11.14.2010

The books are piling up...but I'm getting there.

I never did get to that second WFC blog post, did I? Well, life rolls on. And I just returned from Barnes & Noble, in Bayside, where I was picking up some gifts and a few things for myself, of course.

That, and a few books that have come in the mail, and once again, I'm way behind on my reading. Here is what's on the immediate agenda for this reader.


First off I should mention that I'm reading, at the recommendation of my sister, who has taken on a role of a fantasy reader (a new love in addition to her thriller and horror roots), the Jim Butcher Codex Alera series. I purchased on my android phone using the B&N Nook app, and am almost done with book one, The Furies of Calderon. Good pacing, interesting magic system, and a world that is just starting to take shape for me.


And today's B&N purchase included British fantasy author, Joe Abercrombie, and his novel, The Blade Itself, which I've been meaning to pick up since I met the guy at NY Comic Con back in October. Well, I finally have copy in hand and am ready to take plunge. Additional details to come. There are only so many times you can hear from your friends, "Oh, Jay, you'd really like this guy, his stuff is right up your alley."

Next is an interesting near-future, sf thriller I was sent by UK author, John Trevillian, The A-Men. John had sent me a nice email as he saw my blog, and I mentioned I'd check out the book -- and at least mention it here -- so more on this is to come. This series by Trevillian looks promising and I look forward to digging in.

In my attempts to keep literary, I've read so much about Roberto Bolano's 2666, that I finally had to pick up the trade paperback so that I can read and share reading with my wife. When Mediabistro.com's ebooknewster blog put it up as their "free book of the day" and then immediately took it down, I had read a sample then felt obligated to purchase a copy out of respect for the deceased author (currently no digital version of the book is available). Also I was hooked once I started this mammoth and beautifully written novel. I will continue in print and report back much later when I finish it.

Alright, I've sort of updated you all on what I'm reading, and in addition to that I'm editing a wonderful World War II narrative non-fiction book, which I think is going to be really terrific, but that's all I can say about that right now. Stay tuned.

11.01.2010

My World Fantasy Con weekend, part I report

Well, I'm back from World Fantasy Con in Columbus, Ohio. I was bummed to miss last year's show in California, but glad to be back. Since I work full-time now, and have a child, getting to conventions is harder than ever, but this one is near and dear to my heart and I'm glad I made it back, to socialize with friends, fantasy publishing industry veterans, and new friends alike.

Being surrounded by so many passionate people left me inspired to find more related freelance editing work, and it also left me with something else... an updated pile of books and authors I have to read. Uh, it also left me severely dehydrated from all the time spent at the bar, but that is where most of the hanging out happens.

I did participate in my first WFC panel, The Art of the Mashup (along with veteran editors Jeff Connor and Jim Frenkel). It was fun to discuss the likes and dislikes, definitions and variations of this popular trend in publishing. Being one of the first panels of the convention, I was pleased with the turnout, the large room filled as people arrived for the weekend. Thanks to the WFC programming staff for letting me be a part of it!


Over the weekend I got a chance to see some folks I hadn't seen since the WFC in Calgary in 2008, like Tim Akers who I was pleased to hear his newest book comes out tomorrow, The Horns of Ruin (which I plan to pick up at lunch on the morrow). I did some copyediting work for Tim's first novel (Heart of Veridon) and am excited for this new series from Pyr.

I also got to meet the proprietors of Subterranean Press, makers of wonderful limited edition hardcovers, novellas, and other interesting projects (it was nice meeting you Bill & Tim). My friend, Peter V. Brett's novella, Brayan's Gold, comes out in limited edition printing in a few months. It's a wonderful new story set in the world of The Warded Man and The Desert Spear. I've read this book, it is great fun, an exciting adventure, and I think fantasy fans everywhere will enjoy it. I should note the beautiful cover was done by illustrator, Lauren K. Cannon. It was great to see her at the con as well.

There was lots more from the weekend, new people I met, other author's I'm excited to read about, and some bloggers worth linking to. I hope to cover the rest of it in a second blog post soon. Stay tuned. But I'll tell you, I have a lot of reading to do.

Congrats to all the winners of the World Fantasy Awards! i09 has the list of winners: here.

10.17.2010

Lazy Sunday morning blogging

I know Sunday morning isn't exactly a hotbed of blogging activity. But I am up, just fed little James, and he's playing while I check the Times book review section, and assorted other sites to see what's going on this early Sunday.

Rec'd a copy of The Dark End of the Street yesterday from the good folks at Bloomsbury. I think I received this as part of LibraryThing.com's Early Reader program, so I'll be sure to post my review on there as well as on here. I only just read the Introduction by mystery veteran S.J. Rozan, and will work my way through these noir stories of sex, crime, and, well, whatever else is in there.  


I'm also about half way through The Bloodstained Man, the Heavy Metal Pulp book I mentioned last time. It's fun so far, I hope to have a full report once I finish it.


Just a quick note, enjoy the day.




10.13.2010

Reporting in, Sir...

Let's see what I've been up to since we last spoke. Well, first I broke down and bought the the 3rd volume of The Walking Dead. Amazing, I'm even more psyched for the AMC television series if it is possible. Trying to control myself, and borrow someone's copies of volume 4 on, but I might not last. I need to have it. 


I also picked up Stieg Larsson's book one of the Millennium trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Not always one to read what everyone else is reading, I felt I needed to know what the fuss was all about. I was surprised at how dark the book was, I wasn't expecting that. I can admit it when I'm impressed, and I was sucked into the story. I feel the saddest part is that the poor author died soon after submitting all 3 books. I will be picking up the rest of the series at some point.

