the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for November 2013

Sky Coyote (The Company series,  book 2) by Kage Baker

published in 1999

where I got it: purchased used

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

What’s your favorite beer or cocktail?  What’s your favorite drink at Starbucks or coffee shop of your choice?  How many drinks did you have to go through to find the perfect combination of hops and malt, or soy milk or foam or espresso shots? What I’m getting at here is that feeling of when you’ve got something just right, that this coffee has exactly the right amount of cream and is exactly at the right temperature, that feeling of “if only every drink could be this perfect”. That feeling of finally finding out what you like and the perfect combination of ingredients? I found it in a book. A book with perfect combination of sly dialog and sarcasm, great characters, sex jokes, painful introspection, and a feeling of running, running from the truth.  I was the crazy girl whispering to herself over breakfast because I was reading large portions of this book out loud to myself.

And since a book review that consists simply of metaphors that makes sense only to me followed by “this book was incredible, amazing, everything I wanted it to be and more” is useful only to me, I’ll get to the more comprehensible portions of the review, just for you.

Sky Coyote is the second book in Kage Baker’s Company series, and it’s told from the point of view of Joseph, who we met in In the Garden of Iden.  It’s been about a hundred and fifty years since Joseph last saw Mendoza, and she’s still mad at him. When you’re an immortal cyborg you’ve got all the time in the world to stay angry and hold grudges. They’re going to be working together again, and they meet up at the decadent  Mayan Lost City also known as New World One, where Mendoza has been researching New world grains and where Joseph is preparing to become a god.

Well, imitate a god at least.

It’s 1699, and the white man will be making permanent inroads into the New World any day now.  The native tribes of the west coast of the Americas don’t know the disease and horrors that are on their horizon. Usually company operatives are tasked with acquiring objects, technologies, or even plant samples that will be valuable in the future.  This time Joseph has been tasked with acquiring and entire native village. Armed with research of their beliefs and multiple prosthetics, Joseph is about to convince an entire village of Chumash that he’s their trickster god, Sky Coyote.   Joseph has a tough time at first, of course they tell stories about their gods all the time, but they have no idea how to respond with a god shows up on their doorstep.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vampires Don’t Sparkle!  edited by Michael West

published in 2013

where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Vampire fiction has been mostly a turn-off for me lately. I don’t want to read about vegetarian vampires, vampires who don’t want to hurt humans, vampires who are lonely and just waiting for the right mortal who could make this all worth it. I don’t want my vampires to be family friendly. Sexy vampires are always fun, and well, sexy, but I’d rather have the read thing. Give me some violent amoral bloodsuckers any day, give me some Jasper Kent, some Kim Newman, some gold old traditional Bram Stoker any day!  Good thing Vampires Don’t Sparkle! came along. Fifteen authors who agree with me. Fifteen stories where the vampire is the bad guy, the dangerous one, the thing to run away from. As editor Michael West says in his introduction, pop culture (and one particular author who changed the face of vampire fiction) stole vampires from us, and made them into something they’re not. It’s time for us to take them back! These stories aren’t all horror, not in the slightest. Some of them are laugh out loud funny, some of them cover the lonely and dangerous reality of what hunting humans entails,   there is a truly disturbing one about how one man learns how to destroy a vampire. They are all a throwback to what so many of us have been missing. Sick of sparkly vampires? This anthology is for you.

If you’re on the fence about if you want your vampires gentle and sparkly or violent and uncaring, be aware that there is straight up making fun of Twilight. No bones about it, some of these authors are pretty pissed at what Vampire fiction has become.

Each story opens with a short bio of the author, and who (or what) the author’s favorite type of vampires are, with shout-outs going to I am Legend, Salem’s Lot, The Historian, Kim Newman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even Sesame Street’s The Count among many others. I appreciated that editor West solicited stories from authors who have loved this type of fiction their entire life.

Read the rest of this entry »

hundred thousand

Who wants to follow one incredible fantasy novel with another incredible fantasy novel?  I DO!   This time, we’re picking up the much lauded The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin.  this book has been on my radar since it came out, and it just never made it to the top of my mount TBR.  Thankfully Susan over at Dab of Darkness insisted that this be my next read along novel. THANK YOU SUSAN!!!!

