Chicks Dig Gaming is—as you may have guessed—about how women enjoy gaming. It's a collection of essays, personal anecdotes and personal growth storiesChicks Dig Gaming is—as you may have guessed—about how women enjoy gaming. It's a collection of essays, personal anecdotes and personal growth stories that holds true to a core, fundamental truth: women enjoy gaming as much as men do, are as good at it and are as nerdy (read: potentially obsessive) about gaming as men. Dice and cards don't care if the person holding them is male or female.
It's hard to nail down exactly what to say about the book because of its inherent disjointedness. Any book structured like this will have contrasting styles, viewpoints, vocabularies and any other qualities you care to mention. Also, the writing quality tends to be a little less than consistent all the way through, which suggests to me that there were just too many differences for the editor to reconcile. As a writer and editor myself, I understand completely. The book is *very* well done in that regard.
The primary flavor of the book though, is quite clear. "I'm a girl, and I like games." Shouldn't seem like much of a problem, right? Unfortunately, all you need to do is look into your local gaming scene (video games or tabletop games, take your pick), and you'll see a variety of viewpoints on the issue, ranging from people who love having a woman in a gaming group to the complete opposite. It's a wall of six-sided dice that will one day come crashing down. Or maybe a house of cards would be a more appropriate metaphor.
But this is where my one criticism comes from. While there are those stories like *An Axe Up My Sleeve* are laugh-out-loud hilarious, there are those others that come off as *so* feminist as to be off-putting to the average reader like myself. I can't necessarily speak for my co-host Matt, but some of the stories made me feel a bit uncomfortable and/or offended because of how the author expressed her view. Sure, misogyny is still rampant in society, and I hate it. I hate the fact that my boss might make less than some guy doing her same job. I hate that a woman with more experience than me might get passed over for a job at some point just because of her gender. But some of the authors in this book tread a dangerous line of pressing their point so hard as to have the opposite effect and undermine their own argument. Feminism is a good thing. Misogyny—or any bias based on something arbitrary—is wrong.
People should read this book. Not just gamers and not just women, although they should absolutely read it, too. If you're a guy and you game, you should pick this up and give it a read. Challenge your beliefs. It might be a little uncomfortable at times, but muscle through it. You will end up making your life better by broadening your mind a little and make your games better by bringing in some truly *great* gamers....more
The Emerald Diamond starts out with a fantastic introduction about the rough-and-tumble world of baseball in the early 20th century. However, the qualThe Emerald Diamond starts out with a fantastic introduction about the rough-and-tumble world of baseball in the early 20th century. However, the quality in that beginning becomes progressively spottier as the page count grows.
Charley Rosen did a great job at writing the book--I can't and won't take that away from him. However, the book proclaims itself to be about how the Irish changed America's national pastime. While this is true in many respects, I feel that a lot of chapters were shoehorned into the book to try fleshing it out. Simple things like anecdotes from games in 1894 can be interesting, but can wear a reader down if they're too frequent or obscure.
Overall, this book tries to be comprehensive in its view of Irish/American and Irish-American baseball, but goes too far. The book--both organizationally and narratively--would have been much better served if Rosen had narrowed his focus down to a few of the most influential people and events in the game and cut the detritus. As it is, the book has a chapter dedicated to the most famous of the Irish managers--people like John McGraw and Connie Mack, but an entire book could be written on any one of these people. But one chapter? It's better than nothing, but surely at least one of the chapters on Irish records could have been truncated to make room for a more interesting survey of some of these great men....more
We're lucky to be able to have a book like this in print--two of the greatest players of the last half-century discussing what they do best. The biggeWe're lucky to be able to have a book like this in print--two of the greatest players of the last half-century discussing what they do best. The biggest issue I had with the book is that it didn't seem like Lonnie Wheeler did a very good job trimming the fat. There is a lot of repetition in the book, which leads me to feel that the editor just sat down with the two players and asked questions, then transcribed his recording verbatim. While normally this would be fine, it led to both men giving the same anecdotes or advice several times throughout the book, which just gets tiring after a while. It's a good book, and holds fascinating advice and insights into both sides of the pitcher/batter duel, but ultimately suffers from being a little too padded in spots. Very good book, but you can also tell that the interviewees were tired of the process by the end, so a lot of the content toward the latter part of the book is less interesting. It would have been good if the final chapter--Forty Years of Change--could have been longer, because that was really interesting, but I guess we'll just have to wait for volume two, right?...more
No disrespect to Alan Schwarz, but I felt The Numbers Game was lacking in that the concept was unique and interesting, but the writing was hackneyed and wooden. Like Schwarz was really excited by the concept, but that excitement got lost when he put pen to paper. As a result, it's hard for me as a reader to get excited about it.
Another issue I found with this was the style Schwarz adopted: describing a person who's important to the topic, but an unknown to everyone else. Then he sets off their name with a colon and ends a section or a chapter. I like to call this the Ken Burns method. It goes something like this. "Then in 2004, a book finally did come out, and the author would go down as one of the foremost compilers of nonsensical statistical errata: his name was Alan Schwarz." Used prudently, this can be an effective tool in a writer's toolbox. But when you use it as much as Schwarz does, it grows tired very quickly.
