the Little Red Reviewer

hello world!

Posted on: March 7, 2021

Oh hi!  I haven’t forgotten about this blog, i swear! I fact, at least 3 times a week I say to myself “I really oughta write something for my  blog”, and then before I know a week has flown by. I keep saying “I’m going to get up early on Sunday and blog!” and then instead, I sleep. Life is funny like that. 

 

I’ve read a LOT, and I got a lot going on right now*,  so you get mini reviews!

 

And what a selection do I have for you! Epic fantasy, scifi short stories, and contemporary thrillers!

 

Have you seen this fricken gorgeous cover art on Rebecca Roanhorse’s novel Black Sun? Are you kinda bored with Euro-based epic fantasy, but want your politics, your intrigue, your religion, and your insurrection? This is the book for you!  Also! Excellent characters, fantastic world, paced perfectly, damn enjoyable read. I zipped through this book. I was a little worried at first, because the first chapter is brutal and kinda gross, but the rest of the book isn’t like. And? Is this epic fantasy with a female gaze? Yes, yes it is. And it was nice. Also Mesoamerican epic fantasy may be my new groove. Forget grog and stew, I’m more about chocolate and corn and squash!

Something I really liked about Black Sun was that people are constantly asking other people “yeah,  but what next?”.  I feel like a lot of epic fantasies suffer from this weirdness of a time vacuum, that the characters only exist for this specific story, and no one has a “what’s next” in their life, the characters aren’t even thinking about the rest of their lives, they should have taken that note from Samwise!  Anyway, I appreciated that characters in Black Sun are always thinking about the future, and pestering other people “yeah, but what are gonna do, after that?”.  It makes them all seem more like real people.

 

The issue I had with Black Sun isn’t a Roanhorse problem, this is a me problem. I 100% suck at keeping track of lots of characters. Black Sun doesn’t have tons and tons of point of view characters, but just enough that it was too much for me. Anyways, my OTP is Xiarapio. I was itching for their chapters because that plasma hot sexual tension between the two of them! And I feel bad for them, because they’ve got, well, other things going on, definitely not a good time to get into a relationship, but damn, those sparks!! 

A very good friend gifted me with a copy of Behind her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, and like the jackass friend I am, I put it on my bookshelf and forgot about it.  Then someone mentioned it on twitter, and I was in the mood for a contemporary thriller, and BOY DID THAT BOOK DELIVER! I’m not even going to compare it to other thrillers for fear of giving stuff away.  Let’s see, what can I tell you?  Divorced Louise meets a nice guy, David, at a bar one evening. Next week she finds out he’s her new boss! (that sounds so cliché, I know, but stay with me, ok?)  They both know it’s wrong because he’s married, but he’s miserable in his marriage, and she misses the feeling of being wanted. Then she befriends David’s wife, Adele, who is sweet and lonely.  The story flip flops between Louise’s and Adele’s point of views, and how they are both trying to keep David from finding out they are friends. Louise is flustered by the entire thing, Adele is just a smidge manipulative, and David treats Louise like a queen but is super controlling with his wife Adele.  

 

What these two women are going through, and how Louise questions everything she does, and how Adele seems to over plan things, and what isn’t said, I couldn’t put this book down! I loved Louise’s inner monologue, she’s vibrant and complicated and loves her son and is frustrated her first marriage didn’t work out and she just wants to be loved. She’s torn between “my son is the only man I need in my life!” and wanting an adult relationship where she’s appreciated and loved. I loved that this book had Louise’s emotions and complexities front and center. 

 

The twist had me falling off my chair. 

And now I want to read it all over again, and look for all the clues that I missed the first time through.  That’s my favorite kind of thriller, where the author leaves clues everywhere, but through slight of hand makes sure you are always paying attention to something else. I gotta read some more Sarah Pinborough, that is for sure!

Looking for some short stories because you don’t have the time or attention span for a novel right now? I hear that!  You follow Rachel Cordasco on twitter right? You read her SF in Translation website right?  She translated most of the stories in Clelia Farris’s collection Creative Surgery.

 

These stories were all enjoyable to read, and featured fun characters.  I loved how the scifi elements were seamlessly woven in everyone’s every day lives, along side possible things that might be real or might be kids pretending. There’s nanites, mild altering seafood, robots who assist a famous literary character who is trapped in time, medical students who create animal chimeras, a lot of really fun and intriguing ideas, in bite sized pieces!  I have a suspicion I’ll be returning to this collection over and over, just to visit these incredible places and have a chance to chew on these ideas more often. 

