Sixth Annual Blogo-Birthday Blast

On April 4, 2011, Reading Reality, as “Escape Reality, Read Fiction”, posted its first post. 2011 seems like the proverbial long time ago in the galaxy far, far away. Although it wasn’t THAT far away. At the time, we were living in Gainesville, Florida, and planning a move to Atlanta. Our first move to Atlanta.

Between 2011 and now, we moved to Seattle for a couple of years, and then right back here to the Atlanta suburbs. We even live in the same burb we lived in back then, just at a different address. It’s still near Galen’s work, and now mine as well. And we’re both immensely glad not to need to take the Atlanta not-so-Expressways to work every day, especially after that disastrous fire and collapse on I-85 last week. It’s going to take a long time to clean up that gigantic mess.

As much as we like living here, one of the big things I miss about both Chicago and Seattle is their efficient public transit systems. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for the Atlanta region, but I doubt it. We’ll see.

But this isn’t a traffic blog, or an Atlanta living blog. It’s a book blog. Six years and counting.

In those six years there have been over 2,500 posts, most of them reviews. And over 17,000 comments. I know I need to do way better at responding to comments. Ironically, I usually know just what to say when I’m reviewing a book, but still come over self-conscious when responding to an individual. We all have our quirks.

But speaking of reviews, this week I decided as a present to myself (my birthday is tomorrow) that  I would only review books I really, really wanted to read. So it’s all science fiction and fantasy this week, because those are still my go-to genres. Both The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek have a lot to answer for when it comes to my reading preference.

And, in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings, this is a hobbit birthday. Meaning that instead of getting presents, I will be giving out presents this week to you, my readers, followers and friends. I hope that you enjoy the books and gift cards every bit as much as I have enjoyed writing this blog.

Live long, and prosper! And read LOTS of books!

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Showers of Books Giveaway Hop

showers of books giveaway hop

Welcome to the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by BookHounds!

The hop theme may be “showers of books” but there certainly have been showers of giveaways this April. Maybe everyone is looking for something to do while those April showers are falling. Curling up with a good book and a purring cat seems like the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. An idea that I’m sure all of my cats can get behind. Or sit on top of.

I am frequently visited by actual showers of books. As a member of one of the book awards committees for the American Library Association, I receive between 1,000 and 1,500 books per year. These are all print books, often hardcovers, and are almost never ARCs. And this doesn’t include the books I buy, or the ones I receive for blog tours.

books to be soldWhile this sounds, and frequently is, wonderful, it also qualifies as an embarrassment of riches. As you can see from the picture at right.  I have been on a continual quest to find a place to sell my books, wherever we have lived.

My problem is that I really, Really, REALLY want to sell the books for cash. Not just because they are new books that have been read maybe once, but because there are always more coming in. I expect five more book boxes on Friday, and that’s just one day. Much as I love to read, I need store credit from a used book store like I need the proverbial “hole in the head”.

Seattle had three terrific options for disposing of my slightly used books: Third Place Books, University Book Store, and Half-Price Books. Since we moved to Atlanta, I’ve been searching for some place similar, but to no avail until now. Half-Price Books is opening a store in the Atlanta area next month, and the pile in the picture will be taken there the minute the place opens for buying.

I’m not going to miss those trips north (the nearest HPB until now was in Lexington KY) to sell the pile. We would load the trunk of our car all the way to the sight-line, and hope that we didn’t hit any sudden stops. The one time we did, the weight of all the books pushing forward released the back seat seat back controls, and the books all came flying into the front of the car. We were finding books under the seats for months. Not an experience we’ll have to repeat.

So what do you do with the books that you are ready to let go of? I’ve always had some books that were keepers, and others that were definitely “read once and done”. When you’ve really, truly finished with a book, or when you have to reduce your collection, what do you with the ones you let go?

Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at a $10 Gift Card from Amazon or B&N, or a $10 Book from the Book Depository. (You must be in a country that Book Depository ships to. The list is enormous but not exhaustive.)

