Literary New To You September 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: Nemesis [Average Rating:8.42 Overall Rank:2898]
Andy Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Good morning reading gamers and gaming readers! Another insane month around the Howell household. I look forward to soon enjoying a month containing no major life events.

TODAY I start my new life as an independent contractor writing policy for the government. Which is pretty exciting - first new job in 22 years! My oldest kid started middle school and my youngest began kindergarten.

And somehow I managed to chew my way through a meaty space opera volume.

Nemesis Games, the fifth book in the Expanse series.



Not that it's important to compare one book in a series against the rest, but this might have been the one that I enjoyed the most. I like that they made the choice to stay away from the alien precursor story. They may have been falling into the Star Trek the Motion Picture trap and smartly followed up with a Wrath of Kahn; this one was character-driven with some nice and not-so-nice family moments.

I hope Naomi Nagata becomes an example of a strong female hero in the years to come. I felt the writing team did a great job with her heartbreak and her manipulation by the old boyfriend.

Still cruising through this series at a slooooow pace.

Have a great month everyone!
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2. Board Game: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:130] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Justin
United States
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Kind of a slow month for me. I've been very busy trying to get stuff done around the house before winter. That and I'm on a run of Captain America and the Falcon and it isn't really grabbing my attention.



Here's what got read on my Marvel Silver Age reading order:

Thor #179-181
Fantastic Four #102-104
Avengers #83
Amazing Spider-Man #88-92
Iron Man #30-32
Incredible Hulk #131-134
Sub-Mariner #31-32
Captain America and the Falcon #135-138

The Thor issues weren't very good and didn't make any sense. The Neal Adams art was great. He even had a bit of an Easter egg hidden in the panels. These were some of the last issues Jack Kirby and Stan Lee wrote together. Neal had a truck that said "Kirby Lee Moving" and he had Thor's hammer smash through the truck separating the names. I don't know if it was intentional, but it was neat either way.

The Spider-Man issues were by far the best. I don't know if anyone cares about spoilers from a comic in 1970 but just in case.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This issues show the return of Dr. Octopus and the death of Gwen Stacey's father, Captain Stacey. While fighting Spider-Man, Doc Ock knocks a chimney down and the bricks are going to fall on a child. Captain Stacey dives and pushes the child out of the way. Spider-Man digs him out of the rubble and carries him to a rooftop. Captain Stacey then reveals that he's known Peter was spider-man for a long time and asks him to take care of Gwen.

Up until this point Captain Stacey has been one of two (the other being Joe Robinson) defenders of Spider-Man and a kind of father figure for Peter since Uncle Ben died. His death is really the first major one that happened in the series.


I enjoyed the Sub-Mariner issues. He's back to his undersea adventures instead of fighting pollution on college campuses (man i hate those stories.) This aren't any better than your average silver age tale. I'm just an irrational fan of the character.



Fantastic Four #579 I haven't stuck with it recently, but i've also been going through a modern Marvel reading order. It starts with Avengers Disassembled in 2000 and goes up to the present day. I'm at the Heroic Age in 2009.

This Fantastic Four series by Jonathan Hickman has been really good. The first part of his run focuses on Reed and gives some depth to the character. Reed stumbles on a part of the multiverse where hundreds of version of himself are trying to fix all the problems of the universe.



G-Man Vol. 1-3

G-Man is an all ages comedy book that pokes fun at super heroes but also tells a lighthearted story about two brothers getting powers.

If you remember the Mini Marvel series from the mid 2000s this is the same guy. He's doing a similar thing but with his own characters. This series isn't amazing but its very solid. Anyone who wants an easy read with a little comedy should check this out on Hoopla. I'm a sucker for a comedy book so I might enjoy it more than most.

Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) #1-9

Trigun Vol. 1

I was a big fan of the anime in my teenage years. It starts out as a kind of weird west/sci-fi series. It goes almost full sci-fi by the end of it. I bought all the volumes of the manga several years ago.

This is my second attempt at reading the series. The anime got cut short and the author never got to end it how he intended. The manga is supposed to be the complete story. The problem is I have a hard time following the manga if it isn't based on an episode I've seen. Something about this guy's panel layout and the scenes he chooses to show just doesn't work with my brain. I have to read and reread parts to figure out whats going on. I'll get through it eventually. I doubt i'll hold onto the series after that.




