Wednesday, March 31, 2010

National Geographic Kids: If Stones Could Speak Book Review

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National Geographic Kids: If Stones Could Speak Book Review

About the Book: What are the secrets of the ancient stones? Were they a burial site, an ancient calendar, a sports stadium, a place of Druid worship... or even a site of sacrifice? World-renowned archaeologist Mike Parker-Pearson recently began a new quest to excavate the wider area around Stonehenge to answer these and many other questions. National Geographic helped sponsor their mission, and now Mike takes our young readers behind the scenes to experience this groundbreaking story first-hand, through the eyes of the experts.

Within the past three years, Mike and his team have revolutionized our understanding of Stonehenge by exploring the surrounding landscape for clues about the stones. The results have been breathtaking: the team recently unearthed the largest Neolithic village ever found in England. 

If Stones Could Speak brings young readers the inspirational story of the incredible discoveries now taking place at this World Historical Site. The informative and drama-driven text includes tales of dead bodies, cremations, feasting, and ancient rituals, as well as science like carbon dating. The images include some of those featured in National Geographic's cover story on the discoveries, for which the stones were "painted in light" at night with awe-inspiring results.

The expert text, stunning photography, and explanatory maps and illustrations will all help young readers see this ancient monument in totally new ways, and no doubt inspire future generations of archaeological explorers.

Our Take: Stone Henge has been a mystery for hundreds of years.  Where did it come from?  Who build it?  What was it for?  Is it a mystical porthole to another world or a human sacrifice alter?  This book takes a great stride into exploring the realities of Stone Henge and the possible history surrounding it.

This book is not only fantastic for kids, but for adults too.  I've been interested in Stone Henge since I was a youth and when reading this one with my kids I found it to be full of new and engaging information.  Its well-researched and serves as more of a field guide for the research that this team did around Stone Henge.  

This book would be great in any classroom or just for those interested in history.  We highly, highly recommend this one!

Handmade Underground Jewelry: 25 Fun Projects for All Occasions

Handmade Underground Jewelry: 25 Fun Projects for All Occasions

About the Book: Haute couture meets street culture in Handmade Underground Jewelry, where you'll find 25 cool jewelry projects to recreate the boutique look right in your own neighborhood. With basic skills that are easy to pick up and directions that echo the camaraderie of a craft group, the spirit of Handmade Underground Jewelry is fun, loose, experimental, and creative. Each chapter is devoted to a specific skill or technique, including beading, knotting, wire wrapping, and sewing. Plus, you'll learn how to combine techniques to make stunning pieces. For every project, you'll get

Step-by-step instructions and templates

Four-color photos and illustrations

Color charts and project variations with anecdotes

Helpful hints and cool ideas

From a vintage Whimsy Locket to a seared silk and seed bead bezel Nostalgia Brooch, the 25 projects in Handmade Underground Jewelry allow you to make truly unique pieces that look like they came straight out of a hip boutique, while still reflecting your personal style.

Our Take: One of my passions in life is to make jewelry.  It is one of my releases from stress, as many hobbies can be.  I buy books quite often for inspiration. I mean, we all need a little inspiration now and then don't we?!  Well, I did find this book inspiring for someone of my experience with beading and jewelry making skills, but I also think this book is ideal for new beader’s that would like to learn the basics.  The first 25 pages teaches you everything you'll need to know about how to construct a piece.  I truly wish I'd had this book 10 years ago when I was first learned about beading!  I spent countless hours trying and trying to figure things out that had someone with experience, or a decent book, shown me it would have saved me a lot of time.

As you get further in the book you'll find a lot of simple, yet beautiful projects to try.  25 of them to be exact.  The projects are very modern and a good reflection of what we are seeing currently in the jewelry shops and boutiques. For that matter, one of the mall stores I went into today had a piece that was nearly the same as one in this book.

I personally love the idea of incorporating feathers into my pieces.  I took that out of this book... I've never done it before and they told me step by step how to do it with ease!  I was very thankful for that!  I ran to my local craft store to buy a bag of them and instantly and made earrings full of personality. So,  hopefully this book will make you do just what I to the store and buy a few things to incorporate into your bead stash and most importantly, spark your creativity.

-Holly, Book Legion

How to Buy: Amazon or Wiley Press

Upcycled Accessories: 25 Projects Using Repurposed Plastic

Upcycled Accessories: 25 Projects Using Repurposed Plastic

About the Book: Ever wondered what to do with all those plastic grocery bags you have piling up? Fusing bags to make plastic fabric that you then sew with is not an entirely new concept, but never before has a book improved upon the existing technique by giving you creative add-ins to make the finished pieces more unique with an added artistic flavor. You will be guided through instructions on fusing plastic, then through 25 stepped-out projects that feature techniques such as incorporating crayon shavings, paints, stencils and plastic tulle. The book also includes projects that feature collage, fabric appliqu? and permanent marker designs. The book marries two hot subjects: eco-craft and sewing, yet stands apart by focusing on using a genuinely recyclable material - plastic.

Our Take:  I'm just like everyone else in the world these days, trying to do my part to save our planet for future generations.  Well, there is a large movement, especially among the young, to repurpose everything.  This book tackles one of the most common items we all throw away....the plastic bag.  You know, the ones you put your groceries in.  The one every single store puts your new purchases in.  I personally get nearly one hundred a month. Before, I'd repurpose them in a mannerism I won't share here.  Let's just say a lot of mine made there way to a landfill courtesy of our catbox! 

This new book teaches you how to bond these old bags together to make them thicker and easier to deal with.  Not too difficult, I must say.  Once you can do that there are 25 projects to make.  First,  I suggest you tackle one of the straight forward and easy projects such as, the little robot toy.  After that you can learn to insert additives such as glitter, paint, tissue paper to make your plastic even more interesting!  I personally really loved the coasters. I mean, they are made out of plastic and keep your furniture free of rings!  They're Perfect, in my opinion.

