the Little Red Reviewer

Author Archive

If you’ve known me for a while, you know I’m involved with Apex Magazine. I mostly do two things – Author Interviews, and as many shenanigans as the Editors will let me get involved with. Most recent super fun shenanigan was hosting Snap Judgment, a cross between The X Factor, The Gong Show, and speed dating. Check it out on YouTube!

Oh wait, maybe you haven’t known me for a while? Or you have, and we just haven’t talked about Apex Magazine?

Apex Magazine has is known for short fiction that is weird, surreal, and dark – sometimes this is straight up fantasy, sometimes it’s straight up horror, usually it’s somewhere in between. Oftentimes when I get to the end of an Apex story I’m either crying, exclaiming “holy shit!” or reading the story from the beginning to catch all the hints I missed and also just because I want to enjoy the story again. And no joke, the editor in chief, Jason Sizemore, has a titanium jaw.

 

I was going to give a short list of my favorite Apex Stories for you to sample, but this twitter hashtag of   #BackApexMag for reader favorites is better. and now I’m gonna spend all morning in that thread talking to other readers about how much I also loved their favorites!

Oh, audio more your thing?  We got your podcasts right here! Wanna just read the award winners? Here you go!

There are so many Apex stories that I can’t stop thinking about. Stories about siblings who love each other but also are slowly killing each other, stories about people who are looking for a human connection in a cold world, far future stories that play with language and what’s real and how to move forward, southern gothic horror stories, stories about freedom and family and escape and looking others and yourself in the eye.

And don’t even get me started on the non-fiction essays that are must-reads! 

 

Earlier this year in a blog post, I said something about how I love science fiction because it’s about how science works. But that I loved reading certain science fiction books because they were about how people work.

Apex stories are about how people work. I think that’s why they give me #allthefeels all the time.

Apex Magazine was completely funded through Kickstarter for our 2021 issues. And we’re Kickstarting all of 2022 too. What does the money go to? Paying authors, artists, paying for non-fiction essays, paying for hosting the podcast and website, and tossing a coin to the podcast producer, narrators, and staff.

Click here to Visit the Kickstarter Page

Thanks to the first 150 backers or so, the base funding is already secured – we’ll be doing at least 3 issues next year.

But I’d really love to do 6.

I’d really love to see the bonus Asian and Pacific Islanders Authors and Artists issue.

I want to keep reading fiction that makes me shout and cry, I want more authors to get discovered out the slush pile, I want to see more gorgeous artwork, I want the Apex family to grow. I want to keep emailing Jason with messages like “holy shit, that story!”, and get to interview more authors for the magazine, because I’m selfish.

What kind of backer rewards and extra stuff can you get through the kickstarter? Subscriptions, back issues, anthologies, MYSTERY BOXES (I want one of those!), mugs, stickers, bookmarks, Print magazine editions, holy crap there is a ton of cool stuff here!

You got questions about the kickstarter, the magazine, or questions for the editors? Throw ’em in the comments below, and I’ll nag/bribe* Jason and Lesley and the rest of the editorial staff to come on over and answer your question.

And holy shit, did you see this list of all the authors Apex Magazine has ever published? This is basically a list of all my favorite SFF authors who have published in the last 10 years, btw.

And here’s some recent Cover art, because it’s just damn perty.

This Sunday at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific, LIVE on YouTube, I’ll be hosting SNAP JUDGEMENT!

Organized by Apex Magazine, SNAP JUDGEMENT is a rapid fire critique show.  Think The X Factor, but for slush short stories.  As I read short story excerpts, the judges decide if they’d keep reading, or stop and not accept the story. Followed by a short critique period, of why they’d want to read more, or not.  I’ll have seen the excerpts before, but the judges won’t!   Here’s a link to the Apex Magazine website with more info!

it’s live television*   who knows what might happen!

*it’ll  be live streamed on YouTube. is that TV now?

Been reading lately too! 

Finished all three Machineries of Empire books by Yoon Ha Lee, and the series was even better this time. Since I wasn’t so focused on the main story, I was able to pay attention to the little details. and oh, so many little details! This trilogy is sharp, smart, and so many plans with plans. The subtlety! the long game!  Not to mention that Lee’s writing is unbelievably good  and I love ALL the characters so much! Except Kujen, I still think he’s an absolute bag of dicks. The first time I read this trilogy, I am pretty sure I didn’t pick up on anything that was actually happening in the last book.  sometimes, eh, sometimes I’m just not that bright. and I am always, always distracted by fashionable men. 

so yeah, if you haven’t read the Machineries of Empire trilogy, the books are Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem, and Revenant Gun, I highly, highly recommend them.  some pretty rough scenes at the end of Revenant Gun, just saying. 

