Book Review: Falling Kingdoms

Death, Betrayal & Politics

Falling Kingdoms (Book 1)

Rating: 4/5

Summary: The Kingdoms of Mytica have strained relationships: the King of Limeros craves power, Paelsia is dying and Auranos seems to be rife with life and excess. When visiting royals of Auranos come to Paelsia for wine, violence breaks out, ending with the unfortunate and unnecessary death of a wine seller’s son. The wine seller’s other son, Jonas, is determined to find vengeance. Princess Cleo of Auranos is ravaged by nightmares of Tomas’s death and her own sister’s illness. In Limeros, Prince Magnus watches his father’s plans come to fruition and tries to keep his precious sister out of them. However, it’s becoming harder when his father seems determined to use both them to succeed in destroying Auranos with Paelsia’s help.

This book was told in the multiple perspectives of the teenagers and a Watcher. Mainly, the story seemed to focus on Cleo and Magnus, which I was fine with because I liked them. Cleo did annoy me at the beginning and sometimes she had her annoying moments, but I think she’s going to get better as the series progresses. The Watcher’s perspective was very strange and while it gave something different, I was very confused by it, especially at the end.

I did like the characters in the book; however, Emilia was pretty bland. She also had about 5 seconds of page time, so I’m going to blame that. Jonas was a very intriguing and dynamic character. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in the next book. I wonder if Cleo/Jonas are going to become a thing. I hope it won’t happen in book 2. Maybe book 3. I could see that as believable, depends. I hope someone kills Aron though, preferably Jonas or Magnus. Or Jonas and Cleo. I liked the romance between Theon and Cleo, but I wish there was more page time before they were like “Oh my god, I love you! You’re my everything!” It felt excessively rushed and I was sitting there with this look on my face: *narrows eyes, glares at book* “I don’t think so”.

Another thing I liked about this book was the mythology of it. I love mythology. You put mythology in a book; it therefore has my name written on it, so hand it over. I loved hearing the stories from Eirene and I hope there will be more about the Watchers, magic and the Kindred in the next books.

Plot wise, there were many small things that happened, but overall, it was really like there was only one big thing that happened which was at the very end. Okay make that two, when Tomas died and the event at the end, but everything in the middle kind of feels sort of like set-up and that it could’ve been condensed or made more significant in some way. I hope that there will be some improvement in book two, but overall, I did enjoy this but not my all-time favorite. It was a very good start to the series, I can’t wait to read the rest of them!

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Book Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear

The Not-so Stereotypical Cheerleading Drama

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Rating: 4/5

Summary: Hermione is in her final year of high school and starts it off by attending her final cheer camp session. However, it ends with her being drugged, left in a lake and raped. Hermione doesn’t know how to feel afterward, though she knows she feels different. Matters are only complicated when she discovers she’s pregnant.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a nice break from all the fantasy books I’ve been reading lately. I just needed something grounded in reality for a quick second and this did it for me. Hermione was a strong character too. She had her insecurities like anyone, but she wasn’t plain or a pushover by any means. I liked her narrating because she was calm and able to process things without getting too angry (exception being her jerk of a boyfriend Leo).

The other reason I liked this book so much was that Hermione had this amazing support network that rallied around her, starting with Polly. Polly is the blaze to Hermione’s breeze. If Hermione is calm and collected, then Polly is spitting fire and bashing in teeth. I loved Polly! She is so badass- her shining moment (there were really a lot though) in this book was when she got on a reporter’s case by asking how girls can avoid being raped. Ugh! But Polly and Hermione’s answers were perfect and just marvelous. Especially when Hermione just pauses, stops thinking, and goes with her gut by asking “Would you ask a guy that?” and the reporter answers “Of course not.” And this is why we have a problem.

I think I would’ve liked to see more of the actual cheer routines throughout the book. There was a lot of talking about it and practicing it, but the routines themselves aren’t really described. I love gymnastics and dance related sports so I would’ve loved to watch these play out in my head. The other thing that annoyed me was Hermione and Leo’s relationship in the beginning. They were together for all the wrong reasons and he was a total dick.

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Spring Break Hours

The Olson Library will be closed for a few days and have reduced hours during spring break.

Saturday, March 4:  Closed
Sunday, March 5:  Closed
Monday, March 6 – Friday, March 10:  8:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday, March 11:  Closed
Sunday, March 12:  12 noon – 12 midnight

The library will return to normal hours Monday, March 13 when classes resume.

View the library calendar for a complete list of library hours throughout the semester.

