Book Report: Summer Reads, Gabriel Garcia Marquez RIP, Indie Bookstores & More!


The famous author of A Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in a Time of Cholera – to name a few — passed away this past week at 87.
Six indie bookstores that are doing well and how they’re doing it.
Once again the battle is waged, but those in the biz say they shouldn’t be pitted against each other, but exist in a peaceful coexistence.

The Phantom of the Maine Library
The Maine State Library at first thought it had its own specter floating along its halls, but then discovered the truth.

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“Saga Vol. 1” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics, 2012)

Saga Volume 1

Brian K. Vaughan impressed the world with his fun and bestselling comic book series, Y the Last Man. Now he returns with a new series, partnering up with a female artist once again, this time with Fiona Staples, in Saga. A space opera science fiction original that at heart is a simple story, but is surrounded by a complex world with fascinating characters and a mythology that immediately sucks in the reader and always leaves them wanting more.

Marko is a ram-horned alien while Alana is a moth-winged alien. Their people have been fighting each other for a long time, to the point where their own worlds now choose to fight each other on other planets in distant galaxies. But Marko and Alana are unusual in that they are madly in love with each other. The first volume of Saga opens with the birth of their child and begins to be told from her viewpoint at an older age as she looks back on this tumultuous time.

It is soon discovered that these two opposite aliens not only love each other but have created a supposed abomination and they must be stopped at all costs. And so bounty hunters are employed to end them and cover up this horrific union that should never have happened.

Vaughan and Staples have clearly had a lot of fun creating a unique world with some very strange alien characters that are both interesting and enjoyable, such as a giant cat named Liar Cat, because it always knows when you are lying and will be sure to tell you. After reading this first volume, you won’t be surprised to discover it was one of the biggest selling graphic novels in 2012 and 2013, as well as winner of a number of awards. And thankfully, volume 2 is already out for you to get your hands on.

Originally written on April 19, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Saga Volume 1 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Snoopy: Cowabunga” by Charles M. Schulz (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013)

Snoopy Cowabunga

Snoopy is a timeless comic strip by the late and great Charles Schulz that has entertained many children and adults for decades, in fact many of those children who became adults continued to read the comic strip series, and continue to do so to this day with its reprints in the Sunday editions of newspapers.

Snoopy: Cowabunga is a great sample collection of why this is such a timeless and entertaining comic strip, featuring in addition to Snoopy and Woodchuck, well known characters like Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus. This volume features the series of Snoopy as a beagle scout who soon gets lost in the woods and needs to get rescued, as well as addressing his questionable abilities at tennis, his participation in the Daisy Hill Puppy Cup, and many strips on Snoopy’s talent as a writer with his goal to get published.

Whether you’re a Snoopy-reading veteran, or you’re trying the comic strip for the first time with this volume, it will delight you with the highs and lows, bringing a laugh at every page, as well as imparting some useful life lessons.

Originally written on November 5, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Snoopy: Cowabunga from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book Report: Amazon Buys ComiXology, Where In The World Is Westeros, Bookstore Bars & More!


World Book Night is quickly approaching and Shelf Awareness gives you all the info you need as well as news about a free ebook.
Bestselling epic fantasy author Tad Williams has announced he is writing a sequel trilogy to his groundbreaking debut trilogy, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.
Five awesome bookstore-bars you won’t want to miss.



 [This is the fourth installment in a series. The whole series can be found here.]

One of the most impressive and entrancing aspects of S. (and part of its brilliance) the many layers that the overall book possesses, each to be appreciated and studied by the reader of the book. There is the actual text of Ship of Theseus, then there is the concept of the translated work, then there are the footnotes of the translator. This is the first level, if you will, of the reading containing a number of different layers to be contemplated by the reader.

Next there are the pencil notes of one of the characters reading the text at a young age, then there are the pen margin notes made by this same character later in life and the female character he is corresponding with as they discuss both the text and their own personal feelings and events in their own lives. This is the next level.

Finally there is the level of the reader, taking this all in, in its many different aspects, putting it all together and deciding from there what the story is telling them.


