Lonely Planet Make My Day San Francisco Guidebook (a J!-ENT Book Review)

April 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


TITLE: Lonely Planet Make My Day San Francisco Guidebook

PUBLISHER: Lonely Planet

PAGES: 40 Pages

RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2015

For anyone looking for a non-verbose or thick travel guide, the Lonely Planet “Make My Dag” travel booklets are the way to go.

A thin booklet, the “Make My Day” booklets allow one to flip between three sections: Morning, Afternoon, Evening

So, if in San Francisco, if you don’t want to go to Fisherman’s wharf, flip the Morning section to decide between Golden Gate Park, Alamo Square Park, Lombard Street, Exploratorium and many more.

For the afternoon, want to go to Union Square, Haight Street, Mission Dolores or other locations?

Or in the evening, do you want to visit Alcatraz, Toronado, Kabuki Springs & Spa or flip until you find what location you are looking for.

If anything, this is for the non-planners or those who are on business and want to give the roll of a dice of where to go, in this case, let the guide pick and choose where you want to go and most of the locations featured are usually the more popular tourist attractions in the city.

It’s a simple booklet with information of variety of areas people can visit.

Personally, I still recommend bringing your cell phone, tablet, enabling GPS/WiFi and renting or having a MiFi device with you. Because San Francisco has so many restaurants and areas that will interest you that are not in the book. But also, getting the information that you need on bus times or getting an idea via googlemaps of how long the destination is if you walk, take a vehicle, etc.

But overall, this booklet makes things easy for those who want to pick and choose which areas to visit during the morning, afternoon and evening. These are safe and easy tourist choices and for those not wanting to carry a thick travel booklet, this one is slim and easy to put in your bag or backpack.

“Lonely Planet Make My Day San Francisco” is recommended!


2015 Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide – Compiled by Wayne Graczyk (a J!-ENT Book Review)

April 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

For anyone that is looking for an English publication on the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) or anything related to Japanese baseball.  To be truthful, aside from the well-written English articles you would find on Japan Times and other Japanese newspapers in English about a game of that certain day, there really isn’t anything out there in print that goes into depth about Japanese baseball (fortunately, newspaper writers John E. Gibson and Jim Allen have a weekly audio podcast in English called “Japan Baseball Weekly”).

But one publication has continued to be a must-buy for NPB fans and that is Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide with data compiled by Wayne Graczyk.  A guide book which has been ongoing since 1976.

Best known for his articles in the Japan Times writing for the column “Baseball Bullet-in“, a job he got thanks to correcting factual errors that he saw in an article on the Japan Times, rewrote it and submitted it to the editors of the Japanese newspaper in English publication.

Graczyk eventually became the sports editor at Tokyo Weekender until the company went bankrupt in 2004, but his articles are still featured in the Japan Times.

And if writing isn’t enough, Graczyk was also involved in television, as the play-by-play announcer for Yomiuri Giants games in English in 1982.

And that is just a little bit of contributions to providing Japanese baseball news and information, including interviews, which he has had an instrumental role and why generations of English speaking fans of NPB are grateful to Wayne Graczyk.

And for nearly 40-years, he has assembled the English version of the NPB media guide which includes team schedules, rosters, player bios and stadium information.  You’ll also find tidbits of historical information included and also ads thanks to the support of the MLB (Major League Baseball) and restaurants in various areas.

And what is amazing is that this information is compiled by one man.  He writes, researches, types the data, copy edits it and is even responsible for the ad sales.  With the exception of the graphic design, the “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide” has no doubt been a labor of love for Graczyk and has no doubt helped out thousands of overseas fans of Japanese baseball.

For those who see the cover, one will notice Bob Bavasi’s (a wonderful website for overseas fans to read information on Japanese baseball but also purchase their tickets for game if they are traveling to Japan) featured in the front.  That is because every September, Graczyk arranges the tickets for groups and also joins them for a few games.

Having purchased the “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide” for various years, I recently received the 2015 edition of the guide.

The guide has remained consistent by providing information of each team, their office address, telephone number, website and also information regarding the stadiums.

