Category Archives: Website review

The Devil’s Panties by Jennie Breeden

Published: daily, with weekday strips somewhat story driven, like:

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Saturday is “What not to say in the bedroom” such as:

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and Sunday is a doodle, often a pop culture icon with octopus legs like this latest one:

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Genre: adult semi-biographical

Setting: the author’s life in the U.S.

Interest: I’ve been reading The Devil’s Panties for a long time, and I cannot remember how I started (as per usual).

Summary: We get to see into Jennie Breeden’s life¬† – everything from her family get-togethers to life as a web-comic (she often breaks the fourth wall) to life in general. Breedon likes the snarky comment and isn’t afraid to put in the occasional adult situation. She also has several alter egos – a devil, a princess, and an angel, that show up from time to time.

Final thoughts: I love this comic. I know I say that about all the webcomics I review, but that’s because if I don’t love it, I drop it. There’s so many good comics out there, I hate to waste time on mediocre. While it’s only occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, the comic is always enjoyable. It’s also a very adult comic, with swearing, drinking, and sexual innuendo common. Be sure to hover over the comics to get another comment on the comic.

Title comes from: According to the FAQ, it was a friend’s hypothetical band name that was borrowed.

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Book-related donation opportunities

I’m going to do something a little different and post about two book-related donation opportunities. I became aware of both of them from a post by Pat Rothfuss, via Scalzi’s blog Whatever.

first_book_logo_color-150x150The first charity I want to bring to your attention is First Book. I’m sure if you’re reading this blog that you love books. In fact, you might have a few (hundred) lying around your house. When I was growing up, I had an aunt that gave me a book for every gift-giving occasion. I must admit, I’ve turned into that aunt for my nieces and nephews. I like books, I think they’re important, and I make sure my kids have access to many, many books.

What boggles my mind is there are houses without books. How can you have a house without a book in it? I barely have a room in my house without books, let alone the whole house being book free. First Book makes sure books get into homes that need them. As a bonus, right now Random House is tripling any donations. They’re also highly ranked by Charity Watch, with 97% of donations going to getting books in homes. Please think about donating to First Book.

Worldbuilders-Logo_Web_Smaller1-300x214The other charity I want to introduce you to is a two-for-one. Six years ago, Pat Rothfuss decided to use his fan base to do some good and created Worldbuilders to raise money for Heifer International. logoHeifer International is a great charity, although it has nothing to do with books. Instead, they focus on providing animals to families in need so they can generate both food and income. I’ve given to the charity for many years, now. My favorite aspect of the charity is the family who’s given the animal is expected to pass on offspring to another needy family in their community so the benefits continue to accrue within the community.

What Worldbuilders does is provide you some incentive to donate to Heifer. They have a wide variety of geeky donations (games, books, accessories) that they have put into a lottery. For every $10 you donate to Heifer through the Worldbuilders team page, you get one ticket put into the lottery. Personally, I was planning on donating to Heifer, but now I have a chance to win some cool swag for doing so. There are also auctions for some of the rarer items if you are interested.

Two great charities that you might not be aware of. Think about donating to one or both today.

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Postcrossing update

logo-470x62I’ve been a member of postcrossing for nine months, now, and still loving it, so I thought I’d provide an update on my stats and some of my favorite postcards I’ve received. If you missed my initial review of the website and how it works, check it out here. I’m up to 52 postcards sent and 48 received, which averages out to my first 50 cards, which is a nice round number to do some reflection. I’m including some of my favorite postcards that I’ve received throughout this post.

A postcard of stamps from the Netherlands. They even have a postcrossing stamp!

A postcard of stamps from the Netherlands. They even have a postcrossing stamp!

Postcrossing keeps track of overall stats as well as my personal stats. As of this point in time, there are users registered in 218 countries that have sent over 15.9 million postcards! My 50 postcards seems like nothing when I consider all the cards flying around in the postal services.  I do ration myself to two postcards sent out a week, or I could see this hobby turning into a major money sink. Between the cost of international postage, and the postcards themselves, it adds up quickly! The good thing is it costs the same amount to send a letter or a postcard anywhere outside of North America (Canada and Mexico cost a different amount As of the end of January, the international cost went up five cents, and all countries are the same, including Canada and Mexico), so I can just get one stamp and not have to head to the post office any time I want to send out a postcard.

A lovely landscape in Germany

A lovely landscape in Germany

At this point, I’ve sent cards to 13 countries and received cards from 21 different countries. I’ve sent the most cards to Germany, with my singletons going to the Ukraine, Sweden, Serbia, China, and Canada. I’ve received the most cards from the U.S. and Russia, but I’m always hoping I’ll get a card from a new country in the mail. My singletons at this point include Austria, China, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and (for some reason, the one that made me the happiest to receive) Lithuania.

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My Lithuanian postcard – how exciting!

It certainly adds quite a bit of anticipation every time I go to the mailbox, hoping there’s a new postcard. I’m almost disappointed when I get multiple postcards in one day, since I’d prefer to spread out the happiness. Interestingly, there’s almost as much joy in sending a card as in receiving a card. I love looking through my collection of postcards and trying to pick out the card that will make the recipient happiest. If my postcard is favorited, I know I did well in my choice. I never have a problem filling up the back of the postcard. Often I’ll write about the significance of the postcard, or the latest holiday, or what’s going on lately.

A funny postcard from Russia.

A funny postcard from Russia.

