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Engaging Methuen Readers


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eBooks Galore!!

With a new look for our Overdrive website in February (same great content, slightly different look), I thought that I’d  give a refresher on all the amazing ways that you can get both eBooks and eAudiobooks. We’ll start with the most well-known eBook and eAudiobook provider.

Overdrive is our biggest provider of eContent. It has both eBooks and eAudiobooks. In addition to bestselling fiction it also has quite a number of Romances, more childrens’ books every day, and even some Comics (including from DC Comics, Woo!!). You can read and listen to them on your computer,  through your browser, or on almost any mobile device with their free Overdrive App (Scroll down to the bottom for all the various platforms you can use Overdrive on!)

 

 

Axis360 is a part of the Commonwealth eBook Collections. It has both Audiobooks and eBooks, mostly bestselling fiction, that can be read and listened to through the Axis360 App (Again, the links are at the bottom!!)

 

 

 

Biblioboard is a part of the Commonwealth eBook Collections as well. It has everything from the For Dummies series to a good portion of the Dark Horse Comics Graphic Novels to many many Primary Sources and Historical Documents. All Available through your browser or their App.

 

 

If you’re looking for items of a more academic bent EBL has many items to help with academic research as well as items that can help with personal interests, from cooking to gardening. (It’s also part of the Commonwealth eBook Collections). Go to EBL

 

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Finally, Safari has almost 5000 technology, digital media, and business books and videos online and ready on-demand in your browser to help you out of that pickle. Go to Safari

Remember all you need to access all these awesome resources is a Nevins Library card and something to read/listen to them on. And, in most cases, that can even be your computer!!

And if you have questions about using any of the above resources (or our other Online Resources) come see us up at the Reference Desk and we’ll try and get you all set up!!


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Reading in a Non-Material World

Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy? These books call into question all that we know and experience, from the things we care about to the very air we breathe. These aren’t tales of parallel universes – instead, they deal with minds trapped in worlds within the world, embedded in realities that are as real as we believe them to be.

Image of itemReady Player One by Ernest Cline

The Earth is a wreck. The cities are miserable places. Being alive in general isn’t a great experience. Luckily, there’s virtual reality! Plug into OASIS, where knowledge of pop culture and classic video games can earn you vast wealth and save you from your bleak life…or put you directly in the cross hairs of ruthless enemies.

 

 

 

 

Image of itemSophie’s World by Jostein Gaardner

Part philosophy primer and part coming-of-age novel, this unique book is not to be missed. Young Sophie tries to catch herself blinking in the mirror, but she’s never fast enough…until one day. As she learns about philosophy from her mysterious tutor, she begins to question the reality of the world she sees.

 

 

 

 

Animal Man by Grant Morrison

To make a long story short, comic book hero Animal Man, who can borrow the abilities of any animal, realizes that his life is an elaborate fiction engineered for maximum drama by an
unscrupulous comic book writer. When he does, he needs to come to terms with his existence. Does he reconcile himself to being fictional? Or does he confront his creator and demand justice for the death of his family?

 

 

 

Image of itemThe Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

In a world where literary authors have the same social status as rock stars, Jane Eyre is a literary enforcer. Her job is routine: stop militant Baconians from bombing performances of Shakespeare plays, detect criminal forgeries of Byronic verse, and things like that. But when someone starts kidnapping literary characters from within the pages of their own books, she’ll need to go deeper into her books than ever before!

 

 

Image of itemSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Any one of a number of cyberpunk novels could qualify for world-within-a-world status, but Snow Crash is one of the most famous. Hiro is a pizza boy and hacker, skilled with swords and code alike. But there’s an ancient, deadly neurolinguistic virus moving through the virtual world, and it threatens to end the fun…permanently. Only Hiro can uncover the plan of the dangerous religious fanatic behind it all.

 


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What’s Your Four?

whats your four

Children who read just four books over the summer fare better on reading-comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books. Because of this, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Nevins Memorial Library are challenging residents to choose 4 books to read over the summer months, and to share their selections on social media through a campaign called “What’s Your Four?”

Summer reading provides free family fun for all of our residents. More importantly, it helps Methuen and surrounding areas’ young students stay ahead academically.

To get us started one of our Amazing Reference Librarians told us a little bit about What Her Four favorite books this summer were:

Dead Wake by Erik Larsen:

An interesting look at the Lusitania and the controversies surrounding the sinking of this great vessel.

 

 

The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics by Stephen Coss – Who knew that the concept of vaccination for small pox started here in Boston by a physician who was almost put out of business and run out-of-town by those in charge who could not believe that something like inoculation could prevent the spread of such a deadly disease. Ben Franklin also makes an appearance and the beginnings of our print media can be traced to this time.

 

Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War by Pamela D. Toler, PhD – this is a companion book to the series Mercy Street which ran on PBS this past spring. It follows the fine women who risked their lives and reputations to deliver compassionate care to soldiers on both sides of the conflict in the Civil War. Many of the scenes of the series are directly taken from some of the lives and diaries of the women in this book.

 

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America by Amy Belding Brown — The book follows the difficult path taken by Mary Rowlandson, a frontier minister’s wife who is captured by early Native American Indians and taken on a journey during which her faith is sorely tested but she also learns a great deal of compassion about this race of people she has been taught to hate.  This is a novelized account of real events from the 1600’s which took place in and around Massachusetts.

 

Have you read 4 great books this summer? (Or 3, 2, or 1?) Share them with us here in the comments. Or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr using the hashtag #WhatsYourFour.

For more information: http://summerlibraryprograms.com/read-four.htm


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Don’t Mys Out on these Pun-tastic Cozies

If you want to read yourself of the blues, just book at a few of these cozies. You’ve never had this much pun in your life! Let’s break down some of these titles, pun by pun.

 

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Curiosity Thrilled the Cat: a Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly

You read that right: magical cats! In this cozy mystery series, a duo of adopted kitties use their arcane powers to help their librarian owner solve crimes. But as a pun, this title doesn’t really do justice to the wackadoodle premise. It doesn’t even reference magic directly, except in the subtitle. What about Spells and In-cat-ations? Or Meow-ricles and Wonders? Or even The Meow-gicians? Luckily, later books in the series include such gems as Cat Trick and Final Catcall, the latter of which is kind of reminiscent of a stage magician-y type thing.

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Long Quiche Goodbye: a Cheese Shop Mystery by Avery Aames

THAT is what I’m talking about! This series features the owner of a cheese shop who is accused of a crime during her grand opening. She sets out to clear her name with the help of a collection of quirky Ohioan townsfolk. Not only does this cozy include recipes, but the recipes all include cheese. God, I love cheese. You probably do too. That’s probably why you’re still reading this part. Anyway, the whole series features fantastic titles. Also sample As Gouda as Dead and To Brie or Not To Brie.

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The Crepes of Wrath: a Pennsylvania Dutch mystery with recipes by Tamar Myers

You’ve gotta love a book whose title is a pun on another book. This is another one where all the clues mysteriously point to the chef herself. After a while, you’ve got to wonder about that. How are all these cozy mystery heroines always finding people murdered in their plum pudding shops or knitting shops or Amish handcrafts shops, and yet always come out of the mess not only squeaky clean, but having cleared their own names? Sounds like some monkey business to me. Other memorable puns in this series: Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth and No Use Dying Over Spilled Milk.

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If You’ve Got It, Haunt It: a Haunted Vintage Mystery by Rose Pressey

A charming village in Sugar Creek, Georgia. A vintage clothing store. And…A MURDER! Here’s the twist: the victim herself rises from the grave to beg the assistance of Cookie Chanel, the owner of the boutique, in exchange for fashion advice from beyond the veil. This is a fairly new series, so there are only a few titles available right now. However, recent publication Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore shows promise for this series’s pun game.

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Geared for the Grave: a Cycle Path Mystery by Duffy Brown

 

When bicyclists start dying, only PUNS CAN SAVE US! Actually, the one who can save us is Evie, friend of local bicycle shop Rudy’s Rides, which has been implicated in the murders. It’s a twist on the traditional cozy: these are bicycles we’re talking about, not knitting needles or pastries. The puns are also way fresh and the series gets a bonus for including an actual pun in its running title. This is another new series, and we’re hopeful that it can defeat its sophomore pun slump: the second and most recent book is called Braking for Bodies. Ech. Honestly, I’d been hoping for Braking Bad.

 

Did we miss one? Tell us in the comments!


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Ve a Leer!

It’s that time of year again: birds are singing, grass is growing, and Cinco de Mayo has arrived to commemorate the unlikely Mexican victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla! And how better to celebrate this victory than to celebrate Mexico in literature? Try these titles for a taste of Mexican culture, setting, and heritage.

 

51Ni1xAdyGLMexico by James Michener

The King of Epics turns his pen to Mexico, covering 1,500 years of history. As a journalist delves into the story of two rival matadors, he discovers the deep dichotomies in Mexican life. From Spanish and Indian descendants to prehistoric and modern religious edifices and even the strain between Mexico and the U.S., this book celebrates the complexities of Mexican society and culture.

 

1182863The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Full of political commentary, this popular book by a bestselling author follows Harrison William Shepard, who moves between the U.S. and Mexico in his support for communism. With cameos by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera!

 

943862The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

Teresita, sixteen and already gifted in the medicinal arts, rises from the dead with the supernatural power to heal. Declared the “Saint of Cabora” despite the Catholic Church declaring her a heretic, she quickly becomes caught up in the Mexican Civil War. Can her powers heal a nation from the wounds of war, genocide, and prejudice?

 

1573983The House of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake

When a wedding party is kidnapped in Mexico City, El Galâan, the perpetrator, demands a ransom of $5 million U.S. dollars, to be paid within 24 hours. But whether or not the gangster gets his cash, the wealthy family knows that the hostages will probably not survive. Enter Rudy and Frank: fixers with experience in crime on the U.S./Mexico border. This author’s work has been called “border noir!”

 


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They came…from the Future!

Incredible but true! Well, not quite yet. But while you’re just hanging out and waiting for the future to happen, why not take a look at the literature and see what we’re in for?

 

 Dystopias

The hallmark feature of a dystopia is that the society in question is actually a messed-up utopia. Often, enough people who exist within that system live well enough that they don’t care to challenge the underlying issues, which may or may not involve teenagers fighting to the death on live television. We’re all familiar with The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, and other popular YA dystopias. But for the serious fan of messed-up future societies, the genre has much more to offer.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodImage of item

A classic, this story chronicles a world that has gone through a crisis in population implosion. The result: a society where fertile “handmaids” are used to provide chosen families with healthy children.

 

Image of itemHouse of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Matteo Alacrán is a lucky boy: he has wealth, comfort, and everything a child could want. Except, of course, that he is also the clone of a powerful drug lord, and his sole purpose in life is to donate all of his vital organs to the 143-year-old criminal.

 

 

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuinImage of item

An anarchist planet. A doubter. LeGuin will make you believe that time can encompass philosophy and ethics, that an anarchist society can still survive by unyielding and unspoken laws, and that one person’s ideas can change humanity.

 

Science Fiction

Statistical probability dictates the creation of new interstellar civilizations. People meet and successfully fight giant space bugs. Well-mannered aliens contact us for theological debates. Hitchhikers endure. A lot of science fiction is about the future. In fact, you could even say that all of it is about the future. Here are some of the best examples of the genre.

 

Image of itemThe Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Welcome to the Future! We hope you’ve wound up your motorcycle and gotten the latest vaccine for this year’s viral mutations. Remember, respect the androids, even if everyone else seems to be kicking them around. They might just be the future of intelligent life on Earth.

 

The Forever War by Joe HaldemanImage of item

Lightspeed travel has some odd time dilation effects, and nowhere is this clearer than in interstellar warfare. When the brave soldiers of Earth return home, will they recognize the people they are fighting for?

 

Image of itemDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Sci-Fi fans may know this story in its cinematic guise as Blade Runner. In a world where android replicants are virtually identical to humans, Deckard’s job is to suss out the fake from the genuine. As he begins to doubt his own humanity, the definition of “real” becomes dangerously fragile.

 

Apocalypses

The party’s got to end sooner or later, and as you might expect, it’s sort of a drag when the lights go out. Apocalypse books have captured our imaginations since well before When Worlds Collide, Day of the Triffids and Alas, Babylon. (Try Noah and the flood.) But these days, total destruction is often high literature. And, of course, it’s more fun than ever!

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelImage of item

All the world’s a stage, and since the Georgia Flu wiped out most people, it’s a darn empty one. As a troupe of actors travels the Great Lakes, they discover that art can save – or destroy – the survivors.

Image of itemWool by Hugh Howey

A toxic atmosphere forces all surviving humans to live in the underground Silo, but not everyone believes that the air up there really is bad. When the sheriff’s wife goes above ground, he’s faced with a choice: follow her and risk death, or remain underground and never know the truth.

 

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.Image of item

After a nuclear apocalypse, an order of Roman Catholic monks struggles to preserve the knowledge of the modern world. But will humanity repeat its mistakes anyway?

 

Zombie Takeovers

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What would the future be without zombies? I, for one, don’t care to find out! From World War Z and The Walking Dead to philosophical literature like Raising Stony Mayhall, everyone loves those shambling, moaning, unkillable flesh eaters. Here, have a few more!

 

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Feed
by Mira Grant

Political machinations don’t die with the human species. As zombies attack a Presidential candidate, bloggers uncover the terrifying truth: that someone is using the undead as weapons on the campaign trail.

 

The Girl with All The Gifts by M. R. CareyImage of item

What happens when zombies are smart? What about when the smart zombies are children? The tension between humans and zombies, teachers and students, and researchers and subjects blooms in this critically acclaimed book.

 

Image of itemBreathers by S. G. Browne

After Andy dies in a car wreck, he discovers that life’s not easy for zombies. In fact, it’s downright hard to get a job, meet people, and have a decent conversation without someone screaming and trying to decapitate you. Enter the fight for zombie civil equality!


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Not Your Mom’s Christmas Tale

Happy merry bells of Yuletide, everybody! String your lights and play some Bing Crosby, because it is once again the coziest and most wholesome time of the year.

