Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ray's Remarks: An "Average" Night of Book Buying and Acquisitions at the Curious Book Shop

Ray offers a peek into the mysterious world of book-buying at Curious. 
This chronicles the evening of Monday, November 26th 2012.

I never know from one day to the next what we'll have access to. Today was no exception!

I try to encourage people to set up appointments; I'm generally available to buy items in the shop from 3 until 7:30 PM, Monday Friday and Saturday - but it's always best to call first.

First in to sell items was a man who'd called and set up an appointment. He brought in a big Walt Disney Mickey Mouse book and some items he inherited from his father.

Unfortunately, the Disney book's cover was soiled - I passed on it; while the contents were in nice shape, the exterior discoloration would turn a lot of people off. It just wasn't "gift" condition, and we see this book frequently.

He also had some items from the Korean War, a book from the U.S.S. Pittsburgh and a military scrapbook from the war with many black and white photos. There were also a few large photographs of the crew, but these were damaged, almost torn in two.

While I do have customers for these types of items, we didn't agree on a price; I suggested that he might want to donate them to the Michigan Historical Museum - and honor his father permanently. It would be ideal for researchers and historians.

We talked about the decreasing number of collectors of this type of material - and the fact that more items like these were surfacing as World War II and Korean War veterans are passing away with increasing regularity.

He decided to take them home and think about what he was going to do. I gave him a card and would be interested in buying them, but I have to make a profit. These items are not fast sellers, but they are still pretty interesting.

Next in was a man with a big bag of old "girlie" magazines - but most were in poor shape, with covers coming off. I don't have much demand for men's magazines but I can use those types of magazines in nice condition, from the 1950s and 1960s.

We also had the usual people trying to sell old textbooks - and advised them to go nearby textbook shops.

A man came in with an item, carefully packed in plastic, that he wanted to sell. It was a Flash Gordon Big Little Book from the late 1930s - but it was only in good condition. There was lots of cover wear to the exterior and penciling inside. He had great expectations - he said that one company said it could be worth up to $307 - but he'd have to send it to them, first.

He decided to bring it to us - but his copy was not in desirable condition; we currently have over 60 Big Little Books in stock in nice shape! On items of this type, condition is exceptionally important - and copies that are only in Fair or Good condition are notoriously slow sellers.

Earlier in the day I brought in some boxes of hardbacks and paperbacks that I'd acquired from the estates of two professors - art books and useful volumes of lecture and poetry.

We also acquired an interesting wooden bookcase from a local estate sale; it is only a foot wide, but six feet tall, with adjustable shelves!

Audrey had the bright idea of putting it next to our stairway leading to the basement. It fits perfectly. Now, we just have to figure out what we'll going to put on display!

Other items that we put out today included a nice selection of Tolkien-related books. In a few weeks, we'll send to auction a FIRST AMERICAN EDITION of Tolkien's The Hobbit, in Good condition.

We currently are offering an original gouache painting by Rowena Morrill on Ebay. It was used as the cover art for The Dracula Book of Great Vampire Stories!

Other items we made available today were a large number of 1950s Dell TARZAN comics, including a few scarce Four-Color issues. We added a number of SIGNED FIRST EDITIONS of science fiction novels and anthologies signed or inscribed by Hugo-Award winning author Clifford D. Simak.

I also dug out a box of books that had been somewhat buried. I priced and shelved a few more Cherry Ames books in dust jackets, and Nancy Drew, too. There are many interesting books awaiting plastic wraps. They'll appear on our shelves soon.

Earlier today we celebrated my birthday 
with a nice chocolate cake that tasted great! 

Tomorrow is another day. Who knows what we'll come across...

- Ray Walsh


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ray's Reviews: The Racketeer by John Grisham & The Cocktail Waitress by James M. Cain

Two recent, intriguing crime novels by well-known authors have various degrees of success. Both have justice-related themes, providing hours of captivating reading entertainment.

     "The Racketeer" by John Grisham (Doubleday, $28.95) isn't his usual legal thriller, although there are an assortment of legalities involved.

     It focuses on the plight of Malcolm Bannister, a Black attorney who's serving 10 years in prison for his involvement in a money-laundering scheme.

     He's spent some of his time as a jailhouse lawyer, learning a lot about his fellow prisoners. When a Federal Judge and his young secretary are discovered murdered, with an empty safe nearby, Bannister feels he knows who's responsible.

     After the extensive investigation by local police and the FBI turns up no evidence, Bannister offers them useful information - for a price. He can break the case wide open, but wants his freedom.

     Grisham's compelling tale is told from alternating viewpoints, beginning with Bannister's narrative and then switching to a third person, more objective view.

     The reader doesn't really know immediately where the novel is going and is given few clues along the way. The author offers numerous surprises, racial insights and a bit of violence, but the final outcome is not completely unpredictable.

     Grisham, in his brief afterward, notes "Almost nothing in the previous 340-odd pages is based on reality" - and he's 100% right. Although confusing at times, his latest novel is still classic Grisham, ready-made for the movies.

     "The Cocktail Waitress" by James M. Cain (Hard Case Crime, $23.99) is a top-notch crime novel by the creator of "Mildred Pierce" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice".

     Set in the early 1960's, it focuses on pretty Joan Medford, whose husband died under suspicious circumstances.

     With a 3-year-old son and desperate for money, she takes a job as a cocktail waitress and soon gets involved with a wealthy widower and a handsome schemer.

     She must make important, life-changing decisions, which inevitably lead to deadly, conflicting results and an ironic conclusion.

     This is the lost final novel by Cain, the noir fiction specialist, who died in 1977.

     In the afterward, by Edgar-Award winning author and Hard Crime Press founder Charles Ardai, it is revealed how the manuscript was discovered and how it was made available for publication.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 18, 2012.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Find the PERFECT Gift at Curious - Gift Certificates on Sale! - Comics, Pulps and more at CLASSICON 42 this SATURDAY - November 2012 Curious Book Shop Curiosities Newsletter

Greetings, Friends of Curious!

It's been a busy month at the book shop.
Thank you, all who came down to help celebrate our 43rd anniversary!
We hope you found fabulous deals and reveled in our nostalgia-steeped shop.

The holidays are nearly upon us.
Curious is your one-stop shop for affordable, unique, unexpected gifts sure to delight
your favorite book lover, historian, movie buff, hunter, explorer, sports fan or young reader.

Need help finding the right thing for that someone special?
Ask us! We'll point you in the right direction, and help you find unique items sure to please.

November Sale:

30% OFF Travel, Cooking and Oversized Sports & Entertainment Books
20% OFF Gift Certificates (for a limited time)

New Acquisitions:

Russian history, vintage comics, beautifully illustrated children's classics,
a selection of early issues of High Times and Harvard Lampoon,
Charlie Brown cartoon books, chess books, magic books, science and biology,Gourmet and Saveur magazines, 20+ years of National Geographic,
recent mystery and general fiction bestsellers, science fiction and fantasy paperbacks,
books in German, French, Latin and Russian, and art and architecture hardcovers.

Numerous paperback mysteries by Ellis Peters and William Kent Gardner,

a selection of Big Little Books, many Tolkien paperbacks and finely illustrated
collections of Middle Earth art, philosophy, and volumes of European and American poetry.

Also, we've recently acquired beautiful editions of Tolkien's novels published by the Folio Society.
They're fabulously illustrated and in slipcase. Quite a find for the discerning collector!

Shop Gossip:

Join us THIS SATURDAY, November 17, for Classicon 42.
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the University Quality Inn, near Frandor (in Lansing).
Admission: $3.00

Classicon is one of the first pulp/paperback shows ever established.
There are thousands of collectable vintage comics, Pulp magazines,
digests, and paperbacks available for sale or trade.

Find out more on our website or Craigslist.
Want to exhibit? There's still time!
Call the shop (517.332.0112) and talk to Ray.

MSU's latest museum, The Broad, opened this week!

The grand opening was cause for celebration at Curious.
We've reorganized and expanded our  Art History,
Art Theory, Architecture, Photography, European Art,
American Art, Asian Art, Religious Art, Museum Guides
and Arts & Crafts sections.

Ray recently reviewed the latest science fiction and fantasy novel by Jim C. Hines
Hines is a local, award-winning writer -- and a favorite at Curious!
Libriomancer, the first in a promising new series, takes place in East Lansing.
This novel features a suspiciously familiar character... an eccentric bookseller named Ray.

Is this just a coincidence?
Pick up a copy of Libriomancer and tell us what you think.

Read Ray's reveiw of Libriomancer, and the latest from Jonathan Stars, on our blog: Curiosities.

We have an especially wonderful collectors piece up for auction, this week.
Released from Ray's private collection is an original painting by Rowena Morrill.
Morrill was the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention Artist Guest of Honor.
Take a peek at the online auction.

Special Holiday Hours:

Curious will be CLOSED on Thanksgiving. Turkey! Yum!

We are open on Sundays, from noon until 5 pm,
and parking is free in East Lansing's city parking lots!

Literary Happenings for November:

Ivan Turgenev, born Nov. 9 1818. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. born Nov. 11, 1922.
Herman Melville's Moby Dick first published by Harper and Brothers in
New York on Nov. 14, 1981. Sylvia Beach opened her Parisian book shop,
Shakespeare & Co
., on Nov. 17, 1919. George Eliot born Nov. 22, 1811.
Ray Walsh
, owner and founder of Curious Book Shop, celebrates his
birthday Nov. 25th! Lewis Carroll gave his handwritten manuscript,
Alice's Adventures Underground, to Alice Liddell as an early
Christmas gift on Nov. 26, 1864. John Donne, born Nov. 27 1573.
C.S. Lewis
born Nov. 29, 1898. Oscar Wilde died in Paris, Nov. 30, 1900.

Many thanks, and we hope to see you in the shop sometime soon.

Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang

If you'd like to receive our newsletter in your email inbox, please contact us at curiousbooks@gmail.com

Curious Book Shop

307 East Grand River
East Lansing, MI  48823
(517) 332-0112



Ray's Reviews: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines and 2035 by Jonathan Stars

      If you're trying to escape reality, here's a quick look at two intriguing new releases by local authors. Both are set in East Lansing and other Michigan locations, but are worlds apart in reality.

"Libriomancer" by Holt resident and Hugo Award winning fantasy author Jim C. Hines (DAW books, $24.95) is the first book in his exciting new series.

It introduces Isaac Vainio, who seems like a meek librarian  working in the small northern Michigan town of Copper River. He's not your typical librarian - he has unusual powers and brings Smudge, his fire spider to work with him. 

Isaac is a Libriomancer, one who has the ability to reach into books and create objects from their pages. There are restrictions, though: Isaac isn't supposed to use his powers - he's been merely cataloging books for their magical potential for the last two years. 

He's attacked in the library by three vampires seeking answers. He's in real trouble - but gets help from Lena, a pretty dryad (a female spirit of a tree); his life quickly gets more complicated.

Isaac is a member of a secret organization founded by Johannes Gutenberg centuries ago to fend off supernatural threats. 
He goes off on an unusual quest, with greater focus after he discovers that his mentor in magic, a used book store owner in East Lansing, has been murdered in an unusual manner. 

Hines' quirky, humorous tale is rife with fast-paced action and confrontations; this is great fun, an enjoyable, unpredictable fantasy by one of the best new masters of the genre.

His website is www.jimchines.com

"2035" by Jonathan Stars (DDP Books, $19.95) is a fat, 571 page novel that's tough to classify - but hard to put down. 

It's set in 2035, a strange technological future that's significantly different, but one that's likely possible, according to some predictions. It deals with nanotechnology, when Charlie Noble and his team create N-hanced, an application for utilizing nano computers in the human brain. 

When one of Charlie's co-workers is murdered and another commits suicide, the inventor realizes that his project is veering out of control.

Losing his funding and wrongly accused of negligent homicide, Charlie's on the run, fleeing authorities and trying to track down the clever real killer.

Most of the adrenaline-charged action occurs in East Lansing and Lansing, with a terrific sequence set at the Breslin Center. 

This is an odd mixture of futuristic science fiction, mystery, action/adventure and courtroom drama, but Stars makes it all work, exceptionally well.

He even includes a seven-page glossary for non-geeks that's particularly useful.

Stars, who lives near Holt, appeared on eight different panels at the recent World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago.

He's hard at work and has already written 20,000 words in the next book in this projected series.

His website is www.N-hanced.com

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, is a longtime science fiction reader who's reviewed books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 11, 2012.

Books reviewed by Ray are available at the Curious Book Shop!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ray's Reviews: John Sandford's "Mad River" and Richard Castle's "Frozen Heat"

     There are dead bodies galore and so much more in two recent fast-paced, highly entertaining best-selling crime novels.
     "Mad River" by John Sandford (Putnam, $27.95) is the sixth book in his series starring Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Virgil Flowers.
     Sandford, who's also written 22 books in his "Prey" series starring Lucas Davenport, doesn't falter, creating a taught, tight thriller that's tough to put down.
     The fast-paced tale opens with a bang in the first chapter, as three teenagers break into a house in a robbery attempt.
     Things go badly wrong when they kill a young woman; they murder another man and steal his car. Soon the body count rises again and Flowers is trying to track the teenagers who have gone on a killing spree.
     As the investigation continues, the case becomes more complex; Flowers gets limited assistance from assorted police departments.
     There's considerable violence, including frustration and anger between the teenagers; Flowers digs deeper, going all out to stop further bloodshed.
     Sandford is in fine form in "Mad River"; a reader unfamiliar with earlier books in the series will still find strong characterization, clever plotting and a thought-provoking conclusion.
     "Frozen Heat" by Richard Castle (Hyperion, $26.99) is the fourth in the series based on the popular ABC television series.
     It stars NYPD detective Nikki Heat and journalist Jameson Rook, thinly veiled characters from the show.
     Heat is investigating the murder of an unidentified woman who was stabbed to death. The frozen body was discovered in a suitcase, inside a freezer truck.
     The detective is startled when she notices that the suitcase containing the body belonged to Heat's mother, who was murdered 10 years earlier in a similar, unsolved case.
     As Heat, Rook and the rest of the squad dig deeper, unnerving facts are discovered, disclosing unusual family secrets.
     A trip to Paris provides more clues and leaves more questions; attempts are made on Heat's life.
     Evidence mysteriously disappears and the other important test results are destroyed. Heat and Rook's diligent efforts involve them in many chase scenes with deadly, unexpected results.
     The convoluted plot ends with a cliffhanger, ideal for a sequel; this is a solid, enjoyable police procedural with a touch of humor thrown in for good measure.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 4, 2012.