A New Start

Er hello.

Been a while. Again.

I’ve been thinking about this blog and how I’ve not posted for a while and how that’s because I’ve not read much and am unsure what else, if anything, I want to post here.

I thought I’d catch you up a bit on the reading. Not completely because I’m still not up for that really.

Since January, according to my Calibre library, I’ve read 21 items but only one was a full length novel (The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, which I enjoyed). The rest were short stories, comic book issues and comic strip collections, a couple of non-fiction Kindle Singles and a play. However in that time I have bought/acquired 47 new items costing a total of £159.77, which I must admit I’m embarrassed by, only because I haven’t taken advantage of those books yet so it seems wasteful.

It’s starting to get to the point where I’m worrying that if I get out of the habit of reading longer works then I’ll lose my concentration span completely. So I’m going to start a new book tonight. I had planned to make a new-to-me book too – because that tends to engender more initial enthusiasm – but that was before I calculated that total spend for the year figure. What the heck, I may do it anyway.

I’ll see if I can finish the book in a week or two and then I’ll report back – maybe not with a full review but at least noting I’ve completed it.

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…and Again

Another day, another friend, another nice conversation. I am really blessed.

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While I’m still thinking about how much to share and how honest to be on my blog I thought I could write about something that’s more in the sort of area that I’m thinking of but which will hardly be controversial.

I think friendship is a good thing.

I’ve been thinking about this because over the weekend I got the chance to spend some time with an old friend. My life lately has been about trying to make new friends and wondering whether the fact it seems to take so long these days is because of my age, or just me. But it was amazing and so nice to be reminded of what a good friend can do for you just by being there. 

This is someone I’ve known for years. Someone who gets me. Someone who likes me and who I know and believe likes me. Someone who I can talk to and be honest with and know that I won’t be judged. It’s hard to express how much I’ve missed that. I didn’t even know how much I think.

So that’s what I wanted to say. Not necessarily profound but relevant to me right now and just, well, nice.


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Hello Again

It’s been a while hasn’t it? And to be completely truthful I’ve not read much. I have read a couple of books – which is worse now that I think of it. Means I owe you reviews. Somehow I’ve neither felt like reading or writing about reading.

I have felt like blogging though. Specifically I’ve felt like talking about things going on in my life. Thoughts I’ve been having. But that gets me back to the old dilemma of Journaling versus Blogging. 

Maybe I just need to be brave and accept that if I post here some people will see a side of me that they don’t normally. 

I’m still thinking about it. In the meantime I’ll try to work up the enthusiasm for a review.


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2013 Reading Wrap-up/2014 Goals (part 2)

So I’ve been doing this reading-and-blogging-about-it thing for five years and I usually get excited toward the end of the year to both wrap-up and report the results for the existing year and lay out the targets for the new.  This year I’m not feeling that. The reasons for that are not reading related so I’ll skip them here. 

So I intend to do a quick 2013 wrap-up and present the new goals in one post. I’m not going to do a very detailed post of the numbers, nor am I going to do the “Melissa Awards” – but I reserve the right to do those later if I feel like it.

The headline result of 2013 was that I read 28 books. This is below my target of 40 and way below what I was projected to hit early in the year. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First is that when certain life events hit I didn’t feel like reading. I don’t like this. I’d love to be one of those people for whom a good book is an escape (I’d even more love to be someone for whom writing is) but sadly it takes just enough effort to read to put me off when I’m feeling down about other stuff.

That’s only half the story though. The other big theme was not finishing books. I read 26 of those 28 by the middle of August which makes it look like I hardly read in the second half of the year. However this year I read 9918 pages but only 8862 of those were from completed books. In other words I read 1056 pages in books I started but didn’t finish. In fact I started another 17 books, a couple of which I was more than 50% through. This was partly due to a dogged and frankly ill-advised attempt to keep up with the S&L book club. But it was also a habit of not reading for a while and then when I came back to pick up something new. 

As for goals well I already said I’d joined the Triple Dog Dare thing, which means TBR books only until April and if I can I want to focus on books I’m already in the middle of. Not necessarily just those 17 either but any that I’ve got significantly into in the last few years and always meant to get back to.

