Halo: First Strike (Eric Nylund)

After a somewhat disappointing first book and a very disappointing second book, I didn't have high hopes for the third book in the Halo trilogy. But Eric Nylund must have gotten amped up on some really good coffee because Halo: First Strike not only delivers -- it's spectacular.

Starting from where The Flood (and the first computer game) leaves off, First Strike takes you to where the game Halo 2 begins. The story is truly engaging, with an equally interesting cast. I won't spoil it, though. Instead I'll focus on the telling of the story.

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Halo: The Flood (William C. Dietz)

In my review of the first Halo book, I joked that I would have rather read a book about Halo than played the game. Unfortunately, I need to eat those words. Halo: The Flood by William Dietz takes all the drudgery of the game and translates it, nearly verbatim, into a book of equal drudgery.

Whether by choice or by command from Bungie, Dietz takes you through a very literal retelling of the computer game. He does add several perspectives to the tale, however, giving you parts of the story from the eyes of Captain Keys, a Covenant Elite, and other Marines. In this regard, there's more to the story than what the game covered.

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Understanding Comics (Scott McCloud)

Understanding Comics is one of the most fascinating, enlightening books I've had the pleasure to read recently. I picked it up last week after seeing it on someone else's reading list, and within a couple pages, I was hooked.

Why? I rarely read comics; last time I followed a series, it was The Sandman about fifteen years ago. The thing is, Scott McCloud has a passion for the medium which permeates every page of his book, and he takes Understanding Comics beyond just understanding, and creates almost a manifesto that challenges comics to live up to their potential.

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Halo: The Fall of Reach (Eric Nylund)

The computer game Halo left me disappointed. The levels took some good ideas and, apparently to pad out the game, just copied-n-pasted them many times over. The resulting gameplay quickly devolved to boring repetition. The story, however, was fascinating. I joked to a friend, "I kept pressing on just to see where the story went, so I would have rather read Halo as a book."

Well, it turns out you can.

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Secrets and Lies (Bruce Schneier)

I'm starting a new category here on multipart/mixed for books I'm reading or have completed recently. Hopefully these mini-reviews will give you some ideas for your own reading. (Plus, I make some Amazon Bucks if you buy from my links.)

There's hardly a better book to start with than Secrets and Lies. I'm currently working on security technologies at my day job, and this was a great book to start with for "the big picture." Schneier is a recognized expert in the field of computer security, and this book is his overview of the field.

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