Only 100 Books? Book Chick City’s 100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenge

Book Chick City hosts a whole bunch of Reading Challenges. And they all look yummy. But this one caught my eye, and I just had to sign up.

The details are all available in the sign-up post here at Book Chick City. But this is so cool. Any 100 books count in any genre. But just fiction, no non-fiction. Easy-peasy.

I think everyone should read 100 books in a year. My only question is whether I’m going to read 300, or 400, or 500.  I’m afraid, I’m very afraid.

So heck, yeah, I’m in.  At least three times over, I’m in.

New Year’s Resolutions of the Bookish Kind

Other people have a TBR pile. Ereaders don’t really lend themselves to that. I suppose you could say I have a TBR bitstream, but it doesn’t really mean the same thing. Or stack the same way.

I really have two TBR lists. Make that three.

There’s the TBR list of stuff I have made a commitment to review. That list actually exists as a list. It’s the “to-do” list on my calendar. I can track that one.

Then there’s the TBR lists in Library Thing and Goodreads. That has some physical components. All the print books that we kept when we moved, that I own but I hadn’t read yet. There are over 200 of those. I’m trying not to make the physical component of that problem any worse, but good books come out all the time. And that’s the third list.

I still see things I want to read. I do mark them as “to-be-read” on Goodreads. And there’s still that “so many books, so little time” problem. When the 2012 Goodreads reading challenge ticks over, I’m going to commit myself (now there’s a double meaning if I ever wrote one) to reading 400 books in 2012. Otherwise it isn’t a challenge.

But about that whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing? In this post I’m going to list all the books on my “to do” list that are past due. These are the ones I’ve already promised to somebody. In other words, this list is the dreadful backlog I keep referring to, and then averting my eyes.

I’m going to see how many of these I can get rid of before my first blogoversary, which is April 4, 2012. Coincidentally, my birthday is April 5. We’ll see how I do.

Author Requests











And in my incredibly overwhelming NetGalley queue:




















Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Ruin should be on here, except, I finished it Thursday night. It was awesome. The whole Elantra series was fan-damn-tastic. And I absolutely can’t wait for Cast in Peril, whenever that comes out. But I will be so glad to knock Cast in Ruin off my NetGalley queue.

Technically, Heir of Novron, Truthseeker and God’s War are not in any queue. But by the time I finish Theft of Swords and Rise of Empire, does anyone really think I’m not going to finish the series. Honestly? I’ll have to just to see how it turns out.

Truthseeker and God’s War are both the second books in their respective series. And I can’t seem to make myself read the second book with reading the first book, well, first. And I have a delicious suspicion that after I’ve read Cut & Run I’m going to be reading the rest of that series, because all of the reviews have been phenomenal. But maybe I’ll be able to resist the impulse until after I’ve caught up a bit.

I can dream, can’t I?

What resolutions have you made for the new year, bookish or otherwise?






Demons who must not be named

There’s a long-standing trope in fantasy of the evil that must not be named. Think of Voldemort in Harry Potter. Although if my name were Voldemort, I’d probably rather not be named, either. Why did he pick that? Wikipedia says it translates as “flee from death”. More like he was scared of death. I prefer the Discworld version of Death.

But I digress. Mostly because I feel like crap on toast.  Which returns me to my original reference of demons that should not be named.

Last week, I was talking with a friend about various rituals for handling who does what when either my husband or I has a cold. My friend apparently gets relegated to the spare bedroom whether he or his spouse is the sick party. This topic came up because my friend was, of course, currently under the weather. I was not.

I should never have discussed the subject. Now I’m sick. But germs can’t be transferred via email. The demon was invoked, and that’s all it took.

My household operates slightly differently. Whoever really can’t sleep moves elsewhere if necessary. But the excellent thing about iPads is that they generate their own light, so no more keeping the light on (and your partner awake) to read all night.

Having a cold is a great excuse to get lost in a good book (or two, or three). Also a good excuse to play video games. But I read endlessly. It does change my tastes. I want to be lost somewhere far away. I’ve finished the first two of Laura Anne Gilman’s Paranormal Scene Investigations books back to back and I’m ready to start Tricks of the Trade, which was on my list.

I have zero interest in romance books at the moment. But then, I have not very much interest in the real thing at the moment, either. A cold will do that to a person. On the other hand, one time I had a migraine and read the entire collected works of Amanda Quick in about three days. It gave a whole new meaning to that old Victorian instruction to newly married ladies to “lie back and think of England…”

Tomorrow will be better. At least, I sure hope so.

