teenage mutant ninja turtlesTeenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles. With the recent reboot of the movie, which came out in 2014 starring Megan Fox, and the fact that our summer reading program is superheroes, people of all ages seem to be asking for more information about these pizza-loving, crime-fighting superheroes. Seeing as I like the out-of-the-ordinary superheroes, I found myself looking more into TMNT and their many different reboots. One of the games I found was the 2013 release of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the Wii. (This game is also available on 3DS and Xbox 360.)

Now I must admit that I am a fan of the 1987-1996 run of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show, as I grew up watching them and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers at my neighbor’s house, so my review may be a bit skewed. (Find Season One of TMNT here.)Nonetheless, I shall prevail. Graphics aside, which is where my major grumpiness resides with this game as they differ from the original, this game is still entertaining to play. Having seen episodes of the Nickelodeon show, I can say that the characters in this game move just like the characters in the show, flying through the air battling bad guys and chowing down on pizza to get their health back. Players are allowed to choose which of the four turtles they wish to play as with, of course, the option being that you can play with as many as four players. This game was clearly marketed and more or less made for younger children to play, but there are elements that will draw in older fans of the show as well.

The graphics are good, but not amazing, similar to the Nickelodeon show. There are fifteen different action-packed levels for players to maneuver through, as well as more than twelve different environments of play to muck through, be they subways, city streets, sewers, docks, and many more. Fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both young and old, will enjoy playing this game as they battle to stop Shredder and the Kraang from unleashing a mutagen bomb that, if detonated, will turn the hapless residents of New York City into mindless mutants.

If you’re interested in being a green superhero for a little while, join Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo, as they battle to save New York. Booyakasha!

battlescapesThe scars on the landscape have faded, the roar of battle has been forgotten, and the machinations of generals and commanders and sacrifices of soldiers have slipped into the history books, but the places remain. Alfred Bullesbach set out to photograph the locations of 34 famous battles and the result is the stunning and thought-provoking Battlescapes.

Bullesbach is not a historian; he is a photographer and he approached each battlefield with a landscape photographers eye. In some cases, there are elaborate memorials or large formal cemataries; at other sites there is no evidence whatsoever that a battle took place there. Sheep graze on the grass covered trenches of the Somme where 1.5 million men lost their lives. A lush and peaceful forest stands were the Americans and Germans fought the bloody Battle of the Bulge.

Perhaps most poignant are the numerous sites from the Great War (World War I); men were buried where they fell, many of their names unknown. Small cemeteries, containing several dozen to just a few graves, have become part of the landscape, surrounded by farm fields and pastures. Each grave is still meticulously tended, with flowers and carefully mown grass.

All of the battlesites pictured are located in Europe, so Americans were only involved in the later wars (World Wars I and II), but you will have encountered many of the names in your history books – Alesia, Hastings, Agincourt, Blenheim, Waterloo. The photography is stunning with large panoramics and as well as more intimate studies for each location. A guide to visiting the battlefields concludes the book.

dday1D-Day was June 6th, 1944.  This year marks its 65th anniversary.  For those who served so long ago, let us take a moment to remember them.  As members of that generation die out, we lose those incredibly precious first-hand accounts.  For those of us born later, we can always rely on the history that has been faithfully recorded  in books and videos.

Check out D-Day:Reflections of Courage, a DVD put out by BBC Video. Shot on location and told from the various point-of-views of American, British, French and German participants, it is an excellent overview of this historic day.

ten-days-to-d-day1If you prefer a written version, try Ten Days to D-Day by David Stafford. The Normandy invasion was the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, landing 160,000 troops on that fateful day in June. An operation that large, involving several different governments and armies required unprecedented planning. Told from several points-of-view, from the Generals and Presidents to the soldiers and civilians, this is a gripping story of courage and sacrifice.

the-longest-dayYou might also want to take a look at The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan, the acknowledged classic of the invasion. Ryan interviewed participants shortly after the war while memories were still fresh and skillfully weaves their personal stories into the overall history. A must-read for history buffs.

And watch for the ongoing Honor Flights, now being conducted throughout the country (Davenport just sent a group in April; another is scheduled for October) Volunteers fly veterans of World War II to Washington D.C. to visit the recently built World War II Memorial. All expenses for the veterans are paid by contributions – a small return to these everyday heroes from a grateful nation.