Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

Alright folks! We are officially one week away from the biggest film release this year: Star Wars: The Last Jedi! To help you prepare for this monumental event, we've pulled together a list of just some of the hundreds of awesome Star Wars items in our collection.

To start with, we have all of the previous movies on DVD: the original trilogy (consisting of A New Hope, The Empire Strike Back and Return of the Jedi), the prequel trilogy (consisting of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith), The Force Awakens, and Rogue One. All of these movies are also available on Blu-Ray.

Kids have lots of movie options as well. First on the list is the Clone Wars television series and the Clone Wars Lost Missions, as well as the stand-alone movie The Clone Wars. We also have multiple seasons of the television series Star Wars Rebels, as well as the stand-alone movie Rebels: Spark of Rebellion. The LEGO Star Wars movies are also popular, consisting of The Empire Strikes Out, the New Yoda Chronicles, Padawan Menace, and Droid Tales. LEGO Star Wars has a television series as well, called The Freemaker Adventures.

We have many of the soundtracks from the Star Wars films and television shows, including those for A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Clone Wars. A soundtrack of the original trilogy is available here, and a CD of instrumental solos is available here.

We have tons of kids books about Star Wars. For babies, we have board books such as Epic Yarns: A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. Picture books include BB-8 on the Run and Han and Chewie Return!. For children just learning to read, we have Readers such as Are Ewoks Scared of Stormtroopers?, Death Star Battle, R2-D2 and Friends, and Jedi Heroes. Chapter books for kids include Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy, Rise of the Rebels, and Before the Awakening. Star Wars comic books are very popular, and include The Original Trilogy, Crash Course, Jedi Academy, and Star Wars Adventures. Nonfiction reads include The Amazing Book of Star Wars, 5 Minute Star Wars Stories, Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Ultimate Star Wars, The Star Wars Craft Book, and Incredible Cross-Sections. We even have Star Wars books for kids in languages other than English, such as the Spanish language book La Guerra de los Clones Aventuras.

For a full list of Star Wars children's books, see these public lists: Star Wars Readers, Star Wars Chapter Books, Star Wars Graphic Novels for Kids, Star Wars Nonfiction for Kids, and Star Wars Kids Books in World Languages.

Teens have plenty to choose from too. Most take the form of graphic novels, including The Clone Wars series, Knights of the Old Republic, Empire,Invasion, Kanan, and Legacy, although there are novels like Ahsoka and Rebel Rising as well. For a full list, see the public list Star Wars Books for Teens.

The adult collection is where you'll find many of the extended universe novels, both new and old. These include novels such as Bloodline, Dark Disciple, Jedi Trial, Honor Among Thieves, and the Legacy of the Force series. The adult collections are where you're likely to find film adaptations, such as The Phantom Menace and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. There are a ton of adult graphic novels, such as From the Ruins of Alderaan and Heroes for a New Hope. Adults also have interesting Star Wars nonfiction to choose from, in books such as Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, Where Science Meets Imagination, The Making of Star Wars and Year by Year: A Visual History. For a full list of adult Star Wars materials, see the public lists Star Wars Books for Adults and Star Wars Nonfiction for Adults.

Snow!

In celebration of this year's First snow, magic snow here are some books to get you into the snowy spirit that don't necessarily end with you singing along to the Frozen : soundtrack!

Into the snow, Snow! Snow! Snow!, Splat the Cat : blow, snow, blow, Skippyjon Jones. Snow what, and Pete the Cat : snow daze are cute books about kids and animals playing in the snow. In case you're looking for more of a classic story, here's a few more children's titles you might be interested in: Clifford's first snow day where Clifford the puppy, before he grow's up to be The Big Red Dog, encounters snow for the first time; take a trip with Mrs. Frizzle in The Magic school bus lost in the snow; and who can forget this wonderful classic of a kid enjoying snow in The snowy day.

For Teens, we have After the snow, a futuristic tale about a boy in search of his missing family during a new ice age. There is a retelling of the classic fairytale, Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, in Winter's child. Finally, in Snow-walker, we see a group rebelling against an evil ruler trying to control their land.

We even have a couple of cozy books for adults to, so you can warm up by the fires in the branches, or maybe with coffee or hot chocolate from Sweetwaters. First up, Wagging through the snow, a cute mystery where some adorable dogs are discovered at an abandoned house, right next to a dead body! Next we have another mystery, The Snow White Christmas cookie, this time involving a small town and a big cover-up. And finally, Dashing through the snow, a funny love story about a couple who get caught up in some strange scenarios during the holiday season.

Hope you enjoy the snow, because they say there's more to come this weekend! Cozy up in the library, or your favorite chair, with some of these books to warm you up!

The Empathy Exams

Leslie Jamison gets a job as a medical actor. She plays complex characters, women who are shy or embarrassed, or women who distrust doctors. Leslie assesses the medical students who interact with her. Do they wash their hands before the exam? Do the students ask important questions? Do they have empathy for their patients? The first essay of Leslie Jamison's book, The Empathy Exams, offers a view into a hidden world. How are doctors trained to empathize with patients? What does empathy mean to doctors? What does empathy mean to patients?

