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“That Touch of Ink” by Diane Vallere is the second book in the “Mad for Mod” series, bringing back interior decorator Madison Night, who derives much of her inspiration (and her wardrobe!) from Doris Day.  This is a really fun read, with plenty of twists and turns.  It would probably have been better if I’d read the first book in the series before tackling this, but even so, I quite enjoyed it.  If you are a fan of Doris Day, you will LOVE this book – everything about Madison revolves around her love for (obsession with?) Doris Day and there are all sorts of references for the fan.  The mystery is good – there are enough unexpected twists to keep you guessing, enough suspense to keep the excitement level high, and plenty of humor. There’s even a bit of romance, just for that extra fillip of fun.  Definitely a good read – I’m ready to go find the first book in the series now!

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Getting Read and Cited More, by Susan Gay, is basically a handbook for academics that provides practical suggestions as to how to maximize the visibility and impact of published works, mainly (but not totally) through the use of social media and digital publishing options.  Frankly, many of Gay’s suggestions would work for any type of publication, not just a scholarly journal article.  However, following this blueprint will require a considerable investment in time and effort, which could affect the author’s future output (obviously if you spend more time publicizing your published research, you’re spending less time actually conducting new research!)  What concerns me (as a scholar who has published extensively about citation analysis and its evolution) is that essentially the concept of “publish or perish” is now evolving into “publish and publicize or perish” and the impact of a scholarly work may be affected more by how willing and how effective the authors are at self-promotion than by the quality of the research itself.  Effectively, those scholars who do not jump on the social media bandwagon and actively promote their journal articles may end up being marginalized and ignored.

That being said, the social media bandwagon does exist, and academics are more and more being evaluated not only on their scholarly output but on the impact that output has on the field.  Therefore, young scholars today probably do need to put in the effort to maximize the exposure of their research.  If that is the case, this book provides clear guidelines for them to follow.
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Dragonwriter, from Smart Pop, is a collection of stories and essays about the late Anne McCaffrey, written by her friends, family, and fellow science fiction writers that has been put together by her son and co-author Todd McCaffrey.  But even though the majority of the essays were crafted by well-known writers (Mercedes Lackey, Wen Spencer, Jody Lynn Nye and Bill Fawcett, and David Gerrold, just to name a few), this really is a book written for Anne McCaffrey fans by Anne McCaffrey fans.  If you love her McCaffrey’s work, you’ll love this book – it brings her to life again and gives insights into how her work was created and developed over time.  Even non-fans might enjoy these glimpses into the life of a working author, and the influence she had in the world of science fiction.  

Book Review: “Smart Pop Preview 2013"

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Smart Pop publishes books of non-fiction essays about a specific pop culture subject – books, TV, movies, and comics – that tend to focus mainly on science fiction and fantasy.  Each book focuses on a specific subject and includes a variety of essays by TV and movie writers, best-selling authors, artists, psychologists – you name it.

This book, Smart Pop Preview 2013, includes a sample essay from each of the books coming out later this year.  They include a book about Anne McCaffrey and the Dragonriders of Pern series, one on the Munchkin card game, one on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, a book on Ender’s World, one on the Hunger Games trilogy, and several others.   There even appears to be a book on fanfiction!  The quality of the essays varies, but they were all enjoyable.

Obviously, my familiarity with the subjects of the books varied greatly so the essays based on books or movies I’ve read or seen were much more interesting to me.  I particularly enjoyed the essay by David Brin on Anne McCaffrey – he discussed why she insisted her work was science fiction, not fantasy.  The essay on the architects of the second rebellion in the Hunger Games was also interesting – it focuses on a variety of secondary characters (Haymitch, Plutarch Heavensbee, Seneca Crane, Mags, Madge Undersee, Cinna, even Katniss’ father) and what their role was in the instigation of the rebellion; basically making a case for a considerable amount of prior planning.  There was also a review of the Hunger Games movie and how it translated from page to screen.  My favorite, though, was the article on the history of fanfiction, basically explaining that fan fiction has a long and fairly honorable history (Shakespeare!  George Elliot! The Marquis de Sade! William Makepeace Thackeray!)  It seems to me that these days, it is fanfic if you post it on the net but “real” fiction if you get it published.  That’s the main difference between the massive amount of fiction about Sherlock Holmes that’s posted online and the recent proliferation of books about Sherlock Holmes in the bookstores and on Amazon.

The best thing about this book is that it is a sampler – it lets you peek into a wide variety of Smart Pop’s forthcoming books and whets your appetite.  I know I’m intrigued!  I would definitely like to read the entire book on fan fiction, and the one on Anne McCaffrey (she was one of the authors who introduced me to science fiction).  Hey! I wonder if they'll ever do one on Sherlock Holmes!

