August 27th, 2016

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

I read a load of books this last week.

First was Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach. I've heard good things about this author before, and I intend to read a couple more of them, but this book was given to me as a gift from my wife, so I pushed it up to read right away, and liked it very much. The author picks and chooses a variety of topics within the domain of the American military, each one quirky and fascinating. Well worth reading. I expect that I'll drag another book of hers out to read soon.

Next was Osprey Raid #29: The Hunt for Pancho Villa: The Columbus Raid and Pershing's Punitive Expedition 1916 – 17. You know, the border between the United States of America and Mexico has always been rather porous. Heck, when most of the West was still Mexico, the invasion of folks looking for their financial success was US citizens taking jobs from Mexicans. In this book, a whole American army invades northern Mexico hunting Villa and his troops. I found this one particularly fascinating to read, therefore.

Then, Gamemastering Secrets, an RPG book discussing tips and tricks for better game running. I've run RPGs for a long time, though not in the last year, but I intend to get back into it soon, so I'm going to be reading several books on the subject just to brush up and give good gaming. This one heavily expanded on specific games that I've never played, but it did give me a number of interesting ideas for future play.

Next, Bread: A Global History gives some details on the long association of bread with civilization, with a variety of breads that not only cover loaves, but also flatbreads and so forth. Moderately interesting. The last twenty or thirty pages are filled with recipes, for those who might be seeking such.

Following that I read Osprey Vanguard #11: US 2nd Armored Division 1940 – 45, a book that was fairly easy to read. The plates weren't much, the photos fairly standard, the text gets the points across but weren't all that terrific. Not bad, not excellent.

Next, Croaked: More Tales of the Firefly Witch, a book that essentially isn't available. Alex Bledsoe wrote a number of stories about a witch, living in the South, who is blind, except during the time of year when fireflies appear; when they are around she can see. Honestly, these stories (and this is a very short story collection) are very good reads, and I really like the characters. Unfortunately, the publisher went belly-up, and you can't find the books anywhere. Feh. I've liked the two things I've read now, but there's several others that I just can't find. Too bad...

Then, Osprey Vanguard #15: The Sherman Tank in British Service 1942 – 45 which really does pare down the history of the Sherman to just its use in the armed forces of the United Kingdom, not US, not Canada, not Israel. It's kind of nice to see them keep it to just that small subset; it allows more detail overall. I liked it.

Next was the book Osprey Vanguard #17: The Stuart Light Tank Series, not quite so pared down as was the previous book, and so it felt ... lighter? Anyway, not bad, but not the best.

I followed that book with Osprey Vanguard #18: The Panzerkampfwagen IV. In a rather odd conversation with a friend not long ago, I asked him if he had a favorite tank from WWII (yeah, I know, really odd conversation), and he mentioned this one. It was the workhorse tank for the Germans from early in the war until the end...and apparently the last time the tanks were used in combat was in a Syrian-Israeli conflict. Given that they were pretty well-engineered, you can understand their continued use until outright destroyed.

And that's that for this week...

Book 41

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Pages: 317
Summary: What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

My thoughts:
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Books 25 and 26

25. Speaking of Murder, by Les Roberts, with Dan S. Kennedy. Another fun addition to the Milan Jacovich series. Roberts again teams up with Kennedy, this time to explore the world of public speaking and motivational seminars. In this story, Milan and Kevin O'Bannion are hired on as extra security at a convention for high-profile (and some not-so high profile) motivational speakers. Of course, it doesn't take long for one of them to wind up dead, and Milan and his lady friend Tobe Blaine, a homicide detective with the Cleveland police find no shortage of suspects. I have said it before, but I love the dynamic between Milan and Tobe, although I noticed some of the exchanges seemed sharper at times. I was especially happy to see the return of Victor Gaimari, the head of Cleveland's mob. He's a fun character, one you can't decide whether to love him or hate him, and you often wind up doing both in the same book. All in all, this was another excellent mystery, with great dialogue, some good laughs and excellent action. In addition, I had no idea whodunit until the end.

26. Hamilton, the Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. I read about two-thirds of this before seeing Hamilton, and finished the rest on the car ride home. If you are a fan of the musical, or curious about it, or like a good behind-the-scenes book on the making of a musical, you must get this book. It's a lovely book, filled with gorgeous full color photos and tons of information on the play. The book is set up with headlines that read like something from Hamilton's era, and the chapters include interviews with the cast (the ensemble as well as the main cast) and the creative team behind this blockbuster show. It also includes Lin-Manuel's notes and pages of early drafts, costume concepts and more. In addition, the book includes the full libretto, with Lin-Manuel's side notes on certain lines and passages sprinkled liberally throughout. Those side notes were my favorite part, and offered a peek into the thought process in forming the lyrics of this work.

Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany