In Praise of eBooks

One of the things about doing a bit of a retrospective of where you’ve been in the last year is that you occasionally realize things that sort of slid by you when you were actually experiencing them.

While compiling my list of top 10 recommendations of books I read in 2016 , I did a count of how many book titles I actually read last year.  Turns out since I keep a reading history – you can do this too in your online library account:

cardinal-screenthat I read 100 books, averaging about one every 3 or 4 days.

This surprised me, as 2016 may have been one of my biggest years ever for reading that many titles.  I may have surpassed that during the summers when I was 10-12, but I’ve generally found less time for reading as a working adult, a husband, and a father of a young child. So how in the world did I read that many books?  I believe it was the fact that 80 of the 100 books I read were in the form of an eBook.

Now please know from the start that I am in no way denigrating the “true book” experience – I too am a bibliophile, as one might expect from a librarian. I love the physical properties of a book: the tactile sensation of turning the pages, the smell of an older volume.  I probably have more volumes of books in my home than the average — it reminds me of the joke I used to tell: “What do you get when a professor marries a librarian? 15 bookcases full of books.”

Nevertheless, in the world I live in now I never could have reached 100 titles read in one year were it not for eBooks.  Here’s how it happened…

I do have a Kindle, but I must confess that a dedicated eReader has not been the primary platform for me and eBooks.  No, the device I read eBooks on is my smartphone.

To make this work, it took several different factors – one was the Overdrive app.

“OverDrive Media Console is a proprietary, freeware application developed by OverDrive, Inc. for use with its digital distribution services for libraries, schools, and retailers. The application enables users to access audiobooks, eBooks, periodicals, and videos borrowed from libraries and schools—or purchased from booksellers—on [various]devices…” — Wikipedia

This handy application (available in the Apple and Android universes, as well as others) is fairly easy to download, and, as stated above, free!

The second factor is the fact that by far the majority of US public libraries have chosen the Overdrive app to allow access to their eBook collections. You DID know that almost all public libraries have eBook collections, right?  Sometimes I wonder when I read about people touting various “for profit” paywall sources for eBooks – I’ve paid for less than six eBooks total.  I read library-sourced eBooks almost exclusively. Why not?  Who wouldn’t want free?

So big factor one and big factor two = FREE!

One of the nice things about the Overdrive app is the ability to download the book you want, instead of streaming.  Once it’s downloaded (and you have the choice of a download version compatible with Kindles or a more general standard called ePub) you don’t need an internet connection to read the book (which also saves on battery power for your device, not to mention data used from your phone’s service plan).  You can also choose the font size, the screen brightness, etc.  This makes it easy to read on the beach, in the car (while someone else is driving, of course), or even at night with a black screen / white letters that’s easy on your night vision.  Then it is quite convenient to pick up your device and read while you wait at the doctor’s office (instead of reading the year-old Sports Illustrated or the even older Better Homes and Gardens), while you are in a long line at the Post Office during the holiday mailing season, while you are waiting at your child’s basketball practice, or even in front of the fireplace on a rainy night instead of picking up a physical book.  When you put all of that spare/possibly wasted time together, you too can read 100 books a year.

SO…if you have a portable device like a tablet, phablet, or smartphone, start by making sure your library card is updated and ready to go.  You can do that by accessing your library account online:   the “My Account” button in the upper right hand corner of this webpage – http://fontana.nccardinal.org/eg/opac/home

(Or of course coming into a Fontana Regional Library branch in person, or calling your local branch…)

Once you know your account is “good to go,” travel to either the iTunes App store for Apple products: [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/overdrive-library-ebooks-and-audiobooks/id366869252?mt=8];

Or for Android devices, go to the Google Play store: [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.overdrive.mobile.android.mediaconsole&hl=en].

Download the app and open it – it will guide you through the initial set-up.  Basically, it will ask you to identify your library and enter your library information and library barcode.  Once you do that, be sure and mark that you want your device to remember the information, unless you enjoy keying in the 14-digit barcode repeatedly.

At that point, your device is ready to browse and search for eBooks you might enjoy.  When you find a title (and the library has best sellers and a wide selection) you are interested in, just ask to Borrow that title – you can then have the eBook for 7 to 21 days (depending on the title – you can even choose the borrowing period for some titles!) and you start reading just by “flipping” screens on your device, just like turning pages on a physical book.  You can bookmark your place in the eBook (make sure you learn how to do this at the start) and then pop in to your reading choice during all the “spare corners” of your life.  Before you know it, you are reading like a house afire!

We can help you get started on reading eBooks here @ your FRL library – we have several people able to offer free device help as you need it.  Just ask!  Happy e-reading!

Rollicking Reads from 2016

It is the time of year for retrospectives.  And rather than recap celebrity deaths (Prince, Bowie, Mariah Carey’s career), I thought I’d pick a handful of materials I’ve checked out from the library that gave me hours of enjoyment this past year of 2016. They were not all published in 2016, but 2016 was the year I read them for the first time.

Overall, I’ve read 80 eBooks this past year, and about 20 additional books in print.  From those 100  I’ll select 10 things to recommend, all available from Fontana Regional Library or the NC Cardinal state system that FRL belongs to.

One explanation about my selections: I like science fiction and fantasy genres, but also like thriller and adventure novels, good comedies, and even some mysteries; when reading non-fiction I like histories, biographies, and memoirs.  So you will see “all of the above” in the ten titles/series I’ve chosen.  I’ll start with a memoir…about a movie, made about a book, that was written about a fictional book.

1.As you wish: inconceivable tales from the making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (2014)

A memoir by the actor who played Westley in the now-classic movie The Princess Bride.  Hilarious and heart-warming, behind the scenes stories of how the movie came together, from the screenwriter (who also wrote the original book) to Billy Crystal to Andre the giant.

2.The Brilliance series by Marcus Sakey

3 titles: Brilliance (2013),  A Better World (2014), Written in Fire (2016)

An edge of tomorrow science-fiction thriller-adventure, about the social problems that occur when a percentage of the world’s children start manifesting savant-style gifts (like lightning calculation, but also mind-reading, pattern recognition, fantastic reflexes, etc.). It’s the story (somewhat similar to the story line of Blade Runner), about a special agent who hunts down the “Brilliants” who have broken the law.  And he and his youngest daughter are also Brilliants…

3.The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman

3 titles: The Invisible Library (2016), The Masked City (2016), The Burning Page (2017)

This fantasy series contains the tales of an alternate reality wherein many alternate realities can be traveled to, and the Invisible Library where the librarians attempt to collect all the versions of various books by travelling to the multi-verses involved.  Each alternate has a varying degree of Law vs. Chaos – Law based realities are like ours, with science and technology, whereas Chaos realities have fairies, dragons, magic, etc.  The realities are on a spectrum, so many of them have a mix. One of the first places the first book goes is a steampunk world with a Sherlock Holmes surrogate vs. vampires.

4.Chronicles of St. Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor

8 novels, plus novellas: https://www.goodreads.com/series/109102-the-chronicles-of-st-mary-s

In this fast-paced science-fiction series, St. Mary’s is an historical institute where historians study history via time travel.  A secret to all but their sponsoring Thirsk University, these tales tell of a the madcap adventures of the historian Madeline Maxwell, as she bounces with her colleagues from the fall of Troy to the Gates of Thermopylae to encounters with Isaac Newton and dodo birds.

5.Night School by Lee Child (2016)

Like all the Jack Reacher books written by Child, this one can be read as a standalone work, and not in any particular order.  Some of the Reacher books are “contemporary” and others are set back in Reacher’s past, while he was still in the Army.  This is a “past” title detailing how Reacher and a select team of both FBI and CIA agents undertake a secret mission to stop terrorists before they strike.  The appeal of the Reacher novels lies in the Jack Reacher character himself, as his unique brain and his indomitable physical gifts combine to thwart evil wherever he encounters it. In total, there are 21 books as of Night School.

6.Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo

2 titles: Six of Crows (2015), Crooked Kingdom (2016)

This fantasy duology is set in a steampunk world with some magic, and is sort of a fantasy version of Ocean’s Eleven. A group of six misfit but highly competent mercenary/criminals set out to infiltrate an un-breachable fortress and liberate the prisoner held there. There are lots of plot twists, with the leader Kaz usually (but not always) one step ahead of his opponents.

7.Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley

8 published novels and one novella : https://www.goodreads.com/series/46160-flavia-de-luce

A mystery series set shortly after WW2, whose heroine Flavia is only 11 (in the first book), but possessed of a mind like Sherlock Holmes, a rather morbid interest in chemistry (specializing in poisons), and the youngest of a very interesting English noble family.  Most of the books are set in the environs of the decaying mansion and grounds of the de Luce estate, but one of the books sees Flavia off to Canada.  The series has ongoing themes, and is not really designed for standalone reading, but it can be done that way without undue difficulty.

8.The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson

3 novels and one novella: https://www.goodreads.com/series/93010-reckoners

An Earth where there are no super-heroes, only super-villains (the Epics), opposed by an extraordinary band of non-superpowered human rebels known as the Reckoners. Their goal – somehow defeating the Epics and restoring their world. Their only hope is to exploit the secret weakness of each super-villain.

9.Ex-heroes series by Peter Clines

5 titles: https://www.goodreads.com/series/67447-ex-heroes

{from the author’s website} In the days after civilization fell to the zombie hordes, a small team of heroes—including St. George, Zzzap, Cerberus, and Stealth—does everything they can to protect human survivors. Each day is a desperate battle against overwhelming odds as the heroes fight to keep the undead at bay, provide enough food and supplies for the living, and lay down their lives for those they’ve sworn to protect. But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the shadows of the ruin that lies everywhere…and they may be the most terrifying threat of all.

10.The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013)

[from the publishers webpage] “The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.”

*****

As you can see, I discovered some wonderful series last year, as well as individual books, that kept me up too late, made me laugh out loud, and grabbed my imagination.  I hope you find something here that you will likewise enjoy!

[disclaimer: with series I am just linking to the first title in the series for you to get started, but I either list the existing books in the series or provide a link so they can be read in order]

Listen & Learn

Many years ago on a road trip with my two kids I discovered something pretty amazing.  I discovered the power of listening to a story.  I know how hard it is for parents to keep the kiddos occupied on car trips – been there – still doing that.  You know, those long hours in confined spaces with nothing much to do except ask, “Are we there yet?” or “How much farther?”

