Suggestions on Where to Find Free E-Books

Books

Reading can be an expensive hobby, especially if you like to read books by your favourite authors as soon as they come out. So what about the time in between those authors when you’re still craving a book to read, but don’t necessarily want to shell out $20+ per book? Don’t misunderstand me here, I certainly believe that authors should be paid for their work, and being a writer myself I understand the enormous amount of work that goes into a publication, but I’ve also always been a big supporter of reading and I believe that it should be made available for anyone out there who wants to read no matter their financial standing – thankfully this day in age, with today’s technology, there are many options for low budget reading. You may not always get triple A reading material, but you’ll certainly find some gems.

One of the first things I did when I got my kindle e-reader was browse through the kindle store. It’s pretty easy to get lost, but they have a nice selection of books that are free for you to read, usually the classics. There’s tons of classics out there. If you’re not a fan of using amazon there are other options. One popular one is Project Gutenberg. A good one for free audio books is LibriVox.

Every day I get an email from BookBub and in this email they typically list a bunch of highly discounted books along with one or two free ones. The free ones are not free forever, they’re usually on some amazon deal that lasts a day, a week, or longer depending on the author. This is where you’ll see a lot of “not so great, but hey it’s free” books listed – and it’s a great place to find potential gems. The books are different every single day and this is probably one of my favourite ways to get free books and add to my e-book collection. If you’ve never checked it out before, I highly recommend signing up. One thing to note, if you check off any of the romance books in your preferences, chances are your daily email will be filled with that type of book. It just happens that there’s a large number of them, and they go free pretty often. I’ve got 14 free books in the lats 6 months according to my amazon orders placed, and while they certainly haven’t all been winners, they’re not always horrible and it’s a great way to do some budget reading. There are also a lot of sites like this one that will list all of the current amazon books that are marked as free.

If you’ve got a book review site, a blog, or even just like to write reviews for Goodreads there are even more options for you. You can sign up for a site like NetGalley and apply directly to publishers to read and review the books they have listed. In this case you’re much more likely to stumble across books you will really enjoy since you’re hand picking which ones you review. The books here are all represented by a publisher, and are not self published. Of course the downside in this case is that you may be declined by the publisher, especially if you don’t match the publisher’s requests. There are rules for this type of review, they have to be done in a specific time, and sometimes location is a factor. Publishers may only be looking for reviewers in the US, or in Canada, based on where their book is being released.

I’ve talked about these options before, but if you’re a fan of bundles, there’s the HumbleBookBundle that runs pretty frequently, though you may need to wait until you see books that you enjoy come up. They change each bundle, and the prices are fantastic. There’s also StoryBundle which supports Indie authors. Their bundles are less frequent, so you may want to sign up so you can get notice of when they run.

Another choice that is slowly making its way across cities is of course – your public library. Now this will absolutely depend on where you live. When I was in Ottawa I was able to sign out ebooks from the library web site and download them to my e-reader. Now that I live in a more remote area, I don’t have this available, and I miss it. Not all books will be available this way, and you still have to abide by library rules (they can only lend out as many “copies” as they own, and there may be a queue) but it’s a newer option that I really enjoy seeing come to life.

Have more suggestions for readers on how to get some budget ebooks? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment with your suggestions below!

 

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Do You Bookclub?

15451058 The start of a new year is a great time to find motivation to do all sorts of projects that you may not otherwise think about. That includes promising to do more reading, too. Lately book talk has revolved around Emma Watson starting a book club on goodreads that anyone can join. Not only is this fantastic motivation from a celebrity but she’s ready some pretty amazing books, too. She clearly states that the club is going to focus on books about equality, as it pertains to her work with UN Women. The book club holds the logo “Feminism is for everyone” and the first book up for discussion is ‘My Life on the Road’ by Gloria Steinem.

I have been wanting to expand my reading and so I joined the reading group and I also picked up the book this weekend. I haven’t gotten very far into it yet, but I’m excited. The group has over 80,000 members which does make for incredibly busy discussions. I don’t plan on participating a great deal but I will lurk and read some of it. A lot is nothing to do with equality or women’s rights at all, but are Emma stalkers, hoping that she’ll open communication with them.

We need more book clubs like this. They don’t necessarily have to be the exact same subject, but we (society) needs to be encouraging people to read and we need to offer motivation for people to branch outside of their comfort zones in what they read – without judgement. I don’t care what people are reading as much as I care that they ARE reading.

The club seems to be very well rounded. There are some members who have read thousands of books and recorded them to Goodreads, and others who have only one or no books recorded. I’m interested in seeing what books make the list, and what others think about them.

How about you, do you belong to a book club?

