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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Warfare in the Classical World

Books at City News Café

Warfare in the Classical World: Reviewed by Dominick M Maino

Dominick M Maino, Book Review Editor

City News Cafe is well known for its more than 5,000 magazines, awesome coffee, music performances and Hattie Portage’s home crafted chocolate truffles. Now the Six Corners community will also have access to a small business... right in our neighborhood... book store as well. 

Please feel free to let us know what topics and titles you’d like to see on our shelves. (https://www.facebook.com/CityNewsCafe/)

Contact Dominick Maino (dmaino@ico.edu), the CNC Book Review Editor, if you’d like to write a review of any of the books you’ve read and want to see it published here.



Warfare in the Classical World
by John Warry

Reviewed by Dominick M. Maino

Several years ago I became almost fanatical about learning all I could in regards to ancient Rome. It started with Julius Caesar and those that came before him and after him as the “First Men of Rome”. After Caesar I sought out the stories of individuals who claimed or were recognized as Imperators of the Empire. This journey led me to read about life in a typical Roman city and centuries later the story of Catherine de Medici who taught the French manners, and how to cook, how to make perfume and even fashion (Yes, Italians taught the French all they know! This should not surprise you.).
This led me to a broader study of warfare from the time of Homer and the Mycenaeans… all the way to the end of the Western Roman Empire and the coming of the barbarians.

Warfare in the Classical World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons, Warriors, and Warfare in the Ancient Civilizations by John Warry has 224 pages (printed by the University of Oklahoma Press) with numerous drawings and illustrations (many in full color), battle maps, a glossary and more.

 At the very beginning the author’s foreword lets you know that this book is based on as much scientific fact as is available and takes great pains to justify using Homer (the ultimate teller of stories) as a primary source when discussing the Mycenaeans, the early Greeks and Troy. He then goes on to review the pronunciation of ancient languages and why certain ancient words are spelled and said the way we now spell and say them.

All the chapters have a similar layout. They first discuss the “ancient authorities” used as sources and then review the political and historical background. Almost every page has diagrams, drawings, battle maps and/or other illustrations. This does not mean this is a picture book however. In-between each of these incredible illustrations is a story told using fairly precise language. This text leans heavily towards the academic side of history with an emphasis placed on dates, battles, equipment, ships and armor. 

If you want a biography of the men and women of history; if you want “a detailed story” of the individuals involved, this is not the book for you. If you desire knowledge of the “nuts and bolts” of ancient warfare, you should definitely add this text to your collection however.

City News has a copy of the book on its shelf, waiting to be taken home and treasured. Stop by anytime.



While you are waiting to read this gem....you can always get copies of the following:





If you have any questions about this review or if you would like to write a book review and need some guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me at dmaino@ico.edu.

If you want to know more about the City News Cafe and what we offer go to or contact us at
City News Cafe
4018 N. Cicero Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7377


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Magicians: Book Review from City News Café

Books from City News Café

Dominick M Maino, Book Review Editor

City News Cafe is well known for its more than 5,000 magazines, awesome coffee, music performances and Hattie Portage’s home crafted chocolate truffles. Now the Six Corners community will also have access to a small business... right in our neighborhood... book store as well. Please feel free to let us know what topics and titles you’d like to see on our shelves.

Contact Dominick Maino (dmaino@ico.edu), the CNC Book Review Editor, if you’d like to write a review of any of the books you’ve read and want to see it published here.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman reviewed by Dominick M. Maino

The Magicians: Book #1

I initially became interested in reading this trilogy after watching the Sci-Fi channel’s first season of the Magicians based on this book. (Yes, I’m hooked on all things Sci-Fi and fantasy). Most of you have probably noticed that if the movie or television show is well done, the book the show was based upon may not be well done (or vice versa). (I currently use Game of Thrones as an example. I enjoy the TV series, but did not enjoy the books.)


The Magicians: Sci-Fi Channel Season 2 2017
I would suggest that you read this trilogy before watching the television series. If you do this you will have a better appreciation and understanding of the nuances of the story when watching the TV series. I binged the first season on Nexflix after reading the books and found the television show to be even more enjoyable. The television series tends to mix in different aspects of the story that does not necessarily follow the timeline of the books.


The trilogy starts with The Magicians and then continues with The Magician King and finally The Magician’s Land. The story begins in Brooklyn with Quentin, Julia and James getting ready to embark on their college careers by interviewing at various universities. Both Quentin and Julia are invited and magically transported to Brakebills where they are given an entrance examination to see if they qualify to enter this university of magic. Quentin is accepted. Julia is turned away. James gets into a non-magical, real earth college.

Quentin is the nerdiest of nerds. He is great at math and sleight of hand magic who is that tall lanky, unsure of himself kid we all remember from our school days. He meets several interesting characters at Brakebills including sophisticated but usually drunk Eliot with his sidekick Janet, Alice (an already accomplished magician with a mysterious family history at Brakebills), Penny (a Punk/Goth tough guy), Dean Fogg, and a host of interesting supporting characters. The new students learn magic spells, are placed into various specialty areas of magic and adapt to college life (a magical college life to be sure, but with all the coming of age angst you’d expect).

Quentin, the main character, not only believed in the existence of magic, he BELIEVED in magic and lived magic because he thought his very existence depended upon it. He also believed in  Fillory. Fillory is a magical kingdom written about in a series of books that all at Brakbills were very familiar. Quentin knew this land of Fillory was real and that one day he would find happiness and satisfaction in this mythical place. There was also great evil, a malignant spirit and evil entity of magic as well.

This series of books is not intended for children. There is a fair amount of sex, drugs and Rock and Roll! (Well. Sex, drugs, booze, magic and dragons…not so much the Rock and Roll.) This may be acceptable for teens however, because it often shows the consequences the characters face for their bad decisions.

The Magicians trilogy explores the world of very intelligent, nerdy young adults as they participate in a coming of age story, that includes mythical characters, evil villains and magic. I would recommend that you read the trilogy before watching the Sci-Fi series on television.  This will fill in some of the story’s back ground since the television show tends to borrow from all the books.

The writing style of the first book moves along at a brisk jaunt, with the author using (at times) great descriptions of the real and magical worlds visited in this story. The second book (which I am about 95% finished reading) tends to bounce back and forth between the past and the present which I find disruptive since I tend to be more of a linear kind of fellow.

The bottom line is that if you liked Harry Potter, you will enjoy this version for adults. If you like the Sci-Fi series, you will enjoy this trilogy. If you want to read these books NOW do not go to Amazon…get your copy of the first book at the City News Café and start reading as you sip some awesome coffee, enjoy homemade chocolate truffles and listen to beautiful music.


Other books in the trilogy noted left and right.


If you have any questions about this review or if you would like to write a book review and need some guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me at dmaino@ico.edu.

If you want to know more about the City News Cafe and what we offer go to or contact us at

City News Cafe
4018 N. Cicero Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7377