Ranting and Raving

Get ready for a rant folks. What has brought on this rant you ask? Well last week at her blog writer Shannon Hale posted a commentary on How to be a reader: book evaluation vs. self-evaluation. Some background: Shannon Hale is well known writer of books for YA and adults. She resides in the area that I live in, and I have seen her speak. Hale is a wonderful person; she's very funny and insightful. Her presentation about the lack of respect in the YA/Fantasy genre among other writer's struck a chord that I still remember to this day.

In her posts she asks book reviewers to ask themselves the following questions. I'll provide my own answer under each question.

1. Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?
It certainly makes me think about a book more analytically. I make notes in my head as I read along the lines of "Oh that's cool" or "Nice parallel." Sometimes I do worry about what the hell am I going to write.

2. Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?
Every book I read starts at a 10 (figuratively) & it's up to the book to maintain that.

3. Does knowing you'll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?
No, I'll read all kinds of books. C'mon I read comic books for god's sake.

4. Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?
Not really.

5. What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?
Read below after the questions.

6. If you review a book but don't rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer?
While I understand that some people need some quantifiable rating I don't. Ratings like stars are an easy way for a reviewer to sum up their review for their readers. For me personally the only real judgement for a book is: Would I reccommend it to someone else? or Would I read another book by that author?

I have been a happy book blogger for about 1 year and 8 months now. In that time I have had the opportunity to look at myself as a reader/reviewer. Now I pride myself on being able to filter out books I know I won't like and don't want to waste my time with. If a book isn't interesting around the 100 page mark then I move on, because life is short. I started this blog because I wanted a place where I could keep track of what I've read, what I thought, and how many books I've read. It's a self-motivating force for me to get rid of the mountain of a TBR pile that somehow fits into my apartment. I don't really see myself as an authority by any means. Anyone who may stumble upon this blog can evaluate me as a reviewer by whatever criteria they want. Don't get me wrong I love it when any reader drops by (and wave an internet-size hello) but to be honest I write this blog mainly for Me, Myself and I.

So there's some self-evaluation for you all. Have a great day! Book Slave.


Just waiting for the Fall

Hello to you all,
I sit this week looking at the end of summer a bit stunned. Where did the summer go? Time is such a fluid thing. And now we are staring right into my favorite season the fall. Where I reside we have a very pretty fall season, which is damn surprising since it's a desert. But I ramble on. Just can't wait for the fall leaves. Sigh.

This was a book club Tuesday. Although I enjoyed the book gun with occasional music (review below) immensely and it's quite provocative, as a subject the book proved dissapointing. The discussion was either scattered or devolved into "this book is really good" platitudes. It's too bad because I think this book is very interesting and thought provoking. Oh well. Moderator/Head of Club/Secret superhero Zach Sampinos let me know that The Sun Also Rises will be next months book. This filled me with joy, I enjoy Hemingway. And hopefully it will draw some more people. That would be cool.

Well Onward!

Hellboy Library Edition Vol. 1
I finally picked this up and enjoyed it a lot. Hellboy, like BPRD, is a unique mix of horror, mythology, and humor. It hits the sweet spot in combining these different aspects. But really the book is powered by the amazing art from Mignola. This library edition is a great showcase for Mignola's universe. In this world the colors are dark and moody, the only vibrant color being red. The demons are scary and formidable, and Mignola makes the action scenes crazy. I am often surprised by how epic Mignola's art is on the page. Also Byrne & Mignola never talk down to their audience. There is a fair amount of history, written text, and occult talk. The characters are very smart and engaging as well. Hellboy, as a character, is written here much more intelligent than his portrayal in the films. While he is a demon, Mignola allows for his humanity to come through. He's a unique fun character. I can't wait to read more.

Bio Info: Hellboy

BPRD vol. 7
More BPRD goodness: This time we learn more about Abe Sapien and his crazy past. I would have liked some more with the rest of the BPRD gang, but this was Abe's showcase. Some very creepy stuff.

Past Reviews: Homing Instinct of Books, City on Fire, A Serious Obsession

gun, with occasional music
I enjoyed this crazy mix of Chandler and Phillip K. Dick, as seen through the eyes of Jonathan Lethem. In this detective yarn we are dropped into an Orwellian future where everyone is controlled by either individualized drugs or The Office. Private Inquisitior Conrad Metcalf finds himself stuck in the middle of a murder when one of his former employers ends up dead. Lethem blends a good brew of noir and futurist prose like right out of Spillane. I found myself enveloped in the hard language Lethem employs. This book is also ripe with social commentary that is becoming more and more a reality. The world imagined in gun is one where existence is made trivial and superficial. Metcalf's tragedy is not unlike Orwell's Winston Smith; he can't stop asking questions. Very interesting stuff.

Other Reviews
sff | 12frogs | The Guardian

The Reading List
Queen and Country Vol. 1
Superman For Tomorrow Vol. 1

Four Four Two

Green Arrow & Black Canary

Comics Pull List: Batman And Robin #3, Dark Wolverine #77, Deadpool #14, Detective Comics #856, Flash Rebirth #4, Gotham City Sirens #3, Green Lantern #45, New Avengers #56, Runaways 3 #13, Superman #691, Wednesday Comics #8, Wonder Woman #35

Check Out Count: Musical.

Have a great week!


Defying Expectations

Hello happy few,
How are you all? Good I hope. I've had a great week with summer winding down. Can you believe it? Time flies man. Last week I met a legend. Comics writer Chris Claremont came & did a presentation in my library. For those who don't know, Claremont was the writer on X-Men for 20 years. He wrote the famous Japan run with Frank Miller, Days of Future Past, etc. etc. He's a pioneer of comics. Now I'm usually one of those people who are nervous about meeting people I admire. What if they are jerks? What if I say something stupid? Who am I to them? But lately I've been trying to get over these neurosies and just go for it. So I went to talk to Mr. Claremont & he turned out to be a nice guy. We talked for about 10-15 minutes. He went on a rant about Marvel editorial. It was great. So the takeaway lesson kids: Don't be afraid to talk to people you admire. They might actually be cool.

Anyway Onward we go!

Back to Brooklyn
From the team of Ennis & Palmiotti, Back to Brooklyn is a violent crazy crime story. It starts off with gangster Bob willing to rat out his brother, and the entire Saetta crime family, in exchange for getting his family out of Brooklyn. The feds let him go for 3 days allowing Bob to kill his way to safety. This is not for the weak as their is no holding back. It's grandiose violence reminds me of a Scorsese movie. These writers & artist Mihailo Vukelic take us on a roller coaster ride. Some of the twists and turns are a bit contrived but I was so pulled in that I didn't care. Vukelic's art is a mix of graphic and drawn art that I thought was great. Highly enjoyable.

Other Reviews
fictions | ifanboy

Weapon X (Wolverine)
This is the original series where Wolverine's experience with the shady government Weapon X experiment is explored. As I read this I was shocked to discover that the story is more about the scientists than Wolverine! Wolverine is basically a background character until the final chapter. I actually liked that aspect. The art is amazing especially for 90s comics. The panels are arranged with amazing puzzle visual style. The mini-series is really a metaphysical exploration of who/what Wolverine is as a mutant and a human being. Each scientist has their own reservations about the dehumanization of Wolverine, however it doesn't stop them. I wasn't expecting that at all. I ended up really enjoying it.

(BTW if they had used this book for the movie Wolverine this summer, it would have been great. I still don't understand why when they are writing these comic book movies they just don't use the original stories. There's only 30 years of comics to pull from.)

Bio Info: Weapon X

The Reading List
Hellboy Vol. 1
Gun, With Occasional Music

Green Arrow & Black Canary

Four Four Two

Check Out Count: Somewhat Coveted

Comics Pull List: Amazing Spider-Man #603, Batgirl #1, Batman Streets Of Gotham #3, Daredevil #500, Outsiders #21, Stand American Nightmares #5, Wednesday Comics #7

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Homing Instinct of Books

Hello to you all,
Last week has finally seen some relief from the summer heat for us here in the city of Salt. Been able to get a fair amount done without driving myself crazy. What is beguiling is how no matter how much reading I do I'm still buried in books. Will I ever catch up? Highly unlikely. It's difficult. However I do a fair amount of paperback trading online. I also have been hardcore about refusing to buy "new" books, especially in hardback. Waiting for the trade paperback these days usually means about a 6 month wait. That I can do. No more new hardcovers, they are just too expensive. Any way blab, blab, blab. Let's get on with it eh?

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
This book is a delightful read. It is tailor-made for book lovers like myself. In 1946 London writer Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Addams about Charles Lamb. Through multiple letters Juliet, and the reader, is introduced to the world of post-occupation Guernsey and it's colorful heroic characters. Writers Barrow & Shaffer deftly handle multiple character voices and move the story along at a fast clip. The use of epistolary is genius since it controls how information is doled out between characters and the reader. When the story gets a little too light in the middle the writers bring in a surprisingly amount of heft when discussing the horrors of war. Islanders begin to recount for Juliet stories of the German Occupation which are grim and realistic. The book is much more substantial than I expected. I was delighted by the wit and humor these characters exhibit. This is a must-read for bibliophiles like myself. Highly enjoyable.

Other Reviews
California Literary Review | blogcritics | London Telegraph

BPRD vol. 5
What else do I need to say? Start here, then rinse and repeat.

The Reading List
Time Traveller's Wife
Back to Brooklyn

Four Four Two

Amazing Spider-man #600

Comic Pull List: Action Comics #880, Amazing Spider-Man #602, Batman #689, Blackest Night #2, Bprd 1947 #2, Deadpool #13, Fables #87, Green Arrow Black Canary #23, Red Robin #3, Wednesday Comics #6

Check Out Count: Why do I do this to myself? *sigh*

Have a great week! Book Slave.


It's not a comeback, it's a return.

Hello to All,
Fear not. I may have disappeared for awhile, but I have not forgotten you all. Trust me the end of July was full of insanity, especially of the reading kind. But I am back now. I'm intent on attacking August full force. Hopefully the cyberworld will follow me unto the breach.

As usual my book club meeting was highly enjoyable. We discussed the book Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (review is forthcoming). We even got the chance to talk to the author via speaker phone. He was very nice and answered our questions thoroughly. I give thanks again to Zach Sampinos, leader and moderator, for pulling our little book club together each month. It's always a good time.

I also had the pleasure of co-hosting a discussion of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows (review is forthcoming) for the Mainly Reading Book Club. Becci Webb, fellow librarian, has built a great group that meets every month. I am reminded that one of my first reviews posted on this blog was for The Jane Austen Book Club, a book I read for the same reasons as Guernsey. It's odd that the books themselves and the circumstances under which I read them are so similiar. Eh or maybe it's just coincidence. Well I digress. Onward!

Harley and Ivy
I've already spread my love for comics writer Paul Dini all over this blog. He is a great Batman writer, but he's most well known for the series he created called Batman: The Animated Series. I picked up this collection because it showcases the relationship between the femme fatales Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. This is a fun collection, although it's really strictly for the kids. Harley Quinn is a fun character, although she is haplessly dumb. In this team up with Poison Ivy they play like vaudeville. Admittedly I was hoping for something a little more sophisticated and smart, but this did make me laugh.

Here's a clip from Batman: the Animated Series that features these characters. Enjoy.

Into the Wild
In 1992 Chris McCandless was found dead in the wilds of Alaska. He had starved to death after living in an abandoned bus for 4 months. In this book author Jon Krakauer examines the 2 year odyssey that led McCandless across the US and ended in his death. I had been meaning to read this book for some time. Krakauer does a great job of not only telling us McCandless's story but also interweaving in similiar stories of crazy adventurers. Krakauer even includes his own story of nearly dying in Alaska. This is an interesting account of this young man's tragedy. What drove him? is the question at the center of the book. Really only Chris McCandless knows for sure, but from the accounts left behind it seems that McCandless felt the need to test himself. Man vs. Nature is one of the eternal conflicts. McCandless lost due to his own inexperience. Unfortunately it his family and friends who live with the loss. Well worth checking out.

Bio Info: Christopher McCandless, Into the Wild

The Reading List
BPRD: The Black Flame
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Four Four Two

Deadpool #12

Check Out Count: Could be better.

Comic Pull List: Amazing Spider-Man #601, Buffy The Vampire Slayer #27, Doom Patrol #1, Dynamo 5 #23, Justice League Cry For Justice #2, Secret Six #12, Superman World Of New Krypton #6, Terry Moores Echo #14, Wednesday Comics #5

Have a great week! Book Slave.