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Jolly Roger "book lover" (Burntwood, UK)

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Visions of Never: The Collection of Fantastic Art
Visions of Never: The Collection of Fantastic Art
by Patrick Wilshire
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.37

4.0 out of 5 stars A nice collection of artists., 27 July 2013
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Visions of Never is a nice book, well put together with the artwork well presented. There's also more in-depth interviews with the artists than you normally get although this shouldn't be too surprising since this is a showcase of six selected artists (Marc Fishman, Richard Bober, Paul Lehr, Don Ivan Punchatz, Robh Ruppel and Mark Zug).

Not all of the artists' styles are to my taste but that's a matter for each individual reader to determine, obviously, so I shan't bother to comment on the artists specifically. All I will say is that the large majority of this art is of incredible quality and represents a fantastic offering from the worlds of science-fiction and fantasy art. The interviews, though short, are also very good at getting to the heart of what drives and inspires the artists, as well as their feelings on the industry and other artists.

All in all, well worth adding to a sci-fi and fantasy artbook collection.


Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness
Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness
by Jon Ronson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work., 19 July 2013
I'm glad this isn't the first Jon Ronson book I've ever read because I doubt I'd have read any others if I had. I bought Out Of The Ordinary because I'd read Them (which was great), The Men Who Stare At Goats (brilliant) and most recently The Psychopath Test (another excellent read) and I thought this book would be more of the same.

Sadly it isn't, really. I think the mistake made here is that instead of going off to interview interesting people in interesting situations the author is instead talking about himself. Ronson avoids the pitfall of talking about himself in glowing terms but falls headlong into the other extreme of making himself look like a prat. In fact he comes across as a needy and annoying man who isn't too bright stuck in an unhappy marriage (almost every mention of his wife is negative). Worse; seeing the author through his own eyes like this has slightly coloured my opinion of his other books. I'm starting to think that this guy isn't a smart journalist with an eye for what's interesting but just an everyday dummy asking questions of the kind of individuals smart people take pains to avoid. This was an uncomfortable feeling considering I had held him in high regard as a writer.

I must confess I only got about 3/4 of the way through the book before I announced to an empty room "I'm not enjoying this" and put it aside.

The anecdotes are mundane, the humour isn't funny, the outrages are reported so blandly they seem written as such out of convention rather than actual emotion and, as I said, Ronson comes across as a bit dim and socially awkward.

But I must say this is only how I felt about this book in particular. Stick to his other books and you're in for a fascinating read but, for the author's own sake, I'd say give this one a miss.


World War Z -The Art of the Film
World War Z -The Art of the Film
by Titan Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars World War Z Illustrated Script, 24 Jun 2013
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My first instinct was to be a bit annoyed about this book. The reason being that it states, very clearly, across the top of the cover, that this is an art book. It is even listed as 'World War Z -The Art of The Film'. But really it's more of an illustrated screenplay. At the bottom of the front cover it says that the book contains the concept art and features the script, I'd say that it contains the script and features some of the art.

However I have seen books that have done this to a worse degree(the art of Star Wars Episode 4 was particularly annoying) and aside from, in my opinion, misrepresenting itself it is a decent and well put together book which does feature some of the concept art, along with photos and production shots, and presents the script in a nice and accessible style.

So in summation I would say this; If you're a lover of art books and only want it for that then give this book a miss (despite the alluring price of 10). If you like to get film scripts then you can add an extra star to my review because as a script book it is pretty good. If the people making this book had just been more honest about what this book is then they could have avoided a number of unhappy customers (as I'm sure there will be).


The Orientalists: The Orientalists - Painter-Travellers: 1 (PocheCouleur)
The Orientalists: The Orientalists - Painter-Travellers: 1 (PocheCouleur)
by Lynne Thornton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful little book, 15 Jun 2013
I was surprised to see this book was so small but it's still a great book, well made and with colour reproductions throughout. The text is broken up into small chapters of 2-6 pages each which focus on individual artists and showing a small selection of their work. for most it's just a couple of pictures but for the better known artists it'll be a few more.

