Rejected cover and Mo-Yan's "Frog"

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 9:26am

Rejected Covers is an ongoing series for which artists reveal their inspirations and unused design ideas for popular titles. Below, Nayon Cho, Senior Designer at Penguin, discusses the process of designing the cover for the latest novel by Mo Yan, a Chinese Nobel Prize winner. Yan's latest book explores the country's family planning policy through the eyes of a zealous midwife.

Frog is a beautifully written, harrowing novel about life in one Chinese village, that starts before Mao's Cultural Revolution and ends in the present day. Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mo Yan does an incredible job tracing the wrenching impact each major historical shift has on individual lives. I had never read any of Mo Yan's books, nor was I familiar with fiction set during the Cultural Revolution, so this was a great opportunity to read such a novel written by a master.

The book is narrated by a man nicknamed Tadpole, who tells us the story of his aunt Gugu, a midwife in their village. Gugu begins the novel as a young, intelligent, progressive woman trained in the most advanced medical techniques. She brings her new skills back to her village, determined to practice as a modern midwife. However, circumstances turn her into a strict Party follower, who is in a unique position to enforce the new One Child policy, and she does so with single-minded zeal. Tadpole narrates her life with compassion, but does not spare us the heartbreaking consequences of her campaign to keep the villagers in line.

I was asked to design a jacket that shows Gugu in a sympathetic light. It was very challenging for me to do so, as I found her actions largely inexcusable. I explored many different options, using many different photographs of women in China in the 1960s, but none of them presented Gugu as a sympathetic enough figure. Here are two examples.

Inspired by the text, I also tried a different direction. With a wonderful four-letter title like Frog, I wanted to take the oportunity to have it play a (literally) large role in the design. I set it in a monumental scale and thought about how it could function as a design element. I took the narrator's name, Tadpole, and found an illustration I thought worked well both as a representation of him, and of a sperm about to fertilize an egg (the "O"), to highlight Gugu's role as a midwife.

The design that was ultimately approved uses the same title treatment, but with different art. One of the central horrors of the book is the danger many unborn babies are placed in by Gugu. I found a great photograph of a peaceful porcelain baby sleeping in a nest. The baby is so fragile, but it also could be a figurine crafted by one of the characters in the book, who creates meticulously realistic porcelain dolls. To show the danger surrounding the village's babies, I perched the nest precariously on top of this tall tall title, thinking of the nursery rhyme lines, "When the bough breaks / the cradle will fall / and down will come baby / cradle and all." I'm happy with this design, and think it succeeds in every important way: the baby represents a key aspect of the plot, the monumental scale of the title signals the importance of the novel, and it is overall a warmer, less abstract design. The author was very happy with the jacket as well, which is always a rewarding end to an important project.

Interested? Start reading the e-Book today!

A "thrilling" conversation with Lisa Gardner

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 8:43am

Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of crime thrillers with more than 22 million books in print. As Lisa Gardner, she's written an FBI Profiler series, as well as the Detective D.D. Warren series, and standalone novels. As Alicia Scott, she's written romance novels.

In Crash and Burn, Lisa brings back Tessa Leoni and Sergeant Wyatt Foster. Nicky Frank, a married woman, survives a horrific car crash on a rainy night off a desolate highway in New Hampshire. Though severely injured, she crawls up a steep embankment and flags down help, begging police to find her missing daughter, Vero. A massive search is launched. When Nicky's husband Thomas shows up, he drops a bombshell on the police: there is no Vero. He tells the police Nicky suffers from a brain injury sustained in two previous accidents, and has conjured the child from thin air. But as the detectives investigate, many questions arise. Is the child a delusion, or is she real and in grave danger?

How and when did you begin writing fiction?
I wrote my first book at seventeen. I was very lucky because it was published three years later. I started my career as Alicia Scott, writing romantic suspense novels. There was always a dead body and an investigation. I wrote seven or eight of those novels, and got more and more interested in suspense. I also grew more comfortable doing research and cold-calling detectives, prisons and morgues. The more research I did, the bigger the crimes became.

