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review 2018-07-15 14:47
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by McElroys
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins - Clint McElroy,Griffin McElroy,Justin McElroy,Travis McElroy,Carey Pietsch

This comes out this Tuesday, July 17th - order or pick it up from your local bookseller!

 

I don't do podcasts, but when a comic lands on my doorstep riffing on D&D I'm going to pay attention. The McElroy's have done a great job translating the often bizarre, silly and fun world of role-playing games into an entertaining adventure. I can't comment on how they've translated the podcast itself - where they play in real time - into the graphic novel form, but the jokes landed for me without any other experience.

Taako, Merle, and Magnus are intrepid adventurers on their way to liaise with...adventure. They intend to help Merle's cousin pick up treasure with the help of Barry Bluejeans. There are deeper currents to contend with, of course. Things start to go wrong, and its wonderful. The three must use what wits they have, spells and strength to get out alive and perhaps figure out what it is they're supposed to be doing. The ever-helpful DM occasionally pops in with a timely quip or reminder.

The art by Carey Pietsch (Lumberjanes) suits the tone of the book, and I can't wait for more. Not enough to bother with a podcast or anything, but still pretty impatient.

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review 2018-07-08 18:00
Echoes from the Dead Zone by Yiannis Papadakis
Echoes from the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide - Yiannis Papadakis

This is an excellent book, anthropology mixed with memoir, by an author from divided Cyprus. Coming to this book knowing virtually nothing about Cyprus, I learned a lot about the country. But this is such an insightful look into conflict generally and the ways groups of people become entrenched in and justify their own positions that I think anyone interested in the psychological side of political conflict would appreciate it.

Cyprus has long been inhabited by both ethnic Greek and ethnic Turkish populations, and belonged to both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. In the 20th century, it became a British possession, and groups that had historically lived well together grew more distant, both leaning on their historical motherlands for support. After independence, many Greek Cypriots wanted to become part of Greece, and unrest led to atrocities against Turkish Cypriots in the 1960s, with many of them relegated to ghettos. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored coup led to Turkey invading the country and carving out the northern part for Turkish Cypriots – leading to atrocities against Greek Cypriots who lived there and were killed or forced from their homes. Today, almost 50 years later, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus continues to exist in fact but to be recognized only by Turkey and seen as occupied territory by everyone else. Negotiations to reunite the country have always broken down, and from this book it’s easy to see why.

Yiannis Papadakis is a Greek Cypriot, who after studying abroad returned home in 1990 to begin studying his country. One of the things that makes the book so interesting is that it is as much about his journey, being forced to confront his own indoctrination and biases, as about the people he meets. He visits Turkey to learn Turkish (after some serious initial misgivings about his safety there, he realizes Turks are regular people too), lives with Greek Cypriots near the border and then crosses over to the Turkish side. (I was initially thrown by the way he talks about the Turkish side, making reference to “pseudo-officials” wearing uniforms decorated with “pseudo-flags,” but this turns out to be representative of his opinions at the time the research began, not by the time he wrote the book.) Eventually he winds up living in a mixed village in the “dead zone” between the two sides, where everyone is suspected of being a traitor.

Cyprus’s history and politics are complicated, as is the author’s analysis, so anything I say here will no doubt oversimplify. But there’s an incredible amount of food for thought here. About the ways both sides manipulate history – not necessarily by lying, but by beginning the tale with their own flourishing empire that’s brought down through the wrongdoing of the others; by focusing only on their own side’s pain, emphasizing their own dead and refugees while refusing to acknowledge wrongs against the others; by paying attention to only the extremists on the other side, painting their views as everyone’s view’s; by both defining their own side as the threatened minority. About the ways people refuse to understand each other, about the ways propaganda is used, about the repercussions this conflict has in people’s lives. The author sees and hears some striking things, like the refugee family in Northern Cyprus that moved into a Greek Cypriot home, and kept all the furniture and family photos out in case of the prior owners’ return.

He’s also able to draw a lot of connections between the two sides: the two right wings have far more in common than either would ever admit, both invested in insisting upon the evil of the other while bringing their own side closer to the motherland. The two left wings are also similar and seem ready to reach out to each other and bring peace, though when the opportunity comes, they too choose political opportunism. In the end there’s plenty of blame to go around, and the author doesn’t absolve anyone.

At any rate, I found it an insightful and fascinating book. While the page count is short, there’s a lot of text on each page, so it isn’t necessarily a quick read. But it’s broken up into short sections, often just a couple pages long, and the writing is accessible. It was published by a small, academically-oriented publisher, but has a lot to offer the casual reader; if it had gone through a big publishing house I could see it as a well-known work of popular nonfiction. Only in a couple of places does the author go off on short tangents that seem to be pet interests of his (the myth and symbology of Aphrodite), and his narrative provides a detailed view of Cyprus and his own journey of discovery about his country and people. I would definitely recommend this one if you can get your hands on it.

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review 2018-07-07 02:49
The Smoke Jumper
The Smoke Jumper - Nicholas Evans

I usually only read mysteries so I was not sure if I would like this book. I was worried it would be too much of a romance. It romance parts are small though. The book kept my interest throughout. It is a pretty good story.

 

Connor and Ed met while training to be smoke jumpers. Even though they were very different they became close friends. When Ed met Julia he was love struck and told Connor all about how she was "the one." Later, when Connor was picking them up at the airport and he saw Julia he couldn't stop staring at her. As they spent time together he found it harder and harder to keep his mind off of her. He knew he couldn't fall in love with his best friend's girlfriend but he was. What he didn't realize was she was feeling the same way, although, she did still love Ed and tried to contain her feelings. Later, when a fire sprang up where Julia was camping with a group of troubled kids in the WAY program, they were called to jump. A girl had wandered away in the night and Julia and another one of the counselors was trying to follow her tracks. The fire was out of control though and they found themselves in the middle of a deadly situation. Ed, Connor, and another jumper leave to try to find them while the other jumpers stay to help fight the fire and prevent it from spreading.

 

_________________________

There is a LOT more to this story and it isn't as flaky as it sounds in what I wrote.  I was having a hard time figuring out what to write without giving away too much.  

 

I also had the audio book, which was narrated by Luke Perry, and I was going to listen to that until I realize it was abridged.  It doesn't say anywhere on the package that it is abridged so I was angry.  I really didn't like Luke Perry's voice anyway,  He sounded like a 16 year old kid.  He talked in such low voice I couldn't hear with the volume full.  I ended up reading the book instead.

 

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text 2018-06-30 07:30
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review 2018-06-17 23:35
Dr. Colbert's Keto Zone Diet
Dr. Colbert's Keto Zone Diet: Burn Fat, ... Dr. Colbert's Keto Zone Diet: Burn Fat, Balance Appetite Hormones, and Lose Weight - Don Colbert,MD

Another health book that turns conventional wisdom on its head about what is healthy and not healthy to eat if you want to lose weight. Eat fat! Healthy fat that is, like cooking with coconut, avocado and sesame oils; eating nuts, avocados, eggs, and much more that you were told not to eat. Cut out the gluten and increase your fats and you will get thin and healthy and you will keep it off! Food What the Heck Should I Eat is even a better book to take back your health.

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