ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.

2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bare with me as I still continue to recover.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

8. Lobo's Tale/Red's Tale by Christopher Kastensmidt and Jim C. Hines

#8

Photobucket

Title: Lobo's Tale/Red's Tale
Series: The Faery Taile Project, Book 1
Authors: Christopher Kastensmidt and Jim C. Hines
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 100
ISBN: 9780979088964
Publisher: CatsCurious Press
Author Website: www.jimchines.com
Twitter: @jimchines
Format: Paperback
Rating: 2/5 stars
Finished: 1-28-09

From Amazon:
Is it good to be bad? Or is it bad to be good? This snarky and fun retelling of the classic fairy tale 'Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf' will have you laughing out loud as you turn the pages. The stories are printed opposite one another so that when you finish reading one version of the story, you can turn the book upside down and read the other - each side has its own cover! This book is suitable for a YA audience, but will appeal to older readers as well. There are two sides to every story -- you deserve to read both!

Something of an interesting premise, The Faery Taile Project apparently wants to retell fairy tales in something of a witty fashion, and while part of this idea is good, I don't know that this is pulled off all that well. The first book in this series retells the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Told in two sections as a flip book, one half of the book is Lobo's Tale, or the Wolf's story, by Christopher Kastensmidt, and he casts the Wolf as a redneck moron. That's the best that I can come up with. The Wolf blunders through the story, obviously trying to do anything to get Red to pay attention to him, as he is totally smitten with her. The flip side of the book is Red's Tale, by Jim C. Hines. This story is fairly well told (in this story, Red works for the fairy tale mafia and uses the wolf's idiocy to her advantage and we see how the events in Lobo's Tale relate back and forth with her story), but I'm thinking that Kastensmidt wrote his part first, and Hines then had to mold his story to fit, so I think if left to his own devices, Hines could have crafted something really witty with this story, but did the best he could with the story he had to work with. Not something that would lead me to read any more of the books in the "series."

Monday, January 26, 2009

7. Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Scott M. Fischer

#7

Photobucket

Title: Peter Pan in Scarlet
Author: Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Scott M. Fischer
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 310
ISBN: 9781416918080
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Author Website: www.geraldinemccaughrean.co.uk/
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 1-26-09
Challenge: 75 Books 09

From Amazon:
The first-ever authorized sequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan!

In August 2004 the Special Trustees of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, who hold the copyright in Peter Pan, launched a worldwide search for a writer to create a sequel to J. M. Barrie's timeless masterpiece. Renowned and multi award-winning English author Geraldine McCaughrean won the honor to write this official sequel,
Peter Pan in Scarlet. Illustrated by Scott M. Fischer and set in the 1930s, Peter Pan in Scarlet takes readers flying back to Neverland in an adventure filled with tension, danger, and swashbuckling derring-do!

In 2004, the Great Ormond Street Hospital (holders of the rights to Peter Pan held an open-call for authors to submit a sample chapter and synopsis for a proposed sequel to Peter Pan, to be published in honor of the centennial of the story in 2006. Geraldine McCaughrean's Peter Pan in Scarlet became the authorized sequel to J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan. Picking up the story some years later (but seemingly ignoring the epilogue of the original), all the Darling children have become full-grown grown-ups now. However, they all discover that they have been having dreams of Neverland; dreams so real that they are bringing objects back with them from their dreaming (pistols, cutlasses, etc). Wendy decides that there must be something wrong in Neverland and they all decide to travel back to try to help Peter with whatever is ailing Neverland.

In order to return to Neverland, however, the Darling's must discover how to become children again. They borrow their children's clothing and pretend to be children again, which does the job. Upon arriving in Neverland, they discover that Peter is moodier than usual, and living alone in the Wendy House, which has become a tree house in the branches of the Nevertree, which hasn't been cut in years and has grown through the roof of the underground hideout. They decide that a quest is in order to brighten everyone's spirits and they set off in search of a dragon. While in search of a dragon, they discover that the Lagoon is littered with the skeletons of mermaids, and they find the skeleton of The Crocodile as well. Wendy also meets Ravello, a circusmaster, and his animals. While they are standing on the shores of the Lagoon, the Jolly Roger beaches itself in front of them, and Peter decides to rename it the Jolly Peter. He also discovers a chest in Hook's old rooms, which contains his second-best coat and a treasure map. Peter dons the coat and decides to search for the missing treasure.