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Taxes: 2016

Tax season is here and the Olson Library is ready to help.  To file your federal income tax return, you can use IRS Form 1040A, Form 1040, or Form 1040EZ.

The 1040A is a shorter version of 1040. The 1040EZ is the easiest form to fill out. It is used for single and joint filers with no dependents. This means single people or couples with no children. Each of these forms have specific purposes. If you would like more information on them, visit our website’s tax resources. We offer all online versions of all the IRS forms you could need as well as instructions for each one. These instructions are to help distinguish which form is the right form for each individual.

If you need a general guide to getting the most out of your taxes, check out Publication 17. It offers a wide range of tax saving credit for college students and parents alike. If online forms aren’t your cup of tea, we offer the forms (as supplies last) in front of the circulation desk as well as our Federal Depository Library guide to taxes.

The local Beta Alpha Psi (Accounting and Finance Club) here at NMU offers tax preparation help every year.  Starting Wednesday, February 15th, in the Trading Lab (second floor of the University Center (UC)) –near the skywalk, just across from the Wildcat Den.  The schedule of these volunteer income tax preparation sessions is here off the NMU master calendar.

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Book Review: These Broken Stars

Am I possessed by an Alien or not right now?

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)

 

Rating: 4.0/5

Summary: When something goes majorly wrong on the Icarus spacecraft, rich heiress Lilac LaRoux and newly decorated General Tarver Merendsen, become trapped in a space pod. It’s only thanks to Lilac’s familiarity and mechanical skill that they get their pod to launch and narrowly evade death. After crash landing on a seemly empty, but terraformed planet, they begin their search for the ship and inhabitants of the planet. Strange visions accost the pair and they believe they’re going crazy, but maybe there’s something else on the planet with them. Something they can’t see, but can see them.

I’ve had major cover lust since the first time I saw this book some time in 2014. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, just look at her dress and the star background! Completely stunning, a great start in cover art for this trilogy and the others are also enchanting. I thought that the description was interesting and the cover is so beautiful, but it still took me ages to finally read this. I broke down after reading Illuminae (by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff) and got myself an e-book version of this. For some reason, the e-book worked for me. I felt like I flew through this book, despite its many pages.

The book is kind of slow in the middle portions when they’re exploring the planet, but something just kept pulling me back every night and I wanted to submerge myself in the world that was Lilac and Tarver. At some points, I honestly wanted nothing more than to smack Lilac, she was so self-entitled at points and there’s nothing that gets my blood rushing as being a selfish diva. As for Tarver, I thought he was a little harsh occasionally, but I could see that Lilac needed someone to push her to keep going and it also kept himself going.

I’ve seen a lot of reviews that compare this to a space Titanic, but I can’t since I’ve never seen the whole Titanic movie. The romance between Lilac and Tarver struck me more with a Pride & Prejudice vibe. I enjoyed the romance for the most part, because I’m a real sucker for cute moments and anything like that. I also enjoyed the space aspect and I really hope it will be explored more in the sequel, I want to know everything about this world. I thought the authors did a good job at foreshadowing things that will most likely be unveiled in the rest of the trilogy, including why this ship crashed in the first place!

Overall, this was definitely a good book. I’ve seen some very mixed reviews so I don’t want to oversell this, but I think you should definitely try the preview and see if this book is for you! I’d recommend this to fans of Star Trek and Sci-fi, as well as people who liked the Pride & Prejudice love story.

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Charging stations in the library

Although we announced these last summer, it is worth mentioning again. The library has three charging stations in the library for charging common electronic devices.  Anyone who as studied in the library knows electrical outlets are at a premium.

These charging stations are located on the main floor of the library.  The first one is located across from the Public Services desk near a pillar.  It includes attached cables for Android devices, current Iphones, and older Iphones/Ipods.

The other charging stations are at two of the large octagon study tables just past the public computer stations.  They do not have attached cables, but you can check out the appropriate cable at the Public Services Desk (make sure you bring your ID).

Finally, all of the charging stations have a quick charge port for Android devices accommodating this feature.

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Book Review: Madame Bovary

madame-bovary

Rating: 5/5

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary tells the story of Emma Bovary, a young doctor’s wife living in the French countryside in the mid-1850s.  Though she is by no means impoverished, Emma is thoroughly unsatisfied with her admittedly banal life as a housewife, and thus makes a series of futile attempts at fabricating a highly sophisticated, quasi-aristocratic atmosphere for herself and her family.  Ultimately, her decisions culminate in horrendous fates for herself, her husband, and her young daughter.

