Monday, October 6, 2014

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

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Title: Not My Father's Son: A Memoir
Author: Alan Cumming
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780062225061
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Twitter: @Alancumming, @deystreet
Format: Arc provided from publisher for honest review
Available: October 7, 2014
Rating: 4/5 stars

Product description:
In his unique and engaging voice, the acclaimed actor of stage and screen shares the emotional story of his complicated relationship with his father and the deeply buried family secrets that shaped his life and career.

A beloved star of stage, television, and film—“one of the most fun people in show business” (Time magazine)—Alan Cumming is a successful artist whose diversity and fearlessness is unparalleled. His success masks a painful childhood growing up under the heavy rule of an emotionally and physically abusive father—a relationship that tormented him long into adulthood.

When television producers in the UK approached him to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, Alan enthusiastically agreed. He hoped the show would solve a family mystery involving his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East. But as the truth of his family ancestors revealed itself, Alan learned far more than he bargained for about himself, his past, and his own father.

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as a film, television, and theater star. At times suspenseful, deeply moving, and wickedly funny, Not My Father’s Son will make readers laugh even as it breaks their hearts.

Not My Father's Son is a touching, funny, and sometimes disturbing memoir from Alan Cumming. He makes no qualms about the abuse his father inflicted upon him as a child. What he didn't discover until much later in his life, due to a series of events in his life that read almost like a soap opera, is why his father abused him so much. The events that Cumming describes almost seem too bizarre to be taken seriously, and if this were a work of fiction, I'd have doubts as to the level of disbelief the author expects me to suspend. However, these events did happen, and for all the grief and upset that Cumming describes in his memoir, he finally emerges as a healthier and happier person.

The memoir isn't always easy to read, especially if you have trouble reading about child abuse, as Cumming suffered from his fair share. However, he balances these events with witty and downright funny episodes from his life. There's nothing special here, other than an honest look into Alan Cumming's life and the how the man he is today was created.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

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Title: The Supernatural Enhancements
Author: Edgar Cantero
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780385538152
Publisher: Doubleday
Twitter: @doubledaypub, @punkahoy
Format: Hardcover
Available: August 12, 2014
Rating: 5/5 stars

Product description:
A mesmerizing novel...what begins as a gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt in The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero's wholly original, modern-day adventure.

When twentysomething A., the European relative of the Wells family, inherits a beautiful, yet eerie, estate set deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never knew he had a "second cousin, twice removed" in America, much less that his eccentric relative had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .

Together with A.’s companion, Niamh, a mute teenage punk girl from Ireland, they arrive in Virginia and quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and an opulent lifestyle. Axton House is haunted... they know it...but the presence of a ghost is just the first of a series of disturbing secrets they slowly uncover. What led to the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze – and what does the basement vault keep? Even more troubling, what of the rumors in town about a mysterious yearly gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice?

Told vividly through a series of journal entries, cryptic ciphers, recovered security footage, and letters to a distant Aunt Liza, Edgar Cantero has written an absorbing, kinetic and highly original supernatural adventure with classic horror elements that introduces readers to a deviously sly and powerful new voice.

I'm having a difficult time describing how much I enjoyed this book. When I'd read The Girl with All the Gifts, I didn't really think I was going to be reading another book this year that I enjoyed as much. The Supernatural Enhancements has a little bit of everything I love in a great book: slightly paranormal/supernatural premise, a mystery, Gothic in feeling & tone, intriguing characters, perfect pacing, even an eccentric aunt!

I honestly can't go into detail in saying anything about the book without giving much away. The story follows A. (the only name he goes by), who has inherited an estate from an unknown, wealthy relative, he and his mute friend, Niamh, travel to the States to take up residence and try to figure out why he was bequeathed the estate. Told through a series of diary entries, letters, transcripts of video and audio footage, and various other sources (which put me in mind of Marisha Pessl's Night Film, we follow A. and Niamh as they discover more and more clues related to the mysterious history of both his unknown relative, Ambrose Wells, and the estate of Axton House.

I absolutely can't recommend this book enough. This will be the perfect book to curl up on the couch with a hot cuppa and read during the windy, chilled months leading up to winter. Happy reading!

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dan Mishkin and Jerzy Drozd discuss their graphic documentary, The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation into the Kennedy Assassination

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Dan Mishkin (l) and Jerzy Drozd (r) discuss the different ways they presented multiple points of view.

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Dan Mishkin & Jerzy Drozd stopped by Schuler Books this evening to promote the release of their new book, The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation into the Kennedy Assassination. I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion. These guys clearly did their research when preparing the book. They discussed their storytelling process, how they were able to show multiple points of view from different parties and their various and differing recollections of the assassination. They are also able to tell the story in past tense, present-past tense, and present tense, and while it sounds confusing as hell, it actually works seamlessly. I found the entire talk fascinating. I would definitely like to see more collaborations of this sort between these guys.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Peter S. Beagle - need I say more?