What follows is at once a fun, romping adventure to parts previously unknown in Neverland and at the same time a story that seems to loose its way occasionaly. The final confrontation at the end of the story is very vague, to the point where I thought that my book was missing pages; I thought I had missed something in the reading. It becomes more a test of wills than anything else, and this struck me as being a little off for Peter Pan, who was never one to think things through as he was to simply do whatever came to mind, as any child would.

However, by the end of the book, I was completely wrapped up in the conclusion. I don't want to spoil any of it, but the ending left me feeling so buoyed, the frenetic jumping through the final confrontation was meaningless to me. I felt the story ended perfectly and that everyone got the happily-ever-after that they needed.

I was surprised by McCaughrean's storytelling. She didn't shy away from making appropriate occurrences in the story that helped it move along, whether or not those occurrences could be seen as "child friendly" (for instance, the holes that are being wripped into Neverland are a result of the Great War, which is also the reason for the fact that Michael Darling is missing from this story). She took the story as Barrie presented and moved it forward in such a way, that while the writing didn't always match, the story felt like it was a natural progression from what came before. Overall, an enjoyable read and worthy sequel to the story of the boy who won't grow up.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

6. The Meaning of Night: A Confession by Michael Cox

#6

Photobucket

Title: The Meaning of Night
Author: Michael Cox
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 608
ISBN: 9780393062038
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co
Twitter: @wwnorton
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 2/5 stars
Finished: 1-23-09
Challenge: 75 Books 09

From Amazon:
The atmosphere of Bleak House, the sensuous thrill of Perfume, and the mystery of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell all combine in a story of murder, deceit, love, and revenge in Victorian England.

"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." So begins the "enthralling" (Booklist, starred review) and "ingenious" (Boston Globe) story of Edward Glyver, booklover, scholar, and murderer. As a young boy, Glyver always believed he was destined for greatness. A chance discovery convinces him that he was right: greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence. Overwhelmed by his discovery, he will stop at nothing to win back a prize that he knows is rightfully his.

Glyver's path to reclaim his prize leads him from the depths of Victorian London, with its foggy streets, brothels, and opium dens, to Evenwood, one of England's most beautiful and enchanting country houses, and finally to a consuming love for the beautiful but enigmatic Emily Carteret. His is a story of betrayal and treachery, of death and delusion, of ruthless obsession and ambition. And at every turn, driving Glyver irresistibly onward, is his deadly rival: the poet-criminal Phoebus Rainsford Daunt.

The Meaning of Night is an enthralling novel that will captivate readers right up to its final thrilling revelation.

Don't judge this book by it's cover, as I picked it up simply on how great the cover looked. This is a very ambitious book, but one that could have benefited from some aggressive editing. Told from the first person perspective of Edward Glyver, a rather unreliable narrator, we follow the life history of Glyver in his pursuit of the murder of Phoebus Daunt, who, according to Glyver, is the reason for every problem that has befallen him in his life. The story opens with Glyver murdering a random passerby, just to make sure that he is capable of the act, in preparation for the murder of Daunt. A rather intriguing opening.

What follows, however, is an amazingly detailed and sprawling history of not only Glyver's life, but that of Daunt and any other character who plays any part of strength in the story. These histories eventually begin to drag out longer and longer until I found myself caring not at all about any character in the story. Glyver becomes nothing more than a whining and unsympathetic caracature of himself. Within chapters of the end of the book, I was simply listening to the book to get to the end. I even found myself having forgotten what the point of the story was, Glyver's compulsion to murder Daunt.

