the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for April 2017

 

We have a bottle of champagne still sitting around from New Years, and we’re waiting for a particular special occasion to open it.

 

Do you ever do that with a book?  Save reading it for a special occasion or a certain time, maybe when you’re on vacation, or early Sunday morning when the house is quiet, or maybe you’re waiting until the author announces the release date for the next book in the series, or you want to see the movie or the tv show first.

 

I’m curious – if you wait for a certain occasion or event to read a book, what is the book and why are you waiting for that particular event before you read it?

 

I have a third book in a trilogy that I haven’t read yet. It is a completed trilogy, and I’ve been a fan of this author for many years.  At first, I told myself I was waiting for the author to announce the release date for their next stand alone novel before I finished the trilogy. Well, that has come and gone, and the new book is getting rave reviews. I still haven’t picked up that third book. Now my excuse is that I want to find time to read books 1 and 2 back to back so I can binge read all three over the course of a week or two.  Well, I have the time, and I haven’t done it.

 

I think the real reason I haven’t read the third book is because once I finish the trilogy it will be over. All the lines will have been drawn on the map, the character’s story arcs will come to an end, there won’t be any more exploring to do. If I stay at the end of the 2nd book, I feel like I’m still on the frontier. I can see the end, but it’s a long way off in the distance yet.

 

Next weekend I should really just binge read all three, shouldn’t I?

Tags: ,

Final Girls, by Mira Grant

Available April 30th, 2017

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

.

.

Mira Grant (also known as Seanan McGuire), is famous for her novels and series – the Newsflesh series, the October Daye series, and plenty of stand alones. Having read a small sample of her work, my opinion is that Grant’s talent shines brightest in her short fiction.  Her new stand alone novella, Final Girls, can be enjoyed over the course of an afternoon. And trust me, you’ll only need the one afternoon to read this novella, because you won’t be able to put it down.

 

I wrote an entire page of notes just in the first 30 pages of this 112 page novella, and by the time I finished the story, all my notes were irrelevant because the story had twisted and turned in about hundred unexpected directions.

 

Esther Hoffman, a journalist who specializes in debunking quackery, has been assigned to do an investigative report on Dr. Jennifer Webb’s new methods of therapy.  Dr. Webb uses dream therapy – her patients read about a horrific scenario in which they face their deepest fears, and then they are put into a hypnotic dream state where they dream the scenario and play it out to it’s conclusion. The person is physically perfectly safe, and a technician watches their vital signs to pull them out if anything dangerous happens.  Ideally, the patient learns that they can, and will survive whatever hardships they’ve been facing, and that they can now move on and live a mentally healthier life.

 

At first blush, Final Girls feels like a cross between the movies Paprika and Inception. Except Esther brings plenty of baggage to Dr. Webb’s office, and Dr. Webb is only interested in seeing her name on research papers or a nobel prize.   Dr. Webb convinces Esther that the only way she can honestly judge the quality of this new research is to do a session of therapy, and see how or even if it changes her thoughts. As Esther signs the release forms, you can practically see Webb’s ulterior motives in the corner of her toothy grin.

Read the rest of this entry »

Book Reviews coming soon to a review blog near you!

and by “a review blog near you”, I mean this one.

Some books I recently finished, and am working on reviews for:

The friendly folks at Subterranean Press sent me Final Girls by Mira Grand, and The Dispatcher by John Scalzi.  Both are novellas, and can be enjoyed over the course of an afternoon. Reviews coming soon!

I am ever so slowly working my way through Kage Baker’s company novels. Gods and Pawns is a collection of short stories. Lots of Lewis (Yay!!!), some Joseph, and a smidgen of Mendoza.  Every time I see Lewis, I can’t help but picture Cyril Figgis from Archer.  I’d had this book sitting on the kitchen table next to some cookbooks, and hubs said at first glance he thought it said “Gods and Prawns”.  that would be a weird but probably good cookbook?

