BOOK REVIEW – EVERY TOOL’S A HAMMER: LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT BY ADAM SAVAGE

every_tool_cover

Every tool’s a hammer is an amazing and slightly strange book, being a part how-to guide, part biography, and part philosophical. In short, it is a book about the journey Adam Savage undertook to become a maker.

The story starts with Adam’s first creations as a child, then continues through his time as a theater set builder to working for Industrial Lights and Magic, to Mythbusters and eventually becoming one of the worlds best-known celebrity Makers.

Throughout this illustrious career, Adam’s philosophies of learning and gaining additional skills is very apparent, showing the true value of being a polymath, something I also strive for personally. Except for collecting skills, Adam is also a collector of things, these things range vastly in category and type, from film props to Curta calculators, he has a genuine love for these objects and the stories they carry with them.

The book also has various how-to sections, covering things like different kinds of glues and their uses, to tools, to workshop setup and different crafting materials.

I found Every tool’s a hammer to be an inspiring book that fueled my creative flame and filled me with the need to start making something new. This book is a must-read for any fans of Adam Savage and Makers of any kind.

BOOK REVIEW – EVERY TOOL’S A HAMMER: LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT BY ADAM SAVAGE

BOOK REVIEW – EFFECTIVE PROGRAMMING MORE THAN WRITING CODE BY JEFF ATWOOD

coverofJeffAtwood

Jeff Atwood is somewhat of a celebrity in software development and programming circles, he along with Joel Spolsky are the founders of StackOverflow.com, a question and answer website all programmers and software engineers must be familiar with.

The book, initially published in 2012, is constructed from posts on Jeff Atwood’s blog, CodingHorror.com. The posts are sorted into different sections based on an overall theme, for example, hiring programmers, workspace setup, code testing, etc. Thus, making for a coherent and flowing reading experience.  This is where the value of this book opposed to reading all these posts on his blog for free comes in, a more convenient reading experience.

Effective Programming More than Writing Code is one of the best and one of my favorite books on the topic of software development, it is a must-read for anyone who is a professional software developer, and personally, I have read through it numerous times over the years. The book is an easy, quick read and a vast amount of great ideas and concepts are communicated that will keep you thinking long after you have stopped reading.

There are however a few problems with this book, firstly in the print version there are quite a few printing errors where the top line of the page is cut off, this is present on 2 pages in my copy. This is not a problem in the electronic version available on the Kindle store.

Secondly, as this book was constructed from blog posts, numerous hyperlinks and embedded videos are present, which obviously do not work in a printed format. This is, however, more of an annoyance than a problem as this does not hinder the concept being communicated.

Even given these problems, I would still highly recommend this book. So, if you work in or are interested in software development, pick it up.

BOOK REVIEW – EFFECTIVE PROGRAMMING MORE THAN WRITING CODE BY JEFF ATWOOD

BOOK REVIEW – EXPLORE/CREATE MY LIFE IN PURSUIT OF NEW FRONTIERS, HIDDEN WORLDS, AND THE CREATIVE SPARK BY RICHARD GARRIOTT WITH DAVID FISHER

IMG_6577

Explore/Create is the memoirs of Richard Garriott, it tells the story of his life, from being the creator of the Ultima Games and starting Origin Systems with his brother, to his adventures in the arctic, visiting shipwrecks under the sea, and even his trip to space when he visited the International Space Station.

I am a huge fan of the Ultima games, a series of truly revolutionary PC role-playing games that were released between the early 1980s to the late 1990s. Each iteration in the Ultima series bought about something brand new, not only to the series but quite often to electronic gaming as a whole, for example the concept of morals and consequence that was introduced in Ultima 4, and to my knowledge this was the first time these kinds of topics had every really been addressed in a video game.  Or Ultima 7 that had the most realistic and immersive game world at the time, it is the first game I had ever seen where you could pick wheat in a field, grind it in a mill, then add water and bake a bread.

The Book also covers Richard’s many adventures, going places like the arctic, the amazon and even visiting the wreck of the Titanic.  And how he eventually followed in his father’s footsteps, astronaut Owen K. Garriott, when he traveled into space as a private astronaut with Roscosmos, becoming the second second-generation astronaut in history.

This book is a truly enjoyable and inspiring read and shows the full and rich life of a true polymath. I cannot recommend this book enough, so do yourself a favour and pick it up.