All you need for the book's projects is some plastic bags from a grocery store.  I'd recommend getting a variety so you will be able to use a variety of colors, maybe some things for inclusion, basic to moderate sewing skills, a sewing machine is ideal but I'd say all of these could be done by hand. I don't recommend it though, as it would just take a bit longer and who has the time?! But, hand sewing has the advantage of adding more character to your project.

I must comment that I've seen a few of these projects as products in some major retailers. So save yourself money and do it yourself (DIY)! Being in fashion and saving the world all at once?! Go super woman!

-Holly, Book Legion

Stick It!: 99 DIY Duct Tape Projects

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Stick It!: 99 DIY Duct Tape Projects

About the Book: Duct Tape: Dream designer material or simple adhesive used for binding purposes? Thanks to Stick It!, duct tape will become a valuable commodity in your house now that it can be coaxed into wacked-out wallets, wild wearables, punked-out paper goods, and funky jewelry that will bedazzle any outfit fit for all occasions! 

This invaluable guide—complete with folders and step-by-step directions—will lead you through 99 different craft projects so you’ll become your own ‘DT’ aficionado. Each project is leveled from: “Dude, my five-year-old sister could do that” to “Don’t even think about operating heavy machinery.” Told in an accessible “teen-speak” language hip tapesters will love, and reminiscent of Stitch ‘N Bitch and The Big Bad-Ass Book of Crafts, this book is appropriate for the new generation of cool and funky hand made craftsters. Read, unroll, and express your rockin’ self through creativity and, of course, duct tape!

Our Take:  The first time I encountered a Duct Tape wallet was in a little boutique. I was fascinated!  My father had always joked that anything could be fixed with Duct Tape, but I had always laughed at the idea.  Well, here was a wallet made completely of Duct Tape before my very eyes. How extraordinary!  I examined it and thought to myself "I'm not paying 40 dollars for this! I'll make it on my own with a 2 dollar roll of Duct Tape!"  I'm a DIY kind of girl, after all.

Well, here is an entire book with functional items made out of Duct Tape!  It has the wallet, which has now become a staple in most all the boutiques in my area, along with accessories, purses, and there is even a men's tie made of Duct Tape!  Everything from the very practical to the extremely eccentric.

I made my first wallet about 2 years ago and I was excited to have a reason to pull out my Duct Tape again!  After all I had bought nearly 10 different colors of it for wallet making.  I made several of the projects, like the necklaces, most of them were a quick make!  A book like this is always nice when you are a mother who doesn't have a lot of free time and want to make something quick!  Naturally some of them take a bit more time and more elbow grease but they are worth it for the amazing things you'll make!

-Holly, Book Legion
How to Buy: or Running Press

Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies

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 Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies

About the Book: Your clear, compassionate guide to managing BPD — and living well
Looking for straightforward information on Borderline Personality Disorder? This easy-to-understand guide helps those who have BPD develop strategies for breaking the destructive cycle. This book also aids loved ones in accepting the disorder and offering support. Inside you'll find authoritative details on the causes of BPD and proven treatments, as well as advice on working with therapists, managing symptoms, and enjoying a full life.
  • Review the basics of BPD — discover the symptoms of BPD and the related emotional problems, as well as the cultural, biological, and psychological causes of the disease
  • Understand what goes wrong — explore impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, identity problems, relationship conflicts, black-and-white thinking, and difficulties in perception; and identify the areas where you may need help
  • Make the choice to change — find the right care provider, overcome common obstacles to change, set realistic goals, and improve your physical and emotional state
  • Evaluate treatments for BPD — learn about the current treatments that really work and develop a plan for addressing the core symptoms of BPD
  • If someone you love has BPD — see how to identify triggers, handle emotional upheavals, set clear boundaries, and encourage your loved one to seek therapy
Open the book and find:
  • The major characteristics of BPD
  • Who gets BPD — and why
  • Recent treatment advances
  • Illuminating case studies
  • Strategies for calming emotions and staying in control
  • A discussion of medication options
  • Ways to stay healthy during treatment
  • Tips for explaining BPD to others
  • Help for parents whose child exhibits symptoms
  • Treatment options that work and those you should avoid

Our Take: When you or someone that you love has a mood disorder like Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar disorder it will greatly affect your life.  In fact, it can control all aspects of it and drive you into a bad place.  One of the greatest tools that we have as people is the ability to educate and understand.  The more you learn about something, the more comfortable and confident you can feel about it.  The Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies book is a great place to start for learning about BPD. 

The great thing that I found about this book, as a person with BPD, is that it helps you to understand yourself.  It is a difficult task trying to sift through wordy and stuffy psychology books, especially when your attention span isn't so good.  The Dummies guide really lays things out in an open, clean and skim-friendly way.  This loose format doesn't indicate a loss of content, though.  Its well-informed, intelligent while still being easy to understand.  It gives you everything from symptoms to medications commonly used to various ways for you and your loved ones to deal with your disorder.

This book is highly recommend if you or a loved one experieces BPD, or if you're just interested in the subject.  Human psychology is a fascinating topic!  We will be exmaining more books on BPD here at the Legion this week, so stay tuned for that.

How to Buy: or the Wiley Site

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An A-Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can't Pronounce

An A-Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can't Pronounce

About the Book: Cochineal extract, diacetyl, teriary butylhydroquinone, BHA, HFCS, MSG--it’s not just knowing how to pronounce what’s in your food, it's knowing what it does and how it can affect you that matters most. But with so many processed foods on the supermarket shelves and additives showing up in the most unlikely foods, that’s certainly a tall order. An A-Z Guide to Food Additives will help consumers avoid undesirable food additives and show them which additives do no harm and may even be nutritious. 

Designed to fit in a purse or pocket, this little book will serve as an "additive translator" when navigating through the landmine field of additives or ingredients that may cause allergic reactions like headaches, fatigue, and breathing difficulties or those that cause bloating or make one hyperactive. Included are safety ratings to 300 ingredients and reference charts of such additives as those that may potentially cause cancer or allergic reactions or that should be limited for sodium-sensitive individuals. There is also essential nutrition advice, hints on what to look for when reading those unreadable ingredient labels, and even tips on buying fresh produce in order to avoid pesticides.

