the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for December 2011

I’m happy to say, 2011 was a hella awesome year for me:

- Was my first full calendar year blogging, in which I posted 104 reviews

- I joined Twitter

- I got my first blurb on a book

- I got a promotion at work (ok, not blog related, actually, blog detrimental, but still cool)

- I got really inventive in finding new places in the house to stash books (such as inside the TV stand).

- I participated in two read alongs. We read Dune over the summer, and The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy this autumn. If you’ve never participated in a read along, they are great fun!

I hope all my bloggy friends had a wonderful 2011 as well, and here’s to all of us having an even better 2012!

 

But did I reach any of my reading and blogging goals for this year? What about those pesky bookish New Years Resolutions? Way back in December of last year,  I proposed that 2011 be the year of “reading what I’ve got”.  Fewer trips to the library, fewer trips to the local bookstore, and more trips to the bookshelf for titles I’d purchased once upon a time, but never read.  I must have had some time on my hands, because I managed to count up everything I owned, and figure out how much of it I’d read.

So, did I make any headway on reading more books that I owned?  Does buying a ton of books and getting some ARCs in the mail skew the results? Cuz I bought a metric sh*t-ton of books. and got a handful of ARCs.  I’m not going to count everything I own again, but we can look at the stats of what I reviewed:

of the 104 books I reviewed in 2011:

20 were off my bookshelves
28 were purchased (either new or used)
36 were borrowed from the library or borrowed from friends
20 were ARC’s received from publishers or authors

That New Year’s resolution to “read what I got” instead of buying and borrowing new-to-me titles? Can you say Epic Fail?  It’s not my fault tho. . .  all my bloggy friends posting reviews of books that looked awesome that I just HAD to read! and with Valente and Kent and Rothfuss and Hodder and Stephenson coming out with new stuff like every five minutes, what’s a girl to do?

I better come up with something more realistic for 2012. Like join a gym (ha! like that’s gonna happen!).

So what are you gonna be up to in 2012?

Holiday decorations take-down-ing getting you down?  Winter is just beginning, so why not decorate your home with paper snowflakes? It was all the rage when I was a kid in the 80’s.

Into Steampunk? create yourself some steampunk gear snowflakes!  I call ‘em GearFlakes.  They are easy to make, require zero fancy tools, and you can have a lot of fun setting them up in geared patterns on your window.  Let the whole neighborhood know a steampunk geek lives here! You don’t even need a compass. or a protractor. I promise.  It’s six way symmetry steampunk awesome.

What’s this you say? you want step by step instructions?  Today, and today only, your wish is my command!

you’ll need:

paper
pencil
sharp scissors
two bowls, one larger than the other (Or I suppose you could use a compass, if you really, really wanted to)

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Fenrir, by M.D. Lachlan

Published in Oct 2011

where I got it: library

why I read it: enjoyed the first book in the series, Wolfsangel

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For no good reason, I had a tough time getting into Fenrir. I think I was expecting a similar opening as Wolfsangel had, with Vikings and raids and witches and such, so I was caught off guard by being introduced to so many characters who were clearly, not Vikings.  Where were Vali and Feileg, the twin brothers I cried for in Wolfsangel? Where was the beautiful Adisla, whom they both swore to protect?  I know my mythological friends are here someplace, for it is their destiny to be reborn, if only to be tortured by the gods again and again and again.  Perhaps they were born into Vikings, or perhaps traders from the East, or perhaps Frankish Christians. Hiding Odin and Fenris in Frankish Christians who haven’t a clue what’s going on? That’s just cruel.

Aelis, a minor Frankish princess, is worth her weight in political marriages. And everyone wants Aelis. Helgi, an Eastern Viking Prince of Constantinople wants to maybe marry her, maybe sacrifice her. Her brother, a Parisian Count, opts to keep her, hoping for a better offer. Multiple Viking factions know she’s worth her weight in ransom, so the new name of the game is kidnap Aelis.

Jehan, oh, poor Jehan. Stricken with paralysis and blindness as a youth, he is now a monk, and seen as a living saint. His timing to Paris couldn’t be worse, and he is trapped in the church when the Vikings attack. The Vikings know all about relics, and the worth of the bones of a saint, so suddenly Jehan is also worth quite a bit in ransom, dead or alive. Years from now, I will still pity Jehan.

And then we have Munin and Hugin, the horrific sibling priests of Odin. More on them later.

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Did I miss anything?

oh yes,  Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton!  Also Dionysus and Mithra!  yay, presents and birthday candles all around.

