The Best Books Over The Net

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wolves of the Calla: The Dark Tower

About this Book
"Time is a face on the water," stretching and contorting reality as gunslingers Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and their talking pet "billy-bumbler" Oy continue their quest to prevent the destruction of the Dark Tower and, consequently, save all worlds from Chaos and the Crimson King's evil, red-eyed glare. Roland-the primary hero of King's epic tale, the first volume of which appeared in 1982-and company momentarily fall off the "Path of The Beam" to help the residents of Calla Bryn Sturgis, a farm town. But as Dark Tower fans know, everything follows The Beam, so what looks like a detour may really serve the will of "ka" (destiny). Roland and his posse learn that every 20-odd years the "Wolves" kidnap one child from each set of the Calla's twins, bring them to the Tower and, weeks later, send them back mentally and physically impaired. Meanwhile, back in 1977 New York City (the alternate world of Roland's surrogate son, Jake), bookstore owner Calvin Tower is being threatened by a group of thugs (readers will recognize them from The Drawing of the Three, 1987) to sell them a vacant lot in midtown Manhattan. In the lot stands a rose, or rather the Rose, which is our world's manifestation of the Dark Tower. With the help of the Old Fella (also known to `Salem's Lot readers as Father Callahan), the gunslingers must devise a plan against evil in both worlds. The task, however, is further complicated as Roland and his gang start noticing behavioral changes in wheelchair-bound, recovered schizophrenic Susannah.As the players near the Tower, readers will keep finding exciting ties between the Dark Tower universe and King's other books, with links to Black House, Insomnia, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand, `Salem's Lot and Hearts in Atlantis. The high suspense and extensive character development here (especially concerning Jake's coming-of-age), plus the enormity of King's ever-expanding universe, will surely keep his "Constant Readers" in awe.

Book Review
First, if you are a true fan of the King and this series, don't read the other reviews-- they are plot spoilers written by people who like to blast popular storytellers for not delivering the second coming of Jesus Christ (The Man Jesus, too) everytime they publish a book or screen a film. A mediocre Stephen King story is still 1000 times the story of what passes for a bestseller these days. And 'Wolves' is no mediocre King tale. It's... well, it's not Wizard and Glass (my favorite in the series, for the romance, the backstory, and the raw emotional ride of the build up and payoff), but it's not like any of the others, either. It is its own, and that is as it should be. After finishing Wolves of the Calla, I struggled to form a definite opinion and I will offer none here. Except to say that what I have always loved about the King's books are the combinations of horror, humanity, and humor; the utter surprise of direction each journey takes, especially in this series; and the comfort of listening to a storyteller who is the voice of the magic story-telling wizard of an uncle you always wish you had but never did...that's all here too. And lastly, a comment about the self-referential moments that some of the other "reviewers" are complaining about... I think what He (King)'s suggesting here is not nearly as self-centered as it first reads, and that these King-ish revelations are part of is actually a fairly logical course of events, especially when one considers that the Dark Tower is the nexus of EVERYTHING-- all realites, all times, all universes. Constant Readers will recall that the King has stated, many times, that he believes all stories are real somewhere, that "fiction is the truth inside the lie," and that the Dark Tower series is his very own version of Roland's Dark Tower. Hat's off to the Dickens of our time. May he end it with all the risk and reward he has delivered thus far.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Johnny The Homicidal Maniac: Director's Cut

Book Description
Mayhem and violence rule in this collection of issues one through seven of Jhonen Vasquez's Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, as well as material seen before only in Carpe Noctem magazine. Dark and disturbingly funny, JTHM follows the adventures of Johnny (you can call him Nny), who lives with a pair of styrofoam doughboys that encourage his madness, a wall that constantly needs a fresh coat of blood, and--oh, yeah--his victims in various states of torture. Join Nny as he frightens the little boy next door (Todd, known to fans of Vasquez's work as Squee), thirsts for Cherry Brain Freezies, attempts suicide, draws Happy Noodle Boy, and tries to uncover the meaning of his homicidal existence.

Insanity and Murder are Funn
Well actually, they really aren't, but after reading JTHM you might think they are. Jhonen Vasquez has an amazing talent; he is capable of making the most disturbing things laugh-out-loud hilarious. For this I wish to give JTHM Director's Cut a 5/5, but I cannot. But before I explain why, let me attempt to explain the meaning behind Jhonen's madness. Naturally, this is merely _my_ interpretation of his work.

