the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for December 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time. If you’ve been paying attention, nothing on this list will be a surprise to you.  If you happened to stumble by because you like “year end” lists,  these are my top ten speculative fiction books I read this year.  Looking for a good read? go find one of these.

Some of them are old.

Some of them are new.

Some of them were borrowed.

None of them are blue.


I’ve linked the titles to my reviews.  In no particular order:

Sky Coyote by Kage Baker (1999) – the second in The Company series, this novel is told from Joseph’s point of view (and yes, Mendoza is still really, really pissed off at him). Joseph gets to do one of his favorite things – pretend to be a God. But this time, he’s got to get even the skeptics to believe his act.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (2013) – No surprise this one made it to my best of the year list, as this is one of my favorite fantasy series.  It’s true, I ranted a little about a character who really annoyed me, but holy shit, that ending??  holy shit!  Also, I do just happen to have a Cinnamon colored dress/jacket combo and a four cornered grey hat in the making.

The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White (2013 )- Secret societies, multiple personalities, sublime prose, metaphysics, unexpected romance, characters that rip each other to shreds.  What more could you possibly want? I got meddled with, my switches got hit, and I never wanted it to end.  Just go read it already. Everything about this book was spot-on perfection for me.

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks (1990) – only the best Culture novel of the best space opera series in existence.  Not the easiest book in the world to read, but the subtlety, and the reveal at the end, and oh god I knew something was so horribly wrong as soon as he said he was going to cut his hair. . .

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Contact, by Carl Sagan

published in 1985

where I got it: paperback swap










Don’t know who Carl Sagan is?   the horror!  Get thee to his wikipedia page, pronto! And then put Cosmos (the original. not the new ones they made off the old soundtrack) on your Netflix.

Contact was written in the 1980’s, and the only thing that made it feel dated was that cell phones and e-mail never show up.  Ellie has to drag a telefax machine around with her when she travels.  It’s all late 80s technology. And yet. We went to the moon on the computing power of a Commodore64, which means I can completely believe that all that’s needed to translate an alien message is a radio telescope, a sliderule, and a fax machine.  Time waits for no one, and aliens don’t wait for the invention of the i-pad.

Eleanor Arroway always loved radios. She took them apart as a child, and as an adult became one of the only female radio telescope directors. Obsessed with SETI (The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), Director Arroway was able to ensure her “farfetched” sky scanning projects got the majority of the telescope time.  This is of course, a novel about first contact, so it’s not a spoiler to tell you that an alien message is received.

The message comes from Vega, and at first all we hear is a pattern of prime numbers.   There’s got to be more to it than someone shouting prime numbers, right? Of course there is.

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admit it.  how many of you have shaken, peeked into, or generally cheated by opening your Christmas gifts early?   you’re not kidding anyone, we can all see the re-taping marks on the gifts under the tree and we can see where you stuffed the tissue paper back into the gift back. 😉

discovering a “new to you” author is always a gift to yourself, and you don’t have to wait till Christmas or your birthday to enjoy it.   Doesn’t matter if your friends have been reading that guy for years, or if she passed away before you were born.  They don’t have to be a debut author to be new to you.

What is your favorite “new to you” author that you discovered in 2013?

Some of my “new to me!” authors I discovered in 2013 include N.K. Jemisin,  Ian Tregillis,  Emma Bull (yes, I know),  Gillian Philip and Melanie Rawn.

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Well my friends, this is it.  We’ve come to the end of our read along for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  Make sure to watch Dab of Darkness for announcements about a continuing read along in N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

Will someone please make a time machine for me, so I can go back to 2010 and read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms back when it first came out? Calling this book amazing just doesn’t cut it, because it’s also innovative, ground breaking, gorgeously written,  and I could talk for hours and hours about the characters.  Ehh, maybe I should actually write a formal review?  But before that, I better get to this week’s questions, which were provided by Lauren from Violin in a Void.  Head over to her site to see what everyone else said.

btw, let it be known: I’m an idiot. Because many of us had finished the book early, Lauren so kindly sent out questions early so we could write up our responses while it was fresh in our minds.  Was it fresh in my mind when I got her e-mail? you bet!  is it still fresh in my mind 5 days later? not so much. Lauren = brilliant, me = idiot.

Questions, answers, and buckets and buckets of spoilers (and me rambling) is after the jump!

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In the theme of super chilled out discussions for the rest of the year, here’s an easy one:

What book releases are you most looking forward to in 2014?

and because I love to tease you, here are some links to what’s coming soon!

Coming soon from Angry Robot.

Orbit Books fall2013/Winter2014 cover image gallery

Coming soon from Pyr Books

Coming soon from Tor

A very extensive Forthcoming Books list from Locus

have more links to other publisher’s coming soon lists?  Link up in the comments and I’ll add to the list up here.

I love this idea of book blind dates.  You don’t know the title, don’t know the author, can’t see what the cover looks like. You just get a little bit of information, like if it’s a fantasy, or a memoir, or alternate history, or a thriller.  No strings attached, no commitment, but it’s a neat way to try something that you might not have picked up otherwise.



Today’s totally chillaxed year end discussion question is:

What words or phrases written on the outside of a book blind date would make you pick it up?

I think mine would include:


fun dialog

plot twists and turns

non-human characters

Wow, where did the beginning of December go?  Christmas is right around the corner, and then January. . .  and then, well, January is sort of the start of some explosions for me.  So in preparation for that, I won’t be doing much in the way of formal book reviews and expected blog posts for the rest of the year.  Sure, I’ve got another read along post (N.K. Jemisin is holy shit AMAZING btw), a “best of the year” post, and one more book review in the works, but I’m taking the rest of December easy.   Taking a breather to mentally prepare for January.

That said, let’s just have some fun discussions.   I’ll shamelessly steal discussion questions from i09,  Sunday Salon posts, and discussion memes, and we can just sit around and chat in the comments.

First random discussion question:

What’s your guilty pleasure in books?

this was on my mind recently, because I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that super hot sex scenes is a major guilty pleasure of mine.  No thanks to reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which for not having a ton of actual sex, has a ton of insanely steamy scenes.

I also have a major weakness for snarky, swear word filled dialog.  But that’s not so much a guilty pleasure, as I can find it just about anywhere.


Your turn!  Take it over in the comments!

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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.