Monday, July 18, 2016

New Library of Congress Librarian, Jeff Bezos Does Star Trek, Two Books by Seanan McGuire, Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen and The Last Illusion by Rhys Bowen

Not that I am jealous or anything, but Dr Hayden has what sounds to me like my dream job, running the nation's library in Washington DC.I've always wanted to visit the Library of Congress, which is described as a glorious book filled haven for bibliophiles of all stripes.

Hayden Confirmed as Librarian of Congress

Yesterday, by a vote of 74-18, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Carla D.

Hayden as the 14th Librarian of Congress
term. The longtime CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system in
Baltimore and a former president of the American Library Association was
by President Barack Obama in February. As the first woman, and the first
African American, to serve as chief executive of the Library of
Congress, Dr. Hayden succeeds acting librarian David S. Mao, who has
served since the retirement of Dr. James H. Billington last September.
She will be sworn in at a date to be determined and is expected to
assume her duties soon.

"This is truly a great honor to be nominated by President Obama and
confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead the nation's library, the Library
of Congress," Dr. Hayden said. "It has been my privilege to serve the
citizens of Baltimore for 23 years and help restore the Enoch Pratt Free
Library as a world-renowned institution. I look forward to working with
the dedicated staff of the Library of Congress. I will be honored to
build on the legacy and accomplishments of my predecessors in this
position, to be part of a continuing movement to open the treasure chest
that is the Library of Congress even further and to make it a place that
can be found and used by everyone."

Again, I find myself deeply envious of Jeff Bezos, who got to be on the set of the latest Star Trek movie...and who better to play an avaricious Ferengi than the billionare who created an online store that shut down many a bookstore over the US?

Amazon's Bezos Has Alien Cameo in Star Trek Beyond
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has been able "to live out every
Trekkie's fantasy by playing an alien
in the new Star Trek movie," according to the Associated Press. Producer
J.J. Abrams and director Justin Lin confirmed his appearance in Star
Trek Beyond, which opens Friday.

Lin told the AP that Bezos "was awesome. It was like a president was
visiting, you know? He had a big entourage! But it didn't matter because
he was so into it. He had to wait around all day because it was one day
we were shooting like three different scenes and, it was also credit to
Jeff because... he just nailed it every time."

Chris Pine, who stars as Capt. James T. Kirk, said, "I was there for the
bit with his like nine bodyguards and three limos. It was really
intense. I had no idea who he was. Not a clue. But he was obviously very

What kind of alien Bezos plays was not disclosed. We're betting he was a
One Salt Sea and Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire are books 5 and 6 in the October Daye paranormal urban fantasy series that I swore I'd stop reading after the first few books. Unfortunately, the protagonist Toby (and McGuire's razor sharp prose) drew me back in with a vengence. Now I am desperate for books 7, 8 and 9, while book 10 comes out next month. Here's the blurbs:

One Salt Sea--October "Toby" Daye is finally doing all right—and that inevitably means it's time for things to take a turn for the worse. Someone has kidnapped the sons of the Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist.
To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She'll need all her tricks and the help of her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.
Toby's search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves. But someone is determined to stop her—and whoever it is isn't playing by Oberon's Laws. As the battle grows more and more personal, one thing is chillingly clear. When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away. 
Ashes of Honor--
It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep.  She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities, but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.
To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne. Chelsea, a teleporter like her father, is the kind of changeling the old stories warn about: the ones with all the strength and none of the control.  She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped. Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. Toby thought the last year was bad.  She has no idea.Ashes of Honor is the sixth installment of the highly praised Toby Daye series.
One Salt Sea culminates with the death (SPOILER) of Toby's Selkie lover Connor, and after losing her daughter Gilly to the mortal realm, it's just one too many emotional blows for Toby, who, as usual, throws herself into danger constantly because of guilt (over not being able to raise her daughter or tell her the secret of her fae heritage) and a serious lack of regard for her personal safety. What I loved about OSS is the lighthearted moments combined with the moments of sheer terror as Toby tries to escape the fae who are trying to kill her. Her ride on the wheelchair in the lap of a mermaid is not to be missed, and her final battle with Raysel is also fairly satisfying. Though I saw the transfer of Goldengreen's throne by the time I was halfway through the book, it's good to know that Toby manages to keep it together politically while she's beat up and grieving.(I have to make note of the fact that I never liked Connor for Toby as a significant other. He was wimpy and always in need of rescue. It seemed fairly obvious to me after reading the first book that Toby belongs with the King of Cats, Tybalt.) All in all, this was an excellent read, and it segued well into the next book, Ashes of Honor.
AOH deals with Toby being tapped to retrieve another stolen child, this time the teleporting illegitimate daughter of Etienne, who trained Toby while she was at court. Up to this point in the series, Etienne has been a real bastard to Toby, very much a stickler for protocol and the type of fae who looks down on changelings for their mixed heritage. Yet all this time, he's created his own changeling with the head of UC Berkeley's Folklore dept, an Irishwoman who of course loathes Toby on sight. (Everyone seems to either love or hate Toby, there are no inbetweens or grey areas in her life, which seems somewhat extreme). Of course the hypocrisy is completely lost on Etienne, and if I were Toby I would have told him to go soak his head when he came begging for her help. But where there's a child in danger, Toby can't help herself, she has to nearly kill herself getting the kid back. Fortunately, Tybalt and his cats, May the former Fetch, Danny the troll and Quentin the squire (as well as Raj, the cat kingdom heir) are all on hand to help Toby stop Chelsea before she destroys the portals and the lines between the fae and human realms. Tybalt finally gets himself together and declares his love of Toby, only to have her take the rest of the book to figure out that she is in love with him, too. There is an epic battle for the Cat throne and poor Raj has to realize that his father is a power hungry douchebag and renounce him in favor of Tybalt. All of this cat love lead me to wonder what happens if Tybalt gets Toby pregnant? Will she have a litter of kittens or several very furry human babies who can shape-change into kittens at inconvenient moments?  I will assume these questions are answered in the next two books, which I have on hold at the library. At any rate, I'd give both books an A, and recommend them to anyone who liked the first 5 Sookie Stackhouse books, or anyone who is looking for a female version of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. 

