Skip navigation

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.

Dr. Ryland Grace is having a rough day.

Actually, that’s putting it mildly.

He doesn’t remember his own name, for one thing. He doesn’t know who he is, or where he is, or how he got there. But he knows some things. He knows that when he woke up, there were two dead bodies on the table-beds next to his. He knows that there’s a robot that has been taking care of him, and that refuses to let him leave the room until his memory starts to come back.

Soon, he learns that he’s alone on a spaceship, the other two members of the crew having not survived the induced coma they were put into before their voyage. He’s somewhere outside of Earth’s solar system. How does he know that he’s not in our solar system anymore? Science! Whoever he is, Dr. Grace is a hell of a scientist, and the ship he’s on is equipped for a lot of science. As he slowly recovers his memories of the time he spent on Earth prior to his journey, he pieces together a lot.

Once a prominent microbiologist, Dr. Grace left academia to become a junior high science teacher. When an alien microorganism is discovered feeding on the light and energy of the sun, he’s drafted into Project Hail Mary, an international cooperative effort to find a way to study this “astrophage” and prevent it from ending life as we know it on Earth. Chapters alternate between Dr. Grace’s flashbacks to his time as a consultant on the astrophage and the development of the ship to his present timeline somewhere in orbit around Tau Ceti. Now with no crewmates, Dr. Grace has to solve the mystery of the astrophage and find a way to get that data back to Earth. No pressure, right? And just because the other humans aboard the Hail Mary are dead doesn’t mean he’s alone…

Andy Weir is back, y’all. The author of The Martian and Artemis has a new novel out today, and damn if it isn’t a fun ride. For fans who like a little more science (okay, a lot more) in their science fiction, this one’s for you. Project Hail Mary is a fantastic bit of mystery, with an amnesiac narrator on a mission to save the world. After a bit of a stumble with his second novel (Artemis was fun too, but there was some struggle with writing a realistic female perspective), Mr. Weir has returned to the form that made me fall in love with his writing, despite the mathematics throughout. Let’s face it. I switched from studying engineering to English after 2 months for a reason.

My sincere thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of Project Hail Mary in exchange for a fair review.

The countdown to the end of the semester is on. We’re wrapping up the last few weeks now, and my focus is already shifting to this fall. My big capstone project is underway (sort of). I’m drafting a proposal for a research study that will have to be cleared by the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it can officially move forward. As part of that, I’m pursuing clearance from my library to conduct a survey of a group of our patrons. If I get it, I can carry on as initially planned. If not, I’m going to have to rework pretty much my entire plan for data collection… So, fingers crossed that I get the okay from my library.

There’s still a lot to do this semester, but my cataloging class has me feeling a lot better about my understanding of Dewey and MARC. Even if I never end up in cataloging, I’m happy that I decided to dive a little deeper into it over the last few months. With basically one week left, I’m happy to be going into a review session.

So, what’s next?

This fall, I’ll be taking LS600, Research in Librarianship; LS588, Preservation and Conservation of Library Materials; and LS549, Genre Fiction and Reader’s Advisory. I’m pretty excited about these classes. They’re all with professors I’ve studied with before, so I don’t have to worry about getting to know a new teacher. I’ll also be applying to graduate in December. I plan to continue my work at my current library after graduation (I have to keep working here for a while, since they’re doing some reimbursement for my tuition), though I’ll be able to begin applying to librarian positions that open.

I’ll likely drop one more update here at the end of the semester, but for now, I’ve got to get to finals prep. I’m looking forward to a little more free time over the summer.

Murderbot is back!

Martha Wells has crafted another spectacular novella in the Murderbot Diaries series. Taking place between the events of Exit Strategy and Network Effect, Fugitive Telemetry is another solid adventure for everyone’s favorite misanthropic SecUnit.

While trying to settle in aboard Preservation Station as Dr. Mensah’s bodyguard, Murderbot is having a difficult time adjusting. It’s not that it isn’t relatively happy to be somewhere outside of the Corporation Rim. It’s that Station Security isn’t pleased with the idea of a rogue SecUnit wandering around. With the various agreements in place to allow Murderbot to keep its freedom, it has almost no access to the security systems that it would normally rely on to do its job. No hacking of the station SecSystem, only a handful of drones to be able to deploy…

All of these things aren’t a real problem, as Dr. Mensah is fairly safe from Corporate assassination attempts on Preservation Station. This far from their territory, real action against her is unlikely. However, everything gets turned upside down when a dead body is found on board. There’s been a murder on the station, and Station Security needs Murderbot’s help to solve the mystery of who killed our victim and why. No witnesses, no camera footage, no DNA evidence. With only limited resources at its disposal, Murderbot must find a killer who might be a true rival in covering their tracks.

I love the Murderbot Diaries, y’all. I’ve read every one of these books since I first heard about All Systems Red back in 2017 and I have never been disappointed. Fugitive Telemetry is available on April 27th. If you’re a sci-fi fan, or just love mysteries, check it out.

