Category Archives: Reviews

Book, film, TV and other arts reviews.

The Lesser Dead, by Christopher Buehlman

bookzombieSo, everyone, what are you reading these days?

Christopher Buehlman’s The Lesser Dead has been out for about a month now, and if you like your horror horrible (as opposed to romantic, edgy, or cuddlesome) I cannot recommend it enough. Here’s my review at Tor.com, in which I try to say more than “oohh, oooh, squee, squee!”

This week I am reading fourteen student novel openings and a book that won’t be out until 2015. Sneak peeks are one of the perks of the job, and I’m looking forward to telling you about this one closer to its release date.

Book Smugglers Review of Child, plus vacation…

imageThea of Book Smugglers says this about Child of a Hidden Sea:

Sophie is sympathetic and genuine, and her motivation to learn more about her origins and her family comes across as wholly believable. Her insecurities when compared to her siblings – her fierce half-sister Verena, and her genius adopted brother Bram – only enhance Sophie’s sympathetic nature, as she struggles with her own feelings of inadequacy and confidence.

I’ll be taking next week off to see a bunch of films at the Toronto International Film Festival (Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet, This is My Land, Luna, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch, Charlie’s Country, the Imitation Game, and Behavior, in case you’re wondering) and hang out with my lovely and wonderful cousins. So, you know–I’ll be online less. Write me if you  need me.

Which isn’t to say I won’t tweet a little about the movies, or any especially good food that comes my way. Because in the world of Instagram, my vacation is your vacation. Or something.

Novel Gazing Redux reviews Child of a Hidden Sea

imageOver at Novel Gazing Redux, Marissa Lingen says:

Sophie loves her adoptive family like crazy, but she’s still curious about her birth family. When she goes looking, things get wild very very quickly. There’s an angry birth mother who wants nothing to do with her, there’s an aunt who’s slightly more reasonable, there are people attacking the aunt, there’s transit to a watery world of ships and weird magic tech and different species of bug and bird and sea critter, with variable languages and national customs…and the variable languages and national customs matter. A lot. If you’ve ever complained about books where it was raining on such-and-such an entire planet, Dellamonica has your back.

Gardner Dozois may have had a hand in that. One of the things I remember most from Clarion West was his throwaway mention that too many writers imperfectly imagine their SF-nal settings, and that in particular they simply assume that each planet (sometimes each solar system, or galaxy!) will have one culture, one language, and one government. A lightbulb went off.

Anyway, now I have a planet with two hundred and fifty nations. Plus assorted languages, religions, official state sciences and other cultural ephemera.

Friday Review Trio

Yesterday I caught you up on all my guest bloggery, and today I am posting reviews, all quite glowy and gratifying.

NPR – “What Happens when Fantasyland Doesn’t Want You?

I was especially pleased that Paul Weimer of SF SIGNAL liked the book, because he’s been such a marvellously vocal fan:

… Sophie makes a believable and interesting protagonist. Given that she quickly learns her own foundling origins are on this world, her motivations and desire to learn more about Stormwrack rather than turn tail and forget her experience are completely believable and easy to identify with. Would I, in her place, start maxing out credit cards to obtain cameras and other equipment to document this world next door? Absolutely! Her stubbornness, her intelligence and her effusive appeal are palpable.

and Bookworm Blues says some great things, too!

And, as before, Kitten Pic!

Another manic lunedi

Miriam Williams at Inky Realms liked Child of a Hidden Sea to the tune of 4.5 out of five stars, praising it for having a racially diverse cast and gay characters, and even shipping Parrish/Bram. (Pramwell? Brammish?) She also felt the book needed a map, while acknowledging my earlier note about why this was challenging. (Short answer: too much ocean, not enough land.)

The review gave a nice lift to a peculiar weekend; I had an anaphylactic reaction at immunotherapy Friday. While it wasn’t serious, it wasn’t fun either. I was at the clinic for hours, in what turned out to be a real hip-wrecker of a chair, and was left creaky and wheezy all weekend. On Saturday we took the kitties in for their second round of immunizations–they are in perfect health, and have put on another half-pound or so each.

Though CinCin has a feather allergy–did I tell you this? I feel extra smug about having plucked her out of the wild given that she’d have sneezed constantly whenever hunting or eating birdkind.

July is busy time at K’s office, so we both worked a fair amount on Sunday.

Good things abounded: we made it to the edge of Pride in time for a Stonewall reenactment and the obligatory sighting of a well-built guy dancing in sandals and a posing pouch, the Met in HD rebroadcast of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte was delightful, and we followed that up with delicious, delicious sandwiches at Corned Beef House. We watched Austenland and I liked it–which wouldn’t have stopped me from rewriting it significantly if I was in charge of the universe–and tried out The West Wing on Netflix.

How was your weekend?

Reviews for Child of a Hidden Sea…

Alyx portrait 2014 smallWith Child of a Hidden Sea coming out in 39 days and counting, reviews are starting to appear. This morning I’m quite enchanted with this write up by Eric Raymond of the Armed and Dangerous blog. He says many good things, along with this, which is my favorite bit of not-so-positive feedback so far:

The writing is pretty good and the worldbuilding much better thought out than is usual in most fantasy; Ms. Dellamonica could write competent SF if she chose, I think. The book is slightly marred by the sort of preachiness one expects of a lesbian author these days, and there is a touch of Mary Sue in way the ultra-competent protagonist is written. But the whole is carried off with a pleasing lightness of touch and sense of fun. I’ll read the sequel.

It’d be easy to put my nose out of joint about the lesbian preachiness comment, but I am a queer environmentalist and no less prone to having Opinions, some of which leach into my writing, than any artist.  It’s a well-considered and balanced review and I was especially pleased that Raymond found Sophie to be something of a grown-up:

Sophie is not some angsty teenager who spends a lot of time on denying her situation and blunders into a coming-of-age narrative…

This is an interesting stage of things: once a book is out in the world, it ceases to belong entirely to the author and editorial/production team who coaxed it into being. Everyone gets to say what your book is or isn’t after it’s gone. The process can be exciting, nerve-wracking, delightful, disappointing, and surprising by turns. There are moments of relief and surprise, and it’s tempting to second-guess yourself. There are writers who don’t read their reviews for exactly this reason. There are writers so secure they post every single review, no matter how scathing. (Jay Lake, I admire you for this as I do so many other things.)

As with everything, there’s no one-size-fits-all; you have to figure out what works for you.

Feminist Fantasy calls CHS “Flawless!”

imageMy very first review for Child of a Hidden Sea–well, the first I’ve seen, says:

I LOVED this book- flawless! Sophie Hansa is the perfect example of how a you can have a strong female character who doesn’t literally kick ass. She’s a complex, believable character who develops and grows though the story to be able to face her fears. I love her unique background as a marine videographer and how she uses her education, curiosity, and quick thinking to solves the puzzles the plot presents.

Reviewer KeriLynn Engel also notes that the book passes the Bechdel test handily.

In related news, the Goodreads Giveaway of five advance reading copies of the novel is still on.

The Buffy Rewatch Graduates on @Tordotcom

And… I’ve now rewatched all of S3. The Graduation Day 1 & 2 rewatch can be found here. Next week Buffy starts college, which is uncanny timing given that September’s wafting its chilly breath all over us.