Tuesday Thingers

Today’s question: Series. Do you collect any series? Do you read series books? Fantasy? Mystery? Science fiction? Religious? Other genre? Do you use the series feature in LT to help you find new books or figure out what you might be missing from a series? — as ever, hosted by the wonderful Boston Bibliophile.

No, I didn’t forget this week, and I wasn’t too tired. I was too busy writing. Writing a guest blog post, admittedly, but at least I had the energy to write 1300 words of something. However, a day late, here is this week’s Tuesday Thinging.

Um, yeah, I read series. A large chunk of my LiveJournal friends list is the result of reading one particular series, namely Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. One of the things I did on the first day I had net access at home was subscribe to the Pratchett groups on Usenet. (Hi, guys.) I’ve read a lot of sf series over the years, though I don’t try to collect that many of them these days.

And I tend to read mystery series. One of my recent obsessions is the Dalziel and Pascoe series. I vaguely knew that it existed, but had never read any until I picked up Dialogues of the Dead from the local library’s “why not try this” shelf near the front desk while I was house-sitting for a friend for a few days — and was blown away. I’d picked up a couple of other books in the series at the same time. I read those, then went back to find any more the library might have. And after that I started buying them. I got my LibraryThing account a few months later, so that was the first series where I started using LT to keep track of which ones I’d read, and which ones I’d bought my own copies of. (I intend to get all of them, but some of the early ones weren’t in print in the US at the time, and I was accumulating them as they appeared in the local second-hand bookshop.)

What I like in a series is the ongoing development of the world and its people. I’m not really looking for the same book over and over, although those can be fun when done well. I’m looking for growth, in the writer and their world. And when I find a series that offers me that, I’ll stick with it for a long time.

guest blogging at The Sweet Flag

Today I’m the guest blogger over at The Sweet Flag, Jeanne Barrack’s blog about gay speculative fiction. 1300 words of wibbling about my books

Feel free to wander over and ask questions, though preferably not questions along the lines of “Jules, why are you writing 1300 words of blog post about writing books when you could be writing the next book?”

Tuesday Thingers

And… I remembered to go and look at this week’s prompt for Tuesday Thingers, in spite of being spaced out on cold medication and lack of sleep.

Today’s question: Early Reviewers- do you participate? How many books (approximately) have you received through the program? Have you liked them generally? What’s your favorite ER book? Do you participate in the discussion group on LT?

I signed up for Early Reviewers very early on in the programme, but then didn’t put in for books for a few months because I was in the throes of moving. Once I was settled again, I started putting my name in for the draw, and so far I’ve received two review copies through the programme. Both were relatively early on, when the ratio of requests to copies available wasn’t quite so high.

I’ve enjoyed both books I received. Gents is one I might have bought for myself anyway — in fact, I think I may have read a review of it when it was first released back in 1997, and thought then that it sounded interesting. Pandora in the Congo is one I might not have picked up if I’d seen it in a bookshop, but the blurb intrigued me when I was reading the descriptions of the books available in the ER programme that month, and it ended up as my third choice of three I thought I might enjoy. So for me ER has brought me one enjoyable book I might otherwise never have read.

I used to be fairly active on the discussion group, but that was before I went back to working full-time at a day job with a much longer commute than I’ve ever had before. I just don’t have time and energy at the moment for a lot of my usual online discussion, although as I get less tired just from the shock of Having A Job, I’m picking some of it up again. I miss the ER group. Maybe if I score a review copy this month…

half price rebate sale at Fictionwise

Fictionwise is having a Micropay rebate — buy any ebook there with a credit card or PayPal, get half the price back in a Micropay credit you can spend on more books. It’s on until Thursday. Some of my books are available on Fictionwise and in the sale, so if you’ve been meaning to pick up Dolphin Dreams, Mindscan, Lord and Master or Promises To Keep, now’s your chance to get them cheap:

book log

Before I forget… Last week’s reading involved finishing the Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear novelisation by Terrance Dicks as my lunchtime reading at work. Competent writing and I enjoyed it as light reading, but it’s very much a straight script to novel conversion, and not something I can really see people wanting to read other than as a reminder of the episode.

