Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop, hosted by Bookhounds!

We really are splashing into summer here, it’s raining! Which makes it a great day to curl up with a good book. Not that summer days in general aren’t great days to do that. It’s hot outside, air conditioned inside, and the long days never seem to end. In a good way.

When we lived in Alaska the summer days never really did end. It got kind of twilight-ish between 1 and 3 in the morning, but never full dark. And it was glorious!

But Atlanta summers are long, hot and sticky. Except indoors, where the air conditioning seems to be permanently set to Alaska winter!

Whatever your plans are for the summer, here is your chance to win a little something to further those plans, especially if they are plans to read the lazy days away! The winner will receive their choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository. This giveaway is therefore open to everyone who lives in any of the voluminous list of places that the Book Depository ships to.

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And for more fabulous bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop!



 

Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop, hosted by Stuck in Books.

Barnes & Noble may be having some difficulties, but they have a terrific definition for “beach reads”:

A beach read is a delicate and complicated combination of characteristics: it must be light enough to make you smile while simultaneously being absorbing enough to make you risk sunburn because you simply can’t stop turning the pages (books are the cause of approximately 85% of any bookworm’s sunburns).

While you may not have an actual beach to read on (Atlanta is landlocked, after all) the idea that summer reading is a bit, well, lighter and fluffier than reading the rest of the year seems fairly well established. Your mileage, including your mileage to a beach, may vary. And everyone’s definition of what constitutes “light and fluffy” may also have a certain amount of variance.

When I was in college and grad school, anything that wasn’t part of a class assignment constituted “light and fluffy”. Summer and Winter Break were the only times I had any significant unencumbered and unassigned reading time.

Now, of course, it’s whatever I want it to be. And my definition of “light” has changed to any book that I can’t put down, from the fluffiest romance to the most exciting, but possibly gloomy, epic fantasy. I just want to be so absorbed that I don’t notice that sunburn, or in my case the cat gravity that is putting my legs and feet to sleep.

What about you? What makes a book a “beach read” for you? And which ones are you most looking forward to diving into this summer? Give us your upcoming beach reads for a chance at either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a copy of the book itself (as long as it’s less than $10).

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And for more chances at more beachy and bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop!

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Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop, hosted by BookHounds.

Everything is in bloom around here. We get our profusion of flowers in the Spring, because by Summer it is just too darn hot. Even the grass turns brown.

I love to receive flowers, but I also have cats. Usually one or more of the resident felines loves to eat the flowers. Erasmus used to get a whole rose petal in his mouth, and then let it kind of dribble out, slightly damp. He was a dear, sweet, dim cat, and he never quite got the point. My very first furbaby, Licorice, used to just knock the vase over and consume the flowers. And then, of course, “give” them back to me.

Freddie the Fredinator hasn’t had much exposure to flowers yet. As much of a bundle of energetic destruction as he is, I expect him to accidentally knock the vase over and then run away from the mess. One of these days soon we’ll see.

For your chance at a $10 Gift Card or $10 Book, tell us your favorite flower, or your favorite pets and flowers story via the Rafflecopter below.

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And be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the hop for more blooming chances at bookish prizes!



May I Suggest Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop, hosted by Stuck in Books.

It’s May, and may I suggest a book for you to read? That’s the theme of this hop, books that we would suggest to other people to read.

Suggesting books to the universe is a bit awkward, because I don’t know what kind of books the universe likes to read! But seriously, it is difficult to suggest (read that as shove) books to people without having a clue about what they know they like. But I’ll try, using some of the books that I’ve most forcefully suggested to people in the past.

Anyone who things they might like science fiction and hasn’t read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi needs to go out and get it. It is purely awesome. Anyone who thinks that epic fantasy is all either coming of age stories or blood and guts like Game of Thrones should try Imager by L.E. Modesitt Jr. Any mystery reader who hasn’t ventured to Three Pines should grab Still Life by Louise Penny and get themselves introduced to Chief Inspector Gamache. His four sayings of wisdom are ones we all need to remember to say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry, I don’t know. I need help.” We all have problems getting any and all of those phrases out of our mouths, especially when we need to the most.

Want to laugh until you cry, and with a bit of fantasy and commentary thrown in, pick up anything by Terry Pratchett (but start with either Mort or Guards, Guards). Like time travel but waiting for the next Outlander? Try The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn. Want to really sink your teeth into something meaty? American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The TV series may be fantastic, but the book is always better.

And that’s my final suggestion – NEVER judge a book by its movie.

I’ve listed some of my favorite suggestions, but now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite book to suggest? If you could shove one book at someone, what would it be?

