The Million Book Project

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Carnegie Mellon University has partnered with many libraries accross the globe (and the ubiquitous Google) to digitize and make available over 1.5 million books online.

This is the largest repository of digital books around! Now you too can read the library whever you are, as long as you have access to the internet. The eventual goal is to digitize all books in print, athough copyright law is causing an obvious hinderance. At the moment, the only books included are those whose copyright has run out, or whose authors and owners allowed the project to digitize their works. Read and love!

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–Adrienne

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Published in: on November 28, 2007 at 11:06 am  Comments (1)  

Lyra’s Oxford

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3 Stars

This individually published short story takes place a couple of years after the events of His Dark Materials. It is an enjoyable little mystery tale, that doesn’t do much on it’s own but teases at perhaps future stories from the world of Lyra Silvertongue. While we wait for those, the Golden Compass movie comes out December 7!

ben

Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Golden Compass Spurs Complaint, Board Enjoys Book

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So, there’s this policy: books in schools and public libraries are up for debate. If a parent or someone has a complaint about a book, that complaint is reviewed by committee. Recently in Toronto, a panel was formed to investigate whether The Golden Compass should stay on the shelves of a school’s library. The head of the committee is quoted as saying “I’m really enjoying (the book).”

You know what I love? The way that committees have to be formed to investigate idiotic complaints (this book has been on the shelves since 1995–it wasn’t bad then…what make the parent pissed now?) but it’s formed of people who really love books. Woo!

–Adrienne

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Published in: on November 22, 2007 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Accidental Time Machine

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4 Stars

This is a fun, easy read about a guy who accidentally creates a time machine that only goes one way–into the future. Joe Haldeman is among my favorite science fiction writers, and while this book is no Forever War, it is still thouroughly enjoyable, from cover to cover.

ben

Published in: on November 21, 2007 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

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5 Stars

Here it is; my first 5 Star book for this website! I first heard about this book when I was working the Download Fest at Shoreline Amphitheater (23 consecutive hours on sight). Working the second stage there consists mainly of sitting around, and reading, if you are wise enough to bring a book. I was not, but one of my co-workers was, and this is the book he was reading. Not only did he say how great it was, but numerous pseudo-circus performers, who were set up next our our stage, also mentioned, as they passed by, how much they loved the book. So I figured I had to check it out. Obviously I liked it. In fact, I read it in under a day.

It is about a boy with sever OCD (imagine and adolescent Monk), who finds a murdered dog and sets out to solve the mystery. It is told in the first person, and it has stark sort of humor that is unique in books I have read. I am not going to go into much details, mainly because I read the book, like, a month ago (been having a hard time keeping up with this whole book blogging thing) but I really really liked it.

ben

Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

What, Exactly, is a Dord?!?

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Amazon is selling a fun new book entitled The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two.This is the perfect holiday gift for your favorite wordsmith or know-it-all, and and excellent resource for readers of any age. From Amazon:

“A collection of some of the most interesting stories and fascinating origins behind more than 300 words, names, and terms by the founder of WordSmith.org.

Did you know:
There’s a word for the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell? Petrichor, combining petros (Greek for stone) and ichor (the fluid that flows in the veins of Greek gods).

An illeist is one who refers to oneself in the third person.

There’s a word for feigning lack of interest in something while actually desiring it: accismus.

For any aspiring deipnosophist (a good conversationalist at meals) or devoted Philomath (a lover of learning), this anthology of entertaining etymology is an ideal way to have fun while getting smarter. ”

–Adrienne

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Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Anne Frank’s Tree May Be Saved

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You know what’s strange? The way those really good books you were forced to read in school sucked the first time you opened them. Now that you’re not forced to write endless paragraphs about the subtext and characterization within the pages, however, the book becomes more and more enjoyable with each passing year. This is how I feel about that famous tome The Diary of Anne Frank.I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the book when I finally got past my childish hatred of all things English-class and read it for sheer enjoyment.

