Free Books…So Hard To Resist! Damn You, Amazon!

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m not a fan of the e-book. The ‘K’ word makes me shudder. I like books. No wait, I LOVE books, physical books that you can touch and smell and crease the spines of. Real books that can sit on my real shelves not something digital and disposable like everything else is becoming.

I don’t really want to get into the debate of e-books wiping out print because everything that needs to be said on the matter has been. There are definitely some pros to e-publishing I’m not debating that, but nothing can beat holding and loving a real book for me. I do however, get really jealous of all the free books you can get with a Kindle or any other e-reader.

I love buying books from shops, whether it’s just Waterstones or an independent bookshop and I wish I could keep them in business but I can’t. I can’t justify spending £13 on a book when I can buy it on Amazon for £7. I don’t have that kind of cash. Most of my books end up coming from Amazon, charity shops & the odd car boot sale and http://www.readitswapit.com and I still end up spending a fortune. The lure of free books is really hard to resist so despite being unwilling to own a Kindle I do have the Kindle app installed on my laptop. Does that make me a hypocrite?

I’m only rambling on about this because I saw an offer on my Twitter feed for a new version of Tristan and Iseult which I’d be interested to read. The paperback is £6.99 and the Kindle version is of course free. DILEMMA.

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I have a copy of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s version which is old (1971) and battered and I love it…it will undoubtedly be on one of my upcoming Favourites Friday posts so I won’t gush about it too much yet. I’ve given in and ‘purchsed’ a Kindle copy, if you can purchase something that is free but now I feel a bit guilty.

Still, interested to see how they match up. You can ‘buy’ yours here.

Favourites Friday #4: To Major Tom – The Bowie Letters

So I went AWOL for a week, sorry about that. I’ve had some evil strand of the common cold, or Man Flu as I like to call it and it really knocked me for six. (Six what??) It also didn’t help that my Mum was visiting and we had loads of stuff planned so I had to man up and get on with it which probably hasn’t helped with the recovery process. But I did manage to have fun despite the feeling of impending death so all was not lost.

I’m just starting to feel a bit more human now. Today was the first day I’ve had chance to pick up a book since last week too…I am officially the worst book blogger ever. Oh well.

That being said, on Sunday, my lovely, crazy Mumsy and I went to the V&A to see the David Bowie exhibition David Bowie is and it was amazing. It also reminded me of one of my favourite books.

Photo & Synopsis from Goodreads. Click to view.

Photo & Synopsis from Goodreads. Click to view.

A meditation on the relationship between pop star and pop fan, this intriguing and thoroughly entertaining epistolary novel tracks a 30-year, one-way correspondence from devoted music fan Gary to rock icon David Bowie. Beginning as an angst ridden teenager, Gary writes letters to Bowie, sharing his thoughts on everything from Ziggy Stardust and Glass Spiders to his boarding school days and adult life as a husband and father.

I like to think that this book would appeal to anyone, not just Bowie fans. I love how we enter into the world of Gary Weightman – a normal boy who is sent away to boarding school – through his letters to Bowie. He tells Bowie and, therefore us all of his secrets, his worries and his feelings on life and growing up. It’s a great coming of age story which reminds you just how passionate and intense only teenagers can be. And on the other hand it gives someone like me who wasn’t born around the time of Ziggy Stardust a first-hand account of the world’s reaction to David Bowie and the whole glam movement.

The book chronicles all the way through to the release of the film Velvet Goldmine in 1999 (one of my favourite films) in which Gary writes an angry letter to Bowie chastising him for objecting to the film and not allowing his songs to be used. I felt exactly the same way.

To Major Tom is a book of nostalgia and a profound reflection on life in general. Gary himself sums it up pretty well in his introduction:


I could not believe how much of my modern mental furniture was installed by my devotion – musical, cultural and otherwise – nor how hard in recent years it’s become to keep that furniture polished and dusted. Times change, people change, dreams explode and worlds collide. And, if you think it’s foolish to spend your life living in the past, imagine what it’s like to live in somebody else’s. Sometimes I wish Ziggy had played the flugelhorn instead.
[2002]

Upcoming Release & Book Giveaway Klaxon!

17745703I just stumbled across this STUNNING cover over at http://aliceinreaderland.com and I can’t stop looking at it. It also sounds like everything I would want in a book…Scotland, Enchanted rings, a mysterious boy…can not wait.

Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for…or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

DOON is loosely based on the premise of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the ALan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation. Follow the journey at http://www.DoonSeries.com

~Destiny awaits!(less)

Expected Release date is Aug 20th. Image and synopsis from Goodreads where you can also enter the giveaway!

It’s WWW Wednesday (But feels like Monday!)

