Survive the Game of Thrones Hiatus with These Queens, Kings, and Conquerors

GOT Hiatus

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
William Shakespeare

by Marie, August 30, 2017, first appearing on Goodreads Blog

Experiencing Game of Thrones withdrawal? The wait for the final season might feel agonizing—though maybe not as agonizing as the wait for The Winds of Winter.

But don’t fret! History is teeming with royal drama of every kind, from the mad to the Machiavellian to the morally gray. George R.R. Martin himself drew plenty of inspiration from real-life nobles for his world-renowned fantasy series. Consider The Accursed Kings, a history on the House of Capet, which Martin once called, “The original Game of Thrones.”

Click here for a whole list of monarchies and books that have enough complexity to fuel their own television show (in fact, many of them already have). There’s the Plantagenets, the Tudors, the Romanovs…the list of dynasties who took power by force or fortune goes on and on. 

 

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Who You Gonna Call?!

Ghostbusters

With people’s minds turning towards things that go bump in the night as we get closer and closer to Halloween, it is important to stop and remember the important things in life. Specifically, a goofy movie from the 80s about catching ghosts.

On the night of October 7, 1984, Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler, while enjoying a magnificent feast of take-out chinese food that represented the last of their petty cash, the Ghostbusters received their first call. Shortly thereafter they arrived at the Sedgewick Hotel and, after some sliming and a great deal of collateral property damage, captured their first ghost, the disgustingly gluttonous, but somehow lovable, Slimer.

After that? More ghost-busting shenanigans than you can take shake a stick at – sequels, video games, books, comic books, graphic novels, movie reboots, dogs and cats living together… I bet you could find a lot of it at the library, if you’re interested.

Close Encounters of the Bookish Kind: 10 of the Best Alien Books

Alien Drive

Photo by Miriam Espacio on Unsplash

Coming right on the heels of “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” firmly cemented Steven Spielberg as the director of his generation. While “Jaws” was a perfect thriller, “Close Encounters” was more indicative of Spielberg’s range and creative ability. In many ways, “Close Encounters” is Spielberg’s masterpiece – a tightly constructed and awe-inspiring exploration of the possibility of other life in the galaxy, of obsession, and humanity’s place on a grand cosmic scale. It remains a remarkable, and singular, cinematic experience. The film is turned forty years old this year and as a result we saw a one-week re-release in theaters across the country in September. Here are a few suggestions for literary encounters to satisfy your curiosity for all things extraterrestrial. Let’s have a look.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

In this imaginative and often profound blend of speculative fiction and philosophy, a Jesuit priest and linguist named Emilio Sandoz leads a team on a mission to make first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The Sparrow is an engrossing, insightful, and challenging read.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Michel Faber’s novels have always defied easy categorization and his latest is no different. The Book of Strange New Things is the provocative and thought-provoking tale of a devout missionary named Peter who is sent to a distant planet that is home to an alien population struggling against a dangerous illness. Back on Earth, his wife Bea’s faith begins to falter as the world is devastated by natural disasters and crumbling governments. Through their stories, Faber teases out and confronts complex and challenging questions of faith, love, and responsibility.

The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

Mysterious lights moving across the sky, strange apparitions appearing out of nowhere, bizarre occurrences with no clear explanation: The Mothman Prophecies has all of the elements of a grade-A UFO/first contact tale. Beginning in 1966, the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, became home to a series of increasingly strange instances centering around a winged apparition known to locals as the Mothman that culminated in a terrible disaster. Originally published in 1975, this one remains a must-read.

Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI) by Ted Chiang

“Arrival” was one of 2016’s better films and certainly a thought-provoking exploration of grief, time, and perception told within the confines of a first contact narrative. The basis for “Arrival” was a novella titled Story of Your Life from Ted Chiang’s 2002 collection, Stories of Your Life and Others. Like most of Chiang’s fiction, Story of Your Life is an elegiac and thought-provoking piece of speculative fiction well worth your time.

The Day After Roswell by William J. Birnes and Philip Corso

The Roswell UFO Incident has become one of the most infamous UFO sightings in history and has turned Roswell, New Mexico, into something of a mecca for UFO true believers and conspiracy theorists. In this bestseller, retired Colonel Philip J. Corso lays bare what he claims was a government cover-up of an actual extraterrestrial event in Roswell. While generally viewed as something of a literary hoax, The Day After Roswell is nonetheless an entertaining – if controversial – read.

Contact by Carl Sagan

If you’re looking for the ring of authority in your first contact/UFO sci-fi, it’s hard to go wrong with Carl Sagan’s Contact. Sagan, the celebrated astrophysicist and science communicator, crafted this novel about a multinational team of scientists establishing first contact with a technologically advanced extraterrestrial life form.

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Written while Arthur C. Clarke was working with Stanley Kubrick on the groundbreaking film of the same name, 2001: A Space Odyssey is based in part on various short stories Clarke had written in the years previous. Like the film, it is a heady and thought-provoking examination of man’s place in a greater cosmic scheme.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The classic The Left Hand of Darkness from sci-fi maven Ursula K. Le Guin tells the story of a lone human sent to an alien world whose population can choose and change their gender. It was a groundbreaking work in 1969 given its exploration of sex, gender, and psychology and remains an intriguing read today.

Armada by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline’s sophomore effort brings his considerable pop-culture acumen to bare in this alien invasion thriller. The novel centers on Zack Lightman, a young sci-fi aficionado who finds himself in the middle of a spacefaring adventure to defend Earth from invasion after spotting a flying saucer. Much like Cline’s debut novel, Ready Player OneArmada is a rollicking, self-aware, coming-of-age thriller.

UFOs by Leslie Kean

In UFOs, investigative reporter Leslie Kean pulls together a thorough and intriguing collection of UFO sightings from around the world alongside Kean’s own examination of hundred of documents recounting the phenomena. It’s a deep and thoughtful look into an endlessly controversial and fascinating subject.

 

It’s time to get things in order

If spring is for cleaning out all of the dust and clutter that accumulates over winter, then fall should be about trying to get things as neat and tidy as you can in order to keep the inevitable dust and clutter to a minimum.

And if it’s true for your home it should be true for your self as well. Here’s something to help get you sorted, for fall, winter and beyond. Fall

Four Books with Simple Messages that Will Help You to be a Better You

by Chris Schluep, August 23, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

A friend of mine is sending her son off to college this year. We recently talked about books she could give him to help him prepare for college and life.

“I want to give him something other than Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” she told me.

Since he was taking it with him to school, we agreed the book should be short and sweet. And, most importantly, the message had to be simple– something useful that he could absorb quickly. I offered up the first book on this list.

But there are other books to recommend as well. Here’s a short list of books with simple messages that will help your student–or you–to be a better you.

Make Your Bed

Make Your Bed – If you just follow the first rule of this book, which is to do a good job of making your bed well in the morning, you will have succeeded in doing something well each day.

 

7 Habits

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – If you live by your own habits and principles, and judge yourself accordingly, you’ll be ahead of the game. If you live by how others judge you, you’ll always be bound to the whims of other people’s moods and opinions.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – We all have a lot of crap. If you do a one-time tidying session, in which you only keep that which “sparks joy,” your life will be simpler, more organized, and happier.

 

Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly – Putting yourself out there–being vulnerable–is a show of courage. And if you’re not putting yourself out there, you can’t be the best you.

Best Sellers Update

New York Times Combined Print & E-Book Fiction Best Sellers

  1. THE CUBAN AFFAIR by Nelson DeMille (NEW)

The Cuban AffairRetired US Army infantry officer, Daniel Graham MacCormick – “Mac” for short – seems to have a pretty good life, even if his finances are more than a little shaky. At age thirty-five he’s living in Key West, owner of a forty-two-foot charter fishing boat, The Maine. One day, Mac is sitting in the famous Green Parrot Bar in Key West, contemplating his life, and the next he is hired by a beautiful Cuban-American woman named Sara Ortega, hotshot Miami lawyer, Carlos, and a mysterious older Cuban exile, Eduardo Valazquez to help recover sixty million American dollars hidden in Cuba by Sara’s grandfather when he fled Castro’s revolution. With the “Cuban Thaw” underway between Havana and Washington, Carlos, Eduardo, and Sara know it’s only a matter of time before someone finds the stash—by accident or on purpose. And Mac knows if he accepts this job, he’ll walk away rich…or not at all.

