Monday, April 09, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/7

I used to be about as plugged into publishing as it was possible to be -- I worked for a company that had a weekly meeting where we ran through most of the major books (across most categories) coming up, and a big part of my own job was to track upcoming books across a wide swath of imaginative fiction -- and I still usually feel, since I work in publishing, get books in the mail, and read way too many book-industry blogs, that I'm still as connected as I ever was. But that's not true, because this past week, I learned about three books that surprised me, all of which are published or coming imminently.

The first two are Steve Erickson's These Dreams of You (insert potted explanation: this is the Days Between Stations Erickson, not the Malazan Erikson), his first novel in five years, and Ted Heller's Pocket Kings, his first novel in nine years. I won't write about either of them here, since I don't have copies yet, and I don't expect any publicists to send them to me. (But, if you're publicizing either of those books, and reading this: contact me at the e-mail address to the upper left, and I'll almost certainly review them positively.)

But the third book is actually in my hands (or, actually, sitting between them as I type) right now: Flora's Fury, Ysabeau S. Wilce's third novel about that spirited young woman Flora Fyrdraaca and her alternate-world country of Califa. (It's only been four years since Flora's Dare, and five since the first book, Flora Segunda, but time flows more swiftly in the land of YA, so it's felt like at least as long to the audience.) This is the finale of a great trilogy -- see my review of Flora's Dare for more burbling on my part about how good these books are -- and I can hardly wait to get to it. It will be published on May 8th in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (which hasn't been in the news much lately, which I hope means that they've gotten through their years of horrible management by predatory hedge funds -- they've had about the worst luck of any company in publishing over the last decade).

Speaking of authors I haven't read in a while, I also have here the new "Nameless Detective" novel by Bill Pronzini, Hellbox. I'd read a bunch of the earlier books in the series -- it began with 1971's The Snatch, and I read most of the books to date in the mid-90s -- but I wandered away from reading as many PI novels as I used to when my sons (and the Internet) came along. According to the back cover, Nameless has developed a first name -- Bill -- while I was away, and according to the card page, he's had a novel nearly every year I haven't been paying attention. (There are, including this one, a couple of collaborations, and three collections, now thirty-nine books in this series.) Nameless is now married, and his wife goes missing in this book, while they're vacationing in the Sierra foothills -- which is an interesting echo of The Snatch, which was about the kidnapping of a child -- and he, of course, has to find her, since the authorities are useless at best, as they always are in PI novels. Hellbox is a July hardcover from Forge (Tor's non-fantastic fraternal twin).

And then I have the mass-market paperbacks from DAW for May:
  • Chicory Up, the second book in the contemporary fantasy series "The Pixie Chronicles" -- yes, the magical folks in this one do seem to be Tinkerbelle-ish types, for all that they, like all urban fantasy heroines, also have policeman boyfriends -- by Irene Radford, which follows Thistle Down.
  • Life Guards in the Hamptons -- which makes me wonder if "Life Guards" vs. "Lifeguards" is a stylistic choice, since I'd always considered that one word and the two-word version feels closer to "Life Coach" to me -- is the fourth book in Celia Jerome's urban fantasy series about Willow Tate, a comic-book artist who can make her drawings come to life. (The first is Trolls in the Hamptons.)
  • And Shadow Raiders, first in an epic fantasy series -- called "The Dragon Brigade" -- by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes, which was originally published last year in hardcover.
The Shark King is a graphic novel for young readers by R. Kikuo Johnson from Candlewick's "Toon Books" line, a mythic story from his native Hawaii. (Hawaii was also the setting for Johnson's first book, Night Fisher, a book for a substantially older audience that I reviewed and liked a few years ago.)

I have to admit that I haven't read any of Brian Francis Slattery's novels yet, despite their great reviews and accolades, in part because they all sound dystopian and depressing. (And life itself can be plenty depressing enough, thank you.) His third novel has the cherry title Lost Everything, and it, too, is the story of a destroyed near-future America ("savaged by war and climate change," the back cover sunnily admits), with a The Road-esque story of a man on a journey to find his son and pursued by the usual evil army. (I note that the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication information includes the category Regression (Civilization) -- Fiction.) This one will be coming from Tor as a trade paperback on April 10th, so, if you ask nicely, you might even be able to get it today.

I got an advance review copy of Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour in Glass a couple of months back, and now I have a finished book. (It's also coming April 10th from Tor, though this one is a hardcover.) I haven't read it yet, but I still want to -- it's the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey, which I only didn't nominate for the Hugo because I read it too late.

Secrets of the Fire Sea is the fourth book in Stephen Hunt's pseudo-Victorian steampunk world "the Kingdom of Jackals," though it seems to be set in a different corner of that world than the Jackelian Kingdom. It's a Tor hardcover, and is already in stores.

Bart Simpson: Out to Lunch collects comics from the Bongo series -- about the ne'er-do-well kid character from the long-running Fox sitcom, if that needs to be said -- issues 43-47, to be precise. And it's coming from Harper Design as a trade paperback on April 10th.

Last for this week is a picture book -- you know, for kids! -- called Kitty & Dino, by Sara Richard. It's the mostly wordless story -- told in a bright, scratchy, jaggy, eclectic art style -- of a cat and its new dinosaur friend. It's published by Yen Press, which usually focuses on manga, and it's available this month.

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