the Little Red Reviewer

Author Archive

The Hotel Under the Sand, by Kage Baker

Published in 2009

Where I got it: purchased used

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I love Kage Baker’s books.  She wrote the Company series, a handful of humorous fantasy novels, and a bucket of short stories, all with her signature brand of humor, wit, and pull-you-right-in writing style.  Her career was cut short when she passed away from cancer in 2010.  Her books have become hard to find, so every time I am in a used bookstore I head right to the “B” section and buy everything they have of hers that I don’t already own.

 

The Hotel Under the Sand was published by Tachyon in 2009, and is her only known work for children and middle grade readers. This novella has a similar feel to Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, except it is all around happier and sunnier.

 

Young Emma has survived a shipwreck and washed up onto a beach.  As she is exploring the island, she meets a ghost named Winston. He is the Bell Hop Captain of the famous Grand Wenlocke hotel, and might young Emma have any luggage he can carry for her, or shoes he can shine?  You see,  decades ago, a wealthy man by the last name of Wenlocke started work on a massive resort on these famous sand Dunes. Adding to the allure and magic of the resort, this would be a resort where time stands still. Thanks to a time engine in the basement, guests are encouraged to stay as long as they please! Months, years! When they leave to go back home, only 2 weeks will have passed.  Perhaps the project was doomed from the start, as just before the hotel was due to open a huge storm came and swept it under the sands, taking Winston with it.

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There’s something fun going around twitter right now.  Author Cassandra Khaw asks:

 

I picked up on this through an RT from Apex Magazine, and since I seem to have a thing for long titled stories it took me a few tweets to list my five.

The full list of the short stories I would have someone read to get a feel for who I am is:

“The Book of May” by C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez

“Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu

“The International Studbook of the Giant Panda” by Carlos Hernandez

“muo-ka’s Child” by Indrapramit Das

 

Hmmm…   apparently I am into aliens, sex, and death??

 

How about you? What 5 stories would you give someone to read to get a good feel for who you are?

Instead of a review, I have a thought experiment for you.  Like glitter slime, this was a fun idea to play with, and one I didn’t want to let go of until I’d tortured some people with it.  I have no idea if this is a funny idea, a dumb idea, or a cruel idea. For all I know, it has already been attempted.

 

 

 

A forthcoming book is getting a ton of hype. It is the author’s debut novel, the author’s website doesn’t have a ton of information because this person hasn’t written very much. A short and vague bio, a photo of the author, maybe a picture of their dog taken at the beach, or their cat sleeping in a sun spot. Lots of excitement about their debut novel!

Publicity e-mails start going out, showcasing stunning cover art, intriguing back cover copy, promises of a book that will blow your mind with unexpected twists and turns. The publicity e-mail requests that if you are lucky enough to receive an ARC, that you do not talk about the book until the release day, and that under no circumstances do you spoil any of the plot twists.

Book reviewers patiently wait for ARCs to arrive. The publisher has chosen not put the book on Netgalley, citing lack of control of when reviews are published as their reasoning. High profile book reviewers assume they will be the first to receive the ARCs.

There is more and more hype on social media. A book trailer that looks like the best scifi movie preview you’ve ever seen. Posts that are guessing about the plot, discussing images and pictures that are in the cover art – what could these possibly have to do with the characters and the plot that is mentioned on the back cover copy?

The release date gets closer.

Bloggers and reviewers begin to grumble on twitter that they haven’t rec’d an ARC yet. Hundreds of people mark the book as “want to read” on Goodreads. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon. NPR even mentions the elusiveness of the author, whose debut novel is has the book reviewing community all a flutter due to so few ARCs being available.

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Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter

Published Aug 1 2017

where I got it: purchased new

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Stories about generation ships are nothing new, we tend to see a good crop of them every year. The novel might focus on the disenchanted middle generation that didn’t leave Earth, and won’t see their destination, or perhaps deal with a mutiny, or a malfunction on the ship, or the fact that their destination planet can’t support human life.  What I’m saying is that for the most part, many of us have seen this story before.

 

In Noumenon, Marina J. Lostetter goes in a somewhat different direction, and succeeds through the magic of ultra-fast pacing. It sounds counterintuitive, right? Speed up the pace of a story, to tell the story better? In Noumenon it works, and creates a unique situation for what might have otherwise been a forgettable novel.