The book becomes so bogged down in its own story and history that it looses all aspects of mystery or tension. I'm glad that I listened to it on audiobook, as Glyver's self-pitying rambling becomes so tedious, that had I been reading the book, I would have given up on it long, long ago. The best part of the audiobook is the narrator, David Timson, who enriches the character to a palpable level.

I give the book 2.5 stars only because it is obvious that Cox researched the time period extensively, almost to a fault. I think if he had focused more on Glyver's hatred of Daunt instead of going into extensive detail on every aspect of Glyver's life that seems to have been wronged by Daunt, the book would have moved much quicker. I would like to read something else by Cox in the future, but if it is this involved of a book, I don't know that I could bring myself to actually trudge through it.

Amazon's Author Stores

I thought I'd pass this on as I found it rather interesting. Amazon has started a new subsection of their website called Author Stores, where you can get a bibliography and sometimes biography and more of your favorite authors. Apparently over the next couple of months they will continue to add information to the author's pages.

Anyway, I found it somewhat interesting so I thought I'd pass it on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Varmints by Helen Ward, Illustrated by Marc Craste

I'm not going to count this against my reading goal for the year as it is so small and I read it in the store.

Photobucket

Title: Varmints
Authors: Helen Ward, illustrated by Marc Craste
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 1-19-09

I happened to stumble on this on a small display on the backside of the help desk at one of my local bookstores and the cover caught my eye, so I thought I'd pick it up and thumb through it.

Helen Ward's Varmints is a cautionary tale about industrialization and the effects that it has on the world around us, and that that world needs to be protected and nurtured in order to survive. Basically it says, "Be careful of how many buildings you build, or you may destroy nature." Such stories seem to be a dime a dozen these days. What this book has that helps it stand above the others are the illustrations by Marc Craste. Craste's art is so ethereal and solid; light and dark; all at the same time that it is mesmerizing. I spent more time simply staring at the pages than I did reading the actual book. There's nothing special about this book, but I found I enjoyed it all the same.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hello, new books!

Remember this post from a couple weeks back?
I'm hoping I can scale back my book buying next year
Who was I kidding?


I picked up The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, as 2 friends separately recommended it to me within a day of each other, and then I found a copy on the used rack at one of my local stores, so I felt it was meant to be.



My friend K gave me a copy of King Arthur and the Knights of His Court, which is abridged from Malory's Morte D'Arthur by Alfred W. Pollard. It is one of the new Borders Classics editions, and I just love these editions. They are made to look like old, vintage clothbound books. If you've got a Borders nearby, you should check them out just to see how cool they look! So far I have Pride and Prejudice, The Jungle Books, The Raven and Other Stories, A Midsummer Nights Dream and other Comedies.

I picked up a copy of Melissa Hellstern's Getting Along Famously. It was an autographed copy at the Borders in Chicago.






The last 2 are ARCs that I received in the mail. The first came from Random House called Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum and the other is The Love Potion Murders in the Museum of Man by Alfred Alcorn, which came from LibraryThing as part of the their Early Reviewer program.

Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Photobucket

Title: The Stonekeeper: Amulet, Book 1
Series: Amulet
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9780439846813
Publisher: GRAPHIX
Author Website: www.boltcity.com
Twitter: @boltcity
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 1-18-09
Challenge: 75 Books 09

From Amazon:
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.

After Emily and Navin's father dies in a car accident, their mother moves them to their great-grandfather's house. Their great-grandfather was an inventor who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While the family is cleaning their new home, Emily discovers a hidden amulet and decides to put it on and keep it. Later that night, a creature kidnaps their mother, and the kids discover that the house is a portal to another world; another world where they discover their great-grandfather has been living for years. Their great-grandfather, who is near death, is attended to by his mechanical creations who are given to Emily on his death, along with the amulet, which appears to have magical powers and a personality all it's own.