I hear The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is very good, I may pick up a copy of that soon. Also, a friend gave me a copy of The Bloodstained Man ARC (advanced reading copy) from Tor books, part of their new Heavy Metal Pulp line of novels. I think it's a cool idea, and even the ARC has rough sketches and panel artwork to compliment the text. Nice. I'll report back on that.


At this past weekend's NY Comic Con, I picked up a few more books. First I got to meet the co-writing team behind  Havemercy, which Ballantine Books was giving out copies of the mass market paperback edition. I had read this fantasy novel in manuscript form a few years back, and I was happy to see Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett carrying on with the series (since then, Shadow Magic the 2nd in their series published in 2009 and a third in the series, Dragon Soul was released in June of 2010). They were super nice and it was great to meet them.
 

At the Tor Books booth, I picked up a copy of Dan Wells' I am Not a Serial Killer. This dark thriller looks like an exciting read, and I'm looking forward to getting right into it. Soon. Patience, young Jedi.

Also, even at Comic Con, I find a military history author, whose name I knew well from my time as Editor of MBC. Dwight Jon Zimmerman and artist Wayne Vansant were in Artists' Alley, and I introduced myself and talked shop with them both. Dwight was nice enough to sign me a copy of his fantastic book about America's special forces, Beyond Hell and Back. Glad to finally meet those guys, I have lots of respect for their work.

I also got a chance to meet and have a few drinks with UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie, along with fellow hombres, the writers Peter V. Brett & Myke Cole. I've only heard many good things about Joe's work, and now after meeting the bastard, I can't help but like the guy and simply must read his work. I have no excuse really. 


Well, that's enough for tonight on this not-so-regular blog. As always, I'll report in soon, when able. Until then, reporting from the field will continue.

9.15.2010

Finally catching up: The Walking Dead

Someone recently told to me that I'm always late to the game, but I do show up. Well, that is definitely true in the case with me finally reading the first two volumes of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. I had only heard good things, reviews, press. What took me so long? And what makes the book so good?

The human drama, that's what it comes down to. Kirkman masterfully plotted out how life would be for this band of survivors, and how it would go on, the big picture. No quick movie end, this is life after, and how hard it is, as the people all around you dwindle one by one.

I am excited in a way, because there are about 10 more volumes in existence for me to find and devour like the party of friends finding some precious food in the bleak story and cherishing it. The fact that the survivors haven't accepted the fact that at any moment any one of them can die, and they still grasp onto family, friends, and what may have once been normal life, creates a desperate situation that is so easy to identify with. How would I act in such circumstances? Would I be brave enough to go into the city to find food or weapons? Could I be detached enough to let someone I love go, just as they are bitten, knowing they're already gone? Hard questions to answer.

All I knew is that I had to start reading before AMC's TV adaptation of the series kicks off on Halloween--while I'll be at World Fantasy Con--I'm sure a few of us bookish types can find a tv and see how the grizzly comic adaptation turns out. From what I've seen already in previews, it looks really good.

And althoug the attic library only had volume 1 and 2  of the series, now neatly returned to their rightful place in the archives, my quest will be to beg, borrow, or--well, purchase the remaining trades and get all caught up.

9.10.2010

Review of The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

I was hard pressed to find parts of this novel I didn't like, even the zombies were ok in my book. Written by a guy who teaches in New York; obviously well educated, well read, and with a nack for imagery and symbolism, this book was beautifully written. The protagonist, Temple, or Sarah Mary Williams, her real name maybe, was tough and scrappy, and I immediately liked her.

Temple travels in a post-apocalyptic world, still in its infancy at about 25-years since end of civilization as we know it. Temple is looking for something, or maybe nothing, but in this world she avoids zombie-like creatures, or meatskins, as she calls them, who lumber in far less dramatic fashion than usual throughout the empty streets.

She encounteres some aweful and amazing things in this book, like the electric-fence guarded plantation home, existing oblivious to the decaying world outside the baricade, with a sad and desperate family within. But even with fresh food and shelter, the wanderer, feels the calling of the road. She meets a pair of brothers as well, which doesn't go so well, and haunts her throughout the story.

To take this journey with Temple is to put it lightly. She encounters so much, gets into a few scrapes, and I felt myself both cringing and marveling at her actions. Most of the trip is dark, as she often questions whether or not she is evil in the things that she has to do to survive. But she also has goodness coursing through her veins, she tries to help a friend find his way to find his family, all the while being pursued by another not so unlike herself, only much larger.

Some basic technical things bothered me about the novel, for instance, the utilities working in several parts seemed not to be something the author was concerned about. Even in deserted places, Temple was able to walk into shops, use the running water, and I wondered if this was an oversight or was the "world" still so new in this phase, that some of the basic utilities still functioned somehow? It bothered me a bit in the beginning, but then not so much as the novel wore on.

I also like the introduction of other creatures aside from just your average zombie. I won't spoil anything here, but if you stick around long enough, you'll see Temple encounter a new kind of fiend, a result of the horrid wasteland and how a few have figured out to survive.
 
Overall I really enjoyed the novel, and think Alden Bell is someone I'll keep an eye on to see what's next. I recommend for fans of tales from the wasteland.

8.14.2010

The Terminal State by Jeff Somers - a Review full of bullet holes

What can I say about The Terminal State, the fourth installment of Jeff Somers' Avery Cates series? Let's see. The plot moves along at a brisk pace, once again putting Avery in a god-awful situation to start. And with, shall we say, a little augmentation, Avery shakes some dust off those old bones and gets into action.

Manipulation I think is the best word to describe the overall vibe of this book. Around every corner, down every dark tunnel, are forces manipulating each other, and especially poor Avery. But when you're the best gunner around, it comes with the territory.

