Category Archives: Book Thoughts

Summer Reading – Reading On The North Shore (and giveaway!)

Recently I was at our cabin on the North Shore, right off Lake Superior.  It is a 3 1/2 hours from our home… a jaunt by any account but one that is worth it.  Once there – I am out of internet and cell phone range.  It usually winds up being quite the reading time.

 

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey, Summer Reading, Heather Gunderkauf, Little Mercies

 

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf was one of the books I enjoy during this last trip.  I have read Heather before and enjoyed her writing very much.  This latest book, makes for GOOD Summer Reading!  I picked the book up in the sunny afternoon and I did not stop until I closed the last page that evening.

 

Little Mercies, Heather Gudenkauf, summer reading, Sheila DeChantal

 

About Little Mercies

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences… 

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for. 

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another. 

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

 

I have an opportunity working with Harlequin, to offer to one commenter a chance to win a Little Mercies Bundle (*SQUUUEEEEE!*) The bundle includes: Little Mercies, The Weight Of Silence, and These Things Hidden.  Leave a comment here on what you like to get out of your Summer Reading (thrillers, fantasy, beach reads, lite lit…)

 

   Follow Heather Gudenkauf on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

·         Visit Little Mercies page on Goodreads

Post 3000!!! Giveaway and Book Discussion – Does An Online Book Presence Replace Face to Face Book Discussions?

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Well holy smokes!  This is my 3,000 post.  Is that not just crazy?  Certainly a monumental post like this can not go by without some sort of hoopla…. you know how I like to celebrate!  :)

This post actually falls into a spot I was planning to chat about on-line book relationships vs. face to face (ie. Book Clubs. reading groups, book studies…) and I am going to go ahead with it as I think it is a very worthy discussion for our friend, “Post 3000″.

Credit for the idea behind this post goes to Rita of My Home Of Books.  She recently wrote a post about book clubs and within her post she asked the question

If you have a solid on line presence with a large network surrounding your book related topics, do you find it necessary to also be in a book club?

 

This is the question that started me thinking, as I love my online discussions about books but I also love love my face to face book club and I personally would not want to give either up.  Them’s fightin’ words.

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But… that’s me.

What started me thinking was if an online presence around books can replace that face to face feeling.  I personally would hope that it would not need to, but as I have heard from many of you through the years, finding a face to face book group is not always easy to do.

If you are reading book blogs and reading books suggested, or have already read a book that is being discussed, do you then join in the discussion? 

I think if you are participating in active commenting on bookish topics you are simulating a “book discussion” and if that is all that is available to you for numerous reasons -

  • no book clubs available
  • inability to join a group do to work, kids, family, commitments
  • existing book club/group never seems to discuss the book

Then certainly – get your book on that way and YAY that you do!  There are a smorgasbord of book sites out there for everyone’s tastes and many times you can find your favorite publishing houses on Twitter and FACEBOOK (by all means Friend them – they have great conversations and many times they have giveaways too!)

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However…. (and this is where the discussion could get interesting ;) ) I personally feel that face to face book relationships can stimulate a deeper connection to people and to books. Let me explain:

While it can certainly be AWESOME to discuss a book on-line either gush worthy or “hated it!” It is hard to get the real emotion that went into the read to come out in an online discussion.  Sure, I can say a book made me cry – but how does that replace sitting in a room together and hearing my voice crack when I say ” __________________’s break up with __________________ made my sob as though it was happening to me.”

Also, on-line it is hard to keep the conversation flowing at a rate that is satisfying to either party.  Sure I (or anyone) can write a review and you can comment.  Then at some point later I many read your comment and respond, and sometime later yet you may (or maybe you don’t) come back, see my response and then you comment again.  It’s a bumpy conversation.

Book Journey

On line conversations can be a bit bumpy….

 

Obviously I love on-line book conversations or this post 3,000 (echo when you say it – its cool….. 3,000, 3,000, 3,000…) would not be happening.  And I love visiting other blogger book sites and chatting books with them too.  I also love face to face book encounters and would like to give suggestions of how you can make that happen or find a fit that works for you:

  1. The one I love the most is join a book club.  If you do not know of any, check your local library.  They may either know book clubs in the area, or they may be offering them at the library (ours offers children, middle grade, family and adult book clubs).  *In the event that you can not find a book club and your library does not know of any groups… start one.

  2. Look for local author events (check book stores, library, newspaper, look on-line).  Listening to an author can be a wonderful experience.  I love to get to know the person behind the book.  Grab a friend… go go go!!!

  3. If there is a great read out and you and a couple of people you know have read it, invite them over to discuss it over drinks on the deck, or meet up at a coffee shop or restaurant.   It does not have to be a “book club”, but even taking time to talk with others about a book you enjoyed is stimulating conversation.

 

Please – I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Do you think that on-line book relationships can replace face to face ones?

Do you feel some can effectively do it all – discuss on-line books topics well and face to face encounters too?  Should they?

Do you have other suggestions for finding face to face book discussions for people looking?

Is this just a crazy discussion and post #3,000 is a weak attempt to engage people in book chats?  ;)

 

Please share your thoughts – I did mention a giveaway – Leave a relevant comment here on this post between now and Thursday June 26th and I will enter you into a giveaway for a $10 Barnes and Noble or Amazon gift card – winners choice.  One entry per comment.   If you “Tweet” about this giveaway and post and put the tweet link in a comment space I will give you two additional entries.

(just click the “Tweet” button at the bottom of the post.)

 

Faces On Book Covers… Like Or Dislike?

Sheila Book Journey Faces On Book Covers

Today I was at an author event where the author was discussing his book covers.  He actually had some fascinating thoughts on them (more on that in tomorrow’s post) but one thing he mentioned stood out to  me.  He has a cover with a little girl on a tricycle peddling away so you do not see her face, he said he had her riding away as when you see the face on a cover it gives you an image of what the character looks like and he feels that should be part of the reading experience; to create the character in your mind.

 

Part of the reading experience should be to create the character in your mind.

 

Ooh…. I like that.

 

I have always had a sort of dislike for covers that have a picture of the characters on them.  Why?  Because that image is now in my head as I read the book. The girl (or boy) on the cover is now who is running through the pages which is fine if it is a move cover as we already have the character defined for us by the big box… but not for the original pre-movie (or no-movie) book.

 

Faces on covers Sheila Book Journey A Crooked Number Nathan Jorgenson Vampire Academy Richelle Mead

Ok so above – is my example.  To the left, is the book I mentioned from the author today.  It is an engaging cover and I like it… I want to know where she is going, or where she has went, or who has taken her…. the only thing that would bother me here is if the girl in the book has long flowing BLOND hair, or if her hair is short, unlike the cover.  To the right, is Vampire Academy.  Nothing against the book… but this girl on the cover makes me think of an older girl than the protagonist in the book.

There have been books I have read that the character inside the book is NOTHING like the cover picture and I can not even tell you how bat sh** crazy that makes me.  I seriously flip from the cover to the page I am reading to the cover again… if the girl (or boy) on the cover is not the one described in the book, then who is she or he?

 

There is one instance that comes to mind from a few years back where the cover actually caused an all out battle.  Seriously… anyone remember LIAR?

 

LIAR Justine Larbalestier Sheila Book Journey Black White

 

LIAR is the story of Micah who is well… a liar.  And I will say she is!  Or at least the people who made the cover are, because Micah, is an African-American girl… not at all the one in the cover.  There is a HUGE story behind this cover and there was a refusal by bloggers to review the book as they were all so upset that the publishing company went with a white girl on the cover.  Seriously…. this is a whole other story so Google it someday, but the ending result of this battle was:

 

 

LIAR Justine Larbalestier Sheila Book Journey Black White

Yup.  Seriously amazing… and all of this could have been avoided.

