This month in the mine shaft: November

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  • Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir ★★★★☆
  • Nightlife by Rob Thurman ★★★★☆
  • Allie Beckstrom Series #1-5
    • Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk ★★★★☆
    • Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk ★★★★☆
    • Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk ★★★☆☆
    • Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk ★★★★☆
    • Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk ★★★☆☆
  • Kate Daniels Series #6-10
    • Magic Rises  by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★
    • Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★
    • Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★
    • Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews ★★★★☆
    • Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews ★★★☆☆
  • The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith ★★★☆☆
  • Mind Games by Carolyn Crane ★★★☆☆
  • The Wing Commander’s Curse by Gillian St. Kevern ★★★☆☆
  • Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson ★★☆☆☆
  • Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold ★★☆☆☆
  • Sacrificed in Shadow by S.M. Reine ★★☆☆☆
  • The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren ★★☆☆☆

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

 

 

This month in the mine shaft: May

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  • Nightmare Ink by Marcella Burnard ★★☆☆☆
  • Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks ★★☆☆☆
  • The Invisible Library Series ★★★★★
    • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman
    • The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman
  • Working Stiff by Rachel Caine ★★★★☆
  • Legion Series ★★★★★
    • Legion by Brandon Sanderson
    • Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson
    • Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson
  • Innkeeper Chronicles ★★★☆☆
    • Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
    • Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
    • One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
  • Alex Craft Series ★★★☆☆
    • Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
    • Grave Dance by Kalayna Price
    • Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

 

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(But what’s this, two novels with the same title? Stay tuned for a battle of the Night Lives and their goth protagonists.)

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Book Watching

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

 

 

[Book Review] In which I re-evaluate my bias against magic libraries

 

Book Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Canaries, this is the book I was looking for when I had my ill-fated encounter with The Eyre Affair in 2017 and swore off all book-themed fantasy novels. Little did I know that The Invisible Library was out there.

Two years later, here I am, eating my words. Fantasy books about books can be excellent.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (and the rest of the series) combines the high stakes of a spy thriller with the shenannigans of fantasy novel, populated with colorful characters, an intriguing and competent main lead, and several series level mysteries that kept me hooked. Continue reading

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?

 

 

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?

 

 

[Pitch Slapped] A look at 600 recent review requests

600 Book Review Requests

I’ve been checking the canary review request inbox periodically, browsing around for jewels to catch the eye, but last week, I decided to get serious about it.

The Unread pile had grown to a little over 600 emails since February, and I wanted to do something about it. Over the next hour or so, I cut the pile down to a more manageable 100 review requests that had piqued my interest, then down again to some 50 books to check out and try.

I thought I’d share some general observations about my process and what worked and didn’t work to intrigue me as I powered through the requests. Here are some things that immediately struck emails from consideration:

1. Not the right genre. Poetry anthologies, political thrillers, historical literature. Gone.

2. Couldn’t find the blurb. If I couldn’t immediately see what the book was about, or if it asked me to open an attachment to read the blurb, or if I had to click a link, I moved on. Continue reading

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?

 

 

[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

This month in the mine shaft: July

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  • Sabriel by Garth Nix ★★★★★
  • Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom  ★★★★☆
  • Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker  ★★★★☆
  • The Courtship of Julian St. Albans by Amy Crook ★★★☆☆
  • Ghost in the Wires by Mitnick, Simon & Wozniak ★★☆☆☆
  • Zoobiquity by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Kathryn Bowers ★★☆☆☆
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley ★☆☆☆☆

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

Want to buddy read something?