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And for more chances at more great bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop:



Fifth Annual Blogo-Birthday Blast

Blogo-BirthdayThe teddy bear and I welcome you to my fifth annual Blogo-Birthday celebration! I still have the original bear somewhere in the house. I’m sure he’s holding down a bookshelf somewhere, as he should be.

booksbear.jpg

Today is Reading Reality’s 5th birthday. Tomorrow is my 50-something birthday. Here on the blog, I celebrate birthdays Hobbit-style, meaning that I give away presents instead of getting presents. Today’s prize is a $15 Gift Card or a book of the winner’s choice, up to $15 in value, shipped by the lovely folks at The Book Depository. The rest of the week I’ll be giving books away, either courtesy of the publishers, the authors or my own self. There should be something to tickle every reader’s fancy.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 whole years since I started this blog. And also the fact that none of this technology was even a gleam in an inventor’s eye when I was born, 50-something years ago tomorrow.

I helped build my first PC from a kit in 1979. The joke was that the first program most people wrote for their new computers was a program to calculate the payment schedule. Home computers were very much a niche item, and they weren’t cheap. The other joke was that one’s dream computer cost around $5000, and it probably still does. But we’re able to dream a lot bigger when it comes to computers than we used to be. And $5,000 isn’t what it used to be either.

I’ve written a lot of posts in 5 years, and a lot of book reviews. There have been over 2,000 posts on Reading Reality in 5 years, most of them written by yours truly. While I’m sure there’s a word counter somewhere in the Jetpack Site Stats, I’m not sure I want to know. There have been not quite 13,000 comments in 5 years. And over 120,000 page views. I’m not sure whether this is a “time flies when you’re having fun” kind of comment, or something about how big the numbers get if you just leave them alone awhile to multiply. It’s still staggering.

My best day, at least so far, was November 15, 2015. The Gratitude Giveaways Hop had just started, and that brought in oodles of traffic. My best month, at least since I got Jetpack, was January 2016. Hopefully there will be even better days in the year ahead. No matter how the stats add up, there’s no statistic that measures just how much fun it is to write every day, and how much joy (and occasional frustration) I’ve gotten from all the books I’ve read and all the comments I’ve received.

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. Stay tuned for more exciting adventures and fun books in the year ahead!

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Fool for Books Giveaway Hop

fool for books giveaway hop

That time has come around again. Happy April Fools’ Day and welcome to the Fool for Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by BookHounds.

I have always been a fool for books. Exactly which books has changed over the years, but I have always loved losing myself in a good book. Or sometimes even a bad book! I suspect that most of us who either read or write book blogs have experienced that sensation over and over again, the one where the world around us completely disappears and we enter the world of the book we are reading. Sometimes only to emerge after the last page is turned, wishing that we didn’t have to ever leave.

And sometimes reaching for the next book in a series, because we can’t stand not knowing what happens next to people that we have come to know and love (or hate, as the case may be).

So what books are you a fool for?

I am always a fool for fantasy and science fiction. I got hooked on The Lord of the Rings when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, and have never looked back. My love of sci-fi came a little later. Star Trek went into syndication when I was in 8th grade, and I fell in love with that exploration of “strange new worlds and … new civilizations.” I’m still a sucker for space opera.

I read a lot, and I read some of most everything, with a couple of exceptions. But those are my first loves, and I go back to them whenever I want to get lost in a new world, or whenever I need to escape from this one.

What are your reading loves?

The winner of this giveaway will get something to sate that love, at least a little bit. The prize is either a $10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card, or a book from The Book Depository, up to $10 in value.

Happy Reading!

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And for more foolishly bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop:



Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

dreaming of books 2015[1]

I’m dreaming of getting to sleep in my own bed…which finally happened last night. (We’ve been gone for a very loooong week)

But I really do dream of books. Sometimes I dream of being in them. Sometimes I dream of being crushed by them. Sometimes I even dream of our house caving in from the weight of all of them. (Our house is on a slab so this is thankfully not possible!)

This month, however, there is a special dream of books. Welcome to the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by Bookhounds.

The books I tend to dream about are the ones that won’t leave me alone. Sometimes that’s because I just plain loved them, but often it’s because I mostly loved them but there is just the one thing that is driving me absolutely crazy, like the ending of The V’Dan by Jean Johnson. Or because it’s a world I would really, really like to live in, like the version of our world in Jim C. Hines’ Magic Ex Libris series (start with Libriomancer). Or because the story ends in such a moral dilemma that I can’t get it out of my head, like the ending of Inherit the Stars by Laurie A. Green.

