Sunday Status Update: September 23, 2012

Well, it’s genuinely Autumn now, the time when a  young man’s thoughts turn ever more toward a mug of coffee and a good novel. Of course, in my experience this also happens in Spring, Summer, and Winter, so don’t quote me on that…

NEWS: This week we welcome new reviewer Steven Harbin! We hope you’ll like him as much as we do!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBrad: This week I read Jack Vance‘s The Eyes of the Overworld (or Cugel the Clever on Amazon and Vance’s website). I see many Jack Vance novels in my future! I’m also reading for about the 20th time one of my all-time favorite novels: A Room With a View by E. M. Forster, which I am also teaching. It is one of the few novels that truly holds up to teaching on a regular basis. Most novels fall off my teaching list after a few semesters. I’m reading for the first time a short young adult novel that is a rewrite of Forster’s novel: Queens of All The Earth by Hannah Sternberg. It’s a cute, modernized adaptation, and I’m enjoying reading it. I’m also still keeping up with my favorite comic book titles, particularly Batman, Batwoman, Fatale, Daredevil, The Winter Soldier, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, The Punisher, and Saga. I’m also pleased that Greg Rucka is writing a new Stumptown arc, a noir series about a female P.I. that had a highly praised first run that’s available in trade.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsGreg: I’ve been away for a while — just recently escaped from a Devil’s Island. So I’ve got a back log of books, comics, and graphic novels to review. To add to that pile, I just started Scourge of the Betrayer, book 1 of the BLOODSOUNDER’S ARC by Jeff Salyards. It was an impulse buy that is shaping up to be quite the adventure.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews John:  I finished The Kingmakers by Clay and Susan Griffith and re-read then reviewed Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist.  I am now reading Clean by Alex Hughes.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsKat: I continue to try to catch up with Audible Frontier’s recent productions. This week I knocked off Steven Brust’s The Paths of the Dead which is the first in his VISCOUNT OF ADRILANKHA trilogy, a sequel to his PHOENIX GUARDS books. This was my first encounter with Brust. Do all of his books have such strange dialogue? If so, I may be finished with Brust. At first it was charming, but then it became annoying. In print, I read James P. Blaylock’s Zeuglodon which was a cute fantasy mystery that children would surely enjoy.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsKelly: I’m still reading Incarnation by Emma Cornwall.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I read the graphic novel Murder Mysteries, drawn by P. Craig Russell from a story by Neil Gaiman. The story is detective noir set in heaven, where an angel named Vengeance investigates the first murder… of an angel. It’s framed by a tale of an Englishman in LA, who hears the story from a homeless man, early in a dark morning after a dreamlike encounter with an old girlfriend, an encounter he can’t completely remember. The story has a twist that doesn’t come as a real surprise, but all of Gaiman’s fey darkness is there, and, again, an unusual take on Lucifer. I also read Daytripper, by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. This is another graphic novel. Daytripper follows the crucial moments in the life of Bras de Oliva Domingo, beautifully illustrated, filled with color and life… and death. Third in my trio of graphic novels was another Gaiman-written book, The Eternals, based on characters created by Jack Kirby. I didn’t quite know what to make of this one.

