Sunday Status Update: October 26, 2014

This week, Denna from the Kingkiller Chronicle.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Denna: No time for reading things this week. Kvothe somehow managed to get attacked by pirates, so Tehlu only knows where he’ll pop up next. Had to squeeze the patron for a few coins (not literally, ugh. I get such an odd feeling of looming evil and incipient tragedy whenever I get near him for some funny reason) to scrounge enough money to take ship. I swear, Kvothe had better be appreciating all of this.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: I read a few good comic books this week, but I’m going to mention only one, so you’ll remember it. Better yet, just go buy it. It’s an incredible YA fantasy comic book: Two young girls, fleeing princesses, on the run from murderous relatives and accompanied by an Aslan-like creature made of fire. One, a hesitant-young lady in a dress; the other, her protector, a bold tomboy with a magic sword. The graphic novel is comprised of episodic tales, each one drawn by a separate artist who seems to outdo the one before her. However, the guiding voice behind all the stories of Spera is the single author Josh Tierney. The three volumes currently available can be found on Comixology, but if you can track down physical copies of the books, they’ll find a treasured place on your bookshelf. Your only regret will be that they didn’t exist for you to read as a child. Along with Bone, they are in the top five comic books of all time created for kids. I made my twelve-year-old daughter read the first few pages, and then she couldn’t stop reading. Have I got your attention yet? Spera. I was going to write a review. I think I just did.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Joao: I am currently on a mission to read every K.J. Parker book published. I picked up The Folding Knife on a whim a month ago and loved her unique voice so much that joining The Invincible Sun (a religion from her world) seems like a very tempting idea. I am almost finished with The Company and should start with Sharps as soon as my copy arrives. I’ve also begun reading Jonathan Straham’s Fearsome Journey anthology so I could read bite-sized chunks of prose from some authors I have yet to get around to. While in theory I should be devouring this, I am finding it incredibly hard to actually pick it up and do it. It’s not you, it’s me. The other reading mission, which I will embark upon in November, is to get up to speed with the classics. The team here at Fantasy Literature has been discussing which SFF books should be considered essential reads, and I am planning to go through each one so that I have a better understanding of the history and influences of current SFF books.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I’m still working on my challenge to myself to finish or catch up on all the series I’ve started before moving on to something new, though this resolution was sorely tested this week when Penguin Audio sent me copies of the first two books in Tad WilliamsOTHERLAND series. I will no doubt succumb to their temptation sometime very soon, probably when books three and four come out next month. Meanwhile, though, I quest on, and this week have read books two and three in Madeleine L’Engle’s TIME QUINTET: A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Despite the fact that A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books when I was a kid, I never read the sequels. I’m glad to finally be fixing that problem. I also read books eight and ten of Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series: Deadly Sting and The Spider. I’ve skipped book nine for now because I don’t have a copy and because book ten is a prequel anyway. Then I read Vergil in Averno, the second book in Avram Davidson’s VERGIL MAGUS trilogy (this was not as good as the first book The Phoenix and the Mirror) and I read the final book in Fritz Leiber’s LANKHMAR stories: The Knight and Knave of Swords. I believe I have now read all of Leiber’s stories about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Fafhrd is one of my favorite fantasy heroes, so I’m kind of sad that it’s over. I’m sure this is why it took me so long to read the final book.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: It’s been another difficult week with little time for reading. Still, I’ve finished up the November issues of Fantasy Magazine and Nightmare Magazine — the Women Destroy issues — and hope to have reviews up on Monday. I’ve also started Sarah Pinborough‘s Poison, which so far seems like a significant departure from her horror novels. I’m curious how this retelling of Snow White will turn out.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: Guh, this week seemed to go by much too quickly, between work and other matters. Well, I read my first substantial portion of a manga this week — the first volume of Vagabond, by Takehiko Inoue. I admit I had a little trouble reading a book in the opposite direction from usual at first, but it smoothed out over time. The style was interesting — very cinematic — but I didn’t find the story engaging enough to make me go looking for volume two.

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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. Joao, really, you’re going to read all 412 books on our “essential” list? Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. It’s only about 103 books.

    I finished HIDE ME AMONG THE GRAVES by Tim Powers, and spent most of the week dipping into Neil Gaiman’s anthology FRAGILE THINGS, largely because I had a craving to re-read “October in the Chair.” I had forgotten how many good and strange stories were in that collection.

    • Brad Hawley /

      I LOVE “October in the Chair”! Have you heard him read it? It’s fantastic! I think I have all the books Gaiman narrates. I just picked up Coraline because it’s on sale. Perhaps other Gaiman audible books are on sale right now? I think audible is having a major Halloween sale. I love his little story about Loki and Norse Mythology: Odd and the Frost Giants. Even if you aren’t a fan of audio books, you’ve gotta hear that one! Even my very talkative nine-year-old son was dead silent for full one hour and forty-five minutes of the reading!

      By the way, remember that if you purchase a digital book via Amazon FIRST, the price may go down on the Audible book so much that the price of the digital book PLUS the audible book is less (often much less) than the audible book by itself. Some of the old SF and Crime Fiction pulp books I own digitally reduce the price of the audible book down to $1.99-$3.99.

      How to check: Go to the Kindle digital book on Amazon’s home page (not through an app). The Amazon web page will show you how much the audible book is after buying the digital book. You’ll be surprised at the bargains you can get this way. (I’ve saved so much money this way I thought my credit cards would be paid off by now, but apparently it does’t work that way. Hmmmm. Something’s off with my logic.)