JTHM is an attack (and a very violent one at that) on normalcy through the use of satire and parody with disturbing, dark themes. Due to the dark themes and disturbing content, this work could be labeled as "gothic" (and often is), but that would be rather insulting. Ironically, "goths" tend to adore the disturbing and the dark simply because it is not "normal," but they end up carving a very specific mold of normalcy out for their own clique. "If you don't fit a certain image, you're not goth and you're not one of US," a goth might say. JTHM is not only an attack on what MOST of us would consider normal, but also an attack on what GOTHS consider normal. It is an attack on all those arrogant people out there who deliberately exclude others because they don't fit in with their own definition of what normal is.

This theme pervades the entire series, from when Johnny is brutally torturing bullies for making fun of him for what he wears, to the little comments JV sometimes scratches in at the corners of his panels. But, it is not JV's attack on normalcy that is the most interesting aspect of JTHM, it is the contradictions. On the one hand, much of this comic book is rather demented and disgusting, but at the same time the book is hilarious--pulling the reader in two different directions at once. Also, sometimes there are comic strips that are completely pointless and filled with excessive (and unnecessary) violence, while there are others that have Johnny going on thought-provoking philosophical ramblings. This tension from pulling the reader back and forth (between violence and humor, and between pointlessness and meaning) is so instense that if you try to read too much at once you'll either sweat excessively, vomit profusely, or pass out from lack of oxygen because you're laughing so hard (or a combination of all three). I suggest reading in small dosages, you've been warned :)

This actually brings me to one of my only complaints. The JTHM series once featured "Meanwhiles" which are mini comic strips whose sole purpose is simply a brief, funny intermission between the JTHM series. The lack of meanwhiles lowers the value of the book (since they are really funny). But, the Meanwhiles also served as a means to break up the tension in the Johnny series. Since JTHM is so intense, the random and so often silly nature of the Meanwhile comic strips served as a pleasant deviation, and the lack of these pleasant little breaks means it's much more difficult to read JTHM in longer bursts.

My only other complaint is in the sturdiness of the actual book itself. I've only read through JTHM a few times, but already pages are falling out all over the place. I feel kind of bad negating a star primarily because of this reason (since it is not Jhonen's fault), but pages falling out really does detract from the overall experience.

Despite the lack of Meanwhiles and the overall flimsyness of the book itself, this is a solid purchase. Unless you're too easily offended or puke all over the place at the sight of blood, this graphic novel should not disappoint. Highly recommended!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Hunger Like No Other (The Immortals After Dark Series)

Spotlight Book Review
Ms. Cole's latest effort is "wildly" delicious and entertaining. She has taken the paranormal genre and created her very own legends and lore...filled with ultra entertaining characters.

Emmaline is half vampire and half Valkyrie. She is known in her coven as Emma the timid. Her family is shocked when she decides she wants to travel to Paris alone to find out the truth about her father. While there she is attacked by a handsome, yummy, strong, yummy, scary...oh yes yummy man who scares the stuffing out of her. She is even more shocked to find out that in order to return to Louisiana she will have to help Lachlain MacRieve the leader of a Lykae Clan return to his home in Scotland. She'll do it believing she will be allowed to return home. She has no idea Lachlain is her forever mate and he has no plans on ever letting her get away.

Lachlain has spent the last hundred and fifty years being tortured by the vampire Demestriu. He is slowly going mad and then...he scents his mate. He has been waiting an eternity to find her and he is not going to let her get away now. He is shocked and somewhat disgusted when he finds out his long awaited mate is half vampire. But despite this he can't keep himself from feeling things for the wee little Emma. She fires his blood and he will do what he must to keep her...even if it means to lie to her. Anything to get her home to Scotland where he will be able to keep her safe and protected when he goes to get revenge against Demestriu. But, life doesn't always go according to plan and wooing Emma is just one of those things. Will he be able to keep her safe and with him or will the vampire horde take away the one thing he needs to live?

