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….

Timeline of America: Sound Bytes from the Consumer Culture

June 16, 2009

0595843913Floyd M. Orr

iUniverse Inc, 2006

300 Pages, Non-fiction history

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Floyd Orr has succeeded in compiling a complete and completely off-beat history of American pop culture from before the first documented UFO sighting in 1644 to the failure of New Coke in 1985 to the rise of the Dixie Chicks as musical pundits. Timeline of America is not a typical history book – remember those 700-page clunkers that are heavy on war, atrocity and death? – Timeline is a book about the “fun stuff.” It is a celebration of the minutia that has defined our culture; the memorable movies, the power of television advertising, the rise and fall of popular music, sports as a consumable, popular cars, toys, computers and gossip. Somewhere between a non-fiction narrative and a list of dates, Timeline of America is a book like no other, a version of U.S. history told while sitting in the basement of That 70’s Show.

Organized into a series of narrative timelines that cover general history, movies, music, cars, television, sports, toys and “the nerd channel” it can either be read cover to cover (I did that) or used as a reference that allows you to skip to your favorite category or year without concern. It succeeds in connecting the dots and organizing all the white noise of pop culture into a tidy little capsule where all components can be viewed as pieces to a giant puzzle (I never realized that John Bonham and John Lennon died less than 90 days apart), and lets you see connections you never knew existed. Did you know that Starbucks and cell phones, two things that literally go hand-in-hand, both arrived in 1971?

Filled with interesting trivia (250 grave robbers were shot to death in 1900???) the book is meticulously researched and overflowing with nostalgia. It’s at its best when it covers the years when you grew up and resurrects countless suppressed memories (I had forgotten about the made-for-TV post-nuclear holocaust movie “The Day After”). Along with reminding you of all the great toys, shows and gossip of your youth, it’s also filled with many things you’ll be glad you missed – Heinz purple ketchup?

The strongest and most detailed prose can be found in the car section and Orr is clearly an enthusiast. I am not but I enjoyed learning how to determine the decade a car was produced by measuring the amount of chrome on its body. The details here are very convincing and Orr comes off as an expert. In fact, his knowledge of automobile history is so rich that it’s almost too much. It is packed with so many details that after awhile I was swimming in a sea of letters and numbers that looked almost like someone had taken a Scrabble game and tossed it on the floor with a stack of Uno cards (2000GT F150 Honda DX 1998). After awhile the makes and models didn’t mean much. Knowing that the 1998 Cobra had independent rear suspension was probably a bit too micro – I wanted to read more about Rod Stewart getting mugged and OJ fleeing from the cops in his Ford Bronco. And not a single mention of Back to the Future? Let’s hear less on specs and more on Nick Nolte’s hilarious DWI mug shot.

The movie section is pure nostalgia. Filled with movies I forgot that I loved and many I know I need to see it was great to read the yearly progression of movie history. The television section proved how quickly the arrival of the boob tube radically changed our innovation of snack foods. Can you image a dark age with no nacho-flavored Bugles or without mint and orange Kit-Kat bars? The music section is dedicated mostly it to rock music, categorizing and rightfully omitting rap, bubblegum and commercialized country music as “just plain trash.” Orr’s commentary includes such gems as “What is true rock and roll without talent, angst and rebellion? Without those things, all that is left is bad taste.” And he’s right on the money, strengthening his argument by referring to Shania Twain and Snoop Dog by their real names and not their corporate inspired monikers.

While some tidbits require further elaboration, like how reruns of Green Acres provided decades of entertainment for potheads, there will be some things that are missing entirely. No Kids in the Hall? What about The Daily Show? But Orr warns you that your favorites may not be found as not everything can be included. He alludes to a sequel and we hope we see one as the book ends with 2006 and almost begs for a second edition.

A masterpiece of nostalgia the book contains one nearly-fatal flaw: the cover. Clearly a symbol of the downhill slide music takes when corporate profits push art aside its tacky “road of life” image was clearly designed on a home computer. Normally I don’t go here and limit my reviews to the content of the book but in this case Orr risks sacrificing a wonderful read.

I’m reminded of the fictional rock band Spinal Tap, laboring over their album’s controversial cover and eventually releasing it in all black with no words or pictures. Let’s hope Orr doesn’t go that far when he produces his next edition but instead realizes that he has written a highly entertaining book – one that can be that much better.

Strengths: nostalgia!!! a fun, light read, painstakingly researched, filled with humor, well-written

Opportunities: not many but the car section gets bogged down in details, the cover

Will appeal to: movie buffs, car enthusiasts, history buffs, music lovers (especially rock music), people who enjoy gossip columns and anyone who loves their books American as apple pie.

Timeline of America: Sound Bytes from the Consumer Culture is available on amazon.

You can read more from Floyd, including information on the sequel here.

Reviewed by Mark McGinty, June 2009

Page One Semi-Finalists Announced

June 15, 2009

The Boogle is happy to announce the semi-finalists of our Page One Fiction Contest!!

They Never Die Quietly – by Daniel M. Annechino

Cutting the Cheese – by Edward Patterson

To Truckee’s Trail – by Celia D. Hayes

Secret of the Sands – by Rai Aren

Advantage Disadvantage – by Yale R. Jaffe

Lessons from the Depression: Eliminating Debt the Old-fashioned Way – by Darlene Gudrie Butts

It was very hard to narrow all of the submissions down to this list (but we had a great time reading all of the submissions. Thank you everyone for all of the creative submissions!! I’d like to also thank my fellow judges, Bobby Ozuna and Joanne Connors-Wade. (Oh, and I can’t forget about forget about me, Mark McGinty.)

Keep checking back as the winning Page One will be posted later this week with an author’s profile!

The criteria we used to judge the entries is here (not including a little mathematical scoring system by one of our judges) and on the original Page One post.

  • Is the page extremely well written?
  • Did the author clearly define the situation, premise and characters?
  • Does the reader want to continue?

Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires

June 11, 2009

9780981461939-template2.qxd:9780981461939-template2.qxdMolly Roe

Tribute Books, 2008

168 pages, historical fiction

Ladies and gentlemen, The Boogle is proud to present our first ever author interview! Please welcome Molly Roe author of Call Me Kate!!!!

The Boogle: What is Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires about?
MR: Call Me Kate is the story of the adventures and tribulations of Katie McCafferty and her family in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. During the Civil War, conflict between mine owners and their employees resulted in labor strikes and riots. The Company owners considered the workers’ behavior treasonous, and eventually they attached the name “Molly Maguire” to anyone resisting the draft or fighting for labor rights.
Katie becomes aware of the turmoil when her best friend, Con Gallagher, joins the protesters and is blacklisted from work in the local mine. To save her friend from the inevitable consequences of his impulsiveness, she gets entangled with the anti-draft faction, and her own safety is jeopardized. The novel is a coming of age story as well as an introduction to the beginnings of the secret society called the Molly Maguires.

The Boogle: Sounds pretty cool. I’m fascinated by stories of labor strife and civil unrest. What inspired you to write this book?
MR: After years of researching genealogy, I decided to put my thoughts into writing for future generations. The family stories I heard while growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania amazed me; the stoicism of the people was astounding. I found many of my “ordinary” relatives mentioned in the historical records and trial transcripts of the Molly Maguire era and wondered how they survived the extraordinary events of the time. The “whys” and “what ifs” led to Call Me Kate, my first novel.

The Boogle: Why do you write historical fiction?

MR: Historical fiction fascinates me because it gives an insight into how people lived in past centuries. Many of the junior high students that I teach are unaware of how their ancestors lived. I hope to inspire my readers to learn about the past by providing stories that inform as well as entertain.

The Boogle: Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?
MR: My reading tastes are eclectic. I’ve always loved the early nineteenth century novels of Jane Austen and the Brontes. Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite, with Jane Eyre and Persuasion tied for second place. On a totally different note, some other favorites are Stephen King’s horror stories, especially The Stand and The Shining; James A. Michener’s novels, and Pearl Buck’s stories set in China. Since I teach junior high, I also try to keep up with YA lit so I’ve read many popular series such as Harry Potter, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Twilight, and the works of Gary Paulsen and J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Boogle: What is next? What are you currently working on?
MR: Before I started writing Call Me Kate, I outlined the lives of all three McCafferty sisters: Kate, Sarah, and Maymie. I’m currently half way through the first draft of Sarah’s Story: The Curse on Centralia. The story line picks up the McCaffertys’ lives three years after the war when they are forced to move to another county. There the second oldest sister finds work as a governess for the mine superintendent’s daughters in Centralia, PA. Once again talk of the Molly Maguires dominates the town to the extent that the parish priest warns the people that their nefarious dealings will bring the town to a bad end. The mine fire has reduced the town to six residents as of this writing, seeming to validate the priest’s curse of one hundred forty years ago.

The Boogle: Thanks Molly – best of luck with the book!

Call Me Kate is available from Tribute Books and amazon.