Monday, October 14, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/12

Nearly every week, I get some books in the mail, sent to me by the hard-working publicists of trade book publishing. I will never manage to read and review them all here, and (if I'm honest), I don't really try to review many of them. But, still, I want to at least let people know they exist, because the book I don't quite manage to pick up could be the book you absolutely love and cross the snowy tundra to grab a precious copy.

So these are the books that showed up on my doorstep this past week. I'll do my best to present what's good or special about each of them, though I should note that my default tone is amused disdain, so that may come out unexpectedly. This week, I've organized them in strictly size order, from the smallest to the largest, because that's the easiest way to stack them on my desk.

And so first up is the new paperback edition of Noble Smith's The Wisdom of the Shire, a guide to living a happy life inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's novels. It aspires to be The Tao of Pooh for this generation, and is only slightly handicapped by not having an ancient and respected religion to map its particular cultural artifact to. Instead, Smith excavates his lessons for living directly from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings -- more on the "live quietly and happily" side rather than "stand up to the great evil of your time no matter what the personal costs" side, I gather -- and presents them in the standard self-help book format. This is a small trade paperback from Thomas Dunne Books, available just before Halloween.

Next up is the first book in a secondary-world fantasy series, Masks by E.C. Blake. It's not being published specifically as a "Young Adult" book, but it has many of the marker of the modern type, and is noted as being "young adult friendly." So we have what I'm sure will turn out to be a despotic ruler, the Autarch of Aygrima, and the Very Significant Ceremony of Adulthood, in this case the bestowal of individual magical Masks that both define the bearer's magical Gifts and profession and bind them to that Autarch. Our heroine, Mara, is the daughter of the Master Maskmaker, and of course her Masking leads to a vastly different outcome than she expected, and I would wager a sizable sum of quatloos that she and her eventual allies will topple that Autarch by the end of the trilogy. Masks is a hardcover from DAW books, on sale November 5th.

Another is a big fat manga volume -- apparently complete in one book, which is rare and notable for manga -- adapted and drawn by Hiro Kiyohara from the original novel of the same name by Yukito Ayatsuji. It's a mystery/horror story set in a Japanese middle school: a boy joins a class, and discovers that a student of the same age died twenty-five years before, and is still haunting the class (or something like that). With a girl who may be related to the dead boy, he has to unravel the mystery before the escalating deaths among his classmates and their families reach him. It's from Yen Press, and is available now.

Tom Lloyd wrote a fantasy series called the Twilight Reign -- five books so far, starting with The Stormcaller -- and now there's a companion book of short stories set in the same world, The God Tattoo. It's a trade paperback from Pyr, hitting stores on November 5th.

And last for this week is the new Xanth book from Piers Anthony, Esrever Doom. It's the 37th in the series and is guaranteed to contain more bad puns than any other book published this year. Once again, a young man from Mundania (our world) arrives in Xanth after a magical transformation, and must find the Good Wizard to set things right. (And if that plot description seems vaguely familiar in a pre-Xanth sense, you won't have been the first to note it.) It's a Tor hardcover coming October 22nd, and the big danger this time is decoded by reversing the title.

No comments:

Post a Comment