the Little Red Reviewer

Us book reviewers love to joke about our out of control ToBeRead piles. We post photos of our TBRs online, we have the “priority” stack, the “read later” stack, the “these are the books I want to read when I have time” stack, which we never get to, because ARCs  keep the first two stacks a few feet high.  We enjoy discussing how many books we want to read, need to read, hope to find time to read. In the blogosphere, this is a thing.

 

I think we joke about it so much, because deciding what book to read next can be paralyzing. And what better way to deal with that stress than to laugh about it?  There are so many choices, so many obligations, it’s easy to get analysis paralysis.  Will you pick up the book you promised the publicist you’d review? Will you pick up the book from your favorite author? Will you pick up the book that your best friend said “hey, I think you’d like this, read it so we can talk about it”. Will you pick up a comfort read that you’ve read a million times but it’s the only thing you feel like reading right now?

 

Fellow Book Bloggers, how do you decide what book to read next?  How do you get past the analysis paralysis? Do you choose your next book based on what you want to read, what you should be reading, what you think other people want you to read?

 

To tell the truth, I’m jealous of organized book bloggers. They are organized. they have a system. they have spreadsheets, and a review publishing schedule. They read books in a particular order, and if they deviate from that order, they don’t tell anyone.

 

Organization is like broccoli, or getting up at the same time every day. I know it’s good for me, I know i should make it part of my life, and sometimes I do for a few weeks at a time. And then I realize that shit is not for me.

 

Don’t get me wrong, i love the excitement of all the TBR photos online, the Mailbox Monday posts, i’m just not organized enough, or committed enough to actually follow through on it.  All those posts I’ve done where I say “Look at all these books I’m going to review soon!” Yep, I’m lucky if I review a third of them in the next few months.

 

I am not organized when it comes to deciding what book to read next.  Nope.  But I am organic.

 

My To Be Read pile is the living room coffee table, and the stacks of book that are underneath it. The corner of the kitchen table, too.

Next to the bed, is what I call the “book graveyard”. Books I picked up, started reading before bed, put down, and didn’t care enough about to ever pick up again.

 

But how do I decide what to read next?

I read next whatever strikes my fancy. Maybe it’s something that caught my eye at a used bookstore.  Maybe it’s something a friend lent or gave me, maybe I got talking to the author at a book event, maybe a bookseller friend or librarian friend recommended the book to me, maybe the cover art got my attention. Maybe it’s the newest book from my favorite author, maybe it’s an ARC that just arrived, maybe it’s an ARC that’s been sitting under the table for 6 months and hit bookstore shelves 3 months ago, maybe it’s a random older title I’m finally getting around to, maybe it’s something a friend recommended. Maybe it’s  a comfort read I’m re-reading for the 2nd or 10th time.  There is no logic to any of this.

 

My decisions about what to read next are completely random, organic, and unorganized.  If I really liked the book I just finished, I will often look for something similar to read next. If I DNF’d a book, I will often look for something completely different as a palette cleanser. Except for the ARCs that are floating around, I choose what to read next with not a care in the world that I have a book review blog.

 

Your turn. How do you decide what to read next?

 

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Hello friends!  Yesterday the “Esen the Web Shifter” party began with Who and What Esen Is,  the Big Idea behind her, how much fun Julie Czerneda had with writing the Web Shifter trilogy (and oh yeah, a big huge give away for the entire trilogy!), and more!

Today, I can finally talk about the gorgeous new cover art for Julie Czerneda’s newest Esen e-novella The Only Thing to Fear, and her forthcoming hardback Web Shifter novel that begins a new series, Search Image!  I’m too excited to talk straight, so I’m just going to let Julie Czerneda take over and talk about the most Esen cover art ever, Phil the bust,  nervous diplomats, and most exciting of all, a brand new Esen novel that starts a brand new series!   oh, there’s another give away too!!

 

Esen’s Here!

By Julie Czerneda

 

Cover Art by Matthew Stawicki, novella release date: Sept 4th

Esen has been featured on every cover, but until now, not as herself. Behold Esen-alit-Quar the Web-being in all her blue blobness, courtesy the talents of Matthew Stawicki!

My information for Matt was, to be honest, sparse. A blue teardrop. Not anthropomorphic. No cheerful chubby belly. No arms, face, toes, nose . . . he did it! Esen’s perfect. I love this cover. I love how she’s there, taking it all in — in this form, her senses aren’t ours. They are potent. You’ll see.

What’s inside The Only Thing to Fear? A special e-novella from DAW Books that resumes Esen’s adventures shortly after the end of Hidden in Sight. (You really should read that one, if you want to get the whole OOMPH, plus meet Busfish—and Changing Vision, because there are Ganthor in an art gallery. I can’t help myself, I love them all and want you to as well.)

In this e-novella, you meet a new character, Evan Gooseberry, diplomat-in-training. Evan’s working through his fear of almost everything, determined to make the universe a better place, but why do aliens have to have SPIDERLEGS? Poor Evan faces a crisis in his first posting and only Esen-alit-Quar can help save the day. During street theatre and glittersweat.

But wait . . . there’s more!

I’m delighted to share with you the spectacular cover for Esen’s new novel, new series, and first hardcover! Toss the Glitter!

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photo credit Roger Czerneda Photography

My friends,  it is my honor to be hosting Julie Czerneda today (and tomorrow!).  Julie’s science fiction starts with biology, asks a wild  biology “what if” question, and fills the answer with science, more science, humor, aliens, and fantastic characters.   Way back when, she wrote a science fiction trilogy featuring the shape shifter Esen.  Esen discovers humans, and well, erm, to tell you anymore would spoil the best parts!  This trilogy was recently lovingly reprinted in trade paperback, and there’s a new novella coming out this autumn, and OH YEAH a whole new Esen novel, also out this autumn!

Today and tomorrow feature Give aways!  Cover reveals! Behind the scenes! Inside jokes!  but before we get to all that goodness:

Julie on Amazon

Julie’s fan page on Facebook

About the author:

For over twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s written fantasy too, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Julie’s edited/co-edited numerous award-winning anthologies of SF/F, most recently SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Out this fall is an all-original anthology written by fans of her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis. Her finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, was released in 2017. This fall will also see the return of her most beloved character, Esen the webshifter, in Search Image.

 

 

 Esen’s Back!

by Julie Czerneda

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Fans of her Blobness! New-to-her Readers!

It gives me the biggest of grins to mark the return and perhaps introduce to you my favourite character of all, Esen-alit-Quar. Esen for short, Es in a hurry or between friends.

In honour of the occasion, we’re throwing a two day cover release party!  Thanks, Andrea! Thanks DAW Books!

Today, I’ll tell you a bit about Esen and why she’s so beloved. And fun. And remarkable.

Tomorrow, you’ll see, for the very first time, not one, but TWO NEW COVERS! Really, it’s almost too much fun. Nah. There’s never too much fun.

Here’s a sneak peek.

But wait, there’s more! GIVEAWAYS! Details below, but my thanks to DAW Books for not only keeping Esen’s stories in print, but in doing these gorgeous Trade Editions, released just last year! In stores all over.

Cover art by Luis Royo

 

So Who Is Esen? Or What?

Short answer? A blob of blue, shaped like a teardrop. Who happens to be a semi-immortal shapeshifter. Who has really good intentions…but is working on her life skills.

Writing Esen’s attempts to protect life in the universe–or at least keep it civil–makes me happy and always has. As it turned out, Esen made you happy too, dear readers. I’ve received more feedback and love from you for the Dear Little Blob than for all my other work combined.

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The Queen Underneath, by Stacey Filak

Release Date:  May 8th 2018

Where I got it: Received review copy from the author (Thanks!)

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You know, I never expected to laugh that much at a brothel scene. Quite the happy surprise!

 

When Gemma’s adoptive mother and mentor Melnora dies, Gemma will become Queen of the Under.  When Prince Tollan’s father dies, Tollan will become King of Above. Neither Gemma nor Tollan are ready to lose their parents, but we don’t always get what we want, do we?

 

A sort-of retelling of Sleeping Beauty,  The Queen Underneath showcases fully developed characters who leap off the page, snarky dialog, vibrant world building, tons of show don’t tell, and inspiring adult relationships.  Some really great sex scenes, too!

 

In author Stacey Filak’s debut novel, Gemma is the heir apparent of the Underworld, the world of thieves and prostitutes, of daytime drinking, picking locks,  and freedom. Gemma has everything she could ever want – the earned respect of her followers, best friends in the right places, and she’s just waiting for the right time to tell her lover Devery that she’s pregnant.  Until Melnora took sick, Gemma was on her way to having it all.

 

Tollan is the crown prince of Above. He thinks he understands what “doing the right thing” means, and he prefers to stay blissfully ignorant of his family’s history and the true powers of the mage women who live at the castle. Things were going halfway decent for him until his father took ill and Tollan was accused of murder by his own brother.

