Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ray's Reviews: The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation:

        "The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation"
(Abrams Comicarts) is an exceptionally creative graphic novel written
by East Lansing author Dan Mishkin.
        It's illustrated by highly acclaimed, long-time comic book
veteran Ernie Colon and Ann Arbor comic book artist Jerzy Drozo.
        Available in paperback for $17.95 or hardback at $29.95, the
well-illustrated graphic novel deals with a highly controversial
subject - the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President John
Fitzgerald Kennedy.
        The release is timed for the 50th Anniversary of the report,
which examined evidence related to the fateful event that took place
in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
        This is not just a simple oversized comic book - it's a
carefully co-ordinated effort to offer a realistic view of a major
historical event and its treatment by the seven members of the Warren Commission.  It
focuses on a variety of different aspects of the Report, including
information later revealed that had never been supplied to the Commission.
        Delving into the assassination of the President and the
wounding of Governor John Connelly, the graphic novel opens with a
resounding "P-Kow!", the sound of the gunshot that changed American history.
        It examines the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, who's strikingly
represented in a black and white, uncolored, almost ghostly image
throughout the thought-provoking book.
        Exploring a wide assortment of conspiracy theories, Mishkin
and the talented crew of artists cover a lot of territory, ranging
from the grassy knoll theory, multiple assassins, FBI cover-ups, medical
misinformation and possible foreign government involvement.
        It also offers contextual insights into the societal changes.
A brief forward is provided by biographer Richard Reeves. Mishkin adds
a short afterword and a selected bibliography.
        This is a step in a different creative direction of
non-fiction for Mishkin, who has written in the comic book industry
for over 30 years. He scripted "Wonder Woman for three years" and is the co-creator (with
Colon) of the comic book series "Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld."
        Colon was the illustrator for the best-selling book "The 9/11
Report: A Graphic Adaptation".
        While the full truth about the Kennedy assassination will
never be known, this mesmerizing book offers a remarkably unique

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has
reviewed books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 28, 2014.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Undercover Justice by Laura DeLanoy

   “Undercover Justice” by Hartland author Laura DeLanoy (Black Rose Writing, $18.95) is a young adult debut novel that focuses on high school senior Nora Barton. 

It’s set in the small fictitious town of Pine Hills MI, where Nora and her twin brother Kent are seniors in high school.

Nora’s attracted to new student Jed Greyson, who’s both handsome and rebellious. Jed is in reality a rookie undercover cop who’s trying to get information about the disappearance of local students. 

Kent is over-protective about his sister, causing conflicts with Jed; Nora’s father doesn’t approve of the teen-agers going out either. 

Investigating the history of the missing students, Jed is eventually joined by Kent, Nora and other friends; the police officer faces many challenges while trying to keep his true identity hidden. 

Soon they discover the existence of a multi-generational secret organization known as “The Order” at the
school. It uses corruption to improve grades, eventually producing wide-reaching effects.
Fearful of exposure, some members are willing to murder to protect their secrets; Jed, the Bartons and their friends face significant danger. 

When another student disappears and violence flares, the undercover cop finds his role intensifying as he searches for the truth. 

There are other facets of Jed’s life that he doesn’t want revealed; he must also put up with fellow officers who needle him about the unusual assignment. 

The plot moves at a fast clip, with frequent unpredictable events. It’s fun to watch the emotional relationship grow
between Nora and Jed, complete with rocky moments and a few kisses, as prom season arrives. 

This isn’t exactly a coming-of-age story; it’s more of a mixed genre novel with a variety of appeal, combining romance, religion, crime and adventure. It could easily be made into an intriguing made-for-television movie – no major actors or actresses would be needed.

Unfortunately the book suffers from poor editing, as the small independent publisher’s text contains many typographical and grammatical errors. While the storyline is told from varying viewpoints, some are not
clearly defined, adding to the reader’s frustration. 

This is the first book in a projected series by DeLanoy, who has a degree in Journalism from Eastern Michigan University. More information about the book is available at

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 21, 2014.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Hotelman by T. Scott Brown

“Hotelman” by T. Scott Brown (Arbutus Press, $18.95) is an entertaining and unusual book that explores the beginnings and career of a young man who had to overcome a wide variety of challenges to become successful.

His father (identified as Dad) owned the Colonial Inn in Harbor Springs MI, the summer resort area’s only hotel, but wanted his son to become a lawyer. Brown, after graduating from University of Michigan with two
business degrees, got a law degree from Notre Dame.

He was hired by a prestigious Chicago law firm and passed the bar exam. He was unhappy with his job, which primarily involved tedious research.

Brown got a call from his father telling him that Dario, the hotel’s long-time chef had died; his father was going to sell the hotel to a developer.

The historic building, which was built in the 1890’s, was going to be torn down and replaced by condominiums. Brown, who had grown up and worked in the hotel, couldn’t believe it – he quit his job and went home to try to talk his father out of selling it.

He was successful, taking over Dario’s job, but his family relationships were strained. Headstrong Dad still clung to many old-fashioned ideas and was reluctant to change.

Brown was learning the business inside out, continuing as chef; eventually he got into real estate in an unusual way.

While this is a coming-of-age story, it doesn’t focus on the growth of a child, instead examining a wide assortment of relationships that changed an upstart son into an entrepreneur. Brown follows the advice of Mrs. Baldwin, a long-time customer who required a lot of attention.

He has to deal with unscrupulous developers and dissenting wealthy townspeople.

Brown was always trying to prove himself to his highly independent father, who was frustrated because he’d been talked out of selling the hotel.

The paperback memoir examines some of Brown's friendships and personal romantic relationships as well as
pitfalls and problems he faced with different projects. 

