Monday, July 27, 2015

An Interview with Ishbelle Bee, author of The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl

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Today, I have the honour of interviewing Ishbelle Bee, the author of The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath, and the follow up to that fantastic book, The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl, which is being released on August 7, 2015, from Angry Robot Books. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath is one of my favorite books of the year, and The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl follows right behind.



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Ishbelle Bee writes horror and loves fairy-tales, the Victorian period (especially top hats!) and cake tents at village fêtes (she believes serial killers usually opt for the Victoria Sponge).

She currently lives in Edinburgh. She doesn’t own a rescue cat, but if she did his name would be Mr Pickles.



First off, thank you for joining us today, and thank you for writing such a beautiful book in The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath! I would love to know what your inspiration was in creating this fantastical story and cast of characters.

Hello there!
I wanted to create my own strange Victorian London filled with quirky and magical characters. I was interested in exploring a story of a little girl possessed with something otherworldly and which would involve Victorian Spiritualism and the frauds associated with it. I was also quite intrigued by the unsolved murders of Jack the Ripper and wanted to somehow include him into the plot.


I'm always curious about the writing habits of authors. What is the typical writing day of Ishbelle Bee like? Do you outline, or just see where the characters and story take you?

Before writing a book I have a strong idea in my head of the main themes and I usually have a sketchy outline for the plot. I prefer just to dive right in rather than spend days world building and outlining a storyline. A typical writing day for me usually starts quite early, about 7 am and ends about 2pm. I find I write best in the mornings. I like to just get stuck into the story and let it evolve as naturally as possible. I let the characters take me where they want to go (usually into very strange scenarios). In the afternoons I like to read and research subject matters linked to my book (for example Death rites or Victorian costumes) and in the evenings I read for fun. I usually take eight weeks to get a first draft complete of a novel. Then I read through it and start the first of the redrafts before sending it onto my agent for her opinion.

How are your favorite authors? Favorite books? Which authors inspire you the most? What are you reading at present?

A few of my favourite authors are Angela Carter, Lewes Carroll and Terry Pratchett.
A few of my favourite books are THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco
THE MAGIC TOYSHOP by Angela Cater and CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell.

I recently finished reading UNDER THE SKIN by Michel Faber and I am currently reading THE HAWLEY BOOK OF THE DEAD by Chrysler Szarlan

I am inspired by folklore, mythology and fairytales and I am especially interested in the Aztec and Egyptians


Because I'm wildly curious, favorite Doctor?

Tom Baker because of the mad googly eyes and scarfs.

When did you decide to be a writer?

Always but I lacked the confidence to try for an agent until a few years ago.

What would you say is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest? Any advice for new writers?

For me one of the hardest things about writing is to remain focused and complete a book without being side-tracked onto another project. The easiest thing is the characters which is my favourite part and I love writing really quirky individuals with a unique perspective on the world.

I am not good at giving advice but I think for any new writer trying to get an agent, just to keep writing, work really hard and try not to feel pulverised by rejections.


Any thoughts on the state of the fantasy genre at present?

That’s a really hard question. I would like to see more comedy in fantasy (but that’s just me).

We know that The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl is just over the horizon, but will we be seeing any more of Mr Loveheart and Co? I'm hoping so!

I have written four books for the Loveheart series(and will be writing a fifth). Mr Loveheart also features in a Christmas special book set in London. It’s a bit like a Christmas Carol meets Carry on Screaming (for anyone who doesn’t know that latter - it’s a crazy quirky British cult horror-comedy film.) (I can't wait!)

Any parting words for our readers?

I think I will quote the mad explorer Rufus Hazard from the book due out in August - “Unspeakable bad manners leaving a man with his head in a bowl of trifle.”

Thank you so much for the lovely interview.


A huge thank you to Ishbelle Bee for taking time out of her schedule to stop by and visit us today. Be sure to check out both The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath and The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl, and I know I'll be anxiously awaiting to read more adventures of Mr Loveheart and Co!





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The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume I
by Ishbelle Bee

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The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume II

by Ishbelle Bee

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Wesley Chu promotes his new book, Time Salvager

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Wesley Chu stopped by Schuler Books last night to discuss his new book Time Salvager and sign copies. Wesley is a really great guy and if you ever get the chance to meet him, I'd highly recommend it.



