Itinerant Librarian on Books

Like others, I am trying this out after GoodReads sold out to Amazon. I am an avid reader, and I hope to keep track of what I read as well as share it with others who may be interested.


 A little more about me:


I have been an academic librarian since 2004, and I started blogging in 2005. Prior to this, I have been a high school teacher and a college adjunct instructor. One of my passions is to teach others how to know when they need information, how to find it, and how to make use of it in an ethical way. I have access to a diverse range of information sources, and I know how to use them. Plus, I arm people with facts and information. I am firm believer in teaching these very important skills.

I call my professional blog A Simple Scholarly Librarian (where, among other things, I read a lot of library literature so you don't have to, then I write about it. This blog is currently on hiatus). I also keep my book review and personal blog at The Itinerant Librarian.  Finally, I do have a commonplace/scratch pad blog at Alchemical Thoughts. Feel free to check my blogs out. Comments are always welcome.

Married to The Better Half, we have a daughter who reminds me innocence and wonder are great things. We also have two cats who keep life interesting.

Booknote: Browsings

Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books - Michael Dirda

My review of this book over at The Itinerant Librarian. Check it out.

Booknote: Book by Book

Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life - Michael Dirda

My review of Book by Book by Michael Dirda over on my blog.

Reading about the reading life: June 9, 2019 edition

The latest installment of the semi-regular series "Reading about the Reading Life" I do over at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I collect stories about reading and the reading life, items related to reading, writing, literacy, and a few other things I think may interest my four readers. Check it out. Feel free to comment.



My review of March: Book Three

March: Book Three - John   Lewis, Nate Powell, Andrew Aydin

This is one of the books I left as "currently reading" when I took my break from BookLikes.


You can find my full review of it here at The Itinerant Librarian.

Coming back a bit at a time (seems world did not end...yet)

Back in 2016 I turned out the lights here and walked out when BookLikes basically went unstable and no one was really sure if they were coming or going. I went on to other places, mainly my main book reviews and personal blog, The Itinerant Librarian.


On the one hand, I did miss the place, plus the Tumblr debacle meant one less place online (for those who may have missed it, here is a link). On the other, seems this place has managed to keep some stability (though I am skeptical as this is the second attempt at this post since it failed to post the first one just now), so I am going to make a go at it again here. We'll see how it goes.


As always, if you want to find me, you can also visit me in these other places:


As I mentioned, my main book reviews and personal blog is The Itinerant Librarian.


My Twitter is @bloodravenlib (yes, this has changed from @gypsylib, long story).


My commonplace blog at Alchemical Thoughts. This is mainly odds and ends and some cartomancy content (another thing that has happened since 2016 is I've taken up study of cartomancy, mainly Tarot and oracle cards. Some of that will likely appear here too in BookLikes here and there).


My "Tumblr refugee" blog at Alchemical Annex. This is where I exported my Tumblr before I took it down. Also odds and ends, mainly short things.


My newest experiment. This is one of the Tumblr alternatives recently available. I am still figuring it out. One of the features I like is their ability to rate posts by levels from family-friendly to explicit, which allows a degree of isolation (better effort to keep kiddies and busybodies out or at least out of certain areas). I did rate my blog on the X side (though I rarely post anything explicit if ever) just to try things out. So when you see blog without blogging in, it will show any content lower than X, of which I have plenty and prompt you to log in to see the rest. It is an interesting idea and effort to keep a bit of better control and allow better free expression. Want to check it out? My blog is Alchemical Annex on nT over at NewTumbl.


So anyhow that is some of what I've been up to since last I was here. I hope to get back to reviewing books here, keeping track of what I read, crossposting a bit from Itinerant Librarian, and slowly getting back into the book community here. If you followed me before, and you are still here, hope you will come along. If I am new to you, check things out, feel free to comment even if to say hello.


