Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Zinio: get magazines free online!

The Berkeley Heights Public Library offers online magazines through a service called Zinio. The popular magazines we subscribe to are free to library card holders and appear on your computer or digital device exactly as they do in the original news-stand format. Downloading them is really easy. Trust me on this; other than a slightly redundant double check-in/registration process, Zinio is a cinch to use. Once you sign up for a free account, you can just click on the magazine you want to browse and download it right away. There are no waiting lists in this digital cloud. I just downloaded the free app to my smart phone and got a magazine to look at with absolutely no cursing or urge to throw my phone out the window at all. For those of you with more patience than me, you will be in downloaded nirvana instantly. Here are the instructions, that I cadged and rewrote a bit, from the Zinio 'help' pages. You can even watch a video on their website, but this should do the trick. If not, give us a call or stop in at the Reference Desk and we will get you up and running with Zinio post-haste.

The Zinio Cheat Sheet:

Zinio, the digital magazine service, is available from the Berkeley Heights Public Library website. Zinio titles include ‘Car & Driver’, ‘Country Living’, ‘Consumer Reports’, ‘The Economist’, ‘Forbes’,’ Macworld’, ‘Gluten-Free’, ‘PC Magazine’  and more.

These digital magazines can be viewed on your computer, or downloaded and used via the Zinio app on mobile devices like Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows 8. Users have simultaneous access to the content, and it stays on your device forever until you delete it. This means that you never have to return it, or wait for someone else to return it before you can download.

From our homepage  click on  ‘All things e’  and then click on ‘Zinio’ on the list of digital content providers that the library uses. To create a free account takes 2 steps:

1 1.)     Click where it says “Create New Account” and follow the instructions. When you have created a free account, you can browse the Zinio magazine collection. Choose a magazine that you would like to read and click on the cover. 

2 2.)    Next you will asked to create a account. You can use the same email address and password as you used earlier. Click on Register.

Now you can read the magazine in your internet browser or in the zinio app on your mobile device.
FAQ’s about Zinio:

  • Current Issues — New issues are released simultaneously with the print and are ready for immediate download.
  • No limits — Check out as many issues as you want and keep them in your account as long as you wish. There are no waiting lists.
  • Patrons will create a total of TWO (2) accounts; a Library Collection account to check out magazines; and a Reader account to read checked out magazines via streaming online with computers and/or downloaded offline via mobile apps.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton

Kinsey and me: stories by Sue Grafton (2013)

Fans of Sue Grafton's 'alphabet' mystery series which started with "A" is for Alibi, a Kinsey Milhone Mystery (1982) will want to read this collection of mystery short stories which feature Kinsey early in her career as a private detective. Each story achieves the amazing feat of quickly setting the scene, introducing the characters in brief, deft descriptions and setting up the murder mystery. Kinsey energetically pursues the leads and usually figures out the solution before the actual story ending. Each story ends with a twist: unexpected, sometimes bizarre, often ironic or funny.

The second half of this book, the 'and me' part, are autobiographical essays about the author's childhood and early life with her alcoholic parents. What does it take to make a child raised in a family with problems, survive and succeed as a writer? Maybe the key is in these stories. When asked in an interview for Oprah Magazine how she survived her troubled childhood, Ms. Grafton answers:

" Writing. Pure and simple. Writing was my anchor and gave me a way to convert all of that unhappiness into something that would serve me."

Highly recommended for fans of the series, murder mystery fans and fans of the short story. I loved this book and was sorry when it ended. I must go back and reread some of the alphabet series.

Related sources:

Sue Grafton's website

Oprah Winfrey interview with Sue Grafton

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

'Getting the right answer is only possible when you have asked the right questions.'

That is the pithy advice I just found in a fortune cookie and a more appropriate cookie aphorism could not have been written for a reference librarian. The principle of answering patron's questions is to first pepper them with more questions to get at the specifics of what they want to know. That is called the 'reference interview' in libraryland.

Patron: Do you have Kovel's Antiques & Collectibles Price List?
Librarian: Yes, we do; the latest edition is a reference copy, but you can take out the older editions. Is there some particular kind of antique you are researching?
Patron: Yes, I don't suppose what I want is in Kovel's anyway, because I don't want the price, I want to know what the mark means.
Librarian: We do have books of silver marks and china marks and so on. What kind of piece do you have?
Patron: China.

The patron then went on to describe the piece and to tell me that she wanted similar pieces, but could not read the mark and did not know how to look up information about it. I set aside several books on china marks and identification and also suggested that she take a picture of her china for the antique dealer if she didn't want to carry it with her. If we had just stopped the conversation at the Kovel's guide, the patron may not have gotten the answer she needed. I hope she gets back to me about whether she was able to identify her china.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cupcake Mysteries

Want to indulge your sweet tooth without risk?  Reading novels about baked goods requires less willpower than borrowing any of BHPL’s beautiful books on baking and decorating the real thing.

Donna Kauffman          Sugar Rush; Babycakes; Sweet Stuff
Meg Donohue              How to Eat a Cupcake

Jenny Colgan                Meet Me at the Cupcake CafĂ©

Joanne Fluke                Red Velvet Cupcake Murder (one of many delicacies)

Jennifer Ross                Icing on the Cupcake

Carol Culver                 A Good Day to Pie and Never Say Pie                                  

Ellery Adams                Pies and Prejudice

If you are able to withstand temptation, try Laura Florand’sseries (Chocolate Touch, Chocolate Kiss, Chocolate Thief).  Set in Paris, Florand blends a big helping of chocolate with just the right amount of magic.
 - S. Bakos

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Language of Flowers, a book group favorite

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers (2011) is the author's first novel and it has been a bestseller and book group favorite since its publication. The library's Tuesday night book group will be discussing this popular book tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.
Victoria Jones at age eighteen has just aged out of the foster care system and, after a brief period of homelessness, begins working for a florist where she uses the Victorian language of flowers to communicate feelings and messages for her customers. Her creativity with flowers makes her floral creations very popular and eventually leads to a successful career.
The Language of Flowers shows the problems of the foster care system from the point of view of a little girl who spends her life bouncing from family to family and finally to group homes. Unloved, unwanted and badly behaved, Victoria's damaged soul and obstreperous behavior sets her on a self-fulfilling cycle of rejection, loss and emotional isolation. Just when she finds a foster home where she and the mother begin to slowly form a bond of trust, the situation devolves into tragedy. It is this tragedy that needs to be remembered, confronted and resolved before Victoria can learn to love and trust and build a life for herself.
I enjoyed this book very much and will be interested in hearing the book group members' impressions of the story.

Related links:
Janet Maslin's review in the New York Times
Excerpt from the New York Times review: 'Vanessa Diffenbaugh has used adoption, foster homes, emancipation, homelessness, single motherhood and attachment disorder as talking points for “The Language of Flowers,” her virtually self-marketing debut book. She has set up an advocacy group to support young people making the transition from foster care to independence. And she has compiled her own flower dictionary, modeled on one from 1885'

Information about the author from the publisher's website: Random House

Reading Group Guides Discussion Questions