Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reading Update

I thought I'd take a minute to take a breather and give everyone a bit of an update on what I've been reading lately.

I've finished Deader Still by Anton Strout and hope to have my review up soon.

I'm in the middle of reading/listening to five books:

Chronicles of The Planeswalkers Part Zero by B. T. Robertson - Page 50
This is a difficult fantasy book to get into. So far my biggest problem is the quality of the writing. Many of the conversations feel very fake but I think I might be able to find some quality skills later. At least that's what I hope.

The Hornet's Sting by Mark Ryan - Page 14
A novel about a WWII spy. I'm still a bit early in the story so I'm not sure what exactly he did, but I know he operated in the Danish area of the European Theater.

Ghosts of War by Ryan Smithson - Page 83
So far this is a great novel by an Iraqi War Veteran. The library put it in the "Young People" section and I have to admit it fits. He uses very simple sentences but doesn't leave much of anything out.

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne - Track 17 of 37
Kind of a boring listen so far, but Jules Verne was always a favorite of mine when I was a kid. Probably all of those Disney movies that hooked me.

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks - Page 266
This is one of those books that got a lot of hype when it came out. And now I know why. There isn't much time spent developing the world or even some of the major foreign powers. But the characters hook you and you follow them through the years like an addict. You know the book is good when you start thinking of things using terms from the book.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Maelstrom Giveaway WINNER

And the winner is...

Gaby from New York.

Thanks to everyone who has entered. Stay tuned for more giveaways!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Richard of Jamestown by James Otis (review)

Title: Richard of Jamestown
Author: James Otis (pen name for James Otis Kaler)
Illustrator: Unknown
Pages: 188
Genre: Fiction
Cost: $0

This fictional tale of true events gives children a window into the past. The story follows Richard Mutton as he leaves his home in England for the new world. A new world where he grows up in a bizarre environment with natives, famine, and hardship.

While this is clearly a dated story and doesn't give the reader the full effect of how hard life truly was in Jamestown, it is watered down enough to keep children interested without giving them the heebee-jeebees. A decent read reinforced with simple art between. Good for kids interested in Jamestown, colonial life, or history.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (review)

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R. R. Martin
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 835
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Mar
ISBN: 0-553-57340-3
Cost: $7.99

In the age of men, there are few giants. George R. R. Martin is one of them.

While fellow authors call him "George 'Rail Road' Martin" and fans call him "GRRM," the man of many names knows what he's doing. I grew up reading Richard Scarry (explaining my verbosity). I then graduated to Franklin W. Dixon and hovered there for years. Until I discovered R. A. Salvatore in 1988. And as a die-hard fan, I placed him on a pedestal so high, he might have been a god.

As I grew older, wiser, and less interested in the cookie-cutter Drizzt novel that reminded me of those simple Hardy Boys books I'd read, I began to search for a new king of the genre. After a few years of floundering, I found many authors that I enjoyed. Some were even better than Salvatore. But none could quite knock over that pedestal.

Until the great bearded-one came. No, not Martin. Rothfuss. As in Patrick "wooly mammoth face" Rothfuss. It was then I realized everything else was crap, or at least smelled like it. Sure, Michael Chabon is a master of words and Joe Abercrombie is a master of swords and John Zeleznik is a master of writing a good story and not getting it published. But among these towered a man named Pat.

Where does GRRM factor into this story? He's like Godzilla if Pat is Mothra. The battle between them would be that epic. And there's another reason they easily fit into the same category (besides the beards), how much time it takes them to write the next installment. I'm sure you can easily search the interwebs and find all the evilness surrounding Pat and GRRM and their delay in writing. But I think Neil Gaiman said it best: "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch." To which I can easily reply: "You are right ser. In fact, I am his bitch."

Yes, I've latched onto the GRRM wagon of fandom and will be eagerly reading his books. Why? Because they are that good. For eight dollars you can buy yourself a trip that leads you on a rollercoaster of emotion. A trip that has real people, real conversations, and a hint of magic. This is a book that you may even want to throw against the wall because it's just that good.

For those of you that are already on that GRRM fandom wagon, apologies for boring you with my raves. For those of you who have never read GRRM, start now. A Game of Thrones will be on HBO soon, so you can double-dip on the goodness. But one warning for you newcomers. Do not, under any circumstances, become attached to a particular character. Of those I've come to like, 75% of them die. Yes, Martin is an evil god, but he tells a damn good story (it must be something with New Mexico making authors evil gods because S. M. Stirling does the same thing).

