Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Discussion: Choosy About Book Events

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The fall is a big season for book and author events. We've spent the summer getting worked up for all the new titles, and now we're ready to storm the bookstores, buy the pretty hardcovers and interrogate their creators.

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I wrote a while back about my travel limits and what I consider "close" or "local" book events, but this month, there are a lot of options- that is, a lot more than we usually get out this way (a.k.a. none). Which presents a dilemma I've never faced before: picking and choosing which events to attend. As a Writing major, I want to see every event so I can pick the authors' brains. As a blogger, I want to hit every event so I can gather pictures and quotes for all you awesome readers. As a twenty-something legal assistant with limited time and resources, attending every event is not possible.

Essentially, it comes down to logistics and prioritizing accordingly. None of these events are just around the corner and all will require spending money (on gas and books). So, while I don't usually do this because I hate getting everyone excited about things that may not happen, I'm going to give a quick rundown of the book events I'm thinking about this month. I know I won't make it to all of them, but I'd like to know if any of them sound especially interesting to you guys. (Or if anyone would like a signed copy of something mailed to him/her... >.>)

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Fan Art Up! - Helga Sinclair

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #15 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
She's blond.
She doesn't take any nonsense.
She's an expert marksman.

That's right! From Disney's 2001 steampunk underwater adventure, "Atlantis," she's....

Helga Sinclair

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A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz (2 stars)

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Despite the romantic setup in the synopsis and the paranormal elements, I had medium-high hopes for  A Conspiracy of Alchemists. Had I not been in the particular weird reading mood I was in, I probably would have quick after Chapter 1. But I finished it, so review time! :)


A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
Series: The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Paranormal Romance
Published on March 5, 2013
Published by Del Rey
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
LEAVE IT TO CHANCE.

Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.

Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.

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Updates: Busy and Behind Schedule

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This week flew by! I got sucked in by Netflix, picked up my finished clay things, helped my cousin with her fixer upper house, saw "The Giver," and caught the very beginning of the new Dr. Who season. The cousin and her brother-in-law already tore out the pegboard walls (yep, pegboard) and stapled ceiling tiles, so we packed everything up in contractor bags and hauled the larger pieces out to the curb. Then we spent an hour pulling the bazillion staples out of the ceiling joists so she can install drywall. Handiness!

And the results of my war with the pottery wheel, take 2:


They didn't trim up the bottoms neatly like last time, but I really like the glaze, and the one might be big enough for candy!

I also updated my Reviews page- which is now one page instead of three and should open on iPads and iPhones- and added a Recent Reviews widget! Feel free to check them out and let me know what you think of the new look. In other book news...

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Top 10 Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

I used to never buy a book unless I'd read it, loved it and planned to read it over and over again. I was a kid with a small budget; it made sense. Now...I have a slightly larger budget and have discovered evils like used bookstores, Better World Books and Amazon. The result: I buy a lot of stuff before reading it because it's so cheap (and my library doesn't have it).

Which makes today's list a little harder because I have bought a lot of the books I want to read. Still, I managed to come up with a few, and I stuck to already published books (with one exception), because goodness knows I could fill a train with all the future titles I want to read/buy.

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Discussion: Indie/Self-Published Reads

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I'm a book snob. :( And for once, I'm not talking about my aversion to Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. In general, I avoid indie/self-published books. There are lots of stereotypes surrounding them, including poor writing and copious amounts of typos; and yeah, these stereotypes come from somewhere and a lot of self-published books have these issues.

But I've found that, maybe because my expectations are low and/or I'm not reading them with reviews in mind, self-published ebooks have been nice easy, zero-pressure reads for me over the past month. I pick up free ebook novels and short stories for my Nook here and there. Some of them have been gems. I mentioned Sora's Quest, which was really enjoyable, a couple weeks back. I just finished a short story collection (Through a Tangled Wood) with a fairy tale feel that was a mix of really good, really bad and mediocre writing.

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Fan Art Up! - Tarzan

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #14 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
He rarely wears a shirt.
English isn't his first language.
His best friends are animals.

That's right! From Disney's 1999 classic adaptation, "Tarzan," he's....

Tarzan

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Winterspell by Claire Legrand eARC (1 star)

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I should have known to stay away the second I thought the girl on the cover resembled Kristen Stewart. Claire Legrand's Winterspell is essentially Twilight meets True Blood with a hint of Frozen and Narnia. Honestly, if I knew the book was going to head in the direction it did, I would not have requested it.

Fair warning: there are spoilers below. I usually try to avoid spoilers, but I can't talk about why the story failed for me without them. And I imagine there are others who, like me, did not guess at where this story was going from the synopsis and would like to know before reading.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Winterspell by Claire Legrand
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
Published on September 30, 2014
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 1 star

Synopsis:
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

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Updates: Heading South for the Food

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I don't really do vacations. Which is why having two last year was so strange; I drove down to the Rockies (which were beautiful) with my mom for her family's big get-together and then to Florida with my friend's family for a week at Disney where I went to Epcot for the first time and tried the Food & Wine Festival.

I haven't missed a single day of work so far this year, but that's about to change. I've bought my tickets and will be off to Florida to see my sister in October! My trip may or may not have something to do with visiting this year's Food & Wine Festival. >.>

Also, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy! And it was really fun! There were lots of great lines and a couple of scenes that had me cracking up. Dance off, anyone? ;)

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Top 10 Recommendations

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

We're readers. We get excited about books. And when we really love a story, we tell everyone to go read it NOW. And then, if you're like me, you get to it a year later. ^^;; Anyway, here are the Top 10 Books people have been telling me I MUST read.

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Dinotopia: First Flight by James Gurney eARC (2 stars)

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While not as well known as the iconic Dinotopia and The World Beneath, Gurney's First Flight is nonetheless another visual delight. This new 20th Anniversary Edition is a somewhat long picture book you can read with kids or on your own. There is a ton of text, so it may not be early reader material. I don't usually do picture book reviews here, but I'm a big fan of Dinotopia from way back. I collect the chapter book spin-offs, I remember the "special" ABC mini-series and the horrific and short-lived series attempt that followed.

This eARC was provided through NetGalley for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Dinotopia: First Flight by James Gurney
Series: Dinotopia
Genres: Children, Fantasy
Published on May 21, 2014
Published by Calla Editions
Final Rating: 2 stars


Synopsis (from 2000 printing):
In Dinotopia: First Flight, the third book in the best-selling Dinotopia series, we travel back to Dinotopia's ancient past, where the empire of Poseidos is about to use its robot technology to exterminate the peaceful dinosaurs of Dinotopia. Only Gideon Altaire, an orphan, can stop this evil plan--but first he must get out of Poseidos and win the trust of the dinosaurs.

This action-packed addition to the Dinotopia series tells of a time in Dinotopia's past where humans and dinosaurs fought side by side to save their world from extinction. As an added bonus, the front cover opens up into a beautifully illustrated board game! Complete with game cards in the back, this book and board game offer hours of family entertainment.

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Discussion: What Goes in Synopses

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I just finished Winterspell by Claire Legrand (check out my review on Thursday), and it has me thinking about what goes in book cover/jacket/flap copy- namely, the synopses. I hadn't really considered it before, but I expect certain information about a book to be present in or readily inferred from the synopsis.

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Halfway through Winterspell, I was really disappointed and frustrated with where the story was going. I felt like an idiot. I was sure something in the synopsis hinted at these developments and I'd missed them. I opened Goodreads and pulled up the book's page. I read the synopsis. I read it again. There was one word. One word that, had I approached it with the right perspective, might have told me what was coming. I still kind of felt like an idiot, but I was also mildly ticked at the publisher.

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Fan Art Up! - Mulan

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #13 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
Reflection.
Dishonor.
Not a man.

That's right! From Disney's 1998 answer to our request for a girl who kicked butt, "Mulan," she's....

Mulan

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Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey (2 stars)

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Some friends recommended Dragonswood to me ages ago. I finally got around to it and, despite finishing in two sittings, we didn't get on well.  The general idea of a magical creature reserve on an island kingdom is interesting enough. Unfortunately, the story around it fell flat. My notes contained maybe one positive, so we're doing a quick mini-review to limit my ranting. :)


Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey
Series: Wilde Island Chronicles #2
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on January 5, 2012
Published by Dial
Final Rating: 2 stars


Synopsis:
On Wilde Island, there is no peace between dragons, fairies, and humans.

Wilde Island is in an uproar over the recent death of its king. As the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans begins to fray, the royal witch hunter with a hidden agenda begins a vengeful quest to burn girls suspected of witchcraft before a new king is crowned.

Strong-willed Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet, wants more for herself than a husband and a house to keep. But in times like these wanting more can be dangerous. Accused of witchery, Tess and her two friends are forced to flee the violent witch hunter. As their pursuer draws ever closer they find shelter with a huntsman in the outskirts of the forbidden Dragonswood sanctuary. But staying with the mysterious huntsman poses risks of its own: Tess does not know how to handle the attraction she feels for him—or resist the elusive call that draws her deeper onto the heart of Dragonswood.

