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?

 

 

Book Watching: Fairies, daemons & Catch-22.

Book Watching

I’m back, and here are some book-to-movie trailers to distract you from how long I’ve been away. Enjoy!

Artemis Fowl

Based on the canary favorite Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, the first trailer has us exchanging cautious looks. With director Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express, Thor, Cinderella, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) at the helm, it could turn out to be a lot of things. Plus, when one of the book’s cornerstones is its humorous writing style, how do you translate that into a movie?

Actor lineup features a couple new (or relatively new) faces. Artemis Fowl will be played by newcomer Ferdia Shaw, while Captain Holly Short will be played by Lara McDonnell. Of the more established names, we have Judi Dench and Nonso Anozie to play Commander Root and Butler respectively.

Let’s see how it goes this fall.

Release Date: August 9, 2019

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

If fun fairy spy adventure romps aren’t your thing, but you still end up at a theater on August 9, we’ve got you covered. Looks like everyone’s favorite traumatic childhood memory has now been adapted for the big screen.

Horror director André Øvredal (Trollhunter) is leading this adaptation, and if you want to know more, you’re gonna have to look it up yourself, because memories of this terrifying collection are flooding back and I am noping my way out of this post.

Release Date: August 9, 2019

His Dark Materials

Okay, so this one is actually, honest-to-goodness happening and I am stoked. We last chirped about this show in fall 2016, and between the trailer and actor lineup, it looks like His Dark Materials will be well worth the wait.

I mean, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda? Yes, please.

More excitingly, main heroine Lyra will be played by Dafne Keen. If Keen’s showing in Logan is anything to go by, she will rock Lyra’s half-feral fierceness.

Plus, chatter is that this 16-episode show has already been confirmed for two seasons. Looks like it’ll be airing on BBC One and HBO.

So yeah. Let’s do this.

Release date: Not soon enough. (Filming wrapped December 2018, with a 2019 release.)

Catch-22

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22.”

Check out what just dropped in trailer-world. Joseph Heller’s dark satire about war is coming to the screen in the form of a Hulu miniseries. And though I’m definitely on the fence about adding another show to my list, the supporting actor has me intrigued. See: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie and Kyle Chandler.

Release date: Friday, May 17

Canaries, what adaptations are you most looking forward to?

 

Today’s Book Blurb: Pretty Cover Edition (again)

The latest, greatest and (sometimes) strangest blurbs from the book world.

Okay, this is the second time in a row I’m derailing this series in favor of cover art, but seriously. This is some lovely design work. Who cares about story when you could have this on your bookshelf?

Storm

“They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift—or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.”

– Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

 

What books have caught your eye recently?

 

[Pitch Slapped] The fewer words, the more each one matters.

“I am wondering if I lost something in the whittling down of this blurb.”

If you’ve gotta ask…

From that sentence alone, I know author David Wozniak totally knew in his heart of hearts what would happened when he cut his 200-word blurb to his 50-word elevator pitch and sent it into our merciless canary claws.  The skies grew dark, women wailed in the streets, old men grew sorrowful and still.

Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing harder than trying to distill the essence of a 50,000+ word story into a few pithy sentences.

But let’s back up and take a look at David’s elevator pitch:

“Each year, Master Voider Democryos sends his brightest student into the war-torn countryside to work magic. But when the young Lady Marine leaves him for another man, he finds his own life ravaged.  Forsaking the comfort of the citadel, he seeks to find her–not to gain her back, but to gain understanding.

Nothing goes as planned.”

First thought: The fewer words, the more each word matters.

In such a short piece, every word carries huge weight. Protip: Avoid using words that have no meaning to the reader. An easy example of this is “Master Voider” – I don’t know what it is, and that’s distracting. Continue reading

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?

 

 

Today’s Book Blurb: Pretty Cover Edition

The latest, greatest and (sometimes) strangest blurbs from the book world.

Who cares about book blurbs when there’s a pretty cover involved? This one’s a stunner. Sure, it’s from a third book in a series I haven’t read. But come on. Isn’t it gorgeous? (And, if you’re on Netgalley, it’s a free download.)

Chaos

“Ruxandra Dracula, a 250-year-old vampire, wants nothing to do with the fallen angel that created her. But when fellow vampire Kade tells her a group of magicians in Moscow is going to summon that angel, Ruxandra knows she must try to stop them.

In Moscow, Ruxandra finds herself caught in a web of political and supernatural intrigue. Empress Anna of Russia wants the vampires to be her spies. Her secret police have magic that is nearly impossible to defeat. A cadre of Russian nobles wants them to kill the empress.

And the Alchemist, the beautiful, whip-smart leader of the magicians, wants Ruxandra as more than just an experimental subject.

As the magicians prepare to summon the fallen angel, Ruxandra must choose: will she kill them to keep the angel from coming, or face the angel and find out her purpose on the earth?

– Mother of Chaos by John Patrick Kennedy

 

What books have caught your eye recently?