Sisters of Sorrow by Axel Blackwell — A Review

25348662Sisters of Sorrow by Axel Blackwell

RaeleighReads rating:love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236


Anna Dufresne lives in a factory that eats children. If the brutal machines don’t kill Anna, her guardians’ neglect and abuse probably will. The only thing this abandoned teen wants is out. But the factory is inside a stone fortress, on an island, where people are sent to be forgotten. It serves as a dumping ground — both for orphans who are not welcome at finer institutions, and for nuns who have disgraced the Church. The walls of Saint Frances du Chantal’s Orphan Asylum hum with secrets and buried scandal.

In the catacombs below the factory, something long dead, something almost forgotten, stirs. It offers Anna a key, and promises freedom, if she will seek it out when she escapes. She knows her plan will endanger the other children, but Anna cannot resist the call of freedom.

Her escape attempt triggers a chain reaction of chaos, shaking the orphanage to its foundation and laying bare its deadly secrets. As Anna flees into the night, she discovers that the evil nuns were the least of her worries. The swirling mist of the island hides terrors more dangerous than she could ever imagine.

Oh. My. God. Just, wow! I was surprised at how good this was! Very original. I did not want to put the darn thing down! Too bad I had to do things like sleep and go to work. Why are those things always getting in the way!?

Anyhoo, Anna. Poor Anna. What a truly awful hand she was dealt in life. The first bit of the book set up my expectations for a kind of Annie-like story where a beaten-down orphan may eventually overcome her life of misery and find some happiness. But. That’s not exactly what happened.

I do NOT want to give away any kind of spoilers for this because in my opinion, what makes this book work so well is that you are constantly wondering what is going to happen next. There is some serious edge-of-your-seat writing going on here.

It’s suspenseful, atmospheric, heartbreaking, scary, and wonderful. I highly recommend it.

If you like dark, moody, supernatural settings, this one is definitely for you! I now have to get my hands on anything else Axel Blackwell has written. Happy reading, loves!

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.



SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki — A Review

superMutantMagicAcademyTamakiSuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

“‘What’s wrong with you?’

‘Nothing. Everything.’

‘Okay. Well, text me when you’re done.'”

So, first off, this is not a graphic novel. Just wanted to clear that up for anyone who was confused. This is a compilation of Tamaki’s web comic of the same name. So, you’ll find mostly single page strips. Here’s some of the Goodreads summary:

SuperMutant Magic Academy has won two Ignatz Awards. This volume combines the most popular content from the webcomic with a selection of all-new, never-before-seen strips that conclude Tamaki’s account of life at the academy.”

Now, don’t let the title throw you. You will not be delving into a fantastical world of magic and witches and supernatural creatures. Well, you will, but that isn’t the focus. This is teen angst at its most excruciating. It’s hilarious. Trust me. Do NOT read this in the library. I got more than a few annoyed looks at my giggles and guffaws. It’s also pensive. A little existential. And a little weird, but in a good way.

I absolutely loved the character Francis. She is fearless and wild and I ❤ her. She’s a performance artist, and… I’ll just leave it at that. Go read the compilation to see for yourself. It’s just really good stuff.

Now, I’ll be honest, I often found the strips to be confusing, and I think that is partly because it is arranged as if it were a complete narrative, but of course it isn’t. But that’s how my brain is trained to read left to right continuous text and imagery. Some sort of page breaks or strip breaks would have been appreciated.

Anyhoo, I’ll just finish off by sharing a few of my favorite strips.

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I read this for the Read Harder Challenge. I wanted to knock off several challenges in one go, and there were THREE comics challenges this year:

  • #4, A Comic written and illustrated by the same person.
  • #8, A comic written or illustrated by a person of color.
  • #18, A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image.

If you like a little teen drama with a side of serious, this is for you. Happy reading!

In Lieu of a Review

Some of you guys have been reading for a while now, and some of you are brand new to my blog. Please just know, if you are reading this, I appreciate you.

Someone asked me awhile back why I was doing this? What did I get for it?

This person knew I was under a great deal of stress, and they assumed automatically that something that takes up so much of my time should be lucrative. Believe me, if I could get paid to read novels and write reviews of them, I’d be doing that! But I don’t get paid to do this. I do get copies of books, an item I value over many many others, but that doesn’t pay the bills!

So why do I do this? Why spend so much of my limited time engrossed in novels and anguishing over their reviews? Why? Because I LOVE books, literature, reading, the written word, authors, writers, characters, fictional worlds that I wish so hard were real.

I APPRECIATE the amount of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, coffee (or tea), and mania that goes into creating these precious works of art.

