Post BEA via Video

Peculiar Children are the best kind

nybest-missp_0With the film in production and a soon to come cover reveal on the forthcoming third book, I felt I needed to truly finally get my thoughts around Ransom Riggs‘ series from my mind to the page. To explain something that is a time travel, alternate universe, super powered teenage romance tale built around found photographs hasn’t been easy. For a Young Adults tale it’s as dense, complicated and yet as mesmerizing as it may or may not sound to your fertile soul.

Pulling from photographs which you have no personal connection to but convey a lot to develop characters and plot was one of the most fascinating things ever. I can’t recall without referencing it how much of a story Ransom devised without the photos, but I don’t think it matters because it’s the final product that is the work. That work evoked to me in both books a formulation of so many genres and structures I’ve loved that I couldn’t hate it if I wanted. The title of the original series coyly or not feels like it could be referencing Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Children, but really that is where the connection stops in terms of plot. Following the lead character in his discovery of his grand father’s mystery, the existence of nightmarish creatures, a plane locked in a time loop, young men and women with extraordinary abilities trained by a school mistress who is way more Nanny McPhee than female Professor X all the way to the shocking end of the first book and the exciting but tragic second Miss Peregrine’s I felt like I was reading a comic book in prose format.

Amazingly within this crazy world which also finds itself in war torn WWII England, reveals shape changers, curious characters and a deep evil group that represents a world even larger than presented to lies a coming of age tale of a forbidden, impossible but miraculous young love. This relationship is not the kind you find in other young adult novels though. There is truly a twist to it that makes the fact that while as important as the action, adventure and threat to the world is… love is just as important, if not more so.

The upcoming third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series is titled Library of Souls and is scheduled for September of 2015. I can only begin to imagine how Riggs will up the ante after the happening in the second book Hollow City.

hollowcity_final_72dpiOn top of that third book as I mentioned a film is in production. It’s not just any film though, as it is poised to possibly be a major feature. Now it could easily go the direction of two ways in terms of success, but when it comes to quality it should be amazing. I personally think every film based on a modern popular YA series (published within the last 15 years) has had its merits. This film has quite the pedigree helping it happen though and has me quite excited to see it brought to life on the big screen. The story was adapted into a screenplay by Matthew Vaughn’s writing partner Jane Goldman who assisted on adapting Neil Gaiman’s romantic magical fantasy Stardust and Mark Millar’s teenage action series Kick-Ass as well as on her own the recent version of Susan Hill’s classic horror thriller Woman in Black. Taking that script into a film is Tim Burton who has been way more hit than miss in recent years and will be guided by the same production team who delivered St. Vincent and have his regular editor, as well as Danny Elfman on board for the music. The cast is pretty exciting as well, while the leads are important, it needs to be noted Judi Dench, Samuel Jackson, and Terrance Stamp will be in important minor roles. In the main roles though are future Spider-Man and former Hugo of Hugo Cabret, Asa Butterfield.. .who also played Ender, so he’s building quite the resume as lead characters from quality novels; Eva Green who has been building herself a good career plays the title Miss Peregrine (interesting side note, Asa played Mordred in TV series Merlin… while Eva played Morgan in the TV series Camelot); the third lead is played by Ella Purnell, an up & coming young actress who has played a young Keira Knightley and a young Angelina Jolie.. (so yeah, she’s quite pretty) and has been lauded for being a great actress on top of her looks. I’ve seen photos of her from shoots unconnected to Miss Peregrine and she truly embodies Emma Bloom.

One of the things I feel I must address more before closing off is the use of fascinating found photography in the book. It truly turns Miss Peregine’s books from powerful prose about super powered teenagers, love and time travel into something else. These photos are all real and have their own story… a story that is not the story of Ransom Riggs book. One can build upon the story in each photograph and add layers not there, tangents explored only by each readers imagination and they truly add to the series. As a photographer myself and a lover of other photographers and just photography as a whole it pulls me in. Even in my own collection I have photos I don’t recall taking of people, places, things and they are weird and eerie. Tricks of the light, weird optical illusions happened in shooting, processing or developing the photo be it old style film or digital. It is this aspect that has brought me back to these books more than once after reading them despite the series being only 4 years old in publication and I think the same would go for anyone.

Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children & Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (published by Quirk Books) are both available now in hardcover and paperback from all booksellers.

(I close with an accidental photo I have shot years ago and loved after seeing it in my roll, which I have no answer for but I feel tells a story, one even more fascinating then if I knew what it was I meant to photograph originally)



The Lies We Tell Ourselves (Little Black Lies review)

Psychiatry1-a2305623b3 has long be a part of some of my favorite TV shows and sometimes they’ve coincided with murder mysteries. From Private Pr active to more recently Perception, the secrets hidden in the brain that have been studied by the practices of psychology, psychiatry and neurology have fascinated me. Not from a clinical standpoint but strictly from the entertainment standpoint. One of the greatest things I’ve always really enjoyed is how these people in the field of psych either studying normal behavior or in more extreme cases (and on TV that’s always the case) solving a crime are as messed up both psychologically and emotionally as the people they are helping or trying to capture.

With all this in mind knowing what I love, delving into LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sandra Block seemed a no brainer. On the cliched “check system”, it hits pretty much everything I just stated. A psychiatrist (albeit still a resident) who is emotionally messed up as well as a slew of chemical dependencies and a dark past having her on a slew on prescriptions and seeing a psychologist herself suddenly finds herself embroiled in a mysterious crime where the killer is known, but not the motive.

Written in a first person narrative, Sandra Block gives us a very like-able and appealing protagonist in Dr. Zoe Goldman with an intriguing cast of fellow doctors, family, patients, and suitors. Each chapter as structured actually feels like an episode in a mini-series one could see running on USA Network, Lifetime, ION, Oxygen or what have you. Amazingly it also surprised me with each twist and turn. Just as I thought I had it all worked out, I didn’t completely fill the puzzle together. I actually even thought maybe I was losing my mind, but I think that was partially the point and it was a worthwhile feeling to reach the conclusion.

While reading it and then reflecting I am actually brought back to the final line of the story. It isn’t actually a spoiler, it more speaks to the entire tale and every character in it and what it is trying to convey through many actions and occurrences. “We are all a little crazy”. It’s so true… but if we weren’t, I don’t think we could enjoy the stories to begin with.

LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sandra Block is from Grand Central Publishing and available now for $15.

The Secrets of the Empire are Now YOURS to have (Star Wars Empire that is)


From a galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm announces discovery of the IMPERIAL HANDBOOK,

filled with secret intelligence for the Commanders of the Imperial Military

 Incinerator Stormtrooper New York, NY:  October 6, 2014: This fall, just in time for the holiday season, Lucasfilm announces the release of STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK, the latest artifact to come from INSIDE the STAR WARS® universe. From the book producers who unearthedTHE JEDI PATH and BOOK OF SITH comes the newest discovery from a galaxy, far, far away . . . . a guide for Commanders of the Imperial Military.

 The Empire has taken hold of the galaxy. Soon, with the completion of the Death Star, its control will be absolute. In preparation for this Imperial expansion, high-ranking officials from each branch of the Imperial Military have set down tactical guidelines and procedures as well as collected mission reports and classified documents for all newly ascending commanders.

In the wake of the Battle of Endor, members of the Rebel Alliance intercepted this top-secret instructional manual and have circulated it among their own commanders, who have added notes and commentary in the margins.

Housed in a protective case, this rare glimpse into the military governance and philosophy of the Empire offers a unique perspective no matter w6593-Star-Wars-Imperial-Handbook-Deluxe-Edition-1402445032hich side of the rebellion you’re on.

The STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK Deluxe Edition produced by becker&mayer! in collaboration with Lucasfilm, New York Timesbestselling author Daniel Wallace, and celebrated STAR WARS illustrators takes fans inside the world of the Imperial Military. To heighten the drama of the text’s backstory, THE STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK Deluxe Edition is housed within a sleek mechanical case. With the touch of a button, top of the case slides open accompanied by lights and authentic STAR WARS sounds, revealing the book within.
Fans can order the Deluxe Edition on now. This edition is also available at most other major retailers just in time for the holiday season. STAR WARS fans will enjoy the creativity, innovation, and superb quality of this handbook as they gain new insights into the practices and philosophies of the Imperial Military.

STAR WARS: IMPERIAL HANDBOOK by various high-ranking Imperial Officials (& New York Times bestselling author Daniel Wallace), becker&mayer! 160 pages, ISBN-10: 1603803408, ISBN-13: 978-1603803403, $99.99, Fully illustrated-color illustrations, National on-sale date: October 14, 2014; Available at and at most major retailers

 We Fight

“In-world” authors:

Imperial writers: Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, High General Cassio Tagge, Admiral Wullf Yularen, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti, and TX-5532

Rebel Alliance annotators: Jan Dodonna, General Madine, General Rieekan, Wedge Antilles, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Mon Mothma.

“Our-world” author

Daniel Wallace is a comic book expert, sci-fi sage, and lifelong geek. Author or co-author of more than two dozen books including The Jedi Path, Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman, DC Comics Year by Year, Iron Man Manual, and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters, his specialty is exploring the underpinnings of popular fictional universes. An avid genre fan, he has also worked as a professional contributor in the realms of Indiana Jones, Smallville, and Supernatural.

For more than 25 years, becker&mayer! LLC has created hundreds of innovative books that inform and entertain readers of all ages. THE JEDI PATH is one of several dynamic STAR WARS tie-ins created this year by the Bellevue, Washington–based book packagers becker&mayer!  Visit for more information.


LucImperial Handbook Release-FINAL (1)_html_3519119dasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, Star Wars and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.  All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

Get Lost with Adi Alsaid (You’ll be glad you did)

At the end of July 2014, Adi Alsaid‘s first mass market novel for teens, LET’S GET LOST, hit shelves.  I was first introduced to Adi at Book Expo America a few years ago when randomly at a panel he sat next to me and we struck up a conversation.  He handed me his self-published book SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN which I loved and I saw a future for Adi.  Fast forward a few years and that future is here, published by Harlequin, National tour and a marketing campaign that actually featured a physical car decked out as an ad.

LET’S GET LOST tells the tale of a single amazing girl through the eyes of the various people who meet her.  Adi Alsaid has an excellent handle at different voices and does so deftly.  He is truly a fantastic writer as I originally discovered with his first book.  He has an incredible use of word play.  You owe it to yourself to seek out both books, but definitely do not miss Let’s Get Lost.  It’s the true start of what I think can be a great writer’s career.

Adi was willing to take questions for me for an interview and he provided some really amazing answers.  I was able to come up with what I felt were four very meaty analytic questions that also provided more review structure and statements from this fantastic young author.

1.) In your many travels and life through Mexico, California, Vegas and Israel. can you name actual singular favorite locations. Such as favorite restaurant, quiet spot to read, etc.

My favorite bench in the world is in Pacific Grove, California, facing out at the ocean beneath a beautiful tree. An ice cream shop in Tel Aviv called Iceberg has lines out the door past midnight. Vegas has incredible spots to view the sunrise and the sunset. Mexican breakfasts are the best, no matter what kind of restaurant you go into.

2.) What was the journey from writing and self publishing to being picked up by Harlequin? Is there anything you miss from self-publishing? What do you enjoy most about being with a large publishing house?

I went to BEA a few years ago as a struggling writer, just trying to see what the expo was all about, maybe make some connections. At the time, my ex-girlfriend, who’d helped me edit the first book I wrote, SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN, was working at Simon and Schuster. She invited me to a Young to Publishing party, where I ended up meeting Emilia Rhodes, who would later be my editor at Alloy. A few months, maybe a year, after that party, Emilia and I got in touch and not too long after that I’d written the first half of LET’S GET LOST and a proposal for the second half, which was how Harlequin picked me up.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to garner a ton of support from Harlequin TEEN. They really believe in the book and the reach that they’ve had as far exceeded anything I could have possibly done on my own. I know self-publishing works for a lot of people, but it was not a good fit for me, and I’m thrilled to be where I am now.

