The dynamic duo Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, aka Gabe and Tycho, aka Penny Arcade are back! In volume 9, Passion’s Howl, they collect all their stThe dynamic duo Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, aka Gabe and Tycho, aka Penny Arcade are back! In volume 9, Passion’s Howl, they collect all their strips from 2008, plus lots of extra goodies, and of course, Jerry’s frothy, wet commentary to each strip that just adds to the experience.
In 2008, Penny Arcade was firmly established as the gurus of video game critique and commentary. In this collection it also becomes apparent that they don’t just need to be talking about video games to be funny, but their humor works on many levels and subjects, whether it is ordinary everyday things, or the fact that these men are adults now with families and responsibilities. Penny Arcade also has the knack to comment on cutting edge Internet developments, such as the strip “Le Twittre” from April 23 about Twitter and why anyone would ever want to have a Twitter account. Now, five years later, Gabe still doesn’t have one and stands by his decision.
The comic also gets meta at some points, as the pair happily make fun of themselves and their world with “Operation Myriad” on October 31, with a host of new video game releases and a new expansion to World of Warcraft, forcing them to create an elaborate schedule to get all these new games played. Or the fact that ping pong is an important game in their lives and at their work with the rest of their staff, competing with rival staffs from other companies, and in the artistic and hilarious “Paint the Line” series, they were able to address this.
Fans will have to add this latest volume to their collection, and if you pick this up, wanting to try Penny Arcade for the first time, you will be quickly swept away on a great and long journey that is still continuing to this day.
Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff and Bonk, brings her host of avid non-fiction readers to a whole new arena with Gulp. Welcome to the alimentarMary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff and Bonk, brings her host of avid non-fiction readers to a whole new arena with Gulp. Welcome to the alimentary canal, a politely titled journey from a single bite passing through our bodies into the toilet bowl. Just as with her other books, Roach employs her patented humor and obsession for the detailed and at times gross.
Unsurprisingly, Roach begins with the mouth and taste and the importance of the sense of smell with taste. She recounts her meeting with a person whose job is to taste wines and beers that are “off” in some way. This person has such a developed and trained palate, she knows what has been done wrong in the fermenting of the beer, or the preparation of the wine. Roach then continues on down the gullet with succinct chapters on each part, providing lots of details of how it all works, what the process is, and plenty of facts you might have never wanted to know about your throat, or stomach, or intestine. But the book is also bursting with lots of information to increase one’s general knowledge, such as why stomach acid doesn’t burn through your stomach lining. The shocking answer is that it actually does, but the stomach lining is constantly being replaced with fresh, new stomach lining cells. And this is why a dead person’s stomach acid will burn through their stomach.
Perhaps Gulp’s only failing is that the reader is left wanting to know and learn more, but the book has to end somewhere. In addition to biological and science details, Roach also provides lots of stories and histories of past experiments of what was done in learning about these body parts and how they worked. And for those really curious, yes, there are multiple chapters on flatulence. Readers will not be disappointed, but they never are with Mary Roach.
In River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay returns to the same world as he did with Under Heaven inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty, but jumps 400 years ahead aIn River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay returns to the same world as he did with Under Heaven inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty, but jumps 400 years ahead and presents one of his own unique partly historical fiction, partly fantasy novels, this time inspired by the Song Dynasty. River of Stars is another great example of Kay’s lyrical writing and creative talent, making it no surprise he is a bestselling author with many readers worldwide.
Ren Daiyan was just a boy when he was ordered out on a mission to protect a magistrate and when besieged by highwaymen fought and killed them all in cold blood. It changed him, made him advance beyond his years and see the world and his life in a new way. From that moment he was different and never returned home, taking a new path. He finds himself joining a group of outlaws, becoming a Robin Hood type character, feared by those rich nobles who must travel throughout Kitai to serve the emperor.
Lln Shan is a beautiful woman and the daughter of a scholar who has educated her in ways most women never are. She is a talented songwriter and calligrapher who soon earns the interest of the emperor. She finds herself uprooted from her simple life and transported to one of lavish opulence in the city of the emperor, but it is one she is quite inexperienced with and must learn the complex politics and ways that a noble woman should perform.
As factions pit against each other and a war begins to brew in the north, Ren finds himself drawn to the wondrous city of Xinan and then Hanjin as he begins to serve the emperor in the army, doing what must be done to preserve the peace and the empire. He also meets a beautiful and talented woman by the name of Lln Shan.
River of Stars is well named, as it takes the reader on a literary pleasure cruise along a river of words and images, transporting them back in time to this great period of luxury and decadence, but also harshness. Kay does a good job of showing the various classes and levels of society, making this world seem not that different from our own, and certainly a relateable one. He also introduces his quasi-fantasy element; giving scenes and events a supernatural and spiritual feel that go beyond the mundane. Fans of Kay will delight in River of Stars, and for those looking to try the talented writer for the first time, this is a worthy example.
After the traumatic events of the bestselling Little Brother, Cory Doctorow returns with the sequel in Homeland, as Marcus Yallow finds himself in a hAfter the traumatic events of the bestselling Little Brother, Cory Doctorow returns with the sequel in Homeland, as Marcus Yallow finds himself in a harsh world where the government is always watching and waiting. His time being detained has scarred him in some ways — though not as bad as some of his friends — so that he is now less trusting than ever. But he also knows that while the truth may not set or keep him free, getting it out to the masses is more important.
Homeland opens with an entertainingly fantastic chapter where Marcus is at Burning Man for the first time in his life, which Doctorow describes with such detail that it seems as if he may have been once or twice himself. It culminates in a Dungeons & Dragons session with the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and actor Wil Wheaton. Marcus also comes across an old enemy and comes into possession of a flash drive with some very incendiary information.
Back in San Francisco, life is the same with Marcus’s parents out of work, as well as himself, with everyone trying to get by in this terrible economic climate. Marcus gets a job offer he can’t refuse: working as the webmaster and tech guy for a candidate running as an independent for the California Senate, looking to change the world and make it a better place. So things start to look up for a little while, but Marcus has to make the decision about what to do with the flash drive. It contains a torrent address and password that lets him download gigs of information on the corruption in the government, hard proof of what they have perpetrated, how they have tortured, under the guise of protecting the American people. Marcus will have to decide if his safety and health are worthy sacrifices for getting this information out to the people.
Doctorow keeps the thrill running just like he did with Little Brother, putting Marcus into tight spot after tight spot, using his friends when he can, but also knowing the risks of putting them in danger. Doctorow also does a great job of using cutting edge technology to make the story feel a little futuristic, but at the same time completely plausible. Fans will be sucked into Homeland and kept going until the last page, hoping for a possible future continuation to this chapter in the story of Marcus Yallow.
The legend of King Arthur is known in some form to most people, and has had so much literature written about that it’s quite astonishing. The real manThe legend of King Arthur is known in some form to most people, and has had so much literature written about that it’s quite astonishing. The real man likely lived sometime in the fifth century, but within hundred years of the man’s death – whenever it actually was – people began writing about him over the centuries and up to the present day. Not just biographies and supposed factual historical accounts, but plenty of fiction and historical fiction speculating on the period and what sort of man King Arthur truly was. In reality, it’s very unlikely he was ever actually an official king, but more of a great general for the Britons.
In King Arthur’s Battle for Britain, Erik Walmsley provides an accounting on Arthurs twelve battles pulling from sources like Nennius and Gildas, as well as many others be they short accountings or pieces of poetry. He also creates the scene and story with each battle, adding description and action, but also providing geographic detail and photos, as well as a brief history of the region. The book begins with introductory chapters on Arthur, who the man might’ve been, as well as the evidence that speaks for him, then a dedicated chapter for each battle with maps showing likely locations.
The one failing with King Arthur’s Battle for Britain is that as great of a story as Walmsley tells, he doesn’t cite his sources so readers aren’t sure what primary or secondary source he is getting certain information from, or whether he’s just adding his own fiction to create a stronger scene. Eric Walmsley is not a medieval historian, but he has researched this period and the sources for this book. While what he posits in King Arthur’s Battle for Britain needs to be taken with a grain of salt, it is nevertheless a plausible explanation for events recorded in these unconfirmed secondary Arthurian sources and who the man known as Arthur might have truly been like.
Verity Price is back, doing her best to juggle everything going on in her life, whether it’s working her job to get enough money to eat, checking on aVerity Price is back, doing her best to juggle everything going on in her life, whether it’s working her job to get enough money to eat, checking on and protecting the many cryptids of New York City who need help, and trying to make it big-time as a ballroom dancer. New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire first introduced us to the Prices and this unique world in Discount Armageddon, but in Midnight Blue-Light Special she doesn’t waste any time throwing the reader back into catastrophic mayhem. But then in you’ve read a McGuire novel before, you’d be disappointed if that wasn’t the case.
