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Blogging Other

Book Blogger Interview Swap

As part of Book Blogger Apreciation Week I’m interviewing Suey from It’s All About Books.

Suey lives in Utah, USA. She focuses on YA books, but also enjoys reading a variety of different genres including science fiction, fantasy and literary fiction. She ran the famous Book Word Game and has a wonderful feature where authors pick the five books that have been the most influential in their lives. I recommend that you take a look at her lively blog.

The beautiful mountains near Suey's home

You’ve been blogging for over 5 years now. How has blogging changed your reading habits and which books have you read as a direct result of your blog?

Yes, five and a half years now! The biggest thing about my reading habits that blogging has changed is the amount of YA I read and enjoy now. My reading used to be mostly classics and literary fiction. Now, I read tons more (probably because you can finish YA books much faster!) and about half the books I read are YA. And while I enjoy these books a great deal, I’m quite sad that the classics have fallen by the wayside. I’m always making an effort to still fit them in, but wow… they suddenly got hard to read!

There are so many books that I’ve read as a direct result of the blog. How can even begin to name them?? :) Some recent ones would be: For Darkness Shows the Stars, The Scorpio Races, Code Name Verity, The Wise Man’s Fear, The House at Tynford… etc. I think I should look into this further and see what percentage of books I read are directly related to my blogging connections and what books I would have discovered anyway. That would be an interesting number to me!

I’d love to know that figure too! I think mine must be at least 50%, if not higher.

I see that you have children too. How old are they and which books have they especially enjoyed recently?

 

Suey and her family

I’ve got four kids; two boys and two girls. Sadly, the boys don’t love reading quite as much as the girls do. I guess this is a fairly normal thing? I don’t know. But my son, age 23, does love The Catcher in the Rye and for some reason can really relate to Holden Caulfield! I’ve tried to get him to read some John Green books this summer, thinking those are a bit in the same style, but he never seems to be able to stick with it.

My 20 year old daughter reads all sorts of YA like I enjoy. This summer she read Sara Zarr’s new book, How to Save a Life. She also manged to fit in The Hollow City by Dan Wells. She didn’t read as much this summer as she has in the past… there was a boy, you see.

Next is my 17 year old son. I thought he would love Ready Player One, but he didn’t make it through. He is in a phase of wanting “learning” books (ie. non fiction!) so I gave him a book I have called Discover Your Genius and he seems to be enjoying bits and pieces of that.

My 13 year old recently read and loved The Hunger Games series, and she loves the Pendragon series (by D.J. MacHale) and the princess books by Jessica Day George. Also this summer she’s been devouring the Wings series by Aprilynne Pike. She looks forward to the day when I’ll let her read Dan Well’s I Am Not a Serial Killer series. I’m feeling like she needs to be a bit older for those still!

Do you still work at a library? If so, what is the weirdest thing a customer has asked you?

The library where Suey works

Yes, I do still work at the library, but I work upstairs in the administration office as the administrative assistant’s assistant! So I don’t get much interaction with the patrons, though I do hear some funny stories quite a bit. However, one day a guy came upstairs into the office, hoping to get some community service hours. While he was waiting for the lady he needed to talk to, he started chatting with me. First all, you must know, he was wearing a kilt. We don’t see that much around here!  So we knew right off he was a little different. And then he said something about the weather and how hot it was and how he wasn’t used to that where he was from.  Of course, he wanted me to ask…”So where are you from?” … so I obliged. He proudly said Ireland! I said, “Oh, funny, I don’t hear one bit of an accent!” He said, well, that’s because he hated his accent and had taught himself in the last few years since he’d been in the US to hide it. And I said, weird, why would you want to do that? And he went off on some story, I can’t even remember now. But about that time I began to realize he was a pretty big nut case! And I wasn’t’ believing a word he said! When the lady he was waiting for came out, she mentioned his kilt and asked was he from such and such a clan? He said, “Oh, no…. these aren’t a clan plaid… I’ve been banned from my clan and can’t wear their plaid!” Oh boy… whatever! As he left, we could all barely contain our giggles until he got out of earshot! Sheesh? Hide your Irish accent? CRAZY!! Doesn’t he know that he’d have girls swooning at his feet? But… if you’d seen his feet (he was wearing flip flops with the kilt) I think maybe not after all! Oh… and then we suddenly realized… isn’t it in Scotland that they wear kilts? Hmmmm……

Are there any books published recently that you think deserve more attention? How about a fantastic older book that people no longer talk about?

