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Weekly Book Buzz: The Latest Anita Blake Novel
We Review The Art of Mark Texeira and more!
By Tim Janson
January 31, 2010
Leading new releases this week is “Flirt” the latest Anita Blake novel from Laurell K. Hamilton. While I’ve not been a big fan of the series in general, Hamilton has to be given credit for being the modern Godmother of urban fantasy, particularly as it pertains to books with a female protagonist. It seems there are a handful of such books coming out every week and while I don’t think the marketplace will support this many over the long haul, its nice to see a little something different in fantasy…dark fantasy…whatever you want to term it, rather than just Tolkien-esque stories.
Also out this week from Wizards of the Coast is a new Forgotten Realms novel of Waterdeep, the debut novel from Erin M. Evans. There’s also new fantasy from Jane Yolen. On the Sci-Fi side, Ben Bova, known mostly for hard Sci-Fi, has a new modern thriller set against the threat of World War III. In Horror, besides the new Anita Blake novel we’ve got the novelization of the upcoming Wolfman film and the new House of Mystery graphic novel from DC/Vertigo comics.
On the review side, the art books just keep coming and we’ve got two this week with the Art of Mark Texeira and Night Song as well as a review of the start of (yet) another new urban fantasy series, Brooklyn Knight.
Unknown (Outcast Season, Book 2) Rachel Caine (ROC)
Living among mortals, the djinn Cassiel has developed a reluctant affection for them-especially for Warden Luis Rocha. As the mystery deepens around the kidnapping of innocent Warden children, Cassiel and Luis are the only ones who can investigate both the human and djinn realms. But the trail will lead them to a traitor who may be more powerful than they can handle...
State of Decay (REVIVORS) James Knapp (Roc)
Just because you're dead doesn't mean you're useless... A thrilling debut novel of a dystopian future populated by a new breed of zombie. They call them revivors-technologically reanimated corpses-and away from the public eye they do humanity's dirtiest work. But FBI agent Nico Wachalowski has stumbled upon a conspiracy involving revivors being custom made to kill-and a startling truth about the existence of these undead slaves.
The God Catcher: Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep Erin M. Evans (Wizards of the Coast)
Walk the line between magic and madness in Erin M. Evan’s passionate story about the dragons of the City of Splendors ...Tennora would give anything to be a wizard. And Clytemorrenestrix, a strange woman with uncanny blue eyes, whose name means “She Will Thunder in the Sky,” and who claims to be a dragon, promises to make her just that–in return for aid in returning her to her true form. But soon after Tennora seals the deal, a bounty hunter presses a note into her hands claiming the dragon woman is actually a human–a violent, criminally insane human who murders those who fail her.
A Girl's Guide to Guns and Monsters Martin H. Greenberg (Daw)
Thirteen urban and paranormal tales of strong women, armed with weapons they are not afraid to use, as well as fists and feet of fury, who face monsters and bad guys-and are not above rescuing men in the process.
The Extra Michael Shea (Tor Hardcover)
Books and films have skewered Hollywood 's excesses, but none has ever portrayed one man's crazy vision of the future of big action/adventure films as The Extra does. As over-the-top as Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles, as savagely dark as Robert Altman's The Player, and more violent than Rollerball, this is the story of the ultimate, so-insane-it-could-only-happen-in-Hollywood formula for success, a brave new way to bring the ultimate in excitement to the silver screen. Producer Val Margolian has found the motherlode of box-office gold with his new "live-death" films whose villains are extremely sophisticated, electronically controlled mechanical monsters. To give these live-action disaster films greater realism, he employs huge casts of extras, in addition to the stars. The large number of extras is important, because very few of them will survive the shoot.
It's all perfectly legal, with training for the extras and long, detailed contracts indemnifying the film company against liability for the extras' injury or death. But why would anyone be crazy enough to risk his or her life to be an extra in such a potentially deadly situation?
The extras do it because if they survive they'll be paid handsomely, and they can make even more if they destroy any of the animatronic monsters trying to stomp, chew, fry, or otherwise kill them. If they earn enough, they can move out of the Zoo--the vast slum that most of L.A. has become. They're fighting for a chance at a reasonable life. But first, they have to survive . . .
Except the Queen Jane Yolen (Roc Hardcover)
Sisters Serena and Meteora were once proud members of the high court of the Fairy Queen- until they played a prank that angered her highness. Separated and banished to the mortal realm of Earth, they must find a way to survive in a strange world in which they have no power. But there is more to their new home than they first suspect...