I think authors, especially indie authors, deserve to have that time and effort recognized.

So what do I get out of it? The joy of finding a new favorite author — one I never would have discovered in a Barnes & Noble. (No offense meant to B&N — love that place!)

What do I get out of it? A myriad of world views that I never would have encountered otherwise.

What do I get out of it? Hope. Yes, you read that right. Hope.

Often times our world can seem so dreary, our options limited, our efforts ineffectual, and we may find ourselves screaming, “What is the point!?” These works, these bound bits of inspiration, represent a tenacity of spirit from people with unfettered creativity and a commendable work ethic. And I find that damn inspiring!

So, I will continue to read their works. And I will read them critically because that is just how I am wired. I will present the world with my opinions on these works and hopefully introduce, at least one person, to a brand new author who will open up a whole new world for them.

Do I sometimes get overwhelmed by this project I’ve taken on? Yes, and I’m going to try to be more honest with myself moving forward about what I can and cannot accomplish in a 24-hour day. I will falter. And I will fail. But I will keep doing this because I love it!

I guess what I’m trying to say is:

I’m back! Check for a brand new review next week!

im back baby castiel


And now for a word from our sponsors…

I'm_just_kidding emma stoneJK! I don’t have sponsors. Errrm, carry on!


What the Asterisk is Linked Data and What’s that Got to do with Libraries

My fellow book nerds, I pause my regularly scheduled reviews, to contemplate some work-related things. I work in a library so, it’s still totally relevant. Below is an altered more profane (and hilarious)* form of a blog post I did for work.

April 10-16 is National Library Week and the theme this year is Libraries Transform. So, I wrote about linked data and BIBFRAME — aka bringing libraries into the 21st century, FINALLY.

What’s Google Got to Do with It?:  Linked Data Transforms Library Catalog Searching

So, what is linked data? Tim Berners-Lee (July 2006), wrote an article for W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) where he outlined the concept of Linked Data. He listed four principles. 1. Use URIs as names for things. 2. Use HTTP URIs so people can look up those names for things. 3. When someone looks up a URI provide useful information using the standards RDF and SPARQL. 4. Include links to other URIs so people can discover more things (probably the most important principle for library data).

Okay, okay, so what does that mean? Well, currently most of the internet is made up of hypertext links that allow people to move from one document to another document, but with Linked Data, there are hyperdata links that allow people and machines to find data that is related to other data that was not previously linked. Basically, rather than people creating these little desert-island documents on the web, everything can become interconnected. Who knows how data can be used after it is all interconnected in this way, but as Berners-Lee says, “It is the unexpected re-use of information which is the value added by the web.”

What does that mean for libraries?




What exactly is BIBFRAME? Let’s try to simplify. BIBFRAME is a model for bibliographic information that allows libraries to become part of the World Wide Web internet (World Wide Web sounds so nineties to me).

In BIBFRAME, words (search terms) are tied together by relationships. It’s like searching for information the way human brains think. Read: a convoluted mess of interconnections and relationships, and a lot of “oh look, squirrel!” moments. For example, maybe I want to find items about Felicia Day (because I lurve her). Searching for “Felicia Day” in the library catalog will lead me to a plethora of items like books, journal articles, or films maybe her new book, and in times past, this would probably be the end of my search.

I totally tried searching for Felicia Day at work, and nothing came up. Sad face. I do work for an academic library though, so maybe I would have had better luck with the public library. Also, in my work blog, I used “Civil War” as my search terms example. Boring! (Sorry if you’re super into the Civil War.)

Now, with BIBFRAME, the items that pop up for “Felicia Day” will contain links to other terms that are related to Felicia – dates, people, places, etc., but also information on the publisher, where the item was published, and other items available in that same format. Perhaps you’re thinking that this is already available in a catalog record, through Subject Headings. You would be mostly correct, except BIBFRAME facilitates searching that is more akin to the random internet hopping we all end up doing when we start with a simple Google search.