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen was recommended to me as part of a list of YA paranormal books that were funny and fascinating. What I was expecting was something closer to Patricia Briggs works, with the ultimate dystopia, Hell, being ruled over by an evil librarian. What I got was a surprisingly funny book that read like an extra-long episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, without the Scooby gang. Here's the blurb:
He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.
When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).
I wouldn't really classify this as "horror" genre fiction, because there's not enough grim death for that. Instead, our heroine Cyn just keeps getting funnier as she makes deals with demons and tries to stop the demon librarian from taking her best friend as his evil bride. Her crush of a lifetime, Ryan, (who incidently is playing Sweeney Todd in their school musical, while she's the set designer and stage manager for the show) is along for the ride as Cyn refuses to give up the fight for the souls of her school. The internal and external dialog is hilarious, and the plot swift and sincere. If you're a fan of teenage girls being theater nerds and kicking ass, you will love this A+ book, which I highly recommend.

The Last Illusion by Rhys Bowen is the 9th Molly Murphy mystery novel the 12th one that I've read. I'm fairly casual about reading the Molly Murphy series, generally because I don't like how Molly has to kowtow to her husband, Daniel Sullivan, who comes across as an ill-tempered bully, and his horrible mother, who has also been rude and mean to Molly. Fortunately, in the later MM books, Molly has found ways around Daniel's refusal to allow her to run her detective agency, though I find it hard to believe that he is so blind to her manipulations and lies. This book takes place while Molly and Daniel are still engaged, however, and I was interested in it because it takes place in a theater and involves the famed magician Harry Houdini. Here's the blurb:
Irish immigrant and private detective Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to see world-famous illusionist Harry Houdini. But before he can even take the stage, the opening act goes horribly wrong--and the sensational Signor Scarpelli's lovely assistant is sawed in half. In the aftermath, Scarpelli accuses Houdini of tampering with his equipment. Who else but the so-called Handcuff King could have got a hold of his trunk of tricks, which he keeps under lock and key?
And it seems the maestro Scarpelli's not the only one critical of Houdini. Now that he's raised the stakes to such a perilous level, lesser acts are being put out of business. With everyone on edge, Houdini's wife hires Molly to watch his back. But how can she protect a man who literally risks his life every night? Now it's up to Molly to keep an eye on Houdini and find out whether these masters of illusion are simply up to their tricks--or if there truly is something much more treacherous going on....
With sparkling wit, charming characters, and historic detail, multiple award winner Rhys Bowen brings early-twentieth-century New York City and the fantastic performers of the time vividly to life in The Last Illusion.
There was a lot of redundancy and info-dumping in this book that really slowed the plot to a crawl several times. Still, when things start moving faster in the last third of the book, it's a real roller coaster ride of disguise and reveals until the conclusion. Molly finds Bess, Houdini's wife to be something of a simpering child, and I liked the fact that she didn't allow this view of petite womanhood to erode her own self esteem and regard for her healthy, larger figure. That said, the story was decent and a nice peek into stage life at the turn of the 20th century. I'd give it a B, and recommend it to anyone interested in the legend of Harry Houdini.

No comments: