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The Reading Room

Hello everyone! Hope you’re having a fantastic summer! Below you’ll find some great books that some of the staff at the Braille and Talking Books Library loved. They are available on the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service, unless otherwise notated. If you don’t know how to access BARD, please call your reading advisor and ask how to get started!

Maureen, the librarian, has provided reviews for some of the books below. 

A Universe of Stories for the Summer

Florida Teens Read award winners

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed. DB 90016. Lucy, Grace, Rosina, and Erin are four of the many girls who share their stories in this novel about truth, healing, friendship, and the exponential strength we find when we focus on our common ground. 

Whether you feel invisible or wish you could be, are an outcast or bored with popularity, you’ll find some of yourself in these characters as they seek an end to an ongoing series of sexual assaults in their community, and justice against those at fault.  An insightful read for girls everywhere and the allies who love them.

Sunshine State Award Winner Grades 6-8

Greetings from Witness Protection by Jake Burt. DB 89519. Nicki’s father is in jail and her grandmother is dead so she’s in the foster care system. One day two U.S. Marshalls show up and offer her the adventure of a lifetime. They need her to help hide a family in witness protection from a dangerous criminal. Since they are looking for a family of three, adding a daughter to the family will make it easier to keep them hidden. Adding a street smart, kleptomaniac like Nicki may also help keep them alive- unless her past puts them all in danger.

Sunshine State Award Winners Grades 3-5

Bob by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead. DB 90947. Five years ago, Livy closed the closet door at her grandma’s house and left Bob, a small greenish being wearing a chicken suit, waiting for her to return. What happens when she returns?

WOW! I really liked this story! It really makes you use your imagination and think about who and what Bob could possibly be. I had no idea and was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton. DB 90677. Three students are chosen seemingly at random to participate in a scavenger hunt with a ten thousand dollar prize...but there is much more than meets the eye.

AMAZING! I love how the author built suspense in the book and I was both cheering for and getting seriously annoyed with the characters all at once.

Books You Just Can’t Turn Off

The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher. DB 92244. “Now is the fall of his discontent, as Jason Fitger, newly appointed chair of the English Department of Payne University, takes arms against a sea of troubles, personal and institutional. His ex-wife is sleeping with the dean who must approve whatever modest initiatives he undertakes. The fearsome department secretary Fran clearly runs the show (when not taking in rescue parrots and dogs) and holds plenty of secrets she's not sharing. The lavishly funded Econ Department keeps siphoning off English's meager resources and has taken aim at its remaining office space. And Fitger's attempt to get a mossbacked and antediluvian Shakespeare scholar to retire backfires spectacularly when the press concludes that the Bard is being kicked to the curricular curb.”

This book is the second in a series, but it works wonderfully as a stand-alone novel. I wasn’t lost nor did I feel as if I was missing anything by starting here. Considering that the first book was mostly letters the protagonist wrote, you really miss nothing if you skip the first one.

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong. DB 78699.  “In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned. Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.”

If you love young adult books full of romance, danger, and magic, you will love the Age of Legends Trilogy. It is exciting, world-building, and full of characters you will love one minute, loathe the next, and be heartbroken for in the end. Get your mythological creature fix with a good dose of mystery. The other books in the trilogy are Empire of Night (DB 81573) and Forest of Ruin (DB 92865).

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Parks. DB85265. Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’d like to get to know Grace better, but it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable. Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.

I listened to this book while walking and running, and I have to say I was so absolutely mesmerized by the plot and development of this story, I ended up going much farther than I expected each time I went out!

Say Nothing by Brad Parks. DB91047. Judge Scott Sampson doesn’t brag about having a perfect life, but the evidence is clear: A prestigious job. A loving marriage. A pair of healthy children. Then a phone call begins every parent’s most chilling nightmare. Scott’s six-year-old twins, Sam and Emma, have been taken. The judge must rule exactly as instructed in a drug case he is about to hear. If he refuses, the consequences for the children will be dire.

My husband and I listened to this in the car on a trip to Michigan and I did not drop off sleeping as I usually do on car trips.

Lies by T.M. Logan. DB92455. Six days ago, Joe Lynch was a happily married man, a devoted father, and a respected teacher living in a well-to-do London suburb. But that was before he spotted his wife’s car entering a hotel parking garage. Before he saw her in a heated argument with her best friend’s husband. Before Joe confronted the other man in an altercation where he left him for dead, bleeding and unconscious. Unable to trust the woman he loves, Joe finds himself at the mercy of her revelations and deceits, unsure of who or what to believe. All he knows is that her actions have brought someone dangerous into their lives – someone obsessed with her and determined to tear Joe’s world apart.

Ever get so wrapped up and invested in the story, you start yelling at the main characters? That is what happened to my husband on the same trip with Lies.

NLS Operations Alert: Play Multiple Books Easily

The National Library Service (NLS) has updated the firmware for the Digital Talking-Book Machine (DTBM). This update (version 2.1.16) allows users to sequentially play multiple talking book titles on a single cartridge without the need to enter Bookshelf mode - a capability that has long been requested by NLS patrons and network libraries.

For cartridges containing more than one book or magazine, the new Sequential Play feature enables users to press the “Play/Stop” button to go to the next title when the player announces “End of book.” Standard Bookshelf mode will still work as before, allowing users to play multiple books or magazines in any order they wish. However, for those who want a simpler method, the new functionality makes it possible to move from one title to the next without having to use the bookshelf feature.

Get the Update

You may request an upgrade cartridge by asking your reading advisor for it. It is available for request on the WebOPAC as book number FDB03944 with the title DTBM Software Upgrade. The updated firmware is available for download on the NLS public website and the BARD main page. The NLS also included the firmware to the Magazines on Cartridge system for multiple-magazine subscribers. The firmware update will not be added to mass-duplicated, single title cartridges.

Using the Cartridge

Insert the cartridge or USB drive containing the firmware update. The player will announce it is upgrading your player’s software. Wait until the upgrade is complete and the player restarts (about 10 seconds) and then remove the cartridge.