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Ever wondered if all bats cause rabies?  Exactly how much food must a bat consume on a day-t0-day basis?  And why is Austin, Texas such a popular place for bats to congregate?  These are just a few of the questions answered by Merlin Tuttle, founder of Bat Conservation International and Ph.D. graduate in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Kansas.

The book does NOT read like a dissertation, but is interwoven with three genre formats: part narrative, part memoir, and part informative text.  One chapter discusses Tuttle’s experiences studying vampire bats, and within the chapter he tells of a young boy that essentially “befriended” one of the furry critters being studied, in very much the same way a person would raise a dog for the purposes of being used as a pet.  Yet within this same chapter he discusses the challenges he faced while using the netting to capture some of the bats, and also presents factoids such as the daily amount of guano produced by an individual bat.

Anyone interested in debunking preconceived notions and blanket stereotypes of bats should definitely consider giving this work of non-fiction a fair shot.  As with most works of fact, individual chapters can be chosen to read while others could be omitted.  In essence, an overall sense of being better informed can be accomplished, something that is paramount within the majority of works of literature.

Some of the information may feel a bit superfluous to the less detail-oriented reader, but there is something for everyone to enjoy.  And just as an all-you-can-eat buffet has a variety of food, so this book provides a plethora of situations involving the furry winged wonders of nature:  one chapter talks about cacti that have adaptive features conducive to attracting bats while another chapter discusses the obstacles and successes regarding the establishment of a national park for a specific species of bats in American Samoa.

Ultimately, this book is worth reading, if for nothing else than to browse a few chapters of interest.  The book is available for checkout for anyone with a Gaston College Library Card, and is part of the Summer Reading display located on the First Floor of the Morris Library.  I encourage everyone to stop by to see this book and others, as well.

Until next time, keep reading, and we hope to see you soon at our libraries!

Hello once again my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Evening Librarian Whit Preston here with another entry regarding my latest read.  The Summer season is upon us, and what better way to kick off the Summer Reading months than with a book review of a book written by the author whose pen name is Lemony Snicket.

Although the idea of Summer Reading is meant more for public libraries, I like to think that there are many of you who read works of fiction, non-fiction, and the like during this time of year.  The book I am reviewing today is a modern day rendition of a pirate story, but this is not necessarily what is stereotyped as piracy, that is, the plundering of treasure and terrorizing the high seas.  Rather, this is more about the greed we as humans can possess: greed for prosperity, greed for prestige, and greed for attention.

We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler essentially is a work of fiction that pertains to the Needles, a family that can be seen as dysfunctional yet redeemable.  The story’s central character, Gwen, is at a place in life that can consist of a roller coaster of emotions and one of the most awkward phases of human growth and development, also known as puberty.  At the story’s beginning, she gets caught in the act of shoplifting, and her parents decide to have her volunteer at an assisted living facility as punishment.  During that time, she befriends another girl who becomes her partner in crime, and they also begin to obsess about being pirates.

This is a story that begins innocently enough, but by the story’s end, many readers might become depressed by the events that transpire.  There are acts of violence that occur, but nothing terribly gruesome is described in detail.  But fear not, ye landlubbers!  The story does have a bittersweet ending, and is recommended for teens, adults, and older audiences.

That is all for the time being, but please stop by the library to see the Summer Reading display, as well as the Staff Picks and the New Releases sections.

Hello, my fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Evening Librarian Whit Preston here with some thoughts about a book that is somewhat themed around the May 2016 Library Display: The Great Outdoors.  When one thinks of being outside, such concepts as camping, hiking, and sunbathing at the beach all come to mind.  This is somewhat the case with today’s book-du-jour.

My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg can best be described as a memoir, which can essentially be categorized as narrative nonfiction.  A 56-year old Alabama native, Bragg recounts firsthand experiences he has had from his childhood to the present.  The majority of the stories have been published in Southern Living and Garden & Gun, both of which garner a hefty readership monthly.  Bragg’s ability as an expository writer is evident within each of this collection’s entries.  Some stories are bittersweet, yet many touch on a universal ideal: that of the experiences which live within every person that can be unique, definitive, and even awkward.  One particular story describes Bragg’s experiences with eating oysters not once, but several times throughout his life.  His unflinching honesty and tell-it-like-it-is approach to each story offers a certain level of humor but also a slice of life to the little things that make an individual appreciate the experiences that comprise a person’s existence.

Be forewarned:  this is not necessarily a cohesive overarching story, but rather vignettes about specific experiences of Rick Bragg.  However, each story has been categorized within a particular idea:  one group is titled “Home”, while another is titled “Place”.

This is a great book for both the born-and-bred Southerner, as well as those who originate from other areas of the United States and the world.

That is all for now!  The next post (perhaps the next two or more) will be themed around Summer Reading,  and will be drawn from books that have been released within the past two to three years.

Please feel free to post your own thoughts and comments, and as always, visit the Gaston College Libraries in-person or on our website!

Good sunny afternoon to all of you!  Evening Librarian Whit Preston here with a slightly different take on the book reviews.  The idea for this post is to mention a compilation of several books that I have read within the past two months and also to accentuate a dandy of a change to the area near our Reference Desk.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs-So this book, rather guide, is not one that has be read cover to cover.  That is not to say the content is lacking.  This is a great starting point for anyone interested in discovering the world of geekdom, especially for female geeks.  There is a chapter about the different cliques of geeks that range from The Lord of the Rings universe to Joss Whedon’s story franchises, among others.  Another chapter consists of the various nerdy conventions, ranging from comicbook conventions to LANwars (Local Area Network video game competitions) and beyond.  Interspersed throughout the book are interviews that Maggs has conducted with famous geek girls.  One such person is Ashley Eckstein, known not only for her voice actress portrayal of Ahsoka Tano on two television series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, but also for her clothing line themed after Star Wars and Doctor Who.