A sympathetic Meteora bonds with a troubled young girl with an ornate tattoo on her neck. Meteora recognizes it as a magic symbol that will surely bring danger down on them all. Serena, meanwhile, takes in a tortured homeless boy whose mind is plagued by dark visions. The signs point to a rising power that threatens to tear asunder both fairy and human worlds.
And the sisters realize that perhaps the queen cast them from their homes not out of anger or spite- but because they were the only ones who could do what must be done...
The Dark Storm (A Dark Storm Novel) Kris Greene (St. martins)
Gabriel is a New York City college kid who loves to bury his nose in books, looking up stories of long-dead cultures, lost languages, and forgotten legends. He never imagined one of those legends would come looking for him—until a tough-talking girl named De Mona Sanchez thrusts an ancient weapon into his hands...and recruits Gabriel in a dark epic war he was born to fight.
Banished centuries ago by warrior knights, a demonic army is storming through a dimensional rift into our world. Stalkers are prowling the streets. Corpses are rising up to fight. And Gabriel—a descendant of one of the original warriors—has no choice but to drop his textbooks and start kicking demon butt alongside his new friend De Mona…who has a few secrets of her own. If Gabriel fails, humanity loses. If war is hell, this is hell on earth.
City of Night : A Novel of The House War (House wars) Michelle West (DAW Hardcover)
Demonic activity has escalated in both the Undercity and the mortal surface level city as the worshipers and servants of the Lord of the Hells strive to complete the rituals that will return their god to the mortal realm. As Rath joins with mages and the Twin Kings' agents to wage a secret battle against this nearly unstoppable foe, he gives Jewel Markess and her den of orphans the opportunity to escape the chaos by providing them with a note of introduction to the head of House Terafin, where Jewel will discover her destiny.
The Adamantine Palace (MEMORY OF FLAMES) Stephen Deas (Roc Hardcover)
The power of the Realms depends on its dragons. With their terrifying natures, they are ridden by the aristocracy and bred for hunting and war. But as dangerous political maneuverings threaten the complacency of the empire, a single dragon has gone missing. And even that one dragon-returned to its full intelligence and fury-could spell disaster for the Realms...
Dark Lady’s Chosen Gail Z. Martin (Solaris)
The fourth thrilling installment of Gail Z Martin's Chronicles of the Necromancer series sees Tris's kingdom on the brink of collapse and fate of Jonmarc Vahanian hanging in the balance as the vampires and the undead enter into a deadly civil war and threaten to unleash an even greater danger onto the world
New in Sci-Fi
Chaos Space: The Sentients of Orion Book 2 Marianne de Pierres (Little Brown)
Having fled the invasion on Araldis, Mira Fedor travels to the nearest Orion League planet seeking aid for her devastated world, but the authorities seem more interested in stealing her bio-ship, Insignia, than in rendering help. While Mira flees from world to world, Araldis burns. Why is the initiate Tekton taking such extreme measures just to acquire a mineral alloy? Why do so many of the protagonists in this galaxy-wide drama have links to the Stain Wars? And what part does the Sole Entity—literally, God—have to play?
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B: Ben Bova (Orb Books)
This volume is the definitive collection of the best science fiction novellas. It contains eleven great classics. There is no better anthology that captures the birth of science fiction as a literary field Published in 1973 to honor stories written before the institution of the Nebula Awards, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame introduced tens of thousands of young readers to the wonders of science fiction and was a favorite of libraries across the country. This volume contains novellas by: Ray Bradbury, James Blish, Algis Budrys, Theodore Cogswell, E. M. Forster, Frederik Pohl, James H. Schmitz, T. L. Sherred, Wilmar H. Shiras, Clifford D. Simak, and Jack Vance.
Many Roads Home Ann Somerville (Samhain)
Fleeing his murderous brother-in-law, Vicont Yveni, heir to the Duchy of Sardelsa, seeks safety abroad until he can reclaim his birthright. Instead he ends up shipwrecked, captured and taken to the one country where he dare not reveal his identity. Worse, he’s just been bought by a man with no love for Sardelsa. Ripped from his family as a child and sold into slavery, Paole’s natural gift for healing made him a valuable asset but did little to shield him from abuse and prejudice. Though he’s now free, for the first time in his life he’s alone—and he hates it. All he wanted was an apprentice and traveling companion in this hostile land. Instead he winds up the unintentional owner of a slave with a mulish attitude…and a suspicious history.
Yveni dares not tell the truth about who he is, and Paole refuses to trust him until he comes clean. The battle of wills only serves to heat up a sizzling attraction that throws a new complication into the mix: love. Paole wants acceptance. Yveni wants his birthright. Even if they manage to come to an understanding, forces are gathering against them that could tear them apart forever…
Heretics: Apotheosis: Book Two S. Andrew Swann (DAW)
Adam, an AI creation of an alien race, prepares to launch a conquest that has been centuries in the making, and if he succeeds he will rule over all humankind-over all sentient life-forms-as a God.
Able One Ben Bova (Tor Hardcover)
When a nuclear missile launched by a rogue North Korean faction explodes in space the resulting shockwave destroys the world’s satellites, throwing global communication into chaos. The United States military satellites, designed to withstand such an assault, show that two more missiles are sitting on the launch pad in North Korea , ready to be deployed. Faced with the threat of a thermonuclear attack, the United States has only one possible defense: Able One.
ABL-1, or Able One, is a modified 747 fitted with a high-powered laser able to knock out missiles in flight. But both the laser’s technology and the jet’s crew are untested. What was originally to be a training flight with a skeleton crew turns into a desperate race to destroy the two remaining nukes. Will Able One’s experimental technology be enough to prevent World War III—especially when it becomes clear that a saboteur is onboard?
The Last Siege, The Final Truth (Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 8) (Dark Horse Graphic Novel)
While both the Republic and the Separatists have suffered staggering losses during the Clone Wars, nothing could have prepared them for the battle they face on the desert world of Saleucami. Beneath the surface of this Outer Rim planet, the Dark Jedi Sora Bulq has begun cloning an army of Morgukai assassins. Unwilling to leave this grave new threat unchecked, the Jedi and their armies soon find themselves entrenched in a five-month siege. Now, time and resources have run out, and it's up to a crack team of Jedi, led by Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura, to infiltrate the Separatist base.
New in Horror
The Wolfman Jonathan Maberry (Tor)
The Wolfman is one of the great classics of modern horror. Now, based on the upcmoing film, is a terrifying new novelization novel written by Jonathan Maberry, based on the screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self Based on a motion picture screenplay by Curt Siodmak
Lawrence Talbot's childhood ended the night his mother died. After he left the sleepy Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor, he spent decades recovering and trying to forget. But when his brother's fiancée tracks him down to help find her missing love, Talbot returns home to join the search. He learns that something with brute strength and insatiable bloodlust has been killing the villagers, and that a suspicious Scotland Yard inspector has come to investigate.
As Talbot pieces together the gory puzzle, he hears of an ancient curse that turns the afflicted into werewolves when the moon is full. Now, if he has any chance at ending the slaughter and protecting the woman he has grown to love, Talbot must destroy the vicious creature that stalks the woods surrounding Blackmoor. But as he hunts for the nightmarish beast, a simple man with a tortured past will uncover a primal side to himself . . . one he never imagined existed.
House of Mystery Vol. 3: The Space Between (DC Comics Graphic Novel)
Matthew Sturges, writer of the Eisner-nominated JACK OF FABLES, and his JACK co-writer Bill Willingham, the creator of FABLES, continue unlocking the doors to the HOUSE OF MYSTERY, the graphic novel series that reinvents the classic DC Comics concept. This newest volume features Sex, suspicions and treachery as the characters trapped in a supernatural bar inch finally discover how and why they're imprisoned there. Featuring back-up stories illustrated by today's top talent including Jim Fern (CROSSING MIDNIGHT), Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets, SLOTH) David Hahn (BITE CLUB, FABLES), Eric Powell (The Goon) and many more!
Flirt (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 18) Laurell K. Hamilton ( Berkley Hardcover)
When Anita Blake meets with prospective client Tony Bennington, who is desperate to have her reanimate his recently deceased wife, she is full of sympathy for his loss. Anita knows something about love, and she knows everything there is to know about loss. But what she also knows, though Tony Bennington seems unwilling to be convinced, is that the thing she can do as a necromancer isn't the miracle he thinks he needs. The creature that Anita could coerce to step out of the late Mrs. Bennington's grave would not be the lovely Mrs. Bennington. Not really. And not for long.
Abe Sapien: The Drowning Mike Mignola (Dark Horse Graphic Novel)
A century ago, paranormal investigator Edward Grey fought and destroyed a powerful warlock off the coast of the island of Saint Sebastien . In the early 1980s, the B.P.R.D.'s newest agent was sent to retrieve the warlock's remains. But Abe Sapien is ill prepared for the dark forces that block his way. Written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and featuring the haunting art of Jason Shawn Alexander (Damn Nation, The Secret, The Escapists), Abe Sapien: The Drowning is the story of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. mainstay Abe Sapien's first solo adventure.
