the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘reading

It’s been a good week for reading!  A little too good, actually, as I keep wanting to start new books even though I’m enjoying what I’m currently reading.

I finished Pilot X by Tom Merritt, and need to write a review of it.  If you like Doctor Who, you’ll like Pilot X.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been on and off reading The Physician, by Noah Gordon, and can you believe I’m reading a book that is not a scifi or fantasy book!!  Straight up historical fiction, it’s like an Edward Rutherford only way more focused and far more enjoyable to read.  My mom lent me the paperback, and it sat unread until I saw the movie version on Netflix. The movie of The Physician is very good, and they completely smashed up the plot and characters to jam what is a ten year story into a 3 hour movie.  Also? the movie got me interested in reading the book, so mission accomplished. I’m about halfway through the book, and while I am enjoying myself and the book is very readable, I am losing steam.

Peter Watts’ Blindsight is one of my favorite hard scifi novels, and I’ve had a copy of Echopraxia for at least 2 years and I haven’t picked it up until now. What is wrong with me?  Anyways, Echopraxia is a sort of companion novel to Blindsight. Same universe, same time period, but one is not the sequel or prequel of the other.  Now that I’m about 2/3 of the way through Echopraxia,  wow the paranoia and visceral terror is just ramped all the way up!! If like me, you are still trying to get the terrible taste of the movie Prometheus out of your mouth, read some Watts.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, this unassuming volume came into the house by way of loan:

A Requiem for Astounding is part history of the magazine, part love letter to the golden age, and part pure nostalgia.  I come across all these “classic” short stories all over the place, in raggedy “best of” volumes, as reprints, but I have no context for any of it. Here’s hoping this book of essays will give me some much needed context.  I enjoy non-fiction scifi related stuff like this, these older ones are getting near impossible to find!

 

And in the department of new ARCs that have arrived, we have these:

Emerald Circus is a collection of re-imagined fairy tales and includes Yolen’s famous short story “Sister Emily’s Lightship”.  I’m excited for this one, and as it is all short stories that means I can read it a little at a time and not be asking myself “who are these characters again? What were these people doing?”

Like Yolen, Ann Leckie needs no introduction.  Provenance is Leckie’s new novel, out in September. I was not a fan of her famous awards sweeping Ancillary trilogy, but I like what she says on twitter, I respect her editing philosophy, and I’m interested to try Provenance, if only to see how much range her writing has.

I am out of  bookshelves, and there are now stacks of books next to the shelves, stacks that grow taller by the week and are threatening to fall over. I may have to start hiding books under the bed. There is a book cull in my future, that is for sure.

So of course I couldn’t help myself, and bought some more books!

At book club last week, instead of having the whole group read the same book, the club’s organizer put a stack of Hugo award winning authors on the table and told us each to pick something that looked interesting.  I grabbed The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Leguin. I may have read this when I was a kid? But if I did I was too young to understand it.

Over the weekend, I went to one of Michigan’s largest used bookstores (not the largest, but it’s pretty big!!) with a friend, and although I wanted to buy everything, I came home with just a few items. And yes, I got lost in the bookstore.

from the non-fiction rooms

Maximum City is about Mumbai, and the Carl Sagan book is, I’m not 100% sure what it covers but it is sure to be enlightening.  I hope that while I read it I hear Sagan’s comforting voice.

 

And now for the scifi!

Connie Willis is one of those authors I keep meaning to read more from, as I recommend her Doomsday Book novel to anyone who will listen.  I’ve been meaning to read Blackout forever. As for Venus on the Halfshell, I’ve been a Vonnegut since high school. If the book is as entertaining as the opening biographical sketch of Trout, you’ll be hearing me laughing from miles away. For those of you not familiar with Kilgore Trout, I’ll just leave this here.

 

Happy Reading!

 

The three volumes of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy are strewn about my house, like a path of breadcrumbs. Annihilation, the shortest of the three, sits on the coffee table in the living room, positioned in such a way that if you sit on the smushy sofa, you can easily pick it up. There is a still a ring on the coffee table where my coffee mug sat this morning, dark liquid cooling as I slowly read the last few pages of the book. Everyone talks about the tower, the crawler, the border, the colonization. I do too, as those are the physical stars of the book, the things everyone talks about, the things you can point a finger at and be relatively sure that you experienced them in a similar fashion as others. For me, the star of this show is the Biologist. How her relationship with society is the same as her relationship with her tide pools and environs – to observe but not to interfere. That she doesn’t really care what other people do. She is aggressively self sufficient. That she and her husband loved each other, but that their struggles to understand each and meet each other half way was damaging to their relationship. His extrovertedness versus her introverted self sufficiency. Through the lens of his gregariousness, he saw her as walled off and uninterested in sharing her inner self. His experience in Area X allowed him to gain a deeper understanding of her, and she of him. I like that she found something that she was looking for. And maybe her husband did too. The entire story is tense but comforting at the same time. It’s like a giant tide pool or terrarium, where every rock you turn over shows you more you don’t know, which is why you came to explore in the first place. To realize how much you don’t know.

