Book Review: Allegiant by Roth (4 Stars)

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

4 out of 5 stars

Read in December 2013


The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

My Thoughts:

Roth redeemed herself, at least in my mind, with Allegiant.  While not perfect, I felt more at home with the direction the plot took than what happened in the middle weak-link book Insurgient (which I didn’t bother to review because it disappointed me so much).  For my review of Divergent, follow this link.

Continue reading “Book Review: Allegiant by Roth (4 Stars)”

Product/Service Review: OverDrive Media Console Nook App (Released 9/27/2012)

I can probably retire the post I wrote several months ago.  The one that included a flowchart of how to transfer a library ebook from your computer to your Nook.  I received so many calls from fellow Nook owners about how to do this process, that I felt compelled to break it down into bite-size easily digested pieces, with pictures to aid memory retention, and post it here at my blog.  Thankfully, Barnes & Noble released, this morning, the long overdue OverDrive app, making that flowchart, at least the library lending portion of it, obsolete.   Being a fool who rushes in where app angels fear to tread, I downloaded it to my Nook over lunch.

From the OverDrive main menu, I tapped the App Settings icon, where  I activated my Nook device via my existing Adobe Digital Editions account.  I reviewed but did not change any of the other settings.  I returned to the Bookshelf home page, and tapped the Get Books icon from the main menu.  At the bottom of the screen on this page, there is a large ‘Add a Library’ button, which I pressed.  I typed in the name of the Kansas City Public Library and pressed the Search button.  I added my favourite local (literally in the same building) library from the search results. I made sure to star it and save it for future use.

When I clicked on the link to the KC Public Library, I was taken to the Nook’s web browser and the mobile website for the library’s OverDrive system.  I entered my library card and pin number, telling the Nook to remember that information for future visits.  I clicked on the My Wish List link under the Your Account tab and checked out an ebook I had waiting there (Cat’s Cradle in this instance).  I selected the ePub version and pressed the Download button.  Success!  No USB cable necessary.  All done in seconds, wirelessly.

The OverDrive reader software is different from the Nook Color’s primary reading application, and it seems a bit slower.  I will need to review the pop-up quick reference guide more closely to see if I’m missing any gestures or configuration settings to tweak performance.

B&N also released a similar app from 3M, which I also downloaded and installed to my Nook. However, my other local library does not use that service, so I may archive that app.

Sixteen or seventeen months after I received my Nook Color, one hurdle to simpler ebook lending achieved.  Now, if publishers and libraries could just reach a compromise in their disagreement.  Have you read the recently published open letter from the ALA and the response by the Big Six (through the AAP)?  The digital divide is widening daily.

Quick Reference Guide for Nook Color eBook Management

I am composing this quick reference guide (or workflow or flowchart) for persons who shall remain anonymous.  I plan to refer them to this page (encouraging them to bookmark it in their browser) the next time I receive yet another request for how to get an ebook transferred to their Nook.

This guide assumes you own the Nook Color.

Nook Color eBook Management Flowchart

Where did you purchase the ebook?

How to Get eBooks to Your Nook Color

1. Barnes & Noble Nook Books:  It is not necessary to click the Download button after you purchase a Nook Book.  This is tempting, especially if you are sitting at your computer, browsing through the Barnes & Noble website and not actually shopping via your Nook Color (using a wifi connection).

(a)                Press the n button on your Nook Color and select the Library item.

(b)               Press the Sync button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen (which looks like two arrows chasing each other in a circular pattern).

(c)                Any new books you have purchased will appear after the sync completes.

2. Non-Barnes & Noble eBooks: Anything you purchase from a non-B&N retailer, even if the price is ‘free’, will most likely be ‘protected’ by DRM (digital rights management), which actively prevents you from copying the downloaded ebook file from your computer to your Nook Color.  If you are lucky enough to find an ebook without DRM protection, please skip down to the last step below.  Otherwise, the only approved method for transferring ebooks you legitimately purchased involves using yet another piece of software called Adobe Digital Editions. This transfer process may vary depending on the vender and assumes you have downloaded, installed and activated both your copy of Adobe Digital Editions and your device (Nook Color) in that software.

(a)                Download the ebook from where you bought it and make note of the file name (in case you have trouble remembering where your computer downloads file to – usually the Downloads folder).  Windows may automatically associated the downloading file with Adobe Digital Editions, which is a good thing.  Let it launch ADE after it downloads the file if need be.

(b)               Connect the Nook Color USB cable to your computer, then connect it to your Nook Color.

(c)                ADE should now display your Nook Color device as available in the left-hand navigation pane.