On a lark, I picked up Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes 1.  This book is transcripts of the first season of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, before authors Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor knew Night Vale was going to become a thing.  Night Vale is a small town in the desert where all conspiracy theories are true, and all the weird shit that happens is completely normal. this is 100% my brand of absurd. 

I know someone has already done so, and is famous for doing so, but I want to read these episodes out loud. The wonderful thing about prose that was designed from day one to be read out loud is the sentences are short. Easy to read without running out of breath. Not too much to stumble over. This book is so fun, that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m avoiding reading it, because I don’t want to run out of episodes. I really enjoy reading these scripts! and there is illustrations! and notes from the authors! it’s so fun!

I think next I’m going to reread either The Narrator by Michael Cisco, Finch by Jeff Vandermeer, or China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh. I’m in a reread mood, what can I say?

 

 

And speaking of absurd, hubs and I are watching Rick and Morty. it’s delightfully absurd and offensive. If you’ve never seen Rick and Morty, imagine if South Park was actually funny, and then make the main character a jaded mad scientist and the other main character his nervous grandson, and you’re sorta getting close. My favorite part of the show is when something happens and my husband laughs.  If you think you might have a sense of humor similar to mine, give Rick and Morty a chance.  totally OK to skip the first couple episodes of season 1. 

We’re only in season 2, so don’t be putting any spoilers in the comments! 

 

in other news, the hostas are nearly done blooming, the viburnum (I think that’s what it is at least) is trying to bloom but isn’t getting enough sunlight, the purple coneflowers are still beautiful, and the yard has an amazing variety of mushrooms because nature is the coolest.  I hacked down that stupid thorn bush in the backyard.  the back screen door needs to have a new screen put it, so after watching a dozen youtube videos I feel confident we can fix it ourselves!

what have you been reading lately? 

seen any cool movies or cool tv shows lately? 

does Snap Judgement sound neat?

What’s fantastic about living in a small town that still has a traditional downtown? Free parking, AND you can go out to dinner and then walk next door to the gigantic bookstore! That’s exactly what we did the other night! Dinner was just ok, but the bookstore was fantastic. I brought home these goodies:

Hmm…  you know, I’m pretty sure I might already have a copy of Day of the Triffids?  but this edition looked so pretty I couldn’t say no.  When Dark Matter by Blake Crouch came out, I remember hearing all sorts of good things about it. And the whole Welcome to Night Vale thing,  that was such a big thing! sampling the first 5 pages of this book, I totally get why.   

I need to write a review of Jillian vs Parasite Planet.  I was telling my little niece about this book, I told her it’s about a girl who does “bring your child to work day”, and my niece says she’s  been to “bring your child to work day” with her mom, and it’s boring.  I can not wait to send her a copy of Jillian vs Parasite Planet and a bag of gummie worms!

what’s been stopping me from writing that review?  among other things, that I’m again obsessed with Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy. Everytime I reread this books, I fall in love with the characters more.  I’m nearly done with book #2, Raven Stratagem, which means I’m going to have to take the plunge and pick up Revenant Gun pretty soon.  Revenant Gun is a hard book for me to read. not hard, like the words are difficult, hard like lots of emotions and we all know that I sometimes fall too deep into stuff like that.  But anyway, if you’ve not yet had the pleasure of reading Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, I can’t recommend these books enough!  Also, Lee wrote bunches of short stories in this world if you want to get your feet wet (imho, the short stories are better if you’ve already read the three novels, but you do you). I really need to read Lee’s Phoenix Extravagant, just haven’t gotten there yet. 

 

oh, you like short stories?  Head over to Apex Magazine, where my review of The Best of World SF by Lavie Tidhar was recently posted.  Sorry in advance, that anthology is going to destroy your TBR. 