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“Are we there yet?  How much farther?”

So, on this particular trip I decided to try getting a couple of Donald Davis storytelling CD’s from the local public library.  I love Donald Davis so I figured at least I could be content on the trip.  What I learned is that both kids and I were mesmerized by the telling of the stories.  After that, anytime I knew we would be held captive in the car I sought out not just Donald Davis but other things like books on CD to keep our minds occupied to the point we did not much care if we were there yet or how much further we had to go.

There have been other times through the years that listening to stories has come to the rescue.  I remember the push of making that reading goal with both my children, especially in middle school.  I discovered that many titles that they were “allowed” to read were available on CD at the public library.  That saved us many a drama when it came time to tally up points or the dreaded word count.

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Listening to a great story!

It did take a little research and planning ahead but I can say there have been many titles over the years that we have enjoyed listening to and it was a great way to spark some pretty in depth discussions with the kids.

As you can see I support listening to audio books and stories.  I did a search on NC Live and came up with some other people who feel the same as me.  For example, according to Technology & Learning, February 2016,  it can support students who do not like to read perhaps because they feel overwhelmed by reading for whatever reason as well as “support critical thinking skills” or “re-ignite a passion for reading”.  Then there is the idea that “children who are listeners become readers” and that “children can handle a harder book without struggling” which will support their vocabulary and comprehension development, (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2002).

earbuds-983069_1920
A great story is just a listen away!

The public library has many great offerings to support listening to books and stories.  Of course, there are the tried and true books on CD.  Some favorite titles for me include The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Ginger Pye.  Fontana Regional Library branches have recently purchased some pretty cool audio books.  They are called VOX Books.  These books are neat because the audio is built into the book.  It even has a port to plug in earphones.  It makes it a very portable option for kids.  Some of the titles we have include Don’t Push the Button! and My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I am Not).

e-inc_lib_logo

There is another option I learned about recently that has really streamlined the way I get access to my audiobooks.  This has proved to be a wonderful option as I am on the road commuting a lot throughout the region.  If you have not checked out the eAudio options Fontana Regional Library offers, you should!

First, I downloaded the OverDrive app, which is free.  For my eAudio options I chose to download the app to my phone but it can also be downloaded to other devices.  Then I entered the information to make my account.  They basically just want your library card number and an email address.  Then I started browsing.  Once I found a title I downloaded it to my phone (while I had access to Wi-Fi, of course) and when I am in the car I open the OverDrive app and click on the title I want to listen to and voila instant access to my stories without fumbling with changing CD’s while driving and there is nothing to physically return.  The OverDrive app also gives you access to eBooks and as I mentioned before you can download the app on more than one device.  Literally all I ever need is at my fingertips!

ebookseaudiofromwebsite

In this season of travel please consider using audio books and stories as a way to make those miles go by faster whether you are traveling far away or are traveling on your daily commute.  The benefits are worth it!

9 Innings: Baseball Books, Movies, and More

Spring is upon us and that means baseball!  My earliest baseball memory is watching Mark Fidrych beat the Yankees on a tiny black and white tv, and I have been a fan ever since.  Now back in those youthful days we would buy packs of baseball cards for a quarter, scrounge for any sort of something that could be used as a ball, and make our own homemade jerseys.  To keep up with baseball you had to pore over the box scores in the morning paper and watch This Week in Baseball on the weekends.  You might get to watch two games on television, the Saturday Game of the Week and Monday Night Baseball (Al Michaels and Howard Cosell!)

Nowadays I can get any baseball statistics I could ever want (and many I didn’t even know existed) with a few clicks of the mouse.  I can watch multiple games every week.  Indeed, for a fee to the cable gods I can watch any game I want.  I can read countless blogs and opinion pieces, and I can get up-to-the-minute score and news updates on my Twitter feed.  I can play in a wide variety of fantasy baseball leagues and I can shop on eBay for every type of baseball memorabilia imaginable.

So which way is better?  The answer is neither.  Nostalgia is potent, of course, but I work in a library and I know the power of knowledge.  In that vein I offer to you a variety of baseball books, movies, and even ebooks for you to consider.  There is nothing quite like hearing the crack of the ball on the bat, and while you can’t play baseball in the library you can at least get something to help you get through those long, long commercial breaks.

first inning

 

The Natural by Bernard Malamud

This one could well have fit into my previous blog about movies based on books, as many people will remember the Robert Redford movie more than the original book.  A classic piece of baseball literature, the novel tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a supremely talented baseball phenom who is shot down, literally, by a femme fatale.  Fifteen years later, his legend largely forgotten, he makes a comeback.  Like the heroes of mythology he must overcome a series of obstacles in order to find that moment in the sun.

