Extra, Extra: Books Bursting with Bonus Content!

Have you ever put down your kindle for the night, thinking that there was still plenty of book left, only to find out the next day that you just had a few more pages to read?

Or, have you ever been excited to see what would happen next in your e-book since you are only 89% of the way through, only to find out that when you swipe to the next page, the book is over?

If so, you have probably been fooled by bonus content. Usually, a book ends and there is a page or two of acknowledgments and a bit about the author, and perhaps an advertisement for other books by the author.

But it seems more and more common now to have other extras included with e-books: book discussion guides, essays by the author, novellas, and sneak peeks of the author’s other works (Leigh Bardugo’s e-book of Shadow and Bone went crazy with this, including SIX full chapters of multiple books). Is this content meant to make readers feel better about the cost of an e-book?

While I loved reading Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, the e-book version that I read had the most bonus content I’ve ever seen. My kindle informed me that the final page of the book was at 82.2%. So what was in the remaining 17.8%?

  • An excerpt from Oliver’s Vanishing Girls novel
  • An excerpt from Oliver’s Replica novel
  • Acknowledgments
  • Two stories set in the world of Before I Fall
  • An essay by the author about the “greatest hits” of her life – a reference from Before I Fall
  • Lists and emails discussing the different title ideas for Before I Fall
  • An alternate cover design for the book
  • A 2009 Letter from the Editor
  • A letter from the author herself
  • Oliver’s interview with actress Zoey Deutch and Director Ry Russo-Young about the film, along with pictures from the set
  • Plus, the usual book ads, praise for the book, About the Author, list of other books by the author, and copyright and publishing information

Was all this necessary? For me, the answer is NO! I understand why bonus materials can be useful at times. I’m sure excerpts of the next book in the series convince some readers to go out and purchase the next book, and sometimes an additional novella can be interesting when you’ve lived within a book so long and you just can’t bear to part with the world. However, more often than not, the bonus material just feels forced and too much like a marketing ploy (though not as much of a ploy as when books get new covers just so you’ll buy multiple versions of the same book…). If the book was great, I’m going to read the next one in the series. If it was a standalone book, I’ll keep the author’s name in mind when I’m in the library or at a bookstore. I don’t need bonus content to pressure me into it.

That’s not to say that all bonus content is bad. For instance, I really enjoyed learning about how Andy Weir’s novel The Martian started out as a challenge for himself about how someone could survive on Mars. He posted the story online, and then turned it into an e-book when there was a lot of interest generated, until it became a huge best-selling novel and a movie. I like learning about the inspiration behind a story and the journey an author has taken to get the story to its end product. Generally, however, bonus content doesn’t add much to my reading experience.

How about you? Are you into bonus material at the end of the books you read? What types of bonus materials do you find the most worthwhile?

Want to Save Money on Books? Use the OverDrive App

For the last two years, I have done most of my reading on my Kindle Fire. You can read about how much I love my Kindle Fire here. While I love print books, it has just been handier and safer to use an e-reader with a baby/toddler around. I find that the Amazon books are fairly priced, plus, if you watch for deals and use your Christmas gift cards correctly, you can watch your spending. Even so, if I had purchased every one of the 50+ books I read last year, I would have probably spent between $500 – $600. So when I found out that I could get digital books for free from my library with the use of the OverDrive App, I was excited to try it out.

overdriveappIf this sounds interesting to you, check with your library to see if they are part of the OverDrive system, and then download the app. The app is available for many different devices: phones, tablets, e-readers, and computers. You can find it here. You need your library card number and password to sign in once the app is on your device. Then you can start browsing for books.

Just like the library, you sometimes have to wait your turn for a book. Even so, you can place holds and create a wish list to remember what books you’re interested in next. I usually have 8 – 10 books on hold at any given time. Sometimes it’s just a few days to wait, and sometimes it takes months. I read some of the biggest books of the year with the help of this app: The Light Between Oceans, The Girl on the Train, The Girls, The Dinner, The Nest, Red Queen, and Winter. Along with e-books, you can also rent audio books and videos. You choose either 7, 14, or 21 days for your rentals and then the content disappears from your device when the time is up.

OverDrive is easy to use and a great app for book lovers. I highly recommend it.

What bookish apps would you recommend?

Current Read: Yes Please

imageI’ve read fifty books so far this year and they all had one thing in common: they were works of fiction. This week’s book, however, breaks the mold. Yes Please by Amy Poehler is my one and only nonfiction title this year.

