Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Happiness Blog Tour and Giveaway

Guest Post today!!
***
Bryan Cohen here, guest poster and author, promoting my new book The Post-College Guide to Happiness for The Happiness Blog Tour. I'm giving away free digital review copies of the book and doing a giveaway for paperback copies, audio copies and even a Kindle Fire! Read on and check out the info below the post.

The Happiest Place on Earth

My girlfriend and I just visited Boulder, Colorado for a Bar Mitzvah over the weekend. It was beautiful and hip and it brought up the discussion of where we might want to settle when we’re older. We both have the possibility of working remotely in the future, which cuts down on a lot of restrictions some people have to deal with when selecting a location. The conversation made me realize that no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve learned to be happy there and I could probably do the same in any place. This is because the happiness I had wasn’t the result of a geographical region or a great music scene. It was the joy I brought and cultivated with me wherever I went.

I’ve heard many people complain about their location and they might cite it as one of the top reasons for their unhappiness. In most cases, however, it’s nothing but an excuse. Complaining about the traffic, weather and local government of a place can blind you to all the positive aspects the area has to offer. If you only talk about what’s wrong with it, of course you’re going to hate it. And guess what? If you move somewhere else hoping to get rid of your troubles, the negativity inside you is likely to move immediately to your next location.

You can’t control many aspects of a city or town. It’s best to concentrate on what you can change. You can affect how clean you keep your apartment and what friends you have over. You choose where in the city to go for fun and how often you want to explore the nooks and crannies for diamonds in the rough. Lastly, you get to control your attitude of how you react to the good and bad aspects of your location. If you can work on keeping your attitude bright no matter how cloudy it gets, you’re bound to have a much better time in the place you call home.

--

Bryan Cohen is giving away 61 paperback and audio copies of The Post-College Guide to Happiness and a Kindle Fire between now and May 7th, 2012 on The Happiness Blog Tour. All entrants receive a free digital review copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness. Bryan hopes to give away at least 1,000 copies during the blog tour. To enter, post a comment with your e-mail address or send an e-mail to postcollegehappiness (at) gmail.com. Bryan will draw the names at the end of the tour. Entries will be counted through Sunday, May 6th.

Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written nine books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job and his new book, 1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes and Hams for Scripts, Stories and More. His website Build Creative Writing Ideas helps over 25,000 visitors a month to push past writer's block and stay motivated.

Feel free to follow along with the tour at The Happiness Blog Tour Hub Page or on the book's Facebook Page
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Mike Norton's Battlepug

Grade: B (3 Stars) for Mike's graphic novel, releasing July 17th, 2012
The epic tale of blood and drool begins here! Join Molly and her dogs Mingo and Colfax, as she recounts the legend of "The Warrior and the Battlepug" - a tale of a fearless barbarian, his trusty and freakishly large pug, and evil baby harp seals. This volume collects the first year of Mike Norton's Battlepug - the perfect opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the fan-favorite webcomic by Mike Norton, Allen Passalaqua, and Crank
The Story is told to two dogs, Colfax and Mingo, by their owner Molly.


Plus:
Love the interaction between the dogs - super snarky and just like two siblings quarreling.
Also - Happy Killer Baby Seals (tm) are so funny!
What fantastic colours! Highlights are the humour, and terrific artwork. The conan-the-barbarian body and fighting style of our hero on the pug is great to look at!

Minus:

The fable our narrator tells is an over-used plotline. The gathering of a band, the omens and prophecy, were a little too obvious. Perhaps the artwork and design took precedence over plot and storyline? Why did Molly have to narrate while naked? No explanation, aside from the obvious appeal to a male reader.

Overall/Recommended to:
This is MUST read for all pug-owners, naturally. I'm not myself going to read the rest of the comic (available at the website below) right now, the storyline didn't leave me wanting more.
Thanks to NetGalley and Dark Horse comics for the copy to review.


