It’s STAR WARS Day!

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CC Image: “Yoda” by Steve on Flickr

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU.

In recognition of the day here are two lists of the best Star Wars novels ever. Yes, two lists, one canon and one that used to be.

MODERN CANON FOR ME, PLEASE!

10. QUEEN’S SHADOW by E. K. Johnston

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When Padmé Naberrie, “Queen Amidala” of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen’s shadow.

 

9. STAR WARS: AFTERMATH by Chuck Wendig

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As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding.

 

8. THRAWN by Timothy Zahn

31140332One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, but Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, author Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

 

7. LAST SHOT by Daniel Jose Older

38602136It’s been ten years since the rebel hero Han Solo last encountered Fyzen Gor. After mounting a successful rebellion against the Empire and starting a family with an Alderaanian princess, Han hasn’t given much thought to the mad inventor. But when Lando turns up at Han’s doorstep in the middle of the night, it’s Fyzen’s assassins that he’s running from. And without Han’s help, Lando — and all life on Cloud City — will be annihilated.

 

6. BLOODLINE by Claudia Gray

27209239Now a respected senator of the New Republic, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy. As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option.

 

5. THRAWN: ALLIANCES by Timothy Zahn

36385830On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn.

 

4. TARKIN by James Luceno

22012250Grand Moff Tarkin, the face of the Empire (at least in 1977 before we met the Emperor), has never had his story told. Until now as author James Luceno brings the legendary character to full, fascinating life.

 

 

3. A NEW DAWN by John Jackson Miller

20262705Ever since the Jedi were marked for death and forced to flee Coruscant, Kanan Jarrus has devoted himself to staying alive rather than serving the Force. Wandering the galaxy alone, from one anonymous job to another, he avoids trouble–especially with the Empire–at all costs. So when he discovers a deadly conflict brewing between ruthless Imperial forces and desperate revolutionaries, he’s not about to get caught in the crossfire. Then the brutal death of a friend at the Empire’s hands forces the ex-Jedi to make a choice: bow down to fear, or stand up and fight.

 

2. AHSOKA by E. K. Johnston

29749107Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance….

 

1. LORDS OF THE SITH by Paul S. Kemp

22012290“It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted.” Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

 

I DON’T CARE WHAT DISNEY SAYS, GIVE ME OLD SCHOOL!

10. FATE OF THE JEDI series by Aaron Allston, Christie Golden, and Troy Denning

4161697After a violent civil war, and the devastation wrought by the now-fallen Darth Caedus, the Galactic Alliance is in crisis — and in need. From all corners, politicians, power brokers, and military leaders converge on Coruscant for a crucial summit to restore order, negotiate differences, and determine the future of their unified worlds. But even more critical, and far more uncertain, is the future of the Jedi.

 

9. THE COURTSHIP OF PRINCESS LEIA by Dave Wolverton

161540Seeking rich, powerful allies to bring into the Rebel Alliance and a new home planet for the refugees of her native Alderaan, Princess Leia considers a proposal that could tip the balance of power against the evil Empire. The Hapes Consortium of 63 worlds is ruled by the Queen Mother, who wants Leia to marry her son, the dashing and wealthy Prince Isolder. Han Solo has always dreamed of marrying Leia himself, and now he makes a desperate last gamble to win her back.

 

8.  SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE by Alan Dean Foster

35204Luke Skywalker expected trouble when he volunteered to follow Princess Leia on her mission to the planet Circarpous. But he discovered that hidden on the planet was the Kaiburr crystal, a mysterious gem that would give the one who possessed it such powers over the Force that he would be all but invincible. In the wrong hands, the crystal could be deadly. So Luke had to find this treasure and find it fast….

 

7. LEGACY OF THE FORCE series by Troy Denning, Karen Traviss, and Aaron Allston

267426This is the era of Luke Skywalker’s legacy: the Jedi Master has unified the order into a cohesive group of powerful Jedi Knights. However, as this era begins, planetary interests threaten to disrupt this time of relative peace and Luke is plagued by visions of an approaching darkness.

 

 

6. DARK LORD: THE RISE OF DARTH VADER by James Luceno

359848Throughout the galaxy, it was believed that Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker the Chosen One had died on Coruscant during the siege of the Jedi Temple. And, to some extent, that was true. Anakin was dead. Seduced, deranged, and destroyed by the machinations of the Dark Lord Sidious, Anakin Skywalker is dead . . . and Darth Vader lives.

 

5. THE OLD REPUBLIC: DECEIVED by Paul S. Kemp

8015504Darth Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous—something Malgus would never want to be, but cannot stop, any more than he can stop the rogue Jedi fast approaching.