Now, what this post is really about. That tree that Anne talks so much about in her daily musings–you know the one, the chestnut she stared at through the attic window day in and day out, was set to be removed due to sickness. The city decided that it was so diseased that it posed a threat to safety. Conservationists stepped in at the eleventh hour, however, and have discovered that the tree may not be as diseased as first thought. Hearings are to be held in the near future to determine the fate of the tree.

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Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Future of Reading

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With the launch of Amazon’s new E-reader, the Kindle, along with the latest report that reading is in decline, people around the globe are beginning to wonder what is going to happen to our beloved books? Dive Into Mark has created a play in six acts that describes the problem and possible outcomes masterfully.

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Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

New E-reader just launched by Amazon.com

E reader

I’ve always been facinated by the concept of elecronic book readers. I mean, the promise of carrying 200+ books in your pocket is enchanting, isn’t it? Imagine how much lighter my suitcase would be every vacation! However, every e-reader that I’ve found just falls short of expectations. They tend to be small, or have a horrible screen, or are so expensive it just doesn’t make sense to buy them. Dreams down the tubes!

Amazon, however, has heard my sigh of dissapointment, and has entered into the cut-throat world of electronic book readers. They just launced the The Kindle and the product looks promising.

Some features:

Sharp resolution screen that reads like paper

Wireless conectivity that uses cell technology to allow you to shop for and buy books from anywhere

More than 88,000 books available at 9.99 each

Ability to read the first couple of chapters of a book before you buy it

Popular newspapers, magazines and blogs available

Weighs only 10.3 ounces and has a long battery life (no indication on exactly *how* long this long battery life is, however. This sounds a little fishy to me)

Includes access to Wikipedia

So far, it sounds pretty good. It is priced at $400, which is a bit pricey, especially since you have to pay ten bucks for each book, but then I’m a bit of a cheapskate. It would be nice if it also stored pdf books (I currently have a few hundred clogging my hardrive at the moment…) and allowed access to free book sites. Maybe in the future? Amazon sure is pushing the launch of this product, though, so I’m gonna keep my eye out for reviews from actual users.

*Update: An author at Boing Boing just reviewed the Kindle. Read his review.

–Adrienne

Published in: on November 19, 2007 at 4:36 pm  Comments (1)  

Black Powder War

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3 Stars

In this, the third installment of the Temeraire series, Captain Lawrence and his crew make the long trek from China back to England, experiencing many adventurous encounters along the way.

I am noticing a pattern with these books.  They start off really slow and boring (with the exception of the first one, which had newness going for it), and make me wonder, Why the hell am I reading this garbage.  But then they get super exciting about halfway through, and I can hardly put the book down.  Oh well…

There is a fourth book out now.  I have it on hold at the library and look forward to reading it soon.

ben

Published in: on November 17, 2007 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Public Domain E-Books

You know, I’m not a big lover of e-books–there’s really nothing that beats reading the old paper-and-board version. And they smell so wonderful! However, I must admit that I’ve filled my lap top with a variety of public domain works, just in case I finish a book while on a plane, or forget one at home and have to sit in a waiting room for 10 minutes. The horror! Anyhow, here’s a list of a bunch of e-books for your enjoyment. W00t!

E-Books!

Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 7:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Color of Magic

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3.5 Stars

I have to take breaks between reading Terry Pratchett books. My friend summed it up the best, I think, when he asked “Do you ever get the feeling that Terry is sitting in a room, writing and laughing to himself?” Yes, I do get that feeling. It’s kind of like one of those long-running jokes between friends that’s really funny when you forget about it for awhile then bring it up at a dinner sometime. But if you keep harping on it without giving it a break, it just loses the humor it once had. For this reason, I only allow myself one or two Terry Pratchett novels per month, and only one of them can be a Discworld book.

