Sunday Status Update: July 27, 2014

Chronically short on time this week, so unfortunately the character update is on break and will return next week.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews BillI’ve been traveling, hiking and camping out west the past three weeks, so I’ve missed a few status reports and also haven’t actually done much reading in that time.  But I did squeeze in several books between campsites . . . 

Two excellent ones:

Red Rising by Pierce Brown:  A rich and sophisticated dystopia that will be battling for my top ten list at the end of the year

Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb: Also going to be in the race for the top ten, though for wholly different reasons—a wonderfully quiet novel
Three very good ones
The Wurms of Blearmouth: An enjoyably dark and satirical novel by Steven Erikson set in his sprawling MALAZAN universe
The Boundless, another excellent YA adventure tale by Kenneth Oppel
The Moon King by Neil Williamson, a highly impressive debut
Two OK ones that had first-book issues
The Buried Life by Carrie Patel
The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson
I also continued reading Steven Erikson’s The Crippled God as part of the ongoing MALAZAN reread over at, several books on hiking in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and the owner’s manual for our 12-yr-old Prius to figure out what those flashing red lights meant just before it died on us as we traveled from Mesa Verde to Chaco Canyon . . .

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I’ve read mainly comics, though I am rereading on audiobook Grant Morrison‘s very insightful book on comics, Supergods. I’ve continued to read James Robinson‘s Starman and Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, both older well-written Vertigo titles. However, I’ve spent most my time this week reading three excellent comic book diaries by women. Between Gears by Natalie Nourigat is wonderful. It chronicles her senior year at the University of Oregon in 2010. I derived additional pleasure from her story since I was familiar with the campus and town (my PhD work was at the University from 1995-2000). I liked it so much, I read two other comic book diaries she mentions in her book: Emitown by Emi Lennox and The Devil’s Panties by Jennie Breeden. I highly recommend checking out Nourigat’s blog at

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews KatLou Anders, who I think of primarily as an editor, essayist, and publisher, has a children’s fantasy series coming out soon. This week I read the first book, Frostborn, and thought it was delightful. I’m looking forward to the next book. I also enjoyed Juliet Blackwell’s latest WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES book, A Vision in Velvet, narrated by the amazing Xe Sands. For something completely different, I re-read C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters which is a series of letters from Uncle Screwtape, a demon, to his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape gives Wormwood lessons and advice about how to win and keep the soul of Wormwood’s “client.” This is a brilliant and amusing treatise on human behavior. Currently I’m halfway through a re-read of Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Errand, the first in her TAWNY MAN trilogy. It’s been many years since I read this — it’s an old favorite of mine. I’m re-reading it to prepare for her new book, Fool’s Assassin, the first in her FITZ AND THE FOOL trilogy. I’m excited about this new chapter in Fitz’s life! (Especially since I know that Bill loved it!)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: This week I finished reading Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear, which provides an interesting look at human evolution. I also finished listening to Rogues by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to review it here. I have started reading Station Eleven, a post-apocalyptic novel by Emily St. John Mandel. So far, the writing is beautiful and the characters are nuanced; I’m interested to see where the plot goes. I’ve also started listening to Kelly Link‘s Magic for Beginniners. She’s a rock-star, and these stories are great.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews KellyI just finished Omens by Kelley Armstrong. I really liked it; look for my review soon. I’m still reading Nicola Griffith‘s Hild. It’s one of those books that takes a long time to read, not because of anything negative about it, but because (a) it’s quite long and (b) it requires one’s full attention to read. And I’ve just started Inamorata by Megan Chance

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews MarionI just finished Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and a review should follow soon. While I am not among the millions who loved it, I certainly enjoyed the story and the action sequences. Right now the rest of my reading is for the writing workshop I will be attending next week, although I am planning to read a story or two from gothic horror anthology The New Gothic.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I’ve been reading Graham Joyce‘s new novel, The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit. I’ve loved Joyce’s work ever since I read The Tooth Fairy, lo, these many years ago, and he just gets better and better. I”m also catching up on Nightmare Magazine.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I managed to finish up with R.A. Salvatore‘s The Spine of the World. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. For one thing, it continues Salvatore’s efforts toward stories with more in-depth characterization and artistic sensibility. On the other, though… well, it was a little tedious, which is not what one wants to hear about a D&D novel. Otherwise, I continued my assault on all things superhero by reading through Walter Simonson‘s run on The Mighty Thor. I was pleasantly surprised. Simonson wrote during the Bronze Age of comics (that is, the period directly prior to the modern one, when comics could still be aimed at children), so the flavor isn’t as grim and adult as one might expect from reading contemporary Batman stories, for instance, but it’s still very impressive (in fact, perhaps more so for its sense of fun and adventure). Also, Thor is turned into a frog. And it is glorious.

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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. Bill, I find that Toyota owners manuals have good world building and plot, but are a little shallow in the character department.

    Tim, I read somewhere that some Thor fans are shrugging at the “Thor is a woman” thing and saying, “He’s been a frog before. The Thunder God is flexible.”

    • Ha, I heard that too. Loki was a woman for a while that time. I think the reason it’s so controversial this time in particular is (oddly) that it ISN’T the most bizarre possible storyline. Rather than Thor metamorphosing into a female, some woman is just taking over his identity. I guess I can see the irritation, a little: what’s poor Thor going to be called now? Ex-Thor? The artist formerly known as Thor? Was Marvel so terrified at the thought of publishing a comic called Angela: Goddess of Thunder (though no, it won’t be Angela) that they had to give her a guy’s name?

      That said, a replacement ALSO happened in Simonson’s run, when the mantle of Thor (if not the name, admittedly) was assumed by a cyborg space horse called Beta Ray Bill! Not even making this up! Ahh, everyone should read this run… XD

    • You nailed it Marion. Though I’m willing to hold off on judging until the sequel . . .

  2. April /

    I really need to stop visiting this site. With a TBR list of over 1600 titles, I don’t need more book recommendations. Alas, I cannot help myself and I keep visiting and keep adding. Today I’ve added Frostborn.

    Sigh. I’ll never learn.

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