Sunday Status Update: June 3, 2018

As we roll on toward summer, we’re reading a whole new crop of books.

Bill: This week I decided I was going to try and read one old book off my long-ago TBR shelf for every one or two relatively new or unpublished ones I finish. So I read two excellent new non-fiction works: Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David and Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon (their sub-titles pretty much tell you what they are about), and then followed them up with the unfortunately disappointing The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber. Currently I’m about a quarter of the way through a collection of essays by Clinton Crockett Peters, Pandora’s Garden: Kudzu, Cockroaches, and Other Misfits of Ecology. So far mixed feelings. In media The Expanse this week showed why it deserved to be picked up for a fourth season by Amazon — so good! Westworld saying goodbye to Shogun World was a bummer, but I’m still mostly enjoying this season, though Dolores’ plot line is a bit stagnant and there were some basic plotting issues (Maeve’s selective use of her powers, why doesn’t sacrificial tech-guy-on-a-train just break a window, etc…)
 
Brad: Over the past two weeks, I’ve had fun simply reading as much as possible (for about 12 hours a day). I always do this after final exams in May. I’ve been reading a lot of pulp fiction in both the SF and crime fiction genres. In SF, I’ve been reading Sanderson (Rithamist), Okorafor (Akata Witch), Silverberg (short stories and To Open the Sky), Pratchett (Small Gods), Sheckley (short stories and Mindswap), and Vance (Languages of Pao). I’ve also read some crime fiction and pulp fiction by Silverberg: Blood on the Mink and Gang Girl. I highly recommend Blood on the Mink but not Gang Girl. Most my time has been spent reading crime fiction. I’ve been reading novels by Robert Colby, William Campbell Gault, Vin Packer, Ed Lacy, Richard Aleas, Loren Beauchamp, and Richard Deming. I highly recommend the little-known Richard Deming if you have any interest in crime fiction. He wrote noir, P.I., and police procedural stories and novels, including DRAGNET books. I recommend starting with Tweak the Devil’s Nose about his P. I. Manny Moon. Aside from genre fiction, I read The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis by Max Shulman, as well as some Trollope, Joyce, and Cervantes (though I did not complete reading any of the works by the final three authors. I simply like to have a lot of very different novels going at once! And Don Quixote is always worth dipping into.).

Jana: This week I got some more reviews taken care of (whee!) and had enough time to read Thunderhead, the second book in Neal Shusterman‘s ARC OF A SCYTHE trilogy, and Guardian, the final book in AJ Hartley‘s STEEPLEJACK trilogy. They’re both YA books which blend mystery/thriller elements with speculative fiction, and while one of them retraces a lot of steps from its preceding book, the other felt fresh and inventive. But they each contain a lot of positive messages about individual responsibilities during times of civil unrest, and the importance of standing up for what’s right even when everything seems stacked against you. Seems like that’s going to be a pretty prevalent theme in YA books published over the next, say, two to three years. (Good.)

Kat: I’ve been continuing with Elliott James‘ PAX ARCANA series. Book four was In Shining Armor. I have the next book on my stack, but I’ve been temporarily waylaid by the Locus and Hugo finalists. This week I read Peter S. Beagle‘s charming In Calabria and Charles Stross‘ exciting The Delirium Brief (one of his LAUNDRY FILES novels) and Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide, the first of her INNSMOUTH LEGACY books. My favorite of all these was The Delirium Brief. Reviews are coming soon.

Marion: I’m reading The Future is Blue, a short story collection by Catherynne Valente, in an ARC. I’m also noodling through Mary Roach’s book Spook; Science Tackles the Afterlife. Roach makes science quirky and accessible. The book is funny but even more enjoyable than Roach’s humor is the constant glimmer of her irrepressible curiosity.

Nathan: I just finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson‘s 2140 and the first book (Sufficiently Advanced Magic) in Andrew Rowe’s ARCANE ASCENSION series, so those reviews will be coming soon. I’m casting about among the Hugo and Locus nominees for what to read next, but haven’t quite decided which to work on.

Sandy: Moi? I am currently reading a book by my main man, Rider Haggard; his 1904 offering entitled The Brethren. This is an historical adventure tale that takes place during the time of the Second Crusades, with – so far, at least – no fantasy content to speak of. The copy of the book that I am reading now is a first-edition hardcover that I hate bringing on the subway with me, but what are you gonna do? I’m treating it as gently as I can. Anyway, I hope to have a review of this gripping page-turner ready for you shortly. Hope you are all having a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!

Tadiana: It’s been a month or so since I reported in on these Sunday Status Updates (sorry Tim and Kat!), but I’ve read some excellent books lately and am trying to catch up with my review writing. Some of my favorites: Artificial Condition, the sequel to Martha Wells‘ All Systems Red, which just won the 2017 Nebula award for novellas; LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff, his just-published YA dystopian science fiction novel; The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst, the conclusion to her excellent fantasy trilogy; Oscar Wilde’s classic The Picture of Dorian Gray; and Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel, the final book in his THEMIS FILES SF trilogy. Courtesy of my recently reacquired library card (because it’s an expensive out-of-town card, I let it lapse for a couple of years until my teenage son asked if we could renew it – he’s just discovered Tamora Pierce and is working on reading ALL of her TORTALL books), I also launched on a read/reread of the nearly the entire KATE DANIELS urban fantasy series by Ilona Andrews, including most of the interim novellas. It’s been a fun ride!

Taya: This week has been spent nursing a nursing a sick child and slowly plodding through Sufficiently Advanced Magic, which is fun, but its feeling a bit long. I need another couple of books that I feel driven to finish.

Terry: As planned, I finished Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff this week — but nothing else went according to plan, as I’ve started three books that weren’t slated. The first is The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard, which is one of the novels nominated for the Locus Award and the sequel to The House of Shattered Wings, which I enjoyed very much. It’s a very sad book, at least so far, and the writing is exquisite.  I’ve also begun reading A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, which jumped off our bookshelves and into my arms; I was hooked by the first short chapter. Finally, I started reading Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson, a noir science fiction mystery with a couple of fascinating characters playing essentially the roles of Sherlock Homes and John Watson.

Tim: This week, I reread Brandon Sanderson‘s Edgedancer for a review, which was good fun. With a review in the pipeline, I’ve returned to N.K. Jemisin‘s The Fifth Season on audiobook (amazingly imaginative, but so grim and brooding that I’ve been taking breaks with other works now and then). In print, I’ve begun reading the most interestingly titled book I’ve tried this year in Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley. As expected from a faery tale by Crowley, the book is so far strange, bittersweet, and totally lovely.


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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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8 comments

  1. Mary Roach is one of my favorite non-fiction writers–her enthusiasm and willingness to do anything (and I mean anything) to satiate her curiosity (a Sisyphean goal apparently) is wonderfully inspiring. Impossible to go wrong with one of her books.

  2. I want to read PACKING FOR MARS and STIFF eventually.

    • Bonk is really good, too, but there are some graphic details about certain medical procedures which may be a bit too much for some readers.

  3. *adding Packing for Mars to my TBR list*

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