the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘for the love of reading’ Category

Some books are really easy to write a review for.

Others, not so much.

Some books fight me every step of the way when I’m trying to write the review. it’s like they do not want to be reviewed.  Maybe they are shy, and don’t want to be talked about? Maybe they don’t like to be the center of attention? Maybe I should stop personifying a stack of paper and ink.

When the book fights me, sometimes I’ll fight back with instrumental music. Maybe classical stuff, maybe modern stuff or a movie soundtrack. I’ve been on an Escala kick lately. This is music I can get lost in, a musical current that pulls me along to who knows where.  I don’t know where I’ll end up. It’s the same as “getting lost in” a book.

Those books that fight me when I’m trying to review them? It’s not the book that’s fighting, it’s me. If the book had an emotional effect on me, I want my review to reflect that journey, that being pulled along by the current, not knowing where I’ll end up. If the book broke my heart, I want the act of writing the review to rebreak it.  If the book filled me with joy, I want the act of writing the review to add even more joy to my life. If the book took me somewhere new, I want the review to do the same. I want my reviews to be a mirror of what I experienced while reading the book.

And I sure as hell do not wake up every day with that kind of writing chops.  Being able to create that mirror is a psychological state of mind for me.  Sometimes I’m in a rush, or I’m tired, or I feel obligated to get the damn review up. Sometimes the book didn’t put up a fight. But because sometimes I can’t do anything less than write a review that’s worthy of the book, I’m willing to wait for that state of mind, or take steps to trigger it.

If the book fights me, that’s a good sign. It means I had something to fucking say that I wanted said in just the right way.

That’s why this sometimes takes so damn long.

 

I’ve done my favorite books of the year.

I’ve announced Vintage SciFi Month.  See the bottom of this post for an important message*. (I’ve even started reading ahead of time for Vintage Month! never done that before!)

not much else to do but publish some boring statistics of my blogging year.

I reviewed 91 books. about 10 of those reviews were over at SFSignal.

I conducted around 40 interviews, here, at Apex Magazine, and also at SFSignal.

I got to attend some really fun conventions: ConFusion, AnimeMidwest, Context, and Grand Rapids ComicCon.

I learned how to use Netgalley. I am *not* an early adopter, so this was a huge deal for me. Files magically showing up on the kindle is sorcery, i tell you!

Including book (and a few movie, manga and tv show) reviews and a few commentary columns about geeky stuff, I wrote approximately 104,000 words.  That’s slightly more words than Ender’s Game, and slightly fewer words than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. nice.

The happiest of Happy New Years to everyone, and a huge thank you for goofing off with me on twitter, commenting on my posts, telling me about your favorite books and authors,  and putting up with me when I  simply would not shut up books I was excited about and geeky events I attended.

I’ll see everyone in January! when it’s time to turn back the clock!

Happy-New-Year

 

* regarding Vintage SciFi Month radio silence: I am a jerk and didn’t e-mail back a lot of people who voiced interest in writing guest posts. I still would love to have you write something. Can be anything scifi-ish or fantasy-ish that is from 1979 or earlier: books, author bios, tv shows,  movies, book cover art galleries, radio shows,  award winners, geeky events, a short list of suggested books and/or short stories, etc. Send your guest post to me at redhead5318 at the gmail place. comment below or tweet me if you have questions.

 

 

I trolled the interwebs for a few hours to bring some other folks’ Best (science fiction & fantasy) Books of the Year lists.  Do your part to explode everyone else’s wish lists, and toss a link to your Best Of list in the comments!

libriomancer bigPaul Weimer‘s best of year list includes The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie and War Stories edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak.

Fantasy Findings best of the year included Sword of the Bright Lady by M.C. Planck, Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines and The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

Beauty In Ruins didn’t give out many 5 star reviews this year, here are a few of the titles that made his 5 star list: The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley, Deadlock by Tim Curran, and The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley.

