Monday, September 07, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/5

It's been another week with mail service, and so I saw some books arrive. Since I review books, I get books to review -- but I get more books than I could possibly read and review. That drove me to start this series of posts: every Monday morning, I list what came in the week before, and give some thoughts about those books...but here's the catch...without having read them.

This week, I also stopped in at a comics shop and bought three books; I'll throw them in here and there, and I hope I remember to mention which ones they were. (You might be able to tell, anyway.)

Pride of place this time goes to Paul McAuley's new novel The Quiet War. (It was originally published in the UK last year, but the US trade paperback, from Pyr, will hit on September 15th.) I know that this is related to the series of stories that McAuley has been writing for most of the last decade about a war between the inner and outer system. (And I'm sure many of us can think of the obvious precursors to that idea.) Looking at his bibliography, I'm startled to find that I haven't read a McAuley novel this decade, as far as I can remember -- he's been most doing near-future thrillers and similar books that I haven't been as excited by. But this is a return to the old McAuley, so I'd better find time for it.

Julie Kenner, author of the Buffy-esque "Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom" series, has another urban fantasy series running, and Torn is the second book in that series. (This one is the "Blood Lily Chronicles," which gives me a sense that it will be sexier, with more of a hothouse feeling, than the Soccer Mom books. But I'm purely guessing from the cover art and title.) I'd been intending to read the Soccer Mom books for a possible omnibus back at the Old Job (before other events intervened), but I haven't managed to read anything by Kenner, now that I come to think of it. Torn is a mass-market paperback from Ace in November; the first book in the series, Tainted, is available right now.

First of the things I paid for is Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, the fourth in the series about a young Toronto slacker, his band, his new girlfriend, and her seven evil ex-boyfriends that he has to defeat ('90s videogame style) to keep going out with her. With this book, I'm now only two years behind on the series, so I just might be able to catch up before Vol. 6 comes out.

Del Rey has published several fumetti-style graphic novels based on Cartoon Network properties -- I know I've seen at least one Ben 10 book with that dialogue-over-TV-stills look -- and they just sent me another one of them: The Secret Saturdays, Vol. 1: The Kur Stone. It's -- obviously -- from the TV show of the same name, about a cryptid-hunting family of adventurers. And this slim paperback hit stores on August 25th.

Confessions of a Demon is the first book in a new urban fantasy series about a "kick-butt demon bartender," and is the first book credited to S.L. Wright. However, the copyright is in the name Susan Wright, so I have a suspicion that this may be the same person who wrote Slave Trade and To Serve and Submit. (Or maybe not; "Susan Wright" isn't a terribly uncommon name, and I know from personal experience that there are a lot of folks out there with generic WASPy names like, say, "Andrew Wheeler.") In any case, if you like the work of the earlier Susan Wright, you might want to take a look at Confessions of a Demon, in case it is the same person. Confessions will be a mass-market from Roc in December, and I'd wager a large sum of money that more books will follow it.

Ice Land is a historical novel, set in 1000 AD (in, yes, Iceland), but it sounds like it's a fantasy historical -- the main character's name is Freya, and that must be deliberate -- so perhaps readers of Guy Gavriel Kay and similar writers might be interested in it as well. It's by Betsy Tobin, who was American-born, but who moved to England as an adult and whose publishing career has been so far mostly British-based. It's being published by Plume in trade paperback this month, with one of those classy covers that hints at genre elements but doesn't shove them to the front.

Danica Novgorodoff's second full-length graphic novel -- after last year's Slow Storm, which I reviewed for ComicMix -- is Refresh, Refresh, adapted from a screenplay of the same name by James Ponsoldt which itself was an adaptation of short story (also of the same name) by Benjamin Percy. It's set in a small community in rural Oregon, where most of the fathers have gone off as Marine reservists to the Iraq war, and many of the sons are fighting in a makeshift backyard boxing ring. It sounds awfully sure of its own literary-ness, which is not always a positive, but I'll reserve judgement until I read it.. (Slow Storm was a bit too MFA-ish itself, though it had a lot of good stuff in it.) Refresh, Refresh will be published in trade paperback in October by First Second.

R.A. Salvatore's The Dame is the third in his fantasy series "Saga of the First King," after The Highwayman and The Ancient. And, as we all know, there is nothing like a dame. So it has to be good. Salvatore is quite popular when it comes to sword-slinging fantasy -- though, if I remember, his biggest audience is for the sharecropped Forgotten Realms books, proving that book-readers can be shallow followers of characters just like their funny-book compatriots. The Dame was published in hardcover by Tor on August 18th.

Another one of the books I spent money on is the twelfth collection of the Fables comic -- by, as usual, writer Bill Willingham, artist Mark Buckingham, and a couple of others whom I will omit here out of space considerations -- titled The Dark Ages. It was published by DC (of course), and obviously it's already available, since I bought it out in the real world.

Marvel Comics sent me their two "Ender" related graphic novels -- Ender's Game: Battle School and Ender's Shadow: Battle School -- which have "Orson Scott Card" very large on the covers but seem to be written by, respectively, Christopher Yost and Mike Carey. Both were published in these hardcover editions -- collecting the original five-issue miniseries -- in August. And I hope to do a paired review of them very soon.

And last for this week is the third book I got for myself, and easily the best cover of the week: R. Sikoryak's Masterpiece Comics, collecting his various collisions between high art (Dostoevsky, Bronte, Hawthorne, etc.) and low (comics!). I've seen "Dostoevsky Comics" -- Crime and Punishment in the style of a '50s Batman comic -- before, but not the rest of this book, like the Macbeth-meets-Mary Worth "Mac Worth," or Garfield crossed with Doctor Faustus or the book of Genesis as enacted by the cast of Blondie. From a quick perusal, Sikoryak can ape all of those different styles effortlessly -- this looks like a lot of fun for radical middlebrows like myself. It was published by Drawn & Quarterly, and it's available right now.

Listening to: Future of the Left - The Hope That House Built
via FoxyTunes


Pat said...

The Susan Wright you mention as author of the past titles is very likely to be the Susan Wright who is media relations director for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

This does not mean she is not also S. L. Wright, of course, but it would be an oddly transparent pen name.

Anonymous said...

the sons are fighting in a makeshift backyard boxing ring

That's the second book I've heard of this year that seems to be trying to revive the genre of boxing stories (the other was Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia).

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