I found The Color of Magic in a discount bookstore when I was looking for something to read during lunch at the mall (it was a marathon shopping day. What?). Anyhow, I was a little Pratchett-ed out, but given this was the very first Discworld book ever, I thought I’d break my two-book-per-month rule and pick this up. Was I ever right! I love delving into the earlier works when I know the world when it’s more fleshed out. It’s interesting to see what the author started out with and see where it goes. Fun!

This is our very first introduction to Discworld, and the beginning of a trilogy (I believe) featuring a failed wizard. This actually follows most Discworld plots, with the whackiness, interesting characters, and strange happenings all in tact.

The book was enjoyable, probably due to its novelty as the first. It also was recognizable as a template for later works, but wasn’t the clone some of the other books became. I over all enjoyed it. It was a fast, simple read that is a great introduction to the never-ending series that is Discworld.

–Adrienne

Published in: on November 2, 2007 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brother Odd

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3.5 Stars

Oh, Odd. You are my favorite! When Dean Koontz first introduced you in Odd Thomas, I fell in love, and that love affair continues into this third book in the series. While it is nearly impossible to ever meet the expectations of the first, surprising book, Mr. Koontz has continued the series with flair.

In this story, Odd runs from the demons (and the memory of a lost love) in his small town, and goes for some rest and relaxation by temporarily joining a secluded monk’s order, where he continues to wow with the fluffiness of his pancakes. He doesn’t get the relaxation he desires, though, and must once again use his unique gift to solve problems.

I liked this book, albeit not as much as the first (I’m not sure anything can come close to the first) or even the second. Maybe it’s one of those cases where having a character with the ability to see ghosts can only take a story so far. After a point, something new and exciting needs to come in to bring about new success. Whatever the reason, I only give this one slightly above average in terms of plot-line, but I will always read these books with excitement. Such a different character is hard to come by, and I eagerly await the next story.

–Adrienne

Published in: on November 2, 2007 at 5:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Book of Dead Days

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3.5 Stars

You know, I really like horror and suspense novels written for children or young adults. Its like the author has such strict perimeters he or she must write within, that the author comes up with uniquely horrible situations meant to terrify a child’s mind. I don’t know about you, but those things that frightened me as a child still secretly frighten me today. 
The lighter creepiness of these novels plays to this fright, and gives a most enjoyable read.

The Book of Dead Days is the first in a series. We follow the adventures of a boy (named, aptly, Boy) as he works as the apprentice of a sorcerer. The sorcerer engages in some sketchy past times, looking for eternal life, selling his soul to the devil, then trying to back out of that sale. You know, usual sorcerer stuff. Boy and his friend must stop the sorcerer from replacing his own soul with Boy’s, and they are naturally on a deadline.

It was a fun and quick read, without the triteness of most horror-for-children novels. I suggest pulling this out for a cozy time by the fire this winter. Enjoy!

–Adrienne

Published in: on November 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

3 Stars

I went through a period where I was trying to read all the new mystery novels in order (or at least in the order that they put them out on the shelves in the library). This was one of those books…I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise. You see, I’m not a big fan of the super-serious mystery. I much prefer the silly-little mystery, or, goodness knows, the good mystery. This book looks like your stereotypical super-serious mystery…author’s name at the top, almost bigger than the title; main character a man (even a retired cop!); heinous murders happen that he alone can fix. It was the whole package. This turned out to be a pretty good story.

Apparently, this is part of a series, featuring out hero. He retired to a beautiful home in the English countryside, where murder reaches him on his doorstep. Despite his wife’s protestations, he throws himself into the investigation, which he, of course, solves after numerous adventures.
I liked the story, and I liked the characters. the family was a great group (the wife happily fed the local bums, was a doctor that made low-cost house calls, and cared for her husband in ways not usually seen in a super serious mystery). There was some nice tension built up throughout the plot, but it wasn’t so badly done that I just didn’t want to finish. Over all, a pretty good read.

–Adrienne

Published in: on November 2, 2007 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment