This Charming Man: A Neil Gaiman sighting and signing...from last year.

I finished reading a book recently, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a terrific book, yes, but that part will have to wait.

Firstly, I wanted to talk a bit about the author, this book's author. This Charming Man. Isn't that the name of a Smiths song? Neil Gaiman is a charming man, there is no denying that. One doesn't have to go far on the internet to find praise from scores of fans of both his fantasy and some of the highest regarded comics ever written.

At a past New York Comic Con I've attended a Neil Gaiman event, not the first time I've seen him speak, he is wonderful listen to, a natural storyteller, pulling you into his world effortlessly with his charming accent (there it is again).

We waited in line as it was listed that the first 500 people in line would receive a book. What we didn't know was that as we were waiting, Neil was feverishly scribbling his signature away, on not one, but two books, so that each of the first 500 would leave with two signed copies. While we waited in line, we noticed a door to one of the back rooms was open, and low and behold, there he was, feverishly signing books. 

This photograph was taken by my wife, Fotini, from that line as we waited. There's Neil at a table scribbling his signature so that us huddled masses could leave each with two signed new books.

A gentleman, that one.

I love the woman racing by out-of-focus on the right side of the photo, it's almost ghost-like, which seemed appropriate being in line waiting to hear Neil speak about fantastical stuff, his writing, both really.

This little snippet of a post is a lead-in to a longer follow-up post, which I hope to have up soon, where I aim to discuss my thoughts on The Ocean at the End of the Lane, where I first heard Neil speak about the book at this very panel at New York Comic Con. Maybe I'll talk more about the panel too. I've got notes somewhere.


NY Comic Con 2013 is Here

Even though NY Comic Con only started a handful of years ago, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Less than 10 years old, and attendance has surpassed 100,000 attendees, and getting a convention badge has become—almost—as difficult as it's older brother con, San Diego.

I'll be in attendance this year, as part of my work for DK, and also to help out in our booth, meet with some of the peeps I do business with, and also scour the floor for items of interest as I say hello to friends in the industry.

Later today (Wednesday), I'll be attending COMICS AHEAD! The ICv2 Conference at New York Comic Con—a special event and report on the "state of the industry" which covers trends in the marketplace and the shifting landscape of comics. As a professional I've attending this conference since it began, and now that I'm working with licensed books, comics reference books, etc., I've found this event informative as  both a bookseller and a comics patron. If you'll be in attendance, look for me in the seats and stop by and say hello.

I thought I'd mention a few other items of interest (from the TONS there is to do at the con). So much to see, so little time.

On Friday, my pal and Del Rey NY Times best-selling author, Peter V. Brett, will be signing at the Science Fiction Book Club booth (#2020) both his Demon War series as well as his Red Sonja comics from Dynamite, a co-sponsor of the SFBC booth. He's got a few exciting panels too, check them out here.

Also, I just saw on twitter that Sean Howe, author of my favorite non-fiction book of the year, MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY, will be signing shiny new copies of the paperback edition on Friday, October 11 at 4:30 pm at the HarperCollins booth (#2118 - 2119). I loved this book, and although I'll admit I am obsessed with the history of American comics and read almost everything published on the subject—I also liked a book Howe edited back in 2004 Give My Regards to the Atomsmashers,(published by Pantheon)—trust me when I say that any fan of Marvel Comics will find something of interest in his comprehensive look at Marvel's legendary and checkered past.

There are tons of things to do on Saturday, although I will not be in attendance that day due to other commitments, but here are a few things I wanted to point out. The talented Robb Pearlman will be signing copies of his new book, 101 WAYS TO KILL A ZOMBIE (illustrated by Dave Urban) at the Rizzoli booth (#1142). This fun book is an illustrated romp through inventive ways to take care of the zombie threat in your life. The cover says it all, death by unicorn! 

I've not even covered panels which are bursting at the seams, it kills me that I'm missing Saturday. I should mention that Dark Horse announced Kazuo Koike, co-creator of LONE WOLF & CUB at 10 AM,  Geof Darrow at 11 AM talking SHAOLIN COWBOY, and my hero, Matt Wagner in a special 30th Anniversary of GRENDEL panel (Vivat!). Details can be easily found online.

I'm always a bit giddy when NYCC rolls around. Even though it is a long weekend of work and fun, this big New York show was a long time coming and it is clearly here to stay. See you on the show floor! 


Books and Star Wars

I really enjoy a good book and I love Star Wars, so when this amazing combo came together as Star Wars Reads Day--this guy loved the idea. I'm constantly using different Star Wars books to teach my son about the excitment of reading, going on adventures and how to steer clear of bounty hunters (or join them).

[this picture of a Star Wars Reads Day t-shirt on my desk at work with my collection of Fett figures]

Reading and a love of Star Wars goes way back for me, as far back as I can remember actually. I found what may have been one of my first books purchased via a Scholastic or Troll book club flyer back in the late 70s--which I still have. Picture to come some time soon.