 

The first few chapters race by – an interstellar mission is funded, a subdimension drive is invented and tested and engines are built, an AI is designed around a common personal assistant program. In these early chapters you’ll find yourself turning the pages faster than you realize. The prose is easy on the eyes, the characters are easy to get along with, we see everyone at their best, and we’re science fiction fans so of course we’re cheering for an interstellar mission!  And before you know it, we’re in spaaaaaace!

 

A few decades later, the implications of the twist start to hit.  These aren’t just any regular people on a colony ship.  Don’t think I’m spoiling things, because this is the least of the spoilers – the ship is crewed by genetic clones of the people who were chosen to go.  When those clones age and “retire”, new clones will be born.  If “Bob” is a biologist (making that up as an example) then every Bob who is every born on the ship will always grow up to be a biologist.  The colony ship will always have just as many pilots, communications experts, doctors, teachers,  sanitation workers, and scientists as it needs.  Only one “Bob” is ever alive at a time, but there’s usually always a Bob walking around somewhere.  Pretty interesting idea!

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It was just last week that I interviewed Jon McGoran, author of the new YA novel Spliced.  What lovely timing to be hosting a guest review of Spliced today!  My very good friend Kristin Centorcelli, enjoyed the hell out of Spliced. And I’ll bet her name sounds familiar to a lot of you . . .

** Edited to add – Jon McGoran is also over at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog today, talking about the Big Idea behind Sliced.  The interview, this review, the Big Idea at Whatever? Trifecta of Sliced goodness! **

Kristin Centorcelli ran My Bookish Ways, wrote and edited for SF Signal, and now reviews for Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and Criminal Element. She also hoards books and expects that, at some point, the hoard will collapse, and her body will be found under mountains of them. She’s ok with this.

 

Spliced, by Jon McGoran

available on Sept 29th, 2017

Guest reviewed by Kristin Centorcelli

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Full disclosure: I haven’t read a book by Jon McGoran that I didn’t like, and when I heard he was delving into YA territory, I was intrigued, and excited! My excitement was warranted, because he brings all of the environmentally conscious elements of his writing to the table, throws in some very cool science, and gives us a hell of a heroine in the process. Spliced takes place in and around Philadelphia, in what I’m guessing is the fairly near future: there are mail drones (and police drones) buzzing around, people live clustered together in cities, with the outer neighborhoods, dubbed “zurbs,” having crumbled under environmental onslaught. Think buckled sidewalks, swimming pools as hazards, and lots of greenery, except where coal wells have poisoned the land with their output. People do live in the zurbs, and some even thrive, growing their own food and using solar power, but for the most part, it’s considered a wild place, dangerous even.

 

But!

What you want to know about is splicing and chimeras, right? Splicing involves injecting non-human DNA into humans, creating strange/scary/beautiful results, aka chimeras. Our 16-year-old heroine, Jimi, wants nothing to do with splicing, but her best friend (and maybe more?) Del, shows her a new tat he got of an iguana, which comes as a surprise to Jimi, but she puts it aside as harmless rebellion, until Del goes missing after a confrontation with the police, who are generally not very tolerant of chimeras, and Del was hanging out with a group of them at the time. Jimi’s interference gets her in some trouble, and it also gets her sent to stay with her Aunt Trudy out in the zurbs. It sucks, but all Jimi can think about is finding Del. She’s worried that he’s gotten spliced, and her worries aren’t unfounded. In fact, the worst has happened, and Jimi must find a way to help Del before it’s too late.

 

In seeking to help Del, Jimi gets a helping hand by a chimera named Rex, and is introduced to his diverse group of friends. They’ve been squatting in the zurbs, and lead a hand to mouth existence. They already suffer from somewhat of an outsider status, but it’s made worse when legislation called the Genetic Heritage Act is signed into law, effectively declaring chimeras non-humans. It’s a disgusting piece of work, and it’s igniting violence all over the city, targeting the very people that Jimi has begun to call her friends.

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This review is part of the #GuardAgainstTheDark blog tour!  To learn more (and enter a give away!), click here.

