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Sat, Aug. 4th, 2012, 11:39 am
calico_reaction: July Review Round-Up



Here are the reviews posted during July. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of books I read in July, but rather the books I had the time to review before month's end.

1) Ken Liu: The Man Who Ended History: Excellent ***
2) Heidi Ruby Miller: Ambasadora: No Rating
3) Leigh Bardugo: Shadow and Bone: Worth Reading, with Reservations
4) Elizabeth Wein: Code Name Verity: My Precious
5) Grant Morrison: WE3: The Deluxe Edition: Worth Reading, with Reservations
6) Mira Grant: Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box: Good Read ***
7) James S.A. Corey: Leviathan Wakes: Couldn't Put It Down
8) Mira Grant: San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats: Good Read ***
9) Bill Willingham: Fables: Deluxe Edition: Book 5: Good Read
10) Jo Walton: Among Others: Worth Reading, with Reservations
11) Stina Leicht: Of Blood and Honey: Worth Reading, with Reservations
12) Rae Carson: The Shadow Cats: Good Read ***
13) Cherie Priest: Ganymede: Good Read

*** = short fiction

As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

Wed, Jul. 4th, 2012, 06:47 am
calico_reaction: June Review Round-Up



Here are the reviews posted during June. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of books I read in June, but rather the books I had the time to review before month's end.

1) Paul Cornell: The Copenhagen Interpretation: It's a Gamble ***
2) Mira Grant: Blackout: Good Read
3) Rachel Swirsky: Fields of Gold: Worth Reading, with Reservations ***
4) Leigh Bardugo: The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale: Good Read ***
5) Brad R. Torgersen: Ray of Light: Worth Reading, with Reservations ***
6) Geoff Ryman: What We Found: Excellent ***
7) John Scalzi: Redshirts: Couldn't Put It Down
8) Mira Grant: Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella: Worth Reading, with Reservations ***
9) Mary Robinette Kowal: Kiss Me Twice: Worth Reading, with Reservations ***
10) Paolo Bacigalupi: The Drowned Cities: Couldn't Put It Down
11) Kij Johnson: The Man Who Bridged the Mist: Good Read ***
12) Kameron Hurley: God's War: Worth Reading, with Reservations
13) Carolyn Ives Gilman: The Ice Owl: Good Read ***

*** = all short fiction

As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

Sun, Jun. 3rd, 2012, 12:55 pm
calico_reaction: May Review Round-Up



Here are the reviews posted during May. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of books I read in May, but rather the books I had the time to review before month's end.

1) Kim Harrison: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead: It's a Gamble
2) Erin Hoffman: At the Foot of the Lighthouse (Todai Moto Kurashi): Good Read ***
3) Jennifer Pelland: Machine: Worth Reading, with Reservations
4) Jacqueline Carey: Saints Astray: Below Standard
5) John Scalzi: The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City: Worth Reading, with Reservations ***
6) Kim Harrison: Every Which Way But Dead: Good Read
7) Ken Liu: The Paper Menagerie: Excellent ***
8) A.M. Dellamonica: Blue Magic: Worth Reading, with Reservations
9) Bill Willingham: Fables: Deluxe Edition: Book Four: Good Read
10) Scott Westerfeld: Goliath: Excellent
11) Nancy Fulda: Movement: Excellent ***
12) Mike Resnick: Homecoming: It's a Gamble ***
13) E. Lily Yu: The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees: It's a Gamble ***
14) Kim Harrison: A Fistful of Charms: Worth Reading, with Reservations
15) C.J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station: Problematic, but Promising

*** = short fiction reviews

As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

Sun, Apr. 1st, 2012, 04:31 pm
calico_reaction: March Review Round-Up



Here are the reviews posted during March. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of books I read in March, but rather the books I had the time to review before month's end.

1) Grant Morrison: Joe the Barbarian: Couldn't Put It Down
2) Mark Budz: Idolon: Worth Reading, with Reservations
3) Maria V. Snyder: Touch of Power: Worth Reading, with Reservations
4) Gail Carriger: Timeless: Couldn't Put It Down
5) Rebecca Guay: A Flight of Angels: Good Read
6) Elizabeth Bear: Chill: Worth Reading, with Reservations
7) Martha Wells: The Cloud Roads: Good Read
8) Margo Lanagan: Black Juice: Worth Reading, with Reservations
9) Seanan McGuire: Discount Armageddon: Couldn't Put It Down
10) Rick Yancey: The Monstrumologist: Good Read
11) Nick Spencer: Morning Glories: Deluxe Collection: Volume 1: Couldn't Put It Down

As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

Wed, Dec. 1st, 2010, 08:05 pm
calico_reaction: Slatter, Angela: The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales

The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales (2010)
Written by: Angela Slatter
Genre: Fairy Tales/Short Stories
Pages: 210 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganked from BN.com: In this collection of 16 previously published and new stories, Slatter presents twisted, fractured, illuminating fairy tales and dark fantasies that beguile in their elegant simplicity. Many of the stories are reiterations of classic fairy tales from all over the world. But by retelling the tales in a more intimate manner, Slatter illuminates the symbiotic relationship between pleasure and pain. The sexually candid "Bluebeard" is an empowering tale of a whore and her daughter who best a monster. The wholly original "The Living Book" personifies the intimate act of reading, while "Skin" reworks the Gaelic legend of the selkie into a tale of revenge and redemption from the seal woman's perspective. An afterword elucidates the source material and intent behind each tale. Dark and sinister, these shorts place strong, empathetic female protagonists into harrowing, horrifying, or humble circumstances and see them triumph.

