If you’re a fan of weird, creative, deeply original science fiction, then Paul Cornell’s new novella, Rosebud, is worth checking out. A quick, dense read, Rosebud is unlike anything I’ve read in ages. Featuring a group of immediately captivating characters and an absolutely mind-blowing plot, Rosebud isn’t always an easy read and it could benefit from being expanded into a full-length novel. But when it works, it works very well.
NOTE: I received a review copy of Rosebud from Macmillan/Tor and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
Rosebud Written by Paul Cornell When five sentient digital beings―condemned for over three hundred years to crew the small survey ship by the all-powerful Company―encounter a mysterious black sphere, their course of action is clear: obtain the object, inform the Company, earn lots of praise. But the ship malfunctions, and the crew has no choice but to approach the sphere and survey it themselves. They have no idea that this object―and the transcendent truth hidden within―will change the fate of all existence, the Company, and themselves.
Some comics just blow you away the moment you start reading them. Whether it’s a mind-blowing story or a collection of gorgeous artwork, there’s no feeling like reading a brilliant graphic novel. And Colleen Doran’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story, Chivalry, is a perfect example of this. While the original story is a sweet little tale about an elderly woman who finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop, Doran’s adaptation raises things to a whole new level. With artwork that bounces back and forth between warm and comfy watercolors and pages that look like an intricately illustrated manuscript, every page of Chivalry is a work of art all in itself.
NOTE: I received a review copy of Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry from Dark Horse Comics and Edelweiss+. All thoughts are my own.
Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry Adapted and illustrated by Colleen Doran An elderly British widow buys what turns out to be the Holy Grail from a second-hand shop, setting her off on an epic visit from an ancient knight who lures her with ancient relics in hope for winning the cup.
Dark Horse Comics continues its adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology with Norse Mythology Volume 2. Collecting four more retellings of Norse myths, Norse Mythology Volume 2 features artwork from Matt Horak, Mark Buckingham, Gabriel Hernández Walta, and Sandy Jarrell. And, much like the first volume, adaptor P. Craig Russell and the various artists deliver a faithful, entertaining retelling of these stories. If you’ve read Gaiman’s original book, you’ll enjoy seeing these tales brought to life like this. And if you haven’t, then Norse Mythology Volume 2 is a great place to start.
NOTE: I received a review copy of Norse Mythology Volume 2 from Dark Horse Comics and Edelweiss+. All thoughts are my own.
Norse Mythology Volume 2 Adapted by P. Craig Russell Illustrated by Matt Horak, Mark Buckingham, Gabriel Hernández Walta, and Sandy Jarrell In this second volume, Gaiman and Russell once more team with a legendary collection of artists to bring more Norse myths to life, including the origins of poetry and a mead that many will die for, Thor and Loki’s eventful trip into the land of giants, the gods’ woeful bargain that might lose them eternal life, and the beloved god Frey’s journey to Valhalla and beyond to find a certain missing something.
I think it’s safe to say that nobody’s been watching the most recent Godzilla movies for their stunning human characters. No, we’re all just there for the cool world-building and the big Kaiju vs Kaiju action scenes. But imagine a book that combines cool world-building, bombastic action scenes, and compelling characters, and you might end up with something like John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society. Featuring a breezy plot, well-rounded characters, and blockbuster-worthy thrills, The Kaiju Preservation Society is as good as the best Kaiju movies. A fun read from start to finish, The Kaiju Preservation Society might just be the pick-me-up we all need right now.
NOTE: I received a review copy of The Kaiju Preservation Society from Macmillan/Tor and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
If you’ve never seen Peter and the Starcatcher, the stage adaptation of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s popular Peter and the Starcatchers series, then you absolutely need to. Even if it’s been ten years since its Broadway debut. Telling the story of how Peter Pan became the boy who never grew up, Peter and the Starcatcher follows three orphans as they get wrapped up in a swashbuckling tale of pirates, English nobility, and Starstuff. I’ve never read Barry and Pearson’s original Starcatchers series, so I can’t speak to how faithfully the play adapts the novel. But as a fan of J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan play, Peter and the Starcatcher just makes my heart sing. If you ever wondered how Captain Hook lost his hand, how Peter Pan got his name, and how Neverland came to be, then this is the story for you. But better than that, it’s a genuinely emotional, heartbreaking look at friendship and at growing up. It’s a gut-bustingly funny, thrilling, and heartfelt love letter to the theater. And to say any more about the story would ruin some of the fun.
Peter and the Starcatcher: The Annotated Script of the Broadway Play Written by: Rick Elice The hilarious script for the Broadway play Peter and the Starcatcher is presented along with commentary by the playwright, the directors, the composer, the set designer, and our own Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Filled with behind-the-scenes information and photos of the cast and crew, this annotated script will enchant and entertain fans of the book and the play alike.
If you’ve ever wanted a book that combines elements of time travel, murder mysteries, and ghost stories all into one, then Rob Hart’s The Paradox Hotel is the book for you. Genre-defying to a fault, The Paradox Hotel crams so much story into its 300-odd pages that it’s kind of a miracle everything works as well as it does. But overall, The Paradox Hotel is a genuinely impressive book. The mystery’s satisfying and well-plotted. The emotional stakes are clear and well-developed. And the book is just so much fun to read – a shining example of a compulsive page-turner.
