Sunday Status Update: December 31, 2017

Happy New Year’s, everyone!

Bill:After two solid weeks of paper reading, the grades went in and the books came out!  This past week’s print books were:
The Girl in the Tower: I enjoyed Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but liked the sequel much better

The Power: I came to Naomi’s Alderman’s Atwood-tinged book  for its premise (women begin to exhibit electrical power) and stuck for its characterization

Superwoman: Gender, Power, Representation: a sharply written examination of gender in the superhero world (print and media) via Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Padme/Leia, X-Women, Buffy, and Captain and Ms. Marvel

Crucible of Faith: an interesting look by Philip Jenkins at the formation of the Judeo-Christian faiths between 250-50 B.C.

Year of the Geek: James Clarke’s calendar-organized book of sci-fi facts is a fun trivia book, though the “infographics” too often obscured more than enlightened

Cloudia and Rex, written by Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas and drawn by Daniel Irizarri: a graphic story that didn’t do much for me with regard to narrative or art

In audio I finally finished Frank Trentmann’s fascinating (but massive) Empire of Things: How We Became of World of Consumers from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First

In media, my son and I saw The Last JediI liked it better than the prior one, but not as much as Rogue One, mostly due to a few plot holes, some muddled thematic work, and a reliance on people not talking to each other (always a pet peeve of mine). We also just caught up on Marvel Agents of Shield (really liking this season), The Gifted (good pre-break episode) and Runaways (still enjoying it but getting a little worried)

Currently reading Elizabeth Tasker’s The Planet Factory: Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth and listening to Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Brad: This week I am reading Comic Book Nation by Bradford Wright, and I’m listening to Spoonbenders because of the positive reviews on our site. I’m also enjoying comics, as always: The Black Hammer and Sweet Tooth are both excellent books by Jeff Lemire. Dept. H. by Matt Kindt is amazingly beautiful and well-written. I’m also almost half-way through the old Batman event No Man’s Land. Finally, I’m just getting into the long graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, and it is living up to all the hype (it’s currently available on Comixology Unlimited, by the way).

Jana: This week I spent most of my free time reading books that magically appeared beneath my Christmas tree thanks to Father Christmas and his hardworking minions. So that meant I learned some fascinating herbology tidbits (Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart), laughed a lot (Big Mushy Happy Lump, by Sarah Andersen), felt nostalgic and a bit sad (Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher), and happy-cried (The Answer, by Rebecca Sugar). For Fantasy Literature, I paged through Simon Guerrier’s Doctor Who: The Book of Whoniversal Records, which wasn’t my cup of tea but will probably make trivia-loving Whovians quite happy. Next up on the docket are Sarah Tarkoff’s YA trilogy-starter Sinless and possibly A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, since it’s always a good idea to start a new year with silliness. Reviews to come.

Kat: Recently I’ve read some of the EXPANSE novellas by James S.A. CoreyThe Vital AbyssGods of Risk, and The Churn. These are good stand-alone stories as well as nice additions to the EXPANSE universe. I’ll post reviews in an upcoming SHORTS column. I also read Jacqueline Carey‘s novel Banewreaker which was a nice work of art, but not very engaging. I finally got around to reading Katherine Paterson’s The Bridge to Terabithia, a famous children’s novel with unexpected plot elements.

Marion: I read Secondhand Souls by Christopher MooreCreatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer, and the cocktail flash-fiction anthology Mixed Up, which was edited by Nick Mamatas and Molly Tanzer. The anthology was like most, a mixed bag, but the cocktail lore included in it was tasty, un intended. If you are actually a cocktail-party person, this would be a fun book to read selections from (it’s flash) at least early in the evening, when you still can read. Now I’m reading In the Wake of the Plague; the Black Death and the World it Made by Norman Cantor (2002), because I like to read something uplifting during the holidays. Ha, no. It’s an historical survey of how the first incidence of the plague in the mid-14th century changed society. Cantor’s prose is inelegant to the point of being clunky at times, and it’s hard to swallow his smug sense of superiority from his exalted perch way up here in the 21st century, but the book’s filled with interesting stuff.

Stuart: It was our first Christmas holiday in England, and it’s been very enjoyable staying warm and cozy at home, watching the birds and squirrels in the garden, reading and watching movies with the family, and of course a lot of really good British holiday treats, like mince pies, Christmas pudding, glazed ham, all sorts of cheeses, spreads and crackers, frequent cups of tea with Scottish shortbread, and then regular dog walks to the park to try to burn off some of those calories; As for audiobooks, I finished Terry Pratchett‘s Small Gods, which was excellent, but am a bit at a loss of how to approach the rest of the DISCWORLD series. I remember asking FanLit reviewers a while back and was told to start with the witches, death, or guards subseries, which one of my coworkers also echoed, but I’m the type who likes to go in order, though I don’t know if I should attempt all 41 volumes. It’s amazing that I haven’t read them before considering how incredibly popular the series has been for many decades. I love British humour so maybe 2018 is the right year to dive in.

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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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One comment

  1. Looks like everyone is back in the reading flow after the holidays, and with a very eclectic blend of SFF, non-SF literature, and non-fiction books as well. I guess hungry minds are never satisfied. I forget to add that I am now midway through Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honor, as I’ve wanted to revisit the Miles Vorkosigan saga for ages, and you have to start with that one. Then I’ll probably finish off Robert Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities trilogy with City of Miracles.

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