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Check It Out: Take a gamble on these titles

Why do people play games? Well, since we can’t solve the world’s problems, playing a game within a controlled environment at least gives us a chance to temporarily escape from reality. It also gives us an opportunity to unravel a mystery and even integrate learned skills into new games. Take a gander at these books, available at the Newport Beach Public Library, to pick up some tips about skilled games and read novels about risk-taking characters who make dangerous choices without the “get out of jail” card from the board game, Monopoly, available at their fingertips.

“Parlor Games” by Maryka Biaggio: If you enjoy historical fiction and stories about con artists, read this novel about turn-of the-century seductress May Dugas, who stands trial for extortion as a result of her ability to extract large sums of money from the men she encounters. In reality, the Pinkerton Agency dubbed her the “Most Dangerous Woman” of her time, although to many, she was the most glamorous woman to grace high society. Was the real May Dugas a cold-hearted swindler or simply a resourceful provider for her poor family?

“The Complete Book of Card Games” by Peter Arnold: This comprehensive guide includes over 90 card games for all ages and is organized by the number of players required for each type of game. It includes classics such as brag, bridge, poker, rummy and cribbage along with all of their variations. It also includes lesser-known games such as Russian Bank, solo whist and Pope Joan. Clear, color illustrations are also provided. If you have this handy book and a deck of cards, you’re ready to start!

“Shake Off” by Mischa Hiller: Years of training have transformed Michel Khoury, a bright young man, into a skilled intelligence operative who is trained in the USSR by the PLO. As a young man, his family is murdered by extremists. However, he is recruited and rescued by a shadowy figure who gives him an education and trains him in the techniques of espionage. Things go dreadfully wrong for Khoury, however, when he delivers an envelope from London to a woman in Berlin. The contents of the envelope are a mystery to him and he soon learns he is delivering profound trouble…


“The Pocket Guide to Dice & Dice Games” by Dr. Keith Souter: This guide presents interesting facts about the history of dice games, as well as terms, definitions, lore and explanations about dice. Players are also given helpful tips on how to recognize dice tricks and “crooked” dice.

“The Games” by Ted Kosmatka: Meet Silas Williams, a brilliant geneticist in charge of preparing the U.S. entry into the Olympic Gladiator competition. Only one rule has been sanctioned in this internationally sanctioned blood sport: No human DNA is allowed in the design of the entrants. Silas has created a highly specialized killing machine with a genome never seen on earth. This science fiction thriller is a blend between “Jurassic Park” and “The Hunger Games.”

In conclusion, there is a Chinese proverb I especially like in regard to games that states, “If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.”

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.