If you get the chance to get to a book store, library or comic book shop tomorrow (the 5th) you may unexpectedly run into a great Star Wars experience, perhaps if the force is strong with you.


Snapshots from a bookish life

Random bookshelf photo while in the field today:

Posman bookstore at Chelsea Market... I see some DK LEGO goodies on that shelf. #proudtobeDK


Always Starting, Never Finishing...

I have a serious issue, a byproduct of my former life as an editor for the Science Fiction Book Club (and other assorted clubs in my ten years there). I start more books than I finish. On average, I am reading approximately 4 or 5 different books, and only a small number of them will see completion. This is a result in having worked for years reviewing material all of the material being published within a specific genre and never finding the time to finish as many books as I'd like. I am not one of those people that read only one book at a time, not for as long as I can remember. 

This is a problem that plagues me to this day, in my newest form of publishing professional self: I am always reading a few things simultaneously. I don't always get to the end of each one.

I've accepted it, this is sort of how I work. I read manuscripts for evaluation as freelance work, I occasionally bring home a mss from work at DK to better familiarize myself with the material for my job in sales, and I also read lots of different things for pleasure. Too much material, not nearly as much time.

So, where am I now with things? Let's take a look at a few things I'm reading. 

I was recently contacted by an editor at Black Hill Press, the savvy & geeky @ashleyeheaton, asking me review one of their new novellas, Sci-Fidelity by Alex Sargent and I'm enjoying the journey of protagonist, Ryan, whose obsession with classic pulpy sci-fi influences his own writing, as he explores the minefields of dating, maintaining friendships and his mundane, soulless job.

The press is a short form publishing collective, "founded on collaboration," as the front matter reads, that celebrates the all-too difficult to sell novella. I say bravo to them. The book also has striking jacket art, credited to Matthew Woodson.

I've also just started reading Cain's Blood by Geoffrey Girard from Touchstone. When I heard about the premise of the government cloning the DNA of a bevy of serial killers in order to create a new weapon... I couldn't wait to jump in--as I imagine that idea can only go wrong. Stay tuned on this one.

I'll write again soon with more of what I'm reading, or I won't but I hope to write more regularly. I've installed the Blogger app on my phone, perhaps this will help with the frequency.

This blog is personal and any topics, books or whatever other nonsense is written about is at the sole discretion of me, myself & I. Enjoy at your own risk and thanks for stopping by.


Amazing Finds [at Book Expo]: BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope and more

When I attended this year's Book Expo America about a month ago, one of my aims was to find graphic novels that I hadn't heard about. Although I'm always looking for books that I'd like, being a father has also changed the way I look for books, as I'm always building the bookshelf for my little guy.

I wasn't expecting to find a cool book like BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope, a book I really enjoyed, and something I know the little guy will dig when he gets a little older. That future book shelf just got a lot more awesome.

At "The New Graphic Novel" panel hosted by Calvin Reed--the comics man of Publisher's Weekly, sports aficionado and gentleman around town (seriously, this guy is everywhere) along with three comic book creators with new graphic novels coming out this Fall, discussed their projects. All had really cool books coming out, and I look forward to reading all of them. 

The three creators were Faith Erin Hicks (The Last of Us, Dark Horse), she came out of the webcomic world, and through sheer perseverance landed the gig at Dark Horse working on her first licensed tie-in project--which looks like great fun. Gene Yang (Boxers and Saints, First Second Books) is the man behind the award-winning, American Born Chinese, and his new book which retells the history of The Boxer Rebellion as told from both sides, and comes in a two-book slipcased edition, looks terrific. I will be pre-ordering soon.

Paul Pope's book, BATTLING BOY, grew from his feeling that his 12-year-old nephew may not have a great selection of comic book choices that don't include a long and complex back story (this from his comments in the panel). He wanted to create something fun and new, with a young boy as the star of the book, and weave in mythology, super powers and creepy nightmarish monsters and beasties. This book is fun and takes the reader beside BATTLING BOY's first adventure, thrown into the fire of his new role as hero. Like his dad.

I'm not going to spoil any more than that, but Pope's artwork is just amazing and quirky and I love it. When his Batman Year 100 came out a few years back, I was taken by his twisted spin on the dark knight and continue to reread that book time and time again.

This is only the first volume of a multi-book BATTLING BOY series and waiting for more will be torture (although I can't complain having already read an advance reader's copy). I'll be buying a hardcover when it comes out October 8th (it is being published in both hardcover and paperback) but I'm also quite proud of my advance copy which I had signed for the little  superhero in my life when I got the chance to meet Paul at the show. First Second also gave out very cool t-shirt with Pope's art of the little but fierce Battling Boy in front of a hoard of monsters. Very cool.


Summer Reading

As June draws to a close, and the full-on heat of July is upon us, I enter into a few key summer reads that I wanted to share here.

