Friday, 27 August 2010

New Giveaway - 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

Another book giveaway is well overdue, so here it is!! This time we are giving away a secondhand copy of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: A Comprehensive Reference Source, Chronicling the History of the Novel (edited by Peter Boxall). I have a well-used copy of this book on my shelf complete with labels marking the books I've read. I'm ashamed to say that despite my best intentions I have only read about 45 of the books listed. I better get a wriggle on if I have any hope of finishing the list before I kick the bucket.

To enter our book giveaway just leave a comment that includes the book you recommend everyone should read before they die. Read the following information to see how you can earn bonus entries.

Bonus Entries
+1 Entry = Follow our Blog 
+1 Entry = Liking the Ambire Secondhand Books Page on Facebook (Click here to do so!!)
+1 Entry = Following us on Twitter (Click here to do so!!)
+2 Entries = Provide a Link to our Giveaway on Your Blog
NB: If you're eligible for bonus entries, make sure you let us know when you leave your comment!!

Entries are open until 5pm EST on Friday 10th September. The competition is open to residents of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and the UK. The winner of the competition will be announced on Monday 13th September. Good luck to everyone!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

BOOK PACKAGING - Brand New or Recycled - Help Please!!

Since opening my store in 2001, I have always packaged books for mail-out using recycled cardboard and bubble wrap. I make sure that whatever we use is clean and durable enough to protect the books on their journey through the post (which is often a bumpy one). My philosophy has always been that if we can use recycled packing material then we are not only reducing the end cost for the buyer, but also the environmental impact of our business. In almost 10 years of operation, we have received no complaints about this packaging method.

The only negative I see with using recycled materials is that upon opening their parcel the buyer is not presented with visually appealing packaging. Let's face it, recycled cardboard and bubble wrap can look a little scruffy. The only solution to this negative impression that I can come up with is to have a small sticker made to put on the packaging highlighting the environmental benefit of using recycled materials (and my logo of course).

After some web surfing, I've noticed that among my secondhand bookselling counterparts there are some pretty extreme views on packaging. Most believe that brand new packaging is best as it leaves the buyer with the best buying experience. However, I wonder whether in a climate change conscious world my little sticker might, in fact, pack more punch.

So I thought I'd ask your thoughts on the matter. What kind of impression would recycled packaging have on you if you opened such a parcel? Is my sticker idea a good one? All feedback, pro or con, is welcome and thanks in advance for helping me out.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Book Review - The Hand That First Held Mine (by Maggie O'Farrell)

I'm going to get straight to the point here and announce that I was pretty underwhelmed by The Hand That First Held Mine. After rave reviews by members of my book club of O'Farrell's earlier novel The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, I was really excited to sink my teeth into the work of a new author. This excitement soon dwindled as it took me six weeks to struggle through the books uninspiring 341 pages.

The book is at once the story of young Lexie Sinclair and her short but bright life in 1950s Soho with the flamboyant Innes Kent, and the story of present day couple, Elina and Ted, grappling with the birth of their first child. Right from the beginning we know that somehow these two stories are intertwined. We flit and float between these four characters and their support cast as O'Farrell gradually feeds us the clues that link these two stories together, until the bombshell is inevitably dropped at the end.

The story itself is relatively fluid, but I could sense the author working at trying to deceive us. For example, we never know what really happened to Elina when giving birth and I wonder whether the author only includes her post-partum depression to throw us off the scent. As a result, there are a few loose ends by the books conclusion.

But it's the blend of story and character that really made this book a chore for me. From the very beginning of the novel I felt detached from the characters, as if I was gazing on them from afar, with little concern or care. Maybe this was the author's intention as Lexie, Innes, Elina and Ted all become detached from the world and their loved ones in some way or another throughout the course of the book. But, if it was the author's intention, it certainly didn't endear me to them or the story. This detachment juxtaposed with the connections the book is trying to make between characters spread 50 years apart is a contradiction that left me feeling a little confused.

The predominant theme of the book is motherhood and it's this that links the stories of Elina and Lexie. O'Farrell uses the time settings to identify both the similarities and differences of motherhood over the generations. I read one review that described the book as an ode to motherhood and I'd have to agree. The one strength of the book is O'Farrells understanding of a mother's love in all it's guises and permutations. However, this doesn't save the book for me. The book explores motherhood among other common themes including love, betrayal, revenge and loss, but there's nothing new here, not even in the delivery. (2 Stars)

If you are a fan of Maggie O'Farrell's work and want to give The Hand That First Held Mine a try for yourself, you can purchase a secondhand copy from our website by clicking here - Buy Now!!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

We've Won a Versatile Blog Award - Yay!!

Feed Your Reading Habit has just won our first ever Versatile Blogger Award (actually it's our first blog award full stop....but there's no need to quibble). A big thanks to The Book Bee for bestowing us with this wonderful honour. The best thing about this award is that it exposes all of us in the wide world of blogging to new and previously undiscovered book blog treasures. The award requires the recipient to: thank and link back to the blog that granted you the award; share 7 interesting things about yourself; bequeath the award to another 15 deserved blogger's; and contact the award recipients to let them know of their achievement. Quite frankly it's just one big self-promotion masquerading as a warm and fuzzy moment, but I love it!! So here are 7 interesting things about me. You'll recognise I've stuck with the booky theme.
  1. I don't own an e-reader and don't want to, but I secretly want to try one out just so I can report how trully despicable they are from a well informed point of view.
  2. My favourite place to read is in the bath with a glass of wine and as my current bathroom renovation is denying me this pleasure I am suffering a reading drought.
  3. My secondhand bookstore is breeding Reader's Digest Condensed Books that no-one wants (even for 50 cents) so I am planning on making a coffee table out of them.
  4. My husband congratulated himself on buying me an early edition of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for our 'Paper' wedding anniversary. I don't have the heart to tell him that his $150 investment is only Volume 1 of the set.
  5. My struggle with the Russian surnames in Anna Karenina have resulted in me trying to read this classic novel 5 times with no success. I am planning the next assault in a month or two.
  6. The book that I never fail to recommend to everyone is We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It'll blow you away!!
  7. Last but not least I confess to being a book vandal. Shock, horror, gasp of disbelief!! I dog-ear them, fill them with notes and inscriptions, spill coffee over them, shove them carelessly in my bag, bend the spines back, and use them as coasters. As far as I'm concerned a book absorbs part of the reader and I make sure I leave my mark and give every one a character injection of my own.
Now that you know a little bit more about my reading quirks, here are a couple of blogs I am awarding my Versatile Blog Awards to (in no particular order). Check them out!!
  1. Suz's Space Blog
  2. Stuck In a Book
  3. The True Book Addict
  4. Miss Snark, the literary agent - (Miss Snark no longer posts, but it's still a great blog!!)
  5. LiteraryMinded
  6. Fly the Falcon
  7. BookHounds
  8. Bibliophile Bullpen
  9. The Book Bee
  11. Terra On the Bookshelf
  12. The Book Buff
  13. The Mumpsimus
  14. LibraryThing
Enjoy perusing our award winners!!