Archive for book review

Defending the Galaxy: Reviewing the video game bible of 1981 Part I

Posted in 80s, books, humor, pop culture, reviews, video games with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2008 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

As some of you will recall, I went to the Jacksonville Book Fair a while ago and found a bunch of really cool books, all for about 50 cents each. One of these finds was my favorite. it was a video game book from the early ’80s called Defending the Galaxy: The Complete Handbook of VideoGaming.

Defending the Galaxy front coverDefending the Galaxy back cover

This book, according to the cover, lets the readers in on how to “blend in” and “look like” an elite video gamer. Seriously, it’s written with the assumption that the reader is not currently in the video game crowd, but let’s them in on the secrets of looking and acting like a top tier gamer. Needless to say, the book is funny. Ridiculously so. The book’s assumption that non-gamer folk even want to be “in” with the gamer folk is very presumptuous, but it leads to some really funny “tips and tricks”. What is a non-gamer supposed to do once they’ve assimilated themselves amongst the video game crowd? Study them? Learn their habits? Is this a National Geographic special? What if, while posing as a gamer, the non-gamer is asked to play a 2 player game of Defender? How do they fake their way through that? The answer is, there’s no faking your way through a game of Defender as it’s widely considered one of the hardest games ever created. You’ll have your backside handed to you by the real gamer and then be ostracized by the gaming community. So teaching you to look like a gamer when you aren’t is also teaching you to be a poseur. But, if you follow the instructions in this book, the road to becoming a poseur is awesome.

I was 8 when this book was released. At that time I was a huge video gamer and loved to go to the arcade and play whenever my parents would let me. Any trip to the local mall meant I got to play at Aladdin’s Castle. I could play Donkey Kong or Asteroids at Dino’s Hot Dogs. There was a stand alone video arcade named Wizard’s Palace that I rarely got to visit. We’d go to Six Flags on a family vacation and I’d want to spend a few hours in the video arcade instead of going on rides. My dad kept saying that he didn’t spend 40 bucks to get me in the park to play games I can find in the mall at home. That’s how much I loved video games. In my defense, there were several games in that Six Flags video arcade that I never saw at my local arcade including Super Punch Out!, Return of the Jedi and Mad Dog McCree.

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The End: Harry Potter Book 7

Posted in books, Harry Potter, pop culture with tags , on August 1, 2007 by Paxton

Harry7Well, I finished the book at lunch today. What can I say, I am almost a little stunned right now. The ending hasn’t had a chance to sink in, but I can easily say that the ending was everything I wanted it to be. Well, really, I would have accepted almost any ending Rowling would have given us, but I really enjoyed this one.

As a whole, the book, as some might say, drags a bit in the middle. However, I started the book at a leisurely pace. I wanted to savor it. If you look closely at the picture I posted on my entry last week, I was only about 200 pages in…and that was Wednesday…4 days after the book had been released. I was really taking my time enjoying the book. This is why I think that part in the middle didn’t drag for me at all. It actually had some really good character moments for our 3 heroes. Then, right after this, the action in the book really picks up and by last weekend I was starting to get excited. I really started pounding through the book. I read at lunch, in bed at night (much to the dismay of my wife), even in the bathroom at work (oh yes, my book has been ‘flagged’). I was obsessed again with the story and the final 200+ pages just flew by.

There are some unbelievable moments in this book that pretty much wrap up all my questions and answer some lingering questions I never really knew I had. Some of the actions in the book had me screaming and throwing the book across the room, only to be bawling like an infant 2 chapters later. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride. As I finished reading the book at Firehouse Subs today, people gave me the “eye down” as I started whimpering and crying like a 9 year old girl with a skinned knee. Yes, it was embarrassing, but I couldn’t help it. Wonderful, wonderful book that I loved with my whole heart. I loved the characters, I loved the world created in the book, I loved the journey the stories take us on. Just unbelievable writing. Makes you wonder how far ahead this was planned. I mean, the end had to have been planned by at least book 5. At least. Probably even book 4. Wow.

Like I said, I’m of few words right now because I’m literally only a few hours from finishing it. A journey that began in the Tampa airport in 1999 has finally reached it’s destination, and I couldn’t be happier. I think I may take a day or two before I read another book. A respectful, reading silence if you will, for what will surely go down as one of my favorite book series of all time.

