On Amazon Acquiring GoodReads


October 25, 2013:  Great article in Salon from a couple of days ago on How Amazon and GoodReads Could Lose Their Best Readers.

September 20, 2013: Amazon has started deleting reviews for other members and also deleting shelves, without notice or warning. Visit this announcement thread for more particulars:  Important Note Regarding Reviews

And here I’ve quoted one of the best of the posted feedback messages from Wendy Darling:

I’ve been thinking about what I want to say since this announcement went live, and I almost said nothing–because at this point, it seems obvious this Feedback thread, like countless others before it, is pretty futile anyway.

I want to be clear: my opinion and decisions are a matter of principle rather than a matter of being directly affected. I’ve been pretty careful about my shelving and still stand by every single review I’ve written, and as much as I don’t care for the idea of policing shelves, I respect GoodReads’ right to change its TOS.

But like most people, I am absolutely appalled that user content has been removed without warning. What was the purpose of that? Why was it so dangerous to allow people the opportunity to edit their shelves and reviews? What would you think if you heard that Twitter was removing user content without notice, or policing your lists? Why aren’t private shelves an option? And most importantly, who was this gesture meant to impress or appease?

To make matters worse, to hear the language that was used in the email that Steph Sinclair and others got chiding them for operating in a way that wasn’t “in the spirit of GoodReads” is infuriating. The amount of time, thought, and dollars that goes into writing reviews and maintaining a blog is enormous, and all those people do it purely because of their generosity of spirit. To use that kind of language is a huge slap in the face, and diminishes the tremendous amount of good that those reviewers do for books with the positive reviews and features they produce. I am astonished that unpaid reviewers are constantly expected to take the feelings of professionals into account, when those who point the fingers at them don’t take 5 minutes to do simple research into the type of reviewers they are. I suspect that this move comes on the heels of several ill-conceived, agenda-driven, poorly-researched posts from Nathan Bransford and Salon and Huffington Post, but it seems that no one also weighed in the backpedaling that was done after those posts were published.

Both positive and negative reviews are an important part of a site like this (it’s the reason why so many of us have trusted its reviews until now) and I wish authors would understand that this site as a goldmine of market research. There is a huge opportunity here to learn about reader habits, discover strengths and weaknesses in their work, etc. But because a handful of vindictive authors are unable to separate their work from their egos, and because they fail to understand how to engage appropriately in the marketplace, GoodReads has become an increasingly hostile place. As the lines between personal space and community hangout and author advertisements continue to blur, the message that GoodReads is sending with this action is that this is NOT a safe haven for readers at all. It has taken ages for them to acknowledge any inappropriate behavior from its authors, and there is still a disingenuous lack of sync between what users are told and what is presented to authors, as evidenced by the screenshots we’ve seen in the last day or so. I have never expected GoodReads to come out strongly in defense of specific, and extremely damaging, attacks on their users by the authors that they court for advertising. But I did expect that they would minimally keep their promise to protect the rights of their users.

There are an alarming number of friends jumping ship to other sites. For myself, I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. But I do know that I’m probably going to start treating this site merely as a cataloging tool. I’ve always interacted here as part of the community, not as a place to serve my own agenda or ego, but I am not comfortable with investing so much energy into a place that feels it can yank my reviews and shelves without notice. (I mean, obviously any website can. But should it?)

Right now, I’m considering a number of options, including:

— only posting a star rating and brief reaction, with a link to my blog for the full review
— unchecking the “feed to GR affiliates” option
— no longer making any librarian edits that don’t specifically benefit me
— taking my profile private

What’s ironic is that when this announcement went live, I was in the middle of planning a post acknowledging a milestone that I passed on GoodReads a couple of weeks ago. I have never put much stock into numbers and rankings, but 10,000 friends and followers did feel like something to celebrate. But all that seems pretty meaningless now.

