Sunday Status Update: May 10, 2015

Character update on break this week. 

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: This week, for FanLit, I continued reading Hannu Rajaniemi‘s Collected Stories, which are enjoyable and imaginative. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it. Thanks to my local library, I was able to pick up the last three volumes of Y: The Last Man, with words by Brian K. Vaughan and colors by Pia Guerra (and others), which is a series that I stalled on at Vol. 7 simply because I hadn’t gotten around to buying the rest of the series. I love the premise (massive plague kills off every animal with a Y chromosome, save one young man named Yorick and his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand; strife and adventures ensue) and the art is wonderful, but the chapters aren’t as tightly focused as I could like, and I’m not crazy about some of the characters. Vaughan was clearly still working out his weaknesses as a writer. Still, it’s good to finally know how things will end!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: I am in the middle of an academic break called Queima das Fitas. If you look it up online you will see why no reading has been done lately. Let’s say I am having so much fun it’s becoming tiring. (I did get my copy of an omnibus of Stephen R. Donaldson‘s first THOMAS COVENANT trilogy which I am dying to read.)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: It was another rough week for me, but things should settle down drastically starting tomorrow. I did a lot of academic reading this week (mostly statistics stuff), interviewed for the job I’ve been doing for the past 12 years, and attended a wedding out of town. I’m visiting my Mom today. But I did manage to get some fiction read, too. I finished up Liz Kessler‘s PHILIPPA FISHER trilogy with Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter and Philippa Fisher and the Stone Fairy’s Promise. These are sweet children’s stories which probably won’t appeal much to adults. I’m currently finishing Undercity, the first book in a new trilogy by Catherine Asaro. This book breaks my 7-month string of reading only books in series I needed to finish. I’ve wanted to read Asaro for years, so I couldn’t pass up a review copy of the Undercity audiobook. I’m enjoying Asaro’s world.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: This week I’ve been reading Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow. It’s a middle-grade adventure fantasy set in the fictional town of Ratbridge, which has a large population of Underlings, creatures that live in the underground warren of tubes, tunnels, and caves beneath the city. (It’s also the book that the film Box Trolls was based on). It’s amusing so far, but I think I prefer the film, because I’m about halfway in and so far the story is very meandering. Oh well; it’s a fun, lighthearted read, which is all I can handle while I’m also grading. “Sumer is icumen in,” is what I say.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J Anderson. I followed that with another Hugo nominee, Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. It’s rare for me to find a book that welcomes me like a warm scented bath and a glass of perfectly chilled white wine, but that’s what this one did. There may even be some chocolate in there somewhere. I would like to review it, but I think Kate said everything there is to say. If you love court-intrigue fantasy with linguistic layers, complex characters, complicated relationships and beautiful imagery, this is your book. Now I’m reading The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, which is well written. I’m only into the second chapter, which is a fascinating look at the American mastodon and fossil hunting in the early 18th century – dovetailing nicely with Karen Joy Fowler’s story “The Science of Herself,” about Mary Anning, an 18th century fossil hunter.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ryan: This week, I began listening to Haruki Murakami‘s After Dark. I actually read it several years ago with a book club and am now re-reading it after having explored his other works. I still like it. I also have a bookmark in Emmi Itäranta‘s Memory of Water. Though it’s been nominated for several awards, I’ve yet to really connect to it. I’m still reading Kim Stanley Robinson‘s The Years of Salt and Rice, and the library just sent me a note that a copy of Jack McDevitt‘s Hugo nominated Coming Home is waiting for pick up.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Moi? I have been tearing through Clifford D. Simak’s 1967 offering Why Call Them Back From Heaven?, an excellent novel on the old “corpsicle” theme, and hope to get a review for this one out shortly. In the meantime, I have also just placed a review for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fourth Tarzan novel, The Son of Tarzan, into our hopper, for your (hopeful) reading pleasure.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: This week I finished listening to Fritz Leiber‘s Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death, books one and two of the FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER series. It’s great listening to one of the original ‘swords and sorcery’ series, which span an amazing 50 years starting with ‘Two Sought Adventure’ in 1939. Warriors, thieves, hedge wizards, monsters, beautiful maidens, and evil villains, what more could you ask for? Thanks again to Kat for recommending the audio versions by Jonathan Davis. I’ve also started a beloved classic, William Goldman‘s The Princess Bride, which has an even more complicated framing narrative than the film, since the book version is narrated by William Goldman himself, who claims to be simply abridging only “the good parts” of the book written by S. Morgenstern, himself from the fanciful nation of Florin in Europe. I’m sure we all recall Peter Falk reading the book to Fred Savage in Rob Reiner’s film, but it’s strange to think that kid is supposed to be William Goldman. Really enjoying this story from a new perspective, and definitely will have to watch the film again after!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry:I started reading K.J. Parker‘s The Two of Swords, which is being published serially, and it’s written in his usual no-nonsense, this is what war really is style. It’s not quite catching me yet. What really IS catching me is The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, which I started once before and put down for no reason I can now recall; I’ve gotten lots further this time, and I’m definitely hooked by the dark, mysterious tale of gods and librarians. Finally, I’m reading a small but very cool book called So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance by Gabriel Zaid, which tells me not to despair about all the books I’ll never read, because the truth is there are just too many, and isn’t that really sort of cool when you think about it? Yes, yes, it is.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week, I finally finished Peter V. Brett‘s The Skull Throne. Yikes, but it was quite the bloodbath this time around. Still quite enjoyable, mind you, but damn it, Brett. Did you have go quite so Martin on us? My heart… ah well. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ve been buried in an avalanche of work. Looking forward to the summer — after the students have left the university, I get to have weekends again! Ha!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill:This week I read the first two books in THE WAVE trilogy by Aidan Harte. The first, Irenicon, had some issues, but I mostly liked it, in particular due to its askew Renaissance Italy setting. Unfortunately, book two, The Warring States, was a bit of a step backward, mostly due to pacing problems. Also disappointing this week was The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris, which had great potential that was sadly unmet. Finally, I read The Carry Home, by nature writer Gary Ferguson, a moving work about the consolation of nature as he journeys to scatter his wife’s ashes in their five favorite wild places after her tragic death in a canoeing accident. Highly recommended.

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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. Hélène /

    Kat, I tried your”must finish the series I began” and read eleven books in Campbell’s Lost fleet series and spin-off in a few weeks! I’m glad I did it as the last books are better, more diverse. Nothing to do now but wait for the next one.

  2. RedEyedGhost /

    @Tim: I agree. I couldn’t believe that actually happened, even though it was highly telegraphed and I knew it was coming… I still didn’t think it was going to happen.

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