Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Writer - July 2011

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iconEdit 7/25/2011: The image shown is of the August issue. Sorry, but I had to update my links, and the image of the old issue wasn't available anymore!

If I found the June issue of The Writer only about a third useful, the July issue was a solid improvement.  I'd say over half of the articles were interesting or useful to me.  There seemed to be a digital theme for this issue.  There was an article on ebook lending that I found very interesting, as it addressed whether the feature helps or hinders an author's sales; an article on virtual writers conferences; and another, less obviously-related article on how writers can go green.  Apparently The Writer is also selling digital articles grouped in topics now, so that you can buy digital packets on your chosen subject: fiction writing, screenwriting, etc.

There were also several articles on fiction writing, such as one defining the subgenres of fantasy (I found this useful as a reader, too, since I've wondered how exactly to define subgenres such as urban fantasy and steampunk), and another with tips for revision (that one definitely got bookmarked!).  And from a freelancer's standpoint, I especially appreciated the articles on generating website traffic and pricing writing services.

With all the articles that pertain to both my daily work and my other interests (fiction), I've decided to continue my subscription past the 14-day trial.  It's been a long time since I've gotten a monthly subscription, but it seems like I'll really like getting it on my Nook (versus a physical magazine in the mail)!

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Nook has a new look!

Since the new Nook is coming out soon, Barnes & Noble has accessories for the original Nook on sale.  Some of the sales are quite generous: Colored back covers, for instance, are 75 percent off in the store, which makes them just $4.74 each.

I've been tempted by the back covers for quite a while, so when we were at B&N on Friday, I succumbed to the temptation and bought one in marine.  While I was looking at the shelf, I also happened to see a cover I hadn't seen before, one I like much more than the plain black ones that are common in the store.  That was 50 percent off, so I got it for about $20.

You can't see the matching back cover in the picture, but here is my Nook's new look.  I do have a thing for blue:

My Nook in its new cover

My Nook in its new cover

I've been reluctant to get a book-style cover in the past, because it seemed like too much to deal with while reading.  The front flap does fold around nicely for one-handed reading, though.  The only other complaint I have is that it takes up more room in my purse than the Nook in just a neoprene sleeve.

My Nook in its new cover

I went back two days later and bought another back cover in my second color choice, grapefruit.  Maybe they'll eventually put out a cover that will match that one too.  It'll be fun to have a couple of different colors and covers to rotate between!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

iconiconI don't purchase many ebooks, and most of the ones I purchase only cost a few dollars, but for Sookie I was willing to spring for the $12.99 price tag!  I later found that I could have gotten Dead Reckoning from my library, but you know, I'm not sorry.  I love the Sookie Stackhouse books enough to justify owning them (and I do own most of them, in ebook format).

Anyway, I also get a lot of books out from the library, so between my purchased ebooks and the many freebies I've been downloading every month, my list of unread purchased ebooks is getting quite long.  I managed to make time to read Dead Reckoning, but once I've read the library ebooks I have currently checked out, I'm going to focus on reading from my B&N library for a while.

Anyway...

It's been nearly a year since I read all the Sookie Stackhouse books, and I'd been waiting for this one, the eleventh book in the series, for so long that I actually missed the release day by a couple of weeks.  And then, of course, I had to finish the library books I had checked out at the time.

And after all that, I blew through Dead Reckoning in less than a day... pretty much my track record for these books.  Last year, I finished the entire series in a little over a week.

Oh, it's so hard to decide what to write about Dead Reckoning, because I don't want to give away too much for those who haven't read the rest of the books yet, but are planning to.  But I guess I've already given away in my other reviews that Sookie and Eric eventually get together, so that's no surprise.  In this book, relations are getting worse between Eric and Victor, the vampire king's regent who has been appointed to rule Louisiana.  Eric and his second-in-command, Pam, are plotting against him, and Sookie (naturally) gets drawn into it.

At the same time, Sookie has someone after her, and it doesn't take her long to find out who: someone from a past book, bent on revenge.  There are also a few revelations about Sookie's family and lineage, and nearly all of Sookie's past love interests show up in this book.

There is a lot going on in Dead Reckoning, but I couldn't help but feel it was leading up to the next book, setting the stage for some significant changes in Sookie's love life, and maybe her entire life as a whole.  It will be interesting to see where the next book goes, though of course it probably won't be out for another year!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Testimony by Anita Shreve

This ebook is currently bargain priced at only $2.99, so don't wait!

I discovered Anita Shreve years ago, back when The Pilot's Wife was popular.  I loved that book and Sea Glass, which I read a long time ago, but I've also read some books of hers that I didn't like all that much, such as A Wedding in December.

When I first started reading Testimony, I wasn't all that excited about it.  It starts out with the sex tape right away, and I know that's meant to draw you in, but at that point you don't care enough about the characters to be concerned about the crisis.  It also doesn't help that at first, the alternating point of view — each chapter is told from a different character's point of view, with a distinctly different "voice" for each — is a little confusing and frustrating.

I am ashamed to admit that I thought of not finishing the book, but I've been doing that a little too often lately, so I made myself stick with it.  I'm glad I did, too, because before I knew it I was 50 pages into the book, and I was hooked.  Maybe about halfway through, I started suspecting one of the plot twists that occurred toward the end of the book, but it was still pretty suspenseful — enough that every time a new chapter and a new POV came up, I'd say to myself, "One more chapter," and in that fashion kept reading until I'd finished the book.

Essentially, the book wasn't so much about what happened, as how it impacted the lives of kids, teachers, and parents, people who weren't even involved in the tape itself, like ripples in a pond spreading out from where a stone's been thrown.  Each POV showed how the event affected someone else, how they felt about it, and the long-lasting repercussions to their lives.  Not one of Anita Shreve's best, in my opinion, but still a fascinating and compelling novel.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Writer - Nook magazine subscription

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iconEdit 7/25/2011: The image shown is of the August issue. Sorry, but I had to update my links, and the image of the old issue wasn't available anymore!

Since I got my Nook last month, I've been interested in trying out a periodical.  Unfortunately, I have no interest in most of the magazines that are available on Nook, and I see no point in paying for a newspaper subscription when it's so much easier (not to mention free) to get the same articles online.

So I was really excited when B&N announced that The Writer is now available on Nook.  The subscription costs $3.50 a month and you can cancel at any time (which makes me wonder why anyone would pay $6.95 for the individual issue).  Best of all, there is a 14-day free trial.  The way my trial is timed, I will get two issues: the most recent one, and the next one, which comes out on Nook on May 28th.

I had mixed feelings about this issue, but on the whole I think there was some useful stuff in it, at least enough to justify a small business expense every month.  About two-thirds of the articles I thought were mostly fluff pieces, chatty but with no real interest to me.  The other third of the articles, on the other hand, were genuinely interesting and useful, and I found myself bookmarking several for later.  For instance, there was an article on making the most of your time, with several suggestions that I could definitely stand to apply to my life — I've been feeling for months now, maybe even a year, like I've got increasingly less control over my time, but that's probably a topic for my freelancing blog.  Another article gave some tips on handling simultaneous submissions — nothing ground-breaking, just good, common-sense advice.

I'm looking forward to my next issue, which comes out tomorrow!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

What are your plans for the holiday weekend?  I am planning on doing lots of reading, of course, but there will probably also be some dog walking, horseback riding, yard work, and maybe a trip to the mountains thrown in there.  My husband is taking a couple of days off to make it an extra long weekend, so I'm sure we'll be doing a lot of fun stuff!

Barnes & Noble is running a sale for the holiday weekend, of course.  Click on one of the links below to save either 15 or 20 percent on one item (members get a slightly better deal).  Don't forget that these discounts don't apply to ebooks, though!


Edit 7/25/2011: The links were old so I removed them.

If you have something you've been thinking of buying, don't wait — both coupon codes expire on Tuesday!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy boxed set

iconiconI recently finished the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, and thought I should also mention the boxed set that is available.  It's a really nice set, and I remember eyeing it around Christmastime.

You can find my reviews of the individual novels here:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

   The boxed set also includes a slim volume called On Stieg Larsson, which is apparently a collection of essays about the author, including some correspondence with him.

The Barnes & Noble product page has a video about the boxed set, but apparently there is no way to embed it on my blog.  I do recommend clicking on the image link and scrolling down to watch the video if you think you might be interested in owning nice collector's editions of these novels.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

iconiconIt was a long wait to get this ebook from my library, but finally it was my turn. It was pretty long, but by the time I was almost halfway through with it, I could hardly put it down.  I read almost the entire second half of the book Monday night, and was up until after 2am to finish it.

In my opinion, this is the best book of the three, but I know I've talked to some people who found it the darkest and therefore the hardest to read.  I loved it though.  Lisbeth's character is fairly slow to develop in the first two books — you don't really find out much about her in the first book, and the second book only starts to develop her character more.

