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Author Archives: Amanda Sweet
Virtual reality is huge in the library world right now. The trick to making this technology popular in your library is to tie virtual reality (VR) into your community. Show how VR contributes to a greater good. The key is to find out what your patrons are passionate about and get creative about the industries to which VR is applied.
For example, did you know VR and augmented reality (AR) has been applied to the agricultural industry? An article in Future Farming describes a VR/ augmented reality app that helps drivers learn the control functions of a Claas tractor. The app uses augmented reality to digitally project and describe any feature on the control panel. This speeds the learning process and decreases user error on the job.
This is a great example to use when teaching library patrons about the possibilities for VR and AR across multiple industries. Similar apps have been made for tractor and machinery manufacturers. There are even Farming apps to give potential farmers a taste of the good life.
As a librarian, you can do great things by helping library patrons relate current technology to industries and hobbies for which they have a passion. Then everybody will want to learn more about how to use VR and how it works. Food for thought.
I recently stumbled across a movie called Love, Simon. It’s a young adult romance about a kid who is learning to accept who he is and who he loves. The heart of the story is how one person is learning how to be gay. One person’s story is one person’s story.
If you take a closer look, this story is about learning to embrace who you are as a person. It’s about finding the people who accept you for all that you are. That’s easier said than done, no matter your sexual orientation. Who wouldn’t enjoy a story like that?
When I found out the movie was based on a book called Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I immediately went to the library. As is usually the case, I liked the book more than the movie. It went into more gritty detail and told me everything I wanted to know.
Simon’s story is universally applicable in many ways. We’re all afraid to show people who we really are as people. Simon is learning through the safely of email correspondence. Then life is complicated by an email falling into the wrong hands followed by a bit of blackmail.
I’m not going to tell you if Simon and his mystery email partner wind up together in the end. That’s not how life works. Life is about the journey. Read to find out how Simon finds his way in the world.
Who knows, you might learn a few new things about yourself along the way. That’s the mark of a truly great book. But maybe that’s just me.
Albertalli, Becky. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. New York: Balzer & Bray, 2015.
An app on my phone will tell me exactly what I did on February 23, 2014. Apparently I went to a restaurant from 6:05PM to 7:23PM. It took me 23 minutes to drive back home. I was home the rest of the night.
That was almost five years ago, so how do I know all this? Easy! The first app I ever downloaded was Google Maps. It has a little known feature called “Google Maps Timeline”. I never read the full terms of agreement before I hit download. I just wanted to know how to get to the restaurant.
Even when I don’t actively use the app, it still tracks my every move with decent accuracy. The history can only be accessed through the app or your Google account. But what if you lose your phone or your account gets hacked somehow?
I find it useful when I’m filling out timesheets. If you’re into scrapbooking and you use Google Photos, you can set your timeline to display photos you took that day. It’s great for timestamping memories.
Long story short, every piece of technology has pros and cons. Take a good look at what you’re actually downloading when you add a new app to your phone. Just because an app has a feature available, it doesn’t mean you are required to use it. If Google Timeline makes you uncomfortable, you are free to turn it off at any time.
Libraries might be playing with blockchain sooner than we thought!
Blockchain began as a way to power cryptocurrency. A blockchain uses a network of computers that share resources. The network is used to transmit data and record each transaction in a permanent ledger. It’s harder to hack because each transaction request has to go through multiple, in-network verification points before a transaction goes through. This is more secure than having transactions route through a central financial institution, like a bank.
Cryptocurrency exists only online. It can only be used within a blockchain meant for that cryptocurrency. Only certain online sellers accept cryptocurrency. Essentially, cryptocurrency transactions are just the movement of data. A block is a set of verified transactions that is added to a larger chain for posterity and digital security.
Right now, companies everywhere are researching how to leverage blockchain for record keeping, digital voting, medical recordkeeping, and possibly for libraries! Libraries are chock full of electronic records, metadata, catalogs, and all sorts of data that is shifted and needs to be tracked for posterity.
Blockchains can track version changes to records, timestamp original records and later iterations, track digital points of origin, record the librarian who originally entered the metadata, and allow for easier data sharing across institutions. Imagine access to a secure network of global resource sharing. Only those with a special encryption key would be able to alter the data.
The potential for positive change is at our fingertips. It just takes a bit of experimentation.
Here are some links to learn more:
What is Blockchain? The Most Disruptive tech in decades (Computer World)
Uses for Blockchain in Libraries (San Jose State University)
Disclaimer: I finished reading this book a week or two ago. Then I found out it was this week’s #BookFaceFriday. I couldn’t resist the temptation.
“A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate…in more ways than one…” Sometimes Goodreads just has the perfect descriptions. I can’t describe Wired by Julie Garwood any better than that. In this book, Allison Trent is a freakishly brilliant computer hacker who has a day job as a supermodel. Yes, you heard me.
Liam Scott is an FBI agent with a prickly exterior who is in a bind and needs a freakishly brilliant computer hacker to casually break into the FBI servers. He is ready and willing to break every rule in the book to complete his mission. But, don’t worry, he has a heart of gold.