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book in exchange for a free and honest review from the author.
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I’m a fan of mysteries, and a Doctor Who fan, so a time-travel mystery seemed tailor made for me!  Plus, the author of “Ripped,” Shelly Dickson Carr, is the granddaughter of John Dickson Carr, who wrote such wonderful Golden Age mysteries (not to mention teaming up with Adrian Conan Doyle on a book of Sherlock Holmes stories!)  “Ripped” is a reasonably quick read, and although it’s meant for teens, it’s definitely something adults would enjoy as well.  It’s a definite page-turner and enough twists and turns to keep most readers guessing.

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Overall, it was an okay read, but not up to the standard I’d hoped for. 

Book Review - "Numbersense" by Kaiser Fung

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“Numbersense” by Kaiser Fung” looks at the new world of “Big Data.” It’s not a statistics text and it does not teach you how to analyze data. What it does is open your eyes to how big data can be used, misused, and exploited. Advances in computing technology has opened the door to the collection and analysis of enormous data sets; even twenty or thirty years ago, it would have been impossible to amass such large amounts of data and it would have been equally impossible to analyze these huge data sets. But today, computer advances make “number crunching” so easy that almost anyone with some basic skills and access to basic statistical analysis programs (or even spreadsheets) can run simple analyses. And big data sets are available to anyone with a computer. Go to the Census Bureau website - there are huge data sets there anyone can play with! Sports statistics are freely available as well, which (as Fung points out) has contributed to an explosion in fantasy sports leagues.

The problem is that not only can big data be analyzed with ease, it can also be misused. Or incorrect conclusions may easily be drawn from these analyses. Unfortunately, these interpretation errors can have enormous repercussions on society. One of Fung’s first examples is how Karl Rove and several other prominent Republicans interpreted poll results to predict that Romney would win hands down, which of course he didn’t. Basically, it’s not enough to understand data and data analysis; Fung stresses the need for “numbersense” - the ability to recognize bad data and/or bad analysis and to know when to keep going and when to stop.

Fung uses recent real-world examples - Groupon, grocery pricing, stats on health and obesity. He looks at the assertions that were made by experts and the data that the experts used to back these assertions up. He looks at what questions were asked - and what SHOULD be asked; what data was used and what data SHOULD be used, and so on. And since you can’t go and conduct your own analyses every time you read someone’s conclusions based on big data, Fung helps the reader know how to interpret those conclusions - to think about them critically rather then just accepting them because they come from an “expert.”

As a user of fairly big data sets myself, I’m already aware of some of the pitfalls. This book, however, made me think more about those issues in the context of my daily life, as opposed to my work. It’s not a quick read, but it is very interesting and the use of current real-life examples really helps keep it interesting.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.
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“Claws of the Cat,” by Susan Spann, is the first in a new series set in 16th century Japan.  The main characters are Father Mateo, a Portugese Jesuit priest living in Kyoto and Hiro, a shinobi (master ninja!) who is under oath to protect him - it’s not totally clear why he has sworn to protect Mateo but it doesn’t seem like he’s totally happy about this.  I don’t know if the author is deliberately vague about the backstory or not, but it’s not really clear how Mateo ended up in Kyoto or how Hiro became his protector.  Maybe there was some dishonor and he’s trying to regain his status and honor through this? Perhaps this will be cleared up in later novels - I hope so!

Anyway, a teahouse entertainer who has converted to Christianity is accused of murdering a samurai at the teahouse.  She asks Mateo for help and he of course agrees, demanding that she be given time to prove her innocence and claiming this is her right as a Christian.  The victim’s son is greatly angered by this; he agrees but insists that Mateo does not prove the girl’s innocence in the next three days, the priest as well as the girl will be executed.  Of course there’s no shortage of motives - every time you turn around, another person has reason to want the victim dead.

The two characters start out with a sort of Holmes/Watson dynamic, with Hiro following along behind Mateo.  But to me, Hiro is the detective here, not Mateo - he does most of the investigating and deducing.  This is not to say that Mateo is bumbling or clueless or anything, but he is a foreigner which affects his understanding of some nuances.  On the other hand, the fact that he is an outsider lets him notice things that might be overlooked by someone who is part of the culture.

What I really enjoyed about this book was not so much the mystery but the setting.  The mystery itself was intriguing but also fairly standard.  There’s the “detective and sidekick” scenario, along with the usual twists and turns and red herrings. You’ve got the expected cast of characters - the victim’s wife, his angry and vengeful son, his strong and domineering daughter, the beautiful and winsome young suspect, the secretive owner of the teahouse, and so on.  Actually, they’re pretty solid and the author describes them well; you do get a clear picture of all of them.  But it’s the author’s detailed descriptions of the life and culture of 16th century Japan are wonderful and kept me interested.  There is even a glossary at the back of Japanese terms used in the book, which is quite helpful!  It’s a lovely window into a fascinating world that no longer exists.

