“Fables Volume 16: Super Team” by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Eric Shanower and Terry Moore (Vertigo, 2011)

Fables Super Team
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This new volume in the award-winning and fabulous Fables series features the familiar, amazing artists Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, and some well known guest artists with Eric Shanower and Terry Moore.  Shanower pencils an interesting introductory tale from fableland, while Terry Moore does the art of the moving final tale of “Waking Beauty.”

At the heart of the volume is the story of the “super team.”  Mr. Dark has Fabletown bowing to his whim, wreaking his evil and darkness, and must be stopped at all costs.  He is now growing his dominance in the land of fable, blocked by a protective force field by Flycatcher.  They’re going to need a crack team of really strong fables, the F-Men, to stop this Mr. Dark.  They’re going to need the likes of Werewolf Man, and The Golden Knight, and maybe the Green Witch.  They’ll need training and simulations to be ready, but ultimately someone much stronger will be needed to take down this master of darkness and fear.

Super Team does what every volume since the start has done: furthered the compelling story, as well as introducing new material and new fables, to keep the readers hooked.  The fresh art styles of Shanower and Moore add to the magic, making this volume a requirement for any fan.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables Super Team from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Last Dragon” by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay (Dark Horse, 2011)

Last Dragon
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Known kid’s and young adult author, Jane Yolen, teams up with artist Rebecca Guay to present a beautiful and captivating graphic novel story.  Two centuries ago the dragons were driven away from the Islands of May, or killed off, but there is one left who has now been awoken and is ravaging the towns, killing the people, with no hope of stopping the giant lizard.  It is up to an unlikely character: the healer has gone missing, presumed dead, in search of the dragon, and the healer’s daughter vows to avenge his death.  Meanwhile messengers are sent out to explore the lands for a true hero, one who can slay the dragon.  Some are found, but proved cowards, until the last who is just the sort of hero they’re looking for; only the man seems to be more of bluster and talk than of actual skill, strength and prowess.  The healer’s daughter and the supposed hero join forces, using their abilities and intelligence to come up with a way to defeat the dragon involving a most unusual and giant sized kite.

The art of The Last Dragon is enchanting, in the style of Neil Gaiman’s and Charles Vess’ Stardust, that has the classic feel of a beautifully illustrated story tale, combined with the moving story and some interesting characters that would never be brought together if it weren’t for the events of the story.  The Last Dragon is a great book to read to and show to children, as well as to be enjoyed by anyone who’s a fan of the fantasy genre.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

“The Sword Volume 1: Fire” by the Luna Brothers (Image, 2008)

The Sword
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Discovered on a recommendation from a friend, Fire is the first volume in the four-volume The Sword collection from the Luna Brothers.  The art style is good but not exceptional, the storytelling interesting in the way that great stories are: an captivating beginning that slowly deals out the details, hooking the reader in as they wonder what will happen next, until the full story is revealed to the reader’s complete and utter surprise.

Dara Brighton is an ordinary girl who has learned to live with being in a wheelchair very well, working her way through college and keeping her eye on the cute boys.  As she enjoys a hearty dinner with her family, three strangers of apparent strength and ability break into their home and accuse her father of hiding a secret sword.  He denies it, so the massacre begins as these strange assailants reveal their unbelievable powers, and Dara soon finds herself fighting for her life.  She ends up deep within the basement of her house; a place she hasn’t really searched before, and buried within it she finds the sword.  As she picks it up she feels the power run through her and miraculously stands up.

The first volume of The Sword series will hook any graphic novel fan, and the Luna Brothers reveal a good amount of explanation and back story at the end of Fire that will make the reader impatient to read the successive three volumes.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

How you can help spread the word about “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers”

  • You can find the link to the book here (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/123676), where you can buy the ebook for just $0.99, and also view a good sample of it.  You can share this link on Facebook, or any other social network, or by emailing it to friends and family.
  • If you’re interested in possibly reviewing Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, just drop me an email at alexctelander@gmail.com, and I’ll get a free review copy to you.
  • Free wallpapers and icons are available on the BookBanter site (http://www.bookbanter.net/books.html) and can be used as desktop or laptop backgrounds, and icons make great profile pictures whether it’s on Facebook, Google Plus, chat programs, or any number of other sites that use avatars.

The book will be up and available on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Itunes in a week or two.  Using one or more of the tools above will go a long way to spreading the word about Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers.

Thank you for all your help!

Alex.

“Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami (Random House, 2005)

Kafka on the Shore
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Internationally bestselling author Haruki Murakami is well known for his use of the fantastic in his novels, to the point where they could quite easily be classed as fantasy or science fiction books; at the very least the literary world likes to brand them as works of “magical realism.”  Kafka on the Shore is an excellent example of this and a good book to start on for those not too familiar with his work, as the world is well grounded before the fantastic appears in the story, broken up into shortish chapters so the reader doesn’t become lost.  The book also features one of the darkest and most horrific scenes involving cats that I’ve ever read.

There are two storylines in Kafka on the Shore.  One is of Kafka Tamura, who is sick of the pathetic excuse for parenting from his celebrity father, and runs away from home, embarking on his own adventure, meeting special and unusual people only Murakami could create.  He is in search of the identity of his lost sister, and looking to find out who his real mother is.  Kafka ends up working at a small library, where there is a middle-aged lady who could well be his mother, as well as a transsexual librarian who becomes a good and close friend.

And then there is Nakata, an old simple man who seems to be losing his marbles, but actually knows what he’s talking about and has his own journey to go on and complete.  He can also talk to cats.  After dealing with a problem he heads on his journey that skillfully brings him into the Kafka storyline, but it is not until near the end of the book that the whole story is revealed and realized.  While the story continues on a little too long, even though the story feels complete, Kafka on the Shore is a great example of the fantastic writer that is Haruki Murakami.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Kafka on the Shore from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Norwegian Wood

“Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers” Wallpaper & Icons

As promised, here you can get your free Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers wallpaper and icons, which are also available on the BookBanter site.

WALLPAPERS

To download wallpapers, right-click over your desktop size: 1024×768 or 1680×1050 (if you’re desktop of smaller, choose smallest size), and save. Alternatively, you can click on the size and it will open the large wallpaper, and once it’s loaded you can right-click and “Set as Desktop Background.”

Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers Wallpaper

1024 x 768

1680 x 1050

ICONS

To download icons, simply right-click over the image and hit save.

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A Wallpaper Coming Soon to a Desktop or Laptop Near You . . .

Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers

I’ll be working this weekend on making up a wallpaper of the cover of Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, which I hope to have available on Monday.  You’ll be able to download it for free on the BookBanter site, or you can email me at alexctelander@gmail.com.

“African-American Classics” edited by Tom Pomplun (Graphic Classics, 2011)

African-American Classics
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Graphic Classics is known for publishing some truly great graphic novels, adapting and collecting graphic tales of works from such renowned authors as Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, Mark Twain, H. G. Wells and H. P. Lovecraft to name a number of them . . . notice a certain characteristic in common with all these white men?  In their latest volume, number twenty-two, they have published one of their most important yet: African-American classics.

This illuminating collection features original works from Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, James Weldon Johnson, and many more; adapted by various writers, and a number of different artists, bringing each individual tale to life and prominence.  What makes this collection even more enjoyable is that it is comprised of not just short stories, but also lots of poetry, breaking up the feel of back to back stories with entertainingly illustrated poetry as interpreted by the artist.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of African-American Classics is that it features in most cases an all-black cast of characters, which I can say I haven’t seen before in any other graphic novel I’ve read.  Seeing black characters at all in graphic novels can be rare, but hopefully this collection will help to change this sad lacking in today’s comic books.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of African-American Classics from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“2012 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market” edited by Adria Haley (Writer’s Digest Books, 2011)

2012 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market
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In the 2012 version of Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market — the 31st Annual Edition — perhaps more so than ever, the key to the 600+ page book is its ease to navigate through it to help the user/reader get the information they need as quickly as possible.  It begins with a thorough contents listing and a “how to use this book” guide, along with the detailed index, finding that necessary publisher or magazine is a cinch.

This volume features articles divided into sections: “Craft & Technique” includes “Avoiding Cliches,” “Writing Authentic Dialogue,” and “Crafting Short Stories” to name a few; “Fiction Genres” on “Romantic Author Roundup,” with specific articles on authors like Julia Quinn, Lisa Gardner, Michael Swanwick and Ken J. Anderson; as well as “Managing Work” covering “Agent,” “Self-Publishing” and “Practical Tips for the Nighttime Novelist.”  The “Resources” section helps clue in every kind of writer on terms and organization, even with a special section for Canadian writers.  The editor has even included a whole section called “Writing Calendar,” featuring a page for each month of the year, as she talks about the importance of goals, and there’s a page for each month to help the writer hit his or her goals.