Verity Price has a big problem. Other than the fact that her boyfriend, Dominic, is a member of the clandestine, evil group known as the Covenant which is out to rid the world of all cryptids; it’s that the Covenant is coming to New York to check up on Dominic and see what sort of a job he’s doing, and decide if the city is ready to be purged of all cryptid life. So Verity has to get every cryptid gone or hidden, and hope none of the Covenant check underground for the giant dragon.
With a sequel, readers might have expected another fun adventure, but no, McGuire pushes everything to the limit here with an ultimate showdown that sucks the reader in and doesn’t let go. Building on the great world she started in Discount Armageddon, readers will be left wanting the next book in the series.
From 1979-1986, bestselling author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R . Martin wrote a series of science fiction short stories about theFrom 1979-1986, bestselling author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R . Martin wrote a series of science fiction short stories about the intrepid adventurer and unique character named Tuf. The stories were eventually collected into a single volume, called Tuf Voyaging that went out of print some years ago. The good people at Bantam have now brought these wonderful stories back into print for everyone to enjoy.
Tuf is originally a merchant and trader with his simple ship, Cornucopia of Gods at Excellent Prices, and enjoys his life traveling the galaxy with his cats who he loves, until he ends up with a new ship after an interesting adventure in the first story, “Plague Star.” Tuf now possess the Ark, a ship that hasn’t been used in over a thousand years, is thirty kilometers long, and is also a “seedship”; meaning it possess many seeds and genes and machinery to clone and generate life at astonishing speeds.
Tuf now dubs himself an ecological engineer and spends his time traveling the galaxy helping people with his incredible ship. The stories in Tuf Voyaging are refreshing and original and thoroughly entertaining, presenting a facet of Martin that few have seen.
T. Douglas Price is Weinstein Professor of European Archaeology Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Honorary Professor in the DepartmeT. Douglas Price is Weinstein Professor of European Archaeology Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Honorary Professor in the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Aarhus, and is the author of Images of the Past, Europe’s First Farmers and Principles of Archaeology. Europe Before Rome is a site by site exploration of a number of stone, bronze and iron age sites throughout Europe.
Europe Before Rome begins with a history lesson on early hominids leading up to the prehistoric period and into the stone age. Price uses a number of sites for specific evidence, explaining some of the importance of these sites, but never going into too much detail. After this introductory chapter, there are main chapters on “The Creative Explosion,” “The First Farmers,” “Bronze Age Warriors” and “Centers of Power, Weapons of Iron”; photos are provided, as well as diagrams where possible.
Ultimately, Europe Before Rome is more of a text book on these many different sites. Price reveals the important discoveries of many of the sites, but not really in any detail on what affect these artifacts have had on history and their importance.
After the bestsellerdom of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs and Steel and the popular Collapse, the talented anthropologist Jared Diamond returnAfter the bestsellerdom of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs and Steel and the popular Collapse, the talented anthropologist Jared Diamond returns with his long-awaited next book, The World Until Yesterday. But things have to be long-awaited for Diamond, as he doesn’t just keep churning out non-fiction books, but decides on what message he wants to tell and teach to his readers. He also spends a lot of his time lecturing, giving talks, and traveling around the world, as well as most importantly, to New Guinea where he does his research and has been visiting since the 1960s.
In The World Until Yesterday, Diamond goes into detail about what a number of traditional societies from around the world do and how they act and react when it comes to things like raising a child, religion, conflict resolution, treatment of the elderly and many other important subjects we all have to deal with in our lives. The traditional groups Diamond focuses on are: New Guinean tribes, Australian tribes, Eurasian tribes, African tribes, North American tribes, and South American tribes.
As with his other books, Diamond is not looking to tell the reader what to think or believe, but merely to illustrate what these traditional societies have done for many centuries, and what they continue to do, and what we can possibly learn from this. This includes the subject of child rearing and always keeping the child close in a skin to skin contact in the early years of birth, instead of putting the child in a stroller and away from the parent; or treating the elderly in a more respected manner, than putting them away in elderly care home; or having a detailed system to deal with conflict situations so parties that have suffered harm can be correctly compensated. Again, Diamond is not saying that the first world should adopt all these measures to better their society, but to learn from these and perhaps apply some of the techniques to help improve their lives.
