the Little Red Reviewer

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I got to be on the first episode of Whiskey and Book Club!     Click the link for the video!


this club is exactly what you’d think – two friends hop onto a Zoom call,  talk about books, and drink whiskey (or whatever they feel like drinking).    H.P. and I had so much fun that we lost track of time as we chatted about Scott Reardon, Connie Willis, Kage Baker, Scott Reardon, Yuval Levin, Cormac McCarthy, Andrzej Sapkowski, Robert Jordan, and a ton of other great writers and their books.


if you’ve got books you’d like to talk about,  and just wanna chit chat over Zoom for an hour, reach out to H.P. to be a guest.  Whiskey not required!




Other stuff that’s been happening:

Passover cooking marathon starts in about an hour.

Yes, I finished The Children of the Company,  yes I cried at the end of Kalugin’s story.

Zipped through The Machine’s Child, where the story FINALLY (omg FINALLY) gets back to Mendoza, Nicholas/etc, Joseph, and Budu.  my scribbled notes include:

The supermarket scene, omg so funny!

Joseph and Budu #AllTheFeels

Mendoza and Nicholas can’t keep their hands off of each other and it is the cutest and I love them so much! #AllTheHearts

Jumping back and forth between the short story novels (fix up novels) to the full length  novels and getting spend time with so many of my favorite characters is like a buffet of my favorite desserts. If I’m reading about Joseph it means I’m not reading about Mendoza. If I’m reading about Lewis it means I’m not reading about Kalugin.  it’s like if I’m eating cheesecake that means that bite doesn’t have truffles, and if I’m eating creme brulee it means I’m not eating cake.  Is there such a thing as a turducken of desserts?  how about the Kage Baker version of EndGame where all my fave characters are ALL THERE ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

oh shit. Kalugin. And I still don’t know where Lewis is. they can’t all be there at the same time.  *cries*


Have I already started reading Gods and Pawns?  of course I have!   Did I squee when I realized the first story is about Lewis and I get to hang out with him again?  Of course I did!


more random info:  that green sweater I’m wearing in the video? Apparently that is my “I want to look like a grown up” sweater.  I had to run a zoom training call at work yesterday, and what did I wear to look all professional and knowledgeable?  that green sweater.

I ever so slowly getting through The Children of the Company, Kage Baker’s 6th Company book.   The horrid cover art continues.    Much of this novel started out as short stories that were published in Asimov‘s,  which is very cool because it means Baker wrote these parts first.  She backwards engineered the whole thing!!   but wait a minute, does that mean this book is a fix-up novel??


This is the first book in the series that has felt like a slog.  Labienus is my least favorite character, so watching him go through his files and remember people and places doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time. Also? no Mendoza or Joseph, so far.


The biggest benefit of this book, is that it’s everyone’s origin stories.  I love how much we get of Budu.  Victor’s origin story!  the truth behind his childhood memory that he “was saved from a bear”, or something.  That immortals felt sadness in the minutes leading up to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake!  That they did truly care for their mortal friends.


and OMG, the line about how “recorded history can not be changed”, but who is doing the recording? what if they lied?  what an oh shit moment!


I meant for this blog post to be a ton of fun links for you,  neat stuff you can check out.   I do not have the mental energy for that today.  I’ve re-written this post now three times,  trying to keep it positive, because reasons.  Anyway.


You don’t need me to post a bunch of links of things that I think are worthy. You know what you’re interested in, you know what is worthy of your time.  Go buy a bunch of e-books from an independent bookstore or a humble bundle or a small press.  Learn how to bake bread. Can’t find any yeast? there is suddenly tons of helpful info online on how to do sourdough if you don’t have any yeast. Don’t like bread? Make pasta or cookies or mashed potatoes or whatever it is that you enjoy eating.  Watch some movies.  Watch everything on Netflix.


I started watching Community last night, and oh hello to my crush on Joel McHale, you tall sarcastic cutie! I may have to watch that Halloween episode from the first season, oh, I dunno, ten more times.  And Donald Glover, he is SO ADORABLE!  I need a supercut of just Donald Glover being cute in that show.  I first saw Alison Brie in GLOW,  does she have any acting abilities other than chewing the scenery?      Oh shit,  now I’m not sure who I have more of a crush on, Joel McHale or Donald Glover!  can I have both of them?  (lolz, where is that Road to El Dorado “both. both is good” gif when you need it?)

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Little Red Reviewer turns ten years old today!

Yes, it’s true!  the first time I posted to this blog was March 28th, 2010.  It seems like a lifetime ago.

To celebrate, I’m doing an Ask Me Anything!


Whatdya wanna know about blogging? about blogger burn out?  about getting ARCs? about characters I’m shipping? about growing a following?  about getting blogging/interviewing gigs elsewhere? about trying to do a kickstarter while starting a new job during a polar vortex? about my day job? about used bookstores? about recipes and gluten free cooking? about being a couch potato?   about talking on panels at conventions?


Ask me Anything in the comments!


but first, a public service announcement for #SaveOurBookstores , #SaveOurIndies :

Your local bookstore might be:

Closed: but still selling gift cards on their website and possibly still taking orders online to ship to your house

Mostly Closed: but will answer the phone, take your order over the phone or over email, and ship the books to your house.

Sort of Closed: Customers aren’t allowed in the retail space, but they’ll take your order over the phone and bring your order to your car. It’s like the McDonald’s drive through, except it’s at the bookstore, and you’ll feel much better afterwards!

Our family-run, independent bookstores are struggling like they have never struggled before. They have always been there for us. now it’s our turn. If you see me tweeting hashtags like #SaveOurBookstores and #SaveOurIndies, retweet and share widely.


AMA . .  ready. . .  GO!


He’s Also Ten.

Tags: ,

Need some escapism?

Need some books shipped to your house?

Suddenly have a lot of time on your hands?

I’m over at Nerds of a Feather, talking about great series to escape into, including Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga,  Derek Kunsken’s Quantum Magician and Quantum Garden, Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, Mike Allen’s Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, and more!

While all of the books mentioned in that post are available as e-books, you should consider ordering them from your local independent bookstore!

Your local bookstore might be:

Closed:  but still selling gift cards on their website and possibly still taking orders online to ship to your house

Mostly Closed:  but will answer the phone, take your order over the phone or over email, and ship the books to your house.

Sort of Closed:  Customers aren’t allowed in the retail space, but they’ll take your order over the phone and bring your order to your car.  It’s like the McDonald’s drive through, except it’s at the bookstore, and you’ll feel much better afterwards!

Our family-run, independent bookstores are struggling like they have never struggled before. They have always been there for us. now it’s our turn.  If you see me tweeting hashtags like #SaveOurBookstores and #SaveOurIndies,  retweet and share widely.


My local indie, Kazoo Books, is somewhere between Mostly Closed and Sort of Closed.  If you’re spreading your book buying around,  give them a call.

changing gears, I finished Kage Baker’s 3rd Company novel, Mendoza in Hollywood last night.  This novel meanders all over the place, but I couldn’t put it down!   If you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles, or are interested in Hollywood history,  you’ll love this book.  Unlike the first two, Mendoza in Hollywood can not be read as a stand alone, you’ve got to read  books one and two first.  Don’t worry, you won’t be able to put those books down either!

The bigger, nastier plot really starts to get going in this book.  Based on what Joseph told us in Sky Coyote, and what Mendoza is starting to figure out,  something much bigger and much twistier is going on, the secret is way bigger than anyone expected. And no one will figure it out, because everyone is just “a good little machine”, right?


There’s this weird scene where Mendoza and Einar ride their horses into a particular canyon, a place where weird shit is known to happen. like, really weird, a rip in space-time shit.  Everyone knows you can’t go forward in your own timeline, and yet . . . Mendoza and Einar do?   Mendoza sees Lewis for a split second, and he freaks out, but she can’t hear what he’s saying. And all I could thing was:


also,  Juan and his birds,  more beef tacos than you can shake a stick at, and not enough hot water.

Everyone is ready for a vacation after spending nearly two years in Southern California in the 1860s!

Off to the bookshelves, to find book 4, The Graveyard Game!

I finished Kage Baker’s Sky Coyote yesterday, and immediately started reading Mendoza in Hollywood. I’ve been reading a ton in the mornings.  And at lunchtime. And at night. At this rate, I’m going to be done with this series in two weeks.  I’m thinking of rereading Kaoru Mori’s Bride’s Story next,  we recently got volume eleven.  Each volume of that takes me about two hours to read, so I can draw it out to . . . eleven days?  Eleven days of gorgeous artwork, I think I can handle that.

How are your bookshelves organized?  Mine are by “height”. All the mass market  paperbacks together, so I can stack more MMPs on top of them. All the hardbacks together, all the “tall” books together.  My Baker’s are a mish-mash of every type of format – hard  back, mass market paper back “tall” paperback, an odd-size ARC from Tachyon, I even have one or two hard back special editions from Sub Press. What I’m getting at is that they’re all different sizes, so are somehow scattered throughout this house.  Nothing is more entertaining that watching me tear bookshelves apart looking for specific books!


Ok,  so here we go, with random thoughts on Sky Coyote:


Sky Coyote is feel-good humor, feel-good pop culture references, it’s got characters I want to hang out with all day long.  This book feels like I’m watching Back to the Future.  it feels really low stakes.   I may just come back and reread this,  when later books in the series get super heavy.


I love Joseph.  This isn’t his first rodeo, which is  good thing,  but he’s also compartmentalized everything in his mind to justify his actions, which is not a good thing.  Being around people who remind him of home, he needed that.  I’m happy he got that, I wish he’d had more time with the Chumash.  Everytime I read this book again, that’s more time he gets to spend with them, right?


I was howling with laughter at Puluy and Awhay’s dialog, they talk like Valley Girls!


