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November 2010

Gift Certificates for Tarot Readings? You Bet!

Gift 1 Do you need a thoughtful, unusual gift for the holidays?

What about a birthday, anniversary or thank-you gift for someone special? Or perhaps you'd like to cheer someone up with a token of your friendship.

Now, you can order online Gift Certificates from for your friends, family and cyber-pals in denominations of $25, $45 or $85!

Gift Certificates can be used for Intuitive Readings, eBooks or items from my Shop. Click here for more info.!

-- Janet Boyer

Tales from Outer Suburbia

Tales "On a cold night last winter there was a fire at the house of a man who only days before had beaten his dog to death. Being a strong man, he was able to rescue all his belongings single-handedly, carryng them out of the burning building and onto the front lawn. As soon as he finished, a hundred dogs of every shape and size trotted into the flickering light from the surrounding shadows and promptly sat on top of every appliance a piece of furniture as if it were there own. They would not let the man come close and snapped at him viciously when he tried to hit them, but otherwise remained still, staring impassively at the flames." -- From the story Wake, in Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

In all the thousands of books I've read over the years, I can honestly say I have never seen anything like Tales from Outer Suburbia.

For those who appreciate idiosyncratic art, skewed (yet poetic) observations, and unusual presentation, this book will be right up your alley.

Geared towards children aged 12 and up (but prized by adults of any age who are inspired by utter originality), Tales from Outer Suburbia features fifteen "stories" accompanied by Tan's stunning, pleasantly strange artwork. One "story" is a public service announcement about making your own pet out of discarded items, while another describes a hidden world found in attics all around a neighborhood.

Stick figures roam the suburbs in yet another story, while a bizarre nameless holiday chronicles the yearly ritual of leaving one's most prized possessions under a decorated TV roof antennae for an enormous, blind reindeer to hook upon its antlers before leaping gracefully, taking the beloved objects with him.

And what book can boast that theTable of Contents is just as handsome and original as the rest of its pages? Well, Tales from Outer Suburbia can! The TofC looks like a plain brown mailing envelope with the publisher information as the return address, the mailing address serving as the dedication, and actual story titles represented by mailing stamps--complete with title, story art and page number (the page numbers being the "cost" of the stamp). Too awesome!

If your pre-teen or young adult appreciates smart writing and skilled artistry in various forms, Tales from Outer Suburbia would be a superb addition to their library. Adults who love unusual tales would also appreciate this 96-page book, as would writers and artists who would benefit from a delightful jolt of inspiration and whimsy.

Next, I look forward to reading Tan's acclaimed book The Arrival!

-- Janet

Mr. Shivers

Mr Shivers "'You take out part of you', Roosevelt murmured. 'Take it out and blow on it and toss it to the winds like dust, and you say, 'Find all the missing parts of me. Go out among the world and find the missing parts of me.' But instead of getting back what you lost you just lose more. Wishing is bad. Wish long enough and there won't be any of you left.'" -- From Mr. Shivers

Knowing genre froms certain expectations. Admittedly, I assumed this book was a rather straightforward story about a scarred man whose appearance and reputation generated fear and legends.

Three-fourths through the book, however, I began to wonder. I happened to glance at the spine and saw Mr. Shivers labeled "horror".

"Uh oh", I thought. Cue either deus ex machina or the devil incarnate or something in between--but supernatural, nevertheless.

Nothing wrong with this, of course, especialy if you know the genre going into the story (which I didn't).

Firs time author Robert Jackson Bennett reminds me of a tighter, more refined early Stephen King (circa mid-80s) or perhaps even old-school Koontz (when Dean used a middle initial). In fact, come to think of it, Mr. Shivers reminds me a bit of the book It for some reason.

Jackson masterfully re-creates the dusty, despairing atmosphere of drought-stricken, Depression-era midwest. His deft descriptions leaves you tasting the gritty red clay, hearing the clickety-clack of trains on rail, feeling the gnawing hunger and seeing the ashy billows rishing from the iron horses.

As with most horror, though, Robert Jackson Bennett also makes you hear screams, the cleaving of bone and the spurting of hot blood.

Recognizing Mr. Shivers for what it is--a horror novel set in the 1920s--I believe that Robert Jackson Bennett accomplishes his goal of weaving a compelling human tale against the archetypal tapestry of good/evil and life/death.

However, one aspect that didn't ring true was protagonist Connelly's lack of emotion at his daughter's murder; I'm guessing that the author isn't even married, let alone a parent--which could account for the lack of shown emotion. Sure, he and the guys are obviously bent on vengeance, but I just didn't see it/feel it based on any "showing".

A solid debut, I think Mr. Shivers heralds a promising career for newcomer Robert Jackson Bennnett.

-- Janet Boyer