For each team, you get their team schedule, roster information (which includes HR, RBI, AVG. information, what is their throwing arm, their batting side, games played, salary, date of birth, height and weight.  Also, included is a foreign player roster and you will also find a list of the batting, home run, R.B.I., pitching, E.R.A. leaders and M.V.P. Awards from 1950-2014.

One major difference if you compared 2015 to the 2014 guide is that in the spot where team factoids used to be located (in the 2014 guide, it was a “Wild Card Box”), now an advertisement has taken that spot.  While for business, I understand why it was done.  But part of what I loved about the media guide was the factoid about each team, even though it was one factoid, it still was fun to read.  Fortunately, you still get a few short articles featured towards the end of the guide.

But still, these recent guides are much better in the fact they are in full color.  Back then, the majority of the pages were in black and white, while only a few ads were in color.

As a reader of both of Wayne Graczyk’s “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide” and also the Japanese mooks such as the “Mainichi Shimbunsha – Suponichi Pro Yakyu Senshu Meikan” and the “Baseball Magazine Sha – Professional Yakyu Color Meikan”, you can’t help but admire Wayne Graczyk for what he is able to accomplish with compiling all this data.

Compared to the Japanese mooks, which probably have many journalists compiling data and writing about each player (the mooks feature about a paragraph of information of each player), a lot of the pertinent details found on the Japanese publications are found in Graczyk’s “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide”.  You may not get the solo profile of each player on a team, but still, the more important details are in the English guide.

Overall, if you are wanting to know more about Japanese baseball or a fan planning to travel to Japan and get information about upcoming games, I highly recommend Wayne Graczyk’s “Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide”


I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last by Deb DeArmond (a J!-ENT Book Review)

March 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


TITLE: I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last

AUTHOR: Deb DeArmond

PUBLISHER: Abingdon Press

PAGES: 208 Pages

RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2015

Married for nearly 38 years, author Deborah DeArmond and her husband have made the spoken declaration, “I choose you today” a regular part of their communication. It’s when we least feel like saying it that we need to remind ourselves that love is a choice, not a feeling. I Choose You Today features 31 scriptural principles that support marriage and help couples develop healthy biblically based behavior.

Built on an introductory anecdotal story, each chapter has an inspirational takeaway of not only what to do, but how to begin applying the principles immediately. Thought provoking questions create talking points for couples to explore their own choices and experiences in each area serve to generate open dialogue of discovery. I Choose You Today is not a book of “shoulds,” but one of clearly identified choices that each individual can make to grow their marriage and align it with the word of God. Every saying ends with a conventional wisdom quote.

In many ways, I have been wanting to read a book like “I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last”.

For its advice for one to apply the relationship principles and incorporate it to their onw lives but also challenging the reader to bring out more thought of why you value your relationship and your significant other.

But I also love how the book incorporates various quotes from the film but also scripture from the Bible.

For me, I needed this book because I felt that my life has been so preoccupied with work. Having had a business and trying to grow it, I know I sacrificed a lot in my relationship with my wife to focus on building relationships with clients. It started out as a temporary thing but once things were going well, and the economy started to go South, I was back to survival mode with trying to re-build the business in difficult financial times and deep in my heart, looking back at those years, I wish I had a book such as this to help put things in perspective.

Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, there are many who neglect their significant other because of work, habits, life-changes, technology, etc.

One who has had troubled marriages or relationships can pick up “I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last” and help guide them to not quitting on a relationship, a marriage by reading other examples in this book. Some, who value their significant others, those who haven’t and want to beg forgiveness and if it should be accepted, to work on trust, loyalty, to adapt, to love and more.

But this book does put things into perspective and it’s correct. Loving your spouse is an everyday commitment but are you renewing it daily?

In many ways, Deb DeArmond’s book was inspiring, but like a bolt of energy that makes me want to be a better man, husband and father because of what I read from her book. But it’s about one making the necessary steps to make it happen and if you know in your heart that the questions she poses needs work on your part, then you need to work at it, if you want to make your marriage or relationship last.

I’m very pleased with this book and I thank Deb DeArmond for inspiring me and many other people with this well-written book!



Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel by William Wellman Jr. (a J!-ENT Book Review)

February 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


TITLE: Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel

AUTHOR: William Wellman Jr.


PAGES: 656 Pages

RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2015

The extraordinary life—the first—of the legendary, undercelebrated Hollywood director known in his day as “Wild Bill” (and he was!) Wellman, whose eighty-two movies (six of them uncredited), many of them iconic; many of them sharp, cold, brutal; others poetic, moving; all of them a lesson in close-up art, ranged from adventure and gangster pictures to comedies, aviation, romances, westerns, and searing social dramas.

Before, I review this book, it’s important to note that this is an unfinished copy, so I can’t go into to many details as I don’t know what will make it in the final edition.

William “Wild Bill” Wellman, the award-winning filmmaker who has directed fantastic films four four decades starting in the silent era such as the 1927 film “Wings”, hit films in the ’30s such as “The Public Enemy”, “Nothing Sacred”, “Beau Geste”, “A Star is Born”. Continued even stronger in the ’40s with films such as “The Ox-Bow Incident”, “Story of G.I. Joe”, “Battleground” and continued on through the ’50s with “The High and Might”, “Blood Alley” through his final film “Lafayette Escadrille” in 1958.

Wild Bill had work with many of Hollywood’s top talents and despite being a busy filmmaker at the time, his family was even more important, which he had detailed in his biography “A Short Time for Insanity: An Autobiography”.

But there is so much about Wild Bill that many of us are not familiar but thanks to William Wellman Jr., he gives us a glimpse of William Wellman, the son, the pilot, the filmmaker, the friend but most importantly, the husband and father.

“Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel” should no doubt entertain anyone who is a fan of Wellman’s work.

The book begins with the younger years of Bill Wellman but establishing the relationship with his mother Celia, who was known at the time for helping “wayward boys” but eventually Bill’s enlistment in the military to become a pilot.

What is very awesome is letters between mother and son are featured and you can see how close the relationship he and his mother had.

The book also details the several marriages that William Wellman had, but to my surprise, the first marriage was possibly the biggest heartbreak I had never known about, because it was possibly one of the most painful experiences Wellman had to endure, of losing the love of his life due to the war.

While the book then goes into how Wild Bill got his foot in the door with the entertainment industry, what cinema fans will enjoy even more are the details that transpired during the filming of the movies. Once again, I can’t delve into too much, because I’m not sure if those details will make it to the final version of the book.

But I will say this, being a fan of Wellman’s work, I was always curious about him working with Clara Bow in “Wings” but also how a not-yet-known Gary Cooper would be cast in the film.

Of course, we all want to know more about the grapefruit scene in “The Public Enemy” but the book gives more insight on the actual filming of various scenes of the film.

And the book goes on to give us some detail of behind-the-scenes of many films that Wellman had worked on.

But we also get to have a little insight of Wellman’s fiery temper, his fracas with Spencer Tracy (and other producers).

But after Hollywood the book goes into the final years of William A. Wellman, a man who lived and eventually would die under his own terms.

Overall, William Wellman Jr. does his father a great service…honoring the man, the filmmaker and his film oeuvre as best as he can.

It’s one thing to respect the filmmaker but after reading this book, I respect Wild Bill Wellman for what he accomplished in his life as a filmmaker but also a familyman. Sure, he may not have been the easiest man to work with and I know that many may have seen his working approach as difficult, but that’s because he was a passionate man that stood for what he believed in and did not let any producer or actor bully him, as we have seen them do with countless other filmmakers.

He was indeed a Hollywood Rebel but after reading “Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel”, you can’t help but respect the man even more. Any cineaste or Wild Bill Wellman fan will no doubt enjoy this book!

Highly recommended!


The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink by Pamela Katz (a J!-ENT Book Review)

December 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


TITLE: The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink

AUTHOR: Pamela Katz

PUBLISHER: Nan A. Taleze

PAGES: 480 Pages

RELEASE DATE: January 6, 2015

Among the most creative and outsized personalities of the Weimar Republic, that sizzling yet decadent epoch between the Great War and the Nazis’ rise to power, were the renegade poet Bertolt Brecht and the rebellious avant-garde composer Kurt Weill. These two young geniuses and the three women vital to their work—actresses Lotte Lenya and Helene Weigel and writer Elizabeth Hauptmann—joined talents to create the theatrical and musical masterworks The Threepenny Opera and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, only to split in rancor as their culture cracked open and their aesthetic and temperamental differences became irreconcilable. The Partnership is the first book to tell the full story of Brecht and Weill’s impulsive, combustible partnership, the compelling psychological drama of one of the most important creative collaborations of the past century. It is also the first book to give full credit where it is richly due to the three women whose creative gifts contributed enormously to their masterworks. And it tells the thrilling and iconic story of artistic daring entwined with sexual freedom during the Weimar Republic’s most fevered years, a time when art and politics and society were inextricably mixed.

As a cinema fan of films created in the Weimar Republic, I was interested in learning about the renown poet Bertolt Brecht and the avant-garde composer Kurt Weill.

I was very interested in the book as it delved into the relationship between Elisabeth Hauptmann, a German writer who worked with Brecht as a co-author of “The Threepenny Opera” and worked with both men.

But also his relationship with actress Helene Weigel.

And for Kurt Weill, his working relationship with Brecht but also his relationship with his wife, singer Lenya Lotte.

Pamela Katz is a well-researched book on the lives of these five individuals and how their creativity was allowed to blossom during the Weimar Republic.

But reading Katz book, I was surprised to see how both men who created their legacy with “The Threepenny Opera” had such a troubled relationship. Moreso due to Brecht, who showed disdain for working with Kurt Weill, considering Weill did much for his career. It was simply about a man who believed in the power of music, the other believing in the power of words. While they tried to remain civil, it was proving that both men had their own opinion about their work and what is more important. Especially when it came to ideology.

But reading the book, it’s interesting to see how things were behind-the-scenes especially with their collaboration for “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny”.

There is a lot of research that went into the history of both men and their work together, but also life post-World War II. I was very impressed of how thorough Pamela Katz was able to learn about both men and the women in their lives and building the case of how this magnificent partnership would eventually come to an end.

A wonderful, insightful, well-written book on the working relationship of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill! Pamela Katz “The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink” is recommended!


Brick City: Global Icons to Make from LEGO by Warren Elsmore (a J!-ENT LEGO Book Review)

November 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 



LEGO BOOK: Brick City: Global Icons to Make from LEGO by Warren Elsmore


PRICE: $19.99

AGES: 6+

EXTRAS: Softcover book.  Comes with a poster.

For the LEGO AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO), challenging one’s self in order to create something grand is often a goal that many AFOL’s tend to inspire to.

From creating LEGO sets, to purchasing hundreds to thousands of pieces in order to create something unique and grand. While along the way, sometimes one needs a little help by using a guideline similar to what people tend to see in LEGO guidebooks, when purchasing a set.

Warren Elsmore, a LEGO modeler, is best known for creating London’s St. Pancras Station (about 13.5 feet) and he has created a book titled “BRICK CITY: GLOBAL ICONS TO MAKE FROM LEGO” (which comes with a poster of Elsmore’s London’s St. Pancras Station).

The book is more or less a how-to guidebook on how to create famous structures such as the Sydney’s Harbor Bridge, San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and many more.

The book goes into detail of what kind of parts are needed, how many pieces are needed and then how he was able to create those buildings.

The book also showcases various work by Elsmore such as the 12,000 piece “MACY’S DAY PARADE”, his 2000 piece Abraham Lincoln Memorial to his creation of the Empire State Building.

The book starts off with simple models such as the White House/Capitol Building or a New York Taxi to even more complicated structures such as the Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers.

I definitely recommend “BRICK CITY: GLOBAL ICONS TO MAKE FROM LEGO” if you have had built up your collection of LEGO pieces, are prepared for a major LEGO challenge and also have experience (and patience) to take on a bigger project.

Look at this book as a resource to learn how to create more complicated structures or vehicles and after you’re all done, I would not be surprised if one goes on to try and become a master builder.



LEGO minifigures: Character Encyclopedia by Daniel Lipkowitz (a J!-ENT LEGO Book Review)

November 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 



LEGO BOOK: LEGO minifigures: Character Encyclopedia

Written byDaniel Lipkowitz


PRICE: $18.99

AGES: 6+

EXTRAS: Hardcover book.  Comes with a LEGO Minifigure: Toy Soldier

Every several months, LEGO has released mystery bagged LEGO figures, known as minifigures (a distinction given to the bagged mystery LEGO figures, the name is in lowercase).

