Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Last Dragon, by Jane Yolen, artist Rebecca Guay--A Review

The Last Dragon, Dark Horse Comics/Dark Horse Books, ISBN 9781595827982, September 2011

Ebook isn't the best format for reading a graphic novel, so right up front let's be clear that I didn't get the best of this book. Despite that, the artwork is intricate and lovely, and well worth taking some extra time to enjoy. In print and in color, I'm sure it's immensely better.

The story itself is simple and engaging, with moments of humor. Tansy, one of the three daughters of the local Healer, is clearly the one who got her father's interest and talent--and annoys her sisters and mother by having little interest in chores beyond herbalism.  It's not that she won't work, and willingly, if asked; it just doesn't occur to her. When Tansy finds some dragon's bane, she and her father are puzzled as to what it means--and the Healer goes off to investigate.

Jar Jar Binks Must Die . . . and Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies, by Daniel Kimmel--A Review

Fantastic Books, ISBN 9781617200618, March 2011

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that Dan and I have been friends for years, and I received a free copy of this book from him. There's no pretending I'm completely objective, here. On the other hand, Dan and I have been arguing vigorously about science fiction, fantasy, and movies for all those years, too.

This is a collection of criticism and commentary about science fiction movies that Dan has written over his years as a movie critic. He's added some updating, new critiques, and some additional material, tying it together into a knowledgeable, educational, and entertaining discussion of science fiction movies, their value, and their significance.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why the Church Needs Bioethics, ed. by John F. Kilner--Review

Zondervan, ISBN 9780310328520, June 2011

This is a collection of essays built around three case studies, illustrating why the Church needs to study and explore bioethics. Each of the case studies presents a moral and ethical dilemma which the affected parties are not handling well. Each situation is then examined in several essays from a variety of perspectives, by experts from different fields: legal, medical, business, multicultural, bioethics, psychology, pastoral care.

The three case studies are a couple trying to have a baby via egg donation from the  wife's sister; four graduate students who have been told by their very distinguished

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Greetings, Technorati

Okay, this isn't the most fascinating post. In fact, it exists solely for the purpose of claiming my blog on Technorati. Let's just hope I'd doing this right.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Main Street Public Library: Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Rural Heartland, 1876-1956

Main Street Public Library: Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Rural Heartland, 1876-956 (Iowa and the Midwest Experience) University of Iowa Press, ISBN 9781609380670, October 2011

This is a study of four small-town midwestern libraries during what were, outside the northeast, the formative years for public library service. The four libraries are Bryant Library, Sauk Centre, Minnesota; Sage Library, Osage, Iowa; Charles H. Moore Library, Lexington, Michigan; and Rhinelander Public Library, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Wiegand studies the formation, growth, and development of these libraries, and how they interacted with the communities they served, the wider culture, and the culture of professional librarianship. He notes in his introduction that the USA has more public libraries than it does McDonald's restaurants--a statistic that will surprise some readers. Libraries are a basic, vital service for Americans, strongly cherished and supported. The question is, what exactly are the services valued by library users and the community in small-town America?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Write a Post, Help a Dog

Once again, for the 2011 BlogPaws conference, Pedigree is running its "Write a Post, Help a Dog" campaign. Last year, 391 bloggers participated, and Pedigree donated 20 pounds of its Healthy Longevity dog food to shelters for each post. Let's make it an even bigger success this year!

How you can help:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cherry Cheesecake Murder, by Joanne Fluke

Kensington, ISBN 9780758273284, May 2011

This is a new paperback edition of Fluke's 2006  eighth entry in her Hannah Swensen mystery series. In the last book, both Mike and Norman proposed to Hannah, and she's still (and will for at least several more books) engaging in her irritating dithering and inability to choose between the two men. As annoying as this is, she is 100% justified in her outraged reaction to receiving a half dozen calls before 6am demanding that she make an immediate decision so that the two men will stop acting like the lovestruck idiots that they are. This nonsense aside, though, this is another solid entry in the series.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, by Timothy D. Wilson

Little, Brown, and Company, ISBN 9780316051880, September 2011

Wilson gives us a highly readable account of what we do and don't know about psychological and social psychological interventions--what works, what doesn't, why, and how we tell the difference.

