the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Jim C. Hines’ Category

I do not think it is possible to cram any more cool bookish stuff into one day.  This past Saturday, I started my day at BookBug bookstore, for my friend Andy’s Type-In. Andy collects manual typewriters, at last count he has over twenty.  A Type-In is where a bunch of type writer aficionados bring their babies somewhere and show ‘em off. And then there’s me, walking around typing up postcards and asking “how do I do an exclamation point? I made a mistake! how do I backspace?”   I was a <sarcasm>genius</sarcasm> I forgot my really cool postcards at home. Luckily, Andy brought some, and his had cool Type-In logos and bookstore images on them!  I better tell my parents to watch their mail box.

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A couple of hours later, I drove five minutes down the road to Kazoo Books for the Jim C. Hines and Tobias Buckell book signing!  I wish I’d gotten a photo of the table covered in Toby and Jim’s books, it was a beautiful display (and pretty empty a few hours later).

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Jim and Toby have known each other since the beginning of their careers, it was wonderful to just listen to them talk about the challenges and pressures they faced as their careers took off, different types of projects they’ve worked on and are working on, adventures in bookstore signings,  how “being an author as a single guy” is pretty different from “being an author as a Dad”, among other things. There was lots of laughing and fist bumping happening.   It was a wonderful afternoon. Toby signed my copy of Hurricane Fever, and since I already have signed copies of Jim’s  books, I had him sign a paperback of Libriomancer for me to use as as a give away! He even put a sooper seekrit message in it!

Woohoo, Give Away!

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Codex Born, by Jim Hines (Magic ex Libris #2)

published in 2013

where I got it: purchased new

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Picking up shortly after the end of Libriomancer (review here), Isaac Vainio is back up at the Copper River library. As time allows,he’s been working with Jeneta, a poetry loving teenager who has learned to pull poetic metaphors out of e-readers, and together, they are trying to figure out why her kind of Libriomancy even works. Lena’s oak tree stands tall in Isaac’s backyard, and he’s working hard to get used to the fact that his girlfriend has another girlfriend (it’s complicated).  When you are a libriomancer doing research for the Porters, there’s no such thing as a normal summer.

Did you get a kick out of Libriomancer? Codex Born is better.

The plot gets started very quickly, when dead wendigos are found, the local werewolf clan can’t agree on who has jurisdiction,  and strange metal bugs are attacking Lena’s tree. The marks left on her tree match the marks left on the wendigo corpses, and there’s only one person who could have made these metal creatures: Victor Harrison. IT Guy for The Porters, tinkerer extraordinaire, also dead. With the help of a very creepy vampire, Isaac, Lena, and a few other Libriomancers put on the case learn that Victor’s father, August, has used his late son’s inventions to hack into the Porter’s databases and awoken an old and nearly forgotten type of Libriomancy. Not even Gutenberg’s soul-powered automatons have a chance in this fight.

sounds pretty awesome, right?

What if I told you the kick ass plot is the least kick-ass part of this book?

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It’s been a pretty awesome weekend so far.

Friday evening I got to be all loquacious as victim number one in Larry’s “interview other bloggers” series at the OF Blog. He asked some interesting questions, beyond the usual “what books do you like?” easies.  We talked about the Hugo Awards, William Shatner, geeky suddenly being cool, and beating dead horses while in a room crammed with white elephants. I can’t believe he let prattle on that long, I swear I never talk that much! It was a good time, and I hope Larry has many more bloggers lined up for this project.

and then on Saturday? On Saturday I got to see Jim Hines at a booksigning for his newest novel, Codex Born! Squeeee!   He talked a bit about the series, where it’s going, that due to some other projects he’s got going on we’ll have to wait at least a year and a half for the 3rd book, and that he promises not to kill off Smudge, everyone’s favorite pyro-spider.  There was talk of autistic cats, and the proper care and feeding of scowling preteens, and snowstorms. it was wonderfully casual.

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blurry photo is blurry.

Instead of reading from Codex Born, he read a short story instead, one he wrote for the upcoming Unidentified Funny Objects 2 anthology. I wish I could remember the name of the short story, titled Stranger vs. the Malevolent Malignancy (thanks Jim!) it was fucking brilliant.  Inspired by the real-time writings of author friend Jay Lake as he fights stage four cancer, Hines wrote a story story about exactly that: A superhero who has cancer.  It wasn’t an easy story to listen to.  No one knew what to say afterwards.  Cancer is a total fucking buzzkill.  but the story?  damnit, but it was funny. like, laugh out loud oh-god-I-shouldn’t-be-laughing-but-it’s-so-funny Funny.   so we laughed. and then we clapped.  and then many books were autographed and photos were taken.

Isn't that cover art gorgeous? shhhh!  don't tell anyone I grabbed extra bookmarks.

Isn’t that cover art gorgeous? shhhh! don’t tell anyone I grabbed extra bookmarks.

And I psyched myself up to ask Jim Hines if I could do a special littly bloggy project with Libriomancer, and he said it sounded cool, So now i gotta psych myself up to actually do it.

So when I have more details, I’ll let ya know!

Along with a signed copy of Codex Born, I bought The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente and Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis. You know I loves me some Valente short fiction, and the Tregillis has been on my radar for ages.

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And then Saturday night i went on a dinner date with the hubby.  the food was just so-so, but my date was adorable.

Last night I went to the Jim C. Hines booksigning at a local bookstore. To help him not think about the upcoming Hugo awards ceremony at Worldcon, where he’s nominated for best Fanwriter, Jim read from the short story that inspired Libriomancer (same Smudge, different Isaac), teased us about what we can look forward to in the second book in the series, and answered questions about what it was like place his book in rural (and urban) Michigan, what a person can, can’t, and really shouldn’t do with Libriomancy.   And if you haven’t heard of Libriomancer, go read my review, then go read Justin Landon’s review, then go read some more about it, and then seriously, go get a copy. If you love books, if you are a geek at heart, this is the book for you. Libriomancer is just an all around wonderful read.

Recently famous for being this guy, there was some talk about cover art. One of the characters in Libriomancer is Lena Greenwood. She’s a dryad, and she ain’t a skinny lady. She’s perfectly rounded and curvy and unbelievable sexy. At the moment, she has a dark complexion.  Jim Hines is poking at the expectations of the love triangle so often found in urban fantasy, and Lena is his sharp stick.

So he was telling us about a recent conversation he had with his publisher, where they were asking for a plot summary of the second book so they could start working on the cover art.  Part of Jim’s response to them was that Lena needed to be on the cover, and a few days later he received in his e-mail some headshots of models they were thinking of using to portray Lena.  When he complained that all the models were far too slender to be a realistic Lena, the response was “How about this one, she’s a size 6?”.   Jim had already been through this conversation four times with his Princess books, begging for one of the characters complexions to be darkened to match what she actually looks like.

I’ve already had this discussion with Sarah Zettel about cover art not matching what the character looks like because publishers have the final word on cover art. Cover art white washing and “sexy-izing” isn’t anything new.  The fact that it has become not unexpected means we are not talking about it enough.

Yes, I understand that “sex sells”, and the publishers know that people make a quick judgement based on their first look at a book.  But if they could put a fat old guy on the cover of Throne of the Crescent Moon, what’s so terrible about putting a beautiful, pleasantly plump dark skinned woman on the cover of an urban fantasy?

I imagine publishers are asking themselves which book people are more likely to spend their money on – a book with cover art showing  young-ish super skinny sexy woman wearing really tight pants and showing plenty of skin, or a book with cover art showing a beautiful plump lady?

so, reader, I ask you: how likely are you to buy a book where the cover art shows a plus-size lady whose skin tone doesn’t match yours?

do we want our cover art to portray an unrealistic expectation of beauty and perfection, or do we want our cover art to portray what the characters actually look like, and what real people (and possibly even the reader!!) actually looks like?

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris, book 1), by Jim C. Hines

published – August 2012

where I got it: received review copy from the author

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Libriomancer is a book for people who love stories, who love characters, who want to visit the places they read about and meet the characters they’ve only been able to visit on paper. Seriously. If the magic of a story has ever leapt off the page and seduced you into knowing that dragons and wizards and galactic empires and zombies exist, this is the book for you. If you adore the physical object known as book, this is the story for you.