RebeccaRebecca: At the moment I haven’t actually been reading any fantasy (just a whopping big biography of Richard the Lionheart) but I’ll have a review of Alice Borchardt‘s The Silver Wolf up soon.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsRuth: I’ve actually gotten a lot of reading done this week. First, I burned through Son by Lois Lowry, which is the fourth book in the GIVER series, and the third time she has said it is completed. (After books one, three and four, if you’re curious.) I’m still conflicted about how I am going to review this one, and if you remember my review of the third book in the series, you’ll understand why. I also read Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, which I can only describe as imagine Jane Eyre set in the modern day, but with the genders reversed, and funny. I really enjoyed it and will be looking forward to the next book in the series. And finally, I’ve been reading the short story anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, in which some of the most prominent YA authors of our decade take on the age-old question: Which is cooler, Zombies or Unicorns?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSteven: I’m currently reading The Other Wind by Ursula K. LeGuin. LeGuin’s EARTHSEA books are among my favorite fantasies, but I haven’t visited that world for over a decade. So far, I’m enjoying this one mostly, but I have mixed emotions regarding many of the changes the characters have undergone. I’ll be interested in seeing how (or, knowing LeGuin, if) things are resolved by the end of this book.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsTerry: : I’m reading two urban fantasies that are about as different from each other as they could be and still fit in the same subgenre: This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Philippa Bornikova and Ashes of Honor, the new book in the OCTOBER DAYE series by Seanan McGuire. I’ve also started Snow Blind by P.J. Tracy, mostly because the new entry in the MONKEEWRENCH series of which it is a part, Off the Grid, arrived yesterday. Yes, the books continue to pile up, and in multiple genres, too!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I read through Joss Whedon‘s run on Astonishing X-Men, which was replete with Whedon‘s token sardonic wit and quite amusing. It wasn’t quite as artistically impressive as last week’s Captain America: Winter Soldier, but the characterization was even better. Work has been particularly laborious this week, and I ended up tired enough on arriving home that I wanted the comfort of an old favorite novel, so I started in on Jim Butcher‘s Dead Beat. While the novel savors faintly of some of Butcher’s early, more frenetic plotting, I still regard it as sort of the archetypal Dresden novel (which at this point is almost to say the archetypal twenty-first century urban fantasy): it’s fast, witty, exciting, and gleefully, gloriously over-the-top fun. Other urban fantasy heroes may share Harry Dresden’s wry outlook and gumshoe-pastiche style, but few of them would ever be found riding a polka-powered zombie Tyrannosaurus Rex into supernatural combat in the streets of Chicago. Read that phrase again. Go on. Relish the absurdity. Don’t you want to read this now, just a little?

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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. Brad, I would be interested in your comments on the Eternals, if you feel like commenting.

    • Brad Hawley /

      Hey Marion! I haven’t read it yet because I want to finish reading Kirby’s original work on the Eternals, from which I keep getting sidetracked! I love Kirby’s stuff and have been reading his Fourth World stories for DC. It’s fun but definitely only for the comic book obsessed. Like PKD, bad writing but great, mind-tripping ideas accompanied by AMAZING ART!

      I will definitely be ordering Murderer Mysteries based on your comments here, but would certainly enjoy reading a full review of it should I ever come across one! (Hint, hint.)

      Wasn’t Daytripper a wonderful book?

      As for Tim’s comment on Whedon’s X-Men run, I feel it too deserves a review by somebody who has read it recently. . . For some reason, I remember being told to read Grant Morrison’s X-Men first, but perhaps I’m just confused. Tim did you read Morrison’s run? If not, did you feel like you were missing a lot of in-jokes? If not, perhaps I will go ahead and read Whedon. (And I’m serious about a review of either the first volume or two or even his whole run.)

      And you’ve got me interested in Dresdon. Perhaps when I get off my Vance kick.

  2. @ Kat
    No, no, the pseudo-Dumas books by Brust are definitely an acquired taste — personally, I find them pretty much unreadable. You see what he’s doing, or trying to do, but it’s just not as appealing as he thinks.
    The Vlad Taltos series that starts with Jhereg is much more amusing! Not to mention clever. And full of (occasionally subtle) narrative quirks that reflect the nature of the Houses in the world he creates (I think I first twigged this when I read Teckla; each volume is dedicated to one of these castes).

    • Thanks, Tizz — it’s good to know this because I was planning to get those Vlad Taltos books on audio (they just came out) but I didn’t want to spend the credits if I thought I wouldn’t like them. I can tell I like Brust and I found much of his book to be humorous, but that dialogue drove me nuts after a while (since every character did it — you know what I mean). I wondered if it was just the audio, too, because you can’t skim it like you might in a print book if you get annoyed. Knowing that you felt the same way but like VT books gives me hope that I’ll like them, too. I’ll try the first one and see how it goes.

  3. Brad; I thought Daytripper was poignant, mysterious and thought-provoking. And beautifully drawn!

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