Hawkman Archives Vol.1

Last year my library was able to track down the first two volumes of the Adam Strange archives. Eventually they found a copy of Hawkman to borrow. I love the idea of spacecop Hawkman/Hawkgirl and their costumes.

These aren't bad stories. They just aren't grabbing my attention like the Adam Strange ones did. Most of this series so far takes place on Earth. I was hoping for more of a cosmic setting like Adam Strange. I've only got about 50 pages to go for this volume and i'm having a hard time getting motivated to finish it before its due.

I think the overall plots and Joe Kubert's art here is better than Infantino's art in Adam Strange. But i still like that series more.




Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 2-3

I can finally say this is my favorite series of all time. I randomly walked by my bookshelf and vol. 2 caught my eye. I read most of it in one sitting. The same with Vol. 3. These are what kept me away from Hawkman and the Marvel stuff.

This is my third time reading the series and I enjoy it just as much every time I've read it. Yes, its an all ages book, but Stan's not afraid to throw some gut punchers of a story at you. One of them in vol. 3 almost had me in tears. I think most of this series is on Hoopla.


Thats it for September. In October I plan on trying to put down the comic books and get back to some prose reading. I have three Drizzt books by R.A. Salvatore to catch back up on. And i started Star Trek New Voyages, a short story collection published in the early 70s.

Also every year i swear I'm going to read some of Robert E. Howard's horror work with nothing but a flashlight in the dark around Halloween. But i never do it. Maybe this year will be my year. I'm a complete coward when it comes to horror it sticks with me in my brain for too long after i read it. Pigeons From Hell has been on my to read list for so long.
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3. Board Game: The Mediterranean [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:7710]
Luke Jaconetti
United States
Simpsonville
South Carolina
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The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler. Dirk Pitt, special investigator for NUMA, is sent to the Greek coast to investigate strange happenings on a research vessel, but soon finds himself embroiled in a mystery when a WW1 era biplane attacks a US base. If the later, more developed Dirk Pitt books are trying to be modern pulps in the vein of Doc Savage, than this initial offering is Cussler emulated Ian Fleming, with a strong James Bond vibe to the entire book. Very much in the style of Fleming, with our hero suffering incredible physical punishment but also having a male-gaze dominated liaison with a beautiful woman who falls into his lap. Good reading but definitely has a little bit of "early installment weirdness."

Cable v.1: Conquest by James Robinson, Carlos Pacheo, Yildiray Cinar, et al. Cable is on a mission -- big shock -- to track down and neutralize a time traveler who is giving incredibly advanced weapons and technology to different militant groups throughout history. Fun, fast paced story of the style which Robinson seems to write now, with Cable's no-nonsense personality dominating the narrative. The art is fantastic -- clean, crisp, and easy to follow throughout the numerous action sequences. Taken on its own, this would have been a fine (if lightweight) Cable adventure -- as it stands, it was the first arc in his short-lived latest solo series, which had a new creative team for each arc. So as part of a whole I don't think it will mean much in the long run. But fun while it lasts if you like Cable.

Infamous Iron Man v.1: Infamous by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Matt Hollingsworth, et al. In the wake of Tony Stark's "death" (*cough*), Victor Von Doom continues his reformation, embracing what he feels is a call to make the world a better place. His solution: become Iron Man. Too bad SHIELD does not agree with his decision. I have spoken before about how I dislike Bendis' story pacing, and that is no different here, as he takes six issues to tell a story that really could have been three. But that is just how he writes. That aside, I really enjoyed this volume, which is mostly a character study of Doctor Doom and his personal journey. There's good action and a lot of heart in this issues. Maleev's art is scratchy and dark, very much suiting the story and the lead. Not my personal favorite style of comics art but a good match for this title. Very much looking forward to reading the second installment.