Goodreads Book Blurb:

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

I enjoyed Poehler on SNL and I think she’s really smart and funny, but this book is a little disappointing. As I read Yes Please on my Kindle Fire, I highlighted some lines I thought were funny. I was going to quote them here for you to show how smart and funny Poehler is, but when I went back to re-read them, they weren’t really that great. The book in general is not all that humorous, but if it wasn’t meant to be, then what was the goal of this book? She whines a lot about how hard it is to write a book and her stories (chapters?) often go in strange directions that leave me wondering what the lesson or the point of it all was. What am I supposed to get out of it?image

Poehler tells a little about growing up in a normal loving family where she had to create her own drama, learning about comedy in Chicago, honing her craft in New York, memories from her days at SNL, being pregnant and giving birth, hints at divorcing Will Arnett, includes tons of name dropping, and drug use. Yes, drugs. Poehler throws it in so casually (and frequently), as if it’s no big deal. I was rather surprised by it and it didn’t sit well with me. Maybe she lives in a world where recreational drug use is common, but that’s not true for my world.

There were some funny lines and anecdotes scattered throughout the book, but I preferred Tina Fey’s Bossypants to Poehler’s book, hands down. In all, it didn’t feel like Poehler wanted to write this book, so it felt forced and perhaps published before it was ready. It lacked some of the lightness, quirkiness, and exuberance I associate with Poehler. Ho hum. Maybe next year I’ll find a nonfiction book I like better!

Have you read Yes Please? What did you think of it?

Reading Reflections


I may be reading less than before baby arrived, but I’m glad I can still find time to read (what else would I do during a 4am feeding?!). Thanks to my Kindle Fire, I’m able to keep reading. Have I mentioned how much I love my Kindle Fire? Baby occupies one arm while eating, so I can hold my Kindle in the opposite hand. It’s so much easier to scroll rather than having to hold a printed book and turn pages one-handed. My husband bought me a hardcover book for Valentine’s Day- thoughtful- but I haven’t figured out how I’m going to hold the book and baby at the same time! Instead, I’ve been devouring Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels lately.

Back in January, I set a much more reasonable goal for my 2015 Goodreads challenge. I read 50 books last year, and I know there’s no way I can do that this year (unless I count all the little board books and children’s books I read with my sweet baby – but that seems like cheating!). My goal is to read 30 books. We’ll see how that goes! So far, I’m on track, and completing those Outlander books is no small feat.

What I’m Currently Reading:
Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #4)

  • I really loved the previous novel in the Outlander series, Voyager, but this one feels a little slower to me. I’m hoping the action and intrigue will pick up soon. The characters in these novels are so wonderfully formed. I love the historical fiction mixed with tastefully-written time travel. I was skeptical when I finally decided to start reading Outlander, but I love the saga of Claire and Jamie and I look forward to reading the entire eight book series.

What Baby is Currently Reading:
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, Illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees

  • We love the sing-song rhythm of Giraffes Can’t Dance and the adorable story about a gawky giraffe named Gerald. Poor Gerald gets laughed at by the other jungle animals because of his inability to dance. A cricket gives him the advice “Sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” Gerald finds that he can dance in his own way. The illustrations are colorful and lively. We read this book just about every day!

What are you reading right now? Has anyone else read the Outlander novels? What did you think of them?

Spring Break Book Haul


This spring, a good friend and I decided that we were sick of our never-ending winter and that we deserved a tropical vacation! We booked a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, where we planned to read on the plane, read by the pool, and read by the beach. In preparation for the trip, I purchased three books. I thought I would finish two books on my trip—and, at the very least one—but I was a bit ambitious apparently. I didn’t even finish one book! We had really quick layovers, so we didn’t end up reading in the airport, and I spent a lot of time people watching at the beach instead (cute kids, couples who didn’t seem like they would have ended up together, and women in bikinis who maybe shouldn’t have been in bikinis!). I bought The King’s Deception as a paperback so I could read on the beach. I got the furthest in this book—making it to page 260 by the end of our trip. I purchased Cress and Children of Liberty for my Kindle Fire, thinking I would use it on the plane and in the hotel. I got through a few chapters of Cress, but didn’t even touch the other novel. Here’s a little more about my vacation book haul:

  1. The King’s Deception by Steve Berry

Steve Berry is one of my favorite authors and I’ve talked about his books in other posts. This 2013 thriller intertwined with an historical conspiracy doesn’t disappoint. In this novel, Cotton Malone and his teenage son are headed to Europe—but, of course, nothing ever goes smoothly in Malone’s world. He stumbles into a CIA operation and diplomatic showdown involving a mystery about the true identity of Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch. The situation is dangerous, and with his son involved as well, Malone has to stay a step ahead to uncover the truth of the King’s Deception. Read an excerpt of the novel here.