Alan Schwarz is a good writer—you can see that from the myriad pieces he's written and the wide readership his articles enjoy. But I don't think the transition from short-form to long-form writing agreed with him all that well. The writing is lackluster and full of cliche. Although each chapter taken in a vacuum might read well, the book taken as a whole is left wanting....more
A lot of people that don't pay much attention to baseball might think the modern steroids scandals are one of the worst things that ever hit the game.A lot of people that don't pay much attention to baseball might think the modern steroids scandals are one of the worst things that ever hit the game. Although people that argue this point might not know it, but the Black Sox Scandal of 1919 went so far as to nearly destroy the game in its professional, organized form.
The book Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series is a meticulously researched volume, and is probably one of the finest pieces of what is now known as "narrative nonfiction." Essentially, it's a book that, while nonfiction, reads like a novel. All the players are fleshed out as interesting people, and the events (convoluted though they are) are laid out in a way that makes them fairly easy to understand. Your heart breaks for the players who got pulled into this scheme against their better judgement, and who subsequently lost their livelihood and the game they loved. All these men could probably be in the hall of fame now but for this episode that nearly destroyed everything they cared about.
The book is laid out in a fairly linear fashion, going through each stage of the process of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Reds, and the exposure, trial and aftermath that came after. It also sheds a light on some of the lesser-known movers and shakers that took advantage of everyone in the loop to line their own pockets and let others take the fall.
Not only is this an extremely well-written book, it's made all the more tragic when you know the results. I can heartily endorse this book to anyone who is interested in the history of baseball or sports, but doesn't know quite everything about the situation they might want. Even those who know fairly well what happened nearly 100 years ago would do well to pick this book up--it's full of new information about one of the darkest events in baseball history, and can easily earn a spot in any fan's book collection....more
Sue Johnson has cred in that she actually practiced what she is preaching in this book. Granted, it's from the other side of the counselor's office, but she offers stories about how the process helped people get over the problems they were facing and begin drawing together as a couple so they could move forward with life and deal with challenges effectively.
I found this book to be quite well-written in addition to having great content. I'd not only recommend it to anyone having a hard time with their relationship, but even anyone who is just having a hard time relating to the other person. Or if you're the one that's having trouble being related to. Basically, it's a book for everyone....more
As with any compilation of short stories, The Book of Cthulhu is hit-or-miss. Fortunately, there are more hits than misses, although some of the storiAs with any compilation of short stories, The Book of Cthulhu is hit-or-miss. Fortunately, there are more hits than misses, although some of the stories are short and confusing. Some, namely by T.E.D. Klein, Brian Lumley and Ramsey Campbell offer intricate, involved stories with interesting characters. On the other hand, some authors seem more interested in trying to portray a Lovecraftian world at the expense of actual Lovecraftian horror. It's not enough to include tentacled monsters--there is a certain feel you get when you read Lovecraft H P that are just absent in the lesser works.
That being said, this is a great collection. It gets four stars for the simple fact that the quality isn't consistent. If I were rating it based on half the stories in here, it would be much different, but the good ones tend to outweigh the bad, much like other collections in the Cthulhu mythos. The Book of Cthulhu is a solid enough read for anyone interested in the Mythos, and can (probably) be enjoyed at a certain level even if one isn't familiar with the works of Lovecraft....more
Matthew Berry is arguably the foremost authority and pioneer in the realm of fantasy sports, so I guess I was expecting something about where fantasy sports came from, its place in the world and things like that. Rather, Berry gives us over 300 pages of two- to three-paragraph anecdotes about people who take their fantasy sports (read: football) hobby way too far. Sorry. Being sure that you make the draft while your wife is giving birth sounds like you've got your priorities mixed up. Drafting your team while you're lying in a hospital bed with a broken hip after a motorcycle accident is not determination. It's insanity. But those are primarily the stories Berry chose to include.
Although the book is about 80 percent composed of these stories, there are moments of relative clarity when Berry actually decides to give us a little bit about the growth of the game. Specifically, he talks about his experience with the hobby earlier in his life and how he was able to work his way through crappy jobs, hectic schedules and life events to get to where he is now. It's a good story, but even if he'd added a lot of fluff to it, it wouldn't have been able to stand on its own as a book.
When all is said and done, I think the biggest flaw in this book isn't the writing. Berry has a good voice and he's easy to read. Rather, I think he doesn't set clear expectations in the beginning. Those that he does kind of set are ones that he ends up breaking (or bending) later on. The book also starts to feel a little myopic, since basically every mention of a fantasy sport focuses on fantasy football. Since I only really care about fantasy baseball, this was another turn-off for me.
