the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We’re in the middle of a heat wave, the novelty of getting to work from home has worn off, and I’m in a reading rut.  Buckets of books to read and review, a ton of amazing stuff on my kindle app, and i’m just not in the mood for it right now.

 

on the plus side, I’ve got some fun crafts I want to work on,  my little balcony garden is going crazy with tomatoes and herbs and green onions and flowers,  and I’ll never run out of cool recipes that that I want to try to make.

 

So, I’m going to make fun foods,  read more cookbooks, harvest my basil and mint and parsley, coax my peppers and tomatoes to fruit,  and binge watch the Netflix show Dark.

 

Just a few recent reads –

I enjoyed the hell out of Your Rover is Here, by LP Kindred, in FIYAH Issue #14. This is the urban fantasy / keep the family magic a secret I’ve been looking for for years.  The voice in this story is fantastic. The narrator, he’s just going about his business. He drives for a rideshare app.  And when a fare brings violent magic into the car, he has to fight back to stop even more violence.  So what happens when you use secret magic to stop a dangerous explosion, and you lose your car (and your source of income) in the process?  Seriously a great story.  I kept meaning to read the rest of the issue, but just kept coming back to this story.

I bought the print copy of Clarkesworld Year 11, volume 1. It’s a bucket of fiction that was published in Clarkesworld.  I usually really like what gets published in that magazine, but my eyeballs struggle with walls of text.  I’ve only read a few stories, and haven’t connected with many of them yet.

 

Been binge re-watching the Netflix show Dark. The 3rd season just dropped, so hubby and I are rewatching the first two seasons as fast as we can.   this IS the show of the summer!  umm, how to explain?  Think Twin Peaks meets Stranger Things,  plus a metric ton of time travel.  And the soundtrack!  omg, so good!!

DO:  watch the show and take your own notes for a family tree.  Different story lines follow different generations, so you’ll want to keep track of who is married to who,  who is the parent and child of who, etc.

DON’T: use google to learn about this show.   the less you know about the show and the plot going in, the better.  the internet is solid spoilers.

not a spoiler: the first time I saw season one,  I though Jonas was a cool but annoying character. Why is he so quiet? Why doesn’t he seem to react to things? why does he seem so passive?  Yeah, he’s might be quiet, but he is NOT passive. the poor kid is a bundle of nerves and a total mess inside.

I’m not a super crafty person,  but I have two crafts I want to work on this summer.  I’d like to create a Braille sampler (remember samplers?).  My mom let me borrow one of her embroidery hoops, and I bought some tiny beads to be the Braille “dots”.

 

I’m getting bored with the fabric masks I have.  I bought some fat quarters to experiment with the bandana “bank robber” style face covering, where it’s a square folded into a triangle, and you tie it across your face and knot it at behind your head.   OK, so that was working pretty good. . .   then I saw these kinds of “face veils” online:

and i thought to myself “Self, that looks COOL.  and it covers your nose and mouth, and it isn’t BORING”.

so, next iteration,  was I took my triangle folded fat quarter, and instead of knotting it behind my head,  I  bobby pinned it.  where the two ends overlap, I put three downward facing bobby pins, and to “tighten” the mask, I pulled on the ends, pulling them through the bobby pins.  It was super comfy, and not boring. . .  but I still wanted to mess with it some more . . . .

The  craft store was OPEN!  This is the first time I have been to a retail store that wasn’t a grocery store!  I got to BROWSE! and walk through aisles of random crap I didn’t need!  I bought a few plastic hair combs, some seam binding,  some cotton bandanas, and a bundle of fat quarters.   A few things I want to experiment with – sewing the corners of the bandana directly to the top of the comb, and then put the comb tines down into a messy bun or ponytail, and attaching bobby pins to the comb, so they can “tighten” the mask while the comb holds everything place.

Ideally, I’m going for something where it’s the comb that holds the mask in place, and the fabric lies gently over my nose and mouth, with no pressure on the bridge of my nose or my ears.  And in the picture above, there is stuff on the bottom of the mask, weighing it down.  I can do something like that too!

Regardless,  this will keep me out of trouble for a few hours, and I’ll get some cool belly dancer style face veils out of it.  Doesn’t seem like the new normal is gonna go away anytime soon, so I might as well have some crafty fun with it, right?

 

Cooking adventures – I couldn’t find any one to one gluten free flour at the store, but they did have brown rice flour and teff.  Whadya do with teff? You make Injera!   First batch was tasty but undercooked because I didn’t have my pan hot enough. will one million percent be making injera again!

The link in the paragraph above is to Mark Bittman’s injera recipe. this recipe is great for midwesterners like me – measurements in cups and teaspoons, it doesn’t make a ton,  the batter only ferments for a day or so. Injera is a traditional Ethiopian bread,  here are some more traditional injera recipes, from Ethiopian sources:

Marcus Samuelsson’s Injera recipe

from How to Cook Great Ethiopian Food

Adane’s Ethiopian Food Youtube video for 24 hour Injera

Mama’s Majet youtube video for Injera

 

 

 

the familiar blogger refrain:

I’m not in the mood to write this book review. I know,  I’ll read another book . . . falling even further behind on reviews I had planned to write.

I haven’t written a review in a while, but I’ve been reading a ton, and I’ve got plenty of review notes written down in my head.

Some books I’ve read recently:

sorry for the crap blurry photo!

 

Star Trek: Collateral Damage, by David Mack.   I’ve read some TOS Trek novels, but never read a TNG novel. I had no idea what to expect.  I certainly didn’t expect to love this book so much. Great characters, Worf rolling his eyes,  Laforge saving the day, Picard being Picard,  excellent banter and even more excellent side characters.  I worry that I’ve now been spoiled, that no other TNG novel will entertain me as much as this book entertained me.

 

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett – 2nd book in his new trilogy. Certainly doesn’t suffer from “middle book syndrome”.  NONSTOP action.  I love the magic system in this world, but I’m struggling to care about the main characters. My fave characters were a side character who is super close to his trauma, and the bad guy, because he’s pretty cray-cray.  Buckets more on this later, but i think the reasons I’m struggling to connect with the main character is because SO MUCH ACTION is getting in the way for me, and she’s like 19 years old, so she relates to the world in a different way than 40 year old me relates to the world.

 

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – while stuck at home during a pandemic, why not read a book about a pandemic that ravages earth? Loved how the story opens, super loved the end, the middle was a little draggy for me. I feel like The Girl With All The Gifts is sort of a modern take on I Am Legend?  I haven’t seen the movie of this, by the way.  Also, didn’t realize I Am Legend is a novella?  the paperback is jam packed with a ton of Matheson short stories, mostly quick sharp horror stories, lots of which take place in funeral homes. they are deliciously creepy.

 

 

If you love gorgeous artwork and Central Asia,  Bride’s Story is for you.  I basically shop for dresses out of the pages of this manga.  So much gorgeous embroidery! the dresses! the shoes! the head dresses!  the jewelry!!!   the plot jumps around between a bunch of different families, and in volume 11 we are with Mr. Smith and Talas.  Their story is super heartbreaking, and I want them to find happiness, and I don’t know if they will.  Smith is such an adorable doofus.  There’s a great side story in this volume about what happened to his pocket watch, and the “legends” that sprang up around the watch.   I feel like that lady who wanted to buy Talas’s embroidered clothing – I suck at embroidery, but i love it and I’m happy to pay a pretty penny for it.

 

Memories of Emanon by Shinji Kajio and Kenji Tsurata – totally different art style than Bride’s Story, but I love, LOVE the art style of Memories of Emanon!  The story takes place in the late 1960s, a young man is traveling home on a ferry in Japan.  The ferry is going up the coast, it’s going to take him 17 hours to get home (sorta like a really, REALLY long train ride in the US).  He meets a young woman on the ferry, and she tells him the wildest story.  What she’s saying can’t possibly be true, can it?  Great story, fantastic artwork.

 

I haven’t finished reading Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee yet,  but I’m near the end.  I bought this collection last year, and was “saving it for a special occasion”. If you read my last blog post and the comments,  being on the upswing from whatever-that-was seemed to be a special occassion, so I picked up Hexarchate Stories.  Young Jedao! and his siblings! and his mom!  and calendars and birthdays and servitors and omg I love this book so much! there is a ton of flash fiction in here, and it’s been fun to analyze the flash fiction, see how to tell a story in just a few pages. truly,  reading this book has been heavenly.  as soon as I finish it I’m going to read it again (I feel like I did that with one of the Machineries of Empire books too?).   Confession – some of my super fave stores have been the sexy/smutty ones.

