Goal Achieved: “I’m on the cover of a book!”

Today I discovered I’ve achieved one of my goals.  I’ve been reviewing books now for over ten years, starting in 1999 for the Long Beach Union.  During the month of March I will likely hit the 300 review mark for the BookBanter site, and while my initial goal with reviewing books has always been to critique what I’ve read and then to interest and entertain (and in some cases warn) readers about various books, I have also been looking to gain a popularity and notoriety with my book reviews, and now with my BookBanter podcasts.  And now I’ve achieved another goal in getting a quote of one of my reviews not only mentioned in a book, but featured on the front cover, which is more than I could wish for.

The book in question is the recently released Amber Benson’s Cat’s Claw, the sequel to Death’s Daughter which I reviewed for the Sacramento Book Review almost a year ago.  Here’s the review, and below is an enlarged photo of the book cover with a quote from my review on it.

Cat's Claw

This is great for the Sacramento Book Review, but also makes me feel pretty great.

And the longer quote featured on the first page is: “Amber Benson does an excellent job of creating strong characters, as well as educating the reader on some great mythology history . .  a fast-paced and very entertaining story.”

Feeling pretty psyched right now.

And for anyone interested in revisiting, or perhaps checking out for the first time, my interview with Amber Benson, click here.

“Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show, Volume 1” by Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing, 2006)

Great and Secret Showstarstarstar

It’s always interesting to see how graphic novel adaptations of complex and long books are going to turn out.  Thankfully, Ryall’s and Rodriguez’s adaptation of Barker’s book is one that he can be proud of, and will make fans happy.  For a summary of the novel, see my review for The Great and Secret Show.

The key here is that this is the first volume in an at least two-volume series, because the forty or fifty pages would not be able to cover the whole story.  What’s so refreshing is the art.  Clive Barker has a very vivid imagination and to see these crazy and complex images show in art form, rich with color and detail, is a truly enjoyable experience.  Along with a brilliantly written script that manages to condense a six hundred page book – or three hundred in this case – into this slim graphic novel.

Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show is perfect for the fan of the book looking to see it done in a whole new way, as well as those not sure if they want to tackle a long dense book, and looking for a Cliffnotes version.  Of course, once they’ve read it, they will probably want to read the novel version, which of course is highly recommended.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on April 5th, 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall” by Bill Willingham, et. al. (Vertigo, 2006)

1001 Nights of Snowfallstarstarstarstarstar

Whether this is the first time you’ve looked upon the world of the Fables comic book series, or you’re an issue to issue addict (like me); 1001 Nights of Snowfall is a graphic novel that anyone can read and enjoy: Bill Willingham says exactly this in his introduction. Working with a host of different artists, including Mark Buckingham (who illustrates the series), John Bolton (Harlequin Valentine), Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother) and Charles Vess (Stardust, Ladies of Grace Adieu); 1001 Nights of Snowfall is the graphic novel you’ll want to own and show off to friends.

Featuring a collection of stories, the book is framed with Snow White’s meeting with a misogynistic Sultan who intends to kill her when he is through with her. To prevent this, Snow White must tell a new story to him each night to stay his lethal hand. From her stories we find out about Bigby’s (the big bad wolf from “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Three Little Pigs” fame) birth, his youth, and how he felt being the outcast of the family. We learn of an unusual story of a woman’s learning to defend herself with a sword coupled with the mysterious deaths of seven dwarfs. We learn about the life of a frog who was magically transformed into a prince, but then turned himself back into a frog to save himself as his wife and family were slaughtered. Then there is the story of the real Hansel and Gretel, showing in detail what really happened when the witch tried to cook them. The final story is about the animals of Fable banding together with Old King Cole to protect their realm.

With lots more stories to tell, 1001 Nights of Snowfall is the book you want for cold winter nights by the fire, when you can lose yourself in a world where the many characters you grew up reading about come to life and live everyday lives. And if, after this, you are looking for more, you might just want to start the Fables series from the beginning with Fables: Legends in Exile, available wherever graphic novels are sold.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on December 12th, 2006 ©Alex C. Telander.

Penny Arcade at Belmont Library 02/24/10

Yesterday I got to meet the great minds – Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins – behind the incredible popular Penny Arcade web comic.  They were at the Belmont Library in San Mateo for the second stop in their book tour for The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition (now available).

Penny Arcade book

The main reason I was there, other than to meet these fun and crazy guys, was to interview them for BookBanter, which went very well and was a lot of fun.  The interview is scheduled to run in Episode 29 on April 1st, which seems pretty fitting, being April Fools Day and all.  I’m also planning to have this be the inaugural day of the new site upgrade for BookBanter.  Fingers crossed on that.

After the interview, we hung out for a bit, while Jerry tried to convince me about how great ebook readers are, especially his Nook, and why I needed to get one because I love reading so much.  But I maintain that I also love books and while I wouldn’t say no to someone giving me an ereader, I don’t plan on acquiring one any time soon.  We also talked about Mike doing more reading now other than Star Wars books, and he’s currently very much enjoying The Name of the Wind by Patrick Ruthfuss, while Jerry’s mind is currently being blown by Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon.

Penny Arcade
Jerry Holkins scowling on the left, Mike Krahulik smirking on the right

The crowd came out in full to fill up the area of the library where they were having the Q&A and signing.

People 1

At their signing the night before at the University Bookstore in Seattle, there’d been 250 people.  I think at Belmont Library, that number was beaten.  All the chairs were taken, then all the standing room.  Then people began lining up in the aisles of books, trying to peak over the hardcovers and paperbacks to see through to the performance.  Many just hung further back and listened to the miked voices coming from somewhere across the room.

People 2

Mike and Jerry gave a great performance, signing books twenty minutes beforehand, then answering questions for over an hour and regaling everyone with entertaining stories, such as Jerry’s dangerous obsession with Felicia Day, or extolling the virtues of D&D, and then proceeded to sign books and chat and do photos for a lot longer, until everyone was happy and Mike and Jerry were completely exhausted.

People 3

All in all an entertaining night.  Here’s the rest of their book tour, along with PAX East in between.  As I said, the episode with their interview should be up on April first, at the conclusion of their tour.  And I would just like to thank the Belmont Library for organizing a room to do the interview in where we were relatively undisturbed (and the staff were great!), Dolores Gevertz for coordinating at the event, and most importantly April Flores from Random House for organizing and coordinating and make this all happen for BookBanter.