 

With the Queen of Under and the King of Above on death’s door, it’s up to Gemma and Tollan to figure out what’s going on, and who wants all the royals dead. Well, mostly up to Gemma, since Tollan doesn’t have much experience outside the palace.  With the townspeople under a magic sleeping spell, and thorns erupting out of the ground, Gemma doesn’t even yet know who her enemy is, let alone how to stop the civil war on her doorstep. The plot does start out fairly simple, and with every chapter complexities and subtleties are revealed, drawing the reader in further and further.  Tightly plotted, buckets of fun, and sexy as hell, The Queen Underneath is an compelling story of of adventure, family bonds, political intrigue, wit, and revenge.  And if you don’t finish this book  loving Elam, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore.

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Let me set the scene a little for you:   This past January, at ConFusion, Jerry says he has a novel coming out soon. And of course I say “oh?”

 

He tells me what the book is about.   He tells me the significance of the pre-order announcement and the significance of the book being released on April 19th (hey, that’s today!).  After that conversation, I couldn’t get the idea of this book out of my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about the research that must have gone into this book, what possessed him to write on this particular subject, how he went about writing a cult leader,  the power of faith and religion, and how law enforcement officers attacking civilians is nothing new.

 

I’ve been waiting for the book ever since.

 

Breaking The World is a fast paced alternate history thriller that takes place in Waco, Texas, in the summer of 1993.   Ringing any bells?  Does this photo look familiar?

(I swiped this photo from Jerry’s website)

 

Breaking the World asks the question “What if David Koresh was right, and the world really was ending?”

 

Jerry was kind enough to let me ask him all sorts of questions, most of which are a variation of “wait,  what?  but, how? and dude, why??”.   Because I really did want to know why would someone write a novel about the Branch Davidians.  Is it easier to research something like this now,  because more than 20 years have passed?  Did Jerry’s Google Search history get him on any no-fly lists?   I had a bazillion questions.  Like I said, Jerry is very kind.

 

Just joining us?  Click here to read my review of Breaking the Worldclick here to order the book directly from the publisher.  Click here to visit Jerry’s website.

 

Let’s get to the interview!  I promise, no (ok, only a few teeny) spoilers ahead! Not to mention insider info about the significance of names, social media to the rescue, the process of writing a non-believer who is stuck in a religious cult, how people have been reacting to this book, and that even when history is written by the victors, a darker truth is often hiding right beneath the surface.

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Little Red Reviewer: I was fourteen years old when “Waco” happened. Newsmedia was very different in 1993, and all I remember is seeing Koresh’s photo on TV, and lots of footage of burning buildings in the Texas sun. (CNN existed, we didn’t have cable TV) I may have been too young to understand, but more likely I just wasn’t paying attention and was too busy being a teenager to care. Fast forward 25 years, and we have multiple 24 hour news stations, tons of social media, and the ability to instantly put live videos online. If the Branch Davidian stand off happened in an age of smartphones and social media, would things have gone down differently? How might both sides use social media to their advantage? In any stand-off situation, do you think social media is a help, or a hindrance?


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Breaking the World, by Jerry Gordon

Release date:  April 19th 2018

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Apex*!!)

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In 1993 I was fourteen years old. I was excited about high school, excited about boys, was obsessed with the movie Jurassic Park,  I was finally old enough to listen to Nirvana and Aerosmith. We read The Odyssey in 9th grade, and I fell in love with mythology, epic stories, and oracles.  It was a good year to be fourteen. My parents watched the evening news religiously as I flitted in and out of the living room, disappointed that I couldn’t watch sitcoms or Star Trek because they were watching boring news.  I remember some guy’s photo being on TV a lot, aviator sunglasses, wavy brown hair. He just looked like some guy. I remember seeing footage of a flat landscape and a building that was on fire. I didn’t realize I should be paying attention.

 

The guy with the sunglasses was David Koresh, and the burning building was the Branch Davidian Church in Waco, Texas. What would become known as “Waco”, involved a 51 day standoff between the Branch Davidians and the FBI. Both sides were convinced they were right. Over 70 people were killed in the fire. And all I remember was some guy’s photo on TV.

 

Taking a cue from the alternate history author Tim Powers,  Jerry Gordon has to fit (nearly) everything that happens in Breaking the World  into the historical framework of what we think we know about the siege on the Branch Davidian Church, locked into the timeline of when and how the FBI surrounded and tear gassed the compound, to who escaped and how, to when the fire started, to how many people were inside the compound when it burned.  Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of “Waco”, Breaking the World was officially announced for pre-order on Feb 28th, and will be released on April 19th, lining up exactly with when the siege started and ended.

 

The novel is told from the point of view of Cyrus, a teenager who lives at the compound. Cyrus could care less about religion and god and the end of the world, he could freakin’ care less about David Koresh. But, since David is technically sorta Cyrus’s step dad, the two of them develop and civil relationship where they respect one another, to the point where David asks Cyrus’s advice on a number of occasions. David is softspoken, not always confident, uninterested in attention, and he cares deeply for the people who have come to his church. He believes the seals are beginning to break, and that he needs to keep his people safe.

 

Cyrus and his best friends, Marshal and Rachel, dream of running away together. Marshal grew up at the compound,  but Rachel is a recent arrival. Yeah, there’s plenty of novels in which a handful of fifteen year olds run away, but this isn’t that story. These kids have no money, no way to get to a train or bus station, they don’t know how to drive, they barely have access to a telephone. And remember when this takes place – cell phones weren’t a thing, plenty of adults did not have credit cards that their adventurous children could steal, and payphones were only helpful if you could actually get to one. Leaving Waco is going to have a stay a dream for Cyrus and his friends for a little while longer, because the siege begins in the first chapter of the book.   The three best friends are old enough to understand they may not live through this, and too young to be able to do much about it.

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In no particular order, here are the new books that have come into my house recently. (and this doesn’t even the count the ratty used paperbacks I’ve purchased, the e-book of Mythic Delirium I bought, and other books that friends have let me borrow).  My love for books is happily out of control!

 

What looks good to you?

As they say, if you can read a Steven Brust book, do it.  Witty characters, meaningful snark, well crafted mysteries, subtle clues and references.  I zipped through his newest, Good Guys, last weekend.  Compulsively readable, I need to read it again before I write a review, as I’m sure I missed a ton of good stuff.

You ever wonder what’s really happening when your tummy rumbles? Want to know more than you ever wanted about poop? If you answered Yes to at least one of those questions, Gut is for you.  I was looking for a paperback copy of The Secret Language of Trees, and came across Gut instead (yeah, B&N has zero organization to their science books).  I like knowing how my insides work.

 

Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace comes out in July, it is the sequel to her acclaimed novel Archivist Wasp. I’m a jerk, and never read the first book, but here’s hoping I can just dive right into the new one!

I think I kinda freaked out Jerry Gordon at ConFusion when he said he’d written a novel about David Koresh and I was like “who in their right mind would do that, holy shit  tell me more”.  I’ve been waiting for this ARC to show up in my mailbox ever since, and I started reading it, oh, about 5 minutes after I ripped it out of the envelope.  Breaking the World releases on April 19th, we’ll see if I can get the book finished and a review up before then.

 

In that same envelope with Breaking the World was the April issue of Apex Magazine. Yes, this is available in print now! Subscriptions are reasonable, and it is hella bragging rights for me to walk around with a magazine that I am in. so, yeah. the April issue has an essay from Jerry Gordon, talking all about the behind-the-scenes of Breaking the World. Guess I better come up with some way better interview questions for him. . .

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson is  for my local scifi bookclub. I’m about halfway through and kinda losing the thread. I dig the main character, but am having trouble getting invested in the plot. I think too much is being jammed into too few pages? Anyone read this? What did you think?

 

The Freeze-Frame Revolution comes out in June, and I meant to just read the first chapter or two to get a taste of it, and two days later I was done and wanted to read it again. Review is already in the works, but I figure I better wait till just a little closer to June before posting. Short version of the review? this book is very, very good. Way too much crammed into too few pages, and it works beautifully.  because, you know, Peter Watts.

Rock Manning Goes for Broke by Charlie Jane Anders doesn’t come out till September, so I guess it should sit on the TBR pile (my entire living room is turning into a TBR pile) until the summer. Looks like a fast fun read, maybe sort of Cory Doctorow-ish?

 

One of Us comes out in July, I’m not sure what exactly this is, but the early critical reviews are basically “this book will break you”.

Apocalypse Nyx comes out in July,  so once I finish all the stuff I’ve been dipping my toes into, I better get this one read. June will be hear before you know it!

 

Phoresis by Greg Egan comes out at the end of April.  It’s Egan, so that means it is dense and hard scifi. I’ve dipped my toes into this one, read maybe half of it. There is lots of “let’s science the shit out of this”. What I really need to do is start it again, from the beginning, and take notes. Because, Egan.

Silver Spoon was a happy surprise at B&N. I loved the anime of this, and really, anything by Arakawa is going to be fantastic. I’m interested to see how faithful the anime was to her original manga. The story follows a city boy who doesn’t know what he wants to do for college, so he ends up at an agricultural school, and finds himself surrounded by new friends who grew up on farms. It’s a nice coming of age story.

 

 

well? what looks good to you?  if these books were floating around your house, what would you read first?

 

 

 

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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.
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