A fun little story, Amulet, Book 1 is full of adventure (can the kids rescue their mom?), mystery (are the good guys really good and the bad guys really bad?) and intrigue (why does the amulet seem to have an agenda all it's own?). This was an extraordinarily quick read, but clever all the same. The characters are drawn rather simplistically, but the backgrounds are rendered beautifully. I'd like to see where this story goes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

4. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

#4

Photobucket

Title: The Return of the King
Series: The Lord of the Rings
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Copyright: 1955 (2001)
Pages: 440
ISBN: 9780618260584
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 1-14-09
Challenge: 75 Books 09

I really can't add anything to any discussion about The Lord of the Rings series that hasn't already probably been said twice before. Grand and epic in it's scope and telling, The Return of the King is the final book in the series. I'm always impressed by the story, but I can't help but always feel that the ending seemed a little too easy for everyone involved. Of course, the emotion that comes through in the story is just as strong as ever, but this latest reading left me wanting more from the ending; something a little more tangible in the evil forces that threaten Middle-Earth. Maybe I've read it one too many times now, but the enigmatic nature of Sauron just seemed a little, well, too enigmatic for me this time. Still, you can't deny that this is one fine piece of fantasy literature.

Take a Peek Inside Jonathan Barnes' The Domino Men




Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Salon 11 I 2009






Good morning, fellow Salon Members! Oh, it has been awhile, hasn't it? It seems the year end just flew right by me, and there didn't seem to be much time for anything! But it's a new year, and while I've already missed a couple of weeks, I'd like to try to get back into my routine, part of which is visiting around the Salons. I hope that everyone had a pleasant and happy holiday season and new year!

I've set myself for quite the reading challenge this year, and I've been a little slow going getting into it. So far, I've read 3 books this year, Castle Waiting by Linda Medley (which I received through LibraryThing's SantaThing program), Perfect...on Paper by Maria Murnane (I read this for a blog tour for Maria) and Peter Pan J. M. Barrie (read for my 9-9-9 Challenge in the Classics Category; hopefully today I'll be able to get around to writing my thoughts on it). I think I'm going to read Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean next, to keep in-theme with Peter Pan. After that, I have 2 more books that I need to read for reviews, and then there are yet 2 more coming in the mail! How I'll get through my 9-9-9 with all these review books coming, I'll never know...

Next weekend, I'm going to Chicago to visit C, so I think I'm going to take Devil in the White City by Erik Larson with me. Beyond that, I think I'm going to have my friend S come over and randomly grab something for me from my 9-9-9 selections.

It's a cold and snowy day here today, perfect for cozying up with a good book and a cuppa, so I think I'll be returning to Neverland very soon.

Happy reading, everyone!

3. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

#3

Photobucket

Title: Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie
Copyright: 1911 (2005)
Pages: 159
ISBN: 9781593082130
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Classics
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 1-11-09
Challenge: 75 Books 09

This was my first reading of J. M. Barrie's classic tale of the boy who would never grow up, Peter Pan. I'm pretty sure everyone is familiar with the story of Peter Pan, so I'll just highlight my thoughts about the book. Having always been steeped in the Disney version of the story, I was a little surprised by the darker and more violent elements of the original story, but found that they added an element to the story that really illustrates how much of a child Peter Pan truly is. I found myself becoming increasingly irritated with his actions, and those are truly of a child who has lived his whole life by his own rules and without the guidance of parental supervision. Peter is selfish, arrogant, unconcerned for the safety of others and wholly immature, yet innocent in every way. I also found Tinker Bell so much more amusing this time around. Overall, it was a fun read and didn't leave me disappointed at all.

I found the book interesting enough that I'd like to read Peter Pan in Kensington Park, Barrie's original story of Peter's childhood from his book, The Little White Bird.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Interview with Penelope Przekop

Not directly book related, but I wanted to post this here all the same.