3.) You’ve written two books now with multiple perspectives. Although you switched from first to third. Do you have a preference? Was there a particular decision making process of your narrator/perspective decision on LET’S GET LOST compared to SOMEWHERE OVER THE SUN?

I’ve always been drawn to multiple perspectives, as a reader and a writer. I like getting inside people’s heads, and I think my natural inclination is to use as many voices as a given story will allow. I usually prefer third person, although it’s never really a conscious decision, just something that naturally happens when I start writing.

4.) You seem to have a focus on road trips and that experience. How much of your own life has found its way into your work? Do you have any road trip experience (experiences) or people you’ve met you’d still write about? Anything or anyone you’d care to share?

That’s something else that isn’t necessarily a conscious choice. Like Mario Vargas Llosa writes in LETTERS TO A YOUNG NOVELIST, ” The novelist doesn’t choose his themes; he is chosen by them. He writes on certain subjects because certain things have happened to him.” Life experiences definitely work their way into my writing although I usually dress them up in fiction to make them fit the context or be more interesting.

This one I haven’t yet written about, although the character involved is too bizarre to leave out of my writing forever. When I was traveling across the country visiting friends last summer, I was enjoying a cup of coffee in Pasadena when a homeless man started insisting to everyone around the he was the world record holder for thumb pushups. Which is not a thing. Eventually, after lots of ranting on his side and some good-spirited chiding from a group of construction workers nearby, the homeless man, who goes by the name Ohio, whipped his shirt off and started assuming the push-up position, his thumbs stuck out like a hitchhiker’s. The construction workers and I prepared to witness a man breaking his thumbs on the sidewalk of Pasadena. A security guard stood by, a hand on his walkie-talkie. Tourists stepped into the street to avoid Ohio. “We’ll give you a quarter per thumb push up,” the construction workers say, elbowing each other in the ribs, winking behind sunglasses.

Turns out, thumb pushups are a thing, and I fully believe he holds the world record.

Thumb pushups… sound like there’s an entire book in there somewhere.  Homeless World Record Olympics?  Maybe not the book for Adi, but with his flair for penmanship, I’m sure he could pull it off.


To Boldy Review where no Date has Reviewed

I have not truly amazingly had the luck to actually date many fellow nerds in my life. This isn’t to say I haven’t dated, jut I haven’t dated many nerds. The people who I consider my own. The comic fans, the wrestling fans, the sci-fi fans, the video gamers… now I have been with those people, but generally more than not I’ve been with people who actually were not on the same wave length as me. Not from lack of knowing where to find them, ask them out or any of that. Just the luck of the draw here.

Still I know there are plenty guys out there who can’t even get to that first step or even if they do, what to do next and after that or even after that. When you grow up watching Thundercats, playing Super Mario and reading Booster Gold while rolling dice for a D & D game and discussing the merits of Ric Flair over Roddy Piper on the phone with your friend whose thinking about his acne and multiple allergies, how to go out with the opposite or even same sex is gong to be an art you never really learn.

That’s where THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING by Eric Smith comes into play or at least that how’d I’d sell it if I was a marketing person. Oh wait, I am… but that’s not where I’m coming from in this review.

I’ll admit even I might not be nerdy enough for this book. Some references were completely and totally lost on me. I’ve never been into Firefly, I’m not a big Link fan, I don’t know HALO from a brick in the wall… but I somehow still know what Eric was going for with each reference so it was never completely lost on me.