Perhaps I start with a “Felicia Day” query, but end up looking at every. single. web show. involving. video. games. ever. Or, maybe I end up looking at comic books featuring female heroes. Or, I may end up looking at cat videos. Let’s be honest, that happens. The possibilities are endless! Also, BIBFRAME links library holdings up with the rest of the freaking internet. I mean, come on, it’s about time that happened AMIRIGHT!?!? That’s really the kicker here. Now libraries get to play in the same sand box as the rest of the internet. Can you tell I’m excited about this yet? Maybe this will help:

dean excited

BIBFRAME sort of Google-ifies library catalog records (not technically, but I wanted to say Google-ify) so that, when people query search engines, those search engines can pick up on the available library data. Meaning, if you searched Google for “Felicia Day The Guild”, it would not only pull up all of the images, videos, websites, and blog posts associated with those keywords, it would also pull up holdings in local libraries. If my local library had The Guild comic, I’d be like:

charlie is this real life

So, if you really wanted Felicia Day’s new book or The Guild comic, but you didn’t want to buy either of them from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Google Play or wherever, you wouldn’t have to do an additional search in the library catalog. Google (or another search engine, but only monsters use other search engines) would automatically search the library catalog for you (because the library catalogers made that data available to the interwebs through BIBFRAME). 😀

Let’s see what the Library of Congress says about BIBFRAME (so we can be academic and such):

When users begin their information hunt with a search engine or social network, whose objective is to help users locate information, then cultural heritage organizations need to help those engines and networks direct users to answers, especially those held by libraries. The BIBFRAME model is intentionally designed to coordinate the cataloging and metadata that libraries create with these efforts, and connect with them. In short, the BIBFRAME model is the library community’s formal entry point for becoming part of a much larger web of data.

So how exactly does that transform library searching?

I can only speculate at this point, but I believe by incorporating library data into the larger web of data, libraries will finally accomplish what we’ve been striving for since the advent of search engines. Namely, we will remain relevant and at the forefront of information querying. Most people do not begin Two people in the known universe begin information searches at the library. Normal people Google. Google is a noun, a verb, and a way of life for many of us. So by allowing search engines, like Google, to have access to library data, we bring that data directly to the people. You know, those pretty pretty people we want to actually darken our doors! Finally, modern day information seekers will be able to Google their way to library holdings. Not only that, but the catalog records we house will themselves be little universes of information, with links to objects related to the original query terms. As I said before, the possibilities here, are endless.

The Road Ahead

BIBFRAME, as I mentioned, is an initiative. It has not yet been implemented in the library-verse at large. BIBFRAME will serve as a replacement for MARC, the standards for bibliographic description that has been around since the 1960s. Per usual, this has caused some dissension in the ranks of catalogers. The biggest question seems to be, if this is a new format, why is BIBFRAME concentrating so much on mapping MARC fields? And, if we concede that we need to implement BIBFRAME, when should we move to BIBFRAME?

The Library of Congress provides answers to these and other frequently asked questions at their FAQ page. The answers to the above questions are: We’re talking about mapping so we don’t have to waste tons of records already in existence — they’re totes different formats…BIBFRAME is still in the discussion and development stage. After it reaches adolescence, vendors and suppliers will need time to adjust to it, and after that there will still likely be a mix of MARC and BIBFRAME for a while (you know, because nobody likes change).

So, as in all things technical, we still have a ways to go, but BIBFRAME will be a very big next step in library metadata, and it will certainly transform the way people use library catalogs.

Further Reading and Additional Information:

I leave you with some gifs of my favorite über-nerd, Charlie/Felicia Day:

charlie its good to be queen

charlie peace out bitches

*The author realizes that humor is subjective and she probably finds herself far more hilarious than anyone else ever will.

**If I missed something/got something wrong/etc. feel free to rip me to shreds in the comments. Peace!

Dear Writers, Please Don’t Make Me Feel Like This

Warning:  if you do not like gifs or memes, STOP reading now.

No review this week. I’m sorry. I thought I was going to have one. I started a book that seemed to have a good premise. It was supposed to be mystery/suspense. It was supposed to be entertaining. It was supposed to be a good, quick read.

It wasn’t.

Dear writers,

Please don’t make your readers confused. Our faces should never look like this:

dean more confused

Or this:

sam confused 2

Or this:

crowley confused

Confusion should definitely not be your goal — not even in mystery/suspense. If anything the writing should be crystal clear and succinct. The only thing my mind should be toiling over is whodunnit!

Not only was the writing convoluted in my most recent DNF, it was chock-full of multi-named characters…ugh! Nothing gets more confusing than referring to ONE character by THREE different names in the span of a page. Please pick one or make it damn clear who you’re talking about.

Last complaint: pick a style. This was a period piece, set at the turn of the century, but the writer couldn’t decide if he wanted to write in antiquated turns of phrase or use modern vernacular. Either would have worked; using both, did not. I made it to around page 60 and then bailed. If I hadn’t been in a crowded coffee shop I probably would have thrown the book across the room. That’s how frustrated I was.

You do not want confusion to turn to frustration because then you get faces like this:

Dear writers,

I love you. Please stop doing this to me.


Thoroughly confused & frustrated reader.