Book Report: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore Book Report

Recently, I finished reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and wanted to share my thoughts with you. I picked up this book and the first snowy day of winter when I didn’t want to go anywhere. I saw it running around the internet in different places and when it was available I decided it was meant to be. Sometimes my favorite way to pick books is on a whim.

The book is a really fun read. I loved how the book was written mostly from narration with a little bit of conversation mixed in for context. The other part of the book that I really liked was the inclusion of Role Playing Games (RPG). I’m a big fan of all kinds of games and I loved how the author included it in the context of the story. Without giving away any spoilers the main character Clay and another named Neil bonded as children over a science fiction story and then played an RPG together, and they refer to their game nicknames throughout the story.

The other big part of the book has to do with codes and coding. Which may sound really intimidating but the author, Robin Slone, makes it really approachable. You should check it out!

I really liked the style of writing in this book, where the majority of the text is the main character narrating in his head the events taking place. This is also the same way my favorite book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, was written. All the events of the book were experienced when the narrator was thinking them over in her mind.

If you are interested in coding you should check out these resources to get started!

Library Resources


Head first HTML with CSS & XHTML

Game Programming for Teens
Game programming for teens

Online Resources

Ruby for Newbies
The Best Way to Learn Ruby on Rails
The Coolest Ruby Projects Ever

These are just a few of the many resources available.  A quick Google search for your area of interest will yield a lot of results.

Need Valentine’s Inspiration?

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday! I’m so excited that we have a whole day to celebrate Valentine’s day, and that we aren’t limited to just an after work dinner. If you need some ideas on activities for the day, I’ve got you covered.

Make some Valentine’s Day Crafts

Valentines Crafts

Valentine’s Day crafts

Read a Valentine’s Day Book

Nate The Great and the Mushy Valentine

Nate the Great and the mushy valentine

Check out a Romantic Movie


27 Dresses

Cook up something special

Al Roker's Hassle Free Holiday Cookbook

Al Roker’s hassle-free holiday cookbook : more than 125 recipes for family celebrations all year long


New Book Reads

I have a great job.  All new incoming books come to my desk to be processed.  I am the first one to browse through new fiction, biographies or non-fiction books.  I love it!!  I can decide what my next book is every day.  Of course, that can be a problem too….finding the time to read them!  If I’m in the mood for a good crime drama, I might try Scandalous Behavior by Stuart Woods. Sometimes, if I just want to read about someone else, I might choose the new biography by Gloria Steinem My Life on the Road.  So many choices, so little time.  Oh my!

9780399174681                            My Life on the Road

Would I Be Able To Survive?

One of the most popular types of stories for elementary age kids have always been survival stories. I think it may be because, as the reader, we are not only learning how to survive dangerous situations, but we also get the chance to consider if we could make it. There are a couple authors whose books really fall into the “Classic Survival Story” category. My number one go-to author for this type of literature is always Gary Paulsen. His Hatchet series has been fascinating kids for many years. Although most kids just ask for the Hatchet books, the true series name is Brian’s Saga. After reading Hatchet, you can continue with The River, Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Return, and Brian’s Hunt. Then, I would suggest reading Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books. Paulsen’s The Voyage of the Frog is also a great survival story that’s a stand-alone novel.

hatchet   frog

Another classic writer of survival tales is Theodore Taylor. Give The Cay and Ice Drift a try!

cay  ice drift

Roland Smith is a fantastic author who writes all kinds of adventure stories. I would recommend any of his books to kids who like action!

storm runners  stormrunners  surge

Jeff Probst also has a great survival trilogy.

stranded  trial  survivors

One of our most popular series is “I Survived” which combines survival with historical fiction. We have ten books from this series, all by Lauren Tarshis.

isurvived  fire

I love reading this kind of book, so be sure to ask if you need any more suggestions.

Tech Tip Tuesday #5


Hello again! This week I want to talk with you about productivity keyboard shortcuts. Taking the time to use your mouse to navigate can be slow and sometimes clunky, I use keyboard shortcuts all the time to help speed up my workflow.