      (Marion, I’m responding to you here, because you mentioned Gaiman, but I know that you know all this stuff, but I thought somebody else out there might benefit, so I’m rambling on . . .)

      Thanks for your third Locke and Key review, by the way!

    • My current list( stands at 77 books (not including sequels, it only includes first books in a series) and it’s not final so who knows what will happen once the official list comes out *hint hint*. To be honest, I am super excited to start, it will be nice to have an extra incentive to finally read some books I’ve been neglecting purely out of inertia.

  2. Brad, you forced me earlier this week to order the three available volumes of Spera. Now you’ve also moved me to order The Complete Bone. My wallet hates you, but I’m excited to be reading this great stuff.

    • Brad Hawley /

      I’m bad for MY wallet. My wife has changed the Amazon password on me. I can’t imagine why . . .

      I hope you enjoy them all: FINDER, BONE, SPERA, THE PORTENT

      Of course, Marion’s got me cuing up Locke and Key on Comixology app!

  3. Brad Hawley /


    Vagabond is very interesting. Manga is certainly an acquired taste and there are tons of different kinds out there. I recommend you give Pluto a try. Or Ikagami (I think I wrote a review of Ikagami but not Pluto yet . . .)

    Vagabond really shows decompression at its most extreme. I learned something important about manga that may help: Manga is written and designed for an audience that reads VERY quickly. Manga pages are to be flipped rapidly. I’ve read about this difference between American and Japanese comics in several reliable places, so I feel fairly confident about his bit of info, which really changes the way I evaluate manga.

    Consider that most American comics are made by a team of artists producing in color and in great detail only 24 pages a month. A Japanese manga must be produced on a weekly basis and the stories are serialized in larger, WEEKLY manga anthologies that Japanese readers devour in a single sitting. American fans of comics read and re-read the same issue over and over again, studying every little detail. Popular manga just isn’t written to be read that way for the most part (not to say that fans won’t re-read it, particularly when their favorite series is later collected in the format that we get it in here in the States).

    So, basically, I, too, had trouble reading Vagabond when I started because I read it much too slowly. Reading it faster changed my enjoyment of the plot and amazed me when I realized that the beautiful art is MEANT to be flipped through at a rapid pace.

    Still, if you didn’t like the first volume of Vagabond, you should probably move on to something else. But reading more quickly in the future might help you enjoy other manga titles more than you might otherwise.

    I hope this info helps!

    (Boy I’m talkative today!)

    • Thanks, Brad! I’ll keep that in mind as I go ahead. In fact, it retroactively improves my feelings on Vagabond — a large problem I had with it was that I felt that, for the place in the story I had reached, the characterization was underdeveloped. If my sense of pacing was skewed, then that excuses a lot. I think I’ll probably switch over to another manga anyway — I’ve read Book of Five Rings and know Musashi never lost a duel, making the focus on “can he beat these guys?” not exactly suspenseful for me, lol — but at least I can look back more kindly.

      Actually, I’d meant to ask if you have any particular recommendations on that score. I’ve been told Berserk is good, and I know One Piece is very popular, but otherwise I’m rather at sea…

      • Brad Hawley /

        I’m glad that info helped. I really changed my view of manga after that.

        Akira is the bomb. You’ve gotta read that.
        Pluto is brilliant.
        I don’t think you’ll like One Piece at all.
        Death Note is fun.
        The author and artist of Death Note then wrote Bakuman, which is about an author and artist manga creative team. It will teach you a ton about the manga industry in Japan.
        Showa, a history of Japan, is fantastic.
        Any of Tezuka’s later works. I recommend any volume of Black Jack you can find in print. They can be read out of order because they are collections of short stories that stand alone about a House-like genius doctor with a dark personality.

        If you want to read popular manga, I’d suggest Naruto and Full Metal Alchemist. Those will give you a taste of good, popular manga for boys.

        I like Clamp, a female collective that has produced tons of intriguing and provocative work, from Chobits to X to Gate 7.

        Any of the artists and manga that is being put out by the Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly (best name EVER for a publisher). Check out their website.

        I know I’m missing some great stuff.

        Oh, yes: Lone Wolf and Cub is classic.

        And did I mention that you should read Tezuka, the GOD OF MANGA, no less?

        And NOT to read One Piece. ugh. (I just offended many people. sorry. but honestly, even if you do like it, do you really think Tim’s gonna enjoy that series? i don’t think so).

        Mushishi is great.

        I hear Vagabond is also good if you read it fast.

        • Thanks! I’ve actually seen the Death Note anime and liked it, so perhaps the manga would be a good one to try. I also think I could get my hands on Lone Wolf and Cub, so maybe I’ll give that a go.

  4. Kat, I have the same feeling about reading any author’s works I know will be the last. I’ve had Iain Banks’ last Culture novel sitting on my shelf some time, and every time my hand twitches toward it, I slap it, telling myself: it’s the last; there won’t be any more. Save it for the right moment.

    • Awwwww, Jesse.
      Neil Gaiman wrote and read the intro to the audio editions I listened to. For this last book he said he was sad because he was worried about how F & GM’s stories would end.
      I guess I can always read the stories again, but it’s not the same as having a new adventure. I’m gonna miss Fafhrd.

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