This month's features and stories:
Rick Random ~ one of several nostalgia titles released this month - read my review on the Comics/Nostalgia page and the feature on Nostalgia in this issue.
Books Monthly is published on the first day of every month by Paul Norman. You can contact me via email at:
Second volume of Stephen King's comic book version of THE DARK TOWER is due for release at the end of October, collecting issues 1-5 of the comics. It will be reviewed in Books Monthly, of course.
*More of Briony's fascinating articles on comics and comic strip characters can be found in the archives
A fabulous competition this month for children or nostalgia/retro fans, in which you can win a set of the three new Enid Blyton's Enchanted World titles, and one of two copies of the Famous Five Survival Guide - full details of this one on the Enid Blyton competitions page
Reviews, news and features about books
Making the news this month:
Nostalgia...a hankering after literature that describes a way of life fondly remembered...
Fifty-one years ago, in the summer of 1957, I was at a loose end. My next-door-neighbour friends, twins Norman and Nigel Hughes, were four years older than me, and too old for a game of cowboys and Indians, or Robin Hood; none of us was particularly interested in football, and I don't remember ever playing football with them, as it happens, though I did often play football with my schoolmates. I was ten years old, and waiting to go up to Grammar School. Summer holidays were often lonely at times, because I was the only boy from my school year to pass the 11+ exam, and in any case, the village was spread out over a wide area. With the twins unwilling to "play", I did the only other thing I could think of to amuse myself – I read. On that particular day in late August, I realised that I didn't have a copy of my own of my (then) all-time favourite book ~ Enid Blyton's The Rockingdown Mystery. One of the twins did, so I borrowed their copy and immersed myself in the world of Roger, Diana, Snubby, Loony and Barney. More>>
SPHERE's lead title for 2009 (January) is Christopher Ransom's THE BIRTHING HOUSE... When Conrad Harrison impulse-buys a big old house in Wisconsin, his wife Jo doesn't share his enthusiasm, reluctant at the idea of leaving their LA life - so Conrad is left to set up their new home as she ties up loose ends at work. But Conrad's new purchase is not all that it seems. Soon Conrad is hearing the ghostly wailing of a baby in the night, seeing blood on the floor and being haunted by a woman who looks exactly like Jo. With his wife away, Conrad becomes obsessed by the pregnant girl next door, Nadia, who claims to be a victim of the evil in the house. The crying leads him to a bricked-up body, and the mystery of the Birthing House unravels, pulling in Jo, Nadia and leading Conrad to a nightmarish conclusion... (Back to top of page)
Ultimate burlesque: feathers, frivolity and fundraising
Nemi Montoya, the cool, romantic, strong-willed, cynical, sexy and all-too-honest twenty-something goth, returns to share more frank and hilarious moments in this brand new collection from artist Lise Myhre! Hang out with Nemi and her mates, including her best friend, the blue-haired Cyan, as they deal with love, friendship, inebriation, sex, and the other really important things of life. A superstar in her native Norway thanks to the immense success of Nemi, and now hugely popular in the UK thanks to her daily cartoon strip in the 1.35 million-circulation UK Metro newspaper you too can enter Lise Myhre s witty, wonderful world! Reviewed on the Comics/Nostalgia Books Page (Back to top of page)
Just a month to go before Kelley's new book LIVING WITH THE DEAD is published and in this issue I get to quiz Kelley about her books and her beliefs. Kelley Armstrong (born 1968) is a Canadian author, primarily of fantasy works. She has published ten fantasy novels to date, all set in the world of Women of the Otherworld series, and one crime fiction novel. Armstrong has confirmed contracts with her American, British and Canadian publishers for novels seven through ten in this series. The seventh novel in this series was published April 1, 2007. She has also written several serial novellas and short stories for the Otherworld series, which are available free from her website. Armstrong's first crime novel was released in July 2007. Kelley is married with three children; the family lives in rural Ontario. She was born in 1968, the oldest of four siblings in a "typical middle class family" in Ontario. After graduating with a degree in psychology, Armstrong then switched to studying computer programming at Fanshawe College so she would have time to write. Her first novel Bitten was sold in 1999, and it was released in 2001. Following her first success she has written a total of ten novels and a number of novellas in the world of the Women of the Otherworld series, and her first crime novel, Exit Strategy, was released July 2007. Armstrong has been a full-time writer and parent since 2002. Her novel No Humans Involved was a New York Times bestseller in the hardback fiction category on May 20, 2007. Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series is part of a recently popular contemporary fantasy subgenre of the fantasy genre that superimposes supernatural characters upon a backdrop of contemporary North American life, with strong romantic elements. Within that subgenre, she is notable for including many types of supernatural characters, including witches, sorcerers, werewolves, ghosts, shamans, demons and vampires, rather than limiting herself primarily to a single type of supernatural creature. Most of her works have a mystery genre plot, with leading characters investigating some novel situation or unsolved question. In Otherworld novels to date, most supernatural powers are either hereditary, or arise from the act of an existing supernatural of the same type. The Otherworld, while it has overarching conflicts and plotlines that span multiple novels is, thus far, not an epic battle between good and evil. The novels are largely episodic with the continuing plotlines primarily involving the developing lives of the main characters. (Back to top of page)
Penguin launches ebook tasters
Editor's note: Look for the link that says "EBooks are back..."