Allison would love to help, but she has a super secret double life she doesn’t want anyone to know about! Fear not, I didn’t give any spoilers here. The reader knows about her double life nearly from page one. She is casually breaking a few rules of her own to use her super secret computer powers for good.
You may have noticed this, but Wired is a romantic suspense novel. This book is probably not going to radically change the way you see the world. But it sure is entertaining. Every page you turn reveals a new plot line fresh out of the Romantic Suspense Book of Clichés. It was deliciously predictable in all the right ways and was the perfect way to relax on a lazy weekend.
Read it to find out if two prickly people with a secret heart of gold can collaborate…in more ways than one.
Overweight heroines have a special place in my heart. You would never guess why. It is like the holy grail when they appear in young adult fiction. In K.A. Barson’s 45 Pounds, the wayward Ann Galardi is 16, a size 17, and trying to find her way in life. Through a series of unfortunate life circumstances, she believes that happiness can only be found after losing 45 pounds.
If there are any overweight teenagers reading this right now, you should know that that is the least true thing on the planet! Overweight adults should listen up as well. I am a firm believer that when life gives you lemons, you make lemon bars! With a caramel macchiato. And a carrot to balance things out.
On an unrelated note, I completely related to Ann when she got stuck in a dress in the dressing room. I sifted through some of the Goodreads reviews to this book and was astounded by the number of people who have never gotten stuck in a dress in the dressing room. It can happen to anyone! Really. It was the zipper’s fault. Speak of this to no one.
Anyway, I digress. Ann was the most relatable overweight heroine I have read in a good long time. Most of the books with this theme disappoint me because they all end with the heroine starving herself, losing the weight, and landing the extra hunky dream guy. That is not life!
Life is being overweight and finding a job at a fast food place in the mall where all your skinny peers can point and laugh as they walk in while you’re doing embarrassing things. That was Ann, not me. You’ll have to read the book to verify.
It really doesn’t help that Ann’s mother is a size 6 and would like nothing more for her daughter to be her mini-me. I’m here to tell you that you should just embrace the fat. After you embrace the fat, self-confidence comes along, then you can work on getting to a healthy weight without hating yourself along the way. Easier said than done.
This book teaches you all of those things through an adorably awkward character. Is there a hunky character? Maybe. You’ll just have to find out.
The title for God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo doesn’t make a whole lot of sense until the final pages of the book. The book doesn’t have much to do with God, so I’ll leave him out of this review.
This book is about Trixie Jordan and her quest to make sense of it all. Ever since a fortune teller told her that her one true love would die young and leave her all alone, she has felt a bit off-kilter. It’s a heavy burden for a twelve-year-old. Trixie carried the burden of her impending doom well into her thirties. Then she met Jacob Grace.
I love Jacob Grace. Throughout the book, I kept telling myself that if he truly did die between those pages, he would be reborn as my fantasy boyfriend. He would have to learn to share because I have quite a few book boyfriends. Elizabeth Bennett is not the only Mrs. Darcy.
I won’t tell you what happened to Jacob. Much of the magic and wonder of this book is contingent on the not knowing. All of life is the wonder of not knowing. Before I read this book I used to plot out every course in life before setting foot out the door. Every journey was a well-oiled machine and if a piece fell out of joint I would go home and fix it before venturing forth.
God-Shaped Hole was my first tentative step into changing my mindset. I read this book during my senior year of high school and was intrigued. At the time, I had no real concept of true love. Books were the only beau that mattered.
So I focused more on the other messages in the book. I learned that life is what you make of it. If somebody tells you your fortune, you have options:
- Become a self-fulfilling prophecy and help fate along
- Accept your fate as a possibility and take life in stride
- Take action and change your own fate
But the biggest lesson I learned was to not fear the future. Not everything in life can be planned. This bohemian wonder of a book taught me to leave my organizational structure at the door. If you spend too much time focusing on the shadowed possibilities of the future, you never see the ray of light shining through at the end of a dark tunnel.
I read A Little Life by Hana Yanagihara all day and all night for a full weekend. After I returned it to the library I lay awake thinking about the characters in the story and what it all meant. While reading, I had to physically put the book down and take a break from the progressively horrible life that was inflicted on the main character.
This book is written from the rotating point of view of Jude and several of his close friends. Jude doesn’t talk much about his past to his friends, but the reader is made aware of the damage inflicted upon him by the monsters in his past. You, dear reader, will barely be willing to believe the words on the page.
So why do I like this monstrosity of a book? The answer lies in the pure, face slapping truth in the book. Many books are about a character living through hell and learning to heal on the other side. This book is a reminder that not everybody makes it through to the other side. Bad things happen and sometimes there is nothing that can be done. Life is not all sunshine and happiness.
In A Little Life, Jude is nearly suicidal throughout most of the book. His friends care deeply but have no idea what to do. It is dark, gritty and unbearable at times. It is ‘set the book down and go to your happy place’ unbearable. Now think about this: the reader can set down the book and escape to safety. But there are people in the world who have no safety zone. Their world is so dark it would make no difference if they never opened their eyes.
