Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

I'm pretty excited about Rick Riordan's new series, which focuses on the Egyptians and starts with his recently released The Red Pyramid


The Red Pyramid

This is aimed at mid-grade readers, and is about as consistent as the Percy Jackson stories. (Starts out very exciting, gets a little slow in the middle, finishes with a bang.) I definitely recommend it if you enjoyed the previous series. This one is nice because the narrative goes back and forth between the two siblings, so you get some of Sadie's perspective and some of Carter's.

If there are other stories that are adaptations of Egyptians mythology and tales, I'm not familiar with them, although according to The Red Pyramid, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is based on an Egyptian story. Does anyone know any other modernizations or adaptations of Egyptian stories?

--richlayers

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Gale Databases

You might want to take a look at the Gale Guided tutorials. These on-demand videos offer a wealth of reference resources on a wide variety of subject areas. They are available at:

http://www.gale.cengage.com/guidedtour/index.htm

SR

Shannon Roy
Continuing Education Coordinator
State Library of Kansas

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trent's college advice

I read a financial blog called The Simple Dollar. And since finances are part of everyday life, this writer often expands his advice to ways to get the most out of any experience. Here's what he says today about the value of college:


Five Thoughts about Making College Great

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 07:00 AM PDT

Tomorrow, several people that matter a lot to me are starting their college experience. Here are fifteen things I’d like to suggest to them that they’re probably not hearing from anyone else who has been giving them advice on college over the past three months.

You don’t have to know what you want to do right now. You’ve probably heard countless people asking what you’re majoring in and so on and you’ve likely built the decision up into something monumental in your head. It isn’t. For starters, most of the time when a person asks a college student what their major is, they’re mostly just looking for some sort of information about who you are. They’re not trying to judge you, they’re trying to understand you.

As for the vitality of that major, I majored in life sciences and computer science in college and today I’m a writer on personal finance topics.

In short, you end up finding your own path in life and it’s not a path dictated by your college major. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a major that actually lines up with what you’re passionate about. If you’re not lucky, your college degree will mostly wind up being proof that you went to college for some number of years and were able to complete a degree.

Instead, the biggest value you’ll earn in college is the relationships with other people. The friendships I built over the course of my college career form many of my friendships now. I have friends sprinkled throughout tons of businesses and organizations and walks of life now. A relationship I built with my academic advisor got me my first real college job. A relationship I built with an awesome staff member got me a research job related to my area of study. A relationship built with a professor helped me to get my first post-college job – and, indirectly, my second one. I fell in love with my wife-to-be in college. At my wedding, my best man and one of my groomspeople were my two closest college friends.

The people made the impact.
Focus on building friendships with good people – students, staff members, professors, deans, everyone. Look for people who are focused at what they’re doing, have some interest overlap with you, and are also seeming like they’re having fun doing it, because those are the people that are going to be great to spend time with and are also going to be doing something great with their life. They’re the kind of people that will make your path better.

The biggest value you can get from your classes is transferable skills.
Knowing the ins and outs of organic chemistry might help you if you happen to wind up in one of those rare jobs that utilizes it. The skills you’ve built in the process of actually getting through organic chemistry – those are ones you’ll utilize time and time again.

The value isn’t so much in the actual subject you learn in your classes. The value comes from the ability to absorb lots of information, to process that information, and to think about that information. The value of college is in the ability to manage your time effectively enough so you can do all of that, get strong grades, hold down a job, build relationships, and grow as a person. The value of college is learning how to communicate with people from vastly different backgrounds than you – in other words, try making a friend that lived on another continent.

Time management skills. Information management skills. Communication skills (speaking, writing, presenting). Critical thinking. Those are the things that college gives you a great opportunity to really, really learn, and those are the things that will help you no matter what your path is.

Almost everyone will get as much or more value out of learning how to learn a particular challenging topic or class than they will get out of that specific topic.

Try things you would have never tried before.
The social constructs of a typical high school make it very hard for people to dive into and discover what they’re passionate about. Those constructs are largely gone in college. This is the time in your life to try stuff you would have never tried before.

As Robert Heinlein put it, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

College is the best opportunity in your life for trying all of these things, learning how to do them, and stumbling upon that thing or two that really, really lights up your passion.

The only way to fail at college is to sit around your dorm room a lot of evenings watching reruns of Bones or taunting someone on Xbox Live. Do something new, preferably something you would have never done before (and preferably not anything that has a likelihood of killing or seriously harming you).

Keep your eyes wide open for free stuff.
The average college campus is teeming with free things to do and food to eat. Look at your school’s event calendar and start hitting as much of that stuff as possible – anything and everything that looks vaguely interesting. It usually is interesting (or at least exposure to something new), it’s almost always free, and there’s almost always free food there.

