Stacking the Shelves (78)

Stacking the Shelves

Someone blogged a couple of weeks ago about the temptation to get ARCs, resisting the temptation, and feeling overwhelmed by the number of review copies in one’s TBR stack versus the number of books one actually wanted to read, but wasn’t committed to. (And now I can’t find it!)

I know I get more books than I can reasonably read in a week, month, or possibly year. But I only get eARCs unless I have a firm commitment to review a particular title. (Library Journal sends print ARCs, but they also send a deadline)

It’s about having LOTS to choose from. Which seems contradictory, because I usually end up reading books based on what tours I have scheduled. But I only pick tours or eARCs that I think I will like (we all get disappointed occasionally!)

So how do you feel about the size of your TBR? Does it weigh you down, or is it just a fact of life? Or perhaps you revel in it, just a bit?

For Review:
Always On My Mind (Sullivans #8) by Bella Andre
At Star’s End (Phoenix Adventures #1) by Anna Hackett
Dead Americans and Other Stories by Ben Peek
The Fan Fiction Studies Reader edited by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse
The Forever Watch by David Ramirez
Good Together (Carrigans of the Circle C #1) by CJ Carmichael
It’s Always Been You (Coming Home #5) by Jessica Scott
Love Game (Matchmaker #3) by Elise Sax
A Plunder of Souls (Thieftaker Chronicles #3) by D.B. Jackson
The Retribution by Anderson Harp
Taken with You (Kowalski Family #8) by Shannon Stacey
The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa
Trinity Stones (Angelorum Twelve Chronicles #1) by L.G. O’Connor
Wicked Temptation (Nemesis Unlimited #3) by Zoe Archer

Borrowed from the Library:
Fables: Snow White (Fables #19) by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham

Guest Review: Stung by Bethany Wiggins

[Cover of Stung by Bethany Wiggins]Format read: ARC provided by publisher
Formats available: hardcover
Genre: Young adult science fiction
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Walker and Company
Date Released: April 2, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered–her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist–a black oval with five marks on either side–that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she’s right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. Only the solution was deadlier than the original problem–the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts who were branded as a warning to un-vaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected from disease and beasts inside a fortress-like wall. But Fiona has awakened branded, alone-and on the wrong side of the wall…

Fiona Tarsis goes to sleep in a world much like our own, just with fewer bees.  When she wakes up, she’s immediately faced with what that world has turned into, and she is taken on a wild ride.

The decline in bee populations is a real problem; losing major pollinator species means fewer plants and crops, which in turn could have a significant ripple effect on human society.  In Stung, however, attempts to solve that problem have backfired spectacularly: people who received a bee-flu vaccination turned into the equivalent of werewolves–with no way to return to normal.  (How does one get from bees disappearing to bee flu?  Let’s just say that it’s not a good idea to short-circuit the scientific peer review process.  It’s also not a good idea to keep digging, once you’ve found yourself in a hole.)

Fiona wakes up knowing only that she must hide her tattoo and that she’s still thirteen.  The latter “fact” is quickly proven false–four years have passed since the culmination of the disaster–and she must survive long enough to figure out what’s going on.  Fortunately, she soon runs into a young militiaman named Bowen, and with his help starts to learn more about herself and her world.

Escape Rating B-:  At the exhibits hall of any American Library Association conference, advance reading copies are generally easy to pick up.  In this case, it was particularly easy: the ARC was literally thrust upon me.

It’s easy to see why the the publicist in the booth was collaring passers-by.  Stung is a fast-paced, engaging read.  The author does a good job dropping Fiona and the reader into an uncertain situation and providing enough information to keep the pages turning while not giving the game away too soon.  In fact, Wiggins has written one of the better amnesiac openings I’ve read in some time.

Fiona is a sympathetic viewpoint character.  Although her upbringing was middle-class and sheltered, she’s not completely helpless in the rough circumstances that face her.  She can shoot quite well (a legacy from her father’s training), she’s smart, and she eventually finds out that the vaccination has given her some advantages in tight spots.

In Bowen she finds a connection to the pre-apocalyptic world and a source of romantic tension.  As it turns out, if you go to sleep at 13 and wake up at 17… you don’t still don’t get to skip puberty.

Unfortunately, for all her general competence, Fiona still needs rescuing at the end.  While Fiona herself is not unhappy with how things turn out–and Bowen serves nicely as a rescuing knight–I finished the book wishing that Fiona had had a little more control by the end.  Also, the main villain had a little too much cardboard in his makeup for my test.

The last page of the book leaves the door open to a sequel; if one is written, I hope that Fiona avoids the trap of becoming little more than a symbol of better days to come.  That said, I do hope that Wiggins continues the tale.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

ARCs, Stacks and Hauls

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

The quote is from Desiderius Erasmus. How totally appropriate, but also one I’ve lived by long before I knew it existed. My mom would tell you I spent my allowance on books when I was a kid. And generally owed her future allowances.

I’ve always collected books. More books than I could read at any given point in time. I love having the choice of what to read next. It’s not the object, it’s the content. Ebooks suit me just fine for most things, and they take up less space. This is a big deal when you move as often as we do, and when you own as many “dead tree” books as we do.

Still over 2,000. We haven’t even unpacked them all from the last move. In December.

About ARCs. I’ve worked in libraries that received ARCs in lots of different ways. One of my former places of work (FPOW) was in a major metropolitan area. The city newspaper still had a significant book section on Sundays, and received books for review. The newspaper donated their review copies to the library. About once a month we received an industrial pallet-load of books, mixed ARCs and “real” books. The “real” books often went into the collection. But the ARCs, never. Staff had the pick of the ARCs for collection development, reading copies, whatever we liked. But they were never put in the collection. If you are wondering what the newspaper got out of this arrangement, they got a tax write-off.

Other libraries I have worked at do sell ARCs at book sales, or they end up in the Friends of the Library book sales. I haven’t worked at a library that has put them in the collection, but I know it happens.

But what does any of this have to do with ARCs now? I can hear the question from here. The recent #ARCgate mess brought up a lot of questions and it made me think about the present and future of ARCs in general, and what any mailbox-type post looks like in particular.

I do get a lot of ARCs. More in one week than I can read in a week. I’ve always picked up more books in a week than I could read that week. The difference now is that I’m getting a lot of eARCs instead of deliveries from Amazon and B&N or borrowing books from the library.

But the ARC “stack” can look like a book haul, and that isn’t the purpose of it for me. I choose eARCs because eARCs are a win/win. My eARC does not automatically deny any other reviewer the same eARC. That’s the beauty of NetGalley and Edelweiss. No print, no postage, not necessarily a limited number of ARCs the way that a print run by its very nature limits the number of ARCs.

And no print ARCs left on my shelves at the end that I’m not quite sure what to do with. Because the last thing my house needs is more print books. One of the clear messages of the whole ARCgate mess is that what you should do with your ARCs after you’re finished is very, well, unclear.

What I’m curious about, dear readers, is how you feel when you see mailbox-type posts on book blogs. Do you see them as the blogger doing a bit to promote books that she or he might not have time to review? Do you see them as bragging? Do you find them useful for adding to your own TBR pile? Do you care?

Please share your thoughts! I’ve been having a serious re-think on this topic after ARCgate, and I’d love to hear from you.