Spy vs Spy: Fight To The Finish by Peter Kuper. Read via Hoopla. The White Spy and the Black Spy execute plots and intrigues against each other with often bizarre and inane results. I think most American boys of a certain age went through a phase of reading Mad Magazine, and I certainly did. And I always liked the "Joke and Dagger Department" as the Spy vs Spy strips were called. This is a more modern collection, with Kuper's almost painterly art and some smatterings of modern technology thrown in. Of course, the Lady In Grey also makes a few appearances as well. Fun gag strip stuff which will bring a smile to your face if you like Spy vs Spy, otherwise I don't know that you'll get much out of it. There's a fair amount of Mad content on Hoopla, so if you are prone to that sort of thing, it's out there to check out.

Brigade v.1 by Rob Liefeld, Eric Stephenson, Marat Mychaels, Norman Rapmund, Paul Scott, et al. Battlestone, former leader of Youngblood, commands his new team Brigade against terrorists, but they soon are mixed up in an intergalactic conflict. The second title from Extreme Studios from the early days of Image Comics, this book starts out with a decent premise but quickly succumbs to introducing a whole lot of characters without a whole lot of actual character. It was fun to read, with lots of action, but utterly disposable. Battlestone is the standout character here, and I would like to see more of him. Mychaels' art is very much in the vein of Liefeld's, whatever you personally think about that. If I can find these books (and the follow up ongoing series) super cheap, I will probably pick them up. But not going to be tracking them down.

X-Force/Spider-Man: Sabotage by Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, Todd McFarlane, et al. A hostage situation by Black Tom in the Financial District turns into a cluster when X-Force and Spider-Man engage the Juggernaut. A three issue crossover between X-Force and Spider-Man before Liefeld and McFarlane bolted Marvel for Image, this is an uneven crossover. The X-Force issues are better, with the team of Liefeld and Nicieza seemingly able to coexist well, giving us some very approachable 90s X-Books characterization and action. The Spider-Man issue is not as good, because I think we can all agree that McFarlane is not Fabian Nicieza. A lot of this story does not age well due to the setting (World Trade Center), but considering this was written before the first WTC attack and nearly a decade before 9/11, that is not the story's fault. In any event, as part of the early days of X-Force, I liked this story and have continued reading the series. (For reference, I picked up #1 for 20c at Heroes Con back in June, and since then have filled in nearly a full run of the first version of the team, which runs through issue 62.)

A lot of comics this month, and a lot of X-Force and Liefeld related characters at that, mostly due to getting on something of a kick for the era between my X-Force purchases and listening to a new podcast, All The Pouches, which is covering the launch of Image Comics in chronological order. Worth a listen!
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4. Board Game: Carcassonne: The City [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:541]
Ryan Olson
United States
Auburn
Kansas
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A few books this month, all were pretty good.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden- A nice fairy tale based story based on Russian fairy tales specifically. Felt a lot like a Gaiman style fairy tale. It was a fun read.

The City and The City by China Mieville- I have not been a big Mieville fan, but I keep giving his novels a chance because people I respect really like his stuff. I didn't really like Perdidio Street Station or The Scar, but did enjoy reading Un Lun Dun. This novel was really good. Well written, with a really strange, but intriguing premise, this was definitely my favorite novel by him.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson- A classic that I've had a Kindle copy just sitting there, so I grabbed it as a quick read. I appreciated the novel, but am not sure I enjoyed it. It was well done, and I rated it fairly high, but it was a heavy read at times.
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5. Board Game: Skyward [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:3973]
Jason Cookingham
United States
Poughkeepsie
New York
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September was better than August for me, but it is still mostly fluff.


4 Stars

Book of the Month!


Skyward Vol 1: My Low-G Life
A post-apocalyptic world where gravity has greatly lessened on the Earth. People have adapted, but it is a perilous life where any misstep could send one into orbit. This is a fun concept with a lot of good characters. While it is post-apoc, it is still has a sense of whimsy and adventure.



Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
Sweet grumpy Murderbot is back. He decides to help a former "friend" and gets caught up in more than he intended. The story was rather good (and too short). It has some fun horror-like moments, but filled with Murderbot's acerbic wit.



The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh
A look at how to be mindful in life and particularly in where we have power over people and the world around us. There wasn't a lot new here that isn't in his other books, but it is still a solid and refreshing read.

