Saturday, December 5, 2009

More International Book Giveaways

Posted by Simcha 6:40 PM, under | No comments

The Book Smugglers are hosting Kathryn McKenna from Simon an Schuster UK and she will be giving away a copy of each of the following books to on lucky winner: The Thirteen Curses by Michelle Harrison, The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, The Island by Sarah Singleton, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, Dark Life by Kat Falls and Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. All these books look really good and you just have to fill out a form to enter. Contest ends on Dec. 12th

Misfit Salon has two copies of Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book and two copies of Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Letters to give away. Both these books sound hysterical and I'd love to win one of these myself. These books can be won in two different contests, both of which end on Dec. 14th

The Bibliophilic Book Blog is giving away a Sony Pocket Ereader to one lucky reader and some kind of book prize pack to a runner up. (If you enter this contest, tell them I sent you) Contest ends Dec. 15th

Bibliofreak Blog is giving away a Kindle. There are bunch of different ways to enter and get extra points, from posting the contest on your blog to making a YouTube video. Contest ends Dec. 18th.

Jessica at Book Bound is celebrating her 100 followers by awarding three winners with the book of their chooice from the Book Depository. Contest ends Dec. 18th

Brizmus Book Blog is celebrating having over 100 followers by selecting two winners who can choose to receive one of these books: Hush Hush, Evermore, Ender's Game, The City and the Stars as well as some other surprises. To enter, you just need to leave a comment but there many opportunities for extra entries. Contest ends Dec18th

Parajunkee is giving away lots of awesome books to two different winners. Books include: The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, Hush Hush, Cry Wolf, Graceling, Fire and many more.Contest ends Dec. 30th

Dark Faerie Tales is going to choose four winners who can select the books they they would like to receive from a long list of amazing looking titles. Contest ends January 5th

My Book Wishlist

Posted by Simcha 4:01 PM, under | 3 comments

As a Hanukkah gift to myself (one of the downsides of being an adult is I rarely get presents anymore) I've decided to treat myself to a couple of books from my ever-growing To Be Read list. Since most of these books are not even available in Israel, I would need to order them from outside the country (oh how I miss American libraries! Those amazing buildings full of free books in English), probably through The Book Depository which offers free international shipping. So I've compiled for myself a list of the books that I want to read the most, to help me decide which books to order. Though I've now seen that compiling a list has not made in any easier for me to decide which books to choose. They all look so good....

The City and the City by China Mieville

I've read some really good things about this book, which sounds really unique and intriguing and i'ts been in my TBR pile for some time

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

This is the fourth book in Fforde's Thursday Next series, of which I've read all the previous books, and I'm frustrated by not being able to find it in any bookstore in Israel.
Thursday's husband is still eradicated and I need to find out what happens next. I've even bought book #5 already and so getting book four is of vital importance.

The Crown Conspiracy by Michael Sullivan

This is another book that I've been hearing good things about from some serious fantasy book blogs and websites and the blurb sounds interesting enough that I'd like to try it:

They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.
There is no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wr
ong place at the
wrong time...Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and leg

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I've read some really great YA dystopia books lately and so when I heard this one recommended on Books on the Nightstand, I immediately added it to my pile.

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe

Although this book came out in 2007 I never heard of it until recently, when I saw it mentioned by three different blogs. I seem to be adding a lot of fantasy detective novels to my pile, when I've always shied away from mysteries, but the reviews for this book sounded interesting enough that I'd like to try this book for myself.

Street Magic by Caitlin Kitteredge

I added this book to my list last week after I saw it recommended on Melissa's blog My World. Although I enjoy Urban Fantasy I've been disappointed by most of the the book in this genre that I have read lately, and so I'm always on the lookout for new authors to try out in hopes of finding some urban fantasy that I could really enjoy. I've never read anything by Kittredge before but I'd like to give this book a shot. It certainly sounds interesting enough .

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

I've never read anything by Jim Hines before but I enjoy books that retell fairy tales and this retelling of Cinderella, and her life after the wedding, sounds like a lot of fun.

Non-Genre Books

There are a couple of non-fantasy books that I've desperately been wanting to read but which I haven't made an attempt to buy because most of my reading time has been going towards scifi and fantasy books. But these books are ones that if I get I would make sure to find the time to read.

The Hands of My father by Myron Uhlberg

I love a good memoir and this book, about a boy in Brooklyn growing up with deaf parents, sounds fascinating.

Lost on Planet China by J. Martin Troost

I'm a big fan of Bill Bryson and his books on travel and I'm always on the lookout for authors with a similar writing style, so when I heard about Martin Troost and his humorous travel books, I added this book to my list. The Amazon reviews of the books are mixed enough that I have been holding out on ordering it though I really would like to give this author a try.