Where to find Battlepug:

On Goodreads
Mike's online ongoing Battlepug comic
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Intangible by J. Meyers

Rated: B+
Author and Title: J.Meyers' Intangible. Here's a teaser:
"It was quiet times like this that she wished she could tell them that she knew what they could do. Knew who they were. But it wasn't entirely hers to tell.
Not yet."
Blurb from Goodreads
Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift. Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it.

Plus: A pretty gripping read, fast-paced with enough action and story. The twins, Sera and Luke, were interesting, though Sera's character gets more prime-time in the book. Intangible's world is one where vampires, fairies and more are on the fringes of society, and at the moment unknown the world at large. I'd be interested in reading a sequel (there were hints at a next book) that dealt with how these paranormal creatures are revealed to the larger audience.

Minus: 
Just a little predictable in the sense that all the characters were who they traditionally are, in paranormal literature. Lilith - Mother of all vampires, a fey called Fey, so on. 
If I had some mad skills at healing or lighting a candle or anything, you can bet that I'd have been checking for limits, starting and stopping at will, minor heals using non-hands, whatever! Sera and Luke don't experiment enough for me.
 

Also, I kept wishing YA books would involve teens talking to their parents a little more. *le sigh*

Quotable paragraph from the book:
"Fey glanced up the street. The siren was getting louder, the ambulance closer. They needed to get out of there before it arrived. Luke was still gazing at the corner where Meghan had disappeared, along with everyone else on the street. Sera, however, was staring at someone farther down the block. Fey turned.
Jonas.
Fey gasped and her eyes widened in alarm. He'd seen it. She was sure of it. Meghan was one of his, and he was staring intently at Sera.
He knew she could heal."
I'd recommend this to: Younger readers or folks new to paranormal stories!
I received an ebook from the author for review
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Read-A-Thon Updates and Mini-challenges

Hour 2 & 7 PM: The second minichallenge - Reading in Translation 

I've read a few translated books (Haruki Murakami, Steig Larsson, Paulo Coelho, Flaubert, etc)
For a book that I'd like to read in the original, I pick the Mahabharata. This is a superlong Indian epic, written in Sanskrit, a language that formed the basis of all Indian languages. It's still taught in schools (rather like Latin).
The Mahabharata and the Ramayana have been translated many times but all translations must necessarily be flavored by both the translator and the times he/she lives in.


8:00 PM/Hour 3: 
Completed the short story Intuition by J.Meyers - I started late and spent the first hour cheerleading other Readathon-ers.
Also, Twitter is pretty distracting!
For my next book, I'm going offline, though still on my laptop. Remember, I'm only reading ebooks this Read-a-thon!



9:30 PM Hour 4: Turn to Page 32 Minichallenge
For this challenge, you must turn to page 32 of the book you are currently reading (or the nearest page with text on it) and find the most entertaining phrase to complete the following sentence:
"I would rather read than ________ any day!"

"I would rather read than seen you promenading through town all covered with the stuff."
--- Page 32 of Emily and the Dark Angel by Jo Bev.

10:30 PM/Hour 5: I've just finished my first book - the fun historical romance "Emily and the Dark Angel" by Jo Beverly
Pages read = 17+191 
Currently Reading = BattlePug by Mike Norton

11:20 PM/Hour 6: Minichallenge Bon Appetit
I'm reading Mike Norton's Battlepug, the graphic novel. Our party would include pets! So the food would be Pedigree dog food, kibbles, chewable toys AND oh yes, adult food - dog-shaped biscuits, and chicken kebabs with cucumber dip from turkey (one of the locations)
Pages read = 17+191 
Currently Reading = BattlePug by Mike Norton & The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by DWJ
Both are incredibly funny!

12:50 PM/Hour 7:
Pages read = 17+191+66
Book Finished = Mike Norton's Battlepug
Thanks to NetGalley for the graphic novel


I'm going to read and then sleep for several hours now, no updates till morning!
Will probably get more done without twitter and other distractions...that is one huge drawback to doing the entire readathon on my laptop only via ebooks and egalleys.


12:20 AM/Hour 18:

I'm amazed at just how much I read in the 12 offline hours - I finished both The Gathering and The Calling by Kelley Armstrong. These are fantastic YA stories written by an author at the top of her game.


