Monday, August 09, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 8/7/21

It's a good-sized list this week: one book I bought and a bunch from the library, since my stock of books-to-read-quickly is at low ebb, and my life isn't such as to give it the flood it had in Elder Days. (Not complaining: I still have more books than I can read, and getting more is not in any way difficult. The problem, as always, is choice.)

The book I bought is Afterthoughts, Version 2.0, an updated and revised collection of new introductions and afterwords to his old books by Lawrence Block. I say "new," but the first edition is a decade old, so much of the material is at least that "new," which may seem less than "new" to some readers. But when Block is writing about books from 1958 or 1963, even 2010 is pretty new. I read the first edition nearly a decade ago, soon after it was published, and wanted to see what was different this time. (Also: the cover of the real book has covers of actual Block books on those stacks of generic books you see on this preliminary cover image, so he either learned Photoshop himself or paid someone who's pretty good at it.)

Everything else, from this point down, is from the library, so I'll only say that once. OK, maybe twice: these are from the mighty Emmanuel Einstein Library of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, though all of them originated from other nearby towns (Passaic! Verona! Woodland Park! Wayne!)

The Midwinter Witch is the third book in the series by Molly Knox Ostertag that began with The Witch Boy. I may have thought it was the second one, since I don't think I've read the actual #2, The Hidden Witch. I'm going to write about this book in about twenty minutes, since I read it yesterday, so I'll leave it at that here. See my post on the first book for more details.

PTSD is a graphic novel by Guillaume Singelin, from the small list of books for adults from First Second. (They publish a lot more for younger readers of various ages, and I've generally found all of their books are strong.) I know I've seen good reviews of it, but that was probably two years ago when it was published in English, so I don't recall exactly where at this point. It is some manner of post-apocalyptic SF in comics form, by a creator I don't think I've ever read.

I'm not sure if I should read Minecraft: Wither Without You, Vol. 2 by Kristen Gudsnuk. I got it because I've liked all of Gudsnuk's books I've seen so far, and know enough about Minecraft (not much, but I did play it very briefly in the very early days) to be willing to see what she does here. I also vaguely thought that the first Wither Without You either was not by Gudsnuk or was not available in my library system...but neither of those things are true.

The problem is that Wither One is not available for hold, and there's only one copy in the system. So I'd have to drive to the library in West Milford (and I have no idea where that is, though I could obviously find out easily), during a time when it is open, find that book on the shelf (assuming no one else has done so in the meantime), and get it that way. I don't think I have the time for any of that in my life currently, so I might just read this one and see how much sense it makes.

Ascender, Vol. 3: The Digital Mage continues the series by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen that I have been making mild fun of the last few months. The series as a whole is also a sequel to their earlier Descender. And this one looks just as gorgeous and silly as the first two.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 10: Life Is Too Short, Squirrel is another one of the books collecting that popular and now-ended series. This one was written by longtime series mainstay Ryan North, drawn by then-new artist Derek Charm (with one issue by Naomi Franquiz), and colored by Rico Renzi, also a long-timer. The first issue here is the obligatory Death of Squirrel Girl! fake-out, which every superhero must do roughly once a decade. (Both Marvel and DC have big charts on prominent walls in their offices, I am morally sure, to keep track of who is dead at the moment and who is in which costume. Or maybe it's a private app, these days.) I've read the series up to this point, and it looks like I'm going to finish it up.

And last is Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil, which the "read this next" page insists is the third collection of the Black Hammer series written by Jeff Lemire. (I am more than a little dubious, as you may guess, but this is certainly in the same universe. And I'm willing to believe this story doesn't so much move forward as proliferate.) This one is drawn by David Rubin, who also did one issue in the second collection of the main Black Hammer series. I expect I will find this much less impressive than the longjohns fans do, but the library still has another couple Black Hammer-verse books, so I'm hoping it will be good enough that I can keep reading and actually get the end of the story Lemire started in the main series. (This assumes there is an end to that story, which may be an unwarranted assumption, given it's a superhero comic.)

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