I've also updated my list of the books I am currently reading. You can find that on the right sidebar. Finally, in a bit of housecleaning, I slightly changed the title of the blog here (because. . . reasons). For me, I am likely going to find a few broken links in other places where I linked here; I'll just fix as I find them. For you, I hope the effect is minimal.


Paz y amor.


In case BookLikes goes belly up (or making sure things are backed up)

It seems BookLikes was a nice experiment while it lasted. I'd say for at least a couple of months, this site has been having serious technical and usability issues, as in it can barely be used. I am not even sure this post will get posted (as I type, the browser is still spinning to finish loading the page). So, in case this post manages to make it through, for my few followers, here is where you can find me and my book reviews: I am always on Twitter: @gypsylib My book review blog is The Itinerant Librarian ( My commonplace blog is Alchemical Thoughts ( I am also on Tumblr at Finally, my GoodReads profile, which I may have to go back to if I do not find a better option: Good luck folks.

Booknote: Easy Tarot Handbook, with review on the Gilded Tarot deck

Easy Tarot: Learn to Read the Cards Once and For All! - Josephine Ellershaw

On the one hand, the book has some good advice for learners, especially about keeping a Tarot journal and overall for learning how to read the Tarot. Ellershaw offers a step by step system for learning how to read the Tarot cards. On the other hand, I did find some of the card meanings in this book a bit on the lighter side when compared to other books, such as Lyle's, but the meanings still fall within tradition for the most part, thus the book is still useful in that regard.


Read the full review, where I also provide a review of the Tarot deck that came with this book kit, Ciro Marchetti's Gilded Tarot, at The Itinerant Librarian. Simply click the link above.


By the way, if there are any Tarot users, readers, and/or collectors here in BookLikes, feel free to comment and say hello.

Booknote: Lando

Star Wars: Lando - Charles Soule, Alex Maleev

(Crossposted from The Itinerant Librarian)


From the book's description:

"Before he joined the Rebellion, before he ran Cloud City, Lando made his way in the galaxy getting by on some swindles, some swagger, and a smile. With the loyal Lobot at his side, Lando has a plan to steal a very valuable ship." 



This book is part of Marvel's new Star Wars comics under Disney ownership. In this comic, Lando finds himself in trouble when he has to settle a debt to a crimelord. To settle it, the crimelord gives Lando one big job: to steal a very valuable ship. Even better for Lando is that he can keep anything of value inside the ship. At the moment, the ship is in dock for repairs, which means minimal security and a great time to steal it. It looks like an easy payday, but Lando soon finds out things are not as they seem. When the owner finds out the ship is stolen, he sends a deadly assassin after Lando, and that may be the least of his worries.

This is a good, fast paced story of Lando Calrissian's early days. It's a good thieves' tale with plenty of action and charm. We see Lando as a smart and lovable scoundrel with a great gift for charm. The tale draws you in right away, and once you start, you keep reading right to the end. And it also has a fast, tense, and moving ending. Additionally, the tale provides more insight into the friendship and bond between Lando and Lobot; for fans of the original films, this may be of interest too. Plus, the art in this volume is very good.

Overall, this is a story I really liked. It did feel a bit short, but it packed in a lot in terms of action. If another volume comes out, I will seek it out. Star Wars fans, especially for The Empire Strikes Back, will likely enjoy this one. It is a good addition for libraries.


Booknote: The Blood Angels Omnibus

The Blood Angels Omnibus, Volume 1 - James Swallow

The novels and short story tell the story of Space Marine Rafen and his blood brother Space Marine Arkio. When Arkio comes into contact with the Spear of Telestro, an ancient Blood Angels' relic recently recovered, Arkio experiences new powers and visions. He then claims to be the reincarnation of Sanguinius, the Blood Angels' Primarch. Many of the Blood Angels rally to Arkio but not all. Rafen is one of those with doubts, and the novels lead to their inevitable confrontation as the Blood Angels are plunged into an internal conflict.


Check out the full review of this at The Itinerant Librarian by clicking on the link above.

