“Old Bear” by Jane Hissey (Tundra Books, 2013)

Old Bear

First published in 1986, Old Bear has been made available for children for a number of years, and has now been released in a beautiful limited collector’s edition.

Bramwell Brown, a cuddly little bear, has lots of fun hanging out with his friends: Duck, Rabbit and Little Bear, but like his friends, he does miss Old Bear. Old Bear is no longer with them, because he was being handled too roughly by the children and so has been put up in the attic, away from those harmful hands. But the fluffy toys want their friend back, so they need to devise a plan to get up into the attic and rescue Old Bear and bring him back to them. It won’t be easy, but if they work together, they know they can do it.

A wonderful story that teaches important lessons about working together, and how even if you fail and fail again, it’s important not to give up, but to keep on trying, and eventually you’ll succeed. Done with beautiful artwork that brings the cuddly characters to life on the page, Old Bear is a story you won’t soon forget.

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

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


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“Saints” by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, 2013)


The companion volume to Boxers, the duology is the first graphic novel to make an appearance on the National Book award Longlist. Saints is the other side of the tale, focusing on a young girl and her journey across China after meeting briefly with Bao, and presents a completely different side to the Boxer Rebellion.

Four-Girl has had a tough life so far. She is the unwanted fourth daughter of the family who is expected to do her chores, work herself to exhaustion, and act like the dutiful child she is. But she knows she is hated by everyone, with her ugly features, and wants to just be the evil little devil everyone thinks she is. So she does the worst thing she can think: she converts to Christianity and begins to learn about the faith from one of the foreign devil priests. She takes a new, Christian, name, Vibiana. But the Boxer Rebellion is ramping up, going against and slaughtering her new Christian people, to defend the Chinese of her family and heritage. Four-Girl will have to choose where her allegiances lie.

Saints is a wonderful tale of the other side of this tumultuous time, exploring the Christian side of events and creates a delightful quest in Vibiana going on her own journey, sometimes with the likes of Joan of Arc as a companion. The art and sparing use of color lend credence to the story, making it a memorable one.

Originally written on October 2, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

Derek Jeter Gets an Imprint, Great Indie Bookstores, Hunger Games Theme Park & More!

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On Monday, November 11th, Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael , where I am the assistant manager, opened its doors for the first time.

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“Boxers” by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, 2013)


From the author of the award-nominated graphic novel American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang, comes an epic and original undertaking on the catastrophic event known as the Boxer Rebellion. Yang uses an innocent simplicity to the story and artwork that leaves the reader contemplating the big picture. One part of a diptych, along with Saints, this is the first graphic novel ever to be nominated for the National Book Award Longlist.

The year is 1898 and the place is China, but the country that has been so familiar and known to its inhabitants is changing. Foreign missionaries roam the countryside, converting Chinese to the new Christian faith, while foreign soldiers roam around bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao is a young boy who has had enough of these “foreign devils.” Secretly learning martial arts from a stranger in town, he feels his calling from the old gods of China and recruits an army of Boxers. They begin to mount their defense, fighting back against the foreigners, killing and freeing the Chinese. Their final showdown will be at the great city of Peking.

Boxers does an excellent job of explaining the history of the period, as well as revealing the mythology and beliefs of the people in mounting their defense. While the story has a feel of fiction, it is a moving tale that remains true to the history and culture. It is an excellent example of how some graphic novels can go one long step further than just a regular work of nonfiction.

Originally written on October 2, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

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Opening Day for Copperfield’s Books San Rafael

Today is a special day. It’s opening day for Copperfield’s Books newest store in the city of San Rafael, located at 850 4th st. This will be the second bookstore I’ve played a big part in setting up and opening.

Almost a month ago I started working for the great Copperfield’s Books. I had previously worked for them from October 2003 to August 2005 in Petaluma. When I first saw the store it looked like a hollow shell with a lot of work left to be done and to believe it would be ready come November 11th required some stretching of the imagination. But I have almost a decade of experience working in bookstores, and I know the potential and abilities of a good team, especially one that has a love of books and working in bookstores.

knew we could do this.