The Hollow City

My friend and I decided we are on a campaign to make Dan Wells and his book The Hollow City, a New York Times bestseller. We are baffled that some writers of quite low caliber get so much attention, and then other awesome writers, such as Dan Wells, seem to fall between the cracks. I mean, he is getting to be more well known, but has yet to make it to that very prestigious club. An older book that I really loved and never hear anyone talking about is The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. Oh, I would love to re-read that book. And I wonder if very many people have read it and if they loved it too, or not.

I haven’t heard of The Hollow City, but you’ve sold it to me! I’ll keep an eye out for a copy. I have The Far Pavilions on my shelf. I bought it after I saw some very positive comments on a blog (I wonder if it was yours?) I’ll try to actually get it off the shelf and read it sometime soon.

What is your favourite book at the moment? Has that always been your favourite or do you regularly get new favourites?

The Hollow City

My favorite book at the moment continues to be The Book Thief. It’s held that place for several years now. Perhaps something will someday bump it from that spot, but my guess is, it will be another Markus Zusak book… if he ever gets another one done! :) But like all readers, I have several favorites…. several that I  hug to myself with much love. Other such books would be Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, The Grapes of Wrath, Life of Pi, Wives and Daughters… just to name a few.

Thanks to Suey for answering my questions.

You can see my answers to Suey’s questions over on her blog,  It’s All About Books

 

 

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Other

My Favourite Book Blogs

Today marks the start of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, a time when people from around the world come together to thank book bloggers for their hard work.

I follow nearly 300 different book blogs and although every one is special I’d like to draw attention to a few of my favourite blogs:

 

Leeswammes’ Blog

Judith is one of the key European bloggers. Her infectious enthusiasm and continual warmth have helped bring together a community of bloggers from around the world. She arranges a number of different events, including her ever expanding Literary Fiction Blog Hop. It helps that her reading taste is almost identical to mine, but even if it wasn’t I’m sure I’d still love her blog.

Jo V’s Book Pyramid

Jo writes the most amazing reviews. She combines facts about the author with maps and historical detail to give background for each book she reads. She also happens to have a reading taste almost identical to mine and so I trust her opinion entirely.

Life…With Books

Jenners is one of the few book bloggers able to make me laugh out loud on a regular basis. She effortlessly mixes humour with fantastic book reviews. I have followed her blog for over three years now and admire her consistent, entertaining content. She also has two of the cutest dogs in existence!

Tony’s Reading List

Tony is an Englishman living in Australia. He reads literature from around the world and is constantly drawing my attention to titles that would otherwise pass me by. He is going through an Icelandic phase at the moment – something I’m particularly enjoying.

Ready When You Are, CB

James is a teacher on the look out for great books for his children. He combines interesting discussions with reviews from a wide range of different areas. I’ve followed him for years, but his blog seems to be getting better all the time.

You’ve Gotta Read This!

Sandy’s blog was one of the first ones I ever discovered. Whilst others have come and gone Sandy’s blog has become a regular part of my day. I feel as though I know her now and always look forward to finding out what she’s up to and which books she recommends. She has a passion for audio books and is responsible for making me spend lots of money on them!

Book Monkey

Emma works as a bookseller for Waterstones and always seems to discover the best books first. Our tastes are so similar that some months our reading round-ups are almost the same!

Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

Caroline reads literature from a wide range of different countries. Her native languages are French and German so she has the benefit of being able to read books in several different languages. She is always introducing me to interesting books, both old and new.

The Little Reader Library

Lindsay is a UK blogger who reads an eclectic mix of genres. She often draws my attention to wonderful books from outside my usual literary bubble, persuading me to try lighter books every now and then. She also shares my love for giant fluffy dogs!

CaribousMom

Wendy is another blogger I have followed for many years. I have come to trust her literary fiction reviews to such an extent that she can be blamed for almost all the books I import from America!

Do you love these blog too?

Categories
Discussions Other

Why I no longer trust kindle ebook samples

In the last few years ebooks have taken off, rising 366% in the UK last year. One of the benefits of ebooks is the ability to try a sample before parting with your money. Unfortunately some authors seem to be making the most of this opportunity and I have noticed some changes in the content of fiction released recently. Grab your good books collection at Books First now.