Our Take: With all the talk today about high-fructose corn syrup and is it or isn't it good for you, well it has a lot of people thinking about what is truly good for you in your food.  I've that found people are noticing all these names of stuff in their food and they have no idea what any of it is. Who knows what Alginate is for example? ...And if it is something they ought to be eating or not? Well, the A-Z Guide of Food Additives book says 'never eat what you can't pronounce.'  While that is a good general philosophy, some things that you can't pronounce aren't so bad for you. I'm sure we can all agree upon that.  Sure, you can pronounce baking soda but Alginate is simply brown seaweed.  It is used as a thickener in a lot of the products we use on a daily basis. In this book where they rate things from an A to an F on how good for you, Alginate is given an A+.

This is book is even small enough to fit in your pocket or your purse. So, when you go do your grocery shopping you can look up all those fancy names and make your own decision on whether you are going to buy a product or not.  Who can resist that?

At the end of this book there is a section that I found very eye opening.  It lists the ingredients that are potential cancer-causing food additives, additives that may provoke allergic reactions, additives that may cause gastrointestinal effects plus much more.  I found this book and it's information to be absolutely wonderful and so helpful in my quest for true health.  Now, I can go buy something processed and feel confident that everything in it is something I can ingest.  I mean, we can't all make everything from scratch every single night, so its nice to know what we have for options that meet our modern sensibilities. 


How to Buy: or the Conari Press Website

Monday, March 29, 2010

National Geographic Kids: Weird But True! Book Review

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About the Book: At last, all those weird but true facts that readers of National Geographic Kids love so much are collected into a fun-filled book that you'll come back to again and again!

Weird But True is based on the hugely popular magazine page of quirky, fun facts that many readers of National Geographic Kids magazine turn to first. Why? Well did you know that...

* Peanut butter can be converted into a diamond?

* The world's oldest pet goldfish lived to be 43 years old?

* The world's longest soap bubble was as long as four school buses?

* On Neptune, the wind blows up to 1,243 miles an hour?

* An elephant's tooth can weigh as much as a bowling ball?

All of the facts in this handy book will amaze friends and family: Animals Superpowers, Chills and Thrills, Eat or Be Eaten, Mini and Mega, Wild and Crazy, and much, much more. Adjacent pages for such facts present a one-paragraph explanation of how that fact is possible or why it is so.
Wacky facts, fascinating information, and lively art combine in this easy-to-browse, casual reference book that is sure to give young readers hours of fun.

Our Take: We like to shake things up here on Book Legion and throw in reviews of kids books, along with adults titles.  I know that I appreciate that, as a parent.  I'm always looking for fun and educational books for my own kids.  A great place to start is always National Geographic Kids!  This newest title is 'Weird But True!' 

This could easily be a boring book with factoid after factoid thrown out at us about how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie-roll pop, but instead its a great small sized softcover book with full-color images with one to three facts on each page.  This book will easily keep the attention of anyone from a young kid to an adult just sitting around killing time.

A few of the more interesting facts include that a peanut isn't actually a nut and that spiders have clear blood.   I learned more in five minutes of flipping through this book that I normally would in reading an entire trivia book, because each fact is well sectioned off and it gives you time to absorb them with the related image.  It sounds simple, but it works!  This would make a great Easter basket stuffer!

How to Buy: The National Geographic Store

Kick Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie Book Review

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About the Book: Kick-Ass, the bestselling comic book series by Mark Millar (writer of the graphic novel Wanted, which became a smash-hit movie) and artist John Romita Jr., is now an eagerly awaited film, and this is the essential companion book!

What would happen if you tried to be a superhero? What would happen when an ordinary kid in a spandex costume comes face-to-face with the criminal underworld? Comic book fan and high school student Dave Lizewski, aka the self-styled vigilante Kick-Ass, is about to find out... and it’s going to get really, really violent!

Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie features creator Mark Millar's unique commentary on the conversion of his bestselling comic to the big screen, with hundreds of movie photos! Adults only

Our Take: If you read comic books and you're up on the buzz, then you've heard of Kick-Ass.   Its a creator-owned comic book that was put out under the Marvel 'Icon' imprint.  It features the writing of Mark Millar and the art of the great John Romita, Jr.  The basic idea behind the comic is what would happen if regular people, with no super powers, became heroes.  The result is a mix of mania and violence that takes the reader on a great ride.  The book had an amazing amount of attitude.  I remember one of the first ads I saw for the book had the tagline "Fuck Crime".

This book 'Creating the Comic, Making the Movie' delves into the behind the scenes details of what has happened in this new franchise.  I didn't realize this, but Kick-Ass was almost immediately being worked on as a feature film.   This book is ultra-detailed, far more than I figured it'd be.  These types of books are usually little fluff pieces, but this is a 175 page jam-packed look into the comic and film.  It features everything from commentary from writer Mark Millar to story boards from the film and sketches from John Romita, Jr.

I wouldn't normally feature a movie companion book, but this one goes above and beyond the norm.  If you're a fan of Kick-Ass, you'll need this one.  If you're not into it yet, pick this one up and see why you should be! 

How to Buy: the Titan Books website

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Uncommon History of Common Things Book Review

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 An Uncommon History of Common Things Book Review

About the Book: Sometime about 30,000 years ago, somebody stuck a sharp rock into a split stick—and presto! The axe was born. Our inquisitive species just loves tinkering, testing, and pushing the limits, and this delightfully different book is a freewheeling reference to hundreds of customs, notions, and inventions that reflect human ingenuity throughout history.

From hand tools to holidays to weapons to washing machines, An Uncommon History of Common Things features hundreds of colorful illustrations, timelines, sidebars, and more as it explores just about every subject under the sun. Who knew that indoor plumbing has been around for 4,600 years, but punctuation, capital letters, and the handy spaces between written words only date back to the Dark Ages? Or that ancient soldiers baked a kind of pizza on their shields—when they weren’t busy flying kites to frighten their foes?

Every page of this quirky compendium catalogs something fascinating, surprising, or serendipitous. A lively, incomparably browsable read for history buffs, pop culture lovers, and anyone who relishes the odd and extraordinary details hidden in the everyday, it will inform, amuse, astonish—and alter the way you think about the clever creatures we call humans.

Our Take: National Geographic wows us again with this hardcover book on some of the most interesting bits of trivia you may have ever had the pleasure to stumble upon.   I know that I'm always looking for interesting fun facts and trivia.

The first thing that strikes me about this book is the layout.  Its hardcover, as I previously mentioend, with a dust jacket.  The inside is laid out quite nicely with many illustrations and sections to make for easy and light reading.  You can tackle one item at a time or entire chapters.  The book is divide up into various sections with info about foods, American culture, signs and much more.   Do you know the true origins of football?  How about what witch hazel does?  Did you know that velcro isn't actually allowed to be called velcro?  Did you know that a form of cereal has been consumed for breakfast for over 17,000 years?!   I'm telling you, this book is absolutely amazing!

This quirky and interesting book is chock-full of juicy tidbits and fun knowlege that will make any history buff jump for joy!   We HIGHLY recommend picking this one up immediately.  Its great for any teacher of all ages or anyone interested in trivia!

How to Buy: or the National Geographic Website

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Little Black Book of Chicago Review

The Little Black Book of Chicago Review

About the Book: From skyscrapers to sports, blues to bratwurst, the Magnificent Mile to the magnificent lakefront, Chicago has it all!

With user-friendly fold-out maps and insider tips, this pocket guidebook walks you through the best the Windy City has to offer. Here's what to see and do, and where to eat, drink, shop, stay, and play--from the Art Institute to Wrigley Field to Oak Park and beyond! ''Top Picks'' direct you to not-to-be-missed attractions. Handy ''Notes'' pages are included to jot down all your favorites. 11 fold-out maps include neighborhood maps and a transit map.

Local author and journalist Margaret Littman is a frequent contributor to Chicago magazine, Wine Enthusiast, TimeOut Chicago, and other publications.

Makes a great city guide for yourself or gift book for a friend!

Our Take: We're located in the midwest here at the Legion.  Right in the middle of the country.  We have taken a number of trips to Chicago over the years, as its about 8 hours away, and they've been some of the best trips of our lives.   My wife and I have had a blast out there, even amidst the adversity of the 'big city'.   We're not exactly farm folk, but we were blown away by the city's scale at first.  The el train was an amazing experience and dealing with the locals was....interesting to say the least.  When we went there we stuck to the Clark and Belmont Wrigleyville area mostly.  This was back between 1999 and 2001, so there was a lot of the rave culture still going on, which we were deeply connected to.

Nowadays, I'd have NO idea where to go in Chicago.  Even back then, I stuck to one area, because I didn't really have a good guide out there or the time to research all of the things to do.  If only I'd had the little black book of Chicago!  This little guide has everything from fold-out maps to complete information on restaurants and attractions!  This is exactly what I needed and be rest assured I'll have it in my pocket the next time we get out to chi-town!  If you're planning a trip to Chicago anytime soon, pick this one up immediately, its a lifesaver!

How to Buy: The Peter Pauper Website

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bakugan: Battle Box Review!

Bakugan Battle Box Review!

About the Book: This novelty format includes a Bakugan Guide Book, Scorepad, Pen withscorekeeping scroll, and a Mini DVD featuring 1 episode in a trifold with magnetic closure.

Our Take: This premium format novelty box set comes with all that is seen above.  Bakugan is the big thing right now with grade schoolers.  My first grader can't talk to me for five minutes without mentioning Bakugan.  Its the first thing he hits in the toy isle, but honestly I get tired of just buying toys.  Fortunately, Scholastic has come through with not only a set of books, but this cool novelty box set.

The set has a DVD with an episode and the very unique score card and guide book.  That really sets this gift aside from something you could find in a toy isle.  Its far more unique and really ties well into the game playing aspect of the series.  This is the perfect item for an Easter son is getting one in his!

How to Buy: The Scholastic Store

Littlest Pet Shop: Official Collector's Sticker Books Volumes 1-4

Littlest Pet Shop: Official Collector's Sticker Books Volumes 1-4

About the Books: Girls can keep track of which pets theyve already collected by placing the stickers in the scrapbook-style book and recording each pets name, date of adoption, and more. Each volume includes 80 full-color stickers

Our Take: When I tell you that my 6-year old daughter loves the Littlest Pet Shop, I mean she LOVES them.  I haven't asked her to choose between her LPS toys and her daddy, because I'm afraid of her answer!  Little ones really love the cute, super-deformed animals.  These sticker books are a HUGE hit with her.

The four volumes each feature 80 stickers.  The pages are basically adoption certificates where kids can place the stickers and write in personal information about the animals and when they adopted them.  Its adorable.

These are great for Easter baskets or any kid between the ages of 2-8.   They can keep my daughter occupied for ages, just sticking the stickers and writing her stories inside.  I highly recommend these.

How to Buy: or the Scholastic Store

Skulls I-Clips..Magnetic Page Markers!

 Skulls I-Clips..Magnetic Page Markers!

About the Product: Our ''Skulls'' set of 8 i-clips, with skull and crossbones design, will warn others to keep out . . . of your books, papers, or fridge. These multipurpose folding magnets can be used as secure bookmarks, paper clips, fridge magnets, and more. Each set of 8 laminated i-clips is packaged in a clear plastic sleeve measuring 2-1/2'' wide x 7'' high. Each clip is 3/4'' wide x 1'' high, folded. Matches our ''Skulls'' Beaded Bookmark, Designer Pen, Journal, and Note Cards. Warning: Choking hazard—small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Our Take: The day of the bookmark is done.  We're always losing them or bending them..and honestly they're just too bulky for my taste.  The modern reader needs something a bit more compact and interesting.  Enter the iClip!   These cool clips snap right into the page you're reading and hold there with the strength of a magnet!  They have some cool designs, but my favorite is the skulls.   They're only $4 for a big sheet of them, my kids already stole most of mine, so I'll probably order some more soon, lol.  I just thought I'd pass along my recommendation for these, they're a great space saver and far cooler than the ol' bookmark.