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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ODY-C, Vol 1 by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward

 photo 1632153769.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsr896mbrh.jpgODY-C, Vol 1
by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward
Published by Image Comics, June 25, 2015
136 Pages • ISBN 978-1632153760 • Paperback

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Book description:
An eye-searing, mind-bending, gender-shattering epic science fiction retelling of Homer's Odyssey starting with the end of a great war in the stars and the beginning of a very long journey home for Odyssia and her crew of warriors. The journey to Ithicaa begins HERE, by Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals) and Christian Ward (Infinite Vacation, Olympus).


Interesting idea, visually stunning, poorly told. Matt Fraction takes Homer's Odyssey and transforms it into an over-the-top space opera rife with gender-bending characters (there are no more males - Zeus took care of that - but now there is a third gender, which to me renders the whole idea of wiping out the male gender a little pointless); psychedelic, trippy visuals supplied by Christian Ward; and what I'm assuming is supposed to be this futuristic take on the spoken word telling of the Odyssey, but what comes across as just a garbled mess more often than not.

Honestly, if it weren't for Ward's visuals, this would have been a solid 1 star for me, if not less. Won't be following this up at all.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

So, this happenend...

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I stopped in to Schuler Books last night to pick up my copy of The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume I by Ishbelle Bee, and while waiting in line at the cafe for a coffee, flipped the book over and discovered that I'm quoted, thru the blog, on the back cover of the book!

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To say that I was a little excited to see this is an understatement, as I had no idea that this was going to happen.

Happy day and happy reading!





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Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Vol 1 by George R. R. Martin, adapted by Daniel Abraham, illustrated by Tommy Patterson

 photo 044042321X.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsx2cbu8id.jpgA Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Vol 1
by George R. R. Martin, adapted by Daniel Abraham, illustrated by Tommy Patterson
Published by Bantam, March 27, 2012
240 Pages • ISBN 978-0440423218 • Hardcover

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Book description:
This graphic novel adaptation contains more than fifty pages of exclusive content not available in the original comic books, including:

• a new Preface by George R. R. Martin
• early renderings of key scenes and favorite characters from the novels
• a walk-through of the entire creative process, from auditioning the artists to tweaking the scripts to coloring the final pages
• behind-the-scenes commentary from Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson, and series editor Anne Groell

You’ve read the books. You’ve watched the hit series on HBO. Now acclaimed novelist Daniel Abraham and illustrator Tommy Patterson bring George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy masterwork
A Game of Thrones to majestic new life in the pages of this full-color graphic novel. Comprised of the initial six issues of the graphic series, this is the first volume in what is sure to be one of the most coveted collaborations of the year.

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.


I was asked: "Is this bad, or just bad in comparison?"

The short answer:

It's not bad, but it's not good, either.

Longer answer:

Basically, how many different ways can you tell the same story and keep it fresh? Unfortunately, I didn't feel like there was anything here that made it stand apart from the original book or the show. The art is ok, but I had trouble distinguishing some of the characters from each other unless they were talking, as many of them look too familiar to each other. The adaptation itself is ok, but nothing spectacular. I also felt that unless you'd already read the books or seen the show, there were some aspects to the story that were glossed over a little too thinly, so if this was your only access to the story, some of it wouldn't be clear. This seemed to be written with the express understanding that anybody reading it would already have a base knowledge of what's going on, and I think that's poor adapting of a story.

I guess if you're a hardcore GoT fan, this could be a good addition to your library, but for the casual fan like myself, it's just not that compelling. I'll just stick with the original books and show.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Map: A Jackaby Story by William Ritter

 photo 000872dc74ac62a596d796b6b67437641506f41_zpsbxw7jle8.jpgThe Map: A Jackaby Story
by William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers, June 15, 2015
57 Pages • ASIN B00YBAOT0W • eBook

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Book description:
Perfect for fans of Jackaby who are desperately awaiting the release of its sequel, Beastly Bones, this novella-length story follows the rollicking events of Abigail Rook’s birthday celebration.

Abigail hopes that her birthday will slip by unnoticed and uncelebrated, but her employer, detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby, has other plans. Using magical party crackers that teleport the pair to unknown destinations in time and space and a cryptic map that may lead to a forgotten treasure, Jackaby intends to give Abigail what he considers to be the best gift of all--adventure.

Abigail and Jackaby must tame an enormous (and carnivorous) rabbit, defend a castle, and master a dirigible if they want to find the treasure and get back to New Fiddleham alive.


