Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil: The Creation, The Inspiration, The Fascination

disney_villains_delightfully_evilstars /5

This book is one part good concept, one part beautiful artwork and one part thorough research all whipped together with fantastic execution. Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil is broken down into chapters by themes such as “Oh So Vain” (Cruella De Vil, Gaston, and so on) and “All in the Family” (Scar and Mother Gothel). Included in the villain is concept art and photographs of the voice actors getting into character.

I loved the concept art that was featured, especially for characters like Gaston (probably my favorite Disney villain) and Ursula (and I must say, I like the final product much, much better than some of the first ideas animators tested out). We’ve all grown up with the final product, so it’s really cool to see how the character progressed and became the villain we all love to hate. It was also very cool to see the progression of animation from the earlier films to the most recent.

While the art steals the show, this book wouldn’t be what it is without the delightful gems of Disney knowledge that are nestled amongst the artwork. One of my favorite spreads was in the first chapter where author Jen Darcy reveals what villains were brought to life by the same actors as beloved characters like Winnie the Pooh and Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.

This is a book every Disney lover needs in their lives.

Originally published on San Francisco Book Review.


Veterans Voices: Remarkable Stories of Heroism, Sacrifice, and Honor

veterans_voicesstars /5

Like everything we have come to expect from National Geographic, the quality of Veterans Voice is second to none. I’m a strong proponent of photographs in any nonfiction book that is even remotely historical and I wasn’t disappointed here. Veterans Voices is divided by eight values that contribute to the legacy of the American military—inspiration, courage, resilience, duty, gratitude, wisdom, loyalty, and honor—and each chapter tells the stories of outstanding individuals who dedicated themselves to their country.

In the foreword, Bob Woodruff points out that all Americans should respect the military men and women who have served the country, regardless of their own political leanings. Despite the frequent political bickering that my household is subject to, I couldn’t agree more and this sentiment is one of the things that stood out the most in this book. The photographs offer a window into the lives of soldiers and veterans and remind the reader of what Americans should be proud of. Featuring images ranging from Civil War cannons to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to boot camp and Arlington National Cemetery, Veterans Voices ensures that the sacrifices these men and women have made for our country from the very beginning aren’t forgotten. A must have coffee table book that would make a great gift for any patriot (happy 18th birthday, little brother).

Originally published in San Francisco Book Review.

The Book

the_bookthree-and-a-half-stars /5

In the introduction, Pico Iyer points out that books maintain a beauty that transcends modern cover art. There is something that intrinsically speaks to you before you even open the books, something you can appreciate without even looking at it–maybe just feeling the weight of the pages when you close your eyes.

The Book is a photography collection that shows how books can be seen as and transformed into alternative art. It is a celebration of everything that makes a book a book – not just the works printed on the pages.

Some of the pictures are close ups of old pages that have been creased and folded until they no longer lay flat when the book is closed – the fibers have begun to fray and you can almost feel how soft they must be. Others juxtapose the human made nature of a book with forces of the natural world: water and fire. It evokes a string of emotions to see the waterlogged pages and the burning spines, but in the end you must acknowledge the alternative beauty in the images – even if it pains you to see books destroyed.

Originally published on San Francisco Book Review.

Fight to the Finish: The Denver Broncos’ 2015 Championship Season

fight_to_finishfour-stars /5

This book was my dad’s Father’s Day gift this year. He’s been a Bronco’s fan through winning season and losing seasons and, while I, myself, can’t follow a football game to save my life, I knew he would love this book as soon as I saw it.

Organized into a week-by-week break down of the Broncos’ 2015 games, fans have a unique opportunity to relive everything from the most trying to the most triumphant moments of the season. But the photography is really the focal point of the book. The photography is stunning. The images are crisp and carry with them the energy of the game, transporting you back to that game – looking through the book my dad remarked that the photos took him right back to that moment in the game. Somehow the images manage to capture the tension the players must have been feeling during the games and electricity of the fans who were lucky enough to be there.

Like any specialty book, Fight to the Finish will certainly appeal to some people (Broncos fans) over others (non-Broncos fans), but if you are looking for the perfect finishing touch for that man cave, this just might be it.

Originally published on San Francisco Book Review.

America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses, and Grasslands

americas_great_national_forestsfour-stars /5

The National Forest System is often overlooked for its big brother, the National Park System, but America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses, and Grasslands proves without a doubt that the beauty of these forests and other landscapes can be just as captivating as the National Parks. The book is broken into seven sections by region and then is further divided to focus on individual forests. Historical, geographical, and climate information is presented in simple language alongside beautiful photography.

Being a California native, I was immediately drawn to this section (1 state, 18 national forests, 1 national grassland, 21 million acres, 24.6 million visitors, so I was informed). The photographs in this section do a phenomenal job of illustrating the vast variety of landscapes that can be found in California and while I have explored many of them myself, this proved to me just how little of the state I truly have seen.

Although this book is better viewed at arm’s length as some of the photos begin to get a little fuzzy if you try to look too closely, the landscapes were nonetheless breathtaking. It’s safe to say I’ve added a few destinations to my bucket list.

Originally published on San Francisco Book Review.