A Full Read-a-thon update: 
Reading:The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diane Wynne Jones
Munching: Watermelon juice
Listening: To the grunts and baby noises my two-month old is making as he stretches 

Books finished: Mike Norton's Battlepugs, Kelley Armstrong's The Gathering & The Calling, J. Meyer's Intuitive (short story), Jo Beverly's Emily and the Dark Angel
 
Total pages read: 17+191+66+326+368
Total reading time: 12hrs approx
Total cheer comments: 25-ish

Check out #readathon and @deepratap on twitter for more updates 



2 PM/ Hour 21: Acrostic Minichallenge  
BattlePugs = Bizarre Animal Tales Told in exciting Punny Ultra Good Story!

I'm re-reading Kelley Armstrong's Frostbitten while spending most of time visiting other blogs.

4 PM/Hour 23: MadLib Minichallenge


Taken from Kelley Armstrong's Frostbitten, are a bunch of nouns, verbs etc arranged into the sentence below - 


This ____snow____ is ____icey____! ____Elena____ has never ____paced___ so much. The ____Kelley____ I'm currently ____rumbling____ is ____canine____ and ____freshly___. When this is over, I will ____sniff____ for ____weeks____.
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Read-a-thon 2012 - Ebooks only!

Potential reading titles for the Readathon: 
  1. Kelley Armstrong's The Gathering 
  2. KA's The Calling
  3. Jo Beverly's Emily and the Dark Angel
  4. Diana Wynne Jones - The Tough guide to Fantasyland
  5. Intuition, the short-story prequel to Intangible by J. Meyers (its Free) 
  6. Mike Norton's Battlepug Graphic Novel
BookBox: embed book widget, share book list
 I'm trying to mix it up - Short story, a comic, romance, the inimitable DWJ...though they are ALL ebooks! What other genres could I add to provide some light relief? 

Introductory Hour 1 Challenge
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? 
Manipal, a small town in India

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? 
Probably the Diana Wynne Jones one, but I'm starting off with Jo Beverly's historical romance

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? 
Just went out for ice-cream to kick-start the Readathon!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! 
I have a newborn son to look after, so this Readathon might involve a lot of breaks

5) If you participated in the last Read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? 
My last Read-a-Thon back in Oct'10, when I read 4.5 books and 1,553 pages in 10 hours 
 
I'm a cheerleader - Go Team Puck! See you on the read-a-thon
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Blogger Spotlight #9: Vix the "pads-brat"

Give us an idea of who you are: 
Hmm, i never really know what to say with these things but i’ll try giving it in a nutshell... My name is Viktoria. In the real world i go by ‘Vix’, online it’s either TToria or Vix. 
I’m a twenty-four year old ‘pads-brat’ (army kid) I come from a long line of soldiers and so i’ve moved around a lot! The country closest to my heart is Scotland. I left home at sixteen, travelled around a bit etc then i bumped into my high-school sweetheart. He went to the same armed forces school as me in Germany. We got married and seven years later we’re travelling around (he’s in the army now too) and raising our five year old son :) I’m extremely close to my two sisters, though we all live in separate countries: England, Scotland an Germany. Moving around is a bit of a nightmare when it comes to working and studying. Thank goodness for the internet and the opportunities it brings! Right now my husband, son and I are in England but the two-year posting is finished in June and so we’ll be moving back up to Scotland. 
As most of us book bloggers would say “I’m an avid reader”, and i’ll say the same. It’s an addiction! I tend to steer clear of horrors though, eek. I hope to write my own novel one day, but i think i still have a lot to learn. It’s something that shouldn’t be rushed. 

Describe a typical day:
 My days are pretty unpredictable at the moment. With us moving soon i’m trying to get the house organised and packed while my son is at school. And obviously reading and blogging fits in with that boring stuff too. 

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blogger Tip #2: Checking Blog for dead links

Did you know your blog might have a bunch of dead links that you are still linking to?
The recent Bloggiesta weekend revealed that I hadn't checked for this ever.