Last note: I’m very glad Carolyn Crane and a handful of other authors have spoken up. There are a ton of notable authors who have voiced their negative reactions to this new policy on Twitter, but I hope they will also step forward to chime in here, where it counts. There are a lot of users eyeing an exit, because positive sunshiney conversations are only of interest to people who don’t actually read, or who don’t engage in analytical thought–and the loss of people who post critical reviews also means you’re losing a countless number of positive reviews as well.

As reviewer rights erode and as the trend of stifling conversations continues, it seems that GoodReads is becoming a place that is no longer a safe or trustworthy place for readers. And that makes me sadder than I could possibly ever express.

As a result of her post and the rest of the feedback to GoodReads most recent shocking actions, I’ve created an account at BookLikes and have started the import process of my books, reviews and shelves.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the import completes successfully.

August 6, 2013: Today, I received the following e-mail from GoodReads:

Hello Jon,

Several of your reviews were recently flagged as self-promotional in nature by other Goodreads members. As these reviews seemed to be solely an advertisement for your blog (and did not discuss the book), they have been removed from the site. If you’re trying to promote your site, we would suggest reviewing the books on Goodreads itself and simply linking to your blog at the end of each review.


The Goodreads Team

(sent via the support@goodreads.com e-mail address)

I replied promptly from my Android smartphone:

Be honest. You removed them because I called Goodreads on the carpet about being bought by Amazon. And now you’ve proved my point by removing my reviews.

Thanks for providing more proof of Amazon’s continuing nefarious acts.

Jon Moss

I checked my review count on my profile at GoodReads.  This morning I had 355 reviews.  After I received this e-mail I had 266.  Nearly ninety (90) reviews deleted.  Most of them contained a single paragraph as follows:

Due to the acquisition of GoodReads by Amazon on March 28, 2013 and my existing and continuing boycott of all things Amazon, the review I wrote after reading this book has been relocated to my blog and can be found in its entirety by following this link:

I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am.  I shouldn’t be hurt, but I am.  My intention wasn’t to self-promote my blog.  I’m just a small fish in the huge ocean of the internet bloghood.  My intention was to make people aware that Amazon is not your friend.

July 26, 2013:  After a nearly six week hiatus, Otis showed back up in the GoodReads Feedback group commenting on integration between Amazon Library and GoodReads.  He’s still trying to reassure the ‘readers’ at GoodReads that’s there’s nothing untoward happening behind the green curtain.

June 11, 2013: Not entirely related to GoodReads, but definitely about Amazon, as reported by Publishers Weekly from the Apple Trial: Rupert Murdoch Wanted to ‘Screw’ Amazon

June 9, 2013: Belated Update (originally published by Otis on May 22, 2013):  An FAQ on Amazon’s Acquisition of GoodReads.  And, as I suspected, my data at GR is now Amazons:

Will Amazon have access to my Goodreads data?

Yes, as a subsidiary of Amazon, we can share data as appropriate under our privacy policies. How does this impact you? Primarily in two ways:

* Amazon and Goodreads could use the data to look for ways to offer you a better service on one or both sites. For example, by providing you with personalized advertising based on your reading tastes (similar to the advertising we already have on Goodreads).
* Amazon and Goodreads could analyze the data to see what kinds of new features or services might be useful on one or both sites.

So my campaign to sabotage my data is vindicated.  I will continue to move reviews here to my blog and unrate books at GoodReads.  My apologies to my GoodReads friends and followers.  In the case where I decide not to review a book, I will leave my GoodReads rating initially after I finish reading it, but will eventually unrate the book to continue corrupting the data Amazon collects from me via GoodReads.

I have no plans to leave GoodReads, as I enjoy the groups too much and the interactions with reading friends.

May 9, 2013: While not specifically related to the Amazon buyout of GoodReads, this morning’s article in the Huffington Post reveals continuing nefarious deeds of the etailer behemoth.

A link to the Huffington Post article: “Amazon Warehouse Workers Sue Over Security Checkpoint Waits

And should the above link ever break, I printed out the article to a PDF available here:  “Amazon Warehouse Workers Sue Over Security Checkpoint Waits

April 19, 2013: Not that I’m an Apple fan (aside from the apples that I can each autumn), but apparently Amazon nixed any hopes of seeing GoodReads integration in iBooks with their deal:  Amazon-GoodReads deal quashed Apple iBookstore plans

April 15, 2013: Another interesting article coming out of the London Book Fair: Is Amazon Good or Bad for the Publishing Industry?

April 14, 2013: I find it interesting that Otis  has been mostly absent from the GoodReads site since making the announcement late in March.  To see what I mean, check out this link to his GoodReads account’s comment activity in the GoodReads Feedback group.  I’m going to hold him personally responsible for the last sentence in this comment:

Breaks my heart to see BunWat leave.

I don’t know her well enough to know her reasons, but I will just guess she isn’t a fan of Amazon. While I don’t expect everyone to love this decision, I believe it will be a very good thing for the vast majority of readers, and think Goodreads has a very bright future in front of it. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the people at Amazon, and have found them to be good, bookish people that are excited about creating a better future for readers and authors.

One thing I am sure of: I expect to prove to you all over the coming months and years that this will be good for Goodreads, for readers, and for authors.

— Otis Chandler, CEO, Goodreads (emphasis added).

Only time will tell.

April 12, 2013:  Just read this article via a Publishers Weekly Tweet:  Booksellers Urge Court Not to Toss Amazon E-Book Suit

April 9, 2013: Decided I should probably link to this post from my snub stubs at GoodReads, since this post is no longer sticky and will quickly get buried in the tide of migrating reviews from GoodReads.

April 2, 2013: Changed this post from a sticky post.  For an explanation of my star ratings, please visit my ‘Two Stars or Not Two Stars‘ blog post.

April 1, 2013:  In addition to relocating my reviews here from GoodReads and leaving behind a stub link, I am stripping the ratings from my GoodReads reviews as well.  I’m manually entering the rating in the review with the link, but clearing the actual star rating from the GoodReads database.

I apologize to my author friends.  GoodReads was the only place I rated and reviewed books.  Now the only place I will do that is here, in this Amazon-free zone.

To make it easier to find the book reviews and ratings, I modified my menu (see above) to include a Ratings area.  The Reviews menu has been expanded to include Fiction and Non-Fiction items under the Books submenu.

March 31, 2013:  I wanted to pass along a good article I just read published at Salon entitled ‘Amazon buys GoodReads: We’re all just data now.’


Original Post from March 30, 2013:

GoodReadsPlusAmazonYesterday, GoodReads announced ‘exciting news‘ to it’s community of volunteer librarians, reviewers and readers.  Otis and Elizabeth and the rest of the GoodReads team had agreed to joining the Amazon family.  Of course, they were excited.  They sold out the only vibrant independent reliable source of book reviews and recommendations for cold hard cash in their pockets (rumor has it the sum could be over one billion dollars).

I heard the news late in the day and immediately felt sick to my stomach, disappointed and angry.  After reading comments on the blog post referenced above and other threads in many discussion groups on GoodReads, I was not alone in my reaction.

I make no secret of the fact that I boycott all things Amazon.  I have similar feelings about other modern-day monopolies (like Microsoft and Adobe).  I have not purchased a book or an ebook from Amazon in years.  I own a Nook and an Android smartphone.  I support open source software initiatives and net neutrality.

The first thing I did last night when I had calmed down enough to see clearly and think coherent thoughts was to export all my book data and reviews from GoodReads.

The second thing I did was to think about what to do with the hundreds of reviews I’ve written over the last five years and posted at GoodReads.  Some of these reviews were re-published here on this blog.  I do not want Amazon to profit from my time and effort in crafting those reviews.

So, to thwart the juggernaut, however infinitesimally, I plan to remove each review from GoodReads and repost it here.  One of the first hurdles I will need to overcome is finding a different non-Amazon source for book covers.  I will leave behind a short explanation where my GoodReads review previously resided together with a link to the blog post housing the transported review.

What sort of an explanation should I leave behind?  I’ve been mulling over a few sentences while driving home and during dinner.  Let me try a few of them out here:

Due to the acquisition of GoodReads by Amazon on March 28, 2013 and my existing and continuing boycott of all things Amazon, the review I wrote after reading this book has been relocated to my blog and can be found in its entirety by following this link …

After Amazon devoured GoodReads on March 28, 2013, this review fled the postapocalyptic and dystpoian writing on the wall and sought sanctuary at my blog’s refuge …

Fear not!  I bring you tidings of great joy.  My review escaped the clutches of Amazon and can be found, safe and sound, at my blog …

I haven’t made up my mind about continuing my activities within the many groups I participate in and moderate.  GoodReads was such an integral part of my life.  It helped me rediscover my love of reading, fostered my nascent writing hobby and nudged me to branch out as a fledgling blogger.  I have met and made many wonderful new friends who share a love for similar flavors of books and broadened my reading horizons.  It also reunited me with old reading buddies from high school and former employers. Five years ago, I relied on the ‘New Fiction’ shelf at my local library to find something to read.  Now, I have hundreds of books lined up in my reading queue.  I just don’t know if I can walk away from my reading friends and GoodReads.

I am resolved, however, to never again write a review on GoodReads.  I may not even rate books there anymore.  I will have to play that by ear and see what happens over the new few weeks.

So don’t be surprised if you start to see a lot more activity on my blog in the coming days.  Reviews will sprout here like spring flowers in May after April showers.

Turn the Page on Time

FBCSlogoAt the Fantasy Book Club Series group on GoodReads, we are approaching the end of time, or rather the Wheel of Time series.  We will start reading the final book in that series in May.  On the first day of March, I started a nomination thread, confusingly entitled ‘Life After the Wheel of Time‘ soliciting suggestions for our next series group read.  I remembered to send a spam-like e-mail to group members this morning, since I’d only seen a handful of series nominated in the first few days.   My marketing efforts must be paying off, as two more series were nominated and seconded within an hour of the mass mailing.

Here are just a few of the series that will make it into the first round of voting:

Nominations will remain open until the Ides of March.

The first round of polls will whittle the nominations down to two or three (depending on how close the voting is) for the final deciding vote towards the end of March.  You must be a member of the group to vote (and the group will close to new members once the first poll is open for voting).

Keeping Me Up Late

While the City Sleeps MugI collected my commemorative mug (shown at right) from the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library this past Monday, the 4th of February.  I completed the reading log form via the ‘While the City Sleeps’ web page, noting that three of the five books I’ve read in 2013 were suggested readings for the Library’s adult winter reading program.  I surprised myself because I liked all three and gave each one a four star rating at GoodReads.

When I first reviewed the suggested readings list, I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me.  I found three or four titles that might work so I placed them on hold in various formats.

I didn’t have to wait for one title, Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross.  I found it available immediately as an audiobook via the Library’s Overdrive website.  I checked it out and downloaded it to my new smartphone.  One of the nice features of the Overdrive Android application is a sleep timer.  I set the playback with a thirty minute timer and dozed off each evening to the soothing voice of the reader, extolling me with theology while providing a healing blessing to ease my trials and sufferings.  None of the local book clubs opted to discuss Dark Night of the Soul, but one enterprising library technician is posting daily Lenten observances at his blog, All-Soulo.

The library didn’t own an electronic or audio version of Lost Moon, so I requested the print edition.  I picked up the book on Friday, the 25th of January, and started reading it on Sunday, finishing it the following Friday.  Even though I’ve seen the movie, Apollo 13, many times, I still found myself compelled to read way past my bedtime.  I tried to limit myself to one chapter a night and refrained from carrying the hardcover edition back-and-forth to work.  Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it’s definitely more riveting.  I hope to attend the ‘Read It/Watch It’ event on Sunday afternoon, March 3, 2013.  I’m looking forward to lively conversation led by Katie Stover, Director of Readers’ Services, at the Waldo Branch.  I will resist the urge to pull out my own DVD from my personal video library.

Concurrently, I listened to the audiobook of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern as read by Jim Dale, known in other circles as the ‘voice’ of Harry Potter (winning numerous awards, including two Grammys).  I’ve heard him read before (via one of the Potter books) and he is a delight to listen to.  Even  more delightful than Jim’s exceptional characterizations was the enthralling tale told by Morgenstern in The Night Circus.  I found myself looking for excuses to continue listening, even though I wasn’t driving, or walking the dog, or cleaning house, or doing laundry.  Of all the suggested readings, this one hit the spot perfectly.  I highly recommend it.  In less than a week, I will join the Women Who Dare Book Group at the Central Library for one of the three book discussions scheduled in February and March for The Night Circus.

I convinced my husband to read one of the books along with me.  He prefers non-fiction titles, so I snagged a copy of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers from my local library while waiting for the hold I placed at the Plaza branch to come through.  He’s already into the fourth chapter, while I have yet to start reading it. We both plan to attend the discussion for the newly formed Stranger Than Fiction book group, meeting for the first time on February 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the Plaza Branch. When I mention this book to friends and acquaintances, I hear nothing but good things.  I should begin my cadaverous journey tomorrow evening while my husband is otherwise occupied with his band mates during band practice.

That leaves just one book on my hold list.  Well, actually on two hold lists.  I requested a print edition of Kansas City Noir, as well as the ebook edition.  I’ve been waiting several days and I hope I get one of the editions checked out before the last book discussion arrives on March 9th.  That’s when I plan to join the Heat of the Night book group at the Bluford Branch to discuss this anthology of ‘hard-used heroes and heroines [who] seem to live a lifetime in the stories…Each one seems almost novelistic in scope. Half novels-in-waiting, half journalistic anecdotes that are equally likely to appeal to Kansas City boosters and strangers.’ –Kirkus Reviews

And so I wrap up my winter reads like I wrap up in my favorite worn hand-me-down quilt: relaxed, satisfied and not too terribly sleep deprived, but still awake enough to enjoy some fresh brewed tea in a treasured mug memento.

Tour Guide for the Silent Tower

Thank you to everyone who voted in my poll to help me decide what novel to recommend as a Member’s Choice selection next month at the GoodReads SciFi & Fantasy Book Club.  Despite a tie in the poll, several members of the aforementioned group expressed their opinions in a discussion thread I started last week, which sealed my decision.

So, without further ado, my Member’s Choice selection for a group read in July 2012 is . . .

The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly
The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly (cover art on the 1986 edition by the late Darrell K. Sweet)

I took the initiative and contacted the author, Barbara Hambly, who graciously agreed to participate in a question and answer thread, much to my surprise and delight.

I will lead, or rather guide, the discussions online at GoodReads (follow this link to join in early).  Or wait the ten days until July and hit the ground running with me and several hundreds (perhaps thousands) of your new fantasy friends as we read The Silent Tower together.  All are welcome and I’m looking forward to meeting you and introducing you to a fantastic author.

An ebook edition is readily available from Open Road Integrated Media and at nearly all online book retailers (Google ebookstore $7.99; Kobo $7.69; Barnes & Noble $8.49; Amazon Kindle edition $7.69)

If you prefer a printed edition, please check with your local library, used book store or your favorite online retailer, like AbeBooks.com (who may have some new or nearly new editions available).

Help Wanted: What to Read/Recommend in July

I received the honor of selecting the Member’s Choice reading selection for July 2012 at the GoodReads Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club.  I reviewed the bookshelf of read books for the club (over a hundred since January 2008) and then reviewed my five star rated books.  I narrowed the selection down to just three, two of which I’ve read (multiple times) and one I have wanted to read for many months.