Thought conventions were just for Spock lovers and sci-fi fans? Well
think again! Hundreds of My Little Pony fans will be descending on
Brunel University in October for the 5th Anniversary of the
International My Little Pony Convention (Ponycon).
The annual event attracts collectors and families from around the world, many of whom will be arriving in fancy dress.
This year will see the return of the popular pony auction, where
convention-goers can bid for rare and celebrity-signed ponies. Last
year the convention auctioned off an astonishing selection of ponies,
signed by public figures as diverse as Bill Bailey, Terry Pratchett,
The League of Gentlemen, William Hague and David Cameron.
Got ponies in the attic? Members of the public will have the
opportunity to have their collections identified and valued at Antiques
Roadshow style evaluations.
There will also be display and trade stalls, an art exhibition and
fashion show as well as children’s activities and competitions. The
event is also attracting an increasing number of artists, who customise
ponies to make them look like anything from their favourite Harry
Potter characters to the cast of Doctor Who.
American collector, Angela Garrett will be making the annual trip from her home in Michigan, USA especially for the event:
“There’s such a great atmosphere at Ponycon,” Angela explains, “
You’ll never see so many ponies in one room, nor such excited looks on
Toy manufacturer Hasbro, the company behind the My Little Pony
brand, may also be in attendance, giving visitors an exclusive preview
of Pony merchandise due for release in 2009. Hasbro has generously
donated a limited edition convention exclusive pony, made especially
for the event and only available for sale to attendees. Convention
organisers are hoping that this year’s event will be as popular as last
year’s, which raised £5,000 for The Rainbow Centre.
This year’s nominated charity is Wellchild, a children’s charity of
which Prince Harry is royal patron. All profits raised on the day will
be donated to the charity, which has been helping sick children and
their families throughout the UK for over 30 years. Visit Wellchild’s
website for more details about them: www.wellchild.org.uk
Award-Winning Children's Illustrator Joins Forces with Storybox Magazine
New breed of authors about to cash-in on American craze – as the film industry embraces a new genre. Movie makers at the Venice Film Festival have been declaring the superhero is dead and the cowboy has long ago ridden into the sunset – the film world is looking for something new. A cult documentary from the United States could be the answer to its dreams – but only because it has finally caught on in the UK – and with its popularity comes controversy. The documentary – called The Secret - has never been on general release here or had widespread distribution in video rental stores – but it is estimated that it has been watched by more than a million Britons. It now has fans on both sides of the Atlantic making its themes more attractive to film producers. They are now scouting around for the right script which tells a story incorporating Law of Attraction. One author who has been approached is Kimberly Wickham, whose latest series of children’s books are the first to be published explaining the Law of Attraction philosophy to the under thirteens. “I think the movie industry is anticipating that the ideas behind The Secret are gaining in popularity,” says Wickham, an American author who now lives in the UK. “The movie industry is sensing a new trend with stories about the law of attraction. I have been talking to a number of independent film producers about my books in recent weeks.”The Secret is a documentary style film which advocates a way of living based on a philosophy called the Laws of Attraction. It first gained popularity in the US when it was showcased by Oprah Winfrey. In the UK it received a frostier reception. However, the movie is now being watched up and down the country at a series of private screenings being staged by fans. It is even being shown in exclusive London Hotels such as One Aldwych. The film is also currently the biggest selling DVD on Amazon and is spawning a number of novels based on the philosophy. Wickham also claims there is a groundswell of interest in the subject matter behind her books which is reflected in a surge in sales – they are distributed by Amazon in the UK and the US and also stocked by Waterstones.The looming recession and the affects of the credit crunch are also hitting ordinary people on both sides of the Atlantic. Many are looking for a new way to live their lives. The Philosophy behind The Secret and in Kimberly Wickham’s books may be the answer. Click here to go to official Secret site. (Back to top of page)