Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Vol. 1 by Philip K. Dick, Tony Parker

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Review: A graphic adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, the novel that served as an inspiration for the movie Blade Runner. However, I wouldn’t call it a graphic novel exactly; it feels more like an illustration in the style of a graphic novel. The difference is that there’s a lot more text that appears to be lifted exactly from the book (I didn’t check this, but it felt like everything was there, included the “He responded absently” after the dialog balloons). It’s a bit distracting.

This adaptation seems to be particularly directed at those who have seen and loved the movie but who aren’t aware of the original material. For me, having seen the movie and read the book, this adaptation didn’t bring anything new. The artwork is ok, but very straightforward – I was expecting something more experimental and daring. The cover gallery at the end, however, is gorgeous, and I fell in love with the Collector’s Paradise Exclusive by Scott Keating.

Overall, this is a nice read, but not unmissable if you’ve read the original novel.

A Sociedade Literária da Tarte da Casca de Batata by Mary Ann Schaffer

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Review: I came across this book a year ago, in a meeting with fellow readers – not exactly a book club, just a community of readers and friends who get together for their love of fantasy and literature – in which we exchanged books with one another. I had never heard of this book and had no idea what it was about, and I have to admit, its title didn’t help (whatever a potato peel pie is, it must be dreadful). Now, more than a year later, I decided to give it a go, and it’s nice that a book about the power of books to pull people together should have reached my hands this way.

I knew little about the occupation of Guernsey during WWII, and in my opinion one can never know enough about these things. Humanity seems to forget easily, and those of us who didn’t live through the war should know what it was like. The stories about the survivors and the history of the place were easily the best part of the book, together with all the literary references.

Other parts I didn’t like so much. The writing style didn’t convince me as 1946 writing, but then again, I’m not exceptionally savant in those things and may be wrong. But the fact that it was written in epistolary form, although fun at times, didn’t convince me, as all the letters sounded like they were written by the same person. At least they weren’t ridiculously long, like I’ve seen in other epistolary novels.

Still, this was an entertaining read, with some funny and touching moments.

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Review: A book on business model innovation and how important that is for businesses n today’s economic and technological climate.

I was torn between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. On one hand, it’s a visually beautiful book which introduces some thought-provoking and useful tools, like the Business Model Canvas. On the other hand, for most subsequent chapters I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again, with slight changes in the details. In the end, it was useful but not as informative as I would like it to be.

Still, it’s a good book for beginners, and a gorgeous one at that, and one can’t help getting caught up in the genuine excitement the authors seem to have for business model innovation.

The Boys Vol.1: The Name of the Game by Garth Ennis

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Review: That was… Interesting, I suppose.

A story about a CIA-backed brigade of people who are supposed to keep superheroes in check, because apparently all superheroes are vicious, murderous rapists, and just all-around horrible human beings. And the only way to fight them is to get an equally vicious group of regular humans who hate them, give them a compound that effectively turns them into superheroes as well (the irony of the situation!), and unleash them upon the “supes” to remind them who’s boss.

I guess I just don’t see the appeal of extremely gratuitous revenge stories like this, where most of the characters end up acting like caricatures of themselves, with only a couple of them being believably human. I’ll still read the second volume to see if it gets any better, as some of the characters have potential… But I’m not keeping my hopes up.

Amados Gatos by José Jorge Letria

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Review: Amados Gatos, or “Beloved Cats”, is book of short stories inspired by the cats of various famous people, mainly writers. The stories portray a deeply intimate, symbiotic relationship that I suspect people who don’t have and love cats will have trouble understanding. I adore cats and have felt exactly what it means to have them as companions, so while I enjoyed reading this book, I do wish the author had balanced the nostalgic, sometimes tragic tales with a little bit of the happiness he would sometimes mention, but which remained largely unexplored.

For those that are interested in the relationship between writers and their cats, I recommend this website: “Writers and Kitties“, which is sort of like this book in pictorial form, while also showing that look of pride and love most people have when they’re with their cats.

Madame Xanadu vol.1: Disenchanted by Matt Wagner

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Review: Lovely artwork from Amy Reeder Hadley. The story was interesting, but Madame Xanadu, as a character, fell a little short of my expectations. I felt that she had the potential to be a lot more interesting, not to mention likable. The Phantom Stranger was simply annoying and had a serious lack of communication skills, but then again, I’ve never been a fan of these brooding, mysterious character types. Still, the story was good and I enjoyed reading about how the story of Madame Xanadu (or Nimue) entangled with the stories of other DC characters, as well as with historical events such as the French revolution.

P.S. In the Marie Antoinette chapter, I was a little irked by the errors in the French sentences. “Le Madame”? “Les belle dames”? Hmm.

Exhibition Design by Philip Hughes

Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Review: This book aims to be a thorough guide to the principles of exhibition designing, from trade fairs to museums and galleries.

While it touches upon many interesting themes, I felt that it was lacking in several areas – the information is a bit disorganized and for the most part it doesn’t go into detail about the things that are being explained. A lot of the schematics, while visually impressive, lacked explanations and context, and most of the times the labels were so small they were unreadable. But the biggest problem I had with the book is that it makes no apparent separation between trade / commercial exhibitions and art exhibitions. Say what you will, I’m not so cynical as to think that what you’re hoping to reach with an art exhibition in a museum is the same as from a trade fair exhibition where you sell products.

Still, this was fairly useful in giving an introduction to aspects of design I didn’t know a lot about.