BOOK REVIEW – EXPLORE/CREATE MY LIFE IN PURSUIT OF NEW FRONTIERS, HIDDEN WORLDS, AND THE CREATIVE SPARK BY RICHARD GARRIOTT WITH DAVID FISHER

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS AND BATMAN: THE CITY OF OWLS

The Court of Owls written by Scott Snyder and The City of Owls written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, formed part of the New 52 line and was originally published from 2011 to 2012.

The main story focuses on mysterious secret society, The Court of Owls, operating in Gotham city who attempt to assassinate various high-profile individuals, including Bruce Wayne, using a group of highly trained assassins called the Talons.

The story does a great job of building a sense of history, covering several members of past generations of the Wayne Family and even a story focused on Alfred’s father, who served as a butler to Thomas and Martha Wayne when Bruce was a small child.

Gotham City is also fleshed out more than any other Batman story, making it feel like an important character in the story, not just a location therein.

Without spoiling anything, the story progresses at an amazing pace, building tension and mystery at just the right amount, making it a very difficult book to put down.

This story arc was the start of the New 52 Batman reboot and is a classic Batman story with great art work that pulls the reader in. It is a great place to start for people new to the Batman comic books series and is a must read for any fan of the Batman comic.

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS AND BATMAN: THE CITY OF OWLS

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN HUSH

hush

Batman Hush is a mainline Batman story arc that was originally published in the Batman Comic between 2002 to 2003, which has subsequently been published in this graphic novel. Hush is a great self-contained story which can easily be picked up by anyone looking for a starting point in the almost endless selection of Batman comics.

Batman Hush is one of the best usages of the Batman Villains’ gallery, featuring a large cast including, the Riddler, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and the Joker to name a few. The graphic novel tells a great story written by Jeph Loeb, full of twists and a few surprises along the way, it really is one of the classic must read story in the Batman comic series.

The story is beautifully bought to life by the artwork, which is some of my favorite in the long running Batman comic series. The art is the combined work of Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair, being responsible for pencil, ink and color respectively.

I can really recommend this graphic novel if you want to get started in the Batman comic series as it is a great jumping-off point and if you are already reading the series and have not read Hush, then you are really missing out.

BOOK REVIEW – BATMAN HUSH

BOOK REVIEW – LITTLE NIGHTMARES VOLUME 1 GRAPHIC NOVEL

IMG_6351

Needless to say, this graphic novel is based on the game Little Nightmares and contains the first 2 comic books in the series. The series was initially announced to consist of 4 comic books, however at the time of this post book 3 and 4 unfortunately appear to have been cancelled.

Anyone who has played Little Nightmares will know that the world of the game is a dark and mysterious place, with a lot of unanswered questions. This graphic novel builds on this world and provides some additional bits of information about the greater world that was not directly shown in the game.

I really like the ascetics and feel of Little Nightmares and part of its appeal is this sense of unknown, and the graphic novel does not spoil this, providing just enough information to get the reader more curious. For example, the comic books explain how the kids end up on The Maw, the fictional ship on which the game and its DLC takes place, but gives no additional details about the mysteries surrounding the Maw itself.

The graphic novel is beautifully illustrated with amazing artwork, in line with the graphic style of the game.

It is however important to mention that this graphic novel will not make sense to someone who has not played the game. It is very much a companion piece to the game and builds on the world that was established therein. But if you played Little Nightmares and loved the world it built then this will be a great read.

BOOK REVIEW – LITTLE NIGHTMARES VOLUME 1 GRAPHIC NOVEL

BOOK REVIEW – MASTERS OF DOOM BY DAVID KUSHNER

mastersofdoomcover

 

Masters of Doom tells the story of the formation of ID Software, one of the most influential companies in gaming. It focuses on the stories of the four founders, John Romero, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack and Tom Hall.

Covering everything from how and where they crew up, to how they got involved in game development, to how they met and started ID Software and eventually as most of them left ID Software, what came next for them.

The book covers everything from the early days when they worked at SoftDisk and started Ideas from the Deep (Later renamed to ID Software). Where they worked on Commander Keen and how they constantly evolved, creating revolutionary game after game, from Wolfenstein 3D to Doom to Quake, transforming the industry and what people thought possible along the way.

This book is by far my favourite video game related book, and I cautious writing any more regarding its contents out of fear of spoiling something. But if you are in any way interested in video games give this book a try. It is an amazing book and comes highly recommended.

BOOK REVIEW – MASTERS OF DOOM BY DAVID KUSHNER