the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for September 2012

I’m in the middle of a bunch of things right now (mostly anthologies and getting over a nasty cold), so no review for you! Instead, here’s some neat stuff happenin’ all over the place, maybe yous wants to check some of it out.

 

Fantasy Faction has started announcing the shortlisted stories for their anthology. Cover art is coming soon. the editors read over 1700 entries, that’s a lotta slush reading!

I know i’ve mentioned this before, but Catherynne Valente is doing a massive booktour for The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland.  Plenty of stops from Colorado, to Texas, to the Chicago area to New England. Tor has the schedule, as does her website (with a few corrections and updates).

Cory Doctorow is also touring, promoting his newest YA book Pirate Cinema. i’m sure he’d also be willing to answer questions about The Rapture of the Nerds, written with Charles Stross. Are you a librarian, school teacher, or involved with public schools at all? Learn how your institution can get a free copy of Pirate Cinema.

52 Book Reviews has a very in depth interview with Stina Leicht, who I adore, so you should go read more about her.

Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? I miss them. I guess they grew up to be visual novel computer games?

Epically awesome Adam Savage is doing an AMA on Reddit, like right now.  I love this man.

are you going to read the new J.K. Rowling book, The Casual Vacancy?  Reviews are mixed, and I’ve heard Amazon is having trouble keeping it in stock. maybe she should go back to writing Harry Potter.

A super cool interview with Liu Cixin, a scifi writer from China. Internation scifi? I want more of it! Apex Books to the rescue!

Gail Carriger (of Soulless fame) has a bucket of ARCs  of Etiquette and Espionage, the first book in her new series, to give away.  She’s got a good thing going, that’s for sure!

Will this keep ya’ll busy for a little while, until i can get a review written of Brandon Sanderson’s new novella The Emperor’s Soul?  Also, in personal news, a friend lent me her Kindle, as a suprise.  I’ve figured out how to recharge the battery and nagivate the menus. Other than that, I’ve been rather apprehensive towards it,like it’s going to give me an electric shock or something. yes, i’m being pathetic.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne Valente

published in October 2012

where I got it: borrowed ARC from a friend

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A year has passed, it’s time to visit Fairyland again. It’s got to be better than Nebraska, where the other girls at school aren’t interested in being September’s friend, and food is purchased with ration coupons. The sooner she gets back, the sooner she can be with the best friends a girl could ever ask for: a book loving wyverary and a shyly beautiful marid.

After a rough and lonely landing in a glass forest, September notices drastic changes in her surroundings. None of her friends come to greet her, magic is being rationed, and the few magical creatures she meets are terrified of her.  Maybe she’s just landed in a provincial area of Fairyland? But no, Fairyland has changed, and not for the better.  Humans don’t belong in Fairyland, and when they leave, they aren’t supposed to leave things behind.  When September last visited, she left her shadow behind, and it’s been up to all sorts of trouble.

For the last year, while September was doing sums and spelling, her shadow was living the high life in Fairyland-below.  Known as Halloween, the Hollow Queen, her shadow rules Fairyland-below, where there are no rules, no bedtimes, no lost friends, and and un-attached to their other selves, the shadows are suddenly free to live their own lives, and do everything they’ve never been able to do before.

Ell the Wyverary and Saturday the Marid didn’t greet her when she landed in the glass forest, but their shadows were waiting for her when she landed in Fairyland-below.  Are these the same Ell and Saturday that September had so many adventures with? Shadow-Ell and Shadow-Saturday are elated to be freed of the shackles of their other selves, this is the first time they’ve ever had any control over their own lives.

As Halloween hosts her revels, and her invisible assistant pulls down more shadows from Fairyland-above, Septembers feels more and more that something is wrong. Why can’t she just reunite with her shadow? Why won’t anyone listen to her?  why doesn’t anyone seem to care about the damage that’s being done to Fairyland-above? If Halloween is such a reckless, horrible person, does that mean that deep down, September is too?

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The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers

published in 1983

where I got it: that one bookshelf where my favorite books are.

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The short version of this review is that The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers is utterly brilliant and amazing.   Aren’t sure if time travel books are your thing? Doesn’t matter, this book transcends. Aren’t sure if Tim Powers is for you? He transcends all as well, and you can learn more about him in my Why You Should be Reading Tim Powers article.

here’s the long version:

Brendan Doyle lives a remarkably boring life. An expert in the lives of the romantic poets, Doyle tracks down obscure manuscripts and gets papers published in even more obscure literary magazines.  When he flies to London to meet with wealthy yet eccentric J. Cochran Darrow, Doyle’s in it for the money. this crazy old guy wants to pay Doyle a million dollars to give an hour lecture about Samuel Taylor Coleridge to a dinner party? No problem.  that money will go a long way towards Doyle’s research of an obscure poet who was in London around the same time as Coleridge, William Ashbless.

Except it’s not just any dinner party, and this isn’t just any old rich guy. J. Cochran Darrow has discovered how to jump through time. Brendan will give his lecture, answer a few questions, and then entire group, Darrow, Brendan, and the guests, will travel through time to 1810 see Coleridge himself. Everything must be timing perfectly, as these breaks in the river of time are sometimes only open for a few hours.

The only predictable scene happens when the time travel jump is successful, everything is going swimmingly, and suddenly Doyle gets separated from the group and is left behind in 1810.  Abandoned, yet hopeful, Doyle has a plan. He knows the exact time and date that Ashbless wrote a famous poem at a tavern in London. If Doyle can survive for a week, he can approach Ashbless and hopefully work with the man. Should Doyle ever get back to modern day London, he’d be able to write the ultimate Ashbless biography.

But Darrow isn’t the only person jumping through time. A few someone elses, many hundreds of years ago, used arcane magic to open these gates in time.  These ancient magicians have forsaken their connection with the earth, and wear heels, platform clogs, and even spring heeled shoes to keep their flesh as far from the Earth as possible.  Even J. Cochran Darrow has his own ulterior motives.

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I recently had the opportunity to get to know Matt, from 52 Book Reviews, a little better. Father, scifi/fantasy fan, and all around cool guy, Matt is pretty new to the blogging community.  This is his first year blogging, but he’s been on GoodReads for ages, and I think he has more Goodreads reviews up than the number of books I own.   Matt has recently reviewed the newest short story collection from Saladin Ahmed, Wool by Hugh Howey, and has a very in-depth interview with Ken Scholes as well. have you bookmarked 52 Book Reviews yet? It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Here’s my interview with Matt:

 
LRR: your blog is fairly new, what made you decide to start blogging about books?

52BR: Obviously, I read a lot. I can’t think of a time when I haven’t had at least one or two books in process in the last ten years or so. What is not so obvious is that I have always dreamed of being a writer. After two abortive attempts at a novel, I decided to channel my need to write in a slightly different direction, and writing about books seemed the best fit. I already volunteer book recommendations to my family, friends, and strangers in the bookstore, so I thought why not do it online to a bigger audience of strangers. At least they won’t look at me funny, like some of the folks in the bookstore.

LRR: Your blog might be new, but you’ve got hundreds of books on Goodreads, going back years! I’m not on Goodreads, do you recommend it an online community that book bloggers should all be involved with?

52BR: To be honest, up until now I’ve only used Goodreads to keep a record of what I read. No one was more shocked than me to find out just how many books I’ve read. These days I’m posting my reviews on the site and have seen a small uptick in hits since then. But nothing beats networking with other bloggers in my experience.

LRR: What are your favorite genres to read and review?

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When Tim Powers’ recent novel Hide Me Among The Graves became available, half the speculative fiction fans I know cheered, and the other half said “Tim who?”. Have you enjoyed the recent Burton and Swinburne steampunk trilogy from Mark Hodder? How about Connie Willis’s time travel books? Did you like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or maybe Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon? If you answered Yes to any of those questions, Tim Powers is an author you should be reading. Also, he’s got some major street cred – when you and I were in pre-school, he was chillin’ with Blaylock and Jeter and helping define what many of us now know as steampunk. Tim Powers is truly one of my heroes of literature, one of the authors I go to when I need a comfort read, something I know I’m going to enjoy, something that is guaranteed to knock my socks off. When I first read The Anubis Gates around 10 years ago, I didn’t know who Powers was, but I knew I wanted more.

Powers writes primarily alternate history, but he does it in a way no one else does. He likes to use what I call the “pockets of I-don’t-know” theory, where he finds pockets in history where something odd was reported, where someone was reported acting very unusual, or went missing for a few days and wouldn’t tell anyone where they’d been, or just something strange happened. The fiction of Tim Powers lives in these pockets, he’s writing the secret history of what really happened. or as he puts it:

“I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.”

Intrigued? Here’s a few more reasons you should be reading Tim Powers.

He’s a “gateway” author. Go the bookstore or the library, and Powers will probably be found in fiction, not science fiction. He’s perfect for people who “aren’t really into all that weird scifi stuff”. Do you like spy thrillers? Try Declare, about Kim Philby’s true mission, which might have involved genies, and something horrific living on Mount Ararat. Prefer contemporary dramas with some suspense and maybe a smidgen of mythology? Try Last Call, which takes place in Las Vegas, and touches on some of the mythological opportunities that might have helped the luckiest city in the world, because destiny is the ultimate gamble, right?

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Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow

published October, 2012

where I got it: borrowed ARC from a friend

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Cory Doctorow is mean. he likes to hit his readers where it hurts, to show us where our world is going if we’re not careful. If China Mieville’s Railsea is a YA retelling of Moby Dick (complete with similar literary mannerisms), then Pirate Cinema is a YA introduction to political manifestos such as Atlas Shrugged (complete with speeches at the end).  This isn’t the first time I’ve compared Doctorow’s fiction to that of Ayn Rand, and if you know my history with Rand’s fiction, you know I mean that comparison as the highest compliment.

The story follows Trent McCauley, a British teen who does all the normal teen things, like hating school, being awkward around girls, and downloading tons and tons of video clips of his favorite actor, and mashing them up into new and funny videos, a la Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, and then uploading his vids for his fans and friends to watch.

Thanks to a new draconian law regarding copyright infringement, Trent’s family loses their internet access for one year due to his constant downloading of films and clips. His little sister can’t do her homework at home anymore and her grades plummet. His mother can’t get her prescriptions refilled online. His father loses his phone-bank job.  Trent’s family is ostracized by their being kicked off internet access. Full of shame, Trent runs away to London.

This may sound like it’s a story for an about people who remix videos and remix music, and if you’re not one of those folks it’s easy to think this politically charged story doesn’t apply to you. Ever recaptioned a photo or submitted something to Lolcats? Ever shared a deviantart image on Facebook simply because you liked it?  ever taken a photo you found online and photoshopped it into something you liked better, if only to show off your photoshop skills? If you’ve ever done any of those things, you’re in the same boat as Trent – you’ve shared someone else’s intellectual property,  changed it, made it into something new, and claimed that new thing as your own unique creation. And you’ve broken the law.  We’re all just as guilty as Trent, we just haven’t been caught yet.

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Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan

published in 2011

where I got it: purchased new

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Three cheers to Egan for being wildly innovative and offering a triple threat in Clockwork Rocket – a four dimensional world that has it’s own physics,  a fully developed alien race with it’s own cultural norms and unique biology, and to top it off he’s placed his story in a time where our aliens are experiencing an enlightening time, a period full of scientific exploration and inventions, where physicists and chemists are learning the rules of how their universe works, the beginning of their modern age.  Egan certainly is ambitious, I’ll give him  that.

Clockwork Rocket opens with our main character Yalda, as she leaves her rural home and ventures into the big city for an education at the university. Many people feel that it’s a waste to educate women, but Yalda’s father felt all his children should have the opportunity for an education.  Egan drops the reader into the story in the deep end, but don’t worry, all will be revealed.

As Yalda completes her education, she falls in with a feminist group, a group of women who have either left their mates, or have decided they aren’t interested in mating, and all of whom illegally take birth control chemicals.  Birth control is incredibly important, and not for the obvious reasons.  These beings have completely different biology than we do, and telling you more would be a major spoiler. As interesting as that is, it’s not even the main plot line.  Yalda and her fellow physicists have discovered something very dangerous that’s hurtling through space towards their planet. Something that is moving orthoganally, at an angle to the expected dimensions. Their society is just discovering science, just discovering the laws of physics, how can they possibly come up with the technology needed to save their planet?