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

Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the second annual Life’s a Beach Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

Every summer the publishers come out with a whole bunch of books they label as “beach reads”. It usually means that someone thinks those books are light and frothy like the surf, even if (or often especially because) those books are multi-hundred page family saga/melodrama/romance potboilers. Plenty of sex and sin to while away those hours reading by the beach. Assuming that anybody has time for that anymore, and that we aren’t all back in the beach house slathered in SPF 100.

But about those beach reads, whether you plan to read them on a beach, or at home in air conditioned comfort.

The Everygirl has a great chart to help choose your summer beach reads. It starts with the most important thing – what you are planning to order by Starbucks – before it gets to the more important bookish choices between time travel and invisibility.

What about you? Do you take books to the beach? Or on vacation? How do you decide what to take? (I have an iPad, I take EVERYTHING!) What are you planning to, or hoping to, read this summer?

Share your top picks for your summer beach reads for a chance at a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository, so you can get started on your very own beach reads list.

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And for more fabulous prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop!

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop, hosted by BookHounds.

For those who celebrate Easter, a slightly early Happy Easter to you. And for those who celebrate Passover, happy middle of Passover. For those who are just happy to celebrate the beginning of Spring, happy that. Longer days and warmer weather are always something to celebrate, in some places more than others.

As someone who celebrates Passover, and who has a birthday at this time of year, one of my childhood memories is of not being able to have birthday cake or a party at my birthday more often than not. At that time, there just wasn’t much in the way of baked goods that were Kosher for Passover. Except this one cinnamon crumble coffee cake that was surprisingly yummy, but not exactly birthday-cake material. Based on the offerings at the grocery store this week, solutions for this particular dilemma now abound!

But it isn’t Easter without some mention of Peeps. I still don’t believe they are a food, but they clearly make great dioramas. This one struck a chord and a funny bone, as I remember when my room did look kind of like this – except that the stairs went the other way. My room was at the top of the house when I was in high school.

Maybe you want a good book to read with your Peeps? Even when this blog hop is over, it still won’t be too late! (Especially if you like your Peeps “well seasoned”)

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And for more chances at more fabulous prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop.



Review: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi + Giveaway

Review: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi + GiveawayThe Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton
Format: audiobook, ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon, purchased from Audible
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: science fiction, space opera
Series: Interdependency #1
Pages: 334
Published by Audible Studios, Tor Books on March 21st 2017
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

The first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new
universe.

Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible -- until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war -- and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal -- but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals -- a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency -- are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

My Review:

My first thought upon finishing The Collapsing Empire was “Oh…My…GOD

The second was that rolling your eyes while driving is a really bad idea, especially if you do it OFTEN. Actually I had that though much earlier in the book, when I was doing a LOT of eye rolling. The ending is far from an eye roll situation, but the advice still stands.

So i’m back to the Oh My God reaction, which I’m still hearing in Wil Wheaton’s voice as the reader of The Collapsing Empire. Which I listened to, pretty much everywhere, sometimes rolling my eyes, often smiling or even outright laughing, from the surprising beginning to the even more astonishing end.

Which isn’t really an end, because it’s obvious that this is just the beginning of a much bigger story, which I hope we get Real Soon Now, but don’t actually expect for a year or more.

So what was it?

The title both does and doesn’t give it away The Empire, in this case the human empire that calls itself the Interdependency, is about to collapse. Not due to warfare or anything so prosaic, but because, well, science. The interstellar network that keeps the far-flung reaches of the Interdependency interdependent is on the verge of an unstoppable collapse.. So what we have at the moment is the story of the maneuvering and machinations as what passes for the powers that be, or that hope to be the powers that become, jockey for position (and survival) in the suddenly onrushing future.

And humans being humans, while some panic there are a whole lot of people who remain so invested in the status quo that they are unwilling to act because any actions upset their positions now, and they hope, very much against hope, that the predictions are wrong. Not because they really believe in their heart of hearts that they ARE wrong, but because they want them to be wrong so very badly.

Any resemblance between the Interdependency and 21st century America is probably intended – but agreeing or disagreeing with that statement doesn’t change the sheer rushing “WOW” of the story.

That story of the empire that’s about to collapse is primarily told through the eyes of four very, very different people (not that the side characters aren’t themselves quite fascinating). But as things wind up, and as the empire begins to wind down, we get our view of the impending fall mostly from these four, or people who surround them.

The first is Ghreni Nohamapeton, the most frequent source of my eye-rolling. Ghreni is a slippery manipulative little bastard, but he is about to be hoist on his own petard. Or possibly not. He thinks he knows what’s coming, and of course, he doesn’t. Or does he?

