the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘for the love of reading’ Category

How things were in my life until January 2015:

Most days it was easy to find a half hour to read slush and at least an hour (and sometimes 3) to read a book.  I had a super cushy job that mostly involved waiting around.  If nothing was happening at work, it was totally OK for me to sit around and read a book.  Finding a few hours here and there to write long and passionate reviews as also pretty easy.  I’d spend Saturday mornings catching up on my RSS feed, commenting on other blogs, arranging author interviews,  plotting and planning read-alongs with other bloggers, requesting ARCs, and all those other fun things that come with being a passionate blogger. For four years, I was in book blogger heaven.  I was ridiculously spoiled and I no concept of how good I had it.

 

Things changed, as they do, and in Oct of 2014 my employer reorganized and downsized, which resulted in me having a nice and relaxing depressing and terrifying 3 month vacation from working.  In January of 2015 I landed a job with a very large and very stable company.  They wanted to pay me a lot of money to do something I truly do enjoy: field management.   The hours are long, and the job is incredibly intense and challenging.  Finding time to read and blog has practically disappeared, as you can see from the drop in my published reviews and general online presence.

 

I’m not giving up my blog. She’s my labor of love, my  baby. She’s not going anywhere. But, if I’m going to keep her alive, I need to change gears.  But I only have so many spoons.

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It is just me, or has Epic Fantasy gotten really bloody lately?  More battles depicted, more violence, more people getting run through with varied weapons, more plots that revolve around action, battle scenes, and killing people. Maybe that’s just what is being advertised right now, maybe it’s the sign of the times, maybe publishers see how well Game of Thrones is doing and want to publish more stuff like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed a lot of grimdark, and I certainly don’t mind some violence. I don’t mean to knock battlefield fantasy, but like a brand new sword that’s seen recent use, the shiny has worn off for me.  Ultraviolence was a novelty for me, and now that I’m past it (or maybe I’m just getting old), I find that I prefer fantasy titles that are more in the vein of Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice, Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind , Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora, etc. Fantasy that focuses on plot, characters, consequences, adventure, magic, relationships, changes in perspective and such.

 

That said, I recently put the following question to the Twittersphere:

looking for epic fantasy

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Starting tomorrow, I have four days off in a row.  Without even having to take a single vacation day. Corporate America, sometimes I love you.  There will be much turkey eaten, much pie consumed, much booze and chocolate inhaled. Also? Books.

 

Here are some reviews I’ll be working on:

books 11-22-15_2

fuzzy photo is fuzzy: they are A Fantasy Medley 3, edited by Yanni Kuznia, The End of the Story, the Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, and Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction, edited by Jeff Vandermeer.

 

Once I’m done with that, my reward is to read these goodies!

books 11-22-15

I lied a little. I’ve already started reading RJB’s City of Blades, and will probably have finished it by Thanksgiving Day. Because RJB writes only awesomesauce.  The others are Downfall of the Gods by K.J. Parker, I Am Crying All Inside, short fiction by Clifford Simak (hello Vintage month!), and Fable: Blood of Heroes by Jim C. Hines. I’m hoping for some chicken kicking and gargoyle shooting in the Hines, btw.

 

If you are lucky enough to have time off this weekend, how will you be spending it?

I read this stuff:

i read this stuff

 

I’m in the middle of reading this:

this alien shore

of those, here are the books I’ve already written reviews for:

empty

oh, none of them?  blergh.

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I haven’t gotten as much reading done lately as I would have like (workaholic + dayjob equals not enough hours in the day), but I’ve gotten some reading done. And hubby and I bought some books too!

icefall arcI recently finished Icefall by Gillian Philip. This is the fourth and last  book in her Rebel Angels series. It’s a Fey Urban Fantasy. Basically, the veil that separates the human world and the otherworld is breaking down. Should it be repaired? should it be torn down and the worlds combined? The Fae queen will do anything to destroy it, and Seth (who she names traitor) will do anything to protect the reputation of his brother, among other things. A series full of feels, passionate characters, betrayal, secret children and parentage, more secrets, long grudges, power plays, and did I mention feels? I gotta find time to review this baby, because yeah. Such a bittersweet ending. Such a fun, enjoyable, satisfying, braincandy bunch of books. Urban Fantasy and kicks in the feels For the Win.

but in the meantime, important question! which do you like better? the UK cover art, or the US cover art?

Icefall UK Cover Art

Icefall UK Cover Art

Icefall US cover art

Icefall US cover art

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Brides story 3 and 4

Hubby and I are also working our way (ok, my way. he’s already finished all of them!) through A Bride’s Story, a manga by Kaoru Mori. I recently finished volumes 3 and 4, and I told hubby he was responsible for starting the discussion. these middle volumes start out so tragic, and then change gears to go towards the humorous. So many changes in feels! so many!

king maker brauddus

I’m about halfway through King Maker, by Maurice Broaddus. It’s a retelling of the King Arthur mythos, relocated to inner city Indianapolis. Reading this really has me rethinking about scenes that i’m ok with in low fantasy/epic fantasy, but that i probably shouldn’t be OK with. here’s to hoping I can finish this book over the weekend.

Once I finish King Maker, I’ll be diving into Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson:

Aurora KSRAs soon as this beautiful ARC arrived in the mail, the hubby claimed it, and dove right it. I know he liked it, because he finished it in like three days. I asked him to tell me something about it without giving any spoilers, and he said “it’s like the High Frontier board-game”. um, ok. the game does have the most amazing board, so there’s that.

and then we purchased some goodies too – The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu, and the Upgraded anthology edited by Neil Clarke (seriously, if it’s got Clarke’s name on it, I’m going to buy it. because duh)

three bodyupgraded

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Hubby needs to read The Three-Body Problem before I do, because that book intimidates the shit out of me. (I know it shouldn’t intimidate me, but it just does. ok?) on a happier note, do you see that Julie Dillon cover art on Upgraded? See how awesome she is? Now go back her new Kickstarter. Because she’s like, freaking awesome.

 

hmm…. and that’s what I’ve been up to lately.  How about you? read anything good lately? purchased or libraried or otherwise acquired anything interesting lately?

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.

 

 


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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.