A Bibliophile’s Dream: Data Manager 2, Goodreads, and Library Thing


So, I’ve always been a bit of a bookish person.  Okay, who am I kidding, I’m an unabashed bibliophile–I love books in all their glorious forms.  Ebooks, print books, trade paperbacks, mass market paperbacks, hardcovers, books with dust covers, books without dust covers, magazines, graphic novels, comic books, spiral bound books, zines, etc.  If it has existed in printed form, I’ll probably love it if I get to see it. In fact, the first two places that I’m liable to visit in any new situation are the bookstores and the libraries of that town, place, or school.  Technology has made reading easier and disseminating print quicker and faster.  One day I might do a blog entry about that, but today I really want to turn my attention to the cataloging of books/media and some of the fun ways that I’ve done it over the years.


Data Manager 2, Image Source: Terapeak

Data Manager 2

This is the first database program that I ever discovered.  I’d been using a pen-and-paper system before I discovered this program, but once I found that I could create record using the title, author’s name, publisher, genre, etc., I was in “hog heaven.”  I quickly converted my records into computer format and spent hours looking at the “Reports” function which combined the best of graphing functions of a spreadsheet program with a database program.  I loved comparing authors that I had, series, or most importantly genres to see where they ranked with others that I owned.  Great fun for a bibliophile!


After Data Manager 2, I flitted from database to database on the various computers that I owned, but none seemed as satisfying as DM2.  As much as rail against the whole Web 2.0 paradigm, it did bring in one good thing: Goodreads.  In many ways, it is a combination between a book database and a social networking site centered around books.  I have about half of my collection listed on GR along that with being a “GR Author” meaning that any of my works that are published in book form (not online) should show up (I say should because, with the variation on my name, some of the books that I’m listed in aren’t actually showing up–those periods and commas make a difference).  I really GR, but find that sometimes it is too “Facebook” for me and I actively resist all the social/community features that it pushes.  It has a yearly reading challenge that I like to participate in and you can really go in-depth on the types of books that you read at the end of the year with a year-end round up (pretty snazzy).  They also have an app that will scan your books’ barcodes and add them to your collection, but too be honest, I think the web interface is much more intuitive.

Library Thing

The second major site that I found is Library Thing.  It is also a Web 2.0 paradigm site, but it focuses (in my opinion) more on the books aspect rather than the social aspect.  Make no mistake, it has social/community features galore, but for some reason, whenever I’m there, I feel the focus is on books first, community second unless you really want to make it a community focused site.  I don’t have nearly as many of my books listed there, about a 1/10th of my collection, but I’m adding books there on a weekly basis.  I love that you can order the books by “shelves” (which you can also do on GR) and that you can print out a listing of books (or just the covers) by the shelves that you set up.  They also recommend books to read based on your shelves (again, GR does this as well).   One thing that I liked that came too late for me to use is TinyCat, a mini-library interface that you can checkout books with (sort of a mini-circulation module).  This would have been perfect for my classroom library when I was a 6th grade teacher, but it was implemented until the year that I left–I tried several systems (including GR shelves), but none fit my needs like TC would have.  Too bad, as even with the half solutions, I had a fair amount of buy-in with my students as “librarians.”  Imagine what I could have done with a fully fleshed out check-in/check-out database that the students could have used with their Chromebooks–I would have probably had what I was looking for developing as a 6th grade language arts teacher–a class of readers who would also share my love for books and reading.

Well, that’s all for today–have a good day!



What’s On My Bookshelf? The Belgariad Volumes 1 and 2 by David Eddings


Welcome to the (hopefully) weekly: What’s on My Bookshelf? This week it is The Belgariad, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

The Belegariad series is one of, if not, my favorite Fantasy series of all time–I go back and forward on this.  It is a little dated by today’s settings, but it acts as an apotheosis to the GrimDark series that are currently popular in today’s fantasy novels.  It has a Good Guy (Protagonist) and a Ultimate Evil (Antagonist), however, even though you know  who the antagonist is, you don’t actually get direct overt conflict for a while between the two.

Yes, yes, I know in the days of GrimDark and where “everybody” is a bad guy, even the “good guys,” this seems old fashioned, but I still feel that heroes (for fiction) are much more realistic because they always have the “hardest” road to follow and GrimDark characters take the “easy” way out–hence, the popularity of GrimDark and the Anit-Hero.  Easy is better more fun while hard means you have to work and sacrifice and who wants to all that in today’s world?


Belgariad, Vol. 1 (includes Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician’s Gambit).

