Skip navigation

It’s my WordPress Anniversary! I usually forget the exact day I started this whole project, and so it was a pleasant surprise to see the notification that I’d made it back on time when I signed in today.

I’ve been writing here for eleven years, as of today. In the last year, I finished my master’s degree and welcomed another child to my and V’s family. I’m looking forward to having some time to dedicate to writing things for myself (and all of you lovely readers) during the next year. I’ll be catching up on some media that I’ve missed thanks to school, so stand by for some upcoming reviews. First up is going to be Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin, shortly followed by John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society.

I’m in the middle of buying a house right now. It’s not a fun process, per se, but it does have its own sort of charm. We’ve been in our current place for almost five years, but with the arrival of additional children since moving in, we’re out of space. Thanks to buying our current home, we’re in a decent place financially to be upgrading, despite the volatility of the housing market right now. This does add somewhat to the general disorder of life, but that’s part of things, isn’t it? Wouldn’t change it for the world. Hello, sweet chaos…

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for sticking around for the last eleven years. Let’s grow and change and improve ourselves together, shall we?

Final papers are submitted, and grades are in.

With a 4.0 GPA for my last semester, I’ve completed my graduate school career with a 3.83 cumulative average. My status has moved from “Graduation Pending” to “Degree Awarded,” and my actual physical diploma will be mailed out within the next few weeks. Now, I can rest.

You know. Sort of.

You see, yesterday was my first day back at work in almost three months. My parental leave/FMLA time has come to an end, and so I’ve begun the long process of getting back into the rhythm of the outside world. My Tiniest Child arrived in October, and I’m already missing being at home with all of the kids. It’s almost a month since the last school paper was turned in, and I’m still trying to make peace with the fact that I didn’t really do a lot other than take care of them during the last few weeks. I didn’t really need to do anything beyond just being Dad. It was peaceful.

So, what’s next?

I mean, ideally I’ll keep working in my current position in Young Adult Services until a titled “Librarian” position opens, and throw applications at them for the next year or two. I have no plans to leave the area within the next decade, so I’m perfectly content to keep working where I am. The shift in position would be nice, of course, and include a pay raise, so I’m not going to say no to an opportunity to move up.

This is the end of the Dispatches From Library School, but I’ll be able to return the blog to more of my standard content of book reviews and original fiction/poetry. I’m pretty excited about not having to spend every spare moment trying to carve out concentration time for school. Thanks to all of you for sticking around.

It’s November 30th, and I’ll be finishing my last projects for grad school within the next week. My final research project is due on December 8th, and that will be that. I’m conditionally approved for graduation, with the condition being that I pass my two remaining courses for the semester. As I’m currently sitting at a 96% or better in both, I think I’m going to be okay.

This is kind of surreal. Two years ago, I threw myself into this program with a heavier course load than I needed. I did it because I wanted to test myself and see if I could handle the full-time schedule on top of full-time work and a new baby at home. I made it, but it’s not been easy for me or for my family. I’m ready to see the end of that extra stress.

I’ve not written a lot about school this semester. I’ve been struggling a lot on my final research project. While I got approval from the library to poll my teen patrons, I didn’t get approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) until a few weeks ago. As soon as I did, I got my surveys printed out and set out in the teen area at my library, but it was almost a month after I’d hoped to be done collecting data. While I have had access to other data sources, the core idea behind my research was to see how COVID had impacted my teen patrons. Without their input, I felt like I was missing the entire point. I got pretty heavily depressed for a few weeks while I emailed updates back and forth, trying to get everything that the IRB requested. I was starting to feel like this whole thing had been a waste of time.

When I finally got the email containing my official IRB approval, the relief in the house was palpable. It was amazing how much better I felt, and I realized just how wrapped up in it I’d been. I hadn’t been able to focus properly on anything, and suddenly that block was just gone. I feel like I’ve been a different person for most of the last two years, and I’m finally going to get to be me again.

I’m still on parental leave, since Tiniest Child is almost two months old. I’m looking forward to a few weeks of vacation time to just hang out and enjoy the holidays with my family before diving back into work in January. Some day soon, I might start remembering what free time feels like.

