Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti Book Review

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I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti Book Review

About the Book: From failure to fusilli, this deliciously hilarious read tells the story of Giulia Melucci’s fizzled romances and the mouth-watering recipes she used to seduce her men, smooth over the lumps, and console herself when the relationships flamed out.

From an affectionate alcoholic, to the classic New York City commitment-phobe, to a hipster aged past his sell date, and not one, but two novelists with Peter Pan complexes, Giulia has cooked for them all. She suffers each disappointment with resolute cheer (after a few tears) and a bowl of pastina (recipe included) and has lived to tell the tale so that other women may go out, hopefully with greater success, and if that’s not possible, at least have something good to eat.
Peppered throughout Giulia’s delightful and often poignant remembrances are fond recollections of her mother’s cooking, the recipes she learned from her, and many she invented on her own inspired by the men in her life. Readers will howl at Giulia’s boyfriend-littered past and swoon over her irresistible culinary creations.

Our Take: This is a delightful little memoir that recounts the authors tribulations with love and cooking.   The writing style is very accessible and you almost feel like you're reading something written to you by a close friend.  She cooks something different for every beau and its almost as interesting to hear about the food!  Her passion is overwhelming and the book is very emotional.   Overall, a great read.

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder: None Too Fragile Book Review

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Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder: None Too Fragile Book Review

About the Book: This detailed biography tracks the meteoric rise and tumultuous history of this seminal group and its enigmatic leader, Eddie Vedder. Noted rock chronicler Martin Clarke explores Pearl Jam’s reaction to its massive popularity, its triumphs at the MTV and Grammy awards, its notorious rift with Nirvana, its creative rebirth with the acclaimed album No Code, and its recent chart-topping return to form Backspacer. Extraordinary successes are counterpointed with scandals, personnel changes, band tensions, and substance abuse, all punctuated with revealing photographs. In Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder: None Too Fragile, the author brings to life the band’s captivating story: they're traced from their beginnings amidst Seattle’s grunge underground through the excesses and pressures of superstardom, to the their current incarnation as mature rock heavyweights. Fully revised, this edition features previously unpublished facts and stories as well as an updated, comprehensive discography.

Our Take: I've been a fan of Pearl Jam since the grunge era of the early to mid 1990s.  Now, its all a part of music history.  I'm ready at 30 years of age to look back during this era of new music that I just can't get into.  This book on Pearl Jam was really interesting.  It reminds me of the books you'd get at the music shops when I was a kid, like Musicland or Blockbuster Music.  Its got tons of images and information on the formation and rise to fame of one of the most notorious bands of the 1990s.  Vedder is famous, of course, for fighting the good fight against Ticketmaster back in the day over ridiculous ticket costs.  The fans definately appreciated that.   This book is great for any Pearl Jam fan or grunge music fan.  Its a lot of fun.

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Easy Yoga - Any Age - Any Place - Any Time Book Review

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 Easy Yoga - Any Age - Any Place - Any Time Book Review

About the Book: Jude Reignier's Easy Yoga is based on her ten years' teaching experience and will appeal to adults, children, and those with special needs alike. Her postures stimulate and massage the whole system, including internal organs, while gently stretching, firming, and toning the muscles and ligaments. It's easy! 

The easy approach presents clear illustrations and a concise text to demystify popular therapies. Each routine can be understood quickly, so that within minutes you are feeling good and energized.
* Learn the full 45-minute sequence and then adapt it to your busy schedule.
* See at-a-glance reminders of all the sequences inside the jacket.
* Practice your yoga at any time, wherever you go.

Our Take: Easy Yoga is a lifesaver for me.  I was looking to get into Yoga and back into shape after my wife had our third child.  I put on some of that lovely sympathy weight!  Easy Yoga gives you 127 pages of instructions and simple line-art to make sure that you can achieve each pose with ease.  I've looked through a few Yoga books and this one is without a doubt the most hands-on and helpful.

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Why Men Make Bad Pets Book

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Why Men Make Bad Pets Book

About the Book: Why are men so beastly? This wise and witty Keepsake book helps us understand "Why Men Make Bad Pets." Hilarious photos of animals are paired with descriptions of men behaving badly that any woman will appreciate. You know: They string chicks along. They make a mess when you're not home. They have trouble committing. They have delusions of grandeur. And, of course, they never ask for directions. You'll laugh, you'll roar! The perfect girlfriend gift book for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. Full-color photographs throughout. 90 pages.

Our Take: This book is a great gift or gag book.  It features cute pics of animals with snarky comments about men.  All of which, by the way, are true!  ...and this is coming from a guy.   You gotta call it like you see it.   Bottom line, a fun book and a great gift idea!

A Funny Thing Happened on The Way To the Future Book Review

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 A Funny Thing Happened on The Way To the Future Book Review

About the Book: Michael J. Fox abandoned high school to pursue an acting career, but went on to receive honorary degrees from several universities and garner the highest accolades for his acting, as well as for his writing. In his new book, he inspires and motivates graduates to recognize opportunities, maximize their abilities, and roll with the punches--all with his trademark optimism, warmth, and humor. 

In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, Michael draws on his own life experiences to make a case that real learning happens when "life goes skidding sideways." He writes of coming to Los Angeles from Canada at age eighteen and attempting to make his way as an actor. Fox offers up a comically skewed take on how, in his own way, he fulfilled the requirements of a college syllabus. He learned Economics as a starving artist; an unexpected turn as a neophyte activist schooled him in Political Science; and his approach to Comparative Literature involved stacking books up against their movie versions.
Replete with personal stories and hilarious anecdotes, Michael J. Fox's new book is the perfect gift for graduates.

