Friday, October 4, 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Last week, in honor of Banned Books Week, I read Looking for Alaska by John Green.  It was one of the books that made it onto the list of top challenged books in 2012 -- number 7 on the list.  As my long-time readers will know (if I still have any after my long silences), I read a challenged book, usually from the previous year's list, every year during Banned Books Week.  I had read a lot of what was on the list for 2012, so I didn't have very many to choose from if I wanted to read something new.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Biggest reasons for banning books

What are the biggest reasons for banning books?  Sex is definitely the biggest reason: If you look at the list of 2012's most commonly challenged books, eight out of ten list sex as a reason.  (I consider "homosexuality" as being related to sex, by the way, so I included And Tango Makes Three as one of the eight.  It's related, if you think about it.  The Victorian-like resistance to sex in culture wants it to be kept behind closed doors, and the very acknowledgement of homosexuals' existence inherently implies sex.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Is it literature's responsibility to teach morals?

As it happens every year, I found out that it was Banned Books Week this year when I spotted an article about it.  It's usually NPR that I find out through, and this year the article was Banned Romance: What's So Bad About Happily Ever After?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Books Week: Other resources

If you are looking for a book to read to celebrate Banned Books Week, here are some other resources to help you with your search.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Banned Books Week!

Every year Banned Books Week sneaks up on me -- usually I find out mid-week, when it's almost too late to read a challenged book in celebration.  This year I got lucky: This morning I happened to see a headline mentioning it today, the first day of Banned Books Week.

Yes, it's already that time again!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

After reading The Vampyre by John Polidori, I was pleasantly surprised by Carmilla.  This is another piece of early vampire literature -- predating Dracula, which is often considered the father of the genre -- which I decided to read as part of my research for the vampire series I am currently writing.  Unlike The Vampyre, however, it was told in a friendly, conversational narrative by the main character, Laura, who is being preyed upon (without her knowledge) by the vampire Carmilla.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Vampyre by John Polidori

As part of my research for the vampire series I am writing, I decided to read some classic vampire literature.  The first on my list was John Polidori's The Vampyre, which is a fairly short tale about a man who unwittingly befriends a vampire, resulting in the death of several women close to him.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes was a book we read last year in our sci-fi/fantasy book club -- a book my husband, Michael, suggested the book club read, since he really likes the author.  (In fact, he has suggested another of Joe Abercrombie books as one of the book club's selections this year: Red Country, the next book in the same universe as The Heroes and Best Served Cold.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hunt at the Well of Eternity by Gabriel Hunt

I got the ebook of Hunt at the Well of Eternity for free quite some time ago, shortly after I started on my digital reading journey in fact.  Back then there was a free category in Barnes & Noble's ebook store that I would check regularly, and I downloaded this during that time.  A year or two ago, I also bought and downloaded the other five books in the series, since the publisher was reportedly going out of business and the ebooks would no longer be available once that happened.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Get The Da Vinci Code for free!

The ebook version of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is currently free to promote his next book, Inferno, coming out in May.  The ebook of Da Vinci Code also has a short (10-page) excerpt of Inferno.  This is a fantastic deal -- you rarely ever see big sellers like this offered for free!  Supposedly you'll find the free price at all the major retailers -- I downloaded my copy from Barnes & Noble, and I know it's free on Kindle, too.  Don't hesitate to download this one ASAP -- no telling for how long it will be free!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

His Mistress by Christmas by Victoria Alexander

I have gotten a little behind on my daily book posts lately, partly because of how busy I've been with other things, such as my horses and the novel I am working on.  I'm still reading Les Miserables, which you'll remember was on my list of books to read in 2013, so all of these daily posts are actually catch-up reviews of books I read last year but forgot to blog about.

His Mistress by Christmas was a holiday romance about a widow who is looking for someone to have an affair with -- she doesn't want to give up the independence she has thoroughly enjoyed since her husband died.  Her choice of a lover, on the other hand, is more interested in marriage than she is.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The 1920s by Shmoop

I bought this inexpensive ebook early on when I was researching the 1920s for my novels.  In retrospect, I could have saved my money, even though I did pull a couple of useful facts out of the book.  It was just too short, with too little (and too generalized) information -- it was essentially the Cliff Notes of history books, although I didn't know it at the time.  It might be a good source of information for someone in middle school or high school who is doing research for a project, but for anything more, it just doesn't give enough information.

