Monday, January 21, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/19

I've got three categories of new books again this week -- first are a couple of items that came in for review:

Life Sucks by Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece, from First Second in May 2008. Abel is the writer-artist of La Perdida, Soria is her co-writer on this project, and Pleece is a solid British artist who's worked on more things than I could mention. The publisher's letter describes it as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Clerks," with young, disaffected Goths and real vampires. Looks like it would have been very Zeitgeist-y about ten years ago, but we'll see.

And from Papercutz, which seems to be an NBM imprint, is Michel Plessix's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's novel Wind in the Willows, in yet another iteration of Classics Illustrated. CI -- comics adaptations of "great books" -- has always been a decent idea with mixed messages. (On the one hand, it's supposedly about getting kids interested in these stories via comics, but they often end up being used like Cliffs Notes.) I've always liked The Wind in the Willows, and the art looks nice, so I have some hopes for this one.

I also bought some books this week:

Confessions of a Blabbermouth is another book from DC's Minx imprint, written by Mike Carey (also behind the best Minx book I've read, Re-Gifters) with his daughter Louise Carey and illustrated by Aaron Alexovich. It's another story firmly aimed at teen girls, with a plot about mixed families and blogs -- and I love seeing comics aimed at a wide audience without fantasy trappings, so that's promising.

Da Brudderhood of Zeeba Zeeba Eata by Stephan Pastis is the second-most recent "Pearls Before Swine" collection, which I somehow missed the first time around. It confused me a bit when I saw it in the store, but I recovered quickly enough to make sure I didn't already own it.

Kitty and the Silver Bullet is the fourth novel in the series by Carrie Vaughn. I liked the first three well enough to re-publish them in an omnibus back at the old place, and I'm planning to keep reading the series as long as still the engaging, non-standard take on urban fantasy that it has been so far.

I also recently realized that Hard Case Crime had published three old Lawrence Block novels that I didn't have, so I remedied that situation -- I now have copies of Grifter's Game, Lucky at Cards, and A Diet of Treacle for when I need some old-school paperback mystery/pulp fun.

And then there was a library trip, mostly to pile on the recent SF/Fantasy that I missed since leaving the old job and that hasn't come in to La Casa Hornswoggler for review:

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst, a Norton-nominated first novel by a writer I keep running into at conventions and similar events.

9Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, a mystery about a dead detective whose cover proclaims it to be science fiction.

Ian McDonald's Brasyl, another one of those books with three plotlines set centuries apart from each other. That kind of thing often annoys me, but I've liked nearly everything of McDonald's I've read, so, on balance, I'll give it a try.

Keeping It Real by Justina Robson, first in a contemporary fantasy series that's becoming quite popular. (The second book is titled Selling Out, which may or may not be a wink at fan complaints.)

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, who I've run into on-line for ages now and who I think I met at the Baltimore WorldCon a decade ago. I've never read one of his books before, and that's starting to embarrass me.

The Braindead Megaphone, a collection of essays by George Saunders. Saunders won a World Fantasy Award for his story "CommComm" in 2006, the year I was a judge. I haven't read a lot of Saunders otherwise -- though I did dislike the very arch The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, a particularly thin and obvious allegory -- so I thought essays might be the way to go.

Eclipse One, first in what I hope will be a long-running series of original anthologies edited by Jonathan Strahan. (Though I also have to admit that the landscape of the last two decades is littered with the wreckage of previous original-anthology series.)

The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. I've met Cat a couple of times -- most recently at JohnCon at World Fantasy -- and this book has sounded like the kind of thing I might enjoy. (Though, back at the old job, my freelance reader, who also thought she would love it, very much did not love it.)

And Axis by Robert Charles Wilson, since I read Spin, and generally find Wilson a solid SF writer (if sometimes too consumed by his hobbyhorses).

(Note: I originally had the cover art of all the books mentioned here, but that was just too much. So I only left a few.)


Unknown said...

I liked 9Tail Fox very much, it's SFnalish, but maybe not SF. As for the Catherynne Valente, i really liked it. I have a feeling you'll hate it, as it winds around quite a lot in a way I don't think you'll enjoy.

Brad Holden said...

Bad Monkeys is fun and an easy read. I finished it the day I bought it. The books is Matt Ruff's take on Dick, but without some of Dick's annoying quirks.

I really enjoyed Sewer, Gas, and Electric, completely gonzo and really funny.

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