Our Take: Its graduation season and what do you get your kid or loved one that is taking that next step in life?  This book by Michael J. Fox is 100 pages of stories and anecdotes about his starting out in the world.  Fox is one of the most charming personalities in Hollywood, and this shows through as a writer.  I really enjoyed reading through this and I think it'd be a nice and affirming book to give to anyone you feel is going through an important transition, especially a young person.

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Wacky Packages New New New Book Review

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 Wacky Packages New New New Book Review

About the Book: Wacky Packages: New New New is a follow-up title to the hilarious and colorful Wacky Packages, first published by Abrams in 2008. This new collection presents all the Wacky Packs from Series 8–14 covering the years 1974 and 1975. Featuring humorous and often grotesque parodies of common household brands like “Windaxe” cleaner and “Smoochers” jam, Wacky Packages: New New New offers a tongue-in-cheek critique of consumer culture and marketing subversion.
Created by a host of comics artists including Kim Deitch, Bill Griffith, Jay Lynch, and Norm Saunders, alongside Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman, Wacky Packages; New New New is a colorful, edgy, and intensely creative collection of illustrations. Packaged with four never-before-seen stickers and a wax jacket, Wacky Packages: New New New will please fans and collectors alike.

Our Take: This book is a follow-up to the original Wacky Packages art book that was released in 2008.  It features artwork from stickers between 1974-75.  The great little hardcover book is easy to carry around and has a cool wax card package like dust jacket.

The Wacky Packages New New New book features stickers from the iconic series, such as CENTS: Copper Flavored (instead of Certs mints), Pepto-Dismal and TV Garbage Magazine (in lieu of TV Guide).  This series was very much in the veign of snarky magazines like Mad and Cracked and later inspired the famous Garbage Pail Kids series of the 1980s. 

The book is full of funny, gross and off-color art pieces mocking all types of products.  Its a ton of fun for adults and kids alike!

How to Buy: Amazon.com

The Left Left Behind Book Review

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The Left Left Behind Book Review

About the Book: Hugo and Nebula award-winner Terry Bisson is best known for his short stories, which range from the southern sweetness of “Bears Discover Fire” to the alienated aliens of “They’re Made Out of Meat.” He is also a 1960’s New Left vet with a history of activism and an intact (if battered) radical ideology.

The Left Behind novels (about the so-called “Rapture” in which all the born-agains ascend straight to heaven) are among the bestselling Christian books in the US, describing in lurid detail the adventures of those “left behind” to battle the Anti-Christ. Put Bisson and the Born-Agains together, and what do you get? The Left Left Behind--a sardonic, merciless, tasteless, take-no-prisoners satire of the entire apocalyptic enterprise that spares no one--predatory preachers, goth lingerie, Pacifica radio, Indian casinos, gangsta rap, and even “art cars” at Burning Man.

Plus: "Special Relativity," a one-act drama that answers the question: When Albert Einstein, Paul Robeson, and J. Edgar Hoover are raised from the dead at an anti-Bush rally, which one wears the dress? As with all Outspoken Author books, there is a deep interview and autobiography: at length, in-depth, no-holds-barred and all-bets off: an extended tour though the mind and work, the history and politics of our Outspoken Author. Surprises are promised.

Our Take: I respect everyone's right to believe what they want.  Hey, whatever keeps the sheep interested in the sky cake, right?   Its when their beliefs are thrust upon me that I get annoyed.  One things we have to hear about incessantly is the rapture.  You know, that wonderful day that I wish would happen, when all the Christians just disappear in an instant.  Oh, dare to dream.

In the Left Left Behind we get a great novel of sarcasm and wit based on what happens to those left over after the rapture.  Author Terry Bisson does a wonderful job of not only making you laugh, but pointing out a few hilarous idiocies.   A truly fun read.

How to Buy: the PM Press Website

Digital Expressions Book Review

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Digital Expressions Book Review
About the Book: Digital Expressions guides the mixed-media artist through 25 stepped-out digital projects created with Adobe Photoshop Elements. Projects like manipulating single photos, collage on a digital canvas, and digital illustration will inspire you to tackle all kinds of digital mixed-media projects using stock photography, custom brushes, textured backgrounds and your own digital photos. A team of talented contributing artists further illustrates the techniques in action. Plus, a bonus CD includes more than 20 digital design elements for you to use in your own projects!

Our Take:  The new book, Digital Expressions, teaches readers how to really utilize Photoshop to their best advantage when manipulating photos and creating various works of art.  Books like this are so advantageous, because programs like Photoshop are so vast that you can take classes on it and still not learn every function.  This way, you get tips and tricks from others that are already in the know and you can expedite your skills.

Hands down one of the best features of this book is it's accompanying CD.  The CD includes tons of custom brushes and images that you can use for your own photoshop work! 

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Heavy Metal Magazine: 25 Years of Classic Covers Book Review

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Heavy Metal Magazine: 25 Years of Classic Covers Book Review

About the Book: Every piece of cover art from 1977 to 2001... IN FULL COLOR!
A must have for all Heavy Metal collectors! 25 years of covers with over 100 artists featured inside! 112 page hard cover

Our Take:  Heavy Metal has been an American icon for 33 years now!  We're fortunate to get 25 years of those covers collected in this hardcover book!  The illustrations are beautiful, and its so fun to see covers that I missed out on, since I was born in '79 I missed quite a few!  

This is a fantastic coffee table book and a fun conversation piece.  A must-have for any fan of the magazine or fantasy art in general!