Booknote: Tarot Cards

Tarot Cards - Isabella Alston, Kathryn Dixon

This is another small book, an art book of 95 pages showing a variety of Tarot card decks. It's a very nice book to look at. For Tarot card deck collectors, this book may incite their collecting lust a bit. The book starts with an introduction that sets up the book and gives a brief history of Tarot cards. This book looks at Tarot cards as an art form.


Check out the rest of my review at The Itinerant Librarian by clicking the link above. On a side note, the photo that BookLikes is using here is different than the cover of the edition I have, which is shown on my blog post.

Booknote: Battle Pope, Volume 3

Battle Pope, Volume 3: Pillow Talk - Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Cory Walker

(Crossposted from The Itinerant Librarian)


After the events in the previous volume, Pope and Jesus are homeless. However, they soon find a new place to live along with the tenants of the previous building they lived in, who ended up homeless as well. Jesus and Pope are getting along slightly better as roommates. Meanwhile, Agnes, Pope's old landlady, keeps hitting on him, and if that was not enough, Pope has a crush on a female demon named Brenda. Could Brenda be true love for Pope at last? The volume also features a Christmas holiday edition, and the Virgin Mary drops by to visit her son for his birthday.

Pope continues to blast evil demons when he can, and he does get with the ladies as much as possible. Though the volume is not as humorous as previous ones, it is still amusing, and it does have some funny moments. The art is definitely a great reason to pick this up, and Image's restoration in full color makes this comic pop. The comic also features a short introduction by Chris Piers, and it also has a sketchbook so you can see early drafts and how the comic was developed. Overall, it was a fun read. As I've said for previous volumes, this is not a comic for young kids given violence and some very adult situations.

Booknote: Black Mass, plus some thoughts on the film

Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal - Gerard O'Neill, Dick Lehr

This is a story that on the one hand can be hard to believe. On the other hand, it is a story that is easy to believe given the reputation of law enforcement of often breaking rules they are supposed to enforce and making deals with criminals of dubious value. Sure, taking down the Boston Mafia was a noble goal, but the FBI basically sold its soul to Bulger and enabled his own rise to control organized crime in Boston. Add to this a serious lack of accountability, the FBI's own internal corruption, and a parade of barely competent FBI supervisors, and you get a recipe for a disaster the FBI will be trying to amend for years to come.


Click the link to read my full review at The Itinerant Librarian. This review includes my thoughts on the film, which I watched shortly after having read the book.

Reblogged from Angels With Attitude Book Reviews:

Booknote: The Right Side of History

The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism - Adrian Brooks, Jonathan Katz

Cleis Press is running a virtual book tour for this book during National Pride Month in June, and I was happy when I got the invite to join in for this book. I wanted to read this for a couple of reasons. One, I enjoy reading history books, especially on topics I may need to learn more about. This book certainly fit that bill. Two, June is National LGBT Pride Month, so what better time of the year to read a book on the history of LGBTQI activism? The timing worked out for me. Overall, this was a good book I enjoyed.


Click the link to read the rest of my full review of this book over at my blog, The Itinerant Librarian.

This is totally cool. The Encyclopedia Brown fascinated me because I loved those books as a kid, and I can just see that fate.


Reblogged from Quirk Books:

Ah, Hannibal Lecter. No other fictional murderer has captured the collective unconsciousness quite like Thomas Harris’s culinarily-inclined mastermind. What is it about sleek, erudite monster that makes him so indelible? Four novels, five films and a television show might have destroyed another character, or at the least made him over-exposed. Only classic nightmare fodder such as Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster seem to exist in that same rarified air as Hannibal, where repeated use does nothing to fade their own personal brand of darkness.


Part of Hannibal’s continued appeal must lie with the way Harris has chosen Hannibal’s antagonists. The women and men who go up against Hannibal Lechter are all formidable minds in their own right, and so Hannibal’s victories (and defeats) against them are always well-earned.


