the Little Red Reviewer

It’s been a fun week!  reading something dark, something fantastical and unexpectedly funny, and something unputdownable that also made me think. Good times!

I really enjoyed Teresa Frohock’s Los Nefilim, and I’ve had her Miserere on my bookshelf for at least a year.  This is one that I’m slowly savoring. Gorgeous visuals, broken characters, and wow is it grim. Not grimdark, but dark and grim. If this book had a soundtrack it would be deep cello and percussion, very low pitched with lots of sustained vibrations that you feel before you realize you’re hearing them. But you’d need something sunny in there , because reasons and those sunset sherbet visuals. Maybe clarinet?

starlit-wood-miserere

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum is The Starlit Wood, a new anthology of retold and reinvented fairy tales.  When hubby saw me reading it, the first thing he asked was “so, it’s like Snow White, Blood Red?” (edited by Datlow and Windling), and i said it was sorta like that, that each story is a take on a different fairy tale, but this new one is way more modern and the first few stories I read (I read them out of order) had me laughing my head off, which was a nice surprise!   Review coming soon!  But in the meantime, if you like to be entertained, and you like fairy tales,  this is a book you should watch for!

faller

 

 

I netgalleyed Faller,  Will McIntosh’s forthcoming novel (dude, I still have nightmares about Soft Apocalypse, I can NOT believe I bought a bamboo plant!).  Not only did I have to refamiliarize myself with how netgalley works, but I also had to remember how to use my kindle.  I can’t really talk about this book yet, but erm, I got the file last week, and I’ve already finished the book.

red-rising

I also acquired a novel called Red Rising, that came out a while ago, but it’s a trilogy and the 3rd  book is coming out pretty soon. It was described to me as “kinda YA-ish, but really good”. It’s the October book for my local SciFi bookclub, so we shall see!

 

So, that’s what I’ve been up to recently.  how about you?

 

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territoryTerritory by Emma Bull

published in 2007

where I got it: purchased used

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Territory is one of those books that I really enjoyed, but it’s hard to articulate why I enjoyed it. Reading this book was like climbing under a soft heavy blanket – everything just felt right. Emma Bull certainly isn’t the only author to ever write a weird west tale, to ever envision that Wyatt Earp had some kind of magic that protected him, his brothers and their interests, and Doc Holliday. But I think she’s the only one to do it quite like this, to pit Earp against someone like Jesse Fox.

 

I was never all that interested in Wyatt Earp. And maybe that’s why I liked Territory so much. In this novel Wyatt is, umm….   wallpaper? A room accessory?  He’s there, but he’s the lamp in the room that is used to so you can see other things. Earp is walking through the story, having convinced himself the universe revolves about him, but this isn’t a story about him.  Doc Holliday thinks he’s the star of this story as well . . . .

 

Territory revolves around the fictitious characters Jesse Fox and Mildred Benjamin.  Fox may introduce himself as a horse breaker, but his skill set lies elsewhere. He’s been drawn to the boom city of Tombstone by his Chinese friend Lung Chow.  Chow’s been trying to train Jesse in other arts for years, but Jesse’s stubbornness keeps getting in his way.   Mildred is a widow, she works as a typesetter with one of the local newspapers. A woman with her feet in two worlds  and her ear to the ground,  she finds herself drawn to a man as secretive as she is. I really loved Mildred and what she goes through, her thoughts about where she in her life and how she got there. Earp might be a lamp that allows you to see other things, but Mildred is where all the brightness in the story comes from.

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purloined-poodle-hearneThe Purloined Poodle, by Kevin Hearne

published Sept 30, 2016

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (thanks Subterranean Press!)

 

 

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Swap out the recipe and/or knitting pattern for lots of butt sniffing, and The Purloined Poodle would make a perfect cozy mystery.

 

Told from the point of view of Oberon, Atticus’s wolfhound, this is a fun and fast paced mystery about doggies that have gone missing. And not just any doggies, but a prize winning poodle!  As Atticus chats up other dog owners at the dog park, Oberon gets to know the other dogs. By shaking hands and saying “Hi!” in the doggie way, which of course, as everyone knows, is sniffing the other dog’s butt and letting them sniff yours. But enough playing and getting to know each other, there’s a mystery to solve!  Atticus promises Oberon plenty of snacks, so Oberon is on the case! Just like that other mystery solving guy, you know, the one with the pipe!

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I owe ya’ll reviews for Kevin Hearne’s The Purloined Poodle (it was so adorkable! I loved it!) and Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Children (what a disappointment!).  While I was finishing those books up,  the mail man and the UPS guy have been pretty busy bringing me goodies nearly every day this week.  And of course I bought some stuff too.

Currently reading: Territory by Emma Bull

so, what looks good?

shawl-beaulieu

Everfair by Nisi Shawl has been getting a lot of buzz, and Of Sand and Malice Made is a beautiful small format hardcover (this photo doesn’t do either of these books justice, they both have gorgeous cover art!) of prequel stories that take place before his Twelve Kings in Sharakhai.

 

bujold-lansdale

These pretties from Subterranean Press are Penric the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Coco Butternut by Joe R. Lansdale.  I’ve got the first novella in the Bujold series, and yes, Coco is a Hap and Leonard story!

 

starlit-wood

I’m ridiculously excited about The Starlit Wood, and anthology of reimagined fairy tales. I seriously got shivers just looking at the table of contents. It’s like all my favorite authors and all their favorite friends got together to have a party full of awesome.  Retold fairy tales? YES PLEASE.  It’s gonna be tough to finish the Emma Bull with this sitting on the kitchen table . . .  and that’s saying something, since she’s a damn good writer.

