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Books Everyone Should Read – Infographic

Books Everyone Should Read

With summertime upon us and schools out for their lengthy break, that age old question (for me at least) comes up again — what to read to fill up these beautiful nights when I have no worries about lesson plans and early alarms?  Today’s infographic is a new twist on the traditional lists that we always see.  Several “must read lists” have been analyzed and a “consensus cloud” was created based on a book’s appearance on those lists.  As with most cloud style lists, the larger and bolder the term, or in this case title, the more frequently it has appeared.  What are you waiting for?  Let’s read! [VIA]

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If you’re more a fan of traditional lists (or lists in general), you might like these as well:

101 Summer Reading Books

100 Books Every High School Student Should Read

100 Essential Books for Life-Long Learners

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Infographics

 

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ARC Book Review – Crucible (Star Wars) by Troy Denning

Crucible (Star Wars)

Crucible (Star Wars) by Troy Denning. July 2013. LucasBooks, 336 p. $27.00 ISBN:9780345511423.

“When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a  pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.” — Publisher’s Description

Crucible is the latest in the long line of Expanded Universe Star Wars novels.  For those unfamiliar with the concept of the Expanded Universe, these are the stories that fall outside of the canon of the six Star Wars feature films.  The events in this universe remain very true to themselves and range from times thousands of years before the first Star Wars film (called BBY – Before the Battle of Yavin) to forty-five years After the Battle of Yavin (ABY) which is when Crucible is set. We are treated to a much older cast of characters than I was used to in Crucible, and obviously much has happened to these characters in the time between last seeing them on screen and this novel.

I was only familiar with some of the events in the Expanded Universe, having read a few novels set immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi, but to fast forward 40 years was a little intimidating.  Fortunately, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this novel as Denning provides ample background to understand characters’ motivations and enough back story to keep the reader informed without having to read the entire EU backlog.  If anything, it’s intrigued me to delve deeper into some of the series that I have missed over the years.

The story itself in Crucible is an enjoyable space adventure.  The action is fast paced, with a few intermittent moments where is slows, but stops just short of becoming dull in those moments.  Even those not wholly familiar or invested in Star Wars or its Expanded Universe may enjoy this novel, but it’s not recommended.  The audience for this will end up being those who have seen at least the original trilogy of movies and/or have read most of the EU books or won’t mind the research.

That said, it was great seeing characters we were familiar with including Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3PO, and even Lando Calrissian.  On the downside, from the first sentence it seems like we’re constantly being reminded that this is a Star Wars novel.  Constant references to the films and some of those obscure at best (how much mileage has the phrase “nerf-herder” gotten over the years, I wonder) became tiring after a while.  Add to this continual reminders that the Jedi deal all the time with the Force — we have Force lightning, Luke feels something in the Force, Leia reaches out with the Force, objects are moved with the Force — We get it by now, the Force is ever-present and used by Jedi for a great many things, so the phrase “with the Force” became tiresome after a while.

Aside from these minor points, the feel of the novel was definitely Star Wars for me, however.  Interesting villains on many levels with different stages of adventure, wit, and humor with a sprinkle of spirituality keeps the novel moving at fast clip and kept me engaged throughout.  Even with missing many of the previous EU novels, it was pretty obvious that Crucible is going to serve as a bridge between previous stories and a new series of adventures.  As such, it makes for a great one off adventure for those looking at trying a new Star Wars adventure without feeling the need to commit to a five to six novel series.

Many thanks to LucasBooksNetGalley, and Troy Denning for the opportunity to read and review Crucible.  The final version will be released on  July 9, 2013.

Four out of five stars.

Crucible (Star Wars) on Amazon

Crucible (Star Wars) on Barnes and Noble

Crucible (Star Wars) on Goodreads

Crucible (Star Wars) on LibraryThing

Crucible (Star Wars) on Shelfari

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Reviews

 

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ARC Review: The Far Time Incident by Neve Maslakovic

My review of a fantastic Science Fiction Adventure/Mystery!!

NJBiblio Reads

The Far-Time Incident

The Far Time Incident by Neve Maslakovic. 2013. 47North, 342 p. $14.95 ISBN: 9781611099096.

When a professor’s time-travel lab is the scene of a deadly accident, the academic world and the future of St. Sunniva University get thrown into upheaval. As assistant to the dean of science, Julia Olsen is assigned to help Campus Security Chief Nate Kirkland examine this rare mishap…then make it quietly go away!

But when the investigation points toward murder, Julia and Chief Kirkland find themselves caught in a deadly cover-up, one that strands them in ancient Pompeii on the eve of the eruption of the world’s most infamous volcano. With the help of their companions—a Shakespearean scholar and two grad students—Julia and the chief must outwit history itself and expose the school’s saboteur before it’s too late.” — Publisher’s Description

The Far Time Incident is one of those books that…

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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Sci-Fi or Fantasy? – Infographic

Choosing the Best Sci-Fi or Fantasy Book

I love these top number or best of lists for everything, especially books.  Two years ago, NPR came out with the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books as chosen by their listeners.  For most people familiar with these genres, you may have read or at least heard of most of the books and series on this list.  For the uninitiated, or for someone looking for a book that’s a little different off this list, where should they start.  Today’s infographic is a fabulous flowchart and will help you navigate the list and find the perfect Science Fiction or Fantasy book for you.  Why not give it a try and add a few to your summer reading list? [VIA]

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Infographics

 

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Moby Dick Big Read Project

Moby Dick — Big Read

I came across this site through Open Culture which is a fantastic repository of all kinds of great free history and pop culture.  The Moby Dick Big Read Project was an enormous undertaking to record all 135 chapters of the novel into an audiobook format with each of the chapters read by a different voice.  Combining the voices of the known and unknown but all important this project has injected new live into one of the greatest American novels.

