Books

Books

Fri
18
May

Bellin's ECOSYSTEM Beautifully Served, Bitter to Swallow

Ecosystem

​Imagine a sentient, hostile world focused on the destruction of all human life. In Joshua David Bellin's ECOSYSTEM, Mother Earth has rejected her evil human inhabitants, driving them near extinction. Only small pockets of humanity remain, having evolved to combat their inevitable destruction by becoming "in tune" to the language of nature--a language that requires using previously untapped human abilities, a sixth sense requiring extreme mental energy, emotional control, and physical exertion. This "Force of Nature" is the only gift that allows humanity to exist on the planet. These highly gifted individuals serve important roles in the community, taking back from nature what it previously provided, such as food, wood, shelter, and other natural elements used for the benefit of mankind.

Tue
08
May

What If You Really Got Into a Good Book? Anna Day's THE FANDOM

The Fandom

In Anna Day's THE FANDOM, the characters are obsessed with a novel by Sally King titled The Gallows Dance, which has a huge following. The novel has been developed into a movie, and the characters are included in Comic-Con.

Violet and her best friends, Alice and Katie, have their costumes and are extremely excited about attending Comic-Con.  Violet’s younger brother, Nate, is also a big fan and goes along with them. Alice is a fan-fic writer who likes changing the plot of The Gallows Dance, because no sequel has been written: Sally King has killed herself.

Mon
30
Apr

Reinventing Pink Floyd Packed with Enough Info to Leave You Comfortably Numb

Reinventing Pink Floyd

REINVENTING PINK FLOYD, published by Roman & Littlefield, is written by Bill Kopp, who, as the book denotes, is a lifelong music enthusiast, musician, collector and, since the 90s, a music journalist. The book covers the Pink Floyd's history from the time founding member Syd Barrett left the band in 1968 through the release of the album DARK SIDE OF THE MOON in 1973, detailing how the band members interacted, grew, and evolved along the way.

For those only familiar with Pink Floyd from DSotM, it may be hard to grasp why someone would write a book concerning such a narrow, though important, time frame, when everything they did since kind of went along the same path. But as you dig into early Floyd and listen to the music from that time period, you realize the music was indeed very different pre-DSotM, as with THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, ATOM HEART MOTHER, and others, highlighting the eccentricities of the group's leader, Syd Barrett.

Wed
11
Apr

Dixon, Smith Lampoon Clintons in Graphic Adaptation of Peter Schwiezer Takedown Book

Clinton Cash GN

The modern political landscape is a labyrinthe so torturous and dizzying that those who live outside it are often happy they do not understand it. Ignorance, after all, is bliss, and those who do completely understand the inner workings of the machine never seem all that happy about having the knowledge.

For all the misery that comes with political knowledge, there sure are a lot of books on the subjects -- and an awful lot of people buying them, depending on the season. Case in point: Peter Schwiezer's point-by-point takedown of the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 campaign, which was greatly anticipated, hotly debated, and, now, nearly antiquated (such is the speed of the news cycle).

While much was made of the anecdotes relating to UraniumOne, Rosatom, and Ericsson, the overall gist of the book was to demonstrate a pattern of enrichment, following the players and the flow of money across a blurred-line overlap of political favors and charitable donations. 

Mon
09
Apr

The Hall Monitors are Fired, Leaving Eerie Elementary Students at Risk!

Eerie Elementary #8

Orson Eerie found a way to live forever -- by embuing his soul into the building and grounds of Eerie Elementary School. Unfortunately, he needs to feed his power by (gulp) eating students! Only the hall monitors have historically stood in his way, and the current batch of hall monitors -- Sam, Lucy and Antonio -- have thus far been able to thwart every evil plan the school has concocted.

Now, with the annual kickball competition on the horizon, Orson Eerie finds a way to eliminate his opposition, by doing little things to teachers when the hall monitors are around to make it look like the hall monitors are misbehaving or acting disrespectful. Events conspire to make them late for class, or doors slam in the faces of teachers. It's enough to get the hall monitors fired!

Wed
04
Apr

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

The Berlin Wall is built overnight splitting Berlin in half.  Gerta remains in communist East Berlin with her mother and older brother, Fritz, where the government and rules are very strict.  Gerta’s father and her other brother, Dominic, are caught on the democratic western side while visiting.  To Gerta, the western side of Berlin represents freedom and independent thinking.

Will Gerta’s family ever be reunited?

Wed
21
Mar

Celebrating 65 Years of the White House with Wings, Air Force One

Air Force One 65 Year Anniversary

Technically, "Air Force One" is the designation for any airplane that carries the President of the United States -- although when we hear the phrase, it is generally in reference to one of  two specially modified Boeing 747 jumbo jets. Even when the Presidents began flying, the designation went from Guess Where II and Sacred Cow (both with FDR), Independence (with Truman) and Columbine I and II (for Eisenhower) before it finally settled, sixty-five years ago, on the Air Force One call sign.

Now Robert F. Dorr and Nicholas A. Veronico have compiled not just a photographic historical retrospective of the various plans that have filled the role, but also a unique collection of anecdotes surrounding the evolution of the planes, missions they have flown, and other various methods of air travel for Presidents.

Mon
19
Mar

John Oliver takes aim at Mike Pence in "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo"

Note: This review is for the Audible version.

Mon
12
Mar

5 with 806 Author Cynthia Weil

Cynthia Weil

If you're not familiar with the name Cynthia Weil, you're almost certainly familiar with her work, with Grammy-winning songs like "Somewhere Out There" from AN AMERICAN TAIL, or perhaps that classic Righteous Brothers song (or Tom Cruise song, depending on your outlook), "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

Weil is also a novelist of YA books, and her latest, 806, follows three biological siblings on a search for their father, known to them only as "Donor 806."

 

In the hit Broadway show—Beautiful, The Carole King Musical—many of your songs are included and you and your husband/cowriter, Barry Mann, are part of the show with actors portraying your young selves…how has that impacted your career?

Fri
23
Feb

POTUS Thump Takes Best Book Prize by a Hare

POTUS Thump Best Book 2017

The Best Book category was probably one of the closest, most hotly contested races of the entire Best of 2017 awards. And why shouldn't it be? Every nominee was an excellent title, as we let the genres and styles all battle it out for a single trophy. The YA and the SF, the adult books vs. the kids books -- if it had pages and was bound, it was a book and thus eligible for nomination.

When the dust settled, it was hard to tell the winner at first. The top five were clearly included Gerald Welch's SHATTERED PROPHECY (the latest in THE LAST WITNESS saga). However, pinning him down was David J. Pedersen's BURNING WITH ANGST (of Pedersen's ANGST series).

Wed
14
Feb

Are you a fidgeter like I am? This is the book for you!

Fidget: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Your Stress by Heather Fishel

Paperback - $14.99 ($10.99 on Amazon)

Tue
13
Feb

When Clod Makes a Friend, Pedersen Makes a Classic

Clod Makes a Friend

At the tender age of 9, young Clod's future is already written for him. It's not just that he's overly large and clumsy, but in a world where everyone has some magic, it is determined that Clod has none. That's the decree of his teacher, the Learned Yugen, who thinks it best that Clod's mother prepare him for a life of menial labor. But the cruel headmaster is wrong: Clod does have magic, it's just magic that Yugen cannot sense, and when Yugen discovers that, things get even worse for Clod, as his label gets upgraded from "worthless" to "evil."

Bullied at school, Clod takes refuge with the clay his mother brings home daily after working. And in a fit of loneliness and longing, Clod makes a friend: literally. Ada is a small girl at first, made from clay but being so much more than that while she is alive. She lasts a while then turns to ash until Clod remakes her, each time a little better and a little bigger, and each time she lasts a little longer.

Mon
12
Feb

Hooray for Baby Monkey, Private Eye!

Some days, we all have a little trouble putting on our pants.

Meet Baby Monkey, Private Eye, the cutest little sleuth in the business and presented in a format that will entertain littles and literati alike. Caldecott medalist Brian Selznick (THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, WONDERSTRUCK) teams with debut children's author David Serlin to launch a wonderful set of stories that are whimsically silly and chock-full of highbrow Easter eggs.

Baby Monkey's office is brimming with a different set of artwork and knick-knick nacks for each new adventure, themed to match the story. Older readers will appreciate this, even as they chuckle at Baby Monkey preparing for each job that is brought to him, said preparation always involving the important tasks of looking for clues, taking notes, eating a snack, and putting on pants.

Fri
09
Feb

Canterbury Classics Provide Shelf Appeal with New Bindings for Timeless Tales

Illustrated Classics

I grew up in books. They were all over the place. There were the slim hardbound Weekly Readers that regularly found their way into my collection. There were the dog-eared paperbacks in the classroom library. There were the well-read Readers' Digest anthologies and unabridged classics and Big Little Books and (yes) more comic books than a reasonable person could count (and I knew exactly how many there were).

Tue
06
Feb

Three Cheers for SPARKS!

Sparks!

No one would ever guess that the secret identity of Sparks, a heroic super-dog...

...is actually two cats!