The Cybook-on-the-bus reading was something had downloaded from somewhere or other, which I started reading more or less at random because it was there. The Night Life of the Gods by Thorne Smith turned out to be very funny, and quite astonishingly racy given the publication date of 1931. It’s out of copyright in Europe, so fairly readily available online as an ebook.

Also beta-reading someone’s WIP, and so there was a fast read of a previous piece of the series that I’d not yet read so that I could catch obvious continuity errors. I need to poke the Cybook and see how to put an HTML file on it in readable format so that I can read the entire corpus on the bus next week, even if I do own a large chunk of it in treeware anyway.

September booklog

The Cybook is making a serious difference to the amount of reading I’m doing. I stopped using it for a couple of weeks during the worst of the RSI bout, but since then I’ve been reading on the bus most workdays. Which is good, because by the time I get home and have done dinner, I’m too tired to read.

So, what have I been reading in September?

Dead rainforest product:

I did finally finish Cover Her Face, the first novel in the Dalgliesh series by PD James. It was my lunchtime reading at work for a month or so, and I was having a lot of trouble with it. It’s my least favourite of the Dalgliesh books anyway, but I normally do like it. This time I was finding most of the characters so unlikeable that I didn’t really want to spend time with them. On the other hand, this time through I was paying proper attention to the way James misdirects the reader. The first time I read the book, I thought afterwards that she had cheated — but in fact she never lies, merely uses reading protocols to mislead the reader into seeing something that isn’t there. It’s cleverly done, and it’s interesting to look at how she does it.

After that I started on a Doctor Who novelisation, Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear novelised by Terrance Dicks. This was one of my favourite Who serials when I was a teenager, so I grabbed the book when they had some stock of old Target titles in the shop at the Who exhibition last year. I’m only a few pages in, but it’s a competent script novelisation so far.

And at home I was reading “Torchwood”: Trace Memory, one of the second season Torchwood tie-in novels. Thoroughly enjoyed it, although I was too sore to type a review at the time.

On the Cybook:

Accelerando by Charles Stross. That link goes to the paperback edition on Amazon UK, but Charlie’s publishers were good enough to let him put out a free ebook version under a creative commons licence. I like it a lot, this is the second or third time I’ve read it, and one of these days I won’t come out of it too drunk on the concepts to write a coherent review of it.

Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi. This was Scalzi’s first novel, and originally self-published. Don’t let that put you off — Scalzi was a professional writer years before he wrote this book, and it shows. I imagine that the pro-published version coming out from Tor later this month will have had the loving attention of an editor, and will be subtly improved by it, but the free version still available on Scalzi’s website rocks, as I mentioned the night I finished it.

Sample chapters from My Life, Bill Clinton’s autobiography. I think this is one of the samplers that come pre-loaded on the Cybook when you buy it new — it’s the first few chapters from the book, enough to give you a solid chunk that’s an interesting read in its own right. It doesn’t really entice me to run out and buy the whole thing, but only because this isn’t my sort of taste in books. It’s well written and has some interesting stories about his childhood that would make good slice-of-life reading even if they weren’t about the former President of the US. I’m rather curious as to what extent this was ghost-written, because I can see Clinton having the writing skills to do at least the rough draft of this book himself.

Other reading — I did a bit of crit group work on a friend’s current WIP, which is somewhat different from ordinary reading. But it bodes well that I was intending to read only one chapter because I was tired, and ended up reading all three in the first chunk up for crit. There’s a new chunk up that will probably be my reading tonight. I may have to go and re-read the earlier books in the series to make sure I catch continuity errors, so those will get loaded into the Cybook later this weekend.