Sunday, May 12, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
To find out more about Dewey's Read-a-Thon and how you can participate, visit the web site and read the FAQs. You don't have to spend all 24 hours reading, but it's fun to try.
My list so far:
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert
Murder on Sister's Row by Victoria Thompson
A few stories from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine thrown in
Saturday, March 30, 2013
I've written before about how much influence book covers have on me. My Pinterest board called Book Cover and More gives me the opportunity to virtually collect covers I love, and I have found many more readers who do the same.
One such cover lover is twilightdreamer (otherwise known as Maria Behar), who sponsors the Shelf Candy Saturday meme/hop from her blog A Night's Dream of Books. I enjoy seeing the covers that others choose and especially reading about why they like them.
Here are just a few of the beautiful covers recently selected by Maria:
Besieged by Rowena Cory Daniells
Tiger's Destiny by Colleen Houck
Angels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Sharon Shinn
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Description from the Author:
The Other Alexander is the first book in the epic trilogy, The Bow of Heaven. Alexandros, a young Greek philosophy student, is wrenched from a life unlived to submit to the will of an empire - as a slave of Rome. In a world without choice, he must use his cunning and wits to gain the trust of one of the most powerful men in the Republic.
Yet no matter how high he climbs, or how deeply he falls in love, Alexandros' life is still bound to the will of another. When his master becomes blinded by revenge, the fates of both owner and owned become slaves to a terrible choice. A choice which will threaten the very life of the empire one has ruled, and the other has been forced to serve.
I enjoy novels set in the ancient world, not only because I find history fascinating but because it can be very educational, too. It is up to the author to decide how much research goes into his book and how authentic he can (or wants to) make it based on what we know of the past. Sometimes the story is more important than the history, and thus the reader must be careful to understand the difference.
In The Other Alexander, the story and the history are blended very well. The settings are wonderfully described and the characters are mostly believable. I doubt the real Crassus was as kindhearted and tolerant as portrayed in this book, but I'm willing to set that aside for a great tale, and this is one.
Fortunately, the story is relatively simple and the number of characters is kept to a minimum, while allowing for enough variety of personalities and ethnic diversity to keep it interesting. The conflicts are universal and deeply moving. We care about the people and want to know the outcome.
Speaking of outcomes, the author chose the perfect ending for this first of three books: you will want to continue but will not be hanging by a thread. Having now read the second book, I can say the same about that one. I am eagerly awaiting the third novel.
Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I felt I had to reply to a comment I saw on Amazon.com recently. The situation was this: a new, non-fiction book was being "reviewed" and one of the commenters gave it one star. It's impossible to give anything lower on Amazon.com. The reasoning was that the price of the Kindle version of the book was too high.
Most commenters probably agreed that it was overpriced. However, the commenter hadn't even purchased the book, and it was agreed that it was poor form to slight the price in that case, as the bad rating went against the overall quality of the book using Amazon's rating system. The star rating -- as it applies to books -- is usually reserved for rating the contents and whether the reader liked or disliked the publication.
One commenter wrote the following while discussing this issue: "It costs very little to make an ebook. For amazon's Kindle, one need only to upload the book in Microsoft Word format and upload a picture of the cover of the book, and perform a few odds and ends and you are set to go - no production costs after that, no worry about printing too many copies, etc."
My answer to at least this statement follows:
In reply to [reviewer's name], it's not as easy as "perform(ing) a few odds and ends" to prepare a book to be published in the correct format for the Kindle -- or any other ebook. I'm an editor and I create ebooks for clients, so I know of what I speak.
If you are a regular reader of ebooks, you've seen books which have poor 'translation' from the original version, or perhaps were done without proper preparation. Those ebooks have strange paragraph returns, unexplained spacing, remaining page numbers, and countless other anomalies. (That doesn't count the poor editing that many exhibit!)
Each major distributor of ebooks demands a different format, as well. If ebooks were offered in a standard format across the board, it would be much easier (and less expensive) to publish them. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen, as we know in the computer world.
I do agree that prices of ebooks should be lower than that of print books. However, major publishers like Harper still need to make a profit, as do the many, many entities down the line who get a cut of the price, including Amazon and of course, the author (who makes very little from this, I'm sure). BTW, authors have little to do with setting the price if a publisher is distributing the book.
Big publishers are in trouble because of the self-publishing industry, no doubt about it. If buyers -- that's YOU -- insist on quality and agree to pay a fair price, then the market will follow, however slowly that happens.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
We had another great group today and some really interesting books were shown. I really like the format of this group. There's no pressure to read a particular book by a deadline. Everyone simply brings a book or two that they've read and introduces it to the gang, tells us if they liked it or not, and most of the time will offer to give it away to the first taker.
The meetup today included a good mix of men and women, several new members, and genres covered fiction and non-fiction, although novels and mysteries were predominant.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich - contemporary mystery
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Creighton - swashbuckling adventure/thriller
Live By Night by Dennis Lehane - Boston, 1926, mobsters and prohibition.
The Women by T.C. Boyle - "... a novel of Frank Lloyd Wright and the women in his life."
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Three for the Chair [Nero Wolfe] by Rex Stout - and several other in the series
Bellweather by Connie Willis - "Pop culture, chaos theory and matters of the heart collide in this unique novella from the Hugo and Nebula winning author of Doomsday Book."
The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair - "First in a new series featuring Inspector Ramirez, The Beggar's Opera exposes the bureaucracy, corruption, and beauty of Hemingway's Havana."
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent by Gabrielle Walker
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
Change Your Brain, Change Your Body by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Slow Dollar by Margaret Maron - mystery with Judge Deborah Knott
Changing Woman by Amiee and David Thurlo - an Ella Clah mystery of the Navajo Nation
The Disappeared by M.R. Hall - British mystery with Jenny Cooper
A Remarkable Mother by Jimmy Carter - homage to "Miss Lillie"
Late Night Talking by Leslie Schnur - contemporary urban career woman angst with comedy
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith - "An expanded version of the beloved novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem."
The Jane Austin Book Club: A Novel by Karen Joy Fowler
Jane Austin in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen - Jewish seniors romp in Florida
Saturn's Race by Larry Niven and Sten Barnes - science-fiction, future Earth thriller
Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro - "Best zombie book EVER"
Vampires in the Lemon Grove [pre-release] by Karen Russell - imaginative short story collection from the author of Swamplandia
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Achilles' Choice by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes - science fiction about athletics and morals
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill - the son of Stephen King writes his own horror
The Switch by Elmore Leonard - ex-cons must turn a kidnapping gone bad to their advantage
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett - Death decides to retire in this Discworld novel
Stray by Rachel Vincent [Shifters, Book 1] - "urban werecat fantasy"
Jersey Devil by Wayne W. Causey - "creature terror and demonic possession" (no wonder I missed this one! LOL)
I hope I didn't miss anyone! Until next time, keep reading.
Friday, January 18, 2013
The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I was initially excited to read this book as the subject interests me. The premise is to understand how humans lived before modern civilization and to compare that to our lives now. Should we try to be more like "traditional" people in order to solve some of our problems?
However, the more I read, the more irritated I became with the author's liberal attitude and sweeping claims. Many of the so-called 'facts' he stated were simply false, and for an author with Diamond's apparent reputation, that is deplorable.
He concentrates on the people of New Guinea because that is where he did his own research, and also because those "traditional" peoples have been most recently introduced to what we call modern civilization. He does mention several other groups around the world that were, until quite recently, isolated and therefore "traditional." However, when comparing them to the societies of today, he often doesn't take into consideration major game-changers like religion or literature that have shaped every 'modern' civilization on Earth.
I was very disappointed and could not finish this book. I cannot recommend it, unless of course you are an academic; in that case, you've probably already read it and loved it.
This book was provided free of charge for review by NetGalley.
View all my reviews
Sunday, January 13, 2013
These history books were all gifts from family and friends for Christmas this past year. All of them were on our Amazon.com gift list, which I love to use for gift-giving (and gift-getting!).
One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement - Edited by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler
The Scotch Irish: A Social History by James G. Leyburn
Across the Wide Missouri by Bernard DeVoto
The Year of Decision: 1846 by Bernard DeVoto
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry
Today I attended a great book group with which I hope to continue. San Antonio Book Lovers Meetup* held their monthly Book Swap & Gab Session at La Madeleine, and my friend Margaret Ann went with me to see what it was like.
We were met by the Meetup organizer, newly-appointed Bill, who did a great job as head honcho. Bill showed us the name tags ("Hello, My Name Is…") and the entries for the door prizes (Yay!), and took the roll as we arrived. When the meeting started, he introduced himself and told us newbies about the group. He introduced Assistant Organizer Jane, who laid down the guidelines of the gatherings, all quite informal but definitely rewarding. This group has experience and it showed.
Each person brought at least one and mostly several books to discuss and share. We all rose and introduced ourselves and the books, gave a synopsis of the volumes and told whether we liked it or not. Some explanations were longer than others, of course, but all were interesting. It was an extremely varied group: from non-fiction to steampunk, each presenter gave a short description and opinion.
Often, by the time a presenter was done discussing the book, another group member would raise a hand and ask to try the book. It was a wonderful way to swap, and although I brought two books with me, I came home with three. What a deal!
Some of the titles discussed today:
How Music Works by David Byrne
In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson
The Ten Laws of Wealth & Abundance by Ron Willingham
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders
Reunion at Red Paint Bay by George Harrar
The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Inquisition by Alfredo Colitto
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
Phoenix Rising by Pep Ballantine and Tee Morris
I'm looking forward to the next meeting in February. Thank you to the group for making me and Margaret Ann so welcome today, and thanks to Margaret Ann for accompanying me. (She won a door prize!)
*If you're not familiar with Meetup, it's a wonderful way to find others near you who are interested in the same things, and to meet them in person at group get-togethers, or "meetups". There is literally something for everyone at Meetup, from vocations to hobbies to fitness to culture and everything in between. You search by interest to find Meetups nearby. You're then able to see a list of other members and connect online. If you don't find one -- create one yourself!
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Labels: Art I Love
Conqueror by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is part of a series (5 of 5 so far) that describes what happened to the Mongols of central Asia during and after Genghis Khan's rule. I hadn't read the previous books, and I'm sure that made a big difference in how much I enjoyed this one. However, Conn Iggulden's writing style is wonderful; he's a master storyteller. That being said, this is fiction, not history. The characters may be based upon historical figures, but their actions and personalities are, apparently, entirely the author's own. He's taken a lot of liberty with history, and if that doesn't matter to you, then you will surely enjoy the action and intrigue in this novel. I didn't like the quick changes of POV between chapters, especially, but the story was fascinating.
View all my reviews
Spring House (Westward Sagas, Book 1) by David Bowles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Based on historical facts and real people, this well-written, fictional account of the Mitchell family during the American Revolutionary War is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Through good times and bad, they stick together, and along with their neighbors, fight for independence. Lots of interesting history about early settlers in North Carolina and the important battle of Guilford Courthouse.
View all my reviews