The movie, by the way, is a pretty decent adaptation, which is another topic I dealt with previously.  The story itself, or at least the shooting part of it, is based on an actual incident.

seventh

 

 

The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn

Perhaps the kings of baseball nostalgia are the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Beloved by their borough, they broke many hearts when the team relocated to Los Angeles.  In their New York heyday they often came up short in comparisons to the mighty Yankees, until that magical 1955 season when they finally won it all.  Kahn’s book uses that year as its central focus, but goes behind just being a recap of the year.  Besides setting the stage, he also tells us what happened to those fabled Boys of Summer as the years progressed.  I always appreciate nonfiction that reads as smoothly as fiction does, and this is one of those books.

second

 

Baseball, PBS Documentary by Ken Burns

Now if one really wants to know the history of baseball than this series, done by Ken Burns, is your answer.  Originally aired on PBS in 1994, the Emmy winning series covers baseball decade by decade, and is full of wonderful interviews of not just players by of fans as well.  Newer or casual fans will be enchanted by the mystique of America’s Pastime, while even grizzled veteran fans will learn new things.  There is also a companion book.

sixth

 

Free Baseball, by Sue Corbett

Since baseball is after all a game, albeit a game that had $9,000,000,000 in revenues in 2014, I thought I would include a kids book.  Felix, an eleven year old originally from Cuba, knows his father was a famous ball player there.  But eager to leave their past behind them his mother won’t tell him the details.  When the opportunity presents itself Felix hides on the bus of a minor league baseball team and pretends to be a batboy.  Why?  Because the team has a Cuban player, and Felix hopes that from him he can learn something of his father.  Well written and authentic, this book is aimed for grades 4-7, but will appeal to a wider range of readers as well.

eigth
I’ve been there! And the Cubs did win that day.

 

Bull Durham, directed by Ron Shelton

There are plenty of good baseball movies, but my favorite remains Bull Durham.  It has a great cast, and I like how it shows the flow of baseball.  One player is on the way up, another is on the way down, and the fans are always there.  I guess it is best described as a dramedy, but the baseball parts are very authentic.  Also, not a children’s movie.

Evil Empire and all that.
Evil Empire and all that.

The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci

There are many great baseball biographies and memoirs out there.  I chose this one because, well, the Yankees.  Joe Torre managed them for 12 years, and each year they went to the playoffs and they won four World Series in that time.  He managed other teams before and after that, and was also a heck of a player back in the day, but this book focuses on the era of his greatest successes, and gives you an inside look at one of the most storied franchises in all of sports.  Oh, and Verducci is no slouch either, being one of todays premier baseball writers.

Yes, that is me.
Yes, that is me.

The Complete Book of Collectible Baseball Cards, by Robert Lemke and others

Ah, baseball cards.  They no longer come with bubble gum, which is good since that low grade stuff did more harm than good.  But baseball cards are still very collectible, even if the investment opportunities aren’t what they once were.  Now, this book was published in 1985, so it is not much use as a current guide.  It does have a big nostalgia factor, however.  If you did ever collect cards back in the day it is fun to flip through and be reminded of some of those old cards.  It is also fun to see their predictions about which of those 80s cards and players were going to be big.

Incidentally, I sold my collection to a friend in 1990.  He turned around and traded all 12,000 of those cards to a dealer in exchange for two cards.  They were two good cards.

third

ebooks, by lots of people

All of our libraries have plenty of baseball books, plus some baseball movies, but also keep in mind that we have baseball ebooks too, through the library’s e-iNC site.  Just like with books you can search by author or title, or just do a search for baseball and see what strikes your reading fancy.  If you need any help with our ebooks you can visit our help page or call any of our libraries.

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Youth Baseball Drills, by Peter Caliendo

The libraries also have a wide variety of instructional materials, like this nice new one.  Books on coaching, books on playing, books on softball, and books on rules and learning the game.  They come in a variety of styles and age ranges, so we are sure to have something that fits your needs.

buy-me-some-peanuts-and-cracker-jacks-ken-smith

Okay then!  This is just a sampling of the plethora of baseball materials you can get at the library.  If you need help finding anything, or would like reading recommendations you can ask any of our helpful staff, or drop me a line in the comments below.  Play ball!

All of the baseball titles mentioned in this blog can be found in our library catalog here:

https://fontana.nccardinal.org/eg/opac/results?bookbag=313320;page=0;locg=155;depth=0

They Ate My Brain: 15 Top Zombie Reads

By Chris

Zombies!  They just won’t go away, both in the stories featuring them and in popular culture.  Now we could engage in a long discussion as to why zombies strike a chord with us, how they reach a primal part of our psyche, how an unrelenting, implacable, remorseless enemy that cannot be reasoned with is so terrifying, and so on.  But instead I am just going to give you a top 15 countdown of good zombie reads.

Whether you like your zombies slow or fast, created by government scientists or plants or space viruses, mindless or intelligent or what have you, there should be something you find…palatable…in this list.

#15  Death Troopers, by Joe Schreiber

I really like this cover.
I really like this cover.

What better way to kick off our zombie list than with Star Wars.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.  Set about a year prior to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, it tells the tale of poor souls trapped on an Imperial prison barge that is overrun with zombies.  The chief medical officer leads the survivors on a desperate mission for escape with the help of a certain scoundrel and his furry companion, a pair well known to all Star Wars fans.

The prequel to Death Troopers, Red Harvest, is set 3500+(!) years earlier.  It feels a little more zombieish to me, but the Star Wars setting in that one will be less familiar to most readers.

Death Troopers  /  Red Harvest

#14  The Living Dead, edited by John Joseph Adams

Not exactly living.
Not exactly living.