August and Charlie are two escaped felines from a laboratory that is definitely up to no good. Their intelligence has been boosted, but August's is off the charts. So much so that when she ran back to her original home with her new friend, Charlie, only to find the house abandoned and up for sale, she sold some of the leftover items in the house online, parlayed the money in the stock market, and then bought the house for herself, all using a laptop.

But August has one irrational fear: grass. This keeps her from ever going outside unprotected. And so she built a robotic dog suit for outdoor adventuring. With her running the computer in the rear and Charlie navigating from the front, they take Sparks out to rescue babies and perform good deeds.

Wed
10
Jan

The "Ultimate" Roblox Book?

Ultimate Roblox Book

Judging a book by its cover, David Jagneaux's THE ULTIMATE ROBLOX BOOK: AN UNOFFICIAL GUIDE is visually appealing. The hard, glossy binding; bold title font, pictures, use of color, compact size, and thickness are all a huge win. You could picture this book sitting on your desk, picking it up, fanning the pages, perusing its large font, clear graphics, screenshots, explanations, bullets, and continuous use of the top seller banner throughout. Stunning to say the least.

The title of the book, at first glance, also grabs your attention. Using a power word like ULTIMATE would seem to indicate all users, at any level, would not only benefit from reading it, but that it would offer immense value. What should an ultimate guide contain? Beginning 101 account creation? How to create games? How to script? Advance power user techniques? Examples? And much more! But does it accomplish its objective, or is it just another gimmick to lure an easily persuaded gift-giver? 

Thu
04
Jan

Because Nothing Says Inclusivity Like Banning an Hispanic Author, Worldcon 76 Locks Out Jon Del Arroz

Jon Del Arroz

Jon Del Arroz is a serious science fiction author. And by serious, I mean he's taken the time and trouble to join the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America guild, something I've bothered to do, and now probably never will.

Del Arroz, an Hispanic, was planning to attend Worldcon 76, when he received notice that they were disallowing his attendance, stating he had intended to break their code of conduct. "Worldcon 76 strives to be an inclusive place in fandom, as difficult as that can be, and racist and bullying behavior is not acceptable at our Worldcon."

Because nothing says inclusivity and anti-racism like banning an Hispanic author from your event.

What triggered this reaction? What was it that Del Arroz had done to merit sucha response? Had he published a political manifesto? Posted with a frillion AK-47s on Facebook? Publicly burned a picture of Ray Bradbury?

Wed
27
Dec

LEGO Science Combines Fun and Fact for Young and Old

LEGO Science

What's cooler than a LEGO scientist minifigure that comes with two clear beakers filled with different colors? The book she comes with, of course!

The latest in the line of LEGO ADVENTURES IN THE REAL WORLD is LEGO SCIENCE, and where LEGO FARM was a Level 1 reader for beginners, LEGO SCIENCE is a emBIG book with sections devoted to chemistry, matter, space, inventions, physics, and much more! You'll be building water molecules from LEGO, learning how things work, why they work, and the often amazing ways things were discovered. You'll be given build challenges along the way -- but not just to create something, but answer science questions about them, like the kind of energy used to build your pair of racecars, and what things you could apply to make them faster.

Sat
23
Dec

Review - Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

After defeating the evil jumbie Severine, you'd think the people on Corinne LeMar's island home would be praising her. Instead they fear her. She's half jumbie after all and can't be trusted because of it. And when children start disappearing Corinne is the first suspect on everyone's list. To clear her name and rescue the missing children, Corinne must tag up with her old friends and seek out a water jumbie, Mama D'Leau. But Mama D'Leau won't help Corinne and her friends without aking a bargain. Her friends must travel with mermaids across the ocean to Ghana to retrieve a magical object before Mama D'Leau will tell Corinne what happened to the missing children. With everything against her, Corinne must once again rely on her friends and her courage to save the missing kids and her reputation.

 

Thu
21
Dec

Nadia Fezzani and the Rise of the (Real Life) Super Hero

Real Life Super Heroes

Not a dream! Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story! The superheroes that have populated the four-color tales of the comic book pages have made the transition into reality. They go by names like Thanatos or Mr. Xtreme or Phoenix Jones. They have costumes and missions that drive them. And you may even have one operating in your city!

Author Nadia Fezzani has spent time with several of these crimefighters across the United States and Canada, and has chronicled her experiences in REAL LIFE SUPER HEROES from Dundurn. As anyone who frequents CriticalBlast knows, we have an affinity for the super hero as well as for those who appear publicly in costumes. So we were eager to speak with Ms. Fezzani and dig up a few more answers about the addition of these characters to real life society.

Is the Real Life Super Hero (RLSH) movement a fad, an extension of cosplay, or something larger--a step for societal evolution?

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