I’m loving every day of summer in the country so far.  the beautiful susurrus of wind through the trees, the frogs singing to each other, surprise day lilies blooming everywhere, so many cool (and very poisonous) mushrooms all over our backyard, and who knew hostas had such pretty flowers?  We have hummingbirds!  And super nice neighbors! Being a home owner, I’ve never been so tired in my whole life, but damn do I love living here.   

A story with no romance and friendships stronger than death is hella awesome.

A story with lots of sensuality and healthy relationships, also hella awesome.

I really can’t choose because I get so much satisfaction out of both.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you a bunch of hella awesome things about Benjanun’s Sriduangkaew’s Machine Mandate series:

  • The series is all novellas and short stories
  • it’s a series that all takes place in the same universe, but you can read them in any order.
  • Super kick ass ladies who don’t take shit from anyone
  • Queer representation
  • Sriduangkaew’s prose is fucking gorgeous, and her action scenes are cinematic
  • How the AI’s interact with humanity (and choose not to) is fascinating
  • hard scifi + healthy adult relationships, what?
  • Oh, and the sex is plasma hot

yes, yes, I know I’m behind, there is a ton of stories in this series that I haven’t read yet.

The stories all take place in the same far future world – humanity created AI’s and colonized vast sections of the galaxy. After many generations, the AI’s realized they could probably live a better life without humans, so they ditched us and created their own AI-run communities. Humans gotta human, so there’s plenty of warfare and private armies and political machinations and amazing spaceships and space stations and FTL travel, and plenty of alien creatures for us to do inhumane things to. It’s a big galaxy out there, surely there is plenty of place for people and AI’s to live and not get all up in each other’s business.

Of course everyone is all up in each other’s business. Of course the humans not-so-secretly want to get rid of all ,the AI’s and of course the AI’s are lying when they say “we just want to be left alone, we mean humans no harm”. Cue the drama, trickery, flirting, and revenge, cyborgs, and cinematic action!

The Alabaster Admiral, Admiral Anoushka, shows up in a handful of Machine Mandate stories. Sometimes characters who are up to no good will mention the Alabaster Admiral because they are desperately trying to stay off her radar, and in other stories the Admiral is one of the main characters.

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I was gonna write one of those really indepth reviews, where I give you all the background on Mallory’s world and “how we got here”. I even had it half written. But then I realized I wasn’t saying the most important thing first, and who the heck wants to read eight paragraphs to finally get to the most important thing, which is:

OMG Firebreak is SO SO SO GOOD. It’s got a TON of stuff going on, and I cried all the time while I was reading the end, a hustle based economy sucks, and when the government makes a few stupid decisions, the consequences last, um, forever. <deep breath> The first half of Firebreak was everything I wanted Ready Player One to be, smashed up with everything I wanted An Absolutely Remarkable Thing to be, and then the story went gloriously off the rails and I when I heard a name that rang a bell I realized I also recognized that sword/gun combo, and I ran and grabbed some other books off my bookshelf because I HAD to read those too all of a sudden. </and breathe>

Imagine if a superhero didn’t know who they were. Or maybe they did know, but they couldn’t escape their employers. Because they aren’t superheroes, they are property. They even have Merch!

Imagine if property decided to steal itself.

Firebreak is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Nicole Kornher-Stace is the best author you haven’t read yet. I love her books so much that I force my husband to read them. He described one of her earlier novels as the best novel he’s read in ten years, maybe ever. That’s it. That’s the review.

Oh, you want some more?

New Liberty City has their own Superheroes! Designed by Stellaxis, the Operatives keep the city safe from the invading corporation, Greenleaf. You can buy merch of the Operatives! They even have their own NPCs in the popular online MMO BestLife! Does your city have its own superheroes? Yeah, didn’t think so!

But the Supersoldier Operatives who are seen as superheroes are not citizens. According to Stellaxis, they aren’t even real people. They don’t even have names, only numbers, like 22, or 05. They were designed and built by Stellaxis, because it is important to Stellaxis to keep their city safe. When your apartment collapses around you, killing everyone you care about, when you are slowing dying of dehydration, Stellaxis will always be there.

Mallory makes part of a living livestreaming BestLife. When internet access is free, and there’s electricity for around 16 hours a day, grinding your way to the top of the charts is a cheap way to make some money, especially if you can score a sponsor who is willing to pay you in cash and water tickets. Oh, didn’t I mention? Stellaxis runs the city, charges for water, and you’ll be in even more debt up to your eyeballs if you end up in a rehydration clinic. People balance multiple jobs and gigs just to buy enough water to not die.


When Mal and Jessa score that unicorn sponsor, they agree to just ignore all the conspiracy theory bullshit the woman is spewing. But when her building completely disappears a few days later? When Mal meets a Supersoldier Operative in real life, streams her encounter, and goes viral? Maybe that disappearing sponsor was on to something after all. Mal doesn’t like attention. She never wanted to go viral.

The Operatives. What happens when you are a superhero and a slave, at the same time? What if you want a different life for yourself? Being a superhero only gets you killed some of the time. And if you are one of the lucky Operatives who didn’t die? It means you watched all your friends die.

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hello! I know, it’s been a while. The days, they are just flying by. I’ve been up to book-ish stuff, author interview stuff, other entertainment stuff, and holy wow house stuff.

let’s do bookish stuff first!

some cool author interviews – over at Nerds of a Feather I interviewed Julie Novakova, Lucas K. Law, and Susan Forest, the editors of the upcoming fiction and non-fiction anthology Life Beyond Us. Over at Apex Magazine I interviewed A.K. Hudson and Jen Donohue.

Happy book birthday to The Unraveling by Benjamin Rosenbaum. thought experiments, social credit systems, the arbitrariness of gender, teens having cute crushes on each other, and how one question can change the world. I reviewed The Unraveling a few weeks ago thanks to an ARC from Erewhon Books. Yes, yes, i know authors are not supposed to comment on reviews, but Mr. Rosenbaum has been friendly, polite, and very gracious. I really need to ask Mr. Rosenbaum for an interview . . .

My review of Nicole Kohnher-Stace’s Firebreak is going to be 100% OMGTHISISAWESOME. I need to make my thoughts coherent, and I’m also rereading Archivist Wasp (finished it last night! eeeee!) and Latchkey (started it this morning), because reasons. #NotaSpoiler, if you are reading/planning to read Firebreak, you’ll want to order yourself a copy of Archivist Wasp #BecauseReasons. Holy shit Firebreak was good, just, damn.

A couple of weeks ago I read Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. We’d just moved in, I was exhausted and achy, overwhelmed by unpacking, and i needed an easy read. i opened a few book boxes, and Wee Free Men was sitting on the top of one. Bam. done. nice and easy.

I have a bunch of novellas I need to finish.

speaking of boxed of books, we still have around 20 to unpack. and as I’m unpacking books, I’m asking myself “why did I even pack this book? I don’t need this book, I’m never to read / finish / reread this book”. Into the donate box they are going. None of these are bad books, I just don’t need them anymore. They shouldn’t collect dust in my house when they could be happier in someone else’s house. I’m setting them free.

and speaking of my house. . . holy shit houses are a lot of work. I’ve never been this exhausted and I love it!

I love having a washing machine. It is the most amazing feeling to be able to do a load of laundry whenever I want. Having more than one bathroom is nice too.

when the weather is nice, i drink my morning coffee while standing in the backyard. Apologies to all the grackles I keep startling.

When we moved in, the trees hadn’t leafed out yet, and we had no idea what plants were growing here. Everything is growing now, and we have beautiful oak trees, a few hickory trees, lots of ivy and vinca, the happiest hostas on earth, spirea, hydrangea, what I think is a knock-out rose, what I’m hoping are echinacea, lots of barberry shrubs, and enough invasive virginia creeper to kill anything. Wildlife, we’ve got tons of happy plump robins, grackles, blue jays, woodpeckers, sparrows, and we’ve heard grouse and I saw a beautiful pine warbler a few times.. Most mornings and evenings I see cute bunnies in the backyard eating the clover.

other things I’m learning:

where every single hardware store within 20 miles is.

that i’m going to spend the rest of my life pulling weeds.

what exactly poison ivy looks like. Anyone got any tips on killing it? black plastic on top, same as you’d kill grass?

softened water is the best thing since sliced bread and it’s really easy to put salt in the water softener and salt is more affordable than i thought.

someone who used to live in this house really, really liked using fleur de lis in their decorating. Like, they are everywhere.

those little solar powered outdoor lights that you spike into the dirt, those things are also the best thing since sliced bread.