My Rating

Must Have: While it's a rather expensive collection given its rather slim size, it's a collection well worth having. The expense comes from the fact The Girl with No Hands is published by a small press, one in Australia, no less. Still, this is easy to find online: Amazon, the Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble (I didn't look elsewhere). No electronic editions to date, but please, don't let any of this scare you out of trying to get your hands on this book. It's a beautiful short story collection that--once you start reading--you'll find yourself inhaling. Like other readers, I felt like I should maybe take a break between tales to really absorb their impact, but I had no patience to do so. However, that's fine since I plan to re-read each and every story in this collection at some point, and that's because Slatter's reworked fairy and folk tales linger with you long after you finish: they're dark in some respects, but they also present women as the heroes of their own tales instead of the fairy tale standard of purely innocent or purely evil. Here, women are both the victors and victims of their stories, but all of them have a hand in their ultimate fate. It's a wonderful collection, and I'm quite grateful I got my hands on it.


Review style: I'm never consistent when it comes to reviewing short story collections or anthologies. Sometimes, I review story-by-story, and others, I just highlight the stories that were my favorite or discuss the ones that need to be discussed. In this case, I think I'm going to follow the format I used the last time I reviewed an anthology and discussion the collection in general before giving one line reviews to each story. No spoilers, because I think spoiling short stories is a cruel thing to do. The full review is in my LJ, which is linked below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Angela Slatter's THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS AND OTHER TALES

Happy Reading!

ALSO!!!

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

December: Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
January: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Sat, Oct. 2nd, 2010, 03:43 pm
calico_reaction: Hopkinson, Nalo: So Long Been Dreaming

So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy (2004)
Edited by: Nalo Hopkinson & Uppinder Mehan
Genre: Short Stories/Speculative Fiction
Pages: 270 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganked from BN.com: An anthology of stories of imagined futures, written by leading writers of color from around the world.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: Overall, I was very pleased with this anthology. There are MANY stories here that deserve a re-read, so I suspect I'll keep this sucker around so I can come back to it again and see what more I can get out of each story. There were a few stories that disappointed me, but overall, I was fascinated, engaged, and impressed. There's solid writing in this anthology, and I've found some new authors to check out, which is always a good thing. If you're interested in science fiction and fantasy written by authors of color, this is a fantastic place to start.

Review style: I really don't know how to review this, and that's because my reading of this anthology got interrupted with surgery and pain killers. I will talk about the anthology in general and how it's constructed, and I definitely provide the table of contents with star-rating and brief commentary. There's also a bonus question at the end of the review! No spoilers, because what's the point of spoiling short stories? That's silly!

The full review is at my LJ, for anyone interested. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: SO LONG BEEN DREAMING edited by Nalo Hopkinson

Happy Reading!

ALSO!!!

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

October: Feed by Mira Grant
November: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

ALSO: don't miss out on winning a copy of the modern fantasy anthology Clockwork Phoenix 3, edited by Mike Allen. For details, click here. Deadline: 10/5

Fri, Jul. 23rd, 2010, 10:09 pm
calico_reaction: Sherman, Delia: Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing

Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing (2009)
Edited by: Delia Sherman & Christopher Barzak
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 302 (Trade Paperback)
Disclaimer: free from publisher

The premise: ganked from BN.com (and the shortest premise EVER): Twenty-one gems showing that the freshest, most startling stories come from the spaces between conventional genres.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: but kind of close to "Glad It Was Free." Why? Because if I were to compare my overall experience between reading volume 1 with volume 2, I would have to say that volume 1 won me over more, as I found myself really engaged by more of the stories. Heck, that's evidenced by the fact that for volume one, I reviewed each story individually, whereas with this volume, I just mentioned with ones stood out. All in all, it probably all balances out, but this time around, I'd forget most stories as soon as I moved on to the next. Now, this is a ME-THING, and this will be true for every reader. That's because with every reading experience, the reader is bringing their own experiences, their own expectations, their baggage, etc. But this becomes an even bigger issue with interstitial fiction, because the one defining expectation is that you should have NO expectations whatsoever. That you should let the story take you where it may without labels defining where you THINK it should go. So while on the whole I preferred the first volume of Interfictions to this second one, this second one is still enjoyable with a variety of stories from a variety of authors (diversity of race, sex, nationality, and ethnicity!) and if you're looking for something that doesn't try to fit any standard mold, or if you're a literary reader looking for something that pushes the boundaries, this is a good place to start.

