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Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden

Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden

In late 2010, cartoonist Sarah Glidden went along with two of her friends--co-founders of The Seattle Globalist--and a former Marine as they researched the impact of the Iraq War on the region and the refugee crisis. Glidden's focus to document the overall process of journalism and how it was conducted for this specific purpose, but it also comes to encompass the Marine's own experiences and reactions along the journey. Rolling Blackouts, constructed largely from transcribed audiovisual material collected on the trip, offers a glimpse into the horrors of war, complicated history, and voices of both the well-known and unheard victims of the region's violence.

I really enjoyed Glidden's graphic memoir, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, a few years back and found this book to be as enlightening and thoughtful. There is so much food for thought here--the less-documented tragedies of refugees' displacement, ruminations on ethics in jounalism, U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, what it means to be progressive, and so much more. I found it really interesting, too, in the window of time it occurred--just after heavy U.S. military presence from the Iraq War and just before the uprisings from the Arab Spring. For a graphic novel, this is slightly more text-heavy, and Glidden's use of soft-toned watercolors lend to the reflective nature of the book. There are no clear answers, but there are plenty of viewpoints; reading this will likely spark plenty of contemplation and conversation. This is definitely one of my favorite reads this year.

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Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel

Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel

A long time ago, the demon god Ravana played a trick and became the fearsome ruler of the universe. The conditions he imposed as ruler prohibited gods and demons from ever defeating him, but the god Vishnu pointed out to the other gods that a human could still defeat him. And so Vishnu reincarnated himself into the prince Rama, destined to become the champion against Ravana and his terrifying army. He meets plenty of obstacles along the way, and thus the epic Ramayana was born.

Sanjay Patel, artist for Pixar (his most recent notable work is for the short "Sanjay's Super Team" that precedes the new movie, The Good Dinosaur), has crafted an astounding rendition of the classic Hindu text, accessible to both audiences both young and old. Each event throughout the tale is told in succinct chapters, often limited to only a paragraph or two, while his artwork engulfs most of the page. Patel features Hindu imagery with a 1D folk art feel, but his animation background is evident as well--the crisp, bold shapes and colors give the story an updated feel. Patel follows the Ramayana with a recap on the various humans, gods, demons, and animals featured in the story, as well as a super cool visual map of the story in relation to India as a country. This is a great interpretation of the epic story, perfect as an introduction to or refresher on Hindu literature.

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Doctor Who: The Island Of Death by Barry Letts

Doctor Who: The Island Of Death by Barry Letts

Sarah Jane Smith has been investigating a strange new cult that an associate of hers has joined.

The adherents worship a strange creature called the Skang, who promises them the great pleasure they will ever have in life. Failing to get her editor interested Sarah steals some of the cult's special drink and takes it to U.N.I.T. and the Doctor. The Doctor discovers that the drink is a powerful hallucinogen and decides to investigate.

But, with the TARDIS acting up the Doctor, the Brigidar, and Sarah take a plane to Bombay to meet the leader of the cult...

Strange things are going one... things that could mean the end of the human race!

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The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This book contains five books and a short story.  Below is a summary of each book:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Arthur Dent is having a very bad day.  When he wakes up there is a man from the county council at his home to inform him that he has a bulldozer there to demolish his house to make way for a bypass, his friend, Ford Prefect, announces that he is really an alien “from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse,” and then the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace express route.

But, not to worry for Dent and Prefect manage to make their escape onboard one of the alien spacecraft and are soon tossed out an airlock only to be picked up by a passing spacecraft piloted by Ford’s semi-cousin and the only human woman left alive aboard a ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, a ship that can make seemingly impossible things happen… like being picked up by Ford’s semi-cousin and the last human woman just moments before dying in the vacuum of space.

Soon, they are all on their way to Magrathea, a planet that, eons ago, engaged in the trade of making other luxury planets, where Arthur learns something quite shocking.  There the gang to try to find the Ultimate Question Of Life, The Universe, And Everything and to try to figure out just why Zaphod (Ford’s Semi-Cousin) scrambled his brain.

The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

This novel picks up right where The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy left off.  The gang has left the planet Magrathea trying to escape from Vogons trying to finish the job of demolishing the Earth by killing Arthur Dent and Trillian.

They run into Zarniwoop van Harl who works in the offices of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and sets Zaphod the task of figuring out who really runs the universe.  Our adventurers manage to escape from him and end up at Milliways, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, which has been projected through time to the literal end of the universe so that people can go and enjoy it with dinner and a show.

On the way out they steal Disaster Area’s stunt ship only to find that will put them into greater peril.  So, they try to escape with Zaphod and Trillian landing back on the Heart Of Gold and Ford and Arthur landing on a strange ship full of cold bodies. Where they soon make some more startling discoveries.