And now, three weeks later we’ve gone from that dusty, dirty empty shell that didn’t have lighting or shelves or a single book to a beautiful ready bookstore that will be opening its doors to the public of San Rafael and beyond at noon today after a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony.

I hope to see you there.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland Books, 2013)

Cuckoo's Calling

Originally The Cuckoo’s Calling was supposed to be an experiment to see how well a catchy well-written mystery from a new author would sell and be read, but when someone in the know told the wrong person, the story broke out that Robert Galbraith was in fact a pseudonym for an author named J. K. Rowling. Rowling wasn’t happy about this, and someone probably lost their job over it, but the secret is out and sales for the mystery immediately went through the roof. Nevertheless, The Cuckoo’s Calling is a great example of what a good mystery is and shows Rowling’s breadth as the talented writer she is.

Cormoran Strike lost his leg in Afghanistan and is now a private detective who doesn’t really have any cases, has a lot of debt, and the love of his life just left him. He’s in a bad place and not sure where to go next. He gets a new secretary from the temp agency, who he can’t really afford, but she seems nice and he can’t say no to her at first.

Then John Bristow walks into his office who knows of him through a family connection. His sister, the rich supermodel, Lula Landry, known to her friends as Cuckoo, plunged to her death from her penthouse apartment months ago. The police ruled it a suicide, but Bristow doesn’t believe them. So he hires Strike to find out if she was murdered and who did it.

Strike may be in dire straits with a lot of things, and may not have much respect amongst his friends and family, as well as anyone else who knows of him, but he is a good detective. And with the help of his new secretary who quickly becomes fascinated by the work, they slowly put the pieces together and find out way more than they bargained for.

Rowling does a great job of writing a compelling novel in the style of Agatha Christie but with a good modern feel. The reader is kept hooked, wondering on the full story and who’s behind it all until the very end. The book is also listed as the first of the Strike series, so presumably Rowling will be penning more of these mysteries, and fans will no doubt be delighted.

Originally written on September 27, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Parasite” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2013)


With the completion of the Newsflesh trilogy that has earned Mira Grant some dedicated readers, she turns to a new series, this one a duology called Parasitology, leaving the zombies behind for now and taking on a perhaps more frightening and realistic subject: parasites. The time is the near future and the concept is what if we kept a tapeworm in our intestines, known as the Intestinal Bodyguard, which could help cure sickness and prevent things like allergies? Sounds great.  But what if these tapeworms became sentient and intelligent?

Sally came back from the dead; she suffered a horrible accident that essentially killed her but thanks to SymboGen she was brought back to life along with her Intestinal Bodyguard. She’s a different person now, changed from who she was; calmer, quieter, less likely to anger. She’s living with her parents again, still getting used to being alive and being a person once more. She has monthly visits with SymboGen as they continue to check on her and perform their experiments to make sure everything inside her is working fine. She works at an animal habitat center and she has a boyfriend; life for Sally now ain’t too bad.

Except things are starting to get weird; some people are starting to act not like people. They’re acting as if someone else is in control of them, turning violent against other people, really violent, and then falling into a sort of catatonic state. It’s seems totally random and no one really knows who’s going to get hit with this weird state next. And SymboGen isn’t saying if they know anything about this. But Sally knows they have to know something, and she’s going to need to work out what exactly is happening to these people and what can be done about it; because if it’s to do with the Intestinal Bodyguard, then this could happen to her too, at any time.

Grant uses a vaguely similar template for Parasite as she did with Newsflesh, and the reader can’t help but think of these people acting weird as being “zombielike,” but she presents plenty of fun surprises and explores some interesting concepts that leave the reader questioning just about everything, plus one gets to learn way more than they wanted about parasites, Mira Grant style.

Originally written on September 23, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

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