the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘for the love of reading’ Category


I’ve always been a little jealous of how fast my Mom can read. Books she zips through in two days will take me over a week to read.  She finally admitted  the other day that she’d taken a speed reading course in college, and I jokingly responded with “that’s cheating!”.  Another friend in the conversation defended the speed reading course, because she’d taken the same one, and she said that this particular famous speed reading course taught one how to quickly get the most important information out of sentences and paragraphs. Presumably so you weren’t wasting your time on the unimportant stuff.


so, that assumes there is unimportant stuff?


stained glass


And all I could think of was Catherynne M. Valente’s Prester John books,  The Habitation of the Blessed, and The Folded World. Her prose in those novels reads like a stained glass window, where as the sun moves through the sky, the colors shift in the window, giving an illusion of continual movement and shadow as the  story unfolds in the rainbow race of color across the floor and over your body.  And on the other side of that stained glass window a symphony orchestra, complete with leitmotifs, counterpoints and returns, movements, and five or ten minutes of that gorgeous grey noise of pure potentiality when everyone is warming up before the conductor takes to the stage.



I realize I sound little melodramatic and over the top. And I do understand that when I say “that sounds like a sunset”, or “that sounds like purple”, that I am not actually seeing a sunset or that color (or seeing them consistently), but my brain is telling me those are the only words in my vocabulary that match what I’m experiencing at that moment. There is certainly an element of metaphor happening here, but there is also my complete confidence that those adjectives and phrases are the rightest ones.


For example, Shania Twain’s singing voice sounds like the color orange.  I’m not seeing orange when I hear her voice, but in my brain, that is the adjective that best fits what I’m hearing.  Singing voices tend to sound orange or like shades of blueish-purple, and men’s singing voices often taste like metal. I think there’s something to it that orange and blue are complimentary colors. Although Maluka’s voice sounds like sandstone, which isn’t part of the color wheel at all, so um, there’s that.

sandstone 1

Yes! it sounds like this!


Which the long way around brings me back to:  If I was speed reading, how much of  would I miss? Would the stained glass window become simple clear leaded glass? Would there be no sun moving behind it, no movement of colors on the floor for me to chase after?  Would the symphony be reduced to only the brass section, or just a string quartet, or one very bemused yet confusingly lonely oboe?


My Mom gets through way more books that I do. But I’ll keep my slower pace, thanks.


EdibleBook poster rev tabloid

When I say “I eat books like that for breakfast”, what I mean is that I eat them for dessert. literally*.  Around the world, on or around April Fool’s Day is The Edible Books Festival.  Our local Edible Books evening was the first Friday of April. Hosted by the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, over twenty smart, funny, and punny edible books awaited judgement (and eating!).   Being a play on words, or a pun of some kind certainly wasn’t a requirement, but all of my favorites were word plays of some kind. observe the deliciousness! Warning – photo dump and awful photography ahead.



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admit it.  how many of you have shaken, peeked into, or generally cheated by opening your Christmas gifts early?   you’re not kidding anyone, we can all see the re-taping marks on the gifts under the tree and we can see where you stuffed the tissue paper back into the gift back. ;)

discovering a “new to you” author is always a gift to yourself, and you don’t have to wait till Christmas or your birthday to enjoy it.   Doesn’t matter if your friends have been reading that guy for years, or if she passed away before you were born.  They don’t have to be a debut author to be new to you.

What is your favorite “new to you” author that you discovered in 2013?

Some of my “new to me!” authors I discovered in 2013 include N.K. Jemisin,  Ian Tregillis,  Emma Bull (yes, I know),  Gillian Philip and Melanie Rawn.

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In the theme of super chilled out discussions for the rest of the year, here’s an easy one:

What book releases are you most looking forward to in 2014?

and because I love to tease you, here are some links to what’s coming soon!

Coming soon from Angry Robot.

Orbit Books fall2013/Winter2014 cover image gallery

Coming soon from Pyr Books

Coming soon from Tor

A very extensive Forthcoming Books list from Locus

have more links to other publisher’s coming soon lists?  Link up in the comments and I’ll add to the list up here.

I love this idea of book blind dates.  You don’t know the title, don’t know the author, can’t see what the cover looks like. You just get a little bit of information, like if it’s a fantasy, or a memoir, or alternate history, or a thriller.  No strings attached, no commitment, but it’s a neat way to try something that you might not have picked up otherwise.



Today’s totally chillaxed year end discussion question is:

What words or phrases written on the outside of a book blind date would make you pick it up?

I think mine would include:


fun dialog

plot twists and turns

non-human characters

Yesterday we all got a kick out of 17 Problems Only Book Lovers with Understand

Ink Slinger, who sees the positive in everything, responded with 17 Joys Only Book Lovers Will Understand.  And it’s better. because he’s right.   Sure, it’s funny to think of them as problems, but isn’t it better to think of them as joys?

did you go look yet?


This has been making the rounds on twitter and teh facebooks, but I wanted to share it here too.  Click the link for all the animated gif awesomness.

17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand

(via Buzzfeed)


i think this one best defines my life:

take my moneyoh wait, this one too. I’d like to know who are all these people who only have to wait one year?

give it to me NOWand this:

but i loved that bookand all the others!


How about you? Which resonated with you, and did they leave any off this list?



There was a great piece on NPR on Monday morning about how two industries who love books – publishers and libraries – are having a tough time agreeing on how library patrons should check out e-books.

