Friday, March 30, 2012

App Review: Zite

App: Zite

Devices: iPhone and iPad

Cost: Free

What is it?
It is a personalized feed reader. Unlike other readers who only pull the feeds from websites you’ve specified, the Zite app gathers new articles, blog posts, and other web content on subjects that you’ve shown an interest in. For instance, in my Google Reader, I have a feed subscription for Gallycat: a publisher/book news website. Zite would take my interest in publisher/book news and find articles from other blogs and websites I may have never heard of before that may interest me.

How it works.
When you first download and open the Zite app, you are prompted to select a few ready-made subjects for your Zite feed and even give the option to add your own if you do not see a subject you want. Zite will then open with your Top Stories ready to read, and tabs of each subject ready to be selected. As you read articles, you have the option to give them a thumbs up or a thumbs down. A thumbs up will indicate to Zite that you’d like to read more articles like this one, while a thumbs down will say don’t show me things like this again. When you give an article a thumbs down, you also have the option to block all content from the source website. This is how Zite learns what to look for to personalize your feed.

The interface is clean and easy to navigate. Most articles when opened are in a clean reader view that has font size options. (Articles that are displayed in web view are at the request of the hosting website.) I have personally found the Zite app to be extremely useful in introducing me to great websites and blogs that I hadn’t found before. It was also convenient that I created a profile on my iPhone with my preferences and was able to transfer that profile to my iPad without having to start all over again. The export feature is also very useful, allowing me to share articles to Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, by email, Linkedin, Instapaper, Delicious, and Google Plus.

A drawback is that Zite is isn’t available for Android devices yet; however, the FAQ on the Zite website indicate that they hope to move this app to more platforms. Also, occasionally duplicate articles appear in the feed, but it’s not really that much of an inconvenience.

Bottom Line:
Given the multitude of content one has to wade through every day to find articles of interest to oneself, Zite is a time and headache saver for frequent readers.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ecoute voir ici!

Louisiana is famous for its unique culture, not the least of which is its music. Though jazz may be the most well known type of Louisiana music, there are also several others to add to the zesty gumbo of toe-tapping local rhythms.

There’s swamp pop, the Cajun/Creole rhythm and blues hybrid of emotional lyrics and honky-tonk piano. You may have heard the name chank-a-chank, a term that is almost as fun to say as the music is to listen to. And let’s not forget zydeco, the Cajun dance music that features instruments like the accordion, guitar, and washboard. Warning: listening to these may have side effects of crawfish boils, dancing, and speaking French.

Whatever your preference, the Calcasieu Parish Public Libraries own the various types of music on CD and through our free downloadable music service, Freegal. Library card holders can check out up to 10 CDs at a time and are allowed 10 song downloads a week.

Click on the link below to access Freegal and type in your library card number and pin. Click on “Genre” and then “Cajun” to begin browsing our collection that includes artists such as Jamie Bergeron & the Kickin’ Cajuns, Clifton Chenier, and Wayne Toups.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Staff Pick: The Invisible Ones

The Invisible Ones
By Stef Penney

The Invisible Ones opens up with Ray Lovell, a half-Gypsy private investigator, in a hospital room with his right arm paralyzed and no memory of what happened or how he got there. Hired by Leon Wood to find his missing daughter, Rose Janko, Ray had been questioning those closest to her. Clearly whoever he was investigating thought he was getting a little too close to the truth and tried to silence him, but the problem is remembering who exactly he was investigating.

As the novel progresses, Ray's story intertwines with young JJ Smith's, a 14-year-old Gypsy boy who, unlike Ray, still lives with his family the traditional Traveler way, on the road. JJ's family has had their share of bad times, so many that it's thought the family has prikaza, bad luck. Topping off all the tragedies is the mysterious disappearance of Rose Janko, JJ's uncle's wife with the dark birthmark on her throat. Did she really run off with a gorjio, a white man, as the family claims or has something more sinister happened to her?

Shards of memory begin to pierce through the haze, and Ray begins to piece together what he was working on before his "accident." Old secrets come to light, each more twisted than the last. Can he put the puzzle together before tragedy strikes again?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Freebie Alert: Awesome Book Jackets

If you've ever wanted your book cover to make clear to everyone that you are not to be disturbed while you are reading, here ya go!

Go to for these and other printable book covers!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Staff Pick: A Perfect Blood

A Perfect Blood
By Kim Harrison

Someone has been kidnapping witches and performing experiments on them that cause an excruciating death. Still trying to get her life in order with her new status as a demon, Rachel Morgan and the gang at Vampiric Charms are tapped to help solve these crimes before more witches go missing and turn up dead. Unfortunately, Rachel's demon blood is the one thing that can help the culprits in their quest to exterminate all inderlander species, and the enemy has infiltrated the higher levels of many government organizations. Rachel must face her fears about using her powers before she is captured in her weakened state.

A Perfect Blood is Harrison's tenth novel in the Hollows series. And unlike many author who I find lose steam around book eight or book nine, Harrison's writing and plot show no signs of fatigue. Paranormal fantasy fans will enjoy the broad array of creatures featured in this series, a catalog that includes: pixies, faeries, elves, demons, vampires (living and undead), witches, gargoyles, and weres. The series is set in an alternate present day Cincinnati where the human population of the world has been reduced to less than half of it's size thanks to a pandemic caused by a genetically engineered tomato. That was over forty years ago, and now humans and inderlanders (anyone not human) live side by side in an imperfect and precarious harmony. I cannot state often enough how much I enjoy reading this series and I'm always a little sad when I finish one knowing that the next will take a year to arrive. Recommended to every paranormal fantasy fan.

Reviewed by Samantha.