Monday, April 25, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/23

And a Happy Monday to you all; hope you all got through whatever holiday festivities that may have bedeviled you over the last few days. This is my usual Monday-morning post, listing all of the books that arrived the previous week in my mailbox. As always, I haven't read any of them yet, though I do hope and intend to read (and then review) several of them -- but we all know where pavement made from intentions leads.

This week, I'll begin with graphic novels and with urban fantasy -- though I'll loop back to non-graphic novel urban fantasy at the end, for that oh-so-chic circular literary structure that we critics adore -- to show off the nice cover for Blood Work. It's an original graphic novel set in the world of Kim Harrison's "The Hollows" series, written by Harrison and illustrated by Pedro Maia and Gemma Magno. As often happens with graphic extensions of series, this is a prequel, telling the story of the first meeting between Harrison's series heroine Rachel Morgan and the vampire Ivy Tamwood. Blood Work will be published by Del Rey in hardcover on July 11th.

Anya's Ghost is the first book by Russian-born cartoonist Vera Brosgol, and it comes with impressive advance quotes -- Neil Gaiman calls it "a masterpiece," and Scott McCloud wrote that "Brosgol is the kind of cartoonist I want to be when I grow up." Anya is a girl with enough problems -- she's self-conscious about her body, embarrassed by her Russian family, and having trouble fitting in at school -- when she accidentally falls down a well and makes an unexpected (and unshakable) new friend: the ghost of a girl who died a century before. Anya's Ghost will be published by First Second in June.

Also from First Second is Level Up, a graphic novel written by Gene Luen Yang and drawn by Thien Pham. It's another story about growing up Asian-American, with pushy immigrant parents demanding their son become a doctor -- in this case, Dennis Ouyang is supposed to become a gastroenterologist. Dennis, of course, would rather slack off and play video games. But perhaps he's destined to become a gastroenterologist, and perhaps there are forces that will make that happen, no matter what he wants. Level Up is also coming in June.

Peter S. Beagle has a new collection of stories, Sleight of Hand, published by Tachyon in March, and it's almost entirely stories originally published since his 2009 collection, We Never Talk About My Brother. If I need to tell you who Peter Beagle is (author of A Fine and Private Place and The Last Unicorn and "Lila the Werewolf," etc.), I think you're reading the wrong blog.

Tachyon has also just published a new anthology of horror stories edited by Joe R. Lansdale, Crucified Dreams. It contains nineteen reprint stories about nasty things -- some of them supernatural, but some of them not -- taking place in cities, from Harlan Ellison's "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" to Lucius Shepard's "Beast of the Heartland," including work from Joe Haldeman, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Shea, Octavia E. Butler, Michael Bishop, Jeffrey Ford, and Lansdale himself.

I said I'd get back to urban fantasy, didn't I? And so I will, with Central Park Knight, the second in a new series by C.J. Henderson (after Brooklyn Knight) about Professor Piers Knight, the Brooklyn Museum's own Indiana Jones. (You know how it is -- first the Natural History Museum got an Indiana Jones, and then the Met had to get one, and now everyone down to the Museum of the Moving Image has a request on Bloomberg's desk.) This time out, all of the dragons have returned -- they were sleeping until unexpectedly woken in the first book -- and are both battling each other with nuclear weapons and (one of them, at least) bent on conquering the world, including humanity. Professor Knight, clearly, would prefer for that not to happen, and Tor will be happy to sell you the trade paperback of Central Park Knight, explaining how he saves the world, on May 10th.

Also in the urban fantasy vein is Kitty's Greatest Hits, a collection of stories by Carrie Vaughn, all set in the world of her popular series character Kitty Norville. (Not all of the stories, of course, are directly about Kitty, or in her voice -- that's why someone writes sidebar stories in the world of a first person series; to get to other pieces of that world and other perspectives that the series heroine can't reach.) I'm unabashedly a fan of this series, and I don't mind saying so...though I also have to admit that I've found myself three books behind due to Vaughn's admirable work ethic. Greatest Hits will be a trade paperback from Tor in August.

And last for this week is another book by Vaughn, though this one is completely unrelated to Kitty Norville. After the Golden Age is a superhero novel, about the forensic accountant daughter of the two greatest heroes of her world, who herself is utterly powerless and an often-nabbed hostage. Vaughn can write great stories, and she's been doing superheroes for a few years now via Wild Cards, so she knows the genre. And I have an interest in forensic accounting from my day job -- so I think I'll be reading this just-published Tor hardcover sooner rather than later.

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