I came up with the idea for a standalone thriller called The Perfect Husband. It featured a serial killer who broke out of a maximum security prison. His revenge against everyone who put him there included pursuing his ex-wife. So, even back then, I was writing a kind of domestic thriller. That was my first Lisa Gardner book, and I've never looked back.

What made you begin writing at the young age of 17?
I didn't know any better. Seriously. I lived in Oregon. Had never met an author, editor, agent. In other words, I had no idea how hard it is to write a novel, let alone how impossible it is to get one published. On the other hand, I had an idea for a murder mystery. So I wrote it.

How did you manage to get published by age 20?
Once I started telling people I'd written a book, they asked when I was going to publish it. This was a new thought for me. But a good friend helped me find a book on how to get published. This was back in the early 90s when the paperback market was exploding, so demand for new voices was higher. I followed the steps for submission spelled out in the guide. Several years and several rewrites later, my first book found a home! I'd told friends when my book sold I was going to buy a Mercedes! Big successful author, right? First lesson in publishing: my book did sell, and I earned just enough money to buy a computer, and even then I had to wait for the computer to go on sale. But it was still absolutely amazing to hold the finished novel in my hands. It gave me goose bumps.

I understand that while writing your first crime/suspense novel, you were working in the food service industry. After your hair caught on fire a number of times, you decided to focus solely on writing. Tell us about that.
Like many novelists, at the beginning of a career, you're writing for love, not money. It took a good ten years for me to become an overnight success. (Laughter). I had many jobs; one was as a waitress at a Greek restaurant. They had an appetizer called flaming saganaki, which is deep-fried cheese over which brandy is poured and then lit on fire. It was the nineties and a time of really big hair. If you didn't pour the brandy properly, the fire could blow back and get onto your hair. It happened quite often. I got plenty of "pity tips" from patrons because of it. So, I'm really grateful every day that the writing thing worked out.

You once described your writing process as "out of the mist." Tell us what you mean by that?
I'm not a plotter. I do lots of research. It's one of my favorite parts of writing. I may know some key forensic points, but I don't like knowing what's going to happen next. If I already know who the good or bad guys are, then the reader will know, too. For instance, with Crash and Burn, when I began the book, I didn't know if Vero existed. I didn't know if Thomas or Nicky were good or bad. I prefer it when characters can go either way--good or bad. There's more complexity, and there are some secrets. One of the things that keeps me showing up each day and writing is that at some point, I want to know the answer.

You're known for doing a good deal of research. In fact, it's clear from Crash and Burn, you researched Post-concussion Syndrome. But you've also talked about the dangers of doing too much research. Will you comment on that?
I think doing research is the most fascinating part of my job. I get to speak with people who do really cool things for a living. You can surf the Internet and talk to experts, but at the end of the day, you must sit down and start writing. You have to produce a novel--you must tell a compelling story.

Speaking of research, I know you depend heavily on experts in various fields. Tell us about that.
The most fun I ever had doing research was cold-calling a body farm, an anthropological research facility. That was for the first Tessa Leoni book, Love You More. The novel involved skeletal remains, and I spent three days working with a forensic anthropologist. Other kinds of experts with whom I've worked have been physicians; boxing coaches; medical examiners; computer forensics experts; firemen; blood spatter experts; and firearms coaches. I've been to four or five different prisons. For Crash and Burn, I dealt with an auto accident reconstruction expert. Each book I've written has been a learning experience for me.

What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
Probably some type of criminology. With all the research and consulting with experts, what's fascinated me most is the psychology of crime. What is the nature of evil? Is it inborn or acquired through the environment. Or is it a product of abnormal physiology, such as with the Texas bell tower sniper who had a brain tumor. I write fiction, but if I wasn't doing that, I think I'd be involved in criminology.

You're one of the most successful novelists working today. What has surprised you about the writing life?
It doesn't get easier. With thirty books written, you would think I'd feel proficient, but each book is painful in its own way. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker's observation: I don't know that I like writing. I know I like having written.

