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Worth mentioning: A great review of the SKL 2013 Desk Calendar

I had to write a quick post about this terrific review of the STEPHEN KING LIBRARY DESK CALENDAR 2013 that I edited and co-wrote with a terrific cast of contributors including authors, editors, and King enthusiasts.

Check out the review here.

David, over at his Talk Stephen King site, really got what we try to do at the calendar every year, and that is to put together a great collection of: trivia, essays, musings, etc., all related to the master himself, Stephen King, and his wonderful body of work. Thanks David, I'm humbled by your words. And thanks for the shout-out about the trivia, which my amazing wife, Fotini, puts together, every year, outdoing herself.

"I celebrate the guy's entire catalog."


In his review, he discussed some of his favorite essays by the likes of Peter V. Brett, Robin Furth and King expert Brian James Freeman--who wrote a special extended piece about putting together a special 25th Anniversary Limited Edition of IT

I have a ball putting this cal…

Review of BALLS by Julian Tepper

I sit at the keyboard this morning, having just completed reading Balls on the D train on my way down to West 4th Street, and I imagine the keys of a piano in front of me. Melancholy might be the first word that comes to mind when I think about this novel, but also well crafted, like a song its protagonist Henry Schiller is always trying to create. That perfect New York song… the one that will define him. What else defines him in this novel? Well, the women he dates, or sleeps with more accurately, as even though there is one flame in his heart, there are many women in his life both past and present that he talks about in great detail. Constantly falling in and out of relationships, most tragically as it often happens, love is something he struggles with, especially with his young and talented girlfriend, Paula. Manhattan is another large piece of his identity. Although Henry lives in Tudor City, near the UN, and plays piano in a bar nearby, he travels around the picturesque city via c…

DRIVEN by James Sallis -- a book review

Will they ever stop coming for him?

That is the question on your mind as you start reading Driven, the follow up to author James Sallis' hit book, Drive, which was adapted into the acclaimed film of the same name in 2011 starring Ryan Gosling.

Sallis writes novels as I imagined an L.A.-based writer would. Reads like a screenplay, and at fewer than one hundred pages, it’s ready to be adapted. 

Reads tight—like a Helmet song, his text is tightly woven around a few repetitive chords, except the one-two punch of Sallis' novel comes in the form of the two-man teams continually sent to find the nameless Driver and take him down, a drifter who has caused too much trouble to let him walk away. The problem of course is that he’s always a step ahead keeps easily outclassing the goons. He needs answers before his luck runs out.

Hiding away under the hood of a car he’s rebuilding in an out of the way garage will only get Driver so far, and he has to decide who to befriend and who to trust as …

Review: THE BORROWER by Rebecca Makkai

How to write a quick & quirky review of The Borrower:

1. Say that reading this book is like going on an adventure.

2. Actually go on an adventure, where you take the path less traveled

3. Eat a lot of junk food along the way, but remember to keep hydrated.

4. Observe all that you see on this journey. Take notes & definitely keep receipts (you may need them later on).

5. Find a charming, well-read, but potentially troubled young boy and pledge to look out for his well-being.

6. Get in way over your head.

7. While on this journey, question everything, every bad decision ever made, your chosen life path, and exactly how you wound up where you are today.

8. Mention that the author, Rebecca Makkai, is a charmingly witty and engaging writer. Say how you were pleasantly surprised at how much you liked this book (she drops literary classics allusions like Tarantino references pulp films).

9. End by saying that you were given a copy of this book at work, that is if you work at DK Publi…

A Trip Back To The Cold War Era--My Review of THE COLDEST CITY

Here’s my report / review of THE COLDEST CITY, a graphic novel, written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, published in May 2012 by Oni Press.  The perpetrators: Intel etched out on cocktail napkins [words]: Antony Johnston. Visual field scratching [images]: Sam Hart
Disclosure Notice: A sample of the sleek unjacketed hardcover provided by Oni Press [thank you]  

The story: Within Berlin, with the Wall about to crumble, KGB factions are at work deciphering all the spies within the city. Deep undercover agents have informed MI6 that an agent was killed over a very important document--a list of every agent working in Berlin.An agent is sent in to pick up the pieces and find the list.