When the Army snatches up Cates for a hand in the newest war against all-out annihilation, he unwillingly drags his feet, and is quickly resold to the highest bidder. Sent off to work a special mission with two odd accomplices, one a tattooed freak calling himself The Poet, and the other a mysterious female that feels oddly familiar, Avery is forced to start off on a job lacking the one thing he knows he needs most...a gun.

Filled with all the run-and-shoot action fans of the series have come to expect, this ride is non-stop, until the very end. At times I actually felt like I was playing a video game, with warnings, ammo count, and my heath meter dwindling away.  

One is left wondering just how much of this world is left to explore, it remains quite bleak by the end. And I know Somers is planning to "end a major arc" in the overall story in the next book. I'm already pining for next year's release.

I'd also like to send a shout out to cover designer, Lauren Panepinto, for an excellent job with the newly designed paperback (and for the new look of the mass market paperbacks of the previous books in the series as well). I loved the Jae Lee artwork on the previous trades, but this new treatment pretty much rocks.



8.02.2010

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - a late review

In 2008 I went to see Cory Doctorow  talk about books, Big Brother, and rights-free content. That night I bought a book, which I intended to read soon after and just got to this month, a few years late. Such is life sometimes for the Bookrastinator.

As I finished reading Little Brother on the express bus heading home to my home in Queens, I felt a sense of relief. I was free.
I looked down a street which was closed off for a block party and realized that even in today's restrictive world, we still live in a place where we can close off the street to throw a party. This is not the case in many parts of the world.

I really enjoyed Little Brother, even if half of it was a whirlwind of hacking terminology and lengthy explanations, with me being one of the least techy people I know, I sometimes felt out of my league. I kept thinking, man, I have friends who need to read this. They’d love it.

I did totally dug the main character, tech-obsessed high school senior, Marcus, known online as “w1n5t0n” and quite often in the principal’s office for hacking his way through school-mandated devices. 

When a terrorist attack disrupts an unsuspecting Bay area around San Francisco, a bunch of friends are caught right in the middle of it. And suddenly it's not so great to be the techy kid with all the gizmos in his backpack. Curious teen becomes a suspect. Suspect gets taken in for some unfriendly questioning. Things get serious.

Author Cory Doctorow mentions in the afterword that reading George Orwell's 1984 when he was twelve years old changed his life. I remember reading it in high school and it also affected me in a profound way.

Will Little Brother have this type of effect on the next generation? I'd like to think so. Government control, and surveillance is a big issue and will only continue to be so in the world we live in today. Will the torture scene scare kids? Sure. Did 1984's torture scenes scare me, absolutely. If it stirs up conversation, debate, shouting matches even, then it did it's job.

I feel like this is the type of book I need continually loan out, force people to read, because it's profoundly important in some way that is not completely clear to me yet. All I do know, as a father, is that this is a book I want my son to read when he's a teenager, so that we can have a debate about it like Marcus and his father in the book. 


And yes, I am dating myself saying that the title reminds me of the rap song from the 80s. I sang it in my head each time I opened the book. I'm not sure if Doctorow was going for that as well as evoking the spirit of Orwell. But either way, it worked for me.

6.20.2010

Review of Wolverine Noir by Stuart Moore and C.P. Smith

I picked up the premier hardcover of Wolverine Noir a few weeks late as I was having a hard time finding it at a few local shops. I was expecting the compact, roughly 5 x 7 trade paperback like the other Marvel Noir books I'd purchased (i.e. Spider-Man, Daredevil, and X-Men) but for some reason Marvel decided to release this noir book in a standard (larger) comic book size hardcover. I'm not sure why.

Regardless of that bit of format discussion, the treasure is what lay inside. A tale of a lowly P.I. -- one Jim Logan. Inspired heavily by the Wolverine Origins book from 2000, this noir retelling focuses on many of the characters from that book, Dog, Rose, and James Logan of course, with a sprinkling of some of Wolverine's other regular cast: Victor Creed, a gangster in the Bowery section of New York City, and the Asian women of Logan's past: Mariko, the femme fatale, and Yuriko, training ninjas as thugs.

It is an interesting mix, and Logan slipped easily into the role of a hard drinking, down on his luck PI, who works with his half-stupefied partner, Dog, as a result of a long ago incident that takes the entire book to play out. I might have expected a fee more cameos, but this cast if characters kept the story tight and moving along.

Smith's artwork, purposefully sloppy, worked well for the series, as only in flashbacks is James presented like a clean cut kid, who is not sure if he's more human or animal -- the perpetual question of his life. Stuart Moore, recreates the noir sensibility quite well, in 1930s New York, and the build up to World War II. It's in the newspaper headlines, it's evident in the business of arms dealing on the black market...its all right there.

I'd give this a 'very good' and definite solid addition to the Marvel collection of noir books. Also of note is the inclusion of a sketchbook and sample of the issue #1 script in the back, for a detailed look into the creative process. 

All I missed were more villain cameos from Wolverine's illustrious past, as there is so much material to draw from. That, and the fact that I thought the smaller size trades that the other books were released in really lent itself to the "pulp fiction" feel of the stories.
 

Overall, a fine book by a talented creative team.

6.09.2010

Catching Up on the Classics: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

One great thing about having access to the various mobile reading devices these days, is it allows me to catch up on those classic books, now all easily accessible through various applications. And we all have them, we all have books that we've somehow missed over the years, for any number of reasons.

Using the Masterpieces app on the iPod Touch, whenever I am without a proper book (or new ebook), I scroll through their bookshelf collection and give something that I've missed a try.
This week, it was H. G. Wells and his classic, The Time Machine. This is one of the great ones that I've missed.

Oddly, I still had an odd affection for this story, as I was first introduced to the 1979 film, Time After Time, that was based on a novel of he same name that was published that very same year. This was something that I was not aware of until researching for this blog post. I thought that some Hollywood execs got together and just thought to combine H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper. I had no idea that film was based on a book of the same name. I will find a copy of that book for my collection. But I only remembered the film, which I watched over and over with my brother and sister. It was a favorite of ours.

The story of the film combined the literary character of  H.G. Wells, himself, played by Malcolm McDowall--my introduction to his work, his time machine, and Jack the Ripper, played by the fantastic, David Warner--who still creeps me out to this day due to this role in this film and his other evil roles in Time Bandits and Tron.  He really does play such a great bad guy.

He chases Jack the Ripper into the future to stop him and recover his time machine. I watched this film so many times when younger, that I believed it to be the actual story of the book--and somehow missed the reading assignment in high school or shrugged it off perhaps. (Many of my English teachers would be surprised to learn that I became an editor.)

I was so surprised when I finally started reading and the story was altogether different. I longed to know more about each character that the time traveler is speaking to at the table in his parlor. I was especially fond of The Editor. And his far future time travel was so different than the few decades of travel that occurs in the film. Fantastical creatures appear, a future evolution with little or no explanation. It was a thrilling read, and before I knew it the novella had ended. It should always be that way--enjoyment leading right up to the end.

I guess I can now watch the Guy Pierce film as well, which looks like it was a true adaptation of the novella. Well, I am glad to have checked that one off the list, and have already started reading Wells' The Invisible Man which I am also enjoying. Reading books in between reading other books. I've totally forgotten what it is like to read only one thing at a time. Occupational hazard I guess.

Catch up on a classic recently? Share your story in the comments.

5.28.2010

My Book Expo (BEA) Experience with Comics of course!

I will be writing more about my one-day at Book Expo this week at the Javits Center in NYC. But here's a quick bit about one of the books I picked up.

At the IDW booth, I grabbed the "Exclusive BEA Preview" copy of The Man with the Getaway Face (A prelude to The Outfit featuring Richard Stark's Parker adapted by Darwyn Cooke). Still trying to find a good image of the preview cover, but this cover to the right is what the actual book cover will look like when it debuts in July.

I just read it this morning, and it is terrific, a perfect bridge story between last year's Hunter graphic novel and the upcoming, The Outfit adaptation. The preview is over-sized, 8 x 12, and really shows off the beauty of Cooke's artwork and style.

I'll have more from my day at the show soon, but just wanted to update the blog (finally) and mention this great book. Keep your eyes peeled for it.

4.30.2010

From the Rooftops. My review of DAREDEVIL: Noir TP written by Alexander Irvine and illustrated by Tomm Coker

Depression Era, New York City. Neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen. Two mob bosses fight for their stretch of the street and all bootlegging and hard living they can handle.

But some forces have lived in Hell's Kitchen a long time too, and have seen a whole lot of nastiness. Or have they?

Carlton Fisk and Jimmy O'Halloran meet over dinner to discuss their rivalry and just what they're going to do about it. Just two men discussing work over a meal. 

Writer Alex Irvine did a great job of bringing these characters to life, even Foggy Nelson seemed more street wise then he is often portrayed.

In the story, a beautiful femme fetale wanders into the law office of one Foggy Nelson, and bemuses his sidekick, blind assistant Matt Murdock. Eliza. Temptress.

In an attempt to protect his new love interest and find out more information, our blind friend becomes his other self, a vengeful street force, as mysterious and fearful as they come. And so it begins.

If ever there was a Marvel character who was a perfect fit for a noir-themed tale it was the blind justice of New York, Daredevil.

I can not speak highly enough about the artistic approach to this book. Not only are the dark sketchy panels drawn to noir perfection, but additional elements like the old school type face of Daredevil's thoughts worked beautifully.

Even the design of the smaller than average size trade paperback is superb. Grainyness is a word that's thrown a lot in the comics medium, but here it achieved the desired effect. The people responsible for the creation of this collected trade paperback did a wonderful job with design elements and extras. Not only is there a cover gallery in the back but there are also Tomm Coker's character sketches from early on. I'm all about the supplemental material.

A solid addition to the Marvel Noir line of books. Next I'm off to purchase the Wolverine Noir trade. Maybe next week.

Disclaimser: This is a comic that I purchased myself at the comic shop just like any normal Wednesday regular might. It was not a free sample and I no gun was held to my head to write this review. The book simply rocked.

4.21.2010

Book Review: Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

Walk the streets of Salonika alongside special police detective, Costa Zannis...in 1940s Greece.

War is in the air. You can feel it. The Germans have moved across northern Europe like a tidal wave. The Greeks are used to struggle. Their beautiful stretch of islands have been sought after for millenia. The Persians, the Turks, even their neighbors, the Italians. History has been a long struggle with occupation.

Costa has seen a lot during his time as a police officer in northern Greece. But he can feel that things are only going to get worse. This policeman decides to make a crucial decision to help some people escape Berlin. It won't be easy and he knows he is putting his life at risk, but he can't help it, feels its the right thing to do.

Reading Alan Furst is like enjoying a fine wine. At one point in your life maybe by mistake or by recommendation, who knows, you happen upon one of his books. Once you've had a taste, you can't figure out how you've gone so long without it. For it seems he was always there, just in front of you.

He is able to mix elements of spy intrigue, military history, local color, and sexual mischief, all into one. This is something I haven't found in any other historical novels, especially ones with a military history bend. 

And I know I am late to the Furst party, but I feel that I've found a writer who I yearn for each new project. 2008's The Spies of Warsaw allowed me to meet him when he read at the Barnes and Noble on 68th Street in NYC. It was a treat and he was such a nice person, we chatted briefly at the signing table.

Back to the new novel, the only thing I can think to say negatively, is that it was way too short of a book after having waited two years for it. I was hoping for tome, and at less than 300 pages I felt somewhat disappointed when it was over much too quickly. 



Regardless, I've been recommending his work ever since I first read him and I'm pleased, that at least for me, there is a backlist for me to draw upon when I need my Furst quenched.

4.14.2010

Delicious. My review of: BRAINS: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker

Ok, first, the good stuff. What I liked about Brains: A Zombie Memoirby Robin Becker. When I try to think of what Brains reminds me of the most, I'd have to say the Marvel Zombies series (started by the infamous Robert Kirkman). The idea that some of the mutants in that story retain levels of sentience after "turning" immediately came to mind when I started to read the story of this unfortunate professor who was unable to escape the zombie apocalypse.



What Becker does is lead you on the shambling path of said zombie as he gathers like-minded, sort of, zombie crew, creating a party intent on reaching a goal--aside from the all-consuming goal of eating brains of course. At every turn humans are consumed, the remaining military appear, guns blazing, and we are witness to the desperation of this particularly undead situation.

My pet peeves. I don't mind when an author spews forth pop culture jargon in an endless zombie-like stream. In fact, I like it. And Becker does a good job of that, cracking jokes, cramming in that needless Trivia Pursuit-like knowledge at every turn. This style of writing, in turn, was reminiscent of the twisted novel by none other then Penn Jilette, Sock.

What I didn't love so much, was the amount of social commentary. Slipping in bits of political opinion is one thing, but it felt at times like the author talking and not so much this character, and when this is noticeable, that means it's a bit too much for me. This is of course, my opinion, that it is a fine line between subtle social commentary or long-winded pontificating.

And yet, I really enjoyed reading this novel. Go figure. The author was able to weave a fun and desperate plot of this undead academic, trying to hold onto the shreds of memory and humanity, and attempt to reach the originator, the doctor who unleashed the plague in the first place, in a feeble hope that he can undo the mayhem.



At many times I felt bad for the still-human characters that I met along the way, knowing that they were either lunch or about to be turned. Only one of those two zombie fates awaited the poor human survivors. There was a dark dystopian streak running through this novel, like an inescapable zombie horde, there at every turn.


I think if you're looking for a fun zombie read, Brains is worth the time. You may find the author's writing style as witty as I did even with all the yucky bits thrown in.

Disclosure: Please note that I received an advance reader copy (ARC) from the publisher for review purposes. I was not forced to eat brains at any time during this reading although the urge occurred to me once or twice.

4.13.2010

The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett out today. Grab one!

The second book by fantasy author, Peter V. Brett debuts today, The Desert Spear. This is the follow up to his debut novel, The Warded Man (The Painted Man in the UK).

Pete Brett is a good friend of mine--I've mentioned this countless times on this site before, because these days this is the transparency people have come to expect.

I've read this novel and can vouch for it's awesomeness and skulduggery. This is not a review--as I am too close to the material to fairly judge it.

But I can say, in my expert opinion, that it is awesome. And look at that cover, it is kick ass! So is the book.


Grab a copy, join the fight against the endless tide of demons in the night. You won't regret it.

4.08.2010

Penguin Sets December Pub Date for New Clancy

Penguin Sets December Pub Date for New Clancy: "Bestselling author Tom Clancy will deliver his first newbook in seven years w..."

It has been way too long since Clancy put out a novel (7 years to be exact). This will be huge for Penguin come December. I missed having a new Clancy novel the last few years while running Military Book Club -- I look forward to seeing this one.

Just a quick note. Back to work.

3.30.2010

Bloody Clever. My review of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

How else can I describe this novel from literary mash-up author sensation, Seth Grahame-Smith?
Bloody clever.

I had seen all the hubbub about his New York Times bestselling, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and knew that he was approaching things a bit differently. He was creating a hot new trend.

I made a request for a bound galley, through one of my trusted literary source connections and it arrived a few days later, in a package--just like how a bunch of secret diaries appear at the beginning of the novel, filled with secrets.

So there is my disclaimer: I was sent this book, via a publishing connection, for free. I intended to review it here from the get go.

I began reading ALVH with trepidation, knowing full-well that people were going to get axed. After all, that is how Abe developed that lean physique, splitting wood in the yard all the while teaching himself to read and write and building up that wicked smart mind. 

He was a force to be reckoned with. And with the same conviction he used later in his political life, his speeches, and in office, he also used when he swore to slay every vampire in America.

Through periodic secret diary entries, posted sporadically throughout the text along side clips of his actual historical writings, through the narrator, a character given a bunch of ancient journals by a mysterious figure at the very beginning of the book, we learn this secret history.

And it is a bloody good time. Judging by this image on the back of the bound galley (or advance reader copy, ARC) that I was given, heads do roll. I'm not even sure if the published edition has same image on the back (I'll check when I visit B&N tomorrow). 


I thought the writer did a great job of mixing historical events, writings, persons, and overall history with his vampire story. It was a fun read, with many historical cameos along the way, including one literary cameo I was delighted to see (we can talk after you read it). 

I can see why this book has drawn the attention of Tim Burton for possible adaptation for the big screen. I'll certainly keep an eye on that.

I wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil a fun read. I don't normally pick up horror novels, but this one seemed like it was too much fun to pass up. I recommend it to vampire fans and historical fiction fans alike.

3.23.2010

A great post of one author's writing process: Antony Johnston

I thought to link to the wonderful blog of Antony Johnston, writer of many comics and such, whom I've reviewed on this site before (Wolverine: Prodigal Son), and is also the writer on the comics: Wasteland [which I keep meaning to pick up], the Dead Space: Extraction adaptation, and current co-scribe on Daredevil.

He recently talked about his writing process, discussed what works for him, adding great snapshots to his post of everything from his hand written notebooks, to his transferal of notes to his Mac, then his outlining and drafting, which differ according project-to-project.

Although every writer must find the system that works best for them, whether it is the random scrawling of those who do not outline, or the painstaking detailed approach that works for others. As an editor, and sometime writer myself, I am always intrigued by stories of other writers' processes.

Here's the link. Enjoy.

3.20.2010

Digital-re-read: BALTIMORE: Or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire

In my new guise as a person getting to know the different e-reading devices on the market, I've gotten the chance to plow through books, both old and new, through use of several convenient e-readers.

I wanted to talk about a book I've become re-fond of, and that is the wonderful collaboration between Hellboy creator, Mike Mignola, and fantasy author of great renown, Christopher Golden.

This 2007 book, BALTIMORE: Or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, from the Bantam Spectra imprint of Random House, is a force to be reckoned with. Still. And this is my second time reading it. The creepy text is complimented by black and white illustrations by Mignola, an assortment of random images: a toy soldier, a crumbling statue, a shadowy beast... just enough to whet your appetite and shape the images already clawing their way into your mind as you read.

I was wondering how the black and w
hite images would appear on the Kindle that I chose to read this book on. They looked as crisp as they did in the beautiful print edition that I have. The many levels of gray shading offered by the e-reader was a perfect match for this type of artwork accompaniment. If the illustrations were in color it may have been a loss, but they were not in this case. I thought it looked pretty good.


 Either way, if you go digital or find the printed book, it is a great gothic story of an ancient vampiric evil, awoken on a bloody World War I battlefield, where it swore to take vengeance on the man responsible...one Lord Baltimore.


Follow the tales of three friends of Baltimore as they meet, exchange stories, and try to determine what has become of their tormented friend and warrior.

3.14.2010

My copy arrived: The Great Bazaar

If you've read this blog before, then you know I'm good friends with fantasy author, Peter V. Brett. This is something I'm very proud of, and in 2007 when I went off to try to be a freelance editor, Pete's writing career was just taking off. We hit the road, and convention circuit together, like two samurai, fighting the hordes back-to-back.

We originally met many years ago, early in our careers, while working in medical publishing. It may have been an X-Men calendar in my cubicle that started our conversation, I'm not sure, but we've been evil twins ever since. That's a photo of us from our first WFC, the 2007 World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga, NY, dressed all snazzy for the awards banquet.

Well, before his second novel, with Del Rey books, The Desert Spear, goes on sale in April (right around the corner), a small limited edition hardcover has just been released. A prize collection including his masterful novelette, The Great Bazaar, and snipped scenes not included in his debut novel, The Warded Man (released as The Painted Man abroad), beautifully combined with lots of other extras from Subterranean Press, including a glossary and grimoire, giving more detail and back story to the fantasy world Peter has created.


In full disclosure, being a close friend and publishing professional, I admit I had read an early draft of The Great Bazaar in miniature print booklet that Pete printed out for a few close friends way back when. I loved the story back then, a tale of Arlen on the road that a fan of The Warded Man can pick up, but also an aside, a story of adventure on the road that can be read first--in and of itself--or leading up to the second book in the series, The Desert Spear.

The folks at Subterranean Press did an impressive job with the compact hardcover, using the beautiful artwork of artist, Lauren Cannon, who has worked with Peter in the past. Note: a limited signed-and-numbered edition of this book is sold out, but the $20 trade edition is still available and a welcome compliment to any fantasy readers' book shelf.

My only gripe would have to be that I would have liked to see an illustration on the back cover, seemed like the only missed opportunity with the fine book design.

This book makes a great introduction to this vibrant fantasy world or a great bridge to Peter's second major novel due out next month. A grand adventure awaits. Don't forget your ward circle.

3.05.2010

this might be the my notebook/journal/notepad of the future.

The news of the upcoming Microsoft Courier digital journal, as reported by Engadget, looks to me to be the journal of my future. 

The compact clean display and fact that it is a text recognition, stylus-enabled device is right up the alley of this old school journal writer.

The ease of writing, looking things up on the web, and writing into web address bars -- with the stylus instead of a keyboard, is really, really neat.


The videos on the engadget site look amazing. The ability to use streamlined multi-tasking feeds which can coordinate with your personal or business contact list, it also allows you to share "virtual journals" online and coordinate both visual as well as text elements, integrated with ease. That looks perfect for this guy.


Check out the above link for amazing creative use videos and if you hear of this item's release sooner rather than later, please shoot me an email.


Did I mention it'll also act as a Microsoft e-reader? Sweet.

2.27.2010

And so it goes...

Just had a thought to not think too hard about what to blog about and to just do it.

I am at my desk at home, little James is in his room next to mine sleeping quietly, and the lady of the house is in her subterranean lair at the forge.

I have some Band of Horses playing and I'm working on the 2011 King calendar. Editing mostly, and some writing as well. It's all good for a cold Saturday afternoon.

Watched RocknRolla last night. Eh. Not bad, but certainly not Ritchie's best work. I have to see the new Sherlock Holmes soon to see what all the hubbub was all about. He does love to create crazy tough hitmen, those two Russian guys were crazy bad ass (although not as tough as Bullet Tooth Tony).