It's good to find such a nice, accessible and well produced book on the subject. If you're looking for an introduction to the Orientalist artists, and want to see what their work is like, then it really is one of the best books around. People who are already well read on the subject, or have other books on Orientalist art and artists, will probably not find anything new here and will, in all likelihood, have books which show the pictures in a larger format.

Having said that; I fall into that description myself and I still found it an enjoyable and informative book with details on artists I knew little about.

If this is a subject you're only just starting to learn about, or have studied only a short while, then this book is almost indispensable and, if you can forgive the small size of the book, belongs in any Orientalist collectors library.


The East: Imagined, Experienced, Remembered - Orientalist Nineteenth Century Painting
The East: Imagined, Experienced, Remembered - Orientalist Nineteenth Century Painting
by James Thompson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not what I expected., 9 May 2013
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It's important to say, before I start, that this book is not what I was expecting so my review might be a little biased (although I will try to avoid that). I expected this book to be similar to the other books on Orientalist art, namely filled with fantastic colour reproductions of the artwork, but it isn't. In fact there are no colour pictures inside and it's mostly text with the pictures too small to be fully appreciated.

So that's my first little warning. Don't buy this book if you're just looking for a collection of great Orientalist art. There are much better books for that. For affordable books I can highly recommend The Orientalists (Academy Editions) and 120 Great Orientalist Paintings (from Dover Editions. This one even comes with a CD of the art inside the book). There are other fantastic books on this subject but it can be a pricey interest.

So what is this book good for? It's a great book for learning about the subject itself; Orientalist art in general but a good selection of artists in particular. It includes extracts from the artists journals and diaries along with good notes and references. Because of this, despite my disappointment when I first opened the book, I have decided to keep it because I don't have any books 'about' Orientalism rather than just the pictures. It is filling in the gaps in my knowledge nicely and giving me a a better appreciation of the subject.

To conclude: Don't buy this if you just want the pictures. Do buy this if you want to learn about Orientalist art and artists.


The Comic Cover Art of Dungeons & Dragons Volume 1 (Checker Publishing)
The Comic Cover Art of Dungeons & Dragons Volume 1 (Checker Publishing)
by Todd Lockwood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 34.27

4.0 out of 5 stars A good enough collection., 12 April 2013
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I was going to give this book three stars because the art isn't of any particularly great quality. In fact the picture on the front cover is the best one, really. But then I had to stop myself and take into account that this isn't the books fault, but mine for having too high an expectation. After all, the book is clearly called the COMIC cover art of D&D, so I shouldn't have been expecting anything more than comic cover art. My silly mistake.

So, what's inside? Basically what the book title says and if that's all you want then you'll be happy enough. If you want an idea of what the pictures are like then bring to mind the marvel and DC comics you'll have seen in the newsagent. Then imagine that style but for D&D. I know that sounds obvious, referencing comic covers to explain comic cover art, but it's important for you to have a good idea of what the art's like if you're going to have a chance of enjoying this book based on expectation. Even so, it's not an outstanding work and will really only appeal to true fans of D&D more than lovers of art. If you're not a D&D fan then you can probably knock another one or two stars off my review.

If you can get it for less than 10 then you're in safe territory in terms of value for money, 15 at the most.


120 Great Orientalist Paintings (Dover Electronic Clip Art)
120 Great Orientalist Paintings (Dover Electronic Clip Art)
by Carol Belanger Grafton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Orientalist fan finds no faults with Orientalist product., 12 April 2013
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I first have to confess that of all the artistic movements (some people say it isn't one, I saw it is), Orientalism is perhaps my favourite. I've been looking for a good and affordable book of this kind for quite a while and I was very happy with it when it arrives. OK, it's only 120 pictures but they are good quality (each picture gets its own A4 page) and the CD ROM is easy to use and has all the pictures in both large and small file formats.