Penelope Przekop runs a blog called Aberration Nation. In her own words, her blog "is not about world peace, going green, or gay pride. It's not about healing all the ills that exist in our growing culture of materialism and instant gratification. It's about individual self-reflection and optimism. It's making lemonade out of lemons and smiling through our tears, knowing tears are part of package, and that tomorrow is a new day filled with opportunity and greater wisdom." What she's doing there is a really great thing. She takes people's aberrations, or the things that they perceive or that others perceive as being different or wrong, and cast them in a new light, showing how we can grow and take something positive away from these "aberrations."

She is also the author of the book, Aberrations. It was one of my Top 10 books read for 2008. Give it a read sometime, you won't be disappointed.

Penelope recently asked to interview me about what it is like for me being gay. To most people reading my blog, you already know me and this won't come as a surprise to you. To some it might. It is part of who I am; it's not a defining factor, but just a part. I'm honored that Penelope wanted to interview me, and I'd like everyone to stop by her blog, not just for my interview, but to read what she is doing there. If there were more people like her around who wanted to take the time to show that our differences can really be our strengths, I'd think that there would a lot less discord. Thanks, Penelope!

2. Perfect... on Paper by Maria Murnane

Part of Maria Murnane's Blog Tour

I received a copy of Maria Murnane's Perfect... on Paper as part of her blog tour during the month of January. This was just a plain fun book that didn't try to be more than what it is. My full review is after some info about Maria and her book.











 

Bio:

Maria is currently an independent business writer and works mostly with technology and financial services companies, but like the main character in her book, she did spend a few years in sports PR. One day she quit her job and ended up in Argentina for a year, where she played semi-pro soccer and also wrote the first draft of what would eventually become Perfect on Paper. She has dedicated the book to any woman who has ever been on a really bad date or realized halfway through the workday that her skirt is on backwards.

Maria graduated with high honors in English and Spanish from UC Berkeley and received a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She lives in San Francisco and can be reached at maria@mariamurnane.com. To learn more about her business writing services, click here.

About the book:

Anything can look perfect…on paper
When her fiancé calls off their wedding at the last minute, Waverly Bryson wonders if her life will ever turn out the way she thought it would…or should. Her high-powered job in sports PR? Not so perfect. Her relationship with her dad? Far from it. Her perfect marriage? Enough said.
Perfect on Paper is a humorous tale of Waverly’s efforts to cobble the pieces of a broken yesterday into a brand new tomorrow. What does the future have in store for her? Will she finally find what she’s looking for?
Her dates? Cringe-inducing at times, definitely entertaining
Her friends? Often amused, definitely supportive
Her new crush? Possibly intrigued, definitely a catch
The results? Hardly perfect, definitely just right


#2

Photobucket

Title: Perfect... on Paper
Author: Maria Murnane
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780982555040
Publisher: AmazonEncore
Author Website: mariamurnane.com
Twitter: @mariamurnane
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 1-8-09
Challenge: 75 Books 10

From Amazon:
Anything can look perfect on paper. When her fiancé calls off their wedding at the last minute, Waverly Bryson wonders if her life will ever turn out the way she thought it would...or should. Her high-powered job in sports PR? Not so perfect. Her relationship with her dad? Far from it. Her perfect marriage? Enough said. To keep sane, Waverly makes a habit of jotting down "Honey Notes," her own brand of self-deprecating wisdom and a pipe-dream for a line of greeting cards.

As Waverly stumbles back into the dating scene (no stalkers or jean shorts, please), her personal and professional lives threaten to collide.
Perfect on Paper reminds us that everyone has a bad date (or twelve), and that everyone eventually needs a best friend to tell them, “Honey, you are not alone.”

OK, I have to admit, even for a guy, I really enjoyed Perfect... on Paper, Maria Murnane's novel of the trials and tribulations of Waverly Bryson, who, in her late 20s, is dumped by her fiancee just weeks before their wedding. What follows is a funny, witty portrait of a modern day woman trying to get back on her feet and in the dating game after such a devastating event in her life.

