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Kristen's Book Club for December 2016

What's worth reading this month?
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Winter is upon us. Snow is falling, cocoa is plentiful and there's no better time to curl up and let the stress of Christmas pass you by with a good book. Here's a trio of titles worth reading. Elizabeth Taylor by Ellis Cashmore Paparazzi everywhere; TMZ covering every celebrity's move 24/7. It's nearly impossible to imagine a time where this didn't exist. Ellis Cashmore's Elizabeth Taylor seeks to pinpoint when this oppressive obsession with celebrity first started, zeroing in on Elizabeth Taylor's public affair with Richard Burton. Cashmore doesn't rehash Taylor's biography. Instead, the book charts Taylor's rise from child

Kristen's Book Club for November 2016

Some books that will make readers thankful.
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The temperatures dropping and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. But that's no reason to stop reading. Here are a few books worth picking up for when the family becomes too much for you. Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 by Laura Horak Since time immemorial girls and women have dabbled in the art of cross-dressing, look at Shakespeare's Rosalind from As You Like It. The idea of disguising the female identity to either subvert gender roles or present pointed critiques against masculinity has been in film since its inception and it hasn't been looked

Book Review: TV Finales FAQ by Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren

All that's left to know about the endings of your favorite TV shows.
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The Applause FAQ series of books typically make for good reads and resources for fans of a particular pop-culture franchise, such as Star Wars and Doctor Who, or of a musical artist, like our own Kit O’Toole’s Michael Jackson FAQ. Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren have created a book that appeals to fans of TV itself, a very smart idea as it widens the potential audience. I mean who doesn’t love TV. (And what's wrong with them?) In their “Introduction” to TV Finales FAQ, the authors reveal their intention to “provide insight into how a series finale came to

Kristen's Book Club for October 2016

What's worth reading in October?
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Feel that chill in the air? It's time to grab a mug of tea and curl up with a good book. Here are a few worth checking out. Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case by A.M. Rosenthal Fifty-two years has passed since Catherine Genovese was viciously murdered as 38 witnesses heard her cries for help, and did nothing. Originally published in the wake of the Genovese murder, New York Times editor A.M. Rosenthal's landmark text on the case is being republished in light of the recent documentary on the subject (boasting the same name). Rosenthal died in 2006 but in

Book Review: Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show by Y.Y. Flurch & Rian Hughes

Fun and colorful, just like the TV show.
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Batman, the TV show based on the popular comic book character. Batman is the best of all the Batman properties. Adam West is the best Batman. The movie starring him is the best Batman movie. Part of what makes the show so good is that it's a humorous take on Batman. It's campy and fun and a real funny parody of superhero entertainment from decades before such a parody was necessary. Now, Rian Hughes and Y.Y. Flurch have combined for the book Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show. The book

Book Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Vol. 3, 1981-1982 by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Fred Kida

Stan Lee contributes his most original stories to date, aided by great incoming artist Fred Kida.
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After taking over the art duties from comic strip originating artist John Romita Sr., Stan Lee’s brother Larry Lieber continued his run for a little over a year before passing the baton to Fred Kida. Lieber’s concluding months open this latest volume, but Kida contributed the lion’s share of the art presented here. While I wasn’t particularly impressed with Lieber’s subpar art in the prior volume, he settled into his role and contributed solid if unspectacular line work for this volume. I had no familiarity with Kida prior to this book, so expected very little and was pleasantly surprised by

Paperback Review: Madeline Kahn - Being The Music, A Life by William V. Madison

A genuine and uncompromising biography of one of the most legendary women in the history of comedy.
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As we all know, Madeline Kahn was a genius, a trailblazer, and a comedy icon. We fell in love with her ever since we saw her on the stage, and especially on the silver screen in such comedy classics as What's Up Doc? (1972) and Young Frankenstein (1974). The Academy certainly adored her when they nominated her for Best Supporting Actress for both Paper Moon (1973) and Blazing Saddles (1974). In these films and others, she proved that women can be funny and hilarious, as well as dedicated and intelligent to their craft. But, there was so much more to

Book Review: Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics, Volume 1 (1969-1970)

I'd highly recommend looking inside Volume 1 before buying it.
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In the episode “The Alternative Factor,” from the first season of the Original Series, the Enterprise crew have their first encounter alternative universes when they meet Lazarus and Lazarus. In the second season's “Mirror, Mirror,” viewers were presented alternative versions of Kirk, Spock, and other crew members. This tried-and-true science fiction trope needs to be kept in mind when reading Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics Volume 1 (1969-1970) because these strips are a close variation of the Original Series, like the Gold Key comics. In his introduction to the book, Rich Handley provides the history of the weekly UK

Kristen's Book Club for September 2016

What's worth reading this month?
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School's starting up and if you have kids that means you'll actually have time to read something. (And if you don't have kids you might already be reading.) Here are two great books worth making time for this month. I Lost It at the Video Store: A Filmmakers' Oral History of a Vanished Era by Tom Roston I'm a fan of oral histories because they capture the voice of those involved, describing their own individual views to create a richer, wider whole. Contradictions can abound as the passage of time allows each participant to see things they way they either

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

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