The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis Book Review

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The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis Book Review

About the Book: What would happen if the Planet Express crew and the citizens of New York City in the 31st Century met the Simpsons and the citizens of Springfield . . . and how is it even possible? Prepare yourself for a Simpsons saga filled with Futurama! A Futurama fable suffused with the Simpsons! Featuring a plethora of pleasing plot devices including: evil brain spawn, lactose-intolerant space aliens, a giant ball of yarn, flying cars, mistaken identities, world domination, the brittle fabric of reality torn asunder, a comic book-collecting sentient planet, the Dewey Decimal system, self-eating watermelons, slave labor, space pirates, power-crazed vampires, super hero battles, unflattering underwear, mad science run amok, and much, much more!

This is the epic story that you've been waiting for . . . a story so big, so ambitious, so sweeping that it can only be told in a 208-page, large format, slip-cased edition, complete with new material, supplemental stories, preliminary sketches, character designs, and a pin-up gallery featuring the talents of comics industry luminaries Alex Ross, Sergio Aragonés, Geof Darrow, Kyle Baker, Peter Kuper, and Bernie Wrightson, among others.

It's a comic convergence on a reality ripping, time altering, space traveling, intergalactic scale! It's The Simpsons Futurama Crossover CrisisUncut and all comedy! First published in 2002 and 2005 as two two-part, comic book mini-series (Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis and The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II), these four hard-to-find comics are collected together for the first time in a hardcover collection, encased in a die-cut slipcase, and packaged with a reprint of the very first Eisner Award-winning issue of Simpsons Comics from 1993.

Our Take: The first thing that strikes you about this book when you pick it up is the packaging.  Its a beautiful, glossy hardcover with a slipcase.  Each side primarily features either Simpsons or Futurama.  The set comes with a re-print of the classic Bongo Simpsons comic book #1 and several pages of sketch and behind the scenes art!

The story itself is well-drawn and fun. James Lloyd does a fantastic job on the pencils.  The characters are dead-on for their animation models.  The writing from Ian Boothby is great, as well.  The story is hilarious, and I won't spoil it for the fans, but its everything you can imagine.

We get a solid 158 pages of story in this great hardcover.  I cannot recommend it enough to Simpsons and Futurama fans alike!

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

World of Inventors: Leonardo Da Vinci Book Review

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World of Inventors: Leonardo Da Vinci Book Review

About the Book: Leonardo da Vinci’s extraordinary curiosity made him one of the most prolific inventors in history: the submarine, armored tank, parachute, robot, and the self-banging drum are just a few of his creations. Now, children can not only discover what inspired Leonardo, but learn how to think like him, too. This exciting 40-page book brings the Renaissance world to life with stories, illustrations, diagrams, and hundreds of sketches by Leonardo himself. Young invenors also learn about the scientific method and how to learn from their mistakes — concepts that are put to the test when they construct their very own model of Leonardo’s amazing flying machine. 

Our Take: This book set is one of the coolest we've seen in a long while.    This book is 40 pages full of information and pics from DaVinci himself!  Its a wonderful learning tool for little ones.  Heck, I even learned a few things myself.

One of the neatest parts of the book is the pop-out creation of DaVinci's that you can build yourself.  A pic of the creation is below.

 This is a great book set and wonderful for any kid.

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Links: The Silver Dolphin Website

101 Things I Learned in Culinary School Book Review

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101 Things I Learned in Culinary School Book Review

About the Book: Louis Eguaras, a renowned chef at the Le Cordon Bleu Program at the California School of Culinary Arts, provides readers with a terrific overview of what is truly involved in the preparation, cooking, and presentation of meals. He also provides invaluable insights into just what is involved in making this one's chosen profession.

The book will feature a wide range of illustrated lessons, from how to properly hold a knife... to the history of food... from food preparation and presentation... to restaurant hospitality and management, and much more.

The book will be presented in the distinctive and highly-attractive packaged style of 101 THINGS I LEARNED IN ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL, and will be the perfect gift for anyone who is thinking about entering culinary school, is already enrolled, or even just the casual chef.

Our Take: My son is very interested in culinary school, so this book caught my eye.  This one is great, its easy to read and full of great advice and tidbits.  Its in no way a thick read, with the format being more like a guide or pamphlet.  It gives you illustrations and simple tips about important culinary issues like how to put out a grease fire. 

If you're in any way interested in culinary school, or even just cooking, check out this book.

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Master Engineer: ROBOTS Book Review

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Master Engineer: ROBOTS Book Review

About the Book: Robots are taking over the world! Meet some of the most amazing machines man has ever created, from battlefield 'bots to amazing androids, in Master Engineer: Robots. Before robots existed, people imagined them. In fact, more than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci sketched plans for a mechanical knight. Since then, engineers have come a long way, introducing the first modern humanoid robot, Elektro, (who could count on his fingers!) in 1939, to today's sophisticated humanoid robots that can speak, walk, do chores and more. Throughout the book, cool photographs and diagrams bring science to life, while engaging text explains the evolution of the robot. Once kids discover the engineering behind robots, they can build a giant model (three feet, two inches tall!) of a humanoid robot using the kit included with the book. Eat your heart out, C–3PO!

Our Take: My son is an absolute robot freak!  He loves technology and Robots are the natural draw for a 7 year old boy!  This cool Robot book from Silver Dolphin not only gives an overview of Robotic technology, but it gives you a built-in kit to build your own 3' 2" robot out of cardboard!  This book was a ton of fun and a great activity to share with the kids.  With summertime coming up, its a great addition to your arsenal of things to entertain the little ones!