You can listen to the audio on the Big Read site itself, through iTunes, or through SoundCloud.

H/T to both Open Culture for the original post and Book Riot for pointing me their way.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Blogs, Websites

 

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101 Summer Reading Books – Infographic

101 Great Summer Reading Books

If you’re like me, your summer is full of great times outdoors, traveling, and of course books!  Today’s infographic is a neat and different approach to the “Best Books” lists.  Just follow the flow chart to see excellent reads in both fiction and non-fiction and in all genres both classic and contemporary for both young adults and adult readers.  There’s something here that should appeal to everyone and you’ll be sure to have plenty to read this summer! [VIA]

Also of interest: You might want to also check out my posts with the 100 Books Every High School Student Should Read and the 100 Essential Reads for the Lifelong Learner for more great ideas.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Infographics

 

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PSA – New Book Review Blog

HI Everyone,

I just wanted to make you aware that if you are interested in my thoughts about new (and some old) books, please check out my companion site NJBiblio Reads for books and book reviews.

I will continue to update here daily, and add content to NJBiblio Reads as I finish each of my many reading adventures!

Thanks for all your continued support and for your  readership — it truly means the world to me!

Charlie (NJBiblio)

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Blogs

 

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Book Review: The Secret History of D.B. Cooper

The Secret History of D.B. Cooper

  The Secret History of D.B. Cooper by Brian Churilla. 2013. Oni Press, Inc., 114 p. $29.99.  ISBN: 9781934964910

After jumping from a Boeing 727 on November 24, 1971 with $200,000 and a parachute somewhere between Portland, Oregon and Seattle,  Washington, D.B. (Dan) Cooper entered American history as one of its most mysterious figures.  Even with an exhausting manhunt and continuing FBI investigation, the fate of the hijacker, and his ransom, remain unknown to this day.

Author Brian Churilla plays on this mystery in his new graphic novel, ostensibly telling is the “secret history” of D.B. Cooper.  In this interpretation, Cooper is actually a CIA secret agent and assassin working in one of the famed MK-ULTRA projects known as Project Oculus during the height of the Cold War. Using psychotropic drugs, Cooper was able to enter into another plane of existence where he was able to fight demons with the aid of a one-eared teddy bear  sidekick and his own samurai sword.  In reality each demon he was able to slay in the alternate reality was a Soviet target who would then meet his end in a very similar, and ofttimes gruesome fashion in this world.  Using these methods, Cooper has been able to assassinate over 60 high ranking Soviet officials.

Problems begin to arise for Cooper when it is revealed that he has entered and worked in this demonic alternate reality so often that he is no longer able to separate this world from that in his mind.  Add to this formula Cooper’s own personal mission/vendetta, a Soviet agent on his tail in the demonic world, and an internal CIA investigation of double agents in this one, and you have the whole formula for The Secret History of D.B. Cooper.

All in all this was a very fast paced, visually appealing novel.  As long as the reader is able to wholly suspend belief and embrace some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the MK-ULTRA project and CIA then it will be a very enjoyable one as well.  Don’t go into this graphic novel looking for theories and the history of the actual D.B. Cooper, although the real life events do tie nicely into this fanciful interpretation.  My only critique is that the story did seem a little rushed and forced at times; some revelations are a little cliche and others merely seemed there only to cut a page count.

I give The Secret History of D.B. Cooper 3 stars out of 5 because it is a fantastic premise and a well written and drawn story, but I really wanted it to be a little longer.  More time on Cooper’s personal life, which is key to understanding his motivations with the CIA, as well as the Soviet counter project would have been very welcome and would have fleshed out the story quite a bit more for me.

I would only recommend The Secret History of D.B. Cooper to higher-level Young Adult readers and adults because of the gore and mild language.

The Secret History of D.B. Cooper on Goodreads

The Secret History of D.B. Cooper on LibraryThing

The Secret History of D.B. Cooper on Shelfari

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Photo of the Day — 2/8/13 (NY Public Library Reading Room)

Daily Photo — “NY Public Library Reading Room”

Use the photos posted in this feature for writing prompts, warm-up activities, drawing templates or as part of a photo analysis.

NY Public Library Reading Room
(Source)

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Daily Photo

 

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The Burning Time by JG Faherty (Review)

The Burning TimeThe Burning Time by J.G. Faherty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS — PROCEED WITH CAUTION**

“The Burning Time” is a classic good v. evil tale that pits one lone wandering white magician against the Trickster of folklore. In this re-telling, the Trickster sets up shop in a small, rural New York town with the purpose of concentrating enough negative energies to call forth the ancient gods.

I found the story at first to be very intriguing, seeing how the townspeople were initially slowly and methodically brainwashed and brought into his power. The timing of which coincided with the arrival of the white magician, John Root and his befriending of a young man named Mitch and his sister, Danni. Shortly after this, however, the book took a more base turn that moved it out of the realm of a classic psychological to a more crass horror novel. Extremely graphic imagery and language abounds as the town descends into chaos before the inevitable conclusion.

There were many good points in the novel. It is very fast paced and makes for a quick read and the overall plot and writing is well done, even if the general story had been attempted many times before. My only real critiques would be the fact that some background characters start developing side plots that seem to be abandoned but would have helped give the town much more flavor and I am still confused about John Root’s age and origins. We are told that he had a family at one point, but the timeline set forth in the book didn’t mesh with some of the actions he takes, including what seems to be a forced and hurried love story with Danni put in place more as a plot device than as character development.

None of these questions kept me from enjoying the work, however. I did find it quite entertaining and would definitely look forward to reading works from this author in the future as he progresses through his career.

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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Reviews

 

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