Library Loot Wednesday

TEN books this week. Because taking a blog hiatus doesn’t keep holds from coming in! I have to find a way to get reading again! First I checked out the two books following Dark Lycan, Dark Wolf and Dark Blood. Dark Wolf as an ebook. I’ve actually already read all three; I’m not going to bother reviewing Dark Wolf and Dark Blood here. They’re just as formulaic as Dark Lycan, at this point they’re just guilty pleasure/comfort reads for me!

Three YA books full of representation – Wicked Fox with Korean rep, Technically, You Started It, with demisexual rep (MEEEEE and I don’t see it very often!), and Love from A to Z with both Muslim rep and chronic illness rep.

deep survivalThe last book of my first trip was to satisfy prepper brain – I checked out Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why: true stories of miraculous endurance and sudden death.

On a second trip to the library this week (because holds came in!) I picked up The Hundredth Queen and Spin the Dawn. I’ve read that while Spin the Dawn has chronic illness rep/disability rep, it also has the MAGIC CURE trope, so we’ll see.

Salvation Day is more for my husband than for me; it’s sci-fi bordering on horror. I may still read it. Storey’s Country Wisdom & Know-How – A Practical Guide to Living Off the Land is a collection of a bunch of leaflets they had previously published into one massive, encyclopedic tome. I’m trying to check out books from my Survival Library lists to make sure I actually want the titles on there – but this looks like one that will stay on the lists. (We’ve joked that if shit hits the fan, while people are looting liquor stores and Walmart, I’ll be looting the library and garden centers.)

Short Hiatus until August

As you may have noticed, I’ve missed a couple of days this week. It’s just me behind this blog, so posting every day is sometimes a stretch, but it’s usually pretty doable.


Summer is always bad for me – I don’t go into detail about my chronic illnesses much, but I have a couple of autoimmune diseases, which have the cumulative effect of giving me a LOT of fatigue, pain everywhere if I exert myself too much, and an extreme intolerance to heat, as the main inconveniences. This translates into sleeping for ten hours or so at night, dozing off whenever I try to read, and aching if I sit in my computer chair too long, aggravated in the summer when it’s warm. I’d probably just lay down and die if I didn’t have air conditioning.

So my library books are piling up, and every time I sit down to read I fall asleep instead. If I can’t read, I can’t review! Top Ten Tuesdays require time spent at the computer typing, as does cross-posting reviews to various places. Doing that too long makes my shoulder ache, and our office is the warmest room in the house, so on hot days that’s just impossible. Thanks to Feedly, I can blog hop on my phone, so I’ve actually been doing more of that lately. (This post on Reader Voracious helped me get that set up!)

I have a doctor appointment coming up soon; I’m hoping to change my meds and maybe fix this fatigue. (And perhaps the pain in my shoulder.)

I’ll still be active on Twitter – I have in fact started a second Twitter account just for the ridiculousness of inserting “yeet” into famous quotes. (If that sounds like your brand of weirdness, it’s @JustYeetThings.) And I have some books I’m really excited about, so I’m hoping to get some reading down, even if it’s slow. But I’m going to take a semi-hiatus until at least August 1st. (I still have Library Loot posts scheduled, and I might still do Top Ten Tuesdays and -maybe- a Friday 56.) But there won’t be any reviews for a bit.

I miss feeling AWAKE.


Library Loot Wednesday

I had one hold come in this week – one of my guilty pleasure paranormal romances from Christine Feehan, Dark Lycan – but I actually walked into my library and looked around a bit, and came up with three more. (Because of COURSE I DID.) I found two cookbooks on gluten free desserts, but one of them, Sweet Cravings, uses potato starch in almost EVERYTHING. Since I also can’t have nightshades, that one’s going back to the library on our next trip. The other one, though, Paleo Indulgences, doesn’t use potato starch. I’ve had really good luck with Paleo recipes. It does have tomatoes and other nightshades in some of the savory recipes, but I can sub those out. I got it mainly for the desserts anyway!

UnmentionableThe last book of the four is one that’s been on my TBR for a while, Unmentionable: the Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners. It has a blurb on the front from Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) saying it’s hysterically funny. Given that she’s hysterically funny herself, I’m looking forward to this one.

TTT – Settings I’d Like to See More Of

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All).

tigers daughterWell, first, because my husband has been talking about it, more set in Mongolia during the era of the Huns. There were a lot of fascinating things happening there, and at least here in the US we don’t see much fiction set during that time. It’s possible it exists but hasn’t been translated. One notable exception is the trilogy beginning with The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, which my husband just finished and has been poking me to read!