Lachlain and Emma are wonderfully constructed characters. These two are both strong likeable characters. Their conflict is entertaining as is their way of dealing with what they face. Emma is sassy and quick witted...Lachlain is patient and yummy. This is a great new series and I truly can't wait for the next installment. Ms. Cole has made her mark on the paranormal genre and is an author you need to add to your must read list!

Book Review
Lachlain MacRieve is the King of all Lycans. For hundreds of years he's been waiting for his mate to appear. He knows that he will recognize her the moment he sees her, or scents her. However Lachlain never expects to find his mate is half vampire. Lycans and vampires have been at war for a long time and the King of the Vampires imprisoned and tortured Lachlain for over 100 years. So when Lachlain finally finds his mate, he can't accept the fact that his enemy will be his Queen.

Emmaline's mother, Helen, was a Valkyrie. Before she died, Helen made arrangements to send Emmaline to her coven, with strict instructions to never let the vampires know of Emmaline's existence. On her first trip away from the coven, Emmaline is on a mission to discover information about her parents. She didn't bargain on meeting Lachlain. Before Emmaline knows what's happened, she finds herself captive to what appears to be an out-of-control Lycan.

Lachlain forces Emmaline to travel with him to his clan's home in Scotland, where he is determined that she will accept her position as his mate. The more time they spend together, the more the passion builds between them. But once Emma's coven discovers that Lachlain has taken her, they wage an all out attack to bring her home. And just to make things worse, the vampires have discovered Emmaline's existence and are determined that Emmaline belongs with them. Can Lachlain fight all these opposing forces to keep his mate? As the emotion deepens between them, will Emmaline accept her place as Lachlain's Queen?

A Hunger Like No Other surprised me! I've read Kresley Cole's historicals and certainly enjoyed them but with A Hunger Like No Other she surpasses her previous work. By turns sensual and laugh-out-loud funny, A Hunger Like No Other brings together the best of paranormal romance. Lachlain and Emmaline hooked me from page one. Filled with vampires, lycans, witches, valkyries and wraiths, you never know what's coming from one page to the next. Readers of Angela Knight and Christine Feehan will find what they are looking for here. E-book aficionados who are fans of Shelly Laurentson will definitely find A Hunger Like No Other right up their alley. I anxiously await the next installment from Kresley Cole in what I am sure will be a must-read series.

Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed

NOTE: After I read this book I realized that there was a prequel to this book in the anthology Playing Easy To Get. I read Kresely Cole's story in the anthology and highly recommend that readers also get Playing Easy To Get as they will also find Ms. Cole's addition to the anthology just as enjoyable as A Hunger Like No Other. It will certainly help set up Emma's story and explain away certain comments made by characters. You can't go wrong with these books!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Danse Macabre (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter)

From Publishers Weekly
The uniquely complicated life of Anita Blake, the St. Louis–based necromancer, gets even more complicated when Anita discovers she may be pregnant in the 14th novel in bestseller Hamilton's vampire hunter series (Micah, etc.). Her sexual magic powers require multiple lovers, so there are six potential fathers. One possible dad, werewolf Richard, has trouble understanding that, baby or not, Anita's still a federal marshal who raises the dead and executes vampires. In addition, terrifying, life-threatening obstetrical challenges are involved, since the maybe-mommy has to deal with vampirism and several strains of lycanthropy coursing through her veins. That Anita has no detecting to do may disappoint some fans, but playing hostess to a gathering of North American vampire Masters of the City, ostensibly in town for a performance by a vampiric ballet troupe, keeps her plenty busy. When the vampire ballet takes the stage toward the end, several new plot elements emerge. The very lack of a finale suggests that there's no end in sight for this fabulously imagined series. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Last seen in Incubus Dreams (2004) and the novella Micah (2006), Anita Blake is back and more embroiled in supernatural politics than ever. She is in the market for a new pomme de sang to feed the otherworldly passion known as the ardeur that she and her lovers are subject to, but she has a more pressing problem on her hands when she discovers she might be pregnant. Anita can't imagine how a baby would fit in with her vampiric lifestyle, nor does she know which of her lovers is the father, though she suspects either possessive werewolf Richard or sensual wereleopard Nathaniel. To make matters worse, vampire masters are converging on the city for a massive meeting, and Anita is wary of her role in the gathering. This time Hamilton relies a little too heavily on complex vampire politics, though sex and intrigue abound, and Anita's pregnancy dilemma makes particularly compelling reading. Longtime series fans will enjoy the yarn while probably hoping there will be more action for Anita next time. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Monday, November 06, 2006