(NOTE: I received a review copy of The Paradox Hotel from Random House Publishing Group/Ballantine Books and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.)
To this day, my favorite kinds of horror stories are those aimed at a family-friendly audience. Films like Hocus Pocus and books like Coraline, Bunnicula, and Goosebumps. Stories that are scary without being traumatizing. Horrific, but in that safe kind of way that family-friendly horror usually is. And Joseph Fink’s The Halloween Moon slots in perfectly alongside those other stories. One part coming-of-age story, one part fantasy adventure, and one part family-friendly horror, The Halloween Moon is a delightfully spooky read from start to finish. Though occasionally hampered by the restraints of middle-grade novels, The Halloween Moon is sure to delight readers young and old alike.
Of all of Neil Gaiman’s novels, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is probably the one most suited for a stage adaptation. While stuffed full of magic and monsters and other such fantasy, it’s more of a quiet story at heart. Introspective, even. A story about what we choose to remember and what we don’t. About a boy who has to grow up a bit too quickly. And it’s these elements that Joel Howrood’s adaptation, the basis for the critically acclaimed National Theatre stage production, focuses on. Perfectly capturing the feeling of wading through an ocean of memories, Horwood’s script faithfully adapts Gaiman’s novel with all of the adventure and emotion you’d want. I haven’t seen the play yet, but the script is a breathtaking piece of writing all to itself. And I can only imagine how brilliantly it translates on stage.
NOTE: This review contains mild spoilers for both the original novel and Joel Horwood’s adaptation of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Adapted by Joel Horwood Returning to his childhood home, a man finds himself standing beside the pond of the old Sussex farmhouse where he used to play. When he meets an old friend, he is reminded of a name he has not heard for many years: Lettie Hempstock. And is transported to his 12th birthday, when Lettie claimed that this wasn’t a pond at all, but an ocean…
Plunged into 1983, our young protagonist struggles with the ripples of a disturbing event that makes him question his deepest assumptions about his fractured family. Striving to come to terms with his newly unknowable world, together with his new friend Lettie he must reckon with ancient forces that threaten to destroy everything and in turn learn to trust others to find his own feet.
If you loved They Threw Us Away, the first book in Daniel Kraus’s Teddies Saga, then you’re gonna love They Stole Our Hearts. As the second part of this series, They Stole Our Hearts offers everything that made the first book so intriguing alongside a healthy helping of world-building, character development, and big answers. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced, and quick read. And I dare you to stop yourself from reading the whole thing in a single sitting. (4.5 out of 5 wands.)
NOTE: I received a review copy of They Stole Our Hearts from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) and NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
They Stole Our Hearts Written by Daniel Kraus; illustrated by Rovina Cai The teddies—clever Buddy, brave Sunny, sweet Sugar, and wise Reginald—have managed to find a child. Life with Darling is far better than any they’ve known. But something’s not right—the promised bliss of Forever Sleep hasn’t come. And they are kept a secret from Darling’s mother, hidden underneath the child’s bed in the dusty darkness.
Then the inevitable happens: Mama discovers the teddies. And like all adults they’ve met thus far, she responds with fear and anger. The teddies must watch as one of their friends is destroyed. The remaining trio barely escape, thrust back into a world that does not want them.
Disillusioned and lost, the teddies embark on a journey back to the factory where they were created. En route, they find a civilization of discarded teddy bears. The comfort of a town of teddies has its allure…but the need for answers weighs heavy. And there’s something definitely off about these new teddies. Will our heroes accept their strange rules? Or must they dig deep for one more grand adventure to finally learn why they were thrown away?
Covering forty years’ worth of Broadway shows in a single book is a monumental task. Covering forty years’ worth of Broadway shows in less than 500 pages is a nearly impossible task. And yet that’s exactly what Barry Singer’s Ever After: Forty Years of Musical Theater and Beyond attempts to do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really hit the mark. For those hoping for a glimpse behind the scenes of their favorite musicals, Ever After isn’t the book for you. It’s less of a historical account and more of a collection of reviews. In that context, it’s not too bad. However, the first half of the book is particularly hard to power through and the book’s general lack of depth hinders much of the enjoyment. (3 out of 5 wands.)
NOTE: I received a review copy of Ever After from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.
Ever After: Forty Years of Musical Theater and Beyond, 1977-2020 Written by Barry Singer Before Ever After appeared in 2003, no book had addressed the recent past in musical theater history—an era Singer describes as “ever after musical theater’s many golden ages.” Derived significantly from Singer’s writings about musical theater for the New York Times, New York Magazine, and The New Yorker, Ever After captured that era in its entirety, from the opening of The Act on Broadway in October 1977 to the opening of Avenue Q Off-Broadway in March 2003. This new edition brings Ever After up to date, from Wicked, through The Book of Mormon, to Hamilton and beyond. Once again, this the first book to cover this new, pre-pandemic age of the Broadway musical.