It’s a quick 7 minute story, and well worth the listen:

E-Books Strain Relations Between Libraries, Publishing Houses.

npr libraries

Publishing Houses are businesses.  If they don’t make a profit selling their product – books – they will not be selling books for very long (as Nightshade Books learned the hard way).  Publishers love libraries, and publishers have always sold lots and lots of books to libraries, often at discounted prices. A patron gets the book, loves the book, buys the book, maybe buys a copy for a friend. Or a patron gets on the waiting list for a book, doesn’t want to wait 8 weeks to read the latest bestseller, so they go out and buy the book. Even if every patron isn’t purchasing the book, it’s still a win-win for everyone.

Enter e-books, and the win-win becomes not so much.

With e-books, libraries face the same DRM you and I face, as in they are not buying the e-book, but merely leasing it. An e-book that you purchase for $10 on Amazon might cost a library up to $85, with restrictions on how long it stays in their catalog, or how many times they can lend it out. (those dollar figures are directly from the NPR story, I trust they have done their own fact checking)

Publishers are rightfully concerned that if their e-book makes it to an interlibrary loan site with no restrictions, what’s to stop a state library system from purchasing one copy of the latest bestseller and lending it to thousands of people, all at the same time?

What’s the answer? E-books and e-book lending is too new, so no one really knows yet.

Luckily, the news story mentions some projects that are moving in the right direction:

Simon and Schuster has a one year pilot project with a few public libraries in New York. The project allows an unlimited number of library patrons to check out the e-book when it’s first released, and offers patrons the opportunity to purchase the e-book through the library portal, giving the library a percentage of every sale.  Simon and Schuster is running a giant library fundraiser, and selling their own digital content at the same time.  Will they make a profit on this, proving that it can succeed across the country? I have no idea. Is Simon and Schuster sewing a ton of goodwill and starting a much needed conversation? YES.

Over in Colorado, the Douglas County library system as found a different option that  bypasses much of the troublesome DRM. They purchase what they can afford through the big publishers, but are now working with over 500 smaller and independent publishers, including Smashwords, to build their digital content library.  They may not have that specific best seller title you were looking for, but they certainly have a veritable “stack” of e-books in the same genre. Might libraries be the next big thing for self published authors?

well, what do you think?

if you’ve gotten e-books out of the library, what’s been your experience?

If you work at a library, what’s been your experience sourcing e-books, and getting them into the virtual hands of your patrons?

best stuff first:

The Best Video EVER.

Totally safe for work. Multiple award winner.   Watch it till the end.  Let me know in the comments if the video makes you crave a cup of coffee.

One of the best things about living in Michigan is that you can use your hand as a map.  it’s a total Michigander thing (as is calling Michigan residents Michiganders.). Anywhoo, we just got back from here:


If you don’t live near the great lakes, the star on my finger is the Petoskey/Boyne City/Little Traverse Bay/Charlevoix area. Lots of local tourism stuff, skiing, fishing, hiking, shopping, some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been too, and lots and lots of water. Rolling hills, beautiful countryside, and fresh water as far as the eye can see.  Really freakin’ cold water.

and of course books were purchased!   See?

SAM_3314 Read the rest of this entry »

Rest in Peace, Iain M. Banks.  Creator of The Culture and changer of the world.

photo yanked from wikipedia

photo yanked from wikipedia


I started reading Iain M Banks just over  a year ago. So recently that I’m not even sure I can call myself a fan.  But fan I quickly became of the man who reinvented Space Opera. I was hooked a hundred pages into Look to Windward. A few books later, Use of Weapons (which shouldn’t be your first Culture novel) shattered me into a million peices and allowed me entry into a hallowed and secretive club of readers who had been equally shattered. We had each others help to put ourselves back together even though some pieces would be lost forever.

Mr. Banks, you have changed me. You have shown me a path towards what is possible, and for this Sir, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  A light has gone out in the Culture, and this time more than just a few Drones have taken notice. Imagine all those people on all those Orbitals, suddenly sad, and not knowing why. Of all the billions of beings in The Culture, why should one person matter? Because when you’re the one reading the story, or living the story, it fucking matters. that’s why. Your Culture books are more than escapism, more than transportive. They are simply more.

It’s only June, and I already feel like I’ve lost too many people this year. I didn’t have the chance to thank them, to tell them how I felt, to tell them what their works and actions meant to me. A grief counselor gave me a letter template, a self guided exercise to help us articulate why that person was so important to us. It’s a one-way conversation that helps you through the grieving process.

Lesson learned.  Nothing is forever. Sometimes promises are broken with no hard feelings. I need to tell people how I feel before it’s too late. I need to write those letters now, before it’s too late.

I’ll let you in on a little Use-of-Weapons-eque secret: this post isn’t really about Iain Banks.

this post is about how to cheat time.

Time steals everything from us, but more so because we willingly give it the power to. This is my request, to anyone reading this post: Write those letters now.  Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, do not wait.  Did someone have a positive influence on your life? Did someone unknowingly help you through hard times? Let them know.  I suggest writing a letter because I am shit at verbal communications, and a letter allows the person on the receiving end some time to process what you’ve just said.  Written communication means less awkwardness later.

This is not permission to start stalking someone. Do not mail people dead chipmunks as a token of your love, and I better not see any marriage proposals on twitter.  Just send them a letter or an e-mail. These are the people who deserve far more than “thanks for being there for me” or “omg I love your books, when is your next one coming out???”. Tell them WHY their existence in your life was important to you.  Cheat time.

About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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