December 31, 2016

All Romance eBooks Closing - Back Up Your Library Now!

All Romance eBooks (ARe)/OmniLit was one of the bigger ebook stores. It specialized in romance (obviously) and offered buy-10-get-1-free codes as well as a rebate system of eBook Bucks. I bought many a book there over the years (and downloaded more from their extensive collection of free books).

Normally I'd be saddened by another ebook retailer shutting their website down, but ARe is doing it in a particularly scummy way, as detailed over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Thus, I'm angry instead.

This is a notice that if you've ever bought anything there, you need to back up your library now. You have less than 24 hours, because the site shuts down permanently at midnight CST tonight.

I try to diversify from Amazon, but it can be so hard, can't it?

December 24, 2016

Bookish Gifts for Terrible Shoppers

If you don't have your Christmas shopping done, you're in a bit of a pickle. You're mostly stuck with e-gift cards. However, there's a few deals on gift cards of the bookish sort:

Litographics has 15% off their gift cards, today only. Use code GIFT15. These cards are nice because you can give the exact amount for one of their products.

Out of Print gift cards are 30% off through Christmas with the code EGIFT30.

Amazon also has a couple of useful deals. The 12-month Kindle Unlimited subscription is on sale for 25% off. Prime Now has free delivery through midnight tonight. No dealing with the grocery store rush if you forgot eggs!

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December 19, 2016

Movie Monday: Rogue One

I've been excited about Rogue One coming out, although not as excited as I would be for Episode VIII. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this side adventure.

Jyn (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of weapons designer for the Empire. He doesn't believe in the cause, but it's build or die. His brief rebellion did manage to get his daughter out of the control of the Empire, so they couldn't use her as a hostage against him. When he convinces a pilot to defect with news of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance contacts Jyn because she can help them confirm the tale.

What follows is a story that ranges over several planets as a rag-tag team of fighters attempts to prove that the Death Star exists and can be stopped.

While The Force Awakens assembled a cast of mostly unknown actors, Rogue One goes for more familiar faces like Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, and Donnie Yen. I like those actors, and don't think their higher profile distracted from their story. They faded into their roles quite well. I did enjoy that Rogue One allowed the actors to keep their accents instead of having everyone use an American or English accent.

Rogue One is darker than most Star Wars movies. It shows the side of the Rebel Alliance that veers into terrorist attacks. And the ending is more hopeful than happy. While my dad and I enjoyed the film together, Rogue One is not the best choice for families with smaller children. I don't think it's inappropriate for kids; just be prepared for potential discussion (or calming down upset kiddos) afterward. I think the ending fit the film, but it definitely takes a new tone for the universe. This one is more Empire than Return of the Jedi.

I've seen mixed reviews online, but both my dad and I enjoyed Rogue One. As always, I believe the best way to make a decision is to see something for yourself.

December 15, 2016

Review: The Hidden Oracle

The Hidden Oracle Book one of The Trials of Apollo
By Rick Riordan
Available now from Disney Hyperion
Review copy

Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson novels are great examples of children's books that can be fun for all ages. They're action packed and extra fun for anyone who enjoys spotting classical allusions. I feel like he's been growing as an author through each series, developing more complex plots and keeping his prose accessible but interesting. He's also made an impressive effort to diversify his books. For example, his Apollo is as casually bisexual as the god was in myth.

Apollo has been cast out of Olympus and into a mortal body by his father, Zeus. He must find a demigod to serve until he earns forgiveness. He ends up with Meg, a young homeless girl who is surprisingly capable. While THE HIDDEN ORACLE is best read by those familiar with previous books by Riordan, it is the start of a new series and puts the new characters front and center. Percy shows up a few times and Nico is present at Camp Half-Blood, but neither are that involved in the plot. There's also a stark contrast between Apollo and previous narrators, which gives THE HIDDEN ORACLE its own distinct feel.