In the third book, however, Lisbeth is in deep trouble.  Having been wounded at the end of the second book, Lisbeth spends most of the time in the third book in the hospital, with the possibility of a prison sentence looming over her.  Blomqvist convinces her to fight it out in court, and while she is able to help a little thanks to her computer hacking abilities, most of the investigative work falls to several different factions who are trying to find out the truth about the super-secret division of the Swedish secret police that had Lisbeth committed when she was 12.  At the same time, "the Section" is viciously fighting back, trying to protect themselves by making sure their decades-old secrets stay buried — at any cost.

There is a lot going on at once in this novel, and as a result the plot is complicated but extremely suspenseful.  One of the things I like about Stieg Larsson's books is that he doesn't use eleventh-hour crises to maintain suspense — instead he maintains it through a complex plot that all comes together neatly at the end.  It was quite a satisfying ending!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barnes & Noble announces the new Nook!

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Today Barnes & Noble announced the new Nook, the "Simple Touch Reader". As the trademarked name indicates, this new eInk device is a touchscreen, which eliminates the navigation touchscreen on the original Nook, and the clumsy buttons on the Kindle.

The new Nook replaced the original Nook, and will sell side-by-side with the Nook Color, since they are really targeting two very different groups of people — those who just want to read books, and those who want a tablet that also happens to be an ebook reader.  Since the Nook Touch is targeting people who just want to read, they've eliminated many of the extra features from the original, which most of us dedicated readers don't use anyway: no games, web browser, or MP3 player.

The new Nook also doesn't have a 3G option — it's wifi only, which means you need to have access to a wifi network in order to shop and download books.  I think there are a few reasons for this.  First of all, you don't need the Internet just to read, and I think B&N assumed that the 3G feature really wasn't needed after all.  And of course, I suspect they wanted to reduce the new Nook to the bare bones as much as possible, so that they could keep the price low.  Their 3G contract with AT&T cost them money, since unlike the iPad, your 3G connectivity on the Nook is free to you.  I think they are planning to end that contract, though, since they are now selling the 3G models on eBay as wifi only.

Despite being bare bones, the new Nook has several advantages over the original Nook, or even over competing ebook readers:

* It has an eInk touchscreen for better navigation
* The contrast on the eInk screen is improved, which makes for crisper text
* It weighs less than 8 ounces, so about two-thirds of the original Nook's weight
* The battery is supposed to last for about 30 hours (they say 2 months, but that's assuming 30 minutes of reading time a day, which is preposterous)

If you preorder the new Nook now, it'll ship on June 10th.  I plan to be in the store that day so that I can see the new Nook in person.  I have a few concerns, such as whether the touchscreen is shiny (I think reading on a shiny eInk screen would be awkward), how you get to sideloaded ebooks, and whether the new Nook preserves the shelves feature for organizing your ebooks.  I still love my original Nook, so I probably won't be rushing out to buy this one, but I'd still like to have my questions answered so that I know what I'm in for when it comes time for an upgrade.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

iconiconRecently I connected with an old friend of mine from sixth and seventh grades, and he invited me to the fantasy/sci-fi book club at our local Barnes & Noble.  Although I wasn't able to make it to this month's meeting, I still read the book: Storm Front, by Jim Butcher.

I may have been about the only person who hadn't really heard much about these books, because apparently the Dresden Files are pretty popular.  I can see why!  The book was narrated in a style that reminds me of the private eye novels a friend of mine likes, but the narrator, Harry Dresden, isn't any old private eye — he's a wizard.  Apart from being set in the modern world (urban fantasy, I believe they are calling it), the principles of magic are a lot like those in Patrick Rothfuss's books, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear.

I really like the narrative style, though it's not the kind of book I would usually read — a slightly different flavor, if you know what I mean.  But I really enjoyed it, which once again shows the value of other people's suggestions.  It's good to get a little out of my comfort zone, and read something different for a change, even if it's not a whole lot different than what I usually read.

I wish I knew what the book club had to say, but apparently they liked it so much that they pushed back the next book in order to read the sequel next.  I'm definitely on board with that, and maybe I'll even make it to the next meeting.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ebooks becoming more popular than print?

There is a story on NPR today about ebooks — apparently Amazon has reported that they are now selling more ebooks than DTBs (dead tree books).  For every 100 physical books they sell, they sell 105 ebooks, so the scales are just beginning to tip — but still, that's pretty significant, considering how many people I know still have major reservations about ebooks.