I'm always just feeling my way to that other side--the completed novel. I feel I'm forever gnashing my teeth and banging my head against a blank computer screen. (More laughter)

What do you love about the writing life?
I love that magical moment when it all comes together in a way I couldn't ever have imagined. I always think of writing as a giant leap of faith. There's that "Ah ha" moment when things just fall into place. Those days are amazing and precious. The art takes over, it all comes together, and I've actually completed a novel despite myself.

If you could have dinner with any five people, from the literary world or from history, living or dead, who would they be?
One would have to be Stephen King. He's my favorite author and an inspirational voice in my career. I loved his book, On Writing. I think he would be amazing and fun to talk to. I would like to invite Queen Elizabeth I, because she was a woman who ruled at that time in history; and because of everything she accomplished. I'd love to have Grace O'Malley, the pirate queen, and Elizabeth's arch rival at the dinner, too. Ben Franklin would have to be there. He was a great philosopher, thinker, writer and an inventor, too. And then, I'd love to have Sherlock Holmes to round out the dinner party.

Which authors do you enjoy reading today?
Stephen King, Karen Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, Laura Hillenbrand, Kristin Hannah, and I read a lot of YA with my daughter.

Congratulations on writing Crash and Burn, an intriguing story that calls into question the reliability of memory and one's perception of reality.

Browse the list of titles at your Library.
 

article written by Mark Rubinstein, author of Mad Dog House and Mad Dog Justice for the Huffington Post

Ready for a wilderness adventure?

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:15pm

Publisher's Weekly calls this novel "..a domestic drama with wilderness adventure..(it is as) emotionally satisfying as it is viscerally exciting. ".

Esquire  says it is "Outstanding...the days when you had to choose between a great story and a great piece of writing? Gone".

Oprah Magazine describes it as "a twisty thriller". Mr. Johnston has won multiple prizes for his short stories. "Decent" is his first novel. It is ready to read anytime you are.

 

Check it out from your Library using Option #1 or Option #2

Equipment and software change

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:06am

Access to My Account and Holds information will be unavailable January 19-21.

There may be temporary unavailability to other services such as Overdrive, Freegal and Hoopla.

We apologize for the inconvenience as we work to improve our system to better serve you.

'Trust No One:' A Talk With Jayne Ann Krentz

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 10:01am


Photo: Mark Von Borstel

Under seven different pseudonyms, Jayne Ann Krentz has written more than 120 romance novels. Many have been bestsellers. Now, she uses only three names: Jayne Ann Krentz when writing contemporary romantic-suspense; Amanda Quick for historical romance-suspense; and Jayne Castle when penning paranormal romance-suspense.

Trust No One, a contemporary romance-suspense novel, features Grace Elland, a creative marketing assistant to a Seattle-based motivational guru. Grace discovers her boss's body, and after reporting it to the police, begins receiving cryptic and vaguely threatening emails. Strangely, they come from her dead boss's computer. To make matters worse, when she was a teen-ager, Grace also found a dead body, an event that left her with night terrors and panic attacks. Even worse, it appears someone is trying to frame Grace for her employer's murder.

You're an outspoken advocate for the romance genre. What are your thoughts about the genre and its standing?
The romance genre is slammed with the same critiques applied to all popular fiction. I think it's because people tend to take popular fiction for granted. They don't appreciate that romance novels, and all popular fiction, transmit our culture's core values to the next generation. Romance novels convey values especially important to women. Most crucial is the belief in the healing power of love. In popular fiction--romance included--the values we see preserved are ones everyone recognizes: an appreciation of honor; the healing power of love; doing the right thing when the chips are down; and the issue of good versus evil. The romance genre--along with other forms of popular fiction--affirms those values. They really derive from ancient heroic literary traditions.

I also find the romantic suspense novel to be a very American genre. It captures the essence of two strong characters facing a dangerous situation in which they must work together to survive. It's an American story with its roots in the old Wild West. As Americans, it's really our story.

Do these elements make romance novels so enduring?
While the healing power of love is probably the core value, there are other factors that account for the enduring power of the genre. Romance novels affirm the importance of nurturing and of loving protectiveness. The foundation of "family" is at the center of the story. It's not about sex; nor about romance, per se. It's all centered on family. I think that's why the appeal of romance novels is so enduring. Most women, and many men, too, have an appreciation for family. That's the key to the romance story. Rather than calling the ending a 'happy ending,' the ending of a romance novel is actually the formation of a new family.