I really prefer non-face covers.  Give me a lake setting, a boat, abandoned car, a road, a house, even people way in the background so you can not really make them out… you name it… I can pretty much work with it… all of these lead me into the story…

 

“Who lives there?”

 

“Where are they going?”

 

What is going to happen?

 

What are your thoughts on book covers?  Preferences? Do you mind faces on book covers?  How do you feel when the cover does not match the story?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT Constitutes a SPOILER?

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Recently while reading a review, the writer had mentioned a surprising twist towards the end of the read that changed their thoughts on the book.  I am certain that in my review of this same book, I too mentioned a twist towards the end that really threw me for a loop. It had been a discussion on Twitter that saying there is a “twist”, is sort of a spoiler to the reader of the review who has not yet read the book.

 

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I am reminded of Season Two Downton Abby.  For those who may not know, this is a British tv show on PBS that has caught the attention of many… addicting for sure… and that is not a spoiler… I don’t think.  ;)  Anyway, a friend of mine who had finished the second season before I had, eluded to a big SHOCK that would be devastating once I knew it.  I remember from that point on each episode I watched I was waiting for it…. wondering, is that the big shock?  Is that?  When will it happen?  Who will it involve?  It may be safe to say that knowing something big was coming did take a way a bit of the experience as I was waiting for the BIG THING.

 

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I can see how saying there is a shock, or a twist can lead to the reader waiting for that moment to happen – but I think it also builds up the read.  When I mention that a book shocked me or a twist really impressed me as I had no clue, to me, that builds value in the read.  If a reviewer I enjoy says something like this, it draws me closer to the book… the mention of a surprise makes me want to know… “Wow, what happens?

 

So the question before us is… is it?  Is it a spoiler to a book if we discuss that there is a twist at the end, or a change that happens that totally changed the way we felt about the book.

Also…  how do you define what a SPOILER is?  As Grace from Books Without Any Pictures recently (and brilliantly) said in a historical fiction review, “is it a spoiler if it actually happened?”

 

Location… Location… Location…. Does It Matter?

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Fellow readers… we can talk right?  We have that “love for books thing” in common, and if I may be so bold… we do enjoy hunkering down to a really good read.  Now while traditions and props may differ almost like a set up for a game of Clue…. 

In the recliner, favorite blanket, bowl of popcorn

on the deck, in the sun, large glass of iced tea

at the library, in a sunny window, feet propped at a 30 degree angle

in the living room, on the couch, surrounded by cheese,crackers,grapes and a glass of wine…

we can probably all agree that not much compares to digging into that book that fully takes you inside the story line… blood, sweat and tears… you are ALL IN.

Which brings me to my point….

If a book is not clear about where it is locally centered, is that a bump in the read for you?  If you do not know if you are reading about a smoldering California summer or a wintry bout in Alaska… does the book miss something?

I ask because I fall into the I want to know category.  I like to know where I am reading, it is a part of my level of involvement with the book, placing me into a deeper sense of knowing where I am and what that might feel like.  In some books, location is such a large part of the book, it almost becomes a character in itself…

Even dystopian reads can give you a feel for where you are, even if the world is no longer as know it… take Hunger Games for instance.

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I love this visual of what the districts look like and what states they encompass.

And even though I do prefer knowing States or countries, I am even ok with an area being described as, “in the south” or “way up North”, at least that gives me something.  Although I do love the brave authors that put us right into a city and state ;) )

For todays bookish topic of discussion I am curious if this love of knowing where I am at geographically is more of a “yeah that’s just you Sheila”, or is it a “I agree, I like to know where I am in a book”.

And since this is the topic at hand (or at keyboard)….

chalk board 3

 

When Paper Hits The Road ( a moment of heartbreak)

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My heart lays heavy.

Recently I was asked if I would be interested in being a part of a new group of readers in the area that would preview books to see that they are appropriate for middle grade and teenage children.  I liked the thought of that, I have done some of this proofing for friends in the past.  As the information unfolded I discovered that this group would work at having books that they decided were deemed unsatisfactory for young eyes to be removed from the schools.

:shock:

Visions of book burning swam before my eyes.  This is when I realized there is a difference between book lovers, lovers of the written word – and readers.

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There was a particular book that was already being sought out for removal I was told.  A book filled with inappropriate language. I started to think what YA book could have caused such a stir… was it Hunger Games, Twilight, certainly we have moved beyond Harry Potter by now….

and then I was told the book’s title,

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

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At this point my heart fell.  Steinbeck.  A Classic. Banned Books. Censorship.

I called a friend, a fellow book lover and someone I know who takes great care with what she has her children read (ages 7 – 14) to ask her thoughts on this and she was shocked.  She said what I needed to hear at that moment, that it is up to us as parents of our younger children to help them choose books and to help them understand when a book may not be a fit for them due to language, sexual content…  or EVEN why a book was written that way – perhaps it was the time period…. The answer is not to take the books away…

the answer is not censorship.

Of course, Of Mice and Men is not new to this battle.  Published in 1937, this book is one of the most challenged books of the 21st century due to the vulgarity,offensive, and racist language  within its pages.   And while I am not a fan of the language – the story does cover such topics as friendship and bullying – BULLYING. A topic that is huge today.

Please chime in on this one.  I would love to know your thoughts. 

Book Club People – How Do You Choose Your Books?

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Recently I was reading an awesome post of Elizabeth’s at Silvers Reviews and she was talking about book club books.  She was saying that her book club puts book choices for a year in to a bowl and each month they draw out of the bowl and choose their next read.  She said this kept people from becoming hurt if their book was not chosen as everyone has a title in the bowl.

For us (The Bookies!)  We have had a tried and true system that I really enjoy since we began in 2001. We encourage each person to bring a book suggestions with them to the group.  When it is time to pick we go around and everyone who brought a suggestion gets a chance to give a little description of the book.  We ask that it follows this criteria:

  1. It should be a newer release (unless it is classic month) as there are 18 of us and we have to find copies

  2. It can be paperback or hard cover as long as it is under $15

  3. If you can share where to find it and at what cost that is a plus (such as “the library has 4 copies in book and also an audio version” or “Target currently has this one for $8.99 and there are about 12 copies available.”

 

When the nominees are in we go around the room and we each have two votes.  The two votes stems back to when we were a very small group and we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; the two vote thing sticks to this day. :)

The book with the most votes is what we read for the next month.  In the event of a tie, the decision goes to the Queen (oh and that is another post entirely….hee hee)

I like our system as we are not eliminating the possibility of choosing a book that just came out or to our attention.

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If you are in a book club or reading group, how do you choose what you will be reading?  It seems like every one I talk to has a different way of doing it and I am fascinated by all the ideas out there. 

Please share here how your book club picks its books :D

Is It Just Me or Are Some Book Pitches Getting a Little Crazy?

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As book bloggers, book reviewers, book chatters… whatever you want to call us, it seems if you do this any amount of time you will get book pitches.  A book pitch is when an author or publisher or book tour company emails you and gives you the synopsis of the book hoping that you will like what you see and agree to read and review it.

Oh…. if only it were that easy!  I have a separate email for all my book related email due to the fact that at times it can really be overwhelming when you are receiving many pitches in a day and you are trying to pick out what you would like to read and then review. 

Lately, I have seen a new type of book coming through my email and I curious about what you think about these.  What I am referring to is a book that starts out sounding interesting, say the book is about a college graduate, (ok, so far so good) and she is on her way to intern as an assassin under her uncles care (ummm… ok, different but I am still reading)… she is taking with her the household pet, a duck named Killer, and hopefully leaving behind the guy who makes her heart skip a beat, Jamal the tap dancing Eskimo who only speaks in haiku (and… I’m out.)

