A book review for Krakheads

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 10:31am

Reviewing Missoula by Jon Krakauer

I am a Krakhead (self-diagnosed).  I have read every book by Jon Krakauer, some more than once, some more than twice.  The first road trip that my husband and I went on, we listened to Into the Wild, sometimes going hours without speaking, absorbed in what we were hearing.  It is really not possible to describe how much I enjoy everything about Krakauer’s books, from his research to his ability to keep humanity at the core of it all.  When I heard about the announcement of Missoula, his newest book, I knew I would be reading it as soon as I could get my hands on it.

Missoula is a book that deals with campus rape and sexual assault at the University of Montana in Missoula.  Krakauer, as is his signature style, has dug deep into this college town what exact made the Department of Justice single them out in an investigation from 2008 to 2012 and shows readers the horrors of acquaintance rape.  We are introduced to several women, learn about their lives and families, and the horrors that were done to them, by their assailants, the community at large, and, in some cases, the local justice system.  The book shines a light on the underreported and misunderstood crime of sexual violence by acquaintances, and what exactly is was that made these stand out so much in Missoula, especially in connection with Grizzly football players.

This is not an easy book to read, but it is important.  Krakauer starts his book with a warning to readers that there are graphic descriptions of what has been done to these women, and it was difficult to read at times.  By pulling straight from police, emergency, and court documents, along with interviews from the victims, we are shown a brutally honest picture of what happens to these women, both during and after their attacks.

This book could not come out at a more auspicious time, given the controversy that is currently surrounding the Rolling Stone magazine article and retraction about campus rape at UVA.  The point that Krakauer drives home again and again is that while false claims do happen, the vast majority of rapes that are reported by women are real.  And the hurdles that one has to jump over after filing a report are so high that many women do not report at all, and if they do, they become the center of such scrutiny that it is difficult for many victims to handle.  Unlike most other crimes, where no one blames the victim, acquaintance rape leads to scrutiny of the victim in a way that burglary, assault, identity theft, and others are not.  Krakauer lays this out for the reader in his straightforward style, being careful to stay as impartial as possible throughout.

This is one of the best books I have read this year.  That being said, it was the hardest.  I did have to put the book down and walk away on more than one occasion, but I kept coming back.  As I was once a college coed, I know many women who were in similar situations; I drove friends to the hospital, sat holding their hands.  Krakauer’s book, while tough to read, is an important title for all, and hopefully can begin to bring about change that we need, both on and off of college campuses.

reviewed by Meghan Volchko, Collection Development Specialist at OverDrive and she hopes to Take Back the Night.

Books for dog lovers

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 10:23am

We all know librarians love them some cats, but I have a confession: I’m a total dog person! The first book I ever checked out from the library was The Poky Little Puppy.

Growing up, we always had dogs and they were treated as family (actually, they were treated better than family). They went everywhere with us; my dad’s German Shepard, Junior, rode on the lawnmower with him. Once I moved out on my own, I was desperate for a furry companion but my apartment did not allow pets. I lived vicariously through my friends by spoiling their dogs and filling my phone with pictures of them (I even have a painting of my best friend’s beagle, Betty Davis).

On Halloween 2013 the timing was finally right for me to get a puppy of my own. I still remember picking up my sweet shih-tzu/pit mix, Fancy (pictured), from the Mineral County Humane Society. She immediately wriggled into my lap and covered my face in kisses. She is the best Halloween treat I could ever receive and I can’t imagine my life without her now. Like other pet parents, I truly think of her as my child. If you’re a fellow dog devotee, you’ll love these titles:

Dog Shaming by Pascale Lemire – Based on the popular blog, this book lets us laugh at the embarrassing, shameful, and gross things our beloved fuzz butts sometimes put us through (like eating the tv remote and two replacement remotes).

I Could Chew on This by Francesco Mariculiano – If your dog had opposable thumbs and could write poetry, this book would be the result.

Shiloh – A young boy rescues a beagle from an abusive owner in this touching tale. Bonus: this book is set in my home state! Montani Semper Liberi!

