Monday, July 13, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/11

I'm starting this week's entry very early, since I'm scheduled to fly out to Las Vegas for a conference -- of the hard-living Association of Certified Fraud Examiners -- far too early on Sunday morning. So, if the following is disjointed, it might have gotten that way by being written over several days and several states. And, if it doesn't read as disjointed, that's just proof of my innate genius.

As I say every week: I get books in the mail to review, and I'm thankful for them. But I don't manage to review all of them -- some of them, in fact, I don't terribly want to read and review. (A personal message to any publicist reading this: not your books, sweetie. Yours are always wonderful. The ones from that other publishing house. You know the one.) And that's one reason why I do these posts every Monday morning: to note and say something about all of the books, even the ones that will sit on the to-be-read pile for so long that I forget about them, or forget why I wanted to read them.

Roc will be publishing the latest in Rachel Caine's "Weather Warden" series in August: it's called Cape Storm, it's the eighth in the series, and it will be a mass-market paperback like all of the others. I haven't really read this series -- I did read a chunk of one book as preparation for a meeting at Ace/Roc a few years back, but that doesn't really count -- but they've always looked like the kind of semi-soap opera contemporary fantasy that program does really well.

Also from Roc in August is S.L. Viehl's Crystal Healer, the (I believe) ninth "StarDoc" novel, about a genetically engineered interstellar surgeon. Again, I don't have any personal knowledge of these books, but I've read, off and on, her blog Paperback Writer, and she's got a grumpy but intensely professional tone there that is both smart and appealing.

It's been another two months, which means it's time for another volume of the dementedly wonderful Black Jack series by Osamu Tezuka to be published by Vertical. This time, it's Volume 6, which hits stores at the end of this month. I reviewed #1 and #2 for ComicMix, but not the later volumes -- though, as far as I can tell, they're all the same kind of nitro-fueled wackiness, and there's no real overall plot, so you could start here as well as anywhere.

I really, really need to read The Magicians by Lev Grossman, because the nice publicist at Viking e-mailed to ask me if I would be interested in seeing it, and I said I was. (That's one of my rules: if I ask for something specifically, I really do need to find time to read and write about it.) Grossman wrote one previous novel, Codex, which I did not read. He also writes and reviews books for Time magazine, and I think I complained about something he wrote there at least once. (It wouldn't be difficult; I complain about a lot of things.) The Magicians appears to be a post-Harry Potter literary fantasy novel, about a young man who goes to a secretive school of magic. There's also a map of a fantasy kingdom on the endpapers, so I suspect it becomes a portal fantasy at some point. The Magicians will be published August 11, and I really do intend to read and review it by then.

In the category of licensed novels that I couldn't evaluate at all fairly, there's Gears of War: Jacinto's Remnant by Karen Traviss, a novel based on a game that not only have I never played, but I've never knowingly heard of it before Del Rey started publishing books about it. This one is coming on July 28th, and Traviss is quite good at licensed-novel warfare, so -- if you do like the game -- this is probably at least an entertaining waste of time. I gather from the package that Gears of War is an Xbox game, which explains why I haven't heard of it; I'm of the other persuasion.

Next is a book I know I'll have to try out on my two sons (ages eight and eleven) -- My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, Book 1, by David Lubar. It's a middle-grade novel from Tor's Starscape imprint, publishing in August. Nathan is a tween boy who, as you might have guessed, finds himself transformed into a zombie one day and wants to get back to being just a regular fifth grader.

I really hope that David Ratte's Toxic Planet isn't as thuddingly obvious as it looks -- it's a graphic novel (translated from the French and coming from Yen Press in August) in an unspecified future world that's so polluted that everyone wears gas masks all the time. It's also apparently funny. I'll save any further comment until I actually read it; it's the kind of thing I could see myself heaping scorn on, but -- if it actually is funny -- I could also forgive it quite a lot.

Enigma is the second novel by C.F. Bentley, and the sequel to her first novel Harmony. According to the letter, it's a "combination of military science, New Age mysticism and magic" -- which reminds me that it's been close to a decade since I saw anyone use the phrase "New Age" un-ironically. DAW published Enigma in hardcover; it was in stores last week.

The fourth and last book of Sherwood Smith's "Inda" saga is Treason's Shore, a big fat fantasy novel from DAW in August. If I remember right, Treason's Shore is just down the coast from the Deception Point, near the mouth of the Seditious River, and on the main trade route to the Confederacy of Apostacy. (I believe you can also see the Moon of Mutiny from there.) So just keep going the way you're going for about twenty miles, then turn left when you see Mount Treachery and follow the Connivance Trail for a fortnight. When you reach Castle Perfidy, you're almost there -- you can get a guide to the shore from there. (This vamping is brought to you by the fact that I've read none of the previous three books in the series, so I have nothing at all of substance to say. But Smith is generally a good writer, so, if you like this sort of thing, here's that thing that you like.)

The fourth novel in Kat Richardson's "Greywalker" series is Vanished, coming in in hardcover from Roc on August 4th. Richardson has always seemed smart and interesting when I've run into her online, so I feel guilty for not reading her books. This series is about a female P.I. (and I bet she's feisty -- contemporary fantasy heroines are nearly always called feisty, which seems to translate to "not a doormat") who got the ability to talk to the dead after being briefly dead herself (and not for tax purposes, either).

And last for the week is Flight, Volume Six, the latest annual anthology of comics storied edited by Kazu Kibuishi. It looks to be the same kind of suitable for nearly all ages material as the previous volumes, with most of the usual cast of creators returning for this one. And it's officially published by Villard as a trade paperback on July 29th, though you can probably find it in some stores right now, if you look hard. (I reviewed volume three here, and volume five for ComicMix; the other three volumes are still on my far-too-tall to-be-read pile.)

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