So for the last 12-18 months, I've mentioned quite often that I have been only (well, 95% of the time) reading completed series. The main reason for that being that I tend to forget major and minor plot elements if I read each book as it is published. And I felt my reading enjoyment was being affected because of that, due to missing hints of things to come, and the importance of an event in book 3, that might have been the result of something that started in book 1. Thus, I thought...no more reading incomplete series. I will go back to my rule of long ago (i.e. before the blog) and only read completed series. That way I can read each book back to back (to back, to back, etc) and it will lessen the chance of me forgetting something. Plus, I thought maybe it would help with my attachment to a series, if I was completed devoted to the entire series, with no interruptions (i.e. without a big time gap between books, and without reading other books in between).
Well, a funny thing has happened during that the past 18 months: I've realized I don't want to read 3-10 books of the same series all in a row. I'm finding that even after just 1 book in a series, I want to switch it up and read at least 1 other book before returning to a series. I'm not sure why that is. In the past, I used to LOVE tearing through a series in quick fashion. Now, not so much. I wish I knew what changed, though it might be due to several factors (the below points discuss fantasy in general, too. not just reading completed series):
-when I was younger and didn't have as much money, I couldn't afford to have a 'to-read' pile. And the only bookstores I had were the small bookstores in the mall like Waldenbooks and B. Dalton Booksellers. So I didn't want to start a series, and not be able to finish it because the bookstores might not carry it. Or it (the new book in a series) might be sold by the time I could visit the store, and they wouldn't get more copies of it (I never bothered with special orders). So I ended up reading the most popular series, because those were the ones the mall stores would always keep in stock.
-now that I am older, I have a HUGE (200-300+) 'to-read' pile, and that gets VERY distracting. It seems like I can't read more than 100 pages of a book, before another book gets my attention. And now I am bouncing around between 2 books. And hey, those 2 books have hit a slow spot, so maybe I'll try this 3rd book, etc. Nowadays it seems like I am reading 3 or 4 books at a time.
-when I was younger, it seemed like a large majority of fantasy series were "coming of age" stories. Since I was also coming of age at the time, there was a lot to relate to, so I became really attached some characters. I felt like I had something in common with them.
-now that I am older, I have a little more trouble relating to fantasy at times. As much as I want to still love them, I struggle sometimes with the 'coming of age' stories. Not all of them, but I find I have to be in the right mood for them to pull me in. And a lot of the new stuff is darker than I would like, so I don't really get into those stories, either. Thus at times, I feel like I am in a "no man's land" in my fantasy reading. Too old for the books I used to like, and not always interested in the more graphic stuff being published today.
-because of the idea above, I have started reading more thriller and espionage books. Lately, I've tended to get more emotionally invested in thrillers than fantasy novels. Maybe I should just read thriller's for awhile and take a break from fantasy. But I have such fond memories of reading fantasy for the last 30 years, that it is hard to give that up. Plus, as noted above, I have 200-300 unread fantasy books on my bookshelves. Also, while I can re-read fantasy and still enjoy it the 2nd time, I can't do that so much with thrillers. So I feel like thrillers are a bit throwaway for me..read them once, and I'm done. At least with fantasy, for stories I like, I can see my reading them again in the future. Though it seems kinda dumb to NOT read book now because I might not read it a 2nd time. Seems really dumb, actually.
-too often, I let the blog influence what I should read. I think about what you guys/gals would want to see me review, which is silly considering how many times I finish a book without reviewing it...and I don't think many of you come here for my thoughts on the fantasy or thriller book I just read (mostly because I'm pretty convinced my reviews don't really help you since all I do is tell why I liked a book, or not).
-since the blog started, I often get distracted during my reading by thinking about the review I will write. This REALLY gets in the way of my reading enjoyment, because I start focusing on the review instead of enjoying the story. Thus instead of reading for enjoyment, I am reading and looking for things to criticize (or praise) in my review.
-all of the above things 'get in my head' and battle it out..interfering with my reading enjoyment. I start thinking about what I should be reading, should I be reading something else, what I will I say in my review. Instead of focusing on my reading, ALL of the stuff above is running through my head as I read. Which is probably a big part of the reason I end up reading 3-5 books a time.
