Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Al Williamson

 photo 0785193677.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps5fmtse4q.jpgStar Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Al Williamson
Published by Marvel, August 11, 2015
144 Pages • ISBN 978-0785193678 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Rebuilding an Empire, Marvel style! As the Imperial Forces regroup from their Death Star setback, they target the new Rebel Alliance base on the ice planet Hoth. Will Darth Vader's AT -AT s find Luke Skywalker, or will a wampa get Luke first? Meanwhile, feelings run high in the galaxy's greatest love triangle, bounty hunters target Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, and bloated Jabba the Hutt lies in wait. Luke seeks out the great Jedi

Master Yoda on swampy Dagobah, but the Emperor has designs on turning the young Rebel hero. As the battle begins for Skywalker's soul, will his fear lead to anger, hate and the Dark Side? It's all heading to one of the greatest confrontations of all time. Prepare for a grave disturbance in the Force!

Star Wars (1977) 39-44 (remastered)

If you've seen the film version of The Empire Strikes Back, then you've read this book, and vice versa; it's a fairly faithful adaptation. What really makes this book stand out is the remastered coloring. Marvel took the original plates for the art and had them recolored using contemporary coloring techniques, and the result is fantastic. The book just looks beautiful. If you're just a casual fan, this probably wouldn't interest you too much, but for the hardcore Star Wars fan, I think this would be a great addition to their library.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Alice by Christina Henry

 photo 0425266796.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps9ltrzwuu.jpgAlice
by Christina Henry
Published by Ace Books, August 4, 2015
304 Pages • ISBN 978-0425266793 • Paperback
I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

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Book description:
A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood...

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

A deliciously dark and twisty take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that can read as both a retelling or a continuation, Alice by Christina Henry finds our heroine Alice locked away in an asylum after she is found wandering the Old City with no memory other than a bloody tea party and a man with long ears, like a rabbit would have. In the cell next to hers is Hatcher, a serial killer who lives in a world of lucidity followed by fits of madness. They form a bond, only able to communicate through nothing more than a mouse-hole in the wall. One night, the hospital catches fire, and Hatcher and Alice escape, just in time to watch the hospital crumble and something dark and sinister rise from the smoke.

The world they escape into, the Old City, is run by mob bosses who each holds a portion of the city under their control. There used to be magic in this world, too, but the Magicians were long thought to be gone from the world. Now there is only the Old City, and the bosses that control it. But Hatcher and Alice know there is something else in the city now, something killing everyone in its path as it searches for the one thing that can destroy it, and Hatcher and Alice are the only two who can stop it.

I love new takes on Wonderland, and thought this was an especially impressive re-imagining. Full of dystopian and noir elements, this Wonderland is certainly not full of wonders; instead it is full of dark corners and dangerous shadows, all under the control of the bosses of each district in the Old City, bosses such as Cheshire and the Caterpillar. This was something I particularly enjoyed, seeing familiar characters presented in entirely new renditions, yet staying true to their original essence. These are treacherous characters, though, and the lives of those living in their districts mean nothing to them. It is a precarious balance in the Old City, one that seems to be challenged by the bosses wanting to expand their territory, and whether they like it or not, Alice and Hatcher find themselves caught up in the disputes.

Alice is not for the faint of heart. The world Henry created here is a dangerous one full of violence, and terrible things happen to the people inhabiting it. There are moments of light sprinkled here and there, but this is not really a happy book. Don't come in expecting a dream-like tale, jumping from one psychedelic adventure to the next; this is one giant psychotic nightmare. Of course, should Christina Henry ever revisit these characters, I'll be sure to find out what happens to them. After all, there are still plenty of characters from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There that we haven't met in Henry's world yet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: A Little Golden Book by Geof Smith, illustrated by Ron Cohee

 photo 0736435484.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsbvavelpk.jpgStar Wars: Return of the Jedi: A Little Golden Book
by Geof Smith, illustrated by Ron Cohee
Published by Little Golden Book, July 28, 2015
24 Pages • ISBN 978-0736435482 • Hardcover

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Book description:
The epic space saga, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, is finally retold in the iconic Little Golden Book format! Luke Skywalker heads a mission to rescue Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, and faces Darth Vader one last time. Featuring stunning retro illustrations, this book is perfect for Star Wars—and Little Golden Book—fans of all ages!

This is exactly what it sounds like it is and what you'd be expecting: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, told as a Little Golden Book, complete with retro illustrations and everything the makes a Little Golden Book what it is. I bought this simply for the adorable factor, and you can bet I'll be picking up the rest of them.

This would be perfect for both young and old Star Wars fans, as I'm fairly certain these were created just as much for the adult fan as it was for the younger fan.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#bookmail, and what I'm #reading now! Alice by Christina Henry

A twisty, dark fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland? Well, if you insist.

