Ben H. Winters’ “The Last Policeman”…what would YOU do?

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters; image courtesy goodreads.com

image courtesy goodreads.com

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters; published May 13, 2013 [9781594746741]

What would you do if you knew that the Earth had less than six months until it was either completely or mostly destroyed by an asteroid? Would you stay in your current job or spend those days working on your Bucket List?

For Henry Palace the approach is to fulfill his job as a detective, which currently involves the case of an accountant found hanging in a McDonald’s bathroom stall. Since Henry is sure that the death isn’t the suicide everyone else is happy to label it, he’s compelled to uncover the truth. No one else cares whether it was suicide or not, even his bosses, so the journey is made all the more difficult. He has to know though: being a detective has always been his dream job, after all! Unfortunately, Henry is not a professional sleuth as he’s had only three month’s training in forensics… not exactly star detective material for a difficult investigation.

Ben Winters does a good job of tossing in enough tidbits of humor (Henry writing notes in bluebooks, and why he has so many bluebooks to begin with) and humanity (strong friendships with his coworkers) to add glimmers of brightness in an otherwise unbearably dreary world.

In addition to being a good police procedural, The Last Policeman is also an interesting exploration of how people might react to a non-escapable catastrophe. As you read through the book, it’s obvious that strictly adhering to the rule of law in a lawless world is Henry’s way of dealing with the stress. What would your reaction be to impending worldwide doom?

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Reviews of great books coming…the dry spell is over

Have you ever had a span of time when it seemed that you chose books that just never satisfied that itch that a good story scratches? Over the past few months, this has been my experience. At first I thought it was me being a jaded reader…then I read a book (Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” that I’ll likely review soon because so far it’s gripping) that described my criteria for declaring a book ‘good’, and I realized that I was just waiting until I read the right book:

“a book that did what books always promise to do…get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better”

While I wouldn’t say I read to get somewhere better, I do want a book to get me into somewhere else. (Reason: I like horror and thriller novels – not places I’d like to be, but places I like to read about!) I’ve read adequate books — meaning not really bad — over the past few months, but I like to recommend books that have taken me somewhere else completely. Is that too harsh a criteria? Please let me know. While I’ll be giving more in-depth reviews in the near future, I at least wanted to get the titles out there. This list includes both teen and adult items.

Adult:

"The Last Policeman: Book 1" by Ben H. Winters. Image courtesy goodreads.com

“The Last Policeman: Book 1” by Ben H. Winters. Image courtesy goodreads.com

The Last Policeman: A Novel (Last Policeman Trilogy Book 1) by Ben H. Winters What would you do if you knew the world would be ending, thanks to an asteroid on a collision course with earth? Henry Palace is spending that time being a detective who still cares about solving crime in a world that has lost all structural norms.

 

 

 

 

Adult & Teen

"The Infinite Sea: 5th Wave Book 2" by Rick Yancey. Image courtesy goodreads.com

“The Infinite Sea: 5th Wave Book 2” by Rick Yancey. Image courtesy goodreads.com

 The Infinite Sea: The Second Book of the 5th Wave by Rick Yancey [9780399162428] This book entertained me almost as much as the first one*  although sometimes the transferring point-of-view left me wondering who the narrator was…but perhaps that was intentional, to keep the reader guessing? *since Book 1 was my #1 teen book for 2013, it would be hard to match that…and I already know the setting, so I can never be as intrigued simply because Yancey has managed to make this world knowable.

 

 

Teen

"Angelfall" by Susan Ee. Image courtesy goodreads.com

“Angelfall” by Susan Ee. Image courtesy goodreads.com

 Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days Book 1) by Susan Ee [9780761463276] It’s six weeks into the angel apocalypse — why are the angels here and why are they killing humans? And, more importantly, how do we survive them? Penryn has the added burden of needing to find her little sister, stolen by one of the angels…what do they want her for?

"World After" by Susan Ee. Image courtesy goodreads.com

“World After” by Susan Ee. Image courtesy goodreads.com

World After (Penryn & the End of Days Book 2) by Susan Ee [9781477817285] Penryn needs to find her kidnapped sister while figuring out how to help defeat the angels. Note: I don’t usually recommend a series as a whole, as I’ve found that sometimes the second or third book isn’t as good as the first…when they are, I figure they deserve the special recognition.

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Lynnwood by Thomas Brown – great horror story

cover of Thomas Brown's Lynnwood A tourist driving through the village of Lynnwood would see a typical charming bucolic British village kind of like one would find while watching a Miss Marple mystery. People might even like to go mushrooming in the forest that oversees the homes…but I wouldn’t recommend it. Like Agatha Christie’s settings, this charming veneer overlays sinister goings on. Unlike Agatha Christie, what goes on in Lynnwood is more than a single family’s tribulations…instead the whole town is subject to the horrific goings on that are an inherent facet of the community.

Thomas Brown creates a fantastically chilling tale of multi-generational decline into depravity; some fight it, others don’t; some are prey, others hunters; some recognize what’s going on right away, others are slow on the uptake. Thoroughly enjoyable book.