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10% Cliffhangers

Amazon allow a reader to try 10% of a book before deciding whether or not to buy the rest. This has led some authors to deliberately create an exciting scene, ending with a breath-taking cliffhanger, at the 10% cut-off. Readers desperate to find out what happens next are therefore more likely to buy the rest. I have seen several mentions of this on Twitter, but admit that I haven’t noticed it much myself. This is perhaps because it is more likely to occur in thrillers, a genre I don’t read that often.

Photo Credit: ChristArt.com

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I can see why authors are tempted to do this. If you’d written a book and noticed that you had a suspenseful scene 15% of the way into your book, wouldn’t it be tempting to move it forward a bit in the hope it would encourage more people to buy it? Kindle samples are changing the structure of books and unless another major retailer comes into the market with a different sample cut off I can only see this sort of behaviour increasing.

Amazing First Chapters

One thing I have noticed is the increase in fantastic first chapters. Authors seem to be putting a disproportionate amount of effort into honing the beginning of their book and neglecting the rest. I find this really frustrating. It shows the quality the author is capable of producing; they tempt me with amazing writing and then fail to apply that same level of scrutiny to the rest of the book. I know authors have always put extra effort into the first line/page of their book, but now they seem to be extending this to the first 10% of the text and then, once the reader has purchased the rest, they fail to insert that magic spark to the other sections. This is such a shame as all pages of the book should be given the same level of attention. Authors shouldn’t be concentrating on a single purchase, they should ensure their entire book is as good as it can be. That way I’ll buy the next book they produce and recommend it to all my friends.

Once Burnt, Twice Shy

In the last few months I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve had to abandon after the quality of the middle section failed to match that of the start. I am now deeply suspicious of any book that has a suspenseful scene just before the 10% threshold and in future will try a random page in the centre to judge the quality of the writing.

Have you noticed any recent changes in the way books are written?

Do you trust ebook samples?

Categories
2012

The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

The Watch

Five words from the blurb: Afghanistan, woman, bravery, war, body

The Watch begins with an emotional chapter in which a lone woman approaches an American base in Afghanistan. Her only wish is to give her brother a proper burial, but the soldiers refuse to release his body. This leads to the beginning of her dangerous vigil on the barren soil outside the base.

This first chapter was beautifully written, perfectly capturing the woman’s desperation and bravery.

Some of my muscles are raw to the touch, like open wounds; others are dead to all sensation. The stumps of my legs have begun to bleed; only recently healed, the constant thrusting forward required by my journey has rubbed the sutures raw. I ignore the pain; I ignore everything except the fact of my being here. I tell myself that I am here because my heart is huge and my tenderness real. I am here to bury my brother according to the tenets of my faith. That is all there is to it.

Unfortunately everything went downhill from there. Subsequent chapters repeated the scene from the view point of different people within the army base, but this was unnecessary as the writing of the first chapter was so good I felt I knew their opinions already. This repetition meant that the majority of the book bored me. I longed for the story to be developed further, but instead it just seemed to go around in circles.

The American military personnel in this book were not portrayed in a favourable light – they swore continually, were rude, and had no consideration for local culture. I appreciated reading a book which showed the attitudes of the Afghani people, but I felt that the divide between American (evil) and Afghanis (good) was too strong – I’d have liked to see a few flawed characters on both sides.

The blurb informs me that this book is based on the myth of Antigone  – a story I know nothing about. I suspect that this meant most of the underlying symbolism went over my head and if you have a knowledge of Greek tragedies you’ll gain more from reading this book than I did.

This book contained some fantastic scenes, but overall I was a little disappointed. I’m sure I’ll remember the beginning and the end for a long time to come, but the middle section did little for me. Most people seem to appreciate it a lot more than I did so please read their reviews before deciding whether or not to give it a try.

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The thoughts of other bloggers:

Joydeep’s prowess in telling a story surpasses any other book that I have read this month. Of Books and Reading

Roy-Bhattacharya shows himself adept with descriptive prose and the build-up to the fire-fight is brilliantly realised. Just William’s Luck

It’s very challenging and not always easy to read in terms of the ideas and psychological complexity of its universe, but it’s a really incredible book. The Boston Bibliophile