Tuesday, March 27, 2012

booknotes: discount armageddon

Starting to think about what to read on vacation this summer? Or what to read on the weekend before finals when you're totally and completely putting off the finishing touches on that term paper? If urban fantasy is your thing, check out Seanan McGuire's latest, Discount Armageddon (Daw, 2012). It's being billed as book #1 in a new "InCryptids" series, and while I can't say it does anything invigoratingly new the stuff it does is still very satisfying and fresh enough that I'll be checking out installment two.

Basic set-up: Heroine Verity Price is a member of a family of human Cryptozoologists who study supernatural beasties and, when necessary, protect them from humans and vice versa. In an attempt to choose between a life of competitive ballroom dancing and the family business, Verity moves from the family's Pacific Northwest location to New York City for a year. There, she not only has to contend with the indignities of a minimum-wage waitressing job, a sect of Price-worshipping mice (my hands-down favorite invention of the 'verse), and the high-stress world of dance competitions ... but also the arrival of a (predictably hunky) member of the Covenant -- the beast-hunting religious organization that the Price family broke away from generations before -- and the possibility that a real life dragon, thought to be extinct, may be hibernating beneath the city.

While Verity's going to have to step it up a bit before I'm convinced she's capable of the character presence of, say, Patricia Brigg's Mercy or Cherie Priest's Raylene, I did enjoy the fast-paced plot and the introduction of a set of characters -- both primary and secondary -- that have promise for future installments.  If this sort of urban fantasy adventure novel is your kind of popcorn read, I'd highly recommend checking it our of your local public library and slipping in your bag for the morning commute.

(I've reviewed installments of McGuire's October Daye series before, and KarraCrow's a fan of her Feed series, published under the name Mira Grant.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

coming soon: books I haven't had time to review

Despite the fact I'm no longer in grad school, spring seems to be the crazy season in my professional world. I'm caught up in preparing a paper for the spring meeting of the New England Historical Association meeting, helping draft the script of a free-lance family history documentary, and catching up on the work that went un-done while I was away in Michigan.

And today, I get to chat with Rachel Hills about her forthcoming book The Sex Myth! I'm stoked.

via Beautiful Portals
So here are the books I've read in the past six weeks or so but haven't found the time to review. As I get to writing the reviews (here and elsewhere) I'll try to update the list with hyperlinks.

Blank, Hanne. Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality (Beacon Press, 2012).

Burke, Phyllis. Gender Shock: Exploding the Myths of Male and Female (Anchor Books, 1996).

Kline, Wendy. Bodies of Knowledge: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Women's Health in the Second Wave (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2010).

McGuire, Seanan. Discount Armageddon (Daw, 2012).

Miller, Neil. In Search of Gay America: Women and Men in a Time of Change (HarperCollins, 1990).

Picano, Felice. Art and Sex in Greenwich Village: A Memoir of Gay Literary Life After Stonewall (Basic Books, 2007).

Pratt, Geraldine. Families Apart: Migrant Mothers and Conflicts of Labor and Love (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2012).

Schalet, Amy. Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2012).

Queen, Carol. Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture (Cleis Press, 1997).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

movienotes: ivor the engine

Hanna and I are still digging out from under last weeks' trip to Michigan. I thought I was going to have a book review for you today, but not so! Instead, please enjoy this five-minute episode from a 1950s English children's television program called Ivor the Engine, produced by the brilliant Mr. Oliver Postgate.