the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for October 2010

and it’s not that kind of “not a review” post either.

for kicks, I started reading Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire again. From the beginning.

And my copy of Last Argument of Kings showed up at the library.

And we’re going out of town for a few days.

So. . . there won’t be any reviews for a coupla days.

And I’m getting ready (and super excited!!!)  for GraphicNovelNovember – a month of graphic novels, manga, comics, and other illustrated fun.

While I’m gone. . . . here’s some random questions for you to have fun with.

1. GraphicNovelNovember – what comics/manga/graphic novel series do you read, if any?

2. If I did some giveaways here, would you be interested? How important is give aways to you, as a blog reader?

3. What are you going to dress up as for Halloween? 

4. Tell me about someone else’s cool awesome speculative fiction blog.

5. Have you made chocolate covered pringles yet?

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I suspect you will either love or hate this book.

How’s that for a teaser?

If I had a quarter for every time I said I’ve been reading a lot of fairly dark and heavy stuff lately, I’d finally be able to get caught up on all the laundry. Last time I was at the library I decided to look for something a little lighter. Maybe even humorous. I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but I supposed I could make a concession, just this once. Thus I found These Children Who Come At You With Knives, by Jim Knipfel. A large handful of short stores, mostly with obnoxious and sometimes offensive names, prefaced by one of the funniest prologues I’ve ever read. Not unlike Southpark, Knipfel is an equal opportunity offender.
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What is better than Pringles and better than chocolate? Especially when someone (such as myself) is having a major sweet ‘n salty craving?

hmmm. . . we got the chocolate. . .and we got the pringles. . .

what is better than pringles, and better than chocolate?

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 The Book of Jhereg includes the first three novellas in Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series , Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla. Brust is already pulling the first of many fast ones on you tho, the novellas aren’t in chronological order. Published order yes, but not chronological. I suggest reading the three stories in the order in which they are written, and then as a reread, reading them in chronological order.

The first time someone told me about this series, my first thought was “Assassin? Witchcraft? Sorcery? Srsly can you get any more cliched?” luckily, this series isn’t really about assassins, witchcraft, or sorcery, and it’s some of the least cliched fiction I’ve ever come across. Brust’s writing is wry and sarcastic, and subtler and smarter than you’d first guess. Besides, I never get sick of these antihero stories.

I’ll get into the plots of the stores in a bit, but first let me give you some background as to the world. Much of this is covered in the first published story, which is another good reason to just read these in the order offered.

Behold the great Dragaeran Empire. Nearly as old as time itself, and ruled by seventeen great houses who in a specific order (sometimes by force), take turns sitting the throne. Named after indigenous animals, many people believe members of the houses reflect the traits of their symbolic animal. The further away you are from the top of the cycle, the lower your House’s status. In this world, your House is everything. It defines your occupation, your marriage options, your ambitions, everything. Not exactly human, Dragaerans of all houses are obscenely tall, usually with dark hair and dark eyes, and then tend to live a few thousand years. And they all (ok, nearly all of them) look down on the filthy, short-lived human Easterners who live in their midst. Not only are Easterners filthy and poor, they insist on practicing that silly witchcraft of theirs, when everyone knows Dragearan sorcery is far superior. Adrilankha, capital city of the Empire is home to the Phoenix Empress, and much corruption, politicking, and murder. No worries about the murder rate: so long as they didn’t use a Morganti Weapon (it eats your soul), a family member or your employer will just pay a sorceress a small fee to revivify you. In a world where death is rarely final, assassins are hired to send messages, not create widows.

And then there’s Vlad Taltos. Easterner, assassin, witch, dabbler in sorcery, member of the House of Jhereg, sometimes friend of the Empress, and partner and caretaker of his familiar, Loiosh the jhereg. Vlad might be one of my favorite literary characters, and he might be smart and quick and a curiousity to the nobles, but he’s not much without the obnoxious and sarcastic Loiosh riding on his shoulder. Psionically linked, they are dependent on each other for survival. What one feels the other feels, what one knows, the other knows. And Loiosh is such a bastard sometimes!

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Every so often I read a book that just punches me in the gut.

Like the book I’m reading right now.

What book is it? Well, I’m nearly done with it, so hopefully a review will show up eventually. This is the second or third time I’ve read this particular book, so I know what happens at the end, I just don’t remember the details. Not to give too much away, but there is a major subplot between the main character and his wife. They have quite the whirlwind romance, she is recently retired from his risky occupation so they understand each other on this incredible level. I have, in the past, described this author as hopelessly romantic, and people always look at me like I’m nuts. But those scenes he writes between the main character and his wife? And later (not really a spoiler) the scenes between the man and his son? they bring tears to my eyes.

But back to shortly after the couple gets married. . . .

they have a few years of blissful happiness. And then something happens. They have a political disagreement, and they realize it’s going to tear their relationship apart. They still passionately love each other and desperately want to protect each other, but it eventually becomes obvious that they can’t be together. this really isn’t a spoiler for the book that you don’t know the title of, by the way.

So I’m reading this last night, and I know what’s coming, because I remember it ripping my heart out last time. I’m sitting there, reading this book, and my husband is sitting across the room, reading his book. and like every five minutes I’m putting my book down and saying “Honey, I love you.”, and he mumbles back “huh? yeah baby, I love you too”.  And then we both go back to our books.

After this same mumbled conversation has occured about 15 times over maybe 30 minutes, he finally asks me “Are you OK?” and he sees what book I’m reading. We spent the rest of the evening cuddled on the sofa watching Star Wars.

talk about a fucking emotional response.

Book Blogger Hop

Hosted by Crazy for Books, the blog hop is a fun way to say Hi to book bloggers you already know, and meet new friends.

If this is your first time at Little Red Reviewer, Welcome! I review mostly scifi, fantasy, new weird, graphic novels, a litle bit of non fiction, and if you know where to look, even a little romance. Take a look around, check out the review index, make your self at home.

I’m getting super excited for November, when it’ll be Manga and Graphic Novel November around here. Check out the Manga and Graphic Novels link at the very top for more info. Is gonna be awesome!

Anyways, back to the hop. This week’s question is:

“Where is your favorite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?”

My most favorite place is where I am right now. On the comfy sofa, with a coffee within reach. I so love this old squishy comfy sofa. We got it for free a few years ago when some friends at work were getting new furniture, and it’s so ugly, such a peice of garbage, and it’s falling apart. But it’s so squishy (terrible for your back!) and so comfy if you’re sitting sideways (like I am right now). My husband and I fight over who gets to sit in this spot when we’re watching tv. and the coffee maker just told me something wonderful is ready. :)

When the weather is nice, I do enjoy sitting outside and reading, but I hardly ever get anything actually read, because there are so many wonderful distractions out there. look at the bird! look at the flower! look, there’s my neighbor! hey, you can hear the train! look at the tree! look at the bug! I’m like a chipmunk on speed out there.

Lavie Tidhar’s The Bookman is part alternate history, part steampunk, part rolicking adventure, part futuristic scifi, and like another steampunk I recently reviewed the twist starts fairly early, and if I mentioned anything at all about it, it would wreck the surprise. I’ll try my best to make this review as spoiler free as possible.

In a (very) alternate history London, the British Empire has been taken over by Les Lezards, a humanoid race of intelligent lizards that evolved parallel to humanity. The lizards treat the humans fairly well, and heavily promote science and technology over warfare. Even Jules Verne’s dreams have come true, and thanks to patronage by the Les Lezards, unmanned satellites and space probes have been launched. The only fly in the ointment is The Bookman. Almost a V for Vendetta type character, he stays to the shadows, orchestrating bombings and chaos around events sponsored by the Les Lezards.

Strange yes, but the human populace of Great Britain has adapted pretty well to being ruled by giant talking lizards, and for most Britons, this is how it’s always been. The Les Lezards have been the ruling class for a few generations at least. Royal lizards aside, Tidhar populates his book with characters both historical and fictional, life like simulacrums, social revolutions, and much in the way of punny deliciousness.

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978-0-441-0615-9

 

Incredible Super Buttery Nuggat?  I would so eat that.

Ikea’s Somewhat Burnt Nutella?  I would so NOT eat that.

International Superficial Blockbuster News?  Don’t we already have this?

Itty Snitty Bitty Numbers?  you’re getting close!

Or, something far less interesting, the International Standard Book Number.

Pick up any modern* book, look for the bar code on the back.  See the numbers above or below?  That’s the ISBN – 10 or 13 digits, and unique to that edition.  It’s a searchable field on Amazon, and is 100% percent required for any book that wants to be sold in any bookstore, online, or catalogued in any library.  You can thank our obsession with organization, computers, and the gazillions of books that are published every year for that.   

* Modern???   Maybe the book you picked up was printed before 1970 (I have a lot of these), or maybe it was printed outside the US/UK/Western Europe (I have a few of these), or it might be a newer,  uber-custom print. In that case, it may not have an ISBN.  Good luck cataloging that baby on Goodreads, Shelfari or Librarything.

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and it isn’t!   Just this morning I was wondering when the hell did it become the middle of October?  I really have no clue where the summer and September went.  even worse, I don’t have a halloween costume yet.

Unforch, there’s no getting around it.  Winter is coming.  Luckily  I don’t live in Westeros, so winter means cookies, fresh baked bread, more cookies, mulled cider, and graphic novels.

what you say? how you say?  winter means graphic novels? what kind of sick and twisted mind would come up with that kind of logic? well, I am a redhead.

it also makes perfect sense because I’ll be doing Manga and Graphic Novel November here at  Little Red Reviewer!

there’ll be steampunk, wizards, jedi, philosophers, alchemists, students, spaceships, actors, explosions, magic, wolves, Jagermonsters, other monsters,  everything you need (or at least everything I need) for a month of fun.

are you as excited as I am??

With Larry Niven’s Betrayer of Worlds hitting shelves this week, I figured I better post my review of his Destroyer of Worlds. I originally published this review here.

Larry Niven’s lastest Known Worlds novel is fun, fast, and full of the remarkable aliens his fans have loved for years. Niven has always been known for his wonderfully freakishly alien aliens, and Destroyer of Worlds gives readers the opportunity to intimately know a new bizarre alien race. For readers new to Niven’s Known Worlds series, I suggest starting at Fleet of Worlds, the first book in this mini series, and you can go from there. And if you’ve ever read Niven’s classic SF novel Ringworld, it’s not deja vu, this is a prequel series.

We start off right where we ended in Juggler of Worlds - The planet New Terra is supposedly “free”, but their former Puppeteer masters don’t trust them, don’t want to help them, and still treat them like expendable servants. It is a precarious relationship indeed, as the overly cautious Puppeteers rely on the humans curious nature and the humans rely on the Puppeteers advanced technology.

As we saw in Fleet of Worlds and Juggler of Worlds, the supernova explosion at the center of the galaxy is spreading its waves of radiation, killing and sterilizing everything in its path. The humans and Puppeteers alike will need each others help to escape it and find new worlds to colonize. The radiation wave is moving fast, near light speed travel is faster, but the galaxy is bigger than you can imagine, and it still takes a long time to get anywhere. It may be generations until the wave reaches where the Fleet is right now, but Puppeteers have always been long term thinkers.

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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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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.