We made latkes (cheese cloth is your friend. as is ventilation), we made Stollen (soak fruit in rum for an hour? bah! try all afternoon!), I totally hearted the geek out love on The Nerdist on BBC last night and will be watching Doctor Who all evening while eating greasy carb filled Chinese food. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Chris Hardwick’s interview with David Tennant was adorable. Also, not the only reason I watched the show. you can listen to the whole thing here

Cuz I’m lighting ye olde Chanukiah I got to open prezzies last week.  Husband and I exchanged mostly gag gifts, and he managed to find what I am now calling the best gift EVAR.  behold, the Frank Lewis book of Crosswords!  A cryptography and crossword building genius, the late Frank Lewis created The Nation crossword every week until shortly before his death. Not for the faint of heart, so far I’ve gotten one clue on the first puzzle. I figure I’ll finish this crossword book sometime around the year 2058. It is teh brainteasing awesome.

and on the subject of polar opposites I’ve been reading M.D. Lachlan’s Fenrir along side Tina Fey’s Bossypants.   I couldn’t get enough of Lachlan’s Wolfsangel, and I’ve a major girl crush on Tina Fey.  and Liz Lemon? totally my workplace role model. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but oh well.  Review of Fenrir should go up in a few days, as I haven’t even finished it yet.

the Vintage Science Fiction not a challenge starts next week, and if I’m going to make my goals, I better start reading NOW.  it’s not the books, it’s the business trips. I wonder if the library has any Asimov, Norton, or Heinlein audiobooks?

and just for random fun, here are some random holiday geek out pictures for you:

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The Doctor and The Kid by Mike Resnick (sequel to The Buntline Special)

Published Dec 2011

where I got it: received review copy from Pyr

why I read it: enjoyed The Buntline Special, the first book in the series.

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A fun, easy read, The Doctor and The Kid should probably be categorized as Young Adult. There is some mild swearing, and references to sex, but there is nothing in this book your teen hasn’t read before.  With a fairly simple plot and fun characters, it’s a good foil to all the heavy dense doorstopper melt-your-brain books that have been floating around lately.

It’s known, that I’ve a major weakness for tragic characters. And do they come any more tragic than Doc Holliday?  Wracked with consumption, as unflinchingly honest as he was bitter, he knew death was right around the corner, so why fear anything in life?

Resnick’s The Doctor and the Kid most certainly is not the true story of Doc Holliday, but it is a fun one.   Advertised as a steampunk western, The Doctor and the Kid doesn’t have a lot of action in it, Doc simply hasn’t got that kind of energy.  More a character study of Holliday and how he’s forced to realize that people don’t care that he’s classically educated or coughing up blood all the time – all they want to know is how many people he’s killed.  He’s not at all the person people think he is, and that was my favorite aspect of this book.

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The Fuller Memorandum (a Laundry Novel), by Charles Stross

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it: enjoyed the previous Laundry novel, The Jennifer Morgue

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Bob Howard has a problem. it’s that he’s too good at his job. The office manager leaves him alone; his boss, Angleton, is sending him on special errands; and his wife, Mo, has started bringing work home with her. When you’re a computational demonologist, none of those can be good things.  You see, Bob works for the ultra secret British government agency called The Laundry.  Think James Bond meets Torchwood, but instead of fighting the Russians and aliens, they’re fighting the Russians and unthinkable Cthonic soul sucking horrors from another dimension. When the end comes, make sure you’re armed with a shotgun (same goes for when playing Arkham Horror, btw).

Although The Fuller Memorandum is mostly action, usually involving Bob getting the crap kicked out of him, it was the slower parts that were some of my favorites. Things like getting to know more (perhaps too much) about the mysterious Angleton.  What Mo actually does with that bone white violin (she needs her own book. period). How to jailbreak an iphone in three easy steps (step one, allow a professional hacker into your house). How to handle Russian zombies and drunken cultists, and what the British secret service really thinks about Americans.  And Bob Howard, accidental computational demonologist, armed with a jailbroken unauthorized iphone running illegal apps, better solve all these problems before his soul gets sucked out by cultists who’ve awoken something far more evil than they were expecting. The slower bits might have been all interesting, but the crazy action bits? Totally over the top frakin’ awesome.

If you’re grinning, you can skip the next paragraph, however if you’re a bit confused, quit skipping around and stop feeling bad.

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Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia

Published in 2011

where I got it: library

why I read it: have heard very good things about the author

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In an alternate 1850’s Russia, Alexandra Trubetskaya takes too much after her unorthodox Aunt. Aunt Eugenia may have the ear of the Emperor, but she is a brash spinster, too clever by half, and sees marriage as a waste of a good woman. Torn between tradition and opportunities that are suddenly available to women (such as attending University), Alexandra plans to have it all: an education, possibly a career, and marriage if she meets the right man.

On the train to the University, she meets a young Chinese man, Chiang Tse, who is part of an Asian contingent of students also invited to study at the University. The plan of course, is for the women and foreigners to fail miserably, thus allowing the university to ban their attendance in the future.  Along side the verbal abuse from other students and instructors, the women get top grades. Chiang Tse and his compatriots however, are quickly arrested for petty crimes, with one of them being thrown in prison and the rest deported back to China.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.