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Bookie Blog

07 Dec

Gifts for the Horror Junkie on Your Gift List | Bookmans

We’re thinking of twinkle lights, Nat King Cole and copious amounts of sweets, but there’s always someone on your gift list that is a lover of all things not so typically associated with the holiday vibes, and therefore we’re here to offer some recommendations for the person on your list that would squeal at a new horror fiction compared to cookbook. Feel free to peruse the following list of horror fiction recommendations as a source of gift giving inspiration for the horror junkie on your gift list.


02 Dec

Manuals for Manly Men: Recommends | Bookmans

Our guest reviewer decided to take a look at one of today’s most popular subjects – manuals for the man, or guides for the guy. These are titles aimed, supposedly, at making men more manly or maybe they intend to help men be more like men. Look at any bookstore and you will see countless titles aimed at women, purportedly to help them be better women. Nothing wrong with that – we all want to be our best selves. With the New Year upon us, many will indulge in that annual tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. Here is a light-hearted review of one such title, one specifically for men, Mark Dawidziak’s Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness. This review was submitted by Taylor Birkey who began innocently enough by looking for mustache trimming tips and fell into the land of Self Help. Here is what he learned:


28 Nov

Strange Things Make Great Gifts | Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

As we move our way into the season of buying, gifting and enjoying, that means you have the perfect excuse to enjoy and discover strange things, but of course we like them all year long. You could say that the unusual, oddball, hard to find, quirky and (dare I say it…) counterculture is our stock in trade. We know that strangeness lurks in every corner of our stores and sometimes it can be difficult to find that ONE specific oddity that you wanted. We want to help you be weird and gift weird this holiday season. We want you to find your personal weirdness niche so we created a Cool New Arrivals section. This section at our East location is right up front because we are proud of our curiosities and we don’t want you to have any further difficulty in letting your Geek Flag fly, especially when time is of the essence buying for the crazy cool cats on your list. We cull our shelves and our incoming titles for just the right strangeness level and we place them lovingly on our “Interesting, Unique & Just Plain Weird” display.  What can you expect to find on our Cool New Arrivals display? Titles that you won’t find anywhere else – not even at that kinda creepy yard sale you decided to check out but only found dirty clothes. Ew.

Strange Things

21 Nov

Cookbooks: Recommendations and Gift Giving Guide | Bookmans

It was bound to happen eventually. The nights are getting cooler, the days shorter, which, to most appearances, means that a certain season called FALL is approaching. In the desert we can’t be sure so we just believe what we are told on the nightly weather report, but we buy pumpkins and go on wearing our flip flops. Let’s just go with the assumption that it is fall and say, hey… you know what? I can turn on my oven now! There are folks who live in other places who actually use these oven things quite a lot instead of just living in one.

The enjoyment of food is a thing we understand after seeing the mouthwatering cookbooks we have in our stores. We decided to talk about them because looking at them made us hungry, and what a better time to get gift ideas for the upcoming and inevitable. When we read them we were amazed that we might be able to really make these foods we were reading about. Getting to eat delicious food is fun but what about the cookbook? Traditionally cookbooks weren’t actually cool to look at. Things have changed. Even if we weren’t going to make the food in these cookbooks we might still buy them and put them on our bookshelves – and that means the people they are gifted to will feel the same. We know it.

These cookbooks are eclectic, hip, bright, and pretty. They also cover foods that are interesting. So let’s take a look at what to cook this fall and how to gift the best cookbook for anyone from the diehard chef to the kitchen experimenter this holiday season.


07 Nov

In case you missed it…NaNoWriMo 2016! Bookmans loves words!

In case you missed it…

It’s that time again! The 17th Annual NaNoWriMo writing marathon is right around the corner. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it is an annual writing marathon that runs throughout the month of November. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days which began at 12:00 a.m. on November 1 and will end at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Whether you are an aspiring novelist or someone who hasn’t written a sentence outside of high school English class, NaNoWriMo encourages anyone and everyone to participate. Genre, quality, and experience don’t matter. The point is to get yourself writing as much as possible for 30 days.