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Peter S. Beagle is currently on tour promoting a newly remastered edition of the animated classic based on his noel, The Last Unicorn. Same friends and I were lucky enough to be able to get tickets to his stop in Chicago at the Music Box Theater. Peter was generous enough to sign every single book that we brought to the signing, and took time out to talk to every single person in line. He even recited Dr. Seuss' "Too Many Daves" while he was signing my books! It was a magical evening. He's scheduled to be in Michigan in 2016, and you can believe I'll be there again to see him!

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Peter Beagle signing my books!

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Peter Beagle during the Q&A

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

WTF, Evolution?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design by Mara Grunbaum

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Title: WTF, Evolution?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design
Author: Mara Grunbaum
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9780761180340
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Author Website:
Twitter: @maragrunbaum, @wtf_evolution, @WorkmanPub
Format: Paperback (received an advance copy in exchange for a fair review)
Available: October 7, 2014
Rating: 4/5 stars

Product description:
We all have our off days. Why should Evolution be any different? Maybe Evolution got carried away with an idea that was just a little too crazy—like having the Regal Horned Lizard defend itself by shooting three-foot streams of blood from its eyes. Or maybe Evolution ran out of steam (Memo to Evolution: The Irrawaddy Dolphin looks like a prototype that should have been left on the drawing board). Or maybe Evolution was feeling cheeky—a fish with hands? Joke’s on you, Red Handfish! Or maybe Evolution simply goofed up: How else to explain the overgrown teeth of the babirusas that curl backward over their face? Oops.

Mara Grunbaum is a very smart, very funny science writer who celebrates the best—or, really, the worst—of Evolution’s blunders. Here are more than 100 outlandish mammals, reptiles, insects, fish, birds, and other creatures whose very existence leaves us shaking our heads and muttering WTF?! Ms. Grunbaum’s especially brilliant stroke is to personify Evolution as a well-meaning but somewhat oblivious experimenter whose conversations with a skeptical narrator are hilarious.

For almost 4 billion years, Evolution has produced a nonstop parade of inflatable noses, bizarre genitalia, and seriously awkward necks. What a comedian!

This is a clever and funny collection of photographs of some of Nature's more obscure and bizarre creatures of all shapes and sizes, presented as a collection of photographs with accompanying dialogue between an unnamed narrator and Evolution. Evolution, often excited and anxious to show off it's newest creations, is often questioned, much to the reader's delight, by the narrator who is trying to figure out what exactly Evolution had in mind. Separated into chapters such as "Awkward Solutions" and "Half-Assed Attempts", we are presented with a wide array of creatures that does make one wonder what exactly was going on in the evolutionary process.

One of the reasons I enjoyed this book as much as I did is that I was introduced to a variety of animals that I had never heard of before, and while they are presented in a comedic fashion, I found myself researching a little more about them, beyond the humorous information presented in the book. One such creature is the whitemargin stargazer, a fish found in the Indopacific oceans, which I think looks like something that actually belongs Beyond the Wall.

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Mara Grunbaum has done a great job of presenting some of nature's more unique specimens, disguising some very interesting information about them is a humorous format that is both comical and informative. Check out her tumblr at for even more of Evolution's craziness.

WTF, Evolution?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design by Mara Grunbaum will be available on October 7, 2014, from Workman Publishing Company.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Paige Rawl discusses her debut memoir, Positive: A Memoir

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Paige Rawl stopped by Schuler Books earlier this evening to promote the release of her new book, Positive: A Memoir. I was so impressed by this young girl's courage and all that she has overcome in her life living with HIV.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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Title: A Game of Thrones
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1
Author: George R. R. Martin
Narrator: Roy Dotrice
Copyright: 1996
Pages: 831
ISBN: 9780553573404
Publisher: Bantam
Available: January 1, 1996
Rating: 5/5 stars

Not much more I can add to the discussion on this book. I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to it, and am looking forward to listening to the rest in the series.

From what I remember watching the first season of the HBO series, they followed along with the book fairly faithfully. Nothing jumped out as a radical change, so if you're wanting to get into the series through either the books or the show but don't want to commit to the books, I think watching the show will give you the same story in a slightly condensed version.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Monday, August 18, 2014

a little c

Hi kids.

Sorry I've been MIA for a while now, but I've had a lot going on lately. After numerous months of testing, last Wednesday I was diagnosed with Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma, stage 4. It sounds scary, but in the grand scheme of cancers, it's not considered a Big C, just a little c (according to my oncologist). I'm starting chemo this Wednesday or Thursday, which should go on for about 4 1/2 months, and then my oncologist is convinced that I'll be just fine and it will be totally manageable and I'll probably not have to worry about it anymore. Fingers crossed, right?

I've been reading, but it's been sporadic, and I've slept most weekends away, so there hasn't been a lot of online time right now, so I hope everyone is doing well and reading lots of fabulous books! I'll stop in when I can and leave some updates.

Happy reading, everybody!