February 21, 2015
Musa Publishing announced yesterday that they were closing shop. The impact for me is minor, as I had only one short story with them, my m/m fantasy short “And if I offered thee a bargain“. The Musa edition will be going away on 28 February, but there’ll be a new edition at some point.
In the meantime, all Musa titles are 80% off until they shutter the website on 28 February. I am in two minds about this, because it damages the reprint market for authors. But if there were any titles from Musa that caught your eye, go and get them now, because even if they reappear from another publisher, it may be a while.
January 11, 2015
Chicklit mystery set in Los Angeles. Maddie Springer is a young fashion designer who tries to track down her lawyer boyfriend when he goes missing, and finds herself in the middle of embezzlement and murder. I nearly stopped reading on the first page, wherein Maddie describes her behaviour on the freeway when she’s late for a meeting with her boyfriend. Almost causing an accident by cutting into lanes and doing her make-up in the mirror at high speed was presumably supposed to make her look adorably ditzy, but I simply found it loathsome. I did keep reading, but it coloured my view of the character for the rest of the book.
It’s an odd one for me. The mystery plot was enjoyable if predictable, and there were things I liked a lot, with some good supporting characters; but it was hard work getting to the end and if it had been a paper edition I would have probably been high-speed skim-reading. No more than a two star for me and I’m not inclined to try anything else by this author, even if I can see why other people were bowled over by it.
January 10, 2015
I was a bit pathetic at book logging last year, wasn’t I? Doubtless I shall be again this year, but I’m going to try to do slightly better and at least get to the end of January before it all goes horribly wrong…
Ben Goldacre is a very angry man, with good reason. In this book he lays out how the pharmaceutical industry has distorted drug research in pursuit of profit, sometimes intentionally, sometimes entirely without malice but with equally devastating effects for patient welfare. This matters because patients are prescribed less effective drugs, or drugs which are outright harmful, at huge financial expense to those paying for the drugs. This isn’t a conspiracy theory book; Goldacre is quite clear that many valuable drugs have come out of the industry, and that most of the people who work in it want to make better drugs. He sets out in detail how and why bias is introduced into both research and prescribing practices, putting it in layman’s terms but linking to the research papers and court documents that back up what he’s saying. He also addresses the failings of the current regulatory system, and proposes ways to improve things — pointing out that unless real controls with serious financial penalties are put in place, even those companies which genuinely want to reform will be under commercial pressure to continue with bad practice in a race to the bottom.
It’s a dense and at times exhausting read. But Goldacre has done a decent job of making the issue accessible to a wide audience with a direct interest, from patients to practising doctors and academics. You can skim a lot of the book to get the general gist, or you can read it in details without following the links, or you can dig into research material he drew on and has laid out in meticulous footnotes and citations. He concludes the original edition with practical suggestions about what individual people can do to improve things, often simply by asking questions.
I read the second edition, which has a “what happened next” chapter about the reaction to the first edition. As he had predicted, there was a backlash in an attempt to discredit him — but there was also a lot of covert feedback from industry personnel acknowledging the problems and considering how to improve things. While there’s always a “the lurkers support me in email” issue with uncredited sources, he does also offer some examples of companies which have publicly moved to improve transparency.
Bad Pharma is an angry but rational examination of a real problem that affects millions of people, including almost anyone reading this review. It’s a worthwhile read, even if it makes for uncomfortable reading for patients, doctors and companies alike.
December 26, 2014
Having remembered to go and check, yes, the SF Gateway is also having a sale. Lots of classic sf in ebook form from those lovely people at Gollancz. More info at their blog:
Books. You know you want them.
December 26, 2014
And just as I was thinking that I hadn’t seen anything about Book View Cafe having a sale, guess what drops into my inbox…. 50% off a selection of books from Dec 26 through to Jan1. :-) Obviously I have some conflict of interest here, since several of my friends are members of the Book View Cafe, but I’ve been very impressed over the years with the Cafe’s output. The discount is automatically applied at the checkout.
Stuff I’ve already read and enjoyed:
The Wisteria Tearoom romantic mysteries
plus the new one which I haven’t read but has just gone in my shopping basket
Misc historical romance
Just go and buy this if you like urban fantasy, okay? Chaz Brenchley’s Northern Lights duology is stunning.
Steampunk Jeeves and Wooster pastiche
And another “latest in a series I already read”
I know I’ve missed some while skimming.
December 26, 2014
Why yes, I *am* going through my email backlog… Here is a message from our sponsors about a one day sale. It covers Loose Id’s entire catalogue, and you may find a selection of my delightful romances at my Loose Id author page.
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December 26, 2014
Gacked from BookBub: Carolyn Jewel’s historical m/f romance Scandal is free until Jan 1. I read this during my binge on Regency romance earlier this year, and enjoyed it — it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but I think worth grabbing as a freebie to see if you like Jewel’s writing style.