Catherynne M Valente: Space Opera

I loved this book so much it’s hard for me to write coherently about it. The language: dense, rich, vivid musical. The premise: yes, Eurovision in space, played for laughs, but not JUST for laughs, also a glorious, delirious refutation of “rare earth” and “habitable zones,” a dizzying celebration of near-infinite diversity. A plot twist,Continue reading “Catherynne M Valente: Space Opera”

Tim Leong: Super Graphic – A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

Imagine, if you well, a Venn diagram, with circles for people who: * like mainstream comic books * like indie/alternative comic books * are interested in information design * like infographics/”chart porn” * have a sense of whimsy If you’re in the intersection of all these, you want this book. I don’t think every graphicContinue reading “Tim Leong: Super Graphic – A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe”

Mur Lafferty: The Shambling Guide to New York City

The Shambling Guide to New York City is an urban fantasy that starts out with an intriguing exploration into how the human world might interact with a Buffy-esque any-myth-system-is-fair-game secret supernatural world. I was aware that the major plot arc doesn’t really get cranking for quite a few chapters, but I didn’t mind, because Lafferty’sContinue reading “Mur Lafferty: The Shambling Guide to New York City”

Mick Farren: The Quest of the DNA Cowboys, Synaptic Manhunt

Farren’s “DNA Cowboys” trilogy had been on my to-read list for a long time, and I finally decided to give it a go. It’s a simultaneous homage to and send up of Burroughs-style “planetary romance,” raunchier, more overtly parodic, and much less structured than Philip José Farmer’s “World of Tiers” novels, but not entirely dissimilar.Continue reading “Mick Farren: The Quest of the DNA Cowboys, Synaptic Manhunt”

Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores

Greg Ketter, owner of Minneapolis’ DreamHaven books describes this volume as a labor of love, and that’s evident. But its thematic focus is so narrow that it’s probably better dipped into than read straight-through: it’s a bit too easy to play spot-the-trope (haunted bookstore, haunted books, store-of-books-never-written, store-of-books-that-warp-reality), and I found the quality uneven. IContinue reading “Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores”

Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry

I liked Reeves’ first novel Bleeding Violet so much that I ordered her second in advance of its publication date. And then I didn’t read it until now thanks to a quandary familiar to me: I didn’t want the new book to be the same as the one I just read, but I wanted toContinue reading “Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry”

Julian Fellowes: Snobs

I like Julian Fellowes’ TV series Downton Abbey quite a bit, but unfortunately I bought this book before I realized that relatively little of what I like about the show is about the writing, particularly the plotting. It’s almost uniformly excellently acted, and the production design is gorgeous. Certainly some of my emotional investment inContinue reading “Julian Fellowes: Snobs”

Jim C. Hines: The Stepsister Scheme

I first heard of Jim C. Hines via his project of challenging the objectification of women on “urban fantasy/paranormal romance” book covers by painstakingly (literally) re-creating the poses with himself in the starring role. Like much of my favorite activism, it’s funny and serious at the same time. (He even tackles a book where IContinue reading “Jim C. Hines: The Stepsister Scheme”

Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim: Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won

Ye gods, someone wrote a sports book for me. Except it’s not, quite, because a lot of it is not specifically about baseball. But there was more than enough baseball to keep me engaged throughout. Moskowitz and Wertheim apply scientific rigor to analyzing why perplexing issues like why teams and managers consistently make suboptimal decisions,Continue reading “Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim: Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won”

Eva Ibbotson: The Secret of Platform 13

This past Christmas afforded me the happy opportunity of researching what-next-after-Potter? books for a young relation, and of course I’m reading a bunch myself. This book shares the plot detail of a mysterious train platform leading to another world*, but what it reminded me of most was Roald Dahl, perhaps because cute, quirky, and creepyContinue reading “Eva Ibbotson: The Secret of Platform 13”