This is an anthology of zombie stories featuring some top echelon authors, including Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman.  As with many anthologies the stories vary in quality and style, but most are well worth the read.  The opener, “This Year’s Class Picture”, by Dan Simmons, is perhaps the best.

The second volume I haven’t gotten to read yet, but seeing how it features stories from several authors that appear on this very list I will surely get to it soon.

The Living Dead  /  The Living Dead 2

#13  Cell, by Stephen King

Are you going to answer that?
Are you going to answer that?

An interesting thing about zombies is that they are more varied in books and movies than we realize.  In this particular case people are driven into a zombie-like madness from using their (no real spoiler here considering the title) cell phones.  Those who avoid being afflicted have to fight for survival versus more than one type of threat in a world rapidly disintegrating.

This may not be King’s best work, but is still a good read.  And it is notably shorter than many of his other books, so it is a pretty quick read as well.

Cell  /  Large Print  /  CD Audiobook

 

#12  Devil’s Wake, by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

Devil's Wake Cover
Give the Devil his due.

Barnes and Due, both accomplished writers on their own (and also married to each other) collaborate on this solid zombie tale.  A group of teens must use all their wits to cross zombie filled territory to reach the promise of a safe haven.

While the zombies at first seem to be pretty standard, virus-infected biting killers, they turn out to be something more. To find out exactly what the zombies are you’ll need to read all the books in the series.

Devil’s Wake  /  Domino Falls

 

#11  Allison Hewitt is Trapped, by Madeleine Roux

All bookstores should have axes handy.
All bookstores should have axes handy.

When the zombie outbreak occurs Allison Hewitt finds herself trapped in a bookstore.  Not the worst place to start the end of days, I suppose.  Allison and her fellow survivors make a good go of living in the shop, but must soon venture out into the world, facing not only zombies but the evil that lurks in humans as well.

If you like Allison’s story you can followup with Sadie Walker is Stranded, Roux’s second zombie book.

Allison Hewitt is Trapped  /  Sadie Walker is Stranded

 

#10  Rise Again, by Ben Tripp

Jaywalkers.
Jaywalkers.

A small town sheriff, still recovering from her tour in Iraq, finds herself right in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.  She has to fight to protect her people (from both zombie and human predators), she has to protect herself, and she has to find her kid sister, who is out there somewhere.  Personally I felt that after a pretty good opening this book lost its way in the middle, but the ending makes it worth the read.

In fact the clever and chilling ending has me eager to read the sequel.

Rise Again  /  CD Audiobook  /  Rise Again: Below Zero

#9  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austin

You can never go wrong with the classics.
You can never go wrong with the classics.

Where do we start with this one?  How about with the fact that besides zombies we also get ninjas?  Grahame-Smith (who also brought us Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) took Austin’s book and added segments to it, which is where the zombies come in.  Turning the Bennet’s into proficient zombie killers, while keeping the original plot intact, is quite an amazing feat.  The concept is original, and the writing is sharp.

There is both a prequel and a sequel, written by Steve Hockensmith, but I haven’t read them yet.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies  /  CD Audiobook  /  Ebook  /  Graphic Novel  /  Prequel  /  Sequel 

 

#8  Zombies vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Unicorns have brains too.
Unicorns have brains too.

The second anthology on my list, and one quite different from the first.  In this one Black’s Team Zombie stories alternate with Larbalestier’s Team Unicorn ones.  They write an intro for each story, and in the end the reader decides whether zombies or unicorns are better.  Choose a side!

The book features stories from some of the best Young Adult writers in the business, including Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, and Garth Nix.  Some top notch writing here, stories that made me want to read more.  And I must say that I think Team Zombie scores a decisive victory here.

Zombies vs. Unicorns  /  CD Audiobook

#7  The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan

Get back to nature.
Get back to nature.

What a great title!  Teen Mary lives in a secluded village in the forest, fenced on all sides to keep the zombies out.  Of course things are not all as they seem, and Mary’s curiosity and questioning leads to danger.

One of the things I liked here is that the story is set a couple of hundred years after the zombie apocalypse.  It gives the story a very different perspective.  The two sequels take us out of the forest and into “civilization”.  A related story appears in Zombies vs. Unicorns

The Forest of Hands and Teeth  /  CD Audiobook  /  The Dead-Tossed Waves  /  The Dark and Hollow Places

#6  Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, by S.G. Browne

Love can be rotten.
Love can be rotten.

Told by the point of view of Andy the zombie, Breathers shows the zombie side of things.  Still self aware, Andy falls in love with a zombie girl, and fights against his urges to eat the living, which his parents (who are letting him stay in the basement) appreciate.

While billed as a rom-zom-com, the story stays true to the zombie genre and has its fair share of dark parts.

Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament

 

#5  Feed, by Mira Grant

We are both predator and prey.
We are both predator and prey.

Appropriately, the heroine of Feed, Georgia Mason, is a blogger.  Society is for the most part holding together and keeping the zombies at bay.  The chronicles of Mason and her news team catch the attention of senator embarking on a presidential campaign, and they are drawn into a world of political intrigue.  Plus zombies.

