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Kristen's Book Club for August 2016

What's hot on the shelves this month?
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The summer is winding down and school is only a few weeks away. Here's what's worth reading as you shop for "back to school stuff." Razzle Dazzle by Michael Riedel "Give my regards to Broadway" and to Michael Riedel for creating funnest, authoritative book on the history of the Great White Way. Razzle Dazzle is a compact history of Broadway, from its formation through the early 2000s. His primary focus is on the Shubert family - Broadway's biggest landlord and name behind the powerful Shubert Organization - and how a couple Jewish brothers turned Broadway into a corrupt, but highly

Kristen's Book Club for July 2016

What's worth reading this month
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The sun is out and the temperature's rising. What better way to spend your time than with a good book? This month I have four film-themed books worth checking out! The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett by Nathan Ward Best known as the author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, author Dashiell Hammett created detectives evoking the real world, a world both shadowy and connected to Hammett himself. Nathan Ward's The Lost Detective gives audiences a glimpse at Hammett through the prose he work. As a former operative for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Hammett's first novels saw him

Book Review: The Nice Guys: The Official Movie Novelization by Charles Ardai

Enjoyable adaptation of the crime comedy that gives readers a new slant on the movie.
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I know it may be difficult for some of you to understand, but there was a time when home entertainment wasn't on demand. When a movie left theaters, the only way you could watch something at home is when TV stations would air them. This would result in the film being edited for content or time. Think about it, there was no Internet so you couldn’t stream anything. There wasn’t even any DVDs, Blu-rays or VHS for that matter. The only way people were able to enjoy their favorite movies at their leisure was through novelizations. When done right, the

Book Review: The Complete Steve Canyon, Volume 6: 1957-1958 by Milton Caniff

Caniff has a good sense of drama, suspense, and humor that keeps the reader seeking the next strip.
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Since January 2012, the Library of American Comics, by way of IDW Publishing, has been releasing collections of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon comic strips, which had an impressive run of 41 years. I was first introduced to U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Canyon in Volume 4 where I read about his international exploits. He was a character of his era. A man with nothing but good, noble traits, who left a trail of broken hearts because nearly every woman he encountered wanted him for her own. That includes Poteet Canyon, Steve's teenage ward, who was introduced in 1956. I missed

Kristen's Book Club for June 2016

What's worth reading in June?
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From a romantic adaptation to the world of classic Hollywood, here's a trio of titles worth taking to the beach with you in June. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes In the interest of full disclosure, I entered into reading Jojo Moyes' incredibly popular novel with a heavy dose of trepidation. As a disabled person myself, I abhor reading stories that take disabled characters and use them as inspirational totems and that's what Me Before You is. Adapted and set for release in cinemas on June 3rd, the story follows Louisa "Lou" Clark (set to be played by Emilia Clarke)

Book Review: Hollywood Cafe: Coffee with the Stars by Steven Rea

A coffee table book about coffee and the stars who drink it.
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Author Steven Rea has collected photos of over 200 Hollywood stars enjoying coffee in his book Hollywood Café: Coffee with the Stars. Rea has crafted a very funny and witty introduction to the book where he playfully mocks the modern-day hipster attitude of this timeless beverage. He discusses how he has chosen the photos for the book and the fact that he has done his due diligence in making sure to the best of his knowledge that the stars in the book are indeed enjoying coffee and not another beverage. Rea also explains how he has broken down the book

Book Review: Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic by J.B. Kaufman

No lie. This is a great book.
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In his introduction, author J.B. Kaufman reveals that he considers Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940) a member of “the fraternity of true epics,” alongside D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, Erich von Stroheim’s original Greed, and Abel Gance’s Napoleon, and he certainly makes the case with his definitive examination presented in Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic. He starts at the beginning, going back to the 19th century when writer Carlo Lorenzini took the name the Tuscany village he grew up, “Collodi,” as his pseudonym under which he published “The Story of a Puppet.” As stated in the foreword by John Canemaker, an
I missed the Firefly bandwagon back when it initially aired, probably because I didn't have cable at the time or something. I recently dove into it on Netflix and wrapped up the series and Serenity movie just in time for Titan Books to release Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the 'Verse and explain a great many things to me. Heck, the title alone showed me that Netflix's subtitles were wrong -- it's spelled "gorramn," not "gorram." Across 160 pages bound in a gritty and embossed, tactilly satisfying hardcover backing, we're treated to glossy stills of the crew

Kristen's Book Club for May 2016

What's worth reading in the month of May?
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Our Gang: A Racial History of the Little Rascals by Julia Lee The cherubic innocence of Hal Roach's Our Gang series delighted children and adults throughout the nation in the early years of cinema. But as racial politics changed the adventures of Alfalfa and his friends were criticized for their past connections to racism. Author Julia Lee attempts to debunk the cries of Our Gang's fraught past by looking at the series from a racial angle. Blending individual episode analysis with the history of the series, Lee tells the tale of Roach's desire to make a series about real children

Book Review: Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice: The Art of the Film by Peter Aperlo

A highly detailed look at the art of this superhero blockbuster.
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Batman V Superman — Dawn Of Justice is a landmark event in the DC Extended Universe. It marks the first time the company’s big three — Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman — have shared the screen together in a major motion picture. With decades of visually stunning comic pages to pull material from, the film needed to be equally impressive, and it largely succeeds in this aspect. Batman V Superman — Dawn Of Justice: The Art Of The Film takes a look at what goes into making such a film, from concept to finished product, detailing these legendary characters’ worlds.

Book Review: The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ by Dave Thompson

The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ covers everything you need to know about Frank-N-Furter and company and then some.
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Richard O’ Brien’s gender-bending musical The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London in 1973, at the height of the U.K.’s glam-rock craze. Although most glam entertainment eventually dissipated, Rocky Horror remained the one true constant from that time, retaining its kitschy ‘70s glory throughout the decades. The film version introduced Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf to a worldwide audience and taught millions of devoted fans how to do “The Time Warp”. The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ from the Applause Books FAQ series, covers everything you need to know about Frank-N-Furter and company and then some.

Book Review: Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice: Tech Manual by Adam Newell and Sharon Gosling

This new book details the technology in the film belonging to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
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Through the years, the Batman character has been known for his gadgets and technology. These have ranged from the ridiculous (Bat Shark Repellent, anyone?) to the really cool (The Batmobile, the Batcave, and the Batsuit and cowl, itself). There is no shortage of this tech in the new movie, Batman V Superman — Dawn of Justice as, after all, Batman is just a man, and taking on the likes of Superman requires more than just fists. The Batman V Superman — Dawn Of Justice: Tech Manual takes an in-depth look at the many varied bits of technology used in the

Book Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Vol. 2, 1979-1981 by Stan Lee and John Romita

Marvel legend John Romita's four-year run on on Spidey's daily comic strip adventures draws to a close.
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The trouble with a daily serialized story is how long it takes for anything to happen. Thanks to IDW’s continuing collections of notable comic strip runs, that trouble has been eliminated. Here in one handy book is two full years of Spidey adventures, notable not just for its complete stories but for its top-notch contributors: Spidey co-creator Stan Lee and Marvel legend John Romita. Lee spins a web of memorable tales here, but the real hero is Romita due to his masterful output of fantastic daily artwork for four years, starting at the strip’s inception in 1977 through most of

Book Review: Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 by Karie Bible & Mary Mallory

It's a wonderful celebration of a bygone era.
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Joseph Campbell is quoted telling others to follow their bliss and fans of Classic Hollywood should be glad co-authors Karie Bible and Mary Mallory have heeded that advice as their own love for the era and its stars have led to them sharing photographs from their collections, which they found by “scouring eBay, searching vintage paper shows, and visiting movie collectible stores,” as revealed in the book’s Introduction. The objects of their shared desire compromise the majority of the images in Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays 1920-1970 from Schiffer Publishing. The book is a treasure trove of 221 fantastic photos, with

Book Review: The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen's Dossier by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry

A deeper look at the colorful characters of The Blacklist.
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Now in its third season, The Blacklist, which stars James Spader as Raymond Reddington, a former Navy Officer turned super criminal turned FBI informant, is one of the more riveting dramas on television, network or otherwise. The premise of the show is that Reddington willingly hands over a list of the worst of the worst criminals — the blacklisters — in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The catch is that he will only work with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a young agent who may or may not be his daughter. Keen keeps a detailed dossier of all the blacklist members,