Interested in joining?  Here’s the schedule and the who’s who:

Chapters 1-9, 106 pages Dab of Darkness, post goes up Dec. 2nd
Chapters 10-16, 100 pages On Starships & Dragonwings, post goes up Dec. 9th
Chapters 17-22, 96 pages Little Red Reviewer post goes up Dec. 16th
Chapters 23-End, 96 pages Violin in a Void, post goes up Dec. 23rd

Wanna read along and get discussion questions early?  Let me know in the comments. 😀

Welcome friends!   This is the final post in our Republic of Thieves read along. I hope everyone had a good time? It was one helluva book, wasn’t it?  This week’s questions come courtesy of Allie of Tethyan Books. Head on over to her blog for the link list of everyone who is participating, and you’re welcome to leave your link in the comments here as well.

So many, and i do mean SO MANY spoilers abound, so questions and answers are after the jump. I can’t help but tease though. . . .

In Espara…

1. The Republic of Thieves:  It’s the first and final performance!  What did you think of the play?  Were you entertained, or eager to get on with the rest of the story?  Also, how do you feel about how the play fits in the novel, in terms of the story and the characters who play the parts?

2. The Other Performance:  Of course, the GB and company had another important performance to get through—the one that ensures none of them end up hanged!  What was your favorite part of this scheme?  Do you agree with their plan for dealing with Moncraine’s treachery?

Read the rest of this entry »

New goodies!  Received from the publisher:

The Book of Apex Volume 4 – edited by Lynne Thomas, this features original fiction published in Apex magazine. Ken Liu, Catherynne Valente, Elizabeth Bear. . .  it’s so pretty.  No, really, it is. The photograph doesn’t do it justice. Everything about this book looks absolutely fricken’ gorgeous. i’ve barely had time to crack it open, and I’m already falling into the cover art.

And from Orbit, we have Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach and Malice by John Gwynne.  Looking through the promo material that came with Fortune’s Pawn, I kept wondering why they were also advertising Rachel Aaron’s Eli Monpress series. Ahh,  because they are the same person. She writes under both Rachel Bach and Rachel Aaron.  I don’t know much about Malice except that at first glance it looks to be in the Joe Abercrombie military epic fantasy mold.

Anyone read any of these? what do you think? what looks interesting to you?

Goodies from the publisher isn’t enough for me, cuz I iz greedy.  Had to visit the bookstore too!

We’ve been trying to cull the book collection. It’s either that or buy more bookshelves. As it  is, I’m afraid the floor of our apartment is going to cave in under the weight of all these books, and give our downstairs neighbor one helluva surprise.   I took a grocery bags worth of books to the usedbook store for trade (a few older paperbacks, a few brand new books that weren’t catching my attention, even a glossy photo filled cookbook or two).  turned in a tall stack of books, got a shorter stack of more interesting books in return.

For Vintage Scifi Month:

I have such a weakness for these Doctor Who books.  The new ones haven’t done much for me, but oh, these old ones, I adore them. They are candy to me!    I’m woefully underread when it comes to Zelazny, so found what looked to be a stand alone novel from him.  Hoping the local used bookstore would just happen to have the first Amber book was pushing my luck!

but I did feel mightly lucky when I found these:

there’s no such thing as having enough Kage Baker! The Life of the World to Come is a Company novel, Sky Coyote is I think a stand alone.

Hey Baker and Zelazny experts: help a girl out. Can I read the Company novels out of order, and what’s the recommended reading order for the Amber books?

and not that anyone cares, but the digital camera on my new smart phone is insanely awesome.  compared to the photos my older model digital camera takes, these new photos look practically 3-D!

Gillian Philip has been making me all sorts of squeerolling happy lately.  It was only April of this year that I read Firebrand, the first book in her Rebel Angels series. And just, WOW.  Go read my review.  no, seriously, go read it. And then go read the even better review of the second book in the series, Bloodstone, which just came out.

Ok, so what’s better than these two incredible books?  well, two things, actually.  Thing the first, is Gillian’s superb guest post below on character point-of-view, and thing the second is Tor is giving away two copies of Bloodstone!  See details at the bottom of the post for rules about the giveaway.

about the author:

Gillian Philip was born in Glasgow, lived for twelve years in Barbados, and now lives in the north of Scotland with her husband, twin children, three dogs, two sociopathic cats, a slayer hamster, three chickens and a lot of nervous fish. She’s the author of The Darke Academy series (writing as Gabriella Poole), the  Survivors series, (as part of the Erin Hunter writing team), a long list of children’s and young adult stand alone novels, and the Rebel Angels dark fantasy series.  She’s been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend award, the Carnegie Medal, and been shortlisted for numerous other book awards. Learn more at her website her twitter, and her facebook page.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A viewpoint on points of view…  by Gillian Philip

When I wrote Firebrand – and I still remember how much fun it was, for me if not for my characters – I had the best time spending an entire book and months of my life in Seth MacGregor’s head. Every word was written in his first person narrative. I lived with that boy every minute of every day and it felt like having… well, let’s see… a very, very close younger brother constantly at my side (anything further might verge on creepy, ahem). I knew what he was thinking and feeling, I knew what he was planning, and it felt very much as if that came from him, not me.

Now, Seth had actually started his life as a minor villain in Bloodstone (the first of the series I actually wrote) and he’d barged in, taken over and demanded it be all about him. I didn’t mind.  I liked him. I liked him more than I really should have, given the kind of things he got up to in Bloodstone.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bloodstone (Rebel Angels, book 2) by Gillian Philip

published November 2013

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

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Earlier this year the first book in the Rebel Angel series, Firebrand, really hit me hard. No, “hit me hard” isn’t quite right, “destroyed me where I stood” is closer to the mark.  Having survived that, I thought I had an idea of what to expect with Bloodstone, I knew to emotionally steel myself.

Seth’s MacGregor’s inner conflicts are tearing him apart, and one day it’s going to rip a hole in him so wide that another person could walk right through. What do you do when your family needs you to be someone you’re not? How do you tell someone a truth that might kill them?  How do you run from one, and face the other? Didn’t matter that I thought I was preparing myself. I was still completely floored from the first page to the last.

Seth  means to do the right thing. He wants to be as brave and mature as his older brother Conal, whom he idolizes. But Seth just isn’t that person, and he’s never going to be. He’s always going to prefer flirting to politics and fists to compromise.  Seth is no one’s hero, and he doesn’t want to be. Doesn’t matter, you’ll still love him.

The Rebel Angels series has everything I look for in a good story – compelling characters who act like real people, dialog that’s got some humor to it (when Jed finds out Seth is a fae, there is no end of Tinkerbell and other fairy jokes),  misunderstood promises and prophecies with unintentional and painful consequences. No “chosen ones” here, just people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, people who couldn’t fathom the consequences of their actions. There is a long conversation in here somewhere about free will.

Read the rest of this entry »

Women in SF, a Guest Post by Ian Sales

Ian Sales is a writer, reviewer and the curator of SF Mistressworks. He has been published in a number of magazines and original anthologies. He won the 2012 British Science Fiction Association Award for his hard sf novella Adrift on the Sea of Rains, the first book of the Apollo Quartet. It was also a finalist for the 2012 Sidewise Award. The second book of the quartet, The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself, was published in January 2013, and the third, Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above, was published in November 2013. He can be found at iansales.com

During the 1950s, Margaret St Clair published almost eighty stories, all in major sf magazine titles. Some might know her 1963 novel, Sign of the Labrys, although it has never been reprinted. Marta Randall’s debut novel, Islands, was shortlisted for the 1977 Nebula Award, and she was the first female president of the SFWA. Islands has not been reprinted since 1980. Doris Piserchia published thirteen novels between 1973 and 1983. She has not had a book in print since 1987. Phyllis Gotlieb was shortlisted for a Nebula in 1973, and won two Aurora Awards, including one for lifetime achievement. She published ten novels between 1964 and 2007, few of which were ever reprinted and none are currently in print. Jo Clayton was hugely prolific: beginning in 1977, she wrote thirty-four novels in twenty years. All of her books are now out of print.

EPSON MFP image

The list of forgotten women sf writers is embarrassingly long. While it’s true there are male writers of science fiction who have also been forgotten, there are also many who are remembered as “great” or “classic” authors, or even as “grand masters”. The list of women remembered in this way is far smaller. Ask someone to name five sf writers of the 1950s, or the 1960s, and chances are the names they will give are all male. It’s almost as if women’s contribution to science fiction has been written out of the genre’s history.