  1. IT by Stephen King
  2. HAUNTED by James Patterson and James O. Born (NEW)
  3. A COLUMN OF FIRE by Ken Follett
  4. TO BE WHERE YOU ARE by Jan Karon (NEW)
  5. THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE by David Lagercrantz
  6. A LEGACY OF SPIES by John le Carré
  7. ENEMY OF THE STATE by Kyle Mills
  8. BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate

Forget Jack-o’-Lanterns and Candy Corn, October is National Book Month!

Nat Book Month

Robert Adrian Hillman /Photo © Shutterstock

Oh man. This is tailor-made for libraries. Well… it’s tailor-made for books anyway, which we are all about. And all we have to do to show our support is exactly what we always do!

Which is to say, provide people with access to tens of thousands of books and encourage and enable those same people to read those same books. It’s perfect!

What can you do to show your appreciation for the dominant means of storing, transporting and spreading knowledge and understanding on Earth for the last 1,700 years or so (before books it was all scrolls and wax and rocks)?

Take time out from planning your costume parties and hanging fake cobwebs and stop by the library. Check out that old favorite, or that new book you’ve been meaning to read, or, if all else fails, ask a librarian to suggest something for you (if you plan it ahead of time you can fill out a Library Concierge form and have a list of five personally tailored recommendations waiting for you). Welcome to October and happy reading.

They Make it in the End: 5 Fictional Tales of Sweet, Satisfying Escape

Because, sometimes, you need to know before you start. Spoilers be darned.

Escape

Image © Shutterstock

Women and girls held captive by monstrous men is a theme returned to by writers again and again, perhaps because it is echoed in real-life headlines. In these books, at least, the captives ultimately free themselves, and their captors get their comeuppance, whether at the hands of the authorities, or, even more satisfying, the hands of their victims. For stories of abuse and escape, check out these novels and memoirs.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Fourteen-year-old Turtle eats raw eggs for breakfast, is handy with a gun and knife, and has the sort of wilderness survival skills that could win her her own reality TV show. She also has a paranoid, sexually and emotionally abusive father who, despite letting Turtle attend school and socialize (a bit) with other kids, has all but made her his hostage since her mother died when she was six. In Gabriel Tallent’s new novel, My Absolute Darling, Turtle’s existence is just tolerable enough that she doesn’t even question it – until she meets (and rescues) a boy, with whom she falls in love. The question then is how Turtle can rescue herself.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is sweet, scary-smart, funny, and voluptuous – assets which do not escape the malign eye of her mother’s creepy boyfriend. In this tender and bittersweet novel Eleanor tries to navigate the pangs of first love while hiding the truth of what’s going on at home from the new boy in her life. Ultimately, Eleanor has to decide at what price she can fight for her freedom to feel safe in her own home, and Park comes to understand that truly loving someone sometimes means letting them go.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Told cleverly from the point of view of five-year-old Jack, this ingenious novel asks the question: what if your entire world consisted of a small, windowless room? What would you do to escape? And what would you think of the real world once you got out? Jack’s mother suffers abuse at the hands of her kidnapper, who is Jack’s father, for years, but when he comes after Jack, she makes a bold plan to win their freedom. Life outside their room is far more exciting, colorful, and confusing than anything Jack has known, and in the end he, and his mother, come to a new understanding of the meaning of home.

The Never List by Koethi Zan

Spookily similar to the real-life case of the three women held captive by Ariel Castro in Cleveland, this novel traces the life-altering consequences of two teenager friends’ bad decision to accept a ride from the wrong person. The girls are taken captive and held in a basement for years before one finally manages to escape, while the other doesn’t make it out. Ten years later, the survivor is living under a new name, but with old guilt and shame about what happened, why she lived, and why her friend was left behind.

My Abandonment by Peter Rock

This novel offers the same premise as My Absolute Darling – a father and daughter living mostly by their wits in semi-isolation. But in Rock’s novel, which was based on a true story, the father is far less malevolent, and the duo lives apparently contentedly until they are discovered one day and their world is torn apart. Soon, though, questions arise as to just how well cared for the daughter actually was, and if the man she’s called her father is actually related to her at all. Rock is more concerned with questions about wilderness and civilization, and what constitutes a good, or at least wholesome, life, than scary stories about bad men in the woods, but his novel is haunting nonetheless.