Monday, January 31, 2011

Goodreads, FTW!

For about a year I've seen references to the Goodreads website on a message board I peruse regularly.  I've contemplated setting up an account, but I never really understood what they were all about.  A few days ago, in a moment of boredom, I bit the bullet, signed up and immediately loved the whole experience.  I set a goal for myself to read 100 books in 2011.  In addition to helping maintain that goal, the site keeps track of books I have read, am currently reading, and would like to read - someday.  No more going to the bookstore, picking up a book, and musing to myself, "Hmmm, have I read this already?"  I still can't figure out if I ever read The Devil Wears Prada.

Anyway, I found out yesterday about this feature where you can enter to win free books, several of which are Advanced Reader Copies.  The point is if you win a book you read it right away and write a review of it.  You're not obligated to write a review, but it helps get the word out about the book and helps people who are considering reading it whether or not to do so.  There were several pages of books listed, so I spent some time going through and entering for the ones I thought I would like to read.  Most of them only have one to five copies available and over one thousand people wishing for it, so I really didn't think I had a chance to win any of them.

But then, there it was in my e-mail this morning!  I'd won a book!  The book is not set to be released until tomorrow and by the time I get it (in four to six weeks according to the site) it will no longer be an advanced copy, but I'm still so excited!  I would love to do this on a regular basis - receive books before their release date and review them.  Wouldn't that be the best job ever?  Well, for a reader like me it would be.  If I could get paid for this I could do what I love best and my husband would stop hounding me to get a job.

The novel I won is called A Billion Reasons Why, written by Kristin Billerbeck.  I found a few reviews already online of the book, some have loved it and one really, really hated it.  But I'm just going to have to wait four to six weeks to read and decide for myself.  I will definitely let you know what I think!

The Princess Diaries

The Princess Diaries
Meg Cabot
Publisher: Harper Teen
228 pages
Source: Bought it for myself

Read a summary of the book from Goodreads here.

When I reviewed Size 12 Is Not Fat I mentioned that I hadn't put together that Meg Cabot had also written The Princess Diaries.  While I had not read any of the novels in that series, I love the movies, so I assumed to myself that the book must also be good.  The next day while perusing Barnes & Noble after our tax rebate came (woo!) I hunted out the book and decided to buy it.  I devoured it the next day.

The novel was just as good as the movie, but in a very different way.  It became obvious quickly that the movie covers the span of several of The Princess Diaries books, not just the first one.  By the end of the first novel you're only about halfway through the movie, with some significant differences.  To compare  I have to make some minor spoilers, so keep that in mind before reading on.

The first difference the reader comes across is that Mia's father is not dead in the book.  Instead, he's had cancer and can no longer conceive children.  The other major difference is Mia's relationship with her Grandmother.  In the movies they have a charming relationship and as the movie progresses they become close friends and confidants.  This is certainly not the case in the first novel, in which Mia dislikes spending time around her uptight grandmother and dreads what will happen when "Grandmère" arrives in the States shortly after Mia's father's announcement that she is a princess.

Mia grapples with her new identity just as she does in the movie and her friends have the same personalities as the movie, with the addition of a new friend, Tina Hakim Baba, who was one of my favorite characters; probably because she reminded me a lot of myself when I was high school - minus the wealth and body guard.

I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style of the book.  As the title suggests, it is written in the form of Mia's diary.  I loved reading her thoughts not only on the new big twist in her life, but also the other things she put in her diary, like her homework assignment from Grandmère and the random bits of Algebra notes. There's just something great about the guilty pleasure of reading someone's diary, even if they are a fictional character.  The only problem with this format is that Mia spends a lot of time writing in it.  She takes it everywhere with her and some of her entries are so long they don't seem like a real diary entry.  She took it with her to a school dance and wrote a long entry during dinner.  Wouldn't have anyone noticed she'd been in the bathroom for so long?  Apparently not.

Overall I loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading the following books at some point.  I'd love to see how the rest of the series compares to the movies we all love.