After shopping at every home goods store within 40 miles and not finding any patio furniture I liked, I learned that Amazon has an excellent selection of patio furniture and lets me skip the goat rodeo of getting the stupid things in a shopping cart, getting them into my car, and then getting them out of my car when i get home. The convenience of someone delivering a box to my driveway? worth it, when the thing you are buying is large and weighs 50 pounds.

that I’m officially middle aged because a new swiffer mop makes me really happy. Also? Method wood floor cleaner smells really nice.

You ever play The Sims, and you build your Sim’s house too big, and it takes your Sim hours to walk from their bedroom to the kitchen? #CanRelate.

Anyone have HBO? The TV show The Other Two is a good time. it’s only 8 or 10 episodes, Molly Shannon is her awesome self. it’s a cringe comedy. I enjoyed it, you might too.

anyway, what have you been up to? read any good books lately? seen anything fun on TV? anyone watching that new Loki TV show?

As we slowly unpack books (finally bought some bookcases! And ordered a few more!), I’m reading random books. . . and also ordering a ton of new books.

Out of the manga box, I finished omnibus 2 of XXXHolic, and I’m off to find omnibus 3. This story is so adorable! I’d forgotten how much I adore the main character, Watanuki. He has a huge crush on Himawari, so whenever she’s around he acts like a complete dork, and it’s the cutest. But you can tell, right under the surface, that Watanuki’s got some major trauma that he’s never dealt with. He’s an orphan. He lives with a couple who quite literally took him in, and allow him to sleep in an extra room in their house. He’s employed by Yuko, the Space Witch. He loves cooking. I wonder if cooking is his coping mechanism? Watanuki can see ghosts and spirits, and they are drawn to him. A classmate of his, Domeki, sort of repels spirits. So Watanuki is safe when he’s around Domeki.  What happened to Watanuki’s family?

Domeki has realized he can’t enter Yuko’s home. There is so much unsaid in this story, and I’ve been told that once you get to the big reveals at the end, that everything that was revealed, it was there for you to see for yourself from the beginning, if you know what to look for. Another great thing about manga is that it’s usually a fast read, cuz it’s all pictures!

Speaking of fast reads with great pictures, I’m also reading a brand new manga series (which means uggh, gotta wait months for the next volume!!), called Apothecary Diaries by Natsu Hyuuga. The manga is based on a light novel series. A historical fantasy, the author has mashed together imperial China, ancient Japan, and possibly some Joseon fashion for a slice of life romp with buckets of nuance and so much glorious side eye! Maomao is a servant in the inner court of the Imperial Castle, she’s basically a maid to high ranking concubines. A trained apothecary, Maomao knows maybe a little too much about poisons? And the more Jinshi tries to flirt with her (he’s not interested in her in that way, he just wants her to be interested in him!), the more she gives him the side eye and proves she’s much smarter than she looks. The artwork is beautiful, I love seeing all the dresses and hair ornaments, and then there is all the inner court backstabbing and people trying to subtly kill other people to gain political power! Is the next volume out yet? And have the light novels been translated to English yet? No? That sucks.

While I’m waiting for the 3rd volume of Apothecary Diaries, I’ve got some excellent new stuff to keep me out of trouble:

Now Will Machines Hollow the Beast by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, takes place in the same world as Machine’s Last Testament, which I really enjoyed last year. Not 100% sure what this book is about, but everything Sriduangkaew writes is fantastic, so I’m pretty confident I’m going to enjoy this. I have an eARC of the third book in this series, Shall Machines Divide the Earth, but I’ll likely just buy the paperback of that too, so I can have all three of them on my shelf. Short novels, beautiful prose, sexy people? Godlike AI’s who don’t have much use for humans but are occasionally amused by us? YES PLEASE.

And speaking of must-buy authors, check out this baby! I got Firebreak!! Another book i’m not 100% sure what it’s about, but 200% sure I’m going to love it, because hell yeah Nicole Kohnher-Stace!!! Yeah, so if I buy your book in hardback without even looking at the price, that means I really like what you write.

Now I just gotta find the time to read, do housework, and garden. Sleep? Who needs sleep! And hmmm . . . I could take some vacation time from work . . .

The Unraveling by Benjamin Rosenbaum comes out on June 8th from Erewhon Books. I received an ARC from the publisher.

You know how some books give you #allthefeels?

 

The Unraveling gave me #allthethoughts in the best possible way.

