Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Everything Grant Writing Book

This is a pretty good guide on how to write a grant proposal. Of course, much of the process depends on the specific grant one is pursuing, but this guide offers general tips on what to expect and what various foundations will be looking for in a proposal.
We get a lot of people here at the library who ask for the Matthew Lesko series of books (he's that frenetic guy on TV who wears a question mark-laden suit). Those books are fine, but they also promote the perception that money is out there just waiting for someone to ask for it. In a sense, that's true, but this guide is more honest about the amount of work that goes into pursuing those funds and the skills needed for success.

Monday, June 16, 2008

All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House

This one is the must-read of the summer, particularly for us Ohioans. David Giffels is a writer for the Akron Beacon Journal, and if you have read his features, you know his witty, sharp voice. This memoir of sorts is the story of how he and his wife restored a grand manor house in Akron. Giffels' writing is effervescent, shimmering, as when he describes the first morning after they've slept in the house: "I woke to it slowly, with the dreamy awe usually reserved for children... [who] must orient themselves to the strange ceiling and the strange walls and the strange smell and a strange need for reconciliation: I am who I always am, but nothing else is what it always is." Those who are accustomed to Giffels' humor will find it here, too, but it's icing; you'll savor every word of this book, even when you're not laughing out loud. The story of the house itself is fascinating--particularly the sheer number of items that needed repair, and the enormity of the task. After you've read this book, come to meet David Giffels at the Twinsburg Library at 2pm on Sunday, September 21st.

Interred with Their Bones

Interred with Their Bones is a dense, labyrinthine thriller. Kate Stanley is a Shakespeare scholar and director at the Globe Theatre in London. Her mentor, Roz, is killed during a fire at the Globe, just after telling Kate that she has found something very important and valuable. Too soon, Kate realizes she's in danger, and she must go racing around the world in search of clues both to the killer and the Shakespearean secret. This is Jennifer Lee Carrell's first novel, although she is already an accomplished academic writer. Her expertise shows throughout the prose, which is both well-written and heavily researched. There were times I had to flip back through the book to remind myself what was going on, but there was enough suspense and intrigue to keep me turning the pages. A great read for the Shakespeare buffs out there.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Horus Rising

Some imaginary worlds have a mind-boggling amount of thought put into them. Often these worlds are the settings of popular games or movies rather than the more widely known literary examples like Lord of the Rings. The Warhammer universe is a good example. Warhammer began as a tabletop game in the '80s, and now is the setting for a slew of video games. Why do developers keep coming back to it? In large part, it's due to the rich backstory (mythos, in gaming parlance).Author Dan Abnett has tapped into some of the central acts in the Warhammer mythos in this series. Set in the 41st century, the story follows a military expedition in a campaign to bring newfound worlds to heel. In Warhammer, the universe is a dangerous place, totally devoid of friendly E.T.-like aliens. Nearly all the cultures humanity runs into wish to annihilate it. Only the martial prowess of elite military units and the single-minded dedication of humanity's emperor ensure survival. The result is a dystopic world that fosters a unique and compelling mixture of Medieval attitudes, sci-fi technology and Orwellian commentary.The particular story recounted by Abnett here is the beginnings of a Judas-like tale. We meet Horus, a prodigal son of the empire, often described as the emperor's right hand. Fans of the game know what happens to Horus, and that knowledge makes this book all the more compelling. The real trick Abnett pulls off is that, for what is essentially a companion to a game, this is actually a pretty good book, and can stand on its own without requiring readers to have any familiarity with the events it depicts. Abnett's characters are lively and likable, and the events are interesting. For those who do know Horus's fate, the book has that same weird draw as episode 3 of Star Wars, when Anekin Skywalker finally becomes Darth Vader.