Book Expo America 2012 – Day 3

On my final day of Book Expo America I only had a few things on the official agenda. I truly planned to spend the rest of the day searching, exploring and just leaping into what sounded fascinating. Of the five things in the schedule I was able to accomplish two of them, but I still walked away with an amazing amount of books.

In terms of one of the signings/events, it had been changed to the day before and I never got the notice. In terms of the others the lines for things at the same time were just so long that I had to make personal choices and one thing lost to another.

As before all these ship dates and information is based on the print versions of U.S. Releases and what information could be procured from the galleys/arcs and the internet.

The first signing that I was able to get down was Chip Kidd for his first official graphic novel Batman: Death By Design illustrated by Dave Taylor. Talking to Chip was excellent and this line was way longer than expected. Lots of comic fans at the show I guess. The book is absolutely gorgeous and a must have in my opinion for any Batman or comic lover. It is available now.

The other signing I was able to make it to was for Kirstie Alley. Unfortunately she was only signing postcards and wasn’t doing photos with people, but I was able to get one not bad shot of her. Weight loss wise she looks great. Her book The Art of Men (I Prefer Mine Al Dente) comes out in November.

Now in now particular order are the rest of the books/galleys/arcs I procured on Thursday. In the past I use to wait around till 3PM and see what “garbage” was left behind but since I’d gotten so many books I want to read and review the last two days I decided to leave my luggage at home and procured one of those McGraw-Hill bags and it was full by 2 PM on Thursday that I ended up having to use my portable and my book bag.

The newest America’s Test Kitchen collection is Quick Family Cookbook with at least 500 recipes ranging from dips, to pressure cooker meals to desserts it is a vast volume with instructions and lessons. This is an amazing tome to have. It’ll be available in October.

Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl with illustrations by Lisa K. Weber is an awesome children’s book about as the title suggests, a magical hotel. It comes out in August.

Neon Panic by Charles Phillip Martin is a gripping suspense mystery that takes place in 2003 Hong Kong. It is available now.

Amulet-Book Five: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi. I have loved Amulet since day one and this was an excellent thing to get to see long before it goes to final print. It is a truly amazing graphic novel serial which combines fantasy, sci-fi, friendship, conspiracy, steampunk, elves, time travel, anthromorphs and more. Kazu is a stellar artist and I so happy there will be two more volumes for this epic story. Book 5 arrives in September.

Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferell is scifi without being directly scifi, the way a Kurt Vonnegut book is never classified as scifi, despite it being so. It involves time travel and mystery and self-discovery and sounds fascinating. It comes out in February 2013! (That’s right 2013… only a book on time travel would have an ARC that far in advance).

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is the latest young adult novel from Susin Nielsen, former Canadian television writer/story editor/creator on shows such as Degrassi, Braceface and Robson Arms. Built around a teenager rebuilding his life after life happens (she did write for the show that “goes there” after all) the book arrives in September.

Becoming Holmes by Shane Peacock is the final installment in the young adult mystery series Boy Sherlock Holmes. After six books the sage comes to an end in October.

For The Sender by Alex Woodard is a very fascinating project, it is both a book & a cd inspired by four letters that created 12 songs and a very heartwarming book which I have skimmed enough to get the jist of this non-fiction adventure of creativity and faith. The ARC came with a sample of 5 of the 12 songs which were all amazing, but it was quite extra cool to hear Shawn Mullins singing on one. That Hay House edition comes out in September.

Telegraph Avenue is the newest from Michael Chabon, in what might be his most epic novel yet that starts from the simplest places. Scheduled for September 2012 it promises to explore running Vinyl records stores, big market America, the Black Panthers and even a Birthing Assistant company.

Keep Your Pantheon (and School)-Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet is a collection of two plays that as it said are unrelated, yet were performed as a dual production for Atlantic Theater Company in 2009. I love Mamet and these two are actually some of Mamet’s most unusual. The publication is available now.

The Prophet by Michael Kortya is a thriller in which murder seperates and then brings back together two brothers. The marketing is very focused on how Kortya has become a favorite writer of King, Koontz, Child, Patterson and other masters of mystery and suspense. It arrives in September according to the ARC, but August according to Michael’s website.

Eating Aliens by Jackson Landers is a memoir adventure based on the hunters experience in taking down and eating invasive animal species such as various iguanas, Asian carp, Nutria and more. It comes in September.

