Literary New To You July 2019 => Books you read this month
Andy Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
flag msg tools
100 Years of Coast Guard Aviation!
badge
Those dang kids just keep growin'
Avatar
Microbadge: Golden Geeklister
Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
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!
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: True or False [Average Rating:4.19 Overall Rank:19251]
Board Game: True or False
Jason Cookingham
United States
Poughkeepsie
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Salsa dancerMicrobadge: I stole cookies from the cookie jarMicrobadge: I love to danceMicrobadge: Book readerMicrobadge: Ballroom dancer
A month of a lot of poor reads. I am not sure if I chose poorly or was just grumpy.

The month ended on a high note.

I jokingly sent a friend this instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0mFLE0F8l2/?igshid=48sbq7xutgmb
And then spent most of the night reading the first book noted..

Four Stars


External image


Recursion by Crouch, Blake

A cop investigates a case involving a new disease-- False Memory Syndrome: a malady that inflicts people with memories of a life that never happened. Things go bananas from there.

If you liked Dark Matter by Crouch, then you should enjoy this.
(What do you mean you haven't read Dark Matter?!)

External image


Rescue Board by Erbelding, Rebecca

A look at what the US Government, particularly the Treasury Department, did to help the Jewish people during WW2.

I learned a lot from this book, and it was interesting to see how communication technology of time impacted operations, and some of the stunts that were tried.

Three Stars

External image


Joy in the Morning by Wodehouse, P.G.

Jeeves manipulates Wooster into some complicated plots so he can get a fishing vacation, and things go badly.

Always fun and funny. Following the series as they were written, it is fun to see the characters become more nuanced. In many series, long running characters tend to become stereotypes of themselves.

External image


The Cross Bronx by Brandon, Ivan

A cop suffering a crisis of faith and his depression comes across a case with an unnatural aspect to it.

This was really good. The end was a bit sloppy, but I liked it overall.

External image


Pan’s Labyrinth by del Toro, Guillermo

A novelization of the movie. There may be some added stuff. It has been some time since I have seen the movie.

It is good.

External image


MCMLXXV by Casey, Joe

I am not even sure how to describe this. A cabbie in New York wields a magical tire iron, and she fights monsters and bad guys while trying to deliver passengers.

It was crazy fun. There is little story here, but the style makes up for the substance.

External image


Imaginary Fiends vol 1 by Seeley, Tim

Some imaginary friends of children are really paradimension parasites that feed off of emotions. Many of them are harmless, but a few become addicted to feeding off of negative emotions and push their host to commit atrocities.
Our protagonist was a little girl that tried to kill her best friend. Years later, she is recruited out of prison to help an FBI agent deal with these cases.

The art and writing is good. I wish their first case was a bit more low key. There is a bit too much going on here while trying to get to know the characters and the world. I look forward to the next volume.

External image


Finder by Palmer, Suzanne

Our protagonists specializes in recovering stolen goods, and shows up in a space colony to do just that. However, he is pulled into the middle of a growing power conflict. Oh, and some pesky aliens are floating about too.

This was just good fun.

External image


The Gutter Prayer by Ryder-Hanrahan, Gareth

Three thieves on a simple job kick off a chain of events that may end their city and their lives. It takes place in a world where in another land, there is a civil war between gods and their sorcerer servants (or something like that), and the city of our heroes is a place of refuge for many trying to escape the horror.

I like a lot of the fun ideas in this book, but there are some serious problems. The story stars in media res, and we only get to know the three thieves and their friendship about 2/3 into the book. I started to like them then, but I was rather apathetic for a lot of the story.

One of the antagonists is barely mentioned, and is then supposed to be taken seriously. The action scenes are dull. Still, there is good stuff here. I look forward to seeing more by this author. I would loot the heck out of this if I was still gm'ng an rpg.

Two Stars

Cemetery Beach by Ellis, Warren

In the 1920's, a rich group of people shot themselves into space to colonize their own world. Over a hundred years later, a man from Earth is sent to check out what is happening there.

This may be the most disappointing Warren Ellis book I have read. A man who usually comes up with great ideas and then shrugs his way through them as he grows more bored.
This work is one long action scene. It has some cool stuff in it, but there is barely a moment to consider any of it.

Revival, Vol 2 by Seeley, Tim

The continuing story of a small community quarantined after a few of their residents come back to life... as normal people. Maybe.

It was okay. I think I am done.

Blackbird by Humphries, Sam

A young woman experienced magic in a normal world years ago, and she has been seeking it out every since.

It was okay. The art is good. I thought this was a parody of the hidden magic world trope by having all the magicians be pretentious and obnoxious. Until I realized we were supposed to like them…

Teen Titans: Raven by Garcia, Kim

A graphic novel origin of the DC superhero.

It starts to become interesting in the final pages.

One Star

Die, Vol 1 by Gillen, Kieron

A group of teens disappeared while playing a table top rpg. They reappear years later (well, most of em), but unable to talk about where they have been. Now as adults, they are pulled back into the fantasy world they spent those years.

The premise is fine, and the creators tend to be good. The pacing is so off that it is complete mess.


Zero Sum Game by Huang, S.L.

Anne reviewed this last month. The premise is fun. The protagonist has the ability to see the math in everything, and use that to advantage. The problem is I did not like her. Or anyone in the book.

Coda by Spurrer, Simon

Ugh.

Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men


What the?! This takes the quirky series and turns it to high fantasy. I didn't like it at all.

Three Days in April by Ashton, Edward

Ugh.

7 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Swords & Sorcery: Quest and Conquest in the Age of Magic [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:5171]
Board Game: Swords & Sorcery: Quest and Conquest in the Age of Magic
External image


The Way of Serpents by Howard Andrew Jones (Tales from the magicians skull #0)
Crypt of Stars by Howard Andrew Jones (Tales from the magicians skull #1)
A Stones Throw by Howard Andrew Jones (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly)

You all know i'm a big fan of Sword and Sorcery, both old a new. Tales From the Magicians Skull is a new S&S short story magazine put out by Goodman Games. The same people who make Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I initially picked up the magazine because one of my favorite authors, James Enge, has a story in each issue. I've started reading some of the other stories. It doesn't hurt that the production on these magazines is top notch.

Howard Andrew Jones started out as a contributor to the magazine and ended up morphing into its editor once Goodman Games decided to publish.

All three of these stories feature a character named Hanuvar. A man who has lost some amount of his family and kingdom but we aren't told entirely how much. The main stories a showing us snippets of his life. And are meant to be read in order, but each story doesn't really reference the one before it. And the Heroic Fantasy Quarterly appearance isn't meant to be apart of the main plot.

The Way of Serpents is my favorite of the three. Which is a shame because i think issue #0 was initially a kickstarter exclusive, but i think you can get it digitally.

Mr. Jones does a good job using old fantasy cliche's in an interesting way and his prose makes the story better than what it would seem if you just looked at the plot points. He also is slowly showing the reader the setting without giving any exposition at all.

The just ran a very successful Kickstarter to fund issues #3-4 and an ongoing subscription to the magazine. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the stories in the first two issues.


External image


Werewolf By Night #1
Spider-Man #105
Defenders #2-5
Amazing Adventures #11-12
Avengers #102

I've given up trying to go through CMRO's reading order that has every marvel comic.

Instead I've shifted over to My Marvelous Year. Its a podcast/reading order that looks at 10 stories from each year and spends three weeks on each year. Usually ends up being 20-30 issues.

Its an entertaining podcast and its up to 1972.

Amazing Adventures shows the Beast changing from his human looking silver age form to what most people know. Big, blue and hairy. Except he's gray here. Great art, interesting plot, kinda silly reason why he's stuck with this new form.

Defender's was my favorite of this bunch. I'm a fan of all the characters individually, put them together and you have some interseting interactions.
7 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: Crusaders [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Luke Jaconetti
United States
Simpsonville
South Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Gamer DadMicrobadge: PodcasterMicrobadge: Clemson UniversityMicrobadge: Nintendo 3DS fanMicrobadge: I completed the 2019 VGG challenge: beat 5 video games and played for 50 hours
The New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes by Ian Flynn, Ben Bates, Gary Martin, et al. The children and successors of the original Crusaders are thrust into the roles as legacy heroes when the Brain Emperor reappears. I was introduced to the "Red Circle"/Archie heroes during the time that DC held the license after Infinite Crisis, and I have read some of the earlier stuff (primarily Golden Age Shield), so I have a fair knowledge of the characters. This take, with a new generation of heroes standing side by side with the original Shield, is brightly illustrated, clearly written, and well polished. It's a strong start to the series, but sadly, this revamp was not long for the world and only a few more stories came of it. As a one shot adventure, it is a neat visit to the Red Circle world, but it's fairly light. Worth reading if you are interested in the Red Circle - it and it's follow ups are on Hoopla.

Back To The Stone Age by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Read via Hoopla. During the events of Tarzan At The Earth's Core, one member of the party is separated from the rest and has bizarre adventures of his own. As I have read more ERB, I have come to firmly mark Pellucidar as my favorite series, and this book did nothing to dissuade me from that opinion. Our hero, Wilhelm von Horst ("Von" to the Pellucidarians), is a bit younger and more erudite than some other Burroughs heroes, and his relationship with his "love interest" La-ja (who tells him every chance she gets that she hates him) is a great bit of insight into the harsh world at the Earth's Core. Lots of ERB news lately, with the formal announcement of officially licensed books continuing the various series as a the "ERB Universe." Exciting!

The Land That Time Forgot: Savage See-Ta by Mike Wolfer, et al. Read via Comixology. In Caspak, Lys La Rue recounts a tale of the Ga-lu known as See-Ta, and how she discovered a sinister plot to invade her homeland. Acting as something of a prequel to the second American Mythology Land That Time Forgot miniseries (Terror from the Earth's Core), I am pretty sure this two issue mini was originally an oversized special, and reads as such. The art is fantastic, with a clean, easy to follow style which read really well on my tablet. The story reminds me a bit of the book Tanar of Pellucidar in that our hero is not an outsider but a "native" of the Weird World the story takes place in. I have enjoyed all of the ERB stuff I have read from American Mythology and this fell right in line. Fun series if a quick read.

Justice League v.7: The Darkseid War, Part 1 by Geoff Johns,
Phil Jimenez, Jim Lee, Jason Fabok, Scott Williams, Scott Kolins, Kevin Maguire, Jerry Ordway, et al. Read via Hoopla. The Justice League are investigating Mother Box activity on Earth, but find themselves drawn into a war of unfathomable proportions when Darkseid sets his sites on the Anti-Monitor. Johns' Justice League excels at bombastic, widescreen action, and this volume is no exception. Given that Darkseid is literally part of the genesis of this team, it makes sense to tie them into the larger New Gods mythos -- and given that the Anti-Monitor was teased back at the end of Forever Evil, this clash seems inevitable. The most ambitious arc in the run (and that is saying something), I thoroughly dug this and am eager to read the next part -- IIRC this was the finale to Justice League before DC Rebirth.

Cable/X-Force: Messiah War by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Duane Swierczynski, Mike Choi, Clayton Crain, Ariel Olivetti, et al. Read via Comixology. Cyclops sends his X-Force team to the future to help Cable and Hope, but Bishop has enlisted an unlikely ally of his own: Stryfe. This crossover starts out well -- X-Force running into a 3/4's crazed Deadpool (and that is saying something) -- and the macho, tough guy histrionics between Cable and Wolverine. And frankly having Stryfe and Bishop as the two villains of the piece is quite nice. But at six issues the story goes on far too long for what actually happens, and by the end it has become pretty repetitive. There is also a very confusing plot point about the Force's time travel wristbands not working properly which seems to change from scene to scene. I have liked this volume of Cable up through this point, but had not been reading this X-Force. Hopefully the next installment of Cable bounces back.

