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.