As with any Diamond book, The World Until Yesterday is not an easy read, and takes some long focus and concentration to read through, but at the end of it the reader is filled with a new understanding about the world and how many traditional societies live and breathe in their own lifetimes. Diamond uses a poignant framing device of his boarding a plane in Los Angeles to New Guinea and talks about the world he is about to leave, and the one he is about to enter; and then does the opposite at the end of the book, leaving this traditional society he has become a part of for some time, and returning to the modern one in California. As with any Diamond book, it is an enlightening and fascinating story that is well worth the read.
There is a secret in this world, a very important one that may disappear before we even know it was there. Vietnam is a nation filled with history andThere is a secret in this world, a very important one that may disappear before we even know it was there. Vietnam is a nation filled with history and culture, but it is also a unique haven to some of the rarest animals on the planet; it is also one of the few places in this world where new species of fauna continue to be discovered. Gold Rush in the Jungle is the story of this most unique place.
Dan Drolette Jr. has been a quasi-naturalist; a nature and animal lover since he was a child, discovering a fascination and continuing with it throughout his life. He has written for publications such as Scientific American, Cosmos, Science, Boston Globe, and Natural History. His travels have taken him exploring and writing about flora and fauna as far and wide as Hawaii, Sweden, South Korea and Australia. Drolette Jr. first went to Vietnam in the late nineties and knew he had to return to study and write about his special place, which he did. Gold Rush in the Jungle is the culmination of all this work.
Vietnam’s jungles have remained relatively untouched, going through a turbulent history and a devastating war; ironically this has led to a somewhat protected habitat for its many species and plans. It has held back development and the advancement of civilization into the jungles, allowing the many animals to live in peace and multiply. But since the nineties, things have gone quickly downhill. With the rapid growth in animal trophies, and the use of animal parts as widely disproven medicines in china, poaching has become a very big business.
Fortunately, there are those who are fighting against this, starting up conservation groups and protected places in Vietnam, as well as national parks, one created as long ago as the 1960s with Ho Chi Minh. It is a very moving story, to see how animals like certain bears are barely kept alive to have their bile surgically removed, or the rhinoceros that used to inhabit these jungles and can no longer be found. Drolette Jr. goes into the history of this country, talking about certain rare animals that have since gone extinct, but there is still hope that one day they may resurface from these dense ecosystems.
Fans of Jared Diamond’s Collapse and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth will love Gold Rush in the Jungle, with Drolette Jr.’s easy to read style that sucks you in, opens your eyes, and educates you with ideas and thoughts you have likely never had. It is a powerful story of a very real place that is like no other, and will stay with you long after you have read the last page.
Vicki León certainly seems to have an ability for discovering and unearthing the bizarre and unusual, no matter what moment in history it seems to beVicki León certainly seems to have an ability for discovering and unearthing the bizarre and unusual, no matter what moment in history it seems to be from. She has written and published books for children, as well as adults, known for her popular anecdotal volumes, Uppity Women and Working IX to V, she now turns to a hotter and more illicit subject in The Joy of Sexus. Many people have heard certain “things” and “rumors” about what certain Romans, or Greeks, or Egyptians or people of the ancient world were up to during those pre-Christian times. In this book, León puts this all to rest with supplied evidence and confirmation or denial of what you might’ve heard or thought you knew to be true.
León is methodical in her approach with The Joy of Sexus, categorizing and laying the details out in an organized manner. She begins with “The Birds, the Bees, & the Body Parts,” covering subjects like aphrodisiacs of the ancient world, circumcision, contraception, pregnancy, and abortion. On numerous occasions León begins with the history, and then links it with either contemporary times or particular times when some of these strange practices were en vogue. Each entry is usually only a couple of pages long, giving the reader the salient and lascivious details, but not dawdling on for too long. Some of the other subjects covered in this book include: masturbation, pornographers, prostitution, Helen of Troy, eunuchs, hermaphrodites, adultery, divorce, gladiator sex lives, menstruation, sexual preference, and so much more.
Perhaps the key to The Joy of Sexus is that it is a short (320 pages) and small book that can easily be concealed in public, and by the same token with the short entries and thorough and exact contents listing, a particular section can easily be turned to and read, and the book quickly secreted away again. Whether you intend to take snippet reads of this book during your daily agenda, or plan to hide out somewhere and read it from cover to cover, the knowledge you will learn from this book will make you the envy at every gala and ball. The Joy of Sexus is also a great ice breaker and conversation starter for parties and social events, or perhaps even a first date.
Originally released in 1963, and made into a movie starring Rock Hudson in 1966, David Ely’s short science fiction book has been rereleased in 2013, aOriginally released in 1963, and made into a movie starring Rock Hudson in 1966, David Ely’s short science fiction book has been rereleased in 2013, and feels destined to be remade into a scifi summer blockbuster. While at times the novel feels very dated, there are many themes in the book that resonate with today’s reader and everything going on in the world.
Antiochus Wilson has the classic sixties life: a decent job which he has done well in and climbed the ranks, making a decent wage; at home he has a wonderful and dutiful wife; a daughter who has grown up and is living elsewhere now; but he is bored with his life. He has a couple of hobbies, like painting sometimes in the garage, or taking his boat out, but otherwise he’s just fed-up with everything. So when he gets the address and note that will change his life, he jumps at the opportunity.
Skipping out of work on lunch, he heads to the clandestine address on the other side of town. He finds himself in a strange warehouse where a stranger tells him to put on overalls and dirty himself up a bit. Then they head to another destination incognito and so starts the first minute of his new life. Antiochus “Tony” Wilson is being given a second, new life. Agreeing on an expensive package, he is killed off; a perfect cadaver left in his place, while he undergoes reconstructive surgery and comes out a new, handsomer man. A new life is created for him: a successful artist, with a new home in California. He is famous, people love him, especially the young models who post nude for him. What could be better?
Except Antiochus Wilson, for some reason, can’t let go of his past; can’t let go of his wife, or his daughter whom he rarely saw.
Seconds, in some ways, feels like a modern James Bond movie, where women play minor secondary characters, serving the men, yet everything else feels current and meaningful. The book plays around with the concept of identity and who one really is, and the true power of family. The company that gives these men second, new lives was conceived as a brilliant breakthrough that every man would want, but that seems not to be the case.
While Najmus Saquib earned his Ph D. in engineering, he is a philosopher at heart, with deep interests in literature, social dynamics and comparativeWhile Najmus Saquib earned his Ph D. in engineering, he is a philosopher at heart, with deep interests in literature, social dynamics and comparative religion. In God’s Facebook, Saquib sets out to show the evolution of God through the history of humanity, starting in early primitive times, and continuing up through the present and into the possible future. He does this partly with his own words, but also with quotes from many different sources, be they sacred texts, personal biographies, or even works of fiction. His goal is to show that with the many similarities in all religions, with how god is seen at the center, that people will see and understand this and feel that humanity is all one.
The book is divided up into chapters by time period, such as Chapter 3 – God is Born (250,000 to 2000 BC) or Chapter 4 – God Gives Us Religions (2000 to 1000 BC). In each chapter he covers that period in time with a short history of the religion and beliefs of the time, and what was changing. In every chapter there are numerous quotations from a variety of texts and people linked to the particular subject of that chapter. To break up the quotes, there are also “Coffee Breaks” and “Like” sections.
Saquib even addresses atheism in some chapters, though it doesn’t make much sense with the rest of the book, as the quotes are added in there as awkward pieces that don’t the puzzle of God’s Facebook. What feels missing from the book is a clear message. If Saquib is hoping to link humanity with just the quotes alone, that is not enough. It does show some of the numerous similarities with many religions, but as is true with many people of faith, they need guidance, and there seems little of it in God’s Facebook.
There have been many books written about the notorious explorers from history, like Columbus, Magellan, Cook and even Darwin. There are also now a faiThere have been many books written about the notorious explorers from history, like Columbus, Magellan, Cook and even Darwin. There are also now a fair number of people who can make the claim that they have circumnavigated this globe. Joyce E. Chaplin presents readers with the first full history on those who have traveled around the world and told their story.
Divided into sections, Chaplin presents the series of historical tales starting with Magellan, giving the ups and downs of the journey. She points out that it wasn’t until the twentieth century that these round-the-world trips actually returned to their starting point with most of the crew still alive. All the greats make it into this book, such as Francis Drake, William Dampier, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, and James Cook. When sea travel became safer, people like Charles Darwin made the journey, as well as some notable women like Lady Brassey.
With the advent of encompassing railroad travel and exotic cruise ships, round the world journeys became much more achievable and common for a lot of people. And with the advent of the space race, a new concept of circumnavigating the globe came into play, with an elite few achieving it. Chaplin has fun exploring these many journeys and why people seem driven to accomplish it. While her writing can get a little dry and long-winded at points, Round About the Earth still represents an interesting foray into this unique group of travelers.