Not sure how to prepare to take on a challenge like this? NaNoWriMo creator, Chris Baty, wrote the book, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, to motivate NaNo participants and other writers to stop stressing and get writing. The official website has numerous resources to inspire writers including writing tips, coaches, and community forums. The only rules to NaNoWriMo is that it has to be a novel and you can’t start writing it until November 1st.



Here are a few tips to help you reach your word goal:

Get ahead on your word count during the first week.
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days may seem like an impossible feat, but when you break it down it averages to about 1,667 words a day or 2-3 hours of writing a day. If you start early and strong and get ahead of your daily word count the during first week while your enthusiasm is high, it will help make up for falling behind in the third or fourth week which will inevitably happen as your enthusiasm starts to wane.

Attend or host writing meet-ups.
Writing with other writers may not seem like it would be very helpful when you’re all writing different stories, but having others around you can actually help keep your own creative momentum going. Other writers can give you suggestions and ideas for settings, names, and even plot points if you find yourself feeling stuck.

There are “official” local NaNoWriMo meet-ups organized by Municipal Liaisons (ML) which are posted in the local forums on, or if you can convince a few friends to try Nano with you, you can create your own writing group. My writing group, Plot Hunters, meets once a week at a local coffee shop for a couple of hours of writing and it’s extremely helpful in encouraging me to keep writing no matter how hard it gets.

This is going to be really hard for some of you, but it’s very important that you don’t waste precious marathon hours going back over what you’ve already written and editing. There will be plenty of time after the marathon is over to fix things. The point of NaNoWriMo is to get to 50,000 words, not necessarily 50,000 well-written words. The quality doesn’t matter. You’re just trying to get down as much of the story as possible in 30 days.

Accept that your story is going to be crap.
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional novelist, your NaNoWriMo story is probably going to suck. That doesn’t mean you should give up doing it. The success of running a marathon has less to do with finishing first than it does with finishing at all, and NaNoWriMo is no different. The goal is to challenge yourself to finish, not to worry about the quality. If you finish the marathon and decide you actually like your story, you’ll have plenty of time to edit it after. For now, JUST WRITE!

Ready to get started? Sign up at to track your word count as you go, see how well your fellow writers and friends are doing, submit your completed novel for word count verification, and browse the forums to see what events your local ML’s have cooked up to help you get to 50,000 words!


18 Oct

Transcending Time and Space: H.P. Lovecraft Lives On – Bookmans

There was an amazing, deluxe, leather bound book that arrived in our store called H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction that collected his short fiction and it inspired this blog. Lovecraft is synonymous with the top-notch horror and has been for the last 80 years. Any horror writer worth their salt has read Lovecraft’s work and been influenced by his creepy tales of the occult and mythology with it’s cosmic monsters and occult books that threaten the existence of mankind. People like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker and a host of others have looked to Lovecraft as the master of the 20th Century short horror tales.


Originally I discovered Lovecraft’s tales when I was in middle school after I ordered a small collection of his stories entitled The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Tales of Horror. At thirteen I was already a big fan of horror movies and horror literature but nothing quite struck me like Lovecraft’s writing. His prose had a certain Edgar Allan Poe (who is also a literary hero of mine) cadence to it and in spite of its lofty language, conveyed scary images of monsters and demons that left room for imagination. The scenarios that Lovecraft’s protagonists faced were truly bizarre and unsettling. I can’t say that I was ever really scared but there was always a strange and thrilling element to Lovecraft’s work.

14 Oct

To Review or Not to Review: Victor LaVelle, The Devil in Silver

I’ve felt compelled to write a review of Victor LaVelle’s The Devil in Silver after finishing it two weeks ago. But, for once, I don’t even know where to begin. I spent the first 75% of the book cursing it all to hell. Musing aloud to my coworkers whether I was even going to finish it and then ultimately picking it up again each evening because I couldn’t not find out what happened. Now, having finished it, I feel like I need a support group for the profound sense of “WTF!” I feel.


The story itself is very “A Clockwork Orange”, complete with mental institution politics and a sense overwhelming anxiety. After Pepper is brought to New Hyde Mental Hospital for beating a man up, he’s sentenced to a simple 72 hour “watch,” where his mental state will be evaluated. Why, then, is he still under lock months later? Why do patients keep going missing? Is it really the Devil that’s roaming the halls at night? If Pepper sees him too is he just as insane as the rest of the patients, or are they all unjustly being kept under surveillance? These are just some of the questions that battered my hamster wheel of a brain at night. Each time I thought I could walk away from the book, I just couldn’t. Each time I thought I maybe knew what was happening, I’d rollercoaster upside up and end up scratching my head like a dumbfounded Curious George.