Something Interesting about Books


The oral account (word of mouth, tradition, hearsay) is the oldest carrier of messages and stories. When writing systems were invented in ancient civilizations, nearly everything that could be written upon—stone, clay, tree bark, metal sheets—was used for writing. Alphabetic writing emerged in Egypt around 1800 BC and at first the words were not separated from each other (scripta continua) and there was no punctuation. The text could be written from right to left, from left to right or even so that alternate lines must be read in opposite directions (boustrophedon).

Main article: Scroll

Egyptian papyrus showing the god Osiris and the weighing of the heart.

In Ancient Egypt, papyrus (a form of paper made from the stems of the papyrus plant) was used for writing maybe as early as from First Dynasty, but first evidence is from the account books of King Neferirkare Kakai of the Fifth Dynasty (about 2400 BC).[1] Papyrus sheets were glued together to form a scroll. This custom gained widespread popularity in the Hellenistic and Roman world, although we have evidence that tree bark (Latin liber, from there also library) and other materials were also used.[2] According to Herodotus (History 5:58) the Phoenicians brought writing and also papyrus to Greece around tenth or ninth century BC and so the Greek word for papyrus as writing material (biblion) and book (biblos) come from the Phoenician port town Byblos through which most of the papyrus was exported to Greece.[3]

Main article: Codex

Woman holding a book (or wax tablets) in the form of the codex. Wall painting from Pompeii, before 79 AD.

In schools, in accounting and for taking notes wax tablets were the normal writing material. Wax tablets had the advantage of being reusable: the wax could be melted and a new text carved into the wax. The custom of binding several wax tablets together (Roman pugillares) is a possible precursor for modern books (i.e. codex).[4] Also the etymology of the word codex (block of wood) suggest that it may have developed from wooden wax tablets.[5]

As witnessed by the findings in Pompeii papyrus scrolls were still dominant in the first century AD. At the end of the century we have the first written mention of the codex as a form of book from Martial in his Apophoreta CLXXXIV, where he praises its compactness. In the pagan Hellenistic world however, the codex never gained much popularity and only within the Christian community was it popularized and gained widespread use.[6] This gradual change happened during the third and fourth centuries and the reasons for adopting the codex form of the book are several: the codex format is more economical as both sides of the writing material can be used, it is easy to conceal, portable and searchable. It is also possible that the Christian authors distinguished their writings on purpose from the pagan texts which were written normally in the form of scrolls.

In the 7th century Isidore of Seville explains the relation between codex, book and scroll in his Etymologiae (VI.13) as this:
A codex is composed of many books; a book is of one scroll. It is called codex by way of metaphor from the trunks (codex) of trees or vines, as if it were a wooden stock, because it contains in itself a multitude of books, as it were of branches.

Middle Ages

Main article: Manuscript

Folio 14 recto of the 5th century Vergilius Romanus contains an author portrait of Virgil. Note the bookcase (capsa), reading stand and the text written without word spacing in rustic capitals.

The fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D. saw the decline of the culture of ancient Rome. Due to lack of contacts with Egypt the papyrus became difficult to obtain and parchment (what had been used for writing already for centuries) started to be the main writing material.

In Western Roman Empire mainly monasteries carried on the latin writing tradition, because first Cassiodorus in the monastery of Vivarium (established around 540) stressed the importance of copying texts,[7] and later also St. Benedict of Nursia, in his Regula Monachorum (completed around the middle of the 6th century) promoted reading.[8] The Rule of St. Benedict (Ch. XLVIII), which set aside certain times for reading, greatly influenced the monastic culture of the Middle Ages, and is one of the reasons why the clergy were the predominant readers of books. At first the tradition and style of the Roman Empire still dominated and only slowly the peculiar medieval book culture emerged.

Before the invention and adoption of the printing press, almost all books were copied by hand, which made books expensive and comparatively rare. Smaller monasteries had usually only some dozen books, medium sized a couple hundred. By the ninth century larger collections held around 500 volumes and even at the end of the Middle Ages the papal library in Avignon and Paris library of Sorbonne held only around 2000 volumes.[9]

Burgundian scribe (portrait of Jean Miélot, from Miracles de Notre Dame), 15th century. The depiction shows the room's furnishings, the writer's materials, equipment, and activity.

