Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What You Missed: Classicon 37!

Pulps, posters, and pin-ups - Oh, my!

If you missed Classicon 37, here are just a few photos of the interesting array of collectibles available at this spring's show. Learn what Classicon is all about in our recent blog post, The Mystery and Excitement of Classicon!

If you missed the show, don't despair! This winter, you'll have a chance to attend Classicon 38. We'll have more information about the next show soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime you can see some of the items in these photos at the Curious Book Shop. Our top floor boasts dozens of vintage movie posters and Hollywood collectibles. Our selection of comics is ever-growing, and we have even more stored behind the front counter.

If you can't find what you're looking for - just ask us!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shadow of the Wolf Tree

6/20/10 A determined, strong-willed hero is at the heart of an intriguing crime novel in which the main character gets help in tracking down a devious killer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Shadow of the Wolf Tree by MSU graduate Joseph Heywood (Lyons Press, $16.95) is the seventh in his popular Woods Cop series. It stars Grady Service, a conservation officer/detective for Michigan's Department of Natural Resources.

From the first page, the reader knows Service is going to face challenges, when he's described as

...the sort of rare individual in law enforcement who seemed to naturally attract trouble, and in one way or another always seemed to overcome it

Service doesn't go looking for problems - he's fishing with a retired cop when his dog comes back to camp with an old human skull, then another.
Service has to investigate, but soon that's the least of his concerns. When a booby-trap kills a fisherman and a fellow cop is injured by a nasty trap, Service worries about eco-terrorists.

Service is frustrated by few results and complications in the three cases.

Heywood is at his best when describing locations and when there's action. Despite the high body count, this tale is merely satisfactory; his earlier efforts are far more enjoyable.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on June 20, 2010


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Celebrating Fathers

June 20th is fast approaching. If you're still looking for a gift for Father's Day, the Curious Book Shop might have something for you.

Our books, magazines, t-shirts, sports programs, film memorabilia, and collectible items make excellent gifts, and if you're unsure of exactly what Dad would like, we do sell gift certificates in any amount.

In honor of Father's Day, we are also selling ties at $27.50 each for a limited time. Patterns are inspired by Shakespeare, the Lewis and Clark journals, historical U.S. locomotives, and other literary themes. You'll find them on the front counter, past the display case when you first enter the shop.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Mystery and Excitement of Classicon!

Classicon is a one-day Pulp and Paper Show held twice a year. The show features pulp magazines and pulp-related items, including magazines, digests, paperbacks, comics, pinups, original paperback art, posters, calendars, and more.

The kinds of items you'll find at the show include: Nostalgia from the 1920s through the 1960s; books and magazines and digests and pulps and fanzines in Mystery and Detective, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Aviation, Western, Romance, Characters and Heroes, Vintage Comics, Pinups and Glamour, Petty, Vargas, Marilyn Monroe, and Bettie Page; vintage superheroes, The Shadow, Weird Tales, Doc Savage, Tarzan, Lovecraft, rocket ships and monsters from outer space. All kinds of pulp fiction!

At earlier Classicons, we have had such guests of honor as Walter Gibson, the creator of The Shadow, science fiction historian Sam Moskowitz, illustrator Jim Steranko, science fiction writer Philip José Farmer, and paperback historian Kevin Hancer.

A wide range of items are available, both collectable and for casual buyers, for sale or trade - or even just for viewing. Vintage men's magazines will also be for sale, but there's something at this show to appeal to a wide range of interests. We have dealers from three states scheduled to attend and should have about 35 tables of items on display. The set-up is similar to the Antiquarian Book & Paper Show, though more intimate and specialized.

This Saturday, June 19, the 37th Classicon will be at the University Quality Inn in Lansing, on East Grand River right across from Frandor Shopping Center. See the show page at our website for more information about this upcoming show.

If you enjoy Classicon and pulp-related materials, keep in mind that Pulpfest is around the corner!

Mark, the manager of the Curious Book Shop, has been helping to set up Classicon for three years.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Try to Remember

6/13/10 Try to Remember by Iris Gomez (Grand Central, $13.99) is an intriguing paperback debut that focuses on the coming-of-age and stressful family life of Gabriela de la Paz (Gabi).

It's set primarily in Miami during the late 1960s and early 1970s, showcasing 13-year-old Gabi and her increasing challenges.

The novel is told by Gabi, the daughter of Colombian immigrants. Her unemployed father wants her to help type up letters to businesses as he seeks a job. Unfortunately, his missives are disjointed and make little sense. Soon he changes to writing letters involving moneymaking schemes.

Roberto, her father, loses his temper and is arrested, and then the family's problems intensify. Gabi worries about deportation.

