the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for August 2021

Howdy!

Happy August!

Up here in the Great Lakes we’ve had brutal thunderstorms, tornado touch, higher than normal humidity, and wildfire smoke in the air. These aren’t the dog days of summer, these are the Cerberus days of summer, and I hope they are over soon. I’m ready for cooler days, lower humidity, and the crinkle of leaves. This will be our first autumn in our house, I want to know what color all these leaves turn!

As you can see, I’ve not been blogging much lately (or at all), but I have been reading! With some other stressful things and time commitments going on, enjoying books without the weight of “now I have to write a review” has been exactly what I needed this summer. (also don’t get me started on how frustrating I still find WordPress block editor. Writing a blog post is no longer fun. thanks WordPress. ) I got a lot going on right now, and I had to let go of some things, so I could say ‘yes’ to other things. One of the obligations I let go of was feeling obligated to write a long review of every book I read.

This post has some very very short reviews of some enjoyable books I’ve recently read, or am currently reading.

But first, something pretty! My friend has been hand painting bookmarks. This photo doesn’t do this bookmark justice! The yellow is pure sunshine and until now I didn’t know how beautiful coral could be!

In need of some comfort reads lately I grabbed one of my favorites, China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh, written in 1992. Hard to verbalize how much I love this book. It’s just about this guy Rafael, who is trying to figure out his life. He’s trying to pass for straight, he’s trying to pass for Chinese. This is a quiet book. No action, no intense cliffhangers, no one is out to change the world. Just ten years or so of Rafael’s life (making it feel like a fix-up novel), some humorous misunderstanings blended with truly tragic moments. And it is a damn pleasure to read. McHugh’s prose is perfection. McHugh wrote a number of short stories, this was her debut novel and it won the Locus award for best first novel, the James Tiptree Jr Award, a Lambda Literary Award, and was nominated for the Hugo and the Nebula. So it isn’t just me who thinks this is a great book!

I think I’ve unpacked all my Banks novels? I went on a Banks binge a few years ago, and I remembered Use of Weapons being a stand out favorite. All I remembered was that there was something about [spoiler], but I couldn’t remember the details. Use of Weapons was even more engaging this time around. The main character, Zakalwe, is a war strategist for hire, so much of the book is designed around his memories of different wars he was involved in. In this interstellar future, what could one small war on one continent on a planet no one has ever heard of matter? We never find out if anything he does matters or not, which is sort of the point. And that thing that happens at the end, that I fuzzily remembered? Absolutely 100% knocked me flat. If you’ve never read a Culture book, Use of Weapons is a great place to start.

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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.