Short books equal short reviews I am afraid, so that's all I have to say about this one!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston

Since I'm a bit of a 1920s nut -- I have a blog about my 1920s-themed wedding, and I'm writing a series of novels about vampires in the 1920s -- I was thrilled to see a story on NPR about The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt.  It's described as "a novel in pictures," and the NPR story says that Preston bought old images from more than 300 eBay sellers in order to illustrate her novel.  This is incredibly interesting to me, since I've been using 1920s French photo postcards as representations of my characters, and as images for my website and (future) book covers.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How to Unspoil Your Child Fast by Richard Bromfield

I got this ebook for free a while back, but because of my occupation as a nanny and a babysitter, I was very interested in the message.  A lot of the parents I work for spoil their kids without even knowing it, just by giving in to their whining and crying, and otherwise rewarding bad behavior.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trapped by Michael Northrop

I can't believe I never blogged about Trapped!  I had had it on my wish list, but I finally bought and started reading it during a big snowstorm we had -- last winter, I guess it was.  I was thinking we would get snowed in, and decided to read a book to match!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

I was a big Anne Rice fan when I was in high school, so when The Wolf Gift came out last year, I jumped on it.  Having done vampires and witches, Anne Rice is now doing werewolves!  It seems to be the trend in vampire fiction lately, that you can't just do one kind of supe -- the more the merrier, especially if they are all in the same book (Sookie Stackhouse comes to mind).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Playing catch-up

I was going through my list of posts on my blog recently and realized how many drafts I have.  Some are books that I meant to read but never did, or started but never finished, but most of them are books that I read and never got around to blogging about.  As a little bit of spring cleaning, I am going to go through these posts and start blogging about the ones I read, and delete the ones that I never read or only partially read.  (I don't often quit books once I've started them, but as I've gotten older I've realized that with as much as I want to read, forcing myself to finish books I don't like is a waste of time that could be spent on books I do like.)

NPR's kids' book club selection for March

Just the other day there was an article on NPR about the kids' book club choice of the month, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  (I didn't even know that there was a kids' book club at NPR, but apparently they are called the Backseat Bookclub.)  I am thinking about reading this book in March along with the book club -- I've always meant to read it, but have never gotten around to doing so.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy Read an eBook week!


I had a busy weekend, so I actually missed the first day of this -- Read an eBook Week started yesterday (March 3-9).  But even though I'm a little late to the party, I love Read an eBook Week -- not only do I feel proud to be part of the movement they are trying to promote (moving to digital), but there are also great deals to be had on ebooks during this week, from publishers as well as indie authors.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Young Al Capone by William Balsamo and John Balsamo

After reviewing several thrillers -- two of which, Still Missing and Dark Places, I read right in a row (Gone Girl I read months ago) -- I decided to take a break and review a few other sorts of books while I read Les Miserables.  Young Al Capone was a biography I read as part of the research for a series of novels I am writing, which take place in 1920s Chicago.  Although much of this book was about the years before Capone moved to Chicago, it still looked like it would be full of information for my novels -- which, of course, it was.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Shortly after I started reading Les Miserables, I realized Gillian Flynn's Dark Places was available for me from the library -- and I only had a few more hours to check it out before I lost my opportunity.  Since I'd been waiting on the hold list for weeks, I decided to set Les Miz aside for a couple of days to read this.  (I only get the ebook for two weeks, and I am not at all confident that I can finish Les Miz with enough time to read Dark Places before the two weeks expire.  If it took me three weeks to read Kushiel's Dart, chances are that Les Miz may take me even longer.)

Part of the reason I was so eager to read this book next was because of how much I loved the first book of Flynn's that I read, Gone Girl.  I actually read that book months ago, but when I got this one from the library, I realized I hadn't ever blogged about Gone Girl.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

A few months ago, I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Although I don't often read books off the bestsellers lists until quite a lot of time has gone by, the description of this one intrigued me, and I put a hold on the ebook from the library.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

After finishing the long, tedious, but very beautiful Kushiel's Dart, I knew I needed something faster-paced and more mindless as my next read.  Originally I was going to read Les Miserables, one of the books on my 2013 reading list, but I knew it would be too heavy to follow Kushiel's Dart.  Instead I chose Still Missing, a thriller I'd bought as an ebook on sale months ago, probably as far back as the summer.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Is offering free books part of your business plan, or isn't it?

Amazon -- whom many of my readers will already know that I despise -- has made a surprising decision.  Apparently, even though they use the thousands of free books as a selling point for their Kindle, and in fact, promote the advantages of making your book free for indie authors who self-publish through the KDP select program...  Apparently, despite all this, Amazon has decided to punish affiliates who promote "too many" free books.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

It seriously took me about three weeks to read Kushiel's Dart, the February selection for the sci-fi/fantasy book club my husband and I belong to.  Hubby stopped even trying by the time he got 150 pages or so into it, and most of the other members of our book club gave up on it too, but I finished it the evening of book club (I read the last 30 pages or so after the actual meeting).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

The Postmortal has been sitting on my needs-to-be-reviewed list for a long time, as it was a selection for the sci-fi/fantasy book club I belong to sometime last year.  It's actually something of a parody of a futuristic, dystopian novel, but it's not so much funny as in ha-ha.  There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but mainly it's making fun of the genre and even humanity itself with its horribleness.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Leveling the ebook playing field?

Last night I came across a fascinating article, about a DRM Lawsuit Against Amazon.  Apparently three independent booksellers are suing Amazon and the Big Six (the six major publishing houses) because they claim that the Kindle's proprietary format and DRM create a monopoly: Independent booksellers can't sell DRM-protected ebook files that can be transferred from one type of e-reader to another, so consumers are being forced into buying almost exclusively from the big booksellers that produced their devices, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The truth about Mary Ingalls and what Barnes & Noble did for the industry

I grew up on the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder: autobiographical books about growing up on the frontier, told in third-person story format for young readers.  So I was interested to see an NPR headline today that says Laura's sister, Mary Ingalls, who in the book went blind from scarlet fever, may have actually gone blind from viral meningoencephalitis.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Back up your ebooks!

One of the things I love about ebooks is that no matter what, I always have that file.  Even if something happens to my Nook, I have the ebook files on my computer, as well as on the BN.com and Kobo clouds.  But I'm a little behind on backing up lately, so this is a good reminder to me to back up again.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My husband and I are both big Lord of the Rings fans, and since we hadn't been to see The Hobbit yet (Michael doesn't like big movie crowds), I decided to take the time to reread the book first.

I first read The Hobbit four years ago.  Even though I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time shortly after high school, and even though I'd read those books several more times and loved the movies, I hadn't ever read The Hobbit until 2009.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Should e-readers track our reading habits?

I found this article, from NPR on Monday, very interesting:

E-Readers Track How We Read, But Is The Data Useful To Authors?

The story is about how e-readers track information about their readers, and not just what books they buy: also how fast they read, how far they get into a book, and so on.  This is relatively new territory, since publishers couldn't track this kind of information with paper books, but it's also rather controversial.  There is always an outcry about any attempt to gather information about our habits, and this is no different.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Total Recall by Philip K. Dick

I actually read the short story that Total Recall was based on (originally published as "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" -- I can see why they changed it!) months ago, when the ebook was offered at a discounted price to coincide with the release of the new movie.  But since my husband and I finally saw the new movie recently, I have been thinking about the short story, and decided to reread it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paperless libraries?

For several years now, libraries have offered the ability to check out ebooks as part of their services -- and for many libraries, like mine, their ebook collections are growing steadily, if not rapidly.  There is a pretty high demand for ebooks at the library, surprising considering how slow many people were to accept the digitalization of books.

But as popular as ebooks have become, I was still surprised (though very pleased), to see this article from NPR:

A New Chapter? A Launch of the Bookless Library

This library will have nothing but digital media.  Patrons who don't have e-readers of their own can use the library's e-readers and computers to read ebooks in the building, or check out pre-loaded e-readers to take home.  Of course, I am sure there will be a high demand for those devices, but at least the library is finding a way to cater to people who cannot afford the technology.