It took me a while to get into this; it starts out rather slowly but eventually it did kindle my interest and I zoomed rapidly through to discover the true killer!  I hope that the author does write more in this series as I do want to discover more about Hiro and Mateo.
I have discovered NetGalley!  You get new e-books for FREE to read and review.  It is AWESOME!  So I will be posting my book reviews here.

My first book is “Buyer, Beware” which is a Style and Error mystery by Diane Vallere – I believe it’s the second in the series.  Basically, Samantha Kidd was a buyer for a fancy fashion store but is currently out of work and living back in her old hometown.  A new store in town Heist, is sponsoring a contest that involves stealing certain objects and Samantha and her friends pull it off!  They go to the opening party to claim their prize – a major shopping spree – but Samantha discovers a body, instead – the store’s handbag buyer!  Oh no!  Heist’s owner offers Samantha the job, with an amazing salary and bennies, but there’s a catch – he also wants her to investigate the murder!  The police aren’t thrilled at her involvement, but when they ID a suspect, she’s not convinced.  She’s also juggling her shoe designer boyfriend, who’s out of the country and is not happy she’s gotten mixed up in another murder, and a sexy guy who not only helped out with the original heist but keeps involving himself in her investigation – and her life.  I don’t know much about fashion but this was a great read.  The characters were engaging and the mystery was very clever, with some unexpected twists and turns.  I’m definitely going to check out Diane Vallere’s other books.


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I Heart Publix is giving away a Coupon Clutch and the organizer system insert package!

*crosses fingers*

I *want* one!  I save a lot of money thanks to coupons and sales, but I really need a better way to organize all my coupons!


What is the canon

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Someone posted on another site recently asking about whether novels etc. were part of DW canon.  I started to think about this and ended up writing a virtual essay on the subject.  Much too long to be able to put in a reply to the original post.  So I'm posting my thoughts here and will link to them for the original post.   This was fun to do, actually!

The original question was:  a) how canon are the books considered?
Here's my thoughts on the subject...Collapse )

Writing rant redux

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wendymr recently posted an entry in her LJ about her frustrations over poor spelling, grammar, punctuation, and so on in fanfic.  I replied - this is one of my pet peeves as well - and also included a little spellcheck poem  I ran across a while back.  I think it's from a Toastmaster's magazine.  Anyway, I love this and thought I'd put it up here as well so that next time I want it, I don't have to hunt all over the web for it again!


An Owed to the Spelling Checker

Wee have a spelling checker.
It came with hour PC.
It plane lee marks four are revue
Miss steaks wee can knot sea.




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[info]wish_girl sent me the ULTIMATE brownie recipe totay.  It *totally* rocks!  I made it tonight and I think my entire family practically bowed down to me in awe.  We are talking serious chocolate overdose here!


Somehow I guessed it'd be this one!

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Find Out Which Disney Girl You Are!
created with
You scored as Belle

Dancing furniture, singing spoons, and a man who needs a serious haircut - sound familiar? Well it should! Belle was a very independent spirit with alot on her mind, much like you are! But in life, there is a needed balance - learn when to speak your mind, and when to hold it back. Sometimes offending someone isn't the best way to go!



Snow White








Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)


















Feed the Hungry: Words for Food!

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</b></a>wendymr had this link on her site that I want to pass on! 

Feed the Hungry and Learn New Words!

It's a game - you guess at the meanings of words and for every word you get right, you earn 20 grains of rice to be donated through the UN World Food Program.  5 words = 100 grains = one bowl of rice.

The rice is paid for by the advertisers; all you do is get the words right and more rice goes to feed the hungry!

Whenever you get a word right, your vocabulary level goes up; get a word wrong and it drops.  So far, my highest level is 47 49 51. 

Coming to England

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*manic dance of glee!!*

Yes!  I have my airplane ticket!  I'm coming over for two weeks in late June/early July!  Half of that time will be eaten up by work but I get a whole week to play in London and see LJ friends (wish_girl - this means YOU!)  and friends from uni that I've not seen in ten years, and do a book crawl down CC Road, and see the DW exhibition in Earl's Court, and basically have a blast!!


DW Meme

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Swiped from pretty much everywhere, actually.  :-) All about  me and DW fandom!  Behind the cut for length.

It *did* work!

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Cool!  My attempt at an LJ cut did work!

*does happy dance*

I've been meme'd!

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hotarus_sister sent me five questions to answer and I did it. It was fun - thanks for letting me play! I tried to put this under an LJ cut but multiple attempts have failed, but here are my answers anyway.

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