Friday, April 30, 2010

Diary of A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Five - Do It Yourself Book Review

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Diary of  A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Five - Do It Yourself Book Review

About the Book: Now every kid can write like a Wimpy Kid!
An exciting companion to the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
“First of all, let me get something straight: This is a journal, not a diary.”
This innovative interactive journal based on Greg Heffley’s own “diary” lets kids express themselves in an exciting new way. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book, kids will be asked: What was the best dream you ever had? The worst thing you ever ate? The best secret you ever heard? The most trouble you ever got in for something that wasn’t even your fault to begin with? This Do-It-Yourself Book features art throughout, along with ruled and blank pages for readers to create their own stories, keep their own diaries, and record their favorites and least faves. Includes a bonus full-color comics section featuring the collected cartoons of Greg Heffley and his best friend, Rowley.
16 pages of full-color comics!

Our Take: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series only features four actual books, and then we have two complimentary titles that are a ton of fun.  We're going to examine the first of these right now....the Do It Yourself Guide.

My son is 7 years old and when he started to come home raving about the Wimpy Kid series the recurring theme that I kept hearing was the 'Do it Yourself' book.  I had no idea what this was, but it turns out that its this interactive template to help your child write their own 'Wimpy Kid' style story.  This is one of the most novel and fun ideas that I've seen in a long while.  Home run!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Diary of A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Four - Dog Days

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 Diary of A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Four - Dog Days

About the Book: It’s summer vacation, the weather’s great, and all the kids are having fun outside. So where’s Greg Heffley? Inside his house, playing video games with the shades drawn.

Greg, a self-confessed “indoor person,” is living out his ultimate summer fantasy: no responsibilities and no rules. But Greg’s mom has a different vision for an ideal summer . . . one packed with outdoor activities and “family togetherness.”

Whose vision will win out? Or will a new addition to the Heffley family change everything?

Our Take: Summer vacation is the most magical time in a young child's life.  Its inevtiable that the Wimpy Kid series would want to exploit this time for our enjoyment!  Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid books continue with 'Dog Days', referring of course to the phrase 'the Dog Days of Summer'.  

We get to see Greg experience his fantasy of a restful and lazy summer and then get slammed with the dark reality that everything he hopes for will go down in flames as his mother has different plans for him.  This fourth book is in the same format as the previous three and its wildly entertaining.   This one was a great read, because it removes Greg from school and sets him in a great variety of other situations.

This is the final actual installment in the Wimpy Kid series to date.  There is a fifth book coming out in November of 2010, which we will review for you at that time, so check back.  We're going to take a look at the 'Do it Yourself' book and the Movie Diary tomorrow, so tune in for that Wimpy fans.  Until then...

How to Buy: or Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Three - The Last Straw Book Review

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 Diary Of  A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Three - The Last Straw Book Review

About the Book: The highly anticipated third book in the critically acclaimed and bestselling series takes the art of being wimpy to a whole new level.
Let’s face it: Greg Heffley will never change his wimpy ways. Somebody just needs to explain that to Greg’s father. You see, Frank Heffley actually thinks he can get his son to toughen up, and he enlists Greg in organized sports and other “manly” endeavors. Of course, Greg is able to easily sidestep his father’s efforts to change him. But when Greg’s dad threatens to send him to military academy, Greg realizes he has to shape up . . . or get shipped out.
Greg and his family and friends, who make the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books a must-read for middle school readers, are back and at their best in this hilarious new installment of the series, which is sure to please current fans while attracting new ones.

Our Take: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are a phenomenon.  Author Jeff Kinney has really hit a cord with the youth in his snarky and cheeky book series.  This is the third book in the series and 'The Last Straw' is right on-par with the previous two installments.  The books are laid out like a crudely illustrated diary or journal as wimpy kid Greg insists.

This time we begin with New Year's Day and end with summer vacation.  The trials of getting along with his brother and potential romances take the front burner in the Last Straw.  Kinney has really hit a great stride with these books, that seemingly spring from his subconscious with ease.  This book is every bit as entertaining and fun as the previous two.

This third installment of the Wimpy Kid series is a great addition and we certainly recommend it for any kids ages 7-12.  Watch tomorrow for our look at the 4th book in the series...


Kevin Eastman's RoninBebop Graphic Novel Review (Adults Only)

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 Kevin Eastman's RoninBebop Graphic Novel Review

About the Book: Roninbebop is 224 pages of madness, with six different tales of insanity brought to you from the twisted minds of Kevin Eastman, Simon Bisley, Eric Talbot, and Tom Skulan! It's got it all - nasty flesh eating aliens and monsters in "Zombie War," body swapping serial killers in the lust drenched "Infectious," over-the-top superheroes fight the evil Mental Head for the sake of planet Earth in "Thump's Guts," convicted murders are transported into the middle of an off world war as their penance in No Guts No Glory," tiny mutant animals fight for their life and turf in "The Very Angry Seven," and Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley's comic character alter egos raise some hell in the mad cap adventures of "Biz and Buzz!"

Our Take: We're big fans of Heavy Metal here at the Legion.  Also of Eastman and the Biz (Simon Bisley).   If I see a graphic novel with Biz artwork on the cover, that tells me that there is a certain level of quality there and I instantly pick it up.  This has been the case since the Grendel and Lobo days.  I have yet to be let down.  

Roninbebop is basically a compilation of older and rather obscure works by Eastman and some of his pals, like Eric Talbot and the Biz.   I wasn't sure how this would end up, as its really kind of an indulget 'for the hardcore fans' type of release, but I was really pleased with the content.  The cover is hilarious and the reads are fun.   Plenty of violence, murder and sexuality.  The trifecta of adult graphic novels.

I have to recommend this one to comics fans everywhere.  This is a nice collection of rare stories by some very prolific names.  Heavy Metal doesn't release anything but high quality product, so I always shop there with confidence.

How to Buy: the Heavy Metal website

The Writer's Mentor: A Guide to Putting Passion on Paper Book Review

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 The Writer's Mentor: A Guide to Putting Passion on Paper Book Review

About the Book: In The Writers Mentor, bestselling author, teacher, and writing coach Cathleen Rountree addresses the most common dilemmas of both aspiring and professional writers. Written in a question-and-answer format, this book stands apart from other books on writing by its linking of practical information on effective writing strategies with inspirational stories from the lives of famous writers. 

Cathleen Rountree responds to such questions as: How do I get ideas for writing? What should I do when I am stuck and just staring at a blank page? What is the best time of day to write? How do I set a writing schedule? What can I do to achieve a state of "flow"� when writing? 

In anwering these questions, she shares not only what she has learned from her own experiences in writing and publishing eight books, but also many of the writing secrets of famous literary figures--from fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Included are tips from Anne Tyler, Mark Twain, Arthur Miller, Margaret Atwood, Tennessee Williams, Maya Angelou, Ernest Hemingway, Diane Ackerman, Virginia Woolf, Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda, Doris Lessing, and more. Included in each chapter is a feature called "The Writer's Mentor Suggests," which gives readers a list of concrete suggestions and tips around the writing topic. A wonderful feature in every chapter is a look at the writing life through films such as The Shining, Bridget Jones' Diary, and Shakespeare in Love.

Our Take: I'm an aspiring writer myself, so I've delved into quite a few books on the subject of writing.  What makes the Writer's Mentor stand apart is the format.  Its basically like a large FAQ with a question - answer format.  After reading so many overly wordy books, this one is a breath of fresh air.

The book delves into questions from "What is the best time of day to write?" to "How do I overcome discouragement?".    Author Cathleen Roundtree does a fantastic and practical job of addressing so many issues and really helps to give a feeling of confidence and preparation when I went to write afterwards.  I've since referred to the book many a time for assurance.  Its a fantastic book and is ideal for anyone interested in writing at any level.

Parenting a Bipolar Child Book Review

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 Parenting a Bipolar Child Book Review

About the Book: When a child or adolescent is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it’s hard for his or her parents to know exactly what to do. What constitutes an effective therapeutic approach to help their bipolar child navigate childhood and adolescence? In this book, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, both specializing in mood disorders, offer a comprehensive overview of the available treatment options and most effective parenting strategies for dealing with this serious condition. 

In addition to a thorough explanation of the often necessary medical treatments for bipolar disorder, the book also details the importance of emotional regulation in bipolar children. Techniques for dealing with displays of rage, anger, and irritability in children are covered. The book also addresses sleep deprivation, one of the most common symptoms of childhood bipolar disorder, and the issues young people with bipolar disorder face in school. Subjects of particular interest to parents of older children and adolescents are covered, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, violence, and suicide. All of this information is complemented by advice on parental self-care and integrating the care of the bipolar child with the needs of the rest of the family.

Our Take: One of the most misunderstood mental illnesses in this country is bipolar disorder, also previously know as manic depression.  Bipolar has become a slang term and with that a negative one.  Often when someone is nasty, unpredictable or rude they are referred to as 'bipolar'.  This couldn't be further from the core of what the illness entails.  To be bipolar simply indicates the common crossover between mania and depression...the extremes of the two poles.  To be a child that is diagnosed bipolar has to be difficult in this day and age with all the stigma around it.   It has to be equally as difficult to deal with a bipolar child as a parent.

This book, Parenting a Bipolar Child, gives us a great insight into the challenges that are faced by trying to properly raise someone with bipolar disorder.  This book stays away from the intense clinical approach and goes into easy reading that focuses on the practical by giving parents various ideas and tools to help address the various situations that may arise.  The book provides a few stories for example, but mostly is explanations of the various aspects of bipolar disorder and how it can affect children, for example their sleep patterns. 

This book is reassuring and fantastic.  Its full of logical and compassionate knowlege that is sure to help any parent facing this illness with their child.

How to Buy: or the New Harbinger Website

Stop Walking on Egg Shells Book Review

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 Stop Walking on Egg Shells Book Review

About the Book: Do you feel manipulated, controlled, or lied to? Are you the focus of intense, violent, and irrational rages? Do you feel you are 'walking on eggshells' to avoid the next confrontation? 

If the answer is 'yes,' someone you care about may have borderline personality disorder (BPD). Stop Walking on Eggshells has already helped nearly half a million people with friends and family members suffering from BPD understand this destructive disorder, set boundaries, and help their loved ones stop relying on dangerous BPD behaviors. This fully revised edition has been updated with the very latest BPD research and includes coping and communication skills you can use to stabilize your relationship with the BPD sufferer in your life. 
    This compassionate guide will enable you to: 
  • Make sense out of the chaos
  • Stand up for yourself and assert your needs
  • Defuse arguments and conflicts
  • Protect yourself and others from violent behavior

Our Take:  Our society doesn't have a good outlook on mental illness and personality disorders.  Psychiatry in general gets a lot of heat from those that don't understand or believe in it.  The plain and simple fact is that not everyone is wired the same and that can be hard for some people to understand, but that doesn't make it any less real. 

Borderline Personality Disorder was finally defined in 1980 as a personality disorder, but wasn't officially recognized until 1994.  Since that time many professionals have come on board with this clearly real issue, but many still have not.  Therapy is the best route for someone with BPD, but even that is hit and miss.  The best thing to do is to turn to reading and understanding of the disorder.

This book, Stop Walking on Egg Shells, is a best selling opus about how to manage your life when someone that you love and care about has Borderline Personality Disorder.   What is best about this book is how theraputic it can be.  In a situation like this the loved one of someone with BPD can often feel victimized, but to read about these common situations may provide some level of comfort, to know that its not you, but rather the BPD that is the issue.  The book is well layed-out and well written, so that it doesn't get too thick.  It provides some great advice and coping mechanisms on how to set boundries with your loved one. 

If you know someone with Borderline Personality Disorder take is seriously.  Its not something that will just go away or that you can medicate into submission.   Books like this one are invaluable.  We highly recommend it.

How to Buy: or the New Harbinger Site

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Two - Rodrick Rules Book Review

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 Diary Of  A Wimpy Kid Week: Day Two - Rodrick Rules Book Review

About the Book: The highly anticipated sequel to the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling book!
Secrets have a way of getting out, especially when a diary is involved.

Whatever you do, don’t ask Greg Heffley how he spent his summer vacation, because he definitely doesn’t want to talk about it. 

As Greg enters the new school year, he’s eager to put the past three months behind him . . . and one event in particular. 

Unfortunately for Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, knows all about the incident Greg wants to keep under wraps. But secrets have a way of getting out . . . especially when a diary is involved. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules chronicles Greg’s attempts to navigate the hazards of middle school, impress the girls, steer clear of the school talent show, and most important, keep his secret safe.

Our Take: The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book was a phenomenon.  The series continues with this book that follows a summer vacation with an embaressing secret.  More than anything our character Greg doesn't want anyone to find out, but unfortunately for him he has an older brother.  This book centers around Rodrick, Greg's older brother, and what a pain he can be.  The book does a great job of creating that 'big brother' archetype that will ring true for so many readers.

These 'Wimpy Kid' books are littered with stick-figure style drawings that really add to the light-hearted nature of the books and provide readers with great visuals to keep them entertained and engaged.

The target audience here is 8-12 years of age, but even I found a lot of the books to be fun as an adult.  I think we all remember how Greg feels at times, our childhoods kinda stick with us.  Kinney really hits gold with this second book in the series, where he could've disappointed.  We definately recommend.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the third book in the series....The Last Straw!

What Does the Moon Smell Like?: 151 Astounding Science Quizzes Book Review

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 What Does the Moon Smell Like?: 151 Astounding Science Quizzes Book Review

About the Book: What Does The Moon Smell Like? is an all ages quiz book that feeds your brain tasty, bite-sized tidbits of cool science trivia. It tickles your brain while giving it a workout, so your brain won’t even know that it’s been to the gym!

From the surprising science behind everyday life, to the mysteries on the frontiers of scientific discovery, What Does The Moon Smell Like? explores anything and everything in a user-friendly quiz format. Fun, fascinating, and little-known facts leap off every page – bound to make you, not just brainier, but a big hit around the water cooler too.

Topics include the earth, the moon, and stars, the universe, space travel, amazing cars, toys, sports, food and drink, icky things, pets and other animals, nature, the environment, technology, geniuses, science fables, foibles, and myths, inventions, discoveries, the brain, the body, and mind, laughter, success, attraction. . . and chocolate.

What Does The Moon Smell Like? gives you a context for the fascinating facts you’re absorbing. Both the lead-ups to the questions, and the answers, are spiced with even more amazing, and fun-filled, facts. In as little as 5 minutes a day, you can boost your brainpower with more than a dozen facts that will either make you smile, or think, or both.

Have you ever wondered, “What Does The Moon Smell Like?” If you haven’t yet, now you will, and if you have, now you’ll know.

Our Take: We're big trivia buffs at the Legion.  We like to go to bars and restaurants where they have trivia on the tv and play for hours.   We've had a hard time locating good, really nerdy trivia books to play with at home or wherever we may be.  Now, thanks to 'What Does the Moon Smell Like?', we've found our trivia bible!

One of the best things about 'What Does the Moon Smell Like?' is how deceptively simple it seems.   It has a paragraph of info on each page with a multiple choice question.  The information contained within this book is not only obscure at times, but absolutely fascinating.  I feel like I've really learned something by going through this title, which I can't often say.

This book is perfect for teachers, parties or just trivia buffs.  I know I just sit and read it in my spare time.  I highly recommend it!