Do you see your audience as being primarily women?
I write a story to satisfy myself. I don't really focus on the audience. I think about what the story needs in order to be satisfying to me. Statistically, yes, most readers of romance are women. But, keep in mind, the majority of all fiction is read by women. I think the suspense and thriller genres tend to appeal more to men because they're the warrior stories. But, one of the most popular male writers among women is Lee Child. I understand in his latest Jack Reacher novel, Reacher learns he has a son. And that's important because if you don't have a family, you don't have a future.

Trust No One is written from both Grace's and Julius's perspectives. Is it an advantage to write from multiple points of view?
I think using a few perspectives helps the story tell itself in a way that satisfies the reader. I like being in different characters' heads. That technique expands the story, gives it more depth. One of the risks a writer takes when he or she starts jumping around from one character to another--sometimes called hip-hopping--is the danger of distancing the reader. If you bounce around too much, the reader may lose the sense of identification with the main character. So, it's a balancing act.

Do you ever use the first person narrative point of view?
I've never done that. Actually, many of us grew up with that technique, having read Gothic novels. A number of them were written in the first person, but I think that perspective limits the story's reach. For instance, in the first person narrative, you can't really talk about what the bad guy is doing or thinking.

From your oeuvre of works, it's clear you've written two, three, and sometimes four novels a year. Tell us about your writing schedule and routines.
Nowadays, I think you'll see many more mystery and thriller writers doing more than one novel a year. Robert Parker was writing three a year. John Sandford is doing two. It's always been a marketing consideration. I wrote a good number of novels each year at the beginning of my career, but don't do it anymore.

I've always been a disciplined writer. Most successful writers I know are very disciplined. I'm at the computer at seven in the morning. I work until about noon; after that, any creativity I may have is pretty well shot for the day. Then, life gets in the way and I go shopping. (Laughter).

Is there a reason you've used so many pen names over the years?
It was always a business decision. There were times when I was writing for two or three different publishing houses and they each demanded a different name. They wanted to tie up a particular name.

You're still using three different names for your novels.
Yes, I've been using those three names for three years. The market changes from season to season. One season, the Amanda Quick name works better; and the next season, Jayne Castle takes off. I want to leave one or two names behind, but as long as they work, I'll keep using them. They allow me to take my core stories into three different landscapes or subgenres. I find it refreshing to move among my three worlds.

Is it accurate to say you created the futuristic romance subgenre with the novel Sweet Starfire?
People credit me with that, but I got the idea from Anne McCaffrey.

The erotic scenes in Trust No One are done very artfully. Will you talk about writing erotica?
To an extent, it's like writing violent scenes. The trick is to remember that what happens physically isn't the important thing. What matters most is the emotional element. It's crucial to depict the emotions with which the characters enter the scene, and those they have at its conclusion. The erotic scene should be a life-changing event. It should add to the progress of the romance itself, in the same way an act of violence must trigger the next step in a thriller novel. In order to rise above the level of prurience, the erotic scene must demonstrate growth--in either character development or the novel's plot.

You've had such writing success for years. What about the writing life has surprised you?
What surprises me is the fact that today, authors get stuck with so much of the marketing end of publishing. It wasn't the case when I started out. I think it's because of the chaos in the industry now. Publishers used to get your book into bookstores and they did the marketing. But today, with so much happening online, the reality is that most writers are forced to do a great deal of their own marketing.

What do you love about the writing life?
I just love seeing a scene come together on the page. I live from scene to scene. If I actually sat down and thought about the fact that I've got five hundred pages to go, I'd be doomed before I started. Each scene, for me, is a little story unto itself. When I get that scene just right, I feel so good.

If you could have dinner with any five people from history or literature, living or dead, who would they be?
Any five from the stable of writers who wrote the Caroline Keene Nancy Drew books, my favorite and formative series.