3 Stars



Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley Beaulieu
A prequel to his Song of the Shattered Sands series. Our hero catches the eye of a dangerous entity, and it leads to a variety of consequences. I enjoyed it If you like 1,001 Arabian Nights type of settings and/or good action scenes, then I can recommend this series.



The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
An out of work person finds a job as the managing editor for a travel guide for monsters (zombies, vampires, demons, etc) visiting NYC. It is a tad too long, but it has some fun moments. One of the final battles is very cool. If you like Buffy/True Blood, then this may be of interest. Not a requirement though, I don't care for either of this shows... and I liked it.



Mother Panic Vol 1
Something done before, but a take on what if Batman didn't have the moral foundation of his parents or Alfred. However, in spite of being done before, it was still fun and interesting. I like the design of the character. Can't stand the name.



Fence Vol 1
A graphic novel about characters trying to get onto a fencing team in high school.
It has a lot of sports cliches, but it does with a less used sport.



Ghostbusters Vol 6 & 7
The art is solid. The ideas are fun, and I like how one of my local towns is part of it.
The series has the problem where the actual conflicts hold little challenge. Zap and trap.



Here by Richard McGuire
A graphic novel that imagines and invisible immaterial point of view set in place for all of time. You see many different views of life at that spot. There is no narrative, but it is a fun exploration of an idea.



We are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
A science fiction/humor book about an a.i. self-replicating probe sent out to find new planets for man to colonize. This was clever and fun, but it also loses its way at times dwelling on less interesting plot lines. I will check out the others in the series at some point.



Jughead: The Hunger vol 1
What happens when the crowned king of Gluttony becomes a werewolf? A surprisingly good tale. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

2 Stars



Cracked Glasses by Heather Marie Thompson
I have a dear friend that is religious, and she buys my Christian books.
This is an assortment of short essays. It is fine. I am not the target audience.



The Punch Escrow by Tal Kelin
In the future, we have mastered teleportation and it has changed the world.
When an accident during a teleportation puts our protagonist in an odd spot, he becomes the target of multiple groups. Meh. It was okay. Some of the concepts are good, but ending was so bizarre it ruined the rest of the book for me.



The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker
A non-fiction look at what we know about the domestication of cats. It was a decent read, but I think she took too light of hand on the ecological disaster cats have been to the world and could have expanded many sections of the book. An okay starting point on the topic.



Terminal City by Linda Fairstein
I can enjoy mysteries, but I don't think I like police procedurals. It doesn't help that I found the main characters and her love interest rather repellant.

1 Star

The Cleaners vol 1

The idea is good. What if the people that clean up the sights of accidents and murders are involved in the supernatural? The execution is just boring and all over the place.

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6. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:294] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Steve Fischer
United States
Appleton
Wisconsin
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The Settlers of Catan by Rebecca Gablé


"A historical novel based on the board game The Settlers of Catan."

This story begins with Candamir & the gang and describes the motivation to leave Elasund and look for a new land. The quest to re-find Olaf's Island, the harrowing journey, and finally re-discovering Odin's Land aka Catan.

Once again on tierra firma, of course, they had to settle...

I wish Ms. Gablé would have brought more game elements into her writing. There was a council/group of 8 representatives. The text next said "8 is a good number." Bravo!

Unfortunately, that was the only example I found
There were a lot of lost opportunities that I would have liked to read. For example,
d10-1 When thieves attacked, why weren't there d10-7 of them?
d10-2 In the earthy medieval economy, how come no one ever had wood for sheep? modest
d10-3 Where was the road-building? whistle
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7. Video Game: Sniper Elite [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:3472]
Chris
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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It is my firm belief that little puppy dogs named Mr. Poopytime will bring our country together!
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The Will To Battle, Ada Palmer

This is third of a series (fourth coming out soon I hope) that has just got better and better and more outrageous. Told ceaselessly by Mycroft (chosen largely because they are known to be insane and thus none of what they write can be used as evidence against involved parties, but also almost certainly because of the power they wield in this world), the series started out with about half the first book being strictly world building, and the rest being unending action and revelation and a pace of plot that does not slow down.

