Covers Gone Bad!

Ever wonder “What the what were they thinking?” when you see some  book covers? We sure do! I have always wanted to share them and poke fun or just let you know some of the entertaining things I come across in my ebook bargain hunting sessions. But I am no “mean girl” so I will try to protect the guilty by covering author names and book titles. Who wants backlash and email and ill will?  Not I!

This week’s “what the what” moment came when I saw this poor, sad representation of Rosie the Riveter. Sideburns, eek,  and bushy eyebrows? No she didn’t! I don’t think I want to know why she appears to be tying off her arm.
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This is the “real” Rosie for comparison:
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What Makes a Good Story?

I’m frustrated. You see, my favorite reading niche is tiny. It’s Pride & Prejudice fanfiction. Like, when a new book comes out in the genre, I immediately download the sample, hoping it will be good enough for an impulse buy.

Lately I haven’t found anything too promising, which is why I’ve spent more hours playing with my own manuscripts in the genre.

But working on my own P&P ideas makes me take a step back. What is it about a story that makes me HAVE to turn the pages?

The first thing I can identify is tension. I thought it was action, stuff happening, but no, the reality is even in a Regency romance I have to legitimately worry that things aren’t going to go smoothly. Too many lackluster titles in my preferred genre are dinner party after ball after dinner party, a few misunderstandings, and voila, Darcy and Elizabeth are married. YAWN.

Far more rarely I will run across the melodramatic, where every single thing that happens seems to be a dire threat to our favorite romantic couple, and yes that is tiresome.

Another important key I have learned for any “good” story is a lack of details. Recently I fell into the Vampire Academy series. While I have a picture in my mind of the main character, I know most of the details are things my mind filled in. I find stories that feel a need to tell me a character’s hair color are usually not on my repeat read list.

Finally, and this is a HUGE pet peeve, a good story has to give me an ending. I PAID for an ending. Not a “buy volume two to find out what happens” to the main question of the story. This isn’t a comic book. A recent trend in my preferred genre is “volumes” meaning the book is really one story, but you have to pay full price three or four times to get the whole story. This isn’t the same as a series which encapsulates one escapade or chapter of the overall story. No, it’s a book that just abruptly ends at some random point because the author/publisher decided there was a large enough page count. That sucks. And I’m starting to see this trend move to other genres, too. :(

So that’s where I stand. A good story has to have tension, a lack of details so I’m included in creating the story reading experience, and an honest-to-goodness ending.

What about you? What are the requirements for you to say “Hmmm, that was a good story?”

Grab Your Ticket to Ride!

ALL ABOARD!!!!

ticket to ride

I love independent games. Once upon a Christmas shopping season, my two sisters and I were dragged to a Montgomery Wards and instructed to be on our best behavior. Just under the escalators was a geeky looking couple with a little card table and the coolest space board game my sisters and I had ever seen. Thankfully, my parents bought us Alien Encounter and we spent two years wiggling “Worm hole, worm hole” at each other, while also picking up facts about our planets and the many moons and other objects out there. I share this because to this day, I am still so thankful to that man and woman who developed that board game and gave me and my sisters memories of fun we never had from the Monopolies or Mall Madnesses that came and went over and over again. Even back then, I knew that this game was special because you could ONLY buy it from the man and woman who were there, selling the board game they developed themselves store by store.

Ticket to Ride began as one such board game way back in 2003 called Station to Station. The game premise is simple: build a railroad. The price tag on the board game itself was always a little too high for me to commit when I would see it at Barnes and Noble or specialty toy shops. By chance one day at work, I learned there was an app version on our iPads, and lo and behold, it’s available for Android!

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Gorgeously inked in a steampunk-Victorian cartoonish way, Ticket to Ride is a great strategy game mixed with history to lend hours of fun. You can play by yourself against the computer, with friends online, or pass and play with people next to you. Given the intricate pieces involved in the board game, I must say the app version is very no mess!

By matching colors, and using wilds, you link your train cards to claim routes between major cities. At the start of the game, players are given secret long route cards, like Chicago to Los Angeles with a point value assigned if you succeed at the end of the game. The game ends when a player is down to 2 train pieces or less left. But watch out, if you take extra trip cards, or just fail to finish the ones you claimed at the beginning, you have those points taken away from you at the end! Ouch!

game play

You collect the cards at the bottom to fill gray tracks (any color will match) or matching colored track before your opponents do to link up cities!

Each turn you are faced with a dilemma of wits. Do I draw more train cards to build up my stash? Do I go ahead and lay down cards to claim tracks, possibly exposing where I want to go? Or do I collect extra trips to try to win more points plus the 15 bonus points for completing the most trips? Decisions, decisions.

The app is a little pricey. $6.99 gets you just the initial map, additional maps are anywhere between 99 cents to a few more dollars. But, I think given the unique nature of the game, the stunning graphics, the seamless execution, and the repeating playability, it’s well worth it. With a little help, early readers can play once they can recognize the city names, and the rest is just color matching. But knowing which tracks to go for and which to wait on is always different each game because it all depends on the trip routes your fellow players are trying to accomplish. It’s tricky!

If you’re looking for a great game with a little more substance to it than just the simple physics games out there (shoot an object to knock down other objects, or here, slash these objects with your finger), I highly recommend Ticket to Ride!

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Best New Books from PW and the Piggies!

The best new books this week from PW (Publishers Weekly) include the one I reviewed for this early April issue of Read Me.

Others include:

godsmonsters
The thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy! Nook and Kindle links.

in paradise
A retreat at Auschwitz, you realize, will be explosive in many ways. From Booklist :“The two-time National Book Award–winner doesn’t shy away from boldly tackling the most profound of subjects… Matthiessen expertly raises the challenges and the difficulties inherent in addressing this subject matter, proving…that the creation of art “is the only path that might lead toward the apprehension of that ultimate evil . . . [that] the only way to understand such evil is to reimagine it.”
Nook and Kindle links.

***We offer our “best new books this week” even though we are not PW. We are your piggies, though. ***

dorodie
An edgy account that takes Baum’s Dorothy and brings her to YA dystopia! Girl power, an assassination plot, and Dorothy. It’s all I need to sign on. I also love the cover and that is most important, we all know it. I got this one yesterday using credit from Kobo so I will be reviewing it in the future right here.
Nook and Kindle links.

bette
The DIVINE! A revisit of her classic memoir with photographs, a new intro, and, of course, heartwarming stories of a fabulous career.
Nook and Kindle links.

wrong enemy
For something more to chew on, this nonfiction title from Carlotta Gall. She has reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan for nearly the entire invasion by American troops and the resulting occupation.
Nook and Kindle links.

Game of Thrones Returns!

Tonight is the night!

After the Red Wedding can you handle more? All reports are that you will have to be ready to say goodbye to more of your favorite characters, no one is safe! Add to that, Martin is in the process of writing the sixth book!

Check out a recap of seasons 1 and 2 here:

The books:
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KINDLE NOOK

Catch up on Seasons 1-3
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