From the onset, Flaubert writes Emma Bovary as a character that you both sympathize with and absolutely despise.  Readers pity her for being forced into a life of mediocrity and being unable to create true happiness for herself because of the social status of women during her time.  She is in every sense of the word trapped in her lifestyle.  However, readers simultaneously are disgusted with her destructive, highly selfish behaviors.  Emma becomes obsessed with living outside of her means in the hopes of creating excitement for herself, and buys enormous amounts of expensive goods on credit to the eventual financial ruin of her family.  Furthermore, she has multiple affairs with two men throughout her marriage, fully taking advantage of her slightly dopey husband’s trust and adoration of her in order to distract herself from her own depressive episodes.  Emma Bovary is in essence the very definition of a conflicting character- readers want so badly to love her because of her plight, but simply cannot because of her behaviors.

Although the love-hate relationship with the main character of Madame Bovary is not what is typical or ideal for readers of novels, Flaubert’s writing of Madame Bovary is absolutely masterful.  Flaubert vividly describes the society within the 1850s French countryside without being redundant or superfluous in his word choice, and writes with a certain sensitivity that perfectly captures the essence of the female soul and brings Emma Bovary to life.  Arguably, Flaubert creates a female character just as excellently as great female writers such as Plath or the Brontë sisters do.

Overall, readers looking for a highly engaging period piece would thoroughly enjoy Madame Bovary.  However, Madame Bovary is by no means lighthearted, and should be approached with the knowledge that it is highly emotional, conflicting, and frankly sometimes depressing to read.  That being said, Madame Bovary is thought-provoking and splendidly written, and I would recommend it to any avid reader of classics, feminist literature, or historical fiction.

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Books24x7 – a source of online technical and computer help books

officeBooks24x7 is a valuable resource that provides on-demand access to various business and information technology titles.  The library has stopped buying print, computer self-help books and totally relies on Books24x7 for patrons needing help with the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Designprogramming languages (Perl, Java, php, and more),  Photoshop, databases programs, business systems and other like sources.

You can discover titles by browsing within individual subject areas or searching across the entire collection by keywords. Once viewing a book you can search for particular topics of interest or browse the table-0f-contents.  Also, you can save titles in a personalized list that you can view later.

insideview

The next time you get stuck trying to figure out how to put your name in a header in MS Word, or use the wand tool in Photoshop, check out Books24x7 for quick answers.

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Book Review: Ask the Passengers

Therapists in the Sky

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

ask-the-pass ask-the-passg not-crooked-philosophy

Rating: 5/5

Summary: Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

One of my favorite things about this book was how real Astrid’s voice was. It was as if I were Astrid and actually experiencing these problems myself. You know a good novel when you delve into the protagonist’s mind. But when you find a novel that not only has you delve into the characters’ minds as well as your own, it can blow you away. That’s what happened to me. I was trying to answer the questions not only for Astrid, but for myself as well. I imagined myself as one of those passengers answering her.

The way Astrid struggled with her sexuality was moving. Everyone assumes it’s one or the other, black or white. But for Astrid, and I think other people as well, it’s a completely gray spectrum of all shades. Astrid doesn’t think she’s gay, but she knows she’s falling for Dee. She doesn’t want it to define her, because as soon as she has that label, a stigma will be attached to her.

I find philosophy interesting and I loved the philosophical lessons woven into the plot. I believe the paradox project helped Astrid figure out a lot about herself through questioning the status quo. When you take an idea and twist it to show it for what it really is, I thought it was mind blowing. Something as simple as “Equality is obvious”. At first I was like, well yeah, but then you start to think about it and tear it apart piece by piece and you see where Astrid is. She takes everything apart and out of its “tidy box”. She herself doesn’t believe she fits in a box. She’s not gay, but she has a girlfriend. Where does this place her and what does it mean?

Astrid is a very dynamic character which stems from her innate ability to question anything and everything. Her story focuses on self-acceptance, peer-acceptance, love and what it means to be in love with someone. The story was written in a beautifully captivating way that kept me from putting the book down. Hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read.

 

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Dog Nights Return!

The Pet Partners therapy dogs will be here again this semester on Thursday, December 1st and Tuesday, December 6th from 6-9 pm. Join us in the library for some finals week stress relief.  Also available will be a two mini horses!

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should join us:

dognight57-122013

Someone knows how to relax.

dognight03-122013

Dually is the softest boy in town!

Look at this face!

Look at this face!

therapy-pony

We will have two mini-horses this time!

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