What makes books stick in your mind? Or which books are so stuck in your mind that you can’t stop thinking and dreaming about them?

Leave a comment in the rafflecopter for a chance at a $10 Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository.

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For more bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop:

 

16 for 2016: My Most Anticipated Books of 2016

2016 neon numbers

Looking back at last year’s list, it is always good to discover that the stuff I wanted to read last year isn’t still on my TBR pile for this year, either because I didn’t get around to reading it, or because the author didn’t get around to finish it.

Diana Gabaldon’s Written in My Own Heart’s Blood stayed on the list for a couple of years due to a delay in publication. The next book in that series hasn’t been announced yet, so while I definitely want to read it when it happens, first I have to know it’s going to happen.

Also like last year, most of the books are the “next” book in ongoing series that I follow. If I like something a lot, I tend to keep going. On my other hand, there are more non-series books on here than usual. Generally that’s because I’m familiar with the authors, but in the case of Reader, I Married Him, I’m looking forward to that book as kind of a mirror reflection of Jane Steele, which itself is a funhouse mirror reflection of Jane Eyre. We’ll see.

And there are three books in the list that either have no titles or even tentative titles. Likewise, they have no cover pictures. No publication dates either. Which has no influence whatsoever on the amount of bated breath that I am waiting for them with!

The Alchemy Wars #3 by Ian Tregillis
The Blockade (First Salik War #3) by Jean Johnson
Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42) by J.D. Robb
Cat Shout for Joy (Joe Grey #19) by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12 by Louise Penny
Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
Confederation #7/Peacekeeper #2 by Tanya Huff
The Fate of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen
The Forbidden Heir (Four Arts #2) by M.J. Scott
Four Roads Cross (Craft Sequence #5) by Max Gladstone
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #14) by Laurie R. King
Reader I Married Him by Tracy Chevalier et al.
The Shattered Tree (Bess Crawford #8) by Charles Todd
Treachery’s Tools (Imager Portfolio #10) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The White Mirror (Li Du #2) by Elsa Hart

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-4-15

Sunday Post

The Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop started yesterday, so there’s plenty of time to enter. This seems to be hop season, as there is yet another hop scheduled for this week, and then there’s the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop starting in mid-October. This may not be Christmas yet, but it still seems to be the season to give away books and bookish prizes.

But speaking of giveaways, I don’t say this often because it feels just a bit crass, but Reading Reality is an Amazon Affiliate. Buying one of the books you find on my blog (or any other book, for that matter) by going to Amazon from one of my links nets me a few cents or a dollar per book. Those affiliate fees add up, and they are how I fund the giveaways. So I very, very much appreciate when I see that someone has bought a book through my links, both because it means that I reached that person with my review, and because it helps provide the giveaways that introduce new readers to Reading Reality. So thank you all very much.

alternate banned books banner 2015And before we end the weekend, let’s take a look at what happened last week. It was a theme week for Banned Books Week, so all the books I reviewed were on topics related to Banned Books Week in some way. One book is currently under challenge, one talks about reading the world and what breaking out of our Western, anglophone reading habits might mean. And then the recent and controversial history of one of the world’s great libraries, as well as a book about our First Amendment rights and then a book about how those rights are being eroded by ubiquitous government and commercial surveillance. The books were fascinating and occasionally frightening. And compelling enough that I only made one change from my original plan – not because I’m not planning to read Terms of Service but because I needed to carry my book around the day I was supposed to read it, and I didn’t have an ebook.

Also, I admit, Patience and Fortitude was about half the length of Terms of Service, and it was starting to matter. These were all marvelous books, but not the kind of thing that keeps one up until 3 am because you want to see what happens next. I may do this again, for next Banned Books Week if no other time. If anyone has any thoughts on the concept or how it worked, please let me know in the comments.