If you’re not sure how you’re going to survive, then this post is for you. These are tales of Christmas awkward and Christmas a little close to home, Christmas haywire and Christmas out of control. If you’re just about done with carols and fir trees, try one of these strange and refreshingly wicked reads.

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The Hogfather by Terry PratchettImage of item

Ya gotta believe…or life as Discworld knows it will end. When a shadowy assassin’s guild hires an expert to kill the Santa-like Hogfather, Death must take over the portly gift-giver’s role for a night. A hilarious and rollicking ride through Pratchett’s Discworld universe, with appearances by the Unseen University, Death’s granddaughter Susan, and, of course, the ever-popular Death. No familiarity with the series is necessary to enjoy this installment, but afterward, you might find yourself wanting to read the rest, too. This rollicking fantasy has also been adapted for the screen.

 

 

 

 

Image of itemThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Herdmans are the worst. Hands-down, no question, point-blank the worst kids ever. They swear. They hit other kids. They only come to church because they hear that there are snacks. However, once there, they decide to invade the annual Nativity pageant and play all of the main characters, and who’s going to say “no” to the Herdmans? As the barbaric group runs amok over Christmas, the congregation begins to expect a disastrous play. But be not afraid! When all is said and done, everyone might learn something about the Christmas spirit from the Herdmans. Though nominally for children, this book is a hilarious winner for all age groups, and a quick read for busy adults.

 

 

 

 

The Stupidest Angel: a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror by Christopher MooreImage of item

Little Joshua saw someone killing Santa Claus – or, at least, someone dressed up as Santa Claus – and now he has just one Christmas wish: please let Santa not be dead. Unfortunately for everyone, the Archangel Raziel, the Lord’s stupidest servant, has descended to Earth to grant the sincere Christmas wish of an innocent child. Chaos erupts as Raziel, whose good nature is somewhat impeded by a tendency to take things literally, grants the child’s wish. Uproarious and twisted. We highlighted this story in a previous post, but it bears mentioning twice because it’s just that funny.

 

 

 

Image of itemHolidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Once you’ve been a Christmas elf, the holidays just aren’t the same. This collection features Sedaris’ popular early essay, “The Santaland Diaries,” which has been featured on NPR several times. Dark and satirical, and with quite a bit of wry social commentary thrown in, these aren’t exactly “The Night Before Christmas.” However, many hit home. They’re also ideal for family gatherings thanks to their brevity. Read them aloud for the adults after the kids have turned in to wait for Santa.

 

 

 

 

The Haunted Tea-Cosy: a dispirited and distasteful diversion for Image of itemChristmas by Edward Gorey

On Christmas Eve, a spectre interrupts Edmund Gravel’s Christmas fruitcake. It is the Spectre of Christmas that Never Was, and is followed by that Spectres of Christmases that Aren’t and Never Will Be. Join him as he is whisked away on a journey strangely reminiscent of that of a certain Ebeneezer Scrooge, but with more wit and irreverence. Thrill as he witnesses Affecting Scenes, Distressing Scenes, and Heart-Rending Scenes. Anyone who has ever rolled their eyes at an overdone production of A Christmas Carol will appreciate this tongue in cheek, highly visual adaptation.

 

 

Image of itemKrampus: the Yule Lord by Brom

“Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head.”

 

 

 

 

I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus by S.G. Brown15801662e

There’s no good way to say it: Andy is disguised as Santa Claus and hiding from medical researchers. This is because he is a member of the living dead demographic, whose struggle for civil rights is going less than brilliantly. But when he meets a sad nine-year-old girl who really thinks he’s Santa Claus, he gets into the act! Meanwhile, an underground undead resistance needs Andy’s help to continue the cause. Can Andy achieve zombie equality and rescue Christmas? Let’s hope so! (Available in the Commonwealth Catalog – just search for “zombies eating Santa Claus”)

 

 

 

 

Image of itemWhen Elves Attack: a joyous Christmas greeting from the criminal nutbars of the Sunshine State by Tim Dorsey

Fans of Dexter will likely enjoy the psychopathic Serge A. Storms as he gets into the holiday spirit. Whether racking up a body count or spreading Christmas cheer in his own inimitable way, Serge endangers the public good even as he entertains readers. This is part of a series by the quirky, gonzo-style Tim Dorsey, but don’t worry if you haven’t read the rest. It’s a good New Year’s resolution, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet EvanovichImage of item

Who is the mysterious man who appears in Stephanie Plum’s kitchen? And why is he also looking for Santa Claus? It’ll take half of Trenton, NJ to solve the caper! Evanovich has a massive fan contingent and many of our readers may already be familiar with her. The zany life of her star Fugitive Apprehension Agent (read bounty hunter) takes on a supernatural twist in this fun holiday installation.