For longtime fans, these minifigures have been not only addictive but also quite a headache as one can easily purchase the same figure several times or look unusual to a person passing by as you are holding a bag and trying to feel the contents in hopes you can identify a hat or a weapon.

But for those who are getting into LEGO minifgures and want to start collecting them (and also willing to pay quite a bit of money on eBay to get them), will want to check out “LEGO minifigures CHARACTER ENCYCLOPEDIA” by Daniel Lipkowitz.

LEGO minifigures began back in 2010 and each line contains an original character not seen in other sets. Each line contains 16 different mini figures, while series 10 featured a limited golden figure (5,000 made) for a total of 17.

As of the end of 2015, a total of 15 series have been released, and for “LEGO MINIFIGURES CHARACTER ENCYCLOPEDIA”, the book covers series 1-10.

The book is actually well-done as it contains information of the LEGO minifigure, minifacts and more.

For example, for the Nurse minifigure, the name Dawes is on the nurses chart. The page has a fun fact that Dawes is actually the name of LEGO minifigures designer Laurence Dawes.
Another reason why people want to buy this book is the exclusive Toy Soldier LEGO Minifigure which comes with it.

Personally, I have found this book to be very useful in my research as I tend to like to create LEGO settings that can utilize a certain character and their look.

If I want to create a sports-themed setting, a cinema setting, a space setting or something creative or unusual, I have used this book to identify which LEGO minifigure to purchase and it has turned out to be a useful book.

For the most part, “LEGO minifigures CHARACTER ENCYCLOPEDIA” is a magnificent and safe book for children but also a great resource book for the fellow AFOL’s (Adult Fan of LEGOS), who are collectors and simply love LEGO’s in general.



Attack on Titan: Before the Fall by Ryo Suzukake and Art by Thores Shibamoto (a J!-ENT Book Review)

October 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


“Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is an entertaining book that I recommend for those who have knowledge of the series. Many fans of the “Attack on Titan” series will no doubt enjoy the way of how the equipment was found and developed but also be entranced by the development of the characters and their unique skills. If you enjoy “Attack on Titan”, you will definitely want to give the prequel “Before the Fall” a chance!  Recommended.


TITLE: Attack on Titan: Before the Fall

BY: Ryo Suzukake and Art by Thores Shibamoto

PUBLISHER: Vertical Inc.


RELEASED: September 7, 2014

Before the fall, and before the trials of “the Titan’s son” Kyklo, a young smith by the name of Angel Aaltonen grappled with the giants as only a craftsman could…

The first of the three-part Before the Fall light novels, whose second and third installments have been adapted into a manga of the same name, this prequel of prequels details the origins of the devices that humanity developed to take on the mysterious Titans.

Back in 2006, Hajime Isayama wrote a 65-page one-shot of “Shingeki no Kyojin”. Inspired during an encounter with an irate customer while working at an internet cafe, the encounter would eventually be the basis of his hit series which is known internationally as “Attack on Titan”.

In 2009, “Shingeki no Kyojin” began serialization in Kodanasha’s “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine” and has spawned a popular manga and anime series, three light novel volumes, multiple video games, manga spin-offs and a live-action film set for release in theaters in 2015.

For author Ryo Suzukake, his book “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” was not a series to feature the primary characters from the series, but to create a story that is based on whatever was left of humanity and needing the weaponry to fight against the Titans.

The first of the three-part “Before the Fall” light novels, whose second and third installments have been adapted into a manga of the same name, this prequel of prequels details the origins of the devices that humanity has developed to take on the Titans.

“Before the Fall” takes place when only less than 500,000 humans were left after being decimated by the mysterious behemoths known as Titans.   To protect what was left of humanity, three walls…Wall Maria, Wall Rose and  Wall Sheena were created in hopes that it would be enough to keep the Titans away.     This story takes place before the fall of Wall Maria (which more can also be read or viewed in the popular “Attack on Titan” hit manga or anime series).

But in the Shiganshina District, working in Wall Maria is craftsmen Angel Aaltonen, a craftsman who along with his  assistant Corina Ilmari and his close friends Solm, Maria and alchemist Xenophon are enjoying the peace behind the walls that protect them from danger.