And next week we’re back to our regularly scheduled genre fiction! I need a break from the serious.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Gift Card or $10 Book in the Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop is Jennifer H.
The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop is Susan D.

immortal life of henrietta lacks by rebecca sklootBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
B Review: The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan
B+ Review: Patience and Fortitude by Scott Sherman
A Review: Freedom of Speech by David K. Shipler
A- Review: Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier
Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

books to movies giveaway hopComing Next Week:

The Guilt of Innocents by Candace Robb (review)
An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff (review)
Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller (blog tour review)
Books to Movies Giveaway Hop
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (review)
Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh (blog tour review)

Review: The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan

Review: The World Between Two Covers by Ann MorganThe World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe by Ann Morgan
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: autobiography, literary fiction, nonfiction, world literature
Pages: 326
Published by Liveright on May 4th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

A beguiling exploration of the joys of reading across boundaries, inspired by the author's year-long journey through a book from every country.
Following an impulse to read more internationally, journalist Ann Morgan undertook first to define "the world" and then to find a story from each of 196 nations. Tireless in her quest and assisted by generous, far-flung strangers, Morgan discovered not only a treasury of world literature but also the keys to unlock it. Whether considering the difficulties faced by writers in developing nations, movingly illustrated by Burundian Marie-Thérese Toyi's Weep Not, Refugee; tracing the use of local myths in the fantastically successful Samoan YA series Telesa; delving into questions of censorship and propaganda while sourcing a title from North Korea; or simply getting hold of The Corsair, the first Qatari novel to be translated into English, Morgan illuminates with wit, warmth, and insight how stories are written the world over and how place-geographical, historical, virtual-shapes the books we read and write.

The World Between Two Covers is a book about thinking about what you read, and why you read it. By thinking about “why you read it” I don’t mean which genres you love (or don’t). The “why” in this instance is much more about “why are particular books available to you (or not)” than why you find a particular book or genre engaging.

Not that the author of The World Between Two Covers was not engaged with many of the books she read, and not that I wasn’t engaged in reading about her journey. Because she was, and I certainly was.

The story here is about her journey through books. She goes from what made her decide to take this journey, through her process of actually managing it. And along the way she dives into the realms of why certain books are and are not available, and what effect the overwhelming preponderance of the the Western, anglophone marketplace juggernaut may have on literature and its availability in the future.

It’s a lot to wrap into one book.

This is not a collection of her reviews of the books she read during her figurative year abroad. The reviews are available on the author’s website, appropriately named, A Year of Reading the World, which she did in 2012. This is her story about doing it.

Part of the fascination of the project is in the sleuthing. When one is exclusively a reader in the English language, one of the first hurdles one must climb over is that one needs to find English translations for everything one plans to read.

It turned out that an even bigger hurdle for the author was in determining what exactly constituted her “world” and then finding some work, sometimes finding any work, from a particular country. Not merely finding an English translation of a work, but finding a work at all.

Not every voice is heard. Some places don’t have a written literary tradition. Some places don’t have a publishing tradition. Everyone, everywhere has access to American and British lit, or at least they do if they have some access to the internet. But the converse is certainly not true. She found herself relying not just on the recommendations of strangers to find material, but also on the kindness of strangers to find, or in one memorable case, create, translations for her.

As someone who is part of the world of reading and reviewing, I found this glimpse into another writer’s process absoluting fascinating. As a librarian, I found her thoughts on the publishing and reading landscape gave me insight into conditions that we don’t think about too much.

But perhaps we should.

Reality Rating B: There are the books. Then there is the process of getting the books. And finally, there is the writing about books and reading and publishing and what it means when we stay within our own comfortable little houses of mirrors. And what it feels like when we don’t.

Each of the aspects of this book will have its proponents. And for those who are disappointed that the reviews are not included, the joy of the internet means that they are all still available at A Year of Reading the World.

For this reader, the heart of the book was in the way that the author thought about what she read and about the circumstances that made certain books available, and works by other countries very nearly impossible to track down.

In the U.K., where the author is based, only 4% of the books available are works in translation from other languages. In the U.S., that figure is estimated to be 3%. In other “First World” countries where English is not the dominant language, those numbers rise to 30% or 40%. Everyone consumes our product, but ours is not cross-pollinated by much material from anyone else. There are questions about the effect of this imbalance on literature as a whole. We read in an echo chamber, and it’s an echo chamber that we increasingly export to the rest of the world. And writers in languages other than English are increasingly writing to what they perceive as the U.K./U.S. Western market because that’s where the money is. But the question of what voices are being lost echoes throughout the book.

