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

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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.

 

Autographed Books?

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If I had unlimited funds and unlimited space, I would probably quickly stock that space with books. If possible, I would stock it with autographed books. It has always been a dream of mine to collect books signed by their authors, the problem is that those books are typically very expensive, and since I live in a remote location it’s hard to get to actual physical stores to get them signed in person, which means I have to order books – and that costs even more, because shipping is a pain in the arse.

I recently saw this post on twitter from CBC books that commented about how Barnes & Noble has been losing out on the book business lately, and they’re hoping to recoup some of that business by having a massive amount of signed books to sell on black Friday. The article made it sound like this tactic won’t work, and maybe it won’t, but as someone who has always dreamed of one day owning a large collection of signed books, it sure did make me swoon.

As it is now my collection consists of only one book. I managed to purchase a signed Warcraft book by Richard A. Knaak for $5 (plus shipping of course, but since it was combined with some craft books it wasn’t too bad). I have tried entering contests to win books but alas my luck rarely ever holds out. For now, I’ll continue to dream about that unlimited funds and unlimited space.

Completed my RandomHouse 2014 Reading Bingo Card!

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I finally went through my reading Bingo Card from RandomHouse that I wrote about way back when in January. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to check everything off of the bingo card, even though I have read 44 books so far this year. As I started filling out the books I’ve read on the back, I was very surprised to see the whole card was completed! Yay! So what were the books?

  • A book with more than 500 pages: I know this much is true
  • A Forgotten Classic: Moby Dick
  • A book that became a movie: The Rosie Project
  • A book published this year: The Chalet
  • A book with a number in the title: The Third Kingdom
  • A book written by someone under thirty: Red Rising
  • A book with non-human characters: Board Stiff
  • A funny book: The complete fairy tales of the brother’s grimm
  • A book by a female author: Pagan Stone
  • A book with a mystery: Into the Wild
  • A book with a one word title: Abandon
  • A book of short stories: In the company of thieves
  • FREE SPACE
  • A book set on a different continent: Pride & Prejudice
  • A book of non fiction: Steve Jobs
  • The first book by a favourite author: The midwife of hope river
  • A book you heard about online: The midwife of venice
  • A best selling book: The secret life of Walter Mitty
  • A book based on a true story: I am Malala
  • A book at the bottom of your to-read pile: Crystal Singer
  • A book your friend loves: Chasers of the light: Poems from the typewriter series
  • A book that scares you: A clockwork Orange
  • A book that is more than 10 years old: The White Dragon
  • The second book in a series: Fire and Ice
  • A book with a blue cover: The MacKinnon’s Bride

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I’m looking forward to seeing what next year’s list looks like. Honestly even though I read so many books, I feel like this was a poor year for my book habits. I’m hoping to do better next year, maybe add more classics to the list, and discover more new authors. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

First Reads at GoodReads

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One of the best features that GoodReads has is the ability for authors and publishers to give away copies of their new books. Some are signed, some are limited editions, and all of them have been released within a 6 month period from the ending date. It’s not only a fantastic way for readers to score some advance copies from their favorite authors and discover new authors, but it’s a great way for writers to interact with fans, and to get their name out.

The contests work as free publicity, thousands of people see your book there and enter the contest. Maybe a handful like it enough that they buy the book even with the contest going on. Either way, it’s win win for everyone involved.

Every so often you can also catch a great giveaway over on The BiblioSanctum which is one of my favorite book review sites. Have your own recommendation? Why not mention it in comments below!

 

Reading Bingo Progress

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I’ve been making pretty good progress with my bingo card so far this year. I should have a few more to add before too long, but I wanted to share the progress I’ve made to date. If you’re participating let me know in comments!

In the top row I’ve completed “a book that became a movie” by reading The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I realize it was a short story more than an actual novel, but I think for this purpose it still counts. In the next line the square reads “a book by a female author” and that was In The Company of Thieves by Kage Baker. Of course like all good bingo cards, the center square is a free square, so I marked it off as completed. Finally I managed to fill in the square for “the second book in a series” by reading The Godborn, which is the second book in The Sundering series.

I know you normally win bingo by getting a row, but I would really like to complete the entire card. I think the most difficult square for me to fill will be “a book that scares you”. I’m just not a fan of reading things that scare me. The easiest square will probably be “a book published this year” – there are lots of great books releasing this year that I can’t wait to get to. I’ll post another update next month – in the meantime, keep reading!

The Human Library

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This was an event I had never heard of before, but as soon as I did, I was intrigued. It’s called the living library, or the human library. It’s about interacting with real people, and having real conversations with them about their fields.

The concept

  • An individual accepts to take part in the event as a Book.
  • Book reservations for specific time slots will be available the day of the event at each site.
  • Books get “checked out” for 20 minutes by a Reader, during which they have a one-on-one conversation.
  • Readers can register for only one book at a time. First come, first served.

Background

Launched in Denmark in 2000, the Human Library was a way to focus on anti-violence, encourage dialogue and build relations. It has grown in popularity with 27 countries taking part in 2008, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Malaysia and South Africa.

The Ottawa Library held theirs on January 25th, and they had a lot of really interesting people available to ‘borrow’ including a Bylaw Officer at Carlingwood, a former gang member, a transgender, and a foster parent. The unique perspective that each person gave is something that just completely blew me away. I hope to see more of these events in the future, and if you have one such event taking place around your area, I highly suggest you check it out.