Review: Initiates, The: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs

Initiates, The: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs
Initiates, The: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Étienne Davodeau
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Recommended without hesitation. This a graphic novel with a “small is beautiful” subtext.

This is the story of a graphic novelist (Etienne Davodeau) and a vinter (Richard Leroy) who agree to learn about each other’s work. The graphic novelist prunes vines, plows fields and attends wine tastings, vinter interviews and cooperage demonstrations. The vinter goes to publisher meetings, writer interviews, conventions and reads many graphic novels. Some novels are to the vinter’s taste, but others are not. We learn a number of details about both crafts. These are two men who take great pride in their work and willing to expand their horizons. It was a joyous and uplifting read.

The illustrations are almost photorealistic and draw you into the world of the book. It’s black and white but that seems to fit the intensity of the craft going on. Many bottles of wine were drunk and many books were read over the course of this work. The end of the book features the first bibliography I’ve seen that also features a wine list.

This very enjoyable book would have never hit my radar if I hadn’t read it on the “Staff Picks” section of the Juneau Public Libraries web site. See and scroll down.

Caution: If you were bored by either My Dinner with Andre or Mindwalk, this book might not be for you. Otherwise, you’re in for a treat!

View all my reviews

National Library Week Day 6: ebooks #nlw14

As recently as two years ago, only about of a third of Americans were aware that libraries loaned ebooks. So I want to be sure to let you know that the Juneau Public Libraries (JPL)  and more than three quarters of libraries nationwide do lend ebooks. Actually, Juneau Public Libraries goes the extra mile and loans Nook readers as well.

JPL has a number of sources for ebooks. The three that I think are the most useful for the general patron are:


listen_alaska graphic ListenAlaska+ brings you digital downloads from the library, available anytime, from home or on the go!

    • eBooks (ePub, PDF, Kindle)
    • Audiobooks (MP3, WMA)
    • Music (WMA only)


Titles available in ListenAlaska can also be found in the library catalog.  If you see [electronic resource] next to a title, it is available in electronic format (ie ebook or audiobook).


Need ebook help? Check out the great resources at OverdriveHelp or contact a librarian.

Image link to Freading eBook collection

Freading Ebooks, a new look at ebook lending.

No more waiting for eBooks!

  • More than 20,000 ebooks (ePub, PDF)
  • Always available, no holds lists.
  • Cardholders receive 4 tokens per week to use for ebook downloads. Tokens refresh Monday morning and carryover for 4 weeks.
  • Mobile apps available for iOS and Android or you can use the same Overdrive Media Console Mobile app used with ListenAlaska.


Need help? Check out this list of Frequently  Asked Questions or contact a librarian.


  • Animated, talking ebooks for kids!
  • Select titles are iPad compatible.
  • Over 300 titles including 100 in French and Spanish.

I haven’t tried Tumblebooks, but I have used Listen Alaska Plus and Freading on mobile devices and desktop computers. Listen Alaska these days has gotten very easy to use. If you tried it a few years ago and didn’t like it, try it again.

As the name implies, Listen Alaska Plus includes audiobooks. These can come in very handy on the lengthy flights we Alaskans often find ourselves on. Sometimes I’ll check out an ebook or audiobook from the library just to see if I like it. If I do, often I’ll buy it. That’s how I became the proud owner of an electronic library of the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

August is Read a Romance Month

This month I will be reading:

Mallery, Susan. 2009. Hot on her heels. Don Mills, Ont: HQN.

I’m reading this because August is National Read a Romance Month. My sister in law in one of the organizers of this event and had a column about it in the August 1, 2013 web edition of USA Today. Part of the festivities include having 90 romance writers post on why romance matters to them. I think it’s a great way to highlight the genre and promote a discussion on reading and writing in general.

If you live in one of the cities served by Listen Alaska, you can find a number of romance ebooks and audiobooks available for download. Though many of them are checked out and you’d need to place a hold.  Read through the daily posts at National Read a Romance Month if you want some recommendations. You can also check out Library Journal’s Best Romance Books of 2012.  Happy reading!