The scriptorium of the monastery was usually located over the chapter house and artificial light was forbidden in fear that it may damage the manuscripts. The bookmaking process was long and labourious. At first the parchment had to be prepared, then the unbound pages were planned and ruled with a blunt tool or lead, after that the text was written by the scribe who usually left blank areas for illustration and rubrication. Only after that the book was bound by the bookbinder.[10]

There were four types of scribes:
Copyists, who dealt with basic production and correspondence
Calligraphers, who dealt in fine book production
Correctors, who collated and compared a finished book with the manuscript from which it had been produced
Rubricators, who painted in the red letters; and Illuminators, who painted illustrations

Already in antiquity there were known different types of ink, usually prepared from soot and gum or later also from gall nuts and iron vitriol. This gave writing the typical brownish black color, but black or brown were not the only colours used. There are texts written in red or even gold, and of course different colours were used for illumination. Sometimes the whole parchment was coloured purple and the text was written on it with gold or silver (eg Codex Argenteus).[11] Irish monks introduced spacing between words in the seventh century. This facilitated reading, as these monks tended to be less familiar with Latin. However the use of spaces between words did not become commonplace before 12th century. It has been argued[12], that the use of spacing between words shows the transition from semi-vocalized reading into silent reading.

The first books used parchment or vellum (calf skin) for the pages. The book covers were made of wood and covered with leather. As dried parchment tends to assume the form before processing, the books were fitted with clasps or straps. During later Middle Ages, when public libraries appeared, books were often chained to a bookshelf or a desk to prevent theft. The so called libri catenati were used up to 18th century.

At first books were copied mostly in monasteries, one at a time. With the rise of universities in the 13th century, the demand for books increased and a new system for copying books appeared. The books were divided into unbound leaves (pecia), which were lent out to different copyists, so the book production speed was considerably increased. The system was maintained by stationers guilds, which were secular, and produced both religious and non-religious material.[13]

Block printing and incunables

A 15th century incunabulum. Notice the blind-tooled cover, corner bosses and clasps for holding the book shut.

In the early 14th century, block printing arrived in Western Europe (the technique had been developed in the East centuries earlier). In block printing, a relief image of an entire page was carved out of blocks of wood. It could then be inked and used to reproduce many copies of that page. Books, as well as playing cards and religious pictures, began to be produced by block printing. Creating an entire book, however, was a painstaking process, requiring a hand-carved block for each page. Also, the wood blocks were not durable and could easily wear out or crack.

The oldest dated book printed with this method is The Diamond Sutra. There is a wood block printed copy in the British Library which, although not the earliest example of block printing, is the earliest example which bears an actual date. It was found in 1907 by the archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein in a walled-up cave near Dunhuang, in northwest China. The colophon, at the inner end, reads: Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i.e. 11th May, CE 868 ].

The Chinese inventor Pi Sheng made movable type of earthenware circa 1045, but we have no surviving examples of his printing. He embedded the characters, face up, in a shallow tray lined with warm wax. He laid a board across them and pressed it down until all the characters were at exactly the same level. When the wax cooled he used his letter tray to print whole pages. Chwe Yun-ui invented the world's first metal movable type printing in 1234AD during Goryo Dynasty in Korea.

It was not until Johann Gutenberg popularized the printing press with metal movable type in the 15th century that books started to be comparatively affordable (although still quite expensive for most people) and more widely available. This upset the status quo, leading to remarks such as "The printing press will allow books to get into the hands of people who have no business reading books." It is estimated that in Europe about 1,000 various books were created per year before the development of the printing press.

Printed books, single sheets and images which were created before the year 1501 in Europe are known as incunabula, sometimes anglicized to incunables.

Main article: Paper

Though papermaking in Europe begun around 11th century, up until the beginning of 16th century vellum and paper were produced congruent to one another, vellum being the more expensive and durable option. Printers or publishers would often issue the same publication on both materials, to cater to more than one market. As was the case with many medieval inventions, paper was first made in China, as early as 200 B.C., and reached Europe through muslim territories. At first made of rags, the industrial revolution changed paper-making practices, allowing for paper to be made out of wood pulp.