Reading Challenges for 2016

Books

Each year I like to challenge myself with reading books. The past few years have felt less like a challenge and more like a goal I knew I could easily reach. My first year completing was 2013, and I set my goal to 30 books, and ended up reading 36. The following two years I set the challenge to 50 books and read a total of 52 books for the year. This year, 2016, I’d like to really challenge myself, and so I’m setting my goal to 65 books for the year – and I’d like half of those books to be audiobooks.

You may think that sounds a bit strange, purposely listening to audiobooks rather than choosing to read the books, however I think it’s a great goal for myself. These days I spend a lot of my spare time knitting and while I’m good at knitting, and reading, I’m not (yet) good at doing both at the same time. There are actually people who can do that, read and knit at once, but I am (so far) not one of them. I’d like to be able to fill that spare time with audiobooks.

Where to get these audiobooks was my next decision. There’s Audible which is one of the largest suppliers, but I’m not sure if I want to dedicate $14/m to a subscription or just pay as I go. I believe the $14/m only gets you a single book a month, and that’s certainly not going to be enough for me. Audiobooks are typically more expensive than regular books though there are free versions out there. The problem with free versions is you never know if the reader is going to be someone you can tolerate, and depending on the software you use it’s very easy to lose your place. I’ve signed up for kindle unlimited to test out the audio narration whispersync feature, I’m hoping it may be a good alternative to someone like me who doesn’t mind spending money on books or subscriptions, but who has a limited budget.

Have you set up a reading challenge for yourself this year or do you prefer to just take books as they come? Let me know in comments!

Books and resolutions for 2016

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Where does the time go?

To say I’ve neglected this site over the year would be an understatement. I had every intention of keeping up with my reviews, but it just didn’t happen. Work, life, everything seemed to have gotten in the way. I did manage to read quite a few books for 2015, completing my goal of 50, but I want to make a resolution to post more often in 2016. I know I can do it if I just set aside some time each week. I love books in all of their forms and it was important to me to be able to share that love in my little corner of the internet. I suppose on some levels I have been discouraged, I see so many larger sites receiving books to review and I know I can’t compete. I don’t like to spoil books for others so my reviews are lacking a lot of details. Perhaps I should focus more on those details and not so much on keeping things spoiler free.

I’m not sure what my goal will be yet when it comes to writing here, but I’m hoping that at least bi-weekly will be something I can manage. Even if it’s not a book I have finished reading, but rather a generic article about the subject. Most of the writing here isn’t for anyone in particular but is for my own pleasure, but I do want to have at least something to show for it.

Here’s to a new year. What did I read in 2015? You can find the list below, in the order that I’ve read them (newest read books are at the top of the list)

  1. Mark of the Mage, by R.K. Ryals
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
  3. The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision, by James Redfield
  4. The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Bear, by Marian Engel
  6. The Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Choo
  7. Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke
  8. Moth and Spark, by Anne Leonard
  9. Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan, by Richard Hittleman
  10. The Martian, by Andy Weir
  11. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  12. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  13. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
  14. Three Souls, by Janie Chang
  15. Loving, by Henry Green
  16. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
  17. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer
  18. Chestnut Street, by Maeve Binchy
  19. Fool’s Quest, by Robin Hobb
  20. The Shock of the Fall, by Nathan Filer
  21. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
  22. The Man in the Iron Mask, by Alexandre Dumas
  23. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  24. Knight’s Shadow, by Sebastien de Castell
  25. Taking Charge of your Fertility, by Toni Weschler
  26. Ru, by Kim Thuy
  27. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
  28. The Summoner, by Gail Z. Martin
  29. The Black Prism, by Brent Weeks
  30. Beau Geste, by P.C. Wren
  31. Prince of Fools, by Mark Lawrence
  32. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
  33. Killashandra, by Anne McCaffrey
  34. When I found You, by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  35. The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield
  36. At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen
  37. Throne of Darkness, by Douglas Nicholas
  38. Longbourn, by Jo Baker
  39. The Pirate’s Bed, by Nicola Winstanley
  40. A Blight of Mages, by Karen Miller
  41. The Highest Number in the World, by Roy MacGregor
  42. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
  43. The Scandal of Father Brown, by G.K. Chesterton
  44. The Harem Midwife, by Roberta Rich
  45. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  46. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
  47. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  48. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
  49. Fool’s Assassin, by Robin Hobb
  50. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
  51. Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier

What is next on my to-read list? I haven’t quite decided. I think I’d like to write a few reviews of some of my 2015 choices that I’ve neglected to write about and then we’ll just have to see where I end up. Some books surprised me a great deal, and were nothing like what I expected. I want to be able to share those thoughts with everyone. Happy reading – here’s to 2016!

