Killing and Dying
By:
Adrian Tomine
December 30, 2015
Reviewed by: Steve

I've been a fan of Adrian Tomine for many years. Since he's only published fourteen issues of his manga-inspired slice-of-life comic Optic Nerve in twenty years, this means I occasionally discover to my delight that he's released a new collection. This time out, Tomine gently tweaks the usual graphic novel format in new and interesting directions. For example, one story is told in short, comic strip-style blackout vignettes (the humor is dry at best). Another is composed using a 4x5 grid of small rectangles.

The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York
By:
Geoff Rodkey
December 2, 2015
Reviewed by: Steve

In the second volume of the consistently funny series, the Tapper twins are rivals in a citywide scavenger hunt. The tasks in the hunt are mostly inspired by interesting, real-world New York sites, like Dominique Ansel's cronut bakery or the Staten Island Ferry. I got a palpable sense of traveling around the city while enjoying this book.

Old Man's War
By:
John Scalzi
November 11, 2015
Reviewed by: Steve

Old Man's War is classic soap opera pulp from beginning to end, with enough new ideas to fill a dozen driving sci-fi books. This is despite the fact that the book is basically a riff on Heinlein's Starship Troopers: future army recruits charged with battling an alien menace across the universe. In this case, the soldiers are elderly citizens of earth transferred into newly-manufactured bodies. Since protagonist John Perry has lived an entire life before being "reborn" as a powerful warrior, his life experience informs his decisions in thoughtful ways.

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987
By:
Brett Weiss
October 12, 2015
Reviewed by: Steve

Brett Weiss, author of exhaustive--and exhausting--catalogs of every video game ever made, here limits his scope to his favorite games. His 100 favorite games, to be exact. Although it does include many arcade ports, the book does not cover arcade originals--only games for classic consoles, like Atari 2600 and Colecovision. Weiss makes an unusual choice by organizing the games not by subjective quality, but in alphabetical order. This takes the pressure off of agonizingly pitting each game against every other game. I mean, can Galaga really be said to be better than Joust?

A Walk in the Woods
By:
Bill Bryson
September 12, 2015
Reviewed by: Steve

Bill Bryson's classic travelogue has a recent movie tie-in reprint. This may be the only 400-page book I've ever read in one sitting. Bryson's distinct and down-to-earth voice makes his adventures on the Appalachian Trail hilarious and invigorating. Perhaps by design (otherwise the book wouldn't be very incidental), his plan to through-hike the trail almost-immediately becomes exhausting and Quixotic.