Anyway, work is good, and I've been reading a bunch which is one of the pluses of my express bus commute. By the way, waiting in the rain or snow for bus to arrive -- not so much an advantage of bus travel.

Excited that the SyFy channel is playing a sort of marathon of King-related movies and mini-series tomorrow. We've planned to use it as creative inspiration as we sort out essays for next year's calendar. A good weekend indeed.

Also, I started my writing fiction project (read more about it here). I rec'd my Moleskine notebook and I've started filling it with bits of scribbling and doodles. Maybe I'll show a sample here soon. Is it any surprise that the first bit of writing is entitled, "Snow"? Life in New York this month has been about little else.

Back to the keyboard--

2.16.2010

I've also picked up something new..

Sure, I am trying to read all of the books I already own, a task many of us agree is difficult at best, but this didn't stop me from picking up a book I've heard a lot of chatter about, while I was while browsing through the aisles at B&N the other day.

And so far I'm enjoying The Silver Skull by Mark Chadbournalthough I admit I've only just started it. Like many blog sites I decided to mention it early on, as I also plan to come back with a full review when finished.

Maybe I can get my author friend to loan me his copy of, The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, and I can loan him this when we both finish our respective dips in the Pyr books list. Captain Lou [if I may call him that] is doing amazing things over at Pyr.

It is always exciting to try a new author, just as it is fun to return to old favorites. Not being a book club editor anymore, I'm not exposed to the plethora of early materials that I had become very much used to. After 10 years of that luxury, it is still hard to adjust to finding new reads by review or recommendation, like most everyone else.


I also look forward to reading the 1st volume trade paperback, The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, that I picked up a few weeks ago at the comics shop. I read a sample issue that was given out at the MoCCA Art Fest last year, and the trade release reminded me to check it out again.

I remember a nice mix of fantasy and reality in the book. Even a fare shot at comics conventions, which I can directly relate to having been to more than I'd admit.

I have plenty of good reading for the next several frosty bus rides in my immediate future, taking me into the Flatiron area where I work.

And today I saw Andy Rooney walking up 23rd street while I walked west toward the E train.

I love this town.

2.13.2010

Reading what I own

Woke up to make coffee and re-read the 2nd half of the award-winning STITCHES graphic memoir by David Small. I talked about it here last year, after picking up a copy at the Book Expo convention. Then I placed the book in the attic library among my other treasures.



I was reminded of the touching and troubling personal story and why I left it on the night table, to re-read and browse through from time to time. He works magic with his ink and shading, evoking his troubled youth and his saving grace... ART. A reminder to us all, the importance of art in a young person's life.

Off to run some errands and hit the B&N in Bayside, to browse and pick up a few things.

2.07.2010

Lazy Sunday, Big Game

Caught a little bit of Wonder Boys this morning on tv while coming to my senses, reminded me to attempt to 'read my own books' as I have many things on the shelves unread. In this case, I have a copy of Wonder Boys' signed by Mr Chabon, to Fotini, from when we met him at the 92nd street Y for a conversation about The Yiddish Policeman's Union, also on the shelf, signed, and unread. Need to fix that. Although in the case of TYPU, it is a wonderful bound galley with french flaps, and is almost too perfect to commute with. I'll think about it, the collector in me is hesitant to rough it up at all.

After talking recently with friends Kerry, then Matt, about making a resolution to 'read all the books you own' I obviously have my work cut out for me. And I'll be finished with Under the Dome tonight (after the game of course), and I look forward to jumping into reading other unread books that I already own.



I also caught most of the film, Emotional Arithmatic, on Shotime, which I hadn't heard of but was pleased to see it starred two of my favorite actors, Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer, in addition to the wonderful Susan Sarandon and Gabriel Byrne. The film told about the wartime relationship between Byrne and Sarandon in a prison camp during WW II, where they were looked after by Von Sydow. They reunite 40 years later, at a farmhouse where Sarandon is married to Plummer.


I couldn't help but think of the earlier roles of Plummer as Admiral Von Trapp from The Sound of Music, as well as Von Sydow's role as a Nazi officer in Victory. It is interesting that after even all these years, roles related to World War II come about for these veterans of stage and screen.


Alright, I'm off to prepare for a wonderful afternoon of football, and am rooting for the Saints this time around. Nothing against the Colts, but Payton has his ring, and the Saints impressed me this year with their aerial attack and scrappy play throughout the playoffs.


1.29.2010

Saddened by the death of J.D. Salinger

I'm one of the millions saddened by the death of J.D. Salinger. At 14-years-old, as a freshman in high school, I read The Catcher in the Rye, and like so many others connected with Holden and his crazy little story. It is a special book. That's all I'll say about that.

Salinger lived his life the way he wanted to, to the chagrin of society. I read a great story in the Washington Post today about a very small publisher and his attempt to publish an out of print story of Salinger's. Link here. It's a wonderful little article. A one-man publisher running his operation out of his home. A random letter sent to Salinger on a lark. A response years later. An exchange of letters. A meeting. Then things fall apart. This story alone could be made into a movie.

Is it strange that I keep thinking of the movie, Conspiracy Theory? Like it or not, that film uses Salinger's celebrated book as a key element into looking at the twisted mind of a man with some serious mental issues. I really like the role the book plays in the film.

1.27.2010

It's official...the iPad exists.

Apple's iPad starts at $499 with various versions pricing up to $829. 

Here's a link to the detailed specs of the device. 


My favorite pic with keyboard doc station accessory:




















Small post. Enough has been said about this device already today.


