Far Arden

June 29, 2009

FA_cover_web2Kevin Cannon

Top Shelf Productions, 2009

400 pages, Graphic novel/Adventure

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

I first started reading Kevin Cannon’s graphic novel Far Arden while about halfway through another book. I’m usually pretty good at reading two books at once, alternating whimsically as my mood dictates. I could not do that with Far Arden. Ten pages in and I set it aside and finished the other book.  Far Arden was already a fascinating adventure story that I wanted to immerse myself in completely and without distraction.

The reader will benefit from knowing the story of how this book was produced: Cannon was challenged to draw one 24-hour comic (24 pages drawn and completed in 24 hours) each month for an entire year. While the process didn’t quite go exactly as planned,  the result if Far Arden, an epic adventure story set in the Canadian Arctic.

Enter the hero, Army Shanks. Imagine Indiana Jones reincarnated as a renegade Arctic pirate who looks like John Lennon but dresses like the guys from Whale Wars. It is Shanks’ mission in life to discover the tropical utopia of Far Arden but before he gets there he must navigate through a delightful gang of eccentric characters that include a Russian businessman, a burly man in chains and a circus warden, a pair of nosey journalism students and a little Short Round who wears a fox pelt while searching for his father’s killer. Sound original? You bet!

The story is great fun and it moves rather quickly. Every time I finished a chapter, I promised to read just one more and ended up pressing on because the story was just so damn interesting. Shanks doesn’t put up with any BS and watching him fight, trick and luck his way through a series of amusing obstacles makes you root for him more and more.

The artwork is minimal yet striking which works to the story’s advantage. The action scenes are highlighted with hilarious and very straightforward sounds and special effects such as “KICK OPEN!” “DRAG OUTSIDE” and “MID-AIR GROIN GRINDER!” that make you chuckle and nod with appreciation.

Kevin Cannon has created and populated a world of his own. Cannon’s imagination transcends any Arctic legends of  mystical lands and creates its own magic. Filled with humor, adventure, surprises and a villain that reminds you of Count Rugen, the mad scientist with the death machine from The Princess Bride, Far Arden has everything I love in a story.

You can read more about Far Arden here.

…Or check out a few pages here…(click the Next button at the bottom)

…or buy it from Amazon, Top Shelf, or Powell’s Books.

Reviewed by Mark McGinty, June 2009

Time for a Shameless Plug

June 23, 2009


I haven’t tooted my own horn in a few days so after some time away from promoting my novel ELVIS AND THE BLUE MOON CONSPIRACY the book has experienced a revival the last few weeks as I’ve been blogging and promoting on sites like Facebook.

A few new reviews have recently gone up on amazon….the book is getting praised for its outrageousness, which means these reviewers are right on the money! Here’s what they are saying…

“Author Mark McGinty deftly rewrites history. I must tell you Mr. McGinty treated [Elvis] with respect…he was one of the most polite, giving celebrities ever. Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy also brings forth conspiracy theories about the moon landing, deaths of celebrities and politicians that will make you laugh, and make you think. Mark McGinty is a fun writer, and you will enjoy every page of Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy.

I just finished reading this book and was so highly entertained, I’m telling everyone about it. Being an avid reader, I’m selective about the kinds of books I read. If it doesn’t capture my attention in the first few pages, I’ll typically put it down. This book was outrageously funny with enough real-life factual data to make it seem almost plausible. Kudos to the author’s amazing imagination and creation of such rich characters. A must read for anyone looking for a good laugh!”

“Elvis, the first man to set foot on the moon? You must read this well-crafted book to find out! Mark McGinty’s humorous take on the first moon landing of Apollo 11 takes us through the preparation, the actual space trip, and the never-to-be-forgotten first step on that yellow orb in the sky! Will they be able to procure the real Elvis Presley to perform on the moon? Will Dani Mitchell, the young ambitious journalist thwart the mission?

This is a must-read and highly recommended for all you space buffs who love a lot of humor tossed in. Good job, Mr. McGinty! I want to read it again…”

You can check it out on amazon or read more about ELVIS AND THE BLUE MOON CONSPIRACY including additional reviews, excerpts and general zaniness on the book’s blog here.

Extend your shelf life…with contests

June 22, 2009

Cheryl Kaye Tardif has a cool little article on Sandy Nathan’s blog with ideas on how she’s used contests to promote her work – specifically by creating interaction with her readers. Some pretty unique ideas here that I may use. I like the one where your readers name a character in your next novel. Cool!