 

some e-books i’ve read/am reading:

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – holy shit damn. this book is everything!  I have handwritten notes for a review and still there is just SO MUCH.   (also, for reasons that  i’ll tell you later, finishing this book and then immediately picking up the Star Trek book had me laughing my head off).  This book doesn’t come out till later this summer, so I need to figure out when i can post a review and how much I can talk about, because I don’t want to spoil anything.

 

 

I just started reading Machine’s Last Testament by Benjanun Sriduangkaew this morning, and I’m loving it. An AI controlled sanctuary city, where if you can get in, you’ll be happy and safe (for AI definitions of happy and safe).  It’s a sort of prequel to And Machines Shall Surrender, which I loved.  Basically, if you’re trying to figure out what kind of stories and prose styles I love,  read anything by Sriduangkaew, and you’ll know.

 

What have you been reading lately?

 

and if you like short fiction, and want your TBR to explode, check out this series of interviews I’m doing at Nerds of a Feather,  with staff members at Hugo nominated semiprozines!  When this series ends, I’ll be doing an interview series with the nominees for best fan artist.  Huh, i guess that explains why i haven’t been writing a ton of reviews lately. . .

my faves are problematic.

they are my faves, and they are problematic. even after I write and read and reread this post, they will still be my faves, and they will still be problematic, and I have to be ok with that, because this is  not a fave I’m willing to give up.

I love time travel.  it is my super fave, i don’t plan to ever love it less than a bazillion hearts!!  time travel is super problematic!

Like, it is my favorite trope in the whole world.  travel to the past, travel to the future,  take modern items to the past and bury them to be found later, omg, I can’t get enough time travel!  Cheesy writing can be fixed, just add time travel!  have no plot? add time travel, and I’ll forgive anything!

“what could possibly go wrong?” is the best way to write a story, and with time travel, every possible thing goes wrong, every single time!  the person gets stuck in the past! they accidentally create a paradox! they realize their ancestor was an asshole! they go to the wrong time! the gizmo to get them back to the present gets broken! they are dressed wrong and someone thinks they are a witch!  they hit their head and get rescured by a well meaning local and they have to escape the person’s horrible medical ideas!  EVERYTHING goes wrong in time travel and it is THE BEST.   and then 50 pages before the end of the book,  they are able to come home safely and everyone (including me) cries.

 

I love the Back to the Future movies.  I grew up with them, I was the perfect age when they came out. Michael J Fox is so puppy dog adorable.

 

I don’t remember which Connie Willis book this was in (To Say Nothing of the Dog, maybe?), but a bunch of historians at Oxford are going back in time to all different temporal locations, and it’s suggested that a particular historian go back to a particular time, and the immediate response is “No. he’s black. that era is a 10 for him, it wouldn’t be safe.”.

I’ve thought about that sentence a lot.  Time travel isn’t safe for black people.  That historian couldn’t do his literal job, he wasn’t allowed to do the job he had studied for, because it wasn’t safe for him to go places, so they didn’t let him for his own safety.  Um, that super sucks.

A lot of the first time travel books and time travel movies I saw were white guys doing time travel. it was the 80s, i was limited to the movies my parents took me to, what was on TV, and what is in the youth section at the library.

the first time I read a time travel book where it was a woman who went back in time by herself,  there is an invasion and she and one of her female neighbors are raped.  the next time I read a time travel  book where a woman went back in time by herself, for a while I was wondering “how is she going to protect herself against being raped? is time travel safe for her?”

i love time travel (no shit), so I wonder, would time travel be safe for me?  I am a short woman.   Pretend time travel was real. If i went back in time to the  1700s, would i be safe?  would I be able to defend myself if someone tried to rape me?   A lot of fantasy and historical fiction and time travel novels have taught me that women who are alone are simply put, not safe and shouldn’t expect to be safe. Sure, I guess I could go all protein shake and go to the gym 2 hours a day and turn into a five foot tall forty year old body builder, and then, sure, I could probably, maybe physically defend myself? if the guy was less than 250 lbs?

just like the black guy in that Connie Willis book, what eras and/or decades would be safe for me to go to?    White guys can go back in time with no worries,  but it’s dangerous for women and black people.

that’s problematic.

(and yes, I know plenty of you are saying “Andrea. this isn’t a big deal, why are you worried about it? this is just fiction, why are you making a big deal about it?”  Because when you say “why are you making a big deal?”, what I hear is “why are you wasting my time with something that is unimportant to me”. because my experience in my life is different than yours, that’s why.  because books affect me differently than they affect you, that’s why.  And because sometimes it’s a good thing to ask someone “hey, what do you think about this”, and actually, fucking listen to what they have to say without shutting them down as soon as they say something that is outside your experience)

time travel is still my fave.  Will I read the shit out of time travel books and acknowledge that they are problematic? YEP!

are there books where non-white-men travel in time? There sure are!  will i still watch Back to the Future? sorrynotsorry YES i love those movies!

am i having a shitty couple of weeks right now?  well actually, yes.

 

 

 

I talked briefly about this graphic novel the other day,  and now I’m gonna talk about it some more!  20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa was serialized between 1999 and 2006.  This is worth buying the omnibus editions, each one is around $18 and includes three-ish volumes.

 

 

think back to your childhood.  Did you and your friends have a secret hide out? maybe a treehouse, or behind a garden shed?  Did you come up with play acting adventures with your friends? Maybe one of you (or all of you!) were superheroes?

 

I’ll come back to that in a minute, but first I want to talk about the art style of 20th Century Boys.    Urasawa’s art style is fairly realistic,  and there is a ton of detail.  Much of the first volume takes place out doors,  there is just the right amount of detail (in my opinion) of the landscape – backyards, trees,  walking through a shopping district, etc.   There are tons of references to 60s and 70s rock music, and to world events that happened during that time.   I don’t know all the correct art terms, I just know that I like this style a lot!  With all the detail, you can reread over and over,  and you’ll always find something that you didn’t notice the last time.

here is a nice piece of full color art at the beginning of the first volume:

 

 

ok, back to what I started with:

sounds like you had a similar childhood to Kenji and his friends. In the late 1960s, their “hang out” was a spot in an empty field.   They made up stories, listened to rock music on a portable radio, dreamt of joining a rock band, and did all the normal silly things that 12 year olds do.  They even came up with a secret symbol:

 

I think readers of any age will enjoy 20th Century Boys, but I think readers of a certain age,  say, 40 years and older, will especially appreciate it.  Our childhood memories are fuzzy,  we know we hid in tree houses, or in alleyways, we know we made up stories with our friends, but it’s been enough years that we don’t remember the specifics.

 

In the first volume, most of the story line takes place in the late 90s.  Kenji is grown up and is managing his family’s convenience store. He’s still friends with Keroyon and few of his other childhood friends, but he’s completely lost touch with Donkey and Yukiji.  When Kenji learns that Donkey has committed suicide, he goes to the funeral in shock.  Why would happily married Donkey jump off a building to his death? And why did Donkey sent Kenji a letter right before he died?

 

A bunch of friends who are drawn back together after one of them kills themself, and they have to remember what they did as children?   This sounds like it could be a Stephen King novel, doesn’t it?

 

But the world doesn’t stop because some rando jumped off a building.  Thanks to the newspapers sold in Kenji’s store, we get a view of strange happenings in the world – religious cults,  unsolved disapearances, terrorism, mysterious diseases,  and even stranger,  more and more people are using the symbol that Kenji thought was their childhood secret.

Read the rest of this entry »

What am I going to be doing this three day, holiday weekend?

READING!

and watching the French version of The Circle

and playing Stardew Valley.

but lots of reading, I promise!

I recently finished the amazing and enjoyable Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, review hopefully coming soon!

On the tails of that book, I read the first volume of 20th Century Boys, a Japanese graphic novel by Naoki Urasawa. The story follows a group of friends, they are in their late 20s now and have drifted apart, but current events force them to reunite and remember what they did when they were kids. The art is fantastic, the characters have depth,  my husband and I enjoyed this story so much we bought the next few volumes!

 

I’m slowly making my way through an eArc that I am very excited for, and very passionate about! The book doesn’t come out till August, so maybe I could put that aside for a week or two to read one of these babies?

 

I’ve got an eArc of Benjanun’s Sriduangkaew’s Machine’s Last Testament as well,  it is set in the same world as And Shall Machines Surrender.  NICE!

 

and because I don’t have enough reading that I’m dreaming of, my copy of I Am Legend leapt of the shelf,  put itself on the coffee table, and is practically insisting on being read. What are you gonna do, you know?

 

So that’s it for me this week,  what have you been up to?  What have you been reading lately?

This weekend, I attended my first fully virtual SFF convention, Flights of Foundry.  In fact, at the moment that I started drafting this blog post,  panels were still happening!

 

 

Fresh from the experience, I can say without a doubt- if you have the opportunity to attend and online convention, DO IT.   Flights of Foundry had a suggested donation, but you could register for free.  I did a donation for my registration, and for how much enjoyment I got out of my experience (and no travel expenses!), I plan to send them another donation to show my gratitude.

 

Are there some negatives to a virtual convention? yes, but in my opinion the positives far outweigh the negatives.    Keep in mind I have no idea what technological things were happening behind the scenes,  what I do know is that the volunteers kept the Go To Meeting feeds and Zoom feeds running smoothly,  and there were Discord channels for chats and asking questions in panels (I didn’t register for discord, so I can’t really speak to that).

 

The panels and presentations were done through Go To Meeting, and audience members could hop in an out as they chose,  and the readings, workshops, and other smaller events were done through Zoom. (If you’ve not used those platforms before:  GoToMeeting means the audience can see the speakers but the speakers can’t usually see the audience, and in Zoom everyone has the opportunity to see everyone else, if you have 9 people it looks like The Brady Bunch grid.)

 

The vast majority of panels had sound and video,  but that didn’t mean I was shackled to my desk while I was listening to a panel.  The experience felt like watching a live twitch stream,  or listening to a live radio show.  I was listening on a wireless headset,  so I could wear my headset and walk away from my desk.

 

Here are some  more positives, and this list is long!

– Didn’t have to pay for a hotel room,  didn’t have to put shoes on, didn’t have to wait for a table at a restaurant at dinnertime, didn’t have to drive anywhere or worry about flights or worry about traveling/bad weather. all the stresses and costs of travel were gone.  I literally attended in my pajamas. (and at this point, haven’t we all forgotten how to wear shoes?)

– Registering and getting into the live feeds was super easy.  This convention must have had some tech wizards working behind the scenes!

– Panelists seemed more relaxed, since they also didn’t have to rush around a hotel looking for their next panel room.

– if I’d thought to use two devices, i technically could have listened to two panels at the same time!

– I could fidget to my hearts content because no one could see me.  Those chairs in the panel rooms at hotels? my legs are short, those things are hell for me, I’d rather stand or sit on the floor (and have, on occasion). I was listening to the panels on a wireless headset, so I could walk around the living room, go to the kitchen for snacks, do some light excersize. I could even *whisper* leave a panel that wasn’t what I expected, without being disruptive,  or hop into a currently going panel, without being disruptive.

– not only could I hop in and out and fidget without distracting others, I didn’t have the distractions of an in-person convention. No loud panel rooms next door, no squeaky panel room doors opening and closing constantly, no disruptive audience members.

– I saw that many panels were recorded so people can watch them later. I didn’t register for this service, but I saw that some panels had closed captioning for the hearing impaired!

 

the few negatives were:

– no people watching.  I just had to be OK with the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to people watch or compliment people on their outfits.  I do love me some people watching.

– no socializing, no parties, no “omg how are you!”‘s in the hallways, no random encounters, no thanking people after a panel for doing such a great panel or a wonderful reading, no autograph session. Had I registered for the discord chat rooms, i could have had a more social experience. But also? no awkward social encounters either!

– there was something about a Dealers Room, but I didn’t explore this.

 

I “registered” for a ton of panels ahead of time, which meant those showed up as super convenient links in my email that morning.  But like every con I’ve ever attended, I made last minute decisions about what panels I would go to, and ended up skipping some that I expected to attend.  I did love getting those links on Saturday and Sunday,  they were really convenient!

For those of you who enjoy After Con Reports,  here’s some very brief comments on some of the panels I attended.

Read the rest of this entry »

I still have a few unread Kage Baker short stories, and I’m going to leave them unread for the time being.  I want there to still be some uncovered gems for me to find, in the future.

so I’m reading some other stuff!

it’s strange, I’m reading two fiction books at the same time right now, and they are SO drastically different. they’re both fantastic, but wow, I couldn’t have picked two books that were more different if I tried!

I’m reading Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and this book is so cute! Like, I know it wasn’t supposed to be a meet-cute book, it’s supposed to be a heroine’s journey through Mayan mythology book, but It. Is. Adorable. and I kinda need adorable right now?  The premise is that Casiopea starts in a sort of Cinderella situation. She’s living with family who treats her like garbage because the family didn’t approve of her father. They treat her like a servant, a male cousin treats her really, really poorly.  While the family is out one day, Casiopea opens the strange trunk in her father’s bedroom. And who is imprisoned inside the trunk? Hun-Kame, the Lord of Xibalba.  He was imprisoned by his brother, Vucub-Kame, who wanted to rule Xibalba.

 

is it terrible, that my only knowledge thus far, of Xibalba, comes from the movie The Road to El Dorado?  Yes, that is terrible.

I’m about half way through Gods of Jade and Shadow, and like I said, this book is so adorable.  It’s easy to read,  fun, perfectly paced, and the Mayan Gods are powerful, otherworldly, and yet constrained by the limitations built into their personas. Y’all know I love a story where a god is limited by their own myth, that because they are trapped in a specific myth, they have no free will. Also? Hun-Kame has no idea, whatsoever, how to talk to girls, and his conversations with Casiopea are adorable and often hilarious.  If you are looking for a fantasy adventure set in 1920’s Mexico, something easy on the eyes, and super fun to read, this is a book for you.

 

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that takes a lot of energy to read, is #AllTheFeels #AllTheIntruigue , #AllTheHolyShitWHAT , bucket of political theory and a smidge of gruesome,  allow me to introduce you to Seth Dickson’s Masquerade trilogy (at least, I think it will only be 3 books, but who knows).  This is that book, where the young accountant Baru Cormorant crashes the economy because she can,  draws traitors and revolutionaries out because she can,  and executes the woman she loves because reasons.  These books read like the cruelest game of world politics ever played.  they are relentlessly brutal, and I can’t stop reading them!!

 

I was lucky enough to get an eArc of the third book in the series, The Tyrant Baru Cormorant (comes out in August, I think?), and my eyeballs don’t do well with e-books (oh hai, tension headache!), so I’m only reading it for short bursts, but holy shit is this book good.  it is heavy, and it is beautiful, the prose is gorgeous, and the characterization is even better, and I want to save everyone.  and omfg, the C!  I really like how this series made me look at colonialism and imperialism.  These aren’t message books, there is no preachiness, these books are just people trying to live their lives and minimize the compromises they have to make to survive after the colonizers show up. This series isn’t for everyone, but I really, really, fucking love it.  it isn’t grim, but it is brutal.  Did you read Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy?  remember the brutal brainwashing (but it’s for the good of our survival!), think that, but times infinity.

 

one of the ways I’m getting through all this current stuff that we are all going through together, is by watching what feels like eight billion hours of Netflix.  seriously, Netflix could double their price and I’d still be ripping them off.

 

A co-worker recommended the Netflix reality show The Circle, so I gave it a try.

I’m not usually a reality TV watcher, but and I am addicted to The Circle!

Yes, this show sounds totally stupid, and it is totally stupid, but stupid TV is a balm. don’t judge me.

And? the episodes are about 55 minutes, which means I can get an excellent work out in on our exercise bike while I’m watching an episode.

ok, so the premise:

8 people move into their own apartments in what I’m calling “the circle apartment building”. They are quite nice, fully furnished one bedroom apartments.  The players each set up a profile, with 1-2 photos of themselves, and a short bio.

 

Some people are here to make friends,  some people are here to flirt with everyone. Everyone is here to win.

 

the players can ONLY communicate through chat rooms and private chats with each other.  This is their only way to get to know each other.  It’s like very limited facebook feed, I guess?   They secretly rate the other players,  and the top two rated people become the Influencers,  and it is the two Influencers who decide who gets voted off the island.

 

In chats, if you focus your attention two much on just a few people,  and none of those people become the Influencers, you risk that the Influencers haven’t had a chance to bond with you, and you’ll get Blocked (sent home).

 

If you are an influencer, and you get rid of someone everyone else really liked, you risk that you will get blocked next time.

 

The winner gets a ton of money

 

twists:

everytime someone gets voted off the island, a new player joins The Circle. New players usually get to spy on what’s going on before everyone else gets to meet them over chat.

 

Nearly everyone is totally trying to manipulate everyone else.

 

the fact that everyone is stuck in their apartments, with occasional solo trips to the rooftop garden, feels like something I can totally relate to right now!

 

a whole buncha these peeps are catfishing everyone else.  and it is WILD to watch them totally out of their league.   they all keep guessing, so far, incorrectly who the catfish is.  I’m wondering if we’ll get to the end, and all the remaining players will be catfishes?

 

I’m on episode 6, and having a blast.  We recently found out about Sammie’s family,  I nearly cried along with Joey when he saw that video prize, I died laughing with Seaburn didn’t know how to respond in GirlChat with Sean,  and I am #TeamShooby all the way.