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It is like they start out sounding like they have potential and by the time I am done reading the synopsis my eyes are wide in disbelief and I can not believe how far-fetched the book being pitched has become.  I mean, seriously???  Does this sell?  Is it just me who can’t stretch that far?  I mean, I don’t know maybe I am missing out, these are not all  coming from self published authors either but Publishing houses.

I wouldn’t even bring this up if it was a one time email but I have had a few of these recently… good start to the book synopsis and then it is like they went all Jerry Springer on me and I am wondering if there is a “baby daddy” involved and looking over my shoulder for tattooed tutu wearing midget’s playing banjo’s.

My point here…. is it me?  Are you receiving these as well? 

Thoughts?  Please share.  :razz:

January Recap and WHERE Are You Reading Link Up

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January was a great month here at Book Journey for books and audio.  It has been a long time since I have had such a good month.  I end with this last day of January with 12 reads completed and reviewed,  Here is what they were:

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The Road by Cormac McCarthyckson

Between The Lines by Jodi Piccoult

In The Belly Of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

Gods In Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

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Will To Murder by Gail Feichting

Ashes by Ilsa Bick

The Gilly Sisters by Tiffany Baker

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

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GONE by Randy Wayne White

Murder Of The Century by Paul Collins

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Born This Way by Paul Vitagliano

For best of the month, I would say do not pass on Gods In Alabama, The Gilly Salt Sisters and Level 2.

Here is my WHERE I have been reading so far this year.  If you are participating in the WHERE Are You Reading Challenge, please add your recap post to the linky below:

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

 

Have you read any of these books?  What was your best reads of January?

Audio Books – Abridged or Unabridged Whats the Difference?

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Recently Alyce at At Home With Books had in a post how she accidentally listened to an abridged audio of a book.  “Whew” I thought,” I am not always good at checking the packaging but that has never happened to me.”

I have been listening to On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah and just being annoyed to no end with it.  Fellow book lovers who know I am listening to it were saying, “Ooh that is such a good one” and I kept thinking, “Really?  You have got to be kidding me.”

SO what’s my problem with it….

Well for one it moves at a ridiculous speed, as in long-lost friends go from grieving a friend and wife to flat-out RELATIONSHIP in one encounter.  The whole audio is moving so quickly I am feeling there is no character development…

(you can probably see where I am going here…)

Then today I was driving into work and yet another thing happened  while I was listening to this audio, it felt like it skipped an entire section.  One moment she is sharing a big happening in her life while they are in bed, and the next sentence it is days later.  And then… like a very dim light bulb, I started to get it.  I reached for the packaging and sure enough ….

abridged.

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WHAMMY.

Double whammy actually because I just told Alyce what a rock star I was and that had never happened to me….

*headsmack*

So…. that brings me to this post.  Why do they make abridged audio?  To me it is like picking up the Cliff Notes to a book…. you get the basic idea enough to talk about the book (sort of) but you don’t get the heart of it. 

When I looked up information today on abridged books it said they were created for publishers to be able to offer the book at a lesser price.  But are they really offering you the book?  Or… are they metaphorically ripping out the middle of the books pages and handing you a copy saying, “Here you go, fresh off the bargain table!”  :razz:

I am truly clueless here and not at all trying to diss the abridged audio put out there or those who create them or listen to them.  Obviously there is a reason I am not picking up on .

I am curious about your thoughts on this.  Do you read abridged books and if so, what benefits do you find to them?  Is listening to an abridged book the equivalent of Cliff Notes? 

Thank you Alyce, for inspiring this post. :D  If you had not recently talked about this on your blog, I would probably still be ranting about this audio. 

* I have also noticed that the other Kristin Hannah I have unopened in the car ready to listen to next… is also abridged.  *sigh*

 

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