Modern world

Left, the spine of a modern bound book with a frayed ribbon bookmark.

With the rise of printing in the fifteenth century, books were published in limited numbers and were quite valuable. The need to protect these precious commodities was evident. One of the earliest references to the use of bookmarks was in 1584 when the Queen's Printer, Christopher Barker, presented Queen Elizabeth I with a fringed silk bookmark. Common bookmarks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were narrow silk ribbons bound into the book at the top of the spine and extended below the lower edge of the page. The first detachable bookmarks began appearing in the 1850's and were made from silk or embroidered fabrics. Not until the 1880's, did paper and other materials become more common.

Steam-powered printing presses became popular in the early 1800s. These machines could print 1,100 sheets per hour, but workers could only set 2,000 letters per hour.

Monotype and linotype presses were introduced in the late 19th century. They could set more than 6,000 letters per hour and an entire line of type at once.

The centuries after the 15th century were thus spent on improving both the printing press and the conditions for freedom of the press through the gradual relaxation of restrictive censorship laws. See also intellectual property, public domain, copyright. In mid-20th century, Europe book production had risen to over 200,000 titles per year.

Structure of books
Main article: Book design

Depending on a book's purpose or type (e.g. Encyclopedia, Dictionary, Textbook, Monograph), its structure varies, but some common structural parts of a book usually are:
Book cover (hard or soft, shows title and author of book, sometimes with illustration)
Title page (shows title and author, often with small illustration or icon)
Metrics page
Dedication (may or may not be included)
Table of contents
Text of contents of the book

Conservation issues

In the early-19th century, papers made from pulp (cellulose, wood) were introduced because it was cheaper than cloth-based papers (linen or abaca). Pulp based paper made cheap novels, cheap school text books and cheap books of all kinds available to the general public. This paved the way for huge leaps in the rate of literacy in industrialised nations and eased the spread of information during the Second Industrial Revolution.

However, this pulp paper contained acid that causes a sort of slow fires that eventually destroys the paper from within. Earlier techniques for making paper used limestone rollers which neutralized the acid in the pulp. Libraries today have to consider mass deacidification of their older collections. Books printed between 1850 and 1950 are at risk; more recent books are often printed on acid-free or alkaline paper.

The proper care of books takes into account the possibility of chemical changes to the cover and text. Books are best stored in reduced lighting, definitely out of direct sunlight, at cool temperatures, and at moderate humidity. Books, especially heavy ones, need the support of surrounding volumes to maintain their shape. It is desirable for that reason to group books by size.

Collections of books

Maintaining a library used to be the privilege of princes, the wealthy, monasteries and other religious institutions, and universities. The growth of a public library system in the United States started in the late 19th century and was much helped by donations from Andrew Carnegie. This reflected classes in a society: The poor or the middle class had to access most books through a public library or by other means while the rich could afford to have a private library built in their homes.

A shelf full of Terry Pratchett novels.

The advent of paperback books in the 20th century led to an explosion of popular publishing. Paperback books made owning books affordable for many people. Paperback books often included works from genres that had previously been published mostly in pulp magazines. As a result of the low cost of such books and the spread of bookstores filled with them (in addition to the creation of a smaller market of extremely cheap used paperbacks) owning a private library ceased to be a status symbol for the rich.

While a small collection of books, or one to be used by a small number of people, can be stored in any way convenient to the owners, including a standard bookcase, a large or public collection requires a catalogue and some means of consulting it. Often codes or other marks have to be added to the books to speed the process of relating them to the catalogue and their correct shelf position. Where these identify a volume uniquely, they are referred to as "call numbers". In large libraries this call number is usually based on a Library classification system. The call number is placed inside the book and on the spine of the book, normally a short distance before the bottom, in accordance with institutional or national standards such as ANSI/NISO Z39.41 - 1997. This short (7 pages) standard also establishes the correct way to place information (such as the title or the name of the author) on book spines and on "shelvable" book-like objects such as containers for DVDs, video tapes and software.

In library and booksellers' catalogues, it is common to include an abbreviation such as "Crown 8vo" to indicate the paper size from which the book is made.

When rows of books are lined on a bookshelf, bookends are sometimes needed to keep them from slanting.