Kiva Lagos may possibly be the most profane character it has ever been my pleasure to encounter, in literature or out of it. And her constant, continuous cursing sounds a bit much in an audiobook, but perfectly fits her character. Kiva is also manipulative as hell, and mercenary into the bargain. But somewhere between the hells, damns and f-bombs, there’s a heart. Or at least the desire to one-up Ghreni that provides some of the same functionality.

Marce Claremont is about to be the bearer of very bad tidings – if he can survive being the chew toy between Ghreni and Kiva long enough to deliver his message. And even though he knows that the delivery of it means that he really, really can’t go home again. Ever.

And finally we have Cardenia Wu, the recent and very reluctant Emperox of the Interdependency. A woman who is about to experience the very extreme end of that old saying, “be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.” As a great man once said, “Some gifts come at just too high a price.” And that’s true whether you have to dance with the devil to get them, or just roll dice with fate.

Escape Rating A: I listened to this, and also have the ebook. I expected to switch between, but in the end just couldn’t tear myself away from Wil Wheaton’s marvelous reading. He does a terrific job with all of the voices, and adds even more fun to a book that was already fantastic.

But I need that ebook to look up all the names. It seems as if none of them are spelled quite the way they sound. And the ship’s names are an exercise in absurdity from beginning to end. (This aspect may be an homage to the late Iain Banks’ Culture series). But the first ship we meet is the “Tell Me Another One” which is this reader’s general response to Scalzi’s work. I want him to tell me another one, as soon as possible. But also, and as usual, everyone’s leg is getting pulled more than a bit, and not from the same direction.

Lots of things in this story made me smile, quite often ruefully. The scenario is painful, and as this book closes we know that the situation in general is only going to get worse, and possibly not get better. But for the individuals, life is going on. And the characters exhibit all of the sarcasm that this author is known for.

Some of it has the ring of gallows humor to it, and that’s also right. No one is likely to come out of this unscathed by the end, and that’s obvious to the reader from the beginning, even if not to the characters.

This is also a story of merchant empires and political skullduggery. And yes, there is plenty of commentary on that aspect to chew on for a long time, quite possibly until the next book in the series. Like so much of Scalzi’s work, The Collapsing Empire makes the reader laugh, and it makes the reader think, quite often at the same time.

Ghreni and Kiva both represent different ways in which the current systems of the Interdependency have been taken to their extreme limit. But Marce and Cardenia are the characters that we sympathize with. They are both operating against impossible odds, and we like them and want them to succeed. Whether they will or not is left to the subsequent books in this series.

And I really, really, really can’t wait to see what happens next.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Because this is part of my annual Blogo-Birthday celebration, I want to share the love. And the books. John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors, and I hope he’ll become one of yours too. To that end, I’m giving away one copy of any of Scalzi’s works, (up to $20) to one lucky commenter on this post. This giveaway includes The Collapsing Empire, but if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of Scalzi, Old Man’s War is probably the best place to begin.

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Rain Rain Go Away Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Second Annual Rain Rain Go Away Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

Today is my birthday. I am participating in this hop as part of my annual Blogo-Birthday celebration. Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of the founding of Reading Reality and today is my birthday, so, “blogo-birthday”!

You might also call this a hobbit birthday. It’s my birthday and instead of (or in addition to) receiving presents I am also giving presents all week long. Including today.

It’s April, and as I write this, it is raining cats and dogs here in Atlanta, although so far I haven’t seen any poodles in the road. Maybe later.

But that makes this an excellent day to curl up with a cup of tea, a purring cat, and a good book. Let me know how you like to spend your rainy days for a chance at your choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 book from the Book Depository.

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For more fabulous prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop!

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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Spring into Romance Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Spring into Romance Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Herd Presents. In this case, the Herd is presenting a blog hop. (Sorry, I just can’t resist the puns!)

This is a hop for sharing our most anticipated upcoming reads for the spring. I’ll say upfront that not all of my most anticipated reads are romances, but maybe yours are.

In April, the books I’m looking forward to most are Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman and Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon. They are both part of reboots for series that I thought were dead long ago. In the case of the Hillerman book, the original series died because the author Tony Hillerman did. His daughter Anne has picked up the action, and it’s marvelous. Sometimes even better than the original, because the point of view has shifted from all of the men to one of the women, and it makes things very different. Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series was one of my favorite merchant space empire series, but she seemed to have finished a while ago. And suddenly Cold Welcome appeared, the first book of Vatta’s Peace.

On the romance front there’s Slow Burn Cowboy by Maisey Yates, The Captive Shifter by Veronica Scott, White Hot by Ilona Andrews and stretching the definition of Spring just a bit, Silver Silence by Nalini Singh and Theron and Hemi in Anna Hackett’s Hell Squad series.

What about you?

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As always, for more bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop