A Bookman’s Tale: A Novel Of Obsession by Charlie Lovett is one of the first books in a long time that compelled me to stay up late and read at every free, and some not free, moment I had. I was totally enthralled by the combination of books, history, romance, and dysfunctional personalities. I must say that I nodded my head knowingly a few too many times at the personality quirks of the main character, the bookman, Peter Byerly.
Is this something peculiar to those drawn to books? Is it such a standard trait that we are loners, prone to anxiety, and attracted to not only the lore but the physical characteristics of old books? The worst problem with this novel, if it can be seen as a problem, is that it has reinvigorated my interest in book collecting and has already been the catalyst to a good number of new purchase. I even started measuring my study this evening to ascertain whether or not I have enough room to add another book case. And for those keeping count, that would be a fifth case within that room.
If you are interested in books, in English history, in a good mystery, or a bittersweet love story, I would highly recommend A Bookman’s Tale. Along the way you may just learn something about Shakespeare and the exciting, yes really, world of rare books. I eagerly await Charlie Lovett’s next book. Luckily I don’t have long to wait; First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen is due out in just a few weeks. Yes, I have already ordered my copy.
If you check Wikipedia, it defines Steampunk as “a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American ‘Wild West’, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.” So, while science fiction typically looks forward, or at least looks at now with a scientific bent, steampunk is looking back – looking back at possibilities and alternatives. And, in some rare cases, it maybe looking at now but from a historical perspective, again with the alternative of more mechanization instead of computerization.
This brings us to Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology by James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson. (And published by O’Reilly Media who gave me a copy for this review.) Now this book is not a steampunk novel, it is instead a look at all sorts of steampunk works and what they say about us and our future. Many scenarios and devices found in mainstream science fiction have come to reality, everything from submarines to space travel, so what truths might lie in steampunk?
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WordPress is the most popular web software used for content management today. One of the reasons for this is the low barrier to getting started. WordPress is not only free, but it is easy to use and there are tons of resources available for theming and expanding a website. But, that ease of use and over abundance of resources can also work against the new user. While the first blog is quick to setup, where do you go from there? How do you make the site your site? How do you get people to visit, engage them once they are there, and get them to come back? And how do you even know about all this? These questions are what Paul Thewlis tries to answer in his book WordPress 3 For Business Bloggers. Note that this is a new and updated edition of his book that was published in 2008.
The publishers, Packt Publishing, sent me a copy of the book for review, and it had the honor of being the first book I read on my new Kindle. One of the things I really like about books from Packt is that they are available in multiple formats including print, PDF, ePUB, and Amazon’s MOBI format. But, back to the book itself.
WordPress 3 For Business Bloggers is well suited as an introduction to what can be done with a WordPress blog for most people. It succeeds in taking the new user beyond the initial install into the world of plug-ins and theme customization. While I am not really fond of the chapter on HTML and altering themes, I can see the necessity of familiarizing yourself with it. I just think that it is too much for most people and too prone to error. Seriously, you are better either in the hands of a real designer or finding a theme that doesn’t need behind the scenes tweaking.
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Trolleycars: Streetcars, Trams and Trolleys of North America : A Photographic History by Frank Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A large softcover book, this would probably still fall in the “coffee table book” category. Its main draw is the large full cover photographs of still existing trolleys throughout the US and some elsewhere in the world. The accompanying descriptions tell a bit about the cars and where they were used, but not exhaustively technical in detail. Additionally, since the photos are primarily of extant trolleys, there are many more examples that aren’t covered because they no longer exist. That being said, this is a great book to browse through for the photos and simply marvel at the varieties.
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Traction Planbook by Harold H. Carstens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Very dated by now, but since most of these lines stopped running well before the book was published, that doesn’t matter so much. At least not for the prototype information. Of course since the book was published other scales, especially N, have gained steam (no pun intended (ok, maybe a little bit intentional)). So, for prototype and overview information it is great. And that is exactly what I was looking for. For the more modern information there are tons of websites and even newsgroups. I stil wish a large, modern, comprehensive guide could be published. But I know that would be a daunting and less that profitable task.
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