Booking Through Thursday – Something Old, Something New

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical specimen, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

I love this question, because my preference has a negative consequence on my pocketbook.  I am extremely anal about the condition of the books I read.  I cannot abide a book with a bent spine, a warped cover, or tattered pages. Highlighting or notes in the margins?  Nah-uh!  This has been a issue since I was a child.  Wrinkled covers put me in an incredibly foul mood.  I gingerly handle a book while reading it, careful to never crease the spine, and I have always used bookmarks so the pages aren’t bent to hold my place.  While I no longer do this, I at one time carefully enclosed my "keepers” in a water-proof bag, and stored them away in boxes (plastic, if I could afford them).  I do not eat while I am reading – a stray crumb or spatter would destroy my appetite. 

Most of my family makes fun of me for this obsessive behavior, because I don’t feel that way about anything else.  Certainly not about my clothes or my car, and even my beloved laptop plays second fiddle to my books.  If a library book is too battle scarred, I can’t read it.  I would love to purchase more used books, but I am so particular about what condition they are in that I don’t .  Even if I know that I am probably not going to keep a book, I still prefer to read a new, fresh copy.  I don’t lend out my favorite titles, because they never come back in pristine condition.  I will not even tell you how mortified I felt when my niece returned A Game of Thrones in pieces.  She is lucky that I love her, and that’s all I will say about that!

I think that I am this way because I derive so much enjoyment from books.  I feel that they need to be respected and, dare I say it, even loved.  Despite the teasing I receive, I can’t see this changing, either.  My clothes may be wrinkled and a bit weary, but my books never will be! 

Do you care what condition a book is in before you pick it up to read?  What’s your answer to this week’s question?

Review: Pilgrim’s Castle by Violet Winspear & Misuzu Sasaki

Title: Pilgrim’s Castle by Violet Winspear & Misuzu Sasaki

Publisher: Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp.

Available at eManga

Pilgrim’s Castle is an old-school Harlequin, written by one of the launch authors for the Harlequin Presents line.  This manga title brought back memories of my school days, when I gobbled up as many category romances as I could get my hands on.  I’ll admit that Violet Winspear was never a favorite, but I did read quite a few of her books, usually titles with exotic settings.  Those are still my favorite, because I still don’t have the budget for travel to foreign locales. 

This title felt dated to me.  Written in 1987, it features a demure heroine and an extreme alpha male.  Yvain is the survivor of a shipwreck, and when she washes ashore on wealthy Juan’s beach, he promptly takes her home and nurses her back to health.  Yvain is British, and she was employed as a maid for a rich couple when the ship sank.  Juan invites her to stay at his spacious villa as long as likes.  Yvain is a bit afraid of the gruff Sicilian, and the mean housekeeper doesn’t make her feel very welcome.

As Yvain settles into life on the island, she is confused by the mixed signals she gets from almost every character in the book.  The housekeeper meddles into her business and warns her away from Juan, a friendly young singer isn’t as nice as he seems, and Juan is distant and aloof.  All of the drama is enough to give a girl a complex, and since Yvain doesn’t have a healthy self-image to begin with, she is understandably distressed.

One of the aspects of Violet Winspear’s writing that I have never liked is how distant her heroes are.  They rarely speak, making meaningful conversations both sparse and difficult, and they are detached from their surroundings.  While this leads to a lot of anxiety on the part of the protagonist, it does not equate to romantic behavior in my mind, and that is what is lacking in this title.  There is hardly any romance leading up to the Big Declaration and the Happily Ever After.

What did I like about Pilgrim’s Castle?  The same thing I usually like in a Winspear story – the setting is gorgeous, Yvain’s new surroundings are to die for, and even if he doesn’t know how to gently woo a young, impressionable young woman, Juan certainly can afford to buy her beautiful things.  So, sadly, I only found Juan appealing because of the size of his bank account.

Grade: C+

Review material provided by eManga

Cover Shot! The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter looks awesome!  I love the premise – I love anything that has to do with Greek mythology.  I also love the greens on the cover, and the title font is just cool.  Plus, Aimee is a Michigan author, and I try to support local authors.

Synopsis:

It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

In stores April 2011

Review: The Pirate Captain’s Daughter by Eve Bunting

 

Title: The Pirate Captain’s Daughter

Author: Eve Bunting

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

ISBN: 978-1585365258

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

At age fifteen, Catherine’s life is about to change. Her mother has just died and Catherine can’t stand the thought of being sent to live with her aunt in Boston. She longs for a life of adventure.

After she discovers her father’s secret life as captain of the pirate ship Reprisal, her only thoughts are to join him on the high seas. Catherine imagines a life of sailing the blue waters of the Caribbean, the wind whipping at her back. She’s heard tales of bloodshed and brutality but her father’s ship would never be like that.

Catherine convinces her father to let her join him, disguised as a boy. But once the  Reprisal sets sail, she finds life aboard a pirate ship is not for the faint of heart. If her secret is uncovered, punishment will be swift and brutal.

Review:

Wow.  The Pirate Captain’s Daughter was a surprise.  This book tells it like it is – it doesn’t romanticize pirates, and there is no Jack Sparrow to be found anywhere in these pages.  A pirate’s life was not glamorous, and it certainly wasn’t a bunch of fun and games.  Pillaging other ships was dangerous work, and Catherine has to avoid cannon balls and bullets while her father’s crew was attacking another ship.  Cleanliness is a thing of the past, and the food – let’s just say the less said about the weevil infested bread, the better.  Don’t forget about the giant rats hiding below-decks, and the fleas and the cockroaches.  Yeah, this is not my idea of a fun time.

Catherine convinces her father to let her join his pirate crew after her mother dies.  Her father is reluctant, because the other pirates are superstitious and believe that women bring nothing but bad luck out at sea.  If her identity is discovered, both of their lives will be in danger.  He finally relents, and Catherine is introduced to a world far different than anything she had ever imagined.  There is no privacy, some of her crew-mates are less than friendly, and her father seems like a completely different person.  

A quick but very intense read, The Pirate Captain’s Daughter held me spellbound.  I couldn’t put it down, and stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it.  Though I thought Catherine was foolish for getting herself into such a precarious situation, I liked her and I liked her voice.  She tells it like it is, and she doesn’t hold much back.  There is conflict on the ship, with two pirates in particular, and they both bring disaster to her life.  They terrify her, but she knows that if she shows them how intimidated they make her feel they will bully her mercilessly the entire voyage. 

For a nitty-gritty taste of a pirate’s life, give this book a chance.  It’s a quick read with plenty of danger, action, and suspense.  There is even a tiny touch of romance thrown in for good measure.  I am hoping for a sequel, because I want to see what’s next for Catherine.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Cover Shot! Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Gretchen McNeil revealed the cover for her paranormal/horror debut, Possess. The cover is totally creepy!  I love the color scheme, and branches look like they are getting a little grabby.  Scary!  I am still new to the horror genre, but it is quickly becoming a favorite.  Possess has demons!  I love demons!!  Check out Gretchen’s blog here to find out more about her book!

 

Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by the hunky son of the police officer who got her father killed, and by the eerie voices which she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Turns out the voices are demons–the Biblical kind, not the Buffy kind–and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them.

San Francisco’s senior exorcist and his newly assigned partner from the Vatican enlist Bridget’s help with increasingly bizarre and dangerous cases of demonic possession. But when one of Bridget’s oldest friends turns up dead in a ritualistic sacrifice that mirrors her father’s murder, Bridget realizes she can’t trust anyone. An interview with her father’s murderer reveals a link between Bridget and the Emim: a race of part-demons intent on raising their forefathers to the earth in human form. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the Emim’s plan before someone else close to her winds up dead, or worse–the human vessel for a Demon King.

Hits shelves August 2011

Review: Dengeki Daisy Vol 1 by Kyousuke Motomi

 

Title: Dengeki Daisy Vol 1

Author: Kyousuke Motomi

Publisher:  Viz

ISBN: 978-1421537276

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

While Dengeki Daisy didn’t have the same appeal for me as Beast Master, I did enjoy the first volume of Kyousuke Motomi’s new series.  It did take a few chapters for me to get caught up in the story, though, because I found Teru’s texts to and thoughts about Daisy so corny.  By the conclusion of the volume they didn’t seem so sickeningly saccharine, and that’s probably because, unlike Teru, I knew that the rough around the edges Kurosaki is Daisy, and suddenly the messages seemed kind of sweet and caring.

