom. She also received the email from me with the five questions; her answers though were alarmingly brief. For the question "Have you read anything lately that you enjoyed?" she answered "biography, i enjoyed it". Wow mom, thanks!

Luckily though I do know her pretty well and I see her pretty often so I am a bit more familiar with her recent reading experiences that I am with other people. When I spoke with her about the RA after receiving her email responses she said she would like to switch it up with some fiction, something entertaining and light. She tends to get really bogged down with these biographies that she reads. She once expressed interest in reading biographies about all of the past presidents; I'm afraid I really ran with this with gifts and things and now she's really just got a pile of unread biographies...they take her ages to get through.

So she said she would like to branch out from the biographies with some fiction, which needs to be entertaining right away (or she'll fall asleep and never read it). It was also, with her, helpful that I knew what sorts of movies she likes (she's a total chick flick lover) so I immediately gave her all of the Sophie Kinsella books off of my shelf, since thats really the only way she will ever read needs to be delivered right into her hands. I also gave her the two Emily Giffin books that I had on my shelf to get her started with. She has amazingly read all of the books I gave her and is on the hunt for some more easy to read chick lit. I need to turn her on to Stephanie Plum.

She had also recently read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and really enjoyed it so I wanted to get her something similar. Reader's Advisor Online led me to Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" which is another non-fiction book that employs fiction techniques in its storytelling. Also RAO pointed me towards "Devil in the White City" by Eric Larson as another non-fiction book that reads like an imaginative piece of fiction. I also chose the later for my mom because I thought the Chicago setting may interest her. When I shared the two titles I had selected for her she was more interested in the "Devil in the White City" but unfortunately she has not had a chance to read it yet since this is the busy time of year for her at work. By the time I through with her she'll have a pile of books waiting for her this summer.

(Its very nice that Reader's Advisor Online has a section devoted to non-fiction. Its a life saver really for all of us fiction people.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010


The fourth reader I advised for my lab was a good friend of mine. I once again conducted the interview by email using the same questions as before.

This person told me that they like to read funny things as well as memoirs. They have the new Chelsea Handler book on reserve at the library. Recently she read a book called Forever by Pete Hamill. Most of what she reads is from the New York Times Bestseller List. The only thing she expressed no interest in reading was science-fiction.

The first thing I thought of, even before I got the interview answers from her, was the Kristin Chenoweth book discussed earlier in class. I used Reader's Advisor Online as well though and searched for Chelsea Handler and came up with two other funny sounding memoirs written by women for her to read: Trailer Trashed by Hollis Gillespe and The Idiot Girl's Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro.

After recommending a few memoirs for her I used RAO to look up "Forever" the book she had just read and enjoyed. RA did not have any specific recommendations based on this book, they just pointed me towards Epic novels based on and in major cities. This did not really sound like what she was interested in so I did a little searching on what it seemed like the other aspect of the novel was, which was immortality. The books RA gave as matches in subject for immortality seemed to all border mostly on the fantasy/sci-fi, which I wanted to avoid. So then I turned instead to maybe books about New York, which is what "Forever" is. The book I ended up picking for her based on "Forever" didn't really interest her. I really need to follow up with her and find out what about the book she liked so much.

Since she expressed an interest in reading funny books next, in addition to the memoirs that all sounded very funny, I wanted to give her some suggestions for just fiction books. Since I know her well and I know she loves the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, I thought another Fannie Flagg book would interest her, so I recommended "Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man". Humor, the south, resurrection scams...can't really go wrong with that. I also came up with a book called "Apologize Apologize" that I thought sounded promising for her; funny in a dysfunctional sort of way.

I also couldn't help but suggest she read some Janet Evonovich since that would be some great summer reading.

Her feedback was very positive for the memoirs, Fannie Flagg, and "Apologize, Apologize". She was really excited to read the memoirs especially. I'm going to have to re-follow up with her because I want to be able to recommend something similar to "Forever" for her, although it could have just been a one-off book that she enjoyed I guess and not something she wants to read more of.

Friday, April 23, 2010


The first two people I did for my life come as a pair from a social networking site I am a member of, so I am only casually acquainted with both of them, although I have actually met person 2 multiple times in real life. I sent them both an email with the following questions:

1. What sorts of books do you usually enjoy reading?

2. Are you in the mood for any certain type of book right now?

3. Have you read anything you enjoyed recently? Not enjoyed?

4. Are there any genre's / types of books you do not enjoy?

Person one happened to respond to my email first so I worked on compiling a list of reading suggestions for her first.

She answered that she likes reading magical/fantasy, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, and Charles Dickens (partly because it annoys her library friend--her words!). She was in the mood for a light read that would be good to read at night before bed, not something that would become so engrossing that she would have to stay up all night reading. She recently read and enjoyed Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass and didn't like the Outlander Series or Jasper Fforde. In general she is not crazy about mysteries, Michael Crichton techno-thriller stuff, or things related to horror.