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Links: The Silver Dolphin Website

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion Book Review

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Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion Book Review

About the Book: Think you know the classic story of Alice and her adventures in Wonderland? Think again. Renowned director and producer Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, James and the Giant Peach, Edward Scissorhands, Beatlejuice, Batman) has applied his signature stamp to this beloved tale, and will be sharing it with audiences in 2010! This splendid "Making/Art of" will take readers to the world behind Burton’s camera, revealing the secrets of performance-capture technology, the marriage of live-action and CGI technology, and displaying its singular style in a deluxe, artistic format. Fans will delight in reading about  Johnny Depp's performance as The Mad Hatter, and Ann Hathaway as The White Queen, to name just a few of the star performances. And, of course, the book will chronicle Tim Burton's unique techniques. This gorgeous book is sure to be at the top of everyone's gift list!

Our Take:  We were blown away by Tim Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland.  His vision for this tale of what happens when an adult Alice re-visits Wonderland was visually stunning.  We saw it in IMAX 3D and there is just nothing like it.  When I saw a visual companion that was being released by Disney Press, I just had to nab it.

This hardcover book comes with a dust jacket that features Alice (see pic above).  The pages are jam-packed full of information and images about the making of the film, including tons of 'green screen' pictures of the characters in their green suits with the green backrounds that were later filled-in with computer animation.  Its amazing how much of the film was actually computer fabricated...pretty much all of it! 

Any fan of Tim Burton or Alice in Wonderland needs this book! 

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Guerilla Art Book w/ DVD Review

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Guerilla Art Book w/ DVD Review

About the Book: International street artists are currently conquering the art market, with auction houses, collectors, and galleries demanding top prices for their work. This book and DVD package features interviews with key artists including Banksy, Futura, Ramm:ell:zee, Os Gemeos, Invader, Barnstormers, WK Interact, Zevs, Blek le Rat, André, Noki, and Eine. Graffiti-inspired street art pioneers Futura, Ramm:ell:zee, and Blek le Rat discuss their own work, how street art was born out of the days of subway train graffiti, spraypainting and tagging, and how the new movement of street artists are doing things differently.

Filmed in New York, London, Paris, São Paulo, and Tokyo, the accompanying documentary shows the artists at work: Zevs practicing his 'Visual Kidnappings' of advertising billboards, Blek le Rat sticking up outsized stencils, Os Gemeos painting their lyrical, folklore-inspired murals; and Invader putting up his unique mosaic wall tile images.

Our Take: Guerilla Art is a great showcase of street art that has an accompanying DVD documentary.   The art featured is everything from the great Banksy to Futura and Invader!  The book isn't simply a showcase of images, but it also includes information.  The layout of the book is great and keeps your interest.

The DVD is attached to the cover of the book.  It wouldn't play in our DVD/VCR combination player, but it played in our Blu-Ray player just fine.  The documentary takes us on a journey through various street artists, complete with interviews and history.  It was informative and a lot of fun.

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Laurence King Website

Put to Work: The WPA and Public Employment in the Great Depression Book Review

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Put to Work: The WPA and Public Employment in the Great Depression Book Review

About the Book: With unemployment surging to record levels and the economy in freefall, experts are looking to the Great Depression for lessonsin stimulating job creation. Then, as now, the system was unableto provide the jobs and financial support desperately needed by millions of people. But then—in the 1930s—the state intervened to create massive employment programs that put people to work on socially useful projects in states, cities, and towns across the country. The scope of these programs was unprecedented and never repeated in the decades that followed. Today, as the severity of the economic crisis increasingly resembles that of the Great Depression, the time for a reappraisal of the New Deal employment programs has never been more necessary.

Put To Work tells the story of the massive government job-creation programs of the 1930s—not only the Works Progress Administration (WPA), but also the lesser known Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and Civil Works Administration (CWA), which set the framework for the ideological and policy battles that followed. Nancy E. Rose details the development of these programs, the pressures that surrounded them, and the resulting constraints. She analyzes both their unique contributions and their shortcomings, especially in their treatment of women and African-Americans. In the process, she carefully reevaluates the charges that these were inefficient "make-work" programs, or "boondoggles," charges that continue to characterize job-creation programs to this day.

In her new introduction, Rose places the Obama administration's economic stimulus package in historical perspective as part of this tradition of government job creation programs. In her new conclusion, she explores lessons from the New Deal work programs for the current era.

Our Take: This softcover book, 'Put to Work', is 160 pages of information and history.  The WPA (Works Progress Administration) was enacted back in 1935 in order to provide work and food for American citizens suffering through the depression.

In this current time of economic instability the lessons of the depression should be on our minds more than ever.  Unemployement is on the rise and things aren't looking up anytime soon.  It was really interesting to read this history of how our country dealt with these issues.  Its a part of our past that is often overlooked. 

Anyone that doesn't have their head in the sand should check this one out.  Its not only a great history lesson it brings relevance to today's world.

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Monthly Review Website

Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism Book Review

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Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism Book Review

About the Book: Navigating the broad 'river of anarchy', from Taoism to Situationism, from Ranters to Punk rockers, from individualists to communists, from anarcho-syndicalists to anarcha-feminists, Demanding the Impossible is an authoritative and lively study of a widely misunderstood subject. It explores the key anarchist concepts of society and the state, freedom and equality, authority and power and investigates the successes and failure of the anarchist movements throughout the world. While remaining sympathetic to anarchism, it presents a balanced and critical account. It covers not only the classic anarchist thinkers, such as Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Reclus and Emma Goldman, but also other libertarian figures, such as Nietzsche, Camus, Gandhi, Foucault and Chomsky. No other book on anarchism covers so much so incisively.

In this updated edition, a new epilogue examines the most recent developments, including 'post-anarchism' and 'anarcho-primitivism' as well as the anarchist contribution to the peace, green and 'Global Justice' movements.

Demanding the Impossible is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand what anarchists stand for and what they have achieved. It will also appeal to those who want to discover how anarchism offers an inspiring and original body of ideas and practices which is more relevant than ever in the twenty-first century.

Our Take: Any book with a chapter on Emma Goldman is okay in my mind.  This History of Anarchism is 818 pages (including indexes) FULL of detailed information.  This is no dummies guide to Anarchy, this is a thorough and complete text that will keep you intrigued.  The author couldn't have squeezed more information into this book.

Anarchy is a concept that is often misunderstood.   Its often associated with violence, chaos and revolution.  The hilarious part is that all political systems come into power through violence, not the least of which is democracy, which continues to employ violence to spread it's wings throughout the world.  In all reality, very few Anarchists have turned to violent protest. 

This book covers everyone from Tolstoy to Goldman and Stirner.  The range of Anarchy is vast, easily as vast as any other system.  It ranges from right to left on the political scale and can appeal to everyone from a socialist to a libertarian!  If you have any interest in learning about the true Anarchism and it's history, this is definately the book for you.  Its insightful, interesting and delightful.

How to Buy: The PM Press Website

Almanac of the Infamous, The Incredible and the Ignored Book Review

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Almanac of the Infamous, The Incredible and the Ignored Book Review

About the Book: The Almanac of the Infamous, the Incredible, and the Ignored is a compendium of unexplained mysteries, paranormal phenomena, and incredible true tales that will amaze, confound, and remind you just how mysterious this world really is. An outstanding trivia and reference book for any lover of unusual lore, each day gives you an unexplained mystery, a quote, and a Secret Power for you to practice. Richly illustrated throughout. A magical daily read.

Our Take: This Almanac chronicles various supernatural and bizarre events in history.  The format is easy to read with a few short paragraphs and an accompanying illustration.   The book covers everything from floating trees to spontaneous human combustion.  This book has fun with the subjects, while still taking them very seriously. 

The Almanac of the Infamous, the Incredible, and the Ignored is a real treat to any fan of the supernatural.  Its informative and thorough, yet light and entertaining.

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Red Wheel/Weiser Books Website

Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead Book Review

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Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead Book Review

About the Book: Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead is Frank Meeink’s raw telling of his descent into America’s Nazi underground and his ultimate triumph over drugs and hatred. Frank’s violent childhood in South Philadelphia primed him to hate, while addiction made him easy prey for a small group of skinhead gang recruiters. By 16 he had become one of the most notorious skinhead gang leaders on the East Coast and by 18 he was doing hard time. Teamed up with African-American players in a prison football league, Frank learned to question his hatred, and after being paroled he defected from the white supremacy movement and began speaking on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League. A story of fighting the demons of hatred and addiction, Frank's downfall and ultimate redemption has the power to open hearts and change lives.

Our Take: This country, even with all of our strides, still has a huge problem with racism.   This book is the autobiography of ex-skinhead gang leader Frank Meeink.  Frank grew up in South Philly and had a very violent start in life.  He was the leader of a notorious skinhead gang by age 16!  This guy was on a fast track to a terrible existance,  until at the age of 18 he was put in prison.  There, he was forced to confront and ammend his own beliefs.

This book is Meeink's inspirational story, as told to Jody M. Roy, Ph.D.  I really enjoyed it and it gives me hope in humanity.  Its great to hear the story of someone turning away from ignorance, rather than bathing in it, as so many do these days.  This is a great, albeit sometimes dark, read!

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Hawthorne Books Website

Easy Massage: Any Age - Any Place - Any Time Book Review

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 Easy Massage: Any Age - Any Place - Any Time Book Review

About the Book: Easy Massage: Beat the effects of a stressful modern lifestyle with Fiona Harrold's Easy Massage, designed for those who need to follow a relaxation regimen but have very little time to do so. The techniques are easy to learn and the treatment given can be adjusted depending on the time available. The easy approach presents clear diagrams and concise text to demystify popular therapies. Each routine can be quickly grasped, so within minutes you and your partner will feel good and energized. 

* Learn the head-to-toe sequence with a partner, then reward each other with a treatment!
* See inside the jacket for at-a-glance reminders of the stimulating, de-stressing, and soothing routines.
* Give and receive massage anywhere, any time.

Our Take: Easy Massage is a great little softcover book thats about the size of your hand.  Each of the 128 pages features ultra-detailed instructions and illustrations to guide you along the way.  I found this book to be easy to read and very comprehensive.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History - Volume 1: Projectiles For the People Book Review

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The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History - Volume 1: Projectiles For the People Book Review

About the Book: The first in a two-volume series, this is by far the most in-depth political history of the Red Army Faction ever made available in English.

Projectiles for the People starts its story in the days following World War II, showing how American imperialism worked hand in glove with the old pro-Nazi ruling class, shaping West Germany into an authoritarian anti-communist bulwark and launching pad for its aggression against Third World nations. The volume also recounts the opposition that emerged from intellectuals, communists, independent leftists, and then – explosively – the radical student movement and countercultural revolt of the 1960s.

It was from this revolt that the Red Army Faction emerged, an underground organization devoted to carrying out armed attacks within the Federal Republic of Germany, in the view of establishing a tradition of illegal, guerilla resistance to imperialism and state repression. Through its bombs and manifestos the RAF confronted the state with opposition at a level many activists today might find difficult to imagine.

