Archive for » February, 2012 «

Monday, February 20th, 2012 | Author:

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted about my resolution to cut down my TBR shelf, and I figure it’s time for a check-in. On the plus side, I’ve read 12 books from the tbr-in-2012 collection! On the minus side, I seem to have added…33.

Oh my god, it’s a sickness! These were all freebie books, at least, so I’m not breaking my secondary resolution about not buying anything new for a couple of months, but still.

Because they were free, though, I picked up lots of things I probably wouldn’t have taken a chance on if I was making a purchase, so I’m anticipating one of several desirable outcomes per book, here:

  • I like something new and unexpected! Hooray!
  • I dislike something new so much that I won’t be tempted to get more of it. Hooray!
  • I don’t finish the book, free of the “but you paid for it” obligation that often keeps me going with an unsatisfactory read. Hooray!

As for the 12 books that I’ve managed to remove from the TBR shelf… I have a few thoughts to share about a handful of them.

Primary Inversion, by Catherine Asaro, was one of the first things I read this year, and an interesting way to kick-start 2012. It’s very 90′s-space-opera-y, complete with a lot of specialized terminology for things that ends up reading like calling a rabbit a smeerp, except that the things being described don’t exist, or didn’t exist at the time the author was writing (unlike rabbits). That sounds like a heavy criticism, but I don’t mean it that way – futuristic tech and the technobabble that goes with it is a convention of the genre. I definitely noticed it more in Primary Inversion than I sometimes do, but it wasn’t any kind of barrier to getting sucked into the plot, which combines elements of romance with action-adventure and interplanetary politics. Fun!

Primary Inversion also has something that I don’t see a lot of in fiction of any stripe and really appreciated: therapy. I know, right? But really, psychologists and psychiatrists are usually shallowly portrayed as forces inimical to the heroes when they make it into something like a space opera at all, which is too bad. Because who needs therapy more than super soldiers? Asaro seems to have had similar thoughts, and the conversations between Sauscony, the heroine of Primary Inversion, and Jak Tager, the “heartbender” (aka psychiatrist), are well-written and affecting.

There was one barrier to my full enjoyment, which is that the version I was reading was riddled with minor typographical errors. I got it from the Baen Free Library, so I’m not inclined to complain much since the price was pretty excellent, but the errors are something that I would have happily done without. I have no idea if other editions of the novel are better copy-edited.

Earlier this month, I (re)read some really classic sci-fi in the form of Phillip K. Dick’s “Second Variety,” a novelette-length story that I first read as a preteen and which has haunted me ever since. I find the protagonist less interesting every time I read it, but my fascination with the story as a whole is constant. If you’ve never read it, you should get yourself a copy.

In “branching out a little from science fiction” reading, another thing I’ve read since January and heartily enjoyed is Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price, which reads more or less like fantasy, though there aren’t any magical elements. The speculative angle to the story is that male babies are very rare, creating an interesting social organization where sisters share a husband, and brothers and sons are trade commodities.

I read some reviews of the novel that take Spencer to task for “failing” to write a gender-swapped universe that is pro-feminist (because corruption and coercion exists even with women in charge and/or because there are female rapists, among other reasons), which I think are a little misguided, mostly because I don’t think A Brother’s Price is an attempt to write a gender-swapped universe, pro-feminist or otherwise (and also because I don’t subscribe to the form of feminism that holds that women are intrinsically better than men and that therefore a matriarchy would be automatically awesome, but that’s another issue entirely).

I can’t say that with any certainty, of course, since I haven’t the slightest notion what Spencer meant to do (this is a thing that I wish more reviewers would keep in mind!), but the writing is skillful and the plotting precise, and I don’t think it would have escaped an experienced writer’s notice as she worked that the society in this book isn’t just a flip-flop of our own, in terms of gender – the scarcity of one sex is what drives the (very interesting!) social organization, and it only works if the scarcity is of males, for pretty basic and obvious biological reasons.

That brothers are rare and must be protected against husband-raiders, etc., does set up some interesting gender-role stuff, though, in that Spencer’s young hero acts much like the sheltered heroines of fantasy romance. Which means that the royal princesses, sisters all heading into any prospective marriage together, are the hero, complete with a tendency toward romance-alpha-male-type seduction of the heroine.

So, it’s basically a historical-style romance where the hero is a bunch of princesses and the heroine is a young man with overbearing-but-loving sisters and there are all sorts of political machinations and skullduggery and battles and things. I loved it.