The author also speaks to the way that the books that we are used to support our Western-centric worldview, a perspective that often reinforces the view of the West as conquering heroes and bringers of civilization to places that are seen as less-enlightened. Stories from other parts of the world present a different and sometimes uncomfortable perspective for us, that we have created messes in places where we chose to tromp on the existing culture instead of understanding and working with it.

For a small and not too uncomfortable sample of this view, as a U.S. reader watch or listen to BBC News for a few days. The BBC reports on a lot of parts of the world that U.S. news doesn’t bother to cover, and for the BBC, the U.S. is quite naturally NOT the center of the universe. But I digress.

On the one hand, the internet is what made this book possible. Without the ability to contact people from all over the globe at the click of a “Send” button, and without the ability for people around the world to see her project and want to help, this book could not have happened. At the same time, the internet can be seen to a homogenization of culture and literature that may not be good for anyone, as the voice of the internet becomes more and more Western centric, anglophone, and increasingly controlled by corporate interests.

If you care about what you read, this book will make you think about it. Hard. And that’s an excellent thing.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 9-27-15

Sunday Post

This week is Banned Books Week. You may, therefore, see a theme in my upcoming posts. I certainly intended there to be a theme. Someone recently attempted to ban The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from her 15-year old son’s high school STEM curriculum and library on the grounds that it is “pornographic”. The other books this week have themes of reading, privacy and freedom. The freedom of speech (or the press) is not as free without the freedom to read what is written or hear what is said. The right to read and hear controversial speech without the fear of reprisal is tied inextricably into the right to keep one’s reading, viewing and listening habits private.

As an exercise in doing a theme week, this is also going to be interesting from my perspective. I’ll confess to wondering if I’m going to bounce off one or more of these books. Not Immortal Life, I’ve already finished it and it is fantastic. But some of the others, or a whole week of serious, may strain my ability to keep up. But if these don’t work, I have other titles in mind. And some of the other books that have been banned are absolutely fascinating.

banned books week giveaway hop 2015There are still a couple of days left to enter the Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop, and the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop just started. The prize is the same, either a $10 Gift Card or a $10 Book. The book will be shipped from Book Depository, which allows me to do an international giveaway. They ship everywhere! But I still wish they did gift cards.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop
$10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop is Amy B.

jade dragon mountain by elsa hartBlog Recap:

B Review: Gold Coast Blues by Marc Krulewitch
A- Review: Marcus by Anna Hackett
Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop
B Review: The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton
A+ Review: Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart
Stacking the Shelves (154)
Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop

 

 

world between two covers by Ann MorganComing Next Week:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (review)
The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan (review)
Terms of Service by Jacob Silverman (review)
Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier (review)
Freedom of Speech by David K. Shipler (review)
Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

Stacking the Shelves (117)

Stacking the Shelves

The holidays are definitely over. NetGalley and Edelweiss are back to their usual irresistible best, and well, I obviously didn’t resist. My find of the week is Anne Hillerman’s Rock with Wings. I loved her father’s books, and absolutely adored her Spider Woman’s Daughter. While I hoped she would continue, I didn’t see the announcement for the new book until this week. I can’t wait to read it!

For Review:
Bite at First Sight (Scandals with Bite #3) by Brooklyn Ann
The Dead Play On (Cafferty and Quinn #3) by Heather Graham
Death of a Liar (Hamish Macbeth #31) by M.C. Beaton
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
First Time in Forever (Puffin Island #1) by Sarah Morgan
Flirting with Disaster (Jackson: Girls’ Night Out #2) by Victoria Dahl
Just in Time for a Highlander (Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands #1) by Gwyn Cready
Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall
Rock with Wings (Navajo Mysteries #20) by Anne Hillerman
September Sky (American Journey #1) by John A. Heldt
Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn
White Knight (Cornerstone Run #3) by Kelly Meade
The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan

Purchased from Amazon:
Crosstime by Andre Norton

Borrowed from the Library:
Let the Dead Sleep (Cafferty and Quinn #1) by Heather Graham
Waking the Dead (Cafferty and Quinn #2) by Heather Graham