February 2018 Books …

I’ve been remiss in writing about my reading! Here’s the recap of my four books from February (March coming sooner).


I’m trying to read a book each week in 2018, and you can follow along at home! Expect a mix of fiction, historical non-fiction, comics and graphic novels, and movies-related books over the next 52 weeks!

Week of February 4th

This week’s book is Cinegeek by artist Pluttark. Originally published in Europe, this looks like a kids’ picture book, but it is decidedly not. Each page is a single strip on some geeky movie topic, such as “Actors Who Were Smart to Take On a Screen Name,” or “Actors Who Might’ve Played James Bond, But … No.” The art is charming and the writing humorous, but the book is best taken in small doses of a few pages at a time. Part graphic novel, part humor book, part movie trivia tome, this is a cute time-waster if you love movies, and a bargain at $14.99.

Week of February 11th

This week’s book is a ringer, something I’ve read in the past. I’m in the middle of another book right now and not ready to write about it, so I turned to my bookshelves and pulled out a definite “desert island” book, at least for me. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe is the definitive history of the company, from the launch of Fantastic Four #1 through the 2010s. It’s all here, warts and all. Since I firmly believe the greatest era of Marvel Comics was from FF 1 through what I term “the split” era (when Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, and Strange Tales broke up into Iron Man, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Nick Fury, and Doctor Strange in their own titles), this book is my “bible,” the true, unvarnished history of the Marvel Age of Comics and beyond: the cosmic ‘70s, the rise of the X-Men, the Jim Shooter era, the fall into almost-ruin and bankruptcy, and the controversial era of Bill James and Joe Quesada. I could pick up this book right now and start re-reading it and enjoy every word. It’s probably the best comics history I’ve ever read.

Week of February 18th

This week’s book is Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates. It’s a thriller about three middle school kids who share a life-changing experience in the 1980s and reconnect in 2008. I have to admit, this one was slow-going for me and a bit tedious. The book veers back and forth in time and reflects three different voices (Matthew, Patrick, and Hannah). When I read fiction, I know I’m going to let an author manipulate me, take me down the path (or in this case, roads) that tell the story, but hearing the same story from three different points of view in three different voices is a bit much. I’m not sure this is a book I can recommend, to be honest. It has an additional secondary character who is entirely superfluous and could have easily been eliminated from the book, thus focusing more on the reasons why things happened to the leads, and making a shorter, punchier read.

Week of February 25th

This week’s book is Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins. I’ve been fascinated by the Village of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, just across the border from England, since I first discovered it here on Instagram. It is literally a town of bookstores and, as such, it’s like the proverbial heaven to me (there’s either 32 or 40 stores, some owned by the same owners, so I’m uncertain how many actual stores there are). I’m planning a trip there this fall, but Collins beat me to it, moving his family over to Hay in the early 2000s. It’s a fascinating book, where Collins writes not only about his experiences living in Hay, but also some of the weird, wonderful, and incredibly obscure books he comes across (not to mention some of the weird, wonderful, and incredibly obscure people in Hay). I look forward to my long weekend in Hay and hope I can find my way there via train and hired car later this year.

I post a new book every Monday on Instagram. Follow me at gg92101 there for the latest!


Friday Flashback #011 …

Liberty Station is one of my favorite places in San Diego. I’m so happy to see this area thriving and busy. It was a crapshoot on the part of the developers, I’m sure. San Diego is a pretty laid-back town, and starting a massive enterprise like this is always risky business. Besides the amazing Liberty Public Market, there’s a great Arts District, The Lot movie theatre and restaurant, plus other businesses that also benefit the greater Point Loma/Sports Area area. I love going here and just walking around the large park area and watching the planes take off from San Diego International Airport, just across a little inlet of the bay. It’s a great place to walk. And the lobster rolls at Wicked Maine Lobster are amazing (get the warm one, with melted butter). While the shot above shows a quiet portion of Liberty Station, trust me … it’s bustling and crowded most of the time, especially on the weekends.

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Friday Flashback #010 …

England is on my mind again as I work out the planning and logistics for an extended trip next fall that will (hopefully) take me around the country via train and let me see more than just London and Leeds. THERE’S A TOWN FULL OF BOOKSTORES, PEOPLE! Seriously. 32 of them. Check it out. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever come back.

But here’s a shot of my beloved London, the Underground station at Notting Hill Gate, probably taken on a Saturday, when I went roaming up Portobello Road to the Antiques Market every weekend. I love the Underground, too. Best mass transportation system I’ve ever encountered. I would move to England if it was financially viable. But I digress. Fall will be here soon enough.

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Friday Flashback #009 …

I’ve been visiting Portland, Oregon for about four years now, drawn by the siren song of Powell’s City of Books, one of the largest and best independent bookstores in the country. I love roaming around downtown, which is kind of a cross between Seattle’s much more cosmopolitan downtown area and San Diego’s old school Gaslamp Quarter. I’ve come across this little gem of a theatre–the Guild–in the past, but it’s always been in disrepair, literally falling apart. On my last trip to PDX last fall, though, it was obvious something had happened. The neon sign out front was refurbished and gleaming again. The building itself was still closed, but showed obvious signs of life, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s nothing lonelier than an abandoned theatre, and to see it come back to life as a theatre is even better (I’ve seen theatres in San Francisco come back as gyms–UGH–and we have one here in San Diego–the Loma–that’s a bookstore, which is kinda okay in my book). I’m going back to Portland in a couple of months, so we’ll see what kind of progress they’ve made on the Guild, formerly the Taylor Street Theatre. For more info on the Guild, click here.

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Friday Flashback #008 …

Train travel is criminally underused in this country, if you ask me. But there’s a beautiful Amtrak trip here in Southern California that I’ve taken a few times on my journeys to Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Glendale. It’s the Pacific Surfliner, and while it takes a while to get there (longer than a car ride, unless there’s crazy traffic and let’s face it … in Southern California there’s ALWAYS crazy traffic), it’s a beautiful trip … for the most part. Then it segues inland and industrial areas and it’s distinctly pretty blah. But from San Diego to about Anaheim, it’s right along the Pacific Ocean and occasionally you see images like the one above, a lonely lifeguard station sitting quietly vigilant by the water. And there’s lots and lots of palm trees, too.

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Friday Flashback #007 …

I suppose this should be some kind of James Bond post, being #007 and all, but it isn’t. (If you want to see my weekly James Bond book cover posts on Instagram, go there and search for the hashtag #52weeksof007). Instead, I give you my daily mode of commuter transportation, the Cabrillo ferry, part of the Flagship San Diego fleet of boats. No, it doesn’t break apart mid-bay into a speedboat, gunning away from the evil mercenaries of SPECTRE; it’s just a nice, calm, very zen-like way of commuting to and from work each day. A year or so ago, if you told me I’d be taking a boat to work each day, I’d say you were f-ing crazy, but here we are, and I have to tell you, that ride home every weeknight is the best part of my day. It’s like a virtual escape from a very hectic downtown and any work worries I might be dealing with, to a calm, quiet paradise. I love it.

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Friday Flashback #006 …

Both Seattle and Portland are two of my favorite West Coast destinations. Both cities seem so much more metropolitan and sophisticated than San Diego and their downtown areas are much more built-up, much busier and more thriving. The photo above is the famous Seattle Monorail, built for the 1962 World’s Fair (known as the Century 21 Exposition). They’ve kept the Seattle Center park intact, and the monorail ride takes you from downtown to a beautiful area that includes museums, the famous Space Needle, and much more. That’s the newly-named Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) that the monorail is traveling through, above. It used to be called EMP (Experience Music Project), but I digress (when you’re a billionaire and you have your own museum, you can call it whatever you please). I love Seattle, but I particularly love Seattle Center.

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