Monthly Archives: September 2015

Where do you buy books?

Lulu-louise-brooks-33449342-300-222

So, I need some advice, guys.

I’m in the midst of a budget freeze. No purchases but gas and groceries until the middle of October. (Really, I should push it until the middle of November, but I haven’t bought anything outside of necessities for two whole months already and I’m kind of dying inside a little bit.) Because I’m going a little bit crazy with this, and because so many things are coming out in October, I’m already compiling a list of books to buy. (Which of course defies the point of my austerity budget…because I will spend too much money and then be stuck in the cycle all over again. C’est la vie.)

The main problem being: where the heck do I buy them?

I live in a one-bookstore town. Usually this is not a problem because I work in the damn library, but still. It’s a big-box store that sells more toys than books, and never, ever has the titles I’m actually looking for. Now I can go in there and come out with a full bag and a broken credit card, but they never end up being the purchases I planned on. (It’s not like I’m looking for a bunch of indie titles. They don’t even carry The Fifth Season. Their SFF section is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.)

And I’m increasingly anti-Amazon. I have used it in the past, and I probably will have to do so in the future for products you can’t find elsewhere, but it always makes me feel icky. There’s no specific reason, really. I’m just not a big fan of huge, world-dominating corporations. I don’t believe in Amazon, I don’t believe in Google, I don’t believe in Apple. I understand the necessity of using those things to get around in the world, but I don’t have to like it.

But when it comes to other avenues for online book shopping, I’m at a loss. I’ve used Barnes & Noble’s online shopping, and wasn’t really happy with it. I’ve heard a lot about The Book Depository, but I’m a bit confused by them, honestly. I’ve also heard about Powell’s. I’ve considered doing online ordering from the closest indie to me–Quail Ridge Books & Music–but it seems fairly expensive and, again, that they don’t always have the inventory that I want. Since I’ve never used these places and I only know of them through hearsay, I’m a bit iffy about all of them.

So I turn to you, denizens of the bookternet. Where is your favorite non-Amazon place to buy books online? Who has reasonable prices and reasonable ship times? I’m guessing that there are plenty out there that I haven’t even heard of. Help me out!

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Book Talk

Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

24388326Title: The Heart Goes Last

Author: Margaret Atwood

Rating: 2.5 stars

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

When I saw a new Margaret Atwood book up on Netgalley, I pounced on it. I haven’t read all of Atwood’s work, but what I have read I love, and I was really excited to get to read this. Unfortunately, to me The Heart Goes Last ended up feeling kind of flimsy and flat, especially in comparison with Atwood’s other great works.

In a dystopian near-future, young married couple Stan and Charmaine find themselves living in their car, out of work, evading gangs of rapists and thieves. They sign up for the Consilience project, which initially seems to answer all of their problems. In exchange for spending every other month in a prison, they are given a house and jobs in a sort of gated community (Modeled on the 50s where everything was pure and innocent, naturally). Of course this all goes south relatively quickly, and their marriage vows are put to the test in the process.

The best aspect of this short novel was it’s dark humor. It was a little bit on the nauseating side for me (it includes such oddities as people having sex with chickens and teddy bears), but it was funny. The voices of the story were well realized. The problem was that I didn’t like any of the characters. Sometimes that’s ok–an advantage, even–but here I feel like you really need to connect with the characters or else the whole thing feels like a pointless farce.

Charmaine is a scatter-brained idiot. A funny one, but after a while it got tiring laughing at her. Stan is a gross asshole. These are your “heroes”, and everyone else is either flat as cardboard or exaggerated to unreal proportions.

I also didn’t enjoy the dystopian element much. It felt needlessly convoluted and complex. It got to a point where it felt like Atwood was moving characters around just for the sake of it. The plot did not serve the characters, the characters were not changed meaningfully by the plot.

Perhaps if I was married I would approach this book differently. Perhaps it says profound or witty things about the institution of marriage. I suspect not, but I’m willing to concede the possibility.

