Literary New To You January 2018 => Books you read this month
Andy Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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100 Years of Coast Guard Aviation!
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Bookish types love nothing more than a bibliography, especially book lists generated by like-minded (or not so like-minded) readers.

Please share what you've been reading with your fellow gamers!
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1. Board Game: Space Opera [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Andy Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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My wife gave me the entire Expanse series by James S.A. Corey for Christmas and I've been plowing through them. I've gotten through the first two, Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War, and I'm currently most of the way through #3.



and



I've really enjoyed them so far, although if I had to compare them I enjoyed the first the most to this point. Everything is high quality - the characters are ok, the mysteries are ok, the space stuff is ok. Everything being pretty good adds up to greater than the sum of the parts, and enjoyable series, but unlike Peter F. Hamilton's Naked God series, I haven't had any moments of great emotional engagement.

Is Capt Holden named for Holden Caulfield? A blundering innocent without a filter?

Anyways, what I just wrote is probably underselling the series. It's really good, really high quality, and I see myself reading all the way through (and not just because my wife gave them to me!)
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2. Board Game: The Comic Strip Card Game [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Justin
United States
Kentucky
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As always the novels I want to read continue to collect dust and i keep reading comic books.

Usagi Yojimbo #164-165. I feel like its been a long time since Usagi has gone through a big event. These past 5 issues having been building up to a bigger arc. This is the first major arc with Inspector Ishida. He's been in a lot of smaller ones but this is looking to be almost 18 or so issues with him.

I plan on going back and rereading the beginning of this arc sometime in February.



Groo vs Conan #1-4. I read this when it first came out. This series is great for Groo fans, not so much for fans of Conan. I mostly collect lighter/comedy books because these are the ones i enjoy reading multiple times.


I've continued with my Marvel Silver Age reading order.
Iron Man #9-13
Incredible Hulk #109-115
Captain America #111-112
Dr. Strange #128
Avengers #61-62

Gene Colan's artwork on Dr. Strange is so good. He might be my favorite silver age artist. Black Panther has recently joined the Avengers in those issues. I'm enjoying his character and am excited for the movie coming out soon. Iron Man continues to be one of the weaker titles.

Twilight X book 1 and 2. This is an indie book that started back in the Black and White comic boom of the late 80s. Joe Wight has returned to the series several times over the past three decades. These two volumes collect everything he's published so far. It adds up to just over 1000 pages.

Its a post WWIII book and focuses on a small cast who live in the Caribbean. The first volume has a decent amount of humor and the art is all over place in quality. With Vol. 2 the art is a lot more consistent and the story is much more serious. I hope he gets to finish it one day.

I don't know how much I can recommend the series. Vol. 1 feels very much of its time. What I can say is that the story really hooked me in and I finished 1000 pages in two evenings.


Jack Kirby's The Demon #1-4.
Over the past couple years I've seen a lot of negative comments about Jack Kirby's work after he left Marvel. I'm not sure where those are coming from, because this series is great. Its a shame that it didn't sell very well when it was first released. Maybe it gets stale by issue #16, but right now its a lot of fun.


And finally Shirtless Bear Fighter #1-5. What to say about this. Its a (kind of) raunchy comedy book. Its absolutely ridiculous and thats what is fun about it.

You have a hero named Shirtless Bear Fighter (yes,thats his actual name). He loses all his strength if he has a shirt on. He gets angry if you call flapjacks pancakes.

And he was raised by talking bears, but hates them now because they betrayed him.



I keep planning on a reread of the Silmarillion. I like to have a good hour or more when I sit down to read a novel. I just don't have that much time regularly anymore. Its much easier to spend 15 minutes here and there reading issues.
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3. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:138]
Herodotus Halicarnassus
United States
West Virginia
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I am making my way through several large books at the moment, so I only completed one book in January:



Lewis is, of course, very easy to read but also quite thought-provoking. My biggest criticism of this book is that it seems to just be a watered-down version of portions of "The City of God." Still, as I have been struggling with some emotional low spots recently, this book was very helpful in helping me make sense of the problem of pain.
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4. Board Game: Agricola Game Expansion: Purple [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked]
Jason Cookingham
United States
Poughkeepsie
New York
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A new year!

When I started to compile this list, I was ready to whine about bad books. Yet I see I actually read some good things.

The Very Good:

Jade City by Fonda Lee



On an alternate Earth where certain individuals gain powers from holding jade, an organized crime family my deal with a crisis. Martial arts. Dirty Dealings. Fun magic system. I enjoyed it a lot.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker



Beautifully written and moving. I have not seen the movie in a long time, but I recall bits of it confusing my young mind. The book was rather clear, and I cried a few times.

Hue 1968 by Mark Bowder



The author of Black Hawk Down recreates a major battle in Vietnam with his cinematic flair.
I am not well read on the Vietnam war, and I found this book frighteningly insightful to modern times. Ugh.

The Good:

Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly



The autobiographical graphic novel of a woman's childhood in Iraq.
It was solid and insightful.

Lazarus (volumes 2-4) by Greg Rucka

The story continues.
I am enjoying the series... well, I was until I realized the library doesn't have the final volume. Boo!

On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt

What is bullshit? Why do we put up with it? Amusing little book.

The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse



Early Wodehouse. I can see the seeds of what will be great growing in there, but it had some rough moments. I laughed out loud, and that is that matters.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire



Ever wonder what happens to the children that have returned from magical worlds (Narnia, Oz, etc)? If they can't adjust, then they may end up at a special school. This is a fun book that could fit in the same universe with Grossman's The Magicians.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi



In the future, you can only join up with the space army when you reach the age of 75.
The book was good, but it felt a bit confused if it wanted to be its own thing or poke fun at other scifi books. I have not read enough science fiction to make that call.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury



If I ever want to know to know how desensitized I am due too much (bad) media, then Ray Bradbury is the person to read. There is a sense of innocence and wonder to his books that may seem trite now, but I want to believe captures the childhood people should have.

The Power
by Naomi Alderman



Women around the world develop powers like electric eels, and this creates a power shift in the genders that has immediate and longer term impacts. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. The parts that bookend the beginning and end offer an interesting slant on the rest of the book, but needed to be more fleshed out or dropped. There is a twist of sorts near the end that I found jarring, and I didn't particularly like many of the characters. Still, the book was good. I just wish it was better.

Five Dialogues by Plato

I should have done more research on my Plato readings and in what order. This should likely have been last. I enjoyed it, but some parts were a bit repetitive from other works.

The Okay:

The Backstages vol 1 by James Tynion

It is the Lumberjanes... with boys! And not as good!

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor



Binti is one of the better books I read last year, but this just left me disinterested. It felt like a Harry Potter in a Nigerian setting. If I was younger or had a younger person in my life, I would probably appreciate this more.

Batman, Vol 4 "The War of Jokes and Riddles" by Tom King

Written on the cover was a quote, "A book as sexy as it is smart." It isn't remotely smart. It is an good idea held back by horrible story telling.

The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata

Near future where corporations openly sway governments and militaries to do their bidding. A soldier gets hunches that have saved his bacon many times, but what if they aren't just hunches? I could have liked this book better if the pieces came together better. The truth of what is going on is hypothesised by one character, and then is assumed to be truth by everyone... without any proof. Fun action scenes.

The Bad:


The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

Maybe I have read too many haunted house stories, but I have little tolerance for bad ones. It offers nothing new. The tone is well done, and it captures how feelings of pride and despair can trap people in bad predicaments.... but wow, it is boring. The same bad things happen repeatedly with slight variances.
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5. Board Game: Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination [Average Rating:5.53 Overall Rank:13087]
Anne Skelding
United States
Connecticut
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Sarah Vowell is a national treasure.



Interesting. Clever ending. Didn't care about any of the characters.



Very engaging text. Lots to think about.
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6. Board Game: Mad Scientist University Course Packet: Physics [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ivan
Russia
Ekaterinburg
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Lawrence M. Krauss - Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed



Very interesting sci-pop book tells us some approaches in physical picture of the world studying. With simple examples the author shows us scientific logic during studying of both macrocosm (the Universe structure) and microcosm (elementary particles). The consecutive logic of physical picture of the world changes is described: when research of one scientist becomes the base for the subsequent investigations. Read it with pleasure.


Hermann Hesse - Journey to the East



The small novel about a secret order, a strange travel to the mystical East in different times (?), sincere throwings brotherhood' member (story-teller), expedition disorder after one servant disappearance, unexpected return of the hero back to the Order and court over him. Somehow it is unclear, in a flowery style (manner of semi-antique statement). It was not easy to read the novel. Neverthess,the writer has a novel "The Glass Bead Game" - I have a plan to read it.


in Russian

Лоуренс Краусс «Страх физики»



Очень интересная научно-популярная книга, раскрывающая некоторые подходы в изучении физической картины мира. На простых примерах автор показывает логику рассуждений учёных, изучающих как макромир (строение Вселенной), так и микромир (элементарные частицы). Описана последовательная логика изменения физической картины мира, когда открытие одного учёного становится фундаментов для последующих рассуждений. Прочитал с удовольствием.


Гессе Герман «Паломничество в Страну Востока»



Небольшой роман про некий тайный Орден, странное путешествие на мистический Восток по разным временам (?), душевные метания одного из членов братства, развал экспедиции после исчезнования одного из слуг, неожиданное возвращение героя в орден и суд над главным героем. Как-то непонятно, витиевато (манера изложения под старину). Не понравилось. У писателя есть роман «Игра в бисер» - планирую его прочитать.
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7. Board Game: Axis & Allies: WWI 1914 [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:2153]
Luke Jaconetti
United States
Simpsonville
South Carolina
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Classics Illustrated: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque -- The classic tale of the true horrors of war as seen through the eyes of a young German man in World War I is well suited to the Classics Illustrated format. The art ranges from mundane CI stuff to grotesque, almost Graham Ingles style horror in the battle scenes. The adaptation is well done and you definitely get the feel of the novel (although as with all CI and the like, you are better off if you have read the book beforehand). Worth checking out.

Mummies! Classic Monsters of Pre-Code Horror by Various -- Yoe Books put out this collection of mummy monster comics culled from various public domain comics. Now, I may be more prone since I am such a mummy fan, and a fan of public domain Golden Age comics, but this volume was a lot of fun. Not the deepest of stories, but these fun shorts will tickle your mummy-bone if you are into that sort of thing.

Starliner by David Drake -- I got this for free from Amazon in the Kindle store. The premise -- the various goings-on on a stargoing luxury cruise ship -- sounded right up my alley. I have never read Drake before, but his style is easy to read and he fleshes his characters out well. The premise was the big draw for me -- a sci-fi version of an Arthur Hailey novel, with a complex system with lots of different people all working together as part of the overall whole. Now, while Hailey wrote about the real world, and was able to do years worth of research, Drake is writing about a fictional world, so there is a level of detail which obviously cannot be there here. Not that I am not complaining, because I very much enjoyed this novel and will look for more from Drake.

A-Z Sega Master System Games by Kieren Hawken -- Big hat tip to
Justin
United States
Kentucky
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for putting me onto the Hoopla app a few months ago. I Was giving the app on my phone a try, and wanted some light reading for a plane ride. I'm a huge Sega Master System fan, and have been for more than 30 years now. So this was more of a trip down memory lane for me than anything else. Hawken picks three games for each letter of the alphabet, and tries to cover a wide variety of SMS games. There is some interesting homebrew and region-exclusive games in here, but most of them were ones I knew about. More of a magazine than a book from a reading length standpoint, this was exactly what I was looking for on a short puddle jumper from Atlanta to GSP. Do with that information what you will!

The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin, George Perez, and Ron Lim -- Got this one via a coupon on Amazon, and figured with the movie coming out, I figured now was a good time to read it. When Thanos controls all 6 of the Infinity Gems and the Infinity Gauntlet, his goal to prove his love to and win the affection of Death is at hand. After wiping out half of the population of the universe, Adam Warlock recruits Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, and various other superheroes to mount an assault on Thanos. But how do you fit someone who literally controls all the forces of the universe? In many ways the prototypical Jim Starlin cosmic story, but featuring characters as diverse as Captain America, Spider-Man, and Hulk along with mainstays like Silver Surfer and Drax. An utterly epic miniseries, one of the best Marvel stories of all time. And in typical Starlin fashion, this is not the end, but merely the beginning. Definitely worth reading.

Hotel by Arthur Hailey -- Read via Hoopla. After reading Starliner, I was really in the mood for some legit Arthur Hailey, and as I was traveling at the time, Hotel was the one I went to. I got into Hailey after I graduated from college, mostly from the film Airport, but I quickly fell in with his procedural, research-forward storytelling, with each book focusing on a different complex industry or system (including airports, banking, medicine, power, etc.). I tend to think of Hailey the civilian version of Tom Clancy, both in the research-heavy approach as well as the focus on what people do moreso than who they are. This one, his first major novel, shows its age in some aspects of what was believed to be the future of hospitality in the 1960s, as well as some details (such as physical keys for hotel rooms). But outside of that, the details of how a large scale hotel operates, the many, many people who work behind the scenes and normally are invisible to a guest, are really intriguing. On top of that, the narrative of the different guests is wide ranging but a real page-turner. Hailey's stories always ramp up and get you excited to see what happens next, and Hotel is no different. Very much worth reading.

Jack Kirby: Challengers of the Unknown by Jack Kirby -- Read via Hoopla. While paging through the Graphic Novels section on Hoopla, I came across a series of big collections of Jack Kirby stuff put out by DC, including this volume collecting all of Jack's Challengers of the Unknown work. I knew of the Challengers, but had never read them, so I thought, let's start right at the beginning, And man, am I glad I did! This was fantastic stuff, with our four heroes -- Ace Morgan, test pilot; Rocky Davis, wrestler; Red Ryan, climber and daredevil; and Professor Haley, skin diver -- jetting off to the four corners of the Earth (and beyond) to always cross that bridge into the unknown. In an alternate world, Jack Kirby stays at DC, the Fantastic Four are never formed, and the Challengers faced Doctor Doom, Annihilus, Galactus, and so forth. This volume collects all of Kirby's Challengers work, starting in Showcase and running through the first 8 issues of their own series. The Showcase stories are feature length, and most of the Challengers issues are split into 2 shorter stories. The feature length stories were my favorites, but the creativity of all of the stories is off the charts. Great stuff -- I am definitely going to be seeking out the two Essential volumes of Challengers of the Unknown, and whatever issues of their long running series I can find. And, wouldn't you know it, there is a New Challengers book coming out from DC in the coming months. So it's all coming together!
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