Monday, March 29, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 3/27

The last full week of the month is usually the busiest one for my mailbox, for whatever reason -- maybe publicists for the houses that send me stuff tend to get their books around the 15th? -- so I've got a full dozen books to write about this week.

As always, I'll remind readers that these are books that just arrived for review, but that I haven't actually read any of them yet. But below is what I can tell you about them without actually having read all of the words that they contain:

NBM has been doing some fun graphic novels lately -- books like Vatican Hustle by Greg Houston, Jesse Lonergan's Joe & Azat, and Shane White's Things Undone -- and Brooke A. Allen's debut, A Home for Mr. Easter, look to continue that string. Allen's still a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design in their comic art program, so she's brand-new to the field. Mr. Easter is the story of a rather large teenage girl, Tesana, who finds a rabbit that lays colored eggs -- and then she has to keep that rabbit safe from a whole lot of people who suddenly want it for various reasons. The art looks very expressive and detailed, with some particularly good faces -- so I'm looking forward to reading this one. NBM is publishing it in June as a trade paperback.

Next up are a couple of things that I've seen once before (and still haven't read, which I suppose could make me a bad reviewer...if I had any pretense of being able to read all of this stuff in the first place) --
  • Hater is a thriller/horror novel by David Moody, coming out in trade paperback from St. Martin's Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books on April 13th; I saw it originally when it was published by SMP in hardcover. (And I'm sure someone has already made the obvious joke about "this Moody guy" being "a Hater," so I'll avoid it.)
  • And Warriors is a gigantic new anthology of original stories about warriors of various kinds, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, with stories from obvious names (Naomi Novik, Robin Hobb, Carrie Vaughn), less expected fantasy writers (Peter S. Beagle, Diana Gabaldon, Howard Waldrop), and some left-field choices (Lawrence Block, David Morrell, David Weber). I saw it in it's pre-publication bound-galley form a few months back, and now I get to replace that copy with this one, and try again to find it a home in the reading rotation. Warriors was published by Tor on March 23rd, so you should be able to find it everywhere.
I also got a largish package from Yen Press this week, with the following manga volumes -- all publishing in April -- in it:

Yotsuba&!, Vol. 8, by Kiyohiko Azuma -- I've admitted before that I don't entirely get this series about an oddball little green-haired girl's everyday life, but my older son has glommed onto it recently and has already started asking for this book -- so it's clearly working well for him. I have the feeling that I was severely over-thinking this series: it looks like it's just meant to be cute/funny slice-of-life stories about a girl who's enthusiastic about everything.

Cirque Du Freak: The Manga, Vol. 5: Trials of Death, credited as usual to "Darren Shan" (the main character) with art by Takahiro Arai -- this continues the adaptation of the popular vampire series for young readers; I saw the first one and decided it wasn't really for me, but I'm a cynic about vampires to begin with! So don't let me stop you from taking a look at it, if you happen to be interested in vampiric young men. (Not in the Twilight sense, though -- our Darren is notably younger than that.)

Spice and Wolf, Vol. 1 is a new series with the kind of complicated credits -- story by Isuna Hasekura, art by Keito Koume, and Character Design by Jyuu Ayakura -- that usually implies that it's adapting a story from another medium. (And, in fact, this does adapt the light-novel series by Hasekura.) It's seems to be a vaguely medieval story, with a young itinerant merchant befriending a wolf-girl harvest goddess (as, of course, we all do in the usual course of our lives) and then traveling together for combined purposes. This is also rated "M" for Mature and comes wrapped in plastic -- which I haven't yet removed, for no particular reason -- so I expect there's some sex in here as well, if that's a bonus or a negative.

Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning hits an 11th volume, as always written by Kyo Shirodaira and illustrated by Eita Mizuno. I reviewed a couple of the earlier volumes for ComicMix, and found them interesting intellectual puzzle-stories with a heavy overlay of woe-is-me and other Manga-Bingo-style drama.

And here's the 4th volume of Pig Bride, by KookHwa Huh and SuJin Kim, the Korean fairy-tale-inspired pretty-boy romance series set in a private school. (Since I was just talking about Manga Bingo -- though, as this is Korean, it should rightfully be played on the slightly different Manwha Bingo board.) This is another one that I've reviewed in the past, though I haven't kept up with it.

A series I am keeping up with -- and one that both I and my older son have been enjoying -- is Svetlana Chmakova's Nightschool: The Weirn Books, which hits its third volume here. (I've reviewed the first two, for your reference.) It's a robust and well-imagined contemporary fantasy series that draws its genre tropes from various sources, and that clearly has a wide scope: there are several loosely related plotlines running, which have crossed but not completely merged yet. Nightschool is just good urban fantasy in comics form, and I do recommend it.

And last from Yen is the tenth volume of One Thousand and One Nights, by Han SeungHee and Jeon JinSeok, which I'm afraid I've never really read. I believe it's a historical fantasy -- possibly with yaoi undertones -- that draws equally from Persian and Chinese mythology...but I could easily be wrong.

Moving on to graphic novels from people on the North American continent, City of Spies is a WWII homefront adventure (in young-reader-friendly Tintin-esque clean line style) co-written by playwright/TV writer Susan Kim and mystery novelist Laurence Klavan, with art from newcomer Pascal Dizin. Evelyn is a tween girl in 1942 New York, who spends her time making comics about herself as the sidekick to dashing superhero Zirconium Man -- until she stumbles into a possible real Nazi spy plot. City of Spies will be published in May by First Second Books.

And last for this week is another graphic novel from First Second in May: Resistance, Book 1 by Carla Jablonski and Leland Purvis. It's another WWII story suitable for younger readers -- as most books from First Second are -- but set in Vichy France and focusing on a few French schoolchildren who try to hide a Jewish friend and find themselves part of the Resistance.
Listening to: KaiserCartel - Dog Stars (Live)
via FoxyTunes

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