Monday, February 28, 2011

1/4th Of The Way To My Goal!

#25!  I can't believe I've finished 25 books since January 1st.  Wow.  I look back on my list, and I'm pretty happy with what's on it.  The last few books I've read have been a bit of a disappointment.  Don't you hate it when you've looked forward to a book, and then it turns out to be not so great, after all?  

Tomorrow is March 1st.  A whole new month.  I will keep working on my NetGalley  books on my NookColor. I have quite a few books to read in preparation for a two day book sale at Beyond Rubies, which is a women's conference held at the local community college every March.   Our store sets up shop, and we talk talk talk about books.  It's a great chance to handsell some of my favorites.  I've got a few at home I need to read before that, so I can talk about them at the conference.  Here's a few of my upcoming must read books; I hope I enjoy them all:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NetGalley--A Great Place For Book Lovers

I think I stumbled on NetGalley through Goodreads one day, and I am so glad I found it.  NetGalley is a place where many publishers offer up e-galleys of books that are to be published in the near future.  You sign up for free, create a bio so publishers know who you are, and request e-galleys.  If they approve them, you download the e-galley to your computer, and then to your e-reader.  You get the e-galley for 60 days, and they just ask that you review it and mention NetGalley.  

I  love this place!  So far, I have managed to request and receive probably about 10 books that I would have read anyway in a few months.  And they're free!  Not all publishers are on NetGalley, but most are.  It's a lot of fun to look around and see what's on offer.  I've written reviews for 3 of the books I've read.  

So here's my shout out to NetGalley.  Check out their website and see if it's something you would like.  For me, it's helping me to read more of what I want to read, and not have to decided what to buy.  Now I don't have to give up any of the books I want to read because I have a limited book budget.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Here's My Question of the Day

I tend to not finish books I don't like.  I figure, why keep going, when I don't like what I'm reading.  I'd rather read something else--and there are a lot of books I've been waiting to read.

But yet, if you don't read outside your comfort zone, how do you grow and appreciate what others have written?

Do I review books I don't like?  Not necessarily.  If it is a book that made me uncomfortable, I will probably review it, because it created a feeling in me that made me have to discuss the book with others.  If it's just a book I thought was badly written, or had no plot:  well, usually I won't review it.  I guess I still want to be nice.  There are plenty of books I've enjoyed but not raved about, and many that I haven't reviewed.  Mostly this is because of time constraints and not because I didn't like the book.

Here's my question (s):  Do you still tell people about a book you didn't like?  Do you tell them why you didn't like it, and steer them away from it?  I will be honest with a customer at our store, and tell them if I liked or didn't like a book and why.  It is up to them to decide if it's to their taste.  My job is to put a book in a customer's hands, whether I read the book or not and whether I like the book or hate the subject matter.   No judgements on what people read ever.  

 All I can say is that I would be honest with my review and the author.  It's hard not to take a bad review personally, because that book was a lot of hard work to write, and get published.  I understand.  But like all art, some people will enjoy it, and some won't.  Isn't is a great thing that we don't all have to like the same stuff?  That we have choices?  And really, who says we have to be a professional writer or reviewer to express our opinion?  You're a reader.  That qualifies you to express your opinion.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

666 Park Avenue: A Modern Witch Story

I somehow keep finding novels about witches.  I have always been fascinated by the history of witchcraft, and the infamous, horrible witch hunts in Europe and America.  Whenever I come across a novel about witches, I usually read it.  It seems that there are many popping up in the book world in the past few years!  

This is a book about modern witches--no Salem witch hunt, no small English village.  Jane Boyle is a young woman living in Paris, who has a whirlwind romance with Malcolm.  He proposes, and whisks her away to New York City, to stay in the family mansion leading up to their wedding.

But once in New York City, Jane senses things aren't what they seem.  She discovers Lynne, Malcolm's mother, is the matriarch in a very odd family of witches, and she is out to enfold Jane into the family.

Why?  Jane is a witch, too.  I can't tell you how she finds out, but she does, and she fights to be free from the encroaching danger of Malcolm's family.