 

At its heart, this novel is a coming of age/stumble into becoming an adult story. But everywhere else, it’s a giant beautiful thought experiment. Lots of science fiction and fantasy are thought experiments, and that’s what makes them so fun! 

 

Fair warning though, getting into The Unraveling might feel like more work than fun.  During the first few chapters I was on the strugglebus – who are all these people? What do all these terms mean? What the heck does doublebodied mean?  For about 80 pages I was just as lost as I was intrigued (not unlike an Iain M. Banks Culture book, now that I think about it). 

 

With zero introduction or infodumping, the narrative starts when the action starts, with a bustling family of many, many parents getting their only child, Fift, ready for the most important event of zir life. What made more sense much later was how nervous some of Fift’s parents were.  #NotASpoiler – Fift does just fine.  Well, at least at first. 

 

In my opinion, the most important things about The Unraveling, the things that kept me reading and kept me thinking, had nothing to do with the plot. This  book had so many ideas and social concepts that I have never seen  before, so many “why not?”’s that I’d not thought of before, so many “what if’s”, so much that was new to me!   Could be none of what’s in this book is new, but I doubt it.

 

What were all those why nots, and what ifs?  Let me tell you all about them! 

 

The BIG THING in The Unraveling is how gender is handled. The two genders are Staid (pronouns: ze, zir, zem) and Vail (pronouns: ve, vir, vem).  For someone who has spent the literal last 40 years seeing she/he in stories, it took me a long time to get used to the pronouns. Ok, but here’s the cool thing – gender in this book has absolutely nothing to do with your plumbing, because why not?  I did not expect it to, but this worked really well for me!

 

Staids are expected to be “the still center” with lives focused around intellectual studies, and Vails are pushed towards physical and emotive pursuits (I am grossly simplifying). Marriages are of  typically of many adults of mixed genders, with the one major rule being that Staids do not share The Long Conversation with Vails, and Vails do not share their mat fights or other aggressively physical activities with Staids. The gender expectations are pretty strict, which was funny and fascinating.

 

Thanks to way-in-the-future-science, people can have whatever biology, plumbing, and body modifications they want whenever they want, customized however they want, allowing anyone to look any way they please, and to be a mother or a father with anyone they want.  (and the science part doesn’t really matter, because this isn’t a story about how the science works. It’s a story about how people work) I thought that was all pretty damn cool, even though it did take me a good 200 pages for my brain to stop asking “yeah, but is this character a boy or a girl?”, because not only didn’t it matter if someone was a boy or a girl, this world doesn’t even have a concept of that. It’s perfectly fine to ask someone if they are a Staid or a Vail, and you’d typically be able to tell by their social behavior, but it would never occur to someone in this world to ask if someone was a boy or a girl, they don’t have the vocabulary for that and they don’t have a concept of that.

 

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Looking for some satisfying fast reads? I gotcha!

At Apex Magazine I recently interviewed A.K. Hudson about her twisty story The Life and Death of Mia Fremont: Interview with a Killer. The interview gets fairly spoilery, so I suggest reading the story first. and then you tell me:

Who killed Mia Fremont?

LOL, and then just TRY not to walk around all day making Twin Peaks references!

Over at Nerds of a Feather, I recently interviewed Suyi Davies Okungbowa about his new novel Son of the Storm, and I also recently interviewed Sue Burke about her forthcoming novel Immunity Index.

Unpacking is going very slowly. I’m back to work full time, every day we remember something we need at the hardware store, we’re moving things into better spots in the kitchen, and who wants to unpack when I can walk around our beautiful backyard, getting to meet all the trees? (except the nightmare tree)

I did end up opening a few random boxes looking for some nice bedtime reading, and found my ancient copy of the novelization of the movie Alien. Maybe not the best bedtime reading because it is scary, but I’ve read this book probably 6 times, and seen the moving probably 30 times, so nothing in this book is going to surprise me!

My husband started unpacking our manga and graphic novels, and I came across a copy of XXXHolic by CLAMP, and I remembered that I really enjoy that series and that I never finished it. the first omnibus I picked up was #2, and that’s ok because I’m pretty familiar with how the story starts, so I feel comfortable starting with #2. I better find the next half dozen omnibuses! omnibusi? omnibusae?

Anyway, this is a great series with beautiful artwork and fun quirky characters. Some nice throwback vibes too, as it has cross over moments to Cardcaptor Sakura!