06 Oct

Hollow Hills for Young Adult Book Club – Bookmans

Bookmans is passionate about literature and there are few things we love more than helping young people get interested in reading. To that end, we have a Young Adult Book Club which meets several times a year to discuss our latest reads, snack, and be creative. This past meeting Bookmans Speedway discussed Hollow Hills by Ransom Riggs, which we highly recommend. Earlier in the summer, our club read the fantastic Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Hollow Hills

If you are unfamiliar with the book it is a wonderful tale whose inspiration was old photographs found by author Ransom Riggs at estate sales, antique stores and attics everywhere. The photography was so intriguing, and often disturbing to modern eyes, that Riggs was curious about their origins. The vast majority of these weird pictures came to Riggs without any context, background or explanation. The often morbid images stood mute, unwilling to disclose their secrets. Author Ransom Riggs was left to create their stories on his own.

30 Sep

Banned: More Than Books – Bookmans Entertainment

With one day left in September we figured we would go out with a bang and highlight a bit more banned material. Banning doesn’t apply just to books. The censorship axe can fall on movies, music and video games as well. In fact any form of creativity, expression or entertainment can be subject to scrutiny. What is appropriate and for whom? Who decides?

Call us crazy but we kinda thought that it was up to you to decide what you want to see. It’s this crazy concept called Freedom, maybe you read about it somewhere, like in our Constitution. The root word of the term Freedom is FREE; as in unrestricted and of one’s own design. If no-one is forcing you to listen to that wicked Bob Dylan (yes, his music was banned) or making you learn code to create a people eating alien attack video game then you are good. Yes, we can hear the arguments and some are valid but only when they concern the violation of the free will of another being. We take censorship seriously, and alas the final episode in our Banned Books (and other things) Month.


Here are a brief sampling of music, movies and video games that have been challenged and/or banned. Some may surprise you while others not so much. However, ask yourself why? There is inherent bias in all of us. You might say that you can understand why Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar was challenged but in the same breath be astounded that Cher was also banned. Cher?? We loved the Sonny and Cher variety show, yeah her costumes were a little skimpy but it was the ’70’s!

28 Sep

Harry Potter: Fight Censorship with my Favorite Youth Series!

Bookmans fights censorship every day but especially in the month of September, we spends time promoting the right to read. In celebration of continuing our freedom to read, view, and listen to what we want, I was looking over a list of past banned books to help prepare an in-store display. Many of the titles jumped out at me as favorites from my grade school self; from scary stories to the entire Harry Potter series and even to Captain Underpants. These were all shockingly on a previous list of banned books.

harry potter

For me and a lot of others in my generation, these books produced a lot of emotion and laughter, taught valuable lessons all while triggering a mind of imagination. In a sense, so much that it helped discover an adventure for reading. Growing up the Harry Potter series was monumental to me! I remember the excitement of each book being released, and then begging my grandfather to go with me to be one of the Potter fans waiting in line at the nearby Barnes & Noble. (It wasn’t ever really that hard cause deep down I know he was a Potter fan too.)

23 Sep

I Wanna be a Cowboy Baby – Part 3 – Bookmans Entertainment

We continue on with part 3 of our series on the American Cowboy by guest local author David Grasse. We have covered some of the history of the American West, the practical aspects of cowboy life and now we will discuss how the legend and lore became so deeply entrenched in the imaginations of millions. Why is the American Cowboy such a powerful icon and how did it maintain it’s appeal? Author David Grasse addresses these questions.