In her other essays, Jamison explores the idea of pain. How do people deal with chronic pain? Do people believe one another about their pain? How do doctors respond to pain? What kind of pain is "most important" or most recognized by society?

Jamison writes with tenderness and empathy about people in distress. The Empathy Exams is a beautiful portrait of agony in America that will keep you awake at night pondering the philosophy of pain.

Margaret Atwood on the small screen

Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel, Alias Grace, discloses the inner musings of a true-to-life Irish immigrant, Grace Marks, who was accused with and locked up in a Canadian penitentiary for killing her employer and his housekeeper. Grace’s story is given to us mostly through the interviews she has with Dr. Simon Jordan, a psychiatrist who has arrived at the penitentiary to determine Grace’s guilt or innocence. From Margaret Atwood’s able hands, we receive intricately drawn out details of the drudgery of a servant’s day, peppered with profound and beautiful observations about nature, God, men, and women. Born to serve, first her father, than various other households, Grace continues to serve through her crime. Her accusers, her co-conspirators, her defender, her jury, and the journalists who tell her story are all male. The action in Grace’s story belongs to the men who want to convey it. In order to own her narrative, Grace must rely on creating misconceptions, fugues, hallucinations, and evasions.
There are two threads running through this story at all times. The actual answers Grace gives to Simon’s many questions are interwoven with the answers she richly imagines providing. For his own part, Simon envisions a Grace different from the one who sits before him. “Grace’s will is of the negative female variety - she can deny and reject much more easily than she can affirm or accept. Somewhere within herself - he’s seen it, if only for a moment, that conscious, even cunning look in the corner of her eye - she knows she’s concealing something from him. As she stitches away at her sewing, outwardly calm as a marble Madonna, she is all the while exerting her passive stubborn strength against him. A prison does not only lock its inmates inside, it keeps all others out. Her strongest prison is of her own construction.”
Simon is excited by the possibility of Grace being a murderess. Though he is there to support her innocence, he can’t remove his own fantasies from Grace’s tale and therefore is unable to ascertain whether Grace is guilty of the crimes she has been charged with or not. “Murderess, murderess, he whispers to himself. It has an allure, a scent almost. Hot house gardenias. Lurid, but almost furtive. He imagines himself breathing it as he draws Grace toward him…”
Alias Grace has recently been made into a mini-series on Netflix. Showrunner Sarah Polley’s outstanding adaptation sticks closely to Atwood’s story (Atwood was a producer and has a small role in it). If you have a chance to watch it, I highly recommend it. What you won’t get from either Polley or Atwood are definitive answers as to the question of Grace’s guilt, but both work to convey the timeless struggle faced by women of how to have a voice.

New from Celeste Ng: Little Fires Everywhere

By now you've probably heard that Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You, has published her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere. Like Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere is focused on family intricacies. However, while her first book centered upon one family, Ng's latest work explores how two families become intertwined. Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio (an idyllic community that got its start as an envisioned utopia by its creator) in the 1990s, the book masterfully weaves together several storylines full of moral ambiguities.

Single mother Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive in Shaker Heights in the summer, looking for a place to rent. Although most spaces are out of their price range, local landlady and prominent Shaker Heights resident Elena Richardson takes a liking to them and rents them the upper half of a duplex that she owns. Pearl quickly befriends the Richardson children, who are all about her age, and Mia, an artist, begins working as a housekeeper for the Richardsons to help make rent money. Readers know from the very beginning that this close relationship between landlords and tenants is a ticking time bomb; the book opens with the Richardsons' house in flames and Mia and Pearl leaving town in the dead of night. Still, we can't help but cheer for all of the characters in the book who--although all flawed in their own ways--are mostly kind-hearted. As the book goes on, Mrs. Richardson begins to dig into Mia and Pearl's past and all of the characters become involved in a local scandal--some intentionally and others by accident.

Little Fires Everywhere, like Everything I Never Told You, showcases Ng's ability to create amazingly nuanced characters that tell a story that is thought-provoking in part because of its shocking believability. I did feel that this story wasn't quite as gut-wrenching as her first, mostly because the number of players in Little Fires Everywhere makes it so that readers cannot really get to know and understand any single one. Without a doubt, however, if you liked Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere is a must-read. And, if you're unfamiliar with Celeste Ng, now is the time to play catch up! I am already eagerly anticipating her third work.

A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother

The end of pregnancy is a strange time. You wait for the biggest change that can happen to a person other than death and yet, for most, you don’t know when the change will happen. When will the baby be born? When will a woman become a mother? When I was pregnant with my son, I read the title essay of A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother by Anna Prushinskaya probably 15 times. It became almost a talisman to me, a promise that he would eventually be born, that I would be able to cross over to motherhood.

In A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother, Prushinskaya writes beautifully about her experience balancing between places, between states: between pregnancy and motherhood, and between her Soviet homeland and her current home of Ann Arbor. Her essays range from parenthood to identifying local woody plants, and they are all gorgeous- sparse and lyrical.

I spoke with Prushinskaya about her experience writing the book, how motherhood has changed her as a writer, and the birth of her second son. Find our conversation on Pulp!