The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman by is a nail-biting intense and suspenseful tale of kidnapping and mystery. It arrives in November.

The Absolutionist by John Boyce is a historical period piece taking place in the UK directly after The Great War (better known as World War One). It explores queer themes, but is a much larger canvas for the atrocities of war and the bonds of friendship. It is available now.

Professor Gargoyle by Charles Gilman is the first in a series called Tales From Lovecraft Middle School, a young reader’s horror which will feature super creepy lenticular covers.

Dark Lord by Jamie Thomson Dirk Lloyd is a dark humor for kids with illustrations by Freya Hartas that takes on the concept that the lead character has forced the writer to create the book. It comes out in October.

Meat Eater-Adventures from The Life of an American Hunter is a memoir from TV host ,food & nature expert, hunter, and chef Steven Rinella. It arrives in September.

Gold is the newest novel by Chris Cleave. It’s a tale of friendship and competitition as two women are headed to the Olympics for cycling. It arrives in July.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult/teen supernatural suspense thriller and possibly Disney/Hyperion’s next big franchise. It arrives in December.

BZRK by Michael Grant is a near future young adult novel about a technological war. It is a fully immersive project with a very dedicated website which expands the universe in amazing ways. It is available now.

Starry River of the Sky is a fantasy novel for young readers written and illustrated by Grace Lin and is a follow-up to her Newbery honored Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It is based in Chinese folklore and releases in October.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets by Kathleen Alcott is a debut novel. It tells the tale of two brothers who suffer from sleep walking and the neighboor who helps them, falls in love, guides them and makes a family. It comes out in September.

SEED by Ania Ahlborn is a horror suspense thriller about a long hidden darkness reemerging for a man who thought he escaped his past. It has come out in ebook format, but officially comes out in print in July.

The First Rule of Ten – A Tenzing Norbu Mystery by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay is about a Tibetan Buddhist private eye. The first book came out in January and they are hard at work on the next.

Voyage to Kázohina by Sandor Szathmári is a Hungarian modern classic, never before published in English outside of Hungary. It’s a retaking of Gulliver’s Travels first appearing in 1941. This edition shall be available in July.

The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song by Frank M. Youngand David Lasky is only sampled in the galley offered by Abrams ComicArts, but you can tell that this story about the early recordings of folk/country music group and how they came to be in graphic novel format. The final edition will include a CD of rare radio recordings. It comes out in October.

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught is a teen psychological mystery involving the search for a missing girl and the possible suspect, her best friend who is schizophrenic. It comes out in August.

A few more items were procured including books out since mid 2011, preview sheets, blads, etc. So much stuff I can’t even really understand it all.

I do understand that Book Expo America for all its inherent, natural faults from being what it is, is the most awesome thing going for book, book publishing and pushing and focusing the book market as an event and I love being a small part of it. Although one day I hope like many others to be a larger part of it, be it as an author, PR person or editor.

From New Zealand to Monaco- BOY x SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN

To travel around the world without leaving home there are only three ways. The first is to jump around the internet which really doesn’t count, the next is to visit Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida which has a pavilion of buildings representing many countries except unless you live in Orlando that would count as leave home, so the real way is through the power of film and exotic restaurants. The added addition of films is you get to time travel as well.

On the last week/first week of February/March 2012 I got to visit New Zealand, India, The United Kingdom and Monaco and each adventure was quite amazing.

It started out with getting to see Taika Waititi’s latest feature BOY at a special screening at Knitting Factory Brooklyn. Taika is an Oscar nominated film maker who is best known for his very popular Eagle vs. Shark and his work with Flight of the Conchords. BOY takes place in the early 80s and tells a truly funny, smart and compelling film about a young man in rural New Zealand. He lives in a very small town full of lush landscapes and beauty in a very poor but sustainable lifestyle. The bulk of the film is about his father’s return to town after a stay in prison and the changes that come to Boy’s life in that time. The film has some awesome fantasy sequences including animation, music video recreations and uproarious photo montages. The film has so much heart, but its also full of kinetic energy. The landscape scenes of New Zealand’s lush green are an amazing stark contrast to the poverty of the houses and town, creating a vibe in the film of hope full with hopeless that so much of life contains. When so much changes, it also always feels the same, as people come in and out of your life, relationships change, emotions evolve, personalities develop further and BOY finds a way to express all that through a simple story with complex situations.

After the film I had the pleasure to meet Taika himself and he was very down to Earth and open. That feels like it’s changed a bit in his very humorist updates on his Kickstarter, but I’m pretty sure it’s still humble despite the films instant smash success in America. I had asked him some simple questions about the film, in both its making and its message and he expressed himself with an honest and passionate discussion. If you have the chance to see BOY while its on its US tour, do so… but hopefully this will all lead to a North American DVD/Bluray available at a reasonable price and not imported from New Zealand for multi-zone players.

Before seeing BOY I had dinner at Bay Leaf, an excellent Indian place off of Bedford. It’s actually from what I can tell the only Indian cusine in that area of Williamsburg. Traditionally I have Thai when out there, but since I was alone for the evening I got to try out this place and it was excellent. Actually some of the best tasting Indian I’ve ever had. I ended up having Indian again on Thursday at one of the places on 1 and 6th and they paled in comparison at least flavor style, in my opinion. Both meals were amazing and filling, but Bay Leaf was a tantamount experience followed by an amazing movie I had really desired and meeting its star.

I had gone to Sunshine Cinema on Thursday evening to see a Village Voice screening of SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt with Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas. It was directed by Lasse Hallström from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, two masters of adapting complicated novels into exceptional films. The novel in question here is by the same name and was written by Paul Torday, while never having not read the book, I ascertain from what I can find online that it was very comedic in nature, a great satire filled with a poignant story. The film strips a a bit of that comedy down to just the barest essentials I feel, but still delivers a poignant story with a completely non-allegorical political message alongside an a subtly allegorical life message. Amr Waked is the best thing in this entire film outside of the travelouge. His performance is so strong it is unfortunate when this film has debuted in America, as if it wasn’t directly after The Oscars he would be a shoo-in for a Best Supporting Actor nomination if not a win and as there’s no Acting Nods for foreign films, well… He is just that good though. As said, next comes the visuals. The film travels throughout the UK and Monaco and truly shows them off with a flair. A much higher flair than New Zealand is shown in BOY, but here LOCATION was a character where in BOY it was just a setting. Every space becomes as important to the events and the story as the people themselves. Traditionally one would credit the Director of Photography for this, but Terry Stacey’s previous work was never at a scale like this, so I’ve gotta think that Beaufoy’s script and Lasse’s directing propels this magnificence. Look at Simon’s 127 Hours or Slumdog Millionaire or Hallström’s many films to see their hands in the work no matter who the cinematographer is. SALMON is parable in many ways, just as the concept of salmon fishing in the yemen is a metaphor for life itself.

Through these two films and two wonderful meals I got to see and feel life, love and imagination and for just a moment feel like I’d left New York City and traveled the world.

(It must be stated that unfortunately BOY is currently only scheduled for the following cities: New York, Throughout California (LA, SF, etc.), Boston,  Seattle, Washington DC, Atlanta, GA and Santa Fe in Texas with various different opening dates at specific theaters which you can see here.

and SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN opened March 9th in Limited Theaters in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC and Philadelphia. Info can be found here.

As stated above on BOY, hopefully both films will recieve North American DVD/Blu-Ray releases, they are both worthy.)

Made for Each Other – Having a monster for a boyfriend

High School romances are a tricky practice. Telling quality stories about Highschool romance are an even trickier practice. They’re set-up to be hokey automatically. Looking at any of the best romantic comedy films movies about people in High School and falling in love, they have a penchant for cheesiness and ridiculous. The best of them seem to have a penchant for staying charming or endearing through their supporting characters and just something inherent.

Imagine if they tried to do that in a graphic novel, but also throw in a supernatural element. That addition could easily bring things over the top in silliness, but delicately balances that edge between sweet and ridiculous.

I was attracted to wanting to look at this after researching the online art of Eldon Cowgur. I was not familiar with him before this, but the cover pulled me in and when I saw his webcomic Astray3 I knew I had to see what he would do with a longer format comic.



While it was Eldon’s art that brought me in, he actually had a variety of flaws in art in such a larger format. Nothing super jarring, but if it wasn’t for Paul D. Storrie‘s script there was no way I’d finish this graphic novel. While the begginning starts off in a little bit too much of “You are joining us in a program that already in progresss” feel, it quickly catches up with itself and is smooth sailing from there. Discovering our female star, our male love interest and then our quirky and fun supporting cast comes with clever dialogue and what I have to assume concepts from Storrie which Eldon bring to life perfectly.

This is by far not the most perfect book. The full page reveal of the MAIN monster of this tale is not as TA-DOW as possible. While it is a great drawing into itself, in context, the dude is just not ugly enough. That’s really not a deal breaker to the enjoyment of this one and I say check it out if you like comics and romance.

I believe it was designed to reach out to kind of reader who doesn’t read and would rather read a comic, but it is pretty heavy in its comic book story-telling devices and it is not something someone who isn’t already reading comics to check it out, but what do I know?

This review was derived from a digital galley from Net Galley.  Special thanks to them and to publisher Capstone Books.

Up, Up and Chocolate Covered Banana!

I’ve been a fan of Art Balzatar since some of his earliest work in “The Cray Baby Adventures” and have been happy to follow him through the years with his self published “Patrick the Wolf Boy” (co-created with Franco) and his Disney Adventures’ serial “Gorilla, Gorilla”.

When “TINY TITANS” debuted in 2008, I was super excited to see Art, alongside Franco working on an out of continuity super cute easy to read and enjoy superhero comic that could feature your favorite superhero at any time. For over thirty issues, the brand of humor combined with simple, clever eye-popping cartoon visuals, the book has continually delivered.

Last year I first heard of Art getting a new gig as the illustrator to a series of children’s books based on the adventures of The Super-Pets. I was excited to see what his super cute art style could bring to adorable animals with super powers.

Luckily I have finally been able to appreciate one of these books through NetGalley and publisher Capstone Books.

That book is “Midway Monkey Madness” and it is absolutely charming. I’m not familiar with writer Sarah Hines Stephens but her writing is fast paced, jovial and fun, which perfectly suits Art’s strengths as an illustrator as well as being perfect for young readers as designed.

While the star of the book is Beepo, the Super Monkey and boy does Art draw a cute monkey I must exclaim I loved that The Wonder Twins show up with their monkey Gleek. The Wonder Twins are silly, kind of dorky, but something about them are endearing and when used right are just fun-loving and awesome. This is one of those time.

These picture books combine the excellence of good young children’s books with the awesomeness of a comic book with sound effects, usage of well known and established characters and lots of action. I highly recommend this and sight unseen the rest of the Super Pets series to parents who want a fun read for their kids and comic fans who can’t get enough of Art Balzatar’s art.


Dogs ala Steadman


One of the world’s greatest cartoonists, painters and humorists Ralph Steadman has done many types of books. Fiction, children’s stories, guides to wine country, a biography of Sigmund Freud, versions of Alice in Wonderland and of course the seminal work Fear and Loathing.

His latest book focuses on dogs. It is not his first book about dogs, but the first with the obvious title of The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs. Full of images spanning 1996-2010 it is a truly fun romp. Almost all of Steadman’s style are here. His gonzo style of sketches with text, his abstract painting, his blots alongside extremely realistic depictions.

There seems to be an attempt at a humorous guide to raising dogs within the 90+ page volume. I find Steadman’s artistic, but sloppy gonzo pen quite difficult to read perfectly, but I admire it from a conceptual sense. The images are very hit or miss, which has been my experience with Steadman on the usual. Some of his caricatures are just shockingly ingenious, while others are head scratching perplexing and not in the good way. I will stare at an image and be completely lost in what he was trying to convey and yet then the next image will be like a bulls-eye shot. Nail on the head perfection of what illustration can provide and offer.

This book I feel definitely fits a much more Steadman niche market than previous endeavors. Dogs are not as universal as wine. Drawings of dogs are not going to be a lot of people’s cup of tea. Especially when most people can not agree on how tea should be served or which are the best kind of leaves. Besides the point, fans of Steadman probably do not agree on what is better; his intrinsic abstract color work or his awkward or his sensible black and white sketch work. I like the pieces that combine all his conceptualizations, techniques and styles into one cohesive image.

The Book of Dogs doesn’t have many of those, but it has plenty that a Steadman fan should appreciate. It is not the greatest choice as an introduction to Ralph though, as it doesn’t truly show off what his delicate mad mind has the ability to create. If you are a fan of Steadman, it is definitely one to add to your collection, if not, go become a fan, so you want to add it.

The US Edition of The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs is scheduled to come out May 4, 2011 from Houghton-Mifflin Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  This review is based off an Internet Galley.