What classifies as romance?

June 21, 2009

So I’ve been catching some flack recently about my decision to not review romance novels on The Boogle. This is a personal choice. Due to the amount of time I have to read and review books, and the amount of submissions I receive, I have the luxury of being selective about what I review.

Just to be fair, there are other books I probably will decide not to review too…It’s not that I don’t enjoy these kinds of books, or dismiss them as crap, but when presented with a textbook vs. an adventure story, the adventure story will win every time. So here is a list of genres that are pretty low on my list of preferences…

  • Textbooks
  • Books titled: How to  ____________
  • Medical/addiction/self-help
  • Poetry
  • Fairy Tales
  • Scrapbooks
  • Blank notebook pages

So the question posed to me was: what if an adventure book is filled with romance? Or a thriller has romantic elements? At what point will you classify something as romance? My first novel ELVIS AND THE BLUE MOON CONSPIRACY had a love story but the book is anything but romance. THE GODFATHER addressed a man’s romantic relationship with two women, following Michael as he courts Apollonia and Kay and eventually marries them both (not at the same time, silly). Could that be classified as romance?

Here is a list of the Top 100 Romance Novels from The Romance Reader to help you get started….

What do you think?

T-Minus The Race to the Moon

June 21, 2009

tminus_sidebarJim Ottaviani

Illustrated by Zander and Kevin Cannon

Aladdin, 2009

128 Pages, Non-fiction/History/Graphic novel

5 out of 5 stars

As we “deet deet deet” into the first panel like a capsule descending from outer space, we enter the remarkable world of a space race told comic book style. I’ve always been a fan of a storyteller who lights a fuse right away. Give us a ticking bomb, a deadline, a finite amount of time in which our hero must succeed or face annihilation: Run Lola Run and Back to the Future did it perfectly and we all remember the catastrophic Y2K computer bug that nearly wiped out the human race and unraveled the fabric of the space-time continuum. Thankfully Dick Clark was there to bring us home in the nick of time.

In the case of T-Minus, the countdown is the premise of the book and while the reader knows that the race will be won when the clock expires, the book’s characters are racing against a different deadline: JFK’s challenge to put a man on the moon and return him to earth by the end of the decade.

So brings T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, a compelling behind-the-scenes story of the space race filled with software glitches, landing bags that deploy prematurely, loose heat shields and a pair of cosmonauts forced to hide in their downed capsule while Siberian wolves threaten them outside. Told with parallel stories of the United States vs. the Soviet Union, with characters that come and go as the years pass, the artwork pulls you into the world of scientists and space travelers and makes you feel what they actually felt. The character introductions are subtle. Every few pages I say to myself “Oh, there’s John Glenn…” or “Hey, that’s Yuri Gagarin.” They are woven in seamlessly and their allegiance is discernable by a clever variance in speech bubble font (the Russkies speak their words with a backwards И). And it’s nice to see that the Soviets aren’t portrayed as evil, mindless thugs (Indy 4?) but competent, brilliant scientists and explorers…that is, until they get desperate.

The crisp artwork is filled with first-rate detail, with tiny lifelike tools, soldiers marching to battle and endless knobs, buttons and switches. Most captivating is the iconic imagery of the space missions, especially the highlights drawn into the margins which are reminiscent of the one-shot Sergio Aragonés cartoons from Mad Magazine.

As I sit and write this on a day when six humans in space are awaiting the arrival of seven more, the most ever together in space at one time, I realize what a big deal it was to have two men in space at once, how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. Best part of the book: Yuri Gagarin’s landing in the middle of a field and his greeting to two startled spectators who happen to be nearby.

As a space buff I thought this was a terrific book that elaborates on a great story that we all know. Meant to educate children ages 9-12 it will provide certain enjoyment for adults (I finally learned what woomera means). This is best exemplified by an astronaut who defies his orders and absolutely refuses to go to bed while orbiting the moon because he is too busy taking pictures. Can you blame him? I’d fight to stay awake too!

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon is available on paperback.

Don’t forget to check out Big Time Attic!

Reviewed by Mark McGinty, June 2009

Page One Fiction Contest Winner: Daniel Annechino

June 18, 2009


Please congratulate the winner of The Boogle’s Page One Fiction Contest….