Choices Three

The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly

The group has only read one other book written by Barbara Hambly, but she is a prolific fantasy author that deserves more attention.

I honed in on The Silent Tower because it remains one of my favorite Hambly novels.  Here’s a brief synopsis to tease you:

In a world where wizards are relegated to ghettos, it is no surprise to see one murdered in the street. But for Stonne Caris, a young warrior monk who sees the killing and gives chase to the culprit, there is nothing ordinary about seeing a murderer disappear into a black, inky portal. The Archmage sends him in search of Antryg Windrose—a half-mad mage who understands the nature of these passages between dimensions.

On the other side of the Void is Joanna, a programmer as mild as Caris is deadly. She has spent her life in cubicles, staring into computer terminals, as far from heroism as she can get. But when the power that is crossing between dimensions draws her through the Void, she finds herself battling to save a world she never even knew existed.

Average GoodReads Rating:  3.92 stars (on a five star scale) based on 819 ratings

Availability:  Only the ebook edition is currently in production (I found the best price at Kobo for $7.69; not DRM-free).

The Diamond Throne by David Eddings

It shocked me to learn that the SF&F book club had not read any of David Eddings‘ works; not even from his hugely popular Belgariad series. He also happens to be one of the two fantasy authors I can get my husband to read and I give full credit to the voice of Sparhawk.


Sparhawk, Pandion Knight and Queen’s Champion, returned to Elenia after ten years of exile, only to find his young Queen Ehlana trapped in a block of ensorcelled crystal. Only the great sorcery of Sephrenia, ageless instructor of magic, kept her alive — but the spell would only last a year, and it’s cost was tragically high.

Now a Prince Regent ruled Elenia, the puppet of Annias, ambitious Primate of the Church who planned to seize power over all the land.

As Sparhawk and Sephrenia set out to find a cure for Ehlana, Sephrenia revealed that there was only one person in the west who could defeat the evil plots against Ehlana. That person was Sparhawk.

Average GoodReads Rating:  3.83 stars (on a five star scale) based on 8,983 ratings

Availability:  A mass market paperback edition is still in production.  No ebook edition is available.

Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay

And last, but definitely not least, I settled upon a novel I have wanted to read for months, but can never seem to squeeze into my reading queue:  Guy Gavriel Kay‘s The Last Light of the Sun.

I’m not sure of the protocol with respect to recommending and leading the discussion of a book that I haven’t actually read yet, but Kay has never disappointed me.  In fact, he always inspires me and leaves me awestruck.


From his very first books, the trilogy known as the Fionavar Tapestry, Guy Gavriel Kay was recognized as one of the world’s finest and most innovative writers working with the fantasy tradition. In later works he has taken on, with striking success, an alternative history of Europe, which reached a pinnacle with 2004’s The Last Light of the Sun. Set at the hinge moment of Britain’s Alfred the Great’s enlightened reign (he’s known as Aeldred in Kay’s parallel Europe), Last Light is a drama of cultural clash and change in a world shadowed by the presence of faerie but deeply engaged with human questions of ethics and honour.

Average GoodReads Rating:  3.79 stars (on a five star scale) based on 2,291 ratings

Availability: Several versions are in print, including mass market paperback and trade paperback editions.  An ebook edition is also available, but quite pricey at $12.99.

Selection Conundrum

My dilemma remains.  I cannot decide which of the above novels to put forth to the group for next month’s Member’s Choice selection.  I selfishly lean towards the Kay novel, because I really would rather read something new.  But I equally yearn to introduce more readers to either Hambly or Eddings (at least his less well known Elenium series).  I have a few days (less than a week) to make up my mind, so I’m soliciting your opinion through this blog post and the poll below.  Votes and comments welcome.

[polldaddy poll=6308298]

Book Review: The Terror by Simmons (4 Stars)

The Terror by Dan Simmons

4 of 5 stars

Read in Feb/Mar 2012

I read The Terror as part of a group read at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club at GoodReads during the month of February. I participated in the discussion, as did many others. To review those threads, please follow this link.

