Monday, May 31, 2010

Respect ARCs Campaign

With the ending of the BEA, or Book Expo America, in NYC, a big issue has been brought to my attention with all of the ARCs that participants have walked away with. While it would never occur to me to do this with the books that I recieve for reviewing, there are apparently quite a number of people who are attempting to sell and auction off their ARCs on Ebay.

I find this behavior dispicable, and it reflects poorly on book bloggers who hunger and thirst for those ARCs. While the sellers will make a quick, dishonest buck, authors and publishers will only be less inclined to part with those precious ARCs for honest book bloggers to review. ARCs are Advanced Reader Copies specifically meant for reviewers and book bloggers, and are often uncorrected proofs and come in limited quantities. They are given out to generate buzz and excitement for when the completed book is released in the bookstores. The relationship between reviewers and publishers/ authors is one based on mutual trust and respect - I recieve your book because you trust me to review it, and I respect you for that so I follow through with the review. When people sell ARCs, not a single penny goes to the author or publisher. It's like a friend making you her special banana nut bread, and then you turning around and selling the loaf to someone on the street without even bothering to tell your "friend."
I know from reading other bloggers opinion on this topic that there is no possible way within the guidelines of Ebay to have these sellers' items removed, but I did find a campaign on Behind Yellow Eyes to respect ARCs, and I have the button up on my left sidebar. On their site is a growing list of all the book bloggers who have joined the campaign. I will never sell an ARC, even if I am hurting for money, and I will support any other book blogger and reviewer that does the same.

Will you join the Respect ARCs Campaign?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine

Feast of Fools (Morganville Vampires, Book 4)
Book Details:
Feast of Fools
by Rachel Caine
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published 2008, Penguin Books
Paperback, 242 pages
ISBN: 9780451224637

"The wait is over. Dig into the feast...
In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace. Student Claire Danvers has never been convinced, though—especially with the arrival of Mr. Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony. What he wants from the town’s living and its dead is unthinkably sinister. It’s only at a formal ball, attended by vampires and their human dates, that Claire realizes the elaborately evil trap he’s set for Morganville."

This book picks up right where the previous one left off, right in the middle of the action. I love when books do that. I flew through this book as quickly as the previous three, barely taking time to eat or sleep. I would compare the infamous Mr. Bishop to Dracula - minus the romantic leanings. Nothing about him is remotely appealing, and he has no interest in making himself appealing, unlike the other two power players in town, Oliver and Amelie. Lots of subplots are developed, but this one felt like more time could have been devoted to these other elements and lengthened the novel a bit without sacrificing the quality of the text, such as exploring how Claire could wield the power of Glass House, the effect that Michael had on others when he performed, Claire's problem with her professor, or even Claire's parents reaction to the truth about Morganville. It feels as if there are too many characters in the script and not enough pages to give them all adequate time in the spotlight. I find the character of Myrnin even more fascinating in this book - he seems sort of like the dark town jester. I was also disappointed in Claire's lack of interest in her classes, given that she was so happy about her schedule change in the last book. The funeral of Eve's father seemed forced, like it was inserted in the plot as an afterthought, especially since we did not see her mother at the ball at the end of the book, even though it seems logical that Mrs. Rosser would try to use the occasion to make a specticle of herself, not unlike Monica Morrell. Wow, so I had alot of nit-picky things to say about this book, but I still really enjoyed it and I really like this series, especially the character of Claire, who has more courage and daring than anyone in the book. I look forward to the next one, Lord of Misrule.

Cover: The words on the cover read: "It's the biggest party in town. And for some, it may be the last." The man on the cover matches the description of Michael, though it's not exactly how I pictured Michael, and I don't really understand why he was put on the cover, since the plot of this book does not center around him as much as some of the other characters, namely Bishop. The background behind him is obviously the ballroom, which I do like, as it gives me a hint of what the plot is leading up to.

First Line: "It was hard to imagine how Claire's day - even by Morganville standards - could get any worse... and then the vampires holding her hostage wanted breakfast."
This is a great first line! The mixture of plunging into a very scary situation with the mundaneness of breakfast is both humorous and ironic and would make just about any reader want more.

Favorite Quote: "Maybe I should, I don't know leave? Because this is starting to sound like one of those reality shows I don't want to be in. Maybe you guys want to take turns in the confessional booth."

Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, Fantasy Challenge, 101 Fantasy Challenge

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's the Hop, the Book Blogger Hop!

It's Friday, which means the Book Blogger Hop at Crazy For Books. So welcome to all of my new visitors and followers, take a look around and enjoy your stay.
 These are the blogs I have discovered through the Hop:

1. Erika Breathes Books
2. Bookish Blather
3. Cookies, Books, and Bikes

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Crescendo

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publication Date: November 16, 2010
"Nora should have know her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.
The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?"

What book release are you looking forward to?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: What-the-dickens

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy
"She saw a scissoring of torchlights in the breezeway and she picked up a muttering of voices. Whoever was here was making an effort to be secret. So they must guess that the house was occupied - even though it was dark, even though the neighborhood had largely been evacuated. What had tipped them off?
And what could they want? There was no food to speak of. Looters wouldn't look kindly on two jars of mashed carrots prepared for discriminating diners aged twelve to eighteen months."  - pg. 140, What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire

What are you reading this week?

Review: Havah by Tosca Lee

Book Details:
by Tosca Lee
Genre: Christian Fiction
Published 2010, B & H Publishing Group
Paperback, 319 pages
ISBN: 9781433668791

"Myth and legend shroud her in mystery. Now hear her story. From paradise to exile, from immortality to the death of Adam, experience the dawn of mankind through the eyes of Eve, the woman first known... as Havah."

I loved this book in so many ways I don't even know where to begin! The language is beautiful and flows like music across the page. Interspersed throughout the lyrical sentences are poetic phrases and descriptions that read as if they come from Havah's imagination, but also remind me of the words of the Biblical books Psalms and Song of Solomon. Havah's life is fascinating to watch unfold, from her dreams of the creation of the world, to her first sin and the subsequent aftermath, to each skill that she acquires to survive with the Adam outside of the garden. I shared her joy at the birth of each child, and I found her many discussions and arguments with the Adam to be strangely similar to interactions with my own husband. Here is a woman that every woman ever living could relate to in some way, and it satisfies a craving that I have often felt to simply sit down and talk to the "Mother of All Living." The Bible says precious little about Eve - only three chapters in Genesis make mention of her. The lengths to which Tosca Lee went to create a more complete picture of this captivating woman are detailed at the end of the text, and her list of sources is quite impressive. So much of this story is believable and relevant to even the most modern of women, in such things as her musings of life and death, the ups and downs of her various relationships, her daily tasks to survive, and her struggle to find meaning and purpose for her life. All of the fine details of the development of civilization were also quite entertaining, as I read the beginnings of farming, food preparation, pottery, trade, art, cloth-making, herding, etc. So many things I will think about for years to come, such as how the smallest things could develop over time to have such great impact, like a drawing of Havah's becoming the symbol of a religious sect or the chants of one of her many daughters turning into the song of a nation. This book was a study in human behavior in so many ways as well, such as how their vegetarian lifestyle changed to include first fish and then other meats by repeated famine or how greater numbers of people in close quarters resulted in strife and conflict.  I could go on and on about all that I loved about this book, but instead I will simply say that this book is definitely one of the best books I have ever read, and I highly recommend it, no matter what religion the reader prescribes to.

The Cover: The cover is both artistic and accurate, since the "mother of all living" would likely look eerily similar to the face on the cover. The swirls look a bit like vines, which is reminiscent of Havah's origins in the garden of Eden.

First Line: "I have seen paradise and ruin. I have known bliss and terror. I have walked with God."
Normally, I only quote the very first sentence, but in this case, I chose the first "thought," because it seemed more complete this way. This opening completely captures my attention and even my heart, since it addresses a major piece of the Christian faith.

Favorite Quote: "Let me be nothing. If I must be something, let me be air, which is unseen. Or let me be the earth that runs into the river with the rain, that empties out to sea until it is lost..."

Read For: Pages Read Challenge, New Authors Challenge, Biblical Fiction Challenge, Twenty-Ten Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Sunday, May 23, 2010

For the Love of Books: Penguin Inks

For the Love of Books is my very own weekly Sunday meme dedicated to the wacky, weird, and wild world-wide-web finds related to the world of books. Topics can be anything ranging from unique bookcases, sculptures of books, and odd bookstores, to interesting uses for books, book quotes, bits of book news, etc. I love web-surfing and I have come across so many ideas that the possibities for this meme are nearly endless! If you would like to join in the fun, snag the image on the left and post the link your specific blog post in comments so that others can read about your internet find!

I came across this interesting article about the publishing house Penguin re-imagining the covers of six "modern classics" in the style of body art, or tattoos. While I have not actually read any of the six books chosen for this experiment in marketing techniques, I like how they thought "outside the box" to maybe appeal to a different group of people than would otherwise pick up these titles. I hope that they continue with this idea with more titles in the future.