(i)                 To add the ebook you just purchased/downloaded, select Add Library Item (or press Ctrl+O to open) from the Library menu in ADE.

(ii)               Navigate to the folder where you downloaded the file (in a Windows 7 environment, you may already have a favorites item called ‘Downloads’ available).

(iii)             Select the ebook and click the Open button.  ADE should now display the cover of the ebook as a thumbnail in the left-hand area.  Or, if your view is currently set to the List option, then new ebook will be listed by Title, Author, etc.

(iv)             Click the thumbnail of the new ebook cover and drag it to your Nook Color device (listed in the left-hand navigation pane of ADE).

(d)               Close ADE and safely disconnect your Nook Color from your computer.

(e)                Back on your Nook Color, there are two ways to find the ebook you just transferred from your computer:

(i)                 Using the Library application:

(1)               Open your Library and switch to the My Stuff area (last tab/button along the top).

(2)               Drill down to the Digital Editions folder and click on the ebook file name you just transferred from your computer to the Nook Color.

(ii)               Using Search

(1)               Type the file name or title of the new ebook.

(2)               Select the ebook from the search results.

3. Library eBook Lending:  Most libraries also use Adobe Digital Editions to managed the ebooks you borrow.  Your library may already provide you with instructions and a tutorial.  I know mine did:

(a)                Kansas City Public Library instructions for Checking Out eBooks to a Nook, Kobo or other non-Amazon eReader.

(b)               Kansas City Public Library video tutorial on Downloading eBooks for the Nook and other non-Amazon eReaders.

(c)                You can use the same process described above to find the file on your Nook Color (either through the Library application or by Searching for the file name or title of the ebook).

4. Public Domain eBooks (DRM-Free):  Those ebooks downloaded from Project Gutenberg or the public domain section of Feedbooks, should be DRM free and thus will not require the use of Adobe Digital Editions to copy the ebook file to your Nook Color.

(a)                Download the ebook and note the file name and folder location.

(b)               Connect your Nook Color to your computer.

(c)                When prompted (an Autoplay dialog box should pop up), click the ‘Open folder to view files’ option.

(d)               Drill down to the My Files folder on your Nook Color and open the Books subfolder.

(e)                In a separate Windows Explorer window, find the ebook file and Copy it (Ctrl+C).

(f)                Return to the Nook Color window that should be open to the Books subfolder of the My Files folder and Paste (Ctrl+V).

(g)               Close all Windows Explorer windows and safely disconnect your Nook Color from your computer.

(h)               You can use the same process described above to find the file on your Nook Color (either through the Library application or by Searching for the file name or title of the ebook).

To manage all your DRM-free ebooks, I would suggest using Calibre, an open source software package.  I give you fair warning, however, that Calibre is not as easy to use as it could be, but I have hopes that the user interface will improve with each update.  I only recommend Calibre to people who are not technology challenged.

An Evening at the Family Tech Support Opera

The names have been changed to protect the innocent, except in the case of my daughter, who has an understanding and equally sarcastic nature comparable to my own. And I’m just as guilty as those family members I poke fun at below in seeking their expertise with respect to technology of a different flavor.  The generation that preceded me has years of hands-on experience applicable to the infrastructure we depend on everyday (electricity, plumbing, mechanical know-how, etc.), while I’ve spent years storing up knowledge of a less concrete kind (aka information technology).   Frequently, I reinforce to all family members when they come calling that “I don’t do hardware” so as long as we keep things soft, I’m all ears and ready to help.

One night this past week, after a dinner, my husband and I decided to watch The American, a movie starring George Clooney, something we’d recorded to DVR several weeks ago and just hadn’t gotten around to watching.  Thirty minutes into the movie (with more dead bodies than dialog), I received a text message alerting me to an e-mail from a family member (while we can both claim to be of the Baby Boomer generation, he was in the vanguard, while I squeaked in the rearguard), who had just purchased a Nook Color, detailing some of his frustrations with the accessories.  I grabbed my own Nook Color and logged into my Yahoo mail account to retrieve the entire message (too slow via my dumb phone).   Since I had recommended the Nook Color, and the anti-glare scratch protector accessory in question, I felt chagrined by his difficulty in wasting two of the expensive covers in two attempts to align and adhere to the Nook Color’s screen (without bubbles or dust or grit getting between the protecting plastic and the glass screen).