Underwater Puppies by Seth Casteel – This collection of photos featuring submerged puppies will kill you by overload of cuteness.

reviewed by Michelle Ross, Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive and is the proud owner of the most adorable dog in the world

Still looking for more titles? Here's a generic search for dogs that you can filter by true or untrue titles, books, eBooks, Audios, DVDs, and more.


Overdrive updates for renewing, ratings, and narration

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 7:39pm

Below is a summary of updates for your OverDrive digital library website that are now live.

  • Now, If a user borrows a title and the title has (or accumulates) holds, the user will no longer see a “Renew” link for that title on their bookshelf. Instead, they will see a “Request Again” link that lets them join the title’s holds list and borrow the title again when it becomes available. Note that this is the same way that the “Renew” link currently works for titles with holds; only the language was updated.

    The limitation restricting the number of times each title can be renewed has also been removed.


  • Users can now assign star ratings to titles they currently have checked out directly from their bookshelf.

  • The new “narrated” label will help users identify which eBooks are available in OverDrive Read with narration:

    On the title details pages for narrated eBooks, users will also see an audio icon next to the OverDrive Read format:

    From here, users can click either the “narrated” label or the audio icon to learn more about narration.
  • The “enhanced” label for enhanced titles has been updated to match the style of the “narrated” label:

Six connected through marriage or infidelity

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 8:14am

If you’ve heard anything about the latest in marriage thriller novels this year, you know that the one to read is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

But, if you’ve been trying to get your hands on it through your library (as you should), you may have noticed that you’re not alone. While you wait for your hold on this thrilling title, we’ve got some other books you can check out to tide you over.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica—This thrilling novel uses a shifting viewpoints writing style that is similar to The Girl on the Train and tells the story of a girl who is kidnapped. Mia, the daughter of a Chicago judge is abducted, but her kidnapper decides to go against the plan…you won’t believe the twists and turns ahead.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison—What do you do when your husband, a committed cheater, decides toactually leave you? Jodi finds out when her husband Todd decides to dissolve their marriage and start a new life with another woman. But Jodi won’t let him go that easily…

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm—A woman who calls herself Julie from California is living in Paris with a big secret. Her real name is Grace and she’s from Tennessee, a place where two men have just been released from jail for a crime that she planned in great detail. When things went sour, Grace got out on a flight to Europe while the two men took the fall. What will happen if they find her?

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison—Annie is a happily married wife and mother with a relatively good life. But when a photograph arrives in her mailbox from days long gone, trouble begins to brew. Annie must quickly try to put together the pieces of her life when her past threatens to ruin it all.

Emma Kanagaki is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive

The Blair family crusades

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 1:42pm

Reviewing The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer

I still remember when my mom gave me Ann Packer’s The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, for two reasons. One: I could not put it down and suffered a night without sleep, followed by a day of dark circles under eyes and stumbling. Two: it made me think, a lot, both while I was reading and after. I still find myself bringing up that book, and the questions that it asked even though I read it over 10 years ago. It is the classic girl and boy are high school sweethearts, girl starts to feel suffocated by her small town life and right before she goes to leave boy and town, boy is paralyzed in a freak accident, and girl must decide if she stays for him or leaves for herself.  Ann Packer is a brilliant writer who evokes great emotion, and when I heard that she was releasing a new book, The Children’s Crusade, I knew I had to have another sleepless night with her words.

The Children’s Crusade takes readers to San Francisco starting in the 1950s and carrying us through today, all through the eyes of one family, the Blair’s. Packer’s stories often focus on complicated family relationships, and we benefit from her comfort in the genre, as this book is full of the tension and love of families, without falling into the overdramatic tropes of some less experienced writers. Dr. Bill Blair is a Midwestern transplant to the Bay Area in the early 1950s, where he is hoping to create a new life for himself after all that he saw working as a doctor in the war. When he meets Penny, he finds his opportunity to create the family that he has always wanted, but, of course, things never work as planned. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of each of the now-adult Blair children, Robert, Rebecca, Ryan, and James, all centered around their decision whether or not to sell the family home and land a few years after their father’s death.