Exiled to a tiny municipal library in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, ex-libriomancer Isaac Vainio should be able to stay out of trouble, right?  He’s been set up in an easy job,  been forbidden from doing magic, and is attempting to live a normal life with only his fire-spider Smudge by his side.  Isaac yearns to dive into books again, and pull out something magical, but knows he shouldn’t. Isaac’s exile was for his own safety, because he couldn’t control his magic,  but when vampires attack him in his library, it’s time to find out what the hell is going on.

Thus starts Jim Hines’ newest series, Magic Ex Libris.  Isaac strikes me as a Harry Dresden type character, someone trained in a specific type of magic,  but also responsible for making sure regular people are never aware that anything unusual is going on. He’s been educated and burned, and doesn’t want any more people to get hurt through his own carelessness.

Someone has been attacking Libriomancers, the vampires seem to have lost their minds,  and the creator of Libriomancy himself, Johannes Gutenberg, has gone missing, along with his mechanical bodyguards. Isaac teams up with the motorcycle riding, bokken wielding dryad, Lena, to get to the bottom of the mystery, before it’s too late.

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This is part Two of my EpicConFusion posts. Click accordingly to read parts ONE, THREE and FOUR

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Ahh, the panels.

This was where I needed one of those time spinner things Hermione has, because at times I had to choose between three different panels that I wanted to go to.  There were that many, and there was that many hours straight of good programming.  I have this undiagnosed blood sugar issue thingy, and it means I shouldn’t go hours upon hours without eating.  When given the choice between going to yet another panel and eating, I chose wisely: I went to the panel (and then started shaking).  They were scheduled to be 50 minutes long, which included  Q&A time, so everyone would have 10 minutes to eat and potty break inbetween. The way it really worked was most panels went over, the next group would have to kick the previous group out, and people were late to their next panel.  Surprisingly, that turned into a win-win for nearly everyone.  I have no idea when the authors got to eat or go to the bathroom.

Highlights of the panels I attended include (and sorry for the horribly blurry photos):
Worldbuilding 101, moderated by Cat Rambo, with Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V. Brett and Brent Weeks – there was discussion of how to introduce the reader to your world, and how much information to give and when. Infodumping is the classic no-no, and the authors seemed to agree that it was best to give the reader less that you think they need to know. . . so they are interested in always wanting to learn more instead of feeling like they are getting inundated with information.  Building the world through characterization, because if you’ve got good characters, you can overcome just about anything.

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I have returned from EpicConfusion!

And it was incredible.  I was in geek heaven. Everyone’s first con experience should be like this.  There were authors hanging around, authors doing organized and well planned panels, authors autographing stuff (not just books!), and plenty of cosplay, humorous music (Rocky Horror Muppet Show!) and every flavor of crazy and fun.  I met so many wonderful folks, authors, artists, other.  Rothfuss was incredibly friendly, Lynch was gracious, Elizabeth Bear said I had pretty hair, Abercrombie may not be aware how irresistible that “British rogue” thing is to American women, Ahmed wins for nicest guy and best hair, Kameron Hurley is insanely interesting, Myke Cole gave me a hug anyways, and Peter Brett let me interrupt his dinner to talk about a panel he’d just done (btw, don’t interrupt peeps who are trying to eat. It was a total asshole thing I did), and Jim Hines is even more hilarious and friendly than I expected, even when he was completely exhausted and I was bugging him. When people found out it was my first con, they told me I picked a good one. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, and I was not disappointed.

I’ve so much to tell. . . .  and so many blurry photos to post (wait, what? my camera has a low-light setting? Why didn’t someone tell me that before!).   To keep you from having to slog through stuff you might not be interested in, there will be a post on fun/funny author interaction (that’s gonna be this one, by the way), panels, cosplay and of course, Scott Lynch gets a post all to himself.

I was that girl who faux pas’ed my way through my first con by hijacking conversations and bothering people and talking to anyone and everyone who looked interesting (including the goth cross dresser) and now I’m gonna be that girl who gives WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION. read at your own risk, and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

There will be a giveaway for peeps who survive all of these ridiculous posts.

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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.