Belgariad, Vol. 1 includes the first 3 books in the Belgariad series.  Essentially, it tells the story of Garion, a simple farm boy and scullion who may be more than he seems.  The early chapters talk about his time on Faldor’s Farm and foreshadow quite a few bits of information before uprooting him from his life and plunging him into adventure.  This is a great set-up for the protagonist as we get to see him grow and develop as the experiences his various adventures.  This is high fantasy at its best–pseudo-medieval world/technology level, magic, non-human races as “monsters” and antagonists, but only different “human” races (i.e., no elves, dwarves, etc.).  The world-building is extremely well done and so too is the magic system.  I read these as individual books, but liked them so much that I bought the trade paperbacks of the books.  These two books literally helped me to get through school and I try to read them once a year whenever possible.


Belgariad, Vol. 2 (includes Enchanter’s Endgame and Castle of Wizardry)

Belgariad, Vol. 2 includes the last 2 books in the Belgariad series.  These two books tell the story of the protagonist who finally comes into his own, discovers his true heritage and sets out to meet and face the challenges of his destiny.  I like this one because it is the conclusion to the series, but it really pays off on the promises set up in the first volume.  It adds a love interest and it also adds in the “Big Bad” of the series and their ultimate confrontation.  To me, it is a satisfying conclusion to the series.

It is a good, clean read (gasp, in the days of the “Red Wedding” or “Negan Kills–both of which I only know through their infamous nature, the idea that something doesn’t have to be super violent or sexy to be fun is shocking, I know 🙂 , but it can be done and David Eddings proves it with this series).  While not written for young adults, it is also appropriate for young adults as well as adults, so this one could be for you or younger fantasy readers (not two young–I’d say Tweens and up as their quite a few double-entendres and mild (PG) thematic elements, but no explicit violence or sex scenes–its just good fantasy).  Anyway, here is a weekly peek into what’s on my Bookshelf.

As always, the links will take you to Amazon.com and if you purchase through these links, I get a small commission which will help me, so thanks in advance!  See you next week, hopefully!


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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Bedtime Books: Legend of the Five Rings (RPG)

When I was a child, I had a curfew of 10pm, which meant that I had to be in bed by that time.  Luckily, I didn’t have to actually be asleep by that time.  I couldn’t watch TV (not part of the curfew), but I could read.  And so, like any enterprising boy who didn’t really want to lie down and go to sleep, I read . . . and read . . . and read.  I usually read for about 45 minutes to an hour, though sometimes I stretched it a little.  I can only remember getting into trouble one time for staying up too late as my family was huge on reading.

I relate this story because I discovered that I don’t really read at night any more–haven’t for a while.  I had a reading light when I was a child, but the overhead ceiling lights aren’t really conducive to reading in preparation for bed.  Luckily, over the past year I found a nice lamp that doubles as a good reading light so, periodically, I’ve been experimenting with reading at night like I used to as a child.  I haven’t been able to find the right book . . . until now.  Most of the books that I read are novels and I tend to devour them, especially now that I have so little reading time.  I tend to read too long and  stay up too late reading.

However, after much trial and error, I’ve finally found (hopefully) a genre of books that seem to work as bedtime reading–not too boring that it will put me to sleep immediately and not too dramatic that I stay up too late reading: Role-playing Games (RPGs).  The one I’m reading now is called  Legend of the Five Rings and it is a Fantasy RPG that merges a fantasy land with martial arts and magic.  Right now I’m reading the “history” of the world, which is a fantasy mash-up of the long history of countries like China and Japan.  It is interesting enough as I’m a History minor and love the history behind the world, but not riveting enough to keep me from putting it down when I finally feel tired.  I’m able to get ideas for future stories while reading, but I’m also able to rest as well.  It will be quite a while before I finish it–it is after all a 338 page book with double columns, but hopefully it will help me both sleep and be productive with story ideas at the same time.

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Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

Finished Goosebumps

So, for Halloween, I thought I’d mention that I finished Goosebumps over the weekend (well, not really–it turns out that GB is on the list to go away from Netflix’s library in Nov).  As I had seen about ⅓ of the movie, I wanted to finish it before it left, so I watched it over the weekend.  I have to say that I liked it.  It was more fun than I thought it would be.

It is the quintessential Young Adult movie with a few scary elements.  It actually reminds me a lot of the Spiderwick Chronicles and Inkheart.  It has a lot of heart and isn’t a cynical cash grab like some other “YA franchise films.”  Some of the students at my old Middle School really loved this film, but it has enough for adults too.

Without spoilers, basically, the movie is a “What if?” scenario:  What if R. L. Stine was real (well, he is real, but real in the movie’s world) and the monsters in his books were also real and can literally leap off the page?  It takes some of the most famous characters and books from Stine’s work and creates CGI monsters to bedevil our protagonists.  There’s not a lot of teen angst and the love story is “sweet” (not saccharine, but really nice one that actually has a basis in the plot of the movie).  That being said, there are a couple of cringe-worthy moments that kids won’t mind, but adults will roll their eyes at, but on the whole it is a fun movie.  And, to be honest, the movie earned major cool points with me for having Jack Black’s R. L. Stine character take on Stephen King on who’s a scarier writer and a better bestseller.  The scene is small, less than two minutes of screen time, but it was a nice Easter Egg for a former Bookseller/Librarian Assistant like myself who sold/checked out countless Goosebumps books.