The story is a weird mix of political, social, religious and fantastical events set in a future society (2400s) of Hives that is a presumed Golden Age of humanity, but of course things are never that simple. It touches on so many things, often from a base of classic philosophy and history (the author is a history professor) including gender, ideal laws, philosophies of war, correctional institutions - it's dense. It's so dense, written compellingly. And the third book has kept it coming. For the record, the title refers to the idea that a war begins not when battles are fought, but when opposing groups have shown they are willing to fight. (I believe this was a historical concept but I have forgotten who was supposed to have originally posed it, and I'm sure they mention it in the book).

It's been one of my favorite books, and the parallels some of its ideas have in modern society really make it even more meaningful.
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8. Board Game: K2 [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:469]
Anne Skelding
United States
Connecticut
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Good story, good characters, FRIENDSHIP!! I don't think I've read a fantasy book with a mountaineer protagonist before, so that was nice (my dad mountaineered in his youth and I practically grew up on a cliffside, though we haven't gone in years).



Whoo, that's a ride. I picked this up on Audible because my mom's name is Bernadette and she gets SO EXCITED when she sees her name anywhere, because she never does. But obviously I don't want to give her a book that was bad, even if she'd get a kick out of the title, so I had to check it first. It's pretty good. A little over the top, but it's supposed to be. If this is a genre you like, then I recommend it!



Very cute.
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9. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:85]
Ivan
Russia
Ekaterinburg
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Arthur Hailey "Hotel"



A kind of "industry" novel. Life of various hotel departments is well-described. Interesting to read (but "Airport" is a little bit better).


Franz Kafka "The Castle"



frank surrealism, everything changes during each chapter. Don't like it, since I did not see any sense in this novel. Read up hardly. As well as when reading "The Glass Bead Game" by H.Hesse constantly asked myself: "what for is all of this?"


Samuel Beckett "Molloy"



Didn't like the novel at all: the description of events from lips of the old man at whom weak-mindedness and paralysis begins to progress. Nothing interesting. I read hardly only a fourth part of the book.


James Aldridge "The Hunter"



About hard life of the Canadian hunter-trapper in the 1940-50th. Very interesting description of nature, hunting, leaving from a pursuit, fight for life. Banks select farms for debts. The successful progressive farmer speaks about need to organize analogs of collective farms and machine tractor stations. The relations between heroes are well registered. The intrigue holds to the last pages. Very interesting reading.


James Aldridge "The Last Inch"



The pilot with his 10-year-old son arrive in a lonely bay at Red Sea for underwater sharks shooting. Something went wrong — the pilot covered with wounds by sharks cannot carry the plane. All hope for the boy. Well written book. Aldridge entered my "English-speaking writers hall of fame".


in Russian:

Артур Хейли «Отель»



Производственный роман, хорошо показана жизнь разных подразделений такого предприятия. Уступает "Аэропорту". Норм.


Франц Кафка «Замок»



откровенный сюрреализм, каждую главу всё меняется. Не понравилось, т. к. не увидел какого-то смысла в этом произведении. Дочитал с трудом. Как и при чтении книги "Игра в бисер" постоянно задавался вопросом "для чего это всё?"


Сэмюэль Беккет «Моллой»



Книга откровенно не зашла: описание событий из уст старика, у которого начинает прогрессировать слабоумие и паралич. Ничего интересного. С трудом прочитал всего треть книги.


Джеймс Олдридж «Охотник»



Про непростую жизнь канадского охотника-траппера в 1940-50-х гг. Очень интересное описание природы, охоты, ухода от погони, борьбы за жизнь. Банки отбирают фермы за долги. Прогрессивный фермер говорит о необходимости организовать аналоги колхозов и МТС. Хорошо прописаны отношения между героями. Интрига держит до последних страниц. Очень понравилась.


Джеймс Олдридж «Последний дюйм»



Пилот с 10-летним сыном прилетают в уединённую бухту Красного моря для подводной съёмки акул. Что-то пошло не так — израненный акулами пилот не может везти самолёт. Вся надежда на мальчика. Хорошо написано. Добавил Олдриджа в мой список любимых англоязычных авторов.
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