Are you on Goodreads yet? If not, you should be. One of the reasons why is because you can get free books! Let me explain. There’s a section in Goodreads called First Reads. Authors list a giveaway of a hard copy of their book. They can give out one, or they can give out 100, whatever they want. The giveaways are listed for a limited amount of time and you can sort through by ones that are ending soon, popular, most requested, etc. Goodreads users can enter to win by just giving their mailing address. THAT’S IT! So easy.
The books listed are ones that haven’t been released to the public yet. The whole idea is that if you win, you get a “first read” of it so that you can start to post reviews early to help promote the book. And you don’t need a blog or anything to do that; you can just post a review on Goodreads.
I am SO excited because I finally was chosen for a giveaway! And it’s a book that I was going to buy anyway. Score! I’ll be getting “The Song Remains the Same” by Allison Winn Scotch. I guess it’ll take a few weeks to get to me, but that should still be in advance of the release date of April 12. I’ll be posting about it here as soon as I’m done!
It’s also a good way to learn about up-and-coming new authors and releases, and who knows, maybe you’d win a book from someone new to you and gain a new favorite author!
I went just a wee bit crazy on Amazon recently pre-ordering books for my Kindle. I admit that I’m not very good at keeping up with what new books are coming out, but Amazon’s “Recommended Items” that show up whenever you buy something else are FANTASTIC. Thanks to that handy little tool, here’s everything that I pre-ordered…
- “Home Front” by Kristin Hannah – this just came out on January 30 but I haven’t started to read it yet
- “I’ve Got Your Number” by Sophie Kinsella – February 14
- “Lone Wolf” by Jodi Picoult – February 28
- “Another Piece of My Heart” by Jane Green – March 13
- “The Song Remains the Same” by Allison Winn Scotch – April 12
- “Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult’s Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It’s Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner” by Jen Lancaster – May 1
- “Summerland” by Elin Hilderbrand – June 26
- “The Next Best Thing” by Jennifer Weiner – July 10
- “Where We Belong” by Emily Giffin – July 31
Looks like I’ll be busy for the next six months or so. This list is just about all of my favorite authors. 2012 is gonna be AWESOME!
By the way, have you started your 2012 Reading Challenge yet on Goodreads? I’ve already read 8 books out of the 35 that I predicted as my goal for the year. I have a feeling I’m going to go over since this is only February. I’m thinking about doing a contest for my readers to guess how many I’ll go over by and then whoever comes the closest at the end of the year will win some sort of a prize… what do you think? I credit author Jenn Thorson for the contest suggestion during a recent discussion on Twitter. Thanks Jenn!
I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales About Man’s Best Friends from America’s Favorite Humorists by Wade Rouse
Stories about dogs. By some of my favorite authors. Need I say more? AND LOOK AT THE COVER.
“I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship” is a compilation of very short stories from a variety of popular writers about man’s (or woman’s) best friend. The book starts with a foreword by Chunk, comedienne Chelsea Handler’s adopted pup. The rest of the stories were told from the perspective of the human. I was especially excited to read the stories from Jen Lancaster, Jenny Gardiner, Laurie Notaro, Jane Green, and Sarah Pekkanen (particularly because I am a big fan of their other books). This book also helped introduce me to some new-t0-me authors who were especially hilarious.
These stories weren’t super sad, “Marley and Me“-ending types of stories. Most of them were laugh-out-loud funny, and if not laugh-out-loud funny, then at least chuckle-and-smile-to-myself funny. Others were sweet and loving stories that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If you have a dog, this book will make you really appreciate your relationship with your furry best friend, and if you don’t have a dog, you will probably want to go out and adopt one right away! Also, 50% of each book purchased goes to the Humane Society of the United States. How could you go wrong?
So last night, I got to meet Jen Lancaster!! Her newest book (and her first novel), If You Were Here, just came out and she was on a book tour and stopped in Pittsburgh. I got there a little late (thanks, traffic) so I was standing in the back of the group and couldn’t really see her during the reading/Q&A session. If you’ve read any of her books, she seems just as awesome and hilarious as she is in her books. And super cute and preppy-looking, too. She was a real trouper and signed the book of every person in line (I also ended up toward the back of the line and it took me almost 2 hours to get to her!) and made sure to chit-chat and get pics with everyone who wanted one.