12 Sep

I Wanna be a Cowboy Baby – Part 2

As part of our ongoing four-part series on the history of the American Cowboy, Guest writer and local author David Grasse continues his look at the history one of America’s most powerful icons. The history and lore of the American Cowboy is especially relevant to Arizona because so much of it happened right here in our backyards. Don’t be fooled however, the lure of the American West found it’s way all around the globe. So let’s look deeper into the fascinating origins of the original American Hero – The Cowboy… take it away Mr. Grasse…


30 Aug

I Wanna be a Cowboy Baby – Part 1

Arizona is a place ripe with history, and with local authors and historians. We convinced one of our favorite local authors and western historians David Grasse to lend us his expertise on the subject of Arizona history and the legend of the American cowboy. Today’s guest author is also the Vice President of our local and much loved Tucson Steampunk Society, member of the Arizona Historical Society, contributing author to The Journal of Arizona History – Summer 2016, and author of The True Untold Story of Commodore Perry Owens. The following is a multiple part series at the look into the life of the American cowboy, with origins history and myth. Enjoy!

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” – from John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962.

“And I wanna be a cowboy, baby…” – Kidd Rock, 1998.



He is arguably one of the most-recognized icons in the world. He is instantly identifiable by most the earth’s population from Bonn to Beijing to Bucharest. His cultural equivalent may be found in the European knights of old and in the Japanese samurai tradition, but he is uniquely American. He is the archetype of the American culture – the standard bearer of Americana – simultaneously revered and vilified. He has been the subject of countless books, films, and popular songs and his unmistakable image is utilized by everyone from rock musicians to heads of state. He is America’s enduring romantic legend. He, of course, is the cowboy.

20 Jul

History’s/ies Greatest Bad Spellers

When I was in elementary school I was held back. I can’t remember what exactly took place in class to cause my teacher to suggest I wasn’t ready for a third grade education but I remember there was a spelling test, and on that test I had spelled “dog” with two g’s. I’m still convinced I was making a Snoop reference, but whatever. The next day my parents sat me down and explained that I would be repeating the second grade. They softened the blow by reminding me that I would be in the same class as my younger, smarter sister. This was the beginning of my life in the bad spellers group. I spent the rest of my school days a year older than my classmates and repeating the second grade did nothing to improve my spelling skills. I constantly misspell even the most elementary words of the English language. Common contractions like there’re and they’re mix me up. I have to visually imagine the “They” and “Are” and how I remove one letter, a space and then smash them together with an apostrophe as an accessory.

I grew up with every resource my mom could get her hands on to improve my comprehension skills. Leap Frog, Hooked on Phonics and various computer programs gared towards getting your child ready for whatever the next grade level was. But nothing stuck. As I got older it became obvious that my intelligence and my spelling and grammatical faux pas (not making this up I just googled faux pa) were not one in the same.

Bad spellers


I am not alone in this. Many struggle with spelling though they’ve long surpassed their days in grade school. A director of marketing at a company could be notorious for her emails containing countless errors. An environmental lawyer who graduated with honors can struggle daily with whether or not “sentence” has an “a” in it. A well known poetic genius who has cemented themselves as one of the greatest voices of 20th century literature could spell “feel”, feal. Spelling and grammar, though important, are not a direct result of one’s IQ. You can be an avid reader who consumes a book a day and still misspell your friend’s names constantly. To prove my point here are just a few creative geniuses who like me can’t get a handle on the whole I before E except after C thing.

15 Jul

Bookmans Recommends: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

In the midst of our famous Tucson summer it’s typical for us to want to read a light hearted, mind occupying novel that allows us to escape those ferocious rays of heat. What you might not expect is to find a post-apocalyptic story to do just that. There isn’t a lot about a barren landscape with bleak promises of the future that take our minds off our desert home, however, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller was the perfect book to keep us glued to our air conditioned couches and avoiding all calls to go swimming.

The Dog Stars

After a flu-like pandemic wipes out nearly all of the words population including his wife and friends, Hig is left with his dog Jasper and a gun totting war vet named Bangley. As they defend an old hangar complete with functioning air craft, their days consist of gardening, scouting the surrounding area via plane and fishing in the river for what few fish have survived the warming waters. Hig is bored and miserable until he hears a voice come over the radio while out scanning for any possible intruders. What follows is the story of Hig as he sets off to discover what magic might still be left in the world. Told in the first person narrative we hear Higs story in his own voice. While many critics have ventured to say this was the biggest turn off, we disagree! It takes some getting used to. The punctuation is off, the voice a little casual and there are absolutely no quotation marks to distinguish the dialogue, and that can be tricky. We encourage you to trudge through these set backs and accept this story for the rare gem that it is.