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Updates: Family & Book Buying

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My sister was visiting from Florida last week, so I was busy, busy, busy. We did the beach/boardwalk, which means caramel popcorn; the county fair, where I realized I haven't been around large livestock in quite some time >.>; a day out watching my dad play tennis at a beautiful country club (with a BOWLING GREEN!) that donates court time to the old guys tournament; and we watched "Noah." It was a disaster movie. Pun intended. ;)


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Top 10 Books I'm Not Sure I Want to Read

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

We've talked about my book buying addiction before, right? Right. So rather than go through the endless list of books in the universe I'm not sure I want to read, I inspected my shelves as best I could without causing an avalanche. And found at least two doubles. (I really do need to organize them and put together a list for when I go book shopping.)

The hard part is, I either buy books because I want to read them or because they're contributing to my children's library. Ignoring that second part, I always buy books with the intention to read them. Which makes me somewhat stubborn about admitting I might have brought a bad one home. But here they are anyway. To read or not to read? That is the question. Perhaps you all can help me decide? :)

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Discussion: Online Book Communities

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What do you look for in an online book community? What are the most important features to you? A lot of online book communities double as social media sites with private messages, forums and commenting features, but at their heart, supposedly, they're all about books.

LitRate - Coming Soon - A community for book loversI recently saw posts about a Kickstarter campaign for "LitRate," a new book site by the awesome Ashley of Nose Graze. What is it? According to the site:
LitRate is our dream for a new website for the literary community. It will essentially be our version of Goodreads—but better. We've seen all your ideas, all your complaints, and all your dreams of new features. We're here and ready to implement them in a new site that we can build together!
To be honest, a new and better Goodreads, without all the drama and negative connotations that have arisen in recent months, sounds wonderful. On the other hand, this got me thinking about all the different online book communities with which I have accounts, and how many of them do or don't get used.

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Fan Art Up! - Megara

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #12 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
She has "weak ankles."
She's already won the prize for rotten judgment.
Possibly the most sarcastic and/or cynical Disney female.

That's right! From Disney's 1997 myth extravaganza, "Hercules," she's....

Megara

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Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr eARC (2 stars)

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NetGalley offered old eARC's of Loki's Wolves this spring to drum up press for Book 2. I'm trying to read more Middle Grade, so I picked it up. Many moons later, I finally read it, and I'm sad to say, I'm not impressed. I expect it's trying to be the next Percy Jackson with its Norse mythology base, and there are probably kids who will enjoy it; but it failed to appeal to me as both an adult and a kid-at-heart.

This eARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong, M.A. Marr
Series:  The Blackwell Pages#1
Genres: MG, Fantasy, Myth/Legend
Published on May 7, 2013
Published by Little Brown Kids
Final Rating: 2 stars


Synopsis:
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters - wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds - all bent on destroying the world. But the gods died a long time ago. Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history - because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. But knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids - led by Matt - must stand in for the gods in the final battle, Matt can hardly believe it. Matt's, Laurie's, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to stop the end of the world.

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Updates: Shakespeare & Silliness

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Anyone been to a Shakespeare in the park production? It's like a picnic and a play. It is a picnic and a play. :) But with lots of other people. And bugs. (Always pack bug spray.) Anyway, I got an invite Saturday night to join some friends for a local production of Richard IV. They smushed Parts I and II into one performance, and it was really fun! The actors were good, the dialogue is great, the army was 100 locals strong and, aside from this one weird slow-mo, interpretive dance fight, I enjoyed it. There was much laughter and smiling. Oh, and a cute dog that sat on my foot and let us pet it before the show began, after which it spent the rest of the night napping beneath the chairs next to us.


Moving along to book news, major thank you's to Marion and all the folks over at FanLit for my lovely giveaway prize! I still have to read Ironskin, but, thanks to a certain deal with Anya, it has been bumped up the TBR list. I read a book she loves; she reads one I love. Yay, motivation!

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Top 10 Books I'd Give to Readers Who Have Never Read Classics

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This list is as much for me as others. I'm still determined to read more classics...just not right this second. ;) Actually, I'm in a weird reading mood right now where only the super silly seems to stick, even though I don't necessarily like the book. But moving on, here are 10 classics I'd give to readers who have never tried classics. Duh duh DUH! They can be a tad intimidating if you're only looking at the Tolstoys and Don Quixotes and such. So, here's a mix of titles I've read and titles I imagine won't strain the brain too much.

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Discussion: Which Bookshelf?

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I have a small dilemma. My book collection is once again outgrowing my shelves. See exhibits below:


Of course, I could double and triple stack everything on my existing shelves...but then I can't look at the pretty spines. :)

So, the dilemma: how to go about procuring a new bookshelf.

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Fan Art Up! - Esmeralda

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #11 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
She has a kid.
She's an outcast.
She's accused of sorcery; seeks refuge within a large, beautiful edifice; is sentenced to death; escapes; and is pursued with a sword. (And no, it's not Elsa.)

That's right! From Disney's 1996 musical gem, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," she's....

Esmeralda

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