The trade-off is that the library is not only able to save money on space (books take up a lot of real estate), but they will also have more space for computer stations and reading areas -- the idea of which I love.  It would be weird not to see any books, I think, but at the same time I often find that libraries and bookstores have a shortage of good places to sit and read.

Is the paperless library the future?  I certainly think so (though I don't necessarily want it to have the cold discomfort of an Apple store, as this article suggests it will).  I would make it more cozy, personally, since I think that's what most readers want, regardless of the format in which they read!  But I really like the idea of the library's space being devoted to computer stations and comfortable reading nooks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Keeker and the Sneaky Pony by Hadley Higginson and Maja Andersen

My last post, a review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, combined with the Grand Prix jumping show I saw Monday night, got me in a horsey mood (not that one is ever far away for me).  This cute little children's chapter book, Keeker and the Sneaky Pony by Hadley Higginson and Maja Andersen, was offered free in ebook format not very long ago, and I picked it up then.  (This is one of those books I read a little while back and am catching up on now that I'm blogging regularly again.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I've had The Scorpio Races in my to-read list since it first came out, since I loved Maggie Stiefvater's other books so much: Shiver, Linger, and Forever, a YA trilogy that features a unique take on werewolves.  Of course a book about fantastical horses caught my interest (I love horses and have two of my own), but, sadly, it still took me a while to get around to reading this book.  My wish list is most definitely bigger than my free time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride was our sci-fi/fantasy book club's selection for January -- we are reading a few classics of the genre this year, and this is one of the ones we picked.  Most likely everyone has seen the movie, which is not just a classic, but also a childhood staple; the book isn't as widely known, but it is still a landmark classic in the fantasy genre.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman

Lyra's Oxford is not really a book, even though it's sold as one.  It's actually a short story about Lyra after she has returned to Oxford, plus some bonus materials that fans of the His Dark Materials trilogy may find interesting.  The story, however, is nice if you left the trilogy wanting more, and wishing to know what happened to Lyra after the end of The Amber Spyglass.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

I actually finished The Amber Spyglass days ago, but I've been quite busy (not to mention sick yesterday) and neglected to blog about it until now.  But I actually found this book to be better, in many ways, in rereading it -- I'm not sure I understood as well what was going on the first time, and I certainly didn't remember the events in the book as well as I thought I did.

Warning: Spoilers follow.  Read on at your own risk!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife is the second installment in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.  The first in the trilogy, The Golden Compass, I decided to reread recently when the girl I nanny for started reading it.  She hasn't yet gotten to The Subtle Knife, but I have found that this trilogy is not an easy one to read any other way than straight through, so that's what I did.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I seem to be on a run of children's books lately, so I might as well review what I've been reading most recently: Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.  I read these books for the first time over five years ago, back in 2007 -- I didn't realize it was so long ago until I checked my blog, just now!  I have always been meaning to read them again, but it wasn't until the girl I nanny for started reading The Golden Compass recently that I finally decided to do so.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

Another book I read over the summer at the same time as the girl I nanny for was Lois Lowry's The Willoughbys.  This book is a little different than her popular award-winners, such as Number the Stars and The Giver, which are moving and thoughtful.  Instead, The Willoughbys is more of a parody of classic British children's books about children in a family, such as Mary Poppins.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

I'm skipping back a bit now to a couple of books I read over the summer.  Number the Stars was actually a reread for me -- perhaps the third or fourth time I've read it.  (Once when I was in high school, at least once for my children's and YA lit classes in college, and then this summer.)  The little girl I nanny for was supposed to read it over the summer, so I decided to read it, too.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Taking by Dean Koontz

If I had to choose the worst book we've ever read for our sci-fi/fantasy book club, that book would have to be The Taking.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Shortly before Christmas, my husband and I were in the mood to watch a musical, so we chose The Phantom of the Opera, the 2004 movie version of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical.  I've loved the story since I saw a made-for-TV version as a kid, but I especially loved the 2004 musical.  It easily ranks as one of my all-time favorite movies. So of course, after seeing it again I was inspired to reread the book.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to wish all of my readers a happy New Year!  How will you be spending the day?  I'll be spending it with my nose buried in a book -- perhaps getting started on my reading list for 2013 (in the hopes of actually reading the books this year!).