Sunday Status Update: October 21, 2012

And now for something completely different. Books!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I read further in Orson Scott Card’s THE TALES OF ALVIN MAKER this week. I finished book 3, Prentice Alvin, and I’m almost done with book 4, Alvin Journeyman. This series is slowing down, just like Card’s ENDER WIGGIN series did at about this point. Much more exciting was Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It’s about a comet that hits the earth and destroys civilization. I also enjoyed the novella Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism by Mike Mignola (of Hellboy fame) and Christopher Golden.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I’m finishing us Labyrinth by Kat Richardson. Labyrinth and the previous Greywalker book, Vanished, flow together like one long story and I read them back to back. I’m also reading Nothing to Envy; Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick. This is a powerful and well-researched piece of journalism. It’s elegantly written, but the human misery quotient is so high I have to ration myself. The frontispiece of the book is a satellite picture of China and the Korean peninsula; with a gaping dark spot that is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There is no better metaphor than that.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Steven: I’ve been reading Trucker Ghost Stories, and other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road, edited by Annie Wilder and am finding it quite intriguing. The stories vary of course, as they’re a compilation of various personal interviews, but the part of me that still gets an eerie feeling when out at night in a dark area alone is fascinated. I’ll have a review soon. I’m still reading a story or two at a time from L. Sprague de Camp‘s story collection Years in the Making: The Time-Travel Stories of L. Sprague de Camp. Presently reading “The Gnarly Man” about a Neanderthal who has miraculously survived until the modern age. Not everyone likes de Camp‘s work, but I still do, possibly a nostalgic nod to his being one of the first science fiction fantasy authors I read in my younger days. Plus he writes about Dinosaurs! How can you not love that? On a personal note, the whole family actually got to do something together for the first time in years, going to see a local theater adaptation of Agatha Christie‘s play, And Then There Were None. Now I want to go read the original. The book wish list just keeps growing. On the graphic novel front, I’ve just completed Hellboy: Seed of Destruction and have Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others on deck.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I read The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson, and greatly enjoyed it; review to follow. I also returned to This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova, and am giggling madly as I read. I’m also trying mightily to finish Cassandra Clare‘s City of Lost Souls, but it just isn’t very good, which is making it difficult to forge through to the end. I want to get it out of the way, though, so that I can read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I read the first page or three (or four, or ten — not sure where I stopped, but it grabbed me pretty quickly), and I’m looking forward to complete immersion. I don’t want to see the movie before I’ve read the book!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I had a lot on my plate, but I did read some books. Oh, did I. It’s been one of those weeks where the book I’m trying to follow up on has been inconveniently located or on a piece of technology that chooses to run out of juice just as I’m preparing to settle down with it, so I’ve been juggling texts madly. I’ve read bits of Besieged, by Rowena Cory Daniells; Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, by Eoin Colfer; Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero, by Dan Abnett; and for some incomprehensible reason also Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert. They’re all fairly fun in extremely different ways (except, perhaps, for the ARTEMIS FOWL book — it’s the point in the series where Colfer‘s well was running severely dry, I think). Finally, despite my efforts to make headway on the graphic novel front with The Nightly News, I ended up reading Batwoman: Elegy instead. Ever feel that the books are calling the shots?

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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. Kat — I stopped with the Alvin Maker books after Book Three. All the delight and freshness that I found in the first book had leaked away and I was completely uninterested.Terry, I just started The Cloud Atlas myself. I find the second Clare Trilogy to be kind of flat myself. If, generally speaking, you like the writing, try the Victorian “prequel” The Clockwork Angel.

  2. For some reason, having 9 10-yr-old boys over all day yesterday for a bday party, laser tag outing, sleepover, got in the way of posting a status update. This week I read both Catheryne Valente stories set in Fairyland–great inventiveness and many lovely moments, even if the narrative didn’t grab me wholly. Outside the genre, I read Stewart O’Nan’s A Prayer for the Dying, an intense novel about a post Civil War town dealing with a devastating illness. I mentioned last week that Graham Swift is one of my favorites contemporary authors and O’Nan is another. Both are the kind of author I read everything by and the disappointments are very few and far between.

  3. In response to the others,
    I envy both of you on your first reading of Cloud Atlas. It rank in my top ten I think of books all-time and is absolutely and literally brilliant I’d say. I have the extended movie trailer on my laptop and watch it several times a week–can’t wait to see the film version

    Kat and Marion, I’m with you on the Alvin books. Loved the first two and then wearied of them. Too bad.

    Marion–thanks for the title on N. Korea–added to the wish list reminder.

  4. Kat,
    I thought Lucifer’s Hammer was a great novel, on a par with Earth Abides, by George Stewart. I guess novels like these and Stephen King’s The Stand are…what? Post-apocalyptic? Regardless, I remember not being able to put Lucifer’s Hammer down, and it’s a pretty hefty novel.
    I haven’t seen Mignola and Golden’s Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism, but I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

  5. Brad Hawley /

    I agree: Cloud Atlas is amazing. Now I want to go back and read it. But there’s Vance and Lieber and I STILL haven’t gotten to Icefall. You guys are killing me. Lucifer’s Hammer sounds interesting, too . . .

    Bill, I, too, am a fan of Swift’s. I think he’s one of the best living writers, but it’s been quite some time since I’ve read his work. What are your favorites by him?

    Tim, I’ve been wondering if Nightly News is any good. Let me know if you ever finish it and if you’d recommend it.

    I love the Batwoman books over the past few years, particular when Rucka was writing. But whenever J. H. Williams III is doing the art, I really don’t care what is going on in the story. His artwork is brilliant. Is there a review in the works, perhaps? I’d love to hear what you have to say about it (or Nightly News if you find it worth finishing).

  6. Hey Brad,
    Always nice to find these moments of authorial agreement, isn’t it? It’s all relative obviously; I’d take almost the least of his works over many authors’ best, but . .
    My favorite is Last Orders, which I absolutely loved. Close behind is Waterland, which I’m a huge fan of. I liked Shuttlecok a good amount and Out of This World a bit more. Wish you Were Here probably comes somewhere around Out of this World. He does voice, narration, and structure brilliantly I think, and I love his compactness.

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