Since the movie bored me to tears, I grabbed my phone and headed upstairs to my library (formerly my daughter’s ‘green’ bedroom).  I called my frustrated family member and caught him mowing his lawn.  I volunteered to send him my spare anti-glare screen protector (I applied mine correctly the first time which is a miracle … see ‘I don’t do hardware’ above), but he declined.  We spoke briefly about his buying experience and lack of wifi at his home.  He returned to his mowing and I called B&N customer service to learn more about how (and if) ebooks purchased from B&N Online could be synced to the Nook Color in the absence of wifi, using only the mini-USB cable and his wired home computer.

Rather than return to the movie, I finished reading Leviathan Wakes, the scifi space opera selection for September at the GoodReads SciFi & Fantasy Book Club.  I called the family member back, ready for a long call on how to download ebooks and transfer them to the Nook Color from your computer.  He had already attempted to use Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), which is required for checking out ebooks from most libraries (see this excellent “how to” article created by the Kansas City Public Library for more information).   ADE correctly recognized his Nook Color, but no matter what we did, we couldn’t drag an ebook to his device.  I gave up on that and promised more research (which I did the next day, turning off wifi on my Nook Color and successfully dragging newly downloaded ebooks to it from ADE).

Next I helped him download public domain ebooks from Project Gutenberg and Feedbooks, going step-by-step (and ‘blind’ in my case, doing it all from my memory) from where the file was downloaded on his computer, to finding the correct folder on the Nook Color’s virtual drive (the J: drive in his case), even renaming some of the epub files to make them easier to find on the Nook and wrapping up the process with the ‘safely remove hardware’ feature of Windows Vista (another ‘amazing’ feat of tech support, since I’ve rarely ever used Windows Vista and relied on the theory that Microsoft programmers were inherently lazy and didn’t change the dialog boxes much between Windows XP and Windows Vista).  Shockingly (well, not to me anyway), he had never used the Safely Remove Hardware feature before.

In the midst of this long phone call requiring intense concentration on my part, I heard my phone blip at me several times.  I assumed I received some text messages or other e-mail alerts.  Imagine my surprise when my husband opens the door to my library holding his phone out to me telling me it’s our daughter.  Wondering why she couldn’t just talk to her dad while I was otherwise occupied with my own phone, and worried something horrific had occurred (stupid, I know, but I’m a mother), I put the other family member on temporary hold and took my husband’s phone to my other ear.  The first words out of my daughter’s mouth were:  “The text in this table keeps bleeding past the table boundaries …” Can you see my eyes rolling up into the top of my head?

Once my brain rebooted from the overload, I told my daughter I’d call her back in about thirty minutes and also told her to e-mail me the document she couldn’t format correctly.  Returning to my other phone call, I reviewed the process two more times with him, watching (well really listening to his astronaut-esque recitation of what he was doing in the absence of a video feed) perform the download/transfer process successfully twice.  I gave him a couple of tips for re-arranging and removing items on the Nook Color home screen and called it a night.

I returned back downstairs, to wake up my laptop so I could fire-up Word in anticipation of rescuing my daughter’s document.  I checked my Yahoo e-mail account but had not received anything from her.  I called her and she thought she had sent me the e-mail with the document attached, but had forgotten to click the send button.  My eyes rolled up into the top of my head again and came back down when I finally received the e-mail.  With her still on the phone talking to me (I put it on speaker phone so her dad and I could both listen and talk to her while I typed), I deleted a couple of misused drop caps and inserted some hard paragraph marks in the overloaded table cell, saved the file and returned it to Rachelle.  She’d already left her computer but returned and didn’t like where I’d put the hard paragraph marks so I let her in on the secret (which works whether you use MS Word or OpenOffice like she does):  To insert a hard paragraph mark, hold down the Shift key and then press the Enter key.   Terry and I said goodnight to Rachelle and I went to bed to dream of something other than ones and zeroes, bits, bytes or anything remotely related to information technology.

For those looking for free or cheap ebooks to purchase and download to your Nook, here’s a handy list of my favorite frequently used sites:

A Floss Runs Through Maggie

I arrived early to the third of four lectures and discussions of Victorian literature hosted and promoted by the Kansas City Public LibraryKaite Mediatore Stover, the Readers’ Services Manager for the Library, was helping to setup the conference room for the lecture.  I took the opportunity to discuss with her the recent news articles about a possible change in the Library’s policy with respect to online card applications for patrons outside the Kansas City metro area.  The Library does not charge a fee to anyone who applies for a card and this has caused an unusually high volume of applications from the St. Louis area (where the local library system does charge for access to it’s system if a person lives outside it’s taxbase).  The result has been a flood of online checkouts of ebooks from the Library’s Overdrive site, leaving some local patrons with no recourse but the waiting list for popular ebooks.  I apologized for my earlier misunderstanding concerning the Kansas City earnings tax (a one percent income tax paid by anyone who works in Kansas City, Missouri, regardless of where you live – like me, who lives in Lansing, Kansas, yet works in KCMO).  I assumed, wrongly, that the earnings tax collected out of my paycheck trickled down to the Library and offset my access to the Library’s resources and programs.  The Director set me straight and reminded me that all libraries, including the wonderful Kansas City Public Library, accept donations and in fact, receive between five and ten percents of their  total budget through charitable giving.  Properly chastised, I went searching for information to help support the Library and found the Library Foundation web page, where I can donate conveniently online.