Congratulations on writing Trust No One, a contemporary romantic-suspense novel that's certain to appeal to millions of people.
 

article written by Mark Rubinstein, author of Mad Dog House and Mad Dog Justice for the Huffington Post

Equipment and Software changes coming soon

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 12:20pm

 

The Library will be making changes to equipment and software January 19-21. During this time, online resources and services will be unavailable. Services include access to My Account, holds, Hoopla, Freegal and more.We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your support.

5 Things You Didn't Know About 'Jurassic Park'

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 8:58am

The 1993 release of "Jurassic Park" was certainly a dinosaur-sized event. From reportedly causing a rise in the number of students applying to paleontology programs to influencing the naming of the new NBA team -- the Toronto Raptors -- the Jurassic (but actually Cretaceous) excitement was pretty clear. Through the movie's massive marketing campaign, "Jurassic Park" even led to the creation of the "Supersize" option at McDonalds -- appropriately called Dino-size at the time. Despite dinosaurs only appearing in about 15 minutes of the movie, America was certainly taken by dinomania.

With the forthcoming release of "Jurassic World," the adventurous desire to revisit the world's most dangerous amusement park is coming back. In honor of Steven Spielberg's birthday, Dec. 18, here are five things you didn't know about one of his classic movies:

Hold on to your brains.

1. The noise used to convey the velociraptors talking to each other is actually the sound of tortoises having sex.

The sound designer for "Jurassic Park," Gary Rydstrom, told Vulture in 2013, "If people knew where the sounds in 'Jurassic Park' came from, it'd be rated R!"

Since nobody knows exactly what dinosaurs sounded like, Rydstrom spent months recording animal noises. After talking with Rydstrom, writer Kyle Buchanan concluded that "some of the sounds are sorta smutty." Rydstrom's work on "Jurassic Park" paid off, winning him two Academy Awards.

Many different dinosaur noises were created by capturing various animals -- such as horses and a dolphin -- in heat, but arguably the most smutty is the origin of the velociraptor grunts:

It's somewhat embarrassing, but when the raptors bark at each other to communicate, it's a tortoise having sex. It's a mating tortoise! I recorded that at Marine World … the people there said, "Would you like to record these two tortoises that are mating?" It sounded like a joke, because tortoises mating can take a long time. You've got to have plenty of time to sit around and watch and record them.

2. The cast was stranded for days in a motel without food or water when a major hurricane hit the shooting location.

Hurricane Iniki, the most powerful to hit Hawaii in recorded history, struck while the cast and crew of "Jurassic Park" were on the island of Kauaʻi. Winds that apparently reached 145 mph trapped everyone in a motel, which actress Laura Dern explained in 1993 to Moveline:

Don't forget, we were stuck in a hurricane in Hawaii together and had to all stay in a motel room together for a couple of days. No food, no water. It was scary. We didn't know what was going to happen. The morning after, Steven, Jeff Goldblum and I walked through the ruins and we really felt bonded. So maybe that kind of experience created a gentler, more open relationship with Steven. He was very honest in sharing with us his frustration about his complete loss of control. He couldn't protect his crew, he couldn't protect his sets. And Spielberg had a lot of fear about it, getting everybody out. He said to me recently, "I felt more bonded with you guys than I have in a long time with people on a movie."

3. The dinosaurs were modeled off Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson.

In an interview with Cinefantastique in 1993, Academy Award winning visual effects expert Stan Winston noted that making the dinosaurs seem as if they truly came to life was the "biggest challenge" for the movie. Winston, who also won an Academy Award for this particular job, said the dinosaurs needed to be the equivalent of a couple actors with recognizable names:

They had to act. We couldn’t cast a gorgeous actor who couldn’t deliver a line; we had to create saurian Robert De Niros and Jack Nicholsons. That’s stretching it, but in the broadest sense of the term, we did need to create characters that performed. I think what we accomplished is beyond anything like this that’s been done in motion-picture history. I’m hoping the audience will feel as I do.

4. Steven Spielberg was hilariously terrible at fake roaring as he tried to scare the actors into thinking they were seeing a real dinosaur.