So how might Hannibal fare against some of the greatest detectives in literary history?


Sherlock Holmes

It’s not so much the clues that make Sherlock Holmes curious about the dapper alienist Dr. Lecter, but their absence. The tell-tale cloud of detritus that surrounds us all as consequence of living was absent from Lecter, as if the man scrubbed himself clean every hour. “Or perhaps,” Watson joked, “he isn’t even there at all.” Despite no evidence of wrong-doing, Holmes can’t let the matter go, and becomes obsessed with the man, teasing out the smallest of pieces to Lecter’s true identity. Lecter gleans what Holmes is up to, and in a bout of hubris, invites the detective to his massive estate for dinner. Holmes needs only a sniff to know that succulently-roasted pork loin isn’t pork at all, and everything falls into place.


Key Line: "I speak only of your inevitable destruction,” said Lecter. “You’re clever, Mr. Holmes. But you stand in the way of an individual, whose skill you, with all your cleverness, have been unable to realize. You must stand clear, or be trodden underfoot."


Who Survives: Holmes, but just barely. Hannibal almost succeeds in killing Sherlock before he takes a bullet from Watson’s service revolver.


Hercule Poirot runs into Dr. Lecter when investigating a particularly gruesome series of murders that have taken place in an English resort village. They admire each other’s suits and accessories, and Lecter assists handily in investigation, speaking to Poirot entirely in French. Hastings takes an immediate dislike to Lecter—“I can’t explain it, and I’m not going to. I simply don’t like the chap.”—which Poirot chalks up to general English distrust of foreigners.

It is not until after Poirot and Lecter are celebrating the case being solved and the murderer confessed that Poirot gives Lecter a deeper look. Poirot realizes that the murderer was a protégé of Lecter and he is currently dining on human flesh at approximately the same moment. Poirot, ever the gentleman, confesses that he’s lost his appetite, and hurriedly informs the authorities.


Key Lines: “You know, every wine, even a small wine, has its own personality with its own secret past and its own promises of pleasure in the future. And so those of us who have been witnesses of death as we have - for them, this is a manifestation of life.”

“Not just wine, Poirot...”


Who Survives: Hannibal considers killing Poirot, but cannot bring himself to destroy such an impressive mind. He flees instead, and Inspector Japp brings the assembled police to an empty house.



Spenser isn’t even LOOKING into anything near the murders Hannibal commits. He’s following a kidnapped girl, because people pay him to solve kidnappings, not murders. But when he finds the kidnapped girl unharmed and her obstenible kidnapper hung by his own intestines from the rafters, Spenser is surprised to find he’s still capable of surprise. He gets paid for returning the girl, but the murder weighs on him more than it should. Susan, ever the psychologist, sees this and arranges a meeting with an old colleague. Dr. Lecter does this sort of work with FBI, and wouldn’t it be nice to have him over for dinner?


Key Lines: “Susan said you’re a whiz in the kitchen. You have any suggestions, make them. I'm in charge but humble.”

Lecter said, "Mind if I snicker every once in a while behind your back?"

"Hell, no," I said. "Everyone else does.”


Who Survives: Clever as he is, Spenser is far too much of the type that Hannibal dines on regularly, so there’s no way he walks away from the encounter. Where Hannibal trips up is that he tries to go after Hawk. And you can’t kill Hawk.

Nick & Nora Charles

Nick and Nora travel to the East Coast to barely put up with another member of Nora’s illustrious family, the highlight of which is an extravagant dinner party put on by the toast of Baltimore society, Hannibal Lecter. While Lecter’s initial stinginess with the booze tries Nick and Nora’s patience, eventually the liquor is loosed and good time is had by all. It’s not until an old friend of Nick’s from his detective days asks for help with a particularly grisly series of murders that a pallor starts to fall over the visit. Nick realizes the similarity to the missing organs in the murder victims and the menu items he and Nora devoured at the party. Looks like it’s one more trip back to the Lecter estate—better have a stiff drink before they go. Well, maybe one more....