This was a great read.  I found it refreshing to read a contemporary tale about witches (in New York City, no less). No vampires, no werewolves--just the modern world, and some nasty witches who use their power to get what they want.

I hope this story continues--I would love to read about Jane's further adventures.  This is no light and happy story; Jane is caught up in a dangerous situation.  But it isn't too dark, and there are great characters.

Pick it up and read it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ravenous by Dayna Macy

I've reviewed this book on my other blog, aeracura.  Check it out--I enjoyed this thought provoking look at one woman's search for understanding the connection between body, mind,  and food.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Home To Woefield

This was a really enjoyable novel and I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times--and it is hard to get me to laugh at a book.

Home to Woefield by Susan Juby is about Prudence, who inherits a farm from her distant Uncle.  Her dreams of living on a farm, and growing enough produce to be a "regular" at a local farmer's market are coming true!  Until she gets to the farm, and realizes it's a dump.  Money and hard work are required to turn it around, and she's running out of time before the bank claims the farm.  

Prudence is joined at the farm by some oddball characters:  Earl, the farmhand who lives in a cabin and doesn't talk much; Seth, a young man who writes a heavy metal blog and remains in a funk from an embarrassing high school event; and Sara, a young girl from town who needs a place to keep her show chickens.  Each tells about the unfolding events at the farm in their own voices, as does Prudence.  

Anyone who wants to read about small acre farming, determination against all odds, bluegrass, and just plain old funny stuff should read this.  It's really a sweet book, and I enjoyed every page.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

E-Books Lined Up And Ready To Read

I've got quite a few e-books to read, so I thought I'd list what's up for me the next few weeks:

And after these, I have quite a few ARCs in book form to also read and review.  I'm a busy girl!  Have a great week reading.  I'll be posting reviews as I finish the books.  I am reading Home to Woefield right now, and I love it!  It's hilarious.  

I haven't figured out how to get all my pictures looking neat and tidy, so bear with me.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Week is E-Galley Week & Sad Bookstore News

I found a fabulous website called netgalley.com that lets you request ARCs from publishers that are in ebook format.  Then you download them to your ereader, and you have 60 days to read them.  Publishers request that you review them and mention netgalley in your review.  

I have six (!) e-galley books on my NOOKColor, thanks to netgalley.com.  I am so excited to have another way to read upcoming titles that interest me, and they are free.  I am a happy happy girl.  I'll be working my way through these e-galleys this week and probably the next week, too.  So watch for reviews on them.  I also have ARCS in good 'ol book format waiting for me to pick them up, too.  I really have no need at all to buy a book for quite some time.  The rest of February is dedicated to enjoying all of these books.  Then I'll get back to the books  I've got stacked around my living room.  Seriously, I managed to get them all on the  shelves a few months ago, and now I have more stacks on the floor.  

In sad news, Borders Books is probably filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy soon.  I work at Barnes and Noble, and Borders has been our competition long before Amazon came along.  But I am very sad when any bookstore closes.  It means that many more people either aren't reading, or won't read.  From what little I know, it seems like Borders fell prey to some ill timing and too many switches in management.  I am blessed to be working for a company that has looked forward into the world of books and made steps to stay active and remain a crucial  part of bookselling.  There really is nothing like stepping into a bookstore, whether it's an independent, used, or superstore.  It's still a store dedicated to the love of books, and is staffed by people who are there because they love books.  It's that simple.  Clicking a mouse and buying on the internet does not have the same feeling and will never replace a bookstore.  Yes, it is convenient, but I've always felt a trip to the bookstore was a special treat.  We must support our local businesses, even if they are a national company.  They employ local workers, who spend their money in the community.  Without them, our communities suffer.   

Now, you may wonder, why am I getting free books?  Well, it makes me a better bookseller.  I simply cannot buy every book I want, even with a generous employee discount.  Customers expect us to know about every book that's out, every book that's coming out, and to have a PhD in every subject known to man.  I cannot do that, but I can read as much as possible, and have many suggestions for people.  I can share books I love, and be happy when people return telling me how much they enjoyed a book I suggested.  I still spend the majority of my money after bills and food on books.  They will always be something that I will spend my money on, and without a bit of guilt.  

