Book News: Packing Vacation Reads, Library Mysteries, New TV Adaptations & More!

1b22c-bookreporttelander

Why Science Fiction Matters 
Not that this is really necessary, but here’s a detailed article on the importance of the genre known as science fiction books.

Prince Books 
With the passing of this icon, here are some about him and his incredible work.

Cell is Coming 
A trailer has been released of the adaptation of Stephen King’s zombie novel, Cell. 

[more news . . .]

“Welcome to Night Vale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Harper Perennial, 2015)


It is likely that you have heard in some way, shape or form of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale that has grown to incredible popularity over the last few years. In addition to putting up new episodes every couple weeks, the team continues to go on live tours not just across the United States, but also across the globe. While there are some overarching themes and ongoing subplots on the podcast, it can best be summed up as a wonderfully weird and random show that The Guardian says “Belongs to a particular strain of American gothic that encompasses The Twilight Zone, Stephen King and Twin Peaks, with a bit of Tremors thrown in.”

In the Welcome to Night Vale novel, there is the familiar setting and the many familiar characters listeners have come to know and love and hate and sometimes both at the same time. But there is also a coherent story being told from start to finish, which is a welcome change from the titillating randomness of the podcast. Of course, Cecil Palmer plays an important role in the novel, with some “excerpts” from his radio show after certain chapters.

Something mysterious is going on in Night Vale. Mysterious even for this town, which is saying something. Certain people in town are awaking to discover a piece of paper stuck to their hand that says “KING CITY.” When they throw the paper away, it magically appears in their hand again within moments. Whether they saturate the paper in water, burn it to ash, or tear it into tiny pieces, it just keeps coming back. And no one knows why.

Nineteen-year-old pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is one of the “victims.” But she’s had enough with just being part of the status quo for like forever, and wants to get to the bottom of this. It will involve getting to King City. The problem is she has no idea where it is, and as far as she can recall she’s never left Night Vale, ever. She’s not even sure if she can leave the town.

For listeners who might be wondering how well this quirky podcast would get transposed into a novel, have no fear. The book is just as entertaining and addicting as the podcast, and is perhaps better in certain ways for its coherence and resolution. Two words that listeners have just come to accept rarely happens on the show, which is part of the reason they love it so.

If you’re new to Night Vale and are not sure what to start first, I’d recommend doing a few episodes of the podcast to get a feel for the show. But you could just as well read the novel and enjoy it and then feel super happy that there are a ton of episodes you get to hear and learn all about the characters you just read about.

And for the die-hard fans, you’ll want to get the audiobook because it is expertly and masterfully read by the voice of Night Vale Radio, Cecil Baldwin.

Originally written on March 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Welcome to Night Vale from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book News: Reading STAR WARS, Unnecessary Celebrity Books, Shakespeare Remixed & More!

b9fb4-bookreporttelander

Modern Retellings of Shakespeare
Some contemporary books that are basic retellings of Shakespeare plays.

100 Must-Read Memoirs
If you getting on a biography kick, here are 100 must-read memoirs.

7 Small Presses to Check Out
Sometimes small presses release some incredible titles and here are seven you don’t want to miss.

[read more . . .]

“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 13: Company Time” by Max Gladstone and Lindsay Smith (Serialbox, 2015)


CIA agent Dominic Alvarez just so happens to be an acolyte for the Flame, a detail that wasn’t revealed until the very end of the last episode, and he just happens to have kidnapped Maksin Sokolov, a Russian informant and powerful magical host, after the CIA managed to smuggle him away from the Russians and get him to a safe house. He’s scheduled to be on a specific plane and headed to the States, except that the pilot is still waiting around for his cargo who is late and doesn’t appear to be showing. Meanwhile, Alvarez and Sokolov are on a very different cargo plane flying to another destination, playing a game of chess.