Daniel M. Annechino’s thriller

They Never Die Quietly

Here is a press release with some more information about the book:

New Thriller Characterizes Battle Between Good and Evil

They Never Die Quietly by D. M. Annechino is a complex mystery thriller that explores the mind of a serial killer and digs deep into the dubious world of  homicide investigation

SAN DIEGO – They Never Die Quietly by D. M. Annechino seeks not only to examine the conflict between human evil and human integrity through the pursuit of a serial killer, but the novel delves into a female detective’s desire to define herself as a competent homicide investigator in a world dominated by chauvinistic men.

San Diego homicide detective Sami Rizzo is assigned to investigate brutal serial killings in the city reportedly committed by Simon, an intelligent, deceptively charming fanatic. Simon believes God has granted him the authority to purify his unholy victims through a ritual that ends in a gruesome crucifixion. Rizzo, determined to outdo her male colleagues, makes a fatal mistake and becomes Simon’s next captive. Now she must outwit Simon to save her life and demonstrate that in the end, good does prevail over evil.

Paula Brandes, guest reviewer for Mysterious Galaxy Books, states “this fast-paced and amazing story twists through the labyrinth of evil like a Ferrari. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time!”

“I have always been fascinated with serial killers – what motivates them, what force of evil drives them,” says Annechino. “After researching several books that explore the mind of the serial killer, I found myself intrigued.” He’s currently working on a follow-up novel about another serial killer.

Annechino, according to Joan West from Bennett & West Literary Agency, “has mastered the art of suspenseful storytelling and crafted a novel that vividly contrasts good and evil.” West goes on to say, “They Never Die Quietly grabs you from the first sentence and keeps you engaged to the last word.”

For more information or to request a free review copy, members of the press can contact the author at dma381@yahoo.com. They Never Die Quietly is available for sale online at Amazon.com, BookSurge.com and through additional wholesale and retail channels worldwide.

About the Author

D. M. Annechino’s colorful background includes operating a book editing business called ABC Editing and working in the automobile business for 18 years (eight as a general manager). He currently works as an account executive for a major California utility company and promotes energy efficiency programs. In addition to They Never Die Quietly, Annechino wrote the nonfiction book How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money.


D. M. Annechino

Cell Phone:      (858) 200-5321

Office:                         (858) 636-3935

E-mail:             dma381@yahoo.com

And what would a Page One Fiction Contest be if we didn’t share Page One of They Never Die Quietly…..

I lie naked on the makeshift crucifix. Along the underside of my arms, down my spine, against the back of my thighs, I can feel splinters from the rough-sawn wood prickling my tender skin. My arms and ankles are bound to the crucifix with clothesline. I try to inhale a breath of the damp air, but my lungs feel oppressed, as if a heavy weight lay on my chest. My heart pounds against my ribs. He straddles my shivering body. My captor. A monster like no other. For an instant his wide-open eyes glance at my breasts. I cringe at the thought of him touching me. Then, he studies my face, searching for something; I don’t know what.  Perhaps he wishes to taste my fear, sip it like fine wine. I try to convince myself that this is a nightmare, that all I know about life and death and reality will exist when I awaken. But I will not awaken. I look into his eyes and see not a man, but my executioner. I no longer sob, or ask for mercy. My plea only serves to inspire and excite him. And I will not give him that satisfaction.

So this is how I will die.

I turn my head slightly and see my daughter lying on the bed. She sleeps peacefully, unaware that she will never see me again.

Congratulations again Daniel on writing an award winning book! Look for a review of They Never Die Quietly on The Boogle in the next few weeks….Thanks again to our judges and everyone who submitted to The Boogle’s Page One Contest – we had a great time reading all of your submissions!!

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon

June 18, 2009

Okay, I know this isn’t consistent with the books that get reviewed on The Boog – it was published by Aladdin (a Simon & Schuster imprint) but this book is really cool, plus I know these guys. It’s a graphic novel about the space race, aimed and kids 9-12; I’m reading it now and it’s very well done. If you’ve read Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy you know I’m a space buff, so I’m biased. Plus the illustrators fed me wine and snacks at their release party which, in my world, will get you everywhere…


T-Minus: The Race to the Moon

Jim Ottaviani

Illustrated by Zander and Kevin “No Relation” Cannon

Aladdin, 2009

128 Pages, Non-fiction/History/Graphic Novel


Look for a Boogle review later this week….