Sunday, May 30, 2010


Alice Week II: the Giveaway

When Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland was released in theatres, I did a roundup of fun new Alice books.

This week, the DVD will be released, and to celebrate, I am giving away a copy of Alice!

(Yes, I'm a tiny bit of a Carroll fangirl, but just a bit.)

The book in question comes from Chronicle Books, and the text of my review back in March went like this:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
By Lewis Carroll
Compiled by Cooper Edens

This edition from Chronicle Books is an interesting way to go if you want to see some of the many portrayals of Alice, in that it features not one illustrator, but an extremely plentiful selection of images from of host of different artists.

From the time Alice came out of copyright in 1908, every major illustrator has had a crack at it, and many lesser-known ones, besides. It' s well-loved, a real classic, and has a massive following of collectors, so why not? This is a good sampler of some you may never have seen before, as well as old favourites like Arthur Rackham.

It's not as cohesive in look because of this, and is large and a bit floppy in format, so if you want something for just a nice straight read-through, there may be better editions, but for the curious who want to talk about illustrations and how they relate to text, to peruse lots of pictures and styles, or get a pretty solid overview of different ways Alice has been drawn, this is a really good way to get that. I even found some illustrated versions that I have never seen, and I've seen a pretty good range of them, being an Alice fan myself.

Sound interesting? To enter to win a copy (I have one from the publisher to give away), tell me in comments about your favourite classic.

(Please remember to leave me an email address so I can let you know and ask for your mailing address!)


***And the winner, drawn by Misterpie from a well-scrambled batch of names written on lips of paper is:


(I know, we are so high-tech around here!)

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Monday, May 03, 2010


The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn

: The Museum's Secret (Publisher Review)

by Henry Chancellor

This book is on the face of it in the vein of the Night at the Museum movies - Tom Scatterhorn's father seems to go a little bonkers, and then disappears, so tom is sent to live with his aunt and uncle while his mother goes to find his father. They live, of course, in the strange, spooky old Scatterhorn Museum, where strange, spooky things seem to be afoot.

This is not enough, however, so there is also a portal to the past, which may also be played out in a scale model of the town at that time, some 100 years ago, when the museum was first being built and opened by Sir Henry Scatterhorn and his genius taxidermist friend, August Catcher.

Add to this also a strange life-giving serum, "the divine spark" and a pair of odd characters who also seem to be traveling through time hunting for the bottle and ready to destroy Tom for it, some strange goings-on in Mongolia that involve Tom's parents, and the second-largest uncut sapphire in the world, and you have a LOT going on in this book.

It's not short, but it's packed, and it feels like a few threads were left untied at the end. Whether this spells sequel or just the fact that it was too much to keep track of is really not clear, but i could hardly blame the author for dropping one or two lesser plotlines, given the number that do find themselves neatly wound up.

The book did not immediately grab me, to be honest, but after a few chapters, began to pick up, when Tom begins to wander the museum a bit and you get a sense of where this is going. Once it does get going, there is plenty of suspense and action, though I did at times find it confusing with the hopping around in time and the references to the town model and the large eagle that seems to go unexplained even at the end. It had large sections that were great fun, but I think this is one for a dedicated reader or one really looking for a time travel or museum adventure.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010


It's Kind of a Funny Story

by Ned Vizzini

Craig is suffering from clinical depression, and feeling the tiredness, the inability to eat, the insomnia, and the disheartened emotional state that go with it. Like being a teenager isn't sucky enough, especially when your best (and maybe only) friend is with the girl you're in love with and you have to watch them together all the time.

Then one night, it just all seems too much, and he seriously contemplates suicide. The suicide hotline tells him to go to the nearest emergency room, where he then goes to an adult psychiatric wing and stays for several days. While there he talks to other patients and to doctors, and learns some things about himself, his medications, his friends and that girl, and other people's problems. He starts to feel connected again, more like himself, and feel like here are some changes he has to make to keep the positive momentum going. By the time he gets out, he's ready to try the world again, ending on a positive, or at least cautiously optimistic, note.

At the end of the book it notes that Vizzini spent five days in a psychiatric hospital as a young man, and started writing this book one week later. That did not come as a complete surprise, as everything about life on a psych ward rang true in this book - something I know from visiting a close relative there on more than one occasion.

It all adds up to a really great teen novel - one with parts about finding yourself, about growing up, about stuff that teen boys think about, and that throws in a real experience, though hopefully one not too many teens will have to live themselves.

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Saturday, May 01, 2010


Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones

by Brandon Sanderson.

Followup to Alcatraz Smedry and the Evil Librarians (my review here), door left wide open for next in series.

Not much is different in this book than the first, as one might expect. There is still the sense that this is a mashup of fantasy and comedy, a sort of Terry Pratchett-ish form of the fantasy genre, but maybe more so. Add, as I suggested last time, a dash of Snicket-ish asides and loops of silliness that turn back on themsleves constantly, and you get the idea.

This time, Alcatraz, Bastille, and some long-lost family members unite to try to break into the very dangerous Library of Alexandria and rescue Alcatraz's father and grandfather, whom they believe to be there. On the way, they have a nasty encounter with some Librarians, in particular a sect known as The Scrivener's Bones, who are a sort of cyborg hybrid.

It's all danger, learning to use weird "talents" more effectively, uncovering some mystical prophecies and magical lenses, and of course, a lot of narrow scrapes. In short, fun and full of adventure, if maybe a bit more busy being silly and flip than is really my own taste. Fans of Pratchett and Pinkwater, though, will love it, I'm pretty sure.

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