3 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR.

184618231. N K Jemisin- The Fifth Season

I feel like I have been waiting on this book forever. When I’m allowed to buy books again in November (I’m gonna make it through the budget freeze. I am. I AM.), this is the first one I’m going to get.

2.Marrisa Meyer- Winter

Finally, finally, finally, finally! In all truth, I probably won’t be able to crack into this until 2016, but I’m glad it’s finally (almost) published.

3. Rainbow Rowell- Carry On

I’ve already got a bad case of the squees. It’s so pretty. I just love it already. Plus:

8484206

(it’s Rainbow Rowell. Of course it is.)

4. Naomi Novik- Uprooted

Everyone is talking about it. I’m jumping on the bandwagon. (if I can find a copy.)

5. Wilkie Collins- The Moonstone

This massive monster is my Halloween book this year. I hope it’s spooky!

6. Haruki Murakami- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

I haven’t read Murakami in so long I’m a little bit worried, tbh. I picked this one up because it’s small and I think I’ll like it. Hope that’s the case.

7. Jo Nesbo- Police

So. Almost. Done.

8. The Apex Book of World SF

I recently bought a bundle including all three volumes of these anthologies. Gonna try to start with the first and see how it goes!

9. Jhumpa Lahiri- The Lowland

I’ve been putting off this book and I’m not sure why. But I’m going to power through it, I promise.

10.Ann Leckie- Ancillary Mercy

I really hope I don’t put off book 3 as long as I put off book 2!

 

What are your plans for Fall?

10 Comments

Filed under Book Talk

Top Ten Tuesday: Picture Books

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a FREEBIE — your choice!

I process all of the children’s and YA books at my library. With so many books coming across my desk, I get a chance to look through all the beautiful picture books and fall in love with them. Most of my friends have kids in the infant/toddler stage…so I am getting pretty familiar with building libraries for pre-reading kiddies.

So this week, here are some of my favorite picture books! Many of them are books that have come across my desk very recently, but some are books that I loved way back when I was a kid, too.

16250904

1. Bob Shea- Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great

Sparkly Unicorn + Grumpy Goat = Magic. I really like Shea’s illustration style, and this book is all sparkles and color and cuteness overload.

15953630

2. Yuyi Morales- Nino Wrestles the World

Lucha libre! This feisty luchadore can defeat any threat, except his nemeses, Las Hermanitas!

23602669

3. Susan Eaddy- Poppy’s Best Paper

When Poppy grows up she wants to be a famous writer. So how come her best friend is the one who’s papers are being read aloud in class? This book (with freaking adorable illustrations) is a really great exploration of jealousy, procrastination, and other not-great behavior, and even though I’m thirty I kindasorta identified with it?

13337050

4. Adam Rubin- Dragons Love Tacos

Everyone loves dragons. Everyone loves tacos. But make sure you don’t give your dragons spicy salsa, okay?

 

24795870

5. Joe McGee- Peanut Butter and Brains

zomg, adorable zombies. This is about a little zombie who dares to be different, and dreams of one day tasting that culinary delight, PB&J. It is so. Stinkin. Cute.

189182

6. Marjorie Flack- The Story About Ping

A bunch of oversensitive grumps on Goodreads are whining about Ping promoting spanking. Please. It’s a cute book about a cute little duck and a boat with a face. I loved this when I was little, and I still do.

317862

7. Verna Aardema- Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

I have always loved this book for the colorful illustrations of African animals.

2266474

8. Polly Cameron- “I Can’t,” Said the Ant

The line illustrations are simple and very retro. I’m having trouble finding this book still in print. It was absolutely my favorite book ever when I was small and I wish I could find it to share with new generations.

17290220

9. Andrea Beaty- Rosie Revere, Engineer

This is a book about experiencing failure but not quitting. Full of clever rhymes and whimsical inventions.

