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In the past, I have generally hated the X-Men's adventures in the Savage Land, or whenever they would go to outer space or get into really super sci-fi type situations. I always felt the X-Men stories worked much better when they were grounded in very normal, down-to-earth settings, because it made the X-Men themselves stand out and seem that much weirder. But this book is an exception to the rule. It's a big, crazy, larger-than-life adventure, part of which takes place in the prehistoric Savage Land, and part of which gets hyper technological, and it works out OK.
The artwork is tough and gritty. Jim Lee draws a mean, shadowy, ugly Wolverine who kills lots of villains and looks like he needs to take a shower very badly.
And Lee's women - whoa. This book contains more gratuitous cheescake shots than any X-Men graphic novel I've seen, but it's all very pleasing to the eye. Especially the scenes with Rogue, whose bare skin can kill anyone she touches and thus, understandably, was always the one major female character who kept herself completely covered at all times. This was the first storyline in the series where they finally drew her as a scantily-clad, sexy heroine. A real treat for male Rogue-fans who'd been reading the series patiently for years.
This storyline also chronicles the transformation of innocent young Psylocke into a mature woman trained in the art of Ninjitsu, and she becomes an ultra-violent, sexy bad girl. And then there are cameo appearances by other Marvel superheroes, namely Captain America (from the Avengers series) and The Black Widow (from the Daredevil series). All in all, it's a satisfying, action-packed, well-drawn, crowd-pleasing comic book in trade-paperback format.
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I also liked "naked" by david sedaris, "kick me" by paul feig, and "welcome to the nuthouse!" by peter mckay
Though some of them are a little dated since they were apparently written in the 1980's, this is without a doubt the funniest book I have ever read. You will be laughing out loud. Technology, politics, kids, Sport utility vehicles and just about everything else are jabbed at here and the results are amazingly humorous.
If you need a great laugh for any reason, buy this book!
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When you buy this one (and you WILL buy it, if not now then eventually) have a good seat, expect a fun and informative read: it's not entirely what you're expecting. Most of what you're expecting is there... but, hey, it's John after all.
One quibble: The cover blurb compares Gierach favorably with Mark Twain. As a humorist I think Twain may remain above Gierach. But Gierach's reputation as a humorist after the manner of Twain fails to offer justice to the range of Gierach's work.
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Sailing imitates life, and these stories examine a broad scope of issues. Comparing our children to our parents and each to our selves. Retrospection on the silly notions of our childhood. Day dreaming about the soul mate that might have become a lover, but didn't... A woman who has out-lived her spouse runs her sailing dingy aground while reviewing the details of their life together. A fisherman catches a snap-shot view of a family left in despair by the brutality of a perverted father. A mother is lead to safety by a daughter's masterful seamanship... A twist ending deals with racism... A captain looses his good judgment. Was he consumed by his own greed or was he a victim of an ancient curse?
My recommendation? Buy this book. Wait for a stormy day. Brew a pot of coffee. Throw a couple of logs on the fire. Read the book in one sitting; preferably within sight of the sea.
Following are my favorite stories:
"Three Men and a Boat" by Elton Churchill promised to be a traditional sailing tale, from the first look at the beautiful illustration and the sleek lines of a classic wooden yawl.
Then the opening sentence grabbed my attention: "The smell of oak in the last of the winter fires is intoxicating; like an aphrodisiac it arouses deeper memories of summer."
What a fantastic story of three generations and the family tradition of owning, maintaining, sailing and racing a classic yacht.
"A Daughter of the Tradewind" by Richard Morris Dey described the illusive beauty and free spirit of an island girl who sailed a boat as an artistic endeavor. "She looked the part to live the island life, all right, and carried the silver flute like a talisman in those early days. And when she played that flute the island was hers for the asking; seemed reflected in the bays of her clear blue eyes."
"Island Hunter" by Christine Kling had me walking around the boatyard of Ventura Harbor (my home port) and gazing out across the Santa Barbara Channel at the majestic mountain peaks of the Channel Islands, long before the story mentioned the harbor as the location.
This is the story of a single captain's dream: to find a beautiful, young, woman willing to help him prepare his boat for the adventure of a life time, then to sail off on a cruise of the Pacific Islands together.
"La Corona del Diablo" by Ray Bradley takes us back to the eighteenth century and sailing aboard a Spanish treasure galleon. It is the yarn of a spell cast upon the captain of the King's treasure ship and their perilous journey. It conveys the mystical, magical power of a magnificent golden crown, rimmed with emeralds and dazzling jewels.
This collection works. All authors obviously have been there and lived the life. With colorful descriptions and dramatic moments, these stories deliver. You, too, will smell the salt and feel the spray.
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Which bring me to the present volume. For something a little different on the Celts, try Haywood's book. The book skillfully combines text with the many maps, graphics, and photos. Among the book's several strengths are the many pictures showing Celtic art and the maps which provide a graphical display of the important events of the time. There are 54 maps and 160 illustrations in the book. The photos show the Celts to be superb craftsman and metal-workers, and before reading this book, I didn't know they have been around since at least 1200 B.C. and lasted all the way down to late ancient times in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. Compared to the Greeks and Romans, who left major monuments, many texts, and various archeological finds, we have comparatively little in the way of remains for the Celts, but Haywood does a fine job of detailing and discussing what we do know of these somewhat mysterious and shadowy tribesman of Northern Europe.
Haywood is especially skilled at linking the text with the maps, and to give another plug for this fine author, he did a really great job with his Atlas of World History, which is one of the best historical atlases out there, especially considering it's up to 1/4 the cost of some of the more famous "big guns" like the Dorling-Kindersley and Hammond atlases of world history. Hammond also writes much better than most atlas writers, who prose only too often is a good substitute for late-night television as a soporific. If I recall correctly, Barry Cunliffe is the author of 40 books on history and archeology himself, and in the introduction he describes the book as "an incomparable source." I would have to agree with him, and altogether this is a fine book to read, browse, pore over the maps, or whatever, by a talented scholar and presenter of history.
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