  1. Saving a File – I use this one all the time. If you are working on a document and something happens where you lose power or your program crashes and all your work is gone, it is the worst feeling. It might seem a little obsessive but every few minutes when I’m working I hit the keyboard shortcut for saving my file and hardly miss a beat because I’ve not taken my fingers from the keyboard.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + S
    2. Mac you hit Command + S
  2. Select All – This one is really great if you need to select all the content you are working on, I use this when I need to either copy and paste a large block of content or when I need to delete it all and start over. This is much quicker than using a mouse to click and drag.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + A
    2. Mac you hit Command + A
  3. Cycle Through Windows – This one is so important for quickly getting to different programs on your computer. This way I don’t have to hunt for the window I’m looking for I just cycle through all of them.
    1.  PC you hit Windows + TAB
    2. Mac you hit Command + TAB
  4. Cycle Through Browser Tabs – I’m working on learning this one right now, being able to quickly get to different browsers when you are referencing additional information is such a productivity booster.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + Left/Right Arrow
    2. Mac you hit Ctr + TAB
  5. Reopen Closed Browser Tabs – I accidentally close browser tabs all the time and this shortcut is a quick and easy way to get it reopened. You don’t even have to remember what it was, it just works.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + Shift + T
    2. Mac you hit Command + Shift + T

I hope these help you boost your productivity while working on your computers. The certainly have for me.

Songs From the Soul


Virginia Rep on Tour (formerly Theatre IV) will be back in Aurora with a public performance on Thursday, February 18th at 1 PM. The show will be in the Aurora City Park Pavilion and is free to everyone in the community. “Songs From the Soul”, a musical narrative of African-American History will be a perfect way to celebrate and learn during Black History Month. The Aurora Public Library District has never hosted this show before, but we’re very excited to hear music ranging from spirituals to jazz to the blues, and even hip hop!

When you leave the performance with your toe tapping and your fingers snapping, head down to the library to check out our resources on types of music and on African-American musicians. Carnegie Hall also has a terrific web page called “A History of African-American Music”. You can listen to samples of music from all the different styles of the past 300 years. Here are some of the resources we have at the library:

The History of the Blues : the roots, the music, the people : from Charley Patton to Robert Clay, written by Francis Davis. This is a companion volume to the PBS series.

Jazz Makers by Alyn Shipton

jazz makers

Moving to Higher Ground: how jazz can change your life by Wynton Marsalis

higher ground

Blues Journey by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers.

blues journey

Some of our local school classes will get a chance to attend one of the Theatre IV performances, so here are some resources that may be better for younger children:

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald, by Roxane Orgill


Jazz by Walter Dean Myers


Mahalia Jackson: gospel singer and civil rights champion by Montrew Dunham


And last, but not least: When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the creation of hip hop by Laban Carrick Hill

the beat



Between The Lines

Do you like to read?  Do you like to discuss what you have read?  Between The Lines is for you!  Between The Lines is a relaxed gathering of our readers who enjoy sharing comments and questions about a common book they have read.  Our February selection is Circling The Sun by Paula McLain.  The group will meet on Thursday, February 25th, at 1:00 PM at The Aurora Public Library and Friday, February 26th at 1:00 PM at The Dillsboro Public Library.  Stop by either library today to pick up your copy of the book, read at your leisure and come share your comments with us.


A Walk in the Woods

Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, was made into a movie this past year.

a walk in the woods movie

A walk in the woods dvd

The movie, which you can borrow from the library as well as the book, is based off of author Bill Bryson’s actual life events of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Robert Redford portrays the author in this humorous movie.

I’ve actually read the book and watched the movie and they were both laugh out loud funny. He enlists his friend Katz, played by Nick Nolte, to be his companion on the trail. Having no prior backpacking experience and not knowing what they were getting into is what made this movie completely relate-able to me.

My husband and I went backpacking a few years ago in the Smokey Mountains, we were very unprepared and with high expectations. Although it was interesting, it was very, very hard work. We had only gone for 4 days and 3 nights instead of the several months on the trail as Bill and Katz did in the story. Because of my trip, some of the things they went through and experienced…I knew exactly what they were thinking and feeling. It’s one thing to talk about backpacking…but it’s quite another to actually go through with it.

My husband and I were very close to the Appalachian Trail, also known as the AT, and had originally put it on our hiking agenda. But by our 3rd day, when it was time to go to the AT, we decided that we had maybe been a tad enthusiastic when we had made our agenda and stuck to a closer proximity. Hiking a trail to your next campsite that was only 7 miles away, seemed like it would be an easy feat…however, road miles and up-hill-all-the-way-on-a-mountain miles are quite different.

It was an eye-opening experience and also a great feeling of accomplishment. It was cold, snowy and not at all what I had expected but so worth it at the same time. We went to celebrate with a night in Gatlinburg when we had finished our 20-mile hike. I’m sure the locals had us pegged as hikers since we were walking bent over with a been-on-the-trail-awhile stagger. I feel lucky to have had the experience and my husband and I made a great team, which is very important to have.


A Walk in the Woods book

If you want a taste of the backpacking experience without actually stepping foot on the trail or if you want maybe a little motivation, read this book or watch the movie, it will definitely be worth your time.

As Easy as ABC

One of the most exciting times in a child’s development is when a child is first beginning to read.

Pete the Cat's Train Trip    Sam Goes to School

There are many steps a child passes through before actually being able to read a book: learning that the secret to a story is contained in a series of small black scribbles on a page, learning that the scribbles are placed together to represent words, learning that each letter has a sound or sounds that it represents. When the child is able to crack the code and sound out letters, and then put the sounds together to read words: WOW! It just makes you feel like dancing, because you know that reading is really the key to knowledge and to a lifetime of enjoyment.

You may not realize that we have a separate section of “Beginning Reader” books. They are located in the corner outside the children’s room at the Aurora Library and at the end of the picture book shelves at the Dillsboro Library. These books are also marked on the spine with a blue or pink ABC sticker.

This area of the library actually has two kinds of books. First, we have phonics books that emphasize the sound made by a particular letter, usually written in the form of a simple story. Here are some examples of this type.

Four Fish   Holly and Hank

This area also has storybooks that are designed for the early reader by limiting both the number of words on each page and the difficulty of the words. Ideally, all the words in these books will be relatively simple for kids to sound out.

Bubble-Gum Radar   Dancing Dinos

Be patient and encouraging as your kids struggle to sound out words. It’s hard work! That’s why there is so little text on the pages. The illustrations can also help decode the words and place the words in context. It’s often helpful to let your child reread the entire sentence; the first time through may take all their concentration and they might miss the overall meaning. You might want to take turns, each reading a page at a time.

Tech Tip Tuesday #4


Hello once more everyone. This week I have something for you I think you’ll find useful.

If you’re a smart phone user, Android or iPhone I suggest taking a look at the following applications. These are apps I’ve used for some time and provide lots of usefulness.

  1. Pandora, (Android & iOS) free internet radio. Make a station based on an artist of a type of music and it will provide similar content for you to listen to.
  2. Wunderlist,  a list management application. There are many list application out there but this is one of the best.
  3. iExit, (Android & iOS) a must have for travelers. Looking for a Starbucks or something else while road-tripping? This will allow you to see what is at the exit ahead of you.
  4. Cash, (Android & iOS) this is hands down the easiest way to digitally send money to your friends.
  5. Duolingo, (Android & iOS) if you feel like learning another language start here. It’s enjoyable and easy to get going.
  6. Dropbox, if you’re not already using Dropbox, you should be. It offers a great solution to put your files in the cloud. Do you have family pictures or important documents you can’t afford to lose? Of course, we all do. If you want to store it yourself buy a Drobo, otherwise sign up for a free Dropbox account.

Good luck app hunting and I hope you find these apps as useful as I did!