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Just a quick one today as I’m ill and really behind on work and other boring life stuff! Get the violins out!

Currently Reading: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I kind of stopped reading this as I wanted to take something light (in both mind and actual weight) with me when I was travelling this weekend. I didn’t really get into the first 100 pages and have no idea what was going on, but I’ll give it another go.

Recently Read:

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

This is what I ended up taking home with me. It was good! Review to follow.

Next Up: Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Child
I’ve been saying this for like 3 weeks now, but I really WILL read it next. Promise.

Favourites Friday #3: Why I love James Frey, controversy be damned!

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Click to view on Goodreads.

I love James Frey. I love what he says and how he says it. There, I said it.

I thought I’d go for something a bit different for this week’s FF. It’s definitely not YA, or Paranormal, or Fantasy! But here are some of the reasons why James Frey is one of my favourite authors.

At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing.
-A Million Little Pieces (Goodreads synopsis)

I didn’t know anything about A Million Little Pieces before I picked it up. I didn’t know it had been marketed as a memoir rather than fiction so I totally missed the whole hype and scandal because I never thought it was anything other than fiction; Fiction that I fell in love with instantly. There’s something about Frey’s streamofconsciousness style that I just can’t get enough of. It’s simple and fierce yet really beautiful in some way. The idea that someone who is beyond broken is doing everything he can to stay alive, and still manages to find beauty in the world and some kind of hope and faith is what really beguiled me. This book is also completely and utterly heartbreaking. You’ve been warned.

I felt exactly the same about follow-up My Friend Leonard too. ‘A heartrending story of a friendship between a newly-sober James and the charismatic, high-living mobster he met in rehab, Leonard. I haven’t reread it as many times as AMLP but it’s still up there in my favourites list.

Then, when Bright Shiny Morning came out I bought the huge hardback edition and was so excited to read it, but it was such a let down. Sad Panda. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even finish it, (I should really give it another go though) so I didn’t know what to expect when I heard his next book was titled The Final Testament of the Holy Bible.

As I was waiting for the book to be released everything went a bit crazy.

He’s been called a liar. A cheat. A con man. He’s been called a saviour. A revolutionary. A genius. He’s been sued by readers. Dropped by publishers because of his controversies. Berated by TV talk-show hosts and condemned by the media. He’s been exiled from America, and driven into hiding. He’s also a bestselling phenomenon.

I have no doubt that the above quote (which is used on Goodreads as the start of The Final Testament synopsis) was just another promotional tool to create this ‘character’ of James Frey. But for a few weeks everywhere I turned, Frey was being called the most hated writer in America, which just made me want to love the book even more. And I did.

What would you do if you discovered the Messiah were alive today? Living in New York. Sleeping with men. Impregnating young women. Euthanizing the dying, and healing the sick. Defying the government, and condemning the holy. What would you do if you met him? And he changed your life. Would you believe? Would you? This is The Final Testament of the Holy Bible.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why this book created such controversy. Having a protagonist who many perceive to be Jesus reborn who insists that he’s just a man and that religion does nothing but spurn hate and will be the ultimate undoing of the world will do that. He also sleeps with almost everyone he encounters, not forgetting the men…shock horror! But seriously, come on. James Frey is a writer. It’s fiction. If you don’t like the subject matter don’t read it, but leave the poor man alone.

The Final Testament has its flaws. It gets pretty ridiculous and it repeats itself a tad (love is all that matters, yadayadayada), but I felt the same way reading this as I did AMLP- It just spoke to me. I get what he’s trying to say and I like it.

‘I had spent my life worshipping death, fearing it, obsessing over it, and living my life according to what a book says will happen when it comes…I came to understand that it’s no way to live, and that living is all we have and all we will ever have, and that is not to be wasted. That love is life. That life isn’t worth living without love. And that the Catholic Church, filled with celibate men who have no experience with it, has no right telling other people how to love or who to love or what kind of love is right or wrong.’

True Dat.

WWW Wednesday!

It’s Hump Day again…it might not be Friday yet but at least it’s not Monday either. I’m especially longing for the weekend this week because I’m going home to see my family. There’s a folk festival on in a little village near my hometown on Saturday and we’re having a *do not jinx the weather* BBQ for father’s day on Sunday. IS IT FRIDAY YET?

Nope, guess I’ll have to waste some time with a WWW Wednesday then.

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Click to view on GoodReads.

Click to view on GoodReads.

Early days with this one yet so I’ll reserve judgement for now. So far I’ve enjoyed two things – The idea of Cinnamon Lemons (yum) and this description. ‘Calo had dark liquor-coloured skin and hair like an inky slice of night.’

Just Finished:
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. See my review here.