HuffPost Live asked Laura Dern earlier this year about her time on "Jurassic Park," and she shared this amazing story of Steven Spielberg having a very weak dinosaur roar:

I remember we were all standing in a row, and this crane of, like, chewed up metal comes up, and we're supposed to realize what the T-rex can do and all have this look to the side when we hear a sound. And we did a take and then we cut and Steven's like, "You guys were all looking different directions." We said, "Steven, we're supposed to respond to the sound and there's nothing there. We don't know when we're supposed to respond, so we're responding at different times." He goes, "Oh, oh, okay, I got this." Rolling and action! And we're all there looking, and the camera pushes in, and then Steven, through a megaphone, goes, "RAWR! RAWR!" And all of us looked at each other, and I remember Richard Attenborough going, "Oh, Steven, um, this is troubling."

5. The whole creation of the series may owe its existence to a joke that author Michael Crichton kept telling people.

Crichton had been thinking about the basic premise of Jurassic Park for awhile, but it wasn't until he started publicly joking around about having a huge money-making idea that people pressured him to actually write the story. In a 1993 profile, the Guardian quoted Crichton as saying, "I'd tell them I was writing the most expensive movie ever made. But it was only a joke ... Of course, this being Hollywood, I'd only made my joke a few times before people started saying let's have lunch."

Spielberg ended up taking Crichton out to lunch and offered him $1.5 million for the rights and $500,000 to write a movie script. Spielberg presumably heard the joke as at the time, Crichton and Spielberg were also working on a screenplay that ended up becoming the TV show "E.R."

BONUS: Most of the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" are actually from the Cretaceous Period. Michael Crichton had an amazing response when confronted about this.

For a 1993 article in The New York Review of Books, writer and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould addressed this problem:
Pardon some trivial professional carping, but only two of the dinosaurs featured in the film version of Jurassic Park actually lived during the Jurassic period -- the giant sauropod Brachiosaurus, and the small Dilophosaurus. All the others come from the subsequent Cretaceous period—a perfectly acceptable mixing given the film’s premise that amber of any appropriate age might be scanned for dinosaur blood. Still, the majority might rule in matters of naming, though I suppose that Cretaceous Park just doesn’t have the same ring.

Gould also confronted Crichton about the difference: 
When I met Michael Crichton (long before the film’s completion), I had to ask him the small-minded professional’s question: “Why did you place a Cretaceous dinosaur on the cover of Jurassic Park?” (for the book’s dust jacket—and now the film’s logo -- features a Cretaceous Tyrannosaurus rex). I was delighted with his genuine response: “Oh, my God, I never thought of that. We were just fooling around with different cover designs, and this one looked best.” Fair enough; he took the issue seriously, and I would ask no more.

Article written by Todd Van Luling for the Huffington Post

Checkout a copy of the movie or read the book or eBook or listen to the audio version. Your Library has copies! Can't decide, here's the entire collection.

A geek’s guide to geeky holiday gifts

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:05am

I’m focusing mainly on devices that are particularly good at consuming media (like eBooks, audiobooks, videos, and music).

Today, it’s on to the strange new land of “phablets,” to be followed by my top picks for less expensive devices.

On the subject of phablets, let me get this out of the way first: the term “phablet” drives me crazy for some reason, so from now on, I’ll just call them “giant phones.”
We’ll classify them as any phone with a screen larger than 5”. Sound fair? To get on with it, there are actually several choices out there for giant phones, but for me, it really boils down to these:

The Google Nexus 6
I have a Nexus 6 sitting next to me right now, and I kind of love it. The screen is drop-dead gorgeous, and the way they packed 5.96” worth of screen onto a device that doesn’t feel clunky makes me think they hired Doctor Who to help with the design. It’s only a tiny bit bigger than the iPhone 6+ which has a 5.5” screen (there are a lot of comparison photos in the Forbes review if you’re interested in checking it out).