Here are the six books:

The Bone People: A Novel(Penguin Ink)The Broom of the System: A Novel(Penguin Ink)From Russia with Love: (Penguin Ink)
by Keri Hulme

by David Foster Wallace

by Ian Fleming

by J. M. Coetzee

by Martin Amis
Bridget Jones's Diary: A Novel(Penguin Ink)
by Helen Fielding

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hop Along Friday

It's Friday, which means the Book Blogger Hop at Crazy For Books. So welcome to all of my new visitors and followers, take a look around and enjoy your stay.
 These are the blogs I have discovered through the Hop:

1. Book Bookie
2. The Nerd's Wife
3. Rose City Reader

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

Hidden Flame, The (Acts of Faith)
Book Details:
The Hidden Flame
by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke
Genre: Christian Fiction
Published 2010, Bethany House
Paperback, 394 pages
ISBN: 9780764207426

"Abigail loses everything and is left with little promise of a normal life. When she discovers the Messiah and joins his followers, she also discovers new meaning and purpose. Maybe she does have a future after all. But increasing persecution is scattering the burgeoning group "to the ends of the earth." And Abigail may have given her heart to the wrong man. Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail's hand in marriage. One is a successful Hebrew merchant and widower looking for a mother for his children. On the other side is the Roman soldier Linux, who is captivated by her winsome charm and could offer the sanctuary--maybe even the love--for which she yearns. But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Stephen, one of the leaders of The Way, has a character and a faith that move her deeply, but his outspoken preaching has marked him for assassination. Will her faith and courage withstand a heartbreak beyond comprehension? And then a glimmer of hope appears, one she never would have foreseen."

I loved this book as much as I loved the first one in the series, The Centurion's Wife. I felt I could easily relate to the doubts and fears that Abigail dealt with on an almost daily basis, even though her world is far different from mine. Her humility and compassion are something for me to admire and aspire to, and I sympathized with her feelings of helplessness both in her struggle to work and her imminent betrothel. This book helped me to understand better the differences between the Pharisees and the members of the Sanhedrin, as well as the political climate of that time. I cried twice while reading the book, first while reading about Peter's shadow healing the sick and mamed as he walked and then at the point of Stephen's death. Despite the runny nose, I count this as a mark of well-written literature.
It's exciting to see how all of the names I know so well from Bible scriptures are introduced into the plotline of the novel, and it feels like taking a fresh look at events that I have read and studied over and over again, such as what happened to Ananias and Saphira. I feel like I am looking behind the scenes to what happened in between the lines of scripture, such as the events that led up to Stephen's death, the daily tasks of the members of the fledging church, as well as how the Apostles went about their daily lives, manifesting miracles as easily as shaking hands but still never taking for granted what Power worked through them. I appreciate the delicate nature of interpreting these Scriptures in a fictional text, and while there are some I know that would consider doing such as verging on blasphemous, I feel that such works serve a purpose in the "grand scheme" and hold merit.

The Cover: A beautiful young woman, who can only be Abigail, stands in a non-descript alleyway. Though the cover is attractive in a general way, I would have appreciated something more to represent elements of the plot, such as Abigail's leg wound, some representation of the work she does, or even the images of the men vying for her hand in marriage. It's too bland and simple.

First Line: "Abigail quietly withdrew from the celebration and limped into the shadows' coolness."
This first line reads as if it is picking up directly from the previous book, while focusing on the new main character of the plot. While it is appropriate for those who have read the previous book, it does not allow the book to stand alone in its appeal to the reader. But it does raise questions, such as what is the celebration, and why is Abigail limping?

Favorite Quote: "This is not a question of becoming a follower so that you can claim a woman as your own. This is a question of your life. Do you wish the Lord Jesus to be central to all you are, all you do? Do you wish to be transformed? Do you wish to be healed on the inside?"

Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Biblical Fiction Challenge, The 2nd Challenge, Twenty-Ten Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Havah

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
"He brought diseased or malformed leaves and stems and anything strange or unknown to us. He even brought dry dung, which we broke apart to learn the diets of the animals. Sometimes we burned it in the fire. It put off a foul smoke; where even the scat of animals had been filled with the pure waste of leaf and stem, it now contained the foul rot of flesh. At times I was appalled. Here was the adam, who named the very animals, reduced to scavenging bits of horn and bone like a hyena eating the remains of a carcass, or the jackal sniffing at the droppings of another. His boundless energy for pleasure seemed gone, the worries of this new life settled between his eyes and at the corners of his mouth. I cherished his fortitude and vulnerability even as I secretly and occasionally disdained it compared to the man he had been." - pg. 104, Havah by Tosca Lee

What are you reading this week?

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