Diana Peterfreund: Ascendant

This sequel to Rampant is not the sort of book to make a lot of concessions. The opening scene, in which narrator/hereditary-unicorn-slayer Astrid Llewellyn matter-of-factly harvests her dead prey, serves as a litmus test for Peterfreund’s dark, historically informed take on unicorn legends. I imagine that more than a few gentle souls will decide toContinue reading “Diana Peterfreund: Ascendant”

Phil Sutcliffe: AC/DC – The Ultimate Illustrated History

Sutcliffe’s history of rock’s Down Under bad boys is lucidly written, with a rather reportorial remove. (Sutcliffe for instance is always careful to note whenever the attribution of a quote is difficult to definitively establish.) The book is clearly marked as “not licensed or approved by AC/DC,” but it’s scarcely adversarial. Sutcliffe will occasionally noteContinue reading “Phil Sutcliffe: AC/DC – The Ultimate Illustrated History”

Angie Fox: The Accidental Demon Slayer

Like John Connolly’s The Gates, The Accidental Demon Slayer made me think a lot about my preferred ratio of novelty and familiarity in straightforward escapist genre fiction. The Accidental Demon Slayer‘s mix is a bit too calculated for my taste — Lizzie’s struggle with her suddenly revealed identity as a chosen “slayer” and its accompanyingContinue reading “Angie Fox: The Accidental Demon Slayer”

Jonathan Evison: All About Lulu

I had very mixed feelings about All About Lulu. There’s a lot to like: Evison’s prose is fresh and vivid, with lots of unusual metaphors (the first chapter, “The World Is Made of Meat,” is a stunner). The dialogue is crisp and credible, and Evison gets compellingly deep into his narrator’s head. I loved howContinue reading “Jonathan Evison: All About Lulu”

Chelsea Handler: Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea; My Horizontal Life

I enjoyed these books more when I stopped thinking of them as literal, factual memoirs, and more as fiction in the uncomfortable-funny vein of Michael Scott or David Brent. Handler’s character is less a poster-girl for bad decision-making (although there’s some of that for sure) than a celebration of unchecked id. I suspect for muchContinue reading “Chelsea Handler: Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea; My Horizontal Life”

George Mann: The Affinity Bridge

The Affinity Bridge sets some derring-do and a Sherlock Holmes-ish mystery in an alternate history where England had much more sophisticated technology under the Victoria’s reign (some of the tech, in fact, extends Victoria’s lifespan farther into the 20th century). Sometimes it seems like Mann is juggling a few too many plot threads — aContinue reading “George Mann: The Affinity Bridge”

Robert Sheckley: The Alternative Detective

I saw it opined in several places that the third of Sheckley’s mysteries featuring Hob Draconian was so good it would make me want to go back and read the first two — and since I’m a “save the best for last” kinda person, I opted to read them in chronological order. I found TheContinue reading “Robert Sheckley: The Alternative Detective”

Doug Dorst: Alive in Necropolis

The book jacket description and a handful of pull quotes (from writers with ties to the McSweeney’s camp, mostly) were enough to get me to read Alive in Necropolis, but the novel exceeded the expectations I had of it. It sounds perhaps a bit silly in capsule form: emotionally fragile rookie cop Michael Mercer rescuesContinue reading “Doug Dorst: Alive in Necropolis”