For the first time ever in English, this volume presents all of the manifestos and communiqués issued by the RAF between 1970 and 1977, from Andreas Baader’s prison break, through the 1972 May Offensive and the 1975 hostage-taking in Stockholm, to the desperate, and tragic, events of the “German Autumn” of 1977. The RAF’s three main manifestos – The Urban Guerilla Concept, Serve the People, and Black September – are included, as are important interviews with Spiegel and le Monde Diplomatique, and a number of communiqués and court statements explaining their actions.

Providing the background information that readers will require to understand the context in which these events occurred, separate thematic sections deal with the 1976 murder of Ulrike Meinhof in prison, the 1977 Stammheim murders, the extensive use of psychological operations and false-flag attacks to discredit the guerilla, the state’s use of sensory deprivation torture and isolation wings, and the prisoners’ resistance to this, through which they inspired their own supporters and others on the left to take the plunge into revolutionary action.

Drawing on both mainstream and movement sources, this book is intended as a contribution to the comrades of today – and to the comrades of tomorrow – both as testimony to those who struggled before and as an explanation as to how they saw the world, why they made the choices they made, and the price they were made to pay for having done so.

Our Take: The RAF is an infamous group that formed back in 1970.  The Red Army Faction is associated with Baader and Meinhof, two of the groups organizers.  A recent film, the Baader-Meinhof Complex, brought this legendary revolutionary group to light for many of us in the west that many not be as familiar with it as those in Germany.  This book represents volume one of a two volume set.

To say this book is comprehensive is an understatement.  This softcover book is almost 700 pages full of information!  The RAF was a group of young revolutionaries that went underground in the 70s and revolted against the post-WWII still largely nazi-controlled West German government.  The group quickly lost sight of their goals and tore itself apart, but not before becoming a cultural icon and a symbol for revolution in Germany more powerful than Che Guevara is to the rest of the world. 

The RAF, their actions and symbolism has inspired countless youth and even popular music, like Atari Teenage Riot.   This volume was very enjoyable, and I look forward to checking out volume 2!  The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History Volume 1 is a fantastic look into the world of grass roots revolution and the complications of the human factor.

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the PM Press Website

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Banksy: Locations and Tours Book Review

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 Banksy: Locations and Tours Book Review

About the Book: When it comes to art, London is best known for its galleries, not its graffiti. However, not if photographer Martin Bull has anything to say about it. While newspapers and magazines the world over send their critics to review the latest Damien Hirst show at the Tate Modern, Bull, in turn, is out taking photos of the latest street installations by guerilla art icon Banksy.

In three guided tours, Martin Bull documents sixty-five London sites where one can see some of the most important works by the legendary political artist. Boasting over 100 color photos, Banksy Locations and Tours also includes graffiti by many of Banksy's peers, including Eine, Faile, El Chivo, Arofish, Cept, Space Invader, Blek Le Rat, D*face, and Shepherd Fairey.

US edition has locations updated and 25 additional photos.

Our Take: Banksy is one of the best graphitti artists of our time.  He is an innovator and a rebel.  His social and political satire is amongst the best I've seen.  He manages to create some of the most provocative and interesting imagery possible with his stencils and a can of spray paint.  Its really quite remarkable.  Most of these works can be found in London and, in our opinion, it only added to the city.  Unfortunately, the officials don't feel that way and many sites have been painted over or just plain removed.

  
This book takes you all around London to 65 sites and shows you an image of the original work and what the site looks like today, along with a written status of the artwork.  This small-sized book is a fantastic and handy guide for anyone wanting to do a tour of London and see the sites of Banksy's historic work, or just a fan that wants to flip through it for the sake of knowlege.  Either way, I cannot recommend this title enough! 

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Links: PM Press

Learning in Action: The Human Body Book Review

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Learning in Action: The Human Body Book Review
About the Book: Through cool pop-ups, lift-the-flap surprises, and sound and light effects, children can actually see, hear, and experience how the human body works. They learn how life begins, from cell to baby, with an amazing 3-D pop-up of a newborn that comes to life with a real cry, and listen to the beating of a human heart while watching a light-up EKG. Detailed illustrations and engaging text ensure the book is both entertaining and educational.

Our Take: We yearn for great educational books, and after a great experience with the 'Look Inside the Human Body' book from Silver Dolphin, we wanted to try out their other books.  The Learning in Action series gives you an interactive look at something and this time its the human body. 

The pop-up book covers everything from the brain to the lungs and digestive system swith sound effects and pull-tabs that make learning fun and interesting.  I'm so impressed with the sheer level of information in these books that is included, without being too wordy.  
 
We recommend this book for any parent or teacher looking for a great way to teach kids about the human body.  This is definately worth your time!

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Links: The Silver Dolphin Website

Ink Bloom: Draw & Paint A Fantasy Adventure Book Review

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Ink Bloom: Draw & Paint A Fantasy Adventure Book Review

About the Book: Create an array of fantastic alien creatures, landscapes, ships and background elements while being entertained with the story of a strong female character and learning how illustration and story work hand in hand. Follow Hachi, a 17-year-old girl of Chinese-Japanese descent immediately following World War II, as she discovers herself and her innate powers while traveling to futuristic worlds, encountering new friends and terrible foes that will push her newfound powers to their limits.

Our Take: I'm an amateur artist that is always looking for a great tip on technique.  I have some formal training, but I'm mostly self-taught and I tend to learn best that way.  I came across this book called Ink Bloom.  Its from IMPACT books and comes with an accompanying CD. 