There's not much else to say about this book. To use that favored phrase; 'it does exactly what it says on the tin'. So if you want good art at a good price backed up with digital copies... you see where I'm going with this.


A Soldier of Rome
A Soldier of Rome
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars A good example of why kindle publishing is a great idea., 1 April 2013
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This review is from: A Soldier of Rome (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this story. It's the kind of good fiction that works because you have no trouble believing it's not fiction, but a good representation of the human condition. Set in a well realised time and location I found this story very easy to dip into and when you consider that it only costs 77p, what's not to like?

Some people (mostly publishers, I imagine) said it was a terrible thing, letting anyone publish whatever they wanted, but this is cracking example of why being an author shouldn't be confined to those who can woo a publishing house while others languish just because their story wasn't what somebody was 'looking for'.

An enjoyable read at a good price.


The Umbrella Academy Volume 1
The Umbrella Academy Volume 1
by Gerard Way
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.45

5.0 out of 5 stars And now for something completely different., 12 Feb 2013
I absolutely loved this comic. I bought it quite a while ago and then left it, never getting around to it because I had my doubts that I'd enjoy it. I was a fool! The story is pure madhat brilliance and the characters are as off the wall nutty as you could hope. Sort of Avengers (or JLA) crossed with a dysfunctional family.

The art style is not my favourite but it suits the story just fine and the story is told with something of a nostalgic nod to Victorian adventure stories (something else I really enjoy).

A lot of fun, good action, great characters. What's not to like?


The Art of Blizzard Entertainment
The Art of Blizzard Entertainment
by Blizzard Entertainment
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 31.09

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beast of an art book, 8 Feb 2013
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OK, this book is BIG. Blizzard have finally opened their art department archives for their flagship games and the art is really, really... really good. It is, mostly, World of Warcraft art (which you would expect when you consider the number of releases for that IP and the amount of time it has been running), but it also features plenty of art from Diablo and Starcraft. The last few pages also includes art from games which never made it past the concept stage but sadly there isn't much of this because, as it explains in the book, Blizzard weren't very good at sorting their art back in the early days and much was lost.

Who is this book for? Well, fans of the respective games will like this book. Your liking will increase with each game franchise you happen to have enjoyed, so if you're a fan of WoW, Diablo and Starcraft then you will just geek-out over this book (as I did). Also, fans of concept art books would like this book but with that price tag I'm guessing there won't be many buyers who aren't fans of the games.

Any complaints? Just one, and it will sound like a weird one considering the size of this book, and that is there should be more of it. If the different games had separate art books released for them (as WoW has) then there would be more spread across all the books. Because this has been put into one volume you feel as though it's been edited down. So basically, what I'm saying is, I'm sure there's lots more art work for Diablo and Starcraft (WoW is well catered for in this book) and I would have loved to see it.

In Conclusion; is it worth it? Well, let's not pretend that it isn't expensive. But how does that price compare? It seems like a pricey book at first but when you compare the cost to other art books it actually doesn't seem so bad. Some art books are only 100-150 pages and happily charge 20-30, and then you have industry leaders such as Ballistic Publishing which charge 50 for a couple of hundred pages of (amazing) art without batting an eyelid. So that 40+ is really quite a decent price for nearly 400 pages of quality art in a hardback format. So the price is not, in my opinion, so bad (if you can afford it). Is the art worth it? YES. Yes, yes, yes. There is an embarrassment of riches of art in this book which will easily please fans of the games. But not JUST fans of the games. Lovers of fantasy and sci-fi art will also enjoy the work contained here-in.

I guess it comes down to a check list system. Are you a fan of the games? Are you a lover of concept art? Do you enjoy a nice big tome of a book which takes the better part of an hour to flick through (even when you're not really studying the pictures in too much detail)? If the answer to 2-3 of these questions is yes, then move to the final question. Can you afford to part with the money? If yes; buy it, feel happy and regret nothing.


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