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

Today marks one year since my library first closed for the pandemic. We’d been working toward it for some time, cancelling in-person programs, ramping up our cleaning, and so on. My last day of work before the closure was Saturday, March 14th. I’d been planning to attend the last library event, a used book sale at my old location, that was scheduled for the 15th. I remember texting one of my friends who would always go with us, telling her that we had changed our plans and wouldn’t be going in that Sunday after all. Instead, I started a re-watch of the extended cut of The Fellowship of the Ring, with the intention of getting maybe a few days off while the country rallied.

Six weeks or so later, we came back to our building. We started putting things back together, getting ready to serve patrons via curbside service. We were using our makerspaces to produce masks and other pieces of personal protective equipment. We were installing barriers at staff areas, prepping cleaning supplies, and cordoning off areas that would be for staff-use only. After a month and a half or so, we started allowing patrons back into the building, albeit on a limited basis. Since then, we’ve updated our curbside procedures (and found a far better workflow thanks to our park & text system). We’ve closed and reopened our collection for browsing as local numbers spiked and dropped. We’ve slowly started to allow more access to library services other than checkouts and computers.

It’s too slow for most of the patrons’ feelings on the matter, and too fast for the comfort of many of my coworkers. Some people have quit rather than deal with the stress and uncertainty of the constantly shifting conditions. Many others have been trained to do tasks that were never supposed to be part of their job. It has been exhausting. We’re doing everything within reason to keep pace with patron demands, but it’s all a lot of change in a very short period of time. We’re still not doing in-person programs. Between that and the shift to online learning at local schools, I have only seen a handful of my regular teen patrons within the last year. By the time they’re coming back to the building, they may have aged out of the teen section. There are some that I may never see again, due to moving out of town (or just to the other side of the city) in the middle of the pandemic.

It hasn’t all been bad, mind you. My youngest child is walking and talking, and I’ve gotten to spend way more time at home than I would’ve otherwise. I’m making solid progress on my master’s degree. I got to build a new computer for myself (my first ever attempt at building a PC), and then one for V as well. I’m getting pretty good at it, really. I’ve ramped up my home bartending skills, adding a dozen or so new cocktails to my repertoire. We started a small backyard garden, and are still getting use out of the veggies from it. I started to listen to more audiobooks, since my ability to concentrate on non-academic reading was kind of shot. I kept up my weekly running (15 – 18 miles per week on the elliptical, or now 90 minutes per week on the treadmill), getting myself into better shape than I’d been in some time. And, thanks to work, I’ve gotten my first round of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Life looks a lot different on this side of 2020, and I can’t say that it’s what I was expecting a year ago. Regardless, I’m still here, and still pushing forward. Here’s to better days ahead.

In which it begins again. Or middles?

Grad school semester #3 (out of hopefully only 4) is well under way. This semester’s classes include an introduction to cataloging, web technologies in libraries, and research methodologies. The research course is useful because it will build into my capstone class for this fall. The web tech class is building on one that I took on integrated library systems last semester. The cataloging one is honestly the toughest to wrap my head around, because there’s so many little intricacies within the creation of MARC records. It seems like the answer to the same question can always be different. I’ll get there. Web technologies is technically over at this point, actually. Yay for a more positive experience with a half semester course!

In the meantime, we’re coming up on a year since the initial COVID-19 shutdown here at work. Today is the one year anniversary of our last regular day of operation. It’s kind of amazing and kind of terrifying to see what changes have occurred. Since then, we’ve gone to curbside pickup for materials, and opened, closed, and re-opened access to our physical collection for our patrons. It’s chaos, and it’s exhausting, but it’s still good to be helping people.

Anyway, I must go study for my cataloging midterm. Be well. Get the COVID vaccine as soon as you can.

Eleanor Zarrin has come home from boarding school at last, back to the family home in Winterport. She’s longed to be back among her family for years, but never had any word from them after being sent away. She remembers bits and pieces of her life before, though, and some of her nightmares may have more grounding in reality than she ever would’ve dared to believe.

Upon her return, she finds that most of the people of Winterport are utterly terrified of her family, and by extension, her. For good reason, too. You see, the Zarrins are monsters. Eleanor’s father, grandfather, sister, and cousin are werewolves, hunting around the grounds of the family estate. Her mother spends her days in a washtub to soak the polyps that live on one side of her body. Grandma Persephone funds the family through her crafting of love potions and poisons, and reads tarot. Aunt Margaret doesn’t speak, but takes care of the house. Then there’s Arthur, the family’s assistant, who doesn’t seem to have aged a day since Eleanor left.

When tragedy strikes shortly after Eleanor’s return, the family is left in disarray, and Eleanor takes it upon herself to reach out to her mother’s mother in France for assistance. Little does Eleanor suspect that her Grandmere holds a dark secret of her own, that might just put an end to everything that the family has worked for. And then, of course, Eleanor herself is still a Zarrin…

What Big Teeth is a fantastic gothic fantasy that will wrap you up in its shadows and refuse to let you go. A debut novel from Rose Szabo, it’s available today. Go get yourself a copy.

Thanks to Netgalley for the eARC in exchange for a fair review.