bunrab: (alien reading)
[personal profile] bunrab
First, some "real books" -
Living With the Dead by Kelley Armstrong. Her Women of the Otherworld series features various types of supernaturals living hidden in plain sight among humans. In this volume, several of the threads that have each been the subject of a separate book previously - the tabloid reporter, the rogue werewolf, the wizards' corporations, all get pulled together around a commune of clairvoyants and a completely ordinary human personal-assistant-to-a-celebrity whose celebrity gets murdered. If you like the series, you will like this one; if you haven't read any of the others, this is definitely NOT the place to start, since much depends on the reader already knowing about half-demons' powers, werewolf pack structure, etc.

Sojourn by Jana Oliver. Subtitled "Time Rovers, Book 1." Time travel agents of a private corporation have to sometimes drag the paying customers back from the eras they've gone to. Cynda has to retrieve someone from Victorian London during Jack the Ripper's spree - while also battling the fact that the company she works for is going bankrupt and trying to strand her away from her own time, to save money. And then there's the factor even Cynda didn't know about: the mysterious Transitives, who can change their appearance at will, though they have no other special powers. This serves as an OK murder mystery (one of the Time Rovers; although we're given some insight into the Ripper murders, the novel doesn't take on the issue of who did them or what his real motivations were) and a bit of Victorian romance. I started the sequel, Virtual Evil, but haven't finished it yet - it seems less interesting (for one thing, we're still in 1888 - no new time period, new characters not as interesting.)

And then there's a bunch of
Graphic novels/comics
Those of you who think you're not interested in graphic novels can skip this bunch of books - though you should think again; some of the best new science fiction and fantasy is coming out as graphic novels rather than plain-text novels. And other stuff.

Cryptozoo Crew, Vol. 1 by Allan Gross and Jerry Carr. Very funny - Tork and Tara Darwyn search for everything from cave monkeys to the abominable snowman, in a collection of several episodes of this comic book. No particular continuity from episode to episode - this is not a graphic novel - though once found, the cave monkeys do show up again as background characters in subsequent episodes. A lot of puns. An awful lot of very bad puns. The last episode features space aliens, with a funny epilog.

Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon et al. A complete waste of the time it took to read it. Only worth looking at if you are a fanatic who must have every single Firefly item ever marketed. As a graphic book, it's a complete failure; the characters go unexplained, the plot is patchy to nonexistent, no background is provided, so we have no idea of what the pretty people in the drawings are about. The brief text introduction provides no useful information in that regard. Impossible to follow what might be the plot unless you've seen the movie, and difficult even then.

Bram Stoker's Dracula works quite well as a graphic novel. Stoker's original words are used; this isn't simplified. The drawing style is rather manga, with big heads and huge round eyes, but surprisingly, I didn't find that offputting. Catching Renfield, burying Lucy, and the death of Quincy Morris are all quite nicely done. In short, this is an arrangement of the original that carried most of the proper characterization and plot elements, and could indeed serve to draw younger readers in to the idea of reading the book. (Unlike, say, a recent graphic version of Merchant of Venice that I read, where the language was simplified, often right into totally inappropriate 21st century idiom, and where the contrast between the modern dress of the characters and the ships that were at risk rendered the plot less comprehensible, rather than more.) Heh - a first-rate estate agent is always prepared.

American Born Chinese - Gene Yuen Lang. Very nicely done semi-autobiographical graphic novel, mixing portions of everyday Chinese-American schoolchild with the WASP schoolchild he wishes he had and episodes of fantasy drawn from traditional Chinese myths and legends, to illustrate the problems of coming to terms with being a minority. All of which makes it sound terribly serious and sententious, and it isn't. It's a nice story, plot moves right along, neat characters, and I love the Monkey King stories. Not only is this a good story, it's one I don't think would work as a plain-text novel; it really does show the advantages of the graphic novel form to certain kinds of stories.

Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes. Subtitled "a comic-strip novel" rather than a graphic novel, each chapter of this book is a separate little two or four page episode, some of which don't seem to be connected at first. The different stories eventually twine together. As in a real mystery, a few threads are left unresolved. The characters include the comic book critic, the pompous would-be poet, the schoolchildren, the visiting niece, Leopold & Loeb - yes, Leopold & Loeb. You'll recognize the little kid David - if you've ever seen any of Clowes' work at all, even just illustrations in weekly free papers, you've seen the fuzzy-sweatered kid with no expression.

Date: 2009-02-25 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crazywritergirl.livejournal.com
Disclaimer: I'm the author of the Time Rovers Series. If you find you can't continue on beyond VIRTUAL EVIL, I'm pleased you got a chance to read SOJOURN.

If you do continue to work your way through the series you won't be leaving the 1888/2057 time periods until at the end of Book #3 (MADMAN'S DANCE). Jacynda's story is a three-book arc. By the end of the third book the reader will learn that Chris' death was the catalyst for a number of events. The story also plays out the whole grand game between the Futures, the Transitives and 1888. Beginning in the fourth book there will be a switch to a different time period and a new couple of Rovers. Someday I have to learn how to write standalone novels with in a series (grin).


Date: 2009-02-27 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilsithlady.livejournal.com
I really want to read this series now.

Re: Fascinating!

Date: 2009-02-27 01:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilsithlady.livejournal.com
I just went and looked and my library doesn't have either book. Time to go to Borders.

Re: Fascinating!

Date: 2009-02-27 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bunrab.livejournal.com
You could always request them through interlibrary loan - Howard County, MD has them!

Re: Fascinating!

Date: 2009-02-27 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crazywritergirl.livejournal.com
The first two are available as free e-books at various locations on the web, including Scribd (www.scribd.com)if you can handle reading books in that fashion.

Date: 2009-02-27 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bunrab.livejournal.com
Thanks for clarifying the story arc. I just found another of yours on the library's book shelves. So I'll give it a try!

I have to admit, Victorian is just not my favorite era - I am a Regency/Napoleonic era buff. Napoleon, after all, killed a great many more English people, in a great many more exotic settings, than Jack ever did.

Date: 2009-02-27 01:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crazywritergirl.livejournal.com
Since you're fond of the Napoleonic Era, have you read any of Naomi Novik's TEMERAIRE series?

You found another one of my books? Oh dear. It's probably be one of my early works. As in early self-pubbed works. I would rate them a couple steps above fan fic even though I have readers who will thump me soundly for such candor. The plots and the characters are really quite decent for a beginning author. Mechanical execution, however, was an issue. I was (and still am) learning my craft. I'm not warning you off, but letting you know that you will be able to see the growth in my writing ability from one of my earlier works as compared to the Rovers Series. Frankly, I've done the same with other authors as they grew into their talents. It's kinda cool.

Date: 2009-03-02 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bunrab.livejournal.com
I had just heard of Novik a couple of days before this post, and got "His Majesty's Dragon" out from the library at the same time as your book mentioned above - which is the third Time Rovers book, BTW, not an early book. If you're surprised that a library would have the book so soon after publication - well, that's one of the reasons we patronize the Howard County library system so much; it's one of the richest counties in the US, and someone in the library's ordering system really likes SF, so the new stuff is always on the shelves while it's still new!


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