 

Cover art by Matt Stawicki http://www.mattstawicki.com

To Guard Against the Dark (Reunification #3) by Julie Czerneda

publishes Oct 10th 2017

where I got it: received ARC from the publisher (Thanks DAW books!)

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Thesaurus.com has been no help whatsover. What’s that word for when a long series that you are emotionally invested in has come to a close, and while you’re sad it has ended, you’re happy because you can just pull the books off the shelf and visit the characters anytime you want?  I feel certain German, or perhaps Norwegian has a word for this.

 

To Guard Against the Dark has been 20 years in the making.  It was 1997 when Julie Czerneda published A Thousand Words for Stranger, the book that started it all.  The year I graduated high school was the year her novel A Thousand Words for Stranger came out, the year the world met a species that was in danger of breeding itself out of existence. Their lives a secret, their homeworld unknown, the Clan hid in plain sight, amassing fortunes and enemies.  Three trilogies and twenty years later, here we are.

 

Does that mean You need to read all eight books that came before this one to enjoy To Guard Against the Dark?  Certainly not. This is, however, book three in this particular trilogy, so you will want to read the two preceding books. You’ll be in good company, as I came to this series myself by starting at This Gulf of Time and Stars, which is the 1st book in this trilogy.  If right here, right now, is the first you have ever heard of this series, you are going to feel a little lost reading this review. It won’t help you newbies very much that there are a ton of intertwining plotlines in this climactic last novel and I am trying my hardest to avoid major spoilers.  But minor spoilers? Sorry, unavoidable. Continue at your own risk.

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Cover art by Matthew Stawicki www.mattstawicki.com

Why, hello fellow bloggers and book reviewers!   Please raise your hand if you’ve ever participated in a blog tour.  Keep your hand up if you’ve received an e-mail from me about a blog tour I’m putting together (last week, maybe?), or a scifi-month project, or some other “I came up with this great idea at 4am!” project I   have in mind that I’m asking/begging you to be a part of.  A couple of hands still in the air?  Some of you have even planned your own projects, inherited them, or played around with blogging community projects until you found the one that works best for you.

 

If you raised your hand, thought about raising your hand, or want to raise your hand sometime in the future, this amazing #allthefeels guest post from Julie Czerneda is for you.

#ImNotCryingYouAre

 

Also?  This is just the beginning!  Follow #GuardAgainstTheDark on twitter for all the blog tour goodness, while I sit back and relax. 😉

 

photo credit: Roger Czerneda www.photography.czerneda.com

Thanks For That!

This post is going up during my third official Tour d’Internet, aka that thing authors now do before a book comes out called a “Blog Tour.”

It’s work. A post, be it a short essay like this or an interview, takes time to write (and edit, and let sit for a day or more to be sure it’s good enough, and possibly be shared with a trusted few first to be SURE it’s good enough…etc.). It’s work—and time—for the blogger hosting it as well. There’s formatting, scheduling, emails to anxious authors (is it good enough?), not to mention what comes afterwards. Oh yes. It’s not just about the post. As Michelle Sagara informed me, with some urgency, shortly after my first few blog posts went up, “It’s all about the comments, you know. You need to be there and answer them.”

I did?

I did. And do. However, the presence of comments? Is because the bloggers take more of their time to invite people to come and see the post. They moderate. (I envision the horrors kept from the public commentary section.) Since this is a tour, they even share the blog posts of OTHER BLOGGERS.

Thanks for that, by the way.

It’s the part that makes me feel most at home. That sharing. That joy to be part of a wider event. It reminds me of conventions and fandom. It reminds me of the great community that exists in science fiction, fantasy, and I’m sure horror, though those people are Very Scary. (Not really, some of my dearest friends write horror and don’t at all expect me to read it. Thanks for that too.)

I hadn’t thought, during what becomes a wild and hilarious stint of odd, rarely sequential tasks to promote my new book—most often, by pure chance, at the worst time to be doing anything but writing the NEXT one, especially digressing on the internet—to find blog tours such a joy-filled, inspiring process. Yet it is, because of you. Those who read these things. Who comment. Yes, hopefully you’ll win something, but you’re reading this because you’re willing to give me some of your precious time and attention.

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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.