One parting thought for you newcomers. This is no "beach book." Martin doesn't tell you something for no reason. His words flow slowly, like Shakespeare, so take your time. And when you finish, check out this site as they re-read A Song of Ice and Fire (that's the name of the series, often abbreviated as ASOIAF).

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman (review)

Title: A Study in Emerald
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Jouni Kopen
Pages: 9
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: N/A
Cost: $0

This is clearly an homage to Sherlock Holmes. But that's what makes it so much fun to listen to (or read). I'm still a bit of a "Gaiman virgin*" as I've only watched Stardust and listened to A Study in Emerald. I keep hearing great things about his other work and how people treat him as a literary god. So far, I'm pleased with his work, but still reluctant to worship his work.

In this short story there is a bit of a mystery involving the death of a royal family member. Most oddly the royal line sounds like a bunch of insects. I kept getting images of green blood and a praying mantis-like head. Aside from that, the mysterious inspector enlists the help of a wounded soldier for his newest case. The inspector solves the case and lays a trap for the two killers. But of course it doesn't end as simply as that.

Not too shabby for a brief, and free, read/listen. It was easy to follow and quick to read through. Certainly suggested for all the short-story fans out there (especially since it won the 2004 Hugo Award for Best Short Story)

* There is soooo much you can read into this phrase, I'll just let you think of them all for me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quiet Bunny by Lisa McCue (review)

Title: Quiet Bunny
Author: Lisa McCue
Illustrator: Lisa McCue
Pages: 30
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal:
ISBN: 978-1-4027-5719-8
Cost: $14.95

Lisa McCue does a wonderful job of not only crafting a story for children, but hiding some work inside. No, this is not a Where's Waldo? book, this is a book to help kids with speech development. And it does it without them noticing.

The story follows a bunny who wants to be a part of the nighttime sounds, but finds that he can't make any. The birds tweet and the crickets ch-cheet. But bunny doesn't make a sound.

Not to worry, he finds a way to join in the night songs but you'll need to wait until the end to find out how.

*Mrs. McCue was kind enough to appear at the local bookshop Jabberwocky a few weeks back to sign books. Thanks to both for being so nice!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Crusade Giveaway WINNER

And the winner is...

Shaun from California.

And don't forget to enter this week's giveaway for Taylor Anderson's Maelstrom.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GIVEAWAY - Maelstrom by Taylor Anderson

I have a copy of Maelstrom (review here) by Taylor Anderson (interview here) to giveaway (Grik toys not included). This is the copy I purchased for my own reading pleasure (meaning it's been read once).

Just send me an email with your name and address to with the subject line of Maelstrom by Tuesday, May 26th and I'll randomly choose a winner (open worldwide).


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Discoveries at Jamestown by John L. Cotter and J. Paul Hudson (review)

Title: New Discoveries at Jamestown
Author: John L. Cotter and J. Paul Hudson
Illustrator: N/A
Genre: Non-Fiction
Cost: $0

The Gutenburg edition of this particular essay far outperforms the Librivox version by attacking the one weakness of audio books. The lack of images. Sure, my iPod can store images and I could even scroll through them as I listened to the book. But it's hard to look at them while driving. And without some sort of trigger to make the image show in the right section of text, it's harder to make sure you're looking at the right photo at the right time.

On the flip side of this, the audio version is a great idea if you're going to visit Jamestown, Virginia any time soon. While driving down (or up depending on where you are) you can get a very quick glimpse of what life was like in the early 17th century. Granted, this was written in the 1950s, but you can still get a basic idea. Discoveries have been made since and I'm sure more will be made years down the road. But in the meantime, you'll get a good overview of what you're going to see.

So check it out for a decent, free, and only slightly dated essay about Jamestown and the artifacts found there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (review)

Title: A Midwife's Tale - The Life of Martha Ballad, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812
Author: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Illustrator: Karen Hansen
Pages: 444
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: 974.16 B
ISBN: 0-679-73376-0
Cost: $5

Often times I walk into a book store with an idea of what I'm going to buy. And even if I don't have a specific title I want, there are general areas I tend to haunt. In modern bookstores I'll gravitate to the fantasy and science-fiction sections. I may quickly browse the true crime or kids books or even history, but most of my time is spent losing myself in other worlds with heros that swing swords and cast spells. In antique bookstores, I'll look for old copies of the Hardy Boys from the 1940s or try to find some sort of historical reference to Nebraska (where my father's family comes from).

