Have you ever had an intelligent conversation about video games? Out of all my friends there is only one who I can talk to in video games that goes be...moreHave you ever had an intelligent conversation about video games? Out of all my friends there is only one who I can talk to in video games that goes beyond the basic “Did you beat (game title here) yet?”. When I say intelligent conversation I’m talking about a serious critique of a game. With this one friend I can tell him about that part in Mass Effect when I had to choose between Ashley and Kaidan. They were both pinned down by enemy forces but I could only get to one of them in time. The one I failed to choose would be killed. My jaw hung there as I stared at the screen. To lose a character after spending 20 hours is devastating, let alone having to pick between the two. Sophie’s Choice anyone? Anyway, that’s the kind of event that I like talking about when it comes to video games. When I try talking about Portal and my relationship with the Companion Cube, he kind of just gives me an unsure glace, not knowing the emotional turmoil I faced before dropping the Companion Cube in to the fire. In all fairness, I probably give him the same look when he talks about the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Extra Lives by Tom Bissell is an entire book made up of intelligent essays about video games and the emotion/psychological impact they have on players. He covers all the big games: Grand Theft Auto, Mass Effect, Fallout 3, Far Cry and more. He discusses how players identify with characters they can custom create like in Mass Effect versus characters that are build by the publishes such in Grand Theft Auto IV. It was really interesting because he present ideas and concepts that make sense and seem obvious but had never crossed my mind because I never thought about it in that particular way. This book will appeal to the college student who, in between studying, will take a break for a few quick rounds of Halo. Like Halo, it’s easy to lose track of time and you’ll find yourself saying “just one more chapter” until hours of have passed and you discover that you’ve spent your whole day reading/playing video games.
This book was a fond trip down memory lane for me. All the games he talked about I would get distracted thinking about them. The Mass Effect chapter was particularly hard because I have spent many, many, many hours in that game, and I consider it one of my favorites. I can not recommend this book enough. Even if you don’t play video games, you’re bound to know someone who does and Extra Lives would make a great gift. (less)
After the family horse dies, Fish, aptly named for his natural swimming ability, is sent from his family's farm to the city to earn money as a deliver...moreAfter the family horse dies, Fish, aptly named for his natural swimming ability, is sent from his family's farm to the city to earn money as a delivery boy. But after some mysterious coins that Fish was tasked with delivering get stolen, he inadvertently joins the crew of the Scurvy Mistress. Reluctant at first, Fish soon finds himself more at home on the sea than on dry land. He befriends his fellow pirates and naturally makes a few enemies just by being there. Now Fish must help the pirate captain unravel the clues leading to Chain of Chuacar, a valuable treasure not seen in many years, and prevent the mutiny being led by the first mate.
I typically don't think that young adult fiction and pirates are two things that go together considering that pirates aren't the most ideal role models for kids. However, this book does a good job of trying to stay faithful to pirate mythology while not encouraging the less favorable aspects of it. For example, after Fish is forced in to a fight, he opts to take a pacifistic approach in combat. His friend Daniel begins to teach him “non fighting” skills that reads as a form of mixed martial arts of some sort that is unnamed in the book. Speaking of naming things, there were a couple of small references in the book that annoyed me. Nora, the ship's cook, apparently invented the sandwich and the pirate named Jumping Jack invented a form of aerobics that he quickly named after himself. These aren't big deals but they broke the flow of the story. Kids who read this book and are less fact snobbish then myself probably wont care and may even find it amusing.
In the end this is fun read for kids/young adults who are fascinated by pirates. The chapters are the perfect length and full of action and adventure. This is not a boring book.(less)
In The Bucolic Plauge, Josh Kilmer-Purcell's latest memoir, he and his partner impulsively buy a farm in Sharon Springs, New York. Hilarity ensues.
I'm...moreIn The Bucolic Plauge, Josh Kilmer-Purcell's latest memoir, he and his partner impulsively buy a farm in Sharon Springs, New York. Hilarity ensues.
I'm tempted to just finish my review right there, but I guess I should say more. Okay, so Josh Kilmer-Purcell wrote the book called I Am Not Myself These Days about his life as an alcoholic drag queen with a drug addicted male escort of a boyfriend. It still stands as one of my favorite books. I am pleased that he returned to memoir style writing after a brief forte into fiction writing with Candy Everybody Wants.
Like I said, Josh and his partner Brent buy a farm. It's clear that they did not think the idea through because they have a really hard time getting the farm up and running. Not only that, but they must make the farm profitable if they want to keep it. Their solution, raise goats and grow tomato!
Overall I really liked the book and managed to read it over the course of a couple days. As I read it I liked the tension that builds as you wonder if they're going to be able to pull this off and keep the farm. It has many ups and downs. It wasn't all goats and giggles. There are parts that are not comical at all such as the deterioration of Josh and Brent's relationship due to the pressure of running a farm. I started wondering if the farm was going to cause the end of their relationship.