Packer moves back and forth in time, leaving breadcrumbs for the reader to know what will be coming next, wondering what explanations will exist for all of their strife. As with many families, the Blairs project a perfect All-American family to the world, until things start to crack under the weight of Penny’s unhappiness with her role as a wife and mother, James’ feeling of disillusionment, and Bill’s inability to be everything for all of his children, who are all so very different from each other. As a reader, you become invested in this family, and I found myself unable to put down the book, again wondering what decisions the family would make, good or bad, just like with Packer’s other stories. She possesses a gift for making the reader truly care about her characters in a way that few can.

This is a book for anyone who loves to read complicated family stories or character driven stories, especially as Packer manages to make all of her characters, even the house, multi-layered and quite human. For those who prefer audiobooks, there is the added bonus of multiple narrators for each of the chapters told in different family member perspectives, and it is very well read (yes, I both read the eBook and listened to the audiobook, but how else was I going to constantly know what was going on in the story?!?). Becoming part of the Blair family, even for a short while, was a gift from Packer, and one that I will not soon forget.

Reviewed by Meghan Volchko is a Collection Development Specialist at OverDrive, and she should not pull all-nighters any more like she did in college.

OverDrive app features a dyslexic font option

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 12:58pm

Last week we released the most recent version of the OverDrive app with a number of enhancements including the option to select a dyslexic font when reading eBooks.

Standard typefaces are often difficult to read for people with dyslexia as the letters are hard to differentiate and words tend to jumble together. Dyslexic fonts provide greater contrast in letters which solves this problem.

This new font option will make reading easier for students with dyslexia as well as library patrons who struggle with the condition.

Determining letters is now much easier, allowing readers to concentrate on the book’s content instead.

NOTE: This option is currently available on all devices running OverDrive v3.3.0.

For iOS devices: To select the dyslexic font, tap the center of your device’s screen when reading a title and choose the font options button (Aa), tap the font style name, then scroll to either OpenDyslexic or OpenDyslexic Bold.

For Android devices: To select the dyslexic font, tap the icon located to the right of the title   or find the option that displays font styles. Choose the font options button (Aa), tap the font style name, then scroll to either OpenDyslexic or OpenDyslexic Bold.

Kobo offers this font option on their eReaders.

Kindles and Nooks: Kindle books are read in the Kindle app which is controlled by Amazon. Check with them to see if they offer a dyslexic font or comparable option. Currently, the Nook doesn't offer the OpenDyslexic font.

As always, you can also adjust the spacing, font size and screen color to make your reading experience more enjoyable.

This update is one of many enhancements planned for the app – with more coming later in the year – that will continue to help users get the most out of their digital reading experience.

Relearn the skill of reading

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 10:00am

How many times have you started reading a blog post and ended up scrolling through the text? How many times have you stopped reading a book, just to reply to a tweet or like a Facebook status?

Internet is the blessing of the 21st century, but it also has a dark side. Its main sin is that it makes us distracted. There as too much information and it’s too diversified.

As a result, we spend more time on the web, dealing with shorter chunks of information. Our attention span shrinks.

Reading books becomes a daily dream, often unfulfilled. Even if we find time for reading, we discover it’s hard to focus on the text.

This trend can be reversed. Want to relearn the skill of reading, and move to the next level? Here are selected infographics that can help you read faster, understand more, and keep you focused longer. 

posted by Piotr Kowalczyk

American Girl® Beforever dolls at the Library

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 1:23pm


The Junior League of Lake Charles, Inchas teamed up with the Calcasieu Parish Public Library to add American Girl dolls to the Library collection.

Twenty dolls have been donated to the library to promote literacy and writing, and children who check out the dolls will also learn about the significant role of women during different periods in history.

Each doll comes with her own story book and a journal, so that children who check out a doll can write about the experience they had with it. Did they go on an adventure? See someone special?

Details on the American Girl® doll Lending Program. 