Look at all the pretty covers…

Perhaps I should have said, look at all the pretty colors. But then it sounds like I’m talking about drugs.

I’m talking about books. Maybe I am talking about drugs. At least my version of drugs.

We’re moving again. This weekend. Our new house is within walking distance of a pretty big Barnes & Noble. We had some time to kill today before we met the rental agent to get the keys. So we decided to kill time at B&N. I haven’t been to an actual, live, books-on-the-shelves bookstore since Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story signing at the end of July. That’s five months. There was a time in my life when that was unimaginable.

It has been so long I forgot how pretty bookstores are. I love how bright and shiny all the new books are on the shelves. Just seeing the displays of all the new stuff is surprisingly awesome if you’ve been away from it for a while.

Browsing the shelves is way, way, way more fun than browsing online. The covers are bigger, brighter and shinier in person. And there is something about the serendipity factor that still isn’t duplicated.

But I wasn’t tempted to buy anything. We still have 2,300 books. Print books. Dead tree books. Call them what you will. They will get packed tomorrow. We will have to unpack them again.

As much as I love to read, and as pretty as those books are in the store, books are a pain in the gluteus to unpack.  Wrong location, it’s usually my back that ends up hurting the most, not my butt.

I did not commit the cardinal sin of shopping in the store and then buying online. I could have, my iPad was in my arms. But that just seemed rude.

And there was one book I might have bought if it had been in the store. The Dreamer, by Lora Innes, is a graphic novel and it’s not available as an ebook. Probably with good reason. Even my iPad is not the best display for a graphic novel, and yes, I’ve read a few on it. But the store didn’t have it. As soon as we get settled, I’ll order it online.

What was I saying again about the pretty colors?

What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? 12-11-11

I realized something important this week. Ebooks allow someone like me to be a book hoarder without all the unsightly piles that normally betray one’s terrible addiction to accumulating one’s drug of choice. NetGalley may even be enabling this, I can acquire even more reading material without spending money. A book looks interesting and ZAP! another book in the queue.

The whole ebook thing helps an awful lot in one dimension though. Literal dimensions. The movers are coming on Friday to pack. Ebooks don’t have to be packed, because I never let my iPad out of my sight. The 2,300 print books we have on IKEA Billy Bookcases (and yes, the Library Thing measurements are accurate!) do require real packing, real moving, and real unpacking.

My virtual nightstand may not have much drop off of it this week. Or maybe lots. It all depends upon the stress level.

One thing will get read this week. Absolutely. I am hosting the Unacceptable Risk blog tour on December 18, so Jeanette Grey will be guest posting on the 18th, and I will also have a review of her science fiction romance Unacceptable Risk. There will also be a giveaway.

What new gems are piling onto the reading queue? Just two. And both look like sex dreams. Or sex steams. Something along that line.

I have two Carina Press titles listed for December 19.  Lady Seductress’ Ball by Eliza Night and One Perfect Night by Rachel Johns. Lady Seductress is historically steamy, and Perfect Night is contemporary, but they both look like very fun, and very hot stories of the “mind candy” persuasion. Probably just perfect for a week when my real life is turning topsy-turvy.

Looking back at my last week’s “to be read” list, I’m not sure whether Santa would put me on his “naughty” or his “nice” list.

Hellsbane, Deadly Pursuit and A Clockwork Christmas all got checked off the list. After writing a complete review off all the stories in A Clockwork Christmas, I couldn’t resist the impulse to write the same kind of review for Holiday Kisses, so I did.

But, then my impulses led me astray. I liked the format of Carina’s holiday anthologies so much, I got Men Under the Mistletoe from NetGalley, and finished it last night. I’ll be posting my review this week.

And I bought Robin D. Owens Hearts and Swords and immediately inhaled it, so I reviewed it too. I love Celta. I think it is one of the science fiction/fantasy words that I would actually like to live on.

I read a lot. We also watched the entire sixth season of Bones this week. I sleep sometimes. Did I mention we’re moving again? What didn’t happen was reading any of the fantasies. My reading “palate” wasn’t set for them this week. Which is going to be a problem if I don’t get them read soon.

Tomorrow is another day. And tomorrow is Ebook Review Central. This week is the miscellany week. Which means the Review covers Amber Quill, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver, and the debut of Riptide Publishing!


Unacceptable Risks and Collateral Damages

On December 18, I will be hosting the blog tour for Jeanette Grey’s new book, Unacceptable Risk. This is the first time I’ve ever hosted a blog tour, and I’m really excited.

