Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Quite an interesting concept for today’s post…a book vending machine.

According to an article on Gizmodo, a German book publishing company, called Hamburger Automatenverlag,  has decided to turn a bunch of cigarette vending machines into those that will vend books instead. The article reports that the cigarette vending machines will be stocked with novels, travel guides, and poetry all written by authors local to the University of Hamburg area.

This is pretty much a genius idea. Not only is a college campus a great starting point for this concept, but it is also a way to turn an unhealthy addiction into a positive learning tool. Books definitely outdo cigarettes in my opinion.

The best part — all of the books inside the machines cost consumers a mere $5 each.

This idea has caught on in other countries as well. In Canada, they have the same general concept. All of those vending machines, which are supposedly priced at around $30,000 each, come with a secure credit card line so you don’t have to worry about having cash to purchase a book. Upgrade!

Maybe if this idea continues to spread, we could see some book vending machines in our country soon!


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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Those of you who know me know that I strive to do things that will help out the environment. That being said, it makes me glad that there are other like-minded people out there, too. I just finished Vanessa Farquharson’s book, called Sleeping Naked is Green, and I must say that it has put some things into perspective for me, as well as added some more ideas for green changes I can make.

The book is about Farquharson’s own green challenge — making one change every day and sticking with it for one year (in this case, it’s 366 days because it just so happened to be a leap year). Aside from the usual green changes that are easy to drum up, like taking reusable bags to the grocery store or using less plastic bottles, it isn’t easy to think of a green change for every day. Some of her more hardcore environmentalist changes happened to be selling her car, unplugging her fridge, not using toilet paper (for number one only), and drastically altering the way she ate.

Nonetheless, this book is an excellent way for us to evaluate what we can do to help the environment and then see which ideas are doable on a daily basis and which ones are not so great for us. Farquharson, of course, is our guinea pig, testing out all the ways to green your life.

Each chapter is a month in her life, and the beginning of each of those chapters describes the changes she makes daily. There is also a story here, which gives the book more of a human quality to it. The good thing about this book is that it never comes off preachy, just honest and to the point.

Farquharson is an arts reporter for the National Post and during her green challenge, kept a blog for each day’s change. Check out her blog, Green as a Thistle, and read all the posts about her green changes. The book serves more as an overview of the challenge, but the blog goes more in depth, as there is a post for each day.


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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I can’t say that I’m a tremendously huge fan of Harry Potter. I’ve read two and a half books and haven’t seen any of the movies. But when I heard there was going to be a Harry Potter theme park opening in Universal Studios, I decided I would be more than excited to go.

The park, which will feature a virtual robotic ride over Hogwarts Castle, will open on June 18 in Orlando, Florida. It will be dubbed ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ and will leave plenty of room for every Harry Potter fan. It will take up 20 acres, after all. Besides the main ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, other rides will also be featured, like the Dragon Challenge, and the Flight of the Hippogriff.

Some of the more interesting aspects of the new theme park lie within its eating establishments. As all fans of the book know, there are some very unique foods that present themselves to characters in the stories. The main restaurant, called Three Broomsticks, will feature butterbeer, a drink that tastes like shortbread cookies and butterscotch.

MTV News reports that they will also serve Rotisserie-smoked chicken, chargrilled ribs and turkey legs, as well as British pub staples like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and Cornish pasties. Of course, some other tasty treats include pumpkin juice, chocolate-y cauldron cakes, treacle fudge and a Scottish ale called Hog’s Head Brew.

For those of you who couldn’t get enough of the cool stores in the Harry Potter books, you will actually be able to visit them. Visitors will have shopping opportunities in stores like Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Honeyduke’s Homemade Sweets, Ollivanders, Owl Post, and Zonkos.

Click here to see a slide show of pictures from the new theme park. Looks pretty nifty to me!


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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

If you haven’t noticed, I have posted very few book reviews as of late. The reason for this is that I have been completely entranced in a new author and have taken it upon myself to read each book of his series from start to finish.

The author: Tim Dorsey. The material: a schizophrenic serial killer named Serge A. Storms is on the loose in Florida. He’s not a maniacal heartless idiot, but is instead a giving moralist — until you get in the way of reuniting him with his briefcase, which is filled with $5 million in cocaine money.

The series focuses on the criminals of Florida: drug dealers, killers, mafia, drug addicts, prostitutes, and every day scam artists. When you bring Serge into the mix, there’s sure to be a crazy adventure in tow. The great thing about this character is the fact that he is so invested in the state of Florida. He is constantly spouting off random facts about Florida’s history, its people, and native land, especially when he gets in one of his manic moods.

Fans of Carl Hiaasen, another well known Florida author, will most likely enjoy the shenanigans of Tim Dorsey’s books. While the two writers are similar in many ways, Dorsey provides more of an edge for his readers. There’s a bit more violence and few gory details are held back. Nonetheless, insane situations are always bouncing around (and usually between many different characters). Some readers may find it hard to keep track of all the characters at first, but once you get the hang of Dorsey’s writing style, you’re all set to tackle one book after another.

As of right now, there are 12 books in the series. (I’m on number 6.) Dorsey’s latest release was Gator A-Go-Go, which came out in January of this year. The order of books is as follows: Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Orange Crush, Triggerfish Twist, The Stingray Shuffle, Cadillac Beach, Torpedo Juice, The Big Bamboo, Hurricane Punch, Atomic Lobster, Nuclear Jellyfish, and lastly, Gator A-Go-Go.

If you’re looking for a crack-up, easy read, I recommend these books. The only thing is — if you don’t read them in order, you might be a bit confused. I can only hope that this truly great author will keep writing!


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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

A new world record has been set. A comic book has just made headlines simply because of its selling price. The very first issue of Superman was sold today for a whopping one million dollars.

This first edition of the comic was released in 1938, giving comic book fans a taste of what good things would come from the superhero series.

According to the New York Times, the sale was made over the website ComicConnect.com and was orchestrated by owner Stephen Fishler. He said that the opportunity to buy such a rare item comes few and far between. Also, he admitted that the transaction took place shortly after the comic book was listed for sale on the site.

The buyer of the comic has not been revealed, but it is said that he is someone of prominence around New York City. (Well, yeah, you’d have to be to spend one million dollars on a comic book.)

Today, there are very few comics that fall into the same category as the first issue of Superman. Those that do exist most likely reside in the care of wealthy comic book owners who make sure they are kept in pristine condition. The odds of us seeing something like his happen again anytime soon are fairly small.

The best part about this story is that the original first edition Superman sold for 10 cents in 1938!


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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

The Harry Potter series has been one of the most talked about and read series of our recent times. It not only appeals to a younger audience, but has also been known to attract an older age bracket as well. Author J.K. Rowling went from rags to riches when the first book was released, and the success of her novels has brought her much fame. But now, she is being accused of plagiarizing the familiar children’s novels.

J.K. Rowling poses with one of her Harry Potter books.

To get you up to speed, there is similar book entitled The Adventure of Willy the Wizard, which was written by Adrian Jacobs back in 1987. The author of this book is claiming that Rowling took many ideas and large chunks of the book and then included it as a part of her Harry Potter series.

The sections of the book that Jacobs is claiming were plagiarized are wizard contests and wizards traveling on trains. It is true that these things are also present in Harry Potter, but could Rowling really have taken them from Jacob’s book? It seems a little fishy.

According to Reuters, Rowling made the following statements about the accusations: 

“I am saddened that yet another claim has been made that I have taken material from another source to write Harry,” Rowling, 44, said in a statement.

“The fact is I had never heard of the author or the book before the first accusation by those connected to the author’s estate in 2004; I have certainly never read the book.”

“The claims that are made are not only unfounded but absurd and I am disappointed that I, and my UK publisher Bloomsbury, are put in a position to have to defend ourselves.”

“We will be applying to the court immediately for a ruling that the claim is without merit and should therefore be dismissed without delay.”

Whatever the outcome of this case, there is no denying that the Harry Potter series has brought much joy to its readers. Fans of the books have been standing up for the author since the claims were made.


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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yesterday, I finished reading a book that can only be described as disappointing for me. The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy is one of those books that I can certainly see the merit for, but can’t fully grasp.

After reading Conroy’s latest novel, South of Broad, I was intrigued to go furthur with the author. His expertise in writing exceeded many authors I had read before and he really knew how to drag me into the story. As for The Water is Wide, I was only dragged slightly and tried to escape several times.

The book is a memoir. It’s a look back on a year’s worth of teaching Conroy did on a small island called Yamacraw. All the children he meets when he gets to the island are so cut off from the outside world that he must teach them simple things just to give them a broad understanding of life. Some of the children don’t even know how to read; many cannot write.

Throughout the book, there are a lot of political issues that arise between the schoolboard officials, Conroy, and the other parents and teachers on the island. In fact, I’d say most of the book deals with those issues. Of course, one of the main areas of focus is the racial difference between whites and blacks. At first, most of the parents and teachers on the island are leary of a white schoolteacher, but then they eventually grow comfortable with Conroy.

I wished he would have spent more time on his dealings with the students instead of the political situation on the island. The occasions that he did talk about the children were too few, but very entertaining. Over the course of his year there, he was able to take the children off the island at least three times and expose them to the world. It was interesting to hear about their reactions.

Overall, this book is definitely a must read for anyone who wants to be a teacher. I can understand why so many college professors often use this book in their classes. It gives you a different view of teaching, lent to the fact that Conroy taught in such an extreme environment with children who had no previous exposure to much of the real world.

But as for me, it was too longwinded. Maybe the next Conroy novel I read will be better?

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