Review: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

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I read this book back in February and am only getting around to finishing up my review now. Bad, I know. I wanted to like it. I wanted to love it. I read reviews and saw people promoting it everywhere. Thing is, I’m just not a fan of the genre. The book begins with the end of the world. The georgia flu kills 99% of the population and changes everything about the world as we know it. The book swaps between the past and present, Kirsten (present) is touring the wasteland with a group of musicians and actors, bringing entertainment to scattered settlements, and Arthur Leander (past) is playing a part in King Lear on stage in Toronto. Well, he is at least until he has a heart attack and dies on stage.

The book’s main motto is “survival is insufficient” – a tattooed immortalized line from Star Trek. Of course the book has a prophet, there has to be some turmoil besides the survival of mankind. The characters are detailed and driven, and that was the one redeeming fact I found. Despite the fact that it was well written, detailed, colourful and depicted humanism in a very frank and lovely way – I just couldn’t get into this book. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t captivated by the story. I do not think this is at all the fault of the author, but some books we find interesting and others we simply don’t.

Review: Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier

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This is one book that I really wanted to give 5/5 stars to, because everyone else who suggested I read it, did. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to. The characters and the world came across as flat and predictable. It begins with Blackthorn, who is imprisoned. She manages to make a deal with a mysterious man who promises her freedom IF she travels to Dalriada. Once there, she is to set up as the local healer, and help anyone who needs it. Her companion, Grim, who she meets in prison, follows after her. Because she worries about breaking her vow (helping anyone who needs it) she eventually decides to let him work with her, and they form a comfortable friendship (though they each keep their own secrets).

Meanwhile, Oran, who is the prince of Dalriada, is waiting for his future bride, Lady Flidais. He feels like he knows her intimately, though they have never met. When she finally arrives, tragedy strikes, and the lady is shaken from head to toe. From there the story changes. Lady Flidais is nothing like how Oran imagined her to be. She doesn’t act anything like her letters, and as time goes on the mystery only deepens.

Blackthorn raises her standing with the locals as a healer, and eventually Oran hears about her gift for solving problems. He approaches her for help, and together her, Grim, and Oran must all work together, or much more than just a marriage will be in jeopardy.

I think one of the main reasons I didn’t enjoy reading it was because I had already ‘solved’ the mystery before it was even presented. Once I knew what the mystery was, I just wanted them to move along at a faster pace to solve it. The writer, however, had a different idea, and things moved very slowly through the first portion of the book. It was not until the last 25% or so that things then seemed to move at a frantic pace, almost too fast. The book also seemed to imply a lot of sex shaming, which I didn’t enjoy reading. To take a quote from another reviewer who said it better than I could: “I find it regrettable that the only consensual sex featured in this book full of rape and pervasive abuse of female characters (which in Blackthorn’s and the village girl’s cases lead nearly to their deaths), is used as a primary basis for establishing the antagonist’s character as nefarious, manipulative and dangerous.” Now the comments to that do go on to say that for the time period the story took place in that this would have been considered inappropriate behaviour, but my thoughts still stay the same.

Still, the book WAS an enjoyable read, overall. It didn’t quite live up to the hype of what I was expecting, but I have read far worse books over the years.

4/5 stars

More Autographed Books

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Do you have a favourite site to purchase books from? One of mine happens to be Bookoutlet.ca – that’s where I bought the Warcraft book mentioned in my previous post. They have a pretty great selection of discounted autographed books, the only problem being that they are often times sold out even after you have made your purchase, because they only have a small handful of copies to sell. That being said, they’re still a fantastic site and offer some great deals. Just browsing through the list now I see Drama, by John Lithgow in hard cover, signed, for $9. If I hadn’t of already blown my budget for the month, I would probably snatch that up. Their shipping is quite affordable as well.

Of course I couldn’t resist checking out the other deals going on. Indigo (also known as Chapters) had You are Here, in hardcover, signed by Chris Hadfield for $28. A book written by one of our very own Canadian astronauts? Yes please! I also picked up a signed copy of The Rosie Project, which I really enjoyed reading this year.

Then there is my favourite site, The Signed Page. They offer signed books (along with pre-orders of books) mostly of the fantasy / sci-fi genre. I haven’t been able to afford much from their site yet (shipping is quite expensive) but I spend hours browsing through and making a mental list of everything I would love to one day be able to afford which is pretty much everything in their store. Ever.

I love collecting books, but without having my very own library, room is limited. Collecting autographed books on the other hand lets me feel a sense of ‘purpose’ so to speak. I feel less concerned about books taking up room because they’re signed. Silly? Of course it is, but that’s how these hobbies and collections go, hehe. I can’t wait to add more books to my collection.