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blue aliceLast Night at the Blue Alice, by Mehitobel Wilson

published Oct 2015

where I got it: received review copy from the author (thanks!)

 

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You can thank the Glymjacks for the fact that you’re not surrounded by haunted houses and angry, vengeful ghosts.

 

Tonight is the night of Mollie’s final test to enter the ranks of the Glymjacks. If she passes the test, she can say goodbye to everything she’s ever known and loved. If she doesn’t pass, she can only hope for  a fast death.   Her test involves clearing the Blue Alice, a famous haunted house, of its resident ghosts.  Mollie isn’t interested in why these people died, and she doesn’t care that they died. Her mission to learn what they were going through when they died, and ensure that they die in a more peaceful manner. She’s auditioning to be their psychopomp, someone who will help them to the other side, help them go somewhere away from the Blue Alice.

 

There is a whole ton of gorgeous poetic prose in this short novel, almost functioning as textural and musical bridges between scenes and towards set pieces. Here’s an example that comes right at the beginning, and was one of my favorites:

 

“You would expect it to be a blue house, but it is not. It’s an exhausted color that warps with the changing of the light, beige at dawn, bone at noon, grey at night. But at dusk, just as the sun falls far enough below the horizon to withdraw all its gold from the landscape, the Alice turns blue.”

 

A sprawling manse that became a boarding house in the 1920s and then apartments by the 1960s, the Blue Alice has seen it’s share of happiness and misery. Urban legends tell of a woman dressed in white who haunts the building, music playing where there shouldn’t be any, and judgemental demons.  Barely a year has gone by in the history of this famous house where a tenant hasn’t fled in terror of something or someone haunting the rooms and halls. It’s time to clean house.

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Kizumonogatari_Cover_(English)My other half is a huge fan of the Monogatari series.  He enjoys the anime series, and the Kizumonogatari (Wound Tale) novel.  A series of light novels that were turned into anime series, this paranormal story is told non-chronologically to enthralling effect. You can watch or read the stories in the order in which they were written, or in their chronological order, for a completely different experience.   What’s unusual about this series is that the characters actually come out and say exactly what they are thinking – which is rather unusual for your typical character be they in a Japanese story or an American story.  How would our lives be, if people said what they were thinking?

Take it away, other half!

 

scroll artwork

from Serdar Yegulalp’s review of Kizumonogatari (Wound Tale)

“Such was my experience with Kizumonogatari (“Wound Tale”), now in English courtesy of Vertical, Inc. It is ostensibly the story of a young man made into the thrall of a centuries-old vampire, and tasked with returning her severed limbs as payment for being restored to humanity. I say “ostensibly” because while that’s more or less what happens, it’s not what the story is about. The real subject of the story is Nisioisin’s way with words, and how much you enjoy this book — or any of his books — will be directly proportional to how much you savor watching an author make his sentences do handstands and jump through hoops.”

 

 

I did not particularly agree with the review though, I find many people see Araragi as a boy obsessed with boobs and panties and Hanekawa as just a generic damsel in distress. This is both incorrect and short sighted. Westerners seem to both love and hate sexuality; we watch simulated sex all night on Game of Thrones or True Blood and then go to work and complain about how anime is only for weeaboos because it has panties. Sigh.

Araragi ‘says’ internally what many/most teen and not so teen males think but saying the truth is not popular with the American crowd. Araragi is also deeply separated socially from everyone around him and is somewhat suicidal; not so much because he wants to die but because he cannot see the point of living. Hanekawa Tsubasa is a girl who is intelligent, well mannered and attractive but is also filled anger and violence at times, often towards herself, and who also would like to break out of being a good little Japanese school girl.

kizunamonogatari-2012

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the obelisk gate coverThe Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin

published August 2016

Where I got it: received review copy from the publisher

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Welcome to another not-a-review!   There is so much happening on so many levels Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate, and my brain is spinning all over the place that a simple “review” just wouldn’t do.  All of these thoughts in my head about Obelisk Gate, I need to get them out.  Be warned of spoilers ahead for Obelisk Gate, The Fifth Season, some other titles by Jemisin and others, and stream of consciousness babbling. Also ahead are predictions, wordplay thoughts, heartbreak, and things this book made me think about, places it took me.  Jemisin does so much more than just write a book, so I wanted to do more than just write a review.

 

I read The Fifth Season around the same time i was reading Cixin Liu’s The  Three Body Problem, and I found unexpected parallels between both books.  I had my guesses about what was really going on in The Fifth Season, and a handful of them were right. Maybe I came up with those guesses due to Jemisin’s sublime skill with  foreshadowing,  maybe it was because I was reading two extinction level event books at the same time and my brain was adding things up, who knows.

 

I read The Obelisk Gate alongside Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Children, and again, found unexpected parallels between the two novels. The “new children” in the Bear have something in common with young orogenes – they are blamed for the problems of the world, even problems entirely outside their control.   These are children who have been chased, hunted down, put in “schools”, all for their own good. Sometimes their parents fight for them, but just as often their parents say “good riddance”, and all these children want is to be accepted and loved for who they are.  Even more similarities is how those in power disagree on how the new children/orogenes should be educated, if they should be forced to live in a certain way, for everyone’s protection.  I’ve also just realized, that if presented just right, Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy and the Greg Bear books could take place in the same storytelling universe, due to the evolution of, how best to say it, people doing things a little differently.

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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.