Now I haven’t just been doing school work this semester. I’ve been doing guest work on the second season of The Sudden But Inevitable podcast discussing the classic anime series Cowboy Bebop (and I’ll be back soon to talk about Netflix’s live-action adaptation thereof). I’ve been working at my library (up until the beginning of October, when Tiniest Child arrived). I’ve been playing Metroid: Dread (two complete playthroughs at 100%, now learning some of the speedrunning quirks). I’ve not been attempting NaNoWriMo, because I do still have some semblance of sanity. I worked through a bunch of classic slasher movies (Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Scream, Candyman, etc.) during October. I got my COVID-19 booster shot. I spent time with my kids, just playing with Duplos. It’s been pretty damn good, but it’ll be better once school’s done. Stay tuned.

It’s October, and the month that I spend in celebration of Hallowe’en is one of my favorite times of the year. Nearly five weeks of spooky stories, movies, games, all building up to a night spent in costume asking strangers and friends alike for candy? I’m 100% in.

This year, one of the best scary stories that I had the pleasure of reading was Cassandra Khaw’s new novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth. I’m a big fan of horror novellas, as I love seeing how an author can build suspense over shorter texts, and Khaw absolutely shines here. They skillfully blend Japanese myths and history with a modern setting, leaving me wanting so much more.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth is the story of a group of friends, horror fans all, who have overcome their intertwining pasts to gather at an ancient Heian-era mansion so that two of them can get married. Why not have a destination wedding in a haunted house? After learning about one of the spirits that is said to occupy the grounds, the friends soon find that their planned night of drinking and telling ghost stories may have gone a step too far. An ohaguro-bettari, the ghost of a bride-to-be, has claimed one of them as a replacement for the man who died before he could become her husband a thousand years ago.

Khaw presents us with a group of protagonists who are clearly genre-savvy, but their own interpersonal connections have grown strained, and may prove to be their undoing. “This is the problem with horror movies: Everyone knows what’s coming next but actions have momentum, every decision an equal and justified reaction. Just because you know you should, doesn’t mean you can, stop.”

I loved Nothing But Blackened Teeth, and devoured the novella in a couple of hours. It’s available for you to buy today!

My sincere thanks to NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for a fair review.

So, you’re planning a trip to England.

You’ve watched Midsomer Murders from start to finish, and read every Agatha Christie. You know what to expect.

Or so you think… Maybe there’s one more thing you should read first. Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is a short but brilliant tongue-in-cheek book, preparing you for your inevitable demise in, well, Tongue-in-Cheek, or whatever little town you’re preparing to visit on your holiday. Maureen Johnson presents a very quick read with Gorey-esque illustrations provided by Jay Cooper. The guide introduces you to the titular village and its denizens and their various quirks (beware the vicar) before moving on to the nearby manor and the residents therein.

I loved this book. It took me maybe 30 minutes to read from beginning to end, but I vastly enjoyed every minute of it, spending a large portion of the time stifling my laughter so as to not wake my sleeping family members. Johnson’s humor is spectacular, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s out in the world today. Go find it. Just… Maybe don’t go to the little bookshop in the quaint English village to pick up a copy.

My utmost thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this book in exchange for a fair review.

Okay, y’all. This was one weird book, and I absolutely loved it.

When Rainbow wakes up, she doesn’t remember anything. She doesn’t know who she is, where she is, or how she got there. She finds herself in a video game-like world, with memories slowly being returned to her. In order to fully regain her memories and (maybe) return home, she has to complete a quest. Chad01, the warrior assigned to escort her, is tremendously upset about being paired up with a Nobody, a character without an assigned class. They reluctantly set out across a bizarre world full of nightmarish creatures and magic that no one seems to fully understand.

Rainbow manages to retrieve some more of her memories along the journey, leading her to remember her time with her brother CJ and her struggles with her own mental health and suicidal ideation. The quest to find herself may be more destructive to her than she initially would have expected.