 

My book I’m reading right now is Turbulence, by Samit Basu.  I’d been interested in his superhero novel since interviewing him for SFSignal way back when, so I was excited to come across a copy of this book. It’s hilarious! And engaging! And the characters snark at each other!  much fun is being had.  Husband said the cover art made him dizzy, I told him that’s what you get for wearing lineless trifocals. Looking at the cover art makes me think I need some red and blue 3-D glasses.

Lost Souls,  by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville series)

published March 31 2017

Where I got it: received ARC from the publisher. Thanks Subterranean!!

.

.

.

These ongoing series are fantastic, aren’t they?  Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.  You never run out of books to read!

 

On the downside, a huge series like that can be daunting for someone who hasn’t even started it yet.  You mean I have to read 7 novels before the backstory starts up?  You most certainly do not.  Find yourself a short story or novella that takes place in that world as a “dipping your toes in”, as it were. Will you be reading things out of order? Yeah. Might there be spoilers? Yep!  But, you’ll get a feel for if this is a world you want to invest more time in.

 

Kelley Armstrong’s first novel, Bitten, came out in 2001, and since then she’s written over 25 novels, primarily supernatural urban fantasy, but also mystery and a few books for kids.

 

Her newest novella, Lost Souls, is part of her Cainsville series, in which people are desperately trying to escape their past and live normal lives.  This novella was my first  first Armstrong (I know, right?), and I’m pleased to say I came out of it caring about these characters and wanting to keep their secrets safe. Even better news?  If, like me, you haven’t read any of the Cainsville urban fantasy novels,  this Lost Souls is a good jumping in point.  Spoilers? Oh,sure,  a few.  But knowing the future is kinda fun, because when you go back and read the first two Cainsville novels,  you’ll feel like you’re in on a big secret that no one else knows.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cold Iron, by Stina Leicht

published in 2015

where I got it: purchased new

 

 

 

Cold Iron came out in 2015, and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since.  Stina Leicht? Everything she writes is gold,  so why did I wait so long to read this one?

 

This is why I was nervous:

  • It is a fat book. It looks like it would take me forever to read, and through all of 2015 and 2016 I had very limited reading time. Did I want to commit to a book that was going to take me a month to read?
  • The cover art screams military fantasy.  Yes, I know I went through my Joe Abercrombie phase, but then I realized I was no longer interested in trails of dead bodies. I was no longer interested in stories that glorified battle and killing. The cover art shows a dude with a pistol, looking over a field of battle.   Was I going to like this book??

 

Every so often I reread my reviews of Stina Leicht’s Fey and Fallen books, and am reminded of how much I love her writing. Prose sharp as a knife, plotting so tight you’ll never escape, and good god the characters she develops.  I recently did a 5 books 50 pages, where I grabbed 5 books I’d been meaning to read, and only committed to reading the first 50 pages. If I liked what I was reading, I could continue, and if the book just didn’t do it for me, I was under zero obligation to read further.  My comments about Cold Iron after 50 pages were:

 

“Nels is broody, his personal bodyguard/spy/assassin Viktor is snarky AF, I want to join up with the Waterborne, and Leicht has already written the sequel.  As she always does, Leicht writes characters you immediately become invested in.  Cold Iron is some solid awesome.”

 

I was hooked in the opening chapter. Nine pages in, and I knew I’d be devouring this novel.  A ritual done after a death, swords that carry the memories of the dead.  I was happily hooked. And the book only got better from there.

 

Everything about this novel was so wonderful, that I don’t know even where to start.  The characters were fantastic, the pacing is spot on perfect, and I loved that Leicht built a fantasy world that exists in a changing world.

 

I loved the world of Cold Iron.  Leicht created a magic filled fantasy world, one where blood remembers and swords and knives carry memories, a world where water-weavers can control the weather and speak to creatures of the ocean deep.  And then she had a non-magical culture (humans!)  invade it with muskets and small pox.   Yep, small pox. And that’s not a spoiler, by the way.  The Eledorians are used to fighting with magic,  but how do you magic away a high mortality infectious disease to which no one has immunity?