Table of Contents

Biographical Background (p. 2)
Setting and Literary Background(p. 3)
Discussion Questions (p. 4)

I didn’t get a chance to ask Kaite about her thoughts on the Librarian Boycott of HarperCollins, because our lecturer arrived, as well as Melissa Carle, the Weekend supervisor at the Plaza branch, and other readers began to join us in the conference room overlooking Brookside and Brush Creek.  This unique reading program, A Taste of Victorian Literature, was first offered at the Waldo branch last summer, but returned this Spring to the Plaza branch, albeit in reverse order.   So, I’ve finally caught up with the program, since I read D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow in July and attended the inaugural lecture, presentation, discussion led by Andrea Broomfield, associate professor of English at Johnson County Community College, and which included authentic Victorian era refreshments.  But that was then, and this is now, so I spent most of April reading George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, taking my time to absorb and appreciate the nuances and subtleties of her third novel.

Update on Librarian Boycott of HC

Publishers Weekly Soapbox tweeted an update this morning on the Librarian Boycott of HarperCollins, which I blogged about last week in a couple of posts.

Some highlights from the article include:

Libraries are one of the last true commons in modern life, celebrating and championing the right to read and freedom of access to information. Stewardship of the written record is integral to our mission. Libraries don’t have a financial stake in the publishing business so much as society has a cultural stake in the future of libraries.

Currently, librarians rely on the First Sale doctrine—which makes it legal to circulate materials we purchase and manage—along with our trustworthiness. We enforce copyright laws as much as we can, teaching our patrons about fair use and piracy.

Another troubling aspect of the HarperCollins message is the attempt to prevent resource sharing, which is a core value for librarians.

Beyond Planned Obsolescence

Brief blog followup to yesterday’s post about publisher HarperCollins decision to force public libraries to re-license ebooks after just 26 checkouts.   A fellow GoodReader posted a link to this open letter from the Pioneer Library System of Norman, Oklahoma to HarperCollins in our discussion topic ‘Ashes of eBooks for Libraries‘ .

Excerpts from the open letter:

Because the publisher assumes digital resources never deteriorate, they have set an arbitrary limit to the number of times an electronic resource can be accessed. Not planned obsolescence. Forced obsolescence. (emphasis added)

Despite statements to the New York Times that  HarperCollins hopes this move will, “ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come,” it may, in fact, do just the opposite(emphasis added)

If you would like to contact HarperCollins directly they have set up an email address at

Another link posted by a different GoodReader offered some background as to why the publishing industry executives are reacting so poorly to change:  Twelve Common Misconceptions about Book Publishing.

And what’s the next step beyond forced obsolescence at public libraries?  How many times will you be allowed to read your ebook before it is removed or held hostage on your virtual bookshelf until you negotiate a ransom by re-buying the content?

21st Century Book Burning aka Control of Knowledge by Conglomerates

A dark day … Tuesday, March 8th … Mardi Gras … the day before Lent begins … Ash Wednesday … the ashes of our electronic books on the shelves of our libraries.  Just a few of my grim thoughts after reading this article tweeted by Publishers Weekly this morning:

Librarian’s Launch Boycott in Battle Over eBooks

He died and made HarperCollins the “god” who decided how many times I can checkout a library ebook?  Without my local library, and the interlibrary loan system, I would never have read some classic publications, long out of print.  As a young adult and later as a harried young parent, my local library saved my sanity by providing endless diversions.  Now, decades later, and more secure financially, I happily support my favorite authors by purchasing the expensive first edition hardcovers. I buy books as gifts for friends and family.  Those same authors came to be loved by me through … my local library.

Lending An eBook Needs K.I.S.S.

Friends, Romans, Librarians: Lend Me Your E-book (Part 1).

Friends, Romans, Librarians: Lend Me Your E-books (Part 2).

I especially like the idea behind the Open Book Alliance.  And I completely agree that OverDrive has the right model, but the process for most library patrons is way too complex (I never did get it working and most days I consider myself quite tech savvy).