In many ways this isn’t just a geek’s guide to dating, but a clever voice in just basic logic of dating, understanding the ways and what fors of finding it, going on it and what to do after said date. These are tips that can be used by anyone in our modern social media driven world of Facebook, twitter, Foursquare and more. It’s just painted to attract an audience that would not necessarily go for it while being open enough for a non geek to at least see the the great cover and start skimming to see what it contains, notice how concise the advice is and just be “Huh, I could use this”.

One other great aspect that is a huge selling point to me is the cool Kickpixel pieces. I can’t really say anything about them, they just look awesome especially since I love 8 bit art even if I don’t like 8 bit games. Just look at this piece and if you don’t love it…I don’t know you. Even if you hate it, you still need this book. Actually if you hate it, you need this book more than anyone cause boy oh boy do you need some social tips.

GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING came out September 3rd from QUIRK BOOKS and is a 5 x9 hardcover priced at $14.95

From Drawing to Creature to Department

The YA book THE CREATURE DEPARTMENT is full of fun, excitement, suspense, humor, yummy food, corporate espionage, memories, and lovable folks. The writer Robert Paul Weston really created something absolutely wonderful in prose. A whole new “universe” that is full of more to explore once you’ve put the book down. If the book was just words it would stand strongly and be a worthwhile read, but the art and illustrations made up by Zack Lydon and the entire team at Framestore really made it a book to behold and enjoy.

The most amazing part is that when the book was just in galley format with just possible sketches it truly blew me away. These sketches became paintings and in the case of one Gugor, who has also made appearances at Book Expo America and New York Comic Con 2013 delighting buyers, readers, kids and unsuspecting adults alike, a fully realized CGI model.

The best to show that off is to actually show you some of that development.

Here’s an image of Gugor from the galley:

this is an image of color painting Gugor from the official book trailer:

Here’s a 3D model:

and this is the Final Gugor at Book Expo and then at New York Comic Con where there was an amazing display (which you can see in the image that tops this review/article/presentation):

As charming and as wonderful as these images are they barely capture the essence of the book and the images contained within it (both through the words and the actual illustrations).  The book introduces us to an assortment of amazing characters with immense personality and the setting for what could one day be both an amazing series of books as well as an excellent TV series.  There is something inherently perfect in super smart kids, above average parents, a crazy scientist and a town that from the outside seems completely normal and quaint but hides an amazing secret, a secret that is actually one that for all we know is actually a reality in our world.  I mean seriously, Bacon Chapstick?  That sounds like something only a creature could figure out how to make right.

“Most Belated Review of Whipple EVER”

Doing something extra ordinary which one gets acknowledged for does not always happen. Getting acknowledged for feats that belong in a world record book? That happens even less frequently, but it does. Yet, it’s not often that a family garners multiple awards in the Guiness Book of World Records, the only type of record book of its like that I am aware exists. Yet in the Matthew Ward’s hilarious, fun, mysterious, dramatic and adventure romp The Fantastic Family Whipple such a family exists. A large family which has won awards for what may seem like the most mundane of things, such as (as these are ones I’m making up but I’m sure someone in the Whipples won at some point) balancing the most amount of toothsticks on your pinky for the most amount of time or the most amount of chimichongas engorged in the fastest time.

Now imagine if you were a member of this family, a family which has many many brothers and sisters, in age ranges from teenagers to still in diapers. Imagine you are the middle child in such a family and you have never won any award, got no acknowledgment… you are basically the failure of the family. That’s exactly the situation Arthur Whipple finds himself in this “fantastic” Middle grade book written with enough adult humor and easy situations to truly be considered all ages and easily appreciated by a variety of readers. Quickly the book becomes an amalgam of mystery and suspense as the drama and comedy unfolds. We meet many interesting characters AND animals as well as clowns of all shapes and sizes and demeanor along the way.

As a debut novel, Matthew Ward has proven to be a great new voice in the field, and has also been a really enjoyable twitter feed as well as the fact that he’s really funny as a performer as evidenced by his attempts of breaking World Records himself.

THE FANTASTIC FAMILY WHIPPLE came out in August 2013 from Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin, so it’s available NOW at book stores everywhere. Go get it.

And to finish my article here’s my snap of Matt at Book Expo 2013:

100 Ghosts is a lot of Ghosts, The Perfect Amount

Here is a Twitter conversation I had with Doogie Horner in response to a questions I had about his forthcoming book 100 GHOSTS and working on the review:
Doogie Horner: “Writing about ghosts is like dancing about architecture.” –the ghost of Steve Martin
Reid Harris Cooper: Then it should be easy, I choreographed an entire ballet about the oeuvre of Frank Lloyd Wright. #liesthatlookedbetterinmyhead

If you’ve watched America’s Got Talent in a regular succession or follow comedians on Youtube or maybe even go to comedy clubs then you have had the privilege of hearing Doogie Horner‘s off the cuff, slightly irreverent humor that goes for fast laughs and good quips. If you haven’t well, you can either go watch him on Youtube or read him or twitter, his stuff is as funny on paper as it is on stage.

Another of his skills in comedy though is translating his thoughts into art. His first funny book was full of hilarious charts, all very pop-culture in nature, because, well, Doogie is a pure geek at heart. He loves all things books, comics, movies, television, all of it and it really shows.

His NEXT book is some of his most obscure humor though and it is very very quirky and quick witted but from the visual standpoint. Titled 100 GHOSTS: A GALLERY OF HARMLESS HAUNTS, it’s quite literally just that. 100 ghost drawings that are simply so harmless you can’t be scared but only laugh and smile at these silly-dilly floating sheets with eye holes.

While the majority of them are harmless, a few ARE creepy, scary, strange or bewildering. Especially things like Skull Ghost, but those as well as Muppet Ghost, Some Assembly Required Ghost, and Vinyl Ghost also show Doogie’s not only brilliance, but that he actually learned something in art school.

Yes, you read correctly, Doogie Horner is not a standup comedian, that’s his accidental career. At least I remember hearing that somewhere where he said something like that and in another video he mentioned going to art school. So let’s just go with that, because you know?


If THAT doesn’t make you want this book I don’t know what will. It means you have no soul, you aren’t even a harmless ghost, you’re a no ghost…. Not a Ghost. You know somewhere in this book there’s a ghost like that… probably, get a copy and check for me. 100 ghosts is a lot of ghosts!

100 GHOSTS: A Gallery of Harmless Ghosts from QUIRK Books comes out on September 10, 2013 for $9.95 in adorably sized hardcover.

For more information check out the books official website.

WILL & WHIT Book Review

In Laura Lee Gulledge‘s first graphic novel we got to meet a young artist discovering New York for the first time, the semi-autobiographical tale introduced us to Paige a determined woman in a big city making new friends and surviving obstacles. For her second feature Will & Whit, Laura goes a little further back in her semi-autobio while combining some of the events with more recent catastrophes to tell a more coming of age story about lifelong friends, the power of family in all forms, and letting go of your past to mark the future along.

Through only two full length tales and a variety of one page and short stories not seen in many markets, Laura has quickly established herself as someone who just intrinsically understands how to tell tales through sequential storytelling. Most amazingly she comes at not with a strict comics background though. As her time in the world of comics have quickly made her a favorite among fan and creator alike, it’s not where she bit her teeth. Window displays, set design, pure illustration, performance art, and more, Laura is truly versatile artist with a powerful voice.

Will & Whit focuses on a small town about to be hit by a hurricane while many young people are enjoying the summer and preparing for a small performance carnival in an abandoned structure. The protagonist Will is a sculptor of sorts, working in a thrift store and building lamps, haunted by shadows that seem to be memories. Will hasn’t had the easiest life, but all is not revealed to us till book’s end. Instead we get swept up in her teenage drama of love, friendship, triangles, creativity and going down the river.

WILL & WHIT officially came out on May 7th, 2013, but tonight (May 15th, 2013) at Housing Works Book Store in New York City there’s an exciting book release with a reading, a preview of the work-in-progress play version of the book and more fun.

After that event an addendum shall be added to this article/review.