I’d like to see more post-climate-apocalypse fiction about surviving the world as the climate changes. I don’t like zombies, so a lot of the standard apocalypse fiction is not to my taste. Disease-based apocalypse just aren’t that interesting to me, though they don’t give me nightmares like zombies do. (I’m not someone who jumps at shadows, but zombies trigger something in my subconscious that flips out while I’m sleeping!)

clock dance book clubI always enjoy finding books set in Baltimore, or the wider Maryland area. I love reading books in which I can personally recognize some of the landmarks. That’s about the only thing that got me through Clock Dance, which is absolutely not my normal kind of read. (It was a Barnes & Noble Book Club pick, back when I didn’t have a D&D game on Tuesdays!)

Similarly, anything set in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon specifically, since that’s where I grew up. Every time I run across Eugene mentioned in a book (which is always unexpected, and happens far more than you’d think!) it makes me grin.

I want to see more dragons coming back to present-day. There’s plenty of dragon-shifter romances, but I mean like Smoke Eaters and The Great Zoo of China, where the dragons suddenly come back and modern society has to deal with them. I wouldn’t mind seeing intelligent, non-animalistic dragons come back, that could be interesting.

I don’t read a lot of hard sci-fi, but one setting that always intrigues me is Generation Ships, or spaceships that are huge enough to be worlds unto themselves. The Diabolic and Dust are both examples of this, and so, apparently, is A Memory Called Empire, which I have yet to read but really want to. Bonus, the author is local! Tor has a roundup of this particular setting, so I now have more books to read!

More underwater settings. Whether that’s mermaid kingdoms, cities built in domes underwater likeĀ Bioshock, humans genetically modified to breathe underwater, I don’t care. Just get us in the oceans!

Honestly, just things set in countries we don’t typically see things set in. Often this means written by people from those countries and translated, which is even better. The Hangman’s Daughter, (and its sequels) set in Germany in the 1600s, is a great example of this, but more far-flung would be even better. Madagascar? Taiwan? Nigeria? Guatemala? Peru? Finland? I don’t read much contemporary, so historical (or fantasy!) written in those settings would be my preference.

red white & royal blueSo here’s one I have seen very little of, but watching Legally Blonde 2, and reading Red, White, and Royal Blue recently made me think of: I want to see more fiction set in the halls of Congress. Give me characters who live and work in the White House and the Senate. It doesn’t have to be political intrigue – I don’t want Bourne-style John Grisham stuff. I want politicians living their lives.

I could only come up with nine this week – this was a really difficult topic! I have such wide-ranging tastes in books that I don’t have too many settings I’m really committed to. I can’t wait to see what other people came up with this week!




Book Review: Dark Lycan

dark lycanDark Lycan
by Christine Feehan
Paranormal Romance
384 pages
Published 2013

Oof. It has been a weekend, folks. The husband woke up with severe vertigo Saturday morning, and we wound up in the ER most of Sunday for it. Verdict is an inner ear problem (go see a specialist!) and slight dehydration. That took seven hours? So after a full day of worrying about him Saturday, and seven hours ferrying him around a hospital Sunday, I am EXHAUSTED. So this is going to be a quick one.

Dark Lycan is the twenty-first (!!!) book in the Dark series, Christine Feehan’s epic world of Carpathians and vampires. And yes, they’re different. I don’t think that number counts her “Wild” books, on leopard shifters, even though they exist in the same world. Dark Lycan introduces (I think, it’s possible they were mentioned in an earlier book, but I don’t recall them) a new species, the Lycans. Lycans are to werewolves as Carpathians are to vampires.

I suppose I should explain that.

Vampires are Carpathians that have given up their souls. They are almost invariably men, because male Carpathians eventually lose the ability to feel emotions and see colors (the better to be hunters of vampires, often their former friends and family) unless they find their lifemate. This is where the paranormal romance comes in. Each book is a story of a Carpathian finding his lifemate and “claiming” her. It’s an ancient ritual that binds their souls together, giving them a telepathic and empathic connection and involves a lot of sex and exchanging blood and yadda yadda yadda basic vampire erotica.

The Dark series is a bit formulaic – dominant powerful hero, sassy heroine that doesn’t know what he’s capable of, outside danger to them both, instant love because she brings color back to his world and he has a primal need to bind her and have sex with her and yeah. I’d stopped reading several years back (and I had a TON of these books!) because I was a bit tired of the near-chauvinism and almost-forced sex storylines. But I wanted some mindless guilty pleasure and the Dragonseeker bloodline (a specific family line of Carpathians had always intrigued me. So I picked this up and was pleasantly surprised. Fenris didn’t force Tatijana – on the contrary, he didn’t want to bind them. (Maybe Feehan’s modernizing slightly?)