This book doesn't as much give you step by step instructions.  Its definately not for the beginning artist.  The intent is to provide those that already hold some decent art knowlege with some great tips and guideance while working on their stories.

I found Ink Bloom to be a lot of fun and rather helpful in a few ways, especially with some of the character perspective issues that I was encountering.  I recommend this for any artists that is looking for some inspiration.

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Rough Justice Book Review

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 Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross Book Review

About the Book: Alex Ross opens his private sketchbooks to reveal his astonishing pencil and ink drawings of DC Comics characters, nearly all of them appearing in print here for the first time.

Thousands of fans from around the world have trilled to Alex’s fully rendered photo-realistic painting of their favorite heroes, but as they may not realize, all of those works start as pencil on paper, and the origins of the finished images are rarely seen. Until now.

From deleted scenes and altered panels for the epic Kingdom Come saga to proposals for revamping such classic properties as Batgirl, Captain Marvel, and an imagined son of Batman named Batboy, to unused alternate comic book cover ideas for the monthly Superman and Batman comics of 2008-2009, there is much to surprise and delight anyone who thought they already know all of Alex’s DC Comics work.

Illuminating everything is Alex’s own commentary, written expressly for this book, explaining his though processes and stylistic approaches for the various riffs and reimaginings of characters we thought we knew everything about but whose possibilities we didn’t fully understand.

As a record of a pivotal era in comics history, Rough Justice is a must for Alex’s legion of fans, as well as anyone interested in masterly comic book imagination and illustration.

Our Take: We really dig comic books here at the Legion.  Accordingly, we love Alex Ross.  He's a phenominal and unique artist that has a very realistic style.   He does these beautiful paintings that not only give comics a great dignity, but an emotional depth that is unmatched, even in contemporary artwork. 

Rough Justice is a fantastic hardcover book with a dust jacket.  The cover features an image of Superman, which is half painted and half sketch.  This book is a really fun look inside the artwork of Alex Ross.  Not only the artwork, but the pencil sketches!  We get to see cover and interior art from Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman! 

What is really fun about seeing his artwork, as an artist myself, is to see his technique in shading and pencilling.  To see the finished artwork is daunting, but the pencil sketches make his work accessible, and can even give you some tips, at least to those of us that are good at self-teaching and learning.

Do you love comics?  How about great artwork?  Get this book immediately!  Its a must-have.

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Pantheon Books Website

The Art of Terminator Salvation Hardcover Book Review

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 The Art of Terminator Salvation Hardcover Book Review

About the Book: The much anticipated fourth instalment of the critically acclaimed Terminator series, Terminator Salvation, starring Christian Bale (Batman Begins) and directed by McG, reaches cinemas on 22 May 2009.

In a brand-new chapter in the Terminator chronicles, Judgment Day has come to pass and Skynet has destroyed much of the world’s population. In this post-apocalyptic world, the resistance, including John Connor, continues its brutal fight for survival.

This beautifully designed companion volume features hundreds of color illustrations, storyboards and intricately designed production art, showcasing the amazing talent that went into the making of this remarkable movie.

Our Take: We're huge, HUGE Terminator fans here at the Legion. When I heard about Terminator: Salvation I was skeptical, mostly due to the campy and cliche nature of the third Terminator film. The Sarah Connor Chronicles television show was a fantastic addition, so I had hope for the new film franchise. It was touted as a trilolgy that takes place in the future, so we can finally see the war between John Connor and the resistance vs. Skynet.


Unfortunately, the rights to Terminator were re-sold recently, and this future trilogy concept was scrapped, so Terminator: Salvation is a stand-alone feature.  I decided to aquire all of the related movie books.  The Art of Terminator Salvation isn't the most detailed art book that I own, but its definately one of the funnest.  Basically, each page has about one piece of art.  A lot of it is full-color production art and backround paintings.  A lot of other movie art books squeeze multiple works on each page, while this one is very spread out.  Thats ok though, because its just a lot of fun to flip through.

If you're a fan of Terminator, I think you'll dig this book, especially since it features a lot of artwork, computer generated pics and models of the various new Terminators!
How to Buy: Amazon.com

Terminator Salvation: The Movie Companion Book Review

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 Terminator Salvation: The Movie Companion Book Review

About the Book: The eagerly awaited new Terminator movie, Terminator Salvation, starring Christian Bale and directed by McG, reaches cinemas on 22 May 2009.

In a brand-new chapter in the Terminator saga, Judgment Day has come to pass and Skynet has destroyed much of the world’s population. In this post-apocalyptic world populated by deadly killing machines, the Resistance, including John Connor, continues its brutal fight for survival.

The Official Movie Companion takes you behind-the-scenes of the making of the brand-new movie and contains exclusive interviews with the cast and crew, as well as an abundance of stunning, previously unseen photos.

Our Take: Terminator Salvation is a great frickin' movie!  After the Sarah Connor Chronicles show I was really itching for some good Terminator and the film delivered.  Unfortunately, due to rights being sold, it looks like the proposed trilogy of which Salvation was the first film may never come to pass.  It may end up being a stand-alone look into the future of the world of John Connor and Judgement Day.  That being said, I wanted to gather all of the books produced about the film.  One of the coolest, hands down, is the Official Movie Companion.

The book is absolutely kick-ass.  It not only has a ton of great text that fills you in on the behind the scenes of the film, but it gives us everything from storyboards to computer generated models used during production and costume test shots.  The chapter on building the Terminators is particularly interesting.  It gives you a great look at the production and process behind developing the special FX for the film.