The first installment of the Newsflesh trilogy, Feed has all the elements of a socio-political thriller as well as satisfying zombie action.  And while Grant may not have quite the same knack of predicting future technology that such luminaries as Heinlein, Bradbury, and Gibson did, she does give us an idea of how our current social media habits may evolve in the very near future.

Feed  /  Deadline  /  Blackout

#4  The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman

Walking is healthy, right?
Walking is healthy, right?

In 2003 Image Comics published The Walking Dead #1, and black and white comic book written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore (Charlie Adland took over the art after issue #6).  It kind of became a big thing.

The Walking Dead tells the story of a group of survivors facing one crisis after another.  Food, supplies, and shelter are a constant concern, as are bad people and of course the zombies.  The comic (which is still an ongoing series, with over 130 issues so far) spawned a hit tv series, and Kirkman has written Walking Dead novels as well.

One warning about this series: it is unrelentingly grim.  No real comic relief, just one tragedy after another.

The Walking Dead Book 1  /  Season 1 DVD  /  The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

#3  The Reapers are the Angels, by Alden Bell

Define "angels".
Define “angels”.

A Southern Gothic zombie novel?  Yes, please!  While the protagonist here is 15 year old Temple, this is not a Young Adult book nor a light read.  All that Temple knows is zombies, having been born after the outbreak.  She travels through the south, interacting with both the good and the bad survivors, trying to find her place in the world.

It is these interactions that make up the backbone of this terrific book.  The zombies are always there, but the people are what we focus on.  And Temple finds that there are consequences to her actions.

The Reapers are the Angels

#2  Zone One, by Colson Whitehead

I don't even want to think about Zone Two.
I don’t even want to think about Zone Two.

I don’t think anyone expected Pulitzer-nominated Whitehead to write a zombie book, but he did.  And it is good.  In the aftermath of the zombie plague “Mark Spitz” is working on a clean up crew in New York City, eliminating remaining zombies and disposing of bodies.  As he works he ruminates on the past, giving us flashbacks of what happened at the beginning, how he survived, and how he came to be called “Mark Spitz”.  And of course the zombie plague isn’t as over as we think.

Zone One is as much literary fiction as it is a zombie book, and is not a casual read.  Definitely not for everyone.  But for those of us it does work for, it works very well.

Zone One  /  Large Print  /  Ebook

#1  World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks

The book is better.
The book is better.

Well, no one should be surprised at this.  It is, to me, the acme of zombie fiction.  Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) first wrote the Zombie Survival Guide, a book that described zombies and the ways to defeat them in great detail.  This led to WWZ.

World War Z is told in vignettes, as related to an unnamed United Nations agent some 20 years after the war.  The vignettes, presented as interviews, fill in the details of the zombie war, from the start of the outbreak, to humanity being pushed to the brink, to the ruthless and startling tactics used to fight back, and finally on to triumph and the clean up.

Some of these stories are better than others, of course, but the scope of the book is breathtaking.  From the Kansas woman, now in an asylum, who as a toddler was a lone survivor and can still recall the events in harrowing detail, to the military disaster at Yonkers, to the decisions of the worlds leaders, World War Z leaves no part of the war untouched.

World War Z  /  CD Audiobook  /  Ebook  /  DVD  /  The Zombie Survival Guide

And so that is my Top 15 zombies reads countdown.  But it is just my countdown, and is subject to change (Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion, is sitting on my shelf at home waiting.  Let’s hope it makes the cut).  For fun I took a look at how these books are rated by Goodreads users:

#15)  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

#14)  Zone One

#13)  Cell

#12)  The Forest of Hands and Teeth

#11)  Death Troopers

#10)  Devil’s Wake

#9)    Zombies vs. Unicorns

#8)    Allison Hewitt is Trapped

#7)    Breathers

#6)    The Living Dead

#5)    Rise Again

#4)    Feed

#3)    The Reapers are the Angels

#2)    World War Z

#1)    The Walking Dead

Hmm.  Some pretty close, and some not.  Please share your thoughts on my list, and let me know what other zombie titles need to go on my reading list.  Also, do you think we should have a zombie movie list as well?

Here is a list of all the titles mentioned in this blog:  https://fontana.nccardinal.org/eg/opac/results?bookbag=28267;page=0;locg=155;depth=0

 

There’s an app for that

Google-apps-ne-besplatenBy Amy

I love playing with apps- you can always find something you never knew you needed!

There’s a few that help you make the most of your library – OverDrive and OneclickDigital help you load your device with ebooks or audiobooks (visit NCLive for even more information and sources for eBooks). Worldcat, the world’s largest library catalog, has a mobile webapp that will let you search catalogs from libraries all over the world.

Other apps just help you organize your life- or help you get away from it! Here are some of my favorite apps:

Duolingo_logoDuoLingo – DuoLingo is a language learning app. You translate phrases, words, or sentences between your language and the language you’d like to learn. There are also recorded exercises to practice speaking. It’s a neat app for when you’ve got time to kill and want to feel productive!