I was a bit daunted at first since I know this person likes the magical/fantasy stuff the most (this is how we know each other, but only through Harry Potter) which is a genre I don't really know a lot about, apart from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. The first thing I did was make sure I was familiar with all of the things she listed as liking and enjoying, which meant googling a few authors and reading some summaries of books they had written ( I tend to use amazon and wikipedia for this). Then I used a mix of FictionConnection and Amazon to come up with a list of things she might enjoy reading. Once I find something that looks promising on Fiction Connection I like checking it out on Amazon to see reviews and what other people thought about the book, and often times the customers who review the books will mention things that are similar, etc.

I compiled a whole list of possible things she might like to read, but I think that the most promising things were the Discworld series, which she later told me she had been meaning to read, and a book called Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, which I really managed to find through dumb luck (I found another book by the same author on fiction connection while searching for fantasy books). It caught my eye because of its mix of historical fiction and fantasy elements.

For person one I found myself having to stop from just compiling a reading list of things that I wanted to read since I also like things like Jane Austen and historical fiction. But it turned out that the books that most caught my eye as things I wanted to read were the ones that she expressed the most interest in.

Person two, while I know them from our mutual love of Harry Potter as well, expressed a greatly different taste in reading than person one. Person two expressed great interest in history of all sorts, ancient Christian authors, and fantasy (Harry Potter, Narnia, Redwall, Recluse). This was around St. Patrick's Day so he was interested in reading a biography or something that would teach him more of St. Patrick's history. He had recently read a biography of Pontius Pilate and enjoyed the parts that included the facts that we know about him but did not like the parts of the book that were more based on speculation and was also in the process of doing some research on the constitutional convention. He likes history, but not modern history. One of his favorite books he has read lately was about the building of St. Peter's Basilica. And while he likes fantasy, he has never liked Sci-Fi.

For this one I once again utilized amazon, wikipedia, and google to make sure I was familiar with what he was expressing interest in. I also used The Reader's Advisor Online since they offer non-fiction reader's advisor help. I focused mainly with the non-fiction requests he had made since he had expressed the greatest desire in reading more non-fiction next. I tried utilizing the resources available on Reader's Advisor Online for this at first, but I was having a hard time finding St. Patrick there so I turned to amazon instead. I read the reviews of a couple of the St. Patrick biographies and recommended to him both a traditional biography and a book of the writings of St. Patrick. He expressed great interest in reading the two St. Patrick books on the list.

I came up with The Faiths of the Founding Fathers
for him by combining his interest in the constitutional convention and his interest in reading religious works and I found it really just by browsing the non-fiction section of amazon. I really appreciate that they have it set up so you can browse books based on subjects and you can narrow it down quite far, similarly to Reader's Advisor Online. Also, I liked that the reviews, production descriptions, etc were all right there to see.

I ended up giving person two a list of about ten titles that he might be intersted in and he seemed pleased with them, adding them to his already lengthy reading list. He also was interested in how I had come up with the titles so it was a teachable moment for him as well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Last summer, while cruising around on a boat on Flathead Lake our host heard that I was going to school to become a librarian. "Aren't libraries on the way out?" he asked me. At the time, honestly, I didn't really know. They could have been. I was stuck in a rut, had been told I'd love the library science field, and thought "why the heck not?" So I applied to the program and was accepted.

So here I was, faced with this man telling me libraries were on the way out and I didn't have a clue how to respond. I think I probably mumbled something about "ugh, lots of other things to do with a MLIS" and then feigned sea sickness.

Libraries are not, and really, should never be on the way out. Libraries have been around since way way back in the B.C days and they should continue to be with us until whatever comes next. We are the keepers, finders, and sharers of information and people do now and always will need that information.

With the recent doom and gloom news about libraries and funding, particularly in Indianapolis, its been rough. The prospects of actually getting a job in a library are looking less and less likely and it seems more and more likely that for the near future I will have to continue being mindless, bored drone in the silent law office where I work. But still, it could be worse I suppose.

Bad economy, falling property values, property tax caps, cut funding--we've arrived at the perfect storm of factors working against the success of the public library system. But we've also arrived at record usage of the library system (here in Indianapolis at least). In tough times people turn more and more frequently to the library to fulfill their information (and entertainment) needs. Heck, my roommate has library books in the living room right now (this alarms me a bit as she once had me check her out a book, then proceeded to lose it. The next thing I know the library has stuck a debt collector on me looking for payment for the lost book) and she has even managed to check out audio books from IMCPL's website! I'm amazed at both her technical ingenuity and the library for having audio books available to download!

Anyway, times are changing. The needs of the library patron are changing. The budget available to the library is changing. Library/web/internet/life 2.0 is upon us (I do not really know what this means) and we need to change, become librarian 2.0's. It is up to us to meet these changes in innovative and inventive ways, and I think we will. Its fun to think that we all are the future of libraries, because I think everyone is sort of fabulous. Listening to everyone's thoughts and ideas each week make me think that the future of libraries is a good one.

Its amazing how often the library seems to come up on a daily basis. I don't know if its because people know that I am a library student or because people use and like the library a lot, but whenever it does come up I get a little tinge of pride about what I get to be a part of both now and in the future evolution libraries are sure to undertake.

If I return to Montana this summer and have another run in with the "libraries are on their way out" man, I will have a better response to him this time.