Feehan’s strength, I think, is in introducing characters whose love stories you want to read. In this book we see a bit more of Fenris’ brother and his lifemate, who is also not yet bound, and they’ve been a slow-burn through several books because I remember them from when I stopped reading, a couple books before this one! This book also introduces Tatijana’s sister, and the man who will be her lifemate – but he’s a Lycan, so that’s…strange. The normal formula is that the man is always a Carpathian, but the woman isn’t always. She can be converted (because they do work off standard vampire mythos) so I assume that’s what they’ll do to her lifemate? Anyway, I’ve learned those two couples are the next two books, so I’ve put holds on those at the library because now I’m hooked again!

Side note: I thought this was going to be a quick paragraph or two fired off, but then I started talking about the background and – well I used to really love these books. Apparently.

So. In Dark Lycan we introduce the Lycans, have a new, real partnership between equals, and actually have a bit LESS explicit sex than I’m used to seeing in the Dark books. Cool. The pacing was a little weird, but the combat with vampires is never really the point of the books, it’s the romance and the feelings and the sex, so whatever. These aren’t great literature. They’re hot fluff when you need to turn your brain off for a while (and maybe turn other things on).

If you like Paranormal Romance, and don’t mind your heroes very dominant and rather forceful, you’d probably enjoy this series. I’d recommend starting at the beginning, though, because all the characters and background history would be VERY confusing to someone that hasn’t learned it through the books. Goodreads has them listed in order.

From the cover of Dark Lycan:

Tatijana of the Dragonseekers spent centuries encased in ice with her sister, trapped in limbo between life and death, never speaking to a soul other than those who tormented her. Now, she has been freed from her frozen prison by an unknown descendant. Awakened in human form, Tatijana yearns to explore the modern world in which she now lives – a world with more mysteries than she is prepared for.

Fenris Dalka has returned to the Carpathian Mountains after a long absence to be with his brother. He is scarred by centuries of battle, and every hard-won victory has been stamped into his bones. But the real reason for his return home could prove deadly if discovered by the wrong man – or woman. Upon his arrival, he is compelled by a beautiful and enigmatic stranger who carries the scent of fresh earth, of forest, of the night itself.

In time Tatijana and Fenris will discover all that unites them – their secrets and pasts, their predators, and the hot flash of passion that stirs their souls. Yet just as surely, seduced into the silvery darkness of a full-moon night, they’ll also discover everything ancient and evil that exists to destroy them.

Amazon and Goodreads Alternatives

This last week was Prime Day at Amazon, which means we also had the (what seems like) annual Amazon Strike. I am all for Amazon workers getting better working conditions. Their workplace sounds like hell. I had no problem avoiding Amazon for two days. You know what was more difficult? Avoiding Goodreads.

Because yes, Goodreads is owned by Amazon. In the interests of disconnecting from Amazon for more than a couple of days, I started looking for Amazon and Goodreads alternatives.

The first one that many people think of is Library Thing, and since they bought out Litsy, which was one of my favorite social networks, they were my first thought too.

Unfortunately, Amazon has a 40% stake in Library Thing. Which also now covers Litsy. Tim Spalding has controlling interest, at 60%, and he’s honestly pretty awesome (the things he’s done for Litsy are fabulous) but it’s still all profiting Amazon.

So what can I use for cataloging books? I need something with a robust database, where I can organize my Read and To-Read shelves, along with multiple other lists of books. I don’t need a social media aspect to it, though that can be fun.

So I’ve started doing some research on alternatives to Amazon and Goodreads.

Biblio is a marketplace, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, with a key difference: they source from independent booksellers. Searching for a book will bring up a page of results, with each result being from a different seller. The sellers set their own shipping, and the marketplace is worldwide, so it’s important to note shipping costs and looking for sellers from your own country if possible. You appear to be able to filter by country, though. Prices are slightly more expensive than Amazon I think, from searching a couple of random books, but not more than a dollar or so, at least on the books I checked. (That’s for US pricing. May be different for other countries.) It’s at least worth looking at before you nab a book off Amazon.

It IS a Used & New marketplace, so if you’re trying to pre-order a book, I’m not sure that’s possible here. Interestingly, I tried searching for The Dragon Republic – due out in August – and found someone selling an “Uncorrected Proof” copy. For $70. I’m…not sure how legal that is. Curious.