 

chore-monster

ChoreMonster – This is an app my daughter loves (most days!) that helps you organize chores for you child. You can schedule chores and include pictures and notes to help remind your kids what they should  be doing. Children earn points for completing chores assigned by parents and also get a chance to spin the monster wheel for each chore completed. The monster wheel offers the chance to win a digital monster for your monster collection.

myfitnesspalMyFitnessPal – integrates with other fitness apps to help you track your exercise, what you’ve eaten, and your health goals.  There are tons of features built right into the MyFitnessPal app, so even if you don’t tie it into all the other fitness trackers the app still provides valuable feedback and tracking capabilities.

 

 

mangoMango Health – is a medication management app. You can input all your medications, when you take them, and how many are in the bottle and Mango Health will send you reminders to take and refill your medications. The app will also display information about your medicines or supplements and will warn you of any cross reactions. You earn points for taking your medications, which can be spent on rewards like a $1 donation to the American Cancer Society or ASPCA, a 1-Night Redbox DVD rental, or gift cards at popular retailers.

 

ifttt-logo-largeIFTTT – If This Then That lets you set up relationships between apps and functions. “IFTTT lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement — if this then that.” You can have IFTTT remind you to go defrost your car if the temperature outside drops to a specific temperature or remind you to grab your umbrella if the weather reports calls for rain. You can have it save all your tweets to a google spreadsheet, email you when your kids post to instagram, text your wife when you leave work, or practically anything you can think of!

 

So what are your favorite apps? Is there an app you find yourself lost without?

Check-in with Yourself, Check-out a Book

By Amy

So it’s January 15th, how’s your new year’s resolution coming along? By this time in the New Year, 30% of resolution setters have already given up. But that doesn’t mean you have to!

Back in September, I wrote “Happy New You” where I talked about how to set SMARTER goals. One of the things you should do when trying to achieve your goals is evaluate your progress. Are you on track to meet your first “goal post?”

Do you need to adjust your goal? Don’t let your lack of progress sabotage you. Now is a great time to see if what you’ve been doing is working or whether you need to shake things up a bit. As long as you’re working towards your goals, you will get there- even if it’s not as quickly as you’d wanted.

It’s always better late than never! If you forgot to make a resolution for the New Year, take a look at the top 10 resolutions made for 2014 below. Pick one and get started!

Enough nagging, on to the good stuff!

Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2014 

(click the book covers to see FRL catalog availability!)

  1. Lose Weight

    Weight watchers ultimate chicken cookbook : more than 250 fresh, fabulous recipes for every day
    Weight watchers ultimate chicken cookbook : more than 250 fresh, fabulous recipes for every day
  2. Get Organized

    The 8-minute organizer : easy solutions to simplify your life in your spare time
    The 8-minute organizer : easy solutions to simplify your life in your spare time
    By Regina Leeds
  3. Spend Less, Save More

     Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending
    Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending
    By Elizabeth Dunn
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest

    9 Days to Feel Fantastic: How to Create Happiness from the Inside Out
    9 Days to Feel Fantastic: How to Create Happiness from the Inside Out (eBook)
    By John Whiteman
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy

    Yoga: Critical Alignment: Building a Strong, Flexible Practice through Intelligent Sequencing and Mindful Movement
    Yoga: Critical Alignment: Building a Strong, Flexible Practice through Intelligent Sequencing and Mindful Movement
    By Gert van Leeuwen
  6. Learn Something Exciting

    Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker's Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking
    Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker’s Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking
    By Justin Lichter
  7. Quit Smoking

    Quit Smoking for Life: A Simple, Proven 5-Step Plan
    Quit Smoking for Life: A Simple, Proven 5-Step Plan
    By Suzanne Schlosberg
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams

    Everyone Helps, Everyone Wins: How Absolutely Anyone Can Pitch in, Help Out, Give Back, and Make the World a Better Place
    Everyone Helps, Everyone Wins: How Absolutely Anyone Can Pitch in, Help Out, Give Back, and Make the World a Better Place
    By David T. Levinson
  9. Fall in Love

    Fall in Love for Life: Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage
    Fall in Love for Life: Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage (eBook)
    By Barbara Cooper
  10. Spend More Time with Family

    The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day
    The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day (eBook)
    by Meg Cox

‘Tis the Season…for Lists. Here’s a List of Lists.

By Jeff

Every year, this time of the year, I actually look forward to all the “best of…” and “most notable…” lists that come out.  I have two reasons for seeking out these lists.  First of all, they inevitably “fill the gaps” for me.  No matter how hard I try to stay on top of the best books, movies, music, etc., from the previous year, I always miss something.  Secondly, it’s always fun to mentally compare and contrast the lists of experts to my own ideas of what belongs.

Though many of these lists make it on to my radar through social media sources, I always forget to bookmark them or save their locations in one place on my computer.  Then, unfortunately, I tend to forget about them all together.  So, I’m solving this problem with this post:  A List of Lists.  All the “best of …” and “most notable…” list all in one place, and if you’re like me, read on.

Publisher’s Weekly has a web page that includes all of their lists.  But you can save yourself one click by choosing one of these genres and going directly to its list:  Top 10,  Fiction,  Myster/Thiller,  PoetryRomance,  SF/Fantasy/Horror,  ComicsNonfictionChildren’s PictureChildren’s FictionChildren’s NonfictionReligionLifestyle.

Library Journal reviews hundreds of books every month, so it’s no surprise that they have many different “best” lists, as well.  While there are too many lists to actually list here, this one stuck out:  Best Ebook Romance.