KGB agent Tanya Morozova and CIA operative Gabe Pritchard meet to discuss their options for getting Sokolov back somehow. Once before they put their powers together, and with Gabe’s magical construct flaring inside him, and Tanya being a sorceress of the Ice, together they pack one heck of a magical wallop. It will require a big ritual, with lots of magical setup, and then their putting their powers together. But it’s their only hope.

While the season finale does have a hefty dose of magical action going on, the ending feels a little anticlimactic, and definitely leaves the reader and listener wanting more, but it certainly sets up hopes and interests for a possible future season in the continuing adventures of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold.

Originally written on April 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Company Time from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 12: She’ll Lie Down in the Snow” by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Serialbox, 2016)


Things are coming to a climax in this penultimate episode to season one of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold. Tanya Morozova knows she’s walking straight into a trap: she’s been ordered by her boss at the KGB to get the Russian informant back no matter what, but she also knows the safe house she’s headed to is guarded by a small army of CIA who know full well that she’s coming. Fortunately, Zerena Pulnoc, wife to the Soviet Ambassador and acolyte of the Flame has given her a protective charm to help keep her alive; she also reveals that Tanya’s boss, Sasha, happens to be an acolyte of the Flame, which is why he’s fine with sacrificing Tanya.

Tanya and her people enter the safe house and there’s a big shootout. Sokolov has already been moved and is in no danger, meanwhile the bullets are flying and lives will be lost on both the Russian and American sides. And at the end of the episode a big twist is revealed that changes everything and sets things up for a big season finale.

Originally written on April 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of She’ll Lie Down in the Snow from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 11: King’s Gambit Accepted” by Ian Tregillis (Serialbox, 2016)


After the heavy action of the previous episodes, Anchises, episode 11 is kind of calm that comes after an intense fight scene; readers and listeners get to explore the fallout of the aforementioned events and how the characters deal with the big developments that are now going down.

Maksin Sokolov is gone and purported to be dead, except Tanya Morozova is meeting with her boss, Sasha, and telling him how it went down and how the CIA “smuggled” the informant out via the river and used a recently placed corpse to distract the KGB, but Tanya isn’t falling for it. Sasha gives her an ultimatum, telling her she needs to get Sokolov back no matter what, and she can use whatever resources are necessary. With help from her coworker and fellow Ice acolyte, Nadia Ostrokhina, they use some good old fashioned magic to locate where Sokolov is, using a magically-spruced-up theodolite to track the contruct and see where Sokolov ended up.

Meanwhile, CIA agents Dominic and Josh are watching their informant and keeping him as safe and secure as possible, while Gabe is out getting some R&R. Killing time they talk about Gabe, Dominic wondering whether he can trust him, and more importantly whether he can trust Sokolov in Gabe’s hands. Josh admits he doesn’t know the man that well, but they do address his dark episode in Cairo.

Originally written on April 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of King’s Gambit Accepted from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 10: Anchises” by Lindsay Smith (Serialbox, 2016)


This is the tenth episode in the series; reviews for all other episodes can be found here.

Operation ANCHISES, after all the hype and setup, is finally put in motion with a classic scene of spying and espionage and all things clandestine, as Joshua Toms skillfully passes along a secret message to the informant, Maksim Sokolov.

With a follow-up meeting at the West German Embassy, the final showdown is begun. Sokolov is here with his host of Russian minders, keeping a close eye on his every move. Sokolov plays the part well, domineering, threatening to Joshua and Gabe. Gabe Pritchard has a trick up his sleeve, as he gets a hold of a special charm secreted on his person, mutters the correct incantation, and then serves the minders shots. A short while later, a regular old bar brawl begins just as planned and Gabe is starting to think this spy craft via magic ain’t too bad.

A while later arrests are made; Tanya Morozova, as a member of the KGB, instead of following Gabe, decides to make a trip to the hospital and check on those Russian minders. Meanwhile, the man known as Maksim Sokolov is just gone and appears to have drowned.

In this action- and magic-packed episode, things heat up to a new level, but its not until the next episode, that the full realization of Operation ANCHISES is fully understood.

Originally written on March 24, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of A Dream of Ice from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.