Friday, November 25, 2011

Kobo contest, Cyber Monday discounts, and more!

Kobo is running a contest and it's easy to enter; all you have to do is buy a book!

Any customer who purchases an eBook from Kobo between Nov 18th and Nov 30th is entered to win a trip for two to one of five extraordinary locations: Paris, London, Italy, California or the Galapagos Islands.

Plus, there are going to be some big Cyber Monday discounts on November 28th.  So be sure to check the Kobo store on Monday!

If you don't have a Kobo eReader, here's a coupon for $20 off the Kobo Touch:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kobo Coupons!

Here are a couple of Kobo coupons.  The 20%-off coupon should be valid through the end of December, and the $1-off coupon is good until the end of January.

20% Off Kobo eBooks with code "June20off"

Get $1 Off select Kobo eBooks - Kobodollaroff

To use the coupons, you need to enter the appropriate code during the checkout process where it says: "Have a gift card or promo code? Use it here."  (If you've already used these coupons, they probably won't work again.  But for those who haven't tried them yet, it's a pretty good deal!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review - Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure
by Naomi C. Rose
illustrated by Naomi C. Rose
Date: 2011
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Tashi loves listening to Popola, her grandpa, sing Tibetan chants to the click, click of his prayer beads. She also loves hearing Popola's stories about the village in Tibet where he grew up. But recently Popola has been sick, and Tashi is worried.

One of the stories Tashi remembers told how people in Popola's village use flowers to help themselves recover from illnesses. Will this healing tradition work in the United States, so far from Popola's village? Determined to help Popola get better, Tashi recruits family, friends, and neighbors in a grand effort to find out.

Lyrically told and illustrated with impressionistic paintings, Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure shines a tender light on the universal bond between grandchild and grandparent. Readers of all ages are sure to be inspired by the gentle power of this story and its spirit of compassion and community.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The description pretty much sums up this book. It's a charming story, told in free verse, about a little girl's love for her grandfather, illustrated in vivid colour by the author. Even as an adult, I know very little about Tibetan culture. This book highlights one aspect of that culture in a way that's easy for kids (and adults) to grasp. The message was sweet without being sappy, and the pictures were pleasant to look at. I think I would have enjoyed this book when I was a child.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lee & Low Books for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 5/5
Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Read That Were Outside Of My Comfort Zone

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Books I Read That Were Outside Of My Comfort Zone:

10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - I read this years ago, thinking it was a book that I should read, but never being all that enthusiastic about the subject matter.  I ended up really enjoying it, and it made me want to pick up the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which, to this day, I've never been able to get into).

9. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai - I know next to nothing about Vietnamese refugees and I'd never read a book in verse before, so this middle-grade book was pretty far out of my comfort zone.  But it ended up being one of my favourite reads in 2011.

8. Heat Wave by Richard Castle - I don't generally read adult mystery/thriller novels, and I was leery about reading something written by a fictional character.  To my surprise, the writing wasn't that bad, and as a fan of the Castle TV series, I quite enjoyed the story.

7. The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck - I can't remember when I read this one, what might've possessed me to read it, or even what it was about.  But as what Wikipedia calls a "propaganda novella", it's pretty far outside of my reading comfort zone!

6. A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer - Books about Africa or that take place in Africa have never interested me all that much... so this story about a brave girl on the run from an arranged marriage was a pleasant surprise.

5. My Ántonia by Willa Cather - I think I read this when I was on a classics kick.  I can't remember anything about it, only that I enjoyed it.  At the time of reading, it might not have been outside of my comfort zone... but it certainly is now!

4. Word to Caesar by Geoffrey Trease - This was an assigned book when I was in Grade 7.  We started it at the end of the year and never got to finish.  I actually asked the teacher if I could borrow a copy so I could find out what happened!  At that time, most of my for-fun reading was series like The Babysitters Club, so historical fiction wasn't my usual go-to genre.

3. In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes - This was the first book I ever read about vampires in the YA paranormal genre.  I went on to read the other books that Atwater-Rhodes had released at that time.  I guess she's partly to blame for my current comfort zone!

2. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare - I never enjoyed reading Shakespeare in school.  We'd read A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet (twice... I got it in Grade 12 and in university) and I hadn't really liked any of them.  I did, however, enjoy the movie version of Much Ado About Nothing... so I picked up the book.  It's now one of my favourite classics.  It made Shakespeare accessible for me, and I even went on to read The Tempest on my own.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - I wasn't too thrilled when I was assigned this book in my university English class.  I thought it would be just another mind-numbingly dull classic.  But that was before I started reading it and realized how accessible it was, with its first-person narration and interesting storyline.  I probably never would have picked it up if not for that class.

2012 E-Book Challenge

I had fun hosting this challenge this past year, but decided it was time to pass the torch to someone else.  Sarah at Workaday Reads is hosting the challenge for 2012.  I'm going to join the challenge at the CD level (10 books) and see how things go; I may upgrade later... we'll see.

1. Ladybug Girl, Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, Ladybug Girl at the Beach

1 / 10 books. 10% done!

Off The Shelf 2012

I'm doing the Off The Shelf challenge again this year.  I'm going to aim for the Tempted level (5 books) for now; I felt very rushed and stifled with the 2011 challenge because I aimed too high with 15 books... and it ended up not being much fun.  I want to get through all those books in my TBR pile and have fun doing it!

1. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
3. Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival by Arthur Slade
4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
5. The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

6. Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin
7. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

5 / 5 books. 100% done!

E-Book Reading Challenge 2012 - New Host!

There was quite a bit of interest in hosting the E-Book Reading Challenge for 2012... so much so that I had to randomly draw a name!  The lucky winner and new host is:


It's time to head on over there and sign up for this fun challenge!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review - Ice

by Sarah Beth Durst
Date: 2009
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 308
Format: hardcover
Source: Chapters

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Warning: review contains SPOILERS

When I was a kid, I had a VHS tape of an adaptation of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I probably watched it once, it was so mind-numbingly boring.  When I bought Ice, seduced by the beautiful cover, I didn't realize that it wasn't just that film adaptation that was boring.  The story itself is just not very interesting (which is probably why Disney never bothered)!  Sarah Beth Durst added a whole new dimension to the story that provided some much-needed interest... but those same changes were what ultimately turned me off the story altogether.

I was enjoying the story up until Cassie found out she was pregnant.  Up until then, it had been a nice mix of present-day action and fairytale romance.  But then Bear had to go and get Cassie pregnant (against her will, I might add) and everything fell apart.  The fairytale elements began to seem cheesy and jarringly unrealistic (whereas they'd blended better with the first part of the book) and the story started to remind me of Breaking Dawn, with Cassie talking to her unborn baby every time it kicked.  I thought the glorification of pregnancy was a bit too much for a young adult book, even though it made sense in the context of the plot.  With a bit of tweaking, this would have been better suited to an adult genre.  As someone without kids, I found it hard to relate to Cassie after she got pregnant and started all the fetus conversations; I'm pretty sure a 13-year-old wouldn't really be into reading about that, either.

So I understand why the author might have chosen to go in the direction she did, but I'm not convinced it worked for the young adult genre.  While Ice is an improvement on the folk tale, it was still a disappointment.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
Editing: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.29 out of 5