 

The first episode of The Circle went out of the way to make every player look like a self centered asshole,  I appreciated that as the show went on,  people got to be more of themselves.  I don’t feel like anyone is an asshole now.

 

I like how real some of these people are being, with complete strangers.  Even the catfishes, in private they are genuine.  I don’t think anyone wants to deliberately hurt anyone else’s feelings. And most people are saying really honest things in the chat, things that make them vulnerable.

 

It’s like having that wall,  knowing the only things other people will ever know about you is the specific things you choose to tell them,  that you can be chatty in a chatroom or not . . .  it almost become armor. Almost becomes protection against pain or embarrassment.    (and I get it. there are things I say on this blog and other public places on the internet that I would never say to the people who are closest to me. it’s weird, right?)

 

and since people feel safer, they feel like they have a buffer/some armor, they are more likely to show their vulnerable side?  Even when they planned to come on this show to be a manipulator.

 

but it’s also like – what would you do win all that money? What wouldn’t you do?

 

I’m really enjoying this stupid show.   I feel like a shit,  because back in the day when reality shows were super new, and the only ones going were Survivor and The Bachelorette, I made fun of people who watched those, because i thought the shows were stupid, and if you watched them, you must be stupid too.

 

hey peeps who I was an asshole to about reality TV when I was 25 years old, I know this apology is 15 years too late, but I’m sorry I was judgy to you about TV shows you enjoyed.  Because I get it now.

 

 

 

Good news everybody!

 

Good news everybody!

If you’ve been seeing my posts and thinking to yourself “jeez, when is she gonna shut up about this Company series, I don’t even know where to freakin’ start with these damn books”,  you can start with The Empress of Mars!

 

ok, so I KNOW all the suggested reading orders put Empress of Mars near the end of the series, but you should read it near the beginning!!!

– It functions perfectly as a stand alone. Never read a Kage Baker before? start with Empress of Mars!

– omg it is HILARIOUS,  like Anvil of the World hilarious.  the bad translator scene? I was laughing so hard I drooled on myself.

– If you recognize some characters from elsewhere in the series, that’s ok, and if you don’t, that’s ok too.  the book isn’t about those people anyway.

Also? It’s kinda better if you read The Empress of Mars before you know about some end of series stuff that happens.  I wish I’d read it before I knew all that other stuff.

The Empress of Mars is a gift that gives twice – it was originally a novella, AND then it got expanded  into a novel!  I’ve not read the novella, so I don’t know what parts of the book it was.

What the heck is this book about?

Mary Griffith went to Mars for adventure!  She went For Science!

And when the British Arean Company decided they didn’t her discoveries anymore, they fired her. With no income, she had no way to purchase tickets home for her family.  So Mary opened  a bar.  The very first bar on Mars, as a matter of fact.  A friendly stop for ice haulers,  a save haven for a Heretic,  a place where everyone ends up.  Mary’s bar,  The Empress of Mars, is where you go for news and gossip, local brew and decent food.  And when it’s literally the only bar in town . . .

(I really did want Brick and the Heretic to have a happy ever after, didn’t you?)

The Empress of Mars has electronic bees,  crazy truckers,  idiot bureaucrats, kind fiancees, gamblers and con-artists,  two gentlemen who you just might recognize,  tips for starting a business on Mars, and one very large, very perfect diamond.  It’s and old fashioned western frontier town adventure story, on Mars.

It’s a fun feel good book and a fast read.

I wish I’d read it earlier in the series.

The only crime the Empress of Mars ever committed was being read immediately after I read The Sons of Heaven,  and really any book would have been a let down after reading that.

Also? now I’m reading the next book (the last novel? I think?) in the series, Not Less Than Gods.  It’s all about Edward, who I still think is a total asshole for all the shit he pulled in the Sons of Heaven. I am not excited about reading a book that is entirely about him.

What can I say about Not Less than Gods, since I’m about 100 pages in?  The writing is glorious, the side-characters are a hoot, I love the cover art.  Edward is an asshole.

We’re in the home stretch now!  Yes, I’m talking about Kage Baker’s Company series, a series that spans all (literally, all) of human history,  a story of romance, star crossed lovers, betrayal, immortality, the best of intentions, the longest game in the history of ever, some of the best historical fiction you’ll ever read, black humor and sarcasm, and of course, time travel.

 

the most unbreakable rule of time travel being that recorded history can not be changed.

but what about those idyllic afternoons where no one wrote down what happened?

and what the person writing the stuff down, what if they, um, missed some stuff?

if the future is known, because the Temporal Concordance has all of recorded history, what does that do to Mendoza’s free will?