I think I'd consider myself exclusively an ebook reader now.  I haven't read a DTB in a long time, and the last one I read was simply because that was the only format I could get it in (it was also a library book).  To me, there's no contest anymore for the books I read: Ebooks don't take up any space in my house, I don't have to drive to the library or the bookstore to get them, don't have to wait for library books to come in or return them in time to avoid a fine.  And it's far easier to hold the Nook and turn the pages than it is to hold a real book.

For the books I collect, of course, I still buy "real" books, but for reading copies you just can't beat the advantages of ebooks!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Under the Rose by Diana Peterfreund

iconiconLast month I read the first book in this series by Diana Peterfreund, Secret Society Girl.  (I was also honored by not just one, but two comments from the author — thank you for visiting, Ms. Peterfreund!)  It was a fun novel about a lit major who gets drafted into her college's oldest — and previously all-male — secret society.  The decision to include females in her year's taps stirs up trouble with the society's alumni, and Amy and her "brothers" have to fight for the right to bring Rose & Grave into the 21st century.

The issue is ongoing in Under the Rose, but Amy and her brothers are also confronted with another threat: A member of the society is leaking their secrets online, and they have to find out who.  And at the same time as all this, Amy is dealing with the temptation of a relationship with one of her society brothers.  In the first book, I was really intrigued by the thought of a relationship with this guy, but the second book puts a shocking twist on their relationship.

Under the Rose also confirms a suspicion that I've had about Lydia, her roommate, since the first book.

I loved this book just as much as the first one.  The author does a great job of continuing the story from the first book without making the issues seem old.  The story is a little different, though, since half of the first book was about getting into the secret society.  You could almost classify this book as a little bit of a mystery or a suspense novel, since one of the society members goes missing halfway through the book, and it's up to Amy to try to find out what's going on.

You wouldn't think there would be many more now, since Amy is a senior, but it looks like there are two more that take place before graduation.  My reading list is a little crazy right now, but I am looking forward to more Amy adventures in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

iconiconThe 8-year-old I babysit for just finished reading these books, though I was actually thinking about reading them myself long before he started them.  They are written for a much younger audience than the YA books I prefer, but they were quite good, and with a sense of humor that seemed to help make it accessible to older readers as well.

For instance, pay attention to the chapter headings, as they are often quite sarcastic or amusing.  For instance, the chapter in which Percy is confronted by the minotaur as his mom is trying to get him to safety is called "My Mom Teaches Me Bullfighting."  Heh.

For those who haven't heard of these books, Percy Jackson finds out in The Lightning Thief that he is Poseidon's son.  Since he is a powerful demigod, he has to go to a special school as soon as he starts getting stronger, because monsters from Greek mythology (the Furies, the Minotaur, etc.) keep trying to kill him.  And before he can start to feel safe at his new school, he finds out that he has been framed for stealing Zeus's master bolt.  He sets out to find the real thief, and to clear his name.

Besides the humor, it's cleverly written, and I can see why kids would love it.  Percy is ADHD and dyslexic, but it turns out that it's because he's special — as his friend explains, his ADHD is because of his fighting instincts, and his dyslexia is because his brain is hard-wired to read Greek, not English.  Genius — that makes Percy even more of a favorite hero for modern day kids.

It's a great adventure story with all of the elements of Greek mythology, too.  Not just the monsters and the gods and demigods, but also the backstory and the trials that he goes through on his way to confront the real thief.  I plan on reading the rest of these books as I find time — they are fast reads (from an adult's point of view) and plenty entertaining!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Heart Divided by Kathleen Morgan

iconiconTo my shame, this book seems like it's going to join the ranks of books I have not finished. I don't usually like to not finish books I've started, but in this case, I was so bored and I have so many good books I need to read right now, that I didn't want to waste any more time on this than I already have.

A Heart Divided is listed as historical fiction, but in reality it's very trite Christian romance.  The plot is rather dull and predictable, and I feel I have plenty of foundation to say this, since I read more than two-thirds of the book before I gave up on it.  Obviously they are going to end up together (that was clear from 30 pages in), and obviously they are both going to go through some kind of spiritual catharsis.  I didn't appreciate the religious overtones any more than I did the lack of excitement in the plot, OR the misrepresentation as historical fiction (though that may have been my library's fault; I don't know).  The description and the classification as historical fiction makes it seem like it's going to be much more interesting than it is, and I was quite disappointed!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

iconiconA busy week and weekend caused me to get a little behind on blogging. I actually finished The Wise Man's Fear last Tuesday!  I had it from the library past the due date, so I had to make very sure not to back out of the book on my Nook until I was finished, or I wouldn't be able to open the file again.

