Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Patrick Rothfuss, More Than an Epic Fantasy Writer

Courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
Although Patrick Rothfuss writes fantasy novels, his epics have the feeling of historical novels. They are written in such a way that you can truly believe the characters, their culture and language, their tools, and that the events in the stories really happened.

His first novel, The Name of the Wind, was written in 2007. It is the first of a three volume series called the The Kingkiller Chronicles. The series is told as a 3 day autobiography dictated from Kvothe to The Chronicler, Devan Lochees. There are some present-day events in the story tying into an unresolved evil from the past that interrupts the transcriptions.

Kvothe was the only survivor of a gypsy-like troupe who is murdered by a cruel unseen people. When he comes back to camp and sees his family murdered, he vows to find the killers.  Kvothe's father taught him to be a gifted fiddle player which helps to lift him out of poverty. After 3 years living on the streets, he finally garners enough money and knowledge to earn him a spot in the University where he will learn history, medicine, languages, alchemy, and most importantly, various forms of magic. Kvothe is a quick learner and becomes skilled at most anything he touches. Even though he is a larger than life character, Kvothe is likable and not arrogant, unlike his nemesis, Ambrose.

Reading the first novel will make you thirst for the second.  Those who read The Name of the Wind when it first came out had to wait 4 years for Wise Man's Fear. Day 2 of the Kingkiller Chronicles is written as skillfully as Day 1. Rothfuss' attention to detail (hence 722 pages for Day 1 and 1120 pages for Day 2) can at times be a drudge, but it is never long before you are drawn back into the amazing and fantastic world he has created.

Day 3 of the Kingkiller Chronicles has not yet been released. The working title is The Doors of Stone and has no projected completion date as of this blog post. In the interim, Rothfuss is working on 2 novellas and a novel about characters from the Kingkiller Chronicles. One of the novellas was released October of 2014. The Slow Regard of Silent Things brings us into the world of Auri who lives among the dark, ancient passageways underneath The University and who Kvothe befriends at night on a hidden rooftop.

Even if you are not a reader of fantasy novels, Patrick Rothfuss' stories are highly entertaining and sure to capture and hold your attention. They are so realistic you will believe he is writing about a place and time that really existed.  Here are the books to-date on Amazon:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robert Sabuda and Pop-Up Books

Robert Sabuda is a gifted artist who has experimented with many forms of illustration. His most notable body of work centers around pop-up books. His mastery of pop-ups and movable paper is remarkable.

Sabuda, born in 1965, is a native of Michigan who attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, which is known for architecture, interior design, and industrial design fields of study. Sabuda gained recognition for his pop-up books starting with his first in 1994, The Mummy's Tomb.

The pop-up book themes are geared toward children, but seeing a young child with one of Sabuda's pop-ups will make you cringe in hopes that nothing will be damaged. Everyone can appreciate the beauty of his creations. The detail and his artistry is truly amazing. Typically every page has a primary pop-up and 1 or 2 pop-ups on the side to contribute to the story. His latest pop-up is The Little Mermaid.

It brings the under-the-sea tale to life!

Sabuda's Encyclopedia series is very educational, but please don't let your children abuse them.

We have "Winter's Tale" in our personal collection which we bring out once a year with all our other Christmas decorations.

The pop-up's in this book are all in white except for the last page which includes colored lights that brighten the snowman's house.

We have a few Christmas cards from his collection as well.  I love Robert Sabuda's pop-ups and love to share them with our seasonal visitors.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Fun, New Murder Mystery series by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco

I recently learned that Steve Hockensmith has a new book out. 

The White Magic Five & Dime is a contemporary mystery with a tarot theme and is co-written with Lisa Falco.

While perusing the shelves in a local bookstore some years back, I’d guess 2007, I came across a colorful book with an interesting title, and after reading the blurbs decided to give it a chance. 
Holmes on the Range introduced me to the writing of Steve Hockensmith and to the Amlingmeyer brothers, the central characters of the book, and to the four books that followed. There's a signed first edition of the book on ABE Books.

My wife and I usually have a designated book that we read aloud together – on car trips or when we just feel like reading together.  I enjoyed Holmes on the Range enough that I recommended it to her.  After that, each book in the series became our designated book.  We followed the Amlingmeyer brothers through adventure, drama, close shaves, and laughter in:  On the Wrong Track, The Black Dove, The Crack in the Lens, and The World’s Greatest Sleuth.

If you like a mystery, especially light-hearted with humorous dialog and cliff-hanging situations, you likely will enjoy this series of books.  The Amlingmeyer brothers are cowboys turned sleuths, and a classic pair of brothers they are.  Opposites in most ways, but each with attributes that complement the other’s in their endeavors at sleuthing and fighting their way out of tight situations. They are usually at odds with each other, but always looking out for each other.  As you ride along on their adventures and laugh at their disagreements, you also learn their backgrounds and their family history, and you see the relationship between them evolve.  Good fun, good reads.
There is also a book of short stories titled Dear Mr. Holmes that adds to the background of the brothers as well as some additional adventures.

Steve Hockensmith has been a prolific and diverse writer over the past eight or so years.  In addition to books already noted he has written several zombie-themed novels and co-written a series of quirky novels for middle-grade kids.  Add to that a couple of books of mystery short stories titled, Blarney: 12 Tales of Lies Crime and Mystery and Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime.
The zombie books include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  Dawn of the Dreadfuls which is a prequel to Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a Jane Austin revamp.  Hockensmith followed that with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  Dreadfully Ever After.  He also published Cadaverin Chief:  A Special Report from the Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse.

The middle-grade books were co-written with Bob Pflugfelder and include:  Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle, Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage, and Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove.

I have read only the Amlingmeyer novels and short stories.  The others are outside my normal reading genres, though I am sure Hockensmith’s writing skills would serve them well.  The new mystery novel (The White Magic Five & Dime) is one that I plan to read, and I look forward to meeting some new characters from the source that gave us Big Red and Otto Amlingmeyer.