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Phasma Star Wars by Delilah S. Dawson Book CoverHello, my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Adjunct Evening Librarian Whit Preston here with a book review for a novel of arguably one of the greatest science-fiction series of all time, better known as Star Wars.  This fill-in-the-cracks story takes place before the movie Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  Its focus is mainly on Captain Phasma, a stormtrooper recognizable for her physical presence and for her custom-made silver chrome Stormtrooper armor.  This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of her ruthlessness as a warrior and soldier.

Be Forewarned:  There will be minor spoiler alerts in the following paragraphs!

Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson is essentially two categories of fiction: throughout the book, you are given a character origin story about Captain Phasma and there are also elements of wilderness survival.  There are also some elements of science fiction, such as automated robots, spaceships, and militarily superior weapons-clad soldiers, to name a few.

The setting is mainly the planet Parnassos, a once-thriving mining planet where Captain Phasma and her warrior-tribe kindred reside.  The area of the planet where Phasma lives was decimated by an accident likely caused by the mining operations on the planet.

The nonsequential nature of the story might deter some readers from considering picking this story.  At the beginning of each chapter, there is a heading that allows one to be informed as to when in the Star Wars timeline the chapter is taking place.

Within the story, there exists two different stories: the story of Phasma and the story of Cardinal, a crimson-armored Stormtrooper responsible for training the youth soldiers “recruited” by The First Order.  Those who have followed the Star Wars films and books know that The First Order has been notorious for conscripting able-bodied youth boys and girls into its military.

The story does an excellent job of keeping small plot surprises throughout, one that is especially repulsive, but if I mention it, it would make the story less enjoyable if you ever want to read it yourself.  At the very least, I will say that throughout the story, the reader is given an idea of how savage Captain Phasma is in regards of her ruthlessness for her own self-preservation.

This book is NOT available within the Gaston College Library’s collection.  However, there are numerous science-fiction titles available for checkout, many of which are part of the year-long list of books that pertain to a specific assignment for the ENG 112 classes that involve reading a science-fiction story and relating it to a real-world social issue.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts and also remember to stop by any of the three libraries to see what is available.

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GC Lib Disp Nov 2017 Cybersecurity AwarenessHello, my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Adjunct Evening Librarian Whit Preston here wanting to let you know that I have recently placed a new display of books for everyone to enjoy.  The focus for this display is Cyber security Awareness, and the books range from books about cyber crime to cyber racism.  I did not even know that cyber racism was a term until I searched the library catalog, but I guess it goes to show that no matter how much we try to learn, there is always more out there than we could imagine.

Here is the complete list of books, as well as, some interesting websites and some Films on Demand.  Please stop by to view the collection and consider checking out any of the books that are part of this and other collections.

 

November 2017→ Cyber Security Awareness

Websites

Cyber Security & Information Systems Information Analysis Center→ https://www.csiac.org/event/national-cyber-security-awareness-month/2017-10-01/

United States Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Security Awareness Month→

https://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month

 

Books

E 184 .A1 D244 2009, Cyber racism: white supremacy onine and the new attack on civil rights / Jessie Daniels

HV 6432 .V47 2003, Black ice: the invisible threat of cyber-terrorism / Dan Verton

HV 6773 .G74 2012, This machine kills secrets: how WikiLeakers, cypherpunks, and hacktivists aim to free the world’s information / Andy Greenberg

HV 6773 .H33 2014, Hacking and hackers / Margaret Haerens

HV 6773 .H554 2016, Introduction to cybercrime: computer crimes, laws, and policing in the 21st century / Joshua Hill

HV 6773 .J32 2010, Teen cyberbullying investigated: where do your rights end and consequences begin? / Thomas A. Jacobs

HV 6773 .M395 2009, Cyber bullying: protecting kids and adults from online bullies / Samuel C. McQuade

HV 6773.15 .C92 C935 2015, Cyberbullying / Lauri S. Scherer

QA 76.9 .A25 H44 2016, Cybersecurity / Melissa Higgins

QA 76.9 .A25 S45 2014, Cybersecurity and cyberwar: what everyone needs to know / P.W. Singer

TK 1025 .K67 2015, Lights out: a cyberattack: a nation unprepared: surviving the aftermath / Ted Koppel

U 163 .H37 2014, @WAR: the rise of the military-Internet complex / Shane Harris

UG 593 .Z48 2014, Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the launch of the world’s first digital weapon / Kim Zetter

V 63 .H66 W55 2004, Grace Hopper: admiral of the cyber sea / Kathleen Broome Williams

 

Films on Demand

Cybercrime: The Invisible Threat / Ways Press International

Cybercrime Methods / TEDTalks: Mikko Hypponen—Fighting Viruses, Defending the Net / TED

Cybercrime: World Wide War 3.0 / Ways Press International

Internet Security Specialist / Career Q&A: Professional Advice and Insight / Cambridge Educational

 

GC Lib Disp Sept 2017 Banned BooksHello, my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Adjunct Evening Librarian Whit Preston here, and I know that it has been a few months since I last posted anything.  I am not going to write a book review this time, but I do want to highlight the current display of books.  The focus of this display is Banned Books Week, and consists of classic and recent works that have been challenged or banned for a variety of reasons.  Some of the stories have been challenged for their depictions of violence and some have been banned for their portrayal of human maladies such as drug addiction, and of course, there are other reasons for the books being scrutinized.

However, beneath all of the controversy caused by these works, there exist stories that can kindle the imagination and challenge the conventional knowledge of our perceptions and existence.

As always, these books are available for checkout for anyone who has a library card.  Until next time, please continue to visit the library as well as the library website and databases.

Hello, my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Adjunct Evening Librarian Whit Preston here with a book review of a story by an author whom many consider to be one of the greatest American authors.  The fact that he was born in the southeastern United States is also commendable, considering that many of you are living in North Carolina, if not the southeastern United States.

The book I am about to review does also have an Oscar-winning film of the same name, whose release date was 1983.  And although I could not complete this novel, I did read enough to know its worth and noteworthy contribution to literature.

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe is essentially news-like non-fiction with the ability to also portray the necessary elements of a great story.  Essentially, Wolfe has been able to document the earliest form of United States Navy jet fighters and then progressively moves toward a minute demographic of qualified men within an already distinguished select group.  These very few select men became the first American astronauts.

No details are left unmentioned, and for anyone who might be squeamish with regard to smells, death, and explosions, this novel will not be right for you.  Such physical things as body organs are not quite at the forefront of the story.  However, the risk of fighter pilots being seriously injured during the emergency ejection process is described in detail.  The book does do an excellent job of giving an overall sense of experiential being to the characters themselves.  At the story’s essence is such rare experiences as the astronauts describing what it felt like to travel to Earth’s moon.

For this particular book reviewer, the story did not grab my attention like other stories similar to it.  However, everyone reading this should realize that I do not always focus well when it comes to reading some material.  This just happened to be one such book.

Until next time, please continue to stop by the Gaston College Libraries to see what new books and library materials are available.

Please also be sure to take a bit of time out of your day on Monday, August 21 to experience the partial solar eclipse that everyone in the general Charlotte area will be able to see.  And above all else, please be sure to use protective solar glasses if you do end up watching the eclipse.

Hello, my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers.  Evening Librarian Whit Preston here with a book review that is meant to include one of the Lease Books within the collection at the Morris Library of Gaston College.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept of lease books, the essential idea is that the library is able to “rent” a set of books.  Any of the items that the library would like to purchase can be done as so, and any of the unwanted items can then be returned to the book seller.

The book that I want to review today was written by an author that is near and dear to me.  When I was in seventh grade, I remember seeing the movie version of Jurassic Park. Due to a reading assignment and the encouragement of my sister, who had read the original novel, I decided to give it a shot, too.  Needless to say, my mind was blown away by the subtle differences between the movie and the novel, and I experienced a life-changing moment of sorts.  I knew that reading for pleasure was as much an escape from the real world as any other hobby possible.

DragonTeeth by Michael Crichton Book CoverIn many ways, Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton is a “germ” that could be said to have inspired Crichton to write Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  A 1974 correspondence letter between Crichton and the curator of vertebrate paleontology of the American Museum of Natural History is a key reason for the creation of Dragon Teeth, whose main focus is the earliest times of paleontology in the United States.

The novel’s setting is the United States of America in 1876, and the main character is William Johnson, a well-to-do Yale student whose future is uncertain.  Yet like all humans, his ego gets the best of him when he wagers a $1,000 bet with a fellow student.  The conditions of the bet: Johnson must travel to the Badlands of the Montana Territory with a professor of paleontology by the name of Dr. Othniel Charles Marsh and successfully return from the expedition.

What follows is a tale that cannot be exclusive to any particular genre of fiction.  The story is based on the real-life rivalry between Dr. Marsh and Dr. Edward Drinker Cope, whose expedition Johnson later joins due to some startling revelations about the true nature of Dr. Marsh.  Because there are real-life characters that are part of the novel and the fact that the majority of the story takes place in the Northwestern United States, the specific genre must be historical Western fiction.  The arduous task of getting to the Montana Badlands combined with the working conditions inherent with that region make for an interesting environment in which Dr. Cope, Johnson and his fellow classmates must endure.  The Montana Badlands are known for being dry and consisting of a geologic strata similar to what may be found within a coal mine.