So when I walked out of the local antique shop, I did not expect to be so happy to find a book about a midwife operating in the late 1700s/early 1800s.

With Dr. Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale, we meet a different kind of hero swinging a different kind of sword and casting nothing prayers instead of spells. And that hero, Martha Ballard, is what took me by surprise.

Dr. Ulrich does a wonderful job of setting the scene of the chapter by letting you read excerpts of Martha's diary. From there, you're taken on a historical adventure that covers river crossings, births, deaths, and even murder. But beneath it all is the ultimate character novel. Nothing fictional about it, Martha Ballard once lived. And even knowing she's no longer alive, you still want to find out about her life. And it's with this skill that it is no wonder Dr. Ulrich won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 (for History).

But in the end, this book spoke to me on another level entirely. One that I had dared to hope for when I walked out the door after buying it. You see, my great-great grandmother as a midwife. She arrived from Norway in 1873, spent a few years in Detroit, then moved to Nebraska in 1884. At what point she became a midwife, I have no idea. But based on the family's Gordemodre artifact, I would guess it was in Norway. And based on the Jean Mette lancete (or sneppert in Norsk), it appears she did more than study.

So discovering this small window into the past was neat. Reading somebody's journal was voyeuristic. Learning what a person had to endure during that period of history was depressing. But to top it all, even if it was years before the midwife in my own family was born, to learn what a midwife did was the best. In the end, I'd recommend it to anyone interested in history.

You can read more about Martha Ballard on the DoHistory website.
You can read more about Gordemodre on the Unidentified Family Objects blog.

If you can read and translate Norsk or Bokmal, please send me an email at

Friday, May 15, 2009

Opening Atlantis by Harry Turtledove (review)

Title: Opening Atlantis
Author: Harry Turtledove
Illustrator: N/A
Discs: 13
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Tur
ISBN: 978-1400105540
Cost: $0

Atlantis. The magical city of lore that is home to, well, that depends on what tall tale you read. According to Turtledove, the island of Atlantis is home to odd plants and animals. Very much along the lines of that old Dr. Dolittle movie where the crabs are giant and the bees make man size honeycomb chambers.

Well, this Atlantis doesn't have animals quite so large, but ther flora and fauna is certainly different than that of Europe. So when a group of fishermen pay for the "secret" location of the island, it begins a wave of discovery. Over the years Atlantis is settled and new land is found even further west (that would be North America).

I had heard great things about Turtledove in years past and knew his name from my bookstore days. I also knew he wrote a good deal in the alternate history genre. Which is to say I had high hopes for this book but was disappointed. The story was mediocre as where the characters. The scope of the characters was nice, it spanned generations and you got to follow families from era to era. But there wasn't a lot of time to feel connected to any of them.

The early portions of the book were nice. But discovering a new world is always fun. After that it got into politics and, well, a very slow plot with semi-interesting battle scenes.

In the end, I'm glad I got this from the library. Paying full price would not have been a good deal.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Into the Storm Giveaway WINNER

And the winner is...


Again I had several entries from overseas (two in South Africa). I'm amazed people from that far away even visit the LibraryDad blog. So thanks!

And don't forget to enter this week's giveaway for Taylor Anderson's Crusade.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

GIVEAWAY - Crusade by Taylor Anderson

I have a copy of Crusade (review here) by Taylor Anderson (interview here) to giveaway (Lemurian toy not included). This is the copy I purchased for my own reading pleasure (meaning it's been read once).

Just send me an email with your name and address to with the subject line of Crusade by Tuesday, May 19th and I'll randomly choose a winner (open worldwide).


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On the Oceans of Eternity by S. M. Stirling (review)

Title: On the Oceans of Eternity
Author: S. M. Stirling
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 630
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Sti
ISBN: 0-451-45780-3
Cost: $6.99

Eternity. I never expected it, but that's what this book felt like. An eternity. It is much longer than the previous two in the series but I don't think that's really the issue the reader faces. I think it's the lack of strong characters and the plethora of military references and strategy.