 

17841538

10. The BabyLit board books

These board books are introductions to classic literature for pre-literate children. They range from counting primers to Spanish language primers, and they are completely adorable. BabyLit will probably bankrupt me, honestly, because I buy them for everyone. (For what it’s worth, among the toddler set in my circles, it seems that Jabberwocky is the hands-down favorite.)

6 Comments

Filed under Book Talk

Review: The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner

13087024Title: The Grammar of God: A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible

Author: Aviya Kushner

Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. 

The Grammar of God is an unexpected little book, a look at the language of the Bible through a lens I’m not used to considering: translation. It was surprising and beautiful, though weighted more towards memoir and philosophy than instruction or theory.

Author Aviya Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking household, and as an adult studying the Old Testament in English, she realized that essential tenets of her faith were challenged or changed by the act of translation. Everything from gendered language to word tenses affected the meaning, taking a book she was intimately familiar with to new places.

The book is broken up into short segments, addressing everything from Sarah’s laughter to what, really, makes up the ten commandments. (It was really interesting for me to learn that Kushner and, apparently, many Jewish rabbis and scholars, approach the commandments as something more fluid and changeable than Christian fundamentalists who want to set them in stone on courthouse lawns.)

The writing is very spare and poetic; very reminiscent, in fact, of Kushner’s oft-mentioned mentor, Marilynne Robinson. I was a bit worried going in that the book would be very dense and academic, more suited for serious Biblical scholars than a lay reader. But I found it very accessible, a memoir told through religious text rather than a deep, line-by-line reading of the Old Testament. It brought up a lot of interesting subjects I’d never really thought about before.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Top Ten Tuesday: Stuck on the Series

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Ten Finished Series I Have YET to Finish.

I’m…not sure if all of these are finished, honestly. There are too many series out there for me to keep up with closely. But here are some that have entries I haven’t read, which I’m trying to get through.

188738231. Mary Robinette Kowal- The Glamourist Histories (the unfinished book being Of Noble Family)

I truly love this series, but the fifth installment is just so long that I haven’t been able to make the time for it yet.

2. Terry Pratchett- Discworld (various)

I don’t like to think of Discworld being done. 😦 But in any case, I still need to get through a few Tiffany Aching books and a few of the other books published in the last decade.

3.  Jo Nesbo- The Harry Hole series (Phantom, Police)

I have no clue if the Harry Hole series is finished or not. It sometimes annoys me how each book pretty much plays to the same beats, and with each book I reach a point where I say I’m going to stop reading. But I still find them so catchy. And I only have two more books to catch up!

4. Robin LaFevers- His Fair Assassin (Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart)

This is the umpteenth list I’ve had these books on. I need to get on it already.

5. Ann Leckie- Imperial Radch (Ancillary Sword, the forthcoming Ancillary Mercy)

I’m currently telling myself that I’m waiting for Ancillary Mercy to come out to inspire me to finish Ancillary Sword. We’ll see how much water that holds soon.

6. Tessa Dare- Spindle Cove

I’m pretty sure this series is finished, since she’s working on the Castles series now. I still have two of the four novels to go, and the novellas/short works (I think there’s two?). I really just started this series, but I adored A Week to be Wicked so much yet at the same time was kind of underwhelmed by its sequelbait, so I think I’ll be putting it on hold for a while.

7. Jim C. Hines- Magic Ex Libris

This series definitely isn’t done, but I only just finished book 2. Got to track down book 3 before book 4

8. Mira Grant (Senan McGuire)- Parisitology

Don’t think this one is finished, but I’m only a few hundred pages into the first book, so I’m behind anyway.

8. Marie Brennan- Memoirs of Lady Trent

I’m pretty sure there’s at least one more entry in this series coming, but seeing as I’ve only read book 1, I’m still playing catch up.

