Sunday Status Update, August 7 2011

Sunday Status Update is a feature in which we seek to answer that timeless question: what you are reading?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: As usual, I’m continuing the MALAZAN re-read at Tor — this week hitting chapters 7-8 of House of Chains. I’m also still working through Chris d’Lacey‘s LAST DRAGON series with my son. He just finished book five (his favorite so far) and I’m halfway through book four and hoping he’s right on the next one because so far book two remains my favorite one. Three and four aren’t bad, but the story seems to be getting a bit out of control. I’m hoping to pick up Lev Grossman’s The Magician King this weekend as well if my son will let me slip something in before the next d’Lacey (Stefan — I really enjoyed your highly intelligent reading of his first one over at Tor — though I had problem with the book’s writing — and hope to have something to say once I finish the new one). But now the mail came with Catherine Fisher’s final three books in her RELICMASTER series so I think I’ll pick those up as I found the first one quite enjoyable and I can finish a series start to finish over less than a week while everything is fresh in my mind! And somewhere in there will be some delving into a dark matter/energy book (research for an essay) and maybe tackling the huge sci-fi anthology I’ve assigned my students for the upcoming term.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Greg: I’m still in Westeros and the Free Cities and I’m enjoying the adventure, but I’m also working very hard to wrap-up A Dance with Dragons and get it reviewed before I leave for vacation, Aug 11th — won’t be back until the 16th, so I won’t be heard from next week. We kinda got hoodwinked into going on a Disney Cruise by the in-laws. It’s a strain on my finances and my idea of a cruiseship vacation is several days of drunken debauchery enhanced by a beautiful locale. However we have a 5, soon to be 6, year-old little princess of our own that I cannot deny. So I’ll make the best of it and I’m sure it will be a good time. They do have booze — I checked. ;)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews John: Happy day…. too many books to read!!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: On audio I finished S.M. Stirling’s Island in the Sea of Time yesterday. It was mostly enjoyable, but I’ve become suspicious about what the “S.M.” stands for. Next up is William Gibson’s Neuromancer which I have been waiting for years to see in audiobook format. It finally was produced by Penguin Audio last month. If I get time to sit down with a book this week, I’ll pick up John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous. I think it will be fun.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kelly: I just finished Naamah’s Blessing, the final volume of Jacqueline Carey’s trilogy about Moirin mac Fainche. These have become such “comfort books” for me. And I adore Balthasar Shahrizai. Now I’m devouring Rachel Caine’s Working Stiff, a rather atypical zombie novel. It’s creepy and sad and… really awesome so far.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas. A beautiful book. I’m starting On the Origin of Stories; Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction, by Brian Boyd, and I’m on page 57 of Mark Hodder’s The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack. It’s a great vision of steampunk London and I’m liking Burton a lot, but I do feel like I’ve wandered into an aviary instead of a book at times.  Characters don’t say things; they twitter and trill them, they murmur and snarl them, they exclaim, remark, and growl. Most distracting. If he crosses the line and has someone “remonstrate” a line of dialogue, I will have to put the book down. Some lines simply must not be crossed.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Robert: At the beginning of the week I finished Spellbound, the sequel to Blake Charlton’s debut novel Spellwright, and the second volume in the author’s trilogy. For the most part, Spellbound is an improvement over its predecessor, but I was also impressed with how the novel is not your typical middle volume. Either way, a very enjoyable epic fantasy book. Afterwards, I gave Alma Katsu’s The Taker another chance and I’m glad I did. Once the supernatural elements kicked in, The Taker became a very rewarding and captivating reading experience. Currently, I’m reading The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s highly anticipated debut which will be published in at least 22 countries and has already had film rights sold. I’ve only read a little, but so far the book is living up to the hype. Once I’m through with The Night Circus, I will probably return to epic fantasy with Blackdog by K.V. Johansen.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ryan: A colleague gave me a book called Eats, Shoots & Leaves this week, which I’ve been flipping through each night before bed. It has a picture of a panda on the cover, but it’s also about punctuation. It’s been a strange reading experience because I had always thought myself a bit of a grammar stickler. I’ll admit that I feel somewhat obsessive when I see signs like “12 items or less.” Now I feel very well adjusted.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stefan: This week, I read The Magician King by Lev Grossman, then turned back to the beginning and read it again. Aside from that, I only read some short stories. I had so much fun reading all the Hugo-nominated short stories, novelettes and novellas that I made a mid-year resolution to keep better track of the various online SFF magazines like Clarkesworld and Lightspeed Magazine. It’s amazing how much great short SFF is available online for free. For next week, I’m getting back to Low Town by Daniel Polansky, which I had to put on hold when The Magician King arrived.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I had a very busy week, traveling back and forth from my home in the Central Valley to the bay Area of California to argue a couple of legal motions. A lawyer’s life is sometimes peripatetic! But an afternoon and evening in a hotel room, when not actually preparing for an argument, is a fine time to do some serious reading. So I managed to complete Daniel Fox‘s Hidden Cities (which was disappointing after the first two books in his trilogy). I also read the entire Summer 2011 issues of Weird Tales, which was enjoyable until I got to the last story, “Beelzebub’s Messiah” by Brant Danay; I’ll tell you why I hated that one in my Magazine Monday column this week. I also stopped by one of my favorite bookstores in the Bay Area, M is For Mystery (I hope to write a column about the place sometime soon) and spent a good deal of money on some lovely signed first editions, including Richard Kadrey‘s Kill the Dead, his second SANDMAN SLIM novel. I liked the first one quite a  bit, so I’m looking forward to reading this.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: I’ve been reading Tanith Lee‘s Delirium’s Mistress and Frank Herbert‘s Dune Messiah simultaneously. It makes for a very disjointed but oddly enjoyable experience.

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RYAN SKARDAL, on our staff from September 2010 to November 2018, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.

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  1. Thanks for the compliment, Bill. I’m putting the finishing touches on a huge review of The Magician King right now. As for me, I’ve been peeking at your Malazan re-reads regularly, and I sincerely wish I had the time to read along because it would clear up so many questions I had. If one of you could watch my 4 year old for a month or two, I might be able to catch up…

  2. Oh, and Kat – I’m curious to see what you’ll make of Neuromancer. It’s one of my favorite SF books of all time, but I think it hasn’t aged as well as I thought at the time. It’s also one of those trilogies that gradually reveals some important details in later books, so some things in Neuromancer will take on different meanings by the time you’re done with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive.

  3. Stefan, so far so good. Great world-building, lots of atmosphere. There’s an intro by WG in which he talks about how it’s aged, in the light of real history and technology. Interesting.

    When I was a kid my Dad had a copy of Neuromancer on his shelf and I always thought it sounded intriguing. Maybe that has something to do with why I went into Neuroscience.

  4. Eats, Shoots and Leaves is one of my favorite grammar books ever! My local grocery won my heart when they changed their express line sign to read “12 Items or Fewer.”

  5. I love Eats, Shoots and Leaves, too. It’s required reading at some of our local high schools.

  6. Required reading? No way!

  7. Yes, at least for the kids in the International Baccalaureate program. They have to read it over the summer.

  8. I’m not sure I could give up the Oxford comma! ;)

  9. Ryan, I checked the speedy lines at my grocery store (Publix) today. They say “12 items or fewer.”
    : )

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