Teru is a penniless high school student and she is attending school on a scholarship.  She’s highly intelligent, a hard worker, and a kind hearted girl.  Because she’s poor, the rich student council has been bullying her, and, to be honest, I am a little burned out on stories with bullies, so I didn’t get caught up in the plot right away.  Thankfully, with Daisy’s intervention, the meanies don’t pick on Teru for more than a couple of chapters.  Once that plot thread was wrapped up, I found myself enjoying the book more.

Teru’s brother died, leaving the girl without any family.  Before he passed away, he gave her a cell phone, and told her that Daisy would be there if she needed someone to talk to.  Teru has been sending text messages to the mysterious Daisy whenever she needs some cheering up, and Daisy promptly replies with encouraging words that always make her feel better.  What Teru doesn’t know is that Daisy is really Kurosaki, the gruff school custodian, a guy who looks like a delinquent and who gets on her nerves every time she has to talk to him.  She accidentally broke a school window, and to make up for it, she’s forced to help Kurosaki because she can’t afford to buy a new one.  Kurosaki takes advantage of her assistance by making her do all of the work while he goofs around.  This infuriates her, so insults and sparks fly when they are together.

Despite a tendency toward cluttered art, I found the illustrations in Dengeki Daisy expressive.  I like the character designs, especially Kurosaki’s rough and tumble looks, and thought that the many emotions displayed were easy to follow.  The humorous scenes worked well for me, too.  While there is plenty of drama to be found, there are also more comedic moments to break up the tension.

One thing that did bother me the entire book is Kurosaki’s smoking.  Ugh!  I find the habit deplorable, and I started worrying about Teru’s lungs as she was forced to breathe in all of that second hand cigarette smoke.   It’s also stinky, and so not cool.

Though I wasn’t totally bowled over by the book, I did find it a pleasant read.  I am curious to learn more about Kurosaki and his relationship with Teru’s brother, as well has how he agreed to become Daisy in the first place.  I haven’t decided yet whether I should be creeped out about his feelings for Teru or not. He is a little too old to have feelings for a high school student.

Grade: B

Review copy purchased from Rightstuf.com

Teaser Tuesday–Where I Belong and Bitter Melon

I just finished Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley, and I absolutely loved this book.  Here is a teaser in hopes that you will add it to your book shopping lists, so you can feel the love, too.

“With the thought of Broken Spoke prom haunting me, I finish my pancakes.  I’ve always been an emotional eater.  There goes my diet.”

I love books where the protagonists mature, and watching Corrinne transform from a selfish, spoiled rich kid into a character I actually cared about was a lot of fun.

Right now I am reading Bitter Melon by Cara Chow.  So far, my only thought about this book is how much sympathy I feel for Frances.  Her demanding mother has the guilt trip down to a science.

“As she talks, she squeezes harder, her nails digging deeper into my skin.  “This is our pact,” Mom says. “You understand?”

I nod.

“Answer me!”

Yikes!!  Poor Frances!  She has the burden of making her mom’s dreams come true, without regard for her own.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Cover Shot! High Hurdles Collection by Lauraine Snelling

If you have been hanging out at the blog for a while, you know by now that I am geeked about books with animals, especially horses and dogs.  I wasn’t aware of the High Hurdles series until I saw this cover for the first omnibus edition, which collects the first five books of the series.  Once I see that a book is about horses, I don’t need to know much more; I just want to read it.  I especially love books about horse competitions, though I wish there were a few more out there in my riding disciple, which is saddleseat.  Discounted to $9.90 at Amazon, this is a steal!

 

Synopsis:

Fourteen-year-old DJ Randall wants nothing more than to compete as a show jumper in the Olympics. The challenges that stand in her way only spur her to work harder toward her dream. Whether it’s mucking out stalls and hosting pony parties to earn money to buy her first horse or navigating the changing family dynamics at home, DJ relies on her faith in God to see her through the most daunting obstacles. Collection One includes Olympic Dreams, DJ’s Challenge, Setting the Pace, Out of the Blue, and Storm Clouds.

In stores April 1

Here is the old cover for the first book in the series – I think the new one is much more appealing. What do you think?