Books that someone else says you have to read, part 2: going the library.

I try to break this up into bits so that each post does not turn into a small novel, but when I embarked on my reading list I almost bought To Kill A Mockingbird.  The problem is what if I didn’t want to keep it on my shelf? I refused to finish it fourteen years before.  I decided it was time to practice what I preach, and head for the library.  

Firstly, we have to establish my motivation.  I told the part about the movie where a character is tearing through a reading list, and I read quite a bit as well, but I was at Barnes & Noble performing one of my favorite summer rituals, looking at the wall of summer reading books from the lists.  I always like to see what the state says the youth should be reading for better or for worse.  However, it makes me happy and so I do it.  Some obvious winners are seen!!!The Scott Westerfield books are something I read when they were new, and am really happy to see them suggested to a new generation

Anyhow, that’s when it was time to start the list, and when I talked myself out of buying a book I was not sure I would like.  To the library.  This is the fun part though.  I went to the Marlborough Public Library…which I was sure I took pictures of…have to get one offline. 

Now knowing that To Kill A Mockingbird is THE American Classic, and knowing that the reading lists are out, I proudly marched into the library and asked for a copy.  To be laughed at by librarians is a new experience.  Of course I should have realized that every copy was checked out by the students who actually have to do summer reading…

Luckily libraries can now order copies from each other, and email you that your book is in! However I did feel rather silly…but I got to take the miniature me to the kid’s library!

Ganger-Bjorn

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Aftermath: Journey to the Force Awakens: Star Wars

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This book by Chuck Wendig is a part of the new Star Wars canon.  As I have said before, I am glad that they are giving the new movies a newly ordered canon.  I know many people are angry that the novels that were perviously canon are now just classified as legends and are no longer a part of the official storyline.

This book takes place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.  It is part of a series that will lead to the new movies and clear up how the galaxy laid out after Return of the Jedi.

This book earns two and a half to three stars.  The characters are forgettable (perhaps further books will redeem them) and the plot is slow moving, but that is the point.  The books treasure lies in the fact that the main story is just a pretense for putting in all the details about the larger Star Wars universe.  The entire purpose of this book (and probably the others) is to lay out the state of the New Republic, The Empire, and The Alliance and how we passed the time between movies.

With that in mind it gets the three stars for appealing to information, canon, and lore junkies like myself, but still remains mediocre at best.  It is not supposed to tell a good small story–and with the exceptions of the escapades of the droid Mr. Bones–it does not tell a good small story, it is supposed to be filler material.  It does enrich the viewing of The Force Awakens if you thought the movie was just a copy of episode four, but beyond that it is a mediocre at best book.  I really only recommend it to true junkies.  2.5/3 stars.

Hrolf The Ganger

Tarken By: James Luceno ** Book Review **

 With the new Star Wars movie on the way a question quickly arose.  Since the movie is taking place after the original trilogy, what happens to all of the books and such that were written about that time period?  Well to the great anger of many, and my personal joy the answer was simple.  None of those books count any more.  Not even a little bit.  Unceremoniously booted out of the canon.  This makes me happy.  There are a ton of those books, and given that a lot of them came out when I was in elementary school or before, it simplifies my life to have a whole new canon that also reflect the newer movies.  Here is your canon now as I understand it.  All the movies, the clone wars, the Star Wars comics currently being published by Marvel (awesome if you wanted to know), Rebels, and when I started this there were four novels.  It is about one of those novels that I am here to review now.

Tarken is a story set before the events of Episode IV: A new hope.  It centers around a time when the Death Star (not yet named) is being constructed under the supervision of Moff Tarken.  James Luceno has done a splendid job of fleshing out the life of Wilhuff Tarken.  Taken bought the big chicken dinner at the end of Episode IV, so he has always been one of those great characters that there was just not enough of.  Taken crops back up in Clone Wars here and there, but with this novel we finally get the full dose of Moff We were hoping for.  If you account for the fact that he spends the book running around with Darth Vader, well to an Imperial fan thats just plain awesome.  As with all of the Star Wars novels (new ones) I’ve gotten through so far the story is really just filler.  The entire book is an excuse to tell Tarken’s life story and allow you to see it applied to a filler story.  I am more than a little ok with this.  Whoever Tarken applies the Imperial justice too is fine by me really, it is the history I am after.

Final words:  in no way does this book disappoint, Easy A+ for me.

Hrolf The Ganger

**Note** with school and such keeping tabs on my time, I listened to this on audio book from audible.  The Narrator Euan Morton was great.

The Billion Dollar Spy, By David E. Hoffman. **Book Review**

 This blog is called Books Brass and the Bear for a reason.  If you have seen the pictures of (or been inside of my home) you will know that, well…books.  All the books.  Books by the ton.  BOOKS.  There is obviously not a bear in my house, thats just my rather high opinion of myself (I’ve come to terms with it.)  Heaven help you when we get to the part of brass…

Anyhow lets talk books again.  Books.  I am sorry I just enjoy saying the word at this point.   BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKSSSSSSSSSSSS….

Here is your actual review.  Now that I am sitting here, it occurs to me that I am uncertain of how to write a general book review without giving it all away or just saying here read this.

While perusing the local Barnes and Noble history section recently I encountered this.  Here are a couple of facts about me.  I love first edition hard backs, my wallet is not as crazed about them.  It prefers to wait for a soft back, to buy used on eBay, or try a particularly shady book out with a free credit generated monthly by my audible account.  This book did not meet the criteria of “save money and do not take me home right this moment.”  This book was ripped from the shelf and taken home and I was not disappointed.

The book centers around Adolf Tolkachev, and the time he spent as a spy for the United States during the cold war in The Soviet Union.  This book was extremely well researched and not only covers the events described (and holy wow they have pictures) but does a marvelous job of setting the context for what it took to be a spy or an American intelligence operative inside of The Soviet Union.  There is not a single loose detail in this book and it was hands down one of the most satisfying reads I have had in a while.  Satisfying like a ham and cheese sandwich with a cup of coffee is supposed to be.  I do not want to give it away, but I will say that if you enjoy Tom Clancy, you will love this, and it is non fiction.  I will also say that this book should leave you believing the world to be a little less bright for the loss of some of the people in it and the contributions made for the fight against the red menace.  It details not just how Tolkachev turned and what he did, but his motivations, the lengths he went to, his great love for his family, with tidbits thrown in about actual spy gear, and the fact that every American combat aviator who ever had to fly against a piece of Soviet designed air power, owes their respect, and their lives to Adolf Tolkachev.

The Bear’s rating on this book, A+.

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