How to Buy: and the ECW Press Site

Wonder Woman: Amazon, Hero, Icon Book Review

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Wonder Woman: Amazon, Hero, Icon Book Review

About the Book: Wonder Woman is a comprehensive look at the first and most important female super hero of DC Comics, from the Golden Age to the present day. Wonder Woman is the most popular female super hero of all time and a cultural icon. During her existence, she has served in the army, renounced her powers at the height of the feminist movement, and helped launch Gloria Steinem’s Ms. magazine. She has been—and continues to be—a trailblazing role model to girls and women and an integral part of the cultural zeitgeist. Loosely chronological, Wonder Woman explores idiosyncratic creator William Moulton Marston’s interest in ideas of a "new woman" for the twentieth century; costume and character story changes over the decades; the influence on all other female comic book characters since her inception; and how Wonder Woman is still powerful and relevant in today’s comic book renaissance. The book contains more than 250 Wonder Woman illustrations, including covers, interior comic art, and sketch treatments, beginning with her inception in the early 1940s to present-day treatments of the character. Celebrated artists include Alex Ross, Jim Lee, George Perez, and Brian Bolland, to name only a few. The book will also feature rare covers and pin-up posters created for past special-edition comic books. Wonder Woman is certain to appeal to fanboys and fangirls, collectors, and newcomers to the comic book genre alike.

Our Take: Robert Greenberger is famous in comic book circles for his great writing.  These days he produces some great books, like the recent Batman Encyclopedia.  This time he's tackling another famous DC Comics character....Wonder Woman. 

This hardcover book features a dust jacket with the nowadays obligatory Alex Ross artwork, which is fantastic as always.   The book is packed with full-color images from the past 70 years of Wonder Woman's history, including full comic book pages.  The book is definately more centric on images rather than information.   There is only so much information to go around about Wonder Woman, her character hasn't varied that much over the decades.   We get a great look at how she has changed since the 1940s, a number of sketches for comics and merchandise and some great comic book covers.   

Overall, the book is attractive and dynamic.  Its a great addition to any comic book fan's book collection and has some great information and history on this iconic amazonian character.   We definately recommend this title for anyone that is an existing fan or interested in Wonder Woman.

How to Buy: or the Universe website

Gig Posters: Rock Show Art of the 20th Century Book Review

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Gig Posters: Rock Show Art of the 20th Century Book Review

About the Book: Since 2001, has been the Internet's first and best resource for rock-show poster art; their massive online database showcases more than 90,000 posters from 7,000 different designers, including all of today's top poster studios. Gig Posters Volume I highlights the 700+ best examples in their collection, including 101 perforated and ready-to-hang posters for bands such as Radiohead, Wilco, the Decemberists, the Shins, Arcade Fire, Sleater-Kinney, and more. Among the many designers contributing to this collection are Rob Jones (of White Stripes fame), The Decoder Ring (house artists for Modest Mouse), Patent Pending, Tara McPherson, and more. Packaged in an oversized 11-by-14-inch paperback, Gig Posters Volume I is a spectacular compilation of rock show art (and one hell of a cheap way to decorate a dorm room or apartment).

Our Take: The first thing that you notice about this oversized softcover book is the dynamic artwork and color.  Its rife with the fantastic images that you see on rock posters!   The book is printed on a high-quality cardstock-style paper. 

The bands featured in this book are primarily more obscure ones, such as the Melvins, the Frames and Minus the Bear.  No Rolling Stones or Nine Inch Nails here.  At first I was a little bummed about that fact, but then I considered that its so common to find imagery from these larger iconic bands, and often the beauty of the posters from the smaller gigs that you see at local bars and clubs are so valuable.  Its nice to see so many of them archived not only in the book, but the website that the book is based on

The book is listed as volume 1, so hopefully we'll get more editions in the near future!  This book is great for any music fan.  It includes perforated pages, so that you can tear out 101 posters to hang on your own walls!  A fantastic value and a great conversation piece.

How to Buy: or the Quirk Books Site

Time: The Illustrated History of the World's Most Influential Magazine Book Review

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Time: The Illustrated History of the World's Most Influential Magazine Book Review

About the Book: The history of Time—from its inception to its iconic status today—recounted by its world-famous editors, art directors, and stellar cast of contributors.

Time is a fascinating look at the history of the world's most influential newsweekly. The complete compendium is illustrated with hundreds of covers and archival photographs, featuring the work of the twentieth century's most respected journalists, editors, and photographers—from Eddie Adams, Neil Leifer, Dirck Halstead, and David Hume Kennerly, to David Burnett, Gregory Heisler, Matt Mahurin, James Nachtwey, and Diana Walker, who together won more major photo awards for Time than all other publications combined. This volume explores Time's documentation of seminal moments in history, including the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and September 11th. It investigates the reasons behind Time's "Man of the Year," transitions in design, the creation of the symbolic red frame, the important designers and illustrators, the covering of both hot and soft news, as well as the magazine's changeover to the 21st century and the creation of Time's international editions.

Our Take: Time magazine is one of the most influential publications of all-time.   Time is itself a cultural icon.  It not only mirrored the greatest events of our world, but also influenced them.

This new hardcover book showcases many of the covers of Time magazine and delves into a number of their important and landmark stories over the years.  Its called an illustrated history, and it does include a lot of graphic imagery, but this is far from a coffee table book, this title includes mountains of text.  Its a real book through and through, with a ton of information and back story.

The book covers everything from World War II to President Obama.  Its an amazing book and a must-have for everyone!  We highly, highly recommend it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Diary of A Wimpy Kid Week: Book One

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About the Book: Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they?

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary. 

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.

Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that.” Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things. 

Since its launch in May 2004 on, the Web version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been viewed by 20 million unique online readers. This year, it is averaging 70,000 readers a day.

Our Take: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are such a phenomenon that we had to take a look at them here at the Legion.  My son was coming home on an almost daily basis telling me about the series.  He was borrowing them at school from friends and reading their copies.  I decided we'd run a feature all week-long on Book Legion to spotlight all of the current titles.

We are introduced to the writer of the diary (err..I mean journal!) wimpy kid Greg Heffley. Greg takes us through the dramas of school and the morons that surround him.  We get a snarky and insightful view into the mind of a young boy.  This book was originally written and shared online and grew to now being a major book release and a new movie (in theaters now!).

Author Jeff Kinney has an amazing voice in this character and he really impressed me with how entertaining and accessible the writing is for not only kids, but their parents as well.  This series starts strong in this debut book.  I'm looking forward to showcasing the rest of the series.

How to Buy:

The Art of Simon Bisley Redux Book Review

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 The Art of Simon Bisley Redux Book Review

About the Book: Back by popular demand and expanded!!

Forty more pages than the previous edition. The book is now a gorgeous over sized softcover edition.

"This is art to drool over. Art to keep forever. Savour it on bleak, sunless days and watch the colour explode. Admire it in mid-summer, and send a chill shiver through the rest of the year"

From the forward by Alan Grant

Our Take: Simon Bisley is one of my favorite artists, hands down.  Thats not just in the fantasy/comic book realm, but he's one of my favorites period.  His artwork is dark, gritty and sensual.  He really manages to manipulate not only lights and darks, but color and texture to create such dynamic characters that his work is instantly recognizable.

This collection of the Biz's artwork gives us some great full-color paintings, along with sequential comic art and even rarely seen pencil sketches!    The work here covers everything from the infamous Bodycount graphic novel through video game concepts and his work on secular comics like Judge Dredd and Lobo.  Its full of imagery and a little bit of fun fact.

I don't mean to drool over this title like a fanboy, but lets face it....I am.   You've gotta own the Biz, otherwise you're art collection is just lacking!  I recommend this book to anyone that is interested in fantasy or comic book art! 

How to Buy: or the Heavy Metal Website

The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children's Books Review

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The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children's Books Review

About the Book: The latest in our best selling Encyclopedia of Art series now focuses on a popular topic for both writers and illustrators: how to make, craft, and sell children’s books. This practical book is a step-by-step guide to becoming a successful graphic storyteller, showing how to create exciting plots and engaging characters that will delight young readers.

Topics feature a wide range of genres, from fantasy and fairy tales to action-packed adventure, and offers guidance on how to tailor work to suit different age groups. The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books also features a special section on the commercial realities of the children’s publishing industry, with tips on presenting and promoting work, and includes a gallery of inspirational examples from renowned children’s writers and illustrators.

Our Take: There are so many books out there for aspiring authors of all genres and children's books are no exception.  You may have a good idea for a children's book, or perhaps just a passion for storytelling, and you need some direction.  The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children's Books is most definately the way to go.

The book features extremely helpful tips and sections on everything from character development to avoiding cliche and color theory and it's use in storytelling.  Each section is divided up nicely with a ton of illustrations to keep the reading light and easy to follow.   Don't let the simple appearnce fool you, though.  Much like a children's book, it is full of content.

This book is invaluable to anyone interested in writing books for children.  Its a great place to get started and a wonderful reference to have laying around.  We definately recommend it.

How to Buy: or the Running Press website

Speed Bump: Cartoons for Idea People Book Review

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Speed Bump: Cartoons for Idea People Book Review

About the Book: Relationships, health, work, and kids as well as philosophy and aliens are explored in this collection of thoughtful, hilarious panels from the widely syndicated Speed Bump cartoon. Oddball segues, drink recipes, caption contests, and prose pieces by the cartoonist furnish additional jokes and a wider perspective on the development of the comic strip. Aficionados and new fans of the cartoonist and his strip will find a thorough and amusing look at this popular cartoon.

Our Take: I really enjoy reading the one-panel off-the-wall comics in the paper each week, I always have. Strips like the Far Side and Non Sequitur have always been staples in our collected strip books.  I hadn't heard of Speed Bump (because apparently I live under a rock), so I wanted to check it out.  I wasn't too sure if it'd strike a cord with me, that is until I opened it up.  Right away I was pulled in by the humor.

Speed Bump is syndicated nationwide in over 250 newspapers!   It becomes clear very quickly why that is.  These clever cartoons are not only enjoyable, but they're refreshing and.  This would be a great book to bring to work or have lying around the house for when you need a quick laugh.  I definately recommend.
How to Buy: or the ECW Press Site

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jewelry & Beading Designs For Dummies Book Review

Jewelry & Beading Designs For Dummies

About the Book: Your visual guide to building up your beading techniques and creating stunning jewelry!

Do you love jewelry and beading? Are you looking for some clever, creative projects to make chic jewelry and accessories? This easy-to-follow guide is packed with step-by-step instructions and inspiring color photos to get you stringing, knotting, and looping in no time. From earrings and necklaces to pins, purses, charms, and more, you'll discover new techniques for making just the right pieces to suit you — or to give as fantastic, fashionable gifts!

  • The basics of jewelry making and beading — assemble your gear, work with pliers, and brush up on stringing, bead weaving, and wire wrapping . Start with simple projects — use elastic cord, ribbon, leather, a wire jig, and more to make bracelets, bookmarks, pendants, and napkin rings
  • Incorporate multiple techniques and materials — take your skills to the next level with unconventional designs
  • Complete more advanced projects — craft custom jewelry components, learn advanced bead weaving, and make jewelry with polymer clay
  • Create unique, one-of-a-kind accessories — see jewelry in a fresh way by utilizing nontraditional materials
  • Avoid common jewelry-making mistakes — discover how to read directions properly, buy the proper tools from the right places, remember findings, use the right tool for the job, and more
Our Take: The 'For Dummies' series of books are so helpful.  I mean, we all can't be experts on everything, but if we need a in-depth look at something, for example lets say sewing (as I myself have purchased in the past), you get the jump start that you need so desperately sometimes.  Its like cliff's notes for life!  Well being an accomplished jewelry designer you wouldn't think I could learn a thing. Well, I sure did.  This book covers from the very basics that are essential to advanced techniques.

Jewelry & Beading Designs For Dummies goes over a technique then gives you a project. Then it shows you different ways to incorportate your new skill into differnt projects. Quite handy until you learn how to design better on your own. The first chapter is all the basics and definitions, part two is the simple stuff like stringing, crimping, knotting, weaving, wire jig, then wire wrapping. As you can see all very vital things to learn if you wish to do jewelry. Once you have part one and two of this book mastered you can move onto advanced techniques. You are treated with advanced stringing techniques, fabricating beads and components. I found this section wonderful because it went over lampworking. I have a real interest in that and here is a section on it. Then you get to section four, which puts everything together.

If I ever need to learn new knots I know full well I can go grab this book. I love the 'For Dummies' series of books!  They really do tell you the basics of everything you need to know about anything! I'm very happy with this book. I'll definately keep it around as a reference.

-Holly, Book Legion

How to Buy: Amazon and Wiley Publishing

Iron Man 2 Movie Novelization Book Review

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 Iron Man 2 Movie Novelization Book Review

About the Book: "I am Iron Man." With those words, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark revealed his secret identity. Now a famous high-tech superhero, he uses his powers to protect mankind. Yet things are not going well for Tony Stark. The U.S. military demands control of the most powerful weapon on earth--the Iron Man suit. His beautiful new assistant has a strange, mysterious agenda while his best friend, Rhodey, has betrayed him. And Tony is hunted by a vengeful Russian criminal armed with a lethal technology that may be stronger than Tony's suit. But even as he fights his demons, the hero faces his greatest threat--one that no armor can defend against . . .

Our Take: Iron Man was a HUGE film.  That and the Dark Knight did things for comic books on film that have changed the game forever.  Robert Downey, Jr. is so dynamic and unstable that he forms a perfect Tony Stark and really gives the fans and the casual moviegoers what they want.  Dollar for dollar you know that going to see Iron Man 2 won't be a waste of your money.  

I can't tell you how good of an adaptation Alexander Irvine did from the script by Justin Theroux, but the book read quite well.  I can't imagine too much was changed, but rather adapted as you'd hope.   Iron Man 2 is looking to be an amazing film.

This is a great book to add to your Iron Man collection.  Its great to have and may appeal to young adults as well as those looking to keep the excitement of the film going!

How to Buy: or the Hachette Website

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grunge is Dead Book Review

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Grunge is Dead Book Review

About the Book:  Weaving together the definitive story of the Seattle music scene through a series of interviews with the people who were there, this book contains more than 130 interviews, along with essential background information. Digging deeper than other accounts, this history begins in the early 1960s, tracing the chain of events that spawned some of the greatest rock acts of all time in the 1990s, including Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. First-ever interviews include Eddie Vedder's take on Pearl Jam’s history, a discussion among the members of Alice in Chains, and Layne Staley’s mother’s comments on her son's drug addiction and death. There is also plenty of information on less well-known aspects of the grunge scene, including the Riot Grrrl movement and the oft-overlooked but highly influential Seattle bands such as Mother Love Bone/Andy Wood, the Melvins, Screaming Trees, and Mudhoney. The end result is a comprehensive guide that includes a wealth of previously untold stories and offers a fresh and immediate approach to music history.

Our Take: I want to start by saying that I hit puberty when grunge was huge.  It was a major influence on me and I really identified with a lot of the music, especially Nirvana and Alice in Chains.  I still listen to both of the aforementioned bands, the difference is that now instead of cassette tapes they're on my iPod.   Any movement, be it political, musical or both is bound to fizzle and be outgrown.  Grunge really didn't get that, it just sort of up and died.

This book 'Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music' really delves deep into the origins and roots of grunge and takes you from the beginning to to the bitter end.   The book has accounts from those that were there and really gives great respect to the culture and the figures within it.   This is hands-down no joke an amazing read. 

You can read an exerpt of the book on the ECW site HERE.  We highly recommend this for anyone that lived through the Grunge movement or is simply interested in its history.  There is no finer book out there that we have found.

How to Buy: or the ECW press website

Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes Book Review

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Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes Book Review

About the Book: From occult underground to superhero!

Was Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor based on Aleister Crowley? Can Captain Marvel be linked to the Sun gods on antiquity? In Our Gods Wear Spandex, Christopher Knowles answers these questions and brings to light many other intriguing links between superheroes and the enchanted world of estoerica. Occult students and comic-book fans alike will discover countless fascinating connections, from little known facts such as that DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz started his career as H.P. Lovecraft's agent, to the tantalizingly extensive influence of Madame Blavatsky's Theosophy on the birth of comics, to the mystic roots of Superman. The book also traces the rise of the comic superheroes and how they relate to several cultural trends in the late 19th century, specifically the occult explosion in Western Europe and America. Knowles reveals the four basic superhero archetypes--the Messiah, the Golem, the Amazon, and the Brotherhood--and shows how the occult Bohemian underground of the early 20th century provided the inspiration for the modern comic book hero.

With the popularity of occult comics writers like Invisibles creator Grant Morrison and V for Vendetta creator Alan Moore, the vast ComiCon audience is poised for someone to seriously introduce them to the esoteric mysteries. Chris Knowles is doing just that in this epic book. Chapters include: Ancient of Days, Ascended Masters, God and Gangsters, Mad Scientists and Modern Sorcerers, and many more. From the ghettos of Prague to the halls of Valhalla to the Fortress of Solitude and the aisles of BEA and ComiCon, this is the first book to show the inextricable link between superheroes and the enchanted world of esoterica.

Our Take: The Superhero genre really began to decline in the 1990s.  There were too many variant covers, too many companies and things were just too oversaturated and cliche.  I remember, I was a kid.  I was tired of them all.  I turned to indie comics like Grendel.  The world just had no more use for superheroes.  We had no great wars and no strife.   Thats is, until 9-11 happened.  All of a sudden the world needed heroes again. 

Christopher Knowles gives us his take on superheroes in culture and their influences in religion.  Its not a far cry to think that some paralells will exist thanks to creators with religious backrounds.  These godlike figures will inevitably feature some ties and characteristics of religious figures.  More than anything, I enjoyed the brief history of the major comic book staples.

The trends in comics tend to change with culture and right now comics are at a high point thanks to Hollywood finally treating them with respect.  Hopefully that trend will continue.  Knowles has a cool book here, we'd definately recommend checking it out if you're a comic book fan.

How to Buy: or the Weiser Books website

The Lord of the Films Book Review

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The Lord of the Films Book Review

About the Book: A unique scene-by-scene breakdown of all of the Lord of the Rings movies, this guide provides in-depth analysis of the live-action trilogy and other related films, alongside games, puzzles, and interviews with the filmmakers. Each scene is explored in four different ways: a closer look at the plot and the action, a look behind the scenes, a reveal of mistakes that slipped through, and audience reactions. In addition to covering the stunning Peter Jackson trilogy and other adaptions (including the animated adaptations), details are also revealed about the prequel films currently in production, making this an essential volume for any Lord of the Rings fan.

Our Take: The Lord of the Films: The Unofficial Guide to Tolkien's Middle Earth on the Big Screen is one of those books that I'd normally walk by in the bookstore.  I see 'Unofficial Guide' and right away my mind moves to the idea of a lesser-quality book.  What I've found through opening my eyes is that most certainly isn't always the case.  Its most definately not the case with the Lord of the Films.  We're huge Tolkien fans here at the Legion and we're always up for some LOTR goodness, especially as we anticipate the eventually forthcoming Hobbit feature film. 

I've figured out that J.W. Braun is a bigger nerd than I am.  I mean that with much respect.  This book, The Lord of the Films, is jam-packed with behind the scenes info, trivia and tidbits from the filming of what I consider to be the best film trilogy of all-time.  One page might contain five-ten various bits of information ranging from where the Dead Marshes scenes were shot to how they trained Shadowfax the horse for his glorious on-screen entrance!    The book even has a quiz and activity section in the back.  

This book is a great time killer for any Lord of the Rings fan.  It'd be great to have at work in your desk, or in the car on the go, or even just at home by the sofa.  Its a ton of fun, well put together and has a great softback design.  I highly recommend.

How to Buy: or the ECW website

The Anatomy of Story Book Review

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The Anatomy of Story Book Review

About the Book: John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry, and his students have gone on to pen some of Hollywood’s most successful films, including Sleepless in Seattle, Scream, and Shrek. The Anatomy of Story is his long-awaited first book, and it shares all his secrets for writing a compelling script. Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby’s own unique approach to building an effective, multifaceted narrative.

Our Take: John Truby is a master storyteller.  He gives us 421 pages of his tips, tricks and insights that can launch even the lowest level writer onto another plain!  The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller is one of the most interesting books I've read yet this year.  This may just be due to my own writing interests, but I really found his ideas and the way that he related them to existing storytelling successes was refereshing and helpful.

The book is comprehensive and fantastic.  One of the most important things that it helps to do is guide you away from cliche in your storytelling.  If you're interested in writing at any level and for various mediums, this is your book.  I'll be coveting my copy for a good long while!

How to Buy: or the Faber and Faber website

Friday, April 16, 2010

Augusten Burroughs Week: Day Five - A Wolf at the Table Book Review

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Augusten Burroughs Week: Day Five - A Wolf at the Table Book Review

About the Book:  “As a little boy, I had a dream that my father had taken me to the woods where there was a dead body. He buried it and told me I must never tell. It was the only thing we’d ever done together as father and son, and I promised not to tell. But unlike most dreams, the memory of this one never left me. And sometimes…I wasn’t altogether sure about one thing: was it just a dream?”