I love living mythology, and that’s what this book is. You can read Sky Coyote as a stand alone, so if you like mythology, if you like humor,  get this book.  Everyone knows it’s ok for mythology stories to be  made up,  and everyone knows it’s ok to feel like those stories aren’t made up.


Do we get more of Joseph thinking about Budu? I hope so.  I think so?  Budu and his kind were designed to kill humans who were killing other humans. But what happens when soldiers like Budu aren’t needed anymore.  Hmmm . . . . suddenly seeing Will McIntosh’s Defenders as a companion book to The Company.


The performance the Kantap puts on!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, oh are you in for a treat!  When they do the “comedy act” of Sky Coyote and his, well, um,  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe!


Omg, the scene with the Looney Tunes cartoons!  I was crying-laughing!   Actually, because me, I was crying-laughing for like the last 50 pages of this book.  They were happy tears.


The year 2355.  You can’t outrun it, you can’t avoid it.  You are rushing towards it, inevitably, relentlessly, and one day per day.


Because I have vague memories of what’s coming in books 3 – 6,  I can’t stop thinking about Mendoza and Nicholas.


We watched the movie Rocketman, the other day.  Freakin’ excellent movie!  It’s very Baz Luhrmann!  I lost track of all the costume changes and started getting a kick out of the dozens and dozens of glasses.  If you like musical biopics, this is well worth your two hours.


And I swear I saw Nicholas Harpole in Rocketman. You can’t tell from this picture, but he is tall and very lanky, and usually wears severe dark suits.  and that voice! and those eyes!  No wonder Elton thought this guy loved him, how could anyone think otherwise?


I spent the afternoon today binge watching Star Trek: Discovery season 2.


I freakin’ love Tilly.  You’re either going to love her or hate her, and it took me a few episodes in season one to warm up to her,  but I wish they would just call Discovery the Tilly & Stamets show.


isn’t she adorable?


More non-sequiturs in a few days, ok?

Before my next book review goes up,  let’s have a discussion about first person point of view,  how much knowledge the narrator has, the narrator’s perspective and intent, and trust.


Do you like first person point of view, or does it annoy you?

If you like it, what do you like about it?

What books have you read where the first person point of view was especially effective?

Ever had a narrator lie to you?  Were you ok with that?

Do you like unreliable narrators, or do they piss you off?



Some people really hate first person point of view, some people love it.  Me personally? I love it. My fave is getting the story from that character’s perspective – what excites them, what annoys them, what  is their internal monologue, how do they make decisions, how do they deal with/avoid the consequences of those decisions. I literally want to spend the story inside that person’s head. It feels intimate, like they are letting me in.


A thing with first person point of view, is that the reader only knows what the narrator knows. If the narrator doesn’t know who all is on the Orient Express, the reader isn’t going to know until the character meets everyone.  If the narrator doesn’t know why the train broke down or what the name of the cafe at the station is, you don’t know that info either.


One of the many fun things about first person, is the narrator  has full control over what the reader knows. If the narrator “forgets” to tell you where they were last night, I guess you’re never gonna know.  If the narrator truly doesn’t remember what happened last night because they passed out drunk, I guess you’re never gonna know. Instead of getting to learn everything about everything, your knowledge becomes severely limited.


The narrator is going to tell you what you need to know to stay interested in the story, and there might be some things they choose not to tell you. Could be because they themselves don’t think that piece of information is necessary or interesting,  could be they don’t want to have to answer awkward questions, could be the narrator isn’t as smart as they think (especially entertaining when the narrator is an animal), could be the narrator is purposely hiding information because they are an unreliable narrator.


Sometimes the narrator keeps information from you, and they have no ill intent.  Maybe they didn’t realize the information was important, or it wasn’t something they cared about, or they weren’t able to put all the pieces together. We can’t all be Sherlock Holmes brainiacs, you know.


So,  how do you know if you can trust a narrator?  Why do you trust a narrator right out of the gate?


As a reader,  how do you feel when you trust the narrator, and then find out they weren’t fully truthful with you? Yes, I am asking how you feel about unreliable narrators.


I’m a weirdo, I freakin’ love unreliable narrators.   Because if i’m suddenly questioning everything they told me. . .  is the story I just read maybe a completely different story? And I love it when that happens.



Shhh!!!    don’t tell anyone,  but *whispers* there are other websites on the internet besides Little Red Reviewer */whispers*


I know,  crazy, right?    But?  here’s the good news,  sometimes I have stuff on those other websites too!


I had a ton of fun doing The Questioning with Timy at RockStarlit Book Asylum,  come on over  to find out why I was put into an asylum, what book I’d take with me, and what fictional world I’d like to visit!


Over at Nerds of a Feather,  I got to interview Jess Nevins, author of 20th Century Horror, and A.K. Larkwood, author of The Unspoken Name.   Woah, did you know Nerds of a Feather has a newsletter?  They’ll tell you when I have a new interview up there!  check it out!


if you don’t get enough of me here at Little Red Reviewer, go check out some of those posts!

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FTC Stuff

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.