Most people have never lived through hell. That is good. But for those who did, this book is a reminder that there are two options in life: you can close your eyes and stop breathing, or you can stand up and fight. Jude is partially on the way to healing at times, but there are entirely too many demons from the past waiting to drag him back into the shadows.
Jude’s story is not only for the downtrodden. A Little Life is also for the people who care about the downtrodden. If you have ever watched someone try to crawl out of the sewage rot that was their childhood, this book is for you. Read about where Jude’s friends went wrong. Read about how silence kills. Read about how it is not your fault if they slip back and drown in their own sewage infested mind. Healing is a choice that not everybody makes. Some people get out, but some will not.
This book is dark and only gets darker as you turn the pages. Many of you will hate and loathe this book. Most probably will not make it from cover to cover. That’s okay. This book is not for everybody.
But I need to tell somebody about this book. I hope this book reaches into a dark pit of misery and let’s somebody know they are not alone. I hope this book makes at least one person stand up and say ‘no more’. The demon does not get to win. Take control. Pack your bags and get out. With time and distance, the past loses power. Every time you stand up and speak, the past loses power.
It takes a few minutes to curl up and die. Survival takes a lifetime.
Hello to all the loyal Friday Reads review readers! I am aware that it is Monday, but apparently computers have proven to be my downfall once again. While I had a Reads scheduled to go out, it decided not to budge. Luckily, any day is a good day for reading, so Happy Monday Reads!
On to the review:
This review is for a book called Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews. I chose this book because I loved the series but the book cover barely represented the content of the book. If you will notice, the cover makes it look like a bodice ripper. It is not. There are some delightfully steamy moments (I have no shame), but the couple is fighting their feelings through most of the book. Throughout the whole book, they do not cling to each other with wanton longing like they do on the front cover.
Now let’s dive deeper into the book:
This is the first in a book series that was written by a married couple who go by the pseudonym Ilona Andrews. They are a fascinating couple, but that is a tangent for another day. Nevada Baylor and Connor Rogan are the couple (supposedly) featured on the cover of this book. The series is told from the perspective of Nevada who is a private investigator who runs the firm with her delightfully quirky family. Rogan is an irresistibly sexy multibillionaire with magical powers who
No, wait, come back! Okay, stay with me now here. He’s different from all the other irresistibly sexy multibillionaires. This series is set in a world where a serum was developed in the 1800s which allows people to develop magical powers. People can do anything from starting fires, to mind-control, to controlling the elements. It is awesome. The world dynamics shifted so that people with greater magical abilities have more political power than those who do not. Rogan is a Prime and Primes have the highest level of power. People fear Rogan, but women still want him to rip their bodices from their dainty shoulders.
Nevada is not dainty. She will punch you in the face if you try to rip off her bodice. And maybe do creative things to your nether regions. Hmm…that didn’t come out the way I intended. Did I mention the cover is not representative of the book?
In any case, the Andrews duo does some great world building and writes some delicious banter. Oh, the banter! I need a moment…
Okay, I’m back. I will leave you with these thoughts: I’m a librarian. I read everything. I was not afraid to pick up a book that looked like a paranormal bodice ripper. I have a soft spot for sexy werewolves. But this is more of an urban fantasy. There are no werewolves, vampires, witches, or anything like that. There are just regular, normal people who occasionally summon the power to chuck cars across the street.
If you like sarcastic and witty female protagonists and do not want a lot of sappy romance, this is the book for you. If you actually were looking for a book to match the cover on here, have I got some books for you…
Andrews, Illona. Burn for Me. Avon: New York, NY, 2015.
Somewhere in Chicago right now there is a wizard named Harry Dresden. You might know him because he is the only professional wizard listed in the phone book: “Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment”. If you ever run into a werewolf, vampire, demon or other nasty creature of the night he is your man! Just don’t ask him to perform at your son’s birthday party because he is not a magician. That you would think that is just offensive.
Jim Butcher knows Harry the best. There is rumor that Harry is merely a product of Butcher’s imagination, but I refuse to believe that bit of blasphemy. I also believe in fairies and nothing you say or do will ever erase the twinkle from my eye.
In any case, Jim Butcher has written a series of books called The Dresden Files detailing some of the more notable events from Harry’s life. The first book in the series is Storm Front where we learn that “just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face”. Sage advice. I must take moment here to point out that I have grown rather fond of my face and must thank Mr. Dresden for taking on said demon. My face thanks him.
I also highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of The Dresden Files because James Marsters is magical. Just in case you didn’t know this bit of trivia, James Marsters played Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When I heard Mr. Marsters as Harry I am pretty sure I swooned and melted. In that order. I was a full on puddle by the middle of the first book.
You may not be aware, but this review is in real danger of turning into a fangirl rave. But I am a professional so I will just say that Harry Dresden is a clever private investigator who likes to break tension with a perfectly timed one-liner that will have you tittering into your morning latte. If you like fantasy, P.I. stories, or have grown accustomed to your face, you will love Harry Dresden. Happy reading!
Butcher, Jim. Storm Front. Penguin, 2000.