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Archive for the category “books”

Don’t miss this one!

I just finished Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, this month’s free book from Tor.com. It was really good! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, don’t wait. June 21 is the last day! Get it here!

Tor’s ebook offering for June

The free ebook from Tor is now available. It is Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. You have from now through the 21st to sign up and download it. I look forward to reading this book. Why not give it a try?  You can access it here.

More May reading

Finally back to this!

I only read three books that I classified as speculative fiction:

  • Arrival (Stories of Your Life) by Ted Chiang contains the story that served as the basis for the movie Arrival. I did not see the movie, although I thought I wanted to, but I have to say now that I am very glad I didn’t.  Not that the movie was bad or anything. It’s just that the story was so good that I don’t think any movie could do it justice! And the other stories in the book are every bit as good as that one. This was a book I paid full price for, and I am very glad I did. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • The Whisper of Stars  by Nick Jones is the first book in a 2-book series. It is a thriller set in the year 2091. It doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. In response to global warming and a rapidly growing population, it is decided that people should go into hibernation on a rotating basis. Of course, it isn’t that simple. I enjoyed the book and will probably try to read the other one.
  • Dragon Rose by Christine Pope was a really enjoyable book. It is cross between Beauty and the Beast and The Hunger Games.  A town is required to supply the dragon with a wife every few years. She is chosen by lottery. Rhianne Menyon volunteers to go in place of her friend, who is engaged to be married to someone else. Sound familiar? It doesn’t feel like a repeat of an old story, though; it is just different enough to feel fresh, to me at least. This is part of a series, and I will likely read more.

I also read two pieces of historical fiction:

  • The Viking by Marti Talbott is the first book in a 5-book series. A young Viking/Scottish boy is left in Scotland after his father is killed. Vikings aren’t very popular in Scotland, and he must be very careful. He is taken in by a family that has its own problems. The story is very good. On Amazon, it is billed as “A clean Scottish family saga” and this book, at least, sets the stage for that.
  • A Body in Berkeley Square by Ashley Gardner is the fifth book in this series that I so much enjoy. Captain Lacey is called in to discover who killed a young man at a ball. The man accused of the crime is his former mentor and superior officer, a man with whom he has had problems in the past. I have really enjoyed all the books in the series that I have read, and this one was no exception. I will be reading more!

I read one novella, another Captain Lacey story by Ashley Gardner, The Necklace AffairAgain, the Captain solves the mystery with the help of his many friends and even an enemy or two. I really enjoy this series!

Finally, I listened to one audiobook, On the Trail of the Space Pirates by Carey Rockwell. I got it from Librivox.org. The story was written for kids, but it was fun to listen to. The young hero, Tom Corbett, is a Space Cadet in the traditional sense of the word, and he ends up saving the day. I enjoyed it.

So that finished up my May reading. So far in June I haven’t read as much as usual, but I may catch up!

May reading, a little late!

I’ve been traveling and haven’t had time, interest or internet connection to post last month’s reading until now. But finally, I am back home and ready to post.

I read The Conquest of the Illinois by George Rogers Clark. It was very interesting to me. I like reading about history (as long as there are no wars involved!) and, being from Illinois, I am especially interested in the history of that part of the country. I won’t say that this was always an easy or fascinating read, but I am glad I read it.

I read 7 mysteries:

  • Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya was a really wonderful read. I wasn’t expecting a mystery from Anaya, but the story was wonderful. Even more interesting to me, though, was the insight into New Mexican folklore and traditions. Sonny Baca, the main character is a young man who values the old ways — in some ways like Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee character. Anaya, of course, is a wonderful writer, and this book was wonderful. As I write this, I am reading the second book in this series. It is every bot as good as the first.
  • Death by Chocolate by Abigail Keam is the sixth book in this series. I haven’t read all of them, but that doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem. An old bad guy is back, trying to kill Josiah, but since this is book 6 in a 10 book series, you can assume she outwits him. I enjoyed this book but I think maybe not as much as I expected to. Not sure why. It is an easy read — maybe too easy!
  • Serial Date  by D.V. Berkom is the first in a series of books about a retired assassin, Leine Basso. She has a complicated history that wasn’t real clear to me in this book, but I think that was intentional. The story kept me interested — even though I don’t read a lot of thrillers because I don’t like the violence that seems to pop up regularly. I was able to get past that in this book to the point where I have read this one and the second book in the series already.
  • Hollywood Assassin by MZ Kelly has been in my library for years, and I just never got around to reading it. Now that I have, I an anxious to read more in the series. And, as you will see by reading on, I have already started on them! Kate Sexton is a detective with the LAPD. Her crazy life just seems to be getting crazier after she stops a cop from being shot — by another cop! I always get nervous when someone sets out to write 26 books in a series, but these are starting out pretty good.
  • Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George was a book I had looked forward to reading for a long time. It is the 18th book in the Inspector Lynley series, and I think I have read all of the first 17. I finally found this at a decent price and bought it. And for a big chunk of the book, I was sorry I did. Barbara Havers, the main character in this book, gets herself into a mess that I didn’t think she was going to be able to get out of without really disappointing me. The last several books of this series have been far darker and shown a less perfect side of Lynley and Havers, but this one seemed to be going too far as far as I was concerned. Fortunately, George is writes better than I can imagine, and I ended up looking forward to reading book 19. One thing I missed was the active presence of Simon and Deborah St. John in this book. They are really interesting characters, and they only made a cameo here.
  • Bad Traffik by D.V. Berkom is the second book in the Leine Basso series. I enjoyed it more than I expected to. I like the characters, but I thought that a book about trafficking children might be too much for me. But it wasn’t. There were lots of twists and turns that made it interesting. I am going to read more in this series.
  • Hollywood Blood by MZ Kelly was a pretty good second book in the series. There are lots and lots of hilarious characters to keep the reader entertained. The mystery is decent and kept my interest. I am a little worried that the Hollywood craziness will get to be too much before long, but we’ll see.