Now I’m on the lookout for more postcards, preferably cheap. I was so excited when our family went to the Niagara Power Authority Visitor Center and they had free postcards – score! I’m trying to find more pop culture postcards, since most of what I find locally are landscapes, and I want a variety of postcards so I can match up what I have with what people want. It’s an ongoing quest, I guess – anyone want to join me in the fun?

A traditional dress from the Ukraine.

A traditional dress from the Ukraine.

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Monday Musings: Audio Books

The Book Barista has decided to start a weekly discussion called Monday Musings, and she encourages the rest of us to participate. I decided to oblige, so I’ll talk about my opinion of audio books.

MondayMusingsI will admit, I don’t listen to a lot of audio books, but they definitely have a time and place in my repertoire of books. I have discovered that while I enjoy reading novels, I prefer my audio to be more short form, which is why I love to listen to Podcastle and EscapePod. If I do happen to pick up an audio book for myself, I usually get it from PodioBooks, which treats the book like an episodic narrative, giving you the story in small chunks instead of all at once.

I have found that audio books are great for travel. My kids will sit quietly in the car for hours if we have a good audio book playing. A good narrator can definitely transport you into the story. I love it when they can do all the accents, and you can tell the different characters based on voice alone. There’s not much chance to talk in the car when an audio book is playing, since everyone is concentrating on the story, but it makes the miles and time fly by.

I’m not one to buy audio books (I don’t buy many books, at least not new). Books for the car we get from the library so we can use the CD player in the car. For myself, I use PodioBooks to put the book on my iPod. I know you can “borrow” audio books from the library, but I run a Mac so the technology is tricky. The only time I’ve bought an audio book was when I forgot to cancel my Audible account before the free month was over – oops. While you can get PodioBooks for free, I typically donate a bit of money once I’ve finished listening to the book, since it is a service that I enjoy.

So, what do you think about audio books? Either join up the linksy at Book Barista or comment below. I’d love to hear what you think!

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Review of SF Signal

sfsignalLogov4If you’re a science fiction, fantasy or horror fan, you should be checking out SF Signal, a fanzine dedicated to genre-related news and books on the internet. There’s a variety of information they provide on a daily basis, including:

  • daily tidbits, which point you to author interviews, news, interesting articles, and art
  • free science fiction, fantasy or horror fiction, whether at author’s sites or larger sites (like Amazon), including everything from flash fiction to novels to audio
  • the table of contents to recently published magazines, including publications such as Analog, Asimov’s, and Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine
  • new genre books that are coming out each month
  • book trailers
  • book reviews
  • author interviews
  • discussions on topics relevant to writing or reading genre literatures
  • a weekly podcast
  • and on weekends, they provide short science fiction or fantasy videos to watch

I will admit I don’t read everything that comes through my feed (it is pretty extensive on a daily basis), but it does keep me informed on what is going on in the world of science fiction, fantasy and horror. It also provides links to enough free reading material that I would never have to buy a book or even go to the library again, if I was willing to stick within the genres they review. If you enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, and horror, this is a must add since it collates so much of the far-flung information on the web. Sure, you could find a lot of the information on your own, but why bother since SF Signal does it all for you.

*All links go to the most recent example I found at the time I published this post. Most likely, they’ve published something new in that category since then, so check out their homepage at SFsignal.com.

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PHD Comics

phdPHD (Piled Higher and Deeper) Comics is a webcomic by Jorge Cham that highlights the humor, inanities and difficulties found in grad school. While the main character’s major isn’t specified, it is definitely implied to be a science that involves lots of equations and experiments that fail on a regular basis. He has a major professor that either ignores him or offers unhelpful suggestions, and he’s not sure he’s ever going to graduate (which is true of all of his friends in the strip as well).

I will admit to feeling a particular fondness to this comic because I’ve experienced so many of the situations depicted. I have a Masters in Fisheries, so I was a grad student for several years, and I’ve had to go through the pain of finding grants, doing my major professor’s work for him, and trying to make my data more interesting than it actually was. Looking back on it, there’s a lot of humor, which Jorge mines to great effect. For example, my latest favorite strips were a grad school/Les Miserable crossover, where he wrote a grad school version of I Dreamed a Dream (found here), Master of the Lab (found here), On My Own (found here), and One Year More (found here). Occasionally, he’ll provide a Ph.Detour which is a video that shows science in action (like the one on the Mars Curiosity Rover found here).

If you’ve ever been to grad school, particularly in the sciences, you’ll love the comic. Start at the “New to PHD?” page and see if it makes you laugh, even if it is a bit ruefully.

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Unshelved by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes

Published: daily, with new strips Monday through Thursday, a book review on Friday, and old strips on Saturday and Sunday. The current strip is posted above.

Genre: realistic fiction

Setting: a library

Interest: It’s about a library, which I visit at least once weekly, and usually at least twice a week. Of course I’m interested!

Summary: The strip focuses the people who work in a library and how they interact with each other and their patrons. The authors provide a bio of the main characters, which sums up the basic premise of the strip (you can find it here). They also do graphic book reviews on Fridays (that is reviews in a picture format, not necessarily of graphic books).

Final thoughts: An amusing three-panel comic. While it doesn’t make me laugh out loud as often as Looking for Group (see my review of that webcomic here), it really provides a slice of life that I enjoy reading about. Goodness knows I’ve spent quite a bit of time in my local library (first name basis with the librarians!). It’s been on my Google Reader for over a year, and I’m not yet tempted to drop it, so it has longevity.

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