Danger from behemoths known as Titans.  Who are they?  What are they?  Angel and his friends don’t know, but to see the Survey Corps decimated each time they go outside of the city, he knows that they need better weaponry but what kind of weaponry will defeat these Titans?

But one day, Angel’s life would change as the Titans would enter the city and nearly destroy everything in its path.

For Angel, he knows he has to craft something to give humanity a chance and through many adventures he will discover the materials that will no doubt give humanity a fighting chance!


For any reader and viewer that has been captivated by “Attack on Titan”, Ryo Suzukake’s book “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is an amusing and exciting side-story as it features an adventurous storyline that is less about those who fight with the behemoths known as the titans but regular normal people living within the city and trying to live a normal life and survive, despite a major threat looming outside their great walls.

Having not seen a Titan, they do know that the Survey Corps has dwindled each time they have gone outside to fight and with peace in the area, that peace is disturbed when body parts are thrown over the walls and it begins to cause panic and fear as they wonder what kind of thing could have caused such disturbance.

Suffice to say, society has a curiosity of what is outside the walls and as for craftsman, Angel Aaltonen, his work is creating weapons for the Survey Corps, as his words are “A Best Offense is a Best Defense”.

But when the Titans make their presence known inside the city and watch as humanity is slowly crushed.  Angel and his friends are in a panic and are attacked as their curiosity to see a Titan upfront leads to the demise of people that are close to Angel.  Watch the Titans, as the smiling behemoths would grab humans just to snap their bodies or trample them, and pick them up and eat them just to regurgitate and spit whatever is left of a person out of their mouths.

To find out that all weapons that have been created are not working and there is no weakness.  Could these Titans be invulnerable?

Just when you think that life for humanity shows no signs of any chance of fighting back, Angel and his friends learn about Iron Bamboo.  Bamboo laced with iron and despite its consistency, still remains light.  But can something be crafted with it and what is it about this iron bamboo that would make it a great weapon or perhaps a best offense or defense?  That is what Angel must find out and they need to get more of it.

Part of what is alluring about the storyline is seeing how Angel and his friends go from calm individuals to sickened and scared as the Titans invade their home and having to endure a journey to discover other artifacts in order to fight evil.  As the Titans are not the only ones causing fear, as there are anti-establishment forces also wanting to kill anyone who comes from within the walls.

But aside from the Titans themselves and those  who live behind the walls, the most important correlation are the contraptions that we see in the “Attack on Titan” manga and anime series.   For example, the importance of the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment, or the grappling hook and how was it discovered, how was it implemented and how it relates to the character, Angel.

For Ryo Suzukake, he manages to make the connection between the popular hit series and his manga by showing us how the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment was developed and the important materials that were needed to created it.  But most importantly, how the weak spot of the Titan was discovered with hopes that this will give humanity a fighting chance.

But for Angel and his friends, it’s the pursuit of how they came about these materials and how they were tested and the deadly adventures just to obtain the materials, is what makes this book so captivating.

This first light novel (of the three part “Before the Fall” light novels) does feature a few pages with illustrations by Thores Shibamoto but “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is a prequel that is all about the story and less about the illustrations.  A story about a craftsman, Angel who will eventually change after the experience and contact with the Titans but to see people he once knew, people he was close with, under the perilous attacks of the deadly Titans.

Overall, “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is an entertaining book that I recommend for those who have knowledge of the series.  Many fans of the “Attack on Titan” series will no doubt enjoy the way of how the equipment was found and developed but also be entranced by the development of the characters and their unique skills.

If you enjoy “Attack on Titan”, you will definitely want to give the prequel “Before the Fall” a chance!  Recommended.


the LEGO NEIGHBORHOOD book by Brian Lyles and Jason Lyles (a J!-ENT LEGO Book Review)

September 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 




AUTHORS: by Brian Lyles and Jason Lyles

Price: $19.95

Company: No Starch Press

Availability: Available Now | Ages 10+

Softcover: 208 pages

From LEGO builders, Brian Lyles and Jason Lyles comes a book featuring building instructions that have been featured on their website,

The book is written for those who have experience building LEGO modular buildings.