The Making of Jane Austen

At the time of Jane Austen’s death in 1817, no one but close family and friends knew that she was a published author. Fast forward to 1995: a wet-shirted Colin Firth, starring in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice miniseries, seemingly launches Austen into pop culture superstardom and initiates an Austen craze that has continued ever since.

We are now used to Jane Austen cosplay conventions, spin-off novels, and countless Austen-themed tchotchkes. But it’s worth asking the question: How did Austen go from complete anonymity to a cultural institution?

The answer to that question, Devoney Looser argues, starts long before Colin Firth. And, she continues, it often has less to do with Jane Austen herself than with how Austen has been interpreted—and invented—by readers, illustrators, playwrights, screenwriters, actors, activists, and teachers.

In her new book, The Making of Jane Austen, Looser sets out uncover the little-known parts of Austen’s legacy in British and American culture. She focuses on five areas: how Austen has been illustrated, adapted for the stage, adapted for the screen, politicized, and taught in schools.

Looser turns away from literary histories of Austen and instead focuses on equally important but long-neglected appearances of Austen in popular culture. What makes her book so enjoyable is that she strolls down the byways of history, tracking down obscure figures like the young women (yes, women) who played Mr. Darcy in early stage adaptations of Pride and Prejudice or the author of the first Jane Austen dissertation, who was supposedly channeled by a spirit medium after his untimely death. (You can’t make this stuff up, folks!)

If The Making of Jane Austen piques your interest, be sure to mark your calendar for Anne-Charlotte Mecklenburg’s talk, “Lights, Camera, Austen: the screen adaptations of Jane Austen” at Westgate Branch from 7-8:30pm on Wednesday, December 13th. And stay tuned for info about all our upcoming Jane Austen events this winter in partnership with the University of Michigan—Austen Trivia! Embroidery! English Country Dancing! Everything to satisfy the Austenian heart.

PreK Bits - "P" is for PERFECT PLANs

Ms Rachel brought African tales to Storytime.
Following troubles ... Each tale ended with a PERFECT PLAN.
HEAD, BODY, LEGS is a tale from Liberia. Head makes a perfect plan that gets all the body parts working together.
WOODY'S 20 Grow Big Songs has a recorded version of the song/game “Pick It Up”. We dropped our noses (and other parts) by accident. How embarrassing !! But we put othings back together. Knowing how to fix things is a good plan too!
LEOPARD’S DRUM is an Asanti Tale from West Africa. Tiny Turtle was the one who made a PERFECT PLAN.

For more tales with PERFECT PLANS try these favorites;
DOG And BEAR: Three To Get Ready … three plans that make good friends.
The SECRET PLAN … for bedtime.
SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN! … sometimes they work and sometimes you need to revise.
OH NO GEORGE! … sometimes it’s a poor plan.
JETHRO And JOEL WERE A TROLL … a Troll with two heads? Hoo boy! Who’s in charge? They need to make a better plan ….
The CARPENTER ... what do you do with a measuring tape? Make plans !!
OLLIE And CLAIRE ... hohum turns into fun when Claire makes a new plan.

Out in the Open

Jesús Carrasco's debut novel Out in the Open, offers a fresh take on primal survival.

Carrasco's novel opens with an unnamed boy hiding in a hole. If the boy is found, the hole could become his grave. We follow the boy as he runs from malignant forces. At first, the reader is not sure who the boy is running from, or why.

The boy travels through a desolate and unforgiving expanse; he struggles to find food and water. Eventually the boy meets a goat herder who helps him. The characters develop a relationship, and a ray of hope sprouts from Carrasco's somber story. The connection between the goat herder and the boy is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the novel. However, it is memorizing to follow the characters on their daily struggle to survive; it certainly makes our lives seem effortless in comparison.

Jesús Carrasco is from Spain. Out in the Open was originally written in Spanish. Margaret Jull Costa translated the text into English. Carrasco's novel has now been published in more than twenty countries and has received many accolades. Out in the Open won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2016, as well as an English PEN award.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #660

Reviewers are calling The Last Mrs. Parrish * * * by Liv Constantine (pen name of sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine) a "devilishly ingenious debut thriller." (Publishers Weekly)

Amber Patterson deserves more, definitely more than her impoverished upbringing, her dead-end jobs and the constant worry about money. She set her sights on Daphne and Jackson Parrish, a wealthy “golden couple” from Connecticut who is living the privileged life she wants.

Meticulously clever and ruthlessly manipulative, Amber moves to Bishops Harbor, and plots to insinuate herself into Daphne's life, and through her, to Jackson, the handsome, powerful real estate mogul. Before long, Amber is traveling to Europe with the Parrish family; and when she finds out Daphne’s failure to give Jackson a male heir is the main source of tension in the marriage, she knows what she needs to do to become the next Mrs. Parrish, that is as long as the skeleton in her closet does not lay waste to all that scheming.

Halfway through, the narrative is picked up by Daphne, and the readers will get a surprisingly different take on the story. Well, let's just say some women get everything and some women get everything they deserve.

"With a plot equally as twisty, spellbinding, and addictive as Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl or Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train, this is sure to be a hit with suspense fans."(Library Journal)

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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