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Outcast

After 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.

In a shocking move, Chief of State Natasi Daala orders the arrest of Luke Skywalker for failing to prevent Jacen Solo’s turn to the dark side and his subsequent reign of terror as a Sith Lord. But it’s only the first blow in an anti-Jedi backlash fueled by a hostile government and suspicious public. When Jedi Knight Valin Horn, scion of a politically influential family, suffers a mysterious psychotic break and becomes a dangerous fugitive, the Jedi become the target of a media-driven witch hunt. Facing conviction on the damning charges, Luke has only one choice. He must strike a bargain with the calculating Daala: his freedom in exchange for his exile — from Coruscant and from the Jedi Order.

Now, though forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is determined to keep history from being repeated. With his son, Ben, at his side, Luke sets out to unravel the shocking truth behind Jacen Solo’s corruption and downfall. But the secrets he uncovers among the enigmatic Force mystics of the distant world Dorin may bring his quest — and life as he knows it — to a sudden end. And all the while, another Jedi Knight, consumed by the same madness as Valin Horn, is headed for Coruscant on a fearsome mission that could doom the Jedi Order . . . and devastate the entire galaxy  Goodreads.com

 

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Omen

The Jedi Order is in crisis. The late Jacen Solo’s shocking transformation into murderous Sith Lord Darth Caedus has cast a damning pall over those who wield the Force for good: Two Jedi Knights have succumbed to an inexplicable and dangerous psychosis, criminal charges have driven Luke Skywalker into self-imposed exile, and power-hungry Chief of State Natasi Daala is exploiting anti-Jedi sentiment to undermine the Order’s influence within the Galactic Alliance.

Forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is on a desperate mission to uncover the truth behind Jacen’s fall to the dark side–and to learn what’s turning peaceful Jedi into raving lunatics. But finding answers will mean venturing into the mind-bending space of the Kathol Rift and bargaining with an alien species as likely to destroy outsiders as deal with them. Still, there is no other choice and no time to lose, as the catastrophic events on Coruscant continue to escalate. Stricken by the same violent dementia that infected her brother, Valin, Jedi Knight Jysella Horn faces an equally grim fate after her capture by Natasi Daala’s police. And when Han and Leia Solo narrowly foil another deranged Jedi bent on deadly destruction, even acting Jedi Grand Master Kenth Hamner appears willing to bow to Daala’s iron will–at the expense of the Jedi Order.

But an even greater threat is looming. Millennia in the past, a Sith starship crashed on an unknown low-tech planet, leaving the survivors stranded. Over the generations, their numbers have grown, the ways of the dark side have been nurtured, and the time is fast approaching when this lost tribe of Sith will once more take to the stars to reclaim their legendary destiny as rulers of the galaxy. Only one thing stands in their way, a name whispered to them through the Force: Skywalke  Goodreads.com

 

 

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How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

If your cat is kneading you, that’s not a sign of affection. Your cat is actually checking your internal organs for weakness. If your cat brings you a dead animal, this isn’t a gift. It’s a warning. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You is an offering of cat comics, facts, and instructional guides from the creative wonderland at TheOatmeal.com.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You presents fan favorites, such as “Cat vs. Internet,” “How to Pet a Kitty,” and “The Bobcats,” plus 17 brand-new, never-before-seen cat jokes. A pullout poster is included at the back of the book. Goodreads.com

 

 

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Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge: The gripping true story that inspired the movie

“When we go into combat, Doss, you’re not comin’ back alive. I’m gonna shoot you myself!”
The men of the 77th Infantry Division couldn’t fathom why Private Desmond T. Doss would venture into the horrors of World War II without a single weapon to defend himself.

“You’re nothing but a coward!” they said. But the soft-spoken medic insisted that his mission was to heal, not kill.

When Desmond knelt by his bunk to pray, his fellow soldiers hurled boots and insults at him. Even his commander wanted to throw him out of the army. But when his unit arrived on the battlefield, the intrepid medic quickly proved he was no coward.

One terrifying day in the vicious battle for Okinawa, dozens of Desmond’s former tormenters lay wounded and bleeding atop Hacksaw Ridge. As Japanese bullets rained down, their fate seemed hopeless.

Could one unarmed man save their lives?

This page-turner will keep you riveted to your seat as you discover how Desmond Doss became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. Desmond’s dramatic true story of integrity, redemption, and heroism will inspire you to live by the courage of your convictions. Goodreads.com

 

emily

All About Emily

Theater legend Claire Havilland fears she might be entering the Sunset Boulevard phase of her career. That is, until her manager arranges a media appearance with her biggest fan–a famous artificial intelligence pioneer’s teenage niece. After precocious Emily’s backstage visit, Claire decides she’s in a different classic film altogether. While unnaturally charming Emily swears she harbors no desire for the spotlight, Claire wonders if she hasn’t met her very own Eve Harrington from All About Eve. But the story becomes more complex as dreams of fame give way to concerns about choice, free will, and identity.

With this long, 17,000 word novelette, acclaimed author Connie Willis combines the glamour of old Hollywood and the eternal allure of Broadway to explore the cutting edge robotics of a richly-imagined near future. All About Emily is sure to join ‘The Last of the Winnebagos,’ ‘Inside Job’ and ‘All Seated on the Ground’ as one of multiple-award-winner Willis’ seminal works.  Goodreads.com

 

Short

Short

Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive – one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins – and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

–from Goodreads.com.

Saturdays at Sea

Saturdays at Sea

I am so sad this is the last Castle Glower book! I love the Castle (and now the Ship) and Celie and the griffins. In this final book the family is headed to Grath to meet Lulath’s parents and introduce them to his betrothed Lilah. They are also taking the ship parts they found in the last book to seaside Grath to assemble since Sleynth is a landlocked country. Because the Ship is made of parts of the Castle, as well as parts from several other countries, it comes alive just like the Castle. On the maiden voyage it takes Celie, Rolf, Lilah, Lulath, Pogue, Queen Celina, the griffins and the crew exactly where it wants to go. They have no control over the course of the ship as they head straight for disaster at The Well of the World.

I love this series and this was a fantastic ending. It has all the wit and charm of the others in the series. Celie has grown up quite a bit since the first book in the series. She has become the expert on all things Castle and griffins. The ship wasn’t quite as fun as the Castle but it was still a wonderful adventure. I loved that it set out to find Rolf’s true love. I also loved killer unicorns! Seriously…killer unicorns.

As Brave As You

As Brave As You

Brothers Ernie and Genie are spending their summer with their grandparents in rural Virginia while their parents go to Jamaica to work on their relationship. The boys are not sure what to expect in the country, but it is certainly different than Brooklyn. Grandma makes them get up EARLY and pick peas, which Genie HATES, and do other chores like scooping dog poop. Ernie only met his grandparents once when he was very young and Genie has never met them. It seems Grandpop and their father had a falling out and dad refuses to talk to Grandpop. The boys learn some of the family secrets while staying with their grandparents. They learn that their uncle Wood died fighting in a war. They learn that Grandpop is blind and seldom leaves the house. They learn about Grandpop’s family who used to live in the woods behind the house. Throughout the summer, the boys get used to life in the country and with their grandparents. Ernie falls in love with Tess, the girl down the hill. Genie tries to right a couple of wrongs he has done to both Grandma and Grandpop. And they both grow closer to their family.

I loved this book. I listened to the audio and it is excellent. Guy Lockard does a wonderful job with the voices. I thought he got Grandma and Tess mixed up a couple of times, or maybe they just sounded an awful lot alike. I loved, loved, loved the relationship between Genie and Ernie. It was exactly how you think brothers should act towards each other. They are protective of one another, but can pick on each other just like siblings are supposed to do. I also loved how Genie and Grandpop got close during the summer. Their relationship was the highlight of the book. I was afraid the ending was going to disappoint, but Reynolds pulled us through the tough spots and gave us the ending we needed.

I would definitely recommend this one for either audio or regular reading. Jason Reynolds is definitely a voice to watch in middle grade fiction. His characters and stories are authentic and fantastic.

Honor Girl

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir

The summer she is fifteen, Maggie is attending the same summer camp in Appalachia she has always attended. It is a camp out in the middle of nowhere and she does the basic camp things. This summer she is working on completely her rifle award and finds she is an excellent shot. During a lice inspection she gets a bit closer to counselor Erin and realizes she has feelings for her. Maggie doesn’t really know what to do with the fact that she likes a girl and that girl is older. Some of her friends are very supportive, but she does have a few issues with other campers. Because Erin is older there are some issues about actually having a relationship. Maggie struggles with coming out and her feelings for Erin. This is based on the authors actual experiences of realizing she was a lesbian during summer camp in the 1990s. It is a fairly typical coming out story with very little drama or trauma. I also found it a typical first crush on an older love interest story.

Victory

Victory

This is the final book in the Resistance trilogy and the stakes are higher than ever. The Tessier family are all in the resistance and doing their part in some way. Sylvie is dating a German soldier in order to gain information. Marie has found an injured pilot and they are hiding him from the Germans and the collaborators in their town. Paul travels to Paris on a dangerous mission and is reunited with Henri. This book really shows how fragmented the resistance movements were and how some of them did not agree with giving Charles de Gaulle power over them or credit for their successes. However, the Americans are in the war and the tide is changing. The Germans are on the run, but are still determined to create as much death and destruction as possible before leaving. This has been a really good series showing the French resistance during WWII, not a subject that is often covered in literature for this age group.