 

4. DARTH PLAGUEIS by James Luceno

11099729“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
—Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, 
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

 

3. DARTH BANE trilogy: PATH OF DESTRUCTION, RULE OF TWO, and DYNASTY OF EVIL by Drew Karpyshyn

Once the Sith order teemed with followers. But their rivalries divided them in endless battles for supremacy. Until one Dark Lord at last united the Sith in the quest to enslave the galaxy—and exterminate the Jedi. Yet it would fall to another, far more powerful than the entire Brotherhood of Darkness, to ultimately realize the full potential of the Sith and wield the awesome power of the dark side as never before.

 

2. THE NEW JEDI ORDER series by multiple authors

192214Twenty-one years have passed since the heroes of the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, breaking the power of the Emperor. Since then, the New Republic and the New Jedi Order have valiantly struggled to maintain peace and prosperity among the peoples of the galaxy. But unrest has begun to spread and threatens to destroy the Republic’s tenuous reign.

 

1. THE THRAWN trilogy: HEIR TO THE EMPIRE, DARK FORCE RISING, and THE LAST COMMAND by Timothy Zahn

It is a time of renewal, five years after the destruction of the Death Star and the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire. But with the war seemingly won, strains are beginning to show in the Rebel Alliance. New challenges to galactic peace have arisen. And Luke Skywalker hears a voice from his past. A voice with a warning. Beware the dark side….

 

Need to catch up on your Graphic Novel reading? Or start?

Graphic Novels (and the one comics that they come from) are more popular than ever.

Sequential art (to use a term coined by Will Eisner) as a method of story telling has been around for roughly the entire history of mankind but up until the last century or so it had fallen out of fashion. Even then it was considered kids stuff. Only in the last couple of decades has it really come to be recognized as a legitimate form of literature and art.

The “Graphic Novel” has gone mainstream. They’re used in classrooms, adapted into popular TV shows and movies and enjoyed by people of all ages.

Image result for umbrella academyIf you are uncertain if Graphic Novels are for you pick a movie or TV show that’s been based on a graphic novel or comic that you like (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Umbrella Academy, Preacher, The Walking Dead, Deadly Class, the MCU, the DCEU, and so on, and so on) and start there. Or you could go for a graphic adaptation of classic literature or popular novels. Or nonfiction graphic novels about everything from physics to life abroad to economics. Or something entirely different. If you look around enough you’re bound to find something to interest you.

But where are you supposed to do this looking?

We’re glad you asked. The Moline Public Library has a Graphic Novel section in each of its three main areas, children’s, young adult and adult. In addition to that we have access to all the graphic novels in the PrairieCat system if you don’t mind waiting a week or so for them to be sent in. Then there is hoopla!, one of our e-material collections, which has an impressive amount of comics and graphic novels on offer for you to checkout, download and read on your digital device. 

Graphic Novels: Try them, you’ll like them.

It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Maybe your day wasn’t bright (it’s been raining here for hours), but it was probably colder than you would’ve liked.

Either way, something about today put me in mind of the opening line from George Orwell’s classic 1984. Something ever so mildly bleak in the air. I’m sure it is a passing thing and that spring will arrive in full force soon, but still…

Image result for 1984

I guess, what I am trying to say is that it is a great day to go some place quiet and comfortable with lots of reading material, and maybe an attached cafe where you can get a sandwich and a cup of coffee, and hold up for hours reading. Maybe learning about any other services that such a magical place could provide or, at the very least, assembling a small stack of books that I would then see if I could borrow.

Sigh.

If only such a wonderful place existed. *wink*

 

 

Happy “Frankenstein Was Published Today” Day

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Portrait of Mary Shelley. (Photo: Culture Club/Getty Images)

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” – Mary Shelley

Okay, so it might not be a real, recognized holiday, and yes, the big 200th anniversary was last year, but 201st is still pretty cool.

Mary Shelley published Frankenstein on March 11, 1818 and the worlds of literature, horror and story-telling haven’t been the same since. Few stories or characters have occupied the cultural imagination as long or as pervasively as Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstien and his monster.

How do you celebrate? You could…

  • Read Frankenstein
  • Write your own story (gothic horror optional)
  • Read up on Mary Shelley
  • Read something else that features her famous monster (there’s a lot to choose from)
  • Stitch together your own unholy abomination and bring it to life with chemical cocktails, lightning and hubris

We’re not telling you what to do, but all but the last of those you can do at the library… and we wouldn’t really recommend the last one. It didn’t work out well for the good doctor.