Sitrep: a classy British agent--Lorraine Broughton--is sent into ice cold Berlin in the late 1980s to find out what happened to a missing file an agent reported to have, a list of all the agents in Berlin was possibly heading to the black market. Bad news as

Communism is starting to come undone and…

BEA 2012, Day 2, Highlight: A Treat for the Gentleman Gamer

It was another fine day at BEA at the good old [nasty] Javits Center. What a wonderfully crowded day filled with celebs [I saw Rachel Ray and Tim Gunn signing with incredibly long lines] and packed with industry folk and more advance reader copies than you could possibly fit in a tote bag.


I left galley light today, having quite enough to read and get caught up on, having only grabbed a forthcoming thriller from Mulholland Books [an imprint of Little Brown & Co.], BREED by Chase Novak -- which looks creepy and delicious and includes a Stephen King bursted quote on the cover, a pretty good endorsement. I very much look forward to getting into that one.


Some of you may or may not know, I have an alter ego, a late night gaming persona whom likes to mix his exciting videogame playing with spirits of a civilized type; a mashup of the cultures of gaming and imbibing, and for this guy it works out quite nicely. It all started one cold winter day when my wife found me playing SOCOM II with …

My BEA 2012 Day 1 - Favorite item of the day

My first day at Book Expo America was great fun. I worked with my fellow colleagues at the DK Publishing booth and when able, ran around to scout bound gallies and other giveaways. I ran into friends, old coworkers and business partners and saw several big name authors walking around (like John Grisham and Dennis Lehane).


I wanted to write about my favorite giveaway of the day, which Little Brown & Co. gave out promoting the new Lemony Snicket book. Instead of the tried and true tote bag (of which I did grab a few,  a side effect of working in the book world), LB was giving away this neat faux-leather briefcase, which zipped up and included a bunch of promotional items including a preview of the book, "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" with cover and scattered interior illustrations by renowned comic book illustrator, Seth. The case also included a calendar, pen--with sliding octopus feature--and a boxed bar of soap, with The Lost Arms imprinted on it.


It was one of the ho…

Review of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Time Machines.

If you are a fan of science fiction, you can spend a lot of time thinking about time machines. From H. G. Wells’ classic tale to Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s Delorian. Time travel stories are an integral part of modern pop culture and have been around for a long time. And they can be fun, complex and engaging.

As with many things, I’m still getting caught up reading the books I’ve been meaning to (boy, a time machine would come in handy with that, that is if I could stay out of time paradoxes), and one I’ve been meaning to read for a while, I’ve just finished the entertaining and well written novel by Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.

I was first drawn in by the jacket art, being a big fan of ray guns, I thought the design was playful and fun. [I am referring to the hardcover artwork of all the ray guns] It reached out to this fan of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Although now having read the book, I think the design would have been slightly mor…

The Art of Video Games by Chris Melissinos and Patrick O'Rourke, my review

Like opening a scrap book and viewing my gaming life, I flipped through the digital pages of this forthcoming illustrated book from Welcome Books (who graciously provided me with a digital version to review), and I started to realize just how much a part of my life video games were--and are-- and as I grew, they grew along with me.
In conjunction with The Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibit, The Art of Video Games, a full color celebration of video games tie-in book will be released by Welcome Books. Check out the retro clip packed promotional video here.
The Art of Video Games transported me back to the very beginning of gaming, as I read about one of the first releases for the Atari, Combat, which I recall fondly playing on my cousin Jeffery’s Atari (which I did not own) in his parent’s house in Brooklyn. It was a gaming love at first sight, a love affair which continues  to this day. 
The impeccably researched discourse brought me through to my Intellivisiondays, my favorite conso…

My review of LIKE A SNIPER LINING UP HIS SHOT by Jacques Tardi

Remember that scene in True Romance when Christopher Walken (Vincenzo Coccotti) punches Dennis Hopper (Clifford Worley) in the nose and quips something to the effect of, "...and that's as good as it's gonna get, and it ain't ever gonna get that good again."
That is how this graphic novel reads, this ambitious adaptation of the terse French crime novel, The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette, is like a swift punch in the face, and it doesn't let up. 
The stark black and white illustration by Jacques Tardi, a master of the graphic novel form, was dead on. The story was violent enough; I had a hard time imagining all those scenes of gore in full color, the inker would have run out of red pens. And yet, then there are also panels of detached calm, depicting a man quietly drinking a beer, and we forget for a moment what happened the page before.

It's the familiar, desperate story of a killer who wants out of the game, and the lengths he'd go to get out.…