“Anomaly” by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin (Anomaly Publishing, 2012)

Anomaly
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Years spent in the making, Anomaly is a marvel of the graphic novel genre from Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin, using a combination of giant, vibrant pages bursting with detail and color, a riveting storyline, multiple fold out sections showing actions scenes and magnificent tableaux.  And there’s even a smartphone or tablet app to heighten the experience.

The year is the distant future, 3717.  Our world has taken to the stars and conquered them.  All nations, corporations and technologies have coalescent into an entity known as the CONGLOMERATE, which uses Enforcer Battalions to conquer alien races and planets to reap their wealth.  Jon has been discharged from the elite Enforcer Corps and jumps at the chance to be part of a first contact mission, along with Samantha, Jasson and others.  But on the planet of Anomaly everything can and does go wrong, stranding the group there.  They find themselves in the midst of a great war between good and evil.

The artwork is breathtaking, the color and detail engrossing, the design and actions scenes pull you in and never let you go.  The slightly weak point is the storyline, which becomes somewhat predictable.  But there is still a great big cast of interesting characters, albeit with stereotypical diversity.

Readers also get the opportunity to use the app on their smartphone or tablet that is used to scan certain pages during the reading of Anomaly and pops up a 3D image of the scene of a creature or character, showing them acting and reacting.  They can be poked and prodded like the seemingly holo-specimens they are, as well as opening up info files on them.  It’s a fun experience that really feels like something out of science fiction.  Overall, Anomaly is well worth the read; a most enjoyable experience, and one not soon to be forgotten.

Originally written on February 11, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

Bookbanter Column: Remembering James Herbert

There are probably not too many people familiar with James Herbert, who was the equivalent of Stephen King in Britain: a huge bestselling horror author.  He started from simple beginnings, as many writers do: he studied graphic design, print and photography and then worked at an advertising agency.

Then, in the early seventies, in just ten months, he wrote his first book, called The Rats.

The Rats is a horror novel set in London that brilliantly catches the feeling of the city at that time in the early part of the decade, and is about very ordinary people with very ordinary lives.

But then a new mutant form of rat evolves that grows to be the size of some small dogs. And these rats soon develop a hunger for human flesh and begin their attack on London, mercilessly killing.

It’s up to the people of London — at least those still alive who haven’t fled — to save the city and its survivors from these terrifying, giant, blood-thirsty rats.

The short novel sold 100,000 copies in three weeks and was later adapted into a movie. It would go on to be one of Herbert’s bestselling and most known books, much like with Stephen King and his debut novel (also short), Carrie.

Herbert wrote twenty-three novels over his career and sold fifty-four million copies around the world.

Herbert’s talents as a horror writer were in that he wrote about the things that terrify many people, or even things that are mildly scary that he turned into something horrifying. Some of these books include The Dark, which was literally about an approaching darkness that could kill you; and The Fog. 

Again, there is another similarity with Stephen King, who wrote the short story The Mist. And much like Stephen King, James Herbert would always use ordinary, non-superhero people with normal jobs in a setting and story that would push them to go way beyond their average lives.

Herbert also had a talent for the ghost story and the tale of the haunted house. A number of his novels were on this subject, including: Haunted, The Ghost’s of Sleath, Others, The Secret of Crickley Hall, and his last published novel, Ash, featuring a returning parapsychologist character of the same name.

Occasionally, Herbert would try something completely different, like he did with Fluke, a book written entirely from the perspective of a dog.

Of course, with the continuing success of The Rats, he would also go on to write two sequels: The Lair, which brings new untold horrors of giant killer rats, this time going outside of London; and Domain, set in a future London where there has been nuclear war, and some people have survived, as well as the aforementioned giant killer rats.

Now, with his passing on March 20, 2013, the world has lost a great storyteller, who could take you to the edge of the darkness and beyond, but then bring you back at the end, nice and safe. Though, as is the case these days with prominent authors dying, I’m sure he has another book or two sitting around that he wrote earlier in his career, or was currently working on that will get completed by someone, and eventually published.