A quick little tale to whet our appetites while waiting for Jackaby and Rook's next adventure, Beastly Bones, The Map finds Jackaby whisking Rook away on an adventure for her birthday, whether she likes it or not. After taking her to a magical market and buying her a treasure map, Jackaby and Rook follow the map in search of buried treasure.

There's still so much about this series that reminds me entirely of Doctor Who (possibly too much so...). Jackaby is clearly based on Four, and while I haven't pinpointed which companion Rook takes after, you know she has to based on one of the Doctor's companions. I'm still excited about the characters, and this was a great little teaser for the upcoming book.






And just to be clear, by Four, I mean...

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...and not...

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Vol 1: After Life by Al Ewing & Rob Williams, illustrated by Simon Fraser & Gary Caldwell

 photo 1782761748.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsmujto37z.jpgDoctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Vol 1: After Life
by Al Ewing & Rob Williams, illustrated by Simon Fraser & Gary Caldwell
Published by Titan Comics, March 31, 2015
128 Pages • ISBN 978-1782761747 • Hardcover

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Book description:
With a force of personality capable of bending time itself and all the energy of a star’s exploding heart, the Doctor blasts into the hollow, tragic life of a woman with so much to offer – and gives her the chance to scream “Geronimo!” at the thrills, colors and terrors of an infinite universe!

Masterful writers Al Ewing (
Loki: Agent of Asgard, Mighty Avengers) and Rob Williams (Ordinary, The Royals: Masters of War) team with astounding artists Simon Fraser (Nikolai Dante) and Boo Cook (Elephantmen) to blast the Eleventh Doctor – as played by Matt Smith – into a tantalizing new era of time-twisting comics stories!

Collects
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1-5.


Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this volume nearly as much as I did the first volume for Ten. This one isn't necessarily bad, it just didn't seem to hit its stride for me. Eleven is written well, and I could easily hear his voice in my head the entire time, but he looked more or less like a caricature of himself thru most of volume. Including an underlying mystery that was present thru the first five issues was a nice touch and a nice nod to the television series, however, it felt way too rushed (although that may have simply been a result of reading all five issues in one sitting, without having the month in between the issues when they were being originally released).

While I enjoyed Ten's volume so much more, this was still a fun read, and I'll definitely be picking up the subsequent volumes and follow along with Eleven on his future adventures.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle

 photo f277f98a6e2a2d3597573326b67437641506f41_zpszxptydgu.jpgWarren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel
by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
Published by Quirk Books, November 24, 2015
256 Pages • ISBN 978-1594748035 • Hardcover
I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher thru NetGalley for an honest review.

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Book description:
Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky... yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first—if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it! This middle-grade adventure features gorgeous two-color illustrations on every page and a lavish two-column Victorian design that will pull young readers into a spooky and delightful mystery.


Twelve-year-old Warren the 13th is a bellhop at the hotel that his family has owned for generations. Warren is actually the only bellhop at the hotel, as the hotel has fallen into disrepair and disuse since his parents died and his Uncle Rupert and Aunt Anaconda have taken over the "management" of the hotel. His uncle is totally smitten with Anaconda, who is trying to locate the All-Seeing Eye, a mysterious something in the hotel that does something, but we're never quite given any hints of that something until the very end. The hotel is Warren's pride and joy, and he is forever optimistic that someday, the hotel will become as thriving as it once was. He has no friends in the hotel other than the cook and his teacher, no pets; in fact, Warren's life is pretty miserable under the ever-watchful eye of Anaconda.

Suddenly, one day a mysterious guest appears (whose head is entirely wrapped in bandages) and checks into the hotel. Then, Warren sees a mysterious ghostly figure in the hedge maze. Then, Anaconda's sisters arrive to help search for the All-Seeing Eye. Finally, the hotel is full to brimming with all manner of guests, who are all in search of the All-Seeing Eye. Before Warren knows it, he's off on an adventure of his own to discover the secret of the All-Seeing Eye before Anaconda and her sisters do, and along the way he actually makes some friends in unexpected places.

This is a clever story, and the accompanying illustrations are remarkable. Everything about the book made me feel that this would translate well into a film directed by Tim Burton; it has that particular look and feel to it, with its unusual looking characters and Gothic undertones. I'm anxious to see what the finished product looks like, as the pre-publication electronic copy I received has some unfinished illustrations in it, and I can only imagine how good the finished, printed copy will look like. I'm hoping we'll get to see more of Warren the 13th in the future.