Thanks to playing everyone’s favorite twitter game “anyone know what this tree is?” I’ve learned that I have a few dogwood trees on the west side of the house, and an overgrown lilac bush-tree-thing out back.  And then there is this tree that will live rent free in my  nightmares for ever.  At the end of each branch are large growths that are the size of large slugs or caterpillars, only 50 times larger.  I don’t know if these things are chrysalises? or a disease?  and leaves are trying to grow out of some of these things?

Last time I tried to upload the picture to wordpress, wordpress crashed and ran away. So i’ll just link you to a photo, and brave tree doctors can click and try to diagnose what’s happening with this poor tree.

gross tree

should I cut this thing down? Or will that just piss off the malevolent spirits that have taken up residence inside it?

 

Anyways, what are y’all up to? 

after so, so many years of saving, financial planning, saving some more, and then getting outbid left and right, we have moved into our dream home!

We ended up with 50-ish boxes of books, including fiction, history, graphic novels, manga, and cookbooks. There is a giant stack of books boxes in the living room, and another slightly less scary stack upstairs. I thought unpacking the kitchen was intimidating. . . . I don’t even know where to start with the books boxes.

I was thinking that my upcoming TBR should be “I’ll read at least one book that is in this random box that I’m opening!” but knowing my luck, I’d land on one of my husband history books boxes, and end up reading about British looms in the 1880s. Which, could be interesting?

Our backyard looks like a freaking fairy wonderland.

but I HAVE been reading this last week! a few pages here and there while we were packing the last boxes, and trying to stay awake after unloading them all:

The Best of World SF by Lavie Tidhar – stay tuned for my review to appear in Apex Magazine!

The Unraveling by Benjamin Rosenbaum – boy do I have feelings on this book! This is one of the most unique and original science fiction books I’ve ever read, and also one of the hardest to get into. In this far future, you really can be in three places at once! I’m happy I kept reading, because I really did end up getting very invested in the main character, even if half the time I wasn’t quite sure who was talking.

And I’ve got an ARC of Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Jillian vs Parasite Planet to read. I really need to order a copy of Firebreak, as if Kornher-Stace wrote it, I want to read it!

Moving is exhausting, mentally and physically. and somehow, living out in the country, our internet speed is literally twice as fast as when we lived in an urban city center? So I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix these last few days, when I wasn’t tired enough to sleep but too tired to move. Been binge watching Shadow and Bone, yes, that Shadow and Bone. And I’m enjoying it! I watched three episodes in a row yesterday! Some quick thoughts:

  • I only turned the show on because of the hype, and an early scene screamed Fullmetal Alchemist, so I kept watching. Some grisha (folks with magical abilities) are practicing, and we see someone snap her fingers to create fire. It was so Roy Mustang I couldn’t even, so OF COURSE I had to keep watching!
  • I love LOVE the costumes! those long robes? omg the embroidery! the hairstyles!
  • I was worried that this was going to be Game of Thrones sexed up, and there would be boobs everywhere. Boobs would have their own plot devices, a la Game of Thrones, boobs, boobs, everywhere! Look, I’m not against boobs on tv, but I like a good plot that’s got more going on than LOOK, BOOBS! this show has a smidge of nudity, and it’s done right.
  • Who is the chick who is chained up in the boat? I’m sure I should care about her, but I have no idea who she is.
  • Inej is THE BEST. Please don’t let Inej be some kind of ultra-villain, please!
  • Ahhh Ben Barnes, you are so hot. But please don’t try to act. Just stand there, look hot all dressed in black, and don’t do or say anything. Srsly, Ben Barnes has exactly two looks in this show – staring intently at Alina with his mouth closed, and staring intently at Alina with his mouth slightly open. That is literally all he does.
  • Not sure I’ll be reading the Shadow and Bone books, the whole thing does seem a little too YA for me, but I am enjoying the hell out of the TV show.

Kinda wish I’d marked the box that has my Witcher paperbacks in it, those sound like a good read right now.

I do have a book review I’m working on, for Rosenbaum’s The Unraveling (because omg, so. many. thoughts!), but I fear for the next little while this blog is going to consist of new home adventures, tree and flower identifying, and book chat and mini reviews, rather than long form articles.

I am only 10 minutes from a giant used bookstore and the public library. . . .


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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.