Sunday Status Update: February 7, 2016

This week, Drizzt fends off insult.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Drizzt: This week, whilst I was wandering in the wild with my most noble panther Guenhwyvar, I fell in with a traveling merchant of the dwarven race. Perceiving that he knew not with whom he traveled, I related some trifling history of my exploits. He said (and I quote, friends!) “oh, right, you’re that cut-rate Aragorn guy.” I couldn’t fathom what might drive folk of the goodly races to so castigate one who has often been their succor in time of direst threat, and I told him so. He replied that I definitely looked like a succor, which mollified me until this evening, when I found the “kick me in my pompous ass” sign pinned to the back of my cloak. And I offered him naught but courtesy! Why do these things keep happening to me?

Still, at least I know now why all those people kept kicking me in the ass.

Bill: This week I read Diane Duane’s Games Wizards Play, the tenth in her YOUNG WIZARDS series, which was a bit weak but moves this generally excellent series along. I also finished Unbound, the third in Jim C. Hines LIBRIOMANCER series, which was also weak, though the moments of recognizing his homages to sci-fi/fantasy works remain fun. Outside the genre, I read and did not much enjoy The Rooster’s Wife, a collection of poetry by Russel Edson; and Great American Prose Poems edited by David Lehman and which I did not find so great. Audio-wise, I’m into chapter three of The Fourth Revolution, and Mazan reread-wise also onto chapter three of Blood and Bone by Ian Cameron Esslemont.

Jana: This week I’ve been pretty busy, but I did manage to finish and review Lee Kelly‘s A Criminal Magic. (Spoiler alert: I loved it!) I re-read Cassandra Rose Clarke‘s 2015 novel, Our Lady of the Ice, and I’m prepping a review for it as well as a SHORTS review of “The Dryad’s Shoe,” by T. Kingfisher. I’ll be reading Jordanna Max Bodsky’s debut novel, The Immortals, next, and it’s an urban fantasy/mystery novel which is supposed to be especially appealing for adults who like Rick Riordan‘s PERCY JACKSON series. As I am one of those adults, I am filled with happy anticipation.

Kat: My job has been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time to read. (My job is also really rewarding, though, so don’t feel too sorry for me.) Over the past couple of weeks I’ve only managed to finish one book: Larry Niven’s The Ringworld Engineers which is the sequel to his award-winning novel Ringworld. Perhaps if The Ringworld Engineers was more interesting I could have gotten through it faster, but I kept putting it aside in favor of working on my new class. By the time you read this I may also be finished with Jokers Wild, the third of George R.R. Martin’s WILD CARDS anthologies which has just been released in audio format.

Marion: I finished Charlie Jane Anders’s novel All the Birds in the Sky and a review will follow. Anders’s prose is fluent and she plays with an interesting idea here. I think this type of story is part of a new category, and I’m trying to find a descriptor for it. This category would include Robin Sloan’s Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and the book whose name I can’t remember, with the linguistic virus and a woman main character whose father works for a print dictionary and disappears. The Word Something? (And no, I’m not going to go look it up.) Anyway, there’s a certain aesthetic these works share, and… I’m going to stop talking now.

This is not a book I read this week, but since the Hugo nomination ballots are out and people are checking out quality 2015 work, I want to mention it. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Patricia R Stiles edited an anthology called She Walks in Shadows, and it’s women writing Lovecraftian fiction. I won’t be reviewing it here, but check it out. It has some great short horror fiction, ranging from horror comedy to full on atmospheric look-over-your-shoulder-while-reading scary stuff.

Rachael: This last week has actually been a very productive reading week. I finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, a really interesting take on the time travel genre. I also finished YA novel Cinder by Marissa Meyer, which is fun, if a little predictable. And this morning I have foolishly just begun the first of Brandon Sanderson‘s epic ten-part fantasy series, THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE. It’s a commitment if I ever saw one.

Sandy: Moi? I am still on my Leigh Brackett kick at the moment, as I continue to celebrate the centennial of the “Queen of Space Opera.” Right now, I am reading Book 3 of her so-called SKAITH TRILOGY, entitled The Reavers of Skaith, and am loving it right off the bat. After this, I have a book of Brackett short stories lined up to keep this love fest going…

Stuart: I’ve been enjoying Jeph Loeb and Tim Sales’ Batman: The Long Halloween, which really captures the crime noir detective side of Batman that is absent from film versions, along with Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s more recent Batman: Hush. The artwork of Jim Lee is incredibly lush and sensual. Catwoman and Poison Ivy are very sultry and there are plenty of sparks with the Batman. As for audiobooks, I finally got around to Joe Haldeman‘s The Forever War (1974), his Hugo & Nebula Award-winning SF treatment of the Vietnam War. Good, but I was expecting a SF version of Platoon or The Deer Hunter, so I was a bit disappointed. I also finished Octavia Butler‘s first novel Kindred (1979), which is closer to Alex Haley’s Roots or Steve McQueen’s recent film 12 Years a Slave. Thought-provoking, but only borderline SF/F. I’m now listening to her novel Wild Seed (1980), the first volume of her PATTERNMASTER series about long-lived beings with telekinetic powers and shape-shifting ability that live among mere mortals. So far it’s exotic and unfamiliar territory for me.

Tadiana: A few days ago I finished ― and have actually posted a review for, yay! ― Lois McMaster Bujold‘s latest VORKOSIGAN SAGA SF novel, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Like A Civil Campaign, it’s a social satire with a romantic relationship as the main focus, and a pleasant read (if less exciting than most books in this series) if a certain startling disclosure in the first chapter isn’t a showstopper for you. I also read Susan Dennard‘s debut YA fantasy novel, Truthwitch, which had some good moments but also some frustrating ones for me, mostly due to an impulsive and obstinate main character.  I’m almost finished with Kate Elliott‘s YA fantasy, Court of Fives, an intriguing ancient Roman-based society that has competitive (and dangerous) obstacle course games in its coliseums rather than gladiator fights and feeding people to lions. Throw in a few SFF online short stories and Georgette Heyer’s 1930s-era mystery novel A Blunt Instrument, and I’m done!

Terry: A busy, busy, busy work week (two all-nighters!), complicated by a couple of migraines, means that I continued to read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold and nothing else.

Tim: This week I read more of Donaldson‘s Lord Foul’s Bane, and finished up with Brandon Sanderson‘s The Bands of Mourning on audio. I’m trying to work my way through a review now, but if you’re hankering for a very Indiana Jones-style fantasy novel, Sanderson has your back.

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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. Marion, is the book you’re thinking of “The Word Exchange,” by Alena Graedon?

    • Yes, it is the WORD EXCHANGE. I broke down and googled it. It was maddening because I could imagine the cover, and I knew the writer’s name started with A, but I still couldn’t access it. And I can’t use it in my fine new theory of a sub-sub-sub-genre because it doesn’t take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. But that’s the type of book ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY reminds me of.

  2. Tim – if I hadn’t already had Bands of Mourning on my to read list your Indiana Jones comment would have immediately placed it there!

    Tadiana – Kate Elliott is hit or miss with me, I like some of her stuff but most I just can’t get through. Court of Fives sounds intriguing enough for me to give it a try.

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