Sean McGinty has crafted a unique story here, with some parallels being drawn to The Wizard of Oz as far as a quest within a questionable reality. It’s a difficult story to describe, and a difficult one to read, but it pays off pretty well. 4/5 stars. It’s out in the world as of *oops* yesterday, so go check it out.

My most sincere thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for an eARC of Rainbow in the Dark in exchange for a fair review.

It’s July, and I’m most definitely not actually in school right now. While I decided not to take summer courses so that I could work at the Colorado Renaissance Festival again, I am still doing some work toward my degree.

I’m taking LS600 through Clarion this fall, and building on the research project ideas that I started back in January. This will be the actual implementation of the plan I crafted during the Spring 2021 semester. I’d planned to ask local teens about their experience with COVID-19, and the impact it had on their use of virtual library services. However, there was some uncertainty back in April about whether or not I’d be able to distribute the survey to teens through my library.

Last week, I got the best news regarding my research. I’ve been granted approval to have 1.) physical copies of my survey available in our libraries and 2.) a digital version of the survey on our teen website. Additionally, I’m in the process of having the survey translated into Spanish for a wider reach. My utmost thanks to my coworker, M, for assisting there. It’s been a long time since middle school Spanish class, and even at my most fluent, I couldn’t have done this without help.

Now it’s time to submit my application to the Institutional Review Board for official clearance from the university to move forward with my research project. I’m really excited to be able to continue my plans for my degree, and also to be able to conduct some research that might be beneficial to my home library as well.

Classes will be starting again before I know it. I’ve got three left to knock out before graduation. Let’s do this.

Évike lives in a small pagan village surrounded by walking trees. Like all of the villagers, she lives in constant fear of the Woodsmen of King János Bárány. Every two or three years, the Woodsmen have come and taken one of the wolf-girls of the village so that her gift of pagan magic might be put to use by the king. The women never return. When Évike was a young girl, her own mother was taken, leaving her to be raised by the village seer, Vírag. Now 25, Évike remains the relative outcast of the village, as she never developed any of the four magic talents possessed by the women of her home. She can’t spark a fire with a word, she can’t forge a blade with a song, she can’t heal the injured, and she has no gift of foresight. Blame falls on her father, an outsider who left the village again before her mother was taken.

When Vírag receives a vision that the Woodsmen will soon return to the village, a drastic decision must be made. She knows that the king has sent them to retrieve Katalin, one of Évike’s peers, and a burgeoning seer herself. Fearing the fate of their village left with only one, elderly seer, Vírag calls Évike to her hut. Quickly disguising Évike and Katalin as one another, Vírag tricks the Woodsmen into taking the one wolf-girl without a hint of magic. Évike is understandably bitter, as Katalin was one of those who bullied her the most in their youth. Now she must pretend to be her as she’s taken away to the capital.

The wild forest around Évike’s village isn’t the only threat along the path to the capital, however, and monsters are very real. Soon all but the captain of the Woodsmen group sent for her are killed. Her deception is revealed, but instead of killing her for the lie, the Woodsman reveals one of his own. He isn’t a mere Woodsman. He is Gáspár Bárány, firstborn son of the king.

Évike and Gáspár forge an uneasy truce. If she helps him find the turul, a powerful source of magic that could save the king from the manipulations of his second son, he will help her search the capital for her own father and protect her people. Time is short, and the journey will be perilous, but it may be that their growing tolerance for each other hides something more…

Ava Reid has provided us with a masterful debut novel, a blend of Eastern European and Jewish history and folktale that is sure to delight older fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Magic, monsters, and romance fill the pages, and the characters resonate with real-world people and events fantastically.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is available today.

My utmost thanks to NetGalley and Avon & Harper Voyager for an eARC in exchange for a fair review.

CW: Pet death.

We had to say goodbye to Hermione over the weekend…

When V and I adopted Hermione (aka Miney/Mineycat/Miner/Not a Major Cat, Just a Miner Cat, etc.), we didn’t know exactly how old she was. We had an estimate. Her previous owner had only had her for a month, and due to circumstances, had to re-home her very quickly. V and I said that we could take her, and so in February of 2016, we officially had our first pet together.

Waiting for attention after my run.