So, what I think I really need to do is to stop thinking about and planning my reading. I should read whatever sounds appealing to me (fits my mood) at the moment. If I'm in the mood for a thriller, I should read a thriller. If I'm in the mood for a fantasy, I should read that. If I want to read a fantasy and thriller at the same time, bouncing between the book as my mood dictates, I should do that. I need to stop thinking about the other 200-300 books on my shelf. And I should stop worrying about whether a fantasy series is finished or not, since I can't seem to make myself read multiple books (of a series) in a row. With all the great review blogs I follow, I should be able to read some books as they are published, even if that means waiting a year or more between books. If I am about to start a book in a series, and I read the prior book 12 months earlier, I just need to hit a few of those review blogs and read some reviews. I would imagine that would give me enough background to follow events in the new book (with minimal forgetfulness on my part).
All of this is easier said (typed) than done, though. I'm sure I will continue to fight this battle of "over-thinking" my reading choices. But maybe sharing this with you will help a bit. When it gets right down to it, I need to remember that for me, (fiction) reading should be fun. Simple as that. There is no reason to make it complicated. I should use by big to-read pile to my advantage. I have a TON of reading choices, so I should have no problem finding a book to fit my current mood. So I think I will make one simple rule for my reading choices, called the First Chapter Rule*. If I read the first chapter of a book and its not working for me (or doesn't fit my mood), I should put it down and try it again later. I shouldn't force myself to read it just because its the 2nd book in a completed series, or because its a review copy, or because "hey, I've read 20 pages in this book and I have to finish it now" etc. I need to get back to reading for the simple joy of reading and nothing else. So, you might see some "First Chapter" thoughts on the blog as I try out this new "First Chapter" rule.
*note that it will really be more like a 25-50 page rule, since some first chapters might be too short. But the "First Chapter Rule" has a better sound to it so I will call it that, even if it's not 100% accurate.
Hopefully this post wasn't too rambling. I have edited it 3 times, but I'm still not sure if I explained myself adequately.
Do any of the things I struggle with during my reading, affect you too? If so, how do you deal with it?
I took a little time yesterday to update the "Fantasy Series ending in 2012" page. First, you will notice I added 2013 to the title. Eventually 2013 will get its own page, and 2012 will be archived. But for now, they will be combined on one page.
The following series-concluding books were added or updated (see the main page for the complete list for each month):
-The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire, Book 3) by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith
-The Skybound Sea (The Aeons' Gate Book Three) by Sam Sykes (Sam confirmed via twitter that this was the conclusion to the series)
-Night of the Swarm by Robert V.S. Redick (concludes the Chathrand Voyage..this was originally due in May, but has been pushed back several months to September now)
-Defiant Peaks: The Hadrumal Crisis Book 3 by Juliet E. McKenna (series is referred to an a trilogy on the author's website)
-The Siren Depths: The Third Book of the Raksura by Martha Wells (I can't find a mention of a 4th book on the author's site, so I will list this book as the conclusion for now)
-A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
-Power Under Pressure (The Society of Steam, Book Three) by Andrew P. Mayer (the author's website lists the series as a trilogy)
-Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles, Book 4) by Robin Hobb. I believe this is the last book in the Rain Wilds series.
Of all the series in the main list, I am interested in these:
-The Annals of Drakis (July..need to read all 3 books)
-The Outcast Chronicles (August...would need to read all 3)
-The Twilight Reign (August...want to reread the first 2, thus I need to read all 5)
-The Traitor Spy Trilogy (August..need to read all 3)
-The Dwarves series (August..need to read all 4)
-The Chathrand Voyage (August. I've read book 1. Will likely try to find a summary of book 1 somewhere and start on book 2. So I need to read 3)
-The Aeons' Gate (September. Started book 1 several months ago. Will likely start over, thus I need to read all 3)
-Seven Realms (October..need to read all 4)
-Dragonlord (November...need to read all 3..if the first 2 are available in Kindle format. I bet they will be, if they aren't already)
-Fallen Blade series (November..need to read all 3)
-Hadrumal Crisis (November..need to read the last 2 of the first trilogy, the short story between the 2 trilogies, and all 3 in the new trilogy)
-Wheel of Time (January 2013...need to read books 3 through 14, so 12 books)
There are some series that concluded earlier in the year, that I want to read, too. But, the series above are the ones I am most looking forward to. Naturally, there are way more books above than I will be able to read by January 2013. The glut of series concluding in August will make things difficult (if I want to read the concluding book the month it is published). My next step is to take a look at the list above and prioritize it to come up with a reading order/plan. I can't guarantee I will like each series, so if I start a series and don't like it, it could get removed from my list (and shelves), or at least moved down in priority.
