Sunday Status Update: January 18, 2015

This week, Legolas returns.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Legolas: Journal Entry 3448968: Lots has happened since my last entry. First off, we left Lothlorien, which depresses me to a significant extent because I’d kind of gotten used to having regular baths again. And, more importantly, to no longer having to hold my breath when Gimli was upwind. Anyway, then a lot of other stuff happened involving some sort of Super-Orc race Saruman’s apparently been breeding (trying so very hard not to think about how Saruman apparently breeds orcs now). Merry and Pippin got kidnapped, Sam and Frodo evidently went up in a puff of cowardice (why exactly is this group so Hobbit-heavy again?), and Boromir fell in battle. Aragorn and I did most of a pretty decent funeral dirge for him, but then Gimli completely left us hanging on his verse. After all his boasting about dwarves and their misty mountains bold or cold or whatever. And he’s getting pretty rank again. Apparently battle does that to dwarves. Sigh.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: This week I finished up some reading that I’ve been excited about for a while. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, was devastating and hopeful and surprisingly informative. She’s so young and humble and courageous, and while I can’t imagine what it’s like to be Malala Yousafzai, I now have a much better appreciation for her life and her strength. (Spoiler alert:  I cried a lot.) On the fiction side of the aisle, I read Troll’s-Eye View, which is a collection of classic fairy tales retold from their villains’ points of view, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Some of the tales weren’t as strong as the others, but on the whole, it was very enjoyable. I also obsessed over every detail of The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (translated from the original Japanese by Patrick Thorpe), an encyclopedia of concept art, game chronology, and the history of the game franchise.  It weighs over 4 pounds, but it was so worth it.  I’ve been working my way through Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, a compendium of (what else?) troublesome words collected by Bill Bryson while he was copy-editing for the London Times in order to end the need for an all-purpose guide.  I’m up to the letter I, and as odd as it might be to say that I’m enjoying a dictionary, it really is a fun and informative book. For review purposes, I’m re-reading my way through Ray Bradbury‘s novels, beginning with The Martian Chronicles.  It’s an interesting challenge to think critically about books that I’ve enjoyed purely for entertainment’s sake.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews John:  I am gradually working my way through The Providence of Fire by Brian Stavely. I also flew through Ringo’s final installment in the BLACK TIDE RISING series.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I’m finally getting back to my normal reading pace after all the beginning-of-the-semester hoopla. I continue my quest to catch up with (and finish when possible) all the series I’ve already started before beginning anything new. I’m proud of myself for sticking with it for 3.5 months so far. This week I read Heart of Venom, the 9th book in Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series. I’ve actually read through book 11 in that series and I’ve decided to quit. It’s just not worth my time anymore. I finished Edith Nesbit’s FIVE CHILDREN series with book 3, The Story of the Amulet. It was cute, but not as good as the previous novels. Hawk, the 14th and most recent book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, finally marks a return to what I like best about this epic. The best thing I read this week was The Fuller Memorandum, the third LAUNDRY FILES novel by Charles Stross. I’m really enjoying these.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: This week I’ve been dipping in and out of several books. Non-fiction: The Irrestistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre, by Jack Zipes; and A Short History of Renaissance Drama, by Helen Hackett. Both are great, and for class prep. Fiction: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, ed. by Fairy Tale Review‘s Kate Bernheimer. This is a marvelous collection of 40 new fairy tales inspired by some of the classics. I’ve also read The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston, which is a thrilling paranormal romance intertwining ancient history with the present, and am in the middle of Wildalone, by Krassi Zourkova, a modern-day novel based on Bulgarian myth.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kevin: I’m a new reviewer and loving every part of it! This week, I’ve been particularly busy with school work, but I’ve managed to read some. I’ve burned through Brian Staveley’s Providence of Fire and Lynn Flewelling’s Shards of Time, the last book in her NIGHTRUNNERS series. I was rather sorry to finish NIGHTRUNNERS because I feel rather attached to Seregil/Alec at this point, but I’m looking forward to Flewelling’s other works. Recently, I’ve also read the first two books of Maggie Stiefvater’s RAVEN CYCLE trilogy and all of Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIANS. Next week will be even busier, so I don’t think I’ll have much time for too many SFF novels, but I will be reading Sun Tzu’s Art of War, some other nonfiction, and hopefully Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I’m about one-third of the way through Isabella the Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey. It’s a great, dense, well-researched book. I don’t always agree with Downey’s theories about the mental life or psychological responses Isabella had, but that’s a minor problem. Isabella was a well-educated princess (later queen) and was obviously smarter than most of the people around her. Given her devotion to Catholicism, it’s not surprising that she was great friends with people like Torquemada (the architect of the Inquisition is acting as a couple-counsellor for Isabella and Ferdinand as I’m reading now.) As great and interesting as the book is, one lesson of medieval/Renaissance life becomes glaringly obvious; never trust royalty.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Rachael: This week I finished Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and have now moved onto the SFF super combo that is Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter and their book The Long War (sequel to The Long Earth). And speaking of super combos, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman‘s cult novel Good Omens is being serialised on the radio. Hurrah.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ryan: This week, I finished reading Jeanne DuPrau‘s The Prophet of Yonwood. It’s the third novel in the CITY OF EMBER series, though it’s actually a prequel. All in all, I didn’t like it as much as the first two books. I am also reading Terry Pratchett‘s Sourcery (a Rincewind novel) and Iain M. Banks‘s Hydrogen Sonata. At work, I’ve just finished reading Machiavelli’s The Prince, Satrapi’s Persepolis, Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, and am making my way through Otsuka’s outstanding novella, When the Emperor Was Divine.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: For the third year in a row, I am involved in a Robert Silverberg reading project of sorts, taking in eight consecutive novels from this wonderful Grand Master, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday (on January 15th). I have just finished and sent in a review for his lovely 1967 novel Those Who Watch, and am already getting into one of his from 1958, Recalled to Life. Stay tuned….

