Monday, May 30, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/28

Welcome to another week! (And I suspect any of you are reading this somewhat later in the week than usual, given that Monday is a holiday here in the US of A.) As always, this is a list of the books that arrive in my mailbox during the previous week, with whatever interesting facts or tidbits I can tell you about those books, even though I haven't read any of them yet.

This time out, we start off with the new book of stories for younger readers by David Lubar, Attack of the Vampire Weenies. (Lubar's got a thing for weenies; this is his fifth collection of comically horrifying stories for pre-adults, all of which had weenies somewhere in the title.) There are thirty-three stories here in under two hundred pages; when you write for kids, you need to leave out all the stuff that's boring or unnecessary, since kids won't just skip it, they'll quite entirely. Vampire Weenies was published in hardcover last week by Tor's Starscape young-readers imprint.

The next book is aimed at slightly older younger readers -- the vast hordes of teenagers who insist that no one understands them, that their lives are utterly different and harder than anything that anyone has previously experienced, and that gobble down near-future dystopian novels about Teens Just Like Them. In the case of Marie Lu's debut novel Legend, the means a divided future America (with the Republic and the Colonies), the flooded remnants of Los Angeles, what seems like the usual secretly repressive and corrupt military dictatorship, and two fifteen-year-olds (a boy and a girl, naturally) from opposite sides of the tracks who meet when one is accused of murdering the brother of the other -- and, from there, they of course "uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets." Legend will be published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on November 29th, and there will, of course, be sequels following it.

Luckily, the next book I have is much less definable, or predictable: Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel, written by Jonathan Walker and extensively illustrated by Dan Hallett. It's a heavily designed book -- inspired by the King James Bible, the cover letter says, and every sentence is numbered within chapters to prove it -- with both a section of vellum-finished plates and illustrations throughout the text, to tell the story of five orphans, all "marred at birth and forever cast out as outsiders in an uncaring world." The publisher helpfully notes that Five Wounds is "a densely layered tale for anyone who enjoys surreal and sordid graphic novels." (So I'm expecting all of the fans of The Rise of Arsenal to look for this one.) Five Wounds was published in the UK by Allen & Unwin, and is being distributed on this side of the pond by Trafalgar Square, starting in June.

And last for this week is Christopher Hart's Basic Anatomy for the Manga Artist, coming from Watson-Guptill on June 11th. I'm probably not the person to evaluate this -- I nearly failed a theater class in college when we got to the section where we had to draw scenery in perspective -- but Hart is definitely the guy to do it; he's written and illustrated several bestselling books of drawing instruction focused on manga styles, including the foundational Manga for the Beginner. And this book looks really useful for people who can actually draw, starting with the proportions of the typical manga-character skull and moving on through standard facial features, skeletons, muscles, motion and on to clothing, props, and so on.

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