Apr. 4th, 2014

Random Assassins lulz

"How long can you share minds with one who scratches and licks himself, who will roll in carrion, who goes mad when a female is in season, who thinks no further than the next meal before you accept his values as your own? Then what will you be?"

-"A guardsman?" I hazarded.


Bwahahahaha. Well played, Fitz.

Aug. 17th, 2013

A quick bookshop pimp!

Book prices in Kiwi bookshops are pretty much atrocious, even in second-hand places (no, I will not pay you $15 for a yellowed, back-broken, hard-worn, stained paperback, tyvm!), so I've pretty much had to order books from online for years. Since I order a LOT of books, I've tried a lot of online booksellers, especially this year when [info]alsha and I more or less stumbled into collecting rare-edition hardcovers of some of our favourite hardcovers, which, btw, let me take this opportunity to brag that I FINALLY HAVE ALL OF ROBIN HOBB'S FARSEER/LIVESHIPS/TAWNY MAN/RAIN WILDS BOOKS IN SHINY HARDCOVERS, OMG! BEHOLD:



Ahem. Sorry about that. Back to topic! I haven't been using Amazon in years, partly because ugh, big corporate moloch, but mostly because their international shipping is utterly atrocious. Frequently seeing that taunting "this order qualifies for free shipping!" button and knowing it will never, never, never apply to me has made me pretty cranky! There are only so many times you can excitedly click on "checkout," then stare at the shipping rate in shock, realise the shipping is more than your entire order, and cancel the whole thing in disgust, before you go looking for your book-buying needs elsewhere.

There's AbeBooks, of course, and I do use them for rare books and editions I can't find anywhere else, but in general the various sellers' shipping rates are pretty hefty too, so usually even if I get a used book for $0.50, I still end up paying like $16 with shipping, which is a bit ridic.

So I thought I'd share my three top favourite places to order books from - cheaply, hassle-free, and either with free or very cheap shipping!

1. The Book Depository
This UK-based site has been my standard go-to place for books for several years. If you're keen on new rather than used books, I cannot recommend these guys highly enough.

Basic features: They have worldwide free shipping, a huge selection (I've only very rarely not found something I wanted there), and they ship super-fast (I usually receive my order within 10 days, which to New Zealand is just amazing). Plus their prices are really really good and they always have heaps of sales on.

Extra goodies: They also do regular fun super-sale campaigns, like the "24 books in 24 hours" campaign, where a different book goes on a ridiculously cheap sale every hour and you can get some awesome bargains for presents and such (if you're fast! Part of the fun is keeping up with the selling madness for 24 hours :D). It's well worth signing up for the newsletter.

Customer service: Rocks. In the unlikely event that your order gets lost (happened to me once in several years) or arrives damaged, they will replace it immediately with no fuss. My copy of Code Name Verity arrived with a small tear in the back cover, not at all affecting the reading experience, but when I asked them about a discount, they promptly refunded me the full amount so I essentially got a brandnew book with a small flaw for free! Basically they are fabulous.

2. AwesomeBooks:
Also UK-based. I've been using them for a year or so and am loving their large used-books selection for very reasonable prices.

Basic features: They ship for free in the UK, for free if you order more than one item to Europe/US/Canada/Aus/NZ, and for a £2.99 flat rate to anywhere else. They have three sections, new books (reasonably priced), used books (cheap) and bargain bin (extra-cheap). Even the cheapest of their books is in good condition, you won't get anything grotty-looking. Shipping time seems to vary between really fast and quite slow, so that's not super-predictable but oh well.

Extra goodies: They regularly send out coupon codes via newsletter, Twitter and FB so you can often knock an extra 10% or so off an already cheap rate. They're also great for grabbing up cheap used hardcovers without having to worry about the weight for shipping! The only thing I don't recommend them for is if you're after a specific edition - if it's used books, they'll usually send you whatever edition they have on hand.

Customer service: Lovely. They respond quickly and are very helpful. Had an incident once where one book didn't arrive for ages so I contacted them and they promptly sent me a replacement, only then the original finally trundled in a few weeks later, lol. Oops.

3. Better World Books:
I started using this US-based site a few months ago when they turned out to be the only place on the internet that had a hardcover we really really wanted (Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn, so out of print it's not even funny!) for less than $1000, lol. And now I love them because reasons.

Basic features: Worldwide free shipping. New books and used books, a sliding price scale depending on the book's condition, but again, all the conditions seem pretty good.

Extra goodies: They support several literacy and book donation programs like Books for Africa and Feed the Children, and for each book you buy, they donate a book to one of those programs, which I LOVE. (and yes, yes, there are many people all over the world who probably need food more than they need books but I don't know, there's something beautiful to me about feeding the mind and soul as well. Books are totally an essential need).

Customer service: MADE OF WIN. They answer questions immediately, are helpful with looking for specific editions if you need them, and are just on the ball. Also, their various communication templates are freaking hilarious.

Behold a basic shipping confirmation: )


That's pretty much it. I wanted to pimp these because I love the way they make books affordable and accessible worldwide, because you can tell they care about what they do, and because I want smaller places like this to stay in business despite the overwhelming presence of Amazon & Co. So next time you're looking to order a book, maybe consider one of these guys instead :)

Mar. 29th, 2013

Reading meme

Snurched from [info]amo_amas_amat, because yeah, Goodreads is not enough! *piles stacks of books everywhere*

What are you reading now?
As usual, several things!

1) A Very Bad Book, lol. It's a tie-in novel from the Buffy verse called Oz - Into the Wild by one Christopher Golden. I got it because a) it was $2 in the bargain bin and b) it tells the story of Oz's journey after he leaves Sunnydale and how bad can that really be?? Well, the writing's pretty atrocious, so we'll see if the story can save it. I'm not very far in.

2) Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper. It's the first in a new-ish fantasy trilogy that sounded intriguing - it's got a music-based magic system and an evil church and a fairy realm. I like what I've read so far but it's been slow going because I haven't really clicked with anything yet and keep getting distracted by other books.

3) Broken Fortress by Ginn Hale, 6th installment in a 10-volume fantasy series that's thoroughly bizarre. No really, it's all so odd that 6 books in, I honestly still couldn't even tell you if it's good or just bonkers, lol. There's timey-wimeyness with multiple timelines and different incarnations of characters and the world-building is really interesting, but it's all a bit like the writing was heavily influenced by mind-altering substances. I'm enjoying it but it's e-books and I don't have a reader so it's a bit annoying having to read it on the laptop.

4) 25 Chapters of My Life, the memoirs of Olga Alexandrovna, who is my favourite Romanov. (She was Czar Nicholas' younger sister who was forced into a marriage with a prince she didn't love, became a nurse during WW1, fell in love with a commoner, got a divorce and married him despite the Czar's wishes, and managed to escape from Russia with her husband and two tiny kids before the Bolsheviks got a hold of them). Just started this the other night and am very much looking forward to the rest of it.

What did you just finish reading?
Robin Hobb's Blood of Dragons. IT WAS PERFECTION. *flails*

What are you reading next?
So many options, I don't even know! I need more Robin Hobb so it's a good thing I've got her short-story collection The Inheritance lying around and still have never read it. I am seriously contemplating going back to the Farseers books and reading aaaaaaaall the series chronologically (that way when I get off the devastation that is Fool's Fate, I could dive straight into Dragon Keeper and not be all lost and bookless). But I also want to start reading Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels, and I just got Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts, which I've been wanting to read for ages, and I meant to read A Room With A View, and also I still haven't started The Cosmonaut Who Couldn't Stop Smiling about Yuri Gagarin, and I've been meaning to read Code Name Verity as well, and ack. I need more hours in my hours.

 photo houseofbooks_zpsaf49cf6b.jpg

Jan. 3rd, 2013

My year on IJ (for 2012)

Until such time as I have something new and entertaining to post about, have yet another meme!

Instructions: Take the first sentence you posted from every month and add the first photo you posted that same month.

For science )

The theme this year was definitely mad fandom-hopping, many obsessions and the usual amount of procrastination!

Jul. 9th, 2012

55 Reading Questions meme

Book memes, wheeeee! Ganked from winterlover.

Favourites books, pet peeves and reading habits )

Jul. 3rd, 2012

Fancast/pimping: The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

So far, 2012 has been an excellent year for new fandom discoveries. Between Revenge and The Middleman and Teen Wolf, I already don't even know which way to swoon first, and that's not even taking into account all the great books.

So here's another book rec, because I am seriously bursting with love and I need to share: The Demon's Lexicon is a young-adult urban fantasy trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan, whom some of you may remember from her Harry Potter fanfic days and the epic win of "Underwater Light", and whom the rest of you need to start reading, like, NOW.

The trilogy consists of three books: The Demon's Lexicon, The Demon's Covenant and The Demon's Surrender. I read the first one years ago when it came out and wasn't that impressed; then I reread it this year and fell violently in love. Go figure.

I suck at plot summaries, so here's what the blurb for the first book has to say about the premise:

"Sixteen-year-old Nick knows that demons are real. Magicians call up demons in exchange for their power. The demons can appear in any shape, show you marvels, promise you anything - until you invite them in and receive their mark.

What happens next?
First you get possessed.
Then you die.

Nick's been on the run his whole life, ever since his mother stole a charm from the most feared magician of them all, and the only person he trusts is his brother Alan. Alan's just been marked by a demon. Only Nick can save him, but to do so he must face the magicians - and kill them. The hunt is on, and Nick's going to discover things he never dreamed were out there."


So yeah. There's lots of drama and darkness and violence and running from things and running after things. Lots of saving each other's lives, and also risking each other's lives. And of course there has to be time for snarky one-liners while doing either. And for hitting on people. Or rejecting people. Or becoming friends with people you really, really didn't plan on being friends with.

On my personal scale of awesomeness, which measures everything in this particular genre against Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I should find a name for that - the Buffy Meter?), this gets about 90%. The writing is smart and fun. There's snarky dialogue and a clever sense of humour ("My life was going to flash before my eyes, but it decided to hide behind my eyes and quake with terror instead."). There's heartbreak. There are clever twists and the pacing is great. When Nick and Alan are forced to team up with another marked boy and his sister - who is as determined to save her brother as Nick is to save his - the obligatory teenage love tangles ensue, but there are no cliché turns here. This story does one of my favourite things really well: reversal of stereotype. The women are smart and strong and nobody is annoyingly perfect - on the contrary, everyone is fucked up in the most delicious ways, lol. There's a strong focus on unconventional friendships and family ties, especially sibling relationships, complete with twisted loyalties and betrayal and agonies of all sort. It is fabulous.

Above all, it has well-crafted, compelling characters. That are insanely shippy. I love every single one of them so much that I can't even pick a favourite, so instead, I've done a fancast and am just going to throw all of them at you. With the proviso that if/when you read the books, you are grudgingly allowed to imagine them completely differently ;) And if you're very keen on not being exposed to someone else's physical idea of characters, don't click on the cut or don't read on.

Thus endeth the rec.


(Basically this was my excuse to collect a bunch of pretty pictures of pretty people and flail embarrassingly about beloved characters at the same time. Everyone wins, especially me.)

((Also this is spoiler-free. I am not giving away any major plot points.))

Character fancast picspam! )

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