Very cool. But I'll admit I wasn't surprised by anything which is slightly anticlimactic. I thought I would be.

Still want one though...

today is the greatest day that ever was...

Well, in a few hours Apple will have made it's major announcement as we all wait for the maelstrom to begin. I'll be at the comic shop at lunch today and will certainly hear all about it when I get back to the office.

Hopefully I'll pick up a few interesting books to write about. And I have a post coming soon on an upcoming Ultimate Guide.



Stay tuned.

1.22.2010

So two guys hit Midtown Comics shop... and what I picked up.

Made my way back to Wednesday comic book day with my good friend Matt this week, initially worried that the holiday on Monday shifted the 'new books' release date--which it did not. I've made that mistake many a Wednesday in the past.

We discussed many things from Jeff Loeb's Ultimate universe storytelling (or lack there of), being life-long yet hesitant Los Bros Hernandez fans, as well as marveling that we both want to read Crumb's mammoth and intricately illustrated Book of Genesis from Norton, and were both shocked to see a very reasonable price tag of $24.95 on such an impressive tome (might be purchasing it soon).


My pick this week for the grownup readers is the  little hardcover by Gilbert Hernandez, THE TROUBLEMAKERS. I was initially taken in by the compact hardcover presentation. Personally, as I move more and more into the digital book field, I have an ever-growing appreciation for smartly constructed (and good looking) hardcovers for the home attic library. I really enjoyed the book, and what a beautiful little package of a book it is.

Half the fun of this book is trying to figure out just who is getting conned the worst? I zipped through this fun read, filled with backstabbing, double-crosses, and the spectacular art of Gilbert Hernandez. There is enough sex, violence, and treachery for any fan of pulp fiction. Now I need to go back and get his 2007 hardcover release, Chance in Hell. This offshoot of the Love and Rockets series is too much fun to miss.

On a much lighter note, I also started picking up some of these wonderful DC Comics superhero adventure books done in collaboration with Stone Arch Books for young readers. After all, I do have a new little super guy at home. I had picked up a few of these books at the comic shop over the holidays for the nephews, and thought I should add a few to my little guy's new bookshelf at home.

Done in the style of Bruce Timm's cartoon animation, each adventure book is full of text and wonderful color illustration to share with your favorite little superhero at home.

This particular book, SUPERMAN: BIZARRO IS BORN, was writtten by the legendary, and uber-talented Louise Simonson, and feature artwork by a stellar roster of contributors. Each book in the series has a unique writing and illustration team.

I started off with a tale of Bizarro--a favorite villain of mine. I'll write more about these fun books once I've read them through (hopefully aloud to my son) and once I've grabbed a few more (several Batman volumes are available also). Keep an eye out for them.

That's all for now. Until next time.

1.12.2010

Book of Eli screenwriter interview on CBR

Another quick post related to the upcoming film, The Book of Eli, as it just keeps coming up as I read things online. And as I continue to remain impressed that this was an original screenplay, as learned in an interview at Comic Book Resources with screenwriter, Gary Whitta, which solidified my thoughts on the work.

Read the interview here. The article by CBR staff writer, Erik Amaya, tells some great details about Whitta selling the script, Denzel pretty much "protecting it" so that it was filmed very close to the original script written, and even Comic Con fans asking what graphic novel it was based on when teased last year with those fans being surprised to hear it was an original work, even in a time when adapted screenplays are all the rage in Hollywood. It is an interesting article worth checking out.

Oh, and books, I will get back to talking about them soon. Thing is, the last two books I read were of the "yet to be published" variety, so I can't really talk about them...yet. I'm currently reading the monstrosity that is Stephen King's Under the Dome--and loving it--but won't be done for a wee bit, but I plan to talk more about it here.


I'll also be reading more of the newer Stephen King-related comics and re-reading some older King titles, work related to my 2011 editorial project. Always exciting.

I also hope to post an updated attic library pictoral soon. It is coming along nicely. Still need a desk though...

1.05.2010

A Creative Endeavor in a new Journal.

In an attempt to start the new year off right, and because I feel I don't have enough on my plate these days (ha!), as I made my rounds through my favorite websites last night I returned to the blog dedicated to the legendary Moleskine notebook, Moleskinerie.



While on there reading through recent and older posts, I found an interesting post about an initiative by the Art House Co-op in Brooklyn. And I signed up. Here's a quick quote from the Molskinerie website:

Exciting update from Shane Zucker at the Art House Co-op:
"(Our) latest Sketchbook Project ended up with 3,600 artists participating in it! ...We just launched a new project called The Fiction Project which focuses on telling a story through writing and art, with the Moleskine being the vessel. Each person will receive a randomly assigned theme and a ruled Moleskine Cahier journal to create a work of fiction in. In the end, each book will be included in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Art Library..."
 

You can read more about it, here. Note that there is an $18 contribution fee, but they do send participants a small Moleskine notebook to use and it is for a good cause. Also there are samples from a previous project displayed on the site - and they are pretty cool looking.


Anyone who knows me, knows I've been a life-long journal writer. Even as technology has progressed, and despite the fact that I've even entered the blogosphere, I always found solace and release writing in the pages of my various notebooks. This is something that will always be a part of my life.






This Fiction Project sounded like a great way to be creative and be part of more than my pile of journals dating back to high school. I loved the permenance of the idea, the notebook I create becoming part of a permanent collection, helping to build the Brooklyn Art Library's collection.

If anyone else reading this decides to participate, please email me, I'd love to share in the experience, and I will try to give some updates on progress here.

[Edit. note: The photos in this post are not of my own personal notebooks, just images I found on the net to add to this piece. I hope to have journals nearly as pretty].


Carpe Diem!