I started reading this the evening of February 13th, with snowfall predicted to commence after midnight. I sat shivering at the kitchen table while I read the first few chapters, even though the furnace kept my house a toasty 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I even dug out a blanket to put on the bed before I went to sleep (still shivering). Brrrr….. Great writing by Dan Simmons, atmospherically speaking.

And I restrained my insatiable desire to research the quest for the Northwest Passage and specifically the final voyage of the HMS Terror until after I finished reading the novel. Simmons kept me riveted until the last few chapters, when he decided to take an extreme detour into arctic supernatural spirituality that left me, well, cold.

Still, a great read by an outstanding author. I recommend lots of warm tea or hot cocoa and abstinence from long pork.

Book Review: Archangel by Shinn

Archangel by Sharon Shinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beyond Reality February 2012 Science Fiction Selection

The protagonist, Rachel, grabbed me immediately. Not only was she a superb vocalist, she reminded me in so many ways of my own daughter, also named Rachelle, and who is also a superb vocalist (mezzo soprano, though, instead of Rachel’s coloratura soprano). As soon as I finished the book, I sent a recommendation off to my Rachelle, hoping she’d read it and enjoy it as much as I did.

The religious references intrigued me (and sometimes made me laugh – did anyone else think that the name of Semorrah was a mashed-up condensation of Sodom and Gemorrah?) and the musical elements fascinated me. I play piano, attempt to sing (not as well trained as my daughter, so I gave it up as a lost cause at this point in my life) and I know basic music theory. My husband has years of training (jazz trumpet and guitar), composes music and has perfect relative pitch; all of which he passed on to our daughter.

On the question of whether this novel is science fiction or fantasy, I leaned towards the former early on. Once introduced to the oracle Josiah in Archangel, I began to believe I was reading a science fiction story (perhaps along the lines of Pern?). But the rest of the novel revealed little beyond that scene with the Oracle. Another clue could also be derived from the ‘smallness’ of their ‘planet’ in area and scope.

I interpreted the singing as magical. The story is mostly a romance, which I normally avoid like the plague, but in this case it worked well.

I have not decided yet if I will continue this series. I’ll have to research my friends’ reviews of it and see if it gets better or if this installment is as good as it gets.

All in all, I really enjoyed Archangel, even if it seemed to be a romance masquerading as a fantasy with hints of science fiction sprinkled throughout.

FBR reblog: Meanwhile at the Discussion Group: March 2012

Another group I love over at GoodReads is Beyond Reality. And as if I wasn’t crazy enough already, I volunteered to take over as discussion leader in our series read of Weber’s Honor Harrington space opera.

The Time Is Right For A Re-Read of WoT

What’s a WoT? (or so you might be asking yourself). A WoT is an acronym for The Wheel of Time series.

I love being born in the Year of the Dragon (Chinese calendar).   It’s just cool.  And this year, I can also enjoy an entire year of another type of dragon, the Dragon Reborn in Rand Al’Thor by re-reading the entire Wheel of Time series, in anticipation of the final volume’s publication next January.

But I won’t be doing this alone.  Oh, no!  And as if re-reading these massive epic fantasy tomes wasn’t enough, I volunteered to lead the discussion at the GoodReads Fantasy Book Club Series group, who will commence reading WoT beginning in April 2012.  Looks like I need to get cracking before the end of March to stay ahead of the Wheel!

And I feel like shouting “Tor-Rah! Tor-Rah! Tor-Rah!” with all the great news coming from the publisher of the Wheel of Time series in just the past few days:

So if you’ve been looking for an excuse to revisit Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nyneave and Egwene or, if you want to meet them for the first time, join me and a thousand of my GoodReads friends as we start the Wheel of Time turning with The Eye of the World, continuing inexorably on to the Last Battle in A Memory of Light. 

Cover Art forthcoming from Michael Whelan