News, Thoughts and Opinions

New and more comprehensive ways to make room in the book budget.

No, this post isn’t exactly about books. But, making room in a budget is somewhat crucial to the process for most of us. So, I have been experimenting.

For one thing, I have been using the heck out of my library cards. And being able to get a card for the Houston Public Library (which any Texas resident can get for free) gave me access to a rather large digital catalog. Plus, checking out library books at midnight while wearing no pants has always been a dream of mine.

I’ve also found a way to rack up $5.00 Amazon giftcards pretty quickly with Bing Rewards. Pro-tip: hold off redeeming until you have Gold Status. I’ve made about $30 in the past 5 months, and frankly I am kind of lazy with it.

Another way I’ve managed is by saving or making money on the things I have to do anyway, most notably grocery shopping. There are so many options out there.

Here are the apps I use:

Ibotta

This seems to be the most successful app for people. You unlock offers by performing small tasks, then when you shop at specified stores you scan the items you purchased and then take a picture of your receipt to upload. When they have verified the items they credit your account. When you have reached at least $10.00 in rebates, you can cash out for things like Amazon gift cards. What sets this program apart from the others is the $2.00 referral bonus you can get when someone signs up with your code and redeems their first rebate (full disclosure that link up there puts me as your referrer, but you can just ask a family member or friend for their referral link if you really wanted), and the team activities. Basically your team is made up of everyone who signed up with your referral code, and all your Facebook friends. And each month there are team activity bonuses that make you extra money. The easiest way to do this is to have a lot of friends who are active using Ibotta, and there are a ton of people out there who are thrilled to be Facebook friends with someone else who is active. Check for Ibotta Facebook groups and the like for people to friend request. Pro-tip: If they are only Ibotta friends, make a Facebook list for Ibotta friends, and then add these people to your Ibotta List, Restricted, and then unfollow them. It keeps your Facebook account uncluttered.

Checkout51

Checkout51 is similar to Ibotta, except there are no referral bonuses or teams, and they don’t have as many items, but they do usually have produce and they don’t require specific stores.

Snap

Snap is Groupon’s version of the previous two apps. It has small selections, and the rebates don’t just expire, they can be used up, so you need to be fast. But it frequently duplicates Checkout51’s items, and there is not specific store requirement. There is also a referral bonus, but it is only $1.00. (Full disclosure-that link is for my referral code)

Receiptpal

This app you just scan receipts, basically any receipt though it works better with shorter ones. Earning are much slower to accrue, but it does make a handy space to keep copies of your receipts. And, you can cash out for an Amazon gift card.

Wal-Mart Savings Catcher

This app only works if you shop at Wal-Mart. basically, instead of you bringing in adds for them to price match, you scan your receipt and then they check for you and credit your account. Results are kind of mixed with this, but if you are shopping at Wal-mart, there is absolutely no reason not to do this. Plus the app lets you look at prices for things, so it is handy when you are shopping at other stores.

And the really nice thing, is you can use the same receipt for all of these programs. Of course this only works if you are only using them for things you would have bought anyway, OR if you get them ridiculously cheap, or free, or even make money on them. And this is edging into extreme couponing territory, but there are plenty of places besides the circulars and Sunday newspaper where you can get coupons.

Coupons.com

RedPlum

Common Kindness

Krazy Coupon Lady

And check your local stores, because some of them have coupons to print or other offers. I frequently shop at HEB which has an email you can sign up for that sends you great coupons like for produce and meats, and they have manufacturer’s coupons you can print. HEB also has in store coupons that are frequently amazing, but since it isn’t a national store I didn’t want to spend too much time on it.

So this is just what I do. Anyone else out there doing anything different? Do you have any suggestions?

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4 star review

Review – Way of the Serpent by Donna Birdwell

Way of the Serpent

I received a copy of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m acquainted with this author as she is a former professor of mine. This fact may indeed be influencing my opinions and the content of this review, however, if that is so, it would be to make me harsher than usual. Tough classes breed tough critics, and who has never wanted to be the one to critique their teacher’s works?

When Jenda Swain – youthful and vigorous at the age of 111 – encounters an incongruously old woman at an out-of-the-way café, her life veers in a new direction amid unsettling questions about her own identity and her role in the corporation-dominated culture of 2125. Her journey takes her into the arms of a Latino artist, who has a quest of his own. Answers come together as their world falls apart.

So starts the beginning of what I am told is to be a series, the next one which may be coming out Spring 2016.

So what happens when everyone can live for practically ever? In literature it is almost always a cautionary tale, because there simply must be a trade off of some sort. Somehow I feel that when we get to that point in our medical revolution we will race forwarded with no real thoughts to the outcomes, just as people in this world have done.