And two weeks from today. Today! OMG! We’re moving again.

For anyone who knows us, that again comes with a serious groan. We moved less than six months ago, from Gainesville Florida to the Atlanta suburbs, and here we go again.

But this is different. We are not moving because we planned this. We are, as so many people are right now, collateral damage in someone else’s story.

We rent. We do move a lot. And buying and selling property would be difficult even without the real estate meltdown. So we rent. You could say we beat the trend. Renting is difficult enough for us, because we have four cats. Two wouldn’t be a problem for most landlords, but four does give some people pause, no pun intended.

There was enough drama in finding this house. We didn’t know there was more to come. If you ever rent a place where they offer you a lease where either party can get out of the lease with 60 days notice, it just might be the proverbial ‘red flag’. We saw it as an advantage to us. Silly us.

The owners of our current house invoked the option because the current economic crisis has caught them in serious difficulties. They will be moving into this house, and the house they have been living in (it is closer to a McMansion) is a casualty of the economic downturn.

Unlike many people who have been renting houses or apartments and paying the rent faithfully each month, only to face eviction because the owners have not made mortgage payments, we did get those 60 days notice.

Since we received that notice at Halloween (do the math, it put the expiration at New Years’), we’re moving in mid-December. Weather in Atlanta in December isn’t a big deal, but the Holidays are the Holidays pretty much anywhere.

We did have the usual drama finding a place, but that isn’t the point. We just went through this. We’re doing it again. The expense of the move, while less than the cost of moving to a different state (we’ll even be in the same town) is not trivial.

We haven’t completely unpacked yet. We still have about 2,300 books. We’ll be going through them again, seeing if there are a few more (maybe a couple of hundred more) we can sell or give away. What Powell’s doesn’t want to buy, I may do some giveaways right here on this blog, so stay tuned!

Anything we haven’t unpacked since June, I wonder if we still need it?

What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand 10-30-11

What am I plotting to read this week, and why?

Looking ahead, I have two Carina Press titles from Netgalley with November 7 release dates. Therefore, both Slip Point by Karalynn Lee and The Lady’s Secret by Joanna Chambers will be high on this week’s TBR  list. Slip Point is science fiction romance, and I almost always grab those when I see them. The Lady’s Secret is a historical romance involving a young woman passing as a boy. That just looked like fun.

It’s interesting that in October there weren’t a lot of Carina Press titles that really grabbed my interest. In November, more than half the catalog seriously spoke to me. There’s a comment in there someplace.

Lauri J. Owen, the author of Fallen Embers and Blowing Embers, sent me copies of both her books for review. I promised I’d get them both read before Thanksgiving, which means I need to read Fallen Embers, the first book, this week. They’re set in an alternate feudal Alaska, which is especially fascinating to me, having lived there for three years. I just have a thing for Alaska stories.

It being the day before Halloween, anappropriately scary activity is to sort my Netgalley active review list by publication date. Bell Bridge Books recently put Anthony Francis’ Skin Dancer series up, and I grabbed them because they sounded like an interesting urban fantasy twist (a tattoo artist whose tats come to life) and because they are set in Atlanta, where I currently live. Oh yeah, and the publisher has archived the titles on Netgalley, but they still live on my iPad, at least until 11/26. So Frost Moon and Blood Rock just moved to this week’s rotation.

From last week, I’m in the middle of Cast in Secret by Michelle Sagara and Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber. I need to finish Darker Still in time to write the review for a November 1 release. And, I need to finish it tomorrow to have it count as one of my reads for Netgalley month.

The problem is that I want, I desperately want, to read Snuff, Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld book. My husband has it on his iPad. But then, I have A Study in Sherlock on my iPad. We can work out a trade for a few hours. The much more serious (hah!) problem is that I mostly read late at night, while my husband is sleeping. That’s fine for trading the iPad. Not so good for the sleeping-at least not with Pratchett. It’s really hard to sleep when the person next to you is giggling every other page.


“What was the first book that made me feel like a grown up?” That was the question posted in the comments to my review of The Iron Knight. The same poster also made a comment that I’ll deal with later. But about that question…

The question is posed in an article in the Washington Pastime, and the article asks about the first time the reader felt an adult connection to a book.

People talk about reading big books, or using the adult section of the library for the first time. That wasn’t what came to my mind. I read the Lord of the Rings for the first time at about age 10, as someone else who posted did. I know I did not feel the same connection to the book that I did later–that’s why I kept re-reading it. What point in the 25+ times my perspective switched, I don’t know. Re-reading LOTR is bound up in my memories of growing up. It’s part of me.

The books where I think my perspective shifted are Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. When I first picked them up, only the first four or five had been published. I remember waiting forever for the last book. There are six in the series; The Game of Kings, Queens’ Play, The Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, and finally Checkmate. The chess metaphor in the titles is deliberate, and yes, I kept a print copy when we weeded.

Lymond, whose full name is Francis Crawford, is the second son of the Lady Sybilla Crawford and her late husband, Baron Culter. He also a polyglot scholar, soldier, musician, master of disguises, nobleman—and accused outlaw. The Chronicles are historical fiction at their finest and most densely complex, roaming the mid-1500s from the Scottish Lowlands to the French court to the Ottoman Empire to Russia under Ivan the Terrible.

Lymond is a trickster, a wanderer, and a mercenary. There are also forces that are trying to maneuver him and that he spends his life and considerable gifts trying to outwit.

Ultimately, I found Lymond’s story to be about choice. There are two things that he wants. He wants his birthright–and he wants to be loved. He believes that because of all the things he has done, all the crimes he has committed, he is beyond redemption. And he believes that his chance at love, when it finally came, has come too late for him. When both his desires are finally within his reach, he has to make a choice. What does he choose? Why?

All of Lymond’s reasons for the choice he made were adult reasons. Nothing was simple. Nothing in the entire series was simple. The man he was at the beginning of the first book would have made a different choice than the man at the end. And then there’s Philippa. I think the other reason I marked this book specifically is because Philippa’s journey in the book is the one from girl to woman, and I followed her.

I thought The Iron King was also about choice. Ash chooses to become human. Ariella chooses to give her life for Ash. Not just to give him his chance at happiness, but also to give herself her one chance at an afterlife. Ariella lives on within Ash. In return, she gives him a piece of her Winter power, and possibly, a piece of her fey immortality.

Stories about choice always fascinate me. There’s an old episode of Doctor Who that kept running through my head as I read The Iron Knight. I think it’s applicable, but I’m not quite sure exactly how. It’s from the Peter Davison era, the episode was titled Enlightenment. Enlightenment is supposedly a jewel that is the prize for a space ship race. It’s not. Enlightenment is the choice about what to do with the jewel.  Enlightenment is always about the choice.

And speaking about choices. The poster’s other comment was “eventually you make the change to adult fiction”. To which my reply is balderdash! Or stronger words to the same effect. A good story is a good story is a good story. And good stories are always worth reading.

Where ebooks? There ebooks!

Last night, we had our first guest come to the house since we put up our books. It reminded me of an essay I read in Wired a couple of weeks ago that has generated a lot of comments on the Digital Book World group on LinkedIn.

The essay, “5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet,\” by John C. Abell, came to mind because of his 5th reason: you can’t use ebooks as an interior design element. He’s right. One of the first things that people used to say whenever they visited us was something about how many books we had. They were everywhere. Every room in every house had bookshelves, overstuffed bookshelves, including the master bedroom. Every flat surface overflowed. We had boxes of books we never unpacked. And since new books we wanted to read continued to be published, we bought more. But in this move, we shed 1,700 books, and we’re down to 2,300, thanks to our iPads. So the impression of tons of books simply isn’t there. There are four bookcases in the front room, and all the others are in our offices upstairs. The physical collection is shrinking.

What did we lose? We lose that impression of being excruciatingly well-read. Possibly, we lose the impression of being insane. YMMV. In the decision of where to start the alphabet, we were conscious that the end of the alphabet and the miscellany that followed would be on immediate display to anyone who entered the house. Visitors see the Tolkien collection, and all our media books, so Star Trek, Babylon 5, Doctor Who, etc will be right by the door. Anyone who doesn’t know we both like Science Fiction and Fantasy will soon figure it out.

On the other hand, everything from 2010 onwards is missing. It’s on one of our iPads. Did we stop reading? Will anyone care? Or is it the mass of books that impresses? Who knows?  All that can be inferred from the iPads is that we’re both geeks. That’s fairly obvious anyway. We also have every game console known to geek-kind currently hooked up to the TV. But books, books imply an air of erudition that the iPads, consoles and computers just don’t match, no matter what’s concealed within them.

His other reasons were also interesting to think about. His number one reason was something I’ve written about before, that eTBRs don’t command your attention. There’s no pile of books in your physical space getting in your way to jump out at you and say “READ ME!” the way there can be with print books. I borrowed one print book from the local library last week. I finished that one pronto. But that may have more to do with my not owning the thing  (I have over 200 print books I own and haven’t read yet in my house) than it being print.

But Abell’s second reason is the one that I can personally get behind. He comments that a big problem to be solved in the ebook business in general is that if you read ebooks a lot, you don’t have one set of shelves, you have a set of shelves for every app, and no easy way to blend them. He’s right. and it is a right royal pain in the patootie. The joy of using an iPad is that it is supplier-agnostic. I can get ebooks from pretty much anywhere, and I do. But that means I’ve got ebooks in every app imaginable; Nook, Kindle, Google, Overdrive, Bluefire, iBooks, Stanza, etc., with no easy way to combine the lists. In the bad, old print days, my first choice TBR pile was the far end of the kitchen counter. I piled everything there. I need an ebook everything TBR app. Except that it isn’t in the ebooksellers’ best interests to allow me to combine my lists, so that app doesn’t exist yet. I’ll confess that I’ve started using the Overdrive Media Console iPad app as my ereader for any EPUB that isn’t tied to a particular company. It’s a surprisingly good general purpose ereader, and it eliminates my need for a couple of those apps. If only it read PDFs…

Ebooks are here to stay. There are still some issues to be resolved, but there’s no longer a question of whether enough people will adopt ebooks to make them profitable for publishers.

On the other hand, books are here to stay, too. Very few technological revolutions completely wipe out the predecessor. We still have radio, it’s just changed. We still have LPs, they’re just a niche market. We may not ride horses for everyday transportation, but horses are still ridden. Books, both to be read and as treasured objects, will always have a place. I recently watched Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, again. Early in the movie, Spock gives Kirk a copy of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities as a birthday present. Ebooks make good reading, but there’s no way to attach ceremonial weight to them.  For that, you still need a book. 


Culling or Surrender

I’m still trying to decide whether this article was the most frightening or the most liberating thing I ever read. The post is in the PBS blogs, “The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re Going to Miss Almost Everything.” It’s enough to either make or ruin your day.

The writer has done the math on what a person can reasonably expect to accomplish of a particular task in a given lifetime. For example, if, like me, you like to read, and you expect to read two books a week, if you start when you are 15 and you live to be 80 you can reasonably expect to read 6,500 books in your lifetime. A person who reads faster might read more per week, and a precocious child might start sooner. Someone with good genes might live longer (my mom is 82, and still reasonably healthy, I have hope).

Wikipedia says there were over 288,000 titles published in the US in 2009 alone. But in one lifetime, one person can only read so much! And while I might not want to read every single book published in any given year, there are lots of books published in the past that I would want to read, and plenty of books yet to come that I will want to read.

And for every minute I spend reading, that means there is something else I’m missing out on. What’s a person to do?

To begin with, there’s the problem of deciding what “the good stuff” is, even among the books. If almost 300K books are published a year, I’m not going to read them all, I’m going to pick and choose. I’m even going to pick and choose what I’m going to pick and choose from.  This is the culling aspect. It can be pretty powerful to declare, up front, that certain aspects of life, the universe and everything are not worth wasting my time on, for whatever reason I choose.

One of the Grand Masters of Science Fiction, Ted Sturgeon, is famous for something called Sturgeon’s Law. “90% of science fiction is crap. But then, 90% of everything is crap”. Culling is all about deciding, up front, what you believe that 90% consists of from your point of view and delineating it as unimportant from the get-go. I don’t read literary fiction unless I get a personal recommendation from someone I trust an awful, awful lot. We didn’t get cable TV when we moved, because we don’t watch it. We get our TV from Netflix, or DVD box sets. TV is just not important.

The thing about Sturgeon’s Law is that if you don’t cull in giant swaths, knocking out whole categories like literary fiction or TV, then you have to figure out which part of each specific subcategory is part of the 90% chaff, and which is that 10% wheat you’re looking for. For areas where someone is well informed, it can be relatively easy, but if you are attempting to be well-informed across a broader and broader spectrum, it gets more and more difficult.  We focus on what we love and what we care about because it’s easier.

Surrender is different, surrender is more like saying, “I know that I would love that art exhibit, and I’ll be sorry that I missed it, but something else had a higher priority. Life’s too short.” It’s hard to admit that we won’t get to do it all. I want to read all the books. I want to watch at least all the science fiction TV series that I haven’t seen, and see all the reboots that haven’t yet been made. And yet, if I’d done every single thing I ever wanted to do, wouldn’t that be boring? What would come next?

I wonder how Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson would do now with the volume of information that comes pouring down the internet every nanosecond. Would they cull, or would they surrender?