Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Set Books Free with!

Posted by Simcha 5:42 PM, under | 5 comments

Do you have a book that you love so much that you wish you could share it with everyone you know? Well soon that may be possible, with the help of, a new website that was launched last Thursday by Gluejar, Inc. aims to help readers buy the rights from copyright holders, to produce and distribute free e-book editions of particular books. Users can suggest and vote on books that they would like to see offered for free and then a price is negotiated with the copyright holders, after which interested parties can pledge money towards that goal.

Similar to the way that Kickstarter works, those who pledge money towards a campaign will receive certain rewards like having their name listed in the acknowledgment section of the book (with a $25 pledge) or getting a one-day writing seminar with the book's author (for a $1,500 pledge).

Currently there are five different campaign going on at, though I'm not familiar with any of the titles on the list. Some other, more well-known titles are possible contenders as future books, if enough people vote for them. These include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ender's Game and A Brief History of Time. also allows you to log into the site and add your own favorite books to the wishlist, that you would like to see "unglued." I've been racking my brain trying to think of which books I would add and I'm having more trouble with this than I would have expected. I think I would go with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Louis.

How about you guys?

Which books would you like to see added to the campaign, to be distributed for free, world-wide?

You can find out more about at their website as well as in this article by The Huffington Post.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

And I finally write a review...of Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Posted by Simcha 5:26 PM, under | 7 comments

OK, I'm going to do it now. I'm writing some reviews.


Sheesh. This is a lot harder then I remember it being.

Alright, maybe if I start with one mini-review I'll get back into the swing of things.

Hmm. But which book to start with? I'm just so behind and there are so many books...

Well I owe Netgalley a bunch of reviews so that seems like a good place to begin. 

OK, here I go....

Firelight by Kristen Callihan.

I remember that I had been really eager to read this book, which seemed like a retelling of Beauty in the Beast in a Victorian setting.  It sounded like a winning combination to me, and one which I couldn't wait to try.

The heroine of this story is Miranda Ellis, a young woman with the strange ability to conjure fire.

Miranda lives with her surly, mean-spirited father who has never let her forget that their loss of fortune is all her fault. Therefore, when Miranda's father announces that he has given her over to the rich and powerful Benjamin Archer, in exchange for a loan, Miranda feels that she has little choice but to comply.

Archer has been fascinated with the beautiful Miranda for years, ever since  saving her from an attack by three street urchins. Despite the danger, Miranda had been fearless and bold, leaving Archer intrigued. It was for that reason that Archer was back in London after so many years. He was ready to claim the girl that has occupied so many of his thoughts , even though he knows that it's probably a very bad idea. Not only does Miranda not realize that the two of them had ever met but she also knows nothing about the terrible curse that has led Archer to live behind an iron mask, and Archer will do his best to make sure she never finds out.

At first Firelight seemed as if it might actually be delivering the story that I had been hoping for. The characters and events that we are introduced to in the beginning very much parallel the story of Beauty and the Beast and I was looking forward to seeing how the story would play out in this new setting.
But after a few chapters, reading the book became a struggle due to the  flowery dialogue and overwrought professions of love, which quickly began to grate on my nerves.

After moving in with Archer, Miranda finds herself falling in love with him, despite the fact that he tries to maintain his distance and never allows her to see under his mask. Miranda is also afraid to let herself relax in case Archer finds out about her secret ability. Archer, in turn, is frustrated by his feelings for Miranda which he tries to contain, knowing that he can never really be with her. But the two are still drawn together, despite their efforts to stay apart. Miranda loves him but thinks he doesn't love her. Archer loves her but has to pretend he doesn't so she doesn't try to get close... Blah, blah, blah...You get the point... And if you are like me, you will probably get a little annoyed by it all as well.

In addition to the disappointingly boring romance I also didn't understand the purpose of Miranda's ability to create fire. It didn't seem to have any real place in the story, other than giving her father a reason to resent her. A couple of times Miranda has to struggle to control her ability but I just didn't see how any of this added anything to the story as a whole. At first it helped make her character more interesting but after a while it seemed more like an extra  limb that was hanging around for no reason. 

As the story progresses it veers away from the Beauty and the Beast story-line until there is very little left two connect the two stories, which I found disappointing. The mystery behind Archer's ailment is what kept me plowing forward through the story, and eventually the excitement and surprise revelations lured me in again. 

While Firelight didn't turn out to be quite what I had been hoping for it did have its entertaining moments. And it seems to have racked up a lot of rave reviews on Goodreads so I guess there are many readers who feel quite passionate about this book. So I suppose you'll just have to decide for yourself on this one.


Well it looks like this review did not turn out so "mini" after all. I guess I'll save the rest for another day then. And now that I got started perhaps it will be easier next time. In fact, I'm really looking forward to telling you about If Walls Could Talk, which is also from Netgalley, and while I had so much fun reading.

'til next time then!

A Life-Saving Book

Posted by Simcha 2:05 PM, under | 2 comments

I've been trying to decide on what book to get for my 11 year-old son to read next and after reading this article I think The Merchant of Death by D.J MacHale would be a good choice. After falling into a river, and being pulled towards a 10-foot waterfall, it was advice from this series that helped save the life of 13 year-old William Hickman

From The Seattle Times:
    After slipping into the fast-moving river during a hike Saturday afternoon above Wallace Middle Falls, Hickman heeded the advice of the book's hero and rode feet first down a 10-foot waterfall, trying to avoid the center of the river where the current was at its strongest. But he didn't avoid all rocks, grabbing one only feet from the towering falls, a move that likely saved the Burien boy's life

A fantasy novel that saves lives? 
I'm going to make all of my kids read this one.


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