Saturday, April 28, 2007

Son of Web Pages That Suck: Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design

“Web Pages That Suck” is a long-running Web page that points out major design gaffes. This book collects many of the site’s more notable inclusions, with explanations of why certain things just don’t work. Most of the advice is pretty sound: with cautions against such cloying features as theme music and excessive animations. The author, Vincent Flanders, does begin to sound dated, though, when he rants against tools like style sheets that have evolved to fix many of the other complaints he points out.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft

There have been several very good graphic novel adaptations of classic stories recently. This book, a collection of Lovecraft’s stories, is another in that category. If ever an author were suited to graphic adaptation, it’s H.P. Lovecraft. His vivid, visual descriptions of monsters, aliens, or the simply deranged are a natural choice of subject for literary-minded artists.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Physics and the Buffyverse

You have to be a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel, two cancelled cult-hit TV shows, in order to really "get" this one. Author Jennifer Ouellette applies esoteric physics concepts to the magical reality of these two shows. However, as I am a rabid fan, I adored this book and read it cover to cover within a day. So if you're a fan of BTVS and/or Angel, get this book! Otherwise, you might want to try Ouellette's more mainstream physics book, Black Bodies and Quantum Cats.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bad Bridesmaid

So as a July bride, I picked up this book thinking it would be about, what else, bad bridesmaids. Not that my bridesmaids are bad or anything, but as a stressed-out bride trying to please everyone right now, I thought maybe I could use a laugh. Instead, I found myself getting angry. "Bad Bridesmaid," as I learned, was a tongue-in-cheek reference to poor, hapless bridesmaids who get stuck in the clutches of picky bridezillas. While I could certainly sympathize with the bridesmaids (these brides really were bridezillas--some of the things they made the bridesmaids do were really ridiculous) I felt that Siri Agrell, the author, was blaming brides for the productions that weddings are today. And I can assure you I have never been that bad!! Anyway, the book was amusing, and Agrell does redeem herself with the last chapter, where she outlines what a bride should do to keep her bridesmaids happy. I guess I just took the whole thing a little too personally!

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Hedge Knight

This graphic novel is a "prequel" (though I wish there were another term for that) to the popular fantasy saga, "A Song of Ice and Fire." It's a Medieval setting, and is a good, fun knight tale. It's interesting that the story pays a great deal of attention to heraldry and lineage, perhaps more so than to the knights themselves, which is probably closer to the historical reality than all those images of chivalry and whatnot we see in movies.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Shadow Dreams

Author Elizabeth Massie is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award for horror writing. This collection of short stories shows why. Massie's writing is a little offbeat and very, very dark. These stories tend toward the psychological.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

In a terrible accident, Charlie has a near death experience while his younger brother, Sam, dies. Before Sam dies, Charlie promises never to leave him. How they maintain their bond and how it affects Charlie's life is the rest of the story especially as a love interest enters Charlie's life. A light easy read with some deeper issues--love, loss, life and death. Fans of Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Albom would probably enjoy this book.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jack of Fables, vol. 1

I was already a fan of writer Bill Willingham's graphic novel series Fables, which portrays characters from folklore as living in New York, exiled from their homeworlds. Willingham offers consistently strong writing and smart storylines. This new series is a spinoff, following the misadventures of one of Fabletown's shadier denizens. The newer series keeps the sense of fun and the keen wit that made the original Fables a success.