If the people around you won’t engage in the tons of things going on every evening, it’s a great time to expand your horizons a bit more. Look for the faces you see repeating at these events. It’s a great way to meet interesting people who are actively involved in the world around them.

Plus, most of this stuff is free, which enables you to keep your cash right in your pocket, take out fewer student loans, and get out of college with a smaller debt burden than you otherwise would have.

These are the elements of a life-changing college experience. It’s not about chasing a perfect 4.0 or partying hard all the time. It’s about finding who you are, building the actual skills you’ll need over and over again in life, and finding the people and things that actually matter to you. Good luck.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

KANSAS MYSTERY AUTHOR TO RECEIVE MAJOR LITERARY AWARD


Nancy Pickard to be honored with Don Coldsmith Award at 2010 Sunflower State Book Festival

Internationally-acclaimed mystery writer Nancy Pickard will receive the 2010 Don Coldsmith Literary Award at the annual Sunflower State Book Festival. The Festival will be held on October 9, 2010, in the Osborne High School Gymnasium at 215 West Washington Street in Osborne, Kansas.

A public reception for Nancy will be held the previous evening, on Friday, October 8th, from 4 to 7PM at the Osborne Public Library, located at 325 West Main Street in Osborne.

The Don Coldsmith Award pays tribute to a distinguished Kansas author whose lifetime contributions have utilized the written word to enhance the proud literary legacy of the Sunflower State. The annual award is sponsored by the Osborne, Kansas-based company Ad Astra Publishing.

Nancy Pickard was chosen as this year's recipient of the Don Coldsmith Award for her 30-year writing career in which she has pushed the presumed limits of the popular genre of crime fiction (the "mystery/thriller") to previously unimagined heights while at the same time receiving critical acclaim worldwide.

Nancy was born in Kansas City, Missouri. She received a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri and began writing fiction at age 35. For the past 35 years she has lived in Merriam, Kansas.

Pickard's first published short story, A Man Around the House, appeared in 1981, and her first novel, Generous Death, came in 1984. She is a four-time Edgar Award finalist and the winner of the Anthony, Agatha, Macavity, and Shamus Awards - the only author to ever win all four - for her fiction, as well as the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence. Nancy's 19 novels to date include the popular Eugenia Potter, Jenny Cain, Marie Lightfoot, and Kansas series. In addition she has published over 30 short stories and her writings have appeared in over 55 anthologies, collections, and edited works.

Nancy's 2006 novel The Virgin of Small Plains was set in the Flint Hills of Kansas. It was named a 2007 Kansas Notable Book and was honored as the Kansas Reads Book of the Year in 2009. The Scent of Rain and Lightning, her most recent book, debuted in bookstores on May 4, 2010. It has a setting inspired by the Monument Rocks in West Central Kansas. The book has already received critical acclaim from reviewers worldwide, was named a Notable Book by the National Association of Independent Booksellers, and is a Barnes & Noble "Recommended" Main Selection.

"If you read for pleasure, there's probably more pleasure per inch in Pickard's work than almost any other current crime novelist." - Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Pickard's is also the co-author of a non-fiction book, Seven Steps On The Writer's Path. She is a founding member and former president of Sisters In Crime, the international organization devoted to women mystery writers, and is a past member of the board of directors of The Mystery Writers of America.

Nancy founded a new local chapter, "Border Crimes," for which she served as the first president and where she runs a "book dissection" group once a month. The chapter and the dissection group both meet at I Love a Mystery Bookstore in Mission, Kansas. She is currently at work writing her next "Kansas" novel, to be set in the far southeast corner of the state.

The Don Coldsmith Award is named after the prolific and internationally-popular Emporia , Kansas doctor who passed away on June 25, 2009. A primarily Western fiction author and past president of the Western Writers of America, Coldsmith wrote over 40 books, 150 articles and 1600 newspaper columns. He was named in a recent survey one of the Best 24 Western Authors of the Twentieth Century. Coldsmith's "Spanish Bit Saga," a series of related novels, helped to redefine the Western novel by adopting the point of view of the Native Americans, rather than the European immigrants. There are more than six million copies of the "Saga" series in print, as well as editions in German, French and Swedish.

Ad Astra Publishing LLC was founded as a royalty press in 2007 by David Readio and Von Rothenberger. The company's primary mission is promotion of the writing of literature by Kansas authors and about Kansas.

Von Rothenberger

Chair, Sunflower State Book Festival Committee

Osborne KS

785-346-5565

vonr5@ruraltel.net

...and yes, we have several of the titles mentioned in the press release above.