Originally published on Forces of Geek.

Book Report: Supreme Court Decisions, Frommer’s Stops Print Editions, Indie Bookstores & More

Remembering James Herbert 
International bestselling British horror writer, James Herbert, has passed away.

Tales of the Seven Djinni 
Mike Carey (Lucifer, The Unwritten) has collaborated with his wife and daughter and published a new novel, Tales of the Seven Djinni.

The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores 
While Barnes & Noble may be in trouble, independent bookstores are doing very well for themselves.

“Name Game” Contest 
Jeff Carlson, author of the Plague Year trilogy, is making an offer to readers and fans to help copyedit his book The Frozen Sky and someone might become a character in the story.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]

“The Joy of Sexus” by Vicki León (Walker Books, 2013)

Joy of Sexus
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Vicki León certainly seems to have an ability for discovering and unearthing the bizarre and unusual, no matter what moment in history it seems to be from.  She has written and published books for children, as well as adults, known for her popular anecdotal volumes, Uppity Women and Working IX to V, she now turns to a hotter and more illicit subject in The Joy of Sexus.  Many people have heard certain “things” and “rumors” about what certain Romans, or Greeks, or Egyptians or people of the ancient world were up to during those pre-Christian times.  In this book, León puts this all to rest with supplied evidence and confirmation or denial of what you might’ve heard or thought you knew to be true.

León is methodical in her approach with The Joy of Sexus, categorizing and laying the details out in an organized manner.  She begins with “The Birds, the Bees, & the Body Parts,” covering subjects like aphrodisiacs of the ancient world, circumcision, contraception, pregnancy, and abortion.  On numerous occasions León begins with the history, and then links it with either contemporary times or particular times when some of these strange practices were en vogue.  Each entry is usually only a couple of pages long, giving the reader the salient and lascivious details, but not dawdling on for too long.  Some of the other subjects covered in this book include: masturbation, pornographers, prostitution, Helen of Troy, eunuchs, hermaphrodites, adultery, divorce, gladiator sex lives, menstruation, sexual preference, and so much more.

Perhaps the key to The Joy of Sexus is that it is a short (320 pages) and small book that can easily be concealed in public, and by the same token with the short entries and thorough and exact contents listing, a particular section can easily be turned to and read, and the book quickly secreted away again.  Whether you intend to take snippet reads of this book during your daily agenda, or plan to hide out somewhere and read it from cover to cover, the knowledge you will learn from this book will make you the envy at every gala and ball.  The Joy of Sexus is also a great ice breaker and conversation starter for parties and social events, or perhaps even a first date.

Originally written on February 19, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

Getting Under Your Skin: An Interview with A. J. Colucci

Author A. J. Colucci

A.J. Colucci spent 15 years as a reporter, magazine editor and writer for corporate America.  Today she is a full time author of science thrillers, stories that combine true science with the riveting plot and breakneck pace of a thriller. Her novel THE COLONY received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, noting, “Michael Crichton fans will hope that this is but the first of many such outings from the author’s pen.” Visit her website  or find her on Twitter.

Alex C. Telander: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A. J. Colucci: For as long as I can remember. I think if I’d had a pencil in utero, I would have come out with at least a couple short stories.

Alex: Where did the idea for The Colony come from?

A. J.: I was watching a Discovery Channel special on killer ants and got hooked. It was mesmerizing to see a colony of 22 million African driver ants, working like a military unit, to take down every living creature in a farmer’s field.  I knew it would make a great book.

Alex: What sort of research did it require?

A. J.: Science thrillers require an enormous amount of research. I started in the library and then spent about a thousand hours on the internet. But I’m an information junkie so subjects like ant morphology and pheromone manipulation are incredibly interesting to me. I was lucky enough to have a few first-rate entomologists and a military expert to verify my facts.  I think I probably qualify for some kind of entomology degree.

Alex: Do you plan on writing any sort of sequel or using some of the characters in a future book?

A. J.: I am so busy working on other projects right now, but maybe someday Paul and Kendra will have another adventure.

Alex: How possible in today’s world is the core concept of The Colony?