The story is further enriched by the inclusion of other people, places and events of the United States in the 1870’s, but this is secondary to the storytelling.  Like most Westerns, the characters must travel by horse, wagon, or train and expect the possibility of encountering warring Indian tribes.

At the end of the novel are a few nice additions, such as a bibliography of newspaper articles and relevant books that assisted Crichton in writing his novel.

Please be sure to stop by the library, especially if you are interested in reading Dragon Teeth or any of the other Lease Books.

It by Stephen King Book CoverHello, my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Well, aren’t you going to say hello? For those of you who have read the book I am about to review or seen the TV mini-series from the early 1990’s, you will likely understand the previous reference.

I never thought in a million years that this novel would receive nothing more than a casual glance by me.  As I have probably mentioned in past posts, the horror genre of literature is one of the least visited ones for me other than Westerns.  Part of the reason stems from the fact that I do not typically like to be scared. However, considering that the book I am about to review is being remade into a theatrical feature, my curiosity peaked.  From time to time, I enjoy reading a novelization of some books that have a film counterpart, typically before the film itself is released.

The book I am reviewing today is a doozie, not only for its scope, but also for its length. Depending on which format you read, the number of pages can range anywhere from 1098 pages to 1500 pages.  Be forewarned:  while I will attempt to not reveal any spoilers, there is no guarantee that this review will omit key plot points.  Realize also that this is not a book for anyone who gets easily offended.  For anyone who has doubts about the content of It by Stephen King, I highly encourage you to read the “Tags” section of this review.  This is definitely NOT a novel that anyone younger than 15 should be reading, and that may even be a stretch.

The story of It is mainly a coming-of-age story about the Losers Club, a group of kids living in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. One summer, amidst not only the awkwardness of puberty but also the onslaught of a group of boy teen misfits led by Henry Bowers, the Losers’ Club encounters It, also known as Pennywise the Clown, a shape-shifting malevolent entity. Each main character comes into contact with It at various times throughout the novel, and the climax ends with the Losers’ Club confronting It as adults in the 1980’s.

The only negative aspect of this novel that deserves mention is that the story alternates back and forth from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, but this could also be dependent upon each reader’s personal preferences.

For fans of horror, this is without a doubt required reading, and it would seem strange if you are a horror genre fan and you have NOT read this novel yet.

And yet underneath all of the gross-out gore, profanity, racism, and the darker side of the human psyche lies the essence of all great stories:  believable yet flawed characters, excellent antagonists that which the reader may still sympathize, and a nasty shape-shifting villain whose demise is yet unknown to this particular reader.  I have about 200 or so pages left until my journey through this novel is complete.

What is quite possibly the best part of this novel is that there is a certain poignancy to the main characters.  Ben Hanscom, who as a child is heavyset and a hopeless romantic, is able to surprise anyone who tries to hurt any of the Losers Club members.

I would dare go far enough to say that this is one of the best novels I have ever read, easily making my Top 20 all-time favorite reads list.  Did this story scare me?  Yes.  Were there times when I read it but probably should not have and thus had nightmares?  You bet! Was I entertained while reminded of the awkward yet innocent times of childhood and yesteryear?  That deserves a resounding YES!

It by Stephen King is available for checkout at the Morris Library and is part of the Summer Reading display.  Please stop by during the library’s hours of operation to see what is available.

 

GC Lib Disp May-July 2017 Website BannerHello, once again my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers! Evening Librarian Whit Preston here once again to bring you an announcement regarding the current library display.  With the general population of the United States experiencing warmer temperatures, there of course comes many time-honored traditions.  Not only is baseball in full swing but individuals and families are traveling to a variety of places.  And naturally, the time to read books, especially for leisure, is evidently here.

With that being said, I would like to include my rationale for choosing the specific selection of books, which can be found at the following web address:  http://www.gaston.edu/library/2017-summer-reading/.  The simple keyword search “Best Summer Reading Books” returned a great many results from which to choose.  One of the initial common threads I utilized was finding duplicity across the results.  For example, if both National Public Radio’s Best Summer Reads of All Time and the New York Public Library’s Staff Picks included Dune by Frank Herbert, I strongly considered choosing that particular title.  Additionally, I tried to include literature that covered a variety of audiences, whether it be material for adults or works of nonfiction.  One that immediately comes to mind is Bugs, Bogs, Bats, and Books: Sharing Nature with Children Through Reading by Kathleen T. Isaacs.  My great hope for everyone is that I did a stellar job providing an inclusive selection of the Gaston College Libraries’ print books, audiobooks, and eBooks.

I would like to end my post by encouraging everyone to stop by the libraries to see what is available within the current Summer Reading selection.  There might be some which many have already read, but several of the novels have been published within the last 5-10 years.  That’s all for now! The next post that I will write will be about It, a novel from a genre into which I rarely venture:  horror.