Pep Digital #17: Betty & Veronica Beat The Heat by Too Many To Mention! Read via Hoopla. It's summertime in Riverdale, and that means that Betty, Veronica, Archie, Jughead, and the gang all try to find ways to cool off. Given the extreme heat we have endured this summer, I thought this volume was a good choice as I was looking to give these Pep Digital collections a try. The stories tend to reuse the same themes (the beach, air conditioning, and so forth), but they are all shorts so none of them outstay their welcome. Standouts include Hot Dog trying to cool off to the chagrin of the humans, a stuffy party at the Lodges which Archie accidentally turns into a pool party, Betty and Veronica trying a mountain hike to cool off, and Archie and Jughead using "mind over matter" to convince themselves they are not hot. Great disposable summer time reading.

7 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: MVP Baseball [Average Rating:4.75 Unranked]
Board Game: MVP Baseball
Ryan Olson
United States
Auburn
Kansas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: LGBTQ allyMicrobadge: I have at least 4,000 logged game plays!Microbadge: Parent of Two Girls and One BoyMicrobadge: Dr. Horrible fan - Captain HammerMicrobadge: Solosaurus podcast fan
I got a few things read this month.

The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players by Travis Sawchik & Ben Lindbergh.: I love baseball in general. Ben Lindbergh has an excellent podcast called Effectively Wild. He also wrote a great book with one of his podcast co-hosts Sam Miller called The Only Rule is That it has to Work about running a independent minor league team one summer. This book is really heavy read, but fascinating to see where baseball seems to be going.

Vessel by Lisa A Nichols: Sword & Laser book for July. Really fun read with a terrible ending.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle: Sword and Laser book from June that I found a digital copy of. An ok book, some really good, some really boring, but I see why it's so beloved. Had a short story included called Two Hearts that I enjoyed.
7 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: The Crow [Average Rating:4.12 Unranked]
Board Game: The Crow
Andy Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
flag msg tools
100 Years of Coast Guard Aviation!
badge
Those dang kids just keep growin'
Avatar
Microbadge: Golden Geeklister
What a delicious delicious month for reading! Ah July, with your beach days and your pool days and your prime reading moments.


Fall; or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

External image


First let me tell you how much I loved this insane beast. Spoilers follow, but short version is that I loved it. I loved it. A new NS release is a life event for me. I'm a superfan for sure, freely admit.

He has his greatest success and greatest stumbles when he swings for it. And he took a big swing on this one. It's next level cyberpunk. How far can you push cyberpunk? You can push it pretty far. Metaphysical cyberpunk. Another small point I want to make about him, he jumps away from some of his most pleasing/compelling ideas and it's almost like Kurt Cobain coming up with a melody that he feels will be too radio-friendly.

There are slog moments in here. There were slog moments in Quicksilver, but these might be sloggier. The sloggy parts of Fall still don't rise to the endless-feeling dinner conversations in Anathem, so I guess this is his second-sloggiest. I feel like maybe it's his "worst" book (even though I loved almost every page.)

With all the callbacks and shades of nearly ALL of his earlier works it's certainly an indulgence for superfans like me.

Spoiler highlights:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I was blown away at the sheer audacity of boring the reader with Dodge's ruminations in the first chapter. I thought this must be going somewhere, but I can't believe he's doing this. Almost like he was intentionally driving off the lightweights. Loved the payoff on that stuff. Lucifer trapped in Hell was actually coming up with ways to render his world in higher-resolution. So many layers of literary gamer indulgence. I am so totally the target audience for that arc.

And yes I ran right out and ordered the D'audiares' mythology books for my kids.

Next item. Feeling that maybe he'd been playing a lot of minecraft over the last few years! (Which I also love!) Dodge's hellish static snow (crash) finding some order in the chaos cyberpunk moment - I found that to be beautifully written. His creation of his Minecraft environment, and switching it from creative mode to survival mode. The backend real world processing power of the digital afterlife! So cool!

An example of my above comment of a cool idea thrown out and abandoned - the notion of El Shepard controlling robots from beyond the grave. That's a novel on its own right there!

Oh man.

The journey itself is my least favorite part of any fantasy novel. Dragonlance and Robert Jordan, man it feel like all they ever do is hike around. Sloggiest bits from this were the fantasy novel treks. Adam's career as a woodsman? What the-? But still I loved it.

Loved the mythology. The Pantheon, the titans, the giants, the wild souls. Loved all that. Hoping he revisits it all in a future novel. I remember reading in an interview that early he'd created and then trashed a huge fantasy epic complete with maps and mythology. I wonder if any of that material made it in?

I liked his version of creation/fall much better than Pullman. Felt like young Stephenson enjoyed Sunday School more than young Pullman!

I was cheering when Enoch Root showed up of course. But a little annoyed that he killed off Randy and Amy with one sentence (they shouldn't have been that old?) The whole time I was wondering if they were characters we encountered later within Bitworld.

I could keep going on and on and on. For me it was like eating a huge indulgent bowl of ice cream. So much ice cream that I had indigestion. Or maybe like Thanksgiving dinner. Too much to enjoy and oh so very indulgent.


Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

External image

Another delicious read for sure! Notes of Stephenson, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, PK Dick, and William Gibson; smart, cheeky, and clever.

Pretty tight novel that in the great cyberpunk tradition establishes a richly-developed alt-history in just a few flashes of detail. It's cyberpunk without the cyber. A great premise - the mini ice age of the 5th century becomes a multi-millennial ice age and the human race learns to hibernate. Our main character is a rookie winter cop, charged with staying awake through an incredibly hostile winter season. Sounds pretty cool already, right?

Fforde hangs just enough detail on this world to make it plausible, compelling, and pretty scary, all delivered in very Brit-wit deadpan. At its (cold) core it's a noir, and would likely translate beautifully to a mid-budget HBO miniseries. There's twists and turns and deceptions and half-truths woven throughout, and a little gothic horror/fantasy flavor stirred in as well. And yes there might be some zombies. It falls apart on him a little by the end, but hey! Highly recommended for your August beach read!
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: South Africa: Vestige of Colonialism [Average Rating:4.82 Overall Rank:19019]
Board Game: South Africa: Vestige of Colonialism


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
I absolutely love Trevor Noah's writing style. It has all the approachability and humor of his comedian profession, while at the same time not losing too much of the gravity of the serious stories. This book is basically insights of Noah's life as a person of mixed race growing up in South Africa, and it definitely opened me up to a new perspective.




The Case Study of Vanitas, Vol 1-3, by Jun Mochizuki
One of Mochizuki's previous manga, Pandora Hearts, on the surface is a fairly standard "shounen" (i.e. targeted towards young boys) fantasy/action manga, yet later on deconstructs some of the shounen tropes, while having some pervasive and mysterious lore. Vanitas also has hints of having pervasive and mysterious lore, although given the slightly sexy vampires it seems like it might be instead a deconstruction of "shoujo" (targeted towards young girls).




Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Continuing the Farseer series, I felt like this book made me care more about Fitz's day to day life than its predecessor, but it also felt like some of major plot events that he had to encounter near the end of the book could have been easily avoided. While I would have finished the series if it was available, I found out my local library system doesn't actually have the third book.



The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
I've read quite a bit of Norse mythology in the past, and was interested in learning about Inuit mythology as well as this book is a mashup of the two. Instead, this felt like an unpolished Kickstarter: good concept that couldn't make up for bad execution. There was unnecessary incest, and it felt like the characters at the end were acting in the way to force the plot to happen, rather than what would be in character.


Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell
I feel like this one was more on me rather than the book. I couldn't stand the writing style, but the writing style was thematic to the book's subject matter: the plight of rural impoverished Americans.
5 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Family: Game: Formula Dé / Formula D
Thomas Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
Read very little this month cry not happy. grandma's house will do that to you. Anyway, started Wind in the Willows didn't like it shake so I stopped reading.



Racing in the Rain
By: Garth Stein
Good book...if you like sadness soblue and evil devil. Sad to say I kinda liked it. Weird that they're making it into a movie
Review


The Princess Bride
By: Willam Goldman
Third best book I have ever read! (Don't ask what the top two are.) Didn't like the ending, yuk but love the characters' history chapter.
Review


The Feather Thief
By: Kirk Johnson
Probably my favorite nonfiction book because of how it hooks you and keeps you till it has caught you (fishing pun. shakegulpyuk)
Review
5 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
8. Board Game: King Philip's War [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:5581]
Board Game: King Philip's War
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Vital Lacerda fanMicrobadge: What's Your Game fanMicrobadge: D&D fan (3.5 edition)Microbadge: Capstone Games fanMicrobadge: Golden Girls fan
July is always my best reading month and this one was no different. I contributed to this list once about a year ago and then my reading fell off precipitously and I didn't come back, but I read a lot of great books this month and I want to talk about them. They're in order of my completion, from longest ago to most recent.

The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame by David Blacker

External image


As an (assistant) professor at a college, I'm interested in education and education reform. And this book takes an interesting perspective. Basically the argument is that public education began as a way for businessmen to have their workers get some baseline of competency so that they would be more efficient in their factories. But since mass unskilled labor is becoming less and less relevant to modern businesses it's no longer worth it to provide education to everyone. Instead the same kinds of techniques that are used by private equity firms to suck all of the money out of struggling businesses before completely destroying them are being turned on the public education system. The author suggests that there is nothing that can be done internally from the perspective of education reform particularly, but that instead that energy should go toward a holistic restructuring of society that will stop this as well as many other pressing societal problems.

Needless to say, this wasn't quite the book I was expecting, but I will say that I enjoyed it. There's a decent amount of discussion of some of Marx's economic theories that I wasn't really at all familiar with before reading this book. The author is definitely coming from a leftist perspective which may not be for everyone but he writes well and clearly about an interesting topic.

You, Me, and the Violence by Catherine Taylor

External image


This was a very unique long essay. It was about puppets and the military drone program, and the parallels between them. But that doesn't really do the book justice. A lot of it is transcripts of drone pilot communications juxtaposed with stories about going to puppet shows and discussions of the philosophical nature of puppets. Some of it is a discussion between the author and her brother who works as a drone pilot. But it's more than the sum of its parts. It's also briefly about the form of the essay. It jumps around a lot, and it does so on purpose, it embraces digression as a means of understanding. I'm not sure if it comes to a particular conclusion. I don't think it needs to. But I found it really impactful and thought provoking. I've never read an essay that was to such a degree an experience. Definitely one to check out if it sounds interesting, I at least haven't read anything quite like it.

The Compleat Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp, Fletcher Pratt

External image


A faculty member in my department loves this book and convinced me to give it a try. This is essentially a fun adventure book. Well, really three fun adventure books about the same characters, collected into one volume. It was written in the 40s and 50s, and in many ways it definitely shows its age. But it's also a lot more clever than I would expect an adventure book from 80 years ago to be, it's not just some pulp story. In all three stories our main character, a modern man, travels to various different fictional universes.

What makes these stories clever and unique (at least among what I've read) is the way in which they have our modern protagonist use the advantages he has being a modern person (he doesn't just get by with bringing back some technology). And the way that they take existing, potentially familiar stories and have the presence of a modern person change them is also impressive. At the end of the day it's still an adventure story, but it's a decidedly well done one.

Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman

External image


I'm still not sure what to make of everything in this book. I first learned about Rutger Bregman from some of his comments at the most recent Davos summit, where he really impressed me. This book is about a few things. On some level it's about a universal basic income, a fifteen hour work week, and open borders. All three of these are very interesting ideas and ones that are argued for competently by Bregman. But on another level it's also about the importance of utopian thinking. Bregman argues that a society should always be striving to improve, and the purpose of utopias isn't as some final perfect society that we can create, but rather as a guidepost to get us thinking about improving. I definitely agree with this perspective, which is why I can't stand the Steven Pinker stuff. Actually this book starts out a lot like a Pinker book, but then pivots to say that we still can't rest on our laurels. And it takes a shot at Fukuyama as well, the "end of history" perspective is antithetical to this kind of utopian thinking and striving for improvement.

With regard to the particular proposals that Bregman suggests for his utopian striving, I think there's some interesting stuff. He didn't completely convince me of everything but I think there's a lot of compelling arguments. He backs up everything he says with a lot of empirical research and he gives some nice historical perspective. It's also a very easy read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

The Devil's Alphabet by Daryl Gregory

External image


This is the third Daryl Gregory book I've read and I think at this point I'd say he's my favorite fiction author. This book is about a small town in rural Tennessee where fifteen years ago people started mysteriously changing. First, a number of people got very large and powerful, and their skin turned pale. They became known as argos. Then others, called betas, became sleek, hairless, and seal-like. And finally the charlies became grotesquely obese. In the process about a third of the town's residents died. Our main character, like some others, didn't change at all. But his two best friends became an argo and a beta, his father became a charlie, and his mother died. He left town not long after the changes, and is coming back into town for the funeral of his beta friend, with the intention of leaving right afterward. But of course he gets caught up in all of the town drama and ends up staying longer than he expected.

The characters do some speculating on the nature of the changes, but at no point is anything definitive landed on. Gregory isn't that kind of author, the book isn't really about the mystery of what happened or the exact mechanics of the three different kinds of people. He's just using that as a springboard to tell compelling human stories. I really enjoyed the book like I've enjoyed all of his others, but I can imagine if people go in with the wrong expectations they could potentially be really annoyed by a lack of a full explanation of everything. But the point is that the book explores the different ways that these changes impact people and uses that to hit on some really interesting big ideas. This is an author and a book that I heartily recommend.

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders

External image


This was a last minute surprise and possibly my favorite book of the month. My cousin gave me a ride from a family vacation and I noticed it in his car and started reading it. He told me I could keep it, and I'm really glad that I happened to pick it up. It was hilarious and entertainingly surreal, while also feeling like clever, biting social commentary. And it's short, and an incredibly easy read. I'd never heard of this author before but I'm now really interested in looking into more of his stuff.
5 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Podcast: The Adventure Zone
Anne Skelding
United States
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Goodreads userMicrobadge: Rolling for oneMicrobadge: My cat destroys games in progressMicrobadge: Tea drinkerMicrobadge: Maneki Neko - I welcome good fortune!
External image

It's the Adventure Zone!

The scene transition is much smoother in this one. The show was still finding its footing at this point, but they've done a good job of keeping to original while also buffing out those rough edges.


External image

It's both different and familiar--fantasy YA but from a different perspective--and those are both good things! I want to run out and buy the whole quartet but they're not all published/out in English yet.


External image

You know how most short story collections are a mixed bag, one or two great ones and mostly okay ones and one you just don't like at all? Not this one. There were ones I loved more than the others, due to personal preference, but they were all great! Of course, it's N.K. Jemisin. I expected nothing less.


External image

Nice. As dark as many original fairy tales, but remixed and rewritten.


External image

Difficult to say how I feel about this one. It is an ephemeral story, slow, meandering, with beautiful writing. It frequently does not do what you want it to do, which is usually for the best. I think that I am glad to have read it, but wouldn't want to read another, if that makes sense.


External image

Well. That was. a book.

The writing is gorgeous, and the world building is very interesting. But it's so, so bleak. I couldn't connect with any of the characters, and I didn't care what happened to them.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}