Key lines: “How about a drop of something before we get started?”

“I am afraid the amuse-bouche must be enjoyed sober to be properly appreciated.”

“With all due respect to your first course, Dr. Lecter,” I said. “We didn't come to Baltimore to stay sober.”


Who Survives:  Lecter gives a good fight, seriously wounding Nick. But he doesn’t account for Asta, and the small Schauzer distracts Hannibal long enough for Nora to take him out for good.  Nick and Nora resolve never to visit Baltimore again.


Kinsey Millhone

When one of the California Fidelity insurance employees turns up dead with his lungs missing, Kinsey Millhone is on the case. Nevermind that the local police and the FBI (who thinks the MO is strikingly close to the Chesapeake Ripper on the East Coast) are already investigating—Kinsey’s not going to turn down a chance at rent-free office space just because there’s other detectives. But having more eyes doesn’t mean they can see anything: it’s Kinsey who turns up more murders that the police and the FBI have overlooked. And it’s Kinsey who figures out the connection between the California Fidelity employee’s cold call to visiting psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter and his unfortunate demise.


Key Lines: “I don't take death-and-dismemberment talk very seriously. Where could you rent a chainsaw at this time of night?”

“Chainsaws are at best, imprecise, Miss Millhone.”


Who Survives: Like so many Alphabet Series antagonists, Hannibal underestimates Kinsey as a threat, and never realizes the woman in the turtleneck sweater who trims her hair with toenail clippings is the one who delivered him right into the waiting hands of the FBI.


Encyclopedia Brown

Chief Brown can’t tell every difficult case at the dinner table. For those cases that are too disturbing to tell his wife and 10-year-old son, he bends the ear of another. Dr. Hannibal Lecter has given invaluable help over the phone, and it is not long before the conversations between the police chief and the psychiatrist take a personal turn. Hannibal is impressed that Brown’s son Leroy has started his own detective agency, and wastes no time coming to their home in Florida to meet the boy in person.  Impressed by Encyclopedia Brown’s observation skills, Hannibal takes the kid under his wing. Hannibal ends teaching Encyclopedia more about human nature than the boy every dreamed.


Key Lines: “No one, grown-up or child, gets away with breaking the law in Idaville.”

“What a charming idea,” said Hannibal. “But you’re far too smart a boy to truly believe that, aren’t you?”


Who Survives: No one. We’re all dead if Hannibal raises Encyclopedia Brown.


How would your favorite fictional detective stack up against Hannibal Lecter?


Booknote: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters - Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, Tom Waltz

(Crossposted from my blog The Itinerant Librarian).


This was a light and entertaining crossover comic. A new invention, a dimensional transporter, goes haywire, and the Turtles get transported to a very different New York City, the NYC of the Ghostbusters. As usual in this kind of crossover, the two teams need to learn how to work together. In this case, they unite to fight an ancient evil that followed the Turtles through the transporter.

Though it is labeled children's fiction, it is pretty much good entertainment for all ages. It is certainly one I can recommend to public libraries, especially if they already have other TMNT or Ghostbuster comics. These are not the Nickelodeon TMNT, but the comic will likely appeal to those fans as well.

The volume provides a nicely paced, entertaining story with some good humor and plenty of action. It is neat to see how the two teams come to work together. Also, it is a nice and very colorful with the art, which enhances the volume.

Currently reading

Bone Parish, Vol. 1
Cullen Bunn, Jonas Scharf, Alex Guimaraes
The Hellbound Heart
Clive Barker
Progress: 30/164 pages
Suspended in Dusk II
Simon Dewar
Progress: 17/280 pages
The Complete Fiction
H.P. Lovecraft, S.T. Joshi
Progress: 32/1098 pages
Hell's Cartel: IG Farben and the Making of Hitler's War Machine
Diarmuid Jeffreys
Progress: 50/486 pages