While it has been hinted at in the previous chapters that there is something developing between the two characters making their comments in the margins, and I’ve discussed this in previous installments in the series, it is in this chapter, the third chapter of Ship of Theseus, that this relationship is made clear as something blossoming between the characters over the reading of this text, as they become more open with each other, sharing personal details from their lives, and being outright flirty with their commentary.  This is also played upon by a relationship taking place within the text of Ship of Theseus, and the characters reading it, discussing it and playing around with it, as they hint at their evolving feelings for each other.

Adding a level of realism with the notations in  the margins, the characters even make simple illustrations or doodles at points, much as we all have done when our interest begins to waver and we find ourselves wanting to create something from scratch on an empty square of paper. It adds to the level of detail put into the development and making of this book, even down to occasional smudges of the ink, leading to the possibility that the character writing the particular notation might be left-handed.


At this point of reading S. I got the sense that I was reading an important scholarly text, something out of classic literature that has been around for a number of years, perhaps even centuries, and after finishing the book, it might be worth a reread or two, perhaps right away, or perhaps after the passing of some time, so that the many subtle levels of the story can be better appreciated, once all the details from start to finish are fully known.

It is also in this chapter and a sliver of fear is introduced to the characters reading the text, which is in turn passed on to the overall reader, as they discover alterations in the text that weren’t that way before, meaning since their last reading someone has come and made this alteration, such as the underlining of the word or sentence. It forces the reader to ask questions such as whether these readers of Ship of Theseus are being watched or observed in some way, and just how important this text truly is. It adds an growing element of risk to these characters which just serves to make it more thrilling for the reader of S. This is developed even further with developments happening to these readers in their lives, people they know getting hurt, others getting killed who are in some way related to this text.


And with the development of the chilling and dark in S., it seems only warranted that there a reader should have an ideal playlist to accompany the reading. So here are some suggested playlists from Songza to add to the mood of reading S. 

Dark & Twisted

Dark Side of the Synth

A Lynchian State of Mind

“The Martian” by Andy Weir (Crown Books, 2014)

The Martian

Mars is one of those planets that no matter how many books are written about the big red planet, be they fiction or nonfiction, science fiction and astronomical readers and fans will never be satiated. But while a number of novels have been written about our red neighbor, none of them have been written quite like Andy Weir’s The Martian.

Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars, as a member of the élite Ares crew. Then a dust storm threatened the crew and their equipment and the plug was pulled and the order given to return home, which everyone did except for Mark who suffered an accident and was hit by a flying piece of metal. His vital signs no longer showed any life and the crew made the call and left Mars to return to Earth.

Except Mark didn’t die and was able to get himself into the habitat the crew had erected the short time they’d been on Mars. Then the real story of The Martian begins as Mark works out when the next Ares crew will be coming to the red planet – over four years from now – and what supplies and equipment he has to work with. As an engineer and a botanist, Mark has the skills and tools he needs, but he still has to do all the math and calculations and thinking to come up with, say, how he’s going to turn the floor of the habitat into a viable potato farm to help provide food, or use the components of the Martian rover to help him survive. And Mark is the sort of person who delights in showing you all his work, whether you understand it or not. The book kicks it into high gear when Mission Control final realize Mark is still alive and well on Mars and needs to be rescued for his sake and saving their own face in front of the people of Earth.

Andy Weir has a background in computer science, and clearly had a lot of fun putting in hard work researching and writing The Martian. Mark Watney is a fascinating character in that he is incredibly intelligent and comes up with brilliant ideas that he explains in detail to the reader. It’s as if Discover Magazine was reporting on the story of Mark Watney surviving on Mars. While it is told in first person journal entries, halfway through the book shifts its focus as a ridiculous rescue mission is conceived. Ultimately, The Martian is a book on one human’s will to survive at any cost, how he MacGyver’s himself out of every situation using intelligence and critical thinking, and is the sort of science fiction that science geeks (who are all pretty much science fiction fans anyway) absolutely love.

Originally written on March 24, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Martian from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book Report: Book Spoilers, Literary Cities, Return to Hogwarts & More


J. K. Rowling is hard at work on a spin-off Harry Potter series focusing on Colin Creevey.
Looking for a reading challenge? Check out Book Riots best 100 novels.
In memory of Tom Clancy, on opening day the Baltimore Orioles wore commemorative patches for the bestselling author.
Publishers Weekly has named San Francisco’s Green Apple Books as the bookstore of the year.