Monday, July 14, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/12

As I write this, I'm at the end of a week-long vacation, looking forward to going back to work at right about the time this post will go live. (And, since it's not impossible someone from my job will read this, I will thus insist that I'm thrilled and energized to get back to the office after a fun, lazy week doing entertaining things with my family.)

But books can always change your mood, and so let's have some books. These are the things that showed up in my mail over the last seven days -- all of them in the old-fashioned printed-stuff-on-flattened-pieces-of-trees format -- and one or more of them may turn out to be something you (yes, you) will love until the end of your days.

As usual, I haven't read any of them yet, and will try to be honest and/or amusing about each book -- maybe even both, if I can.

The Rise of Aurora West is the sequel to Paul Pope's Battling Boy graphic novel from last fall -- see my review as Day 69 of this year's Book-A-Day -- but Pope has help this time around. Aurora West is written by Pope and JT Petty, with art by David Rubin in a Pope-inspired, but cleaner style. This is the first of two volumes of this particular story, which I think is set in the middle of Battling Boy (between Aurora's father's death and the arrival of Battling Boy on her world) and focuses on the title character. It's a trade paperback from First Second, and will be available on September 30th.

A more unlikely comics project is Ringworld: The Graphic Novel, Part One, in which Larry Niven's classic SF novel is adapted by Robert Mandell (who doesn't even get cover credit) and drawn by Sean Lam [1]. The cover confuses me: it goes out of its way to hide its graphic-novel-ness, and I at first thought it was a new (possibly YA) edition of the novel. The story is about a really lucky guy called Louis Wu who investigates a particularly interesting Big Dumb Object, the solar-system-sized hula hoop of the title. This is from Tor/Seven Seas, and is available now.

The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit is the new novel from Graham Joyce, a Doubleday hardcover on August 8th. Joyce was once considered a horror writer, shaded into "dark fantasy" for a while, and I think is now being positioned as just a British writer whose works have some dark and supernatural elements. (I don't think he's changed substantially: it's all about how his work is presented.) Electric Blue is set in 1976, when a young college student spends the summer working in the British seaside resort of Skegness, where a number of strange and eerie things happen.

Shadows is the middle book in E.C. Blake's "The Masks of Aygrima" series, after last year's Masks. It's a YA secondary-world fantasy, set in a land where teens receive magical masks that both control them on behalf of the local unpleasant ruler and proclaim their place in society. But the daughter of the Master Maskmaker revolted in the first book, and I imagine she continues to battle the forces of adulthood and evil this time out as well. Shadows is a hardcover from DAW, arriving August 5th.

Carol Berg's Dust and Light apparently begins a new series -- the "Sanctuary Novels," if the cover is any indication -- in the world of her Lighthouse duology, Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone. It sounds a bit mannerist, set in a world where magicians are masked and highborn and never mix with commoners, and where the rules are enforced with a heavy hand by the Pureblood Registry. It's a Roc trade paperback, available August 5th.

Gillian Philip's Rebel Angels series reaches a third book in Wolfsbane, which was published last week in the US as a Tor hardcover. (It's been out in Philip's native UK for some time.) The series is about Scotsmen and the fairy queen (sorry, Sithe Queen) that they fall afoul of, over the last few centuries and featuring quite a bit of swordplay and treachery on two worlds.

And last for this week is Hurricane Fever, the new novel from Toby Buckell. It's a loose sequel to his near-future thriller Arctic Rising -- it sounds like Buckell's aim is to do something like Tom Clancy's novels, where they're set in a coherent just-after-tomorrow world but each stands alone -- featuring the same main character, Prudence "Roo" Jones. This time out, Roo is in the Caribbean, battling a plot to release a deadly chemical weapon -- and, I suspect, other dangers implied in the title. It's a Tor hardcover, available already.

[1] The book itself credits his work as "illustrated by;" I like to call comics art "drawn by" most of the time, since "illustrated" has a sense of support and superfluousness which is very much not the case in comics. Comics storytelling is done equally by the writing and the art -- and the "writing" encompasses a lot of what a reader perceives as art, like pacing, panel sizes, page breaks, caption size and placement, etc.

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