Authority sits on the kitchen table, where I was reading it over coffee this morning. I’ve read this novel before, and I’m only a few pages into it now. What a different feel from Annihilation! The first novel is soft moss, swaying ferns, chirping birds, clouds that come and go in the breeze. Like the biologist, I wonder why everyone is so afraid of what happens in Annihilation. Authority, on the other hand, feels all sharp angles, florescent lights, clicky shoes clattering on metal staircases, knowing everyone is biting their nails. There is plenty of the unknown here too, but no quiet contemplation, no comfort. The tenseness feels like staring at a phone, willing it to ring, but not wanting it to ring. Authority feels like Finch, like you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. From what I recall from my first read, Ghost Bird makes an appearance. Maybe her calmness will comfort me, maybe not.

Acceptance sits on the other end of the kitchen table, opened, but unread. What a terrible fan I am, that I have not yet read Acceptance! I think it because I am not ready, mentally, for this story to end. I do not want Area X to cease being. I want to continue to pick up rocks, turn over starfish, find new tadpoles and thistles. I want there to always be things I don’t know. The idea that every question answered means I have ten more questions is comforting to me, not annoying or frustrating.

It sure is nice to have all three books here, that I can just binge read them right through. The weather is perfect for reading outside.

We opened that bottle of champagne last week. After an anxiety filled three months of unemployment, I am scheduled to start a new full time job next week. It’s been eight years since I had a traditional office job, it’ll be nice to have an office gig again. I’m even looking forward to dealing with rush hour traffic.

It’s time to read Acceptance.  Let’s see where the breadcrumb path leads.

 

 

We have a bottle of champagne still sitting around from New Years, and we’re waiting for a particular special occasion to open it.

 

Do you ever do that with a book?  Save reading it for a special occasion or a certain time, maybe when you’re on vacation, or early Sunday morning when the house is quiet, or maybe you’re waiting until the author announces the release date for the next book in the series, or you want to see the movie or the tv show first.

 

I’m curious – if you wait for a certain occasion or event to read a book, what is the book and why are you waiting for that particular event before you read it?

 

I have a third book in a trilogy that I haven’t read yet. It is a completed trilogy, and I’ve been a fan of this author for many years.  At first, I told myself I was waiting for the author to announce the release date for their next stand alone novel before I finished the trilogy. Well, that has come and gone, and the new book is getting rave reviews. I still haven’t picked up that third book. Now my excuse is that I want to find time to read books 1 and 2 back to back so I can binge read all three over the course of a week or two.  Well, I have the time, and I haven’t done it.

 

I think the real reason I haven’t read the third book is because once I finish the trilogy it will be over. All the lines will have been drawn on the map, the character’s story arcs will come to an end, there won’t be any more exploring to do. If I stay at the end of the 2nd book, I feel like I’m still on the frontier. I can see the end, but it’s a long way off in the distance yet.

 

Next weekend I should really just binge read all three, shouldn’t I?

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I owe ya’ll reviews for Kevin Hearne’s The Purloined Poodle (it was so adorkable! I loved it!) and Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Children (what a disappointment!).  While I was finishing those books up,  the mail man and the UPS guy have been pretty busy bringing me goodies nearly every day this week.  And of course I bought some stuff too.

Currently reading: Territory by Emma Bull

so, what looks good?

shawl-beaulieu

Everfair by Nisi Shawl has been getting a lot of buzz, and Of Sand and Malice Made is a beautiful small format hardcover (this photo doesn’t do either of these books justice, they both have gorgeous cover art!) of prequel stories that take place before his Twelve Kings in Sharakhai.

 

bujold-lansdale

These pretties from Subterranean Press are Penric the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Coco Butternut by Joe R. Lansdale.  I’ve got the first novella in the Bujold series, and yes, Coco is a Hap and Leonard story!

 

starlit-wood

I’m ridiculously excited about The Starlit Wood, and anthology of reimagined fairy tales. I seriously got shivers just looking at the table of contents. It’s like all my favorite authors and all their favorite friends got together to have a party full of awesome.  Retold fairy tales? YES PLEASE.  It’s gonna be tough to finish the Emma Bull with this sitting on the kitchen table . . .  and that’s saying something, since she’s a damn good writer.

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When I pick up a book, I really do pick it up with the intent of finishing it.  But these last 10 days or so, I’ve been having trouble sticking with any one book. I’ll pick something up, read half of it, pick something else up, read 20 pages, pick up an anthology and read two stories…. we’ve all been there. I can’t seem to stick with anything! Years ago, when asked “how do you decide what to read?”, my friend nrlymrtl of Dab of Darkness said she puts a ton of interesting looking books in a comfy reading spot, reads the first 40-50 pages of each one, sees which one grabs her attention, and then she puts the rest down guilt-free.

I took five books that have been sitting on my To Be Read stack, and did the same. I read 50 pages of each (or at least attempted to), and one or two really stood out as books that If i continue reading, I’m gonna finish.  the books were:

50 pages

Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey – Thomas Dunne Books, June 2016

Way Down Dark by J.P Smythe – Quercus Books, Oct 2016

A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh – Quercus Books, April 2016

Dead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire by Joe R Lansdale – Subterranean Press, Nov 2016

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer – Tor Books, May 2016

 

Well? How did it go? Did 5 books 50 pages help me figure out what to read next?  LOL, at least this is a spoiler free post, since the events I talk about in these books happen in the first 50 pages and I have no idea what happens next!

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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?


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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.