Book Review “Harry Potter Film Wizardry (Revised & Expanded)”

Author: Brian Sibley
Hardcover: 164 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 23, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, not a crazy fan, but definitely a huge fan.  This is the first time that I am experiencing the book “Harry Potter Film Wizardry”, but I wouldn’t really call it a book.  It is more like an amazing interactive experience. This book for the first page literally transports you into the world of “Harry Potter” and doesn’t let you go.  Every single page is not filled but jam-freaking-packed with goodies.  This book has recently been revised and expanded but I don’t know how it could get any better.  If you are a fan of the “Harry Potter” franchise than this is the ultimate item to add to your collection.  But even better if you are the causal fan or maybe not a fan at all, this will provide you with more information that you can even process.

This book not only covers everything you need to know about Harry Potter and the film series, but also cool facts like why Yule Ball ice sculptures never melt? where Galleons, Sickles and Knuts are really “minted”? How to get a Hippogriff to work with actors? The inspiration behind Hogwarts castle?  and Why Dementors move the way they do?  I can’t say how amazing this all is.  Being a big fan, I am always looking to find out new and cool things and this definitely delivers.  If you are wondering what is different with this revised and expanded, there is plenty new! There are additional pages included which cover the final two film installments.  There is also an exclusive, stand-alone photo album, with never-before-seen photos with the cast and crew.  Worth it just for the purchase a lone.

Author Brian Sibley is known for his work with the BBC, including serialized dramas for J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, C. S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  After handling those wonderful franchises, he is definitely the best person for this book.  He knows quality and delivers it. David Heyman, Executive Producer for the “Harry Potter” films, gives a wonderful introduction to this essential guide of the series.  You can tell that the book was written and designed in collaboration with the cast and crew that since it really takes you deep into the series and shares filming secrets, rare artwork, and other exclusive stories. If the book doesn’t look sharp enough it is also full of removable reproductions of props and papers the “Harry Potter” films.   Congrats and thanks to Harper Design, you just delivered my favorite “Harry Potter” book yet!


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Book Review “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard” (Expanded Edition)

Author: Matt Taylor
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Expanded Edition
Release Date: September 25, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Are you a “Jaws” fan? Are you looking for a great coffee table book? Then look no further “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard”, is the ultimate coffee table book. This book is no joke and is guaranteed to satisfy every fan of the film. This 312 page book, takes you into the making of “Jaws”, which was shot on Martha’s Vineyard in Summer/Fall of 1974. This has to be one of the best behind-the-scenes experiences that have been published in book form to date. I was aware of this book coming years before it was released and during its early conceptual stages. Since then it has really expanded well beyond what it was originally suppose to be and this expanded 2nd edition only makes this book even better. Be sure to check the “Thank You” section on the last page to see a few names from the Media Mikes family, as well!

Synopsis: The filming of the blockbuster film Jaws is regarded as a landmark event in both the history of motion pictures and the quaint New England island of Martha’s Vineyard, where the geographic isolation necessitated the hiring of hundreds of locals to work as actors and laborers. Among this virtual army of hometown participants were numerous professional and amateur photographers, each with full access to the production’s inner workings—for the first time ever this compiles their behind-the-scenes photographs and stories into a treasure trove of Jaws rarities. Included are a foreword by director Steven Spielberg, interviews with production designer Joe Alves, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, location casting director Shari Rhodes, and more, providing an unprecedented all-access pass to the creation of some of the most memorable and terrifying scenes in film history. This unique compendium is the first to focus on the production’s local participants, telling their stories at last.

The first edition of this great book was originally released in October of 2011. Titan Books is behind re-releasing this expanded second edition and did a great job (as usual!). I have to say I was skeptical about the expansion but this is actually quite decent consisting of an additional 16 pages of newly uncovered family photos and excerpts from the community that participated in the making of Jaws whether they were extras, stage hands or just watching bystanders.   After the initial release for this book, I am surprised that their isn’t more of a push for this edition, especially since there is a bunch of new pages and Universal’s just released ” Jaws” on Blu-ray this summer.  As a killer “Jaws” fan myself, I have to say that this is must even if you have the first edition of “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard”.  You will not regard your purchase for sure, I mean especially if you have more than one coffee table to fill.


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Book Review “The Jaws Log: Expanded Edition”

Author: Carl Gottlieb
223 pages
Newmarket Press
Release date: Originally released in 1975 / Expanded Edition – Aug 7, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the most influential books ever written about the daily ins and outs of making a movie, Carl Gottlieb’s “The Jaws Log” is a behind the screen account of the creation of one of the most popular, both critically and at the box office, films of all time: Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, “Jaws.”

A friend of Spielberg, Gottlieb was hired by the director to work on the script of the film during filming. As Gottlieb was also an actor, with appearances in such films as “M*A*S*H” and the Barbra Streisand comedy “Up the Sandbox,” he was also assigned the role of Amity’s newspaper editor Harry Meadows, a role that was quite sizeable in Peter Benchley’s source novel. The book begins with the conception of the film and ends with the successful sneak previews that “Jaws” enjoyed prior to opening on June 20, 1975. As Gottlieb says in his introduction, “This is how I saw it.”

Having sold over 2 million copies since it was first published (and by the stack of copies on my bookshelf I can honestly say I’m a proud part of those 2 million), “The Jaws Log” has influenced whole generations of filmmakers since its release. Among the directors that have sung it’s praises: Rob Reiner, John Landis, Rod Lurie and Bryan Singer. As someone that was on the set daily, Gottlieb is well equipped to recount and share the inside tales that have captivated fans for almost four decades.

As this is “the Expanded Edition,” originally published shortly after the 25th Anniversary of “Jaws” was celebrated in 2000, the book contains an introduction by Peter Benchley and an additional 25 page “Afterward” by Gottlieb updating many of the stories in the book. If you’ve never read “The Jaws Log” before, you are missing one of the best documents EVER published on the creation of a film. If you’ve only read the 1975 original, prepare to take a trip down memory lane while collecting a whole new array of memories to treasure forever.