Pub date June 17, 2013; ISBN 9781907230387

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National Geographic launches new community: “GeoEducators”

Image from National Geographic GeoEducators Community webpage As someone who really likes working with kids and knows how exciting and challenging it can be to present STEAM programs, I just found out about a great resource to share. If you’re someone who works with kids (librarian, educator, community center staff, etc.), or if you know someone who is, National Geographic has launched a new online community  – GeoEducators – to help you present awesome lessons/programs that make learning exciting.

Crowdsourcing is its key facet…connect with others, share ideas, and work together to create great programs.

GeoEducator homepage: http://bit.ly/1dLoF5Q

Sign up for GeoEducator updates: http://bit.ly/1lAL7Rl

You can join the GeoEducator Community, but understand that it requires an Edmodo account, which you can only get if you’re a parent, student, or teacher.* But even if you can’t go that route, you can find great K-12 Teaching Resources Here: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/teaching-resources/ie/?ar_a=2&force_AR=True

* I will be asking whether certified librarians are allowed to register.

 

 

 

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Coursera – high-quality online CE courses…and they’re FREE!

While serving on the Washington Library Association’s Marketing & Communication Committee, my task — because the subject is something I’m very passionate about — was writing articles in the WLA’s eConnections newsletter about continuing education opportunities for library staff and for library customers. I informed readers about very library-staff-specific resources like WebJunction and  Tech Soup for Libraries, to resources for staff as well as for staff to recommend to customers: Open Culture (“the best free cultural & educational media on the web”); Virtual University (information design instruction); and Udacity (where you can learn to build your own search engine – how cool is that?!?)

coursera tagline

 

 

As I mentioned it’s a passion, so I continue to be on the lookout for CE resources. I don’t recall exactly when, although I believe it was early last summer, I found another wonderful resources for those of us who never want to stop feeling that thrill that comes with learning/mastering something new: Coursera. In case your hyperlink isn’t working today, I’ll provide the website so that you can write it down: https://www.coursera.org/. And I apologize for not writing about it sooner.

Taught by professors at top universities, the current offering of 633 MOOCs run the gamut from Arts & Education to Engineering & Computer Science. I’m currently enrolled in Massively Multivariable Open Online Calculus Course. At first glance it seems beyond my ken, since it’s been quite a while since I took linear algebra…but I’ve always wanted to master calculus, at least the basics, so well see how it goes 🙂 You don’t know if you don’t try! If I fail, I’ll know where I need to start from so that I can take it again.

In April I hope to begin Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life, then in June I’ll be exploring Internet History, Technology, and Security…what is the Internet? How was it created? How does it work? How do we secure communications on the Internet? (I should know by August 🙂 )

The Coursera courses are all free. However, for a fee you can follow the “Specialization” path, proving you’ve mastered the material of several courses on a single topic. Great for those of us who want to show potential employers we’re ready for challenges…and they probably look really cool framed. My ultimate goal is earning the Data Science specialization —- looking at all the specialization possibilities, what’s yours?

 

 

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“The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom's Time Keeper book coverMy friend Lola recommended reading Mitch Albom’s Time Keeper, and since she doesn’t usually say, “Hey, you’ve got to read this” about books, I listened. (Her last recommendation was John Saul’s “Second Child”, a nicely creepy tale.)

Because someone has already written a succinct and spot-on synopsis at goodreads.com, I will unashamedly quote them:

In this fable, the first man on earth to count the hours becomes Father Time. The inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

The book does moves back and forth between the past and the present, as well as among the stories of the three different characters – Dor (aka “Father Time”), Sarah (a teen), and Victor (an octogenarian) — so just a head’s up if that device is a turn-off for you. At times I wanted to shake some sense into Sarah, and I usually thought Victor a jerk, but when an author makes me feel something about characters, I’m a happy reader.

It’s a quick read, and although not overtly Christian, “The Time Keeper” seemed like an allegory to explain Ecclesiastes 3. However, if you’re not religious, I don’t think you’d find this book off-puttingly preachy.

 

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For those of you who want to incorporate vitality to your social media with visual content – here are 55 free templates!

Lovely Birdy spray paint art

Spray paint art, “Lovely Birdy” by Jocey K. Retrieved from fotopedia on 3/26/14. See bottom of post for link about the piece.

 

We know we’re visual animals, and according to this August 2013 article from Inbound Marketing written by Pamela Vaughan:

And in social media? Visuals pretty much make or break your presence. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more clickt-hroughs than the average post.

I certainly have several current projects going on: keeping up with this blog on a regular basis; learning American Sign Language*; building up my confidence as a budding polymer clay artist; and, most importantly, finding a full-time information professional position (yes, I accept cold calls from potential employers!), so even though I love learning new things, I wondered “do I really need to put something else on my to-do list?”

Then I realized that adding visual flair to my social media posts might garner more attention from those potential employers. Or maybe knowing how to use one of these tools will make a great interview talking point. If neither of those potentialities comes true, I’ll at least have taught myself how to use some heretofore unknown tools. Best of all, I can share these cool tool finds with others.

HubSpot’s above-mentioned article provides excellent sources, and a quick click on the link will get you everything you need to learn how to add high-quality visual panache to your social media sites.

The photo has nothing to do with the article – I just really liked the piece. To learn more about what inspired the artist, Jocey K: http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-11553773693

*http://www.lifeprint.com/ is a great free resource for learning ASL

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