Keeping track of books

ISBN number with barcode.

One of the earliest and most widely known systems of cataloguing books is the Dewey Decimal System. This system has fallen out of use in some places, mainly because of a Eurocentric bias and other difficulties applying the system to modern libraries. However, it is still used by most public libraries in America. Another popular classification system is the Library of Congress system, which is more popular in university libraries.

For the entire 20th century most librarians concerned with offering proper library services to the public (or a smaller subset such as students) worried about keeping track of the books being added yearly to the Gutenberg Galaxy. Through a global society called the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) they devised a series of tools such as the International Standard Book Description or ISBD.

Besides, each book is specified by an International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, which is unique to every edition of every book produced by participating publishers, world wide. It is managed by the ISBN Society. It has four parts. The first part is the country code, the second the publisher code, and the third the title code. The last part is a checksum or a check digit and can take values from 0–9 and X (10). The EAN Barcodes numbers for books are derived from the ISBN by prefixing 978, for Bookland and calculating a new check digit.

Many government publishers, in industrial countries as well as in developing countries, do not participate fully in the ISBN system. They often produce books which do not have ISBNs. In certain industrialized countries large classes of commercial books, such as novels, textbooks and other non-fiction books, are nearly always given ISBNs by publishers, thus giving the illusion to many customers that the ISBN is an international and complete system, with no exceptions.

Transition to digital format

The term e-book (electronic book) in the broad sense is an amount of information like a conventional book, but in digital form. It is made available through internet, CD-ROM, etc. In the popular press the term e-Book sometimes refers to a device such as the Sony Librie EBR-1000EP, which is meant to read the digital form and present it in a human readable form.

Throughout the 20th century, libraries have faced an ever-increasing rate of publishing, sometimes called an information explosion. The advent of electronic publishing and the Internet means that much new information is not printed in paper books, but is made available online through a digital library, on CD-ROM, or in the form of e-books.

On the other hand, though books are nowadays produced using a digital version of the content, for most books such a version is not available to the public (i.e. neither in the library nor on the Internet), and there is no decline in the rate of paper publishing. There is an effort, however, to convert books that are in the public domain into a digital medium for unlimited redistribution and infinite availability. The effort is spearheaded by Project Gutenberg combined with Distributed Proofreaders.

There have also been new developments in the process of publishing books. Technologies such as print on demand have made it easier for less known authors to make their work available to a larger audience.

The Walking Dead Volume 5: The Best Defense (Walking Dead)

Book Description
As the survivors settle into their prison home something has drawn them out into the open... out of the prison... out of their sanctuary. This is a major turning point for the overall story of The Walking Dead, setting the stage for years to come.

The fifth volume in Image's The Walking Dead zombie series has finally been released after a very long delay. Does the story collected within this volume worth the long wait for fans of the books? I would say with a definitive yes that it is and was worth the wait. The Best Defense brings the story back to its horrific roots while keeping enough of the emotional travails of Rick and his band of survivors.

This graphic novel collects issues 25 through 30. Kirkman starts the story back up again in what seemed like just a few days since the shocking revelation of the last collection. There's still tension amongst the survivors living inside the prison. Relationships between characters are explored but not to the point that the story heads down into soap opera level. These are individuals who have been pushed close to the breaking point and clutching at whatever hope and love available to them even if it means forming some very unorthodox relationships. But don't that give you the impression that The Best Defense once again becomes too heavily-invested in telling a story about the survivors feelings.

This collection starts up a new story-arc where the survivors have been given a new impetus to venture out of the safe confines of their prison home. I don't want to spoil it for those who still haven't had a chance to read this brand new story-arc, but let's just say that something falls out of the sky that forces Rick, Glenn and Michonne to try out new riot police armor and gear to venture out into the wild. What they find is shocking to say the least. Survivors other than themselves are found, but their similarities end at that word. Where Rick and his group have tried to create a stable and ideal place to live at, despite the differences between some of the characters, this new band of survivors have continued to exist due to the harsh, if not sadistic rule of their self-appointed survivor: The Governor.

The Governor becomes the newest danger to Rick and his group. It's difficult to fully villify this character due to his ability to keep his own group alive. His actions easily makes him out to be the major villain in this story, but he also has kept his own people alive. Could Rick have turned out the same if he was pushed to the point of no return? It's hard to say, but the difference between Rick and The Governor doesn't seem far off.