Her mother, Evangelina, takes a menial job in a struggle for survival, but her pride won't allow her to tell her husband. Her father's mental condition deteriorates further, with more violent results.

Evangelina resorts to unusual methods in her valiant attempts to calm her husband down, but his refusal to see a doctor only make matters worse.
As Gabi assists Roberto in his futile letter writing, she becomes more frustrated. She's trying to figure out what to do with her life, getting insights from her friends, the daughters of Cuban immigrants.

Her mother's strict attitudes add to the stress. Gabi's doing well at school but takes part-time jobs to minimize confrontations at home.
Her two brothers have issues at school and turn to drugs, while boys are becoming interested in Gabi and making advances.

Gomez, who graduated from MSU, combines all these elements and adds more plot twists, creating a memorable and innovative semi-autobiographical tale.

The author of two volumes of poetry, Gomez is an award-winning, nationally known immigrants' rights attorney and advocate. She's the director of the Immigrants' Protection Project of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on June 13, 2010


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Little Death and Love Kills

6/6/10 Sometimes, good things do come in small packages. That's the case in two recent paperback mysteries that are highly entertaining.

Each is a solid police procedural crime novel that deals with murder among the very rich, with diligent investigators tracking down a crafty, devious killer.

The Little Death by P.J. Parrish (Pocket Star, $7.99) is the 10th in the best-selling series starring Louis Kincaid, an ex-cop who's now a private eye in southern Florida.

Kincaid gets involved in a tough case when he offers to help his friend Mel Landeta, a former Miami cop who's slowly going blind. Down in ritzy Palm Beach, Reggie Kent, a friend of Landeta's, has been accused of murdering his roommate Mark Durand.

Kent was a high-class "walker" who escorted rich, older women to fancy events. Before his death, Durand had been doing the same. Kincaid and Landeta get little help from one local cop who has an assortment of negative attitudes.

Kincaid gets a ticket for having "an ugly car" and more challenges surface when another headless body is discovered. A powerful female senator may be involved and the pair get additional assistance.

P.J. Parrish is actually the pseudonym of two sisters, Kristi Montee and Kelly Nichols, who were born and raised in Detroit. Their excellent, award-winning novels always feature strong characterization and complicated but believable plots. This one is a real winner.

Love Kills by Dianne Emley (Ballantine, $7.99) is the fourth book in the acclaimed series featuring Pasadena homicide detective Nan Vining, who's the single mother of a teenager.

Vining, who's recovering from an attack by a serial killer, is called into a murder investigation of a wealthy socialite and is astounded that she knew the victim, a friend of her mother's.

More surprises are in store: she discovers that her mother was dating a sleazy celebrity private eye, one of the victims in another bloody double homicide.

An apparent link to the murder cases is Georgia Berryhill, an incredibly rich and charismatic self-help guru to the stars. Quirky characters abound; Vining and her partner/lover Jim Kissick try to piece together clues before the body count rises higher.

This is a nifty, taut, tight police procedural with an unpredictable ending.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on June 6, 2010


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hugo Nominees, We've Got 'Em!

Since 1955, the World Science Fiction Society has handed out the Hugo Award to the best in science fiction in various media from each year. In April, the WSFS announced their 2010 nominees, and the Curious Book Shop is excited to promote the best in science fiction and encourage readers to try these authors.

China Mieville, who has been nominated for City & the City, also wrote The Scar, which you can buy in our shop. The Scar recieved it's own critical acclaim as the winner of the British Fantasy Award and the Locus Award and a nominee for the Hugo Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, World Fantasy Award, and Philip K. Dick Award.

We also have Axis by Robert Charles Wilson, the sequel to his Hugo Award-winning novel Spin. Wilson was nominated this year for Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America.

Robert J. Sawyer, the author of the nominated novel Wake, wrote the book Flashforward, on which the current television show is based. He has worked as a consultant for the show, and written one of its episodes. This novel, and his other books Far-seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner, are all here.

Nancy Kress, nominated for the novella "Act One," which appeared in Issac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, wrote Crucible, An Alien Light, and Beggars and Choosers. We have these popular titles in our store at the moment.

James Morrow, nominated for Shambling Towards Hiroshima, also wrote Towing Jehovah and Blameless in Abaddon, two stories which center around the idea of finding the corpse of God and the implications of such an event. We have these two novels in hardcover and The Continent of Lies in paperback.

Finally, we have Ghost Brigades, a novel by John Scalzi, who has been nominated for The God Engines.

These books may not be here for long, so catch up on the works of this year's best science fiction authors while we have them in stock.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Corruption at Jamestown Prison and Nobody's Angel

5/30/10 Two recent crime novels offer intriguing insights into occupations that often are overlooked.