I eagerly look forward to JK Rowlings next venture. Hope everyone else enjoyed it. Potter-palooza can now end (at least until the final 2 movies come out).

🙂

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Book Review: Harry Potter Parts 3-6

Posted in books, Harry Potter, pop culture, reviews with tags , on July 19, 2007 by Paxton

Two days, my friends. Two days and I will have Harry Potter Book 7 in my sweaty little palms. Oh that moment will be sweet. So sweet. Possibly even bittersweet, because I’ll know, that this is it. The end. Now I’m depressed.

Enough of that! Welcome to Part 2 of my Harry Potter book reviews. As you can see below this, I have reviews of Harry Potter books 3 – 6 ready to go. If you missed the first reviews including books 1 – 3 then click right here. If you read those already, then you, my Potter-fied little friend, are ready to move on to the conclusion. Continue below for the 3 books that lead into Saturday’s long awaited adventure.

Harry Potter 4Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Goblet of Fire was released in Spring of 2000. I had preordered the book on Amazon and it arrived, I believe, on the day of release. That makes Goblet of Fire the first book I bought on release day. This was also the first book to really get long. I mean this book was twice as long as Prisoner of Azkaban. Also, this was the first book I remember everyone, including the media, go absolutely crazy for on release day. The popularity for the Harry Potter series literally exploded right before this book and it’s probably because the book before it was so gosh-darn good. I didn’t read it right away because I wanted to savor the flavor a bit, and later that year I would begin reading it. This book was good. It was long, and packed with so much information and action that it’s almost hard to grasp the entire situation, but the book was GOOD. The Tri-Wizard Tournament? The Quidditch World Cup? Mad-Eye Moody? Dragons? Are you kidding me? AWESOME. And the end? The battle in the graveyard? Classic. Completely blown away. I’ve read this book several times and I can’t wait to read it again. This book really ups the ante for our hero and the ending really kick starts everything that happens in the next 2 books. The sheer orgy of action and story that falls forth from this book is almost intoxicating and had me itching for the next chapter. Unfortunately, I didn’t know at the time, that the next book would take a little longer to release.

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Book Review: Harry Potter Parts 1-3

Posted in books, Harry Potter, pop culture, reviews with tags , on July 18, 2007 by Paxton

Time Cover1

Potter-palooza continues!!!!

This is it. This is the home stretch to the last and final Harry Potter book, Year 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Will all of our questions be answered? Is Professor Snape good or bad? Is Dumbledore really dead? Will someone else die? Will Voldemort finally be defeated? Will Harry become an Auror? Will he go back to Hogwarts for his seventh year? Who knows? I don’t. I hope at least some of these questions are answered in some form or another. Regardless, there will be no more Harry Potter adventures. I don’t even know if JK Rowling will continue writing books, much less continue stories in the Potter universe. This is a momentous occasion. We are on the brink, and it’s f’n KILLING ME.

Thank goodness I at least had the deliciousness of a new Potter movie (which is FANTASTIC by the way) to tide me over. Now I gotta sit here and wait for Saturday. That should be the theme of this week; Potter-palooza: Waiting for Saturday. In preparation for the momentous occasion on Saturday, I am going to take a look back at the first 6 books in the Potter series. Are you ready? No? Well catch up, people, cause it’s time to roll out.

Harry Potter 1Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – The first book was published in the summer of 1997. It would take a year or so for the word of mouth to really get started. Take a glance at the Time magazine cover at the top of this article. It was published in September 1999. I was flying to/from Tampa and saw this magazine in the airport. I was wondering, “Who the hell is this Harry Potter and how did he make the cover of Time magazine?” Word had really been getting around and I was curious. Having just finished a book and nothing left to read, I wandered into the airport book store and browsed a paperback copy of the first book. By this point in time the second book was already published and the third book was just getting ready to come out the following summer. I decided to buy the first book and see if it was any good. Little did I know that this would start a love of the series that was almost embarrassing. This first book introduces you to the entire universe of Harry Potter. You see Hogwarts, Hagrid, Dumbledore and Harry meets Ron and Hermione on the Hogwarts Express for the first time. It’s all new and shiny. It’s a great underdog story because you see how really badly Harry is treated by his aunt and uncle and how he goes from living in a cupboard under the stairs to being one of the most famous wizards alive. I cry every time I read this book (well, every time I read any of these books). Unbelievable start to one of the best series of books I have ever read. If this had been no good, then I never would have picked up Book 2…

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