Book Review – Nanotecture

TITLE: Nanotecture: Tiny Built Things
AUTHOR: Rebecca Roke
PUBLISHED: 2016
FORMAT: Hardcover

Nanotecture is supposed to be, according to the book’s own description, a book about architecture/small houses  (including bird/dog/cathouses).  I got it because I thought it would be a really interesting book about tiny houses, which I would never on any planet live in (where would you put books?!), but which I think are fascinating.

The book is small – slightly smaller than a traditional hardback – and each page features a full color photo and then a description and block info that includes who made it, where, when, why, etc…  It’s arranged in five categories from smallest to largest, and features icons that tell what materials were used in the building project.

So, for starters, the book isn’t quite what it’s billed to be.  A lot of the book (like half of the book) is sculpture and the like and not anything useful in any way, meaningful or not.  “This sculpture was done for an art show and lasted forty-seven hours before we took it down!” (Okay, I’m exaggerating.  But barely.)  The reason I wanted the book was to see DWELLINGS – their word – and not just plain artwork.  Nothing wrong with artwork, but that wasn’t what I was going for.

Also the photo was nicely in full color, but it was a single, exterior shot for each thing.  When the outside of the space is a square and the inside is supposed to hold an entire house, the almost windowless square is the most boring camera area possible.  I’m sure they were going for the small format to keep in theme (oh, a tiny book about tiny houses!), but it lost a lot of potential with only the one image.  I know that not everything could have multiple photos – there was a bird house that could be installed as a roof tile, for instance – but a lot of them had designs that were *about* the inside of the piece.

The book was thorough, but it wasn’t what it said it was, and it lacked a few things that would have made it stellar.  I’ll give it 3/5.  Look at it for what it is – an art book – and not at all a book about tiny houses.

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Book Review – Batula by Steven T. Seagle

Title: Batula

Author:  Steven T. Seagle

Illustrator:  Marco Cinello

Format: Hardback

Published: 2012

 

Tomorrow is Halloween so I figure this is probably the most seasonably appropriate book I shall read. While it is seasonably appropriate it is not scary in the least.  It’s all about a fruit bat turned vampire.  Yes you read that correctly.  A fruit bat who has been bitten by a vampire.  Okay with that out in the air, I would like to back track into how I came to read this book.

 

It was a while back from now that I found myself perusing the comics at my local shop when I found the book.  It hat my attention at the title.  I mean really what is there not to love about bats?  Yes I am fond of the little winged rodents of the night.  Not my favorite critter in the world but a fascinating creature all the same.  Of course the title alone speaks of Dracula so I was intrigued further to the point of reading the back of the book.  It was at this point that I found myself having the need to possess this books at it makes many a promise that was just too good to pass up.  Generally speaking when we hit the three win mark I know it is a book I’m interested in.  This book promised me more than 3 win points, and I shall list out the win points this book has beyond the fact of being a children’t comic (which is a neutral point as this can be both a good and bad thing depending on the content).  Win 1 – The story is about bats,  Win 2 – The story is about Vampires  Win 2.5 – The story is  about a bat that is turned into a vampire (I mean really that has to count for something!  Win 3 – There is a ‘werewolf’ in the story (really for me this should count as a double win as I love werewolves even if this ‘werewolf’ is a werewolf spider named Wulf).  Win 4 – This book was published by Image Comics which is a publisher I generally trust as most everything I’ve read produced by them has been quite good.  Win 5 – The back cover is enticing in format Win 6 – The cover is really cute/good in my opinion.  (See image bellow.)

 

Needless to say 6 wins told me that this as a must own book! Of course, there is the adage of never judge a book by it’s cover and honest to goodness I didn’t judge on cover alone – I did use the blurb on the back as a guide as well.  Now I will say now that book isn’t bad but it doesn’t deliver on the promises it makes or at least the immense potential that this story could produce.

 

To be honest, the story was very direct and straight forward even for a children’s picture book.  It told a rather bland story about Livingston the fruit bat who was turned into a vampire bat met the spider Wulf and stopped an attack on his orchard all the while garnering attention and adoration from the other bats who didn’t notice him much because he learned to like himself.  Yet, while the story was lacking the pictures held up very well, a lot of the images were adorable and I loved looking at them, even as I write this post I’ve flipped through the book a few more times taking the time to examine the pictures and appreciate the art work for what it is.  In looking through the book a second time it has won and charmed me a bit more than the first time through.

 

Also, I feel it should be noted that while this book was done by Image Comics and was in the comic book store, it is not fashioned like a comic book, it is more fashioned like a children’s picture book.  In the end, the book wasn’t quite what I expected and didn’t live up the the win score it promised me from the start but it was still a decent read, I still love the art work and if there were to be another Batula adventure I would probably read it as this story was still something of an introduction to the character and there is a lot of potential when it comes to the character and the stories one can tell with him.  So because of the adorable artwork I think this book can come in at at 4 out of 5, particularly for a children’s book.  If you judge it on story content alone (which you can’t really and shouldn’t as the art tells a story too) or on a book among all books the story would be a 3 out of 5 for me.