Corruption at Jamestown Prison by AJ Hutchison (AJ Hutchison, $9.95) is a self-published paperback set mostly at a thinly veiled Jackson State Prison.

As the title suggests, it focuses on inappropriate behavior by authorities, including the cover-up of the murder of a female officer.

It opens in the late 1980s, introducing Anne Morgan, who applies for a job with the Department of Corrections after graduating from college and passing a civil service exam.

Although she gets the job as a prison guard, she fights sexism and is exposed to significant violent behavior.

She toughens up, dealing with racism, drug usage and illegal weapons, even bad attitudes by the inmates and staff. Morgan investigates corruption, gathering information from a variety of sources. When other officers die and her own life is threatened, the tension increases.

This eye-opening debut novel has many flaws, including a primitive cover design, numerous typographical errors and spacing problems; a lack of indentation for paragraphs slows the pacing.

Nobody's Angel by Jack Clark (Hard Case Crime, $7.99) is the first professional release of a book that the author self-published in 1996. He had 500 copies printed, selling them to passengers in his taxi.

It's a memorable, dark and gritty tale that showcases Eddie Miles, an experienced cab driver who's prowled the streets of Chicago for years.

In a dark alley, Miles discovers the bleeding body of a young woman. That's just the beginning of his problems. Somebody's been robbing and killing cabbies in the Windy City, making all of the drivers nervous.

Although they're careful about the fares they accept and the areas they go into, the cabbies are very worried. Some are arming themselves with guns. Miles carries a can of Mace instead; he's concerned, but is trying to track down the killer who's targeting young prostitutes.

Laced with dark humor and insights into a wide assortment of passenger behavior, this slim paperback has strong characterization and a great sense of location.

Clark is the author of the Shamus-award nominated crime novel Westerfield's Chain, also set in Chicago.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on May 30, 2010


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pulpfest 2010

Pulp magazines, which were an inexpensive and popular delight between the 1890s and the 1950s, consisted of genre fiction stories—detective mysteries, science fiction/fantasy, westerns, horror, action/adventure, and romance. They were so named because of the cheap wood pulp from which the paper was made. Famous characters of the pulps include The Shadow, Tarzan, The Spider, G-8 and His Battle Aces, and Doc Savage.

Friday, July 30 - Sunday, August 1, Pulpfest 2010 is taking place in Columbus, Ohio. Dealers will sell pulps and pulp-related paper collectibles, such as posters and artwork. There will also be panels, auctions, and award presentations. William F. Nolan, the co-creator of Logan's Run and the editor of The Black Mask Boys, will be the guest of honor.

Ray will man a dealer booth at the conference, held in the Ramada Plaza Hotel & Conference Center. Visit the official website for a programming schedule, list of dealers, and more information.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Burying Place

5/23/10 Strong female characters abound in The Burying Place by award-winning crime novelist Brian Freeman (Minotaur, $24.99).

This psychological suspense tale opens with Duluth police Officer Kasey Kennedy lost in a rainy, foggy area. She stumbles into scene where a serial killer is chasing a distraught woman.

Meanwhile, Duluth police Lt. Jonathan Stride, who's recovering from injuries sustained in an earlier book, begins looking into the kidnapping of Callie Glenn of nearby Grand Rapids. The 11-month-old girl was taken from the home of Marcus Glenn, a wealthy, arrogant surgeon, and his wife, Valerie.

Denise Sheridan, a deputy sheriff in Ithaca County, requests Stride's help in solving the case. Valerie is her sister.

Stride is joined by Serena Dial, his lover, who's had 10 years experience as a Las Vegas homicide cop. His partner, Maggie Bei, is also investigating a serial killer who's been murdering women in the surrounding farmlands.

Glenn is a prime suspect in the first case - his distraught wife was out of town. Both have emotional baggage and secrets that raise suspicions.
Valerie and her sister have numerous conflicts. Valerie is used to a life of luxury while Denise and her husband are struggling, trying to raise children.

As Stride and Dial ask more questions, few clues surface regarding Callie's disappearance. The relationship between the pair is slowly disintegrating, while other entanglements cause complications.

Stride's recovery from his fall is causing more challenges, as well. Maggie wants to speed his recovery and has good intentions.

Freeman throws in intriguing minor characters, including an illegal housekeeper and a nosy, dedicated television reporter. There's a quirky nurse added for good measure, but Freeman ratchets up the tension when the devious serial killer makes Kennedy his next target.

Freeman delves deeply into the psychological background of many characters, deftly shifting viewpoints.

This is a top-notch atmospheric thriller. To fully appreciate the characters and their behavior, it would help to read the earlier books in the series: Immoral, Stripped, Stalked and In the Dark.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on May 23, 2010