The Book Plank‘s short list of best scifi of 2014 includes Binary by Stephanie Saulter and The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi among others

Books, Bones and Buffy‘s list of top ten adult books had a lot in common with my top 10 list, and included Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, and Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone. Her Top Ten YA books list included The Falconer by Elizabeth May, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, and Shadowplay by Laura Lam.

Best Fantasy Books has an extensive list of this years fantasy favorites, including Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, and Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb.

Eric Smith‘s favorites of the year included Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, Blightborn by Chuck Wendig, and and Burn Out by Kristi Helvig.

city_of_stairs-cover1Nerds of a Feather guest posted their favorites, and waxed rhapsodic about City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Eternal Sky trilogy by Elizabeth Bear, and A Darkling Sea by James Cambias.

Eamo the Geek‘s best of year list includes Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells, and Sand by Hugh Howey.

Geek Critiqued‘s best of the year list includes The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, Lock In by John Scalzi, and The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

and I suppose this Best Science Fiction and Fantasy list over at Kirkus is the definitive one? Includes Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear, Afterparty by Daryl Gregory, and Defenders by Will McIntosh.

So, I have this issue with e-books.  I forget I have them.  it’s an “outta sight, outta mind” thing.  I know one of the benefits of an e-reader is that you can carry a bazillion books around with you, and they don’t take up any space and they don’t weigh anything, and they don’t fill up your house and make people worry you might be a hoarder.

 

but you see, that’s part of my problem with e-books. I don’t see ‘em, so I totally forget that I have them, don’t prioritize them, etc. this is a bad thing. like, a really bad thing.

Random kindle image swiped off the interwebs. Mine looks like the one on the right.

Random kindle image swiped off the interwebs. Mine looks like the one on the right.

 

My brain interprets the word book as a physical object that is experienced. Something with weight, something that has a certain amount of heft, something that requires a bookmark.  the act of reading is a very physical, whole-body experience for me. what’s the texture of the paper? how much does the book weigh? is the cover shiny or matte? (Matte is better, for TMI reasons) What’s on the spine? how is it bound? is it a “fancy” limited edition or special edition book? what’s the typesetting like? does the ink come off on my fingers? (i love it when that happens, btw) How old is the book? where did I get it? Who do I know who has read it before? how long have I owned it? When I’m reading for a review, I like to take notes on a piece of paper and use that paper as my bookmark.  The answers to those questions don’t matter, because they are not questions that are answered with your voice.  All of these things are part and parcel of my physical experience with a book, and it’s the uniqueness of the heft of the thing, the cover art, the spine, the binding, where it came from, the act of writing notes, the for lack of a better term the mental impression that makes looking at a tumble of words on a page into “reading”. And the experience of reading every book is completely different, making the mental impressions different.

 

still with me?

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and when I say “goodies”, I mean books.   It’s been one of those weeks where I just want to curl up in a ball with a book (or six) and hibernate.  So i did.

nexus

A business trip last week with lots of down time (not to mention 2 hours stuck on an airplane each way) meant I had plenty of time to read. Finished Tobias Buckell’s Hurricane Fever, and got half way through Nexus by Ramez Naam.  Was craving laziness, comfort reads, and aliens when I got home, so zipped through Issola by Steven Brust and got a good start on Migration by Julie Czerneda.

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then I checked the mail, to find these beauties:

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Echopraxia I won from a giveaway over at Bibliotropic, and I’d requested Gleam from Jo Fletcher Books. The Watts I’ve been drooling over since I first heard about it (Blindsight will, as one blogger put it, will “blow your mindhole”), so yeah, I’m just a little excited about Echopraxia. And this Gleam book just looks hella fun.

Scale-Bright - Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Then I checked my e-mail and the twitters.  Accepted a review copy of Bastion Science Fiction Magazine #6, and was in the right place at the right time to get a review copy of Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Scale-Bright.  And Scale-Bright? it’s gorgeous.  Do you like edgy, gorgeous prose, mythology that shimmers and glints like the surface of a summer stream, and frustrated deities? If yes, you’re gonna want Scale-Bright.

bastion-SciFi August

What does all this mean for you?  That hopefully I’ll be kicking out some smart reviews soon!  oh, and did I mention I’m frying my brain over my review of Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs?  Sometimes when I’m reading a galley, I’ll dog-ear a page that’s got something I want to remember. Here’s what the book looked like after 1st reading. 2nd time through I wrote down a list of page #s I wanted to remember. That list was very long, and didn’t include any of the already dog-eared pages.

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Here’s to hoping my brain is in high gear review writin’ mode pretty soon!

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I’ve got books to give away!  But we’re gonna do this the fun way. And by fun way, I mean blind date with a book!  that means I give you a little bit of info about the book, and you get to decide if it looks interesting.  I won’t tell you the title, or the author, but I can tell you that these are all new books published in the last 12 months,  from publishers like Orbit, Tachyon, and Titan Books. They were all sent to me as review copies, and either I have duplicates, I’ve read them and don’t plan to read them again, or it’s a title I opted to skip on.

Here’s the rules:

– due to the cost of shipping overseas, this give away is for US only

– let me know in the comments which book(s) you’re interested in, and yes, you can request more than one. To be eligible, you *must* specify your choices (None of this lazy “they all look good!” stuff), by referring to the wrapping paper color, or one of it’s descriptors, or something useful. If we don’t already  know each other, please leave me a way to reach you – twitter, e-mail, etc.

– Give away closes midnight, eastern time, Sunday Aug 31st.

Winners will be announced in early September.

now that the pesky rules are out of the way, here’s what is up for grabs:

Read the rest of this entry »

A little bit of everything here: bought new, bought used, received from publishers, gotten from paperbackswap.  Some new goodies on the kindle too. Those are much harder to photograph.

What looks good to you?

Goodies from Orbit and Tachyon:

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Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction  Vol 2, edited by Gordon Can Gelder

 

purchased new:

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman – have already read this, and omgIntense! Look for a book review soon.  Josh Malerman is doing a booksigning in my city later this week, I am super excited for that!

The Graveyard Book by Kage Baker – book 4 of Baker’s Company series. Looks like this is a Joseph book? sweet.

Life’s Lottery by Kim Newman – randomly saw it at the bookstore, and omg you guys, it’s a choose your own adventure book! it’s a different story every time you read it!!! and hello, it’s a choose your own adventure book!   Maybe this time I won’t get eaten by the dragon.  Because you know, I am tasty with ketchup.

 

 

Purchased used and from paperback swap:

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Illusion by Paula Voksly

This Immortal by Roger Zelazny

The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom

Players at the Game of People by John Brunner

 

 

And some E-book anthologies, to round out the goodies:

(these were all provided either directly by the publisher, or by other venues I review for)

4 e-books

 

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From The Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel Jose Older, featuring fiction by Nnedi Okorafor, Nicolette Barischoff, Ken Liu, Tananarive Due, Sofia Samatar, Thoraiya Dyer and more. I’ve already finished reading this one, so look for a review soon!

Apex Book of World SF Vol #3, edited by Lavie Tidhar, featuring fiction by Athena Andreadis, Amal El-Mohtar, Karin Tidbeck, Xia Jia, Benjanun Sridaungkaew and more

Clarkesworld Year 6, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace. Featuring a boat load of award winning and award nominated fiction, including Catherynne Valente’s Fade to White and Silently and Very Fast, Immersion by Aliette de Bodard, and Mantis Wives by Kij Johnson. Also featuring David Klecha and Tobias Buckell, Suzanne Church, Sarah Stanton, Robert Reed, and a ton more people. This one I think is going to take me a while to get through.  But even so…. watch for a review soon!

Lightspeed Magazine special issue Women Destroy Science Fiction, with short stories, flash fiction, essays and interviews. Another one that might take me a while to get through.

 

Alright kids, what looks good? What should I prioritize?  If all of these books were sitting on your coffee table, which would YOU read first?

 


2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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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.