Jenda Swain lives in a post-apocalyptic world, though few know that this is so, as the end of all they knew came gently and everything seemed for the good. The trade off for longevity and eternal health doesn’t seem so dire. Merely your memories, but that isn’t so bad, because technology once more evolved to rescue them. Imagine if Facedbook was where you went to store all your memories, imagine then that with all this power, government and governance was a mere shadow and corporations are the real power. That last part doesn’t seem so far fetched at the moment, to be honest.

But this is the world Jenda lives and works in. She is a cog in the machine of exomemories, until that chance encounter mentioned in the blurb sends her spiraling off her pre-planned and narrowly defined life.

So what did I think of this book? It was very interesting. I enjoyed the wheels within wheels conspiracies and the intricate ways different plot threads were woven together to form a rich albeit care worn and oft mended tapestry. And Jenda’s emotional turmoil at discovering the lie that is her life,  that was believable and engaging, as was her relationship with Luis. What I struggled with was how the story was told, with much telling and less showing, and much of that in Jenda’s head, and she seemed so removed from many of the events. This puts the reader at a slight remove, watching the events of the story unfold instead of feeling immersive. But the way the author blended components of a morality play with a mystery and a thriller was all but riveting. The sum of the whole was greater than its parts, much like human memory, so while the way the story was written may have not have been to my preferences, the story itself absolutely was and was what kept me racing through it.

In retrospect, I suspect the stylistic choices were purposeful and were likely a mirror and commentary on the events of the story itself. It just wasn’t, as I said, my preference. But that ending though was amazing and emotional. I almost wish I had waited to read this until the sequel comes out early 2016 so that I can binge read and find out what happens next.

Fortunately dear readers, I did not and am able to tell you about it while this book is currently on sale for the holidays so check it out.

Way of the Serpent
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5 star review, News

Sweep in Peace Release Day Giveaway Winner

Clean SweepSweep in Peace

And the winner is…….

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. And if you didn’t win, I hope I have done a good enough job of extolling this series’ virtues that you’ll consider picking them up for yourself.

And, as an added bonus, it looks like the first book, Clean Sweep, is on sale for $1.99 for a limited time.

And I just wanted to thank all of you, who made this my best giveaway ever. Almost 600 people signed up, which is huge for me. And thanks for all the fun comments, I appreciate every one of you.

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Thoughts and Opinions

Making room in my budget for books: Part 2

Reading, especially if you are voracious, can be a remarkably expensive hobby. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I am perfectly willing to find ways to make the cost less onerous, or to squeeze money out of other parts of my budget. So here’s a run down of most of the things I have included in my day to day habits to help finagle my finances.

OpenLibrary is a free online library open to quite literally anyone with an internet connection and the ability to use AdobeDRM. Handy tip: never get the epub, always stick with the PDF. The selection is bizarre, but there are some true out of print gems in there.

I’ve also finally renewed my library card and am using Overdrive. My library’s selection is hit or miss, but a book I don’t have to pay for is a different book I can purchase some other time. And an online library is a library that doesn’t require pants, which is always a bonus.

I also started using apps and online printable coupons. There were quite a few on that last post, but I have added a couple more.

For Texas specific residents who shop at HEB, there is now an app, and there are digital coupons. A few key things to remember, when you buy something that you have a digital coupon for, if you also give them a paper coupon they will ALWAYS default to the paper coupon, even if it is worth less. Also, this means no doubling of store and manufacturer’s coupons. However, and this is key, HEB does some really cool things with their coupons, like $2 off an $8 purchase of produce, or meat, or seafood. There are even coupons for things like bread and milk. So there are coupons for things you almost always buy but almost never get coupons for. Pairing the app/digital coupons with the email newsletter ones has resulted in some pretty incredible shopping deals. I have to eat, but at least now I don’t have to spend quite as much. Plus, it has a grocery list feature and lets you add things to your list from the sale ads. It doesn’t let you add things to your grocery list from the coupons list yet, nor does it take you to the coupons directly (grocery IQ is better for this), but if you add an item that does have a coupon it will highlight it to let you know you can go “clip” that coupon.

The other new app I have added is Shopkick (disclaimer: that will link to my referral code). This is an odd app and I had been resistant to getting it. Basically, you get points for walking into stores that offer “kicks”, for scanning specific items, and for linking your credit card and purchasing from specific stores (this last one I have not done). There is not an amazon giftcard option or a cash option, so you can’t directly buy books with your savings, but it is a relatively painless way to earn giftcards for stores like Macy’s, Starbucks, or a variety of other places.

So this is where I’m at in the budget finagling. Anyone else have any suggestions?

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Uncategorized

Sale – Shelly Laurenston

I believe it is very clear by now that I have big, big love for Shelly Laurenston, no matter her pen name and series. Whether it is her Dragon Kin Series under her pseudonym G.A. Aiken, or her newer series Call of the Crows. But the series that started my obsessive love was the Pack Pride Series. And for a limited time books 2-4 are on sale for $1.99 each. Fortunately, book 1 isn’t really the best book in the series, and you can start with book 2 with no fear of being lost, the overall series arc doesn’t even start until book 4 any way.



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