18 Essential Classics to Read Before You Die

Remember all those books that you were supposed to read in your high school English classes and college lit courses, but never really got around to? It turns out, they really are worth a second look with the fresh eyes of adulthood. After all, there’s a reason certain works become influential classics and serve as the narrative DNA for so many of the novels currently sitting on the bestseller lists and your to-be-read pile. While it may feel daunting, working your way through a classic or two is a particularly rewarding experience. And, let’s be honest, adding a little intellectual vigor to 2018 certainly couldn’t hurt, right?

The cover of the book Little Black Classics Box SetLittle Black Classics Box Set

Various

If one-stop shopping for the classics appeals to you, look no further than this box set. It features eighty books celebrating a wide range of classic literature from drama to poetry, and fiction to history, and includes works from Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Joseph Conrad and many others.

 

The cover of the book The OdysseyThe Odyssey

Homer

Sometimes regarded as the first true novel and one of the all-time greatest adventures, this book is one of those classics you were supposed to read in high school, and is well worth revisiting. The Odyssey is a classic saga centering on a man’s fantastical and perilous journey to return to his wife and son.

 

 

The cover of the book Jane Austen: The Complete WorksJane Austen: The Complete Works

Jane Austen

Another piece of one-stop shopping, Jane Austen: The Complete Works is a perfect way to revisit one of the most engaging writers of the eighteenth century – one whose influence is still felt today. Austen was an incisive social critic with truly remarkable, razor-sharp wit and a core of feminism that was well ahead of her time.

 

The cover of the book Madame BovaryMadame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert

As a landmark of realist fiction, Madame Bovary long ago secured a spot as a literary masterpiece. Its portrayal of a housewife growing increasingly desperate to escape the day-to-day tedium of her life spoke deeply to many women of the era when first published in 1857. It is perhaps still far more relevant than it should be.

 

 

The cover of the book War and PeaceWar and Peace

Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s epic and sprawling piece of historical fiction is undoubtedly – and infamously – a tremendous undertaking, but it is absolutely a journey worth taking. It is Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus – it features some of the writer’s best work, along with literature’s most deeply human characters. There may also be a few lessons to be gleaned for the tumultuous times we find ourselves in today.

 

The cover of the book The Penguin Book of the UndeadThe Penguin Book of the Undead

Edited by Scott G. Bruce

Suspense and horror seem to be hardwired into our both our collective consciousness and our literary framework. What we think of as the modern ghost story did not really develop until the gothic period of the nineteenth century, but there were forerunners lurking in texts that spanned the Roman Empire, medieval Europe, and the Renaissance. This collection is a perfect introduction to those stories.

 

The cover of the book Les MiserablesLes Miserables

Victor Hugo; Translated with Notes by Christine Donougher

As the basis for perhaps the best musical in history, Les Miserables has long held a prominent footing in popular conception. The novel that underlies it also happens to be Victor Hugo’s best and one of the finest novels of the nineteenth century. Its decades-spanning narrative contemplates deep questions of morality, race, justice, and religion. It also made Jean Valjean one of the most beloved characters in literature.

 

The cover of the book The Complete FablesThe Complete Fables

Aesop

With his oft-witty and sometimes biting vignettes, Aesop created an extraordinary compendium of moral philosophy in a remarkably plain-spoken package. When one considers that characters like the tortoise and the hare have endured since the sixth century, Aesop’s literary achievement becomes all the more astonishing.

 

 

The cover of the book East of EdenEast of Eden

John Steinbeck

While Steinbeck is understandably best known for The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden may be his crowning literary achievement. Written in Steinbeck’s later years, it is a work of Biblical scope and echoes with a sort of timeless mythic power. It centers on two families whose intertwining destinies outline a story of love, loss, betrayal, and brutality.

 

 

The cover of the book The Penguin Book of French PoetryThe Penguin Book of French Poetry

Various

Covering the period of 1820 to 1950, The Penguin Book of French Poetry highlights an era of remarkable transition and evolution. Featuring works by Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Breton, and a multitude of others, this collection charts a period of intense innovation and the converging and conflicting styles that underpinned such movements as Romanticism, Surrealism, and Cubism.

 

The cover of the book Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

Published merely a year before Emily Bronte’s untimely death, Wuthering Heights is a classic doomed love story. It is an amalgamation of many genres, although it arguably fits most neatly in the Gothic category. The tormented tale of bitter love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw – and its brutal consequences – is a haunting masterpiece.

 

The cover of the book Little WomenLittle Women

Louisa May Alcott

Little Women has been captivating readers for over a hundred years and stands as a landmark piece of children’s literature – one that transcends that designation and holds appeal for all ages. This tale of the lives of the March sisters and their triumphs and tragedies presented young readers with the world as it was, and as a result, spoke to them in a way few novels do.