Book (Series) Review: Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

At the suggestion of a friend, I recently read the following books:

Overall, this is a great set of engaging books. Since one of the things I greatly appreciated was that I was genuinely surprised by each book, I’m going to do my best to provide a spoiler-free review.
For people of faith who read this blog, don’t be put off by the titles. In some ways it’s better to think of the “demons” in this story as extradimensional aliens who long to break through into our world. The demons would fit in quite well in a Doctor Who story and not at all well in The Exorcist.
With that out-of-the-way, what is this series about? In my view, the three books are a story of unconditional love and its power to bring about change in the objects of that love. It’s also about the possibility of redemption for all. The series is realistic in showing that redemption is hard to come by without sacrifice and pain and that not all are redeemed. But it also insists that all have the possibility of making different choices. There are also interesting and sometimes humorous explorations of the lengths people will go to rationalize their actions.
All three books crackle with great dialog that avoids preachiness. Each of the three books is told from a different character’s point of view. I didn’t think this would work and neither did Ms. Brennan’s publishers. But it not only works, it was truly required. Otherwise it would have been impossible to believably pull off some of the surprises I mentioned earlier. The use of the different narrators also allows for a fuller exploration of the Demon Lexicon’s universe.
The one minor flaw in this series as that the main characters: Nick, Alan, Mae, Jamie and Cynthia (Sin/Thea) are supposed to be teenagers. They all attend high school, but to me they all talk like they are in the late 20s, except for Jamie who sounds like a real teenager and Alan, who is portrayed as about 19 but talks and acts like he’s 40. It’s a minor flaw to me because I love good snarky dialog much more than I love authenticity in voice.
The final thing I’ll mention in this hopefully spoiler free review is to watch out for the t-shirts. There are several characters who wear message t-shirts and they often correspond to the mood or situation. My favorite is one of Alan’s t-shirts that proclaims: “I get my fun between the covers” and features an open book.
If you do read the series, check out the author’s Live Journal account, which features a number of short stories set in this universe. Sarah Rees Brennan also has an author website.

Three books on Crown Point

This week our “Three Books on …” series takes us to Crown Point. Here is a description of Crown Point’s location and climate from the Alaska Community Database:

Crown Point is on the Kenai Peninsula on the Seward Highway and at mile 24.5 of the Alaska Railroad. It lies between Kenai Lake and Lower Trail Lake, 22 miles north of Seward in the Chugach Mountains. The community lies at approximately 60.422220° North Latitude and -149.366670° West Longitude. (Sec. 24, T004N, R001W, Seward Meridian.) Crown Point is located in the Seward Recording District. January temperatures range from 4 to 22 °F. July temperatures vary from 46 to 65 °F. Average annual precipitation is 20 inches.

You can learn more about Crown Point by reading their full profile from the Alaska Community Database.

Looking through WorldCat, I initially only found a map with a subject search for [crown point alaska], expanding to a keyword search requiring the phrase “crown point” and Alaska, I found these titles which at least mention Crown Point in the book:

Persons, Jean. 2007. From dog sleds to float planes: Alaskan adventures in medicine. Eagle River, Alaska: Northbooks.
Larson, Richard. 1991. Mountain bike Alaska: 49 trails in the 49th state. Anchorage, AK: Glacier House Publications.
Dames & Moore, and Alaska. 1987. Crown Point tank car incident environmental monitoring. Anchorage, Alaska: Dames & Moore.
Our march through WorldCat has taken us through dozens of communities. With July 4th coming up next weekend, I think this is a good time to give this series a pause. A pause, not a cancellation. Due to the number of Alaskan communities, the “Three Books on …” promises to be a multiyear project. Starting next week, I’ve got another Alaskan themed series to get out of the way and I don’t want to wait till 2014 to start sharing it.
We’ll continue our Alaska-themed journey though WorldCat after a few months with the community of Deering.

Three books on Crooked Creek

This week our “Three Books on …” series takes us to Crooked Creek. Here is a description of Crooked Creek’s location and climate from the Alaska Community Database:

Crooked Creek is located on the north bank of the Kuskokwim River at its junction with Crooked Creek. It lies in the Kilbuk-Kuskokwim Mountains 50 miles northeast of Aniak, 141 miles northeast of Bethel, and 275 miles west of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 61.870000° North Latitude and -158.110830° West Longitude. (Sec. 32, T021N, R048W, Seward Meridian.) Crooked Creek is located in the Fairbanks Recording District. A continental climate prevails in the area. Snowfall averages 85 inches per year, with total precipitation averaging 17 inches per year. Temperatures range from -59 to 94 °F. High winds often cause flight delays in the fall and winter. The Kuskokwim is ice-free from mid-June through October.

You can learn more about Crooked Creek by reading their full profile from the Alaska Community Database.

Looking through WorldCat, we find these three books about Crooked Creek, among others.

HDR Alaska, Inc, and Crooked Creek (Alaska). 2002. Village of Crooked Creek sanitation facilities master plan. Anchorage, AK: HDR Alaska, Inc.
Brelsford, Taylor, Raymond Peterson, and Terry L. Haynes. 1987. An overview of resource use patterns in three central Kuskowim communities Aniak, Crooked Creek and Red Devil. Fairbanks, Alaska: Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence.

Join us next week as our trek through WorldCat takes us to Crown Point.