Doesn’t that sound like the most fascinating thing ever?    The Company books are my ideal binge read.  I’m stuck at home for a while, so I’m reading comfort books, stuff that will keep my attention, stuff I really want to read.

ok, so there is plenty of discussion on the proper reader order for this series.   Do you read it in publishing order? Do you read the main Mendoza and Joseph novels first and then go back and read the  novellas short stories later? As time travel ramps up, and things become wibbly wobbly timey wimey, it stops making sense to read these in any kind of chronological order.   I’m using the reading order list from Goodreads.  I’m missing some of the novellas in the middle, but hey, I’ll be rereading this series and/or dipping my toes in again in the future, so there’s plenty of opportunity to pick up those missing books.

 

I’ve been blogging my way through the series.  these aren’t book reviews, they are old fashioned blog entries, where I’m talking about what I’m reading, what else I’m up to, what I’m watching on TV (lots of Star Trek: Discovery), what I’m making for dinner (lots of home made bread), how I’m doing (it’s very quiet outside), etc.

 

Here’s the posts that have gone up so far, and the titles I’ve talked about:

 

It is sorta like Outlander meets Twilight, minus the WerewolvesIn the Garden of Iden #1 and Sky Coyote (#2)

One non-sequiter after anotherSky Coyote #2

Books to Escape IntoMendoza in Hollywood #3

Who is Writing this Story, Anyway?The Graveyard Game #4 and The Life of the World to Come #5

The Children of the CompanyThe Children of the Company #6

Whiskey and Book Club Ep 1The Machine’s Child #7,

 

I have finished Gods and Pawns #7.5, and Rude Mechanicals #7.75.  Both of those books are short stories that were published  in Asimov’s and other magazines, and give a lot of background on characters, and show some other adventures.  In my opinion, about half of Gods and Pawns is required for the big picture, and tbh you could skip the other half and skip Rude Mechanicals and be OK.  are all of these stories enjoyable and beautiful written and full of snark and humor?  hell yeah they are!  If you missed them (like, if you couldn’t find a copy of the book), will you still be able to follow the main story? Abso-freaking-lutely.

I really loved the first story in Gods and Pawns, where Mendoza and Lewis spend a week in ancient Central America. Mendoza is, of course, obsessed with figuring out the super compost, and Lewis is mistaken for a God’s servant.  You know how it’s easy to assume that ancient peoples weren’t as smart as we are today, because they don’t have steam engines and computers and airplanes and ipads?  This story turns that theory on it’s head.  the family that Mendoza and Lewis meet,  these people know exactly what they’re doing, they know why and how to do it, and most importantly they know how to spin science as religion/magic.

The Kalugin story was hard to read. He’s talking about a global plague. I nearly put the book down, didn’t finish it, and just went right to the next novel. I don’t want to read anything about sickness right now.

Rude Mechanicals was (please don’t kill me) just okay.  Was it fun? absolutely. Will I do just about anything to hang out with Joseph and Lewis? omg hell yes!  Believe it or not, I think Rude Mechanicals was the first Company anything I ever read, way back when.  I had no idea what the hell was going on, but I knew whatever this was, I liked it, and I wanted more.  I think my beef with Rude Mechanicals is that I’m getting itchy for “what happens next”, and while this super fun romp through 1930s Hollywood is very fun, it doesn’t move the story forward.   In a few years, when I want to dip my toes into this series, without getting sucked into the main story line, Rude Mechanicals will probably be the perfect novella to read!

Which brings us to The Sons of Heaven.  I’m nearly half way through The Sons of Heaven and holy shit is there buckets upon buckets of fuckupery happening in this book!  just some absolutely trippy shit.   Aside from that,  this novel is exactly the dessert buffet I’d been wishing for – it’s all my favorite characters, together at last.  And Lewis!   He’s like the  Neville Longbottom of the series.  He’s meek, he’s quiet,  but he’s going to save everyone, isn’t he?

At this point in the game (and we’re getting pretty close to end game), nearly all the factions are spying on each other,  the mortals of the 24th century mistakenly think they run the place,  and no one is asking the important question of “where the hell is Mendoza and Alec?”.  I also want to know – the story line with Lewis and Tiara, when exactly is this taking place?

Hard to talk about much else without giving away epic spoilers!

 

 

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.


Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,511 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on WordPress.com

Archives

Categories

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.