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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today's literary birthdays

It's elementary that we would be celebrating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday (1859) today, author of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Penguin Books goes (RED)!

The latest company to join forces with Project(RED) is Penguin Books, with a selection of titles released in a special (RED)edition. You can save lives while reading! How cool is that?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Making of a Book Cover: BLAMELESS, by Gail Carriger

39. A Boy Born from Mold and other Delectable Morsels by Lorin Morgan Richards



Title: A Boy Born from Mold and other Delectable Morsels
Authors: Lorin Morgan Richards
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 75
ISBN: 9780615359649
Publisher: A Raven Above Press
Format: Handmade Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 5-16-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10

From Amazon:
A Boy Born from Mold and Other Delectable Morsels uncovers seven delightfully bleak stories, beginning with Ruin (or Rune proper), who through extraordinary circumstances comes to moldy life in an old battered quilt left in the corner of a basement. Readers should also examine other characters like Zoog, a young vampire, whose intolerance to blood causes bouts of gas and bloating, much to his parents' distaste. 17 Illustrations, 75 pages. Each pocket sized book is entirely handmade by the author! Hardbound using cotton based faux leather and blue acid free linen paper. Signed and limited to a life of 400 being made.

I was quite delighted to find in my mailbox the other day another beautiful edition from Lorin Morgan Richards, author of Simon Snootle and OTHER small stories, which I received last year for review. Again, fans of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton will love these seven short tales. I also believe that Morgan Richards has really developed his storytelling technique with this volume, as the stories seem to have a little bit more heart and soul than his previous volume. I think my favorite would be the title story, "A Boy Born from Mold." It may sound a little bizarre (which it is, but that's rather the point), but it also tells a story of discovering your family and becoming who you are.

As with Simon Snootle, this volume is 100% handmade by the author; it is a beautiful presentation. With each volume being handmade there is a certain amount of imperfection to each one, but it fits so well with the tone of the book itself that the entire package, story and all, becomes a unique whole.

Recommended for fans of Burton and Gorey and anyone who appreciates a true work of art from an artist who obviously loves his work.

38. Psycho by Robert Bloch



Title: Psycho
Author: Robert Bloch
Copyright: 1959
Pages: 175
ISBN: 9781590203354
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 5-16-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, TIOLI (May - 1 word title), 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)

From Amazon:
Robert Bloch's Psycho captivated a nation when it appeared in 1959. The story was all too real - indeed this classic was inspired by the real-life story of Ed Gein, a psychotic murderer who led a dual life. Alfred Hitchcock too was captivated, and turned the book into one of the most-loved classic films of all time the year after it was released.

Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can't help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife.

I'm not really go to go into the story of Psycho, as I'm sure most everyone is at least marginally familiar with the story. What I will say, though, is that I was wishing while I read the book, that I didn't know what was going to happen. Robert Bloch's story is so creepy and his characterization of Norman Bates so unnerving, that I could only imagine how disturbing this book probably was to read originally before Alfred Hitchcock made it into a film. Then finding out that it was partially based on a true story (Bloch used Ed Gein as his inspiration) made it that much more unsettling.

The film Psycho is one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, and I have never read the book before. My local bookstore is having a screening of the film for it's 50th anniversary and then a discussion about the book and film afterward, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give it a read. I'm impressed with how faithful Hitchcock remained to the book, but I found myself enjoying the book so much more than the movie, as Bloch really goes into detail with what is going on in Bates' head, detail that wouldn't really translate well onto the big screen. And really, getting into Bates' head just shows just how bizarre his relationship with his mother really is, something that just didn't make it into the movie. I didn't realize that I was missing these details until I've read the book, but now that I have, the movie may or may not hold up as well.

Guardedly recommended if you are a fan of the movie, but read with caution if you're unsettled easily. It isn't overly graphic, but little is left to the imagination.

37. The Stuff of Legend, Book 1: The Dark by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III



Title: The Stuff of Legend, Book 1: The Dark
Related Series: The Stuff of Legend
Authors: Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9780345521002
Publisher: Villard Books
Studio Website:
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5 star
Finished: 5-15-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
The year is 1944. As Allied forces fight the enemy on Europe’s war-torn beaches, another battle begins in a child’s bedroom in Brooklyn. When the nightmarish Boogeyman snatches a boy and takes him to the realm of the Dark, the child’s playthings, led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel, band together to stage a daring rescue. On their perilous mission they will confront the boy’s bitter and forgotten toys, as well as betrayal in their own ranks. Can they save the boy from the forces of evil, or will they all perish in the process? The Stuff of Legend is a haunting and ultimately redemptive tale of loyalty, camaraderie, and perseverance.

What a fantastic find this was! Sarah, Brad and I were out having our usual Friday night, and we stopped at one of our local bookstores, and there, sitting on the shelf in the graphic novel section, was The Stuff of Legend, and one look at the cover told me this was something I needed to take home, and I'm not sorry at all that I bought it.

The writers waste no time in getting into the story, as the boy (who I think remained nameless throughout the book) is kidnapped by the Boogeyman within the first 4 pages of the story. Eight of his toys decide to rescue him, as they feel this is their duty to him. The boy's dog, Scout, accompanies them into the Dark, where the toys undergo an amazing transformation, becoming the real, "living" counterparts to their toy selves (for instance, the boy's teddy bear Max because a fierce grizzly bear). The toys are victorious against the Boogeyman's army in their first battle, but suffer a grave loss afterward in the form of a possible traitor in their midst.

The story does move along a little quickly, but it doesn't detract from the actual storytelling at all. There is real emotion in this book. It is a dark tale, but ultimately one that has a redemptive value that I think is rarely seen in this type of story. The only unfortunate aspect of the story is that it is being published in periodical form (this is a collected edition of the first two issues of the comic books), so there is going to be some wait until the next edition is released.

The art is beautiful as well, rendered in duotone pencil illustrations and presented to look like the pages of an old scrapbook or photo album. the transformation of the toys into their new selves is impressive, and I loved how the Boogeyman is drawn. He's both beautiful and horrible, all at the same time. It is simply an overall gorgeous presentation, and I am quite delighted that I stumbled on this in the bookstore. Now, just to wait for the next volume to be released so we can find out what happens next!

Highly recommended.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

36. Goodnight Opus by Berkeley Breathed



Title: Goodnight Opus
Author: Berkeley Breathed
Copyright: 1993
Pages: 32
ISBN: 9780316105996
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Author Website:
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 5-14-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10

From Amazon:
Opus loves listening to Grandma read his favorite bedtime story, but, one night, Opus decides to finish the story his own way, departing from the text in an exciting quest for adventure.

I adore this book! Both charming and mesmerizing, Berkeley Breathed has created an endearing bedtime story for his greatest creation, Opus. Even at 35 years old, I can still sit down on any given night, and take 10 minutes out of my evening to be swept away to the marvelous Milky Way and remind myself that sometimes, it is perfectly normal and quite a bit of fun to depart from the text, even if just for awhile.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Today's literary birthdays

Today we celebrate L. Frank Baum's birthday (1856), who is the author of one my favorite books, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Wonders of WondLa

This sounds like it is going to be my kind of book. Can't wait for it to be released!

The Wonders of WondLa

Sunday, May 9, 2010

35. Tinkers by Paul Harding



Title: Tinkers
Author: Paul Harding
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 192 (only read 70)
ISBN: 9781934137123
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Format: Paperback
Rating: -/5 stars
Finished: 5-9-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, TIOLI

From Amazon:
An old man lies dying. As time collapses into memory, he travels deep into his past where he is reunited with his father and relives the wonder and pain of his impoverished New England youth. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.

Paul Harding has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches creative writing at Harvard. He lives in Georgetown, Massachusetts.

I thought I'd try reading Paul Harding's Tinkers for May's TIOLI challenge (read a book with a 1 word title) and also because it just won the Pulitzer Prize, and I thought I'd try expanding my reading a little, as I've been mostly focusing on Fantasy and graphic novels lately.

George is dieing and the book opens eight days before his death, as he begins to hallucinate about his house falling about around him and onto him. He is beginning to see his life flash before his eyes, but as disjointed memories and thoughts that keep coming to him. The story also seems to run concurrently following the early life of George's father, Howard, as we learn about his experiences selling goods to the country people from his traveling wagon. At some point, George begins to think of his father and how he would like to have another chance to get to know him a little better. At least, I think that's where the story was going.

Unfortunately, all I can say is that I just don't think this is the right time for me to be reading this book. It's beautifully written and the imagery is gorgeous, but I simply can't get into the stream of consciousness writing. I read one complete chapter (70 pages, a little longer than my usual Rule of 50, but I was really trying to get into this book) and at the end of that chapter I really had not much of an idea of where the story was either going from or going to. I'd like to try to revisit this book some day, but I just think at this time of my life, it may prove to be a little too deep for me.

Either that, or it just isn't a very well written book after all, but I'm trying to keep an open mind about it because it did win the Pulitzer for a reason.

Friday, May 7, 2010

34. Road to War of Kings by Christopher Yost, et al.

Nothing like feeding the inner-geek when I'm feeling down.



Title: Road to War of Kings
Related Series: War of Kings
Authors: Christopher Yost, et al.
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9780785139676
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 5-6-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
The X-Men have been defeated. Havok, Polaris, and the Starjammers are being held and tortured in the most secure prison in the universe. Marvel Girl, Korvus, and Lilandra are being hunted by the Imperial Guard. Vulcan is Emperor of the Shi'Ar Empire and his expansion has begun. No King will stand when Vulcan and his armies are done. Join Christopher Yost (X-Force) and Dustin Weaver (Star Wars: KOTR) as they spin the story of a fight against insurmountable odds. Plus, The Secret Invasion may be over, but the Inhumans are still reeling from the terrible wounds inflicted on them by the Skrulls. And this time, the Royal Family and their massively powered people have been pushed too far! You have never seen the Inhumans like this - and it's only the beginning! Collects X-Men: Kingbreaker #1-4, Secret Invasion: War of Kings, and War of Kings Saga.

Not much to say about this other than it bridges the story from where it left off as a mostly X-Men related story to a much more broad storyline that ties into several of Marvel's cosmic titles.

Recommended only if you're interested in these titles and have been keeping up with the Marvel storylines that are leading into War of Kings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Today's literary birthdays

Today, we celebrate the birthday of one of the most amazing authors that I've ever read, May Sarton (1912).