Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: A Feeling Worth Waiting For

I have a nook, and last Christmas I received an iPad, and yes I do use both of these tools to read books.  I'll admit the nook is getting pretty lonely these days, as I prefer to read on the iPad when given the choice.  This post however, is not about reading on the iPad or any e-reader in fact, it's about reading a physical book. I don't mind reading on my digital devices, in some cases I prefer it, but there are times that I want that physical book, and that is a feeling worth waiting for. 

The beauty of the ebook is that is can be delivered instantaneously to you where ever you are.  All you need is an internet connection and you can instantly bring the bookstore to you.  You don't need to drive across town in 100 degree weather to get your book, or wait days for the mail to arrive.  Within seconds that book can be on your device and you can jump into the story.

So why, in this digital age where books are available in seconds, would I choose to go to a bookstore or even order books through the mail and wait days for them when I could have them in my hands in a matter of seconds?  Because, no matter how much I enjoy the speed and ease with which I can get those digital books, there is still something to be said about holding that physical book in my hand.

Any of us know that the portability of an e-reader is amazing--you can take your whole library with you on vacation.  Try doing that with physical books!  Still I have to admit, there are many books that I choose to purchase in their physical form, and I am willing to wait days for them to arrive, because in these cases, form is more important to me than convenience.  There are just some books I want to hold in my hand, feel the weight of the book, turn the pages (or quickly flip through them), and just sit back and enjoy. 

Why are there some books where I need to have physical copies and others books that I don't care whether the copy is digital or not?   This is a question I have asked myself a million times--really what is the difference?  Why did I choose to order a book online and wait days for it when I could be reading it right now on my iPad?  Do you want to hear the crazy answer?  Because the books I want to spend the most time with are the books I need to have in their physical form.  Books I am planning to study from, books I will want to refer back to, and books that I know I will read over and over again are books that I want in physical form. 

In some ways this is counter intuitive--why would I want a physical book that can be damaged with multiple uses instead of the digital book which will last forever (theoretically).  Because the format makes it easier for me to reread sections, to flip through the pages, and find my favorite parts again or to just study single passages. 

As I was writing this I realized how poorly I would do in the digital age.  So many kids are now starting Kindergarten (yes Kindergarten) and are required to use iPads.  These kids will access their text books, and readings via iPad, and study on the iPads.  I don't think I am suited for this new digital world, because I need the physical book when I study--I want to be able to quickly flip through pages to find passages that I read before.  Oh, I know I could use the search function and find the passage quickly, but that isn't the point. 

I have always felt that digital technology is somewhat disposable.  Think about it, we delete millions of disposable emails each year, and honestly, I only read half of what is sent to me.  Send me a letter, and I will read it, and probably keep it for a while--when I didn't think twice about deleting your email.  It is the permanence of something put in physical print that attracts me to a physical book.  This book is real, it has substance, and I can experience it in a way and with more senses than I will ever be able to with a digital disposable book.

So which books do I read in physical form and which in digital?  It's simple, the ones I care about, the ones I want to keep, refer back to, and seriously learn from can not be digital for me, they have to have substance and be physical. 

I will still love my ebooks, but they aren't the books that I will be reading 20 years from now.  Those physical books that I wait days for in the mail, or seek at bookstores are worth waiting for, because for me they will stay will me longer than my digital copies--long after the book has fallen apart.

How about you?  How do you decide which books to buy physical copies, and which digital?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Audio Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ramsom Riggs
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Quirk Books
ISBN-13 Book: 9781594744761
Audiobook Publisher:  Listening Library
ISBN-13 Audio:  9780449013854
Length:  9 hours 42 minutes (8 CDs)
Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book for committee worka and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1)Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary:
Jacob never really believed his grandfather’s stories about the school with peculiar children and the monsters that inhabited their world, until the day his grandfather dies, and he sees one for himself. Everyone thinks he is crazy, and he doesn’t know what to believe himself, but he does know he needs to follow his grandfather’s clues, and find the school where his grandfather grew up. When he finds the bombed out wreck of a home, and follows a girl his age into a cairn, he finds himself in a world where every day is the same, and monsters lurk just beyond the door.

Review:
It took me a while to get into this book. Most of the time I give the book about 30 pages to hook me, but by page 50 it still hadn’t caught my interest. I had heard so many great things about this book, and because I had committed to reading it for work, I decided to plow through. Thank goodness my audio version came in because I would still be reading it now if it hadn’t. I hate to say it, this book took forever to settle into, and even in the end, I am not certain it was worth the effort.

I must commend the author. This story was definitely original. In a YA market overrun with paranormal fiction, this one stands out as something unique; a story that twists time and makes the unbelievable believable.

The old photographs Riggs used to tell his story were remarkable. This photographs are truly unique and add a whole new dimension to his story telling. Yes I did listen to the audio, but I had my copy of the book close by so I could look at the unusual photographs.

I think part of my problem with this novel was that I didn’t like the main character very much at first. He struck me as a spoiled little rich boy, which kind of turned me off. As the story progresses he becomes more likable, and that made reading a little easier.

This is a novel you have to stick with to really get into. It is slow going at first, but picks up considerably when you make it to the children’s home.

The novel leaves you with the impression there will be more to come.

Audio Book Review:
The audio book is produced by Listening Library and read by Jesse Bernstein. Jesse Bernstein also reads the Percy Jackson and the Olympians novels so I was thrilled when I started listening to this one. Bernstein is a talented reader, and definitely makes this a wonderful listening experience. As I said before, this novel was hard for me to get into, so the audio version was absolutely perfect to get me past those slower pages. The production is well done and free from flaws.

The audio book consists of 8 CDs, which is about 9 hours 42 minutes in length. I definitely recommend tackling this one with audio, but keep the pictures close by so you can see the images they are talking about in the book.

Overall:
This was an interesting, original story, but a little slow going in the beginning. The true treasure of this book would be all the remarkable photographs.

Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
Creepy pictures may disturb younger readers, and there is some violence in the book. Other than that, this was a pretty clean read.


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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Audio Book Review: Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich


Title: Wicked Appetite
Author: Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN-13 Book: 9780312652913
Audiobook Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ISBN-13 Audio:  9781427210456
Length:  7 hours
Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book from my mother and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!



Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel, #1)Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:
Lizzy likes her little house in Salem, MA, her job baking the best cupcakes, and her seemly normal life. Until one day a handsome, but evil looking stranger burns her with a touch and the hot looking Diesel pops into her life telling her she is an unmentionable, and has the ability to sense empowered objects when she touches them. Now her life is turned upside down as she finds herself saddled with a one-eyed cat, a monkey, and Diesel who won’t go away until she finds the gluttony stone.

Review:
Janet Evanovich has a way of writing which always brightens my day. Sometimes you need a good laugh, and you can usually find one in her books—no matter how ridiculous it is. I can honestly say I have needed some lighter fare in my reading lately and Evanovich lets me have that.

Her characters are always quirky. You have Lizzy who reminds me a lot of Stephanie in the Stephanie Plum novels. She seems normal, but her life is anything but normal. All the weird and fun characters that walking in and out of Lizzy’s life are a riot. Nobody else makes odd seem normal the way Evanovich does.

The story is lighthearted and despite the danger never takes itself too seriously. I love that I can pick these novels up and they put me in a good mood in no time. Reading Evanovich is bibliotherapy for me. It is escapism at its best, and best of all they make me laugh.

I know some people complained about Carl the Monkey, but honestly he didn’t bother me too much. It is one of Evanovich’s classic motifs. She has a tendency to over burden her main characters with the oddest set of circumstances—in this case a homeless monkey who gives people the finger.

I won’t say the novel is perfect, because perfect is hard to attain. I admit I prefer the Stephanie Plum novels when given the choice, but even those have been a bit predictable lately. This was an interesting change of pace, a lot of fun, and well worth the read.

Audiobook Review:
The audio version of this novel is published by Macmillan Audio and is seven CDs or roughly 7 hours in length. It is read by Lorelei King who reads most of the books in the Stephanie Plum series, and admittedly for a while I felt like I was listening to another Stephanie Plum novel. Eventually though, I settled in with the characters. King is a very talented reader, and does a great job with both male and female voices—and in this novel Monkeys. The production is well done and free of flaw—it is definitely a good listening experience.

Overall:
This was a fun book, and I needed something fun right now. It has classic Evanovich humor, and an interesting array of characters. A series starter with potential, I look forward to reading the next novel Wicked Business.


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Maybe Its the Heat

Normally, I don't have trouble picking up books and reading, but right now the last thing on my mind is reading.  This past week all I have wanted to do is sleep.  I worked the 4H fair for the library for three hours Monday evening and woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck--everything hurt.  It isn't like it was hard work, and it isn't like we are experiencing the record high temps we had last week, but for some reason I'm exhausted. 

I am blaming it on the heat.  It may not be as hot this week, but I think it just zapped all my energy last week.  As the temperature climbs again this week and declarations of severe drought surround us--I keep hoping and praying for some rain. 

In the meantime--at least my CD player in my car still works, because that is the only thing that is getting read this week.  I look forward to the weekend, getting some rest, and maybe finding a new book to start.  I think I'll look for something cold...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman


Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Genre: Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN-13 Book: 978014311857
Audiobook Publisher:  Penguin Audio
Length:  8 sound discs (10 hr.)
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the book from Barnes and Noble and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!


Saving CeeCee HoneycuttSaving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary:
CeeCee has lived her whole life with a mother who cares more about her past than her present. When her mother’s mental illness gets worse, CeeCee finds herself trying to be the parent, and keep her mother from embarrassing her further. After her mother’s sudden death, CeeCee moves to Savannah, Georgia to live with her great-aunt Tootie. There she finds herself surrounded by strong women who while a bit eccentric at times, show her that life can go on, even after tragedy strikes.

Book Review:
This story was just so charming. I actually had difficulty putting this book down (or turning off my car as the case may be). CeeCee’s life isn’t an easy one, and when you first meet her at the beginning of the book you can see that she is coping with her mother’s mental illness.

The characters in this book are superb. They are so well developed you can believe that they are really people, and I loved all their eccentricities. This is a novel full of strong females. Many of the women in this novel have suffered losses, and experienced pain, but they are so much stronger for it.

The pacing is spot on. It is a little slow in the beginning when you are getting to know the characters, but it picks up after you get to Savannah. It keeps the pages turning, or since I listened to the audiobook—my car running even after I should have gotten out.

I love books with humor, and even in the midst of tragedy, Beth Hoffman managed to lace in some wonderful humor. This book had moments that were laugh out loud funny—even when the circumstances might have been ones to bring you to tears.

Audiobook Review:
The audiobook version is produced by Penguin Audio and read by one of my favorite readers, Jenna Lamia. Lamia has read other books similar to this one like The Help and Secret Life of Bees and her narration is always spot on. Her character’s voices are distinct, she has a delicate touch with an accent, and her teens sound like actual teens. This production was amazing and if you like audiobooks it is definitely worth the time. The audiobook is 8 CDs long and has a run time of approximately 10hrs. Time well spent.

Overall:
Whether you do the audio version or pick up the book, I highly recommend this novel. It will definitely appeal to readers who have enjoyed books like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. One of my friends compared it to Steel Magnolia’s. It has humor and heartache, and is a story you won’t want to put down. It is amazing.


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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Hope you are having a happy 4th! It is hot and humid here in the midwest, and most of our local fireworks shows have been cancelled because of the drought. Still I plan to enjoy my day off, spending it with my husband and son, and of course some good books.

Stay cool!

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Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Title: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Genre: Adult Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Viking Adult
ISBN-13 Book: 9780670023486
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from NetGalley.  This is my honest review!


Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary:
Be warned! Shadow of Night starts where A Discovery of Witches left off. You will definitely want to read A Discovery of Witches first.
Diana Bishop and Matthew de Clermont travel back to the 1590s in order find a witch who would safely teach Diana how to use her powerful magic. Not everything goes as planned, as both struggle to adapt to the time and their respect roles in it. As Matthew is drawn into a web of politics and historical espionage, Diana struggles to understand her place in Matthew’s life, and learn to control her magical gifts. Time is running out for both of them, for it is only a matter of time before the Congregation finds them.

Review:
The beginning was a little slow for this novel, mostly because you have to adapt to the characters in their new setting and the characters themselves change in the new environment, so you have to get to know them again. I adored the historical setting, and some of the commentary related to living in that century. The first portion of the book felt like a new introduction to me, and the action didn’t really start happening until you get to Sept-Tours.

Harkness does a wonderful job with her history and making you feel immersed in the past. I loved the detail and the chance to meet the famous names and faces of Elizabethan England.

As I said before, the pacing is a bit slow at the beginning, but after reaching Sept-Tours it picks up pace considerably. I do remember being frustrated at times when I felt that Matthew or Diana were losing focus on what they were in the past to do, but eventually they do get around to it, and the anticipation created such a good buildup that you felt rewarded when you got there.

The flipping between the present and the past was an interesting technique, and it was a great to see the influence that Diana and Matthew were having on the past.

Overall:
While the story did have its slower parts, I found that I still loved this book. Harkness is a remarkable storyteller, and this story is outstanding. There were points where I had difficulty setting the novel down, and at the end, I just wished I could read the next book right now. In some ways I enjoyed this novel more than the first. I eagerly await the next installment.


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