There are moments of glory in the book, moments of tenderness, and moments of vengeance long coming. Yet those moments are surrounded by armies moving through battles. Battles long on detail and short on action.

While I'd give this a middling rating, somewhere in the area of where I'd put Stirling's Conquistador, I was still glad to see how certain characters turned out. Raupasha became a surprising character for me to bond with, as was Spring Indigo. And of course Walker's ... well, I'll let you find out about that yourself.

It's been some years since my first reading of Eternity, and since then some of the shine has worn off. It's still a good read, just not as enjoyable as the first time through. And I have noticed that with time, Stirling has improved his writing. With that, I have raised my standards (not only for his writing, but others as well).

So in the end, On the Oceans of Eternity finishes the Nantucket series. No big bangs, no bright flashes, it just tapers off. After taking you on a long ride.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spending Suspended

Speculative Fiction Junkie announced a few days ago they would be cutting spending on books for three months. In a show of support behind the decision as well as an effort to make amends with myself for going over my own budget, I'll be joining in the three month suspension.

I'm hoping I'll be able to push through more reading and reviews (and maybe some interviews) this way but it's going to be tough. So any help you can provide (emotional, financial, sarcastical*, etc.) would be appreciated.

*I thought I made this word up but it looks like I'm too late.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

GIVEAWAY - Into the Storm by Taylor Anderson

I have a copy of Into the Storm (review here) by Taylor Anderson (interview here) to giveaway (USS Walker replica not included). This is the copy I purchased for my own reading pleasure (meaning it's been read once).

Just send me an email with your name and address to with the subject line of Into the Storm by Tuesday, May 12th and I'll randomly choose a winner (open worldwide).


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

James Patterson Giveaway WINNER

We finally have our winner for the James Patterson giveaway:

Mihai from Romania!

I'll run down to the post office today and ship it. Congratulations and happy reading!

Thanks to everyone else that entered and stay tuned for more giveaways this month!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Taylor Anderson Interview

Taylor Anderson, author of the Destroyermen series, is kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions. As usual, some are series, some are not.

LibraryDad - Your last book in the Destroyermen series is out in the wilds now and two months ago you were given the green light for more Destroyermen books. While I'm sure getting published is a momentous occasion for any writer, did it make you feel even better knowing that your work was popular enough that readers wanted more?

Taylor Anderson - Getting published was great. It was an exciting vindication of a vision, an ambition, and an awful lot of speculative labor. That the books were popular enough to warrant more along the same lines was truly humbling. I was amazed by the sheer volume of nice e-mails and letters I began to receive after "Into the Storm" and "Crusade" came out. When my website address appeared in "Maelstrom," the contacts really started flooding in. I can't tell you how much I appreciate those contacts, and how honored I have felt to receive so many from former and current service men and women. Somehow, the Destroyermen series seems to have struck a chord and I consider it a privilege to continue it. (LD - You can check out his blog and see some of those comments from service men and women that are full of praise. To me, that speaks volumes alone about the respect he has garnered.)

LD - I know you can't give away too many details about the upcoming series, but can you tell us how many books? When they'll be published? Will they include the same characters? Will it follow the events right after Maelstrom or will it be much earlier/later?

TA - The main things that will be in the upcoming books are words. Lots and lots of words. Other than that, I can tell you that many of the same characters will appear, along with a few new ones. The storylines will pick up soon after the events described in "Maelstrom," but the direction they take may be unexpected. I would rather not say how many books there will be, or when they will be released until ROC makes an official announcement.

LD - What is it like writing in the same alternate-history genre as S. M. Stirling and Harry Turtledove? Is it hard to compete with them?

TA - I am a big fan of Mr. Stirling's and it has been my pleasure to correspond with him on occasion. I deeply appreciate his gracious reviews and blurbs. I have read a lot of Mr. Turtledove's work, and I enjoy it as well. As I have said on my website, I have been in the business of getting history "right" virtually all my life. To openly engage in such blatantly whimsical "what if?" has astounded my friends, shocked my former colleagues, and generally been a glorious ride. That's how it feels to be "In the genre."

As to "competition," I don't consider myself to be competing with them at all. I view competition in a different way. It is much like a battle in the sense that it ends in victory or defeat for opponents. I have a fairly wide competitive streak, but I don't consider any other author in the world to be my opponent. My opponents are people on other cannon crews when my friends and I engage in artillery competitions. They are the guys I shoot against in rifle and pistol matches. They used to be the guys on the other football or track team. When I was a kid, my primary opponent was my brother when we beat each other half to death.

An opponent is someone you want to defeat in competition. I certainly don't want to defeat Mr. Stirling or Mr. Turtledove--I want them to keep writing! Does this make sense? I'm a little new at this, so maybe I'm naive, but I enjoy a lot of different authors in a wide variety of genres. If I like them, I will read them. I suppose other folks will as well. Until I started spending all my time writing, there weren't enough authors in my favorite genres to keep me reading every night! (LD - Based on your definition of competition, it makes perfect sense. Maybe I was the naive one in asking the question.)

LD - Do you visit your local library? If so, how often and what section do you enjoy most?

TA - Alas, I don't have a local library.

LD - Do you have any opinions on e-books in today's publishing market and tough economy? Do you think printed books will be replaced by e-books or will printed books just become a thing for collectors?

TA - I honestly don't know enough about e-books to have a fully formed opinion. I have never used one before. From what little I know, I'm not morally against them and I suppose they could be convenient, but I prefer solid objects. My office library is stacked to the ceiling, mostly with reference material, and it is comforting to be able to glance about and know there is so much information at my fingertips, in a readily recognizable form. I can say "hmm, I wonder . . ." and as my eyes scan my shelves, they fall upon the book that I know will have the information I seek. The Internet is great, but it can be a crap shoot when looking for something obscure. Sometimes it's there, sometimes not. Sometimes there's something there, but can you trust it? One holdover from my purely historical pursuits is that I like multiple, corroborating sources.Are e-books the wave of the future? Possibly. Will printed books become relics and no longer be produced? I don't think so. I hope not.

LD - After you take your shower, do you dry off before you get out or after you get out?

TA - I don't know. Maybe one or the other. Maybe both or neither. It probably depends on how crowded my thoughts are at the time and whether I actually remembered to get a towel in the first place.

LD - Does your toilet paper come off the top of the roll or the bottom of the roll?

TA - Neither. It comes off the side of the roll on the top of the tank. Sometimes, in a pinch, it comes diagonally off the roll in the toolbox of my truck.

Thanks again Taylor for taking the time to answer our questions. We are all eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Destroyermen series!

You can read more from Taylor Anderson in these interviews:
- Peter Hodges Interview (Part One, Part Two)
- Reading and Writing Podcast (streaming or download)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Maelstrom by Taylor Anderson (review)

Title: Maelstrom
Author: Taylor Anderson
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 387
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F And
ISBN: 978-0-451-46253-4
Cost: $24.95

Anderson brings his Destroyermen trilogy to a rousing finale in Maelstrom. The two and a half hiccups I saw were easily pounded into the surf by the rest of the story.

Hiccup one is the title. It's just too hard to spell.

Hiccup two is the beginning of the story. It was slower to take off than I expected. When we left Captain Reddy and his crew, we knew a big fight was brewing. I should have expected it to take a while for the pot to boil, but I wanted it to overflow into madness right away.

Hiccup two and a half is the one or two spelling errors. Nothing major, but bad spelling always bugs me. At least it wasn't as rampant as the Grik.

The rest of the story was just fine. Better than fine actually. I have followed Anderson's work since I saw the blurb on the cover by S. M. Stirling (yes, I'm a fan, so sue me). The first two books were good and kept me interested. The third blew me out of the water. I was surprised to find myself more invested in the characters than I cared to admit to. And the action, the final battle specifically, was much more refined, smooth, and, well, full of action!

The final battle sequence takes up a good portion of the final half of the book. You know it's coming and you're glad when it gets there. You know how it will end, but there are some losses along the way. Fortunately, none of the characters I liked died (Anderson is a kind God).

Now, most interesting of all, is the news that came in March. Something you won't hear much about as Anderson hasn't quite made that "big name in lights" status. What's the news? He gets to write more about the Destroyermen! He left the first series open enough for more adventures and I'm hoping we'll read more about the crew of the USS Walker, the Lemurians, the Grik, and the "others."