Book Review – Alice in the Country of Clover The March Hare Revolution by Quin Rose

Title: Alice in the Country of Clover: The March Hare Revolution

Author: Quin Rose

Illustrator:  Ryo Kazuki

Published: 2012

Translated: 2015

 

It has been a while but I bring you yet another Alice story.  Since my last binge I think I have covered all Alice books but the latest releases which I am at the mercy of my library to eventually get in at this point.  Of course, knowing that I am a massive March Hare/Eliot fan, I have been chomping at the bit and salivating for this manga.  Then when you toss in the title and the content of past Eliot centric books I was certain that this book was going to be about Eliot’s past and how he broke the rules and shouldn’t be around but Blood rescued him.  (A lot of this is covered in country of Joker and in other Eliot centric stories.) Yet, this story was not what I expected it to be, not to say that it is bad thing.

 

The first thing that jumped out at me in this story was the fact that there is a lizard and a spider on Eliot’s scarf when it comes to the art work something that has been very subtle in the past if it has always been there.  It threw me off a bit but at the same time not enough to break the story for me to say the least.  What did throw me though was the art work, it was different than what I am used do.  Of course the characters are recognizable as always and of course I expect the art work to be different considering that it wasn’t Mamenosuke Fujimaru’s work as most of the books are.  However, there are artists who manage to come close to drawing similar to Mamenosuke while other’s fall short, such as Job who draws thinks long and lean.  Ryo Kazuki is another artists who does things differently but instead of long and lean Ryo goes more for a soft bubble look.  The hair instead of sharp angles as most manga I’m used to is, has a softer more curved look to it.  It threw me off for the first few pages.  Eventually however I got lost in the story and the art became second nature.  I do know that I did appreciate how clear emotions were on the faces of the characters giving the story added life instead of constantly having sound effects notate emotion, or ambiguous drawings that left me guessing at times (the latter of which Job is occasionally guilty of).

 

Anyway the story is of the developing romance between Alice and Eliot. There isn’t a lot of action, such as an epic plot to pull Alice away from her love or massively put her life in danger.  The focus of the story as on Alice and Eliot, as they spend time together and Alice realizes that there is more to her and Eliot than just friendship.  The twist and pull of the story that helps give things momentum is the fact that Alice is having dreams of her sister and is wavering on whether to stay or to go back home.  She is also frightened by the kind of dangerous life she would have if she stays with Eliot as he is the second in command of a mafia and they were attacked during one of their outings.  (Honestly I loved that bit as Eliot was so amazingly protective that it made me a little bit giddy.)

 

In the end the story was sufficiently cute though not overly heavy or dramatic in regards to romance, very light and airy.  Yet it was still rather good and sweet and I found myself giving out a sigh as I closed the book and content that only a very small portion was devoted to a preview of another story rather than a 1/3 of the story being devoted to a preview.  Over all I think I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages.  While there are several Eliot centric books that are on my ‘wish to  own’ list (read as most – if not all)  this one will not be making the list.

Book Review – Alice in the country of Diamonds Wonderful Wonder World Official Visual Fan Book

Title: Alice in the country of Diamonds Wonderful Wonder World Official Visual Fan Book

Author: QuinRose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published: 2014

 

After reading through Bet on My Heart I was absolutely in love with Alice in the country of Diamonds I had to know, if there were other novels.  My obsession with this manga had increased because of that book.  I saw that the library was getting this book in and I jumped on it without question.  I got the book just before a slow day at work and every spare minute was devoted to this book as it was amazing.

 

This was more of an art book rather than a story or a novel but it was amazing full color art work when most of my manga is in black and white.  The art work was gorgeous.  I loved every second of it looking at all the pictures.  In addition to the amazing pictures that made me want to book just for that there were detailed  character bios where I learned more about the characters in detail and saw more about their outfits than I had ever known or noticed.

 

Of course that wasn’t all when it came to the book,  it also went through every possible outcome of this particular game.  What paths and ends you could achieve.  It was amazing because this was the closest I could get to playing the game as it has not jumped the language barrier yet.  It was so interesting to see the different turns the story could take for the Country of Diamonds it made me adore the new characters such as Jerhico Bermuda (the Dodo bird) and Sydney Black, characters I only got to know in small ways in the first book. Not only that but with this book, I learned that there are deeper levels to the game and world as well.

In addition to all of that the book also came with two bonus manga chapters.  I got half way through the book and had to flip to the end to start reading the manga.  It was a real treat and a joy to be honest.  I was glad that they kept with classic manga with the bonus chapters.  The first chapter was a story about Sydney Black and it was overly sweet and cute – I find that Sydney is a charming and endearing character who works well with Alice, though I wouldn’t say that he is my favorite to be with Alice.