I’m repeating my overall book goal of 40 books. I have a few extra “sub-goals” which are nice-to-have but I’m not going to be slavish about:

  • reduce TBR by 20 (1 Jan 2014 TBR is 327)
  • read exclusively from TBR in Jan/Feb/Mar (i.e. Triple Dog Dare)
  • finish 4 of the 6 abandoned books that I was more than 10% through
  • try to choose books I’ll enjoy and increase my average score above 2013’s 7.0/10
  • read 2-3 short stories a month

I’d really like to recover some of the joy of reading though. I don’t think is something you can do by setting goals. I think you just have to read and hope it “catches fire” again. Some people think you can squeeze the joy out by goal-setting but I know for me if I don’t do that I’ll probably hardly read at all. 

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New Goal for 2014 (part 1)

It’s almost that time again when I round up how well I’ve down with the year’s reading goals and set the new ones for the next year. Well I’m going to do half of that (setting goals).

Erm actually I’m going to do half of half of that (set some goals). Or a quarter of a half. Or something…

I’m officially signing up for the “TBR Triple Dog Dare” – which is a challenge to only read from your TBR list for Jan, Feb and Mar. My TBR is pretty healthy and gives a wide selection to choose from.

Actually I’ll go one further and say I want to finish books I’ve already started. OK so that’s my goal for Jan-Feb-Mar. If I get bored I’ll allow myself TBR books that I’ve not started.

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Lot Beta – Tom Merritt

I came across this book because Tom Merritt is one of the presenters of the Sword and Laser podcast to which I subscribe. More specifically I also follow the S&L group on Goodreads and it was there he posted a link to a book trailer video. I followed the link, was curious… and here we are.

The story of Lot Beta is a space opera set in a part of the universe controlled by a vast mining corporation. The hierarchy of the corporation is interesting in that it is, for the most part, hereditary, especially the senior positions. This is supposed to be because of the way the colonization process took place with people leaving behind their home planets on generation ships. I think there’s another reason as well but maybe I’ll come back to that.

Anyway a senior position opens up on “Sat A” by the death of the previous head of this unit*. Normally of course he would be succeeded by his child but this particular COO did not have one. Or did he?

And so begins a tale of a boy with a hidden past who is suddenly thrust into a position of power by a birth right he didn’t even know he had.

He says in the front matter that this was a NaNoWriMo book. I think that this shows, and not necessarily in a bad way. It’s short and has a big central idea but a lot of the avenues it could have taken aren’t expanded on, especially toward the end. Whether that was because the author was “pulling to the finish line” or simply he didn’t want to major on those parts of the book I’m not sure. What I do know is that a lot of the first half of the book is full of corporate politics and bureaucratic wrangling and power plays. Which may appeal to some but I found I was over it relatively quickly. It was well done I think just not really my thing. How our main character uses the vagaries of the supply trade agreements to assert himself over central control was cleverly worked out but for me, not as interesting as some of the later passages about space battles, mining settlement trouble-shooting and dealing with smuggling issues. In other words the action-heavy versus the talky-heavy sections of the plot were not evenly distributed.

At this point it’s probably appropriate to point out something important about the structure of the book. Which is that it’s based on a well-known myth but set in space. The author himself has mentioned this elsewhere on Goodreads but not in the book description so I feel I’d be spoiling to point out exactly which myth it is. I can see how this idea would be the sort of thing one might come up with for NaNoWriMo. It gives you a ready made plot outline to work to. It did make me think at times though, once I realised just how closely to the source he was sticking, whether he would have done certain things if he hadn’t been following this pattern. A couple of the analogues he found were quite clever {spoiler} but then there were sections I think don’t make sense at all unless you realise what it’s based on {spoiler}

It was fairly enjoyable overall. Short and readable.

6/10 – The legend of … in space!

Oh nearly forgot. The title alludes to something in the book which is a set up for a truly awful pun. {spoiler}

*I was never 100% sure whether a “sat” was an artificial satellite like a space station or a natural one like an asteroid. Plus I think there were planets but whether they had a different designation and how they fit into the corporate structure was unclear, or I simply missed it.
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