 

The cover of the book 19841984

George Orwell

With apologies to Margaret Atwood, 1984 is perhaps the greatest piece of dystopian fiction ever written. Its relentlessly bleak narrative has proven alarmingly prescient since its publication in 1949 – is it really shock that it found itself once again atop the bestseller lists in January of 2017?  Regardless, Orwell’s tale of Newspeak, Big Brother, and Thought Police is a powerful, devastating, and seemingly ever-relevant read.

 

 

The cover of the book The Last of the MohicansThe Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper

The Last of the Mohicans is one of literature’s great adventure stories. Told from the view of Hawkeye, a frontier scout and Native American, The Last of the Mohicans details the birth, intertwining, and eventual tragedy of Native American and colonial cultures.

 

 

 

6788719The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle

Perhaps the best known and most emulated literary sleuth of all time, Sherlock Holmes is truly in a class of his own. There’s nothing quite like reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original short stories and novels. This collection begins with The Hound of the Baskervilles, which was Holmes first appearance following his presumed death in The Final Problem, and features a host of other favorites.

 

The cover of the book The Scarlet PimpernelThe Scarlet Pimpernel

Baroness Orczy

The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the most influential adventures of the early twentieth century and a landmark of young adult literature. It set the standard for a host of “masked avenger” stories that would come after it, including the likes of Zorro, The Green Hornet, and Batman, with its tales of an English fop who dons a mask and becomes a swashbuckling hero by night.

 

The cover of the book Where the Red Fern GrowsWhere the Red Fern Grows

Wilson Rawls

If you haven’t had a good cry in a while, it might be time to revisit Where the Red Fern Grows. This powerful children’s novel charts the relationship between a boy and his hounds. However, it’s the precise observation and emotional nuance that sets Where the Red Fern Grows apart from other books.

 

 

The cover of the book Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies

William Golding

What begins as a classic tale of boyhood adventure quickly devolves into a searing examination of cruelty and man’s inherent savagery. Whether viewed as a parable, satire, or political allegory, the power of William Golding’s story of a group of stranded boys struggling to survive and ultimately devolving to their baser instincts is as powerful today as it was on its initial publication, and may offer some unsettling insights into the rampant tribalism so prevalent in today’s political landscape.

Paperback Thrills: 16 Best Thrillers of the Last 100 Years

by Keith Rice, appearing first on Signature Reads

Thrillers

The perfect thriller is a difficult beast – a complex mix of pacing, plotting, and tension all doing a high-wire act to keep readers on the edge of their seats and glued to the page. The thriller is also one of the literary world’s broader genres ranging from intricacies of espionage to the supernatural, tension-filled courtrooms to haunted houses, howcatchems and whodunits to grisly murders. The one thing all of these tales have in common? An unparalleled ability to draw readers in for that can’t-put-it-down reading experience. Looking back over the last 100 or so years, we’ve pulled together our list of sixteen of the most essential thrillers. Find a comfy spot and settle in; once you start one of these great reads, odds are you won’t be able to step away until you hit that final page.

Click for the complete list of thrillers.

Fantastic Voyages – “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” (Part 3 of 3)

So far we’ve traveled the blue expanse of the sea and the great nothingness of space. What else could there be?

How about time travel?

Yankee

June 19 was not turning out to be a good day for Hank Morgan. He was an intelligent, successful engineer with thousands of people working for him, but, it turns out, not all of them were happy with him. In fact, one went so far as to bash him in the head with a crowbar, and, as if that weren’t enough, Hank woke up in middle-ages England of all places. This was beyond a little perplexing since Hank had been in 19th century Connecticut when he was last conscious.

Hank, who would soon become known as “The Boss,” didn’t have much time to consider this odd change in scenery though, as he was accosted by a lance-wielding knight on horseback soon after his arrival. Things only got more complicated from there.

Without giving too much away; Hank, using his knowledge of engineering and science, quickly rose to a position of power posing as a great magician and spent the next three or four years trying to turn medieval England into an industrialized (and Americanized) utopia. Also, King Arthur and Merlin were involved. All did not go well.

Still, A for effort, Hank.

Want to learn more? Check out A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain.

Want your shot at building your own utopia? That’s a bit more difficult (we would like to take this opportunity to advise against the “angry employee with crowbar” path to changing history) but it is possible and there is no time like the present. It’s summer, the sun is shining, people are out and about and there are things to do everywhere, so let’s get to it. First things first, find a problem, any problem – small, big, medium-sized, whatever – and fix it, or at least make it better. Then repeat. It’s going to take a while, but then Rome (or an industrialized Camelot with a modern standard of living) wasn’t built in a day.