The well designed paperback includes a tasty recipe for Duckling al’a Orange and a pair of photographs.

It’s great fun, providing a unique and compassionate look at uncommon facets of Michigan history in an exceptionally scenic resort area.

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

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 14, 2014.


Friday, September 12, 2014

September 2014 Newsletter

Welcome back, Spartans!

East Lansing is brimming with familiar faces and plenty of new booklovers.

We're celebrating the beginning of fall by offering some fresh deals. Stop by the shop and receive 30% OFF items from the following sections:

Drama and Theatre
Essays and Memoirs
All Magazines priced $5 or Less
Remember: With a purchase, we'll validate your parking for City of East Lansing lots and ramps.

New Acquisitions:

A slew of fabulous recent fiction bestsellers, a bevy of hardcover Stephen Kingnovels sure to make you squirm, plenty of 19th and 20th century American, Russian and European literary classics, and more paperback mysteries than we can fit onto the shelves!

Ray brought in a great collection of Astounding Science Fiction pulps, going back to 1930! High-quality Film Books and Hollywood Histories are also new to the shop.

Significant incoming collections include quality Military History texts, a collection of vintage Charlie Brown / Peanuts books, many international cookbooks, 20th century poetry collections, and a number of novels by fan favorites including Jodi Picoult, John le Carre, Stephen King, Sophie Kinsella, Lee Child, Nora Roberts, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Ken Follett and more!

Also new are a number of new "Fandom" finds, including the new XKCD book, lots of unusual Neil Gaiman items, a fresh supply of vintage Dr. Who paperbacks, some neatMinecraft manuals, and Star Wars goodies, galore!

Speaking of Star Wars...
We have a limited number of the latest Star Wars novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn -- and they're 20% OFF! This book is in short supply in the Lansing area. 
The book serves as a prequel to the upcoming TV series, Star Wars Rebels. It's the starting point for a new era of Star Wars fiction, resetting many major canon plot points. 

Shop Scuttlebutt:

Too. Many. Books.
Please, come help us find homes for them.
We'll be very grateful!

Also, the BIG BOOK SHOW is just a month away.
If you're not sure what we're talking about, start here:

Literary and Community Events:

The Kerrytown Bookfest is THIS SUNDAY, September 7th, in Ann Arbor! This literary festival is fun for the whole family, and features local authors, bookbinders, publishers, booksellers, librarians and more. More info:

The 60th Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show
is coming to Lansing on Sunday, October 5th! Find kindred spirits at this gathering of book and paper enthusiasts, and browse through over one million items from the past few centuries. More info:

September Literary Birthdays and Events:
Sept. 1: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Sept. 2: Eugene Field
Sept. 3: Sarah Orne Jewett
Sept. 4: Richard Wright
Sept. 7: F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Zelda Sayre at a country club dance, in Alabama in 1918
Sept. 8: Ann Beattie
Sept. 9: Leo Tolstoy 
Sept. 11: D.H. Lawrence, O. Henry
Sept. 12: H.L. Mencken
Sept. 13: Roald Dahl, Sherwood Anderson
Sept. 15: James Fenimore Cooper, Agatha Christie
Sept. 17: Mary Stewart, Ken Kesey, William Carlos Williams
Sept. 18: Dr. Samuel Johnson
Sept. 19: Arthur Rackam, William Golding
Sept. 20: Upton Sinclair, Daniel Defoe
Sept. 21: H.G. Wells, Stephen King
Sept. 23: Euripides, Edgar Lee Masters
Sept. 24: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sept. 25: William Faulkner, bell hooks
Sept. 26: T.S. Eliot
Sept. 28: Kate Douglas Wiggins
Sept. 29: Miguel de Cervantes, Elizabeth Gaskell, Stan Berenstain
Sept. 30: Truman Capote


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Personal by Lee Child

“Personal” by best-selling author Lee Child, is the 19th in his exceptionally popular series starring retired military cop Jack Reacher. Child never disappoints his wide legion of readers, who love his fast-paced, violent tales. 

This time out, nomadic Reacher gets in a lot more trouble, but most of the action takes place overseas, notably in England and France. 

The entertaining tale opens with Reacher arriving in Seattle, after brief stops in San Francisco and Portland. He spots an issue of Army Times and finds a classified ad aimed directly to him to contact a former superior. 

Soon he’s on his way across country, getting involved in a highly classified mission. His goal is to stop an international incident that could have intensive, wide-reaching political and economic effects. 

A sniper has attempted to assassinate the President of France in Paris, from a distance of 1400 yards, using 50-caliber American-made bullets. There are few marksmen around the world that have that capability; Reacher is drawn into a search for the clever sniper.

The main suspect is John Kott, who was recently released after serving 15 years in prison. Kott also has personal reasons for wanting Reacher dead; the military cop caught him in Columbia after a vicious murder. 

Reacher joins forces with pretty 28-year old CIA operative Casey Nice; they go over to France and England to investigate possible leads and are joined by other experts. 

While it takes a little while to get going, the pace accelerates, with plenty of surprising plot twists. 

Reacher gets caught in the middle of deadly violence between various mobsters. One of the gang
leaders is particularly memorable, a huge, hulking giant almost 7 feet tall. 

The book’s hero is dubbed “Sherlock Homeless” by another of the characters – it’s a fitting description as Reacher attempts to figure out what’s really going on. 

This carefully crafted tale is a bit unusual as it’s told from a first person viewpoint, a departure from Child’s earlier
novels. It abounds with crisp dialogue, detailed descriptions and a gripping plot that makes it tough to put down. 

If you saw the movie “Jack Reacher” starring Tom Cruise, you’ll enjoy this series, although the book’s quick-thinking fictional main character is significantly taller and larger.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 7, 2014.