Monday, October 11, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/9

Just in case you haven't been here before, here's the scoop: every Monday morning, I post a list, very much like this one, of the books that came in my mail the week before, sent by various beloved publicists from all over publishing. Their hope is that I'll review those books -- and that's usually my hope as well, though I'm never going to manage to review every book I get. So the Monday list -- under the title "Reviewing the Mail," a description of music-reviewing I stole from Chuck Klosterman -- is entirely made up of books I haven't read yet.

But I can tell you some things about these books, based on their packaging, their publicity materials, and whatever prior knowledge I might have. And, so, this week, I'll lead off with...

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman, the third novel (after Thunderer and Gears of the City) by an acclaimed new writer and his first from Tor Books. From the cover art and the jacket copy -- describing a world with ancient lands to the East, "uncreation" far to the West, and an untamed continent in between -- this sounds like some mixture of steampunk and fantasy, set in a land like the dream of the American West. I heard good things about Gilman's first two novels, and I hope I can find time to read this one. It will be published tomorrow -- meaning you can definitely place your order right now, and maybe even grab it at your favorite local store -- in hardcover from Tor.

Also from Tor is Cat Adams's Siren Song, the sequel to Blood Song and a continuation of the urban fantasy chronicles of half-vampire bodyguard Celia Graves. Adams is an open pen name for C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, who have collaborated several times before, notably on the "Sazi" series. This is one of those contemporary fantasy worlds where the fantasy elements have been known for a while -- vampires, psychics, and so forth are all out there, causing trouble for the normal humans who bump into them. Siren Song was published in trade paperback on September 28th.

Del Rey Manga -- which, you may have heard, is about to undergo a big transformation into a distribution-only arrangement with Kodanasha USA, the US arm of the big Japanese manga publisher that has been their main licensor for the past few years -- isn't going out quietly; they have two books from Natsumi (Kitchen Princess!) Ando in October:
  • Wild @ Heart, an omnibus collecting all three volumes of a series about a girl pining for love who suddenly has to deal with her intrepid explorer father's newest find: a completely uncivilized (but "supercute") jungle boy named Hyo.
  • And the first volume of a new series, Arisa, a twin-sister story in which the seemingly perfect sister has attempted suicide and her hot-tempered, unpopular twin goes undercover as her sister to find out why.
The authors and editors I deal with professionally will tell you that I can be obsessive about titles -- they might use less flattering words, actually, particularly if you catch them at the right times -- so I may be too harsh on a book titled The Fledgling Handbook 101. But, honestly, "handbook" and "101" are different kinds of introductions to a topic -- a handbook is something you consult as you go along, for guidance, and "101" means a course, taught by an expert, to tell you the basics of something. It's entirely possibly that a Something-or-Other 101 course would have The Something-Or-Other Handbook as its set text, but the book wouldn't have both "handbook" and "101" in its title. Well, it does in this case, which may be yet another sign of falling standards of everything, or just that I've overreacting yet again. This particular Handbook is written by P.C. Cast with illustrator Kim Doner, and is a guide to the background of Cast's popular "House of Night" vampire series. St. Martin's Press will publish it in trade paperback on October 26th.

The second graphic novel in Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas" series is Odd Is on Our Side, written by Fred Van Lente and Koontz, with art by Queenie Chan. (The first one, In Odd We Trust, came out in the summer of 2008, and I reviewed it for ComicMix then.) Odd is a quirky young man in a quirky town, who solves quirky crimes with his ability to talk to the dead. (Did I mention that this series is quirky? It's pretty quirky.) This one came out in trade paperback from Del Rey last week.

S.G. Browne's second novel, Fated, is a romantic comedy about Fabio (you'd call him Fate) and his frustrations -- Destiny gets all of the interesting, happy people, Death has been feuding with him for a few centuries, and his best friends are Sloth and Gluttony. It sounds fun and breezy, like Browne's first novel, Breathers (a comedy about a zombie). I still haven't read Breathers, though I just realized that I did see Browne read from it last year in San Francisco. [1] Breathers sounded like a lot of fun then, and I'm sure Fated -- which I really hope I can get to soon -- will be equally zippy and entertaining. New American Library is publishing Fated in trade paperback on November 2nd.

Tom Pomplun's "Graphic Classics" empire rolls on, with a new book about every six months, each one adapting a passel of stories (usually by one famous dead writer, usually with some connection to popular genres like mystery or SF) by a variety of interesting creators. The new book for the back half of 2010 is Christmas Classics, which has seven major adaptations -- including the two big obvious ones, Clement Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," plus stories from O. Henry, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Conan Doyle, Willa Cather, and Fitz-James O'Brien -- with art from people like Rick Geary and Hunt Emerson. It's publishing this month, well in time for the holidays.

And last for this week is something very unexpected: a new paperback edition of The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb, showcasing drawings and sketchbook pages from the noted curmudgeon that find in his less typical moods and habits. It's coming from Norton on November 1st, and I've long thought that I haven't read enough Crumb -- though I've never been quite sure where to start, and the gigantic chronological Fantagraphics reprint series hasn't been much help there -- so I'm very happy to see it.

[1] Note how I sneak that in, to make myself sound cosmopolitan? That's the only reading I've been to in the last year or so, and only of less than half a dozen I've attended in my whole life. I only went because the other half of the bill was Jeff VanderMeer, reading from his great then-new novel Finch, and I happened to be in SF for an accountant's conference.

No comments:

Post a Comment