January 21, 2019, 04:48:41 PM

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Messages - DrNefario

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I finished Colours in the Steel (Fencer #1) by K J Parker over the weekend. I enjoyed it, and will be picking up book 2, even though book 1 was pretty well self-contained and it's not obvious where it's going next.

In the meantime, I've started Rhapsody in Black (Hooded Swan #2) by Brian Stableford, because I needed something short and easy to read. This is a space adventure from the early part of his career, in the 70s. I can't really remember much about what happened in the first book, so that's all I've got. I think there are six in the series, and I bought them all ages ago, so it's probably about time I got on with it.

This is also the start of my new idiotic plan to read a book whose title contains the word Black every month of 2019. I came up with this when I realised that I'd almost done it by accident for the last 4 months of 2018, and that I had several Black books I wanted to read in 2019. I don't know why I do this to myself. It seems that whenever my outstanding challenges start to run a bit low, I come up with something else.

I keep meaning to go through my 2018 list and figure out what I liked and what I didn't. I might remember to do it one day.

For me, though, the ones that tend to stand out are the ones I really liked and didn't have any expectations going in, like Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe. If I just read the next book by an author I already know I like, it doesn't tend to stand out so much.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: January 12, 2019, 09:33:19 PM »
I finished Fool's Run by Patricia McKillip yesterday. It was ok, but kind of odd. I'm not sure her style converts that well to SF.

Having finished a quick Agatha Christie earlier today, I'm now planning to start Colours in the Steel by K J Parker.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: January 11, 2019, 01:04:39 PM »
Sometimes I'm quite glad I didn't get on with Gardens of the Moon and wrote the whole thing off.

I don't tend to read so much brand new stuff - it'll normally be at least a couple of years old by the time I get to it - so, oddly, I will often be more up-to-date on self-published books, where I can borrow them for "free" as a side-effect of my Amazon Prime membership. (And, I feel I should use my kindle loans to get the best value for my subscription.)

I think the only trad-published 2018 book I read in 2018 was Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence, which was an opportunistic library loan. Mostly I feel like I ought to be working on the hundreds of unread books I already own.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Your year in books 2018
« on: January 07, 2019, 04:18:42 PM »
I don't use GR either. My tracking is spread across a handful of google docs.

Number of books read: 103
Total pages read: 32,447
Average pages/book: 315

Biggest book: 1236 pages (Judas Unchained - Peter F Hamilton)
Smallest book: 28 pages (Pandemonium: The Right of Spring - Jared Shurin (ed))

By women: 34.2 (The 0.2 is the Lost Lore anthology. I count editors for anthologies, and this one was credited to The Terrible Ten, two of whom were women, by my count.)

Books Acquired: 120
Of which started: 39
Paid: 69
Borrowed: 17
Free: 34

I don't have a numerical goal for 2019, although I guess it would be nice to make 100 again.

My main goal, as usual, is to end the year with fewer unread books. Since I failed last year, I'm using last year's deficit (17) as my stretch goal.

My secondary goal is to read more books by women. I'm aiming for 60% this year, with a stretch goal of reversing last year's percentage (which was about 33%, so 67%). Last year I read about 1/3 fantasy, 1/3 SF, 1/6 crime and 1/6 non-fiction. I think I'm probably OK for fantasy. SF is a bit trickier, but I still have plenty of good books by women to read. My crime reading is predominantly women. What really lets me down at the moment is non-fiction, where all I hardly have anything.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: January 05, 2019, 12:01:19 PM »
Started Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed a few nights ago. Shaping up to be really interesting.
One of my favourite Le Guin books.
Me too. I wasn't convinced after Left Hand of Darkness, but The Dispossessed was great.

I've just finished my first book of 2019: The Healers' Road by S E Robertson. This self-published book was recommended on Reddit as a slice-of-life fantasy, and I decided to make it my December Kindle Owners Lending Library loan. I mostly enjoyed it. It's a low-stakes character study about two mismatched healers/medics working for a charity as part of a caravan. Agna's a spoilt rich kid, and Keifan is a troubled army medic. It's quite an enjoyable read - I think I'll probably read the second one sometime - but it does go a bit flat after the first third or so. Once they start to get on, everything else goes a bit too well for them.

