Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I've been reading

I've been enjoying setting up my Kindle, getting it loaded with all the books that I already owned, downloading lots of samples of books that I want to read--or might want to read--and just generally getting it set up the way I want. One thing I like about the actual Kindle as opposed to the Kindle app is that you can organize books in categories, or "Collections," as Amazon calls them. I currently have:

  • Currently Reading (2)
  • To Read (38)
  • Read (77)
  • Slushpile (172)
  • Reference (26)
  • Samples (39)

"Currently Reading, "To Read," and "Read" are pretty self-explanatory--although "To Read" is mostly made of of books that I've actually purchased and know that I want to read fairly soon. I have a lot of books that I downloaded for free that I don't really know whether I want to read or not--that's the "Slushpile." I couldn't think of a good name for it--does anyone have any better suggestions? I don't download every free book that's offered, but if it sounds like I might like it, I do. It's easy enough to delete them if I don't want them, after all.

"Reference" is dictionaries, the user guide, a Bible, and a bunch of knitting patterns that I converted to Kindle format. I had originally created a "Patterns" collection, but that forced the list of collections to go into two pages, and I didn't like that. (See: OCD) The reason the list is too long is that I also got a subscription to Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, and you can't put those into a collection, for some annoying reason. So the current edition stays on the homepage, and previous editions are saved into a "Periodicals: Back Issues" collection that is automatically created once you have more than one edition. And then there's the "Archived Items (119)" collection which is currently all the books that I'm pretty sure I don't care about, and that I haven't bothered to download.

So that means I currently have, or have immediate access to, 473 ebooks on the Kindle. That ought to keep me busy for awhile . . . About 5 years, I guess, if my current rate of reading continues, and of course, that doesn't take into account any new books.

I know I've mentioned Swagbucks here before. Since June 1, when I joined, through searching, a couple of online shopping awards, a few "special offers" and several referrals, I've earned about $150 worth of Amazon gift cards. And somewhere along the line I lucked into a medical focus group forum that pays in Amazon cards--$10/month plus an occasional $25 for a special project--so I haven't spent any "real" money in quite awhile. The gift cards give me free rein to buy pretty much what I want, although I still do spend quite a bit of time deciding what to buy.

There are a lot of good independent authors out there, and I've purchased quite a few books for a dollar or two; mine is one of those, of course! It's currently selling for $1.79, and I've sold something like 80 copies so far, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but as Bob says, "how many people do you know who've written a book and sold any copies?"

Lately I've been reading mostly paranormal, urban fantasy. I just finished the third book in a series that I consider the best thing I've read in a very long time. It's the "October Daye" series by Seanan McGuire. The first book is "Rosemary and Rue," the second is "A Local Habitation," and I just finished "An Artificial Night." The books center around October ("Toby") Daye, a changeling, that is, half human, half faerie, who lives in San Francisco. In the first book, Rosemary and Rue, she has only recently been released from a curse that caused her to spend 14 years as a goldfish. She's lost her husband and her child, and she's trying to stay away from magic. She works in a grocery store and tries to have a normal life. But she's pulled back into the magical world when a friend--a faerie--is murdered, and she has to find the killer or lose her own life.

I love Toby and all the secondary characters that populate the books. I've read a review that compares the books to the early Dresden files books by Jim Butcher, and the early Anita Blake novels, and I would have to agree. They have the same feel of a world just a little off kilter from ours, a place where, if you look hard enough, and know what to do, you can walk into another dimension, one populated by magical creatures that, in the end, aren't really all that different from ourselves. There are the aforementioned faeries, plus selkies, a sea witch, and a very interesting relationship with The King of Cats. She also has a couple of cats (Cagney and Lacey), plus a rose goblin, Spike--a cat-shaped and -sized creature made of thorns.

In the second book, "A Local Habitation," Toby has pretty much given up her hopes for having an ordinary life, and is working full time as a private investigator. She is asked to find the daughter of her liege, who owns a computer company, and who hasn't been returning his phone calls. Most of the action in the book takes place at the computer company, creating a "country house murder" of sorts.

Children are being kidnapped in "An Artificial Night," the third book in the series, and two of them are the children of Toby's good friends. Upon investigation, it turns out that the children were taken by Blind Michael, a figure from a children's nursery rhyme, and he plans to change them into either "riders" or "ridden," i.e., magical horses. This book is much darker than the previous two, I thought, and Toby finds herself in much greater danger, much of it self-imposed. She can't abide the thought of any children being in Blind Michael's control, so even though the quest seems suicidal, she has no choice but to try to rescue them.

I really love these books, I think they're wonderful. They're both fantasy and mystery, and both aspects are very well done. I had originally picked up "Rosemary and Rue" at the library, but loved it so much that I purchased it for the Kindle, too, so that I have all of the books on it. There are two more under contract, and at least three more to come. Late Eclipses will be released in March, followed by "One Salt Sea."

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