It’s been five years since we took her in. Five years of the world’s most default cat (American shorthair tabby). She was smart, sweet, and loved to snuggle with the kids when they slept. We praised her for her ability to be a much better cat than her sister, Maria (aka Mimble, garbage cat, but decent hamster).

Doing her best meme impression.

She was my late night companion, curling up with me when I would be up watching movies, sitting on my text books when I was trying to study, and making cameo appearances during a lot of Zoom meetings.

“Reading? No. Only pets.”

In October of 2019, we noticed a pretty severe weight loss, and had her checked for feline leukemia and various other possible issues. We came to a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, and started treating it with a combination of diet and steroids. She stabilized. She was still underweight, but we were in the clear.

V made her a sweater to keep her warm that winter.

Later, she had to have multiple teeth extracted because of infection. Her appetite suddenly came back (amazing how little you want to eat when you can’t chew). Last month, she had additional teeth removed, and had bloodwork done again. Everything looked okay, but the doctor surmised that she was older than the roughly 7 – 8 years we thought she was, because her health issues wouldn’t have been uncommon in a cat 3 – 5 years older.

Last Thursday evening, we found a bite on her side where Maria had drawn blood, so we cleaned and treated the wound. She had some blood in her stool that night, and I said that if it happened again, I’d take her in to the vet. I assumed it was due to her injury, but it looks like that wasn’t the case. I made plans to take her in to the vet first thing Saturday morning. 2 AM, however, she didn’t make it from our bedroom to the litter box. I found that she was having trouble standing on her own, and her eyes had lost the ability to track movement. I wrapped her in a towel and placed her in a cardboard box so that we could move her as comfortably as possible.

My last photo of her on my phone.

V contacted the 24-hour emergency vet on the other side of town. I carried Hermione out to the car and said my goodbye, knowing that I would likely not have another chance.

The staff there ran additional bloodwork and concluded that it was most likely that Hermione’s inflammatory bowel disease had developed into an aggressive cancer that had also attacked her pancreas, leaving her anemic, diabetic, and blind in very short order. They could not recommend continuing treatment for her, and the decision was made to let her go. V told me that it was very gently done, and sent me one last peaceful picture.

One last photo of our girl.

Goodbye, Hermione Cat. Thank you for an incredible five years. You are sorely missed.

Kas worked her ass off to get to go off-world with the Scholarium’s archaeology survey. The chance to go see old Earth and study some ancient mech programming code was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a third-wave scholar. She was expecting to be cut off from network connectivity while on Earth, thanks to the toxic malware datasphere surrounding the planet. She was expecting to spend her week there helping the first and second-wave scholars like Gneisin collect data. She was expecting to see mech pilots using the ancient combat suits they had come to study to do battle in the Drome.

She was not expecting Zhi.

Zhi caught her by surprise, tricked Kas into using the Scholarium’s credit line to place a bet on a mech battle she was competing in. The young pilot had debts to cover, and a rich-looking off-worlder was a perfect mark for her plan. Bet big, beat Custis and his shitty slow DreadCarl, and use the profits to get parts to improve her own mech. Nothing to it. It’s just that the House will force her to pilot mechs for them for the rest of her life if she loses this time.

Now Kas and Zhi’s fates are intertwined. Kas can’t afford to lose the Scholarium’s money, and Zhi can’t afford to lose her next fight. The two young women must pool their skills and knowledge, with everything hinging on a piece of technology that hasn’t functioned in hundreds of years. Winning against Custis and taking down the House will take everything they have, and they’ll not survive to get a second shot.

Hard Reboot is a fast-paced novella from Django Wexler, author of The Forbidden Library series. The worldbuilding is incredibly deep in a handful of paragraphs, with hints about what happened to the Earth in the intervening centuries. The mech battles have a weight to them that lets you feel each collision. The development of the bond between Kas and Zhi is spectacular, too, with neither of them knowing how to interact with each other at the outset. I raced through the book in a couple of hours and was left hungry for more.

Django Wexler’s Hard Reboot is available on May 25th. My utmost thanks to Netgalley and Tor.com for the eARC in exchange for a fair review.