(Edit: Biblio has informed me it’s not illegal, just often disallowed on specific platforms so it’s unusual to find.)

Biblio does do a lot of charitable work, building libraries, donating books, and offsetting their carbon footprint in various ways.

Riffle might actually be a good replacement for Goodreads. There’s a social feed, you can look up books and mark them read or to-read, and you can make lists – not unlike shelves in Goodreads. My only immediate quibble is that I can only add books to lists from the list; I can’t see a book I like, and add it to a list of my choice from the book page. There should be an “Add To List” button! I do like the lists, though; you have a choice of just displaying the books as a grid, or displaying them in a slideshow, with notes! I may work on moving my shelves over to Riffle. Riffle does NOT have the neat Reading Stats function that Goodreads has, which is unfortunate, but I could live without it if I needed to. Riffle also doesn’t have the widgets to plug into my blog like Goodreads does, or Reading Challenges, or Giveaways, but the Giveaways are really the only thing I care about there. I can maintain a To-Read list on Goodreads (so I get notified of giveaways from it) if I need to. It DOES have a Goodreads Import option, which is fantastic.

I’ve already imported all of my books, and you can find my profile here. I received an email when the import was done, and they noted that they could not find 510 books, but they don’t note which ones they couldn’t find, which is unfortunate. They DID, however, import all my ratings and reviews, which is handy. So I don’t have to go back through and input reviews from the blog’s history! I am quite intrigued to play with Riffle, especially the list feature, since I can add notes as to why I added a book to the list. On that subject, they did NOT import shelves other than my to-read, currently reading, and read shelves. So I had to sit down and re-do my Lists.

Things I wish Riffle did:
– Add To List button on book pages
– More detail on book pages – page count, publication date, ISBN.
– Collect things I have liked so I can find them later. (Especially other peoples’ Lists!)
– Let me fine-tune what shows up on my social feed. (Right now it’s all “Here’s a popular review of -book you’ve read-, what do you think?”)
– Have an “Add to to-read/read list” button on books on Lists.

– Have a mobile app, or a better working mobile site!
– Have an easy to find feedback function so I could tell them these things!

Libib is solely a cataloging app/site. There is an app for the phone, and a website interface. You can use it for free for up to 5,000 items, but for more than that you’ll have to subscribe for $9/month or $99/year. The subscription also appears to come with robust lending features – this might be actual small library software. (Up to 100,000 items with subscription.) I could see this being useful for cataloging the books I actually OWN, but for my to-read, read, and categorized lists? I’m currently sitting at 3500 items, so it wouldn’t last me for much longer! I scanned in several of my owned books, however, and it’s pretty nifty for that. (Just boot up the app on your phone and start scanning barcodes!) I’m a little annoyed that if the barcode doesn’t scan (some of my husband’s university textbooks have stickers over them) I have to enter the book via my desktop. Features are very different between phone and computer.

Libib would be very useful if you can’t remember if you own a book or not and need to decide while you’re away from your shelves. I’m not sure if I can add ebooks to this collection or not, but it would sure be helpful if I could. I’m constantly forgetting what I have on my Kindle! Regardless, I have started to scan my personal collection into the database, just for fun. It works pretty well for anything with an ISBN number, though it couldn’t find three of my Book of the Month books. I wrote down the ISBN numbers to take upstairs to my computer and input them, but not their titles, so I’m going to have to go back through my Book of the Month titles (they’re all together on a shelf) and figure out which three they were and add them by title. Next time I will write down both their ISBN and Title before heading upstairs to the desktop! I wish I could search by ISBN on the mobile app, but my options seem to be scan it in, or input it entirely manually without being able to search a database.

Thriftbooks is another marketplace for books, but this one is unique because they have a warehouse just across the train tracks from my house! I’m curious, looking at the reviews on Google Maps, if that means I can just walk in and browse their stacks. I wouldn’t expect so, but some of the reviews make it seem that way. It might be worth a phone call! Thrift Books has warehouses in multiple states across the US. They started in Washington, and have spread to nine more states. They’re all used books, and shipping is free on purchases over $10. It’s only $1.99 each book on purchases less than $10, so still a pretty good rate. They do ship outside the US, but the shipping rates vary. Like Biblio, Thriftbooks is mindful of their impact on the environment, recycles what they can, and does a lot of donating and charity work with literacy and prison library programs.

I’m still looking into alternatives beyond these, but these were all I’ve had time to thoroughly poke at. I may do a Part 2 on this if I find more sites I want to play with!