Monday, June 30, 2008

The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable by Terry Pratchett, illustrated by Paul Kidby

Last HeroIn my usual unintentional fashion of doing stuff, this is the first Terry Pratchett Discworld book I have read, which would be the last one in the series. But even not having an earlier introduction to the characters, I enjoyed it immensely.

Cohen the Barbarian gathers his "mature" friends to embark on one final quest. They are going to climb the highest mountain of Discworld and return to the gods what the first hero stole. Only problem is that will mean the end of the world. Thus Lord Vetinari of Ankh-Morpork, a band of wizards, a soldier, an inventor/painter and an orangutan librarian must come up with a plan to stop Cohen before it is too late.

There were several LOL’s when I was reading this book, very tongue and cheek. Coming from the corporate world I loved the definition of workshop - "the means by which people who don't know anything get together to pool their ignorance." I also loved the Chair of Indefinite Studies Wizard, who once determined there was a definite problem dismissed himself because that was not his field.

Fun illustrations through out the book, including detail diagrams of the swamp dragons, which proved very interesting.

I will now have to go catch myself up with the first of the Discworld series.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Lawn Boy

I will be honest about our new lawn boy. We never know when he is going to show up, and when he does we never know for how long or what work will get done (besides the digging up of our strawberry plants). However, he can work a weed trimmer.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Delphine #1

Delphine 1Just finished another graphic novel by Richard Sala from Fantagraphics Books. Delphine No. 1 is a retelling of the fairy tale Snow White from the perspective of the “prince” in a more modern, uh, unusual setting. A university student goes looking for the young co-ed, Delphine, who left to take care of her sick father. A vague address leads him to a rustic village surrounded by a dark and foreboding forest. He stops at an eerie wig shop to ask for directions that end up leading him deeper into the mystery. Several times during the book I would say to myself, “Oh, I would not do that if I was you.” But needless to say he does and finds himself in some frightening places with worrisome characters. A total cliffhanger at the end, and yes, I will now have to get Delphine No. 2 to find out what happens.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mouse Guard Fall 1152

Mouse Guard Fall 1152The Mouse Guard Fall 1152, an Eisner and Foreword Award Winner, written and illustrated by David Petersen, is a collection of the Series 1 Mouse Guard comic books. This graphic novel was written for children but also entertaining for adults. The Mouse Guard was formed to protect the mice against the world’s harsh conditions and predators, but who knew their greatest enemy would be from within. A traitor mouse threatens to bring down their villages and the Guard itself. The illustrations are bold and detailed giving life to the majestic territories of the mice. Though the premise of little warrior mice may seem cute, these mice are fierce fighters and their battles are intense. I found the book an entertaining adventure and quick read. I am looking forward to the sequel, The Mouse Guard Winter 1152, due out at the end of this year.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sipping Spiders Through a Straw

Sipping Spiders Through a StrawIf you are going camping this summer or on a road trip, I highly recommend Sipping Spiders Through a Straw Campfire Songs for Monsters by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by Gris Grimly. On the other hand, if you plan on spending your entire summer inside on the couch watching TV, I still recommend Sipping Spiders Through Straws. Your family will enjoy nothing more than you belting out a few spine-chilling tunes during commercials.

Some of my favorites were Home of the Strange, 99 Bottles of Blood on the Wall, If You’re Scary and You Know it, Clap Your Paws, My Body Lies Over the Ocean and Take Me Out to the Grave Yard. I will admit there a couple of the 18 songs that I was not familiar with the tune but enjoyed the lyrics anyway. Gris Grimly’s illustrations were absolutely sinister through out the book. Over all I found the book eerily entertaining and frightfully fun.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wool Market

Last weekend I went to the 18th annual Estes Park Wool Market with my sister and mom. This wool market is one of the largest all-natural fiber markets in North America and takes place every year in mid-June. There are demonstrations, contests, exhibits, and the sale of fiber animals and products from their wool. My sister and mom keep threatening to take up weaving and love to watch the spinning and weaving demonstrations and look through the product booths. Normally I am playing golf with my dad when the wool market is taking place, but this year a tournament at the course prevented us from playing.

I was hesitant at first since I have never once in my life threatened to take up weaving, but I was promised colored angora sheep, and how could I pass that up. I was hoping for blue and purple ones or maybe even polka dotted. As it turns out, there were no colored sheep of that variety, but I did see several other sheep, llamas, alpacas, and goats. The goats were my favorite, they would just come right up to you to be petted and licked your fingers. To be honest, I felt a little snubbed by the llamas and alpacas, and the sheep were just plain in a bad mood. Of course as it turns out, I did not get any pictures of the cute little goats, probably because I was too busy loving them; however, I did capture a few llama and alpaca heads as well as a very woolly shaggy creature with horns.

llama HeadMr. Cranky

llama HeadI'm frightened of your hair

Hey DudeBass and Keyboards

alpaca headLead Singer

alpaca headLead Guitar

poodle headDrums and part-time poodle

baby llamaBaby Llama!!!

big hornsWoolly Shaggy thing with horns

Friday, June 20, 2008

Midnight Days

Midnight DaysThis graphic novel is a collection of previously uncollected Neil Gaiman pieces. Each story has an introduction from Mr. Gaiman giving a little background history and inspiration for writing the piece. He wrote that the short story Hold Me was one of his favorites of all his short stories. The story has John Constantine attending a party and leaving with an acquaintance to the not-so-nice part of London. Not only did I enjoy the story but also I loved the artistic style of the illustrations. Likewise, I loved the style and layout of the illustrations in the last story Sandman Midnight Theatre. As usual, Neil Gaiman does an excellent job in his storytelling and I found the stories behind the stories just as fascinating.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Maniac Killer Strikes Again

Maniac Killer Strikes AgainManiac Killer Strikes Again is a graphic novel of short stories written and drawn by Richard Sala and published by Fantagraphic Books. If you enjoy black and white campy horror flicks, this book is sure to entertain and amuse you. It is several humorous dark tales with a few jagged twist and turns thrown in. Like the Ed Wood movie, we have monsters, zombies, and creatures from out of this world; the only thing missing is the guy in the dress.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Manga The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare Before Christmas MangaOne of my all time favorite movies is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. When I found the Manga version on the 50% off rack at Bookies, I could not resist. The book reads from back to front and the pages read from right to left. This is how it was originally printed in Japan and not why it was on the 50% off rack. I can’t imagine that any one has not seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, but if you haven’t you need to go out and get the DVD right now! Have you got it yet? No, I am serious, hop on over to Amazon and you can have it shipped to you tomorrow. You MUST see the movie.

Okay, I may have gotten a little off track there, but If you haven’t seen it (hard to believe), it is about Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, who has grown tired and bored of his hometown holiday, Halloween. He yearns for something more, and soon stumbles upon the glorious magic of Christmas Town. Jack decides to bring this joyful holiday back to Halloween Town and take over for Santa. And really, what could go wrong with the Pumpkin King of Halloween taking over Christmas? What indeed?

Unfortunately this is one of those rare cases where I feel the movie is much better than the book. I did not think the book in its Manga style was able to capture the essence of the story or maybe it was I just missed the Oogie Boogie man singing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Amphigorey Also

Amphigorey AlsoThe other evening when deciding what to read next, the Edward Gorey’s Amphigorey Also caught my eye on the end table. I was just going to read a story or two and then start in on my next Sandman graphic novel, Volume 5, A Game of You, but ended up reading the whole book. Edward Gorey never ceases to amaze me with his macabre humorous style. Read about Embley and Yewbert’s adventure in the Epiplectic Bicycle. Brush up on the alphabet in The Utter Zoo, The Glorious Nosebleed and The Eclectic Abecedarium. Learn how the famous mystery writer, Miss D. Awdrey-Gore, of such great titles, The Pincushion Affair, The Toothpaste Murder, and The Dustwrapper Secret, pieced together the perfect tale of mystery. This Amphigorey book also highlights Gorey’s artistic and creative talent with his superbly macabre illustrations. I particularly enjoyed his cycling cards in The Broken Spoke and his urns in the Les Urnes Utiles.

I will definitely need to be adding some more Gorey to my library collection and on the look out for, The Dwindling Party and Dracula: a Toy Theatre.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Children of the Night Tide

Children of the Night TideChildren of the Night Tide is a graphic novel from Fantagraphic Books. It is two short stories of fantasy by Jan Strnad. The Sea Dragon, illustrated by Dennis Fujitake, is about a young dragon that is not content staying in a cave with his mother guarding their treasure. Despite her warnings he slips out of the cave at night into his ocean playground sinking ships and terrorizing pirates. The Goblin Child illustrated by Tim Solliday, is a classic tale of the changeling, where a human child is replaced by a goblin. When the father refuses to kill the goblin, it promises him and the mother it will help them rescue their real son.

Though written in 1980’s, both stories seem from the 1880’s, and like fairytales of the past, they are not necessarily happily ever after tales, but magically written and illustrated.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

BunniculaLet me just say up front I cannot give an objective review on this book. As you may have gathered from Trixi Thursdays, I am a cat person.

Bunnicula is a story about a family with two boys, Pete and Toby, a dog named Harold and a cat named Chester. Life is good at the Monroe household until one stormy night a stray rabbit is found and becomes the new family pet. This tale is told from the dog’s point of view. Right there I think you see my problem, what cat is going to let a dog tell their story? Of course Chester sees right away that this fluffy little being is no more than a vegetable sucker of the night. However, in his efforts to save his family from this bunny terror, he ends up suffering the brunt of several miscalculated hare ridding plans. I think us cat people know, fangs or no fangs, who would really win a feline vs. bunny battle, or just be disgusted and ignore the whole situation; really the family is on their own.

Other than that small issue, it is a quick read and a cute story, though more in a Tom & Jerry sort of way than a frightening one. Actually, it wasn’t scary at all, which since I tend to go to the dark side rather quickly, I was also little disappointed in that fact. However if you are a dog or bunny person, and looking more for amusement than the scare factor, you should enjoy this book.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Dangerous Alphabet

The Dangerous AlphabetThe Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Gris Grimly is a curious poetic journey through an alphabet with unsavory characters and letters of mischief. Two brave children and their courageous gazelle embark on an adventure where they encounter pirates, creatures of all sorts, and a not-to-be trusted alphabet.

“E’s for the Evil that lures and entices;
F is for Fear and its many devices...”

Needless to say, if you have been to my blog before, I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan. When I found out he was working with one of my other favorites, Gris Grimly, I knew I would have another treasure for my collection, and I was not disappointed. The rhyming couplets had a slight Edward Gorey feel to them (who I also love), and every time I read through the book I see another devious nuance in the monstrous illustrations.

However, readers beware! You may find yourself so entranced with Gaiman’s rhythmic verses and Grimly’s esoteric visions that you may not realize just how dangerous the Alphabet really is in this story.