When Augusten Burroughs was small, his father was a shadowy presence in his life: a form on the stairs, a cough from the basement, a silent figure smoking a cigarette in the dark. As Augusten grew older, something sinister within his father began to unfurl.  Something dark and secretive that could not be named. 
Betrayal after shocking betrayal ensued, and Augusten’s childhood was over. The kind of father he wanted didn’t exist for him. This father was distant, aloof, uninterested…
And then the “games” began. 

With A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs makes a quantum leap into untapped emotional terrain: the radical pendulum swing between love and hate, the unspeakably terrifying relationship between father and son. Told with scorching honesty and penetrating insight, it is a story for anyone who has ever longed for unconditional love from a parent. Though harrowing and brutal, A Wolf at the Table will ultimately leave you buoyed with the profound joy of simply being alive. It’s a memoir of stunning psychological cruelty and the redemptive power of hope.

Our Take: We felt that it was important to take the time to honor Augusten with an entire week here at Book Legion, so we're posting one of his titles each day this week!   For the final day we thought that we'd take a look at 'A Wolf at the Table', because this is the first rather serious take that we get from Augusten, as he addresses his relationship with his father.

The book opens with Augusten recounting a scenario that may be a dream and may be a reality that his mind has tried to supress.  This father is chasing him through the woods, trying to kill him.  The memory is vivid and whether its true or not, its a great analogy for how it feels to have an abusive father.  Augusten really opens up and gives his great perspective on the events of his youth in this one.  I feel that its very theraputic for someone that has experienced similar abuse and may serve as an eye-opening look for those that haven't.

This is our final book in the Augusten Burroughs tribute week.  We hope that you enjoyed this look into his work and don't forget to check out his classic title, 'Running With Scissors', too!

How to Buy: or the MacMillan Website

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Augusten Burroughs Week: Day Four - Sellevision, A Novel Book Review

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 Augusten Burroughs Week: Day Four - Sellevision, A Novel Book Review

About the Book: Darkly funny and gleefully mean-spirited,Sellevision explores greed, obsession and third tier celebrity, in the world of a fictional home shopping network.

Welcome to the troubled world of Sellevision, America’s premier retail broadcasting network. When Max Andrews, the much-loved and handsome (lonely and gay) host of “Slumber Sunday Sundown” accidentally exposes himself in front of twenty million kids and their parents during a “Toys for Tots” segment, Sellevision faces its first big scandal. As Max fails to find a job in television, another host, the popular and perky Peggy Jean Smythe is receiving sinister emails about her appearance from a stalker. Popping pills and drinking heavily, she fails to notice that her husband is spending a lot of time with the very young babysitter who lives next door. Then there’s Leigh, whose affair with Sellevision boss Howard Toast is going nowhere, until she exposes him on air; and Bebe, Sellevision’s star host, who finds Mr. Right through the Internet--if she can just stop her shopping addiction from taking over.

Our Take: We felt that it was important to take the time to honor Augusten with an entire week here at Book Legion, so we're posting one of his titles each day this week!  This time we're looking at his first novel, Sellevision.

Augusten had really hit a slump with his previous book 'Possible Side Effects', and so he delved into straight fiction writing.  I have to say that I was VERY pleased with this effort.  At this point his wit and dark humor really shines as he creates these flawed, but endearing, characters and the twisted life situations that tie them together.  The book is centered around a broadcast network, 'Sellevision'.  Peggy, a good Christian mother, has a serious stalker, while Max was just fired for exposing himself on a kids segment on tv.   This book is light-hearted, while still managing to be dark and twisty.  Its classic Augusten and its an amazing read.

We highly recommend this novel to everyone!  Tomorrow we're going to examine the final book in our review week.....A Wolf at the Table!

How to Buy: or the MacMillan Website

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Giveaway!

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You can read our review of this fantastic new book on the site HERE >>

To enter, simply email us at at and we'll select five random winners to get a copy of this great hardcover book!  The contest will run from April 15th - May 15th 2010.  Good luck!

Ben 10: Alien Force - The Complete Guide Book Review

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Ben 10: Alien Force - The Complete Guide Book Review

About the Book: When his grandpa Max goes missing, fifteen -year old Ben Tennyson finds himself back in the hero business. Strapping on his Omnitrix, which allows him to change into different aliens, Ben teams up with his friends Gwen and Kevin, and together, the three of them set out to locate Max. Along the way, they find new half-alien allies and a new foe: the Highbreed and their DNAlien servants, who are joined by the alien arms dealers known as the Forever Knights

Our Take: Ben 10 is one of those rare great original cartoons that has come up in the past few years.  Alien Force is the newest incarnation of that show.  Now, a few one called Ultimate Alien is about to premiere on Cartoon Network, so I thought that we would take a look at this great guide to Alien Force.

The Complete Guide features images and brief bios on all of the Alien Force characters.  This isn't so necessary on many cartoons, but Ben 10 is different.  There are SO many different aliens and variations on characters that you almost need this book just to keep it straight!  This serves as a great refresher and a fun read for any kid that is into the show.   The first few pages have character models and the subsequent pages feature screen captures with the lesser known ones.
This book is full of great information and backround on the appearances of the various aliens and humans in Ben 10's world.  I highly recommend this for any kid that digs the show or is interested in watching.

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