Kristen's Book Club for April 2016

What's worth reading for April?
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Spring has sprung, so let's see what's worth putting on your bookshelves this month. Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick Kate Bolick's book is a mixed bag of personal memoir, feminist history, and biography, all of which makes for good, if patchy, reading. Bolick details the female fear of "spinsterhood," charting its applications throughout history and her own personal fears of being alone. When Bolick takes the time to focus on the actual issues regarding the spinster trope - including the rise of the cat or bag lady - the book takes on a fascinating feminist

Book Review: Star Trek: New Visions Volume 3 by John Byrne

Like the best episodes of the Original Series, the conflicts are believable, the stakes are high, yet there also are moments of humor.
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Growing up in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, before VCRs became commonplace in households, we were limited to the whims of TV station programmers when it came to watching our favorite shows, unlike viewers today who have instant access and can even own copies of them. To revisit Star Trek at one’s leisure in those bygone days, the options were limited. James Blish adapted episodes into short-story collections, and industrious fans recorded shows off the TV onto cassette tapes, listening to them like a radio broadcast. Twelve episodes, selected from all three seasons, were given the photonovel treatment so fans

Book Review: The Complete Dick Tracy, Volume 19: 1959-1961 by Chester Gould

What’s fun about how Gould’s stories unravel is that they don't always end when expected.
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As the Library of American Comics and IDW Publishing continue to collect The Complete Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, Volume 19 presents the dailies and Sunday strips from July 12, 1959 through to February 19, 1961. The book has an introductory essay, Max Allan Collins's "Dark Comedy and Careening Imagination" about the strips collected, and concludes with Richard Pietryk's look at the appearance of Gould's villains "Foes, Fashion, and Flies" and Jeff Kersten's "In Pursuit of Sanitation and Sanity" about the reaction from the public and newspapers to Flyface and about Dick Locher joining the strip as Gould's assistant, which

Kristen's Book Club for March 2016

What's worth reading this month.
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I'm an avid book reader and it's because of this avidity that I can read freely under the guise of "working." Kristen's Book Club will help you find the perfect film-related - or should be filmed - book to spend time with each month. We'll also look at upcoming novels soon to be adapted for the big screen. In this inaugural column we'll explore Superman's origins, more from the star of Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, and a Hollywood director receiving the biography treatment. Bending Steel by Alan J. Regalado One of the more analytical books available this month is Alan J.

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein: Pretty Pictures! Good Words!

An exciting glimpse into the making of one of the most exciting films of the year.
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Mad Max: Fury Road is a phenomenon. It is the summer blockbuster beloved by millions, revered by critics, and held dear by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. There are so few films that are loved so universally throughout those three crucial audiences. Fury Road not only achieved that universal love, but transcended genre altogether to become something that it feels wrong to even label as a Blockbuster, or a critical darling, or an Oscars-sweetheart. There is something fundamentally urgent about how good it is, that makes an audience member want to watch it in theaters as many

The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series Book Review: A Gleefully Grisly Souvenir

An authorized look at the first two terrific seasons of TV's handsomest (and most horrific) show.
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When I first heard about the Hannibal TV show, it seemed like a joke - the apotheosis of the modern reboot culture, where anything could be greenlit as long as someone, anyone had heard of it before. Hannibal the character himself had become very difficult to take seriously - from a figure of real menace in Silence of the Lambs to something more like a regular horror movie monster in the sequels (I haven't seen Hannibal Rising, but I understand it follows a rather familiar Sympathy for the Devil style storyline - Hannibal is Hannibal the Cannibal because he is

Book Review: The Art of Regular Show by Shannon O'Leary

"An inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week." - creator JG Quintel
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Created by JG Quintel, Regular Show regales viewers with the zany exploits of Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon, two twenty-something slackers who find themselves in the caught up in very wild and very funny adventures. It is one of the most imaginative and entertaining animated programs on television, currently in its seventh season on Cartoon Network. Author Shannon O’Leary assists Quintel, who in his foreword states that with this book he and the staff wanted to “offer an inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week.”