I found Apollo's terrifically self-absorbed narration hilarious. Apollo is all about Apollo, and desperately trying to act as if getting knocked down a peg hasn't thrown him for a loop. And his centuries of experience aren't as helpful as they could be since he only has a mortal brain to rely on now (and let's face it, hasn't practiced thinking clearly and quickly in awhile). I found his character development a bit quick, but it is necessary to Apollo being useful. (And as much as he improves in THE HIDDEN ORACLE, he's got a long way to go.)

Meg is not just a sidekick. She's scrappy and clever, two things that are sure to appeal to many readers. And despite the fun, breezy tone of the novel, she's dealing with a rough past. I wasn't surprised by the reveal of her home life with her stepfather, but I'm sure it might be the first time some younger readers discover a story about how someone who seems to love you can hurt you. It's written with great empathy, and in a manner appropriate for the target audience.

This is one of those books where I finished and instantly looked up when the next book is coming out. Unfortunately, the answer is May. I'll have to wait until then to read THE DARK PROPHECY. I'll definitely be there to see what happens to Apollo, Meg, and a couple of surprise returning characters. This is an extremely promising start, and the Trials of Apollo could be the best part of the Percy Jackson universe yet.

December 13, 2016

Review: The Fate of the Tearling

The Fate of the Tearling Book three of the Queen of the Tearling trilogy
By Erika Johansen
Available now from Harper (HarperCollins)
Review copy

I am happy I began this trilogy when all three books were out, since this is the sort of series best read at a breathless clip, eager to find out what happens next. I'm certainly happy that I didn't have to stop at THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING, with Kelsea a prisoner.

The first book set up a fascinating world filled with danger in every corner, and the odd reminder every once in awhile that it was not a fantasy world, but a far future version of our world. The second book delved deeper into this by having Kelsea relive memories of Lily, a woman living at the time of the Crossing, the end of a dystopic period that gave rise to the country of the Tearling. I wasn't a fan of this method of revealing secrets of the Tearling's past, because I prefer fantasy to dystopian fiction, and there was a strong theme of reincarnation, which I've also never been a fan of.

THE FATE OF THE TEARLING, unfortunately, takes this thread up and runs with it, introducing even more past characters to reveal the secrets of Kelsea's sapphires, the Fetch, and the man in the fire. I admire how thoroughly Erika Johansen seeded her surreal twist in the story. THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING never hides that it is supposed to be our world, and the mystery of why it had to be set in our world when it didn't seem to fit was one I wanted answered. I simply preferred the more fantastical setting and the characters from the contemporary period of the novel, so I was sad to see the focus shift away from them.

In THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING, Kelsea was teetering on the brink of her worst instincts, her temper and the burgeoning war giving her a chance to indulge in cruelty instead of being the purely altruistic ruler she wanted to be. I found her corruption interesting, and felt that her arc was not entirely satisfying. For a series that focused much on the consequences of the characters' actions, Kelsea gets to sidestep the consequences of her own worst decision. I'm glad that things ended happily, against all hope, but the solution felt more like cheating than the hard-earned triumph Kelsea deserved.

While the ending didn't bring it home for me, I thought this trilogy was an incredibly fun read and it was full of characters I fell in love with. Lazarus, Kelsea's chosen regent and her most trusted man, was a personal favorite. He's a tough, hard-bitten man who couldn't be more obvious about how much he was searching for hope and someone to believe in. And I loved Father Tyler, an old priest who has a good heart and loves books and becomes the possessor of an important MacGuffin in THE FATE OF THE TEARLING.

I can see the populace of the Tearling having lives beyond where they intersect with Kelsea's journey, because Johansen wrote them with such nuance. Even the evil Red Queen, who has had her sympathetic moments from book one, gets to be more than evil even as she's moved into the position of the taunting captor.

I'm excited about whatever Johansen's next venture might be, especially if she decides to go for pure high fantasy. I can appreciate how she experimented with genre, even if the end effect wasn't for me.


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