Defiance

Defiance

Book two of Resistance shows just how involved children were in the Nazi resistance in France during WWII. The Tessier children, Paul, Sylvie, and Marie, all play roles for the resistance groups. Sylvie starts dating a German soldier in order to gain information. Paul continues to draw anti-Nazi propaganda posters and hang them about town. The resistance is hiding in the mountains and at one point Paul joins them and learns more about what life in the resistance is like. The most interesting aspect of this story continues to be the collaborators. How many were collaborating to survive, to help the resistance and how many were collaborating for their own benefit?

Resistance

Resistance

Resistance is the first of a trilogy on the French Resistance during WWII. In this story we meet Paul and his sister Marie. Their father is a prisoner of war and their family has taken over a hotel owned by a Jewish family. They live in the “free” part of France and haven’t seem much of the war. That all changes one day when the Germans come and start rounding up the Jews and take over the hotel. Their friend Henri manages to escape the Nazis, but his parents are not so lucky. The kids enlist the help of the local resistance to find Henri parents in Paris.

I did think the ending of this story was a bit too easy. There wasn’t really any conflict for the most part and the explanation for Henri’s parents being in Paris was never given. However, I did enjoy the story and especially appreciated the fact that it showed how ordinary citizens could be complicit in the occupation.

Lumberjanes 4

Lumberjanes Vol. 4: Out Of Time by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, & Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen Illustrator

Camp counselor Jen wants a normal day with her cabin.  Unfortunately, a supernatural blizzard strikes and Jen is abducted by wolf/reindeer hybrids.  Then a mysterious camper from the past rescues Jen – or is it a hostage situation? The Lumberjanes are told to go back to camp and let the camp director handle the matter.  Do they listen?

17910054

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.

In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, The New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human. goodreads.com

 

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Nerve

Vee doesn’t know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever’s behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it’s easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it’s thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE   Goodreads.com

 

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But Seriously: An Autobiography

Over a decade after his #1 bestselling book You Cannot Be Serious, John McEnroe is finally back and ready to talk once again. Since his hit book, he’s maintained a huge presence announcing at tennis’s majors, has guest starred in TV shows like 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and has been competing on the court, winning ATP Tour of Champions tournaments and playing in special events, exhibitions, and charity events around the globe. The beloved, controversial, and respected tennis legend reveals even more from his life and career with the signature style that has made him the enduring cultural figure and icon he is. Goodreads.com

 

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The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter

One of Michiko Kakutani’s (New York Times) top ten books of 2016

A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We’ve begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog.

David Sax has uncovered story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who’ve found a market selling not apps or virtual solutions but real, tangible things. As e-books are supposedly remaking reading, independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country. As music allegedly migrates to the cloud, vinyl record sales have grown more than ten times over the past decade. Even the offices of tech giants like Google and Facebook increasingly rely on pen and paper to drive their brightest ideas.

Sax’s work reveals a deep truth about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with first-rate reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life-and the robust future of the real world outside it.  Amazon.com

 

Indignation

Indignation

What impact can American history have on the life of the vulnerable individual? It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio’s Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at the local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hard-working neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad–mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy. As the long-suffering, desperately harassed mother tells her son, the father’s fear arises from love and pride. Perhaps, but it produces too much anger in Marcus for him to endure living with his parents any longer. He leaves them and, far from Newark, in the midwestern college, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.–From publisher’s description.

My two cents: This book left an impact not only on my mind, but my heart. The perspective in which it was told from made the story come to life and the perils of death real to the reader. The book covers a range of topics, which still hold relevance today, making this book timeless. Topics such as, divorce, mental illness, war, religion and love. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in refocusing on what really matters in this world.

purrfect r

A Purrfect Romance by Jennifer Blake; Robin Lee Hatcher; Susan Wiggs

Three tales of romance with a cat playing a leading role in each tale – how could I resist? Well the stories were nice, 4 out of 5 stars.  In the first story, the heroine deep befriendment of a swamp panther gets her stigmatized by the local residents.  However, the hero a winning duelist sees the courage of this woman and marries, both out of love and to get her away from the locals – who now see her as a witch.

The second story features an angel in the guise of a cat, who brings together a woman and a man whose paths otherwise would Not have crossed, but who are “purrfect” for each other.    I did like this one.

The last tale was set in “Arthurian” times.  The protagonist is a shapeshifter who could turn into a cat.  Her father wants to marry her off before he leaves to fight in Uther Pendragon’s wars.  Unfortunately the locals in their clan aren’t suitable in her estimation.  So in cat form she leads a mercenary into her clan.   I was dismayed to see her burn her shapeshifting shift at the end – at her father & husband’s urging – but then glad to learn it was another shift, and she hides her shapeshifting gown/outfit to save for her daughter!