This month in the mine shaft: April

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  • That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn ★★★★☆
  • A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson ★★★★☆
  • Good as Gold by T.J. Land ★★★★☆
  • Pirate Nemesis by Carysa Locke ★★☆☆☆
  • Origins by Ilona Andrews ★★☆☆☆
  • Penric and Desdemona Series ★★★★☆
    • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Penric’s Fox by Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Penric’s Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Mira’s Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
    • The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Cold Days by Jim Butcher [Reread] ★★★★☆
  • Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews ★★★☆☆
  • I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly ★★☆☆☆
  • Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews ★★★☆☆

 

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Onward to May! What are you reading right now?

 

 

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Penguin shuts down FirstToRead, and a look at what’s next

firsttoread

I can’t decide if I’m more surprised that Penguin Random House’s FirstToRead early reader access platform is shutting down this July, or that it took so long. I took a dive into FirstToRead’s point and review system in 2016, and even then, the signs weren’t great; the program’s social media accounts had been abandoned, the books on offer were also available on NetGalley, and the site went down for two whole days in the middle of my investigations…

Still, FirstToRead’s system of getting people to read and review its books appeared to be working. From my 2016 math, for every 100 free advanced galleys released per available book, the review feedback rates were in the 20-40 percent range. That review rate seems to be on par with NetGalley review rates for small or coop publishers.

And yet, and yet. For an established publisher like Penguin? The payoff probably wasn’t enough to justify staffing, hosting and maintenance—especially since FirstToRead merely replicated some of Penguin’s NetGalley offerings. 

And so the FirstToRead platform is being officially shut down this July.

Where To Next: Reader Rewards

Even as FirstToRead enters its end days, Penguin is advertising its new program, Reader Rewards, a pay-to-play rewards system in which you register eligible purchases to earn points for a free book.

According to the website’s FAQ, earning “120 points (the equivalent of uploading proof of purchase for 12 books)” gets you “any eligible book(s) on penguinrandomhouse.com for free (up to a $30 value).” Points expire after two years, and code expires within six months of issue.

So, What Now?

If you have a FirstToRead account, check in and use up any spare points on May’s book lotteries. They won’t carry over once the program shuts down in July 2019.

If you’re a regular buyer of Penguin Random House books—and any of its insane number of imprints—then sure, sign up for ReaderRewards and take advantage of your purchases.

And if you’re mostly looking for ARCs, there’s always NetGalley.

Canaries, have you ever used any of these platforms?

What’s been your experience?

 

 

This month in the mine shaft: September

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  • This Is an Uprising by Mark Engler, Paul Engler ★★★★★
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela ★★★★☆
  • Omega Rising by Jessica Meats ★★★☆☆
  • Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox ★★★☆☆
  • If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda ★★☆☆☆
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde  ★☆☆☆☆

 

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Onward to October! What’s on your to-read list?

Want to buddy read something?

 

 

This month in the mine shaft: August

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  • The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, Alastair Smith ★★★★☆
  • The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey ★★★☆☆
  • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen ★★★☆☆
  • Omega Rising by Jessica Meats ★★★☆☆
  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley ★★☆☆☆

 

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Onward to September! What’s on your to-read list?

Want to buddy read something?

 

 

2017 (Scifi) Reading Resolutions – Update

This year, one of my reading goals included a dive into the science fiction Locus Award list, from 1978 to 2016.

Progress so far: 

  • 1985    The Integral Trees by Larry Niven ★★☆☆☆
  • 1992    Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold ★★★★★
  • 2000    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson ★★★☆☆
  • 2012    Embassytown by China Miéville ★★★★★
  • 2013    Redshirts by John Scalzi ★★☆☆☆

And here are my upcoming reads: Continue reading

[Book Review] That’s one way to make it in New York

Omega

Book Review: Omega Rising by Jessica Meats

What’s this? A quick 90-page novella of a story about a down-on-her-luck Jenny who moves to New York City in hopes of getting a minimum wage job to cover her rent, only to find herself hired by a security firm and leading a secret battle against aliens.

I know, right? Continue reading

[Book Review] A dark and stormy night, plus amnesia

RookBook Review: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

“Dear you,

The body you are wearing used to be mine.”

Myfanwy Thomas opens her eyes to find herself standing in the pouring rain, in a London park, surrounded by bodies, with absolutely no memory of who she is, and a letter in the pocket of her coat addressed to her.

This book had me hooked from that first line.

The mystery is tantalizing – I couldn’t get enough of it. Who’s after Myfanwy? Aliens? Evil scientists? Paranormal? Government conspiracy? The story unspooled its revelations one by one, teasing and keeping the tension taught. Myfanwy starts out as a brilliant combo of practical, cool-headed, and completely lost as she tries to a) stay alive and b) navigate the deadly life of her past self. Continue reading