Posts Tagged ‘Books’

[Review] Revere: Revolution in Silver

Revere: Revolution in Silver Revere: Revolution in Silver by Ed Lavallee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having never seen the original 4-issue miniseries, I am glad Archaia Studios put out this deluxe collection because Revere: Revolution in Silver is a tale that demands to be read by all. The simple premise — Paul Revere fights off Werewolves during the early days of the American Revolution — grabs you by the throat; it’s amazing more tales like this, combining the early history of our nation and the supernatural, have not been done (and those that want more like this, should immediately go and buy Colonial Gothic: Rulebook). The tale has a nice pace, the writing is superb and the art both unique in style and evocative of the era and tone. The only flaw I find is that it is only the beginning of the tale and we are left with a very nail-biting cliffhanger! I want more!

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[Review] 40 Years of Gen Con (And More Thoughts on RPG History Books)

I wrote the following review at Goodreads, but I have more to say after it.

40 Years of Gen Con 40 Years of Gen Con by Robin D. Laws
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hard to believe that Gen Con has been around for 40+ years. Heck, hard to believe that roleplaying games have been around for almost that long! And right there, in the space where believing these statements are, amazingly, true, is where 40 Years of Gen Con lives.

Robin Laws had his work cut out for him in setting out to put together this book. Made up of a pastiche of chronological interview quotes from a vast array of people associated with Gen Con throughout its history, the book gives you a transcribed oral history of this most central gathering of the Hobby Gaming Industry. From its days as a tiny gathering at chez Gygax, to its move to current and gigantic home in Indianapolis, you can follow the wonderful and weird history of the convention, and in many ways of the industry as well.

If I have one qualm about the book is that, personally I would have preferred an actual written-out narrative of the history instead of the put-it-together-yourself approach of the various interview segments. A thousand kudos to Robin Laws for having the patience and the archeological skills to assemble a narrative out of all those interviews, though; that alone should win him some sort of prize.

Our hobby, our industry, has officially entered its second generation of life, and we’ve already begun to lose some of the pioneers. I continue to be amazed that there has been no effort to create a biography of the hobby/industry up to now, though 40 Years of Gen Con is a fantastic proxy that deserves to be in every gamer’s library.

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It is very strange to me that after over four decades of hobby gaming, from historical miniatures to the latest games debuting at Gen Con, this is the one history book about/on our hobby/industry available. Surely I cannot be the only one who sees value in there being a written history of the development of the industry, the development of the types of games, and even of some of the games themselves.

40 Years of Gen Con, beyond any flaws it may have, is a brilliant artifact because of the gathering of otherwise hard to find/lost information about that one (very defining) aspect of our hobby.

In 2014 we will see the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons (and my own, but we’re not talking about me now). Will we see a book on the history of this pivotal game? I hope so. I so hope so. But more than just a D&D book, I want to see a book (many books?) on the history of our hobby.  We deserve to have our history chronicled, and no one but us will do it.

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2009 in Books

December 27, 2009 9 comments

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This wasn’t my best year for reading books, I will admit. I had an early surge but after February it all went a bit downhill, and now towards the end of the year I have had to push myself through a couple of books that are really good but that I seem to lack the discipline to finish. I’m looking forward to fixing that in 2010.

I ended up reading a lot more non-fiction than fiction this year, interestingly enough. The fiction I did read this year, however, was fantastic and truly rewarding.

This list includes books, roleplaying games and graphic novels.

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[Book Review] The Year of Living Biblically

January 26, 2009 1 comment


The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs
rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this book, aside from a humorous tour of the Bible. I was pleasantly surprised to find an honest, if at times irreverent, attempt by Jacobs to not only follow the Bible as literally as possible (something we discover quite early on is not necessarily as plausible an option), but also to get into the mindset of someone who does follow the Bible out of conviction. Being Jewish, Jacobs spends more time on the “Old Testament” section, grappling, much like his Biblical namesake did, with the divine and the heritage of his ancestors, whether the few generations in recent memory or the Biblical forefathers.

His quest is a bizarre one at times, but while he draws humor out of the whole project, it also showcases what it is to deal with the idea of Divine instructions for living, something I was able to identify with extremely well given the road I traveled on my way to my conversion to Judaism. I also very much appreciate that Jacobs never mocks, even when dealing with ideas that simply do not match the furthest lengths he is willing to stretch his mind; that respect is what makes this book and saves it from the disaster it could have been. Jacobs’ journey shows that you cannot grapple with the Divine and come out unchanged, but it also shows that we each have our own path to take when it comes to our relationship to the Divine and that each path is a valid one.

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[Book Review] Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri 
rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is easy to see why Lahiri won critical acclaim and the Pulitzer Prize with Interpreter of Maladies: these are stories that resound with emotional punch, unhindered by gimmicky prose or twisted plot devices, laser-focused explorations of the human condition. Though Bengali immigrants are Lahiri’s predominant type of characters, we also get a couple of stories set in India, where we get to see a glimpse of the society the other characters have emmigrated from. This is the kind of book that anyone can read and get lost in, and in fact, everyone should.

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[Book Review] The Namesake

The Namesake The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri 
rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic novel by a talented writer. To me a good book is characterized by two things: it makes me want to read more from that author, and it makes me want to write as well, reminds me of the magic of the written word. The Namesake accomplishes both.

Anyone who is an immigrant, or can still identify with their immigrant heritage, is sure to connect with the story of the Gangulis, whether they are the immigrants themselves or the first generation of Whatever-American. Lahiri’s simple prose gets to the emotional point of each sentence without making it sappy or heavyhanded; you truly come to care for each member of the family and their own struggle, and especially for Gogol, whom you learn his past and present and surrounding circumstances straight from their own point of view. There is no gimmick here, no surprise revelation, no conspiracy of any sort, just a straightforward story of lives lived between two sides of one self, and the reprecussions of lives split in two, whether the parts are old/young, male/female, Bengali/American, past/future.

After reading The Namesake there is no doubt left why Lahiri is hailed as one of the best new writers in modern American literature, why we suddenly care so much about the lives and dreams of the Bengali-Americans that inhabit her stories: in many ways, they are us, and we are them, and Lahiri is slowly showing that truth one brilliant book at a time.

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Book Review: Up, Up and Oy Vey!

Up, Up, and Oy Vey!: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped the Comic Book SuperheroUp, Up, and Oy Vey!: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero is an excellent (if quick) look at the influence of Jews, Judaism and Torah on the creation of the genre of comic books. Rabbi Simcha Weinstein is an avid collector who knows the genre, knows the history, and presents it in very digestable format based around a concept and a superhero or team of heroes that embody it. Jews make up a disproportionate percentage of the early pioneers of the comic book genre mainly because in the 30s and 40s it was one of the few jobs Jews could have in publishing, and whether consciously or not, these guys drew on their experiences as Jews (and all that entailed, from the immigrant/children of immigrants experience, to their varying levels of observance, to their place in a still anti-Semitic society) when creating the characters that would live for decades to come and become American icons. There are books that tackle the subject more in depth, but this one has the advantage of also expounding the connection to the Torah, which makes it unique in the field of Jewish publications. Any Jewish fan of comic books should get and read this book for sure.

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Comic Books: The One That Hooked Me!

(Taken from GM Skarka, Judd Karlman, Steve Kenson,

Entertainment Weekly has a web article where some famous folks talk about the comic book that hooked them.

For me, it was my first American comic: The Amazing Spider-Man #300.

It was 1988, I was 13; I was at the mall with my family and I was allowed to wander off to the nearby toy store while they shopped for clothes or something. I’d gone into this store before to look at the toys, but I’d never paid attention to the area near the front where they had a bunch of comics. For some reason that day I decided to take a look over there, and this issue grabbed my attention immediately. Spider-man in black?! Awesome!

I went over to my mom and asked for $2 to buy the comic, which she gave me without any fuss (I think it’s because it was for the comic book and not for video games) and I bought my first (American) comic. Now, I’d been buying comics for a long time already, but mostly of the .25-cents funny book variety in Spanish, of which they carried a lot in the stores in Puerto Rico (as well as some comics brought over from Mexico, like Memin and Kaliman), but Spider-Man 300 was the one that truly hooked me into comics as a hobby (addiction), one that I would indulge in for about a decade after that.

These days I don’t really buy comics anymore; I’ve lost patience with the monthly format and frankly, I’m so out of touch that, every time I go to the comics store thinking about getting back in, I get so lost that I simply leave. I did start buying some trade paperbacks for Marvel’s new Ultimate line (X-Men in particular) and have enjoyed them a lot, so I have kept buying them. My friend Josh is still very much a comics addict, so I now raid his house for new stuff to read.

Funny thing is, even though I started with Spider-Man, shortly thereafter I dropped it (after the wedding issue, I believe) and made the jump to the title(s) that would become my absolute favorite to this day, X-Men.

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Short Book Review: The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor

December 9, 2007 2 comments

This was a great and fun read from start to finish. I’m a sucker for re-interpretations of the classics, and from the moment I saw The Looking Glass Wars on a table at the Miami International Book Fair I knew I had to read it.

Beddor knows his stuff, and he can spin a good yarn very well. His extrapolation of Wonderland is fantastic and it feels very much like a living, breathing world. Half the fun is figuring out the supposed real source of the caricature presented by Lewis Caroll in his Wonderland books, but the other half is getting lost in the story of Alyss’s struggle to regain the throne of Wonderland from her evil aunt Redd. I’m very glad this is just the first in a projected trilogy, and I anxiously await the next installment, Seeing Redd.

Oh, and for the roleplayers out there, this world rocks as a setting for a game. Seriously.

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Harry Potter 7 Street Date

February 2, 2007 Leave a comment

And Scholastic has decided the happy, happy day shall be

July 21, 2007

Marks your calendars now!

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