I will create a followup post in the next day or two after I sort this out and come up with a plan. There are some thrillers I want to read, and I haven't even mentioned Malazan. But with 21 books on the list above needing to be read by August, I definitely need a plan. Plus, making a plan might help me, so I don't flail around among several books at once. I'm kinda looking forward to creating this reading plan to see if a formal reading plan improves my overall reading enjoyment.
Any series in particular you guys/gals are looking forward to finishing this year?
Instead of bombarding you with multiple posts today for some random stuff, I thought I would combine them into one post..
First up: reading. Over the past 18 months, I have concentrated on reading only completed series (with only a couple of exceptions). I did that because I found that if I had 1 year (or more) between reading books in a series, I often forgot important details. However, I am finding I don't enjoy reading several books in a row of the same series like I used to. And I miss reading a lot of the new books coming out (and being able to discuss them on the blog and/or forums). So I plan to mix in more new books. I will also continue to mix in some reading in the thriller genre, too.
Second: Ticket To Ride. I bought my first Euro boardgame (as these types of games seem to be called) for the iPad a couple of weeks ago, and it took me a week to finally play it. I've always thought I would like strategic board games, but I don't have anyone around me to play them with. So the idea of being able to play against the computer has always been intriguing, though when I had an iPad 1 (original) I never made the leap to purchase any boardgames to play on it. I resolved to fix that when I bought the new iPad, and Ticket To Ride was my first purchase. I won't go over the description of the game, the link above will take you to the iTunes store for that info. But I did want to say the game is a blast to play against the computer. There are a few different computer opponents to choose from, and you can play against more than 1 of them..thus you could play a 3 player game against 2 computer opponents if you wanted. So far, all my games have been 2 player games against 1 computer opponent. The game also supports online multiplayer and local multiplayer. In other words, there are many ways you can play against computer opponents, and real opponents (both local and all over the world). While I have only played the US board that comes with the game, there are several other boards you can buy with an IAP (in app purchase). The game goes by pretty quickly...my 2 players games against the computer are usually over in 10 minutes. It is the kind of game where you want to sneak in just one more, so if you aren't careful, 90 minutes will go by before you know it. If you like strategy board games and own an iPad, I highly recommend this one. And if you want to play me online sometime, let me know. It would be neat to have a game with one or more of you one evening. Next up, I hope to play Carcassonne soon.
Third: Of Monsters And Men, My Head Is An Animal album. I somehow missed out on the Mumford and Sons craze, though I liked all the songs I heard on the radio by them. Of Monsters and Men is often compared to Mumford And Sons, so if you like MaS, you should like Of Monsters and Men (OMaM so I don't have to keep typing their full name). I usually don't go for the guy/girl lead singer bands, especially if they are in the folksy genre. But there is something about this band and their music that appeals to me in a big way, despite it being a bit different from my usual sound. At times, the songs can have a really driving beat, and the background chants add an extra oomph. I don't normally associate the folksy type music with the kind I want to turn up loud and sing along, or that would make good driving music. OMaM are an exception in many ways for me. At times, their sound reminds me of the Springsteen Seeger Sessions band...a bit of folk & americana, but with a rock sound, too. This one is highly recommended, and might by my favorite album of 2012 so far (at least until the new Gaslight Anthem album comes out sometime this summer).
Fourth: The Fantasy Series Ending in 2012 page has been updated to fill in some books for October-December. I will continue to update that page once or twice a month.
Fifth: I also updated the Fantasy E-Book Deals page yesterday, though I didn't find anything new to add..just found several books to remove. I need to make more of an effort to update the Thriller E-Book Deals page more regularly. I updated a couple of publishers on that page earlier this week, but never got around to checking the rest of them. I might try to update it at random times over the course of today, so keep an eye on it if you are interested in thriller e-book deals.
While updating the fantasy ebook deals page this morning (sorry, no new deals to report, but I did remove a few that had expired), I decided to browse the new release list on Amazon. I ran across some interesting finds and thought I would list some of them here. Some of these dates are so far in the future, I wouldn't take them as official. But sometimes its fun to see a date for a book you are really waiting for, even if you know you can't trust the date. So below are some of the interesting finds...
-The Gully Dwarves: The Lost Histories, Book 5 by Dan Parkinson (Kindle edition publishing on Jan 1, 2035. Preorder now to beat the rush in 23 years. In reality, I am guessing Jan 1, 2035 is the default pub date in the Amazon system if the publisher forgets to include a pub date. Or its just a simple error.)
-Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (this is mostly likely more of a hopeful date, but Amazon is listing Nov 20, 2012 as the release date)
-The Parasol Protectorate Boxed Set: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless and Timeless by Gail Carriger ($19.99 isn't too bad for a 4 ebook omnibus. Coming Oct 23, 2012. Print edition is listed for $39, on sale for $29)
-Legends of the Dragonrealm: Shade by Richard Knaak (those Dragonrealm omnibus novels have sold well enough to enable the author to write a brand new story in this world. Publishing in September 2012)
-The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer) by Brent Weeks (Sept 11, 2012...I have a feeling this date is probably correct. No real basis for that, just a hunch)
-Night Angel: The Complete Trilogy by Brent Weeks (coming in April. The ebook price is listed as $19.99, while the print book can be bought for about $13. I know publishers can't do much about the sale price of physical books, but still seems like $19.99 is a bit high for a 3 ebook omnibus. I would say $17.99, so the avg price is just under $6 per book)
-The Kingmaker, Kingbreaker Series by Karen Miller (August 14, 2012. Another omnibus, this one containing just 2 books. Kindle price $15.99, print sale price $10.87. This digital price I will flat out say is too high. You can buy the individual ebooks for $7.99. Who the heck is gonna pay more for the omnibus? Sure it is only $0.01 more, but its more about the reasoning behind the price I don't understand. I mean, what is the advantage of buying the digital omnibus if you aren't going to save any money? There are no other advantages like saving shelf space (an advantage of the physical book omnibus). Anyway, I think the max price on this 2 ebook omnibus should be $12.99)
-Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories by John Jackson Miller (July 31, 2012..this is a collection of the 8 short stories/novellas for $4.99 digital, $7.99 mmpb. The interesting thing here is that the 8 ebook editions are all free. So why pay $4.99 when you can get the 8 stories individually for free? Because the collection has a never before published finale! Thus, folks who have read the series get to pay $4.99 for the bonus story, even though the 8 ebook series is being marketed as complete. Sure, it was nice of the publisher to make the first 8 ebook short stories free. No arguing that. But it seems a bit of a bait to say "hey, here is a complete story across 8 short ebooks. And its totally free!" then later publish another book, for a price, that has an "explosive, never-before published finale". So was the 8 book short story complete, or not? Or was it just a way to suck readers in, then get them to pay for the real ending? Maybe I'm just being cynical this morning. But having to pay $4.99 to read the "real" ending seems wrong. There should be an ebook with only the "new finale" for sale, maybe $2.99. Just to be clear, I'm not upset with the $4.99 price itself. I don't like how it feels readers might have been manipulated into buying the omnibus due to this new finale. I mean, here is the first line of the description for the upcoming 8th ebook: It’s the beginning of the end for this epic series in the thrilling final eBook installment, Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith #8: Secrets. Sounds like the last book, right? But we know that is not true, hence my irritation..even though I have no plans to read this, as it is a SF series).
I guess that is enough rambling for one post. Thoughts?
I always feel a bit guilty when I post about (probable) publisher's mistakes, like yesterday with the Orcs:Inferno novel by Stan Nichols. Note that I'm also the guy that points out pricing mistakes if a store doesn't charge enough...say the price on something is $9.99 and it rings up $6.99, I almost always mention it to the cashier to make sure the lower price is correct. Weird, I know, but that's how I roll
Anyway, it got me to wondering. Is it unethical to take advantage of a publisher's mistake and buy books that are free when you are sure they shouldn't be free? I guess you could make the argument that you can never be 100% sure that a book is free due to a pricing mistake. But I think it is pretty safe to assume a brand new book is not going to be given away, especially during the pre-order phase and when the publisher is a major publishing house. Yeah, the big publishers will sometimes lower a book's price to $0.99 or $1.99 when the author has a new book coming out. However, giving the digital book away for free prior to its release is not normally done. Hence, I would say at least 95% of the time its going to be due to a mistake by the person at the publisher who is responsible for uploading the book to Amazon (and setting its price).
What do you think..is it wrong to take advantage of a mistake and get a book for free that you know shouldn't be free? While I normally will go through with buying the free book, it makes me feel dirty. Almost as if I was stealing the book. Technically I know I'm not stealing. Morally is a lot more unclear.