Welcome to Lucid INK or LINK.

LINK will be dedicated to bringing book information to the masses. Reviews and rating of recently read books, reader's advisory, general book information, personal reading and publishing thoughts, reviews of book websites, and links to book websites are just some of the things I will try to cover from this site. I invite anyone and everyone who would like to participate in this bookish discussion. However, I will have 3 ground rules to begin and may add others as needed.


1. No Attacks. Users may argue as heatedly as they like about topics, but hostile or mean spirited comments aimed at other users and not at their comments will be stricken.

2. No SPAM of any kind. Sell your junk elsewhere. SPAM will be stricken.

3. No nonsense posts. Nonsense posts or post which clearly have no connection to the conversation will be stricken.

That's it. I hope there's no need for additional rules and I hope that many people will enjoy this site.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Book Review: Moonshadow by J.M. DeMatteis

The Compleat Moonshadow by J. M. DeMatteis
This is one of those books which gives one hope for the future of graphic novels. Unfortunately it was written/drawn about 20 years ago and since then the medium hasn’t progressed greatly. The book shows the possibilities of strong plot, character and allegory use in the medium of comics. Unfortunately the graphic story telling world still (to a greater degree) continues to cling to one genre (superheroes). There’s nothing wrong with that genre. It has its own possibilities, but imagine if the only kind of books written were romance novels or maybe only science fiction, or mysteries. Sounds pretty boring doesn’t it.

Moonshadow shows that a grand story can be told and yet still encompass a simpler tale of coming of age. All this is well told with humor and depth. The book covers its goals with the panache and ability of any well written novel and actually does a better job of capturing that painful point between kid and adult than most novels. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known who (after reading this book) said that Moonshadow felt like a story of their own coming of age. It's a bitter sweet treat to get a chance to get reacquainted with those awkward years of grasping for adulthood... Those precious moments when enlightenment was an all consuming goal. I say it's a treat no one should pass up.

I can't recommend this one enough.

Moonshadow gets an A+.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Book Review: I'm not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti

I'm not scared : [a novel] by Niccolò Ammaniti

A strange and creepy novel which leaves you with an uneasy feeling.

A young boy from rural Italy stumbles into the dark secret of his village.

I’m not sure I can say I left this book happy but it certainly made me want to read more. The author does a beautiful job of capturing that feeling of being a kid and there are only a very few authors I’ve ever read who do that very well. (Ray Bradbury being the first which comes to mind.) I don’t know how these authors do it but I’m always happy when it happens. Many authors write about being a kid and it feels real (not forced), but writers like Bradbury and the author of this book leave me feeling as though I’ve been a child again (at least for a few short desperate hours). They capture the strange pangs and yearnings that come with being a kid and that is something I find fantastic in a book. For this alone I give “I’m Not Scared” high marks, but because the book is so desperately dark, in the end I had very mixed feelings about it

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Book Weeds

I’m slowly discovering that I have a serious problem…

I can’t get rid of books. It’s a compulsion or obsession or some other “sion”. Whatever it is, it’s beginning to drive me nuts. Or maybe it’s the other way around and I do it because I’m nuts. I’m not sure how it started or even when, but it is (literally) physically painful to get rid of a book unless I have accidentally purchased 2 copies of the same text. Deciding which books to get rid of is as painful as killing my own children would be (although, some days it might be easier to kill the kids). I pick up a book I haven’t read in years and think, “Am I ever going to reread this book?” The answer will be NO but then my brain starts in on the “what ifs” and “buts.”

What if a movie version of the book comes out…
But it took me forever to find a copy of that book…
What if I get excited about that genre or topic again…
But it’s a first edition…
What if I read another book with similar ideas and I want to look back over this…
But I made notes in that book…
And so on until I feel sick.

So, I will put the book back on the shelf and keep it. I’ll go through this over and over again, getting rid of maybe 1 out of every 30-40 books I consider. The truth is that half the time I’ve gotten rid of a book I find myself wanting it again at some point in the future.

However, regardless of how I feel I need to remove some of my books. We’re in a state at my house. My wife is looking for a job and it’s highly likely her job search will force us to move. I need to slim down my collection, but I can’t bring myself to abandon one of my babies.

I’m not sure why I’m posting this here… but it does feel better to rant about it a bit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is Poetry Dead/Dying

My wife and I had this argument a few months ago and I believe that if poetry isn’t dead it sure doesn’t have much of a pulse left. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an “I hate poetry” thing. I actually like poetry. I used to write quite a bit myself and even took a poetry writing course in college and got an A (woo hoo… god that was a long time ago). It’s just that to my way of seeing things the audience for poetry has dwindled to nearly non-existent.

Sure we all get some poetry pushed on us in school, but how many people seek out poets to read (current ones not the dead guys) in our daily lives now that we don’t have a teacher pushing us to read it. I’m actually one of those rare (less than 1 in 4) Americans who reads more than 1 book a year but I don’t really read poetry anymore. I will pick up a new poetry book once in a great great while (like maybe one every 2 or 3 years), but I wouldn’t call myself a poetry reader these days.

Of course there are all those magazines which still publish new poetry, but who’s really buying the ones which focus almost exclusively on poetry? My guess is that the majority of people buying those publications are professors and people who want to get published in them.