A. J.: Insect warfare goes back to biblical times, and even earlier. I’ve read that early humans threw bees nests into caves like a primitive form of tear gas.  In the 1950s the U.S. military did a lot of testing of entomological warfare, including operations Big Buzz, Big Itch and Drop Kick. You can look it up – I kid you not.  Testing for Big Itch involved dropping fleas from the air in cluster bombs. At least one test failed when the fleas were accidentally released into the aircraft and they attacked the crew. I believe Big Buzz and Drop Kick used mosquitoes.

Alex: What do you hope readers get from reading your book?

A. J.: Mostly entertainment.  There’s plenty boredom, monotony and despair in the world, so if a book can sweep you into an exciting adventure for a few hours, that’s great. You can get your chills and thrills without having to jump out of an airplane. Of course, it would be nice if readers considered my underlying message of faith in humanity. Ants work for the good of the colony, never for themselves. We could use some of that.

Alex: Do you have plans for your next novel?

A. J.: I’m actually in the first round of edits on my new novel, which is coming out Spring 2014 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s another science thriller about a group of people who come to a remote island in Nova Scotia for the reading of a will, but the island starts to have strange and violent effects on the characters. I like to write about nature because it can be a brutal place—kill or be killed—but it’s also filled with a sort of beauty and logic that makes humans look ridiculous.

Alex: Do you still write nonfiction?

A. J.: Unfortunately there’s not enough time. I think most authors would agree that establishing oneself as a novelist is a full-time job. A single book takes at least a year, and I hope to write many.

Alex: Is it hard to switch between writing fiction and nonfiction?

A. J.: Not for me. The two are so different and require separate parts of the brain. Although much of The Colony was based on fact, so it felt like writing non-fiction at times. For instance, I interviewed a former director at the U.S. Department of Defense about the best way to destroy the ants – he took it very seriously and suggested a neutron bomb, and then he gave me information on deployment and damage.  I also had an entomologist from the USDA brainstorm with me on how to get the pheromones spread over the city.  So when I sat down to write those chapters it felt realistic.

Alex: Was there a particular reason you chose to use “A. J” for your published name?

A. J.: The initials A.J. are meaningless, but I chose a pen name because I’m a private person and the idea of splashing my name all over the place was jarring. Also, my genre is a tough one for women to break into. I didn’t want to turn off guys that were more comfortable reading names like Michael Crichton, James Rollins and Scott Sigler.

Alex: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A. J.: Besides the three I just mentioned, I’ve built up an endless list over the years in thrillers, horror, literary fiction and old classics. Vonnegut, Orwell, Baldacci, Lehane, Atwood, Hosseini, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky. My tastes run amok.

Alex: What do you like to read?

A. J.: I’ve always read a lot of literary novels and but when I’m writing, which is most of the time, I tend to read thrillers.

Alex: What are you reading at the moment?

A. J.: I just downloaded Gone Girl because when a book is a runaway hit, I just have to know why.  Sometimes I never figure it out. Like with Fifty Shades of Grey. What’s up with that?

Alex: What do you like to do in your spare time?

A. J.: I do things with my family, take the kids on a hike or to the beach. I like getting together with other authors, something that’s new to me and such a huge privilege. It’s one of the few perks of being published.  Other than that, I’m reading or writing.

Alex: So if the events of The Colony really happened, what would you do?

A. J.: I guess prepare to die, because realistically there’s is nothing in our arsenal that could stop them.

Book Report: Michael Vick Gets Dogged, Amazon Wants .book & More!

Way of Kings Ebook $2.99 
Leading up to the release of it’s sequel, Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings is now only $2.99.

More Objections to Amazon 
Amazon continues to face heat in trying to secure the .book domain name, as well as others.

To Lure Buyers Away From Amazon 
Waterstone’s has come up with an ingenious endeavor with bestselling author Joanne Harris to focus sales on independent bookstores.

An Oddly Modern Antiquarian Bookshop 
A hipster’s dream, this little bookshop in Toronto is far more than it appears.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]