Okay, enough of that. It’s back to the book mines for me!

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Sunday, February 19th, 2012 | Author:

As you may have heard, one of my stories, “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment,” is eligible for Circlet Press’s upcoming best-of collection. Eee! Naturally, I am hoping that everyone will vote for it and it’ll be included! And of course I’d hope that for any of the stories I’ve written. But “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” is the story that snuck up and stole my heart, and it would be particularly wonderful to have this one make it into a print anthology.

I thought I’d post an excerpt to try and encourage some more votes, and I’ve decided on the first kiss between our heroine, Mary Bennet (yes, that Mary Bennet), and the incubus she has accidentally summoned and bound to her, who calls himself Nick. Romantic, eh?

As we join them here, they are finishing up a crash course in magic that Nick has been giving Mary in hopes of fulfilling the terms of the spell she cast. There’s a bit of saucy language in the scene I’ve chosen, as well as the kissing, but nothing too scandalous. So read on for an excerpt from “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment,” originally published in Circlet Press’s Sense and Sensuality:


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Thursday, February 16th, 2012 | Author:

Circlet Press is turning twenty, and in celebration they’ll be releasing a best-of collection featuring works from their ebook anthologies. They’re taking votes to help decide which stories to include – and one of mine is on the shortlist!

So head over to this link to vote:

And pick me! Pick me! By which I mean, please vote for “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” by Elizabeth Reeve (from Sense and Sensuality). As much as I love each and every one of my stories, that one is probably my very favorite, and I would be so, so thrilled to see it in this collection.

I would also like to recommend to your attention “Ink” by Bernie Mojzes (from Whispers in Darkness) and “Hunter, Prey” by Marie Carlson (from Like Tooth and Claw), which are two stories on that (excellent) list that I adore.

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Sunday, February 05th, 2012 | Author:

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I always forget. And the sorts of things that I would probably resolve to do are the sorts of things I get all resolve-y about as soon as I think of them anyway, rather than waiting for a new calendar year. Which is a good thing, since my moments of pledging to do better tend to be about housework, which can pretty much never wait until the next available January.

But! This year, I made a resolution! In 2012, I am going to read through at least half of my to-be-read shelves – those books that pile up whenever I buy the next hot thing or see a sale or discover a new favorite author and snag her backlist…until they fill multiple physical shelves and an equal number of virtual ones.

I swore this on the sword of my ancestors – by which I mean, I said it out loud in front of my husband and the parakeet, at least one of whom was probably even paying attention – and then started to worry almost immediately. I didn’t resolve to read all of my TBR books, because I’m not a hopeless optimist, but would I be able to manage even half? I ran from bookcase to bookcase and fired up my reader software and did a quick count, determining that a rough half of my TBR pile at that very instant would be about 60 books. Oh my.

So I made a second resolution, which was to not buy any new books until April, at least. Two things immediately happened. First, I started really wanting a lot of new books. I mean, I always really want new books. But this was the “put my credit card somewhere inaccessible, quick!” level of book coveting. Second, while I was distracted by my intense focus on not buying any books, I somehow managed to download something like a dozen new titles that I got for free one place or another.

Self! What the hell? This is not helpful!

But… Free books! You can understand my weakness, I’m sure.

In any case, though I have been ever-so-good about not buying anything, my TBR pile has actually gotten larger since January. And I’m pretty sure that if I tried to keep myself from downloading freebies (limited time offers!) as well as making new purchases my head would explode, so I suspect that will keep happening.

So I’m going to refine my resolution a little bit. The goal now is to read at least 60 books over the coming year that I already owned before…um…let’s go with “today.” I should probably date that back to January 1st, but I received books as presents over the holidays and some of them not until after the new year and blah blah blah – the goal here is to prevent cranial fireworks, right? Right.

Here’s what I’m going to do:

  • Go through the house and actually catalogue all of the physical TBR books and add them to my Goodreads account with a handy-dandy new shelf tag (tbr-in-2012 has a nice ring to it, I think).
  • Do the same with my ebooks.
  • Read at least 60 of these bad boys in the coming year.

And here are some things I’m going to try to do:

  • Don’t buy new books until April! (Hey, I said it in front of the parakeet. He’ll be disappointed in me if I renege.)
  • Read at least three books from the TBR before every new book purchase after April. (Hahahaha!)

And hey, while I’m at it:

  • Blog about this regularly, because my efforts to stick to it are sure to be hilarious.
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