So now I just have to narrow these books down to two or three that I want the most, and to avoid visiting any sites that might tempt me with new books to add to my list.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character: Princess Cimorence

Posted by Simcha 5:48 PM, under | 4 comments

This is a fun feature that Ryan at Wordsmithonia came up with and which I've been meaning to participate in for a while.

I was recently reminder of one of my favorite book characters, who I haven't visited with for quite a while, but who I always think of fondly. And she is Cimorene from Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest series. Cimorence is a princess who dares to be different. Rather then learning etiquette and embroidery she takes on fencing, Latin and cooking. And instead of getting captured by a dragon so that a prince could come and save her, she runs away to become a dragon's housekeeper and secretary.

I love Cimorence. She is feisty, independent and creative. She's not afraid to forge her own path and her creative methods of caring for her dragon and deterring her persistent suitors are highly entertaining. She is definitely my favorite princess and one of my all-time favorite fictional characters.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SciFi for Beginners: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Posted by Simcha 5:39 PM, under | 4 comments

A couple of months ago I had decided that I needed to become more familiar with science fiction, since I run a scifi and fantasy website. In order to do this, I would start by reading one science fiction book a month. The first book I read was Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein; a really odd book that took me a while to recover from. This month I chose to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip Dick. I picked this book because it had an interesting title and I've never read a book about androids before which seems like something I should do if I want to be a real science fiction reader.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was first published in 1968 and in the early editions the story takes place in the futuristic year, 1992. Later editions of this book change the year to 2021. The protagonist, Rick Deckerd, is a bounty hunter of androids in a post-apocalyptic future where most of Earth has been evacuated due to the radioactive dust from the last World War. Almost all animals have died, due to the toxic dust, and the people who have chosen to remain on Earth-either for work purposes or because they have been rejected for emigration- suffer from various diseases.

In order to encourage people to move to Mars and other off-world colonies the U.N offeres every new emigrant their own android slave. As the demand for androids increases over the years, new and more sophisticated androids are created until eventually they are so advanced that they can even pass as humans. Some of these more developed androids manage to kill their masters and escape to Earth, where androids are illegal. Rick's job is to hunt down these androids and "retire" them.

The story opens as Rick is woken up in the morning by his mood organ, a machine that allows the user to select the mood they would like to experience, and almost immediately gets into an argument with his wife in which she accuses him of being a murderer. Rick defends himself by stating that he has never killed a human in his life. Despite their physical similarities to humans and their superior intellect, androids are considered the lowest form of life and Rick has no qualms in killing them. But as Rick sets off to hunt down a group of renegade androids that have escaped from Mars he experiences various incidents which cause him to begin doubting his own feelings towards androids and his suitability for his current job.

The title of the book is based on the fact that in this world
, a person's social status is affected by their ownership of a real animal. Since all animals are now scarce, and many are already extinct, animals are seen as particularly precious and owning one gives a person status. In addition, since empathy is the key difference between humans and androids, caring for an animal also proves that the pet-owner is empathetic and therefore human. People that can't afford a real animal can buy an electric one instead, which is the unfortunate position that Rick is in. He desperately want's to replace his electric sheep with a real one and hopes that after he captures all of the androids he will finally be able to afford the real thing.

Meanwhile, J.R Isidore, who lives by himself in an abandoned building, discovers that someone new has moved into the apartment below him. Due to brain damage as a result of the toxic dust, Isidore is forced to remain on Earth where he works for electric-animal repair company. Excited by the prospect of having a neighbor, he goes over with the gift of margarine, to make their acquaintance. Isidore soon discovers that his new neighbor is on the run from the authorities, along with three of her friends, and he quickly extends an offer of assistance to them. But these people are different then anyone Isidore knows, they are colder and crueler, and perhaps they aren't even people...

I'm of two of minds about this book. On the one hand, it was a fast-paced, easy to read book that had me fully engrossed from the beginning until the end. It was like watching an action movie. On the other hand, I was disappointed because I was expecting some kind of great climactic event or an interesting and surprising revelation that would tie everything together, but there was neither. The book just ends. I had enjoyed reading the book in expectancy that it was building up to something dramatic, but it really doesn't.

There are also a number of inconsistencies throughout the book as well as many things that go unexplained. Why is there no mention of children in the book, are there none on Earth? What purpose is there for the mood organ and why was it created?
J.R Isidore is referred to as a Chickenhead, because of his low-level of intelligence, but what's the meaning behind this term? These questions, and many others, are never addressed, which was another thing that disappointed me.

After finishing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep I felt like I must have missed some deep and hidden message in the book, so I turned to Wikipedia for help, but it didn't have much to add. The book apparently questions what it is that makes a person human, rather then an android, which is not a question that has ever really troubled me.