OK, I managed to take a lot longer to finish this post than it should have, and I still have a bunch of books to go, so I will be back to finish May’s reading!

Tor.com’s ebook for May

It’s that time, again! This month’s free ebook from Tor.com is A Fire Upon the Deep  by Verner Vinge. It sounds like it will be more to my liking than the books of the last couple months. Now’s your chance to get it, so why not give it a try?

April reading, part 2

Well, it has taken a little while for me to get back to this, but here goes.

I read two pieces of speculative fiction:

  • Ambassador 1: Seeing Red by Patty Jansen is a book I have owned for a while but never got around to reading. I finally decided to change that, and I am glad I did. The book is billed as a Space Opera Thriller, and it was! I really enjoyed this book.  Cory Wilson is a diplomat, headed out on his first mission when the whole universe seems to fall apart, taking his mission with it. He continues to fight for what he feels is right until he gets to the truth. It is a good book, and I will read more in the series.
  • Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente was another Tor.com ebook club selection. It was easier to read than the March book was, but I didn’t enjoy it any more than I enjoyed that one. As I have said, though, the experience of reading these books has made me realize that I need more realism in my books. Which is interesting in that I am thinking about reading One Hundred Years of Solitude  again since it is the Guardian’s reading group selection for May. But back to Deathless… I cannot really recommend it. I am sure it is wonderful, but it didn’t work for me at all.

For Historical Fiction, I read The Sudbury School Murders by Ashley Gardner. I really like these books. They are mysteries set in the early 1800s. As is always the case, the mystery was good, and the glimpse into England at that time was quite enjoyable. Captain Lacey has taken a job at a boys school, apparently to solve the problem of serious pranks being played on people at the school. It ends up being much more complicated than that, as the title would imply. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

I read two pieces of shorter fiction:

  • The Signal and the Boys (a prequel to the Earth’s Last Gambit Trilogy) by Felix R. Savage was a good story. You can get it for free on Savage’s website.
  • A Cry for Help by Adam Croft was another Kempston Hardwick mystery. And, as usual, I loved it. Actually, I may have enjoyed this one more than some of the others. I can’t find this one on Amazon to provide you with a link. I guess it is one I got for signing up for Croft’s newsletter.

I also got back in to listening to books, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy this month. It was an interesting story of how the world might have been in the year 2000. Bellamy had much higher hopes for us than we deserve, I’m afraid. I got the audio version from Librivox.org.

So April wasn’t a bad month for reading, but it wasn’t great, either. Let’s see how May goes!

April reading, part 1

I didn’t do a lot of reading in April. My classes took a lot of time, getting the students all settled and comfortable with the courses. But I did some, and I’ll tell you about it here.

I read one non-fictoin book, Hagakure: the Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.  It was read a research for the books. The edition I read was a poorly done one, but it was free, so I guess I can’t complain! It was an interesting read, but by now it seems familiar. If I were going to read this again, I would opt for a different edition.

I read 4 mysteries:

 

  • An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax was a fun read. It is the first in the “Matchmaker Mysteries”. I had some difficulty with the matchmaker part of it, but the rest of the story was good. The bad guys were really bad and crazy. This wasn’t a book that made me want to rush out and read the rest of the series, but it was fun.
  • Chimera by Celina Grace is the fifth volume in her Kate Redman series. It’s only the second one I’ve read, I think. It was a good story. I had some trouble with some of Kate’s personal issues this time, but that could be because I haven’t read these books in order. I will be back to read more of these.
  • Big Game by Robin Barefield was a surprise. I honestly didn’t expect a whole lot from it, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It starts with the protagonist driving down the road, watching a car speed past her and not make the curve. She stops to help the driver of the car, of course, and ends up hearing his dying words — which were to give a message to no one but Andy. Problem is, none of the cast of characters seems to be named Andy. Come to find out, the guy was an FBI agent, but no one seems to know what he was working on.  It is a little convoluted, but it definitely kept me reading. I think you might enjoy it.
  • Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya was by far the best book I read last month. The mystery was a good one, but the books was so much more than that. Knowing many of the places Anaya write about and knowing about some of the incidents he mentioned made this even more interesting. And, of course, on top of all that you have Anaya’s beautiful writing. I cannot recommend this book enough.