Up Next:
Either the Ruby Redfort book, ‘Take Your Last breath’ or this:

Click to view on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

I love the Skulduggery Pleasant series so I’m eager to read this Spin-off.

Leave a link to your post!

The Verdict: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York?Excerpt & Image from GoodReads7741325

I was a little, tiny bit disappointed about Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, I did, but it just didn’t live up to the standards of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Once again Rachel Cohn & David Levithan collaborated on this with Rachel writing Lily’s chapters and David writing Dash’s. I wonder if they’ve ever thought about doing it the other way round??

Dash’s is 100% Levithan – Cute, geeky and sensitive in a hot way, and pretty metrosexual. I haven’t read any other Rachel Cohn so I can only compare Lily to Norah…I was expecting a similar character- quirky, insecure and feisty- but she was just a bit of a let down. I’m glad she was different, don’t get me wrong, she’s not supposed to be Norah but I think the main reason I didn’t LOVE this book is because me and Lily just wouldn’t get on. She wears her school uniform in the Christmas Holidays (who does that?). She is just SO nice it’s sickening. She doesn’t even approve of swearing. I don’t think we could be friends. And I don’t think she’s a good match for Dash.

Lily does love Christmas though, as do I, so you’d think that would endear me to her. But no.

I love Christmas. I love everything about it: the lights, the cheer the big family gatherings, the cookies, the presents piled high around the tree. The goodwill to all. I know it’s technically goodwill to all men, but in my mind I drop the men because that seems segregationist/elitist/sexist generally bad ist. Goodwill shouldn’t be just for men. It should also apply to women and children, and all animals, even the yucky ones like subway rats. I’d even extend the goodwill not just to living creatures but to the dearly departed, and if we include them we might as well include the undead, those supposedly mythic beings like vampires, and if they’re in, then so are elves, fairies and gnomes.

She is so different to Norah that I couldn’t even picture her as Kat Dennings whom I’m a bit obsessed with so that was disappointing too. She just didn’t fit.

There are definitely flashes of brilliance though. One of the first things I didn’t like about the story is that Lily is basically a fraud. Dash has found the notebook and is traipsing all over New York during the holidays to fulfill these dares, and here he is thinking he’s met this quirky, clever, slightly insane, out-spoken girl (he’s clearly picturing Kat Dennings too) when really the whole thing was her brother’s idea and she’s just sort of going along with it. But then, I guess that’s what it’s like when when you’re just getting to know someone. You find out one thing about them and it defines who they are to you. If you ask me, first impressions are worthless.

I mean like most guys, you carry around this girl in your head, who is exactly how you want her to be. The person you think you will love the most. And every girl you are with gets measured against this girl in your head. So this girl with the red notebook- it makes sense. If you never meet her, she never has to get measured. She can be the girl in your head.

I think Dash would agree with me.

I wanted to write it down. I wanted to share it with Lily, even if Lily was really just the idea I’d created of Lily, the concept of Lily. . . I sat back and let my thoughts flow out. Not directed at her this time. Not directed at all. It would be just like water, or blood. It would go wherever it was meant to go.

Overall Dash & Lily is a really enjoyable read, just don’t expect it to be as poignant (I really hate that word but there’s no better in this case) or as beautiful as Nick & Norah.

I give Dash & Lily's Book of Dares 3 unicorns (out of 5 unicorns). It would be 3.5 unicorns but I can't cut a unicorn in half, that would be devastating.

This edition was published by Mira Ink, Oct 2012 and belongs to Dora. Thanks Dora 🙂

The Verdict: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Click to view on GoodReads.

Click to view on GoodReads.

There are just many things to be said about Bitterblue but let’s start with the basics. It’s the third book in the Graceling Realm Trilogy by Kristin Cashore and it looks beautiful.

In Graceling, we entered a world of seven kingdoms where some people are born graced with any number of unique skills or abilities and where we first meet Katsa, seemingly graced with the skill of killing and under the command of King Randa. Katsa becomes increasingly frustrated and depressed about being used in such a cruel way and when Prince Po comes along their journey together slowly reveals just how corrupt the seven kingdoms really are. In Fire, we’re transported to The Dells, a kingdom of ‘rainbow coloured monsters and underground labyrinths’ where Fire, the last human monster is both hated and obsessed over, constantly assaulted for being so irresistible and who refuses to use her mind control to steal people’s memories and secrets.

By the time we come to Bitterblue, it is several years after King Leck’s tyrannous and torturous reign in Graceling and we follow the young Queen Bitterblue as she attempts to rebuild her kingdom; a kingdom that is still deeply affected by her father’s spell over them. But how can you rebuild something that is based on lies and secrets and despicable acts? Especially when the people who were most under Leck’s spell are the ones closest to Bitterblue?