Despite my criticisms, I still enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep as an easy-to-read scifi- book and I think I would like to try more books by Philip K. Dick. I also intend to watch Blade Runner, which is based on this book, to see how it compares. If you are interested in getting into some light science fiction, without any confusing scientific terms and descriptions (which is what always throws me off), this book would be a good place to start.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I got a blog award!!

Posted by Simcha 2:56 PM, under | 4 comments

I just received this awesome blog award from Ramona at Alone in the Holy Land and I just want to give her a huge "thank you!"

Now I just need to find a good place to hang my award up so that everyone can admire it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Books to reread: Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

Posted by Simcha 3:26 PM, under | 6 comments

I recently decided to start re-reading some of the fantasy books that I had read and enjoyed when I was a teenager and first began reading fantasy. One reason is simply because I've forgotten what most of these books were about and I would like to recommend them to other fantasy readers, which means I have to actually remember the story lines. The second reason is that I want to see if I will still find these books to be enjoyable, reading them as an adult.

The first book that I decided to reread is David Eddings' Pawn of Prophecy, the first book in the Belgariad series. I've always felt that any fantasy reader should be familiar with David Eddings' work. He was one of my favorite authors when I started reading fantasy and I had read all eighteen books related to the series, though I can't remember too much about them now, which seems a good reason to pick up these books again.

Pawn of Prophecy opens up at Faldor’s Farm where young Garion lives with his Aunt Pol, who runs the farm’s kitchen. Garion lives the simple life of a farm boy, satisfied with doing the work assigned to him by his aunt and spending his free time playing with his friends. But when Garion is fifteen, the vagabond, Mr. Wolf, appears at the farm setting off a chain of events that has Garion, his aunt, Mr. Wolf and Durnik the Smith suddenly fleeing the farm for reasons that no one will explain to Garion. Along the way they meet up with a couple of friends of Mr. Wolf and Aunt Pol's and together they continue along the mysterious quest.

Garion’s frustration mounts as he is kept in ignorance throughout the journey, though he soon realizes that none of his companions are what they appear to be, including his Aunt Pol, whom he has known all his life. As Garion’s beliefs begin to crumble around him he struggles to understand who he really is and what his relationship is to “Aunt Pol” and “Mr. Wolf,” as well as the dark figure who has shadowed him for as long as he could remember. Garion has also determined that they are actually in pursuit of a thief who has stolen an important object, which must be returned at all cost, and that he is somehow an important figure in all of this.

Pawn of Prophecy is a great start to a wonderful epic fantasy full of action, colorful characters and creative world building. I think it’s a great book for anyone who is just beginning to read fantasy though for someone already familiar with the genre, these books might seem a bit simplistic. The characters are not quite as complex as those in more recent fantasy literature. It's clear who are the good guys and who are the bad guys and you know that eventually the good guys will defeat the evil and save the world. And even the story might be a bit predictable, it's still a lot of fun.

I do admit that I found Garion to be a bit irritating, something I don't recall bothering me when I had read the book the first time. I couldn't understand why it wasn't until he was a teenager that he thought to ask about what happened to his parents. And the way he lets all the adults push him around and make him feel guilty every time he shows a little rebellious behavior (which was certainly understandable considering all the shocking discoveries) really annoyed me. I think my favorite scene in the book was when he punched a boy in the nose for trying to pick a fight with him. Finally Garion shows that he's not a complete wuss!

    Garion realized that the redhead was feeling belligerent and that a fight was inevitable. The preliminaries-threats, insults, and the like- would probobly go on for several more minutes, but the fight would take place as soon as the boy in the long tunic had worked himself up to it. Garion decided not to wait. He doubled his fist and punched the larger boy in the nose.

    The blow was a good one and the redhead stumbled back and sat down heavily in the snow. He raised one hand to his nose and brought it away red. "It's bleeding" he wailed accusingly. "You made my nose bleed."

    "It'll stop in a few minutes," Garion said.

    "What if it doesn't?"

    "Nosebleeds don't last forever." Garion told him.

    "Why did you hit me?" The redhead demanded tearfully, wiping his nose. "I didn't do anything to you."

    "You were going to," Garion said. "Put snow on it and don't be such a baby."

    "It's still bleeding," the boy said.

    "Put snow on it," Garion said again.

    "What if it doesn't stop bleeding?"

    "Then you'll probably bleed to death," Garion said in a heartless tone. It was a trick he had learned from Aunt Pol.

Go Garion!!

Overall, I think I enjoyed Pawn of Prophecy just as much now as when I first read it, despite the fact- or maybe because of the fact- that it's not as complex as the more modern fantasies. I think it's a great book for anyone starting to read fantasy, particularly young adults- though it's not necessarily a YA book. But I also think that any regular fantasy reader who has not yet read these books by David Eddings, is definitely missing out.


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