Brooklyn Knight C.J. Henderson (Tor TPB)
On the plus side, here is the start to a new urban fantasy series that is thankfully devoid of the paranormal romance elements that are so annoyingly common in today’s urban fantasy. I swear I think that a lot of former Harlequinn Romance authors have basically just decided to add some supernatural elements to their stories to capitalize on the popularity of series like Anita Blake and the Southern Vampire series.
Professor Piers Knight is the curator of the Brooklyn Museum who specializes in tracking down magical artifacts before they can fall into the wrong hands. If that all sounds a bit familiar, it’s because Knight is essentially a modern day Indiana Jones, who deals in objects of an arcane nature. When a colleague contacts Knight about an incredible find at a dig in Syria, Knight finds himself under attack by Astral thieves and elemental creatures all looking for the mysterious Dream Stone. Henderson ’s strength lies in moving the plot along quickly with liberal doses of action that do a nice job of covering for a thin plot and two-dimensional characters. Knight isn’t just another Harry Dresden clone and despite the Indiana Jones influence, he’s a character I will be looking forward to seeing again in the future. Grade B-
Tex: The Art of Mark Texeira Renee Wittstaetter & Mark Texeira (Vanguard Productions)
Like a lot of comic book fans, I first took note of Mark Texeira when we worked on the revamped Ghost Rider title for Marvel Comics in the early 1990s. Texeira’s bold, heavy style seemed a perfect match for this new and more terrifying version of Ghost Rider. Since then, “Tex” has cemented his place among the best artists in comics, leaving an indelible impression on every title he has worked on.
Vanguard’s collection traces Texeira’s roots from growing up in New York and attending the prestigious Art & Design High School in Manhattan, to his career as one of the premiere comic book artists and illustrators of the last twenty years. Throughout the book, Texeira comments on his life and career, giving readers an insight into how he has developed as an artist, and his incredible work ethic. Mark also discusses growing up in a tough Bronx neighborhood where gangs were prevalent and butting heads with his father who didn’t think that an artists was a suitable profession.
While Ghost Rider may have catapulted him to stardom, fame didn’t come overnight. Texeira was assisting Rich Buckler on Spider-Man Vs. Superman in the late 1970s and got his break with Marvel doing an adaptation of “Buckaroo Banzai” in the mid-1980s. But it’s all about the art isn’t it and Vanguard has included an incredible collection of Texeira’s work. Interior pages, covers, sketches, full color oil paintings, and private commissions…many of them never published previously. In particular there are wonderful oil paintings of Thor, Vampirella, and the Black Cat; incredible watercolor illustrations of Batman and Wonder Woman; and Texeira’s take on Frank Frazetta’s “Death Dealer”. It’s simply a superb collection of one of the best, and one of my favorite artists. Grade A
Night Song: Vampire Women of the Crimson Eternal (SQP INC)
Vampires are hot in every facet of popular culture…literature, TV, films, etc…but you won’t find any hotter vampires than you will in Night Song, the latest art collection from SQP. Now I’ve been a fan of SQP’s books for many years and I hate to put any undue pressure on them, but I truly think that Night Song may be their greatest collection yet! Inside are 64 full-color pages of the steamiest, sexiest, and most hauntingly intoxicating female vampires ever to grace the pages of a book.
Start things off with a cover by Arantza, perhaps the best artist of the fantastic who still isn’t widely known in the U.S. This Spanish artist is remarkably gifted. Her art combines the gothic with a tough of Renaissance style for a look that is totally unique. If I could own a painting by one artist, she would be my choice. Thankfully Arantza contributes not only the cover, but also several interior paintings as well. Among the other artists featured in Night Song are: pin-up illustrators extraordinaire Fastner & Larson, Greg Lopez, Pelaez, Anibal Maraschi, Gonzalo Flores, Diego Cerulli, James Hottinger, Percy Ochoa, and many more.
Besides Arantza, other standout pieces include Hottinger’s “late Night Snack”, Diego florio’s “Joy Ride”, Cesar Britez’ “A Little Variety”, Pelaez’ “Her Secret Garden”, and Danillo Guida’s “Blood Runs Cold”. If you have a love for vampires, the female form, and fantastic art, head over to SQP’s website to check this one out. Grade A