A major concern of Wilson's is many popular, widely accepted approaches to solving, reducing, or preventing problems, such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) counseling for police and firefighters after a traumatic on-the-job incident, or popular and widely-respected anti-drug programs for the schools, have been implemented on a large scale without being scientifically tested first. In some cases, once broadly accepted, these approaches remain unchanged even after scientific testing demonstrates that they are ineffective or even counter-productive.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children, by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett

Columbia University Press, ISBN 9780231151627, September 2011

Are girls and boys really that different? Are their brains wired differently in important ways, leading to very different abilities and needs? Rivers & Barnett take a hard look at claims that the brains, and therefore the abilities, of boys and girls differ in major ways, making it necessary to teach them in very different ways. First they look at the claims, the proposals based on them, and the studies claimed to support them.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking. . . Because People Do Business With People They Like, by Michelle Tillis Lederman--A Review

AMACOM, ISBN 9780814416372, September 2011

How can you network more effectively? Be more likable.

And while that may seem a bit flip, it really is the key. As Lederman says, "People do business with people they like." If you are not likable and reliable, people will find someone else to do business with.

The good news: you can learn how to be more likable, how to make your likability more visible and apparent to others, and Lederman provides a nifty little primer for getting started. And she starts with a personal revelation: Some years back, when she was giving a presentation to students on, amongst other things, making sure every professional interaction has a clear purpose or goal, she asked them what they thought her purpose in that presentation was--and one student said, "You want us to like you." In the moment, she thought to was a ridiculous answer; of course she wasn't concerned about being liked! The comment stuck with her, though, and over time she realized that, in fact, not only do we all want to be liked, but being liked is essential to networking effectively, both personally and professionally. In the years that followed, a growing understanding of what makes us likable and how it works for us led to the need to articulate these lessons for others.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Called Home--Two Hearts Answer, by Gloria Schumann--A Review

Savant Books & Publications, ISBN 9780984117571, May 2010

Emma Benson is back in her small Wisconsin home town, intent on saving the farm she grew up on for her mother and herself. There are painful memories here: Her brother's death when she was five, her father's subsequent retreat into alcoholism and then desertion, in his own inability to cope with the loss, but it's also the center of her happy memories, as she and her mother worked the farm together while she grew up. Emma has moved on to pursue a career as a teacher, but with her mother struggling and in danger of losing the farm to foreclosure, she needs to do more than send checks to help save her childhood home.

When a tornado threatens the farm, another recent returnee turns up on her doorstep, seeking shelter from the storm. David Schlosser has been living in New York and writing best-selling mystery novels; he's now ready to settle down permanently in the town he grew up in, and where his parents still live.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Giveaway Hop--We Have a Winner!

Andrea is the winner of the giveaway, and will receive the book, A Dog's Purpose, and the beach towel with the book's cover image.

Congratulations, Andrea! I'll have it in the mail to you by the end of the week.


Summer Giveaway Hop--Thank you all!

I am waiting to hear back from the winner before I announce results. Please check your email! I couldn't reasonably eliminate the words "win" or "winner", so if you participated, it's possible my email is sitting in your spam filter. Please check!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America from the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels, by Congressman Jerry McNerney, Ph.D., Martin Cheek

AMACOM, ISBN 9780814413722, August 2011

Dr. Gerald "Jerry" McNerney is an engineer, energy specialist, and US Congressman from California's 11th district. Clean Energy Nation reflects his professional education and experience as well as his experiences in Congress, working to advance realistic, rational energy and environmental policies.

McNerney's message is that global climate change is real and a major threat, oil and other fossil fuels really are starting to run out--and that the two problems compound each other. Global climate change increases our use of energy to maintain livably cool temperatures, grow food in increasingly dry regions by use of irrigation, rebuild after increasingly frequent and violent storms, and eventually relocate people, their homes, and their businesses inland from the places that will be underwater as the icecaps melt. Also, somewhat counter-intuitively, quite possibly to heat an increasingly frigid Europe, if the melting of the icecaps has the effect of turning off the North Atlantic conveyor that keeps northern Europe much warmer than equivalent latitudes in North America.