1st middle school grade novel for Alice Hoffman

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 9:22am


Alice Hoffman, the author of such popular books as The Dovekeepers and Practical Magic, just penned her first middle grade novel, Nightbird. As in her previous novels, Hoffman uses magical realism to explore life in a small town where one small girl lives a lonely life due to a centuries-old family curse.

You do not cross a witch. This is a fact that the Fowler family understands better than any other because a long time ago a curse was enacted upon them. Due to the curse, the family withdrew as much as possible from society, away from prying eyes. Twig Fowler is a lover of climbing. She loves nature, acting and her family. More than anything, Twig wants a friend. But life is not easy for the Fowlers, for what would the town’s people do if they found out that what they think of as “the Sidwell monster” is actually Twig’s big brother?

When new neighbors move into the vacant cottage next door, life gets more complicated. Twig struggles with wanting to be friends with Julia and knowing it’s against the rules. Not only is this family a threat to the Fowler’s isolation, but they are ancestors of Agnes Early, the witch who cursed the family so long ago. But what if the curse could be broken? What if there’s more to the story of Agnes Early and Lowell Fowler, the long ago ill-fated sweethearts?

This was a very sweet read. Twig is a wonderful character who has a lot to deal with for one so young. She learned to keep secrets long ago and repress her desire to make friends and be well liked. Any child who has felt isolated by his peers will recognize the yearning Twig feels. I enjoyed that there was no bad guy. It gets difficult to read books where one character is blatantly bad. Instead Nightbird concentrates on misunderstandings. People in the town of Sidwell are well-meaning and the reader gets the sense of small town living.

This is the perfect book for Middle Schoolers and a great companion to spring/summer reading lists! Hopefully Alice Hoffman continues writing for children because her first attempt was a beautiful addition to children’s literature.

reviewed by Kristin Milks is a Collection Analyst with OverDrive

Where's your OverDrive account?

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 1:49pm

Did you know that you can sync your libraries, saved searches, and reading or listening position across multiple devices? Sign up for an OverDrive account and enjoy your favorites on your phone and your tablet.

What is an OverDrive account?

You can sign up for an OverDrive account to take advantage of great features at overdrive.com or in the OverDrive app, where you can find eBooks, audiobooks, and more from a digital library near you. You'll be required to sign into or sign up for an OverDrive account when you install the latest version of OverDrive for AndroidChromebookiOS, or Windows 8.

Features include: 

  • Simplify Adobe ID registration---After you sign up for an OverDrive account, we'll automatically activate new devices for you when you sign in on each one. You can have up to six devices synced and authorized with your account, and you can quickly manage them on overdrive.com.
  • Sync your progress and bookmarks--Devices with the latest OverDrive app (for Android 4.0+, Chromebook, iOS 6.0+, or Windows 8/RT) work with your OverDrive account to sync progress and bookmarks for eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming videos that you've downloaded or added to the app. So when you move from your iPad to your Nexus 6, you don't have to spend time scrolling through pages or fast-forwarding to find your current place or favorite passage. 
  • Save libraries--When you save libraries to your OverDrive account, you can access them from any device you've signed in with. For example, when you get a new tablet and install the OverDrive app, just sign in to your account and your saved libraries will appear automatically. When searching at OverDrive.com, you can filter results to show only titles available at your libraries.
  • Save searches to your account--Are you a Jim Butcher fan? With an OverDrive account, you can search for "Jim Butcher," save the results, and then return to them each time you're ready to borrow the next book in the series.

What is the difference between an OverDrive account and your library account?

An OverDrive account (required when installing the latest version of the OverDrive app) authorizes the app to read protected eBooks, allows you to save a list of your favorite digital libraries, and syncs your bookmarks and progress in eBooks and audiobooks across devices.

You can sign up for an OverDrive account at overdrive.com, or learn more about them here.

A library account (represented by your library card) lets you borrow titles from your library's digital collection. Even if you create an OverDrive account to use the app, you'll still need your library card to get titles from your digital library.

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