All that being said, the phone is pretty large, so it can take some getting used to. You’ve been warned. Me? I think it’s worth it. The Nexus 6 isn’t perfect, but I’m honestly having trouble coming up with complaints to share with you here. There are still a few bugs (to be expected with any brand new phone), but they’re minor, and software updates are imminent. I’d like the back of the phone to be a little grippier, but it’s easier to hold onto than the aluminum-encased competition like the HTC One or iPhone 6. Price-wise (at $649), I don’t think there’s a better deal out there for a “flagship” phone. It’s cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 6+ (off contract), and easily goes toe-to-toe with either for quality and features.

Other notables (the iPhones 6+ and Galaxy Note 4)
The other big players in the giant phone pond are the Apple iPhone 6+ and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. There are others out there, but these are the two most popular at the moment.
They’re both good phones, but both are more expensive than the Nexus 6.
I’d say to go with the iPhone if you’re already heavily entrenched within the Apple ecosystem.
Go with the Galaxy Note if you prefer a slightly smaller device (compared to the Nexus 5 and iPhone 6+) that still sports a jumbo screen.
It’s like I said: either phone is a solid choice–I just like the Nexus 6 better. It gets software updates faster, has more screen to go around, and the price is pretty good for what you’re getting.

Looking for something less expensive?
There are some really good options out there for gadgets on a budget, but I’ll keep this limited to my favorite inexpensive tablet and eBook reader:

  • ASUS MeMo Pad 7: At around $130, this is a steal of a tablet with a surprisingly good screen and a decent amount of horsepower. (review)
  • NOOK GlowLight: It’s not perfect, but it’s $99 and doesn’t come with ads. I wish it still had physical buttons, but I still like it. (review)

The wrap-up

There you have it–my top picks for tablets, readers, and giant phones this year. Any of the devices I’ve listed above would be great for ravenous consumption of media.

The most important thing to keep in mind when making your purchase is something us writers tell ourselves daily: who is your target audience? Make sure you’re picking the right gift for the right person.

My brother, for example, loves his Apple products, so I wouldn’t go out and buy him an Nvidia SHIELD tablet.

My wife likes to do more than read books on her device, so I would choose a tablet over an eBook reader for her.
You get the idea, and hopefully my list helps you pick out the right gift (or, barring that, helps you buy a little something for yourself).

If you have any questions, or feel like I left something off the list that should be there, feel free to call it out in the comments. Keep in mind, I’m human, and that means my advice comes laced with my own preferences.

My only hope is that, when it’s time to tear off the wrapping paper, I’ll have helped you put a smile on someone’s face. Go forth, my friends, and find that perfect gift! Happy holidays, and good luck!
 

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 05:11 AM PST by Quinton Lawman, a Technical Writer with OverDrive

More chaos for Dan Brown's character, Robert Langdon

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 3:06pm

Inferno by Dan Brown (2013)

Library Copies

Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon awakens in a hospital in the middle of the night. Disoriented and suffering from a head wound, he recalls nothing of the last thirty-six hours, including how he got there… or the origin of the macabre object that his doctors discover hidden in his belongs.

Langdon’s world soon erupts into chaos, and he finds himself on the run in Florence with a stoic young woman, Sienna Brooks, whose clever maneuvering saves his life. Langdon quickly realizes that he is in possession of a series of disturbing codes created by a brilliant scientist—a genius whose obsession with the end of the world is matched only by his passion for one of the most influential masterpieces ever written—Dante Alighieri’s dark epic poem The Inferno.

Racing through such timeless locations as the Palazzo Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, and the Duomo, Langdon and Brooks discover a network of hidden passageways and ancient secrets as well as a terrifying new scientific paradigm that will be used either to vastly improve the quality of life on earth… or to devastate it. – from book jacket.

Praise for Dan Brown:
In his most compelling and thought provoking novel to date, Dan Brown has raised the bar yet again. Inferno is a sumptuously entertaining read—a novel that will captivate readers with the beauty of classical Italian art, history, and literature… while also posing provocative questions about the role of cutting-edge science in our future. – from book jacket.

This is the fourth book featuring Robert Langdon. Be sure to read the others in this series; Angels and Demons (2000) (Bk 1), The Da Vinci Code (2003) (Bk 2) and The Lost Symbol (2009) (Bk 3).

