• ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Recommendations

    ARC’s: Advanced Reader Copies and how to get them

    What is an ARC? It’s essentially a book release 3-6 months ahead of publication to librarians, booksellers, professional readers, reviewers, contest winners, etc. The cover and contents may differ because it may not be in it’s final published form.

    I stumbled upon my first ARC purely by luck. It was Baby Teeth by Zoe Stage… which, BTW is a great creepy book for this time of year.

    I honestly don’t remember how I found the request link for Baby Teeth but one day a book showed up in my mailbox with a few instructions about the publication date, hashtags to use on social media, posting pictures, and the timing of the review. I remember thinking, “how cool is this? A free book to read and review!”.

    Then I just had to convince my husband that the book was indeed free and, no I did not order yet another book. I also may or may have not let him also think that with other books that have since arrived on our doorstep.

    Over the course of this year, I have discovered that I really enjoy not just reading new books but writing and sharing book reviews. What a great combination!

    This week I started looking at NetGalley, a site for “readers of influence”, to request ARC’s from hundreds of publishers listed on their site.

    I registered, filled out my profile, and found a few of my favorite publishers. Now, I had read on other blogs that it’s fairly common for your request to get turned down so I requested 15 books just to increase my chances.

    I was sent 14 of the 15 and they now live on my new Kindle.

    So here are a few things that I’ve learned from this process:

    1. Fill out your profile as completely as possible. Some publishers have very specific things that they are looking for, I.E. an active blog, a Goodreads account, an Instagram following, a history of solid reviews, etc.
    2. Request books that fit with the preferred genres listed in your profile.
    3. Be mindful of the publication dates – I’m so glad I did this because I will still be able to handle 14 books to read and review.
    4. Make a schedule of your books and what needs to be read first and then the dates the publisher requests you to abide by as well.
    5. Be OK with e-reader copies. We just de-cluttered our entire home so I’m really happy with electronic copies. It’s also more environmentally friendly.

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    This also gave me an excuse to buy the Kindle Oasis which I am super happy with. It is waterproof, super light, glare-free, has page turn buttons, the screen adjusts based on the light in the room, and probably my favorite feature: it has built-in Audible with Bluetooth capability.

    Happy reading!

    Do you read ARC’s? What has been your favorite book you have received?

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Wit

    Top 10 Tuesday: Villains

    TTT-NEWTop Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

    Today’s list is all about villains. And not just the awful ones but also my favorites, best, worst, lovable, creepiest, most evil, etc. This took some thought because I tend not to dwell on the bad guys but here goes!

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    Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com
    1. Hanna from Baby Teeth (Zoje Stage) – My pick for the creepiest because a psychopathic 1st grader who is sweet while plotting to kill her mom is definitely creepy.
    2. Mary B. Addison from Allegedly (Tiffany D. Jackson) – Mary is in foster care after going to jail for killing a baby her mother was babysitting. Did she do it? Did she not? Either way her story was sad and made you love her for her resiliency.
    3. Adele from Behind Her Eyes (Sarah Pinborough) – Adele is a favorite because my goodness, she pulled off the plot twists of the year for me.
    4. Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre – Any man who has a crazy attic wife is going to be the brooding, sullen type. But offers to take Jane to the moon made him odd but endearing.
    5. Cathy Ames from East of Eden (John Steinbeck) – Any woman who destroys people for fun ranks up there as most evil.
    6. David Melrose from Never Mind (Edward St. Aubyn) – A father like this guy who does unspeakable things to his son ties with Cathy Ames for most evil. By the way, the Showtime series Patrick Melrose based on this book series was fantastic.
    7. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – This one seems obvious. Who hasn’t had a Nurse Ratched at some point in their school career? Ok, maybe not that bad but you know what I mean.
    8. Serena Joy from A Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) – I am hesitant to call her a favorite but the balance she struck between heartless and cruel and trapped like the other women certainly made her a fascinating and complex villain.
    9. The White Witch from Narnia (C.S. Lewis) was one of the first villains I remember reading about when I was a kid. I have fond memories of this series and see her as one of the more harmless villains.
    10. Caillou from My Great Adventures – This one was a toss-up between the kid from The Giving Tree and Caillou but in the end, Caillou won out. What parent doesn’t see this kid as a villain? I know he was banned in our house a long time ago and I will still ban this book all day long.

    Who are some of your favorite villains?

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Recommendations,  Writing

    5 Star Recommendations

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    What makes a book a 5 star book for you?

    My criteria includes:

    • Characters that are interesting, endearing, or so good at being so evil.
    • Writing that is sound and has a clear voice.
    • Imagery. This is a big one for me. If I can hear it, taste it, see it, smell it, or touch it, I’m probably going to be your biggest fan.
    • Relatable. Even if I’m not a Crazy Rich Asian; if there are elements I can relate to, I will find this kind of book enjoyable.
    • Powerful and compelling. Do the characters and story stick with me days/weeks after finishing the book?

    Here are five of my favorite 5 star books from 2018… in no particular order:

        1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – One character: Jude. Remember those books and characters that stick with you? I still think about Jude almost six months later.
        1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Imagery set this book a part from other coming of age novels. I could hear, smell, see, and taste the marsh air when I listened to this audiobook.
        1. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman- I found myself so interested in each character; their likes, dislike, quirks, and faults. You know it’s a good character when even their faults are appealing.
        1. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – Alice, the main character, had such a strong voice and inner dialogue. And that is despite losing her memory in the book.
        1. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal – I am not a Punjabi widow but I found this book to be so relatable. Reading a book about a community of women gaining their collective voice despite old beliefs and opposition reminds me very much of where we are in 2018 with #metoo and #believesurvivors. There is power in community; especially a community of women supporting other women

    I’m curious, because all readers are different, what are some of your favorite five-star books?

     

  • Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Feminism,  Writing

    True Crime Addict & Dead Girls : A double book review and commentary on sensationalized violence against women – Part Two

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    This post is the second in a three part series about the true crime genre

    • Part One – background and review of True Crime Addict.
    • Part Two – review of Dead Girls.
    • Part Three – contrast the two books and discuss the positives and negatives of the genre.

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️.5/5

    I picked up Dead Girls by Alice Bolin up a few months ago. I typically read a few books and listen to an audiobook at the same time. A few minutes into the audiobook, True Crime Addict, I knew it was time to read this collection of essays.

    The subtitle of this book is: essays on surviving an American obsession

    Very interesting (and promising) given how popular the true crime genre has become. Case in point: True Detective on HBO.

    I think True Detective mania mostly owes itself to the complicated power of the Dead Girl Show. The Dead Girl Show’s notable theme are its two odd, contradictory messages for women. The first is that girls are wild, vulnerable creatures who need to be protected from the power of their own sexualities. True Detective demonstrates a self-conscious, conflicted fixation on strippers and sex workers. Hart [one detective] helps “free” a teenage prostitute from a brothel and, seven years later, cheats on his wife with her. – Alice Bolin, Dead Girls

    The book started out strong. The premise of murdered and missing women and the portrayal of the cases in books, podcasts, TV, and movies was one that I had been struck by in the past but couldn’t quite put my finger on what bothered me.

    As Bolin so succinctly put it, the murders and abductions were happening to the (mostly) male characters. These characters had their own issues that they attempted to work out in presenting or solving the case. The focus was on anything but the victim and the accounts were largely told from the male perspective of either the male investigator or perpetrator. Anyone but the victim.

    Yes, in real life the investigation has to focus on finding the perpetrator but how we present the case for information/entertainment purposes frequently misses the mark in favor of attention grabbing.

    Bolin also tackles how living women are also used and wrote brilliantly about Britney Spears. Remember her first big hit? You know, the one in the Catholic school girl uniform.

    Baby One More Time: the one where we were all so distracted by the visual sexual overtones of a 16-year-old. Enough so to miss the hook:

    My loneliness. Is killing me.

    My loneliness. Is killing me.

    You would have had to have been living under a rock to miss 2007 Britney Spears and it makes we wonder if she was the public personification of what happens to women that are used for entertainment and dare I say, art as some have claimed.

    She also addresses white women throughout the book but especially poignantly in her essay Accomplices.

    I was able to exist in his world as long as it felt like a game I was playing, one that reinforced the narrative of myself as able to fit in anywhere but belonging nowhere, privileged with a special separateness. It turns out that this is the mental game many white women play in social (and societal) situation that they benefit from but are ambivalent about perpetuating. My trouble came when I realized that I was playing for keeps- or not playing at all but living my real, only life. – Alice Bolin, Dead Girls

    Ouch. How many times have I found myself, in a male dominated industry, willing to go along with the guys for the sake of my own benefit? Plenty.

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    And we certainly saw this in the Kavanaugh hearings.

    This book was also, in my opinion, part memoir. Bolin chronicles her childhood, college years, and eventual move to Los Angeles. There are also a lot of mentions of her favorite author, Joan Didion, and this is where the essays became slightly repetitive and Didion a distraction for me.

    But that is also a general downside of reading a collection of essays; each one stands alone but when read together, can either drive home a point or become overbearing.

    I don’t want to focus on this issue too much because it detracts from the overall message of the book and that is an important message. But sadly, some readers may be lost in the redundancy. I moved past it and still want to read some of Joan Didion’s work.

    Lastly, as I was reading it dawned on me that even the title of this book had a sensational quality to it. That’s certainly what grabbed my attention, especially using “girls” versus “women”.

    At least Bolin had the self-awareness to admit her choice in the wording of the title. That is a far cry from True Crime Addict. I can’t help but find this a brilliant way the author chose to prove her premise of the entire book.

    From a pure book review perspective, I’ll rate the book 4/5. And more specifically I will rate these essays a 5/5:

    • Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show
    • The Husband Did It
    • Lonely Heart
    • Accomplices

    Bolin is a talented writer, well versed in the subject, and the essays are smartly written.

    Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone interested in a feminist commentary on the presentation of missing and murdered women for the sake of entertainment as well as so much more. And one last suggestion, approach this book with an open mind and more than likely you won’t be disappointed.

    … but I thought I was writing “about the noir.” That day was when I slowly began to realize that my book was maybe not about the noir but about those forces of which the noir was a symptom, not about dead white girls but the more troubling mystery of living ones. – Alice Bolin, Dead Girls

    I’ll discuss this and more in Part Three. Until then, go read Dead Girls, it will not disappoint!

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Personal,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit

    TTT-NEW

    Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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    Photo credit

    Is there a book lover who doesn’t love libraries? The smell alone gets me every time. My husband jokes that we should find a way to bottle that old book smell. He’s a very good sport about my book obsession!

    I know that my fascination with libraries around the world started with a visit to The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford nearly 20 years ago. This list was easy to compile and I had a hard time narrowing it down to my top ten.

    1. Library of Congress – Did you know that they quit Twitter in January? Specifically, they quit archiving public Tweets. Too bad this didn’t become a trend in D.C.
    2. Hearst Castle Gothic Library – Everything about the Hearst family fascinates me including the books in their library.
    3. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library – They house many of Margaret Atwood’s original transcripts along with Shakespeare’s first folio.
    4. George Peabody Library – It’s a gorgeous free public library and a music conservatory. Two of my favorite things: books and music.
    5. Boston Public Library – The first free public library in the U.S.
    6. Library bar at Electric House in Notting Hill – a bar and books? Yes, please. One of my favorite things to do is relax with a book and a nice bourbon.
    7. Morgan Library & Museum – I planned on visiting when I was there for work but unfortunately the weather was terrible. One day…
    8. New York Public Library – Obviously.
    9. Old British Reading Room, British Museum – another beautiful library that I would hardly call a “room”.
    10. Seattle Central Library – I can’t believe I haven’t made it to this library considering how many times I’ve visited Seattle. Next time for sure.

    Lastly, it would be very remiss if I didn’t mention my local library. It may not have the same beauty or architecture as the others on this list but I still love it and the contribution it makes to our community.

    Do you have a favorite library that you have visited?

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