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Update, this giveaway is now closed, and the winner is:

aliasgirl

Congrats aliasgirl! watch your e-mail for subject line Vampire Empire Giveaway Winner,and enjoy!

Thanks to the friendly folks over at Pyr, I’ve got an extra copy of Vampire Empire, book 3: the Kingmakers!

this beautiful book needs a new home, and with as much attention as this series has been getting recently, I’ll bet there are plenty of folks interested. Not sure if this is for you? check out some stellar reviews of the first book The Greyfriar, and the second  book The Riftwalker, and the brand spankin’ new third  book, The Kingmakers!

Rules:

1. Enter by replying to this post. If you are not prompted by the WordPress commenting interface to enter your e-mail address, mention in your comment how I can reach you -  twitter, e-mail, blog, whatever you are comfortable with.

2. this is an international give away. You must have a mailing address on planet Earth.

3. Give away will end at midnight, Eastern Standard Time on Friday, Sept 21. I will contact the randomly chosen winner via e-mail (or whatever other method they have provided me with)

Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay

published in 2010

where I got it: purchased new

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Under Heaven begins with haunting desolation, visits with imperial opulence, and then finds a sort of balance between them. A fitting journey, as the philosophies of the culture of Kitai focuses on balance in life, balance in all things.

In the western wildernesses of a fictional Tang Dynasty China known as Kitai, Shen Tai honors his late father by spending the requisite mourning period at the battleground, burying the dead of both sides, treating all he comes across with dignity and respect.  A Kitai Princess gives Tai a large gift of precious horses for his work at the battleground.  Understand, that horses are rare in Kitai, and that a man who owns two hundred and fifty of them could easily be seen as wealthier than the Emperor.

Tai’s first challenge is to get home alive. His next challenge is to survive the intrigue and subtleties of the court, where a man can be exiled, or worse, for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, or having their poetry misinterpreted. Their courtly traditions may seem formal and cold  to Western eyes, but it’s these traditions that have kept Kitai powerful and strong through the generations that shaped it.

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Hi Everyone!  This week is Bookblogger Appreciate Week!  They do a ton of themed activities, but the one I mostly participate in is the blogger interview swap.  Each blogger is randomly paired with another blogger, and you ask each other some fun questions, make some new friends, and the best part is that i get to discover a new blog that truly, I would have never found on my own. It’s like getting a random penpal. this is my third year doing Interview Swap, and I’m still in contact with the bloggers I was partnered with in previous years. How cool is that?

This year, I got lucky enough to get paired with Allison from On My Bookshelf. She runs the blog with her friend Holly, and they have all sorts of fun, reviewing novels of many genres, cookbooks, some crafty books, and children literature as tested by their young children. You might know Allison from the Stainless Steel Droppings R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) challenge a few years ago too. Make sure to visit On My Bookshelf for Allison’s interview with me. We talk e-books, vampires, and  scifi in pop culture!

here’s my interview with the super-cool Allison:

You run On my Bookshelf with Holly. How did you two meet? How did you two  decide to start a blog?

Holly’s husband and my husband went to high school together, so Holly and I met through them and found a mutual love (obsession) with books.  Our book blog actually started as a book club with a few other members, but Holly and I were the only ones who always read the book, and eventually, the blog was born.

 You review a lot of non-fiction too, like memoirs, cookbooks, and books on  crafts. How is reviewing a non-fiction book different than reviewing  fiction?

Reviewing memoirs is pretty much the same as reviewing fiction for me.  I’m looking primarily at the story being told, and how successful the author is at telling that story.  Even though memoirs are based on actual events, the art to choosing what to include, what light to cast, and what boring bits to skip is still the core for me. Cookbooks and craft books, on the other hand, are all about how well they convey instructions.  Although I read these books for enjoyment and inspiration as well, I’m reviewing them first based on utility, then noting beauty and style.

You review a lot of children’s books, often by seeing if your kids like  them.  How has your blogging (and being obsessed with books!) influenced  your kids?

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.