What I liked best about Perfect... on Paper is that it didn't try to be more than what it is; a light, fluffy book that is all about being brain candy. You don't have to think too much about it (most of the plot is fairly predictable) and the characters don't try to be too deep. I could actually relate to quite a few of the scenes, as I can remember similar situations with my own friends.

It did seem like Murnane couldn't decide exactly what direction she wanted to take the book. It was a little part romantic comedy, a little part family dramedy, a little part office dramedy, but when it all came together, it worked fairly well. The only thing that I would have changed about the book was the length; and I don't even know what I would remove. It just seemed that by 2/3 of the way through, I had a fairly good idea of how things were going to play out and I was just waiting for the ending to come and for Waverly to get her Mr. Right. I'm not saying it was bad, it just seemed a little too played out by the end.

Really, Perfect... on Paper is a satisfying read that really doesn't try to be pretentious or overbearing. It is what it is; just a fun, quick read.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

1001 Books Updated?

Ugh.

I just discovered that the 1001 Book list has been updated to include more recent books. Which means that some of the books on the list have been removed. Which means that the number of books that I have read from the list has dropped from 30 to 26.

**le sigh**

While I was embarrassed to have read so few books from this list, it's even more discouraging to watch my numbers go down!!

Also, 2 of the books that I had in my 1001 category for my 9-9-9 Challenge have been removed, so I need to go find 2 more now to take their place.

Mr. Boxall needs to learn to leave his list alone!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

1. Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

First book of the year! From my LTST.

#1

Photobucket

Title: Castle Waiting
Author: Linda Medley
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 456
ISBN: 9781560977476
Publisher: Fantagraphic Books
Twitter: @fantagraphics
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 1-1-09
Challenge: 75 Books 09
Awards: 2007 Eisner Award nominee: Best Graphic Album — Reprint, Best Publication Design (Adam Grano); 2007 Harvey Award nominee: Best Graphic Album — Previously Published; Official Selection, 2008 Festival International de la Bande Desinée de Angoulême (French edition); "20 Essential Albums for Summer 2008," l’Association des Critiques de Bandes Dessinées (French edition); Finalist, Prix de la Critique 2008, l’Association des Critiques de Bandes Dessinées (French edition)


From Amazon:
The multiple Harvey and Eisner award-winning fantasy is now collected in one volume! A fable for modern times, Castle Waiting is a fairy tale that's not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. The 456-page Castle Waiting graphic novel tells the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, Castle Waiting is a fairy tale that's not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. The opening story, "The Brambly Hedge," tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on "Sleeping Beauty" when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun.

For the first time, Fantagraphics'
Castle Waiting collects the first volume of the Harvey and Eisner Award-winning* comic book series into one hearty hardcover. Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources—fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes—Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature. Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

What a fantastic tale. While nothing major happens in this story, Castle Waiting leaves you completely fulfilled with its characters and charm. While some of the stories may seem a little familiar, the complete package is a refreshing tale that is composed of several stories connected inside the story, as we learn a little of each character through either their actions at Castle Waiting, or the stories that they tell. The whole thing feels very much like The Canterbury Tales.

The current residents of Castle Waiting are just that; they are waiting. Waiting for a new king to take residence in the castle after the last king was killed while trying to protect his daughter from a fate curiously similar to that of Sleeping Beauty. In the meantime, while they are waiting, they take in any stranger who is seeking refuge there, where we meet Lady Jain, who has a secret all her own about her unborn child. (The story leaves several mysteries unsolved, that I hope will be revealed in later editions.) We also meet Prudence, Patience and Plenty, the last remaining original inhabitants of the castle, the metalsmith Iron Henry, castle steward Rackham Adjutant, castle cook Dinah Lucina and her son Simon, the mysterious Dr. Fell, Sister Peace of the Solicitines and Chess, the castle knight. Together they create a hodgepodge of a family that comes together and takes care of their own. It's a great story of diversity and how that diversity can bring people together under then most mundane or special ways.

Linda Medley's story left me laughing in several places, and her art is fresh and unencumbered. I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel!