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

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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.

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Vampires Don’t Sparkle!  edited by Michael West

published in 2013

where I got it: purchased new

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Bloodstone (Rebel Angels, book 2) by Gillian Philip

published November 2013

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

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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.

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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.