Monday, September 27, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/25

Usually, "Reviewing the Mail" is a wander through the stacks of books that the publicists of the world -- and I don't think we appreciate publicists enough, honestly -- have sent me that week, along with my ritual declarations of Not Having Read Them Yet and Making Possibly Unwarranted Assumptions from Back-Cover Copy. However, this week that stack only contained two books, which is quite wee and not really up to a full-bore Monday-morning blog post.

Luckily, though, I have some other books, which I paid for, to mention as well. So "Reviewing the Mail," this week, will be in three parts, just like Gaul:

one of which the Belgae inhabit (Books in the Mail proper) -- First here is a new vampire novel with the possibly audience-confusing title Twilight Forever Rising, by Russian author Lena Meydan and translated by Andrew Bromfield. Now, I don't think that anyone not named Stephenie Meyer should be barred from writing vampire novels with the word "Twilight" in the title, but, if one is already translating from a language that doesn't use the Roman alphabet, one might be able to find a synonym that won't confuse a legion of passionate teenage girls. (On the other hand, maybe I'm crazy to suggest that a vampire novel with a good reason to have the word "twilight" in its title should ever shy away from that.) In either case, this has nothing to do with sparkly vampires -- Meydan's hero is a rare vampire empath, struggling to balance his personal desires and the needs of his house (and, it looks like, some Fate of the World issues as well). Again, Meydan is Russian, so I would not be surprised if there were some Doom involved. Twilight Forever Rising is coming in trade paperback from Tor on September 28th; it's billed on the cover as "A Novel of the Vampire Clans," so there may well be more in this series coming.

The other book that came in the mail is so different from Meydan's that it can't be mentioned in the same breath; it's Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon, latest in the graphic novel series (beloved by middle-grade girls) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. This time, our heroine is determined to raise the most money for her school library to win a contest -- and, of course, help the library, too. It's the thirteenth in the series, and is the usual small paperback from Random House, hitting shelves on September 28th.

the Aquitani another (bought at Borders) -- Borders e-mails coupons to their club members -- so far, even to the free tier of members, like me -- like clockwork these days, three or four times a week, so that there's always an active coupon to induce one to go shop there. (And Borders is my default Big Bookstore, since it's the one closest and easiest to get to from my house -- proximity being huge in retail.) This last Friday, the Borders marketing machine spit out one of the top-end coupons -- 40% off paperbacks, up to two per person -- so I grabbed the list of stuff I was going to buy anyway, checked it against the website's predictions of what would be in store, and bought:

Sundome, Vol. 7 by Kazuto Okada. I don't know if I'd call myself a fan of this creepy teen psychosexual manga series, but it is the only manga that I make a point to keep reading, even if I don't get review copies. (I reviewed Vol. 6 as Book-A-Day #4, and there are links from there back to what I wrote about the first five volumes.) You probably won't want to read this series in public, but it's a fascinating -- if at times unpleasantly so -- and unflinching look at obsessive young sexuality.

And then there's Julia Wertz's Drinking at the Movies, the first full-length graphic novel from the creator of the webcomic The Fart Party. It's a memoir of her move to Brooklyn -- and, from what I can see, her realization that she was drinking way too much -- but I have hopes that it's better than the flood of memoir comics that the big New York houses have been pumping out for the past few years.

those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third (books from Top Shelf) -- So the excellent small comics company Top Shelf had a sale a couple of weeks ago, and I bought a bunch of books from them. Those books also arrived this week:

Super F*ckers by James Kochalka, which is some kind of teen superhero book in the inimitable Kochalka style. I haven't seen anything by Kochalka yet that isn't worth reading, and I love repeating his name over and over again, too -- Kochalka Kochalka Kochalka.

The 120 Days Of Simon by Simon Gardenfors. Gardenfors is a Swedish cartoonist, and this was his stunt book: he advertised on the Internet for places to stay, since he wanted to stay away from his home for four months, and not stay in the same place more than two nights (and, then, get a book out of it as well).

The King by Rich Koslowski. I got this graphic novel about Elvis -- who isn't dead, apparently -- because it was really cheap, Top Shelf published it (so it must be pretty good), and because I liked Kozlowski's "Three Geeks" strips when I saw them, years ago. Hey, why not?

Moving Pictures is a newish graphic novel -- came out at the beginning of the summer, I think -- by Kathryn & Stuart Immonen, and having something to do with French art collections during WWII. The reviews have been good, and the Immonens have done good work before.

I know almost nothing about Niklas Asker's Second Thoughts, which was another part of Top Shelf's big burst of works by Swedish cartoonists earlier this year. But it was on sale, and what are sales for, if not for trying new things?

And last is James Kochalka again, with American Elf, Vol. 2, the second collection of his online diary strip. I read the third collection as Book-A-Day # 61, and was impressed then by how well this daily strip reads in larger chunks, and I've wanted to work backwards to the earlier collections since then.

And that's what showed up in my house to read over the past week -- well, not counting a large pile of books from the library (I dove into their online database again, looking for graphic novels I'd missed) -- and I expect a majority of them will show up as Book-A-Day posts in the next month.

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