Book Review The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein

Every bit as vivid, eye-popping, and gut-punching as the film, but slowed down enough that it can sit on your coffee table.
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Having spent the better part of the year revisiting a familiar galaxy far, far away and allowing it to consume our hearts and minds as well as nearly every waking moment of our lives, it’s easy to forget that it was just last summer we paid a trip to another landscape quite reminiscent of one we had spent a great deal of time in during our youth. Of course, the trips we took to the post-apocalyptic wasteland George Miller created weren’t nearly as idyllic as our jaunts to Hoth or the Death Star; if the Star Wars universe which sprung

Book Review: The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series by Jesse McLean

This book perfectly captures what was special about the show and the beauty behind it.
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If you are going through withdrawal from the cancellation of the ingeniously gorgeous television show Hannibal created by Bryan Fuller, then The Art and Making of Hannibal by Jesse McLean is the book you have been waiting for. The television show was adapted from the Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon and is rooted in the developing relationship between Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) It is organized by the appropriately named chapters of "Aperitif," "Entree," "Main Course," "Sorbet," "Dessert," and "Digestif." The "Aperitif" is a foreword by Martha De Laurentiis, who produced the television series as well

Book Review: The Twilight Zone FAQ by Dave Thompson

An uneven, yet informative look into a dimension of sight and sound.
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The Twilight Zone… a dimension of sound. A dimension of sight. A dimension of mind. A land of shadow and substance; of things and ideas. Also, a pretty great television show that ran for a total of five groundbreaking seasons and left an indelible mark on popular culture. In The Twilight Zone FAQ, author Dave Thompson takes a look back on this thought-provoking series, reflecting on its birth and creation in the mind of the then-unknown Rod Serling, and following along as it went on to become a cultural touchstone and the blueprint for so many fantasy television series, movies,

Book Review: Star Wars FAQ by Mark Clark

Everything left to know about the trilogy that changed the movies.
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Ever since Disney announced plans to continue the Star Wars film franchise, the pop-culture landscape has been flooded with products across mediums and more licensed merchandise than seems necessary. Hopefully not lost in the tsunami is Mark Clark's Star Wars 2.0 FAQ, an entertaining and informative reference guide about the Original Trilogy published by Applause Books. Before rushing headlong into that galaxy far, far away, Clark grounds the book in Earth history, offering chapters on the movie business, creator George Lucas, and Lucas' influences in creating Star Wars, such as Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, Joseph Campbell's The Hero with

Alien Next Door Book Review: The Softer Side of the Perfect Killing Machine

It's an express elevator to laughs.
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In a most unexpected crossover, Joey Spiotto combines murderous monsters with children's books in Alien Next Door: In Space, No One Can Hear You Clean. In the introduction, Spiotto describes how original alien-designer H.R. Giger saw some of Spiotto's work and reached out to collaborate on a collection of lighter-themed art, something that reached Giger's inner child -- something I became recently acquainted with -- but Giger's penchant for creating gothic, industrial, often phallic art wasn't well suited to making art for kids. Unfortunately, Giger passed before the collaboration could commence, but Spiotto moved forward with the project, and has

Book Review: The X-Files FAQ by John Kenneth Muir

Each chapter feels like a lecture in an X-Files course that Mr Muir should be teaching.
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I have been a confessed horror and science fiction TV show fan my whole life. It's a tradition that came from being part of the Star Wars Generation that clung to Battlestar Galactica and Space:1999 to get our fixes. I loved Frankenstein and Dracula but on TV I could only find that same subject matter on Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The Twilight Zone. I was a huge fan of The X-Files from 1993 through the bitter end (almost - I mean, ratings don't lie, most of us didn't watch that last season). The end of the show left me

Book Review: Beyond Mars: The Complete Series by Jack Williamson and Lee Elias

Beyond Mars is beyond awesome.
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If you’ve never heard of Beyond Mars, don’t feel too bad; the strip was only featured in one newspaper, the New York Sunday News, and it only ran for three years (1952-1955). So there are probably a whole lot of fans that have overlooked the strip and some of them might even be pretty knowledgeable folks. But what it might lack in notoriety, Beyond Mars certainly made up for with pedigree. How many Sunday comic strips can boast one of the architects of the Golden Age of comic books and a Grand Master of Science Fiction as its creative team?

Book Review: Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics Volume 1 (1938-1940) by Al Taliaferro

Readers who get their hands on this may find themselves in the sweetest disposition.
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Starting out as a supporting character in the 1934 Walt Disney short “The Wise Little Hen,” Donald Duck went on to become renowned and beloved the world over thanks to the talents of many skilled writers and artists. In addition his numerous animated appearances, Donald’s vast popularity is due in part to the comic strips and comic books he was featured in over the years. Author and animation historian David Gerstein reveals in his introductory essay, that the character made the leap to newspapers thanks to Disney staff artist Al Taliaferro, who drew the strip for over 30 years, from

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