To check for dead links, you can go to http://validator.w3.org/checklink

This will check for dead links in your blog, website or any webpage and give you a complete list. When I tried it, I got about 85 links that the site said I had to manually check - most of those were "Tag searches" and worked fine on clicking.
Blogger Tips Series: 
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #48: Intangible

The past few weeks I've been starting and stopping my way through J.Meyers' Intangible. Here's a teaser:
"It was quiet times like this that she wished she could tell them that she knew what they could do. Knew who they were. But it wasn't entirely hers to tell.
Not yet."
If you have a minute, I'm interested in what you think about the DRM battle going on with all publishers.

Really Mini Summary: 
Just a little predictable so far. Wishing YA books would involve teens talking to their parents a little more. *le sigh*
Let me know if you follow this blog, I'll follow back! 
***
To join into the TT fun, visit the link below!
Teaser Tuesdays
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Fictional Birthdays and Lessons learned from fictional romances

The awesome people at Flavorwire have come up with a picture that depicts a fictional character's birthday for each day of the year! You can check who your birthday twin is - is it Sherlock Holmes (Jan6th) Or Severus Snape or James Bond? 

Refinery29 has a neat article on love lessons learned from four fictional men (think Rhett Butler style) - http://www.refinery29.com/love-lessons-fictional-men
Who doesn't have a crush on a fictional character? If not the classic Mr. Darcy, it was probably a dark and stormy Heathcliff, or perhaps a sparkly Edward ? I loved Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing! This article uses TV characters..
Happy Weekend reading!



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Friday, April 13, 2012

The DRM battle is on - what's your take?

DRM is like a keyless pad lock
DRM is like a key-less padlock from Flickr (CC)
The story behind Digital RM is this - DRM is a way for publishers to digitally control how, where and in what format you read a purchased book. For example, if you buy an ebook on the Kindle, and later if you want to read it on your new Nook, it is illegal to convert and read that book, if it is DRM-protected. In actual fact, it is easy enough to transfer it to your computer, convert using calibre and read on any format - pdf, mobi, doc etc.
However, it is illegal to do so for all DRM protected books. 

What does this mean for you?


Publishers use third party software to handle the DRM-locks on your books. If that software or server goes " dark" (shuts down) then the ebooks are gone too, like with Fictionwise ebooks protected by Overdrive software. You keep paper books for years, don't you expect ebooks to do the same?


Interestingly, O'Reilly publishing discovered that sales of their textbooks more than doubled since they dropped DRM books 18+ months ago


Cory Doctorow's view: A Whip to beat us with 
Ebook DRM provider goes dark, the books you paid for disappear
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pinterest now the Third most popular Social site!

Follow Me on PinterestLaunched in March 2010, Pinterest is a now familiar online sight - but far more so now than even 6 months ago.
For myself, I only heard about it a couple of months ago, and then waited for an invite before logging in via twitter. But in those two months (Jan-Feb '12), Pinterest grew by 50%!
Clearly, this image sharing site is a Phenomenon.


Why is it so popular?
Nothing like facebook, it focuses purely on interests
Hobbies, Crafts, Fashion, Home are the widest categories, and what's better than getting to connect with friends on mutual interests? The average pinterest user spends 20 min a day on the site, which is much more than the average time on twitter or facebook.
Why do you use Pinterest? What's your best board? Have you linked your IRL friends on it, via facebook?
For more book-related pinning, go here.


More reading:

Pinterest Is Now the Third Most Popular Social Network in the U.S. (Social times)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #47: The Dance of Time & Free Books!

The past few weeks I've realized just how good at military fiction Eric Flint is. Now, back to the teaser game - Here's a teaser from Eric Flint's The Dance of Time (Belisarius series):
"The Malwa commander took a deep breath; then, slowly, sighed it out. "We can't hold Multan," he said quietly, speaking more to himself than to the lieutenant."
You can read most of Eric's books for free here or buy them from Baen.
How does the publisher give so many books away for FREE you ask? See This post on Baen and their free library.

Really Mini Summary:
Warfare and strategy in a Roman culture - pretty good stuff! Multiple cultures, two strong female protagonists, the decisive and effective Belisarius, and a whole lot of military action. This isn't for the faint-hearted.
Engrossing enough that I'm reading the entire series in a row.