I am so kicking myself now, though. See, Jen talks about in her books how when she’s around a celebrity, she starts to talk their ear off and tries to touch their hair. Her interaction with Alec Baldwin was the best, though (read “My Fair Lazy” to find out what I’m talking about!). But when I get in front of someone famous (or even semi-famous like a local news personality), I freeze up and can’t even get words out. What I WISH I would have mentioned to her was: 1) that I have this blog and I’ve read all of her books within the past few months and love her, and 2) that she inspired me from her book “Such a Pretty Fat” to join a gym and get a personal trainer; if she could do it, so could I. But…. I’m a wimp and just made some comment about the spelling of my name because she mispronounced it and said something about being glad they gave us (the ones in the back of the line) chairs. Yes, I’m a loser. Either way, it was really awesome to see hear her talk and get to meet her for 60 seconds.
Here are my short summaries of her books (all but the newest one are memoirs) since I don’t want this post to be TOO long (and it’s best if you read in chronological order, as listed below) –
“Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office“: Jen was in a high-paying executive career until the post-September 11th recession, when she was fired. Her life goes from one extreme to the other pretty quickly and her then boyfriend, Fletch, also finds himself out of a job. Through a number of temp jobs and some difficult and frustrating situations involving money, they come out on top and Jen lands a book deal in the process.
“Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl’s Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, Or, Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next to Me?”: This one is a little more about Jen’s daily life and experience living in Chicago in a questionable neighborhood, shopping, and her thoughts on just about everything.
“Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or, Why Pie Is Not the Answer”: Jen proposes an idea for a new book: a memoir about her journey to lose weight. Once it is accepted by her publisher, she realizes she actually has to DO it. She hires a personal trainer named Barbie (just imagine how that turns out) and goes on a number of different diets. This is the book that pushed me to get off the couch and join a gym and try to eat better. At her signing last night, someone asked if she still sees Barbie (which she doesn’t, she moved away) and Jen stated that she has realized it is more enjoyable NOT to go to the gym.
“Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and A Wardrobe, Or, The Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase”: This one’s a little different, as Jen details her clothing choices from childhood up until current day and how they’ve shaped her life. To be honest, although I did like this book, it is not my favorite out of her collection. I like the current snarky Jen more than hearing about her younger days.
“My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover if Not Being A Dumb Ass is the New Black, Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto“: In between working on her books, Jen has become a reality TV addict. After spending time with a more “cultured” friend, she embarks on a quest to become more well-rounded as a person and learn about the arts and ethnic dining, which she calls her “Jennaissance”.
Don’t pay attention to the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I agree that maybe she’s not everyone’s taste, but Jen Lancaster is freakin’ hilarious. She’s snarky, sarcastic, snotty, and sometimes inappropriate, but she sure is entertaining. She tends to say and do those things that you think in your head but would never actually do. Need some good beach reads for this summer? Pick up some of her books. You might get some looks when you start laughing out loud while reading them, but it’s worth it. Her books are a “guilty pleasure”, some would say.
I’m looking forward to reading her newest book and will blog about it when I’m done!
My local paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, just published a list of fiction and non-fiction books for summer called “Summer Reading: From beach blankets to cool mountain evenings, vacation days call for a good book“. You can click on that link and go and read the whole article and descriptions of each book, but here is a quick list of the books and links to the books on Amazon:
- “Spies of the Balkans” by Alan Furst
- “A Fierce Radiance” by Lauren Belfer
- “Truth” by Peter Temple
- “Seven Year Switch” by Claire Cook
- “The One That I Want” by Allison Winn Scotch (I just read this and loved it!)
- “The Outer Banks House” by Diann Ducharme
- “My Name Is Memory” by Ann Brashares
- “American Music” by Jane Mendelsohn
- “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender
- “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan
- “Broken” by Karen Slaughter
- “Everything” by Kevin Canty
- “The Same River Twice” by Ted Mooney
- “Kraken” by China Mieville
- “Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century” by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger
- “Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America” by Jack Rakove
- “Broke, USA” by Gary Rivlin
- “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick
- “The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn” by Nathaniel Philbrick
- “Three Chords for Beauty’s Sake: The Life of Artie Shaw” by Tom Nolan
- “The Promise: President Obama, Year One” by Jonathan Alter
- “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in A Connected Age” by Clay Shirky
- “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr
Need a last minute Father’s Day gift? I’m sure a lot of bookworm dads out there may like some of these titles!
Are you going to go out and pick up any of these books for your summer vacation? Or do you already have a stack of books in your beach bag ready to go? Please feel free to share your recommendations!
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