 

My favorites – 

 

Gabola – loved this story for the world building and the characters.  Nanites, poker, citizens that don’t want developers ripping down their traditions, politics, and the biggest possible gamble. And damn,  the worldbuilding in this story is incredible! A character walks through the town and I feel like I’m there!  I also got a kick out of the fact that a character manufactures fake relics and grave goods and plants them in tombs, so as to catch tomb raiders when they try to sell the items.  This story is about characters trying to accomplish something, and they accomplish their goal.  And yet, there is this profound sense of loss. 

 

Rebecca – a science fictionalized moment out of the famous novel Rebecca (which I really need to read). Rebecca was a scientist, and now she is barely alive,  doomed to relive the same moment in time, eternally. She’ll need to find someone who can do the things she is no longer able to do, and robotic Danvers isn’t that person. If only she could meet the new Mrs. de Winter. This was an absolutely superb story, I gobbled it up.

 

Creative Surgery – content warning: this story contains abuse towards animals and it is also absolutely disgusting. I nearly couldn’t finish it (gimme a break, I’m squeamish!), but I kept reading because I was so curious about why the narrator is buying hormones, what the hell Vi is up to, and I laughed my head off at the scene where people need to walk on stilts because there is so much dog poop everywhere.  Beneath all the grossness, this is a story about are we more than just our parent’s DNA mashed together? Can we make ourselves something more, or something less? How much of what we are, do we have any control over? Basically, it’s nature vs nurture, mixed with out of control medical technologies. Imagine if Dr. Frankenstien became the dean of a medical school, and everyone thought he was a genius, go forward in time around 300 years, and you might have something like Creative Surgery.  Once you get past the ick factor, there’s a ton of great philosophical conversations to be had out of this story, and again, the characterization and worldbuilding were top  notch.

*Everything is fine. We’re trying to buy a house/in the process of buying a house. Try to buy a house during a pandemic, they said. It’ll be fun, they said!  You won’t lose sleep over it, they said! Getting outbid all the time is part of the adventure, they said!   I am, actually, not sleeping worth shit and my job is also quite stressful right now.  whoever said “a mortgage is cheaper than rent!” lives in an overpriced apartment and they can absolutely kiss my ass.

 

17 Responses to "hello world!"

Welcome back, dear!

Liked by 1 person

Hello and good to see you back! Black Sun really was amazing, wasn’t it! But yes, lots of names to keep track of!

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yes! SO many names and characters! i ended up doing what I always do when i read books that have (to me) too many characters – fixate on my faves, who in Black Sun were Xiala and Serapio. Black Sun was so good I see myself reading it again, and then maybe again after that. Seems like a book that would be great to pick up again every few years.

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You could have made things easier on both of us and just bought my house in the fall!

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lol, now you tell me! we just got an offer accepted on a house that’s about a half hour south of you. Closer to my work, and it’s out in the country a bit so taxes are lower.

Liked by 1 person

Welcome back!
I love the cover of Creative Surgery, but not so sure about some of the content. Tons to read here and I’m low on reading energy.
That last bit? My mortgage payment is just a hair over a grand, while the neighbor diagonal across rents the house that’s almost the same, for $3,000. So yes, cheaper, unless you need expensive repairs.

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maybe see if your local library has Creative Surgery, if you’re interested? if it’s a library book you don’t have to worry about a commitment.
I’m looking forward to having a yard we can do anything we want with, having a washer/dryer right there, an attached garage!

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Yes, those are all really good things!

Liked by 1 person

I absolutely have the same problem. Write one post, oh look, it’s a week later and there are six books waiting….

Liked by 2 people

this is my life! #BloggerLife!!!

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Hello..welcome back
Hey there is plenty of houses here in Northern WI 😉 Hope your home buying adventure gets better. I am going to looking for Creative Surgery after my current read. I know the feeling the need to post something as well bud. Remember quality is best.

Liked by 1 person

hmmm . . . my work does have some satellite offices in Northern WI . . .
work got real slow last fall, so i got some more hobbies, and now work is super busy, i still got the hobbies, so when to find time to read and blog?

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Sending good vibes your way for the house situation. We were in that position (although not in a pandemic) about five years ago. Hang in there. *good vibes good vibes good vibes*

Liked by 1 person

We’re on opposite ends of the spectrum about Behind Her Eyes.

I felt the twist wasn’t really foreshadowed well and that it was just put there to have a twist. It didn’t feel earned and I found myself frustrated with the novel when I turned the final page. So much so that I had planned to watch the Netflix series but now can’t muster up the gumption.

Liked by 1 person

i think i liked it because it wasn’t foreshadowed, or at least not in an in-your-face way. maybe it was hinted at? tbh, I was reading the book too fast to be able to tell if there were hints. I’m excited for the Netflix version.

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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.
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