OK, that’s all I have time for today. More tomorrow?

 

eBooks vs. paper

I read an article on the Guardian today that has me thinking. The title is “How eBooks lost their shine: ‘Kindles now look clunky and unhip’. Unfortunately, I am not sure what I think about it.

The author talks about the resurgence of physical books, stating

figures published today by the Publishing Association show that sales of consumer ebooks have dropped by 17%, while sales of physical books are up 8%.

Overall sales of books in Britain have risen, she goes on to state, which is the good news in all of this as far as I am concerned. The format of the books isn’t as important as the reading of books.

What irritated me was this:

Once upon a time, people bought books because they liked reading. Now they buy books because they like books. “All these people are really thinking about how the books are – not just what’s in them, but what they’re like as objects,” says Jennifer Cownie, who runs the beautiful Bookifer website and the Cownifer Instagram, which match books to decorative papers, and who bought a Kindle but hated it.

In general, this seems like a throwback to the days of people having libraries or bookshelves filled with books that were there to impress, not to be read. That doesn’t seem like progress to me. Books are for reading, not as a kind of art. It shouldn’t matter what the cover looks like; the story is what matters.

And I have to wonder why she didn’t like her Kindle. Was it because it was unhip or because reading on it was not pleasurable? Did she give the Kindle a chance or just abandon it right away?

Buried way down in the article was a very important statement:

The figures from the Publishing Association should be treated with some caution. They exclude self-published books, a sizable market for ebooks. And, according to Dan Franklin, a digital publishing specialist, more than 50% of genre sales are on ebook. Digital book sales overall are up 6%.

Most of the authors I read are self-published. Part of that is because there are some awesome self-published authors out there, and part is because traditional publishers often price their ebooks at or higher than the paperback editions.

There is another side to this discussion, too, and that is privacy. My husband sent me a link to a First Monday article by Clifford Lynch on reader privacy in the age of reader analytics. I will admit to not having read the whole article, but his closing thoughts include these:

At some point it’s worth asking what readers of various kinds will actually tolerate before the creepiness factor becomes overwhelming and repulsive. Suppose, as a thought experiment, that Amazon said it would share every purchaser’s e-mail address with the author of books they purchased? (Pick your own opt-in or opt-out boundary conditions). How about sharing this information with the book’s publisher? Would a discount on the purchase price or some other reward make most readers more comfortable? What conditions (enforceable or not) might be imposed on the author or the publisher regarding reuse of this purchaser information, and would this make any difference to readers’ comfort levels? What choices would customers make in such situations?

I probably don’t worry as much about privacy as I should. Do I need to worry about Amazon or Kobo selling my data? Would I be better off switching to paper books? Amazon could still sell my data if I buy my books from them.  I don’t see much way around it: we have very limited privacy anymore.

My husband loves to buy and read physical books. He only reads used books that he buys or gets from lending libraries without any paper trail. He is very concerned about privacy and, although he has had two ereaders, never got into ebooks. His approach is a fine one, I think. But it doesn’t work for me.

I love my ereaders. I love my ebooks. I buy mostly genre fiction by independent authors, so ebooks are right for me. What about you?

 

Maybe I was wrong!

I had thought that Deathless, this month’s free tor.com ebook club selection would be easier to read than Shadow and Claw was last month, but I think I spoke too soon. I am over half way done with it — just over halfway done with it. It is going very slowly for some reason.

I think it is because the fantasy isn’t realistic — as silly as that sounds. It is too fantastic for me. The book is based on Russian folklore, and it just isn’t working for me. Maybe if I knew the stories behind the book, it would be easier to follow. But I don’t know the stories, so…

I am going to finish this book just like I finished last month’s. And I will get next month;s book and read it, too.  But I will begin to lose interest in them if they keep being too strange for me. Even a free book isn’t worth struggling through if it isn’t enjoyable.

I hope, if you happen to have read this book, that you will leave a comment and tell me what you thought. I am completely open to believing that the fault is mine, not the book’s. I just need for someone to help me see it through different eyes!

Give it a try!

If you were considering reading Deathless while it is available from Tor.com’s ebook club, I encourage you to do so. I am more than a quarter of the way through it, and I have been pleasantly surprised. In some ways it reminds me of Shadow and Claw, but it is much, much easier to read. I can’t say that I really love it so far, but I am enjoying it. So if you were wavering, I encourage you to give it a try. After all, it isn’t going to cost you anything! Remember, it’s only available through April 16. Get it here.

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