I really chugged down some stories this month. Probably trying to make up a bit for the weak 2009. I read 14 novels or short story collections and 3 volumes of comics. Luckily for me some of them wer short. I couldn't LEGO or sit at the keyboard much back then. Hurt some stomach and chest muscles from snow shoveling and couldn't do that sort of repetitive work. Gettin' better.
Walt Disney Story Land is a collection of 55 short stories featuring Disney characters or other fairy tales. It's got several illustrations for each story, some are pretty nice and others suck. I saw it cheap at Half Price Books. Bein' a man with a likin' for Disney and a 20% off coupon burnin' a hole in my pocket, I picked it up. Four bucks seemed like an ok price. I just saw one on Amazon used for $6.99 and another used copy that the seller is asking $139. There are dozens of copies on AbeBooks starting at a buck. That's the better place to search for books, though they too have their bookjackers. The quality of the writing in the stories is like the quality of the illustrations that accompany them, some are good and some suck. I polished it off in a short sunday afternoon break from watching movies. Doubt I would re-read them but I'll stick it in my Disney book collection until I decide to get rid of it. Maybe I can get $139 for my copy. I know for that to happen some terrible accident would have to happen to all those other copies out there, like they accidentally caught on fire. Hope they have insurance. I'm just sayin'.Melvin Monster Book 1 by John Stanley is a collection of the first three issues of the comic book. I enjoyed them as a teen and thought they were still pretty funny. There were ten issues published between 1965 and 1969. The last issue was a reprint of the first issue, so unless you are some goofy completest, there are only 9 to think about. The original issues have been fairly hard to find and expensive. I think I have an issue somewhere in the attic. The Nostalgia Zone has issue #9 in Fine for $40 and a couple of copies of #10, the reprint issue, in GVG for $17 and $19 each. I sure wouldn't pay that for them. The reprint collection of the first three issues is listing at 20 bucks. You can find it cheaper. It's a nice book but sadly lacking the covers to any of the issues. I thought that was criminal but their editorial offices were too far to drive to and stay mad. I'm also gettin' too old to kick these young kids asses, except in print. Nicely packed book designed by Seth. Wish it had those covers. Melvin is a kid monster living at home with Mummy and Baddy and their pet alligator Cleopatra. The alligator is always trying to eat Melvin. The family lives in Monsterville, a town populated by all monsters all the time. Melvin doesn't fit well with the monster life style. He wants to go to school, much to the dismay of the school teacher who is enjoying her empty school house. He wants to be a good kid but his parents just don't understand. Occasionally there is human and monster interaction. Human beans scare monsters but Melvin kind of likes them. Some of the jokes are fun and some less so. Mostly it's an entertaining bunch of stories. You can download issues at various places around the internet.
The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit is a 1904 novel that's the sequel to Five Children and It and the predecessor to The Story of the Amulet. I have read both and enjoyed them. Nesbit's books slowly turn up at Half Price Books and I have been picking them up when I see 'em. I also read them shortly after they turn up in here in the house. Some books have to wait, some get bumped to the top of the stack. This time the 5 children find a Phoenix egg in their new carpet. They hatch it, find out the carpet is magical, and start having some wonderful adventures. There's a lot of silly fun and a bit of excitement and a whiff of danger. Eventually the Phoenix is tired and he burns up so he can start life anew. I mostly enjoy Nesbit as a writer. She has an easy chatty style with an inquisitive narration that keeps you up to speed on what's going on and occasionally questions what you read. You wouldn't know you're reading a book that was written more than 100 years ago. I enjoyed the cover on this one. I saved the volume too. I might reread them in the future, in order, and it would be better not to have to buy it again.