From creating things like roof moldings and cornices, lights, column and railings, windows and shutters, newspaper racks, fire hydrants, parking meters, benches, traffic lights for details.

And then easing your way to creating interiors such as a living room, console tables, shelvings, recliners, lighting plants, kitchen, appliances, dining room, beds, bathrooms, etc.

The how-to-guidebook shows you how to create a variety of objects and also shows photos of the Lyles’ creations, such as their Chilis restaurant, a bakery inspired by a cake shop in New Jersey and other buildings inspired by real buildings that they have seen in other cities.

But once you complete half the book, you then are introduced to the more complex modular buildings that you can create.

This is where it’s important that one has have a collection of pieces available to them as the book shows parts lists (you can also download from the No Starch website), but you can build a corner drugstore, a house, a Parisian apartment, a colonial row house and canal ring house (these are all pictured on the front cover of the book).

For those who are wanting to move up from intermediate to expert, both “the LEGO NEIGHBORHOOD book” by the Lyles and “BRICK CITY: GLOBAL ICONS TO MAKE FROM LEGO” are wonderful books for one to further their creativity, but also be inspired to build their own creations.

I found this book also wonderful in the fact that there are mini builds, aside from just buildings, so you can make lamp posts, traffic lights, recliner, tables and more. So, for those who have pre-existing LEGO sets and want to do slight modifications for their interiors, this is another plus for this book.

I do not recommend this book for young children, but I do recommend it for serious builders who are willing to invest in the many pieces that will be needed to create these modulars.
For those not familiar with LEGO modulars, they tend to run over $150 and by buying these pieces separately, you should expect to be paying over a $100 because there are many pieces involved.

For the how-to-guide, similar to LEGO guidebooks that come with sets, they are easy to follow and for the most part, those with experience and patience will be able to build these modular buildings, some may want to follow the directions, but by using the appropriate color pieces that would suit them.

Overall, another LEGO how-to-book that I recommend!


LEGO MINIFIGURE YEAR BY YEAR: A VISUAL HISTORY by Gregory Farshtey with Daniel Lipkowitz (A J!-ENT LEGO Book Review)

January 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 




BY: Gregory Farshtey with Daniel Lipkowitz

Price: $40.00

Company: DK

Availability: Available Now

Hardcover: 256 pages

When it comes to LEGO books showcasing minifigures, DK has made many books showcasing LEGO minifigures from a series, to showing various types of LEGO minifigures made.

But in 2013, DK released a book that many fans have been waiting for and that is a visual history of LEGO, year by year.

It’s important to note that with the number of releases LEGO has each year, in terms of minifigures included in many types of sets, that not all minifigures are going to show up.
Also, because the book was released in 2013, the years covered in the book are from 1978 through 2013.

And also, DK is know for including LEGO Minifigures, you get three with this book, with the townsperson, Stormtrooper and a robber.

It’s also important to note that if you buy this NEW, to make sure you buy it from a reputable store and if buying USED, to know that you may get a version of the book which does not come with the minifigures.

The book kicks off with how the minifigures were brought to life and a lot of factoids that went into the creation of the first LEGO minifigure and the precursor to it, such as the LEGO Family. Also, by separating of what is a minifigure and what is not a LEGO minifigure (such as the LEGO skeleton, the LEGO Star Wars Battle Droid and the LEGO Friends mini doll).

The book also goes into how LEGO minifigures are made and the brainstorming sessions at the LEGO offices in Billund, Denmark.

The book features a timeline to show how LEGO minifigures have evolved throughout the years and then going into a visual breakdown of LEGO’s year-by-year.

For me, I absolutely love this book for the fact it showcases the various types of LEGO minifigures produced with small factoids printed next to the figure.

The book does go into various LEGO series released that year, such as LEGO TOWN, LEGO STAR WARS, LEGO HARRY POTTER, LEGO CYCLE TEAM, LEGO SPIDER-MAN, LEGO DC UNIVERSE, LEGO LEGENDS OF CHIMA , LEGO minifigures (the ones included in mystery bags) and more.

The book points out the variants available and those that came with DK books.

Overall, for those who are looking for a really good visual history of LEGO minifigures, this is the best book to buy! Recommended!


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