So remember to support your local bookstores, wherever they are.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Repost: A Discovery of Witches: Read It!

I read an ARC of this book way back in November, and I've been babbling on about it since.  Yesterday, it finally went on sale at bookstores across the US.  I'm reposting my review from November to remind you to read it!

Here's my review from BarnesandNoble.com.  I can't wait for this to be released  in February, so I can tell everyone about it!  Go to Deborah's website for more information on  Discovery of Witches.

Posted 11/23/10: This book is just flat out awesome. Sometimes when you pick up a book, within the first few pages you know you're holding something special in your hands. This is one of those books. It is unlike any paranormal novel I've ever read. It's a smart, sophisticated tale of Diana Bishop, the last in a long line of powerful Bishop witches, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire who has lived 1500 years. It takes place in Oxford, England. Diana is an American professor who's in Oxford researching ancient alchemy books when she calls up Ashmole 782, a manuscript that possibly holds the secrets to the origins of four species: humans, daemons, vampires, and witches. Diana's magical abilities unlock the spell keeping Ashmole 782 from all of those who desperately want it. She quickly sends it away, and the race is on between witches, daemons, and vampires to control Diana and find the manuscript again. Matthew is also after the manuscript, but his growing feelings for Diana soon begin to eclipse his need for the ancient manuscript. And he is the only one who can protect Diana. This book is written for an adult audience--wine, alchemy, genetics, and the world of the supernatural all combine to put you on the edge of your seat. The novel is long--almost 600 pages, but the story flows along quite nicely, building into an incredible ending. Can Diana tap into her powerful magical abilities in time to save herself and Matthew? Can a vampire and witch break an ancient taboo and be together? Will Ashmole 782 give the answers everyone has been waiting centuries to find? You must grab this, sit down, and begin reading this immediately when it comes out in February 2011. It is amazing! And, best of all, it's the first in a trilogy.

Here's a review from NPR.  I have to say, I didn't find Diana quite as annoying as this review did, but I agree wholeheartedly on the rest of it:

The Surprising Charms Of 'A Discovery Of Witches'
February 9, 2011 ShareShare
View and comment on NPR.org
"Not enough cackling."
That's what I tweeted about 25 pages into A Discovery of Witches, the fantasy romance that became the number one bestseller in hardcover fiction yesterday before it was even officially released, thanks to terrific buzz and humongous presales.
Not only did the cackle shortage suggest a certain humorlessness, but something about A Discovery of Witches seemed contrived. Even cynical. For Pete's sake, it's a book about a witch who falls in love with a vampire ... while uncovering radical secrets that a small, conservative cabal is determined to protect. What, other than cynicism, could draw such a book out of a respected academic who studies the history of science and medicine?
I darkly suspected author Deborah Harkness of just following through on the dinner-party game of ginning up ideas for zeitgeist-button pushing bestsellers. "Let's see ... a unicorn in a Depression-era traveling circus run by a vampire!" "Oooh, how about a vampire who's chased by members of a secret Catholic cult through Italy, India and Bali, learning valuable life lessons along the way?" "Nooo, a politically incorrect vampire who was horribly abused as a child rescues a lovable vegan Labrador from Swedish Nazi sympathizers!") This book seemed like that.
That the witch and vampire are really into doing yoga? Did not help.
A Discovery Of Witches is certainly annoying at the beginning. "What got me away from Madison was my intellect," heroine Diana Bishop smugly pronounces. Her amazing intellect is aided by "a prodigious, photographic memory." That's not all she has going for her, either: Bishop is a Yale professor spending a year at Oxford. She's described as an "extraordinary" actress and a disciplined athlete, and she's constantly rowing or jogging.
You sort of want to kick her.
But against all odds, A Discovery of Witches becomes increasingly charming as it goes along. There's a fine story here, centered on Bishop's discovery of a manuscript that promises to unleash all sorts of magical mayhem. Harkness tucks in bright plot twists and details based on her studies of the history of science and of really, really good wine. It's a shrewdly written romp and a satisfying snow-day read for those of us who heartily enjoyed the likes of Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley. By the book's rousing end, I didn't even miss the cackling. In fact, I was impatient for the sequel. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Random Reads Monday

I had a hard choice to make this morning:  pick a book off the shelves for my Random Read this week, or stick to the two I'm already reading this week.  Three in one week is a bit ambitious for me.  But, what the heck, I'll give it a shot!