Would You Like to Go on a Reading Date With Me?

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 3:53pm

I don't know about you, but I am a complete tsundoku (a Japanese word meaning to buy books and not reading them, i.e. a book-hoarder). Though I must admit that as an amateur book collector at one point I do actually pick one up from the pile and read it.

Reading is definitely what I consider to be the perfect hobby. I love having book-dates- as in having a 'one on one' date with a book. How would I do that? Well, I would take the 'lucky pick' out for some coffee, perhaps tucked it in my bag while I take a stroll in the park and would read it later while sitting on a bench by the lake. Sometimes I even take it to restaurants for lunch. Trust me; I treat the book with respect. It has my full attention and our interaction is seldom disturbed by the outside world which includes smartphone distraction.

As much as I enjoy reading on my own, sometimes I have to interact socially with an actual human being and go on a date with him (in my case). Thus, switching my intimate book dates to 'real' dates. I am sure that most of you have wonderful anecdotes related to the dating scene - some might be hilarious, some might be good and some might (sadly) be disappointing or straight bad. When the date does not go accordingly as planned, a book-date would have simply been safer bet. Then one night, I had this idea of a 2-in-1 formula that could really be my winning ticket: Reading Dates.

In my opinion, reading-dates are simply PERFECT and wonderful. Why? Well, here are the reasons to sustain such a statement:

1. The other person actually reads and we all agree and know that intelligence is utterly sexy. Here is something to look forward to if you are into words, the other person can cite some of literature's most beautiful sentences (i.e. "The curves of your lips rewrite history" - The Picture of Dorian Gray). Or some poetry? John Donne comes to mind.

Of course, bonus points if she/he brings a book in a foreign language ( Mon amour, voulez vous lire un livre avec moi ce soir? Les liaisons dangeureuses? - Swooning yet?)

2. The only flaw perhaps in reading dates is that it is not the best type of first date. In this case, grabbing food together as an ice breaker and then going to the movies after is quite a great deal. In my opinion, reading dates can serve as a great gauging tool to see how 'close' you are. Bear with me... Picture this, each person reading a book in the presence of the other person in silence (perhaps with an instrumental music playing softly in the background). The 'not talking' is no longer awkward. Therefore you have the whole intimacy aspect figured out because you are simply comfortable with each other's silent presence. You are just 'there' in the moment together. This is a telltale sign that you both are into each other, right? And imagine those cute glances you both exchange from time to time during a lecture session à deux, one is reading Sophie's World while the other is reading The World is Flat. Both of your hands touching... Sharing a bit of that kissy-kissy? Are you melting yet? I am!

3. Dinners, movies, getting ice cream together - of course these are superb couple's activities, but what happens when the end of the month is near? A reading date is your answer for it is free of charge and very simple to organize. You do not need much to set it and you can let that creative mind of yours run free.

Reading dates only requires an ingredient: a book (or two if you both do not feel like sharing). No crazy candle-lit dinner setting with ten thick candles which you would not be burning any time soon after they have caught their first flames, no supermarket-frenzy-food shopping followed by three hours in the kitchen slaving yourself to cook a two-course meal complete with dessert (random note here though: of course from time to time, it is amazing to have a nice cooked meal from darling and/or cooking for your heartthrob!). Reading dates can just be lying down on a blanket with a couple of candles lit in the room (from the previous first date romantic dinner), some tea or coffee, some cushions for support - and voilà! Can you feel the romance tonight?

Now IF you decide to pull out the big guns for your reading-date, I suggest going to the bookshop together to pick a couple of books. Now be honest with me, did I just draw the scenario of the picture-perfect date just there?

So yes, there are so many fun date alternatives to make things more interesting for the two of you lovebirds! As for me, I just wanted to share my kind of date out here!

Then again, reading dates alone could be boring at some point... (debatable indeed!) Another idea that comes to mind which could be tons of fun are YouTube-dates! All the giggles in prospect!

So after hearing me out, now there is only one last thing to do before 2015: GO ASK HER/HIM OUT ON A READING DATE!

article written by Erdika Wirengjurit for the Huffington Post 

Syndicate content