Review style: What I really want to do here is talk about interstitial fiction as a whole and what it means to storytelling (and not just in books either), and I want to talk about how this anthology on the whole compares to the first anthology and why that doesn't mean a gosh-darn thing in terms of reviews, and then I guess I'll highlight which stories really caught my eye. No story-by-story review here. This anthology just didn't speak to me that way, and I'll explain why (and why that's not a bad thing). No spoilers at all, so rest easy. What's in my LJ is half-review, half-discussion. Comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing

Happy Reading!

ALSO:

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

July: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
August: Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
September: So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson

Fri, Jun. 4th, 2010, 10:24 pm
calico_reaction: McDonald, Sandra: Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories

Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories (2010)
Written by: Sandra McDonald
Genre: Short Stories/Fantasy
Pages: 282 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganked from the back cover: A writer of whimsy and passion, Sandra McDonald has collected her most evocative short fiction to offer readers in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories. A beautiful adventuress from the ancient city of New Dalli sets off to reclaim her missing lover. What secrets does she hide beneath her silk skirts? A gay cowboy flees the Great War in search of true love and the elusive undead poet Whit Waltman, but at what cost? A talking statue sends an abused boy spinning through a great metropolis, dodging pirates and search for a home. On these quests, you will meet macho firefighters, tiny fairies, collapsible musicians, lady devils and vengeful sea witches. These are stories to stir the heart and imagination.

My Rating

Must Have: How can you say no to a collection that explores gender issues, sexuality issues, racism, and so much more? McDonald's book is a cross between Catherynne M. Valente's themes and Charles de Lint's world-building, which stories that really linger long after you're finished. While some are serious, some are whimsical, and all are unifying not just by themes, but by setting and characters. The stand-outs for me were "Diana Comet and the Lovesick Cowboy," "The Goddess and Lieutenant Teague" (really loved this one), "The Fireman's Fairy" (this is will make you sad), and "Kingdom Coming." I also loved the fake historical vibe to this collection, a kind of alternate history that isn't obviously alternate history, but rather a riff on our own. All in all, it's a great collection, and I'm thankful I got my hands on it. I really think this deserves to at LEAST make the Tiptree shortlist, because if it doesn't, I can't imagine what would.

Review style: I have few notes and a ton of sticky tabs all over this book. I want to talk about the unifying element to each of these stories, some of the themes the book touches on, as well as single out which stories were really powerful for me. No spoilers (save for a teeny-tiny one that's clearly marked), so if you're interested in the full review at my LJ, just click the link below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Sandra McDonald's DIANA COMET AND OTHER IMPROBABLE STORIES

Happy Reading!

DON'T MISS OUT: Want a chance to win a free copy of the short story collection that deserves a Tiptree nod? Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories by Sandra McDonald definitely fits the bill! Interested? Click here.

ALSO:

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

June: Sunshine by Robin McKinley
July: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Fri, Jan. 29th, 2010, 06:40 pm
calico_reaction: Ishiguro, Kazuo: Nocturnes

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (2009)
Written by: Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: Short Fiction
Pages: 221 (Hardcover)

The premise: ganked from BN.com: A once-popular singer, desperate to make a comeback, turning from the one certainty in his life . . . A man whose unerring taste in music is the only thing his closest friends value in him . . . A struggling singer-songwriter unwittingly involved in the failing marriage of a couple he’s only just met . . . A gifted, underappreciated jazz musician who lets himself believe that plastic surgery will help his career . . . A young cellist whose tutor promises to “unwrap” his talent . . .

Passion or necessity--or the often uneasy combination of the two--determines the place of music in each of these lives. And, in one way or another, music delivers each of them to a moment of reckoning: sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes just eluding their grasp.


My Rating

Wish I'd Borrowed It: if you're interested in Ishiguro's work, don't start here, not even if you're a fan of music. These tales never have a strong resolution on any note (pun intended), and the unifying factors quickly made the stories predictable and stale. The writing did not enchant or delight me, whereas I was glued to the voice used in Never Let Me Go. Part of the problem is that pretty much all of the narrators in these stories are selfish, whiny men, and let's face it, whether they're brilliant artists or not, I just don't have the patience to read a slice of their life. I'm not going to let this collection sour me on Ishiguro's work as a whole, but I will pay closer attention to reviews of his work in the future. I should've listened to them for this one, but no... I thought I knew better, since I used to be a music major. ;) 'Fraid not. This is pretty forgettable, whereas Never Let Me Go still sticks with me.

Review style: to be honest, there's really not that much to spoil, and I feel no urge to do a story-by-story review either. So if you're interested in the full review, you're welcome to check it out at my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Kazuo Ishiguro's NOCTURNES

Happy Reading!

Mon, Jan. 4th, 2010, 10:35 pm
communicator: The Things

Is this community still OK to post to? I've just posted on my blog about the short story The Things which is a retelling of The Thing from the point of view of the monster. I think it's really good.

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