The second book in Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles (the first was The Name of the Wind), The Wise Man's Fear deviates even more from the Harry Potter comparison my husband made when trying to describe the books to me.  The Name of the Wind was definitely darker than Harry Potter, but in The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe leaves the university for a while and goes off on his own adventures, which makes for an even darker book.  You have the feeling that the books are building up to something pretty significant, as in present day — when Kvothe is telling his story — there are mentions of a war going on, and how the roads are no longer safe.  I have a feeling that whatever it is, it's something that Kvothe did.

These are awesome fantasy novels that I think even people who don't normally like other-world kind of fantasy would enjoy.  Kvothe is a great humor, and there are some nice touches of irony and humor in the books, which I always appreciate.  Anything that makes me laugh out loud while I'm reading deserves kudos, especially if it's not the sort of book where you would expect that!  I highly recommend these books, although some people might want to do what another friend of mine is doing, and wait for the third book to come out before they start reading the series.  Waiting is going to be difficult!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth

iconiconThis is one of those nonfiction books that I've read on the side here and there.  It was one of the titles my library added to their ebook collection recently, so I snapped it up.

I read it pretty enthusiastically until a few chapters in, when the author said that a one-person business is not a business at all.  She basically said that it's not worth your time at all to build a business if you are the only person in the business, because it has no value and cannot be resold.  Essentially, she is saying that all of the time and effort you put into marketing and other business-running tasks are wasted, because you aren't building something as value.

I'll address this issue a little more on my writing blog next week, but for now, suffice it to say that since I'm a freelance writer, I didn't appreciate this bit of "wisdom."  As a result, I put the book down for several days before finally picking it back up again and skimming through the rest.

The rest of the information in the book I wholeheartedly agree with.  She talks about some of the biggest fallacies that lead people to start their own businesses — they want to make their living doing what they enjoy, they want more time off or a more flexible schedule, they want to be their own boss, etc. — and explains why each of these is a terrible reason for starting your own business.  For instance, fost people underestimate the amount of time they'll be working as a business owner, not to mention the amount of time they'll be spending doing other things — marketing, financial stuff, administrative, etc.  So little of your time ends up being spent on "what you love," that if that's your incentive, you are better off just getting a job doing what you love.

All this kind of stuff I agree with.  But I totally disagree with building a one-person business being a waste of time, and I'll explain why on my writing blog.  It was hard to get past my resentment over that statement so that I could enjoy (and learn from) the rest of the book, but I still found it to be pretty useful.  Even if it supposedly didn't apply to me.

Just a word of warning: This is not a book to help you start your own business.  It's a book to help you decide whether you are really the right person to start your own business.  She's right that many startups fail because the owners have no business (please excuse the pun) running a business.  This book is designed to help you decide whether or not that's you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review of Nook Read In-Store feature

Recently I read a book, Swoon, via Barnes & Noble's Read In-Store feature on the Nook. Basically this allows you to read entire books for free while you're in the store. You only get an hour per book per day, but you can read the entire thing for free that way, and not just a sample.

In general, I found Read In-Store to be a great feature, one I plan to use regularly from now on.  There are a few drawbacks, of course — you can't change the font style or size, or use bookmarks, notes, or the table of contents.  Also, it counts each Nook screen as a page, which gives you almost double the actual pages.  However, it will remember what books you read in-store recently, and take you back to where you left off last time.

I do recommend that if you plan to buy the book, you stop reading at the end of a chapter, to make it easier to find your place in the book.  The Nook will not remember where you were if you switch from Read In-Store to a purchased copy, and since the pagination is all screwed up, you'll have a hard time finding where you left off.

Another drawback is that the Nook downloads each page from the server every time you advance one page in the book.  This means two things: 1) You are dependent on the Internet connection, and 2) The wireless on your Nook has to stay on constantly, which drains the battery much faster than usual.  I did encounter some problems with the next page not loading, but found that if I accessed the book from Shop > Recently Read In-Store > [book title] instead of getting there via Reading Now, the problem generally went away.