Life, The Universe, And Everything

Living on a primitive planet is something that Arthur Dent has gotten quite used to and then Ford Prefect has to show up and pull him into a time space eddy where they land on Earth a few days before its destruction and are attacked by a squad of robots.  Then, they are rescued by Slartibartfast where he reveals that the robots are from the planet Krikkit.  A planet which was cut off from the rest of the universe due to a thick dust cloud and the inhabitants never knew about the existence of the universe until a spaceship crashed on their planet and they decided the rest of the universe “would have to go.”

They very nearly obliterated the rest of the universe until they were locked on their planet… And now there is the threat of them escaping to start it all again.  Naturally, the only ones Slartibartfast can think of to save the universe are Ford and Arthur.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

Arthur has been aimlessly hitchhiking his way across the galaxy when he lands on a planet that oddly enough seems to be the Earth… but it was destroyed by the Vogons.

Apparently, on this Earth everyone believes the Vogons were just a “mass hallucination” and oddly enough all the dolphins have disappeared leaving every human a fish bowl that has an inscription that reads, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Arthur meets a girl named Fenchurch who does not believe in the “mass hallucination” theory and they go to investigate what happened to the dolphins.  They come across Wonko The Sane a man who believes the rest of the world is insane and has built his house inside out in order to keep the rest of the world in “The Asylum.”

Soon. The pair is off with Ford and the others to try and find out what “God's Final Message to His Creation” says.

Mostly Harmless

After everything that happened in So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish Arthur decides to take Fenchurch around the galaxy when she suddenly just disappears while sitting next to Arthur.  So, he settles on a planet and becomes a “sandwich maker.”  There he learns he has a daughter with Trillan because she impregnated herself using his DNA.

Meanwhile, Ford goes back to the offices of The Guide only to discover that there has been a takeover and someone is planning something dreadfully evil.  So, he has to try and find Arthur and Trillian so they can prevent it.

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The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Lucy and Edmund are visiting their irriating cousin Eustace when they are pulled into Narnia via a painting. There they find Prince Caspian is on a quest to find the seven noble lords whom his uncle had banished years ago.

Along the way they get sold into slavery, deal with a dragon, find a pool of water that turns things to gold, fight enchantments, and invisible warriors, and even make it to the World's End.

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Fireproof by Eric Wilson

Fireproof by Eric Wilson

Caleb Holt's marriage is falling apart.  He and his wife live different lives, schedules, and even in different bedrooms.  After a heated fight Catherine says she wants out.  Upon hearing about this Caleb's father asks Caleb to try to hold off on a divorce for forty days.

Soon, in the mail, Caleb receives a note book, entitled "The Love Dare," with a note from his father:

My son,

This forty-day journey cannot be taken lightly.  It is a challenging and often difficult process, but an incredibly fulfilling one.

If you will commit to a day at a time for forty days, the results could change your life and your marriage.  Consider it a dare from others who have doine it before you.

I love you,


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A Day With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

A Day With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

Mattie Cominsky is glad to be off on a business trip.  Her husband Nick has been acting very strange: saying he had dinner with Jesus, going to church and bible studies.  Mattie never wanted to be religious and now here she is married to a man, that she feels, has transformed into a religious nut.

So, she's glad to be away to give her some time to think even if it means leaving their daughter alone with Nick for a week.

Then, on the plane she has her own encounter with a perfect stranger that puts everything into perspective.

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Dinner With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

Dinner With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

Nick Cominsky is unhappy at work and unfulfilled in his marriage... Something is wrong... Something is missing... The problem is he does not know what that "something" is.

One day he recieves a strange invitation at work.  "You are invited to dinner with Jesus of Nazareth," the inviation reads, and deciding that this must be some kind of joke by "the guys" he goes.  At dinner he meets an unassuming man in a suit who introduces himself as Jesus.

Determined to prove this man a fraud Nick peppers him with questions throughout the entire meal.  The questions shock and surprise Nick.  And soon his life is changed forever.

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The Case For The Real Jesus : A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks On The Identity Of Christ by Lee Strobel

The Case For The Real Jesus : A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks On The Identity Of Christ by Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel is back to take on some challenges to the identity of Jesus:

Challenge #1: Scholars are uncovering a radically different Jesus in ancient documents just as credible as the Four Gospels
Challenge #2: The Bible's portrait of Jesus can't be trusted, because the church has tampered with the text
Challenge #3: New explanations have refuted Jesus' resurrection
Challenge #4: Christianity's beliefs about Jesus were copied from pagan religions
Challenge #5: Jesus was an imposter who failed to fulfill the messianic prophecies
Challenge #6: People should be free to pick and choose what to believe about Jesus

Again, with his other books some of these he answers better than others.

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The Case For A Creator: a journalist investigates scientific evidence that points toward God by Lee Strobel

The Case For A Creator: a journalist investigates scientific evidence that points toward God by Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel looks into the scientific evidence for God.

The challenges he looks into are:

  1. The Icons Of Evolution
  2. Are sciencee and faith really mutually exculsive?
  3. The fine tuning of the universe and the Earth
  4. Biochemistry
  5. DNA and the origin of life
  6. Consciousness
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