Summer Book Club Recap and End of Summer Quick Picks

SummerBookClub

Summer officially gives way to fall later this week, and that means the end of our first ever Summer Book Club. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve read more books in the past few months than I have in the past few years. And the crazy thing is, I still have at least a dozen more I didn’t get a chance to finish or have yet to crack open. As you can see pictured, my bookshelf is literally overflowing at the moment!

Hopefully you enjoyed the reviews and found our book recommendations helpful in your search for summertime reading material. I’ve compiled links to all of our Summer Book Club reviews below, in case you missed any and would like to catch up. After that, you’ll find some last-minute quick picks for other titles I wasn’t able to squeeze into the summer coverage window. But rest assured book reviews will continue to flow throughout the remainder of the year, especially when holiday gift guide time rolls around in a couple months.

Read on, y’all!

Summer Book Club Recap:

Blackwater Archives | The Art of The Order: 1886
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tales of Tamriel – Vol. I: The Land
Gameknight999 Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure Series
The Art of Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City & Arkham Knight
The Martian
Resident Evil: Revelations Official Complete Works
LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes and Ultimate Star Wars Encyclopedia
Fall of Gods: She is Gone
Batman: Arkham Knight Official Novelization and The Riddler’s Gambit Prequel Novel
Batman: Arkham Universe: The Ultimate Visual Guide
Fable: Blood of Heroes
24: Rogue

Summer Book Club Quick Picks:

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road
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Oh what a book. What a lovely book! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist the blatant opportunity to play on Nux’s much-memed line. But it’s the honest truth–The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is a lovely goddamn book. Brought to you by the ever-busy Titan Books, The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road takes you on a wild ride behind the scenes for a look at the making of George Miller’s latest post-apocalyptic blockbuster, its 176 pages shedding light on the film’s early development hell and eventual production. Through concept art, storyboards, on-set photos, and movie stills, accompanied by insightful commentary and interviews from some of the film’s actors and creative talent, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the incredible work that went into bringing the visually stunning Wasteland to life on the big screen. Everything from costuming to prop design, stunt work to VFX, environment concepts to the creation of all the iconic vehicles. As Miller himself describes in a brief foreword, a key design principle was, “Even in the Wasteland, people make beautiful things.”

Wastelands & Wastelands 2
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John Joseph Adams collects a bunch of classic post-apocalyptic tales in this pair of compilations featuring the works of such authorial icons as Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Gene Wolfe, Orson Scott Card, Robert Silverberg, and countless others. I’ve only managed a story here and a story there–each book contains over 20 stories spanning more than 500 pages–but so far these are fantastic collections of end-of-the-world short fiction that fans of the genre will surely enjoy.

Charm, Poison, & Beauty – Wicked Fairytale Trilogy
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Author Sarah Pinborough puts her own spin on the classic stories of fairytale princesses Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty in this surprisingly great three-part series. These are not the same “happily ever after” stories you grew up with. These are dark, erotic retellings that mix familiar plot arcs with sexual content and disturbing twists. Remember how everyone freaked out when wholesome Elizabeth Berkley from Saved by the Bell went on to star in Showgirls? Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty similarly shed their Disney Princess innocence for NC-17-rated roles–only these books, unlike Showgirls, are well written and engaging. Another clever touch is how the stories intertwine with one another and even incorporate references to other fairytale characters and stories (like Robin Hood and Hansel and Gretel).

Mirror’s Edge: Exordium Issue #1
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The first of six issues in Dark Horse’s prequel comic series to Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst came out earlier this month, and if you’re a Mirror’s Edge fan it’s definitely worth a look. Exordium’s premiere does a solid job of establishing Faith’s motivations and capturing the art style and sense of parkour movement. My only disappointment so far is that the color palette is so flat and muted compared to the eye-popping sterility and sharpness of the video game. It’s a good start though.

Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub
FryScores
Video game critic and hobbyist foodie Holly Green turns iconic video game foods into real, home-cooked recipes in this digital cookbook, which is currently out for iOS devices and was Kickstarted earlier in the year for Google Play and Kindle. (A print version will be published at some point as well.) This book has recipes for all courses, inspired by a wide range of fan-favorite games and franchises, like the Sinner’s Sandwich from Deadly Premonition, Yum Yum Deviled Eggs from Fallout 3, Apple Cabbage Stew from Skyrim, a Fat Princess pound cake, and even health and mana potion cocktails. Some of the recipe descriptions provide at least some form of back story or reference to the source of inspiration, but for the most part the video game ties are pretty loose, like the Far Cry 4 Crab Rangoon or the guacamole inspired by Guacamelee just because the names are similar (I don’t recall there being any guacamole in the game itself). It’s an incredibly fun and clever idea overall, though, and the dishes look tasty.

BradyGames / Prima Strategy Guides:
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Whether you’re looking for help to find all of the amber bricks and minikits in LEGO Jurassic World, learn map layouts and strategies in Splatoon, complete all of the Riddler challenges and other Most Wanted side missions in Batman: Arkham Knight, or study up on in-depth reference material such as bestiary, class, race, and gear descriptions from Pillars of Eternity, the dynamic duo of BradyGames and Prima have you covered with strategy guides aplenty, for these games and pretty much all of 2015’s major titles. For certain guides, serious fans can pay a little extra for a collector’s edition upgrade with additional perks. For example, with The Witcher 3 guide features a bonus chapter with around 30 pages of concept artwork, as well as mini hardcover companion book with additional art and lore. The Arkham Knight CE guide similarly features a bonus chapter with preview pages from the DK Arkham Universe visual guide that we reviewed, as well as a pack of four art prints with pictures of the Arkham Knight, Scarecrow, Batman, and the Batmobile. And if you prefer the convenience of digital but still want the physical guide as a collectible for your bookshelf, each guide comes with a code to redeem the eGuide for free.

Some other worthwhile books to check out include: Game Art; Star Wars: Aftermath; Armada; Abomination; The Dinosaur Lords; The Art of Homeworld; Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works; Final Fantasy VII, VIII & IX collector’s guide box set; Minecraft Essential Handbooks; Koko the Mighty; Robin Hood Demon’s Bane; The Empress Game; Virtues of War; Mycroft Holmes; and The Art of Naughty Dog. I’ll be reviewing and writing about many of these in the weeks and months ahead, so stay tuned, eager readers!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!