Next up I think I'm going to read Patricia McKillip's Fool's Run, a rare venture into SF for her, and for me a fairly manky used paperback that looks to have been across the Atlantic at least twice.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What did you read in December 2018
« on: December 31, 2018, 05:50:43 PM »
Killer Dungeon - Phil Tucker - Third and final part of the Euphoria Online series. Very enjoyable bit of LitRPG.

The Rainbow and the Rose - Nevil Shute - It's a bit of an annual tradition for me to read a Nevil Shute in memory of my father, who was a fan. This is one of Shute's later books, and tells the story of the three significant relationships a pilot had in the course of his life. It was fine. Highly readable, as always.

The Grand Tour - Patricia C Wrede & Caroline Stevermer - The second Cecelia and Kate book. Historical fantasy of manners. After the events of the first book, our heroines head off on a tour of Europe, and get caught up in a plot. Maybe not as much fun as the first book, but still pretty entertaining.

Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee - Bonkers but still relatable bit of military SF. SF is stretching it a bit - I mean, it's mostly in space, and featuring space empires, but let's be honest here, there's not much science going on. I really enjoyed this once I got my head round it.

Destination Unknown - Agatha Christie - I always heave a bit of a sigh when I find out my next Christie is a thriller rather than a whodunnit. Minor.

Service Games - Sam Pettus - A history of Sega. Fairly informative.

Imager's Challenge - L E Modesitt Jr - Book 2 of the Imager Portfolio. It's quite a long time since I read book 1, and I didn't really get on with this much. Essentially it's about our hero getting backed into a corner until he murders his way out.

Classic Scrapes - James Acaster - Humorous semi-memoir from a stand-up comedian.

The Black Tides of Heaven - J Y Yang - Tor novella with a Chinese flavour. Pretty good.

Dogs of War - Adrian Tchaikovsky - I really enjoyed this SF about bio-engineered animal soldiers.

That's 10 books read, and with 9 acquired that's a small gain.

Over the whole year I read 103 books, which is great - I really wasn't sure I would be able to make 100 again now I've dropped my daily short stories, but to some extent I filled the gap with non-fiction - however I acquired 120 books so I've still ended up with 17 more books than I started the year with. That's going to be my target for next year. (Only 69 of them were purchases, so that's something.)

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: December 31, 2018, 01:07:35 PM »
Next is Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It's relatively short, so I have some slight hope of finishing it before the end of the year.
I did manage to finish Dogs of War this morning. A really good SF book, about bio-engineered animal soldiers. It felt a bit like a fix-up; I'm not sure if the various parts ever were published separately, or were intended to be.

No idea what's next. Maybe The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin, which I meant to read a couple of books ago, but didn't for practical reasons (it's a paperback, and I was going to be away from home, so it made more sense to start an ebook), but I'm not sure I'm in the mood.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: December 29, 2018, 04:12:48 PM »
Finished Imager's Challenge (Imager #2) by LE Modesitt Jr. I didn't really like it that much. Maybe I left it too long after the first one, but this one seemed to have a lot of unnecessary murdering going on. This was my 100th book of the year, which is nice.

Next is Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It's relatively short, so I have some slight hope of finishing it before the end of the year.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: December 21, 2018, 07:40:34 PM »
I finished Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. I really enjoyed it in the end. It's weird, but it still manages to make its weirdness comprehensible, so you understand the stakes, and the tactics. The next one is going on my wishlist.

Agatha Christie break now, then I'm thinking maybe finally the second Imager book by L E Modesitt Jr. I'm not sure how well I remember what happened in the first.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: December 14, 2018, 01:29:24 PM »
I finished The Grand Tour (Cecelia & Kate #2) by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer a couple of nights ago. I enjoyed it, although I think I'd still say the first one has the edge. There didn't seem to be as much point in having two narrators when they are together for most of the book.

I've moved on to Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, but I'm not really sure I'm in the right mood for it. I was a bit too tired last night and didn't take much in, and it seems like a book where you need to be on the ball.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Fantastic lines from books
« on: December 11, 2018, 01:51:52 PM »
>“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” - Neuromancer

Trouble with that one is, you gotta be old enough to remember CRT televisions. And the concept of a dead channel, which is pretty much nonsensical in a modern context.
Someone did re-use this line more recently to mean a clear blue sky. I wish I could remember who. Charles Stross, maybe?

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: December 10, 2018, 01:15:28 PM »
I finished my foray into general fiction, and have moved on to The Grand Tour by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. This is the second of the Cecelia & Kate historical fantasies of manners. I'm enjoying it so far, although I think it might be longer than I thought.

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