 

The other chapter plays off of a spoiler for one of the end games with the Blood Twins as her chosen romance.  This was the most powerful and very well done.  To explain how amazing it was I would have to spoil one of the possible ends.  So if you don’t wish to be spoiled skip to the next paragraph and you’ll be safe. In one of the possible ends Alice is killed and she is left dying by heartless twins who remark how they are bored and ready to go play at the park and Alice’s life ebbs away as she wishes for the twins to return not the present ones who are walking away but the ones that she loves and misses.  It continues from that point where the twins realize they miss her and then Alice wakes up and is meeting the twins for the first time and they are all crying and they don’t know why as this is their first meeting.  The best part is when there is a possible fight the twins look to Alice and say we won’t let you down this time, and wonder why they said that.  The way it is written and drawn just pulls at the heart strings and makes me love the book all the more.

 

Over all, I would give this book a 5 pages out of 5  particularly if you are an Alice Fan like I am.  I would try to rank it for those who are not fans but I don’t think I can.  It is hard to say where this would rank for a person who doesn’t enjoy the series like I do.

Book Review – Postcards From Camp

TITLE: Postcards From Camp

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Simms Taback

FORMAT: Hardcover

PUBLISHED: 2011

Postcards From Camp is a story told entirely through the correspondence between Michael and his dad.

The book starts with Michael sending home a postcard about how his counselor is an alien or worse and his father must immediately get him, lest he die.  HALP!  Of course, his father doesn’t, instead he sends an encouraging word.  Through the letters, Good Ol’ Dad ends up talking Michael into staying, and, well, I’m sure you figure out that he ends up enjoying himself by the end of it.

When I saw this, I had to pick it up.  I love Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine books, and this has a similar presentation.  I like that the postcards from the kid look like a little kid did them, and the stuff from the father is typed and formal and proper.  It’s a perfect juxtaposition of the two.  [Also, that last sentence is totally true, but I seriously only put it in the review so I could write juxtaposition legitimately.  Sorry.]

Anyway, I think the book is adorable.   It’s a great book for a kid about to go to camp or somebody who really likes postcards or whatever like I do.  I think it’s totally worth the read.  5/5.

Writer Wednesday – The Hobbit (companion)

THE HOBBIT: An unexpected journey: visual companion

JUDE FISHER (with JRR Tolkien and Martin Freeman)

Hardback 2012

This is a cool book.  I checked it out just prior to doing a Marathon of all three Hobbit movies (that’s 9 hours in a theatre, for those who don’t want to count it out on their own), because I wanted a little bit of a refresher.  And I think the book is awesome.

For starters, I’m a visual person and I have issues with names, so this really helped me.  When you have several characters with similar names, it’s difficult for me to sometimes name them.  But when I can look at the costume and get an understanding of their ear horns or the braids in their beards or whatever, it makes a big difference for me.

The book talks about how they did the visuals for everything from costume to entire cities.  So if you’re creative or a detail person, you’re going to like that.

With that said, the book was done in 2012, so they talked a lot about the first Hobbit movie and not so much about numbers two and three.  And there were a lot of illustrations in the book that I would have liked to see a bit larger.   It’s still pretty, don’t get me wrong, and pretty interesting, too, but I think for a visual book it lost a little now and then.

So my rating.  They still could have done more detail and I was a little underwhelmed with a couple things, but the book was a wealth of knowledge that somebody like me needed.  But I think this book plays to a very specific demographic, so you’re either going to love it or hate it.  And because of all of that, I’m going to give it a 4/5.  Look at it, but don’t buy it unless you’ve built yourself a Hobbit Hole to live in.

Book Review – 101 Celtic Knotwork Designs

Title – 101 Celtic Knotwork Designs
Author* – David Courtney
Format – Paperback
Published – 2004

So, several of my friends have taken to drawing doodles and knotwork and whatever else, so when I stumbled upon this little book, I thought I’d grab it and get some inspiration.  Then I realized a few things about it, and, well…

For starters, the book is small (like four or five inches square) and fat.  On one side, it has a black and white line drawing of the knotwork in question.  On the opposite, the image in color.  And there’s a small caption.

When I first picked this up, I thought that it was cool and that it would actually make an awesome coloring book if they made it larger.  I mean, how cool to put your own designs in the empty knot frames?  I actually checked it from the library with the intention of copying a few favorite pages just to do that.  And then I got it home.  I realized there were captions on the pages and the knotworks in question were all taken from antiquities.

And then I was just incredibly sad about this book.  You see, if you’re going to tell me that it’s a knotwork that was carved in a sixth century something or other, I want to *see* the sixth century something or other it’s from.  And I think that once you realize that that has been taken from you, it takes it from a cute little art book to a sad book of what could have been.

I hate to do this to a book that had such promise, but… I think the book suffered from an identity crisis.  If it had been a true art book or made larger into a coloring book, I would have been happy.  But I think that this doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be.  So, I’m going to give it a 2/5 pages.  If you come across it somewhere and you can flip through it there, go for it.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

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