Sunday Status Update: December 28, 2014

This week, a Mr. Kringle.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kris: Ugh. So many cookies. So much milk. Bloated like you would not believe.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: Is there any book that evokes that traditional Christmas feeling more than a K.J. Parker book, I ask? Which author, more than any other, is able to get across that idea that people are, in general, nice to one another, that almost everyone is kindhearted, and that the world is, in a sense, benevolent and inspiring? What, you don’t get that from Parker’s books? Weird. I am in wholehearted agreement with the tagline in Kat’s review of Sharpsthis definitely is a K.J. Parker book, and a very fine one at that. Since this year is about to end, I was thinking about what books I want to have read by this time next year, and while I haven’t gotten it down to a list, which is impossible, I think this year I am going to go for books that are, shall we say, meatier in content, even if that means that I read less books. For example, I’ve been dying to read Shogun by James Clavell and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, but their length has been keeping me at bay because there are so many more books to read that I can get through faster. I am here however to make a statement that by this time, next year, I will have read those books, along with maybe some Gene Wolfe, which I am also dying to read… and the MALAZAN books…and the VORKOSIGAN ones… and the thousands more that I want to read. Oh boy. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of many books to read must be in want of a lot of time to do so. I’m pretty sure it was Jane Austen who wrote that.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I had a lovely Christmas break with my family, including my two oldest kids who are home from college. We traveled to visit my parents, my brother’s family, and other assorted relatives. Therefore, I only read one book this week: High Deryni, the third book in Katherine Kurtz’s CHRONICLES OF DERYNI. I’m still enjoying this series.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: I haven’t really read anything this week, although I got some very exciting reading material for Christmas: Margaret Atwood‘s MADDADDAM trilogy, Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a few different books by Cory Doctorow, and Making Make Believe Real by Garry Wills. My partner and I haven’t exchanged gifts yet, so I’m still holding out for some SF/F magazine subscriptions.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: My Christmas read was The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. Kate and Bill reviewed this book here; I haven’t finished it yet but I am stunned, so far. The book is an honest meditation on faith, the missionary experience, and the nature of relationships. It’s powerful and painful. It’s thought-provoking. It seems unfair, somehow, to stumble across a book that might be on my Best Of 2014 list the last week of the year! Or maybe it’s 2014’s final gift.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I traveled to Chicago to enjoy Christmas with my extended family this week, which means that I got in a fair bit of reading on the trips from and to Sacramento. I’ve just about finished The Just City by Jo Walton, which is a gem, full of philosophy and idealism and how it all goes wrong. I also started Daniel Jose Older’s Half-Resurrection Blues, a nice twist on the urban fantasy.  I’ve just barely started Anthony Ryan‘s Blood Song, a huge epic that will fill that hole in my recent reading very nicely. And just because I love anything that has anything to do with libraries, I started The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, which promises to be full of more blood and guts than your average library — by a long shot.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: Most of the week was all Christmas, all the time, but I did read part of Terry Pratchett‘s Hogfather (’tis the season) and also some of Mort, by the same author. Finally, I read Kieron Gillen‘s THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE: THE FAUST ACT. I enjoyed all three quite a bit.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: Since the last Sunday Status, I polished off the grading and was thus able to turn to some serious reading time finally. Included in that were:

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu: some neat ideas and images but clumsily written with weak characterization

Dracula by John Green: a graphic novel for YA that had some decent artwork but a very disappointing text.

City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison, with Scot and David Tipton and illustrated by J.K. Woodward: a very strong graphic version of Ellison’s original Star Trek teleplay.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown: a strong follow-up to Brown’s fantastic Red Rising

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter: a novel involving two mysterious disappearances, one contemporary and the other 125 years ago. The book has its flaws, but the lyrical language and the mostly nicely executed use of first-person plural via a group of ghostly presences outweighed the problems.

Blue Yodel by Ansel Elkins: a collection of poetry that like most collections varies in quality. Some language was disappointingly mundane/clichéd, but still some striking lines/images in here

The Next Species by Michael Tennesen: a well-written look at the history of life on our planet, how it’s been affected by our human presence, and how our absence might impact it as well if we disappear, as well as examining the various ways homo sapiens might diverge into new species rather than simply go extinct. Informative and engaging.

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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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  1. Terry, what is The Library at Mount Char about? (I know I could research it, but I’d rather read it from you.)

  2. I can’t say I’m really sure just yet. It’s a dark fantasy, no doubt about that — it might even slip over into horror. But so far it’s about a library of stupendous power that the Father has drawn children in to curate — they must each master a particular section of the library. “Mastering” a section requires some very special and magical skills, including being able to talk to animals, to raise the dead, and so on. None of the librarians seems to be tied to time in any way, or to be entirely human anymore, either. I’m curious to find where all of this is going.

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