To begin reading, here is the first free book in the Belisarius series, An Oblique Approach.
Let me know if you follow this blog, I'll follow back! 
***
To join into the TT fun, visit the link below!
Teaser Tuesdays
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Chipp Kidd on Book Cover designing - TED talk

The awesome and famous Chipp Kidd gave a TED talk on how he designs book covers - his efforts to convey the story in the cover, or intrigue the reader into buying the book.
If you haven't heard of him, here are some of his most famous cover designs:




Quote from the video:
“A book cover is a distillation. It is a haiku of the story.”
Also, listening to TED talks are pretty interesting way to pass the time! If you click through, don't blame me for the time you spend on the TED website/app on your device!
For more Chipp Kidd designs, the Book Cover Archive is the place to go.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blogger Tip #1: John Updike's Rules for Writing Reviews

The From Picked-up Pieces (1975):
1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.
2. Give him enough direct quotation — at least one extended passage — of the book’s prose so the review’s reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.
 
3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy prĂ©cis [a summary or abridgement]. 
4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending. (How astounded and indignant was I, when innocent, to find reviewers blabbing, and with the sublime inaccuracy of drunken lords reporting on a peasants’ revolt, all the turns of my suspenseful and surpriseful narrative! Most ironically, the only readers who approach a book as the author intends, unpolluted by pre-knowledge of the plot, are the detested reviewers themselves. And then, years later, the blessed fool who picks the volume at random from a library shelf.) 

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #46: the first since my son's arrival!

Aaryan, Week 5

The last months of my pregnancy and My son's arrival derailed my memes on E-volving books. This is him in a rare snoozing session!

Now, back to the teaser game - Here's a teaser from Eric Flint's The Tide of Victory:
"But that order—and its consequences—remain mine to bear. No one else. Nor can I trade it against other consequences, as if ruthlessness was a commodity which can be exchanged in a village market"
You can read most of Eric's books for free here or buy them from Baen.
How does the publisher give so many books away for FREE you ask? See This post on Baen and their free library.
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Monday, April 2, 2012

Early Review & a new Genre: Giant's Beware!

Having a kid means one of the first things I wonder is "What should I read to him?" The obliging people at NetGalley let me request children's books too, so here is the first Children's book review at E-volving Books!
*drumroll please*
Presenting Giant's Beware, a Graphic Novel Written by Jorge Aguirre; illustrated by Rafael Rosado
Goodreads rates it a 4.0
Blurb: "Make way for Claudette the giant slayer in this delightful, fantastical adventure! Claudette’s fondest wish is to slay a giant. But her village is so safe and quiet! What’s a future giant slayer to do?"
Call Giant's Beware a kid's book is possibly a misnomer here, this is a comic for all ages. I for one thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and smiled, giggled and D'awwww-d my way through the graphic novel. The story line is simple enough for anyone to understand, and the graphics are AMAZING!
I'm going to stop talking now and show you a strip from the author's website:


Interesting tidbit: 
The authors/illustrators etc collaborated using DropBox!
To see the first few pages and to Purchase:
 http://us.macmillan.com/giantsbeware/RafaelRosado
Read more at Goodreads
Thanks to NetGalley for the review e-copy. 
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bloggiesta Mini Challenges

Links go to Bloggiesta Mini Challenges I've participated in:
Follow #bloggiesta on my twitter for current commentary!
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Pinterest on Evolving Books!

Mini-challenge #1 from Bloggiesta is Pinterest and linking to my blog:
My pinterest.com/deerao account has been undernourished and I'm going to be linking each blog post to it eventually.
Meanwhile, I need to incorporate pinterest elements into this blog!

*update* Still not done. Here's the button:
 Follow Me on Pinterest
Now if only I can move this button to the side, and have a moving sidebar with ONLY one or two key elements, and perhaps consolidate all my different online pages (Google, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, email) into one group on the right.
*le sigh*
*update*
Yes! Pinterest achieved! Look to the side -->

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