School Library Journal focuses on books for children and young adults, and they have a great all encompassing list on their web page.

The American Library Association has a list of Notable Books for Adults and Notable Books for Children.

The New York Times publishes several different book lists.  It’s simplest list is The 10 Best books of 2012, which covers the top 5 fiction and top 5 nonfiction books.  They also offer this all encompassing 100 Notable Books of 2012.

National Public Radio has their own list of lists on their site, as well.  Though some genres are listed (like, Historical Fiction and Science Fiction), NPR also has lists for special groups of people (like, Book Club Readers and Gift Givers).

The folks over at Goodreads do it a little differently.  They let readers vote on the best books of the year.  As of this writing, they have 1,156, 852 votes.  Personally, I suspect the votes are scewed a bit, because on the Humor list the book Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops has a strong placing at #3 (again, as of this writing).

If you’re still wanting more, you might want to take a look at these end of the year lists:

Of course, there are more (and there will be more in the coming weeks), so please mention them in comments section.

 

Library ebooks on your Nook Color or Kindle Fire

Checking out library ebooks has just gotten easier for owners of Nook Color, Nook Tablets, and Kindle Fires.  Overdrive, the vendor that provides our library ebooks, has recently released two new apps for Nooks and for the Kindle Fire.  These apps allow library users to download Adobe EPUB formatted books directly to their Android based ereaders.   The apps are free and you can download them through the app store on your device or on the web.

In order to use them, you will need to use Adobe Digital Editions.  The app will help you set this up, but it is easier if you already have an Adobe ID.  If you don’t have one you can go to the Adobe website and create one.

CAVEAT: I have a Nook Color, so I’ve tried this on my Nook.  I don’t have access to a Kindle Fire, so I haven’t personally tried that version.  Therefore, some of the comments in this post will be based on my Nook experience.

The app isn’t entirely intuitive the first time you use it.  It gives you the opportunity to download content which turns out to be a video that doesn’t really help you get started with the app.  Then it pretty much gives you a blank screen.  But at the bottom of the screen is a menu icon.  It’s the little circle with three lines in it down on the status bar (by the battery and wi-fi indicators).  Touch that and you will have a menu of things you can do such as GET BOOKS!  The app will take you to the Overdrive search website where you can search by your zip code for the library system.  We are Fontana Regional Library, and we are part of the e-iNC Library.  You can go directly to e-iNC from there.  You will need your library card to check-out, but if you choose, you can save your card number and it will remember it next time.  You can also place holds through the app.

You will need to have your wi-fi turned on in order to connect to e-iNC and to download books.  You do not need wi-fi to read the books once you’ve downloaded them.

You can only download EPUB formats.  EPDF format will not download, so be careful to chose the correct format when you are checking out your items.  You can still read EPDFs on your computer if you accidentally pick the wrong format.  (I did that the first time, oops!)

You can only read your library selections IN THE APP – it doesn’t load them into your device library.  Once the check-out period expires you won’t be able to read them and you’ll be prompted to remove them.

I noticed that there is a small lag when going from one chapter to the next, but it was never too annoying.  Once I got past  the initial set up, the app has been very easy to use.  I really enjoy being able to download from e-iNC directly to my ereader.

Here are some instructions that have been put together by the libraries in e-iNC to help you with the setup of these apps.

FRL Nook app Instructions   FRL OverDrive Media Console Kindle Fire

The “New” NC LIVE eBooks Portal Page

NC LIVE is pleased to announce a new eBooks Portal webpage available now from the NC LIVE website.

The portal replaces a previous eBooks page that simply linked to each of NC LIVE’s eBook Collections. This new eBooks Portal makes it easier for users of the NC LIVE website to browse and search all of NC LIVE’s eBook content.

The “New” NC LIVE eBooks Portal Page

The new eBooks Portal page can be accessed by clicking on this link : http://nclive.org/browse/ebooks or by copying and pasting it into your browser’s address bar.

With over 20,000 eBooks spread across six different vendor collections, it can sometimes be difficult for users to explore all of the eBooks NC LIVE has to offer. The new NC LIVE eBooks Portal makes it easier for users to search across the eBook collections, and to explore individual collections that might interest them.

The eBooks Portal gives users easy access to:

  • eBooks on EBSCOhost (24,600 titles): includes titles in Literature, Technology, Career & Self Help, how-to books, and more.
  • ABC-CLIO (200 titles): includes titles in History, Literature, and more.
  • MyiLibrary eBooks (370 titles, approximately 100 are downloadable): includes titles in History, the Social Sciences, Criminal Justice, and more.
  • Learning Express Library (194 titles): eBooks on career development topics, test prep, and personal development.
  • Open Library: NC LIVE has partnered with the Open Library to offer access to over 200,000 books published between 1924 and 1999. These eBooks cover many subjuects and include fiction, young adult, and children’s titles.

There’s also a new FAQ information that explains how to download eBooks from the collections that contain downloadable content and answers questions such as:

  • What kind of eBooks are available through NC LIVE?
  • Can I see a list of all of the titles that are downloadable to ePub-compatible devices?
  • Are there any other downloadable eBook providers that offer content for free?

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact NC LIVE support.