Monday, November 19, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/17

First of all, let me point you back to last week's post, which has finally been updated. (Getting settled at home after a week-long vacation didn't leave quite as much free time as I had hoped.)

And then, the usual notes: these are books that showed up, more or less unexpectedly, in my mailbox over the past week, each sent by a publicity person from their respective publishers. This is a wonderful thing, so I want to give all of these books some attention, even if don't end up reading and actually reviewing all of them. Below is what I can tell you about them right now -- it may be slightly incorrect (or even biased, since I don't love everything equally, like anyone else), but it's relatively honest and arguably positive.

Last week I saw the most recent installment of Atsushi Ohkubo's demon-fighting manga Soul Eater (the eleventh volume), and this week brings the second volume of the spin-off, Soul Eater NOT! (also by Ohkubo). This one seems to be sillier, and more focused on "partnering" between scythemeisters and their (sentient, shape-shifting, often female) weapons, with the romantic/sexual undertones that implies. (I might have to ask my older son, who read the first one -- in fact, he grabbed it away almost before I saw it.)

The Inexplicables is not a new superhero team -- well, it probably is, somewhere, but this particular manifestation is not. It is, instead, a new novel by steampunk queen Cherie Priest, the fourth book in her loosely-linked, alternate-historical, zombies-in-Seattle "Clockwork Century" series. And it's a trade paperback from Tor, hitting stores November 13th.

But The Ultra Violets is both a new superhero team and a novel -- the former made up of four girls, best friends, who are splattered with a mysterious purple goo that transforms them, and the latter the story of their adventures, written by Sophie Bell with illustrations by Chris Battle. The latter is aimed at middle schoolers -- who will have to wait until April of 2013, when Razorbill will publish it -- and, I would suspect, in particular young women who want a Powerpuff Girls for their generation. It looks quite cutesy and fun, in a very girly way.

Scott Westerfeld's bestselling Uglies series spawned a graphic novel a year or so ago, and it's clearly still fecund (to extend a shaky, unpleasant metaphor), since a second GN, Cutters, has just appeared. It's written by Westerfeld with long-time comics writer Devin Grayson, and features art by Steven Cummings, who has also been part of the Udon collective. This book is a side-story to the main novels, telling the story of Shay's time in New Pretty Town from her point of view. And it will be available on December 4th from Del Rey.

King of the Dead is the second book in a dark urban fantasy series by Joseph Nassise -- the first was Eyes to See, in which series hero Jeremiah Hunt gave up normal sight for the ability to see the supernatural world. This time, Hunt and his compatriots (urban fantasy heroes always have compatriots; it's the core Scooby-Doo DNA of the genre) travel to New Orleans, one step ahead of the feds hunting for them as serial killers and just in time to try to battle a nasty evil something-or-other. This one is a Tor hardcover, publishing on November 27th.

From Tor's corporate sibling Thomas Dunne Books comes Weston Ochse's SEAL Team 666, a thriller about the special forces that battle supernatural threats, with the tone and style of the Clancy-derived technothriller. I'm probably jaundiced, but it looks to me like Stross's "Laundry Files" series, written for your cousin who only reads James Patterson. (Although that could probably be a lot of fun, come to think of it.) Seal Team 666 hits stores on December 11.

David Walton's Quintessence is an alternate-historical novel, set in a 14th century where the Earth is flat and magic works, and it promises "alchemy, human dissection, sea monsters, betrayal, torture, religious controversy, and magic." (I'm slightly worried that the publisher feels the need to mention both human dissection and torture, as if they're both selling points, but it otherwise sounds awesome.) Quintessence does not sound like anything else out there, which is a huge plus. And it's coming from Tor as a hardcover in March.

And last for this week is Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, the first book of a new series (The Dragon Prophecy) set in the same world as their prior two trilogy-length collaborations, The Obsidian Trilogy and The Enduring Flame. This may be a prequel to those earlier series, and the publisher's copy promises things like "the truth about the Elven Queen Vielissiar Faricarnon, who was the first to face the Endarkened in battle and the first to bond with a dragon." If you're looking for that kind of big fantasy, full of "Elves and demons, unicorns and goblins, and Mages and warriors", then this is exactly what you want. It's a Tor hardcover, hitting stores last week.

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