The layout of the publishers and magazines makes it quick and easy to find a contact email or website, which is crucial in this technological age.  This edition also includes a free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com (www.writersmarket.com).  The volume has been thoroughly updated and made ready for the advent of the ebook and self-publishing revolutions, providing many necessary tools and references for today’s writer.  Whether you’re a novelist with plenty of books under your belt, or a first-time freelance writer looking to publish that first piece, 2012 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market is a simply must have book.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of 2012 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

GUEST POST: “The Other Character: Setting” by Ryder Islington

The Other Character: Setting

Ryder Islington

Ryder Islington

One of my favorite parts of writing a novel is creating a world. My debut novel, Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, is set in a small fictional town, Raven Bayou, in southwest Louisiana. I loved laying out a map of the town, naming the streets and shops, and placing it in just the right location in the South.

Setting can be considered a character if you give it character. Raven Bayou has a Courthouse Square, a city park, and two casinos on the river. It is mostly a quiet town. The casinos are there for those passing from New Orleans, west into Texas. Instead of a police force, it is serviced by the county sheriff’s department. There is a ritzy neighborhood, including a horse ranch owned by a villain, and a Cajun neighborhood where that thick pigeon French/English language spoken.

Choosing a location for placing the town was easy. I wanted it to be in the deep South where my one African-American homicide cop had to cope with prejudice on all fronts. And since the world seems to love New Orleans, I thought being within driving distance would give me options. But I didn’t want to use New Orleans itself. I’d rather create my own town.

This location also allowed me to bring up the way women are treated in the South. In truth a lot of the men place their women on pedestals. Unfortunately, many women, while worshiped and treated like ladies, are also considered unable to do what men do. They don’t belong on the streets as cops. So that was perfect for my female cop. Never mind that she has had major problems in her past. Now she has to deal with men who don’t appreciate her presence.

Writing a novel allows us to create whatever we want, as long as it’s believable. We can use the climate, the political and religious beliefs of the region, the land, water and animal life.

In chapter on of my book there is a crime scene just outside the city proper. A dirt road with houses a half mile apart on one side and a verdant jungle on the other. Pastures with horses, out buildings used for storage, for garden tools, for chicken coops.  And of course, the ever present humidity of Louisiana. If it’s not raining, wait a minute. If your clothes aren’t sticking to you, you must be inside under the a/c.

Location can be a vital part of your story. It can be used to hide things, to make things more difficult for characters, to cause accidents, or create excuses. Every part of the location can be used. The local entertainment: rodeos, theaters, lake resorts, casinos, land and wildlife for hunting, rivers for fishing. The landmarks: Courthouse, sheriff’s department, casino, bayou. The language: French Cajun, pigeon English, Southern slang. Expectations: Blacks are ignorant, women are weak, men are supposed to fight and drink, and be protectors. It’s okay to go there. You can even create that one person who doesn’t fit in, who constantly fights the locals, trying to break the stereotypes and another who is so entrenched in local beliefs that he or she will never change. And just for fun, add a person or two who fakes the local prejudices just to avoid arguments. Make the place real. Make it breathe. Sprinkle in the local color. Think about where you live. Write it down. Practice bringing that to life, and then do the same with your setting.

 
Ultimate Justice

Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery is receiving rave reviews from readers.

The small town of Raven Bayou, Louisiana explodes as old money meets racial tension, and tortured children turn the table on abusive men. FBI Special Agent Trey Fontaine returns home to find the town turned upside down with mutilated bodies. Working with local homicide detectives, Trey is determined to get to the  truth. A believer in empirical evidence, Trey ignores his instincts until he stares into the face of the impossible, and has to choose between what he wants to believe and the ugly truth.

A graduate of the University of California and former officer for a large sheriff’s department, RYDER ISLINGTON is now retired and doing what she loves: reading, writing, and gardening. She lives in Louisiana with her family, including a very large English Chocolate Lab, a very small Chinese pug, and a houseful of demanding cats. She can be contacted at RyderIslington@yahoo.com or visit her blog at http://ryderislington.wordpress.com