A big thank you to Ace/Roc for sending this along!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss

 photo 0553524267.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsgtlmgxe9.jpgWhat Pet Should I Get?
by Dr. Seuss
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers, September 23, 2014
48 Pages • ISBN 978-0553524260 • Hardcover

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Book description:
This never-ever-before-seen picture book by Dr. Seuss about making up one’s mind is the literary equivalent of buried treasure! What happens when a brother and sister visit a pet store to pick a pet? Naturally, they can’t choose just one! The tale captures a classic childhood moment—choosing a pet—and uses it to illuminate a life lesson: that it is hard to make up your mind, but sometimes you just have to do it!

Told in Dr. Seuss’s signature rhyming style, this is a must-have for Seuss fans and book collectors, and a perfect choice for the holidays, birthdays, and happy occasions of all kinds.

An Editor’s Note at the end discusses Dr. Seuss’s pets, his creative process, and the discovery of the manuscript and illustrations for
What Pet Should I Get?

A "lost" Dr. Seuss tale that follows a brother and sister to the pet store, and the mounting decisions and uncertainties that come with trying to make up their minds about which new pet to bring home. It's your typical Seuss, a quick read with whimsical illustrations, but it's the included afterword that makes the book something special, especially for fans of Dr. Seuss: details about Seuss' own pets; his creative process behind writing his books; and the story behind the discovery of What Pet Should I Get?". Probably only for hardcore Seuss fans, but a fun little book all the same.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Book mail! The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

I'm really excited to be getting to this little treasure. And check out the chapter headers! I'm in love with everything about this book!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

 photo 0316176494.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps4hoxuwr6.jpgLife After Life
by Kate Atkinson
Published by Back Bay Books, January 7, 2014
560 Pages • ISBN 978-0316176491 • Paperback

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Book description:
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula's world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization -- if only she has the chance?

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

I'm going to be right up front here: I really didn't enjoy this book at all, and there are going to be spoilers galore in this review.

The idea behind Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is an intriguing one: Ursula Todd dies many, many times, yet her life resets itself each time with small, subtle changes which help her survive a little longer in each new life, until she gets her life right. However, we're never really told what the purpose of her life truly is. From the opening chapter where Ursula assassinates (doesn't assassinate?) Adolf Hitler, I assumed throughout the entire book that that was the purpose to Ursula's life, but it isn't. What Atkinson creates instead is a cyclical loop of a story where we watch Ursula die and then survive multiple times, through both World Wars, and then when it seems like she's gotten it all right, as she dies sitting peacefully in a park, the entire book STARTS AGAIN. I'm sorry (not sorry), but what kind of WTFery is this?! Hitler wasn't the point? Getting it all right wasn't the point? In fact, it seems that Ursula's life has no point whatsoever, just to go round and round and round, never ending and never changing? Thank you, but no thank you.

Now, you're probably asking yourselves, "David, why in the world did you finish the book if you disliked it so strongly?", and I would say that is a very good question. First off, I was honestly impressed with Atkinson's writing. There are some truly beautiful moments in the book, but there are also some ridiculously tedious sections to get through, and I won't lie, by page 350 or so, I was skimming huge swaths of text, as I was just having a terrible time caring about what was happening. More often than not, I just wanted to throw the book against a wall. Secondly, I was genuinely intrigued to see how Ursula's life was going to play out. I wanted to know what the point was to her life, and then to find out that there really wasn't a point to her life... well, I really felt like I had been cheated out of an ending for the book, and that pissed me off.

Personally, I think there is a great story in here that could have used a couple more strong editing sessions. If this had been about 200 pages or so less and far more condensed, I think this would have been just about perfect for me.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King, narrated by Tim Sample

 photo 1442389648.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsi1qzjuop.jpgDrunken Fireworks
by Stephen King, narrated by Tim Sample
Published by Audible, June 30, 2015
ASIN B00WN49GS8 • Audiobok

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Book description:
Only on audio! A brand-new, never-before-published Stephen King short story unavailable in any other format!

Alden McCausland and his mother are what they call "accident rich"; thanks to an unexpected life-insurance policy payout and a winning Big Maine Millions scratcher, Alden and his Ma are able to spend their summers down by Lake Abenaki, idly drinking their days away in a three-room cabin with an old dock and a lick of a beach.

Across the lake, they can see what "real rich" looks like: the Massimo family's Twelve Pines Camp, the big white mansion with guest house and tennis court that Alden's Ma says is paid for by "ill-gotten gains" courtesy of Massimo Construction. When Alden's holiday-weekend sparklers and firecrackers set off what over the next few years comes to be known as the 4th of July Arms Race, he learns how far he and the Massimos will go to win an annual neighborly rivalry - one that lands Alden in the Castle County jail.

Read by beloved Down East storyteller Tim Sample - praised by Stephen King for his "wit and talent and good-heartedness" -
Drunken Fireworks makes for explosive audio listening.

Sometimes, when King isn't trying to scare us to death, he can also be telling us some truly fantastic stories, and "Drunken Fireworks" is one of those stories. This is nothing more than two families across the lake from each other, with a rivaling fireworks problem, but the magic is in the telling of the story. This short will eventually appear in print in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, but I doubt it will hold up nearly as well; it's Tim Sample's narration that really makes this story shine. For King fans, this will be a nice, light-hearted break from some of his heavier offerings, and for non-fans, you can experience King doing what he does best: telling a damned fine story.

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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