The Best Defense marks a return to what makes The Walking Dead one of the best written comics today. Robert Kirkman seem to have gotten all the angst out of his system and has found the balance between the horror and the emotional aspect of the story once again. The Best Defense collection doesn't end easily due to a major cliffhanger hanging over every reader's head, but it's a cliffhanger that will certainly get its fans eagerly awaiting for the next collection to be collated and published.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bret Easton Ellis: American Psycho

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Book Review
From Library Journal
This review is based on the galley issued by Ellis's original publisher, Simon & Schuster, before it cancelled the book. The book is now going through the editing process at Vintage. There may be some changes in the final version. The indignant attacks on Ellis's third novel (see News, p. 17; Editorial, p. 6) will make it difficult for most readers to judge it objectively. Although the book contains horrifying scenes, they must be read in the context of the book as a whole; the horror does not lie in the novel itself, but in the society it reflects. In the first third of the book, Pat Bateman, a 26-year-old who works on Wall Street, describes his designer lifestyle in excruciating detail. This is a world in which the elegance of a business card evokes more emotional response than the murder of a child. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, Bateman calmly and deliberately blinds and stabs a homeless man. From here, the body count builds, as he kills a male acquaintance and sadistically tortures and murders two prostitutes, an old girlfriend, and a child he passes in the zoo. The recital of the brutalization is made even more horrible by the first-person narrator's delivery: flat, matter-of-fact, as impersonal as a car parts catalog. The author has carefully constructed the work so that the reader has no way to understand this killer's motivations, making it even more frightening. If these acts cannot be explained, there is no hope of protection from such random, senseless crimes. This book is not pleasure reading, but neither is it pornography. It is a serious novel that comments on a society that has become inured to suffering. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/90 and 12/90.
- Nora Rawlinson, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description
Now a major motion picture from Lion's Gate Films starring Christian Bale (Metroland), Chloe Sevigny (The Last Days of Disco), Jared Leto (My So Called Life), and Reese Witherspoon (Cruel Intentions), and directed by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol).

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Eve Bunting: Scary, Scary Halloween

Editorial Reviews
Book review From Publishers Weekly
Two green eyes shine in the night sky and someone whispers, "I peer outside, there's something there/ that makes me shiver, spikes my hair./ It must be Halloween." As the unnamed narrator looks on, a skeleton, a ghost, a vampire, a werewolf, witches, goblins, gremlins, a devil and a mummy pass by. The monsters are in fact children dressed up in Halloween costumes, but Brett's pictures are deliciously scary. They strike a perfect balance between the children's costumes and their imaginary personae, drawing readers into a make-believe world. When the children go indoors, the narrator and his friendsa gang of adventurous pussycatsstalk the streets to prowl till dawn. Luminescent colors glow eerily in the darkened neighborhood; this holiday poem possesses all the atmosphere of the spookiest Halloween.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book review From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3 A Halloween offering that is sure to be snatched up year-round by children on the prowl for scary books. The rhymes are full of repetitions that give the text the quality of a chant. These marching rhythms advance a band of Halloween creatures along a winding country road. Bunting's strong verbs and Brett's clean, clear line drawings and vivid palette bring a devil, skeleton, ghost, etc., to life, and the effect is exciting but not in the least sinister or fear-inspiring. (Bunting's language does become a bit turgid at points, however.) The creatures are a troupe of spirited trick-or-treaters, but this is not known by the mother cat who tells story. Nor are readers aware of the identity of the narrator at the beginning. But as the parade progresses, and three more little eyes appear in the dark, readers begin to get a sense of those eyes warily watching the spectacle from a safe distance. Brett creates skillful shifts in visual perspective and effectively interprets the book's final turnabout: the tiny eyes, mere points of light, clustered under a house, are hidden so long as the trick-or-treaters are about. But when all is quiet, they suddenly blossom into cats that form their own parade and claim Halloween, just as the rising golden harvest moon at the book's beginning blossoms into a milky moon above them. Carefully planned and executed, illustrations and text nicely unified, this is well designed for group use and a fine introduction to Halloween story programs. Susan Powers, Berkeley Carroll Street School, Brooklyn
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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