And, in a way, it has. If you search online for a list of “best” or “classic” science fiction novels or short stories, any list you might find will be predominantly male – if not entirely male. Only this month, redditors voted on “the 25 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time”, and there was only one book by a woman on the list – The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin.The original SF Masterworks series published by Millennium contained only four books by women out of seventy-three titles (and two of those were by Le Guin). In 2010, Joanna Russ’s classic The Female Man was the first book by a woman published in the relaunched series, but the twentieth title.

Read the rest of this entry »

republic of thieves cover 1

You guys.

I have been waiting since like August to for THIS POST. All the stuff I couldn’t talk about the in the review? I can talk about it now! with all of you!  Why can’t all Mondays be this awesome?

We’re nearly to the end, and the reveals have been coming fast and furious.  Just, holy shit, WOW.   Now I remember why I used the phrase brick shitting in my review.  We’re not even done with the book yet, which means there’s MORE for next week!

Leave me your link in the comments, and I’ll update the post as often as I can with a list of everyone’s links.

thar be spoilers, matey, (epic, earth shattering spoilers), so questions and answers are after the jump.

Speaking of everyone else’s links, here they be:

Over the Effing Rainbow

Dab of Darkness

Tethyan Books

Lynn’s Book Blog

All I am – A Redhead

Genkinahito’s Blog

Theft and Sorcery

Joma’s Fantasy Books

Violin In A Void

Many a True Nerd

Coffee Cookies and Chili Peppers

Books Without Any Pictures

(I’ll add more links as people post, so keep checking back!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond the Rift, by Peter Watts

available November 2013

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

..

.

.

Peter Watts is the kind of story teller who doesn’t let us lie to ourselves. His writing style is aggressive and unrelentingly honest, he understands how easy it is, how natural human arrogance can be. We always think we know best, don’t we? Especially when it comes to people we’ve never met, or creatures we don’t understand.  That book, Blindsight, that’s on everyone’s “most important science fiction books” list? This is that guy.

Including two award winning short stories, The Things (which I reviewed here) and The Island, this collection could easily be subtitled “the best of”. Past the award winners, you’ll find the mind blowers – the stories that take what you think you know about how we think about our universe and flip it all inside out.  Thought crime control, the crushing dangers of the ocean’s bottom, a new way for religion to work,  a woman torn between her own body and that of a four year old child, a prequel to the Rifters trilogy, and so much more await you in Beyond The Rift. Head over to the Tachyon tumblr page to read some excerpts.

Be sure to read the Outtro, an intro of sorts, that comes at the end of the book instead of the beginning. It’s important that you read that part, and it’s important that you read it *last*.  Watts has a pretty good idea of how most people are going to react to his work, and now he’s going to explain himself.

confused yet? intrigued yet? a little  of both? Here are my thoughts on my favorite stories from Beyond the Rift.

The Island – Like the other workers on the Eriophora, Sunday and Dixon only wake up when they’re needed. The ship’s chimp brained AI has found a good spot, so it’s time to start building. A gate, that is.   Yes, Sunday, Dixon, and the other sleeping crew members are glorified highway construction workers. Sleeping most of the way, they travel far ahead, building transit gates in every corner of the galaxy. Humanity evolved, and left their road crews behind.  Sunday can barely even recognize what comes through the gates as human anymore. There is some brilliantly tight world building happening in this story, that’s for sure. Dix is still young, he wants to be awake all the time, he thinks there’s so much he can learn from the ship’s AI, no matter that Sunday tells him she ripped her port out years ago, and for good reason.  He’ll barely stand still long enough for her to try to explain what happened all those years ago. Regardless, they’ve found a spot, and construction has begun.  And then they find something strange, someone no one has ever seen before. The star they are near, it is surrounded by a sphere of organic material, it’s one huge organism. Sunday even describes it as a giant dyson sphere. She doesn’t want to hurt anything that might be intelligent, even if it’s not sentient, or is, and can’t communicate with them. After studying the star, she realizes it is benign and helpless, and that if she doesn’t move the gate, she’ll kill it. How arrogant, how human she is, to think she can understand this creature.  Maybe it can’t communicate in any meaningful way, but it knows how to get what it wants.

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,511 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on WordPress.com

Archives

Categories

FTC Stuff

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.