The Lindbergh Child by Rick Geary is the tragic story of the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's infant son. I've been a big fan of Geary's work and his series of gruesome, but nearly goreless, Victorian murders are highly entertaining to look at. He's got a unique style, his faces are visual treat, and his story telling ability is darn good. He's moved into the 20th century on this one, subtitled Treasury of XXth Century Murder. If he sticks in the last century for a while Geary's got a lot of new murders to retell, let me tell you. It was 1932 when Lindbergh's son was kidnapped. A ransom note was left in the baby's room and some clues were found. The police were called, the ransom collected, but no baby was delivered. Some 2 months later a dead infant was found a couple of miles from the Lindbergh house. There was speculation that the baby was dropped by the kidnapper, perhaps coming down the ladder. It's a story that captured the nations attention, thanks to daily radio and newspaper coverage.
A man named Bruno Hauptmann was found with a pile of the ransom cash. He was tried and fried. That was in 1936 and people are still talking about it. Several books have come out speculating that Hauptmann was innnocent or part of a group. Hauptmann himself went to the chair claiming he was innnocent. Hard to know. The judicial system makes a lot of mistakes and people just flat out lie. I normally wouldn't bother reading a true crime book, I just don't care to be reminded that people suck, but Geary's work is impressively expressive and a delight to look at. The story is done in beautiful black and white pen, only the cover is color. The book got nominated for a 2009 Eisner in the Best Reality Based work and Geary got nominated for Best Writer/Artist. He sadly didn't win either.
Journey To The River Sea by Eva Ibbotson was a delightful book full of interesting characters and South American jungle locations. The story is set in 1910 and starts in England where Maia is a young orphan girl who lives at a school for young ladies. Her parents left her some money. Maia's lawyer has found some relatives, the Carters, who would like Maia to stay with them. Charmed by her cousin's letters Maia goes to stay with them. She doesn't know how scummy they are. The father, a whimpy fool, owns a plantation, which he's running right into the ground. The mother is a stuck up ignoramous who battles the jungle with disinfectant and canned British food. It's a losing battle. Her daughter's aren't much better, greedy stuck up mean little bitches at their best. They all hate the place they live, the native folk, and Maia, even before they meet her. The family only wants the young girl because there's a bit of cash in it. They will treat her like crap. Maia travels on a ship with Miss Minter, a governess going to work for the Carters. Shipboard Maia meets Clovis, a young actor. They're all headed for Manuas Brazil, where Maia's new family lives, and where the troop Clovis is in will be playing some shows. There's a young boy who doesn't want to go back to England to take over the family fortune. He loves the jungle and wants to stay there. There's an intriguing backstory for Miss Minter. There's a good bit of action, some humor, some injustice and punishment, and lots of jungle. It made me sweat just reading about it. Not a place I would like to go, other than in a novel or on tv. Have you seen the bugs there? Wow. There's a bug in the Amazon River that will swim up your wee-wee if you take a pee-pee in the river. No one likes that. Better read a good book.
The Aeroplane of Adventure by David Marlor is a fan fiction novel based on Enid Blyton's Adventure series. I was a huge fan of that series when I was a kid. After I started reading Harry Potter and was actively looking for other young adult novels I figured why not pick up a set and re-read them. Turned out to be a hard thing to find in the USA at the time. I picked up a set from a book store in Winnipeg on a trip there. I really enjoyed them. Back in January I was looking at the Enid Blyton site's FanFic page and found Marlor's novel here. There's lashings of fiction on the FanFic page. Marlor's novel was pretty entertaining. The kids are on vacation when they get stranded on an island with some sort of secret criminal activity going on. They bust up those criminals pretty good.The story is pretty good, it's well written and the style fits. I thought it was a nice addition to the series. Writing this reminds me I need to take some time to see if I can find some more good Blyton fanfic. My usual experience with fan fiction is that it's pretty far below the level of the original, or the author takes flight with his own version of the series. I used to go searching for Harry Potter fanfic but it was hard to find something good.