There are so many things I love about this book. I enjoyed Fire, but as soon I opened this it felt like I was coming back home. I was eager to meet up with Katsa and Po again and it didn’t disappoint despite the fact that they weave in and out of the narritive. I think Cashore could easy have ridden the wave of their romance and made that the main strand of this book but I think this portrays a much more realistic and exciting relationship. It’s certainly refreshing to see these characters living their own lives, putting the important things first and not just glaring at each other with puppy-dog eyes. They are definitely not the puppy-dog eyes types!

I love how this story slowly builds momentum. We find the clues as Bitterblue finds them -one by one- linking what really happened during Leck’s time to just how many secrets and lies are being maintained within the city walls. I found myself even more confused than Bitterblue as to who to trust and who to investigate. However, I did feel like there was a lull in the middle where the pace could have been picked up and I just wanted to grab Bitterblue and shake her yelling ‘haven’t you learnt by now you can’t trust anyone, get on with it!’

I enjoyed the mix of the old and new here too. Whenever I think of Kings, Queens and castles, whether it’s in this universe or a fictional one I think of times gone by, but Cashore’s world is full of modern themes making no fuss over boys and girls fighting each other, same-sex relationships, sex before marriage, birth control, or a Queen who wears trousers and slips out of the castle at night to smooch with a thief. And is it just me or is it completely devoid of religion? Hallelujah!

Cashore has created an in-depth world of strong, kick-ass girls, epic sword-fights, passion, and intriguing mystery. Essentially, Bitterblue and those before it are about the abuse of control and power, facing up to horrible truths and having the strength to overcome the impossible.

Bitterblue is published by Gollancz and I received a copy in exchange for a review as part of their Gollancz Geeks Blog.

Favourites Friday #2: Alice in Wonderland and why I have so many copies!

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Is it excessive to have four different versions of a book? Usually I’d say yes, but not where Alice in Wonderland concerned. As I’m sure is the same for a lot of people – Alice has been one of favourites practically from birth. I don’t actually remember my parents reading it to me but I’m sure they did. Along with The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice is a book I always come back to and I can’t ever remember a time of not having a copy close by.

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This is my bog-standard copy that I’ve had since Uni. I love it because it is battered and tatty and full of almost illegible notes from various essays I had to write.
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This was just a cheap copy I picked up in my teens which introduced me to some of Carroll’s other works including his plays and essays. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read it front to back…I really should.

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Then there’s my favourite.
It’s not particularly old, 1980, but you don’t see many Through the Looking Glass stand-alones these days. I found this in a charity shop and had to buy it. The eight full-page illustration plates by Tenniel are beautiful in colour.

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Books 006

Which also has the addition of The Wasp in a Wig which I’d not seen before. Books 009

And this is a 2009 Penguin Classic special edition with canvas boards and various extra notes on the text that my friend Dora gave to me. So pretty!Books 010

I love them all for all different reasons so I can’t bring myself to get rid of any of them. Oh, and I’m pretty sure if I went rummaging in my parents attic I’d be able to find the copy I grew up with. I’d love to see that again. I bet it smells amazing! I’m actually going home next weekend, I’ll try and find it if I get the time.

It’s WWW Wednesday!

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

Click to view on GoodReads

Click to view on GoodReads

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares.– Goodreads.

Just Finished:

Click to view on GoodReads.

Click to view on GoodReads.

It took me a whole week to finish this and I keep telling myself it’s because it was so good that I didn’t want it to end, but it was probably because I’ve just been watching a lot of tennis and drinking in a lot of beer gardens (oh, hello, Sun). That said, the former statement was true too. I loved this one as much, if not more than Graceling and it brought all the three stories and the kingdoms together beautifully. I want more. If you liked the Graceling books as much as I did, I highly recommend Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina too, and its cover is just as pretty. Win all round. I’ll be reviewing this for The Gollancz Geeks Blog ASAP.

Up Next:

I’m torn between the next Ruby Redfort book which I totally forgot I’d pre-ordered and a book I was recommended ages ago and really need to read and give back – The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Click to view on GoodReads.

Click to view on GoodReads.

This does sound good…’Gentleman Bastard #1’…haha interesting…and no, it’s obviously not YA but I do like to branch out now and again.

As for Ruby Redfort, I probably never would have picked up the first book, Look Into My Eyes if it hadn’t been released by Harper Collins with its spangly hypnotic silver cover. The previous cover looked a bit too young for me, and the same goes for Take Your Last Breath, the second in the series. Ruby is sassy and witty and fearless and makes a pretty amusing 13 year old secret agent, none of which I get from this cover:

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

But this one, on the other hand is much more appealing to my inner teenage spy.
Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

Leave a comment with your WWW Wednesday books or the link to your post!