In all, the book is well written, but poorly executed. It's good for people who want to read a bunch of anecdotes taken from insanely obsessive hobbyists loosely organized into sections and chapters. However, it's not all that good for people who actually want information on the growth and life of the hobby....more
I just finished the audiobook, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally get around to reading it. Before I get deeper into the review, II just finished the audiobook, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally get around to reading it. Before I get deeper into the review, I want to recommend it if you're at all interested in the giants of science-fiction.
Now we come to it: Blade Runner (originally Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) takes place in the year 2020--the world is covered in radioactive dust after a nuclear war, and a good share of humanity has emigrated to Mars or other colonies. But androids walk among humans, and the main character has to "retire" them. The basic premise is simple enough, but that's where simplicity ends.
The world Philip K. Dick created is dark, gritty and reminds me a lot of a technological future as imagined by a 1920s noir writer. But a lot of writers could do that. But what sets Dick apart is his ability to make it real. Although the writing can start to become a little overdone at times, the reader can practically smell the dead foliage, rotting beneath a layer of dust and feel the crushing despair that pervades society. Along with that comes relief and triumph when the characters have good experiences.
The characters are deep--they're probably some of the most complex and alive characters I've read in a book for a long time. Especially in sci-fi. For example, the main character Rick Deckard is apathetic toward most things--the predominant religion, his marriage and his job as a bounty hunter. The one thing that seems to bring him joy is animals. Then there are other characters, each with their own things driving them, and the author weaves these threads into an amazing tapestry.
Again, as I mentioned, the one thing that pulled me out of the story was the occasional lapse into overdone (purple) prose. There were no obscure words he'd obviously fallen in love with, but the metaphors seemed forced at times. But that's it. As far as the world, characters and story are concerned, I've not read a book this good in a long time....more
I first came across H. P. Lovecraft and his fiction more by accident than anything else. I was listening to a fiction writing podcast, and the castersI first came across H. P. Lovecraft and his fiction more by accident than anything else. I was listening to a fiction writing podcast, and the casters mentioned that his writing can be purple, but any of the bad is well worth getting to the good. Boy, they were right.
Let's start with the good: Lovecraft is able to set an atmosphere of uneasiness and fear like nobody else. Whether the story is set in a mythical sunken city or a haunted house in Arkham, we can get a sense of the genuine fear that the characters feel when they begin to understand the immensity of the horror they're involved in.
Second, the type of horror Lovecraft wrote is much better than the stereotypical stories in the horror genre nowadays. It's not slasher fiction, thank the heavens! Instead, it's got more to do with regular people who encounter thing that are so horrific that there's no way to deal with it--rather, they just have to run. And although most of the stories follow this same pattern and the end is telegraphed early on, you find yourself brought through the story regardless.
Now for the less appealing parts. Lovecraft's style is a lot older than the time he wrote in. His style--even in his later work--is reminiscent of Poe in its complexity, which isn't always a good thing. Sometimes he goes over the top with it, and the prose turns purple like a blushing smurf. And a couple of his stories tend to stray into xenophobia, although I didn't notice it being as severe as some people have suggested.
In all, this particular book brings many of Lovecraft's best stories, and a couple of lesser quality. But the good far outweighs the bad, and is well worth a read if you're interested in horror, giant/old monsters or classic American literature. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. There isn't much I can say about H.P. Lovecraft that hasn't already been said a bajillion times, but I can take a stab atI really enjoyed this book. There isn't much I can say about H.P. Lovecraft that hasn't already been said a bajillion times, but I can take a stab at it.
The Road to Madness is a collection of Lovecraft's stories, but it feels like the collection's quality is hit-or-miss. Some of the earlier works are there, and are fun to read, but when you look at some stories, they are clearly better than others. However, this does give a good insight into some of the progress that Lovecraft made as an author, and the changes his style underwent.
That being said, I don't think I'd read it again. For one, the cover art is really freaky, and I'm worried that it'd give my kids nightmares. The stories are good ones--and ones you see less frequently that others--but there are certainly better collections out there. ...more
Frequently, second books (or, in this case, second volumes) are just that--second books. They tend to ride in the first book's shadow, and never reallFrequently, second books (or, in this case, second volumes) are just that--second books. They tend to ride in the first book's shadow, and never really live up to its original mastery. The Ryira Revelations is a series that bucks this trend. Like The Empire Strikes Back, Rise of Empire takes the characters into situations that sets a perfect stage for a satisfying third book.
The plot is well-constructed, and feels like a natural continuation from the first book. But that's not to say that it's like a middle child. Rise of Empire is able to stand on its own quite well, although you probably wouldn't want to read it in a vacuum. If you did, the author provides some background on some of the events that took place earlier, but you might still be at a loss about the characters' motivations and personalities.
Which brings me to my next thought. Characters in these books are very well thought out and developed. You can't necessarily guess what they will do before they do it, but you can understand why they do things based on what you know about them. That's not to say that you are going to pick this up and get a life-changing character drama. You won't. That's not what this series focuses on. However, you will get well-written characters in a compelling plot that fits into the overall story quite well. It's the kind of part-two book that makes you want to instantly pickup the third installment....more