Monstrous Little Voices: New Tales from Shakespeare’s Fantasy WorldThis short story collection consisting of five yarns is twofold:  1)  a celebration of the plays of The Bard himself in that each writer has borrowed from a specific Shakespearean play’s characters and setting and 2) each author has created an original story of each’s own imagination.  This particular novel is not part of the Gaston College Library’s collection, however, there is a possibility that it may find its way within the recesses of the library stacks.

In the next several months, there will be a lot of great offerings available, some of which may be considered old hat, but others that are new.  As always, there will be my wonderful book display, whose theme for the month of May 2016 will be The Great Outdoors.  From the humorous mind of Rick Bragg to books about camping to books about The Gulf Stream, the set of books will go beyond the stereotypical works of fiction by going back to Mother Nature, during a time of year where a good and plenty number of people are savoring the bountiful pleasures of the elements of summertime.  Following that display will be the summer reading collection.  These will consist of books that have been  published within the past few years.

The final change that deserves mention is our newly purchased fixtures that will house several groups of book displays.  The signage atop each will indicate a corresponding category, such as: 1) New Releases and 2) Monthly Displays.  There is no guarantee that the signs will change frequently, but they will accent everything else nicely.

Until next time, please continue to peruse both the physical and Web-based quality content offered by our library, feel free to stop by for a visit, and remember to suggest any way the library can improve our services to you.  We look forward to hearing from all of you!

Hello, fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Evening Librarian Whit Preston here once again with a book review of a collection of short stories.

Africa39 is a great primer for anyone unfamiliar with African fiction. Additionally, many of the stories are excerpts from larger forthcoming novels.  One example that comes to mind is Why Radio DJ’s Are Superstars in Lagos, a story whose main character is born black but later is magically turned white except for his buttocks. Each story brings a certain purpose to the collection: some of the stories are simply the day-to-day interactions of the characters, and some attempt to tackle social issues such as the traffic nightmares in the city of Lagos, Nigeria.

This collection of stories should be praised if for no other reason than the fact that there is great difficulty in finding some of the stories in other collections. Many of the authors, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Dinaw Mingestu, have already acquired multiple accolades for their past literary accomplishments.  Additionally, due to the fact that this is a collection of short stories, the book can be selectively read yet the benefit from reading these stories will transport the reader to faraway locales while instilling a sense of enlightenment, especially considering that a majority of the stories are grounded within the confines of a majestic yet grounded version of Africa, both past and present.

The book is currently available for checkout at the Morris Library, along with the other books that comprise the display for Black History Month.

Hello, fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Evening Librarian Whit Preston here once again, but this time I am coming to you from the planet that is, was, er..farthest from!  While I am not literally at the furthest reaches of our own solar system, I am hoping that many of you were able to understand the joke that I was making.  As many of you may know, Pluto is no longer considered a planet, although even that is being debated by the scientific community.

However, the book I am reviewing today, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson, does chronicle the history of Pluto, an astronomy conundrum that will likely be debated for years to come.

The book has the formatting of a textbook, but the information is written in a comprehensible way.  Occasionally, an SAT power word will be included for good academic measure, and like all well-researched works of non-fiction, footnotes are included at the bottom of each page.  Several Appendices and a Bibliography help to round out the textbook’s overall scholastic appeal.

A lot of the information may seem trivial to some, yet others will enjoy deGrasse Tyson’s dry sense of humor as well as his ability to accept criticism for his scientific claims.

This book is available for checkout by anyone with a Gaston College library card.

Aftermath: Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Hello, fellow Gaston College Book Club followers!  Evening Librarian Whit Preston here once again for a review of a book that might appeal to some of you die-hard Star Wars fanatics.  As many of you might know, Disney has made the decision to separate the Expanded Universe into two different groups:  the Expanded Universe Legends is the first of these and is not considered canon.  The second group includes new stories that attempt to fill in the gaps between the six theatrical films and is thus considered canon.  And while each fan has their own feelings about this decision, we as a demographic must accept Disney’s decision for what it is.  The novel being reviewed below is considered part of the latter group.

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig is the first in a planned trilogy of stories that takes place shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi.  Essentially, Wedge Antilles is on a reconnaissance mission for the New Republic when he becomes marooned and captured by the Empire.  The captors are part of a group of Imperial military officials attempting to recuperate from the defeat at The Battle of Endor and essentially are in denial that the Emperor has been killed.

Although the story is roughly 350 pages, the pacing does not fully become rapid until about the last 100, and the first 200 pages are boring.  Anyone looking for the inclusion of the main heroes and surviving villains should look elsewhere.  Wedge Antilles is the closest original trilogy character to receive a moderate amount of mention, and even his character only receives several chapters of inclusion.

There are callbacks to a few staples within the Star Wars universe, one of which is a Battle Droid repurposed as one of the main character’s guardians.  A few short chapters include characters Admiral Ackbar, and Han Solo and Chewbacca, and this certainly is meant to be a “meanwhile in other parts of the galaxy…”-sort of plot filler, albeit one that will have many readers clambering for more.

This is a title that can only be recommended for those that need to pass the time until the new movies are released.  Otherwise, stick to the Star Wars: Shattered Empire graphic novels.  Luke Skywalker, among other main characters, are included enough within that story arc to where readers looking for the original trilogy characters will be deservedly treated.

There should be a copy of this novel available soon at the Gaston College Libraries.