“The Marvels” by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press, 2015)

Brian Selznick’s two previous works of incredible illustrated historical fiction (The Inventory of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck) revealed his talent for creating this new genre and art form, as indicated by their bestsellerdom and garnered awards. In The Marvels, he does the same thing again, making the reader anxious to get to the end to find what is fact and what is fiction, and what is the whole story behind everything . . . But at the same time they want to savor every page and never want it to end.

The Marvels is a book of two stories. The first is told almost completely in continuous imagery, a flickering movie-like effect of the boy Billy Marvel in 1766 who survives a devastating shipwreck and begins work at a London theatre. Then the reader gets to enjoy the Marvel family through the generations and the many great actors that are spawned until young Leontes Marvel who wants nothing to do with the stage.

In the other story, nearly a century later, Joseph Jervis has run away from school and home and is looking for his uncle in London to stay with for a while and get away from everything. When he finds his uncle, he convinces him to let him stay in the wonderfully unusual house of Albert Nightingale which is kind of a combination of Hearst Castle and Winchester Mystery house, filled with wonders and delights, along with some spooky artifacts that all tell of the great history of the Marvel family.

If The Invention of Hugo Cabret was a tale of history, and Wonderstruck was a tale of love, then The Marvels is a thrilling mystery tale that you won’t be able to put down.

Originally written on January 17, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

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Writing Goals for 2016

This year I’m expecting something to happen which will lessen my job work and give me more free time to do things like write. The problem is while I’m pretty sure this thing is going to happen in 2016, I have no idea when. So for now – and I know I say this every year I set my writing goals – I’m going to keep it short and sweet for goals with hopes of completing them all.

  1. Olague: My novel Olague is going to be my main writing focus for the year. I’d like to throw out something like “get half the book written” or even a third, but I know this is neither likely nor feasible with my current work and life schedule (of course, if the above thing happens that was hinted at that will change things a little). So I’m just going to say: get more writing done with Olague. Even if it’s just another chapter, at least something; though I hope it’ll be a lot more than one additional chapter.
  2. Stories: I’ve got two short story ideas kicking around in the noggin that I jotted down a few notes for in case they disappear entirely from my head. I’d like to get those two stories written in some form this year.
  3. Submit Stories: Continue submitting stories for publication each month, including editing and getting the long story that was written in 2015 submitted to at least one publication by the end of the year.
  4. Ostium: This is my podcast series I’m working on with a friend. The first episode script is written and ready and now it’s just a case of getting it recorded. For 2016, I’d like to get the first episode recorded and ready, and the scripts for the second and third episodes written.
  5. BONUS: So here’s a bonus goal, should I need something extra to work on. My novel White Horse is completed in first draft and has been waiting for some editing for a few years now, but I’ve never quite found the time to get around to it. I think the reason for this is because I felt it wasn’t quite right as the novel that it is. It’s taken me a while to figure out what this means and I think I finally have. I originally started the book as a novella, but then it grew into a novel. Now thinking on it for the last few years, while it was fun and interesting writing the whole book, I believe it still wants to be a novella, and needs to get edited down to that. So that can be the extra credit project for the year.

Book News: Rickman’s Literary Roles, African Comic Creators, Book Obsessions & More!


Rickman’s Bookish Roles 
In memory of the great Alan Rickman, here are some of his more “literary” roles.

The X-Files 
With the return of this fantastic show, here are some recommended titles to get you in the “I Want to Believe” mood.

City of Mirrors Trailer 
There’s a cool new book trailer for the conclusion to Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy.

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Review of 2015 Writing Goals

So let’s take a look at how well I held to my writing goals for 2015, which can often be interesting since work and babies and life often tends to get in the way. I’ve copied my listed goals that I posted February 5, 2015. And my 2016 review commentary is below each section in red.

Olague: Complete some beginning writing with my novel Olague. I’m still working on research, plotting and characterization, but my goal is to have some piece of writing to start off the novel completed by the end of the year, whether it’s the start of the first chapter, or the prologue, or something to kick off the novel. Ideally, I’d love to work on Olague for Nanowrimo, but with how busy my life is these days with a taxing job and a toddler, that isn’t very likely. But I hope to have most of the planning side of the novel done and some writing begun by the time the year is out, and then to get stuck into some heavy writing come 2016.

So Nanowrimo for Olague didn’t happen, unsurprisingly. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get another opportunity to do Nanowrimo again, at least in the near future with things like the aforementioned work, life and children. As much as I love writing, I won’t sacrifice time with my son for it. We’ll just have to deal.

Getting back to the writing goal. I did get all my research and outlining done and in the fall I got started with some writing. And then the Christmas season hit and my work days all of a sudden became 10-12 hours long and exhausting. However, I did get 4442 words of the manuscript written and completed the prologue and started chapter one, which I hope to be getting back to real soon, maybe even next week! So . . .


Ostium: I’ve had this podcast series project that I’ve been kicking around for the last six months. The first draft of the first episode is written and needs to get finished up and polished and then I’d love to get the first episode recorded and released by the end of the year.

This didn’t really happen. I did get a number of rewrites done on the first episode and get it to my satisfied finished edit, as well as outlining the rest of the series to some degree. Now it’s a case of getting the person to do the recording and start working on the finer details once it’s recorded. I’d like to have the first episode recorded and ready by summer or early fall, but because I’m depending on another person, it definitely makes things a little trickier. But I’m really happy with the shape the project took and where it’s headed. So . . .


Write Stories: My goal for the year is to get two short stories written. I got one started late last year that I want to get completed and maybe edited and start submitting by the end of the year. And then I’ve got another story idea I’ve been wanting to get down for the last couple of years and I feel 2015 is the year I’m actually going to write the sucker. Here’s hoping.

2015 was the not the year that I wrote that sucker in question down. But the other one I started grew and grew and grew and surpassed the 10,000 word mark, so technically it’s like three short stories in one. I was really happy with how the lengthy story turned out and this spring I plan to start editing and doing further drafts with plans to start submitting it in the fall. So . . .


Submit Stories: Continue submitting stories all around and lets see if we can get another one published somewhere.

This I did continuously throughout the year. Sadly, no takers. And it’s been really disappointing to see the lack of response at least with a plain rejection so I know I can submit the story elsewhere. I’ve had to wait three months and decide that’s a rejection and move on from there. This is definitely true for submitting mainstream fiction. But I’m sure it’s just the way things are now in the publishing world.


Bookbanter: It’s time the Bookbanter page had a bit of a face-lift and a new look. I’ve had the same theme on there since I started the WordPress page, so it’s time for a new look and to present access to my writing first and foremost, and then my reviews and interviewing, and make it all around more user friendly.

I did do this earlier on in the year, with a new masthead logo which I’m proud of, and happy with the whole look of the site, so yay!


Facebook: It’s time for a schism of sorts. I need to separate all the writing stuff from my actual personal Facebook page. So at some point I’ll be creating a professional page on Facebook for all my writing and Bookbanter stuff and then just have my personal Facebook account for, you know, personal stuff, like pics and videos of my kid; the usual.

In short: nope. I changed my mind halfway through the year about this, so . . .

Et. Al.: Anything else I get done in relation to my writing is all pure bonus baby!

I was happy with coming up with more story ideas and really waking up the creative juices with the walking part of my work (I’m a mail carrier) and how once I let my mind run free, it came up with a lot of cool stuff. 

Book News: 2016 Highlights, del Toro Goes Dark, Book Apps & More!


Book Present Exchange 
Not happy with another boring pair of socks you got for Christmas? How about you exchange it for a book?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Casting
Casting has been done for the new Harry Potter play and they were some awesome choices.

2016 Best Nonfiction 
Here’s a look at some of the best nonfiction coming out in 2016.

2016 Best Fiction 
And how about some of the fictional highlights for 2016? 

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Bookbanter’s Shape of Things to Come

So here’s how the rest of January and some of February is going to play out in all things Bookbanter, since the month is shooting by and we have some important posts to get done. It’s going to be a busy couple of months.

January 19 – Book News

January 21 – Review of 2015 Writing Goals

January 23 – Review: The Sandman: Overture

January 26 – Book News

January 28 – Writing Goals for 2016

January 30 – Review: The Marvels

February 2 – Book News

February 4 – Review: Saturn Run

February 6 – Bookbanter’s Best Books of 2015

At this point Bookbanter will regress to the usual three-post a week schedule with a weekly book news post, 1-2 book review posts a week, along with occasional writing pieces.

In February I’ll also be debuting “King Capsules,” which will be running monthly featuring one-paragraph reviews of various Stephen King books in each “capsule.”

Books Read in 2015

And so we come once again to the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, which means it’s time to look back at what we read in the past twelve months. As a mail carrier, I got to do a lot of driving during the days of 2015 and squeezed in a lot of audiobook reading. My goal for 2015 was to get more nonfiction read, which I did, and to up my books by female authors, which I also managed to do. Unsurprisingly, my ebooks read also went up. Below is a quick tally for these three categories.

Nonfiction: 7

Books by female authors: 12

Ebooks: 14

Books read in 2014 and previous years can be found here.


1 Black House Stephen King & Peter Straub Horror Audiobook
2 Rolling in the Deep Mira Grant Horror
3 The Empty Throne Bernard Cornwell Historical Fiction
4 The Time Traveler’s Almanac Ann VanderMeer Science Fiction Ebook
5 Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen Garth Nix Young Adult Audiobook
6 Symbiont Mira Grant Horror Audiobook
7 Foxglove Summer Ben Aaronovich Fantasy Audiobook
8 Unbound Jim C. Hines Fantasy Audiobook
9 The Sculptor Scott McCloud Graphic Novel
10 Firefight Brandon Sanderson Young Adult Audiobook
11 A Better World Marcus Sakey Science Fiction
12 The Screaming Staircase Jonathan Stroud Young Adult Audiobook
13 Christine Stephen King Horror Audiobook
14 Stranger Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith Young Adult Ebook
15 Nanovision Paul T. Harry Science Fiction Ebook
16 Blood Infernal James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell Thriller Audiobook
17 Trigger Warnings Neil Gaiman Short Stories Audiobook
18 The Living Years Mike Rutherford Autobiography
19 Get in Trouble Kelly Link Short Stories Audiobook
20 Darwinia Robert Charles Wilson Science Fiction Audiobook
21 Blind Lake Robert Charles Wilson Science Fiction Audiobook
22 Saga Volume 4 Brian K. Vaughan Graphic Novel
23 Don’t Look Inside Spike Black Horror Ebook
24 Uprooted Naomi Novik Fantasy
25 Mistborn: Final Empire Brandon Sanderson Fantasy Audiobook
26 Less Than Hero S. G. Browne Fiction
27 A Tiny Tale Olivier Cri to Coeur Fantasy
28 The Well of Ascension Brandon Sanderson Fantasy Audiobook
29 The Fold Peter Clines Science Fiction
30 Working for Bigfoot Jim Butcher Fantasy
31 The Hero of Ages Brandon Sanderson Fantasy Audiobook
32 The Alloy of Law Brandon Sanderson Fantasy Audiobook
33 The Atlantis Deception Nick Thacker Science Fiction Ebook
34 Under the Dome Stephen King Horror Audiobook
35 The Affinities Robert Charles Wilson Science Fiction
36 The Collapse and Recovery of Europe Jack L. Schwartzwald History
37 Flare Jonathan Maas Science Fiction
38 The Stand Stephen King Horror Audiobook
39 Waterloo Bernard Cornwell History
40 The Skystone Jack Whyte Historical Fiction Audiobook
41 Weird Tales Lyn Murray Horror Ebook
42 The Wright Brothers David McCullough Biography Audiobok
43 The Colorado Kid Stephen King Horror Audiobook
44 The Fifth Heart Dan Simmons Thriller
45 Rose Madder Stephen King Horror Audiobook
46 System: With His Face in the Sun Jon A Davidson Science Fiction
47 The Scarlet Gospels Clive Barker Horror
48 The Singing Sword Jack Whyte Historical Fiction Audiobook
49 Waiting for the Machines to Fall Peter Oberg Science Fiction Ebook
50 Finders Keepers Stephen King Horror
51 Four Past Midnight Stephen King Horror Audiobook
52 Seveneves Neal Stepehnson Science Fiction Audiobook
53 The Westing Game Ellen Raskin Young Adult
54 Drunken Fireworks Stephen King Horror Audiobook
55 The Regulators Stephen King Horror Audiobook
56 Fables Vol. 21: Happily Ever After Bill Willingham Graphic Novel
57 James Herriot’s Animal Stories James Herriot Animals
58 Different Seasons Stephen King Horror Audiobook
59 Rage Richard Bachman Horror Audiobook
60 Night Shift Stephen King Horror Audiobook
61 Tin Men Christopher Golden Science Fiction Audiobook
62 The Best Team Money Can Buy Molly Knight Sports
63 The Robusta Incident Jennifer Fales Horror Ebook
64 Aurora Kim Stanley Robinson Science Fiction
65 Throttle Stephen King Horror Audiobook
66 In the Tall Grass Stephen King Horror Audiobook
67 Solaversia Toby Downton Science Fiction
68 Armada Ernest Cline Science Fiction
69 The Green Mile Stephen King Horror Audiobook
70 Duma Key Stephen King Horror Audiobook
71 Fables Vol. 22: Farewell Bill Willingham Graphic Novel
72 Hyperion Dan Simmons Science Fiction Audiobook
73 With the Reading of Vincent Macraven Horror Ebook
74 The Fall of Hyperion Dan Simmons Science Fiction Audiobook
75 Roadwork Richard Bachman Horror Audiobook
76 Neverwhere Neil Gaiman Fantasy
77 The Owl From Oblivion Rusty A. Biesele Fantasy
78 Shadows of Self Brandon Sanderson Fantasy Ebook
79 The Running Man Richard Bachman Horror Audiobook
80 Thinner Richard Bachman Horror Audiobook
81 The Marvels Brian Selznick Young Adult
82 Endymion Dan Simmons Science Fiction Audiobook
83 Siege of Praetar David Kristoph Science Fiction Ebook
84 The Rise of Endymion Dan Simmons Science Fiction Audiobook
85 Misery Stephen King Horror Audiobook
86 The Lost Codex Alan Jacobson Thriller
87 The Horrible Void Between the Trenches Dr. Clifton Wilcox History
88 The Eyes of the Dragon Stephen King Horror Audiobook
89 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Susanna Clarke Fantasy Audiobook
90 Zodiac Neal Stephenson Thriller Audiobook
91 The Author Facundo Raganato Fiction Ebook
92 A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens Fiction Audiobook
93 Wind/Pinball Haruki Murakami Fiction
94 Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights Salman Rushdie Fantasy
95 The Paris Protection Bryan Devore Thriller Ebook
96 Death Wave Ben Bova Science Fiction
97 Oliver Twist Charles Dickens Fiction Audiobook
98 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irving Fiction Audiobook
99 The Halloween Tree Ray Bradbury Kids Audiobook
100 Twelve Creepy Tales Edgar Allan Poe Horror Audiobook
101 Saturn Run John Sandford Science Fiction
102 Great Expectations Charles Dickens Fiction Audiobook
103 A Wild Sheep Chase Haruki Murakami Fiction
104 The Pickwick Papers Charles Dickens Fiction Audiobook
105 A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms George R. R. Martin Fantasy
106 The Bazaar of Broken Dreams Stephen King Horror
107 The Sandman: Overture Neil Gaiman Graphic Novel
108 Career of Evil Robert Galbraith Thriller Audiobook
109 The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus Frank L. Baum Holiday
110 The Last Bastion of Civilization: Japan 2041 Andrew Blencowe Science Fiction Ebook
111 Dead Ringers Christopher Golden Horror
112 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens Holiday
113 Cycle of the Werewolf Stephen King Horror Audiobook

Book News: Sandman Reader’s Guide, Bowie’s Reading List, Library Finds & More!


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Some interesting things found within the pages of library books, and it’s not words and stories.

Waiting for Winds of Winter
Five recommended fantasy series that have been completed while you wait for the next George R. R. Martin.

2016 Adaptations 
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“Dead Ringers” by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Dead Ringers

What if you weren’t the only one of your kind? What if one day you saw someone who looked exactly like you, to the point where your friends and family couldn’t really tell the difference, and this doppelganger was also better looking and more successful than you? And what if he or she wanted to kill you so they could take your place?

Tess Devlin runs into her ex-husband in downtown Boston; she notices something different about him. He looks younger, thinner, healthier, and he acts like he has no idea who she is. When she calls him later to vent, he tells her he never saw her because he’s in New Hampshire.

Frank Lindbergh is wondering if it’s time to give up and just die. A few days ago this guy showed up who looks exactly like him, only better. He stripped him naked and chained him to a pole in his own basement where he’s been going to the bathroom in a bucket and eating whatever scraps and leftovers his doppelganger deigns to bring him. He’s withering away and is actually starting to see the basement floor through parts of his naked body. The man who isn’t him is living his life, working his job, and fooling everyone. So does he just give up and die or does he fight?

Not everyone has an exact, evil copy of themselves; it’s only a select group. What they have in common is a special house where bad things happened, where bodies were found that had been buried for a long time. Dark and twisted rituals had been performed there and somehow that’s important. Then there’s the psychomanteum.

As with his previous novels, Christopher Golden has proven he has a talent for writing the out of the ordinary horror story. Dead Ringers is a story about a haunted house and ritual black magic; it’s also about feeling lost and out of control, and what it means to have your whole life threatened by someone who looks exactly like you. It is both terrifying and horrifying on many levels, some of them subtle, some of them painfully obvious.

Originally written on January 7, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

Bookbanter’s 2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.