Monday, April 08, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/6

As always, below are some kind of descriptions for a passel of books that either just came out or are coming soon. They were all sent to me by their respective publishers, who would dearly love it if some or all of you bought and read and loved those books (preferably in that order). I haven't yet read any of them, but my hope is that I can tell you what's interesting about them here -- let's see how that goes.

Without a Summer is Mary Robinette Kowal's third novel, continuing the story of a slightly alternate fantasy Regency period and of the two talented "glamourists" who met, married, and honeymooned in the first two books, Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass (links go to my reviews on Antick Musings). Summer sees Jane and David (or, to be more period-appropriate, Mr. and Mrs. Vincent) return from Belgium to visit Jane's family, and then up to London with Jane's younger sister, Melody, in hopes of catching her a husband. Of course, international intrigue is also promised -- as in Glamour -- but I trust Kowal to keep it in scale with the domestic, personal, specific style of the series. Without a Summer is a Tor hardcover; it hit stores last week.

(And I'd show this cover to anyone who complains of the many book covers that chop off people's heads -- the heads here are perfectly agreeable, and the look of the art is perfectly appropriate, but it's all a little too specific and modern for my eye. These people are a little too much models in 2012 to quite make me believe they're real people from a fantasy 1812.)

I also have three books published by Yen Press this month -- all manga, since that what Yen does:

Pandora Hearts, Vol. 15 continues the series by Jun Mochizuki that I have to regretfully note that I haven't actually read. The series is some kind of retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I think, perhaps mixed with other stories -- the back cover of this one promises Humpty Dumpty -- but I can't be much more of a guide than that.

I'm similarly innocent of knowledge about Black Butler, whose thirteenth volume is here as well. Yana Toboso's series is set in a typically manga-fied Edwardian era, with a young nobleman and his omnicompetent butler, but, at this point, the main cast is on a ship which I believe is besieged by zombies.

And the third Yen Press book I have this week is Doubt, Vol. 1, a big fat book launching a series by Yoshiki Tonogai. It's another game-come-to-life book, and also a distant descendant of Battle Royale and/or And Then There Were None -- a group of players of a popular mobile game decide to meet in person to play a live version, but find themselves kidnapped to the usual inescapable place, faced with a corpse, and forced to figure out which of them is the real killer.

Walter Mosley has had an interesting little series going with Tor for the last couple of years, under the overall title "Crosstown to Oblivion." Each volume contains two ostensibly unrelated short novels, and the whole thing will add up to "entertainingly [explore] life's cosmic questions." The third and final book is Stepping Stone/Love Machine, which follows The Gift of Fire/The Head of a Pin and Merge/Disciple. They seem to be more thematically connected than otherwise, so a new reader could start as well with the third book -- just out last week in hardcover from Tor -- as with either of the previous two.

Also from Tor -- coming at the end of the month -- is Freda Warrington's Grail of the Summer Stars, finishing up the "Aetherial Tales" trilogy that began with Elfland and continued with Midsummer Night. It looks like a loose series -- perhaps entirely connected by a common background, rather than characters or action -- in which the Aetherial folk (aka the fay, or fairies, etc.) come into the lives of normal humans -- in this case, the manager of an art gallery who finds a disturbing painting by her estranged ex-boyfriend. There are admiring quotes from Charles de Lint -- whose work may be one touchstone here -- as well as Liz Williams and Chaz Brenchley; this looks to be a smart fantasy rather than a purely generic one.

I saw Paul Cornell's London Falling -- the beginning of a dark contemporary fantasy series about a group of London cops facing unexpected supernatural evil -- a few weeks ago, in a perishable advance-reader form, but it's back this week in final hardcover, as it will be published by Tor in another week.

And last this time out is Bart Simpson: Big Shot!, the latest book reprinting the stories from Bongo Comics. This one reprints what looks like five random issues of Bart Simpson (plus a Simpsons Summer Shindig for spice), but all of the stories are standalone -- like in the good old days of comics, when millions of regular people read them all the time -- so that won't matter. There's work in here from Sergio Aragones, Carol Lay, Gilbert Hernandez, and other unexpected folks, too. It's an affordable trade paperback from Harper, officially hitting stores tomorrow.

1 comment:

Shane said...

I'm assuming you have probably heard about the controversy surrounding the pontential purchase of Night Shade Books by Skyhorse Publishing. I would love to hear your thoughts on this as someone inside the publishing industry but not biased by being directly involved.

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