How to Buy: The Peter Pauper Website

Leonardo's Notebooks Book Review

Leonardo's Notebooks Book Review

About the Book: The award-winning and bestselling collection of the exquisite, annotated notebooks of Leonardo now in paperback. Culled from more than 7,000 pages of sketches and writings found in various rare books, papers, and other resources throughout the world, Leonardo's Notebooks presents, for the first time, an exhaustive collection of the insights and brilliance of perhaps the finest mind the world has ever known.

H. Anna Suh selected the most fascinating of these studies, penned in the mid-15th century, and compiled them into one monumental volume that showcases Leonardo's observations and clearly illustrates them with more than 1,000 of his original sketches and exquisite line drawings. These elegant studies are of myriad topics, such as the nature of water, light and shade, perspective, philosophy, botany, astronomy, the proportions of the human figure, and many other subjects. The artwork has been carefully arranged with the text to augment and illuminate Leonardo's writings. In addition, his handwritten notes and fascinating marginalia are deciphered and translated.

Our Take: Leonardo DaVinci was a brilliant man.   Most people know him for his paintings, but he was responsible for far more than that.  His mind helped to inspire everything from the hang glider to the hydrolic pump.  He was so diverse in his creativity that he deserves a deeper look.  His thoughts and inventions were so far ahead of their time that many of them wouldn't be fully comprehended for hundreds of years.

In Leonardo's Notebooks we get a look inside DaVinci's sketch work.  Its clear that you're getting a peek into the mind of a genius.  An absolute creative genius.  I'm an artist and I myself have sketch books...I can assure you they're nothing like this, lol.  DaVinci has had his name in the spotlight in the past few years, due to that DaVinci code novel and all of the religious nonsense surrounding his works, but when you delve into the core of his work and his ideas, DaVinci was quite the forward thinker.  This man had a gift and was so far ahead of his time that its really quite sad that he couldn't see most of his works become a reality.  To him, this may have all been a fantasy.

You don't have to just appreciate art to get into this softcover book.  Its a great coffee table piece and is very inspirational to flip through.   You can get a wider understanding of his work and ideas, which span far beyond his paintings.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in art, history and or just interesting inventions.

How to Buy: or The Black Dog and Leventhal Site

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film - The Art - The Vision Book Review

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film - The Art - The Vision Book Review

About the Book: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film, The Art, The Vision book takes readers behind the scenes during the original production of Disney's classic animated film. On screen Jack Skellington sings with wonder at his discovery of Christmas Town, but the real stars of the show are the more than 140 artists and technicians who spent more than two years bringing Jack and all his cohorts to life on the screen. Every gesture Jack makes was created by a human hand, by an animator who moved the puppet in tiny increments from frame to frame. Every character, every set, every prop had to be designed and fabricated. This book tells the story of the film, highlighting the art and the vision that make the movie so memorable. USA.

Our Take: When the Nightmare Before Christmas came out, almost 20 years ago now, it wasn't even released under the Disney name.  They released it through Touchstone.  Disney has since embraced Nightmare fully, merchandised it up and added Jack Skellington to the company of the other Disney classic characters!

This is the ultimate book of the film.  Its a cult classic and this book is the best companion that we've found so far.   This book is an absolute must-own for any fan of the film!

How to Buy: or the Disney Store

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grendel: God & The Devil Graphic Novel Review

Grendel: God & The Devil Graphic Novel Review

About the Book: In the centuries since the mask of Grendel was last seen, humanity's survived a third World War, the fall of Western Civilization, and the rise of an all-powerful church state. But when the depraved Pope Innocent XLII begins construction of a new church tower hiding a powerful and deadly secret, two men will rise against the church's corruption. One is Orion Assante, a man determined to expose the Pope for who he really is. The other is a mysterious figure wearing the all-too-familiar face of Grendel! Grendel: God and the Devil masterfully interweaves sanity with madness, churches with corporations, and good with evil in one of the most stunning and prophetic stories of modern comics. One of Wagner's riskiest and most compelling works, this massive volume will thrill every Grendel fan, and dazzle anyone searching for a great story told in a whole new way.

Our Take: We recently reviewed the Grendel arc that comes after 'God and the Devil', which is Grendel: Devil's Reign.  Now, we're going to go backwards in time and show you how Orion Assante gained his power over the world and how Grendel got the last laugh!  This tale is a decent into madness, deptravity, greed, corruption and heresy.  What more could you want from a comic book? 

'Grendel: God and the Devil' collects the Dark Horse Grendel issues #0-10 of God and the Devil, which were re-colored and re-covered editions of the classic Comico Grendel #22-33.  This story recounts how Pope Innocent XLII moves to take over the world and employ his 'sun gun'.  Meanwhile, the newest Grendel is Eppy Thatcher and he is on a one-man guerilla mission to take down the church.   Eppy is unstable at best and in a constant state of dillusion.  Thankfully, Orion Assante has his head on straight and is investigating the church's activities.  Unfortunately, Orion underestimates Innocent and it ends up costing his twin sisters/lovers their lives.  In the midst of this epic the church will fall and the devil will rise!

This collected edition is presented in a softcover graphic novel format.  The front features the dynamic cover art for Grendel: God and the Devil #10, and the back cover features more of the cover art from the re-print series.   The book retails for around $30.  It does not include any extras or sketch pages, but its a collection of one of the best adult comic book series of all time.  This one is what Grendel is all about.  It, coupled with 'Devil's Reign', is a magnum opus for Wagner that still shines brightly today.

One thing that I have to note...the art of John K. Snyder III really stands out here.  He has always been innovative, but without his unique style this arc wouldn't have been the same.  Its also so enjoyable to see how much he's grown as an artist with the quality of his newer covers that he did for the Dark Horse re-prints of this classic Comico series!

The cool thing about Grendel is that you don't have to start at the beginning.  I myself began with 'War Child' and backtracked.  We cannot recommend this series enough to any adult comic book fan.  I do want to stress that Grendel is NOT a children's comic.  It should be viewed by adults only.  Watch for more Grendel reviews here on the Legion.

How to Buy: or the Dark Horse Comics website

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Book Review

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Book Review

About the Book: Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

Our Take: The author of this book, Seth Grahame-Smith, is the same mind that brought us the hilarious and innovative genre-creator 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'.   That was a fantastic book (you can read our 2009 review of that title HERE), but we were skeptical about whether this new genre of blending history / classic literature with monsters could survive one or two novelty titles.  Upon delving into Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, we quickly arrived at our conclusion....

The real life of Abraham Lincoln was riddled with misery and despair.  He had tribulation after tribulation.  Author Grahame-Smith masterfully works in an almost disturbingly realisitic account of how Vampires were involved in almost every facet of Lincoln's life.   Everything from his mother's death to the Civil War and the collapse of America, those bloodsuckers are everywhere!  This re-telling of history is not only fun, but its engaging.  My only fear is that I'm going to start forgetting that this isn't the way it really happened!  Or isn't it?...hmmm....

Bottom line..this concept isn't just a one-hit wonder.  In fact, we feel that its applications may be endless.  I'm looking for Shakespeare vs. the Space Aliens and Genghis Khan: Wolfman next!  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a great read and definately worth picking up!

How to Buy: or the Hachette Website

Links: Book Trailer and the iTunes App

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vampire Forensics Hardcover Book Review

 Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend Hardcover Book Review

About the Book: Mark Jenkins's engrossing history draws on the latest science, anthropological and archaeological research to explore the origins of vampire stories, providing gripping historic and folkloric context for the concept of immortal beings who defy death by feeding on the lifeblood of others. From the earliest whispers of eternal evil in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, vampire tales flourished through the centuries and around the globe, fueled by superstition, sexual mystery, fear of disease and death, and the nagging anxiety that demons lurk everywhere.

In Vampire Forensics, Mark Jenkins probes vampire legend to tease out the historical truths enshrined in the tales of terror: sherds of Persian pottery depicting blood-sucking demons; the amazing recent discovery by National Geographic archaeologist Matteo Borrini of a 16th-century Venetian grave of a plague victim and suspected vampire; and the Transylvanian castle of "Vlad the Impaler," whose bloodthirsty cruelty remains unsurpassed.

Jenkins navigates centuries of lore and legend, adding new chapters to the chronicle and weaving an irresistibly seductive blend of superstition, psychology, and science sure to engross everyone from Anne Rice's countless readers to serious students of archaeology and mythology.

Our Take: There is a tidal wave of vampire interest right now in pop culture.  Everything from Twilight to True Blood has got everyone from tweens to the middle-aged into the blood-sucking denizens of the night!  It should only follow suit that not only are a pile of movies being produced in this realm, but also a rash of vampire books!   If you've been around the bookstore block, so to speak, you know that just like with film, plenty of poor quality books get published.  How does one decide which vampire books are the best?  Well, you turn to Book Legion, of course!   We only feature books we enjoy, so you don't waste your time.

Vampire Forensics was published by National Geographic.  Right there, you know that you're on the right path.  What I enjoyed about this book is that author Mark Jenkins really took the subject seriously.  This isn't a campy genre book, but rather a scienfitic and historical look back into what makes up the legend of the vampire.  These bloodsuckers are so prevelant in our everyday lives, you would think that they truly did exist!  Jenkins reaches back to ancient accounts of vampirism and the undead, to really paint a picture of how long and from where these accounts have been coming from.  Its a great look at what was reported in different parts of the world, most of which you've never heard of previously.

Honestly, we're tired of vampires.  They're just everywhere right now, but I was so surprised by this title that we just had to feature it.  This one is definately worth checking out.

How to Buy: or the National Geographic Website

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

National Geographic Traveler: Germany Book Review

 National Geographic Traveler: Germany Book Review

About the Book: National Geographic Traveler: Germany, 3rd Edition, presents today's Germany region by region, from Munich's famous beer halls and fairy-tale Bavarian castles to the vibrant hub that is 21st-century Berlin, the Rhine Valley's medieval towns, and picturesque vineyards along the Romantic Road. Exciting experiences include touring underground Berlin, windsurfing off the northern Baltic coast, learning how to brew beer in Bavaria, and exploring a breathtaking corner of the Black Forest.

Our Take:  Its almost that time of year...time for vacation!  You could go to Disney World or Hawaii, but its our contention that you should do as we'd like to...experience the amazing culture and history of Europe!  We're going to examine several travel guides over the next few months.  The first one on our list is the National Geographic Traveler Guide to Germany!

The presentation of the book is about 8" long and 5" wide, with glossy full-color images throughout.  Its a softcover title that has a sturdy and thick cover that will withstand a lot of ware and tear.  This may come in handy if you take the guide with you on the trip, as we would highly recommend that you do.

This book not only provides you with some maps and things to do, but it gives you detailed explanations about the historical and cultural significance of the sights.  There is everything from what the customs are (things like tipping in restaurants) to emergency numbers and how to utilize the public transportation services.  I cannot imagine traveling to another country without a comprehensive guide like this one.   Its National Geographic, so you know that its a high-quality publication.   We highly recommend this to anyone planning to travel to Germany, or just wishing to learn more about the culture and region.

How to Buy: The National Geographic Store

Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies: Compendium Monstrum Book Review

Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies: Compendium Monstrum Book Review

About the Book: The situation is grave. Vampires are vamping. Werewolves are shape shifting. And zombies are lurching into the garden. Is this modern-day ferment of paranormal activity, ah, normal? Learn all about it in this nifty new pocket guide to man's best fiends: VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, ZOMBIES: Compendium Monstrum.
Collected from the papers of 19th-century monstrologists Herr Doktor Max Sturm and Baron Ludwig Von Drang, this intriguing book includes:
* ''Notes and sketches,'' arranged with some updating

* Transylvania travel section

* ''Tracking the Beasties'' visual aid

* ''For Further Investigation'' resource list

* Index

* ''Sightings Record Pages,'' in which readers can record their own encounters, location, moon phase, weapons, etc.

* Red ribbon marker

* Foil-enhanced covers

* Gothic/Victorian-style endpapers
Fascinating facts revealed in the book include documented ''sparkling vampires'' in 19th-century folklore (page 26), why wolfsbane is sometimes known as ''Dumbledore s Delight'' (page 92), and much more.
Illustrated by Bruce Waldman, cartography by David Lindroth, additional historical images throughout.
Four sections:

* Vampires: There Will Be Blood

* A Vampire Hunter's Guide to Transylvania: The Land Beyond the Forest

* Werewolves: What Big Teeth You Have!

* Zombies: They. Are. Coming.
Four fold-out maps (and additional in-text maps):

* Vampires Around the World

* Transylvania

* Were-creatures of the World

* Zombies Around the World

Handsome, pocket-sized volume is perfect for gift-giving! 4-1/2 inches x 5-3/4 inches.

Our Take: There are a lot of recent book releases that take a humorous angle with horror.  You have the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies series and the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Not to mention all types of 'How to Survive a Zombie Attack' type of books.  This one may be one of the cheekiest and the most entertaining.  Vampires have overtaken Hollywood right now.  They are the hot monster, to be sure.  Everything from Twilight to True Blood is captivating audiences.  They even just released a new Wolfman adaptation.  In accordance with that, the Compendium Monstrum is here!

What is the Compendium Monstrum?  Its a great pocket-sized book (see dimensions above) that has a 'little black book' appearance.  It serves as a reference or field guide to monsters.  It gives everything from history to pratical advice for dealing with monsters to maps of their known whereabouts.  Its like a supernatural travel guide.   The inside appearance of the book gives it the aged look of a vintage book with more credibility.  This just adds to the fun-factor.  

This is basically your little black book guide to the world of the super-weird and supernatural!  Its a fun item to have lying around to fip through.  It'd fit in your purse or your pocket.  Definately the sort of thing you'd give as a gift to someone.  What, you want to give someone a dictionary or encyclopedia?  Yeah, but do they have a "Vamprie Hunter's Guide to Translyvania"?  I think not!  Instructions on what do and not to do if you meet a  Vampire face to face?   The Compendium does!   Go buy it, you know you want to.

How to Buy: The Peter Pauper Website

Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult's Guide to Dealing With Bipolar Disorder Book Review

Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult's Guide to Dealing With Bipolar Disorder Book Review

About the Book: When you travel to a new city, it helps to have a map close at hand. On the first day of school, you need to have your schedule of classes. And if you've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or suspect you may have it, then it's even more important to have a guidebook within reach.

Facing Bipolar will help you navigate the world of medications, therapists, and the up-and-down mood cycles common to the disorder. It clearly explains what bipolar disorder is and provides sound guidance for developing the necessary coping skills to manage its impact on your life.

Our Take: Bipolar is such a scary diagnosis. That is especially so if you are a young adult trying to find your way in this big, scary world.  This book targets that exact group of people.....the youth.  It starts out with definitions of depression, hypo-mania and full fledged mania.  The book also has a checklist and some criteria to see if you meet the clincal definition of being bipolar. Not only that, but they give you short stories from young adults that are in those states of mind.  After that the book goes into how to properly find a doctor or therapist, psychotherapy, medications, all the usual stuff you would expect in a book about an illness.  The book is very helpful to the newly diagnosed or someone who suspects they might be bipolar.

'Facing Bipolar' goes above and beyond in the way that it has loads of information, for that matter I would say the core of the book, on how to accept your diagnosis and build a semi-normal life inspite of it.  Alot of books give you the clinical information, but don't tell you how to accept it and how to live.  You are given this diagnosis and sent on your merry way. The young adult needs nothing more desperately than direction in a time like that, especially a young adult with bipolar disorder.   For that matter, I would say they need even more reassurance and assistance in this realm.  It would be wonderful to see more of a variety of books geared towards young people dealing with serious illnesses.

Now, I should notate that this book is really only for the young adult, say 18 or younger.  Anyone older than that won't be able to relate to it much.  All of the stories are geared towards high school students or young college students.  A mother, father or professional won't be able to relate much.  Naturally, all the clincal information is great and accurate, but if you got a diagnosis in your 20s or 30s, you may wish to search for another title.

-Review by Holly

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bodycount Graphic Novel Review

 Bodycount Graphic Novel Review

About the Comic: In Kevin Eastman's last major work on the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" he teamed up with Simon Bisley to spin a "John Woo" inspired story featuring Raphael and Casey Jones. In this one hundred page action packed adventure, often called the longest running gunfight in comics, Casey and Raphael find them selves caught-up in the middle of an international family murder revenge assassination plot, complete with gansters, thugs, secret agents, double agents, armies of Kevlar covered swat teams, resistance warriors, and more spent shell casings that the D-Day invasion.

Our Take: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles over 25 years ago now.  They had no idea it'd spawn the empire that it did.  In that time, we have seen Eastman go off in a darker direction that really contrasts the current image of the TMNT.   His work on Heavy Metal magazine and in the darker fantasy realms has made him a rather interesting character.  In Eastman's last major foray into the TMNT, he incorporated his modern sensibilities, along with amazing artist Simon Bisley (cover artist on Grendel: War Child), to create a dark and violent take on Ninja Turtle Raphael.

