Monday, October 27, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/25

How is this week like every other week? I got books in the mail, and I want to tell you something about them -- in case I don't get to review them all. (And the chances of that are very high, since my "actively want to review" stacks have about fifty books in them.)

So, this week I saw:

I read John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars back when it was published by Subterranean -- and I still have that book around somewhere, since it was here at home when the old job blew up suddenly -- and liked it then, so I'm happy to see it return in a snazzy retro-looking trade paperback from Tor Books. Word is that this edition is slightly updated, so all you Scalzi completists are now required to buy it. It's his first novel, and that does show -- but it's a fun, if silly, romp, and I expect a lot of people will like it.

I have a galley of Elizabeth Bear's All the Windwracked Stars lying around here somewhere -- it's deep in the to-be-read stacks -- but that's now turned into a real book, which Tor is publishing in hardcover the first week of November. It's a far-future fantasy novel, set after Ragnarok, and I really do have to read all the way to the end of one of Bear's novels one of these days.

The Stormcaller is the first in an epic fantasy series by Tom Lloyd, and I suspect it's his first novel as well. The cover is somewhat generic -- although it's hard to avoid that, after the flood of epic fantasy over the past few decades -- and, if I'd been in charge, I'd have asked for that title to be substantially larger. But I wasn't, so it isn't. Stormcaller is a Pyr trade paperback and was published in October.

The headline on the press release for Inukami!, Vol. 1 reads "A wacky love comedy about a boy and his dog-goddess." You know I've been reading too many manga when that made me think "What, again?" All kidding aside, Inukami comes from Tor/Seven Seas and has art by Mari Matsuzawa and a story by Mamizui Arisawa, with character designs credited to Kanna Wakatsuki. (And a bit of deeper examination proved that this is yet another spin-off, originating as a light novel series and then moving to anime before turning into a manga.) It's publishing in November.

Also from Tor/Seven Seas in November is Hayate X Blade, Vol. 1 (which, from the cover, looks like the title is actually Hayate Cross Blade), by Shizuru Hayashiya. It's the story of girls at an elite swordfighting school, and -- from the press release -- seems to be about equally divided between the girls battling each other with swords or swooning over each other romantically. I haven't come across a yuri (the female equivalent of yaoi; same-sex love affairs among women, but not generally done by, for, about, or in any way like actual lesbians) before, so this looks like a way to ease into it.

On to a different kind of high school story: Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, Vol. 2 is published by both Tokyopop and the HarperCollins imprint Katherine Tegen Books, and is based on the novel series Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber. This manga series is written by Schreiber with art by Rem. (Not the band, I assume.) Raven is a typical Goth teenager -- well, the '00s mass-media "typical Goth girl": perky, cute, self-possessed, not at all morbid, and seemingly only into Goth for the fashion -- who goes to the all-too-obviously named Dullsville High and is dating a real live vampire. I smell not just garlic here; this looks like one of those immensely wish-fulfillment YA stories. It was published in October.

I saw Suihelibe!, Vol. 1 in proof form -- and reviewed it for ComicMix -- but now it's turned into a real book, so other people could find it. It's published by DC Comics's CMX imprint and it's by Naomi Azuma -- and it should be available everywhere you find books right about now.

Crayon Shinchan is apparently a TV show, but I've never seen it. It's also a manga, which I've just seen, in the form of Crayon Shinchan, Vol. 6. It's by Yoshito Usui, coming from CMX in December, and it's about a weird kindergartener and his bizarre adventures.

Also from CMX in December is Venus in Love, Vol. 5 by Yuki Nakaji. I think it's yet another high school story -- this one more focused on interpersonal relationships and love affairs -- but the back cover copy is entirely taken up with descriptions of who's kissing who and who's getting what part-time job. That's what happens by the time you get to the fifth volume of anything, I guess.

Last for this week is the massive and massively over-designed Bat-Manga! It has very complicated credits: compiled, edited, and designed by Chip Kidd; photography by Geoff Spear; from the collection of Saul Ferris; translated by Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd. It's being published this week by Pantheon in both hardcover and trade paperback, with different covers. And, once you fight your way through the undergrowth of Kidd's design -- the guy is excellent at book covers, but when you let him control a whole book, he gets more than a little carried away -- you'll find that it's a collection of Japanese Batman comics from 1966 and 1967, never before collected (even in Japan) and never seen in the US at all. The page design is busy, the scans aggressively call attention to themselves as scans, and it's a large, heavy object -- but it certainly looks like wacky fun.

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