Overall Grade: B (Above Average)

Here’s hoping everyone has a fun (& safe) Halloween!

Finished The Green Rider by Kristen Britain 

I finally finished the novel The Green Rider by Kristen Britain and I liked it.  It wasn’t my favorite fantasy novel ever but it had enough characterization and and action that I forgave some of its flaws. 

According to Wikipedia, this book is a first novel and I could tell.  Not to be disparaging, but there were elements that seemed out of place.  The meeting with sisters early on in the book seemed to exist only to give the protagonist items she would need later on in the story–a la Tolkien.  Her desire to ignore the repeated attempts to get her to believe that she had the necessary talent to be a good “Greenie” based on all that she had gone through was also particularly irksome.  But overall, I’d say it was pretty good.  Will I read the sequels? Probably, just not right away.

Yet, Kristen Britain did in 1999, what I haven’t yet found a way to accomplish yet in 2017.  She wrote, finished, and published her first novel.  This is the goal I’m working towards.  I hope one day (soon) that I can also reach this milestone myself.  Fingers crossed! 😀

Overall Grade: B-/C+

The Green Rider


Green Rider Book Cover, Image Source: Amazon.com

So far, I’m about a quarter of a way through The Green Rider and I’m liking it.  It isn’t a favorite like the work of Brandon Sanderson, Tad Williams or Elizabeth Moon (my current favorite go-to authors), but it isn’t as bad as I remember it.  I think that I was wanting it (based on the reviews and the way people were talking about it) to be amazing and while it is a good, solid fantasy, it isn’t, for me, amazing.

I suppose I could look it up to see if this is Kristen Britain’s first novel (my computer isn’t actually connected to the internet as I’m typing this so as not to get distracted), even if it isn’t, it seems to have many of the first novel issues.  Just in the first third of the novel, there are pacing issues.  We get introduced to the “big bad” (who apparently is under an even “bigger bad.”  We get a world that is both incredibly airy and light intermixed with one that is incredibly savage.  The main character seems quite unprepared for both–the savagery of the world where she has to fight for her life and the rustic, almost idyllic world of the sisters who offer her respite.

I think this is one of the reasons why it is so hard for me personally to commit myself to writing novels (even though that is what I really want to do as a writer).  I find myself doing exactly the same thing–too many storylines and plot lines when what I want is a coherent whole that doesn’t meander, that doesn’t wander, but tells a compelling story from start to end about a character who starts out one way, but learns about himself/herself on the journey of the novel.  I’m sure that I can learn and master this form as it is the primary form that I read and enjoy, but when I sit down to write it, I find myself doing exactly what is occurring in The Green Rider where I am going down diverse tangents and the story doesn’t seem to have the linearity that I’m looking for and I end up abandoning the project.  Perhaps the lesson The Green Rider can teach me is to finish a rough draft for the project.  Write the whole thing for start to finish and then try to find ways/techniques to revise the story on the paper/page into the one that resides inside my head (& heart).

Building a Bookcase


So this blog post isn’t going to be about the actual construction of a bookcase made from its constituent parts: wood, screws, pegs, etc.  Rather, this post is going to be about the books that make up the bookcase.  I think that I may have mentioned, but I love books–I try whenever possible to cruise bookstores (new and used), Amazon.com, and library book-sales for interesting books (new and old).  However, one of the things that I’ve realized is that I didn’t have my academic books with me last year.

So, I found a bookcase that would be easy to assemble and I’ve transported quite a few of the textbooks here with me.  I’ve stuck mostly to books from my English classes and a few from my History classes.  While I don’t have a ton of time to pursue my own reading, my goal is to read a little each day in order to improve my knowledge in the areas of English and History (& Education).  Hopefully, I will be able to use my love of reading to increase my breadth of knowledge in various disciplines.

One thing that I found interesting while attending English Orientation over the past three days is that I am really attuned to books.  There was a slide with a book cover and I recognized the book from my MA classes at UTC over ten years ago.  I was able to find the book on my bookshelf and loan it to a fellow graduate student who is taking the class.  I was able to do that even though I only saw the cover for 10-15 seconds.  Although I generally can place faces of people, I have a much harder time remembering names.  I guess that’s why I love books so much–they are much less complex than books.  To my mind, books make sense and in a world that often doesn’t make sense, they’re things that are both consistent and reliable.

I love technology and VR and Video games, and even though books are an old technology, I find that they are still a type of technology that I really enjoy getting lost in.