And, rounding it out with two finished (I think) series that I’ve been meaning to start but haven’t yet for one reason or another:

9. Deborah Harkness- All Souls Trilogy

Perhaps since there are witches and such this will be one of my Halloween reads this year

10. Megan Shepard- The Madman’s Daughter

Sitting on my ereader as we speak.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

August Round Up

037

Reading

I finished ten books in August. Though two were absolutely massive and felt like three books apiece. Seriously. I don’t keep track of wordcounts, but damn, my eyes are crossed from so much reading.

Reading Diversity

Four of the books were men–but two of them were by the same man, so I don’t know what to count that as. One book was in translation, two were nonfiction, and four featured QUILTBAG characters. One book was for my TBR challenge, which I’m steaming along on.

Writing

I submitted three stories this month, with one rejection so far. Having a bit of trouble finishing anything except odd flash pieces. I’ve been having a lot of trouble concentrating so I flit between projects and all of them suffer for it. I’m working on it. But it seems like this is something I’ve worked on without success for years.

No TV or movies or music. Not that my month has been without those things, but it’s the tail-end of summer and nothing has been particularly notable on those fronts. Unless you guys particularly want to hear my thoughts on the really, spectacularly dumb Pegasus episodes of Sailor Moon? (I don’t think I’d ever seen this particular series when I was a kid, and I’m kind of glad, because I’m watching it on Hulu now and it is so terrible. Not that the other series of Sailor Moon are particularly quality examples of sensible storytelling.)

 

These posts are kind of boring checkpoints, aren’t they? Don’t know if I’ll continue with them in 2016.

Leave a comment

Filed under Round Up

Top Ten Tuesday: It’s Not Me, It’s You

 

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With.

JAMMF01-620x320

1. Jamie Fraser- Outlander

Oh Jamie Fraser, I expected more from you.

I wanted to like him. Look, I am shallow. I fully embrace my shallowness. So yes, hot Scot? Bring it.

But the book version of Jamie was really kind of disturbing to me. Who is this wife-beater and what happened to the charming, romantic hero?

2. Corin and Tam- Moth & Spark

I wanted to like this book, but I couldn’t even make it halfway through. These characters were as boring as a blank page, and I’m pretty sure the hadn’t even met by the time I stopped reading but would still have had zero chemistry.

3. Calliope Reaper-Jones- Death’s Daughter

This is less a character I “didn’t click with” and more a character who would “incite me to homicide,” but nonetheless. This incarnation of, well…Death’s daughter, was one of the most actively vile narrative voices I have had the displeasure of reading.

4. Adelice- Crewel

A character who is so perfectly, naturally talented that she has to “pretend” to be a clumsy loser to save her family in a totally contrived dystopian world. And of course two boys are in love with her. And of course she’s the only person who can stop…well, whatever the conspiracy was. Yet I couldn’t tell you a single one of her “memorable” traits.

5. Yelena- Poison Study

Another perfectly amazing and talented YA heroine who is blander than paste and doesn’t ever seem to do anything to live up to her reputation.

6. Alina Starkov- Shadow and Bone

Oh, and Alina makes three. Some YA heroines are just really boring to me, I guess.

7. Harry Dresden- Storm Front/Fool Moon

I gave Harry Dresden two tries, but he just didn’t appeal to me. I gave the books decent reviews at the time, but I didn’t keep up with them and it’s probably because I didn’t feel much of anything for the main character.

8. Nina Borg- The Boy in the Suitcase

Looking for a new crime/thriller series, I came across Lene Kaaberbol’s Nina Borg. There was nothing bad about this book, really, but I just never connected with the character and didn’t stick with her.

9. Gale Hawthorne- The Hunger Games

Perhaps I am rewriting my reading history with my experience of the movies. Liam Hemsworth’s Gale is just so…boring. But really, what purpose does Gale serve in these books outside of the love triangle? I’m sure I’d be Team Peeta with or without him.

10. Dana- Kindred

Everyone loves Kindred, but I was disappointed by it. So much so that I’ve never read anything else by Butler. I thought the writing was weak and I did not like or empathize with the main character at all.

Boy, this is kind of a downer of a post, huh?

12 Comments

Filed under Book Talk