Friday, October 25, 2013

The Perfect Gift for my Father-in-law: Saying Goodbye

A little over a week ago, my father-in-law passed away at the young age of 57. He was many things to many people - a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an Air Force veteran, a coworker, a tutor, a friend. His death was most likely brought about in part due to his dark affinity for alcohol - a dangerous disease of both the body and mind. He hid his problems from most, but that doesn't diminish the sadness of his passing.

One thing he didn't hide was a much more visible obsession - his obsession with guitars.

It made him an easy person to buy gifts for, as he could always find uses for a new guitar tie, guitar clock, guitar shirt... well, you get the idea.

Several years ago as I was browsing through Lulu deciding on which self-published book I'd want to read next, I stumbled upon the PERFECT gift - Jay Wright's "G.A.S. - Living with Guitar Acquisition Syndrome." Finally we had a name for his strange desire to hoard guitars and guitar-themed items!

I bought the book, got the author to sign it (a wonderful perk when dealing with self-published authors!!), and carefully read through it before gift wrapping it to see if I could get some insight into my father in law's mind (the answer to which was no, as really I didn't get much of the humor since I don't suffer from GAS).

My father in law was delighted when he read the title, and from that point on that was how he introduced people to his habit.

When the family wrote up his obituary, they couldn't resist making sure that his GAS was mentioned. I'm sure he would have laughed at that! It was a fitting way to remember him, and helped me personally to say goodbye.

The family set up some gifts to a local camp, but I can't resist plugging Jay's book one last time - if you know someone with GAS, please consider purchasing this very affordable book:   . Jay donates the royalties from the books to help buy guitars for deserving enthusiasts, and I think my father in law would have appreciated and fully supported something like that.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know struggles with alcoholism, please reach out and find help here.

Recommended Read - City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments 4) by Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4)City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again Ms. Clare has produced a riveting and fast-paced adventure in the world of the Shadowhunters! Although the author really could have kept this series to a trilogy (as the last book would have been a wonderfully fitting end), I'm glad she didn't. The characters are developing - no longer is Clary chasing Jace, except that things aren't all "happily ever after" either. I liked the extra emphasis and development of Simon, one of the admittedly more interesting and 3 dimensional characters. I can't wait to move on to the next book in the series!

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Recommended Read - City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3) by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ms. Clare makes up for her second book in the series being slightly predictable by once again throwing in some great twists and turns in this third book! Without giving too much away, I will say that fans of romance and happy endings will breathe a sigh of relief with this expansion of the series. Main character Clary begins to realize even more what her powers can be used for, while Jace struggles to find himself with revelations from his past. With that being said, this would have been a fitting end to the series - but I was happy to find out that the author decided to continue the series anyway! Looking forward to watching the characters continue to grow and develop in future books.

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Recommended Read - City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments 2) by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the fact that this second novel in the series was utterly predictable, I still enjoyed watching the characters tackle new situations. They are developing and growing as characters and I still wanted to watch it unfold regardless of having inklings of what was going to happen next. I want to see how this series continues.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

How to review books for publishers

I was emailing back and forth with one of my fave self-published authors, and mentioned that I hadn't even turned on my Nook in months because I had a continuously-replenishing stack of hard copy books to review these days since a few publishers send them to me.

She asked what I have often been asked by other bibliophile friends-  how did I get hooked up doing that? (Often followed by "Do they pay you?" to which I always sadly reply - "No, unfortunately they won't let me make a paid career out of this.")

After I typed up my reply, she told me that it would make a great blog post. I decided I agreed so here it is:

I worked hard at it.

Wait... what? ;) Yep, it didn't get handed to me easily, and I am still thankful every time I get contacted, because I know that I'm part of a pretty great elite group of book bloggers/reviewers that gets asked to read books handpicked by publishers for review - and often before they are even available to the public.

So without further ado, here's my mostly unedited emailed response so that the rest of you, my lovely readers, can find yourself with a nice stack of free books to review. Enjoy!

"Basically, a friend told me about Goodreads – and from the first time I visited, it was love at first site. I started trying to rate every book I’ve ever read, though I didn’t have time to review all of them. I didn't  get very far, because I’ve read so many that I can’t remember all of them, but also because I discovered the Giveaways tab. At first, I applied for every single book just because I wanted a bigger chance of winning. I started winning left and right, so I started refining it. I also started reviewing every book I read, and posting the reviews both on Goodreads and my blog. After winning many books and writing many reviews, I started getting contacted by self-published authors, and then it feels like out of nowhere I got contacted by Harper. They had noticed that I had won many books and were wondering if I’d be interested in reviewing some of their new releases. Of course I said yes, and so they started including me on their email out to other reviewers where I could pick usually about 3 of their upcoming books to review.
I don’t remember, but I may have gotten contacted for the first time from a publisher after applying and making it pretty far into the Goodreads Independent Book Blogger Awards contest.
Anyway, somehow after I started reviewing for one publisher, I started getting contacted by others. Then one of the original gals that had contacted me for Harper moved to Penguin and asked if she could still send me ARCs to review, and I said yes!

Yep. That’s about it. Lol. It’s not terribly exciting, but it did take a bit of work to get there. "

Recommended Read - City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first started this story, I figured this would be one of those books where I'd end up having to give it 3 or 4 stars for being a little too cliche and predictable - but there is a surprise at the end that even I didn't see coming, so it earned it's 5 stars!
Follow teen Clary as she discovers that not everything is at it seems, and her unwitting friend Simon who gets pulled into the mix as well. Set in current day but with a hint of the fantastical, this story is evenly paced and has a fun cast of characters, though some of them are a bit flat and uninteresting.
The beginning may be a bit tired and cliche, but I guarantee you that if you stick it out you may find that you fall in love with this book! I look forward to moving on to the next book in the series as soon as I can.

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Recommended Read - The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War IIThe Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Never has World War II been looked at in quite this way! Journey into the world of secrecy that surrounded the building and testing of the first atomic bomb, and discover the women that each played a part in bringing it to life. It reads as easily as fiction but holds the stunning truths of nonfiction, and connects us with our past and reminds us of where we might be headed in the future. The only part I didn't enjoy as much were the "commercial interruptions" between the true meat of the story - while I understand why the author included them, they were more of a nuisance to me than something enjoyable. Overall this is a great look at our history in a surprisingly easy to read format!

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Recommended Read - Ascend (Trylle #3) by Amanda Hocking

Ascend (Trylle #3)Ascend by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fitting end to a stunning masterpiece! Amanda Hocking shows her ever-growing style with this final book by creating an incredible series of events with characters that continue to delight readers. We find out that situations are not necessarily as simple as good vs evil, and develop a better awareness of all of the wonderfully developed characters. The pace is fast, the writing is fantastic, and this is a series I know I'll be recommending!

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