  1. Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series, following Cinder and Scarlet. The novel brings back all our favorite characters from the previous books (Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, Iko, and Emperor Kai), while introducing us to some new ones. Cress has been trapped in a satellite since her childhood by a Lunar thaumaturge. With nowhere to go and no one to talk to, Cress spends her day surfing netscreens, hacking computers, and spying on Earth. Her orders are to track down Cinder, but Cress has second thoughts about this. Meanwhile, Cinder and her fellow fugitives are trying to figure out how to overthrow the evil Queen Levana and her plans to invade Earth. Their attempt goes horribly wrong and the wedding between Queen Levana and Emperor Kai is less than two weeks away. Can Cinder and Cress figure out how to save Earth in time? If you haven’t read Cinder or Scarlet, be sure to check them out. Read excerpts of the novels here.

  1. Children of Liberty by Paullina Simons

Paullina Simons blew me away with the Bronze Horseman trilogy (I should really talk about the trilogy in a future post), so I was excited to read another book by this author. Simons brings us a prequel novel which tells the story of Alexander’s parents. Gina journeys from Italy to Boston to find a better life. There, she meets Harry Barrington, and thus begins their story of love and heartache. This novel is followed up by Bellagrand, a continuation of their saga.

What type of books do you like to read on the beach or on vacation?

Entry #17 — Electronic Readers:


Entry #17 — Electronic:  Do you e-book it up on a Kindle or Nook? Read on your phone? How you get your reading fix when paper volumes aren’t involved.

When I first saw advertisements for Nooks, Kindles, and other e-readers, I was skeptical.  Why would someone give up turning pages and perusing the bookshelves of a library or bookstore?  I didn’t think I wanted an e-reader and tried my best to stay away.

But when I saw the Kindle Fire, my thinking started to change.  It lights up, so I could read in the dark and on car trips while my husband drives, I could take multiple books on vacation without sacrificing space in my bag, I could decrease the number of heavy books I’ll inevitably have to move someday!  Suddenly, it made a lot of sense.  I’d been a loyal Barnes & Noble customer for years, but the Kindle Fire was more appealing to me than a Nook.  When I opened my Kindle Fire on Christmas Eve a few years ago, I plugged it in right away and haven’t stopped using it since!

My parents have a Kindle Fire and I don’t think it hardly ever gets used, but I use mine every single day.  It has some useful apps, I can check my e-mail quickly, I can easily view facebook, I can download music and video, and I can download books from my local library on it.  When I wake up, I check my e-mail and facebook for updates.  While I shower, I have music blasting from Pandora, I heart radio, or music I’ve downloaded, I listen to a TV show or book on CD while I do my make-up, and I read a book on it while I eat breakfast—you would not believe how much use I get out of my Kindle!

The only downfalls of the Kindle are

1) It doesn’t function well in bright light, like the beach.  I can’t see the screen at all when I wear my sunglasses.

2) I’d love to be able to print from it, but I don’t think it’s possible (please correct me if I’m wrong!).

3) I use it so much that I have to charge it just about every day.

Other than that, I’m in love with my Kindle Fire.  I was joking around with my husband and said that if something happened to my Kindle, I would cry and would immediately have to buy a new one.  But that’s not really much of a joke, because that’s exactly how I would react!

Books are easy to download from Amazon’s website.  I create a wish list of books that I want and keep track of the prices.  When there’s a good deal (or I have a gift card) I make some purchases.  The prices on Kindle editions are a lot better than printed books.  I’ve also downloaded some of the free Kindle books—but those are hit or miss.  Sometimes I stumble upon a good book, and sometimes it’s a book that is full of grammatical errors.  I give up on those pretty quickly.

The best way to get e-books is through my local library.  My library is part of the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium and uses Overdrive for downloadable material such as books, audiobooks, and music.  By signing in with your library card, you can search a large library of material.  You can create a wish list and set up holds.  Sometimes there will be many copies of a book, and at other times there may only be one or two copies of a book.  I read Gone Girl, Dark Places, Sharp Objects, Shanghai Girls, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, The Madman’s Daughter, and several other great books on my Kindle recently.  Unlike the library where you typically have about three weeks to read and return a book, the online library gives you either 7 or 14 days (you decide at the time of your download).  If you don’t read the book within the time frame, it disappears from your device and you have to check it out again if you want to finish it (on a better note—all of your bookmarks, notes, and highlights are saved if you ever check it out again or purchase it from Amazon).  If you have a Kindle, definitely check with your library to see if they have something like Overdrive for downloading e-books.  I read a lot, so purchasing books can get really expensive.  Free is always wonderful!

For those of you who have e-readers, how do you get your e-books?