First off is the newest from Stephen King and Hard Case Crime, the pulpy-good murder mystery, JOYLAND. Taking place in an amusement park in 1973 (a very good year), this book is building up the excitement as I begin to learn about this elusive killer who struck years ago, and some workers at the park feel is still adding a haunting element to the park that lingers in all the dark corners.

I haven't even gotten that far into the book and I am hooked. Oddly, I am attempting to procrastinate as I don't want the book to end, and I keep reading other books to prolong the joy (pun intended) of this read, perhaps even making it last all summer long. I like to torture myself like that. And this book is sure to thrill. 

One additional note is that this books is ONLY available as a trade paperback at $12.95, with NO digital version available (at this time anyway). A bold move by Hard Case, and King supports the pulp-inspired roots of this imprint and agreed to a print only deal, which I was all too happy to support.

I also just received today, from the good folks at St. Martin's Griffin imprint, THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, Thirtieth Annual Edition, edited by the legendary Gardner Dozois. And that's right, THIRTIETH edition, this is the science fiction anthology still going strong.

Admittedly, I just received this copy (today) but already on the subway ride home, I dove into the first story "Weep for Day" by Indrapramit Das, a writer and artist from India, and I'll be floating my way through this massive hardcover for some time. His intriguing story has already pulled me in and I've only just begun.

I also must confess, I lingered in Dozois' detailed "2012 Summation" of all things science fictional, publishing, anthology, tv/movie related, it was comprehensive and for this publishing professional who thinks he has his finger on the pulse, also quite enlightening. There is a reason why he's received the Hugo Award fifteen times while the editor of Asimov's Science Fiction. Clearly I'll also have more to say about this one later in the summer as I've cleaved my way through the stories.

The third book that made it's way to my review table is WHITE FOREST by Adam McOmber. This book was just released in paperback by Touchstone (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) after having been released in hardcover in September 2012. I had missed it in hardcover and something about the title and the stark paperback cover drew me to ask for a review copy. This will be traveling with me throughout the summer. Keep an eye out for a full review when I'm done.

I've clearly a lot of reading ahead of me, and many long, hot summer weeks to get through these books as well as the assortment of other reads on my to be completed table. If you've found a great read for summer, throw it in the comments section, maybe I'll add it to my list and hopefully some of you may try one of these. Now, let me get back to my reading.


A short review of RAVEN GIRL by Audrey Niffenegger

I must admit, when I was first given a copy of this book by a friend, I was coming into it only knowing Niffenegger by the reputation of her novels, which I had not read, and by the film adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife, which I had seen several times as my wife is quite fond of it. But I recall hearing that she was not pleased with the film adaptation. I'll have to go back and read the novel to see what that was all about.

The book is beautiful, and also kind of sad. It is quite minimal in that the text is sparse and the images are used sparingly. It is tragic and also filled with possibility. It is a love story.

It begins with that of a postman wandering off the trail of his normal route, and finding a raven that he takes home. They fall in love and have a child, a hybrid, part girl, part raven. She feels lost, somehow not complete, and her story is a search for the part of herself that feels trapped inside her human frame.

The book is designed more as an illustrated short story, or fairy tale in this case, with pages of text, full pages of art, and other pages where there is text and art on the same page. Niffenegger's drawings are creepy and reminiscent of Tony Millionaire in her line work.

The packaging is beautiful, as Abrams books often are. The only sore sight for me is the back cover, blank except for an image of a crow at the bottom, it felt a bit like that space could have been used for a bit of descriptive text or at least a larger illustration. But that is just the book seller in me talking. Otherwise the design and packaging was superb. And I really thought it was an odd but cool book.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey... is coming today.

Today is the release date of Putnam's The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I've been fortunate enough to receive an early review copy, being a Penguin employee, and am almost finished with the post-apocalyptic novel...so there will be no spoilers from me. Plus in full disclosure I wanted to mention I work for the same company that publishes this book although I was in no way asked to write this post, I simply really like the book and felt it worth mentioning on my own, personal blog.

I will say, the novel is a thrilling and imaginative read about an attack that comes to Earth in a series of earth-shattering debilitating waves. And as the reader learns about each wave, we follow Cassie, and a few other survivors as they attempt to navigate the dangerous landscape and stay alive.

I've also managed to secure a hardcover edition, hot off the presses, to give away to one Bookrastination reader, if you're the first to answer this question, inspired by one of the best post-apocalyptic novels I've ever read: What is the item in a felt-lined box that the father finds when he swims out to the abandoned ship in The Road

I'll contact you via comments section if you're the winner and I'll be happy to send you the hardcover copy once we exchange mailing details.

Good luck and get out there and support this new and exciting book!

DEAR CYBORGS by Eugene Lim, a little review

I had read a great little article on LitHub.com about this new novel from Eugene Lim and went to seek it out. Soon after I had acquired...