If you're a fan of Terminator, you need this book. 

How to Buy: Amazon.com

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon Book Review

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The Art of How to Train Your Dragon Book Review

About the Book: This official illustrated tie-in book showcases over 350 spectacular images from the DreamWorks Animation feature film, based on Cressida Cowell’s popular children’s book.

How to Train Your Dragon is the story of a scrawny teenaged Viking, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, who lives on the island of Berk in the North Sea. Hiccup is a member of a Viking tribe and wants to make his father, the chief, proud of him. Entering dragon training, Hiccup has a chance to prove his worthiness to his tribe and father. But then, in a world where Dragons and Vikings do not coexist peacefully, Hiccup encounters and ultimately befriends an injured dragon, at which point his world is turned upside down. 

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon is a spectacularly designed, full-color insider’s guide to the creative process that went into turning Cressida Cowell’s popular book into a feature-length, animated film. Featuring more than 350 pieces of development artwork, including early character designs, story sketches, and concept paintings never before released by the studio, the book provides an in-depth look at the process involved in bringing mythical Dragon and Viking worlds to life.
 
Our Take: How To Train Your Dragon is a huge box office hit.   It has managed to bridge that all too huge gap between a kids book and the big screen.  Dreamworks really needed this film to do well too, as its not been doing the best compared to other studios, like Disney / Pixar. 

The film is fantastic, colorful and fun.  Now, we're off from the theater and looking for companion books to enjoy.  We've read the actual book, so now what?  Well, we get the Art of How to Train Your Dragon, which is really a journey through the visual world of creating an animated masterpiece! 

I expected an art book, but I was really impressed by the sheer amount of cool production art and pre-production art.  The variety in the styles of dragons inside is really cool.   We get tons of backrounds and sketches, not to mention a lot of full-color images.  This is a great hardcover art book and well worth the money. 
 
How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Newmarket Press Site

Monday, May 10, 2010

Look Inside the Human Body Book Review

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Look Inside the Human Body Book Review

 About the Book: It's the most amazing machine in the universe-the human body! Discover your body, system by system and layer by layer, in this fascinating new book in the Look Inside series. Look Inside: The Human Body takes kids on an incredible journey through the powerful muscular system, the "bone zone," the long and windy road of the digestive system, the blood-pumping circulatory system, the 47-mile long nervous system and beyond! A unique layered model of the human body serves as the center point of each section, revealing key body parts and functions, while entertaining, informative text explains how the body works. Each section is fully illustrated with colorful diagrams and includes fun, interactive lessons for kids to try themselves. Kids can learn how to take their own pulse, how to make their arms float, and what different colors of urine mean — a very popular demonstration, indeed!

Our Take:  We're always looking for educational books for our kids.  They're ages 6 and 7 and have a deep interest in math and science.  I came across this great book on the human body by Silver Dolphin called 'Look Inside the Human Body'. 

The book features a skeleton in the middle that has muscle, tissue and organs that disappear more and more as you turn each page and learn about the human body in layers.  Everything is covered from the digestive system to the lungs and nervous system.  The book is full of facts and realistic (but not gross) diograms that not only helped the kids to learn, but taught mom and dad a thing or two, as well!

How to Buy: Amazon.com

Mythology: The Dc Comics Art of Alex Ross Book Review

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 Mythology: The Dc Comics Art of Alex Ross Book Review


About the Book: THE EISNER AWARD-WINNING, NATIONALLY BEST-SELLING MYTHOLOGY IS HERE IN PAPERBACK, IN AN EXPANDED EDITION WITH 32 NEW PAGES.

Mythology returns, in a newly expanded paperback edition of the book Entertainment Weekly awarded a grade of A, saying: “Alex Ross brings to his work an unparalleled sense of the real. His heroes–both super and mortal–have weight; they exist in space, and that space is affected by them in ways never before seen on the page.” And so here they are, the incomparable cast of the DC Comics universe: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, the Green Lantern, and the rest of the Justice League as you’ve never seen them before. Mythology brings together the best loved comic characters in the world, brought to life by Alex Ross, one of the most astonishing young artists working in the medium today. The award-winning designer/writer Chip Kidd and photographer Geoff Spear have teamed up to create a book like no other, with an introduction by M. Night Shyamalan, the acclaimed director of The Village and The Sixth Sense

Ross has often been called the Norman Rockwell of comics, and this book reveals not only his lifelong love of these classic superheroes but also his vision: Mythology takes you into the studio for a behind-the-scenes look at his fascinating creative process. The combination of Ross’s dynamic art and Kidd’s kinetic design makes images from his most memorable stories–including Kingdom Come, Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, and Uncle Sam–soar off the more than 300 pages.

The new material centers on Ross’s startling new comic book series, Justice, including sketches, preliminary art, prototype figures, and more. Mythology is a book in which every page explodes with the power of the icons it celebrates.

Our Take:
This first book of Alex Ross' artwork features a full-color picture of Superman on the front and Wonder Woman on the back cover.  The softcover book is cover to cover full-color artwork from the great Alex Ross.  Ross brings the DC Universe to life with his ultra-realistic paintings.

There is peppered in commentary from Ross, but what is cool about this book is less jibber jabber and more artwork!  This one is well worth the money just for the sheer volume of art inside.  We get sketches and artwork from the famous JUSTICE series, various comic book covers and even images used in merchandise, like plates for the now defunct Warner Brothers Store. 

If you're a self-respecting comic book fan, then you also respect Alex Ross.  Buy this book, its an absolute no-brainer!

How to Buy:
Amazon.com or the Pantheon Website
 

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