I enjoyed reading this book and found it to be a very touching story about two gays guys who buy a farm and the troubles that come with it.(less)
normally dismiss historical-fiction because I fear that it will be really, really boring and that I might accidentally learn something. So when I got...more normally dismiss historical-fiction because I fear that it will be really, really boring and that I might accidentally learn something. So when I got The Fiddler’s Gun I was conflicted. On the one hand I hate history and on the other, I love pirates. I was conflicted until finally my love of pirates won and started to read the book.
It was pretty awesome.
There was the initial culture shock from reading about people who didn’t know what a large hadron collider was but then I realized historical-fiction isn’t that much different from science-fiction and was able to continue reading with no problems.
Anyway, The Fiddler’s Gun (which takes place somewhere around 1755) is about a Fin, a tomboyish girl who lives at an orphanage in America. She in constantly defying the nuns and getting in to trouble. That trouble causes her to be banished to kitchen duty where she befriends Bartimaeus, the book with a mysterious past. One thing leads to another and Fin kills some English soldiers and is forced to run away. She is mistaken for a man and joins the crew of the Rattlesnake. Luckily she feels right at home aboard a boat full of men. Then they become pirates and fight people who don’t like pirates.
Like I said, it’s pretty awesome.
I know my description above probably wont sell you on this book. But it is a very beautifully written book that is chock full of adventure, drama, and romance.
My one complant, and it’s a major one, is that after 300-ish pages of rooting for Fin to get the happy ending she deserves, I find out that this is a two book series. And the second book, Fiddler’s Green, isn’t out yet. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Anyway, I don’t think I can recommend this book enough. I went in to it with low expectations (again, historical-fiction) and, like a ship being hit with a cannonball, I was blown completely away. You should pick up a copy at The Rabbit Room or even get the Kindle version for less than the cost of a gallon of gas.(less)
I really like Laurie Notaro's writing. Sure, I am the completely wrong target audience and when I went to her reading at Powells recently, I may have...moreI really like Laurie Notaro's writing. Sure, I am the completely wrong target audience and when I went to her reading at Powells recently, I may have been one of the only few guys in the audience. But Laurie's writing is funny regardless of your gender.
One of the perks of writing fiction as opposed to non-fiction/memoir like Laurie's previous books is that she is allowed to exaggerate the characters she uses in the story. This helps make them more memorable like Nola who is obsessed with gross reality TV shows or Martin, the fiance, who is obsessed with his job in at the produce department. Each character stands out on their own and help SLG have a great cast to follow.
Anybody who read Laurie's first fiction novel, There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going To Hell, should recognize the character of Ruby Spicer who met an unfortunate demise by spontaneous combustion at the end of the first novel. She is back in SLG as a ghost teacher who serves as a mentor to ghost Lucy. Ruby seems a lot more mellow in this book. Maybe death does that to people.
While I de prefer Laurie's memoir books to her fiction, her second fiction novel has shown real improvement of her first attempt at fiction. Spooky Little Girl is as a well-rounded, light-hearted ghost story about getting closure and haunting people you hate by deleting their TiVo.(less)
TPIAAWN is not the best piece of literature out there. However, it is a damn entertaining one. The fourth book in Defoe’s The Pirates! series sees the...moreTPIAAWN is not the best piece of literature out there. However, it is a damn entertaining one. The fourth book in Defoe’s The Pirates! series sees the Pirate Captain growing tired of his pirating ways and after losing the Pirate of the Year contest, decides to give up his life at sea and devote his life to bee keeping. The Pirate Captain and his crew then retreat to St. Helena and quickly become to most popular residents on the island until Napoleon shows, thus sparking an epic battle. An epic battle of egos that is. The Pirate Captain and Napoleon constantly try and one-up the other and this is were the book starts to fail.
There is very little seafaring, swashbuckling or jokes about ham. For the adventure doesn’t leave the island and fails to create an adventure-esque feeling. Fans of the Pirates! series will most likely enjoy this book because the humor is still there. Surprisingly no jokes about Napoleon being short. Weird. If you have never read one of Defoe’s classic novels, may I recommend you go read The Pirates!: An Adventure with Scientists first and work your way up to this one.(less)
Paper Towns is a fantastic novel. I easily read over the course of a couple days and completely neglected my school work (sorry Jane Austen). It remin...morePaper Towns is a fantastic novel. I easily read over the course of a couple days and completely neglected my school work (sorry Jane Austen). It reminded me of the pulp fiction stories that I have a soft spot for because essentially this book is a mystery novel. Throughout the book Quentin finds clues about who Margo was and what she was doing. Since the reader is just as in the dark as the protagonist, you try and figure out what happened and why. It’s so much better than the other mystery novels where there are clues discovered but are not revealed until the last moment. It’s a fantastic build up of mystery and suspense. Another compelling aspect of Paper Towns is that there are a wide variety of characters. One of Quentin’s friends is obsessed with correcting vandalism on the Omnictionary website (think Wikipedia) and has parents who collect black Santas. Margo herself is interesting because over the course of the novel it is revealed that she was different things to different people leading Quentin to ask the question of which Margo is the real Margo.(less)