Tales of Betsy-May by Enid Blyton is a collection of short stories. Betsy-May is a little kid and these stories are little adventure or morality pieces that usually have Betsy-May getting some task done, like going to mail a letter all by herself, or meeting up with a new person and discovering that they're not so bad or scarey, or getting into some mischief and learning a lesson. The stories are fun enough and it's a quick read.
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede is a fun book with lots of humor and dragons. It's the first of a series of 4 books. I picked them up 3 or 4 years ago when I was on a book buying jag. I was still working at DreamHaven and they were bought with some of the nudie magazine credit I had. I'll be reading out of that stock for years to come. Our main character is a princess who just doesn't fit in. She wants to learn things, like magic, or cooking, but her mother thinks it's not Princess work. The princess goes to live with a dragon in some caves in a mountainous area just packed with dragons. They all have caves and some have a princess. It's the perfect place to get rescued by a knight. Of course, our princess just isn't interested in getting rescued. The poor knights are bewildered by her. She makes some friends and some enemies. Some wizards are planning to rob the dragon's of some of their magic. I liked it well enough to continue the series later in the month.
Famous Players by Rick Geary is another murder mystery. It's part of his Treasury of XXth Century Murder series. This one is set in 1922 Hollywood and concerns the murder of actor and director William Desmond Taylor. Found dead in his bungalow the police botch the investigation, possibly destroying evidence, and no one ever got arrested for the crime. Geary starts with a bit of history of Hollywood and the type of place it had become in the early days of the film industry. He introduces the players and specualtes on who done it. The artwork is what keeps me picking up his stories and it's fine. Lots of interesting pictures to look at.
Tales of Beedle the Bard by J K Rowling seemed to jump off the shelf for some reason. I had read it when it came out a year or two ago. It's still entertaining. I enjoy the stories, translated by Hermione Granger, and the story notes by Professor Dumbledore. The cover is quite nice.
Searching For Dragons by Patricia C Wrede continues the series with the princess meeting the king of the Enchanted Forest. They band together with some others and rescue a dragon. There's lots of stuff happening and I liked the sense of humor. This is the second. I'll get to the other soon. I want to see where this is going.
Muddle Earth by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell turned up at Half Price Books just at the time I had a nice coupon. These are the guys who have been doing The Edge Chronicles. I like that series and recndtly found two more. Muddle Earth is a parody of The Lord Of The Rings. Joe, a young boy from our earth, is brought to Muddle Earth by the wizard Randalf and forced to fight in the power struggle going on there. There's a lot of jokes, some good and some lame. It's a good read and I liked the illustrations.
Calling on Dragons & Talking To Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede continue the story of the princess and the dragons. There are some new characters tossed in with the old characters. In COD's the bad wizards have stolen the sword of the king of the enchanged forest. They can steal more magic with it. The king and the princess, now married, go after it. In TTD's the princess and king's son has to go on a quest to save his dad. I enjoyed this whole series pretty much. I put them in the keeper pile and plan to re-read them in a few years.
The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane by Robert E Howard is part of the DelRey series that's reprinting Robert E. Howard in nice illustrated reasonably priced trade paperbacks. I think some people would know who Conan is, he's the most famous of Howard's characters. Howard created many more characters in the short time that he was writing. He started in 1924 and died by his own hand in 1936. Soloman Kane is a Puritan that battles the dark supernatural characters that seem common in Howard's worlds. This book collects the stories that were published and lots of little bits and pieces that have only turned up in small press publications. I'm just getting back into reading Howard after having moved along about thirty years ago. Some of the stories were more interesting than others. I didn't find the fragments or poetry very interesting but I'm not much of a poetry guy. It's nice to have it all together like this.
The Book of Enchantments by Patricia C Wrede is a collection of short stories that had nothing to do with the princess and dragon series. Some were ok and some were less interesting. Not a book I would re-read. Nice cover.
A Book of Pixie Stories by Enid Blyton is just that, a collection of pixie stories. They were pretty much fun. with the usual Blyton messages. I need to re-read the adventure books, a much more entertaining series.