So with that much reading for this week, I picked a young reader book that looks like a lot of fun:  

This is the paperback cover of The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester.  I like the cover art for the hardcover version instead:

Anyway, I can see the publisher wanted to make it appeal visually to kids, so they changed the cover.  It happens.  This is about Piper, who comes from a very conservative family, and discovers she can fly.  This will just not do, so she's sent away to a special school which may have nefarious designs on Piper and the other talented kids she meets there.

Have a great reading week!  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

If you've never heard of Kate Mosse, I'm here to tell you to read her!  Labyrinth, her first novel, knocked me over, it was so fantastic.  Historical fiction at it's absolute best.  I was ready to pack my bags and journey to France pronto.  It has since, and will always, remain one of my favorite  reads.  Ever.  Do yourself a favor and find a copy. 

Here's her latest book.  It was published in England a while ago, but has finally made it over to the U.S.  It also takes place in France.  This is my quickie review from Goodreads:

A story about a young man, Freddie, who is lost in the grief of losing his brother George during World War 1. His search for peace leads him to a small village in France, where, on a cold winter's night, he meets Fabrissa. Is she real? A ghost? How will she help him overcome his grief? 

This is a great tale. I love Kate Mosse and her use of actual historical events during the Middle Ages in France. What happened then still haunts the people, villages, and mountains. It's a quick read, but very thoughtful. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Here's my review from Goodreads:

Major Pettigrew is a 68 year old widower who lives in the same village he grew up in, and in the same cottage he shared with his wife.  He's at a bit of a crossroads when his younger brother dies, and he starts to reexamine his life and realizes he is lonely, bored, and a bit frustrated at the world and it's lack of manners.  He meets Mrs. Ali, the local shopkeeper, who stirs in Major Pettigrew an interest in finding love again.

This is a very sweet book, and Major Pettigrew is a stitch.  The slow romance between him and Mrs. Ali is the major thread through this novel, as each struggles against village gossip and their  ignorance of Mrs. Ali's Pakistan background, and family that wants to interfere.  A perfect book for Mom, Grandma, and anyone who loves reading about small English villages and the characters that inhabit them.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Reading Friends

I am thrilled my blogging friends are reading.  I know everyone has busy lives; kids, work, and all the stuff  that makes life a bit hectic.  Yet they still have time to sit down, relax, and open a book.  I am lucky--I can sit down and read pretty much whenever I want.  I don't have to worry about a husband, or kids.  If the house is messy--oh well.  I'll get to it later.  The only thing that gets me on the exercise bike at the gym is knowing I can read for 30 minutes while I pedal.  

So while checking out my blogging friends this morning, two talked about books.  Bravo, C-Joy for coming on the 100 book journey with me! She's a full time teacher, a mom and wife, and someone who loves to craft and cook.  We've had many a bottle of wine along with bread and cheese, and share a similar taste in books.  I know I can suggest titles to her, and her to me.  And, she's got a Nookcolor, so we have another way to read!  And guess what?  We met on the first day of work in our  bookstore, and have been friends from that first day over 16 years ago.  So books are definitely a big part of our lives.

My friend Diane Denmark is another very busy, very organized lady who also likes to read.  I know C-Joy has recommended books to her, too.  In between decluttering her home, planning menus, and having a lot of fun with her girlfriends running and enjoying life, she likes to read, too.  Yeah!  Check out her blog.  She's great fun and has a wonderful sense of humor.

And for everyone else who follows this blog, thank you!  It's always so much fun to hear what everyone is reading, what they thought, and what we can suggest to each other for the next reading experience.   Hop on board the Reading Challenge train!  You don't have to read 100 books; just make reading a focus for your year.  You'll be surprised at how much you enjoy it.