Read the rest of this entry »

When the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive hit $3500, it unlocked me doing a No Boundaries interview with Jason Sizemore, editor-in-chief of the magazine.  The fundraiser reached that goal a few days ago, and we recorded the interview the other night.  I had a very short window of time to get questions from Jason’s friends, co-workers, his nemesis, and I even got a few questions from my friends who have no idea who he is.

What’s a No Boundaries interview? It’s where I could ask Jason absolutely anything, and no topics were off limits.  I did make him blush, but we didn’t get it on camera.

Enjoy the interview!  And head over to the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive store, pick yourself up a subscription, a subscription bundle, a signed manuscript, short story critique, mystery boxes, book bundle, home made crafts, and brand new in the Drive store are – holy crap there is a copy of The Weird Compendium that is signed by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer!   The Drive runs through April 17th,  and the funds raised will allow Jason and team to purchase more weird surreal fiction, to pay artists and writers more, and to give fan of the magazine more of what they’ve come to enjoy. A fitting anniversary for a magazine that’s coming up to it’s 100th issue, wouldn’t you say?

 

oh, anyway,  here’s a link for the interview. I don’t know how to embed a 22 minute video into a WordPress article.

Jason Sizemore No Boundaries Interview by Andrea Johnson

click the link, don’t click this picture. the picture doesn’t go anywhere.

He says it’s not moonshine in that coffee mug…

 

What did we talk about?  Everything from heated toilet seats, to llamas, to something embarrassing he did at a Con, to who he wants on his Apocalypse team, to famous Apex parties (lots of people wanted me to ask him what’s in the famous Apex Party Punch!), to books he wishes he could experience for the first time.  And yes, we even talked some serious stuff about Apex sales and editing.

 

Enjoy!

 

Also?

Ursula Vernon’s short story “The Tomato Thief”  from Apex Magazine issue 80 is on the Hugo Ballot

Rosewater by Tade Thompson is on the Locus Annual Recommended Reading List

 

 

In 1968, Alexei Panshin wrote a coming of age novel called Rite of Passage.  The story follows twelve year old Mia Havero, as she readies for her “trial”, during which she’ll spend 30 days alone in the wilderness of a planet.  Having spent her life on a ship, she’s got a lot to learn about how to survive dirtside.    Rite of Passage won the Nebula, and was nominated for a Hugo.  This is most definitely  not your standard 60s “kid goes on an adventure”!

 

My close friend Andy lent me his copy of Rite of Passage, and although it took months of him asking me to do so, I finally read it.     It was an absolutely fantastic novel, and it was easy for me to see why Rite of Passage made it to so many awards ballots.  Even better, the story doesn’t feel dated.  Written almost 50 years ago,  it read like a novel that could have been written 10 years ago. Andy and I decided the best way to talk about it was to literally talk about it over Google Docs, and share our chat.   Our conversation below does spoil  some huge stuff that happens at the end of the story, there is plenty more we haven’t mentioned that awaits new readers.

 

 

Andrea: What did you think of Mia? She’s not the typical scifi protagonist [for a 1960’s scifi novel], that’s for sure!

 

Andy: I think Panshin had to tell this story through the eyes and experiences of someone Mia’s age (she is 12 when the story begins). Adults have hardened into acceptance (or, more rarely, rejection) of their society’s system of beliefs. Mia is still discovering these and so is receptive to alternatives.

 

Andrea: Not all the kids come back from their month on a planet.  I assumed that a percentage of kids “go native”, and decide that life on a planet is preferable to life on the ship.  What did you think happened to the kids that didn’t come back?

 

Andy: I’d like to think that many, if not most, did “go native.” However, given the mutual hostility and distrust between the starships and the planet-bound made plain in the novel, I think the majority were either killed by the planet-siders (if pursuing the aggressive “tiger” survival strategy) or died of exposure and starvation (for those using the “turtle” approach, keeping their heads down in remote places). Both the planetary societies and the one on Mia’s ship are quite harsh, in their own ways. Except for Mia and her friend Jimmy, and the people who befriend Mia on Grainau, there’s not a lot of mercy in evidence on either side.

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 1,783 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.