I have a theory (mind you I have nothing but my own observations to back it up). My theory is that music replaced poetry a long time ago. Back in the day when poetry was big, there were no recording devices. You couldn’t sit down and listen to a song anytime you wished unless you yourself were a musician. So, people read poetry instead. Once sound recordings became available poetry began its slow death. The easier it became to own music the less poetry was read. Music filled that emotional surge that poetry gave and music could often do it with more immediate power. As I said, I love poetry but it doesn’t tend to hit me as hard and as fast as a good song can. Certainly much of the music world is less cerebral than poetry, but that kick that music has is much more visceral. Poetry is often more of a slow build than a quick stab.

Anyway, as I said these are just my thoughts. What do you think? My wife definitely disagrees with me, but then again, in the 15 years I’ve known my wife I have never seen her pick up a book of poetry to read.

Book Review: The Last Universe by William Sleator

Some books grab you by the seat of your pants and drag you around until you turn the last page gasping for breath. Others are slow smoldering burn which sustains throughout with subtle twists and turns. William Sleator's book The Last Universe is a combination of both. It begins as a slow burn, building a plot which has some small shocks slipping a sense of intrigue under the reader’s radar. About half way through the book the tables turn. The reader suddenly finds a set of teeth clamped around their imagination and their pulse quickens.

The Last Universe is the story of a brother and sister who live in a house with a very odd garden. The oldest of the siblings (Gary) is sick and seems to be slowly dying. His sister Susan (the narrator) is healthy but tied to home in order to help her parents with her brother. Everyday Gary forces Susan to take him for walks in the garden. Susan dreads these walks because she finds the garden creepy. Once strange things begin to happen in the garden she become even more frightened, but Gary continues to force her to take him on these walks. He seems to know something about the garden which he is keeping from Susan.

As the story progresses the tension builds and the garden starts to change their lives in ways that are completely unpredictable. At this point in the book the pace of the plot starts to become breakneck.

Sleator handles the style of the writing in his usual straight forward fashion, but he once again proves why he is a master of young adult speculative fiction. While this one many not hit the heights of his first breakthrough The House of Stairs, the ideas and the general plot presented here are definitely worth the time and the money.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Quick Funny

Just for a bit of fun check out UNSHELVED. This is a great online comic strip about a library. As a bonus the weekend strip is always about a book.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Book Arts

I thought I might mention some sites which deal with making books by hand. This is a really great hobby to pick up and if you’re an avid reader or book person it can be extremely rewarding. If nothing else, hand binding books makes it possible for you to own a copy of a book which has long since been out of print.

With a little ingenuity and the use of the Internet creating a copy of a difficult to obtain or out of print book is fairly simple. Using a HTML copy of a book on Project Gutenberg, you can copy and paste into a Word document. From there it’s an easy (but time consuming task) to format the text for printing. I like to do a landscape format and push the text to one side of the paper. This way I end up with a book which is about the same size as most trade paperbacks. (Keep in mind that in order to get text on both sides of the page and the paper, you will need to format twice. Even pages will have to be formatted to right side of the paper and a second copy of the book will need to be formatted so that the odd pages are on the left… or vice versa.) Once your pages are printed and cut, folded, or processed how you need them for the size and style of book you desire then you can use one of the binding techniques from one of the pages provided below. So far all I have used is either the Japanese stitch binding or square bound (glued) binding. Both have turned out nicely and are quite sturdy.

At Zum Gali Gali Rubber Stamps or Bind It Fast you can find instructions on how to do the Japanese Stitch binding. It’s pretty easy to do, extremely effective, and it can be used to make both paperback and hardback books.

MothTeeth offers clear basic instructions on how to make a hardback book.

Perfect bound site one and Perfect bound site two both offer instructions on how to make a glue binding paperback book. This method is very easy and making a (very) simple book press wasn’t that hard at all. I'M SORRY TO REPORT THESE TWO SITES ARE NOW GONE.

Last I thought I would point out the San Diego Museum of Art. The Museum has seven different sets of instructions on how to make some simple fun books.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let's Get Started

I thought I'd start things off by pointing out a few sites, book, and such which I have found useful in expanding and assisting my reading world.

One book which I have found pretty handy is Cult Fiction by Calcutt and Sheppard. This really well done book is a fantastic in road to some of the more unusual avenues of fiction. There are many well known authors here but there are also just as many (if not more) lesser know writers. For each author a brief bio, quick overview of their writing, must reads, and similar authors are all supplied. I don't generally go for reader's advisory books because they don't tend to hit on anything I haven't already read or heard of before, but this one does a great job on mentioning some more obscure writers.

LibraryThing is a wonderful site which I use to keep track of all of my books. I can’t recommend this site enough. I’ve tried other cataloguing sites but LT does it the best with the best attitude. Unlike some sites it’s not free in its unlimited form, but $10 a year or $25 for life is extremely reasonable for all this site has to offer. As I said, there are other sites and will point some of those out in later posts, but this is the best.

If you're looking to explore genre fiction, then you must check out Fantastic Fiction. FF is also a great site for people who are completests. For each author they list FF shows a complete bibliography. For most they give the author’s country of origin and for some they offer a brief bio.

Next comes Complete Review. CR is an excellent site. It focuses mostly on serious fiction/literature and when it covers an author, it does so thoroughly. CR gives a short bio of each author along with brief reviews from multiple sources, a complete bibliography, and various other useful bits.

Of course now that the New York Times is completely free online, it’s always a good idea to check out their reviews for newer books.

If you’re interested in reading a book online Project Gutenberg is really the only place to go. Thousands of public domain books are available at PG for free. What’s even more incredible is that many of the books PG offers also have audio versions available on site and these are also free.

I think that's enough to get things started. If you have other great sites you'd like to share, let us know.