Despite the drawbacks, I loved using the Read In-Store feature, and plan on always reading something in the store.  It took me a couple of weeks to get through Swoon, and of course since I could only read in the store I often had to wait to see what happened next; but for books that you think you might not want to spend the money on, this is a great option.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nook Color software update vs. rooting

You might have noticed that the new banner ad across the top of my blog states that the Nook Color now has apps.  It's true!  Barnes & Noble just did an update to the operating software that allows you to download apps onto your Nook Color.  The main justification for this seems to be Angry Birds, which if you haven't heard of it yet, is a highly addictive game on the iPhone, iPad, and other touch-screen smart phones.

I'm not sure if the new update allows you to download the Kindle app, but of course I rather doubt it.  However I've long thought that would be a great way for Barnes & Noble to capture previous Kindle customers.  Because buying DRM'd Kindle books locks Amazon customers into the Kindle, since the ebooks can't be read on any other device without stripping the DRM, allowing the Kindle app to be downloaded to the Nook Color would enable Kindle customers to switch over to another eReader without losing their existing library.

Of course, there is a workaround.  Rooting the Nook Color turns it into an Android tablet and allows you to download the Kindle app, although of course that means you need to read your ebooks with the Nook app (instead of the built-in Nook software that you had pre-rooting).  Not a bad deal for previous Kindle customers who want to switch over to B&N, or who want to expand the number of ebooks available to them.  Although the agency pricing model has eliminated many of the pricing discrepancies, Amazon still does have more free ebooks and often has ebooks available at better prices than B&N, so rooting the Nook Color would give you, quite literally, the best of both worlds.

Swoon by Nina Malkin

iconiconSwoon was one of those ebooks on my B&N wish list that I didn't want to pay full price ($8.99) for, but also couldn't get it from the library.  As a result, this was the first book I read via the Read In-Store feature on my Nook.  I was able to read the entire book during about six separate visits to the store.  Since my husband and I go to Barnes & Noble at least once or twice a week, and sit in the cafe drinking lattes and reading our books, the Read In-Store feature was a perfect way for me to read a book I didn't want to own.

Swoon is about Candice, nicknamed Dice, a high school girl who has been relegated to small town America after an incident that you don't find out about until the very end, even though it's hinted at throughout the book.  While she and her cousin Penelope are messing around one day, the spirit of a restless ghost inhabits Pen.  Dice discovers that Sin (short for Sinclair) is here to try to find out who murdered his lover in Swoon more than two centuries ago, and is put into the position of helping him in his quest — either that, or let him rip the town apart as he takes vengeance on the descendants of those who wronged him!

I felt a little uninvolved in the story, which could have been because I was only reading it in bits and pieces over a period of 2 or 3 weeks.  However, I couldn't shake the feeling at times that it was the author's exploration of her fantasy of a "bad boy" — and that it didn't jive with mine.  Even so, it was a good story, and I liked how it ended.  I may have been reluctant to pay $8.99 for the ebook, but this is one book that I think would have read better if I'd been able to read it over a couple of days, instead of weeks.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

West of Here by Jonathan Evison

iconiconI hadn't been planning on reading West of Here quite yet, but I'd been on the hold list at the library for a while, so I decided I'd better read it while it was available to me.  It is a longish book (almost 500 pages on the Nook), so it took me a little longer than I would have liked, which means I now have to scramble in order to finish The Wise Man's Fear (a library book) before it expires.

West of Here was good, but not quite what I was expecting.  It's a historical novel but also a tale of roots.  The historical bits take place in the 1890s, telling the story of both the establishment of a community and an expedition into (supposedly) unexplored wilderness.  However, the past is also paralleled with the present, as the story also encompasses the pioneers' and explorers' descendants in 2006, and how their forebears' decisions have impacted their lives.

There is also a surprisingly supernatural element.  I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say what it is, but it did really surprise me, since the novel seems so historical and serious (even though the community seems to be fictional).

The book was well written, but I do have to say that I didn't find it to be very engrossing or suspenseful.  Most of the time I felt like I was just plugging away at it.  I did come to care about the characters, enough so that I teared up at the very end, but it was still something of a slow march, if you know what I mean!

Why I love the beginning of the month

Of course, the biggest reasons why I love the beginning of the month is that there is almost always a swarm of free ebooks.  Several publishers offer a new batch of free ebooks every month.  You can find these freebies listed on several sites, but here are my favorites

The Free NOOKBook thread on the B&N forum
Books on the Knob
Nook Deals

I just downloaded a bunch of freebies this morning.  A few are from Sourcebooks, a publisher that only tends to make their freebies available for a couple of days, so don't wait to check out the new offerings!