books monthly august 2016

EMail me about Books Monthly

 Contents

Home Page

Adult Fiction

  Crime and Thrillers

Science Fiction & Fantasy

  Children's Books
  Nonfiction & Reference

  Military History/history

  The Nostalgia Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

 

Edgar Allan Poe; The Raven - A Pop-up Book

Published by Abrams 9th August 2016

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door . . . Edgar Allan Poe s The Raven is one of the most widely recognised poems in the English language. When it first appeared in the New York Evening Mirror, in 1845, the poem made Poe an overnight sensation. Master paper engineer David Pelham amazes us once again with his pop-up design to interpret this haunting love story.

 

As someone who has made up an entire language for an unpublished five-volume fantasy series, I found the original essay absolutely fascinating - very interesting to discover the origins of Tolkien's LOTR character names and place names. The examination and dissection of his essay was less interesting, but this is an essential read for anyone wishing to delve deeper into the machinery of Tolkien's ground-breaking fantasy writing. Superb!

 

 

 

 

You are here: Books Monthly » Science Fiction and Fantasy Page »

Rich Handley (ed.): Star Trek The Classic UK Comics - The Complete Series Volume 1 1969-1970

Published by IDW 26th April 2016 (Review copy kindly supplied by Diamond Book Distributors)

 

In 1969, six months before the Star Trek TV series premiered in England, British comics readers were introduced to the characters in an original comic-book series. The stories were serialized, generally 2 to 3 pages at a time, in 257 weekly magazines spanning five years and 37 storylines. These extremely rare comics have never been published in the United States. Star Trek fans will quickly note that the comics were not written with strict adherence to Star Trek’s core concepts. But it’s precisely that “offness” that makes them so eminently readable and deserving of a proper reprinting. They’re unique in the annals of Star Trek and fans have gone without them for far too long.

 

I Brilliant throwback to the fantastic days of pulp fiction - I can just see a copy of Amazing Stories featuring this most excellent novel!

 

 

 

 

Zillah Bethel: A Whisper of Horses

Published by Picadilly Press August 11th 2016

 

A gorgeously lyrical journey of discovery across a reimagined Great Britain.
Serendipity loves horses. No-one in Lahn Dan has ever seen one, apparently they died out before the Gases - but there are statues of them around the city, paintings and drawings too if you know where to look. And there's the little lost wooden horse Mama gave Serendipity when she was little.
When Mama dies, Seren is taken under the wing of Professor Nimbus, a storyteller. Nimbus is kind and knowledgable, but Seren has started to question the Minister's rule and life beyond the high, impenetrable Emm Twenty-Five wall. Hidden among Mama's few possessions was a map which suggests there is life outside of Lahn Dahn, and a place where horses live and roam freely - out beyond the wall and the Minister's grip. So, with the help of a trader boy called Tab and his little dog Mouse, Serendipity heads into the unknown, searching for the beautiful creatures she's always dreamed of.

 

Excellent thriller with undertones of fantasy a la Christine by Stephen King. R W Strachan keeps you guessing to the last. Superb..

 

Michael Forester: Dragonsong

 

Published by Matador, 28th May 2016

 

A bardic epic fantasy in rhyming Old English, an allegorical masque of good and evil in an Authurian tradition.

Rebekah, daughter of Merlin and noblewoman of Albion has been driven to madness by the murder of her lover Vidar. In her torment she bargains with the Prince of Demons to turn her into a dragon. Once transformed, she seeks to take revenge upon her father, Merlin, whom she is fooled into believing is responsible for Vidar’s death.

Behind the subterfuge stands Oberon, Captain-King of Elves, who cannot foresee the devastation his jealousy and unrequited love for Rebekah will unleash upon the world of Gaia. Its salvation depends upon Merlin travelling back in time to find a pure hearted warrior, Lady Attie, who, together with Michael, seer of Albion, must take the Sleep Stone from the gates of Hell to persuade the dragon to sleep. But if they are unable to return the Stone to the mouth of Hell in time, the demon army will awaken and ransack Gaia in a war that will destroy its existence. Time is the solution to Gaia’s destiny – but only if the gods of Asgard can find a way to stop it.

Dragonsong is a unique epic fantasy that explores fundamental themes of good and evil, jealously and revenge. Woven together with a gripping and powerful plot, the pattern of the language, the musicality of the form and the profound emotions invoked carry the reader to extremes of human experience and capability at both its best and worst.

 

Well, this is something altogether different in the world of fantasy literature - I can't remember reading anything quite like it! A lot of work has gone into this unique and thoroughly engaging story - Michael Forester's dedication to his art will not go unnoticed. Extraordinary.

 

Michael Newton (Ed.): Victorian Fairy Tales

Published by Oxford World's Classics 26th May 2016

 

'The Queen and the bat had been talking a good deal that afternoon...'

The Victorian fascination with fairyland vivified the literature of the period, and led to some of the most imaginative fairy tales ever written. They offer the shortest path to the age's dreams, desires, and wishes. Authors central to the nineteenth-century canon such as W. M. Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Ford Madox Ford, and Rudyard Kipling wrote fairy tales, and authors primarily famous for their work in the genre include George MacDonald, Juliana Ewing, Mary De Morgan, and Andrew Lang. This anthology brings together fourteen of the best stories, by these and other outstanding practitioners, to show the vibrancy and variety of the form and its abilities to reflect our deepest concerns.

In tales of whimsy and romance, witty satire and uncanny mystery, love, suffering, family and the travails of identity are imaginatively explored. Michael Newton's introduction and notes provide illuminating contextual and biographical information about the authors and the development of the literary fairy tale. A selection of original illustrations is also included.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

 

The Victorians were fascinated by fairy stories, of course, and this anthology bears witness to that. This is a beautiful and fascinating addition to the Oxford World's Classics series, and one that is close to my heart. A wonderful book.

 

Stephen Graham Jones: Mongrels

Published by Harper Voyager 19th May 2016

 

A spellbinding and surreal coming-of-age story about a young boy living on the fringe with his family – who are secretly werewolves – and struggling to survive in a contemporary America that shuns them. He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the centre of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks. For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes―always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change. A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world.

 

An altogether original and novel take on the werewolf literature that dominated YA fantasy for quite a while. Super read.

 

James Maxwell: Golden Age The Shifting Tides Book 1

Published by 47North 1st May 2016

 

The first book in an epic fantasy series by James Maxwell, author of the bestselling Evermen Saga. The discovery of a strange and superior warship sends Dion, youngest son of the king of Xanthos, and Chloe, a Phalesian princess, on a journey across the sea, where they are confronted by a kingdom far more powerful than they could ever have imagined. But they also find a place in turmoil, for the ruthless sun king, Solon, is dying. In order to gain entrance to heaven, Solon is building a tomb—a pyramid clad in gold—and has scoured his own empire for gold until there’s no more to be found. Now Solon’s gaze turns to Chloe’s homeland, Phalesia, and its famous sacred ark, made of solid gold. The legends say it must never be opened, but Solon has no fear of foreigners’ legends or even their armies. And he isn’t afraid of the eldren, an ancient race of shape-shifters, long ago driven into the Wilds. For when he gets the gold, Solon knows he will live forever.

 

As far as I can make out, Sarah's books are intended for young adults - but she's far too good to be confined to such a niche audience. Ordinarily I would have this as my book of the month, but along came Timebomb and that was that. But this is superlative fantasy on an epic scale - all the elements are there, and anyone with a passing interest in the genre will not be disappointed. I would go so far as to say that Sarah is the most important and best writer of pure fantasy around at the moment.

 

 


 

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its eighteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.