Monday, July 22, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of July 20

It's been scorchingly hot in my neck of the wood this past week, which has kept me out of the basement office -- basements are cooler than the outside, but that's only a minor consolation when the temperatures are in the mid-90s -- and that only adds to my typical blogging lethargy. But I'm here now, with a stack of books to tell you about, and a hope that it's slightly less hot wherever you are (or that your climate control is better than this room's).

These books are arrived on my doorstep over the past week, sent by publicists working for their respective publishing companies. I haven't read any of them yet, and some of them may not be things I'd personally love -- but your tastes aren't necessarily mine, so here's what looks most interesting or amusing about these books:

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has been chronicling the adventures of her fictional version of that historical con artist the Count Saint-Germain for about thirty-five years, to the point where I expect a lot of readers believe she invented the character herself. Yarbro's version of Saint-Germain is an immortal vampire, and her novels are scattered across his long life and not organized in any specific chronological sequence. The new one is Night Pilgrims, set in Egypt and the Holy Land during the time of the Crusades -- I think specifically the early 13th century due to a reference to "Jenghiz Khan" -- in which the Count guides a group of pilgrims to some hidden holy sites, possibly seduces a noblewoman, and deals with various kinds of intrigue. It's a Tor hardcover, on sale the 30th of July.

Ace -- which was my favorite publisher for a long time in the '80s, and still does a lot of books I love -- has three mass-market paperbacks coming in August:

Pile of Bones launches the "Parallel Parks" series by Bailey Cunningham, in which a group of graduate students spend their nights in a local park-cum-alternate-world, where they become DD&Dish adventurers. Of course, things don't stay simple -- or contained -- for long.

Ilona Andrews is back with the sixth book in the "Kate Daniels" series in Magic Rises. Daniels is some manner of shapeshifter in Atlanta -- and is also apparently a "mercenary," which I guess doesn't mean she works for Blackwater guarding supplies in Iraq, but I have no idea what it does mean -- and fantasy-married to "Curran, the Beast Lord," because that's what happens to an urban fantasy heroine. This time out, she and her Beast Lord are trying to get the fantasy medicine needed to save juvenile shapeshifters, which they can only get from the usual ancient and sneaky Europeans.

And the third Ace paperback is Jean Johnson's Hellfire, third in a military-SF series called "Theirs Not to Reason Why." The heroine is a prophetic starship captain named Ia who needs to "save the galaxy" -- possibly from the invading Salik, but it sounds like something bigger than that. There also seems to be a near-Thomas Covenant level of doom lingering in the air, for those looking for that. There's nothing that says this is the end of a trilogy, but it is a third book.

To change gears entirely, next I have Simpsons Comics Colossal Compendium: Volume 1, a new collection of the comics -- launching a new series, it says, though it's not terribly different from the other reprints of the comics series. Still, it's 176 pages of Simpsons comics, by a whole bunch of people (each story has credits, but the book doesn't compile them in any way). It's a trade paperback from Harper Design, hitting stores on July 30.

I saw a pre-publication promo piece for Joe Sacco's new "book" (more on that later) The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme about a month ago, but now the actual object itself is in front of me. As I just implied, it's an odd package: a slipcase containing a single wordless 24-foot long drawing (accordion-folded between heavy boards) by Sacco and a booklet with an essay about the battle by Adam Hochschild and notes on the drawing by Sacco. It's certainly an interesting object, and I look forward to staring at for a while. It's coming from Norton on November 4th.

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