12 Jul

Life is Funny – Humor Books

Bookmans is renowned for having a wide and varied stock. Our customers never know what they will find when they walk through our doors. The Entertainment Exchanges alone can fulfill just about any request, even if it’s just for a laugh. Bookmans stores have fantastic Humor sections that are a prime place to discover the unexpected. Our Humor sections include a wide range of titles. Everything from memoirs, comic strips, essays, how-to guides, photo essays, relationship guides and coffee table books make up our acclaimed Humor Books section. With some of the quirkiest and most unusual titles that are wildly entertaining but might not fit into any specific genre. Let’s have a laugh and take a look at some of the funniest and often most honest, titles in our Humor departments.

Humor Books

07 Jul

Bookmans Recommends: Everworld by K.A Applegate

The love of a fantasy novel stems from that first time you pick up a book in that genre. It takes you places that you never even dreamed of, never dared to think up and sucks you in so deep that some part of you lives in that world forever. That was Everworld for me. This magical new place that I had never known existed had been around since 1999 and was written by Animorphs author, K.A. Applegate. It was a tween’s dream. A coming of age story about the first signs of love, magic, other realms and of course out of this world creatures. The best part about this series is that each book is only about 200 pages long. A nice little #SnackRead (let’s make that a thing!) for the fantasy lover, no matter what gender or age they are.


29 Jun

History Of Tucson And Arizona’s Wild West

Tucson and the surrounding areas have a rich and unexpected history. In fact, the OK Corral marked what some claim as the taming of the American West. The tales of our state are legendary and surprisingly widely read by the world. Arizona is something of a renegade, with those who claim it as home proudly holding the mantel of freedom and the feel of wide open spaces. Many times those of us who grow up in this dusty paradise know the least about its actual history, wile migrants are fascinated by it. Possibly it is a situation where natives should stand back for a moment, look up – look around. Arizona is a rare gem indeed, home to species of plants and animals unknown in any other place. It is a sacred place. For those natives who have traveled elsewhere they find themselves unavoidably drawn back to the desert. In fact, it is an inside joke among many natives when we are faced with an indignant resident who claims to be thoroughly unenchanted by Arizona, claiming to leave at the first opportunity. We simply glance at one another and state “They’ll be back” – and they are. There is after all a reason why one of the longest running and most successful magazines in US history is Arizona Highways. So let’s take a look at the history of the region and the rough and ready folks who braved it long before Circle K and Walmart.

Arizona Wild West History

24 Jun

Making A Splash With Moon Mermaid!

There are many legends about mermaids and even a few dozen historical claims of supposedly “real” mermaid sightings. Hundreds of years ago, sailors and residents in coastal towns around the world told of their encounters with sea-maidens. One particular story dating back to the early 1600s, claimed that a mermaid had entered Holland through a dike. Injured in the process, she was taken to a nearby lake and was soon nursed back to health. Some researchers believe that sightings of human-size ocean animals such as Manatees and Dugongs might have inspired many merfolk legends. These animals have a flat tail and two flippers that resemble stubby arms — traits that may make them resemble merfolk. They don’t look exactly like typical mermaids or mermen of course, but many sightings were from quite a distance away and since they were mostly submerged in water only parts of their bodies were visible. A glimpse of a head, arm or tail just before it dives under the waves might have spawned at least some mermaid reports. Hollywood has their own take on Mermaid lore with such finery as “Splash” and “Mako Mermaids” However, we can assure you, real they are.


23 Jun

Geeking Out With Ready Player One

There’s one book that currently has every Bookmans employee geeking their socks off. It’s everything we love about the 80’s, science fiction and the thrill of a great competition. Earnest Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One has quickly gained top spot on the Bookmans Recommends list. Wade Watts, an overweight loner who’s only escape from the crumbling reality around him is plugging into a virtual reality game known as OASIS. Imagine the internet 10x and also on steroids and you’ve got the game that all of humanity is itching to play. When the multi-billion dollar genius behind the creation of OASIS dies and leaves the sum of his inheritance to the winner of a competition of his own making, all of the world plugs in. A grand hunt soon takes place as many, including Wade search for clues picked personally by OASIS creator James Donovan Halliday.

ready player one

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