I went into this book expecting something...well...worthy of Heavy Metal's reputation.  Thats just what I got!  Eastman masterfully provides us with a whitty tale of Raph and Casey Jones, riddled with curse words and extreme violence.  If you're looking to illustrate violence and grit, Simon Bisley is your man.  I'm a long-time Bisley fan and his work in this book is top notch.  Anything from bloody eye sockets, with eyeballs hanging out to busty, scantily-clad warrior women..Bodycount has it all.

This book is definately not for the younger TMNT fan.  If you've been into the Turtles since the 1980s or even 1990s, then this is for you.  I would recommend this one for 13 or older by my own standards...probably 16 or older by most other peoples, lol.  Its a fantastic read and a great graphic novel. 
How to Buy: the Heavy Metal Magazine Store

Tweet Nothings: The Lighter Side of Twitter Review

Tweet Nothings: The Lighter Side of Twitter Review

About the Book: ''What are you doing?'' These days, you're likely to be on Twitter, the online social networking phenomenon that keeps family, friends, and followers connected through those 140-character, er, Tweets. And frequented as it is by fun and funny people, Twitter can be hilarious. Here's your chance to laugh along with some of the most follow-worthy Twitterati around. Tweet Nothings, packed with sweet Tweets, is sure to delight you and your favorite Tweeple! ''My exes play hard to get rid of.'' ''My morning just fell on the floor butter side down.' ''I can't believe it's almost time to ignore the lawn again.'' ''Dr. Seuss should have written a book called 'Oh the Places You'll Settle For.''' Packed with hilarious Tweets by celebs, fake celebs, comics, writers, and everyday folk, this little book is a fun-filled celebration of social media sensation Twitter. Whimsical illustrations of birds (and one narwhal) throughout. Attached to this mini gift book is a 24K gold-plated charm, which may be kept on the ribbon bookmark or worn on a bracelet or necklace.

Our Take: You've seen those little books at the bookstore, haven't you?  The tiny pocket-sized 4"x3" books that have cutesy themes and fun quotes in them?  Well, this book, Tweet Nothings, is one of those.   Its a tiny $6 novelty book that basically features some really funny Twitter status quotes.  For example, one page says "What up WebMD?  Whaddya mean 'No Results Found' for Stigmata?.  Told you....funny.

What is this book good for?  No, its not a long its not a deep book, but its funny.  This one makes a great gift for anyone with a sense of humor.  Its also great for keeping in your purse or at your desk at work for a good laugh and to pass them time.  

How to Buy: the Peter Pauper website

Free E-Chapters of Dawn of the Dreadfuls!

Quirk Books is embarking on a first-of-its-kind serialization program with Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble eReader, and Sony Reader by offering free e-chapters of their soon-to-be-released Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (March 23, 2010).

On March 12, readers will be able to download the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls free of charge to their Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, or other mobile reading device via, Barnes& and . The second chapter will be available free of charge the next week, on March 19.

Free eChapters

You can read our review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls HERE

Grendel: Devil's Reign Softcover Graphic Novel

Grendel: Devil's Reign Softcover Graphic Novel

About the Book: The year is 2530, and the corrupt Church, Vatican Ouest, has fallen, spreading upheaval across North America, along with an infestation of vampires. In this new world, Ex-COP leader Pellon Cross is still at large, devil-possessed Eppy Thatcher is missing, and Orion Assante is on an ambitious quest to restore order to the continent and gain legitimate power. But will Orion attain his goals before threats from overseas change the rules in this game for power?

* Grendel: Devil's Reign is a groundbreaking synthesis of politics, war, religion, and the devil created by two of the top talents in comics!

* Artist Tim Sale's work can be seen in the NBC hit show Heroes!

* Brand new painted cover by Grendel creator Matt Wagner!

Tim Sale's first major series in comics, collected for the very first time!

Our Take: Here at Book Legion we love comic books.  We love everything from Batman to the Goon.  One of the top series in my book is Grendel.  Dollar for dollar, I don't ever feel that a Grendel book is a waste of money.  I've been following Matt Wagner's masterpiece since back in 1992.  I've read everything that has been published to date and I certainly have my favorites.  I've even had some of my letters published in the back of a few issues.

Grendel began as a simple comic book character in the early 1980s.  Wagner had no idea at that time that one wise-assed assasin would eventually become a worldwide epidemic that would span thousands of years.   Grendel is often referred to as 'the Devil'.  Grendel is the spirit of aggression.  It flows through different hosts throughout the ages, causing mischief and destruction.  It is important to note that the Devil in this instance is not in reference to the Devil of Christianity.

One of the stand-out story arcs in the Grendel saga is the tale of Orion Assante.  That tale is best told through the neo-political epic 'Devil's Reign'.  Who is Orion Assante?  In the scope of the Grendel universe, he is everything.  Orion will later be known as the Grendel Khan.  The savior of all mankind.  He begins his illustrious career by taking down the church, headed by the evil Pope Innocent XLII (who is secretly a vampire, and shows up later in Grendel lore), back in the 'God and the Devil' arc.  This subsequent tale shows Orion's rise to power.  The story format is very unique, in that much of it is done in news broadcasts and other person to person discussions.  Never before have I read such a dialogue-driven comic book.  Your average book takes me 5-10 minutes to read.  One of the Devil's Reign issues could take 30 minutes, easily.

This venture represents Tim Sale's very first foray into major comic book artistry.  He did a bang-up job, too.  Sale has gone on to pen some very famous comics, like Batman: The Long Halloween.   This new trade paperback collects this story arc for the first time.  It was re-released as the Devil's Reign mini-series by Dark Horse years ago, with updated colors and new covers by Sale.  The collected graphic novel features brand-new cover art by Sale, as well.  The re-print covers are showcased inside to divide each chapter of the tale.

The cool thing about Grendel is that you don't have to start at the beginning.  I myself began with 'War Child' and backtracked.  We cannot recommend this series enough to any adult comic book fan.  I do want to stress that Grendel is NOT a children's comic.  It should be viewed by adults only.  Watch for more Grendel reviews here on the Legion.

How to Buy: or

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