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I finished reading House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter and headed straight into the second in the CRESCENT CITY series, City of Eternal Night. I’m a tad surprised at my interest in a book that is so heavily in the romance category, and the books clearly aren’t great literature or anything, but I’ve been enjoying them as a distraction in the midst of a hectic time.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This has been my most hectic week at the new job (at the local state university), though things should be getting more manageable now that the first official week is out of the way. I didn’t have much time for reading or anything else this week, though, really — I was getting home at nine most nights and going out again at seven the next morning, so I didn’t really feel I could settle down with a good book. Looking forward to less clutter in my schedule: I have a big stack of books waiting!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill:This week I thoroughly enjoyed Brian Staveley’s The Providence of Fire and started but eventually gave up on Daniel Price’s The Flight of the Silvers. I also read The Devil Is a Gentleman: Exploring America’s Religious Fringe by J.C. Hallman and Will Eno’s play The Realistic Joneses, along with volume one of Captain Marvel.

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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. I stopped reading Flewelling’s NIGHTRUNNERS series two books ago, but if she resolves it in SHARDS OF TIME, I may go back and finish it up. I’ve always enjoyed her writing and the world-building.

  2. Jana, sounds like I need to check out “Trolls Eye View”! Thanks for mentioning it!

    • I’d be interested in hearing your take on the collection, Kate. (And I definitely enjoyed Terry’s review here on the site.)

  3. Bill, which Volume One of Captain Marvel are you reading? “In Pursuit of Flight” or “Higher, Further, Faster, More”?

    • “In Pursuit of Flight” I’m deciding on continuing or not–I liked it, but it didn’t grab me. Thoughts?

      • Things definitely get more interesting in Volume Two, but there isn’t a Volume Three. (The storyline was concluded in a few cross-over issues with the concurrent Avengers run.) “Higher, Further” takes Danvers to space, where she meets up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and discovers some heinous plots–if that sounds fun to you, I say go for it.

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